Constructing Your “Woman”

Lena Dahlstrom posted a video on the mHB message boards made by the Feminist Majority Foundation called “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” and the women in it reminded me, once again, that I don’t feel femme-y enough in either style or presentation and reminded me as well that I’m offended by this PR campaign to convince people that feminists aren’t awful, ugly, fat, hairy women. So when another partner commented about being the resident “big hairy dyke” I thought, “me too.”

I’m aware that others see me as smaller than I see myself, or at least tell me they do, and of course I wax or hide most of my hairiness. Most people wouldn’t think of me as a dyke but I have for a while now, even if I’m still cautious about adopting a lesbian identity out of respect for those who are lesbian-identified and who might see me as something of an interloper. But dyke is an identity I’ve become comfortable with since I think it suits me (no pun intended) & in a lot of ways frees me. (I use ‘het dyke’, too, when it seems right.)

You all know the joke about what women would be like in a world without men, right?

Answer: Fat, hairy, and happy. Continue reading “Constructing Your “Woman””

Stop the Democrats

(I thought that might get your attention!)

20 big Clinton donors tried to bully Nancy Pelosi for saying that superdelegates should let the voters decide who becomes the Democratic nominee. This is the worst kind of insider politics, and it has to stop.

Do we really want to elect people who think their money gets to call the presidency, or the guy who managed to raise more money from small donors than anyone ever has before? Hmm, let’s think about that. A lot of money from few sources, vs. a lot of money from many.

Let’s look up that definition of democracy again, shall we?

Sign the petition.

Accepting Change

A partner who calls herself Madame George and who regularly posts on our message boards wrote this piece about growing up in a small town and about how similar that can be to watching your husband transition. I thought it was a beautiful piece, wistful, affirming, full of love but also change.

Growing up in a small town has its perks. Small town shop owners know you by name. In fact most times they know your family and your entire life story. That’s how it was growing up here. It’s one of my fondest memories of growing up in a small town. It has changed over the years and many of the shop owners that I knew are now gone. The store fronts now boasting dazzling electronics, plastic knick knacks, and country crafts. Gone is the independent pharmacist, the neighborhood greasy diner, and the ten cents store. Gone are the comforts of the past.

I loved the days when my mother would need something from the neighborhood drug store. There was a small one nearby that was complete with a soda fountain. It’s how I met Mr. Reider. An independent pharmacist whose shop was not far from my school. I knew him well. He knew my entire family well. He had a great store and seemed to always be adding unusual finds into his display cases and racks on a daily basis. It was probably more like a monthly basis, but to my young eyes I seemed to always find new items to wonder over. A favorite of mine was a metal bank depicting a monkey with it’s arms stretched wide. The one where you put a coin in one hand and you gently pulled the other one down and the coin would roll down its arm into a slot hidden ingeniously in the side of its head. Another favorite was the little porcelain nesting dolls with their funny looking painted faces. I remember well his gentle words of warning each time I would pick a set up. Never scolding, just a friendly reminder to be careful. Continue reading “Accepting Change”

Cultural Landmarks

While driving from Wisconsin to New York, we passed a couple of things that struck us as fitting the state/area we found them in perfectly:

  • In Wisconsin: a Bible store right next to a store that sold barstools
  • In the southside of Chicago: We Starch Jeans in a dry cleaners’ window
  • Near Sturgis, Indiana: Broasted Chicken, Fireworks, & Discount Tobacco
  • & of course, on the way into Brooklyn over the Manhattan Bridge – Brooklyn: Where New York City Starts

But now we’re home again, in our very cluttered apartment, & I’m wondering why on earth I have all the rest of the clothes I left here, since what I had in Wisconsin was enough to get dressed every day for three months.

Transgender Sims

The news about Sims 3 is out:

With 98 million games sold around the world in 22 languages, the transgender appeal of the franchise has made The Sims the third best selling game in history, behind Mario and Pokemon.

