Decision Time for #VATMOSS

A big meeting of EU finance ministers is taking place next week in Dublin. Some politicians do appear to have got the message that the current system is a complete disaster. However, many are still holding out and insisting that small businesses sign up to an administrative system whose costs, both to them and to government, far outweigh the amount of tax likely to be paid under the scheme.

As Juliet McKenna explains here, we have a chance at that meeting to persuade the EU to act. We may get some sort of emergency provision that will introduce a turnover threshold below which businesses don’t need to register. It doesn’t have to be that big. Wizard’s Tower would do way less than €1000 worth of cross-border business each year, were I able to trade. Hundreds, possibly thousands of other businesses are in the same position. But if nothing happens in Dublin it will be 2017 or 2018 before we are likely to get another chance.

So yeah, another thing I need to do this weekend is write letters to European politicians. If some of you can find the time to do the same, Juliet and I, and many, many small businesses all over Europe, would be very grateful. Details here.

Posted in Current Affairs, Wizard's Tower | Leave a comment

Life Happens

So as if I didn’t have enough to do, now I need to find myself a new GP (again) and sort out supplies of hormones if I can’t do it quickly. In many ways life was easier before the Equality Act because then if people didn’t want to deal with you they could just say so. Now they are not allowed to be so blunt, so that have to invent reasons for why you are not welcome, and pile on the microaggressions in the hope that you go away.

Still, at least I can afford to go private for hormones (though not for serious healthcare if anything goes badly wrong). Many trans people have to rely on the NHS for all of their treatment. It’s no wonder so many people cite the “health care” they have received as a cause of depression and suicidal feelings.

Posted in Gender, Health, Personal | 2 Comments

Women’s Outlook Does Palestine

Yesterday’s show on Ujima was devoted entirely to the plight of the Palestinian people. Paulette is away on the far side of the Atlantic again, and she had left me with a prepared show full of guests for me to host.

What she didn’t leave me with was music. Given that the Palestinian situation is very much about state violence, I figured I could start with “Hell You Talmbout”, the protest song written by Janelle Monáe for the Black Lives Matter campaign. The song features Janelle, Jindenna and the whole of the Wondaland crew chanting the names of people of color killed by police in the USA this year.

Naturally, having done that, I had to read the names of the trans women of color killed in the USA this year. To get some idea of why people are so worried, here’s an historical comparison:

  • 2010 – 14
  • 2011 – 9
  • 2012 – 15
  • 2013 – 16
  • 2014 – 10
  • 2015 – 20 to date

Here are their names: Papi Edwards, Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, Yazmin Vash Payne, Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, Penny Proud, Kristina Grant Infiniti, London Chanel, Mercedes Williamson, Ashton O’Hara, Amber Monroe, India Clarke, K.C. Haggard, Shade Schuler, Kandis Capri, Elisha Walker, Tamara Dominguez, Jasmine Collins, Bri Golec, Mya Hall.

I also wanted to find music by Palestinians. This led me to discover Doc Jazz, who I was very impressed with. Then I found a page of songs about the Palestinian issue, most of which were hip hop. Scanning through I noticed one artist described with gender neutral pronouns, which is how I discovered the wonderful Invincible. That’s another brilliant trans musician I can add to my playlists.

The first hour of the show began with an interview with Ed Hill, a Bristol-based activist who has made several trips to Palestine and knows the situation there well. He did most of the work putting the show together, and his main interest is the forthcoming European Championship soccer match between Wales and Israel which is taking place in Cardiff at the weekend.

Next up I had a chat with Eddy, one of the founders of the Palestinian Museum in Bristol. Thanks to Eddy and Rita, we are fortunate enough to have the first museum in the world dedicated to the Palestinian people. Washington DC has since followed suit, and Amsterdam is now building one.

You can listen to the first hour of the show here.

Ed Hill came back to talk to me at the start of the second hour. Our main topic of conversation was the arms trade, and how British companies profit from the Israeli military operations again Palestine.

