Category Archives: AtoZchallenge

A2Z – Our Organs, Ourselves

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Our Organs, Ourselves

Do I get triple points for coming up with not just one or two O words, but for hitting a homer with three???  I think so.  Even if I’m just giving myself the points and they don’t actually accumulate towards a win of any kind.  😉

So, the idea that our sex organs define who we are.  It’s a pretty heavy one, and rather long standing.  And the longer folks have believed something, the more ingrained it is, the harder it can be to shake it.  However, the fact of the matter is that our parts have little to no bearing on our actual sex or our gender.

A person’s “assigned sex” is based on their genitals.  It’s when the midwife, doctor, or doula sees a baby’s bits and announces “it’s a boy/girl!”  Actual sex, I’m afraid, is a LOT more complicated.

If you want to get right down to it, a person’s actual sex is determined by their chromosomes.  And here, many folks would happily jump in with “Okay, so that means it’s XX or XY!”  Yeah, but not really.  Sure, those are the two combinations we’ve all been taught in grade school…  but those are FAR from the only options.  It’s not as uncommon as you’d think for individuals to have X0, XXX, XXXX, XXXXX, XXY, XXXY, XYY, or even XY/XXY chromosomes.  And unless you’ve been tested for chromosomal abnormalities, you may be XXX or XYY and not even know it.

Still with me?  Assigned sex is based on your organs, actual sex is based on your chromosomes, and Gender?  Gender is the realm of the philosopher (back in the day, I was either practicing art or studying philosophy).  Gender is about how you feel, it’s about who you are.  It’s how you define yourself.  And with gender there are as many options as there are individuals.  No one can define your gender except for you, and it may or may not match up with your assigned or actual sex.  Heck, it may or may not be the same from day to day.  As we grow, learn, evolve, and change, our gender may do so right along with us, and that’s totally okay.

So our organs really can’t define us, not in any real way.  And the idea of a sexual or gender binary?  It just doesn’t work.  There are more than two sexes (as our chromosomes clearly indicate) and there are more than two genders.  Our parts may convince some that a binary view works, but all you have to do is check out the myriad within even the physical bits to know humans are more complex than that.  And I, for one, am grateful for all of our beautiful and amazing complexities.

the alphabet blog challenge

A2Z – Native & First Nations Individuals in the LGBTT2QIA Community

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Native and First Nations Individuals in the LGBTT2AIA Community

 

The 2 in LGBTT2QIA comes from my Native and First Nations brothers and sisters.  It stands for Two-Spirited.  There has been quite a bit of confusion lately on what two-spirited actually means, and I hope I can help clear the water vs further muddying it.

I know quite a few Native and First Nations individuals who identify somewhere on the sexual minority, gender variant spectrum, but that does not make them all two-spirited.  However, all two-spirited individuals, are by nature of the word itself, Native and First Nations.  Not all birds are Eagles, but all Eagles are birds.  Clear so far?

Even within some of our local First Nations communities, the idea of an individual being of two spirits has become muddied.  It has been used by so many as a blanket term for all First Nations individuals who identify as being part of the acronym community that it is losing some of it’s power and intent.

When asked to share his personal thoughts on the term, Ryan Jimmy (a wonderful individual I am blessed to know) said this:

I understand how the term is a way for indigenous queers to reclaim their sexual spaces rather then have other non indigenous folks create identities for them. What I struggle with is that there still seems to be a lot of romanticism around the term meaning that people tend to believe the term is a simple male\female spirit and that we poses some super neat powers. I feel the term is very complex and I personally just haven’t found my place with …it.

Amongst all those I know who identify as both First Nations (or Indigenous) and a member of the acronym community, I only know one individual who identifies as two-spirited.  And that’s an important thing to note.  As Ryan mentioned, there is this romanticized view of two-spirited individuals which has found it’s way into modern culture.  And while the idea of one person with two spirits (each of a different gender inhabiting the same body) does have aspects which lend itself easily to those types of ideals and fantasies, those notions ignore the hard struggles that have faced our Native and First Nations community members. While there may have been a time when two-spirited people were revered in some First Nations cultures, that vanished along with so many facets of their culture with the unfortunate Christianization of their world.

Clearly, this is far too large a topic to really get into in any real way in a blog post.  But, if nothing else, I hope this brief look at what “two-spirited” means encourages you to dig a little deeper yourself.  It’s an absolutely amazing area for study, and filled with a wealth of enlightenment.  In a search to understand ourselves, it is one area that should not be overlooked.

