“Stonewall”: Why Comfort is Dehumanizing

The realization of my transness while being a part of your “average” white upper class household has both broadened my world view and drastically changed who I am as a person. Pre coming out 5 years ago, I was “normal”, above average, and another “cis hetero white chick in Uggs” to be proud of. Upon donning men’s clothing and hair cut for my own comfort and self-love, I became “psychologically disturbed”, not successful enough, and the black sheep of the family. Although these words were rarely spoken aloud, I could feel my family’s atmosphere about me change within the micro-aggressions, disappointed looks, and lessening gestures of compassion. I was suddenly “less than” in their minds for being transgender. And through these new feelings being expressed to me by my family and others, suddenly I became “less than” to myself too. Here is where I learned about privilege and what happens when you defy society’s fitted box.

Of course, I’m sure a lot of people’s coming out stories were more successful and ended in acceptance. Many more probably began with them fighting from an early age with their parents about “being different” instead of my choice to hide beneath my parents’ expectations for so long. Either way, part of me is glad I hid. I got to have cis passing privilege for the first 17 years of my life and felt a brisk sting from society when it was taken away. The difference between those who have privilege and those who do not is that those who have it are considered human.

This is why representation is important. This is exactly why what Hollywood did to “Stonewall” is absolutely disgusting.

For those unaware of the historical Stonewall Riots, the event was the beginning of the gay rights movement and near the end of the civil rights movement. In 1969, it was legal to be arrested for being gay and for wearing the clothing of the opposite sex, since at the time the DSM still considered homosexuality a mental illness. There was an obsession with conformity to be heterosexual, cis, and white because society said so. Especially so, since the Cold War placed a fear in America of Communism, and at the time all that was un-conforming was communist. Of course this was wrong. Those affected knew it was wrong. And during a police raid of a popular gay bar in Manhattan known as Stonewall on June 28th, 1969, transwomen of color took action against this injustice.

But, how can this be? The trailer shows the leader as being a cis white gay man! Huh.fuck this guy

If it’s not clear to you by now, I’m very upset by this inaccuracy. I’m upset because people of color are still being harassed and killed by the police. I’m upset because my transgender siblings and I cannot use the bathroom in certain places without being harassed, fined, or arrested and can still legally be killed in some states. I’m enraged that the LGBT community has celebrated about legal marriage and then forgotten about the transgender suicide epidemic and the murders of trans women of color. It is 2015.

It says a lot about privilege, I think, when a movie that should have been dedicated to the successes of the non-white, non-cis, and non-hetero community, the most unprivileged part of the LGBT community, is both cis and white washed. What, is society not ready for “too many” queer and POC individuals? So unbelievably unready that Hollywood was literally willing to change the accuracy of arguably the most important event in queer history to a cis gay man, someone that society is “somewhat okay” with?

It’s heartbreaking to see heroes of the community silenced in their own movie. Those who started the movement, who longed for a better world where they would be seen as human are still not seen as human to this day. It’s like trans women of color have been left behind and forgotten so that the slightly more privileged can have their rights.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s amazing. It’s astounding. It’s fantastic that we now have marriage equality. Being queer is finding its fit among society and sure, it’s taking some time, but everyone knows someone who is gay. Gay people are loved and accepted finally, for the most part. We still have things to work on, but where we are now with this issue considering the past is great. It’s the cusp of what Stonewall stood for.

But that doesn’t make it right or okay to erase an important part of LGBT history and especially an important achievement for transgender women of color for the sake of the rest of society, who are allowed to feel human and comfortable in their own skin, to feel even more comfortable. Representation, especially accurate representation of this moment, would have provided this specific underprivileged group a reason to feel that same comfort. They could have been reminded that what they do and what they say does have purpose and merit in the world. Yet, what they will get instead is society’s version of the stereotypical gay male inaccurately saving the day.

