Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gender 101 Episode #2 Redux: Thinking About Gender

We're back with a further discussion with Benji, our friendly Gender Queer Activist, about HOW you can think about gender. In under two minutes, Benji really changed my own mental construct of how I think about Gender, and I'm excited to share this with all of you:

Thanks, Benji.

That really blows my mind - in the best way! I love learning about this stuff.


* * *

Here's a link to the original post.

Comments from that original post to start the conversation:

fairyhedgehog said...
This is great. It makes space for all the different possible variations of gender and sexuality, which is better for everyone.
April 6, 2011 at 3:56 AM

ivanova said...
Very cool. A good point. Good non-math use of the word "vertices" too!
April 6, 2011 at 10:01 AM

The Pen and Ink Blog said...
This is a lot truer way of looking at gender, Thank you Benji
April 9, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ellen Makes Her Point About Photoshopping Models To Unrealistic "Perfection"

This was really funny...

It's inspiring to see how humor can make a point so powerfully.

Thanks, Ellen! (And thanks as well to the model, Tanya Marie Keller.)

PS - I found this via the Upworthy Newsletter

Friday, April 25, 2014

DAY OF SILENCE: What are You Doing To End The Silence About LGBT Bullying and Harassment?

Today, Friday April 25, 2014, is the National Day of Silence.

The idea is that ACTIVE silence can speak loudly to open conversations about bias and anti-LGBTQ words, actions and systems. And when we break the silence, we can build bridges with our allies to get us all to a better world.

GLSEN has added the Selfies For Silence campaign this year (#DayOfSilence on twitter) and here's my entry!


How are YOU going to break the silence?

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you,)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gender 101 is back (Redux and Finale!): Episode #1: Don't Box Me In

One of the projects I'm proudest of here at this blog is my video series called Gender 101. It's an exploration of Gender Queer identity through a series of short documentary-style interviews. I've shared 35 videos in the series so far, but there are new ones still to come.

My conversations with Benji (also known as Lucy) and their Gender Queer friends made me really think, re-consider my own gender biases, and stand up proudly as an ally to the gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming community.

Since I love these discussions so much, and to "ramp us up" to the series' finale, I'll be running the Gender 101 series videos here on Wednesdays, starting today.

The Facebook and Twitter comments from the original postings are a bit lost in the ether, but I'll share the blog comments from the first posting and we can all pick up the conversation there.

Thanks for going on this journey with me, through Gender 101!

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you,)

Gender 101 episode #1: Don't Box Me In


You're born either a boy or a girl, right?

It can seem so cut and dry to many of us... But if we look closer, at others (and sometimes even at ourselves), gender can be much more complicated. Much more interesting. Much more.

But Gender is something that is rarely spoken of in our culture.

With the help of a new friend, we're going to change that, one short webisode (or if you prefer, vlog) at a time.

So please, meet Lucy. I mean, meet Benji. I mean both. And hang out with us while we talk - and you can learn right along with me.


GENDER 101: Don't Box Me In


Anonymous said...
I have to say that this person is giving me a better education on gender than I could have ever hoped for. I say check the additional box that is titled Brilliant/Thought Provoking/Brave/A Total Whole Person/
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
March 30, 2011 at 3:16 PM

maddox said...
Thank you for posting this. I often find that generally others, even some gay people, do not fully understand the implications of being gender-variant. It's important for others to question the status quo and question themselves in this aspect, so we can understand each other better.
April 2, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Kenneth said...
Great series so far (I've watched in reverse order). Something I really wanted to stress with this video that I think is maybe lacking a little, is the fact that biological sex and gender identity and expression are not the same thing. Benji (from what I can tell) is biologically female, but expresses gender in a different way by bringing in components of both masculinity and femininity. Sex isn't a feeling, it's a mostly static identity, but gender is fluid, and as Benji describes in the video, can change depending on the person and the situation.
I hope you don't mind, but I would love to share this video with my gender studies students, so they can hear from someone outside the gender dichotomy about gender expression.
February 6, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...
Hi Kenneth -
absolutely share the videos with your students! (Where - and to what age students - do you teach gender studies?
February 6, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stunning Vision: "Imagine A World Without Hate"

This video by the Anti-Defamation League was powerful:

What a great launching point for a discussion in your GSA and/or with your friends.

What would our world look like today if these people had had the chance to live their lives more fully?

What would they have supported? What would they have done?

Who/what would you include if you were going to add more people-taken-from-history-too-soon headlines? (There are more verses to that song...)

Great stuff!

