Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"99 Erics" – an update about my forthcoming novel!

Over the last few years, I have been writing silly, surreal, sex-positive fiction centered on a character named Kat Cataclysm. Back in 2016, I published the chapbook you see here, full of short pieces that were supposedly penned by her. And this fall, my/her debut novel – 99 Erics: a Kat Cataclysm faux novel – will be released!

99 Erics will be published on Switch Hitter Press in October, 2019. A description of the book, plus links to excerpts, are below. More info (including cover art) will be made available once it is complete.

If you are a writer or media outlet interested in reviewing 99 Erics, or interviewing me about the book, please contact me, and I'd be happy to get you a review copy as soon as they are available!

In the meantime, here is a brief description...

Kat Cataclysm is an ethically non-monogamous bisexual woman and absurdist short fiction writer. 99 Erics is a humorous account of Kat’s experiences writing a book called 99 Erics, which is about her experiences dating ninety-nine different people named Eric. It is more surreal than slutty. Not that there is anything wrong with slutty.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

lyrics to "Cisgender" (my latest trans-themed song)

As some of you may know, in addition to being an author, I also write and perform music – originally with my noise-pop band Bitesize, and currently with my solo music project *soft vowel sounds*. Quite a few of my songs are transgender-themed – back in 2014, I chronicled many of these in a blog post entitled Transgender-themed artists, bands, music, songs & anthems.

Just this last December, I debuted a brand new transgender-themed song. Actually, it's a cover of one of the catchiest classic rock hits from the 1970s, albeit with me "trans"-ing the lyrics (for reasons explained in the following live performance video of the song). I've also included the lyrics below, so feel free to sing along if you wish! 

I will be performing "Cisgender" at my next *soft vowel sounds* show on Saturday, April 6th at El Rio in San Francisco, and will likely do it at future shows as well. To keep posted about my upcoming live shows and recordings (including a new album later this year!), I encourage you to sign up for my music email list. Happy listening...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Origins of "Social Contagion" and "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria"

This post inadvertently grew out of research that I've been doing for another essay, which I will link to once it is published. Basically, while the concept of "social contagion" is quite old, the notion that it somehow causes children and teenagers to adopt transgender identities is rather recent. So I was curious to know where this assertion first arose. To this end, I carried out a series of internet searches, and was surprised (although perhaps I shouldn't have been) to find out that it seems to have originated on the same three websites (4thwavenow.com, transgendertrend.com, and youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org) that Lisa Littman surveyed for her study on the (scientifically unsubstantiated) concept of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). I was also rather stunned to learn that virtually all of this – the founding of two of those three websites, the first ever claims that social contagion causes kids to become transgender, the coining of "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria," and Littman's recruiting parents for her survey – happened within an extremely short period of time (roughly half a year).

After doing a little more detective work, I put together the following timeline detailing the recent history of these concepts and the websites that gave rise to them. This is a lengthy post (for the sake of thoroughness), but there are two main take-home points: First, the notion that "transgender is caused by social contagion" seems to have been invented by a reluctant parent of a trans child in February 2016. It was then reiterated by other parents and posters on these websites, and then was subsequently picked up and parroted by conservative media outlets and gender-disaffirming practitioners as though it were an actual condition rather than mere hearsay. Second, there was a lot of overlap and coordination between these three websites, and eventually with gender-disaffirming practitioners as well, in creating, popularizing, and disseminating these ideas – in other words, this was an activist campaign. There is nothing inherently wrong with activism, as we are all activists to some degree. But what I chronicle here challenges the typical framing (favored by mainstream journalists and pundits) that pits "concerned parents" and "objective scientists" against "biased out-of-control transgender activists." The reality is that both sides have agendas, in that we are both fighting for what we think is best for trans & gender non-conforming (GNC) children. (Although I believe that the existing evidence better supports the gender-affirmative model.)

The timeline is below. But first, two brief preliminary sections (which can be skipped over if you are already intimately familiar with these matters). There will be a brief summary at the end.
[& if you are looking for a "TL;DR" version, some of the major highlights from the timeline are covered in this Twitter thread.]

