Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Transgender-themed artists, bands, music, songs & anthems

Last week, I encountered quite a number of posts & tweets in which people shared their favorite transgender music artists and trans-themed songs. I later discovered that these posts were initially inspired by an article in Bustle that featured videos of trans anthems by trans artists (e.g., Laura Jane Grace, Namoli Brennet, and Mina Caputo) in response a recent trans-themed song by Kate Pierson. Subsequently, The Advocate published a post called 37 Alternative 'Trans Anthems' by Trans Musicians featuring additional trans-themed songs/music videos by trans artists - definitely check all those wonderful songs out!

Since I have recently returned to making music, and since many people who know me primarily as a trans author & activist are not aware that I started out as a musician/songwriter, I figured that I would take this opportunity to compile some of my own trans-themed anthems to share with the world. So here we go:

My current music project is a solo lo-fi indie-pop endeavor called *soft vowel sounds*. I recently released my first record, and it contains two trans-themed anthems:

The title track Ray is my take on/parody of The Kinks' song "Lola." The video is admittedly not especially video-ish, as I wanted to highlight the lyrics of the song:


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Julia Serano's compendium on cisgender, cissexual, cissexism, cisgenderism, cis privilege, and the cis/trans distinction

When my first book Whipping Girl was published in 2007, it was (to the best of my knowledge) the first print publication to include the terms cisgender, cissexual, cissexism, and cisgenderism.* I did not invent these terms - they had been coined and used by trans activists before me, albeit rarely and sporadically. And in the years since, as these terms have increasingly caught on, I find that people sometimes use them in rather different, or even outright disparate, ways.

So for those interested in the history and evolution of cis terminology, I have subsequently written three (freely available!) blog posts that explain various aspects of, and differing perspectives on, these terms. They are as follows:

1) Whipping Girl FAQ on cissexual, cisgender, and cis privilege (2009)

This article discusses:

  • the origins of cis terminology
  • the reasoning behind why many trans activists use these terms
  • my responses to common critiques of cis terminology
  • a discussion of how the concept of "cis privilege" is sometimes misused

2) Cissexism and Cis Privilege Revisited - Part 1: Who Exactly Does “Cis” Refer To? (2014)

This article discusses:

  • the specific way in which I used the terms cis, cisgender, cissexual, cissexism, and cisgenderism in Whipping Girl
  • a discussion of how these same terms are often used in a rather different manner today
  • how ambiguity regarding the terms "cis" and "cisgender" often erases the experiences of non-transsexual transgender-spectrum people
  • my proposal of an alternative (albeit not mutually-exclusive) "three-tiered" model for considering gender-non-conformity and social legitimacy - one that may better account for the gender-based marginalization experienced by those who fall under the cisgender umbrella and/or who do not fit neatly into the cis/trans distinction.

3) Cissexism and Cis Privilege Revisited - Part 2: Reconciling Disparate Uses of the Cis/Trans Distinction (2014)

Marginalized populations often have different perspectives on, and take different approaches toward, articulating the obstacles they face. Two especially common activist approaches are “decentering the binary” and “reverse discourse” strategies. In this essay, I discuss the logic behind these differing approaches to activism, and explain why they tend to result in very different understandings of cissexism and the cis/trans distinction. In fact, some of the most common complaints about cis terminology are actually critiques of "reverse discourse" approaches to activism. Rather than outright championing one approach over the other, I encourage activists to familiarize themselves with the pros and cons of each strategy in order to use them in the most judicious and effective way possible.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Julia update November 2014: upcoming events, new writings & music videos!

So earlier today, I sent out my latest email update (btw, you can sign up for my email list here). It offers links to some of my more recent writings, an interview, plus two speaking events coming up this week in St. Louis & San Francisco.

