Thoughts on The White House’s non-response ‘response’ to the Petition on Non-Binary Genders

By , July 13, 2014 8:45 pm

In 2011, the White House opened We The People, a site where people can petition the Obama administration and vote on (“sign”) what petitions they think deserve a response. For the most part, the responses have been tepid at best. For example, Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was chosen to respond to a petition on marijuana legalization when the holder of that office is legally bound to oppose the legalization of any and all currently illegal drugs. (The White House does deserve some credit for humorously responding to a petition demanding the US build a Death Star.) Check out this January 2013 article at The Atlantic for more thoughts on the petition site itself.

This past week, Roy Austin, the Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity in the Domestic Policy Council (wow, what a long and ridiculous title) responded to a petition requesting the US Government to Legally Recognize Non-Binary Genders. The petition notes that Australia and New Zealand both allow for some sort of non-binary gender marker on passports, and requests that the Obama Administration…

…legally recognize genders outside of the male-female binary (such as agender, pangender, genderfluid, and others) and provide an option for these genders on all legal documents and records.

Not surprisingly, the response was a carefully bureaucratic attempt to seem supportive without actually providing any language of, y’know, support. In particular, there’s nothing that could be easily quoted to use against the administration by conservative news outlets or politicians. Lets examine the response paragraph by paragraph. Continue reading 'Thoughts on The White House’s non-response ‘response’ to the Petition on Non-Binary Genders'»

Responding to “15 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism”

By , July 12, 2014 12:14 am

Someone recently tagged me on Facebook to make me aware of this list on Buzzfeed (tellingly, with the URL ending in “/i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means.”) The friend tagged me specifically because they disagreed with the list, and figured I would too. They were correct.

So, point by point, a response and refutation. All emphasis (underlines/italics/etc) are from the original post.

1.”I don’t need feminism because I don’t want to politicize my gender.”

That’s a lovely sentiment, but others are going to politicize it for you, whether you like it or not. From the Hobby Lobby ruling, giving your boss additional ability to control your healthcare, to politicians attempting to define “legitimate rape” that your body can “shut down,” to politicians rejecting the idea that you deserve equal pay for an equal job, your gender is going to be politicized. So while it’s a noble idea to want to stay above the fray, it’s also a naive and ultimately harmful one. In a world where the political becomes personal, the personal must be political.

2. I don’t need feminism because I am NOTVictim.

I don’t need the civil rights movement because I’m not a person of color. I don’t need to combat Islamophobia because I’m not a Muslim. There is an inherent selfishness in saying “This issue doesn’t directly impact me, so it’s unimportant.” And – in the vein of “The only moral abortion is my abortion” – it’s easy to forget how issues of feminism might impact you until they do impact you.

Continue reading 'Responding to “15 Women Say Why They Don’t Need Feminism”'»

Philly Trans Health Conference drinking game

By , July 10, 2014 3:52 pm

This is a modified version of the performance piece I debuted at PTHC 2014′s Blender performance evening.

The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference is always a blast: Seeing old friends, meeting new ones, attending workshops, going out to party late into the night… There are tons of reasons we all come back year after year, and why – according to a recent #PTHC tweet – Philly Trans Health has grown from ~130 attendees in its first year to over 3,000 this year.

But, for all the fantastic opportunities Philly Trans Health provides – opportunities to learn, to socialize, to grow as activists and educators and allies – I think it’s missing something big. Something important. Something we could all benefit from. And so I present to you, the 2014 Blender audience, the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference drinking game. I can’t imagine this is a complete list, and I encourage you to add your own rules.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve come up with, by myself and with friends. Lets start off easy:

  • Have some apple juice in honor of all the amazing and adorable baby queers and translings you see wandering around the conference.
  • Take a refined sip of wine for every asymmetrical haircut you spot.
  • Enjoy a drink of your choice for every person you meet who you’d like to bang.
  • Take an extra drink if you’ve already banged them.
  • Finish your drink if you think you’ve banged them, but can’t quite remember… (What did you do at the after party last year, anyway?)
  • Take an extra sip for every packet of lube, condom grab bag, or female condom you took from a display table. Bonus drinks if you know how to use the female condom correctly, and finish your drink if you winced when I called it a “female” condom instead of a “receptive” condom.
  • Take a shot of Jamison for the first Pride tattoo you spot, with a sip for every one thereafter.
  • Take a drink of cheap wine every time you spot the following phrases:
    • Self care
    • Intersectionality
    • Trigger warning
    • Overlapping systems of oppression
  • Treat yourself to a shot of espresso for every 8:45AM workshop you said you were gonna make, but slept through.
  • Speaking of sleep and your hotel room, and a jigger of Kaluah to your espresso for every person in your hotel room above and beyond what you told the front desk when you checked in.

