Selected Writing

2019

Jonathan Van Ness’ sponsored coming-out is not activism, Daily Xtra

What merit is there to activism that only demands we buy more, not change the policies that kill us?

Why Are We Still On A Witch-Hunt For “Marxists”? Canadaland

 In the conservative imagination, Marxism means everything and nothing. Time and again, we have seen politicians skew to the centre for fear of being attacked on the basis of offering a truly progressive and democratic political vision.

What Gender Is My Brain? The Dangerous Phrenology of “Brain Sex”, Wear Your Voice

History raises cause for concern about the stakes associated with relying upon brain imaging to dictate the source of transgender identity.

The enduring, uneasy attraction between gay and straight men, Daily Xtra

The James Charles drama provides a window into a larger cultural conversation (happening both as text and subtext) around the relationships that exist between gay and straight men, and how those relationships morph in the public eye. What does it mean when gay men desire straight partners, and what do straight men gain from pursuing queer or closeted people? And more importantly, how are these relationships impacted by imbalances of power?

Spironolactone, a Standard Drug in Hormone Treatment for Trans Women, Has Controversial Side Effects, Slate Outward

Because there is no incentive, financial or social, for cisgender practitioners to understand transgender health care as complex, evolving, and individualized, it is easy for them to continue prescribing a drug that only does half the job that trans women need it to do. Until our capitalist medical system changes, trans women will continue to get substandard care. 

Does the concept of a ‘trans brain’ help or hurt our communities? Daily Xtra

There’s political utility to a “born this way” narrative. But the idea of a biological source of transness raises more questions than it answers.

Why do Canadian conservatives love to pick on trans people? Daily Xtra

The sad fact is that conservatives and Canadian nationalists have a financial and political incentive to demonize trans people.

Jordan Peterson has no idea what he’s talking about, A.Side

Populist politics encourage us to believe that people are not in revolt against an unjust system, but against social corruption, infection, and invasion. The subtext of this message has everything to do with blame. 

Eating for Free is the perfect pop culture podcast for the post-truth age, A.Side

Connecting the dots between celebrity gossip and capitalist crisis, the podcast by Joan Summers and Matthew Lawson investigates the stories behind the stories.

Is astrology becoming whitewashed? A.Side

For many who work as astrologers, and put a lot of care and time into their practice, it’s hard to watch the successes of those who might not take it so seriously — especially if those success stories come from already privileged backgrounds. 

It’s about time we ask why men aren’t funny, A.Side

Because men are typically the ones in positions of decision-making authority, these narrow male perspectives are seen as the norm and remain unchallenged.

Know Before You Go: Tips for Transgender and Nonbinary Travelers, AFAR

For people whose gender identity doesn’t match the one assigned to them on their birth certificate, dealing with air travel can present a host of obstacles.

2018

Each Death is a Preventable Tragedy, This Magazine

When they are targets of violence, trans women are often dismissed as victims of their of circumstances — especially if they are sex workers or people of colour. Not having a fixed address, being potentially exposed to drugs, and subverting assigned expectations of gender and sexuality contribute to a public perception of carelessness and deviance that tells people and institutions, like the police, how much they have to care about those they see as putting themselves at risk. This is a story about loss and injustice.

What It’s Like to Medically Transition As a Nonbinary Person, them.

Medical professionals tend to approach transition as a recipe with a set list of ingredients, a scientific exercise with reliable results, or a 12-step program that requires close adherence to come out the other side. How do you embody a category of experience that many people don’t even believe exists? How do you make sense of your body and how it’s changing when all available narratives feel too gendered to apply?

Taking Your Transition Into Your Own Hands, Briarpatch Magazine

Trans people regularly encounter unsustainably long waiting lists for trips to far-flung offices. Whether or not you’re able to access hormones is often up to the discretion of individual practitioners, who can simply decide they’re not comfortable writing a prescription. Many jurisdictions don’t offer health coverage for transition-related care, and costs can be prohibitive.
When the going gets tough, people often have to get creative — including lying to your doctor, self-medicating, and ordering hormones online. This is a story about DIY transitions.

This story is the cover story and the winner of the 2018 Andrea Walker Prize for writing on women’s & trans people’s health.

Why reporters need to be more responsible in their coverage of trans communities, This Magazine

The way cisgender people write about detransition reflects assumptions about transgender experiences as binary and linear. In these stories, trans people aren’t recognized as human beings living real lives; they’re simply characters playing their part in a cautionary tale.

Canadian Media Makes A Mess Of Covering The Transgender Community, Canadaland

Can a genuine conversation about the issues facing transgender Canadians take place without adequate representation?

Does Transitioning Change the Way You Smoke Weed? Merry Jane

Transgender people don’t all experience dysphoria in the same way, but most speak to a sense of anxiety associated with being misrecognized and over-scrutinized based on their gender presentation. For many people, cannabis is a useful tool. But it can just as easily go the other way.

RuPaul’s Comments About Women in Drag Show a Misunderstanding of Gender, Teen Vogue

Drag isn’t about faking it; it’s about serving it.

Can you sing your way out of the closet? A.Side

What does it mean for artists to share undeniably queer experiences, but not actually come out?

