Dan Savage Strikes Again

An amazing op-ed by Dan Savage in yesterday’s NY Times.

“What the New York and Washington opinions share — besides a willful disregard for equal protection clauses in both state Constitutions — is a heartless lack of concern for the rights of the hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples.”

I’ve been embarassed to be a resident of NY State since the ruling. We can do better.


Tonight I finished my last revision of Chapter 7, and coincidentally Victor/Victoria was on PBS, and I happened to catch it right from the beginning. People will be surprised to hear that I’ve never seen it before. (Though no-one should be, I keep saying that I just don’t like movies, and I think I saw Chariots of Fire that year instead, because I really do see only a few a year.)

I can see how utterly shocking this movie must have seemed in 1982 when it was released. But I can’t see Julie Andrews passing at all; I mean she’s Julie Andrews! The hills are alive and all that.

But the romantic subplot (or is that the main plot?) with James Garner is – well, dumb. But at least it’s not one long homophobic joke… except it is. There’s also just something creepy about the way it’s all so ‘demimonde packaged for the suburbs’ too, which is beginning to tire me. The scenes of them trying to navigate public spaces as a gay couple are hurting my brain.

“I guess the problem is that we’re not really two guys.” UGH. My crazy bet is that she’s going to choose to drop the act and become properly gendered so they can be together. Am I right? (It’s not over yet, still on while I’m typing.)

And why a Polish count? Are Polish folks just considered genderqueer or something? I’m starting to think so. I have very little idea as to how this movie was received, and I’m sure most of you have seen it, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, initial reactions, etc.

When the Media Gets It Wrong

I was researching some issues tonight concerning journalism and the proper use of pronouns and discovered that the NLGJA (National Lesbian & Gay Journalists’ Association) have a Rapid Response Task Force whose job it is to target any form of media that’s getting a story wrong about LGBT people.

From their site:

NLGJA’s members and staff work daily with our colleagues in the news industry to fulfill the organization’s mission of fair and accurate coverage. Sometimes, though, a more targeted response is required to promote greater understanding about how to fairly and accurately cover the LGBT community.

NLGJA’s answer to this is the Rapid Response Task Force. This panel of working journalists from mainstream and LGBT media answers complaints about reporting seen as unfair and/or inaccurate by readers, viewers, listeners and our peer journalists around the country. Since its inception, the Rapid Response Task Force has not only informed countless newsrooms about appropriate terminology and the appearance of bias, but has also used these contacts to spread awareness about issues facing the LGBT community.

And they encourage you to submit stories that you feel included unfair or inaccurate coverage. So you can do something besides gripe on the message boards!

Really, No Pressure

First I want to apologize to two people who know who they are.

Second I want to explain that this week has been sheer hell for me. Not long ago an author friend of mine reminded me that second books are looked at critically – you know, separating the one-hit wonders from the career types critically. That, plus the fact that I’m talking about things in this new book I barely ever wanted to talk to Betty about, and bringing up political problems between transness and feminism. Basically, I’ve got a lot on the line, and this Tuesday I hand it all in. So in the meantime I’m smoking too much and eating too much and sitting too much.

So please pardon me if I’m a little crankier than usual. I just can’t wait to weigh myself on Sunday and find out that for the first time since March, I will have missed my target weight. That’ll be a blast, really.

Study: Aeneas, Part 7


I’m pretty sure he really does know I’m taking his picture.

Does Gingko Biloba Count?

As a substance, I mean? Because if so, I’m going to wind up with a major substance abuse problem I’ll develop in the next week.

Knowing you’re reviewing the final drafts for the copyeditor is nerve-wracking. The feeling that I will not be able to make any changes at a later date is enough to shut my brain down entirely. But at the same time, the book is already in good shape, it feels done, and only this nit-picky stuff needs doing. Still, it burns your eyeballs out.

Betty may regret ever having married a writer after this week.

The Photo Shoot

I’m not putting up any of the possible book cover photos – that would be cheating! – but there are some other shots that we took that I thought I’d share. Last time around media folks seemed to want photos of us together, so for publicity’s sake I had our photographer take some of us together.

It was a pretty nutty experience all around, and almost nothing like the shoot for the MHB cover. For starters, we already knew the photographer (she was our wedding photographer, actually) and she took my author headshots not long ago. It was all around less tense, with fewer wardrobe changes, and with no art director on hand. It seems important to point out that these are not the best of the lot; I’m saving those.

