bcholmes: I poison you! (Circe Invidiosa)

In one of the early years that I attended WisCon — I want to say that this is something like 2003 — I proposed a panel: Trans Feminism. Aaron L. had volunteered to moderate, but the panel almost didn’t make it through the panel vetting process. Basically, not enough WisCon attendees expressed interest in the panel. I think the panel was saved fairly late in the process by Debbie, who agreed to be a panelist.

For a few years after that, I kind of thought to myself: “okay, there’s room for exactly this much transness at WisCon.” I thought, y’know, maybe a trans panel every few years. Maybe panels about speculative treatments of gender could include a token trans person. This much, I thought, but it’s unreasonable to expect more.

This past WisCon, I was thinking about the trans and genderqueer contingent. I was picking and choosing which of the several T/GQ panels I was gonna attend. And at times, I hung out in the trans and genderqueer safer space, now in its second year. And I think, “huh. I had such a meagre vision about what trans inclusiveness could look like at a place like WisCon.” I remember, for example, having thinky thoughts about a Fat is not the Enemy panel at WisCon in 2008: the thing I thought, then, was maybe the message of “love your body the way it is” sounds a bit suspect to my trans ears, but that thought was immediately followed with, “it’s a derailment (or at the very least, uninteresting to most attendees) to throw transness into this unrelated panel…”

Part of the way WisCon has changed over the years is that there’s just more trans folk at the con. There’s a trans/genderqueer posse. And more folk means that more trans/genderqueer content gets on the programming schedule. More consideration goes in to making the space welcoming. When the trans/genderqueer safer space was proposed, the con ran with it in a way that was amazing.

These changes are good. I like them; I support them; I’m glad for them. But a remaining problem is me. I think that I really need to own the idea of raising my expectations.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (run lola run)

“Could the doctors have made a mistake? Could I have accidentally been born a girl? I should’ve been born a boy. Can that happen?”

Jo describes this pivotal moment as “terrifying.”

“‘I have to be honest. I can’t lie.’ That’s what went through my head,” she tells me.

Jo’s reply to her child’s pressing question was simple: “Yes, that can happen.”

Her emotions were not so simple.

“That was the hardest part, trying to be supportive to your child and act like it’s no big deal and inside you’re exploding,” she says.

There’s a lengthy pause and then Jo says: “I’m sorry. I’m trying not to cry just talking about it now.”

Reflecting on that crucial conversation with Sophie, Jo says she was both “terrified for my child” and “very sad.”

“Back then I knew nothing about having a transgender child.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go from here, what was going to happen, what sort of life my child would have.

“Also, the idea of losing my only daughter, as well, was quite sad. I really wanted a daughter and all of a sudden I was going to have two sons,” Jo explains.

‘Mum, could the doctor have made a mistake?’

I suppose I understand that it’s considered a sign of progress that we’ve moved from “My child is a freak; I’m kicking the kid out!” to “I’m grieving to learn that my child isn’t cisgender. Oh, woe, for my shattered expectations.” But I’m already pretty tired of the new narrative.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

I’m sure we’ll continue to talk amongst ourselves about how to handle the current crisis. Cis people don’t get to lead that conversation. We don’t care what you think. We’re more concerned with what you do, or more often, what you don’t do.

– eastsidekate at Shakesville

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: I was just a brain in a jar (brain thoughts)

My adult understanding of my childhood with my father doesn’t erase the effects of his policing. I felt his gaze always following me, making me feel isolated as I quietly grappled with my identity. The loneliness and self-consciousness from these exchanges made me vulnerable in a way I wasn’t able to recognize until decades later.

– Janet Mock, Redefining Realness

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (queer fisting)

Antinomy, I learned from Spider Robinson, is the contradiction between two opposing principles or conclusions that are equally held. Robinson’s example was the devout Catholic who learns that his fiancée wants to become a nun. At the same time, as a devout Catholic, he should feel good about someone entering a life of service, but as a jilted partner, probably feels devastated. I confess that I’ve always found that to be a somewhat cerebral example — perhaps because I’ve never really met that kind of Catholic.

