Tobi Hill-Meyer
I'm thinking about having a translesbian/lesbian couple in a story I'm writing. Any thoughts or pointers?
Anonymous

Ah, that’s an entirely different set of information.  Let me first say I’m available and looking for work as a media consultant (and as an organizational consultant, a campus speaker, a trainer, a writer, a filmmaker, a model - let’s just say I’m looking for work). I’d be happy to work with you and your story one on one and can work out some reasonable rates. I have a very sharp eye for wider implications or how a specific part of a story might be received by the trans community and can help your work feel real, but more importantly feel meaningful and resonate with people who don’t get to see themselves represented in media very often.

Drop me a line if you’re interested, but for now let me give you a couple freebies and cover some really basic parts.

1 - Linguistics: Use ‘trans’ as an adjective, not a prefix. That means putting a space between it and a word rather than creating a new compound word. You don’t say queerwoman, tallman, blueshirt. When you write ‘translesbian’ it sounds like you’re creating an entirely new (and confusingly unclear) sexual orientation. When you say ‘trans lesbian,’ it sounds like a lesbian who happens to be trans.

2 - Linguistics: You don’t always have to specify ‘trans’ when referring to someone, but if you do you should mirror referring to others as cis.  When you specify a “trans lesbian/lesbian couple” you’re only marking the status of one of them and letting the other remain in the norm. That sets up a power differential between them and what is considered normal. Instead you could say “trans lesbian / cis lesbian couple” or “trans/cis lesbian couple” or “lesbian couple where one of the two women are trans.” At other times when trans/cis status isn’t important, you could just call them a lesbian couple.

For example, “Going to the local dyke bar was supposed to be fun, supposed to be a place to find community and support. But when they went they often wondered if they were going to be singled out from all the other lesbian couples. Even if no one would tell them they didn’t belong there, they knew to expect a cold reception. The one exception being the roller derby girls, who always treated them like family. Like it should be.”

3 - Representation: Don’t try and figure out what the perfect trans/cis lesbian couple should look like and write that. Instead figure out what your characters look like. Learn enough to know what will be realistic and not to sound like you have no idea what you’re writing about, and double check things at the end for any problematic representation. But don’t trap yourself into thinking there’s only one way that they should be represented or that you need to figure out what’s the one way they should have sex.

Maybe you’ve got a cis character who’s dated trans women before and is has done activism around trans issues.Maybe you’re trans character has been burned by cis partners before and started to date only other trans people but is making an exception because this cis woman is amazing. When it comes to sex, maybe the trans woman is a stone butch and doesn’t want to be touched but is able to get off by bringing her partner to orgasm again and again and will use a strap on for that. Or maybe she’s tired of messages about what kind of sex she should or shouldn’t have and is pushing herself to do all the things she’d normally be afraid of doing?  Maybe the cis character has her own body shame and doesn’t want to be naked in front of her partner? Maybe she’s intensely curious about sex with a trans partner and doesn’t know what to expect?

4 - Representation: Real people have issues. Even if you created the perfect representation of a trans/cis lesbian couple, it might come off as plastic. Let them speak to their anxieties. What are their fears? Will they end up triggering each other? How do they deal with that? Don’t be afraid to have your characters engage in problem behavior, as long as the overall narrative makes clear that behavior is problematic. You don’t have to model perfect behavior, sometimes modeling how to handle it when you screw up is even more valuable. Real life is messy. Will someone’s boundaries be crossed? Will the cis character accidentally say something hurtful? How do they resolve stuff like that? Maybe they take a break, talk about it, comfort each other, then go back to having sex. Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s a small deal. Maybe it’s easily resolved, maybe it takes the whole story for it to come to resolution. Really engage with these options as you are deciding what kind of story you want to tell.

Good luck!

How do a translesbian & lesbian have sex together? Is it alright for the translesbian to use her penis?
Anonymous

The short answer is: Any way they want. There’s no special rules for it. A trans woman might not use the word “penis,” might not want to have it touched in ways that feel male, then again she might not care about that. It’s always best to ask, to check in about how things work for each individual partner.

