Month: December 2009

Obama Hires Trans Woman Amanda Simpson

Posted by – December 31, 2009

How fucking cool is this?

Amanda Simpson, who has served on NCTE’s Board of Directors for the past 3 years, has been appointed by the Obama Administration as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce. She’ll be working in the Bureau of Industry and Security.

Seems like an excellent augur for 2010.


When It’s Time To Go

Posted by – December 31, 2009

I recently had a partner of a trans woman ask me – and many have asked before – when it’s time to go. I didn’t have an answer, but I did want to point out that asking when it’s time to go – what straw breaks the camel’s back – is certainly not exclusive to trans partners. All sorts of people in all sorts of relationships ask this question of themselves – some for years, some for days – before they make up their minds about staying or going.

I’ve always seen relationships as more like a daily or weekly affirmation. Not that I’m not planning the long haul – I admit I’m painfully loyal – but I also like to remind myself that I’m in a relationship because I choose to be in one. I don’t have to live with another person. I don’t have to do someone else’s laundry. I choose to. I hope, in the long run, that helps me enjoy the company of my partner more.

But I’ve certainly left relationships in my past. In some there was little gray area; I’d made up my mind as to where the line was, & even if I hadn’t articulated it, I knew it the second it was crossed. But what did it? In almost every instance, looking back, what I see is a lack of engagement – not engagement as in the “we’re going to get married” kind, but engagement as in participation. I’d traveled to be with one guy a few times & when it was time for him to come hang in my court, he didn’t, and that was that. With another, it was time for a change in our relationship, a greater commitment, & he couldn’t manage it, & that was that. (& Only now, writing this, does it occur to me that I was one the one who instigated the breakup in all of my past relationships. Who knew?)

I’m curious about your own stories: when did you leave, & why? Was it after a lot of torment? A simple lack of progress? One act of betrayal?

(& I know this isn’t a pleasant topic to end the year on, but I thought it would be worse to start the year with it!)

Down Madison Way

Posted by – December 30, 2009

Betty & I are off for a brief visit to see friends in Madison, which we haven’t yet seen. We’re both excited, despite the 3-hour drive and the single digit temperatures.

Two Tune Tuesday: Femme Crooners

Posted by – December 29, 2009

I was listening to NPR’s listeners’ picks for the best songs of 2009 when I was reminded of that Metric track “Sick Muse.” Minutes later, an ad for Hennessy came on featuring The Cardigans’ “Lovefool” which has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, First Band on the Moon is a great little collection of songs (including the most bizarre cover of “Iron Man” imaginable).

So here they are, together. They make nice bookends, no?

Roger Garth

Posted by – December 28, 2009

By god is he pretty. & Yes, he is a model.

Sullivan on Obama’s 1st Year

Posted by – December 27, 2009

I agree entirely.

My own view is that 2009 has been an extraordinarily successful year for Obama. Since this is currently a minority view and will prompt a chorus of “In The Tank!”, allow me to explain.

The substantive record is clear enough. Torture is ended, if Gitmo remains enormously difficult to close and rendition extremely hard to police. The unitary executive, claiming vast, dictatorial powers over American citizens, has been unwound. The legal inquiries that may well convict former Bush officials for war crimes are underway, and the trial of KSM will reveal the lawless sadism of the Cheney regime that did so much to sabotage our war on Jihadism. Military force against al Qaeda in Pakistan has been ratcheted up considerably, even at a civilian cost that remains morally troubling. The US has given notice that it intends to leave Afghanistan with a bang – a big surge, a shift in tactics, and a heavy batch of new troops. Iraq remains dodgy in the extreme, but at least March elections have been finally nailed down.

