Archive for April, 2010

Hump Day Happiness #5

There is a lot of happy this week. Smile.

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As reported on Carnal Nation, China lifted a decades-old ban that had prevented HIV+ people from entering the country for travel or immigration. (Side note: Did you know that the United States did not lift our similar ban until October 30, 2009?)

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Also as reported on Carnal Nation (can you tell I love this site?), the Brazilian National Health Minister suggested that Brazilians have more sex to counteract hypertension. Like most developed countries, high blood pressure rates continue to increase. Health Minster Gomes Temporao told the public:

‘Dance, have sex, keep a stable weight, do physical exercise, and above all measure your blood pressure. It’s not a joke, I’m serious. Getting physical exercise regularly also means having sex, obviously protected sex.”

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Speaking of Sex, Babeland is selling a solar powered vibrator. After eight hours of sun exposure, the bullet vibe can keep you buzzing for an hour. Not a bad idea for the environmentally conscious toy-lover. I’d love to set this outside my tent on a camping trip. Apparently the “charged” light also doubles as a flashlight. Practical and fun.

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Sociological Images is a great blog that explores the sociological meaning of images. A post this week explored the differences between practical and moral approaches to “problematic” behaviors. Instead of policing behaviors as morally wrong, some countries or cultures choose to find practical solutions. This sign from Aberdeen Pub in Edinburgh, Scotland cracked me up.

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Blogger Grace Chu of Grace The Spot shared this amazing video spoof. Forget J-Lo’s “Jenny from the Block” this is “Jew Lo from the Block,” the tale of a Jewish girl from Long Island who moves to San Francisco and comes out. Not politically correct by any means, but totally worth it.

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This letter to feminists has been floating around. I found it featured on Mr. Sexsmith’s tumblr site, but I’m not sure where it originated. Wherever it came from, it’s a nice reminder that feminist are doing it right.

You get so tired. You get so sick of the homophobia, the sexism, the culture of rape jokes and wife beating cartoons. But today you can take 30 seconds and smile. Somewhere right now there is a daddy dancing along while his femmy boy sings Lady Gaga. Somewhere right now there is a little girl suiting up to go play football with her peewee team. Somewhere there is a woman taking off the clothes she hates and pulling on a pair of pants. And there are boys holding hands in front of Dairy Queen and there are girls on their first date at the mall. There is a mom driving her son to the court so he can change his name from Brittney to Brandon. There is a family supporting their daughter after she reveals sexual abuse. There is a foster parent hesitantly walking into his first PFLAG meeting. And there exists more freedom, more equality, more safety than has ever existed before in the history of humanity. Of course it’s not enough. But it is amazing just the same. And you have done this. This did not happen despite our tears and our sweat, our humiliation and betrayal. This happened because of it.

Keep fighting.

Keep being that “annoying” dude pointing out every sexist remark.

Keep arguing with your freinds about not saying “fag.”

Keep voting.

Keep protesting.

And don’t you EVER let the other side get you down. They know that wearing you out is all they have left. What they do not know is that because of you, their children are safer. Because of you, our schools talk about bullying. Because of you, sexual harassment is illegal at their place of business.

Brothers and sisters, I am leaving my work as an advocate. I am moving to a new town and a new career. Feminally is not going anywhere- but in my last few days as a professional feminist I wanted to let you all know something very important:

you’re doing it right.

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Speaking of feminism, Caseface123 on Flickr has a gallery in which she asked people to hold up signs explaining what feminism means to me. Not everyone has great positive thoughts about feminism, but it’s a fun gallery to look through.

Finally, this comic, from aagblog, seems to sum up everything.

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Pronoun Games

I’d garner that most queer people have played the pronoun game. I know I am guilty, sometimes more than others. The last few weeks I’ve been especially guilty, and it seems to me there are multiple pronoun games I’m playing.

First, there is the game of avoiding pronouns; “I am seeing someone new.” Depending on how good you are, this can come across as varying degrees of awkward. Instead of saying, “She took me out to dinner,”I could say “Someone took me out to dinner,” “My partner took me out to dinner,” or  “We went out to dinner.” I frequently play this game at work; for example, “I got a nasty message from my ex” or “I have a hot date this evening.” I leave out the pronouns. No one suspects anything. Right?

