For Milwaukee

We had a great time in Milwaukee this past weekend: a gathering of LGBT people on Saturday night, a sex workshop at The Tool Shed on Sunday, and then a workshop on gender variance Monday afternoon followed by a 7PM lecture about queer heterosexuals.

I did meet a bunch of people who asked me about various resources I mentioned in passing, so here goes:

& I think that’s it. If I’ve failed to mention anything I said I would post to here, feel free to email me about it or remind me in the comments section.

Us in Milwaukee This Weekend!

What we’ll be up to:

So do come to whatever you can if you’re in the Milwaukee area, & do spread the word. All the links are to Facebook pages, since that’s how the kids are doing it these days.

We’re Gonna Make It!

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I’m going to Milwaukee for the first time, & for me, Milwaukee is always going to be Laverne & Shirley’s city.

What I’ll be up to:

So do come to whatever you can if you’re in the Milwaukee area, & do spread the word. All the links are to Facebook pages, since that’s how the kids are doing it these days.

Last OC Column, or That Was Quick

Easy come, easy go: I got word last week that is no longer, or will soon be no longer, or will no longer be updated, or something like that. So no, I wasn’t fired; everyone was.

So here’s the last column I wrote for them. It went up today, as planned, but there will be no more to follow.

(If anyone knows of a magazine that needs a queer relationships columnist, you know where to find me!)

Continue reading “Last OC Column, or That Was Quick”

Guest Author : Mercedes Allen

(crossposted in several places, and people are welcome to forward this on freely to others in the transgender and GLBT communities, as I see this as being very serious — Mercedes)

A short time ago, I’d discussed the movement to have “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID, a.k.a. “Gender Dysphoria”) removed from the DSM-IV or reclassified, and how we needed to work to ensure that any such change was an improvement on the existing model, rather than a scrapping or savaging of it.

Lynn Conway reports that on May 1st, 2008, the American Psychiatric Association named its work group members appointed to revise the Manual for Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in preparation for the DSM-V. Such a revision would include the entry for GID.

On the Task Force, named as Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Chair, we find Dr. Kenneth Zucker, from Toronto’s infamous Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute). Dr. Zucker is infamous for utilizing reparative (i.e. “ex-gay”) therapy to “cure” gender-variant children. Named to his work group, we find Zucker’s mentor, Dr. Ray Blanchard, Head of Clinical Sexology Services at CAMH and creator of the theory of autogynephilia, categorized as a paraphilia and defined as “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”

Continue reading “Guest Author : Mercedes Allen”

On ENDA, on National Coming Out Day

This is the text of the talk I gave in Denver on Tuesday. It probably won’t surprise anyone that I’ve been busting at the seams wanting to have a say in all of the dialogue going on about ENDA. At least I don’t think it should surprise anyone, not by now.


First, let me thank Ed and Jordan and all the students who asked them to bring me here. It’s a pleasure to be here in celebration of National Coming Out Day, a pleasure to see all of you gathered, celebrating who you are. Thanks to all the crossdressers, the gays, the lesbians, the genderqueers, the trans men & women, MTF and FTM, & to their partners. Thanks to all of you who are family, or friends, or allies, for being here.

Betty and I have been on tour a lot this year because I had a book published in March, and we’ve gotten a chance, once again, to meet a lot of people and to talk to a lot of trans people and partners, and this year, we’ve met more gay and lesbian people who aren’t trans than we did before. And it’s been a pleasure all around in hearing people’s stories of their own gender variance, or the stories of how they came out to loved ones, or of their first big crush or the moment when they realized they were trans or gay or lesbian or how they came to understand the first identity they understood themselves to be was not quite accurate in the long run. What I love to hear the most is about how queer people find one identity fits for a while and then not at all; like Oliver Wendell Holmes’ chambered nautilus, queer people build themselves bigger chambers, bigger categories, labels that are not so confining, over time.

That’s how it’s been for us, certainly. By the time people get used to what we’re calling ourselves our identities have shifted a little, changed usually by experiences we never expected and wouldn’t trade for anything. Continue reading “On ENDA, on National Coming Out Day”

The Importance of Being Earnest, or Accurate, or Both

A reviewer recently misquoted me as having written that I was called a “dyke” when I was a kid, when in fact the word I used was “butch.”

