Sunday, November 28, 2010
Spaces are only as safe as we make them, and this week we're asking all Genderqueer Chicago regulars to come together in that effort.
We're holding a special safe space meeting to talk about what makes GqC meetings feel safe or unsafe, what we can do to support each other in the space, and what are our commitments to one another in the larger world outside.
Please, join us for this very important group discussion!
The Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)
7pm sharp! - 8:15
This meeting is open, but newcomers might find next week's meeting at Access Living to be a better introduction (you're welcome regardless). GqC meetings are never open to researchers or reporters in their professional capacity.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
2006 September—I come to college and the queers gravitate towards me. I am very adamantly not a lesbian, but I like that they are friendly to me, so I go to their meetings.
2007 September—I start reading about identity politics and cultural criticism. I’m more interested in race and nationalism than gender.
2008 March—My good friend says to me “I know last time I checked in with you about this, you said no, but has anything change with your gender and how you identify?” and I say, “I guess so.”
2008 May—My girlfriend calls me genderqueer, and I am shocked.
2008 June—I start going to trans meetings for research purposes and get involved with trans organizing as an ally.
2008 July—I start binding (way too tightly).
2008 September—I move and donate all my girl clothes (which I hadn’t worn for years anyway) and all of the excessively baggy clothes I’ve been hiding in for years.
2008 October—I start trying out names with my girlfriend in private.
2008 November—I turn in term papers with a new name and change my Facebook name. I don’t ID as trans or request different pronouns. I am uncomfortable when people ask me about it, and most people avoid the topic entirely.
2008 January—I become outspoken about trans issues on my campus. Some people assume I’m trans, and some people are thoroughly clueless.
2009 May—I legally changed my name.
2009 May—I attend the Bash Back convergence. It’s liberating, mind-blowing, and also upsetting. I use neutral pronouns for the first time.
2008 May—Someone calls me a trans guy and I’m wierded out-I don’t want to change my body.
2009 June-August—I work in the activist community and intern with an LGBT organization. I am out but do not pass. The activists are welcoming and affirming, the LGBT organization is not.
2009 July—I come out to my family of origin. The results are very mixed.
2010 September—I start seeing a therapist so I can get a letter to go on hormones.
2010- October—I present workshops at neighboring colleges but am afraid of being outed at work where kids ask me uncomfortable questions and I try not to go to the bathroom.
2010-December—I graduate from college.
2010-January—I get the letter & begin T.
2010-February—I begin attending GQC meetings regularly. I feel at home and recognized in a way I’ve never felt before.
2010-June—I began first “adult” job. It’s the 1st environment where I pass.
2010- June—My voice cracks and it is embarrassing.
2010 July—My mother makes efforts to respect my new identity.
2010- August—My voice has lowered and I am satisfied with my body. I let myself act more femmy. I cut my hormone dose in half so that I can maintain but not continue to masculinize.
2010- September—I bind less frequently (a couple times a week) because I hate not being able to breathe, and I feel more comfortable about my body than I used to. I get more into feminism and gender activism.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Join us for our Thankful Family Dinner
The Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)
We'll share stories, food, and thanks. This is potluck, so if you can bring something do. If not, that's okay, too! Come regardless. Bring your friend or your love or well, bring who you want.
This event will be held at the Gerber/Hart Library. For food questions, e-mail email@example.com.
Dinner is held in a space that is CTA/ wheelchair accessible.
To me, consent is getting and giving permission to do something that may make anyone uncomfortable or a way to offer help that may or may not be needed. Consent can be given for a range of activities, such as holding the door for someone to hugging to getting intimate. A lot of people don't realize how big of a deal consent can be, or rather, how big of a deal crossing a consent boundary can be. They also don't realize how easily it could be prevented in the first place.
The key thing about consent is communication. This not only means verbally talking about it, but being able to read body language and even noticing the differences in people's tone of voice when they speak. I know this sounds fairly intense, but anyone can do it. Remember: where there's a will, there's a way. Talking about consent can be a bit intimidating in any situation, more so in an intimate one, but it's to better improve the time and activities shared for all involved. Trust me, it pays off!
