Category: Transgender

Trans-National Identity

by Riley Hubby, NYU Florence student 

There are two types of bigotry in the world: one born from hatred and one born from ignorance. The second is more forgivable; people aren’t born knowing everything, and as time progresses, society’s morals and values change. This is a normal part of life.

When I was packing for Italy, I prepared for open bigotry. As a genderqueer, non-binary trans person who usually presents more masculine than feminine, I was prepared for transphobia, or more likely, homophobia. I knew Italy was Catholic, I knew they had pretty regressive views on gay people, I knew about statements the Pope put out about trans people. I was ready.

Instead, what met me at the airport, was invisibility. I wasn’t read as queer. I wasn’t read as trans. No one saw anything different because, as a concept, my identity didn’t exist.

It’s hard to explain the frustration of not being seen as different when difference has defined your life. It’s even more difficult when the people you are confiding in have no grasp of the concept you are trying to describe. Much of my first month here was explaining what genderqueer meant to everybody I met, and then following up with “yes, ‘they’ as a singular pronoun is grammatically correct in English.”

But I can’t be mad at these people. They weren’t trying to be hateful. Even in America, trans issues aren’t widely discussed, much less issues specific to non-binary people. I fully believe everyone who asked just didn’t know any better.

However, for me there’s a difference between being genderqueer in the US and in Italy. I had a community in the US. People I could go to who knew how frustrating the little microaggressions were. People who could sympathize and distract me with a story about how ignorant this one guy they met was. Friends who I could see, and who could remind me, that I am not alone in this identity. I did not make this up. My feelings of binaristic dysphoria are valid, because they feel the same way.

I don’t have that here. I’m the only genderfluid non-binary person in Italy I know. And it’s lonely.

To be a non-binary person in Florence is to be out and closeted at the same time. Think of Schrodinger’s cat, which was both alive and dead until the box was opened. This, instead, is Schrodinger’s closet, except the door is open and the paradox remains. People don’t know I’m supposed to be different. That I don’t see myself in their binary. That their language has no room for me. To them, I’m just another American woman stumbling on basic Italian.

The worst part about it is the internalization of this invisibility. When I arrived, I flinched when people used my birth name, or referred to me with female pronouns. Now it’s happened so many times I barely realize it. I stopped wearing my binder because no one noticed a difference, and all the walking made it hard to breathe. On days when I feel more femme, I hesitate to wear dresses, because pants are the only symbol I can cling to to remind myself I am non-binary. Then I wonder why go through the trouble in the first place? No one will be able to tell anyway.

There are two types of bigotry in the world: one born from hatred and one born from ignorance. I believe the second is more exhausting. The second is explaining your life, your experiences, your humanity over and over again to everyone you meet. The second is politely correcting someone that, after knowing you for three months, still forgets your pronouns, even though they’re “trying really hard” to remember. The second is slipping up on your own pronouns after months of getting it right.

It’s constantly reminding yourself that you are not the person everyone around you sees. That who you really are is someone that doesn’t even exist in their world. And trying your hardest not to get used to that.


(View this post on LPD’s new blog)

Unisex Fashion

Unisex Fashion as illustrated by Givenchy. Photo Credits: Givenchy Fall 2010

Unisex clothing has been a fashion niche for years. Challenging the traditional perception and stereotypes of gender, this kind of clothing and design is becoming increasingly popular and accepted by the majority. Considering this, several questions may be asked: Where does unisex fashion originate? What are the social concerns behind this fashion in regards to gender? What is the relationship between this fashion andgender equality? Read more

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***Words that are italicized in the biographies are included in a glossary at the end of the post***

Elagabalus became emperor of Rome in 218 AD when they were just 14 years old. While there is no definite information about their gender identity or sexuality, there are many clues that suggest that Elagabalus was not cisgender and heterosexual. They were married five different times, to both men and women, although their marriages never lasted for long. They were known for having affairs with young boys and masquerading as a sex worker then purposely setting themselves up to be caught and beaten by a male guard. They often appeared in court wearing makeup and women’s clothing. Elagabalus also reportedly offered a large sum of money to any doctor who could surgically equip them with female genitalia. Read more

Trans Rights FAQ

trans rights are human rights

General FAQ:

  • What does it mean to be transgender? Transgender people identify with a gender that does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. On the other hand, cisgender people do identify with the sex assigned to them at birth.
  • What is the difference between sex and gender? Sex is divided into three categories, male, female, and intersex, based on the individual’s reproductive organ(s) at birth. Gender refers to the characteristics, attributes, behaviors and appearances that are socially or culturally situated on a spectrum between “male/masculine” and “female/feminine.”
  • What is the gender binary? The gender binary is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposing categories of male and female. Gender fluidity steps away from this rigidity and allows the individual to identify with a gender which either varies over time, even day to day, or does not fit into one of the two categories.

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Jack Halberstam and Our Upcoming Dialogue: Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Guide to Gender Variance

jackBorn in 1961, Jack Halberstam, formerly known as Judith Halberstam, is Visiting Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at University of Southern California (USC). As the author of The Queer Art of Failure and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal, Halberstam is well known for his Queer philosophy and works in the areas of queer theory, gender studies, feminist theory, popular and visual culture, and Gothic literature and the horror film, with an emphasis on subculture. Halberstam’s is currently conducting several projects including a book titled WILD THING on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture, the visual representation of anarchy and the intersections between animality, the human, and the environment.

On March 15, Halberstam will give a talk with La Pietra Dialogues on the topics of trans and gender variance, where students will have an opportunity to learn more about the current status and future developments of transgender rights, transgender visibility, and transgender recognition. All students are highly encouraged to join our dialogue!

From the Boys’ Bathroom to the Supreme Court: The Story of Gavin Grimm’s Fight for Transgender Rights

On Sunday, February 12th, the Grammys provided many Americans with a short break from the crushing reality of a Trump presidency. However, one star decided to use her platform to bring attention to an issue that was being overlooked by many anti-Trump movements. While announcing the performance of Lady GaGa and Metallica, Laverne Cox forgot to say the name of the band, but the name she said instead was just as important. During her very brief speech on the Grammy stage, Cox, a trans actress and activist, asked the audience to “please Google Gavin Grimm,” and they listened. The day after the Grammys aired, Google searches for “Gavin Grimm” literally went from 0 to 100. February 13th was the peak of interest in the subject on Google Trends. So, who is Gavin Grimm?

Gavin is a 17-year-old high school senior from Gloucester, Virginia. In 2014, Gavin decided to use the boys’ bathroom at school, because he felt the sign on the door matched his gender identity. Gavin’s mother had contacted school administrators at the beginning of his sophomore year to notify them of his gender identity, and Gavin received permission from school administrators to use the bathroom of his choice. For weeks, Gavin was able to peacefully use the boys’ bathroom without question. Meanwhile, Gavin’s decision to go to the bathroom sparked a massive local debate in Gloucester County, where 66.8 percent of voters voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 63.1 percent of voters voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.

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