So there you go. Our next job is to pick our favorites that were shot for the cover & send them on to the design team at Seal. As soon as there’s a cover, I’ll be putting it up here so you can all get a look-see.

Photo Betty

Today we went to our favorite photographer’s studio and took a bunch of photos – one of which will become the cover of She’s Not the Man I Married. I don’t have any previews just now – we’ll get some of the photos tomorrow – but it was a very interesting experience. Our favorite salon here in Brooklyn did hair and makeup, and quite wonderfully: even my flat, straight hair seemed like it had body. Betty looked truly beautiful.

At one point when we were nearly done, and Betty was still in the make-up chair, and a few other women were waiting around, the makeup artist said something (accidentally) about “Jason,” clearly indicating she was talking about the woman in her makeup chair, and I watched the double and triple takes on the parts of the awaiting ladies.

But I do want to confirm that Betty does not enjoy having her picture taken. The photographer and I had our work cut out for her us trying to get her to relax. Afterwards, when we were going to dinner, I laughed at how obviously physical her tension had been, because her jaw was in a different place than it has been for days.

Betty tried three outfits; I tried two. We’ll see: fingers crossed.

Random Factoid

Currently, there are 163 endnotes to the new book.

Boys’ Dolls

According to this week’s Harper’s Weekly Review,

British scientists found that playing with dolls can help improve Alzheimer’s patients’ communication abilities.

So maybe we should let the boys have a shot at them, too, no?

Math I Like

Not long ago I was looking for a photo of – you know, I don’t remember what. But I happened upon this photographic math equation*, because – well, maybe that’s obvious. But I didn’t quite get what Buster was doing there.

But then we saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest the other night, and suddenly it made perfect sense. It’s one of the only movies I’ve seen where the sight gags might have impressed Buster; my favorite was probably the Jack Sparrow Shishkabob, but the running cage was damned brilliant, too. But once I saw the water wheel, I *knew* there was a Buster Keaton fan working on the stunts. You just don’t use a water wheel (or drop the side of a house on someone) unless you intend to conjure up Buster.

But even better is that Betty’s got Jack Sparrow’s accent nearly down: “I love those moments… I like to wave at them as they go by.” Anyway, go see it. It’s everything you want in a summer movie: swashbuckling, pretty girls dressed as deck hands, creepy things, and great clothes.


*Whoever designed that little graphical equation seems to have taken it down, because I can’t find it online anymore.

Sexism for $200, Alex

Just now on Jeopardy, in the “About the Book” category, the clue was (something like)

Found at the beginning of the book, it can run to several pages, and includes thanks yous to editors, agents, grant-making institutions, and wives.

And people think I’m whining when I say that “author” = “man” in a lot of people’s minds. Saying to yourself, “well that person is just sexist” works sometimes, but it’s the ongoing, subtle, water torture chipping away that really gets to you after a while.

Study: Aeneas, Part 6

slitty eyed

Now, a little irritated with my ongoing photo-taking.

(And happy birthday to my other sister, Jeanne!)

Passing for Couples

I was just now re-drafting one of my chapters, when out of the blue it occurred to me that one of the issues for a (female + mtf) couple making it through transition (social, medical or otherwise) is the ability to pass as a lesbian couple. I know about all the “like sisters” people; they’re all well and good and don’t have to pass as anything but friends (or sisters, obviously). But for those of us who still want a publicly visible, romantic and sexual relationship, what we’re effectively looking to do is pass as a lesbian, or bisexual, or queer couple. In order to do that, I think you have to know something about what lesbian, bisexual, and queer couples are like, no?

Five Questions With… Jan B.

Jan B. is one of the people who started a trans group in Poughkeepsie called MHVTA. She’s been helping run the group since 2001, and I’ve known her for about that long. I used to call her “perpetual lurker Jan” on my very first yahoo support group, CDOD.

jan b.1) MHVTA is a nice group – how did you decide to start it? Do you have rules or guidelines, or are you making it up as you go?

Helen, thanks for the opportunity to answer these 5 questions. This is also a nice way to publicize our group so I want to start with a Shameless Plug:The Mid-Hudson Valley Transgender Association (MHVTA), a chapter of Renaissance, is a fairly new group. It was founded in May 2001 by Nikki and I. MHVTA serves the mid-Hudson Valley area of New York (the area north of New York City and south of Albany, from the Pennsylvania border on the west to Connecticut on the east). It’s an active group with regular monthly meetings near Poughkeepsie.

