Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Oliver to Tiny Tim and Back Again (and other Boyhood Dreams)

By K. Sosin

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 what?”

“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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meeting Reminder!

Don't forget that we'll be having our bi-weekly safe space meeting tomorrow at 7pm at the Gerber/Hart Library.

Meetings are free and open to anyone wishing to discuss personal gender issues. Those who don't feel the need for such a safe space are encouraged to participate in GqC through film screenings, theatre events, blogging, and education.

See you tom!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

1st Annual Nationwide You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project

According to Kate Bornstein's incredibly active twitter account...

Organizers nationwide are asking young people to chalk up their high school and college campuses next Wednesday. The message? "You are loved and beautiful."

In past years, such messages appeared on the walkways at Drew University during LGBTQ Awareness month. Now, activists are asking that those simple messages appear on campuses across the country.

Link Here.

What: 1st Annual Nationwide You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project
When: Monday October 5th, 2009
Where: College campuses and high schools everywhere

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Finding My Center

By Malic Moxie

Ever since puberty hit me like an unanticipated bomb, I have been making lists of things that hate about my body. This harmful habit has left its ugly marks in journal after journal, a constant reminder of atypical teenage angst that triggered gender questions that I was unprepared to answer. I used to feel trapped in my own soft flesh, bound by a short stature, a “feminine” figure, face too delicate and feet too small.

Then I discovered outlaw bodies like mine.

I found hope in the hollows of her collarbone, in the ridges of his sternum, in the half-heart shapes of their hipbones, in hir wide, wakeful eyes. She says that she doesn’t see gender—only bodies. Movement is the only signifier that captures her frantic, flickering gaze. He says that he likes the edges of things—a fragile earlobe, the crinkled corner of a smile—but I like what’s in between. I like the tootsie roll pop center of a body, the part that is tough and vulnerable all at once, the part that we are most terrified to share.

Now I want to find my own center. I want to own my movement, my edges, the hormones that flow through my bloodstream without my consent. I did not ask for this body, but if I were given the choice now, I wouldn’t change a single unwanted curve or freckle. This body has provided me with a unique vehicle for navigating the world, busting through binaries wherever my Converse-clad girlfeet carry me.

Yes, sometimes I still feel trapped by the inevitable reading of biological signifiers. Yes, I have the option to remove the parts that don’t make sense, to shoot up genderjuice that will allow strangers to perceive me more accurately, blurring uncertain edges into something real and whole. For now I place these options in the back pocket of my brain and find my core instead, take a deep breath and center myself, steady the thoughts that take off like rockets every time a body touches me in the wrong way in the wrong places, every time I catch a glimpse of those frustrating edges in the mirror.

So let’s make a pact.

I will love this body because I love his and hers and yours. We will center ourselves in the space between skin and breath. We will own our bodies the same way we own our hearts. After all, loving ourselves in these vague, vibrant bodies is the most radical thing we can do.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Memo to a Boystown Boy from a Boystown Boi, with Love and Respect

By K. Switch

You, with crisp hair and cologne so strong I can taste it as you push past, will know me. I am the faggirl that gives you night sweats and identity crises weekly, the dykeboy you’d bend over if only I had a …

You may grab me by the tie on a Halsted corner, kiss me with disclaim that you “don’t like girls,” sidle up next to me in the safe shadow of suffocating dance beats. You can spit the insults by daylight. Dykeboys don’t know how to dress. Dykeboys are boring. And fat.

Ban us from your bathhouses. Serve us last at your bars. Bump into us as you fall from the palms of throbbing dance floors. And when I tell you I might be a boy, you may laugh in sweet patronage all you’d like.

Because I’m coming for that heart of yours, and it’s going to change your mind.

I’m coming into your bars and bookstores, your back alley jobs and coffee shop eye-fucks. I’m in your sex toy store selling you lube. I’m at your late-night pizzeria, throwing in an extra dollar for tip because you drunkenly forgot to. I’m peeing in your little boy’s room.

