Now if anyone says it’s “too complicated to explain to their kids,” give ’em this.
(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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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.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve made a post about, well, me. Sorry, guys, I’ll try not to make it boring.
I’m (sort of, unsuccessfully) reading up on stuff for that post about ACT UP that I promised months ago. I had to return two of the books to the library, and accidentally gave them one of my own books that has similar cover art. It seems they haven’t found it yet. It makes me sad. The main source of information I’ve found is a 400+ page dissertation, and it’s kind of tough reading. I’m persuading myself that it’s worth it because it will teach me how to write a thesis.
As I think I mentioned before, I acquired a refurbished laptop shortly before the end of the spring semester (and bought a regular computer mouse to go with it), and currently have a summer job at the college’s alumnae house/bed and breakfast/catering service. (I call it the “Land of Chaos and Silverware.”) Everybody is actually calling me Chris–except when they think it’s short for “Christine.” I’ve corrected my boss at least three times now. (At least that’s how many times I’ve said it. I’m not sure she heard me the second two.) I have mostly evening shifts. I’m out to a few coworkers; other student employees. The rest probably all read me as queer, but just think I’m a lesbian. To be fair, there is a certain “Bryn Mawr Queer Girl” look….
Workplace demographics are interesting. There’s about 10 full- or part-time adult workers, then 20 student workers, where I work. Then there are the people who work in Erdman Dining Hall to feed the student workers and all the groups and summer camps who use the campus over the summer. Anyway, it’s like everyone who stays here is queer or POC or both. I can think of two or three exceptions, but their home states are all pretty far away, and I don’t know for sure that they’re straight; they’re just not obviously queer. It says something. I knew there weren’t going to be any good jobs near my family, at least not for only the summer; also, I really, really didn’t want to have to wear girl clothes for three and a half months. (Seriously, my gender aside, cargo shorts are the apparel of the gods when it comes to airflow and comfort.) I also didn’t want to spend that long being forced into church attendance and having to watch every single word I say. I know I’m not alone in those reasons.
Not having most of my friends around IRL has taken its toll. It is possible to go through real withdrawal symptoms from lack of backrubs. It happened. I spent some quality time in small spaces, like under my desk in my room. Small spaces feel like the walls are hugging you. I suppose that’s why I’ve always liked them. Anyway, I used the temporary agoraphobia as an excuse to watch Series 6 and 7 of Doctor Who. Good life choices. Then this week I watched all the Sherlock. Love how they modernized it. Wish they hadn’t written Sherlock himself as quite such an asshole; he’s not like that in the books, and I’ve read them all. At least twice. The short stories at least 4 times. Seriously, the books were my first fandom ever, before that show even aired.
Speaking of fandoms, Homestuck is off hiatus. There was much rejoicing on my Tumblr dash. And we finally know what void powers are. Turns out I wasn’t to far off in thinking that they’d paradox clone a new matriorb. It’s something similar, and I won’t give any more spoilers.
I went to Philly Pride on June 9th. Funnest thing ever. Watched the parade, went to a queer bookstore and bought the book that I accidentally gave to my library (relax, I did at least manage to read it all first), had sushi for lunch, and bought an awesome shirt and cargo shorts. I found out that Pride parades are ways that queer organizations can tell the community what resources they have. I saw a drag queen who looked like an old Greek lady, could’a been straight out of a church festival. It’s not all RuPaul’s Drag Race, and somehow that’s comforting. There were a lot of hot gay people. (Why is it that when I’m attracted to dudes it’s always the super gay dudes?) I saw more ways of wearing rainbows than I thought possible. There were confetti machines. I held a sign that said “ALL PRONOUNS DESERVE RESPECT”; it had many-gendered pronouns color-coded pink, blue, and purple, as well as the trans* and genderqueer pride flags drawn on it. The story of how I made the sign should be reserved for another post. It was that epic. An epic struggle. I met up with a fellow genderqueer classicist named Questy (tumblr: nonnobissolum). They are an awesome person.
