A vow

26 01 2011

Recently, I’ve been trying to educate myself about the realities of asexual people and intersex people. I’ve been writing and speaking about “LGBT” issues for a long time, and often more specifically about the B and T that directly affect me. Years ago, I adopted LGBT as a shorthand for all non-heteronormative and non-cis identities and in doing so, I’m increasinly aware that I’ve been guilty of contributing to the erasure of a whole bunch of other people.

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Elias takes the DEC to court – Please help!

24 01 2011

From my friend Elias:

Hi friends, community members and allies,

As some of you already know, I’ve been in a battle with the Registrar of Civil Status of Quebec over my legal sex designation for the past few months. There are many serious problems with this department, including arbitrary/inconsistent decisions due to bureaucrats interpreting articles 71 and 58 of the Quebec Civil Code however they want – therefore getting to decide what consists an appropriate sex change for trans men, getting to decide whether to add a first name to a birth certificate instead of granting an actual change of name to trans people, general ignorance about trans issues and surgeries, unwillingness to dialogue with the community and medical professionals, hostile attitudes towards trans people from some bureaucrats, long wait times, barriers for non-citizens, and more. It’s a serious nightmare.

I have undergone a bilateral mastectomy, am on hormones and have paperwork attesting that I meet the criteria for GID – I submitted all of that info to the department. I was initially refused a sex change on the grounds of not having undergone phalloplasty. I contested this in writing because it has already been established that they cannot ask it as a prerequisite. They then revised their decision to state that I could not be granted a sex change because I had not undergone a total hysterectomy – as I type this, it is mandatory for trans people to be surgically sterile to be granted a change of sex in Quebec.

I am now going to court to challenge the constitutionality of the Civil Code article that dictates what conditions must be met to access a change of sex. Coercing trans people into getting surgeries that they might not want (or cannot get) is a gross violation of our human rights, and and I have witnessed the devastating consequences that having mismatched paperwork can have for some trans people. It is necessary that compulsory sterilization be abolished in order to comply with the Canada and Quebec Charters and to insure that trans people are granted their full citizenship. This is an unprecedented opportunity for Quebec to amend it’s Civil Code to ensure that it doesn’t contradict itself by protecting against unwanted medical treatment while simultaneously enforcing compulsory surgical treatment against a segment of the population.

Despite the fact that my lawyer is doing this at a reduced rate, significant costs are being incurred. I am willing to put as much of my own money into this while it is ongoing, but my monetary resources are limited – it wouldn’t be possible for me to do this without some financial help. In addition to throwing a few fundraisers over the next year, I have set up a donation page at http://tiny.cc/eliasdeanfund in order to cover fees incurred on my behalf during litigation.  This case is important for our community and could change the grounds of legal sex recognition in Quebec – if you can afford to contribute, please consider doing so. I make a living as an artist, and donations of 25$ or more will get you an original drawing or a print of your choice.

The outpour of love and support I’ve been receiving has exceeded my wildest expectations – I wouldn’t have the strength to do this without you and I want to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have reached out to me. A website (www.eliasdeanchallenge.com) will be up shortly to provide updates about the case for those who are interested.

In love and solidarity,

Elias





Montreal Drag Show (featuring yours truly, among others)

20 01 2011

Any readers who are in the Montreal area will want to check out Puttin’ on the Dickz on Feb 4th or we 5th (or both!) This is the Dukes of Drag‘s 5 year anniversary and we sure do plan to celebrate in style ; )





What a drag: The evolution of Jack E. Dickinson, Part 2

18 01 2011

I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on drag performance for quite some time. As described here, performing as a drag king was a major step in my transition process. Well, at least my pre-transition process. So here is Part 2 of a series of posts describing the different stages of my “drag career” and how they were linked with my transition from “woman” to “gender blended woman” to “questioning” to “trans guy” to … whatever the hell I am now. I’ll be discussing how my drag and personal lives impacted each other and how doing drag went from leading me to question the very core of my identity to a way of expressing that core.

Read Part 1 here.

