Lavender Graduation 2014: Be Your Own Queen

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Every year, the Q Center and the ASUW Queer Student Commission host Lavender Graduation as a time for the UW queer, trans*, two-spirit, same-gender-loving, and allied communities to come together and celebrate our multiple identities, our accomplishments, and sheer AWESOMENESS. This year’s ceremony will take place on Tuesday, June 10, from 6 – 8:30 p.m. in the UW Tower Mezzanine Lounge. We are excited to announce that local activist and Drag Empress, Aleksa Manila, will offer words for the graduates in celebration of our theme, “2014: Be Your Own Queen!” Read more about our royally fierce keynote speaker.

 

Participation in the Lavender Graduation ceremony is open to undergraduate and graduate/professional students who are eligible for graduation in the 2013-2014 (including fall 2014) academic year. Attendance is open to all other students, alumni and friends. Guests do not have to be graduating students or of a certain sexual or gender identity/orientation/expression to attend this year-end celebration. Everyone is welcome. If you would like more information about the ceremony or want to volunteer, please contact Jaimée Marsh at jaimeem@uw.edu or (206) 897-1430. To participate in the ceremony, graduates must register by June 4. We look forward to celebrating with you!


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Bathroom Politics

Hi Oly! I have an etiquette question for you. I am thrilled that UW is starting to designate some restrooms as gender-neutral. It’s a change that’s a long time in coming, and I’m sure it helps make the lives of trans* people a little easier. However, I’m cisgender, and I’m wondering if it’s ok for me to also use these restrooms. I want to respect the needs of the trans* community, but it seems like a lot of people avoid using them, and I think it would be terrible if “gender neutral” started getting a stigma. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

Hi! Good question! Bathroom politics are weird!

There are two different types of trans(*) inclusive bathrooms, and with that in mind there are two different answers to this question.

1. all-gender bathrooms – By this I mean multiple stalled bathrooms that are open to all people (like at the Vera Project or the basement of the art building). These bathrooms are ones that I’d encourage all people to use. I think it’s important to attempt to normalize these bathrooms! Please feel free! I think that these sorts of public restrooms are places where stigma can be questioned and combatted. It’s a situation where you can realize, “oh, this really… isn’t a big deal at all.” Use those bathrooms, encourage others to use them. Make a new normal.

2. universal bathrooms – Universal bathrooms are single stall bathrooms that are accessible to people who use mobility devices and they also provide changing tables for families. Don’t use these if there are other options. If it’s the only option in a building, go ahead, but they usually exist as an alternative to gendered, multi-stalled bathrooms. Like on the third floor of the HUB, about fifteen steps away from the standard bathroom option, there’s a universal bathroom. Don’t use this one! It’s definitely made to be available to everyone, but who needs it more? Who needed to fight for it? A lot of people use the universal bathroom in the HUB to change clothes, apply perfume (this isn’t chill, don’t make an accessible space inaccessible), drop a deuce, whatever. You can do that in other bathrooms. Don’t take away spaces designed to right wrongs!

As a reminder to everyone else, we have a growing list of gender neutral bathrooms on our website here! Another fun thing to pay attention to, if by fun you mean mind-boggling and irritating, is restaurants and the like that have single stall gendered bathrooms. WHY! WHY!!!!!! It makes absolutely no sense!

I’m glad you asked this because it’s definitely not so cut and dry, so thanks for being considerate of that. I hope this helped clear your confusion up!

Oly


Lavender Graduation!!

Lavender Graduation 2014: Be Your Own Queen!

A royally fierce celebration for the LGBTQ community, our friends, families, and allies!

Tuesday, June 10th
UW Tower Mezzanine Level Lounge
6:00 – 8:30 PM
Everyone is welcome!

Keynote speech & performance by Aleska Manila,

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Lav Grad Slide

To register, volunteer, or for more information, please visit http://tinyurl.com/lavgrad2014-volunteer. Register by June 4th!

