Two Tune Tuesday: Sweetness & Light

A friend put this Cake song up on Facebook the other day, & I wanted to find another similar kind of joyous song & came up with this one by April Smith, whose songs make me happy in a goofy sort of way.

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(That Cake bassline is so Queen, though, isn’t it? Another one eats the Cake. )

Sweetness for the last Tuesday in May because spring has finally come to our corner of Wisconsin, and frankly I think the sun has gone to my head: it’s either that or all the end-of-academic-year parties.

How To Be An Ally

I really like this short list of how to be an ally, although I would add an 11th: you will fuck up, so surround yourself with people who both expect and can accept apologies when you do. And obviously, be willing to admit when you have.

1. Don’t derail a discussion.
2. Do read links/books referenced in discussions.
3. Don’t expect your feelings to be a priority in a discussion about X issue.
4. Do shut up and listen.
5. Don’t play Oppression Olympics.
6. Do check your privilege. It’s hard and often unpleasant, but it’s really necessary.
7. Don’t expect a pass into safe spaces because you call yourself an ally.
8. Do be willing to stand up to bigots.
9. Don’t treat people like accessories or game tokens.
10. Do keep trying.

Do check out the whole list for the clarifications and explanations.

VT Birth Certificate Change

You no longer need to have surgery to change your birth certificate in VT. From The Task Force:

Although some other states allow gender changes without proof of surgery in their policies, Vermont becomes the very first to have clear language in its statute that makes clear surgery is not necessary to update one’s birth certificate.

This is great news, and good precedent. You already don’t need surgery to get a US passport, so here’s hoping more states follow VT’s example.

Homeless LGBTQ Youth

Larkin Street Stories: Serving Homeless LGBTQ Youth is a three-part video series (approximately 6–9 minutes each) offering tips on best practices for providers serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth who are homeless.

In the videos, staff and youth from Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco discuss and share lessons learned regarding their approach to supporting LGBTQ youth who are homeless. The video series begins by introducing Toby, Loch and the youth from Larkin Street Youth Center. It describes the importance of being “present” for youth, and helping youth see their own strengths and resources. The youth talk about being rejected by their families due to their LGBTQ identity and leaving home as a result.

The Larkin Street staff provide tips on how to create a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ youth, including how to handle hate speech. The final episode explores the importance of never making assumptions about a youth’s sexual identity or gender expression, allowing youth to self-identify, and empowering youth to reach their full potential despite the challenges they have faced.

Bad News for Marriage

I can’t say it’s precedent, as it’s happened before in Texas, but it is sad and frustrating and entirely wrong-headed.

HOUSTON — A judge was expected to void the marriage between a transgender widow and her firefighter husband who died battling a blaze and will rule in favor of the man’s mother who argued that the marriage wasn’t valid, an attorney in the case said Tuesday based on a draft of the decision.

The suit was brought by the mother of firefighter Thomas Araguz III and argued that his widow, Nikki Araguz, should not receive any death benefits. The lawsuit claimed their marriage wasn’t legal because Nikki Araguz was born a man and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Read more:

So frustrating. Our sympathies to Nikki Araguz.

Two Tune Tuesday: Poly Styrene’s Descendents

I’m a day late, but it’s the 10th week of a 10 week term, so cut me a break.

Here are two recent songs I’ve heard recently that make me think about Poly Styrene’s impact on music. Altered Images is from the 80s, and Clare Grogan’s vocals were a direct inheritor of what Styrene was up to:

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How can you not love “you make me go ooooh ooooh with the things that you do you do you do“?! Echoes of Cole Porter are never a bad thing.

No Chaser

There’s certainly plenty to object to, but I otherwise found this advice on how to pick up a trans woman kind of charming.

A couple of things you might want to keep in mind — do not assume she’s interested in dating guys. A lot of T-girls don’t. Whatever you do, don’t be stingy and suggest you split the check. Pick it up. It’s a sad fact but the transformation from male to female is not just a sexual reassignment; it’s also a socio-economic one. They often break the bank to make themselves whole.