Two things struck me at Pride. The first was a middle-aged lesbian carrying a rainbow flag on a labrys. The labrys, a double-headed battle axe, was popular in the 70s and was seen (Allison Bechdel’s work comes to mind) as late as the 90s, but hasn’t been used much for the last 20 years. That woman had been going to pride parades for at least that long; probably since before my mother was born. She’d been fighting that long. I wanted to talk to her, but she was only visible for a moment, and then disappeared.
The second thing was that, when the parade started, everybody cheered at the police cars at the front. 44 years since Stonewall. Perhaps we have already come a long way. We can now cheer the police, at least when we’re in large numbers, instead of running away. We don’t have to worry that they’ll pepper-spray or tear-gas us. I could go to a gay bar, and not have to worry about the police raiding the place and beating and raping me. It’s so little, yet so much. A police car, and the gays cheer and wave.
Questy and I are working on a queer vocab for Latin, now that Pope Francis admits there’s a secret Vatican gay lobby. Latin doesn’t actually have a word for gender. It just has a word for “type” or “distinction” (“genus”) which can but does not always include gender. While this is great for intersectionality, it’s making the queer vocab part hard. Once we get the queer vocab done, I will post it.
On Tumblr, I’ve gotten into a war with a heinous “men’s rights activist” called mr-cappadocia. His real name is Patrick Cooper. After I spent two days spamming his askbox, he blocked me from seeing his posts. Then he unblocked me for a day, then blocked me again for being “stupid.” Today he re-unblocked me, and I’m being as civil as I can to him. Guy apparently doesn’t know how the Senate or political parties work. Much easier for him to blame it on “feminist pseudoscience.” I really like taking it out on this guy. Gives me some practice when HuffPo is slow.
In the news:
There really is three times as much transphobia as homophobia in terms of number of hate crimes, bearing out my observations from the comments forums. (It’s on HuffPo somewhere and had charts and things, but I can’t find it.)
The Supreme Court is taking its own sweet time with the really important cases.
Obama is being shitty about pretty much everything; I think he doesn’t understand drones and surveillance and is to scared to do anything on queer rights and the economy. I want to go paradox clone Lyndon B. Johnson. (I think I’ve said that before.) Romney would definitely be worse, but I’m annoyed at having to vote against what I hate instead of for what I need, and given an average lifespan I’ve got about 12 more presidential elections to go.
Social Security has made it easier for trans* people to change their sex markers. The problem is, as Questy pointed out, “what do I change mine to?”
This is over 1300 words and I need to make lunch, so that’s enough for now!
So, at Philly Pride on Sunday, I was with my straight-ally/adopted-big-sister C and another genderqueer classicist (tumblr: nonnobissolum) whom I’ll call Q. So, inspired by some drag queens, C said, “You know, we should try to get RuPaul for your commencement speaker.” I knew that likely RuPaul would likely manage to say something offensive to at least half the Bryn Mawr queer community, and besides, I’d had someone else in mind for months. “I was thinking more like Kate Bornstein,” I replied. Q’s face lit up. Cliche, I know, but seriously, I didn’t know that that big a smile could fit on someone so skinny. (Picture someone naturally about half the size of David Tennant, you’ll get what I mean.)
C, meanwhile, was just staring at me. “Who?” “Kate Bornstein,” I repeated, thinking she hadn’t heard. No recognition. “You know, genderqueer transwoman, author of A Queer and Pleasant Danger and Gender Outlaw.” C: “No….”
How had one of my two closest allies hung out with me all year and never heard of Kate Bornstein? After Pride, I dragged C to the Rainbow Alliance shelf in Canaday Library, and presented her with A Queer and Pleasant Danger and My Gender Workbook. There were more books up on the third floor, but I figured two was enough to start with. But only to start with, so I’ve compiled a list of books I’ve found useful when figuring out my identities.
Unless otherwise noted, all of these books can be found in Bryn Mawr College’s Canaday Library. I have read all these books (well, I’m not sure if I actually finished all of Vested Interests, but I read at least 3 chapters), and this list will be updated as I read more books. I may eventually turn this list and future ones like it into a permanent blog page called “resources” or something. Anyway….
This is a really, really great article.