For Your Entertainment: part II

HBO is planning a new drama series about a trans-masculine transition. Who else is worried about this?

“T” as the show is known, follows a person who is transitioning from female to male. The creators of the show are the same as those who created “In Treatment” an HBO show that surrounds sessions of psychotherapy. Charming. I’m surely looking forward to how  bunch of non-trans hollywood know-it-alls are going to portray us.

Now, maybe I’m being overly pessimistic.  Just because the popular media has a habit of portraying us as self-hating hideousos, lying tricksters, and fame-seeking sideshow acts doesn’t mean that this new portrayal will be a disaster… It just makes it highly probable.

With the growth of our movement, there is an expected growth of attention. More people will talk about us, more people will wonder about us, more people will hate us, and inevitably, more people will be fascinated with us. I never quite know how to interpret the fascination factor. Should I be flattered that my identity is so interesting? Am I a better person because I am supposed to be more complex and my story is more… entertaining?

As I wrote back in June about growing trans attention, I feel that sensationalizing difference is another form of societal oppression. Making a TV special or going on Oprah where no real information or acceptance is promoted is no different than displaying us in a cage for view. Of course I realize that tons of people and identities are put on display every day. That doesn’t make any one instance more or less acceptable. Most media representation isn’t about helping a movement, its so people can sit in front of their TV and say “Holy shit, what a freak. Glad I’m not like that.” Its so big-wig “non-profits” can get recognition by being seen as an authority as they slap a mental disorder on us. Or so a bunch of bored hipsters can ask invasive questions and claim us as friends for cool points. I fucking hate hipsters….

These people don’t care about us, they are working for their own interests. So, who’s out there working for us? It sure isn’t them. It has to be us. We have to make our own public image, and if people choose to be fascinated by us, we’ll know its because of our hot sexy fabulousness, not because of what Oprah says.

Sorry Maine, I don’t give a fuck

So Maine didn’t get marriage, yeah sucks to be Maine. As for me, I don’t give a flying fuck.

I understand that marriage is an important issue because of all the legal and civil benefits attached to it. Though my personal feelings are wholly disinterested, even disgusted, by the “LGBT” movement’s preoccupation with marriage, I am not outside recognizing the benefits of legalizing queer marriage. What I want to know is, if this “marriage issue” is so important why are people more interested in fixing it for others but not themselves? Ohio has TWO DOMA amendments, TWO, because one wasn’t enough. But no, yeah, you take care of Maine. They need more help than we do.

I agree that these rallies on behalf of California and Maine could be part of a bigger movement to promote visibility. But I don’t know how folks in Ohio are going to prove anything by stating they won’t stand for marriage inequality in Maine when they must not mind marriage inequality in Ohio.  I think the main reason is this: Everyone else is doing it. People love to be part of something bigger, so why not get on board to support other states and have no idea what is going on in your own. Its not like you live there or anything. It’s easier to complain about what’s going on in someone else’s yard than to take a long hard look at what your own place. Every day I see listserv and blog posts by people who live in Ohio or the Midwest but all they talk about is the east or west coast and what we can do to “help them.” Fuck that shit, bitches are blue states with high-income non-profits and god-damn celebrities. Fuckers can help themselves. Better yet, fuckers can help me. I have a vet bill to pay and radical activism doesn’t cut me any checks.

I’ve had people tell me that we need to focus on the easy parts first, keep in line so we don’t scare folks off. Well, I’m not gonna get any less scary after you pass your legislation that doesn’t have me in it and Ohio isn’t gonna get any easier once your state is in it.  I try not hate on folks who are good hearted and want to work for change, even if its not how I would do it. However, I can’t help being opinionated about people who tell me I’m not a “team player” and they themselves do absolutely nothing.

NEWS FLASH: Posting a facebook event is not the end all be all of change. Shocking, I know.

Don’t judge me and my work when all you have is a motherfucking facebook account. If you want to complain, that is not my problem. Go update your status about it. Your HRC fan page friends will love it.


The International Oppression Spreads

It has finally happened. Gender Identity Disorder (GID) has infiltrated Thailand. GID was previously only in countries whose mental health coding was determined either by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)  or the ICD (the International Classification of Diseases, whose GID diagnosis directly based off of the DSM’s language). Now GID is now making moves East.

Countries like Thailand have been one of the last harbors for those seeking gender confirming surgeries without GID and without the high price. The Medical Council of Thailand has now moved to following similar requirements to those in the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care where psychiatric evaluation(s) and “one year life experience” are demanded to prove the legitimacy of a person’s identity. Thailand also requires that foreigners looking to have gender confirmation surgery there must get approval from a psychiatrist in their home country AND one in Thailand before being approved. The Medical Council of Thailand representatives state that “at least two psychiatrists must give guarantees in order for someone to be allowed access to services. What kind of guarantees are they looking for?

Like the person mentioned in the article, by the time a person is ready for a gender confirming surgery they have already been living as themselves, some for over 20 years. Some people don’t have the luxury to live as themselves because it isn’t safe where they live, and some people live in ways that doesn’t match with what GID describes as “real life experience.” And apparently the concern isn’t for our well being alone. We also need to worry about the society we live in.

“Sex reassignment surgery would affect the physical body (of the person undergoing the operation), as well as people’s mental health and society around them.”

Well, Hella forbid I upset someone else with my identity. If I ever wanted to have surgery, not only am I sure that my life would not be considered “real” male experience, I am certain that I would not be considered a promoter of society’s mental health. Does that mean I’m not trans? Who makes the decision? Apparently they do. Silly me for thinking I should know myself. Do I even need to continue my rant here? Or should I just write out a big FUCK YOU. In the wise words of Cartmen I say,”Whateva, I do what I want!”

I do want to point out that I don’t think that greater regulation of these procedures isn’t needed. Many people have experienced serious problems due to the lack of regulation of surgeries in ALL countries. My interpretation of that is that the lack of accessibility is forcing people to put themselves at risk. Spreading the malice of GID is not the answer to bettering out lives and our access to transitional medical care. What we need is accountable AND accessible care that doesn’t force people to die of infections or bleed out on tables because they don’t have the money or the means to access the system’s care.

Ohio License Doesn’t Require Surgery, Just Insanity

It’s official. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ no longer requires a letter stating a person has had gender-confirmation surgery, an amazing victory. Now people are able to correct their licenses gender marker enabling them safer, more accurate identification. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.

This past week I was sent the unofficial, pre-press printout of the new BMV form. I was thrilled, like a kid on Christmas. My head was swimming with the possibilities, not just for myself, but for so many others. I opened the PDF and started to read.

“To be qualified, the medical professional must attest that the transition is being conducted in accordance with World Professional Association for Transgendered Health (WPATH) Standards of Care. This change is only to be made as part of a permanent, full time gender transition.”

My heart sank. I could see the image of that laminated M disappear. I can’t get my marker changed because I don’t follow the standards of care.

Every six months I drive five and a half hours to Chicago to get my trans-health care because I refuse to be diagnosed with gender identity disorder. My identity is not mentally disordered. I refuse to be labeled as such simply because queer gender does not conform to what is considered normal. If you had the right doctor, you could maybe swing something, but good luck finding a doctor who’s willing to break out of the box. Remember, this is Ohio. Could I get a letter? Maybe I could, but in order to do that I have to bow to a system of standards that oppress me, that oppress my people. I don’t look like a woman, I don’t sound like one, and I don’t belong to the F marked on my license but that isn’t enough to get it changed. I have to be legally diagnosed as mentally disordered- I have to be certifiably “transsexual” and apparently I’m trans enough to count. I understand that GID is on the books, and as long as it is I shouldn’t expect our community to get anything but the bare minimum, and as a genderqueer I shouldn’t expect to get anything.

Diligent, amazing activists worked hard to make this change as comprehensive and accessible as possible, but as long as we are inside a system that supports the pathologization of gender non-conformity our community is still controlled and oppressed. We are all trapped in this system, and if we ever want these first steps take us anywhere, the system itself must be changed. My dear friend wrote about change happening from the ‘bottom up.’ To me, it isn’t just about grassroots activism; it is a statement that this is the bare-minimum. We started with nothing, now we have a something, but we have a long way to go. Other movements have left us out but we cannot leave each other. Any gender transgressor is in our community and deserves to fight and to be fought for. No genderqueer left behind.

x-posted Amplify Your Voice
x-posted Trans Group Blog

No More Cincinnati GenderQueers

I have just found out that the radical, genderqueer activist organization I founded almost four years ago has reworded its description. What once described the group as “a radical queer group for all gender identities and sexualities, focusing on queer, trans, and genderqueer issues” now reads that it is a “queer social, support and activist group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied students focusing on gender issues.” In the year and a half I have been gone, GenderBloc has gone from being a genderqueer and trans focused, queer radical organization to a LGBTQ social activist group… and just like the rest of the movement gender has moved from the forefront to an afterthought.

