Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Laci Green deserves better


Laci Green, who writes the Sex+ blog, has taken a break from tumblr and possibly youtube (accounts seem to vary), due to threats of physical violence and even death, as well as serious cyberstalking.  It appears there are two primary motivators for the nut cases threatening her.  First, she supposedly insulted the trans community by using the term tranny a few years ago.  She has apologized and took down the video.  In her overall body of work, she has not been transphobic, and has generally promoted a very open idea of who and how to love.  The other motivator is apparently a remark that some took to be Islamophobic.  She just pointed out ideas from Islam that she disagreed with.  But, she has also pointed out that she disagrees with ideas from other religions as well, and certainly wasn't suggesting that all Muslims or all people of religion x were terrible people.  Just the fundy-literalist-nutjobs (my terminology).

All that aside though, even if you were offended by what she wrote or said, it does not make it ok to threaten  to harm her!

This did get me thinking about my own reaction to terms like tranny.  Growing up a racial minority, I heard racial slurs now and then, and to be honest, I tended to ignore them, not feeling it was even worth the effort to get upset.  Pretty similar now.

But this also made me think also about how I feel when I see someone who is purposely playing with the gender binary, a genderqueer person, if you will.  I will admit that sometimes if I see someone presenting as such, I get a little ticked off momentarily, because I think, "hey, people like you set back public acceptance of transsexuals who just want to be a "normal" person of the opposite sex."  But of course, then I realize how stupid that is, and how it completely selfishly ignores everything I stand for as a sex educator (and for that matter as a parent/teacher/human being) myself, to be open and nonjudgemental of people based on their appearances.  The point is, I'd guess someone had a flash gut reaction to Laci's use of "tranny" and got all worked up without taking a minute to think it through, to find out that she did it without meaning harm, and when recognizing its potential hurtfulness, took it down.

Monday, July 2, 2012

APA Task force recommendations on GID

I'll comment after I read this.

Byne, W., et al. (2012). Report of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder. Archives of Sexual BehaviorDOI 10.1007/s10508-012-9975-x 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sears ad, gender stereotypes

from the blog Hot Rods For Girls (click photo for link)
I was flipping between the Stanley Cup game and the NBA playoffs last night, interspersed with various other channel flips, and rather annoyed that because of a contract dispute between my cable company and the local Fox affiliate's owners that I couldn't watch So You Think You Can Dance... where was I?  Oh yes, I saw a commercial for the Father's Day tool sale at Sears.  There's a Dad asking for a wrench from under a car that he's working on, and his daughter hands him a new Craftsman wrench with a bow on it.  The commercial ends with both of them under the car, and you see their legs sticking out side by side.  Cute, right?  Helps to break the gender stereotypes that little girls shouldn't be interested in messy mechanical things like cars, right?

So how come we don't see the flip side of that commercial on Mother's Day?  A little boy sewing a dress on a new sewing machine with mom, or something like that?  As always, it's about society seeing traditionally male activities as valuable and something to aspire to for a boy or a girl, while traditionally female activities are thought of as more frivolous, and therefore a step down for a boy to do.  It's really amazing to me that despite all the talk of gender equality and even all the real accomplishments of women's rights activists for centuries, that pervasive, insidious, and infectious thread of females (and female ideas, activities, etc) being inferior still has such a grip on all of us.  It can never be eradicated, but I wonder if it can at least be diminished to a minority view?

I (presenting as male) coach girls sports.  I see my players run the gamut from "girly-girl" to decidedly anti-feminine.  My approach to trying to establish that feminine does not necessarily mean weak or less sports-able, is to incorporate ideas, movements, and metaphors from both more masculine and more feminine arenas.  I might make allusions to football one day and ballet the next.  Hopefully, in some tiny way, this helps them to understand that whatever kind of girl/woman they are or want to be, whatever profession they go into, nothing about those decisions is any less valuable or valid because they are women.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Constant reminder

From Grace Helbig's vlog, Daily Grace:

Why do men have nipples?

Because it's God's constant reminder that they almost had tits!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guy legs

Pro tennis star Serena Williams
I'm genetically blessed (?) or cursed with very muscular legs.  I don't do squats with weights.  Heck, since I made the conscious decision to coax my body towards my mind's feminine idea of it, I rarely use any weights at all.  I still run around when coaching, and I work out on a rowing machine, but theoretically, that should just help keep me trim and not really build muscles a lot, especially given the T-blockers and the E.  So I'm kind of annoyed that my legs look so much like guy legs.  I mean, I look hard at women athletes' legs, particularly those whose sports involve lots of leg work, and while lots of them have much stronger looking or more muscular legs than me, I think only a very few have the typical knee area (especially just above the knee/ lower thigh) that guys have.  You know what I mean?  Maybe it's because of the different hip to knee angle of women vs men, but guys quads are different than girls quads.  I suppose I could attempt to smooth out the difference by gaining a bit more body fat.  Unfortunately, I tend to gain weight almost anywhere except my legs (even on estrogen).  I guess I just need to accept it and hope that the casual observer will just assume my funny knees/thighs  are just weird, and not necessarily male.  Or of course, I could and probably should just dress according to my body like any normal cis-gendered girl would, and favor longer skirts/dresses or pants/jeans.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dressing still matters

Since I'm currently in a situation where I'm out only to my wife, my normal dress is more or less androgynous - women's Levi's, a T-shirt of some sort, girl sneakers, girl undergarments.  I work at home, so sometimes I'll switch to a more feminine blouse, but because my kids often drop by without much, if any, warning, that's the extent of my getting dolled up lately.  But I was sort of ok with that.  I'm on my hormones, feeling basically femme most of the time, though sort of in a princess-locked-in-a-tower sort of way.  It isn't ideal, but I felt like it was ok enough.

