Keisling on Trans Successes

Mara Keisling has a good – and lengthy – op-ed in The Advocate on why it’s been such a good year for trans people.

  1. more non-discrimination state and local laws
  2. white house prioritizes trans issues
  3. trans health policy improves
  4. the US & UN speak up for LGBT rights worldwide
  5. massive study on trans discrimination released
  6. improved Standards of Care
  7. all of the federal legislation introduced this congress was trans-inclusive

and that’s only a few. Go read the whole of it. As an activist/advocate of 10+ years, this is really mind-blowing progress (even if we’re all well aware there is plenty more to do).

10th Anniversary: Poses

Rufus Wainwright’s Poses turns 10 this year too, so it’s lovely to see an amazingly detailed and accurate homage to this beautiful recording.

Take, for example, the deceptively buoyant “California.” Although Wainwright’s songwriting ability has been compared to that of Joni Mitchell, this song is decidedly the opposite, in spirit, to her song of the same title. The Sunshine State, in Wainwright’s view, is hardly “home” but a freon-fueled mess hall of vapid, self-conscious poseurs (sure). There’s hardly a more damning conclusion than “Life is the longest death in California,” but what a deliciously delivered pronouncement it is: Wainwright’s specialty is the beautiful pain behind the bruise. The song’s gift lies less in its misery than in the insidious glee of its tune. If New York brings out the brooding sweep of Wainwright’s voice and lyricism, then California shellacs his melancholy and shoves it out with a bright fuck-you.

I once heard Poses described as the perfect modern penthouse apartment – especially as compared to Wainwright’s debut, which is an over-stuffed but perfectly appointed Victorian drawing room.

There is one note in “Greek Song” that to this day can make me weep when I hear it, even out of the blue: the perfect melancholy tone, a cri de coeur but beautiful. Just listen to it, the first “all” in the refrain.

If any generous soul out there would like to buy me his House of Rufus box set, please feel free.


Honestly, I understand why people are starting to turn to ’70s porn: now everyone looks like (a) a child, (b) a plucked chicken, or (3) some kind of weird sea organism.

Robert, a 25-year-old investment manager from Massachusetts, trims his pubes with an electric razor—“the kind that barbers use for shaving heads,” he says. Just as he prefers a woman to be groomed when he performs oral sex (“the less hair, the better”), he imagines girls don’t want a bush in their mouths either.

How downright egalitarian.

Still, if genitals unframed by pubic hair are your thing, this decade’s for you.

Home Again, Home Again

We’re back in Appleton after three weeks away, & I can’t tell if it feels like we’ve been gone more like 3 years or 3 minutes.

Either way: here we are again. High on my list: hot bath, laundry, sleep, cats.

Christmas Present: Radical Inclusion

This letter from local clergy in Appleton is pretty much the best Christmas present I didn’t even imagine getting:

Jesus not only preached about but a lived a message of radical inclusion. He saw God’s realm as including everyone — and especially those who were despised or downtrodden or oppressed.

That’s why we and many other Christians believe that our values are best expressed when all people and all families are treated with fairness and loving support.

It was written in response to a letter from Appleton Taxpayers United which appeared a few weeks ago, which I won’t honor by quoting. It’s lovely to read Christians who sound like Christians.

Very Merry

A very Merry Christmas Eve to you & yours tonight. I’ll be borrowing a bike and taking a ride to the beach today; later, we’ll join my other brother and (new!) sister in law for dinner.

Both Sides: Missing Appleton Too

And yes, for your snarky types who think there is no life outside of the coasts, I do miss Appleton: I love the Lawrence campus, because it’s beautiful and peaceful; I miss the big skies and stars and the clear, clear air on cold winter nights; I miss the bunnies and raccoons and geese and cormorants and songbirds that are a daily sight. I miss teaching, and I miss the students when I’m not teaching too, and I miss living in a community of intellectual community engagement.

I am also in awe of anyone who grew up outside of a city like New York and who has found a way NOT to conform in a small city like Appleton; I find maintaining my independence and artsiness really, really challenging there. I have had to change so much, and only now, back in New York, am I aware of the daily small compromises: no good bagels, no gas stoves, no good cheap Italian food or inexpensive salons for manicures, pedicures, or waxing; no radiator heat. It is often a struggle to explain that “tea” does not mean chamomile to a coffee culture. Add to that not liking beer, being professionally queer and a vegetarian, and having a conscientious objector relationship with football — let’s just say it hasn’t been a tidy landing for me, and I’m sure I’ve complained plenty. This trip home has given me at least some perspective on what kinds of ways I might try to adjust going forward, and in the meanwhile, I am more thankful for the progressive politicians, artistic friends and other displaced coasties than anyone might imagine, but especially to those who have expressed empathy while they watched me try to fit this square peg into the round hole that is Appleton.

So as much as it’s been one  of the most difficult experiences of my life, I still find life in Appleton lovely in ways I could have never imagined as a lifelong New Yorker and alt urbanite.

Tonight in Brooklyn

Tonight we’re going to see The Schmekels at Southpaw here in Brooklyn for an evening of “Hanuka Rock”. The Schmekels are “100% Trans Jews” and although what they play isn’t really klezmer, they certainly seem to have a sense of humor — “schmekel” means “small penis” in Yiddish.

So if you’re around & this is your kind of thing, feel free to say hi if you see us there.

