ISGD rally pics

Pic by Matt Akersten from Same Same’s gallery of photos from the rally. More Photos here:




(includes Budget angle)


Thursday, May 12, 2011

About 180 people gathered on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra yesterday for Australia’s first ever national rally by intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people.

Buses of ISGD people and their allies came from as far away as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to attend the historic rally, which prevailed on a bitterly cold, windy day, where the temperature struggled to reach double digits.

Intersex, transsexual, transgendered, genderqueer and androgynous people spoke of their experiences of discrimination, harassment and violence during the rally, which highlighted the need for equal treatment under Commonwealth laws.

GRIFFEN JONES, member of the Still Fierce ISGD activist group, said: “We are making history here today. I look forward to the time when those of us who are from rural places can return there and be welcomed instead of harassed.”

NORRIE talked about how they have been embroiled in legal system for the past year trying to get their ‘sex not specified’ document reinstated: “Since I went public with my experience, I’ve heard from people across the globe who also want a ‘sex not specified’ document. It’s resonated with people from many places, including Iraq and Russia.”

ZOE BRAIN, an intersex woman and rocket scientist from Canberra who lectures at the Australian National University (ANU), said that things were changing, and that ISGD people and groups such as Still Fierce were making a difference. “People are working on things now and listening because of your pressure.”

TRACIE O’KEEFE, sexologist and spokesperson for the Sex and Gender Australia (SAGE) group, argued for Medicare rebates for ISGD people.

“We want full Medicare for ISGD people – we don’t want a penny less. If you have a heart transplant it’s covered by Medicare, same with a hysterectomy. Why can’t you have it for gender or sex health?

“It’s a false economy because if you are not giving people financial help, they may become depressed and be on welfare for the rest of their lives. Do the maths.”

O’Keefe noted that the 2011 Australian Budget, released by the Federal Government on Tuesday, placed a heavy emphasis on ‘welfare to work’ measures. In the Budget, it was emphasised that we need to get people into the workplace, but we can’t if ISGD people are not protected. ISGD people are discriminated before they even get their foot in the door, then if they do get a job they are discriminated against.

“We want ISGD people off welfare and back to work where possible but we can’t do that unless they have full protection in law.”

Labor Senator LOUISE PRATT came down from the House to speak with representatives of the rally, telling them that a range of cross-bench federal politicians were looking at the issues they raised.

Activists also delivered a list of demands to a representative of Greens Senator SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, requesting that she forward it to Prime Minister JULIA GILLARD.

A full list of the demands can be viewed at:



Tracie O’Keefe

0403 398 808





MONDAY, MAY 9, 2011

History will be made in Canberra on Wednesday, when Australia’s ISGD communities hold their first ever rally for equal rights.

Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse people (ISGD) are groups of people who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, genderqueer, cross-dressers, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and/or gender culturally specific differences.

The rally – to be held at 1pm this Wednesday on the Parliament Lawn, Parliament House, Canberra – will mark the first time ISGD people have staged their own independent rally to call for equal treatment under the law.

Buses carrying campaigners are coming from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the rally, which has received the personal support and endorsement of CLOVER MOORE MP, Independent Member for Sydney; WARREN ENTSCH, Federal MP and Chief Opposition Whip; and SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, Australian Greens Senator.

TRACIE O’KEEFE, member of Still Fierce: Sydney Intersex Sex and/or Gender Diverse collective, which is organising the rally, said the protest was a response to various inequalities and injustices faced by ISGD people in Australia.

“Unquestionably, all ISGD groups of people in Australia are legally marginalised in every state in many ways,” she said.

“Many people cannot get their birth records or documents changed to the correct sex when it has been incorrectly stated or they have changed their sex status.

“Others whose sex and/or gender may be other than strictly male or female are unable to have identity documents that reflect their true identities.”

O’Keefe said the discrimination against ISGD people included serious instances of child abuse and denial of medical treatment.

