Being Queer Offline

Because I am not out as mtf, I only talk about gender related stuff online, and I sometimes feel like my identity only exists online, like I live two separate lives. I’m not quite sure what my problem is, but I just can’t integrate my gender into my daily life. I feel like I’m on auto-pilot until I get online again. How do I bring identities I can only express online into my “real” life?

Well, I think there are a number of ways that you can do this, and they all depend on what you think matters in terms of you expressing your identity. First of all, I don’t know if it’s something you’d be interested in, but on Facebook you can now “customize” your gender; while you don’t actually need to put in “I am Trans” or anything (though you can), you can make the site use either he/him, she/her, or they/them for you. This might just be my skewed perception, but in a lot of ways I think of Facebook as a bridge between my online life and my offline life, so I’m really excited about their new options re: gender.

Is there any overlap with the friends you have online and the friends you have offline? I obviously don’t know if you go to UW or not, but is there a center like the Q Center at your school or in your area where you could establish queer connections? Something like Queer Youth Space? I think having ties to queer life in your world is immensely helpful for a lot of reasons, one of which being the comfort of having a concrete place of support and acceptance. For classes, email or contact your professors/teachers before terms start and tell them if you have a preferred name and what pronouns you need them to use for you.

Are there small physical things you can do/are interested in doing/feel comfortable doing? Painting your nails is obviously not something restricted to or required of any one gender, but it’s definitely perceived as a very feminine display. I always like having my toenails painted, because it’s fun and creative and pretty, but it’s just for me. Are there things that you’ve wanted to do in the past, but avoided in fear of outing yourself? Can you build up to them, find loopholes, make them more possible, more subtle? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but anything I could outright tell you to do would be loaded with assumptions of knowledge that I don’t have on your life and your preferences. I want to make sure you do this on your own terms. I also don’t want you to just dive in headfirst; your safety and comfort is as important as your expression of self, so sacrificing one for the other is going to leave you in a good place. I’m glad that you at least have an online outlet for this expression and experience, that’s really great! I hope you’re able to bring more of yourself into your world offline. Good luck!


How Do I “Do” Bisexual?

I am a feminine female and recently came to identify as bisexual. I am in an open relationship with my boyfriend, so I have been able to have experiences with women as well. My question is now… I don’t know how to “do” bisexual. I have been raised all my life to flirt with guys, appeal to guys, etc. As a feminine woman, I find it hard to know if other women are interested in me, simply because I’ve been told that I “don’t look bisexual”. I feel like I’m in middle school all over again! Will all this just happen naturally over time? Where’s a good place to start so I can get more comfortable talking/flirting with girls in that way?

I think more than anything this is something that will happen naturally for you, but I think what would be really helpful for you would be to take a step back and think about your history of interacting with men under a sexual context and how it could translate. Outside of societal expectations, I really don’t think there’s that much of a difference. What nonverbal signals did you send out to let a dude know you were interested? Lots of eye contact? Laughter regardless of whether or not they said something funny? Playing with your hair or lips? Subtle physical contact when it’s totally not required? Those are all pretty universal flirting signs, regardless of who it’s coming from. Flirt with someone the way you’d want to be flirted with, if that makes sense. Have confidence and be earnest, I don’t think there’s really a trick to it. I feel weird writing this because I am embarrassingly bad at flirting, but this is definitely what I believe! Also, I think I’ve mentioned this once in an entry before, but I honestly think that like, OKCupid is really effective here? You can list yourself as bisexual, check the box for “I don’t want to see or be seen by straight people,” and just get some practice talking to girls under that context. And as much as you can, ignore the whole “you don’t look bisexual” thing. I think I’ve voiced my thoughts on how I feel about that kind of mindset enough that doing so again would be redundant, but the people who say that are terribly misguided and I just don’t want that to affect your sense of self! This entry might be somewhat useful to you in that regard, though. I hope this helps! Again, I really think that it won’t be a big leap for you, but I wish you all of the luck in the world.


API Sexuality and the Media

Have you ever thought about how media impacts the way you view your sexuality?

How does being API in the United States influence the way you think about gender roles and relationships?

Join API Chaya in collaboration with FASA sa UW as we explore these questions together on Wednesday, February 12 at the Ethnic Cultural Center in the Native Room from 4-6pm!

