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Sexual and Gender Diversity in Physics

December 4, 2012 |

After graduating from the University of Texas in 2007, I entered one of the most complex periods of my life.  Since childhood I had consistently felt more like a woman than a man, but growing up in a small town in rural North Carolina I had always been terrified to express this to anyone.  By the time I entered college (still in North Carolina), I had some rough idea that maybe there was something I could do about the situation, but I told myself that obtaining my Ph.D. and getting a start on my career in physics should be my first priority.

However, deep inside what I really feared was that nobody would ever take me seriously as a trans woman in physics.  I didn’t know any trans women in my own life— much less trans women successful in science—  to whom I could look up as mentors.  Not to mention that I had few reliable sources of information about my own situation in general terms; in fact, I wasn’t even familiar with phrases like “gender identity” or “trans woman” at the time I made that decision.

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Roy G. Business: Turning Queer Activism Into Work Experience

July 18, 2011 |

So you’ve come out, transitioned, worn your rainbow on your sleeve and now nobody will hire you because the market is just flooded with skilled, experienced candidate hopefuls who don’t have an issue with having their legal names on their nametags and won’t ask for Pride weekend off. We’ve all been there. Some of us still haven’t come back.

Well you can’t mope about it all day because you have your community potluck/rally/beer bust/zombie burlesque show to organize. If only companies were interested in people who devoted themselves to large scale projects at the cost of their free time and self-interest.

Wait a minute…you don’t think…well Jiminy Crickets. It’s a long shot, but maybe we can work our activism and volunteer work into resume points. I’m just kidding. It’s not a long shot at all. People do it every day to get a leg up on Jeffy Jabroni and his “I’m only in it for the money” resume. Fuck Jeffy. If he wants to prove he’s such an asset, he can work to make the world a better place in his free time. Companies want people who care.
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Transition In Translation

July 16, 2011 |

Lucian: Tell the class what your partner said.
Japanese Woman: I am the partner.
Korean Man: Her favorite movie is “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” There is a man…and he is…gay? Gay. And he is a trans…a trans…
Italian Woman: I know! A transformer!

I had a sex change in front of adult English as a Second Language students from Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine.

When I told my boss that I was only going to use male pronouns from then on, she thought I would teach my students that they would have to call everyone “he,” “him” and “his” for the rest of their lives.

Transitions often draw some kind of audience, but rarely an international assembly.

When I started teaching at the English language institute in 2008, I had unkempt, red hair down to my waist and chronically dowdy women’s professional footwear. One year later, I got a haircut that I thought made me look just like the seventeenth century Romantic composer Robert Schumann, but everyone else thought made me look like a brunette Ellen DeGeneris circa 1999. Read More

On Bravery and Baby Sloths, in Four Parts

July 8, 2011 |

Part 1: The Customer

Life in the service industry is a perpetual exercise in opposition. The servers versus the kitchen. Employees versus management. The cost of living versus the crushing reality you are only making $2.65 an hour plus tips. But there is no rivalry so intense, so fundamental to the life of a waitress as the war between server and customer.

Customers are terrible people. They are cruel, selfish creatures devoid of humanity. The Customer feasts on your soul (cooked medium-medium-well with lo-cal gluten free ranch dressing on the side) and only after The Customer’s desire for destruction is sated will The Customer complain to management and demand free dessert. Don’t take this personally. I’m sure you’re a wonderful and caring human being outside the walls of your favourite bars and cafes. Really, I’ve heard nice things about you. But the thing to understand is this: the moment you walk through the front door of that eco-friendly vegan chop house you love so very much, you turn in to The Enemy. It doesn’t matter who you are. Upon entry into a restaurant, even the most loving and harmless person in the world becomes the kind of person who would punch a baby sloth in the mouth for a side of caesar dressing.

Have you ever seen a baby sloth in a restaurant before? No? Now you know why. It’s because of Customers.
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Straight Talk on Funding for Queer Art

June 27, 2011 |

Moving to Europe so that you can use rainbow money is not the only solution to get funded as a queer artist.

Queer artists face particular challenges when looking for funding for their work. Artists who aren’t already part of a network of the wealthy and powerful may find it difficult to secure grant funding. Below are some tough facts to get you started, and then we’ll cover a 6-step how-to guide for breaking through the noise and getting the grant of your dreams.

Tough Fact #1: There are No Quick Fixes. Read More

The Calling of the Goddess: Queer Feminist Magic and My Writing Practice

June 27, 2011 |

Mary Shelley, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Monique Wittig, Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, Joanna Russ, Ursula Le Guin, Marge Piercy, Octavia Butler.

I am constantly creating lists of women’s names in my head. It is a practice I was introduced to early, by my mother, who taught me to take particular note of the work of women artists found at my hometown’s art gallery, the Albright Knox in Buffalo, NY. In retrospect, my overloaded single mom probably devised this activity to keep me occupied while she worked her part-time job at the gallery bookstore. I could easily spend an hour or two scavenger hunting for Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Bourgeois, Tamara De Lempicka; Louise Nevelson’s Royal Game 1 held my eight-year old attention for twenty minutes at a time with its towering golden crates and moody wooden shapes.

Now seeking out women is well-rooted habit, and one that easily transfers to the literary world. For instance, whenever one of the university press literary journals that I subscribe to arrives in the mail, I scan the contributors for women’s names before cracking the spine.
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