Finally I was joined by the Rev. Sue Parfitt and Eddy Knasel. We wanted to make a point that the campaign in support of the Palestinians is not simply a case of Muslim against Jew, as it is often portrayed in the Western media. Many Palestinians are Christians, and many Jews support the Palestinian cause. Sue is an Anglican minister who has just returned from a visit to Palestine where she helped a local Jewish-run peace organization build houses for Palestinians made homeless by the Israeli army. Eddy is a Quaker, and part of an international, multi-denominational Christian organization called Kairos which is dedicated to helping the Palestinians.

Of course I had to end the show with a shout out to Nalo Hopkinson for becoming the first Jamaican writer to be a Guest of Honor at a Worldcon. Well done, Finnish friends.

You can listen to the second hour of the show here.

The full playlist for the show was as follows:

  • Hell You Talmbout – Janelle Monáe and the Wondaland Jam Authority
  • Rising Tide – Doc Jazz
  • No Compromises – Invincible
  • Gimme Hope, Joanna – Eddy Grant
  • The Lebanon – The Human League
  • Lei Lei – Maryam Mursal
  • Our House – Madness
  • Change is Gonna Come – Otis Redding

My apologies once again to Isaac, my engineer, for screwing up the order of play. Apologies also for the pneumatic drilling that you may be able to hear in the background during the show. There was nothing we could do about that. Hopefully the building work will be done by the time I am back on the air in two weeks time, because I am expecting to interview Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gender, Music, Radio | Leave a comment

I Am Cait – Episodes 4 and 5

The more I watch of the Caitlyn Jenner reality show, the more I become convinced that focusing on people going through transition is a really bad thing. There were some good parts to the last two episodes — the introduction of Kate Bornstein, Chas Bono working with trans kids in Los Angeles, Candis giving a shout out to Holly Woodlawn, the crowds at New York Pride — but the was also a lot of what I had feared from the show: relationship drama. Episode 4 contained various confrontations with members of Jenner’s family; and episode 5 some awkward moments with a guy who used to be a close friend of Cait’s while she was still pretending to be male.

Very similar things can be found in just about every book, comic, film and TV program made about trans people. What the authors or scriptwriters want is drama. The easiest way to get drama is to focus in on the hardest part of a trans person’s life — the point at which they are just coming out and they, their friends and family, are all getting used to the new arrangements.

The other thing about focusing on transition is that it almost inevitably shows trans people as half-and-half. They are moving from the social role that they used to inhabit to a new one; they are waiting for hormones to work their magic. Even avowedly non-binary people often don’t look their best when they are just starting transition. For binary-focused trans people, they are pretty much guaranteed to look their worst.

I’m not just dumping on Caitlyn here. You see it everywhere. It was in the recent Transsexual Stories program on BBC Scotland. From the reactions I’m seeing to the trailer it is going to be in The Danish Girl, the new Eddie Redmayne film about Lili Elbe. Transition is what fascinates cis people — writers and audiences alike.

Caitlyn’s show is at least trying. It makes a point of featuring a large supporting cast of trans women who are long past transition: Jenny Boylan, Candis Cayne, Jen Richards and the amazing Chandi who I am becoming very fond of. All of these women give a glimpse of the sort of person that Caitlyn will become in a few years time. The Scottish show managed a bit of it, with the delightful Jan and the amazing transformation of Carla. However, successful trans women are not the focus of these shows, because there is no drama in their lives.

I have no in principle objection to cis people writing trans characters. In fact I’m pleased that so many of them are trying to do so. But I do wish that they would learn to see us as people, and not just as people going through transition. If you need drama, find it in some other way, not in the fact that we are trans.

Posted in Gender, TV | 5 Comments

A Trip to the Seaside

Weston-super-Mare is a small town on the Somerset coast previously most famous for being home to Jeffrey Archer. These days, of course, it is well known for Banksy’s new Dismaland exhibition. I didn’t go there for that. Tickets are like gold dust right now. But it was Weston’s annual Pride today, and with it being a bank holiday a lot of the LGBT Bristol folks were unavailable, so I offered to head over there and help with the stall. I hadn’t been to Weston in a long time, and with the trains on strike it was a good excuse to take Effie for a nice long run.

I did walk past Dismaland on my way to the park where Pride was being held. Parking was pretty much impossible on the sea front, what with it being a bank holiday Saturday and Banksy. The queues of people waiting to get in were horrendous, and that seemed to be for people with tickets, because you couldn’t buy them at the venue. It was sold out online.

