new button: i can’t even think straight
Straight Talk is now available at Quimby’s and will soon be added to 3rd Language’s zine distro!
Straight Talk is a mini-zine that functions as a poetic dictionary. It focuses specifically on defining words and phrases beginning with the word “straight” such as “straight face,” “straight forward,” and “straight jacket.” By examining these definitions in a curated order, Straight Talk playfully explores language, definitions, and identity.
After the Trans at SAIC event last semester, a few trans students got together to think about creating a student group to advocate for change at SAIC. After some planning and paper work, we’ve got the group, which we have called The League of Extraordinary Genders, in its infancy of becoming active.
We’ve scheduled our first event for Tuesday April 15th from 4:15 - 6:00 in room 214 of the Sharp Building.
This is mostly just a meeting to connect with interested people and formulate some specific goals and plans of action. We want this group to serve as a tool for trans and gender nonconforming SAIC community members to get what they need accomplished with the support and power of a number of like minded individuals.
We want to prioritize health coverage for trans students, making trans 101 educational materials available for students and staff, working on establishing attendance and pronoun protocol and etiquette for classrooms, more numerous and accessible gender neutral bathrooms, and creating the position of a paid LGBTQ etc. liaison at the school, who can specifically act as a representative for the gender and sexuality associated needs of the student body, among other goals.
We’d love to hear your ideas, suggestions, complaints, and call outs.
If you could, let any trans, gender nonconforming, or otherwise interested people know about the group. We want to hear as many perspectives as possible, particularly those of trans women or trans feminine people and people of color.
Also find us on Engage (SAIC’s student group website interface):
And on Tumblr: http://theleagueofextraordinarygenders.tumblr.com/
Lou Sullivan: Honesty, AIDS, and Transition. 1988-1990. TV interview clips.
Many of my photographs are now incredibly mundane - pictures of black people lounging, relaxing, doing nothing but existing in real time. However, I have not lost the desire to portray a spectacle, to get lost in the stereotypes that persist in representations of black women that I also love to enact and perform, but even more, to consider style and the artifice of adornment as substance. Old habits die hard.
Today, this piece is Keïta and Sherman Had a Baby (2014). Tomorrow, the title may be any of the following:
Passing for a Leopard
You can’t see me, fool
Imitation of Life
The Domestication Effect
Dionysius, the Dying God
For My Grandma Who Passed for White, then Stopped
Living a Lie is a Poor Substitute
Jeremiah 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Fuck you, I like leopard
50 Shades of Slay (Courtesy of Danielle Rennalls)
The third coldest winter in Chicago’s history has not kept Natalia Nicholson indoors. Instead, she boldly confronted the cold with her performance “Drowning Mid-Air.” Natalia is a graduate student in the performance department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where we first met on a panel about trans issues last fall.
I attended Natalia’s latest performance on Saturday, February 15th, the day after Valentine’s Day. Wearing a white slip dress, long white gloves, and angel wings—Natalia stood on the edge of Michigan Avenue in high heels, with a 40 pound block of ice tied to her genitalia. A taut white rope extended back from between her legs, connecting her body to the block of ice, situated about ten feet directly behind her. For fifteen minutes, her legs stood frozen in place in front of SAIC’s building at 112 S. Michigan, across the street from the famed museum. Her arms made slow, spiritual movements, outstretched and open to the grey sky.
Cars honked, pulled over, and almost collided while watching Natalia’s performance. People on the street stopped to watch, took pictures, and commented on her performance. A man misgendered Natalia to his son, people worried that she was freezing, and several women complimented her bare legs, which didn’t even tremble. One man succinctly said, “She’s brave.” I am not sure he knows how brave she truly is.
My role was to keep time. Natalia asked me to walk up to her every five minutes, place my hand on her back, and ask, “Are you okay?” I did this three times throughout the performance. This simple gesture reminded me how important it is for trans people to check up on one another. Each time, Natalia responded, “Yes, I am okay.” But I know that’s not the full truth.
This was not just a performance. “Drowning Mid-Air” was a public protest drawing attention to SAIC’s failure to address the immediate health concerns of its trans students. Trans students make up 1.5% of SAIC’s population—seven and a half times the national rate, according to the National College Health Assessment for 2013. That amounts to about fifty students, which doesn’t include trans faculty and staff at the school.
Natalia’s performance specifically targeted the exclusion of gender confirmation surgery from SAIC’s student health coverage. Fifty one colleges and universities in the country provide student coverage for hormones and gender confirmation surgery. At the panel last fall, I sat next to Natalia as she publicly declared, “What I want is someone from the administration right now to promise me that you will help me get my surgery.” Administrators never agreed to that promise. She broke into tears, realizing the school will not help her. In that moment, I turned to her and asked, “Are you okay?”
As a direct result of being denied access to gender confirmation surgery, Natalia is experiencing a worsening depression and persistent suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, 41% of trans people have attempted suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population. A recent study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute found that suicide rates for all trans and gender nonconforming people are “exceptionally high,” regardless of income, education, or relationship status.
At the panel last fall, Joe Behen, the executive director of the Wellness Center at SAIC explained, “You’d be hard pressed to find another school with as many LGBT people in a population as you’ll find here…We should be a model for support for LGBT students…What you’ve raised for us is the awareness that we’ve neglected; the T in LGBT.”
Behen has publicly stated multiple times that the school is working on updating its insurance policy for the fall of 2014 to cover hormones and gender confirmation surgery. That will be too late for Natalia. She will have graduated by then. In response, Natalia said, “I am not angry anymore. I am just doing the work necessary to ensure this history of discrimination isn’t erased by their intentions for fall 2014. I have been left behind, and I don’t want them to ever forget that.”
This article was originally published by Original Plumbing.
Greyson Telander was a young trans poet from Glen Ellyn, IL. During 2010, he was an individual finalist at LTAB and a participant in YCA’s summer workshop series, where he openly discussed his life as a trans person. His presence impacted the lives of several poets at YCA who would later come out as trans. This award is presented to a poet or community member who challenges norms in our community, who forces us to think in new ways, and listen to the voices of those who are traditionally unheard.
The first Greyson Telander award was presented to Greyson posthumously at Louder Than a Bomb Team Finals at the Palace Theatre.