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Posts tagged: queer
Finally recovering from my miserable cold, and hoping to get back to a regular posting schedule. During my illness, I took time to watch lots of Netflix streaming movies: Sleepless in Seattle (how had I not seen this movie before?!), some European subtitled lesbian coming-of-age stories of varying artistic merit, and the most recent (and some say final) ‘real’ Disney animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog.
I was skeptical going into this movie. I grew up with the ‘Disney Renaissance,’ and was raised on films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Needless to say, I have high expectations for my animated musical Disney films. I was also nervous about the race issues surrounding Disney’s first black princess. Fortunately, The Princess and the Frog surprised me: the songs were good, the animation quality high, and while it mostly sidestepped issues of race (particularly interracial interactions in the 1920s American South) there were occasional nods to racism. I don’t feel well-versed enough in race theory to really comment, other than to say that – as an admittedly privileged white woman – I enjoyed the film.
What really threw me for a loop was the issues of ‘passing’ brought up by the alligator, Louis.
I recently saw a group come up on a friend’s Facebook wall, We Are All Queer:
Remember, friends, when 9/11 happened, and people around the world said, “We are all New Yorkers.” Well, I want to start a movement where heteros stand beside our LGBT sisters and brothers and declare, “We are all queer.”
If I were an adult during the 60s, I would have been fighting alongside my black sisters and brothers. I don’t know about you, but I cannot take it any more. How many more kids have to die before we stand in defiance of what we all know i…s wrong? How many more human beings around the world have to suffer ostracization and torture before we stand up and declare, “We are all queer.”
This shit’s pissing me off. Time to end this. Are you with me?
Here’s my response: Continue reading '“We are all queer!” Really?'»
I don’t expect the mainstream media to get queer topics right, particularly when it comes to anything about gender or trans issues. Take, for example, this recent article at NBC LA:
A Pomeranian puppy who has the unusual distinction of having undergone a sex change will be given a home next week.
The puppy, named Red, is recovering after gender-reassignment surgery saved the dog from euthanasia. The dog was born with partially formed male and female reproductive organs and required surgery to prevent infection and reduce the risk of cancer.
Lets go through this one by one…
1. The dog isn’t trans. I have yet to see evidence that dogs have any sort of gender identity. Rather, it sounds as if the dog is intersex, having “intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male.” Transgender != intersex.
Earlier this week, a few friends and I chilled on my apartment roof, drinking wine. It was a beautiful night, and I’ve come to love going up around 9PM, when the sunlight is fading and the stars are beginning to come out. (I’ll try and get a pic one of these days, but I usually only have my phone up with me and it doesn’t do good low-light photography.)
The discussion was pretty wide-ranging, from a male birth control pill (both of my friends were hesitant, but interested) to the appropriate way to play first base (close to the bag, apparently). We also talked about our experiences still being in Chicago (or being back in Chicago) after having grown up in the area, and our various social groups.
Then the topic of my transition came up, I think from of discussing my upcoming show, and it was interesting to hear some perspectives from people who have known me since early high school.
I’ve had a link sitting in my ‘To Write About’ folder for a while: Reclaiming trans sexualities: A personal manifesto of sorts, from over at Questioning Transphobia. I’ve been wanting to respond to it, but haven’t been sure where to start. The post itself talks about the tangled relationship between the sexual and the political for many trans people:
When I began talking [about what I liked doing, sexually] I didn’t discuss the things lovers have done I’ve really liked or dynamics which I find hot, instead I found myself explaining my sometimes difficult relationship with cissexual queer women as a group and as individuals, the fucked-up attitudes about trans women I’ve encountered in various communities, the mistrust I have because of the history trans women have with cissexual queers – all of the things I write about and do activism on which intersect with sex, but I had nothing to say about the actual sex I have or would like to have. I stopped myself and apologized for not answering the question, then sat back to consider this sudden disheartening awareness of how deeply my sexuality is entangled with the politics in which I am active.
This spoke to me because of what I’ve felt recently as an uphill climb toward finding a relationship. First, I’ve been socialized in the rituals of straight sexuality. I didn’t buy into them for myself, but I did end up with a peer group that is almost exclusively straight and cis. So while I see friends all around me meeting people, hooking up with people, being introduced to friends of friends, I feel kind of left out.
At some point in college, my high school friends and I constructed a ‘sex map.’ I think we used dotted lines for making out or hooking up, and solid lines for sex.
I was the lone dot.
I did end up sending an email to my friends, along the lines of what I discussed in this post:
This is kind of an uncomfortable email for me to write, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about and need to address:
Please don’t out me. That is, please don’t tell people I’m trans.
I love you all. I’ve said this over and over again: I’m privileged, blessed, and really fucking lucky to be surrounded by friends like you. In a world that isn’t too kind to people outside the norm, you all pretty much shrugged your shoulders when I came out. Not because it wasn’t important to me, but because it didn’t change our friendships. I really value that. I love being able to have conversations and debates, to share joy and sorrow, with people who I’ve known for years, and who have known me.
But staying in Chicago after high school and college has also made transitioning occasionally more work than I’d like. To pick a really easy example, I went to the bank yesterday and the teller was the mom of someone I went to elementary school with (and not someone I particularly cared for, at that). She knew she sort of recognized me, but totally didn’t know how to respond to my presentation as Rebecca. It wasn’t a problem, and she was respectful, but it kind of threw me out of my stride to have to say, “Yeah, I’m going by Rebecca now…” Even though I love Chicago, and am glad I’ve stuck around, having to be reminded of that pre- and post-transition disconnect takes its toll.
