Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Recent Posts

  1. Changing my mind about Star Trek: Discovery

    Season 3 fixes so much I disliked about the first two seasons.

    Last year, I made my peace with Star Trek: Discovery (DISCO). I recognized that even though the show doesn’t hit me the same way some of the previous series do, it has merits and it’s understandable why some people enjoy it so much. I concluded:

    I will watch you because you are Trek, even if you are not my favourite flavour of Trek, and I will enjoy you as much as I can, even if I will never enjoy you as much as I do DS9 or TNG. And that’s ok, just as it’s ok for other Trekkies not to enjoy some of the classic series and to find in DISCO their favourite version of Trek.

    I wrote that post just as season 3 ended, but it took the trailer for season 4 (coming out next month) to galvanize me into watching season 3, which I did over the course of the last two weeks. My overall impression? It’s actually not that bad. Watchable, even!

    The first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) are infamously bad compared to the rest of the series. Indeed, many curated lists of “must watch” TNG episodes suggest skipping most of those…

    Read more…

  2. Friendship, but in high fidelity

    To be asexual in our society is to be told constantly, in ways big and small, that you are broken. But we can change that, and everyone will be better for it.

    I’m always bragging to everyone who will listen about my incredible friendship with one of my best friends. It’s hard to put labels on our friendship—sometimes we say ride-or-die, but nothing really describes what we have, because English lacks a robust vocabulary for friendship versus the privileged way we talk about romance. All I know is that ours is a relationship that transcends the casual intimacy of friend yet doesn’t require the physical intimacy of sex or whatever the hell kind of intimacy romance is (I’m still not sure what that is).

    I told the story of how we met in a blog post back in December 2017, when our friendship was very new, saying:

    …there are no words sufficient for how much this new friendship has transformed my life for the better. Some people you meet and take a long time to become close to, for whatever reason—and others you barely get to know before you feel like they’ve been in your life forever.

    Well, four years later, here we are—Doctor Who Sundays bent and stretched into virtuality sometimes by demands of distance or pandemics but never curtailed. I knew, right from the start of our friendship,…

    Read more…

  3. Yes, whiteness makes you less marginalized even when you’re trans

    Intersectionality means I can’t separate my whiteness from my transness, nor can I ignore how the privilege the former identity grants me moderates the marginalization of the latter identity. We white trans people need to do better at acknowledging this.

    So the past week has been shitty for trans people, it’s true. Whether it’s Netflix doubling down in support of Dave Chappelle’s transphobia-as-humour, Texas making progress towards banning trans kids from sports, or the BBC running hit pieces on trans-inclusive charity organization Stonewall UK, it’s easy to feel like we are under fire from all sides. And it is certainly true that the status of transgender people the world over requires improvement.

    Yet as I dip my toe into the discourse on social media swirling around these injustices, I find myself recoiling not just from the discomfort of the initial events but from the rhetoric that some trans people and allies use. Any time someone attempts to compare transphobia to racism, to say something like, “Mmm, you wouldn’t say that about Black people, would you?” I cringe. It’s not the same, at all, and we need to stop it.

    When I say “we” I’m speaking mostly to my fellow white trans people, particularly white trans women. (And maybe, I guess, to Naomi Wolf.)

    Often forgotten, yet seldom marginalized

    To understand what I’m talking about, first we need to talk about the idea of marginalization. Loosely put, this…

    Read more…

  4. The audacity of coming out

    The transphobic narrative is a lie. Let’s spend more time talking about how awesome it is to finally be yourself.

    In two more days I go back to school. I’m doing my best not to think about that and distract myself with other thoughts, such as how far I have come in the 18 months since I came out as trans. Last September 2 was the first time I wore a dress to work and felt like I was fully inhabiting my new self. In a case of déjà vu, school for me shut down in March 2021 about the same time it did in March 2020, and we are returning—physically to the building—on September 2 once more! So this Thursday will be a kind of anniversary for me, a very affirming one.

    Trigger warning for a brief but intense description of the transphobic violence in our society including suicide and murder.

    As many trans people will tell you, there is a big difference between realizing you’re trans, coming out, and starting some kind of transition. For me, these three events happened to coincide closely. That’s not always the case. Lots of trans people spend years knowing they are trans, from childhood or beyond, but they delay coming out for a variety of reasons that are often structural. Many trans…

    Read more…

  5. Neither angels nor demons: it’s time we stop treating teachers as exceptional

    Teachers in our society are subject to vocational awe, put on a pedestal and told we should be grateful for the role we play. But this exceptional reputation is really just a smokescreen for devaluing our labour and refusing to address the problems with our education system.

    Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a “normal” job. I know, I know—there’s no such thing as a normal job. The 9-to-5 staple of TV sitcoms is, depending on whom you ask, an endangered species or a myth that never existed in the first place. I get it. Similarly, I’m not trying to romanticize other jobs or insist that teachers have it worse than the rest of y’all. Certainly I’m not being called at 2 am because a server went down or harangued by a client because the pipe I supposedly fixed is leaking again. Every job has its challenges and struggles. Yet I feel that teaching and some similar professions face an interesting paradox in which our struggles are invalidated by the myth that we asked for it, that by signing on for this profession we signed up for these struggles and that makes it ok to perpetuate them.

    I’m going to use teachers throughout this piece because it has a narrower specificity than “educators” and I want to speak specifically from my experience as a public (secondary) teacher. Moreover, I recognize that the word teacher holds a venerable connotation in our cultural consciousness…

    Read more…

  6. One issue is many

    So Canadians will be heading to the polls on my birthday. Not the birthday gift I wanted from our Prime Minister, but I guess it’s the only one I’m going to get. We had a federal election only 2 years ago. Justin Trudeau claims it’s important to give us all a voice in who will be steering the country out of this pandemic (which is still happening). I am all for participating in the democratic process, but the cynic in me thinks you really just hope you’re going to get a majority this time.

    Anyway, I used to talk a lot more about politics on my blog (I used to blog a lot more in general). Nowadays I mostly yell on Twitter; last week I explained that I am a one-issue voter in this election. Nevertheless, I feel like it’s necessary that I register my opinion here, in a less ephemeral place than Twitter. I want to be able to look back in five years and know where I stood at the time.

    As I said in that tweet, the one issue on my mind for this election is climate change. I popped an allergy pill almost every day…

    Read more…

  7. 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…

    Read more…

  8. 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…

    Read more…

  9. 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

    Read more…

  10. 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…

    Read more…