That mistake, while minor on the surface, has got me thinking.

The difference between the words is that essential difference between sexual orientation and gender presentation, which are often conflated in the first place, but which I tried to dissect in She’s Not the Man I Married. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t issues like this that cause some of the rift between the gay/lesbian community and the trans community; I’d imagine, for many masculine-leaning lesbians, “butch” and “dyke” are pretty much the same slur. But the thing is, “butch” bothered me – because it was true. I was butch. Being called a dyke never had the same effect, exactly because I knew myself to be heterosexual.

Of course reading that kind of error made me wonder about how much the critic could have actually gotten out of my book, or how much she might have been willing to get out of it. I’m fascinated by the ways gender variance is allocated to gay & lesbian people but not to heterosexuals; it’s a big theme of the book. For someone for whom the words “dyke” and “butch” are the same thing, I must seem like I’m splitting hairs. But the review, alas, did end:

(I)t’s an earnest book that might appeal to those questioning the nature of gender identity, marriage, and social attitudes about both.

& I did learn, quite a long time ago, the vital importance of being earnest.

Princess Amygdala

How do we know with transness that there isn’t just something in the brain that’s mistaken? I don’t mean that in a bad way. I say that from the position of someone whose body was gender variant due to a hormone imbalance. When I see people’s before/after photos, I see FTMs who are physically quite feminine (i.e., normatively physically gendered), with no excess body hair, few large jaws or big hands, who get regular periods, etc. Likewise with MTFs: pre transition can be quite masculine, with very male skeletal structures, musculatures, a lot of body hair. I see such externally “gender normative” bodies I’m even jealous, though of course there are trans people whose bodies are gender variant, in various ways, too, who have ovaries or testicles that don’t function right, or make too much of the “wrong” hormone, etc.

It’d certainly be simpler if trans people all had physical evidence of their gender variance but obviously that’s not the case. All people who have physically gender variant bodies due to hormone imbalance are not trans, either, of course. But when I read that a lot of FTMs have PCOS like me, that makes perfect sense. Or when MTFs have gynecomastia or no body hair. Continue reading “Princess Amygdala”

Shapes, Not Lines

The question of whether or not gender is on a continuum or not comes up an awful lot in trans conversation, and I’ve always been of the opinion that it does. Others don’t necessarily agree.

But for me, having been a masculine woman in straight culture (which does not recognize masculine genders in women in other than pathologizing ways) & in lesbian culture (which recognizes quite a few masculine genders expressed by women), I’d say that the points inbetween genders can *absolutely* indicate something meaningful.

It’s an easy idea to dismiss if you live in a world that doesn’t actually recognize any of the points along the spectrum, but once you’ve experienced what it feels like to be taken seriously as whatever form of gender variant you are, to not feel pathologized or having failed at “being” one gender or the other, & in fact are appreciated for existing, that’s a whole different thing entirely.

I would have lost my mind if I hadn’t found lesbian culture at certain times in my life. & Likewise, femme lesbians have been some of the only women who helped me understand & appreciate femininity exactly because of the way they queer it, which in turn lead me to a level of self-acceptance I might not have found otherwise.

When I lecture on the subject of gender variance, I’m usually speaking to a room full of people. I ask them to think of the room we’re all standing in as the gender continuum. The way i postulate it, “gender normatives” are at one end (usually near the exit doors, opposite from where i’m standing, with Masculine to the left of those doors, and Feminine to the right), with the fully androgynous at the other pole (where I’m standing). then I ask people where they would be standing, where they might place the person next to them, etc. because in almost any room i’ve ever been in you get a pretty full range of gender expression, even if we like to pretend otherwise.

The assumption that those of us who like to refer to a “continuum” or “spectrum” of gender are actually referring to a straight line with “man” on one end and “woman” on the other is needlessly binarized to start with. I think of gender much more as a circle, or maybe a triangle, with gender normative on one end & androgynous on the other side, directly across from gender normative masculine & feminine.

Though of course I expect someone to tell me now that it’s very feminine to visualize things in circles or triangles instead of straight lines in the first place.