Process

A couple of people have asked about how I write a book, how you organize so much material, so here goes. This is a general outline.

Generally I already have written things – on this blog, on my Patreon, elsewhere — on various topics. I look through those, sometimes printing out pages and so try to figure out what will be substantial enough for a chapter.

Once I have those chosen – (currently, the chapter list looks a lot like my question list, previously posted) – I figure out what the intro to the subject is, the key stories (because stories) and write those. Then I expand outward in both directions – more intro and concluding sections until I have something that “feels like” a complete chapter.

Somewhere in here, too, I start to think about word count (100k is the goal) or the # of chapters (5-8? not sure yet) and start dividing material up in that way. For both previous books, I had a word count I needed to meet daily… which I should be doingfor this one like maybe yesterday.

I may work on these all at once, depending on what’s inspiring me, or I may work on them one at a time. That’s up to my brain, and I find it’s useful to let it lead instead o trying to force it to do anything.

Eventually some topics get folded into others & others appear. Over & over I print the material and look at it as if it’s already a book, looking to see what order might make the most sense, and finally, I write opening & closing paragraphs to lead from one into the other.

For She’s Not, my editor went back and forth on whether or not the 2nd & 3rd chapters should be switched about a dozen times and now I’m not sure which was which.

Right now, with this one, I’m mostly asking myself “so what’s happened since 2006?” On a variety of topics (marriage, sex, transition, etc) & just answering the question.

Come join me on Patreon where I’ll be talking more about process, and if you can, help me buy that printer now that you know how badly it’s needed.

Mini Fundraiser (Help Me Write the New Book)

So just in time for me to sit down & work on the new book my laptop serves up a blue screen of death. Printer is on the fritz (though it is 15 years old, to be fair) and Rachel’s equity dues were due and emergency dental surgery and and and…

All in all I need some emergency funds to get a new computer & printer pronto because I’ve got until mid September to finish this book.

If you can help, please do.

The Next Book: Questions

I’ve been working (again) on the long awaited 3rd book and have been structuring the chapters around some of the questions I’ve been asked over the years and around questions I want to answer in public. Feel free to add your own and maybe I’ll answer them.

I feel like the current WH has forced my hand, tbh.

asked by others:

1 – are you only married for the tax benefits?
2 -how do you feel about being called helen in real life?
3 – how does poly work for you?
4 – “but you’re cis”
5 – how do i support my wife/kid/parent while also taking care of myself?

questions i want to answer:
5 – what did i get wrong? (in the first 2 books)
6 – what haven’t i said?
7 – what was organizing in the trans community like in the early 00s?
8 – one i’m just calling ‘maternal testosterone’ which will be about taking care of people
9 – becoming the catcher (in the rye)

Please do add your own. I’ll be working on this all summer. Come join me on Patreon for drafts and updates.

Gender Inclusive Language, Theatre Edition

My friend and Rachel’s colleague Will Wilhelm at Oregon Shakespeare Festival wrote this piece about the experience of changing the language of Shakespeare – yes, Shakespeare – in order to include all the genders.

Our #AsYouLikeItOSF director, Rosa, came in with many ideas for the “all the world’s a stage” speech that focused more on an inclusive experience-It comes at the end of the play, not the middle, as a parting gift to this audience, who we’ve tried to represent more fully in this feminist, diverse production. Some of the women stand powerfully behind Erica Sullivan’s Jacques onstage. The rest of us run into the audience to stand within the patrons, our faces glowing from the lanterns in our hand. The effect is stunning. However, after our first read of this beautiful treatment, I noticed one line that still felt exclusive.

I approached dramaturgy team to ask for an edit of “and all the men and women merely players.” A part of me almost quieted this impulse. My worst inner demons asked, “why do you think that your qualms merit changing one of the most iconic lines Shakespeare ever wrote? Why is the rest of the inclusion in the speech not enough? What does it really matter?” I’m so glad I asked. Amrita, Wiley, and Rosa were more than receptive. They’d in fact already been thinking about it themselves.

