Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 00's: a big step, but miles to go

gay rights Pictures, Images and Photos

In '99, gay rights were not big news. Middle schoolers and high schoolers were saying "that's gay" to refer to something stupid; GSAs were few and far between. Transgender awareness was unheard of.

gay rights Pictures, Images and Photos

Over the past decade, gay marriage has become a regular headline, The L Word and The Logo Network came into being, transgender awareness has begun budding, GSAs are everywhere, celebrities have been coming out left and right, The Matthew Shepherd Act has finally passed, and churches have divided over gay rights (apparently Jesus wanted people to discriminate). Advances have been made . . . and taken away. Promises have been made . . . and broken. The queer movement has gotten so big that it's actually begun dividing. Many queer people, especially younger generations, are not going to sit down and politely ask for teeny tiny rights anymore: the time has come to demand full equality.

gay rights Pictures, Images and Photos

Illinois, thank goodness, has made it illegal to discriminate in employment on sexual orientation and gender identity. And, come on, it's CHICAGO. Unfortunately, some of my coworkers - who are generally friendly and sociable with me and who are my age - say "that's gay" both at work and online. Online, I've spoken up and my statement has been deleted. And here I thought that being adults in one of the biggest and most diverse cities meant that this part of me wouldn't be an analogy for stupidity anymore.

transgender Pictures, Images and Photos

Obviously, there is a long way to go before full equality and respect. I don't care what political parties and churches people attend, but I can't tolerate being treated as a second-class citizen.

pride Pictures, Images and Photos

May the 2010's be a decade of FULL EQUALITY AND RESPECT

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Needing a father, not a borderline personality

I posted a few months ago about my dad and my gender ( he raised me androgynously until I hit puberty, the masculinities I managed to learn from him, etc.

He's returned to emailing my half-sister. The two emails so far are pleasant, friendly rambles, the most recent of which he asks for the contact information of others - including me. He has my email address, but probably won't use it until this current attempt at manipulation fails.

October '08, he contacted my half-sister that he was dying and, after eight years of no contact, I emailed him that I would forgive him when he dies. I made it clear that I wrote this for MY OWN CLOSURE; he rampaged for a while until he realized that I wasn't going to reply anymore. After writing that email (and learning how to weld. Nothing works out anger like getting metal hot and hitting it with a hammer), I finally was able to reflect on our relationship from a healthy place.

When I came out as a lesbian to my mom, she claimed it was because I didn't have enough male role models. My dad replied to my closure-email, in which I came out as gay to him, that I'm confusing my sexuality with my gender. Well, they both had seeds of truth that neither of them could have foreseen. Now that I'm going through a gender transition, I wish that I had more male role models, particularly a father. The masculinities I learned from him were so valuable and, now that I'm an adult, there are more to learn but I'm cut off from them. I was so angry at him throughout high school and college that I honestly thought that I would never need a father figure. And now I do.

Learning about borderline personality disorder, though, has helped me to see that nothing he says/writes is real: it's all just to cover up his fear.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Goodbye '00's!

Holy crap, the '00's are ending! Ten years ago, I started keeping a diary, I was leaving middle school/starting high school, I left Christianity, I was coming out to myself, I left pop culture, I was in the middle of puberty. 2000 was quite a time to start high school, 2010 is quite a time to begin post-school life XP

Over the past decade:
- I've come out just as queer rights became more outspoken, successful (it's sad that what we're in right now can be called "successful" compared to the past)
- the internet became global, at least one computer with high-speed hookup in every home. Some memes are more well-known than hit tv shows.
- everything is wireless! Landlines are rare amongst my generation...I don't think any of my friends have landlines (or at least I don't have them in my phone)
- most of the decade has been defined by the hatred of Bush
- the first mainstream all-CGI movie, Toy Story, came out in the mid 90's. Now it's a genre unto itself. Excellent design programs (Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop, iMovie, Flash, etc.) are available to everyone now. Combine this with the internet and you have albinoblacksheep
- 9/11 combined with globalization, mistrust of government, and the internet has formed an unprecedented global identity. And then there was the "socialism scare" which occurred just as I became an active socialist.
- geocities and AOL came and went. MySpace came and now it's "ghetto." Now facebook and twitter are the most popular. YouTube has been...everything
- New fears: school shootings, identity theft, the economy, lack of medical insurance, emo, Kanye West

Put these all together and what you have is the ability to access anything from anywhere and to put your creations/expressions anywhere from anything, but you never know when your life will take a turn for the worse. Identity politics galore!

I HIGHLY recommend even just skimming The Rolling Stones' 00 issue. Until I read it, I hadn't been able to articulate the schism between what they call "internet music" and "radio music." Kelly and I had a really interesting conversation about why there is a lot of country music under "radio music" and none under "internet music" - I'll blog about that later. And it wasn't until I saw all the mentions of anti-Bush that I realized how much anti-Bush defined the decade. Now we're entering a new decade with a president whose very existence changes EVERYTHING, but who hasn't kept a lot of his promises. Could this mean that more people will believe that they, too, can succeed, nevertheless solidifying their mistrust of authority?

As the year itself comes to a close, I'm feeling grateful. Grateful that:
- I'm in a much better place (living where I want to live, a great apartment, a kitty, in a great relationship, my own spirituality, a better idea of what I want my relationships of all kinds to be and how to work towards that)
- I went through some painful friend-breakups that, really, needed to happen. I'm now able to realize that, whether friend or family, holding on to the good memories in hope that they will continue is not a good reason to keep a relationship. I appreciate my friends even more now.
- cheese, pastries, olives, mushrooms, pomegranates, artichokes, hummus, peanut butter, bacon and chocolate exist
- sanitation, indoor plumbing, electricity, indoor heating, public transportation, indoor cooking, good music, the internet, comfortable clothing, libraries, books, good movies, the Bill of Rights, U-Haul, thrift stores, records, record players (especially Petunia), VCRs, VHS tapes, Peter Gabriel and elevators exist
- I have a better idea of where I've been and where I am gender-wise, more secure in discovering where I'm going
- my family is AMAZING

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No maiden here

Transgender Pictures, Images and Photos

I had a really hard time falling asleep last night, so I began thinking about my family and who'll get married next. Weddings are HUGE for us - I came out at as a lesbian at a cousin's wedding in '05. I was thinking that I would probably wear a suit to the next and, should I ever be asked to be in the wedding party again (I was a flower girl when I was 8), I may request to be in the groomsmen rather than the bridesmaids. One cousin's best man was a butch dyke, so it wouldn't be new for us.

