Selections from QIAM Summer Fashion Debut @ Salonathon: Lexica!
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
"Femininity has been presented as something that’s artificial and masculinity is something that’s authentic, and even in a lot of feminist discourse until recently, femininity was seen as something that was artificial and fake. So there is this fear of feminine that we see in a lot of different aspects of culture that is punished. That’s a part of patriarchy. In a lot of ways we can’t talk about homophobia and transphobia, without talking about patriarchy.”
- Laverne Cox
Read the full interview here, via Gawker.
A Review of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, Edited by TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson
It was only three years ago that I knowingly met a trans person for the first time. I met them during a summer writing workshop in Chicago called Check the Method—a gathering of youth poets from across the city and suburbs for an intensive week of writing poetry about our own lives and communities. At Check the Method, I wrote in the most multicultural room I’ve ever been in—people of different races, sexualities, religions, genders, and abilities challenged the real and imagined borders between us to create and share poetry together.
This is where I began to realize trans and genderqueer people exist. That trans and genderqueer poets exist. This is the place where I started writing about my trans identity. Where I first shared poems about being trans with other people, the vast majority of whom were not trans or queer. My fellow writers respected and accepted me, creating an environment where I felt safe to figure out my identity on the page. And to cry in the (women’s) bathroom after reading an emotional poem and seeing the concerned looks on their faces. I wrote and read poems about being trans long before I could speak about it in any other way.
After the summer workshop ended, I went back to school in Vermont and found myself enrolled in a class called “Transgender Identities, Communities, and Politics.” The class was taught by an openly trans teacher, Reese Kelly. This was my first experience with an openly trans educator, who would later become a close mentor and friend. On the first day of class, I learned about the possibility of using they/them/their pronouns and now use them every day. I strongly identified with the material in the class. It completely changed my life. I found it unfortunate and almost unthinkable that it wasn’t until college that I was educated about trans people.
Knowing I was interested in poetry, Reese sent me an e-mail about an anthology of trans and genderqueer poetry that was seeking submissions. At the time, I was not comfortable identifying myself as either of those terms. I submitted anyway. A part of me knew I’d eventually come to identify as trans. I was not accepted into the anthology but I still eagerly awaited its publication.
This past spring, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics was published by Nightboat Books. I immediately ordered a copy. When it finally arrived, I was happily surprised to feel the weight of the book in my hands. The weight of 55 trans and genderqueer poets in over 500 pages. This is a book that takes up space. A book that requires multiple sittings. It demands attention. The attention that trans and genderqueer writers deserve.
When I first flipped through the book, I had trouble focusing on the poetry. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t identify with the poetry, which was shocking to me. As TC Tolbert says in the introduction, “there is no such thing as a monolithic trans and genderqueer poetry…there are indeed, trans and genderqueer poets and trans and genderqueer poetries.” Even though I consider myself a transqueer poet, I do not see my ideas about what “trans poetry” means, my writing style or my politics reflected in the book. That’s okay. There is room for many different trans and genderqueer poetries. This book challenged my idea of trans and genderqueer poetry by showing me that trans poetics resist classification.
Perhaps one of the reasons I cannot see my poetry in this anthology is because I identify most strongly with the traditions of Chicago literature. The traditions of realist portraiture, a strong root in place, a brutally unapologetic tone and a sense of community. The traditions of trans and genderqueer poetries are not well known. They are still in development. I know more about Chicago poets than trans poets. Of course, trans people are involved in Chicago’s literary scene, but not in an organized mass. We are still figuring out who we are and how we want to share ourselves with the world. A world that frequently refuses to listen to us.
Even though I don’t feel a strong connection to the poetry in Troubling the Line, I do see myself in the poetic statements that accompany the poems. The poetic statements describe each poet’s relationship with writing and the body. Many of the poets describe writing as a tool for survival, a space where they feel free and can finally be heard. Here are several excerpts from the poetic statements:
“I write because our lives are largely unwritten, and if written largely not self-written, and we need to textually, conceptually and artistically (re)inhabit these previous places of absence and longing.” – Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán
“It sounds strange but being queer made creativity easier for me if only because I was shunned, forced outside the acceptable, respectable world and writing was something I turned to in that imposed solitude, for writing was an actual place I could go to where I was free.” – CAConrad
“Writing saved my life. As a kid in Mexico I witnessed the struggles of illiteracy and pursued writing with the same ferocity that my parents had to hustle and survive.” – Fabian Romero
“My poems are born out of borderlands. The spaces between.”
