After 3 years of managing to avoid it, I tested positive for COVID this morning. A large number of other people at Eastercon are in the same boat. Considering that a large number of attendees, probably the majority, didn’t bother with masks at all, that’s not suprising. OTOH, I wore a good quality mask most of the time and still caught it.

From my point of view, the main issue is that I can no longer go to LuxCon. NHS advice is to isolate for 6 days, and that will take me to next Sunday.

I did have two programme items today, but I was able to attend those virtually. My laptop camera wasn’t working (I didn’t bring the external one) but I don’t suppose anyone wanted to look at me feeling sick. A very kind fellow dealer (thanks Lola!) packed up my table and left the boxes with the Concierge, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Ops got me some emergency medication, and Farah has been shopping for me. Fans are good people.

My experience with COVID thus far is that it doesn’t seem very deadly. It is more like a bad cold that can be treated with the usual medications. Of course that’s very different from the start of the pandemic. I don’t know whether having a light dose is a result of evolution of the virus or the vaccinations I have had, or both, but I’m very relieved.

Right now I feel like I should be able to drive home safely tomorrow, but I will re-visit that when I wake up tomorrow. At least I’ll be in my own car so still isolated.

LGBT History Month is Approaching

At least for those of us on this side of the Atlantic. There is a rational explanation for why it is celebrated at different times of the year on different continents, but I’m not going to go into that now.

Anyway, because things are ramping up here, online talks that I am doing are starting to be advertised. The first three all went live today.

First up I am doing a talk about Le Chevalier d’Éon (or perhaps La Chevalière d’Éon, and there’s a whole discussion to be had about the correct French, let alone the correct gender) for Histfest. That’s on the evening of Feb. 24th. You can book for that one here.

Next up I am doing a talk about Aleksandr Aleksandrov for Bristol’s M-Shed Museum. I’m rather pleased to be able to do a talk about someone from Ukraine, even if he did fight for the Russians (against Napoleon). That’s on the evening of Feb. 21st, and you can book here.

Finally I will be hosting another talk for M-Shed. I’m very much looking forward to this, because it features the Queen of Girls with Swords, Claire Mead, talking about the utterly irrepresible Julie d’Aubigny. That’s on the evening of Feb. 15th, and you can book here.

The M Shed talks are both free. The HistFest one has a £5 price tag. I very much hope that lots of you will sign up for the HistFest one. It’s not much more than the price of a posh coffee, and getting a good audience means that high-profile history organisations such as HistFest will have the confidence to do more talks about queer history. It is great that Bristol City Council is prepared to sponsor the M-Shed talks, but for queer history to establish itself we must show that people are prepared to pay to learn about it.

Talking of HistFest, they have a weekend event coming at at the British Library in April. I’m not on programme, because I don’t have a TV show or a book coming out. But other, much more famous, historians will be there. I’m planning to be in the audience. Dates here, and the programme will be announced before the end of the month.

British Fantasy Awards

So, yesterday the British Fantasy Society announced the shortlists for their annual awards. Much to my delight, I have some involvement in this.

First up, Wizard’s Tower Press is a finalist for Best Independent Press. We are not going to win. Two of the other finalists have won before, and all three have books as finalists in at least one category. But it is nice to be nominated. It certainly brings the press to the attention of more people.

Next up we have Best Non-Fiction where we find Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction. This is the book with my Queer Animals essay in it. It has already won the BSFA Award in the same category. And basically Francesca should win All The Things, because she’s awesome.

And finally, in Best Fantasy Novel (The Robert Holdstock Award), we have SisterSong. I’m really happy for Lucy. This is one of the best uses of a trans character in fantasy that it has been my pleasure to read, let alone be involved with. She’s up against She Who Became the Sun, which is very stiff competition, but I’m keeping my paws crossed.

These being British awards, obviously I know a lot of other people on the shortlists. I don’t have space to congratulate everyone I know individually. But I do want to put in a special mention for my pal Pete Sutton who is up for Best Collection with The Museum for Forgetting. And I want to express my extreme delight that Premee Mohamed has got some recognition for These Lifeless Things, which is a wonderful novella.

See you all at Heathrow in September, folks.

Travel in the Time of COVID

So, Canada.

For the first time in my life I drove to Heathrow rather than go by train. I didn’t see any point in exposing myself to a carriage full of maskless, coughing people. Thankfully the M4 was very quiet.

Due to the additional screening involved, Air Canada asked us to arrive 3 hours before scheduled departure. I did so. There was one person in the check-in queue before me. I was through in 10 minutes.

Terrorisation was also very quick. They are trialling a new security system in T2 which does not require you to remove electronics from hand baggage. I was lucky enough to be selected. Again it was all very quick. I was airside with 2.5 hours to spare.

