Pride Ends: Stonewall Narrative

For the last day of Pride, a great essay on the Stonewall riots by someone who was there. Here’s an excerpt:

Coming out of the subway station at Christopher Street, we could hear the commotion. The shoving and pushing by both protestors and police yanked three of us away from the core group; we were left to fend for ourselves. When we made our way into the crowd swarming the front of the Stonewall Inn, we, too, threw bottles, garbage, and anything we could get our hands on. In the midst of the riot, I realized the moment looked and felt similar to the Martin Luther King riot. But this time I knew who the LGBTQ folks fighting along with us were.

As the momentum of the crowd pushed my small group to Waverly Place, a block away from the Stonewall, we witnessed two white cops pummeling a black drag queen. “I should shove this stick up your ass,” said one of the cops as he pulled up her dress with a nightstick in his hand. The taller of the two cops yanked off her wig and laughingly tossed it to the other cop. Spotting us, the cop who caught the wig threw it at us yelling, “You nigger fags get away!”

The wig missed and landed about a foot away from us, but the cop’s words hit, striking fear. And with just the three of us traveling together — the boys were high-school football linebackers, I a middle schooler — and being the youngest and only girl with them, I felt vulnerable after having lost Nate, Sr., and the group. Witnessing the beat-down and disrobing of the drag queen made me want to cry, but I fought back the tears and ran, following the boys down the block.

When we came home the night of June 28, we still had no idea of Birdie’s fate. Throughout that day and the night before, we had witnessed so many Birdies beaten badly. We stopped by the Andersons to convey our concerns and that we had looked for Birdie. Cissy told us that he was safely home, having sustained a number of blunt trauma injuries: a black eye, assorted bruises, broken ribs, a sprained ankle, and a busted lip. None of us know how Nate, Sr., found Birdie in the riot, but he did; we assumed parental instinct trumped the seemingly impossible.

When I look back at the first night of the Stonewall Inn riots, I could have never imagined its future importance. The first night played out no differently from previous riots involving black Americans and white policemen. And so, too, did its being underreported. But I was there.

Hope everyone had a lovely pride month. Have some Oreos.

Max “Sasha” Reinhart

This is the kind of crossdresser story we have all grown to dread, no? College professor crossdresses for sex work.

And yet: I wonder where exactly, as a culture, we’re supposed to put the kind of fantasy role play this person was indulging in. I can not believe ze was doing sex work for the money. I just don’t. Gender is a rough thing to work out when you’re an adult man with adult repsonsibilities, and this line, in particular, keeps glaring at me:

Reinhart is said to be a wonderful teacher and well-liked by students and colleagues.

Because I don’t doubt it, and it points to the human being this person is. Ze made a very bad decision, no doubt. But I want to know the rest of the story, because there is always more story.

My sympathies, Max/Sasha Reinhart. I’m sorry you had no one to run this idea past before you did it, or at least no one to convince you it was a bad, bad call.

Gad Beck

Gad Beck was the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. He died just before his 89th birthday.

Under the Nazi regime, he famously dressed-up as a Hitler Youth member, and entered a deportation camp to free his lover, Manfred Lewin. However, Mr Lewin refused to be separated from his family, with whom he was later deported to Auschwitz, and killed there.

He appears as himself in Paragraph 175, the documentary about the law that made homosexuality illegal in Germany.

Out as Trans in Academia

Here’s a nice piece by Rachel McKinnon in CHE about being out as trans in the classroom.

But let’s face it: If I don’t say something, there is a great big elephant in the room. My name has been changed, and there are features of my physical appearance that are undergoing change: clothes, hair, and other aspects. As I say, I’m “visibly” trans, for the moment at least, and I don’t want it to be a distraction without an explanation.

I also wanted to inform my students for pedagogical reasons. First, it’s relevant to my business-ethics course, since I’m teaching gender and transgender issues in the business context. I want to be able to draw on my experiences, including policy changes at my university and some local businesses, when I teach those issues.

Second, I think it’s important for students to see successful trans people in professional positions. The media portrayal and general public knowledge of us is terrible. All too often, the only reason to talk about trans people is to make fun of us, or to pity us because of the discrimination, violence, and hardships we encounter.

Of course many have gone before her, including Jennifer Finney Boylan and Miqqi Alicia Gilbert, amonstt (many) others.


New LGBTQ Leadership: South + Midwest

There are certainly organizations (hello, Trans Ohio!) missing from this list, but it’s still good to see a bunch of new names and new projects. I particularly like this one:

Kezia Curtis
Detroit, Michigan

Kezia Curtis wanted to learn more about bikes, but she wasn’t quite expecting to make a community out of it. Her interest took her to Fender Bender, a Detrot-based bicycle and education training program. While the program isn’t exclusively for queer women of color, it has become an important safe space for queer and gender non-conforming cyclists to give a more bicycle-friendly image to the city’s car culture. Curtis became eager about the program after taking classes this year, and is getting ready to co-teach bike mechanics classes to high school students in Detroit this summer.

Have any to add?

