Today, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to make it illegal for doctors to proscribe gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth (18 and under).
I am grateful for what a few representatives said in the battle that ended in a vote of 66-28 in favor of this bill.
Rep. England: “You’re saying this is about children. It’s not. What it is about is scoring political points and using those children as collateral damage”
Rep. Rafferty: “Its totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”
I was pretty numb while I read this headline at first. A protective numbness.
I was numb until I reached this quote in the article from Rep. Wes Allen: “Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,”
When I read that, I was angry. I was frustrated by the utter stupidity of it all. I wanted to storm down to that house and explain to this man that going through puberty ~naturally~ or whatever Is A Choice, and a choice with lasting, lifelong repercussions. I want to ask why he thinks the state should be able to make this choice for children: A choice that he states will have lasting effects on their bodies.
I have been fighting my body for years, and if I had been given the option at the beginning to not have to go through that, hell yes I would have picked that.
I’m not a better person for having had two puberties. I’m just sadder.
All I want is to be able to protect those kids in Alabama. I want to protect my trans students from the ricocheting pain I am feeling after this bill. And after all the rest.
In trying to understand who I am as a teacher I found a misconception I had been holding on to: I thought the pull to teaching was math.
(And I do love math I am grateful to have it as a partner in this endeavor I love its definitiveness and ambiguity
Give me good pattern any day of the week and I’ll be happy Or an algorithm a visualization a comparison a mapping a graph a prediction a puzzle
Math is a language where you can express both more and less than you can with words.
Math carries a precision that syllables and sentences never can Yet fails to articulate the finest points of humanness)
But to say I am tied to teaching because I love math is a knot that will unravel under tension. I would not have ended up here if I had not accompanied a bouquet of trans folks On legs of their expeditions: Through crushing expectations Through meeting themselves Through glimmers of expansive freedom Through letting the world in to meet them.
I teach in order to hold a place for these gender explorers and defiers For these norm breakers For these students looking for someone to see them, to know them.
I stumbled into teaching with my crochet hook and calculator with enormous and hazy and overwhelming dreams To chip away at these walls against which my back is pressed To exist where they said we couldn’t To make space for us.
powerful people Think that it is abuse To let me feel free
They want our existence to be reported Our support systems ripped out from under us
They want us gone Because we make them question every lie they ever told themselves about how they were allowed to exist through the world
We make them confront the terrifying expanse that the universe becomes when you realize it is your right to define yourself boundlessly, to be fully human, fully unique and yet the same, fully perfect and yet never not fully a work in progress
There are people Who Think that it is abuse To help me feel free
But who refuse to see the enormously obvious, heart shatteringly painful reality that is That their words rip open barely healed wounds There will be unthinkable, unforgivable pain because of this There will be lives broken and lost.
I want to hold a message of hope. Of ‘we will prevail’.
But it’s hard to stay positive and be a trans person in a world where your right to exist continues to be questioned in new old ways. I’m tired. I’m in pain.
——- Required afterthought: But we will care for eachother And we will care for ourselves And we will be free
There is a lot of discussion around what the math department at my school will look like over the coming years. I rarely contribute to the discussions, sometimes out of anxiety but mostly because I am listening to what others have to say. I want to fully understand where we stand right now and how we got there before I can begin imagining where I want us to go. Here are some things that have come up when I have been thinking about this.
I want us to be a place:
Where you problem solve and model and visualize and predict
Where you learn to communicate precisely
Where you practice seeing patterns and connections
Where you use logical and organized thinking
Where you analyze and critique the world you live in, and brainstorm solutions
Where you come out in the end fundamentally believing in your ability to struggle productively
Where you lean into the unknown and the confusing with curiosity and creativity
Where you learn to ask questions far more than you find answers
quote from C: “I like having options even though I hate making decisions”
reading recommendations from a friend: Heartstopper, The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
pretty sure this is a journaling note when I was panicking and trying to calm myself by writing down all the thoughts: “We are all just human. We are all big and little. We are universes contained within universes. Of course this is hard.”
to acknowledge that I want a child
is to acknowledge that my parents wanted me
that someone wants me
that someone thought the world would be better off with me in it
that without me, something was missing.
and for some reason my soul has trouble accepting that.
