A Few Days

Betty & I are off to visit some friends who live in the country around the New Year’s celebrations, so have a good one, and be safe. (Please do not drink & drive.)

52 Things

Here are the final entries into NCTE’s “52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality”:

  • #48 Collect and share stories of discrimination
  • #49 Set up a training in a hospital, nursing or medical school
  • #50 Help an organization become more trans-inclusive
  • #51 Write an op-ed
  • #52 Make a New Year’s Resolution to Advance Transgender Equality

It’s been 52 weeks; how many have you done? Did you do other things they didn’t list?

The System

So I said the other day that I have a system for seeing what change I will try to effect for myself in the upcoming year. I came up with it a couple of years ago when I realized I had certain goals re: my writing career but ones that I could easily & endlessly put off if I didn’t pay attention. They weren’t big things – things like getting an essay into an anthology, or getting 10k copies in print – but I simultaneously realized that I tend to be somewhat Auspergerish in my single-mindedness, so that if I focus on one thing – like weight loss – I tend to get it done & then everything else turns to crap.

A friend of mine used to refer to this as Getting Your Ducks in a Row: that once you got one errant duck back in line, another, or two, would have slipped out & wandered off.

So in order to be effective I had to keep my eye on a couple of ducks at a time, I decided I’d have four areas of self-improvement (or self-actualization, or whatever New Age-y thing you’d like to call it). Within those four areas, I break the larger goal into 12 smaller ones, & then try to get one done a month. I “check in” with my goals early in the month to see how it’s going.

& No, I’m not kidding.


The Task Force recently issued a report about homeless youth: up to 42% of homeless youth are LGBT (even though only 3-5% of the population is).

While I’m glad to hear NYC has stepped up funding to help serve these kids, I wonder if a public education campaign isn’t also in order. That job, however, might need Federal support, which we certainly aren’t going to get just yet. Still, you’d think we could maybe let people know that throwing their LGBT kids out on the street is not a solution to anyone’s problem.

These throwaway kids are one of the ‘side effects’ of all the anti-gay rhetoric being thrown around, & that includes the anti-gay marriage rhetoric, in my opinion. Define a group of people as second-class citizens and this is what you get.

You can read the full report at The Task Force’s website.

Boxing Day

So how did it get to be December? – and not just December, but the day after Christmas?! That seemed fast. I’ve had people older than me tell me that the years go by faster the older you get, & some days that seems to be very, very true. Now there are these few days between Christmas and New Year’s Day left of 2006, and it was – looking back – an exhausting year. Granted, a year goes by very quickly when eight months of it are spent writing a book, but still – December already! Astonishing.

Sometimes at the end of a year I like to wonder what (1) I want to be different in my life a year from now; (2) what I thought would be different from a year ago that is or isn’t, and (3) which kinds of changes I seem to be the most effective at bringing about. There are wishes of mine that are totally unreasonable – like living in a less cluttered apartment – that will probably never happen; now I’m of the opinion that if we moved to an 8-bedroom house we’d still have too much crap – it’s just who we are & in the greater scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter to me very much. But then there are other things, like losing weight, that can be more feasible some years but less feasible even than getting rid of clutter other years.

I’m sometimes good at predicting, but I’m better still at pushing myself to achieve more than I think I can & so achieving some respectable changes. These are the kinds of things I think about when I put together my New Year’s Resolutions lists, so I don’t feel like a failure when I haven’t totally reorganized our bookcases by the end of January or something.

I’ve got a system, even. Maybe I’ll share it on another day. Right now I’m still getting over a cold, though, so it will be another night of Nyquil sleep for me so I can kick this thing once & for all.

Quiet Xmas

We’re having a quiet Christmas this year: my sister threw a gathering for my family last week, so we both feel like we had a premature xmas this year. Plus, we spent anything you might call a gift budget on clothes for that TV taping a week or so ago.

But we were very glad to enjoy the company of our fellow mHB board locals for a lovely holiday party, & we’ll be going upstate to visit friends for the New Year.

Have a good holiday, everyone.

Five Things

Apparently I’ve been tagged for a blog meme, by Debra over at Tragic/Beautiful.

I’m supposed to come up with Five Things You Don’t Know About Me. I’m going to hope that none of my very old friends are reading, since what they know about me may be very different from what a more generic “you” might know.

(1) I have always worried that all of my eccentricity is really driven by a niggling fear that I am painfully mediocre.

(2) I started my undergraduate career as a Theology major at Fordham University. I wanted to be a priest when I was a child and often wonder if I won’t end up some kind of monk/nun by the end of my days.

(3) My first boyfriend’s name was also Jason. (My friend Ming took to calling him “the wrong Jason” when I met the person who you all know as Betty.)

(4) I spent a good chunk of my 20s traveling:

  • in 1991: to San Francisco (I was 22)
  • in 91/92: to India
  • in summer 92 I drove across the USA with a friend
  • in 1993 I went to New Orleans
  • in 1996 to Singapore, Bali (Indonesia) and Burma (Myanmar)
  • in 1997 to Singapore and Viet Nam (then later in the same trip, to Chicago, Nashville, and Charleston)
  • in 1998 to London
  • in 1999 to Sao Paulo and Rio in Brazil and later that year to London and Paris (we were in London for the Millennium changeover)
  • in 2000 to London and Scotland (our engagement tour, as it were)
  • in 2001 to Hawaii (for our honeymoon)

As a result of the books and my lectures, after I turned 30, I have since seen, all stateside: Eureka Springs, AR; Phoenix, AZ; Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Hammond, IN; Provincetown, MA; Las Vegas, NM; Albany, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Sherman, TX, and Burlington, VT. As a result of being keynote speaker at First Event this year, I’ll finally get to see Boston!

