New Children’s Book: When Kathy is Keith

The author of When Kathy is Keith, in a phone interview with out of Vancouver, says:

“A lot of times, parents with straight kids, they think like, ‘You know what? That would never happen to my kid so why would my kid need to learn something like this?’ And I think the key is your kid doesn’t need to be LGBT. As long as your kid is perceived with any trait associated with LGBT, they can be bullied. They can be made fun of. Your kids can be a victim of any of that.”

He adds that parents of transgender children go through a difficult emotional process of their own.

“Parents, they have to go through different stages themselves,” he explains. “In the beginning, they tend to deny it. They hope their kids will grow out of it. They are having a tough time. They have to grieve over losing a son or a daughter and welcoming a new gender of a child. And I think that’s a process. It’s not easy for any parent to accept that because no parent has a kid and then think that this kid may be a transgender kid…. It’s tough… [when you have] a dream for your kid and all of a sudden that dream vanishes, and you have to recreate a dream for your kid[’s] future, and at the same time, knowing that society is not so tolerant out there. And I think that is very tough [for] a lot of parents to accept that.”

He advises parents who have transgender children to talk as much as possible with other people about these issues.

“I really think that [they should] talk to people about it, talk to other parents about it. And don’t just talk to one person. I would talk to multiple people. Talk to the school principal, talk to the counsellors, talk to the professional psychologists or social workers…even family doctor[s], so they can know there are people like this out there, they are not alone, and they can get help.”

Good advice all around.

Bad Advice to Trans Student?

The mom of a trans young adult wrote to Cary Tennis of Salon’s “Since You Asked” column because her daughter is

away at college and underachieving in a major way. She says that she can’t motivate herself to attend her less-than-full load of classes, can’t think of what she wants to do with herself, even in a short-term way.

The mom clarifies that the family has been supportive of her transition, etc.

Cary responds with: do nothing. Really? Her parents are paying for college and she’s doing so little she may fail all her classes and the advice columnest says “do nothing”? I think that’s ridiculous, but I’m not a parent.

I’d have her withdraw and get a job, pay her own rent for a while, & then when she was ready for someone to spend a ton of money on her education, I’d send her back to college.

As far as I can tell, this doesn’t have much to do with her daughter being trans, except that the mother seems to think that’s an important piece of information. It may be, but it may not have anything to do with it.

“100% Trans Jews”

The band’s name is Schmekel and they play klezmer-core punk. Oh yes. If they’re playing any gigs while I’m in NYC I will be at one.

The music itself merges traditional klezmer scales and rhythms with the aggressive energy of early gay punk bands like Pansy Division.

If the musical satirist Tom Lehrer were to write a hard-core anthem about sex reassignment surgery, with a driving guitar lick, a “Hava Nagila” breakdown and a keyboard line lifted from Super Mario Brothers, it might approximate the Schmekel sound.

Schmekel means “little penis” in Yiddish. And people wonder why I like hanging out with trans guys.


Here’s a short list of the topics my students researched for papers this term:

  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Intersex activism
  • Justin Bieber’s gender
  • David Reimer, or the John/Joan case
  • The invention of heterosexuality
  • Korean pop band f(x)
  • Kyle Alums and gender in college sports
  • Genderqueer identities
  • Femininity in male-bodied people
  • African trans identities/activism
  • De-homosexualized femme identities
  • Tribe 8’s “Femme Bitch Top”
  • Pete Burns’ gender
  • Barsexuals
  • Feminism and femme activism
  • GIDC

It makes grading a lot easier, that’s for sure.


I am thankful for happiness, whenever and wherever I find it. Today I woke up in a good mood and suspect I had good dreams I can’t remember. I am thankful to sleep with someone who loves me, to have a view of the river, a short walk to work, and that I have found both meaning and purpose working with a community I love.

I am thankful to have known my father for 42 years, and Aeneas for 11. I am thankful, even, for the loss of them both because they’ve reminded me that time speeds by too quickly, and that the small joys of taking care of and being taken care of are what it’s all about.

I am thankful for #OWS and the Occupy movements around the world, and for the people standing in the cold collecting signatures on petitions to recall WI Governor Scott Walker. I’m thankful to live in an ailing but still viable democracy.

I am thankful that my only food concern is making sure I don’t eat too much of the stuff.

I am thankful for daily opportunities to read, listen to music, and learn new things.

I am thankful that – despite distance of various kinds – I have found both solace and joy in conversation and companionship with friends new & old.

I am thankful that someone invented Zyrtec, which in turn makes it possible for me to go out on my bike and enjoy the big skies and quiet roads of Wisconsin.

I am thankful for a body that works well most of the time, the skin I live in, and a sexuality that unites my mind and body. I am thankful to live in a time and place where my body and my sexuality are mine to self-determine. I am thankful to all of those who work to free all of us from shame, trauma, and violence.