I'm definitely well on my way to...wherever I'm going. I'd like to take more tangible steps (different wardrobe, lower voice, etc.) but can't afford it. It's good, though, that I'm forced to process more before actually doing anything - especially anything irreversible. Masculinity is definitely getting more comfortable and less foreign.

AAC: UnBinaryBot: Restroom-FTM by ~againstallcheshires on deviantART

Cool sites to check out: <- inaccurate

Al smoking by ~kaelTblock on deviantART

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bloodties =/= Obligations

It was first in high school when I realized that being related to someone doesn't necessarily mean anything. I was dealing with my father's absence and this view worried some peers and instructors, but they understood when what was going on became clear.

As time went by and I went off to college and, now, I graduated, my view shifted slightly. There's a difference between disconnecting from someone who's left and disconnecting from someone who's clinging to you. I don't have to put up with someone who wants me to be miserable, wants me to serve her, and who doesn't take responsibility for her 50% of the relationship. I shouldn't have to be miserable in order to placate her (although I doubt even that would be enough for her).

Being blood-tied with my wonderful family does strengthen our bonds, but it doesn't obligate anyone to do something I don't want to do. I prioritize my family when they respect me; someone who disrespects me can't expect blood-ties to be enough for me to overlook it.

To see my loving family grieve over a departed cousin and then to be told by a senseless relative that she "grieves as though my daughter as died" is too much.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


When I'm in boy drag, I do want to pass. When I'm in girl drag, I don't. Usually, I want to just be seen as an ungendered individual. I fluctuate between androgyny, masculinity, and brief periods of light femininity and go by how I feel each day.

I have very vivid dreams, in which sometimes I'm watching myself - in these, I have no control over what happens - and sometimes I'm myself and I have some control over my words and actions. In some of the dreams in which I'm myself, there is a man who's like the me I watch. He's always a dream person, but not like the ordinary dream people who fulfill a role and then disappear, he helps me fulfill a task or something along those lines.

I don't think that this dream man is someone I'm becoming, I think he's the masculinity I'm finally developing. I still have dreams in which I have long hair and feminine clothes, which I change to fit my current, androgynous self.

I suppose I still have femininities; I giggle, I like decorating for the holidays, I love Disney, etc. I don't do these to be feminine, they just are classified as such. Because masculinity has been out of my grasp for so long, I try on masculinities like I try on shoes: keep the ones that fit you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Since when is personal spirituality a bad thing?

I'm very fortunate to have friends and family who have strong, personal spirituality; we've all come from very different backgrounds - Catholic, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, Neo-Pagan - and come to similar places. There is the fable of the blind monks examining an elephant, each one claiming to have discovered a tree, a hose, a fan, a rock, etc. We're all monks, but have admitted that we are blind and that our interpretations cover only a portion of what there is - indeed, only a portion is really what humans can hope to achieve.

After graduating in May, the only fundamentalist, evangelical, super-conservative religious folk I saw/heard were the ones online and easily shut off. Their utter rejection of science, compassion, acceptance, and secular society disgusts me. Instead I bit my tongue as some atheists wrote/said that people who believe in God/whatever might as well believe in the Tooth Fairy. After all, these people understand that science is necessary and that theocracies are A BAD IDEA so what does it matter that my timid spiritual statements get brushed aside?

And now I have coworkers who believe that, without ever having read it, the Bible is 100% factual. These fundamentalists have as much influence over me as the evangelizing atheists: however much I allow them to influence me. Because we live in a very diverse, secular society, nobody will ever get all that we spiritually want but we will get what we need: the ability to practice in private. Which is as it should be: PRIVATE.

I't just so strange to me that the two extremes who hate each other so much would act so similarly towards someone in the middle...but I'd still take science and secular living over theocratic insanity.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Going to a strict Catholic school is precisely what prevented me from understanding what forgiveness means for many years. Forgiveness, to that parish, was to be given as stingily as possible and with many reminders for years, "I was able to forgive you, so you should do X for me." The concept of forgiveness was associated with Christianity, which I thought was that school, so I rejected the entire concept up until my senior year of high school. Then I has a Jesuit priest as a teacher and he showed me that it is possible to be religious and even a clergyman as well as compassionate, understanding, and open. He and a close friend of mine taught me about forgiveness:

You've probably gotten a wound on your hand or something at some point and had to change the way you did things while it healed. It scabs over eventually and your new patterns become habit. Then you realize, maybe even weeks later, that the wound is completely healed and you can go back to doing what you used to do (which seems foreign, now). There may or may not be a scar, which may or may not fade. That's what forgiveness is and it can take any amount of time or it might never come about at all. It can also be chosen and scheduled like a surgical procedure or physical therapy. And it doesn't come easily and may require an additional healing period.

The final piece these two wise people let me know was that you don't have to actually let the person know you've forgiven z, though it may show through in your behavior if you're still in contact. It's entirely possible to say to someone, "I've forgiven you for what you did, but I still want no contact with you."

There are some people I'll never be able to forgive and some people I won't be able to forgive until they die. There's the whole thing about this time of year being the forgiving season and other such garble...enough holidays have been ruined by these people and now that I'm away from them, I don't want another holiday brought down by thinking about them.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Borderline Personality Disorder

The DSM-IV Criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder:

1) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

2) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

3) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self.

4) Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging.

5) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.

6) Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood

7) Chronic feelings of emptiness.

8) Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger

9) Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

I'm currently reading and the behavior patterns of both of my parents are so much clearer now. An absent father with at least 5 of these symptoms and a dependent mother with all 9. Their internal struggle has been described very well in this book by people with BPD, paraphrase:

"Without my relationship with X, I don't exist. I must keep X with me at all times, but I can't allow X to know how afraid I am. I have to push away X so that X won't reject me. But I have to keep X in order to exist."

It is a terrible cycle of idolizing and devaluing X (usually someone very close to the person with BPD), needing to keep X as well as to push X away, and relying one's identity on X while hiding one's self from X.

What's scary is that I went through that cycle as a child, preteen and teenager. As I fought for independence and grew during my adolescence, the cycle began to break down. When I moved away to college, I actively chose to stop. My physical distance from the sources made me able to separate my identity from the cycle and, thus, break it. Sometimes I still find shreds and they are getting easier to stop. My parents, though, can't separate the cycle from themselves; they have no distance, so they can't break out of it. And because they can't connect their behavior to reality, they don't think that they need help.

Now that I have complete independence, I will no longer put up with angry outbursts and berating claims. I'm responsible for my health and happiness and nobody else's. I can care about others, but that doesn't mean that I'm to blame when they can't take care of themselves.

