Interview: Safe Space Radio

Tonight I’ll be interviewed on Safe Space Radio, out of Maine.

Definitely do check out some of the other interviews Dr. Anne has done on trans issues – the one on the trans youth summer camp is particularly interesting.

SistersTalk Interview Tonight

I’ll be on SistersTalk radio tonight, January 6th, at 7PM Central time.

(& Wow, they’re quick: it’s already up.)

SistersTalk Radio Interview

I’ll be on SistersTalk radio this Wednesday, January 6th, at 7PM Central time.  & Yes, they’re on Facebook. They recently interviewed Rachel Kramer Bussell, erotica empress.

Other upcoming for me: a reading at Appleton Public Library on March 3rd, and I’m doing a reading for the Fox Cities Book Festival on April 12th. My best calendar is still on the front page of my author site, (along with a list of past appearances, etc.)

In Defense of Autumn

Autumn Sandeen used to cull stories for the Transgender News Yahoo Group; she’s been blogging for forever, and not long ago became a key poster and moderator at Pam’s House Blend.

Recently, people have given her holy hell for shutting down the use of the words cisgender and cissexual because they were being used in the context of an argument that was only estranging members of the LGBT community from each other (& I’m not linking to all the posts about it intentionally as I have done so before and had my say otherwise).

The Trans-Ponder podcasters Jayna and Mila called  for some perspective this past Sunday night when it came to Autumn, particularly, citing the invaluable work that she has done on behalf of the trans community, and explained that even if you think someone’s wrong – in what opinion they hold, or in terms of something they’ve done – you don’t need to let the anger cause you to throw out the baby with the bathwater. (Their thoughts on the subject start around 53 minutes into Podcast #129.)

Dallas Denny said a long time ago that we tend to “eat our own” and in an interview with her a few years back, she clarified, in response to my 3rd question, the ideas she was trying to express when it came to trans community politics.

As someone who has taken heat for lots of things over the years, and someone who has seen even the champions of particularly useful ideas about trans subjectivity take heat for her own ideas, it makes me sad to see Autumn suffer so much. It is not easy work to build bridges within the LGBT, & Autumn has, in my opinion, done an extraordinarily good job of it. I’d like to see her keep doing that cool work, and even if she occasionally takes a mis-step — as we all do — the benefit of what she does far outweighs the mistakes she’s made.

I guess I’d ask, too, that people try to pay attention to the ratio of what they do to what they criticize. I’ve noticed that many people online who have the time & energy to work up a head of steam over what some other activist has said or done don’t necessarily spend as much time on positive activism as they do on the fine critiquing of others’ work. I am not saying that critics don’t do anything; I AM saying that anger & criticism sometimes are best-served by doing more instead of talking more. I say that as someone who has put my foot firmly in my mouth instead of doing something positive to fix what I saw as a problem. (As Betty and I like to joke about that one support group member who is constantly yammering on & on & on & repeating the same issues they always bring up, try not to be the person who seems to be saying, “I’d listen but I’m too busy talking.”)

In a nutshell: I’d like to thank Autumn Sandeen publicly for the work she has done, and to thank all the numerous people who keep working to build bridges within our communities.

Superhero Betty

How sweet is this? Ron Hogan is interviewed by The Undomestic Goddess and names Betty his super-hero! That so rocks.

Two Tune Tuesday: The Damned

In honor of them playing in NYC last week, when I *wasn’t there dammit* here’s some tunes from The Damned, who threaten retirement every couple of years. I’ve seen at least two Farewell tours, maybe a decade apart, at places like The Ritz, The (New) Ritz (or the former Studio 54, depending on how you look at it), Coney Island High, Irving Plaza. Oy. Yes, I am missing NYC pretty hardcore these days.

Get a playlist!

Betty was not a big fan, having been introduced to them when they were doing kitschy goth things like

  1. “Grimly Fiendish” (which dammit I love anyway), but I took her to see them live & she was, alas, converted. What I think she said was, “goddamn they’re the loudest band ever.”
  2. “New Rose” was the first punk single. They beat everyone, including the Pistols, to that one.
  3. “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” is very Captain Sensible: stupid and funny and fun to sing along. Uhhuh.
  4. “Smash It Up Pts 1 & 2” is in the canon of great punk rock theme songs.
  5. “Anti-Pope” is well, perfect, & was especially for a good Catholic girl with a lot of anger.
  6. “Generals” is from the Strawberries album, which came in bright red vinyl. It’s a pretty record, & a good one. Dave Vanians’s Interview with the Vampire tribute is on that one, too. These last two are a bit of the politics I imbibed with the tunes.