Can watching British gardening shows turn you into an adult? A.Side

There’s no real excuse to actively limit oneself, but comfort zones are so-called for a reason.

Is the culture around makeup an expression of feminism? A.Side

We shouldn’t need to warp our feminism to accommodate our lifestyles.

American politics have always been trashy TV. So, why can’t Omarosa win? A.Side

Celebrity culture, from reality TV to modern art, is deeply connected to American politics.

Shawn Mendes isn’t gay, and we need to get over it, A.Side

What does queerness look like, and how do we know it when we see it? What’s the difference between the quiet fact of heterosexuality and the open secret of the closet?

Pull Quotes Podcast — Note to Media: Hire More Trans People, Ryerson Review of Journalism

I joined Al Donato on the RRJ’s Pull Quotes podcast to talk about common problems in popular discourse around trans people, how Canadian media can improve its coverage of trans issues, and the conditions facing trans people working in journalism.

2017

How Jewish Media Excludes Jewish Voices — and how one podcast is trying to change that, Canadaland

For Jewish Canadians who do not see themselves and their narratives represented, the media is just one more unsafe space where a constrained definition of Jewishness is the only acceptable norm.

Why banning uniformed police at Pride will actually make the event more inclusive, CBC News

For many white, straight, or cisgender people, it’s easy to forget what the uniformed police officers who dance on parade floats do on the other 364 days of the year. For the rest of us, it’s impossible.
Co-written with Vincent Mousseau.

Canadian Jewish News Loses Last Regular Left-leaning Columnist Over Word “Occupation”, Canadaland

If the editorial guidelines argue that some things and some voices just should not be published, it’s no wonder that publishing them can make life difficult for the sole writer who is tasked with doing so.

Pro-Palestinian Groups Are The Real Victims Of Campus Censorship, Huffington Post

There is plenty of sympathy among pundits and politicians for folks like Shepherd and Peterson — but none for Palestinian students who object to the occupation of their homeland.

Toronto’s Jewish Left is Alive and Well and Resisting Extremism, Torontoist

The past, as they say, didn’t go anywhere. Energized by Trump, Breitbart, and the Rebel, far right groups are once again out on the streets. It is not a very comfortable time to be Jewish in Toronto. Progressive voices are more vital than ever.

SHORT CUTS – Goddamnit, Fine, Let’s Talk About Jordan Peterson, Canadaland

I co-hosted Episode #143 of the CANADALAND Short Cuts podcast, and talked with Jesse Brown about free speech scares, bad paper policies, and what’s worth debating on provincially-subsidized television.

Toronto Needs Immediate Solutions to Ongoing Homelessness Crisis, Torontoist

Several agencies on the frontlines helping Toronto street-involved residents called an emergency press conference April 18 to address the city’s ongoing homelessness crisis.

Sam Smith is being gendered without his consent, A.Side

There are an abundance of ideas about trans and queer people, but far fewer of our own stories: our narratives are often decided for us, whether we asked for them or not.

Justin Trudeau’s camera-ready liberalism is obscuring the rise of Canadian nationalism, Mic

Don’t let the popularity of Justin Trudeau’s telegenic liberal mug distract you — nationalism is on the rise in Canada, and conservative politicians seem to be jumping onboard.

Pride Toronto is banning police floats— and now police want the city to defund the group, Mic

Police in Toronto asked city councillors to cut $260,000 from Pride Toronto’s funding in retaliation against the LGBTQ nonprofit after Pride membership voted to implement the demands of Black Lives Matter-Toronto in January.

Toronto City Council’s Repeated Threats to Defund Pride are Homophobic and Racist, Torontoist

Groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and Black Lives Matter-TO demand that we recognize Indigenous rights and racial justice and protect those who are directly threatened by the presence of uniformed police.

Toronto Council Gearing Up For Another Battle Over Pride Funding, Torontoist

For weeks, Campbell has been trying to rally support on City Council to deny Pride their grant in retaliation for the decision to disinvite uniformed police contingent and floats from marching in the parade.

Basic Income Is No Silver Bullet, But It May Still Save Us, Torontoist

Human rights advocates criticize the Ontario government’s proposal as inadequate and untrustworthy. At the same time, some view basic income as a powerful tool within a larger toolkit for fighting poverty.

Anti-Muslim Hate Groups Plan to March in the Toronto Pride Parade, Torontoist

Far-right groups invited the Jewish Defence League to join them in marching in the 2017 Toronto Pride parade, carrying Islamophobic signs and “severed heads”.

Who Gets Scammed? Joanne, Nan, and Images of Trans Fetishism, Guts Magazine

When it comes to images of transgender women, whether we want to be or not, we are all voyeurs.

When Transitioning Changes How We Have Sex, The Establishment

We’re often made to associate sexual potency and pleasure with “finishing” in the traditional sense. Hearing my friends tell it differently was another reminder that the way we tend to think about our bodies during sex is heavily shaped by sexual media that predominantly caters to straight, cis men.

2016

A Response To ‘Why Faux-Queens Deserve A Place In Drag Culture’, The Establishment

Women have always been doing drag. Trans women, cis women, queer and gender non-conforming folks of all identities — all have been deeply embedded in drag communities since the development of the North American drag landscape.

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