Think of a time when someone did something that made you think, 'Did they really just do that? Couldn't they have asked if it would be okay to do that?' How did it make you feel? Did it ruin the rest of the time you shared with that person afterward? Most importantly, did you tell them how it made you feel? A lot of people don't realize that they should say something when a boundary of theirs has been crossed. This is also where communication comes into play, especially in a more involved relationship, such as a one with a best friend or lover. It may be scary to stand up for yourself and say, "Hey, I really didn't appreciate when you did this without asking," or, "You know, I really wish that you had talked to me before you did this," but unless you actually tell them, they'll never know and may continue to cross boundaries. Some people are afraid that saying, "No," or refusing a proposal of any sort might cause problems with the relationship they have with the other parties involved. But what's more important? Keeping quiet and uncomfortable to save the relationship, or standing up for yourself even if it means losing the relationship? I'm hoping that all reading this chose the latter.
So that touches base a bit more with familiar people, but what about consent with people you hardly know or don't know at all? It still works the same! Sure it might come off as awkward (and potentially pretentious) to let someone new know that something they did or said has made you uncomfortable but, again, if you do not inform them that a line has been crossed, they won't know and may continue to do so. It may also seem silly to ask, "Can I give you a hug?" but it definitely shows that you respect this new person, and the majority of the time they will really appreciate the gesture. If they don't, then most likely they are either uninformed to the concept of consent, or they choose not to embrace the concept which could lead to problems later on.
During the process of writing this, I was talking to a friend of mine who thought I should mention briefly, in detail, on how consent works with an intimate partner. Specifically, they asked me, "How does asking for consent work with each step? From kissing to touching to, well, you know?" My advice for this is to have a talk with the person that you're becoming involved with first. Discussing personal boundaries you and them have is a good way to start. The zine that was linked before has a great section with multiple ways to initiate such a conversation. My favorite one that I came across there was, "So, I make it a priority to be upfront with people (especially with people who I care about)..." From there you can talk about your own boundaries, and then prompt them for theirs. If they aren't willing to open up right away, it's okay. Some people are highly sensitive when it comes to these kinds of things and they may want to build trust before they can even think about talking of such a topic.
Now, being able to sit down and talk beforehand would be an ideal situation, but sometimes things can move really fast, such as meeting someone on a night out. Don't ever, ever, EVER hesitate to pause the action to talk about boundaries and consent! "I'm really into you, but before we go any further I want to check in about a couple of things..." or, "I really like you, but I have some things I want to discuss before we continue..." are good ways to do so, followed by what you feel comfortable doing at that point in time with them. Then if you plan on continuing to be intimate with them, you can have a more in-depth boundary conversation later.
Keep in mind that while you are in the middle of things, it is perfectly fine for you (or them!) to say if something makes you uncomfortable, or if you really like something. Some people have a safe word system in place where if something makes them uncomfortable, they just say a word (which is predetermined beforehand) and the other person will stop whatever it is that they are doing. You can also use the same type of system if you really like something and would want more of it. Again, it would be a predetermined word discussed beforehand.
Also, there is no problem with asking, "Is this okay/do you like this?" or, "Can I touch you here?" It's better to ask and get a positive answer than to not ask and have crossed a boundary!
And the last rule of thumb that I keep when it comes to consent is to always, always, ALWAYS ask permission before touching someone you are not close to (and even at times with people you are close to)! Failing to do so can cause issues and potentially drama. On the flip side, don't ever, ever, EVER hesitate to let someone know if they have made you uncomfortable by touching you, or even by the things they may say! Everyone has the right to exist comfortably in any space.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
It's TDoR again. Can't we skip it this year? Can't we have 1 year without murdered trans people? Knowing as many trans people as I do, and being trans myself, it's hard not to think selfishly and be grateful that it wasn't someone I'm close to. But in reality, these were all someone's family. These were children, siblings, parents, spouses, and friends. We need need to stand together today, but not just today. We need to make this our yearly day of resolutions. Today starts a new year, a new list. This year let's stand arm in arm and make sure no more lives are lost to ignorance and fear.
We fight this ignorance in strangers, and sometimes our own family and friends every day, but we need to extend our arms beyond our own borders. This year there were 91 murders in Brazil, six times more than any other country. Our efforts need to go, not only to whom we share blood and break bread with, but all the people that share our journey to be accepted as themselves. We should all endeavor to be remembered this year, not as an extinguished candle, but as a glowing beacon of solidarity and hope. Let this year be the year we pull together and protect our own, no matter where they call home.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
My soul has been imprinted with the fluidity of Gods humor
No longer am I lost in the serum of manhood or the subject of an assumer
I never had high hopes of you seeing me as a man
I never claimed to be the patriarchal misogyny that sits on the tip of most dicks
I never said I wanted to be a man, don’t make that assumption
I am a masculine being. I am feminine by nature.