My dad and I haven't had contact in 9 years; because of the time that has passed, I can better appreciate the good times we had. I'm currently trying to figure out what to do with my mom. I don't think that it would be possible to make a complete cut like with my dad, but I'm now able to leave when she begins an episode. I know that it's healthy to avoid statements such as, "You are unable to love another human being," and not to expect similar reasoning from someone who is motivated by fear.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for (in no particular order):

- my Ballou Mathers


- my gross girlfriend


- my awesome family


- being Scandinavian

Norway Pictures, Images and Photos

- living in Chicago

chicago Pictures, Images and Photos


Swedish bakery Pictures, Images and Photos

- books and libraries

The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector's Edition (Paperback) Pictures, Images and Photos

- The Art Institute

Chicago Art Institute Pictures, Images and Photos

- my friends


- living in a secular society

Secular Pictures, Images and Photos

- being able to live semi-safely (in Chicago, anyway) as openly queer

queer Pictures, Images and Photos

- having a job

call center Pictures, Images and Photos

- my Fluffy-man


- folk music

judy collins Pictures, Images and Photos

- the internet


Monday, November 23, 2009

Being Scandinavian is Badass

My father's family is 100% German. My mother's mother's family is German/Prussian and a little Scottish. My mother's father was English, Norwegian, Irish (supplied by his mother), and Norman. His last name was Tremain, but he added an "e" on the end when he and his father, both named John Tremain, held positions in the treasury of the town Mauston, WI. For many many generations, the direct line has always carried the name John Tremain. My uncle, his eldest son, and his son all have John in their names. The tradition is being passed on, but with more individual input. The Tremains came here in the 1600's and may have, we think, married a Native American woman. We know that we came from a town in Cornwall named Tremain. Here is our family crest, which I want as a tattoo:


Before coming to England, the Tremain line heralded from Norway. Many now-British areas were invaded/founded (depending on who wrote the history) by Scandinavians, so there could be badassery in the bloodlines of many Celtic/British peoples. That was before the Norwegian-Swedish War of 1814 and obviously before Norway became completely independent of Sweden in 1905, so I guess I could somewhat accurately say that I'm...both?? Norwegians and Danes were unified, so I could also be Danish?

Norway Pictures, Images and Photos
Swedish Flag Pictures, Images and Photos
danish flag Pictures, Images and Photos

In any case, Scandinavians are total bamfs. Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, Faroes, Icelanders and Danes are the Samuel L. Jacksons of nationalities.

Scandinavia Avatar Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Beatitudes

I'm currently reading _God is Not Great_ by Christopher Hitchens. It's biased against all theists, but is an accurate historical account of nasty things done in the name of religion. One thing isn't mentioned in the entire 300 pages, the very thing that the majority of Christian organizations ignore, and what Jesus of the book of Matthew taught to the masses: THE BEATITUDES. I suppose Hitchens can be forgiven for excluding them because the very organizations he bemoans tend to forget that they exist as well.

The Beatitudes are only mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew (5:3). Jesus proclaimed them to the masses of Galilee while healing the sick and all that good stuff. According to my copy of the Bible, the "New International Version" originally published in 1973, they are thus:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

When you read these, it makes sense that most Christian organizations ignore that they won't have to follow them. I'm talking about Westboro Baptist Church, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jerry Fallwell, all the Catholic churches that passed out a SECOND collection basket to fund anti-gay marriage commercials, etc.

Obviously, queer people aren't the only mourners, the only people hungry for righteousness and the only ones persecuted. I'd like to say that all queer people are merciful peacemakers who are pure of heart, but that's not the case of any group of people. And we shouldn't have to wait for the pie in the sky when we die. In general, the people who need the Beatitudes the most are those who experience them the least.

Is it really too much to ask for people to actually pay attention to the words allegedly spoken by the person they worship? I don't care what people personally and privately believe and I respect and admire people who practice what they preach (compassion), but it is loathsome to proclaim your faith in something against which you viciously act.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


As you probably know by now, Maine has illegalized same-sex marriage. Every state that has put the issue to a popular vote has failed despite promising polls.

The most recent issue of Chicago's Free Press, one of our LGBTQ newspapers, has an article on this phenomena. They cite the notoriously stupid commercials that claim that, upon legalizing gay marriage, the state will require schools to teach children about gay marriage. Firstly, how is that a bad thing? Gay marriage = gay sex just like how straight marriage = straight sex. Secondly, as long as the students pass standardized tests, the government doesn't give a shit about schools. Thirdly, are people really that naive? The organizations (American Family Insitute, for one) are obviously biased and here I thought it was common knowledge not to believe everything you see on tv. Apparently that rule is suspended when children are allegedly in danger and, apparently, parents are unable to control anything!

Free Press ran a great article on that, but ended by stating that it was fortunate that, in states that have passed domestic partnerships and the like, pro-equality voters won out over rural areas. Alright, it may be true that the rural areas of most states are more conservative than the urban areas. It should not be considered fortunate, though, that "we" beat "them," who usually just aren't exposed to queer people. Education should be the goal, not a battle. A lot of "rural people" will vote for the expansion of rights and the like when they know who they're voting about.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I've been doing a lot of thinking, reading, discussing, journaling, etc. lately. What it all comes down to are a few things:

- as discussed on, one of the most difficult things going on is reconciling a feminine-childhood with a queer-adulthood. This being the case, there has been a definite "womyn-identified-womyn" period in my life.

- that period is over. I might go back to it later in life, but it's not happening now. That does not mean at all that I identify as a man: I definitely don't.

- any labels/categories/etc. feel constricting. "Androgyne," "genderqueer," etc. just don't quite seem to cover what I've got going on. Only the biggest umbrellas of "queer" and "transgender" are big enough to cover me. I used to think that people who claim that they don't like labels were kinda wishy-washy, but now I'm among them. Sorry, guys.

- I feel like I'm not "arrived" yet. I don't know where I'm going, how long I'll stay there, etc. but I know that I'm en route.

Taking in these points, I have the "F" and the "t" and then just a "?". Female-to-? I think that is the most accurate label when I have to use one. I'm not actively transitioning, I'm happy with who I am and change is naturally happening in my life anyway. When I do and what I want are just what I do/want naturally and not toward any specific point.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yelp Account

I finally caved and created a Yelp account: "Joey M." commented this on a local coffeeshop:

"They also have a fairly ridiculous sign about why they deserve to be tipped, along with another sign informing us to not use pronouns to describe people unless we are certain of what they wish to be perceived as. Interestingly enough, the 'regular' coffee is often not hot enough, not fresh, or both. If they would worry about the coffee as much as they worry about making goofy signs, this would be the busiest coffee shop in the Western Hemisphere."

YAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!! Transpeople work at this coffeeshop (although now it's closed and getting new ownership in a month), is it really so difficult to understand?!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Queer Lingo 101

I'm the only queer person in my super-awesome family. My relatives are secure in their sexualities, the men in touch with their feminine sides and the women in touch with their masculine sides, but nobody is out of the closet other than me. Coming out to them was a great experience with plenty of bear-hugs and I'm happily accepted. Parts of family have met two of my girlfriends and readily welcomed them, then comforted me when those relationships ended.

There is a clear distinction, though, between my biological family and my queer family (not just because they don't date each other lol). I get the feeling that some relatives want to ask me questions, but either don't know the language to use, are afraid of offending me, or both. I could never say something like this and have it be understood:

"When my boifriend got back from picking up ze's next dosage of T, ze said that ze's company picnic is coming up. Ze wants me to femme it up and be ze's beard."

My BFF4EVER, straight and cisgendered, has suggested that I teach Queer Lingo 101. Before I came out, some of my family places bets on whether my only other unmarried relative of age or I would get married first*. When I came out, I think that marriage became one of those questions nobody knew how/whether to ask. I don't want to get married but I do want to throw a big party for my family - maybe this class could be it lol!!

* Footnote: there are many unmarried people, especially women, in my family. It's considered entirely optional. And I'm aware that I may think differently of marriage years from now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Men's Space

A lot of things swirl in my head, things related to gender journey. Androgel, binding, packing, pronouns, bathrooms, etc. Things I want to use, things with which I might want to experiment, and things I just can't figure out.

Today I slashed one thing off that list after running uterus-first into it.

I'm bleeding and I really had to pee so I went into some independent coffeeshop on Jackson & Dearborn to use their restroom. And for some hot chocolate. Attempting to make a beeline to the bathrooms from the door, I hit a brick wall of boisterous dick-wagging. All but two of the twentysome customers were masculine, upper-middle class, white, tweed suit-and-tie men between 28 and 55. They were all talking with each other about the stock market, business deals and strategies, sports bets, and the like. Each one of them emphasized their most important points by speaking more loudly; every word uttered, though, was a most important point so only yelling was happening. It didn't seem to matter that nobody could hear anyone but himself.

After the bathroom and getting my hot chocolate, I found a chair in a corner and read _Rubyfruit Jungle_ by Rita Mae Brown. Realizing that I wanted no part of this men's space brought me peace; knowing that I wouldn't be accepted in it anyway only brought me self-pride. As long as a men's space (and there are many different kinds of men's spaces) involves small-dick insecurity, I want no part of it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

I'm really glad that I went to the International Socialist Conference in Rosemont in July before seeing this movie. That's the best way to go into this movie: informed.

The biggest issue around "Capitalism: a Love Story" is that it's a Michael Moore movie; considering a lot of people don't know what capitalism and socialism actually are or why they should care, that may be what keeps the movie afloat in the box office.

Don't get me wrong, it is a very good movie - repetitive and scattered at some points, but poignant and honest - and I'm glad that it exists and that I saw it! Moore knows that there is a stigma around him and he uses that to get attention . . . good for him! Were he to attempt a more pleasant association, he would end up on Hollywood Square. "Capitalism: a Love Story," unlike some of his other films, reminds the viewer of the cold-heartedness of execs and CEOs and Chris Dodd rather than using shock value. And instead of one or two sob stories to pull the heartstrings of the viewer, signs of a growing class movement are shown. That is what really gives this movie its strength, it shows what actually is rather than waving a big, attention-grabbing flag.

When I left the theater, though, I couldn't help but wonder, "Now how much money has Moore made off this movie and what does he do with it?" What defeats his message most is the fact that he isn't among the working class or even the middle class (anymore, he did refer to his childhood with relevance) and makes a ton of money off us watching his films.

I do recommend seeing this movie as a mere part of studying political economics and class warfare.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A better place

Apparently articulating my discomfort with femininity was the last step to removing it. I'm still not really attracted to femininity, but that's more, now, out of genuine preference rather than avoidance. It's still a process to tear down the old/poisonous and restructure the new/healthy. And I'm still exploring masculinity, unsure as to whether it's the novelty of it that's so exciting or previously unknown comfort... has been really helpful.

Tonight, I took a long walk from State/Superior to Broadway/Addison. It was SO GREAT!! I passed a classy Loyola University residence hall in River North. Agape at the atrium and other extravagance, I thought to myself, "This makes my dorm look like a piece of shit." The building also has some designer boutique and super-expensive restaurant. The homeliness of my dorm became much more apparent and I'm sooooooooooooo grateful that we didn't have to share the space with non-campus businesses we couldn't have afforded anyway. Compared to other university/college residence halls, I'm very glad that I was in Austin Hall.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


"For me, the most liberating thing about coming out as a lesbian was that I could do anything I wanted, and didn't have to think about whether people would think I was weird. Because they probably ALREADY were going to think I was weird." - The Girls Next Door by Pamela Robin Brandt & Lindsay Van Gelder

Reading is so incredibly important. Books, newspapers, zines, blogs, etc. To take in information, analyze it, question it, compare it, be inspired by it, and to ENJOY IT!!

I'm eternally grateful to my mom and my half-sister, Leslie, whose combined efforts drove me to love reading. Leslie, an editor, has provided a great supply of diverse, interesting, beautiful books always a step ahead of my age's reading level. My mom read to me every night when I was a kid and frequently took me to the library a few blocks away. I still have most, if not all, of the books Leslie gave me and I still read them! The day before I started kindergarten, I told my mom that I would go to school to learn how to read and write, and then stop; I figured that I could do anything with those skills and the rest would just hold me back.

A lot of people say that they don't like reading because it's difficult for them. Just like everything else, it takes practice. There's no shame in reading several easy books before tackling something epic. And there's no shame in putting down a book for a while or reading it again later. I read Uncle Tom's Cabin for the first time in middle school - something I was able to do only because my mom and Leslie gave me a very early start - and then again in high school.

Everything comes from reading - writing (obviously; you have to read in order to write), language studies, science, etc. And most of all, AWARENESS!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old is Relative

My 24th birthday is in a couple days and sometimes you can catch me saying that I'm turning old. Take this as dry sarcasm . . . for the most part. I'm turning oldER. The things that make me feel old:

1) it's my first birthday after school, living as an independent *gulp* adult

2) Looking back over the past ten years, I've got a good amount of living under my belt. Ten years ago was when I was first struggling for independence, autonomy, individuality.

