“Israel is the gender-neutral bathroom of my people”

By , February 22, 2012 3:14 pm

I recently spoke to a group of high school students at the synagogue I’d attended growing up, and where I had my Bar Mitzvah. The workshop went really well, and the students seemed receptive and open to what I was saying. I’m speaking next week to a group of seventh grade students, which should be fun, too.

After the workshop, I had a conversation with the friend of mine, Dinah, who runs the youth programming. We were discussing our queer identities, and how those do and don’t mesh with our Jewish identities. I brought up a conversation I’d had over the weekend, in which, while discussing Israel, someone Jewish (Sam) said, “Israel is the only place I’ve ever visited where I haven’t been a minority.”

Dinah agreed with Sam’s sentiment, and said one way she’s explained the importance of Israel to queer friends is in a context many queer people understand. As she put it, “Israel is the gender-neutral bathroom of my people.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that concept, but I’m not sure it rings true for me.

Continue reading '“Israel is the gender-neutral bathroom of my people”'»

Thanks, mom and dad

By , February 20, 2012 11:46 pm

My parents aren’t perfect. I doubt any are. And, yet, I feel pretty lucky to have them. I’ve talked about my coming out experience, and how – even though my parents responded with love – I wish they had responded to my coming out with understanding. With the knowledge to say, “Yup. And this is what we do about that.” I wish there had been things like summer camps for trans youth, or conferences for their families, or books for parents, or any of the things that have really come to light in the last decade or so. At the same time, I feel lucky and fortunate to have the parents I do.

I was reminded about this when my mom sent me a link to a Chicago Tribune article titled Study: Family ties cut suicide rate for LGBT youth. In fact, my parents responded on a similar script to what the article suggests:

[One of the study authors] said parents can make a difference. It’s important parents respond with love and acceptance from the moment their child tells them he or she is gay, and that’s true even if parents need time to process the information.

“You can say something like: ‘I’m glad you shared that with me and I love you no matter what. This is new for me and I have to think about it, but I want you to know that I loved you before you told me and I love you now,'” he said.

Continue reading 'Thanks, mom and dad'»

Possible show titles

By , February 15, 2012 11:24 am

Still brainstorming. I’ve posted most of these before, but figured I’d share my thoughts… Here’s the list which eventually resulted in Uncovering the Mirrors.

  • You Say ‘Trans’ Like It’s A Bad Thing
  • Get Cuntfortable
  • Get Uncuntfortable
  • I’m Sorry I Make You Uncomfortable
  • I’m Not Sorry I Make You Uncomfortable
  • Body Topography
  • Vibrators and Vaginoplasty
  • Some Exclusions May Apply
  • This Space Intentionally Left Blank
  • For, Or Resulting From, A Gender Transformation Operation

Any feedback?

Ohhhhh OKCupid – Online dating, sexuality, and self-esteem

By , February 14, 2012 4:06 pm

I have an OK Cupid account. I’m not sure exactly when I signed up, but looking at old email notifications indicate I’ve had a profile for over two years. Online dating, in my mind, isn’t inherently “good” or “bad,” it’s just one more tool available for meeting people. Using it in such an eyes-open way, I’ve gone on a few dates and even had a few relationships lasting a couple of months, but nothing major or super long-term.

My profile explicitly lists that I’m trans:

DISCLOSURE: I am trans. If that’s a problem, don’t message me.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t think I’m under any obligation to provide the above disclaimer. However, I am waaay to lazy to deal with the coming out conversation at this point in my life, so am willing to deal with the ramifications of disclosure.

GEEK: The above disclosures and disclaimers were originally written as HTML-style tags, but OKC apparently edits fake tags out, leading to this final stylistic choice.

And that pretty much says it for me: My disclosure on OKC is as much a result of laziness as of politics. But recently I’ve started using OKC in a different way, as a self-esteem–booster and emotion-explorer. And to do that I’ve done something radical. Something crazy. Something I feel extremely conflicted about and am continually second-guessing. I’ve changed my profile from ‘Lesbian’ to ‘Bisexual.’

