Okay, okay, I know I said no more Pagan stuff for a little while, but I absolutely have to signal-boost a post by a very dear friend in response to the PantheaCon trans fail, not least because it was slightly inspired by something I posted, but mostly because it is made of pure concentrated win:

In Our Own Image: towards a transcentric Paganism. Not safe for work or cissexist assholes.

I demand transcentric imagery, gods and goddess with the wide variety of trans bodies, trans genitals, trans selves. I demand a Horned God with hairy breasts and the new Year sleeping in his swelling womb. I demand Artemis, wild and free, with a penis. And some pagans think that’s blasphemy.

Fuck. That. Noise.

Our bodies are sacred too. We, too, are God, are Goddess.

Little children assigned as boys who are effeminate, flamey, into ‘girls’ toys’ or cross-gender identified have always received attention but most of it has been decidedly negative, ranging from [NOTE: possible triggers in these articles!] Dr. Phil’s recent nonsense to decidedly creepy gay panic to disturbing, abusive, and of course completely unscientific “therapies” (more on these later) and all the way to murder.

That’s why it’s been decidedly refreshing over the last few months that there’s been a minor drumroll of books and blogs by parents raising their fey kids: Cheryl Kilodavis’s book My Princess Boy, the went-viral post “My Son is Gay” at Nerdy Apple Bottom, and Raising My Rainbow are just a few of them.

What wigs me out a little bit is the reaction that some of these parents get: concern trolls freaking out about the irreparable harm they may be doing to their sons by — what? letting them dress in pink and play with My Little Ponies?

Never, for these folks, does it enter the equation that just maybe they might be doing more harm by forcing the kid to stifle their gender identity and their harmless self-expression, learn to hate and be afraid of femininity in themself and others, and come to understand they disappoint and frighten their parents and other grown-ups just by being themself.

I’m not a parent, I don’t plan to be a parent (I can’t even deal with my cats), and I wasn’t extraordinarily girly as a child, although I definitely wasn’t what you’d call boyish either. But I have to say kudos to these parents for loving their children and being committed to encouraging them in being who they are and pushing others to do likewise.

p.s. As full of fail as I understand the show is in so many ways, I’d like to give it up to Glee for portraying not only a sympathetic, unabashedly effeminate male character in Kurt Hummel, portrayed by the adorable Chris Colfer, but also showing the tender, loving, and accepting relationship between him and his very traditionally masculine dad. I sort of wish I had a TV and the time necessary to watch the show (and could stomach its transphobia, racism, ableism, and other kinds of nonsense), just so I could follow how Kurt is doing.

For all those queer Pagans who have been reading my solstice series with fixated fascination, you really must listen to this recording of the Gay Paganism circle at PantheaCon, which just wrapped up in San José, California. There’s way too much fascinating stuff in there to summarize, but a lot of it expands greatly on some of the things I had hinted at in my post and other writings on my faith.

Click to listen: Walking it Out: Gay Paganism's Second Wave

ETA: But I can’t let this go without mentioning the transphobic fail that I’ve read reports of at PantheaCon. Linky linky linky loo.

I don’t want to talk too much about Dianic Witchcraft, not being a woman, but the folks in these blogs do a more than adequate job of calling out the problems with that rite (and having it in a public space), as well as the appallingly vulgar transphobic comments by (the person who signed themself as) renowned Witch Z. Budapest in the first link. (It’s important to note that Z. Budapest was not involved with the ritual.) Read the comments and have a drink each time you see someone contrasting “transwomen” [sic] with “women” while pretending that’s not what they’re doing.

As for me, I’m still learning about the place in my life that the Masculine Divine has. But, after having suffered a near miss a few years back, I’m prepared to say that at this stage of my life I would definitely not feel comfortable participating in any Men’s Mystery (including Queer Men’s Mysteries) that men who are trans would not be welcome at. It would dishonour a very significant share of the men in my life, and, in the words of a well-known Witch, I can’t be having with that sort of thing.

Further ETA: THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I MEANT, and it’s remarkably consonant with what I wrote a few weeks ago about the Masculine Divine before I heard about any of this stuff.