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you),

Friday, April 18, 2014

Goblinheart - A Fairy Tale Picture Book About Not Fitting In (And Also A Very Supportive Transgender Allegory)

Goblinheart by Brett Axel, illustrated by Terra Bidlespacher

This book is the story of Julep, who has wings like the fairies do rather than claws, but who feels like a goblin on the inside and through some effort gains acceptance from the tribe as a goblin. 

Tellingly, the book contains no gender pronouns. As the author writes, "Its intention is to support gender equality in children." 

I really liked this picture book, and wish it had been read to me when I was a little kid.

Add your review of "Goblinheart" in comments!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Article In Writer's Digest "Writing For Kids & Teens" May/June 2014 Magazine!

I'm delighted that my article, "Your Web Presence: 3 Keys to Connecting with Young Readers Online" is out and available now!
Here's the cover of the issue: "Writer's Digest Writing For Kids & Teens" May/June 2014

The first two pages of my article! (which is on pages 32-35)
It's a four page article, offering navigational advice for steering an online path to reach your readers. It's packed with tips and examples of authors who are doing amazing things in their online spaces that we can learn from, including: Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kiera Cass, Jeff Kinney, Ellen Hopkins, Mitali Perkins, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Greg Pincus, Scott Westerfeld, Libba Bray, Cheryl Rainfield, Richelle Mead, Wendelin Van Draanen, John Green and Sarah Dessen!

I'm grateful to Writer's Digest editor Jessica Strawser for both the opportunity and the amazing job she did helping me shape the article. It was very much the author-editor experience as Andrea Davis Pinkney so aptly put it, "my job as an editor is to hold the flashlight while you do the digging."

And we got to the gold!

If it interests you, I hope you check out the article.

And thanks for reading this post about it!

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in each one of you,)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ursula (The Disney Villain From "The Little Mermaid") Re-Sized... and Re-Cast as a Hero?

I thought this performance by Melissa May, "Dear Ursula," was brilliant. (Note that it includes some profanity.)

Here's Ursula's before and after:

I want to be an ally to the fat community, and helping spread the word about this - and the injustice of it - is one way to do that. Let your voice be heard, too.

Find out more about Melissa May at her website here.


Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm moderating the "Drawing The Imagination" Picture Book Panel at the 2014 LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 12!

I'm really honored to once again be moderating a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books!

It's called "Drawing the Imagination" and my panelists are rock star author/illustrators:

whose new picture book is "Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons"

Salina Yoon (who is sure to have a fun angle on the discussion)

whose new picture book is "Found"

whose new picture book is "Following Papa's Song"


Joe Cepeda,

whose newest picture book is "Two Bunny Buddies" (written by Kathryn O. Galbraith)

Of course, I'll be asking Jon, Salina, Gianna and Joe all kinds of questions, about their latest works and some of their previous titles, about character and story development, series work, and so much more!

(I'm already having a blast reading stacks of their books from the library!)

I hope you can join us for what's going to be a brilliant discussion and exploration of "Drawing the Imagination!"

Saturday April 12
1:30 pm
Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL 101)
USC Campus

Tickets are free and available here.

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you),

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Trans-fer Student - A Transgender Girl At An All Girls School, and The Witch Hunt To Find Her Out

The Trans-fer Student by Elise Himes

Rachael, a young transgender girl, gets the chance to attend a privileged girls' school. Her dream becomes a nightmare when rumor spreads that one of the new students happens to be trans. Events begin to mirror the play the school will perform, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, as students do their own modern day "witch" hunt.

This book was published by the author, who themselves is transgender. Add your review of "The Trans-fer Student" in comments!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Blogging Schedule!

Hi wonderful readers,

To carve out more time for my writing and some new opportunities coming my way, starting this upcoming Monday April 14, 2014, I'm going to transition from blogging seven posts a week to five.

I like this painting, "I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold" by Charles Demuth.

I'll continue to blog here at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read? on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, featuring the latest lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and questioning books for kids and teens, LGBTQ history and culture and my social commentaries that will make you want to join me and change our world for the better,

and I'll continue my blogging for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators at SCBWI: The Blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, featuring the latest news, trends, award-winners, marketing innovations, interviews and opportunities in Children's and Teen publishing.

I'm grateful for your participation as readers, commenters, blog-topic suggesters, tweeters and re-tweeters, facebook followers, activists, UPstanders, and fellow members of my online and real world community!

Thanks, and

Namaste (which means: the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you...)


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Unspoken Compromise - A Transgender Memoir

An Unspoken Compromise by Rizi Xavier Timane, Ph.D, ASW.

