In just a week, Sassafras Lowrey and I will be taking off to Europe for a whirlwind of performances, readings, and other shenanigans across the continent (and London)! Check out our new tour poster below to find out where we’ll be!
This weekend, California became the first state to ban therapy practices that attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. According to the new law, mental health professionals who attempt ”to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex,” for minors will be subject to discipline from the body that licenses them.
I had my own experience with a ‘therapeutic’ school (and then wrote a show about it!) that used coercive treatments on those of us that were gender non-conforming or ‘sexual deviants.’ I am thrilled that California is taking steps to end this practice, and I hope that other states pass similar legislation. Unfortunately, since many families send their children to programs in other states for treatment, banning reparative therapy in one state isn’t enough– but it’s an important first step.
I’m curious to see how this ban actually plays out, because many ‘schools’ offering this treatment don’t present themselves as mental health practitioners and are skilled at dodging the regulations of the psychiatric industry. Will there be a penalty for practitioners of reparative treatments that are not mental health professionals?
The new law goes into effect on January 1st, 2013– let’s hope the next 3 months don’t have lots of ‘concerned’ parents in CA sending their kids off in a last-ditch attempt to ‘pray away the gay.’
I’m thrilled to announce that PoMo Freakshow (Sassafras Lowrey and myself) will be touring Europe this November! See below for tour dates and cities, and stay tuned for more details!
Eleven years ago today, I left.
I didn’t have much warning I was leaving– the staff preferred to only give a week’s notice. They didn’t want my eminent departure to give me an “exit mentality,” and it’s one of the first rules of maintaining control of another person: severely limit the information they have access to. The staff at Provo Canyon School were very committed to control.
Provo Canyon School is a lock-down institution for “troubled teens”. They have a website that I don’t care to link here, but you can google it if you want. It’s also interesting to see what pops up when you add keywords like “abuse” or “lawsuit” to your search.
Eleven years is a strange anniversary. It doesn’t have the neatness of 10 years, or the “a lifetime ago” quality of 15. Eleven is too much, and not enough. In ‘This is Spinal Tap,’ Nigel is very proud of his amps that go up to 11– it’s one louder than 10, an extra bit of power for when you need it. I suppose eleven does feel like an extra bit of power, but it’s also slightly ridiculous, a palindromic anniversary. I hesitate to follow that to it’s logical conclusion, because this 11 years certainly would not be the same backwards as forward.
I feel like I should have some pithy things about survival and growing into the self-actualized queer I am today. Some people have asked me, “How do you know that PCS didn’t give you the skills you needed to grow? How do you know that PCS isn’t the key to your survival?” It’s always hard to keep a straight face when I respond. A PCS success story is the bland pinnacle of normal– for the girls, that meant sensible domesticity, (heterosexual) marriage, and children (in that order).
The person I’ve grown into is exactly the person that PCS tried to kill. It was the realization that PCS wanted to kill that part of me that gave me the strength to hold on while I was there, to preserve myself deep within my skin and fight back against their poison once I was released. They said they knew I was the enemy, and deep down, I knew that they were wrong.
Last year, on my ten year anniversary, I wrote a post to the teens that are still locked up in private facilities–or really, I wrote to the recent releases, because there’s no way anyone incarcerated in one of these institutions has access to the internet, let alone to this blog. Remember what I said about the staff being committed to control?
From where I am now, I try to do what I can to educate people about the existence of places like PCS. It’s always a bit chilling for me when someone responds, “I had no clue things like that still happened.” Eleven years later, and I can still see the threads of control, and the way that the troubled teen industry limits and controls the information that the outside world can access about what goes on within their walls.
Still, for all their efforts, they can’t control those of us who survived, and they can’t stop us from speaking out.
It’s time for the Fresh Fruit Festival! Director Drae Campbell and I have been working hard on RADCLYFFE, and we’re ready to open tonight! I’m so excited to perform the first fully staged version of RADCLYFFE. It will be up tonight, 10/27 at 7:15pm, and tomorrow, 10/28 at 6pm, at the Workshop Theater (312 W 36th St, 4th Fl. NYC). Running time for the show is about 45 minutes, and we will be starting on time– so please don’t be late, or you’ll miss it!
Tickets are $18, and you can buy them in advance from http://freshfruitfestival.com or at the door.
Hope to see you tonight or tomorrow, I can’t wait to introduce you to Victorian England’s second most notorious invert!
I’m excited to announce that RADCLYFFE will be appearing as part of the Harvest Fruits Festival here in NYC at the end of October. This time, you’ll have two chances to see Radclyffe before she vanishes again into the ether (so you don’t have any excuses for missing it)! Mark your calendars for Thursday 10/27 at 7:15p, and Friday 10/28 at 6pm. Tickets are $18 in advance, and you can buy them here.