You and I are not so different, love. I remember your graceless grade school days, before the protective shield of Prada and overpriced v-necks. I remember the way you wheezed through gym class, cried away your lunch hour, and burned red at your own foolishness in thinking you could get away with singing and dancing in the school talent show. When they threw bottles and slurs from car windows at you, I felt it like kicks to the ribs.

I have loved you your whole life. And you will see me. I’m all over the streets you claim as your own. I’m in the regular habit of accosting the bachelorette parties that you say invade you, while you bring your too-cute straight bestie into the neighborhood to snarl at my tie and sneakers. I raise a solidarity fist to your rain-soaked marriage march, even though that movement has forgotten people like me. And I will fight your right to transgress “man” into “fag,” even if you turn blind to mine.

Yes, I’m coming for that heart of yours, and it’s going to change your mind.

And next time you start a sentence with: “Damn, if you were a boy I’d…” I’m going to laugh in sweet patronage. Lucky for you, I am.

Leslie Feinberg Talks Teflon

"People stare at me wherever I go. Some who gawk at me shift between seeing me as a very feminine man and an extremely masculine woman. I unnerve them because they can't determine my sex. So are my love and I lesbian women, mother and son, lesbian woman with gay male friend, or some other combination? Our relationship is the Teflon to which no classification of sexuality sticks."
Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Warriors

Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance In Musical Performance

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did you participate in or see toilet theatre? Tell us about it!

GqC is now posting submissions on the toilet theatre! Did you participate? Did you see someone do it? What were your expectations? What happened? If you chose to participate, why did you do it?

E-mail your thoughts to

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dudebros and Chickpeas: Words of Wisdom for Boi Wait(ress)

By Malic Moxie

“Is it ready yet?”

I peer over the counter into the searing eyes of Fuming Falafel Woman, the Cruella Deville of a customer who has been rapping her nails on the counter for ten excruciating minutes.

I glide into my best Soothing Therapist voice, grateful that I was trained as an actor before I stumbled into the restaurant industry. “No, the falafel appetizer isn’t here yet. Just a few more minutes. I’ll let you know as soon as your pickup order is ready.”

She grunts. I’m certain that I can see steam curling out of her nostrils.

I gingerly step around Falafel Woman to the other side of the counter where I begin pouring soup into cardboard cups, imagining my customer in a hideous fur coat sewn from the spotted puppy hides. It seems appropriate. I’m so caught up in my mental description of an imagined cigarette holder between her tap, tap, tapping nails that I just barely catch the tail end of some typical customer commentary nearby.

“I thought it was a guy from behind…” Laughter ensues.

The commentator is a snickering cisguy within a crew of dudebros. They could only be talking about me, the sole “waitress” on staff with an intentionally flat chest and hair like stegosaurus spikes with a runaway Elvis curl. I expected these kinds of comments when I stopped femming-out for work. I ignore them.

“Aqui, aqui!” The cook hands me a container of falafel and jerks his head in my impatient customer’s direction.

“Finalmente! Muchas gracias.” I shove the package across the counter with a receipt. “Here—it’s ready.”

Falafel Woman/Cruella Deville stares me down. The fury in her eyes has melted into something manic.

“I see you.” The words fall flat on the countertop with comical sincerity. I think she’s raving mad.

“Um, yes you do. Your total is…”

“I see you.” She cuts me off—her voice is more insistent this time. “Don’t let anybody rain on your parade.” A decorative scarf engulfs her shaven head and gem stone rings adorn her hands—I conclude that this woman must supplement her day job earnings with professional tarot card readings. She pulls off the creepy fortune teller voice too well.

“Ok…” I reach for her crumpled dollar bills (fortune telling tips, I’m sure) and direct my attention elsewhere.

“No, you’re not listening.” She reaches a frantic hand across the counter; gem stones grate against the granite. Her voice dips into a deep whisper. “I heard what those men were saying about you. Don’t let them rain on your parade. I see you. I look at you and I see me. Do you understand?” Her eyes latch onto mine like iron hooks and her Falafel Fury falls away into desperation. I finally realize that Falafel Woman isn’t crazy—she recognizes the ragged thread that connects us, the thread of outlaws. Her previous disposition suddenly makes sense. Falafel Woman’s fury is the product of a necessarily combative existence, a defense against those who contribute to her perpetual struggle. Yes, she definitely sees me.

