Chocolate cake. Biking. Masturbation. Netflix binges. Sex. Pleasure.
Walking down the street and catching someone checking me out.
Walking down the street and blending into the crowd completely, without the slightest effort.
Embodied pleasure of sex and skin and liquid and lube and straps and crops and dildos and plugs and hands and feet and lips and lips and teeth and biting and losing my mind losing my mind closer losing closer crying out in sweet relief crying thrashing building building crying heaving sweating collapsing panting cuddling cuddling done.
Being a ghost. Fading in and out of view. Looking down and seeing my ghost breasts and long smooth ghost legs and red ghost fingers, running my ghost tongue over ghost lipstick and feeling the weight of ghost eyeliner and shadow. Fading into view as I walk up the stairs to the L or find a friend’s arm around my waist or over my shoulder. Awareness of my ghost cock between my legs, sometimes ruining the moment and sometimes completing it, my own secret joke, a gendered jack-in-the-box waiting to scare small children and douchey bros in Wrigleyville.
My pleasure is always guilty, guilty pleasure. With the possible exception of a sweaty workout, my pleasure always wonders if it’s too indulgent, too selfish, too unhealthy or exhausting or expensive or prurient or sensational. My pleasure wonders if I’m deserving. Which is why so much of my pleasure is the pleasure of escape: the pleasure of cumming. The pleasure of media binges. The pleasure of sleeping in or sleep deprivation.
Looking toward 2014, I have decided I’d like to put a certain percentage of my performance income toward non-profits that directly support the trans community. I need to sit down and figure out what I can reasonably afford to give, and I’m sure it won’t be tons of money. That said, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I do know I can afford something.
Which brings up the question of which organization(s) should be on that list. Here’s what I’m thinking about, but I would love suggestions of who else is Doing The Work in a way that deserves support. This list is in no particular order.
- Project Fierce Chicago, “a grassroots collective of long-time social workers, queer activists, housing advocates and other service providers that have come together to create a community-funded project to provide an affirming home for LGBTQ homeless young adults.”
- Trans Oral History Project, “a community-driven effort to collect, preserve and share a diversity range of stories from within the transgender and gender variant communities.”
- Jim Collins Foundation or TUFF, both of which provide surgical fundraising support
- National Center for Trans Equality, “a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.”
- Camp Aranu’tiq, “a nonprofit organization serving trans & gender-variant youth ages 6 – 18.” (Plug: I’ve volunteered with them for a few years.)
- The TransLife Project, a housing project aiming “to provide a trans-specific employment support program, fixed and scattered site housing for transgender persons, and linkage to culturally-competent healthcare and social services.”
- The Transformative Justice Law Project, “ a collective of radical lawyers, social workers, activists, and community organizers who are deeply committed to prison abolition, transformative justice, and gender self-determination.”
- Black and Pink, “an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other.” (Plug: I have a prison pen pall through B&P.)
I’m sure there are other awesome orgs that should be on this list, so please send ‘em my way. (If nothing else, I’ll make note of who is on this list and make a blog post about it or a page on my website.) Continue reading 'Donating to orgs which support trans populations'»
This afternoon, I was driving home from a theatre where I work. I was at a red light on a busy street in Evanston when the car in front of me tried to do a three-point turn at the light. They did so really poorly, and backed into the car in the next lane (that had been next to them before they tried to turn). They didn’t pull over, though, and sped off. Asshole.
Well, that wasn’t acceptable, and I wanted an opportunity to play vigilante. So I pulled a u-turn and sped after them, honking and flashing my lights. They turned a corner, and I rode their rear bumper. Some other concerned citizen clearly had the same thought, and sped past them at a stop-light to box them in. The driver got out, seemingly confused (whether it was feigned or real is unclear). We said he had hit someone, he replied “Oh, I didn’t feel anything!” But we convinced him to follow me back to the accident site, hoping the victim would still be there. The other concerned citizen -slash- vigilante went into the night, and the crasher followed me back to the accident site.