That’s not to say Magical Trans Women Are Here for Cis Lady Enlightenment, merely that their experiences are every bit as important to what constitutes Being a Woman in every possible sense, and that all women can learn from that. Goddammit, Women’s Mysteries means exploring all the mysteries of womanhood, be it cis or trans, butch or femme, queer or het, white or PoC, young or old, working lady or SAHM, childfree or mama of 5 bad assed kids, and all the awesome gray areas in between all of these labels. Because women are all these things, you assgoblins! Fuck, this is not rocket science. Trans women’s experiences are important to me as a cis woman because even though I don’t live them, they’re just as much a part of the mystery of womanhood as my own experiences. By denying my trans sisters, I’d be denying a piece of myself.


For all the rest of you who are just sick to death of the religious hoohaa and wish I would just get back to writing about femme boys already, don’t worry, this is the last for a while! (I think.) I have a few ideas saved up for subsequent posts, but what would you be interested in seeing me address?

In my ultimately futile effort to conclude my two-part Solstice-inspired series before Imbolc, here’s the other half of what I was led to reflect on during my trip to San Francisco this Yule.

I’ve long had a complicated, difficult relationship with what’s usually called the Sacred Masculine. A lot of Pagan practice, especially that related to or derived from Wicca, very much centres the notion of the Sacred Masculine as an essential and basic concept along with the Sacred Feminine in a duality that’s seen as the root of nature.

In many ways that’s understandable and very useful to many. But for me it’s always been difficult to relate to. I’ve previously related an especially revelatory incident in which it was assumed that I, as a man, would naturally be drawn to the Sacred Masculine, and how thoroughly that didn’t work.

Sadly, even where we manage to avoid the grosser patriarchal aspects that most of us are trying to get away from, we often present the Sacred Masculine in a way that concentrates on very specific traits or aspects of the world that are culturally defined as lower-case-m masculine.

Read the rest of this entry »

A lot of people with the privilege to never have to think about how they identify (in terms of gender and sexuality) because they are the default like to complain about other people being “obsessed with labels”. Usually, they are the ones imposing labels on other people that align with their own experiences of the world instead of just listening to what someone actually says about themselves. I’ve had people ask me what gender I am, get a response from me, and then disagree with me because it wasn’t a response that fit with their expectations. That’s right; disagree with me about my own gender. It never fails to astonish me.

– from the mind behind In Praise of Shame, who was recently so kind as to link here.

My friend Jack posted this on Facebook:

Discussing patterns of attraction with wife:
Her: I’ve historically been attracted either to prettyboys or to bears, and you’re not really either. *looks at me* Hmm…I suppose you’re–
Me: a weird mutant hybrid of the two? XD
Her: …remember YOU said that, not me.

♥ ♥ ♥ Somuchlove.

And his friend Stuart Lorimer said:

A prettybear.

AND I SQUEED.

sissy bearI’ve complained about body issues in the past, and specifically one of the things I’ve always regretted is that, despite being hairy and kind of, you know, convex, I’ve never felt much access to bear-type spaces as a femme guy.

The way it was always explained to me, bear was about breaking away from the tyrannical non-masculine hegemony that governs all of gaydom and finally getting to be properly masculine. Bears are butch, trying to be a bear while femme is Doing It Rong, and I would be unwelcome. Period.

Maybe I’m wrong; maybe this is all some bullshit I’ve been fed. Heaven knows it wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe there’s lots of room for a hyperfaggy cub who wears fedoras and brocade scarves, can use the phrase “accent wall” without stammering, and is doggedly trying to educate himself about “product.” I would love to know that.

But in the meantime I love the idea of noticing that furry, non-tiny guys can be not just bluff and handsome but flamey and flirty and, well, pretty. So “prettybear” gives me a happy, and I’m sharing it with you.

From here:

Robby’s 5-year-old son loves to play with Barbies and prefers wearing girl’s clothes. She asks Dr. Phil how to deal with this behavior, which she doesn’t think is normal.[…]

Dr. Phil tells Robby that she has a job to do: “Direct your son in an unconfusing way. Don’t buy him Barbie dolls or girl’s clothes. You don’t want to do things that seem to support the confusion at this stage of the game … Take the girl things away, and buy him boy toys.”