I nod, watching a smile crinkle in the corners of her somber eyes. “I understand.”

“I like your personality. Stay the way you are. And don’t you ever let them rain on your parade.”

My Outlaw Sister swipes her falafel off the counter with a wink and a split second grin. She’s out the door before I can say, “I see you, too.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Glitter and Lipstick traces. A summary of my Toilet Revolution

I was sitting on the beach, looking out over the water when a very curious and ridiculously adorable young person peeked out over the side of the bench.
"How come youre dressed like that? BOYS are supposedto wear ties and vests"
I smiled.
"Well, sometimespeople are more than just boys or girls."I replied.
Suddenly this little creature staring up at me got very serious. Eyes wide and lips trembling, it formed a question...
"Like faeries?" it held its breath
And this is it, this was the moment when everything clicked for both of us. I reached down to the pouch on my belt. I grabbed a pinch of my glitter and i leaned down...
"Exactly like faeries." A wink and a blow.

The revolution began a few days early. In that little creature, a spark of hope.

The whole point of this little Restroom Revolution was to start a conversation.
I feel like a lot of people simply are'nt aware that there are more than two ways to "be". and that regardless of those...we all need to pee.

I started my day at a coffee shop. I actually headed strait for the can. No one stopped me on my way to the mens room, and there was glitter on the floor.

At a restaurant, when I inquire about the restroom I am directed to the "ladies room". I search out the other. No incident.
I use the ladies room next.
"Excuse me"
"Oh, sorry,I thought you were a boy."
"Im Peter.Is there a problem?"
"Youre?...This is the line for the womens room."
"Is it? I thought it was the line for the toilet?"
I shut the door behind me. I leave glitter on the floor.

Later in the evening, my lover leaves the table to use the "mens room". I am inexplicably nervous. When she returns we have an amazing conversation. The reaction to being in a "male" space, when she herself did not "pass" was visceral.
I smile at her. She gives me a nod of understanding.
I will have this conversation with twelve more people.

I use the "mens room".
"Hey! This is the mens room!"
"I know."
he lets me pee.

I use a "ladies room".
"I read about this. Toilet theater, right?"
you've got to be kidding.
"Um...yeah...HI, Im Peter."
"Yeah, my friend made me read that blog. You know what? Im gonna hit the ladies room right now. Good luck, Peter."
He leaves me flabbergasted.

I use a "mens room"
my entrance receives quite an intimidating look.
I point. "Toilet?"
A nod.
"Thank you."

Waiting in line.
"Are these both taken?"
"Oh we're waiting for the "womens room"."
I open the door tho the mens room and flip on the light.
"Looks like a place to piss to me."
I hold the door open.
Threshold crossed. I wait for the next available lou.

And there it is. It wasnt so scary, or "In Your Face".
Just peein. oy.
So maybe next time youre about to confront someone when their already in an uncomfortable situation...youll think to yourself
"they must be a fairy."
its true.
Viva la Revolucion

thank you to those who was an amazing birthday

this is an adventure

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Calling All Captains

By K. Switch

We wake these days in blurred brotherhood. As far as I can tell, the face facing mine, my own and someone else’s all in one. You sleep knotted up in yourself, and by that I mean, you sleep knotted up in the ache you share.

It is a love of necessity before choice, of record before voice, of getting lost in the wicked woods of childhood dreams and emerging into the fields your teenage emo scratched into the corners of spiral college-ruled pages.

It is the love of your too-small fingernails. It is the love of your unmanageably indecisive head of hair. It is the love and loss of you, yourself, and every “you” that cannot exist aside and inside another “you.”

You speak and kiss in circles, agonize for weeks over the willingness of zippers and buttons, plant yourself against your image, and step back. Was that okay? Is this okay? Which version of “you” is consenting?

And this, this inexplicable love, that we nurture and refuse to monopolize, that we hum and strum to, that we temporarily tattoo and watercolor and journal and compose and re-tell slumber-party style in panting giggle, is the only nameable thing we have, the hazardous point on which sleeping and waking rests.

