The Trouble with Travel

We are back in our lovely Park Slope neighborhood & apt, briefly: my brother gets married on LI on Sunday, & otherwise I will spend the week packing up a bunch of our stuff in order to move it into our new apartment.

But wow is it nice to be back: to be a minority as a white person again, to spend $12 on a pack of cigarettes. Some things I don’t miss, but some I do. I would like to bring Park Slope back to Appleton with me & show folks what diversity looks like, and goddamn, how to make decent Italian food, and if I can convince one of my salon ladies to return with me, maybe she can teach someone in Appleton how a proper waxing is done.

Still, I miss Wisconsin: the quiet, my friends, bunnies. That’s always the trouble with travel: no matter where you are, & no matter how happy you are, you always miss somewhere else you like.

National Trans Advocacy Network (TAN)

A group of state and local transgender leaders are pleased to announce the formation of the Trans Advocacy Network. The Trans Advocacy Network held their first meeting in Memphis, Tennessee on July 10, 2010 with the purpose of defining their mission and goals for the upcoming year.

Their mission statement is as follows:
“The Trans Advocacy Network is an alliance of transgender organizations that work at the state and local level, coming together to build a stronger trans movement by facilitating the sharing of resources, best practices, and organizing strategies.”

The Trans Advocacy Network will serve local and state level trans advocacy groups that are both established and newly forming as well as support groups, college-based groups, and other organizations that are doing advocacy and policy work for transgender rights and protections. The
Trans Advocacy Network will assist these groups by sharing policy, training materials, resources, tools, and best advocacy practices. It hopes to foster leadership development, sustainability, and to make the movement for trans rights stronger and more effective. The Trans Advocacy Network will operate with a steering committee made up of leaders from state and local trans organizations from across the country. There will be a limited number of spaces on the steering committee for advisers from national organizations.

Plans for the first year of the Trans Advocacy Network include expanding the steering committee to include people who are not yet well-represented, connecting more state and local trans advocacy groups across the country, creating guiding principles, starting a list serve that all trans advocacy organizations will have access to, outreaching to other groups by region, creating a more cohesive communication network, creating a organizational survey to understand the needs, resources, and get a realistic view of where trans community organizations are across the country, and holding conference calls and webinars to share best practices and strategies.

The Trans Advocacy Network Steering Committee currently includes Gunner Scott of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Masen Davis of the Transgender Law Center, Marisa Richmond of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Lisa Scheps of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, Sadie-Ryanne Baker of the DC Trans Coalition, and Shane Morgan of TransOhio. Advisers to the Steering Committee include Lisa Mottet of the Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Jaan Williams of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The steering committee is interested in additional members who represent predominantly people of color trans organizations and low-income trans organizations.

Contact Gunner Scott for more information or how to become involved at

On the Rails

Just wanted people to know I’ll be taking a short break from blogging as I travel from Appleton to Brooklyn to pack up our Brooklyn apartment (okay, most of it) & arrange to move it all back to Appleton, where we’ll put it in our new & fabulous place. & Yes, I’m going by train (20 hours, pretty much), & returning in the shotgun seat of the U-Haul driven by an old friend (who grew up in Milwaukee, you betcha).

Mismatched Libidos, Redux

There’s been a lot of this going around, so maybe, in fits & starts, people are getting more used to the idea of even talking about mismatched libidos. I do workshops on the topic at Dark Odyssey and other sex-positive places, and I’ve always found Dan Savage’s “leave” a little harsh. That said, one of the things I always mentioned in my workshops is that if sex is the top of your priority list, & you want a lot of it, or certain kinds of it, don’t bother torturing anyone who has a lower libido/less adventurous style. That is, if there’s anywhere that compromise is going to be key, sex is is it, & if you’re not wiling to compromise, and even occasionally stand on top of your libido, then Savage’s advice is exactly right.

But most of us can compromise pretty significantly with sex if we’re having a lot of other itches scratched. Where the line is between self-denial and reasonable compromise is tricky no matter the issue, and while I know they might take away my High Libido Club card for this, sometimes there are things that are more important than sex. (& Sometimes, there aren’t, which is often the part the low libido types don’t understand.)

