Thoughts about this “3 fictional characters” meme

Have you seen this thing going around right now?  Where someone distills certain qualities of their personality and culls different characters from popular media to illustrate what they’re all about?  (Or, they just relate with certain characters, or they meant a lot at a certain point in growing up, etc. …)

It was a fun mental exercise while I was working last Friday – I started thinking about what if I participated?  The first thought felt like a no-brainer:  Ziggy Stardust!!  Androgynous, flamboyant, theatrical, other-worldly…  Over the weekend, my spouse suggested Ed Wood (who actually was a real person, but seems like such a caricature in the film by Tim Burton)  or Edward Scissorhands, both of whom seemed like they could fit.  My super-close friend once compared me to Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle, so that also crossed my mind.

But I was thinking, I would like to pick someone who is openly non-binary.  And I was stumped.  I though and thought and thought some more.  I started to feel like, OK, well if not non-binary, then at least gender-ambiguous.  The character of Sally from Third Rock From the Sun came to mind.  I loved that show as a teenager.  The four main characters are aliens who inhabit the bodies of a “family” in order to study Earthlings.  Sally is a macho military-type stuck in the body of a feminine model-type.  Humor ensues.  But then I honed in on Harry, the “uncle”? who is forever clueless.  Which, might not be apparent from this blog, but if you knew me in real life, you’d realize that a lot of times, I just don’t get it.  Like, seriously.  I do not get it.

So, yeah, Harry stuck out (and plus he wore an awesome jacket a lot of the time, in the show).  But I was still stumped on the gender-identity aspect of who I am.  So, I decided to subvert it, and came up with this:
my-3-characters

It’s not all grim though:  there is representation out there.  It’s just super obscure, at this point.  And I have great hopes for the (nearish) future.

For now though, here’s an extremely, incredibly thorough bibliography of all things non-binary, created by Charlie McNabb, maybe about a year or so ago.  This document is in-process:  you can suggest edits and new entries!

Nonbinary Gender Identities in Media:  An Annotated Bibliography

The most well known entries I could spot were:
– Pat, from Saturday Night Live, 1990-1994.  Bleccccchhhhhhhh!!!
– A character from the film, Shortbus, 2006.  I need to see this film again; it’s been too long!
– A Star Trek episode from 1992.  From Charlie’s archives:  “The Enterprise encounters a humanoid race called J’naii that is androgynous. Riker becomes close with J’naii pilot Soren, who reveals that she identifies as female, but is closeted because her people think that gender is a perversion. When their affair is discovered, Soren is forced to undergo “psychotectic therapy” to convert her to theproper genderless state. Although this episode is an allegory for gay rights, the gender neutrality is interesting and rare for the time.”  I need to seek this out, just for this plot line!!!

Anybody got any other examples out there?!?


New App: LGBTQ+ health care info & reviews!

I recently connected with Nic and Cat, a duo based in Philadelphia, who have been working super hard for about a year, creating an app for anyone who is LGBTQ+ and is looking for a health care provider. It will be simple, straightforward, user-based, and reliable.  A beta version will be available soon, and Nic says, “the more the merrier, because once we’re beta testing we want to have as many reviews on there as possible–that’s what’s gonna make the app useful.”

qspaces-hard-at-work2 qspaces-hard-at-work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I already signed up.  You can too!  At:  https://qspacesapp.com/qreview/

I definitely will have a lot to add, from
The first primary care doctor who proscribed me T,
The terrible consultation I had for top surgery in my area,
and, yeah, there will be much more.  I have thoughts on my current doctor.  Thoughts about the surgeon who did do my top surgery.  Thoughts about my sometimes therapist and my psychiatrist (refreshingly, those two are all positive.)

I asked Nic a few questions to get a better sense of who they are and what their project is all about…

K:  I’m curious, do you and Cat have experience in web design?  Or, what are your backgrounds?