Anyway, it’s not stupid advice. I like this especially:

“Why am I attracted to T-girls and what does that say about me?” That you’re gay? Extremely doubtful.
Most guys into T-girls are straight. That you’re twisted? No. There’s nothing twisted about being attracted to another human being.

Indeed. I mean, you may be twisted for some other reason entirely, but being attracted to a trans person has nothing to do with that.

Luann Comic

For your consideration:

But why is that the case?

The Revolution: Taylor Mac

Lawrence King was killed in 2008 and Taylor Mac performed this piece that same year – the very first year I taught Transgender Lives at Lawrence. Ever since then I’ve shown this video, but somehow failed to put it here.

I love this piece so much, and it’s so good to see Taylor Mac getting credit from the likes of PBS. He’s a very old friend of ours who acted with Betty in an era that seems like a lifetime or two ago now.

Janet Mock’s It Gets Better

When more women like her come out, the teeth of transphobia will fall out. What an amazingly cool decision she made.

Something Like Justice?

The former cop who beat Duana Johnson when she was brought into the police station has been charged and sentenced. It turns out they got him on tax evasion as well. He’ll serve two years.

What The Advocate column didn’t mention is that Johnson was shot, execution style, on the corner she normally worked not long after pressing the charges against him.

I don’t know if her murder was investigated, but this whole story has always left me feeling terrifically angry and sad because her murder looked and felt far too much like someone wanted her to keep quiet.

Don Lemon

Good for Don Lemon for coming out. I’m glad he’s talking about how being a gay black male is different than it is to be any other kind of male. It’s great to see more LGBTQ people of color stepping up.

Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend has more on the story as it emerged, Lemon’s official statement, and The Grio has a nice piece on why Lemon’s coming out matters:

One thing I know for sure is that there are thousands of young people, black men specifically, who will see Don Lemon, an anchor for “the most trusted name in news” and be inspired. Hopefully, they will hate themselves a little less, love themselves a little more and the blows from the black church will not hit as hard.

Spaulding’s piece on skin color is essential reading, and provides good context for why Lemon’s coming out is vital.

Keith Ablow Goes to Hell

Dr. Keith Ablow recently wrote  a piece about Chaz Bono that is hateful. I won’t link to it – fuck Fox News – but I did want to say something about it because Betty and I were on his show.

At the time, he was compassionate and even-tempered. I remember reading his articles about pedophiles and how sane & sensible he seemed about such a difficult topic — and which gave me the idea we would be treated even-handedly on his show. I was right. We were.

Apparently somewhere along the way, Ablow sold his soul to the devil. It’s a shame to see someone LCD* like this, but it won’t be the first or the last time I’ll see it. I don’t know what happens to people – they get just enough of a taste of celebrity that their humanity departs, maybe – but it’s always pathetic.

Ablow sold out, sold his soul.  I think that’s 7th Circle, right?

He’s not a quack. He is an actual doctor with actual credentials. But what I want to know what he thinks “do no harm” means these days and how, or why, he has switched from understanding people to judging them and condemning them. It is not an easy world for trans people – not even for trans people like Chaz Bono, for all his privilege. I don’t understand how anyone could make a decision and use a public pulpit to preach condemnation; the kind of language he uses, the lack of respect he shows, directly contributes to why trans people’s lives are as hard as they are.

I’m not sure I can even explain the depth of the betrayal I’m experiencing. Ablow was one of the good guys, or at least one of the guys who looked good when everyone else sucked so much. He should be deeply ashamed of what he’s written, and owes Chaz Bono – and the rest of the trans community – an apology.

Don’t hold your breath.

Two Tune Tuesday: [Insert Clever Euphemism Here]

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I’ve been researching some for a class I’m teaching next year on sexuality, and was reading a few things about autosexuality, and I wondered, with all those songs about sex, are there any about self-pleasure? These are the few I thought of. And no, “Turning Japanese” doesn’t count; I never bought that argument & The Vapors have said it wasn’t, too. “Dancing with Myself” doesn’t count either (because it’s about a Japanese disco) and even Berry’s “Dingaling” seems more about his bits than about what he’s doing with them. So, others? There are certainly references to masturbation – like in Prince’s “Darling Nikki” – but that isn’t what the song is actually about.

