Gender Normative

I had a student tell me of a new terminology that seems to be making the rounds: gender normative privilege, which would be, of course, the privilege of normative gender over non-normative ones.

It may be the excellent response I have been looking for to contend with the way cisgender often seems to mean transphobic to some. What I’ve noticed is that this cissexual has “dyke” yelled at her out of car windows and my lovely partner does not. It’s nice to have a word for her being normal, despite being trans, and me being odd, despite being cis.

Of course the idea of gender normativity isn’t new, nor is the idea of normative genders being privileged over non-normative ones. What is new is the idea that it further complicates that whole cis/trans binary I dislike so much.


New York, if you’re trying to get us back by proving you can have as much snow as Wisconsin, it’s not going to work.


There’s an interesting conversation about transgender identities, and transsexual ones, over at Trans Group Blog. Do go check it out.

Weir: Fabulous & Smart

The flamboyant skater told reporters Wednesday he wants the sportscasters to “think twice before they speak in the future,” but he said he isn’t interested in apologies.

Weir said he found the comments “offensive” but that they didn’t matter much to him. He did say he worried about what effect such comments might have on kids and other athletes.

I love it.

Learning to Speak Privilege

A few weeks back there was this NYT article about how women need to learn how to speak ‘nanny.”

The whole idea is fucked up in so many ways I can’t even articulate, but let me try: the idea of some women “buying” their freedom as a result of being able to pay other women to take care of their children is screwed up. The cultural differences are screwed up. The fact that most of the women who need to learn to speak nanny are bound to be rich white women – while their nannies are poor brown women – just pisses me off.

Take this paragraph, for instance:

The mother, at times beset by guilt, a touch of intimidation or feelings of her own maternal inadequacy, fails to articulate what she wants from the nanny — and then complains to friends, her spouse or an Internet message board when she doesn’t get it. (The father in many cases steers clear of the whole relationship.)

Wow, right? That little parenthetical is about as huge as Mrs. Ramsey’s death in To the Lighthouse, no? Yes, the father steers clear of it all. Now there’s your article, NYT!

Two Tune Tuesday: St. Julian

I found myself humming The Teardrop Explodes’ “When I Dream” out of the blue the other day, which reminded me of course of Julian Cope, who about 3 of you maybe remember, and hopefully this will scratch an itch for those of you who love 80s stuff that maybe you haven’t discovered yet.

Introducing Kate Bornstein

I had the lovely honor of getting to introduce Kate Bornstein when she spoke at Lawrence, & thought those of you who couldn’t be there might want to know what I said.

Welcome Lawrentians, Appletonians, geeks, freaks & Others with a capital O

Thank you for coming.

What I first started working as an advocate and ally to the transgender community, one of the first authors people recommended was Kate Bornstein. What self professed tomboy could resist a title like Gender Outlaw? I couldn’t stop reading it and I still haven’t. I still re-read sections of it with my classes  & on my own. I read My Gender Workbook – and took all the quizzes – and Hello Cruel World, which taught me that superheroes are, after all, outsiders. So it was a real pleasure, and honor, when a website that features interviews with authors by authors asked me to talk to her. We had been introduced long before then, but that was when we really met. & What surprised me and impressed me the most – amongst all the other possibilities – was how many questions she asked. She is, after all, the Grand Dame of transgender activism and has influenced a generation or two of gender activists, artists, & theorists. As our one hour on the phone turned into three, I realized that it might be because she asks such good questions – of others, & of herself – that she is the star she is.

The questions she has asked of herself have not been easy ones, and they tend to be the kinds of questions most of us would rather avoid. They’re sticky, troublesome questions about identity, and desire, and the dark things that go bump in our psyches when we’r ealone. They are questions of survival, first, but of joy and creativity and community too. She asks them with curiosity & a kind of Puckish delight, which is why she is the 21st century role model for the many communities she inspires.

Please join me in welcome the astonishing, rule-breaking, and shame-liberating Kate Bornstein.

She did tell me she very much liked being referred to as a Grand Dame. Rachel & I had the lovely honor and pleasure of getting to hear a reading of one chapter from her upcoming Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, and let me/us tell you: we are in for a real treat. It will be published in Spring 2011 by Seven Stories Press.


Back in Appleton after the Big Gay Conference and kind of exhausted. More when I’ve fully recovered. But hot damn on getting to spend five days in a row with Kate Bornstein!

