Pansy EP Release

Today I’m releasing my EP “Pansy”

It’s a 32 minute tape of sad queer songs about trauma and love and gender and ugliness, written last spring when I was heartbroken and homeless.

Side A has guitar & synth songs with my melodramatic voice crooning about rape culture, gun violence, internalized transphobia, bullying, unrequited love, and feeling creepy, plus a different cover song on each tape. Side B is solo improvised cello; an exploration of the instrument’s capacity for ghastly textures and general ugliness.

The digital version is ✨free✨ / pay-whatever. There are 28 cassettes, and they are priced at one for £1, one for £2, and so on up to one for £28. I’m donating 15% of the sales money to Action For Trans Health as an act of solidarity because they do amazing direct action work to fund healthcare for trans people in the UK.


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Listen to or buy the digital version

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This project has been really important to me personally because music was weaponized against me by my abusive ex (fuck you, Charles Potashner, aka Shapeshifter promotions in London) and it’s the first time I’ve written music since then.


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See all the artwork or buy a cassette

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It’s also the first time I’ve made music all on my own, without any help, ever! I did every part of the project by myself: writing the lyrics and music, engineering and recording each cassette direct-to-tape in my bedroom 29 times (28 tapes + 1 for the digital version), painting the shells, hand-writing the liner notes, typing up the plant fact inserts, hand-drawing the plant artwork, and photographing the whole process; and, I’ll be hyping and selling and shipping them all out myself too. It’s been a lot of work and I’ve found it to be empowering, frustrating, cathartic, and long.

This is the first year I’ve played and performed since I left Charles; reclaiming music has been difficult and wonderful. I’m so so grateful to everyone who has encouraged me, asked me to play with them, allowed me to play with them, come to our shows, recorded with me, and especially my housemates who tolerated my repetitive live bedroom performances as I recorded these tapes.

DIY or die

“Pansy” EP Pre-Release to benefit the Transgender Law Center, and Action For Trans Health

Today, bandcamp is donating all of their profits to the Transgender Law Center in the US. To maximize the impact, I’m doing a 24 hour release of an A Side / B Side single from my new EP “Pansy” for £1.

15% of the money raised will go straight to the TLC (that’s bandcamp’s usual cut), and on top of that I’ll be donating 15% of my share to Action for Trans Health in the UK. It will only be available for 24 hours, from 8:00am Friday August 4 to 8:00 Saturday August 5, during bandcamp’s campaign. After that if you want to hear it, you’ll have to wait until I release the whole EP at the end of the summer.

The A Side is “But Why”, a song about weird romantic cultural norms. The B Side is a cover of “I Am Hated For Loving” by my fav trash lord, Morrissey, re-imagined as a trans love song to self. “But Why” will be on the full EP, but the cover won’t be so if you want trans mozzer, this is your only chance.

It’s only £1!

Support trans artists & trans activism!

When I release the full EP, the digital version will be free / pay-what-you-can, and I’ll continue donating 15% of my earnings from both the digital and physical versions to A4TH.

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UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone who bought or shared my pre-relase single yesterday.

Bandcamp’s profits were about $100,000 (!!!) which will all go to the Transgender Law Center. My sales are just a drop in the bucket but I’m really proud that my music contributed to this massive fundraiser. On average you spent almost 4 times as much as my suggested price: bandcamp’s share came to £10.13 which will go to the TLC, and I’m giving the same (well, £11, rounding up) to Action For Trans Health. Lots of the support came from other trans artists which warms my cynical heart tbh.

I’m overjoyed that my music can materially support activist groups. When I release the full EP at the end of the summer, the digital version will be pay-what-you-can / free, and I’ll keep donating 15% to A4TH.

New publications and update

[Image description: large dark green leaves against a millennial pink background]


STRIKE! Magazine

STRIKE! has just published my essay “Fuck Passing: Class, Respectability, and Trans Healthcare” in their Summer 2017 issue! I’m in brilliant company and could not recommend it highly enough. There will be a launch party in London soon, hold tight.


Queer Privacy

I’ve written an essay about information security and privacy in Queer Privacy, a collection of essays by other queer people on privacy and community, family, coming out, activism, domestic violence, and suicide. It’s edited by Sarah Jamie Lewis, who was an absolute dream to work with, and I’m very pleased to say that she was able to pay me a proper fee for my writing. You can support more work like it by buying the book as an ebook or paperback. The whole book is under a creative commons license; if you’d like to read it but can’t afford to buy it, send me an email and I’ll send you a PDF.


