Wednesday, December 30, 2009
7PM at the lovely Gerber/Hart Library 1127 W. Granville.
As always, meetings are open to anyone looking for a safe space to discuss personal gender issues/ideas, but not to researchers or reporters.
Not sure if you're welcome or not? Get over it, and come on out.
Monday, December 28, 2009
by a. broad
It seems almost obligatory to post blogs about holidays, and this is a bit late but what the hell; I have so much to be thankful for, and not just on one specific day in November. We've nearly reached 2010, and consequently I've been thinking a lot about the past year and how much has changed, how my life keeps taking these twists and turns that I would never have expected but that somehow seem to be bringing me closer and closer to something so good I can't even put a name to it, can't even imagine it. A year ago, I was happy; today, I am ecstatic, and there is no end in sight.
Life is complicated, and difficult to sum up in a few short words, whether I'm doing it face-to-face or on a page. When I try--which I do, occasionally--the beauty evaporates and I'm left with something trite and inane, a soundbite version of the absolutely gorgeous cacophony that makes up my life. To really tell you why I am so happy I would have to take my time, to tell you about so many things and people and places and feelings and moments and images, that often I am simply not up to the task. My joy is too large for easy explanation. But here is something true: some days I'm so in love with the world and my place in it that it seems beyond anything I've even previously conceived of as happiness; it's a whole new thing, this feeling. I can't even explain it to myself. Instead I smile, and write or speak as best I can about what the most immediate source of my joy is, and it's never enough.
I spent Thanksgiving with my queer family, my chosen family. It's a term I take seriously. It's been a long time since I felt all that close to most of my immediate family, other than in a joking cordial sort of way, and I think that for a while I lost some of the sense of the intimacy and emotional support that family can and should entail; I had acquaintances and a few close friends, I had lovers, I had family, but they were all separate entities and I managed to keep them compartmentalized as such. But ever since I started on this part of my life that I've been writing so obsessively about for the past year and a half or so, allowing my connections with people to deepen and realize their full potential and to give myself over and open up to those I love, the lines have started to blur as they are so wont to do when you stop making an effort to keep them intact. My family is still my family, and I still have acquaintances and people that I count as my friends, but there is this whole new grey area of people that I love and who love me back, who let me be who I really am and appreciate me for that and reciprocate in kind, and they have become part of the bedrock of my newfound happiness. They are my recreated family, the ones who are in my life because we have things that we want to learn from each other and because we care enough to make that happen.
My chosen family is spread all over the country, from California to Texas to Alaska and beyond, but it started here in Chicago with my rediscovery of my infinitely queer self. There is a significant history of queer familial patternings--the House system described in Paris is Burning, a documentary about the vogueing scene in New York, is an easy example--in part because it makes sense to build solidarity and kinship bonds in the face of discrimination and in part because of the rather different ways that queer people are more likely to define their interpersonal relationships. Michael Warner, in The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, says this: "The impoverished vocabulary of straight culture tells us that people should either be husbands and wives or (nonsexual) friends." I'd rather pull a bit of a bell hooks and substitute something like "heteronormative patriarchal culture" for straight culture, but the idea stands. Queer culture, however, can become something like this (and I'm going to type the whole thing despite its length because oh, it's kind of perfect):
"There are almost as many kinds of relationship as there are people in combination. Where there are patterns, we learn them from other queers, not from our parents or schools or the state. Between tricks and lovers and exes and friends and fuckbuddies and bar friends and bar friends' tricks and tricks' bar friends and gal pals and companions "in the life," queers have an astonishing range of intimacies. Most have no labels. Most receive no public recognition. Many of these relations are difficult because the rules have to be invented as we go along... They can be complex and bewildering, in a way that arouses fear among many gay people, and tremendous resistance and resentment from many straight people. Who among us would give them up?"
I would not. I can't, for my own sake and the sake of my life. But given that, is it any wonder that my queer family is where I truly learned what chosen family could mean? When I arrived for our superqueer polymorphous family Thanksgiving potluck, in the midst of a full-on dance party, I was greeted by people cheering my name. My relationships with these people spanned the spectrum from friends to lovers to exes to exes' lovers to exes' lovers' lovers; at some point a while ago we made a chart like the one on The L Word and oh my god it was hilarious. That evening there were two different sets of polyamorous familial groups there, both situations where one person had two partners and all three involved parties were in attendance, dancing together and happy and perfectly fine. There is something to be said for being witness to the joyful playing-out of a connective scenario that many people would find problematic, if not impossible, and there are no words for the feeling I got from watching my genderqueer ex-boyfriend's two current girlfriends--all three of whom, at multiple points during the evening, declared their love for me, which I wholeheartedly reciprocated--doing interpretive dance together to Madonna's Like a Prayer. Seriously.
But that was just a reflection of the larger theme of the evening, which--at least for me--was undoubtedly and absolutely love. Here's the thing about love: it's not as scary as it sounds. In the context of relationships it seems like people tend to get all freaked out about it as a word--more so even than as a concept, I'd almost say--but really it means so many different things that I feel like seeing it only in that way is a rather shallow view of something complex and varied and personal. I love tons of people, and things, and places, and moments in time, and trees, and so on. I get all worked up about it, and it makes me feel like a twelve-year-old girl: "Eeeee! You are my BEST FRIEND EVER and I love you SO MUCH!" But I'm of the mind that I'd rather act like a pre-adolescent than lose my sense of love, my feeling that I have a deep connection with things outside myself, regardless of whether that affection is returned or not. (I mean, I prefer if people return it, but I don't ask that of places, etc. Or trees.) I doubt most people would deny that being in love is pretty amazing, but love itself, regardless of particular goals or aspirations, is one of the best things I've ever personally felt. I feel so lucky that, on a day when people around the country express thankfulness for whatever they feel has been given them, I was brought nearly to tears by the simple fact of my chosen family gathered around me, the love that was so palpable in the air that every single one of us were grinning like damn fools in the first blush of a new romance. I felt like I had reached a sort of home.
…and you here finally, looking like all the best days of summer, sprawled like tangled laundry on the bed, cupping the tail of your boihawk, and chattering in giggles about the ache of the life you re-gendered.
Go back. Go back. Go over it.
You were just four years-old when they made you put that t-shirt back on. It was one of those choking summers when the humidity grabs you in June and doesn’t let go until October. Every day was a different chapter on suffocation, Mom in the backyard relieving the flowers with a hose and Dad sweating his free days out under the Volvo. You sprinted between packs of shirtless boys. It was a boy’s world, and you exploded your lungs to keep up. Get it! Catch it! Throw it to first! When it wasn’t headed your way (which was almost every hit because they put you in far right field where the ninnies go) you picked dandelions and tried to dye your chin yellow. Summers in the suburbs droned on like AM radios, scattered between mixed signals and yearning. You wanted some kool-aid. You wanted some UV. You wanted the forgiveness of a neon-blue pool. And so you tore your t-shirt to the grass. It was then that they first came for you, told you to cover what you didn’t have and didn’t know was inescapable.
Crowned in the shame of all good little girls. Their truth, not yours. Never yours. It was always: cross those legs, put on that dress, brush out that hair, sit up, stop chewing on your nails, eat slower… and later… don’t put out, you have to put out, leave your hair to grow out, stop eating, put on some damn make-up, wear something tighter.
I was 237 miles south of you, we were strangers, and they were telling me the same thing.
Go back. Go back. Go over it.
I noticed “you” on the El train, drunk just before sunrise, frowning into the digits of your phone, avoiding my eyes, and looking rough. I had been searching Chicago’s empty streets, the winking stoplights like warning signs, and trying to figure out if I should be scared to walk home alone in a tie. There were so many things I’d have liked to ask you, but when I looked your way, you turned towards the window.
I met “you” last summer outside a dance party in Brooklyn. You sported a ponytail and skin three shades darker than mine. I wanted to tell you that you needn’t shake my hand so hard or apologize when you join conversations between me and another femme-appearing person. You told me I looked good, but not in that way.
“You” took me on a date last January. Your short black hair had been spiked solid and obscure pop music swam out of the windows of your silver two-door. You picked me up at my house, held open the restaurant door, and paid for all four beers. Don’t worry about it, you said to me. You take care of your ladies. And I guess I was one of them. But I wasn’t, was I?