Nic:  I have some experience with coding, but not enough to be able to pull off an app like this. I’m currently a 2nd year in medical school with a background in crisis counseling, EMS, and performance. Cat is a jack-of-all-trades. In the past, she’s used design principles to build community dialogue around social issues and is currently working for Johnson & Johnson on their TAP program, and starting her first year at University of the Arts in the Design for Social Impact Master’s program. She always has a million little projects going on, from trying to create the perfect denim work jean for butches, tomboys, transmen, and anyone else who has trouble finding a durable, well-fitting work jean, to cataloguing every queer movie in existence, and more.  When she had the idea for the app and shared it with me, I was like, there has to be something like this already out there. We looked around and there were a few options, but nothing that gave tangible results. She started drawing up some sketches and we’ve been unstoppable ever since.
qspaces

K:  Was there a specific moment or incident where you said, “We need an app to fill in this void of information.”

Nic:  We had just moved to Philadelphia so I could go to medical school and we were both trying to establish care with a primary doctor. Cat had very recently had a terrible doctor experience and she didn’t want to go through that again. So she turned to an online forum, a queer philly group. The posts were all over the place, and it was just generally inefficient. I was also meeting with a group called the Gender Interest group at the time, which is an interprofessional group for folks in healthcare who are trying to push systematic change at their home institutions around attitudes + policies affecting gender diverse folks. I was pretty blown away by how professional, dedicated, and compassionate these healthcare providers were and I realized that patients could only find out who had adequate training in LGBTQ patient issues by word of mouth.  I mean, almost 10% of the population is lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and / or trans. Yet we give hours and hours of lectures on the most rare of congenital metabolic diseases. I think that’s a problem. 

So there wasn’t one exact moment. It was basically a culmination of all of our experiences up until that point. Cat + I realized that 1. we could do something about it and 2. that we were actually the perfect team for this project.

K:  What has been the most rewarding parts of the process of getting it off the ground so far?  What about the most frustrating?
Nic:  So many great experiences. My favorite parts have been where people approach us and say, yeah- but have you thought of this? I love working with people, and building off of ideas, so the amount of collaboration that this has led to has been truly incredible. We’re working with a web dev team called Webjunto in Philadelphia and they’re really awesome. A good part of the team is queer and they have a lot of great insights. Even the straight, cis people have some great insights.😉

The most frustrating part, by far, has been trying to convince straight, cis folks that there is a need for this kind of app. You can quote statistics at them all day long (like over 56% of lgb folks have had discriminatory experiences at their healthcare provider’s office, and over 70% when looking at transgender and gender non-conforming people) but they’ll just reply, ‘Well, not at this institution’ (which I know for a fact to be untrue). The institutional support matters because we need funding, we need investors in order to set up a sustainable business model. The reason some of these other sites are stalling out is because they are non-profits that run on volunteer work. Cat + I would love to devote ourselves full time to this app, and it’s important that it stays totally free for the folks using it.

Besides, we have so many other ideas, including things like having a Clubhouse- a community space for lgbtq folks to chill + hang out that isn’t centered around alcohol. Maybe one day! 
_______________
I’ll share more info about this app as it becomes available.  This is SUPER important.  (I’ll also share updates about this magical Clubhouse as that materializes as well. 🙂 )

3 super-short stories

Content note:  crassness, body humor

1:  “We’re Trendy”

My spouse and I were at a bar on the beach with another couple a few weeks ago.  My friend (who is also trans) and I went to go get us some drinks.  It was packed inside, and we had to squeeze past a long line for the bathrooms to get to the bar.  On our way back with the beers, as we were squeezing by again, a woman was saying, “Hell, with this line, I could just go into the men’s room.  You know, like transgenders.  That trendy right now.”  And, without really seeing her or stopping or anything, not missing a beat, I said, semi-loudly, “We’re trendy.”  My friend repeated, “Yeah, we’re trendy.”  According to my friend in the re-telling, she had a taken aback type reaction, but I didn’t see it; I just kept walking.

