Non Monogamy’s Many Variations

So here’s a clearly stated article on some of the vagaries of non monogamous relationships, what forms they might take, how they are interpreted in gay and straight relationships, why non monogamy and polyamory aren’t “cheating”, what the difference is between an open relationship and a poly one.

But here’s what I love the most about this one:

Whenever the topic of non-monogamy comes up there are inevitably comments about these sorts of relationships failing. The truth is, non-monogamous relationships fail all the time.

The bigger picture however, is that relationships fail all the time, full stop.

Oh, right. That. & From where I’m standing, there is a lot, a lot a lot a lot, of wreckage around transition. I often wonder how many partnerships might have continued if there had been a little room – say, for a lesbian wife of a trans guy to have a girlfriend, too, because she still loves the guy she met who transitioned but misses having an intimate, trusting relationship with a woman, too.

The more I read about ace (asexuality), the more these kinds of relationships might make sense too.

I had a poly friend once say to me that his feelings about monogamy are kind of like Gandhi’s about western civilization. I’m sure you all know the story: Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civ, and he said, “I think it would be a very good idea.” The problem with monogamy, he explained, is that all sorts of people think they’re in monogamous relationships who aren’t.

As I have before, I’ll once again recommend Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up.



Author’s Authority

In 1963, Bruce McAllister, a 16 year old high school student, decided his teachers were full of it when it came to symbolism in novels. So he wrote a bunch of authors and asked if they intentionally planted symbolism in their work.

Here’s what they said:

Jack Kerouac: “No.”

Isaac Asimov: “Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?”

Ray Bradbury: “No, I never consciously place symbolism in my writing. That would be a self-conscious exercise and self-consciousness is defeating to any creative act. Better to let the subconscious do the work for you, and get out of the way. The best symbolism is always unsuspected and natural.”

John Updike: “Yes—I have no method; there is no method in writing fiction; you don’t seem to understand.”

Norman Mailer: “I’m not sure it’s a good idea for a working novelist to concern himself too much with the technical aspects of the matter. Generally, the best symbols in a novel are those you become aware of only after you finish the work.”

Ralph Ellison: “Symbolism arises out of action…Once a writer is conscious of the implicit symbolism which arises in the course of a narrative, he may take advantage of them and manipulate them consciously as a further resource of his art. Symbols which are imposed upon fiction from the outside tend to leave the reader dissatisfied by making him aware that something extraneous is added.”

He also asked Continue reading “Author’s Authority”

4 Indicted in Steubenville For Attempted Cover-Up

Some good news:

Now, , Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey has been “charged with tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and falsification.” Also charged: elementary school principal Lynette Gorman, for alleged failure to report child abuse; wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, for alleged failure to report child abuse; and volunteer football coach Matthew Bellardine, “who faces charges allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, falsification, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

Wow. Actual people being held accountable. What a breath of fresh air.

Trans? Partner? Holidays got you down? WE WILL CALL YOU ON THE PHONE

From Jenny Boylan’s blog:

Hello there.  For the third year in a row, we are doing THE DECEMBER PROJECT.  The plan is simple.  If you are trans– or if you love some one who is trans– and you need a friendly voice, email us and we will call you on the phone.

We began this project in 2011.  I was thinking that year how hard the holidays can be for people– but they can be especially hard for trans people and their families.  Charles Dickens had it right when, in the CHRISTMAS CAROL, he suggested that it’s Christmas, not Halloween, that’s the most haunted of holidays.  Our memories are heightened at this time of year– we think back to our childhood, to our many struggles.  For some of us it’s a time when we’re acutely aware of how cut off we are from those we love.  The world is full of transgender people who are unable to see their children, their parents,  their loved ones, all because of the simple fact of who they are.

We cannot undo all the hurt in the world.  But what we can do is CALL YOU ON THE PHONE and remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  You don’t have to be in crisis to take advantage of this project.  All you have to do is want a friendly voice.

The project is run by four people– Jennifer Finney Boylan, national co-chair of GLAAD; Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality;  Dylan Scholinski, director of Sent(a)mental Studios, and Helen Boyd, Professor at Lawrence University.  We are two trans women, a trans man, and a spouse of a trans woman.  Between the four of us, we have heard many different kinds of trans narratives.  If we can help you, we would be glad to do so.

How do you get us to call you? By emailing   I’ll use that email as the central mailbox;  if you have a particular preference to talk to one or the other of us, let me know– although I can’t guarantee that you’ll always here from the person you request.  Also please tell us the time of day and the date you’d be free for a call; you might want to give us a couple of options.  And of course, tell us your phone number.  WE WILL KEEP YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENTIAL.

