Memorial Day

Just wanted to take a moment to thank all the LGBT soldiers in the US Armed Forces – past & present – who have served in silence.

Kottangulangara Chamayavilakku Festival

A festival that happens in Kerala, India, in which male-bodied people dress to honor the goddess Devi. Some of the people who participate are hjira, the MTF spectrum “third sex” recognized in India.

(If anyone can get me a translation, I’d really appreciate it.)


WPATH, the World Professsional Association for Transgender Health – the organization formerly known as HBIGDA, or the Harry Benjamin Internaltional Gender Dysphoria Association – has issued a statement/report on their recommendations for the “gender incongruence” (formerly known as GID, & previously as gender dysphoria) for the upcoming DSM V.

You can read the whole of the 9 page .pdf here.

Here are excerpts:

The WPATH Consensus Group believes that gender variance is not in and of itself pathological and that having a cross- or transgender identity does not constitute a psychiatric disorder (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press). However, the WPATH Consensus Group did not reach consensus on whether or not the diagnosis should be retained or removed. Instead, participants chose to present a continuum of positions ranging from removal to reform with the majority advocating for reform (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press; Ehrbar, in press, for a discussion of the pros and cons for removal or reform).

Instead of broadening the diagnosis, the WPATH Consensus Group recommends a narrowing of the diagnosis to those who experience distress associated with gender incongruence (Knudson, De Cuypere, & Bockting, in press). Therefore, we disagree with the absence of a distress component in the proposed criteria. It appears that in an honourable attempt to be inclusive of the wide spectrum of gender variance and gender variant identities, and to account for healthy, well adjusted individuals who might seek hormonal or surgical interventions, the workgroup decided to remove any component of distress or suffering which lead many transgender and transsexual individuals to seek treatment (see also Meyer-Bahlburg, 2010). Above all, it is treatment for the latter group, those who are experiencing distress or suffer, which justifies and might necessitate a diagnosis. If there is no distress or suffering and no treatment is desired, why is a diagnosis needed?

The WPATH Consensus Group recognizes that although some children present with gender dysphoria, it persists in few into adolescence or adulthood (American Psychological Association, 2009). Many of the behaviours captured in the proposed criteria are seen by many as variation in normal development, although sometimes heavily stigmatized, which a diagnostic label might reinforce (Pleak, Herbert and Shapiro, 2009). The WPATH workgroup charged with reviewing and making recommendations for revision considered to recommend removal of the childhood diagnosis, yet consensus on this issue was not achieved. What we did reach consensus on is that, if a childhood diagnosis would be retained, it should only apply to those with a desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that he or she is of the other gender, reflective of persistent and severe internal dysphoria associated with incongruence between sex assigned at birth and gender identity (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press).

(thanks to Courtney)

DADT House Vote

The US House of Reps voted today to repeal DADT.
The Senate’s next.


So Matt Lauer had an affair with a trans woman who is “related to” Whitney Houston, and a guy writes to Dan Savage to find out where he can have sex with a trans woman who isn’t a sex worker.

Really, where do you start? With anyone calling an African American woman a “soulfood side piece”?

But Dan Savage seems to be actively compensating for the times he hasn’t been as hip to trans stuff as he should have been. At least.

(thanks to DonnaT for both stories)

Two Tune Tuesday: Lene Lovich

& here’s a bunch more on

Nevada Forges Ahead

Cassandra Keenan at Bilerico reprots that Nevada has just managed not to require genital reconstructive surgery for a change in gender marker on driver’s licenses.

Instead, a doctor gets to fill out a form answering “male” or “female” on what the person’s gender identity is, whether they live full-time as their identified gender and/or are undergoing treatment.

It’s a far cry from perfect – the crossdressers and genderqueer populations left out as usual – but it’s something.

NSFW: Buck Angel

I may as well continue with my theme on trans guys, so here’s an interview with FTM porn star Buck Angel, and a blog post by him about getting hate mail from – of all groups – the trans male community.