T2 was fairly empty. My flight was no more than a third full. Had I wanted it, I could have stretched out in a 4-set of seats. Except that masks were manadatory and my super power of falling asleep in moving vehicles does not work as well when wearing a mask.

Fortunately the entertainment was good. I saw Black Widow, and now want to see it again on a bigger screen. I also re-watched Thor: Ragnarok, because why wouldn’t I? If I can’t sleep on the way back I shall put on Fury Road.

And now I am in Montréal where the food is so good I’m putting on weight just looking at it. I gather that it is not so good if you are gluten intolerant, but I’m very happy. There is a convention going on, which is a nice bonus as I’m getting to catch up with a bunch of friends, some of whom, such as John Picacio, I haven’t seen in 10 years.

LGBT History Month – Part 3

On Saturday, Feb. 6th I will be speaking as part of a day of queer history talks curated by Leeds Art Gallery. I’ll be talking about Michael Dillon again (well he is one of the icons of this year’s LGBT History Month), and I will do my best to make this different to the talk at M Shed on the 10th.

There are lots of great talks on the day, and attendance is free. You can register to attend here.

Happy Solstice

With this year being decidedly weird, I have not being terribly efficient when it comes to holiday cards. I did get some off in time, but I totally failed to buy any from Dru Marland. The image above is what I would have sent out had I been more together. Sorry Dru, I will order some early in the new year.

One interesting side effect of the pandemic is that both Stonehenge and Newgrange have been live streaming the solstice. English Heritage have just provided camera images set to music. Sunset yesterday was pretty good, but sadly today was overcast and dull.

In contrast, Heritage Ireland has provided a hosted TV show which talks about how the Newgrange site works. Yesterday morning’s show got a pretty good performance from the sun. You can watch it here (you need to fast-forward to about 14 minutes).

In today’s show from Newgrange, Clare Tuffy notes that while there are still a few days left in the Julian calendar, as far as the solar calendar is concerned, 2020 is over and done. Welcome to the new solar year, everyone. Here’s hoping this one is less scary.

Coronavirus – Day #130

I forgot to post again yesterday, didn’t I. In my defence, I was rather enjoying myself. I finally got to see the Danny the Street episode of Doom Patrol. If that means nothing to you, well Google is your friend. Or you can wait for the new Salon Futura in which I shall explain all. In any case, it was fabulous, and that rather distraced me from anything else last evening.

Things are happening with Worldcon. Announcements soon.

Apparently Bozo went to Scotland today. The SNP were celebrating like it was all of their birthdays rolled into one.

Coronavirus – Day #103

Today I have mostly been working on stuff for next year’s LGBT History Month. You’ll learn more about that in due course. Also I had a 3:00pm Zoom meeting, which meant no siesta. I am very tired so I will keep this short.

Today the weekly rolling average of deaths in the UK ticked upwards again. Only slightly, but that’s two days on the trot.

A Quick Note on Facebook

As of the start of August, Farcebook has no longer ben accepting cross-posting from third party applications such as WordPress and Twitter. Consequently none of the posts I write here will turn up in my Farcebook feed. I am totally cool about this. The only reason that I am still on Farcebook is because so many organisations I work with use it as their primary form of communication. If you don’t like Twitter, there is always Tumblr, though I never log in there so I have no idea if there is any interaction. Being an old fogey, I still use RSS feeds to keep up with a lot of things.

Introducing History Acts

I’ll be back from Finland late on the 14th, but am staying over an extra day because on the 15th there’s a very interesting event happening in town.

History Acts is an organisation that aims to develop links between historians and activists. It is a joint project of Birkbeck and Queen Mary colleges. The next meeting will focus on trans history, and there is a stellar panel including Kit Heyam, Catherine Baker, Morgan M. Page and Clare Tebbutt. Kit and Catherine are good friends whth whom I have collaborated before, and Clare has done some great research on trans lives in the UK in the 1930s. I’m very much looking forward to this. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

I, Film Critic?

Next Saturday (March 3rd) the Watershed cinema in Bristol will be hosting a screening of the Oscar-nominated films, A Fantastic Woman, followed by a panel discussion. The film, which was made in Chile, is up for an award in the Best Foreign Film category. There was some hope that it’s star, Daniela Vega, would also get a nod. She didn’t make it, but the Academy was sufficiently impressed to make her the first openly trans person to get to present an Oscar.

After the screening, there will be a panel discussion about the film, and about the wider issue of trans visibility. It will feature Shon Faye, my Ujima colleague Yaz Brien, Jo Bligh, and me. I don’t expect to have too much to say about the film as I’m not as well versed in film criticism as some of the others, but I will have plenty to say about visibility, gaze and so on if that’s required. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

Hugos Redux

I haven’t had much time, and even less brain cells, to study the Hugo stats. Also I don’t have all of the photos that Paula took for me yet. There will be a proper fashion report in due course. However, in the meantime here are a couple of pictures.

