Monday 25 November 2013


Here's trans MMA fighter Fallon Fox responding, with class, to something I've dreaded reading about for a long time : her first professional fight loss. I was dreading that loss because I was worried that bigots in the media would make whoever beat her into some kind of hero. This seems not to have happened yet, possibly because, to judge from her petty post-match comments, the woman in question, Ashlee Evans-Smith, has slightly less class than the fart I'm holding in as I type this. It's difficult to build someone as a hero if they win a fight and STILL whine like a little bitch afterwards, after all. So, this was much in my mind this week. And so, as is usually the case when something preoccupies me, I wrote a poem about it. And here it is. (Note: Cesare Lombroso, who I reference in this poem, created the pseudo-science of physiognomy which, essentially, claimed you could predict whether someone was a criminal or not based on their facial features. It's my contention that the idea that there are huge differences between genders physically, which give trans athletes an innate advantage and also mean that we're easy to spot, are of the same kind of order of BS as Lombroso's nonsense. And, as studies show there seems to be much more physical variation within genders than between them, I contend that in the future most of us will look on this denser-bones-bigger-hands-manly-chi nonsense in the same way)

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Why it matters

Some good news today... ...and some news that's less good. Don't ever tell me these two things are not connected. Every ad like this, every transphobic joke on TV, every nudge-nudge comment, every 'look how politically incorrect I am' column from professional opinion-havers in the press, every scaremongering Public Service Announcement designed to inculcate fear of children who happen to be trans - all these things make it easier for people to dehumanise us. To act as if our lives don't matter. To behave as if our lives count less than theirs. To kill us and get away with it. Many of the deaths occurred in countries like Brazil or Honduras: here in Britain we tend not to have open murders of trans people, but we have a press that hounds people like us into taking our own lives. And it shouldn't matter where the murders happen:everything we do to fight transphobia, to counter the structural violence of a cissexist society, makes it harder for people to kill us anywhere. So today, remember the 238 names of those murdered this year. Remember those who took their own lives because of persecution. Remember, and mourn, and then keep fighting.

Friday 15 November 2013

We, not Elektra

Not for a father, no,
nor the time-transplanted eyes
which watch on Windows Media,
nor for marks or carny rubes
or peep-show anchorites:
this is and is not show,

is/is-not earnest, mat is mirror,
diptych-ground where furies fight
off resolution. Whose arm? Thigh?
Whose cry of trapped frustration?

Whose flesh by fingers reddened?
Who is losing?

Who’s Heel? Who’s Babyface?
Who’s Self? Who’s Other?
Who’s hammering, who taps?

Shall I be Mother?

Wednesday 13 November 2013

These are only the murders in 2013

The statistics for this year's Trans Day Of Remembrance are in. As usual, they make grim reading. While the overall figure may be down, this is due to a large ( and welcome ) fall in the number of murders in Brazil. In other countries, sadly, the numbers have gone UP. Most distressingly, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of trans minors being murdered. It's no coincidence that this occurs as we see increasing targeting of trans kids by TERFs and the religious right. Those who stir up hatred against trans people should remember that their words have a bodycount, and an increasing number of those bodies are the bodies of children.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Autogynephilia and cis women

I've written here before about the many problems I, as, among other things, a psychology graduate, have with the deeply unscientific concept of autogynephilia, a 'paraphilia' concocted by some soi-disant psychologists to demonise trans people for, essentially, daring to be queer and/or sexual. I've always wondered if there might be a way to show the scientific dodginess of this concept, and so I'm rather pleased to see that someone has: and a very simple way to do it it is too. How do you question the validity of autogynephilia as a diagnosis? You test cis women to see if the test indicates that they show signs of autogynephilia. Turns out, they do.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Bathroom Issues 2

The Pacific Justice Institute have started posting their transphobic lies about a girl who is ON SUICIDE WATCH on YouTube now. Please flag this tissue of lies as abusive. And just in case anyone reading this blog thinks there may be some justification in the PJI you wanna know what happens if trans women are allowed to use the same bathrooms as cis women? Do you REALLY wanna know? Are you READY for this? Because I don't think you're actually ready for this. Okay, you think you're ready for this. Well, don't say I didn't warn you. Here goes... Trans women using the same bathrooms as cis women will lead to... ...drum roll... ...TRANS WOMEN PEEING. That's it folks. That's all that'll happen. Really not that big a deal. Some women get to pee. That's it. It's nothing. Unless you're a trans woman whose bladder is infected from constantly holding it in. Which happens a lot. Or Chrissy Lee Polis, who was assaulted for using the ladies' bathroom in a Baltimore McDonald's. But if you're cis, and not a massive transphobe? Trans women using the right bathrooms has NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER on you.
I pass, camera on a phantom ride, the hospice where my grandma - no, my auntie - died. Grandma, not grandmother; auntie, never aunt: the diminutives by which we know our relatives. 'Everyone is someone's' - news-murmuring piety - true as cliché - itself cliché - itself a recursion of certitude. There are four lights. I show you the Overman. The Politics of Ecstasy in corridors where freshened air concealed the disinfectant smell. Exercising in the room where she was dying. Anorexic sociopathy. The suits that never felt right, the sunglasses I wished to wear all day the day of the funeral.

Monday 4 November 2013

I was gonna call this entry 'The New Blackface'...

...but if Hallowe'en taught us one thing this year it's that the old blackface never really went away. Nevertheless, I want to talk about something that's analogous. As always, these things depend on context. We may still get yahoos thinking it's funny to dress as a murdered kid on Hallowe'en, but in some ways we HAVE moved on. I was watching a documentary last week about the 50th anniversary of the UK's National Theatre, and one of the things the film covered was NT director Laurence Olivier's cringeworthy turn in blackface during a production ofOthello. Some people thought this unacceptable but for many the prevailing attitude was that the play was the thing, and it didn't matter if Dear Larry was covered in boot polish as long as Our Nation's Finest Actor was playing The Moor (even if he was hamming it up like crazy and making questionable sotto voce jokes to other actors during rehearsal). Some people even praised him for his decision to play Othello as a black man with (what Olivier thought was) a black accent. Despite all this, things have moved on. We wouldn't, these days, claim it was okay for an actor in a serious production to black up (comedy still has a blackface problem, hugely, but in legit drama at least blacking up is a no-no now). We certainly wouldn't praise a supposedly serious actor who decided to slap on the polish, roll their eyes and start acting like some horrendous parody of what they think a black man is. If we're talking about a cis man playing a trans woman, however...well, the film's the thing, isn't it? It shouldn't matter whether the actor is cis or not as long as the Nation's Greatest Actor-Who-Also-Happens-to-be-in-Some-Pompous-Emo-Band gets to play a trans woman. And hey, in a way, isn't Jared Leto being brave? Isn't he doing A Good Thing and Increasing Awareness by acting like (what he imagines to be) a trans woman? Is he heck. What he's doing is the same thing Olivier did: presenting as some kind of social awareness victory what is in fact a caricature, however well-intentioned, of an experience he'll never fully understand, and in the process denying trans actors - and there are GREAT trans actors out there - of a role that should be theirs. If Dear Larry had had any decency he'd have got out of the way and let a really good black actor play Othello, and if Pretty-boy Jared had any he'd get out of the way and let a trans actor play the role he's now getting brownie points for. He'd be advised to. As I say, Larry's Moor is a deeply embarrassing turn to watch these days. And a few years down the line, Jared's little transface turn is going to look every bit as cringeworthy.

Bathroom lssues

Once again, American 'Christians' are applying a novel interpretation of their Holy Book's commandments about bearing false witness in order to whip up fear of trans kids using the correct toilet facilities. Goodness knows how they square this with their consciences. Unless, of course, some of us don't count, which doesn't seem a very Christian notion. It's almost as if their 'religion' isn't a genuine attempt to live in accordance with a challenging set of ethical values but a form of emotional masturbation which makes them feel smug and superior to others. Surely not. People like that are why I wrote this poem. And I plan to keep performing it until stuff like this stops being an issue.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Events, dear girl, events

I know, I know, I say I'm going to update more regularly and then I vanish for a fortnight. The wireless card in the increasingly battered laptop I've been toting around since 2009 has started, HAL-like, to emit a series of increasingly disordered commands before it finishes up with an off-key rendition of 'Daisy', so I can at most get on-line for five minutes before the thing seizes up. I *could* have updated from my phone and if I were on the move I would have (what's the point of having a snazzy stylus-thing attached to it otherwise?) but using the phone to file when I'm in the house just seems annoying somehow. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer the feel of keys under my fingers. Even if, as now, I'm having to file from Newcastle Central Library, which has its own internet issues but at least allows me to get on here from something on which I can actually type. I'm assured I can buy some kind of device at maplin's which'll restore the laptop to full working order and I'm gonna do that in due course but for now. here we are. Here is not where I'm going to be later this month. I'm doing two major gigs in November, Forked in Plymouth, which I'm really looking forward to because it means I get to perform on the same bill as Joelle Taylor, and Jawdance in London which I'm looking forward to because, well, it's Jawdance. I did the open mike there once, back in, I think, 2011, and it was an amazing night - the first night when I got to see Anna Chen perform (thus inaugurating the continuing tradition of me using every opportunity I get to try and convince North East promoters, thus far unsuccessfully it has to be said, to book her for an event up here), and the first time I saw the film of Innua Ellams' poem 'Candy-coloured Unicorns and Converse All-Stars', which was, in a somewhat indirect way, an influence on my own film, 'Letter to a A Minnesota Prison'. Which is, coincidentally, also being shown in Plymouth this month but at a Forked Special on Monday, not the same night I perform there. But get to it if you can because, as well as my own film, all the other films are amazing as well. On a personal level the film I'm most jealous of is Deborah Stevenson's, mainly because it opens with a long tracking shot with no words over it, whereas me, Degna Stone and Laura Degnan were essentially hacking 'Letter...' to pieces in session after session to make the whole thing fit the running time. Silence? Atmosphere? Luxury! One day I probably ought to write up a full account of the process of putting that film together, a process which involved a lot of meetings, some strange experiences in London, a walk-on appearance by everybody's favourite money-grubbing American transphobe and, at one point, me spending entirely more time than I would have wished to hanging around Peterlee Bus Station. One day, yes, but this is not that day. Today is basically about me saying come and see me in London or Plymouth if you can, the gigs'll be mint. So, y'know, that thing that I mentioned in that previous sentence there, do it. Please? Thanks.