Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Recent Posts

  1. Socialized male

    In which I talk to my cis allies about my personal take on the idea that I was socialized male and what that means for my lived experience as a woman.

    Arguments against the idea that trans women are women tend to fall into two camps: biological (“there are only 2 sexes and you can’t change your sex”), and social (“gender is a social construct and you are socialized in a certain way from birth, so you can’t change how you’ve been socialized—once male, always male”). Julia Serano has written an excellent piece tearing apart both approaches. This post is not an argument. I am not trying to convince anyone that I am a woman. I don’t need to do that, because I don’t need you to believe I’m a woman for me to be one. Indeed, I find the whole notion that some people feel that they get to “debate” me and other trans people about our gender to be tiresome.

    Instead, I’m writing this post primarily for my cis allies who might be curious about this whole “socialized male” idea. I’m talking to all of you, particularly my cis women allies but cis people in general, who support me, affirm me, love me, accept me, and are just here to listen and learn from my experiences. I am sharing here, not debating with TERFs. I hope…

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  2. Queerness as context

    Knowing I was ace didn’t automatically mean I identified as queer. It took me years of learning (and unlearning) to embrace the larger community.

    I’ve pretty much always known I’m ace (asexual) even before I knew the label for it. But for a long time after I knew the label, I didn’t really know (or understand) that means I’m a member of the queer community.

    Partly this happened because asexuality and aromanticism are often excluded. I guess we’re super threatening or something, running around helter-skelter all not being attracted to all y’all. Oooh, so scary. And this exclusion and erasure means that LGBT identities are quite visible as “queer” but other identities, not so much. (That being said, you’re probably aware that even those four letters have fights sometimes—there are people who think it should be LGB, and there are people who think it should be LGT, because biphobia is a real problem in our community too!) So, growing up, when I was exposed to examples of queerness and Pride, it was always about an overt performance of gender and sexual diversity that didn’t reflect my experience.

    My personal experience of my asexuality has been absence of sexuality. I say this because there are many diverse experiences of asexuality. Some asexual people, unfortunately, do not come to an understanding of themselves until later in…

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  3. Ratings are not recommendations

    A caveat lector for those who enjoy my reviews: sometimes new information comes to light that changes my opinion of books or authors I’ve regarded highly in the past.

    This morning I woke up and checked Twitter and then kind of (but not really) regretted it. See, the hive mind often keeps you helpfully informed of things you ought to know, especially when prominent people are being problematic—yet once in a while, it fails to do this. Such was the case with the revelation to me that Caroline Criado Perez is a TERF and indeed has been for a while, and cue my headdesking because last November I gave her book Invisible Women 5 stars and a glowing review.

    GIF of Picard facepalming

    This threw me into somewhat of a quandary. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the book. I think it makes salient points about the problems that women (both cis and trans) face in a society largely designed by and for men. But I don’t want to be supporting the livelihood of people who do not include me in their feminism.

    Options ran through my head:

    • Remove the review. This feels ahistorical though. I said what I said; my opinion is changing in light of new information.
    • Revise the review to be more critical. Without re-reading the book, though, this feels disingenuous. Also, as far as I recall, the

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  4. Pride isn’t up for debate

    When we allow elected representatives to debate recognizing Pride Month and symbols, we send a message that 2SLGBTQ+ people’s rights are up for debate.

    Last night, the Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees voted to officially declare June as Pride Month henceforth, and to fly the Pride flag at all TCDSB schools, as well as its board office. This is a sharp contrast to what happened at Halton Catholic District School Board last month. This is a victory and should be celebrated as such. The TCDSB is one of the largest school boards in the province, certainly the largest Catholic board in Ontario. Hopefully, other Catholic boards that haven’t yet followed suit will take this as a sign to do so—this could lead to significant, meaningful change in the way 2SLGBTQ+ students feel represented and welcome within these schools. Kudos to teachers like Paolo De Buono who have been campaigning for better 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion despite facing significant personal reprisal, as well as to the students and student trustees who lead the way on showing us that these issues are indeed important to them.

    Yet amid that feeling of triumph, I also feel compelled to ask the question so many were asking on Twitter last night and during the HCDSB board meeting: why did this come down to a vote at all? Why…

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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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