But then today, with my wife out of town on business, one kid out of town on spring break, and the other one at work for sure, I decided to doll up a bit.  Went to the trouble of putting on a little bit of makeup, put on a bra that pushed my little boobs up rather than squishing them flat, and a nice spring-ish dress and sandals.  I've been working in this outfit most of today now, though I'm going to have to change soon to go coach.  What's surprised me is how much more comfortable and happy I feel.  Sure, it could be coincidence, but even though I'm basically in girl clothes every day, there's something about letting my femininity really open up that makes me almost giddy.  Not totally unexpected, but still somewhat unexpected.  I had thought that when I finally transitioned, I'd probably mostly wear my usual jeans and T's but with a real bra instead of a too-small sports bra.  Now, I'm wondering if maybe I'm more likely to be one of those women who always dress smartly and look like they're going to work or coming from work, even if they're in the grocery store at 11pm.

Kind of fun to think about.

(picture is not me)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Eon by Alison Goodman

This is actually a review of both Eon, by Alison Goodman, and its sequel, Eona.  Realistically, reading just the first would feel incomplete, and I feel fortunate that I didn't come across these books until both had been released.  But that's just a minor pet peeve of mine: I like series of books just fine, but please make each book a self-contained tale that doesn't absolutely require further reading for a satisfactory story.  I realize that is probably exactly what publishers want in order to get us to buy the next book, but authors, please stand up for your artistic integrity and either wait and release a longer novel or figure out a way to bring your story to a close while leaving your story world open to further elaboration.  OK, getting off my soapbox now. :-)

So, Eon and Eona, which were first published in Australia as The Two Pearls of Wisdom and The Necklace of the Gods, are set in a pseudo-ancient-Chinese fantasy world in which the country is led and protected by the Emperor and a group of men known as the Dragoneyes.  The Dragoneyes have magical powers given to them by one of the 12 dragons (each named for a Chinese zodiac animal) in exchange for some of their own life force.  Every year, a new dragon and Dragoneye becomes the leader of the group, and the dragon chooses a new apprentice.

This year, one of the potential apprentices is a lame boy called Eon.  By the way, the names of the characters are all over the place - Eon, Dillon, Lord Ido, Baret - maybe the author was trying to make the point that despite the general setting, this is not a straight-on version of historical China with magic added.  For me, it was slightly annoying.  Back to the story though, Eon is lame, and as we very quickly gather, also happens to be a girl.  Dragoneyes have always been men, but Eon's master saw that she had a remarkable ability to commune with the Dragon spirits, and decided to try, despite the likelihood of death should their deception be discovered.  There is an awkward romance story woven into an overarching palace intrigue/usurpation plot, and a bit of self-discovery along the way.  About par for the course in young adult fantasy.  That's about all the plot I really want to give away so as not to hinder your enjoyment of the book.

So, as far as transgender themes go, the title character, Eon, is a girl who has been trying very hard to act like a boy and hide her "feminine problems" from everyone else.  There is a hint of the inner conflict, but with so much invested (i.e. her very life) in trying to be a boy, she sees the feminine in herself as a weakness.  Those of us who are TG but still in the closet can certainly understand the constant stress of hiding one's true self.  Interestingly, a supporting character in the books, Lady Dela, is a out transwoman, who is a member of the imperial court, and came as part of a tribute or gift from the leader of her lands.  Although the author is Australian, Lady Dela seems to be modeled after the Native American "two-spirit" transwomen who in some tribes were considered magical, like medicine men.  I found her form of transgendered living interesting.  She obviously identified as a woman and preferred to be seen as such, but when needed, she "disguised" herself as a man, and used her male strengths to her advantage.  The complications her gender brings to matters of love is written with a poignant authenticity.

The story is not particularly original for Asian fantasy world adventures, but it is mostly an interesting and pretty quick read.  The quality of the writing isn't great, but it's ok for the Young Adult category.  There's a surprising amount of graphic violence for the category, but maybe I'm just out of touch with current standards.  It didn't seem particularly gratuitous, so I wasn't particularly bothered, just surprised in places.

My overall recommendation is to get it if you are into asian-inflected fantasy.  If you aren't sure, it's at least worth a trip to the library to read through a little bit before deciding.


Thanks to Sally at Bibrary Book Lust for bringing this series to my attention!