API Chaya is a 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to end systemic violence in our communities.

We envision a community free from violence. The mission of the API Chaya is to organize communities; to educate, train, and offer technical assistance; and to provide comprehensive culturally relevant services on domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, service providers, survivors, and their families. We are one of the few organizations in the country that serves Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, survivors, and their families. We also assist mainstream service providers who serve API refugees and immigrants.

Visit API Chaya‘s website for more information!
http://www.chayaseattle.org/


HRT and Invalidation

Dear Queer, I am an amab trans woman. For much of my life I identified as a woman, but had to (and still have to) keep it secret from much of my family and friends in fear that they might disown me or worse. I have considered HRT but am currently very incapable of affording it. Not only that, but I’m not 100% sure I want to undergo HRT. I feel as though my identity is constantly being dismissed and erased, even among my queer friends, simply because I haven’t undergone -or don’t fully plan to undergo- HRT. There isn’t much I know regarding the procedure, and there aren’t many resources available in my area. Do you have any general advice for my predicament?

First and foremost I want to apologize for the way people have treated your hesitance with HRT. That’s really not cool, and I’m sorry that you have felt invalidated for this, because that should not happen. The fascination and borderline objectification of the trans body is unfortunately not limited to those outside of queer communities. You are a woman, your body belongs to a woman, and that does not become more or less true just because of what it looks like. Having access to hormone therapy is a privilege that many do not have, for reasons similar to your own. It’s expensive, it requires support, and it’s a process.

Here are some great resources RE: trans health that will be immensely helpful for you to look into:

http://www.icath.org/default.html
http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/
http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/About/Committees/GenderandSexuality/TransgenderHealthCare.aspx
http://thefenwayinstitute.org/

Two things to keep in mind, that these websites will confirm to some degree: you do not need to “live as ___” for a certain amount of time before you qualify for HRT. Also: not everything estrogen will do to you is permanent, and stopping treatment is always a possibility. I know you’re kind of on the border about whether or not to even consider it an option, but I want to make sure your ambivalence is not only a result of the permanence or ease of access. I’m giving you these resources not because I want to back any of the pressure you’ve felt towards it, but because I want you to have as much information as possible in case it becomes something you want and a possibility in your life. A lot of things go into what most people consider a “full transition” – but what parts actually matter to you? Don’t wrap your life and your decisions around what people perceive to be The Trans Experience, I don’t think that will ever really fulfill you emotionally.

If you would feel comfortable, I would really encourage you to talk to your queer friends especially about the way they treat your identification as a woman. I can’t stress enough that I want you to reject those who say that you need to undergo this MASSIVE physical transition in order to be validated in what you already know and have known for a long time now. I specify the queer friends because you do have the common ground of belonging to a gender/sexual minority with them, there’s less ground to cover and they will undoubtedly have more empathy than those who aren’t queer. Honestly, a good conversation starter is the recent Janet Mock and Piers Morgan debacle; Janet Mock is incredibly articulate in the fact that, though a physical transition was something she wanted and benefited from, that’s not what made her the person she is.

I hope I said something constructive, please feel free to write back for clarification or whatever else you might need. Good luck!

Oly


Starting a GSA

I’m starting a GSA at my school and I want to have meetings with different topics each week. I want the topics to focus more on less well-known issues like the biphobia, etc. Do you have any ideas of what I could talk about?

Oh awesome, this is awesome. This is really cool of you to take upon yourself! Two huge tips I have from the get-go: 1) stress intersectionality! Put a spotlight on overlapping groups of marginalized people, don’t let the people in your future GSA associate queer issues with only white, thin, able-bodied, wealthy people! 2) Make it interactive, and not only in the context of having an open discussion. One thing I think is really helpful is asking people what they know and what they want to know more about and what they just simply don’t understand, at the very beginning and as you move throughout the topics. This will definitely require ice breakers first, though. Ok I’m gonna list out some potential topics of conversation (in no particular order!) and add some resources and whatnot that I think you could find useful.