But you’re here now- on drunken curbsides and in hush-lit back rooms, my tie in your incessant tug, your hair in tufts between my fingers. I call you faggot. I call you brotherlover. You push breath into my ears, jeans into my jeans, teeth into my sighing neck. You ask and undress, ask again.
I stop you. Look at me, brother. I am you: gendershit, cut from the same cloth. And you nod.
Brotherboi, you look fucking good. You make me stop before the mirror. I test myself against yourself. And this is how we compete
and know each other
and become what we tell women we are not-
dumb fucking men.
Three cheers for self-sufficiency: I work three jobs, live and hunger at minimum wage, walk myself home, wake up to my own alarm, cook what I eat, wash what I wear, write what I need to read, get myself off, refill my subway card, visit my parents on Sundays, scrub the shower, and shake out the sheets. This tune is as interesting as a bowl of cereal.
Go Back. Go Back. Go over it.
Brotherboi, it is our ferocity. It is your heart. It is that unshakable goodness that our clothing, our swaggers, our flat response, our need to maintain something invulnerable would mask. And still we know better.
Because we are sisters- gender jokes told around the same campfire.
Now, I take you, with shaking palm and shame-bent back, in too many layers of clothing for summer nights. I take you in sweat and shudders, with arms that do not yet understand how to hold you. Back, back, over it. I take you in, ready to love us.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
With the flick of a lever, my chair tips back and the hairdresser looms over me—the slope of his belly on my forehead, my future in his hands.
“What can I do for you today, sweetie?”
I freeze up. I slipped through my first year of college with a blunt pair of scissors and three dollar hairwax. I spent the first month of summer with a skaterboy shag that I shaped from choppy remnants of Girl Hair. It’s time for some professional help.
“You probably don’t get this very often, but I want something that will make me look more…masculine.”
He raises an eyebrow.
“For drag shows.” I add quickly. “I’m a performer.”
He nods, slowly stretching puffy cheeks into a grin.
“Oh honey, I know all about that. I was a drag queen!”
The hairdresser proceeds to tell me all about his Bette Midler lipsyncing heyday while he attacks my head with scissors, transforming my look along with my perception of my hometown. He tells me I should really meet Sharlene, the hottie who works across the street at McDonald’s.
“You didn’t hear it from me, but that place is a breeding ground for closetcases! Anyway, you HAVE to meet Sharlene. She’s femme and she’s single and she’d love a baby butch like you.” He must have felt me cringe because he pauses amidst a flurry of freshly cut hair. He looks at me again. “Oh.” His smile is teasing. “I know what you are.”
“Are you a transboy?”
“What do you want me to call you?” He has been using my birthname the entire time, the name I used when I made the appointment. “Go on, you can tell me.”
“Malic.” He rolls the name around on his lisping tongue. “Malic, Malic, Malic. Ooh, that’s a great name. It’s strong, playful. Love it. LOVE it. Ladies, take look at Mr. Malic here. Isn’t he handsome?”
A pair of old women with fresh perms shift warily in their plastic capes and curlers and pretend to smile. They are clearly uncomfortable. My ex-drag queen hairdresser is eating it up.
He whirls me around so I can see myself in the mirror. After consenting uncertainly to his incessant “Just a little more from the sides? A little more off the top?” I’ve been totally transformed. He doesn’t wait to see whether my silence is a product of awe or dissatisfaction.
“See how I cut it like that around your ears? It squares off your jaw. See? The girl is gone. The GIRL is GONE.”
His words have a singsong tone, a nonchalance that settles at my feet with downy tufts of hair that used to be mine.
The Girl is gone.
I clumsily thank my comrade from the midwestern underbelly and stumble to my car in a trance. I turn up the radio and roll the windows down, staring at myself in the rearview mirror. My scalp tingles in places where it has never felt the air before.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Check it out.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
"How to be brave, when being your self is a subversive act, and in some locations can cost you your life."
Is coming out a privilege? I had this interesting conversation with a dance friend of mine. She said that the ability to come out (as queer or GLBT), is a privilege. Now before she said that, My energy had been focused on how the ability to be able to pass as Heteronormal, in any of it's give possibilities, gives the passer the ability to keep the privilege of being thought of as straight. I mean in many people's cases the ability support ones self, the ability to form non nuclear families, or families of choice allow us to garner the support needed to come out. Is this resource collecting, or community building process a form of privilege?
For those of you who know me know that I have very strong feelings about people who stake a lot of their identity in wanting to or attempting to assimilate in straight culture, especailly when this assimilation leads to schisms in queer communities. This schism, at least for gay men produces questions of Down low-ness and St8 acting as preferable and better form of male gender expression. HOLD ON for those of you who think i am bashing st* acting gay men... well...maybe..:) NO. I think it's problematic when your identity is based not upon what you are, but what you are not,specifically when it's directed towards people who are similar to you. I know this may sound hippies Dipy but I find that my life is connected to other people on the spectrum. I am not interested in transitioning for instance, but i protect and encourage people who need to, rights to do so. If there was a revolution and all of the spectrum people had to leave the USA... I promise you despite their gender normality or performance of it (butler)...they would be on that boat to gay land. We are so connected...
Since I have been in London I have been passing a lot, now either people are scared to to ask if I like penis, or boys in London are girly... but now I have met a guy at work, who is cool and St8.He ask me to grab a beer with him... while drinking he ask me if I had a girlfriend in the USA I told him I was seeing someone, but we broke up. I had an opportunity to come out, but i did not and so I was filled up with guilt, I did not use male pronouns and said partner when refering to my ex, to make my self feel better, yet I did not say explicitly I am queer.
How to be proud when the flame is invisible? I spent so much of my life struggling to be proud of the flame, while gays in Uganda could be executed for just coming out yet, I am choosing to hide in a city this progressive. I am ashamed .... this leaves with this question
"How to be brave, when being your self is a living subversive act, and in some locations can cost you the very life your trying to live."
Thank you to everyone who came out to Genderfunk Cabaret (and to Kat who took BEAUTIFUL pictures). The night was a smashing success, and we'll definitely put on similar events in the future.
Also, our first safe space meeting at Affinity was fantastic! We made lots of friends and had a great discussion about gender. Thanks to Affinity for hosting such a wonderful meeting.
Our next meeting with be January 30th at the Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville).
Monday, December 14, 2009
dancing clowns, hothothot genderfoolery, discounted beverages, no cover charge
stay with us after the show to boogie down with
DJ JAY MUTINY!!
be there or be.........
They asked if we were brothers.
Two girls on the bus survey the curves we bound into boyish shapes—3 AM, stumbling home from a costume party with sleepy eyes and sloppy grins, we look like children playing thieves.
“Brothers? Are we brothers?” you ask me with a smirk that cracks your face in half, divides mischievous eyes from hair shaved into something like sideburns. Somewhere between your brain and mine, our history unravels and we howl.
You kissed me the first week we met—3 AM on a mattress in your bedroom, an island in a sea of costumes and cat hair and radical queer zines. You kissed me in my curve-hugging tank top, smeared my mascara with your little boy hands (dirty nails and ink-stained fingertips), told me I was hot. And I stared at you in your baggy jeans and suspenders, clenched the tail of your mohawk in my femme dyke hand (painted nails clipped short for acoustic guitar), and wondered why I didn’t look like you.
We laugh about that night now. Don’t get me wrong—I still feel the cold curve of your lip ring pressed against my teeth once in a while, but it’s coupled with a punch to my shoulder now, a teasing glint in your eye. ‘Cause you don’t kiss on your kid brother.
Yeah, we’ve changed a little.
We spent autumn days outside while you smoked your endless cigarettes, dropping flecks of tobacco and new words that hit sore spots somewhere, words like “genderqueer.” Those words told us it was ok to experiment, so we did it together, playing dress-up in boy drag, in femme drag, shaving hair in some places and letting it grow in others. We renamed ourselves at the same time, switching up pronouns for genderplay, and somewhere between the theory and the genderfuckeries we pulled on strangers (our own word for “passing as boys”), we found ourselves in those games.
Last summer you gave me the clothes you outgrew and helped me stencil mine, preserving scorching days in wild tales and wheatpaste. You provided me with your secondhand books and the occasional boyish shove, called me “little dude” and “buddy.” And you hugged me in my binder and bodypaint, yanked on my tie with your littleboy hands, told me I was handsome.
“Yeah, we’re brothers,” you say and you kiss me just to shock them. We laugh all the way home.
