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What Trans People Want You To Know About ‘The Danish Girl’

Hello, a tiny bit about me before I start. I’m Rhi/Alex and have been out as trans for just over a year (yay) and have a lovely girlfriend who is also a trans woman. I have just started volunteering with Gendered Intelligence, a charity for young trans people and was lucky enough to go to the trans network youth conference this year. I say all this just to let you know I’ve met many trans people of different ages and background. And oh yes. I have heard every view , from cis people, about The Danish Girl. Your opinion of ‘it’s just a movie’, ‘it’s good exposure’ or ‘they cast the best actor for the part’ is not unique. BUT I’m going to stop being grumpy and tell you what transgender people (not all of us we’re not a hive mind) want you to know.

I’m probably going to go and see this movie, and a best enjoy it as a movie and at worst get super pissed off and tense at how badly it handles everything. It is possible to enjoy this movie as a story and thats cool. But when it starts to spread bad information, thats a problem. (There is also the problem of a man cast to play a trans woman but thats another kettle of fish, I have written a 3000 word essay on the subject).

I’ll give you an example of boy meets girl, which I enjoyed. However they used the wrong terminology (I think it was ‘biological woman’ and ‘used to be a man’). I heard my parent use ‘biological woman’ shortly after watching it. Channel 4 use this expression to and its an incorrect and offensive turn of phrase.

Chanel 4 also made a TV show called Girls To Men, and they guys in it seemed cool and nice but the narration was so inaccurate and hard to watch. Was it better that the world saw these great guys at the expense of correct information and promoting the view that trans guys ‘used to be girls’? I think no, I think most trans people think no. It’s ok if your an ally and watching it because you will know they messed up, or be informed of it. But the general public won’t.

This happens all the time. The only show I can think of that I have seen portray trans people in a non offensive way with no mess ups is made by My Genderation. It was the first time I ever saw a non-binary person on a mainstream platform. It was made by a company of trans people, including Fox Fisher who I was lucky enough to meet. So out of a lllll the stuff out there its one thing that has been ok (and the one thing that has been the project of trans people). After all of that we get a bit pissed about how we are portrayed. We get annoyed that we are some thing to gawk at to cis people, and that there obsessed with what gender we ‘used to be’, and our hormones and surgery.

I looked at my gf the other day as she was changing clothes (I have permission to say this) and i though ‘this is what all the fuss is about’ as i looked at her body. all the documentaries, the harassment, the mystery of transgender. She has a lovely body don’t get me wrong, but its just a person under there. And when stories like the danish girl are told incorrectly we get away from that message, that trans people, especially trans women who face so much violence, are people. That message gets lost under the fetisisation of being transgender that hollywood puts in its stories to sell tickets.

Some trans people are hostile towards movies like The Danish Girl, they feel how they do about it because of their every day experiences leading up to the exasperation of trans women’s stories being told wrong, again, for the profit of cis people. The public want to see a cool movie and learn something, and that would be ok, as long as they did some serious googling afterwards to find out the right info and terminology (which they won’t do). I’m probably going to watch the film, and take it like a bed time story, but I also ordered Lili Elbe’s autobiography.

What we really want is respect and being erased by cis actors is not respect, being told how to feel about our own stories is not respect, having poorly researched documentaries to the level that they are insulting as the only form of representation is not respect. I want to see the film because I love trans stories and i’m not going to let anything ruin them for me. But cis people/people without trans people close to them, won’t see the flaws in works like the danish girl, and will leave worse than they came in, creating more work for trans people and their allies, as they try and correct the misinformation.

 

LINKS
(Don’t use the expression ‘man into woman’ , or the terminology ‘sex change’ this book is from the 1930’s) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-into-Woman…/dp/0954707206

http://www.mygenderation.com

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Who Should Play Transgender Roles?

Who Should Play Transgender Roles?

 

When considering the question ‘who should play transgender roles?’ when working in television, film and theatre it seems the answer should be obvious. However, unless the director or writer is trying to make a creative statement, most roles are filled by people of the same gender as the character and in the case of transgender characters, cisgender actors are largely filling these roles.

