Taking A Look Through The Q Files

Back in 2017, we interviewed Shane and Kai of the fabulous Queer Ghost Hunters to follow-up on how their first year on YouTube went. When we first got wind of this wonderful team, we interviewed Shane, Kai, and Scott on their origins and how they all came together to go after the mysteries of the supernatural.

Now Shane is back! This time with fellow Queer Ghost Hunter, Lori, to talk about their podcast, The Q Files. Unfortunately, ghost hunting is not a cheap endeavor to do regularly. So due to their love for podcasts and the paranormal, Shane and Lori decided to start one.

The Q Files does something a bit different than other podcasts in its vein. The Q Files not only uses conversations and interviews, but also audio from the field on Shane and Lori’s ghost hunting expeditions. This can get tricky as often ghost hunting is used as a way to “show” that ghosts are real.

According to Shane, The Q Files is, “…is a clear play on The X Files, and those who know our prior work rightly assume the Q stands for queer. And it does. But we use it in the classic sense – odd, peculiar, strange”. Unlike prior engagements, the Q Files does not focus solely on ghosts! This is a podcast for all things outlandish, mysterious, and well, what you may call queer.

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Follicles

“Lydia,” Countess Eleanor whined, “why can’t you take better care of your hair?”

One, two, three. Her mother always brushed her hair in three succinct strokes before taking a breath. This meticulousness always unnerved Lydia: for one, because her mother never seemed to notice that she was doing it, and two, because she couldn’t stand to sit still for so long. On and on, one two three, pause, one two three. She stared straight ahead at her reflection in the ornate mirror, her soft brown eyes burning, willing her tangled raven hair to spontaneously combust.

“Lydia. I am serious,” Eleanor hissed, tugging roughly against a tight knot of hair. “I know that you do not use these brushes; there’s not even a strand of your hair left in here!”

“I brush it. I just clean off the brushes.”

“That’s a funny lie, girl. You best learn to take care of yourself, otherwise I will not allow you to go riding in the afternoons.”

“And what shall I do all day instead?”

“You can work on your embroidery skills, for one. Your governess gave you an assignment about a week ago, didn’t she?”

“I misplaced it.”

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Circe’s Boars

“Odysseus is mad.”

Eurylochus leaned in on his bow until only Elpenor could hear him. They hovered near a lighted torch on the furthest side of their beach camp. From where they were, Elpenor saw the great blue eyes of their ship peaking out from the water, which looked oily so deep into the night. On their other side, he only saw dim shadows in the dark wood.

“He misses home,” said Elpenor, himself leaning in, although he kept his back straight. “And he’s kept us alive.”

“By fighting a giant we had no business bothering?” Eurylochus challenged. He looked back at Elpenor from under a headband and dark-brown curls. “Now we’re stranded on this island, and more of us go missing every day. He swears there’s a witch.”

Elpenor’s brows arched downwards, his fine mouth settling into a frown. The woods beyond stayed quiet, and far enough away not to hide listening ears. “You don’t believe him.”

Eurylochus checked behind them to confirm that the men at the bonfire were still distracted. They did. Men sat languidly around the fire, telling tales and cooking meat until their watch. The boat remained quiet, the soft waves rocking it peacefully. “I don’t believe one way or another. I know I took a small group of men into the woods, and we found nothing but vines and wild sows.”

“No boars?”

“Well,” Eurylochus began, “As far as I can tell, there’s not a stag, bull, or stud among them.”

“Odysseus came back with a stag not long ago,” Elpenor added.

“But have you seen any? In the wild?” Continue reading “Circe’s Boars”

SOMA: The WAU, the Monsters, and You.

I recently finished SOMA and have a lot to say about the sound design and even more to say about the evolution of the monsters throughout the story and the WAU’s involvement in it. This piece will be loaded with SOMA spoilers so if you have no finished the game or at least watched a playthrough, I urge you to do that before even going past the spoiler line. There are story spoilers abound, you’ve been warned.

—–SOMA STORY SPOILERS BELOW—–

Continue reading “SOMA: The WAU, the Monsters, and You.”

An Interview with Transgender Faith Leader Stephanie Mott

I first met Stephanie Mott in May, 2011. We were fighting for the Manhattan, Kansas commissioners to not repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance passed back in February that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes. You read that right, only three months after passing the ordinance the new Manhattan commission was working on revoking the rights of queer Manhattan residents. The anti-discrimination ordinance had made Manhattan, Kansas the second place in Kansas to add not only sexual orientation but gender identity to protected classes of citizens with Lawrence, Kansas being the first. In three short months, we saw these rights being ripped from under us.