First up, a much better picture of the trophy than the one I tweeted yesterday.

And secondly Emma and Pete singing a victory song in the style of the Little Chickens.

Hello LiveJournal Users

As many of you will know, LiveJournal recently moved their servers to Moscow. As a result there has apparently been a fresh exodus from the platform. I maintain a LiveJournal account solely because people have told me that’s the way they prefer to read my blog posts — what I post here is (normally) cross-posted to LiveJournal. However, if you are all moving to Dreamwidth then presumably I should set up an account there instead.

I’m agnostic about the whole thing. I’m sure that Russian, US and British intelligence services have me noted down as trans. There’s nothing I can do about that. And as far as I know no one had yet tried to block my site because of that. So I’m happy to do what works best for you folks. Let me know.

New Diversity Trust Newsletter

The latest newsletter from The Diversity Trust has been published. As usual there is a lot of good content.

I’m delighted to see us getting into the field of easy reading training. That’s essential to so many areas of social engagement.

Our new recruit, Aaron Barnes, talks about the difficulties of getting proper medical testing when you are very obviously a man but happen to have a vagina.

Berkeley talks about issues affecting older members of the LGBT community — something that has grown in part out of the event we did in October as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature.

There’s a section on the wonderful people at SARI whom we work with on hate crime issues. Some of the stories that they tell about things that happen to trans people in Bristol are just terrifying. Much too terrifying to be put in the newsletter.

Also there’s news of a project being run by Bristol University looking at justice and gender-based violence. There’s more information about that here.

You can read the whole newsletter here.

Eurocon Live

In a week’s time I will be in Barcelona and will be in the middle of my one panel (on same-sex utopias). You might not be able to be there, but the whole convention is being streamed live, and will be available for viewing after the con. How cool is that? Get your Eurocon here.

Tomorrow – Stories of Strong Women

My next Bristol Festival of Literature appearance is tomorrow at Arnos Vale Cemetery. I’m joining a panel chaired by Becky Walsh titled “Stories of Strong Women”. Also on the panel are historian and historical fiction writer, Lucienne Boyce; artist Deenagh Miller; and Jean Burnett who read at the Egyptian Tales event on Saturday and is also responsible for Who Needs Mr. Darcy and The Bad Miss Bennett Abroad.

I am likely to be talking about Fight Like A Girl, Juliet McKenna and other fabulous people and books.

Kingston University Does Gender – Thursday Night

Kingston Uni ad
I have been planning to spend this coming weekend in London for some time, because Trans*Code is happening. Then last week I got an invitation to be part of a panel on gender organised by Kingston University Students’ Union. As it is scheduled for Thursday night, and I have some fabulous friends in London, I am able to do it.

So if you want to come and hear me talk about gender (and more importantly hear Sabah who is amazing, and Soof whom I don’t know but I am sure will be amazing too), then Kingston University is the place to be. Thursday night, 7:30pm in the Clattern Theatre. The FB event page is here. See some of you there.

Science, Smarter Than TERFs

One of the interesting things about supposedly progressive newspapers like The Guardian and The New Statesman is that, while their politics pages are often resolutely transphobic, and quote “science” as proof that trans women are “really” men, their science pages are generally supportive of trans folks.

Why might that be? Well, possibly it is because the understanding of science possessed by the White Feminist clique that does all of the political stuff is seriously lacking.

In view of which, here, from last weekend, is a little history of the concept of “sex chromosomes”. I was pleased to discover that the fact that the whole X/Y thing is simplistic nonsense was known right from the start. What’s more, the idea that X and Y chromosomes are vital to determining sex gained currency because it was championed by a man, whereas the more nuanced view was championed by a woman scientist. Which makes it even more ironic to see anyone who disputes that a Y chromosome is the ultimate arbiter of masculinity called a Dupe of the Patriarchy.

It also makes perfect sense that the sex chromosome idea was favored by eugenicists, because like the TERFs they have an obsession with biological determinism.

All of this comes from a book called Sex Itself: The Search For Male And Female In The Human Genome, by Sarah Richardson, which clearly I need to read. I was particularly amused by this observation from the New Statesman article:

Richardson points to several different groups as responsible for digging genetics out of its chromosome-determining rut: criminal psychologists, clinical physicians and, above all, feminists, whose interrogations of gender and sexuality (often from outside the scientific academy) created an important body of empirical evidence.

Feminists, responsible for persuading scientists to have a less essentialist view of gender? Oh dear. Anyone would think that TERFs aren’t very good feminists.

Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu

I don’t have to say any more than that, do I?

OK, it’s an anthology, and it is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. Sadly it doesn’t seem like there will be an open submissions period. And oddly every single one of the authors lined up to contribute is male. Thirteen of them. I wonder what the probability of that happening by chance is?

Anyway, I’m familiar with the work of quite a few of them, so it should be a pretty good book. You know what you need to do to make it happen.