Sheila Take a Ban

Radfem Sheila Jeffreys has been barred from speaking at RadFem 2012, a radical feminist conference in the UK.

She complained about it to the Guardian.

She is writing a book on the hurt caused by transgenderism. You can read about it here, but here’s the blurb:

“Transgender describes those who seek recognition as the opposite sex or gender on a long-term basis. The idea and practice of transgenderism now affects legal systems, schoolteachers, parents, wives and partners, and the politics of gender in profound ways.  Gender Hurts examines the wider social and political context and implications of the phenomenon of transgenderism. Jeffreys and Gottschalk propose that gender in western culture is socially constructed as the basis of male domination and that the concept of gender has the potential to hurt many. They argue that in transgenderism the hurt can take several forms; psychologically, physically and socially. This book explore how the phenomenon is affecting people’s lives from exploring the implications for the children and adults who are diagnosed as having gender identity disorder, to the survivors’ movement who claim to have been misdiagnosed, and the impact on the partners of transgenders.  This controversial book is a must read for all students and scholars of the politics of sexuality, women’s studies, gender studies, queer studies, transgender studies and cultural studies courses.”

Same hateful bullshit.

If anyone said the same stuff about women that radfems say about trans people, it would be called sexism. It is sad to see the amazing potential and significant contributions of radical feminism becoming mired in anti trans rhetoric and now research.

If you’d like some interesting historical contrast, Stephen Whittle’s piece “Where Did We Go Wrong?” discusses how his transition was accepted and even encouraged by the radical feminist group he belonged to at the time, but which changed with the publication of Raymond’s Transsexual Empire in 1979. So there is prior, pro trans radical feminism out there to build on, even if it’s 37 years old.

Kate Bornstein’s Unusual Journey

It is with absolute pleasure that I get to kick off the blog tour for Kate Bornstein’s new book A Queer and Pleasant Danger because, well, she’s Kate, for starters, and the grand dame of the radical trans set.

Besides, who else could subtitle a book The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves 12 Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today?

We were lucky enough to have Kate read us a chapter – the one on her expulsion from Scientology – a few years ago on a drive from Appleton, WI – where I’d convinced her to come speak at Lawrence University – to the big queer midwest college conference in Madison, WI, where she was the keynote speaker. Sometimes it’s striking what kinds of things you remember, things that maybe no one else would, but anyone – anyone and their favorite aunt – would definitely remember eating Taco Bell with Kate Bornstein in a car on a Wisconsin interstate while she reads to you from her as-yet-unpublished memoir.

I think anyone who reads this will remember it much the same way: you’ll remember imagining who she was then because it will make you aware of who you are now & who you have been in a way that the immediacy of any pop song couldn’t.

The Village Voice did an amazing write up, so I won’t go into every detail of this wonderful book, but I can say: it crackles with Kate-ness, which I now think of as a state of being more than anything else, a kind of awesome mix of camp, integrity, ego and empathy. Just do go out & get one and read it.


Treated Like a Woman (Or a Young Black Man)

My friend Lena pointed out this short article on Think Progress by Alyssa Rosenberg about the return of D’Angelo to me, which talks about how D’Angelo was undone by the pressure to strip – and maintain an exacting and desired physique for his fans – and Rosenberg talks about how he was, effectively, treated like a woman.

Which, well of course: women have to be beautiful to be considered talented, but if beautiful have to work against type to be considered smart, or artistic.

Yet there is this long, long history of treating young black men as a stereotype too, of the young black buck: known for their bodies, and brawn; assumed to be hung, sexually provocative and yet also sexually and physically objectified. In a culture where well hung or athletic or both is often also assumed to mean small brained, or non/anti-intellectual, young black men are up against a lot of stereotypes women are up against as well. Both too are demonized for their apparent sexuality: women for having any, and black men for having their assumed and expected expertise “threaten” white men’s power and self-image.

So in a sense he wasn’t treated like a woman at all; he was treated as many young black men are treated, and have been: expected to be nothing more than their physical, sexualized, and objectified bodies.


At age 43, I have been officially licensed by the state of Wisconsin to drive a car.

Everyone is full of happiness and congratulations for me, promising me new freedoms and – new freedoms. That I can’t even imagine how much life has changed. Etc.

