Sunday, November 29, 2009

TRANSportation TOMORROW!



Date:
Monday, November 30, 2009
Time:
5:30pm - 8:30pm
Location:
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!

Roots of Violence

By Mahina

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

A very QUEER Thanksgiving!

If you've got nowhere to go, or if you just wanna come chill with a big queer family for a bit. This is the opportunity for you to be welcomed to the Genderqueer Chicago family.
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
1153 Lunt
#253
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!
-Peter Noble
of gendequeer chicago

Friday, November 20, 2009

University of Chicago to Host TDOR Events Tonight/ Sunday Vigil in honor of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado

INFORMATION BELOW:

11th International
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!

5:30pm
Vigil at Barlett Quad

6:00pm
filmmaker Jules Rosskam*
shows his film
"Against a Trans Narrative"
&
talk back

5710 S. Woodlawn
Community Lounge

Dinner provided!

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
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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

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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

Let Me Tell You About a Moment, That Moment is Now: Notes on Transgender Day of Remembrance

By: Kate Sosin
Co-Founder

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

Don't Forget: Safe Space Meeting Tomorrow!

Our weekly safe space meeting will be held tomorrow from 7-9PM at the Gerber/Hart (1127 W. Granville). And you should come.

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 genderqueerchicago@gmail.com.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reminder: IGA Day of Remembrance is Tonight

Illinois Gender Advocates will host their Day of Remembrance this evening.

5:00PM at

New Spirit Church at
542 S Scoville Ave.
Oak Park, IL


A candlelight vigil will be followed by a pasta dinner. Recommended donation is $10.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Genderqueer Chicago Expands to the South Side/ Teams up with Affinity!

In an effort to make GqC accessible to more Chicagoans, Genderqueer Chicago will alternate safe space meetings and events between the north and south side of Chicago.

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 genderqueerchicago@gmail.com for press/research inquiries.

Questions? Comments? genderqueerchicago@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NY Times: Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?

This New York Times article explores high school dress codes and gender expression. Warning: As expected, this reporter is not so great about discussing gender identity.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Trans-Cend Story

By J. Gifford

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.

Not Trans Enough: Part II

Join us this Wednesday, November 11, as we continue our discussion on owning trans identity and history!

This Wednesday
7:00PM
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 genderqueerchicago@gmail.com for more information.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I want to Blog! I have an Event!

You ever read the blogs and think: "hey, I could write that?"

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 genderqueerchicago@gmail.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 genderqueerchicago@gmail.com. We'll post events relevant to gender issues in Chicago.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance- It's That Time of Year, Again




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)
7:00pm: Performance

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
Equality Illinois
Howard Brown Health Center
Illinois Gender Advocates

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Judith Butler vs. My Grandmother: Gender Theory At Its Finest

By Malic Moxie

“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

Gender JUST to Hold Art Show/ Fundraiser This Friday



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

Not Trans Enough? A Special Genderqueer Chicago Safe Space Meeting




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)
7:00PM

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Plot Hard to Follow, the Text Obscured

By A. Broad

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.

Website graphics and design by Andre Perez