Continue reading 'Ohhhhh OKCupid – Online dating, sexuality, and self-esteem'»

In defense of awkwardness

By , February 8, 2012 2:16 pm

When my brother graduated from college, I was just finishing my freshman year at Northwestern. With one or two exceptions, I was closeted to most of my college friends. (Or is it “closeted with?” ACT tutoring is messing with my head. What’s the proper idiom?) My first major negative experience with a therapist – the one who told me I “probably wasn’t trans” – had scared me away from seeking medical or therapeutic help in figuring out my trans identity. I was still figuring a lot of things out, something which is probably true for most college freshmen.

A moment of my visit to my brother’s graduation sticks out in memory, and still occasionally gets me ribbed by family members. We were at a restaurant in town, my family and I, celebrating my brother’s impending  graduation. People were ordering drinks, and someone (probably my dad) made it clear I could have an alcoholic drink, too, should I so desire. So while everyone around me ordered beer or wine, I ordered a rum and coke.

Looking back, the reason I did it (and the reason my family finds it funny) is because I didn’t understand that there was a difference between beer or wine and mixed drinks. So while I probably could have ordered beer or wine without incident, ordering a rum and coke was cause for conversation.

Remembering all this still makes me a little embarrassed, because I hate not knowing how to behave. A big part of my transition has involved figuring out how to behave, how to present, how to interact, how to identify. And a big part of my hesitation around transitioning stemmed from not wanting to feel like I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know how to do something, not wanting to feel like I didn’t understand. Continue reading 'In defense of awkwardness'»

Full Disclosure

By , February 6, 2012 10:29 am

This past Friday night, I performed at a bar in Chicago as part of CAKE Chicago. The show contained some new material, and was a really positive experience. I performed for about 20 minutes, prior to two bands and a stand-up comedian. During my performance, the audience was silent. Quiet as the most formal theater experience I’ve been a part of. I consider this – in a bar – to be one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. I also had quite a bit of positive feedback, as well as a few comments that got me thinking about disclosure.

I disclose a lot about myself. (SEE: The blog you are reading right at this very moment.) My performance pieces may not be entirely disclosure-based – there’s some storytelling and fantasy, too – but they are entirely built around my experiences with gender and identity. I’m speaking to a class of middle school students soon, and it’ll be about on the same topic. I fully and completely appreciate disclosure as a cathartic, rewarding, and empowering act.

And yet certain types of disclosure – the type of disclosure that my brand of self-narrative work apparently evokes in certain people – makes me quite uncomfortable.

Continue reading 'Full Disclosure'»

Cut it open. Push it up.

By , February 2, 2012 2:49 pm

Here’s what I’d like you to do:

  1. Cut open my penis.
  2. Remove the spongey erectile tissue. Make sure to leave the nerves and blood supply intact! We’ll need those!
  3. Invert all that stuff up into my pelvic cavity.
  4. Use that tissue and blood supply to make me a brand new clit.
  5. Shorten my urethra – won’t be standing up to pee anymore!
  6. Take the extra scrotal tissue and shape me a good labia.

Perfect! Now that’s what I want to see when I look in the mirror. Continue reading 'Cut it open. Push it up.'»

Health. Care. Healthcare.

By , February 1, 2012 12:32 pm

Is there a difference between health care and healthcare? Between caring for one’s health and being subjected to the medical establishment, the industry of health, the clinical experience? Is there – or should there be – such a thing as queer healthcare?

“When was your last period?”

“Do you think you might be pregnant?”

“What medication are you on? Are you on birth control?”

Those questions, most recently (and repeatedly) asked when I was in the hospital in 2010 to get my gallbladder removed. Doctors came in and asked. Nurses came in and asked. More doctors. More nurses.

To some extent, I accept the medical necessity of such questions. From one perspective, they’re affirming: the person asking assumes I’m a cisgender woman, complete with uterus, ovaries, and the ability to menstruate and get pregnant. From another perspective, they’re oppressive: they are making assumptions about my body, my identity. And for trans men, the opposite may be true: they may be menstruating, pregnant, have gynecological problems that doctors won’t or don’t know how to acknowledge and treat.

Fitting in makes other people’s lives easier. We live in a culture that says “You can be anything you want! If you can dream it, you can do it! Reach for the stars!” But when you’ve reached, when you’ve become that thing you want, can only be that thing. Not more than one thing. Not one thing one day, and something else the next. Self identification is one thing, but ambiguity (perceived or real) is something else entirely.

Continue reading 'Health. Care. Healthcare.'»

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