Posted on Tue Feb 24 10:55:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel
I attended the HRC Gala in Austin last Saturday night. I don't have a lot to say about it right now, but I just got the photograph taken of myself and many people whom I love dearly.
I know a hell of a lot of beautiful people in the Austin TGQ community.
Posted on Wed Feb 18 12:00:00 CDT 2015 by Cory A.
Dear you, I wonder what you saw just before bright headlights made everything dim. I wonder if you saw the mirrored grace of a reflection that was almost yours. Dear you, I wonder how the rope felt as you tied the knot that turned a closet into a coroners photograph of a frame that was never truly your own. Dear you, I wonder what you heard between the chambered round ringing and the strike of the hammer. Was it a canticle chorus of "God doesn't make mistakes". Dear you, I wonder what you tasted as your fathers blade split into your stomach, the foul bitterness of his words internalized that would spill across your tongue. Dear you, I wondered what you smelled before fists made matchsticks of your nose. Could you scent the panic he said he felt before ending yours. Dear you, I wonder what you were thinking as a dark alley made you disappear. Dreams of your future lived as yourself now entombed in those shadows. Dear you, I wish I didn't have these thoughts. Dear you, I wish I didn't have to write this poem. Dear you, I wish I could outstretch my arms, Rampart my ribs and spire my spine to shield you from a world so filled with hate. But dear you, You are no longer with us. And dear you, I can only carry you in my heavy heart, my mournful thought, and my desperate prayers. So dear you, I write this as a record And hope I never have to add another line. Dear you, I write this to your memory. Dear you, I write to you with love. -- Cory A.
Cory A. is a 31 year old transgirl in Nova Scotia discovering herself and the world around her through poetry and spoken work
Posted on Tue Feb 17 14:30:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel
Last week was terrible for the TGQ community.
Two trans women killed in a single week.
Four this month.
Seven TGQ people since the start of the year.
One was murdered by her own father. Another by her boyfriend. The others, I don't know. Not yet, anyway.
Perhaps seven people is not enough to draw the attention of most people, but the TGQ community is small. Every death, especially murders likely motivated by gender policing, rocks the entire community nationwide. Each of us walks a little more carefully, checks in a little more often. More fear, every time.
For me, it is not enough to simply shrink away. I have to do something, even if it looks small and futile.
Today, I added a memorial to my website. I will keep it maintained, updating information about the investigations, adding additional links. When I have the energy to do so, I will add photos, summaries, and dedicated pages. Counts, broken down by investigation status, identity, frequency, and comparing that to the population at large.
And, when another of us dies, I will create a record for hir, too.
This is my cry of defiance.
My memorial page page is not a simple web page. I source all of the data from [.yml][yaml] files, one per person. I created a module in Haskell for doing the parsing, loading, and providing the data format. The hard part of the whole thing was shoehorning it into my website software, which is, frankly, terrible. I will refactor that presently, largely by replacing Happstack with Scotty and Blaze with Heist or another templating system.
If you want access to the raw data, it is available as a public git repository:
If you want access to the parser module to embed into your own applications, that is also available, BSD-3 licensed:
Email me if you know of somebody who belongs on this list. The list is for Transgender, Genderqueer, and Queer individuals who have died, whether murdered, by suicide, accidentally, or even (hopefully) by natural causes.
Posted on Wed Jan 28 08:00:00 CDT 2015
Exxopolis is a "Luminarium", an inflated palace, that Keely and I visited two years ago. I only just now developed the pictures. The interior of the structure is surreal, peaceful (despite the number of people), calming. It invites exploration and relaxation. I wish we had more structures like this, and I hope that Architects of Air returns to Texas soon.
Posted on Wed Jan 14 08:00:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel
I love having flowers around my house. I pretty much ignored that possibility for years, but around Christmas time I decided that I wanted them. And now I decorate part of my living room with flowers and also have the foresight to occasionally take flowers to the people I love.
Posted on Thu Jan 8 11:00:00 CDT 2015
Recently, Natalie asked for recommendations for games that work well with 2-3 players. I started to make a list, but the list got too extensive. Sometimes my recommendation matches the suggestion on the box, sometimes it doesn't. I have sometimes found that the possible number of players listed on the box doesn't match where the game really shines. So, here is my current list based on the games that I have played, especially in the last couple of years.
Here's to Nat!