 

It has only been in recent years that transgender stories have been told in mainstream media, with the recent success of Orange Is The New Black, Transparent, and Dallas Buyers Club to name a few. However, in the majority of these recent productions the transgender characters (almost always transgender women) have been played by cisgender men.

 

There has been much debate as to whether cisgender men should play transgender women characters. The loudest voices in these debates often arising from transgender individuals frustrated with their lack of representation in acting roles, from LGBTQ people or straight cisgender people who have worked on pieces with transgender narratives.

 

Discussions and debate comes down to personal opinion, defensiveness of the work created, anger at misrepresentation and not considering LGBTQ experiences when casting. We can hope to improve this situation by examining what has worked well up until now and why it has worked well. We can also look at the nature of gender and how its performative nature can be worked with in an ethical way to best represent transgender people.

 

Transgender narratives are rare in media and theatre and when they are told, transgender women are often portrayed in a negative light.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Media Defamation (GLAAD), a US LGBT media monitoring organization, examined transgender television representation over a ten year period and found transgender characters were cast in a “victim” role at least 40% of the time. Transgender characters were cast as killers or villains in at least 21% of the catalogued episodes and storylines. Transgender characters were most often depicted as sex workers, ‘a fifth of all [transgender] characters were depicted as 20%’

It is important that transgender women actors have access to realistic transgender roles. If the only roles available to them are stereotypes and damaging to the LGBTQ community, they are forced to choose between work as an actor or ethical representation.

 

Only this year has a transgender woman played the role of a transgender woman in a television show in the United Kingdom. Bethany Black plays Helen in an episode of Channel 4’s Banana, which tell the story of a woman who becomes the victim of revenge porn. Helen’s story is not overshadowed by her transgender identity, unlike many other popular portrayals of transgender woman. These progressive roles are so rare and when they do come along they are not being given to transgender people to play as positive representations and role models.

 

In an example given in Cracked’s podcast Unspoken Stereotypes Movies Trick You Into Believing a contributor explains how the in television show Doll House, the lead character loses her sight. To play the part, the actress Eliza Dushku met with a blind woman on set. Dushku copied the woman’s movements but the director said she did not look ‘blind enough’, so she was asked to be clumsier and ‘more helpless’ so that audiences would think “ok, we believe she’s blind now”. ‘The acting didn’t look realistic, so they made her seem more helpless to conform to what people expected’. This sends a message to both the public and actors that these signifiers are what we should expect from blind people, consequently spreading misinformation.

 

This misinformation can have serious consequences. For example in Italy this escalated to the media sensationalism, accusing people of faking being blind, but the accusations were based on ignorance of the capabilities of blind people. This same problem can be applied to transgender representation. For many of us, our first exposure to minority groups is through television, film and theatre. It is the responsibility of these mediums to clearly show the context of their portrayals of these groups. If creating a narrative that the writer wants to be natural, realistic and believable, then the representations should correlate with the acting style. It can be argued that if transgender people are involved in the production of their stories, then the stories are more likely to be well informed and realistic.

 

In 2014, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, although the film is a biopic, the character of Rayon was created for the film. In Time magazine, Steve Friess says of the character

 

She’s a sad-sack, clothes-obsessed, constantly flirting transgender drug addict prostitute… there are no stereotypes about transgender women that Leto’s concoction does not tap into….she’s an exaggerated, trivialized version of how men who pretend to be women, as opposed to how those who feel at their core they are women behave…. she’s the only figure played consistently for comic relief, as when fake-Woodruff points a gun at Rayon’s crotch and suggests he give her the sex change she’s been wanting… hilarious.

 

Although Leto said he had spoken with transgender women (none of which have been credited or come forward) the problem of the stereotypical transgender woman could have been avoided if a transgender woman had played the part of Rayon or transgender people had been involved in the production of the film.

 

In contrast, in Transparent, an Amazon online series, the lead character Moira (a transgender woman) is played by Jeffery Tambour but the series is produced with a great amount of influence from transgender individuals. The creator of the show, Jill Soloway said on the production of the show

 

We have one gender-queer writer and three trans consultants, … we’ve had six or so trans people come through the writer’s room and inform how we’re telling the story. I would say the most important person in creating Moira is Jenny Boylan [a transgender woman] … she really had an empathy for the late-in-life transitioner. All of our trans consultants helped us be aware of the victim or villain path that most trans characters fall into. So we just wanted to make Moira the most normal person in the family.