Dearest brotherboys, sistergals, faggotdykes, fruits, and binary-less captains, lately I want to ask you: have you the courage to change your circumstance? And by that I mean, have I?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Genderqueer Chicago to Screen Beautiful Boxer- This Wednesday

Join us this Wednesday, September 23 for an all-community screening of this stunning film.

at the Gerber/Hart Library -1127 West Granville Avenue
(next to the Granville Red Line Stop)

The story of a trans Thai kickboxer whose battles and famed success in the ring parallel her battles to live as herself.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Genderqueer Chicago on the Chicagoist/ Toilet Questions and Comments

Genderqueer Chicago made the Chicagoist today, and the article has stirred intense debate and backlash about safety in public restrooms.

So for the sake of education and clarity, I've decided to list some of the most common questions and comments we're getting on this little theatre act. If you don't know what the "Toilet Revolution" is, please scroll down a few posts and read about it.

FAQs and Common Comments

Won't men who try this get arrested?

Not if you're smart. Believe it or not, gender-variant people usually try to use single-stall bathrooms because it's safer and less awkward for us. Starbucks, for example, usually has single-stall gendered bathrooms, but we still get accosted in front of them. Male-born men should use single-stall bathrooms on Saturday.

But seriously, do you really want men in the ladies room?

Wait, what is a man? Or a woman? Okay, I get it. We're all socialized. It matters. Actually, a lot of public spaces have gender-free bathrooms. The college I attended never gendered the bathrooms of its dorms of buildings, and we never had a problem. My old-fashioned Midwestern mother even got used to it and learned to like it. Bathrooms should be safe for everyone all the time.

But do you actually think you are going to change things?


How are things going to change?
Well, we're having this discussion. That's a huge start.

I support what you want, but I don't agree with...
1. Are you gender non-conforming? 2. Are you also working to change things? 3. Will you please share more ideas?

At the root of all of us this is the fact that "wrong" bathroom use happens everyday. Many people in our community cannot use EITHER bathroom, even in single-stall facilities, without risk of being called out and harassed.

The basic assumption here: we all need to pee. Everyone. It's not rocket science or radical politics. When you gotta go...

For the record, Genderqueer Chicago is not a political campaign or activist group. Genderqueer Chicago is an open community group intended to provide safe meetings spaces for gender-variant people to connect and feel empowered. Bathroom Theatre is simply a threatre activity, intended to challenge the invisibility of trans/genderqueer struggles in Chicago.

Kate Sosin
Co-Founder, Genderqueer Chicago


By K. Kriesel

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Revolution Begins

I have asked everyone I know to use the "wrong" restrooms all day, Sat Sep 19. The response given if given a hard tme? Simple. "Its just a toilet".
The conversations this has inspired, have already been the single best birthday present Ive ever recieved.
This is the beginning of our "Glitter Revolution" Eventually My hope is to help our own and the next generation evolve. I see a world where these castes and categories we've boxed ourselves into will become dramatically less important. Where there is no longer a struggle for us all to simply "be". A life spent fighting or hiding, constantly trying to "pass" for one thing or another is...well...a lot of wasted time really. We dont get much time here, and while its true that "...To die would be an awfully great adventure..." It also remains, that this life is an adventure taht is happening. And with all this fighting and hiding, we are missing it.
I have come to the conclusion that we are a Queer generation.
We have all been simply "passing" in some way or another, and I think its time for a Revolution.
A Glitter Revolution, where we do not hide our eyes. Where we quietly explain "We are the same" take it or leave it.
It has already begun. The plates are shifting.
Our fellow genderoffender Malic said it best
"I can taste the revolution on your tongue"

What's this about Toilet Revolution?

The Toilet Revolution is a city-wide theatre event intended to challenge gendered bathrooms and the policing of gender non-conforming people who get accosted when trying to pee.

And it's this Saturday! All Day! Oh, oh my!

Accosted while trying to pee?

Yep. Everyday, gender-alternative people are questioned, berated, mocked, glared at, and barred from public restrooms because someone's perception of their gender doesn't match up with the "shirt" and "suit" pictures on gendered bathrooms. Bathrooms should be safe for everyone, no matter their gender identity and presentation.