_________________________________________

2.  “Nearly A”

Last night on our way to go brush our teeth, my spouse looked in on our guest room / my gigantic clothes pile.  There was a bra on top of one clothing mound, and she picked it up and said, “What is this?!!”  I told her it’s a bra.  She kept it coming with the, “Why do you have this?” and “Where did this come from,” etc.  And I said it was mine and I was saving it for if I ever wanted to dress up like a girl.
“This is so tiny; it’s a training bra,” she said.
“No it isn’t!  This was my bra!!!” (I was being mock angry.)

I started fumbling with it in my hand, looking for a tag so I could prove to her it was a bra.  It was kind of curled up, so I unrolled it and showed it to her.

It had a model number, and then it said, “SIZE:  Nearly A.”

We both burst out laughing.

____________________________________________

3.  “A Bag of Dicks”

Today, I was filling in for my supervisor, so I was working the day shift.  The principal wanted me to clean up the front of the school, pick up sticks and garbage, sweep the walkway, stuff like that.  So I did that for about an hour and a half before I decided that was good enough.  I took the bag of trash around back to the dumpster, and as I passed the cardboard dumpster, I noticed a feminine looking backpack, a style that seemed older than elementary school age kids, just perched on top of cardboard boxes, at the perfect height where it was right where those side slide-y doors open.  I flipped the flap of the bag, because I’m that kind of curious, and with just a glance, I realized that it was filled with dildos and vibrators, of all sizes and shapes, all of them different shades of pink.  I quickly put the flap back and walked inside, mulling this over.

I texted my spouse:
“There is a bag of dicks in the cardboard dumpster today.”
“Haha, what?!”  and then later, “What were the bag of dicks?!  Haha”
“Like, literally!  i took a pic on my crappy phone but didn’t turn out great cuz i wasn’t gonna touch them”
“Haha, why did the school have those?!”
“Someone swung by for a secret dump”

I then texted my co-worker, who was going to be at the school within the next half hour:
“There’s a bag of dicks in the cardboard dumpster.”
“????”

I just left him hanging until he got to work (I also texted some friends about the bag of dicks).  Then, since this was one of the most exciting things that’s ever happened at work, I brought him right out to show him.  He was pretty surprised, but I do get the sense he’s seen lots of weird stuff in his time.  He asked me if I told anyone about it and what should we do?  I said, “No!”  Just my spouse, and I was gonna just dump it in the actual dumpster, not the cardboard one.  But, like, maybe a little later (cause I was pretty sure he was going to investigate on his own).  Sure enough, later on he approached me, and told me that he did a little digging and there were some latex gloves in there too and gym socks and also a gift card for Subway.  Haha.  He said, “fly your freak flag” a number of times.  I felt a little more emboldened next time I went to throw out trash, and rooted around in the bag with my gloves on before throwing it into the trash dumpster.  Yep, lots of dicks in there.


Dear Sugar Podcast: I’m a transgender man, seeking acceptance

So, I’ve been listening to this one podcast religiously since its beginning in December of 2014… it’s kind of a guilty pleasure; it’s a straight up advice column!  It’s called Dear Sugar; the “Sugars” are Cheryl Strayed, of Wild fame – the book, the movie (starring Reese Witherspoon), the attitude, and Steve Almond, who wrote Against Football, among many other books and essays.  They also always bring in an “expert,” or someone who can speak from personal experience about the person’s question.

dear-sugar

They have fielded numerous letters about relationships, family dynamics, friend betrayals, weddings, lies and secrets, infidelity, personality clashes, (surprisingly, nothing that I can remember about work drama or school issues…)  A couple of them have been about lesbian and gay -centric problems:  parents who are unsupportive, partners who are still in the closet, etc…

 

I have been waiting for something that relates to trans-people.  Finally, after a year and 9 months, they tackle it!

And… it’s totally underwhelming.

Have a listen, here:  I’m a Transgender Man, Seeking Acceptance  (For reference, it’s 39 minutes long.)

I mean, I think it’s great for the general population.  So, it’s a good start.  They read two different trans-men’s letters, and they seem to be at different points in their transitions, so that’s cool.

