Sir, Check In Please

I just got “sirred” by the lady checking people in at the special Sleeping Car Passengers Only Amtrak Waiting Room. There’s free beverages, even. She corrected herself as soon as I turned my head, so I suppose it was just the buzzcut and my 20th Century newsboy cap.

So I’m in Chicago. & What I’ve realized I like about trains is you can feel the traveling. Instead of just being one place & then being in another, I get to see the countryside change, along with the industries, and homes, and malls. (Far too many malls, if you ask me.) Not only that, but you get to say hey to friends who live in the city you’re passing through when you’ve got a couple hours layover.

Yep. Love trains.

Intermodal Travel Day

I’ve made it back to Milwaukee again, but this time I’m just passing through the Intermodal Terminal – how great a name is that for a train/bus terminal? – right now utilizing the free wifi and waiting for my train to Chicago to board. I take a train from Chicago to DC which takes about 17 hours, and luckily I’ll be in one of those nifty “roomettes” for that trip. Then from DC to Philly.

& Whilst plenty of you think I’m insane, I really prefer nothing more than sitting and looking out a window listening to music and thinking. Writing. Reading. It’s all the stuff I do anyway, but somehow doing it while moving feels more productive.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m on my way to the Liberty Conference in Philly, and yes, I did think I would be living in NYC when I said yes. I speak at Saturday’s luncheon about How We Love You (Trans People) and then later the same day about sex being a four letter word. Do come if you can.

Sunday, I get back on the train and do the whole thing in reverse, but not in heels.


I’m not one & I don’t understand them, somehow like a teenager who doesn’t understand the boys or girls he ogles. They are a mystery: a perfect, empowered, complicated mystery.

I have had, like so many tomboys and masculine spectrum and androgyny-leaning and genderqueer sorts, the kind of frustration with femininity that is about me & about the world & its expectations, but one day while listening to a femme talk about intentionally trying to look like a dyke so that others would know she wanted to date women, I had one of those revelatory moments. I explained why I was smiling to her: that I had experienced the reverse, trying to fem up my naturally dyke-spectrum gender even though i wanted to date men. We both had a moment of why is this shit so absurdly stupid along with a little and why are there always uniforms and prescriptions that go along with desire?

I don’t know the answer but I do know I have mocked femininity like the injured tomboy I can be, but this book – so full of longing and coolness and love and desire and girlness and attitude that I feel once again something like that teenaged boi or grrl utterly confounded but this time, a little in awe.

This book Visible: A Femmethology Parts 1 & 2, edited by Jennifer Clarke Burke and published by Homofactus, is full of the narratives of the people who call themselves femmes, and they ponder such a range of questions: the obvious ones about invisibility and identity – especially relevant to readers here when that (in)visibility relates to having a trans-masculine partner — to the femininity of a self-confessed “stopped pretending to be a male to queer to femme female” trans person. They are full of gender theory, concerned about community, biphobia, butch-femme dynamics and too many other things to mention. It gives me hope that even I, one day, can overcome being a jerk and punching those girls I like in the arm instead of just telling them how awesome & fabulous they are.

Thanks femmes, for making me look again at femininity. You can read more at

15 Minutes (of Shame)

I really don’t want to think about the disaster that will be the Susan Stanton documentary on CNN, but now there’s a snippet released and it’s worse than I feared, the same documentary in which she says, and I quote,

“Some of the guys I’ve seen who crossdress just a little… they seem so absolutely content but so unable to be anything but an ugly man… with lipstick.”

Keep it classy, Sue. I probably won’t even watch.

Hate Crimes Vote Today

Call your reps now and tell them to vote YES on the Hate Crimes Act – HR 1913. NCTE has a ton of info up that you can use when you call, and the number to call is 866-346-4611.

