Category: gender

David Bowie’s Throwback Thursday

By , December 4, 2014 2:24 pm

Earlier this week I caught the David Bowie Is exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibit was totally worth going to, although at $25 was a little pricey. Still, I’d recommend it. That’s not what this post is about, though.

One of the (many) awesome songs from Bowie’s discography is Rebel Rebel:

Hearing the opening guitar on that song immediately takes me back to the late ’90s and to Boys Don’t Cry.

Continue reading 'David Bowie’s Throwback Thursday'»

Signal boost: ‘Reflection,’ a short film

By , March 18, 2014 3:28 pm

I recently got an email from the associate producer, Sunday, of a short film, Reflection, asking me to check out the trailer. The film is described as “an honest look at what it means to be a parent to LGBTQ youth. This is a story of a mother and her enduring influence on her child’s life, and that despite her wishes for a ‘normal kid’, her love and understanding makes all the difference.” In her email, Sunday expanded on that description, saying that the film is “about a young single mother struggling to raise a 8-year-old gender non-conforming child. Despite her frustrations, she comes to terms with accepting her child’s transgender identity, ultimately realizing that her love for her son trumps all of her fears.” Here’s the trailer:

Reflection Trailer from Noka Productions on Vimeo. Continue reading 'Signal boost: ‘Reflection,’ a short film'»

“Female-bodied” is a circular term and should be retired

By , February 3, 2014 3:26 pm

I was a guest speaker at a class of seventh graders last week. I was able to arrive a little early, and had a chance to listen in on the prep work the teachers were doing. The conversation was great, and was being led well. At some point, however, I heard a pair of phrases I’ve heard before – one I’m sure we’ve all heard a million times – “female-bodied” and “male-bodied.” They’ve never been my favorite terms, as I think that either (fe)male-assigned-at-birth or cis (depending on what you actually mean) are more specific. But thinking about my own body, particularly since surgery, made me realize the term “(fe)male-bodied” should be retired.

Continue reading '“Female-bodied” is a circular term and should be retired'»

I’m scared

By , October 10, 2013 6:03 pm

DISCLAIMER: I am not interested in people telling me “it’s going to be OK.” I know it’s going to be OK. Likewise, I am perfectly capable of talking myself down from any and all of the below-listed fears. And I realize that – while none of them are stupid – they’re all perfectly normal and will pass as I go through them and come out the other side . But this specific post is about my expressing and processing my fears, not being told “it’s going to be OK.” So please resist the urge. The only exceptions to that request are:

  1. You are providing a link to someone else’s experiences around actually having surgery
  2. You yourself have had a vaginoplasty (or comparable, major, trans-related surgery) and are willing to talk about it

Put another way, this post is not about you trying to make me feel better. I appreciate the sentiment, but now isn’t the time.

That’s out of the way. On to the post itself.

Last week, I attended (and did a reading at) the launch of Spider Teeth, a zine by ellie june navidson. ellie and I aren’t super close, but we’re friends and I’m a big fan of her as a person, an artist, and an activist. The zine is about her experiences around having surgery in Thailand during the spring of 2013, with pieces written in present-tense around the lead-up, surgery itself, recovery, and in the months since. It talks about the politics, emotions, physical experiences, and more. The other night, ellie read some selections from the zine, but I didn’t have a chance to sit down and give it the attention it deserved until a few days ago.

It’s awesome. Beautiful, well-written, and perhaps the best piece of writing I’ve ever seen about “the surgery.”  (This post isn’t a review of the zine, but I’ll give one anyway: Go buy it. Find a way to track down ellie, give her money, and get a copy.) It also brought up a lot of my fears, many of which I’ve been giving lip service to (“Of course I’m scared!”) but hadn’t really sat down and inhabited.

Continue reading 'I’m scared'»

Trans attraction and fetishization – are we ‘real’ men and women, or not?