Continue reading 'You don’t get to out me'»
It has been quite a while since I’ve done a post on trans fiction, hasn’t it! The LGBT literary site Lamnda Literary had a post a while back by Cheryl Morgan titled Is There, or Should There Be, Such a Thing as ‘Trans Lit’? The post has lots of interesting links to authors who have written on or about trans issues, including links to various trans comics and trans fiction sites. (Some of which I’ve linked to from this blog, and some of which I’d never seen before. Check out both the main post and the comments.)
But I have to admit, I was (and am) a little confused by the question Morgan is asking. It seems self evident – even in the links within her post, not to mention those in the comments – that there is trans literature being generated. (Morgan seems to define ‘trans lit’ as ‘fiction,’ a definition I don’t have any problems with.) More broadly, she seems to be creating divisions where none need be:
Yet what would “trans literature” be like? When we talk about the literature of an identity group we mean that members of the group want to read about people like themselves. African-Americans want books with African-American protagonists; lesbians want books with lesbian protagonists; and so on. But the trans community is very diverse, and different parts of it have very different needs. Cross-dressers, for example, often read, and write, erotic fantasies about cross-dressing. Pre-transition transsexuals reportedly read memoirs and theory voraciously in order to find out if transition is right for them, and how to survive it. Post transition, however, they often settle happily into their preferred gender and have no further need for trans books. They are often content identifying with characters of their preferred gender and don’t want to be reminded of what they see as a painful past life.
Those who regard themselves as in a third gender, as gender-free or gender-fluid, and those who are intersex, will probably want books about people like themselves. Obviously there is a real need for a literature for them. However, they are only a part of the trans community (and apologies to any of them who do not want to be regarded as part of it), so the market is even smaller.
I’ve been feeling queer this week. Unfortunately I don’t mean the good queer, of self-identification, pride, and a sense of community. I don’t mean queer. I’ve felt that way at times, and it’s definitely a feeling I want to foster and help grow. But right now, I’m feeling queer as in strange, odd, other. Like I don’t fit.
I think it’s something that’s been building all week. As I’m working on my show, I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity as trans, and the transition, and it’s reminded me how straight and heteronormative most of my friends are. Obviously that’s not a bad thing, but it’s made me feel a little alone being trans, let alone gay. We were watching How I Met Your Mother (a show that I’ve had issues with before) and they did yet another “man in drag as stand-in for ugly woman in a fantasy” sequence. The sequence wasn’t specifically about trans women, and there was no mention of “she’s a man” (as there has been more explicitly in the past), but it still made me upset. I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up on How I Met Your Mother, but I felt closer to calling it quits than I have before. (I know, I know, not watching a TV show isn’t exactly a huge deal, but it’s a show my roommate s and I watch together, and I’m the only one who has issues with it, so it’s feeding into my feeling queer.)
Then, on Wednesday, I went to a trans youth group in Chicago. I’ve been going off and on for over a year, and it’s – on the whole – been a positive experience. But I feel closer to the facilitators than I do to the other youth (the facilitators aren’t tons older than me). And I feel really bad saying this, but I sometimes think I’m the only youth coming to this group who has their shit together. That is, I know I’m super privileged – don’t have debt, have a full-time job, accepting friends and family and coworkers – and I’m definitely not faulting any of the other youth for having a harder situation than I do. But it also makes me feel like I don’t have much in common with them.
As I said, I’m also processing a lot as I try and get my show together. I’ve thought a lot about the idea of transitioning as being a teenager (self-discovery, figuring out identity and presentation, etc) and I don’t want to be a teenager anymore. I don’t have the time to be a teenager, and I feel stupid trying on new identities and modes of self-presentation to see what fits.
I also feel like all my posts this week have been whiny and obnoxious…
A few nights ago, I went to a party for a friend of mine, made up mostly of people I didn’t know. I was talking with one of them, a guy about my age, and we were chatting about theatre, living in Chicago, and so on. I mentioned I was working on a solo performance piece and he seemed super interested. Then, when I said it was about my identity as a queer woman, it felt like he pretty quickly extracted himself from the conversation.
This afternoon I was assistant teaching for a high school theatre class. Another teacher was leading a guest workshop and called for a boy and a girl to get on stage for an awkward “I want to ask them out, but feel too scared” improvised scene. The scene was actually really adorable, and she made some really effective calls that I’ll have to remember. Yet, part of me couldn’t help but feeling disappointed in having to watch my students portray a relationship that I would never be a part of, and remembering how it felt in high school to have to play that part 24/7.
I just got home from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a Chicago theatrical institution, and one of the plays referenced Caster Semenya, and not in a complimentary way. I’ve always considered Too Much Light to be this great, liberal company filled with awesome, progressive artists who I want to be -slash- have crushes on, so it was really disappointing (not to mention a little hurtful) to hear “Maybe she’s not really a woman, like that South African athlete!” used as an insult. (Even if, for the record, I don’t think the actors or play’s authors actually think that. But repeating bigotry you don’t believe in isn’t an automatic out.)
I’m feeling like I’m a little overly sensitive, and wanting to feel included instead of othered.