Creating Change, The LGBTQ movement, and the long game

By , January 29, 2016 11:49 am

Creating Change, the largest LGBTQ conference in the country, was in Chicago recently. There were a few dramatic moments, to say the least. In short, there was about a protest a day: At the Latinx Institute, at the Panel on Trans-Attracted Men, and – most notably and most reported – at the reception hosted by A Wider Bridge, “the pro-Israel organization that builds bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North Americans and allies.” A few articles on the conference for your reading pleasure (I don’t agree with everything these articles say, but I’ve gotten something from each of them): LGBTQ Jews: Let’s Stop Talking About IsraelIn Praise of Discomfort: Learning From Dr. King and Confronting PinkwashingWe Can All Learn from Creating Change 2016. And The Task Force’s Rea Carey on the Protest That Rocked Her Conference.

There’s one more article making the rounds titled “Special Snowflake Syndrome is ruining the progressive LGBTQ movement.” I’m not going to link to it because I think it’s, on the whole, condescending; feel free to Google it if you’re interested. For all that the article does poorly, I DO think there’s a kernel of value in it: Far too many LGBTQ activists are eager to call out rather than call in. There is an utter inability to assume good intent or to try and find a common ground. And there is little room for a plurality of opinions. Either you agree with me or you’re the enemy. Continue reading 'Creating Change, The LGBTQ movement, and the long game'»

Signal Boost: Trans Funding Project Grants

By , January 4, 2016 12:56 pm

Applications are now open for Trans Justice Funding Project’s 2016 grants!

TJFP is a community-led funding initiative founded in 2012 to support grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people. We make grants annually by bringing together a panel of six trans justice activists from around the country to carefully review every application we receive.

Go to to apply online.

You do not need to be a 501c3 non-profit or have a fiscal sponsor to apply!

Goodbye everyone, I’m moving to Kenya

By , November 23, 2015 3:48 pm

Just received the following email, subject “Transgender lover”

Hi Becky,
My name is Kumtu and I am from Kenya.It has been a deep wish for me to meet a transgender for companionship which could lead to something more serious.

I am straight  but wouldn’t mind if we could share photos just to see how beautiful you are and get to know you as well.

Kindly get back to me regardless of your interest,I’ll still appreciate.Thanks.


Clearly, I’ve been swept off my feet and will be taking Kumtu up on his generous offer.

Or, y’know, not…

If you’re not excited about the new Star Wars movie, you can’t be trusted as an ally to trans people

By , October 20, 2015 4:48 pm

As I hope you know, the trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released last night. Tickets went on sale, selling out and/or crashing servers all over the place. And I’m going to take a stand that I know we’ve all been thinking about, even if most of us haven’t been brave enough to say it: If you’re not excited about the new Star Wars, you can’t be trusted as an ally to trans people.

It’s pretty simple, really. Star Wars – the movie phenomenon launched in 1977 with the release of Episode IV: A New Hope – perfectly mirrors the rans experience. Allow me to  break it down:

Luke Skygenderidentitywalker

Luke Skygenderidentitywalker

Luke Skywalker is Gender Identity. Awkward, often disliked, unreasonably whiney. Doesn’t come into its own until the third act, after losing some body parts and building a new ‘lightsaber.’

Princess Leia is Gender Expression. Captured by the Evil Empire and forced to give up critical information when her planet is in crisis. Just like gender expression.

Han Solo is Confidence. This should be self explanatory.

Darth "Internalized Transphobia" Vader

Darth “Internalized Transphobia” Vader

Darth Vader is Internalized Transphobia. Led to hatred by someone pretending to be a supportive parent-figure, Darth “Internalized Transphobia” Vader is ultimately able to say that he is the only one in charge of his identity. And then he throws Transphobia down a giant pit.

The Emperor is Transphobia. Pushing his minion, Darth Vader, to do Transphobia’s bidding…whether he wants to or not.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is, I don’t know, Support Structures? Shut up, it makes sense.

Continue reading 'If you’re not excited about the new Star Wars movie, you can’t be trusted as an ally to trans people'»

Signal Boost: How it Is To be Miss Tobi

By , October 20, 2015 2:16 pm

Got an email about this short (3 minute) YouTube video about Miss Tobi, a trans artist in Berlin. Enjoy!

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.

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