Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Recent Posts

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Masculinity: It’s not for me

    In which I reflect on masculinity, and why I was never a man, even when we all thought I was one.

    Sometimes even the most supportive and inclusive people in my ally corner get confused when I assert that I was never a man. “What do you mean?” they ask. “You were a man for 30 years!” Language and concepts are confusing, but let me talk a little about how I came out to myself, and I hope then you will understand why, despite 30 years of misconceptions, I was never actually a man.

    Late last year, I inadvertently introduced pronoun pins to my workplace. Having been introduced to them via the Desert Bus for Hope marathon that I watch every November, I ordered pins for myself (and some gifts for friends) from an Etsy store. I proudly pinned the “he/him” badge to my ID lanyard, and I introduced myself on the first day of class to my students with my pronouns. (If you’re cisgender, part of being a good ally is normalizing sharing your pronouns.) My boss noticed my pin and liked the idea enough to order a bunch for all our staff to wear, if they chose.

    So it felt ironic, come January of this year, that I was considering changing my pronouns. Indeed, wearing that…

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  6. Ace in transition

    It’s Asexuality Awareness Week, and I want to talk about how coming out to myself as transgender has affected my understanding of my asexuality. Incidentally, while I’ve written blog posts for arospec awareness week (in February), this seems to be my first post for ace week!

    If you want to learn more about the basics of asexuality, the Trevor Project has some very good starting points. Also, my friend Becky interviewed me all about being aromantic and asexual for an episode of our podcast, so you can hear more about asexuality from my point of view!

    The short form? Being asexual means I don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, of any gender.

    Coming Out

    Coming out as asexual was, for me, a very different experience from coming out as trans. I knew I was different by the end of high school, and I embraced the label of asexual sometime during university. When I moved back to Canada, after 2 years of teaching in England, I gradually became aware that asexuality falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and I started to explore what that means for me. I put “asexual” (and eventually “aro/ace”) in my Twitter bio and began…

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  7. An embarrassment of love

    Today I am 31. I have been wished well and received gifts. I have also taken some moments to myself to meditate on the year behind me and the year ahead. Oh, and I cleaned my bathroom and did laundry, because Sunday chores don’t stop just because it’s your birthday.

    Last year I shared a “supercut” of my life in the form of photos I could find from my various eras. I talked a lot about friendship and about loving my friends:

    I'm 30 years old today, and I'm content. I'm not always happy, and I'm not always positive. But I will always, eventually, be okay, as long as I continue to have these people around me … who let me care for them joyfully and intensely…. Friendship as the patience that comes with knowing that “I love you” has as many manifestations as people have days in their lives, and if I love you, I will make sure you know.

    I have written about this idea before, that friendship is a verb, something you must consciously do. What I haven’t written much about, what I found myself reflecting on this weekend, is the reciprocal effect of accepting love…

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  8. When I look in the mirror

    For the last 6 years of my career, I have worn the same outfit to work every day. I’m not exaggerating: I had 5 pairs of trousers, each a different colour; along with 3 styles of pullover sweaters in a few colours. And I hated this outfit, to the point where I—somewhat ironically, in hindsight—referred to it as my teacher drag. The moment I came home from work, I would change out of it in favour of a T-shirt and shorts (or, if indeed it was too cold even for me, sweat pants).

    Last Wednesday I returned to work in our building since we shut down at March Break, and for the first time (not counting working from home), I wore a dress. I wore another one on Thursday, and another on Friday.

    Photo of the 3 outfits I wore. The first is a burgundy dress with a floral motif, along with a white cardigan; the second is a grey and white striped sheathe dress with a black cardigan; the third is a green cami dress with white polka dots and an orange cardigan.

    I loved it. I love it. I’m so happy. But to understand why, you need to understand that this is not really about clothing.

    In my previous post, I discussed how gender dysphoria began to manifest for me in my mid-to-late twenties. In general, however, I prefer to talk about my feelings of gender incongruence, because I believe this is a more useful and…

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  9. Cherish

    My hair is taking its sweet time growing longer. (Other things are growing too, but I’m not going to talk about those here!) And, you know, I’m ok with my hair taking its time. It would be unsettling to wake up one day and suddenly find myself with long, flowing locks.

    (Content warning in this post for gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia discussion.)

    We don’t talk enough about our bodies. Or rather, we talk a lot about our bodies, but we tend to be conditioned to talk about them in negative ways. We judge ourselves and others constantly: she’s too fat; he’s too thin; they’re too dark; her hair’s too kinky; his hair’s too grey; I’m letting myself go; ugh, delete that selfie—you can see my double chin. Our corporeal conversations are so often centred on what we dislike about our bodies. I think that’s a shame—you should not be ashamed.

    We tend to think of changes to our bodies as catastrophic, if not in tenor than in temporal stages: infancy, pubescence, adolescence, adulthood, senescence. These stages come over us suddenly sometimes, or they sneak up on us, but the result is inevitably a great deal of physical change. Yet…

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  10. Announcing Kara.Reviews

    Most of you know I post book reviews on Goodreads. But did you know I’ve been doing this for 12 years, for every book I’ve read, amounting to over 1600 reviews?

    If I sound like I’m bragging, I am, because that’s the point of this post: I write book reviews; I write a lot of book reviews; and I’m good at it. So prolific and so good at it that today I’m launching a dedicated book review website: Kara.Reviews

    What’s Kara.Reviews?

    On this site, you’ll find:

    • every review I have posted on Goodreads
    • new reviews at your fingertips
    • an easy way to browse all those old reviews, by bookshelf (tag), numerous links from other reviews, or searching for a book/author
    • a sign-up form for my newsletter

    A Newsletter, You Say?

    I know some of my friends and family enjoy reading my reviews but aren’t on Goodreads, and I’m bad at remembering to tweet links to my book reviews. At the moment I plan on publishing a new issue every 2 weeks, starting tomorrow, August 19. So subscribe now for the first issue!

    Each issue will have links to all my reviews since the last issue, plus some kind of…

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