Book launch: Gender: Your Guide
On the evening of December 5th, with wet snow falling outside, about 25 diverse people snuggled into a room at the 25ONE Community working space on Bank Street for the book launch of Gender: Your Guide, by Dr. Lee Airton.
It was an interesting evening. Dr. Airton is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. Gender: Your Guide is a natural extension of their teaching, research and advocacy work in encouraging individuals and institutions to be open to gender and sexual diversity. In their opening remarks, Dr. Airton said this book is for now, this historical moment when there is an increased awareness that gender is everywhere. They noted that ten years ago people were asking why we have to make accommodations for gender, while now the discussion is how do we do this? Welcome progress. The book is a “primer on what to know, what to say, and what to do in the new gender culture.”
Dr. Airton read four passages that provided some insight into what the book is about. Among them was their own tale as a child needing – not wanting but needing – a pair of Doc Martin shoes. It was an interesting personal illustration of how kids navigate their experience of gender. Equally interesting was their sister’s encounter with infertility and how something like not having a baby by her late 30s set her outside a “normal” gender category.
A question and answer discussion followed, with an informal book signing afterwards. Gender: Your Guide is currently available only in hard cover, but a paperback edition is expected. The event was a collaborative presentation of Octopus Books, Simon & Schuster Canada and the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity.
I’ll upload a full review as soon as I’ve read it.
Dr. Airton’s gender pronoun web sites are No Big Deal, a campaign fostering the use of correct pronouns (https://www.nbdcampaign.ca/) and TIMP, They Is My Pronoun: http://theyismypronoun.com/ Their personal site is at https://www.leeairton.com/
Going back to go forward
In the print edition of Triple Echo, I frequently wrote more personal items than I have heretofore done online. I’m not sure whether reflecting on my own life is of any value to anyone else, but I was compelled to write the following piece when looking back on the interesting year I’ve had. I hope you find it worthwhile.
This past year I have spent a surprising amount of time conversing with my 22 year old self.
I was 22 in 1977. It was a bad time to be trans and a bad time to be me. I was out of university and I knew what was supposed to happen next: a career and a wife. But that idyll seemed very unlikely for me. I was a closeted 6’3″ trans woman who saw no future for herself. In between bouts of excessive drinking, I thought my best chance at life was self employment. Perhaps there I might carve out an independent space so I could breathe a little. It wasn’t a bad idea, but my hopelessness stifled my motivation and I could never turn it into a credible plan. What I did instead was barely survive on a succession of suffocating government jobs.
John Irving’s In One Person
I’m a little late to the party in reviewing this book by John Irving, first published in 2012. Having just finished reading it, however, I felt compelled to write a few words. It’s simply too good a novel to be quiet about.
For a little while now I have been harbouring the belief that many of the problems transgender people face can be traced to the fact that cisgender people still seem completely incapable of understanding us. The misconceptions they continue to have about us are due to their inability to escape their locked in thinking about gender. This novel has made me rethink that idea. It’s more likely that they don’t want to understand us. John Irving is a cisgender, heterosexual man and yet he’s written a novel that truthfully, bravely, and confidently captures same sex longing and lust, transgender insecurity, anger and resilience, the oppressions the queer community faced over time and the sense that we are all – LGBT and Q – in this together. His imagination, understanding and, indeed, empathy astound me. In One Person is one of his best novels.
Lyra Evans elected Ottawa-Carleton School Board trustee
Congratulations to Lyra Evans who on October 22nd was elected Ottawa-Carleton School Board trustee for Zone 9 (Rideau-Vanier/Capital). As an open trans woman who has experienced homelessness, Ms. Evans will be a powerful voice for students who for whatever reason are marginalized within the school system. Prior to winning a seat on the Board, Lyra was a community organizer, an activist for the LGBTQ community, and an NDP candidate in Ottawa-Vanier in the recent Ontario provincial election. She placed a respectable second in the heavily Liberal riding, garnering almost 30% of the vote. In her campaign for trustee, Ms. Evans opposed the Ford government reverting to the 1998 sex education curriculum and halting revisions designed to incorporate findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Whose bench is this underneath a canopy of leaves along a short winding brick pathway in St. Luke’s Park in downtown Ottawa? The name on the small metal plate reads Adam Prashaw, and there is an invitation too: “Sit down. Relax. Enjoy”. More