Domestically, the new president has rescued the banks in a bail-out that has come in at $200 billion under budget; the economy has shifted from a tailspin to stablilization and some prospect of job growth next year; the Dow is at 10,500 a level no one would have predicted this time last year. A stimulus package has helped undergird infrastructure and probably did more to advance non-carbon energy than anything that might have emerged from Copenhagen. Universal health insurance (with promised deficit reduction!) is imminent – a goal sought by Democrats (and Nixon) for decades, impossible under the centrist Clinton, but won finally by a black liberal president. More progress has been made in unraveling the war on drugs this past year than in living memory. The transformation of California into a state where pot is now more available than in Amsterdam is as remarkable as the fact that such new sanity has spread across the country and is at historic highs, so to speak, in the opinion polls. On civil rights, civil marriage came to the nation’s capital city, which has a 60 percent black population. If that doesn’t help reverse some of the gloom from Prop 8 and Maine, what would? And, yes, the unspeakable ban on HIV-positive foreigners was finally lifted, bringing the US back to the center of the global effort to fight AIDS as it should be.

Relations with Russia have improved immensely and may yield real gains in non-proliferation; Netanyahu has moved, however insincerely, toward a two-state solution; Iran’s coup regime remains far more vulnerable than a year ago, paralyzed in its diplomacy, terrified of its own people and constantly shaken by the ongoing revolution; Pakistan launched a major offensive against al Qaeda and the Taliban in its border area; global opinion of the US has been transformed; the Cairo speech and the Nobel acceptance speech helped explain exactly what Obama’s blend of ruthless realism for conflict-management truly means.

The whole article is here.

Boxing Day 2009

Posted by – December 26, 2009

Wow, what a lovely day of nothing much at all: I’m playing my new Sims 3 World Adventures while Rachel is playing Dragon Age (which means it was an EA Christmas for us!); we’re alternately watching a Criminal Minds marathon, & had pizza for dinner with local friends.

Fantastically relaxing & lovely. Hope all you are having a similar good day.

Christmas Goodness: Saving Paws

Posted by – December 25, 2009

For Christmas this year, I thought I’d mention this cool animal shelter we’ve just discovered here in Appleton. Saving Paws is for cats and dogs, and like so many animal shelters, started because one person decided to foster a few cats… and now the organization has 50-75 housed on a regular basis.

If you can, do donate to them.

A very merry Christmas!

Xmas 1984 = 25 Years Ago

Posted by – December 25, 2009

Blame it on my new friend Kathy, who put it up on her Facebook page. I know it was supposed to inspire thoughts of charity – and it did, at the time – but now it just looks like porn what with all those pretty boys in one room.

  • I am 8 years older now than Sting was at the time of the recording. (This is him at the age I am now.)
  • Whatever happened to Paul Young?!
  • Does Paul Weller ever look healthy?
  • Simon LeBon is still a pretentious clod. IMHO, of course.
  • Minor players: Marilyn, Jon from Culture Club, the ladies of Bananrama, Jodi Watley. Can anyone name any of the others?
  • Actually, I’m amazed at how many of these people still have careers.
  • It still makes Betty cry (in a good way).

Santa’s on Twitter

Posted by – December 24, 2009

It’s the NORAD-tracked Santa, with a website & a Twitter feed. Ah, 2010.

Egg Nog Made With Romulan Ale

Posted by – December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve! Check out this amusing post from 2004 about the 10 Least Successful Christmas Specials. Here’s my favorite:

Ayn Rand’s A Selfish Christmas (1951)

In this hour-long radio drama, Santa struggles with the increasing demands of providing gifts for millions of spoiled, ungrateful brats across the world, until a single elf, in the engineering department of his workshop, convinces Santa to go on strike. The special ends with the entropic collapse of the civilization of takers and the spectacle of children trudging across the bitterly cold, dark tundra to offer Santa cash for his services, acknowledging at last that his genius makes the gifts — and therefore Christmas — possible. Prior to broadcast, Mutual Broadcast System executives raised objections to the radio play, noting that 56 minutes of the hour-long broadcast went to a philosophical manifesto by the elf and of the four remaining minutes, three went to a love scene between Santa and the cold, practical Mrs. Claus that was rendered into radio through the use of grunts and the shattering of several dozen whiskey tumblers. In later letters, Rand sneeringly described these executives as “anti-life.”

Dr. Maxwell Anderson is Ill

Posted by – December 23, 2009

Dr. Maxwell Anderson, who was a close friend of Robert Eads’, and who was in the documentary Southern Comfort with his friend, is ill and in the hospital this holiday season.

You can get updates on his health on his blog, but the news is not good.

