Thoughts on the Orlando shooting

By , June 13, 2016 11:50 am

There is something surreal, in moments like this, about being a privileged member of an oppressed minority. 

I can breeze through airport security with white privilege and passing privilege. I can walk into an ER with insurance and the self-possessed attitude of one who is used to receiving respect from medical professionals. I can claim, with no small amount of pride, a long list of close friends and family who have stuck with me since I transitioned. I am one who grew up surrounded by privilege, who has never worried about housing or employment, has never sought refuge in bars or clubs from society’s hate or rejection, one to whom the dangers of being trans often seem distant or removed; hypothetical.

In reality, however, my life has always been at risk. It’s been at risk for self-inflicted injury or harm, it’s been at risk for familial rejection, and it’s been at risk for violence, abuse, or death at the hands of those who would label me pervert, freak, man in a dress, or worse.

I stand atop a tower of privileges, those I’m mindful of and those I am likely unaware of. But that tower is never stable, and could topple at any moment. The best I can do is to attempt to find firm footing, help others do the same, and to call upon those who enjoy even greater privilege than I to build bridges and shore up foundations, to tie their lives to mine so that we may all move toward equality together, as one. And, of course, I must be mindful of those with less privilege than I, to ensure that my fears or worries don’t blind me to those who are even less stable than I.

Continue reading 'Thoughts on the Orlando shooting'»

Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport

By , February 18, 2016 10:33 am

From Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, August 21, 1790:

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

Read it carefully, and then reread it. Washington is saying that the time of mere tolerance (“toleration”) – where one group can decide whether or not another deserves rights – is over. The country Washington was working to build “requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

It is undeniably worth applying a sizeable grain of salt to anything written on the topics of equality by the Founding Fathers. Most (all?) of them were sexist, racist, and classist. Nevertheless, they laid an impressive foundation on which to build a truly equal and equitable society.

I’m reminded of this passage as the news continues to come about South Dakota’s anti-trans bill, about the person in Washington who – by all accounts – took advantage of pro-trans laws, and the seemingly endless stream of anti-trans, anti-woman, anti-POC, anti-immigrant, anti-poor, anti- anti- anti- news from around the country.

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights…”

My existence cannot depend on mere tolerance from cis people. The existence of PoC cannot depend on mere tolerance from white people. The existence of the poor cannot depend on mere tolerance from the wealthy.

Washington – slaveholder, sexist, classist as he was – nevertheless hinted at a fundamental truth we are still striving to reach over two hundred years later.

Let us speak no more of toleration as if our rights should be subject to the indulgence of those with more power and privilege.

Signal Boost: What’s Your Issue?

By , February 16, 2016 7:43 pm

From the What’s Your Issue website: A national youth survey made with LGBTQ & GNC youth to lift up our experiences, priorities & dreams. Our goal is to represent youth who are usually left out. Help us by taking our survey & sharing it with your friends!

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]

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