Posts tagged: gender

What does it mean to be a boy?

By , December 8, 2010 1:37 pm

So at my topless debut, I had some sheets of paper out asking people to describe what it means to be a boy or a girl, and to list reasons why those descriptions were sometimes wrong. I finally have a spare moment to do some writing, so I figured I’d share. First up: What does it mean to be a boy?

  • Showing balls, sometimes more than nature gave you
  • Pee standing up
  • Can write your name in the snow
  • To NOT always let your penis do the talking
  • To play basketball and masturbate in the bathtub
  • I get to sleep on her red splotchy sheets!
  • Boys get to be dirty
  • What makes you most happy
  • Boys are DIRECT! LOVE THAT!
  • Having sensitive ego
  • I have to/get to put together things like bookshelves
  • Dad eats the creepy candy at Halloween – black licorice, things with coconut, etc
  • Puberty means wet dreams until DEATH!

And, of course, someone drew a penis.

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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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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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Gender in theatre classes

By , November 9, 2010 2:00 pm

One of my primary sources of income is teaching theatre classes to middle- and high-schoolers. I really enjoy it, and I firmly believe that it allows for self-expression and the development of interpersonal skills, two things that are important for all professions, in all walks of life. We – the other directors and I – are in the process of picking the stories we would like to work on with our high school students. The end goal is a performance in March, consisting of four ~20 minute pieces and some improvised scene and story work.

As I was observing the story workshops this year, I kept a particular eye out for the relationship scenes present in a few of the stories being examined. Inevitably, they all involved male/female relationships, just as they have in the past. But this year, much more than in years past, it really bugged me.

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Scales of Outness

By , October 22, 2010 10:41 pm

Coming out of the closet isn't always easy...

There’s a post, Out Open, Closed, and In, at The Spectrum Cafe, that caught my attention. It’s about the spectrum of ‘outness’ trans people can choose to have: Out, Open, Blended, Closed, In, and Stealth. Dyssonance’s full definitions in her post, but briefly:

  • Out – someone who makes a point to have ‘trans’ as part of their identity
  • Open – someone who is willing to discuss their trans status, but not go out of their way to highlight it
  • Blended – “[being trans] is a non issue — something that isn’t a topic for discussion unless the discussion is specifically relating to something important for themselves”
  • Closed – “They don’t want people to know they are trans, and usually being closed is more a matter of simply not having had control and being put into a position that prevents them from being In”
  • In – “In folks are what we have long called “stealth” — but stealth carries with it connotations of hiding, of deception, of intrigue…”

It’s an interesting scale, and I’d agree more useful than simply saying someone is Out or Stealth.

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“Transgender clothing”?

By , September 15, 2010 8:06 pm
ACNE "transgender" models

The photo from both articles

I don’t expect much from the New York Daily News, but still… They’re reporting that “The Swedish clothing brand ACNE is launching a new collection aimed at transgender consumers.” Except the NY Daily News is reporting on a Vogue UK story, which actually says, “ACNE has joined forces with Candymagazine to launch a new collection targeted at transvestites and cross-dressers.” (Emphasis added.)

Being trans is not (necessarily) the same thing as being a transvestite or cross-dresser!

But my frustrations are a little deeper than that.

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A delightful hookup

By , September 13, 2010 4:47 pm

Of the many fun things about the Fringe Festival, a great part was meeting a ton of people. Artists, volunteers, festival-goers, I got a chance to chat with ’em all. And, by happy coincidence, the venue I performed in was particularly queer-heavy, both in the subject of its performances and in its volunteer staff.

One of the people I met, we’ll call her E, expressed interest in getting drinks or coffee with me after the festival. I said I’d like to, because E is a cool person and I need more queer friends, but I definitely had the thought in the back of my mind that this might be asking me out on a date. Since I’d be happy either way – date or friendly socialization – I didn’t bother asking E to clarify. We set up a time and place to meet on Saturday night, and I tried not to over-think things. (“Things” being whether or not this was a date, what I was going to wear, how much makeup I needed, noticing while walking to the bar that – oh bugger – I forgot to put any on, and so on.)

When we met at the bar, E bought us both drinks and left her card with the bartender. I figured this was a good sign, but still tried not to over-think things. She then pulled out my chair for me and helped me remove my coat, at which point the signs became a little more clear. We chatted for the next hour or so, talking about the Fringe Festival, our previous and future artistic projects, our experiences living in Chicago, the ridiculous drunken people walking past the window; all the things you chat about with someone when you’re enjoying their company, getting to know them, and getting a little tipsy.

As we both worked on our third drinks (mine: a vodka cranberry, hers: a dirty martini) I realized I had almost reached the bottom of my glass while E had barely touched hers.  “E,” I asked, “are you trying to get me drunk?”

She looked at me. “Yes.”

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Seen sound town

By , August 29, 2010 10:16 am

In my ‘hood of Andersonville.


Down the street

Two weeks till Fringe, and The Land of Gender

By , August 18, 2010 12:27 pm

Two weeks from today will be opening night for Uncovering the Mirrors at the Chicago Fringe Festival. Please buy your tickets today or find it in your heart to donate!

As a teaser, here’s some text from my upcoming show:

The Land of Gender, part one

Once upon a time there was a complex and mysterious land: the Land of Gender.
Gender was a dense place, thick with hidden secrets. The terrain was unknowable, the wilderness untamed: brambly groves, swirling rivers, deep canyons, towering forests. The Land resisted any attempt to understand or define it.

Explorers embarked on great journeys to survey Gender, to make sense of its breadth and variety. Because the terrain had an infinite number of vistas – expansive deserts, lofty mountains, cresting oceans – each explorer came away from the Land of Gender with a different understanding of the landscape. But none of these vantage points proved any more complete or detailed than any other; no explorer had any better view of Gender than any other.

For untold ages, attempting to put the Land of Gender to paper, to capture its shape, was impossible. Cartography was useless, inadequate. The land refused to be charted or unified by a singular map. It continued to exist in only the experiences of those who ventured into the unknowns, their disparate accounts and partial understandings.

While most explorers were content with the mysteries and fluidity of the Land of Gender, one explorer in particular wished desperately to strip the Land of its relentlessness. Where other explorers would enjoy the mysteries of the Land of Gender, this explorer found fear and panic.  And so He set about developing a map which could measure, manage, and master the Land of Gender once and for all.


By , June 28, 2010 7:19 pm

Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha-milah. Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu lihach-neeso bivreito shel Avraham aveenu.

Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and has given us the command concerning circumcision. Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and hast commanded us to make our sons enter the covenant of Abraham our father. (Source)

Eight days after birth, Jewish boys are supposed to be circumcised as part of the covenant between God and Abraham (in Genesis), as specified in Leviticus. In this way, Jewish boys are supposed to continue the line of the Children of Israel, fulfilling the obligations and duties laid out for them in the Torah.

There are no required rituals or ceremonies to mark the birth of a girl.

Circumcision Tools

Snip snip!

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