Happy New Year

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… so was 2007 for the trans community, what with ENDA. Jacob Anderson-Minshall did a wrap-up of the year for The San Francisco Bay Times.

I’m looking forward to a long break from being quite so public; book tours are great fun, enabling you to meet tons of people who you wouldn’t normally meet, but they’re also exhausting because of all the travel. I’ll pass the torch to Jennifer Finney Boylan, whose new book I’m Looking Through You, comes out 1/15. (Jenny’s website was created by Betty.)

I’ll be traveling to Wisconsin to teach Gender Studies – and a course in Transgender Lives – at Lawrence University, while Betty stays in Brooklyn. This will be the first time in our decade together that we’ll have been separated for so long, but she is driving me there, probably visiting in February, and then coming to gather me again at the end of March. But I’m sure we’ll manage, but to answer the forthcoming questions: there is no reason for our separation other than employment.

All best to you all in 2008.

Good Riddance, 2007 – #21

Most Subtle Sexist Advertising:

Prefer-On, the bogus medicine to get rid of scars, has a woman applying the product where most women get stretch marks from pregancy, while the voiceover refers to “embarassing scars.”

(If men gave birth, there’d be awards for whose stretch marks were the largest & most noticeable, celebrating the effort & physical sacrifice it takes to carry & birth a child.)


I realized the other day that the reason it drives me crazy to have clothes of various sizes around – because of weight gain/loss – is because it’s new to me. Throughout my 20s I was around the same size – or rather, I didn’t change sizes, but always had some clothes that were tighter or looser, depending on the cut of the clothes or how much I was working out, but everything fit. That’s another way of saying, I suppose, that my weight range was probably within 10 lbs., not 25 as it is now.

So for those of you who have dealt with this before – and I know some of you have dealt with it all your lives – what do you do? When you’re dealing with a variation of three goddamn sizes, 2/3 of the clothes you own don’t fit at any given time. Is this why women say ‘fuck it’ & just go with their largest size? Or does that lead to still larger sizes? Do you actually get rid of the smaller-sized clothes, knowing they’ll most likely be out of fashion by the time you lose the weight anyway? Please, folks, advice. I’m tired of digging through 800 articles of clothing to find the stuff that fits me right now.

& I know: the best answer would be to lose the weight. But having taken off & then put back on 25 lbs. last year, I’m not feeling horribly optimistic about the prospects just now and I still need to get dressed every day.

Winter Sleep

To round out the year, our big Endymion sleeping contentedly on one of my favorite sweaters. Endymion has long been a fool for sweaters; one of Betty’s can’t be worn anymore because Endymion made it his bed for so long, and stretched out parts of it with his kneading.

In the Water

I went to high school with that one woman on Nancy Grace, Susan Moss.

& Her older brother really is named Pete. (Explains a lot, I think.)

I also went to high school with the actress Diane Farr, who pops up on tv shows here & again.

That said, I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly Ordinary Joes I went to high school with who have never been on TV.

Boxing Day

The British class system seems sometimes so forthrightly condescending, and today is the day when it all comes together. Boxing Day, as it’s celebrated in the U.K. as well in various places the Empire once governed (though of course not here in the U.S.), is the day when the upper classes give the lower classes – that’s the servants – the day off.

That said, I used to work in my sister’s bakery, where the day after a major holiday was a day of sleep, if it was Boxing Day or July 5th or June 1st. So, working classes & huddled masses, sleep in today, and let the rich folks take out their own garbage.

A Very Merry

To all those who celebrate Christmas, have a lovely day with family, or friends, or pets, or all of the above. We’ll be spending the day at my sister’s, with some close friends of theirs, but of course spent Christmas Eve together, at home, since that was when Betty’s family traditionally celebrated the holiday.

& Of course, don’t drink & drive.

Visions of Sugarplums

For those of you with cats, isn’t wrapping presents a whole new frontier with them around? Endymion is about as helpful as helpful isn’t, since he has to know about the scissors and the tape and usually has to at least sit on the sheet of rolled paper I’ve pulled out to wrap a package. I’ve noticed my tape isn’t as sticky as it used to be, since there’s usually at least a little fur on it once Endymion has done his round of inspections.

I hope all of your packages are wrapped, with no injuries, & that you had enough of everything without a late night run to the store.

The Uses of ‘Pretty’ – Part II

A long time ago, I wrote a piece about “pretty” that eventually became a section of She’s Not the Man I Married that in turn, our resident board moderator Donna recently referred to when recounting a moment where she looked in the mirror and actually saw herself as pretty.

What made me think about it – and my reputation of being Helen “pretty is a mug’s game” Boyd – was seeing an episode of What Not To Wear which featured a nurse from Arizona who wore her scrubs and sweats everywhere & anywhere. They even had to do affirmations with her, like “I’m beautiful and I want to share my beauty with the world” which the woman couldn’t say without getting teared up. But by the end, she had transformed: it was obvious she felt not just pretty but confident.

& What I’ve been thinking about is that it’s a whole different thing to experience yourself as pretty – in a positive way – than to be told you’re pretty when that’s not wanted. The woman on the show was so obviously floored by actually feeling pretty that I was struck by what she was experiencing in feeling pretty, and so I was struck too by the times feeling pretty meant something good to me.

& It still can, of course.

Growing up as me meant when I was smoking a cigarette near the subway, five men would go by & say “you’re too pretty to smoke” or “you’re too pretty not to be smiling” or “you’re too pretty to have a mohawk.” etc. It was all kind of – the only word that comes to mind is <<interdit>> – about what I couldn’t & shouldn’t do because I was “pretty.”

Looks can become the only thing that women think is important and/or valuable about them, too, & even the pretty ones often discount so many other good things about themselves when they’re not feeling pretty enough. Not buying into pretty was a good way for me, at least, to break through a lot of the gendered boxes I might have been trapped in otherwise. When you feel like you’re not pretty enough to go outside without makeup, & men do every single day, there’s something wrong that needs to be – well, accounted for.

I don’t necessarily love the cattiness of shows like this, but I also know how it can feel to put on something & just feel good – even pretty! – when you’ve otherwise been feeling grungy / dumpy / inept. It’s another case where I think my experience being raised female might be quite different from the way a trans woman might relate to the same issue – that is, an acknowledgement of difference & not cause for hierarchy – because trans women grow up being told you can’t be pretty, you won’t be pretty, and you’re not allowed to be pretty, which is quite different indeed from being told you can be pretty but you can’t be anything else. But all of us, I think, in this lookist culture, have to step back from the shitty feelings of self-doubt – and even the euphoric feelings pretty can bring – and pay attention to pretty being a lot more valuable when it’s something you feel, not something you are (or aren’t).