“The practice of unwanted surgeries on intersex children without their permission to ‘normalise’ their genitalia is sanctioned under the sinister veil of enforcing normality, instead of being seen as child abuse,” she said.

“Many sex and/or gender diverse young people who want medical treatment are denied it unless they are intimidated into going through the court system to gain legal permission.

“Meanwhile, full Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits for those ISGD people who cannot afford treatment is still only a pipe dream. They are discriminated against in comparison to people who seek other health needs from Medicare.”

O’Keefe said that in addition to Wednesday’s rally, a list of demands (available on the Still Fierce website) would be handed to Federal MPs.

BASTIAN FOX PHELAN, Still Fierce Sydney member, added:

“For many years I have been bullied and harassed verbally and physically for looking visibly gender variant or ‘in-between’. If we can at least protect ISGD people by creating laws that are inclusive of all intersex, sex and/or gender diverse people – including transgender and transsexual people – we might be able to start addressing the appalling high rates of violence experienced by trans women and other ISGD people.”

Sydney-based activist NORRIE, whose story made global headlines last year when Norrie was issued with what was believed to be the world’s first ‘sex not specified’ registration document (revoked shortly after by the then NSW Attorney General), said:

“Concepts of man or woman just don’t fit me; they are not my actual reality. I’ve spent a whole year fighting to have my ‘sex not specified’ document reinstated, which has been frustrating and left me in a legal limbo.  Governments need to govern for all people, not just those who fit into certain boxes.”

The rally has the backing of the Australian Federal Greens Party, Australian Socialist Alliance, Australian Health and Education Centre, Sex And Gender Education Australia (SAGE), Femme Guild Sydney, Scarlet Alliance, Equal Love Canberra, Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee (NSW), CRAVE Metropolitan Community Church (Sydney), Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Student Union Queer Department [RUSU Queer Department], The University of Melbourne Student Union Queer Department [UMSU Queer], WA Gender Project, Still Fierce Melbourne , The Seahorse Society of NSW, University of Sydney Queer Students, and National Union of Students [NUS].

The rally comes on the back of last week’s report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which urged the Federal Government to implement anti-discrimination laws to protect people on grounds of sex/gender identity, as well as sexual orientation.



MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Tracie O’Keefe: 0403 398 808.

List of demands can be read at:


Hello fierce friends!

The first ever Intersex, Sex &/or Gender Diverse Rally is fast approaching!

Still Fierce Sydney wants to know – do you want to jump on the bus with us?

We are selling tickets for the official Still Fierce bus to Canberra on May 11th. Tickets are only $25! Amazing!!

To book your ticket for the bus, please email Still Fierce for bank account details: stillfierce[at]

If you want to pay in cash, you can deposit directly into our account using the details above or you can pay in cash at our next meeting on Tuesday May 3rd at 7pm at Tutu, 22 Enmore Rd, Newtown.

You need to pay for your ticket as soon as possible! Like, immediately! If we fill this bus, we can work on filling a second bus. The more, the merrier/fiercer!

Keep it fierce!


No-labels picnic for Intersex, Sex &/or Gender Diversity Day, Tuesday April 26th

Following on from last year’s totally amazing No-labels picnic day, Still Fierce Sydney would like to invite you to the 2nd annual No-labels picnic!

This is also the second International Intersex, Sex &/or Gender Diverse Day and we encourage anyone outside of Sydney to organise their own celebration.

A celebration of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse folks!
…A space to build and create networks!
An open and supportive space!

For people who are intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, trans*, cross-dressers, androgynous, sinandrogynous ( without sex and gender identity), genderqueer, people with culturally specific sex and/or gender differences and their families, friends, and supporters.

There will be music, activity spaces and plenty of people to talk to and hang out with. Bring whatever you feel like contributing such as food, drink, musical instruments or just yourself!

Come along and find your label, lose your label or burn all of them!

If you would like to get involved in organising/performing please contact us!

There will be Info about the ISGD rally in Canberra on 11th of May & STILL FIERCE folk to talk to and answer questions.

