Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Recent Posts

  1. What's in a name?

    About a month after coming out, I wrote a post about why I chose the name Kara. Today I am excited and happy to announce that, courtesy of the Government of Ontario, my name is now legally Kara Doreen Rose Babcock.

    My middle names, Doreen and Rose, are the names of my maternal and paternal grandmothers, respectively. Choosing middle names was much more difficult than choosing my first name! I briefly considered no middle name. Ultimately I decided to honour my female forebears on either side of my family. My grandma Doreen is no longer with us, so she never learned of my journey. My grandma Rose is still going strong and is extremely supportive of her “new” granddaughter. So I’m proud to carry both of these names into this next stage of my life.

    Why I Changed My Name

    I knew pretty much from the moment I decided to be Kara that I would be changing my name legally. Not every trans person does, of course. Some trans people keep their birth names; some just go by a nickname but don’t mind having a different legal name. Nevertheless, in my life, my legal name comes up a heck…

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  2. Validation

    A quick reminder to cis allies about how small words of affirmation have an outsize importance on the lives of your trans friends.

    I’m marking online summer school courses, which we open up not just to our usual adult learners but also to regular high school students seeking to earn credits over the summer. Whereas my adult learners always call me Kara, these students are defaulting to Ms. Babcock (and in some cases, through what hilarious assumptions I know not, Mrs. Babcock…).

    I didn’t expect this to make me so happy, but it does. I think it’s the aggregate effect of seeing it so much, on so many assignment headers and “Dear Ms. Babcock, …” in emails. Y’all have been so good about calling me Kara, and I appreciate it, but there’s something extra affirming about this gendered honorific being applied so … casually to me.

    I can’t speak for any trans person other than myself, of course, but I would wager that most of us like and crave words of affirmation. The particular words and phrases will vary from person to person—I personally love being called “girl” or “sister”, but probably don’t apply those to your non-binary friend unless they’re cool with it. If you ever think you are going overboard or laying it on too thick with your trans friend ……

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  3. Review of Disclosure

    I don’t remember the first time I saw a transgender person portrayed on screen. Probably my first memory of someone crossdressing is Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie which, like so many movies in our childhood, I enjoyed as a kid and now look back up with a cringey awareness of how problematic it is. So, for as long as I can remember, I only knew that the representation of trans people in TV and movies was very problematic. I didn’t learn about transgender people and issues from TV, or even from books—I learned about it from the Internet, mostly from Twitter. And it makes me wonder: if portrayals of trans people had been more numerous, and better, when I was a kid, would I have come out to myself sooner?

    Disclosure is a documentary that premiered at Sundance and was recently picked up by Netflix and is about transgender representation on screen. The format is simple: numerous trans people of all genders share their thoughts in interview format, and in between, we get clips from specific TV shows or movies. The simplicity of this format really appealed to me and made it easy to dip in and out of the…

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  4. When they come for you

    I largely try to stay out of "discourse" on social media these days, and coming out is not going to change that. But for the record…

    Thank you to everyone who has reached out asking how I’m doing. I’m doing just fine. I have a nice filter bubble on Twitter that lets me avoid the riptide of discourse and play, mostly carefree, in the shallows.

    Thank you to everyone who has spoken up. Instead of hate, I just see people celebrating trans people on my timeline, making me feel loved and welcomed. I continue to see the calls for justice, the calls for reform, the calls for change that are so much more urgent and important than a white woman misbehaving and then doubling down on her misbehaviour. Black lives matter, Black trans lives matter, and let us not be drawn into digression because someone with a little fame wants to throw a public tantrum.

    Let’s just deplatform her already and get it over with.

    People asked me if I’m ok, and I say I am, because I’m not sitting here staring at my screen late at night, yelling at eggs and TERFs. Except here I am, sitting, staring at my screen late at night, weighed down by … something. Am I ok? I don’t know. I’m still processing a lot.

    You need to understand that,…

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  5. Being trans-inclusive takes work

    An example of how easy it can be not to include trans people, and some practical tips on how you can do better.

    Social media makes it very easy these days for companies and organizations to virtue-signal, i.e., to claim to be inclusive and supportive of marginalized identities. But people who experience these marginalizations know that, in reality, most of these companies are not actually inclusive. This usually isn’t malice but rather just not bothering to think about us at all. Today I want to share a fairly minor example—something we call a microaggression, because it didn’t stop me from using the service, but it was still hurtful. I’m actually surprised how much it affected me.

    Being a dutiful daughter, I volunteered to order some pet supplies on behalf of my dad. (Forty-pound bags of cat litter can be heavy!) PetSmart has set up a curbside pickup system, so I figured ordering online and picking it up would be easy. Indeed it was—aside from the single complaint that is the focus of this whole post, I have to say that PetSmart’s site and the process were one of the smoothest experiences I have. They’ve got this down.

    Almost.

