Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

3 Articles from April 2020

  1. 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.


    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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  2. 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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  3. 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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