Intersex, Sex &/or Gender Diverse (ISGD) Rally

Come to Canberra for the first ever ISGD rally!

May 11th, 2011

1.00 pm Canberra Parliament Lawn

Still Fierce and Allied Organisations

The rally is supported by Still Fierce Melbourne, Sex And Gender Education Australia, Australian Health and Education Centre, Australian Federal Greens Party, Australian Socialists Alliance, Femme Guild Sydney, Scarlet Alliance, Equal Love Canberra, Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee (NSW), CRAVE Metropolitan Community Church (Sydney), Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Student Union Queer Department [RUSU Queer Department], The Univeristy of Melbourne Student Union Queer Department [UMSU Queer], WA Gender Project, The Seahorse Society of NSW, University of Sydney Queer Students, National Union of Students [NUS], Clover Moore MP Independent Member for Sydney, Warren Entsch Federal MP and Chief Opposition Whip, Sarah Hanson-Young Australian Greens Senator

We call upon intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people and their families and allies to rally outside Federal Parliament on May 11th, 2011 to highlight the need for the Australian government to address the inequalities in law and human rights suffered by these groups of people.

ISGD people will also celebrate the 2nd International Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diversity Day on April 26th.

Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse people (ISGD):

These groups includes people who may be who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences.

Confirmed speakers for the rally from different organisations will be speaking on the Parliament lawn.

We call on the federal and state governments to implement the recommendations of the 2009 Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sex Files Report, review inequalities in the law for ISGD people and to outlaw unethical medical practices forced on intersex children. We invite other groups to join us in rallying for the rights of ISGD groups of people and we are open to suggestions for further addition to our demands.

Contact Still Fierce Collective for more information:

Our demands are below:

Equal rights for ISGD People

Intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people include those who are intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, cross dressers, androgynous, without sex and gender identity, and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences”

Memorandum of Demands
1/ Implementation of the AHRC Sex Files (2009) recommendations
2/ Legal protection against enforced medical treatment of ISGD children
3/ Federal antidiscrimination laws protecting all ISGD people
4/ Full Medicare funding for medical and psychological procedures needed by any ISGD people
5/ Full Marriage rights for ISGD People.
6/ Enshrinement of the right to establish ones’ own sex and/or gender identity in federal law.

1/ Implementation of the following AHRC Sex Files (2009)

Recommendation 1: Marital status should not be a relevant consideration as to whether or not a person can request a change in legal sex.
Recommendation 2: The definition of sex affirmation treatment should be broadened so that surgery is not the only criteria for a change in legal sex.
Recommendation 3: The evidentiary requirements for the legal recognition of sex should be relaxed by reducing the quantity of medical evidence required and making greater allowance for people to self-identify their sex.
Recommendation 4: The special needs of children and young people who wish to amend their documents and records should be considered.
Recommendation 5: A person over the age of 18 years should be able to choose to have an unspecified sex noted on documents and records.
Recommendation 6: Information on the process and criteria for the legal recognition of sex should be easily accessible and user-friendly.
Recommendation 7: Documents of identity and processes required for the legal recognition of sex should not reveal personal information about a person’s past identity in relation to sex.
Recommendation 8: Laws and processes for the legal recognition of sex should use empowering terminology.
Recommendation 9: Where possible, sex or gender should be removed from government forms and documents.
Recommendation 10: The federal government should consider the
development of national guidelines concerning the collection of sex and gender information from individuals.
Recommendation 11: The federal government should take a leadership role in ensuring that there is a nationally consistent approach to the legal recognition of sex in accordance with the recommendations of the AHRC paper. We as ISGD people do not want a national board that acts to police people’s sex and/or gender. The states and governments work cooperatively
with state and territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process to amend their respective legislation and policies in line with the recommendations in the AHRC paper, particularly in relation to birth certificates or identity documents.
Recommendation 12: The federal government should consider establishing a national office to advise and assist the public and federal government in relation to changing legal recognition of sex, as an alternative or precursor to the national board put forward in Recommendation 11. in the AHRC report,
Recommendation 13: In the event that Recommendation 11 fails to result in sufficient support from state and territory governments, the federal government should consider legislation to: amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to ensure that the protection against marital status discrimination applies in the context of married persons seeking to amend their birth
certificates, to effectively override the existing discrimination under state and territory births registration legislation or establish a minimum national standard in respect of legal recognition of sex in documents and government records in line with the recommendations in the AHRC paper.
Recommendation 14: The federal government should harmonise policies, procedures and legislation relevant to the legal recognition of sex in federal documents and records.
Recommendation 15: The federal government should take immediate steps to ensure that all federal government departments and agencies provide clear and accessible information relevant to legal recognition of sex in documents
and records and how those documents and records can be amended, such as by including a page on the department or agency’s website dedicated to this topic.

