Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Homogendered/Heterogendered Orientation

It's problematic that we have such well-established definitions of sex vs. gender (what's between your legs vs what's between your ears) for individual identity, but not to differentiate orientation and attraction. One can have an orientation that contains both heterosexual and yet homogendered (for lack of better term) attraction. Of course people might debate another layer of definitions, but I think there would be a lot of value in articulating orientation and attraction in a way that is more congruent with how we already think of identity.

I understand it's not perfect, but this isn't just for gender studies majors. This is the equivalent of pop-psych--a way for folks to address their own orientations with basic words that can be refined later. It gives another option to the guy who may one day bash a transgender girl because he thinks she's hot and and he doesn't want to be gay. He may not exactly be grad school material, but he needs something better than the vocabulary that is out there.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Passing" is a very important concept for trans people who deal with the outside world. That is because many people out there are Neanderthals, who hunted animals with spears, played with fire, and seldom lived past 35. However, if you have advanced to at least Cro-Magnon status, please don't promote that survival strategy where it is unneeded. If you have evolved to where you believe you can see beauty wherever it might be found, then make an effort to see it in trans people regardless of whether they pass or not. It is not such a difficult thing to do, and it is such a welcome and refreshing place to be thought of as beautiful or desirable regardless of this whole concept of passing.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Thoughts on the Lambda Awards

I love the idea of the Lambdas. I also love the open bar, the yummy munchies, and the chance to meet so many literary heroes. I like being one of the cool kids--such a weird feeling for a terminal outsider. I love seeing how beautiful my friends look. I love how thrilled we are to win or be nominated--actually there's not much to dislike about everything the Lambda Awards stand for.

However, after attending for the first time, I realized how much it does not stand for, at least for now. It's SO darned old guard white gaylesbian. Where a white gay man can say his generation "invented" transpeople as a joke, and people think it's funny. Where Cherrie Moraga's speech did not energize or validate me, but made me feel the weariness of the load we carry as women of color. I am sorry, sister, but for once, I wanted to be the one sitting down while others got up to applaud. Where it was so clear that we have grown so diverse that no one organization can fully describe (or even perceive) our brilliance.

So I will continue to write and work and promote and write some more. I hope the other festivals and conferences and readings grow, not through established groups like Lambda, but around them, above them, in the spaces between them, to form new organizations and networks, to build stronger voices. I'm proud to have been part of this year's Lambda Awards, but I am even more dedicated to get our brightest voices to that queer kid still afraid of the dark. We have so much work to do.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    The fun part about having almost four decades in the martial arts is having the perspective and know-how to actually codify a school. It's scary as heck, since you are by definition a sort of heretic, but there is also this feeling of continuity, because martial arts have been growing and shifting to meet the needs of its students since forever. Back when I was a young black belt, there was no way I could have predicted I would ever be anything other than a traditionalist. My coaches always called my judo "textbook." In fact, my throws were filmed a few times for educational judo videos. Still, there is no room for me within the traditions I learned. There is no place for a trans female judo player in the existing culture--you can legislate rules, but I know all about what can happen between the lines and behind the scenes.
    So I'm going forward. If pursuing martial arts is difficult for me, an ex-national champion and university coach, it must be darned near impossible for a beginner, a queer youth who wants to learn to be strong and fight, but has no guide. So, instead of looking to the people who rejected me, I will dedicate my future teaching and training to those in front of me, who I can help, not in spite of who I am, but exactly because of it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In a way, it was good that I severely injured my knee. I never had to worry about pursuing competition career in judo. I was a national champion, was offered a judo scholarship in Japan, and an invitation to train at Colorado Springs. But watching the ugliness leveled against transgender athletes makes me want to vomit. I don't know how "fair" it would be for me to compete against cisgender women--that is not my point.

What bothers me is the hatred. The debasement. I know from experience that high-level competition is very intense. People trash talk, use every advantage they can get. I dished out at least as much as I gave, I am sorry to say. But this is different--this is personal. I remember the crap leveled at Ednanci Silva... OMG... And I look at Fallon Fox right now in MMA, and wish her well. She has two good knees, she's competing, and trailblazing for all of us. But it can't be easy.

For now, my competitive career is over. Do I miss it? Of course! OMG, of course! I can point to my knee, at least, and not my gender, but would I have fought harder in rehab if I knew I had a future?


Friday, February 8, 2013

On Grossness and Reason

I would ask that you be careful not to base your reasoning on appearance, or something "just not being right." As women, or people of color, or queers, we know the kind of ignorance that sort of thinking brings.

Yet, I have seen people do the same thing to support what they think might be more enlightened causes. They look at pictures, of gun shows, or meat packing, or oil drilling and go "Ewww! That's not right!" and usually feel some sort of affirmation--that their gut instinct is somehow correct.


Prejudice in a red state or a blue state is still prejudice. Knee jerk reactions to provocative photos promote oppression and cultural bullying whether the subject is two men kissing, or a processing plant making luncheon meat. It dehumanizes the opposition and reduces it to an object to ridicule and disgust. Surely, we can do better than this.

There is no such thing as justifiable ignorance. Research and support your claims. Present them respectfully, and honestly consider other viewpoints. Engage in reasoned debate. If your viewpoint is tenable, great--you've maybe taught your world something useful. If not, then you've learned something about your world--which is even better. More likely it's a mixture of the two, and, in any case, you are stronger and wiser for the experience.

People are often surprised when they find out that while so many athletes and intellectuals and lawmakers have hewn careers out of being fiercely competitive, they often feel respect, admiration, and even love for their opposition when the issue or the game or the case or the bout has concluded. This is because worthy opposition helps us all be our best. It cleans up our game; it forces us to adapt and grow. This is one of the true gifts of debate, one of the true gifts of being reasonable human beings, and one that is completely lost if we simply mock our opposition and go "Ew! Gross!"

And perhaps we might even agree one day. We might find ourselves on the same side against a common foe, or we might simply be at peace. What then? I would rather bask in the gifts and strengths and common history we have shared instead of feeling ignorant and ashamed for all those stupid things I said, the hurt I caused, and the time we wasted to insecurity, prejudice, and ignorance.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: 'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.' What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black... Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world." 
                                                              --Robert Kennedy, upon hearing of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.