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During the following months (spring/summer 2006), Dirk Van Dyk, Nat King Pole and I started meeting up with some other people who were interested in creating a new drag king scene in Montreal.  Billy King and Mitch Mitcham were two of those people and we had Miss Eva Vavoom who helped with some organisational matters in addition to taking on female roles complementing our manly drag kings. We got together to hang out and have fun but we also discussed how we could get together to make plans for a Drag King takeover of Montreal! We set up a yahoo group so that we could more easily keep in touch, share information about gig opportunities and recruit new performers.

There were more performance opportunities at different venues in town, such as the August edition of the Meow Mix at which I performed a sexy cop and biker number with my then girlfriend, and a fundraiser for a local youth help organisation at Café Cléopâtre, a famous strip/drag club in Montreal’s Red Light District. A whole bunch of us wound up performing at another fundraiser for a burlesque troupe at an obscure dive called Cabaret Chez Clo-Clo on St-Hubert where we got to meet up with other “underground” performers, which was way cool.

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Tips for teaching kids about non-heteronormative sex

9 01 2011

I’ve observed that some parents who are open-minded about sexual diversity still struggle to talk to their children about non-hetero sexuality. From what I see, the typical pattern is to teach them about “normal” sex first, because it’s assumed that this will be unproblematic to the children, and to wait until the kids are older to broach the topics of lesbian and gay sex. Bisexuality doesn’t seem to even be on the radar very often (big surprise). And, unless there is a trans person in the family, I’m fairly sure that most children don’t even hear any related terms until they’re in high school. In this post, I’m addressing sexual orientation. Discussing trans issues with children will come in another post.

While the intention of parents is probably to avoid confusing children, this “waiting” approach may do more harm then good and may lead to more confusion in the long run. By waiting until children ask specifically about same-sex sexuality, chances are the children will be exposed to damaging stereotypes and prejudice before the parents have the change to teach them anything positive. For children who may eventually come to question their own sexual orientation, this may cause them unnecessary anguish since they will have internalised, at a tender age, that their own sexual desires are “abnormal” or taboo. For children who wind up being hetero, this may contribute to their maintenance of ideas that may lead them to exclude or even bully non-normative kids.

I’m not saying this is irreversible! I’m sure that parents can still contribute to changing homophobic in kids later on. Indeed, many queer activists and allies were raised in homophobic households or households where it just wasn’t discussed. But ultimately, if more and more children are raised to see sexual diversity as the norm, fewer and fewer children will grow up thinking that non-hetero relations are weird and taboo. Fewer and fewer people will feel awkward about introducing “that gay aunt or uncle” or “that bisexual cousin.”

I’m sure there are lots of tips out there in books and on the net. I have to admit I never read them. I just went with my own gut instincts when I started talking about sex to my son. I found that making same-sex sexuality “normal” was largely a question of deconstructing what sex was to start with. I eschewed the traditional “this is how babies” are made premise, which in and of itself excludes same-sex relations as “unnatural,” and favoured a definition of sex that had to do with sharing pleasure. I explained that sex is when people touch each other in a way that gives them pleasure but that it was different than the way parents and children touch each other (so that he wouldn’t think that cuddling with mommy or daddy on a couch was having sex.) I also told him that some people like to have sex with women, some like to have sex with men and some like to have sex with both. Finally, some people have sex with only one person and some have sex with more than one. For an initial discussion, I left it at that. He was only about 6 years old so I felt that was enough information for him to digest at that time.

Later on, he started asking questions about more specific sex acts. I would answer those and give a bit more information. I always made sure to include all gender combinations. For example, when he asked me how babies got into a mother’s belly, I explained that often, a man puts his penis in her vagina and sperm comes out, which mixes with an egg she had in her belly and make a baby. But I also told him that sometimes people choose to get sperm from a place that stores it and they get it placed in their medically, or that they can mix a sperm and egg together outside the woman’s belly and then put it in so that it will grow in the belly. This is an option for women who want to have a baby without a man because they love women or because they want to raise a child themselves. I also told him that some people, like me, went from being girls to being boys, but since they still had girl parts inside their bellies, they could sometimes still have babies. So even some boys can be mommies. Like his (although I gave birth years before transition).

