sebastienne: (notebook)
Children and Animals

Yeah, that link says nothing about what this show is, and that's really all we knew - it's by the same people as Callisto, in the slot right after, and featuring three of the same actors.

So no, I wasn't expecting to see a show that actually talked about and represented kink in a clear, joyful, complex-positive light. Not at lunchtime on a Thursday. Not in a show that had no actual sexual contact - I don't think there's even a kiss in it. Just an hour of energy, fear, roleplay, humour (so much humour, and kindness, even when people are being mean). The main characters were played by Cal and Tammy from Callisto (yes, my two favourites) and they are both just such phenomenal performers - maybe I could watch them read a phone book, I don't know. Looking forward to seeing Callisto again today!

A Luxury Cruise through the Horrifying Vacuum of Space

Another pair of performers I could watch doing pretty much anything, Sian & Zoe are alt comedians who did a lot with very little - minimalist props, a petite audience, a strange venue (I mean, it was a standard EdFringe room-conversion, but for some reason the windows were filled with mattresses wrapped in binbags and it was hotter than the surface of the sun. Despite these challenges, they brought joy and energy and the kind of surreal imagination and lateral thinking that reminds me of the Hitchikers Guide text adventure. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes sublime, always hilarious.

Mort, adapted by Tim Foster.

"So", I bounded up to these people as they flyered on the Royal Mile, "who's Tim Foster?"

A few words into their explanation, I cut them off: "so he's not Stephen Briggs, then? Good."

It was marvellous to see a Pratchett play with internally-coherent plot and good pacing. This was charming, had a Light-Entertainmenty feel, though I'm sticking to my interpretation that their Igneous Cutwell was not cross-casting, but was just a witch who'd realised she'd make more money if she set herself up as a wizard. And seeing fresh audiences laugh at jokes that have soothed me for twenty years - that will never get old.

Reefer Madness

This blew me out of my seat. I don't think this cast had a single weak link, I mean any one of them could have carried an entire musical; the intensity of all them working together, every performance a show-stealer, the tight band and the brilliant writing and the joyful chaotic choreography all pulled together perfectly to create the smoothest amateur musical I have ever seen. This would not have disappointed me on a West End stage (although then we'd probably lose the minimalist set and I'd probably not be able to sit in the front row and feel the actors' breath on my face). I liked this better than the film - and the film had Alan Cumming as the narrator. If I didn't already have evening tickets for the rest of my time here, I would DEFINITELY be seeing this again.

Trying to be fair-handed, can I think of any criticisms.. I wasn't always sure that the addition of throwaway pop culture references worked. They were funny - "you'll make Fred Astaire look like Boris Johnson!" but they did break the period immersion, and this is ultimately such a 1930s period piece that a sudden reference to Snapchat, while funny, felt to me like a reminder that this was an amateur show.

But that was the ONLY reminder. Reefer Madness is a whip-smart commentary on how White America reacts to things it doesn't understand; it's smart and sexy and fun and this production will stay with me for a long time.
sebastienne: (notebook)
I went to Edinburgh! In August, this means more theatre than anyone could see in a liftime. [personal profile] kaberett found us a ridiculously central flat right opposite Teviot / George Square, and (of course) I've been trying to see anything that goes anywhere near "queer, feminist burlesque" in its intent or execution.

Most of these reviews are spoilery.

Canon Warriors

A great start! A three-hander, new writing all about the premier feminist puppeteers (only feminist puppeteers) in Thanet (yes, UKIP Thanet). This was sweet and funny and warm and loving, but with a sharp core of realism; at the end, when Fleur has to choose between living a peripatetic lifestyle from beach hut to beach hut with her very unwell and sometimes-abusive girlfriend, or moving in with a Nice Guy From The Council while she gets her life in order... it's very clear that neither choice is freeedom, because that's not on the cards for her as a young queer woman who had to drop out of her degree. There's lots in here about the choices we make when the deck is stacked against us, and how even though we know we can never win, it's worth stating our truths anyway. It's about finding that sweet spot between valuing and centring others in loving, supportive community, and valuing and centring ourselves - while never entirely becoming Aidan who says, "maybe once I'm more established in this job, more secure, I can raise some ethical concerns [about making poor queer women homeless in December]".