 

Soloway based the story on her father’s own transition and cast all other transgender parts to transgender people. Amy Landecker who plays Moira’s daughter said of the casting of Tambour, a cisgender man, as Moira

 

[Soloway] casts from a very personal place … in her mind, she would see Jeffrey through the years and he reminded her of her father and I think she felt very deeply that he was the right actor for this part.

Transparent has been received well by reviewers and the LGBTQ community, being praised by the LGBTQ website, Pink News and Time Magazine.

 

Tambour brings a lot to the role, being the appropriate age and able to play Moira as a woman who has not taken estrogen. He also stated that he recognizes transgender people should play transgender roles. Soloway said of his casting ‘I think he’s got a kind of gender-queerness. He’s a big tall man, but he’s very feminine and very vulnerable and soft and sweet. He just seemed to embody the contradictions that I wanted Mort to have. Mort/Moira.’ Both Soloway and Tambour, informed by the transgender community, put a lot of work into the character of Moira. Consequently, this meant that Transparent avoided some of the issues that can arise by casting a cisgender man as a leading transgender women whereas other works, such as Dallas Byers Club, did not.

 

When receiving his Oscar Leto was heckled, ‘Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award’. Leto asked ‘What do you mean by that?’ (It is worth noting that as someone who researched a transgender role, Leto should be aware of the meaning of ‘Trans-misongyny’). The Heckler replied ‘you don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you’re a man.’ His response was “because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part? ‘So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian – they can’t play a straight part … you’ve made sure people that are gay … people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art’.

This type of response from someone outside the LGBTQ community encourages the attitude that the opinions of minority groups about their own portrayal are equal to, or less than, those who are appropriating their identities. A Cisgender person playing a transgender character has been compared to blackface, and is sometimes informally referred to as ‘transface’. Friess compares Leto’s role and the award he received to Hattie Mcdonald’s award for her ‘authentic’ portrayal of a black woman in ‘Gone With The Wind’ for which she received an Oscar (while sitting at a segregated table during the ceremony). Society does not consider it acceptable for a white actor to change their skin colour and play a character that is a person of colour. When acting in blackface there is a significant change in appearance and voice, as well as the character being an offensive black caricature.

It is argued that cisgender men playing transgender women are appropriating the bodies and experiences of transgender women. Leto’s response to being heckled is a good example of people’s differing views about gender, and if it is something that can and should be performed. He argues that the same argument with regard to cisgender individuals playing transgender roles can extend to gay people not being able to play straight roles. When acting with a love interest you are (most likely) acting out this attraction, no matter the sexuality of the actors coupled. When a cisgender man acts as a transgender woman they are acting as another gender and modifying their body. The portrayals of cisgender men acting as transgender women can, as previously discussed, lead to a character and performance based on stereotypes. When analyzing the problem of ‘transface’ this way, it is easy to see the parallels to blackface.

However, if gender is perceived as just another character trait that can be captured in a performance, just as any other character trait can be, does that justify cisgender people playing transgender roles? Feminist philosopher, Judith Butler, pioneered the idea of gender being performative, creating the term ‘gender performativity’ in her book Gender Trouble. Butler explains gender as ‘the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of sub- stance, of a natural sort of being. … there is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results’. Butler means by this that gender is created by our actions and the way we present our bodies, and that there not an innate gender within us that makes us act a certain way. If this is true then a cisgender actor can act out the ‘set of repeated acts’ and stylize their body with costume, and take on a transgender role just as they would take on charter traits from any other role.

Repeating gendered acts to experience what it like to be another gender is a good starting point for cisgender actors playing transgender characters but transgender people have had an entire lifetime of repeating these acts to inform and shape their gender. It would also seem that film and television do not want a transgender women character that could not, in some way, be read as a man.

