Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Recent Posts

  1. The childhood I didn’t have

    Wearing a dress to prom. Figuring out my style over decades instead of a year. Seeing myself represented on TV. Not having to go through the wrong puberty.

    These are just some of the experiences from the childhood I didn’t have.

    Today is the International Day of Pink, a day started here in Canada dedicated to anti-bullying, and specifically dedicated to stopping bullying against those who experience homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. So I thought it might be important today to talk about that last one, because something has been sitting with me for a couple of weeks now.

    Thirty-three states have introduced anti-trans legislation this year alone, sometimes more than one bill per state. It’s staggering. Politicians see the issue of trans rights as something up for debate and something they can use to capitalize on votes from their base. Meanwhile, those bills that pass into law strip trans youth of healthcare, of supports, and in some cases criminalize parents who support their trans kids and force state employees to out LGBTQ+ people under 21. Make no mistake: this is a coordinated attack on the existence of trans people.

    But Kara, you say, you’re in Canada! It sucks and…

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  2. Not like other girls: Why I am proud to be visibly trans

    On the International Transgender Day of Visibility, I reflect on why it is important to me that I am a visibly trans woman.

    Today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility. As its name implies, the goal behind this day is to celebrate the existence and contributions of trans people in our societies. I feel like, in 2021, we need this day more than ever.

    On the one hand, it is true that, over the past decade, the visibility and acceptance of trans people has increased markedly. If I had realized I was trans and come out in 2011, I would not have had the same level of access to the services I can currently receive, nor do I think I would have had as positive an experience.

    On the other hand, the past couple of years have seen ever more backlash—likely in response to the increased visibility of trans people—particularly in the United Kingdom and United States, but also here in Canada. The UK media is a bastion of transphobic takes, and trans people in the UK are constantly under threat of losing what patchwork health services they currently have. In the United States, multiple states are attacking the right of trans girls and women to play women’s sports—a red herring that has way less to do with “protecting children” than it

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  3. Review of Moxie

    I review Netflix film Moxie, which I thoroughly enjoyed yet also find very problematic and unsatisfying! Intrigued? SPOILERS AHEAD.

    A film by Amy Poehler comes to Netflix, based on a young adult novel about a high school girl rediscovering her mother’s feminist roots and feeling empowered, as a result, to stand up and say something about the atmosphere at her school? Count me in! I really enjoyed Moxie, and overall I would recommend it (especially to a younger audience—of all genders, because men need to learn about these issues too). It is a good movie. However, it is not a great movie. It is a very messy movie that often trips up in its eagerness to tackle as many feminist issues as it can. Moreover, despite its theme that girls and women can be empowered and do anything as long as they take a stand, the movie itself feels limited by the very nature of what Netflix seems to think will sell on its platform.

    Spoilers ahead! Also, content warning for the discussion of misogyny, racism, and rape.

    Diversity is Not Enough

    The movie’s casting is diverse, and the narrative attempts to be inclusive in its portrayal of feminism. Poehler’s character, main character Vivian’s mother, acknowledges that her own experiences of adolescent and young adult feminist movements in…

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  4. Femininity is my jam

    Happy International Women’s Day! Last November for International Men’s Day, I wrote about why masculinity is not for me. So I thought I would complement that piece with one for this day, all about why femininity and womanhood are indeed my jam.

    As I outlined back in my post about masculinity, I never felt comfortable belonging to that category of man. I never felt comfortable asserting my masculinity. I never looked to other men as role models. When I was watching TV, the idea of being Superman held no appeal, but I was so fascinated with Kim Possible (and now, of course, Supergirl). This is why, in my review of Disclosure, I said that if there had been better transfeminine representation on TV in my youth, I would have figured out my transness sooner. I’m convinced that if I had seen a trans girl my age on TV, the penny would have dropped—I would have understood that it is possible for someone assigned male to realize their gender is different from what society expected.

    But I didn’t, and so I looked to girls and women, and it just seemed so fun to be them. (In my anniversary post,…

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  5. Fearless: My 1st anniversary of transition

    On this day 1 year ago, I came out as a trans woman everywhere. After coming out at work, I changed my name and posted on social media, pushed an update to and published a blog post on this website, and then I held my breath and waited. It was the scariest moment of my life.

    It was really nice, watching all the supportive and affirming comments come in. Reconnecting, at times, with people who had drifted out of my life. And y’all didn’t stop—you kept commenting on my Instagram selfies, sending me affirming messages … truly, I feel loved and supported. I have picked my communities well.

    Has it been a struggle at times? Of course. Transitioning is not easy, even when you are wrapped in support like I am, and transitioning during a pandemic has brought its share of challenges, some of which I’ll discuss here. But as my blog posts over the past year have sought to emphasize, on the whole my transition has been a joyous experience, one that has made me happier and lifted me up even while I have been stressed and overwhelmed by teaching during a pandemic.

    I love who I am…

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  6. Feeling sexy

    Yesterday I wore a sleeveless mock neck bodysuit with a toucan print to work. I paired it with a black, pleated midi skirt, navy tights, a royal blue cardigan, and a mustard headband. I rocked a little bit of gold and pink eyeshadow. I felt good for most of the school day. Then I went home, and as I was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror. The woman staring back at me—and she looked like a woman—was stunning. The headband helped to emphasize how long her hair had become and frame her face; her makeup was exemplary, and her whole outfit just seemed to work for her. That woman was me.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have these days, when I’m just obsessed with myself. I’m sure most of you, including my cis readers, can identify with that, with the way that the right outfit can make you feel powerful and confident—make you feel sexy. What I need you to understand is that prior to this year, I had never felt that before. No outfit—not my T-shirt and shorts, socks and sandals standby; not any of the suits I ever wore; certainly…

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  7. Review of Transhood

    It was Christmas Day, and Gilmore Girls was depressing me with its relationship drama, so I cast about for something that would hold my interest but not harsh the sliver of holiday jolly that flickered within my breast. And I found Transhood, an HBO documentary released earlier this year. It promised me a lighthearted look at the lives of four trans kids of various ages in Kansas City. I’m not sure I agree it was lighthearted—and I suspect for many trans people, a lot of this documentary would be triggering or disconcerting—but I do think the documentary is worth watching for the one, fundamental truth it highlights: trans people aren’t the problem; the lack of acceptance we face is.

    The documentary follows four families over 2014 to 2019; I’ll list the ages of each kid as of 2014: Jay is a 12-year-old trans boy; Leena is a 15-year-old trans girl; Avery is a 6-year-old trans girl; and Phoenix is 4 years old, and therefore classifying Phoenix’s gender is a little more difficult—4-year-old Phoenix says “I am a girl boy, a boy who wants to be a girl,” but as the years go by, Phoenix’s journey is perhaps the…

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  8. Making my peace with Star Trek: Discovery

    Three years ago, when Star Trek: Discovery (or DISCO as we call it) premiered, I didn’t like it. Now, as its third season draws to a close, I have decided to go back and finally watch season 2. I wanted to give DISCO another chance, and I promised myself that I would go in with fresh eyes and an open mind. My verdict? Well, it’s complicated—season 2 is a lot better than season 1, and I am willing to own that many of the critiques I levelled in that 2017 blog post do not hold up. Yet at the end of the day, I can’t bring myself to say that I liked season 2 of DISCO.

    What was I wrong about in that first blog post? I was critical of how the show handles its characters of colour, and I argued that DISCO doesn’t take enough risks. I think, in hindsight, neither of those critiques are fair—especially not for season 2. I can see now that the writers and producers of this show have tried hard to push the boundaries of what we consider to be “Star Trek,” in a good way, and in my initial defensiveness I wasn’t…

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  9. Free public transit: It’s not about the money

    You can pretend your opposition to free transit is purely economic, but these types of decisions are about race, class, and power.

    Last night, City Council in Thunder Bay announced they would look into proposals that the city make public transit (which means buses here) free. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many councillors were in favour of the idea in principle, and while it’s a little frustrating that they are skeptical of the timetable (free by 2023), some of the practical considerations they raise are in fact exactly the kind of questions a city council should ask before doing something like this. So … kudos to council, I guess?

    But of course, there is the usual peanut gallery of vocal commenters who scream about their tax dollars any time the city has the temerity to talk about improving services on “their dime,” and this is why we can’t have nice things.

    I am not going to make an economic argument for free public transit, nor will I try to convince you that this is a good use of your tax money. However, I want to examine more deeply why there are good reasons for our city to provide free public transit and encourage you to examine your biases. When it comes down to it, being in favour of free transit…

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  10. You hear my voice but you don’t listen

    (TW: (Vocal) dysphoria, misgendering.)

    Last week we had a guest presenter in my virtual English class to talk about resumes. I introduced her, and she thanked my co-teacher by first name. When it came to me, with my full name displayed in Adobe Connect, she paused and said, “And how do you pronounce your name, Mr. Babcock?”

    She had heard my voice, and despite my feminine first name and femme appearance on webcam, her brain had overridden any and all indicators and decided I must be male.

    And it hurts. It hurt in that moment, when I had to correct her in front of 20 silent people on the line. It hurts now to think back to it.

    First, some exposition to help clarify a few questions that might arise out of curiosity! Trans folx taking testosterone do experience changes in their voice, because testosterone has the side effect of thickening the vocal cords. People like myself, who are instead taking estrogen, don’t experience changes to their voice. Yes, voice training exists, and trans folx of all types often undertake this as part of their journey. Believe me, it is on my radar, but this post is not…

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