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?