Friday, April 29, 2011

Toilet Troubles? Send us your bathroom stories!

In working on the T-Friendly bathroom initiative, we have learned that most people are shocked to find out that gender-variant people have trouble in bathrooms.

But we know this happens every day.

With recent news events drawing attention to this problem, we want you to tell us:
-What problems have you had?
-Did folks apologize or correct the issue?
-Do you want to tell us about a positive experience you've had?

Send us your stories about bathrooms! We'll post them here.

Email: (please include a title and a publishing name).

Potty Talk: Looks Like Bathrooms Haven't Been So T-Friendly This Month...

A transwoman was "banned for life" from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas this week after using the women's restroom. Security guards issued her a trespass warning and explained that "if she ever stepped into the hotel again, she would be immediately arrested."

You can read the hotel's apology here.

Sure, it's nice that somebody said "sorry," but after the recent attack of another transwoman in a McDonald's bathroom in Baltimore, I'm beginning to notice an unfortunate trend.

Want to work towards keeping bathrooms safe for gender-nonconforming folks in Chicago? Check out the T-Friendly Bathroom Initiative.


Thursday, April 28, 2011


by the Butch Child

It had been a decidedly civil lunch with the Uncle, covering topics of school as well as jobs and apartments, glossing over the shaving that had occurred on the Butch Child's head but not on their legs, avoiding glancing at the large watch and low shorts, careful not to mention the lack of boyfriend.The Uncle's Female counterpart was beyond civil and genuinely cheered to see the Butch Child. She was always the Uncle's buffer and the ever accepting bridge between his tightly closed eyes and the offending relatives' alternative lifestyle. The offending Butch Child had recently become determined to never let people dictate their life again. Under these new morals, they defiantly wore their baggy shorts and confining binders despite requests for a more appropriate outfit, make up to frame their now angular shaven head, and a set of earrings in their ears that were less punk and more sweet. Instead they wore the clothes they wore every day. Kept their cropped hair undefined by offending powders and liquid liners and let the three swinging zippers in their ears remain. Perhaps they were asking for a scolding by dressing this way, but at this point they was done being accommodating.

Throughout childhood they had had a close relationship with these relatives but then puberty came along and the Uncle no longer knew how to relate to a full grown woman and chose a new favorite boy child on the other side of the family. As the puberty continued the Butch Child (who for a short time now would be a Woman Child) learned just how short the Uncle's depth of field was and little he approved off. The Child saw the Uncle ignore his own sister for years due to first her sexuality, then her lover, and finally her child, who he never acknowledged. Constantly the Aunt acted the buffer. Soon it was time for the Butch/Boy(Woman) Child to move on to college. At first the Uncle was proud but then he began to suspect. The Boy child transformed into a Butch child and the uncle talked to them less and less and soon they began to be ignored just like the other alternative relatives. This lunch was the first forced encounter in six months and the conversation clunked across the table like building blocks each thunking into place in the correct order as was expected by society. Finally the meal was ended and the Child dropped off at the residence.

The Aunt gave a genuine hug goodbye and then the Butch Child turned to the Uncle and received a hug. A grasp trying to find the small child that had once followed his every word. The Butch Child squinted into the sun and calculated the aged face that was now barely recognizable from the young man that was once their friend. The creased face now resembled that of the Grandfather but it lacked the wisdom behind the Grandfathers eyes and there was no unconditional kindness behind the sheltered gaze. The Uncles eyes squinted back and through the reflection of the thick glasses the Butch Child could see themself, shaved head, zippers, squared shoulders, defiant and strong, baring a face that had grown to be angular and chiseled and lost its babylike qualities. In the reflection there was no foreseeable connection between this Butch Child and the small Girl Child the Uncle had approved of. The Uncle's hand that always thundered with strength lightly slapped the Butch Child's cheek several times as he said, "Don't forget the family. Try to remember and live by the things I tried to teach you when you were little." The Butch Child's heart rumbled with anger. They were not in the wrong, and had not forgotten the face of their father. The rest of the family did not take the Child's appearance for family abandon and had not given up on the Child yet. Instead the Uncle was trying to forget the Butch Child and wipe their memory from existence. The Butch Child held no fear of this man anymore they were determined to live their life with or without the approval of others. And so the Butch Child walked away from the man who had shaped their childhood and climbed the stairs to the Residence leaving those who no longer mattered behind.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Privilege inside: a safer space discussion

Privilege is not something that only exists outside any group. Privilege can also be replicated inside any group. Issues, such as sexism, racism, classism can be replicated inside the same groups which are so often marginalized in those ways. Trans people are no more immune to reproducing sexist or gender essentialist ideas then the rest of society, racist attitudes can exist among various communities, domestic violence is not just a heterosexual problem but impacts us all, and so on. After all, we are part of the same social context in which we live, as messed up as it may be. Ignoring these problems leaves them un-addressed and fosters assumptions that these issues cannot be a problem within our own communities.