Cisgender women playing transgender women in film often ends as a shock gag, with the men who have been lusting after them throughout the narrative reacting in disgust. Examples of this can be found Ace Venture (multiple people throw up after a transgender woman is stripped to her underwear in front of them, and her tucked penis can be seen through her underwear), Naked Gun 33 1/3 and The IT Crowd (after finding out the woman he has been dating is transgender, a character starts to cry and then has a physical fight with her, despite being very much in love with her beforehand). By casting cisgender men as transgender women the audience are always being ‘warned’ of the true sex of the actor, so as not to fall into the ‘trap’ of being attracted to a gender sex or gender they would not typically be.

Other arguments that transgender characters should be played by transgender actors relate less to artistic integrity and the quality of work being produced, but instead focuses on the positive effects it would have on transgender people. Laverne Cox is currently one of the most famous transgender actresses, also well known for her work as an LGBTQ activist. She plays Sofia in the television series Orange is the New Black, her story line showing many of the realties faced by transgender people, especially those in prison. Cox is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy as well as the first to be on the cover of Time Magazine. She is a prominent face in the transgender community, as well as an inspiration to transgender people. Cox is producing a documentary about CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman in a men’s prison.

 

McDonald spoke about her excitement at Cox being cast in Orange is the New Black, ‘I was like really in awe that a trans woman is getting this opportunity to shine and to be put in a more positive light because usually roles of trans women are filled by cis men and also, roles that are portrayed by trans women are usually sex workers or drug addicts. So to know the story of Sophia and what she’s been through and to have it sound so familiar … to know that this beautiful strong woman who I look up to, finally got her chance in life ’.

 

Cox is only one actress and yet she has had a large impact on the transgender community, a community that desperately needs role models and representation. Paris Lees, a writer, and trans activist said on representation, ‘it’s looking at the matrix, the mix, where everything is happening and not seeing people like you and me … You look for people that are respected, people that are taken seriously, people that are a part of things, and that can be very isolating when you look for yourself and you’re not there.’

 

Statistics from a survey taken by Pace in 2014 reveal that 59% of transgender people under 26 had consider taking their lives in the last year. Having positive and visible transgender representation in media and theatre could contribute a great deal to helping young people feel less isolated, and having transgender people play these parts would provide them with inspiration and role models. Jeffrey Tambour recognized the importance of authentic transgender narratives, ‘lives are at stake, … the conversation needs to go forward, and their needs to be freedom.’

 

Big names in the film industry will always pull more audiences than little know transgender actors, with recent examples like Eddie Redmayne being cast in The Danish Girl as a transgender woman, after winning multiple awards for his portrayal of Steven Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Since 1988, fourteen out of twenty seven Oscars for best actor have been won by actors portraying characters that have ‘significant mental or physical barriers to what people would consider a normal life’. This has included autism, blindness, ALS and living with HIV.

 

Through exposure and greater education these subjects may have become more normalized to the general public and the curiosity factor has died down. So now writers turn to society’s new curiosities, transgender people. The exposure of transgender narratives is helpful to educate and promote sympathy from the audience. However, it is these stories that are giving cisgender men recognition and awards for transgender struggles that they have not experienced, whilst transgender people are have fewer acting roles available and little recognition.

 

The nature of the film industry means slow progress for transgender actors playing transgender roles. Laverne Cox commented ‘It’s about business and we are in … [a] Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, so that market forces can’t be dismissed when casting decisions are made.’ Currently transgender actors aren’t being considered for roles that could instead use big name cisgender actors. However, it is possible that the breaks transgender actors need will come from the theatre and not film. There is the freedom in theatre to have greater autonomy over creative choices, especially in fringe productions. Transgender roles should go to transgender people when possible, it is clear both the transgender community and the productions in question benefit from casting transgender individuals in transgender roles. The production gains greater authenticity and avoids tired or offensive character traits, whilst the transgender community gains representation and strong role models.

If casting a cisgender person in a transgender role, it is important to follow the example set by Transparent, by consulting transgender people and having transgender people involved in the production.

 

References

 

BBC News (2014) BBC[Online] Entertainments and Arts BBC. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26107011 [4/6/2014]

 

Bregar, B. (2014) ‘The Creator of ‘Transparent’ Talks Amazon, Family Secrets, and TV Sexism’, New Republic, [Online] Available from: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116598/interview-jill-soloway-amazons-transparent [3/6/2014].