"Old" is an entirely relative term; I do feel "old" compared to my pre-undergrad life and with the realization that my childhood (dependence, being seen as a burden rather than a person, attachment, unrealistic idealism) is more than ten years ago. And as for being a year closer to senior citizenship - which is still decades away - I offer you this quote from a friend of mine:

Anna: "You're not old."
Her grandmother: "Ninety next year, what do you think?"
Anna: "That doesn't make you old, that makes you awesome."

I've known people who spend their birthdays crying because they're a year closer to senior citizenship/menopause/death. WHO CARES?!?!?! There's nothing you can do to stop it and these events are negative only if you make them so, why cry about it?!?! Instead of thinking that I have a limited time in which to accomplish many things, I figure that I'll do what I'll do and then I won't anymore. Maybe I think/feel this way because I view neither childbearing nor marriage as favorable, thus having no need for a "biological clock." I'm well aware that the main reason why I reject both of these things is that I very recently gained autonomy/independence/individuality and both marriage and parenthood require giving up that. I'll probably think and feel differently years from now.

To end on a lighter note, a list of things I want to do in life. If I live as long and as well as my other female relatives, that gives me around sixty years; a good long time to accomplish these things at my pace and to add more to the list:

- travel the world (wow that's vague)
- more specifically: ALL OF INDIA KASHMIR BANGLADESH, the Celtic/British lands, Scandinavia, Japan, Germany, all 50 states
- artist-in-residence programs in national and state parks
- get my MFA from the School of the Art Institute
- join the ranks of Georgia O'Keefe, Harmony Hammond and Victor Higgins as a Midwestern artist painting the Southwest
- perform in drag
- see Ringo Starr in concert
- be a pimp...again
- have a ridiculous amount of pets
- become a renown/infamous queer activist
- get my artwork into a museum
- learn mechanics
- open a woodworking studio
- take in foster children who are trans/intersex, join a Big Sibling program and/or something along those lines
- live in a swanky Chicago condo, then move to an A-frame in Galena when I retire (which could be anytime) to a self-sustaining lifestyle
- go skiing, fishing, hiking, and swimming as often as possible
- be a more prominent figure in my family
- look like a sweet elderly person to the younger generations of my family, whose parents have to pressure them to spend time with me. When their parents aren't paying attention, I'll tell them some insane story of my youth. While they're gaping in awe, I'll throw them into the pool.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"That's Gay"

Tonight, my significant other and I went to a pool hall. We were the only flaming people, the only visible females, and the only white people playing. The table beside ours was played by three guys who joked around with us a little. All of us mutually shared the space with comofort.

They were loudly laughing and sharing stories with each other. Some words we overheard were, "gay," "fag," and "cunt." My s.o. and I hold hands and exchange pecks in public, so these guys knew that we're dykes. None of them snuck looks at us to judge our reactions or said anything like, "Hey man, that's not cool." I concluded that these were just some cool guys who don't know any better. It mattered more that they were respectful of us as neighbors than that they monitor their word choices, although it's still disappointing that such terms are used in such ways. It's no different than racist or anti-Semitic slurs.

Were we in a situation that would involve more regular contact and actual introductions, I would have talked to them about it. Just a simple, non-threatening, "Hey man, that's not cool." Chances are that nobody had said anything to them about it before!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What a week

In the past couple days, I've had two clichéd encounters:

1) A complete stranger online told me that I need to monitor my behavior because I'm a representative of the entire LGBTQ community. At all times, everywhere, no matter what. And because I wasn't aware of this "fact," this person claimed that I'm the reason why the community "fails" and shouldn't be taken seriously. ...Right.

2) A relative I don't know very well commented that my facebook link to Genderfork was "gay" and, when I was taken aback by that, insinuated that I take the political as personal. There are situations in which the political is personal, but explaining that gender variance is different from gayness is not one of those situations. He also claimed that he knows what he's talking about because he lives in California and attended Blue Man Group performances in Boystown. ...THAT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING!!!

Wtf?? Did someone forget to tell me that the week before Coming Out Day and the National Equality March is Clichéd Heterosexism Week?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wrestling with Femininity

I'm halfway through "Whipping Girl: a Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity" by Julia Serano. It's very good and a good first book on the topic - there should be many more from many different perspectives! Serano includes her own experiences as supportive evidence and provides a good history of transsexuality in Western society. The only downfalls are that she has a strong us-vs.-them mentality regarding cissexual "experts" and often writes as though her opinion is the only correct opinion. If one approaches this book as one view on the topic rather than as the ultimate authority, though, the flaws are mere obstacles. As stated above, it's a great first book on the topic of transwomen experiencing the scapegoating of femininity.

The book, though, has forced me to come face-to-face with my own issues with femininity. I'm not among the dykes who think of femmes as "Uncle Toms;" I admit that I have tended to assume that many femmes fall/walk into the same pitfalls as feminine straight girls: not knowing and/or willing to take care of herself and, instead, using her looks to get someone to take care of her. I've known butches who do the same thing,though... And as for feminine men: I have respect for their crossing of strict gender expression boundaries, but I will avoid those who I know use it to get things out of people (same with masculine people who use their masculinity to swing their dicks all over people).

I'm certain that this disdain of femininity came from my past. There is a Biblical story of Jacob wrestling with some guy in the night, but it turns out to have been God. Disdain of this group of people (which I work to not actually take out on real people) is my wrestle with the compulsory femininity that had been prominent in my life until very recently. I'm under the impression that, once I've erased all my compulsory femininity, I can take on the femininity that actually suits me. This compulsory femininity is tied in with strict Catholicism, classism, heterosexism, etc. A clean slate allows me to release my past and to pick what I actually want.

Because I'm in a better place altogether now and there is a clear distinction between my "past" and "now" (I'm no longer in school, Wisconsin, dependent living, old relationship goals), it's easier to release its hold, at least in this aspect. It's easier to see that the stereotypes of the Earth Mother, Paris Hilton, and Jessica Rabbit are all parts of femininity and that it's ok to pick and choose different parts without the fear of falling into weak dependence. Refusing to wear a skirt because one doesn't want to be taken as femme is no different from choosing to wear a skirt because one doesn't want to be taken as butch/andro. I wore heels the other week for a job interview at Ann Taylor; I wore them because I felt like it. The world didn't end and the pain of walking in them made me sympathize with rather than bemoan people who feel like they must wear them.

Being able to articulate all this has made it less intimidating/controlling/big, which is now easier to leave behind me. I'm more comfortable in androgynous garb and I'm more attracted to androgynous people (which is another blog entry altogether), but that's just who I am and not a rebellion or escape. Don't be surprised if you see me in a skirt sometime! I still feel like dressing masculinely or femininely is drag, but I'm free to do it for me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sexual Repression as Servitude

Many believe that the Third Wave of feminism - the riot grrrl movement of the 90's - ended the anti-porn and anti-sex aspects of the Second Wave. Lesbian feminism was actually very pro-sex, but within very specifically defined and even mandated terms. Despite the changes in feminism and its impact upon society, many women still withhold their sexual desires/energy/etc. This trend is from a multitude of social influences such as Catholicism, virgin/whore status, the use of sex to gain power, and the entire concept of femininity as servitude as ideal. And I can tell you from years of experience, repressing one's own sexual desires in order to please others is even common amongst the lesbian community! It is an all-encompassing social issue for people, especially women, to sacrifice desire in order to please another.

...So much to the point that one's own inner workings become automatic. When several people over a long period of time degrade you for having a higher libido than them, it becomes automatic to turn your own sexual energy into "something productive." You don't even have to think about it because it's just too painful to worry over whether something is actually wrong with you for wanting something. Maybe this is why so many housewives obsess over cleaning and baking . . . It really does suck to put your sexual desire/energy on hold, no matter the reasons and even when nobody is at fault, for so long that it disappears. Even worse once you learn to embrace that energy because it makes you feel/think that you were wrong for doing so.

There is a fine line between declaring what you want and pressuring someone into something ze doesn't want to do. Maybe I'm falling back into socially constructed ideas, but the price isn't worth the pursuit.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Before I begin, I should describe exactly what my high school means to me, why it's so important to me. I was basically raised by a benignly neglectful family, I went to a TERRIBLE Catholic K-8, spent time with my parents only during summer and winter breaks...not necessarily good time. Loyola Academy became my immediate family, I went from spending 9+ hours a day with said benignly neglectful family to 10+ hours a day with awesome people who genuinely cared about me as an individual. Sure, there were buttholes such as the entire math department, but they were so minimal compared to everything else! I even grew to love religious studies and Mr. McGrath, now Fr. McGrath, was the person who convinced me that there are trustworthy, compassionate clergymen. What really made me appreciate Loyola, though, was that my mom tried to take me out of it five times in three years; her idea of discipline was to register me in dangerous, poor schools. That made Loyola even more like family to me.

A lot of changes occurred my senior year and plummeted downhill from there. A shrew basically appointed herself some new position when someone else with a customized position quit (and he quit because she was employed there in the first place) and began spreading homophobic policies. Apparently anyone mentioning anything gay-related would turn the students gay, so she made it a punishable offense.

Mr./Fr. McGrath became a beacon of hope when he was elected the new president of the school. He diffused my anger at religion/clergy, kept a respectful and accepting dialogue, and was just a super-fun teacher! I learned so much in his Theology class about how to form one's own personal spirituality, how one forms hir own relationship with God/Gods/etc., etc. It was wonderful.

AND NOW HE IS PRESIDENT!!!!! I attended his welcoming mass this morning, which was also the centennial mass for the school. It was great and he was ecstatic to see me. His homily preached compassion as the way for everyone at the mass to "weave their histories into Loyola's." Wonderful! Afterward, there were refreshments and a long line of people wanting to talk to him. Alum, parents, etc. and I all made smalltalk about our experiences at Loyola. Then I finally got to chat with him; we laughed about the old inside jokes from our class and were happy for each other both being in good places.

Then I said, "You once commented on how tough I was. I've been harassed, threatened and fired for being openly gay but it wasn't my toughness that got me through all that, it was the compassion that I learned here. The gay students here need that compassion." He asked if I was referring to anything specific and I explained the frankly homophobic policy. He said that he wasn't aware of that policy, but that he would look into it and that he appreciated that I talked to him. And then other people grabbed his attention so he said it was great to see me that he was glad that I came.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Support in Strange Places

I've spent the past two days in training for my new job. It's the equivalent of a DMV position, but it's money with good hours. About thirty people were in my training class, ranging 20 through 50 with the majority in their early 30's. Only four guys were there and one flamer aside from myself, a soft butch who completely ignored me. When we all introduced ourselves to the class, one of the guys immediately said he's a preacher. He looks like he's about 34, overdressed with a pencil-thin mustache and he would not shut up the entire first day. During our lunchbreak, he blathered to me about how he's a liberal preacher who embraces straight and gay because our Lord loves everyone and we should thank him for making us all so different with his Word and everything. Good for you, you're still a windbag. Most of the others adored him because, well, he's a preacher in a roomful of stereotypical southern baptists displaced in Chicago and that gave him license to brag. Today, though, he was much quieter and respectful of everyone.

While the trainer FINALLY showed us the actual computer program we would be using to fill out forms for applicants, I rolled my eyes to myself as the "male/female" dropdown menu appeared. Surprisingly, "Undeclared" was the third option! SWEET!!!! Exasperated smirks and even laughter snaked through my coworkers, though, as they tried to imagine who could possibly be "undeclared." The trainer calmly explained, "Well, sometimes someone who you can't tell will come to you and it would be really rude to ask." It was good that she explained it in this way, but the giggles took a while to die down. I slyly looked around at my peers' faces and I found the preacher, silent, giving me a knowing, sympathetic and supportive look. The one person in the room who read me, how accurately I'll never know, and realized the disrespect of our flabbergasted coworkers.

You never know where support, however silent and momentary, will come from.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama's Speech to Students

I watched President Obama's speech to students across the country on YouTube. He gave a lot of the same messages that everyone gives: work hard, practice, overcome your obstacles, these other people had it much harder than you but they're doctors and community leaders now, etc.

This speech, like his presidency, means a lot more because of his background. Raised by a single mom, without privilege, having to work hard to overcome every obstacle, etc. If Bush had delivered the same speech, it wouldn't have meant anything not only because he was a dumbass, but also because he never had to work for anything in his life.

Of course, the students all looked bored and I'm sure that most of them realized "He's going to say the same thing as every motivational speaker has ever said" right away. I'd like to think that even a few students around the country took his message to heart and worked harder to reach higher goals, just like there are some, mostly minority, children around the country who see now that they, too, can become president.

What did the speech actually DO, though? Nothing. This speech means nothing to students who can't afford notebooks, who sell crack just to support their own children, who are beaten by their parents, etc. They're too busy trying to survive to care what the president says. It's great that some students worked hard enough to overcome their lack of privilege, but some students have only enough to take care of their elderly grandparents or have only enough to travel two or more hours through dangerous neighborhoods just to get home from school. Nothing is being done to help them; a speech is nothing compared to HEALTH CARE and WELL-FUNDED EDUCATION.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Genderqueer + feminism?

Feminism: the belief that men and women should have equal rights, protections under the law, and social treatment (education, medical care, etc.).