- Binary Homeworlds
- Gipfs, Tsarr, Punct, Zerts, Yinsh
3 - 4 Players
- Battlestar Galactica
- Legacy: The Gears of Time
- Love Letter
- Battlestar Galactica
- Battlestar Galactica
Posted on Fri Jan 2 01:30:00 CDT 2015 by Savanni D'Gerinel
For the last couple of days, some of my social networks have exploded with news of the death of Leelah Alcorn.
This comes right on the heels of a multi-day blitz of #NBRightsNow (non-binary rights now) tweets.
In one sense, Leelah is just another statistic. In another sense, her suicide happened out in the public and specifically calls out the behaviours of the people around her that drove her to despair. In many ways, her death feels like a tipping point. She wanted her death to mean something. I hate that sometimes a major social justice cause only gains momentum when somebody dies.
Lots of numbers get thrown around, but the most important is the claim that 41% of all transgender individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lives. I have found only the Williams Report, and I believe that report only covers a suicide survey in the United States, but the tables substantiate the 41% number. But losing support of family and friends sends the number much higher. Abuse sends the number even higher.
Leelah's Law has flaws. It bans the so-called therapy for transgendered individuals, but says nothing of our gay and lesbian siblings. Similar laws have been proposed to ban sexual orientation conversion "therapies", but to my knowledge none have passed.
It is time for this to change. I hate doing piecemeal laws, but it seems that we can only manage that in this country. Nobody, especially no child, should ever go into therapy to change hir core self. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer is not a disorder. Being transgender is not a disorder.
Please sign the petition. Please write to your congressmen. And let's start getting gay conversion "therapies" banned.
Because my bubble of safety should be universal.
Posted on Thu Dec 18 08:00:00 CDT 2014 by Savanni D'Gerinel
Domestication as a "boy" or as a "girl", with the eventual goal of growing up into "men" and "women", begins at birth and it is based on one decision by a doctor. From that moment onwards, the training is pervasive and usually crushing. It creates stereotypes, and stereotypes become walls, segregating people, creating the "battle of the sexes", and giving women a generally poorer life than men, and transgendered people an even harder one.
I am a gender activist because this is NOT the world I want.
- Femme Androgyne
So, Hi. I'm Savanni. I am an Androgyne with a feminine presentation, assigned male at birth. My preferred pronouns are zie/hir, but I really accept just about any pronouns.
- Polyamory Educator
- Gender Identity Educator and Activist
More interestingly, I am also a photographer, programmer, cyclist, gamer, alchemist, all-around geek, polyamory educator, and gender identity educator and activist.
- ... in women's clothing
What you saw when you first saw me was probably a "man" dressed as a woman. Or, if you were reading something about me that I did not write, you saw the word "he". Or perhaps somebody was talking about me: "He's a great guy", or "He's one of our better programmers", or "Let's see if he wants to join us for dinner". My birth sex assignment is forefront in every conversation you may have about me, in the first impression you have about me. Our language is rigged up that way. It shapes how you think of me constantly.
I should be fair, though, and mention that people who don't know me typically read me as a woman these days when they see me. I don't know whether they read me differently after hearing my voice.
But, while I think about and study gender identity quite a bit, and I prefer to surround myself with other nonbinary people, the interesting parts of me have nothing to do with my gender identity. An actual conversation with me is more likely about color theory, composing a photograph, the latest board game, emotional self-care, surviving in Austin on a bicycle, and the merits and flaws of various programming techniques.
You're born and the doctor marks "male" or "female" on your birth certificate. The doctor makes this choice by looking at your genitals. Perhaps some of you are already aware of intersex, but there is no space on a birth certificate or in legal records to be designated intersex.
If you're unlucky enough to have obviously non-conformant genitals, then the doctor makes a best guess and then starts recommending surgeries. Basically, the doctor and the parents are forcing sex reassignment surgery on a child so young that the child can't understand what is happening. Consent isn't even a consideration. It takes a long time to heal from sex reassignment, and such a surgery, especially conducted at a young life, holds risks of unnecessary sterility, loss of sexual sensation, and unnecessary deformity.
Additionally, though, many intersex conditions are simply undetected until later in life. Testicles where everyone expected ovaries. A uterus in somebody born only with a penis. Extremely low testosterone in a "boy", or extremely high testosterone in a "girl". Some of these conditions are rare, but they exist in non-trivial numbers.
In fact, estimates by the Intersex Society of North America put the rate of "bodies that differ from standard male or female" at one in 100.
We're treating sex like this.
Sex actually looks more like this.