I don’t care for your pronouns for I am neither and both
My vaginal shaft ends at the base of my cock
My breast are perked with muscle
My voice is thick with happiness and shame
Everyone expects an explanation of my existence
Fuck you it won’t entertain
I cannot answer your questions coated in hate disguised by curiosity
I wonder if androgyny still holds beauty when it does not falter when my clothes are at my ankles
Yes I fall under your social umbrella that puts me in a box of trannies with no angles
My sex is intersex, my gender is queer
Like every other gay my rainbow is not on your spectrum
I am gender, its me motherfucker… everything and nothing.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
(Please note: this is not a GqC sponsored group)
Monday, November 15, 2010
To complement the upcoming vigils for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we want to honor those we've lost and bring hope to the living through intergenerational mentorship and solidarity.
Come to the mixer and get to know folks of all ages and genders.
This Friday, Nov. 19
at Kitchen Sink Cafe -1107 W. Berwyn (Red Line Berwyn)
Event is free and all ages. The space is wheelchair accessible and has gender-neutral restrooms.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
As promised, click here for a pdf of the Learning Good Consent zine, a collection of essays and words of wisdom that look at the culture of consent from a standpoint that is educational, fun, and sexy! Print it out, pass it out, and practice good consent!
Friday, November 12, 2010
To simplify, we're providing this list of events. Don't worry, all of this is also in the calendar, and our own events will be posted soon with longer descriptions. This list is just for your convenience.
Wednesday: Genderqueer Chicago safe space meeting. 7pm sharp at The Gerber/Hart Library (1127 W. Granville). This week's topic... "Bravery."
Thursday: The Night of Fallen Stars. This annual TDOR event hosted by Center on Halsted showcases the talents of gender-variant youth in a variety show performance. Local transgender organizations will be tabling at 6:30pm. Come and meet other folks who are doing great work and hang out with GqC (we'll have a table).
Friday: The Genderqueer Chicago Inter-generational Queer Mixer! In honor of TDOR, we're asking youth, elders, and all in between to come together for an evening of coffee and conversation. Event starts at 5:30pm at Kitchen Sink Cafe (1107 W. Berwyn).
Saturday: Transgender Day of Remembrance public vigil. Starting at 5pm at the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph), we'll be honoring those lost this year at a candlelit vigil. This event is sponsored by the Chicago Transgender Coalition.
All events are open to people of all identities and are in spaces that are wheelchair accessible. Stay tuned for further information...
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The Last Summer of La Boyita (El Último Verano de la Boyita)
Julia Solomonoff (Argentina, 2009, 93 minutes)
In Spanish, with English subtitles
Friday, November 12, 2010
A rare narrative with an intersexed protagonist, Last Summer of La Boyita is one of Reeling’s most anticipated films. This lush Argentinean film tells the story of Jorgelina, the young, beautiful and curious daughter of a wealthy Argentine doctor. On the path from childhood to adolescence, and on her quest for a companion, she meets Mario—a young, hard working farm boy on her family’s ranch. As Jorgelina and Mario spend their summer bonding, she discovers that Mario is not quite like the other boys...or the other girls. Fearing the shame it would bring upon himself and his family, Mario has kept this secret hidden from almost everyone he knows. With the help of his new friend, and her physician father, Jorgelina gets Mario the medical attention that could change his life.
Set in the charming and raw countryside of Argentina, the tweens depend on each other to learn valuable lessons in friendship, acceptance and lost innocence.
Full Description and trailer of The Last Summer of La Boyita: http://reelingfilmfestival
Co-presented by Mint Male Magazine
Other Nature (Tritiya Prakriti), Also Showing "Nobody Passes Perfectly"
Nani Sahra Walker (Nepal, 2009, 57 min.)
In Nepali, with English subtitles
Nobody Passes Perfectly
Saskia Bisp (Denmark, 2009, 44 min.)
In Danish, with English subtitles
Friday, November 12, 2010
In the documentary Other Nature, two transgender friends journey to Muktinath—a holy temple where both Hindus and Buddhists pay homage—to pray for peace and human acceptance. The pilgrimage proves to be precarious with constant threats of landslides, flooded roads and Maoist violence. Often having to build their own roads as they drive, the audience sees their physical journey reflect the nature of the political and emotional struggle for equal rights. Shot in HD, Other Nature is a striking film with lush Himalayan landscapes, cascading rivers, crowded open-air markets, and ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Nobody Passes Perfectly is a subtle, humorous and insightful documentary about growing and changing. Through a series of beautiful filmic tableaus, film director Saskia Bisp explores a world where gender is not a fixed and locked identity, but one only rooted in biology and a very personal part of oneself that can be challenged or changed. Following Tomka and Erik, both in different phases of their transitions, the film explores their joys, fears, and the basic personal truths that carry them through this step in their lives.
