For years people have used coded messages to convey hidden meanings. They do so to garner support from others who can read those messages. It signals that we are stronger together, and that we are not alone.
I lived in South Africa during the apartheid years. Seeing many different ways in which an authoritarian was resisted opened my eyes to the importance of daily conscious energy to progressively move the margins of society in the direction needed. It’s rarely a cataclysmic shift that makes a difference. Revolutions are, by definition, out of the ordinary. To shift the zeitgeist one has to do so a fraction of an inch at a time. Everyday. Never giving up.
As distasteful as it sounds we see alliance displays very clearly when watching MAGA crowds. Yes, I know – just try to hold onto your lunch. Whether it’s the red ball cap, the simple letter ‘Q’ or a single finger raised in a one arm salute, you can witness non-verbal messaging at play. Now, I don’t counsel watching any MAGA rallies. If I want to watch a bunch of losers displaying their failed understanding of politics I need only look at some January 6th footage from the Capitol. I try to avoid doing so within half an hour of eating. But hyperbole aside, these methods of unifying support are often very effective. In the case of large crowds it’s all rather moronic, a little like believing a message gets better by shouting it louder. Natalie Wynn describes this very well in one of her videos HERE.
For a smaller group, a minority for example such as trans people, being able to identify our own supporters and allies is important. Imagine being lost in a crowd, possibly hostile, and having no idea who one’s allies are. Perhaps it’s everyone around you – or perhaps none. For this reason I am a strong proponent of carrying symbols that convey support for trans, bi and LGBTQ values. I show my colors, as it were. I also know that while not everyone will recognise my message, many people who are aligned with me will recognise the symbols and take some comfort from them.
The idea of this is not to provoke. It’s to signal to allies, ‘Yes, I am here.’ Not everyone needs to be a Valkyrie or social justice warrior. My intention is not to create a combative atmosphere – something that does nothing o appeal to the feminine side of my personality. I’d rather bring change through quietly reasoned self awareness of what is morally right. Gently assuring our sisters and friends, these are my choices and I am unashamed of them is important.
With that in mind, especially as we move toward election cycles I do suggest members actively ‘flag’ themselves. This can take the form of a simple button, a tee shirt or even the simple color choice in an outfit. It’s true that some people may see such signals and take them to be provocative, however if that’s the case you’ve just forced a bigot to reveal themselves, which is better than not knowing who the bigot in a party is.
Here’s a quick flashback to when Trump was doing his campaigning and participating in his debates with Hilary Clinton, before he got too scared of being shown up by a woman. You may enjoy this retrospective. Read the story from October 2016 HERE.
Just a quick reminder – Trump’s policies toward the trans community set us back decades. As we approach another electoral landmark it’s important to make sure you are registered and prepared to vote your conscience. For most trans brothers and sisters this is for a more liberal option than that offered by the Republican Party. With a Senate that is prepared to impose morally reprehensible limits on the rights of women, we know very well who they will turn on next. At a time when trans rights are being rolled back at local, state and federal levels it’s more important than ever to be properly prepared to vote and make your voice heard. We need this for ourselves and our LGBTQ friends. Don’t forget to register and make sure your vote is going to count.
What a tragic shame that author J.K.Rowling once again sees fit to attack trans rights. As much as some of her writing is wonderful, we love her for that, not her ill-found opinions on gender.
Rowling is once more in the headlines for her views about gender. It’s very curious, by the way, that she also uses a male pen name, when it suits her. Either way, she’s likely raising her profile to sell a few more books – and I can’t blame her for that. But the her target, once again is transgendered people. The above video from Natalie Wynn, Contrapoints, is the best analysis of Rowling’s position I’ve found to date. Instead of just a knee jerk reaction, it’s a deeper examination of her views. As ever, Natalie does an excellent job of blowing away the smoke and finding the kernel of truth that is otherwise obscured by the noise of social media.
It’s a little like finding out Eric Clapton is an anti-vaxxer. We feel betrayed, though we never really imagined we’d look to these talented icons for their human rights or healthcare ‘wisdom’. It just sits badly knowing that we’d offered them our trust and come away disappointed.