How do I get involved?
Easy. Pick a gendered bathroom. Or a few on Saturday. Enter a bathroom in a public space that you feels challenges conceptions of gender.

Be Safe.
Go with a buddy, and don't put yourself in danger. If you're cis male-bodied and male-identified, be sensitive to who is around you.

And repeat.
Do this over and over again if you have time and feel safe.

Spread the word.

Tell your friends. And tell them to tell their friends.

Write about it.
We'll be posting written reactions/ thoughts/ feelings/ images/ and videos from your experience! If you want to contribute, send your responses to

Also, Peter, co-founder of GqC, celebrates his 26th on Saturday. So send him some love!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Big Something: A Manifesto of Little Explosions

By Malic Moxie

“Something big is happening,” you say. You have that earnest, manic look in your eyes, the one I recognize so well. I know—I feel it too.

I felt it swelling in my sleepless limbs at Camp Trans. I felt it flood my pores when four ambiguous bodies walked through city rain singing. I felt it rush past in a blur of blinking lights when we claimed the CTA for public genderprocessing.
I feel it when I wear my favorite tie, when I think without pronouns, when I speak and write and fuck however I please without regard to the directions that came with the parts.

Yes, something big is happening.

I feel it when I respond to a name I have given myself. I feel it when I find worn copies of Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg on library shelves. I feel it waiting tables at a restaurant where I work in furtive femme drag, leaving desperate notes on the receipts of gender outlaws I recognize.

Ohhhh yeah—something big is happening.

This is not political change. This is not a march, a boycott, or a letter-writing campaign. This is not a meeting we can attend or a law we can pass. This is the revolution of daily life, of existing and enduring.

It’s in the little things—interactions with strangers on the bus, in bookstores and bathrooms. It’s in our clothes; it’s under our clothes. It’s in our sweat, our saliva, our bones and our blood, our hearts. Our art. It’s in our conversations and our caresses.

Sometimes I dream of a world where all genders are welcome and I feel an itch of panic swelling somewhere behind my ears. The voice of my inner monologue takes on a disconcerting bellow: You are not doing enough. You are never doing enough. You have to organize more, educate more, generate enough sparks for the BIG GENDER EXPLOSION all by your little self.

Then I remember the little explosions that we create every day, the gendersparks that we leave behind us wherever we have been. We are trembling with history that rattles in our bones like a warning. We are marking the territory of gender outlaws.

And when I witness the gendermarks scrawled on footpaths and freeways with jagged teeth and acrylic nails, I will know that you have been here.

“Something big is happening,” you say. I respond with a gesture rather than words—I can taste the revolution on your tongue.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reaching Out

By K. Kriesel

Check this Out!

This fantastic 10-minute documentary details the work of dancer, Sean Dorsey, whose groundbreaking choreography aims to place trans and genderqueer struggle, history, and presence into dance.

viva la revolucion...the wc revolucion

It happens to me at least once a day.
That warm uncomfortable squiggle beneath my stomach. The furrow in my brow. The inevitable question...which public restroom do I use?
Where am I less likely to be confronted?
Why do I have to think about this every time I pee?

This happened to me yet again about two months ago. I wasn't paying attention to where I was, and my proximity to a large group of my fellow "gender offenders" made me a little less self conscious.
I made my way to the can.
"Excuse me..." A rather sweet-looking young lady sneers at me.
"You're not a woman." she states, with an impetuous stamp of her foot.
"I thought it was just a toilet," I reply, wishing in this moment that I had some glitter to pass on to this poor person who was taking themselves a bit too seriously.

I ducked into the Lou, and did my business, and when I emerged from the coffee shop's WC the person who had confronted me was gone.
I went back to my table and relayed the event to my friends.

Three of them seemed shocked that anyone would take issue with one's preferred restroom choice, it being such a basic human function.
They couldn't believe me when I told them this kind of confrontation happens to me at least once a day, no matter which room I choose.
I don't fit into either of those accepted representations of "male" or "female".
It is my belief that this two-partied gender system is broken.