Trans Tax

In a sense, this article about how Pakistan is hiring trans people to shame people into paying their taxes gives you a better idea of how hjira are viewed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh.

In a bid for a solution — and some publicity — the Clifton board borrowed a creative idea that alleviated tax woes in neighboring India: It hired a team of transgender tax collectors to go door-to-door to embarrass the rich until they pay.

Transgender people, known as TGs in Pakistan, carry a social stigma in the country, and their presence rattles the rich. For many of the TGs hired by the Clifton board, tax collecting is their first salaried job, and two of them still work as sex workers.


But before you criticize the women in question for doing this work, remember that otherwise they tend to do sex work and other crap, low-paid jobs.

Gay Porn and Women

Okay, so I saw My Beautiful Launderette a dozen times in movie theaters. Really. It was the closest “gay porn” i could get my hands on at the time.

Apparently the lesbian couple in The Kids Are All Right watch gay porn, and people are confused.

The fantastic Tristan Taormino explains:

“Our feminism remains with us when we grab the remote,” said Tristan Taormino, a sex educator and producer of erotica. “So when there’s no women around, it… gives queer women the ability to get swept up in the action of the film without thinking, ‘Who is this woman? Is she having a good time? Is she coerced?’ With gay porn, for a second, we can go there and not think about politics and sexism… there’s something about removing women from the equation that’s freeing.”

She added: “You don’t have to want to have sex with a man to be attracted to masculinity in a specifically sexual context.”

& For (queer) women who like men, it’s just more of a good thing, no? (I’m beginning to think that penises and breasts are just universally interesting/attractive, no matter sexual orientation.)

The Vegas 8

Eight protestors stopped traffic on the Vegas strip in order to get Harry Reid to act on the pending ENDA legislation:

Fantastic, all of you & thank you for a creative, cool way to do it.
(via The Advocate)

Trans Model in French Vogue

I had a friend do a translation of the text that accompanies the photo:

Lea, Born Again.

New top model alert: in this fall’s Givenchy campaign, Lea is standing, in feathers, close to Mariacarla, Malgosia and Joan Smalls.  With hollow cheeks and faded eyebrows, she exudes a beauty that is regal, detached, retro, and androgynous, something between Greta Garbo and Candy Darling.  Lea T., the sensation of fall 2010, is the new star of the agency Women.  A woman to be [or possibly “a woman in the process of becoming”], born Leo, she decided to tame life in high heels.  Originally from Belo Horizonte, she grew up a well-educated boy in both Brazil and Italy, in a respected Catholic family.  With two sisters and a brother, Leo was destined for a career in veterinary medicine, up to the day when Lea appeared:  “I met Riccardo Tisci, who had just come out of Central Saint Martins (College of Art and Design).  Little by little, we became friends.  And, one night, he encouraged me to wear high heels to a party.  We went to buy drag queen shoes and also bleached my eyebrows.  It was a revelation.”  Lea followed her pygmalion/mentor to Givenchy in Paris and worked there as his assistant, confidante, and fitting model for two seasons.  Back in Milan, she decided to start her physical metamorphosis, a treatment that was met with public prejudice and immense familial unease.  “It was like a war inside my head,” she says.  From Paris, Riccardo followed the ups and downs of the change.  He offered help and “one day, he called to ask me to pose for a Mert & Marcus ad.”  Lea accepted in the name of all her transsexual friends, a standard bearer for their cause, and “especially proud of her friendship with Riccardo.”  Since that ad campaign, casting and interview offers rain on Piero Piazzi, Lea’s agent at Women, “another of my guardian angels.”  Lea, with disarming simplicity, explains that she is waiting for the definitive intervention that will liberate her femininity, “as soon as the papers are finalized.”  She is open to her future, be it on the runway, or perhaps in the fashion studio/workshop, or back home, her true birthplace, Brazil.

I think it’s cool, & I’m glad she did it, though I know some of you are burnt out on people using trans bodies as this week’s shock factor. I don’t think this one is doing that, even though it’s confrontational because she’s looking right at you, the viewer. It’s impossible not to see her as a person (unless you’re the kind of person who dehumanizes any naked woman). Thoughts?