Air America Interview

Welcome to any listeners from Air America who are popping over here after my interview on Nicole Sandler’s show. Here’s a link to the article by Jenny Boylan from the NYT.

I’d like to reiterate that the trans community, for the most part, is very, very invested in making sure same sex marriage becomes legal everywhere. For couples like us, & other (trans) couples unlike us, it would bring a huge collective sigh of relief.

Recent Interview

While I was in Milwaukee, I did an interview for a local paper and entirely forgot to mention it. It’s a little more recent then a million others I’ve done, so it might answer some questions about what the hell I’m doing in WI & other mysteries of life. (I especially love the bit about how my “writing exudes a Midwestern no-nonsense practicality.”)

Moms Like Hir

Nice interview with a genderqueer mom on Bilerico today.

Ashley Altadonna

When we were in Milwaukee, we were interviewed for a documentary called Making the Cut. I’m told Julia Serano was, too, when she was there recently as well. The film is being made by a young woman who is trying various ways to raise funds for her own genital surgery, and is in the process raising awareness about the financial issues behind changing genders legally.

Worthy project, no? On top of that, she’s made some other cool films. To help her out, you can make a donation via PayPal via her website, or you can buy another cool short film of hers, or you can pass this message on via Facebook or other social networking sites.

Details: Stu Rasmussen

Details magazine did an interview with and profile on Stu Rasmussen, who they’re calling America’s 1st Trangender Mayor.

Anyone know if that’s actually true?

Local Issue

Within a few weeks of me arriving in Appleton, a transgender person named Sierra Broussard filed a lawsuit against a local club for not allowing her in. They checked her ID which still has an M & didn’t let her in. The Post Crescent, the local paper, covered the story.

There were so many comments left on that story that they wrote another story about the lawsuit for Sunday’s paper. The reporter asked for people who were willing to be interviewed, and me and Lynne volunteered.

I wanted to thank Cheryl Anderson, the journalist on the story, for getting across what I had to say. Sadly, however, she called Betty “he.” Unfortunately for Betty, there is enough evidence for me using “he” – from when she had a multi-gendered identity – that I can understand how that happens, even if I said “she” and “partner” throughout the interview. Of course if she met Betty that “he” would never seem appropriate.

I don’t know Ms. Broussard personally, but I do know that the whole “it” thing is unacceptable (as Lynne says in the interview) and that a person who lives as female 24/7 should use the ladies’ room. The legal hocus pocus is what people don’t necessarily understand: that a penis is not really a penis once it’s been on estrogen for even a few months; that genital surgery is not covered by health insurance *and* that it’s very expensive, and to plenty of people it’s just unnecessary surgery – and who wants to have surgery that they don’t have to have? That’s what I meant by education & tolerance; that maybe the average Joe doesn’t know all that’s involved, and that if they knew more, they might not be so quick to criticize the decision not to have genital surgery.

The problem is the legal requirement for genital surgery to change a gender marker on an ID. We have to come up with another way for trans people to change that, because surgery is a ridiculous requirement.


The NYT did an article about the Oaxacan tradition of recognizing male-bodied people who grow up to live and fulfill a female role. What’s interesting to me is that a few people on our boards objected to the one time that one of the muxe was referred to as “he,” which started an interesting conversation about cultural imperialism, effectively.

  • That is, can we tell a mother of a muxe that she is wrong for using the “he” pronoun for her child?
  • Do we know that a muxe would find that problematic?
  • Do we even know that someone muxe would identify as what we think of as trans?

I don’t think we can know any of that, but I do know that I’ve had enough people tell me I can’t call Betty my husband to object to anyone saying they know for sure what pronouns to use. An interview with a muxe that appeared in a gay magazine of Argentina (English translation) helps explain: he uses he for himself but does explain he doesn’t speak for all muxe, too.

