Whenever I read an article like this one, after I stop being annoyed by the use of the old “hermaphrodite” term – especially when they entirely fail to mention that intersex took its place a long while back – I always have one question: what is with the desire to “fix” something like this condition? While the experience for the individuals in question is no doubt perplexing, does it have to be stigmatized, too?

I’m thinking of an alternate, holistic way of how we might deal with genders like these:

  1. come up with a term for “girls who grow up to be men”
  2. create a coming-of-age ritual, something akin to Quinceañera or Confirmation or Bat Mitzvah, or even some secular version
  3. establish bureaucratic protocols for the individuals in question
  4. instead of copping a “wow, nature can really fuck up” attitude, try a “what amazing natural variation is possible” instead.
  5. stop repeating the bullshit about how they need “complicated sex change surgery to live normal lives”

That is, recognize them as a gender, acknowledge that all paths to adulthood are not the same, that penises are swell but not everything, & let them get on with their lives.

Cooter Couture

Saturday is a good day to talk about vaginas, no? AlterNet seems to think so, with this lovely article about all the stuff the health & beauty industry thinks is wrong with yours, & how they can fix it: with surgery, bleach, dye, douches, deodorant, & mints. Yes, mints. They did forget one recent beauty aid, however:

Problem: Your vagina is plain.

Solution: Vajazzle.

Really, folks, you can get your beaver bejeweled now with tiny crystals to make it glitter like a disco ball.

That’s pretty much 7 quick paths to a yeast infection. None of these procedures is ever encouraged by anyone with a legitimate medical degree, and most of them can cause serious harm. Regular bathing & cotton panties may seem so old-fashioned, but it’s still what the best-kept vaginas are wearing.

(h/t to Diane for the vajazzling)


I’ve always wanted to see Nepal, and it seems now I’ve got an additional reason to go:

The traditionally conservative country’s Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex are natural persons irrespective of their masculine and feminine gender and they have the right to exercise their rights and live an independent life in society.”  Nepali homosexuals are afforded all of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, and Nepal has even offered a “third sex” option for its national ID cards.  Gay and gay-friendly clubs now abound in Kathmandu and the Blue Diamond Society keeps the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community appraised of relevant information with a brightly-colored and cheerful website.

(thanks to Cris for the link)

Double Whammy: Zinn & Salinger

The world has gotten significantly less smart in the past two days: first we lost the people’s historian, Howard Zinn, whose books educated so many of us as to the real legacy of American Populism.

& Today: Salinger.

I can’t come up with anything better to do than dig the heels of my hands into my eyes and sit, fully dressed, in a bathroom stall, with my own grief. You remember the scene: it’s from Franny & Zoey.

Let me say right here & now that I don’t care if he wrote or what he wrote since he’s been in exile. It’s not like there have been any American authors that even touch his four books’ worth of genius.

Transgender College Athletes

An interesting article from Inside College Ed on trans athletes at the college level states:

For the most part, athletic teams at high schools and colleges are segregated by sex and divided into men’s and women’s teams. For transgender students, determining on which gender’s team, if any, they will be allowed to play can be a difficult process fraught with misconceptions, ignorance and discrimination. Few high school or collegiate athletic programs, administrators or coaches are prepared to address a transgender student’s interest in participating in athletics in a systematic, fair and effective manner. Few athletes have been given the information that would prepare them to participate on a team with a teammate whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.


If I’m not mistaken, the President just reprimanded the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Supreme Court, and did all of it with a smile on his face & a reminder of our shared love for this country.

From the NYS Pride Agenda

GENDA could pass this winter – take action now!

Last week when we wrote to you about the Senate marriage vote, we told you we’d be reaching out again soon about our plans for 2010. Today, we’re updating you on our legislative priority for this winter: to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

GENDA would amend the state’s human rights law to include anti-discrimination protections based upon gender identity and expression, providing crucial civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers by banning discrimination in housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and other areas of everyday life. It would also add gender identity and expression to the state’s bias crime laws to help protect transgender people from violence. Last month, Governor Paterson signed an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression for state employees—but our work isn’t over until ALL New Yorkers are protected by a comprehensive law banning discrimination against transgender people.

We need you to take action NOW. With just two phone calls to Senators, you can help us win:

1. Call Senator Tom Duane, lead sponsor of GENDA, at (518) 455-2451. Ask Senator Duane to bring the bill to the floor for a vote in February.

2. Call your own Senator to tell them that you expect them to bring GENDA to the floor and vote in support of it. You can find your State Senator’s Albany phone number here.

Here are some talking points for your calls:

1. Remember to tell your Senator the number of the GENDA bill (S.2406).

2. Ask your Senator to vote for GENDA, and if you are able to attend a legislative meeting, ask to meet with him or her to discuss the urgency of passing this bill right away.

3. Tell them about the urgent need for GENDA:

  • Due to difficulty with job discrimination, one-fifth of transgender New Yorkers have incomes below $10,000 a year.
  • 28% of transgender New Yorkers have experienced a serious physical or sexual assault motivated by hate.

4.  Remind them that GENDA enjoys broad support statewide, including:

  • 78% of New York voters
  • Unions representing 2.1 million working New Yorkers
  • 30 Fortune 500 companies based in cities like Rochester, Corning, New York City and White Plains
  • 547 clergy and lay leaders representing over 20 different denominations

Continue reading “From the NYS Pride Agenda”

Two Tune Tuesday: Cuban Tunes

One of the things I like best about where I work is that there’s a ton of music around, because Lawrence has its own Conservatory. I go to stuff all the time; a few weeks ago I caught a lecture/performance of Cuban music and since then have been poking around, asking people like my parents (who cha cha cha’d their way into marriage, as it were, & are Xavier Cugat fans).