Callisto: A Queer Epic

Now this feels like the find of the fringe. Four queer stories spanning centuries - feeling completely separate through character and costume, yet completely connected through how the evolve sparking off each other, scene to scene taking place in different time periods or in several at once. Domestic and intimate, and utterly epic, all at once. I fell, particularly, for Tammy Frazer; a women in 1970s Nebraska whose husband had brought home a porn film for them to watch together. We meet her after this, on her way to California in search of her impossible dream - she's fallen in love with Daisy Lou. It's set up as a tragedy - the sweet Nebraska girl drawn into the seedy underworld and the desires of unsavoury men - but that's not what happens! She holds her own throughout, constantly connecting with the women she meets in her sex work career; and right when you think it's at its inevitable nadir - the explosively violent man has her at gunpoint - Tammy and Daisy kill their abuser and Thelma-and-Louise off into the sunset.

I also fell hard for the furthest-future of the four narratives. Before this I'd have said it's impossible to do good sci-fi on stage, impossible not to evoke at least a little of the b-movie... but as Cal the AI and Lorn (the last of the 'big brains') struggle to complete The Bliss in time - with their language playwright-evolved across hundreds of years to be strange and ambiguous and yet SO EVOCATIVE - I started to sense what was actually possible with stage sci-fi. I need more of this. Luckily I'm seeing Callisto again tomorrow.

Strong Female Character

Oh, I wanted to love this so much! A one-woman stand-up-show about action movies, with a strong feminist angle? Count me in! And when I got into the stuffy little attic room and saw that audience of ten, and heard the totally autobiographical tone of the show ("and when I was six my favourite action hero was..."), I realised how much this had in common with the Vaudevillainy concept that I'd cooked up with [personal profile] deathbyshinies. And as she took the audience from "don't we all love action movies? we're all in-group here!" to "but sometimes they don't teach us great things about women, do they? haha those action movie men, what cads" to "so here's how my sexual assault happened because of male entitlement directly learned from these films" to "but these films have also helped me to reclaim a powerful sense of self as I've come to terms with my identity as a survivor" I felt like I was seeing a masterclass in how to get any random action movie fan to come on a journey of feminist discovery.

So it was such such SUCH a shame that her show, with all its focus on the importance of education, choice, and bodily autonomy, managed to fall down so badly on actually embodying those ideals. Between the flippant references to her dad's job performing surgery on intersex infants (weirdly gender-essentialist and erasing of trans experience, even while she described her own childhood experience of "feeling like she must really be a boy", then briefly and insultingly underscored with "I'm not meaning to make light of this, it's a serious thing, so difficult for the parents") and the sudden unwarned-for shift into graphic accounts of her sexual assault, it felt like she hadn't actually learned the lessons she was trying to teach. Like her show was SO focussed on taking a middle-aged male action movie fan on a feminist journey, that she'd overlooked the possibility that her audience might actually include people who weren't middle-aged dyadic cis men who've never experienced sexual violence.

I left this so conflicted, thinking round and round how maybe it just wasn't possible for her to appropriately impact her target audience (the men whose entitlement she was trying to shatter), without retraumatising people who are more like her. It's shoved me RIGHT up in front of the question I was trying to avoid wrestling with towards the end days of Lashings - is it ACTUALLY possible to "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable" with the same piece of art? To REALLY achieve both goals without sacrificing on one of them? This theme and thought will come up again and again in the reviews that follow...