GENDERFUNK IS TOMORROW
Join us at The Spot at 9PM for our free drag show/ dance party/ extravaganza! Everyone who is anyone will be there, and that means YOU. :)
As always, admission is free. Must be 21+ to attend. Too young? We'll have stuff for you coming up soon, too!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
We've been working out meeting spaces, but we'll be back next Wednesday, and this time, we'll be on the south side! In partnership with Affinity Community Services, we'll begin hosting half of our safe space meetings in Hyde Park. Affinity is located at 5650 South Woodlawn Avenue, Garden Level
We'll continue to meet north as well. Discussion participants are encouraged to attend meetings at both locations. Here's the GqC schedule:
Tuesday, December 15th
-Join us for the gender-bending dance off of the year epic as we tear up the dance floor and the stage. Drag shows and DJ, oh yes. Wear what feels good. Bring everyone you know.
NO COVER. $1 off all drinks. Must be 21+
the Spot 4437 N Broadway
Wednesday, December 16th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at Affinity Community Services
Wednesday, December 30th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at the Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)
Wednesday, January 6th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at the Gerber/ Hart Library
Wednesday, January 13th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at Affinity Community Services
Wednesday, January 20th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at the Gerber/Hart Library
Wednesday, January 27th at 7:00PM
Safe Space Discussion Meeting
at Affinity Community Services
Safe space meetings are open to anyone wishing to discuss personal gender issues/ questions. Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and anyone wishing to take part is considered family. Meetings are not open to researchers or journalists. For press inquiries please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, see the calendar for GqC and relevant events!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Dark walks home in genderfunny clothing got you down? We have just the thing. We're hosting a free informal self-defense training! This Monday!
Monday, December 7th
at The Inconvenience Theatre Collective
Thirty, Thirty-Six N. Lincoln (That's Lakeview)
*Enter the space from the front. We'll have a small sign on the door. Enter, go down the long hall and up the stairs.
GqC friend, Zeus, will be showing us the 101 on how to stay safe and fabulous on those long walks home.
Can't make it this time? Live too far? No worries- we'll likely be hosting another training on the south side in January!
Madison residents get ready. Genderqueer Madison has arrived. Come out to their first meeting:
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
8:00pm - 10:00pm
LGBT Outreach Center
600 Williamson Street
From their invite:
"This will be an informal discussion about personal experiences of gender with an emphasis on gender non-conformity. If you've thought about your gender identity or gender expression lately, this is the place for you. Come on out!
The Outreach Center is located in the Gateway Mall at the intersection of Williamson and Blair, in the same building as A Woman's Touch, the Monkey Bar Gym and the AIDS Network. Enter on the ground level at the Williamson street doors and the center is immediately on your right.
If you arrive early and the doors are locked - sit tight. We have keys."
Want to start your own group? E-mail us at email@example.com
Friday, December 4, 2009
Life can be a drag...
In an effort to lighten our lives, Genderqueer Chicago is hosting a DRAG CABARET, at the Spot nightclub 4437 N. Broadway
Tuesday December 15
the doors will open at ten pm.
There is NO COVER cuz we are all broke.
The bar has graciously offered 1$ off all mixed drinks.
We promise to give you a good show.
And as always there will be glitter and DANCING at this revolution.
Bring your friends, bring your mom.
Come (and you can take that as you will)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Not from Chicago? Want a genderqueer group where you live?
We'll help you start one!
Genderqueer groups are springing up all over the country! There are now genderqueer groups in Miami, Madison, and there's rumblings of it spreading from Oklahoma to New York City!
Shoot us an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll tell you how we made GqC, and help you strategize on how to make something that works in your own community.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
5:30pm - 8:30pm
The Illustrious Chicago Red Line El Train
Ever been on a crowded train, suffocating with twenty or thirty strangers, keeping your eyes on your shoes because you're too afraid to look up? To look up and see all those questioning eyes, and feel yourself crumble under their gaze?
Well this is the train for you.
Allies and Genderfunnies, join in the fun as GqC shakes up the Red Line with some surprising conversations.
We will meet downtown at the JACKSON Red Line Stop at 5:30pm above ground. Bring your favorite copy of anything written about gender/ gender variance. Don't have one? We'll provide you with materials.
This action requires no acting skills. You will simply start a conversation with another participant about gender on the train. And everyone around you will do the same thing. We'll bring some literature for you.
See you at Jackson!
The struggle for identity leads to violence on so many levels. How many murders of gender queers took place last year? I stopped taking count after so long. Just paid remembrance in silence when I learned the news of yet another fatality. The closest identity I identify with is Two-Spirit. My family reports of Native American heritage yet protest with any questioning. I will never step over the boundaries of Native American ritual.
For myself, I listened to the wisdom of the Appalachian Mountains where I grew up. There I learned I could be a little boy if I chose and maintain the female body I have. I could hear from long-dead spirits which I still feel to be family.
So I wanted to play baseball in the major league. On the playground, I was the best wide receiver on our football team. Fonzie was my role model so I studied engine diagrams & took my dad's lawn mower apart & re-assembled it.
Then one day, I grew breasts. My mom began accusing me of having sex. Yet, I had no idea what sex was! She started criticizing my appearance as I looked like a boy. Once she took me out of class and sent me home from school to change out of my brother's shirt. She prohibited me from working on the farm & made me watch soap operas and read Seventeen to learn how to apply make-up. She monitored my appearance when I had my class photo. The photo my Sophomore year of high school made me ashamed. It wasn't who I am, I thought. So I refused to give the pictures to my parents. She and my dad hit me and pushed me around the room. I wouldn't
let go of the pictures. They were mine to destroy.
Well, life went on. I left my home when I was legally able to be on my own. So happy when I got a job as an apprentice car mechanic. I loved it! Yet, I was diagnosed with an illness so I quit mechanics.
All I find I can do is join in with social groups to raise awareness of the truth of transgendered identity. I no longer try to understand why, just hope people will listen and understand.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Guests are encouraged to bring beverage or a side dish, though not required to.
There will be glitter. There will be hugs.
If you don't like these, come anyway, cuz ill ask you if either is ok before inflicting them on you.
Starting round six pm
one block north and two blocks east of the red line MORSE stop.
next to cafe ennui.
Have a happy holiday if we don't see you!
of gendequeer chicago
Friday, November 20, 2009
University of Chicago to Host TDOR Events Tonight/ Sunday Vigil in honor of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20th
To commemorate the 101 trans and gender variant people who have been murdered around the world in 2009!
To remember all of those who have come before & to actively speak out and move towards a better future!
Vigil at Barlett Quad
filmmaker Jules Rosskam*
shows his film
"Against a Trans Narrative"
5710 S. Woodlawn
Sponsored by UChicago's Queers & Associates
*"Jules Rosskam is an internationally acclaimed trans filmmaker, artist, educator and longtime activist who is dedicated to creating work that is by, for, and about trans/queer communities." More at www.julesrosskam.com
Vigil in honor of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado
Sunday, November 22, 2009
4:00pm - 6:00pm
Paseo Boricua (Division and California) Humboldt Park
A peace walk will depart from the corner of Division Ave and California Ave at 4pm and head west on Division Ave to the Humboldt Park Boat House for a candle light vigil.
A Candlelight vigil/march is being planned in Humboldt Park in memoriam of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, a gay and trans young person who was violently tortured, murdered, and dumped near Caguas, Puerto Rico. We will stand/march in solidarity with other vigils taking place across the country as well as with the LGBTQ community of Puerto Rico!
For more info or to volunteer sound equipment or candle, see the Fb event: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=195426852240&ref=mf
Also, don't forget that GqC will be at TDOR festivities at Center on Halsted Saturday, starting at 5:30. See the calendar for details!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Their names are read off one by one. And each name is followed by a mid-toned chime that climbs up the plaster and into the church rafters. Some of them have stories, and some of them do not. Some are statistics from entire countries, and some from whole continents. When they are totaled, the number reaches 127.
127 people were reported murdered in the last twelve months for being transgendered. Countless more went unreported. Many estimate that a trans person is murdered every single day of the year. The church pews go silent, the candles go dark. This is a funeral, we are told.
I glance up and down the aisles. A few dozen blond bobs loom over the lines of pews. Trans women in smart suits and curly hair sit breathless and ready for prayer. These are the mothers of my movement, I know. Many of them came out after I did, but I know I live in gratitude to their trials and courage.