By all means, if you want to view this film. Go ahead. Find it online. Rent it when it comes out. However, I along with many others shall be boycotting this one. It doesn’t deserve recognition for the more harm it will cause than good. No one is learning anything about POC or transgender individuals from this at a time when people really need to. That little itch of discomfort might cause the world to wake up to the fact that cisness and whiteness does not determine success. Here’s to Stonewalling “Stonewall”. Because no one, no matter how privileged or underprivileged deserves to be left behind.

accurate stonewall

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Science Questions and Jurassic Park

I saw the Jurassic Park movie over three weeks ago and I enjoyed it immensely. However, as I watched the movie, I could not help but wonder if there was anything in the movie that could be answered by science. I decided then and there to put a question as a Facebook status update to see if I can answer any science-related questions about the movie. To my surprise, I received some replies. Below are replies to some of the questions I have received.

1. How far can you really run from a dinosaur while wearing high heels without being eaten?
The movie’s deuteragonist, Claire Dearing, spends the majority of the film in high heels – even being chased by life-threatening raptors by them!
Sadly, science proves that you can’t run far in high heels.
Neil Cronin, a biology professor at University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, states that the impact of the foot in a high-heeled shoe “would be concentrated over a small region of the foot in high heels, creating regions of very high pressure.” In simple words – foot pain. Running in high heels is a “very inefficient way to move.”
Even though it’s common knowledge that wearing high heels is detrimental to feet, until now there haven’t been many studies to prove that statement. In a study performed by Hanseo University in South Korea, women who wear high heels for an extended period of time experienced decreased ankle strength and balance problems.
Would that make you reconsider running in heels altogether?

2. Were the Velociraptors really that big?

Velociraptors are a staple of the Jurassic Park universe, appearing in all four movies. In all of the Jurassic Park movies, they are double a man’s height:

The truth: velociraptors were the size of a small turkey. Here is a picture for reference:

In addition, fossil evidence from Mongolia showed that Velociraptors had feathers, not scaly skin as seen in the film. However, the arms of Velociraptors were too short, so they were unable to fly.
The Velociraptors in the Jurassic Park movies were based on Deinonychus, a much larger raptor.
3. So InGen decides to go and build Jurassic World on Isla Nublar, the original site of Jurassic Park. InGen also had Isla Sorna aka Site B, the main setting for The Lost World and Jurassic Park III.
Even though the island is restricted, does it seem possible that InGen made a second Jurassic World at Isla Sorna?
At the end of the movie, the chief geneticist Dr. Wu was helicoptered off the island with the dinosaur embryos. At the end of Jurassic Park III, pterosaurs are seen leaving Isla Sorna seeking new nesting grounds. Even though the island and its facilities are abandoned, InGen still owns the island, since there is no mention in the Jurassic Park canon that the company has sold their island. So yes, it could be possible that InGen could have made a second Jurassic World on the island.
4. Are pterodactyls actually strong enough to pick up full grown people?
No.
Pterosaurs (their proper name) have rather slender feet. The pterosaurs have only four flat forward-facing digits on their feet. An example of pterosaur feet can be seen below:

Check out these muscle diagrams after the jump:

Look at how thin the foot muscles and bones are! This means pterosaurs would be unable to grab prey the same way a bird of prey would grab prey, since birds of prey have highly developed bones for that exact purpose.
Another factor to consider is weight. Let’s use birds as a comparison example. Birds have a tendency to kill and fly off with prey that weigh smaller and have a smaller mass. It’s safe to assume that pterosaurs do the same thing based on fossil records and estimates—the average pterosaur weighs 35 kg (77lbs). Considering that in the scene the woman being lifted must weigh at least 60 kg (approximately 130 lbs), there is no possibility that pterosaur could have properly lifted that woman into the air and took flight.

Sources
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/science-weighs-in-on-high-heels/
http://gimpasaura.blogspot.com/2015/02/people-snatching-pterosaurs.html

ConnectiCon 2015: The Return Home

ctconIf you’re an avid Con-goer like myself, you most likely have that one con you look forward to slightly more than all the others each season. For me, it’s always been ConnectiCon. It was the first three day convention I ever attended and every time my feet grace that overly-red patterned carpet it feels like I’ve returned home. This year was no different.

The first thing I noticed about CtCon 2015 was the more organized line system. Although I was busy supporting my datemate in their panel before receiving my badge, I did notice on my way to the room that the pick-up took place predominantly within the lower lobby of the hotel instead of on the con floor itself. This continued throughout the weekend and kept the flow on the con floor open. Also, lines for autographs were in the dealer’s room this year, which seemed to work out very well, too. Especially considering all the big names that attended this year, like George Takei and Nichelle Nichols.

