New Children’s Book: When Kathy is Keith

The author of When Kathy is Keith, in a phone interview with out of Vancouver, says:

“A lot of times, parents with straight kids, they think like, ‘You know what? That would never happen to my kid so why would my kid need to learn something like this?’ And I think the key is your kid doesn’t need to be LGBT. As long as your kid is perceived with any trait associated with LGBT, they can be bullied. They can be made fun of. Your kids can be a victim of any of that.”

He adds that parents of transgender children go through a difficult emotional process of their own.

“Parents, they have to go through different stages themselves,” he explains. “In the beginning, they tend to deny it. They hope their kids will grow out of it. They are having a tough time. They have to grieve over losing a son or a daughter and welcoming a new gender of a child. And I think that’s a process. It’s not easy for any parent to accept that because no parent has a kid and then think that this kid may be a transgender kid…. It’s tough… [when you have] a dream for your kid and all of a sudden that dream vanishes, and you have to recreate a dream for your kid[’s] future, and at the same time, knowing that society is not so tolerant out there. And I think that is very tough [for] a lot of parents to accept that.”

He advises parents who have transgender children to talk as much as possible with other people about these issues.

“I really think that [they should] talk to people about it, talk to other parents about it. And don’t just talk to one person. I would talk to multiple people. Talk to the school principal, talk to the counsellors, talk to the professional psychologists or social workers…even family doctor[s], so they can know there are people like this out there, they are not alone, and they can get help.”

Good advice all around.

Bad Advice to Trans Student?

The mom of a trans young adult wrote to Cary Tennis of Salon’s “Since You Asked” column because her daughter is

away at college and underachieving in a major way. She says that she can’t motivate herself to attend her less-than-full load of classes, can’t think of what she wants to do with herself, even in a short-term way.

The mom clarifies that the family has been supportive of her transition, etc.

Cary responds with: do nothing. Really? Her parents are paying for college and she’s doing so little she may fail all her classes and the advice columnest says “do nothing”? I think that’s ridiculous, but I’m not a parent.

I’d have her withdraw and get a job, pay her own rent for a while, & then when she was ready for someone to spend a ton of money on her education, I’d send her back to college.

As far as I can tell, this doesn’t have much to do with her daughter being trans, except that the mother seems to think that’s an important piece of information. It may be, but it may not have anything to do with it.

“100% Trans Jews”

The band’s name is Schmekel and they play klezmer-core punk. Oh yes. If they’re playing any gigs while I’m in NYC I will be at one.

The music itself merges traditional klezmer scales and rhythms with the aggressive energy of early gay punk bands like Pansy Division.

If the musical satirist Tom Lehrer were to write a hard-core anthem about sex reassignment surgery, with a driving guitar lick, a “Hava Nagila” breakdown and a keyboard line lifted from Super Mario Brothers, it might approximate the Schmekel sound.

Schmekel means “little penis” in Yiddish. And people wonder why I like hanging out with trans guys.


Here’s a short list of the topics my students researched for papers this term:

  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Intersex activism
  • Justin Bieber’s gender
  • David Reimer, or the John/Joan case
  • The invention of heterosexuality
  • Korean pop band f(x)
  • Kyle Alums and gender in college sports
  • Genderqueer identities
  • Femininity in male-bodied people
  • African trans identities/activism
  • De-homosexualized femme identities
  • Tribe 8’s “Femme Bitch Top”
  • Pete Burns’ gender
  • Barsexuals
  • Feminism and femme activism
  • GIDC

It makes grading a lot easier, that’s for sure.


I am thankful for happiness, whenever and wherever I find it. Today I woke up in a good mood and suspect I had good dreams I can’t remember. I am thankful to sleep with someone who loves me, to have a view of the river, a short walk to work, and that I have found both meaning and purpose working with a community I love.

I am thankful to have known my father for 42 years, and Aeneas for 11. I am thankful, even, for the loss of them both because they’ve reminded me that time speeds by too quickly, and that the small joys of taking care of and being taken care of are what it’s all about.

I am thankful for #OWS and the Occupy movements around the world, and for the people standing in the cold collecting signatures on petitions to recall WI Governor Scott Walker. I’m thankful to live in an ailing but still viable democracy.

I am thankful that my only food concern is making sure I don’t eat too much of the stuff.

I am thankful for daily opportunities to read, listen to music, and learn new things.

I am thankful that – despite distance of various kinds – I have found both solace and joy in conversation and companionship with friends new & old.

I am thankful that someone invented Zyrtec, which in turn makes it possible for me to go out on my bike and enjoy the big skies and quiet roads of Wisconsin.

I am thankful for a body that works well most of the time, the skin I live in, and a sexuality that unites my mind and body. I am thankful to live in a time and place where my body and my sexuality are mine to self-determine. I am thankful to all of those who work to free all of us from shame, trauma, and violence.

Mostly I am thankful for the kind of life that gives me time to look around and think, to write and ponder and feel. I am thankful that my complaints are mostly bourgeois, that my love and friendship is usually returned by those I love and befriend, and that I can still feel a sense of wonder, beauty and joy despite my natural Taoist tilt.

Happy Thanksgiving: give thanks, give love, and do your art.

Pepper Spray

It turns out the pepper Spray Pike used is on Amazon, and people have been reviewing the product. There is some really good political satire in there:

1.0 out of 5 stars Product Warnng: This product multiplies protesters
I casually used this product to try to disperse a small band of non-violent campers who had locked their arms together. Although initially it seemed to be effective, it took two applications! The worst part is that the next day they multiplied exponentially! Now what?

One positive outcome, I did receive a paid vacation for my efforts.

There is a tumblr, of course, that is gathering all the images of Lt. John Pike pepper spraying his way through history, art, and movies, although my two favories are the Wheres John Pike? and of course, honey badger:










= When memes collide.





Reader Letter

There’s a very nice letter from a reader of Insight Into Diversity about the article on transgender people in employment that was in last month’s issue. She writes:

Hundreds of the top employers in our country don’t think so (IBM, Xerox, Apple, Starbucks, universities, city and county governments, to name just a few). Thanks to education, activism, and the medical profession the reality is that many employers are now supporting transgender workers in ways never seen before. They do this because it makes business sense to retain talented and very loyal employees. They have effectively integrated transgender employees into their workforces by developing trans-friendly policies, insurance coverage providing for trans-health related services including surgeries, and have begun working hard to retain their talented employees and managers. Speaking of policies, I differ from the author on a small but important point: Most employers realize that requiring transgender employees to use specific bathrooms is not inclusion, so their employees use the bathroom appropriate to their expressed gender.

I’m even more pleased to have been a part of it.

Best Trans Books

Oh gosh. Someone’s gone & called me straight again, but never mind: She’s Not the Man I Married was featured in The Advocate’s list of the best trans books.

She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband($15, Seal)
Helen Boyd’s first memoir, My Husband Betty, introduced the world to her and her cross-dressing husband and her own concerns about whether the man she married is a cross-dresser or a transgender woman just waiting to transition. In She’s Not the Man, the funny, sometimes infuriating follow up, Boyd deftly explores the role of gender in her own marriage and culture at large and gives us a thinking straight girl’s treatise on the complex world of gender identity.

Plenty of other favorites of mine are also on the list: Kailey’s Just Add Hormones, Green’s Becoming a Visible Man, and Califia’s Sex Changes.

For a list of books on trans subjects I recommend, I’ve got a whole pile of reviews from over the years (which needs updating, but still, the books mentioned covered a great many aspects of transgender life).