And this is when I had a...EUREKA moment.
What if on Saturday September 19, all day, anyone who was interested staged a little dramatics in the john?
Use the opposite restroom to what you usually use all day.
If you feel uneasy alone, take a friend.
If you'd rather, only do it once.
If anyone confronts you...simply reply "It's just a toilet..."
Isn't it?
After your moment, if anything happens, if nothing happens...tweet about it, or write us a blog (send to

September 19 is my 26th birthday. And I, Peter Noble, can think of no greater present than some Chicago-wide restroom genderfunkery.

Peter Danger Noble
co-founder Genderqueer Chicago

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Silent Adventures of Trannyfag and Beat Boy

By Malic Moxie

I’m sitting on a crowded south side bus when I see him—he’s wearing low-slung skinny jeans that cling to a body buzzing with furtive femininity and nervous tics. His skin is a piercing, polished black. He examines his nails, smacks his glitter-glazed lips, nods his delicate head to a beat unraveling from his headphones. He looks no older than seventeen.

A man’s voice cuts through Beat Boy’s muted rhythms and the white noise of CTA conversation. “Look at that faggot! Just look at him!”
I turn around. The hate-spewing volcano is a drunk man sprawling in a seat across the aisle. A jagged trail of hair creeps along his belly; drool slithers down his chin. “What kind of childhood did this kid have?” he asks no one in particular. “Bet he was raised like a girl. Bet he got fucked like a girl, too. Did somebody fuck you up that black ass, faggot?”

I can see the words slice through Beat Boy’s protective headphones—his muscles grow tense beneath tight fabric—but he doesn’t bother to hurl a glance in Spewer’s direction. Beat Boy has clearly felt the sting of these words before. I see scars in his starry eyes.

“Faggot, I’m talking to you! Do you see this kid?” Spewer searches the startlingly blank faces of his fellow travelers. No one says a word.

I can’t let this happen. I’ve been here before, caught in the shame-bearing burn of the queerphobic CTA spotlight. Watching from the edges, I feel empathy clawing up the back of my throat until I gag.

I’m about to tell Spewer to fuck off when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the bus window—short hair, bound chest. Even if he read me as a guy, I would still look precariously queer.

But I can’t watch Beat Boy suffer. As a silent symbol of solidarity, I get out of my seat and stand beside him.

“What the fuck are you doing standing next to that faggot?”

I stare out the window until we reach our stop, playing gender games in my head.

We walk along the sidewalk to the red line, leaving Spewer and his spittle behind. Beat Boy bobs along with an attention-grabbing sway of his hips, and the middle-aged men on the curb release a twisted string of catcalls. Beat Boy kisses one of his admirers on the cheek and whispers something in his ear—the man slips him a dollar. I catch a glimpse of the darker side of Beat Boy’s life.

I wander restlessly down the train platform and try to shake the tense bus ride from my thoughts. Beat Boy waits beside me, examining my clothes and my hair beneath his half-closed painted lashes. He sees the marks of CTA genderbashing written on my boibody—I am his queer brother.

When the train arrives, Beat Boy finds a seat beside me. His ears still travel through defensive rhythms that loop around his headphones; I dip into a book. We finally lock eyes for a moment, exchanging so many stories in a single glance. I desperately want to say something, to know him, but I realize that I already do. His chiseled face cracks into a grin. We sit in silence, safe and smiling. I feel like we’re holding hands.

The pronouns and name that I used to identify my fellow adventurer in this anecdote were selected based on my “reading” of this individual. I had no verbal interaction with this person; therefore, their gender identity and pronoun preference remain unknown to me. The aim of this piece was to clearly convey this extraordinary person’s bravery and the profound effect that they had on me in a particular time and place. Thanks, Beat Boy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gender JUST Celebrates Safe & Affirming Action Campaign

From Gender JUST:

Have you been following Gender JUST’s Safe & Affirming Education Campaign? Do you want to learn more? Do you want to get involved? Are you interested in meeting the amazing young people, parents, teachers, and allies who lead this campaign? Would you like to celebrate the victories and all the hard work that’s gone into Gender JUST’s Safe & Affirming Education Campaign?

