Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

4 Articles from December 2020

  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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