Join us for a safer-space discussion on these issues of privilege in your communities.

Wednesday, April 27th
7-8:15pm (we start and end on time)
Access Living- 115 W. Chicago

Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and all folks interested in talking about gender are welcome. Researchers and reporters are forbidden from attending in their professional capacities but can e-mail organizers at

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Send Us Your Stories About: ALLIES

Got something to say about allies? Tell us about a moment when you have been an ally or when someone else has been an ally to you and we'll feature your story on our blog! Send your story with a preferred name and title to

Submission deadline: Sunday, May 1st

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Genderqueer Take on the J. Crew Toenail Controversy

As visibly transgender people, it seemed that all last week we couldn’t go to work, check Facebook, call a friend, buy a cup of coffee, or even get a haircut without hearing about the J. Crew ad featuring a company executive’s young son wearing pink toenail polish.

As a masculine-presenting genderqueer person who happened to be wearing pink nail polish at the time, Scott was approached by dozens of cisgender people who sought to engage hir in shared recreational outrage about how ridiculous the Fox News coverage was – imagine! Setting aside money for the kid’s future therapy fund! - and thus to reify their status as good liberal allies. In class, on the day when discussion was supposed to turn toward an interrogation of the violence of the gender binary from a transgender point of view, Hyacinth’s students spoke glowingly of Jon Stewart’s “Toemagedon” segment on the Daily Show, evidently expecting to have their androgyne teaching assistant validate their credentials as enlightened and free-thinking trans allies.

Upon closer examination, however, Stewart’s “sympathetic” perspective turns out to be that cisgender society can relax, secure in the knowledge that traditional virility is far too powerful to be effectively threatened or undermined by a little girl stuff. The supposedly progressive stance, accepted without question by the rest of the mainstream media and by many trans allies, is framed as “This is nothing to worry about. Pink toenails on a boy? Your kid can still grow up to be straight and cisgender! Ha ha, look at those wacky conservatives overreacting again!” Thus, the entire “debate” has been defined as whether gender diversity and flexibility should be tolerated, or must be stamped out completely. There seems to be no inkling that gender diversity could be a genuine social good—the notion that gender-nonconformity ought to be affirmed and celebrated apparently remains unthinkable.

At the time of this writing, not one transgender-identified person has been included in the mainstream media conversation. Neither have any parents of gender-variant children, who could speak volumes about the challenges of raising such a child in a homophobic and transphobic society. Thus, the conversation remains entirely focused on cis people’s thoughts, concerns, and feelings about the people who are subject to their institutional domination.

By our genderqueer lights, this whole media episode shows the dire ethical and conceptual poverty of the establishment conversation around gender. It hardly needs saying that the conservative defenders of compulsory traditional gender roles are fighting on behalf of a cruel and violent system that is dying and deserves to die. But the representatives of the self-styled progressive side in the debate, with their bemused and mealy-mouthed calls for “sanity” and tolerance, fall far short of articulating a genuinely liberatory vision of gender’s future.

On the contrary, these gender liberals seem to take it for granted that masculinity should and will survive more or less unchanged, whether mothers permit their (presumed) sons to wear pink or not; that gender-nonconformity is at best a harmless exception, a tolerable deviation from a cisgender standard that remains above reproach and critique; and that it is fully right and proper for public discussions about gender variance to exclude all those who lead gender-variant lives.

Framing gender progressivism in terms of toleration also gives cisgender allies a pass not to examine their own transphobic or cisnormative behaviors or beliefs, and provides them with a neatly media-constructed enemy upon which to project “We’re not like those ignorant bullies over there!” Hence, a cis ally who laughs at the silliness of the Fox News hysteria, and refrains from passing judgment on their kids’ toys, hobbies, or accessories, is actively deciding not to ask themselves whether they could be a participant in the oppression of trans and gender-variant people. Instead, they choose to pretend that our oppression is not a problem in their progressive, enlightened, tolerant household, nuclear family, or neighborhood.

We’ve seen the inevitable aftereffects in our shared efforts to ask local businesses to sign a pledge – just a pledge! – stating that they won’t harass patrons based on their gender identities or presentations for using the bathrooms (a practice that is actually illegal in our state, yet rampant). “That really happens?” some cry. “Here? On Chicago’s North Side? In a neighborhood with rainbow flags draped over every fifth porch?” Meanwhile, in 38 of 50 states an employer can fire a person for being trans with impunity, trans people are 17 times more likely to be murdered than the cisgender general population, and the coercive assignment of gender to children at birth is still a cherished way of life.

It’s time to demand better. We need to hear transgender voices and authentically transphilic—not merely tolerant—cisgender voices. We need allies who appreciate that standing for gender diversity is going to take hard work, self-scrutiny, and sacrifice. And we need to summon the courage and the moral will to think critically about the values and vices of traditional masculinity and femininity themselves.