Pride, on the other hand, was very quiet. This was only their second year, and having been a bit cramped last time they had moved to a much bigger park in which there is lots of room for expansion. It is a lovely venue. I wish Bristol had somewhere that nice, but we did rattle a bit.

I did some interviews for Shout Out while I was there, including interviewing the Mayor about Banksy. Hopefully Mary will like what I have got. A special mention to Alec, a young trans boy I met there who has started an LGBT group at his school with the help of a supportive teacher.

Having done the interviews, I decided to head home because they really didn’t need me there. But before I left town I stopped in on the Sand Sculpture Festival exhibition. Weston has a funny beach. The tide goes out a very long way. It almost looks like you could walk to Wales over the mud, but there are some very dangerous channels out there, and the chances are that you’ll get stuck in the mud before you get to water. However, near the promenade the beach is lovely. The donkey rides are famous, and the sand is some of the best for castle-building anywhere in the world. The Sand Sculpture Festival makes use of this to put on an annual display of amazing sand art. The photos on their website are probably better, but I took some while I was there and you can see them below.

Weston 2015
Weston 2015Aug 29, 2015Photos: 35
Posted in Personal, Photos | 2 Comments

Tolkien and Finland, an Update

Earlier today I noticed a BBC article about the “new” Tolkien book, The Story of Kullervo, and its connection to Finland. I tweeted about it. That has got quite a few retweets, but on Facebook it drew the attention of my good friend Jonathan Clements who is a) a scholar rather than a journalist and b) married to a Finn (hi Kati!). He pointed me at an article that he wrote yesterday on his blog that corrects a few aspects of the BBC piece and the book’s introduction.

As is usually the case with Jonathan, he combines erudition with humor. He gives some examples of the truly dire prose of which the young Tolkien was guilty, and also takes aim at some of the wilder claims made about Tolkien and Kullervo, in particular that the Finnish work was Shakespeare’s inspiration for Hamlet.

At one point, the introduction also implies that Kullervo somehow forms a literary ancestor to Shakespeare’s Hamlet — which would require Shakespeare climbing into a time machine, buying a copy of the English translation of the Kalevala in 1888, and then jumping back to the 1100s, Terminator-style, to kill Saxo Grammaticus before he could write the Gesta Danorum.

Of course there is a lot to be interested in about the book as well. I look forward to Jonathan being on a panel about it at Worldcon 75. In the meantime, do read his post. It is well worth it.

Posted in Finland, Science Fiction, Translations | 3 Comments

Attention Cambridge – Coming Your Way

Apparently I have ideas. Or at least they think so in Cambridge, because I have been invited to give a talk at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. It will be called “Challenging the gender binary through science fiction and fantasy”, and the details are Saturday 31 October: 3:00pm – 4:30pm at Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, CB1 1PT. Full details (including a photo by the inimitable Henry Soederlund) can be found here.

The smart people among you will see the reference to Anglia Ruskin and twig that Farah Mendlesohn is involved in this somehow. Indeed, it was all her idea, and she persuaded the University to put forward the proposal to the Festival. Also the event will actually be me in conversation with Farah, rather than an hour and a half of me blathering on. The Festival website seems to have lost this vital piece of information.

Anyway, huge thanks to Farah for getting me this opportunity, and I look forward to seeing some of you in Cambridge for Hallowe’en. Do I need to bring a costume?

Oh, and that title — totally chosen to fool any TERFs who might have a hand in the process that the talk had nothing to do with us awful trans people. Boy are they in for a shock.

Posted in Gender, Personal, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

Dear Kevin, 20 years ago today the Goddess gave you a cat for your 30th birthday. Unusually for a cat, she has stuck around, though she has wandered a long way from home. Thank goodness the Internet is the natural habitat of felines.

I’m very sorry I am not there to look cute and cuddly for you. However, I can at least assure you that there is life after 50.

Feed me tuna now?

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

20 Years Ago Today

I did warn you that there were a lot of anniversaries coming up. Here’s today’s.