2/ Legal protection against enforced medical treatment of ISGD children

Prohibition of enforced non consensual surgery, hormones or other treatments on ISGD children who are not in a life-threatening situation until they are old enough to give informed consent, in other words cognitively aware, not age specific. This must also include psychiatric or psychological treatment.

3/ Federal antidiscrimination laws protecting all ISGD people

Requirement for a future Bill covering anti-discrimination law protecting intersex, sex and/or gender diverse people

1. Such a Bill must protect all Australians not just special interest
2. The Bill must include protection against discrimination on the grounds of being intersex, sex and/or gender diverse.
3. Protection must be extended to the workplace.
4. Protection must be extended to all public places without exception.
5. Only private dwellings should be exempt and anytime the public is invited in they are no longer deemed private.
6. The Bill needs to state that some people are physiologically intersex and intersex is determined by a persons’ personal physical experience. Some people have sex diverse features that they are other than stereotypically male or female although they may not have a medical diagnosis of intersex. Neither should be hierarchal.
7. The Bill needs to recognise that gender diverse presentation is a normal part of a multi-faceted healthy culture.
8. People need to be able to bring complaints for sex and/or gender discrimination.
9. The present system at the AHRC is little more than window dressing when Attorneys General refuse to attend conciliation and the AHRC exempts itself from its own guidelines. Any future system needs to compel government departments to attend conciliation; since Australian governments are presently by far the greatest discriminators against ISGD people and anything less would be a farce.
10. Complainants need to be able to bring cases against private individuals, hospitals, medics, corporate bodies, educational institutions, clubs, and government departments. In short, the whole of society.
11. Applicants need the ability to bring cases without the burden of costs should they lose otherwise it just becomes a rich mans’ law.
12. Cases for discrimination on the grounds of being intersex sex and/or gender should not be confused with sexuality.
13. The laws should not get into a redundant class system of labels of who is included under the Act because all Australians need to be protected from such discrimination.
14. Such a complaint involving violence should be treated as a hate crime.
15. For a person suffering discrimination as a child, their guardian needs to be able to bring a case on their behalf.
16. Adults need to have the ability to bring cases for the mistreatment they suffered as children including forced medical treatment administered against their interests and without their permission. The second arm of this clause also needs to be that adults can bring cases for medical treatment denied them as children including hormones and surgery for transitioning children. Children also need to able to have a court-appointed guardian to help them access treatment when it is refused, including emancipation from their families.
17. Any appeals process needs to be presided over partly by members of the public. The present system is incestuous between government departments.
18. The applicant needs to have people from special interest groups on such an appeal panel who have a common understanding of the issues involved.
19. The present situation in Australia that allows nonconsensual procedures on children, labelled as necessary surgery, singles intersex out as category needing positive discrimination measures.
20. We suggest that the AHRC and attorney generals FAG follows the thinking of the Sex Files Report and use the phrase sex and/or gender diverse (SGD) people, plus the word intersex (ISGD). In total this would be protection against discrimination on the grounds of being Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse.
21. Government-funded educational institutions need to be compelled to teach about the whole spectrum of human sex and/or gender diverse identities.

