A quick break for something fun

Taking a quick break from serious topics for some quick awesomeness.

First, I love this song by The Who, first pointed out to me by my bff Carly.

You’ve got to love people taking an awesome stance on trans issues in the mid 1960s. Lyrics are below the jump.

Next is a song from two of my favorite queer ministers (I love that I have several!) on gender identity. This is Chris and Liz who have named themselves The MSG Band (Mediocre Singing and Guitar). Lyrics also after the jump. Watch for the awesome kazoo action.

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The Problem of Gender Identity Disorder

I recently sat down with Jess Guerriero, a genderqueer activist and trans ally with an MA in Gender and Cultural Studies and a candidate for MSW from Simmons College. For her thesis, Jess examined the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder in the DSM IV-TR and how the current treatment model does not include folks who identify beyond the gender binary.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is the diagnosis currently given to transgender and transexual people. This gives providers a diagnosis they can use for reimbursement from insurance companies. The problem is that GID is very binary based and doesn’t recognize people who do not identify as trans but are gender non-conforming.

The current standards of care for someone who has been diagnosed with GID are that they must meet with a therapist to get a letter in order to get hormones. They must then be on those hormones for 9 months to a year and pass the “real life test” – which is “successfully” living as the opposite gender for one full year before they can get a second letter to approve surgery. There is also a “treatment narrative” that therapists are often looking for – a long standing history of “gender troubles”. For example, “I always knew I was a boy, I liked to play with trucks instead of dolls…” etc. These requirements are becoming a little more fluid, especially here in Massachusetts, but still don’t leave much room for people who may not want to fully transition.

The thing is, there’s really no room for folks who don’t want to play the binary game. While the system works for some, for those who don’t want to fully transition or may not have the narrative that therapists are looking for, providers are not given any kind of system care. The hard thing is that therapists need to be able to get paid for their work. That money needs to either come from out of pocket or from an insurance company, and those insurance companies want a diagnosis. However, being transgender or genderqueer or not fitting on the gender binary is not something that should be diagnosed, much like being gay isn’t something that should be diagnosed.

Before setting out to write her thesis, Jess really hoped that she could create a recommended plan of action. What she found is that there’s no clear fix. The systems are broken – the systems of diagnosis, insurance, and communication between the mental health and medical world. What became clear, though, is that there should not be one uniform treatment path and that the client needs to be involved in creating that path.

So what can professionals do now?

  • Start where the person is. Have them define and describe their gender identity to you.
  • Don’t act as a gate keeper. Be honest about the diagnosis process and allow the client to decide if they would like to use the GID diagnosis for the insurance company. Work within the system, but don’t necessarily follow the system perfectly.
  • Increase communication between the mental health world and the medical world.
  • Increase education on gender identity for yourself and other professionals.
  • Provide services for after any body modification.
  • Pay attention to social policy and advocate for your clients. Help create a world that better includes them.

We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re making small steps. For example, as of yesterday, a huge advancement took place, thanks to the Department of State. In the past, some states required passport applicants to show proof of gender reassignment surgery before they could change the gender on their passport. This is no longer a requirement! The requirement now is to show “certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” This is a step in the right direction. Thanks to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health!

For more information, check out GIDReform.org and World Professional Association for Transgender Health. If you’re interested in reading Jess’s amazing thesis, give me a shout out and I can connect you with her!

For the love of Hanson

Semi related to this blog, here’s a podcast that I was on a few weeks ago. (I come in at 49:30.) In it, I talk about my love of Hanson while at the same time being queer. For anyone looking for some nice ear candy to make your commute a little more tolerable, or anyone that loves commentary on pop culture and hilariously mundane things, I highly suggest Too Beautiful to Live. Affectionately referred to as TBTL and hosted by Luke Burbank.

Me with Taylor (left) and Zac (right) Hanson, when they visited my college in 2006 and I got to interview them on the radio. Isaac was down the hall and missed my photo op.

I fell in love with Luke on his stint of the short lived NPR show The Bryant Park Project. TBTL has a segment called Call Makers, where Luke calls up listeners who have topics they’d like to discuss with him. I called to gush about my ridiculous love of Hanson and the hots I have for Zac Hanson, specifically. I also dragged my girlfriend into it and her love of Justin Bieber (which, to be honest, she’s not as in love with him as I like to tell people. But she does appreciate anyone of the younger male persuasion who can pass as a lesbian. Can you hear me Zac Efron?)

