Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Trans Literature Book Review: Lily and Dunkin (2016)

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Trans Literature is now presenting book reviews! 

This week: Lily & Dunkin, the story of a middle school boy struggling with his mental health after moving to a new town & a trans girl trying to save a tree from being chopped down.
https://www.youtube.com/user/thingstransform/videos

Comment on the video to offer suggestions for upcoming reviews!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Watch the Transgender Roundtable on the Pardoner Live

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The Transgender Roundtable on the Pardoner goes LIVE tomorrow (Thursday, May 7th, 2020) at 4:00PM EST!

https://www.youtube.com/user/thingstransform/videos

Join us live on Youtube and we will answer your questions! All are welcome, from Medievalists missing Kalamazoo, to students, to people bored at home!


Panelists M.W. Bychowski, Joy Ambler, Blake Gutt, A.J. Odasso, and Zac Clifton Engledow will be presenting insights for today inspired by medieval texts: gender & sexuality, plague & pandemic, relics & tradition, as well as violence & community.


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Monday, April 27, 2020

Rainbow Prayer-Beads: A Poem for a Queer Christianity Seminar



A poem for my students
inspired by the Spring 2020 syllabus
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In the little hours we share together,

There are many things left unsaid.

As the queers knock on the kingdom gates,

We remember the most vulnerable in our kin-dom.

Certainly, our bus has many stops to go,

But may we keep our fervor for equality and equity.

May we honor all those who have been erased,

All those queens and kings and monarchs of hell.

Let us shine a spotlight on abuse and corruption,

To reveal the real abominations among us,

To nurture healing not hate amidst plague,

To decolonize our hearts and our institutions.

May we write a new love song,

A fight song that speaks to fear, pain, and chaos.

When Wild Men call us into Mythopoetic Woods,

May you be guided by all our queer fathers, mothers, parents.

When queer messages and messengers arrive at your door,

May you find the strength and clarity to read them truthfully.

When disorientation and utopias leave us nowhere,

May you find companions for the ever erring adventure.

Although we may not check all the items on our lists,

May we confess the beauty of not fitting into identities.

And at times, we may hold back from our truths and desires,

But in the twilight we will sparkle for those who can see us.

So, as you travel onward to cross paths of light and night,

May a coven of queers ever be found to empower you.

And when the sun sets on each day,

May you be affirmed in your heart that you are good.

Blessings to you all,

May we find one another along the way to somewhere, nowhere, and elsewhere.


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Crip Horizons: A Poem for a Race and Disability Seminar


A poem for my students
inspired by the Spring 2020 syllabus
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In the pilgrimage to non-violence and equity,

We come face to face with crusades against our diversity.

Yet some apples fall far from the tree,

Opening new paths for our sons, daughters, and all children.

Looking ahead, we may fear that we will become ghosts or angels,

Before we reach our utopian horizons.

As the sky breaks into dirty, pynk, juicy, crazy, classic shades,

We are reminded that this will be all our America before it’s all over.

In the meanwhile, we may stand five or six feet apart,

Telling the stories of our wounds.

Praying that our beloveds,

Will one day be free of the haunted house in which we are stuck.

So too with all those in the prisons,

May they rise like phoenixes burning the industry to the ground.

One day, we will reach beyond this silent planet,

And leave behind our eugenic and colonial monsters.

On the twilight of that long night,

May a new moon announce our transformation.

As the God or goddesses of the skies look down on us,

With blessings and love instead of violence and plagues.

In the great show of our diverse humanity,

May the freaks rise to take over the market of ideas.

May we find one another on the journey there and back again,

Through the dragons of our own cruelty and mistrust.

Until we arrive home at the Cathedrals of our liberation,

Where we don’t need another ruler or fool; all of our friends are kings.

Blessings to you all,

May we find one another along the way to somewhere, nowhere, and elsewhere.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Many Roads Ahead: An Intersectional Feminisms Poem


A poem for my students
inspired by the Fall 2019 syllabus
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At this moment, I would like to offer a blessing

An expression of the good I wish for you and from you.



I wish for you the drive to do something worth doing

And the courage to do it badly.

I wish for you the fun and equity of femininity, whatever you gender

because on the basis of sex, sex is power and power is sex.