The first guy is in college, and he’s feeling great about his path and the people around him and everything – everything except for his parents, who just will not get on board.  This, I feel, is super common.

The second guy seems to be a little more established, in a career, and he’s navigating the world of dating.  He is concerned that since he is short (5’2″), does not have a lucrative career (social worker), and does not have a penis, he may be unlovable.  This, too, seems like a pretty common concern.

The “Sugars,” in general, use radical empathy as a basis for starting a dialogue.  And, in this case, since they don’t know how it feels to be transgender, they take the angle that,

“The best way to begin to understand an experience very different from your own is to listen to the stories of others. This week, we read the letters of two transgender men who are struggling to find love and acceptance.  The Sugars discuss with Cooper Lee Bombardier, a visual artist, writer and transgender man.”

According to his bio, Cooper “has been a construction worker, a cook, a carpenter, a union stagehand, a welder, a shop steward, a dishwasher, a truckdriver, a bouncer, and a housepainter, among other things, for a paycheck.”  He’s currently super successful with the writing and the art.  He sounds super cool!

Steve Almond starts off talking about the first time he met a trans-woman.  It was slightly cringe-inducing, but also definitely a worthwhile story.  Then they get into the letters, and introduce Cooper.  He, as a guest, is eloquent and upbeat, but he does keep it pretty basic, and seems somewhat detached from his own personal stories.  There is a really great moment though where Cooper says he’s been “transitioning” for about 15  years, and when the Sugars ask him how old he was when he started, he says, “in my early 30s.”  They sputter about how young he looks and how could this be?  And he replies, “I moisturize.”  And then later, “It’s the trans-fountain of youth, you know…” and there’s lots of laughing, and Cheryl says, “Sign me up!”

One thing that Cooper says really well in discussing the first letter is,

“We wrestle with these feelings for so long, that by the time we articulate it to somebody, it’s like a bottle bursting open.  …And we tell our parents and we expect them to get it, like, tomorrow.  Even though we’ve been struggling with it for years and years, right?  And so I think that… it’s really hard to be patient when we’ve waited so long to kind of actualize and realize that this is what’s going on for us.  But for those relationships that we do want to bring along with us, we do need to offer some patience, even though it’s hard.”

When discussing the second letter, they telescope it out, to bring it to the wider theme of anyone who feels like they are unloveable, and how to change that internal notion.  Cheryl says, “This is a universal conundrum.  …Am I too fat to be loved? No. Am I too poor to be loved? No. Am I too fill-in-the-blank to be loved? No.”  They touch on how his height and his career might factor into this, and no one makes one further mention about the fact that he does not have a penis.  Is it because they think it’s not important to talk about?  No, I kind of doubt it – I think they are finding it too awkward to address.  And/or, in being respectful, they feel that it’s not up to them to talk about a trans-person’s genitalia (or sex life, or surgeries, or…) which is definitely important that we’ve gotten that far, but in this case, it was right there, in the letter, and it just got straight up ignored.

I do really hope they expand the dialogue about what it feels like to be a transgender person.  I have been thinking of writing in, for a while now, and I only feel more motivated after listening to this.  I’m planning on it; I’ll let you know.


this will not define me

Originally published in the zine, Not Trans Enough.  Written by geoff; reprinted with permission.

not trans enough zine

if you were to look at me or hear me speak, you’d probably think that i am a cis dude. i could list off all the reasons why that isn’t so. i could just say that i am genderqueer. i could make it known that i am non-binary. or i could just share all that i know about these aspects of myself. i definitely do not look, act, or sound genderqueer or non-binary and i am especially not thought of as trans. well at least i feel that i do not look like or live up to this cultural imagination of what it means to be trans, genderqueer or non-binary.

i never “came out of the closet.” i never had individual conversations with friends or family members. i didn’t even have a facebook status update sharing this new and important part of my life. i never came out. i never really changed my outward appearance to become genderqueer although i wish i didn’t have facial hair. instead i started to live my life more openly, honestly and more as my true self. my process of becoming genderqueer was an inside job.