Outside, an autumn cold presses against the church. The streets of white suburbia are quiet and clean, brightened by house lamps in symmetrical yellows. For a minute, I think of the transgender community that I know- the Chicago one, the one that hangs loosely from curbs and struts, eyes to shoes, through dark thankless streets.
The church is asked to stand. It’s time to go downstairs and eat spaghetti. I look for people my age, and I find less than a handful. Everyone else is over the age of thirty-five.
Something has gone missing here. Something is not right.
When I think of transgender struggle, I picture the fierce queens of Stonewall, trans women of color with fists raises and teeth gritted. I hear the urgent cries of Compton. I feel the fists on Brandon Teena. I don’t think of warm quiet churches in suburbia.
But Transgender Day of Remembrance seems to be the one thing we all agree on in this community. Yes, it’s sad that transgender people are murdered every year.
Something has changed. Something has been pacified.
On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, I ask myself why it is that my community only comes together for this mass anonymous funeral. If I knew it already, I’ve re-learned something really important in the last few months: the act of remembering is often incredibly painful and always absolutely crucial. But more than that, the act of remembering is as much about honoring the past as it is re-directing the future. In our efforts to mourn our dead, I hope we will commit to change circumstance for the living.
The moment is right now. And it’s in Chicago. And when history looks back at this, it will say: it started in Chicago. From quiet back alleys, to 24-hour diners, to offices, and health clinics and LGBT centers and trains and most of all, from the streets you take home, something is changing.
We will not live funeral-to-funeral. We will not keep time with church bells or mark the passing years by extinguished candles. As I walk the autumn streets alone at night, I feel a distinct change. And it is not the weather, which is still too cold, even for November. It is that I am less afraid than I have ever been. I am more visible, but I am less afraid.
In honor of our dead, in gratitude to those who have gone before, I issue a call to my community today: live. It is the same call that has been made before by community leaders to come out of the closet. But I do not have the gall to ask you for that because I know that the world sometimes wishes to extinct you. But what I do ask for is the commitment, at least to yourself, to be the best version of you that you know possible. You must stay alive. And however, you can do that, please do. Let the rest come after. This is the way we honor the dead.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Please remember, safe space discussion meetings are open to anyone with personal issues/ questions about gender. Meetings are not open to members of the press/ researchers. For inquiries, please contact us at email@example.com.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Affinity Community Services will begin hosting GqC on December 16 at their space (57th and Woodlawn) in Hyde Park. Meetings will be held weekly, alternating between the Gerber/Hart and Affinity Community Services. Make sure you check the calendar weekly to find out where we'll be week-to-week.
We're pumped to team up with Affinity! And we're pumped to be on the south side!
As always, safe space meetings are open to anyone looking to discuss personal issues with gender. Folks not in need of such a space are encouraged to participate in GqC in other ways. Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and anyone wishing to take part is considered family. Members of the media and researchers are not welcome at safe space meetings. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for press/research inquiries.
Questions? Comments? email@example.com
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
If there is a binary, I fall between it. Racially, I am half-white, half-Chinese. Culturally, I never identified with either despite being raised by my Chinese grandparents- a certain political leader effectively silenced any desires for my family to delve into traditions and memories associated with the Cultural Revolution, and let’s just say that my white-half is more of a wandering capitalist breed than the firm Anglo-Saxon protestant breed they claim to be. In terms of my gender, I’m a boi who binds.
Explaining all of this to my steadfast American grandparents was a rare opportunity to endure a thorough aesthetic critique. My facial piercings became symbols of the antichrist; my Mohawk was pure savagery. We had a common country, a common language, and perhaps even a common childhood experience in suburban America. The thought of broaching the same subject with my Chinese grandparents, whose home lay in communist China, whose English comprehension is humorously questionable (I often check-mate my Grandpa in “cheese”), and whose unspoken traditions promoted the same binaries I fell between, was daunting. I avoided it.
Not seeing my Chinese grandparents for a while, I decided to send them a recent picture of myself through an email. The following is part of the email I received back from my Grandpa:
“The photos are so cute and we love them, the single one of you is very good and like a BOY! Grandma says that you run to fast to come to the world that miss the important signals for a male that must to have, it just a kidding!”
The misspelled words and wonderfully mis-executed idioms speak volumes. Clearly there is a common bond between us that goes beyond mere blood relations. Yes, I am a genderqueer trannyboy, but they are “trans” too… against all odds, they transcended language, culture, and history to transcend the gender binary with me.
The Gerber/Hart(1127 W. Granville)
Safe space discussion meetings are intended as spaces for folks interested in exploring personal issues related to gender. Those not in need of such a space are encouraged to participate in GqC in other ways. GqC is an inclusive community, and anyone wishing to take part is considered family. Meetings are not open to the media or researchers. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Well you can!
Genderqueer Chicago is an open community group, which means that the blog is open to you. If you have something to contribute (writing, pictures, video, links, etc.), please e-mail your submission to email@example.com. Please include a title, and a preferred publishing name. Non-copyright only! GqC reserves the right not deny material deemed inappropriate or offensive. You need not reside in Chicago to submit.
Also, if you have a relevant even in Chicago and you'd like to be added to our calendar, e-mail the info/flier/image to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll post events relevant to gender issues in Chicago.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Reports project 19 violent murders against trans people this year. This number does not account for violent crimes, unknown deaths, or the slaying of folks whose identities as trans are ignored or omitted from report.
Join Genderqueer Chicago as we honor those who have fallen, show gratitude for those who have fought, and celebrate trans life as it endures and resists.
The schedule is as follows:
November 14 at 5:00PM is Illinois Gender Advocates' Transgender Day of Remembrance at New Spirit Church at 542 S Scoville Ave in Oak Park. Candlelight service will precede a community dinner. $10 donation recommended
UIC- Transgender Day of Remembrance
Friday, November 20, 2009
12:30-2:00 p.m., Quad, Memorial
3:00-4:30 p.m., 183 BSB Discussion
Saturday, November 21- 5th Annual Night of Fallen Stars
Center on Halsted
5:30pm: Reception (with Trans groups and vendors)
An evening to celebrate Chicago’s Transgender community featuring performances of poetry, music, comedy, dance and more.
$5 Donation at-the-door
Appearance by Jaila Simms
First Transgendered artist to win a reality series MTV / P. Diddy’s “Making His Band”.
Official member of Bad Boy’s “Dirty Money Crew”.
Events are sponsored by:
Broadway Youth Center
Center on Halsted
Howard Brown Health Center
Illinois Gender Advocates
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
“Men are just naturally better at certain things—like mowing the lawn, fixing appliances. It’s instinctual.”
I’m about to interject, but she cuts me off as soon as she senses an attack.
“Now don’t you start calling me sexist again. I’m certainly not a feminist, but I’m not sexist. I know that women are naturally better at plenty of things, too—like talking about their feelings. Like asking for help.”
My grandmother lays out her conception of gender like one of her tablecloths—enduring, traditional, stains from decade-old dinner parties hidden by strategically-placed china. It’s time for an upgrade.
“Grandma, maybe you should consider—”
“You have to admit that there are differences between men and women. You can’t deny that. Men are physically stronger than women.” She pauses, searching for something irrefutable. “And men can’t have babies!”
Once again, my weekly phonecall has turned into a Battle of the Generations.
“But Grandma, those are general statements. Sure, men are physically stronger than women on average, but I know plenty of tough girls and scrawny boys.”
I’m struggling with language. Biomen, ciswomen, trannies—queerspeak trickles from my gender theory brain and throws itself against the back of my teeth. I clamp my jaw, swallow, continue.
“And if you’re defining ‘women’ as people who can have babies, aren’t you excluding people who are infertile and people who decide not to have children?”
“Who doesn’t want children?”
“You’re missing the point.” I pause to collect myself. This is becoming painful. “I like to think of people as individuals instead of making big generalizations about them based on their gender. Sometimes those assumptions are wrong.”
My grandmother is silent for once. But not for long.
“Well. What you have to understand is that there are men and there are women and that’s that. I guess there are some people who change their bodies to be something else. But that’s different.”