I wish for you full lives and not empty vases

The ability to define gender for yourself, even when it’s a drag.

I wish for you that family will be a mark of your liberation

And that you remember that liberty when you find yourself deep in a mystique



I wish that you don’t let those bastards get you down

Because you can see the resistance all around you, if only you know their colors.



I wish for you hard choices and active debate rather than easy subjugation,

Even when giving up and giving in seems rich and sparkly.

I wish for you to do well and do good

And that you always remember the power you have, even to leave.



Wish for you to fight the good fight

And perhaps even enjoy the fight at times; safe, sane, and consensually.



May you not be drawn into pyramid schemes of power and success,

Even as you carry the stones of the mountain inside you.



May you be called your true names

And may you remember their power.

May you turn the hate given to you

Into grace, voice, and love that is stronger.



May you find rest in safe islands,

But be mindful that the institutions that support us may also confine us.



May you find love and affirmation even for your secret hearts,

And may you find the courage to share them with others.

May you remember that rarely does life give us true binaries,

Even as we may play with those tensions, to the anxiety of others.



May you recognize a perfect day when you get one

May you know when to hold on and when to let go.



In the end, while we have explored feminisms past and present

The best gift I can give you on the way into the unknown

Is a method on how to face those challenges but challenges will come



Conflict will come and its forms are yet unknown

But you have practiced the method for facing these threats

To analyze, to engage, and to adapt.

To analyze to field and determine if you are in the right position

And to analyze the dangers to know the greatest threats.

Then to engage a problem, eschewing the unnecessary actions,

Hitting the pressure point be it pleasure or pain.

Finally then to respond to the accounts waged against you

Adapting and growing from what you learn, even in failure.



And now our seminar comes to an end.

And as you go forth, I wish good for you and from you.

May your goods and your futures come in as many forms as ways as there to to be a woman.


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Dysphoric Dreams: A Poem for a Transgender Literature Seminar



A poem for my students
inspired by the Fall 2019 syllabus
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At this moment, I would like to offer a blessing

An expression of the good I wish for you and from you.



I wish for you to remember that stereotypes are like all forms of print

They erode, break down, and change unless we adapt them to new media.



May you find new meaning on the road from here to elsewhere

And good friends, magical or otherwise to travel with you.



May you face transformation and the unknown with a sense of mystery

And deep understanding of the truths that will live through our desolation.



May you find beauty and joy in your sex and gender

Especially when that beauty comes with great cost



May you find many other words to describe yourself

Including all the selves you will be across your life.



May you pack your gender backpacks with wisdom and care

And may you have the strength and realness to carry the hardest louds.



May you have the power to cry, whatever your gender

Because we will face tearful things in the future.



May you find things worth fighting for

And may you have to strength to carry on through losses.



May you find a flag worth defending

And a community who will have you back in turn.



May you remember that confession means “to speak together”

And that our myths can be as powerful as our realities.



May you find belonging, even on alien planets

Because you may find the world you thought you knew was stranger than you believed.



May you define your own realness and love

Because the reality and love you are given may fail.



May you protect and care for yourself,

Even when it seems the whole system of hell is made to grind you down.



May you find transcendence in the power of story

Because stories are magic and it is a magic that lives within you.



In the end, while we have explored literature past and present

The best gift I can give you on the way into the unknown

Is a method on how to face thoce challenges but challenges will come



Conflict will come and its forms are yet unknown

But you have practiced the method for facing these threats

To analyze, to engage, and to adapt.


To analyze to field and determine if you are in the right position

And to analyze the dangers to know the greatest threats.


Then to engage a problem, eschewing the unnecessary actions,

Hitting the pressure point be it pleasure or pain.


Finally then to respond to the accounts waged against you

Adapting and growing from what you learn, even in failure.



And now our seminar comes to an end.

And as you go forth, I wish good for you and from you.

May your goods and your futures come in as many forms as ways as there are to tell a story.


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Saturday, June 22, 2019

The First Time I Died: A Transgender Girl's Lessons in Death


"End? No, the journey doesn't end here."