The second game involves using the expected pronoun, but for some reason I’ve justified as valid. For example, my doctor knows I have had sexual relationships with women. On a recent doctor’s visit, I justified using female pronouns for a FTM partner because my doctor is concerned with my sexual health and pregnancy prevention. Even if said partner identifies as male, my doctor need not worry about the risks that come with a “typical” male partner. I can say “she” and move on with the visit, while receiving proper care. Sure, I could also explain the whole situation, but then I become “educator'” when I don’t care to be. And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter that much. I’m there for an annual exam, not to explain my entire dating history, my sexual orientaiton, and other’s gender identity. Of course, I have mixed thoughts on playing this variation of the pronoun game. On the one hand, it protects me and my privacy. On the other hand, I am avoiding conversations and discussions that might make it easier for other queers down the road.

The final pronoun game I’ve noted is the game of straight up lying. This is when I magically transform my girlfriend from a “she” to a “he” because I don’t want to be judged, because I feel unsafe, or because the actual pronoun is irrelevant, but I want to share a story. This is when I tell the old man sitting next to me at the folk festival wearing a Harvard hat that my ex-boyfriend got a research job there and that he is moving in three months. In reality, it’s actually my ex-girlfriend and she is moving in three weeks. The old man has a confederate flag sewn to one sleeve and a cross around his neck. He doesn’t need to know and I don’t want to tell him. I feel most guilty when I play this pronoun game. I know I’m playing for purely selfish reasons. I should be open, proud. I should be busting down stereotypes. Instead I’m presenting as straight instead of lesbian or lesbian instead of queer.

What about you? What pronoun games do you play? Why do you play them? Do you feel guilty or are they a necessary evil?

Hump Day Happiness #4

I missed last week’s posting, so some of this news may be old news. Deal.

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As reported on Carnal Nation, Jamaica hosted its first ever parade for gay tolerance. For somewhere sometimes called “the most homophobic place on Earth,” where sodomy charges can result in up to ten years of hard labor, this is a step in the right direction.

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Obama extended hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners. Finally. As reported in the Washington Post (and everywhere else), on April 15, 2010 President Obama mandated that any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding must extend visitation rights to same-sex partners and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them.

From the memo written by Obama:

“Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay.”

[Affected are] “Gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”

While it may be several months before the President’s mandate becomes an official rule through the Department of Health and Human Services, it’s a step in the right direction. Obama, you just gained back a little of my respect.

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Blogger Geek Porn Girl shared a touching letter written to her by another lesbian mom. The letter tells of a twelve-year-old young woman, deciding, on her own, to participate in the National Day of Silence. Just read it. I love stories about young people standing up for what they believe in.

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And in a break from my usual queer stuff, I present you with this comic from xkcd.

Haha.

Only My Mom: Talking about Guys

I spent Easter Sunday with my mom. In between bites of delicious Indian food, I told her,  “I kind of went on a date with a guy.”

My mom, being the brilliant woman that she is, responded, “Kind of a date or kind of a guy?”

Now, in many cases this would be offensive. In this case, it was simply hilarious.

I burst into laughter. “Both,” I said.

And that is how I told my mom that the person I am “hanging out with” is transgendered.

She took it well, as I assumed she would.

Now, I was terrified to come out to her as a teenager. I knew I’d dash her hopes and dreams of a white wedding gown. I knew she’d never let me spend the night with a girlfriend again. When it came down to it, she was the one who asked me the question, “Do you like girls?”

For the last five years, my mom has embraced my lesbianism. She hasn’t said a word when women spent the night or (better yet) stayed til 5 am and then disappeared. She’s invited girlfriends to birthday dinners, Christmas celebrations, Passover Seders, Thanksgiving meals, and family vacations.

After this new piece of information, she asked the logical questions: Has he had any surgery? How does the transition process work? What do you mean by T?

I explained to her how far along he is in the transition process. I explained how I feel like I’m having to learn a new language. Even though he has a largely female body, I’m learning to flirt and interact with a male.

Mom asked, “So how does this work if you are a lesbian?” It’s always fun to talk semantics with family members, as some of you can surely understand. Without going into excruciating detail, I explained to her that lesbian is a convenient and easy to understand term. People know what it means, and since all of my relationships until now have been with women, it worked well enough. I also explained to her that I understand sex, gender, and sexual orientation to have degrees of fluidity. It’s more about the person that anything else, although I certainly have preferences, and those preferences are subject to change. I also reassured her that biological penises still freak me out.

