Friday, December 19, 2008

.. Oy. Health Care Access Problems.

Reposted from Questioning Transphobia. I know, I know. I should write my own commentary. Oh well. This says pretty much everything I'd say.



So yesterday, the Bush administration yesterday granted sweeping new protections to health workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal beliefs. Jill at Feministe has pointed out that while this undoubtedly chiefly aimed at women’s reproductive freedoms, this is actually not about abortion–which depressingly already has this exception–but easy access to contraception.

One point I want to make about that, which I’ve stolen from Lee Edelman’s No Future, is that America is being organised around the figure of The Child. Not actual children, let alone the adults those children grow into, but a rhetorical child who must be protected at all costs–from the corrupting influence of gay marriages, porn on the internet etc and who must always be allowed to exist.

The rights of the Child, who is figured as a full person and not as a body of cells or ffs an egg and a sperm, supercedes the rights of adult women to have control over their bodies. Never mind that people (and I want to make the point that it’s not just women, eg some trans men use birth control too. Seriously, pay attention cis feminists and stop making the normative assumption that reproductive health equals het cis woman) use the pill primarily for other health reasons–to regulate their periods, to moderate PMS and PMDD etc etc. And needless to say, The Child does not grow up to be queer, or trans, or sexually active outside the sanctity of marriage. And The Child is clearly normatively white.

But whilst it is clearly aimed at heterosexual cis women, it will have a massive impact on other groups–especially trans men and women.

From the Washington Post:

“The far-reaching regulation cuts off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable.”

Ok, let that sink in a bit. Care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. Now, where is that going to leave trans people? Sex workers? People they think are drug users (a highly racialized image after all)? People with disabilities?

Like queerness, being trans has been framed by many on the Religious Right as a moral issue. To be trans is to be, by definition, immoral. By situating health care as a “conscience” issue, this law allows transphobic health care workers–not just doctors, but pharmacists, emergency medics etc etc–full license to indulge their bigotry and to not treat us. So, even if you can get through the knife lined obstacle course that is the gatekeeper process and get through to a hormone prescription, the bloody pharmacist might not even give them to you.

We all know health care for trans people is already shitty, let alone giving health care providers carte blanche to treat us worse. Remember Tyra Hunter, who died because firefighters decided not to perform emergency resuscitation on her when they discovered she was trans, and then a doctor at Washington General decided not to treat her. Because she was trans, because she was a woman of color, because she was not a person, she was an “it.” And, because some people consider that our existence is immoral and must be squashed out.

This is a nightmare of a ruling that potentially allows any person in the health-care business to rule that treating trans people goes against their conscience, and when something serious is occuring, you don’t have the time to shop around for someone who will treat you.

And the intersection between transness and race here will be even more deadly. Medicine has a long history of being used against people of color in the US, and this gives health care people legal protections to further that. As Kristin “the mean one on Feministe” just said to me, making the horrid implications of this explicitly clear:

“I didn’t quite make the connection as to why doctors would want to refuse anyone treatment in the context of a miscarriage at first. It just clicked. Why would they want to do that other than to refuse treatment to people they judge to be the “cause” of the miscarriage? You know, people like, say, possible drug users. Or people otherwise marked as “unworthy” of care. Say, homeless people, immigrants… Fuck. I mean, why else would anyone demand that kind of “right”? Fuck fuck fuck… I think this is going to be even more evil in practice than it looks on the surface. If that kind of “protection” becomes a fucking protocol, oh my god… If this becomes widespread… Organized against a specific group, that’s genocidal.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Updates from Youtube!

My wonderful friend over at jadedjabber pointed out I should embed my youtube videos. So here goes! A brief introduction from early october, then an update from a few days after that about my visit with my dad.



"Don't Call it a Culture War"

I'm doing the bad blogger again and posting someone else's writing. However, this is an excellent article from The American Prospect by Anne Friedman about LGBT rights. I think it's spot on, and I'm glad that I'm hearing this rhetoric other places than just within my circle of friends. It seems like a lot of the rhetoric being thrown around, especially after Prop 8, focuses on the idea that the country will "come around" and adjust. Friedman brilliantly points out that calling LGBT issues part of a "culture war" implies that there is no absolute right or wrong.

As Friedman says, "Civil-rights era activists knew history was on their side. But their goal was not to make every white American comfortable with the idea of sharing public spaces and power with people of color. It was to guarantee people of color those rights, regardless of where the culture stood. That's the thing about rights. You have to claim them."

Check it out!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Change

I have been remiss in my blogging, and it's not just because I've abandoned my blog for youtube. I actually have been really bad about posting my youtube videos. Partially because I make them on my camera, then save them to my computer, then wait till I'm somewhere with internet to upload them. I actually have three videos sitting on my camera that I haven't even put on my computer, let alone posted on youtube. Oops.

I just got back on Monday from the first LVC retreat. It doesn't seem like I've been doing LVC for two and half months already, but I have. Retreat was.. not really very restful. The building we were in was stressful for me. It was loud and felt claustrophobic. My idea of retreat isn't being forced to interact with 35 people I don't really know. We also had two days of anti-racism training, which was good. I was challenged, but I also knew a lot of the material we covered because of some of my courses from college.

I'm off tomorrow morning on a 7am flight (ugh) for DC to participate in an RIC training. It should be interesting. It's going to be a compressed training, which is stressful in its own way. I'm also not really sure how many youth are going to be there. I think it'll be more Methodist youth, but that's ok. I'll be able to talk to the person who has my job with the Methodists, which will be good for me to more clearly define how to build a Lutheran youth network.

I've also been looking at the website change.gov recently. It's a website focused on the shift from the Bush administration to Obama's administration. It's really a pretty excellent website. You can apply for jobs, share your vision of the future, and really engage with the next administration. In addition, I am ecstatic because there's been an actual policy change shift already in the Obama administration. Here's the non-discrimination policy for the Obama-Biden Transition Project:

The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.


That's right, they slipped in gender identity. How awesome is that?

Monday, October 27, 2008

youtube!

As one of my friends has aptly put it, I've gone over to the dark side. I've finally started posting youtube video blog ("vlog") entries. Mainly this is because I want to have a record of my transition, voice, body, etc. I figured starting it pre-T and surgery would be a good idea.
So far I've only posted two, so not that many at all.

I must say, it's kind of weird. For one thing, I don't really know what my voice sounds like, so hearing it back is just kind of strange. Along the same lines, it's interesting to watch a video of myself. I do look at myself in the mirror, but it's usually extremely cursory, just checking to make sure my hair isn't extremely crazy, and that I don't have giant mud streaks or something on my face. I don't really look at myself for long periods of time, and in particular I tend to just look at my face and not the rest of my body.

Either way. If you want to check out the videos, you can find them on youtube, my user name is boydyke12. I'm hoping to update at least once a week, though right now since I'm excited about it all they might be more frequent.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

transphobia strikes again!

And transphobia strikes again! Here's excerpts of news article from Vacaville, California.

A teacher’s gender reassignment surgery has caught the attention of some parents who want to know why the school district didn’t notify them ahead of time about the change.

A music teacher at Foxboro Elementary School, who was formerly a woman, returned to school as a man at the beginning of the school year.

Some parents told Travis Unified School District that they feel like their rights to know were violated.

“All the information came straight from our kids and didn’t come from the school board or the teachers … this has all been second-hand information,” parent Melissa Oiland said...

"I understand what parents are saying, but we have a right as an employer, we have a legal obligation as an employer to protect our employees,” Superintendent Kate Wren Gavlak said.

Gavlak said the district consulted with lawyers and determined that legally, it could not disclose any information about the teacher’s gender change.”We will not be discussing personal matters with either the students, or the parents or the community at large … because we cannot,” Gavlak said...

Parent Angela Weinzinger, who has three children at the school, said she has since transferred her children out of the class.

“I wasn’t given the opportunity to make a choice on what I wanted to do with the situation,” Weinzinger said.So far, 23 students from 15 different families have transferred their children out of the music class and into a physical education class.

read the full article here

This makes me upset on many levels. One, that parents feel their rights were violated because the school refused to violate the rights of the teacher and expose his medical and surgical history. If a teacher had had any other kind of surgery, would parents be reacting this way? Two, the assumption that this is a big enough deal that the school should've had to inform parents, that this man should have to reveal this information to anyone he interacts with. Three, that this teacher is being treated as if students in his class are going to catch "the trans" from him, like he's a sexual predator, as if their children are in danger simply being around him.

There are huge heaping servings of gender entitlement at work here. Yes, most parents probably aren't ready to have this conversation with their kids. I recognize that. But is the appropriate reaction really this?

wow McCain.. just.. wow..

