Monday, October 26, 2015

#IntersexStories


My Tweets:

For most of my life I've been pressured to meet the gender binary, to be someone I'm not. We need more to break this cycle.

I don't need to be "fixed." I'm not "broken." I'm not an alien. I'm not a hermaphrodite fantasy. I'm a person. I'm me.

It was hard enough to be a kid and black, but intersex too? If existed then, I'd know what I know now: I am not alone.

I'm lucky. Living my truth is my . I don't have "normalizing" surgery scars. Those who do have to live with an injustice.

Isolation. Stigmatization. Fetishization. Fear. These don't have to be the center of our world. We have to rid of the shame.

Tweets of my Fellow Intersex People:

Jennifer Levine @jennlevine
 
I found out at 16 I couldn't have kids, at 27 I have XY chromosomes, and at 31 that I'm . We need , not surgeries.

Christian@KarensVampyre 
 
I'm not a dyke I'm not transgender I'm not a freak nor am I with down syndrome I am Intersex I love Me :)

Amythest Schaber @AmythestSchaber
 
I am , and my body is perfect the way it is. No one gets to make me feel differently.

Kassidy Bartels@KLouisebartels
  
When I was 15 I had a doc tell me I had cancer so I would remove my internal testes because she needed to make me normal

Elena Hight@enhight89
 
When stop trying to trying to fit people into boxes and learn to accept, that's when we can all grow

Amanda Erb@mandaErb
 
Hard to trust docs when they only see your diagnosis and not you as a person. also callous questioning abt my body

Sean Saifa Wall@SeanSaifaWall
 
I want the medical community to be held accountable for the emotional and physical TRAUMA leveraged on intersex people.

 Amythest Schaber@AmythestSchaber
 
not surgeries! No child should ever have their body subjected to *unnecessary*, *painful*, *non-consensual* genital surgery

 Claudia Astorino@intersexgrrrl
 
what would the world look like if we stopped stigmatizing people and our bodies? we exist - celebrate us!

The Best of the Best Tweets From Intersex Awareness Day


Aram Hosie (@AramHosie):

Today is Awareness Day. Intersex people deserve bodily autonomy and the right to a life without stigma and discrimination.

The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject):


Today is and we support all. Call the Trevor Lifeline if you need us at 866-488-7386.

Senthorun Raj (@senthorun):

No one should be forced to undergo medical interventions to make their body fit into a binary.

Venus Selenite (@VenusSelenite):

Today is . Please use today (and every day) to inform yourselves and erase stigma about intersex people.

Katie Stevens (@thekatiestevens):

Today is ! I am proud to be on a show that shines a beautiful light, support and love to all of our intersex fans!

Being on we have worked closely with . Check them out! Become aware!

Cole Ledford (@ColeLedford11):

Reminder today for ; you are valid, you are loved, and you are just as important to our community as anyone else!

Planned Parenthood (@PPact):

Today is ! Let’s tell NOT surgeries. Learn more:

Super Duper Rare Intersex Q&A: Your Questions, My Answers!



Q (from Justice McPherson): Is there a strong overarching intersex community? I'm never quite sure what to say because I don't know what the community agrees on in terms of language, etc.

A:  Absolutely! We're a small community, but mighty when we come out of the woodwork and join forces (usually on Facebook and Twitter) to communicate, learn from each other on the varieties and complexities of all the intersex conditions that exist, what we share in common in our journeys with its highs and lows, and so forth. One example of this is our #IntersexStories Twitter Storm:



Here are what the community agrees on with terms (in general): 

- NEVER call someone or anyone a "hermaphrodite."

- Don't assume everyone's gender neutral. Intersex people can identify with any gender, man, woman, both, or neither. 

- Respect people's privacy (like don't ask someone "So what's the matter with you?" or "May I see your genitals?"). It's common sense not to ask nosy questions, but people do, and it's rude. Nobody's entitled to ask intrusive questions and nobody owes it to anybody to give them an answer. Respectfully let people reveal something private and personal about themselves in their own terms.

Keep these things in mind, and you'll be fine! We don't bite ;). Most of us are a friendly bunch.   


