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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Jane Grace’

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I know that it has been a really long time since I have written a post, I guess I didn’t feel like I had anything important to say… Recently I have found myself revisiting music and writers that first gave me that desire to fuck shit up and try to make this world a much more open and welcoming place for everyone. I relived that rush that I felt when I found myself in a sweaty room with people that shared my politics, and realized that I was not alone. It is such a great thing to be able to submerge and find refuge in a world that shares your politics and where you are able to grow without fear of judgement, but I am finding that it can also have a negative effect, me being the first to admit this guilt and apathy that has blindsided me for a while now.

I fell on this great article by Amy Adoyzie that shook me. It made me really look at the scene that I associate myself with and what I am really contributing to it. The article Our Booties Ourselves is more a discourse about women and gender politics (their place in the punk rock community), but there is something that she says at the beginning of the article that I would like to share with you.

It really is about time for me to realize that all the self-imposed body criticism needs to go. But sometimes it’s difficult even to acknowledge that we’re tough on ourselves because we—as women involved in punk rock, and as women in general—have to navigate in a world that has become so increasingly self-aware to the point where we think we’re post-gender, post-race, post-all-the-fucked-upness-that-we’re-not-really-post-anything. It creates a space where we don’t discuss these things because we’re supposed to be so over it. But I’m not over it. I’m just getting to it and I don’t give a fuck if you don’t want to hear it because you can turn the page anytime.

This simple statement still swims in my head everyday as I walk to work and try to figure out when did the discussion end? It is so true, we discover these ideas when we are young and can’t shut up about it, to the point that we even start to annoy ourselves. I still remember that first time that I read Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (thanks Jason) and I would confront everyone in my path to talk to them about how they were trying to impose hetero-normative behaviour on me or others around them, I was meant with a lot of judgment and criticism and I just didn’t give a fuck! Now I just assume that anyone at a punk show has read all the literature and is aware of what’s going on… Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as transgendered showed just how a good part of the scene was not ready to have this talk in an open and respectful space; something that should of been a given!

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Then, seeing as no one talks about many issues, we get ridiculous theories and actions like the Commensal’s flexitarian menu. This utter non-sense would not of happened with we vegan/vegetarians actually reminded why we chose a restaurant like Commensal. Now I have to enter a debate with someone about how this notion of flexitarianism is just ridiculous and a total insult to the animal rights movement. Let me explain what a flexitarian is first, it is defined as a “vegetarian” that eats meat on occasion, the last time that I checked I simply called that a carnivore. I mean, its like saying that a vegetarian only eats vegetables and tofu and carnivores only eat meat (no vegetables ever). By that definition, everyone is a flexitarian instead of vegans/vegetarians, or is this just a way to justify that the first vegetarian restaurant chain in Quebec is now like any other restaurant? The worst in all of this, when vegetarians wrote to the Commensal about their outrage, they were told that their choice was so everyone could come eat at their restaurants; because people have to ingest meat at every meal? They seriously can’t sit and enjoy a meal that honours their friend’s choice to live a compassionate lifestyle? My question is, what kind of friend is that? I am exposed to dead animals everywhere that I go to eat, except for the refuge of plant based restaurants, don’t I have to right to be the majority some times? Do I always have to be seen as a disturbance or an extra detail to complicate things? I have been excluded from many social activities because of my life choice and I don’t regret one exclusion, because I am comfortable with my choices, are you?

Also, lately I have been confronted by people, that I consider friends, to be gay because I refuse to participate in the “masculine” activity of the evening and spend time around a table with women and have a conversation. I never knew that games only belonged to heterosexual me, I am shocked to still be confronted with this kind of attitude in 2013; I thought and assumed that we were way past the idea of making activities gender specific. I have not always acted in the most skillful ways, I have even been downright aggressive, but I was so taken a back to think that someone that I consider an equal and friend would see the world like that…

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So, I think that I have bitched and ranted long enough for tonight, what is my point? A good question! I have realized that I must get back on the right path, to not be indifferent about my issues and assume that the people around have progressive gender politics, progressive racial politics, progressive food politics; I have to get the conversation going! At least, I know that I will be challenging people to look outside of themselves and what they view as the “normal” point of view! The thing that still brings me the most growth and satisfaction is to simply challenge myself and take time to wrestle with these things… I hope that you will spark a conversation with someone tomorrow that will make you both get down to the real issues, because that is were the growth and unity truly arise! I am going to leave you all now with a great Black Flag quote : ” Swimming in the mainstream, such a lame dream”… Don’t be afraid to move to the fringes and really get the conversation going!