Stay tuned for more details– it’s been exciting to develop this show in NYC and Oakland over the past few months, and this festival will be the first fully staged version of the piece. I can’t wait!
This weekend has been a flurry of preparation for the upcoming Butch Voices conference, happening later this week in Oakland. I’ll be performing twice at the conference, as well as teaching a workshop. I’m excited to meet and reconnect with butch and other masculine-of-center folks from all over the country.
I’m really looking forward to teaching a workshop as part of the conference. My workshop is all about butches and testosterone– going on it, going off it, and what the hormone means in our communities. Just as a result of my post about going off of T, I’ve had some really great conversations about testosterone in the past few weeks, and I hope that teaching this workshop will be an opportunity to expand these conversations. The conference organizers haven’t released the workshop schedule yet, but I’ll post the time and location for my workshop as soon as I find out what it is.
I will first be performing as part of the Butch Nation performance on Saturday, August 20th at 7pm at the Kaiser Center Lakeside Theatre (300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland CA). I’m going to be doing an excerpt from Radclyffe, which seems particularly appropriate to me at a conference all about butch and masculine of center identities. After all, Radclyffe Hall has been called THE prototypical ‘mannish lesbian.’
On Sunday, Sassafras and I will be performing as part of the Spoken Word Brunch. We’re performing an excerpt from a new piece that we are writing together, titled ‘Flame.’ There are plenty of other great performers at both events, too many of them to list here. Just trust me– you don’t want to miss it!
There are still props to prepare and bags to pack– so I’ll wrap this up for now. Hope to see you in Oakland!
Are you ready to meet Radclyffe? Radclyffe–or ‘John,’ as her intimates would call her– is ready to meet you! Come welcome Radclyffe to New York this Wednesday, July 27th, 7:30pm, at Dixon Place as part of the HOT Festival! Tickets are just $15 in advance, and you can buy them here!
I’ve been having a lot of fun developing this piece, and I can’t wait to introduce you to Victorian England’s second most notorious invert!
To be honest, I’m conflicted about posting this blog. It doesn’t seem to me that I should have to say anything in a semi-public forum, but… it’s bound to come up eventually, and I’d rather forestall any rumors. Not that I think this would merit any rumors, but still. Here goes.
I quit testosterone about six months ago. Before the identity police come in, please note: quitting T does not make me any less trans, just like being on T did not make me any less butch. I’ve identified with both of those labels ever since I was a wee queer tadpole, and my use (or non-use) of hormones doesn’t change that.
A lot of factors went into this decision. First of all, I never intended to be a lifer with T. There were a few specific things I wanted from it– a lower voice and smaller hips were at the top of the list. I started taking T to further queer my gender presentation– not to normalize it. Once it got to the point that I was being read as a man in just about all contexts– and not even necessarily being read as trans in queer contexts– I knew it was time to stop. I’m butch, and I’m trans, but I’m certainly not a man.
My testosterone use was always conflicted. My first solo show, XY(T), wrestled with it, and reached a point of vague comfort by the end of the performance. I’m not sure how different that piece would look if I performed it now. I would probably have to add an epilogue. Someone should book the show, and we can find out what happens.
I’ll admit it– and I want to be clear here, I am just speaking for my own experience, and not making prescriptive statements for anyone else– it feels great. Since I quit, I have felt more energetic, more confident, more present in my own body. This may be a coincidence, and it may be psychosomatic. I’m reluctant to declare this as a causal relationship, however compelling the evidence seems to me. This does not mean that I regret the 6 years that I used the hormone– it was right for me then, and it isn’t right for me now.
I don’t think of this as “detransitioning.” There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, I’ve always chafed under the “transitioning” terminology– I was not “pre-transition” before I started taking T, I was not “mid-transition” while I was on it, and I never envisioned myself arriving at some elusive “post-transition” point. “Transition,” with its implied origin and destination, simply didn’t work for me.
What hasn’t changed is how I present myself or identify myself socially. What is changing, now, is how I’m perceived in the world. It’s strange, I don’t feel as if my appearance or mannerisms have changed at all, but already I’m getting the “sir—ma’ams” and the skeptical looks in bathrooms. And while, yes, sometimes it feels awkward or slightly unsafe, it also feels like I am being more wholly seen than I have been in years.
I’ll be teaching a workshop about testosterone– going on it, and going off it, for masculine-of-center folks– at the Butch Voices conference in Oakland in August. I’m looking forward to bringing more people into this conversation. There is lots of dialogue in transmasculine and masculine-of-center communities about going on T… but very little about going off. Hopefully, this blog, and my upcoming workshop, will create a little more space for anyone else out there who is re-examining their relationship to testosterone. Or if nothing else… maybe it will start a few good rumors.