Happy Harvey Milk Day!

Athens Boys Choir

As a kind of postscript to Amos Mac and Original Plumbing here’s Athens Boys Choir:

Athens Boys Choir is a he, not a them, and he comes with a huge sense of humor. I’m sure plenty of people won’t appreciate what he’s up to, along the lines of: is he a trans guy? or a drag king? both? is a man who wants to date a man but who can handle a vagina a gay man or what?

I don’t know, but I love it.

Amos Mac + Original Plumbing Magazine

How I miss Brooklyn and its hipsters, especially all the queerios and genderf***ers. (I know it’s fashionable to mock hipsters, but I was one before it was a pejorative.)

Either way, Amos Mac lives in Brooklyn now, and he publishes Original Plumbing – the term used by no-bottom-surgery FTM spectrum types to explain their bits – which is a new magazine for trans masculine folks. You can find OP on FB, too.

Mac doesn’t really see himself as a guy, but as a “transman,” someone who started out female and then shifted to the masculine side of the gender spectrum. And yet Mac also identifies as a “queer guy,” which means he often finds himself attracted to, and dating, gay men. He’s an exemplar for a new generation less concerned with gender boundaries. “When I was a woman or girl or whatever,” Mac says, “I very much identified as a fag. I was drawn to the community of gay men, and that’s how I embody myself.” And although he’s dated women, “I’m attracted to guys who have a bit of flair to them. They don’t have to be gay, but they can be queeny. I love an artistic queen.”

San Francisco 0
Brooklyn 1.

Reifications and Binaries

By people who don’t know anything about trans, I’m often assumed to be trans myself. I like to joke that is the very rare trans woman who would cut her hair as short as I do. Most trans women with voices as deep as mine would figure out how to raise their pitch. But it’s these signs of my gender variance that cause people to think I’m trans – the signs of my own masculinity.

What surprises me often is when I clarify that I’m not – if and when I do, which isn’t often anymore – is when someone asks me if it bothers me when people assume I’m trans. It’s such an odd thing to ask an advocate: if I thought trans people were less than, why would I be doing this work? I remember being asked a similar question when I was assumed to be/asked if I was a dyke, which I also found baffling. What’s insulting about people thinking you’re a lesbian? What’s insulting about someone assuming you’re trans? Either you believe all our humanities are equal or they aren’t, right? Shoot, I feel more often like I’ve been assumed to be of sterner stuff than I am, because I haven’t struggled with the kind of discrimination lesbians or trans women face (even if my own gender variance has caused some in my own life).

I know I am far from More Radical Than Thou when I say I hate the term cis, but one of the reasons I hate it is because it reifies, in my opinion, that I was declared a gender that is (theoretically) in congruence with my gender presentation and that other women were not. In the same way that MTF reifies a woman’s former maleness, cis disappears my own masculinity in a way I find both insulting and problematic. The thing is, I am still most turned on by Hirschfeld’s Theory of Intermediaries, where he posits that “male” and “female,” “man” and “woman,” are only ideals – not to be aspired to, but ideals more like Plato’s Forms. That is, they’re ideas, which all of us express in different ways, none of us perfectly. He tosses out the idea of dimorphism – the binary – entirely, which, as Kate Bornstein and now Lisa Harney have noted, MTF & FTM reiterate.

That said, I do feel the need to point out that I do think cissexual privilege exists & is a problem. That’s kind of exactly what I’m talking about, really. Do keep in mind that I wound up a feminist when I realized people actually thought I was different/less than because I was a woman, as in: Really? Are you shitting me? Do I really have to prove my humanity? The idea was so entirely unbelievable to me; it never occurred to me that someone could be stupid enough to believe something like that, & I feel the same way about people who can’t see trans people’s obvious equality/humanity.

So I will continue to insist that recognizing difference between types of women is only important when it’s specifically important, and not otherwise. I am done with using “trans” in front of any person’s identity because goddamn if I want anyone putting “woman” or “female” in front of mine.