4/ Full Medicare funding for medical and psychological procedures
needed by any ISGD people

Presently pregnancy, menopause, andropause and reproductive technology, are all fully funded by the Medicare system but establishment and maintenance of sex and/or of gender identity is not which is sex discrimination. All Medicare items need to patient specific not sex specific. All ISGD people should have the right to claim needed treatments as fully funded Medicare items on a parallel means tested basis as with pregnancy, menopause, andropause and reproductive technology.

5/ Full Marriage rights for ISGD People

Legal marriage needs to be between consenting adults regardless of their sex and/or gender

6/ Enshrinement of the right to establish sex and/or gender identity in federal law

Federal protection needs to be in place to protect the right to legally establish a sex/or gender identity other than on the original birth certificate for all ISGD people.



Saturday 20th November at Serial Space [33 Wellington st, Chippendale]


Still Fierce: Sydney Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse Collective is looking for Intersex, Sex and/or Gender Diverse [ISGD] performers, artists and participants for the upcoming Trans Day of Remembrance performance night.

Continuing on from last year’s event, we are aiming to create a space that not only remembers and is respectful to those who have experienced hate crimes, but one that displays the amazing strength and defiance of the ISGD community.

If you would like to perform, dance, sing, read something, create an installation, submit a painting, drawing or anything else, please get in touch with us! Our email is

Also, if you would like to be involved in organising for the day, we
meet every Tuesday at 7pm. Email us to find out where!

If you live outside of Sydney, we want to hear from you! Still Fierce is also looking for videos of support. We’re presenting a talk and workshop in the afternoon before the performance night. As part of the afternoon events we will screen video messages from people overseas, interstate or from folks who can’t make it to the event.

If you would like to send a video please email


I’m a Monster, Can’t You See?

Written by Bastian Fox Phelan for Queer Honi Soit and performed at the Penis Tower Anti-Slam at This Is Not Art, 2010

Don’t get too close to me, I am a monster. I will try to bring you down because I can’t control myself.

Kevin Blechdom, ‘Monster’

There’s looking like a monster and then there’s behaving like a monster. Looking like a monster sometimes means being treated in monstrous ways. We can reclaim monster identities but how do we deal with the monsters that try to bring us down?

I caught a train to a beach in Queens one day. As I waited in a Brooklyn subway station people began to stare. I used to look away: I’m not here, this isn’t happening. But part of my travel plan was getting fierce, so I started staring back.

I know the exact facial expression that says ‘I am trying to work out your gender.’ Am I the first seemingly female-bodied person with a beard that they have ever seen? Surely not in New York City – homo, sweet homo for fabulous freaks. Still they stare, I stare back, they look away, I catch them again, they look away. I get hostile: stop trying to assassinate me with your eyes.

I come from a long line of famous folks you might call monsters. Let me tell you about some of my favourite ladies.

Annie Jones was exhibited in the circus from the age of nine months. When she was still very young she was kidnapped by a phrenologist but was returned to her parents after some time. She married twice during her life and died young from TB. She is perhaps the world’s most renowned bearded lady. My favourite photograph shows her draped across a couch, one hand on her hip, confident and sexy as hell.

Jennifer Miller is a radical circus performer, writer and professor. I first saw her in a book of photographs called Women. In her portrait she is reclining nude on an antique chair; her hair is long, dark and glossy, and so is her beard. The angle of her legs and a coyly placed hand obscure her genitals. When I discovered this picture I was still a kid, not really understanding I was about to be told to pick sides on the gender team. Jennifer Miller was a question and an answer – I was transfixed.

Vivian Wheeler has the longest female beard in the world. She was recently reunited with her thirty-year-old son. His father took him from her shortly after she gave birth, and later abandoned him in a motel. Her son was adopted, and grew up not knowing who his biological mother was. They found each other and he learned that she worked in sideshows from an early age. She used to shave in between stints in the circus, but now she is proud to be a bearded lady.

