The Political Necessity of Mathematical Education

The Political Necessity of Mathematical Education.

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Posted in Nerd Stuff, Politics

Of Common Sense

Of Common Sense.

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Five Things: Stuff to Know about Trans* People

Trans*forming Mom did a similar post on her blog, so I asked if I could do a “Five Things” post too and she said “Sure!,” so here I am.  Also, trigger warnings for transphobia and transphobic violence.  (Karen, you probs shouldn’t let your son read this unless he’s in a very stable mental state today.)

  1. We are human.  Ergo, we can sometimes act like assholes, and this is in no way related to our gender identities.  (Or if it is, it’s because we’re extremely dysphoric that day or you don’t understand the importance of respecting our pronouns.)  We have school and jobs and families and people to deal with, and that causes as much or more stress as it does to a cis person, with proportional results.  Our trans* status does not excuse us, but it also doesn’t make us even more culpable.  (Except possibly in the case of internalized transphobia or homophobia, or [to a lesser extent] ignorance about trans* issues and terminology.  And then it’s just like “wtf man?”)  On a related note, it’s never okay to ask about our genitals or sex lives, and we will “act like assholes to cis allies”/flip out and be justifiably insulted if you do so.  We know you’re curious about “how do trans ppl have hte sex,” but effing google it.  We don’t ask you “how do cis ppl have hte sex,” after all.  That’s what RedTube is for.
  2. “Cis” is not a slur.  It’s an abbreviation of a technical term meaning “not transgender.”  And if you try to say “why do I have to be called ‘cis’ doesn’t that just mean normal,” we will give you the stink eye.  Being trans* is not “abnormal.”  It’s unusual, yes, but it is just one of the rarer of the normal variations of human existence.  And if we’re in a nice mood, we’ll tell you that instead of just flipping you the bird or quickly leaving your general vicinity.  Also, the “die cis scum” thing was made up by transphobes to justify not having to show us basic human respect.  If you actually search it, you won’t find anything but made-up caricatures of trans* people.
  3. No one transitions to “stop being gay.”  In fact, according to data from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, only 23% of trans* people actually identify as straight.  Perhaps another 10% might count as straight under the highly problematic definitions of “attracted to the binary gender opposite to the binary gender closest to their identity” or “asexual but heteroromantic.”  23% are gay, 25% are bisexual, 2% are “other,” and 23% identify as “queer,” a response whose meanings can range from “hell if I know” to “I mostly like girls but OMG John Barrowman’s chin” to “basing attraction on binary sex/gender is pretty effed up anyway” to “I’m nonbinary so it’s technically impossible for me to be either gay or straight.”
  4. We’re extremely underrepresented.  According to some estimates, transgender people may be as prevalent as 1 in 250.  So why, outside of porn, are the only widely-known living trans* people (that I can think of) Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Lana Wachowski, Andrea Gibson, and (and this is highly stretching it) RuPaul?  Who outside the queer community even knows of Sylvia Rivera, Leslie Feinberg, and Kate Bornstein?  Do they know more about Matthew Shepard than about Brandon Teena, or the thousands of TWOC who have fallen victim to transphobic rapes or murders?  We need our own media, but we don’t have it.  HuffPost Gay Voices is supposedly the #1 US LGBT newspage, but its “transgender” subpage is a glorified tag search which turns up about 3 substantive articles per month.  Our lack of media representation, plus high levels of familial and societal transphobia, can make us feel very alone.  In real life, I only know 2 trans* people who are out of college, and one of them I met before they graduated; online, about half a dozen, and few of them very well.  We have no fathers or mothers to talk to; it’s like being orphaned just before puberty.
  5. The only place we are better represented is in hate crimes statistics, where trans* people are murdered at a 50% higher rate than the rest of the queer community, despite being about one-eighth its size.  I will count myself extremely lucky if I live past 40 and die a natural death.  This despite having white and (trans)masculine privilege, and living in a liberal area.  Perhaps this is also part of why it’s so hard to find trans* mentors.  A large number of potential ones are directly or indirectly killed first.

So this is a highly emic perspective, and it’s not a pretty one.  We’re scared all the time; our language usually doesn’t even acknowledge our existence; laws are structured, sometimes out of malice but most often out of negligence, so that it’s almost impossible for us to exist without committing crimes.  I almost don’t want to publish this; it’s that grim.  But if nobody knows, how will it ever change?

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Posted in Politics, Queer Life, Queer Stuff

New theme

As you can see, I’ve changed my blog theme.  It was good while it lasted, but as this blog evolved from the personal to the academic (as it seems do all things I touch), I needed a more professional theme; the notepad and the bright colors started to seem a bit childish.  I may add a tasteful photo in semi-transparent pastels to the header or left gutter, but that’s a project for after classes settle down.  However, I’ve found a program called FireAlpaca which has an interface much like MS Paint but a functionality about 50 times better, and my roommate has offered to let me borrow her drawing tablet.  I’ve also just edited my About page and made a new page on gender-neutral pronouns.  Due to a slight technical majority on my poll (and I would really appreciate it if more than 4 people voted on that in the next few days), I will probably create a separate poetry blog and convert my Poetry page to a link.

