The Tao of Wu: How A Comic About A Transgender Woman Can Help Unite Us

See that adorable F***ing face? THAT is the face of peace and understanding.
Source: Twitter @kyliesummerwu

Very recently, one of my friends introduced me to the art and comedy of Kylie Wu – a young and proud transgender woman who creates the endlessly delightful comic series Trans Girl Next Door. After reading just a few pages, I was immediately hooked and I’ve been checking Twitter and Tumblr routinely awaiting the next installment.

Of course, being the dorky mega-brain I am, I had to set out on a quest to answer WHY I loved this silly little sequential art autobiography so much. The answer I got was surprisingly soothing.

I’m of the professional opinion that good art should leave you different from when it found you; even if that difference is just reminding you that you aren’t alone in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s shockingly easy to identify and empathize with Kylie (or at least the parts of her she shares with us… which is still substantial).

As someone who has lived part of her life as a man and is living her current life as a woman, Kylie’s fearless sharing provides insight -not only on life as a transgender person – but also on life for cisgender men and women. That insight being that we all aren’t as different as we like to think we are.

We all have bodily insecurities. We all have romantic desires. And let’s not forget the old standby: everybody poops.

Also, even on an individual level, you’ll likely find some life story of Kylie’s that speaks to you. Guys, how often have you endured the pain of sitting on your own sack? And remember the sticky, smelly mess of hormones that is puberty?

And ladies, I know through my mom that finding the right shampoo is a glorious feeling and my roommate has demonstrated the fury-inspiring challenge of painting your toenails.

Even just speaking personally, I find Kylie’s work to speak to my own life experiences. As someone who indulges in body grooming (to the chagrin of whoever’s bathroom I’m sharing), the feeling of freshly smooth skin is amazing. Also, I’m asexual and don’t use my testicles for their biological purpose. So why not keep them for the darkly comedic purpose of an emergency food supply (alternately, I’ve thought of selling them to that phallic museum in Iceland to pay off my loans).

So, what lesson am I trying to impart on you, dear Field Operatives? Well, other than trying to help out an artist in need (seriously, give this girl a dollar and/or buy her S***; good art is hard to come by and HRT don’t come cheap) I’m hoping that people will read this, read TGND, and learn to stop judging based on our genders, sexualities and the like and start judging based on the content of our character.

We may all be structurally different, but we are all human and kin on a fundamental level. And the fact that a cisgender man-child from the gray mountains of New Hampshire can feel a sense of comradery with a transgender surfer girl from the sunny coasts of California gives me hope that the world might just be relaxing its hopelessly tight butthole and becoming a pleasant place to live.

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Why Anti-Transgender Bathroom Laws Need To DIE

Would having something amputated be a valid choice?
Source: PrideLife

Yeah, you read that title right. Not ‘stop’. Not ‘go away’. They need to F***ING DIE. It’s rare for me to get THIS angry about something. But then again, it’s rare for me to see an argument for something so damaging that’s THIS poorly informed and ignorant.

This one’s going to be a short and sweet week because, in all honesty, arguing this point is so easy that it feels like I just challenged a jellyfish with a severe learning disability to a life-or-death game of chess; a battle of wits with and unarmed soul. That said, I have to say something in the hopes that the word will find a way to spread and end this madness once and for all.

To catch you all up to the times, several places – North Carolina and Tennessee being the big ones – are pushing for laws that will prevent transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity; forcing them to use the room of their birth gender.

The main argument from supporters of these laws is that they want to protect women and children from sexual predators who would disguise themselves as women to get closer to their intended targets. There are several reasons why this doesn’t work as a logical argument.

Firstly, the vast majority of convicted sexual predators are straight, white men, not transgender women. In fact, it’s the LGBT community that’s most often the victims of sexual violence. You are LITERALLY blaming the victims, people.

Secondly, allow me to tell you a personal story from my own experience. In my four years as a stage actor for my college drama club, we never had our own dedicated changing rooms or even separate rooms for men and women. Instead, we would have to change in a studio behind the backstage area. What’s more, we all had to change clothes together; meaning everybody saw everything.

In those four years, not to mention for years prior to my arrival and after my graduation, there has never been a sexual assault or rape in the club. Do you know why? It’s because that NO ONE IS SO BLINDLY HORNY THAT THEY WOULD RAPE SOMEONE WITH OTHER PEOPLE WATCHING THAT WOULD KICK HIS ASS IF HE TRIED!

Seriously, it’s a PUBLIC restroom; I.E., everyone can see/hear everything that goes on inside. A rapist usually acts in secluded areas later at night and target people that know them because the victims falsely trust them and no one is present to stop them. A public restroom is practically a miniature panopticon and the exact opposite of what a sexual predator would want.