J.R.R. Tolkien
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I was around three the first time I died. Fortunately, I was witty enough to think my way out of it before it was time for my parents to pick me up from Pre-School. Despite being raised Roman Catholic, I was enrolled in a Protestant Evangelical Pre-School, called "Sunshine." It was there I learned some things about singing, napping, climbing up stairs, and even got my first kiss. The girl had pulled me aside while we were make-believing in the kitchen play set and surprised me with a small peck. I think I spilled my imaginary cup of tea all over the freshly vacuumed carpet. I remember being confused but not upset. I did get confused and upset when I got in trouble for it. The surprise and the adult response was another lesson I received at this Pre-School: openly trusting what people do or say can lead to confusing problems, especially when I have thoughts to the otherwise.


Another confusing problem occurred to me when I was driving home from Pre-School down Park Street, under the canopy of old trees that seemed to be a staple of my hometown, and we were about to cross the tracks to the north side of town. "I don't want Jesus in my heart," I told my mom. She asked me to explain why I say that. "Because I think that would give me a heart attack or something." She laughed. She was confused and asked me to explain. But I was confused too. "The school told me that to be a good person, I need to invite Jesus into my heart," I reported. "But even if he could fit in all those tubes and things, I don't think my blood could get through with a man in my heart." My imagination flashed with all the damage a tiny human could do trying to make a home, sleeping, working, and trying to prepare meals inside a kid's cardiovascular system. I asked her if that meant I was a bad person, because I didn't want a miniature Jesus to give me cardiac arrest. She told me I was a good kid and a bright kid. Then she told me that I could be friends with Jesus even if he didn't live in my heart. I thought that was a sensible compromise.

The sense of doubt in the adults of my Pre-School came in handy when it came time for me to die. They had arranged a trip for us to tour the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. The first half of the trip was okay. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and watched a video about Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty was an egg who fell off a wall and broke but he was able to be put back together. I wasn't a huge fan of the film but then again I tend to not appreciate C-rated horror films as this seemed to me to be. After this, the Pre-School teachers broke us up into groups. About five or seven at a time, we would walk through a door into a dark room. As far as I could see, no one was coming out again after they entered. Then it was my group's turn. Our teacher walked us through the door which shut behind us. I could feel the walls which were covered in some sort of dark carpet but otherwise the room was totally dark and quiet. Then our teacher told us, "you are dead. You have died." I immediately began to panic. Death hadn't hurt but I was very sad to not see my mom or my dogs or my siblings or my dad or my house again. I didn't know anyone who had died and so I felt very alone, despite being dead with a bunch of other three and four year olds.

I stood grieving my own death for about a minute before a door on the other side of the room opened, revealing a brightly lit chamber. Walking through the dark hallway into the light, I was surrounded by a bunch of other dead kids, all standing in a high room painted with bright blue sky and clouds. There was a railing, presumably to keep us from falling back to earth. I wanted to see if I could see Wheaton and maybe my home below us, so I went over to the railing. Looking down, I saw a mirror reflecting my face back at me. Scanning along the other side of the railing, I took in the effect of the mirrors reflecting the lights and the sky to make it seem as though they went on forever. At this point, I deduced that I probably was not dead. 

I think I began to cry. My teacher tried to comfort me by saying something about how we are in heaven, pointing to all the walls and lights. I did not have the presence of mind to tell her how this was a pretty boring looking heaven. I was too busy crying and holding my arms across my body. She then told me that I really wasn't dead, it was just a museum. I wanted to tell her that I had figured that out on my own and that I wasn't crying because I thought I was dead (that experience had mostly come with a sense of guilt at abandoning my family) but rather because of how enraged I was that I had been lied to again. As in the case of the the girl who kissed me while we were playing in the toy kitchen, make-believe is fine and good but you should explain the game to the people you're playing with before you start or make significant changes. I wasn't ready to be some girl's wife, girlfriend, or whatever she thought I was in her imagination. Likewise, while these adults were eager to get Jesus into my heart or get me into Jesus's sky palace, I wish the Jesus they were presenting to me was less eager to see me dead. That said, as the Humpty Dumpty film had already warned me, these adults seemed to like horror films way more than I do. All I wanted was to vacuum the rug, make some imaginary tea and take a nap without being assaulted or killed by my playmates. Is that so hard?


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