One last, rather unique tid-bit I’ll share:  Have you ever looked at your hands, at the length of your fingers in particular?  Well, there have been numerous studies over the last couple hundred years that reflect a hormone correlation which suggests Women have a longer index finger, and Men have a longer ring finger.  The one individual I know who identifies as two-spirited?  Has a longer index finger on one hand, and a longer ring finger on the other.  Just one of their many intriguing qualities.  😉

 

A2Z – Love & Marriage

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity

 

I’ve been out sick the last couple of days, and am just as sick today as I was yesterday…  so really shouldn’t be blogging at all.  BUT I hate to miss a deadline, even a self imposed one.  I knew I could fit L and M into one post, and as long as it went up on Sunday I’d still be on schedule for the Alphabet Blog Challenge.  Of course, I figured all this out on Friday afternoon, when I figured I’d b all shiny by Sunday.  And now it’s Sunday.  And the last thing I want to be doing is blogging.  Seriously.

Being sick sucks.  But want to know what makes it easier to get through?  Knowing I have the love of someone who will see me through it all… someone who doesn’t care if I’m dripping mucus from every orifice, sinuses unloading in all sorts of unattractive, downright, inhuman ways…  And you know what sucks?  Knowing that some people are denied this same gooey “stand by me” melodrama that marriage provides.

Sure, you can stand by someone without a contract (and lets face it, when you get down to brass tacks that is what marriage is), and for those who are content doing so without?  Well, I think that’s great!  In fact, I know some happily unmarried folks who have been in a state of unwedded bliss for almost as long as I’ve been alive.  However, for those who WANT to be married, they should have the same right to do so as anyone.  Some chicks marry chicks, some doods marry doods… get over it people.

I, for one, am glad this is one area in which the Canadian government hasn’t seriously screwed over it’s people.  This is one thing which they’ve gotten very right.  It shouldn’t matter what parts a person has, love and marriage are about what’s in your HEART not what’s in your PANTS.  And now that I’ve made my point?  I’m closing up my computer, and crawling back into my flu-induced stupor, feeling much better for NOT having missed my deadline.

A2Z – Kinship

Blogging our way from A to Z on issues of sexual and gender identity - K is for Kinship

 

The acronym community is vast and varied, full of many types of people with a wide range of beliefs.  Yet some folk seem to think that there should be this instant kinship or camaraderie between all LGBTT2QIA individuals.  The fact is, kinship is a choice, and often something you have to work at.

In this day and age there is a huge separation in class amongst gender variant and sexual minority individuals.  There are some who believe the fight is over and we have won.  This is especially prevaelent among upper class, white, gay men in their 40s… there is an entire subculture made up of the “suburbian gay”.  We fought the good fight, we have marriage equality (in Canada), so now we can go on living our lives of privilege.  It can be hard to find kinship in a population who doesn’t live the fight every day that some of us do.

For my trans brothers and sisters, the fight is especially brutal today…  and it is just beginning to get the focus it deserves from some segments of the media.  Transphobia is alive and well, I am afraid to say.  And it can be found even in the hearts of those who claim to be allies of the community.

So… kinship is not as easy as one would think.  Finding a kindred spirit is, as always, a difficult and amazing thing.  So when you do find someone with whom you share that instant connection, don’t let them go.  They are worth fighting for.

And yes, I realize this post ended up being a little rambley.  My head is fuzzy thanks to a cold…  and even a neti pot isn’t about to save the cloud that is inhabiting my brain.

So yeah…  my point…  Kinship.  It really is a choice.  You can decide to find it, even amongst a diverse population, or you can create for yourself an island – big enough for one.  But that is a very lonely place to be.

 

the april alphabet blog challenge.  blog your way through the alphabet, one letter at a time.

 

A2Z – Jerseys & Jokes

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Jerseys & Jokes

 

Around here, sports are important…  especially hockey.  It’s a big part of Saskatchewan, and nowhere is that famous Prairie Machismo more apparent than in the locker room.  Or so I’ve been told.

Gay jokes run rampant, along with comments about the prissy nature of certain plays or players.  It’s a tough place to feel welcome as a member of the LGBTT2QIA community.  Any time your personhood is called into question, even if it’s done in jest (sometimes, especially so) it breaks you down.  After a while, it can all become too much.

