Monthly Archives: February 2011

here is some unsolicited life advice.

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okay, so, many of these things may seem like common sense. but sometimes you just need someone to tell ya something obvious! also, the two vaginal-health related tips are things i’ve never seen in the many DIY resources on the subject (of which i’ve read plenty).  onward!

*if you menstruate, and get cramps, i’d recommend trying to cut out nightshade vegetables (the most common of those are tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers of all kinds) during your most severe cramping days, and maybe for a day before if you can. i did this, ordered my lunch-time sandwich with no tomatoes, and felt GREAT. then, that evening, i forgot and had some tomato sauce and within an hour i was feeling totally shitty again. i know nightshades are delicious and healthy, but you can live without them for a few days.

*do you hate your goddamn coworkers? does their incessant, mean-spirited nattering drive you up the wall?! it’s okay to spend $40 on noise-cancelling headphones, even if you’re on a budget! srsly, worth their weight in gold. (i know most noise-cancelling headphones are like $200, but i got mine at CVS for under 40 bucks. and they have made a tremendous diff in my life.)

*yeast infection? try taking a goldenseal bath! draw a steamy hot bath and put 3-4 goldenseal teabags in there with you. it’s a lot easier than a) drinking it (it’s beyond disgusting) or b) making a goldenseal douche, as some herbal handbooks recommend. and it worked really well, for me, anyway. goldenseal’s a pretty strong herb, you shouldn’t use it too regularly, and if you sit in the tub with it too long, it might make your skin a little dry (although it usually makes my skin deliciously soft, yay!)

*someone near and dear to me helped research this story in the NYT about hydrofracking, and how the runoff is extremely toxic & radioactive, and is winding up in our drinking water. fracking is a pretty hot-button issue around here because it’s literally in our backyard, but seems to have been not such a big concern in the rest of the country…until now?! I don’t know, but this shit is scary, my friends. read it & get angry. (well, i won’t tell you how you should feel. but you’ll probably be angry, and scared.)

on a thoroughly unrelated note, look! it’s me (and alicia, stephanie and a whole bunch of other people) ! in the pittsburgh post-gazette!

in case you can’t read my sign, it says, “i don’t care what congress says–our lives matter!”

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on a thoroughly different note…

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… ray & i are watching “back to the future II” to see, uh, how we’ll all be living in 4 years, in november 2015! it was pretty hilarious. apparently we’ll all be doing a lot of hovering, but there will still be phonebooths. hmm!

as ray so hilariously put it, “i love how they’re in the future, but they still have totally bad 80’s fashion!”

ps. that image was stolen from the hilarious article, “11 things that back to the future got wrong.”

the theme of today

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seems to be “idiotic men talking loudly”. at work i have my ipod cranked almost all the way up & still i can hear their voices, talking about absolutely fucking nothing. why would they think to lower their voices in an allegedly professional work environment? that might restrict them from doing whatever the hell they want at every second, no matter what, and we can’t have that. then i stepped outside to get away to be confronted by some idiot street-corner preacher, huge sign about how abortion is taking amerika to hell or some such thing, screaming so loud i could still hear him 3 blocks away. and what is there to think, what is there to feel, what is there to say except fuck you fuck you fuck you?

strange hours

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hello! i am supposed to be on a DC-bound megabus right now. but, fate intervened. my boyf is in maryland right now because he’s under 26 and still cover-able under his parents’ health insurance. he’s been having some painful and upsetting tummy issues so he had to travel 300 miles to go to a doctor cuz his parents’ insurance won’t cover out-of-state doctor visits. (sad that this is one of the better outcomes with regards to healthcare. but as my co-worker adam said, “what are you gonna do about it? smoke a joint and cry, that’s pretty much it”) (ps i don’t smoke joints and don’t cry toooo much)

anyhoo, so he’s there, right near DC, and he was saying that he wanted to go see the gay-themed exhibit at the smithsonian. i said, “oh man! i wanna go too!” and got on the megabus website and bought an $8 ticket to DC! then, a few days later, we actually checked the friggin’ dates and realized that the exhibit ended the weekend before this. d’oh! but i already had my ticket and we were like, what the hell. it’s a long weekend, it’s a major city, we’ll have fun anyway.