But a much more visceral example, for me, is the example of famous trans people. I’m thinking, at this moment, about Lana Wachowski; I just watched a video of her speech at the HRC and I’m fascinated that she’s trying to tackle, head on, the antinomy of visibility. There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to point out her speech: I hate how trans lives have to be so public, and when you couple that with fame, even more so. You can’t be a normal person, and be openly, publicly trans. Part of me acutely perceives what she’s given up: she’s gone from “One of the directors of The Matrix” to “That trans director.” And I have never wanted to exacerbate that, so I’ve mostly avoided talking about her.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (it's a trope!)

So I finally caught the series, Hit and Miss. In it, Chloe Sevigny plays Mia, a pre-op trans woman who happens to be a professional killer. So we’re automatically in trope territory (trans people are PSYCHO KILLERS!) But, hey, I’m willing to give any show that has a trans main character a bit of leeway.

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way, first. Our trans main character isn’t played by an actual trans person. We’re still not there. And the killer trope. I confess that I have a fondness for stories involving professional killers (Leon and La Femme Nikita and Colombiana and The Mechanic and Grosse Pointe Blank, to name but a few). Mia isn’t Buffalo Bill or Myra Breckenridge or “Bobbi” — she’s not psychopathic. For her, it’s a job. Which, admittedly, requires deadened empathy, but whatever. I was willing to just roll with that part of the show, despite the trope.

(In contrast, I recently watched the series, Wallander, and they’ve got an evil killer trans woman story, and I was totally not willing to roll with that one.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (seeing the world after april)

One set of criticism of Liar that I did not anticipate and therefore did nothing to address was that Liar depicts a trans character who is a liar, mentally unstable, and identifies with animals and that therefore Liar is transphobic. There is a long history of trans characters being depicted as psycho killers. A famous example is Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge.

This reading concludes that Micah is a trans character because early on in the book she pretends to be a boy. She does this because she is mistaken for a boy and thinks why not go with it? Within two days she’s found out and she only lasts that long because she stays out of most people’s way. After she’s found to be a girl—again because she’s not good at passing—she claims to be an hermaphrodite.

I intended both lies to be opportunist, plucked-from-the-air lies. As is her next lie that her father is an arms dealer. Micah gets more pleasure from people believing fantastical lies than from relatively easy lies.


Notice, of course, that I’m talking about what I intended. Readers are not privy to my intentions. They’re not mindreaders. They’re coming to my work with their own life experiences.

As someone who is not trans, and has known very few trans people in my life, and none of them particularly well, it did not cross my mind that anyone would read Micah as trans. My cisgendered privilege made me completely unable to see that reading of my novel until it was pointed out. I could see only what I intended.

- Justine Larbalestier, “Racism in the Books We Write”

I haven’t read Liar. I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy because of all the conversation around the cover a few years ago.

Mirrored from Under the Beret.

bcholmes: (queer fisting)

I have a question for T-folk and/or T-connected people. Do you ever use the term, "pass," in a way that includes in its meaning that the person around whom you're passing knows that you're trans? I guess I'm asking if "passing" implicitly means, "they didn't clock me as trans."

bcholmes: (queer fisting)

Genital surgery isn't required for a man to be legally recognized as a woman, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal says.

Under current law, anyone who wants a change in sex designation on his or her birth certificate must first produce a certificate signed by two medical practitioners affirming that "transsexual surgery" was carried out.

In a decision issued on April 11, the human rights tribunal said the Ontario government must now drop that requirement.

The government has 180 days to "revise the criteria for changing sex designation on a birth registration, up to the point of undue hardship, so as to remove the discriminatory effect of the current system on transgendered persons," wrote Sheri Price, a vice-chair for the tribunal.