My ears do a double-take. Did my ultra-traditional, binary-thumping grandmother just acknowledge that transgender people exist? I wonder if she’s been watching too many daytime talkshows, the ones that parade transwomen in front of an audience like circus freaks. Her conception of “transgender” is probably loaded with misconceptions about “those people” (she doesn’t know that I’m one of “those people”), but at least it’s somewhere inside her head, waiting for my words to reshape it.
“You know, it’s good that men and women are different—they’re forced to depend on each other. Since grandpa passed away I’ve had to do so many things that I didn’t have to do before. I take the car to the mechanic. I mow the lawn. Grandpa took care of those things because he was my husband.”
I try to sound encouraging. “But you’re doing a good job, Grandma. You’re successfully fulfilling tasks that are outside of your gender role. If you can mow the lawn, then other women must be able to do that too.”
“Oh, you and your ideas. When you fall in love, you’ll understand.”
My grandmother hangs up on me.
But I am in love, Grandma. I desperately want to say it, but I don’t want to tack another item onto her long list of Disappointments. My kind of love subverts everything my grandmother has ever known about gender roles.
Maybe I should give her a call.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
GqC will be present this Friday to support the organizing efforts of Gender JUST!
Gender JUST is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational grassroots organization of LGBTQA young people, LGBTQA people of color, and LGBTQ grassroots folks developing leadership and building power through organizing.
Read their press release below:
“WITHIN THE BODY” Art Show and Fundraiser for Gender JUST!
This week, Gender JUST in partnership with emerging queer and trans artists, will hold an event you WON’T WANT TO MISS!
"Within the Body " Art Show and Fundraiser for Gender JUST will take place on November 6th, at the Artist of East Bank building at the edge of the Bridgeport art community. Performance art, installation, music, and two-dimensional pieces from emerging artists will be showcased. "Within the Body" hopes to shed geographic and visual expectations from traditional gallery shows.
Pieces will be available for auction from each visual artist. Proceeds will benefit Gender JUST.
Artist of Eastbank
1200 W 35th St (at Racine Ave)
Chicago , Illinois 60609
*NOTE: Several performance art pieces contain nudity and potentially offensive language. Please be advised.
Monday, November 2, 2009
You ever feel like you're not trans enough? Or not queer enough? Or not (insert identity here) enough?
Maybe you pass under the radar so well that you feel invisible and excluded? Or you question if your life decisions betray the ideals set forth by trans histories? Or you can choose when to be visibly queer? Or you want to be "read" in ways you are often not?
This Wednesday, we will break down the myth of "trans enough," both as a concept and lived insecurity we share. We'll be asking: what makes us policy ourselves? How can reconcile our many intersecting identities with gender variance? What expectations do our queer communities place on us? How do we find our truth in all of these mixed signals?
Join us for this special safe space discussion.
This Wednesday at the Gerber/ Hart Library
1127 W. Granville (off the red line Granville Stop)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
As a reader and a consumer of other media I have long known that, for me, plot is far and away one of the least important aspects of a work. My favorite part of a book or movie, especially a plot-driven book or movie, is almost invariably the beginning, before things start happening; I'll be far more engrossed by the interactions between people and their environment than I am by an alien invasion. I like things to move slowly, and I like to watch how the parts fit together. I used to think that this was a rejection of the change that invariably happens once the plot picks up (something I resisted in my own life), but I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's something deeper and more complicated than that.
Along with plot, I also have some issues with language, and I'm beginning to think that these two discontents are more connected than they seem. I have a deep-seated love of reading and of books and a respect for the way a string of well-placed words can sometimes almost chime, but I also have an equally deep abiding resentment at the limitations that language places on what I perceive as reality; I get deeply concerned about definitions, how they limit and change our perceptions, and I fear that using the "wrong" words can distort both my meaning and my understanding. Maybe this sounds a bit dramatic, but language is a large part of how we touch and understand other people, and often it seems so completely inadequate.
But lately I've also been considering the fallacies of trajectory, of plotline, when placed in the context of reality. Life is not a book, and yet I think there is a desire to shape it into a sort of storyline, to place events into a concrete order with a logical progression, to make assumptions about what may or may not have happened (or, even more dangerously, what will happen) and to manipulate actuality into a neat little package with all of the correct narrative elements represented. This may (or may not--I'm not sure) be fairly harmless when the context is an amusing vignette designed to make people laugh at parties, but it can be incredibly harmful when it is forced onto the messy, incomplete, and thoroughly glorious lives of real people. Language becomes not just definitionally problematic, but suspect in terms of authenticity.
The narrative that prompted me to this realization is one of transition, which makes sense when you consider personal change as a frequently integral aspect of plot arc. Many, many of my queer, genderqueer, transgender, and otherwise transgressive friends have been told or have had it implied to them that they are "not trans enough", a phrase which boggles my mind and seems to defy all logic. It implies that there is a way to be trans and, consequently, a way not to be trans, and that if you haven't fulfilled some sort of completely imaginary guidelines then you are a failure as an identity, as a person. This particular narrative arc seems to require you to start off as one thing (a man or woman) and become another (a woman or man) and that there is a way in which this is accomplished that is neat and correct and strictly defined, but it could be applied to any number of personal identity choices. The moral of this particular story is that if you choose to define your own identity, either theoretically or physically, you are a eyed with distrust. You are disrupting the arc.
This is bad enough when it is considered in terms of interactions with friends and acquaintances and such, but when you consider--for instance--the medical rhetoric regarding transition (or intersexuality, or queerness, or mental illness, or femaleness, or any myriad of other things at any given point in history) it becomes a much scarier prospect. The policing of narrative falls hardest on those who don't follow the storyline, and the consequences can range from discomfort to forced conformity to pain and death. It drastically reduces the possibilities available to us by criminalizing those who don't agree to follow the rules.
There are so many narratives, and by trying to see them as stories we can so easily negate their actual lived value and blind ourselves to what we could be learning from them. I'm not trans, so that isn't my narrative. But I don't want to be defined solely by my actions; I want to be defined by who I was and how I felt while I was doing things, and by the small moments of connection and insight that I witnessed along the way. This does not mean I am not prey to the wiles of story, because this blog and many of my daily interactions are full of stories. I don't know what that means. I don't want to impose order on the disorder of life, but it's so damn hard to communicate otherwise. That is the power of language: it is everywhere, and it is flawed and imprecise. I have no answers, just a lingering feeling that I'm either creating or destroying something, or maybe both.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Some dos and dont's created by trans folks for our fabulous trans allies! Please help us spread the love.
Use the pronoun I want you to use. If you make a mistake, quickly correct yourself.
Don’t ask if I’ve had surgery or if I take hormones. It’s not your business.
Politely correct others if they use the wrong pronoun.
Treat me like you would any other person.
Actively defend my rights.
Offer me an escort to the bathroom if I’m getting problems.
Don’t put the “T” in your group’s name unless you’ve done something to earn it.
Do your own research. Don’t ask me to explain it all to you.
Don’t tell me how cool being trans makes me. I’m not trans to be cool.
Don’t tell jokes that that might offend trans individuals or allow others to do so.
Don’t assume that trans always refers to an MTF or FTM person.
Don’t assume you can guess my sexual orientation because I’m trans.
Include me. I’ve got plenty to offer.
Don’t call me by my old name.
Be honest about what you know and what you don’t.
Support trans activism.
Don’t judge my ability to pass.
Support me when I need you don’t pity me.
Actively seek out materials created by trans people.
Don’t concern yourself with my genitalia.
Don’t fetishize or tokenize me based on your assumptions or generalizations.
When somebody who hasn’t been exposed to trans issues makes a rude comment, correct them in the nicest way possible.
Don’t pretend to understand terms that you really don’t.
Don’t support those who you know that marginalize trans people.
If I tell you I or someone else is trans, don’t go around telling everyone.
If you’re with me somewhere that you’re not sure is a safe space, don’t bring up trans issues.
If you hear or see something transphobic, do something about it.
Realize that challenging binary gender systems isn’t always the same thing as being trans.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I’m on my way home too late at night, driving pass the blur of a sleepy 1am Chicago. It rained hours ago, but the lights still echo off of wet pavement. The air from the car window, cold and fast, rushes in and near chokes the song lyrics from my breath. But I sing over the rush and out towards the right autumn sky. It’s one of those "I am alive" kind of moments. You know, the ones that spray your spiral notebook pages for years. It’s the kind of awkward poetry you can’t quite scribble now, no matter your focus or resolve.
