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Archive for September, 2014

Things I’ve Learned from Being Transgender that Aren’t about Being Transgender

Being transgender prompted me to undergo a lengthy period of deep introspection. It forced me to question things which the general population perhaps doesn’t give a second thought to, ever. It also gave me a lens to reexamine other aspects of my life with a broader perspective. Thus, here I present the lessons I’ve learned by virtue of being trans, that aren’t really about being trans at all.

Gender is f’ing everywhere!

Fetuses are imparted a “gender” based on microscopic hints of genitals as seen through an expensive x-ray printout. Our involuntary gender journey thus begins, plaguing us with pink and blue stickers, gendered names and spaces and play places. This dichotomous fanaticism extends well into adulthood. From the facial moisturizer for men (boosting your burliness) to granola bars for women (which surely elevate estrogen levels), the battle of the sexes plays out even in the most inane scenarios. Everyone could benefit from a little…

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My Reflections on Comments About Our Research on Black Twitter

Dayna E. Chatman, PhD

This morning, I woke up to a number of tweets concerning the research on Black Twitter I’ve undertaken with a team of researchers at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. For a run-down on the situation, please see The Root’s coverage. It’s been less than a day, and I am still processing and getting to the bottom of this situation, but I wanted to share my initial response.

Let me start out by clearing a few things up:

1. The project is lead by me, was devised by me, and contributes to my dissertation. There are others involved: my faculty sponsor, Professor Francois Bar, and two other doctoral students, Kevin Driscoll and Alex Leavitt, along with many other undergraduate and masters students who have participated in various ways. Like everyone else, I was surprised to see that my contributions to this project were minimized…

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My Ex-Boyfriend Leaking Nude Pictures of Me Changed Who I Am—Forever


In 2008, there were no words for what happened to me. Today we call what happened to Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities—the public nonconsensual distribution of sexually explicit photos—revenge porn or cyber bullying or online harassment. I wasn’t naive. I’d been slut-shamed before. But I never considered that people would think my willingness to talk about sexuality precluded me from the expectation of privacy.

I was in my third year at Harvard, when an ex-boyfriend posted a gallery of nude photos he had taken of me eight months earlier. IvyGate, “an Ivy League blog covering news, gossip, sex, and sports,” picked up the story first, which would later become one of the site’s most popular posts. At the time, I was already in the press for writing what some described as a “sex blog” and it made me well known enough within a certain community—overachieving teenage girls, other Ivy…

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How We Rationalize the Privacies We Invade

Vanessa Mártir's Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy. Privacy from the perspective of a memoir and personal essay writer who is revealing family secrets, breaking silences that were intended to protect (or at least that’s what I’ve chosen to believe) but have done more damage than good.

I’m thinking about my aunt, my Titi who is very much a surrogate mom to me. When I told her I was writing a memoir, she said, “Be careful what you write.”

“I’m not being careful.”

“I know.” She looked at me with those loving eyes of hers, no judgment, but no understanding either. Then she walked out of her kitchen, a plate of food in her hand. The heaping plate she’d just served me sat on the table, heat rising off the rice in smoky tendrils.

Two years ago, I showed her the picture I found in Meryl Meisler’s exhibit, “Bushwick in the…

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the way looks neither pleasant nor too long

I felt like I wanted to say something. Then as I got this open, a wave of ineffable, sourceless weariness washed over me. The very idea of thinking, much less expressing myself, became exhausting. Typing even these few words was an enormous effort, or at least getting going was. The more I type the easier it gets.

I read an abridged version of some of Plutarch’s Lives recently. Finished today. Interesting, but also sort of made me wonder what all the fuss over Rome and Greece was about. They just sound like people everywhere – great and shitty by turns, seemingly at random.

Now I’ve finished the book. Wish it hadn’t been abridged. I need to get my ass to the library. Out of shit to read again. 

Reading is a compulsive, obsessive activity for me. It’s almost like the default activity of my life. If I’m not doing anything else, I am typically reading, and if reading can be at all combined with what I’m doing, such as if I’m eating, I will usually do so. In fact, I get restless and uncomfortable if I don’t have something to read when I eat or go to the bathroom. If I have to I will read the back of the food box. It doesn’t really matter WHAT I am reading. I just have to read. I don’t know why, nor do I remember when this began. Nor do I often think about how fucking bizarre it is that I feel physically compelled to spend a huge amount of time staring at printed words. It’s especially odd because I have terrible retention – I have to read something several times to remember more than the gist of it. Readers like to feel superior to TV-watchers, but now that I’m really thinking about it, how different is what I do, really, than what they do? From this perspective it seems just as… well, mindless and compulsive.


It’s funny how differently people hear things sometimes. “Touch, Peel, and Stand” by Days of the New for example. It’s had a place in my ‘mean mood’ playlist for a long time. I always took it as a hostile, aggressive song, about feeling cruel and vicious and hurtful. My partner, I learned recently, hears it as a drug song, about abusing drugs and getting fucked up. 

 I have a song called ‘Pickled Member’ in my MP3 collection. Doubtless that hails from an… earlier period of my life. Ah, teenage self, will you ever entirely die?

Probably not. Hell, there’s evidence that at the core I am still basically a pre-teen. For instance, if you asked me my favorite food, and I were to answer you honestly, I would be forced to say pizza and birthday cake. I am turning 30 this December… theoretically. It would seem that my real age is roughly six.

No wonder I have very few friends. I can hardly put up with myself – how can anyone else? 

I have a weirdly mixed view of myself. On the one hand, I amuse myself enormously, and I feel basically fond of myself. On the other hand, I reflexively depreciate myself and automatically reject most compliments. Even now I feel a schizophrenic response, considering myself – a mix of “I’m so neat!” and “Ugh, I’m so arrogant, I can’t believe I’m thinking this.” 

I suppose it’s progress. I used to just flat-out hate myself.

I feel thirsty. Time to fix that, I guess.

The world of Mi Ju.