 

Couch, S. (2014) The Hollywood Reporter [Online] Available from: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jared-leto-heckled-accused-trans-677290 URL address [3/6/2014]

 

 

Cracked. (2015) ‘Unspoken Stereotypes Movies Trick You Into Believing’, The Cracked Podcast. [podcast] Available from: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/seemingly-harmless-stereotypes-hollywood-cultivates/ [3/6/2014].

 

 

Entertainment Tonight (2014) Golden Globe Nominee Jeffrey Tambor on His ‘Transformative’ Role in ‘Transparent’

[online video] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtN1N6WffiI [5/6/2014].

 

Friess, S. (2014) ‘Don’t Applaud Jared Leto’s Transgender ‘Mammy’, TIME, [Online] Available from: time.com/10650/dont-applaud-jared-letos-transgender-mammy/ [5/6/2014].

 

GLAAD Glad.org [Online] Available from: full http://www.glaad.org/publications/victims-or-villains-examining-ten-years-transgender-images-television [4/6/2014].

 

Jefferson, C. (2011) ‘How I learned To Hate Transgender People’, Good, [Online] Available from: http://magazine.good.is/articles/how-i-learned-to-hate-transgender-people [4/6/2014].

 

Katz, E T. (2014) ‘Amy Landecker: Jill Soloway Cast Jeffrey Tambor In ‘Transparent’ Because He Resembles Her Father’ , The Huffington Post, [Online] Available from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/amy-landecker transparent_n_5941356.html [4/6/2014].

Kyriacou, A. (2014) ‘Review: ‘Transparent’ – the true transgender tipping point?’, Pink News, [Online] Available from: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/09/25/review-transparent-the-true-transgender-tipping-point/ [5/6/2014].

 

Molinari, Ml. (2013) ‘Why Italy’s Media Hysteria Over The ‘Fake Blind’ Is Misplaced’, Equal Times, [Online] Available from: http://www.equaltimes.org/italys-media-hysteria-over-the-fake-blind-is-misplaced?lang=en#.VXNzumRVikq [3/6/2014].

Poniewozik, J. (2014) ‘Season Review: Transparent Is a Change for the Better’, TIME, [Online] Available from: time.com/3446282/season-review-transparent-is-a-change-for-the-better/ [4/6/2014].

 

Salih, S. (2006) ‘On Judith Butler and Performativity’. SEXUALITIES AND COMMUNICATION: 55 – 67

 

Stahler, K (2015) ‘Laverne Cox On The Casting Of Cisgender Actors in Transgender Roles: Why It Probably Won’t Change’, Bustle, [Online] Available from: http://www.bustle.com/articles/25344-laverne-cox-on-the-casting-of-cisgender-actors-in-transgender-roles-why-it-probably-wont-change [3./6/2014].

 

Strudwick, P. (2014) ‘Nearly half of young transgender people have attempted suicide – UK survey’, The Guardian, [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/19/young-transgender-suicide-attempts-survey [4/6/2014].

The Film Theorists (2015) Film Theory: Oscar Hacking pt. 2, How to Win Academy Awards for Best Actor and Actress, Film Theory.

[online video] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygVVbi1ILwQ [4/6/2014].

 

Bibliography

 

black-face.com

 

Transgender Representation In Film And Television, UCLA’s Feminist Newsmagazine – Antoinette Georgy

 

Trans Actors, Producers, Writers and Advocates Weigh In On Trans Representation In TV And Film – GLAAD

 

10 Facts About TransFace, YouTube – Grishno

 

The Rayon Effect: What Cisgender Actors Bring To Transgender Characters – E Jessica Groothuis

 

Is hiring cisgender actors to play transgender roles just as bad as blackface?, Quora – Sophia Hudson

 

Should Trans Screen Roles Be Played By Trans Actors? The Guardian, – Juliet Jacques

 

9 Cisgender Actors Who Played Transgender Characters – Jessica Klein

Felicity Huffman Discusses Cisgender Actors Playing Transgender Roles, The Huffington Post – James Micheal Nichols

How Amazon’s Latest Pilot Could Reshape Public Understanding of Trans People, advocate.com – Parker Marie Molloy

 

21 Times Actors Who Aren’t Actually Transgender Have Played Trans Characters, Buzzfeed – Rafe Posey

Cisgender Males Playing Transgender For Oscar Bait Is Still A Thing, Pajiba – Kirsty Puchko

 

What Transgender Looks Like in Pop Culture, U.S News – Tierney Sneed

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Everyday Feminism’s Top Ten Questions About Being Genderqueer … My Answers!