Most importantly, he tells Robby, “Support him in what he’s doing, but not in the girl things.”

Bilerico contributor Alex Blaze observes:

The goal is not to make this boy happy. What the boy wants does not concern Dr. Phil; he neither asks about it nor does he respect what he’s told the boy wants, advising the mother to steam-roll over her son’s personality and force him to replace his desires with other desires.

The goal is to make the boy normal, because everyone’s goal in life is to make the Dr. Phils of the world more comfortable.

ETA: Here’s an additional opinion from a mom of a femme boy, under the admirably blunt title “Dr. Phil Wants To Make My Son Cry”:

“Most importantly, support him in what he’s doing, but not in the girl things.”

Nice. Only support half of your child; you can support all of them if they fall in the range of “normal.” I should support C.J.’s brother because he is into video games, baseball, skateboarding and fart jokes. But, I shouldn’t support C.J. completely because he likes dolls, playing beauty parlor, doing girly sticker books and walking around in my high heels. Support him, but only half way. Let him know that only certain parts of him are okay. To me this is the worst suggestion of the bunch.

Bill C-389 passed. The House of Commons voted — narrowly, but with support from every party — to outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in federal areas of jurisdiction and to consider crimes based on those grounds as hate crimes.

I’ve been working on this issue for a really long time and it’s an incredible relief and joy. For me, both as a genderqueer person and as someone in love with a trans man, it really hits home.

Let’s hear it for Bill Siksay, the bill’s sponsor and the NDP’s LGBTT issues critic. He’s a wonderful person and he’s retiring from the House at the end of this parliament, and I can’t think of a better legacy to leave behind.

It now must pass the Senate before the next election in order to become law. But if this should fail to happen, either because it gets defeated in the Conservative-dominated Senate or an election is called before it passes, the NDP has a very solid groundwork for reintroducing it in the next Parliament until it finally is passed. In the meantime, I hope the provinces move on introducing their own bills, to cover provincial areas of jurisdiction as well.

But enough of this. At least for a day or two, let’s celebrate

This evening I had the opportunity to go see, for the third time, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. If you’ve never heard of this troupe, they perform all-male drag ballet, pointe shoes, tutus, temperament, and all — for more than 30 years now. And they do it wonderfully.

In one of the purest examples of camp I’m aware of, they combine very strong technical virtuosity, erudition, and obvious love of the art to produce a plainly affectionate but screamingly funny send-up of the conceits of classical ballet. It’s highly accessible to non-ballet fans, and amid the parody, the dancing itself is extremely good, sometimes resurrecting nearly forgotten works, and many of the numbers show the dancers’ skills off impressively. Do go and see them next time they’re in town.

On a more serious note, it’s a little fortuitous that I actually had the time to go and see them, since as previously mentioned I’ve been working my gay ass off on Canada’s Bill C-389 on trans and gender-variant people’s rights, which faces its greatest test tomorrow afternoon in Parliament: its final vote in the House of Commons at third reading.

Time is very short, and the last vote in December was quite close. If you haven’t already, contact your MP, or several MPs, and urge them strongly to be both present and voting in favour of the legislation. The vote is expected to take place around 5:30 p.m. Eastern, and you can watch it on CPAC.

Once that’s done, I hope to release my next article within a short time. Sorry for the wait, but things have been pretty hairy around here.

I already knew it was going to be amazing to be in San Francisco over the Solstice season, and the prospect of an unchained Pagan bonfire on Ocean Beach after two days of Radical Faerie space was already exciting enough. Let alone one, as a commenter pointed out, held while Mercury is in retrograde and there’s a lunar eclipse.

Even then, though, I certainly did not expect to abruptly decide to join the people who were taking all their clothes off and scampering into the Pacific Ocean. (The thought process basically went: “I live in freaking Montreal. How many chances am I going to run naked into the water on the Winter Solstice that don’t involve a hot tub?”)

Anyway, it’s a beautiful season of synchronicity in my life right now, and I’ve been taking advantage of it to think about the uses of gender and sacred androgyny in my Pagan practice, and a few issues arising from it. I won’t expand too much on that practice itself at present*. But here are a few recent things I had really interesting and valuable discussions of during those four days.

