Cesar Chavez Day

& Happy Cesar Chavez Day! Go unions!

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” – Cesar Chavez

Women’s Career Event Tonight

I’m part of a panel discussion tonight, hosted by Lawrence’s Diversity Center, called “Women: Breaking Boundaries & Reaching Your Goals.” The other women on the panel are:

Professor Rosa Tapia
Amy Uecke, Acting Dean of Students
Yvette Dunlap, Asst. Superintendent AASD
Lyndsay Sund, Assc. Dir. Of Alumni & Constituency Engagement
Kathy Flores, Diversity Coord. for the Appleton Mayor’s Office
Maiyoua Thao, VP of Universal Translation & Staffing Inc.

I’m very much looking forward to hearing how these other women approached their own goals.

Two Tune Tuesday: Androgyny

I’m starting to teach Transgender Lives today, for the third time, at Lawrence, so this seemed appropriate.

To save you the time & trouble, here are the lyrics:

Continue reading “Two Tune Tuesday: Androgyny”

“Lesbian” Strippers in SF

Only Republicans would go to a bondage strip club in San Francisco and spend $2k to see strippers pretend to be lesbians when most people just go to the parks, movies, and bars to see actual lesbians make out in public.

ENDA Petition

Sign the petition to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the Courage Campaign and GetEQUAL.

Dear Speaker Nancy Pelosi —

With health care legislation passing, now is the time to institute workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Rep. Tammy Baldwin says she believes that we have the votes to pass ENDA, and Rep. George Miller has said the bill is ready to come out of committee now that the health care bill has passed. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, we call on you to act boldly and decisively and bring ENDA to the floor for a vote now.

*First Name

*Last Name



Cell Phone**

** You may receive text messages or calls from GetEQUAL.org. Standard text messaging charges will apply.

Christine Daniels Follow-Up

The LA Times has a new story about Christine Daniels which says much of what many of us expected:

Daniels, who had been writing a sports-media column called Sound and Vision, had her last byline in The Times on April 4, 2008, then went on extended disability leave. She was despondent — close friends knew she was manic depressive — failing to eat and stricken with esophageal pain.

Daniels told Amy LaCoe, her transsexual friend, that she had ruined her marriage and made a mess of her life. LaCoe insisted that Daniels stay with her for a couple months. “She stared at my bedroom ceiling for a long time,” LaCoe said. “She had stopped caring about herself.”

Daniels stopped taking hormones and began getting rid of the physical trappings of Christine, LaCoe said, giving the jewelry and shoe collection to friends, donating the wigs, carting the clothes to Goodwill. In a matter of months, the whole identity had been banished . . . . When the sportswriter returned to work as Mike Penner in late October 2008, co-workers noticed that his manner was remote, his handshake unsteady. His face was changed, the jaw line permanently smooth from electrolysis. He did not want to talk about his experience, much less write about it.

When a transsexual friend asked what had happened, Penner responded, “Well, that’s why there’s a real-life test.” Friends said he held out hopes of saving his marriage, but by year’s end, his divorce was finalized.

Such a sad story.

Ongoing GLAAD Battle

I can’t say I’m surprised, but people are upset with GLAAD for starting a petition that asks Tribeca Film Fest not to show Ticked off Trannies With Knives. There are a couple of objections being made in various corners of the comments sections of the blogosphere:

1) The free speech argument: this is art, a film, and GLAAD shouldn’t be trying to censor it.
2) This is a camp film, and earnest people (trans or otherwise) obviously don’t get it.
3) Earnest trannies need to get over themselves.

So here’s my response.
1) Free speech goes both ways. One group has the right to make a film; the other has a right to protest it. I’m not big on censorship; in fact, I hate it. But there are days and times when the sheer violence committed against a community is enough to make you want to shut down one more bad joke calling itself art.
2) Camp is only funny when you’re making it about your own gang.
3) Fuck you. Honestly, does it ever work to tell someone that the real problem is their lack of a sense of humor? Um, no.

As I said elsewhere, when you work in the trans community, it is a relief to hear that someone you know has died of cancer because they didn’t die of violent means. That is the reality of trans life.

It’s true that not all trans people ‘get’ camp, just like all gay men don’t. It’s an acquired taste, like drag. Assuming that camp is readily understood and appreciated is a huge mistake to make. It is very apparent that the makers of this film don’t seem to know the difference between drag queens and trans women, or only know a subset who identify as both. While I agree that the title of the flick – Ticked Off Trannies With Knives – does signal camp, the trailer actually used images of actual trans people who have actually died of violent crimes. That is not camp. That’s not even bad taste. That’s exploitation – and not the cool, hipster variety – of others’ suffering. If that is only the fault of whoever made the trailer, then they need to fix that. But honestly, I doubt it’s just the trailer.