OK – so, that’s the last cent these people get from me. They relegate themselves to the role of off-stage court jester – just someone in a funny outfit changing to get home at the end of the night. Just another face in a crowd. How sad that they should consider our trust so disposable.
I grew up in the UK, at a time when television presenter Jimmy Savile was very popular. For those who don’t know who he is, he presented Top Of The Pops, a popular television show, as well as a host of other shows, including some ‘Make A Wish’ style shows for children that were terminally ill. He was a character somewhat beloved (I cringe even writing that now) by his substantial audience. He was knighted and died before the truth about his reprehensible true nature emerged. He turned out to be a serial pedophile with victims going back decades.
It does make me think that perhaps we offer our trust to readily. Taking a step back and asking ourselves if some celebrity huckster on a soap box really is the best person to offer our trust to might be wise now and then. American voters can hardly be surprised at the appalling state of their country when they vote failed TV show celebrities into office. With a president who suggested 15 cases of Covid would just ‘vanish’, and not only weakened NATO but actively undermined a strategic ally, this might be something to think about. These choices have lasting consequences beyond our shores. Just ask anyone in Bucha, in Ukraine.
Yes, the opportunist may have a nice catch phrase, but does that qualify them to lead a modern economy in a complex international situation? Perhaps they should climb back in their box and only emerge when we toss out a few coins to see them dance for us. An amusing performance is all very well, but it ends when the curtain comes down. Then the talent goes back to the dressing room, they take off their costumes and make up and leave the theater by the rear exit and wait at the bus stop with a late night coffee from McDonalds. We can offer them the ticket price, but we don’t need to offer them our hearts.
Those of us in the trans world should guard our feelings particularly in such things, and hold our expectations in check. The erosion of hard won trans rights under right wing pressure is not only a step backward in U.S. society, it’s one that is diametrically out of step with other modern cultures. It’s no exaggeration to think that right after women’s abortion rights are eroded we should expect that we’re next. Historically that’s how this one has played. Trans rights are currently in the cross hairs.
I try to avoid being political on here, however we are who we are. Like it or not, our people are the trannies, the queers and, yes, sometimes the freaks. Our trans sisters and brothers are people we may not ever have met, but they are the only people who really know what it is to be ‘like us’. As such when we see people like J.K. Rowling undermining our ‘family’ they are undermining each of us.
Without needing to go into left/right politics we should ask ourselves sincerely who we do choose to offer our trust. If it is someone who is a celebrity clown, or a celebrated author or musician, then let’s choose to give them a few coins to perform on a stage. We don’t need to vote for them or listen to their views on subjects they are painfully ill qualified to weigh in on.
I don’t really advocate confrontation. I believe we can hold our silence and exercise our view in the privacy of a voting booth. These days it seems everyone needs to vent their opinion on social media, likely in the search for allies. Trans people have learned through the ages that sometimes silence is a wiser course. However facing the onslaught of voices on the right, people bend to pressure and question their own positions, sometimes compromise, and hold their noses and vote. We can’t do that. We have to vote our values.
Our trust is a valuable commodity. Let’s not give it away too easily.
For the last week I have not written a great deal. I do answer questions online for those coming to the site and seeing my chat interface there when I can, however I’ve not been very productive with new posts in the last week. You can see when I am online and available to chat, as there’s a little icon in the bottom of your screen saying so.
Of course, my program material is still being sent out to all my members and I am giving the support I always do. However, there’s good reason for the apparent silence. I should explain.
Those of you who are regular readers may know my wife is always travelling. I don’t share a great deal of information in this regard, as you might know. However, I should explain that my wife is from Ukraine. Her daughter lives in Kiev with her two young sons.
I try not to be too political in these pages. When it comes to LGBTQ politics I feel this is a platform that I try to use appropriately to put some ideas out there, and like many writers I do like take the occasional swipe at authority and the self important stuffed shirts – most of whom need it from time to time. Generally, I try to focus on entertaining my members, and on providing a selection of informative and sometimes educational content. However, events in Europe in the last week are impossible to ignore.