Now the bad news.  I lost my flash drive.  The one I had all my stuff from last year on.  I can probably recover all or most of my coursework from my email, due to the Bryn Mawr custom of emailing papers to one’s professors, but all the creative writing is lost.  This is mostly a very bad journal, but also a multi-page Homestuck fanfic, some assorted prose I cannot remember (I suspect most of it exists on my blog), the anti-Romney Catullus parody that I posted all over two Classics departments but am not sure I still have a hard copy of, and at least two very good sonnets that I wrote during The Episode after last fall break.

Also lost is all my research and notes for the ACT UP post.  That’s about 10 pages of notes, at least, and it will take several hours to re-read and re-note all of that.  I am really sorry to have to say this, but I don’t think I’ll be able to publish it until late September or early October.  Guess I’ll have it done in time for Outweek, at least.

Instead, in the next few days I will write a post about what are 5 things I want cis people to know about transgender people.  I got the idea from Trans*forming Mom (who is also the reason I currently have a binder).  I’ll try not to repeat her too much.  It won’t be a hard post to write; all the “research” is the time I’ve spent living as trans* on Tumblr and at school for the past year.  I should have this posted for Monday.

My personal life:

I’m back at school, I don’t currently have a job because everybody thought that notifying me of times for shift signups was Somebody Else’s Responsibility, Dining Services can’t hire me for at least a week because (ironically) of a policy to prevent the kind of mishap that got me into this situation in the first place from happening to current frosh; and SEO applications don’t have a blank for preferred name.  Meanwhile, I have no money, may not be able to fully pay my tuition (let alone buy textbooks), I gained 10 pounds and my binder is pinching me (and honestly I’m not sure whether it was really big enough in the first place, though it’s WAY better than a sports bra), and half my socks are about to sprout holes.  The dining hall is still letting me swipe in for meals, though, and I can still get into my dorm (the doors lock automatically, and you get in with a swipe card, which can be deactivated).  Also, both my professors and my dean are using my preferred name.  I notified them via a short email, and they’re all cool.

I went through a workshop on navigating the job market, and discovered that a really good career option for me in the next 10 years might be managing organizations’ media presence.  (I’m not changing my blog title yet, though.)  I’m considering an independent double major in Classics and G&S studies.  Or I may just switch to G&S in grad school and meanwhile get some kind of degree in business as well.  (Classics, activism, and marketing:  I still have the same basic career tracks as in 11th grade.  Now how to combine the three….)  In any case, there’s an on-campus job involving online education and media that I’m hoping to get, and I’m going to pitch it to the RenChoir that I could manage their media presence (and maybe get more than 2 dozen people to come to concerts) either for “feed me occasionally” or coffee money–almost like an internship for an independent consultant.  (I can’t ask them for more than that, because they already have to hire a new director.)

It’s 11:30 pm and I have classes in less than 12 hours, so I should finish this post and go to bed, and hope that something works out.  I will post again soon.

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Posted in Blog News, Nerd Stuff, Queer Stuff

Funny Odd Thing, Life….: When History Repeats…


There once was a country that was due to host  the next  Winter Olympic Games.  This nation had worked very hard  to secure the games.

This  nations leader saw it a  matter of both national and personal pride.  His nation  was emerging from  period of  economic  and political upheaval  stemming from  the collapse of its former imperial system and the resulting loss in prestige.

Less than a year  out  from those upcoming games,  this nation passed a host of new laws which specifically targeted  one minority group, painting a picture of this group as a threat to children, the nation, and society at large.   the new laws  stated:

  • Marriages for members of this minority were forbidden.
  • Sexual relations for members of this minority group were either restricted or forbidden.
  • Members of this minority group could be fired from jobs for no reason other than for who they were.
  • Members…

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Posted in Queer Stuff

Blog Announcement

Due to various things such as having to spend most of August with my parents, not having time to go to the still-extant Philly chapter of ACT UP,  and having to return a certain book to the library, the ACT UP tribute post is delayed until around early September.  (Now I can stop feeling guilty about that and maybe make some other posts requiring less research in the meantime.)

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The Impotence of Rage in Post-Post-Racial America

Buzz Cuts and Bustiers

“This is America and I can say what I want.”

I stare intensely down at my salad, as if the perfect retort were hidden somewhere under the leaves and blue cheese dressing. My mother’s voice is stubborn, laced with a proud defiance that one more often hears from the lips of rebellious teenagers. It’s also a bit too loud for the polite restaurant setting, and I shift uncomfortably in my seat, embarrassment seeping in. I think she recognizes it. I think this is why we end up having so many heated conversations in restaurants – she knows it’ll keep me in check.

“You really don’t understand why a white person saying that word is different than a black person saying it?” I ask her, fighting to keep my voice down. My dad watches with interest, but says nothing. “Maybe I should buy you a set of U.S. history books for…

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Posted in Queer Stuff
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