Q (from Craig Clark): From what you have observed, is there any one group that Intersex identify with more than another? For sample Bisexual or Pansexual ? Thank you for your time on this topic. I understand that there will be some variety in this answer, thank you.

A: Honestly, not really. I'm pansexual. I've met some intersex people that are also pansexual, but I've also met a fair share of those who identify as straight, lesbian, gay, and bisexual. I've yet to see any one particular sexuality dominate. It's a pretty nice and balanced variety in the community. 



Q (from Scarlett Knight): Do you find many religious (we'll say Christian) people in the intersex community given that the bible talks so much about gender roles and makes no mention of any third pronoun?

A: Actually, I haven't (yet). I can imagine that religious (Christian) intersex people are out there. What I deeply admire is that for LGBTQI people in general, from what I've noticed, that when it comes to their religion, they put their sexuality aside and focus on what really matters: their faith in God. Even if the Bible is against them, and for intersex in this case, even though there is no mention at all of intersex, all that matters is that they believe despite the odds. Isn't that what faith is all about?


Q (from Justice McPherson): What are the biggest and most annoying things you have to deal with on a day to day basis that come from being intersex? Is it basically just the same annoyances that trans people deal with, or is there some other headaches that people don't usually think about?

A:  Ooh, this is one loaded question that gives a lot of food for thought! First, here's the difference between transgender and intersex. Most transgender people were born with a body that's typically male or typically female, but the gender they were assigned at birth does not align with how they identify at the heart. Intersex is when you were born with a body that's NOT typically male and NOT typically female, and how they're gender identified at birth usually entails either the baby getting corrective surgery without consent (and in some cases, not even with the parent's consent), or where the parent chooses a gender for the child that they feel is "best" (based on the child's outside appearance, usually). These are not only two entirely different definitions, but the experiences are too unique to say that transgender people and intersex people are the same. People often lump us together as one and the same when we aren't. "Transgender" and "intersex" should never be used interchangeably and "intersex" should never be used to justify why someone is a trans male or a trans female (that happens a lot, which adds much unnecessary confusion). But safely, I can say that despite our remarkable differences, there are things like the fetishization, objectification, stigmatization, the transphobia, and so many other things of this nature, where if we got together and talked about it, we can go "Oh yeah, I relate to this!" or "OMG, I know how you feel, that happens to me too!" And some intersex people (like myself) shared the same gender identity issues as transgender people do, and can also feel that their assigned gender does not fit with their actual gender identity. Are the annoyances the same? Sure, but it's very different. What I deal with is not going to be the same as what a transgender person (MtF, FtM) deals with. Like for instance, most people know what "transgender" is. Most people on average have never heard of "intersex" let alone met an intersex person. So with just about every person I get to know personally, not only do I have to explain my gender identity, I have to also get into what intersex is, simplifying it best I can. That's  double the ignorance I'm faced with. And unfortunately, not everyone has double the open-mindedness. More frustrating is when/if I meet someone who knows what "intersex" is, they use outdated and stigmatizing language like "So you're half and half," "in-between," "part male, part female," or the worst, biggest no-no of all: "hermaphrodite." It's challenging for people to understand intersex people in a world where we're still pretty invisible (even within the LGBTQI community). And since "intersex" is still not in the mainstream either, most people have no clue about the term, don't know how to behave when they meet an intersex person, etc. I don't take it to heart. I can understand why their ignorance is there. They can't help it and it's not their fault. Most people when knowing me, they will listen, learn from me, "get it," and treat me no differently than before they knew I was intersex while others cannot or will not change (and those were the ones that would boast about how "open minded" they are). The biggest annoyance of all is how unpredictable and yet predictable people can be. People take their visibility and inclusivity for granted. For someone like me, it's not a given or just there. I have to work a little bit harder for that and acceptance too. It's annoying and a headache, but with a heaping dose of positivity, patience, and understanding (it's a two-way street), I can only hope that with time, things will be easier for us and people will do better.


