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Monday, April 30, 2012

Transgressing Gender

Last week I made the commitment to and enjoyed the pleasure of hearing Kate Bornstein speak. Hir appearance was sponsored by the collegiate LGBTQIA organization. Hir talk was encouraging, inspiring, and enthusiastic while addressing the topics of sex, bullying and you.

Here are some of hir talking points from that evening:
  • Our imaginations are in thrall to the institutions of oppression. (Minnie Bruce Pratt)
  • The names we give ourselves must no longer bind us to a system that would rather see us dead.
  • More than either/or, how can I fit in and help heal this world? 
  • The Bully system demands that we make a choice: male/female, black/white, right/wrong, day/night, pink/blue, in/out, gay/straight. 
  • Each movement has named itself within the confines of the very system it was bucking - the Women's Movement, Gay Activist, Bi-Sexual Movement, Trans-sexual/gender, intersexed, ftm, mtf, all too terrorized to call themselves something other than male or female. We are beyond LGBTQQIA.
  • Gender Outlaws will remain outsiders. When they come we will be divided into the either/or. What cultural law are you breaking by just being who you are?
  • How can we find some common ground? We hold these truths to be self evident, that all people have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The issue is that mythologies with more power bully the world. That makes it hard to coexist. Our pursuit of happiness doesn't count. When did we stop saying, "Have a lovely day."?
  • By leaving no option for a outsiders to thrive, a bully culture engineers its own demise.
  • We are still behaving like junior high adolescents - not really children, yet far from adulthood. We use our clicks and insecurities to bully others into compliance. Some pass (survive) by hiding, fading into the background, or acting as if. But what of those who can not pass? What of their right to pursue happiness?
  • The responsibility of growing up is to give a helping hand to those who are a few bubbles off center. We need to include - radically welcome - everyone who is being oppressed.
  • Binary systems of classification exist only in our imaginations. (Nature has more depth and breath.) Dream a good life for yourself. 
  • Yet, so much of what we dream as a good life goes against God. What happens after you dies? Messing around with sex and gender can get you sent to hell.
    • Here's your "Get Out of Hell Free" card. (Kate instructed the audience to pick one up at the table on the way out. In case we forgot or were negligent, they were passed out by ushers during the remainder of hir talk.) Kate spoke, "Live you life. Do good things. Be who you want to be, living and loving. Harm no one and be kind. If after a full and loving life, you die and wake up in hell, give the devil this card, or a reasonable facsimile, (Kate held the card up for the audience) and I will do your time for you. You see, I made a deal with the devil." 
    Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. This is hir blog.  Take the quiz on gender. Challenge the dominate thinking. Open a discussion. End the silence that separates us. Live your dreams.

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