The dealer’s room for the avid con-goer is always a forest of deja-vu (in a good way, of course). It’s always nice to see familiar faces in the booths along with friends in the Artist Alley. It’s cool to track the progress of vendors and artists with what new merchandise and creations they bring in. It felt more spacious and open in the room this year, which was nice. It was a great atmosphere to decompress in after running from panel to panel.

Speaking of panels, I’ve been on numerous, but had the wonderful opportunity to run one myself this year on transgender metaphors in fandom. It went really well and I would love to run this particular panel and others in the future at the con! The rooms are large, cool and a staff member is always present to deal with crowd numbers, tech and time organization between the previous panel and the next. CtCon is usually very on top of organization like this and it’s extremely helpful to panelists. People who attend panels at CtCon are always engaged and lovely to meet and discuss with. It’s part of the reason why I love paneling at this con.

A panel I attended and enjoyed was the Five Nights at Freddy’s Live panel, which had people playing the game for the first time while the panelist explained the science and game design reasoning as to why it is terrifying. It was extremely educational along with a lot of fun. At the same time the Masquerade was taking place along with a fire work show outside of the con. There always seems to be some event going on that’ll peak your interest. Another plus to this amazing convention.

The one problem about CtCon is finding food, which was something that recently has been solved. With the festival that takes place outside the con’s perimeters, a plethora of food trucks provided cheap meal options throughout the day. A closer Subway opened in the Science Center near the Convention Center along with more restaurant options across the street from the main entrance. And as always, there’s a Starbucks, the Convention Center’s signature $7 chicken nuggets, and ice cream!

The only ongoing issue I have with the convention is the bathroom policy. This probably has more to do with the Convention Center itself and Connecticut’s transgender laws, but it would be nice if the convention would find a way to make the Center more inclusive for the weekend, especially in an environment where so many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals attend. There were once again problems with assigning a gender neutral restroom and transgender attendees getting reprimanded by Convention Center staff for being in the “wrong” restroom. That caused me, as a trans person and boyfriend to another trans person, significant discomfort all weekend. Worrying about bathrooms shouldn’t have to be something I worry about at a convention where people are so open minded. As I said though, this may be an issue the con itself has no control over, sadly.

Although it went by fast as always, I would give CtCon another 9/10 this year, as I do every year, for always being home-like and full of the friends I’ve missed. Yeah, it might not be the world’s largest convention, but if you go, you’ll fall in love with the atmosphere and the people. Definitely go.

The Music of Jurassic World.

John Williams wrote the iconic theme and film score for Jurassic Park, a movie I was raised on.  Williams also composed the film score for the sequel Lost World.  When you talk or even think about Jurassic Park, John Williams’ music comes directly to mind. That being said, how is it possible to have Jurassic World without John Williams composing the film score? Easy. You hire Michael Giacchino and ask him to compose something to match John Williams’ theme.

First a bit more information about Giacchino.  At fist I did not even know who he was.  One Google and Wiki trip later I find out that he has been composing beautiful scores that we all know and love.  He has composed scores for Lost, Alias and Fringe as well as, the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty games.  More impressively, in my mind, he wrote the scores for Mission: Impossible III, The Incredibles, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Cloverfield, Ratatouille, Up, Super 8, Cars 2, John Carter, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Inside Out, and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. So he’s not some random guy that popped up out of no where to be a clone of John Williams. No, he’s a really cool dude that has an awesome portfolio to back him up.

I am not saying that the music in Jurassic World is of a lower quality, it is quite the contrary.  Giacchino did an amazing job blending his own compositions with John Williams.  It can be clearly heard after having been re-watching every Jurassic Park film for the entire week leading up to the release of Jurassic World.

I was going to go through song by song and scene by scene to compare and contrast the music of both movies.  Instead I would like to share a quote from anther article written by Christina Radish.

So, how challenging was it to pay homage to one of the most famous composers and one of the most well-known film scores while still making the music new and your own?

