Wow, dear readers--I can't thank you enough for the outpouring of love, good wishes, and virtual hugs you've sent me since my last post. I really am touched. I miss my dog terribly, and know I will for a long time, but it's heartening to see all the puppy love happening in the wide, wide world. Here are all the (nearly 100) photos readers sent in! (I think this is all of them, but if I somehow missed yours, let me know.) Enjoy the gallery!
SO cute, aren't they?? And the dogs aren't half bad, either. ;)
Seriously, all: thank you. It means a lot.
Last year, Australia made it legal for people to register their gender as "nonspecific"--that is, neither male nor female. Other countries, including New Zealand and Nepal, have similar laws. I support this, because I think people should be able to "identify" however they want, or to not "identify" as anything at all.
My concern isn't with the third gender movement itself, but with how people understand it, and how they understand gender as a result. Articles like this one from Sunday's NY Times adopt language that, despite their apparent inclusiveness, actually reiterate the gender divide. In part, the article details the gender-related travails of Norrie May-Welby, an Australian who was designated male at birth, but by age four, "was drawn to the world of girls, playing with dolls..." Later in life, Norrie underwent gender reassignment surgery and identified as female. Although this development was gratifying, she found she did not want to "dissociate [her]self from aspects... simply because they were labeled masculine" (she now IDs as gender nonspecific, though she's fine with female or nonspecific pronouns).
I have zero problem with Norrie's personal decisions or (quite courageous) journey. My problem is in the way this story is told, and in what this telling means. The story, and others like it, suggest that Norrie's doing "girl things" as a kid was a clue to her female-ness, but that her refusal to let go of "masculine" things later meant she wasn't "fully female," or that part of her was "truly male."
In other words, much of the "third gender" discussion equates "masculine" things with maleness, and "feminine" things with femaleness. It reiterates the gender binary by trying to oppose it. That is, when you say that a third gender exists because some people like "boy stuff" and "girl stuff," you're still adopting the idea that "girl stuff" and "boy stuff" exist as categories. And I don't think they should; I think it's stupid for the categories to exist at all.
If you want your gender to be butch or nonspecific or agender or neutrois or anything else, I think that's awesome and that you should go for it. But I also think it's important to fight against the idea that people are necessarily something besides male or female simply because they don't fit into society's ideas of typical masculinity or typical femininity.
Starting in 2004, the Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Research Foundation (LGQRF), has been keeping track of queer sub-populations in the U.S. They have ALL kinds of quantitative data, both about self-identity and lifestyle. They don't list "butch" as a self-selected category, but do collapse several indicative variables together, including sporting activities, reading habits, car ownership, occupation, and more, and end up with a startlingly accurate picture of the butch population throughout the U.S.
If you're like me, you're a little hesitant--after all, there a thousand ways to measure the "butchest" towns and cities: butches as a percentage of the queer population, butches as a percentage of the general population, or degree of butchness (that is, how "butch" are the butches there, even if there aren't very many of them?). The GLQRF actually breaks it down in seven different ways, but I'm just going to highlight the top 5 in the categories I think are the most interesting. (The GLQRF lists 50 in each, and that's just waaaay too many for me to include here.)
Butches as a percentage of the queer population
1. Sudbury, Massachusetts
2. La Honda, California
3. Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
4. New York, New York
5. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Butches as a percentage of the general population
1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2. Northampton, Massachusetts
3. Oakland, California
4. Provo, Utah
5. Abilene, Texas
Butchest Butches (without regard to # or % of butches)
1. Tracy, California
2. Highlands Ranch, Colorado
3. Friday Harbor, Washington
4. Mitchell, Nebraska
5. Lafayette, Louisiana
Least Butch Butches (without regard to # or % of butches)
1. Seaside Heights, New Jersey
2. Sunnyvale, California
3. Scarsdale, New York
4. Los Angeles, California
5. Frankfort, Kentucky
Most Attractive Butches
1. Portland, Oregon
2. Galena, Illinois
3. Greenville, South Carolina
4. North Decatur, Georgia
5. Eliot, Maine
1. YOU, if you're still reading this. April Fool's! Heehee. Hope you enjoyed scouring the fictitious stats above. I just made 'em up! Have a terrific day. Love, BW
A highly subjective (and probably offensive) list of things some butches do (or that I've done myself) that bug me and/or others. I submit to you, dear readers, the question of whether, in YOUR ideal world, butches would stop doing the following:
Okay, dear readers... lay it on me. Which of these do you disagree with? Which do you agree with?
I love sports (almost) as much as the next dyke, but I have awfully mixed feelings about the Olympics this year. Russia's LGBT community is under constant, hateful, and often violent siege from its government. Gay "propaganda"--defined as anything depicting LGBTQ relationships in a positive or neutral light in a form accessible to minors--is illegal. This includes, as you can imagine, such "propaganda" as holding hands with your partner, wearing a T-shirt with a pink triangle on it, or even just being queer parents. Just a few weeks ago, the Russian government fined the editor of a newspaper who published an interview with a gay teacher. An interview, people. In a newspaper.
Gay people in Russia are regularly bullied, chased, beaten up, and subjected to all kinds of hateful acts. In a way, maybe it's good that the Olympics are being held in Russia this year, since it will draw attention to the human rights violations that go on in Russia every day. Principle 6 is the Olympic principle that forbids discrimination on the basis of politics, race, religion, gender, or otherwise--a principle decidedly not embraced in Russia.
The Principle 6 campaign is designed to raise awareness of the way LGBTQ people are treated in Russia and "and underscore that Russia's anti-LGBT discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement." I urge you to take the Principle 6 logo and make it your Facebook or Twitter image. I guarantee that people will ask you about it, which will give you more chances to spread the word.
And if you're a schwag-lover like me, you'll be happy to know that American Apparel has designed a very cool "Principle 6" clothing line, and it's money well-spent, since proceeds will support LGBTQ groups in Russia.
I hope you'll spread the word, and help LGBTQ folks in Russia imagine a better world.