Q (from Amber Morant)Just curious but I know you are intersex which means you are born with both genitals and a bunch of other medical stuff that goes into it and such but being trans does that mean you were operated on then as a kid and they did the wrong genitalia removal? Or more so you are trans in the sense of fluidity or ace? Just curious and confused.

A: I was very lucky. Sadly, many intersex babies are operated on without consent, but I wasn't. Neither my parents or the doctors wanted me correctively operated at birth (they call it "corrective surgery"). They did the right thing by not "normalizing" me. They let me have my male and my female genitals as they naturally are. I love my body as it is, unique and different. Outside of the transgender community, people only think of "trans" as MtF and FtM. In actuality, there are many faces of trans, and I'm one of them. I identify not as a man, not as a woman, but agender. I don't identify with "male" or "female" despite being raised as one gender but perceived as another (that's a whole other complex and complicated story!). Agender can also mean "genderless." Some will call it "gender neutral." They/them/their pronouns. My genitals don't speak for me. It's my heart  and mind that always knew what I am, just a person that can't, doesn't, and won't conform to the gender binary of man or woman. That is what makes me "trans." This may seem confusing, but I'm not confused!

I hope this "trans umbrella" helps too. Under this are the many identities that hold their distinctive journey and experiences. Not lumped together or one and the same, only uniquely their own. 




Q (from Julie Mouton)Do identify with one gender more than another?

A: I deeply admire the feminine aesthetic, but it doesn't fit right on me. I feel most comfortable expressing myself in the masculine. 



Q (from Karen McCrary): I was curious though of your opinion about gender mark on a document. Do you think including a intersex spot would help or lead to more questioning and problems, ie: airport security?

A:  As of now, there isn't a third/"other" gender marker on most USA documents. We aren't there (yet) at accepting the fact that there are hundreds of us out there that identify with the non-binary/gender non-conformity. If/when this does happen, I honestly don't think it would create any issues. Maybe some raised eyebrows in the beginning, but since when has that hurt an entire nation? I believe that having a third/"other" option would only help make the identification of intersex folks easier, more fair (instead of forcing us to have to make a choice between F or M on the document), and will further make this country a place of equality for ALL, the non-binary included. 


Q (from Julie Mouton): I read Middlesex and in the sex scenes it doesn't mention the main character climaxing. Why?

A: That is the quirk of the literary genre ("general fiction") where the sex scenes don't explicitly "show" the climaxing. That's left for the reader to imagine. In real life, contrary to where the book might have implied that the intersex character didn't or couldn't climax, intersex people do have orgasms! 



A major THANK YOU to everyone and their wonderful questions! I'm going to keep this an open space for people to continue asking questions below and I'll answer them as soon as I get them! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

LGBT Film Review: My Beautiful Laundrette

Synopsis:

Stephen Frears was at the forefront of the British cinematic revival of the mid-1980s, and the delightfully transgressive My Beautiful Laundrette is his greatest triumph of the period. Working from a richly layered script by Hanif Kureishi, who was soon to be an internationally renowned writer, Frears tells an uncommon love story that takes place between a young South London Pakistani man (Gordon Warnecke), who decides to open an upscale laundromat to make his family proud, and his childhood friend, a skinhead (Daniel Day-Lewis, in a breakthrough role) who volunteers to help make his dream a reality. This culture-clash comedy is also a subversive work of social realism that dares to address racism, homophobia, and sociopolitical marginalization in Margaret Thatcher’s England.

My Review:

