Living Semi-Stealth. Sort of.

16 03 2011

OK, so the whole posting every week thing lasted a grand 2 months. Not out of lack of things to say, just out of a lack of energy. As some of you know, I’m in the midst of doctoral research in a small community in Northern Quebec. Lately, I’ve been more and more involved in the community and have very little time to myself. And the little time I do have I (mostly unsuccessfully) try to keep as Jacky self-care time.

But I thought I would drop a line about how interesting it has been living “semi-stealth.” Back home, everyone who knows me knows that I’m trans. For the most part, it’s because they knew me before. But even knew people that I meet find out soon enough because I frequently like to joke around about “that time when I was in the girl scouts” or “when I was in labour” and so forth. Also, most new people I meet are some flavour of queer, or close enough, so that transngess and GQness is something that is pretty usual to talk about.

Living in a small community where there are few queers and where those who are queer tend to stay fairly quiet about it, it’s not something that has come up very often. People that knew me from prior visits know but, since they didn’t see me through the transition, memories of Nancy are far back enough to be somewhat irrelevant to them. An exception is a former lover who doesn’t really want to communicate too much out of discomfort because “OH MY GOD he had sex with a woman who then became a man, does that make him GAY?!?!” But I knew that this was going to happen before I transitioned, and I decided to transition anyway. I loved him, and still do, but chose self love over his love. So his reaction doesn’t really phase me. Other than that, my son, as always, calls me Mommy, which leads to some confusion, but most people have simply taken it in stride. The few people I’ve come out to, because it just came up, have taken it in stride as well. So…no big deal really.

Now, I don’t really care if people know. But since I don’t bring it up unless it comes up (like if someone actually asks me why my son calls me “Mommy” or the time someone actually mentioned a film by one of my trans idols, Lazlo Pearlman), I don’t wind up bringing it up very often. So most people in town believe that that A) I’m a guy, through and through – as opposed to a blend, which is how I actually feel and identify with people that matter – and that B) I’ve always been one. It’s a strange feeling for me, because I’m not into being stealth at all and I’m not used to people just assuming that I was once a little boy.

I am quite surprised that gossip hasn’t gotten around more…or maybe it has. Two of my students were conversing in their own language one time and I heard the term “sex change” pass between them but they didn’t look at me. So it might be that there have been rumours, but since people (students, their parents, colleagues) like me well enough, it didn’t wind up mattering.

Who knows. I still have a few months left here so all kinds of things could happen in the meantime. We’ll see.


 






We need to keep fighting! Bill C-389

15 02 2011

I strongly urge all readers who are residents of Canada to check out this link.

It contains a sample letter and an easy “copy-pastable” list of Canadian senators who will soon be deciding the fate of Bill C-389. If you didn’t already know, this bill would ensure rights for trans people in Canada by adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian charter of human rights. (More on this issue here.) You are free to write your own letter of course but if time is short and words fail you, 2 minutes of your time is all it takes to copy and paste this sample letter and list of senators into your email and click send.

Right now, the people who have the government’s ears are the extreme right-wing nuts who think that all trans people are pedophiles out to get into the showers of little girls. So if we don’t speak up “en masse,” this bill will die and who knows if trans people will have official rights in Canada any time in the next 50 years.

Thanks in advance for any little thing you can do to help!





Bill C-389 passes third reading in Canada’s House of Commons

9 02 2011

Bill C-389, a private member’s bill by NDP MP Bill Siksay, has just passed third reading in Canada’s House of Commons. The vote was 143 in favor and 135 against. This is very exciting news as the only step left for this bill is to be approved by the senate. For the people who have been working hard to get this bill passed, including Bill Siksay, Matt McLauchlin and I’m sure many others, this has been a stressful time since the current leadership is aiming for spring elections. According to my limited understanding, if the bill does not go through the whole process before the next election, it dies. Then we would have to start all over again.

If it does go through, then trans people of all flavours of trans should be protected by law in Canada. Will this fix everything? Probably not. Same sex marriage (not gay marriage, since being married to a person of the same sex would not make a bi person gay, thank you very much) has been legal in Canada for years now and yet there is still homophobia. So it would stand to reason that making discrimination against people based on gender identity and gender expression illegal would not eliminate transphobia.

And even if transphobia gradually declines over time, we have to remember that trans people of colour, First Nations trans people (some of whom might identify as Two-Spirit individuals,) trans people with disabilities, trans people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, trans people without status, trans people with an intersex experience,  trans sex workers and elderly trans people will still be targets of marginalisation and discrimination. If we truly want equal access to dignity and well-being for all trans people, we need to keep in mind that we have to work against ALL forms of oppression.

Bill C-389 is a step in the right direction for sure but it is not the end of the struggle against oppression. It is certainly worth celebrating its progress, however, and worth applauding the efforts of the people who worked hard to get this bill through. My warmest thanks goes out to them as well as a pledge to continue to work against oppression at the sides of all those who want to help shape a society that is anti-oppression.





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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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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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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Transition and non-binary identities

2 01 2011

S.E. Smith over at This Ain’t Livin’ wrote something that hits very close to home for me (and I’m betting for a lot of people in my social circle):

One very widespread perception about nonbinary people is that we don’t need to transition. Nothing could be further from the truth. While every nonbinary person is different and not all of us need or want to transition, some of us do, and we cannot access support for transitioning without lying and prevaricating; to transition, we need to lie about our gender, because transition for nonbinary people is not recognised. As a result, those of us who want access to medical transition, to hormones and surgery, must pretend that we are binary and must be able to do so effectively enough to be ‘approved’ by the gatekeepers.

In the early stages of my transition, I remember reading very scary accounts by trans people where they were denied letters approving hormone replacement therapy by their psychologists because they weren’t able to demonstrate that they were “woman” or “man” enough to warrant medical transition. I heard of trans sisters who were bluntly told that they weren’t “feminine” because they always wore pants and no make-up and of trans brothers who were denied because they were attracted to men. I also read about all the lines one should feed the therapist to “prove” that they adhered to their chosen gender identity so that they could get their HRT letter. In addition to proving that they conformed to their chosen gender, the idea was also to prove that one was in a horrible amount of distress and needed to be “cured.”

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