Swine Flu Tweet

Something I tweeted at Ron Hogan last night is getting re-tweeted a bunch. He orginally tweeted:

Ah, Seth Godin: “More people are killed by deer than sharks, but you don’t see park rangers running around like nutcases.”

to which I replied

@RonHogan & regular flu kills 3k people annually in the US, whereas swine flu has killed 0 so far.

& then added:

@RonHogan whoops. that’s closer to 36k. via brian williams: http://dailynightly.msnbc.m…

… so the credit goes to Brian Williams for keeping his calm and putting this swine flu panic into perspective.

NYC Air Scare

Thank you, Brian Williams. The point he made tonight on Olbermann — that 9/11 was 10 minutes ago to the people who experienced it first-hand — is only too true. I have no doubt that tons of people are upping their anti-anxiety meds and having those awful apocalyptic nightmares again as a result of this stupidity.

I remember flying from Denver a few years ago & hearing a security officer ask a flyer about their anti-anxiety meds, wanting to know if they were because he was a nervous flyer. He answered something more along the lines, “No, I’m just from New York” and a moment later, in an aside to his wife, “We are all on anti-anxiety meds.”

Yeah. We are. I don’t expect ever to have the same feelings about fall that I did before 2001.

Fair Pay Day

Blog for Fair Pay 2009

Tell the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.


Westboro Baptist Church is going to Boston on an anti-Semitic, homophobic rant. King of astounding, but you know? I can hear Allen Ginsberg laughing:


The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
a miracle,
in imagination
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.

No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love–
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
–cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:

the weight is too heavy

–must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.

The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–

yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.

Poland’s Transgender Activist History

I love the idea of gathering individual countries’ histories with trans activism. Here’s Poland’s, written by
Wiktor “Latarnik” Dynarski (as far as I can tell(. Has anyone seen / written / compiled ones about other countries?

Gave Him an A

Republicans are flooding this MSNBC poll and giving Obama straight Fs. Give him the grade you think he really deserves.

Help Vicki Marlane

via Susan Stryker:

Michelle Lawler is producing a documentary film about Vicki Marlane, a 74-year-old transsexual woman who is an amazing drag performer, and who still puts on two shows a week at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Drag performance, particularly the traditional “record pantomime” style that Vicki does, is a joyous, subversive, heart-warming art form. Vicki has been doing professional theatrical drag for 50 years. She is a total inspiration to me, and an honored elder of my community.

Michelle and her editor Monica Nolan have completed a final cut of the film, titled “Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight,” (so-called after a line in Vicki’s signature number, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”). We expect the film to premiere at Frameline’s San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival in June 2009–look for the official press release on May 19!

We’re still trying to raise the last few thousand dollars we need to pay for music rights and the final audio mix to finish the film. I’m writing to ask you to make a donation that will help us complete this important film.

You can watch a short clip from the film at our page on the BAVC web site (our fiscal sponsor). Check out Vicki’s performance, too, while you’re at it.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution online from that page or you can make a non-tax deductible donation by sending a check made out to the film’s Executive Producer, Kim Klausner, at 1541 Alabama Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.

All donations — $5, $25, $100, $500 or whatever — will help. Feel free to forward this email to people who might be interested in supporting this project.

RIP Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur died today. We shared a birthday, and we shared being the butt of jokes about masculine women and women with facial hair and women who prefer comfortable shoes, but she did that on the national stage, and for many, many, many years, with grace and humor.

Lady Godiva was a freedom rider / She didn’t’ care if the whole world looked.
Joan of Arc with the Lord to guide her / She was a sister who really cooked.

Isadora was the first bra burner / And you’re glad she showed up. (Oh yeah)
And when the country was falling apart / Betsy Ross got it all sewed up.

And then there’s Maude.
That old compromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizing, / Right on Maude

She was, most famously, Maude, which by my accounting is one of the funniest shows that was ever on television, – and it was about a feminist! – followed closely by The Golden Girls, where she played Dorothy.

