Breathe Through the Movement

•September 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s been almost a week since I attended a panel discussion with my partner and many of my trans and genderqueer friends on gender and healthcare and, to be frank, I’m still shaken by its outcome.

It was put on by a government-funded group concerned with (mostly) women’s health, and the panel was composed of someone concerned with women’s health, one with men’s health, and one who used to be pretty much the sole gatekeeper for access to trans healthcare in Nova Scotia who has since left the province. It started to go wrong almost immediately, with a survey for each attendee on the tables, for which the first question was “What is your gender?: Male   Female”.

The impression that I came away with was that the people who care about trans health are few, poorly informed, and blinded by cis-privilege, though they are doing the best they are able. And if I or my partner needs healthcare of any variety we are assuredly going to have a hard time. Basically, their best is not yet good enough. Not even close. To see so viscerally that this is how it is throughout the medical and research community, not just among GPs or psychologists, has been deeply disheartening to just about everyone I know that attended.

Several of us were standing outside conversing after the event had ended when we were interrupted by a man who had identified himself during the event as a researcher among trans people. After trying to explain to us, a group of trans people, how we have sex (apparently it isuni-directional, penetrative) and being rebuffed, he told us that he knew all of this because he “studies those people”. And when it became obvious that we weren’t going to be thanking him for earning his grant money off our community’s backs, he excused himself. Throughout the panel, I was my usual talkative, eloquent self, but as the week has worn on, it has weighed heavier and heavier on my mind.

Contrast this with a trans sex workshop, then a reading (held in the same space as the panel was), led by S. Bear Bergman this weekend. Both events were great, but attended by many of the same people still wading through the aftermath of the panel discussion–a very quiet, still, shy and frankly unsmiling group. I can’t help but imagine how different the workshop would have gone, discussing the interactions between our bodies, our minds and our sexual lives, and how doctors, endocrinologists and surgeons affect these interactions.

None of the cis-IDed “experts” who either attended or participated in the panel were at Bear’s reading and that peripherally had an impact, seeing that, despite their discussions of “going beyond the physiological body” they weren’t accessing the parts of the community where they would have been welcomed, and could have gained an understanding of us as people, and of the problems that we face. But all the same, it was healing to move through the weekend’s events and discuss strategies for dealing with life as a queer in so many ways, culminating today with queer yoga–no discussion, just movement and breathing.

Survivor

•June 21, 2011 • 4 Comments

The queer and transgender community of Halifax took a blow last week when armed gunmen tried to break into the apartment of a transgender woman and, after shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs, shot her in the arm through the door of her home. The police aren’t calling it a hate crime, but she sure is.

Her attackers haven’t yet been caught, but Elle isn’t one to take this lying down. She was shot on Tuesday, and by Thursday had returned to the stage to perform Cher’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”. There have been fundraisers going on since the night after her shooting to help her make up lost wages, move, and reach some settlement with her landlord over the damage done to her door by the criminals. Unfortunately it takes an event like this to bring to light the strong and loving community that I’m surrounded by in Halifax. Support’s been flying left right and centre, and I feel nothing but pride for where I live and the people I know.

Read, hear and see some of the local media coverage here:

A CBC article, the first one I read: “Fake policeman shoots…”

And this audio interview from Information Morning.

CTV has links to several videos, this is the latest.

Xtra identifies her as a drag performer.

But the final word should come from the lady herself:

“I just want people in the community to know it’s OK to be cautious but don’t be fearful because you have to live your life the way you want to. And if you start cowering away and you start to going back into the closet, it’s basically they’re winning. And you cannot let people like this win.” – Chris Cochrane

In other news, have you seen Slap Upside The Head? It’s a Canadian site (if course; might even be a Bluenoser!) putting a hilarious spin on queer and weird news from Canada and beyond. I can only heartily recommend it.

School for Scandal

•June 13, 2011 • 1 Comment

Just found this new blog; love it! Two great posts, and I’ve just started reading.