Mostly I am thankful for the kind of life that gives me time to look around and think, to write and ponder and feel. I am thankful that my complaints are mostly bourgeois, that my love and friendship is usually returned by those I love and befriend, and that I can still feel a sense of wonder, beauty and joy despite my natural Taoist tilt.

Happy Thanksgiving: give thanks, give love, and do your art.

Pepper Spray

It turns out the pepper Spray Pike used is on Amazon, and people have been reviewing the product. There is some really good political satire in there:

1.0 out of 5 stars Product Warnng: This product multiplies protesters
I casually used this product to try to disperse a small band of non-violent campers who had locked their arms together. Although initially it seemed to be effective, it took two applications! The worst part is that the next day they multiplied exponentially! Now what?

One positive outcome, I did receive a paid vacation for my efforts.

There is a tumblr, of course, that is gathering all the images of Lt. John Pike pepper spraying his way through history, art, and movies, although my two favories are the Wheres John Pike? and of course, honey badger:










= When memes collide.





Reader Letter

There’s a very nice letter from a reader of Insight Into Diversity about the article on transgender people in employment that was in last month’s issue. She writes:

Hundreds of the top employers in our country don’t think so (IBM, Xerox, Apple, Starbucks, universities, city and county governments, to name just a few). Thanks to education, activism, and the medical profession the reality is that many employers are now supporting transgender workers in ways never seen before. They do this because it makes business sense to retain talented and very loyal employees. They have effectively integrated transgender employees into their workforces by developing trans-friendly policies, insurance coverage providing for trans-health related services including surgeries, and have begun working hard to retain their talented employees and managers. Speaking of policies, I differ from the author on a small but important point: Most employers realize that requiring transgender employees to use specific bathrooms is not inclusion, so their employees use the bathroom appropriate to their expressed gender.

I’m even more pleased to have been a part of it.

Best Trans Books

Oh gosh. Someone’s gone & called me straight again, but never mind: She’s Not the Man I Married was featured in The Advocate’s list of the best trans books.

She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband($15, Seal)
Helen Boyd’s first memoir, My Husband Betty, introduced the world to her and her cross-dressing husband and her own concerns about whether the man she married is a cross-dresser or a transgender woman just waiting to transition. In She’s Not the Man, the funny, sometimes infuriating follow up, Boyd deftly explores the role of gender in her own marriage and culture at large and gives us a thinking straight girl’s treatise on the complex world of gender identity.

Plenty of other favorites of mine are also on the list: Kailey’s Just Add Hormones, Green’s Becoming a Visible Man, and Califia’s Sex Changes.

For a list of books on trans subjects I recommend, I’ve got a whole pile of reviews from over the years (which needs updating, but still, the books mentioned covered a great many aspects of transgender life).

Russia To Make Speaking About Being LGBT Illegal

Russia wants ot make it illegal to write, speak or publish anything about being LGBT. Sign the petition, and sign it fast.

What I Said

My comments at last night’s Transgender Day of Remembrance:

Thank you all for coming.

As far as I know, this is the first Transgender Day of Remembrance for Appleton, and that’s cool. Thank you to all of you who made this happen. I don’t usually go to them myself, because for me, not remembering isn’t even a possibility. Because we know that when we leave the house, or when our loved ones leave the house, there is some chance that some person out there will decide our loved one’s gender is wrong and bad. & We know there are people in the world who think that violence is a way to fix their own fear, and cops who think our lives aren’t important, and courts that think panic is a legitimate reason for murder.

What I’d like instead is a day that I can’t remember the violence committed against people who live their genders despite transphobia, who believe in their own dignity and right to exist. What I’d like is a day when the faces of those who were brutally murdered for being who they are don’t flip through my mind as reminders of the fear I need to live with. What I’d like is a day when no day like this needs to happen.

Most of us gathered here tonight are sheltered by some kind of privilege or another. We may be white, we may be cis, we may be educated; we may have money and health insurance and the possibility of getting a job without questions about our genders. Most of the trans people we are remembering tonight had few of those things, or none of them; too many of the people who are killed every year are people of color, people who do sex work, people who have to decide between work that has sky-high risks and starving. For some trans people, it is just the human desire f0r companionship, that makes them vulnerable to these kinds of attacks.

So while we remember those murdered, I want to celebrate them too. Because I see beautiful, engaged, joyful people in the trans community. I see people in love; I see people with careers and jobs and families and hopes. I see people with aspirations and confidence. What I see when I look around the trans community is a great deal of joy – the kind that people who haven’t known trans people can’t begin to understand, the kind of joy that comes with relief, and with victory not just over the transphobic world we live in, but with the internalized transphobia all of us share, trans and non trans alike.