I have been working in and with the trans community for something like 10 years now. I am beginning to understand the incredible variety of lived trans identities. So if you think you’re hip to trans identities and trans lives, you probably aren’t. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an ally. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about the trans community. But what it might mean, and often does mean, is that when you have an entire community reeling in horror from a phrase (“hot tranny mess”) or a film (like this one), then maybe, just maybe, you need to shut up & listen & not pull this patriarchal bullshit. Being gay (or a member of whatever other oppressed group) does not give a person instant knowledge of and deep compassion with other people’s suffering. What it gives you is a chance to empathize — a chance that you will waste entirely if you always think you’re right.

It may be that people with friends who call each other tranny – and there’s plenty of trans people who do use the term tranny – doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in the public realm. It may be that your trans friends have already decided that you are so beyond the pale that there is no point in trying to explain. It may be that the trans people you know are simply exhausted from dealing with this bullshit ALL THE TIME.

I know I am. So maybe, for once, we can let the people who the joke is about decide if it’s funny or not. In this case: that joke isn’t funny anymore. (& Neither was Dan Savage, btw, of whom I expect far better, and who posted this piece, as if penance.)

Really, is it worth the joke? Is a movie like this really such great art that an entire community – a community that gets more than its fair share of violence, discrimination, and general shite – be reminded that even people who are their supposed allies don’t get it?

Sign the petition. And please, STFU about how unfair it all is.

A P.S. for my gender communities: some of the people who say transphobic shit are gay, and some of them aren’t. Some of them are cis, & some of them aren’t. Please try to avoid the sweeping generalizations about who is saying transphobic things, and instead name the actual people who are doing so, or call out actual comments that have been posted. Generalizing that “gay men / cis people are transphobic” is counter-productive and, oh, totally false.

GLAAD Petitions Tribeca Film Fest – Sign It!

GLAAD has now seen Ticked Off Trannies with Knives and is asking that Tribeca Film Fest remove it. You can sign a petition.

All Wood Paroxysm

Here’s a cool article about women being sports fans AND consumers. The way she describes things is exactly the way I feel, as a musichead, reading something like Rolling Stone, which is still aimed at the guys.

It becomes a vicious circle: you have female fans of whatever sport/band/computer game, but when they go online & try to find more information, or community, they’re smacked down with some incredibly sexist image of women that puts them off. So they don’t join the forums, and the only woman who got past the stupid sexist image of women on the main page feels like she’s the only one around.

Brizendine Brain

It’s part of my job to read stuff about genders and brains. Sadly, however, I have to slog through articles where the author, while talking about sex drives and teenagers, says this about teenage boys:

“This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex.”

As soon as I see a line like that, what any of my Gender Studies 100 students would call heterocentric bullshit, I know that I”m dealing with someone who is a gender essentialist – someone who believes in binary gender, that women are always female and always feminine, too.

But then I see something like this:

All that testosterone drives the “Man Trance”– that glazed-eye look a man gets when he sees breasts. As a woman who was among the ranks of the early feminists, I wish I could say that men can stop themselves from entering this trance. But the truth is, they can’t. Their visual brain circuits are always on the lookout for fertile mates. Whether or not they intend to pursue a visual enticement, they have to check out the goods.

I don’t doubt that plenty of men love breasts a lot, or that some of them get kind of stupid around them. But the assumption that women don’t do the same thing around breasts, if they like breasts, or in response to – let’s say big hands or broad shoulders – seems ridiculous, too.

What bothers me most is how insulting this idea is to the men I know. I love men with high libidos, and I love people with high sex drives. They’re my people. But the idea that any kind of lust is somehow uncontainable because of a person’s gender – please. Men are not apes; they can be subtle, use discretion, and get in a sidelong glance in when a woman isn’t looking. Actually drooling near cleavage is not required. That’s not asking a man to be less of a man – that’s just asking him to have some manners.

As I often like to say at the beginning of Trans 101, most of my job is undoing what people think they know about trans identities. Gender Studies 100 is all that x2, because sadly, these kinds of articles are everywhere, all the time.

Anyway, forget what Louann Brizendine has to say about “male” brains and “female” brains. The important thing here is that Brizendine brains come to whopping, unfounded conclusions about male and female behavior based on very little evidence. So be thankful you haven’t got one of those.

Two Tune Tuesday :radiohead:

A friend recently admitted, shyly, that he can’t seem to “get into” Radiohead and asked me what, exactly, I like about them. My first thought was “What’s not to like?” but then I said things about their unusual rhythms, the layers of sound, the density of the expression. Good lyrics. They are, in a nutshell, a lovely electronic tilt at a quixotic world. They’re also the first band Betty turned me onto; I returned the favor with Elvis Costello.

The first song I heard was the first one here, “High and Dry.” “No Surprises” was probably my next favorite.
“There There” is my favorite song in the world to dance to. Really. (Followed closely by “Idioteque” which seems to be one of Thom Yorke’s favorites to dance to as well.)
“Stop Whispering” is the perfect angry but exhausted song ever.

So, yeah. (There’s plenty more Radiohead I could add, but theoretically, at least, it’s one thing to double “two tunes” another to make it “Twelve Tune Tuesday.”)

