Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Recent Posts

  1. 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 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. An open letter to Thunder Bay city councillors re: library cuts

    What follows is a letter I emailed to city councillors Albert Aiello, Mark Bentz, and Brian Hamilton.

    Dear Councillors,

    I'm writing to convey my dismay and disappointment regarding your stances on the operation of the Thunder Bay Public Library, as reported in the TBNewsWatch article of Jan 26, "City council eyes cuts to public library."

    Closing a branch merely to save money might seem like no big deal for those of us privileged enough to drive in this city. For many, including those who rely on TBPL for essential services like Internet access, this creates new hurdles. What may be a 10- or 15-minute walk for some neighbourhood kids or someone who needs to check their email suddenly becomes a bus ride of half an hour or more. While it may be true, as Coun. Bentz's research suggests, that Thunder Bay has more branches than comparable cities, I'd suggest that's not germane: just as TBPL is itself a leader, rather than a follower, when it comes to library innovation and community outreach, so too should Thunder Bay lead rather than follow what other cities do.

    Coun. Aiello's suggestion that the library reduce its collection development budget comes from a…

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  5. The battle over education isn't about the money

    The government is keen to make the battle over education all about the money. But it isn't and has never been about that. This is about ideology, plain and simple.

    You have to hand it to Minister Lecce: he has at least been consistent about his talking points. He repeats them, almost word for word, in every interview and press conference he gives. He's fighting for the students, and teachers are refusing to negotiate in good faith because we want an unfair amount of compensation. His government is the reasonable one, the one that has “moved” on negotiating positions like class size and mandatory e-learning, while we teachers have stubbornly refused to accept the offer of a 1% wage increase for each year.

    If you take Minister Lecce at his word, then no wonder you see the unions and our job action as petty. His government is just trying to pay down the debt created by those irresponsible Liberals, and if increasing class sizes and moving students towards e-learning to cut education worker positions is how they need to cut costs, well … that's what has to be done, right? Yes.

    The problem is that it's not that simple. It's never that simple.

    Both sides have been throwing numbers out into the void like they're going out of style. Lecce keeps repeating that OSSTF's cost-of-living increase in wages (which…

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  6. We are not the enemy

    Tomorrow my local district of OSSTF, the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, is holding its strike vote. This vote determines whether we union members give our leadership a mandate to engage in job action, once we are in a legal position to do so, if they feel it is warranted. This could take many forms, from work-to-rule to rotating strikes to an all-out strike. It’s not something we do lightly. Although the Ford government is sadly not unusual in its unproductive approach to bargaining with the unions of teachers, support staff, nurses, and other public sector employees, it is certainly more vicious and more perfidious. No other government has so quickly sought to shift the rhetoric and vilify hard-working people, like myself, for seeking to preserve the education system we have and obtain minimal cost-of-living adjustments to our wages.

    At 30 years old, I’m young enough that the last time teachers went on strike in Ontario, I was affected as a student instead of a teacher. This is my 7th year of teaching. During the previous contract negotiations 4 years ago, there was some discussion of striking, and I wrote a defence of striking as a response to a letter…

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  7. Supercut

    "And in my head / The visions never stop / … There's just a supercut." (I know it's a song about love and loss, but I still love supercuts, mmkay?)

    A very young me and my brother, standing next to each other on the sidewalk, in windbreakers.

    I'm in Grade 4, and I'm holding a book from the school library all about idioms, which is entirely on brand. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher by that point, by the way. (The kid on the right is my younger brother, Brad.) And we're wearing fluorescent windbreakers, the height of ’90s fashion!

    Me standing next to my friend Lauren, who is much shorter than me.

    Although I'm sure I can find photos between 1999 and 2005 if I look somewhere, most of my extant digital collection dates back to 2005, when I got my first digital camera. Here I am in 2008, a year out of high school. I visited my friend Lauren, who lives in Ohio and whom I had only known online, for about 3 years. It was my first time travelling by myself, and back then going to meet someone you'd only ever known online (and stay at their house for two weeks) was still quite adventurous.

    This also begins my long history of awkwardly taking photos with people who are much shorter than me.

    Three women I worked with at the art gallery and me sitting in what I believe is Applebee's. From left to right: Dayna, Thea, Brittany, and me.

    You know what the secret is to avoiding awkward tall shots? Take the group shots sitting down! I believe this is in an Applebee's in 2010. At this point I had…

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  8. Fun, Food, and Friendship in Montréal

    Last year I visited one of my best friends in her new town of Montreal. From pretty much the moment my plane landed in Thunder Bay at the end of that vacation, I was looking forward to returning again the next year. This summer has had its share of ups and downs, but nothing was going to deter me from getting to spend some time with Rebecca in person in Montréal again. So on August 16, I flew back to Montréal for some more fun, food, and friendship.

    Fun

    It’s safe to say we took everything we loved last year and doubled down on it. I’ll talk about the food separately in the next section of the post. But most of the fun simply came from being in Montréal and from walking around, both with Rebecca or on my own.

    Rebecca lives in the Plateau, a very historical yet well-preserved residential neighbourhood, with Mont Royal Ave very close to her house. You could eat at a different place on that street every day for a year and still have options! We walked up and down Mont Royal so many times I lost count, both for shopping and food…

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  9. My big break

    I broke my elbow in early June. This was the first time I broke a bone, and the experience was enlightening on many levels.

    "Ouch, that must have hurt."

    That’s usually what people say when they see the scar. The funny thing is, it didn't. Not really (thank you, shock). When it happened, I felt fine, as long as I didn’t move my arm. Which, I guess, was probably the first sign something was seriously wrong.

    The whole point of an accident, of course, is that you seldom see it coming. When I woke up that morning and decided to bike to work, already a bit in a rush, I didn’t think I wouldn’t ever make it there. I didn’t think I'd be having my first real surgery (wisdom teeth don't count) two days later. But here we are, two months and lots of X-rays and physiotherapy and an arm brace later.

    "Oh, did you get hit by a car?"

    That’s the next question, after I reveal I broke my elbow by falling off my bike. It’s a reasonable guess, given the way a lot of motorists treat cyclists like inconvenient obstacles instead of vehicles sharing a road. But the answer is still no.

    I miscalculated, if I want to be generous. I screwed up, is what I say when I want to…

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  10. Maybe we should start that fire

    Canadian politics is desperately lacking in anyone with as much fire as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and that's a problem.

    Confession: I follow a lot of Americans, many of whom have an interest in politics, on Twitter. So I've been hearing a lot about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the rookie new Democratic member of the U.S. House of Congress. She has been getting a lot of pushback from the elements of American society who can't handle the fact that a young, opinionated, competent, dedicated, socialist woman of colour has actually been elected to Congress, let alone is now following through on her lofty promises not to immediately succumb to the system of corrupted checks-without-balances that is emblematic of that institution. As a Canadian, it has been interesting to watch this happen against the backdrop of the U.S. federal government shutdown (in a horrified, "what the hell are you doing to your own federal employees" kind of way).

    But I'm not American, and so this got me thinking more about politics back here in Canada, especially because we are actually in a federal election year now. And watching the furor over AOC south of the border, I just can't help but … yearn for something like that here.

    I'm 29 years old, and this will be my fourth time voting in a federal…

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