  1. Concepts of power, privilege, and oppression on a very basic and translatable level to work with. It’s really important for there to be a level of understand with these issues before moving into the complication of them in practice.
  2. Transgenderism (this is specific to a trans woman’s experience but http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/591565 it’s also very flashy), transmisogyny (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9I8euP4mEE&noredirect=1), non-binarism, gender as a social construct, androgyny (and complications: http://boldlygo.co/36/ this article is amazing in my opinion BUT there is a danger of people reading this and taking from it “androgyny is bad” and that’s not what I think you should be trying to get across; instead just stress that these issues are complicated and are deserving of critical thinking), body dysphoria, etc.
  3. Biphobia! Is really important to talk about! (I love this article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/gaby-dunn/2013/01/girls-dont-count/) An interesting conversation would be the difference between bisexual and pansexual. There’s a ton of media depiction of biphobia, especially in Glee w/r/t Brittany and Santana’s relationship, Blaine’s soiree with Rachel (if I remember correctly), etc. Something that plays a big key in both of those examples as well as the article is the assumption that in the end, any given person wants a man at the end of the day if queerness is even on the table, which is sexist as all hell.
  4. Asexuality (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKJ_MZNv2GY I like this video because it’s not a sexual person telling you what asexuality is, it’s a sexual person looking at the concept with care and grace and complicating it in a productive way… and she’s right, there’s a LOAD of resources out there, especially asexuality.org), asexual erasure, the possible dangers of growing up asexual when you don’t know that’s even an option
  5. Poverty and homelessness amongst queer youths, systems of criminalization against queer people http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/disproport-incarc.pdf, http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/disprop-poverty.pdf, http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/disprop-deportation.pdf this can tie into the objectification of trans women and the accessibility of transition and why such a large focus on the physical change is counter-productive in trans discussions
  6. Queer sex ed! Non hetero-normative sex ed! I need better resources for this but Joseph Birdsong has done some gay sex ed on the answerly YouTube channel and Laci Green (though problematic) and Dr. Doe (sexplanations) both delve into queer sex.
  7. Polyamory and non-normative relationships is also interesting though it’s important to make a distinction that polyamory =/= queer! And that making those equivalent is problematic in some aspects. Same goes for other types of non-normative relationships, they do not necessarily blend into queerness.
  8. Allyship and why using ally as a label is problematic, white knights and white saviors, White Feminism (that is, feminism that refuses to acknowledges of trans feminine people and women of color and women in countries that are not America as relevant to the feminist cause), Macklemore’s Same Love and ACLU card and the concept of “tacit whiteness” (I think this phrase is interesting and helpful) and the act of making a marginalized group acceptable by incorporating them into the norm INSTEAD OF recognizing and respecting intrinsic differences as valid, etc. Also: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2012/04/23/making-movement-mistakes-what-to-do-when-you-fk-up/
  9. Talk about queer figures in history! I am not good with this so I’ll list a few people who are up on the wall of the Q Center: Audre Lorde, Bayard Rustin, Leslie Cheung, George Washington Carver, Frida Kahlo, Yukio Mishima, etc. Maybe why it is that queer historical figures kind of begin and end with white cis people, specifically white cis men (I’m thinking about Harvey Milk).

I think… that’s a good starting point. This is so exciting, I hope everything goes well for you. Please feel free to send me a message if/when you get this started up! I’m really interested in how it turns out for you.

Good luck!


Q Ink! (Winter Quarter)

Q Ink is a creative writing group run by the Q Center library. We will help peer edit and give comments and critiques to your stories. It will be a free writing space where you can let your creativity flow onto a page or a laptop. It will be a place where writers don’t have to feel awkward or afraid of sharing queer oriented stories. Each week will have a theme for our writing. Come on by and we will help one another learn, gain ideas, and most importantly WRITE!

Meeting dates for winter quarter: 2/7, 2/14, 2/21, 2/28, 3/7, 3/14

From: 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM in the Q Center (HUB 315)

The theme for 2/7 is “Fun and Games!” and the theme for 2/14 is “Love and Lust”

More themes will be revealed later!


Not Presenting, But Present

Hi. I am, as far as I can tell, a non-binary trans girl, but I am by no means whatsoever “out”. If I am not presenting or in a safe environment/place in life to tell people, is it wrong of me to be in spaces, use resources, or participate in discussions meant for queer or trans people? [Does my problem make sense? I don’t know, I feel really conflicted with myself.]