I know over 70% of my members live in the USA, and that Kiev might seem a long way from these shores. However, it really isn’t far away at all. Here in Canada Ukrainians are the fifth largest ethnic group in the country.
Events in the USA have considerable impact for many of us who do travel and have family in Europe. For example, when a politician undermines the integrity of an organisation, such as NATO, there are consequences. The damage done by four years of mismanagement on the part of the former administration very nearly derailed the organisation that has guaranteed the peace of Europe for the last seventy years. To the ignorant and the insular this may mean little – and I would be the first to agree that most such organisations are imperfect. However, we may be in the process of learning how very much we depend on the commitment of some of these structures. There really is a reason we have norms and standards in government. There is a reason we hold ourselves to a standard dictated by something other than pure profit and self interest. My many European members are likely as uneasy about the future as I am.
Tonight Kiev is under attack. For those of us with loved ones there we cannot divert our attention to the folly of a selfish greedy misogynist whose cowardice played a large role in bringing us to this place. Our thoughts are with those we love who are in desperate trouble. In these pages I have always emphasised the need to accept ourselves, and not dwell on the failings of others. It’s not always an easy thing to do. However, we must try to do so. And these dark days are not likely to be easy. So, for a few days I appreciate your indulgence.
Below is a track from a band called Baccara, performed at a televised concert in Kiev a few years ago. I first heard this band when skiing in Italy in the Dolomite mountains as a preteen. The band was current at the time and the music would be piped out over the ski slope sound system. It was a lovely touch. I was surprised to find that the duo happened to do a TV special performance in Kiev years later. I thought it a good way to remind us all that even though these places seem far off, they touch us in a myriad of ways. The people who performed, staged and presented this show are just like you and I. They have children that need to be driven to school, chores to be done and their own little idiosyncrasies, too. As a dictator’s bombs and rockets fall on innocent children in Kiev tonight we might want to spare a thought for the joy we are capable of sharing, when we focus on the positive and creative things we can do – and how easily we lose these things if we are not careful.
There’s a wonderful thing that happens in the face of adversity. People really do come together. In the last week in southern BC we’ve needed a bit of that.
If you’ve followed the news you may have heard we’ve had some extreme weather. It’s called an atmospheric river and it’s a direct result of global warming. So, in case you had the idea that global warming would only affect third world countries, it may be time to revise that idea.
No one has any idea what the total cost will be, as we’re still in the early stages of recovery – and praying it doesn’t freeze up too soon. The figure I am hearing, and I can’t back it up, is that there’s been over $30 billion worth of damage. At present we’re under gasoline rationing, as the oil pipelines have been severed by the landslides that resulted from the massive rainfall. We need to ration gasoline so that emergency services have sufficient fuel.
It is quite heartening to see Auntie Kittie, Rainbow, Sebastian and Katia Thornwood all arriving at my house on their bicycles. People have come together to prevent things getting any more difficult. Rainbow is naturally concerned that they may start rationing kombucha, but has resisted the urge to start panic buying the stuff. I suggested she start making kale smoothies to distribute if the situation deteriorates. She’s out buying kale even as we speak.
So, you can imagine life in Huckleberry Close has been just a little disrupted. Sylvester has been driving his truck up to the nearest affected areas to help in the cleanup, and Ali has been helping prepare meals which are then ferried by helicopter up to people stuck in areas between landslides. The Sikh Nation has been distributing food to many people who have been cut off. They’ve done some wonderful work, all are volunteers. While Ali is not Sikh, people have all been pitching in together.
One way or another we’re all going to be ok. I did notice that Sylvester has been driving up to the landslides and delivering tools and supplies, and returning with christmas trees. Yes, that’s what I said. Apparently the trucks bringing christmas trees to Vancouver for all the malls was caught in the slides and we have, of all things, a christmas tree shortage. So, he’s been shipping them back a couple of dozen at a time from a small grower who is on this side of the slides. He tells me he’s distributing them to the hospitals and schools. It sounds like one of his capers to me.