Monday, January 21, 2019

my thoughts on Twitter, tagging, subtweeting, & blocking

I joined Twitter back in 2011 and, for the most part, I've appreciated the experience – it is the social media platform that I spend the most time on. It's a great place for me to get the word out about my writings and music, and to find/follow/read other people's work. But over the last few years, Twitter has become far more difficult to navigate.

For me personally, the primary reason has been the anti-transgender backlash we've been living through the last few years. Not that long ago, trans people were not in the public eye so much, and while trans-haters definitely existed online, they were not very organized. But nowadays, they are far more vocal and coordinated in their efforts. Often they will swarm transgender people's (and allies') feeds expressing hatred and misinformation. Increasingly, they've resorted to mass reporting to get trans people suspended from the platform for relatively benign things.

Then there are the usual aspects of Twitter that most of us have engaged in at one time or another – e.g., quote-tweeting articles & tweets that we disagree with (thus enabling/encouraging our followers to comment upon them as well); tagging/@-ing other people into conversations that they'd rather not be a part of. While not always done in a mean-spirited manner, these things can also make Twitter somewhat inhospitable at times.

As a writer, I am quite used to being criticized. And I understand that social media is now the new public forum where ideas will be shared and debated. While I am always open to listening to sincere constructive criticism, far more often than not, the negative comments I receive on Twitter these days are either thinly veiled (if at all) attempts to smear or dismiss transgender people and perspectives, or more general complaints about "liberals," "feminists," "SJWs," and the like. In some cases, these individuals may simply be "letting off steam" or "getting something off their chest," but the end result (whether intended or not) is that other people who are fundamentally opposed to my perspective & existence will likely find that comment and flood my feed, thus creating a hostile environment for both me and my followers.

So long story short, I have become very liberal with blocking accounts.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

consider bringing me out to your college 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 are students or staff elsewhere.

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

Thanks for your consideration! -julia

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

new updates about writings, upcoming shows & talks, etc!

In a previous post, I described my two different email lists: The julia update comes out about 4–6 times a year, and shares all of my latest writings, shows, and creative endeavors. Then I have a music-only update (for my two music projects *soft vowel sounds* & Bitesize) that comes out more frequently, anytime I have a new music show or release. You can sign up for them via those links, if you wish.

I'm telling you this because I just released two new updates: a music one, and a more general julia update — I encourage you to check them out! Here are a few highlights:

Finally, a reminder that I am giving away a free mp3 of one of my songs with each music update – another reason to consider signing up! This month's free song is the Bitesize classic "Yellow Belt" – check out the update if you wanna download it!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

a personal statement regarding the ROGD controversy and why you probably won't be hearing from me for the next few days

This summer, in the wake of The Atlantic cover story, plus other similar recent pieces, I made the decision to dedicate most of my writing time over the rest of 2018 to challenging the current backlash against transgender children and the gender-affirming healthcare model. This has meant putting a book that I have been writing about activism (more generally) on hold, which sucks, but I feel the former is a more immediate and pressing matter at this moment in time. Behind the scenes, I have been working on a series of essays along these lines that I hope to roll out over the next 5-to-6 months, so stay tuned. And as always, if you appreciate this work, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

Anyway, one of the essays that I have been working on was about the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria movement. Last week, when I learned the Littman paper had just been formally published (and I was already familiar with this work from the poster-version that appeared last year in the Journal of Adolescent Health), I decided to make it my top priority. And I ended it up publishing it on Medium on August 22nd (you can read it via the previous link).

My purpose in writing the essay was not to "suppress research I disagree with" or to "drag Littman's name in the mud," as some are now accusing. I was simply countering disinformation (i.e., promoted by ROGD advocates online and in recent op-eds) and a skewed research study that has potential far-reaching healthcare and social ramifications (i.e., the Littman paper). I never once resorted to ad hominem attacks in my essay, nor did I call for the paper to be investigated or retracted. I have written about other transgender-related studies and theories in the past - if you were to comb through them all, you would find lots of arguments and criticisms, but not a single instance where I have called for a paper to be investigated or retracted. I have simply participated in these debates. And they are not truly debates if you don't allow people like me to participate in them.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

understanding TERF talking points on transition

1. When an insistent, persistent, consistent trans child socially transitions (no medical interventions, completely reversible). TERF response: No, you can't do that! Because 80% desistance!