I drive and drive, slow in my haze, and only half observant of the anxious headlights stringing past and into the skyline.
I have actually lived. I am a form reflected in the windshield, a figure without critiqued features. No cars to the left, and none to right. No one to hear me scream off-key odes to the eighth-grader hiding in my heart. No eyes available to scrutinize the curves or flatness of my torso and chest.
I am the genderless, a warrior of the road, spitting out across the skyline on a late-night stumble home. I am still the songs I sang in high school, and the ones I will write at the end of my minutes.
I am finally, finally honest.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Come out this Wednesday for our weekly safe space meeting!
Theme this week is book reports.
Have you ever read a book that rocked your entire gendered world? Or maybe just your world in general?
Well, come share.
Bring your favorite book. Or...don't.
But join us as we share safe space and support.
Weds at 7:00pm
The Gerber/ Hart Library- 1127 w. Granville
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I'm not much of a patriot in the traditional sense of the word, but I'm a strong believer in independence. I believe in strength and freedom and self-love and beauty, in self-actualization and figuring out how to be whole instead of fragmented. In an ideal world, I'd be able to apply all of these hopes and dreams to the country as a whole, but for now I take my independence in the forms I can get it and those are generally personal.
As my day job I work as a florist in Andersonville; this past summer I was in the shop a few days before the Fourth of July, very near to closing time after a long tiring seven hours, when a regular customer walked in. I went to greet her; she's a very sweet person, always has a smile for me, but she also usually takes forever to pick something out so I was both happy and full of dread when I saw her. Sad but true: no matter how nice you are, sometimes I wish you'd just pick a flower out already and call it a day. She was getting three flowers for her girlfriend; I believe it was their anniversary. My co-worker and I helped her pick out her blooms, wrapped them in paper, and walked back towards the door with her as we chatted.
Abruptly she turned around and, with a preface I can't recall, told us that she had just come out to her mother. I realized suddenly that she was practically glowing, so happy and excited and relieved that she was finally no longer living with the threat of this moment of self-actualization that the vast majority of queer people go through eventually. She had told her mother, and her mother had been gracious and happy for her, and so we rejoiced with her. My gay male co-worker told his story (his mother broke out in hives) and I did not because I wasn't asked (another side effect of not looking queer) and because there was no opening for me to speak. But we celebrated with her for a minute or two, this stranger who had just revealed a deeply personal moment to us standing in the door of the shop.
My own coming out was both less and more dramatic than I had anticipated. I was twenty-three, and it was the day before I moved to Chicago for grad school. My girlfriend and I had been dating for about eight months at that point, but I had been chickening out of telling my parents; my mom grew up Mormon and is also prone to random bouts of freak-out-edness when I least expect it, so I wasn't sure what kind of reaction she would have. But on this day, the day before I left for nobody knew how long, we were standing in the kitchen crying and yelling at each other for some reason that I can't remember in the slightest now when she suddenly turned to me and said "Your friend A is really nice." It was such a complete non-sequitor that it stopped me in my tracks and left me with no idea how to respond. I stopped crying, and after a moment said that she was not my friend, she was my girlfriend, and my mother looked at me scornfully to let me know that of course she knew that. We hugged, and the fight wound down into a rare moment of intimacy between us.
The next day, I moved to Chicago. I told my father immediately before getting out of the car at the airport (because how awkward would a two-hour car ride be after a revelation like that?) and he told me he just wanted me to be happy. I flew away on wings, relieved that things had gone as relatively well as they had, and we rarely spoke of it until a much more traumatic fight a few years later. But that plane ride, heading towards a new place and a new life where I could start over and be who I really was, felt like freedom.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
This Wednesday, we'll be hosting our regular safe space meeting with a twist.
It's show and tell.
Remember those awkward Friday mornings in grade school where you'd hold up your favorite toy/picture/disgusting thing you found outdoors for the class?
Yeah. It's like that.
Bring something important to you. Anything. Maybe it has to do with a gendered moment. Maybe it's a picture of your Aunt Eunice with a 20-foot fish. Whatever it is, come share it.
(Also, please don't ask me how this image is relevant to anything. I googled for something appropriate until my eyes went blurry).
Wednesday, October 21
The Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)
Questions? Inquiries? email@example.com
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"My advice for anyone coming out, for anything, is to think of the worst possible thing that could happen. If you can deal with that, you're probably good to come out."-Aidan Tharp
Weds, October 14, 7pm – 9pm COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE! Themed GqC meeting @ Gerber/ Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville (Red Line Granville stop)
Sat Oct 17 7pm – 11pm Annual Matthew Shephard March - Halsted & Roscoe/3407 N Halsted
Tue Oct 20 7:30pm – 10:30pm Homolatte: Brian Kirst / DALLAS/MARIE - Big Chicks
Wed Oct 21 7pm – 9pm SHOW AND TELL!
Themed GqC meeting @ Gerber/ Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville (Red Line Granville stop)
- Meetings are free & open to all people looking for a safe space to deal with personal gender issues and questions. Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and everyone wishing to take part is considered family.
- We want to hear from you! E-mail submissions/questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 12, 2009
i didn't used to think that binding my chest made that much of a difference. when i looked down from my vantage point, the tits were still there as prominent as ever. even
when bound. and binding didn't change my high alto voice. my chubby cheeks. my peach fuzz. my capable-of child bearing hips.
every time i pushed the door to the men's designated bathrooms open, i felt like i was the deceiver. like i was sneaking in and didn't want to get caught. but if someone in the library had just 'sir'd' me, i sure as hell wasn't gonna use the women's designated bathrooms, lest that same person who sir'd me saw my transgression and rescinded my masculine-read, ambiguous gender exemption.
biologically more masculine than feminine, without the help of medical transition, i still see my visceral reflection in more women than men. and it's not entirely the pain of all i've experienced from being read as a woman that makes me resent the resemblance. there's something, someone innate inside me that makes me hurt less, pressing. someone who balances on the sidewalk curbs and as he's about to fall, tells me that we can survive--he has my eyes, but a deeper voice and hips that are gonna bare lots and lots of poems.
when i deconstruct my personal boxed up gender and always find something infinitely more queer than dichotomized, it makes me realize, that the only section i'm ever gonna really fit into is the camp of play. you see-- i wanna hit the town in stolen latex and pumps sometimes, dirty baggy jeans and t-shirts and knit caps most of the time, glitter and faery wings at special times, and flowing skirts when the air is just right. but the catch is, i'm still more masculine than feminine, and my tits--i still don't connect in any way with. my voice is still supposed to be several octaves lower, and my should-be junk is just an entirely different ballgame. my gender and my should-be body aren't from the same mechanism, you see.
so i didn't used to think that binding my chest made that much of a difference. and i guess it didn't, until i learned "that much" about something called confidence. after a friend told me that most guys don't care who else is in the bathroom, i learned that he's sort-of, most of the time right. and though it's pretty shitty that of all people--the people working in the doctor's office were the ones who questioned my id didn't believe that i was at least eighteen, and even though they saw me through yet another fake screen of adolescent identity, at least my trans version was picked-up on in some capacity.
and when i don't look down on myself and catch a side-glance of my reflection instead, the masculine inside of me is able to swell up with much more pride. i'm not sure whether my sex was supposed to be boy, or man, or just some version of male, or something else entirely in between. but something about me, about this, also makes me now feel like more of a lie, when i'm sneaking into the women's designated bathroom, it feels awry. every time i push open the door, i'm afraid to get caught there too. and because the medical community feels the need to police my identity, i have to stress out about where i can empty my keeper in congenial neutrality.
so as i'm being psychologically evaluated, i don't separate my should-be sex and gender, or use the term genderqueer like it’s not a contradiction to transsexual, or tell the therapist of my affinity towards glitter and voguing and flexibility. and it almost works. until the therapist comes to money, and i explain that i know exactly what i want to spend my life doing, but that has nothing to do with a traditionally titled 'job' or 'career' or industry and i'm not worried about making money. and the therapist interprets my unwillingness to exploit as a source of uncertainty. my propensity for a radical sense of equality and feminism as a female femininity. and my unorthodox upbringing as a Freudian peculiarity…. and it's about Now that i realize that i just lost gender points for opinionated, unwilling to capitulate, non-gender related diversity. and thereafter i became conscious that being a class and race traitor loses you points with the Patriarchy.
i didn't used to think that binding my chest made that much of a difference. and it doesn't make "that much" of a difference. but binding has transitioned my entire means of arriving at everything.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
So you know how sometimes groups get started and then you think “hey, I want to get in on that but it’s too late now!”
