“I Am The Lorax. I Speak For The Gender Binary.”

On Thursday night I went out to see The Muppets with a few friends. It was actually really, really good! Funny, cute, and clearly a sincere, heartfelt love letter to The Muppet Show and simultaneously an homage to Muppet fandom. It was fun seeing it with a pretty big group of really cool people too, Muppet fans all. I had a nice time. I even got a little bit teary-eyed when they sang The Rainbow Connection, which I honestly consider one of the greatest songs of the 20th century.

The quality of the movie, though, was just barely able to make up for the unspeakable Eldritch horror that was the trailer for the upcoming CG-animated adaptation of The Lorax. Yes, dear readers, it looks every bit as bad as you fear, and then some.

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How To Ask A Trans Person Questions Without Being Insensitive About It

Okay. We get it. You’re curious. You have questions. Lots of them. That’s totally understandable. Transgenderism is, to you, something really strange and hard to comprehend, and also intensely fascinating as it calls into question some of the fundamental assumptions about identity and gender. We’re rare, too, and a great many of us prefer to remain invisible. You don’t meet us very often, and when you do, it’s rare that it’s an occasion where you’re able to ask anything. There are very few trans people who are out there willing to make themselves available as sources of information. So you want to take that rare opportunity to ask some of the questions you’ve had floating around in your head ever since you first heard there were such a thing as people who change their sex.

What’s the harm, right? You’re only expressing interest and trying to understand. You’re reaching out, showing a desire to learn and grow. You’re demonstrating your acceptance through your willingness to engage.

Well.. sort of. Trouble is, you’re also often expressing entitlement, and reenacting some of the forces of oppression that make our lives a bit less than wonderful. Unintentionally, of course, but as we should all understand by now, intent isn’t magic, and consequences are consequences.

It’s important to understand that there’s a whole lot more of you (cis people with questions) than there are of us (openly trans people to ask). As such, we’re bombarded with questions all the time. It defines (and detracts from) a pretty significant chunk of our social interactions. And it’s virtually guaranteed that whatever your question is, this is not the first time we’ve been asked.

There’s a couple things that have resulted in this being on my mind. The FAQ and the questions sent in in response to my “Ask Me Stuff!” post are NOT amongst them. Those questions were solicited, which is a totally different kind of thing, and I’m appreciative of all the questions readers did send in. I’m talking here about unsolicited questions. There was the little interaction with commenter Eternally Learning in response to my post In Memory Of Another Natalie, based on some prior history at a skeptic web forum, and there was also an annoying little run-in I had yesterday where a stranger at a check-cashing shop asked me a series of very personal questions, such as when I first knew I was trans, whether I was on hormones, and how my family had reacted.

So I figured it might be helpful to put up a little guide for how to ask your questions in a respectful way. [Read more…]

“But I’m An Ally! I’m On Your Side!”

Lately I’ve been doing this thing where I make a point of trying to call people out on their cissexism and transphobia. Typically it’s not the big, nasty, evil, “you’re perverted and delusional and ought to be shot on sight” stuff, since it’s unlikely I ever end up interacting with such people anyway. Instead it’s usually the little things, the tiny little micro-aggressions that piece by piece help normalize a culture of intolerance.

One of the most common defenses I’ve been finding myself having to deal with, on a pretty frighteningly consistent basis, is people saying “But I’m an ally! I’m on your side!”. This can end up being expressed even by people trying to defend some horrendously cissexist views. Apparently, for them, all it takes to earn your “ally” card, be “on my side” and therefore magically above criticism is that you not think I’m a horrific sub-human who doesn’t deserve any human rights at all and, as mentioned, ought to be shot on site. That’s all it takes, apparently, to qualify as being “on the side” of trans rights, and immune to having one’s assumptions or preconceptions about gender and transsexuality, however vile, open to being questioned. [Read more…]

Is Religion Inherently Dangerous?

My sincere apologies if this post comes across a bit scatter-brained and rushed. I’ve had a rather weird and scary night. One of my roommates fell off the wagon. Hard. He’d almost undoubtedly been on a bit of a crack binge (I’m not joking) and was pacing around the house slamming cupboards, tossing things around, and snarling “Fucking cunt! Fucking goddamn cunt! Cunts and assholes!”… with a few semi-jubilant cries of “I’m back!” thrown in… which later progressed to “Fucking freak! Fucking goddamn freak cunt!”

I did NOT want to take the chance of sticking around to find out whether I was the freak / cunt he was angry about. I have absolutely no idea why, and it’s almost pointless trying to hazard a guess about the motives of someone in that frame of mind. Maybe because I turned him down for sex seven months ago, when he slipped an extremely creepy note under my door?

Saddest part is that this is not by any means the first time I’ve dealt with something like this. I lead a charmed life, don’t I?

Anyway, like I said, I didn’t want to stick around to find out how the episode would play out. Fortunately, there was a Cafe-Sci happening downtown amongst the Vancouver skeptics, where a climate scientist was giving an awesome lecture on massive coral bleaching events. And The Crommunist ended up offering to put me up for the night. I’m posting this from his apartment!

I have very, very awesome friends.

Now, for the article I had intended to write for the morning: [Read more…]