(I’m dedicating this post to my dad because it’s his 82nd birthday and, who, when we came out to him about Betty’s transness, said “Don’t let anyone treat you like a 2nd class citizen.” And well – yeah. Exactly.)

RIP Chanel Larkin

I just received some sad news from Michael Munson of FORGE about a local woman who was killed in Milwaukee not even two weeks ago.

Chanel (Dana A. Larkin) was murdered on May 7, 2010. The person who killed her was caught and charged. Chanel was an African-American transwoman who was 26 years old. She was killed in the middle of an exchange of sex for money – shot three times, the fatal shot to her head. It was totally a hate-motivated crime. The person in custody who has admitted to killing her has part of their interaction recorded on his cell phone and the violence definitely ensued after she revealed her trans status.

There was a vigil for her a week ago (5/10/10), a fundraiser to help cover burial costs (5/13/10) and a funeral and burial on Friday (5/14/10).

The funeral was attended by 200-250 people and was rich, kind, respectful, honoring of all aspects of who she was. Her family was there (Grandma is definitely the head of the family and the person she was closest to).

Chanel was an active member/leader in SHEBA (a Milwaukee-based organization for African-American MTFs who have emerged from the gay men’s community — and communities of houses and balls).

You can make a donation to FORGE and indcate how you’d like the funds used.

Here are the two local news reports, both of which suck so bad it’s ridiculous: WTAQ radio, TMJ Channel 4.

Today in my Trans Lives class, it just so happens that we were finishing reading Stone Butch Blues in class and discussing Boys Don’t Cry; it’s the day I usually teach TDOR, its origins, the intersectionality of sex work and race with transphobic violence, disclosure/dating issues, the problems of a hegemonic, violent masculinity based on homophobia, and, of course, the utterly crap way these cases are presented by journalists.

I have to remind myself that I teach this stuff so that it will stop.

Two Tune Tuesday: Power & Beauty

These two ladies have gorgeous voices. You might know Corinne Bailey Rae from her “I’d Like To” (which, imho, is one of the sexiest come on songs ever recorded), and Janelle Monae has a new CD out which sounds like it kicks ass.

Do take note of this bit of lyrics from “Sincerely, Jane:”

Teacher, teacher please reach those girls in them videos
The little girls just broken Queen, confusing bling for soul
Danger, there’s danger when you take off your clothes, all your dreams go down the drain girl

Sing it!

Family Guy Offensive

No, really? In how many ways, exactly, besides all of them?

The only part I don’t understand is how fans of the show, who usually think the entirely tasteless, cruel humor is funny, are somehow outraged when the joke is on them.

Please don’t spend any more brain power on this one. Send your congressmembers or Speaker Pelosi another letter about ENDA instead, would you?

Ah, Gender Stereotypes

Only lesbians play softball, except the ones who don’t.
All women who play softball are lesbians, except the ones who aren’t.
Men and boys never play softball, except when they do.

Why any of these things should have any relevance in the choice of a Supreme Court Justice, I have no idea.

Thailand Protests

Just in case any of you are on your way, or have friends there, Thailand is a big mess at the moment:

The United States warned Saturday against all travel to Bangkok and authorised the evacuation of non-essential embassy staff and families.

Thailand has been riven by years of political turmoil since Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006.

Thai society is deeply divided between the urban elite and rural poor, with most of the Red Shirts from the north and impoverished northeast.

(via Ashley Altadonna)

Pelosi, Don’t Hold Up ENDA

Dem leadership is holding up ENDA, even though the whip counts are complete and we have the votes.

Email Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ENDA:

They Say It’s Our Birthday

And it is. & All I want for my birthday is for you to contact your congressperson about ENDA, which you can do very easily, here:

Weiss’ ENDA Update

Jillian Weiss has written an excellent summation of what’s up with ENDA at Bilerico. Do check it out. I was on the conference call as well, & Weiss’ “take” on what was said is the same as mine on all the important points.