Category Archives: Queer

Autostraddle

The other day I discovered a blog about “girl-on-girl culture” which made me laugh and also incredibly excited. This blog is definitely one of the most comprehensive lesbian blogs that covers pop culture, politics, contemporary news, and also has video.

Definitely check it out if you haven’t heard of it before: http://www.autostraddle.com/

The writers also include round-tables where they took about up-to-date feminist topics and also about self-identity (current round table is on intersectionality)

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Filed under Education, Feminism, gender, glbtq, politics, Pop Culture, Queer, Sexuality

Vogue (dance)

Introduction

While I was in Philadelphia for the summer, I went to a Ball with my friend. At first, I had no idea what Ballroom was until I heard of the movie Paris is Burning. After I watched Paris is Burning, I wanted to learn more about voguing, which is what they do at a Ball. You might never have heard of Balls or voguing, but now you will know about the history if you haven’t heard of Willi Ninja.

History of Voguing

Since I don’t know that much about voguing, I’m going to refer to my favorite site wikipedia and give you some background information:

Vogue is a form of modern dance characterized by photo model like poses integrated with angular, linear and rigid arm, leg and body movements. The style of dance arose from the Harlem ballrooms back in the early 1930s, which was then called “performance” and evolved into the more intricate and illusory form that is now called “vogue”.

There are two distinct styles of vogue: Old Way (pre-1990) and New Way. Old Way is characterized by formation of lines, symmetry, precision in the execution of such formations and graceful, fluid like action. New Way is characterized by a more rigid, geometric pattern movement coupled with “clicks” (limb contortions at the joints) and “arms control” (sleight of hand and wrist illusions). Vogue also encompasses other forms of dance and movement, namely modern jazz, ballet, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, martial arts, breakdance, yoga, etc. Some dance historians even point out that breakdance and vogue evolved out of each other, with artists from both sides interacting with each other in New York City’s Central Park, West Side Piers, Harlem and Washington Square Park during the 70s and early 80s.

Voguing has evolved since its beginning and continues to be developed further as an established dance form that is practiced in gay dance clubs in New York, and other big cities throughout the United States–mainly Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami and Chicago.

Though voguing usually takes place in gay clubs frequented by African Americans and Latin American males, it is also practiced by a small number of non-gay individuals and outside of the club scene. Formal competitions occur in the form of balls held by houses or collectives of dancers and performers.

Some influential houses include the House of Xtravaganza, the House of Revlon, the House of Ninja, the House of Infiniti, the House of Aviance and the House of Milan” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogue_(dance)).

Paris is Burning

To learn more about voguing, you should definitely watch the movie Paris is Burning. Its a documentary (I know, boring) and in the end you want to try the dance moves yourself or check out a ball late at night.

Here is a synopsis: “Paris Is Burning is a 1990 documentary film directed by Jennie Livingston. Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the poor, African American and Latino gay and transgendered community involved in it. Many consider Paris Is Burning to be an invaluable documentary of the end of the “Golden Age” of New York City drag balls, as well as a thoughtful exploration of race, class, and gender in America”

Conclusion

While I was in Philadelphia, I went to a glbtq youth center and saw kids practicing for a ball. It made me happy because I knew what it meant. A Ball was created and has survived as an outlet, a dance outlet, for people to survive through homophobia, racism, and poverty. I knew how it felt because dancing is when I can forget, feel like I am above, in ecstacy. Voguing is both a legacy and a party.

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A Town in Oregon Elects the First Openly Transgender Mayor: Stu Rasmussen

Introduction

How exciting is this? Right after the election was over and Obama (yes!) became the President-elect this article was sent out to one of the listserves I belong to at school. Oregon elected its first trangender mayor: Stu Rasmussen. Stu, according to the article, identifies as a straight man and enjoys dressing up in high heels, a dress, and a wig from time to time.

The Article and Important Quotes

The article covers questions that the news and electors has about Stu. You can read the whole article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/09/americas-first-transgende_n_142503.html

“Rasmussen has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been mayor of the small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before his breast implants and before the once-discreet crossdresser started wearing dresses and 3-inch heels in public.”

Also, another quote from the article:

“I am a dude,” he said. “I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female.”

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.

Conclusion

Basically this means a change in politics (hopefully…) and I hope that it keeps going on this path for all of the glbtq community. Obama has not spoken much about glbtq issues, though he did not support prop 8, but I still have my dreams set on the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) winning in the end.

