CO Events

Finally, I have all the details on the stuff we’ll be doing in Colorado!

On October 9th, I’ll be speaking at the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Where: MSCD Campus, Denver

When: Tuesday, October 9th, 1-3PM

then, in Boulder:

We’ll be part of the TRANSforming Gender 2007 Conference at the University of Colorado @ Boulder. More details about other speakers – including Matt Kailey (author of Just Add Hormones) & Julia Serano (author of Whipping Girl) – can be found on the conference’s website.

Where: Dennis Small Cultural Center, University Memorial Center Rm 457

When: Wednesday, October 10th

I’ll be doing a workshop on Queer Heterosexuals/Emerging Identities from 3:30-4:45

and then will be part of a panel with the other speakers from 5:15-6:30.

Both/all these events are open to the general public, so do come if you can.

Check In

i’ve had some time to be on the boards this weekend, despite the insanity around what’s going on in Burma & with ENDA – both of which occupied a lot of my time – and it’s nice to get a visit in.

teaching has kept me really busy, as has the commute. it’s really a full day that goes to travel: i leave here 1pm for my 2pm train, & i don’t get to Andover until about 8 PM. it’s a little shorter on the return, on Thursday, mostly because the train schedules work a little better.

& yes, as many people have predicted: i love teaching. love it. i asked on the first day if (1) any of them had ever thought about their gender, and (2) if any of them identified as feminists, and got no hands on either. that, plus the class being at 8am, were tall odds, i thought. but aside from the fact that i have to be prepared to frontload the class for the first half-hour while they’re all waking up, we’ve had interesting conversations about whether feminism is valid & what radfems mean when they say all sex is rape & about why most professional cooks are male.

september has gone by really quickly as a result, what with teaching & DO for a week & getting the details for the upcoming trip to CO & applying for a NYFA grant. i feel like i wake up & work on my to-do list & at some point i get on a train & find myself on a green, catholic college campus for a few days, kind of like it’s a dream, & then i’m home again & hanging out with betty & the kittoi until i get on a train again.

but i do enjoy the train time, even if i sometimes dread it the night before. i read a lot. i write some. i grade papers, even. or i just watch the world go by.

Banned Books Week

Yesterday was the start of Banned Books Week, so go out & buy one of the many books people objected to this year. Among them, the regulars: Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, two by Toni Morrison, and new ones on the list seem to have been chosen for having homosexual themes/characters: And Tango Makes Three, Gossip Girls, Athletic Shorts; and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

You can find a Banned Books Week event near you, or you can just go out & buy one of the Top Ten most challenged books of 2006.

Please Sign

Monks have already been beaten and several people have been killed. Please sign this petition to get the UN Security Council to help protect them, to enable them to peacably assemble, as they have done for the past few weeks.

They are raiding the monasteries and cutting off contact with the rest of the world:

“The big missing piece of the puzzle is what is going on in the minds of the senior leadership,” said Thant Myint-U, a former United Nations official who is the author of a book on Myanmar, formerly Burma, called River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma. “Nothing that they have said in the last 20 years would suggest that they will back down,” he said.

(Get his book if you want more background on what’s going on currently, or if you want to know more about Burma and the 8888 Uprising.)

I’m worried now we won’t hear anymore, or won’t hear much, unless & until the UN gets more involved. It is quite odd to see actual video footage of what’s going on in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) on television. That beautiful huge gold pagoda you may see in the background is Shwedagon Pagoda, and the gold is – the real thing. But the demonstrators have been gathering at the oldest pagoda in Yangon, Sule Pagoda, which is the center of the city.

Sign On

(1) If you’d like to be added to a letter being sent to HRC from the leaders of the transgender community asking them “for an unequivocal statement that HRC will oppose this new strategy and any bill that is not inclusive,” then send an email to Shannon Minter at sminter(at)nclrights(dot)org.

Do add any affiliations you have with trans groups, LGBT organizations and the like.

(2) NCTE & The Transgender Law Center have a petition directed to Nancy Pelosi up at You can have your name listed anonymously, so there’s no reason not to sign this one.

& Now the Bad News

House Democrats are taking out transgender inclusion for ENDA:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez, Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., believe that they lack the votes in the Democrat-controlled House to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it includes gender identity along with sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for firing an employee.

Frank and Baldwin are the only openly gay members of Congress.

“People now accept the fact that we just don’t have the votes for the transgender,” Frank said.

Nervous Democrats had been hearing about Republican amendments to the employment bill, Frank said, “that would talk about schoolteachers, and what happens when the kid comes back from summer vacation and teachers change gender. We just lost enough Democrats and we couldn’t be sure of the Republicans.