As you may know, Bernard is a keen sailor. He has great wet weather gear, and kitted Ali out with a stunning set of bright red storm clothes. As Ali has been getting up to the remote sites, where it’s still raining and snow is beginning to fall, he’s been seen trudging through the weather, his big white beard and red suit very distinctive in the mess. Apparently one family thought he was father Christmas. Well, it’s an easy mistake to make, after all. Magic flying christian saint – Syrian refugee in Canada…
Yesterday was the Trans day of Remembrance, in which we remember the injustices against trans people. There’s no shortage of them, for sure, however most of us in this space are so used to injustice that it just becomes part of being trans. I’ve tried to stay above the fray on the whole Kyle Rittenhouse situation, however when people who are so exposed to discrimination see how society can be so openly lacking in justice it seems to leave little room for hope. The video below was one I found quite on point.
I would, however, say that we all have an innate sense of justice. These things sit above the law. They are the values that make us people of integrity. I know so many of my members have faced injustices of their own. And things like the Rittenhouse farce will come and they will go. Life has a way of ultimately delivering justice. We do have to move forward with our own sense of what is right, even when it is challenged. Sometimes we have to hold our silence and live the change we want to see in the world. So, for those many people who feel disappointed in this farce of a situation, it’s worth staying focused on being true to ourselves and moving forward. However messed up that judge, the jury and the sad sack of $hit Kyle Rittenhouse may be, we still move forward. We can still live our truth and hold our own values. Gradually things will get better.
To move things on to a lighter note, if you’ve not read The Sweet Stench Of Revenge, perhaps now is a good time. You see, there is a such a thing as justice.
What a very stressful few days it’s been. Just today I had one of the neighbourhood boys over while my delightful niece, Nancy and I arranged some flowers in my house. I do find it so relaxing to put out a few nice flower arrangements.
The children in Huckleberry Close seem to gravitate to my house, and the large garden I’m lucky enough to have. Fiona’s delightful gardener, Ali, has been helping me and cutting some beautiful blooms for me to arrange in the house. The unfortunate challenge of being so available to the neighbourhood children is that from time to time the rather revolting neighbour, Donald comes and plays in my garden. I try to be kind and even handed, but it’s really not always easy. I think all the children think of me as their personal Auntie.
It’s hardly surprising really. They love to come over and are sure to sample my pie, or anything else I put out on the kitchen table. I like to provide a nice spread. Some of the young boys just can’t get enough of it. I should be flattered I suppose, that they have such hearty appetites.
“Auntie,” said young Donald this very afternoon. “What’s an erection?”
“Donald, that’s a very unusual question. Now, let me see. Your mother should really talk to you about this, but when a man and a woman… No, when two people… No, when a small group of people of undetermined genders or something between genders…”
“Auntie,” said little Nancy jumping in and coming to my rescue between placing holly sprigs in vases I’d put out on the table. “I think Donald means, ’What’s an election?’”
“Oh, I see,” I said with relief. “Really? You don’t know what that is? Ok, let’s see. How can I explain? It’s something we do now and then to get rid of people who aren’t running the country the way we like it. For example, by locking up all the little children. Or making promises they don’t keep, or are generally doing things that are douchy and not representative of our values.”
“What are values, Auntie Kittie?” asked Donald.
“Don’t worry, Donald,” I replied. “I’ll let you know if you ever get any. We usually elect people based on policies, Donald. So, for example in Canada we believe in religious freedoms, freedom of thought and belief, and freedom of expression. You believe in freedom of speech, don’t you, Donald?”
“Well, I guess,” agreed Donald reluctantly.
“Well shut up then,” I said firmly.
“Tell him about the polls, Auntie,” piped up Nancy, always keen to be of help.
“I don’t trust the Poles,” said Young Donald.
“Don’t be so racist,” I said and cuffed him around the ear, before sending him off to the bathroom. “Be a sensible boy and be sure to wash your little hands after.”
Donald has a lot to learn in the hygiene department.
Nancy turned to me and said, “I’m not sure Donald quite understands about democracy.”