The day before I took the trip to Queens I read this quote in the book Transgender History by Susan Stryker:

Because most people have great difficulty recognising the humanity of another person if they cannot recognise that person’s gender, the gender-changing person can evoke in others a primordial fear of monstrosity, or loss of humanness. That gut-level fear can manifest itself as hatred, outrage, panic, or disgust, which may then translate into physical or emotional violence directed at the person who is perceived as not-quite-human.

The more comfortable I feel breaking gender binaries, the more the boundaries break down between myself and strangers on the street. When your gender is unintelligible to others you do not become ineligible for basic social etiquette. But the way some monsters look at me tells me otherwise.

A student at a university in the United States attacked a transgender student in a bathroom. He pushed him into a stall and carved ‘IT’ into his chest. There’s looking like a ‘monster’ and then there’s brutal transphobic violence. Control yourself.

Ladybeard: a ‘transhairstorical’ story

Bastian Fox Phelan, member of Still Fierce

I started growing my beard in December 2009 when I first moved away from my family home to a new city. The beard began as a moustache, which was no stranger to my face, having come and gone over the years.

The beard, however, was new. Not because it hadn’t been possible, but because I had been keeping it at bay for 10 years. It began as stubble – I had been shaving my face for several months in between laser hair removal.

As I grew increasingly frustrated with the painful, expensive process that yielded poor results, I realised that there was an option that was never offered to me: rather than finding new ways of removing the hair that grew on my face, I could live as a hirsute person and build a hairy identity.

But my desire for autonomy was clouded by fears of how others would respond to my facial hair. Would they see me as a bearded lady? As a trans man? As a cisgender teenage boy? As a freak?

How should I act in order to fit these categories? Which category did I fit? I knew that growing my beard – let alone talking and writing about my beard – was radical. As the stubble became more than a shadow I began to transgress the gender binary.

Throughout the summer I let my beard grow. I monitored its progress daily: at one month it was a sparse line of dark hairs along my jaw line, mostly concentrated on the underside of my chin, with a few hairs straggling down my neck like disaffected youth on a school trip.

As the weeks passed and the hairs grew longer and more abundant I noticed a great deal of variation: the hairs were black, gold, red, sometimes starting blond and growing darker towards the tip; some hairs were straight, others curly, some fine and others thick and wiry.

There’s one hair that comes and goes on the left hand side of my moustache – it’s huge, curly, thick and red and sometimes I play with it until it drives me crazy. I wish that my entire moustache were made up of these hairs – I would buy a hot air balloon and become an adventurist.

But at five months, my beard is not dissimilar to a teen boy’s beard: it has accumulated on my lower chin and neck, it is light, curly, unevenly distributed – you could call it ‘bum fluff.’

In January 2010 I wrote a zine called Ladybeard – a month after I started growing my beard. At the time I still identified as a woman, albeit a woman that didn’t fit – a different woman. The decision to grow my beard in the first place was tied into a long, confusing process of questioning my gender identity (and as a related matter, my sexuality).

I have been making zines in Australia as Maddy Phelan for five years and this was the most personal zine I had ever made. When I glued the last piece of paper into the master copy I felt it was a zine that would divide people. So far I have been wrong. What I have experienced is a huge amount of support and positive feedback.

I’ve received more emails from people about this zine than any other zine I have made. Folks love Ladybeard: it sells out in zine shops and distros, gets rave reviews in newsletters and on blogs, has been namedropped on the radio, and has even resulted in praise from strangers in public places.

I made a fan page for it on Facebook as a kind of joking, kind of serious way to gather Ladybeard enthusiasts.

Growing my beard was part of a decision to express my gender variance. I became very interested in female masculinities as espoused by Judith Halberstam and JD Samson, and transmasculinities, especially transfag masculinities – see Jason Cromwell and Athens Boys Choir.

I spent a lot of time reading, watching, thinking, talking. For a while I identified as a masculine woman but that didn’t exactly fit. I’ve never been butch and in the past I had transitioned to (mostly hetero) femme for a few years. It took some time to realise that I was more like an effeminate boy: a fag.

