Virginia Woolf, where have you been all my life?

By , November 30, 2010 9:45 pm
Cover of the book Orlando

SIR Orlando to you

Sorry I’ve been so busy! Here’s a short post while I get some longer ones together.

Last night, before going to bed, I began to read Orlando. Briefly, Orlando is about a nobleman who – after some earlier adventures taking up about half the book – goes to sleep and awakes to find himself a woman, Lady Orlando.

Orlando often comes up in discussions of trans studies, and not without good reason. That said, some say that the character’s identity (and sexuality) stay as “straight male” throughout the book, meaning it isn’t quite as “trans” as is often held. I haven’t gotten to the part about the gender swap, let alone any same-sex relationships, so I’ll hold off commenting. I will say, however, that I’m loving Virginia Woolf’s style of writing, her self-awareness as a narrator, and her willingness to poke fun at the genre in which she’s engaging. I look forward to finishing Orlando (and writing more about it) as well as diving into other works of hers.

Thanksgiving complications (like genocide)

By , November 26, 2010 11:57 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you living in the United States.

Thanksgiving has never been a huge part of my year. Part of it, undoubtedly, stems from my long-time vegetarianism. Likewise, my family has never been huge Thanksgiving-ers: we have family gatherings, but never the stereotypical blowouts, with dozens of visiting family members and food piled to the ceiling. This past week, my mom and I went to a family friend’s – something we’ve done the past few years – and had good food and good company. Some years we’ll mention things we’re thankful for, some years (this one included) we’ll forget in the midst of eating and socializing.

Coincidentally, I chose this week to start rereading Lies My Teacher Told Me, a great book about how US history is taught (and more often mis-taught) to high school students. From the Amazon description: “Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these [high school history] books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.” I first read this book in high school – it was actually suggested by my awesome US AP history teacher – and quickly fell in love with it. There’s a new, post-9/11 version that I’ve been meaning to pick up (my version is from 1996) but it’s a great book even without the last 15 years included.

I say I “coincidentally” started rereading it, though, because it has a whole chapter on the Thanksgiving story.

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Mini reviews: New Super Mario Bros Wii, The Force Unleashed

By , November 24, 2010 5:15 pm

New Super Mario Bros WiiAfter much hemming and hawing and uncertainty, I finally made the decision to purchase New Super Mario Bros Wii a few weeks ago. This is a new, 2D version of Mario for the Wii, following up on the successful New Super Mario Bros DS, which came out a few years ago and which I loved. The Wii version is pretty much the same, with the addition of multiplayer(!) and (obviously) being on the Wii.

I’d do a big lead up to what I think of the game, but it’s really not worth it: This game is tons of fun. It combines the best of the NES versions of Mario (particularly drawing a lot from Mario 3) as well as the SNES Super Mario World (SMW). In fact, I’d rate it only slightly behind Super Mario World, my all-time favorite Mario game, in terms of fun and difficulty.

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Being self employed

By , November 23, 2010 2:32 pm

Even more links! For the last few months, I’ve been collecting links on what it means to be self-employed, and wanted to share some of ’em.

Living Self-Employed Online: The Manual They Forgot to Give You – Good advice on how to keep your focus and figure out what activities will best help grow your business. (Something I should be doing instead of just writing about…)

Putting your money where your mouse is – An article from The Economist on the many projects out there raising money online, little bits at a time.

Six Lessons I’ve learned Since I Started Working For Myself – Another Lifehacker article, with a few seemingly simple but really good pieces of advice.

10 Tips for Better WritingAnother Lifehacker article. Again, seems simple, but good advice.

Productivity Hack: Using the Web to Minimize Internet Distractions – A Get Rich Slowly article on how use the Internet to focus instead of simply distract.

One of the things I’ve been telling myself every day for the past month or so is, “OK! Today I’m going to make myself a schedule!” But, as the last link describes, it’s so much easier to watch another episode of 30 Rock (or do semi-productive things like go to the gym) instead of actually sitting down and do what will, hopefully, start to bring money in.

On that note, I’m off to go make a schedule. Hopefully.

Tuesday Links

By , November 23, 2010 1:20 pm

Because hey, why not?

An open letter to Kate Bornstein – Specifically about the use of her use of the word “tranny.” I agree with the author, and think Kate’s response is less than satisfying, even though I appreciate her honest in continuing the discussion.

Help Howard Brown – Howard Brown, an extremely important LGBT health services provider in Chicago, is struggling financially. Donate to help keep them afloat. As a bonus, a $25 donation nets you a $10 gift certificate to Early to Bed, an awesome Chicago sex toy shop.

Meanwhile, Questioning Transphobia is having some financial troubles, too. Donate to help ’em out.