I gotta say, I felt like quite the badass when I pulled up behind a woman on her phone, pacing behind her car, a nice sedan with an HRC bumper sticker and Texas plates. “Did you just get hit?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said. “Why?” “Because here’s the guy who hit you,” I replied, gesturing to the car pulling up. Continue reading 'I was a vigilante this afternoon, and it turned out better than I ever expected'»
I regularly receive inquires from cis students and researchers writing papers about trans identity and experience. Some of these inquiries come from friends-of-friends, some come from students at institutions where I’ve presented workshops or performances, and some come through this blog or www.rebeccakling.com. As long as the inquiries are polite and respectful, I don’t have a problem with it. I generally offer feedback or suggestions and, if it seems appropriate, share their request for subjects on Facebook or this blog. I’ve been interviewed for student newspapers, dissertations on Jewish trans women, artistic projects on non-normative gender expression, and more.
Obviously, not everyone is going to have the same comfort level I do. That’s totally fine; to me, these interviews and conversations are part of the artistic and educational work I’m doing as an activist. I want competent voices speaking on trans identities, and no one is more qualified to tell my story than I am. If my voice helps create a better body of research, then I’m happy to contribute.
However, I’m starting to rethink my informal policy of talking to just about anyone. Like much of my work, speaking with journalists and researchers wasn’t something I set out to do; it grew organically out of other projects. But a recent influx of interview requests have made me rethink this open-door policy. After a lot of reflection, I’ve come up with a new set of guidelines. From now on, I will be declining to speak with anyone conducting research who cannot first answer the following questions to my satisfaction:
- How were trans people involved in the creation of this research project?
- How will trans people be involved in reviewing your conclusions?
- How will you ensure this research accurately captures the racial and class diversity in the trans community?
- How do you imagine this research will improve the lives of trans people?
Continue reading 'Being a Research Subject – Questions for people researching trans identity'»
I recently wrote a post, I’m Scared, in which I talked about my fears relating to my upcoming gender reassignment surgery. (Shameless donation plug: Please donate!) The post was really important for me to write, and has helped me internalize and work through some of the fears that I have. (Some of them remain scary, and will continue to be scary until I’m through them and they’re OK.) But I also wanted to take time to focus on what I’m excited about, what I’m looking forward to, and what is going to be awesome about having surgery.
I’m excited about having a body that will ‘fit.’ A body I can bathe in the shower without having extra dangly bits. A body that will be hugged by form-fitting clothing, without unseemly bulging. I’m excited about shopping for that clothing, trying on dresses and skirts and pants (and the dreaded yoga pants!) and feeling like they were designed for my body, and vice versa.
I’m excited about exploring my new body. I’m dreading dilation, yes, but I’m also excited by it. About having this new part – constructed from the old – that offers new opportunities for pleasure and simply for comfort. I’m excited about getting to know my new anatomy, its rounded parts and squishy bits and how it fits with the rest of me. Continue reading 'I’m Excited!'»
I recently was included (along with 80+ others) in the following Facebook message:
Hello ladies, it’s that time of year again…support of breast cancer awareness! So last year’s game was writing your bra color as your status…or the way we like to have our handbag handy. Last year, so many people took part that it made national news!! And the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness too! Do NOT tell any males what the status means…keep them guessing!! And please COPY and PASTE this in a message to all your female friends. The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to GIRLS ONLY and let’s see how far it reaches. The one last year about the bra went all over the world!! Instructions: The month you were born is the Place you are going, and the day you were born should be how many months you are gone January – Mexico; February – London; March – Miami; April – Dominican Republic; May – Paris; June – Rome; July – Hawaii; August – California; September – New York; October – Puerto Rico; November – Las Vegas; December – Australia. If your birthday is 21st January, YOUR STATUS SHOULD READ: “I am going to Mexico for 21 months”. Don’t reply to this, put your answer in a status on your wall. Please do it, don’t be a spoil sport!…
I didn’t bother replying, and immediately clicked ‘leave conversation.’ I’m pleased to report that I have not received it from any other friends, or seen anyone actually post the status on their wall. But the IM has still been bugging me, and not simply because sending an IM to 80+ people. Lets talk about why I’m so annoyed.
DISCLAIMER: I am not interested in people telling me “it’s going to be OK.” I know it’s going to be OK. Likewise, I am perfectly capable of talking myself down from any and all of the below-listed fears. And I realize that – while none of them are stupid - they’re all perfectly normal and will pass as I go through them and come out the other side . But this specific post is about my expressing and processing my fears, not being told “it’s going to be OK.” So please resist the urge. The only exceptions to that request are:
- You are providing a link to someone else’s experiences around actually having surgery
- You yourself have had a vaginoplasty (or comparable, major, trans-related surgery) and are willing to talk about it
Put another way, this post is not about you trying to make me feel better. I appreciate the sentiment, but now isn’t the time.
