These notes came from a workshop on Writing Trans Experiences, hosted by the Trans Bodies, Trans Selves crew, that I helped facilitate at Creating Change 2015 in Denver, CO. I’d love more suggestions and opinions, if people have them!
General Writing Tips
- The way to get better at writing is is to Do It. You won’t become better by not doing something.
- Think about Showing versus Telling
- How can you allow an audience to come to their own conclusions, rather than hitting them over the head with what’s going on?
- Makes your work a collaborative experience with the reader.
- Give yourself time to walk away before looking at your work. You don’t need to finish a piece and immediately reread it or critique it.
- Find collaborators. You have permission to get help, whether it’s someone to provide feedback, a writing partner, or simply someone to keep you company while you work.
- How do you sit down and start writing? Thoughts from workshop participants
- The physical act of writing has value and can be cathartic
- Journaling in long-hand, ‘working’ on a keyboard?
- Google Docs, WordPress, apps and software on computers and tablets
- Turn off spellcheck and grammar check and just write! Editing is for later!
- Study playlists, cinema scores (great for focusing on a specific tone while writing)
- No distractions
- Long-handing versus typing?
- There are tools to help writing
- Music in the background?
- You’re allowed to make notes and come back to a certain section later
- For example, [INSERT LONGER CHARACTER DESCRIPTION HERE] or [FIGURE OUT HOW THIS WILL WORK]
- Find a specific clothing or location or food/drink to help get your juices flowing
Continue reading 'Writing Trans Experiences'»
I legally changed my name in July, 2009. I still haven’t updated my birth certificate to Rebecca Rodin Kling. I had gender reassignment surgery in December, 2013. In Illinois, this gave me the ability to change the gender marker on my birth certificate. I haven’t done that, either.
I’ve been teling myself that the delays were out of laziness or simply prioritizing more pressing matters. I’m not applying for jobs or undergoing background checks, so having a birth certificate with my old name isn’t – logistically speaking – a big deal. I’m not planning to get married anytime soon, so the gender marker on my birth certificate isn’t exactly standing in the way of any life goals.
Updating my birth certificate in on my ‘to-do,’ sitting below a reminder to water my plants every week and above a note about planning a trip to visit a friend this summer. And yet, for the past five and a half years, my birth certificate – the original, reading Jared Daniel Kling (M) – has sat in a filing cabinet in my mom’s basement in Skokie.
I was in Los Angeles for much of January, performing Something Something New Vagina at a small theater in North Hollywood. I ended each performane with a post-show Q&A, as I do with all my shows. Someone asked a question about how easy it was to change my birth certificate from M to F, and whether it shows the old gender marker or not. I was forced to admit that I haven’t actually updated my birth certificate and, for the first time, I realized I’ve been delaying doing so for deeper reasons than simple laziness. There’s an aspect of updating that document that feels very final, and like it somehow cuts me off from a past I’ve been working for almost a decade, the course of my transition, to move beyond. Continue reading 'Resisting being ‘done’ transitioning'»
I saw a trans person comment on this link, a new NBC segment featuring Janet Mock, and imply that Mock only cares about trans PoC. Specifically, that person said, “I wonder how many times she’ll reference Trans Men/Women of Color — as if that’s all there is in our community??”
Here’s my response:
I’m disappointed to see this comment. Undoubtedly, trans people of all gender expressions, ages, classes, sexualities, and every other possible category experience both explicit and implicit discrimination in our society. We face issues with employment, housing, sex and relationships, and simply walking down the street safely.
And yet, to overlook or deny the impact race has on that discrimination seems – at best – naive.
You make an implicit accusation against Janet, that she’s only speaking on behalf of trans PoC, or only using her position in the media spotlight to work for their success. Certainly, white trans people deserve attention and recognition. I say this as a white trans person; I don’t want my story to be overlooked or forgotten, or the hardships I’ve faced to be erased. But PoC – as a population – have it worse at every step of the way. Educationally, socially, when it comes to employment, when it comes to the criminal justice system; PoC have the deck stacked against them. In turn, white trans folks benefit from that stacked deck. No, this doesn’t mean white trans people have it easy. But we have it ever-so-slightly (and often very significantly) less hard. Continue reading 'Racism within the trans community'»
Hey all! Here’s a signal boost for a staged reading going on in Brooklyn. Disclaimer: I don’t have any connection with this project – or knowledge of its content – so hopefully it’s a good one.