Saturday August 26th, 1995. By this time I was living and working in Melbourne, but I had gone back to the UK to do some project work there and pick up some more of my belongings. The project work took me to Edinburgh. My friend Anabelle suggested that I attend the World Science Fiction Convention, which was taking place in Glasgow around the same time. I would know several people there, including Martin Hoare and Dave Langford, and Teddy whom I expected to be in the masquerade, so I figured I might as well give it a go.

One of the things I wanted to do there was see if I could find some Australian fans. At this time I was living as a woman at all times except for work, but the only people I knew in Melbourne were my work colleagues. I wanted some people I could hang out with socially as me. To my surprise and delight I discovered that Melbourne was fandom central in Australia, and that Melbourne fans were bidding to hold Worldcon there in 1999. I offered to help. They explained to me how Worldcon site selection works, and sent me off to vote on that year’s race to see the system in action. (Martin was supporting one of the two rival Boston bids, so he was keen for me to vote as well.)

Instant runoff voting wasn’t new to me — I’d seen it used a lot in student politics — but my diary tells me that I had a few questions and a very helpful American guy behind the desk answered them all for me. I thought nothing more of this, and enjoyed my day at the con, including watching Teddy and his colleagues take the masquerade by storm. Afterwards I had agreed to help my new Aussie friends run a bid party. Who should turn up, but the American guy from the site selection desk. And apparently he was there to see me.

I should note that at this time in history the standard advice to trans women was never to get involved with a man prior to surgery, because he will only be interested in you as a “shemale” and will drop you like a stone once you no longer qualify as such. I was mindful of that, but probably a bit giddy too. I had, after all, never been chatted up by a bloke before, let alone kissed one. I rather liked this Kevin fellow.

The following day he asked me for a date (dinner, the Hugo ceremony, and the firework display). I said yes. It is the best decision I have ever made in my life.

Posted in Conventions, Personal | 11 Comments

Buy This Book, Please

Letters to Tiptree - Alex Pierce & Alisa KrasnosteinYeah, I know I have a short piece in it, but it is a very short piece and the book is full of all sorts of fabulous things, including a whole bunch of Tiptree’s correspondence with Le Guin & Russ.

Alex has written a bit about the book here, including links to other pieces of Tiptree material that have been published recently. To that I’d like to add the academic paper I gave in Manchester this year which talks extensively about Alli Sheldon’s gender identity.

Details as to how to order the book can be found here. It is available as an ebook, so you don’t need to have paper shipped from Australia.

Oh, and someone should probably nominate the book for next year’s Tiptree Award. Lots of interesting stuff already recommended, I see. So many books…

Posted in Books, Gender | 1 Comment

40 Years Ago Today

This is a week of massive anniversaries. Here is today’s.

On August 25th 1975 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band released an album called Born to Run. I can’t remember when I first heard any of it, but I do knew that I have loved Bruce’s music from that moment on. 40 years. That’s some relationship.

To mark the occasion, here is my all time favorite rock song, which also happens to be the opening track of the album.

Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re alright
Oh, and that’s alright with me

Story of my life. I’m still waiting, Bruce. If I hear your Chevy pull up outside, I’ll be straight out.

Posted in Music, Personal | 1 Comment

What’s In A Name?

So, the Helsinki Worldcon is now a reality. The vote tally was officially confirmed at the WSFS Business Meeting yesterday, and the newly seated convention has launched its website.

Very quickly long-time Worldcon attendees noticed something different about it. The name of the convention is Worldcon 75. That’s it. No silly fannish name. No local focus. Just Worldcon. I love it.

Partly that’s because Worldcon has a long history of conventions that have seem themselves as far more important than the fact that they are Worldcons. It is, in a way, an artifact of the resolutely anti-authoritarian stance of WSFS, but it is also a result of jingoism by committees (and not just nationalist jingoism either, city and state pride comes into it too). Helsinki has, in effect, made a statement that it sees being a Worldcon as important, not as an annoying inconvenience. However, they also put out this tweet:

That made me really happy. Looking at what went on in Spokane on Saturday night, and much of the reaction on social media afterwards, I got a very strong impression of a community drawing in on itself. That’s a very natural reaction of a community that is under attack, which it very much was, but it is also a lost opportunity. Thanks to our Morose Mongrel “friends”, we have had an explosion of interest in the Hugo Awards and Worldcon this year. (Over 48 Gb of web traffic yesterday, over 81,000 visitors to the website, lots of interest from mainstream media outlets.) This is a golden opportunity to reach out to new people and welcome them in, not a time for bristling against anyone seen as “not part of our community”. Helsinki appears to be determined to try to grasp that opportunity.

