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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Creative inclusive discussion spaces

1 01 2011

In my previous post, I ended by mentionning the problems involved in mixed gender spaces such as conferences or discussion groups. This was in response to Tarald‘s post in which he described:

a pre-meeting where the women had a brief seminar in taking up space, being vocal and proud, while the men sat down to discuss how we could leave some space for the women, how not to use our male privilege etc.

Last year, during and after a seminar on feminism at which many queer and trans women and men were present, we had this
sort of discussion.  An idea that came up and is apparently in use at woman-centered conferences, is a seperate mic for women and men to respond to a conference presentation or in a group discussion.

I have mixed feelings about this. Having been socialised as female, I know damn well that it is part of female socialisation to shut up and wait to be spoken to, to not take up too much space, etc. And having been to many mixed events where no effort was made to parry this inequality, I also know damn well that it tends to be men who monopolise the discussion. However, I’m a bit wary of
such a cut and dry method. For one thing, it maintains the idea that all women are the same and that all men are the same. It does little to encourage the shyer women from taking space relative to the more vocal women. And it also doesn’t really, I think, encourage men to actually think about their privilege.

So I spent some time thinking about other ways to foster inclusion and to encourage more people to speak up. Here are some of the tools I thought could be useful.

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Privilege and being taken seriously

30 12 2010

Tarald recently wrote an awesome post that I can really relate to. Tarald writes:

I like being the underdog and the outsider. But now it seems like I’m being forced out of this comfort zone of mine. I am not used to being a person of any significance, but now it happens that I am forced to realize that I am, in some contexts, that is.

And:

And then there is the thing about male privilege. I don’t like it. And at the same time I have acted as if I had it most of my life. Being percieved as a girl, this behavior only seemed charming, in a “feminist statement” kind of  way. It was never taken serious, and had a taste of irony attached. Now that I am recognized as male most of the time, this same behavior makes me seem like a dickhead, just like any other man using his privilege.

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It’s just that . . .

27 08 2009

It’s just that I don’t see myself as, or feel like a man independently of my female past. I had to be female to be male. And my present maleness accentuates, rather than hides, the female  . . .at least according to my inner eye.

Anytime I ever tried to cut one part off, the other part would suffer. Not that I have a discernible male part and a female part that complement each other. Rather, fe/male is intertwined within me. There is no way to cut male or female out and leave the rest because there would be no rest.

Living as male, as in physically presenting as a guy, makes me feel good. My body likes it and my brain likes it. I feel more balanced. But there is woman interfused within all that is male about me.

I look at my hands and they are fe/male hands.

I look at my face in the mirror – delicate laughing eyes with a dark history, soft skin, beard – and it is fe/male.

I look at my chest with the breasts and the hair and it is fe/male.

I look at my cunt and it is fe/male.

My drive comes from the female. My balance comes from the male. My power comes from the blend.

I choose to live as male for now and I like it because I sometimes go on stage as female, or fe/male.

But, who knows, maybe someday I will just go out into the world as fe/male . . . a fe/male who’s lived both lives.





A Rant

7 05 2009

Please note: I don’t want advice. I don’t want to be told that I shouldn’t feel this way. I don’t want to be told how I should feel. So if that’s what your reflex is, please abstain from the comments.

I just want to rant to sympathetic ears (eyes?). If you can relate and share in the ranting, by all means. But I don’t want to be rational right now so no advice.

I can’t rant about this on Facebook. Too many people from work on there and some of them are the ones I’m ranting about. I really doubt that any of them read this blog . . .well, I know one does on occasion because he’s mentioned it but he’s not included in the rant because he’s gotten it right from the beginning.

So, on the surface, everything is great at work with regards to my transition. Everyone accepted me, no one gave me a hard time, it was all love and rainbows. A bunch of co-workers even came ot my transition party. So, no harassment, no discrimination. One colleague even said that he thought that it was cool that if anyone in our department did manifest problems with what I am doing, they would be the one to be ostracised. Yes. What a nice, progressive lot.

And, yeah, it’s true that I really can’t complain about that overall vibes.

But.

Fuck.

After ALL this time, when are they going to get the damn pronouns right?!? I was patient for a long time. And lots of them do get it right. In many cases, I don’t know because I’m not there if people refer to me in conversation about work related things. When I’m not there to glare as mistakes, do they even correct themselves if they say “she”?

Anyway, what set this off? I got “she”d by three different co-workers today. Three. 3. Trois. Drei.