Zapata Family Statement

The Zapata family has their say:

From me to them:
God Bless all of you for stepping up and speaking with such love about your kid sister. We can only hope that your sister’s death will help the rest of us keep educating people so that other teenagers like her won’t die the way she did.

Spanish Language Trans PSA

I don’t read/speak Spanish myself, but was sent this by someone who does:

Surprising campaign, under the auspices of the (Chilean goverment’s) Division of Social Organizations (they provide grants and help to NGO’s) and the communications division of the Metro in Santiago (2,000,000 riders a day).  The posters appeared at all the metro stations and their design is very good; one can see a full size version from the last link. It was produced by a transmen’s org but displays very balanced info about MTF and FTM treatment and most of all about the difficulties and discriminations associated to being trans, pointing out that this is not a choice but an inborn condition.  Trans orgs there are also in conversations with the government’s civil registry to be able to get national ID cards with the appropriate gender marker without having to certify surgeries (as in Spain).

(Apparently trans guys who speak Spanish are as cool as they’re English-speaking counterparts.)

For Milwaukee

We had a great time in Milwaukee this past weekend: a gathering of LGBT people on Saturday night, a sex workshop at The Tool Shed on Sunday, and then a workshop on gender variance Monday afternoon followed by a 7PM lecture about queer heterosexuals.

I did meet a bunch of people who asked me about various resources I mentioned in passing, so here goes:

& I think that’s it. If I’ve failed to mention anything I said I would post to here, feel free to email me about it or remind me in the comments section.

Two Tune Tuesday: It’s Peter’s Fault

My friend Peter used to make me mixed tapes that had really interesting juxtapositions – so interesting that some of them I’ve remembered them for a long while. I actually don’t know if these two were next to each other, but that’s my story & I’m sticking to it.

Donovan’s “There Is a Mountain” (which Heidi tells me is a Buddhist proverb, too)
Bowie’s “Queen Bitch”(which you may know from the Milk ads)

Get a playlist!

Ausperger’s: Girls Express Differently

I admit that this article really weirded me out, not becuase it’s a surprise that the medical commuity has failed to understand or diagnose Ausperger’s in girls particularly because their symptoms present differently (as the same for true for many years for women & heart disease, for example) but because her description of the way Ausperger’s presents in females is a little too close to the bone for me. I’ve already come out as an introvert, after all.

Girls slip through the diagnostic net, said Attwood, because they are so good at camouflaging or masking their symptoms. “Boys tend to externalise their problems, while girls learn that, if they’re good, their differences will not be noticed,” he said. “Boys go into attack mode when frustrated, while girls suffer in silence and become passive-aggressive. Girls learn to appease and apologise. They learn to observe people from a distance and imitate them. It is only if you look closely and ask the right questions, you see the terror in their eyes and see that their reactions are a learnt script.”

Girls also escape diagnosis, said Attwood, because they are more social than boys with the condition. Their symptoms can also be missed because it is the intensity of their interests that is unusual, and not the oddity of what they do.

“The impairments to their social life or interests tend not to stand out in the same way as boys’ do,” he said. “They might have one friend, while boys with the condition won’t have any. Also, boys hyperfocus on facts and certain interests, such as trains or weather. Girls escape into fiction. They have imaginary friends, live in another world with fairies and witches, obsessively watch soap operas or become intensely interested in celebrities.”

Hrm. The boldfaced bits pretty much describe my childhood & teenaged years in a nutshell. Frightening.

Peeing, Again

Have you all seen this latest iteration of trans + feminist(ing) + bathroom issues? Oy, it makes me tired. Here’s what I had to say about it four years ago.

Some days I just want to apologize to all the trans people who I ardently needed to talk to about bathrooms when I was working this stuff out, so let me: sorry, all of you, and thank you for educating me when it wasn’t your responsibility.

In the meantime, Gunner Scott has started a new blog about trans people + bathroom experiences, and he put up a sample at TGB (& info about how to send him your own stories, too).