so. i awoke at 5:45 this AM, sipped a little coffee, nibbled a little toast and then hopped on my bike, pointing towards the convention center and the waiting bus. the moon was high and bright over my head and the wind was whipping my hair all around. i felt a little crazed, to be honest, and also i felt like my going to DC was somehow against fate. but i kept plugging on.

i was almost there, stewing at a red light in the strip district, when i decided to OCD-ishly check my back pocket to make sure my wallet was still there. and…it wasn’t. i checked again, both my pockets. “FUCK!!!!!” i yelled (sorry, residents of 26th street, if i woke you!) still not there. “FUUUUUUUCK!” (because, you know, that solves all of my problems.) i called my BF, he was surprisingly jovial at that early hour.

it’s weird, because once i turned back, the sun came up and the wind stopped. the city, which had looked so menacing and scary in the dark, became sweet and new, full of possibility. and i found my wallet! it seemed hopeless, walking home scanning the street, but i found it laying in the middle of the road, 39th & butler st, totally fine. i was so happy!!! i joyously went to wendy’s to use the bathroom and then was inspired to get some breakfast potatoes and finish reading my book (dash & lily’s book of dares, by david levithan & rachel cohn–it was great!).

by the way, in case you were wondering, wendy’s at 7am on a saturday morning is full of nothing but really strange people. when i got there a group of men were loudly debating over whether one of their dogs was “a pussy” because it didn’t bark at other dogs! i am not kidding!!!

so. weekend by myself. what to do? i’m exhausted but i’ve had way too much coffee to sleep. sun! fun! library! laundry! friends! etc!

don’t you remember?

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came to work to find the air conditioning blasting (it’s 43 degrees outside! or it was, now it’s shivery again) and an anonymous valentine on my desk urging me to accept jesus christ into my heart. yes, really. it really upset me for some reason (although i felt better when i realized that everyone had gotten one and it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just some random person who pegged me as a sinner).

the fabulous amanda lent me her walkman so i’ve been listening to fuzzy tapes all day instead of my crisp-yet-repetitive ipod. been taking me down memory lane, in a bad way. when i emerge from a too-long bathroom session my eyes are puffy and red and i look like a disheveled homeless man. i guess the fingerless gloves and the dirty long wool coat (what my ex-best friend called my “lovable wino coat”) don’t help matters much, but what choice do i have? the AIR CONDITIONING IS ON, ON FUCKING VALENTINES DAY. maybe that would be okay in, like, hawaii, but probably not even there. not in western pennsylvania. so i’m wandering around heartstabbed and shivering today. i can’t get warm anywhere. this coat used to be the thickest one i owned, and now the wind slices right through it.

despair.

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so. obama is planning on cutting $2.5 billion dollars from LIHEAP. i work for LIHEAP; about 3 million families in america use the program; about 65,000 in the county i work for/live in. planned parenthood is slated to lose $327 million in federal funding. one of my besties and three of my other friends work there; millions of low-income and uninsured women are served there every year.

what will happen to us five? what will happen to us millions? i guess we’ll figure something else out, make it work somehow, stretch the unstretchable until it snaps. what else can you do? lay down and die? tempting, but that would be letting the fuckers win, the fuckers (oh aren’t i so dignified in my language choice?) with their suits and their suites and their power, who don’t think my life as a living breathing woman is as valuable as that of a fetus i am incubating? oh my god, that link, if you haven’t heard of it already…if you, as a woman, did not already have enough evidence that your life means nothing to the people in power, that link will be all the proof you need.

so, what to do. the previous post made me upset but empowered, the community response around that issue was amazing, so many people willing to do what it takes in such short notice. the first time i saw the powers of facebook used for good and not the mundane. truly inspiring and heartwarming.

but what do you do in the face of bills on the brink of passing that invalidate your humanity, that state that your life has no value? go to law school? write a letter to your congressperson that gets thrown in the recycling immediately? call them and get branded a wingnut? what happens if you are tired of explaining to men who will never get pregnant that choosing whether or not to be pregnant is really, really important, and really, really not their business? what if the air rushes out of your lungs. what if all this arguing with people who don’t care robs your cells of the oxygen they need to live. don’t you need to live?