Link for graduates to register (for web): http://tinyurl.com/uwlavgrad-register

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DIRECTIONS & ACCESSIBILITY-

The UW Tower is near the UW campus at 4333 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105, near Hotel Deca and the Neptune Theater. For a map, search UW TOWER on the campus map: http://www.washington.edu/maps/

-University District Metro Bus Routes can be found here: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/neighborhoods/university_district.html

-Driving directions:
From I -5 (Exit NE 45th), East on 45th. The Tower will be on the right side between 12th and Brooklyn facing 45th.

-Brooklyn Avenue is closed in front of Tower, please make parking arrangements on the street, on campus, or in the Hotel Deca parking lot)

-Parking at the UW Tower and on campus is $15. Parking is also available for a fee in the surface lot behind Hotel Deca.

-The UW Tower is wheelchair-accessible via the lobby entrance located on the plaza, west of the lobby security desk. Persons wishing to enter through the accessible entrance can do so by motioning to the lobby security officer who is able to remotely unlock the doors. Disability parking is available in the Tower garage, from which the building is accessible via the skybridge into the C-2 area of the building.

-An all-genders restroom can be found on every floor of the ECC, as well as binary bathrooms with multiple stalls.

-The UW Tower is not kept scent-free but we ask that you do not wear scented/fragranced products (e.g. perfume, hair products) or essential oils to/in the event in order to make the space accessible to those with chemical injury or multiple chemical sensitivity.

-We ask that smokers also store their coats/outer clothing that is regularly exposed to smoke outside the event space if possible (we will provide space for these items). We will have a scent-free area that is monitored by volunteers. We will have baking soda and scent free soap available if folks are asked to wash off scents.

-For more information about MCS and being fragrance free:
http://billierain.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Myths-and-Facts-About-Chemical-Sensitivity.pdf
http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html
http://www.brownstargirl.org/1/post/2012/03/fragrance-free-femme-of-colour-realness-draft-15.html

– ASL interpretation will be provided.

-Flash photography will be used during the reception. Some shots of the crowd may also be taken. The keynote will also be recorded, however audio and video will be focused on the speaker.

-The Mezzanine Cafeteria is a lounge/reception space, with overhead and natural lighting. There are large windows facing south.

-If you have questions, concerns or accessibility details that were not addressed here OR if you wish to volunteer, email jaimeem@uw.edu. All updates concerning the event and its accessibility will be posted here.


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Q Center Pride Points

We are proud to highlight a few of the Q Center’s accomplishments for the 2013-2014 academic year:

  • Participation in our Queer Mentoring Program more than doubled in the last year.  We’re now serving 94 participants!
  • We provided Safe Zone training to 530 people and counting…
  • Our student-run blog, Dear Queer, is wildly popular! Check out the four new blog posts from spring quarter.
  • We have over 1,600 Facebook followers! Like our Facebook page and/or join the Q Center’s Facebook group for daily updates from the Q.
  • We added 45 new books to our lending library.
  • We initiated several new programs, including three new support groups (Lavender Circle, Global Q, Trans*/GenderQueer), weekly walk-in advising hours, a healthy relationship workshop, a healthy sexuality series, and weekly social programming.
  • We collaborated with 29 different campus partners and community organizations on programming!  For instance, our collaboration with the Hub, Facilities, the Office of Planning and Budgeting, and the Office of Title IX & ADA Compliance has led to the creation of more gender neutral restrooms in the core of campus!

welcome to the q photoDid you know?

Did you know that the Q Center remains open during the summer? Our summer hours are: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and by appointment after hours.

 

 


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Inadequacy and Affirmation

Hello! I’m an amab transwoman, and I recently opened up to a few friends regarding it, and it feels good to have someone know! But, as good as it feels, I still worry and feel inadequate, especially when I compare myself to what seems to be everyone else’s idea of what a transwoman looks like or how she should be. I’m not incredibly masculine, but I have facial and body hair that I just plain don’t feel like dealing with sometimes, and a lot of my clothes read masculine. I’m not curvy in the slightest, and my shoulders and chest are way too broad. I feel a gross contrast between my appearance and what I feel should be my appearance. I want people to know that I’m female upon seeing me, but I feel like, even with changing my appearance in a conceivable way (clothes, makeup, et cetera), people aren’t going to recognize my identity.

