It will remain up and online forever (I even have it backed up should tumblr ever crash or anything else unthinkable happen) as an archive and a resource, and I will try to keep links active and whatnot, but I will no longer be updating it.
I’ve made this decision for a few reasons.
I’ll be working on two final posts for the next week or so about how we can be good allies to trans* people and the responsibility of people on the masculine spectrum (no matter what you were assigned at birth) to challenge our concepts of masculinity and maleness and assigned gender roles. These will be very important messages and are in response to a number of things.
Regarding the masculinity post, it will be my contribution to a mainly-tumblr-based discussion of trans* masculinity and male privilege that began after we learned that a prominent “spokesperson” for the transmasculine community practiced poor consent and had used power over his partners to coerce them into sexual activities (read as: he raped them).
The ally post is one I should have written long ago. I have received a lot of “how can I be a supportive friend to a trans* person?” and “how can I show that I’m a good trans* ally?” questions and have usually responded in simplistic and far-from-thorough ways. In reality, being a good ally and being a good friend involves actively working against cisgender privilege and following some very specific rules in addition to the more general guidelines of “accepting them as they are and giving them the space to figure everything out.” And unfortunately, I don’t know many cisgender people who are great allies to the trans* community. And I think even most of my friends don’t know or do the work they need to to be active allies. And then I think there are a number of people within the trans* community who practice cissexism on a regular basis and even more of us (I am so guilty of this) of slipping up from time to time. So this will be a crucial post that I hope will be circulated around, added to, commented on, shared, discussed, etc.
Running and writing xxboy has truly changed my life. I think it got me through some very difficult times in transition. I also got to know so many of you and that definitely changed my life for the better. And knowing that I was helping people, that I could help people, gave me the inspiration and motivation I needed to decided to go into Counseling Psychology and focus on working with trans* and gender non-conforming people (particularly youth). Thanks for sharing these experiences with me. I will maintain a twitter (will post the new handle soon) to keep anyone who is interested updated on my professional and advocate/activist life. And at some point in August, I will make a new page with a list of other blogs and online resources that will be active when xxboy becomes an archive. Much love
Justin Vivian Bond Turns Androgyny Into High Art - New York Times By MICHAEL SCHULMAN
“I WAS having lunch with Rufus Wainwright,” said Justin Vivian Bond, arriving home a few minutes behind schedule. “I’m going to be officiating at his wedding. I was just confirmed. I’m now officially a reverend!”
“I always thought of myself as a transgendered person,” said Bond, who is 49, lounging on a sofa in black capri pants and silver sandals. “I just lived my life and I didn’t really have the exact language for what I was.”
That act of semantic self-determination seems to have increased Bond’s creative output, too. The last year has seen a flurry of original recordings, lounge acts, exhibitions, music tours and a short memoir, “Tango,” about growing up in Maryland as a proto-glam “trans child” obsessed with Greta Garbo. Like Bond, the memoir is droll, pensive and filled with zingers teetering between funny and ferocious.
This spring, Bond starred in “Jukebox Jackie,” a play at La MaMa that paid tribute to the Warhol “superstar” Jackie Curtis; traveled to Vienna to sing at an AIDS charity ball; and is performing near Times Square to promote “Silver Wells,” the singer’s second album in two years.
While there are certainly other performers known for turning androgyny into high art, Bond has emerged as a kind of mother hen (make that gender-neutral parent fowl) to the city’s trans community, albeit with some reluctance.
“I find it frightening to think that other people are looking to me to speak for them,” Bond said. “What’s uniquely interesting about people who are transgender is this exploration of a truth that is not evident within the lexicon of society at large.”
That sense of searching wisdom underlies “Silver Wells,” a collection of melancholy covers. The title is a nod to the Joan Didion novel “Play It as It Lays.” Her image, along with Jean Genet’s, appears in shimmering dream-catchers in Bond’s living room, opposite a cartoonishly baroque vanity table, a gift from the children’s book author Ian Falconer.
Bond first read the novel at 15. “It was so stark and, in a way, depressing, but at the end she decides that nothing matters,” Bond said, referring to the book’s protagonist. “And there was something about living as this sort of undercover trans youth and reading that nothing mattered that I found to be very liberating.”