- Transgender (also, Trans, Trans*)
- Trans man, Trans woman
- Third gender
Gender identity is related to your body, but it is not the same. It is, instead, one of the many lenses through which you experience the world. When I say that I am an Androgyne, I am referring to my gender identity and am saying that when I experience the world, I experience it through a lens that doesn't actually fit masculinity or femininity.
I like classification schemes, so I shall give you the current one.
- Cisgender means that your physical sex and gender identity match up. A man who was assigned male at birth. A woman who was assigned female at birth.
- Transgender refers to all people whose gender identity does not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.
- Transgender people can be binary or nonbinary. Binary transgender people identify as men and women.
- Nonbinary people identify between or even completely outside of the man/woman spectrum. Genderqueer is an umbrella term which can mean the same thing, but it usually carries a hint of performance and a hint of political opposition. To quote someone more witty than myself, "I'm not going into any of the boxes you've created, thank you, enjoy the spectacle."
- Because I've mentioned it so much, I'll define Androgyne. I am someone who carries the energetics of both masculinity and femininity, in such a way as to live in a neutral space in between the two poles. You could say that I picked up some traits of masculinity, some of femininity, but set up camp with all those traits that are common to both.
There are a lot more terms that can be classified under the nonbinary category, and each one of them has a subtly different meaning with historical references and personality references. This is enough to get you started, but I will also point to some of the best resources I know on the web.
More than any of the others, this is a role and thus extremely flexible. We have defaults that we fall into, but society also heaps expectations about that on us about how we will present most of the time. Those expectations vary based on cultural norms that can vary by economic class, ethnicity, your location, and the current era.
Walk into a Renaissance Festival and the standards of dress change radically. Walk into a financial business and the standards change again. Go to Saudi Arabia, or to Japan. Each place has a wildly different set of standards for how men and women should express themselves. Each culture imposes a reward and penalty system form punishing transgressions and supporting conformity.
- mode of dress, makeup and hair style
- gait and mannerisms
- word choice, vocal pitch
- career and hobbies
Living like this
I am always hyper-sensitive to gender considerations. When I walk into an unknown room, such as this one, I always wonder how people are going to perceive me. My gender assignment at birth has straightjacketed me into a variety of roles. Some of them are very desirable, some are not, and I always wonder what punishment I will face for having discarded most of them.
Are you going to see me as a man or a woman? How do you expect me to dress? How do you expect me to act? Are you going to listen to anything I have to say? Am I here with a curious, sympathetic group, or am I standing in front of a group looking for a fight? Is it safe for me to be here if you suddenly "read" me? Will I be harassed in the bathroom?
What will happen when I walk into my next interview in slacks, a blouse, and makeup? Or a major family event? Will the TSA harass me when I fly? What about the police? In Wimberley? Or north Texas? Or Oklahoma? What countries can I safely tour?
Where can I live safely? Where will I find a community that gets me? Where will I find people that I'm attracted to? Where will I find people attracted to me?
Where will I find a good therapist? Will I be able to find a doctor who is willing to keep my meds going? Am I going to have even more trouble simply because I'm not actually going to become a woman? Is there a spiritual community that will welcome me?
Now, let's pause for a moment. I want you to think about which of these questions you have had to ask yourself.
While anyone on the Trans* spectrum may have more of those to think about than normal, most of us probably have thought about this before. Consider what that means about our commonalities. Even if you cannot relate in terms of actual gender identity, you can relate in terms of simple life concerns. We all have them, and they don't vary by all that much. When you understand that the person in front of you may fear the same things as you, that is the opening by which you may become more compassionate. I think compassion breaks down walls more effectively than any other human trait.
What does respect mean?
It means seeing us as people. Whole, sovereign, healthy. We are uncommon, but we are not strange. Some of us are going through a hard time, but we know what we want. And, we live in the same world as you, so we have a lot of the same concerns that you have. We have more in common with you than we have different.
Never ask about surgical status or what genitals someone has. You wouldn't ask that of someone you thought was cisgendered (or, at least I hope you wouldn't), so don't ask it of us. In general conversation, it is flatly insulting, and it is not your business.
Don't ask what their ID says, although, in some cases, people might volunteer that information because getting that gender marker changed is a big legal hurdle and crossing it can be more exciting than graduation or marriage. If that happens, celebrate with them, because that is one of just many big hurdles we face towards recognition.
The right to self-identify is sacrosanct. Never argue with anyone about hir gender, even though hir expression may not match what you expect. Yes, this can be confusing. But, generally, we are going to dress in a way to give you cues, and that speaks more than our natural appearance does.