I’m pretty sure that they didn’t mean transgender in the way we use it around here, but still it’s pretty damn cool. What they meant is that it’s the only game that has sold MORE to female players than male, but without the usual drop-off of sales to the other gender. That is, many games sell most to male with precious few female players, but The Sims franchise has sold to more women than men, and yet sells to more males than most games sell to females.

Got it? It’s a giant cyber dollhouse, really, but they encourage same-sex attractions and no one’s going to yell at you when you want to make your dolls have sex.

Leaving WI

Well, we leave Wisconsin today, drive home through Illinois and Ohio and Pennsylvania and whatever other states I’m forgetting, and in a few days we’ll be back in Park Slope.

I’m sure I’ll be happy to be home. I hope I’ll be happy to be home. But wow did I enjoy living in Wisconsin. & Believe me, that surprises me more than it surprises just about anyone else.

I’ll try to blog from the road.

Being Helen Boyd

So here’s my dirty secret, which I re-realize every time I update my author site, “renaming” myself Helen Boyd for the sake of publication (& some privacy, theoretically) was about the smartest thing I’ve ever done in terms of my own self-confidence. Why? It gives me the feeling, sometimes, that I just work for her.

Which kind of allows me to shove my lack of self-confidence to the side and do what I need to do.

(Of course it did nothing for me in terms of privacy, since it was very shortly afterwards that I started using my legal name on this site & in my bios & elsewhere.)

I wonder if trans people experience anything like that in their own “renamings,” if they let you get rid of old baggage that might have little or nothing to do with gender.

Top Ten Trans Reads

Out Magazine recently put together a really asinine list of transgender books for their transgender issue. I haven’t seen the issue, but the list doesn’t really inspire me to go buy it, either, since Myra Breckinridge is on it.

For the past years I’ve always mixed my gender / feminism / trans books, but since that Top 10 of Out‘s is so lame, and the Lammies recently neglected Whipping Girl, which they shouldn’t have, I thought instead I should post my own Top Ten Recommended Trans Reads for LGBTQ readers. There are a few everyone might not need to read – like Virginia Erhardt’s Head Over Heels, which is about the partners of MTFs – or they might want to substitute Minnie Bruce Pratt’s S/he instead – but mostly this list gives a good “big picture” view of the trans community, including a variety of identities.

I might suggest different books for family & friends who are trying to understand transition but who aren’t big readers, & I’ll have to think about that list, too.

Of course now that I’ve written it I have to say I’d add my own books, My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, too.

& Maybe The Drag Queens of New York as well.

  1. Butch is a Noun – S. Bear Bergman
  2. Gender Outlaw – Kate Bornstein
  3. Crossdressing, Sex & Gender – Bullough & Bullough
  4. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism – Patrick Califia
  5. Head Over Heels: Wives Who Stay with Crossdressers and Transsexuals – Virginia Erhardt
  6. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman – Leslie Feinberg
  7. Becoming a Visible Man – Jamison Green
  8. Mom, I Need to be a Girl – Just Evelyn
  9. Whipping Girl – Julia Serano
  10. Transition & BeyondReid Vanderbergh

You’ll notice none of them is a YETA (Yet Another Transsexual Autobiography), since after you read Jenny Boylan’s She’s Not There (which I assume everyone has) you don’t need to read any others, and hers is the best-written, in my opinion. You can see the list in context on my Transgender Books page, which has reviews or links to reviews and discussions of them all.

Lambda Lit Transgender Finalists

But despite the absence of Whipping Girl, I do want to congratulate the finalists:

  • Transparent, Cris Beam (Harcourt)
  • Male Bodies, Women’s Souls, LeeRay M. Costa, PhD, (Haworth)
  • The Marrow’s Telling, Eli Clare (Homofactus Press)
  • What Becomes You, Aaron Raz Link & Hilda Raz (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Nobody Passes, Mattilda, aka Matt Bernstein Sycamore (Seal Press)

I have an essay in Mattilda’s Nobody Passes of course, but I especially wanted to congratulate Eli Clare and thank him for all the work he’s done in/for the trans community.