Everyday Feminism published an article about being genderqueer and some of the frequently asked questions we get asked. I recommend reading the original first. Here are my answers.

1. So Are You a Boy Or a Girl?

boygirlno

2. No, But What Are You Really?

ummm Genderqueer. Non-Binary. I’m AFAB (assigned female at birth) but its not an excuse to treat me as female or as a woman. It’s unrelated to my gender. I have this way of thinking, If you wouldn’t treat a guy the way you treat me don’t treat me that way. If you would call a guy ‘love’ or ‘babe’ or hug them for a really long time then you can do that with me, and I know that differs from person to person. But I catch people using gendered ways to relate to me, that seem to be excused because what they are looking at looks like a woman sometimes. Another way of doing it which I also like is using both options. Like my partner will flip back and forward between calling me handsome and pretty. So do both, or do neither.

3. But What About Biology?

I really don’t want to talk about my … biology.

4. Which Bathroom Do You Use?

Woman’s/Female. Sometimes I will use the disabled if it’s a viable option. I hate having to use the woman’s bathroom but I feel even more uncomfortable with the idea of using the men’s. Ideally I would use a neutral one.

5. Are You Gonna Get ‘The Surgery’?

Next question. They say this in the article but really, don’t ask people this. They’ll volunteer the information themselves if they are keen to talk about it.

6. ‘They’ for a Singular Person Is Grammatically Incorrect!

  1. No it isn’t.
  2. You use it all the time when you don’t know the gender of someone. Example – ‘I have a meeting with my new boss today. I haven’t met them before, I’m a bit nervous, I hope they’re friendly’.
  3. I don’t care, please just respect my pronoun choice.
  4. You are not the first person to inform me of this opinion, I have done my arguing about this. So forgive me if I’m short with you but it’s a discussion I’m done with having.

7. Why Do You Have Boobs One Day and a Flat Chest Another?

Because I own one binder (because they are expensive) and the cut doesn’t go with all the clothes I own.

Because they are very hot.

And most importantly because some days I want to have a flat chest and others I don’t.

8. Are You Dysphoric?

Yes.

9. Am I Gay If I Think You’re Hot?

Well, I would say if your a man and your attracted to my male-ness or a woman and attracted to my female-ness, you might have some pansexual/bisexual feelings going on. But really , no. You can be straight and find one person of the same gender you like and still identify as straight if you want to, you just like that ONE person (same with gay people). Technically because I’m not of a gender you can be opposite to you can’t be binary and be straight/gay with me. But it’s not a term I get picky about. I’m in a relationship with a woman and sometimes we say we are lesbians and it’s not a huge issue to me. I call it a ‘queer relationship’ most of the time.

10. What Kind of Sex Do You Have?

Sexy sex.

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Very Short Stories

I’m practising writing some VERY short stories (about 13 words long). I might submit them for an anthology. I’m giving them titles here, but I’m not allowed to submit them with titles.

Lesbian Problems

'She’s not my friend, she’s my girlfriend. Back off.'

Anticlimax

Filled with excitement from her picture I type ‘hi’.
Send.
Now we wait.


Sneak Preview

I ordered mussels. She saw my tongue in action. Second dates’ tomorrow.

Love Wins

Jonathan would have asked him regardless. But was relieved they could call it marriage.

Co-habiting

I had things, you had things.
We have things.
Where’s my stuff gone?

FML

I didn’t remember there being sex in this show when I wasn’t watching it with family.

Empath

I know you're sad. I won't tell anyone.

