Trans and non-dysphoric?

By , October 6, 2015 3:57 pm

I got an email today with a question: Do People that identify as trans or genderqueer but don’t have dysphoria make you angry?

For some background, there’s a growing population of people who identify as trans or genderqueer but don’t experience gender dysphoria, the distressing disconnect between one’s gender identity and physical sex commonly associated with trans identity and experience.

The short answer is, no, they don’t make me angry as a population or as a general identity. Everyday Feminism has a pretty good piece on why gender dysphoria isn’t (or shouldn’t be) needed to identify as trans, and the blog GenderTerror has some additional thoughts. The Everyday Feminism article covers most of what I want to say, so you should go read it. From that article:

It’s weird that some trans people are totally on-board with making a rulebook for transness, instead of encouraging people to self-identify and declare their gender identities for themselves.

When we allow other people to make the rules, we strip away the rights of trans people to self-identify. If we tell trans people that their identities don’t belong to them, we uphold a culture where the naming of gender identities belongs to outsiders instead of ourselves.

That said, there are certainly people who identify as trans and don’t experience gender dysphoria who do make me angry, and I’m open to talking about why

Continue reading 'Trans and non-dysphoric?'»

Signal Boost: Chicago performance looking for a trans actor

By , September 24, 2015 4:26 pm

Step Up Productions is seeking Chicago-based trans actors for its upcoming production of Temperance Vs. Tolerance by Mia McCullough directed by Patrice Foster. The short play will be featured in the 3rd annual production of HoliDaze.

Character Breakdown:
Celia: A transwoman, financial advisor. The eldest sibling (Seeking early 30s -late 40s). Self- absorbed, frosty.

A side will be sent out and we would like to see one prepared monologue.

There is a stipend of $200 for the production.

Audition Date: 9/28
Audition Time: between 7pm-10pm
Non – Equity
Rehearsals will be 1-2 times per week (date contingent on actor/director availability) beginning October 11th.
Tech 11/17-11/19
Previews: 11/20, 11/21, 11/23
Opening: 11/24
(No performances 11/25-11/27)
Performances from 11/28 – 12/20. Thursday-Saturday 8pm & Sunday 2pm

Please email headshot and resume and any audition time restrictions to Tara Branham at [email protected]

Why LGBTQ Activists Are Boycotting The Chicago Premier Of ‘Stonewall’

By , September 19, 2015 6:07 pm

I know, I know, I’ve been lousy about updating this blog. I’m working on it. In the meantime, I wrote an article for Chicagoist you should check out! A brief excerpt:

Anyone with a political mindset who pays at least a little attention to Hollywood is aware that the film industry has a problem when it comes to representing anyone other than straight, white, men.

Of the top 600 grossing films from 2007 to 2013, only 1.9 percent were directed by women. In the past decade or so, over three-fourths of all speaking roles in movies went to white characters. Depictions of LGBT characters in film are scarce and often offensive, and main character roles are even scarcer.

So it seems like Roland Emmerich’s film Stonewall should be cause for celebration The soon-to-be-released movie is a fictionalized retelling of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where gays, lesbians, drag kings and queens and transgender people fought back against a police crackdown at the Stonewall Inn.

The Stonewall Riots are often called the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement, and they absolutely deserve to be depicted on film. And the movie has a great ad campaign. The poster has a pink backdrop, six people (most of them white and none of them visibly transgender) approach the viewer with giant grins and arms draped over each others’ shoulders, and a giant slogan takes up the top two-thirds: WHERE PRIDE BEGAN. Who wouldn’t want to support that movie?

Lots of trans people (this author included), lots of people of color and our allies are refusing to support the movie.

Center on Halsted’s “toxic” work environment

By , July 29, 2015 12:24 pm

An article was published in the Windy City Times today about an open letter from former Center on Halsted staffers alleging a “toxic” work environment, and laying the blame at the feed of CEO Tico Valle. As someone who has complained often and loudly about the Center, I think it’s awesome that so many people spoke out. In response to the article, I emailed the CoH Board Chair Duane DesParte at [email protected]:

Mr DesParte,

I was incredibly disappointed to read your quote in the recent Windy City Times article on past employees alleging a toxic work environment. You said, “I’ve been involved with the Center for many years, and I’ve been on the board for the past six years. I interact with Tico regularly—many on our board interact with Tico regularly, through various committee [projects], various events—and we interact with the staff regularly. That’s certainly not our experience. We certainly respect the input, but it’s contrary to what we’ve experienced.”

While I believe you have had a positive relationship with with Tico, it seems willfully obstinate to hold Tico in such high regard in the face of overwhelming opposition. As a member of Chicago’s LGBT community, I know of very few community members who enjoy visiting the Center on Halsted, specifically due to the culture Tico has created. Likewise, I know of no community members or CoH employees who have had positive working relationships with Tico. That he has a good relationship with the board is laudable, but utterly beside the points that the open letter was attempting to address.