A similar winking nihilism was on display this month at 54 Below, a new cabaret space below the original Studio 54, where Bond is performing on Mondays through July 9. At the kickoff show, the performer, looking vampy in a borrowed Lanvin dress and blown-out strawberry-blond hair, paused between torch songs to reflect on growing older.
“I can’t believe Whitney Houston and I are the same age,” Bond purred. “Well, now I’m my age. She’s dead.”
The punky crowd laughed, and Bond, sensing a rambunctious mood, directed the accompanist to skip the next two ballads, both AIDS tributes. “Let’s just say we’re at Studio 54,” Bond said. “If you want an AIDS memory, take a deep breath.”
The joke was, in some sense, a callback to Kiki DuRane, Bond’s half of the twisted cabaret duo Kiki and Herb. Bond and the musician Kenny Mellman created the act in San Francisco in 1993, as a steely rejoinder to the plague that was decimating the city. They became an underground (and then above ground) sensation in New York, where they headlined Carnegie Hall and performed a Tony-nominated Broadway show.
But Bond grew tired of Kiki, a boozy millennia-old lounge singer, and shed the character in 2008, parting ways with Mr. Mellman. In an interview with New York magazine last year, Mr. Mellman said the two no longer speak. “When I was portraying Kiki, I had this character to hide behind,” Bond said, back at the apartment, a small East Village walk-up decorated like a fading Hollywood star’s boudoir. “Now I’m doing my own things, and it’s a little bit scarier.”
Bond’s living arrangement dictated the new album’s mise-en-scène. The performer’s old loft, above the grungy Mars Bar on Avenue A, was being demolished, sending Bond into temporary exile, not to mention the disorienting effect that came with beginning estrogen treatment.
“I started to really feel it around the same time that I was out of my house and on the road,” Bond said, ashing a cigarette into a garlic jar. “So my body was very adolescent, in a way, and I was living out of two suitcases.”
The songs (by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Ronee Blakley and Kurt Weill) have a theme of dislocation, and they acted as comfort food for Bond, who had also ended a five-year relationship with the singer Nathan (a k a Nath Ann) Carrera.
“I broke up with him on a Thursday and went into the studio to record this record on a Tuesday, so it had some bearing on it,” Bond said with a rueful laugh.
For now, the transitions (at least the obvious ones) are over. But at 54 Below, Bond was still navigating the uncharted. Introducing a doleful Kate Bush song, Bond said: “I don’t know what this song’s about, ladies and gentlemen. But I’ve attached my own meaning to it.”
[BTW, read my (and Annika’s) review of Tango at Autostraddle]
In light of the breaking news that the Supreme Court has upheld the entirety of the ACA law (known to most as Obamacare), I thought it valuable to share Land’s article from yesterday’s Huff Post blog.
There are definite benefits to the ACA, especially for LGBTQ youth who suffer disproportionately from health disparities. For the first time, insurance companies will face new requirements that they provide coverage to youth up to 24 years of age under their parents’ insurance. Moreover, they cannot refuse coverage or raise rates due to preexisting conditions, including mental-health conditions. These sorts of coverage provisions make it much easier for LGBTQ youth to get access to medical and mental health care.
Just another of the many reasons to celebrate today’s ruling!
There is a common theme within trans stories and histories of a person vs. their body narrative. Most obviously, there is the “trapped in the wrong body” narrative. Even for people who do not describe their trans experience as having been born in the wrong body, there is still a duality between person and body almost always present. For many of us, our bodies are the locus of our gender dysphoria. There are specific markers on our body that have made others prescribe us as one gender when we are so clearly (to ourselves at least) another. There are specific changes many of us hope to make to our bodies in order to feel whole, sane, and happy. Until those changes are made (and even after sometimes), there are constant struggles to modify how we present our bodies to the rest of the world. And sometimes there is a deep personal and internal shame about parts of our bodies. There are realities about our bodies that others use against us to fight our claims to whatever gender we truly are.
Our bodies do not define who and what we are. But society often disagrees and tries to give our bodies, or at least specific aspects of our bodies (chromosomes, secondary sex characteristics, genitalia, reproductive anatomy, hormones, etc.) the final say in what our gender and/or sex is. Consequently our bodies are often pitted against us in a battle of who gets to say we are women or men, both, something in between, or something altogether different. Even if we aren’t saying we are trapped in wrong bodies, most trans people are fighting or have fought with their bodies.