I’ve found that, as in all things, it’s super important to consider my cissexual privilege in doing sacred androgyny work. Two different trans friends made more or less the same observation within a few days, in slightly different contexts, that encouraging people to think outside the gender binary plays way differently if you’re speaking to cis or genderqueer people than if you’re speaking to trans people (particularly transsexual people who identify clearly as men or as women).

Read the rest of this entry »

  • For those who are interested but haven’t yet heard, Bill C-389, the NDP bill to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code, successfully passed the report stage on December 8. It has only one step left in the House of Commons, the debate and vote on third reading, expected in February; but it must then get through the Senate before an election is called in order to become law.

    This was the first time the whole house held a recorded vote on the issue. The tally was 143 for and 131 against. All New Democrats and Bloquistes present voted in favour, as did most Liberals; however three Liberals voted against and several abstained. Most Conservatives voted against, but five voted in favour, including one who spoke against the bill at second reading, which to me indicates that they can be turned. Exciting days ahead.

  • On a related subject, some sad news for our community: Bill Siksay, the MP for Burnaby-Douglas, BC, and the NDP’s critic on LGBTT issues, as well as the proposer of Bill C-389, has announced he won’t run again in the next election.

    I’ve had the opportunity to meet Bill several times, and a more self-effacing, caring, devoted MP, with more integrity and commitment to our communities and giving voice to the silenced, you will never meet. He has been in politics for every one of the right reasons. We’re going to lose one of the best MPs Canada has ever had, in my opinion, as well as an unprecedented voice for trans and genderqueer equality.

    However, he is not resigning now, but staying in parliament until the next election. So he will continue to shepherd C-389 until then. Also, the bill was seconded by no fewer than 12 MPs, including Megan Leslie of Halifax who has worked with the trans community for years and gave a wonderful speech at 2nd reading. So if it doesn’t pass in this parliament, I’m confident it’ll be reintroduced in the next.

  • I have the opportunity to travel to San Francisco – I’m writing this on the plane for posting later. I’ve never been, so I’m finally making the pilgrimage! Among other things I’ll be taking part in Solstice gatherings with the Radical Faeries and the Reclaiming Tradition. I can’t wait. I’ll write about my trip when I get back!
  • [On his reason for writing:] “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'”
    – Kurt Vonnegut

    Hey! While you wait for me to get my act together, enjoy this classic piece of femme guy theology from unabashedly flamey gay music duo Romanovsky and Phillips, with the unforgettable title “If There Is A God, He’s a Queen.”

    While in Ottawa on other business, I recently had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with my friend Ariel and the ladies of Femme Family Ottawa, a wonderful example of the communities that femmes build for ourselves. These femmes (all genders of femme are welcome, though all the other attendees at this particular meeting were women) meet every month for an informal chat at a cute café in Chinatown. I was a bit of a novelty, both as a boy and as a Montrealer, and I enjoyed the cross-pollination that went on.

    One of the women brought up femme invisibility, a concept that comes up repeatedly in femme queer women’s thought. If I am characterizing it accurately, it is basically that femme queer women often feel that they are not being read as queer, owing to stereotypes of what queer women look like and do. They may feel not embraced, whether in queer women’s spaces or in the world in general, if they are read as ‘traditionally feminine’ and therefore as straight women. It’s a frustrating place to be, and not just because it makes it difficult to get laid.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Last night at 1:15 a.m. I was awakened by my downstairs neighbour, who brought to my attention that my hot water heater had vomited all over his kitchen. Apparently, hot water heaters die like supervillains: splashily, explosively, and with a maximum of structural damage. All it failed to do is shriek, “No! It cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!

    The water’s now back on, but to go along with my generally unpleasant mood, fabulous B.C. blogger Kaitlin Burnett takes on a truly hideous Dockers ad. The tagline? “It’s time to wear the pants.” No, it’s not ironic. Sexism, homophobia, transphobia, effemimania, it comes complete with all you see here:

    And that’s not the only one: they go on. And on. Ye gods and little fishes. At any rate, read what she has to say about it.

    Today is the international day for the depathologization of trans identities. Trans people around the world are calling on psychological and psychiatric authorities to stop considering their identities to be disease states, and demanding full access to transition-related care as a human right, without requiring a diagnosis of mental illness.