Book: Queer Trouble

This spring I signed a book deal(!!!!) with Jessica Kingsley Publishers, who recently put out the kids’ book Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? My book is provisionally titled Queer Trouble, and aims to explore the intrinsic relationship between gender and sexuality, discuss and contextualize queer words, and destabilize pervasive “normal” words and concepts like “gender”, “sex”, and “man”. It’s my main project right now and should be published in spring of 2018.

“I Pity The Cis” reading at SALT. Magazine launch

[Image description: Me, smiling in a white-walled art gallery, holding a copy of the magazine]

Content Note: non-graphic mentions of rape, abuse, and transphobia

Last night I read my piece “I Pity The Cis” at the launch of SALT. Magazine‘s launch for issue 9 at Deptford X. SALT is a feminist magazine run by women, and this issue was themed on The Furies (not to be confused with “the furries”). My piece was about the slow realization of being trans made slower by my abusive rapist ex-boyfriend, and how I pity cis people for having such narrow, heavily policed genders.

The gallery was sparse and the room eventually filled with art school graduates (or people who wanted to look like art school graduates) sitting on the floor. The first performer read an excerpt from her piece on what we will do under duress; the next un/did a hex; and the night ended with a dramatic reading about articulation and cadavers, done over a very wet, reverby soundscape. My piece was angry and bitter and quick, and people seemed to like it. Two friends came with me and I had a nice enough time—but if I’m honest I’m bored of how insular (uncritical) and abstract (inaccessible) the art scene is. I didn’t talk to anyone but my pals and the organizers, who were all very gracious and complimentary, because everyone else was doing that aloof posturing thing that artists and their critics do.

The only acceptable ways to behave in an art space are: like an enthusiastic, just-so-happy-to-be-there puppy with no complaints; or, like a cynical, self-righteous edgelord who is too cool to enjoy anything. Even now I feel guilty for what feels like whining. I’m always glad to be given a platform to talk about stuff I think is important like transphobia and rape apologism, and I did get paid a small sum: £20 with the promise of more, contingent on fundraising. I don’t want to be an edgelord, and I want to be invited back to do more readings. But like my friends have been saying lately, no more fake orgasms to boost the art world’s self-esteem (thanks for sharing that link, actual-artist Megan Pickering). Who is it for? Who’s allowed in and are they legitimate if they’re doing any less than a dozen projects? Am I going to be let back in after trans stuff isn’t “trendy”? Or will I be left outside, a killjoy yelling about rape culture? Maybe I feel the need to be extra nice because if I’m not, I’m a scary/angry trans person (or survivor, or sex worker, or migrant, or autistic, or Jew, depending on what I’m shouting about that day, can’t be all at once tho that’s Too Much). No one wants ‘people like that’ around because it’s uncomfortable. Imagine how much nicer I’d need to be if I wasn’t white.

I don’t have conclusions about how to navigate the tension between performing gratefulness in an ugly institution (the Art World) and relying on that institution for money and networking (to get money), but I want to highlight it anyway. It seems valuable to put a spotlight on tensions.

You can pre-order a physical copy of The Furies issue of SALT. here. I don’t think it will be published online but I’ll update this if I hear otherwise.

vlog: Queer lqqks & visible Otherness

[Image description: a selfie of me performing the “queer lqqk”: pale skin, dark shaped brows, lipstick, long lashes, and a choker]

A monologue about queer lqqks in London, visible Otherness, and how it feels gross to use the social capital of queer aesthetics to distance ourselves from our privileges.

Accompanying reading:

The Queer Poor Aesthetic // Shak’ar Mujukian // The Hye-Phen Magazine // 10 September 2016

We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Racists // Shon Faye // Zed Books // 15 February 2017

Asylum Seekers and “Dishonest” Sexualities // Autostraddle // 2 July 2014

vlog: Queer crushes with Nicole Henriksen

Late last night my good friend comedian/performer Nicole Henriksen and I made a vlog about queer crushes and love under capitalism. My camera died at the end because I’m just an amateur filmmaker but the conclusion is:

There are lots of kinds of love! Love is good! Tell the people who you love and appreciate that you love and appreciate them! Expressing love in bleak political conditions is a small, revitalizing radical act for you and your love.

Public Transit While Trans

 

[Image description: Selfie against white wall. Main features: white skin, short brown hair, a white shirt, a black & white tie, round glasses, thick eyebrows, and red lipstick drawn off-center of subject’s lips]

 

CN: Street harassment, transphobia, misogyny

 

This is what I wore to the Proms on Saturday night: a normative shirt, slacks, and tie, with a pair of lips drawn on my cheek. I nearly wore a short black business skirt and heels instead, but decided against it at the last minute despite the hot weather.