I joined a new collective for sex and/or gender diverse folks called Still Fierce and my trans* literacy has skyrocketed ever since. I’m starting to identify as trans* – it answers some questions but raises a lot more. Like, if I’m not a lady, what’s the next issue of my zine going to be called?

When I wrote Ladybeard my biggest concern was that I would become known as the bearded lady and that this identity would define me. I worried about the stigma attached to mannish women, the cultural connotations of female facial hair as being freakish, dirty, unkempt: an affront to society.

But I decided that I didn’t want to reproduce social norms and I carved out a space for my identity. Social recognition is important to all kinds of folks, and responses to Ladybeard helped me hold my head high.

It wasn’t just polite acceptance that I received – I was praised for doing something brave, for being myself, for writing about living a different life and thereby giving permission to others to do the same.

From bearded lady to bearded boy

The question for me now is how to reconcile being a bearded lady with being a bearded boy. I’m starting to think that I will never fit and that’s not such a bad thing.

In the context of transmasculine facial hair I almost fit. My moustache and beard are different to the moustaches and beards of guys on T [testosterone] but it is a kind of T beard: a recent blood test showed raised testosterone levels.

I have PCOS [Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome] and facial hair is a common feature of this hormone disorder (I prefer to call it a hormone distinction). Then again, I can’t really classify my beard as a T beard: I don’t take T, a certain amount just happens in my body.

I’ve made a mental note to avoid ‘me too-ism’ because it’s usually insulting to people whose experiences you don’t share. I know there must be a lot of trans guys who have PCOS but it does feel a bit lonesome, belonging to both groups and not belonging to either.

I keep thinking that because I wrote Ladybeard I have a responsibility to be a consistent character in the stories I tell. It’s not like trans* was absent from the zine: I wrote about my trans* heroes, wanting to be more masculine, deciding to be whoever I wanted to be.

But I feel the need to clarify that my personal identification is not an abandonment of my previous beliefs.

I think that while women with facial hair transgress the gender binary, facial hair in itself is not essentially masculine.

Beards are a secondary sex characteristic, like breasts and pitch of voice, but in the same way that a deep voice does not define one’s gender, I believe beards cannot be read in such simple ways.

‘The ‘other beards’ project

I am for femme beards, butch beards, trans* beards, drag beards, post-menopausal beards, female beards of all varieties. I think the beard – as an attribute of that unmarked identity, the white cisgender man – needs to be displaced.

We need to make visible those ‘other’ beards that have been erased from history, depilated into oblivion, yearned for, induced, born of artifice, and set free after years of repression.

Which brings me to my plan. I’m working on a project and it’s all about these ‘other’ beards. I’m not sure what form it will take but I want it to have words and pictures. I want to meet women, trans* and other folks with facial hair, share our ‘hairstories’, document our experiences, photograph our lives.

If you want to get involved, I’d be very happy to hear from you.

Author’s privilege: Bastian Fox Phelan is white/Jewish, trans*, queer, currently able-bodied, neurotypical, hormone-distinct, thin-ish, upper-middle class, currently artist class. Bastian is 23 years old, an Australian citizen and has a degree in Arts (Honours). Email Bastian at to get involved in the ‘other beards’ project and find out how to get a copy of Ladybeard.

Reposted from The Scavenger:

A trans-masculine perspective on feminism

Griffen Jones, co-founder and member of Still Fierce

I wanted to write about my relationship to feminism, as a trans-masculine person. I identify as a queer transgender masculine person who has in the past, identified as a queer woman.

My feminist politics have strengthened and solidified throughout my transition, despite the fact that I no longer identify as a woman. I think that my realisation of, and my acceptance of my own masculine identity has transpired partly because of this consolidation.

I’ve never held a feminist politic that sees everything male and masculine as anti-feminist and the root of all sexism. Rather, I’ve always seen capitalism – as a system and a social relation – as the architect of patriarchy.

Or rather, patriarchy and misogyny are necessary elements of this brutal class society that sees the wealth and privilege concentrated in the hands of a few.