Whether for a trans person or a cis person, I find it very useful to have a language check in: what words do you like? Is cunt hot or upsetting? Is vagina direct or too clinical? Do you say clit, phallus, cock, girlcock, strapless, hen, “that”, etc?

And to have a body check in: Is there anywhere on your body that certain kinds of touch might be triggering? What about places or kinds of touch that are especially hot?

For more information, I co-wrote the sexuality chapter in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, which is full of this kind of information.  Or I also wrote a part of Girl Sex 101 which I highly recommend, but unfortunately won’t be ready for release until February 2015.

Cis Researchers Get Rich While Their Trans Subjects Starve

odofemi:

Some group of researchers just sent me mail on here to invite me to participate in their study about trans peoples’ Marginalization, Mental Health, and Empowerment — offering a “1 in 25 chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.”

I sent them quite the response.

Let me put this out there: I have been working in social services, including working on multiple provincial and national research projects, for six years, and I can tell you that this project is pure exploitation.  Trans people are massively overstudied, and always for things that are not actually useful to trans people obtaining access to healthcare, employment opportunities, stable housing, or decarceration (which I would argue are the four most pressing issues facing marginalized trans people). Instead, these studies pad the CVs of the mostly cis people doing the research, make one round of people oo-ing and ah-ing at the results, and then are relegated to cyber dust.

So, if these people are going to exploit our mental and emotional labour by making us take their studies, the very least they can do is offer decent compensation. Not a “chance” to “win” compensation. That’s just exploitation.

Do not do studies for a chance to win something, because the only people who actually win are the cis researchers.

And cis researchers: why don’t you try researching something that will actually have an impact in organizations gaining access to funds for crucial work around access to healthcare, HIV-related health care for trans people, decriminalization of sex work, decarceration of trans people in prisons, access to trans-positive housing, and the creation of employment opportunities? You know, things that will actually make a difference in our lives.

doingitonline:

Here’s a short video I tossed together about trying to makeout in a heavily fragranced bathroom with MCS. Enjoy!

Tobi and Bryn meet up in a bathroom to makeout but suddenly need to compensate for the overwhelming fragrance at health-threatening levels.

See our other short free videos at http://queerporntube.com/user_videos.php?user=Handbasket%20Productions

A lot of folks have been asking about MCS stuff, so I decided to post this short video of making out while wearing my mask.

Hi. Can you suggest resources for body issues and health issues for trans womyn? I was pretty happy with my body a few years ago, but I have had nasty health issues, and I haven't been able to see my old endo or my old electrologist because of accessibility problems, although I have found a new obgyn and resumed hormones, and I am deeply unhappy with my body right now. I was butch-of-center, but I am just too ashamed of my body for any butch or femme or anything but cover as much as possible as
Anonymous

pt 2. baggily as possible. I get torn up about facial hair, of course, but also body hair. I get torn up about all the weight I’ve gained. I am also dealing with constant pain, which doesn’t help.

I’m guessing you mean resources for dealing with body shame since it sounds like you’re moving forward with medical/transition health stuff. I’d be hard pressed to come up with anything trans or trans women specific - maybe some blog posts somewhere but those get lost and forgotten so quickly. Do any of my followers know of anything?

The main suggestion I’d have is to go for resources that aren’t trans specific. It’s true they may say stuff that doesn’t apply to you or even triggers pangs of shame now and then, but they will often still be quite useful.

Getting specific I’ve heard great things about Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann, I also really like Big Big Love by Hanne Blank. For disiability issues, Eli Clare has written a  bunch of great things. For general body acceptance there’s apparently a lot of activity going on write now if you try googling “Body Acceptance Movement.”

And while a bit outdated, there’s a ton of resources from the second/third wave that give some good insight in them, for example the Killing Us Softly series. For a more modern take on the relationship between media representation that leads to body shame there’s Miss Representation. While those last two speak more to highlighting the causes of body shame rather than how to heal from it, I’ve found that kind of awareness to be a powerful and empowering part of how I’ve dealt with my own body shame over the years.