Let’s just be honest – if you support anti-trans bathroom laws, it has nothing to do with you wanting to protect women and children. It has everything to do with the fact that you’re freaked out by someone that you don’t understand and are unwilling to accept. You are an ass-backwards, regressive wart on the ass-crack of humanity that can’t get over the fact that their way of thinking is outdated and not only doesn’t work anymore but is actually damaging to society. May you burn along your oppressive laws, you slimy, festering carbuncles on the planet’s face.

A Positive Message In An Unlikely Place (or “The Kinks’ Lola Was Surprisingly Progressive”)

Let’s be honest; I don’t often have nice things to say about my day job. It’s to be expected as custodial life is naturally unrewarding in most cases. But there are some perks. The overnight shift is peacefully quiet for the most part, the few people I meet seem to respect how crappy (no pun intended) the job is, and I could be making far worse money elsewhere doing the same work.

My favorite part of the job though has to be the Classic Rock station that the radio is tuned into all day. I don’t know what station it is – likely a satellite station, but they often play stuff from my favorite artists of yesteryear that I’ve either never heard before or had completely forgotten about along with their more well-known works.

While I was working one night, I noticed how the station seems to favor certain artists. I noted that The Kinks played oddly often specifically. This got me to thinking about one of my then guilty pleasures in music – their hit single Lola.

You can probably guess why it was a guilty pleasure for me. As someone who is staunchly Pro-LGBT, it makes me look like a hypocrite to be listening to and enjoying a song that plays the romance of a transgender woman for laughs. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that I shouldn’t be feeling bad for liking this song.

Let’s break down the events of the story in the song. Our protagonist, a virginal man that just left home a week prior to the events of the song, is eager to start playing the field and find the woman of his dreams – common behavior for a hormonal youth sans parental supervision.

While in a nightclub in Soho, a district of London, England known for it’s active sex industry, he comes across the titular Lola and becomes attracted to her; his youthful ignorance causing him to miss signs that she is transgender such as her deeper voice (“I asked her name and in a dark brown voice she said, ‘Lola’.”), typically masculine strength (“Well, I’m not the world’s most physical guy, / But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine.”), and odd mannerisms (“Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand / Why she walk like a woman and talk like a man.”).

At this point, it seems like this is going to be a groaner of a bad and insensitive joke from people that clearly don’t get transgender culture or politics. However, it’s near the end of the song that things change drastically.

After a night of drinking and dancing, the two agree to cap off the night at Lola’s place. It’s there that our storyteller learns the truth, panics, and trips as he makes a run for the door. But, as he looks up from the floor and has a moment to process everything, he realizes that he still has feelings for her and can’t bring himself to ditch her (“Well that’s the way that I want it to stay. / And I always want it to be that way for my Lola.”).

He then understands the irony of his situation – in a chaotic world where so many of us are trying to discover or rediscover ourselves, a woman whose identity would bewilder most others is the only one who’s sure of what they are and want to be (“Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls. / It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, / Except for Lola.”)

That’s right; by the end of the night, our hero stays with Lola, finds new respect for the girl he just met, and discovers himself in the process (“Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man, / But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man, / And so is Lola.”)

I put it to you, Field Operatives, that The Kinks’ Lola should not be viewed as a guilty pleasure, but as a shockingly forward-thinking and progressive story about love, enlightenment, and treating your fellow men, women, and those of unspecified genders with respect.

Now then, what’s YOUR excuse, Aerosmith?

It Has Only Begun: What To Expect After Marriage Equality

Can we just leave those lights on? It really brightens up the place.
Source: US Magazine

 

June 26th of 2015 will forever be remembered as one of the single biggest victories for the LGBT community in American history. This is the day that the Supreme Court ruled that no state can make any law forbidding same-sex couples from marrying.

As a citizen of one of the first states to legally recognize gay marriage (New Hampshire was 5th behind Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont) and someone with quite a large number of gay, lesbian, and transgender friends, this news raises my spirits enough to still have enough faith in the world to keep charging forward.

That being said, the job is far from done.

Just because same-sex marriage is protected by law does NOT mean other people are willing to accept it. In many ways, the problem of homophobia is likely to become more insidious.

Those that oppose gay couples have already started pushing back; some in ridiculous ways. When those people start perceiving this change as a threat to them (it isn’t, but that’s how change is handled by those who don’t accept it), they will start reacting in more aggressive and bolder ways. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about it, some may even take drastic measures and we may see a spike in violence toward LGBT people as a response to this victory.