The institutions of marriage and the family, which are central to the maintenance of capitalism, all uphold sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

In coming to terms with my trans identity, I decided that if I was going to identify as trans masculine person and use male pronouns, then it was imperative that I actively practice my feminist politic.

I’ve been compelled to be wholly aware of the ways in which socialised masculinity serves to reinforce patriarchy and sexism.

When it comes to the day-to-day passing as male, I consciously wanted to ensure that the male I embodied was not one that zealously upheld sexism.

It is often that the aspects that stand out so much when thinking of masculinity and male-ness, are those that are, in many ways, anti-feminist. This hegemonic masculinity is comprised entirely of gender stereotypes, such as: taking up space in a room, talking loudly over people and talking a lot [as though what you have to say is always of the utmost importance], and a rejection of the feminine.

Whilst I don’t identify as a man – I identify as trans and I celebrate my gender trajectory, passing as male can constitute a recognition of my trans identity. It can also be a question of safety, as often problems arise, including violence, if people can’t identify your gender. And simply, I also want to pass.

The big question or contradiction that arose for me was figuring out ways of embodying a masculinity and a male-ness that I was comfortable with and that did not represent or feed into a hegemonic masculinity.

Being aware of, and owning my masculine privilege has become particularly imperative for me since I decided that I wanted to start taking Testosterone [T]. Before making this decision, part of my reluctance to start taking T, was truly being perceived as a man by other women.

I consider there to be a certain sense of trust and solidarity between women that can exist and I think there is amazing strength in this. I want to recognise here that, as bell hooks proposes, this isn’t always the case, as the intersections of race, class and sexuality mean that not all women share a common experience.

Before I started taking T, I very rarely completely passed. As my body slowly changes and I begin to fit the characteristics that broader society associate with being a man, I’ve begun to pass more.

The more I pass, the more of this instant solidarity and trust I lose. It’s not as though I’m sad because I’ve been kicked out of some club – my immediate community is full of amazing queer women and trans folk – it means that I need to learn new ways of gaining trust and solidarity with women.

I need to learn how to be man and to reconcile my revolutionary politics with this. I’ve realised that I can’t be the trans man that I want to be, without owning and working against my masculine privilege, celebrating femininity and continuing to a be a feminist ally to women and other feminine folk, who are forced to deal with sexist shit every day.

It is there that I want to point to the strength and necessity in recognising the interconnection of a women’s liberation movement and a trans liberation movement.

I also want to note that I’m in no way suggesting that in order to become a ‘better feminist’ people need to identify as trans and nor do I think that every trans person practices amazing feminist politics.

Similarly, I’m not suggesting that my past identification as a woman means that I’m a ‘better equipped’ feminist than, for example, a cis-gendered man.

Rather I’m suggesting that a feminist struggle and a trans struggle, complement and inform each other in necessary ways. The extension of the gender system beyond the binary, which is so heavily entrenched and maintained under capitalism, assists both trans folk and women.

What it creates is the space for new identities and bodies that can be embraced outside of those afforded to us by the capitalist patriarchy, such as the celebration of fat identities.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from the inspiring Leslie Feinberg, an amazing transgender activist, speaker and author. The quote is taken from ze’s book Trans Liberation: beyond pink or blue, in which ze articulates, among other points, the interconnection between gender discrimination and sexism:

“The struggles with those of us at this conference also overlap with the struggles of the women’s liberation movement. We could gain strength by working together, along with all our allies, to fight for sex and gender freedom. That means the rights of people to define their sex, control their own body, and develop their gender expression, free from violence, economic barriers, or discrimination – in employment, housing, health care, or any other sector of society.

“None of us can be free while others are in chains. That’s the truth underlying the need for solidarity. Trans liberation is inextricably linked to other movements for equality and justice.”

Griffen Jones is a 25-year-old trans guy based in Sydney, Australia, who is involved in various political organising and collectives, including STILL FIERCE: sydney sex and gender diverse collective, Mutiny Zine collective, Black Rose Anarchist Library and Bookshop.

Reposted from The Scavenger: