Why Women Can’t Jump:

In a nutshell, because the International Olympic Committee won’t let them. They ruled on 12/5 not to allow the Women’s Ski Jumping Event from the 2010 Winter Olympics. They’ve cited the paucity of competitors, but other events, with even fewer competitors, have not been cut.

“The recent IOC decision to block women ski jumpers from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics is blatant discrimination and a stunning move that harkens back to the Dark Ages,” according to Deedee Corradini, the former Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah and President of Women’s Ski Jumping USA.

You can can more information at the Women’s Ski Jumping USA site:http://www.wsjusa.com.

Five Questions With… Kate Bornstein

Kate Bornstein is an author, playwright and performance artist. Her latest book, Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws, came out last month. Kate’s published works include the books Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us; My Gender Workbook; and the cyber-romance-action novel, Nearly Roadkill, written with co-author Caitlin Sullivan. Kate’s plays and performance pieces include Strangers in Paradox, Hidden: A Gender, The Opposite Sex Is Neither, Virtually Yours, and y2kate: gender virus 2000. It was both a pleasure and an honor to get to speak with her.

1. I love that you mention in Hello, Cruel World how trans folk are separating themselves into “male” and “female” by using terms like MTF and the like, because I’ve noticed that those of us who are hot for trans folk seem to like the transness, not the ‘target gender’ (or really even the ‘birth gender’) alone. It’s the chaser’s dirty secret. Do you think trans people will start to enjoy being trans, sexually or otherwise?

There are lots of un-named, unclaimed desires that are free from the male/female gender system. Desire for sex with oneself is a sexual orientation in itself, and you can be any gender or no gender in order to have that desire. My former partner felt the most important component for his desire was that his partner be the same gender as him. When he was a woman, he was with women; when he was gender-exploring he was with someone who was also gender-exploring; now that he’s a man he’s with men. I think what you’ve got is an as-yet-un-named sexual orientation: the desire for sex and romance with someone who’s neither male nor female.

Give your desire for transness a name. Then, speak your desire loudly, and proudly and seductively. I think if people hear that, that you’d like them the way they are, they’d be more encouraged to live that place of neither/nor.

As to using terms like MTF/FTM – yeah, I’ve been complaining about that for years. In this new book, I’m just a little less patient about it. It’s amusing and humiliating to admit it, but I still work hard to pass in public. I’m an old fart, and that’s still important to me. Out in the world, I pass to avoid the shame and the danger. But intimately with friends, community, or our lovers? The not-passing is the dance of love. No need for male or female, what luxury!

kate bornstein & betty crow1b. But I seem to upset some transsexual people when I recognize that Betty’s masculinity turns me on – even if it’s in addition to my being turned on by her femininity.

Upset them! When you go beyond either/or, people think you’re a radical, that you’re less safe because you’re less predictable. Speaking or writing down the truth of your desire unlocks the political and moral shackles of desire.

Continue reading “Five Questions With… Kate Bornstein”

Not Barbie, Skipper

Lisa Hix wrote a nice rant about having an A cup for the SF Chronicle in response to hearing a show where a plastic surgeon waxed enthusiastically about implants. She points out that there are in fact health risks (including possibilities of hematoma, infection, deformity, toxic shock syndrome, plus the usual risks of anesthesia, the chance of losing sensation, decreasing the likeliness of breast cancer detection or the inability to nurse) but moreso points out that having an A cup is having a breast, and tires of the kind of talk that somehow equates A cups with not having breasts at all.
As a former A cup, I can tesitfy that you do in fact have breasts when you have A cups. I really enjoyed having A cups. I miss them.
I’ve found my recent re-sizing something to think about. For starters, I’ve been finding it harder to find nice bras now that i’m a D cup, much as I had a hard time finding ones when I was an A cup. The difference is that with a D, you absolutely do not want to compromise on support – in fact, you can’t. But I also had a moment of revelation while reading the beginning of Gerrie Lim’s book about the porn industry, which had more than one reference to pendulous D cups within 10 pages, and so caused me to think, “Huh, who knew? I’ve got pornstar-sized breasts now,” but the idea didn’t thrill me; I took it more like I would someone telling me I had the perfect size foot for shoe fetishists. Basically, I don’t care, because they don’t do me any good. It might have mattered some when I was 25 and single, but I’m not sure I would have cared then, either. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them; I do. But I’d enjoy them more if I could take them off when I want to go to the hardware store or the grocery or to do other errands, all those times when I don’t want to be looked at. Not wanting your breasts stared at by every guy on the streets is exactly why you can’t sacrifice support at this size: if you do, they bounce more, which is not really what you want unless – ba rum bump! – you’re a porn star.
I find myself wearing a sports bra most days now, actually. Mostly I’ve realized that I’m glad I don’t get to choose, since both sizes have pros and cons, and the only real advantage resides in being one of those grow-up dolls that enabled me to change sizes with a quick, full rotation of one arm.