Also if she was transphobic why would she agree to direct the movie that you and chelsea were both going to be in not to mention that for this project of yours she also made a video with you to help you get funding. It is on your offbeatr funding page. To be honest, you don't make sense most of the time.
Anonymous

tobitastic:

chelseapoe:

thelma-sleaze:

Maybe instead of hounding me you should ask Lily why she decided to do the project.I am not a mind reader, obviously she was not doing it for the same reasons as me.

And also on the offbeatr page is an update where I explain what happened.

You can work for someone and still be transphobic, or racist, or sexist, right? If you saw what happened, that she is not an ally, is mean spirited and lacks empathy… you would see that there is cognative cissonance going on.

I am also unable to take down the video, or edit it in any way because two people purchased it. Offbeatr’s rules.  I have another option for fans to buy photos instead. I even ask them to buy the photos instead of the video.

"I don’t make sense most of the time."

Well then stop following or watching what I do.

If I bother you that much leave me the fuck alone.

when you are getting paid a good amount politics go out the window. Like I have no doubt Lily Cade would shoot with a trans woman for the right amount. Porn is a business like basically everyone has their price where they say fuck my politics.

It also makes me wonder what these people’s idea of someone who “is transphobic” is.  Do they really believe that someone who is truly transphobic would never smile at a trans person? Never offer help to a trans person? Never hire a trans person? Never have date or have sex with a trans person? Does a real transphobe have such strong feelings of hate that they can’t hide and are uncontrollably put into a rage and attack trans people on sight? 

There are plenty of sexist men who still date and fuck women. There are plenty of racist people who put on a polite front when in the public eye. Even Rick Santorum has a gay friend who he hired as his chief of staff. Is the idea of a person who behaves transphobically yet has coworkers who are trans so perplexing?

Also if she was transphobic why would she agree to direct the movie that you and chelsea were both going to be in not to mention that for this project of yours she also made a video with you to help you get funding. It is on your offbeatr funding page. To be honest, you don't make sense most of the time.
Anonymous

chelseapoe:

thelma-sleaze:

Maybe instead of hounding me you should ask Lily why she decided to do the project.I am not a mind reader, obviously she was not doing it for the same reasons as me.

And also on the offbeatr page is an update where I explain what happened.

You can work for someone and still be transphobic, or racist, or sexist, right? If you saw what happened, that she is not an ally, is mean spirited and lacks empathy… you would see that there is cognative cissonance going on.

I am also unable to take down the video, or edit it in any way because two people purchased it. Offbeatr’s rules.  I have another option for fans to buy photos instead. I even ask them to buy the photos instead of the video.

"I don’t make sense most of the time."

Well then stop following or watching what I do.

If I bother you that much leave me the fuck alone.

when you are getting paid a good amount politics go out the window. Like I have no doubt Lily Cade would shoot with a trans woman for the right amount. Porn is a business like basically everyone has their price where they say fuck my politics.

When people try to frame the discussion as whether someone is or is not transphobic, accepting that framing is a losing proposition to begin with. Transphobia is not a kind of person, it is a system of oppression can be used to describe behavior that denigrates trans people.  This is important for two reasons.

First, people can be complex. It’s possible to march in solidarity with a group and then use a derogatory slur against one member of that group who you mad at. It’s possible to support someone who you think is cool, but still hold onto bigoted beliefs about the group they belong to. Most folks who do transphobic things are also nice to some trans people some times.  Most allies - hell even most trans people - will say or do something transphobic at some point.

Second, when the debate is about whether a person is or is not transphobic, it suddenly becomes all about them, all about who they are as a person, whether they are nice or not, whether they believe they are transphobic, etc. It frames them as irredeemable and encourages defensiveness.  If you instead focus on the impact of their behavior (with intent or personal feelings as irrelevant) it is easier to encourage empathy, responsibility, and what can be done to make amends. 

I’m sure Lily has done all kinds of nice things for people, some of whom are trans, and I can’t assume what her motivation is. But she’s also said some very hurtful and transphobic things that she still hasn’t apologized for or even shown an understanding of what about those statements were transphobic. Neither thing erases the other. One doesn’t absolve her from all guilt, neither does the other condemn her as pure evil.