Ok, so for those of you who watched the debates last night, you've already seen this lovely clip of McCain mocking concerns about women's health. I'm at work, so I'm really sorry I can't write further about this. I just.. I can't believe that McCain was that dismissive of concerns about women's health.. like as an issue it doesn't really exist.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

sweet tea

Friends, I think we can officially conclude that the economy is really going to shit.
People aren't ordering sweet tea as much in the south.

So ya'll know, this is also the 100th post. It's a rather pathetic little post. If I had more time and/or wasn't at work, I would totally write something longer and actually meaningful. As such, you get sweet tea information about the economy, and a little announcement.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

music humor

So I was looking through some of my old music theory stuff and found this...

C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So, the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between
them.

After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished; the G is out flat. An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

Then D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me. I'll just be a second."

Then A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims, "Get out now! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight."

The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the NEXT night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes.

The bartender says: "You're looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a major development."

This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything else, and is now au naturel.

Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest.

The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.

On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are bass less.

The bartender decides he needs a rest - and closes the bar.

Google opposes CA Proposition 8

I don't think I have any readers in the great state of California. Even so, this entry on the official Google blog caught my eye.

As an Internet company, Google is an active participant in policy debates surrounding information access, technology and energy. Because our company has a great diversity of people and opinions -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, all religions and no religion, straight and gay -- we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. So when Proposition 8 appeared on the California ballot, it was an unlikely question for Google to take an official company position on.

However, while there are many objections to this proposition -- further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text -- it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.


While I do have problems with the institution of marriage, which I won't get into right now, I wholeheartedly agree that all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity should be allowed to access the privileges of of civil marriage. Not to mention these sorts of propositions failing is an indication that variance in sexual orientation and (hopefully) gender identity is becoming more broadly accepted in society. So hurray for google I suppose.

Monday, September 29, 2008

underhanded tactics

I came across this lovely story on a livejournal community called debunkingwhite. I'm concerned that this hasn't been more widespread on the news, even on the internet.

Sunday, September 28th, 2008
9:57 pm More DOMESTIC TERRORISM. how is this NOT huge national news?????
Has this been on a news blackout? How is it that no-one has heard of this until now??

On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

to repeat: Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After "Obsession" DVD Hits Ohio

Please, please, go to this link and read the whole thing. http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/9/28/203016/697/536/613742

It was reported in the Dayton Daily News, but not commented on in major media since. The DVDs ---28 million of them--- were inserted in newspapers in many swing states by a pro-McCain group. And so here we are. A country where hatred is distributed with the Sunday paper. Where children are maliciously attacked because of their religion and no one blinks. Thankfully, no-one died. This time.

I urge you to call or write any major media outlet you know of and disseminate this story. Also, I'm sure the people in Dayton Islamic Society and their members would appreciate a kind word.
26 Josie Street, Dayton, OH 45403 Tel: (937) 228-1503
Here is the email:
isgd@hotmail.com

Here also is the email for the people that put this sick piece of trash into circulation.
info@clarionfund.org

crossposted everywhere


I think this event shows the depth of fear and paranoia of Islam and the middle east among certain sectors of the American population. Also the unfounded belief that Obama is secretly an Islamic fundamentalist. I mean, if McCain supporters (hopefully without any direction from the campaign) put out this DVD, clearly they are trying to play on peoples' fear of Islam, and trying to link that fear to Obama. I am hoping that this sort of tactic will completely backfire on the people engaing in it, (let me repeat, children gassed after a dvd gets distributed through the paper) however for the past two elections I also didn't think it was possible for Bush to win.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

11th hour bullshit from the bush regime..

From Fluff the Bunny

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association has been sending out policy action alerts about new regulations proposed by the Bush administration that would greatly expand the range of health care that providers can choose to deny patients, based on the providers' "conscience" or "moral beliefs."

As someone who has personally been told by doctors' offices, "we don't treat people like you," this rings a warning-bell I must share.

While the NFPRHA very clearly points out that these proposed regulations would gravely impact women's access to reproductive health care options and full access to comprehensive sex education, there is also a threat to much-needed health-care for already-marginalized communities of people with very real health-care needs... whether they be minorities of religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Please click here to learn more about what you can do.

Tell Health and Human Services that you oppose these regulations, and express your concerns about the significant impact these rules could have on access to family planning, and other health services for women and men. Just send your thoughts and comments via email to consciencecomment@hhs.gov and make sure that all submitted comments refer to "Provider Conscience Regulation'' in the subject line. Full instructions for comment submission can be found in the Aug. 26 Federal Register (pdf).

The comment period for the recently proposed HHS regulations ends at 11:59 PM this Thursday, September 25, so be sure you make your opposition known to the administration. The ability of health care centers in your community to provide counseling, comprehensive sex education, contraception and preventive health services is at risk.

Covered

I found out a while ago that the insurance policy I get through my job covers transition, which is absolutely stellar. It covers almost everything.. top surgery, hormones, blood tests, therapy. There are a few catches.. before top surgery I'll need to have gone through therapy for a year, there's the whole real-life test thing.. so that'll all be weird. However, I'll be able to stay on this medical insurance plan until I'm done with surgery which is good. Hormones I should then be able to cover out-of-pocket if necessary.

I guess.. it's kinda weird to think that transition is actually almost within reach.. I've gotten so used to feeling like it wasn't actual a real possibility that I almost don't know how to react to the news. I mean, it's good, but part of me doesn't quite grasp it yet. I think this is also partially because I know personally and know of so many trans people who can't afford transition, haven't come out to their families, can't come out to their families. Part of me feels guilty for being lucky enough to have coverage. It feels like another binary, those who've transitioned and those who haven't.

Even so. I am so excited to not bind. I've gotten used to it, the slight twisting, unrolling, tucking, adjusting, compression of putting it on. I've gotten used to the dull ache in my lower back that sneaks up around 3 every day. I've gotten used to rolling it up to my armpits, and tugging the back over my head. I've become much better at using the binder over the years. I couldn't even put my binder on by myself when I first got it. I guess I shouldn't get to excited to see it go yet. I'll still be binding for the next year and half or so.

Wow. I started rambling there. Anyways. Back to work/maybe off to home..

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

nerd

I am going out on a limb here and I'm going to reveal my (sometimes) secret nerdiness to the world.

Lucy Lawless, star of the tv show Xena, is purportedly going to appear in the upcoming season of L Word.

This makes me really excited. I have had a long affair with the Xena series. I would watch it as a kid with my dad and was totally and completely enthralled. Xena was my first introduction to feminism, and I had a complete and utter crush on Gabrielle, Xena's sidekick. Feminism and girls all in one! woo!

Anyways. the news was too good for me to keep to myself. And I need to get back to work.

Monday, September 22, 2008

long lazy monday

my supervisor isn't a work today, which means i don't have that much to do. currently i'm taking a break from calling all of our RIC congregations and finding out if they have youth groups, who the youth group contact/leader is, and putting that information into an excel file so i have a database of youth contacts and don't need to waste time hunting down the information later.

also this morning, bryan and i were the only people here at 9.. everyone else rolled in around 10:30-11. so that was fun. i would've stayed in bed for another hour or so if i had known.. oh well.

today i've been listening to lots and lots of cloud cult. in particular i've been enjoying "when water comes to life," journey of the featherless," "the ghosts inside our house" and "story of the grandson of jesus"

what else.. one of my friends was in norway and is returning tonight. i'm excited, i hope we get to hang out soon.

yeah. so i'm done procrastinating. i'm gonna go perambulate with bryan for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

American Prospect article

The American Prospect has a really great article on Sarah Palin and how the Republican party is using Palin's gender as a way to reinforce traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity.

Here's a short section, but you should really go really go read the whole article though.
she attempted to discredit community organizing by feminizing it. She sarcastically told conventioneering Republicans (along with millions of Americans watching on television), "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities." It was an eerie echo of what oblivious men in positions of traditional power have been saying for centuries: that the work of community building -- whether it be child-rearing, elder-caring, teaching, nursing, social work, or, yes, community organizing -- isn't really work at all. That, despite being the backbone of our economy and the heart of our civic life, it doesn't count because it doesn't involve power suits and bottom lines. What makes this ridicule of community-building even more ironic is that the GOP is simultaneously glorifying Palin's role as caregiver of her own sprawling family.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

biking down marshall today

i saw a group of kids standing on a corner wearing yellow tshirts holding up "honk for life signs" with a big cowbell they were ringing occasionally.
it saddens and frustrates me that kids are being co-opted into the vicious war between "pro-life" and "pro-choice," and given these terrifying messages about sex and pregnancy and abortion.