First of all: congratulations! That’s such a huge deal and it’s really awesome that you’re in a place where you could do that.

Really disappointing answer: not everyone is going to recognize and validate your gender the way you deserve. Such is life in a shitty cis-normative/cis-centric culture. The satisfaction and comfort you’re going to find will be from Q communities, from understandings you build and conversations you have with your friends, from agency you dig out of yourself every time you affirm your identity as a woman on your own terms. I’m not going to give you platitudes of “don’t care what other people think!!!” because it’s not that easy, and we both know that. Trans women are getting a hell of a lot more visibility right now, and that’s beginning to change the conversation of gender in dominant narratives, but there’s still a lot of focus on the body and physicality (something Laverne Cox has complained about with regards to the objectification of trans women) and that doesn’t put us in a great place to have our emotional needs satisfied by people who aren’t super involved in queer discussions. A lot of people will recognize your identity and affirm your womanhood, and there are a lot of people who won’t. That sucks and I wish it wasn’t something I felt I needed to say. Of the people who don’t treat you the way you deserve and need to be treated, some will change! Some will educate themselves and reevaluate the way in which they interact with gender. But others, others whose brains are wrapped in layers of transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, and hate, might not. It’s not easy to cast their opinions aside. It’s infinitely easier to ruminate on the people in your life who deal you nothing but negativity. That said, I don’t think it’s going to be hard to convince you that doing so won’t be healthy, satisfying, or productive. So let yourself build community with people who do affirm your identity, and when you have the emotional stamina, work with the people in your life whose support matters to you.

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In this video Janet Mock calls out the bullshit that is “passing”; you don’t pass as a woman, you are a woman.

I hate the term passing, and if you watch the video linked in the photo caption, you’ll get an idea as to why. But. I am without a better phrase. “Passing” is really fuckin’ hard. It is expensive and stressful and requires so much time and energy… and it isn’t necessarily pay off! The way that you can gender yourself to the world is infinite, from using certain deodorants to hairstyles to color palettes, etc. It’s not any one way, and if you focus on the women you see around you, it’s easy to see that despite whatever stereotypes and standards we hold dear, there’s no one way to be a woman. Don’t hold yourself to a standard that isn’t mandatory, is harmful, is unrealistic and is not even really adhered to by cis women. Call people out when they question your authenticity as a woman because it’s misogynistic drivel and you deserve better. Try to not let people away with inflicting emotional violence on you — and let your friends stand by your side. There’s not one thing you can do to be the “right” kind of trans woman because that… doesn’t exist. Find power in the ways in which you have been able to become comfortable with identifying yourself that way, because that’s amazing. I hope this helps. I know that I’m not exactly known for giving concrete, step-by-step advice, but ideally something in this mess of words will help in some way.

Good luck, so much love to you, and again, congratulations on telling some of your friends.

Oly


“Constructing & Performing the ‘Fat Bitch:’ Irreverence as Queer Cultural Production” with Virgie Tovar

“Constructing & Performing the ‘Fat Bitch:’ Irreverence as Queer Cultural Production” with Virgie Tovar

6:15-7:30pm Tuesday, April 22nd

Odegaard 220

Join the Q Center in bringing Virgie Tovar to UW to talk about constructing and performing the “fat bitch” from a fat, feminist, queer, woman of color perspective.

About Virgie: Virgie Tovar is the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She is one of the nation’s leading lecturers and activists in the area of fat discrimination. She holds an MA in Sexuality Studies with a concentration on the intersections of size, race and gender. She has been featured by Al Jazeera, NPR, Huffington Post, Bust Magazine, and the San Francisco
Chronicle.

Find her online at www.virgietovar.com.