2. When a trans child goes on puberty blockers (which are safe & the effects completely reversible). TERF response: No, you can't do that! Because children need to experience "natural puberty" in order to fully identify with their "biological sex."

3. When older trans teenagers finally go on hormones and contemplate surgery. TERF response: No, you can't do that! Because that's irreversible. And mutilation!

4. When a trans adult transitions. TERF response: No, you can't do that! Because we don't want any "men" with "penises" in women's spaces. Plus, you haven't been socialized as female, so therefore you can never be a woman! 

There is only one way to square this circle: TERFs don't want trans people to exist, in any capacity. Period. That is the only logic at work here. Any concern that they express toward transgender and trans-questioning children is insincere, as their one and only goal is to make us disappear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

sign up for my email lists & get free mp3s!

If you appreciate my writings, music, and performances, I highly encourage you to sign up for my email lists! I have two separate lists that you can join:

julia update - this is the most comprehensive list. Once every 2–3 months, I will send out a thorough update about all my creative endeavors, including info about new book & music releases, links to my recent writings & interviews, plus upcoming speaking events & performances. Basically, the whole shebang!

*soft vowel sounds*/Bitesize update - this is my music-specific list. Updates are shorter and more frequent (but no more than one per month), mostly to alert folks about upcoming *soft vowel sounds* shows, as well as new music & videos when they arise.

You can sign up for either update (or both) by clicking those links.

As a bonus, each update will include a link to a free mp3 of one of my songs! These will be available exclusively (and for a limited time only) through my email updates. So be sure to sign up!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

on Jesse Singal, slut-shaming, and calling women "hysterical"

I already told this story once before, in this piece, along with instances where Jesse Singal has purposefully lied about me, whipped up an online mob against me, and treated several other trans women with similar disrespect. I honestly want nothing more than for him to leave me the fuck alone—or at the very least, for him to only discuss my writings and positions, rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks. But he continues to harp about this, and spread lies about me. So here is a brief summary.

1) I regularly write about serious matters regarding transgender health and psychology. Jesse Singal disagrees with me on these matters, particularly with regards to the "80% desistance" statistic.

2) On July 25, 2016, Singal wrote a pro-"80% desistance" article, during which, in the midst of discussing my stance on this matter, he tossed in "as an aside, you should read her Daily Beast article about navigating the dating scene as a trans woman in San Francisco." That article had nothing to do with the topic at hand. And as I detail here, I know for a fact that Singal has read my work on sexualization and how it is an especially effective tool for invalidating trans women (the specific essay he read can be found here[PDF link]). So I presumed that he cited that dating piece in an attempt to purposefully slut-shame me.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Transgender is a Pan-Cultural and Trans-Historical Phenomenon

In my writings, I will often say that gender diversity and transgender identities are a “pan-cultural and trans-historical phenomenon.” What I mean by this is that if you consider other cultures, or look back through history, you will find examples of people who we would now (in this time and place) describe as falling under the transgender umbrella. This includes (but is not limited to) people who identified and lived as members of a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, people who belonged to “third gender” categories—an umbrella term sometimes used to describe established gender categories that fall outside of the man/woman binary, which are fairly common in non-Western cultures), plus people who are gender non-conforming in all sorts of other ways.

At the end of this post, I will provide a list of books that describe such examples of gender diversity across cultures and throughout history. Or you could check out the Wikipedia page on this topic.