genderqueerness appealed to me because it meant that i no longer had to live like a man. it meant that i no longer had to fall short of the ideal of being a man. it meant that i could start to reject the masculinity that is toxic and violent. it meant that i could be this tiny five foot one and a half tall person trying to live a just life in an unjust world. one thing it didn’t mean was that my male privilege just disappeared once i started to identify as genderqueer.

yes, i still benefit from male privilege even though i identify as genderqueer. this male privilege is complicated and contextual. it’s something i never really thought about or ever needed to consider. i feel genderqueer on the inside but i know that most people read me as a dude. being a genderqueer tomboy femme feels right. although my gender identity challenges gender expectations, i still live in this world that genders people as men or women. as de from my interactions with people that are close to me, i get gendered as a man. even though i identify as femme, i do not experience constnt sexual harassment, gendered or sexual violence.

in my early 20s and before i ever identified as queer in any way, i used to wear women’s pants by goth brands like lip service and tripp. the pants were skinny enough to fit my slim petite figure but were really tight around the crotch area. i also used to wear cyber goth platform sneakers. i had a pair of “swear alternative” shoes that had a 4 inch platform. i only wore them out once. i stopped it all. i couldn’t deal with the looks and i didn’t feel comfortable or confident in what i was wearing so i stopped. i was scared. i stopped expressing this femme aspect of myself to feel safe. i traded aesthetics for security.

“not trans enough” deeply resonates with me. this statement expresses my sentiments of feeling out of place within the “trans community.” it conveys the discomfort that i feel when i say that i am genderqueer, that i use they/them pronouns when i am surrounded by people that have an authentic trans story to tell. the “real” trans story that’s about experiencing struggles, dysphoria and medical transition. i do not wish to put down any of these struggles or experiences rather i hope to add my experience to diversify the trans narratives. i share my experience to validate it. i share my story to affirm other peoples’ sentiments if they too feel “not trans enough.” i think that all trans people are amazing. i dream of a future where trans people don’t constantly live with discomfort, where trans women and transfeminine people do not face disproportionate rates of violence against them, where trans people do not just struggle to survive but thrive and where trans people are honoured for the beautiful people that they are.

geoff is a mixed race gender queer of filipinx descent living as a settler on colonized land known as toronto, turtle island, traditionally land of the haudenosaunee, mississaugas of the new credit, huronwendat and other indigenous peoples. they identify as a sober addict in recovery. they wish to politicize their experiences with substance use and sobriety while unraveling the limited representation of the addicted body. more of their work can be found at https://livingnotexisting.org/


3 months after top surgery / 6 weeks back on T

Physically, I feel 100%, and I’ve felt that good for the past month – like in terms of lifting, stretching, and moving my body.  Aesthetically, I’m still not happy, but I’m starting to get used to / feel OK (for now!) with how things look (I’m sure I’ll be looking at revisions down the road, but I’m not going to worry about that right now.)  Sensation-wise, I’m a little worried, but I know it’s still early on.  My nipples are still numb, and it feels numb/tender within about an inch radius around both nipples.  I’m looking into making some gotu kola oil to massage into the tissue; apparently that’s supposed to help with nerve damage.  Better late than never, right?

I have my 3 month follow-up appointment with the physician’s assistant on Tuesday, via Skype, and I’m not really looking forward to that…

It’ll be fine…

Otherwise, I’m super happy.  I’m so happy to be wearing what I want to wear and also of walking around the house without a shirt on (which I did do, previously, but not as much, and not while my spouse was around.)  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to a friend, “I did not expect to feel much different other than a cerebral satisfaction regarding being able to wear anything from now on.  But it’s more of a gut- level confidence:  I feel like my posture is different; I walk differently, I carry myself differently.  This is what makes it all worth it.”  That pretty much sums it up.