 

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Best Orange Is The New Black Season 3 Quotes

My favourite episode of the new season of Orange Is The New Black is Finger In The Dyke (episode 4). Here are my favourite quotes from that episode, pretty much my favourite quotes from the entire series. Its not that spoiler, there are some but it won’t ruin the episode and definitely not the entire season. I find a lot of what was said really universal about identity and being yourself.

Young Boo – You’re aware of how stupid that is, right? That I have to go out and pretend to be something I’m not to make her happy?

***

Alex – Your wish is my command, princess., Oh, that’d be a fun role-play.

Genie and Aladdin. “Free me from this lamp, street urchin!” No? All right, we’ll work up to it.

***

(Boo is going to pretend to be a converted lesbian to get money from fundamentalist churches. She’s being helped by a nun and another inmate who gets money from them. They are going through what she should say to them.).

Boo – “As he lieth with woman, they are both committing an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood will be upon them.

” Boom.

Sister – And?

Boo – Leviticus, 24601.

Sister – 23:13, 20. Not Jean Val-jean’s prison number.

Boo – Good catch.

Sister – Thou shalt not make musical references.

Boo – Why not?

Pennsatucky – Because that’s, like, the gayest thing on the planet and even I know that.

Boo – That is an ugly stereotype about gay men. See, everybody knows my people are stage managers, not performers.

***

Boo – Nobody is talking about conceding my hard-earned position as Lord of the Lesbians.

***

Boo- Oh, I wish I had some sob story that would explain everything. Well, sorry to disappoint you, sugar. Ain’t no dramatic origin story here. Just a big old dyke who refuses to apologize for it.

***

(Flash back, Boo with her girlfriend).

GF – Your mom is sick and you’re not gonna go see her? That’s not normal.
Boo – You’re right, I’m not normal.
I’m queer. [gasps] Wait, did you not know we were lesbos? My bad, I should have told you.
You must have been very confused.

***

(Flash back to Boo at a hospital to visit her dying mother. Her father sees her outside the hospital room and wants her to change her clothes).

Boo – I have been her daughter for 42 years.

Now don’t you think she could have taken some of that time to work on accepting me for who I am, rather than mourning every fucking thing that I am not?

Boo’s Father – I understand that whatever this is, is important to you, but it’s a costume, that’s all.

The rest of us, we get up, put on a suit and a tie, we go to work.

You think that’s how I wanted to dress five days a week? No, of course not.

But no one gets the privilege of being themselves all the time, Carrie.

No one.

Now, if you want to go in there and upset her, I’m not gonna stop you.

But you need to decide whether your costume is worth what it’s costing you.

Boo – I have had to fight for this all my life, Dad.

All my life.

Strangers, girlfriends, fuck, even my own parents all asking me to be something that I am not.

Do you have any idea what that feels like? Like, your whole fucking existence is being denied, like “Whoa, you’d be better off if you were invisible”? Yeah.

I refuse to be invisible, Daddy.

Not for you, not for Mom not for anybody.

***

Boo – Jesus was a fag. He said, “This is my body, eat me!”

***

(Boo was dressed very feminine to talk to the fundamentalist Christians. She decided not to go through with it).

Pennsatucky – I’m glad you’re back.

Seeing you like that was scarier than seein’ that dolphin penis at SeaWorld. Around all that water, it looked out of place, you know.

Some ladies just ain’t meant to look lady-like.

Boo – Now, my mother would disagree.

She’d say, “Don’t be a salmon.

Pennsatucky – Is that a vagina thing?

Boo – No. Salmon, they swim upstream against the current.

Pennsatucky – Oh.

Boo – Wish I’d said goodbye to her.

***

Pennsatucky – you stood up for yourself, and that’s more than I can say.

Boo – No, I just showed them who I really am.

A big, stupid, stubborn pussy-loving dyke.

Pennsatucky – Hey, well, listen, if that’s who you are, then that’s who you are.

And there’s no use in fightin’ it, and if you ain’t gonna fight it, you might as well embrace it, or else you’re living in purgatory.

Boo – Fuck yeah.

Pennsatucky – Here’s to heaven or hell and nothing in between.