Hyacinth J. Piel is a teaching assistant and graduate student in philosophy. Katherine Scott Nelson is a writer. They live in Chicago.

Genderfabulous Tumblr blogs!

Hello Internet!

There is a new tumblr blog up called MTFButches to celebrate "all butch, futch, butch-femme switches, grrls, genderqueer, genderfluid and other likewise MTF spectrum folk out there!"

From the front page:
This tumblr was inspired by the existence of other amazing tumblrs such as Fuck Yeah Cute Trans Chicks, Fuck Yeah FTMs, Femme FTM, as well as others. This page is meant to provide an additional empowering space for the multitude of trans* gender expressions.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

California Gets Behind HomoHistory

The California Senate passed a bill adding GLBT history to topics reviewed in social studies classes in schools throughout the state. Starting in the 2013-14 school year, the bill will prohibit districts and the California Board of Education from using textbooks or materials that "reflect adversely" GLBT folks. Check out this Huffington Post article for the details.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not _______ Enough

Even inclusive spaces can feel exclusive. Have there been situations within
the queer or gender variant community where you didn't feel welcome? Have
there been spaces deemed inclusive that didn't feel like a safe space? Have
you ever felt like you weren't "enough" to be part of a community? This
week, we can explore these spaces, the feelings they produce, and the social
results that manifest.

Wednesday, April 20th

Gerber/Hart Library (1107 W. Granville)

Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and all folks interested in talking about gender are welcome. Researchers and reporters are asked not to attend in their professional capacities but can e-mail organizers at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

J. Crew Paints Boy's Toenails: Pundits lose their minds!

In what will be one of the more laughable firestorms created by conservative bloggers this year, J. Crew has found itself at the center of heated controversy over....

Pink nail polish.

The traditionally country-club chic brand released an ad recently that includes a picture of the company's president painting her 5 year-old son's toes pink with a quote that reads:
“Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”
Some have called this "transgender propaganda," setting off a debate by the mainstream over whether or not pink toes encourage kids to be gay or trans (because of course, proving that pink toes can't make you "funny" is really the issue here...). Some bloggers have even "accused" J. Crew of "celebrating transgender children."

I know, what an "accusation," right? How dare we celebrate those cute little gender-benders and all the ways they have yet to be shamed by mainstream images of gender roles and gendered bodies!

Regardless of how ridiculous this debate is, that kid in the ads is so silly adorable.

To see the ad and an awesome response to it, click here!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Board Games TONIGHT

Genderqueer Chicago will be hosting a night of board games TONIGHT!

The Bad Apple (4300 N. Lincoln Ave.)

This event is free, all-ages, and open to the public!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Allies: A Safer Space Discussion

What does it mean to be an ally? Whether it be a question of sexism, racism, classism, abilism, agism, sizism, discrimination based on educational background, etcetra we all experience moments where we wish to be better allies. Keeping in mind our own struggles, how do we examine our own priviledges to recognize our intersecting struggles and become better allies to one another? Wednesday, April 13th 7-8:15pm (we start and end on time) Access Living- 115 W. Chicago Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and all folks interested in talking about gender are welcome. Researchers and reporters are forbidden from attending in their professional capacities but can e-mail organizers at

Gender on the brain? Blog for Genderqueer Chicago!

This blog is made possible by community input and participation.

Are you a writer/ photographer/ artist/ musician/ weirdo who wants an affirming audience? Then, share the wealth!

E-mail to send us your gender-relevant blog posts. Images are accepted. Please include a title for your work and a publishing name. For a full list of our posting policies, see our GqC policies page above.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

5,000-Year-Old Transgender Tomb

While the practice of digging up bodies to study them, is controversial to say the least, this blog features a recent not-so-shocking but still interesting discovery:

A transgender person who lived 5,000 years ago outside of Prague.

Check out the story here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Faggot Who Could Fly

The Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing Presents

The Faggot Who Could Fly

When: April 7, 2011, 12:30 – 2:00 pm

Where: Chicago State University

Breakey Theatre

Douglas Hall 102, 1st floor

What: The Faggot Who Could Fly is a one-act, one transwoman show. The experience of a transwoman of color is illuminated as she speaks about her voyage from being a sexually abused boy to a resilient woman.

Why: Everyone has a story. Everyone just doesn’t have an audience.

Who: For more information contact the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at or 1-773-995-4440. Also check us out at

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Open Topic! A safer space meeting this Wednesday

Come as you are, and with whatever you want to talk about, this Wednesday for an OPEN TOPIC safer space meeting.

(Mummm gender cookies... Now I wanna make some genderqueer cookies!)

Wednesday, April 6th
Gerber/Hart Library (1107 W. Granville)

Genderqueer Chicago is an inclusive community, and all folks interested in talking about gender are welcome. Researchers and reporters are forbidden from attending in their professional capacities but can e-mail organizers at

Website graphics and design by Andre Perez