We will start with calls on December 1, and keep this going until New Years.

Sound good?  I hope so.  We hope we can help, even if just a little.

Three other caveats I should mention at the end here:

1) First, no one in the December Project gets a dime out of it.  This is a shoestring operation, largely consisting of four people trading phone numbers.  If you want to support our causes, you can let us know, and we’ll tell you how to give.  But this is not about that.

2) If you are in serious crisis, please bypass us and go directly to the national suicide prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-8255  WE ARE NOT TRAINED AS THERAPISTS or as counselors for individuals in crisis.  If you need something more serious than a “friendly voice,’ please call the lifeline.

3) For the moment we are content with this project consisting of the four of us;  in past years, we have been a little overwhelmed (and yes, deeply touched) by the many, many of you who have wanted to join us.  While we thank you for your grace and your love,  it’s also overwhelming for us to sort through the requests; we hope you’ll understand if we ask that folks writing us be primarily those who want a call. There are many ways you can get involved in your own community, and we heartily encourage everyone who wants to spread some love around to do so in their own way, starting right at home.

Thanks so much!  Wishing you all the best for a positive, hopeful, loving holiday season!


Jennifer Finney Boylan, on behalf of the December Project

and all I have to add is: what she said.

(#TDOR) My Students Asked…

… why it is I don’t like TDOR or often go to TDOR vigils, and here are the reasons:

We remember Evon Young, killed in Milwaukee, Wis., on Jan. 1.
We remember Cemia “CeCe” Dove, killed in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 27.
We remember Fatima Woods, killed in Rochester, N.Y., on May 30.
We remember Kelly Young, killed in Baltimore, Md., on April 3.
We remember Valarie McKinney, killed in Shreveport, La., on July 12.
We remember Diamond Williams, killed in Philadelphia, Pa., on July 14.
We remember Islan Nettles, killed in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, N.Y. on Aug. 17.
We remember Domonique Newburn, killed in Fontana, Calif., on Aug. 20.
We remember Artegus Konyale Madden, killed in Savannah, Texas, on Sept. 1.
We remember Terry Golston, killed in Shreveport, La., on Sept. 6.
We remember Melony Smith, killed in Baldwin Park, Calif., on Sept. 9.
We remember Eyricka Morgan, killed in New Brunswick, N.J. on Sept. 24.
We remember Amari White, killed in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 9.

Via Gwen Smith, who founded TDOR, this is a list of all the people killed in the US whose names we know. I remember getting the news of each of them, in turn, and reading the horrific details of their deaths – they are always horrific – as Riki Wilchins once pointed out, they are immolating, often so violent it is as if their killers were out to make them not exist, to have never existed, not just kill them.

And I cried with every one, but so hard for Cemia Dove and for Evon Young, because their bodies were disposed of in the surest sense of the term – thrown away. & Islan Nettles, because I lived for so many years where she died.

So if people ever wonder why I get angry at why we haven’t made the world more trans friendly yesterday, this is why.

Murder is rarely about the individual who does the killing. It’s about the systemtic tranphobic discrimination all of these individuals experienced before they died. It’s about how hard it can be to get a job, to feel connected and loved, to use a public bathroom, to be asked, time after time, who you “really” are.

For every one of them, there is a me mourning – a lover, a friend, a mom, a dad. These are the people we love. Please help us make the world safer for them.

Enough already.

I will go to Appleton’s TDOR tonight, because I’m proud that this little city even has one and because I’m proud of my students for doing the work to make it happen. And because there should be a place where I get to cry for Evon Young’s mom.


TDOR 2013

Here is this year’s post, which is also up at the Wisconsin Gazette. This was co-authored by Will Van Rosenbeek.

International Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time to reflect on those who have been killed because of transphobia and hate.  For those who are transgender, genderqueer or non-binary — and their significant others, friends, family and allies (SOFFAs) — 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 or bad. We know there are people in the world who think that violence will fix their own fears, law enforcement officers who think our lives aren’t important, and courts that think panic is a legitimate reason for murder.

What we’d like to see is a day when we 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 we’d like is a day when the faces of those who were brutally murdered for being who they are don’t flip through our minds as reminders of the fear we need to live with.

We all have privileges! We may be white, we may be cisgender, 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 transgender people we remember had few or none of those advantages. 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 horribly risky work and starving.

For some transgender people, it is just the human desire to have companionship that makes them vulnerable to attacks.

While we remember those murdered, we want to celebrate them too. We see a transgender community filled with beautiful, engaged and joyful people. We see people in love. We see people with careers and jobs and families and hopes. We see people with aspirations and confidence.