Human Variation

The caption to the photo says: Four-legged Myrtle Corbin, who bore two children from her first vagina and three from her second.

The whole article – photos of circus “freaks” by Charles Eisenmann from the 1800s – is fascinating.

And yes, there are people in the collection who have non-normative genders.

Here is what fascinates me & always has: I’ve never read anything written by people who worked as “freaks”. I really want to know how they thought about humanity – it couldn’t have been good, right? – and about their own ability to make a profit off their difference. If anyone out there has resources, I would love to read them.

If you haven’t yet checked out io9, do. They publish some really really great stuff.

Rheims With Gender

I really am not sure what to think of this project. The idea was to photograph genders, as she did in the 80s, but somewhere along the way she discovered a few people who were genderqueer or trans*.

I love the idea but I also feel a little squeamish about the description of the project.

I think I’d prefer to hear their voices talking about how they live in their bodies and genders, and what they think of both.


Two Tune Tuesday: Kimbra

This is one of those songs that’s going to be entirely misunderstood, much like “Every Breath You Take Was”. I’ll put money on it showing up at weddings, even.

And don’t miss some of the coldest lyrics about marriage I’ve ever heard:

i want to settle down
It’s time to bring you down
on just one knee for now
let’s make our vows

But it’s critique of marriage, competition between women, and that mannequin-like man spouse: It’s so spot on, no?

A Modest Proposal

A trans guy puts the video of him proposing to his fiancee up on YouTube and the right wing mocks them.

But he wasn’t having it, and has responded with grace and humor and steeliness:

“To Laura Ingraham, a Fox News anchor who expressed dismay at seeing the news, we just want to say, do not worry. We will absolutely invite you to the wedding,” Scout says. As for Fischer, who Scout accidentally referred to as Miss Brianna Fischer, “We will offer you free LGBT cultural competency training.”

What his fiancee said is what drew me to this story.

There are some “people who think we’re mutants and horrible people,” said Margolies, who is executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network in New York City. “But we’re just regular people struggling to do good in the world.”

This shouldn’t be a very difficult thing to explain, yet I find it is, time after time. The assumption that LGBTQ people – and especially trans people and their partners – are somehow living lives that are intentionally perverse is one that I find even welcoming liberals sometimes express.

We are not trying to be “out there”. We are trying to be happy, like everyone else.

A lot of the time, embracing the idea of being a pervert, or “out there”, is the only thing that keeps you sane, because otherwise, the constant judgment wears you down.

Throw His Disco Stick a Party

These made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt: the 44 worst pieces of sex advice offered by Cosmo. My favorites:

7. “Fifty-six percent of unmarried men prefer receiving head while lying down as opposed to standing up, while the numbers are exactly reversed for married men.”
I think that means you are one married man and two standard deviations from overthinking foreplay.

“We rounded up a bunch of super-sexy tricks just for [your breasts]. If these don’t skyrocket your pleasure (and have him drowning in drool), we don’t know what will.”
I pride myself on keeping up with the international register of erotic terminology, but somehow “drowning in drool” slipped right by me. However, after Googling it, I did learn that it accounts for 23% of nocturnal deaths among St. Bernards.

16. “Draw an attention-grabbing circle around your nipples using rhinestones and body glue for a special night in.”
Definitely wait for a special night. Nothing’s sadder than body-gluing rhinestones around your nipples on a Tuesday. What is this, the Midwest?

35. “As you’re eating dinner together, say something X-rated like, ‘See how I’m devouring this piece of meat? That’s how I’m going to devour you.'”
Then, later, during oral sex, pause and say, “OM NOM NOM NOM.”


Int’l Olympics Sets Sex Policy

Wow, this is huge news. Since Caster Semenya’s case first hit the headlines – which it never should have done for the sake of her privacy – there’s been a lot of speculation about women and competition.

That is, there wasn’t just a desire to define “woman” – since most experts know that’s impossible. (Trust me.) But the Olympics Committee instead are trying to define “woman athlete” or what might give a woman an “unfair” competitive edge against other women, and they’ve just decided how it’s going to be.

First, here’s what they came up with:

  1. Under the new policy, an investigation into the possibility that an athlete has hyperandrogenism can be requested by an athlete concerned about her own condition; a medical official for a country’s Olympic committee; a member of the I.O.C. Medical Commission or a member of the Olympic organizing committee’s medical commission; or the chairman of the I.O.C. Medical Commission.
  2. If the chairman decides to conduct an investigation, relevant documents like medical records will be gathered. If further investigation is needed, a panel of one gynecologist, one genetic expert and one endocrinologist will try to determine whether hyperandrogenism is present and if it offers a competitive advantage.
  3. If need be, the athlete and her international federation can appeal the decision within 21 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She can also compete in men’s events if she qualifies.
  4. The guidelines do not address whether a woman found to have hyperandrogenism could undergo a treatment to make her eligible to compete as a woman.

So, point by point:

  1. Any female athlete can request another athlete’s sex and gender tests. No potential for bullying or gender baiting or witch hunting or policing of gender there. *sigh* What a nightmare: women judging other women’s “acceptable” level of womanness.
  2. There’s no distinction being made between people who take androgens and people whose bodies produce them.
  3. I have to say, I love the idea of women being able to compete in men’s events if they want to. That fucking rocks. & Just lit a nice green light for trans guys, too.
  4. Could undergo could mean: be encouraged to, be bullied into, willingly choose, feel required to. Problematic, but when it comes to many other decisions about gender, it can be hard to judge whether a person is choosing freely or making a coerced decision. This one will be no different.

I first thought that their decision to use T levels at the determining factor was a good idea. I still think it is. BUT:

Continue reading “Int’l Olympics Sets Sex Policy”

What To Do with Grief

Sometimes I wonder whether writing a book to deal with my father’s death and all the other loss I’ve experienced in the last year is the right thing to do.

Then I see this woman’s art as a response to her mother’s death and think: yes. Go look at all the other images she created to honor her mother. I wish I didn’t understand how she could have spent so much time and energy creating this other world but I do.

Thank you, all of you, who understand what this means in an ongoing way for me. As I said to a friend whose father died shortly after mine: it changes everything. I explained.

grief is overwhelming. i have found it has changed everything – the way i look at the world, what’s important to me, my commitment to my work, my sense of self.

i think death – esp of a parent – is a brush with mortality. & like all brushes with mortality, it makes the mundane things you do to get along in the world look like the bullshit it is. AND IT IS.

so for me it’s about figuring out how to live more deeply.

The weirdest part of it is knowing that all of the people around you are experiencing life on the same shallow plane you were on, or who distract themselves from their own bullshit with gossip or turf wars or with whatever.  I’ve recently been disappointed to hear a few things people decided to believe about me without actually asking me if they were true. And while I have moments of wanting to explain / defend myself, and have given in to that futile effort, I was exhausted in the process. But sometimes, yes, I still want to, despite the sadness, and then I think: it’s so not important. You can’t really change someone’s mind if s/he’s decided in advance that you’re a jerk, & no one of any quality would. I feel disappointed at not being given the benefit of the doubt, and then I go back to writing.

So yes, more art. More worlds where life and pain and loss are meaningful and intense and beautiful. More worlds like Kirsty Mitchell’s. Less pettiness, rivalry, or acting out of insecurity. More commitment to social justice. More passion, and more profundity, in every sense of the word.

Title IX: Equity in Education (Not Just Sports)

I’ve been a self-proclaimed feminist for 20 years now, and it took me a very, very long while to realize that Title IX was not ONLY about sports. It states:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.

There is no specific mention of sports, you’ll notice. I’ll be honest that that bias toward the sports issues it raised really pisses me off. And to clarify: I don’t hate sports. I just hate the way sports take up all the air in the room, all the time. And in this case, one of the reasons every reference we hear to Title IX concerns sports is because right out of the gate there were people more worried about how this might disrupt male athletes for a tiny goddamn second.

So to clarify, Title IX actually addresses all inequities in ANY EDUCATION PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY, which includes (but is not limited to):

  • Access to Higher Education,
  • Career Education,
  • Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students,
  • Employment,
  • Learning Environment,
  • Math and Science,
  • Sexual Harassment,
  • Standardized Testing
  • Technology


That said, today it has been 40 years since Title IX was enacted by President Nixon, and I’m glad we’ve got it. Lately, honestly, I’m wondering what happened that we seemed to abandon so many of the amazing goals of the 60s and 70s, or exactly when we took our eye off equity.

Katie from Tulsa

Here’s a story from Tulsa about a young trans woman – the first out trans woman we know of who graduated high school transitioned – but I have my misgivings about stories about young trans people. I think it’s hard to judge what it might mean to be this out. I have no doubt Katie is courageous and will give a lot of young trans kids a lot of hope, but I can’t help but be concerned, too.

We had a better idea than most what it might be like to be this out, but even we underestimated how huge it has been.

Still, I’m glad she has such amazing, accepting parents, & have no doubt she will do amazing things.


Subscribe to This Blog

If you look at the right hand column, you can now subscribe to this blog. The really cool part is that you can edit for categories – so if you don’t like my politics but want my reports on trans stuff, you can check only “trans” & so only get relevant posts.

Cool, right? So go for it!



Green Daniel’s Letter to His Senator

I loved this letter from the father of a trans man to his senator about ENDA and thought you all would, too.

Dear Senator Alexander,

I was on an airplane this afternoon, minutes from landing in Nashville, when my cabin neighbor just happened to utter his first words to me saying, “That’s the one thing I like about real books over E-books.  You have to turn yours off and I can keep reading.”  He went on tell me how interesting his book was (I think he noticed that I was reading John Irving’s new novel, “In One Body” which has gay, bi-sexual, and transgender characters throughout the story – It makes you think from another perspective for a change.). My new pal was reading, “You Are Not So Smart”, which deals with something called confirmation bias (Our brains resist new ideas, instead paying attention only to findings that reinforce our preconceived notions.  That’s what the blurbs say, anyway).

Continue reading “Green Daniel’s Letter to His Senator”