Also, I’ve been using 2 pumps of Androgel, daily, for 6 weeks now, without any doctor supervision.  I just had some extra bottles laying around, and I felt like starting again (after being off of it for… 6 months?)  I contacted my local LGBTQ clinic via email (which is new for me – previously I’d been getting Androgel from a doctor who was reluctant to be a part of my trans-related health) but after more than a week, I haven’t gotten a response.  So, I plan to call soon.  I’m thinking about trying injections, short term.  I think I’ve gotten about as far as the gel will bring me, and I STILL want to look and sound slightly more masculine.  Like, enough so, so that people are confused, or at least they’re hesitant to actually say “ladies.”  So sick of the “ladies.”  It happened again today.  Blah.

 


Big, Burly, and Beautiful

This piece was first published in the zine, Not Trans Enough.  Written by Rhiannon Robear; reprinted with permission.

One night this summer, I was at the gay club looking glam, and having a smoke break outside with my friends.   A cis gay guy came up to us and started talking about trans things in that “you’re a visibly trans and/or gender non-conforming person so I’m about to lay down all my trans knowledge, thoughts, and critiques for you” kind of way (a.k.a. completely unasked/unwanted).  Overall it was a real drag, and I brushed him off mostly, but then he held my hands and looked me in the eyes and said, “baby, I know you’re trying to be the belle of the ball, but the reality is you’re built like a 6 foot amazon linebacker, and you need to work that.”  I was taken aback like where the fuck do you get off telling me who I am and what I should do.  But as much as I hate entertaining cis-notions of what trans people are or should be, what he said was true, and deep inside me I knew I felt that and it was the first time someone told me that I could &should be a woman on my own terms.

The reality is:  I’m 5’11, probably between 250-300 pounds, hairy as all hell, and I wear size 13 women’s shoes:  I’m a big girl.  I spent years of my life identifying as a gay man, and trying to work at accepting and loving my body & myself in a culture that taught me that being fat & being femme made me undesireable, unattractive, and inferior.  It took me YEARS to be comfortable with who I am, and that process has changed me, and how I value myself – simply put:  I don’t do things for other people anymore, I do things for myself.

I identified as non-binary for the past two years, and over this time, I’ve slowly began to come into myself as a woman, and I’m currently in the process of coming out as a transgender woman.  It’s very exciting and liberating and I’m now out at work and am ‘test driving’ my new name and pronouns.  This being said, what I am most dreading about coming out isn’t being faced with disapproval or abandonment (I am privileged with supportive family and friends), but more about those in my life forcing feminine ideals upon me when I start to identify as a woman and not strictly non-binary.

In a perfect world, would I like to wear a full face of make-up, have minimal to no body hair, have a feminine physique, and be read 100% of the time as a woman?  – SURE!  But the reality is, I work two jobs, I’m a full time student, and I’m involved in a couple different organizations, and I don’t have time for that.  My emotional well-being is like, “you work at 8am, you don’t have time to put your face on for an hour every morning,” “you literally can’t even reach your back hair, how are you supposed to regularly keep that shaved,” etc.  Luckily for me, I think that the resilience I learned as a fat & femme gay man allows me to be comfortable in my own skin regardless of others’ perceptions.  I also recognize the privilege of being comfortable enough with myself & my gender to not be dysphoric to an incapacitating extent wherein I need to hold my body to a standard for public consumption.

Why yes!  I AM a woman with a hairy back – if it bothers you I’ll hand you a razor and you can shave it for me!  Until then please fuck off with your gendered policing and let me live my life on my terms.
Rhiannon Robear (she/her) is a 24 year old white trans woman living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  She is a social work student, and is involved in many different campus and community organizations devoted to trans, queer, and feminist justice.  In her spare time she likes to knit, crochet, and watch tv shows.  Feel free to follow her on twitter @haliqueer or email her directly rhiannonmak@gmail.com


Summer of t-shirts #5 / Band t-shirts

I’ve been busting out some of my oldest t-shirts this summer; some of them I haven’t even looked at in years – I have them stored in a box.  Others I see, but don’t touch, every day – they are on a hanger, on the wall, like fine art.  After having top surgery earlier this summer, I have been getting to know my collection again.  And, it includes some really old gems, including band t-shirts from the 1980s.