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Pregnant Transgender Man

Introduction

A transgender FTM (female to male), Thomas Beatie, from Bend, Oregon, has recently claimed that he is pregnant and the baby was due on July 3. His claim lead to reporters requesting interviews and talk shows wanting to see his bursting belly. Some of the articles on it can be viewed below.

Below is an excerpt about Thomas from the original article written about him in Advocate that he narrates:

From The Advocate March 26, 2008

Labor of Love

“To our neighbors, my wife, Nancy, and I don’t appear in the least unusual. To those in the quiet Oregon community where we live, we are viewed just as we are — a happy couple deeply in love. Our desire to work hard, buy our first home, and start a family was nothing out of the ordinary. That is, until we decided that I would carry our child.” (http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid52947.asp)

History and Controversy

“However, a “man” becoming pregnant is not new. Trans man Matt Rice gave birth to a baby boy in 1999, and his trans man partner, Patrick Califia, later told Village Voice magazine about his toddler son who “shrieks with delight at the sight of the tortoiseshell cat”. Straight neighbours were “pretty sweet” about it, he wrote. “The only people who have gotten upset are a handful of straight-identified homophobic FTMs [female-to-male transgender people] online who started calling Matt by his girl name, because real men don’t get pregnant.”

The fact that even other transsexuals react with hostility reveals the levels of unease and prejudice a pregnant man can face. A common reaction is to wonder how someone can identify themselves as male and yet embrace pregnancy. “That’s like saying you can’t be a woman and have a career,” says Christine Burns, a trans woman and equality and diversity specialist. “The irony is we’ve had a debate in feminism about the idea that if men were able to have children we would be in a very different position and yet when it happens there is enormous fear.”

Lewis Turner, vice president of trans campaigning group Press for Change, says that having a male gender identity does not prevent you wanting to bear children. “As a trans man myself I wouldn’t ever dream of getting pregnant. But I think Thomas Beatie identifies himself as male as much as I do and he just wants to reproduce.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/mar/28/familyandrelationships.healthandwellbeing)

“” When I finally got pregnant for the first time, I ended up having an ectopic pregnancy with triplets. It was a life-threatening event that required surgical intervention, resulting in the loss of all embryos and my right fallopian tube.

It was a life-threatening event that required surgical intervention, resulting in the loss of all embryos and my right fallopian tube,” Beatie said. “When my brother found out about my loss, he said, ‘It’s a good thing that happened. Who knows what kind of monster it would have been.’”Beatie told the magazine the couple had begun experiencing anger from people offended by their decision.

“Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs. Health care professionals have refused to call me by a male pronoun or recognize Nancy as my wife,” Beatie said. “Receptionists have laughed at us. Friends and family have been unsupportive; most of Nancy’s family doesn’t even know I’m transgender.” (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,341595,00.html)

See the Baby

If you want to see the baby follow this link: http://exploringintimacy.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/pictures-of-the-pregnant-mans-baby-girl/

Articles

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4526582 (video is included and some of the doubts of Bend, controvery, etc)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/mar/28/familyandrelationships.healthandwellbeing (addresses gender ambiguity and the trouble a child may face in society with transgendered parents)

http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid52947.asp (original story in the Advocate about Thomas)

http://mediamatters.org/items/200804040008 (Bill O’Reilly talking about Thomas and Bill saying “You imagine a poor kid getting born into that family going, ‘Hey… whoa. Who are you today?’ “…read on…says Oprah will definitely deal with it)

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,341595,00.html

Conclusion

Thomas was not the first to do this, but he got a lot of media attention. This may be a step forward in society for every sexuality. Gender does not play a part in having a child, but anatomy apparently does. As a blogger pointed out, it is yet to be published in the media that someone with “male” anatomy has given birth, though the movie Junior with Arnold Schwarzenegger bridges the subject. Who knows…maybe one day men will develop the anatomy to give birth and give women a rest.

Thomas is my hero for the day. He is strong and incredibly brave to be different and one of the few who showed his belly. Go you Thomas and may you pave the way for others in light of your courage. Thank you for all that you do. This is for you.

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Affectional Orientation

Introduction

“Affectional orientation (or romantic orientation) is used both alternatively and side-by-side with sexual orientation. [1] It is based on the perspective that sexual attraction is but a single component of a larger dynamic. To holders of this view, one’s orientation is defined by whom one is predisposed to fall in love with, whether or not one desires that person sexually. Lately, the predominant use of the term “sexual orientation” is considered to reduce a whole category of desires and emotions, as well as power and connection, to sex.