This evidence strongly suggests that gender diversity occurs naturally, rather than being a product of culture or modernity. To be clear, I am not suggesting that the phenomenon occurs entirely independent of culture—after all, our self-understandings and the labels we use to describe ourselves are most certainly influenced by cultural norms and the language and concepts we have at our disposal. But what I am saying is that there has to be some natural (likely biological) component to this gender diversity. The alternative hypothesis—i.e., that within each of these cultures, there is an entirely unique socially-based “cause” that accounts for this gender diversity—seems utterly preposterous, and is in dire need of being lopped off with Occam’s razor.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trans health professionals consider gender-reparative therapies to be unethical

This is not a post so much as it is a citation to be referenced in my (and perhaps other people's) future writings on this topic. 

Gender-reparative therapies (sometimes called gender-conversion therapies) typically involve the use of positive and negative reinforcement strategies—e.g., having parents discourage or withhold gender non-conforming expression, toys, play partners, etc., while encouraging gender-normative behaviors—in an attempt to convert transgender or gender non-conforming children into cisgender and gender-normative ones. 

While the practice used to be more common, and while a few researchers (such as Ken Zucker) still advocate for such approaches, the field of trans health as a whole now considers such practices to be both unsuccessful (as it merely coerces children to temporarily hide or repress their gender identities and expressions, which they may assert again at a later age) and unethical (as it often results in a host of negative psychological outcomes, as reviewed in Temple Newhook et al., 2018).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

a Pride month benefit show & a summer of music!

Happy Pride month everyone! I have three *soft vowel sounds* live shows lined up for the summer, the first one being this weekend!

This Saturday, June 9th, I will be playing at a benefit for LYRIC Center for LGBTQQ Youth. The event will be held at Laughing Monk Brewing (1439 Egbert Ave, Unit A, San Francisco, CA), who will be donating a portion of the evening’s sales to the cause. It's a great slate of music acts, including Cindy Emch, Mya Byrne, and Polythene Pam! If you're on Facebook, here's the event page.

I am the opening act, starting promptly at 6pm, so seriously, be sure to show up early!

If you want a sneak-peak into my set, I will be performing Open Letter, Switch Hitter, Macbeth, Greta Garbo, Music Box, Understudy, and my usual closer I Killed Sting, amongst other songs! All of those links will bring you to YouTube videos or Bandcamp pages where you can listen along to the songs. So prepare yourself to sing along! Or not, it's totally fine to just listen...  : )

I have two other summer *svs* San Francisco shows lined up! While I'm not actively promoting them yet, you can find find out the dates by checking out my latest music email update, or you can sign up for my music email list here.

Friday, May 11, 2018

May 2018 update: upcoming events, recent & future writings, & new videos!

my recent Patreon post about anti-trans myths
Yesterday, I sent out my latest email update. Here is a brief summary of what you will find in it:

plus the following upcoming events:

May 16, 2018 -- I will be giving a keynote entitled “Queer Communities and Future Possibilities” at University of Washington, Tacoma Pride, at 1pm at William Phillip Hall. More details can be found here.

May 24, 2018 -- I will be interviewed live at the California Institute of Integral Studies event: “A Conversation with Julia Serano and Zara Zimbardo: On Trans Feminism.” The event will be at CIIS, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA, at 7pm. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door; more event details can be found here and here.

May 28, 2018 -- I will be reading some of my new fiction at Yarn: Comedy Storytelling. Other featured performers include Heather Gold, Gina Gold, and Aundré the Wonderwoman. The show is at Shotgun Players (1901 Ashby Ave, Berkeley, CA), doors at 7pm, show at 7:30pm. Ticket info (including reduced-price advanced tickets!) can be found here.

June 9, 2018 -- my solo music project *soft vowel sounds* will be playing a benefit for LYRIC Center for LGBTQQ Youth. The event will be held at Laughing Monk Brewing (1439 Egbert Ave, Unit A, San Francisco, CA) who will be donating a portion of the evening's sales to the cause. The other acts include Polythene Pam and Mya Byrne. More details here.