The dichotomy between pro-life and pro-choice should be a binary. pro-choice should not mean abortions for everyone, and pro-life should be more inclusive than thinking that no pregnancy should ever be terminated.

It worries me if kids aren't even given an option, if they're just scared into thinking that abortion isn't in option in any circumstance. Part of me wanted to circle back around the block, cross the street and talk to the kids, ask them how they understand pro-life. Who knows, maybe they were really trying to raise awareness about the death penalty. Either way, I wish I would've stopped to talk about them, asked what they were doing and why. And then talk to them about how all the people I know who are pro-choice are also pro-life. We want to get to a point where abortions are no longer necessary, where women aren't raped, forced to become pregnant against their will, where incest doesn't happen, where contraception is available for anyone and is the responsibility of all parties involved in sex.

So the bigger picture now. This kids learn through these messages that, at best, sex is a confusing complicated thing for adults and at worst that sex is scary and bad. Sexuality is taboo, they learn our capacity for sexuality is sin, that we should shut down all those desires. Sexuality is clamped down on, which is incredibly damaging. It causes deep emotional and mental hurt to fracture our sexuality from the rest of ourselves. And it's so hard to unlearn that message, look at the thousands of lgbtqi people who've been told that their sexuality is evil and twisted. That type of mental hurt creates walking wounded who go around hurting others inadvertently or intentionally in their attempt to heal that hurt. I've seen that already in the few weeks I've been at my job. And it's not just restricted to lgbtqi people, though our population has been rejected more fiercely then other forms of sexuality. As a society we need to frame a healthier understanding of sexuality, a sexual ethic that allows us to appreciate and respect those parts of our being.

Well. I kinda went off in another direction on that rant. I think it's partially because the concept of sexual ethics has been kicking around my head lately due to some discussion I've had lately. anyways. tonight is the minnesota gender advocates left out party at pi. should be some good times.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Shifty Republican Tactics

Another quick hit from Feministing:

The chairman of the Macomb County (Michigan) Republican Party wants to deny people the right to vote if they are homeless due to foreclosure.

"We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses," party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. [...]
Carabelli is not the only Republican Party official to suggest the targeting of foreclosed voters. In Ohio, Doug Preisse, director of elections in Franklin County (around the city of Columbus) and the chair of the local GOP, told The Columbus Dispatch that he has not ruled out challenging voters before the election due to foreclosure-related address issues.

The move would disproportionately affect African-American voters, as "more than 60 percent of all sub-prime loans -- the most likely kind of loan to go into default -- were made to African-Americans in Michigan." One of the largest Republican fundraisers in the county is a "foreclosure specialist." Gross!

insurance websites suck

So I've been trying for the past hour to figure out if trans stuff is covered by my health insurance. It's really aggravating and now I am upset and emotional. I don't enjoy that.
I think the next tactic I am going to use is that I am just going to find out if the doctor that was recommended to me is covered as a provider under the policy, and then make an appointment that way. If he's covered, I should be able to at least have a preliminary visit and see if I can start the process.
I need to talk with my parents again, tell them I'm starting the process. I don't communicate well with them, so this will be interesting.

in other news, I'm going to the augsburg QSU picnic and meetings, so I'll have an LGBTQ group to go to. don't worry luther people, pride will always be first in my heart.

back to work.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

quick creature post

1) There's a bat in the fellowship hall of the church my office is located in. Really neat when we were trying to put together around 40 binders.
2) There's a mouse family living in our LVC house.
3) There was a massive amount of animal poop on our kitchen table, and one of our mouse traps had the good stolen from it without catching anything.
4) A squirrel scampered through our living room and kitchen then disappeared this morning.
5) The dog downstairs has taken an immense liking to my bicycle, he was really upset when i moved it today. At least I know it's well guarded.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RNC March

Yesterday I went with some of my friends to the March on the RNC against the war. According to some estimates, there were anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 protestors. I think there were definitely more than 2,000 people there. I would guess there were probably 8,000 to 10,000 people all told during the march itself. The Star Tribune article I found does a good job of laying out what happened.

Anyways. So yesterday morning I walk down to the Capitol with a friend, run into two people from one of the other LVC houses, and meet up with a few other friends. We decide to march with/near the Youth Against War and Racism group and just generally hang around until the march starts. The crowd gathered on the lawn by the state capitol was peaceful, and fairly diverse. There were Somali protestors, Ethiopian protestors and Oromo protestors. There was a contingent from the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign They're also marching today, though it's while I'm at work. In addition there was an immigrant rights coalition, veterans for peace, codepink, a revived SDS group (Stop the War! Yes we can! SDS is back again!), a smattering of anarchists, and a handful of Ron Paul supporters.

A series of people took the microphone on stage, and honestly, most of them were not very inspiring. Around 12:45 we start lining up and around 1:15 we started marching to the Excel Center. I really enjoyed the march. It was fantastic that there were families, grandparents, veterans, teenagers, college students and all sorts of people marching. There were some excellent chants. I particularly enjoyed "war is not pro-life" and "ya, you betcha, war makers we're gonna getcha!" So we got as close to the Excel Center as they would let us, and then we were corraled and turned around through a big metal caged in corridor that directed us back towards the capitol. I was amazed at the amount of police force present around the perimeter of the march. There were squads of officers in riot control gear, many cops on bikes, a horseback division, and police on foot. I didn't see or hear of any police with dogs though so that's good.

The portion of the march I attended was peaceful. About half way through my back freaked out and as soon as we could cut through a side street, my friend and I headed back to my house. I have never had that much back pain before, it was awful. Apparently we just missed the violent part of the protest. Windows were smashed, bricks thrown, delegates spit upon, and clashes with the police ensued.

Honestly, I think what saddens me is that the violent protests often negate the positive effect that a peaceful march can have. Overall, I also think that one issue the Left has with organizing is that we often protest as many different contingents for many different things. I do have to hand it to the Right, even though they don't agree on many things, they find a few issues they do agree on and toe the party line. The Left on the other hand, tends to splinter off into our individual issues. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, we just don't do a good job of supporting each other. Even at the march, there were some chants that I didn't think were effective. For example, one had a section "we say no to the RNC." The Republicans have the right to assemble, to officially pick their candidate and all of that jazz. We might not like it that they're in our city, and at the march many of us disagree with their politics. Nonetheless, that sort of sentiment only makes all of the protestors look a little ridiculous. Also, if you're an anarchist or want to overthrow the government or what not, I can understand how that chant would be more meaningful to you. However, the march was to protest about the war that we're involved in, it was a coalition effort. We should try to stand for something together that we all agree on.

Anyways. I should get back to work since the Many Stories, One Voice conference was cancelled and we are now hosting the Lutherans Concerned/North America leadership retreat and board of directors meeting here.

transphobic words and deeds link

I just finished reading Julia Serrano's book "Whipping Girl" and it's been on my mind pretty much every day since then.
Then today one of my favorite blogs, The Republic of T, posted a link to a blog post about cissexual privilege and transphobia. It's the kind of blog post I wish I could write. It's from a trans woman's blog, and damn is she smart.
So here's the link to Transphobic Words and Deeds from the blog Questioning Transphobia

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama - Biden

As everyone already seems to know, Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate. He could've made a much more conservative choice, so I guess it's good he picked someone like Biden. Personally, I was pulling for Kathleen Sebelius, but she was a long shot anyways.
Either way, here's a link to Feministing's analysis of Joe Biden.

And for good measure, here's some other opinions on Obama/Biden

What About Our Daughters
Jack and Jill Politics
Rachel Setzer
Obsidian Wings
Matt Yglesias
Scott Lemieux
A Slant Truth
Ezra Klein
Pam Spaulding
Kathy G
Digby

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Weekend

I had a bit of an eclectic weekend. First off, on Friday I got out of work early and biked over to Minneapolis to hang out with Quaking Aspen. I ended up getting confused and biked all the way to Lake Calhoun, which is about 9 miles from my house. So that was neat. After calling and biking back and getting more confused I actually managed to get to the appropriate place so that was cool. I got home without incident which was also cool.

We then went to our host family/contact family's house for dinner. That was a good time. Tasty vegetarian food, and we got a free book about churches being fully inclusive that David wrote. Molly and I attempted to find the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis but failed. Which apparently should've been hard to do. Anyways, instead we went back to the house and had some vodka and grape juice and watched the first half of The Birdcage.

Saturday I cleaned out the closet in the back hall and turned it into a pantry so we don't have food all over the table in the kitchen. I get a lot of satisfaction out of organizing things, so that felt good. I went and used the internet and did some reading, then in the evening I rode the bus over to Minneapolis and walked around Uptown for a while before heading back home.