and what do you do, every day, in the face of that tidal wave of paperwork, all those heating applications, all those sad stories, and your co-workers who’ve had good jobs their whole adult lives, who tell stories of their spouse turning down the thermostat to, gasp, 68 degrees!, say they’re lying, say, they’re just trying to get your sympathy, what do you say in the face of that? especially when they have your empathy, not sympathy, because you know their stories. because you’ve lived them, or witnessed them. you’ve shivered through winters because you couldn’t pay your heating bill and you know these people aren’t lying, or, if they are, they have a damn good reason. but what do you say to those gray cubicles to make them understand?

what do you do. you fight in the small ways. you find ways to stay sane. you write and you hope. you keep living. what else can you do.

an open letter to WPXI: stop yr transphobic reporting practices

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so, this morning my boyfriend and i were looking for something totally unrelated on our local news’ website, and we came across this horrifyingly transphobic news segment: “Police Bust Men Posing as Female Prostitutes”.

In case you don’t feel like clicking that link and watching that awful video, 2 transwomen prostitutes were arrested recently in a sting. The news chose to portray them as men trying to pull a fast one on the johns of Pittsburgh. The reporter actually showed pictures of the women (who have long hair, breasts and who pass as women) to a random douchebag on the street and saying something like, “can you believe these people are REALLY MEN?!” they recorded his reaction: shaking his head in mute disgust, saying, “wow, i don’t even know what to say.”

we were both so angry after watching this clip. my boyfriend curled up in a ball on the couch. we didn’t say anything for a minute, and then he said, “i feel physically ill right now.” i rubbed his back and said, let’s do something about it. so he called the news station & called the jail (he is actually arguing with a reporter on the phone as i write this!), and i wrote the following letter to WPXI. i’m posting it here so that more people can read it. i encourage anyone who is outraged to call, write or email WPXI.

February 5, 2011

WPXI

4145 Evergreen Road

Pittsburgh, PA 15214

To Whom It May Concern:

I was saddened and appalled by WPXI’s news item on February 4, “Police Bust Men Posing as Female Prostitutes in Strip District.” I feel that reporter Vince Sims (as well as the editors, producers and anyone else involved with the story) treated its’ subjects in a derogatory and disrespectful manner that was completely uncalled for, and requires an immediate public apology.

First of all, the story’s title is inaccurate. Tamika Jones and Nakala Jackson are not names anyone would associate with men. Their feminine appearance, female names, and the presence of breasts on their bodies are indicators that they are not men at all, but transgendered women. Their birth sex is irrelevant, as they clearly pass as women, identify as women, live as women.

While I don’t know Jones or Jackson personally, and cannot make a statement as to what they were doing in that hotel room, they were definitely not “men posing as female prostitutes.” They were not a pair of men who thought it would be hilarious to trick some unsuspecting johns into having sex with them. In all likelihood, they, as is the case with many transgendered women, probably found prostitution their only viable work option. Imagine interviewing for a job with a female name and long, flowing hair; and then having your employer ask for ID and having to sheepishly hand them a driver’s license with an “M” instead of the “F” they were expecting. Changing one’s gender legally is a very expensive, time-consuming process; some states will not allow it at all without a note from a surgeon stating that the person has undergone genital surgery (which can cost upwards of $100,000 and is not covered by any insurance). This lack of appropriate papers makes on-the-books employment an extreme challenge for many transwomen who cannot afford a legal gender change, and many turn to prostitution simply to survive. Dozens of trans prostitutes are killed every year by enraged johns who “discover” their “real” sex. It’s no laughing matter.

Sims’ tactic of interviewing a random man on the street, showing him pictures of Jones and Jackson and asking if he believes they were men, is stunningly unprofessional. The man-on-the-street (who’s not even from Pittsburgh!) shaking his head in mute disgust is presumably meant to drive the story’s point home–that these women are “freaks”. I can think of no other circumstance in which a reporter would show pictures of women to random people, record their disdainful reactions, and call that news.

The AP Style guide, 2006, says this about reporting on transgendered people: “Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.” I realize that standards are different for broadcast journalism than they are for print; however, I would like to think that WPXI holds itself to industry professional standards.

I actually watch WPXI news every night. I think it’s the best local news in the Pittsburgh region. However, until WPXI publicly apologizes to Tamika Jones, Nakala Jackson, and the transgender community in Pittsburgh for its thoughtless, unprofessional and sometimes downright cruel reporting of this story, I will never watch it again.

In Struggle,

[my legal name]