You can read the full update here. If you want to receive my email updates directly to your inbox, you can sign up here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Buddy: the specialist bird

Buddy & me, August 2017
I usually don’t post personal stuff here, but my dear friend Buddy recently passed away on March 6, 2018. If you’ve enjoyed anything I've written over the past thirteen-plus years, Buddy was most likely perched on my shoulder for some or all of the time that I wrote it. This post commemorates her life and our time together...

The last time I wrote a post like this was way back in August 2005, when my Jenday conure Coby unexpectedly passed away—you can read all about her story via that link. I had never been so close to an animal companion before. Her passing devastated me.

My partner at the time suggested that we honor Coby (who was a rescue bird with a difficult past) by adopting another bird with a similar backstory. Along those lines, she mentioned a parrot that was up for adoption at the bird store she was working at. That bird’s name was Buddy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

new music videos & a live show this Sunday!

Many of you who follow me here do so because of my writings, but I occasionally write and perform music as well. For many years, I was in a noise-pop band called Bitesize, and my current lo-fi solo indie-pop music project is *soft vowel sounds* - you can listen to and learn more about both projects via those links.

I have a bunch of new news music-wise to share!

First, I will be doing a *soft vowel sounds* live show this Sunday, April 8th in the East Bay at the Ivy Room (860 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA). The other bands will be Polythene Pam and The Sweet Trade. I will be opening up the show, so get there early if you don't want to miss my set! Doors at 6pm, show starts promptly at 7pm, $6-$10 sliding scale NOTAFLOF, must be 21+, more details here and here.

Second, over the weekend I released two new music videos for songs I plan to do at Sunday's show. Here they are:

Open Letter is a "coming out" song that I wrote way back when I was transitioning (circa 2001-02). My previous band Bitesize used to perform the song, although we never formally recorded it. In 2014, I recorded this version for the *soft vowel sounds* EP Ray versus Macbeth and the Music Box, part one (which you can download for free via the link; just enter "0"). You can find the lyrics for the song on Bandcamp.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Autogynephilia: a theory that ignores lived experiences and basic mathematics

I have probably written more about Ray Blanchard’s autogynephilia (AG) theory than all but a small handful of people. I have done so for multiple reasons: 1) as a scientist, I am appalled by the theory’s lack of scientific rigor, 2) it denies many trans people’s lived experiences, 3) it makes far too many unnecessary (and incorrect) assumptions (i.e., it ignores Occam’s razor), 4) it is not scientifically falsifiable, as exceptions to the theory are routinely dismissed as being due to  “lying” or “misreporting” by trans subjects, 5) it needlessly sexualizes and stigmatizes people on the trans female/feminine spectrum, and 6) it does not even attempt to account for people on the trans male/masculine spectrum.

In this brief post, I will highlight four of my most thorough analyses of autogynephilia theory. Other writings related to this topic may be found on my Trans Psychology webpage.

The Case Against Autogynephilia [PDF link]
This is a peer-reviewed article that appeared in the International Journal of Transgenderism in 2010. It summarizes Blanchard's theory and the overwhelming evidence against it. I also propose simpler non-pathological alternative explanations that would explain Blanchard’s original findings better than his own theory.

The real “autogynephilia deniers”
A blogpost I wrote in 2015 in response to James Cantor (one of the few proponents of AG theory who is still actively practicing sexology) wherein I list all of the more recent evidence further demonstrating that AG theory is incorrect. I also highlight numerous instances where anti-transgender individuals and organizations have cited AG theory in their attempts to invalidate, stigmatize, and slut-shame trans women.

Reconceptualizing “Autogynephilia” as Female/Feminine Embodiment Fantasies (FEFs)
A blogpost I wrote in 2015, and which was later updated for my latest book Outspoken. (The latter version can also be freely downloaded from Academia.edu.) This extends upon what I wrote in my 2007 book Whipping Girl, offering non-pathologizing explanations for why “autogyephilic fantasies” (what I call FEFs) exist, and why they are more prevalent in some trans subpopulations than others.