I suspect that will all be true once I get used to the idea; maybe no one will ever see me again as I drive my way around the world.

But what I do know is that I have now increased my carbon footprint – which I’d already done once simply by moving to the midwest from NYC, and which I offset by becoming an ‘eat lower on the food chain atarian‘ (which means vegetarian, except on holidays or other rare occasions when I feel like eating meat) – and now I have to come up with some other way to decrease my very American impact on the environment. If you have any ideas, let me know. We already keep a largely non-toxic home, use very little electricity, and walk to work.

Being a non-driver did allow me to meet & get to know some people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know; some of you, at least, have heard the story of the lovely ride I took with two musician friends out to a gig on a cold Wisconsin night, through some beautiful, serene farmland, which gave me the idea, at least, that I might find a way to fit in socially here, at long last. The idea didn’t become much of a reality, but still, it was a cold drive that warmed my heart some, and will probably remain one of my best memories of my time in Wisconsin.

Being a driver makes me feel a little less a NYer, and a lot more of an American; a little less individual, and a lot more like everyone else, which is not, exactly, the most comfortable place in the world for me.

Still, it means I can drive myself to physical therapy, which will mean in turn, I hope, that I will be able to get back on my bicycle.

And you know, get my dry cleaning done without having to bug my already too busy spouse.

Change is good, they say. Change is, rather. And this is a big one.


Sports Illustrated on Trans Athletes

I have to say that this is kind of amazing: Sports Illustrated has taken on the topic of trans athletes.

For transgender men and women, the physiological traits that distinguish them as male or female don’t conform to how they feel about themselves. Some have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy to make their biological and gender identities match. Others, such as the 28-year-old Godsey, have not: He was born as a female and therefore competes as a female, but he identifies as male. Imagine a body, especially one as finely tuned as an elite athlete’s, feeling inescapably foreign—as if it were intended for the opposite sex. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have a good amount of muscle mass, and I’ve done it naturally,” says Godsey. “But in some ways, this is the last body I would ever want.”

. . .

Consider something as simple as going to the bathroom. When using men’s rooms—his preference—Godsey usually tries to conceal his chest; in women’s rooms he accentuates it by wearing what he calls tight “girl shirts.” Still, he has been escorted out of an airport ladies’ room by security, interrogated at restaurants and once had to flee a group of snarling men at a truck-stop bathroom in Nebraska.

The world is a-changing. Maybe not fast enough, but faster than I expected.


There are so few articles about sissies; there really should be more. But Brianna Austin gives us a little bit of a rundown:

The sissy, however, doesn’t see himself as a women; in fact he is firmly rooted in the reality that he is not a women, nor can he every truly become one, but no longer a man either. In many instances the sissy sees women as the superior species, and is happy to simply elevate themselves to their highest possible feminine representation of female.

To that end, the sissy acts and dresses as frilly and feminine as possible, but never in a mainstream way. They love ruffles, satin, and lace in yellow, white and pink, anything that accentuates femininity – usually garters & stockings, high heels, and costumes.  But it can also include baby girl and little girl attire and actions as well.

Their goal is not to assimilate; thus the frills are both an adoration of feminism, and a reminder that they’re merely emulating that which they can never actually be.

It is then no surprise that most sissies are usually submissive in nature, a soft demeanor that earns to serve.  Often when you come upon social profiles of sissies, they are seeking a “strong master or mistress” to train them. This is yet another way of saying, “bring out the girl in me and suppress the male … PLEASE!”

Is being a sissy then really about being and looking feminine, or is it really – at the root – about power, the lack of, and/or exchange of it?

I’m fond of them myself, as is Dan Savage. As I’ve often said, some of the strongest, bravest people I’ve met are sissies, and yes, this is for you PettiPie. 🙂


Senior Banquet

Tonight’s the night at Lawrence when graduating seniors get dressed up & invited faculty and staff get dressed up and we all go for drinks and then for dinner and then for speechifying and then for more drinking. I have lucky enough to be invited three years running, and it is always a blast.

So congrats, seniors! More advice later, but for now: make sure you drink a lot of glasses of water while you’re drinking a lot of glasses of everything else.