The move put a damper Thursday on what Democrats otherwise were hailing as a landmark day for gay rights.

Aurora the Inconsiderate

The funniest thing about Aurora is that she gets on your desk, as if to hang out with you, but then if you do anything – type, use your mouse, pet her – she attacks your hand.



Go Go Gowanus!

Betty & I are watching Law & Order SVU – of course that’s what we do when I get home – and we got to see a neighborhood right near us as they chased an ex-IRA hitman around the Gowanus Canal neighborhood. The SVU cops are coming in for him from either side, so he looks at the water, and one of the cops shouts, “Go ahead, jump in! You’ll die in a week.”

Ah. The polluted Gowanus Canal saves the day.


from NCTE’s website:

Senate Passes Historic Hate Crimes Bill

The Hate Crimes Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S. 1105) was passed on a voice vote of the Senate today, September 27th.  Immediately prior to the voice vote, a cloture vote to end debate of the Amendment was passed 60-39 with bipartisan support.This amendment was already passed on May 3rd in the House by a vote of 237-180.   NCTE is calling on President Bush to sign the bill with this historic provision included.

Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director, says, “While transgender people still have many obstacles to overcome, we are overjoyed that the hard work of so many people is coming to fruition.”

The Hate Crimes Amendment extends the federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.

Wonky Boards

Our message board are a bit wonky and that may be due to a server upgrade by our hosting company. In the meantime, our own DSL is down so Betty isn’t online.

So please hold tight, folks.

Five Questions With… Julia Serano

Julia Serano is a Bay Area slam-winning poet, author, performer, activist, & biologist. She organized the GenderEnders event from 2003 until last year; plays guitar, sings & writes lyrics for her band Bitesize, and oh – has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. We got to meet her when she was in town promoting her book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, recently published by Seal Press.

(1) I loved Whipping Girl, for starters. I think it’s a pivotal work for trans communities, especially in building trans pride. But you know I kept waiting for you to actually define “feminine” – maybe if not for all time, but in some way that I could understand what you meant by it specifically. Your “barrette Manifesto” came close, except that I see barrettes as childish, not feminine per se. So can you help the genderblind like myself? What is femininity? Can you be feminine without being girly?

In the next to last chapter of the book, “Putting the Feminine Back into Feminism,” I talk about that a bit, but I’ll try to define it here a little more clearly. I would say that femininity is a heterogeneous set of traits (some of which are cultural in origin, some biological, some psychological, and many are a combination thereof). The only thing that all feminine traits have in common is that they are typically associated with women in our culture. But they certainly aren’t exclusive to women, as many men and MTF spectrum transgender folks also express feminine traits (similarly, many women express masculine rather than feminine traits). I think most of us tend to express some combination of both feminine and masculine traits.

Continue reading “Five Questions With… Julia Serano”

Hate Crimes Vote – Thursday

ACTION ALERT from the National Center for Transgender Equality

On Thursday, the Senate will be voting on Senator Kennedy’s Hate Crimes amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S.1105). We need you to call your Senators now to urge their support of this critical bill, which would extend hate crimes protections to transgender people.

Please, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 right now; let them know what state you are from and ask to be connected with your Senators.

The language of the amendment is identical to that passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 3, 2007 (H.R.1592). It is vital that you contact your Senator today or tomorrow. As you read this, the Radical Right is mobilizing to oppose the federal hate crimes bill and attempt to prevent its passage in the Senate. They’re using scare tactics and flat-out lies in hopes of killing the amendment. Make sure that your Senators hear your voice and how important this bill is to you and our community.

The Hate Crimes bill would:

  • Extend existing federal protections to include “gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability”
  • Allow the Justice Department to assist in hate crime investigations at the local level when local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to fully address these crimes
  • Mandate that the FBI begin tracking hate crimes based on actual or perceived gender identity
  • Remove limitations that narrowly define hate crimes to violence committed while a person is accessing a federally protected activity, such as voting.

Find your Senators’ contact information.
Background information about the hate crimes bill is available on NCTE’S webpage.

Call your Senators today and urge your friends and family to do the same.

Monks Defy Orders

Imagine! Dubya finally said something in public I agree with! Today at the beginning of the UN’s general assembly, President Bush announced tighter sanctions on Burma:

He outlined a tightening of financial sanctions on Myanmar and an extension of a ban on visas of officials “responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights” and their families.

“Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear,” Mr. Bush said. “Basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship are severely restricted. Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking, and rape are common.”

& In the meantime, the junta (formerly known as SLORC), have pulled soldiers away from where they’ve been fighting the Karen tribesmen for years now. The Karen will, no doubt, take advantage of the situation, as they were the largest ethnic majority to rise up against the military junta in 1988, as well. Interesting for U.S. policy, but one of the objections of the Karen tribe is that they are not allowed to practice their religion because the practice of Buddhism is state-imposed, and a third of them are… Christian.