At last, My Beautiful Laundrette is given the Criterion treatment, and here's why: more than a classic, it is practically a landmark of British LGBT cinema. It's a slice of life comedy/drama that's more than a story about two men who fall in love, but about Margret Thatcher's England of the 1980's. This period was melancholy, racist, political, and damned by classism/class discrimination. Director Stephen Frears is far from afraid of critically examining it through his camera lens. Everything about this movie feels so authentic and down to earth. And it's extremely character-driven: we have Omar (played by the gorgeous Gordon Warnecke), a young man who is a poor relation to a wealthy Pakistani family, his unscrupulous and amoral uncle, Uncle Nasser, who takes Omar into the family business, and the incredible Daniel Day-Lewis who flawlessly plays "Johnny," Omar's working class pal, lover, and boyfriend. The heart of the story is about Omar taking that old, broken down laundrette and turning it into a successful business. What's not to love about the underdog turning a dream into a reality? And what's not to really love about Omar and Johnny? Despite their differences, they gel, they're utterly adorable, and they sure are one attractive couple. This movie has it all: stand-out characters, a great love story, a few laughs, the "gay content" that was a big deal in the 80's is ridiculously tame and minimal now (two kisses, a lick on the neck, one steamy love scene, and one more kiss), but still sexy, and with all the political, cultural, and family drama, it's not surprising that My Beautiful Laundrette made an impact then, and it still does now.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

On Appropriation: We Can Do Better

Somebody asked me the other day about appropriation, and I summed it up as this.

Appropriation in a nutshell is:

"I want the culture/the fantasy, but not the reality."

"I love the culture! But not the people."

There are countless of people who have written about this in much detail and with more passion, so I'm not going to go essay-mode about this. I don't want this to be a rant. My general feeling is: 


Appropriating a culture is not wrong in and of itself. It's when those appropriating the culture have no respect for the people is when it's not only wrong and uncomfortable, but disturbing. And when there's also a lack of empathy for the people, and yet they want to appropriate the culture, well, that just makes the person selfish. Whether we're talking about writing, music, art, etc. it's not about saying "You can't do this." Anyone can and will write, for instance, outside of their experience. That's not the issue. I have a big problem with it when they don't want to learn from people who are of the experience, and instead think that their ego and their research is enough for them to think that they know as much if not more than people who are the experience. What ticks me off most though, is when those appropriating think that it's their job to tell our stories, as if we don't have a voice and can't speak for our own experiences. I'm talking specifically, for example, the trans and intersex experience. We have a voice. Let us use it, write it, draw it, tell it, etc. We can tell our own stories. We don't need somebody not of the experience speaking for us and being that loudest voice in the room at that. It's okay to write that story with the hopes that more will understand what's not your experience, but it's pretty self-serving when it's only about you, when it's not about you. Contrary to the assumption, we aren't broken. We don't need to be saved. We are okay. Things are getting better. Respect, listen, love, and learn. It's supposed to be a mutual thing, not self-righteous, cavalier, and egotistical. We're in this world together. We're all human but we aren't the same. Our uniqueness is what makes this place beautiful. As long as we keep respecting, listening, loving, and learning from each other, we will all be okay. Appropriation is NOT okay when it's more about someone wanting the culture and yet want nothing to do with the actual people. It's just not right. We can do better. 



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Björk Marathon: The Remixes - Vulnicura


As if Vulnicura wasn't emotionally heart-wrenching on its own, these remixes are sweepingly moving. She released these remixes in a 3-part series, first introducing them, their collaborators, and their backstories of how they came to be on Dazed. Here's Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 - worth the read!

What also makes these remixes special are their format - on vinyl, and clear vinyl at that!


It's perfect for the LP's theme of emotional transparency. And speaking of emotional...all of these remixes are too good. They are all my favorite. The top 5 that touched me the most, though, are:

Family (Katie Gately Remix)


Remixed by: Katie Gately

This "Family" is haunting - I hear what sounds like children crying with the beats marching onward.

 Lionsong (Kareokieijd Remix)


Remixed by: Mica Levi

Without the vocals, this "Lionsong" is cinematic, haunting, and beautiful.

History of Touches (Rabit Naked Mix)


Remixed by: Rabit Naked 

The "History of Touches" remixes (all of them, really) are better than the original version. The Krampfhaft Remix is one of the best of them, and so is this one. They're darker, more alive, and heart-wrenching.

Lionsong (Choral Mix)


Remixed by: Untold

This choir-like "Lionsong" sounds ironically more chipper, but juxtaposition it with the theme and vocals, this is pretty sunning.

Mouth Mantra (The Haxan Cloak Mix)


Remixed by: The Haxan Cloak  

Haunting and heavily epic with an extra dose of Haxan Cloak.