No Sissy Stuff

I was just watching a documentary about Gene Kelly, who my mom always loved & who I came to love watching as well, and they mentioned that in 1958 he did a TV show called Dancing: A Man’s Game which basically showed how the movements and timing of sports were much the same as the movements and timing of dancing.
Interestingly, Kelly wanted to be a Pittsburgh Pirate, and only accidentally (or incidentally) became the dancer and movie star he was.
Still, the documentary asserted that Kelly is the one who re-defined dance to include not only athleticism but a blue-collar masculinity, evidence by his own quote:

I didn’t want to move or act like a rich man. I wanted to dance in a pair of jeans. I wanted to dance like the man in the streets.

Betty did a part a long time ago where he had to leap up on a desk and sing wearing a pair of jeans; his character was a union organizer, and it was the actual musical called The Cradle Will Rock (that the Tim Robbins movie is about). & Yes, it was probably my favorite part he ever did (though in a three-way tie with Algernon and Macheath).

"Man Laws" Ads Force Woman To Hunt Down Ad Execs – Story at 11.

As if Anne Coulter hadn’t pissed me off enough, I ended up seeing coverage of the crap she’s spouting inbetween offensive commericals.
(1) The Tostitos commercial, where three guys are looking out the window eating Tostitos and commenting on the work gang below, and how three guys standing around and one guy working wouldn’t cut it in the corporate world. They pull back the camera to reveal a woman working feverishly on a laptop, who then announces, “I got it” and while the guys are high-fiving, she smiles weakly.
Fucking hysterical.
2) Then there’s the “Man Laws” of Miller Lite, which, I kid you not, has been written up by The New York Times as an attempt to atone for the “catfight” commercial they did a couple of years ago.
Are they shitting me? One of the “Man Laws” is that men only clink bottles toward the bottom, as otherwise their saliva might mix and Burt Reynolds claims that would “qualify as a kiss.” WTF?! How exactly is this supposed to be better than two women wrestling over “tastes great / less filling”?!
I can’t even talk about the “you poke it, you own it” one.
Betty is watching the NBA finals, too, which means I’m going to hear this crap every freaking time a game is on. Did someone say Worst of Both Worlds? Except this is like worst of all worlds, now: Betty en femme, drinking beer, watching sports, while sexist, idiotic commercials play. Woohoo. I’m loving life, really.

The Lack of Category

Something in a couple of not-so-recent threads – one about growing up a tomboy & the other about kids and gender identity – had me thinking about categories, since right now, boys compete against boys and girls against girls, though there are sports where that’s starting to change.
Two thoughts resulted:
1) I wonder what would happen if overnight we had people compete based on 1) build (height, muscle tone), 2) fitness level, and 3) experience in the sport/game. That is, if we got rid of gender altogether.
2) What if right now our real problem is that we don’t have enough categories? I mean, say we split the world up tomorrow by hair color instead of gender, Blondes and Brunettes. It’d force red-haired people to choose, and argue that there should be a third hair color. It’d force someone like me (who has kind of streaky hair) to choose. What if we told the Blondes they had to be delicate, graceful, and nurturing (how I have come to hate that word!) and told the Brunettes they had to be aggressive, powerful, and strong? Would L’Oreal make a fortune? Would there be Blondes trapped in Brunettes’ bodies?
I’m quite serious. Take all the attributes we normally assign to male/masculine or female/feminine people, and apply them to people with one hair color or another.
Sure seems arbitrary, doesn’t it? My guess? The whole men/women thing makes about as much sense.

