Will Non-Binary Gender Markers Go Nationwide? — My Latest for INTO

Jessica Porten of Rewire recently wrote: “The future is not female; it’s non-binary.” Perhaps she’s right, given the recent news about non-binary gender markers in Colorado and DC schools adding non-binary gender options on enrollment forms. Non-binary people — people who do not identify as either men or women — are getting more recognition and acknowledgment, both within and outside of the LGBTQ community.

Legal recognition of non-binary and intersex people has surprisingly come a long way since Jamie Shupe became the first legally recognized non-binary person in the U.S. in June 2016. Now there are five states — Arkansas, Oregon, California, Maine, and Minnesota — that offer non-binary gender markers on driver’s licenses and state IDs, along with the District of Columbia.

But there are questions about the future. Will non-binary gender markers go nationwide? What are the legal barriers preventing that from happening? What about people who think there shouldn’t be any gender markers at all?

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #165: The Truth about Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria with Julia Serano

My guest for today is Julia Serano. She’s a trans-bi activist, the author of the books “Whipping Girl” and “Excluded,” a musician, a spoken-word artist, and a biologist. Today I got her on the show to talk about the controversy surrounding Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria, and why the science behind it is pretty sketchy.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #165: The Truth about Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria with Julia Serano” on Spreaker.

Bi Any Means Podcast #164: Transitioning as Non-Binary with Ollie and William

Today’s episode is a panel discussion with two of my friends about what it means to transition when you’re non-binary. As people who don’t fit into the male-female dichotomy, I feel like we’re often left on our own to figure out what to do with our bodies, our presentations, and our lives. Joining me to talk about this are my friends and fellow NBs Ollie and William, and together we hope to figure all this shit out.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #164: Transitioning as Non-Binary with Ollie and William” on Spreaker.

Gender Dysphoria at an Alt-Country Show — My Latest for Splice Today

It’s Friday night and I’m at a coffee shop waiting for a local alt-country band to go onstage in an attempt to be more social. So far the social part isn’t working; I’m still the awkward wallflower sitting alone at a table, just like I was in my 20s. The only difference is now I’m trying to look more like the girl in the band than the four male members.

The guys in the band all have stereotypical hipster beards, glasses, and tattoos. Except for the tats, I used to look the same back when I was trying to make myself believe I was one of the boys. Masculinity was like a pair of shoes that didn’t quite fit, but I wore them despite all the blisters because I didn’t know there were other options. It wasn’t until I was 30 that I discovered there was a word that described how I always felt: genderqueer. Since then it’s been a process of trying on different clothes, hairstyles, pronouns, and makeup that were way more comfortable than my beard and men’s department jeans. Yet now as I look back and forth between the boys in the band and the sole female member, that old feeling of discomfort whacks me upside the head with a baseball. I can’t help but look at the woman the whole time. It’s not that I want to be with her; more like I want to be her.

The band goes on stage and launches into their set: it’s a mixture of the Old 97’s, Whiskeytown, and Uncle Tupelo with a touch of Jack White sprinkled in. The music is great, but I can’t enjoy it. All I think is, “I’ll never be who I want to be.”

Read the rest here.

How to Talk about Trans Issues — My First Article for Arc

The Atlantic’s Jesse Singal recently came under fire for an article about transgender youth. It focused on several people who first identified as transgender, went through medical transitioning, but eventually realized they weren’t trans and “detransitioned.” Critics noted that Singal used a study that was based on sketchy science, and presented a member of an anti-trans parent group called 4thWaveNow as an unbiased source. In response, Singal asked if transgender people are the only ones who can write about trans issues.

He probably meant this rhetorically, but it’s a question worth exploring. Yes, cisgender (non-transgender) people can talk about trans issues. However, when they do, they should practice some sensitivity, because language can either humanize or dehumanize people.

Read the rest here.

If you’re not a Medium Member, though, you might get stuck outside of a paywall.

Why Leslie Feinberg Still Matters — My Latest for Splice Today

Cloistered in The New York Times this past weekend was a tribute to the late trans activist Leslie Feinberg’s 1993 novel Stone Butch Blues. Headlined “The Best Book for 2018 Is 25 Years Old,” writer Kaitlyn Greenidge begins by confessing that she finally got around to reading the novel this past February. It was there that Greenidge found a powerful story that asks the same questions we’re asking in 2018: “How do you effectively organize across racial lines? How do you address the generational divides in your community? How do you fight sexism in your workplace, knowing you’re going to have to eat with your foes and band with them later for fair working conditions?”