GIACCHINO: The great thing about John’s music is that you could stick it anywhere and it sounds amazing ‘cause he’s just the greatest there is. For us, as fans of the film, neither Colin [Trevorrow] nor I wanted to make a Jurassic Park movie without hearing that theme. It was about saying, “Okay, where can we put it? Where does it make the most sense?” Colin had this idea that the beginning of the film is delivering on a promise that was made 20-some years ago, when we said we were going to make an actual functioning Jurassic Park. So, what we thought was, when we show that, that’s where we should deliver John’s theme. It was a really targeted approach, as to where to do it and where would make the most sense and where would we most appreciate it, as fans ourselves. And then, there were a couple more places, here and there, in the rest of the film, where we thought we could use a little bit, but it was a very targeted thing. We really thought it out. When you heard it, we wanted it to mean something. I’m lucky, I work with guys who allow and really love music and they love melody and they love those sorts of scores. But, so many movies these days are made where you could have just thrown anything into the movie and it wouldn’t matter. So, it’s really wonderful to work with people that respect that old school way of doing it. I feel very lucky.

With that being said, I have nothing more to write.  Included in this article is a link to the article written by Christina Radish and a link to the Spotify Playlist Geek Spectrum – Jurassic Music, which has both albums.  Please take some time to listen to both soundtracks to fully understand how amazing both Williams and Giacchino are.

Geek Spectrum – Jurassic Music
Article by Christina Radish

Queeroes #2

Hello and welcome to Queeroes! I had to skip last week due to finals and moving out and getting situated back at my own house for the summer, but here it is! The next post!

Last time on Queeroes, I wrote about Bobby Drake and how he was outed by Jean Grey. After writing about it, I went ahead and read some comics, you know for research. It makes reading his scenes 10x better when you picture him as a closeted gay man. Try it.

This week I’m going to write about:

Alan Scott!

greenlantern

Alan Scott is the OG Green Lantern in the DC franchise. I wanted to write about him because this is another example of how comics can take a character who never previously seemed homosexual and make them that. Because representation is awesome. Nice.

In 2011, Alan Scott was revamped as a gay superhero in DC’s Earth 2. He became an openly gay man dating Sam Zhao. The two were on vacation, Alan proposed, everything was hunky-dory when all of a sudden tragedy strikes: the train they were on crashes, leaving Alan as the only survivor. This is when Alan becomes The Green Lantern, as The Green appears before him and asks him to become the protector of the Earth.

Okay so Alan was revamped to be a gay man, which is great! There’s nothing to say he couldn’t be gay, so they went with it. But will DC ever do anything else with him?

Beyond appearing in Earth 2 comics, I doubt it sadly. I want the new Green Lantern movie to be about him, but it’s impossible to tell now, and I sadly have my doubts.

However, Alan is a great character and offers great representation. He’s well cared for by the writers, even if they killed his boyfriend. If nothing else, he’s amazing as he is. Even if I’m bitter and want more.

Alas, I’m not a huge DC fan, so I apologize for how subpar this week’s article is. If you have any suggestions, feel free to message me! Does wordpress have a messaging option? I don’t know. Here have my email in case it’s not public: abdicatedempress@gmail.com

See you next time on Queeroes!

The Superpowers and Tools of the Avengers Can Be Explained by Science! (Well, Mostly)

To celebrate the release of the superhero movie Avengers: Age of Ultron this past weekend, the American Chemical Society just released a new YouTube video on their Reactions channel.  In the video, Dr. Raychelle Burks, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, gives easy-to-understand scientific explanations behind the Avengers’ superpowers and gadgets.

According to Burks, Iron Man’s suit would most likely be made of nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy that is both light and durable. The reasoning behind this is because Iron Man’s original and gold-titanium alloy suits would weigh 150 lbs. and 350 lbs. respectively, which would impede Stark’s movements.  So much for Iron Man zipping around buildings.   In addition, the suit may also include graphite reinforced with carbon fiber in order to protect his feet from his rocket boots.  I don’t know about you, but burnt feet isn’t something that Tony Stark would have tolerated, given his flashy nature.