What we want to see when we look around the transgender community is a great deal of joy. The kind of joy that comes with victory not just over the transphobic world we live in, but with the internalized transphobia all of us share — transgender and cisgender alike.

Fair Wisconsin LGBT Leadership Conference: Feb 7-9, 2014

Online registration for the 2014 Wisconsin LGBT Leadership Conference is now open — register now and enjoy early bird rates!  Held February 7-9, 2014, we have another weekend full of inspiring speakers, educational workshops and fun social networking planned, and you won’t want to miss it.  Click here to learn more about the conference and register today!

SAVE THE DATE: February 8, 2014 — for the 2014 Annual Leadership Awards and Gala Dinner in Milwaukee, featuring a Keynote by Kate Bornstein!  This annual gala dinner is our largest event and is held the same weekend as the Leadership Conference (tickets sold separately).  Online registration is coming soon!  Please contact for more information about sponsorship opportunities, or to reserve a table today.

William T. Vollman, Crossdresser

So here’s an interesting artistic/literary take on crossdressing that is definitely not the standard narrative and yet shares some commonalities with it:

In the book’s introduction, Mr. Vollmann explains that his interest in cross-dressing is more an exploration of femininity than an expression of some complicated gender identity. “Not only am I physically and emotionally attracted to women,” he writes, “I also wonder what being a woman would be like.”

But his hobby has cost him friends, and he said he has “a certain amount of fear and dread” about the book’s publication. “A lot of friends who could always handle the prostitutes and the drugs felt that I had somehow degraded myself,” he said. “The idea of stepping down from the dominant male class really disgusts a lot of people, including women.”

Still, Mr. Vollmann is not one to let other people’s opinions sway his interests. He found being a woman, or attempting to appear as one, endlessly fascinating, even when it was unpleasant. (“Mascara is an incredible hassle,” he said.)

I have to say, however, that I’m always a little suspicious of narratives like this one, especially because of how decidedly “masculine” he is otherwise. The Times article begins

As far as writers go, William T. Vollmann is a man’s man. In pursuit of a story, he has roughed it with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and survived a land mine explosion in Bosnia. He singed his eyebrows off and nearly froze to death exploring the magnetic North Pole. In Thailand, he rescued a teenage girl from sex slavery by kidnapping her from a pimp.

… which may be the mark of a man’s man, but in my experience, it sounds more like the overcompensation of a closeted CD, except, of course, that he’s not closeted – not anymore, at least.

Brian Eno & Grayson Perry on Perversion

I love this.

GP Careful! Speaking as a pervert myself, what the internet did was tell you that you weren’t alone. And it was shocking. When I was young, when I was about ten years old, I used to have this fantasy, which used to turn me on greatly, of being in a body cast – lying in hospital, motionless, unable to move. And then when the internet came along, one day I just thought, “I wonder,” and then I just googled “plaster casts” and like – eugh! There’s websites called things like Cast Your Enthusiasm. It’s an offshoot of bondage.

BE It’s an offshoot of surrendering, as well – the same thing. You’re deliberately losing control.

GP And it’s kind of a loving thing, I think. It has to be. If you think about giving up to God, God is always there and is a parental presence, a parental projection. In bondage, there is always somewhere in the fantasy the loving but cruel parent figure.

BE The loving dominator.

GP Yes, we’re all gimps to a certain extent. Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.

“Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.” = You can put that in your pipe & smoke it.

Mental Illness Isn’t Cancer

I found this short reflection on the difference in experience for a family when first the mom/wife went through breast cancer, and later a daughter went through addiction treatment and recovery.

Because of course, addition is an illness, as are mental health issues. But we don’t treat it, or them, as if they were.

When the wife had cancer, people brought casseroles.

Maggie was disciplined by her college for breaking the drug and alcohol rules. She began an outpatient recovery program. She took a medical leave from school. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed, released. She began years of counseling, recovery meetings, and intensive outpatient rehabilitation. She lived in a recovery house, relapsed, then spent seven weeks in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.

No soup, no homemade loaves of bread.

When the daughter was fighting addiction, people brought none.

I have often wondered how sane a world it would be to live in one where we helped people with an illness instead of criminalizing them. Nutty, I know. But we persist in thinking of addiction as a moral failure, a failure of discipline.

Renisha McBride

So what the fuck is going on in this country? A woman’s car dies so she stops in a suburb (of Detroit) and knocks on a door for help and is shot in the back of the head when she turned to leave.

Her body is found nearby, except nope, it wasn’t, it was found on the front steps of this house.

I’m assuming I don’t have to tell you the suburb was white & the woman was black.

Horrifying, sickening, frustrating, and saddening. I’m tired of these stories, tired of people resolving everything with guns and violence.

& Ugh, her poor family.