Seeking one Transgendered Male (mid-late 20s) and one Transgendered Female (early-mid 30s) for a New York City reading of a play which premiered in Shanghai in June 2014 as part of the 6th Annual Pride Week in conjunction with Shanghai LGBT.
The staged reading will take place February 6th at the Brooklyn LGBT community enter. Payment will be donation-based and will be split between the creative team. Continue reading 'Signal Boost: Staged reading in Brooklyn'»
The Waterloo Arts Center in Cleveland, OH is looking for trans artists to submit work for an upcoming show:
Waterloo Arts invites artists who identify as trans* individuals to submit artwork for inclusion in a group exhibition showcasing work which express compelling narratives regarding gender identity in contemporary society. Depictions of triumphs, struggles and hopes for the future are all welcomed perspectives. Artists will be selected based on the quality of their work and how well their work contributes to a cohesive group exhibition. The purpose of the exhibition is to advance social equality through increased awareness and empathy for the trans* community.
More info is at http://waterlooarts.org/transgender-art-exhibit/ or by emailing [email protected]
You should see Selma, the fictionalized telling of Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s involvement in the march from Selma to Montgomery in March, 1965, to push for voting rights for black Americans. The movie is definitely entertainment and not an accurate representation of history, although it appears to do pretty well at getting the broad strokes – and many of the minor details – right. Even when it falls short in getting every detail correct, it does a masterful job of capturing the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of the civil rights movement. Simplicity, because the stated goals – full and complete legal and civil equality for black Americans – could be easily encapsulated and fit on a protest sign. Complexity, because the many organizations, leaders, politicians, and individuals involved in the movement had different – and often mutually exclusive – ideas on how to get there. Continue reading 'Review: Selma'»
I was back in Philadelphia for my one year followup appointment on Monday, December 15, 2014. I’ve been back to Philly, and to Dr McGinn’s office, a few times since my surgery, but this time felt different. The drive up was uneventful, the appointment was quick and easy (McGinn said everything is healing well), but everything seemed to catch up with me on the drive back. “It’s been one whole year,” I kept thinking.
I drove alone from New Hope to Philadelphia, passing through the town where I’d spent my initial recovery in late 2013. The Potomac River peeked in and out from between bare trees, and the landscape was gray and quiet. I started to cry shortly after getting on the highway, awkwardly trying to suppress tears so I could focus on the road. I blasted Laura Jane Grace and tried to figure out what the emotions bubbling up through me meant. Continue reading 'One Year Post-Op'»
There’s no right way to talk about suicide. No proper sequence of words that will make sense of the grief and loss. Rather, there exist a million wrong ways to discuss it, an endless stream of inadequate thoughts and feelings to try and piece it all together into a comprehensive narrative.
As is now all over the news, a 17 year old trans girl, Leelah Alcorn, was struck by a tractor-trailer and died early Sunday morning. This death may have gone unreported were it not for the suicide note Leelah left on her Tumblr. That post made the rounds Sunday evening and throughout Monday, and was today picked up by news outlets in the US, Mexico, England, Italy, and elsewhere around the world. #JusticeForLeelahAlcorn is trending on Twitter, and Leelah’s suicide note on Tumblr has been favorited and shared almost 30,000 times.
It’s easy to see why this particular trans suicide has been reported on so widely: Leelah left behind a perfect, news-ready photo. Her suicide note was public and eloquent, and highlighted how ignorant parenting can mean the difference between life and death for trans youth. And, not to put too fine a point on it, Leelah was white and photogenic. A perfect combination for a media storm.
Continue reading 'Finding justice for Leelah Alcorn'»
You should all head over to The Trans 100 nomination form to nominate folks to the 2015 Trans 100 list, celebrating excellence in the trans community. Go! Now!
This past week I performed at a fundraiser for TransTech, an awesome Chicago-based nonprofit supporting trans folks. Here’s the piece I performed.
Twas the week before Christmas, and all through Chicago
Everyone tried to stay warm, and to avoid the snow
Facebook and Tumblr were updated with care
In hopes that chosen family would stay close and near
Trans folk were decked out in mighty fine threads
While visions of rainbows danced in their heads
This one wore sparkles, that one was quite fab
We knew that no one would be looking drab
But out on the street there arose such a sound
I hit pause on Netflix to see what was around
Away to the window I peered out at night’s glory
Wondering how did this Jew end up in a Christmas story? Continue reading 'The Night Before Christmas (a trans poem)'»