Dilly Boy Bar

Dairy Queen – whose name is funny enough, really, & kind of obscene – sells something they call a Dilly Bar.

A Dilly Bar. It sounds obscene in so many ways, doesn’t it?

But what makes me laugh the hardest is that “dilly boy” is slang (in Polari) for a male prostitute. So theoretically, a bar where male prostitutes hang out should be called a Dilly Boy Bar.

(Okay, so my mind’s in the gutter. And?)

Wiki Win

A sociology student put a fake quote into the Wiki entry for French composer Maurice Jarre nearly immediatley after he died, and the quote got picked up all over the place by journalists writing Jarre’s obituary:

“The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source,” said the readers’ editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.

A Grand Dame Sort of Day

It’s my mom’s 80th birthday today, & Kate Bornstein is on her way to Lawrence to speak tonight.

I feel very thankful for the strong women who raised me and who continue to challenge and support me.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I know you said we weren’t supposed to do anything, but hopefully this doesn’t count.

LeGuin on Google Books & Author’s Guild

For those of you who are continuing to follow the hullabaloo about Google Books, and specifically Author’s Guild’s settlement with them, do listen to this interview with Ursula LeGuin, who cancelled her membership to Author’s Guild as a result of the settlement.

She also has interesting things to say about the state of the book, education and literacy in the US, and her current project.

Shrove Tuesday…

… might be better known as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, to those of you who weren’t raised Catholic, but it’s today. While in a Taco Bell I saw a sign that said Great Taste During Lent which listed a bunch of their vegetarian options. I grew up in one of the most Catholic cities in the world, but I have never, ever seen a sign like that. I shouldn’t be too surprised in a town that still has a “Friday Fish Fry” tradition, but okay – I was surprised. Taco Bell: where Catholicism and Vegetarianism intersect.

Since I seem to have mostly given up meat – it’s been about two months now, even if I am far from a purist about it – I’m not sure what exactly I should give up for Lent. That I should give up *something* is a no-brainer. I don’t give up anything because I’m a practicing Catholic – despite my mother’s best wishes, I am an apostate – but flexing a little self-discipline muscle isn’t particularly bad for a person. I have until midnight to make up my mind: suggestions? Is it possible to give up a negative? As in, can I give up not writing?

In the meanwhile: HAPPY MARDI GRAS! (I am so jealous of my friends who made it down to NOLA in the past week! What a party.)

Two Tune Tuesday: Gone!

There’s no one who hates Robert Plant as much as I do, but the stuff he recorded with Allison Kraus is too gorgeous, so here’s a track as part of a set of melodic antidotes to all the Valentine’s frippery we all love to hate. The other by the Violent Femmes, and honestly I think this is a recording that should have been on the Eraserhead soundtrack (yes, there was one) since it’s just that right kind of creepy.

& Please don’t try to talk me out of my dislike of Robert Plant or Led Zeppelin: deaf ears I’ve got on the subject.

Appleton Public Library

I’m doing a reading / Q&A at Appleton Public Library on March 3rd @ 6:30 PM. If you’re on Facebook, you can check out the event page here, & RSVP.

Like a Sex Machine

A lovely article at has illustrations of six turn-of-the-last-century masturbatory machines. My favorite is the chair that simulates the jerkiness of train travel, since perhaps its existence explains my great love of trains.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Together or apart, single or poly, it is obvious that there is no excuse not to feel the love, or at least the pleasure. If the Victorians could create machines to meet your needs, then surely you can find something that scratches your itch. (The romantic itch is much harder to reach, so maybe it’s better to take care of the ones that are more easily scratched.)

(Thanks to Jacq Jones @ Sugar)

Happy Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day, Rufus Wainwright performing “My Funny Valentine” with his late mom, Kate McGarrigle.

Scent of a Woman (in a Bottle)

I’m not surprised by much, but this one got me: a scent called Vulva that isn’t a perfume but an erotic aid.

It’s not a joke, & it’s NSFW. They say smell is our strongest sense, so it makes perfect sense, except – well, wow.

(via Bilerico)

Kate Bornstein Comes to Lawrence

Kate Bornstein is coming to Lawrence University on Wednesday, February 17th & Thursday, February 18th. We are very, very pleased.

The listing is on the LU Gender Studies blog, and there is, of course, a Facebook event page.