Interestingly, perhaps, someone at the LGBT Blogger event asked me & Autumn about all the “correct” language issues within the trans, & we both kind of rolled our eyes. She points them to GLAAD’s usage guidelines, & I said he’d never make every trans person happy but to ask the person, if possible, or to ask others who might know. (I also mentioned that being upfront about feeling ignorant was entirely acceptable, & might defuse a lot of tempers.)

We didn’t quite come to a conclusion, but one of our frequent posters ended on this note:

“Trying to overlay one’s cultural understanding, whether consciously or not, over those of another is risky at best.”

Which is an excellent rule of thumb.

Giving Thanks

A guy who couldn’t read & write, and whose teachers made him “feel small,” carves tiny sculptures that can fit in the eye of a needle.

There is something so lovely about that.

I’m giving thanks this year for people like him, whose creativity and persistent humanity remind me that there are so many interesting ways to respond to bad shit, & they can be life-affirming acts of beauty.

& I’m giving thanks for Barack Obama, like so many others, because I am continually reminded of his decency, his pragmatism, & his big big brain every time he speaks or grants an interview.

Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow Americans.

Review: She’s a Boy I Knew

A friend of a friend in Lincoln, Nebraska got to see the documentary She’s a Boy I Knew which I’d heard good things about, so I asked her to write a review.

by Dr. Pat. Tetreault

She’s A Boy I Knew is a remarkably well-made film. It is honest, funny, poignant and real. Canadian Gwen Haworth narrates and directs the documentary about her life, her coming out process regarding her gender and sexuality, and how her transition to become the woman she is meant to be impacts her life as well as the lives of those she loves and who love her. Through the use of home videos and interviews with family members and friends, including her ex-wife, Gwen reveals the depth and range of emotion and the process involved in coming out and in transitioning. Brief animated segments are also included to lighten the film while providing background information. Continue reading “Review: She’s a Boy I Knew”

Musical Salve

A group of musicians from all over the world got to play together for a documentary about the unifying beauty of music. Bill Moyers interviews the director and shows a clip from the film. Gorgeous stuff. Like a salve after the bitterness of this election cycle.

LGBT People in Wasilla

Those books Palin was asking about having removed? Books about gays for children. Why am I not surprised?

Interviews with LGBT Alaskans in Wasilla, who talk about how Palin was very much involved with churches who made anti-gay sentiment a political stand, and who condone ex-gay therapies. Very, very important viewing, especially after Palin let it slide in the debate that she is for same-sex marriage rights (even if she doesn’t call it marriage).

Trans Finances

Nina Smith over at Queercents is doing a series on ‘Transgender Finances’ – covering issues like Social Security, marriage, etc. She has already interviewed me, James Green, Jenny Boylan, Jay Sennett and a few other trans people & allies. This series is a great, cool idea, & I’m glad to see someone’s doing it. Thanks, Nina!


The thing about being away is that you miss a lot of important news, like Ike and poor Gilchrist, TX; or the fact that Palin dropped 10 approval points over the weekend, or, most sadly, that novelist David Foster Wallace committed suicide this past weekend.

I was never a huge fan of his work, with the exception of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and of course – like every other writer alive – I was jealous of how much attention he got. The first piece I read by him was in Harper’s, and it was about cruises, and I found the endless footnoting drove me nuts, BUT – and this is a big but – his style broke through certain dull trends in novel-writing that I couldn’t bear even more. Every once in a while someone tells me that they think the footnotes of She’s Not the Man I Married is the best part of the book, and I’ve always described them jokingly as my attempt at being the David Foster Wallace of the gender set.

I’m stunned, about as stunned when I learned that another master & experimental stylist, Spalding Gray, also committed suicide. It’s a worry for people like me – prone to depression, only happy – you might even say alive – when writing. I have an old writer friend who used to ask me all the time, when we were taking writing workshops at CCNY together, whether I would choose writing or happiness, if I chose one or the other. I always said happiness.

& David Foster Wallace reminded me tonight why.

RIP, and the deepest condolences to his wife and sister.

Now on DVD

GenderVision, who are Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie formerly of GenderTalk, did an interview with us in November 2007. Two parts of it you can watch online, but then there’s other conversations we had, with both of them, that you can only get by buying the DVD. I got mine today, and it’s nice to see professional packaging. We don’t make any money from it, but they do good work up there, so do support them. It’d make a good DVD to pass around within a support group, or to watch bits of at a meeting, even.

Tell them Helen sent you!