Women's Skating

I am not big on the Olympics, by any stretch, but Beauty & the Geek isn’t on this week, so Betty & I are catching some of the Women’s Figure Skating, and I have to say that I’m very impressed with these pantsuit/bodystocking outfits. Not because they’re sexy (or not only because they’re sexy) but because I didn’t know that had happened – I thought it was all about the short skirts and booty hang.
I’m pleased to see it. I find them sexier than the dorky skirts – just my opinion – because they really do show off what fantastic, strong, graceful bodies these women have.

Masculinity, Androgyny, and Young Greek Gods

Yesterday Betty met my agent for the first time, and at some point in our conversation – amazingly enough, gender did come up – she mentioned that she not only read Betty as androgynous, but that her reading of his/her androgyny caused her to not know, exactly, how to interact. That is, all the social rules were gone. She is my agent, after all, and likes my work, so for her, this was a good thing; for her, it meant she had to connect with the person, and not her own expectations of who the person was based on his or her gender.
Others, of course, resent not having those kinds of social cues, and get confused and angry. Especially when conflated with sexual desire, or power, or even a tiny black and white world where there are no shades of gray.
Tonight, because it’s gotten hot here in Brooklyn, Betty was walking around for a while in a green Batik sundress of mine. (Note to CDs: babydoll sundresses are not very gendered, and did nothing for Betty’s figure.) A little while later, she gave up on the sundress as well and was walking around naked.
At home, I often flirt with her girl self – whether she’s presenting as female at the moment or not. At some point, she stood in the doorway to talk to me while I was at my computer, and I confess: I had a split-second – a kind of atavist split-second – of noticing what a beautiful man my husband is. I covered it by saying something about her being a girl, but she’d seen it. “When you look at me like that, doll,” she said, “I know what you see.”
What do I see? I see a young man who at age 36 has all the masculine and feminine beauty the Greeks were after. Betty is naturally hairless, naturally svelte, and has a full head of hair that goes wavy in humid weather like this. Go ahead and picture Michelangelo’s David, albeit less muscular, with longer legs. His looks both defy gender and confirm it; his beauty is not the type of masculinity we admire now, in modern 21st Century America, but it is a classic type of beauty, and – dare I say – the kind of beauty that men who love men seem to excel at portraying.
Others who meet him in male mode often remark to me privately that they’d have a difficult time letting go of a man who is so perfectly beautiful. And I admit, it does make it harder. I still go weak in the knees when I see my husband walking around naked; I still go weak in the knees when he’s in women’s underwear and leaning over to apply make-up, too. But in either case, I am responding to physical beauty, the kind that inspires poetry and love songs. And blog entries.
A long time ago I saw a magazine cover with a photo of Johnny Depp on it. A friend and I stopped to ogle and gossip, since we’re both fans. And suddenly it occurred to me: transness had to be real, because my husband looks like Johnny Depp and doesn’t want to. I don’t know anyone else who wouldn’t want to look like Johnny Depp if they could – male, female, or otherwise. (Johnny Depp, of course, also looks good as both male and female, too.)
In some senses, when I see how beautiful my husband is as a man, I really do think that God has a sick sense of humor to put such a beautiful body on a soul with no libido, to put such a beautiful male body on a soul that wants to be female. It’s a double sucker-punch, and it doesn’t make any sense to me – none at all. Add to that Betty’s desire to be my husband – and it becomes some kind of evil triple-play. (Hey, did I just use a sports metaphor? Did someone give me a lobotomy when I wasn’t looking?)
jas headshot
I wish I could bring Betty any kind of comfort or solace in his beautiful self. I wish I could help him feel more at home in a male body. I wish I thought I was a sufficient door prize for not transitioning (but I don’t) and I also wish I didn’t have this feeling that I’m somehow torturing the person I love most in the world.
But all that I’m laying aside tonight. Right now, I just want to get it off my chest: I married the most beautiful man in the world.
^ That’s his acting headshot. And yes, I had his permission: not just to post the photo, but to write this blog entry, too.

