#yesallwomen #safeenough

Posted by – June 9, 2015

This short video was inspired by the #yesallwomen hashtag in that so many women prepare for violence even without a visible or obvious threat. It is the kind of fear that foreshortens women’s public lives and is, at least partially, the result of years of victim-blaming, of attempts to keep women safe by putting the responsibility for the violence committed against them on women themselves. We train young women to believe that they are somehow at fault for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Men are often unaware of how constant & present this fear of violence is in women’s lives, so we hope these short interviews, with women of a variety of identities and experiences, will make that clear.

My wife and I made this for a local group called Voices of Men — a feminist men’s group whose intent is to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence.

Kathleen Dunn Show – Done!

Posted by – June 8, 2015

Our radio interview on WPR’s The Kathleen Dunn Show is now up & available for listening or downloading. It’s a call-in show and we got a lot of good questions. Ms. Dunn was, and is, a great interviewer.

Topics included: Caitlyn Jenner (of course), including that misguided NYT piece from yesterday (I won’t link to it), trans youth, why we don’t answer questions about genitals, family, but mostly it was about trans partners and what it’s like to go through transitioned while married.

So, yeah.

Mara Keisling Drops the Mic

Posted by – June 5, 2015

Us, Kathleen Dunn, Monday: WPR

Posted by – June 3, 2015

Betty & I will be on The Kathleen Dunn Show on WPR this coming Monday at 2PM CST.

Breakfast of Champions – Still

Posted by – June 1, 2015

jenner wheaties updated

Created by my good and super talented friend Alex Colby, whose photography & other creative work hangs out here. Photo by Annie Liebovitz, of course, and Wheaties box by – well, Wheaties. (Yes, that’s Jenner’s original Wheaties box.)

Caitlyn Jenner is Free

Posted by – June 1, 2015

Congrats, Caitlin. The first time I saw the cover – via Janet Mock, natch – I didn’t realize who it was. (Context is everything.)

I really do wish people would stop referring to their own selves – even Caitlyn 1.0, as it were – in the third person. It’s just kind of weird. #bobdole

Otherwise, trans female friends of mine are already starting drinking games based on how many times the new photo appears on their FB feed, which is pretty goddamned hilarious. Others are bemoaning her RWT status, and still others just want her to start doing activism for healthcare for trans people.

Also, why does she appear to be wearing bridal lingerie on the cover? Surely VF had access to some clothes.

And so it goes.

Correction: Not Mark Ruffalo

Posted by – May 31, 2015

Mark Ruffalo was quoting someone – he didn’t write that piece himself. It was written by Libby Anne Bruce, and you can see it posted, last year, on her FB page. It’s been pretty heavily shared and as a result she wound up without being properly credited.

Catharine A. MacKinnon on Trans Women

Posted by – May 28, 2015

I’ve always been a fan of hers even when I disagree with her. But this? Made me joyful. She was asked how her views have changed over the years:

Certain things that I have had an inkling about have grown over time, for example, concerning transgender people. I always thought I don’t care how someone becomes a woman or a man; it does not matter to me. It is just part of their specificity, their uniqueness, like everyone else’s. Anybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman. Many transwomen are more feminist than a lot of born women who don’t much want to be women (for understandable reasons), who don’t really identify with women, some of whom are completely anti-feminist. The fact that they’re biologically female does not improve things.

To me, women is a political group. I never had much occasion to say that, or work with it, until the last few years when there has been a lot of discussion about whether transwomen are women. I discovered I more or less have always had a view on it, developed through transwomen I know, and have met, including prostituted ones, who are some of the strongest feminists in opposition to prostitution I’ve ever encountered. They are a big improvement on the born women who defend pimps and johns, I can tell you that. Many transwomen just go around being women, who knew, and suddenly, we are supposed to care that they are using the women’s bathroom. There they are in the next stall with the door shut, and we’re supposed to feel threatened. I don’t. I don’t care. By now, I aggressively don’t care.