Convening the executive committee and discussing things with HR is, quite frankly, too little too late. This has been an ongoing issue, as indicated by the Center’s high turnover rate and difficulty retaining top talent, not to mention the utter lack of respect many in the queer community have for the Center.

So, bluntly, I ask: What are you going to do about it? What forms of accountability will take place? How will you respond to frustration, not only from former employees, but from the community you purport to serve?

WIth hope for the future,
-Rebecca Kling

Working with trans students, K-12?

By , June 22, 2015 3:03 pm

I just got off the phone with a friend-of-a-friend who is working with a large city’s school district on trans inclusion (not Chicago, alas). Specifically, she works in their software development and data management and is trying to figure out how to move from the old M/F system of defining students’ sexes to something more trans affirming, while still meeting federal and state reporting requirements. Oy. Here was the brainstorming we came up with:

For the backend, tweak the ‘Sex’ field to be labeled as ‘Sex (as listed on birth certificate).’ This is something that a lot of reporting requires, so it can’t simply be removed or replaced with Gender Identity, as much as it’d be awesome if it could. In addition, add Gender Identity and Preferred Pronoun fields.

To pair with the form changes, we came up with some very draft-y school district policy language, saying “It is the policy of this school district to use a student’s gender identity and preferred pronoun for any and all gendered or sex-segregated situations, e.g. bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, etc. Parents will be notified and consulted should it be impossible to use the student’s gender identity (e.g. for federally mandated reporting, which requires using the sex listed on a student’s birth certificate) or if it is unclear how to best serve that student (e.g. for placement in sex education classes).”

What do people think of this as recommendations? It’s still imperfect, but seems to cover all the important bases while bringing parents in for situations that aren’t already covered.

A Recipe For Womanhood

By , June 8, 2015 4:58 pm

By now, Elinor Burkett’s op-ed at the New York Times, What Makes A Woman?, has been making the rounds. Those more familiar with trans identity, and how feminism has and hasn’t been an ally to the trans community, have reacted with appropriate disappointment and disgust. In the best response I’ve seen, Jaclyn Friedman wrote, “Womanhood is not an exclusive club. So many people are in it, and we are all so very different from one another. We shouldn’t imagine any of us hold the keys to womanhood.” Those less familiar with trans identity, even many people who would consider themselves allies to the trans community, shared Burkett’s op-ed on Twitter and Facebook with notes like “How interesting!” or “She raises some good points!”


Burkett’s op-ed raises no new perspectives, and is steeped in the same stodgy feminism (so-called) that has spent decades marginalizing and sidelining issues of race, class, sexuality, gender identity and expression, and more. Jaclyn’s piece covers much of what I wanted to say, so I’d suggest you go read it. But, below, I’ll touch on a few other thoughts.

Continue reading 'A Recipe For Womanhood'»

Philadelphia Trans Health Conference 2015 – thoughts and reflections

By , June 7, 2015 11:58 am
Another year, another Philadelphia Trans Health Conference gone by. With so many things packed into 72 hours – workshops and panels and parties and new friends and old friends and people you wanted to see but couldn’t and people you didn’t want to see but still ran into – it’s difficult to take a step back and try to fit everything into one blog post. But I’m gonna try!

Continue reading 'Philadelphia Trans Health Conference 2015 – thoughts and reflections'»

Signal Boost – United Latino Pride: Tools for the Causal Activist

By , May 18, 2015 11:24 am

Tools for the Casual Activist, a bilingual evening of workshops co-hosted by the Trans Oral History Project that is part of this year’s United Latino Pride. Below are details in Spanish and English.

Herramientas Para Los Activistas Casuales

Todo los días la gente crea el mundo y nosotros también podemos cambiarlo.

Miercoles, Junio 9th 6-9pm
Youth Services Project (3942 West North Ave)

Embajadores de Arco Iris 101

Un conversación de como enfrentar la ignorancia de colegas de trabajo, extraños, y/o familia con herramientas básicas de educación y practicando con situaciones reales.

Creando Aceptacion Hacia las Personas Trans

Aprenda más sobre los temas que enfrenta la comunidad trans a través del arte de contar historias y aprenda estrategias para ser un(a) mejor aliado(a) con el proyecto de Historias Orales Trans.

Continue reading 'Signal Boost – United Latino Pride: Tools for the Causal Activist'»

Fox Chicago interview

By , April 27, 2015 12:09 pm


FOX 32 News Chicago

Link to the Fox Chicago page.

I’m mostly happy with how it went. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to express why “born a boy” is problematic language, and to (before the interview) explain I’d rather not share my birth name. Also, I would have liked to explicitly mention my race and class privilege. But, on the whole, I’m proud of it.

(Other than the freeze frame they chose makes me look either exhausted, stones, or both…)

Fox Chicago appearance

By , April 25, 2015 8:19 pm

Hey all! I’m scheduled to be on Fox Chicago’s Good Day Chicago on Monday, 4/27 to discuss transgender identity. Hope you can tune in!

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