By , October 3, 2013 4:03 pm

An op-ed from The Advocate has been making the rounds today, My Attraction to Trans People Is Not a Fetish, by  Diane Anderson-Minshall. From the piece:

“…few women understand how [women] can be attracted to trans men and not be straight. I don’t know; sometimes there’s a beauty trans men exude that I am drawn to, like the dozens of lesbians before them.

Does that make me a fetishist? No. I think that just like your sexual orientation makes you attracted to men or women or both, my sexual orientation makes me attracted to trans men, trans women, and nontrans women.” (Emphasis added)

I’ve thought a lot about what it means to have a fetish, versus a predilection or a leaning-towards or a simple interest. So have lots of trans women I know; underlying our relationships is far too often the question, “Is this person attracted to me, or to me being trans?” So I use a rule of thumb about fetish-versus-not. I’ve heard others use it, including Dan Savage on his podcast. It’s pretty simple:

Are you attracted to me, as a person first and foremost? Or are you attracted to me, as a trans person, first and foremost?

Continue reading 'Trans attraction and fetishization – are we ‘real’ men and women, or not?'»

I Like Being Trans: Missing out on Childhood Socialization, Femininity, and the dreaded Patriarchy

By , September 15, 2013 3:07 pm

Earlier this week, I was on the L (or is it the El?) on my way to a teaching gig. We’d already traveled south past Belmont and Fullerton, and had descended into the subway system. Somewhere around Clark and Division, a strikingly attractive woman got on the train. I tried to take her in, without being too obvious about it: She had long smooth legs that ascended up into tight jean shorts, a plain white t-shirt filled out by full breasts, and a bright-eyed face framed by long blond hair. No specific part of her was noteworthy, but as a whole she unintentionally drew attention to herself, simply by existing. She parked herself, standing, next to the L doors. I sat a few seats in, facing her. I focused on my music, on the lights wooshing by, on the CTA announcements through the PA system.

At Chicago and State, there were a clump of CTA workers standing on the platform, all in their bright orange uniforms. One saw her, did a stereotypical construction worker up-and-down take, and waved.

She ignored him.

He tried again, calling out, “You’re beautiful.”

This, at least, received a tepid smile and a nod, before she turned away.

The construction worker smiled to his coworkers, gesturing back at the train and speaking animatedly as it pulled away from the station.
Continue reading 'I Like Being Trans: Missing out on Childhood Socialization, Femininity, and the dreaded Patriarchy'»

The Chicago Manual of Style on ‘they’ as a gender neutral pronoun

By , July 15, 2013 3:58 pm

After a Facebook post on how to properly use ‘they’ as a singular pronoun, a few friends suggested I email the Chicago Manual of Style and pitch the question to them. So I did! Here’s my question:

An increasing number of LGBT individuals use gender neutral pronouns. While some people use entirely new constructs (ze/hir/hirs as a replacement for he/him/his or she/her/hers) some use ‘they’ as a ready-made gender neutral pronoun. My question, then, is how to properly use ‘they’ as a individual pronoun. If I were to write about a person using masculine pronouns, I could say, “He is at the store.” If it was a group of people, I could say, “They are at the store.” For a gender neutral person, should I say “They are at the store” (which uses ‘are’ for an individual) or “They is at the store” (which seems problematic)?

Thanks for your help!

And their response:

The growing acceptance of “they” as a plural is in response to a need for a gender-neutral pronoun that avoids the use of “he” to mean “he or she.” This usage is a hot topic regularly discussed in this and other online grammar forums.

By traditional grammar standards, such usage is incorrect when a sentence contains no plural noun for “they” to refer to. Often it’s easy to change the referent to the plural so that “they” is grammatically correct (e.g., change “The student should hand in their homework on time” to “Students should hand in their homework on time”), but in some sentences the plural is not a good option: “Someone parked in my space, and they’d better watch out!” In those contexts, many grammar experts now approve of the use of “they,” although it is still discouraged in formal writing.

“They is” has not yet made progress as a grammatical construction.