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Kissing Complications

I’ve always considered myself asexual and I’ve never kissed someone but I thought that I would want to! Today a guy that I enjoy spending time went to kiss me (as was appropriate I believe for the time in our relationship) and I didn’t want to do it. I have no experience so I don’t know if it’s normal to not want to be physically involved at all at the beginning of a relationship and if that comes or if I might just not like him / like kissing people at all. I’m so confused.

Write the word “normal” on a sheet of paper, crumple it up, and toss it in the trash. Or something else decidedly dramatic. Don’t judge yourself based on the norms of others, create your own norms. Maybe not liking kissing is a norm for you! That’s really not unheard of! Assuming you want to pursue a relationship with him (but seriously, don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t), this is going to be a conversation that you need to have with him. Establishing boundaries is hard but it’s really important in building something that’s healthy and supportive and just generally not awful. Is kissing something that you actively don’t want to do? Or are you apathetic to kissing? Does it gross you out? Could you care less? Do you like one way of kissing more than others? I’m going to use myself as an example, only because I think you’ll benefit from it a bit. I don’t always like kissing. As of recently, I really don’t. I’ve only been in one relationship where I actively wanted to kiss/ be kissed/ etc, and in that relationship that made me feel really, really good. Outside of that one case, though, I don’t mind kissing. Nothing about it makes me uncomfortable or unhappy, so I’m almost always game to kiss a partner of mine if I know it’s something that would make them happy. And I like making my partners happy! I feel good knowing that there’s something I can do that will make them feel good, even if it’s something that I could care less about on a personal level.

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It’s not for everyone, seriously.

That’s me, though! You need to assess your own feelings, your own needs, as well as his feelings and his needs in order to sort out a situation that makes you both pretty happy. Put yourself first, but in healthy relationships you absolutely need to think about how your partner’s needs interact with your own. I’m almost positive I’ve linked to this video before, but I really like it and I think it’s something that should be applied to relationships in general, not just sexual ones. There are an infinite number of ways to be intimate with someone. Those ways can be physical, emotional, whatever. But your comfort is more important than trying to force intimacy when you’re not feelin’ it. If you like this guy and want to work out some ways for you all to become romantically (?) closer, that’s an ongoing discussion worth having. Don’t let the question of your comfort leave the table, establish with him what to do if you begin to feel uncomfortable, figure out what makes you feel safe, etc. All of my past partners asked me before they kissed me for the first time, and then proceeded to check in on me throughout the remainder of our relationships. It’s something I will never, ever take for granted and it helped me feel safe and happy in those relationships. Create a tone for that kind of communication. If you do some soul searching and come to the understanding that what you want and what he wants out of this relationship just doesn’t line up, don’t force it. Process and then compromise, or don’t, or whatever, but communication is vital and you could get something really nice for the both of you out of it.

Now that that’s out of the way, there actually is a word within the asexual community for people who find their desires and likes changing after having established an emotional connection. On the romance side of it, people who experience romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection use the term demi-romantic. There’s a parallel in the term demi-sexual, which boils down to people who experience sexual attraction after having established a [romantic] emotional connection. It’s a thing, so don’t stress out. Asexuality is as much of an umbrella term as sexuality is. Your individual experience is your individual experience, and that’s what you want to focus on. I hope you come out of this feeling a little more settled and a lot less like you need to figure out whether you’re “normal” or not. Just focus now on working out what it means for the two of you.

Good luck!

Oly


Treat yourself

Exploring Queerness

Over the past 4 years I have been struggling with coming to terms with my sexuality. It was always clear to me that I was straight until high school when I started to develop feelings that I wasn’t comfortable with. Now that I have thought about it a lot even after trying to suppress it I’m still not sure and I’m afraid of potentially being bisexual or pansexual just because I don’t know if i’ll ever be sure of it. It feels pretty set in stone that I am not straight but I have no idea what I am or what it means. I fear that if I tell others and later find out its not who I am they will think it was just for attention or I just “couldn’t choose a side”. I need any and all advice you can give me please.