Two of the festivals most visually striking documentaries, both films explore the true nature of gender.
Our Gender Identities—short film program
Total: 83 min.
Film Row Cinema – Columbia College Chicago
Saturday, November 13, 2010
In a world where bathroom doors only acknowledge a dual gender system, what about those that don’t conform to the binary? The characters in these short docs and narratives all break imposed gender boundaries, giving hope for a future where lines of sex and gender are recognized to be as fluid as they truly are.
Spiral Transition (Ewan Duarte, USA, 2010):
A mother’s perspective changes as she learns to accept her child as her son, not her daughter.
The Crossing (François Tessier, France, 2009):
Every day, a young woman boards a river cruise boat to gaze at the gruff captain; and when she learns that he’s leaving, it becomes urgent that she expresses her feelings.
Everyday to Stay (Chase Ryan Joynt, Canada, 2010):
A gritty and vulnerable glimpse into the lives of two couples as they navigate love, identity and commitment through one partner’s gender transition.
Remember Me in Red (Hector Ceballos, USA, 2010):
When a transwoman dies, her friends must figure out how to honor her when she is buried as a man by the parents who never knew about her transition.
I’m Just Anneke (Jonathan Skurnik, Canada, 2010):
Parents learn how to support their young child as she develops her gender identity, and accept her freedom to identify herself in any way she sees fit.
Amateur (Daniel Treviño, USA, 2009):
While floating on a lake, a boy meets a girl going through some changes. He must decide if the new friendship is worth the confusing circumstances.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Without categories the world would be a much more confusing place. Categories help us understand the world around us, such as plants and animals. If you know that the Red Fox is in the genus “vulpes”, then you know that it will share similar characteristics with all other foxes in that genus. Categories give us a place to start when looking for something in particular. Maybe you don’t remember the title of that movie, but know that it’s an action movie. So, if you’re looking for that movie on Netflix it would be a very good idea to start in the “action” category. I am very good at creating categories for photographs and putting photos into the categories that they belong; without categories I wouldn’t have a job. In a nutshell, categories help us understand.
When it comes to categorizing groups of people things get tricky. Often, people don’t agree with the category they were put into and sometimes they don’t think the person doing the grouping has a right to do so at all. Categorizing people often makes certain groups feel marginalized, misunderstood, and subjected. Transfolk in particular often feel that we are being put into the wrong groups. The classification of our gender choices as a mental disorder is of the utmost of our problems. We also have to deal with being called lesbians when we are really men, being called gay men when we are actually women, and being labeled as transvestites and cross-dressers. After we get labeled as “transgendered” then there are more problems: are we still transgendered after the transition is complete, are we now labeled as MtF or FtM when we are women and men like everyone else? And of course, there is the problem of “having” to be one gender or the other: what if you are neither, or both, or something different altogether?
We have to understand that sociologists, anthropologist, doctors, psychiatrists, and everyday people are just trying to understand us. If something has no tangible definition, no generally accepted consensus of what it is, then how can you work with it in any capacity? I think that when meeting someone new, most people notice if they are male or female and from that that basic starting point begin to construct a person. Without that fundamental category, where do you begin?
I will not categorize myself because I already know all about me; I have nothing to gain from a category. However, I understand if other people categorize me when trying to understand who I am (and what my gender is). But if they mistakenly put me in a category that fundamentally misrepresents who I am, then I will correct them. And if need be, I will educate them.
So many times transfolk seem to get angry at having to explain what “transgendered” is/means. It’s true, it may be easier to let people remain ignorant and avoid a potentially lengthy conversation, but what have you accomplished? Had you educated them, there would be one less person in the world that would ask you that question. Had you educated them, there would be one less person in the world that would ask me. Had you educated them, you would have made them see things in more than just pink and blue. If you have the opportunity to educate someone and refuse, you have no right complain about the ignorance people have towards being transgendered. And I don’t mean educate people every day, or do it when it puts your body in harm- just do it once when you don’t want to. Just do it once when it will be awkward. Just do it once when it won’t be easy. Just do it once when it seems like a lost cause.
If we don’t speak up for ourselves- let people know what we are all about- then we will continually be put into categories we don’t agree with. Don’t hate on labels and categories just because you don’t agree with them, that’s too easy! Fight to change them into something you can agree with, something I can agree with, and something transfolk everywhere can agree with. And of course, fight so that we can find action movies in the action section!