– Oliver Bendorf
“I do not believe in art for art’s sake, simply because I never had that luxury.” – D’Lo
“Poetry is the body.” – Samuel Ace
“excluding anything from poetry is a violent act equal to excluding anything from reality” – Monica / Nico Peck
It is an exciting time to be a trans writer. We cannot and will not be excluded from literature and the world it describes any longer. There is an emerging and thriving trans literary movement that is creating more space for all of our narratives. We need to continue writing and sharing our stories because as Joy Ladin says in Trans Poetic Manifesto, “No non-trans person can experience what trans people experience; no two trans people’s experiences are identical.” While this anthology is a necessary historical artifact of trans literature, I dream of the day when trans voices are integrated everywhere and we are not forced to create our own publications out of exclusion. It is in that room at Check the Method where I found the most acceptance, around people who were not like me. For many of them, I may have been the first trans person they ever met.
(rebloggable by request)
Anon asked: How is being transgender different from being transethnic? I’m sorry, this may seem like a trolling question, but I genuinely want to know.
I’m sad that this is confusing :(
Mostly ‘cause it means that the awful transethnic people have been doing too good of a job in appropriating the term and co-opting trans narratives.
First. Transethnic was (before this recent fad) used to describe the experiences of PoC who have been adopted by white families. It is theirword. Which should also make it very clear how and why it is massivelydifferent of an experience than being transgender.
Second. Now that the term is being appropriated by a group of white people who claim to be a different race, often using language that invokes and co-opts and abuses transgender narratives, this is likely where your confusion comes from.
Simply put: race and gender do not work in similar ways. At all. They serve different purposes.
White people invented race as a means to justify stealing and murdering and colonizing PoC.
Gender is something that exists in most cultures, as close to being a universal trait of human life.
When we say that gender is socially constructed and that race is socially constructed (which is were this false equivalency comes from in the first place) we are not talking about the same thing.
Race only — now and forever — serves white supremacy. Which is why it is sooo disgusting for white people to, after stealing and murdering us for so many years, try to colonize ‘Asian’ (like in that recent reblog ). When ‘Asian’ is something white people made up in the first place to deny our humanity and occupy our countries.
Gender doesn’t work like that.
It is also interesting, no? that only white people ever claim to be transethnic but gender has always been plural and of great diversity in many cultures?
Anyway. This is my vague and disorganized explanation for why they aren’t the same thing. And never will be.
This is the most succinct explanation I’ve read on the subject thus far. Thank you.
It was obvious to me from my first erotic dream at the tender age of seven. From that first secret and shameful stirring deep within my lower body, I knew that I was destined to be an easy lay. And it must have been obvious, though perhaps a little later, to my peers as well. I was fourteen years old the first time one of my classmates called me a “gay cocksucking [sic] whore.” This would become a trend amongst my friends and acquaintances over the next half-decade: from the barrage of anonymous internet insults in the tenth grade to the random man last week who grabbed my ass and attempted to pull me into an alley, it seems that my sexual availability is common knowledge to the wide world.
So if I am such a slut – if this Asian, transgendered, feminine body of mine is such an easy mark – why is it so dang hard to get laid in this town?
There is no shortage, of course, of men on the streets, in clubs, bars, and grocery stores, who, alerted by the swish of my skirt or the sheen of my lipstick that I am “that kind of boy,” catcall from their cars at night and leer at my legs as I pass by. On any given weekend, I can don a tank top and tight jeans, go to Unity, and shimmy my hips for a few hours until a white man approaches me and says, “Ni hao, I love Chinese boys, and by the way are you a bottom?” But if what I am looking for is a liaison of the flesh that also respects my mind, body, and choices, I had better prepare my heart for a long and lonely hunt.
For most of my life, I did not know the difference between sexual objectification and sexual intimacy. I believed that being valued or loved meant the same thing as being fuckable, and as an Asian boy-child who wanted to be a girl, I knew that my body was less lovable by far than those of the beautiful white men I fantasized about. (How many times have I heard those fateful words: “I’m sorry, I’m just not into Asians?” How many Craigslist ads and dating site profiles proclaim: “No femmes, no fats, no Asians or Blacks?”)
Yet these men who move so easily and fearlessly through the sexual realm are not sluts. Their bodies – white, cisgendered, born with all the physical abilities that society favours, masculine, valued above all things – are not construed as something constructed for the pleasure of others, that can be bought and sold, summoned, or dismissed at a whim. No, the body of the slut is feminized and racialized; the slut’s face is the face that dares to gaze back without deference at the judgement of a world that deems it ugly, unlovable, devalued below all things.
Marginalized peoples are not meant to have access to sexual capital – we are not allowed to take pleasure in other people’s bodies, or in our own. If we are of colour, then we had better not presume to make love to whites – except to please them. If we are queer, we dare not desire straight bodies. And if we are women, we should not want to make love at all. In being combinations of these identities, our access to sexual pleasure, to that blurry line between objectification and intimacy, diminishes ever more.