Interesting that the only ones I could come up with are written/performed by women, no? I wouldn’t have expected that.

For the record, masturbation & autosexuality aren’t the same thing. Masturbation is a way to practice autosexuality, but plenty of people who are other kinds of -sexuals also masturbate. Hope that helps. I had to add the Jack Off Jill version of The Divinyls because — well, they’ve got the whole idea built into their name.

Gender Neutral Pronouns

Thanks to Sarah Wagner (go partners!), who is currently helping plan the Trans Ohio conference, here are some resources on gender neutral pronouns.

First, a fact sheet – with grammatically correct chart – of how to use the various gender neutral pronouns, including possessives and pronunciation. I’d love it if someone wanted to write a sample sentence so that the syntax of them could be demonstrated.
Second, a list of rules to practice good manners with other people’s pronouns and genders.

The only other thing I would point out is that all of us have pronoun preferences. Every single one of us, so please don’t get all “ugh, trans people” about it unless you’re a woman who doesn’t mind being called “he” or “sirred” when out to dinner.

JAC Stringer on Chaz Bono

“And speaking of wake up calls, he needs one about misogyny. He blatantly talks about how he believes in “biological differences” in men and women because T made him dislike small talk and has lost a lot of his “tolerance for women.” That’s not T, dude, that’s your misogyny! Lots of people get irritable for a couple months when they first start T, so if something kinda annoyed you before T, those first few months it might make you super annoyed or worse. Chaz probably just never liked certain things and now his “tolerance” is gone cause he’s got hormonal mood swings. He’s claiming its some “biological differences” in men and women, when really it’s his sexist stereotypes. Feministing gives Chaz the benefit of the doubt, assuming they were taken out of context via a known to be transphobic interviewer. But he wasn’t taken out of context when he repeats himself almost word for word on Oprah. Dudes got some demons over there, and none of them are feminists. Thanks for making all of us transguys on T look like macho jerks, Chaz, but at least it bought to a ticket as a socially acceptable “normal” guy.”

I couldn’t agree more. You can read more at Midwest Genderqueer.

Check this other critique by Nick Krieger, author of Nina Here Nor There.

Becoming Visible: Homeless Trans Teens

I am waiting to hear back from the photographer as to which charity or non-profit he’d like to direct donations to now that he’s achieved his goal.

If anyone has any suggestions for directly helping trans teens, please let me know.

Happy Birthday

A very happy birthday to my lovely wife on her birthday. This is the 12th we’ve spent together, even though we met 13 years ago. (We only missed the 1st one!)

(We both love sharing a birthday with Little Stevie Wonder. For the record.)

Writing About Bodies

Dean Spade recently wrote a short piece about how we might use language to de-gender bodies. It’s smart and concise – just as you’d expect from Dean Spade.

About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts

I have been thinking about how much I would like it if people, especially health practitioners, exercise instructors and others who talk about bodies a lot, would adjust their language about body parts heavily associated with gender norms. Lots of people who identify as feminists and allies to trans people still use terms like “female-bodied,” “male body parts,” “bio-boy,”and “biologically female.” Even in spaces where people have gained some basic skills around respecting pronoun preferences, suggesting an increasing desire to support gender self determination and release certain expectations related to gender norms, I still hear language used that asserts a belief in constructions of “biological gender.” From my understanding, a central endeavor of feminist, queer, and trans activists has been to dismantle the cultural ideologies, social and legal norms that say that certain body parts determine gender identity and gendered social characteristics and roles. We’ve fought against the idea that the presence of uteruses or ovaries or penises should be understood to determine such things as people’s intelligence, proper parental roles, proper physical appearance, proper gender identity, proper labor roles, proper sexual partners and activities, and capacity to make decisions. We’ve opposed medical and scientific assertions that affirm the purported health of traditional gender roles and activities and pathologize bodies that defy those norms. Continue reading “Writing About Bodies”