Turning Over the Rice Bowl

For six days in a row, young monks in Myanmar (Burma) have protested the treatment of monks by the ruling junta – the same junta who put down the protests / revolution of the early 90s, the same one that keeps human rights leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

This time, can we please pay attention? Thousands, including monks, lost their lives last time around, & looking at these young men – I worry about them too.

At least some monks were reportedly refusing to accept alms from members of the military, a refusal, known as “turning over the rice bowl,” that amounts to an ad-hoc gesture of excommunication. The A.P. reported that one monk at the head of the procession held a begging bowl upside down as he marched.

I went to Myanmar years ago now, before I knew that human rights activists asked tourists not to come, & the place haunted me with its beauty. The young monks especially. The U.S. needs to back them, absolutely, loudly & with no apologies to the military. I fear we won’t, considering what’s gone on in Tibet, but at least we don’t have to stand up to the Chinese to help this pro-democracy movement, so maybe there’s a chance. Hopefully the UN sessions later this month that promise to address the issue will.

SoCo Keynote: Jenn Burleton


One Community, One Family

by Jenn Burleton, TransActive Education & Advocacy, Portland, OR

Thank you to the organizers of this amazing conference and in particular, Cat Turner, Lola Fleck and Elaine Martin. And I must thank my longtime friend, Mariette Pathy Allen. My life has been truly blessed as a result of knowing her and sharing many adventures with her…some of which are suitable for sharing with the whole family.

When Cat Turner called back in January and invited me to come to Atlanta I was of course, very honored. I was also surprised. After all, we’d never met. I’d never attended a previous Southern Comfort Conference and I am not, in my opinion anyway, one of the gender community heavy hitters.
Continue reading “SoCo Keynote: Jenn Burleton”

Jerry Sanders Says No Veto

The Republican mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, who opposed same sex marriage when he was campaigning, opted not to veto a bill providing marriage rights to same sex couples on Thursday.

Why? Well, his daughter is a lesbian, but that’s not all.

In the time since, he said he realized he could not accept “the concept of a separate-but-equal institution.” Because of that, he continued, he was unwilling to send the message to anyone that “they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.”

The mayor, now crying openly, noted that he has close family members and friends in the gay and lesbian community, including staff members and “my daughter Lisa.”

“In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife, Rana,” said Sanders, who quickly thanked reporters and dashed from the room. (emphasis mine)

Separate but equal, folks! You heard it hear first! It’s unconstitutional! Who knew?!

Cranky Cat

Aeneas, still on his diet, still sitting next to my chair grumpy about not being fed. They are losing weight, though: so far they’ve lost about a pound each.

Recently too we heard a huge, raging cat fight out the window, & the boys – who haven’t lived outside since they were kittens, & before we got them – rushed to the window to see what was going on. Aurora, on the other hand, curled up on her pillow & slept, figuring that what you want to do is stay the hell out of it when other cats are fighting.

Helen on the Radio Tonight

& I’ve gotten home to Brooklyn in time to rest, eat, bathe, & then head out to be interviewed by Diana Cage on her radio show on Sirius OutQ, at 11PM.

(I promise I will not review the history of modern feminism, which is what I did in class today. Oy, patriarchy!)

Trans Couples: Natasha & Kyle

“Tranny, 24, slim attractive brunette, seeks fun loving friend for laughter and love.”

Hey, every story has to begin somewhere, and this one’s starting with that. It’s the text of a personals ad, submitted to a local free weekly paper. The sort of thing that’s three quarters real estate listings.

I can’t claim sole authorship for the ad. My ex wife and I penned it. We started with the vague notion that it was about time I started seeing people. She, after all, had hooked up with a new guy and was rapidly approaching domestic bliss. I’d been moping around for a while, but was now finally starting to re-emerge into the world; to get my shit together, as it were.

Continue reading “Trans Couples: Natasha & Kyle”

Dinner and Conversation

Last night I was taken out to dinner by a partner who is local to where I’m teaching during the week. She told me she was surprised I was willing to go to dinner with someone I’d never met before, & as she was saying it, I thought, ‘If only I had a trust fund, I wouldn’t do anything but meet with partners and give them someone to talk to.’

Because her story was like so many stories of partners: her trans person didn’t like to talk about it, only one friend knew who even kind of understood, and everyone else in their lives, she feared, would completely freak out if they knew.

So it is nice to go out and just listen to someone who needs to talk, to validate their experiences in whatever ways I can, & really, more than anything, provide a real flesh & blood person instead of a cold computer screen.