Simone de Beauvoir said one is not born, one becomes a woman. Now we’re supposed to care how, as if being a woman suddenly became a turf to be defended. I have become more impassioned and emphatic as I have become more informed, and with the push-back from colleagues who take a very different view. Unfortunately some people have apparently physically defended their transition, also. This kind of change develops your views is a further in response to a sharpening of developments in the world. But the law Andrea Dworkin and I wrote gives “transsexuals” rights explicitly; that was 1983. We were thinking about it; we just didn’t know as much as it is possible to know now.

I have a hard time believing someone who is so language-aware used the term “turf” unintentionally there. And she’s right about the Minnesota Ordinance; I was just teaching it again and was surprised that trans people are mentioned and included specifically. Here’s another interview with MacKinnon with TransAdvocate where she reiterates these points.

By now, I aggressively don’t care. And this from a feminist – nay, maybe *the* feminist – who takes women’s experience of patriarchal violence and women’s fear of violence about as seriously as a person can.

Mark Ruffalo Brings the Feminism

Posted by – May 27, 2015

CORRECTION 5/31: This piece wasn’t written by Ruffalo, just quoted by him. The original author is Libby Anne Bruce.

We’ve all seen them – the videos by young women proclaiming they are not feminists. Most of us just roll are eyes, but Mark Ruffalo decided to respond. And wow, does he.

“My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon….

First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.”

But here is what I think you should know.

You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago.

You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis center, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.

You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).

You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.

In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.

In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.”

It’s the cutesy sign bit that really nails it, no?

Tea?

Posted by – May 26, 2015

Tea and Consent from Blue Seat Studios on Vimeo.

Feel Less Alone #trans

Posted by – May 26, 2015

Here’s an interesting, interactive map that will give you an idea of how many people who are trans live near you.

Our county in NYC has the highest number of all the NY counties, but our county here in WI has more than I expected.

 

The Origin of Memorial Day

Posted by – May 25, 2015

Interesting piece on the black origins of Memorial Day in the U.S.:

The largest of these events, forgotten until I had some extraordinary luck in an archive at Harvard, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.

The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

Despite the size and some newspaper coverage of the event, its memory was suppressed by white Charlestonians in favor of their own version of the day. From 1876 on, after white Democrats took back control of South Carolina politics and the Lost Cause defined public memory and race relations, the day’s racecourse origin vanished.

Ireland Votes for Marriage

Posted by – May 23, 2015

Here’s a great story about some of the Irish expats who went home to vote, as it was up by referendum. It’s the first country to do so my popular vote.

Here’s another about #hometovote.

More lovely photos.

Northern Ireland is the only place left in that neck of the woods that doesn’t do or recognize same sex marriage, but that’s expected to change.

Things Not To Ask (A Trans Person)

Posted by – May 21, 2015

Things You've Always Wanted To Ask a Trans Person… But Probably Shouldn't

"What's the difference between transvestite and transgender?""Which bathroom do you use?""Have you had 'the op'?" "What do you do in bed?""Are you a drag queen?"We got together some people from the transgender community to pick out questions they often hear. We asked, so you don't have to!

Posted by BBC Free Speech on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

(if it’s not working, try this link.)

Mad Us: The End of Mad Men

Posted by – May 19, 2015

Mad Men isn’t about Joan or Peggy or Don or Betty or Roger or feminism or the 60s or NYC or advertising; it’s not about drinking or smoking or the clothes or the era.

It’s about mid-life and it’s for anyone who has woken up unhappy in some unnamable way after the age of 30. It’s for anyone who grew up knowing they were in for a bright future who woke up with a lot of things they wanted and some they didn’t and tried to get out from under this tremendous sense of disappointment. It’s for anyone who expected to live fiercely and die young who didn’t.

Don Draper is in his mid 30s when the show starts in 1960; it ends late in 1970. It is that decade – the decade of the midlife crisis, the U-curve. It’s the decade when you start to look around or are still in the middle of busily building your life – getting that job, the place to live, kids, spouse. It’s when you finally come up for air after aspiring to so much, of becoming an adult of whatever kind you are or avoiding becoming one altogether.