This won't have disturbed anyone comfortable, but by the gods did it comfort the disturbed. Raw, honest, monologue-driven group account of gender and power. A little bit "A-level drama derived piece" in form and staging, but interspersed with charming "alternative student comedy" sketches so that the whole felt somehow more than the sum of its parts. Also, as I now believe that all plays should, it ended with a Kate Bush dance party to which the entire audience was invited. This play was like getting a hug from the really earnest but well-meaning bits of Tumblr.


In glorious contrast to Pussyfooting - which flitted around all sorts of issues around gender and power without ever really settling on a 'core message' (because how can you, with gender) - Cuncrete had one thing to say and said it. Loudly. For an hour. With drag kings and punk rock and a concrete mixer.

Like, imagine if The Dykeness had Arts Council funding. So many of the beats of one of our sets were in this show, but it was tight and focused beyond our wildest dreams.

In Cuncrete, Archibald Tactful and the Great White Males (a banker, a Lord, and a working-class-boy-done-good-who-proves-anyone-can-be-almost-as-good-as-the-rest-of-use-honestly) formed a band and sang about brutalist architecture, Thatcherism and giant concrete dicks. Maybe it was more performance art than a punk gig, but even so, the audience's titters of laughter, their polite and erudite attention, rubbed me wrong -- there should have been shouting and spitting and spilling of beer. I wanted this to be a punk gig - then the lack of narrative or structure wouldn't have mattered. If we could just all have been all-in, it could have been the most raw-throated cathartic night of my life. "YEAH! BRUTALIZZUMMMMM!" But as it was, it was a skilfully delivered hour of intellectual pleasure - "haha, yes I caught that JG Ballard reference too" - which just stopped short of actually letting me ROCK OUT.

(Yes, you read the subject line right - this is just the first two days of my week at the fringe. More reviews to follow...)
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
And those nearby

I think you are all in my Facebook and/or email address book, but if by some miracle you HAVEN’T been spammed about my 30th birthday party this weekend, LET ME KNOW and I can give you the details!
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
the rules )

1. Any leads at all on where to look for gender-neutral formalwear in size fat.
2. The same, but for men's period costume styles.
3. Yeah. I really want one of those big, over-fabricked linen shirts, and trousers with a front panel instead of a fly and matching braces... ok I basically want this look don't I. Or, y'know, this guy. Just, not 1920s/11th Doctor.

Things to help me be mindful / look after myself better
4. Write me a paragraph or two about a book or album you think I should read or listen to.
5. An exciting one-off treat like a face mask or a glittery bath bomb
6. Got a cat needs petting or a dog needs walking? Call on me, please!

Social things
7. Let's do cool things together! Let's play board games / go for winter walks / curl up under a duvet and watch TV.
8. Show up at my house with a book or something, then make cups of tea and soothing noises while I Sort My Shit Out.
9. Send me cards & postcards that you think I'll like. For bonus points: write something on them about who you think I am. I'm struggling with a) a sense of self and b) a massive empty pinboard in my office, so help me solve both these problems at once!

Yes well it's worth a try isn't it
10. Two tickets to Hamilton. Oh, and plane tickets to New York.


Oct. 29th, 2015 10:24 am
sebastienne: (Borderville)
To drift with every passion till my soul
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play,
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.
Surely that was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God;
Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod
I did but touch the honey of romance-
And must I lose a soul's inheritance?

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
So I'm back at university, studying Psychology, just like I was in 2004-07; and so I've been consistently earwormed for the last several weeks:

(Video, Pandora's Box, "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" - a magnificent clusterfuck of 80s rock imagery, like BDSM Pan's People on fire. Possibly meant to illustrate bikers performing sex-magick in order to encourage angels/deities to save a woman's life after a motorcycle accident; but honestly, your guess is as good as mine. Well worth a watch if you're me; jump to 0:58 for the music and to skip the 80s softcore fantasy art w/snakes.)