On the way there, on the tube, a child pointed at me and yelled “Look!”. The parent “shh”d and didn’t say anything else. I smiled and said, “It’s ok”. The parent looked away and the child stared.

The child wasn’t threatening and they were probably more curious and excited than anything else, but the parent’s reaction had strong implications.
“Shh, we don’t point because it’s impolite.”
“Shh, we don’t talk about when people are different, we just ignore them.”
“Shh, if you draw attention to this they might have the nerve to talk to us and how awkward would that be?”
“Shh, yes I know men in makeup are freaks but it’s rude to point it out.”

Being a public object based on my gender presentation has been such a common, mundane experience for most of my life that I forgot all about this until I read Darkmatter‘s recent post about a similar exchange with a child and parent on public transit.

After a few years of obsessing over how the public read my gender, I’ve gotten very good at knowing how I’m being gendered and emitting gender cues so as to be gendered how I want. I know how to be read as a harmless girl who needs help, a hard woman who might cut you if you mess with her, a boring (i.e. straight) middle-class white guy, a flamboyant (i.e. gay) middle-class white guy, a scruffy queer, or a Is That A Boy Or A Girl androgynous mess. I know how to make a shopkeeper dance between “sir” and “ma’am”, “darling” and “mate”. Gender is so flimsy, I can collapse it with a step, a facial expression, a gesticulation, a vocal inflection, or the application of lipstick. You could tell me I’m wrong, but you’ve never seen the way people make space for “men” in public or the way they stare at “women”.

street-harassment-graph[Image description: a crudely-drawn graph of my experience with street harassment depending on my gender presentation. I had lots of violence as a femme “girl”, none as a “man”, and expect lots more as a “man in a dress”]

My experiences with street harassment as a “woman” were extremely common: constant aggressive “compliments” and invasions of space, occasional groping by strangers or being chased by lads for bantz, a couple of times being stalked and attacked. Once a man helped me carry some groceries for a block and did the “Don’t I get a hug?” line, and when I politely said no he grabbed me and held me against him while he pushed his face against mine. I yelled and beat him off me, and he followed me into my apartment building. That was a single experience which punctuates my long, dull history of street harassment from strangers; and that’s not saying anything of sexual and gendered violence I’ve gotten from people I know.

After nearly a decade of “womanhood” I changed my gender expression from hegemonically feminine to an attempt at hegemonically masculine, which took some six months to perfect. I kept it that way for six more months. That year of performing white masculinity gave me reprieve from the public gaze like a spell of invisibility, only broken when I dared to hold hands with a partner who was also read as a man. But hegemonic white masculinity—bland suits, blending in—felt wrong. It was an uncomfortable gender expression for me to perform and I’ve since moved to gentle-femme boy. The street harassment has resumed, a grotesque reflection of my once-again overt femininity. Will it be enough to dampen my femme expression, especially as my body continues to “masculinize”?

When will our comfort in public stop being conditional?

Queer people gathering in public is still a brave political act: the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting

[Image description: fairly ugly, high contrast photo of wildflowers at nighttime]

CN: death, violence, blood

The mass murder at Pulse nightclub in Orlando is not “tragic” or apolitical, it was state-enabled domestic terrorism targeting Latinx queers.

Last night at Pulse was a Latin night with a trans headlining act. 50 people who went are dead.

This was not an isolated incident; he was not a “lone wolf” with “mental health problems”. The whole country has been advocating violence, harassment, and dehumanization of queer people for decades. Queer and trans people are literally excluded from public life (bathrooms, blood donations, healthcare, ID documents); the state has made us into sub-citizens. An entire generation was killed by AIDS, trans women of color are murdered in the streets, and queer youth are killing themselves because the relentless bullying and social/familial ostracization  is unbearable. We’re not afforded life.

Islamophobia and xenophobic imperialism is a weak response. Speculation about the shooter’s family’s immigration status is disgusting and irrelevant. That he was investigated by the FBI is not relevant—the FBI surveils practically everyone who’s brown and muslim in the US. What’s relevant is that he was able to get guns and kill 50+ people.

The line right now is that the shooter was “radicalized” and had “ties to ISIS”, but there is no evidence of either. The mayor has declared a state of emergency in the city of Orlando which will probably allow the state and police to act with impunity in their surveillance and violence toward US muslims.

UPDATE: The shooter (name not included because fuck granting him notoriety) worked at G4S: a private security company which bullies, detains, deports, and dehumanizes black and brown people, especially queer POC. He idolized the NYPD: a department which harasses and arrests trans women of color for “walking while trans”. His ex-wife has stated that he beat her. His “culture of violence” has nothing to do with his religion (which his father said not important to him) and everything to do with our racist, homophobic society. This shooter’s culture of violence is our culture of violence.