The transgendered, intersex and genderqueer communities are growing in numbers and strength. More and more queer people are losing faith in the Human Rights Campaign and realizing that gay marriage will fix only a small set of problems. The younger generations are also more gender-variant (I guess the emo craze was good for something, after all) in both expression and identity.

Could it be that the Fourth Wave (with the understanding that the third wave ended when the Spice Girls became "riot grrl LITE" and then broke up) be feminism for all genders? Camp Trans becomes more and more popular every year as an alternative for the exclusive Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, for example, and the generational divide between the two is evident. Feminist bookstores across the country carry more and more book about trans, intersex and genderqueer issues.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Women's Spaces

My love of the Guerrilla Girls having recently been rekindled ( and a call for artists for Women's History Month have made me wonder . . . now that I'm out as genderqueer, do I belong in "women's spaces"?

I mean . . . because I'm female and can easily "pass" as a woman, I could just take advantage of what these things have to offer. However, using this as a metaphor for the issue itself: it would be wrong for me to deny who I am, using my femaleness, just to get into the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival while people who actually identify as women, but aren't biologically female, can't get in.

I really admire the Guerrilla Girls and would be honored if I was actually INVITED to join them someday, but I'm not a girl, a grrl, a woman, a womyn, etc. I can do drag of those things, but it's still drag. I am still a feminist, of course, and will happily continue my feminist activism! But I would feel like I'm infiltrating, using others' trust to my own benefit, a women's group. I mean, if I would be welcome after making it clear that I'm genderqueer, I would join. People of all genders are welcome, for example, at the Women & Children First Bookstore and there are many books available there about all genders.

I guess what I'm trying to say with all this rambling is that I would join an inclusive group not just because I'd be welcome, but also because it's inclusive. I would understand my exclusion from an exclusive group AS LONG AS IT MAKES SENSE (a.k.a. not the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


When I came out to my mom as "bisexual" - though we both knew I meant lesbian and just used that term to soften the blow - her immediate reaction was, "WHAT ABOUT MY GRANDCHILDREN?!" This has been a repeated concern, though with less frequency over time. As an only child, it's apparently my duty to provide children for her to play with after I got too old/independent. At first I was insulted that she would think that I wouldn't/couldn't have children because I'm not straight, and then became more insulted that she would expect me to want children in the first place.

In my family, it's a tradition to have sets of five. My mom is one of five, my uncle had five kids, one of his had five kids, and there are many other sets in the more extended family. As a remedy to my lonely, only-child upbringing, I used to want five kids. Upon progression through school and through a couple relationships, that want passed.

Now that I have my bachelor's, I'm living alone, and I want my master's . . . kids just seem ridiculous to me! Spoiling my newborn nephew will be enough! Although I realize that I probably won't feel the same way in ten years, I absolutely don't want children.

Much more appealing to me is to take in foster children, particularly preteens and teenagers. In particular, I would like to take in transgendered, intersex, genderqueer, etc. youth and to provide for them a safe and supportive home since so few other people are prepared and willing to do so. This is still a long way off and may never happen, me being an androgyne uninterested in marriage. My mom, of course, has no idea of my attentive plan.

At Women & Children First Bookstore today, I considered buying a book that's caught my eye for a few months:*listing*title. And then this one stood out:*listing*title. While debating between those and five or six other books, I realized, "THIS IS STUPID! I'm many years away from parenting anything other than a cat! And when I may be ready for something more, who knows if I'll still want this?!"

Monday, August 31, 2009



An androgyne in a female body, I often find that the best way to express myself is through my art. The paintbrush communicates when words fail me and my body, though it be the only tangible part of me, is merely an inadequate container. As represented in my self-portrait, my body and a few disjointed pieces are the only clear parts of me as I explore the dark, mysterious unknown. And even then, as both an androgyne and a female, my body is in question. This is a self-portrait of the parts of me that fade in and out of the unknown.

Halloween is 2 months away . . .

My past few amazing costumes have included Daria, Brick Tamland from 'Anchorman' and Sweeney Todd.

I want to go as a terminator this year: paint part of my face to look like a machine and wear one red contact. However, red contacts are expensive and each of my previous costumes have cost me less than $10.

If I don't have spare $40 by Halloween for red contacts or if they irritate my eyes . . . I'll go as RICK ASTLEY

EDIT: Yep, I'm going as Rick Astley

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Online Gallery

I haven't worked out all the kinks yet

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Alverno College

I'm owning up to it . . . I regret having gone to Alverno College. It doesn't deserve everything I earned at my wonderful high school, Loyola Academy, where I was in FIRST HONORS!! I took HONORS LATIN and HONORS STUDIO ART!!! It's LOYOLA and, as several faculty members would tell you, I was there during some of the absolute best years in the past few decades.

I did get two great things from Alverno that I could not have received anywhere else:

1) Gayness
2) my AMAZING friends

Alverno is the most sapphic school in the Midwest, it was there that I felt safe and welcome enough to come out and live flamingly. And my friends are AWESOME!! I would have gotten a much better education from my 2nd choice, Columbia College in Chicago, but I'd probably be miserable and possibly even engaged.

I deserve better than Alverno. At the time, Alverno, I thought, was the best school in the Midwest for art therapy. And it, being an "ability-based" institution, is almost impossible to transfer out of. Had I attempted to transfer out, I would have had to start over.

Alverno isn't nearly a good enough place for the School of the Art Institute, where I want to get my MFA, but I still have the tools from Loyola Academy. And the art instructor I trust most at Alverno, someone who belongs somewhere so much better, supports me 100%. Since Alverno turned out to be more of an obstacle than a guide, I have the experience and drive to overcome anything.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I have three small tattoos:

A female symbol on my right hip

The Beatles on my left deltoid

And a rabbit on my left calf.

I'd really like to get a blue male symbol on my left hip as my next tattoo. I would also like my family crest on my right deltoid.

I'm also considering my high school logo (yes, I love my high school that much. I would wait at least ten years before getting this, though)
loyola academy Pictures, Images and Photos

Isaac Asimov Pictures, Images and Photos

Sometimes I think about getting a Pride tattoo . . . again, I'd wait a LONG time before that

Some of my art

I'm currently working on a self-portrait. I really enjoy acrylic paint because it's versatile, expressive, and sometimes takes you in a different direction. My online gallery is but you have to have a membership to see my "mature" pieces.