I’ve been suffering from a lack of inspiration, and I think this is exactly what I need. Enjoy School for Scandal.

EDIT: And also this: Shrodinger’s Rapist. Can you tell i’ve been concerned with consent lately?

Black Bean and Sticky Rice

•June 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hey folks, just a little note to say I’m posting some of my photography and other work on tumblr now, at Black Bean and Sticky Rice. And so far, because I don’t have to think so hard, it’s getting updated way more often.

Enjoy!

Protected: Butch in the Family

•May 31, 2011 • Enter your password to view comments.

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Punch in the Chest

•May 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

While, on paper things don’t look great for me — I’m a graduate no closer to working in my desired field now than when I received my degree, I lost my job in March due to what I believe was discrimination, and my partner is going to be physically accessible an average five days a month — I’m actually doing great. I’ve had a chance to reconnect with my friends and regain a lot of the happiness that was hammered out of me over the winter; I feel healthier and more whole, rather than picked apart. I’m slowly unlearning poverty-shame and breaking the connection between what I do to make money and my self-worth.

My online absence speaks volumes to the fact that real life has kept me hopping. I was never a big internet addict in the first place, and I kind of let this project wither as I haven’t been chained to a laptop since I finished my undergrad. But I recently was given some encouragement from a living, breathing butch sister so here I am, writing drafts again and catching up on others’ posts when a short update from genderkid knocked the wind out of me. Somehow, it brought me right back to January for Flo’s top surgery (more on this, perhaps, some other day; the short of it being that things went almost impeccably), to the image and sensation of my own bound chest, to Flo’s chest when hir wounds were new, and to these two thoughts, clear as bells and utterly contradictory: “I WANT TOP SURGERY”  and “I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WANT”.

Perhaps this is a reminder of one last part of me that remains neglected, as this site has. I had a pretty intense and long-lasting freak-out culminating in late December, the second of two in roughly three months. After that I was looking after Flo for six solid weeks and just haven’t given much more thought to it. I was simply exhausted. I quit binding, temporarily stopped packing, no longer had the energy to try to pass as male, let other concerns fill up my waking brain. It certainly hasn’t been a bad thing, I’ve felt more ‘level’ in these past four months than I have in the whole year before. But the questions raised as I try to navigate a body and a gender perception that rarely match up have proven tenacious, so fodder remains for this blog in the months to come.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Y

Landscape of Butch

•March 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Meet Sarah:

Though many of the butch blogs that got me started have either changed focus or died-hell, this one got pushed to the backburner-butches seem to be going through a quiet renaissance on the internet. Sure there are still great butch blogs to be found (Butchtastic, anyone?), not to mention great tumblrs ( ButchesHoldingAnimals, Fuck Yeah Butches ), there’s a lot of less-easily categorized stuff going on too, like ButchLab and Butch In Progress.

And then there’s Sarah. Sarah, from what I can scrounge up, is a 15-year-old contestant on Denmark’s X-Factor, and a lesbian. that strut! That hair! THAT TIE!

And beyond that, it’s nice to see a butch, if I may call her that, in the media that hasn’t been too girlified. That said, as per usual for so many of us, she gets a hard time from one of the judges for the same tired stereotypes. One of the judges tells her she should look into the cost of a sex-change before he is cut off by the host and redirected to the, duh, performance.

I find, as a fairly young butch, that there is so. much. pressure to transition; more than there ever has been, as transitioning becomes more and more widely understood and accessible and as gender and sexual binaries seem to be undergoing fortification. There seem to be so few voices speaking out for wanting to leave your body as it is. And this is not a butch-trans borderwars thing. This is a peer- and cultural-pressure thing. 

It’s understandable that transitioning requires more publicity, from simply telling your friends your new name or pronoun preference to public fundraising efforts and working for trans rights, when being butch can require very little.

For me, watching my partner get top surgery not related to ftm transition and having several close friends begin on the road to transition has really pushed this to the fore as I am one of the last non-transitioning butchie-types that i know in real life.