Sunday my whole house went to St. Paul Reformation church because they are our host congregation. They were really excited to have us there. I feel like some of them will be kind of bummed when we don't all go regularly, if any of us go regularly. I did some laundry and cleaned my room then went over to May Day Cafe and met up with Meghan. It was good to hang out with her, as usual, and I got to see her later that evening as well. Dinner, house meeting, then I went to the Townhouse with Meghan and Krista, we met up with a bunch of other people. We were really the only people there aside from a handful of regulars, which was ok. Meghan introduced me to Susan, a drummer in the area who could be a good addition to SFO once we are finally in the same area again.

So the past few days, especially after our first day of work, I've been thinking about my LVC position versus the jobs my housemates have. Initially, on Thursday and Friday I was feeling a little down on myself. Generally, I kept thinking that the work my housemates will be doing will be more helpful, it provides direct services or helps organize people and that my job is helping middle and upperclass white mainly gay and lesbian Lutherans feel comfortable at church. However, I have a brilliant friend who told me "is spiritual suffering not real?"

Upon further contemplation I realized that I tend to forget how much the church hurts people, how much the church has hurt me. I left the church for several reasons, but a main one was that I was tired of the bullshit and feeling half-welcome or unwelcome. I forget that church hurt is very valid and relieving church hurt is important. I also forget that while it seems like my organization is focused on middle-upperclass white people, many more people will be impacted by positive changes in the Lutheran church. The ELCA becoming more inclusive will have global implications. In addition, other denominations will be affected. In addition my organization is committed to being an anti-racist organization, and they are trying to include bisexual and trans people, and these are all good things. Basically, I feel better and while I'm sure I'll need to keep reminding myself not to compare any of our jobs since they all are important, I think I'm doing well on that front right now.

Ok. Epic post done. I'm gonna head home and have dinner.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

all moved in

Sorry it's been a while since I updated. I know I don't have a huge rabid readership though so I feel it's ok. Also, last week I was in D.C. for LVC orientation sans computer. But now I'm all moved in to Beth Shalom in St. Paul and it's been alright so far.

I've got a bank account set up here, a cursory knowledge of the neighborhood, and I've found the nearest source of coffee and internet. I've also seen some of my friends in the area which has been fantastic.

My house mates are pretty good. We are still a little formal around each other, but we just meet two weeks ago. I'm struggling a bit with the fact that they are unaware of cisgender privilege, aren't self-identified feminists, and screw up on pronouns even though I've clarified but it'll be ok. It's not like it's awful at all, it's just that I'm not used to living in such close proximity with all other cisgendered (I'm assuming) and heterosexual people without having other queer people around. I guess one way of putting it is that the fact that binding is stressing me out and making me feel short tempered and I offhandedly commented about it and one of my housemates basically said that it's not that big of a deal, I shouldn't put myself through it because there wasn't any point. But it'll be ok. I'm gonna do a tranny/genderqueer/intersex 101 for community night and we'll go from there.

I've been given a copy of Athens Boys Choir newest CD "Bar Mitzvah Hits of the 80s, 90s & Today" and it's amazing, I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Other things that are new, I'm reading a book called Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. It's about feminism, transsexuality and politics. She makes some excellent points, one that I've really been thinking about is how feminism bashes femininity sometimes and upholds the dichotomy of masculine good/feminine bad that mainstream society follows, and that needs to change.

I start working tomorrow. I'm pretty excited. I've discovered that I need some structure/routine in my life otherwise I start feeling aimless and it's easier for me to feel crappy about myself. Also, I'm excited to work in a place that recognizes and respects my gender preference.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One Day of Work Left...

The internet in my house went out earlier this week. I don't know what happened to it, it's strange, I can pick up the wireless signal, it just won't connect to the internet. So I've been coming to the magpie to feed my internet addiction.

News in life.. Tomorrow is my last day of work. I'm excited. Rex is a great kid, I'm going to miss him, but I am ready for LVC. I am both excited and nervous for orientation. I'll get to see Kristin again, and I haven't seen her since our re-entry meeting I think. I'll get to visit with Meghan for an evening, also a good thing. I'm also excited to meet my housemates. I'm also nervous about that. I still haven't heard anything from anyone but the housemate who initiated emailing with her question about crock pots. Then I sent an email where I came out in addition to responding to the crock pot question. And then silence. No one else has emailed. Oh well.

I wasn't expecting anyone to say anything about the trans stuff, but I was expecting them to at least introduce themselves. I guess it might be a little overwhelming, maybe they felt the best thing to do was just not say anything. I tried to keep it simple, mainly just because I wanted to inform them before orientation. I didn't get into the fact that I don't see myself as "a man" but that I feel more like not woman, not man, mainly because I didn't want to make the email a soapbox for me to talk about trans activism.

I'm also looking forward to working for LC/NA. The whole gay-for-pay thing is pretty exciting. Unless there's some jekyll and hyde stuff going on at the office, my co-workers are all really awesome people.

I'm thinking about starting some video blogs, aka "vlogs" to document transition since I'm planning on starting hormones. The one hitch in this plan is that I don't have a camera and purchasing one would involve spending money. So we'll see. I'm gonna start looking around for cheap cameras, maybe see if I can find a used one online.

That's another thing I'm extremely excited about. Transition. Throughout the summer, I've been struggling with family, and I'm sure it will be a continued struggle, but if it's possible for me to start hormones without going broke, I'm doing it. Ideally, my insurance from LC/NA will cover it so all I need to pay is a small co-pay. If that doesn't work out, I'll be fundraising and it'll happen somehow.

I've been dogsitting this past week for my roommate's dog. He's a good dog and all, but I'm glad she's coming home today. I haven't been getting nearly enough sleep because he barks, or growls, or pokes his nose in my face throughout the night. So here's to a full night's sleep coming my way.

Tonight I'm off to make pad thai with Sam. Well, maybe some other food, but last time we discussed it we were gonna make pad thai. We're also going to finish the last half of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" which we didn't finish last week mainly because I crashed and needed to go sleep.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fagette

Here's a little bit of queer tranny joy for you today. It was definitely the high point of my day, which you can take however you want.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bad News

A UU church in Knoxville was attacked by a man with a gun, apparently mainly because of their acceptance of LGBT people. He opened fire during a performance of Annie featuring like around 25 children.
Luckily, he only got off a few shots before members of the congregation tackled him. Stuff like this just makes my heart hurt.
Here's the story.

thumbs up to Keira Knightly, there are weird people in Decorah

Keira Knightly has publicly stated she doesn't want her body to be digitally enhanced for her next movie, the Duchess. Go Keira for not going along with "the industry's" attempts to create body standards that are unattainable.

In other, way more local news, the house next to me was torn down today. They started at 6am. I sleep with my window open. And the house is oh, maybe 20 ft from my window. Needless to say I started my day a bit earlier than usual as well. When I biked off to work I noticed the old man who lives two houses down had brought out his lawn chair
and was watching the machine tear down the house at 7:30am. I got back from work around 4:30, he was still sitting in the chair, watching the house get torn down. Seriously? That's weird.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Summer of Outings.

Apparently, this is just going to be the summer of outings for me. First I got outed to my summer employer, then to people at Luther, then to my grandmother, and now by my employer to another friend.

I ran into this friend of mine on Thursday night outside of the Haymarket. It's Nordic Fest in Decorah, and he was back in town visiting. It was one of those awkward conversations where he had heard that I was transitioning and brought it up right after he said hi so I didn't even have a chance to tell him myself.
He also used to work for my current employer. He looked after her son when he was younger and he also worked in catering. He had apparently stopped in to see my employer at her job and visit and say hi. All nice, polite, normal things to do, though this visit included her telling my friend that I am transitioning. And really, that part is ok with me. I would've told him if he hadn't heard already, and it's not like I'm deeply in the closet, or in the closet at all about being trans. The part that has me a little upset is what her comments to my friend were.

Apparently her commentary on the situation was something the lines of "so you're rebelling by becoming the status quo?"

That really hurt. It threw me off for the rest of the evening, I ended up leaving and going home after that and thinking about transitioning for a few hours. Hearing comments like that are difficult for me, it makes me doubt myself. It's similar to the argument that I'm less of a feminist for transitioning, that I'm conforming to the system and all that. It's the same message I get from my parents, from some of my friends. That I shouldn't have to transition if I really believe that gender isn't real, that what a "real" queer would do is live without transitioning, or that I'm somehow a better person and a better activist as a female. That I'm selling out. It makes me scared, that maybe I am selling out and being less feminist by transitioning. When did feminism become about policing others choices, bodies, identities?