Is that all there is my friends? is what you ask. I have done these things, read these books, started my life, found love, lost it, found it again, with the same person or a new one, maybe settled for stable over passionate.

It is when your body first starts to tell you that maybe you drink too much or need to quit smoking but you don’t really feel old yet; it’s not until your 40s that you realize that perhaps that stiff knee is only going to get stiffer with time, that it’s never going to feel wholly better.

As a woman it’s the moment you realize you have probably already been the most attractive the culture will allow you to be – which has nothing whatsoever to do with how attractive you are, of course – but it’s also the moment when you realize you have some small authority in whatever your world.

You think about the plans you made and didn’t achieve and the ones you did and your friends’ plans and what they did and didn’t do. It’s when your friend who always wanted to be a writer becomes one and then realizes they got into it for all the wrong reasons or they got into it for the right reasons but those weren’t the ones that made them successful. It’s when the people who make money realize they need meaning and the people who have lived in the moment and for meaning realize they need some money.

It’s when you wonder if you should have married that guy you didn’t marry or whether that woman you did marry was the right one. It’s the decade when you realize you have young children and that your life is about them now, not so much about you, but it’s also the decade when you realize it never was about them but really about you – what you wanted to be as a parent and what you actually are. It’s about sitting on what it means not to be a parent when you realize you’re never going to be one.

It’s when you buy a metaphorical red sports car or dye your hair red or start running marathons even though you never have before.

That decade is when the sex you had in your 20s starts to look unnecessarily athletic and oddly unfocused. It’s when you wonder if you actually knew what turned you on and what didn’t and whether you actually ever experienced an orgasm the way you have more recently. It’s when you realize that getting older physically isn’t so much about your looks or gravity or love handles but about the quality of your skin. You look at young people and wonder if they know how dewy and newborn they look and why you didn’t realize that when it was true about you.

It’s the decade when people divide themselves into two groups – of those who have lost parents and those who haven’t, and the former group gets bigger every day, every month, and you wish it wouldn’t have to.

Mad Men is about all the bad choices that turned out to be great ones and the great ones that turned out to be delusions and the unwitting way you start to live more carefully even if you don’t intend to. It’s about being in love with the person you don’t have and resenting the person who loves you the most. It’s when wild celebrations start to hum with sadness and when sad things start to make you happy in ineffable ways.

Mad Men is about the people who give up everything to grasp some brass ring, about how things you know are going to go away actually do find a way to go away no matter how much you want to keep them. It’s about telling yourself that someone, somewhere has to be perfectly happy with the choices they’ve made and telling yourself that someone somewhere is a smug asshole who has only ever hurt other people.

It’s about owning what you’re ashamed of and what others shame you for; it’s about how you live out the ways that you’re broken.

It’s about how you let go of what you once had.

It’s about when you want others to be happy because someone should be.

It’s when you stop competing with everyone else and realize you’ve never cared about anyone’s opinion but your own, anyway.

Mad Men
is a story about growing up and growing old, about the deep faith of cynics and the cheap virtue of idealists.

It’s painfully American and remarkably well dressed. It’s about happiness being that thing you have until you need more happiness. It’s about knowing which is the temporary bandage and which is the permanent wound.

It’s about knowing that that is all there is and that’s more than you ever dreamed was possible.

So let’s keep dancing.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Posted by – May 17, 2015

In case the MRA guys calling for a boycott of the movie isn’t a good enough reason for you, I saw it last night and loved it. Maybe it will come as a surprise that I tend to like fast movies with a lot of explosions – but I do. It’s beyond that, though: the art of it is occasionally striking, the attention to detail is intense, and there were actually a couple of scenes that made me tear up. The world building strikes me as pretty damn complete, too.

& Of course Theron is unbelievable, but so is Hardy as Mad Max. Really, the dude grunts better, in character, than any other action hero I’ve ever seen. Not that that’s a high bar, but still.