Like this one:

The Police, from the Synchronicity time period

The Police, from the Synchronicity time period

This was taken 10 years ago, as part of a drag photo shoot.  It was most likely the last time I wore the shirt.  I can wear it again, now, if I want!  Although, maybe I better keep it in nice condition – I found the same shirt, in a muscle-t style, selling online for $71.82.  And my other The Police t-shirt (not pictured) is selling for $134.23.

I got this shirt for $5.  There is this amazing local record store that has tons of gems, but it’s really hard to locate anything.  The store is a mess, but in the 1990s, it was even worse.  There was literally a mountain of t-shirts, starting from on the floor in a space that may have been about 8ft by 8ft – it was sectioned off by railings, like a bull pen.  You would walk onto shirts and just start digging.  I found this, plus these shirts, and more (another The Police, Echo and the Bunnymen, David Bowie…):

DSCF1692

The Honeydrippers

DSCF1699

The Clash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They were all $5.  In the early 2000s, I went back to uncover more treasures, and I was horrified to find that they were all organized neatly on racks and hangers, alphabetically.  And none were under $20.  Suddenly.  And I would have probably bought more at that price, but it looked like it had been picked through extensively.  I couldn’t find any I’d actually want to wear or display.  Bummer.  I guess the influence of online selling had swept in, and cleaned up this mess.  For the worse.  Still, I am glad I was able to get a piece of it while it lasted.

P.S. The Honeydrippers were a band from 1981-1985, formed by Led Zeppelin lead singer, Robert Plant.  It was kind of a part of that resurgence of 50s style music, in the 80s.  Other memebers included Jimmy Paige, Jeff Beck, Paul Shaffer, Brian Setzer, and a bunch of others.  They only recorded one EP.

This post is part of a series.  Here are the previous ones:

Summer of t-shirts #4 / Transgender Trailblazers

Summer of t-shirts #3 / Back to work

Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

1 month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1


Summer of t-shirts #4 / Transgender Trailblazers

This is a series in which I highlight different shirts I am now able to wear un-self-consciously, because I had top surgery earlier this summer!

This one is a brand new t-shirt – it was designed by Erin Nations, a transgender comic artist living in Portland, OR.  You can get one here:  Transgender Trailblazers Tee.  You might want to act now – they could go fast!  (Looks like he’s already out of size M light-blue shirts, for example).

DSCF1689

From the website:  “50% of each sale will be donated to the TransWomen of Color Collective.  TWOCC is a grass-roots funded global initiative created to offer opportunities for trans people of color, their families and their comrades to engage in healing, foster kinship, and build community. They strive to educate and empower each other through sharing skills, knowledge and resources as they build towards the liberation of all oppressed people.”

Ten trailblazers are illustrated.  “They were/are advocates, activist, pioneers, community leaders, and historical figures in the transgender community. Through their actions and involvement, they paved the way for many trans people, allowing us to live our lives more openly, safely, and authentically.”

Here they are, with a brief description that I cobbled together from various websites:

Sylvia Rivera (top) – She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance.  She attacked the HRC and Empire State Pride Agenda for not being trans-inclusive.  A lasting quote:  “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.” The Sylvia Rivera Law Project was founded in 2002, in her honor, and aims to ” guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence”.

Miss-Major Griffin-Gracy (2nd from top, L) – She’s the executive director of Trans Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project.  She was a leader in theOne month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts 31 Stonewall Riots and then imprisoned for 5 years, which led to her also fighting the prison industrial complex.

Leslie Feinberg (2nd from top, R) – A self-identified trans, butch lesbian, communist.  Wrote Stone Butch Blues in 1993.  Also wrote Transgender Warriors and Trans Liberation.  She did not care what pronoun was used in reference to her, as long as it was with respect.

Alexander John Goodrum (2nd from top, center) – An African American Trans, civil rights activist and the founder and director of TGNet Arizona.  He took his own life while in a psychiatric ward in 2002; he was posthumously awarded the Godat Award for his service in the LGBTQ+ community.