- "Legal sex change doesn't require surgery, tribunal says", CBC News

bcholmes: (queer fisting)

While the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) is an event you may or may not usually concern yourself with, I wanted to bring to your attention an appalling violation of transwomen’s privacy and safety that is happening in conjunction with the festival right now, and the refusal of blog website Wordpress to take any action to enforce their terms of service and protect a vulnerable population from harassment or worse.


I don’t really want to get into the body-parts-based admission policies of the MWMF, however. What really disgusts me is a blog post related to this topic on the blog GenderTrender. (I'm not publicly linking to it in order to refrain from compromising the privacy of these women further). I find the post hateful in so many ways, the least of which is actually the blogger’s only "womyn-born-womyn" stance on the controversy. No, what is really disgusting is what she feels her opinion entitles her to do.

This blog post outs several transwomen with both pseudonyms AND legal names, their photos, where they can be found at the festival, and in some cases their profession and employment. Being on this “hitlist” of transwomen was not consented to by any of them, and it associates them with accusations of volatile behavior that the author has absolutely no proof any of them participated in. The blogger refuses to use female pronouns and asserts that these women, who live in one of the most marginalized segments of our society, are “chest pounding” and trying to assert male privilege in invading a womens’ space – as if people who’ve survived gender dysphoria and live outside of our binary ideas of gender have any male privilege to speak of. I can’t even fathom the kind of vulnerability and violation these women must feel. They’re now at risk for ongoing harassment from MWMF-goers, both online and in person at any future fests, and at risk of harassment and potentially violence from any other hateful person that happens to stumble on that post.

"The MWMF Blogger Transwoman Hitlist, and Wordpress' Refusal to Do Anything About It."

Trans Fail

Jan. 30th, 2011 10:57 am
bcholmes: (queer fisting)

On the plus side, I can't say that I liked Mercedes Lackey to begin with. (Link is spoiler-y and potentially triggery)

bcholmes: (gender)

This U.S. survey included over 6,400 trans women, trans men, and people imperfectly grouped together as “gender non-conforming,” from all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That makes it really big news, and a really important resource for information.

Sadly but far from surprisingly, there’s a lot of bad news. From the key findings of the report:

  • Survey participants reported very high levels of postponing medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination (28%) or inability to afford it (48%);
  • Respondents faced significant hurdles to accessing health care, including:
    • Refusal of care: 19% of our sample reported being refused care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey;
    • Harassment and violence in medical settings: 28% of respondents were subjected to harassment in medical settings and 2% were victims of violence in doctor’s offices;
    • Lack of provider knowledge: 50% of the sample reported having to teach their medical providers about transgender care;
  • Despite the barriers, the majority of survey participants have accessed some form of transition-related medical care; the majority reported wanting to have surgery but have not had any surgeries yet;
  • If medical providers were aware of the patient’s transgender status, the likelihood of that person experiencing discrimination increased;
  • Respondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection, 2.64% in our sample compared to .6% in the general population, with rates for transgender women at 3.76%, and with those who are unemployed (4.67%) or who have engaged in sex work (15.32%) even higher;
  • Over a quarter of the respondents misused drugs or alcohol specifically to cope with the discrimination they faced due to their gender identity or expression;
  • A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with unemployment, low income, and sexual and physical assault raising the risk factors significantly.



Dec. 14th, 2009 11:02 pm
bcholmes: (marxist feminist dialectic)

I've posted a poll about radical feminism over on my LJ.

bcholmes: (queer fisting)

It's about time colleges started to crack down on all that cross-dressing on campus.


Oct. 13th, 2009 08:31 pm
bcholmes: (gender)

Is Chicken Boo a metaphor for trans experience?

bcholmes: (run lola run)

Blatt was working for Manpower, a temporary employment service. After she was asked to leave a job she was on for Manpower in 2007, they told her that she’d have to provide documentation from her surgeon regarding genital surgery, plus a photograph of her genitalia in order to seek further employment through them.

"I’m Sorry, But We’ll Need to See Your Genitals" at Body Impolitic


bcholmes: (Default)
BC Holmes

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