In addition, it is plausible that Iron Man would have created a new element to power his arc reactor.  Scientists have created 20 of the 118 elements of the periodic table, which are shown in pink and purple below:

1176px-Periodic_table,_good_SVG.svg

Burks also tackles Captain America’s and Black Widow’s healing factor abilities.  She deduced it all boils down to his white blood cells.  A special type of white blood cell, called a macrophage, release chemical messengers called growth factors to heal wounds.  In a normal human being, this repair process takes between 2 to 5 days to complete.  In the case of Captain America and Black Widow, their macrophages are super industrious due to their biotechnological enhancements.  These macrophages are working overtime in order to pump out more growth factors to heal bodily wounds quickly.

What about Captain America’s shield? It is made from vibranium, which is a durable ultra-tough metal frequently mentioned in the Marvel Universe.  It may be fictional, but it can conduct energy transfers seen in real-life science experiments.

cap shield

In a scene from the first Avengers movie, Thor strikes Captain America’s shield with his hammer.  Both Captain America and Thor are knocked backward but the shield emerged unscathed.  Burks explained that the vibranium in the shield absorbed the impact from Thor’s hammer, converting its vibrational energy to light energy.

thor striking captain shield

The vibrational energy of the hammer is kinetic energy—energy it has because it is moving—to the shield, a stationary object.  The hammer’s energy is then transferred to the shield and becomes potential energy—which is stored energy the object possesses because it is not moving. The product of this energy transaction is light energy.  If the shield was not made from vibranium, this energy transfer would be enough to break it.  But because of vibranium’s unique nature to absorb all kinetic energy directed at it, transfer it to potential energy, and store it in its molecules, the shield is virtually indestructible.

See? The Avengers may be created out of the comic writers’ and artists’ imaginations, but perhaps their abilities were more based in science than was previously thought.

Steven Universe, The Visual Representation of Love

If you haven’t watched Steven Universe yet, do it. Drop everything you’re doing and watch it now. Literally, right now. Yeah, its finals week, but your GPA is not as important as this show is. Okay – I’m totally exaggerating, school is important too, but definitely treat yourself to an episode or two after studying a bit because this show is absolutely revolutionary and is exactly what every kids show needs to be: uplifting, intelligent, and so heart wrenchingly and irrevocably full of love. In fact, the show itself is love. Steven Universe is quite literally a visual representation of love.

You know how with every fandom you can usually spot your character in the first five minutes? Wave goodbye to that, because there’s going to be a lot of, “MY BA- no wait, this is my – but what about…?” and then passing out. You most likely will not have a favorite character since every character from the very beginning of the opening credits is going to be your favorite. Even the side characters are going to be your favorite. Even Onion (especially Onion) is going to be your favorite. Every single character is engaging in their own unique way, each character has an inner conflict that within their own subplots of the show you watch them deal with. No one is two-dimensional or just seems to “be there”. They’re all your babies. The amount of “feels” you are about to embark on for the inhabitants of Beach City are overwhelming.

You will also notice that the representation is fantastic. Especially for those who usually get absolutely zero representation. Not only are the Crystal Gems nonbinary, but they are feminine presenting and use female pronouns. There’s this sad stereotype within the nonbinary community that to be androgynous identifying, one has to be masculine, which is the furthest from the truth, since there is no right or wrong way to be nonbinary. Femme nonbinary people often get the shaft or their identities are ignored because of this, which is unfortunate. But look, we’ve got some badass femme presenting nonbinary Gems destroying those stereotypes now. On screen for all to see.

Many, many sexualities are represented. We’ve seen two femme identifying gems kiss each other on screen, when in years past on Cartoon Network lesbian representation could not be blatantly canonical (aka the Bubbline fiasco). Bisexual (or pan, or queer) representation is seen through Sadie’s character, where she has feelings for Lars, but has also been seen blushing over Stevonnie, who presents femininely. There is also the widely accepted head canon (please, oh please, become canon) that Sadie and Lars are a trans girl and a trans boy.

There’s a plethora of racial diversity to the point where it’s actually a realistic portrayal of humanity for once instead of a white wash party. There are the Pizza’s, Garnet, Mr. Smiley, Connie and her family, and Onion (…?). You’ve got your body positivity! Steven and Greg are chubby. Amethyst is short, Garnet has wonderful hips, Pearl is a little bird. Rose Quartz is the size of all the love she has to give to the universe.