Finally, look at their Guests of Honor:

  • John-Henri Holmberg – Swedish, male; fan and publisher
  • Nalo Hopkinson – Jamaican, queer female; author
  • Johanna Sinisalo – Finnish, female; author
  • Claire Wendling – French, female; comics artist
  • Walter Jon Williams – White male American writer of thrilling space adventures, with Finnish ancestry

They could so easily have had a mostly-Finnish or mostly-Nordic guest list, and I do hope that the convention will also make a big fuss of the likes of Petri Hiltunen, Toni Jerrman and Irma Hirsjärvi. But that is a brilliant set of Guests of Honor. Someone thought very hard about those choices. Well done, Helsinki. Let’s continue putting the world in Worldcon.

Posted in Conventions, Fandom | 5 Comments

Doing Trans History #HistTrans

It was perhaps not the best timing in the world to be spending last weekend in a hotel in Manchester. I was up in the middle of the night on both Friday and Sunday mornings for events at Worldcon. But there was no way I was going to miss the UK’s first ever academic conference devoted solely to the history of trans people. Thank you so much to Emma Vickers and Liverpool John Moore University for putting it on. Here are my impressions of the event.

The keynote speech was given by long-time trans activist, Stephen Whittle. He treated us to a personal account of the history of trans activism in the UK — some of which he was very much a key part of. Stephen is an experienced speaker with a wealth of entertaining and illuminating anecdotes. My favorite was the one about the UK branch of the Transsexual Action Organisation dissociating itself from the US parent organization, in part because they claimed that the Americans were “into the Occult”. I’m pretty sure that means that a lot of the Americans were neo-pagans.

There were seven papers in all, including mine. I’m going to highlight the three I found most interesting.

First up, Jacob Bloomfield, who like me went to great lengths to be there. He is performing at Edinburgh Fringe at the moment. He caught an early train down, and left immediately after giving his paper so that he could be on stage at 8:00pm. His paper was all about cross-dressing revues put on by military veterans after the two world wars. Apparently there were quite a few. Danny La Rue was the most famous graduate of them. It isn’t clear whether anyone involved actually identified as trans, but the circumstances under which they were permitted by the authorities were quite interesting. The fact that the performers were all military veterans was apparently a key issue here as it established their essential virility. There was to be, according to one censor, “no pansy business”. Fascinatingly Jacob suggested that some British people found the idea of Tommy watching men dressed (very convincingly) as women preferable to the idea that he might hook up with some foreign woman while busy saving his country overseas.

Clare Tebbutt had a great paper about “sex changes” in the 1930s. These were nothing like the gender clinic work we know today, though they did center primarily around Charing Cross Hospital. A South African doctor called Lennox Broster became something of an expert in what we’d now call intersex conditions. Many intersex people who had been assigned female at birth were treated by him and a significant number were legally reassigned male as a result. His most famous patient was Mark Weston. The media of the day, having little understanding of the biology, reported these cases as “sex changes” and put them down to the miracles of modern medicine. Reporting was almost always favorable towards the patient, with scare quotes being used for the birth gender rather than the new one. Because of Broster’s particular specialism, the vast majority of the patients were seen as female-to-male, so we don’t know much about how a perceived male-to-female would have been reported, but the media climate then was clearly very different to what we see today.

(By the way, the history of such cases is why Michael Dillon was able to get his legal gender changed so easily, even though he had no intersex condition. The doctors, and the authorities, were used to such cases.)

Finally, my favorite paper of the day, Juthathorn Pravattiyagul on the Thai trans diaspora. Juthathorn is Thai herself, and she has done a lot of research hanging out with Thai trans women in various European cities. Acceptance of trans women is seen as much better in the West than in Thailand, because we have laws protecting us and Thailand doesn’t. That, combined with the obvious economic incentives, has caused large numbers of Thai trans women to emigrate to Europe. Juthathorn has found that the reality of life in the West rarely matches up to their dreams. Partly that’s because of racism, but in addition she found that social attitudes towards trans women are far less accepting in Europe than in Thailand, despite our more supportive laws. I so wish I had known about her work before I put in my submission to the UK government’s Transgender Equality Inquiry as I would have cited her.