This definitely makes sense and it’s… complicated! I think first and foremost you need to keep yourself in mind. Obviously, you don’t need to ‘present’ to be trans. You don’t need to announce to a room that you’re queer – either through words or through dress – to validate what you know is true about yourself, or even what you think could be true about yourself. I absolutely do not believe that you should feel in any way required to remove yourself from situations that you want to be in or would benefit from just because you aren’t out. Those spaces are still there for you, those resources are still yours to use, and those discussions are about you and about people like you. There aren’t a lot of queer people who haven’t gone through life being in the closet in some way; queer life is not restricted to those who have the ability (and in many ways, the privilege) to wear it on their sleeves. ‘Presenting’ as trans is a complicated concept, anyway, but I don’t want to get into that. I think the biggest potential obstacle would be queer people who don’t perceive you as such being somewhat wary with your presence. Given the way you phrased this question, I don’t think this is even slightly going to be an issue, but I think the biggest thing to keep in mind as someone who is passing/perceived as not queer is to not talk over the queer people around you, in the spaces and in conversations. And that’s really just a precaution for a situation that I don’t think is very likely. Bein’ queer is hard, you deserve to think of and for yourself. That space is yours, those resources are yours, and when you feel comfortable, those discussions are yours as well! I hope this helped, and good luck!


Qmmunity Building! (Winter Quarter)

Join us in the Q Center Mondays this winter for Q-mmunity Building!
We’ll be having weekly events to build community, make friends, de-stress, and be super queer together!

You’re invited to CRAFTERNOON DELIGHT! Crafternoon Delight is a craft circle hosted in the Q Center (HUB 315) on Mondays from 12:30-1:30. Hang out with queers and make cute crafts! We will supply the materials, but feel free to bring some of your own.

The first time we meet will be Monday, February 3rd. We’ll be making patches!


Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality, & Social Movements in Global Health

Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality, & Social Movements in Global Health

REGISTER NOW for the 11th Annual
Western Regional International Health Conference (WRIHC)

April 4-6, 2014
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 
WRIHC Student Committee | UW Chapter of GlobeMed | UW Department of Global Health

Dear Friends of Global Health:

A team of 30 students from across the University schools and departments have organized a conference around powerful topics in the margins of most discussions in global health — a deeper understanding of social and political movements, diverse sexualities and sexual health, gender-based violence, reproductive rights, global discrimination against the LGBTQ community, income inequality, and universal access to health care. With over 20 sponsors, and an additional 11 co-sponsors, the conference will feature perspectives from multiple disciplines, cultures and communities. The Western Regional Health Conference is for anyone interested in deepening their knowledge base about global health, and the impact of movements to improve health globally!

The keynote speaker is Stella Nyanzi, PhD, with the Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Her current research is focused on the politicization of sexuality in contemporary Uganda – with an emphasis particularly on unpacking mainstream religious framing of and contestations about sexual citizenship. Dr. Nyanzi is also conducting research about the vulnerability and resilience of young refugee and displaced women in Uganda towards HIV/AIDS. She is a featured author in the book, African Sexualities, which features many scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa.

We are offering a special registration rate through January 31:

Special Deal through January 31: Students $40 | Non-students $75.
Early Bird February 1-March 20: Students $50 | Non-students $100.
Regular Rates after March 21: Students $75 | Non-students $150.
Register now to get this rate before it goes up! Your registration includes attendance at any and all events on a first come, first served basis including 18 dynamic and thought-provoking breakout sessions in six categories; continental breakfast; admission to an evening film screening; poster sessions; and coffee breaks where you can network with colleagues and prominent organizations in the field!

If you have any questions, please write us at info@wrihc.org.

We look forward to a great conference!

 

Best regards on behalf of the Student Planning Committee,

Mariel Boyarsky, MPHc
Western Regional International Health Conference (WRIHC) Coordinator

 

 


NEW Support Group: Lavender Circle

The Lavender Circle is an open, affirming place to explore our identities and experiences, and have questions answered amongst a supportive group of peers.

Join us for discussions framed around gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity development, and more.  This group is not framed around ally development.

 

When: Wednesdays, 4:30 – 5:30 PM*
Where: Q Center (HUB 315)

 

*The Q Center will be closed to the public during this group.  Participants should arrive within 10 minutes of the start time.