More Like Lavender

Here’s a cool article against gender essentialism by the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain:

Yes, boys and girls, men and women, are different. But most of those differences are far smaller than the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus stereotypes suggest. Nor are the reasoning, speaking, computing, empathising, navigating and other cognitive differences fixed in the genetic architecture of our brains. All such skills are learned, and neuro-plasticity – the modification of neurons and their connections in response to experience – trumps hard-wiring every time. If men and women tend towards different strengths and interests, it is due to a complex developmental dance between nature and nurture that leaves ample room to promote non-traditional skills in both sexes.

For the record, this idea is echoed by all sorts of gender types, including myself, but the most interesting evidence is in Hyde’s Gender Similarities Hypothesis (pdf).

Two Tune Tuesday: Sly & the Family Stone

After James Brown, their tracks have to be the most heavily sampled; some of you, I bet, will know snippets of melody from some other song. I’m regularly disappointed when I hear a Sly Stone riff and it turns out to be some song I’ve never heard and not the original.

“A pretty face / a pretty face / & oh what a gorgeous mind…”

Incipito Inception

Inception is a cool, cool movie – meaty enough for someone who prefers novels – there are moments you actually feel lost in its world(s) – and yet has all sorts of chase scenes, gun battles, & explosions.

Six Degrees of Buster Keaton: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fan, and there are moments that’s very apparent.

Fans of Twilight Zone, or District 9, or the now-mostly-forgotten Zentropa will like it, if not love it. & Honestly, it’s the only movie I’ve seen where everyone is attractive or talented or both.

& Six Degrees of Trans: Cillian Murphy played Kitten Braden in Breakfast on Pluto.

Upcoming Moving Day

My posts will probably be a little erratic for the next month or so; we are once again living in an apartment littered with boxes. For those who don’t know, I/we’ve been living in university housing while I’ve been teaching here, and we need to move into our own place for this coming year. We found a great, great apartment, & we’re excited about having enough space, & a cool view, stairs, and enough room for us both to have an office/work area and enough closets & storage. It’s like a pipe dream for NYers. (That’s our future living room you’re looking at, if you hadn’t figured that out yet.)

That said, moving also means living with boxes; it means lists and logistics. We’re moving not only the apartment we currently live in here in Appleton into the new place, but we’re going home to Brooklyn to move our tons of stuff from there to here. August in NYC is not when you want to move stuff out of a third floor walk-up, especially when most of that “stuff” will be book boxes. But it will be moved: just don’t expect so much from me for a while.

If you hear of any interesting gender stories or articles, feel free to forward so I can at least put up some links.

Breeching the Girls

Aha! Finally, an explanation that makes sense:

Just as boys were once clothed in dresses, they were also once swaddled in pink. Historically, in many European countries, pink was the dominant color for boys, and blue—the official hue of the Virgin Mary—was the popular girls’ color. (emphasis mine)

which appears in an article by Brian Palmer at Slate about gendered clothing for young children, and whether or not Shiloh isn’t just a trendsetter (or retro, depending).

(Which forces me to admit: I was surprised the author of the article is male. Ah, gendered expectations always bite in the end.)


On this, our 9th wedding anniversary, I’d love to hear from couples about a question I’ve been pondering: what do you do when you have an interest/love/hobby that your partner doens’t share?

I love live music, for instance, & public gatherings, & Rachel likes neither. She likes football & Rush. I’ve generally found people to go see music with, & to attend parades, pride events, &c., although I’m starting from scratch with making friends out here in Wisconsin, which is why it’s come up.

So do you:

  1. tend to not do the thing you like
  2. tend to drag the person who doesn’t like it along
  3. or do you just do your own things, & then come together to do the things you do both like together?

As maybe everyone knows at this point, I feel “dragged along” – even if I haven’t gone anywhere – when she watches football at home. In the small apartments we’ve lived in, I don’t have much escape unless I want to go somewhere else for a few hours.

So I’m curious, & waiting to hear what kinds of solutions all you creative, coupled types have come up with.