We have to deal with the Pronoun question. Pronouns are important unless you are explicitly told they are not. Once somebody tells you what pronouns you prefer, do everything you can to ensure you use them correctly. Pronouns have an undue influence on our self-esteem, and intentionally misgendering someone will almost always trigger hostility. It acts as a way of rejecting that person's identity and imposing your own dictates. Accidental misgendering is usually less harmful, but it frequently triggers gender dysphoria and it will definitely become very annoying.
Advancing the use of a generic third person pronoun helps out with this. With such a pronoun, we can escape from calling somebody by the wrong gender. We can stop assuming the default male that "neutral he" implies. How about we use "they" for this function? Don't know what to use? Use "they". Most people already do even without knowing it.
"Zie/Hir/Hirs" can be used for people like me where you know my gender, and my gender is non-binary. This may sound awkward now, but how many skills have you acquired that felt easy and smooth in the beginning? Familiarity reduces awkwardness.
I believe that gendered pronouns enforce a gender split, dividing the world into two categories unnecessarily. Their use reminds us constantly to consider gender when considering any given person, making us think about hir gender more frequently than we think about any other aspect of who zie is. I have not yet taken the radical step of switching to a gender neutral pronoun for everyone, but I have considered it.
Making Safe Space
When you look around with the right eyes, you start seeing all of the discrimination that happens. There's "ladies night" where the bars are for women only. Kink events where men pay one price to get in and women pay a lower price. Poly couples always searching for someone AFAB. "Enlightened" events where women are welcome, single men are forbidden, and no provision made for trans folks at all. Expectations for how you must dress for an interview. Prejudices about the reliability of information, or the skill of an employee based solely on their birth assignment.
- Hire a diverse group of employees. Include people of various races, all genders. And value all of their opinions.
- If you are a writer or storyteller, challenge your tropes about women, and include people of a variety of genders.
- If you must put a gender segregation into your group, be really conscious of
- Sex assignment or gender identity
- Stance towards transgender individuals
Cultivate curiosity. The kind of playful curiosity that walks in without preconceptions and just marvels at how cool the world can be, how many shades of every color and every flag can be there.
Think about your prejudices and your assumptions. Muse on a world that doesn't have gender. Muse on a world that doesn't have distinct sexes. Read some of the science fiction out there that deals with this head-on.
Our debt to the past
A discussion of respect is incomplete without we nonbinary people paying our own respects to our forerunners. First the women's rights movements throughout history. Women's rights did not start with the 1920s, but have actually been a simmering issue through all of recorded history, and a lot of people died to get us to where we are today.
Then to the gay and lesbian rights movements. And then the transgender movement. Again, a lot of people have died to get us here.
Someone I met recently told me several times that we stand on the shoulders of giants. I disagree. We stand here on the support of many who have come before us, and I believe that the nonbinary movement would still be completely hidden if not for all these others.
“The Gethenians do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imaginations to accept. After all, what is the first question we ask about a newborn baby? ....there is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves, protected/ protective. One is respected and judged only as a human being. You cannot cast a Gethenian in the role of Man or Woman, while adopting towards 'him' a corresponding role dependant on your expectations of the interactions between persons of the same or opposite sex. It is an appalling experience for a Terran ” -- "Ursula le Guin"
- The Gender Unicorn
- A List of LGBTQ Terms
- Suicide Attempts amongst trans and gender non-conforming people
- Understanding the Complexities of Gender, by Sam Killerman
- Ending Gender, by Scott Turner Schofield
- Genderqueer Identities
- A list of Genderqueer Identity Terms
- Storm, the baby raised gender neutral
- X: A Fabulous Child's Story
- Gender Wiki
- Frequency of intersex conditions
- We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle, and Slaves Narrative
- The Left Hand of Darkness
- Coming of Age in Karhide
- Woman on the Edge of Time
- Gender Outlaw
- Nina Here Nor There
Posted on Sun Oct 19 08:00:00 CDT 2014
|Eugene Court Plaza, Eugene, Oregon. 2014-02||Japanese Garden Sculpture, Eugene, Oregon. 2014-02||Shattered Fountain, Eugene, Oregon. 2014-02|
Some of these photos have been seen before, and some are new to you. The plaza outside of the Eugene courthouse, sculptures in the memorial garden for the Japanese internment camps of World War 2, and a fountain made to look shattered on the University of Oregon campus.
These photographs, "Eugene Court Plaza, 2014-02", "Japanese Garden Sculpture, 2014-02", and "Shattered Fountain, 2014-02", are available for use under a Creative-Commons By-Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.