Here’s the amazing video of the song I was talking about – “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'”. Definitely worth watching. It was made in honor of the Blues Brothers movie and their love for oldies music.

Hanson, actually, made it hard for me to come out. You can ask those who were close to me in my 12-14 aged years; I was boy crazy. I thought about boys, 24-7. So when I started dating a girl at 15, it threw everyone off. I mean, for god’s sake, my room was literally covered – walls and ceiling, with pictures of Hanson and other boys. So, I don’t blame anyone who may not have believed me at the time or thought it was a phase. And here’s the thing, before I started dating my first girlfriend, I had no idea that I was attracted to girls. But I believe sexuality is a fluid thing that can evolve over time, and some studies show that to be true for many other women. I can dig those up sometime so we can all analyze them together.

And Hanson still makes me feel like a 12 year old girl drunk off of hormones from puberty sometimes. And that’s okay with me. It’s also part of the reason why I identify with the label of queer. It leaves room for things like that.

Hanson’s new album, Shout It Out, comes out on June 8th – TODAY. Don’t lie. You loved MmmBop in 1997.

Civil Disobedience – or – Fighting for your Wellbeing

Recently, the wonderful Pam’s House Blend had a great summary of the history of civil disobedience in the LGBTQ fight for civil rights. Seems pretty appropriate with Pride – the annual celebration of the Stonewall riots – just around the corner (or technically, started, here in Boston).

Stonewall Riots - Image from http://www.pamshouseblend.com

Some great points that the post offered:

  • Stonewall was a violent and spontaneous act that lasted days.
  • The earliest cases of AIDS were identified in 1981 and yet ACT UP wasn’t formed until 1987 out of disgust for the governments inaction. (Not to say that the folks that were ACT UP didn’t do enough, but it’s so easy to forget exactly just how long it took the government to do anything.)
  • In 2007 the Employee Non-Discrimination Act was killed for the 34th time.

As LGBTQ people, there is so much that we have been denied. From freedom to assemble – fought for at Stonewall; for the government to see us as legitimate people – especially during a health crisis; for marriage; for the protection from being told that you can’t have a job, rent an apartment, use a restroom that feels right for you; serve in the military; and many other things.

Lately, there has been a new uprising of civil disobedience by the folks who call themselves GetEQUAL. They’re the folks who organized the handcuffing of Lt. Dan Choi and other LGBTQ military folks to the White House fence and the ones who interrupted Obama while he was speaking at a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer. Since GetEQUAL became active, I’ve seen some blog posts questioning their tactics and wondering if the time for civil disobedience is over. It can seem like such a 1960s thing. But, GetEQUAL has been effective. It really feels like the turning point is near. And while we’ve been doing a lot of work on the inside of the system, groups like GetEQUAL have been causing a much needed stir. (Also, a shout out to Join the Impact, specifically Join the Impact MA, who are also doing great work. More on them later.)

Do you know what empowerment feels like?

A sex toy made for queer women, by queer women

Sitting in a bar, about a week ago, a friend of mine asked me if I had seen the “finger extenders” that just showed up on Blowfish.

Holy crap. They exist.

There’s a few things that are really interesting about this toy. First being the different design. I always admire it when people try out new kinds of designs and ideas and generally widen our ideas of how sex can happen. For example: Rock Chick, The Cone, Feeldoe. This kind of toy has never really existed.

What’s also interesting is the company that makes this, Wet For Her. They’re a french company that is run by “women who love women”. I’ve never seen this before in a toy company. It’s really refreshing. Women have a larger presence now in the world of sex toy stores with women owned and operated stores like Babeland, Good Vibes, and Smitten Kitten. However, the process of making  toys  is still a man’s world, even those toys without the harmful chemicals and cheesy packaging.

Wet For Her also has a few other products in the works. They also sell an egg vibrator, but are also creating something like the picture you see above, but also includes your thumb. You can see pictures on their website. Also on their website are links to reviews (you can see what Autostraddle thinks about it all – they were at the release party) including a video review.