This is not apolitical. We don’t need prayers. It’s easy to say “how tragic” and “the first responders are heroes” but that’s not enough. We need gun control, and anti-racism and anti-queerphobia in our laws and society (but not hate-crime legislation which funnels marginalized people into the for-profit prison system). We need equal rights and access to public space. We need affirmative action. We need swift denouncement of violence and stigma against queer people and POC and immigrants and muslims.

Love never won. Transphobes are bombing bathrooms and queer people are murdered at nightclubs.

Hate has won.


If you’re in the Orlando area, PLEASE DONATE BLOOD:

Orlando West Michigan Donor Center, 345 W Michigan Street, Ste. 106, Orlando, FL 32806

Orlando Main Donor Center, 8669 Commodity Circle, Orlando, FL 32819

Oviedo Donor Center, 1954 W. State Road 426, Oviedo, FL 32765

Asbury United Methodist Church – Bloodmobile 220, West Horatio Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church – Bloodmobile, 4851 S. Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32819

Metro Church – Bloodmobile, 1491 East State Road 434, Winter Springs, FL 32708

 

Note: there are conflicting reports about whether the FDA ban for “men who have sex with men” to donate blood has been lifted. It should go without saying that this ban is homophobic, discriminatory against HIV-pos bodies, and ofc it’s coercively assigned to trans women.

“Bisexual Banter” Episode 3: Trans/Bi

[Image description: crinkled holographic paper, reflecting light in many colors]

This project was lots of fun to film and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out.

“Cis” is a very specific thing, and “trans” is all the rest of it. Gender is infinite.

Here we talk about the fragility of straightness and how gender is flimsy and doesn’t hold up very well to interrogation:


Episode 1: Non-Monogamy

Episode 2: Identity

 

Review of Travis Alabanza’s “Stories Of A Queer Brown Muddy Kid” for Beyond The Binary

[Image description: Travis, a black trans femme, wearing black lipstick, a black headscarf, black shirt and chunky gold chain, sits in a bookshop facing camera with a stoic expression. Photo by Alexander Lijka]

Beyond The Binary asked me to review “Stories Of A Queer Brown Muddy Kid” by Travis Alabanza. It was their final performance of the intense, funny, moving autobiography of queer black life in London, and I’d already seen it twice before. The piece is all about, and for, queer black femmes, so I was reluctant to take on the task as a white boy(ish), but I gave it my best.

Acutely aware of racialized violence in the queer scene, Travis scornfully highlighted colonialism in sexual relationships, their role as “his bucket to empty his microaggressions” and a “brown fetish of the week”. “I’m not your black boy top”, they insisted, but then, “Why do I still need him?” Their vulnerability about intimacy, about simultaneously recognizing abuse but longing for your abuser(s), was bold and affecting.

tl;dr I absolutely loved it, Travis is amazing, give them all your money.

“Gendered Antagonisms” in the Occupied Times

[Image description: pointilated mannequin legs resting on a grate, in black and white]

Content note: mentions of transphobia, transmisogyny, and gendered violence

I’m very happy that my latest angry trans rant has been published (online and In Print) by the Occupied Times. The OT is a collectively run broadsheet with a solid history of publishing critical, anti-capitalist writing, and while they always produce great material, I’m glad to see a little more about gender/queer stuff on their pages, even if it meant contributing myself:

Fuck respectability politics. Trans people don’t need to conform to cisnormative standards of beauty to be worthy, to be sexy, to be human. This only serves to create a hierarchy of “acceptable” gender expressions and modes of transness – ones which fit the gender binary.

Most of the issue focuses on race, colonialism, and their intersections with capitalism and identity today—and it’s great. The OT is free at several radical bookshops etc around London, but they also need donations so get to it.

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[Image description: my hand, white with dark painted nails, lovingly caressing my article in the print issue of the OT]

“Bisexual Banter” Episode 2: Identity

[Image description: Black television (turned off) embedded into a wall which is painted purple on the top and red on the bottom, divided by a horizontal white line]

Catch me on youtube talking about bisexuality and identity labels:

I still identify as “bisexual”; it’s a good word sometimes. It’s more helpful than “queer”. Often “queer” is deliberately unhelpful, which is part of why I like it.

It’s taken a lot of self-reflection and active listening, but I’ve finally learned to accept straight and gay people for who they are.

Episode 1: Non-Monogamy

Episode 3: Trans/Bi