2007-2015. That's an 8-year gap, like the gap in my drumming between 2005 and 2013. And like my drumming, there's stuff that's gone forever, stuff I've picked up in between, and stuff I know I can Do Better This Time. So that's something.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
I enjoyed last night's Doctor Who so much that I'm about to liveblog a re-watch! Isn't this charming and just like the old days. (It'll probably start on a grumpy note but it gets squeeful after that I promise!)

spoilers )
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
Friday: video game accessibility / Doctor Who / Afrofuturism / Academia / Pictionary / Whedon sing-along / Knightmare )

Saturday: Cosplay / treasure hunt / Thor v Thor / apocalypse planning / transhumanism in Doctor Who / Bifrost queer cabaret )

Sunday: Disability & the apocalypse / metaphors for race / Steven Universe / Bioware )

In the end - has this con left me with inspiration: an overwhelming urge to be everything that I can be, to be as amazing as all the people I saw performing and speaking and cosplaying and asking questions and sitting quietly absorbing the beauty around them? Or has this con just left me with an overwhelming urge to play all three Mass Effect games and romance somebody called Garak?

We shall see...

Mr Holmes

Aug. 5th, 2015 08:11 am
sebastienne: (notebook)
For such a beautiful, gentle film -- one that I adored every second of, and that managed to deal with memory loss in a way that I didn't find overwhelmingly upsetting -- this sure has left a sour taste in my mouth I've been thinking about it pretty constantly for the last 24 hours!

spoilers )
sebastienne: (Ruby & Sapphire)
If you've been seeing pictures of brightly-coloured gem-ladies all over the place, and haven't known what's going on... allow me to welcome you to the world of Steven Universe.

Yes, it's a cartoon for kids with simple 10-12 minute episodes. It's also queer and complex and sneaks up on you with that; for example, those gem-ladies? Actually non-binary shape-shifting geological-concept-aliens (think Sapphire & Steel) who just happen to be taking human-ish form and using she/her pronouns at the moment.

It also (IMWO) has good & varied representation of characters of colour, and all three main gems are voiced by actors of colour.

Occasionally, there are songs.

Sometimes, I find myself having major feels about a minor background character.

And the ARC PLOT. So carefully slow-built and foreshadowed.

But today, I want to talk about an aspect of the alien society that's been resonating with me and sending my thoughts off in all sorts of directions -- gem fusion.

spoilers )

And I'm going to have to end my analysis-post prematurely, as I appear to be crying over fictional characters again. Further discussion massively welcomed in comments!
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
Medical professionals are so fond of telling us that regular exercise is great for our physical and mental health, but for a lot of us that's about as much use as prescribing chamomile tea to a chronic insomniac.

There's a huge amount of privilege involved in being able to take regular exercise. Factors that make it difficult or impossible to exercise might include: disabilities and pain conditions; long working hours; family/caring commitments; lack of access to safe or appropriate spaces for exercise; lack of access to specialist equipment or clothing; lack of interest in exercising.

For me, it was all about being fat.

Read more at the Lashings blog >>
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
Back when I kept trying to be vegan, the longest I ever managed to go entirely without dairy was only about 3 months.

But even that short period of time was enough, it seems, to kick my general human lactose intolerance up a gear; and now if I drink too much dairy milk, I feel ill. I can eat all the cheese and ice-cream I want, but a latte or a bowl of breakfast cereal? Forget it.

I know that it's nothing like being properly lactose intolerant, and I hardly ever mention it because it's rarely ever relevant. But it's there.

In that regard, I suspect it's quite like the increasing sense of visceral wrongness I get every time I see my title written as 'Ms' or 'Miss'. It's *nothing like* that thing that it's superficially similar to (anaphylactic milk allergy, gender dysphoria).. but it causes me discomfort, nonetheless.
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
(This isn't new to me, but this morning gives such a clear articulation of this concept that I thought I'd share in case it's useful to any of you)

Often, depression isn't about the things I do; it's about how I think about the things I do.