Pelosi Doesn’t Have Balls

Fantastic rant from ultrageek over at Daily Kos:

She has courage. She has guts. She has a spine. She has tenacity. She has fortitude. BUT, she does NOT have balls. The inner feminist in me, long hidden in my workaday world, has been getting more and more irritated all day by the continual reference to Speaker Pelosi’s non-existent testicles.


It took someone with a uterus to make this happen, to bring this home.

And, while I’m at it, can we please stop talking about what a good looking woman she is? How she looks so young, and vibrant, and HOT?


This woman brings home one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in 45 years, and we talk about her HOTness? Are you shitting me?

No, they are not shitting you, ultrageek; a woman’s hotness is still, surely, far more important than her accomplishments. (& We wonder why we can’t get more women into office.)

Bathroom Salon

& Here’s some more (not) good news: a group called Mass Resistance took video of First Event, the annual trans party/conference that takes place up in Boston in January of every year. They cobbled together some footage (badly) in order to show very tall trans women & crossdressers using the ladies’ room at the Radisson where the event was held.

What’s funny about the video is how horrendously boring it all looks. I mean, video footage of people going into & leaving a bathroom is exactly that. You may as well watch paint dry. With any luck, at least some of the people who viewed it thought, “um, yeah. People using a bathroom. Nothing horrible happened.”

On a positive note, Salon’s Broadsheet actually covered the horror of the bigotry being expressed. It’s good to see Salon start to cover trans issues with compassion and even some regularity.

(to to Jean)

Comedy Film About Trans Violence?

(via IFGE)

Happy 100th Anniversary, Die Transvestiten

It’s been a hundred years since Magnus Hirschfeld published The Transvestites. The earliest bibliographic entries Ray Blanchard tracked down are these:

Die Transvestiten – Eine Untersuchung über den erotischen Verkleidungstrieb [Transvestites – A Study of the Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress], Pulvermacher, Berlin, 1910.

Co-authored with Max Tilke: Die Transvestiten – Der erotische Verkleidungstrieb [Transvestites – The Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress], Illustrierter Teil, Pulvermacher, Berlin, 1912.

How cool is that? I couldn’t help but think that Virginia Prince died only last year, at the age of 96. Imagine, she was born only a few years after that book was published, when the idea of anyone being “out” about crossdressing was – to borrow from Hirschfeld’s language – verboten.

It’s hard to imagine what might have been, if the Nazis had not destroyed Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex.

Rant On

Sometimes, only a rant will do. This one is called “I’m just a Bundle of Sticks… I’m Meant to Be Aflame.”

The thing about being a fag is that it’s tiring. I am tired of your ignorant comments that you are too thick to get are ignorant. I am not a woman, so please, stop treating me like one. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with being a woman, just that my sexual orientation does not change or even affect my gender identity. Stop treating me like “one of the girls,” I can assure that I am a guy. And that works conversely for all of your lesbian friends who, by the way, are not all on sports teams! Once again: sexual orientation and gender identity not conflatable.

It was written by a gay college student who was “born in the south, raised in Colordao Springs (the Evangelical capital of America… did I mention that I am a Jew), and did high school in New York City.”

Move ENDA Now

Take Action: Demand LGBT Employment Rights Today

Note from Helen: (en)gender is participating in a blogswarm today with Bilerico Project, Daily Kos, Open Left, Towleroad, Pam’s House Blend, Joe My God, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Daily Gotham, Culture Kitchen, Taylor Marsh, Page One Q, and Dan Savage, among others. Contact Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ask that she move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3017) to a floor vote.

ENDA is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and would prohibit job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Hearings were held in the House and in the Senate to demonstrate the need for the bill, and testimony was heard on the severe unemployment, underemployment and harassment experienced by LGBT workers. Witnesses testified to the scientific studies demonstrating this.

A clue to the inaction: Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly told Democrats that she would not move controversial bills. Meanwhile, the House Committee has stated its readiness to move, but is waiting for a signal from Speaker Pelosi. She doesn’t move it, & we can’t wait any more: there is a majority in both Houses of Congress in favor of ENDA. Now is the time to move it.

Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote. Please be polite, but firm.

More at Bilerico, and especial thanks to Jillian Weiss.

French Trans Documentary

US Nuns Rock the House (& the Church)

It’s rare that a bit of political news actually makes me tear up, but the efforts by the Catholic US nuns today did:

Their numbers and influence may be declining, but American nuns demonstrated Wednesday what generations of schoolchildren already knew: They are a force to be reckoned with.

By sending a letter to Congress in support of the Senate healthcare bill, a wide coalition of nuns took sides against not only the Republican minority but against their own church hierarchy, as represented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the bill. The nuns’ letter contributed to the momentum in favor of the legislation, despite opposition that is partially rooted in a disagreement over abortion funding.

“We agree that there shouldn’t be any federal funding of abortion,” said Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice advocacy organization that spearheaded the effort. “From our reading of the bill, there isn’t any federal funding of abortion.”

Rock on, ladies.

Wrong Picture

Wow. Just wow. I’m not even sure I can articulate how offensive this is, & in how many ways.