Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wishes For My Godchild

I keep calling him "him." I keep talking to him in the ways that people address male-assigned children and tend not to address female-assigned children: "Little buddy." "Little guy."

I should know better.

I know how much it hurts – how deeply it gets interiorized, how desperately hard it is to root out – to have it constantly reinforced that you're A Boy or A Girl based on what your body looks like. When there isn't strict behavioral policing or immutable gender roles; when you're taught that boys and girls are equals, that there's nothing one can do that the other can't, but also that you're either the one or the other, because biology.

When you so profoundly internalize the ubiquitous cultural lie, sex=gender, that you're terrified to even articulate your deepest desire of crossing over.

I love my godchild – more than I knew I could possibly love a tiny, smelly, messy human who doesn't do much other than sleep, eat, and then expel what he just ate out of both ends. He's seven and a half weeks old, and, according to my totallyobjectiveometer, he is the cutest miniature hominid ever made. I love my tiny person, and I don't want him to ever feel the things I have felt.

I want him to grow up knowing – not just knowing intellectually, but really gut-deep internalizing – that, just because we've been calling him "he" his whole life, that doesn't mean that's who he has to be.

I want him to grow up in a world where being he, she, they, zie, ey, or any goddamn pronoun and gender you please is fully accepted and welcomed anywhere you go.

I want him to grow up in a world where being trans* is just as easy as being cis. Hell, I want him to grow up in a world where "cis" and "trans" don't exist, because gender is finally accepted by all as the nine-dimensional hypercube it is, not the binary it's made out to be.

And probably he's not going to get any of those things, because our world is pretty shit; but God knows I love this baby, and I'm afraid for him, and no matter what, I'll be there for him/her/them/hir/em/...

Sunday, January 20, 2013


People at seminary talk a lot about “callings.” I guess it makes sense: why would you become a clergyperson if you didn't feel called to it by God?

One day, after hearing a lot of talk about people being “called” to various things, I said to a friend who, like myself, is looking to a life in academia, not ordination: “I wish I had a calling.”

My friend said thoughtfully, “I kind of feel called to academia.”

I feel like academia is a black hole,” I said. “No matter how desperately I try to escape it, its gravity just sucks me back in.”

Um... That is a calling.”

Dammit, I always thought a calling would be something nice. It sounds so friendly! Sunday school lessons about God calling Samuel in the middle of the night always made it sound pretty cool and desirable!

It was supposed to be this^. Instead I got this:

I've discussed callings with a number of friends since, both the future clergy and the future professors, and everyone agrees: the smiley-face God-is-my-besty model is a pile of horsefeathers. The black-hole/lightning-sand analogy is far more accurate.

Except for how there is no Westley to rescue you.
This rather unhappy understanding of callings does make sense of something that previously eluded me, namely Justin Tanis' idea of gender as a calling. If a calling is something that sucks you in willy-nilly, that drags you along kicking and screaming, that you can fight and struggle against but never escape – well, then my gender is definitely a calling.

I understand that in some denominations aspiring clergy are told not to seek ordination if they can possibly do anything else with their life. I feel that way about academia – if I thought I could do anything else at all, if I even had a plan B, I would certainly do that instead – and at the moment I feel that way about transition.

Maybe it gets easier farther on, when you're passing more often and you've already dealt with crap like legally changing your name. Right now, though, transition and academia both feel like my ineluctable destiny. They both feel like things that have beaten me into submission. Submission is exhausting, but resistance is both exhausting and futile.

Fine. I give in. Academia, transition, you can have me. Not my will, but yours.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Short Reply To Julie Burchill's Hate-Spew

I shouldn't be responding to this. [ETA: The piece in question has been pulled, thank God. Gif-filled summary here. And, wow, now I'm linking to Jezebel as an example of not intersectionality!fail.] It's vile, it's hateful, and it's a naked attempt to court controversy and grab attention (which has succeeded).

(Shame on you, Guardian. You're supposed to be a leftist alternative to hate-spewing rags like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, not a platform for their ideas.)

I should not be linking to this article, discussing it, or wasting precious brainpower thinking about it; but, like the rest of the multiverse, I am going to do so. I've been letting a lot of things slide lately without comment or correction: this is merely the most high-profile and the most repugnant, and I am not going to stay silent about it.

Julie Burchill is awful, and needs to fucking fuck off.

How can I pick a favorite part of that horrible, horrendous, disgusting, loathsome article?

There's the bit where she calls trans women “a bunch of dicks in chicks' clothing.”

There's the bit where she asserts that “a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I'd imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look.” (My eyes very nearly popped right out of my head at that. Jesus Christ, how dare Burchill write that sentence? How fucking dare she?)

She calls trans women “screaming mimis,” “a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs,” “trannies.” She justifies that last one by saying that “having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as 'Cis' – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they're lucky I'm not calling them shemales. Or shims.”

Y'all, she's onto us! When the Secret Cabal Of Evil Trans People invented the term “cis,” we picked it specifically because of those sound associations. It had nothing to do with FUCKING LATIN PREFIXES.

Julie Burchill, let me personally apologize for referring to you as “cis,” instead of using descriptors you'd no doubt prefer, like “normal” or “not a freak like you disgusting trannies.” In the spirit of appeasement, here are some other words that describe you accurately:
  • bigoted
  • hate-mongering
  • chauvinistic
  • revoltingly prejudiced
If I ever have the misfortune to meet you in person, I will throw up all over you.