(5) I am allergic to almost everything a person can be allergic to (dogs, cats, mold, dust, etc.) with the bizarre exception of cockroach poop.

& Now I will tag three other bloggers to list five things we don’t know about them: Betty Crow, Caprice Bellefleur, and John.

UNICEF Reports: Equal Women Raise Better Children

Okay, that’s not exactly what they reported, but to my mind, it pretty much is:

“Gender equality and the well-being of children are inextricably linked,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “When women are empowered to lead full and productive lives, children and families prosper.”

For some people I guess the idea that women need to be equals and to make important decisions about family resources still needs to be made, and for them, UNICEF has created a report that delineates exactly how and why:

The State of the World’s Children 2007 report finds that equality of women produces a “double dividend,” allowing empowered and healthy women to have empowered and healthy children, according to the report (PDF).

I think I can safely add that the opposite is also true: people who prefer women not to be equal are not “pro child.” Somewhere in here I think I can also conclude: feminists are actually the real “family values” set!

So It’s Begun

I’m starting to get emails from people asking about the new book and whether or not I’d be willing to come to one trans conference or another. Likewise, the “call for presenters” emails are also showing up.

This year, for obvious reasons, Betty & I would love to go to all the conferences we’ve attended before – to celebrate the new book, to help more people, to dispel what rumors we can and to share what we’ve learned in the years since we’ve been to them.

But the same old problem stands in my way: we can’t afford it. My publishers don’t pay for conferences, and a physical book tour, per se, isn’t financially feasible. And as per usual, unless I’m to be the keynote speaker – such as at First Event I’m told over and over again that the conferences do not help presenters get to these conferences or even waive conference fees, much less pay for hotel rooms or travel costs or the like. I say “I’m told” because that’s what conference organizers tell people when they have requested my attendance – and yet that’s not what I hear from other presenters.

Interestingly, I’ve been told that because I’m selling books I’m a “commercial interest,” which amuses me, considering that even if I sold a book to every single person who came to these conferences – which is far from likely – I still wouldn’t make enough money to break even! But of course I don’t actually sell my own books at these conferences: IFGE does.

So my response to everyone just now is that I honestly don’t know if we can come. We can’t afford to put out the $1000-2000 it costs for us to go to a conference, but we certainly can’t do that several times next year. It costs us more of course because there are two of us – and people always want Betty to come, because she’s Betty.

Mind you, I’m not asking to make money going to these things. I just don’t want to have to spend my own money working for a conference that is – from all reports – making money. I’m happy to donate my time and costs to conferences that are non-profit and have done so in the past. It would help if I felt any of these conferences had a clear-cut policy on these issues. But beyond all that, I know I can draw an audience because I’m told I make a decent advocate for partners, and that a lot of what I have to say is very different from what you hear in the rest of the trans community, and that that difference is useful.

Unfortunately, then, I can’t go unless my expenses are covered, and that is up to the organizing committees of the various conferences.

Lumeric was Both

“Just ask whether Lumeric was a man or a woman.”
“And what’s the right answer?” Candy asked.
“Both,” Malingo and Jimothi replied at the same moment.
Candy looked confused.
“Lumeric was a Mutep,” Malingo explained. “Therefore both a he and a she.”-from Clive Barker’s Abarat, where Lumeric the Mutep was also a magician of the highest order.

Rock & a Hard Place

I’ll admit that I find it incomprehensible to remain part of a Church that didn’t want me as a member or that felt I was “less than.” When I found out at a young age that I wouldn’t be “allowed” to be a priest, I washed my hands of the Church, and while I still consider myself culturally Catholic*, I’m also an agnostic and don’t miss mass. & I was always allergic to the incense, so I don’t miss that either. But I do still go to Saint Patrick’s to light candles in my grandmother’s memory, and I like to think she’d be quite pleased knowing that she – even from the grave – gets me into a church at all. I still read The Lives of the Saints, and I love the peace I can achieve, easily, when I’m sitting in a Church between masses. The quiet, the art, the ritual, the iconography: all these things make me feel at home.

But queer folks often don’t feel at home if they actually believe in their faith and want to be committed members of a faith-based community. One of my fellow Catholics has joined the UU but I think misses something of the aesthetics of Catholicism (one of the few things, imho, the Catholic Church did right. If you don’t feel a sense of awe entering Saint Patrick’s, I’d be very surprised).

One of the things I see Betty struggle with is how the faith she was raised in might condemn her for who she is, and she’s the one who brought this article to my attention.

I applaud the way these folks have stuck to a faith they believe in, that they feel comfortable in, and have not backed down or compromised their beliefs. But at the same time I find it quite baffling: if literal and conservative interpretation of the Bible yields the label of “sinner” for any gay or lesbian, yet you know you didn’t choose to be gay, why stay? Jesus’ advice, that those who are without sin cast the first stone, might be the key. Because we are all sinners, aren’t we? In one way or another, we are. The man who casts homosexuals out of his church or makes them feel uncomfortable has masturbated once in his life, at least. Or maybe he’s gambled, or coveted his neighbor’s wife, or over-eaten, or blasphemed, or doubted, or lied, or eaten shellfish. There are plenty of ways to sin – especially if one’s going to be strict about Old Testament restrictions – other than having sex with someone of your own gender, and I find the current Christian obsession with homosexuality as the sin that inspires Christians to act in decidedly un-Christian ways quite baffling. I still don’t remember anything in the Bible that says human beings should be judging each other’s sinfulness; last I checked, a sinner’s sins are between him and his God.

As someone raised Catholic I can’t help but find it tragic; after all, one of the huge reasons the Protestant religions happened was because the Church on Earth was interfering in the way a sinner might know his God, so for me, this current revival of people thinking they know the mind of God is a little bit of (the worst of) history repeating itself.
Continue reading “Rock & a Hard Place”