Lou Sullivan (3rd from top, L) – He was possibly the first trans-man to openly identify as gay, and he was largely responsible for the understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity being separate facets.  He also founded FTM International.

Kate Bornstein (3rd from top, center) – There’s no way to condense her accomplishments here.  Just look her up!  Read her books!  Also she just posted on her twitter feed, today, about it!  – “Tickled pink to be drawn on one of these T-shirts by Erin Nations.”

Louise Lawrence (3rd from top, R) – She worked with Alfred Kinsey and later, Harry Benjamin, and she counseled other trans-people just by having them drop by.

Marcelle Cook-Daniels (bottom, L) – He worked for the IRS and was working on his masters in computer science.  He was a transmasculine African America activist and leader, presenting at many conferences and contributing to a handful of books.  He took his own life in 2000.

Reed Erickson (bottom, center) – He became very wealthy over time through his professional life – he studied to be an engineer and later successfully ran two large companies and invested in oil-rich real estate.  In 1964, he founded the Erickson Educational Foundation, which “helped to support, both through direct financial contributions and through contributions of human and material resources, almost every aspect of work being done in the 1960s and 1970s in the field of transsexualism in the US and, to a lesser degree, in other countries. The EEF funded many early research efforts, including the creation of the Harry Benjamin Foundation, the early work of the Johns Hopkins Clinic” as well as information, counseling, and a referral network.

Marsha P. Johnson (bottom, R) – A close friend of Sylvia Rivera, she was a leader in the Stonewall Riots and later a co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and an organizer with ACT-UP.  She was also a member of Andy Warhol’s drag queen troupe, Hot Peaches.  A lasting quote, whenever she was asked what the “P” stood for:  “Pay it no mind!”

Others in this series include:

One month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1

Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

Summer of t-shirts #3 / Return to work


Summer of t-shirts #3 / Return to work

Yesterday, I wore a t-shirt to work for the first time!  It was glorious.  I have been back to work for two weeks now, after being out for 9 weeks recovering from top surgery.  It has been going more smoothly than I could have possibly imagined!  Physically, I’m back to 100%, and in terms of work dynamics, I’m right back where I left things, which is better than I could have hoped for.  I pictured I might be the odd person out, after being away so long, but everyone genuinely seems happy to see me.  Our supervisor even got muffins for the day I came back!

So, work uniform:  We have four styles of shirts we can wear – all of them are navy blue with the school district’s seal embroidered in yellow.  The choices are:
long sleeved button-down
short sleeved button-down
t-shirt
polo shirt

Every 2 years, we can order 5 more.  I had been down to only 5 total, though, for years, because I continually ordered more and more size S short sleeved button-downs, and they kept being too big.  I had 5 that my spouse had tailored and hemmed (thank you!!!), and that was it.  I had 2 t-shirts and one polo shirt, which I had ordered at some point, but never wore.  Until yesterday!

Why didn’t I just wear a t-shirt immediately upon returning?  This might be mild paranoia, but I didn’t want to change things up immediately for fear of fanning whatever rumors might be going around about the type of surgery I had.  I only told 2 people at work, and I didn’t really want to talk about it.  The short sleeve button-downs have pockets with buttons that just happen to fall right where my nipples are!  Haha.  So, I looked pretty much the same before and after surgery, in those shirts.  I wanted a little time to pass before I moved on to what I really wanted to do:  Wear a t-shirt!

I gotta say though, t-shirts are not as conducive to this hot weather.  (It is soooooo hot in the school.)  They are 100% cotton, and they get wet with sweat.  The short sleeved button-downs are cotton/poly blend, and they are billowy and wick away moisture.

Once it’s fall, winter, and spring, I am going to be loving it though.  I just need more shirts though!  I think this is one of the years we get more – I’m going to order 5 small t-shirts!

In other work related news, I added a new page to my blog.  It is called, glossary of janitorial words and phrases.  I’m sure I’ll be adding to it as I think of more.  Check it out – it might make you laugh (or possibly gross you out)…