Last week, at a discussion with some students, I noticed one teenager in the circle having sort of a rough time: a little weepy, clinging to the hand of their friend. No one was addressing it much, so I assumed everything was okay and kept leading the discussion. Halfway through, they were able to take some deep breaths and raised their hand. The student, Star, shared that they are non-binary and had yet to meet a non-binary adult, let alone see one onstage.

Star let me know that as soon as they heard the line “and all the people in it merely players,” they burst into tears. So did the rest of their classmates. Because they know and care about Star. Such a simple change might be nonsensical to a Shakespeare purist, but this class knew it meant everything for Star to be included in this moment.

So here’s a reminder for those who still say “ladies and gentlemen” or “boys and girls”: ask yourself if you really mean to include “all the people.”

Mariette Pathy Allen Retrospective

I found out this morning that a retrospective of 40 years of the awesome Mariette Pathy Allen’s work is hanging at the Museum of Sex in NYC. It turns out a photo of us is in it as well as in the article on Dazed about it.

It’s called simply “Partners” and listed as 1995 but we didn’t meet until 1998.

So let me explain further, as I used to have these photos on the site and this is what I said about them:

The beautiful black and white photo of Helen Boyd & Rachel Crowl was taken by Mariette Pathy Allen during Fantasia Fair ’04. We were both honored and pleased to pose for Mariette – who is, after all, the official photographer of the transgender community.

What Hormones Do

A recent meme was making the rounds about how you shouldn’t shame trans women who still have deep voices because estrogen/progresterone can’t undo what testosterone did, and that is entirely true. My friend Luna Rudd – the same person who designed that complicated layer cake of attraction I posted yesterday – then wrote this comprehensive guide.

The following things are irresverisble/unchangeable:

For People who are AMAB:

– Bone Structure (Including Height)

– Facial Hair Growth (Without Electrolysis or Laser Hair Removal)

– Deepness/Tone of Voice (Without training. Basically once vocal chords lossen, you need to train them to retighten.)

– Genital Configuration (Without Surgery) For People who are AFAB:

– Bone Structure (Including Height)

– Breast Size (Without Surgery)

– Genital Configuration (Without Surgery)

Things Hormones do change:

– Muscle Tone (Testosterone causes increased tone, Estrogen causes descreased tone)

– Body Fat Distribution (Testosterone results in a boxier figure, Estrogen results in a curvier figure.)

– Breast Growth (Estrogen Increases, Testosterone does not cause atrophy) – Facial Hair Growth (Testosterone will spark facial hair growth, Estrogen will not reverse it)

– Vocal Tone (Testosterone will deepen the voice, Estrogen will not cause it to become higher.) – Pheromones (Testosterone creates a muskier scent. Estrogen creates a sweeter scent.)

– Pore Size and Sweat Production (Testosterone makes people more prone to sweating and increases likelihood of acne. Estrogen tends to make skin clearer.)

– Body Hair Growth / Distribution (Testosterone causes thicker, coarser body hair; Estrogen causes thinner, more sparse body hair)

– Hair on your head (Estrogen can thicken hair slightly, testosterone can thin hair slightly.)

– Skin Thickenss and Texture (Estrogen makes skin soft, thin, and smooth. Testosterone makes skin thicker and rougher.)

– Sensory perception ( Sometimes in small ways, hormone levels can effect things like the curvature of your eye, olfactory senses, taste, etc.)

– Tear Duct Production (Estrogen causes you to produce more tears.)

– Emotional response (This one is harder to describe, but Estrogen makes emotions a bit more complex and deep. It’s easier to feel like sad, mad, angry, and horny all at the same time.Testosterone makes emotions more straight forward.)

-Sex Drive (Testosterone makes people horny, end of story there.)