In an effort to curtail this type of anti-gay banter and sentiment, Patrick Burke (in honor of his late brother, Brandon Burke) began a campaign we now know as “You Can Play”.  At it’s very heart all it states is that if you can play, you can play.  Nothing else matters.  It’s something we all needed to hear, and continue to have reinforced.

I encourage you to take a minute to read this article Burke wrote about his brother, the decision to come out, and how it affected all their lives.  It is well worth the read, every encouraging paragraph:  Never Forgotten, Patrick Burke Remembers his Pioneering Brother.

For more on You Can Play, check out these links:

So next time you’re about to make a joke about how gay someone or something is, stop and think.  Just because others do it, doesn’t make it okay.  In fact, it’s NOT okay – and people are finally starting to get it.  The locker room should be a place of camaraderie, of solidarity… not of exclusion and loathing.

 

 

the april alphabet blog challenge

A2Z – In Flux

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - In Flux

 

If you haven’t figured it out already, based on reading from A to H, I’ll state it here nice and clear; generally?  I’m fairly anti-label.  But when push comes to shove, I identify as “In Flux”.

The idea of people being in flux is a fairly natural one.  We are constantly growing and changing.  The more we learn, the more we evolve.  Who I am now is not even remotely close to the person I was 20 years ago, or heck, even five years ago.  So the notion that we must have a constant and steadfast label that applies in all instances seems ridiculous to me.

Not only do I change from decade to decade, year to year, but from hour to hour and day to day.  How I feel right now, laying in bed, blogging is very different from how I felt even twenty minutes ago while I was reading a novel to my daughter.  So if I change as often as the air in my lungs, how can I be expected to identify as something constant?

Some days I feel very “girlie”, others I feel far more “butch”.  I’ve always identified as female, but what that entails is different based on the circumstances surrounding me and within me.  So I am IN FLUX.  It just makes sense to me.  In fact, it’s one of the few things that is constant and unchanging.  I can say with certainty that I will consistently and constantly remain as an every changing and evolving person.  😉

What about you?  Do you identify as a static being with a label?  If so, how do you identify?  Or are you, like me, constantly in flux?

 

P.S. – if you are up for it, I believe I posted a photo of a button a dear friend and artist made for me.  It’s me, holding a label that says “in flux”.  I think it’s on a post about AKA (the art gallery in Edmonton, Alberta).  Scavenger hunt?  😉

 

 

the april a to z blog challenge

A2Z – Heroes

Blogging our way from A to Z on issues of sexual and gender identity - Heroes!

Heroes.  They are something we should all have, and they come in many shapes and sizes.  Some may be the usual suspects, heralds of a cause, but others can be found unexpected places.  In truth, I believe everyone has the potential to be a hero.  And I can’t think of any better way to demonstrate this fact that to share a few of my local Saskatchewan heroes who also happen to be members of the acronym community.

Mikayla Schultz is the founder of TransSask (support services).  She is a tireless advocate and campaigner for equality.  Through tremendous efforts, she recently put government to the test and had many successes with the signing of a declaration formalizing March 25-31 as Transgender Awareness Week in communities across Saskatchewan.

Don Cochrane is a former University of Saskatchewan professor, who continues to educate everyone he meets.  His groundbreaking work into subjects of importance to the Sexual Minority and Gender Variant community continue to force change, improving the lives of everyone in Canada.  You can see his hand all over this province, and especially at the annual Breaking the Silence conference here in Saskatoon.

Sarah Houghtaling is a local high school student.  She strives diligently to make lives better not only for those who attend school with her, but for minority students across our province.  A student activist who’s name I highly recommend taking note of.  She’s one of the many young people who WILL change our world for the better.  If you are ever able to attend one of her talks, DO!  You will be inspired.

Kay Williams is one of the most outspoken allies you will ever meet.  A determined advocate for her son, and a helping voice in a confusing world for parents new to the world of parenting LGBTT2QI children and youth.  Kay is a proud volunteer, and one of the founding members of PFLAG in Saskatoon.  She also was awarded the Peter Corren Award for Outstanding Achievement this year at Breaking the Silence – and yes, I teared up during her acceptance speech (which I recorded, and will share at some point).

Four individuals, all unique, all at different stages of their journey, all willing to do whatever it takes to see things become better for those around them.  All four are heroes, and all four I’m proud to call friend.

Who are the heroes in your life?