Guest Author: Dana Johnson

One of our MHB faithful wrote a piece called “Why Not Passing Ruins My Day,” and I thought it deserved a larger audience. – Helen
When we talk around TG issues, we are very careful.
We phrase things such that we do our best to respect and support one another. I am, in general, an enormous fan of this.
Unfortunately, it’s possible for that very politeness to mask out feelings we have, or to make us less willing to bring them up and feel legitimate doing so.
So I’m going to drop that pretense, and describe what this is like from inside my own head as clearly as I can. This is how I feel about what is going on with me, and may or may not have any real match-up with reality. It is, however, how this whole thing feels to me.
I begin at the beginning.
I am a woman.
I am not “expressing myself as a woman”. I am not “presenting as a woman.” I am a woman.
Nobody else sees a woman when they look at me, for the most part.
It was worse when I was a girl. Not only did nobody see me as a girl, but a lot of effort was put into making sure I was being a proper boy. It was quite clear to me that I wasn’t a boy, but everybody else insisted. I knew that I was supposed to be a boy, so I did everything I could to do what I was told.
I drove myself half-mad, over the years, trying to convince myself that I was a boy, against my own perception of the facts. I tried to be interested in sports. I tried to date girls.
I succeeded at convincing most people that I was a geek boy, although I never managed to convince myself, really. Which is why it became such a problem.
I don’t try living as a man anymore. I live as a transsexual. That is, a man who is largely perceived to be mad, and who is generally recognized as attempting to live as a woman. This is not the same as being a woman, but it’s better than being a guy.
I may be seen as a guy in a dress, but at least I get to wear a dress.
One of the reasons it’s better to live this way than as a man is that I get brief windows into what it would be like if everybody just agreed with me that, yes, I am a woman. These windows are called “passing”.
If I am passing, and someone “clocks” me, well, it’s a grounding of a particularly painful sort. You see, there’s only two ways I am made aware of the fact that I’m not a woman. If I’m made aware of some component of my own anatomy (ie, facial hair, voice, plumbing) or if someone else points it out. Otherwise, I’m fairly oblivious. I am a woman, as far as my ability to discern and categorize myself is concerned.
I’m not necessarily aware that I’m anything other than a woman unless some idiot says, “Damn! It’s a Man!” or something of the sort, at which point I’m buried by the avalanche of an entire lifetime of bitter frustration.
Luckily, I’ve learned to cope with this a bit. It generally doesn’t result in days or weeks of navel gazing and depression. No, it’s now down to a few hours or an afternoon.
People don’t really understand why this is hard to get over. I mean, nobody gets what they want in life. So why should I expect to? In many ways, I suppose they’re right.
The problem I have is that I have found no way of successfully reprogramming my brain about this stuff. As far as it’s concerned, I am a woman. It’s not a question of not getting what I want, it’s a question of something I’m sure I already have not being there — kind of like when you go for your keys and they’re missing. You were certain they were there, and now they aren’t — where could they have gone. Someone saying, “No you aren’t a woman” always comes with that kind of cognitive dissonance — “I was certain that vagina was there a moment ago, but now it’s a penis.” Empirically, I have learned that “they” are right. But emotionally it has never sunk in. I still wake up every morning a woman, and have to readjust to the fact that there’s a penis down there for some reason.
I have to readjust, every damn day, to the fact that I’m a woman who is balding, has a deep voice, and has a penis. Thankfully, my breasts are no longer missing. Still, it only gets so easy to do this. It always seems a bit off. Why would I have a penis? Are you sure it’s really there? Yes, yes it is. Why? I dunno. Can we get rid of it? Well, yes. Whew! Okay, so how do we ditch it? Um, well, it’ll take a few months/years/decades…
Once I manage to get over that little early-morning hurdle, I can ignore for the most part the fact that reality doesn’t match up with what my brain keeps insisting on. Except for every time I get a weird look, or I have to pee. Or some idiot says, “Damn! It’s a Man!” When one of those things happens, it’s painfully obvious, again, and I have to readjust, again.
Some days I’m just better at that than others.
It would still be nice to move from being a transsexual to being a woman, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m trying to be as pragmatic about all this as possible, and as respectful of others point of view — ie, that I’m not a woman — as I can. If I’m a transsexual and people are polite, well, it’s better than being a guy, and I do get to wear a dress. And every once in awhile, I pass, and I get to be normal for a brief window of time — the world and my brain in harmony with one another. I try to enjoy it while it lasts.
It’s always over soon. And it will never last the way it’s supposed to.