When he accidentally spotted a picture of a woman licking a man’s penis, he asked me why she was doing that. I explained that it’s one thing some people like to do when they’re having sex. Then he asked me if some people lick vulvas. I said yes, some people do. There are all kinds of body parts that people like to lick. Now, some might argue that this knowledge is too graffic for a 10 year old. But if it’s OK for a 10 year old to know that men put penises inside women’s vagina’s, why is it not OK to know that some people lick each others vulva’s, penises, butts, breasts or whatever?

Bottom line: I want my son to internalise the idea that sex is not automatically about making babies and that having babies does not have to involve sex. This dislodges heterosexuality is THE norm, an idea that is propagated by the hegemonic link between sex and reproduction of the species. Emphasising diversity also makes it clear that same-sex sexuality does not threaten heterosexuality and is not a hindrance to reproduction.

Of course, exposure works miracles as well. My son has grown up knowing people of all sexual orientations. He’s seen me kiss women when I was a woman, he knows that his uncle is practically married to his male partner, he’s seen men hold hands with men and women hold hands with women. So deeply is it internalised that all this is “normal” that when he saw a female friend with another woman, he asked her if that was her girlfriend.

Now, he’s already expressed that he likes girls better. And he does have an eye for women in bikinis as some friends will attest to. On the other hand, he kissed a boy on the mouth when he was in kindergarden. Regardless of his own orientation, I’m fairly sure that he will see all kinds of relationships as legitimate and worthy of respect, which is what I want. Of course, this is an ongoing project. He’s not in high school yet and I’m sure I’ll have to keep an eye out for things he picks up there. I’ll also have to keep countering media imagery that is counter to the ideals of inclusion. But I feel that he at least has a basis.

So what are YOUR tips for explaining sexual diversity to kids? What do you do to counter homophobic stuff they wind up learning at school? If you decided later on in your kids’ lives to start talking about it, what was your approach? What worked and what didn’t? What would you recommend to parents who are just starting to think and talk about sexual diversity?





What a drag: The evolution of Jack E. Dickinson, Part 1

8 01 2011

I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on drag performance for quite some time. As described here, performing as a drag king was a major step in my transition process. And it continues to be a significant means through which I explore my own gender and the very concept of gender. So here Part 1 of a series of posts describing the different stages of my “drag career” and how they were linked with my transition from “woman” to “gender blended woman” to “questionning” to “trans guy” to … whatever the hell I am now. I’ll be discussing how my drag and personal lives impacted each other and how doing drag went from leading me to question the very core of my identity to a way of expressing that core.

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It was in 2004, or thereabouts, that I started putting serious thought into performing as a drag king. I had done some amateur theatre and I loved the stage. In addition, I was beginning to explore an identity as a “gender blended” woman (I hadn’t encountered the term “genderqueer” yet) and I thought that being a drag king would be an awesome way to explore and express this.It was also around that time that I started to go out in drag from time to time, especially when hanging around with my bi friends (that I made in the course of my involvement with a local bi group called Bi Unité Montréal). I learned to pack, bind and create a beard thanks to websites and tips from a mailing list for kinky queer women in Montreal.

So, a good 2 years before hitting the stage, I would sit at home drinking beer or wine, practicing making a beard and putting together drag king numbers in my head. The first number I thought about was Hair, from the movie musical. I wanted to celebrate the masculine aspect of long hair. Hair was a big issue at this point in my personal identity. I had almost always had long hair up until then. While it often served to get me labeled as “femme” in the dyke community, no matter what I was wearing (!), I had always felt that my long, straight, rocker hair was one of the things susceptible to giving away my “masculine” essence. As a metal head, my hair connected me to my roots (ha!) as a headbanger. The song “Hair” represented this well for me.

I also wanted to do “I Need a Hero.”  This was to be a theatrical piece which I won’t give away since I haven’t wound up doing it ….YET ; ) Finally, I had an idea about creating a theatrical piece around “Aline,” a classic French song about a guy who had lost his lover. In spite of the drama, it would be humourous.

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Why I will go out of town for top surgery

7 01 2011

Trigger warning: fatphobic and classist incident.

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