A tiny detail: Tito Puente wasn’t himself Cuban but Puerto Rican, but the music he popularized (but didn’t invent) was Afro-Cuban. Benny More was known as the “Sinatra of Cuba” and there’s a cool book about him called Wildman of Rhythm: The Life and Music of Benny Moré.

Name Changes in the NYT

A NYT article on trasngender name changes actually gives equal time to the guys: will wonders never cease?

(But of course there’s all the usual nail polish & make-up bullshit.)

Tomboy Sues Former Employer

The St. Louis Court of Appeals reversed a previous decision that stated Brenna Lewis could not sue her employer for firing her – for being too masculine.

Citing court records, the AP reports that Cullinan prefers to wear loose-fitting clothes such as men’s button-down shirts and slacks. She has been mistaken for a man and referred to as “tomboyish,” the story says. Cullinan, meanwhile, said Lewis lacked the “Midwestern girl look” and was heard saying that Heartland staff should be pretty, especially for women working at the front desk, the AP story says, citing court records.

I hope she wins. & Honestly, I hope Cullinan loses her job for making such a dumb-ass decision.

(h/t to Courtney)

Two Walls

Here’s an interesting article by a Jewish trans woman on two visits to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem – one before, one after transition.

(h/to to Sarah)

Joel in Alaska; Helen in Wisconsin

Some thoughts on living in Wisconsin:

  • I’m starting to wonder if my years watching Northern Exposure was actually a prep course.
  • I try not to be an asshole NYer who is always trying to find the NYC cognate for everything I experience. Also, I try to keep discussions of said cognates to conversations with other people who have also lived in NYC.
  • I am regularly amazed at how self-deprecating WI people are about living in WI.
  • I am surprised when I am homesick and surprised when I am not.
  • It doesn’t take long before you find yourself looking at a 19 degree temp and thinking, “it’s only 19” instead of “that’s fucking cold.” Because “only 19” means no long johns; you reserve those for the temps that hover just over or just under 0.
  • I regularly feed wild rabbits that live in the lawn next to my house. We buy carrots for them. We probably shouldn’t.
  • I read an essay by Daniel Nester about leaving NYC and wonder exactly why I stayed in NY for so long except for the obvious reason that I couldn’t conceive of living anywhere else.
  • Every once in a while, we realize that all of our new friends are incredibly smart, mostly geeky, & definitely bookish, and we are very happy about that.
  • I’m not sure you’ve ever really been drunk until you’re drunk in a blizzard at a friend’s wedding in an Irish bar in Wisconsin. (Though I’m not sure you’ve ever really been drunk until you’re drunk in a ladies’ room full of drag queens and burlesque stars, either.)

Miama Beach News

Miami Beach just added language to their human relations ordinance in order to protect transgender residents from discrimination.

Cagney & Lacey Reunited Tonight

For those who were fans: Cagney & Lacey are going to be re-united on that hip spy series Burn Notice tonight; Sharon Gless, who played Cagney, is a regular on the show, on which she plays Michael Weston’s mom.

This Just In: Men Have Ordinary Bodies, Too

Who knew? But watch for the guys with regular bodies during the Superbowl (where it might be otherwise unclear that we are not engineering masculinity these days).

Paul Scott: Wasting Your Time

There’s a guy named Paul Scott who’s running for Secretary of State in Michigan. You know, that state that gets TB when the rest of the country has a cough.

I haven’t been flabbergasted for some time, but this hatefulness blew me away. In his opening bid to become Secretary of State, he lists four things he aims to do:

There are also policies that I will work to change:

  • I will stand strong against illegal immigration by verifying a valid social security number before issuing anyone a driver’s license, an issue Representative Dave Agema has been pushing for 3 years.
  • I will actively push to encrypt the traceable RFID chip in the enhanced driver’s license.
  • I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.
  • I will work tirelessly to repeal the over $100 million dollar tax increase on drivers in the form of driver responsibility fees.

The third one, which I’ve put in bold, completely surprised me. I thought for a minute I was reading a parody & checked the page to make sure it wasn’t The Onion. On the one hand, I’m kind of blown away that the need for gender marker changes on ID is even being recognized as something transgender people need to do. On the other: really? Is blocking a transgender person’s right to change their gender marker a key issue?

Wow. Maybe his tag line should be “Vote for Paul Scott: He’ll Waste Everyone’s Time with Big Brother Bullshit.”

(h/t to Adrien and Paula, via FB)

RIP Kate McGarrigle

Rufus and Martha Wainwight’s mom Kate McGarrigle died on Monday Kate McGarrigle had one of the most angelic voices ever. So go watch and listen to her perform a song she wrote with her two talented kids. We all really hoped she’d beat that thing.

Two Tune Tuesday: Forgotten 80s Love Songs

Maybe not entirely forgotten, but highly neglected: The Polecats song is just charming as hell, and I can’t think of another song that has the word “oscillator” in it. Fine Early Geekage Period. The Hoodoo Gurus actually had a couple of other tracks people might remember – notably “Bittersweet” – but this was always my favorite, mostly for the yes yes yes yes i’m impressed bit.

More MLK (You’ve Never Heard)

Like this bit by illdoctrine.com a lot – the quotes, the delivery, the idea.

(h/t to Adrien)

MLK Jr. Day

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”
– Dr. King

It’s always been a favorite of mine.