While I know my mom has always harbored a faint hope that this was all “just a phase,” I think she realizes it’s more than that.

She shared a surprising memory with me. Apparently, as a kid, I’d say things like, “I don’t know who I’ll end up with one day. It will just depend on the person.” My mom chuckled, “I guess nothing you say should surprise me anymore. You’ve been giving me hints since you were a kid.”

As much as my life is changing right now, I am one lucky woman with an amazing set of parents.

Recommendation: The Laramie Project

If you have never seen the play “The Laramie Project,” I hereby insist that you see it. For those unfamiliar with it, The Laramie Project is a play written by the Tectonic Theater Project after conducting hundreds of interviews in Laramie, Wyoming, following the brutal beating of Matthew Shepard in 1998. The play chronically life in the town of Laramie during the year following the murder.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing a local university production. Pleasure may not be the correct word, however, as it’s an emotionally draining play. The cast of eight actors all play multiple roles, from friends, to law enforcement, the accused, to the family. I’m not one to cry during theater peformances, but I felt a few tears.

I had seen the play many years ago at a small local theater. I know that it was prior to 2003, and I’m pretty sure I was in middle school. The first time I saw it, I was shocked by the use of the words “faggot” and “dyke,” but also thrilled to know that gay people existed everywhere. This time I was struck by how much a tragedy affects an entire community. Just as studies on larger human rights violations often end in an exploration of the aftermath that the entire community must face, The Laramie Project explores how one event can change the course of a town.

I don’t want to give away too much more. The Laramie Project is one of the most performed plays in American. Find a production near you. If that fails, check out the film based on the play. Or check out the script from your local library. It’s worth it. I promise.

To all of the kick ass, beautiful femmes out there…

This has been floating around all the blogs I follow, but I had to repost it.

The fantastic Ivan E. Coyote on femmes:

A few highlights:

“I know that sometimes you feel like nobody truly sees you, and I want you to know that I see you. […] I’m not sure why I can tell that you are not straight, but I can. Maybe its the way you look at me, please don’t stop looking at me the way that you do.”

“Sometimes you are invisible. I have no idea what this must feel like, to walk by your own people, to know be recognized, to not be seen.”

“I want to thank you for coming out of the closet. Again and again, over and over, for the rest of your life. At school, at work, at your kid’s daycare, at you brother’s wedding, at the doctor’s office. Thank you for sideswiping their stereotypes.”

“Thank you for being the daughter my mother always wanted.”

Despite my yet-unresolved issues with the term “femme” as it relates to my own personal identity, I feel a little more appreciated. Thank you, Ivan.

Speaking of Sex Education

When I turned on my computer this morning and opened my internet browser, the first thing that popped up was a news article entitled “DA’s sex ed warning befuddles Wisc. teachers, kids.”

So, what’s going on?

The District Attorney for Juneau County, Scott Southworth, sent a letter last month to area school districts warning that “health teachers who tell students how to put on a condom or take birth-control pills could face criminal charges.” What sort of criminal charges? Well, they could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, facing up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

I looked it up. The age of consent in Wisconsin is 18. According to the linked news article, children under age 17 who have sex with each other can be prosecuted as juveniles, while seventeen-year-olds who have sex with one another can be convicted as adults of a misdemeanor.

While, as the article states, Wisconsin schools are not required to teach sex ed, under a new law passed in February and backed by Planned Parenthood, schools that do must teach sex ed must adopt a comprehensive approach. They are to include “the benefits of abstinence, the proper use of contraceptives, how to make responsible decisions and the criminal penalties for underage sex.”

This puts Health teachers in sticky situation. If they teach sex ed, they legally need to include information on contraceptives, but, they are being told by the DA that including such information could result in criminal charges. Now Scott Southworth sounds like a bit of  nutjob, and I can hardly imagine that a teacher following state law and recent legislation would actually get jail time or a fine. Still, the implications are broader. Don’t our kids need accurate information? Aren’t most of us left sorely lacking, trying to figure it out on our own, for better or for worse?