Alignment is a common term used in counseling and in making the case for medical transition. Most trans people identify their bodies as not aligned with their senses of self. As a result, I believe, few people with trans histories have positive relationships with our bodies. How can we respect or value something we are fighting against? Our bodies are not our temples. And even if you respect and value yourself, if you are trans, there is a good chance that “yourself” does not equate to or include “your body.”
Many trans people dissociate from their bodies. We avoid them, try to ignore them. At worst, we mutilate and self-harm. Most commonly, we are at least trying to hide them. I work with trans youth who have rejected programming related to physical movement as it draws personal attention to one’s own body. “I don’t like my body, I don’t feel comfortable in it and with it, so I don’t want to do something that involves it.” Consequently, there is a really serious lack of physical self-care among trans people. Particularly for those earlier in transition.
It is a vicious cycle, I think. In order to avoid the pain of the battle against our bodies (which we often interpret as a losing battle), we dissociate; we do not take care of our bodies and in avoiding them, we forfeit agency over them; feeling this increased control of our bodies over our person, we further dissociate, we give up any sort of body/person or body/mind integration, we avoid our bodies even more, we take less care of them, lose even more control over them, etc.
Here is what I propose (without research and only my own case study to present as evidence): If trans* people, particularly trans* youth, put effort into taking care of themselves physically, they would develop a sense of agency over their bodies and would feel less dysphoria and trauma, since much of that stems from the sense that our bodies have control over us.
I started taking care of my body on accident. After years of not. Before I knew I was trans, I cared very little about my body. I think I dissociated from it more then than even after I came out. I had terrible posture, I didn’t care about cleanliness or presentation (beyond pleasing the ppl around me), I had no desire to do anything physical or think about what I ate. I was not proud of my body and not interested in developing any pride in it. When I realized I was a man, or at least a boy, I became ashamed of my body and really wanted nothing to do with it. Testosterone and top surgery helped me feel more aligned and even proud. I began caring more about my presentation the more comfortable I felt with my body. But I still lacked a feeling of integration. My body was something I had shaped to fit my person, but it still wasn’t really part of my self.
Last July I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. This forced a serious dietary change and required forethought about food. I started eating healthier and became more attuned to the physical feelings of being healthier. My diet quickly became rather healthy and now I take pride in making good decisions about food (even beyond the “hey don’t eat gluten” bit). I eat consciously and consider things like water intake, lean protein, carbs, food groups, caffeine and alcohol consuption, etc.
I have for a while wanted to start a workout plan. Not to be healthy but to bulk up. I wanted a more adult masculine body. I wanted to look like the men of GQ. I’ve started and quit a number of times. For Christmas, my best bud bought me “The Home Workout Bible” which is amazing. Earlier this year I developed a dumbbell-based workout, bought a year-long membership to a gym, and set in at the beginner level. In the beginning my workouts were based solely around gaining mass and I didn’t understand much about muscles and tendons and cardio, etc. As I started enjoying going to the gym, I did more reading, and I learned about how to take care of my muscle fibers and tendons, when cardio is appropriate and safe, and how to work out in a way that benefits my health as well as increasing my muscle mass. For the past three months, I have been going to the gym 3-5 times a week, with very specific and solid workouts and I feel great. I feel the effects. Increased physical stamina. Less general fatigue. Healthier immune system. Oh and I’ve decreased my fat and gained 15 pounds of muscle mass.
Through a healthier diet and very deliberate physical activity, I have increased my health, and started to shape my body myself, naturally. The changes that came from testosterone and surgery were amazing and much needed but there is only so much agency that one can feel from such external procedures. Nutrition and Exercise involve so much will power and agency. So by accident, I started caring about my body. And I developed a sense of agency. These days (or at least 95% of them) I feel great about my body, I am proud of it, proud of the work I’ve done. And I feel more like it is a part of me. The more integrated I feel (that is the more my body is a part of my self), the more comfortable I feel. And the more I want to take care of it. My body is becoming my temple. Or more than that. It’s becoming part of this person I love so much: myself!