I also describe two music videos I recently created for my new solo music project *soft vowel sounds*. Since I couldn't embed them in my email, I will do so here:

Music Box is the first song on the record. It is about being a third wheel and it appropriately takes place inside of a vehicle:

Ray is my parody of The Kinks' song "Lola". The video is admittedly not especially video-ish, as I wanted to highlight the lyrics of the song:

The entire record is available for listen or download (for free or name your price) on the *soft vowel sounds* Bandcamp site.

and speaking of music, on Tuesday December 2nd, I will be performing a couple of songs for the Bad Dyke Book Release + Bawdy Storytelling, featuring Allison Moon, Dixie De La Tour and other storytellers TBA. At Awaken Cafe (1429 Broadway, Oakland), Doors at 7, Show at 8, Tickets $15 (available for purchase here). More show details can be found here.

that's it for now... -j.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cissexism and Cis Privilege Revisited - Part 2: Reconciling Disparate Uses of the Cis/Trans Distinction

For the record: this essay is intended to clarify misconceptions about, and to encourage more thoughtful usage of, cis terminology. Anyone who references this piece in their attempts to deny or eliminate use of the term "cis" (and its variants) is clearly misinterpreting or misrepresenting my views.

In the first essay of this two-part series, I discussed how the way in which cis terminology is often used today can sometimes invisibilize certain forms of gender-based oppression, and potentially exclude people who exist at the margins of the transgender umbrella (i.e., people who don’t fit quite so neatly into a cis/trans binary). In this essay, I want to talk about the different ways in which a cis/trans distinction may be employed, as this can greatly shape the nature and ultimate goals of trans activism.

“Decentering the binary” versus “reverse discourse” approaches
One of the more commonly heard complaints about cis terminology is that it supposedly “creates a new binary” (i.e., trans versus cis). I strongly disagree with this argument. After all, people already make a distinction between non-transsexuals and transsexuals, and between gender-conforming and gender-non-conforming individuals. So the cissexual/transsexual and cisgender/transgender binaries already exist in people’s minds. It’s just that now we (trans activists) have explicitly named the unmarked majority as “cis.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cissexism and Cis Privilege Revisited - Part 1: Who Exactly Does “Cis” Refer To?

For the record: this essay is intended to clarify misconceptions about, and to encourage more thoughtful usage of, cis terminology. Anyone who references this piece in their attempts to deny or eliminate use of the term "cis" (and its variants) is clearly misinterpreting or misrepresenting my views.

My first book Whipping Girl helped to popularize cis terminology—that is, language that uses the prefix “cis” to name the unmarked dominant majority (i.e., people who are not trans) in order to better articulate the ways in which trans people are marginalized in society. In 2009, I wrote a blog post called Whipping Girl FAQ on cissexual, cisgender, and cis privilege that explained my reasoning in forwarding cis terminology and addressed some of the more common arguments made against such language. That blog post ended with a section discussing some of the limitations of cis terminology and the concept of cis privilege—a topic that I will revisit in this two-part series.

Over the years, I have observed that many people now use cis terminology in a manner that is somewhat different from how I attempted to use it in Whipping Girl, thus leading to potential ambiguity—I will address such matters in this first essay. In the last section of this essay, I will suggest another possible model for describing how people are differentially viewed and treated with regards to gender non-conformity, and which may (in some cases) provide a more effective framework than a cisgender/transgender dichotomy.    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Bi Visibility Day!

Given that today is the annual Bi Visibility Day, I figured I would mention that I am indeed bisexual. yay for me!

Also, I thought I'd mention that my recent book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive has a couple chapters about bisexual-umbrella activism, and about my coming out and my experiences as someone who is bisexual. One of these chapters, Bisexuality and Binaries Revisited, can be read (for free!) at the link. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

consider bringing Julia Serano out to your campus!

So a new academic year has begun, and as always, I am looking forward to having the opportunity to speak/perform at various colleges & universities this year!

If you are affiliated with a college - especially if you belong to a trans*, LGBTQIA+, women's, and/or feminist-related organization - please consider bringing me out to your campus. And even if you aren't associated with a college yourself, feel free to forward this onto people that you know who may be students or staff elsewhere.

For those interested parties, I have a recently updated booking webpage containing pertinent information, including short descriptions of some of my most frequently requested talks.

a PDF version of this booking info can be downloaded at this link: http://www.juliaserano.com/av/bookingJulia.pdf

Best wishes, -julia