Back in the New York Groove

After 10 days in Florida with my mom, which was amazing, we came up to Brooklyn to stay with my sister and brother in law, and in our old ‘hood, and WOW: it’s such a pleasure to be back. New Yorkers, do leave once in a while so you realize that you live in the goddamned promised land. Being back in a culture of eccentricity, creativity and non-conformity is absolutely amazing, whether that means seeing an older woman with graying braids and cropped pants and striped socks, or finding a bar on Second Avenue described thusly:

Named, designed, and destined for Downtown’s creative cognoscenti, Lit was conceived as an environment by and for everyone who does not fit in to the current all-American quality of life agenda.

Promoting de-gentrification and un-sterilized anti-chic, with comfort and class, Lit is about drinking and socializing with like-minded individuals.

The assumption that there IS a creative cognoscenti is a luxury I can’t ever take for granted again.

So today, off to see the new Almodovar and to revel in the bustling bustlingness of my amazing hometown. It does a body good.

RIP Christopher Hitchens

We needed him whether we knew it or not. He was a huge influence on me; I started reading him when he wrote for The Nation and loved his deep passion for politics and for – well, thinking. He was so intense a writer, but always seemed to have such deeply-held beliefs and convictions. He was one of the few men I ever met where you could not escape how goddamned sexy he was – because he was brilliant. His intellect and his passion radiated off him.

He was an inspiration to me, and I’m glad I had a lovely conversation with him many years ago at one of his readings.

His turn toward conservative in these years since 9/11 echoed a similar turn of one of my other favorite writer-heros, John Dos Passos. They weren’t such poor company, really: both of them so in love with the US in some ways, and so deeply critical of it in others.

I’ll miss you, Hitch. I’d say Godspeed but he was the most ardent of atheists, for which I loved him too.

Shit Women Say

I love it, but I have my moments of being a misogynist asshole. That said, I also really can’t stand the way women behave sometimes, because so much of that bullshit is a put-on. That is, if only girls said these things, they wouldn’t annoy me, but when grown women squeal something like “twinsies” it really does make me ill. But there are plenty in here I’m guilty of, too:

And I love Juliette Lewis.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Recall Update

The good news is that the recall of WI Gov. Scott Walker is on its way, with 500,000 signatures collected from every county in WI.

I may not actually be in Wisconsin right now, but I’m happy to see some good reports coming out of the recall effort, like this one, about where the signatures – and donations – are actually coming from.

People drove up to sign petitions who had actually voted for Walker in the 2010 election; but seeing the effects of his policies on their neighbors, the loss of jobs, and the power he now holds, felt compelled to sign the petition. One woman, signing with her adult daughter, stated ”…this isn’t what I voted for.”

These stories are being repeated all over the county, and indeed, the state. They are being told by a community of people who understand, whether Republican or Democrat, that as a society we have an obligation not only to the people we see every day – but to the strangers who may be the weakest and neediest among us. The word-of-mouth stories from neighbor to neighbor are becoming the most powerful message in the recall battle. No amount of money can overcome a factual accounting of the negative impact Scott Walker is having when conveyed by a familiar and trusted friend.

It looks like they will have more than enough signatures to withstand the scrutiny these petitions will receive, too.

Andrej Pejic in Push-Up Bra Ads

Oh, I love the gender deconstructing that’s going on in the wake of Andrej Pejic’s career. Now, he’s in ads for a “super push up” bra.

The most common plastic surgery for men is for gynecomastia – that is, to remove breast tissue.  That said, if most guys with gynecomastia looked like Pejic, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t bother.

Wow is he the Hotness.

(via Jezebel)

It Only Takes a Girl.

Women make 10% of the world’s income, but own only 1% of the world’s property while contributing 66% of the labor.

Introverts, Redux

Another interesting piece about introverts: this one the “10 myths about” model. Here are my favorites, or the ones that are the best expression of my version of introvert:

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

I’d add that even though he points out that introverts aren’t shy, they aren’t shy because they’re introverts, but sometimes we are independent of the introvert thing.

Trans Etiquette Graphic

I don’t like the way “transphobic” is thrown around – when often, what’s at work is ignorance. When I talk about non-trans attitudes toward trans people and identities, I refer to it as “trans etiquette” – as in, give people a chance to learn how not to be ignorant and rude before deciding they’re transphobic.

If they persist in re-gendering people, asking surgical status or for a “real” name, then they’re just assholes.

Fair Wisconsin Leadership Conference Jan 13-15

The Fair Wisconsin Education Fund is hosting its first ever Leadership Conference, to take place in Milwaukee from January 13th – 15th. Why go to a Leadership Conference?

1. Meet other LGBT and allied leaders from around the state. The Leadership Conference will be a wonderful opportunity to connect with LGBT and allied people working to advance equality in their local communities.  Share your experiences and gain support from people just like you who care about building a fair and just Wisconsin.

2. Learn new information and skills from local and national leaders. The Leadership Conference will offer an array of interesting and useful workshops to broaden your knowledge and help you to acquire new skills and tools to become a leader in the LGBT equality movement in Wisconsin.

3. Be a part of something new.
This conference is a new opportunity that we have never seen before.  Don’t miss out on being the first to participate in what is poised to be a hugely successful program!

4. Strengthen the movement. The Leadership Conference is a prime opportunity to build a strong base of support for the LGBT movement in Wisconsin.  Join us as we build a fair Wisconsin together.

5. Celebrate and have fun! No conference is complete without some fun and celebration!  Work hard and play hard at the first ever Fair Wisconsin Education Fund Leadership Conference!

Student registration is only $35! I’ll be there, and Chaz Bono is doing the keynote speech.

On the Road

I probably won’t be posting too much for a while, as we leave tonight for three weeks elsewhere – one week, first, in Florida with my mom, and then two weeks in & around our beloved NYC.

So for now, have a lovely December!