It was also great to hang out with friends such as Emma Hutson and Catherine Baker, and to make new friends. I can warmly recommend the 60 Hope Street restaurant that Emma Vickers found for the conference dinner. However, I do have a few concerns about the way trans history is being done.

The majority of the attendees were cis people. Some of them were great. Others clearly don’t quite get it, and it you are doing trans history that’s important. I absolutely accept the idea that we can’t know how people from the past identified. I opened my own paper by saying so. Even if they did, their self-conceptions are likely to be very different from those of a modern trans person such as myself. However, just because we can’t say for certain that person X from the past identified as trans, or as the gender in which they presented for most of their life, we can’t say for certain that they didn’t. To persistently use the birth gender for all subjects, and to characterize them all as cross-dressers, is to erase the possibility of people being trans in the past. Given that the idea that being trans is a modern invention is a key part of TERF ideology, this is deeply political position to take. It is not, as I suspect most of the researchers assume, simply a neutral and default position.

It gets worse too. People do cross-dress for all sorts of reasons. Just take a look at any stag party, Halloween party, Saturday crowd at a Test Match and so on. There are so many more cis people than trans people that my guess is that there were more people in history who cross-dressed and did not identify as trans than there were those who did. Even with eunuchs, who are physically trans, there will probably be more who continue to identify as their birth gender than as anything else. If your “trans history” is focused on the idea of cross-dressing rather than on the idea of trans identities, then you will end up writing a history of cis people and calling it a history of trans people. I do not want to see us go down that route. Hopefully most of the academics involved don’t want us to either.

Posted in Academic, Gender | 1 Comment

Trans Duly Historicised

Well that was fun. Some really great papers, and mine seemed to go down well too. I’ll write more about it tomorrow, but I have to be up at 3:30am for the Hugo Award Ceremony so I’m going to bed now. If you want more of a flavor of the event, check out the #HistTrans hashtag on Twitter.

Posted in Academic, Gender | Leave a comment

Hello World, Welcome to Helsinki!


Well look at that, I think we done got ourselves a Worldcon. :-)

The results are technically pending until confirmed at the Saturday WSFS Business Meeting, but here are the numbers from the count:

  • Helsinki 1363
  • Washington 878
  • Montreal 228
  • Nippon 120

In a 4-way race, Helsinki wins on the first round of counting with 52% of the vote.

Thank you, fandom. See you all in 2017.

I am so very proud of all my Finnish friends right now.

By the way, it won’t be snowing in Helsinki in August. In summer Finland looks more like this:

Finland summer

Posted in Conventions, Finland | 2 Comments

My Sasquan Panel

I managed to wake up in the middle of the night to do the “Exploring Orientation and Gender in Fiction” panel at Sasquan. It was a lot of fun. Many thanks again to Cat Valente for inviting me and providing the Sasquan end of the tech, and also to Heather Rose Jones who is a fellow historian of things LGBT. She has a wonderful online resource here that I shall be spending a long time reading through.

The experience did remind me that 90 minutes is the ideal time for convention panels. Any longer and you’ll probably run out of steam, but any shorter and you’ll barely scratch the surface of the topic. I know an extra half hour doesn’t seem a lot, but when you take out 15 minutes for room change (i.e., a 60 minute slot means a 45 minute panel) and 15 minutes for audience questions you only have a half hour panel. A 90 minute slot doesn’t need to extend either of those, so you get an hour for the panel, meaning you have doubled the time available.

This morning Tero asked me about my experience of participating in a panel by Skype. It was mixed, but I’d still do it again.

The connection to Spokane was a bit spotty. A couple of times I got the dreaded “connection lost, trying to get it back” message. Thankfully the second time worked, but I lost quite a bit of the first half of the panel. Obviously if you are going to do this you have to have a good connection.