And now my dilemma is that I don't know how I'm going to feel when I face my employer again on Monday. I know she respects me as a human, but I want her to respect my transition even if she doesn't understand it. On the one hand, I don't want to perpetuate any cycles of gossip so I don't really want to confront her with what my friend told me. One the other hand, if that's how she feels, she could have the decency to tell me, and she could then have the decency to listen to me instead of writing me off. Her kid gets it better than she does. And he's six.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recent Reading

I love google reader. One of my favorites on my google reader that I think should be on yours is the website Feministing.com. Today this lovely story about rethinking marriage popped up and I thought I'd share.

Here's a little quote, then the link to the rest of the article is at the bottom. Happy Monday!

I've spent more time than I'd like to remember in the past three or four years explaining to family, friends, and perfect strangers why I'm not dying to walk down the aisle (note: he has spent at least half as much time doing so, an incredibly irritating discrepancy). Usually my answer goes something like this: 1) I don't want to participate in an institution that's been historically sexist and currently discriminates against my gay friends, especially considering that my partner and I couldn't have been married in some states just 40 years ago (we're miscegenators), and 2) I'm uncomfortable with the "till death do us part" rhetoric that seems to suggest that two people parting ways is an inherent failure, rather than, as is so often the case, a necessary moment of growth and change.

For the latter explanation, I usually get a pitying look and an onslaught of romantic counter-argument, as if I am a princess in a fairy tale who has suddenly lost faith in the glass slipper. (Never mind the cold, hard fact that over half of marriages end in divorce.) For the former, I get little more than skeptical silence; people always suspect that the political argument is just a big cover up for my boyfriend's frozen feet.

Public reaction aside, I'm starting to doubt my own justifications. What am I to make of my commitment to not participate in a sexist, historically racist institution when my own gay friends are flocking to the coasts so they can join in the gift registry and the white-dress hoopla? Of course they deserve all the legal protections and economic benefits of a legalized marriage; according to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, there are over 1,400 state and federal rights guaranteed by marriage, while there are only 300 state benefits and no federal protection for civil unions. But do these rights really trump the woman-as-property history and discriminatory present (on a state by state basis, of course)? Why do so many of my gay friends have such faith that they can transform the institution when I'm still so unsure?


Click here to read the whole article

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Facebook is stupid.

Last week after I got home from Hearts on Fire I finally got up the nerve to change my name on facebook. I had been putting it off for some time because my siblings, father, and some people from my parents congregation are all friends with me on facebook and I didn't want to cause any massive freakouts and whatnot. I got back to town and was doing the whole "look for people I just met on facebook" thing. I must've been on some sort of LC/NA HoF induced high because I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to just change my name, and hope that either a) no one noticed or b) someone would ask me and we'd have this deep, connected conversation where they would instantly understand trans issues and be completely supportive of me.

Needless to say, neither of these things happened. Instead, Wednesday when I was at work hanging out with Rex I called up my mother to ask her if she had found the star wars soundtrack at home so I could make a copy for Rex to listen to while we played star wars. No, she did not find the soundtrack. However my father (of all people) noticed that I changed my name to Dylan on facebook. She proceeded to become very upset, inform me that my parents don't support me in this, that my insurance policy is still under Amy, and that I shouldn't be changing my name on facebook because it's not true. Also, I was informed that I need to tell my parents at every step of the way every little decision I make concerning transition. In addition, she went off on Thomas Beatie (aka the Pregnant Man) and how that was confusing and was "it" a man or a woman, and that it just wasn't natural. Basically, I think she needed to vent a lot of her frustration and confusion.

However, I was at work. I was tired, I had been sick the day before, and I didn't really expect my parents to notice that I changed my name on facebook before my siblings did. I should've responded better than I did. My response was initially to explain that I know my insurance and legal documentation is all under Amy, but facebook is a social networking site and I want to socially network in my preferred name. What threw me was her launching into the diatribe about Thomas Beatie, and the fact that my mother, who I typically consider to be a very intelligent woman, hadn't taken the time to get past the sensationalistic aspect of the story and was trying to compare my experience to his experience. In the end, I got defensive with my mother, and told her I couldn't continue the conversation because I was defensive and unable to be open to talking with her.

I get frustrated because I don't know how to not feel attacked when I talk to my parents about trans issues. I also get frustrated because I feel like I have to be more calm, collected, and informed than my parents. In addition, I get frustrated because I feel like I have to continually be educating my parents. I give them information, books, websites, and pamphlets, but it seems like they don't take the initiative to read them or discuss them with me.

In the end, my slightly immature solution was to unfriend my father, siblings, cousins, and church folk on facebook. I probably should've just left everything as is, because people are going to learn about it eventually anyways. It just seemed the easier route to take at the time when I was upset and angry.

I don't know how to handle talking with my family about transition gracefully.

Monday, July 7, 2008

San Francisco

I got back last night/early this morning from San Francisco. It was a really great week. Long and exhausting, but great.
I met a lot of amazing people, had some great discussions, and some downright silliness. I got to see a close friend who I haven't seen in a year. I also was in the church that they filmed the funeral scene from rent in so that was cool.
I think one of the most enjoyable parts of the week was being called Dylan by everyone, and not needing to worry about the name issue. I also really enjoyed hearing Gene Robinson speak, and also John Selders. I would go more into all of this.. but I'm tired and can't really process this all right now.
So yeah.. Lutherans Concerned conference was good, even though some of us joked about our hearts being on fire with the heartburn of the lord.
Tonight I'm gonna shower and go to bed early cause I did not get nearly enough sleep. Soon to come, some reflections on Lutheranism. woo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

whiney post

I feel like shit today. My back hurts like hell from wearing my binder and my cursed quickly arriving menstruation. (For reference, the -ed in cursed should be emphasized curs-ED. May not be grammatically correct, but so much fun to say). Said binder is also rather difficult to remain cool in during the summer, and also rather difficult to feel physically comfortable. I much prefer fall and spring weather when I can still wear hoodies and long sleeve shirts without frying. I usually feel grossly fat and unattractive in summer because my breasts just feel way more prominent than in the winter when I can hide them under more layers. I'm aware that neither of those statements are true, I'm just saying that's how I feel.

I'm getting nervous about the conference in San Francisco. I wish I could put my finger on what exactly has me freaked out, but so far it's remained pretty difficult to determine. I just feel this vague sense of dread. I'm kinda nervous that the Lutherans Concerned people won't like me, will think I'm a horrible person to pick as their intern, and that all the "youth" in the session I'm co-leading will think I'm weird in a bad way.

I finished a rather horrible book yesterday from the public library called "The Left Hand of Darkness." I just didn't really get into it. The author was trying to (I think) make the point that having a society in which the social differences between men and women will be erased only when men and women share child-care equitably, and trying to point out how incredibly important one's sense of gendered self is in most societies on earth. I just felt it was rather heavy handed and utilized ideas about what gender is and how we are gendered that I just don't really agree with. Oh well.

On a less narcissistic note, came across this story about a pro-life congressional candidate in Oregon whose not-so-pro-life past actions have come to light. *headshake* Funny how that works. On the topic of abortion, I got into an interesting conversation with one of the kids here at summer seminars about abortion. He is Catholic, and follows the Vatican's opinion on abortion. Maybe it's just a warning of things to come with LC/NA, but I found it was extremely difficult to discuss abortion with him without getting upset and shutting off while remaining open and listening to him. I just feel like most debates about abortion or lgbt issues and the church are just circular arguments where both sides end up saying the same things with no real progress. Granted, I'm biased, and for me progress is people against abortion or lgbt rights or women's rights realizing that they should shift, not me recanting my ideas.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer is busy

It has been a while. Life has just been really busy it seems.

Here's a Quick List of What's Happened Lately
-I've move into my house for the summer, and started taking care of Rex during the days. -Iowa has been flooded, I evacuated my house. Luckily everything was fine in my house.
-Decorah's First Annual Pride Celebration featuring a concert by the amazing Namoli Brennet
-Sumner visiting for a few days. We got a song written, go us
-Butch vegetarian cooking with Sam Kemp, so far we've made eggplant parmesan and curry
-Met my supervisor for next year and the current Lutherans Concerned LVCer, I'll be going out to San Francisco for the annual Lutherans Concerned conference the week of the fourth of July

And I think that pretty much brings me up to date. I'm currently doing summer seminars for the diversity center. So far we've got around a quarter of the kids here. One frustrating thing is one of the other RAs, who has never done summer seminars before, is really getting on my nerves. Last night at dinner he talked about himself the whole time. When we went to movie gallery, he set down his movie gallery card with showing his ID and left the building. We had to go chase him down. He then proceeded to take half of the kids with him in the vehicle he had driven without waiting for us to count them, and sent kids back in vehicles they didn't arrive in. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but when we drive the kids places, they need to return in the vehicle they arrived in. Then we know who is or isn't missing. Then, when he got back, he took off and just left the kids outside Farwell. The other two vans hadn't even gotten back to Farwell yet. He needs to communicate with the rest of the RAs. So far it just feels like he's just another person the rest of the RAs need to keep track of. I'm trying to be patient though. Anyways. I've vented, I feel a little better about it.