2

Queer Life/I Am A Genderqueer Balloon

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/12/15/a-9-year-old-girl-gave-this-hearfelt-letter-to-her-teacher-after-he-came-out-as-gay/

I recommend reading the entire article for context. I think its interesting because when I was a kid, if some one asked me if I thought people who ‘were gay or lesbian were bad or wrong in some way’ I would have probably said yes, but if you asked me why I wouldn’t have known (bear in mind section 28 was repealed in 2003 and I was at junior school between 1994 – 2005 so school wasn’t going to tell me jack all). I sort of never thought about it much until when I was older and just sort of realised its all fine (which is bloody lucky!)

Kids don’t really think about it, thats why they are so accepting, but on the flip side, they don’t think about it much so they believe anything they are told from family, other children, the media ect … Parents need to talk about these things to their kids, or it will be left to playground insults of calling each other gay to shape there perception of sexuality. I think if I had been educated a bit earlier about this (or at all actually) I would have know more about myself. I never knew I had the feelings I did because I never thought it was something I could have. Of course I knew about LGBTQ people but I never thought that could be ME.

Over the years everything became more confusing and it wasn’t until I went to university that I even started to really engaged in what it meant to be bi-sexual (a label I no longer identify with), I had the attraction but I never spoke about it much unless in flippant terms, or got involved in the LGBTQ community. My life has changed because of engaging with these people, not just because I’ve made a lot of friends, but because I started to learn about things. The more I knew there were names and explanations for how I felt, something many other people felt, the more I felt them. Maybe thats sounds odd but it was like I was being given permission to be me.

I found out the label ‘Queer’ was a thing and looked into it’s meaning and took it as my own. I felt bi-sexual wasn’t really accurate and although queer can refer to a number of things I find it better to be vague then explain than use a term that isn’t quite right and have people assume the wrong thing.

Back to about feeling like I was being given permission to be me. At some point I realised I really started missing wearing jeans. I think I was watching some of Arielle’s videos, and looking at her style and jokes about how lesbians dress and I was like ‘I wouldn’t mind trying that’. I had owned a shirt for a while and loved wearing it but never thought to buy any more. I got more. And more. And irritated when I didn’t have any to wear, like I used to feel when I had to wear school uniform. At the same time my undercut expanded and my hair got ‘accidentally’ cut short. I thought about how when I talked about ‘women’ in contexts like feminism I never really felt like I was talking about me, but some other group. I never worried I was manly, I never have been and never will be. I have traits some might consider male, but I don’t really by that way of thinking.

I knew a few people who didn’t identify with gender, and the more I thought about who they were, the more I saw that was who I was.

So no I have to leave past tense behind. I’ve felt this way for a few months but didn’t want to say. I know there are harder things to share with the world. But I’m still scared. I’m worried that people won’t get it, will ask me to explain constantly. What do I say to strangers who mis-gender me? What if I realise in a years time of whatever this is not the case and have to go ‘sorry guys I’m not actually genderqueer’. What if men or queer women don’t like me in a romantic way because they don’t see me as a woman?

But thats what I’m trying to say now in this really round about way. That I don’t identify as a man or a woman. I’m just this floating thing. Like a balloon. A genderqueer balloon. This started as a Facebook status and after about 200 words I knew now was the time just to bloody get it out there.

I like girly stuff, I do love a good skirt and heals. And I like shirts, and guys hats. And it’s not all about aesthetic. I wonder why I didn’t know sooner, but then I look about my red, vaguely gendered bedroom thats been this way since I was 13 and think maybe it was pretty obvious I just had no words.

And that brings me back to the point I made at the beginning. Educate young people so they have the words, so if they have these feelings they know what they are and don’t have to wait as long as I did to figure out who they are.

Some days I’ll look girly, some days I won’t. Some days i’ll pull a face at heavily gendered things and others I’ll love them. I don’t know, I just take each day at a time.

So would you mind they/them for me as a pro-noun?

I can’t keep just doing it my head anymore, its a real thing of me now, it seems so silly to keep it inside.

And I totally reserve the right to realise I was incorrect, although I can’t see that really happening.

Thanks.

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First picture I took of me in my newly expanded non-binary gender wardrobe.