Depressed-Emma looks at this morning and thinks "Oh god, it's 11am and I am still unwashed in a dressing gown, feeling hot and sticky and lazy and lethargic and all I've done is poke the internet aimlessly and I'm such a failure as a person".

Non-depressed-Emma looks at this morning and thinks "I made breakfast - avocado and eggs and fresh-baked bread! I helped a stranger on a web community with tech support, and then I sent some emails and did some Facebook networking in support of a new group investigating medicine for marginalised groups. (All the time, I had my work email up in the background - I might not have any booked appointments til the afternoon, but it's good to be on call.) Now I'm running a bath to soothe my aching muscles (last night I squatted 90kg and benched 40kg, no wonder I'm a bit lethargic today)."

And, sure, if I'd been at my worst I'd be unlikely to have made such a nice breakfast, or to have gone lifting; but non-depressed-Emma knows "I can't be expected to fulfil all those obligations when my mental health is struggling, and it's fine to be a bit gentle with myself at those times."
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
Some successes!

Two different banks have given me proof of ID with the correct title!

cut for images )

My experiences with Smile and Britannia have reinforced something that I kinda knew anyway - that change to oppressive systems has to happen through changing individual minds. (Top-down or bottom-up are both valid approaches, but perhaps both are necessary.)

With both banks, my experiences have been wildly divergent depending on the individual I've spoken to.

For example -

Me: Please can you fix my title? It should be "Mx".
Smile employee 1: Dear Ms Stardust: nope.
Me: Are you really really sure? How about at least not addressing me by an incorrect title in these messages?
Smile employee 2: Dear Ms Stardust: no chance. It's automatic.
[Time passes]
Me: I'm about to be due a new credit card - when it comes, please can you list my name on it as Mx Sebastienne Stardust? I understand that you can't change it within your systems, but at least in this one place, is it possible?
Smile employee 3: Dear Sebastienne: sure thing!
Letter from smile: Dear Mx Stardust...

Me: Hi, when I renew my savings account with you, I need to change my title to Mx - will that be ok?
Britannia employee 1: Sure thing, just send us your deed poll!
[Sigh; Deed Polls aren't required to change title. But I've got one anyway.]
Letter from Brittania: Dear Ms Stardust, it is not possible to process your name change. Also we've cashed that cheque that you made out to Mx Stardust because apparently when it comes to taking your money, we recognise that titles don't actually have any legal standing as part of a name.
Me: Hey wtf? You lied to me on the phone and cashed a cheque fraudulently, I think maybe I should close my account..
Britannia employee 2: Shit, sorry, that's not cool. I've looked at our systems and I reckon I can get "Mx" onto your statements and stuff, just not onto your internal record with us; there I'll have to put a custom note asking people not to call you "Ms". Will that be ok? There's still a human error element, but let me issue you a statement now and you can see whether or not it comes to you addressed as "Mx".
Statement from Britannia: Dear Mx Stardust...

Next step is the DVLA. They've sent me a letter addressed to Mx (because I fixed their online form) and I've sent back an application with a deed poll. It's been more than the three weeks I'm supposed to wait, though...
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
Britannia seemed really helpful when I phoned because I needed to renew my savings account with them. They wanted me to post them my deed poll (..sigh) but they were definitely going to be able to change my title, no problem.

So imagine my surprise when
  1. They returned the Deed Poll to me, with a letter addressed to "Ms", querying which type of account I wanted to move to and (casually, incidentally) containing the single line "Regarding your change of name unfortunately our Customer development Systems will not allow us to do this."

  2. I later discovered that, despite refusing to change my name and also not knowing what kind of account I was opening, they had nonetheless cashed a cheque I had made out to myself as "Mx".

I pulled on my privilege-pants and called them this morning to query the fact that they'd taken my money, despite not having done the thing they'd told me they would, or indeed even having opened the new account. I don't know how strong of a case I have for fraud, given that they cashed a cheque to someone who isn't even in their systems, "Mx" me...