Last night I got to go hang out with Drea for a few hours. It was really good to see her and catch up about life. We ended up just sitting in her sister's backyard talking about the Lutheran church, seminary (she wants to be a pastor), what's new in our lives. It made me feel a little nostalgic for the times when my friends were all in town, and we could hang out all together and see each other more than once a year. On the other hand, I am really happy that we've all stayed in touch as well as we have. I guess it's the perils of having friends that graduate before or after you do.

Friday, May 30, 2008

sometimes i hate computers

so i just had one of those great encounters with computers where you write a really lengthy, detailed, meaningful (i hope) blog post and then my computer decided to freeze up. well technically firefox did. and unfortunately no draft was saved on blogger. *sigh*

basically.. the gist of it was i can't sleep, so i wrote a long journal entry about commencement, my road trip to KC with friends, spending the last few days with my brother and sister, how i've recently become re-addicted to a computer game called caesar three, and how i really would love to feel tired. well i do feel tired. i just can't actually seem to drift off to sleep.

so yeah, instead of attempting to re-write the entry or writing something completely different i decided to post this instead because i wanted to at least have some record that i did indeed attempt to blog something more. oh well.

i should probably attempt sleep again, seeing as i am going to try and leave tomorrow around 6:30-7am in the morning.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Jane Doe" Rape Kits Go National

I found an interesting article over on the blog feministing.com about how women who've been sexually assaulted and don't know if they want to press charges yet can now get free rape kits done nationally starting in 2009. Basically, the evidence is placed in a sealed anonymous envelope and if the woman decides to file a police report, can be brought forward. I know Iowa already does this, but it's pretty fantastic that it's finally going national.
Check out the link for more information.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i3sHL9tK9gLLO7Z4r6P4csSPjirAD90L2STO0

Monday, May 12, 2008

insomnia strikes again

ugh. i've been trying to sleep since around 12:30. *sigh* I tried reading my social theory and praxis book. If reading durkheim doesn't make you tired enough to go to sleep I don't know what will. Honestly, I am tired. The problem is that my body just doesn't seem to want to sleep. Anyways.
Watched the movie Shortbus earlier this evening/last night with my cluster. It's a really great movie, by John Cameron Mitchell who also did the movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Shortbus has some cinematic similarity, which makes sense with it being the same director and all. The soundtrack was also amazing. The score was by Yo La Tengo, Animal Collective featured in the soundtrack, as did Bitch. Danielle Sea and Bitch were in the movie as well actually (well she wasn't a huge character but she was there with Bitch). Basically, the movie kinda follows these interconnected stories between people who find their way to this club called "shortbus." Anyways. There is some pretty graphic sex, so it's not for the faint of heart or those who get skeeved out by penises, vaginas, hetero or homo sex, or orgy-esque scenes. I really enjoyed it because it had a very clear queer sensibility, which I always appreciate in films. There was also an underlying message of connection between individuals, connection on a level deeper than the sexual, how sometimes sex can be shallow and a disconnecting experience, how sometimes we find connection most within ourselves, or with someone you meet randomly.
Anyways. I'm gonna attempt sleep again now that it's 5am. Here's to getting at least 6 hours of sleep.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

why being outed sucks, or, please respect my own body knowledge and experience thank you very much

Today I was outed for the first time in a really long time. I mean, I suppose I get "outed" in different ways all the time, people read me as queer, or people mention that I like girls. And that's fine and all. I've just never been outed as a trans person before and really, it was kind of nerve wracking and frustrating on several levels.

One of the placements I interviewed with for LVC called up one of my references asking about "Dylan." Now, it could've been worse. The person he called was luckily the adviser for the lgbta group here. However, she still was not aware that I am trans, and that I am going by Dylan. So I got a voice message from her during class asking me to stop by her office because she had an LVC question. I go by, and she asks me about it, I tell her that yes, I'm planning on transitioning. She proceeds to express shock and disappointment that I would give up being a woman, talking about how I am such a strong woman, that part of the reason she wants me to nanny for Rex is so that he has an example of a "strong, beautiful woman" around. *sigh* I explain to her that I've struggled with this for a long time, and that I am extraordinarily unhappy in my body. She suggested that I wait a few years after college to "find my voice" and that once I get away from "small minded Lutherans" I'll feel more comfortable being a woman, and that women go through cycles and transformations. She also made some comments about trust, and how I won't be trusted as easily as a man. *sigh*

I know she means well, and I know she was saying these things because she does care about me. But honestly I'm a little hurt and a little offended. I know that I am unhappy in my body, and that it's not about having low self-esteem, or wanting privilege. My identity is part of my bodily, lived experience, which is valid and a truth. The fact that I am trans doesn't change my queerness, my politics, my feminism, my activism, or who I am as a person. In particular I wanted to emphasize to her that my feminism is not implicit in having female secondary sex characteristics. I am still perfectly capable of transitioning and being feminist. Yes, I know that being read as a man in society will come with privilege. For me, I'm reading it as more subversive. I am not transitioning for the bonus perks of manhood. Transition can be seen as revealing how little there is between men and women. As I mentioned when I wrote about Max Valerio, transsexuality reveals the tenuous nature of the line between woman and man.

The whole situation reminded me of reading about bodies in Eli Clare's "Exile and Pride." In particular, his discussion of bodies, and how bodies can be home. I understand Eli when he says "home starts here in my body, in all that lies embedded beneath my skin," when he talks about how our culture and class and background are all aspects of our bodies as home. My body was home in my childhood, I felt comfortable and safe in my body. It was at puberty that my body turned on my, and started changing and that was when my body ceased to be completely home. Even today, I fight with my body as home. I know my parts of my body as home, I've learned that directing my frustration at my body itself isn't effective and is detrimental to my health.

I would be remiss if I didn't admit that the mere fact that I will be able to afford transition has class implications. I am white and upper/middle class, and educated. I don't know what it feels like to grow up in a rural community, in a working class community. The fact that I will be able to make my body home, to make my body that bridge, is evidence of my class standing, and I will need to deal with that.

My interaction with the pride adviser was frustrating because I didn't know how to explain to her that I want to be fully home in my body again. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not feel a disconnect between my image of who I am in my head. In the end, I wish I could explain to her that I will finally feel at home in my body when I can take hormones and have surgery, and that it has nothing to do with wanting to not be a woman, or wanting male privilege.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

back pain

Today my back hurts. A lot. This is mainly because I've been binding on a regular basis, and apparently the muscles in the human back are not meant to stand up to being compressed every day by the binder. I think it's only aggravated by the fact that my binder rolls up and pulls right across my lower back whenever I engage in anything more active than sitting. Unfortunately I haven't figured out a good way to keep it from doing this yet. If any of you have suggestions, I will try them and let you know how it goes.
I think the back pain isn't helped by the fact that I'm currently being visited by my monthly nemesis, menstruation.
Anyways.
In other news much happier news, I've been doing some research, and I think it's possible that I'll be able to afford hormones next year. It will depend on how much visits to the endocrinologist are, how often the endo will want me to come back to check my levels, and how much (if at all) my insurance or job will cover/reimburse me for medical stuff. So the next step for me is to make an appointment at the tranny clinic and start getting answers to such questions. And really, my quality of life will improve. It's become abundantly clear to me that try as I may, I can't really be completely happy living with tits and hips. And I do think that LVC would be a safe place to start hormones, which is also important.
So yeah. If anyone has any binding suggestions, let me know. Happy trails.

Friday, May 2, 2008

paperweight

I saw the theater/dance piece "paperweight" this evening at Luther, and it was fantastic. The piece really illustrated a lot of the concepts we've been discussing in class, which is expected really since Amanda, the director, has been in class with us. She did a really good job I think of tying the theories and discussions to the movement.

One evident theme in the piece was borders. Crossing physical borders, the borders in the piece change as the performers raised, lowered and shifted paper columns and screens. One scene in particular reminded me of crossing through customs, where there is a doorway of sorts and the performers needed to be inspected before they passed through it.