Most importantly, female representation. There are more females and femme identifying individuals on this show than men rather than the other way around, which is the usual. Steven is the only masculine identifying one amongst the powerful gems. Connie is wonderful. Connie is flawless and in her own sense is a positive representation of the “fandom girl”. I could literally rant about every single one of them, but then this would become a novel.

Even better, the representation is so subtle because it should be. By doing this, the show itself promotes the idea that you deserve to be yourself and do not need justification for it. So many shows today either shove the representation in your face shouting, “LOOK WHAT WE DID. WOW. SO PROGRESSIVE” or the “representation” is there to make jokes. In Steven Universe, people’s identities are just not a big deal because they shouldn’t be. The show is celebrating the intelligence of the audience, of children by doing this. Children will see that Garnet is black, that Steven is fat, but they know the imminent invasion of Earth is a lot more important to discuss.

On important issues; love. Familial love, friendship, romantic love. Steven, the innocent yet vastly intelligent little boy is surrounded by the love of those who raised him; Garnet, Pearl, Amethyst and Greg. It is seen that they each teach Steven different lessons on life and love, yet as we learn, the opposite is more of the truth. Steven is the glue that holds these four together in their healing from the loss of his mother, Rose Quartz. I won’t go into too many details, but a lot of what each gem is personally going through is some dark and serious stuff. For a kid’s show, its deep, but the depth of the lessons kids watching are receiving from this show is exactly what, I think, they should be learning. It’s done in such a light hearted way because the characters are so pure. So much is gained for all who watch this show. It shows the viewers the importance of healthy love for everyone in your life. Hell, the idea of fusion itself can be an allegory for so many different forms of love, but I think that’s an article for another day.

I don’t even have a real conclusion for this. Just please watch it. I can promise you it will change your life. And listen to this:

Bruce Jenner: One Giant Leap For Mankind

I was a bit terrified when it was announced that Bruce Jenner was going to appear on 20/20 to talk about his (he has asked for male pronouns, presently) gender identity. Rightfully so, of course, considering the tabloid with purposefully horrendous photoshopped pictures, the news plucking at Bruce’s personal life as if he were a side show, and the paragraphs upon pages of harmful slurs in reference to him made the transgender community feel a lot less safe. 2015 had been previously dubbed “The Transgender Tipping Point”, yet by that same media the message that Bruce was mentally unstable and Angelina was abusing “Shiloh” rang within our community’s ear like a mantra. So I don’t think any of us were prepared for what occurred last Friday.

It was one of the most respectful, truthful, and progressively eye-opening interviews a transgender person was allowed to give. Ever.

There are some mixed opinions on what the effect of the interview will have. I’ve read people not downplay it, but hold more of “it is what it is” stance. Other’s were apathetic; since why should we, the transgender community, care so much about a rich white transgender woman celebrity, when the voices of those who struggle with acceptance, with abuse, finances, and most importantly, death are always stifled? An opinion on the issue that really resonated with my own was Trans activist and YouTuber, Chase Ross (uppercaseCHASE1)’s video discussing how this was the transgender community’s Ellen DeGeneres moment.

He talked about the Janet Mock interview where she also referred to Jenner’s interview as such. No one knew about gay issues before Ellen’s coming out, nor was there a lot of positively portrayed gay characters represented in the media as just characters instead of being the punchline. The trans community is at a similar point, and like what Ellen’s coming out did for the acceptance and normalization of the gay community, Bruce’s story will bring transgender individuals a similar situation. I don’t think I’m being too optimistic when I say, yes, I think it will. This is mostly due to how revolutionary the interview was in how well it was handled.

Diane Sawyer let Jenner speak freely of his story and did not once diminish his voice with her own commentary. It was a conversation instead of an interrogation. The correct information was given to the audience in a respectful, non-biased way instead of taking stereotypes of the trans experience and boxing us in to a “one size fits all” situation. Bruce Jenner was never a “manly man”. Chase mentions this within his own video, which had been the most important part of the entire interview for me, personally.