Now. It’s possible that this may not happen and same-sex opponents may accept that they were on the wrong side. However, we have to expect that this is a very real possibility. In a world where wars are still sparked over religious hate and racism persists long after anti-discrimination laws are passed, it’s not unrealistic to expect some people to be more active in their use of homophobic language or give more accusatory stares when “the wrong couple” walks into a room.

This is by no means to diminish the victory that has been won. We have every right to celebrate the fact that our government is now obligated to recognize the right of it’s citizens to love whomever they choose.

What I AM saying is that we can’t let this victory make us complacent. We have a long fight left ahead of us and we can’t lower our arms just yet. The ruling in the Supreme Court was a painfully close 5-4 decision showing that tough opposition still lingers.

Homophobia still lives and we can’t rest until we wipe it of the face of the earth. Things may be getting better, but we can make them better still.

Memoirs Of A “Queer” Journalist

gay-marriage-american-flag_compressed

I, for one, would love to live in the United States of Fabulous.
Source: Stream

October 11th marks National Coming Out Day, an important day of civil awareness for the LGBT community. It’s a chance for the community to share their stories with others and give other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people – among others with lifestyles other than hetero-normative – the confidence in their identity to be open in public.

Since I am an avid supporter of LGBT rights and an open pan-romantic asexual, I felt a social obligation to answer some questions that people may have about coming out, as well share my own coming out story on this special day.

Why Is Coming Out Important?

I’m sure a lot of straight people wonder why it’s so important for gay people to announce it to people. I’ve actually heard several people ask, “Why can’t they just keep it to themselves? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to not come out?”

This way of thinking ignores just how stressful being forced to hide one’s true nature can be. And make no mistake, it IS being forced to hide. Let me put it this way; are you familiar with the feeling you get when you’re at work and feel really stressed out because you can’t joke with customers and coworkers the way you do with your friends or you just feel lousy and can’t talk about it to anyone there? Well, imagine never being able to go home to be yourself around friends and family and you have the average stress levels of a “closet” LGBT person.

It’s also important to note that some people see coming out as a sort of rite of passage. Being able to be open about your orientation is a symbol of growth and emotional strength. It’s similar to the feeling you had when you got your first job or earned your driver’s license.

How And When Should I Come Out?

This is one of the most challenging questions an LGBT person will ever ask themselves. The problem comes from the fact that every person is under a radically different set of circumstances. If you want to come out, you need to consider how people will react and how it may affect all parties involved. Remember: this will be just as much of a shocking and tense moment for them as it will be for you.

There are many ways to come out. You can try coming out to a closer friend or family member that you can trust your secrets to and ask them for advice before coming out to the person you want to come out to. You might also try coming out through a letter, text, or email so that you both have time to consider your words so neither of you says something you’ll regret in the future. The method you choose is based solely on your comfort.

Most importantly, you should never feel like you’re on a timer. There is absolutely no perfect time to come out. The only perfect time is when you are comfortable and ready to make the call yourself.

My story

I consider myself very fortunate as I feel my coming out was much easier than most. That said, that’s not to say that there weren’t difficulties.

The first problem was just understanding who I was and forming an identity. I knew I wasn’t gay or bisexual because I had no real interest in sex (sex, in my experience, made many a relationship much too complicated to manage). But at the same time, I couldn’t deny the fact that I found many people – male, female, transgender, and otherwise – attractive both physically and on a basis of personality.

Fortunately, I had discovered a great circle of friends in college that I could talk to about my identity crisis. They introduced me to the concepts that I use to identify myself today. This act of coming out to myself finally let me feel like I had a place in the world that I belonged.

The next step was to tell my parents. This was important to me because I never want to keep secrets from my own mother and father; It just felt dishonest. I was lucky enough to have been born to two very understanding human beings that I could speak to directly. In fact, I recall working it into a discussion on the show The Big Bang Theory claiming that the character of Dr.Sheldon Cooper had a similar identity (and we’re both unintentional braggarts at times).The most difficult part was explaining to them what pan-romantic meant.

Now, here I am on a global forum with the courage and force of character to announce who I am without shame. It’s my hope that everybody learns to welcome those different from them and that those different people will have the courage to be themselves without worrying about their present company.

If you are reading this and you’re one of the people scared of the changing world around you and the people that live in it or are just afraid that you don’t fit in anywhere because of how you identify yourself, know that I understand how unnerving those feelings can be and that I made this blog to help educate those who are confused about something and just need a friendly guiding hand.

Also know that, even though I may have never met you and I probably never will, I want to be a friend to the world and that I truly and unconditionally love you all.