The Junk Drawer -- Vol. II
Odds and ends and things.
Welcome back to The Junk Drawer!
This is a regular feature of the blog in which I toss up a smorgasbord of thoughts and musings for your consideration, as well as personal news and updates from my little corner of the world.
Let’s open up the drawer…
The 36th Revolution
I recently turned 36. You may have read my essay about it. I’m quite grateful to have made it this far in life and with my happiness and authenticity in tact, a marker that would be inconceivable to the vast majority of closeted trans people in the not-so-distant past. I am a lucky woman, and I know that.
Although I did a birthday fundraiser for Running Start (thank you to all who donated), many of you emailed to ask if you could buy me a birthday drink, which is incredibly sweet. I didn’t respond to any of those emails because I was quite busy over the past few weeks, and it felt a bit greedy to accept that kindness, I guess?
So, here’s my honest answer: this blog pays my bills. It ain’t a tremendous amount of money, but I consider myself lucky to be able to write for a living and pay my rent in doing so. If you were one of the lovely folks who sent an email asking if you could buy me a birthday drink, here’s my respectful request: consider a paid subscription. Help me to keep writing and do advocacy work with the rest of my time. I’d so appreciate it.
Reflecting on “Ordinary People”…
I recently rewatched Robert Redford’s 1980 directorial debut. I remained astonished at the complexity of Mary Tyler Moore’s performance. The french toast scene. The family photographs scene. The hug scene. Oh my god, the hug scene. She should have won the Oscar on that moment alone. The film is something like watching springs be wrapped around oneself and pulled tighter and tighter and finally let go in a sequence of flat-out phenomenal bits of acting. I wasn’t alive when the film was released, but I’ve been reading about how the public’s reception to her performance was considerable discomfort. It was, apparently, shocking to people that Mary Tyler Moore would play a cold mother — or, as reasonable adults might say, a human being feeling human being things.
Also: I love Donald Sutherland so much. He has a strikingly comforting presence in the film. Whenever his character is onscreen, there’s a palpable sense of safety. I don’t know how to adequately explain it, but his character just makes me feel better.
A bird in the cam is worth two minutes in your feed
I came across this video from a Spanish bird enthusiast who uses an app called Nest Box Live to film bird nests. In the following video, over two minutes, a mother bird builds her nest, lays her eggs, hatches them, and then feeds her babies over the course of seven weeks until they’re strong enough to fly out on their own.
It is, by far, one of the most interesting videos I’ve ever seen.
Jon Stewart and John Oliver go all-in on trans rights
It’s been a pretty brutal year on the trans rights front. At every level of government, Republican politicians have taken square aim at the rights of trans and nonbinary people. Some cultural public figures—like J.K. Rowling and Dave Chappelle and Bill Maher—have openly expressed viciously transphobic views. And all the while, it honestly feels as though much of the mainstream media landscape is largely disinterested in educating the public about trans issues in the face of such hatred.
This has all combined into a terrifying era for our community, one in which it feels as though so much hangs on the precipice of the next few election cycles.
I’ll be honest: until recently, I have wondered if Jon Stewart would eventually emerge as something in the same vein. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong in that concern.
Stewart did an entire episode around the topic of trans rights, took responsibility for some of this own transphobic humor earlier in his career, and did the work of learning and listening to trans people and their families, particularly the parents of trans children.
Y’all really do need to watch the entire episode, but take special notice of his interview with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and her complete lack of preparation to discuss the health care of trans children, which she has so viciously sought to dismantle.
Last week, not to be outdone by his friend and colleague, John Oliver dedicated his own episode to discussing the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of anti-trans Republican legislators and spent 26 minutes educating the public in a manner I have scarcely seen this year from anyone in mainstream media. Click below to watch.
I can’t adequately explain how much of a breath of fresh air these two segments have been to the trans and nonbinary community. We have been terrified of what comes next for us in this country. There are families who have contacted me and asked if they should consider moving to a country with more affirming policies for trans and nonbinary people, and I honestly didn’t know what to tell them.
I love this country so much. In spite of this horror, I believe in the promise of this country. I really do. I believe that America can be a place where everyone is permitted to live in their full authenticity, free of violence and discrimination and shame in response to that authenticity.
I’m glad Stewart and Oliver are fighting for that promise. I’m grateful for them.
Thoughts on the Twitter news…
I’ll have more to say about this soon, but I do want to make something perfectly clear to all: I am not leaving Twitter. Hell no.
Folks have good reasons to leave, and those reasons are valid. I respect those who want to leave.
And folks have good reasons to stay, too.
Fighting disinformation and holding the line against bad faith in the public square is worth the fight. I’m absolutely staying.
Let’s respect and honor each others’ choices.
To those who may leave or are considering it and wanna stay in touch with me, here are some ways:
This blog, of course. You can subscribe for free here. All you need is an email.
If you’re getting speakers lined up for next semester or next quarter, I’m always available for speaking engagements to talk about LGBTQ issues, social advocacy, veteran’s issues, and a wide variety of other topics. Looking for someone to speak at your conference, college, or company? Click here. At that link, you’ll also find a few examples of my past speaking events.
I’m also available for consulting on general communications and DEI policies. Does your organization need some comms and messaging help? Are you looking for someone to advise on LGBTQ inclusivity? I’ve advised colleges, businesses, non-profits, and even a major studio film. I make it easy to focus on the rest of the work you’re doing. Shoot me an email: email@example.com
Books I’m reading lately…
“And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle” by Jon Meacham — One of the most well-known living presidential historians has finally released his Lincoln biography. It’s exquisite and searingly honest. Readers will notice the not-so-subtle warnings from Meacham about the long history of white supremacy in our country and how it still threatens to undo the progress we’ve had since.
“Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion” by Gabrielle Blair — Based on the author’s legendary and prescient Twitter thread in 2018, Blair explores the responsibility of cis men in the family planning discussion. She does so with startling clarity and a wealth of empathy for all involved. A must read.
“Mad Honey” by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan — These two are among my favorite writers, and I was delighted when I found out they were collaborating on a novel together. The work is brilliant. It centers the evolution of a family as it breaks a few bones and attempts to reset them, and it does a fantastic job of getting at the pain of shattering cycles.
Where I’m gonna be in the near future…
Oct. 29: 2022 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner (Washington, D.C.)
Nov. 9: District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights Awards Gala: 35 Years of Moving Towards Equality (Washington, D.C.)
Nov. 11: HBCU Women’s Leader Summit, jointly hosted by Xceleader and Running Start (Washington, D.C.)
Nov. 17: 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) satellite event at American University. Participating in the event in partnership with the climate change organization We Don’t Have Time. (Washington, D.C.)
Nov. 17 (evening): Opening Night for “& Juliet”, the new Broadway musical that explores Juliet taking a different path. Book by David West Read. Music by Max Martin. (NYC) — This musical will feature a prominent nonbinary character, and I’m so proud of my dear friend Eva Price for producing it. [tickets here]
Dec. 3: Victory Institute’s 38th International LGBTQ Leaders Conference — speaking. Details to come. (Washington, D.C.)
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