I’m speaking tonight at a Transgender Day of Remembrance event for the first time. I’ve been reluctant to speak at one for a long time because, as I’ve written in the past, I find it depressing that transphobic violence is the most visible face of the trans community, which is otherwise a community of outstanding talent, energy, humor and beauty. As an ally, I am creeped out by the idea that many people first come into contact with trans people via violence and murder. I am suspicious of the exploitation of trans people by LGB groups who don’t otherwise pay our community much notice.

Not remembering, for most of us involved in trans politics or activism, is not possible. There are too many deaths every year, & too many of us are touched personally by a death. Most of us have faced at least the threat of violence and all of us worry about it.

I am also hesitant about the privilege expressed on TDOR: that those murdered are often not just trans but are people of color, and many, as well, are involved in sex work or are otherwise working class. Employment discrimination, racism, and other aspects of otherness work together to create an atmosphere where some lives are valued more than others, and plenty of trans people live lives of remarkable privilege.

And cis allies, sadly, can often be unaware of exactly how much privilege being not trans is.

That’s some of what I’ll talk about tonight.

All of that said, I am touched and amazed at how well-known TDOR is these days: numerous students, friends, and organizations have written or posted something on Facebook and blogs to mark the day and remember those we’ve lost. And that, ultimately, is the kind of cultural recognition that’s important, as long as it doesn’t end there.

GLAAD Series on TDOR

GLAAD today began a series of blog posts about Transgender Day of Remembrance which is being observed on Sunday, November 20.

There is a great list of TDOR events on the official page, created by Ethan St. Pierre:

GLAAD Guest post from Stephanie Battaglino:

GLAAD Guest post from Ja’briel Walthour:

Info on event in NY hosted by the LGBT Center: and in LA:

GLAAD resource calling for mainstream media to report on TDOR:

I wrote one of these for their series a couple  of years ago, and I’m glad to see they’re doing it again.


Occasionally, human beings express compassion for the rest of the critters on this planet.

Watch More Christian Videos on

We got to walk a family of ducks across a busy avenue here a couple of years ago, maybe a total of a half mile from where they started to the river.

Both Ways

A trans woman is insisting a Tennessee DMV can’t have it both ways: either they decide she’s a man and she should be legally allowed to go topless, or she is a woman & then they need to change her gender marker on her license to an F.

So she took her shirt off outside the DMV, and they promptly arrested her. I’m sure they still didn’t change her gender marker, however.

These ‘gender determined by genitals’ laws have got to go.


Liberty Park was raided by NYPD, FDNY & DSNY starting around 1am EST last night. The live feed is down for now, but it’s here otherwise:

Apparently the press were kicked out before they started throwing tents and other stuff into industrial garbage bins.

And in the meantime, the recall of Governor Scott Walker has started here in WI – at the same time #OWS started being raided, midnight WI time.

Rare 1968 Interview with Quentin Crisp

Tonight in Appleton

Tonight, progressives in Appleton faced the possibility that the position of Diversity Coordinator and the Diversity program would be cut or not funded. Also, there was a possibility that the domestic partner benefits for Appleton city employees might not make it through the budget process, too.

But tonight we kept a priority on diversity and equality.

And while I’m pleased – this is the 4th time (?) I’ve testified before Appleton’s Common Council, and I’m sure they’re tired of me by now – it was pretty rough sitting and listening to a bunch of people who don’t know me call me a moral stain and tell me I’m going to hell. It’s not something I haven’t heard before – as a feminist, as a green, as a queer – but there is something particularly painful to me when I hear that kind of rhetoric coming from Christians, and who say those things because they’re Christians.

It makes me wonder if I missed the part about the Good Samaritan asking first if the guy was gay.

I also wonder – when I hear haters stand behind their status as tax payers – if it ever occurs to homophobic types that LGBTQ people pay taxes too, and into a government that doesn’t treat them as equals. I wonder how well that would sit with people who don’t understand but who – for other reasons – are of a more libertarian stripe.

I pointed that latter piece out tonight, because I think that’s at least some of who I’m talking to here in Appleton.

But “moral stain” I really can’t get past. There’s something so dehumanizing and miserable about that one.

My other bit of wonder is how it is that people who think homosexuality is immoral – and they’re free to think it is – somehow think that justifies treating LGBTQ people as less than citizens. I mean, it’s not like queers have the corner on immorality, right? So do we stop paying health insurance for the partner of a man who commits adultery? I mean, which sins count, exactly, when it comes to citizenship? Which morality matters?

Eh, the whole process makes me sad, but I’m thankful for the other progressives who came tonight, and other nights, to speak truth to power. I’m thankful to all the common council members who are still there, at midnight, wrestling with a budget for this city I live in. I feel thankful that I’ve been given at least some skills to fight for justice.

UK: “My Transsexual Summer”

I’ve been name-checked in The Guardian for the Trans Documentary Drinking Game. Hysterical. Thanks to all who contributed to that list way back when.

Sad to say, things haven’t really gotten much better – only slightly. UK readers, I’d love to hear what you think of this one.