When activism becomes self-harm – A post on using justifications of activism and judgement to hide from the emotional hardship that can come from engaging in the ignorant and the bigoted. Something I’ve thought a lot about in my own work…

Anything else anyone wants to share? Feel free!

Performing topless: terrifying and empowering

By , November 22, 2010 1:07 am

Earlier tonight (Sunday night), I performed at the Chicago Fringe Binge, a fundraiser and publicity event for the 2011 Chicago Fringe Festival. There was a carnival theme, and lots of fun (and silly) events and booths. I had a booth about what it meant to be a boy or a girl, which drew some great comments – I’ll post ’em later this week. I was one of a few people performing little bits of shows, as part of the push to get people to come to Chicago Fringe 2011. I did a new piece, something I hadn’t performed before, in which I ended up topless.

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Smuggling a penis through airport security – Why I’m scared to fly

By , November 19, 2010 10:25 pm

Way back in January, I posted about the new airport scanners, following a discussion I engaged in on another site:

Without being sarcastic, some of us are concerned about having their small penis put up for display. This will inevitably be TMI, but I know I’m not the only trans woman who reads Slashdot, and presenting and being perceived as a woman but smuggling a dick through security runs the risk of harassment (if you’re lucky) and arrest/sexual assault/murder (if you’re not).

I’m all for safe air travel, but I can see a million ways to abuse this technology, and use it to harass and humiliate people who aren’t terrorists for every one way it can be used to “fight terrorism.”

Well, airport scanners have been in the news a lot this past week. Bruce Schneier has a good rundown of everything that’s been going on. But, in short, there has been some major backlash against scanners that are able to take and store effectively naked images of all passengers.

From a livejournal post:

It is no accident that women have been complaining about being pulled out of line because of their big breasts, having their bodies commented on by TSA officials, and getting inappropriate touching when selected for pat-downs for nearly 10 years now, but just this week it went viral. It is no accident that CAIR identified Islamic head scarves (hijab) as an automatic trigger for extra screenings in January, but just this week it went viral. What was different?Suddenly an able-bodied cisgender white man is the one who was complaining. (Emphasis in the original)

An interesting segue into my own take on the issue, Schneier quotes that same section on his blog, but leaves out the word “cisgender.” Which is ridiculous, because this is an issue that effects trans and gender-nonconforming people more than any other population!

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All bullies are closeted (A very special Glee)

By , November 17, 2010 10:06 pm

Just got back from the gym, where I watched last week’s episode of Glee on my phone. I’ve mentioned Glee before, both positively and negatively, but this episode really left a foul taste in my mouth. Spoilers abound in this post, so be warned.

The idea of a very special episode must be difficult for TV producers to resist: they have an audience, they have a soapbox, and they often have pressure from outside sources to address a particular issue. Traditionally, it’s been things like drugs or underage drinking, suicide, death, and so on. Often the motivation is benign, although you do have cases like Buffy’s producers trying to tap into government funding for anti-drinking messages in TV shows. (On the other end of the spectrum, you have shows like Clone High which ended each episode with a teaser for next week’s “very special episode of Clone High.”)

This episode of Glee was clearly about bullying, and specifically anti-gay bullying. Kurt, the show’s gay character, continues to deal with homophobic bullying, and the glee club coach notices that it’s “getting to him” But heaven forbid the coach should actually DO something about it! Like, y’know, suspending the responsible party, engaging other teachers – or even the students! – to try and prevent bullying, or doing anything other than talking to Kurt about it. To make things worse, the coach wonders why Kurt is letting the bullying get to him.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it: the coach – the adult, the authority figure, the ostensibly supportive party – asks the teenager why the bullying and physical abuse is bothering him so much more than it used to.

So. Fucked. Up.

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Gender roles and SCIENCE!

By , November 15, 2010 10:05 pm

I went to the Museum of Science and Industry today (again!) to see my friend Kate one more time before she moves out. While there, I had to stop at the gift shop – such cool thing! – and couldn’t help but notice a frustrating display of books.

First, the Dangerous Book for Boys (from the series of the same name) with chemistry experiments:

Now with more DANGER!

It's dangerous! It MUST be exciting!

Then, slightly down the shelf, the Spa Science kit:

Now with BUBBLES!

I couldn't find the image on my camera, so this is from Amazon

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Audience responses to Trans Form

By , November 15, 2010 4:56 pm

Two delightful emails from audience members. Trans Form runs through December 5, and tickets are available online.

“Your story really touched me, because I could relate to so many of the your experiences, both the positive and the painful. I think what you’re doing is great for our community, and hope that you keep going strong!” – Shannon

“What I really loved about your performance was the honesty. It is a really great piece! In addition, I found your story very compelling.” – Fonda

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