Rizi Xavier Timane, PhD, ASW, is a Nigerian-born transgender minister and certified grief recovery specialist residing in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in an extremely religious Christian home and was subjected to multiple exorcisms and other reparative attempts by his family and the church to “pray the gay away.” An Unspoken Compromise takes you through his journey of self-discovery and spiritual exploration including:

· Coming out as a trans boy at eight years old
· Identifying as a lesbian in homophobic Africa
· Transitioning while facing societal and family rejection
· The religious persecution and bullying he has suffered all along

Rizi’s message to the LGBT community is twofold. First, be your authentic self—it’s the only way to inner peace and happiness. Second, if you are in search of a relationship with God, a spiritual path to unconditional love and acceptance does exist for you free from condemnation and negative judgment.

This book was published by the author. Add your review of "An Unspoken Compromise" in comments!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Honey Maid defines Wholesome in this Homophobia Smackdown

On March 10, 2014, Honey Maid launched a commercial as part of a campaign about "Wholesome" that featured a two dad family.

It's pretty remarkable.  Check out their amazing ad here.

The company got a lot of feedback. Here's what they did next:

My thanks to Suzanne and Greg for sharing this with me, so I can share it with all of you!


Friday, April 4, 2014

College Football player Mitch Eby Comes Out as Gay - and what he said to his Team

This story at outsports is pretty great - especially how it includes Mitch's coming out speech that he shared with his teammates:

"I came up here today to talk to you guys about something that I've been dealing with for quite a while. It's something personal that I've always thought I could just bury away, but I can't. We live life so worried about how other people view us that we forget about ourselves. I can no longer go on living in fear, repressing myself because of how society may view me. I can no longer lie to my friends, family and teammates. It's time I lived life for myself for a change.

"With that being said, I am ready to share with you all that I am gay.

"It has taken me years to accept myself for who I truly am, so it's irrational to expect everybody to unconditionally accept me right away. However, the one thing that I hope that I can count on from each of you, my teammates, is your respect. Your respect as a friend, your respect as a teammate, and your respect as a man.

"Being gay may be something that defines me, but it does not limit me. It is such a small part of who I am. I am the same person you all know, no different than before. I'm still the kid that is obsessed with pretty much anything having to do with sports, I'm still the kid that some of you love to call stupid nicknames like ‘mom' and ‘hot dog,' and I'm still someone who will continue to go out there every day and push myself and push my teammates to be the best football team around. I am your teammate, I am your classmate and I am your brother. And I know that my brothers will continue to stand by my side, no matter what."

When he had finished speaking, the team erupted in applause. Eby smiled, taken aback by the overwhelming response. As the clapping ceased, Eby broke the silence with the most profound words he would share all night:

"So how about some pizza?"

Go read the whole article. It really got me... I only wish that Mitch didn't have to wait to be a junior in college to feel safe about being his authentic self. His being authentic now, and honored and respected for that authenticity, is good, but we can do better than that.

How do we work on the things that kept him from coming out his first two years of college? In his high school? In his junior high?

How about we aim for a world where everyone can be authentic right away? A world with no closets at all.

That's my vision.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boy In Box - A Middle Grade Novel with Surprise LGBTQ Content

Boy In Box by Christopher Michael

After a double murder shakes a suburban town, a boy's life becomes the center of a chain-reaction of events that affects everyone around him.

Luther McRae, an introverted family product of a busy mother, an overworked father and an autistic sister keeps the secrets of his pre-teen angst written down on scraps of paper and locked away in a box. That is, until a new girl arrives in town like a whirlwind to break down his walls and invade his guarded, emotional turf.

This book was nominated for a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. Add your review of "Boy in Box" in comments!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Girls I've Run Away With - A Teen Lesbian Skater-Girl Novel

Girls I've Run Away With by Rhiannon Argo

From messy families, skater-girls, first loves, religious zealots, and stolen baby blue Cadillac’s, Girls I’ve Run Away With, is the story of a baby-dyke who must cling hard and fierce to her heart and truth even when the road twists and turns before her in every uncertain direction.

Add your review of this 2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist book in comments!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Genie Wishes - A Middle Grade Book Where A Secondary Character Has Two Dads

Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl

From the first day of fifth grade, Genie knows there will be good, bad, and in-between. The good? She's in homeroom with her best friend, Sarah. The bad? Sarah's friend from camp, Blair, is a new student at their school, and is itching to take Genie's place as Sarah's BFF. The in-between? Genie is excited to be elected to write her class's blog, where she's tasked with tracking the wishes and dreams of her class. But expressing her opinion in public can be scary--especially when her opinion might make the rest of her class upset.

One of the girls in Genie's grade is Anna Miles, and Anna has two dads. It's not really a plot point, but it's there. Genie's family is her dad and grandma.

As my kid put it, "It's a story of friendships changing. I loved it." Add your review of "Genie Wishes" in comments!