Come to a Celebration for Safe & Affirming Education!
Hosted by Gender JUST’s Safe & Affirming Education Organizing Committee

• Saturday, September 19th 2009
• 6:00pm – 8:00pm
• Lichen Lending Library (1921 S Blue Island) – right down the street from Lozano Library!

Bring some food, bring some music, bring some friends, bring some energy, bring yourself!

Below are some links to press on Gender JUST’s Safe & Affirming Education Campaign:

“Gender JUST Meets with Huberman”

“CPS Acts on LGBT Concerns”

“LGBTQs Take Education to the Streets”

“LGBTQA/GNC Students and Allies Meet with CPS Chief, Ron Huberman, about Safe & Affirming Education”

“Huberman Attends Forum on LGBTQ Students”

“Huberman Meets with GLBT Activists about Creating Safer Schools”

“Group Invites Huberman to Speak”

Gender JUST’s Safe & Affirming Education Campaign is a grassroots coalition of students, parents, teachers, and allies working together to fight against heterosexism and violence towards LGBTQ students in Chicago Public Schools by organizing through an economic, racial, and gender justice framework.

Gender JUST (Gender Justice United for Societal Transformation) is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational grassroots organization of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, and Allied (LGBTQA) young people, LGBTQA people of color, and LGBTQA grassroots folks developing leadership and building power through organizing.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Asheville Transgender Remembrance Weekend- November 20th-21st

A close friend/ ally brought this to our attention, and it looks pretty wonderful. Perhaps GqC should plan a field trip? ...

From the website:

"Asheville Transgender Remembrance Weekend is more than a memorial for those who have been lost; it is an all inclusive event that strives to celebrate people of all gender variant identities and existences, from transsexual to gender queer, androgynous to intersex, and beyond. It is a call to all members of the community to step out from behind fear and guilt and to be proud of the gift that transgender is; a rally cry to defy the idea that violence is an inevitable part of transgender life. It is an invitation to all people to learn about the intricacy and beauty of a community made up of a diverse, strong and wholly relevant people. Most of all it is a celebration of the vibrant and beautiful people who make up the transgender community."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Letter Home

By M. Rich

What can I say. I've thought about it several times and I'm not really sure what to tell them though I'm certain they must wonder who these people are.
Reclaim the they, the them, the gender neutral, singular plural-"us"
We are strong willed and self-assured now willing to step up and Come out
To you the world has been full of misery
my friend they are more enthralled with mystery with the binary sexes and the non-conforming
I can relax now, shudders-- my back to the past and the cool wind chill
it's no ocean and no wonder I couldn't have,
I didn't come to tell you anything more different, a mere radical, a quivered lip bit and mouths closed
skin guarded
Chapped lips stay dry now for more than age's
a number, a lover, an arm caught beneath
since I can't remember
what he smelled like, what she tasted like
How they threw themselves and hurled towards me like cattle on a fresh cut grass field
where it did not belong
where I could not hear, taste, see or smell the cotton of my own shirt
the legacy of my mother's hurt tongue
tied down, wrapped up and wretched
symphonies proclaimed
They're sorry, she giggled and smiled at me
The next morning I bobbled my mind like an old figurine
I shuddered the thought and just like that my head
bounced up and down and side to side
a cock
to the left, and right!
I whispered aloud
glimmered, dulled down to that question:
Exactly how many are there of me?
And if I dare just leave it, we may as well lead
all you bored faced straight
suckers in all the good stuff
Like my non-conformative
so very gendered
and unresisted binding
to the boys and the girls I am screaming
Their only one request is that this exclude none of us.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Meeting Tonight!


We will be holding our bi-weekly discussion meeting this evening at 7:00pm sharp at the Gerber/Hart Library (just off the Granville Red Line stop).

Meeting goes until 9:00pm.

Discussion meetings are intended to create safe space. They are open to anyone wishing to discussion personal gender issues. Those who don't feel like they need such spaces are encouraged to participate in screenings and other events.

Website graphics and design by Andre Perez