In addition, a lot of the different sections could be interpreted as different types of border crossings. Crossing deserts, boat crossings, sneaking across borders. In addition, the different types of barriers, from other people, from the environment, from within were evident in the movement. Sometimes the performers would stop one another, slowing each other down, sometimes they would run into walls, sometimes they would stop themselves.

The piece also was open to a lot of different meanings. I interpreted one scene where the performers put on and took off layers of clothing as trying on identity, seeing what fits and what doesn't, trying to fit with society's expectations of how we were supposed to be. On the other hand, I know from the talkback that other audience members saw that as a "preparing to cross into the United States" section.

That example illustrates how the piece was open to a multiplicity of meanings, that there was no one "right" interpretation of what was going on in the piece. On the whole, I could tell that a lot of thought and exploration had gone into the piece, and it was exciting to recognize aspects of our class discussions in what was going on in the performance.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ch-ch-changes

Just a little something to brighten your day!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Queer Theory

I feel a special affinity for queer theory whenever we study it in classes. I think it's partially because my first year of college I would go down to the basement of the library to the HQ section (homos and queers) and devour books about LGBT issues that often used a queer lens to view the world. So now reading queer theory always brings back memories of browsing through the stacks, sitting down in the aisle propping my feet up against one shelf and leaning back against another and completely losing track of time.

There are several aspects of queer theory that I really enjoy. For one thing, queer theory has an emphasis on context, and admitting the context that theory and experience grows from. So admitting class, history, cultural influences, personal experience etc. all shape your viewpoint. Part of this is a recognition of multiplicity, that there are many different and valid ways of being and seeing the world. I admire this, I think it allows people to stand where they are but to be able to understand how the world would look differently if they stood in a different position.

In addition, queer theory grew out of a combination of academics and activism. While queer theory can sometimes be complicated and described in complicated language, the basic concepts aren't that difficult to grasp, and many of the ideas of queer theory are already lived on within certain social groups.

Another aspect of queer theory I appreciate is the fact that queer can be a noun, an adjective and verb. Queer as a noun and an adjective are kind of self explanatory. Queer as a verb on the other hand, is one of my favorite usages. To queer, to unfix from prior definition, to shatter preconceptions and rebuild new meanings, to challenge binaries, to challenge who creates knowledge.

One aspect of queer theory that I've struggled with is the notion of identity, labeling and queer theory. I think my current conclusion, after a lot of thought, is that queer theory and labeling aren't necessarily contradictions. Labels can be useful, and I think the point isn't to do away with fixed identity and labels. I think the idea is to challenge identity and labels, and to realize that that's all they are, labels. To admit their use, to use them and then discard them when they are no longer necessary. Of course that's easier said than done.

One downside of queer theory is that it is centered in a western context, and it doesn't really translate to non-western contexts as well. In addition, it was developed mainly by white people. Again, while queer theory does emphasize being grounded in context, it's important to remember the contexts that allowed queer theory to develop.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

frustration

Sometimes I feel like even though I've gotten to the point where I know that I need to transition, and that it's the right choice for me, it'll never actually happen. That I will never get rid of the complete and utter disconnect between my inner embodiment and my physical embodiment. I'm feeling like my body has betrayed me and playing some cruel prank on me by having the breasts and hips it does.
Nonetheless, life strangely enough feels incredibly static right now. Bizarre since my senior paper is due tomorrow, graduation is less than a month away, and I still haven't decided what I'm going to do this summer. And again, I feel like I'm never actually going to accomplish any of the physical changes I need to make to live and stay sane.
I hate being melodramatic like that. Oh well. Cliché as it may be, I know that transitioning sooner rather than later will definitely contribute in a positive way to my well being.
And now, I really need to finish my senior paper. Since it's due tomorrow at 5. *sigh*

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Postville

We went to Postville this week with my confronting the borders class. We arrived, and walked around town in small groups visiting stores and talking to people. One of the most interesting conversations I had was at the only flower shop in town. We (myself and two of my classmates) ended up talking to the two white women working in the shop. The interesting part of the conversation was when we asked about holidays. One of the women talked about how they do flowers for everyone, for "those Jewish celebrations" and also for the "Mexican" celebrations, "like Cinco se Mayo." Yes, that's right, she completely mispronounced it. The hilarious part was that she then continued to say "I think that's coming up soon, isn't it May 10th?"

We also asked about education, and that also got us a few entertaining responses. We got on to the topic of athletics because we mentioned we were from Decorah and Postville beat Decorah at some high school athletic event recently. One of the women mentioned that there are several Latino wrestlers on the high school team, but that they don't always show up for practice or put in the effort. I asked her why she thought that was the case. Her comment was very insightful. She said it was because the parents didn't push their children or instill the right values of attending practice every day. However, she analyzed her own comment (unknowingly) by stating that when the parents work and their kids need to go home to babysit or to work and make money, they don't always show up for practice.

Another entertaining interaction we had was with a strange old man outside the Guatemalan restaurant. He stopped us and called us "you Decorah people" before proceeding to tell us about how integrated the town is, that there is a Mexican and Guatemalan restaurant, that the "a Taste of Postville" celebration in the summer always brings the community together, and that the kosher grocery store has a very nice selection. He then proceeded to tell us that he had eaten the fried chicken at the Guatemalan restaurant. I could be wrong, but I don't think fried chicken is a Guatemalan specialty. The most interesting topic he talked about was the laundromat connected to "The Sweet Spot," which is an ice cream parlor. He made a comment that it was very good for the immigrants in town because "those people don't have washers and dryers" and that their children can play in the back room that they've got set up with coloring tables and blocks, and that they can get ice cream while they wait. Weird assumptions made on many counts.

On the whole, the town is a pretty fascinating mix of Hasidic Jews, white rural Iowans, and immigrant workers from Eastern Europe and Latin America. I kind of hope that a more updated book gets written than the one that was written in the 1990s. I feel like a lot has changed in the world since then, and that the United States obsession/fear with/of terrorism and immigrants probably had a significant affect on the town.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Alejandra Pizarnik

I really loved the poems of Alejandra Pizarnik. They were absolutely beautiful. I wish that I knew Spanish so that I could read them in their original language, not just translations. One of the poems that struck me the most was the following:

"like a poem buried in
the silence of things
you speak to ignore me"

I felt this poem could be applied to many different situations. Relationships, where one person is always talking over the other person, where whoever has the power to talk first and longest has more power overall. It also reminded me of the power that the United States exerts over the rest of the world. How the military spouts off the doctrine of aiding and assisting Iraqi citizens, in particular when they talk about helping women get out of abusive situations while quieting down the stories of American soldiers raping Iraqi women. Of the fhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.giformer School of the Americas, now WHINSEC, where the US military trains guerilla soldiers from Latin American countries in tactics and torture, then send them back to their countries where they rape, murder and upset the rightful governments and install puppet dictatorships. The US military denies all of the wrongful actions the graduates of this school have done, and have refused to acknowledge all of the death and carnage they have perpetuated by training these soldiers.

I'm sure I could go on and think of situations where one party that has power uses language, uses the power of speaking over another to silence those around them. The question that comes to mind for me is then how do you speak up when you don't have as much power? I think as with most other goals of activism, it's a question of critical mass. You need to build up enough people, enough collective power to make yourself heard.

One aspect of the poetry reading that I didn't enjoy as much were the poems of Susan Bassnett. I found her actual poetry to be clunky and heavy-handed, especially in contrast to Pizarnik's poetry.. The metaphors and the topics of the poems were kind of boring. I also found it problematic that Bassnett claimed this close connection to a woman who lived in a very different situation. Not because of their different experiences, but because they never actually meet and the level of closeness that Bassnett described was presumptuous. It seemed too much like western white feminists saying they know what the best way to advocate for women's rights in all other countries and contexts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

more poetry

queer def poetry

A little def poetry for you.. "i see gay people"

Monday, April 7, 2008

against, into, through

I have been feeling conflicted about the movement exercises we did in class. We did several different exercises, on the floor, against the wall. Mainly just moving, seeing how our bodies felt as we moved with our eyes closed. For one thing, I've been menstruating this week which is always challenging for me. Usually I can maintain a distance, a division between my mental being and my physical being, but menstruation always has this tendency to pull me back into my body. It's always intellectually complicated for me, because I feel like I shouldn't be as concerned about menstruating. It's a biological fact, and there's really nothing to be done about it for now.