Additional Fun Facts:

Although pills, patches, and injections exist for both Testosterone and Estrogen. The most common administration of Testosterone is a weekly shot, and often estrogen is given in pill form. As, a trans woman I’m totally biased, but I always say Estrogen is a flower and Testosterone is a weed. To create an Estrogen rich environment in a Testosterone dominant body, a secondary hormone called an Anti-Androgen needs to be used to block Testosterone’s effect on the body. (A.K.A. Weed killer) To create a Testosterone rich environment in an Estrogen dominant body, you usually just need to add Testosterone and let it go wild.

This has been my TED Talk. I hope you enjoyed yourselves. If you have any other further questions, I will take them now.

WSJ TERF BS: One Frustrated Response

I’m not going to glorify the article by linking to it, but there was a miserable piece of TERF bs in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. I attempted to start a point by point rebuttal but I got too frustrated, so here’s what I wound up with instead.

  1. So “safe spaces” aren’t okay for anyone except who this woman decides they’re needed for. Do we ask her permission? Is there a form to fill out? Will only people who deride safe spaces for others by putting the term in scare quotes be allowed to have their own?
  2. Shockingly enough, women and girls also have gender identities. Also, gender identity does not require scare quotes because it’s a thing, has been a thing, & will continue to be a thing. Get over it.
  3. “Biological males” does require scare quotes because this is definitely not a thing. From here on in this term will only apply to men who study biology.
  4. No woman or girl faces risk from a trans person (of any kind) in restrooms, locker rooms, etc.
  5. Trans women and trans girls are women and girls.
  6. Fuck you.
  7. Apparently, biology IS destiny.
  8. Also, fuck you.
  9. Behavior, and not identity, is the issue. Anyone who has been charged with / convicted of violence against women should not have access to women, whether that’s in prisons or homeless shelters or anywhere else. Maybe if this awful woman could get her shit together to, say, demand testing of rape kits and limitations on gun ownership for violent people, instead of demonizing an already well-demonized tiny population of vulnerable people, she might actually manage to reduce the harm women and girls experience.
  10. Writing crap like this – or publishing it – only further distracts people from paying attention to the issues that genuinely expose women and girls to violence: generous gun laws, the difficulty of acquiring a restraining order, good access to mental health care, and understanding of trauma, victim blaming, and the rest.
  11. I am a trans inclusive feminist precisely because I am worried about the violence women and girls experience, which is why it’s so insulting to have someone who knows nothing about either the violence women ACTUALLY face or about trans people write crap like this and publish it.
  12. Seriously, fuck you.

New Eve Trailer, Release Dates

This is the new trailer for the movie, And Then There Was Eve, that my wife co-stars in. It will do a week of screenings in LA from March 1-7th, and will be available March 12th on all VOD platforms and March 26th on DVD. So there you go. At long last, you’ll all finally be able to see it.

RIP Alison Laing

It doesn’t matter if you know it’s coming or not – the news of the death of someone you loved and respected is always hard to hear.

From Dallas Denny:

Alison played a huge role in the forming transgender community. She was a co-founder of Renaissance Education Association, author of a book on voice, and served as Executive Director of the International Foundation for Gender Education. Alison and spouse Dottie we long-time supporters of Fantasia Fair, and both served as Director for multiple years, and both earned the Fair’s highest awards.

There will be a memorial for Alison and Dottie in Provincetown, Massachusetts during Fantasia Fair week, October 20-27, conducted by their daughter Betsy.

I met Alison and her wife Dottie when I was first doing the research for My Husband Betty and in later days when I was doing readings and workshops at various trans conferences mostly in the NE. They were good, weird days, but those two were always a delight. Dottie passed a few years ago.

Here’s are some pieces of an interview Alison gave after Dottie’s death, about why she came out, how she thought about sexuality. (warning: that site is a hot mess of ads)

Here’s a cool photo essay The Advocate did of her early photos, from the 1960s and beyond.

What a beautiful, kind couple they were – such an inspiration to this young ballbuster. Alison was always one of the people who said: keep on saying what’s true.

I’ll miss you, friend. Thank you so much for your support during those early days.