Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Young queers

I hung out with some young queers over the weekend, and a few things stuck me.  Firstly, I am defiantly not in my 20s.  But more importantly I looked at the way they labelled gender.  Not necessarily how they performed it, but how they labelled it.  They adopted a range of pronouns, some transitioned medically, some not.  They chose their pronouns and thier names.

And that's where I felt really old.  I don't feel particularly female, but of the binary world in which we live, I guess that holds the most accuracy for my body.  And yet in just over 10 years, the undergrad queers have moved from wearing what they wanted and looking androgynous to calling themselves 'they' and rejecting gender.

It's brave and it rejects a lot of bullshit. Here's the rub though.  When I'm not with people who will let me chose my pronoun, am I setting myself up for conflict and disappointment?  Or this how the revolution starts? A few of the women I used to know have transitioned or now ID as gender-queer.   Most recently I used an incorrect (old) name for someone, who I see every few years round the traps.  S/he (we didn't get to pronouns) was a bit annoyed.  It probably happens a lot with people you don't see a lot of.  Does s/he feel more authentic fighting for a change in pronoun round those who they see regularly? How does the day to day in the world existence feel compared to that?

It's ironic for me to comment on this, as many people could say to me: 'grow your hair, wear women's clothes and people won't keep asking your gender'.  And yet I draw the line at wearing what I want, but being more 'conservitive' in my pronoun choice.  In some ways I identify as gender-queer, but my day to day doesn't ask how I identify like it did when I was at university and establishing my identity. And then we didn't have words like gender queer and cis-gender.

So, back to the young queers. .  I have no clear answers to all this, but it was interesting to witness a version of myself in a different time.  Perhaps it's arrogant of me, but I would suggest we probably feel the same sense of self, but time has changed how that manifests and how it's integrated into our identity.  Just like there are only seven narratives that all stories centre round, gender has multiple expressions, but perhaps they are not infinite.  What is infinite is the language around it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I scored a book voucher to the local queer book store, and as per usual bought up big.  I read a lot and generally widely, but I only buy queer books because I can get most other texts from the library.  This time's selection is:

S/he by Minnie Bruce Pratt 

I'm liking it so far, it's pretty poetic and I generally prefer a more direct style.  But her voice is so clear and her experiences so vivid, and so rarely written.  It makes me want to read more of Leslie Feinberg as well.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I LOVED this.  As soon as Donna Tratt endorsed it, I had to get it.  Ancient Greek gay love story?  I'm in.

And Genedr Outlaws by Kate Bornstein.

Haven't started it yet, but am really looking forward to it.

It's a blazing summer here, 40C (109F?) so the best option really is sweating quietly and reading.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butch boundaries

After being heckled by a 14 year old ("It's a hermaphrodite", which I surprisingly have not heard before), I thought I'd just feel lonesome and a bit disempowered.  But there has been a surge of 'butch' media in lesbian cyber space, and the feeling was a little different.  In the past week, Autostraddle ran this:

Which I quite empathised with, and then there was this too:

As well as another one about African American butches in another online publications (ok, I lost that link).

And I know like it's not just me out there fucking with gender, so I didn't feel lonely like I usually do.  But that's a double edged sword too, because in this regional high school four hours from my cosmopolitan lifestyle, my edgy butches comrades seemed as far away from me as .  But I still had the knowledge that they might feel the things I do and, perhaps, they elicit the same reactions from people that I have.  Sure, they do it elsewhere (on another continent, actually).  But just like I was alone in the school that day, there is a butch somewhere bracing herself to go to a public bathroom.  Or considering her clothing choice for that day and what that will mean for how her friends/strangers/colleagues will read her. Or some baby butch buying clothes from the menswear section for the first time.

So as I moved past lonesomeness I found a surprising roaring fire of rage. I was really pissed at this kid (and the one day before, and the one on the weekend), and pissed for other women in my shoes.  The OUTRAGE was kind of liberating.  And even if we're separated by distance and politeness (I wasn't going to start chatting to the cop in the street), we have a common bond.  And just knowing that, not even acting on it, well, that's pretty powerful.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hair cut

I keep my hair short, and always have.  But I just got it cut shorter still. Parts of it are clippered and it looks awesome and feels amazing.  I can't work out what it is about a fresh, sharp haircut that makes me feel like million bucks, but it does.

It's term break here, so I won't be back in school for another two weeks, but I'll still be looking sharp.  To me.  Perhaps not to others. It's weird that (apart from seeing the odd dyke in the street) I'm the only one who loves this look.  And even though my family might not love it and kids will be weird, there is something so affirming about the clean lines on my head.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No To Homophobia

I'm pretty impressed with my home town, today.  Some pretty solid community groups, with government support, launched a national TV campaign against homophobia yesterday. I really like the ads - they are ultimately targeted at non queer folk and their complicity in homophobia, which is a necessary shift, I think.  There is an argument that these ads promote the GLBT community as 'victims', but homophobia is not a victimless crime.  

I also like that it's not trying to say lesbians and gay men blend in and you might not know someone is gay.  The dykes in the ad look like dykes and they're treated badly because of it.  I, of course, love that they have a woman being singled out for bring butch.  It's actually validating to see it on TV, even though it's a 'negative' ad.

I have no doubt it will polarise some, but you can make up your own mind:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Work.  I have limited excuses beyond working as to my silence.

And in that work, I again find myself confusing teenagers and now even my boss.  Well, he knows I'm female (and a dyke), but I ended up in a class with him where kids were asking if I was a boy or a girl.  I handled it with my usual smooth skills (hold your breath for that post) but it was interesting thinking about it later.  My boss is a nice guy, no dramas there.  But normally, if a conflict like that arose about anything else, he'd want to talk about it.

Not this.  How would he raise it?

'Do you know the students thought you were a man?' or perhaps

'How do you think your haircut affects your work?'  (not a good idea, HR doesn't like that kinda talk)

'How do you feel about your gender presentation at work?'.  Nope.

Even the most politically correct boss isn't going to find a good way to mention gender presentation with 'clients', even if it's just to see how you feel about it.  Of course, I could have raised it, but I have no clear answers to give and he's not going to someone who will have them.  So it would have been me exposing my lack of clarity and him feeling like he should help but being a bit out of his depth.

We've never spoken of it.  And of all the dilemmas for a butch looking dyke in education, this is a pretty mild problem.  Just not one with an answer.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I know, everyone in the northern hemisphere is all sweating and summery.  Well, except for the British, but I don't think they have summer.

But here, it's cold.  Icy in the morning, grey during the day, miserable at night kind of cold.  There are some perks though.  The fashion, for one.  What's not to love about a good coat?  Or a cosy jumper (sweater for the Americans). Wandering the streets it's all black and slate grey with the occasional dapper looking scarf.  I can't help but feel people look classier in winter.  Maybe I feel too much flesh looks trashy, but sometimes it does.  Not such worry in winter -all those layers and even skinny jeans get covered in a coat and a good pair of boots.

And while these wonderful bundles of fabric keep me warm, there is an unintended side affect.  I inadvertently pass a lot more in winter.  No tell tale curves, lots of dark colours, limited gender cues and I think I just speak less in the cold.   And in the back of a classroom, when I'm all rugged up and trying to stealthily observe someone else teach, all the kids can see is a big coat and short hair and they wonder who that guy is in the back row.  Public toilets become more of a battleground and I find myself paying in cash, to avoid pulling out a credit card and having to manage the confusion of having SUCH A GIRLY NAME (thanks mum).

Welcome to winter.