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I am sure that all of you saw the truly courageous act that Tom Gabel did last week when he came out as transgender. I truly admire the courage that has been displayed, to come out in a Rolling Stone magazine interview is something that I am sure most people would not have to guts to do themselves. In the interview Laura Jane Grace (Tom Gabel, for the rest of this post I will be naming her by her new name that best reflects her true identity) says that she has struggled with transgender dysphoria most of her life and that she could no long lie to herself. She has tweeted that she is completely overwhelmed by all the love and support that she has received from family, friends, and the punk rock community; unfortunately the message boards have also been plagued by ignorant xenophobic comments, people have made it a point of calling Laura gay and ridiculing such an important and difficult choice like the one that she has decided to embark on. First of all, I think that it is important that we look at what trangender dysphoria is exactly, because a person is not necessarily gay if they are transgender; and secondly I think that it is important to send out our love and support to Laura as she embarks on what must be liberating and scary all at the same time.

What is transgender dysphoria? It is described as discontent with the biological sex and gender that is assigned to someone at birth. It is used by psychologists and physicians as the symptoms with transexualism, it is considered clinically distinct when it is noticed in children, as opposed as adolescence or adulthood, it is reported to intensify over time. Just like how gender identity develops in children, so do sex-role stereotypes (sex-role stereotypes are the beliefs, characteristics and behaviours of individual cultures that are deemed normal and appropriate for boys and girls to possess; if one wants more explanations about this I highly recommend the book Gender Trouble by Judith Butler, I find that this book should be read by everyone, it is truly enlightening and eye-opening ) which are influenced by family and friends, the mass-media, community and other socializing agents. Most cultures unfortunately still disapprove of cross-gender behaviour, it results in significant problems for affected persons and those in close relationships with them. In many cases, transgender individuals report discomfort which comes from the feeling that their bodies are “wrong” or meant to be different. One contemporary treatment consists primarily of physical modifications to bring the body into harmony with one’s perception of mental gender identity rather than vice versa. There is no official cause for Transgender Dysphoria, but many believe that it is caused by genetic (chromosomal) abnormalities, hormone imbalances during fetal and childhood development, defects in normal human bonding and child rearing, or a combination of these factors. There are many great resources on the internet that are available in case anyone would be interested in learning more about this, it is best that one educates oneself about what one does not understand.

Here are a couple of links to get you started:

GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) http://www.glaad.org/

Introduction to Queer Theory http://www.theory.org.uk/ctr-quee.htm

Alright, so, here goes… I must first of all say that I am truly humbled to witness someone taking part in such a courageous act, I have so much love for Laura and what she is doing these days and feel that education must also take center stage. At the same time that I have felt inspired by her courage, I have also been extremely disappointed by some of the punk rock communitie’s reaction. I know that there are close-minded xenophobic people in all spheres of our lives, but I have always believed that punk rock was that place, that safe place where we could all be ourselves and no one would judge us because we are being true to ourselves. I mean, I don’t know about your town, but in my hometown, the punk scene was made up of the outsiders that never felt like they fit in anywhere and it was these church basement shows which were a place where we could truly be ourselves without fear of being judged by our brothers and sisters; that is what the jocks and popular kids did all week at school. So, I am sad to see that even though there is a great outpouring of love and support for Laura, we are still met with hateful words and judgments on the message boards. To all the nay-sayers this is what I have to say to you:

Tom Gabel wrote music that made me feel alive, helped me through some hard and dark times, made me feel that I was not alone in this fucked up world full of oppression and hate; and you know what Laura, I am going to give that right back to you! For me this scene has always been about community and breaking all stereotypes and prejudices in society; so let’s keep smashing down those walls that divide us! And to the people that say that they will be boycotting future Against Me! shows because of Laura’s decision to live like what she feels to be right, stay the fuck home, we don’t want you around anyways! Would you want to live life denying to yourself how you truly feel? I know that I wouldn’t, and would hope to get the love and support of those around me. We all strive for liberation, from the shackles that keep us down in our everyday lives, once we start to become free (thanks punk rock, I owe you one!) we start to realize that there is so much more than borders, and that we are all just humans that want to be happy and free! Laura Jane Grace, may you live a life of ease and freedom!

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