I cried when I read it.

Now the current focus of the group is “LGBTQ rights, inclusion, and visibility” and that it discusses “topics of gender a lot particularly in regards [to] those people who have a non-normative gender identity such as transgender or genderqueer.” Well, at least they talk about gender “a lot.” They wouldn’t want to leave “those people” out. They need our money and our blood to power our movement machine. They need us to die on the front lines because they are too pretty to do it. They need us to stir their souls into knowing that there is more here than what we’ve all been told… but they’ll never tell anyone about it.

I realize that this is an honest attempt to make GenderBloc better. I realize this makes GenderBloc more packagable. I realize that some people feel queer isn’t good enough and need to separate us into an acronym. I realize that there aren’t hoards of genderqueers around Cincinnati so people think we don’t need help. And I’ve finally realized that GenderBloc isn’t my baby anymore…

Someone once said to me, “I love GenderBloc is because its a place to belong for people who have never belonged anywhere.” It was one of the best things anyone has ever said to me, and I’ll always have that.


Oct. 11th in DC: Equality or Egoism?

[First off, sorry for the lag in posts. I am now officially settled in my new job at Oberlin College which means the blog is coming back to life!]

There has been a lot of exciting talk about the equality march in Washington D.C. this October. I’m always up for starting a required ruckus. My question is, is this required or redundant?

In anticipation of this magic march I started to ask what this “equality” event is about. Cleve Jones says he wants “full and equal protection” in “all matters” which is awesome, but from what I can find marriage is the only issue specifically mentioned anywhere. Last time I checked, marriage rights and equality are not the same thing. Well, not unless you’re the HRC.

How much of this event is for “equality” and how much is about egos? Everyone knows there is a certain amount of hip-ness to being the underdog. And while I’m glad people are getting involved, people aren’t much help when they’re all glory and no guts.

Cleve Jones is hoping the march will launch a “new chapter” in the queer rights movement. I agree with him in saying a grassroots method is better for stirring change than a fancy dinner could ever be, but I can’t help but be question this particular effort. I would love to see a population, stirred by a mass rally, returning home to work hard on local issues, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Queers, particularly younger ones, are drawn to the concept of gaining some sort of status by saying “I was there.” More than likely, people will attend the march, feel special (which is worth something, I’ll admit), yell a lot, and then return home to business as usual leaving us worker bees in the same spot we’ve been in for years.

The reality is while Cleve Jones and David Mixner are calling coast to coast for “equality” in regards to the finer things, us queers in the Midwest are scraping by on their scraps of corporate gay media and rainbow stickers. We’re struggling to survive coming out, scavenging resources from the “liberal” spaces we only get to visit, and formulate something like a community out of a suffocating bar scene. It’s all well and good for people to funnel time and money into going to Washington to talk about marriage because they don’t have to worry about the bread and water of queer identity: safety and space. They steal the closest thing we have to a motivatable workforce and use up what little juice they have on a rally that won’t end up doing shit for us. To quote Bil Browning: “the coastal queers are willing to sacrifice us…” for the sake of a happy, government sanctioned, home-life.

One could argue that the march is about the bigger picture, for recognition of queers as citizens of this country, which I guess is how I would think about it if I wasn’t so jaded. For this march, I am hoping for visibility, I am hoping for media coverage, I am hoping for change in my own community. I am expecting nothing.

x-posted on Amplify

Ohio “Gay” Pride

Pride season has come, and gone. All queers going busily berserk for 30 days altogether: Always interesting.

I gave a speech for Cincinnati’s pride, skillfully skipping the middle chunk of it by losing my place on my homemade flashcards. Awesome. I am not real big on pride as an event, I’m actually bitter about it. I wish people would come out more than just one weekend a year. A handful of us are in the streets working our asses off to create space, always overworked and alone. Then, one day a year, the queers and allies come out to do what? Party and pretend nothing needs to change.  I said as much in my speech, but in a much nicer way. I tried to highlight Pride’s beginning as a activist movement. The twelve sober people listening seemed really into it.