Continue reading 'Philly Trans Health Conference drinking game'»

The psychology of emails

By , July 8, 2014 12:43 pm

A big part of how I book gigs at colleges and universities is through cold-emailing. That is, I find people’s contact info on school websites – emails for student groups, faculty, and professors – and email them info about my workshops and performances.* There’s a general pattern to how these emails go, assuming there’s any sort of response at all:

  1. I send an initial email
  2. They express interest
  3. I email more info
  4. We email back and forth about details and specifics
  5. We schedule a gig and sign a contract

Of course, there’s a big percentage drop-off at each step of the way. I don’t have the exact numbers but I’d ballpark it that, of the ~10,000 emails I’ve sent in the past few years, I’ve received perhaps 50 gigs. (That’s 0.5%, which is still impressively high for cold-calling/emailing. Of course, I’m still in steps 3 and 4 perhaps a hundred different people from that list of 10,000, hoping to move them to step 5.)

Continue reading 'The psychology of emails'»

3AM epiphany on the road

By , June 4, 2014 4:42 pm

I’m currently in Cincinnati, at the 2014 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. My current show, Something Something New Vagina, is going well.  It’s definitely still a work in progress, but I feel pretty good about the content and sharing it in front of an audience has been incredibly valuable as I move forward with the material. Even though some of the script is from pieces I’ve performed before, most of it is new. So I’ve had solid houses, very positive reviews, and good audience buzz. Likewise, CincyFringe is perhaps my favorite Fringe festival of the five I’ve participated in (Chicago, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati). It’s well organized, run by awesome (and competent!) people, has strong community support, and I like a lot of my fellow artists. I was really excited to come here, even if I was drained from a spring of being on the road.

So why have I been feeling shitty all Fringe? Continue reading '3AM epiphany on the road'»

50 Shades of Ick

By , May 24, 2014 2:20 pm

I did it: I read 50 Shades of Grey. At least, I read most of it. I couldn’t make myself read every single line of every single page, but I got through the trilogy. I forced myself to read ‘em because I wanted to be able to talk at least somewhat intelligently when they came up in conversation, and to respond from my own personal opinions (and not just what I’ve heard others say about them).

They were pretty bad.

The writing was mediocre. It wasn’t the worst writing I’ve ever read, but certainly far from the best. It was self indulgent and repetitious, though. Lots of “my nipples elongated” and “he cupped my sex” (seriously, those specific phrases) and the like. But before I get to what worried me about the books – worried me as a feminist and as someone who enjoys BDSM – I want to talk about the few things I did like.

Continue reading '50 Shades of Ick'»

Chelsea Manning and problems with trans representation in the media

By , May 16, 2014 2:49 pm

Chelsea Manning is in the news again. She’s the US solider who was convicted of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, and later came out as trans. Manning is back in the news because the Pentagon is now considering moving her to a prison where she can receive transition-related care, including (potentially) access to hormones. To be clear, this has the potential to be a Good Thing, although prisons are certainly not known for being safe spaces for anyone, let alone a famous trans woman.

What strikes me, though, is the photographs that the media – even feminist, trans-positive sites – uses to accompany their stories about Manning. Continue reading 'Chelsea Manning and problems with trans representation in the media'»

Summer Bucket List

By , May 2, 2014 2:26 pm
Believe it or not, Chicago WILL get warmer soon!

Believe it or not, Chicago WILL get warmer soon!

As I sit at my desk, it’s 51 degrees and gray outside. It may not be raining at this very moment, but it looks like it’ll start soon. And yet, summer is approaching. Slowly, inconsistently, but at long last summer is approaching. And I have some shit I want to do this summer! I realized, though, if I don’t actually think things through, it’s incredibly easy for summer plans – summer “I want to”s – to slip away into summer “I wish I hads.” SO! Summer stuff I want to do!

Continue reading 'Summer Bucket List'»

Today’s travel adventures

By , April 13, 2014 10:46 pm

I used the now-standard line on the TSA agent in Shreveport, LA, when they flagged the bag with my dilators: “I’m a sex educator. Those are dildos.” The agent visibly paused, zipped the bag back up, and said, “I’m not going to open it. I still have to wipe it down to check. He,” she gestured at the agent at the x-ray machine, “owes me.”

I was delayed getting into Dallas, so missed my connecting flight. I gave candy to the ticketing agents and – low and behold – I was the first person called from the standby list. Got a window seat, too, and saw lightening flashing in some clouds during the flight. Very pretty.

I gave more candy to the flight attendant on the plane from Dallas to Chicago (they’d been delayed and I figured they could use some love) and he gave me a bottle of wine saying he needed to “even out the karma.” That’s right, not a glass of wine during the flight; he handed me an entire bottle of red wine in an opaque plastic bag as I was getting off the plane.

Never a dull moment. But now I am so incredibly ready for bed.

What is Feminist Porn?

By , April 8, 2014 1:45 pm

Last weekend, I was in Toronto at the Feminist Porn Awards and the first day of the Feminist Porn Conference. I managed to snag tickets from a friend who had won them as a raffle, and basically told me, “If you can get to Toronto, you can join me at the awards and conference!” Well, obviously I took her up on that. The awards were a ton of fun, and it was interesting seeing an industry celebrating itself like any other. But the conference really got me thinking about issues of porn and feminism, so I figured I’d organize and share my thoughts a bit.

The biggest question that came up as I was getting ready to leave – from friends and family and people on Facebook – was, “Um, what is feminist porn, exactly?”

Continue reading 'What is Feminist Porn?'»

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