Dating is awkward enough. But throw in difficult conversations about gender and identity into dating, and you never what you're going to get.
Join us for a discussion of all that is wonderful, weird, and usually, a little bit scary.
ACCESS LIVING Conference Room
115 W. Chicago Ave.
Wednesday, Nov. 10
Meetings are welcoming and inclusive of people of all identities. Researchers and reporters are forbidden from attending in their professional capacities but may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
It's rare (actually unheard of) that GqC advertises the fundraising efforts of any major organization, but Howard Brown will cease to operate in 50 days if we don't save it.
CEO, Jamal M. Edwards, issued this urgent request for financial assistance from the community. If Howard Brown cannot raise $500,000 by the end of the year, it will likely close its doors, shutting many in our community off from life-sustaining services that include...
-Gender-affirming/ accessible primary care
-Comprehensive mental health services
-Youth services through the Broadway Youth Center (drop-in programs, advocacy groups, workshops, food, showers, healthcare, STD testing, career development, laundry).
-More than 20 public health studies
-Community safer-sex outreach
-Unprecedented support for being needing access to hormones
-Vital community programs
... and so much more.
Howard Brown also employs and works with countless LGBT and gender-variant individuals. Let's save the organization that has been saving all of us. You can donate here.
However, what irked me was that the story was only framed in terms of the child being possibly gay not gender-variant. I am not saying the child is gender variant, I don't know and don't want to speculate on that. What I am saying is that gender variance was not spoken of (only that this was a "cross gendered situation") and that discussions of a male body expressing femininity automatically went to the topic of sexual orientation and excluded gender variance from the discussion. Though in defense of the article, gender variant activities (such as painting ones nails) were not see as problematic, which is nice. However I am still critical of the focus on sexual orientation at the expense of gender variant identities.
I think this kind of overall discourse adversely affects both gay and trans/gender-variant bodies. It pigeon holes gay bodies into this narrow conception built upon assumptions of the campy gay and it erases trans/gender-variant bodies completely from the conversation. More to the point, it collapses gender and sexuality into one category and contributes to the popular discourse that trans is just "super gay."
What do others think?
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
At best I feel that the law often fails to protect trans folks and at worst, the most vulnerable members of our community--people of color, homeless folks, sex workers, people who don't pass-- are persecuted by law enforcement officials. In the past week, a couple civil cases (cases where people are suing for money as opposed to jail time) have caught my eye because they highlight trans people using the legal system to try and remedy some of the most egregious mistreatment by officials and others who have power in our lives. The question is: Can we use the law to fight back? Can civil courts be on our side even though criminal courts almost always seem stacked against us?
Transgender driver suing Portland over police stop
Costello & Mains, P.C. Files Transgender Employment and Housing Discrimination Lawsuit
Monday, November 1, 2010
I spent most of tonight’s meeting trying to think about what makes me mad. For the most part, I’m a pretty chill girl and it really takes a lot to get me going. Strange as it may seem, the people that make me the angriest are my friends, but it’s only because I value their friendship and opinions that they can affect me. I don’t get mad if I meet a stranger who says something I really don’t agree with- instead I just decided that they are an ignorant person and simply not worth anymore of my time.
But, while I was riding the el back I did get mad. I got mad at myself. I got mad at myself for not standing up when my values are offended, I got mad at myself for not caring enough about my values; I got mad at myself for not getting mad. And then I realized something that really got me mad: I’m scared of my trans identity. Whenever I’m at the meetings I always have something to say, but I never do. It’s not because you guys are scary or transpeople in general are scary, but because, deep inside, some part of me is still frightened of the trans identity. I always make excuses for why I never speak: I’m afraid I’ll offend someone, I’m afraid what I say won’t make sense, I’m afraid no one will identify with what I say, I’m afraid someone will think I’m ignorant, but I know those aren’t the real reasons. I’m fine talking to non-trans friends about transitioning, talking to therapists about it, and even people I just met! But when it comes to including myself in a community that I identify with, something about that is frightening.
So I thought about how to fix this. And I decided that I need to start by being true to my identity- defend it when its threatened, help it up when its down, and bring it soup when its sick. When the girl in the hallway tells me that she’s not talking to me because I’m a boy and a boy hurt her feelings and boys are stupid, I will politely tell her that I didn’t ask to be born one, don’t want to be one, and don’t consider myself one. The next time I see my therapist I will ask to be called Natalie instead of Nathan. And the next time I am at GQC I will ask to be called she, her, and hers… and I will most definitely speak my mind.
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