The Political Necessity of Mathematical Education

The Political Necessity of Mathematical Education.

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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

New study finds genderqueer people face unique patterns of abuse and discrimination

New study finds genderqueer people face unique patterns of abuse and discrimination.

Posted in Queer Stuff

Trans 101, Up Goer Five style

Now if anyone says it’s “too complicated to explain to their kids,” give ’em this.

Planting Rainbows

(My attempt at Trans 101 using only the thousand most common words in English. The creative restrictions made this fun to try.)

Most people think that babies are all either boys or girls. But it turns out that when some baby boys get older they think they would be happier if they were girls, and when some baby girls get older they think they would be happier if they were boys. Sometimes they put on different clothes, or change their names, and some of these people take steps to change their bodies from boy to girl, or from girl to boy. Sometimes people turn out to be not girls, and not boys, but something else. And sometimes the doctors can’t tell whether a baby is a boy or a girl, so the doctors have to guess, but sometimes they guess wrong.

All of this happens a lot of the…

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Posted in Queer Stuff

On the SCOTUS Rulings

So, DOMA and Prop 8 happened today.  I feel like I won’t be a good little queer if I don’t say something about it.  I wasn’t watching; I was sleeping because I’d stayed up half the night liveblogging the Texas SB 5 filibuster on Tumblr.  (You know things are happening when you hit the daily post limit at 2 pm.)  But when I got up, there it was: DOMA was dead, and Prop 8 had been dismissed.

I hadn’t really been expecting that.  Yes, I’d been hopeful since March, but when SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act the other day, I threw my hopes out the window.  And those hopes weren’t even hopes of getting married.  As regular readers will know, they were hopes of getting this predominantly white, cis, middle-class issue out of the way and starting work on many other vitally important, intersectional LGB and especially TQ+ issues.

So maybe that will happen now.  My fears, though, since the court delivered the most narrow of possible rulings on Prop 8, is that the next 5-10 years of the queer movement will be spent getting federal gay marriage and/or overturning individual state bans (and then secondarily preventing bullying of predominantly white middle-class queer kids).  Because marriage sells.  Romance novels sell.  Same-sex romance novels and porn for the titillation of heterosexuals sell.  What will happen with queer rights is what is most easily sold to said heterosexuals, and therefore what is usually the least pressing to those who are actually queer.

You see, the rulings do not make me any less of a second-class citizen.  I’m not married, same-sex or otherwise.  I’m going to be 19 in the fall, which is way too young, and same-sex marriage isn’t campaigned about in Pennsylvania, let alone legal.  So the DOMA ruling does not even directly affect me.

What does affect me is that in most states, including parts of my own, I can legally be fired for being trans*.  Such a thing is highly unlikely with my current employer, but it still puts me on guard and keeps me silent when someone messes up my pronouns or calls me “Christine.”  What does affect me is that in most states, insurance companies are not required to cover trans* healthcare.  What does affect me, though less directly now, is that most states do not have LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying laws.  I’m at a queer-friendly school, but most of my queer Tumblr friends aren’t, and a lot of them post suicidal ideations all over their blogs.  What does affect me is that most high schools do not have inclusive sex-ed, or even basic hetero sex ed.  My school had what’s considered a pretty good program.  They showed us a lot of slides of STDs and actually taught us about consent (I didn’t know, at age 16, that if a guy had screwed me while I was unconscious, that that was rape, not just a scumbag move), but they never showed us a condom.  It took till a college wellness class before I saw either a condom or a dental dam in real life.

What does affect me is the nationwide lack of education about trans* issues.  What does affect me is that most people do not know that gender does not equal sex.  What does affect me is the stress of not knowing whether I can use a bathroom without being arrested.  What does affect me is the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which may make it so that I and other trans* people will not be able to vote to protect our rights in future elections.  What does affect me is that there is 3 times as much transphobia as homophobia.  What does affect me is that trans* people have a nationwide 1-in-12 murder rate.  I am white, and transmasculine, and live in a liberal area, and that probably cuts it down to at least 1-in-25 for me, but that’s still too much for anyone.

And none of these things have anything whatsoever to do with the repeal of DOMA.  Nada.  Nullus.

And I’m not sure how much longer I can take it.  At noon this morning, just awake, sitting on my windowseat and reading the joyous news articles, I realized the full impact of how irrelevant the rulings actually are.  I realized that I would probably have to spend the rest of my life fighting for my basic human rights.  And that is something nobody should have to do.

And the weight of that realization broke something inside my head.  All I want to do is curl up in a very small space and not move for several hours or days.  It almost feels like I can’t move, like I’m paralyzed.  I know it’s just another mood swing, that if I watch a movie for a few hours I’ll be good to go to work tonight.   But what I know now is that I just want to get the hell out of this country.  America is probably not the land of opportunity for me.  I’ll see what’s happened in a couple years before I make a final decision, but for now, I’m Googling “classics grad schools in canada.”

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Posted in Insanity, Politics, Queer Life, Queer Stuff
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