Anti Sex Work Logic is Painfully Inhumane

The more commonplace jail and criminalization is, the easier it is to forget how inherently violent it is. To have men with guns grab you and threaten you with violence unless you go with them. To be locked up in a cage with little to no privacy. To be given a police record that makes it incredibly difficult to find other employment. That’s the baseline, even if the police are on their best behavior. For many people the experience may include unnecessary strip searches, sexual harassment, derogatory slurs, assault, and/or rape.

These statistics and letter sent to Melissa Gira Grant where the police tell us they see this treatment as the “humane” choice is very upsetting. Keep in mind we’re not talking about trafficking victims. We’re talking about individuals struggling to pay the rent, with friends and lovers who care about them, who might have children to take care of.

They say that they cannot “in good conscience” allow them to continue to provide for themselves in the way they have chosen and must instead use force, violence, and the threat of further harm in order to coerce them into giving up their income source.  They continue to rely on this tactic even though admit themselves that this is ineffective for many. 

The police are following the strategy set forth by anti sex work activists who intend to make the job an increasingly “hostile environment.” I can’t help but gawk at that phrase. In so much else of my life it is something to be avoided. Labor rights will rally against hostile work environments and call for better labor conditions. Employers are quick to respond to or defend against such claims because they know they could be held legally responsible. Yet here it is the desired outcome.

They know that those consensually engaging in sex work are typically doing so because it is the best option available to them. Some will tell you they honestly enjoy the job, or that it accommodates their life or their accessibility needs in ways that other jobs don’t. Others will tell you they don’t like it but it’s better than the alternative. Anti sex work activists want to see more harassment and violence until people choose to give it up.

In truth, that is the motivation behind criminalization models that focus on clients. Reduce demand to reduce the industry. But think for a moment about every other labor circumstance where the number of employers are cut in half but there are the same number of people seeking work. Supply and demand will drive wages down and employers will know they have the upper hand and make more and more outrageous demands. In sex work that means agreeing to unsafe working situations and not being able to screen clients, demand the use of protection, or report crimes.

This is the desired outcome people are talking about when they say “reduce demand.” Make the working conditions so dangerous and hostile that people move to other lines of work.

The major problem here is that other work is not always an option. Many of the sex workers I know enjoy the freedom that independant sex work can bring. They would hate to have it taken away, but they probably do have other options. I also know plenty of people who have chosen sex work because they were chronically unemployable due to anti-trans discrimination, accessibility needs incompatible with traditional workplaces, or other reasons. They won’t be able to find work elsewhere and will have to continue working in sex work no matter how “hostile” it becomes. 

That is the end result of this approach - some happy independent sex workers disgruntled dislocated workers forced into careers they dislike. Others will play the odds hoping not to be struck by violence. But desperate sex workers with no other choice will continue doing sex work, simply in more and more dangerous circumstances experience violence as a part of the job regardless of whether it comes from clients or cops. Safe houses or free hotel rooms won’t help pay the rent and utilities or feed you when you’re hungry.

It reminds me of a section from the book The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story when the author describes being arrested for sex work and being beaten and raped by police, then she ends up getting arrested again. The officer asks her “Do you chaps have no other work? Why do you walk the streets? What’re we supposed to do with you guys? We beat you, arrest you, and yet you return to the streets.”

It’s a dramatic failure of the imagination to only see violence as a possible solution to the situation. If arresting someone doesn’t work, they try beatings. If beatings don’t work, they have no other ideas left. So they just keep on arresting and beating and wondering why things aren’t getting better.

Why are you such a babe? :)

insectaffection replied to your post:Why are you such a babe? :)

yes but why

solointhesand replied to your post:Why are you such a babe? :)

tobitastic:

Thanks darling!

You didn’t answer the question! Is it the rakish grin? The all-too-clever glint in your eye? The coquettish way you stand in contrapposto with your hip jutting out? All of the above? Why?!

The world may never know, but I encourage philosophers like yourself to continue the search for answers.

Why are you such a babe? :)

Thanks darling!