Please do pray / send good vibes to him depending on how you think of that sort of thing.

There is a message from him here, a short video shot by Monica Helms when she visited him.

Libidinous Libido

Posted by – December 23, 2009

It’s an ongoing bit of news: women who have no libidos, & how we must “fix” them (instead of, say, acknowledging that some people have little to no interest in sex). That we make a regular variation in libido abnormal & try to fix it is one thing, but when the pharmaceutical companies start looking for a cure…

The fact that so many women have a bitter-sweet relationship to Sex in the City, wishing they were a Samantha or a Carrie, yet feeling so sexually flat, may have less to do with a physiological problem than it does with their hard jobs, their demanding children, or their partner leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

Oh, right! Women & their pesky lives, and problems, and responsibilities. Nutty that should bother them or get in the way of their libidos.

Or, like I said, some people don’t have very high libidos. If it’s so hard for women to admit – who at least have some cultural “permission” not to be horndogs 24/7, I can’t even imagine how many men admit they’d rather live without (much) sex.

Two Tune Tuesday: Merry (Marxist) Christmas

Posted by – December 22, 2009

= just what everyone wants: class-conscious christmas songs. Vive la révolution & Joyeux Noël!
(I’m pretty sure Rufus gets an award for using the word “mensch” in a christmas song.)

Solstice

Posted by – December 21, 2009

More light from here on in, so stay cheerful, eat your bananas to defeat SAD, & get through this holiday season without pulling your hair out.

Third Gender: Bakla

Posted by – December 21, 2009

From Wiki:

In the Philippines, a bakla is a male-bodied person who is exclusively attracted to men. Baklas are often considered a third gender, and most baklas display feminine mannerisms and dress as women. Some identify as women.

Baklas are socially and economically integrated into Filipino society, and are considered an important part of society. The stereotype of a bakla is a parlorista, a cross-dresser who works in a beauty salon. Some Filipinos disapprove of baklas, usually for religious reasons.

The term bakla is sometimes used in a derogatory sense to refer to any gay man. Baklas have largely embraced the term, however, and consider themselves different from gay men in other countries.

TransFM Live Call-In (with Helen & Betty)

Posted by – December 20, 2009

In about 20 minutes, or 7PM EST, we’ll be calling into Ethan St. Pierre’s annual TransFM holiday live broadcast.

Internalizing Name Changes

Posted by – December 19, 2009

As most of you know by now, I was not christened Helen Boyd; it is not my legal name, although Helen is my legal middle name. But I’ve come to be known as Helen Boyd, & so when I arrived at Lawrence to teach for only a term, in the winter of 2008, I didn’t think twice about people calling me Helen. I was just ending a year of book tour where being Helen was a normal state of affairs.

Since then, however, we seem to have moved to this Wisconsin town, and the people who met me as Helen still call me Helen, & they introduce me to their friends & fellow faculty as Helen. The name plate on my door says Helen Boyd Kramer. Sometimes, in places where I regularly present a credit card, say at my salon, it’s a little jarring to be called Gail, and even more jarring when one of my friends who calls me Helen is with me, and yet it’s still odd to me that I’m not Gail.

So I’m wondering, trans folk & others who have changed your names, when do you internalize a name change? I find I call myself Gail when I’m talking to myself (and I assume I am (1) not the only one who talks to myself, and (2) not the only one who uses a name when I do).

Then I wonder if it matters much, since my name change has nothing to do with gender.

Where I think it matters is how it intersects with other aspects me that go unrecognized here – like my history of heterosexuality, for starters, and sometimes even my trans-partnerness (since it’s not like we’re out as a trans couple when we talk to our dry cleaners, say).

Face in the Mirror

Posted by – December 19, 2009

Just caught the tail end of a documentary called Face in the Mirror about David Reimer. Has anyone else seen this? I can’t seem to find any more info about it online. Now there’s one on about pumping parties called Lethal Beauty.

Meat or People

Posted by – December 18, 2009

There’s a great video about how women’s bodies are represented in media that was just brought to my attention. It’s in Italian with English subtitles and worth watching. That said, some of the images are really upsetting (and all were broadcast on Italian television).