You can learn more by Googling “singular they.”

Thank you for writing–

So it sounds like ‘they are’ is the proper usage, even if the ‘they’ in question is singular. This response doesn’t really address the specifics of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun, but my understanding – in spite of what some naysayers claim – is that such usage has a solid historical grounding. And traditional grammar standards need to catch up to the reality of lived experience! 🙂

Skinny Dipping While Trans

By , June 25, 2013 8:48 pm

I’ve had two back-to-back weekends of excitement and absurdity, with lots to reflect upon. The first was Philly Trans Health, and I wrote some initial thoughts on that experience. Lots more to write about, though. Then, this past weekend, I attended Lakes of Fire, a yearly regional Burning Man fest in Michigan.

Some background on that: Burning Man is the big yearly festival in Nevada. It draws tens of thousands of people, and – not surprisingly – has resulted in Burner communities springing up around the country. Some of those Burners then organize regional mini-burns, like Lakes of Fire, which are supposed to hold to the same ethos and general experience of Burning Man, but on a much smaller scale. I was invited to Lakes of Fire by a few friends I trust, all of whom are peripherally involved in the Chicago Burner scene. None of these identify full-on as Burners, but all enjoy the community to a greater or lesser extent, and I trusted them when they said they thought I’d enjoy Lakes of Fire.

I ultimately did have a great time at LOF, and am still doing some major processing on the experience. I’ll have lots more to write in the coming weeks, I’m sure, but wanted to start things off with a post linking something I thought about at both PTHC and LOF: Nudity, and it’s place as a social and political act.

Continue reading 'Skinny Dipping While Trans'»

Wish list for a partner

By , June 3, 2013 7:18 pm

I was recently listening to the Sex Nerd Sandra podcast, specifically the one with Joan Price. One of the things Joan mentioned was the idea of making a wish list for a partner, to help figure out what things are important when considering a relationship. In particular, she suggested thirty items, divided evenly into three categories:

  1. Mandatory, Must-Have, Can’t Live Without
  2. Pretty Darn Important, But I Have Some Flexibility
  3. As Long As I’m Asking, It’d Be Nice If…

I figured writing my own list along those lines couldn’t hurt, so here I go. These lists aren’t in a specific order, but they’re generally from most important to least important. Don’t hold me to that, though. Likewise, I’m not gonna force myself to get to ten in each category. Bla bla bla, disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer. Continue reading 'Wish list for a partner'»

Fear of being overpowered and raped

By , May 27, 2013 3:47 pm

There was a lot of flirting occurring at the party I attended Saturday evening. I don’t mean me specifically, it was just one of those evenings where everyone was a little loopy and friendly and flirtatious. Compliments and winks and playful smiles were being flung all around, and I was certainly doing my part to add to the vibe. But I mostly limited my flirting to the other women who were there. Not exclusively – I definitely I enjoyed flirting with some of the guys. But I was always more reserved with them; I would catch myself unconsciously leaning away from the same behavior that – in a woman – I would have leaned into. I wasn’t feeling any pressure, I had no worry for my safety, but that reaction was still there.

I thought about this reaction quite a bit on Sunday. I still identify as being primarily interested in women, but have moved from describing myself as gay or lesbian to simply ‘queer.’ Bi doesn’t seem to fit right, nor do pan or omnisexual, and saying “I’m about a four or four and a half on the Kinsey scale” is perhaps awkward. But I like guys. I enjoy flirting with guys. I enjoy dancing with guys. I enjoy having sex with guys. (Perhaps more accurate would be to say, “I enjoy having sex. Period.”) But there’s still discomfort. Hesitation. Nervousness. Unconsciously leaning away from a man who is flirting with me.

Following some of this self-reflection, I had a great talk with a friend about my reaction. I realized that part of it stems from a feeling of discomfort around having explicit conversations about consent with men, in a way I don’t feel with women.  Continue reading 'Fear of being overpowered and raped'»

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