So often the media, even other transgender individuals, refer to what I deem this “one size fits all” narrative. That, as a child in their original sex, the individual was either the ultimate “butch lesbian” and “tomboy” or the epitome of “flamboyant” in a way that when they eventually did come out as transgender, everyone “saw it coming” since being hyper masculine and hyper feminine are the most obvious markers of one’s gender in society. Which, Bruce Jenner, the Olymic athlete, the “manly man”’s story proves wrong. Gender is much more complicated than that and being transgender is so much more than how we present, which is a fact that the transgender community has already known for ages and now society knows too.

There is no right or wrong trans narrative; there is only your own. It’s tough, its unique and most importantly it’s valid. Tons of narratives, in fact surprisingly most, like Bruce’s, you would never have guessed. This was the moment of the interview where I began crying; when Bruce’s first wife and other family members discussed their initial shock, then acceptance. Finally, my own story was being presented and recognized as being “trans enough”. Before I came out, I was the least likely suspect for being a transgender male. I wore make-up, scarves, I enjoyed (still enjoy) stereotypically “girly” things. I had been called a tomboy in jest before, since I was quirky and also grew up loving stereotypically “boy” things too. Not a single person ever found that suspicious, even though for years I was anxious in liking anything remotely “masculine”, even though I was what I would describe now as being feminine neutral. I wore “girl” clothes that seemed a bit more in-between to be more comfortable, I struggled with stifling more of my masculine traits. I viewed myself as sticking out as a sore thumb, a sorry excuse for your basic girl, but apparently I “passed” well enough. Yet, when I came out, I was met with shock.

That’s the thing about trans folk. Before we come out, a lot of us are great actors (ironically, I did theatre. It brought me the most comfort and peace within myself because I was able to escape myself). Like Bruce, I knew something was up from a young age. I didn’t know what it was, but I just knew being a boy seemed more familiar and natural to me than girlhood was. It wasn’t even anything to do with gender stereotypes; I wanted the bare chest, the short hair, the ability to be as rowdy and rambunctious as I wanted to be without being made fun of anymore. It was so intrinsically deep within my personality and I just knew. I had no word for it. I was sure I wasn’t gay (especially since the term lesbian just never sat right). But the catch was this; I didn’t want to admit any of it. It was too weird and I knew it would hurt a lot of people. So, like Bruce, I conformed as best as I possibly could. I did the absolute best with what I was given, until the word “transgender” first graced my computer screen in 2011 and I saw a way out.

Bruce’s pain is identical to my own and I’m sure, many others out there as well. Hiding our personal truth was so much easier than destroying those you love. Letting them believe that your acting was method so you wouldn’t feel like a stranger that they were responsible for creating. The hardest thing for many transgender people to overcome is guilt. Bruce didn’t want to upset the country he inspired, the ex-wives he had loved, those ten sons and daughters he cherished to no end. He waited 65 years through the dysphoria, the stagnant life shearing past him, every moment of self-hate for one act of selflessness. This is so important for us with unaccepting families, the us who cannot speak up for ourselves out of fear, the us who acted our lie too well that now no one believes us, because we are now visible. We now exist. My mom watched the interview and for the first time since I’ve been out, I didn’t get silence from her but a text, saying, “Trying to research Dr. from Children’s Hospital Boston that was on Bruce Jenner special…perhaps he could be a good resource. Love you.”

This was the most important to me, but there is so much more to this interview that was progressive. A Doctor assured that being transgender just happens. It is not a parent’s fault, nor does the way a child is raised have anything to with it. Trans people come in all ages, all forms of life, and all different gender identities. Not just the binary male and female, but genderqueer, nonbinary, androgyne, agender, Two-spirit and everything far and in between. Gender and sexuality are not the same; there are gay trans men, lesbian trans woman, and bisexual genderqueer people, along with, again, all combinations far and in between. This information might not get into everyone’s heads all at once, but it is out there and a better understanding of what it means to be transgender will come from it. What used to be baby steps are now becoming giant leaps towards society changing.

I know, personally, Friday even if nothing comes out of this interview and we’re all back to square one again, I gained another trans hero and positive influence. And a new mantra:

“I’m saying goodbye to people’s perception of me and who I am. But I’m not saying goodbye to me. This has always been me. [When you think of me], please be open-minded. I’m not this bad person. I’m just doing what I have to do.”