Maybe this portion of “Boy I Am”, a 2006 documentary, and the ever-eloquent Judith Butler, can describe what I’m getting at a little better:

Discuss?

Phew.

•November 6, 2010 • 3 Comments

Phew.

As I wait at home, Flo is off with hir mother to tell her about the surgery date. I’m anxious and wishing I could be there but glad that I’m not. Thankfully, the cat makes good company as she investigates all the smells of my freshly clothes-swapped sweater.

It was a timely clothes swap, and a welcome distraction. Flo was particularly stressed; they weren’t getting the alone time they needed with hir mother, and then one of our roomies dropped the bomb that she is most likely leaving. They had a little freak-out in the car, but then once we were in a room of queers and genderqueers and transgender folks, all of whom we count as friends, swapping stories and t-shirts, they were able to decompress and, hopefully, they will be able to talk with their mother from a much better place than they were in a few hours ago.

Wish hir luck!

UPDATE!

People can amaze you sometimes, can’t they?

This whole experience has been a lesson in the human capacity for understanding. This is the second time I’ve been amazed with the people Flo has surrounding them. I’m not sure whether I mentioned the vetting process I went through when we first started dating. Flo hadn’t exactly been dating peaches, and hir friends took it upon themselves to make sure I was a good egg. So I suspected this of hir friends when they first came out to one of their oldest friends.

This happened on the night that Flo and I made our drag debut. I had done my first number and was watching Flo with a bunch of our friends when I looked at this girl and she was crying! Not just crying, but bawling her eyes out as she watched my baby dance. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she was “just so happy to finally see Flo doing what made her happy”. So, really, the intermission was as good as it was going to get. And, well, she cried. You know, happy tears.

But I was scared when Flo left to talk to hir mother. I told them that I couldn’t support her fully until hir mother knew, yet I couldn’t help feeling like I was sending a lamb to slaughter. I didn’t know what I would do if hir mother broke hir heart. But… it was amazing. Best you could hope for, if what Flo says is to be believed. And thank goodness.

The dreaded BRECRU.

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Going out. Debuting as a drag king with my sweetie. Working full time. Celebrating birthdays and holidays. Supporting Flo as they booked their top surgery and came out to our roommates. Cooking, cleaning. Painting the Manor from “brecru”(or, as I called it, “dirty-bandaid-brown”) to just about every colour in the rainbow (Our living-room is parakeet green and purple, Flo and my room is a bright grey and orange combo).

Going to the bank, the grocery store, the doctor, the sex shop, all those little places prerequisite to the smooth and happy running of ordinary life.

These are all the things that have kept me from blogging the last little while. Not that I haven’t been thinking about you guys, no sirree. Especially with the one-year anniversary of She Called Me Superman coming up this month. The truth is, though, I’ve been thinking a lot less about me. I’ve been kind of using this space to sort things out as I got used to being out. But I’m getting used to it, and other things are overshadowing what used to be go-to topics whenever I had a quiet moment. Butchness used to be it: my butchness, how to get myself recognized as such, my not-butchness, modeling myself after people with the qualities I admire, wondering where on earth I would find a butch brotherhood beyond the internet when it seemed there was no-one else like me here. And, while the process is still ongoing, it’s not so all consuming as it has been.

SO what have I been up to?

Well, um, my computer died. So that really limits th time I can spend writing on here. I was initially planning on doing a NoBloWriMo, but perhaps that will come once I replaced my faithful laptop. For now, posts will probably remain sporadic. Other than that?

I did the last big purge of clothes. The first time around, though I got rid of a lot, I kept some, too. I wasn’t sure if that “coming home” feeling that I got from being masculine was going to stick around. If, in six months or so, I’d be desperately searching for skirts. So I put a few things away in the drawer just in case, and there they stayed, untouched, the drawer unopened, for an entire year. More than that by now, actually. So I gave it all away, something I couldn’t have done without heartache last year. Now they’re being paraded through the house on a girl who revels in them and on whom the look about 150% better than they ever did on me. Apparently I had been buying clothes for redheads, and in my redhead-roommate’s size.