Well, the long and short of it is that sexuality is really a fluid thing, which I don’t really think is what you want to hear. But it’s something that changes as you do, as apparent in your own experience. It’s something that can expand and contract, linked to how your own understanding of gender/sexuality grows, linked to the experiences you encounter with different people in sexual contexts. Words can help give you a ballpark idea, a schema that you can touch base with, but no word will ever really be a 100% match to who you are – you’re a complex person! I think that can be as scary as it is freeing, knowing that you are similar to some but still your own person. That you can affiliate with some words while still being an entity that exists independently of that.

Your concern for others judging you is, unfortunately, really valid. People are historically really horrible at affirming anything that isn’t monosexual (which is preference for one gender regardless of your own identity). There’s not a lot of support outside of the community, and even within the queer community conversation is lacking and flawed. But that’s not your fault, it’s theirs! And it’s the fault of the history that went into recognizing non-heterosexual identities. It’s a fault of homophobia, a fault of a cultural obsession with binaries, etc. I want you to know that you can change your mind RE: how you identify, and that doesn’t invalidate your past decisions and feelings. If my opinion of a movie can change drastically over the course of a year, my relationship with my own sexuality and gender definitely can; an intrinsic part of who I am and how I interact with the world is decidedly more nuanced than even the most complex of films. I really encourage you to focus more on what feels right in the moment, and I hope that the people in your life can support you through that. Try to find strength in the fact that you’re being true to yourself in the present tense! That’s really important in being your own advocate. It might change, it might not. But I definitely think it would be better to explore that part of yourself and see what you need right now than to pretend it doesn’t exist for fear of it not panning out. You’ll definitely learn something knew about yourself, regardless of the verdict, and it’ll be massively rewarding in the long run.

Treat yourself

Treat yourself and your various identities. I have no regrets using this picture with such a serious conversation. I love treat yourself and I love self care. Give yourself a break! You sincerely deserve it.

Some words you might find something in (and readers, feel free to help me augment this because I only know so much):

bisexuality: my understanding of the word is based on their community’s definition, which is “same and other genders.” It has been explained to me that gender plays a big role in this identity. There’s a fluidity, but attraction is very much woven through one’s own understanding of gender, and there are preferences therein.
pansexuality: my understanding of the word is that gender doesn’t play a huge part in attraction. To say gender is an afterthought isn’t correct, but it’s definitely not at the forefront of the mental process. Pansexuality is more “I like this person, they happen to be this gender” that “This person is this gender and I like them,” if that makes sense.
queer: instead of giving my understanding, I’m going to quote Brandon Wint, who is a Canadian based write and poet: “Not queer like gay. Queer like, escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness at once. Queer like a freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like… and pursue it.” Queer isn’t necessarily as accessible as the two other words (bisexuality is, I feel comfortable saying, the most known word outside of queer circles), and I would say it’s more a lifestyle and politic than an identity, but I personally feel a lot of comfort in the word because it doesn’t ask me for permanence in the way I choose to think of myself. Queer knows that sexuality is fluid, and gives me room to find out what that means for me.

People discrediting your identity and experience can’t stop it from being your identity and experience. So, let it be yours. Find what’s right in the moment and allow yourself room to change and grow. Try not to restrict yourself to something if it’s gonna make you feel like shit. I really hope something in here helps. Good luck good luck good luck!

Oly


A GSA Coup d’État

The GSA at my school is really terrible, and they rarely have meetings and the activities they do plan are often pretty [lackluster] and straight-people focused. I really want to join and see if I can bring any change to it, but I’m halfway through my junior year and I feel like it’s too late to do anything. Is it even worth it?

Hell yeah it’s worth it! What I would really recommend is getting in touch with the people who lead the group and talk to them about your interest alongside your reservations. It is decidedly possible that the people running it are straight and misguided, which I can’t really fault them for when y’all are in high school. Let them know that you want to help them be more productive, more supportive. Pitch it as a way for them to be better allies, a way to capitalize on good intentions and actually have some really cool results. Also I’m assuming that like my high school’s GSA, there will be a teacher who stamps their name on the group or sits in on meetings or whatever. Get them involved in the conversation! I responded to a question a while back about possible discussion topics for a GSA, which you can find here. If you come into the conversation with some solid ideas and a defined direction of where you want to take it, you’re going to get a loooot more support.

