Blame it on Laura Ingalls Wilder: Deep down, I always wanted to be a pioneer. I wasn't raised on a farm, and when and if we did have a yard depending on where we moved, it was always pretty small. I remember reading one of the Little House books, perched by my window, where Laura and her sister Mary harvested potatoes and turnips to be stored for the winter. I looked out the window of where we lived then, a townhouse my parents were renting, just to see a long row of sidewalk and the window of the replica townhouse across the way. We didn't have a yard then, but I fantasized about planting potatoes and turnips in the flower boxes down below.
Will trans inclusion in the Miss Universe pageant really hurdle us into a world where all gender identities are welcome? The way this battle is being fought and won reinforces the power of "gender gatekeepers," the government and medical officials who determine whether our gender identities are legally recognized.
A recent article in TIME magazine reveals a study that says kids are not getting outside enough. It is the girls who are neglected the most—they're 16% less likely than boys to be taken outdoors. Really?
Who am I, and why am I talking about this? For starters, I live and work as an organic farmer. I initially became interested in organic farming as I become interested in many things—wanting a tangible way to create some good in the world. I help plants grow and thrive, and I do it in the name of growing healthy food for people. We (my husband and I) get to take care and nourish of a bit of earth, using it to grow plants in the most natural way possible, saving it from being used to build a subdivision or parking lot. (Right now we actually rent land that is protected, but you get the idea.) Farmland and forested areas are hacked, clear-cut and smoothed over with layers of fog-colored concrete every day. Instead of vibrant trees and flowers, pale houses bloom right before our eyes to expand never-ending suburbia, as if keeping the oxygen-exhaling, chlorophyll-filed life forms around don't matter. (They're just a bunch of pesky weeds, taking up all that space! Really, the nerve!) Truthfully, our planet is sick. A major principle of permaculture is to "reforest the earth" in order to aid its healing. It doesn't seem to be happening as urgently as it should, but, at the same time, there are positive things happening that give me hope.
Last June, NPR reported that the "end of gender" was near, citing everything from gender-neutral prom courts to clothing ads to suggest that perhaps people aren't so hung up on the male/female gender binary anymore. But despite the growing trend of gender neutrality, the response to disappearing gender constructs in politics and in popular culture isn't always positive.
Today marks the end of my time as a guest blogger for Bitch. Eight weeks and 24 posts later, I've learned a lot from the editors (thank you, Kelsey!) and readers about writing and politics. And the politics of writing. Rather than end off by talking specifically about a particular topic at the intersection of youth, sexuality, and education, I want to reflect on the nature of doing analytical writing at this political nexus.
The Toronto Star reported yesterday that a woman named Jenna Talackova, 23, was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada contest last week "after it was discovered she was born male." The article goes on to emphasize the "authenticity" of Talackova's female gender identity, saying that she "knew by age 4 that she was a girl…began hormone therapy treatments at 14 and underwent sexual reassignment surgery when she was 19 years old." Aside from the somewhat sensationalist language of "discovery" and the way the phrasing of this reportage kind of re-centers the issue of birth sex as an underlying reality, the article seeks to offer critical, social justice-oriented opinions on this situation as an example of trans* discrimination.