In one case, the person corrected herself immediately and moved on. Good move.

In another case, the person corrected himself after I gave him a look of death and said: “What?!?!” But I got that look of “Whatever, it’s not such a big deal, just deal with it.”

In yet another case, the person said “she” to a person I had just met, a relatively new employee who, undoubtedly had read me as male until that moment as 100% of people that I meet have been doing for MONTHS now. Can you say confusion and in need of explanation now?

That’s the thing. When they screw up and I point it out, they don’t even understand why it’s important. I’m the one who is seen as making a big deal out of it but they don’t even realise, or want to it seems, that it’s like they just stuck a knife in my chest, knocking the wind right out of me with their lack of recognition of my gender. And it’s even worse when it comes from someone that I had considered a friend. Someone who has always claimed to “get” me.

Well, if you get me so much, how can you not get that it IS a big deal when you consistently verbalise an identity that is no longer mine, by the same token demonstrating that you can’t see me for who I am?

Why do you NOT get that you complicate my life in relation to new people when you “out” me and force me to have to explain to the new person who I am? When you remove my power to disclose to new people when I see fit?

We, trans folk, are told all the time that we take it too personally when people screw up our pronouns. Most of us are understanding in the beginning, though. And yet after over a year, when people still screw up, you start to wonder.

I understood that when I still had a delicate girly face and a girly voice it was hard to read me as male. I was patient. I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

But christ, I have a fucking beard now. I have a deeper voice. My chest is bound so tight that sometimes it’s hard to breathe. I go through all this shit with the chest binding so that I can present myself to the world in a way that concords with who I feel I am and I’m the one that is taking it too personally, being impatient and making a big deal out of nothing?

In response to that I say FUCK YOU. You’re the one that is losing the privilege of knowing who I am. And I say privilege not because I think I’m any more special than anyone else but because I know that I’m as special as anyone else and that I have a lot to contribute to the lives of people that take the time to know me for who I am.

REMINDER of opening disclaimer:

I don’t want advice. I don’t want to be told that I shouldn’t feel this way. I don’t want to be told how I should feel. So if that’s what your reflex is, please abstain from the comments.





There’s nothing special about being a guy

11 03 2009

Back when I first start alluded to the fact that I was seriously thinking of sexual transition to a colleaugue/friend of mine, his reaction was: “What’s so great about being a guy?” We’ve talked a lot in the meantime and he gets it now, but I know there are people who assume that people who transition do it because they think there is something “better” about being of a particular sex.

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I was never a tomboy

15 05 2008

When I read trans-related stuff, I often read things like: “Of course, I was more interested in (insert opposite-sex related activities here) than in (insert socially approved gendered activities here).” So, for example, many FTMs will comment about how they preferred climbing trees than playing house and many MTFs will comment about how they preferred wearing dresses rather than pants.

That’s fine. I can remember playing with Matchbox cars (I had a little carrying case for them!!) and toy trucks instead of dolls.

What bothers me is the “Of course . . . ” part of those statements, as if it went without saying that a gender variant person would have adopted all the attributes of the “opposite sex” in childhood. Yes, I played with cars and trucks and I didn’t like dolls. But I DID have stuffed animals, some of them with pink bows.

UH-OH!

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Blast from the past: Polyamory, bisexuality and gender

26 01 2008
(Origingally written December 16, 2006 on my old blog. Disclaimer: I don’t necessarily agree with everything I wrote here anymore. Clarifications will be made in future posts.) 

Over the years, through my involvement with bi groups and poly groups, I’ve noticed, as many others have, an overlap between the two communities. However, there are bi people, as we all know, that are not poly and who do not wish to be. On the other hand, there are bi people who could not imagine being bi without being poly.

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Blast from the past: More ranting about sexuality

26 01 2008

(Originally written Oct. 4, 2007 on Facebook.)

In response to a comment I received on my previous (and hilarious, apparently) drunken rant (I’m not drunk this time), here are some additional (and less verbally abusive) thoughts. Don’t read if you’re not down with intellectualising about sexuality.

It’s hard for people not to pass judgement on the sexuality of others, even if it doesn’t affect them personally. People are enculturated from an early age about what is normal, natural and morally acceptable. These ideas become so deeply engrained that letting go of these conceptions poses an emotional challenge. First, it’s never easy to question every thing you’ve ever thought you’ve known about the world. Second, opening up one’s ideas about sexuality calls their very own sexuality into question.

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