Microphone technique becomes much more important if you are using Skype. The mics that are provided in convention centers tend to be sensitive and highly directional. People who keep moving their head while speaking, or who wave the mic around as if they are on Top of the Pops (where, as you should know, everyone is miming) are a menace, because you only get to hear half of what they say.

That goes double for audience questions. Even if you provide people with a mic, the chances are they will mis-use it. Kudos to Cat for realizing this and repeating the questions for me.

Moderators who have one or more Skype panelists should probably keep an eye on the text window. This wasn’t really an issue for us, but if I’d had a problem then texting via Skype might be the only way I had to let the moderator know.

The thing I wasn’t expecting was how much I missed visual clues. I know Cat and Ctein so I could recognize their voices, but I had difficultly telling whether Julia or Heather was speaking, and it was clear that the panel was never quite sure if I’d finished, and was politely not jumping in too soon. Having video as well would probably have helped, except that no one would have wanted to see me at 4:00am.

If there’s anyone who was at the panel who would like to see my lecture at Liverpool University earlier this year, you can find it here.

Posted in Conventions, Gender, Internet | Leave a comment

Girl on a Motorbike


As regular readers will know, my favorite comics character growing up was Jean Grey. But she wasn’t the only redhead superhero around. Reading Gail Simone’s obituary for Yvonne Craig last night, it occurred to me that Babs is probably the reason I grew up loving motorbikes.

Thanks Yvonne, you were awesome. — A Fan

Posted in Comics, Motorbikes, TV | Leave a comment

Book Review – Luna: New Moon

Luna: New Moon - Ian McDonaldThe new Ian McDonald novel isn’t actually out for about a month, but he has been on Coode Street to talk about, and I wanted my review live today so that I can talk about it on the panel tonight. Yes, Ian has done interesting things with sexuality and gender in this book too. My review is a little spoilery, but I don’t think there’s anything much worse that what Ian has already said to Jonathan & Gary. I very much enjoyed the book, and am looking forward with excitement to future volumes, and with some trepidation to the TV series. You can find my review here.

I do hope that people take notice of this book. There are a lot of people out there asking for more diversity in SF&F. That’s a good thing. There are also people trying to deliver, but those asking for diversity often tend not to see it if it isn’t written by a woman and published as YA. I can understand why, but we need this diversity and we shouldn’t ignore any of it.


Posted in Books, Gender | Leave a comment

My Sasquan Schedule

No, of course I am not in Spokane. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be involved in Worldcon. They can’t get rid of me that easily.

As most of you will know, on Saturday night I will be helping Kevin and Mur Lafferty co-host the text-based coverage of the Hugo Award Ceremony. Because of my travel plans, I’ll actually be doing this from a hotel room in Liverpool. The ceremony starts at 4:00am my time. Ouch. You can find information about how to watch the coverage here.

However, it appears that won’t be my only involvement. I may be on a panel too. Tonight Cat Valente is moderating a panel titled “Exploring Orientation and Gender in Fiction”. There are no obviously trans people on the panel, so last night Cat put out a call on Twitter for trans writers who might want to help out. I muttered something about not being there, and to my surprise and delight Cat offered to Skype me in. There’s no guarantee this will work. The tech might not be up to it, and someone at Sasquan may decide that fandom needs to be protected from a notorious Menace like me. However, we are going to give it a try. That means I have to be up for a 4:00am event tomorrow morning too.

Anyway, fingers cross, and huge thanks to Cat for making the offer.

It is a good job that all I’m doing on Friday and Sunday is catching trains.

Posted in Conventions, Gender, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

Historicising Trans Symposium

Tomorrow I’ll be off to Liverpool where I will be delivering a paper at the Historicising Trans Symposium at John Moores University. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends (well, friends I have know for a while who are much younger than me), and to meeting a bunch of of new scholars who are into trans history.

My own paper is going to look at problems with the evidence for the existence of trans people, focusing on cases at the Court of Versailles and in the Inca Empire. As this is a trial run for a paper I want to give at a much bigger conference in London next year I probably won’t put it on just yet. Sorry, you’ll have to wait a bit.

Sadly all of my friends in Liverpool seem to be on vacation right now, but as you will see from the next post that’s probably just as well.

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