Mostly it’s a dystopian vision of a movie – strong female characters, interesting commentary on patriarchal violence, and environmentalism.

Also, the MRA guys hate it. As a (male) friend of mine wrote, “I mean, I just kinda wanna give them each a cookie and pinch their cheeks, and tell them that they’re big, strong men and their mommies really did love them, and that it’s gonna be okay.”

But if you don’t believe me, go check out The Mary Sue review.

Birthday.

Posted by – May 13, 2015

So it is mine, today. My 46th. & As many of you know, I share it with my wife: we were born the same year, on the same day, but in two different states (and to two different sets of parents, of course).

There’s something about aging as a writer that makes you more impatient for your own time, so yesterday’s awesome response to my summer writing fund has cheered me immeasurably. I’m so thrilled that so many have responded so kindly, with suggestions for the kinds of things I might offer if I do that IndieGoGo campaign, but mostly because it means people want to read my next book.

I worry, you know, about being this odd cis person writing about trans issues. I don’t like to step on toes and try to follow most of the rules about being a good “ally” – and I put that in scare quotes because I don’t really feel like that. Lately I’ve been using “co conspirator” because it feels a lot more accurate.)

But thank you, all of you. The donations have been awesome & I hope they keep coming so I can stop worrying – that’s really the thing more than anything: getting more distracting thoughts out of your head so the writing can happen unimpeded. I’m really looking forward to surprising you all with what I come up with. This book, more than the others, feels important to me.

Do feel free to spread the word: every little bit counts. & In the meantime, I’m going to start my 46th year.

Helen’s Summer Writing Fund

Posted by – May 12, 2015

I’m working on my third book and have been, off & on for the last couple of years. I’ve changed the idea of it more than once and know that I’m going to be writing about some difficult and far ranging stuff – not just life post transition, life with a wife, but the rest, too: our ongoing libido mismatch, trans feminism, teaching, kink, masculinity. It is going to be the kind of book that I’m not going to get my head around until I’ve written a huge chunk of it, and that’s going to take some serious focus.

That said, the day has finally come. It’s a thing you feel, and I feel way overdue.

This is where you come in, readers.

Neither writing nor teaching pay particularly well, so most summers I’m looking for paid work – which is a huge distraction from the writing itself – and it’s making me impatient. I need some funds to get by so I can write all summer instead of finding work.

I’ve thought about doing a Patreon campaign or Kickstarter or the like, but after looking into those a little, I’m not sure I want to put on a whole sideshow when really I just need some funds to get through a summer.

What I want, most, is a little funding, and with it a shot in the arm from my lovely readers.

So here is my toe, in this water of patronage, to see if some of you might help me pay the bills so that I can write fulltime this summer. As some of you know, I wrote all of My Husband Betty in three months, and SNTMIM in six, so I’m optimistic about how much I can put together in a summer.

If you like what I do, what I write, and want to see what I will write, please let me know by donating something toward this summer fund. If it turns out to be a good idea, maybe I’ll do the official Kickstarter thing but in the meantime, if you can donate, do, and do let me know in the comments what kinds of things you might be willing to donate for – all of the official funding sites want me to promise people things, but outside of signed copies, I can’t imagine what I’d offer.

So here, for now, is a link to my PayPal account. It would cheer me endlessly to have your support.





Thank you. It means the world to me.

Salon Interview With Yours Truly

Posted by – May 10, 2015

I think this is the first time I’ve been in Salon, and look at that! A whole interview with me.

If you’ve come here from the Salon article, here are some of the resources/community I’ve been running for years.

The MHB Boards – is a private community open to trans people of all kinds and partners, children, parents (SOFFA) of trans people. Here’s more about them.

(en)gender partners – a private list only for partners of trans people. inclusive of trans masculine & trans feminine, genderqueer, wives of crossdressers, etc.

You’ll find other resources by searching my blog or clicking on the ‘trans partners’ tag.

Welcome!

Happy Mother’s Day

Posted by – May 10, 2015