Well, it was never too late in this instance, BUT we’re inviting you to COME OUT anyways.
This Wednesday at 7:00pm at the Gerber/ Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)
In honor of national coming out day, we’re turning our usual weekly discussion meeting into a coming out extravaganza!
So you secretly identify as a pirate? You have a crush on Michael Crawford? You eat that sugar goo they sell in the Walgreens candy aisle?
Whether it’s coming out as gender-variant for the first time, coming to Genderqueer Chicago for the first time, coming out as a Jimmy Buffet fan, or coming out as pumpkin pie addict, you’re invited to join us as we come together to share all that is appalling, appealing, painful, and hilarious.
Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00PM
Gerber/ Hart Library (off the Red Line Granville stop)
Meetings are free (unless you want to donate some pocket change to the library that offers us a free space) and open to all people looking for a safe space to deal with personal gender issues and questions. Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and everyone wishing to take part is considered family.
Also, as part of coming out week, we're asking you to submit your own coming out stories to our blog! You can submit these to email@example.com. Please include a title and a publishing name! We reserve the right to deny publishing anything deemed offensive or inappropriate, but we'll always get back to you about all submissions.
Friday, October 9, 2009
oct. 10th - THIS SATURDAY
10:30 a.m. to midnight
ida noyes hall, 1212 e 59th st.
a FREE one-day convergence of artists, activists, students, kinksters, queers, and awesome kids to discuss, dress up, explore intersectionality, make art, share skills, and dance hard.
there will be FREE vegan-friendly lunch & dinner for participants!
Choose among 20 workshops led by students, faculty, kinksters, artists, and more. Some titles include:
Trans Inclusion within Gay/Lesbian/Feminist communities
Do Cylons Have Rights?
Criminal (In)Justice and the Prison System
Radical Collaboration: Photography, Political Resistance, and Genderplay
BDSM As Bio-Political Resistance
+ zinemaking, an interactive exhibit by the Leather Archives & Museum, free queer-friendly safe sex kits, a film screening, glitter, art by Nessie Ruiz, and much much more.
Find the full schedule at:
AT 7.30pm MUSIC AND OPEN MIC PERFORMANCES BEGIN!
We have the great honor of hosting
Cristy Road (http://www.croadcore.org/)
Bad Heart Bull (http://www.myspace.com/clitorectomyandthemutilators)
Followed by an awesome loud powerful Open Mic for all! We'll keep it going until Ida Noyes kicks us out. BRING YOUR INSTRUMENT, your voice, and/or your excitement!
Come for a minute or a day to check out a workshop, perform a poem,
meet a friend, try on a crazy wig, brainstorm out loud, lead a workshop,
make a zine, appreciate some art, learn some kink, or spontaneously jam.
WE WELCOME IMPROMPTU WORKSHOPS AND PERFORMANCES.
This conference is a student-conceptualized and organized, never before,
never again-type thing. You should come check it out.
THANK YOU to the following collaborating organizations!
Yah's Vegan Cuisine
Lesbian Community Care Project
Transformative Justice Law Project (TJLP)
Lichen Spiritual Archives/Zine Library
Chicago Radical Cheerleaders
See you there! more info at -- queery2009.wordpress.com
And this may be harder to read than most of our blogs.
Ive been racking my brain, trying to rationalize my need to write this down. Whether it would be a selfish act to subject the general public to such a harrowing tale?
I have decided it would be selfish not to.
I was eleven years old the day I learned what makes a man.
I was playing in the woods with my "lost boys"
j,m,b,t,and b. We had been up to our usual tricks, climbing trees and rooftops
We collected treasures from the dumpster behind my apartment and we carried them to our secret place.
I remember j and m were bickering over some bauble
I felt excluded from this adventure.
I was having a hard time keeping up.
And j was looking at me like i was some kind of alien.
Someone flipped over a wading pool and i made a move to climb under it with them.
"No girls allowed"
i am not a girl
i wanted to scream
"not again? Come on. I..."
"my dad asked if you were my girlfriend."
"He says theres something weird about you..."
"youre weird" it was true
"He says girls shouldnt wear boys clothes."
"I like my clothes"
I look down at my ninja turtles t-shirt and jeans.
"Have you ever kissed a boy before?"
The hit came fast.
I had broken the unspoken rule. Never question a pre adolescents sexuality. He may only feel inclined to prove you wrong.
my best friend beckoned from under the pool. m and j were crouched in their fort. b,t, and b wandered over slowly sensing that something was happening.
"I want to show you something"
They each took a turn
proving to me, that I was, indeed different.
I went away.
I told myself, over and over that it was just a dream.
My swollen lip, and the sting n my cheek brought me back.
Choking back tears, and choking on his proof.
my hand held fast above my head.
I didnt cry out.
boys dont cry.
the weight over me.
I did cry out.
go home little girl.
It was some time before I understood the complete truth of that afternoon.
An attempt by five little shits to prove to me that I was different.
Well done. I am more man than you will ever be.
It doesnt take a man to rape. Being fucked doesnt make you a woman.
I have felt some element of that afternoon in every day of my life.
And I have overcome it.
I have trusted. I have loved. I have been loved.
I will trust. I will love. I will be loved.
Here I am, fifteen years later.
I have not forgotten that lesson.
Every time I feel fear I swallow it and think of them.
I will not ever forget.
Fuck your proof.
I am what I am, more than whats between my legs, more than whats put there.
It is they who are trapped by these bounds.
We are so much more than these little boxes.
I am so much more than that afternoon.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
“Is this when you were heterosexual?” Chris laughs beneath his breath. His tired hands thumb through the old photos, the days of formalwear and acne.
“Love,” I say. “I was never heterosexual.” I laugh, too. Chris is joking and laughter is rare relief these days.
The past week has been a little like high school for me- a tortured love song, the kind that feels too dangerous to sing aloud. Dare you hope too hard, dare you get too optimistic, dare you prepare yourself at all. We do not speak in “what if” terms here.
The small round waiting room table is covered in everything from baby food to doughnuts to old newspapers, a week’s worth of stress piled like dirty dishes in giant sink. The TV chatters from a dark corner above. Outside, a Thursday morning rain crawls down the windows. No matter the angle you look out, the backdrop is the same: dirty yellow buildings and empty windows. Hospitaland- the place without hours or minutes where we tick on without realizing it.
In this hospital waiting room, my teenage history slumps against sturdy patterned chairs in new versions of the same Chuck Taylors it wore seven years ago. Some of us have kids now. Some of us have fancy jobs. Some of us still have bands and credit card debt. Me? I have half a job, an enchanting faggot love, and queer family in constant gender crisis. It’s a good life, but it’s not always easy to reconcile with the one I left for college, the one that fidgets nervously in the waiting waiting waiting room, the one hooked up to a breathing machine through the sliding glass doors.
We’re a Midwestern bunch, as evidenced by a wide selection of junk food and fleece jackets. We’re supposed to grow up to inhabit the houses and heartaches our parents inherited. But I’ve floated too far from that self to ever fulfill that promise.
Every time I come back home, I wonder if and how there will be room for me. There are new faces here now, important faces I don’t know. And I have to ask if I haven’t fallen out of good grace. I’m going to get ordained and marry Chris to my high school best friend when she wakes up. But I don’t believe in marriage. I’m really really really queer. Even people from my ultra-liberal alternative college say so. Can I return to my small Midwestern town and find community?
Chris looks me up and down and then turns back to the photo. In the picture, I’m happily swept up in the arms of my high school boyfriend, the sequins of my turquoise dress reflecting a spring sunset.
Today, I’m in my usual uniform of baggy pants, Doc Martens, a button-up, and a tie. I flip through the faces of my high school best friends. I’ve looked at the pictures so many times since going away to college and then coming back. But this is the first time Chris is seeing them. His fiancé, my best friend who now lies comatose, giggles through the images.
“Look at her,” Chris shakes his head. “Look at how hot she is here.”
I nod. She’s strikingly beautiful. She always has been.
Chris squints at the pile of pictures. I can see him re-mapping all of our histories through these images. I know he’s wondering if I consciously lied about who I was all those years, if I pretended to be straight even though I knew better.