Queeroes #1

Hello and welcome to the first update of Queeroes, a series where I will write about queer superheroes, though it will probably end up extending into all media. For now, let’s focus on superheroes.

And this week, we’ll be focusing on my absolute favorite: X-Men. X-Men is basically an allegory for most minority groups. Some people say race, some people say queer, some people say disabilities. While I love all these ideas, I’m going to talk about the queer allegory.

There are some mutants who are able to hide their abilities, such as Professor X and Magneto. However, other’s are stuck having their abilities out in the open, causing them to be judged and even attacked. This is similar to sexuality and gender.

Let’s say Professor X represents being gay. Being gay is something you can hide. (It’s a shame most people have to.)

But then there’s Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler can’t hide his mutation, I mean, he’s blue! This can be similar to transgender people. Lots of times, it’s extremely hard for trans folk to hide the fact they are trans (due to cissexist ideals on how people should look but I digress.) In this case, Mystique could be considered a trans person who “passes” or “blends.” She is able to hide her ability, but she is still a mutant and could still be found out due to any slip ups.

Onto the queer superhero of the week! While I’d love to go on about, say, the possibility of queer feelings between Havok and Darwin in First Class (though Havok/Banshee is the otp) or even the entirety of the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, I’ll be sticking to just one character.

And that character is:

*drum roll please*

Bobby Drake!

As you probably all know, it’s been revealed that Bobby Drake, or Iceman, comes out as gay in All-New X-Men #40.

After commenting on a female character’s “hotness” (in his words,) Jean Grey questions why he is hiding that he is gay.

bobby drake

While he’s basically outed, it’s still an awesome thing. Not only is Iceman a gay superhero, but he was one of the originals.

People were confused, as older depictions of Iceman identifies as straight, but I think it’s totally plausible. Often times, queer people have to hide it, so why couldn’t Bobby Drake be gay while saying he’s straight?

All-New X-Men writer Brian Michael Bendis commented on how the X-Men franchise is able to make this work. Due to time travel, there’s lots of ways a character’s story line can be developed past what we think we know based on installments from the future. In Bendis’s words, “This is just the first little chapter of a much larger story that will be told.”

So good for you, Bobby Drake! Even though Jean Grey outed you, I think it’s still awesome that you exist! Even if your future self has to claim to be straight, it’s still awesome to know the truth, because that in itself can be inspiring.

See you next time on Queeroes!

After All These Years, Facebook is Still Being Used by Teens

Ah, teenagers.  They are the self-claimed connoisseurs of recent trends in whatever topic interests them, from music to fandoms to even methods of communication.  If you’ve been around them in some capacity, you might be hearing some of them state that Facebook isn’t in anymore and Snapchat is all the rage. Fear not – they’ve been exaggerating. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, Facebook is the most popular and frequently used social media platform among teens. (By the way, the same report states that Snapchat ranks third in popularity.) This can be attributed to the fact that most teens have access to a smartphone.  The majority of teenagers (77%) surveyed have a smartphone, and out of those with a smartphone, 94% of them go online from mobile devices daily or more often. Facebook Pew

These findings contrast with the results of a report conducted in 2014 by the investment bank Piper Jeffray, which stated that Instagram is the number one social networking website used by teens at 76%.  Facebook placed third in that particular survey with 45%. Why?  Two words: Sample size.  The Pew Research report only surveyed 1060 teens, while the Piper Jeffray report surveyed 7200 teens.  As you can see above, the Pew Report surveyed its subjects in two one-month increments.  The Piper Jeffray report surveyed teens at shorter junctures in two points of the year: spring and fall of 2014. The Pew Research report also revealed that teens from a higher-income stratum are somewhat more likely to use Snapchat.   In addition, boys are more likely to play video games than girls, with 91% of boys surveyed have or having access to a game console, compared with 70% of girls.  This last fact is startling, considering that more people game (including the columnists here at Geek Spectrum!), according to a 2014 ESA study on gaming in the United States. After viewing these statistics, one can only conclude that not only posting cat pictures and filtered selfies on your wall are still in vogue among teens, but also how smartphone technology has become a large factor in their (our!) day-to-day lives.  Besides, don’t adults also post cat pictures and fawn over them?