It is in the wanting that we become sluts. It is our desire, even our capacity for desire – that secret-shameful stirring deep in our bodies – that threatens the hierarchy that keeps our bodies enslaved in sex. In surviving rape, in showing pride in our beauty, in wanting to be lovable and fuckable and everything in between, we challenge the domination of those who hold the keys to sexual power. And so we are insulted, assaulted, leered at on the streets and dragged into alleyways. Beaten down that we might submit once more.
I can be only what I am destined to be: an Asian man who dresses and has sex like a woman. Who wants sex, fears it, who still searches long and lonely nights for that hook-up, affair, relationship, in which I can be whole. It isn’t easy. It never is. Still, I want it. Still, I search.
Ryan Thom’s Memoirs of a Gaysian is a column about life, love, and intersectional oppression. Ryan is a writer, performance artist, and lifelong slut. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: (McGill Daily)
KOKUMO on Original Plumbing!
KOKUMO is a trans artist, advocate, and all-around amazing person. She is the founder of KOKUMOMEDIA and TGIF, the Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Intersex Festival for Youth of Color and their allies.
Photography by Kiam Marcelo Junio, 2012
Mister Junior, 2012
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photography by Kiam Marcelo Junio
This weekend, my dear friend Alberto / Mister Junior was assaulted, robbed, and left bloody and unconscious in an alley near Wrigleyville and Boystown. Words can’t express my fear, sadness, and anger over this terrible situation, but I am glad that despite the hateful act he has experienced, Mister Junior is alive and well, recovering and continuing to love others.
S. Bear Bergman, 2006
Butches are always tops, they always fuck the girls and for that matter their partners are always girls; there is no such thing as a butch who is attracted to men. Well, transmen, but that’s just butch-on-butch repackaged as faggotry. But no non-trans-men. Unless the butch in question is a non-trans-man, then it’s okay. Except that non-transmen cannot be butches, because butch is a queering of gender that assigned-male people cannot embody, unless they occasionally can, in which case they have to be gay men. Or the partners of femmes. Or not. But no one with an assigned-female body can be a butch and do it with assigned-male men. Unless they’re femmes. Or butches. I’m really putting my foot down on this one.
I know what butch is, and butches definitely, absolutely, do not get fucked, even if it feels so good to have someone slide in sweet and hard and rock them just right. They might eat pussy but they never suck cock, because licking pussy is chivalry without pants and of course any butch would want to do anything to please the femme in hir life, if there is a femme. Which there has to be, in order to be a true butch, except if there does not have to be but you cannot be a misogynist about it either, which a lack of interest in femmes and their attendant delights may be read as, if there is a lack which there shouldn’t be. But anyway cocksucking is about ownership and dominance, so butches must always be the ones having their cocks sucked, unless the owner of the cock being sucked by a butch is tied to something, but if a butch was tying down someone with a cock of some variety then the above rule would quite likely be violated, and I think I’ve been very clear about that so never mind.
"I believe that Prides are superfluous. Because for me, we already are proud. We woke up this morning proud; we stepped out of our house this morning proud, but we don’t always go around this world powerful, and that’s what I’m here to do. I’m not here to let people know I’m proud. I’m her to remind people that I’m powerful."
Photography by Kiam Marcelo Junio
READ THE INTERVIEW! It’s very informative, well-articulated, and thought-provoking.
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We’re approaching the end of the runway for Chicago IRL #4’s telethon with less than 69 sensual hours to go! We’ve got a few exciting last minute additions.
*All levels at $12 and above include the fourth issue. This is the best way to pre-order a copy! Orders made after the Kickstarter won’t have such an exciting set of bonus options to choose from.
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BLESSED ARE THE BOI DYKES
BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE OF COLOR MY BELOVED KITH AND KIN
BLESSED ARE THE TRANS
BLESSED ARE THE HIGH FEMMES
BLESSED ARE THE SEX WORKERS
BLESSED ARE THE AUTHENTIC
BLESSED ARE THE DIS-IDENTIFIERS
BLESSED ARE THE GENDER ILLUSIONISTS
BLESSED ARE THE NON-NORMATIVE
BLESSED ARE THE GENDERQUEERS
BLESSED ARE THE KINKSTERS
BLESSED ARE THE DISABLED
BLESSED ARE THE HOT FAT GIRLS
BLESSED ARE THE WEIRDO-QUEERS
BLESSED IS THE SPECTRUM
BLESSED IS CONSENT
BLESSED IS RESPECT
BLESSED ARE THE BELOVED WHO I DIDN’T DESCRIBE, I COULDN’T DESCRIBE, WILL LEARN TO DESCRIBE AND RESPECT AND LOVE