That’s out of the way. On to the post itself.
Last week, I attended (and did a reading at) the launch of Spider Teeth, a zine by ellie june navidson. ellie and I aren’t super close, but we’re friends and I’m a big fan of her as a person, an artist, and an activist. The zine is about her experiences around having surgery in Thailand during the spring of 2013, with pieces written in present-tense around the lead-up, surgery itself, recovery, and in the months since. It talks about the politics, emotions, physical experiences, and more. The other night, ellie read some selections from the zine, but I didn’t have a chance to sit down and give it the attention it deserved until a few days ago.
It’s awesome. Beautiful, well-written, and perhaps the best piece of writing I’ve ever seen about “the surgery.” (This post isn’t a review of the zine, but I’ll give one anyway: Go buy it. Find a way to track down ellie, give her money, and get a copy.) It also brought up a lot of my fears, many of which I’ve been giving lip service to (“Of course I’m scared!”) but hadn’t really sat down and inhabited.
Continue reading 'I’m scared'»
See, it’s in my schedule! I promise!
I’m just over two months until V-Day, and at $5,262 on my surgery fundraiser. That is amazing, and I am overwhelmed by the generosity. So many friends, family members, and strangers have come forward to help me out. (And get silly gifts in return, most of which still need to be shipped. I promise I’m sending them out next week!
But I think we can do better.
An incredibly generous family donor has come forward to say that the next $2,369 in donations will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. For those keeping track, that means that – if I can get another $2,369 in donations from y’all – I’ll hit my $10,000 fundraising goal.
Some say it’s impossible. Some say it can’t be done. But to them I say NAY!
So, if you haven’t donated yet, now is the time! And thanks.
An op-ed from The Advocate has been making the rounds today, My Attraction to Trans People Is Not a Fetish, by Diane Anderson-Minshall. From the piece:
“…few women understand how [women] can be attracted to trans men and not be straight. I don’t know; sometimes there’s a beauty trans men exude that I am drawn to, like the dozens of lesbians before them.
Does that make me a fetishist? No. I think that just like your sexual orientation makes you attracted to men or women or both, my sexual orientation makes me attracted to trans men, trans women, and nontrans women.” (Emphasis added)
I’ve thought a lot about what it means to have a fetish, versus a predilection or a leaning-towards or a simple interest. So have lots of trans women I know; underlying our relationships is far too often the question, “Is this person attracted to me, or to me being trans?” So I use a rule of thumb about fetish-versus-not. I’ve heard others use it, including Dan Savage on his podcast. It’s pretty simple:
Are you attracted to me, as a person first and foremost? Or are you attracted to me, as a trans person, first and foremost?
Continue reading 'Trans attraction and fetishization – are we ‘real’ men and women, or not?'»
Earlier this week, I was on the L (or is it the El?) on my way to a teaching gig. We’d already traveled south past Belmont and Fullerton, and had descended into the subway system. Somewhere around Clark and Division, a strikingly attractive woman got on the train. I tried to take her in, without being too obvious about it: She had long smooth legs that ascended up into tight jean shorts, a plain white t-shirt filled out by full breasts, and a bright-eyed face framed by long blond hair. No specific part of her was noteworthy, but as a whole she unintentionally drew attention to herself, simply by existing. She parked herself, standing, next to the L doors. I sat a few seats in, facing her. I focused on my music, on the lights wooshing by, on the CTA announcements through the PA system.
At Chicago and State, there were a clump of CTA workers standing on the platform, all in their bright orange uniforms. One saw her, did a stereotypical construction worker up-and-down take, and waved.
She ignored him.
He tried again, calling out, “You’re beautiful.”
This, at least, received a tepid smile and a nod, before she turned away.
The construction worker smiled to his coworkers, gesturing back at the train and speaking animatedly as it pulled away from the station.
Continue reading 'I Like Being Trans: Missing out on Childhood Socialization, Femininity, and the dreaded Patriarchy'»