We heard arguments from both sides, watching as ministers and fellow residents saying the protection was unnecessary because they had never seen someone discriminated on these bases. These responses came after person after person recounted tales of discrimination based on their gender and their sexual orientation, one of those people being me and another being Stephanie Mott. I remember coming down from speaking, shaking like a leaf. I was red, scared, and nervous. Stephanie hugged me and told me I had done an amazing job and handed me the card for her organization, KSTEP (Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project).

This experience of being given rights and then watching them ripped out from under you and meeting Stephanie are experiences that have changed my life and have shaped many things in the years after. They are stories I recount often as the fight for basic protections continues across the United States and across the world. Stephanie, her kindness, and her story, and her dedication are something I look to frequently as something to strive towards.

What strikes me most about Stephanie is her unwavering faith. Stephanie is a Christian transsexual woman who frequently posts about her religion and its influence on her life. She even has a book titled God Doesn’t Have a Penis, and Other Writings by a Transsexual Christian Woman. She does not let those who question her identity and its intersection with her religion get in her way. This is most evident in her Trans Faith Tour she is currently doing across the country, talking about her experiences as a Christian trans woman.

I recently interviewed Stephanie about her Trans Faith Tour, KSTEP, and several other things.

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Dysphoric Reality

TW: Suicide (potentially), dysphoria

People talk about dysphoria as if its a monster. This looming beast who lurches over us, slowly pressing its weight into our bodies. This creature that lurks around every corner, in every shadow. This Blood Mary who waits in our mirrors to strike if we dare to catch a glimpse. Dysphoria is described as dark and monstrous, something ready to rip out hearts and minds out the moment we dare to acknowledge it, feeding on the small triumphs to bring us back down. Those watchful eyes that never leave, that phantom breath down our necks.

What if I were to tell you that for some, dysphoria really is a monster. It really is a creature lurking in the shadows, sucking on happiness and leaving a hollow shell. What if I were to tell you that it may kill me soon and is just waiting for the right moment to strike with blade sharp fangs and claws? If the hushed ways we speak of these feelings manifests. It twists. It warps. It becomes real. Welcome to my world. I do not only have to deal with dysphoria, I have to live with it.

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I Am Not Your Poster Child

Humans, by nature, are imperfect. In fact, human is almost synonymous with imperfection. However, minorities are held to the idea of perfect. They must be poised, well-spoken, and perfect, down to their very person, at all times. They are expected to be willing to educate at a moments notice, willing to engage, and willing to explain. They must be a single example of the perfect model of who they and others like them can be. They must be able to be put on a pedestal for others to admire and aspire to. Of course, these ideals are always created and upheld by the majority.

I can only speak on this from a trans/cis perspective, however it seems to be something that is pervasive among other marginalized groups. However, I will not be speaking on this for obvious reasons. I will be focusing on standards and ideals imposed on trans people, trans lives, and trans narratives from here on out.

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Media’s Giant (Trans) Exploitation Problem

“Focus on the science, not the scientist.” That is what Caleb Hannan promised Dr. V when interviewing her about her golf putter. However, during his research for his piece, Hannan found out that Dr. V happened to be trans*. Upon this discovery, Hannan broke his promise to his client and proceeded to write a piece, focusing on Dr. V’s past, her trans* status, misgendering her, and outing her to her investors. Due to this, Dr V committed suicide. Despite this tragedy, the piece still went up.

A piece littered with misgendering, focusing on her history as a trans woman, and painting Hannan in the light of some detective uncovering the Watergate of this century. Why? Because the woman he was writing about happened to have a different birth assignment than the one he assumed? He broke the trust and privacy of the person he was writing about for a profit. His story about a golf putter suddenly became one of lies and deceit in his eyes. Why? What does the assigned gender of a person have anything to do with golf? Was this story about her overcoming misogyny? Was this a story of intelligence beating out bigotry? It was not. This was supposed to be a story about the science behind the golf putter Dr. V invented.

Forget “focus on the science” that he promised this woman. She was no more, so to the wind that went. The entire piece became about the scientist, that Hannan had killed with his own hands. This man even had the gall to call a piece full of misgendering, pointless back story, and broken promises a eulogy. Last time I checked, a eulogy was not the cause of death. He even went as far as to brag on Twitter about the “strangest story” he has ever written. Are eulogies supposed to be strange? Or are they supposed to highlight the triumphs, life, and positives of a person’s life? Hannan is directly responsible for the death of a woman. So, what will happen?

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Personal, Political, Intimate

There is something very intimate about knowing your body. There are certain things you just learn over the course of time that no one else can ever know, like how much room your body takes up (no matter your size), the feeling of others eyes on you, how you navigate the world and spaces you inhabit. There is a lot of talk about how the personal is political, but I feel, the personal is also intimately political. Whenever we talk about our bodies and our lives, we open ourselves up.

When you are trans*, and you speak of your history and your body, a peculiar thing happens. You can feel them, the eyes slowly undressing you, as if trying to verify your story. The sudden scrutiny as if looking for whatever small misstep you or your body may make to ‘give you away’. When we talk about ourselves, everything becomes deeply intimate. When we dare open our mouths, our lives become a spectacle, a display, for people to examine, to probe, to dissect.

The moment we announce our trans* status, we seem to be stripped of our privacy and our consent. Everything becomes intimate. People lose their decency and we lose ours because we are expected to have none. We are expected to allow strangers to undress us with their eyes and their words, answer questions about our genitals, probe into our most intimate histories and details, all without even a dinner and a show first. We are expected to stop whatever we are doing at a moments notice and strip ourselves bare.

How does this turn the personal is political into the personal is politically intimate?

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Detransition And Trans Regret

There is something that is talked about very little in the trans* community, or when it is talked about, is only talked about in a negative fashion. Detransitioning, where a trans* person decides to no longer transition and/or live as a gender other than the one they were coercively assigned at birth, is something that is often only brought up in a negative light. People who have detransitioned are often used as evidence that trans* people should not transition. There are people who have detransitioned who are also very vocal advocates for not allowing people to transition due to their personal experiences. There are people who also detransition who are not vocal opponents of those who are transitioning or seeking to transition. These people live the rest of their lives as happy cis folk. They realize their experiences are their own.

There is nothing inherently wrong with detransitioning. We are afforded (or should be afforded) bodily autonomy to do with our bodies as we please. People detransition for numerous reasons, some simply because of no longer identifying in that way, others due to the stigmas associated with being trans*, and others for more complex and varied reasons. There is no wrong reason to detransition. If we are to be afforded bodily autonomy to transition, we must acknowledge the same respect for others. While we may not agree on the reasons, we must allow people to do with their bodies as they wish for their happiness.

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Buck Angel And Transgasm: The Issues

I was going to keep quiet on this for a bit, let this issue sort itself out. However, after personally dealing with and now seeing legal threats, I can’t keep my yap shut. Buck Angel’s racist, classist, transmisogynistic and sexist history is out in the open already. It is not any news to many people that Buck Angel blames trans women for their own murders via not disclosing. He used to believe that trans men should just ‘man up’ when it comes to affording surgery. He looked down upon people who asked others to help them with their surgery funds.

However, Buck seems to have changed his tune on that one. In fact, him and Jody Rose, started Transgasm which despite the name, was not about porn, sex or orgasms. Transgasm was about crowd sourcing to raise money for trans* people and their surgeries. It looks at taking the works of trans* people, selling them in the Transgasm store and dividing the profits. 50% of the profits would go to the creator of the product, 25% would go to the group pool for the surgeries, and 25% would go to keeping Transgasm around.

In reality, it seems like a pretty ok idea. The limit was 7 people with no time frame. Now, depending on the make-up of the group, and estimates the lowest range would be 7 CAFAB people sourcing for top surgery. Estimates for the surgery alone are around $6,000, meaning that $42,000 would be needed to be raised. However, in essence even MORE would have to be raised, since minimum, only 25% of profits is going towards the surgeries. The idea behind this is that these people would market their own products or services in order to fund their surgeries.  This article on the Advocate, written by Parker Marie Molloy explains the breakdown of the site, its intentions and one of the biggest issues.

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My Body Is My Own

My body is my own. My body is no one else’s. My body is my own to do with as I please. What I do with my body, consensually, does not harm anyone else. My body is to do with as I please. I say this as a trans* person. I say this as someone who has to have doctors upon doctors tell me how I can use my body to make it more of my own. I say this as a person with body mods, which society dictates makes me a rebel and an outcast. I say this as someone who in the future wishes to cover HIS body with ink and art, which society tells me, makes me stupid.

My body is my own. I have every right to do with my body as I please. To say anything else is oppressive violence. Seems like a strong word, but it is truth. Dictating how a person uses their body and controls their body is the very way oppressors take away power. They dictate what people can and cannot do with their body. They take away their right to own themselves, since they cannot make up their own choices about their own flesh and blood. This is oppression, this is violence. They make laws against our bodies. They institutionalize their control over our bodies. They invade our very bodies as much as they can, forcefully and violently.

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