Reflecting (~7 months after originally writing this poem): i really want to be a parent someday. i want to be a soft place for a child to land when things get hard (i heard this phrase recently and its stuck in my head. it just feels nice). I want to be a safe space to be imperfect. i want the experience of parenthood. i think i would be good at it.
I don't trust the world to hold me
my muscles remain tense, always holding myself above it
I can’t even let the earth take my whole weight
my whole self
for fear of being too much
I mistake the feeling of muscles relaxing
of giving up control
of allowing myself to melt
version 1.1 12/27/2021
Afterwords: I struggle to allow other people to see me fully because I feel the tremendous weight of everything i am holding every minute of every day, and i couldn’t imagine giving someone else that weight to hold too because it is so overwhelming. but i am practicing both trusting other people to help me hold things, and also practicing sorting through all the things I’m holding and just deciding to put some stuff down. Some things I can put down until tomorrow, or next week. Some things I can put down and just leave them the heck there. Every now and then I need to do a spring cleaning of my thoughts.
This was my first show as the lead costume person. It was the fall production at the school I teach at. I had worked in the costume shop at my college but costuming a 30 person show was quite the learning curve from being responsible for a handful of pieces.
shopping is the last step. the first step is to assess what you already have to work with. That means going through the closet at the school as soon as possible. and that means overcoming the anxiety of having to ask someone to unlock the closet as soon as possible. And that preferably means more than 2 weeks before the show goes up.
when you do go shopping, go with a List.
Stick to the List.
unless something really sticks out and would be so perfect for some specific thing.
but otherwise stick to the List.
ask for clarification when you have questions, and ask for guidance when you feel lost.
start big projects early. and finish them early. There’s more to do the closer you get to the show. it grows exponentially.
you can not make custom clothes for everyone. particularly if you insist on avoiding using patterns. Or just get more comfortable using patterns.
Students care how their clothes fit them. they might not always say it but they care. I said this when I started but “clothing is both an important part of creating the world of the play, but also is something deeply personal. It is something that will affect how people see and perceive your body.” i agree with past me on that.
not everything has to be (and shouldn’t be) original or handmade. you need clothing that fits into the universe of the play, and with many plays taking place in a human/earth universe, good costumes are often just real clothing. wild.
shared shoes need work. there needs to be a better system. the shoe buckets were my nemesis
have a rack of things to be put away, a rack of general pulls, and then a rack of specific pulls with sections for people to try on. and have a done rack. so 4 racks ideally.
have more organized costume closest. (and yes what could be done is i could stay after school in this off period between shows and organize it but i am trying to set boundaries and that is not my job. i need to figure out how to organize as we go or something)
talk to the middle school play costumier so you don’t accidentally mess up each others stuff
learned from the director: have a big vision. You will inevitably have to make cuts, but it is easier to edit.
student assistants/costumiers/actors helping out are EVERYTHING.
get to know as many students as possible. they have amazing ideas. and wardrobes of clothes that already fit them.
you will always stay later than you think you will during tech week
take pictures of finished outfits. people will forget what pieces went with who. (You are people).
must have: hot glue, needle and thread, backup neutral base costume pieces, pencil, sharpie, scissors, dark socks, sticky notes, extra hangers, Safety Pins!!!!, running to-do list
make a list of costume elements that are mentioned at all in the script. go to rehearsal/find out if costumes have stage directions (ex. someone’s jacket is stolen, so they need a jacket)
set up regular meetings with the creative team, or make sure you have regular check-ins in some way
you can make most things out of scrap/repurposed fabric. as long as you don’t need many, many of that thing that match (for example, 20 mermaid tails)
i need to share my ideas. they are good ideas. even if they are too large sometimes. that does not mean they are not worth sharing (see 9)
if the director doesn’t like your pick, its not a personal insult. it means that it didn’t match the universe he was envisioning. and thats okay.
student assistants/costumier/actors helping out are EVERYTHING (repeated for emphasis)
just because an idea wasn’t right for this show doesn’t mean its a bad idea (see 17).
dilemmas about how to work with problematic source material are really hard. no real solution here other than talk it out with people until you land on a solution that everyone feels comfortable with. don’t ignore it. put it out in the open.
this was made in reference to a group of people who were ~ implied ~ to be native to an island
the students are so good and kind and talented and work so hard, and it is incredible to see the magic they create and their growth over the course of the show. the students will make this experience for you.