Transmale Nation

(I thought perhaps many of us on the MTF side of things don’t know much about the FTM side of things, & I thought this article did a decent job of it.)
25th Annual Queer Issue
By Elizabeth Cline

Transmale Nation: Remaking manhood in the genderqueer generation

June 22nd, 2004 10:00 AM
A digital call to action spread on friendster.com last month, and a crowd of tranny boys descended on the East Village gay dive the Boiler Room. It was the very first Manhunt, a party for transmen and their admirers.
When several dozen genderqueers crashed the place, a few of the bar’s gay patrons threw a tantrum. They tried desperately to sort out who was a dyke and who was a dude by rating the tranny boys – with their flat chests, short hair, and male posturing – according to who still “looked like girls.” But eventually, these hecklers were outnumbered by some of New York’s au courant
gender outlaws, a mix of young masculine-identified dykes, bois, and trans guys clamoring for a space of their own. By the end of the night, the trans folks and the gay guys had made peace, and Riley MacLeod, a 22-year-old, gay-identified tranny boy, even stole a kiss from the bartender.
Just a few years ago, the transmale community was still underground, connecting with each other in group therapy and chat rooms. How things have changed. Some of the city’s hottest queer parties are fundraisers for chest-reconstruction surgery, tagged with names like “Take My Breasts Away.” Ethan Carter’s Trans*Am party has gotten so popular it has outgrown its digs
at the lesbian watering hole Meow Mix, and Manhunt plans to carry on through the summer.
By now, there are hundreds of personal Web pages, chat groups, and surgery-comparison sites by and for transmen. (Check out , ,
, or the more than 200 Yahoo groups that pop up under a search for FTM, meaning female-to-male transgender.) Brown University, Sarah Lawrence, and Wesleyan have gender-neutral dorms, bathrooms, and sports teams. New York’s LGBT Community Center has expanded its Gender Identity Project to include eight groups for the gender questioning.
Five years ago, if you were a transmale, you were FTM (or female-to-male) and you would probably change your name, go on testosterone, move to a new city, and perhaps consider sex reassignment surgery. Most of those FTMs wanted the world to know them and see them as real men. But there’s a new trans generation. They’re college-educated, raised on gender deconstruction, and not so interested in realness.
Today, most transmales don’t plan to have “bottom surgery,” which constructs male genitalia out of the labia and clitoris. For some, it’s a matter of cost (ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, which still doesn’t buy you a fully functioning, realistic penis). But a lot of trans guys say they’re doing just fine without one.
“I do not want a cock,” says K.J. Pallegedara, an 18-year-old tranny boy who hides his breasts by binding them with Ace bandages. “I know a couple of transmen who see their masculinity in their dick. But my masculinity is in my head.” K.J. does plan to take testosterone, and he’s saving up the outrageous $8,000 for “top surgery,” which removes the breasts and constructs a male-appearing chest. Dr. James Reardon, one of the nation’s best-known chest reconstruction surgeons, says he performs at least one such procedure a week – up from one a year in 1974, when Reardon saw his first patient.