The term affectional orientation is also used by those who consider themselves asexual and only experience mental, emotional, physical (i.e. sensual, tactile), and/or aesthetic attraction(s). The terms used for different affectional orientations are often the same as those for sexual orientations; though “homoromantic,” “biromantic,” “heteroromantic,” and “aromantic” have gained some popularity. Asexuals sometimes incorporate colloquial terms to describe both the romantic and sexual components of their orientation (e.g. gay-asexual, bi-asexual, and straight-asexual).

There are also those who hold the view that one’s orientation is defined by whom one has affection for and that their sexual attraction (or “drive”, perhaps more appropriately) is dependent upon affection for another human being’s personal qualities, regardless of their sex, gender or even outward appearance altogether. This use of the term does not require falling in love but is still based on a personal affection. One might now consider the phrase “conditional sexual attraction” to describe the experience of those who are otherwise asexual, as opposed to “primary sexual attraction” used to describe people who are “sexual”. ” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affectional_orientation)

Criticism

See the website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affectional_orientation

It talks about how this term is more applicable to describe those who have complicated desires, basically something that can not be summarized by bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual. Sexuality is not simply about sex, which our culture has begun to combine with love, but a combination of many factors that can not be simply understood by labels.

Note

This term is important to consider for people who are transitioning and well, for anyone. American Society today is largely based on love intertwining with sex. Maybe we need to separate the two and see them as factors that influence each other, not as one entity.

Also, this can be an important argument for same-sex marriage if someone who is affectionate towards the same sex (someone who is trans, whatever the situation calls for) and usually finds themselves sexually attracted to the “opposite”, but is in a relationship with someone who, by society, is considered the same-sex, shouldn’t they have the right to get married? America would probably like to encourage monogamous and committed relationships (which marriage encourages, though maybe not…) and marriage sometimes has the ability to do this. I found this draft of an amendment that should be proposed:

Section I. Same-Sex Union

Whereas maintaining the public health requires that lifetime monogamous union be encouraged, and that promiscuity be discouraged, and

Whereas current laws regarding domestic partnership tend to undermine the institution of marriage,

Congress hereby encourages the States to create a legal status of same-gender union between two individuals with the same rights and priveleges as heterosexual marriage, and subject to the same laws regarding divorce. Congress further encourages the States to abolish all laws regarding domestic partnership without benefit of marriage.” (http://www.dogchurch.org/dogpac/gays.html)

Conclusion

Today, Sexuality is mostly thought of in terms of the two interlaced terms: love and sex. Affectional Orientation seems to make and insist that sexuality is more complicated, that love should not be just thrown in with sexuality because love involves a different desire. Maybe, and this is just a beginning, all of us are confused as to the difference between affection and sexual desire. The intention, the feeling behind something, is not always apparent, which is why, possibly, sexuality has been including both affectionate desire and sexual. If two friends kiss each other versus a couple, how is one to measure the difference except for the outcome?

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Being Intersexed: Resources

Introduction

Many people do not know what intersex means because it was commonly referred to in the past as being a hermaphrodite. Being intersexed is very in the closet because of the general belief in American society that gender fits into a binary. Being intersexed proves that gender is complicated, sex is complicated, and identity is complicated (as are many more things that influence being intersexed and anything in general).

I am not intersexed, I am not an expert, but I wish to distribute information. This is what I have found, encountered, believe, etc. I can not be expert advice, but I can be a start.

I highly recommend visited the ISNA website, whose acronym I explain below. It is an excellent resource and has been advocating for intersex rights ever since Cheryl Chase helped create it.

What is Intersex?

““Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.

Though we speak of intersex as an inborn condition, intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until she or he reaches the age of puberty, or finds himself an infertile adult, or dies of old age and is autopsied. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing.” (http://www.isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex)

To find out more about this, go to the ISNA’s website (which I will cover later in this post). They have a bunch of information, links, and recommendations.

What Intersex Condition do you have?

To find out what conditionmay fit to your genitalia, explore this website, but be sure to confirm with a clinician.

Intersex Conditions: http://www.isna.org/faq/conditions

How common is intersex?

“To answer this question in an uncontroversial way, you’d have to first get everyone to agree on what counts as intersex —and also to agree on what should count as strictly male or strictly female. That’s hard to do. How small does a penis have to be before it counts as intersex? Do you count “sex chromosome” anomalies as intersex if there’s no apparent external sexual ambiguity?1 (Alice Dreger explores this question in greater depth in her book Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex.)