A2Z – Gender Creative

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Gender Creative

 

The very first time I’d heard the term “Gender Creative” I was in a board meeting for Breaking the Silence (which was held in March).  Fran Forsberg, an amazing woman and dedicated volunteer, had used it to describe two of her children, and it clicked with me instantly.  Gender Creative – could there be a more perfect or beautiful way to describe a child who is, well… creative when it comes to gender?  I absolutely love the term, and hope it catches on like wildfire.  Having such a beautiful way to describe children who don’t necessarily fit into their assigned gender.

Children are too young to know how their sexual identities and desires will eventually shape them, but they often know right from the get go if their assigned gender fits or not.  Some children easily play in one or both binary gender roles.  Others feel at home solidly in one camp or the other (and it may or may not match their assigned gender).  Describing these children as Gender Creative allows them the freedom to experiment and play with their identities – as we should allow all children.

We should actively encourage our children to try on different roles, to play different parts.  We do this with little boys by encouraging them to pretend to be firemen, policemen, doctors, and race car drivers.  With little girls we encourage them to dress up as princesses, home makers, nurses, and ballerinas.  When we should be encouraging all our children to try on these different roles – regardless of their assigned gender or assigned sex.  I know I am equally thrilled when Lily-Ann dresses up as a cowboy, or tells me how she wants to grow up to play for the Blue Jays as when she wears a tutu and wings to school, announcing that she has decided to be Tinkerbell.  We play cars and My Little Ponies.

The point is that children SHOULD be Gender Creative.  It shouldn’t be the odd kid out who plays with gender, and finds it fluid and easily adaptable.  All children should have the freedom to find themselves without society forcing binary roles onto them.  It actually makes me sick to my stomach when I hear a parent tell a child “No, you can’t have that, it’s a girl toy” or “I’m not buying that for you, girls don’t play with action figures.”  It’s when the I’m-gonna-fix-the-world me comes out, and I can’t help but do a little educating – and I’m not always as polite as I should be.  Oh, I try to be…  but there are times when the beastly me comes out, and it’s pretty much always when I see a little kid just being their genuine self, and having that self squashed by a parent who so clearly doesn’t get it.

So, until we get to the point where society is able to allow ALL children to just be children – without forcing gender binaries on them.  Until then?  I like the term Gender Creative.  What a beautiful way to express how all kids should be free to be.

Gender Creative and Proud to be a part of the Pink Revolution

the april a to z blog challenge

A2Z – Family

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Family

One of the most difficult things in the world is coming out to our families.  There is so much emotion wrapped up there, that it can be hard to separate our own fears from reality.  And listening to the coming out stories from previous generations only reinforces that sense of fear.

I had the privilege of serving as coordinator for a youth retreat last Summer, for Sexual Minority, Gender Variant youth.  During an exercise led by our Artist-in-Residence, Spencer J. Harrison we all got the chance to share coming out stories while in small groups.  One young man’s story in particular made me cry – and not for reasons you might suspect.

At first he didn’t feel he should contribute to the discussion, he didn’t feel that his story was worthy of sharing.  Upon encouragement, he opened up and told his story.  The story of coming out to a family who loved him and supported him – a family to which it didn’t matter what his orientation was.  Unwavering love and reassurance.  And that is what moved me to tears.

More and more people are realizing that orientation doesn’t matter, a person’s sexual desires don’t change who they are as a person.  More and more families find it easy to accept the idea that one of their children may be pansexual, bisexual, asexual, homosexual et al.  More and more young people have GOOD stories to share – and those stories are so worth hearing.  And in those instances where the outcome isn’t so positive?  That’s where community comes in.

If your family doesn’t accept you for who you are, they don’t deserve you.  Family is a choice, and is built on love.  So whether family of blood or family of choice – surround yourself with people who know how amazing you are.  Because you really are incredible!

 

 

a to z, april blog challenge

A quick reminder…

Just popping in to share a quick reminder to everyone who is new and who is popping by because of the A to Z challenge.  Although the challenge takes Sunday as it’s one day a week away from posting, here at TD365 I take Friday off.  So while everyone else out there is now posting “F”, I’ll be back tomorrow to share my post.

…and honestly?  Even if Friday wasn’t my usual day away from blogging, I wouldn’t be posting a challenge post today anyway.  I had a dentists visit to deal with some serious pain – and it resulted in an extraction.  I have one less wisdom tooth tonight than I had this morning.  So, this week, both Deedee (the Chihuahua puppy) and I went in for extractions.  😉

Have a “Good Friday” – get it?  ‘Cause it’s good Friday?  Yeah, I crack me up too.  😛

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