In the same manner, the movement exercises also kept seeming to push me back into my body. I think it's partially because the exercises made me more aware of having breasts, and they kept feeling like they were getting in the way, moving in ways I didn't want them to. Which really means moving in any way that reminds me they are there. My drawing that I did reflects this actually, I drew a black form that represents my body as I see, as I wish it would be, while the red curves I drew represent my body as it is. It was interesting, because while other students in the class shared that it was easier and more comfortable with their eyes closed because they were able to shut off their external view of themselves, it was more difficult for me. I think this is partially because keeping my eyes open allows me to maintain my self-image of my body without feeling completely in my body. Closing my eyes and focusing on how my body moved was incredibly uncomfortable at times.

On the other hand, my discomfort is a good illustration of my struggle with embodiment and borders. The exercise in pushing against the wall, into the wall, through the wall was actually pretty illuminating. A lot of times I feel like I'm pushing against myself when it might be more constructive, healthier, to conceptualize my struggle with my body as pushing into myself, becoming myself.

After class I was thinking about the similarities between "Nervous Conditions" and the exercises we did. For one thing, Nyasha and Tambu both experience a schism between their lives as Africans, as women, and as students. Nyasha's experience in particular seemed parallel. Nyasha struggles more than Tambu because she lived in England when she was young, and saw the complications between colonization, education, globalization and being a woman and how these affected her own experience. She was constantly pushing against her father, against the social expectations placed on her, against her own expectations of herself. However, for both Tambu and Nyasha it isn't as easy as learning to push into their obstacles. When Tambu goes to the mission and then the integrated school it's evident that assimilation is not the best method, but staying at the homestead wasn't an option either. Basically, no matter what they do, Nyasha, Tambu and their relatives are all bound to struggle because of the forces of colonization, globalization and development active in their lives.

The Nicest Thing

A friend sent me this lovely video this morning. It's quite beautiful... the lyrics are so poetic and I'm impressed by the simplicity of the violin and guitar parts. So yeah.. enjoy.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Maya Angelou

Happy 80th Birthday Maya Angelou!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

terma collective

Today was a long day. I feel like my breasts are getting larger and that's really distressing to me. Either way, right now I am drained and exhausted, and I just don't feel up to blogging. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a chance to sit down and type.
I'll leave you with a little bit of writing by the Terma Collective that I found in my email inbox when I was cleaning it out.


May our eyes remain open even in the face of tragedy.
May we not become disheartened.
May we find in the dissolution of our apathy and denial, the cup of the broken heart.
May we discover the gift of the fire burning in the inner chamber of our being -
burning great and bright enough to transform any poison.
May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service
of something greater than ourselves.
May our guilt not rise up to form yet another defensive wall.
May the suffering purify and not paralyze us.
May we endure; may sorrow bond us and not separate us.
May we realize the greatness of our sorrow and not run from its touch or its flame
May clarity be our ally and wisdom our support.
May our wrath be cleansing, cutting through the confusion of denial and greed.
May we not be afraid to see or speak our truth.
May the bleakness of the wasteland be dispelled.
May the soul's journey be revealed and the true hunger fed.
May we be forgiven for what we have forgotten
and be blessed with the remembrance of who we really are.
-The Terma Collective

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

egotism

Last night I was having some trouble sleeping so I did what I usually do when I can't sleep, I read. First I finished reading Sex Changes: Transgender Politics by Patrick Califia. Good times. Then I started reading "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey.

Basically, the book is about is six weeks in a drug and alcohol abuse treatment center. He had been drinking since the age of 10, doing drugs since 12, and got really fucked up. He landed in the treatment center at the age of 23. However, everything he said happened didn't really happen how he said it did, according to some of the people who knew him and were there. So basically, how much leeway do you have with creative nonfiction?

Aside from the problems of how "real" his memoir is, I found the book interesting. Partially because the whole AA twelve step thing supposedly didn't work for him, mainly because he felt that you were just replacing your addiction to drugs and alcohol with an addiction to Meetings and God. Instead, a book his brother gave him called Tao Te Ching was what helped him the most. "Lose everything you know and everything you desire and ignore those who say they know. Practice not wanting, desiring, judging, doing, fighting, knowing. Practice just being. Everything will fall into place."

That makes a lot of sense to me. Don't worry about the good and the bad, just be. I especially enjoy the section where he talks about how opposites define each other, dichotomies create themselves. In particular the quote "need and depend create and define each other." If you don't depend on anything or anyone you won't need anything or anyone. If you don't need anything or anyone you won't depend on anything or anyone. And when you are able to not need or depend, you are able to just enjoy life for what it is. It makes everything seem so much less complicated than it really is. I realized that that's where a lot of dysfunction in our lives comes from, needing and depending.

Now, while this is all well and good, I also was wondering why I feel compelled to read books like this. I felt the same way when I read the book "wasted" about a woman's lifelong struggle with severely disordered eating in addition to drugs and alcohol. I think there's some unfortunate part of me that secretly enjoys reading these books not because it shows me the depth of human suffering or because I empathize with their experiences but because I can look at how fucked up other people are and be glad that I'm not nearly that fucked up, and I'll never be that fucked up. I think that's actually part of the reason why books like that are so popular, because it allows affluent people to feel reassured in how no matter how screwed up their relationships maybe be, at least there are people more fucked up than them. And people write them, and end up fabricating events that didn't even happen, and it's all part of this weird twisted voyeurism of wanting to see people at their absolute worst. It kinda freaks me out.

Anyways, if I were capable of completely letting go of my wants and desires, if I could just be, I feel like I would live my life better and be a better person to others.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Even though St. Patrick's Day was on Saturday since the Pope said so, I went to my friend Katie's house for a bit of a St. Patrick's Day party. I came back with two lovely memorable quotes.
"Party on top and business on the bottom. That would make a good life philosophy."
"I'm more of a finger person than a thumb person."
Take them as you will. If you actually want to know the contexts, comment and I'll let you know. Otherwise, I think they're pretty fantastic as is.

nifty blog notice

So Rita Seagrave is presenting an Intro to BDSM session at Smitten Kitten in the cities. It seems really interesting. After following the Smitten Kitten's links to Rita's website, I found her blog, and it's fairly well written, and I enjoy it. So.. if you're open to reading about sex and sexuality from a perspective that's really not mainstream at all, you may want to check it out.
http://ritaseagrave.com/

so i realize i've kinda been on a hiatus..

So far this semester I realize that I've mostly just blogged for my class. In case any of you were confused by some of my recent entries, that's what's going on. I'm using this blog as a digital format to do some of my journaling for a women and gender studies course I'm taking called "confronting the border." So feel free to disregard those entries if I'm referencing readings from class and whatnot. Hell, feel free to disregard any of my entries.

Anyways. The hiatus was because I was overwhelmed by life and didn't even really have any time to blog about it. Which isn't a good sign, but that's ok. I've been working on my senior paper because I 'm presenting it in two weekends at the Midwest Sociological Society Meeting. That's been a little crazy. In addition, it just seems like February was ridiculously busy with conferences and events and so on.

Also, I've been thinking a lot of being trans, surgery, hormones, all of that stuff. I mean, I am writing my senior paper on FTMs construction of their identity, so I get to think about all of this academically AND in my spare time when I'm freaking out about who I am.

I've decided that I do want to start hormones as soon as possible. As some of you know (mainly those of you who probably know me in life outside the internet), I've gone back and forth about hormones for a while. I've come to the conclusion that part of the reason I was waiting on hormones was because I didn't know how to deal with my family. I still don't know how to deal with my family, but I can't put their comfort before mine. And I don't want to get to be 30 years old and still in this body as it is. It'd kinda be like being the 40 year old virgin. Except in a trans context.. maybe the metaphor doesn't actually work. You decide on your own. Spring break, I'm laying it on the table for my parents. Telling them that this is what I need to do, that I can't put it off anymore. I'm still not sure how to talk to Rob and Natalie about it. Probably something along the same lines, except without the insurance coverage implications.

Now, I just need the insurance company to actually tell me what is and isn't covered under my insurance plan. I need to deal with the fact that my insurance will be changing, getting loans, talking with my immediate and extended family, trying to get letters with the minimal amount of money spent on therapy. Maybe I'm just egotistical, but I feel like I'm pretty well balanced. I think it's ridiculous that I need to pay a ridiculous amount of money for someone to confirm that I am indeed mentally stable and indeed should have hormones. Really, the whole thing kinda makes me want to cry. One of those good, exhausting cries where you can just get it all out and feel better.

Sorry if this was a bit of a disjointed post. I've just been feeling kinda weird lately, and realized I've been keeping a lot of stuff inside and not talking about it. So I'm working on that. Friends, if I've been standoff-ish lately, or held you at a distance emotionally, it's not you. I apologize and I'm working on it. I do appreciate every one of you for being supportive, caring and letting me grow and change. Now, I am off to counseling services to schedule a much needed and delayed appointment with Stu. Woo.