    See, when I looked at their website’s instructions for curbside delivery, I was faced with this:

    Bring a valid driver’s license or government‑issued ID. Once you arrive at the store parking lot, call the store & select option

    I haven’t legally changed my name yet,…

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  6. Collapsing the gender wave function

    As with most of you, my emotional state is all over the place right now during this pandemic. However, being trans and having recently come out complicates the picture for sure. I’m largely doing fine, and staying at home is giving me lots of chances to experience euphoria. (Thank you, online shopping!) Nevertheless, not going to work and seeing my colleagues and students means I miss out on other, daily chances for affirmation and to further my social transition.

    I feel very lucky that I came out when I did. Originally, I had considered waiting until May or even the end of June to transition in the workplace. Can you imagine dealing with that in this current situation? I probably just wouldn’t have, and I would have chafed and felt extremely … constrained. My heart goes out to all the trans people who were planning to come out and currently feel unsafe or suddenly unready to do so. Fortunately for me, I came out and transitioned in the workplace just before this all started. Even as the entire world feels uncertain, I get to ride that uncertainty towards, hopefully, a new certainty about myself. However, the most complicated part of…

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  7. Star Trek: Picard is Star Trek meets Mass Effect

    A long time ago now, it seems, I wrote a post about how the then-new Star Trek: Discovery was #NotMyStarTrek. I haven’t watched later seasons, but I stand by the post in general. You can imagine my delight when Patrick Stewart agreed to star in a new Star Trek series that is actually a sequel. He reprises his role as the venerable Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    I like Star Trek: Picard much, much more than Discovery. For some people, this show still won’t be “Trek enough.” There’s a lot more violence (which I don’t like) and profanity (whatever); the show is definitely trying to appeal to what audiences have come to expect since the Star Trek I remember from the late ’90s, early ’00s. Nevertheless, about 8 or 9 episodes into the season, I finally realized why I was enjoying this series so much: it reminds me of Mass Effect.

    Spoilers for the entire first season of Star Trek: Picard, , as well as the Mass Effect trilogy, follow!

    With some notable exceptions, like the time Star Trek: Deep Space Nine visited Earth for a two-parter, the Star Trek universe has…

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  8. Becoming Kara

    At some point, I’ll talk more about reaching the conclusion that I’m trans. For now, I thought I’d talk about choosing a new name. Choosing a name actually was one of the things that helped me accept my trans identity, actually!

    First, a little update! The current situation (the 2019/2020 pandemic, for those of you lucky enough to be reading this in the future) has certainly thrown an interesting twist into everyone's life and timelines, including mine! Certain aspects of my transition are delayed, and experiences I might get to have (like going shopping with friends) curtailed for the time being. Nevertheless, I’m trying to make the most out of my weeks of mostly staying home. I'm shopping online, trying out different outfits and makeup looks, and when I do go out, I push myself to be a bit more daring than I otherwise might have been, since I have so few excuses to get dressed up and try new looks for, say, work or hanging out with friends. I’m pleased to report that I now have quite a nice professional wardrobe, complete with proper footwear, and I’m working on the casual wardrobe now. Prior to the shutdown of our…

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  9. I'm regenerating!

    My friends, the time has come for me to say, "Hello." But no lengthy introductions here, no cute anecdotes. Let's get into it.

    I'm transgender. I am a trans woman. I am a woman.

    My new name is Kara (Car-uh) and my pronouns are she/her. Yes, this includes when talking about or sharing things I've posted in the past, even though my old name is still on there. Check out my name policy for more clarification.

    GIF of the 13th Doctor saying, 'I've had an upgrade, hi!'

    I personally love the metaphor of regeneration for my transition, because it captures the intensity. It reinforces the adage of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Like the Doctor in Doctor Who, my appearance will change—and I’m excited for this (tights! dresses! OMG). Some of my mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and behaviour will change; again, I’m excited to explore how I want to express myself and my femininity.

    At the end of the day, however, each regeneration of the Doctor retains her essential personality traits: her commitment to social justice and equity, to science and curiosity. Likewise, I’m still the same person at my core, because I am not changing who I am. I am just finally recognizing and…

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  10. Tolerating intolerance is always a bad look

    A local organization called the Urban Abbey is allowing an anti-abortion film to be screened in its space. This is not about free speech. It's about bad decisions.

    When you first opened your doors, I was rooting for you. I am not religious (far from it), but the idea that an inclusive, Anglican ministry was rehabilitating a beautiful building in Port Arthur’s downtown and planning to help the poor and vulnerable? I could get behind that. Unfortunately, events of the past week have demonstrated how easily a few poor decisions can undermine years of effort. Your decision to allow Thunder Bay Life to screen the film Unplanned at the Abbey is nothing less than an abrogation of your duties to those very same people.

    As an educator, I am ashamed that, somewhere along the way, myself and my colleagues have failed to help people understand the nuances of the concept of freedom of speech. Legally, morally, philosophically, freedom of speech has always been a quixotic, paradoxical, complicated phenomenon. These days, colloquially, it has morphed into a bludgeon with which to silence and a shield behind which to hide and claim undeserved neutrality.

    Deplatforming is not the same as the suppression of free speech. If Thunder Bay Life were denied the use of the Abbey’s space, there are other places it could screen its film. Charter rights to…

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