I’ve — well, we’ve, Flo and me — found something of a butch brotherhood. We’ve both made a lot of great new friends in the last few months, and being back in the big city has opened up the ability to attend events at the local queer youth group. In addition, a “transmasculine” group has started meeting at a coffee shop not too far from our place and we’ve been going. Flo is also helping at the Women’s Centre, and is helping to start a queer society at her university that has been sorely lacking one. And, though I haven’t yet really found any other “butches”, as such, I’ve got people who see it in me, and think positively of the word.

And the last thing that has been eating up a lot of my psyche is this: Flo booked their top surgery. No, I am not dating a transman; at least, not as it has been explained to me. A trans person? Certainly, but I knew that. This is something that has come up for over a year now, but the solidified date has only been in place for a few weeks. Truly, I am excited for them. It means, however, fundraising, planning, getting time off from work. It’s going to be a disruption, and an expensive one. We have to fly to Toronto and find somewhere to stay there. And, while Flo is in surgery, I’m planning on getting a tattoo, so I also need to find an artist. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I think it will be well worthwhile to have a happier, more harmonious Flo. More on this to follow.

All around, I’ve been busy, and I’ve skipped over so much. But! And I keep saying this, I’m going to try and post more often, and with more pictures. To that end, I’m participating in Sugarbutch’s Symopsium, so watch out for that November 15th.

So, how’ve you been? Did I miss anything important?

Chocolate and some kind of Pink

•August 28, 2010 • 4 Comments

This is it. The Big Day that she’s been waiting for since the day I met her. My straightest, whitest, middle-classest, vaguely-protestantest, bestest friend is getting married. K, the practice girlfriend, on whom I first polished my gentlemanly manners. My own Kelly, the Grace to my Will (let’s be honest–the Karen to my Jack).
And guess who’s the Maid of Honour?

Yes, you can have a moment to stifle your giggles. My co-workers sure did.

Done now? Good. They have a pretty natural understanding that I’m not a big one for, say, bridesmaid’s dresses. And the thought of me standing in a shirt and tie among swaths of what I’m sure will be tulle is still pretty funny. That, and the thought of her homophobic mother surely having some sort of aneurysm.

Because this is a fairly anonymous blog, I feel safe to say that I’m not… thrilled. The guy she’s marrying is nice enough, treats her the way she wants to be, and he doesn’t cause me any concern. I just… worry. I hoped she’d get out and see some stuff, do some things in the time left over from school before settling down. But this guy’s exactly what she asked for. He’s nice, he’s done all the right things, he’s got a job that pays steadily, they’re going to get dogs and a condo together. Those are the big plans.
But then again, if I had to pick a husband from the lineup of beaux she’s had, I’d pick him. And, you know what? If he’s what makes her happiest, then I’m content with that, and my aspirations for one of my oldest friends were misguided. And I know that if she feels anything close to what I feel for Flo, then they’ve made the right choice. Truthfully, I’m honoured that she wants me around for her wedding in some capacity, and I’m going to try my hardest to make sure she and her fiancee have a great time.
Right now, I’m helping her deal with the physical logistics of the wedding. This stuff I can manage; the make phonecalls, talk money, make sure she’s not getting screwed, put stuff together for her type of stuff I’ve been helping her with for years. Have I ever told you about the time I helped her move to Ontario? Totally earned my boxers. When, where, how many, what colours? (she’s changed her colours three times in the past week.) Do I get more jail time if I order a hit on her mother, or just take care of the problem myself?

That being said, what the hell do I dooo, guys? I’ve only been to weddings of family members, which are pretty riotous, informal, enjoyable affairs. What’s a normal wedding like? I have no idea what a Maid of Honour does. Has anyone done this before? And what the fuck am I gonna wear!?