Photo of: Rowan Foley, Stephen Alexander, Evan Schwartz, Tom Leger, Riley MacLeod, Patric Peter, Ian Lundy, K.J. Pallegedara, Eli Greene, and Ethan Mase
As visibility grows, more transmales are changing their pronouns and hormones to fit their masculine gender identity, and many are starting the transition at a very early age. (A recent Oprah episode featured transmale guests as young as 11.) Along with this emergence has come an extensive lexicon. In addition to FTMs, there are female-bodied masculine-identified people who don’t consider themselves men. They include tranny boys (who feel and look, well, boyish), transfags (who act effeminate), bois (dykes who “play” with masculinity), genderqueers (an umbrella term for folks who challenge their gender) and the list is still growing.
In this brave new world, you can be a transmale who goes “no-ho” (meaning no hormones) or “low-ho,” and “no-op” (no surgery) – or you can be a genderqueer who has top surgery, identifies as a woman, and goes by the pronoun he. The possibilities are endless.
America has always been the land of self-invention, but lately that concept has been applied to the body in unprecedented ways. Thanks to technology, transmales can now invent the body they feel comfortable with. In the new thinking, gender and orientation are a highly personal creation, and while some transmales still strive for “realness,” the new generation is heading far beyond the appurtenances of masculinity. This isn’t about having a beard or chest hair. These guys look boyish, yet butch.
But in the end, the transmale identity can’t be described within the binaries of man/boy, butch/femme, or gay/straight. Says transman and performance artist Imani Henry, “It’s all about self-identity.”
As Manhunt and Trans*Am (meaning amorous) imply, transmales are on the prowl for folks who are willing to break the mold of gender and sexual orientation – or at least go out with someone who does. Along with this evolution has come a new breed of queer women who like dating trannies and who gag on the word lesbian. “I don’t give a shit if people read me as lesbian or straight,” says Alana Chazan, 24, a femme queer woman who has dated both dykes and transmen. “For me, it’s about respecting my partner’s gender identity.”
It remains to be seen whether gay men can respect a tranny boy in the morning. But there are same-sex couples who weren’t born that way. Some transmales call themselves transfags because they express femininity in a very gay-male way. And some of them are open to dating women. “I don’t define fagginess by who I fuck, because I’ve dated all over the place,” says Bran Fenner, 22. “I define it by how I demonstrate femininity.”
Bran has a crew of transfags of color that he met through a Yahoo group he started with a friend. Most of its members, like Bran, would call themselves pansexual. Riley, on the other hand, wants to date biological men (called bioguys), a hopeless prospect, he says, because of “male ignorance” about transmen. But those walls are coming down. The Center has started a new group for LGB trans people, and there’s now trannyfag porn featuring trans and bioguys, surprise, getting it on.
Whatever their sexual orientation, most transmales remain in queer women’s spaces because they feel safe there. Acceptance is growing in this community, but there still are dykes who gripe that all butch women are turning into boys, and feminists who label transmen misogynists out to gain male privilege. It’s true that some transmen ridicule women, but no more than “real” men do – and there are feminists and lesbians who ridicule femininity. So what’s the difference?
We live in a time when the attributes of manhood reign supreme, and not just for men. Women are appropriating the power and aesthetic of masculinity to redefine themselves, to the point where even our heroines – Uma Thurman comes to mind- kick ass harder than your average dude. Masculinity is no longer an exclusively male endowment, but it’s still a very desirable one. This explains why the stakes are higher for transwomen (MTFs) in the world at large than they are for transmen. It also explains why the new generation of genderqueers accords more status to the male-identified. And perhaps why there are so many queer women, as opposed to queer men, ridding themselves of their female identity.
Yes, the status of transmen is enjoying a boost thanks to our macho obsession. But the way this scene understands itself and the world challenges that hierarchy. Feminism and gay liberation made it OK to feel comfortable with yourself as the world labeled you. But the genderqueer
generation proposes a new reality in which the world doesn’t label our identities and our bodies; we do. If you spot these transmales at the Pride parade, or in your local bar, you have seen the future – and it’s very queer indeed.