Blurrily speaking at Cincinnati Pride rally

Cincy pride always looks so tiny in comparison to Columbus. Our dinky little get together isn’t anything to wow about, but people try. Columbus pride is massive and intense with thousands of people. Makes me wonder why, if there are so many of us, we have so little going for us .


Performing at Wall Street for Columbus Pride Royal Renegades show

Ding Dong, the L Word’s Dead

I Hate the L Word – part II

Some of my friends recently had an L Word party to mark the final L Word episode, but it wasn’t a celebratory “Ding dong the witch is dead!” party as I would hope. It was a get together to watch the last episode and mourn the loss of the show.

I realize that the L Word creates visibility for the lesbian community, offers media representation of “homosexual” women, and has hot sex scenes. Knowing all that, it still isn’t a good enough reason for me to understand the support of it.

A lot of my friends groan or give me a silenced look when I get angry for their L Word interests. They act like I shouldn’t be upset about it, like I should let it go. It’s easy for them to overlook the shit the L Word does cause it’s not their identity on the line. If there was something (like a TV show) that was great for me but shitty for my friend, I couldn’t support it in good conscious no matter how much I enjoyed it.

And the L Word’s offensiveness doesn’t just apply to its fictional writing. It is made by shitty people. I heard Rose Troche speak (an L Word writer and director, including the pregnant Max episode) and she is possibly the most offensive person I have ever heard speak in a queer venue. In addition to her outing co-workers and making fun of eating disorders, in the Q&A she stated that she believed that she provided an “accurate representation” of trans-people. What ego-pumping drug is she smoking?

Similarly, I know so many people who identify themselves as trans-allies, but support the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) which makes no sense to me. There are so many little outlets of transphobia hidden everywhere, I understand when it can’t be totally avoided. I have been forced to HRC events because I had to be there to do activist work or for performing. But there is a difference between doing the minimum civil interaction in order to get the job done and just being lazy. I even know transpeople who support transphobic outlets because it is easier than standing against it. It’s easier to just let transphobia and trans-exclusion slide a little. What people are failing to realize is that it affects us all. Transphobia is homophobia. It is all based on societal gender norms.

I understand that just because someone likes the L Word or the HRC, it doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t support trans and genderqueer people. And I know that there is an element of waiting and patience in all activism. Still, I can’t shake the emotional reaction. Every time, I can’t help thinking “How can you do this to me? There is no difference between us. You just have more rights.”

cross-posted on

Gift-wrapped Activism

A couple of my fellow sex education teamsters and I went to an activist conference this weekend. It was for getting activists together from around the state and doing a skills share. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Getting there, us four radicals couldn’t help feeling a bit out of place. There was no gender neutral bathroom, which was a real pain in the ass for me. There was un-inclusive language and out of date, un-PC vocabulary all over the place. AND the place was crawling with paid government officials and wannabes promoting themselves. WTF?

My pal and I did a Queer Inclusive Organizing workshop to try to queer it up a bit and two people showed up. And they were fucking queer organizers! There was a score of talk about the November election, which is apparently still interesting to some people. The “discussion” consisted of people patting themselves on the back because they are “sustainable,” “progressive,” and work “on the ground.” Who the hell talks like that? And I love how everyone has attached themselves to the word “progressive” now days. Its less controversial than saying liberal, coating it with pink pepto so it’s easy to swallow. We wouldn’t want to upset anyone now would we?

The plenary speaker talked about getting more with less, and giving more to those who have less, but it didn’t seem to translate to the audience. I spent a collective 25 minutes trying to answer this dude’s questions about inclusive organizing. He avoided every answer that didn’t sound like a quick solution. When referring to people of color and the trans/genderqueer population he asked “But, how do we get those people to support us?” He continued on to say, “You think we can just get one of each?”

I’m still amazed I didn’t have an aneurism.

Now, I realize I’m being a little harsh. I’m not against all establishmentary activism. I’m down with collaboration to reach a goal. I’m not down with tooling around like a sell-out showman, claiming to make a change in the world when I won’t even make change in myself.

cross-posted on