What we need is more of this, more queer people being involved in the creation of products made with us in mind. While straight people can also use this product, it’s nice to have some special attention and acknowledgement of queer sex (and not just a straight man’s idea of what queer sex is/should be.)

An introduction to queer spiritual health: Christianity

As someone identifies as a Christian and queer, I’ve been pretty sad about the lack of a voice that queer people have within the Christian community (in the larger culture). Part of why I wanted to start this blog was to discuss openly that queer people have spiritual lives, defining spirituality broadly, be it religious or simply something that gives you a reason to get up in the morning. The larger conversation of our current culture is still grappling with this, especially with the Christian faith.

With Jennifer Knapp’s recent coming out as a Christian musician and a lesbian, the debate was brought back out in front, or at least covered more in mainstream media. When Jennifer Knapp was on Larry King, the talk was very focused on whether people can be Christian and gay. Which of course, thousands of queer people are Christian and have no problem with it. All you have to do is walk in to an open and affirming United Church of Christ church, a Metropolitan Community Church, or a Quaker Meeting (or many, many other deominations) to find queer Christians.

We’ve all heard “love the sinner, hate the sin” from some aspect of the Christian community at some time. Usually, its thrown at you with what feels like fake love. Those saying it claim to be trying to be loving and non-judgmental. Yet, they are still looking to change their queer brothers and sisters. It makes me sad that they can’t see that. While they are not openly hating or being physically violent to queer people, it still feels like spiritual violence to me. Organizations like Exodus International feed out of this idea and cause lasting damage to queer people of faith. Truth Wins Out is a great resource for ex-gay survivors of programs like Exodus International.

Whew! That’s a lot of information. I definitely want to talk more about this later, including other religions, biblical self defense, and more on trans people and religion. I’d especially love to hear about people’s journeys of faith, spirituality, and atheism.

An Untapped Gem

Ever notice something that should really be happening? For years now, I’ve been talking about the crazy amount of money that could be made off of selling men’s clothing made for women’s bodies (talking in the traditional sense of the words, of course). Butch lesbians and genderqueers have long had to shop in the little boys’ sections, search endlessly in thrift stores, or learn how to alter clothes for affordable clothing that fits their style, but its not typically made for their bodies.

Sadly, there’s still not a lot of resources out there, but here are a few I’ve found in my travels to share with you. Feel free to share yours in the comments as well.

PinkBoyBlueGirl

Did you fall in love with Dani Campbell during the ridiculous A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila? The only good thing to come out of that trainwreck was Dani Campbell. She started a clothing line called Futch which became PinkBoyBlueGirl. Sadly, it looks like it hasn’t really become much yet. But we can hope that she’s putting something together with the other folks she’s brought together to this new label. Anyway, I’d keep my eyes peeled on this site. Especially if she plans on selling things like she’s wearing on the left…

DITC, dykesinthecity

I used to see these guys every time I went to a queer festival of some sort. They started off with t-shifts and a-shirts (the nice way of saying a wife-beater) and moved on to ties and such. Looks like they’ve got a nice selection of products. Not necessarily the tailored shirts, pants, or suits that many people are looking for, but they do have some nice designs that make ties and shirts a little more interesting. They also have some things that are for lesbians who are a little more feminine.

DapperQ

This site is the most promising that I’ve seen so far. While they’re not selling any clothes, DapperQ is a great fashion blog for people with bodies that are traditionally considered female who are interested in masculine and queer gender expression or identity. Susan Herr has done a great job so far of talking to everyday and more well known queer people about their fashion and how they get around the issue of wanting to dress more masculine and finding clothes that they feel comfortable in. I would definitely add this site to my RSS feed if I were you. Also… it doesn’t hurt that they put up a super cute picture and post from my girlfriend (pictured left).

So if I were you, and I was wanting to make a fortune, I’d take advantage of the (oy, am I really going to use this horrible business cliché?) low hanging fruit by getting myself a degree in fashion – or at least take some sewing classes – and get to work on creating the clothes that all these super cute butch or genderqueer identifying (or other identifications) queers would like to be wearing. Because wearing clothes that you feel good in makes you feel better about yourself and better about your prospects in the world.

What do you do to find clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident?