eli and i are working on a zine about people's relationships with their chests! it focuses specifically on trans* experiences, but cisfolks are welcome to submit, too.

please feel free to circulate widely.


Breasts. Tits. Chest. Binder. Bra. Pumping. Breast Forms. Boobs. Tatas. Pecs. Flat. Huge. Gone. Mastectomy. Estrogen. Reconstruction. Implants. Boob Job. Breast cancer. Nipple Piercings.

The Community Chest Project wants to hear about your relationship with your chest.

How do you define your chest? How do you identify? What words do you use to identify your chest, if any? How do you feel about your chest? Does your chest -- or the shape of your chest -- impact your identity? Has your relationship with your chest, or your chest itself, changed over your lifetime? Would you change your chest?

We are two trans masculine(-ish) folks working on putting together a zine about chests. For trans*, gender-variant, people with trans history, genderqueer, other-gender, and cisgender folks all, we think our chests can be one of the most complex sites on the body, both culturally and individually.
more .. about chests. )


stonewalled

i am standing in the footholds of my
history, looking up at a river sky from
a new york street like a boston street
like a san francisco street like a
maine street but here is where
explosions happened first, where
a queer kid took the heavy baton into
his skinned knuckles and said, "no," breathed
it out like it was life itself, like
it would erase the blood paintdrying
beneath his nose, like it would
reattach the spike broken from
the heel in the gutter broken
from the heel of the queen not
moving nearby on the pavement.
what can i do forty years later? play
my guitar like it's my heart breaking,
songs are sobs 'cause the curve
of a rainbow's edge can't contain
the sadness i feel here, surrounded
by straight women in purple dresses
and straight men wearing leather
shoes and queer men wearing little
white shorts who turn their
eyes from me, the too-queer queer.
i'm invisible in a place that
made me visible, and i'm scrambling
to collect pieces of queerness
as my colors -- red for blood, black
for leather, purple for the greyness
of who we are -- are taken
from their origins with us and painted new,
painted without pain, painted
by unskinned knuckles. what i can give
is not enough: sobs don't cure
assimilation, broken heels
don't glue themselves back together,
and i don't know if i have
the strength to take
the black baton in my hands
and hit back again
and again and again.
imagining how i might die everytime i use the bathroom

at the registrar of
the college that i'm leaving
the turquoise-turtlenecked woman
is acting like it's a major upheaval
to change my first name so it's
an "A" with a period beside it.
"i'll have to talk to my supervisor,"
she says, smiling.
she's Nice in the way that people
who have had diversity training are,
Nice like maybe she's got
kids who carry old ladies' groceries.
but i think she's one of those people
who when i say "trans" she'd rather
that i hide it, that i protect her from
doing calistentics with her brain
by wrapping my body and its boundaries
in a turtleneck of shame but
who at the same time might
say if i slept with her son
without splaying myself open
that i have no right to deception,
like  not ripping off my clothes
in the center square of town
yelling, "look! look! look!"
means her son can turn me
into another name in
the book of lives that have been
extinguished at the hands
of the phobic.
later, at a party, liquor
wrenches my mouth open wide
and i tell everyone listening
about the invisible identities
that make my unchanged
body mutant
and a girl swilling forties
asks about surgeries and
hormones 
a boy
in a leather jacket
asks about the difference
between sex and gender
but doesn't want to listen
when i talk about intersex
ion, when i talk about
what matters, when i talk
beyond pop-culture men
in dresses & vaginas with
big clits.
earlier the thing
that gets the turquoise woman
moving is not respect
for what i say i need
not a penchant for
satisfying the customer
but it's that i say
the girlhood that hides
inside the "A" period makes
me feel unsafe if i'm not in
control of it; it's that her
eyes get wide and worried.
it's not the fear i carry
of people
like the son i imagine she has,
like her, like boys in leather
jackets, like businessmen in
suits, like my mother,
like the girl swilling forties
who knew me before and
says my old name casually
being too able to see me. these people, able
to decide that what i say i am
is deception, that i break glass
to get to the extinguisher
when there's no fire,
that this trans
gression
is punishable by fines,
by hanging,
by ending it
in the living room
of my apartment,
in the kitchen of
a party,
in the bathroom next
to the stall that is
the only shield i have.
why is it that our
culture fears calling
what is what it is --
why is it that fearing
being accused of
continuing systems
of oppression
when that's exactly what
you do moves our feet quicker?
that yes,
at your little old corner-crumbling
desk in a public university
in maine, you
are part of the problem?
yes,
in your leather jacket
wanting to know
only about folds of
skin and your eyes
glazing over at
everything else, your
privileged disinterest--you're part
of the damn problem--
why can't i abbreviate
my name without cisgender
supervision? why
is this anger that
i feel something
i ought to tone
down, stop wearing
on the surface? why
do i have to explain
only the things
people want to hear
and not
every single
fucking
part
of my
beautiful
goddamn(ed) self?
 
ecology of man

the pope says i am responsible
for the destruction of the rainforest,
little butterflies with bright wings dying;
others say the war in iraq is my fault
soldiers expiring, the heaving of a thousand mothers wet on my neck

there's fraud folded into my skin
i'm an illegal immigrant from the land of girl
and i think i might have caused
the disintegration of the ecology of man
'cause i believe in blurry borders, and
my strange chest exhaling freezes civilizations

nomadic, i collect geography on my skin
like the dew of an aftershower:
ridges of maine and flecks of new england spittle, colorado sun;
the mist on the mirror hiding
the bermuda triangle between my legs

on the freeway there's jesus on the back of a car
and the driver is deflating with age,
wrinkled woman who doesn't have to swallow tears whole
when people call her she.
i think of the rainbow i wear with fear, swaddled
in dark clouds whispering knives trailing down my throat,
my queer shoulders1, my sex --

and the old laughlined pastor in midwestern mountains,
excommunicated for the sin of accepting my people,
writes that my mismatched body is a blessing, not a disguise
and still holds his wife's hand and thinks of his two children before he sleeps
i hold my own fraudulent hands steady
and face Judgment every day




1 reference to dallas marie spitzer's "my queer shoulders"
A police officer beats a transsexual woman in Memphis, TN at the precinct after being arrested for charges they don't specify (which were later dropped) as she is simply sitting in the lobby.

There's a video of the attack to boot. (Warning: It could be triggering because it is definitely violent.) Reading the news story attached to this video and the fact that this happened in JANUARY and no one started talking about it until JUNE pissed me off even more.

http://www.wmctv.com/global/story.asp?s=8515744





Shit like this is why I don't want to identify as transgender, but I will continue to do so because I'm not gonna be scared out of my comfortable identity by fuckhead assholes who think it's their right to violate other people. You want to beat or kill me for who I am? Go ahead. You have to live with the guilt afterward.

I want to show videos like this to my parents and say, "SEE, THIS IS WHY WE FUCKING NEED EQUAL RIGHTS AND WHY IT DISGUSTS ME THAT YOU GET TO SIT ON YOUR LITTLE PEDESTAL OF POWER AND LOOK AT ME, YOUR OWN FUCKING CHILD, AND LAZILY SAY, 'GAY RIGHTS ARE AGAINST MY RELIGION.' PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON THESE POLICE OFFICERS GET TO BEAT PEOPLE LIKE ME AND YOU ALL JUST SIT AROUND AND WATCH IT HAPPEN WHILE LEANING AGAINST YOUR FUCKING HETEROSEXUAL, BINARY-GENDER- PRIVILEGE-COLORED LIVING ROOM WALLPAPER COMFORTABLY WATCHING THESE THINGS HAPPEN ON TV -- IF THEY EVEN MAKE THE NEWS AT ALL, 'CAUSE BEATING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ISN'T NEWS-WORTHY IN MOST PLACES -- WHILE I AM SCARED TO WALK DOWN THE STREET WEARING A MAN'S SHIRT."

And you know what, you can tell me that I'm too angry about this, that perhaps I should take a chill pill and discuss things like this calmly and rationally, be quiet so as not to offend people or put them on the defensive -- nope, sorry, not right now. In ten minutes, yes, but not right now. (And I will never shut my mouth so as not to offend people ever.) These flares of anger are what siphon into the passion I carry with me that ensures that these beatings, this brutality, this awfulness won't continue in my lifetime if I have anything to do with it. This behavior is not okay. Beating people 'cause they don't look like you is not okay. Murdering people 'cause they don't look like you is not okay. Calling people "faggot" or "nigger" or "spic" or "dyke" is not okay.

(My fucking family refusing to stop using the words "queer" and "gay" and "faggot" as "swear words," in my mom's language, is not okay. Fuck my family. Until they decide to treat me like a human being and respond to my simplest of requests [to not use this language on the one or two times a year I am home], I will not allow them access to my emotional well-being.)

Anyway. Enough of that. I'm going to go exhale a few times and read Eat, Pray, Love. : )
I just finished reading The Last Time I Wore a Dress by Daphne Scholinski. Fantastic. I couldn't have read this book at a better time 'cause I've been experiencing a lot of internalized transphobia lately (mostly I've been getting frustrated with myself -- "why can't I just be female and deal with it? Why do I have to have all these special exceptions and shit?") and Scholinski's story reminded me that there is still so much work to do and that playing with my gender expression in ways that are comfortable to me and that asking others to address me by my chosen pronoun ("ze"/"zur" -- i.e., "I use Andrea's pronoun because it makes ze happy in zur everyday life") is okay.

Last night I was drinking lightly with some of my friends and a chaste game of Spin the Bottle occurred -- but what struck me was that none of the straight girls would kiss each other on the lips and none of the straight boys would kiss each other on the lips, either, and even for some of the straight boys kissing each other on the cheek was clearly uncomfortable, too. I was the only queer-identified person playing, and at one point, after one particularly spectacular display of the two straight boys playing getting the serious heebiejeebies about kissing each other on the cheek, I said in a light tone with a smile, "What, are you guys homophobic or something?" (I recognize that this was certainly not the best choice of language given the context, and who am I to challenge what people are comfortable doing with their bodies, but still. If both these boys had no problem kissing the straight girls playing the game and watching and egging on my super queer-friendly female roommate and I kissing but they got visibly uncomfortable kissing each other, then what gives?) Both of them got instantly defensive and they were like, "No, man, no, I love gay people, and some of my friends are homophobic and that shit is just so insane..." I wish I'd been thinking clearer and said something better-phrased and that I'd made a point about homophobia not having to necessarily be a bad thing and that homophobia doesn't always manifest itself in overt acts or declarations of actual hatred toward queer people.

I wonder about how defensive people -- especially individuals who may exist comfortably within mainstream spaces... )
So, I've been back from D.C. for three days ... which, I think, means it's time for a picture post!



Washington, D.C. )

What an amazing trip.

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unearthingbone

February 2012

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