“Oh,” I said gently. “I’m sure he’ll learn. And then probably be thrown in a cell where he belongs, before dying alone in disgrace. Under the circumstances I think that’s not a bad outcome.”
“What do you mean, Auntie?” asked Nancy.
“Well, five hundred years ago we would have stoned him to death, in the time honored fashion. Under the circumstances, if I were Donald I would consider myself lucky.”
Don’t worry, it’ll soon be over. Let’s just stay calm, and choose an extra special pair of panties with which to celebrate as the tide of change flushes out the U-bend of the last four years.
“Swallow, Fiona!” said Sebastian, pushing me onward.
“But…” I protested, my mouth almost overflowing.
Rainbow, Sebastian’s sister, added, “Go on, Fiona. You’ve taken more than a couple of mouthfuls already.”
She gave me a knowing look and whispered, “I know you love it really!” Then she lay back on her yoga mat in my garden, the soft fragrance of lavender wafting over us.
I should explain, Rainbow and Sebastian are at my place this morning and brought some healthy kale and ginger smoothies with them. I know how good it is for me, so even though I may gag a little, I manage to force it down. I don’t mind Sebastian and Rainbow coming over for breakfast as long as we enjoy it in the garden, and maintain a reasonable social distance.
“It tastes very,” I searched for words, “…healthy.”
It tasted so healthy I wondered if I was going to throw up. It’s not the first time I’ve been exposed to this recipe. To be fair, one does feel wonderful when one finishes drinking it.
Sebastian is a very diligent personal trainer. This dreadful virus business has hit his business quite hard. He and his sister come over to my place every two or three days for morning yoga, which helps me keep nice and trim and as long as we are reasonably careful I feel glad of their presence. I get to dress in a beautiful leotard and tights as we do our yoga class, and Max my next door neighbor’s young son watches us through his binoculars from his bedroom window.
“You know,” said Sebastian, “your body is the sum total of all that you put into it. It’s best to choose things that are wholesome.”
I briefly thought back, remembering a long and and enjoyable youth, and smiled.
“See,” cut in Sebastian, “the thought has brought a smile back to your face.”
“No, you misunderstand,” I replied. “I was just thinking about a little encounter I had last fall. Very wholesome.”
However, that’s not the main reason I’m writing today. We’re living in turbulent times. You don’t need me to remind you of that. I do however want to encourage you to do a couple of things this week.
The first is to stay focused on social distancing and wearing a mask in areas where there are groups of people. Just because there’s a lot of protests going on, the virus doesn’t just go away. Guard your health with common sense.
Second, as I often suggest to my members, let’s not rush to judge others this week. Asking oneself, “what would I be doing if that were my brother?” is a good first step to trying to understand some of the events unfolding. Those of us who explore the gender spectrum understand about being judged harshly. Let’s try not to make that mistake with others.
If you’ve not already done so, be sure to join my Patreon. It’s just $1.99 a month and you know you’re going to get a lot of joy from it.
Enjoy the beautiful song by Marvin Gaye. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting along.
I have a short tale to tell you that probably will go down
as one of my less stellar moments in my career in advertising. Because of some of the people concerned you
will understand that I have to be a little vague on some of the names. Needless to say, the primary protagonist in
this little adventure was none other than one who shares their name with a
certain occupant of the White House.
Well, I had no idea at the time, of course, only aware that one
of the charities that we work with at the advertising agency wanted me to
organise Bernard (my photographer) to come to one of their locations for a
photo opportunity that I was informed could be very valuable in the fund
raising campaigns that we typically manage in the fall.
As a result Bernard and I took the flight from Montreal to Vancouver, and then north to the Yukon, where a local company flew us on to a remote hunting lodge. Now, here’s the back story. Apparently some hunter from the US had decided they want to shoot one of our bears. It’s not that we are short of bears, but the area of incredible beauty that this particular ‘sportsman’ wanted to hunt in is designated as a national park. Now, we take these things rather seriously in Canada. There’s meant to be no hunting of certain species in the national park, however I was informed that a large donation would be made to the conservancy were this particular hunter allowed access, and a special dispensation had been granted.