Here’s what we do know: If you ask experts at medical centers how often a child is born so noticeably atypical in terms of genitalia that a specialist in sex differentiation is called in, the number comes out to about 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000 births. But a lot more people than that are born with subtler forms of sex anatomy variations, some of which won’t show up until later in life.

Below we provide a summary of statistics drawn from an article by Brown University researcher Anne Fausto-Sterling.2 The basis for that article was an extensive review of the medical literature from 1955 to 1998 aimed at producing numeric estimates for the frequency of sex variations. Note that the frequency of some of these conditions, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, differs for different populations. These statistics are approximations.

Not XX and not XY one in 1,666 births
Klinefelter (XXY) one in 1,000 births
Androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 13,000 births
Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome one in 130,000 births
Classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia one in 13,000 births
Late onset adrenal hyperplasia one in 66 individuals
Vaginal agenesis one in 6,000 births
Ovotestes one in 83,000 births
Idiopathic (no discernable medical cause) one in 110,000 births
Iatrogenic (caused by medical treatment, for instance progestin administered to pregnant mother) no estimate
5 alpha reductase deficiency no estimate
Mixed gonadal dysgenesis no estimate
Complete gonadal dysgenesis one in 150,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening in perineum or along penile shaft) one in 2,000 births
Hypospadias (urethral opening between corona and tip of glans penis) one in 770 births
Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female one in 100 births
Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance one or two in 1,000 births

1 Dreger, Alice Domurat. 1998. Ambiguous Sex—or Ambivalent Medicine? Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Intersexuality. Hastings Center Report, 28, 3: 24-35.

2 Blackless, Melanie, Anthony Charuvastra, Amanda Derryck, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Karl Lauzanne, and Ellen Lee. 2000. How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis. American Journal of Human Biology 12:151-166.

We were recently asked to update these frequency figures, and a lively discussion arose between two staff members.” (http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency)

The ISNA: Intersex Society of North America

The ISNA, as found on their website (by their mission statement) stand for:

“systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female.

We have learned from listening to individuals and families dealing with intersex that:

Click here to learn more about our agenda. With your help, we can make the world a safer place for families dealing with intersex conditions.” (http://www.isna.org/)

Doctors for the Intersexed

You can find this at this website: http://www.aissg.org/52_CLINICIANS.HTM

NOTE: This is only a start and from limited sources I found online and thus can be outdated. I would recommend getting in contact with someone from ISNA to talk about this or finding a support network in your area where you can feel safe in asking about a doctor who will provide you with safe service and make you feel comfortable.

What to do once you found out you are intersexed

Support groups:

http://www.isna.org/support

Find a doctor who can confirm hormonal/genetic difference: http://www.aissg.org/52_CLINICIANS.HTM

You may have a lot of questions, just discovered it yourself, and may feel overwhelmed. I do not recommend this website right away, but it is incredibly helpful and from what I have seen, considerate:

http://www.isna.org/faq

Excellent Resource: Sexing the Body by Anne-Fausto Sterling

Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. By Anne Fausto-Sterling. New York: Basic Books, 2000, 473 pages.

Spanish Translation: Cuerpos sexuados. Editorial Melusina: Barcelona, Spain, 2006.

“Professor Fausto-Sterling’s most recent work, entitled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, was published by Basic Books in February 2000. It examines the social nature of biological knowledge about animal and human sexuality.

Sexing the Body received the Distinguished Publication Award in 2001 by the Association for Women in Psychology. In 2000 it was chosen as one of the Outstanding Academic Books of 2000 by CHOICE Magazine, Published by the American Library Association. It was also co-winner of the Robert K Merton Award of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology.

From the back cover:

“Why do some people prefer heterosexual love while others fancy the same sex? Do women and men have different brains? Is sexual identity biologically determined or a product of social convention? In this brilliant and provocative book, the acclaimed author of Myths of Gender argues that the answers to these thorny questions lie as much in the realm of politics as they do in the world of science. Without pandering to the press or politics, Fausto-Sterling builds an entirely new framework for sexing the body-one that focuses solely on the individual.” (http://bms.brown.edu/faculty/f/afs/afs_publications_books.htm)

More books:

http://www.isna.org/books

Conclusion

I do not know much about the experience of being intersexed because I am not. I wish to increase the visibility of intersex while keeping people who identify as intersex safe. I hope that the gender binary begins to blur or that everyone can accept others differences. I hope this is a valuable resource and if you wish to hear more about this particular subject, feel free to contact me.

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