    As we speak, a team of psychiatrists is working to rewrite the notorious Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness (DSM-IV), revising among others the articles dealing with trans identities and cross-dressing. Yes, cross-dressing is currently considered evidence of mental illness – but only in men.

    It doesn’t inspire confidence that the committee is headed by the dread Dr. Kenneth Zucker, head of the gender clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (a.k.a. “Jurassic Clarke”). Say his name to most any Canadian trans person and watch them shudder.

    I’m running all over today, but I’ll expand more on these themes in an upcoming blog post.

    1) Miscellaneous blog fact: today someone found my blog using the search term “effeminate man long hair -jesus -christ”. I find this inexplicably charming.

    2) Miscellaneous vlog command: please give this vlogger lots of traffic for having linked to me under the heading “blog of awesome.” Thank you. Here is one of the entries from this vlog, containing a lovely shout out to my article The joy of the windsor knot:

    A constant refrain over my journey to accepting, living, and celebrating my femmeness has been, “Why do you feel the need to” do whatever femme thing happens to be striking the person’s irritation at the time. The subtext is that it’s not possible I should just want to do these things, that they should just make me happy or agree with me. Since I’m a boy, I have to have some reason, I have to be able to account for them.

    And the question itself is so odd, anyway; “need” suggests compulsion, that I must not have a choice in the matter, but the very question “why” suggests that I have some sort of ulterior motive, that I’m doing it just to be perverse and annoying.

    This isn’t restricted to me, of course. There is a constant theme in our culture and kyriarchy that things considered to be feminine gender traits are regarded as fake, artificial, performed, or histrionic, and things coded as masculine are normal, natural, rational, artless, sincere, or direct. And those viewed as men are regarded as especially artificial when they behave femininely because they are disrupting gender assumptions.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    A question occasioned by a strong emotional reaction recently experienced in a bookstore:

    Are there any queer-boy sex books that aren’t totally masculine-normative, that talk about femme boys as if we might conceivably be attractive, in which all the advice about sex doesn’t have an undercurrent of “and this is how you can be a Real Man in bed with your lover!”, and that actually mention trans guys?

    Recommendations eagerly solicited.

    I’ve just gotten back from a weekend in Ottawa on business, and finally had the opportunity to hang out with Femme Family Ottawa, an awesome group that gets together for lunch and kaffeeklatsching every month. A dear friend (the one I mentioned in this post, who I hung out with in Copenhagen and helped to inspire this blog) is a member. We all had a great time chatting about our femme stuff. One or more posts are going to come out of the discussion we had.

    Anyway, between the business in Ottawa and a new job, I have been rocking a lot of really cute menswear lately and I have to say I am really, really enjoying it. I regard brightly coloured dress shirts as one of the best things ever to have happened to men’s clothes (it’s hard to imagine now they were all but unknown twenty or thirty years ago; you could have any colour of dress shirt you wanted as long as it was white, or if we were going really crazy, white with little stripes). Then you have the joys of ties, vests, and hats to go into.

    (Slightly shameful fashion story: some time ago I was watching a video of a young gay boy testifying in front of a committee on same-sex marriage in I think it was the Vermont state legislature. He gave an impassioned and cogent argument on equality and dignity, and all I remember is that he was wearing a brick-red shirt with a slate grey tie and matching vest and I decided immediately that I wanted that outfit. It remains one of my favourites.)

    In Ottawa, for example, on Friday I wore a fuchsia shirt and a bright white tie; on Saturday, when I went to lunch with the femmes, it was a lavender shirt, purple and black striped tie, dark slate striped vest, and my favourite fedora (which I had bought in Copenhagen with my friend; I have a large head, and apparently so do the Danes as it was the first place I’ve ever been able to buy a hat off the shelf). Today it was a bright red shirt, darker red tie, and the vest again; all with jeans (I do love tie and jeans, although unfortunately I can’t wear jeans at my new job).

    I do think it’s interesting that something coded as strongly male as the shirt and tie can become marvellously fey and enjoyable just through the choice of colours. It also looks good on my body, especially with a vest. I spent the weekend feeling like a grown-up Kurt Hummel. It’s something I want to explore a lot more deeply.

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