The novel follows Jess Goldberg, who always felt like an outsider growing up in a working-class update New York neighborhood. “I didn’t want to be different,” she says. “I longed to be everything grownups wanted, so they would love me. I followed all their rules, tried my best to please. But there was something about me that made them knit their eyebrows and frown. No one ever offered a name for what was wrong with me. That’s what made me afraid it was really bad. I only came to recognize its melody through this constant refrain: ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’”

Read the rest here.

I Wish I Had Learned LGBTQ History In School — My Latest for HuffPost

Growing up, I was fortunate to learn about the rich history of men and women who made a difference in the world throughout the centuries. My school made sure to teach us about extraordinary women like Sally Ride, Florence Nightingale and Eleanor Roosevelt. I lived in Prince George’s County, a predominantly black area of Maryland, so I was lucky to learn about inspiring figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth and more in my formative years.

Unfortunately in the 1990s, when I grew up, American society was just starting to get the message that being gay was OK, so none of my teachers acknowledged LGBTQ history. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old, working part time at a public library and doing my own research that I found out writers like Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman and James Baldwin were gay. I had learned much about them in my English classes, but I guess my teachers decided to skip that detail.

LGBTQ people have existed throughout history and made tremendous contributions to American culture, yet no one talked about them in school, and there were hardly any books available highlighting the brave queer and trans people who paved the way for the rest of us. If I had known about them, I might not have suffered through years of alienation, confusion and self-hatred. I would have learned to love and embrace my true self sooner.

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #146: The Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative with Callie Wright and Marissa McCool

Today’s episode is the audio from an online panel discussion Callie Wright, Marissa McCool, and I did about the Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative during last week’s online OrbitCon. OrbitCon was a three-day online conference organized by the bloggers at The Orbit featuring panels and talks livestreamed on YouTube about atheism and social justice. Benny Vimes introduced us and asked us a few audience questions near the end, but mostly it’s the three of us talking about what the Initiative does, as well as talk about trans visibility in the atheist movement.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #146: The Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative with Callie Wright and Marissa McCool” on Spreaker.

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We Need To Talk About How Non-Binary Invisibility Affects Mental Health — My Latest for Ravishly

It’s no secret that many LGBTQ people struggle with mental health issues, but some struggle more than others.

For example, a 2011 study shows that out of 33% of LGBT students surveyed that reported suicidal ideation during the previous year, 44% of them were bisexual. Other studies have similar results, and they all suggest bisexual invisibility is the underlying cause. Indeed in my own experience as a bisexual, being caught in the middle of the binary of straight and gay often made me feel like I wasn’t queer enough for the LGBTQ community and not straight enough for the heterosexual world, leaving me feel lost in space in the end.

Recent studies reveal being in the middle of the gender binary isn’t any better. A 2017 study, for example, surveyed over 900 trans youth (ages 14 to 25) and found that non-binary participants reported struggling with mental illness more than binary trans participants. As the study authors speculate, “This group [non-binary youth] is likely to be less understood and acknowledged than transgender youth whose gender identity fits into the man/woman binary, and this may mean nonbinary youth are less likely to have social support.” Another study from last year, conducted by Transgender Europe, found similar results; specifically, that twice as many non-binary people reported struggling with mental health problems as binary trans people.

I asked my non-binary Facebook friends about their experiences with non-binary invisibility. Some, like Ingrid, said their transition would have been a lot easier if they had more support.

Read the rest here.

The #MeToo Conversation Erases Trans People — My First Article for HuffPost Opinion

CN: Sexual Assault, Transphobia

The Me Too movement has given many women the courage to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault and has opened up a nationwide dialogue about consent and sexual misconduct in our culture. As with many mainstream feminist movements, however, the movement has been silent at best — and hostile at worst — when it comes to the experiences of transgender people.

Take, for example, actress Rose McGowan’s encounter with a trans woman at a Jan. 31 speaking engagement. During an appearance at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, Andi Dier stood up and challenged comments McGowan had made on RuPaul’s podcast “What’s the Tee?” last year. “They [trans women] assume,” the actress said on the podcast, “because they felt like a woman on the inside . . . That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman.”

“Trans women are dying,” Dier said during her confrontation with McGowan, “and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away].” The confrontation erupted into a shouting match between the two, ending with Dier being escorted out of the venue and McGowan having a public breakdown.

To be fair, McGowan did say trans women are women during her talk, and she acknowledged the alarming rates of sexual violence against trans women.

Shortly after the encounter, allegations of sexual misconduct against Dier came to light, some of them dating back to 2010. However, instead of focusing on transmisogyny and sexual assault against trans and gender-nonconforming people, most of the media focus was on McGowan. This, unfortunately, is just one example how trans and gender-nonconforming people’s stories are far too often ignored.

Read the rest here.

(BTW, I already had to mute a TERF on Twitter who accused me of saying cis lesbians have to fuck trans women, even though I said nothing of the sort.)