"The Androgyne"
Mixed Media: I supposed this is unintentionally, partly a self-portrait. Mainly, I wanted to create an androgyne challenging the encounterer as if to say, "What am I?"
androgyne androgynous gender genderqueer trans

Mixed Media: an aspect of femininity vs. masculinity

"Reaching Out"
Mixed Media: a female-esque figure reaching out of a cage for something more
gender feminism trans woman man queer genderqueer

"Fatherhood as Mountain"
Acrylic Paint: Based on a polaroid of my father holding me when I was an infant. The green upholstery and blue jeans are like an abstract landscape while the cloth drapes flesh like snow on a mountain. Distant, cold, standing alone.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Body

It took a lot of work to attain security with my body. I came so close to making a big mistake in order to fit social standards of feminine beauty. Now, the only thing I'd like to change about my body is to add some bulk to it, the source of that want is because I can't afford much food and not any social ideals. On a related note, I'm female and I'm fine keeping it that way. I have no interest in any kind of surgery because my body is fine the way it is and, also, because my comfort in my body image is still rather shaky after everything that happened...

The idea of, "This is my body, get used to it," is the root of that security and that is why I don't want to pack or to bind. I have packed a couple times and it just felt weird, like wearing a padded bra: adjusting my appearance to change how others perceive me. NEVER AGAIN!! I stopped wearing bras in '04/'05 and I see a binder as a bra with a different purpose.

Perhaps I may get a cheap binder sometime, just to wear whenever I feel like it. If I ever got the urge to pack (using a sock. . . ), I would. I'm grateful to have a body that allows me to appear androgynous.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Gender Identity:
Gender Presentation:
fluidly androgynous
Interested In:
people who don't fit into categories
Out To:
K. Just K

Gender related to my dad . . .

Of course, when I came out as a lesbian, a lot of people were all, "Oh it's because she was never close to her father, blah blah blah." Which makes no sense because Lauren had the same situation and she's straight and feminine. And some of the butchest dykes I know have great relationships with both of their still-married parents.

Now that I'm starting to go by "K" in daily life, of course, I've noticed the connection to my father, Karl. The first time I signed something as "K. Kriesel," I hesitated because it looked like he had signed it. When I sent him a email this past fall, the first time we had conversed in eight years, I came out as a lesbian to him for my own closure. In one of his many rambling, disjointed and angry replies, he suggested that I'm confusing my sexual orientation with my gender. Hardly, they are unrelated.

But I have wondered what impact he has had on my gender exploration. My healing from everything he's done and my coming out as genderqueer/androgynous seem to be unrelated at their sources, but help each other along now. I have come to realize, though, that he contributed almost nothing to my hyperfeminine childhood. I visited him on most weekends and during a few weeks every summer when I was 4-14. The vast majority of the time, he acted like I wasn't there. But we did hike, swim, boat and fish, he taught me about woodworking and archery, he tried to teach me Latin and how a carburetor works when I was too little to understand. We built a model car and a model biplane. It was only in the places under my mom's influence that I was hyperfeminine, I was scolded whenever I deviated from that. It has become clear that he left his first wife and my mom, at least in part, because he wanted a son. Since he was elderly and my mom was unable to have another child after I was born, I guess he figured that I was the last chance he'd get so he treated me androgynously. Then I hit puberty, changing from his child to his daughter, and he kicked me out of his life.

He has been the most prominent masculine role model on my life, of course. And the times he spent actually teaching me to be self-sufficient, hard working and academic are great examples of positive masculinity. As difficult and painful as he has been in my life, how androgynously he raised me provided balance, relief, and even an anchor from the ridiculously Barbie-like standards of school, church, my mom and my baby-sitters. It has only been after I separated my actual self from that heterosexist role that I've been able to see all this and to actually be grateful.


Gendered bathrooms

I'm reading and, of course, there's an entry about public bathrooms. That's the ultimate reference in anything gender-related. I don't recall which book it was that described the difference between men's rooms and women's rooms as this:

- men's rooms are for bragging about macho conquests, whether it be giant turds or the busty waitress, and are cruising sites for gay men.

- women's rooms are social havens for primping, sharing menstrual products for the underprepared, and for entire hordes of women to stampede into.

I worked at Noodles & Company for two years and, whenever I closed, I cleaned the bathrooms. After a couple weeks, I actually learned to volunteer to do it . . . so I could just text in there under the guise of cleaning really well. Since each bathroom was a single-stall with a lock, the majority of people just went into whichever one was open and/or cleanest. Occasionally, customers would give us odd looks for checking to see if the women's bathroom was in use (which it always was) and then heading into the men's. One well-meaning lady pointed out the difference to me once but then understood when she saw that both were single-stall. Of course, the most macho employees would only use the men's room, I'd just laugh at them.

No matter how far I go with my gender in life, I will probably prefer the women's bathroom 75% of the time just because it's almost always CLEANER!!!! I don't know what the hell men do in the bathroom, but there is no reason to smear shit on the walls and leave a ring of pubes in the sink!!!! Most of the "unisex" bathrooms I see are also "family" bathrooms; I don't want to use those because someone with a handful of screaming kids needs it far more than I do and you never know when they'll appear. Although I get a double-take every once in a while in the women's bathroom, nobody's ever said anything and I do feel safe in there.


For maybe six or seven months, the thought of taking T has played on my mind. I'm very happy with my body, I don't want any drastic changes, but I feel like a more androgynous appearance would fit more with my androgynous/genderqueer identity. I'm happy with being female and I feel at home in the company of most women (most Alverno women . . . . who are ENTIRELY different from the women of the world), but I am not a "lady." I'd like more changes in details than an overall alteration. I haven't allowed myself to research T more because I figured that it might become more tempting to try and I already have too much on my plate.

And then I learned about this stuff, Androgel. It's a lower, more plateau-ed dose of testosterone and some androgens. I did some Googling and I couldn't find much comprehensive, direct information - its website fails for anyone who isn't an older, disgruntled man. This is the clearest I could find: Again, I didn't do much searching because I have bigger things to worry about. And I wouldn't want to try anything until I have medical insurance.

I wish I could have a trial-run for a month or so to see if it's really something I want to get into. I'm still unsure of my own motives: would this really be the way to go to avoid catcalls (even in cargo shorts, Converses and my gayest t-shirt), being addressed as "dear," and the invisibility of being a petite woman in a masculine man's world? A more androgynous appearance would fit my inside more and would be a challenge to the gender norms with which we live, but it wouldn't ward off idiots - it might even invite them. After I move, get a job, get INSURANCE, etc. I'll consider it more . . . even though the thought won't leave me alone while all that is happening.


I created this blog because I didn't want to use Notes on facebook as a blog anymore, facebook's blog applications fail, a lot of my friends don't have MySpace so they can't access my blog there, and I want to get more into the blog community. I'm attempting to unravel gender - which is, of course, tied to everything else - and this, I think, it a way for me to work on that while receiving feedback and checking out others' progress.