“When did you realize?” He asks. “When did you know?”
I sigh. I explain that I always liked the guys I dated, but it wasn’t until his fiancé told me she was “bi” that I realized it was possible to like more than one sex or gender.
Chris beams. “I like you better now.” He nods at my outfit. “This is you. I mean, you’ve always been a sweetheart, but this, this is you.”
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Oct. 14 - Increasing Visibility: Recognizing the Impact of Bias & Violence in the Lives LGBTQ
Oct. 28 - Trans 101
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I'm quite comfortable here. I switch layers for bare skin, with the blank hanger I exchange the shirt in hand for empty space. The shirt goes on the rack, I go for the cap. It reads "newyork." In one word the city represents a vague stitch in red thread lettering and I simply cannot regret the name.
Inside my apartment I can revel in the ambiguity of this genderfuck, safely tucking away memories of my former selves. "Non-conforming for no one now. This is no performance," I think. I know barely a thing outside this body and even this is lately foreign territory. All around I walk this city - side streets, ally ways, and all these questions, I am let down at the same dead end with all but one choice word to choose. By default I am paralyzed in between the binary this and amidst my train of thought- that I find discomforting. And now, with privilege I rush the streets like angry rain, I storm through the front doors and embrace this information. I take advantage of this knowledge, employ a greater sense of self. Charge complete, I run from everything.
I rush quickly, frantic I glide easy onto the wood floor board of my bedroom from the tiny bathroom. I plug in my pink hair iron and sit. I jump up remembering at once those dishes I promised I'd wash before. When I finally return to the computer I remember this tool - the act of straightening my hair, the therapeutic treatment, the ability I have now to live without every day necessitating it. Yet, I can't disregard the fact that I wanted to sit with that tool and make my hair flat all the while contemplating how this pastime ritual once defined me.
Likewise how such an act in those days remains to me a symbol of how identity was ingrained in me from later days. As classified "high-femme" and outspoken, this is how I survived, a social butterfly talked her way through high school, plays a role that can no longer be forged, nor blamed for. My life was straightened out, I had some help of course. There's the news and gossip reports and all those ridiculous thoughts that formed me into facts. So I filled in the blanks about what I imagined to be true - I took on an identity, an image of the ultimate me. Taking control simultaneously controlled by what I would achieve, a boyfriend, a group of besties, a job to afford all the necessities that came with a high maintenance profile. If I got all the parts missing (which I did) well then, my life would be complete- right?
If homophobia murmured through halls of my high school I didn't notice. I was already locked in and notably uncomfortable. I would have climbed walls in the advent that I noticed those two queers in the corner being affectionate. Taking off from anxiety, I continued forward locking away a skeleton to let out at a later date, if ever. For most of my life I've kept secret feelings locked up in emotions forcefully denying myself the right to live and experience myself. Giving little thought to my reactions gave way for belittling what I honestly felt. When I saw girls kissing girls I'd ignorantly declare (fearful of learning otherwise) that these girls were just drunks making out to turn them boys on. I not only projected my personal girl on girl experiences onto the LGBT students at large but my voice symbolized the silencing of the self in order to protect that who I am. I learned to become her, taught myself to navigate "straight," assuming it safer to survive the horror scenes now played out over as myself in my memory. The point of destruction was where she spoke I was not and when I spoke she had no voice. Let me deconstruct.
These walls are safe, they're built on ruins and envy and fear and I am no taller than that. This structure supposes me, this idea holds me in place. It is the idea of love that invades me as I prepare myself to come out and tell you. It is the idea of love that prepares me to continue falling and this is how I continue loving you and everybody else. I can't help wonder the harbor of resentment I am digging in my life, the deeper she will fall into the swallowed words of days passed. With only hollow echoes, she is faint lines and common creatures to be captured inside my body. I find refuge in dressing these wounds of hers, so that I am always escaping from nothing and blind to no one. She presents to me old and worn monuments of the past.
Those moments were made to mold me unto words that stung and stuck us into categories that never fit. But how I must, I have, I hope, only to give onto time and history the secrets I've buried and no longer resent. One day I will see my body as the representation of how far we have NOT yet come, how I am a production of fear and how I can fight back. I will look at my reflection and rather than the marks that your words chose for me I will look only to see the scars of my body. I will have fought for my life and I will have won the security of faith for not assumption but alteration. My sincerity is not dishonest, nor my honesty brave. I am good at making waves in my mind and I am not sure of the power in all of this but I know the ending of a sentence creates a rift in the stanza. I must if I will break the silence.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
When I was young, my mother told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted. I learned fast that she meant it. It had been planned that way, as many American successes are. My college savings fund was pushing two figures before I hit the age of five. By age seven, I had held the first Olympic torch in Greece, peeked over Niagara’s falls, rolled alongside Oregon’s tumbleweeds, and danced for the rains in the middle of Albuquerque’s coughing desert.
Yes, I was a child bound for glory, hatched and trained in the alarm-protected walls of white suburbia and bred to see and shape the world to my will. It was only natural that I should have lofty ambitions in life.
“I am going to be a pick-pocket,” I told my father’s business partner at a young age.
“A pickpocket. You know, like Oliver Twist.” I watched his face scrunch. “Have you seen Oliver Twist? I am going to be like him.”
I pictured myself, a newsboy hat and ragged cut-offs, sprinting through the streets singing. It was a beautiful career choice, and I was lucky to have found my calling at such a young age. Other kids aimed too low. Tom wanted to fight fire. Jill wanted to be a nurse. But me, I would be a full-on thieving dance number. I would be quick and clever, shy and charming. I would live on stale bread and form secret handshakes with artful greasy-haired boys.
“She’s kidding,” my mother would tell people whenever conversation of my life’s ambition arose. “She just saw Oliver Twist and became obsessed with it.”
“No I’m not!” I insisted. I would lift up the wallet I slipped from my father’s back pocket ten minutes prior. “I’ve been practicing!”
One must imagine the horror this stuck in my poor parents' hearts- their Ivy-League bound little girl, resigned to a life of boyish pilfering.
But what else was I to do? My career options were terribly limited given who I was…
I couldn’t fly, so Peter pan was out of the question. Failed attempts at pole vaulting had proved that Aladdin was a long shot. Robin Hood’s appeal was killed by that awful beard of his. Huck Finn was too edgy to replicate. I could have been Tiny Tim, but both of my legs worked just fine, and I didn’t want to grow up to be disingenuous. Still, I was not going to give up on my big life dreams. I was not going to aspire to “Police Officer” or “Teacher.”
In time, I learned that Oliver’s habit of robbing innocent streetwalkers was both “morally wrong” and hurtful to my parents. So, I aimed to become something happier, something that brought pride and joy to people.
“When I grow up, I would like to be a Christmas elf,” I told the lady in the grocery store check-out line. She had asked, and I was proud to have a new, more socially-acceptable job planned. “My name will be Elmo the Elf.”
My mother shook her head and laughed. “Well, I told her she could be anything she wanted!”
The shopper lady frowned at me like I had just told her my favorite snack food was baby birds.
As it turned out, Santa was actually code word for “Dad, when he stumbles down the stairs with bags of presents.” No real Santa meant no real elves. No real elves meant that I was, again, a boy out of work.
I flitted through several careers after that. For a while, I considered newsie. It still had the great clothing and dance numbers, but it didn’t have the same legal risks as Oliver. This, of course, fell through when I realized that our own newspaper magically appeared before dawn every morning on the driveway. Even if a person put that paper there as I suspected, I was not interested in getting up that early.
I needed a better career goal, something to really aim for, something that would stick, something that came from television rather than books and movies.
Recently, someone told me that when he was young, his father’s friends used to ask what he wanted to be when he grew up. He always corrected the question. “You mean, what do I want to do?” he’d say.
I am still asking myself that question. If review my many life plans, I suppose I want to pole-vault around the North Pole singing “God bless us, everyone” in a newsboy cap. But that doesn’t seem like a viable option either.
I always wanted to be what I wanted to do. I wanted to do boy things, so I naturally wanted to be a boy. And if I could achieve that impossible goal, why not aim even higher? Why not aim for Boy Adventure Hero?
Anything was possible, my mother told me. It was the first thing she taught, and the last thing I heard before going to bed at night. I could grow up and be anything I wanted. And lately, I think she meant it, too.
Website graphics and design by Andre Perez