Psychology, Sexualization and Trans-Invalidations [PDF link]
A speech that I gave in 2009; an updated version of the essay now appears in both my latest book Outspoken and on Academia.edu.  An accessible analysis of why there is so much focus on trans female/feminine people’s (real or presumed) sexualities in the lay public, media, and in the fields of psychology/sexology, while their trans male/masculine counterparts remain under-theorized in these regards. I discuss Blanchard’s AG theory in the context of these more foundational stereotypes and biases.

Like I said, many other writings related to, or addressing, AG theory can be found on my Trans Psychology webpage and in my books Whipping Girl and Outspoken...

[note: If you appreciate my writings and want to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon]

Thursday, February 1, 2018

upcoming college speaking events and other performances!

So a few bits of new news! 

First, if you haven't seen it, earlier this week I published a new essay: Thoughts about transphobia, TERFs, and TUMFs. It addresses the different underlying motives/sentiments/beliefs that often drive transphobia, and how we might take these into account as trans activists. It's on Medium - the more "applause" it gets (the clapping hands icon at bottom of the article), the more likely it will appear on other people's Medium feeds. If you really like it, you can give it many claps! So clap away!!!

Second, I just updated my events webpage to include some upcoming college speaking appearances. More may arise, but the ones currently listed are in Ohio, Maine, and Philly, so check it out if you live in those necks of the woods! And as always, if you are interested and able to bring me out to your college campus, please check out my booking page.

One of the other shows listed on my events page is happening this Monday (Feb. 5th): Yarn comedy storytelling! I will be reading a few humorous excerpts from my forthcoming novel. Other featured performers include Heather Gold, Aundré the Wonderwoman, and Bridget Schwartz. The show is at Homestead (4029 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA), doors at 7pm, show at 7:30pm. Reduced-price advanced tickets are only $12 and can be purchased here

Finally, I didn't put this on my events page yet because it's not 100% confirmed, but it's looking like I will be part of a "Quirky Queer Tuesday" music show at the El Rio in San Francisco sometime in March - those details will be listed as soon as I have them, so stay tuned! In the meantime, if you're not familiar with my music, you should check out my current solo music project *soft vowel sounds* and my old (now sadly disbanded) noise-pop band Bitesize.

Hope to see you at some of these shows! Otherwise, you can follow me here or on other social media platforms, and as always, please consider supporting my work on Patreon!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

ways to support my work (on Patreon or otherwise)

Note added subsequently: I have decided to suspend the "Patreon work-around" that I describe in this post, as it was simply too much work to maintain. So if you want to support my work, you can either do it via Patreon, or else make some kind of one-time small donation/gift to me via PayPal – instructions on how to do so can be found below...

I have been (and continue to be) on Patreon, where people who appreciate my writings can pledge support for me at levels starting at $1 a month, with the possibility of rewards such as free e-books, signed copies of my books, or even me writing blogposts on a topic of their choice at higher levels. All patrons (regardless of pledge level) can access "for your eyes only" posts, where I share behind-the-scenes updates, unpublished writings & recordings, and other goodies.

Patreon has made a HUGE impact on my life. As a self-employed writer and speaker/performer with no other outside income, I've had to spend much of my time scrounging up freelance work, speaking gigs, and other odd jobs in order to make ends meet. But thanks to the generous support of my patrons, I've since been able to commit way more time to 1) concentrating on writing future books, and 2) publishing free, accessible, ad-free essays (on either Medium or my blog) on topics that I am most interested in writing about (particularly LGBTQIA+, feminist, and social justice issues). Most of these essays would never have been published by mainstream news/media outlets as is (as most editors favor short pieces that remain on an "activism 101" level).

So Patreon has been a real blessing for me, and I highly encourage you to support me there!

But... some people would rather not join Patreon. And others have decided to leave that platform due to a recent change in their processing fees. [note: shortly after posting this, Patreon went back to the old system!] So for those who wish to support me, but do not want to be on Patreon, I have created the following alternative:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

recently updated merchandise (books & music) webpage!

I wanted to get the word out about this sooner, but I recently updated my "stuff to buy" webpage for the impending holidays!

If you click that link, you will find:
Once again, here's the "buy stuff" link. Happy shopping!