Seriously though, ALL the Vulnicura remixes are impressive. And also this strings (acoustic only) version of the LP. The power of remixes - as is the power of this album - truly amazes me.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Super Duper Rare Q&A!

October 26th is Intersex Awareness Day!


On top of sharing intersex-related articles throughout that day and sharing some of my personal experiences on Facebook, I was thinking how much fun it would be to have a Q&A.

From now to October 26th, you can ask me intersex-related questions that you feel comfortable having me post publicly on 10/26 on my author page (and on here) and I'll give ya an honest answer. If for some reason you don't want your name published with the Q, I can say it's from "Anonymous" (I won't take it personally!). 

The only thing I will say as far as questions go, please refrain from asking me:

- Can I see pics of your genitals? (NO!)
- Can you get pregnant? (That's creepy)
- How do you pee, do you menstruate, etc.? (Um...why do you want to know?)

Yes, these questions have been asked before, and they're three of the most awkward, weird, and dehumanizing questions you can ask anyone but especially to an intersex person.

In the past, people on here have asked me lovely questions about dating, gender identity, pronouns, non-binary/non-conformity, and sex.

Let's make this fun, positive, and educational! I can't wait to see your questions if you have any. Also keep in mind: I'm only one intersex person. My journey and experiences won't represent all.

Ask away below or message me privately at vanessa.n.clark@gmail.com.

* Sorry that I have to add this disclaimer, but unfortunately I have to address to the authors: this is a Q&A, not an opportunity to plug your book where you have an intersex MC. People have done this only to not ask me a single question. NONE. Just to plug the intersex MC/book and run. That deeply bothers me. It was pretty much a slap in the face. So please, even if you're looking at this as "book research," keep this about real-life. This is about real intersex issues, and I and all intersex individuals are real people, so please keep this and treat us as such.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Björk Marathon: The Remixes - Volta & Biophilia (Bastards)


I'll be straight up honest: I didn't like the Volta remixes. The remixed versions didn't sound too different from the studio versions. That or they were too annoyingly "busy" to be enjoyable. The only standout remixed song from Volta for me was "Wanderlust" (I loved it so much that I bought the "very very limited edition" LP package that includes 2 vinyls, stickers, 3D glasses, CD, and the music video!). Seriously, you can't beat the gorgeousness of the cover art for this one.


My favorite "Wanderlust" remixes are:

Wanderlust (Matthew Herbert Remix)


This is easily and instantly a very cool remix. I like the "stomping" sound of it, gives "Wanderlust" even more urgency.

Wanderlust (Ratatat Remix)


Now this one is amazing! It sounds darkly extraterrestrial in the beginning and then it's otherworldly optimistic with those skittering beats and this rift that sounds guitar-like. This remix has so much creativity, color, and character that it's pretty crazy and absolutely impressive.

Wanderlust (Mark Stent Instrumental)


Remixed by: Mark 'Spike' Stent 

I love this. Sweeping, gorgeous, and somehow even more powerful with just the instrumental.


Biophila was one beast of a project. Its remixes are no different. They're so beastly in fact that Björk did a remixed version of the album called Bastards. This makes it her only 2nd remixed album (the first one she did was Telegram, a remixed album for Post).


Many fans found Biophilia hard to get into. Bastards is more immediate, easier to connect with, catchier, and more upbeat. I love Bastards so much that honestly, I think it's better than the original! I love just about every remixed song on Bastards, but here are my most favorite:

Virus (Hudson Mohawke “Peaches and Guacamol” Rework)


This song's about love and you can just feel it in this remix. Absolutely beautiful!

Sacrifice (Death Grips Remix)


This is one of those remixes that makes you go "damn!" or "holy shit!" It's that good.

Mutual Core (These New Puritans Remix featuring Soloman Is. Song)


This remix is so rich in sound that it creates a universe and a story in your mind. And as the song progresses, it takes you even deeper into that universe and story that your mind created. Of all the Biophilia remixes, this one is the best. I just can't love it enough. It's so stunning.