We were so frustrated that nothing was local. We had to travel forty to seventy miles to find a group, so someone said. “Well, just start it yourself (and they will come).” I had never been to a TG support group before but was pretty used to other types of support groups. We met in homes for four meetings and eventually found [an affordable] place to meet, with discreet off street parking.

It varies but there are around 20 dues-paying members who attend meetings. We have more than 100 members on our list server who are interested but don’t necessarily attend meetings. The membership requirements are that you are a TG interested to know more and we are open to the TG spectrum including family if they want to attend. We currently don’t invite admirers in but they sometimes sneak in when someone brings a friend. The members seem to appreciate the level of confidentiality and the one on one interviews pre visiting the group.

MHVTA’s principal mission is to provide outreach and support for our members, their families, their friends, and to be active in the Transgender Community and the greater community of the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York. MHVTA is a non-discriminatory group which is structured to allow participation by all those who support the transgender community. We respect and support the right of free and open expression and the right to be treated as equals by society. We focus on providing an understanding peer support network for anyone who would like to be a part of it and to assist others who wish to learn more about the Transgender community, acting as a Transgender advocate to other groups and institutions in the Mid-Hudson Valley area. We welcome new people with sensitivity towards their fears and concerns that accompany revealing themselves to others. MHVTA aims to accomplish this through: Regularly scheduled meetings, social events, and frequent and open communication. For more information, you can check MHVTA’s website.

You can also find an interview with some members of MHVTA at www.tgforum.com (but you can go directly to the article if you’re a subscriber).

Continue reading “Five Questions With… Jan B.”

Jeff & Esther

I mentioned Esther Williams to a wife of a crossdresser not long ago and she looked at me blankly – silly me, assuming everyone knows the story of the million-dollar mermaid and her crossdressing movie star boyfriend.

“Jeff Chandler was standing in the middle of the bedroom in a red wig, a flowered chiffon dress, expensive high-heeled shoes and lots of makeup,”

she said about her near-husband, Jeff Chandler, Hollywood hunk.

Here’s a great review that talks about the genderedness of it all that originally appeared in Salon, and I find it interesting the way he ties in her LSD trip, the recognition of her own animus, and how her acid-induced knowledge of her male self makes a crossdressed husband especially horrifying.

I wonder if the acid is required, since otherwise I fall into the same category of being aware of my animus, except I didn’t scream. Not even once.

No Sissy Stuff

I was just watching a documentary about Gene Kelly, who my mom always loved & who I came to love watching as well, and they mentioned that in 1958 he did a TV show called Dancing: A Man’s Game which basically showed how the movements and timing of sports were much the same as the movements and timing of dancing.

Interestingly, Kelly wanted to be a Pittsburgh Pirate, and only accidentally (or incidentally) became the dancer and movie star he was.

Still, the documentary asserted that Kelly is the one who re-defined dance to include not only athleticism but a blue-collar masculinity, evidence by his own quote:

I didn’t want to move or act like a rich man. I wanted to dance in a pair of jeans. I wanted to dance like the man in the streets.

Betty did a part a long time ago where he had to leap up on a desk and sing wearing a pair of jeans; his character was a union organizer, and it was the actual musical called The Cradle Will Rock (that the Tim Robbins movie is about). & Yes, it was probably my favorite part he ever did (though in a three-way tie with Algernon and Macheath).

Three More Ways

Three more ways you can help the larger trans community, according to NCTE:

#26: Make a Restroom More Accessible to Trans People


#27: Collaborate with another group on a community project or social event.


#28: Work to pass an anti-discrimination policy at your workplace

Eventually there will be 52 suggestions, one per week, listed at the NCTE website.

Please Donate

If you can, please donate to help us keep doing what we do. Thanks to all of you who have contributed in the past.

I should also mention that starting August 2nd, I will be more available to do consulting or coaching, so if you’ve been putting off talking to someone – whether it’s a crisis or you’d just like to have an hour of my time, uninterrupted – now is a good time to do so.

On the Side

There are times when I think I have achieved the ideal form of monogamy: I spent the day with my husband for our anniversary, and now I’m about to go out to a lesbian club with my girlfriend. (And yes, I prefer thinking of Betty as my girlriend on the side, not as my wife. It’s sexier, no?)