Something else you might find useful to share is actually from a local Seattle organization but is definitely accessible in other areas. Put This On The {Map} is a documentary made by a group in the area that went on to do work with a focus on Reteaching Gender & Sexuality and to an extent, allyship. The website for the film is here and if you poke through they have a really interesting discussion guide that’s up for grabs, and a lot of the questions listed are absolutely solid without the film as a background. They also have a great short video about what they want to accomplish here.

Time is, I think, a non-issue here. I really think you could help the GSA become something better, even if it only becomes better next year. But be active in it! Because it’s really worth it! You could actually be the reason why people are having better discussions, and that’s a really satisfying and rewarding feeling. Challenge them to do better and be a part of them actually evolving as a group that I’m sure was started for all the right reasons.

Go for it. And good luck!

Oly


Leap-Frogging Into Gender Non-Conformity

Dear Dear Queer, do you have any advice on getting up the confidence to do gender non-conforming things, like not shaving your legs and armpits when you’re afab or painting your nails and wearing make up when you’re amab?

Well from personal experience, I kind of started small and built up! For me it was nice because it was somewhat subtle and it allowed me a lot of room to figure out what felt right to me. I know a lot of cis girls who laugh about not shaving their legs in winter, but when winter ended and shorts became a viable option again, I just abandoned my razor. A huge key – and I’ll keep saying it over and over again because it is at the forefront of self care – is checking in with yourself to see what you like, what you want to change, etc. Like, I typically shave my armpits just because I don’t like the way it feels, and I keep my nails aggressively well manicured, but I would definitely still say that I’m a pretty gender defiant person. Wear and do what makes you feel happy and healthy and affirmed, and find confidence in the fact that you’re reaching a place where you can find out what you like, not what other people want you to like. Even within gender binaries, nobody does gender the same. We are not Stepford wives.

For AFAB people who feel obligated or pressured to shave their legs, I just have to say you’ll honestly be very surprised with how little people care. From my own experience, I’ve never even gotten a weird look and I tend to show off my legs. The only comments I’ve ever gotten have been positive so I would try not to get too wound up about it. This might be a product of me living in the Pacific Northwest, but I’ve been to Texas, Southern California, and all over the midwest and northeast and have yet to experience a negative reaction. So that’s nice! Let your hair grow out and take time at home or wherever to sit down and feel the hair on your legs and love the way it looks, or at least the statement it makes, if that’s what you’re going for. Confidence is a huge key, and affirmation from outside sources won’t matter a ton if you don’t have an inner foundation. The more concerned with whatever gender-defying action you’re taking you are, the more people are going to be drawn to it as something out of the ordinary. Drawing the spotlight to whatever you’re doing isn’t going to help you feel comfortable in doing it. If I wore shorts and kept darting my eyes to my legs or kept trying to hide them, that would bring in a lot of unwanted attention when in reality it’s pretty likely to slip under the radar.

AMAB people are not as lucky, and I won’t pretend that they are! Regardless of assigned or perceived gender, presenting as more masculine will always be more acceptable than presenting as feminine for as long as we live in a male-biased society. If you’re AMAB and want to start playing around with feminine forms of expression, there are a ton of ways to very subtly weave perceived aesthetic femininity into your look (polish on your toes, nude makeup, incorporating less “masculine” colors into your palette, etc). That said, and this is where all of my friends who keep up with this laugh out loud, have you seen Harry Styles lately? My dude is currently pullin’ off and has been seen with nail polish and earrings and sparkly boots (they were so pretty!!) and rings and necklaces and wedge heels and these gorgeous scarves around his head and nobody is blinking an eye. This goes for AFAB people too but knowing there are successful gender-defiant people out there doin’ it both casually and loudly is a huge comfort and reassurance and I think it makes it less scary.

I hope this helps in any small way, and goooooood luck!

Oly