 Mutual Core (Matthew Herbert’s “Teutonic Plates” Mix) 

                                        

As if this song isn't already awesome, this "Mutual Core" kicks ass.

Thunderbolt (Death Grips Remix)


This remix has character. It's crazy, mad, and very sexy.

Thunderbolt (Omar Souleyman Remix)


"Thunderbolt" with a Middle-Eastern/distinctively Arabic flavor. What's not to love about this?

Solstice (Current Value Remix) 



While the original "Solstice" is slower, this one takes off as something else entirely different, and it's extraordinary.

Moon (The Slips Remix)


While the original "Moon" might be too slow and dare I say boring, this "Moon" sounds like it came from the heavens! So stunning, ethereal, beautiful, and it just almost makes you want to dance!

Crystalline (Matthew Herbert Remix)


"Crystalline" is my least favorite song from Biophilia, but this "Crystalline" on Bastards is so good! It sounds aggressive and urgent but is softened by these beats that are crystal-like. Especially at the song's finish. It sounds like sparkling crystals are actually falling from the sky. What a nice touch!

Other Biophilia remixes that I love that were released separately are:

Hollow (Current Value Remix)


"Hollow" (next to "Dark Matter") is the most inaccessible track on Biophilia. This version is not only immediate, but even spookier-sounding than the original.

Cosmogony (Matthew Herbert Mix 1)


I felt that "Cosmogony" didn't need to be remixed because it's fine as is, but this is breathtaking. It sounds so "airy" as if "Cosmogony" is being sung in outer space and slowly landing on planet Earth.

 Cosmogony (Matthew Herbert Mix 2)


This "Cosmogony" is marching to its own beat and sounds electrifying while doing it. 

Thunderbolt (King Cannibal Remix)



This is 11-minutes of one fascinating remix of my favorite song from Biophilia.

Virus (Matthew Herbert's 'fever' Mix)


Another 11-minutes of divinity.  This "Virus" sounds eerie and more sensual. 

And lastly, Sacrifice (Matthew Herbert's Pins and Needles Remix)

* Only one section of this remix was included in Bastards. This is Matthew's remix in its entirety.


This is the most powerful song on Biophilia. Matthew Herbert's remixes are always the best, usually so ethereal and sensual. Something about this one is extra special. It's layered with glitchy, sparkly, and cinematic beats that somehow makes "Sacrifice" even more powerful and moving. 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Life Is Peace, Bowie, and Drag!

Is it just me, or has this year went by soo fast? So many awesome things have been going on for me, and it looks like I'll be having even more fun adventures to look forward to, like...

Imagine Peace


That's right, I'll be taking part in an official Guinness World Record event! Last I heard, an estimated 6,0000 people will be there, and I'll be one of them. Every year, NYC does something very nice and special to commemorate John Lennon's birthday, usually something low key at Strawberry Fields (that's not too far away from The Dakota). This will be their most special event yet for him! This should be fun, interesting, and all around warm, sweet, and loving because it's all about peace.   

Lazarus 


David Bowie has said many times in the past that he has wanted to write a musical, and well...here it is! Based off of the novel, The Man Who Fell To Earth (where David famously starred in the movie), David teamed with Enda Walsh to write Lazarus, a play inspired by the book. This will also feature songs by David himself, so that means that all those who attend will be hearing new music from David (and we know how rare that is, nowadays). This play will only be here from November 18 - December 27. I'd be crazy to miss out on something this special and rare.

Around the fall/winter season is also when more of my favorite queens come to NYC at my most favorite LGBT cabaret club/bar, The Laurie Beechman Theater. I'll be seeing and meeting:

Courtney Act: Head to Mistletoe 


Courtney is one of the sweetest queens, so much fun to kiki with, and she can SING!

Holiday Hi-Jinkx 

 
What can I say, I LOVE my singing queens. Nobody does it better than Jinkxy (and the dapper gent is her piano player/partner in crime, Major Scales. No, they aren't dating, they're just best friends!).

Latrice Royale will also come to town, but I'm not sure when yet. As soon as I do, I'll have to see her as well because it has been too long!

Whew! I'll be busy!