The person I spoke to was businesslike, helpful, and did not question my title had changed. They explained the internal processes with their fixed set of titles to choose from, but suggested that at least my statements could be addressed to 'Mx' (as that's a different system). They also spoke pragmatically of all the points where the big note now on my file saying "please address this person as Mx" could maybe be missed or ignored by good old human error.

They've put a request in the system for me to be sent a statement; if it comes saying "Mx" I'll stick with them for now, but if it comes saying "Ms" I'm gone, gone, gone.
sebastienne: (notebook)
Tomorrow I knuckle down and Get Some Work Done, but today I've a few reflections on the stuff I've been chilling out & watching since the end of term:

Doctor Who

It's not Matt Smith's fault. He's a great actor who's done some stellar work on the show; but because of the scripts he's been given, he'll be remembered most for being a creep. For being a mouthpiece for Moffatt's problems with women.

To be honest, this bothers me to the extent that I'm hoping for fan-edits before I'll want to go back and re-watch the Clara episodes. And I always re-watch New Who, often marathoning it for full immersiveness. But I can't face doing that after "hell in high heels" and "the legs" and "don't let him see you age" and "a woman" and touching Clara while she sleeps and "naked!" and all the other things that I've probably forgotten in self-defence.

There is so much I've loved about Eleven's era! The Ponds (whether that's just Amy and Rory, a glorious OT3, or the whole family unit). Jenny and Vastra ("I'm a lizard woman from the dawn of time and this is my wife"). Gaiman's episodes. The way the plots all tie up, even though sometimes the cleverness is too smug or too thrown-away. But I can't ignore the misogyny any more; it's no longer a few OOC Moffatisms that I can circumlegate, it's become integral to Eleven's characterisation. And that makes me very sad.

Tipping the Velvet

Oh, now, this takes me back! It's so much more melodramatic than I remember, probably due to the fact that I was a teenager when I first watched it. It's a pantomime, really, the whole thing; in the oldest and bawdiest sense of the word. (The media were obsessed with this show when it first aired - with a particular focus on the fact that we (*gasp*!) see a strap-on dildo.)

It's a little discomfiting to watch through the episodes - episode one, the theatre! episode two, kink! episode three, socialism! - and realise how much this show is me. I first saw it so long ago that today when [personal profile] shortcipher called it "Emma-bait" I had to question which came first, the Emma or the bait! Because really, this is one of the things that built my queer identity, along with But, I'm a Cheerleader and Velvet Goldmine and Rocky Horror.

(It's also perturbing to remember that I used to think Nan's choice at the end was hard to make, and to question if she'd even made the right decision. Teenagers, eh?)

Well worth a re-watch, though, I'd say. Once I'd managed to stop cringing at the use of camera effects and voiceover repetition to convey emotional turmoil, I still found it as moving - as joyful and as tragic - as it ever was. And the queer family unit stuff at the end: I feel like I really get that, for the first time, perhaps.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)
The oven's full of improvised Christmas-food. (Some kind of veggie shepherd's pie that's full of slow-roast tomato and red wine, with sage-and-onion stuffing instead of potato.)

The Wicked soundtrack just finished playing. (I danced around the open-plan kitchen & living room, jumping on sofas and stirring pans.)

It's December 25th in [personal profile] shortcipher's new Oxford flat, my gin-and-tonic's full of fresh lime, and I'm... optimistic.

(We both have terrible memories, had to consult calendars and chatlogs to remember how this started. Turns out it was May the Fourth. (One way to make sure that geek-partners won't forget your anniversary, I guess.))

Recently, [personal profile] kaberett wrote about their polymer, and I was moved to do the same. I hope to get round to it at some point. But I couldn't even think about doing that without writing about [personal profile] kaberett - an amazing friend and human being, three times my metamour and, it turns out from today's chatlog-reading, basically responsible for goading me into admitting how much I wanted... what I have right now this moment.

So, 2013. I dragged myself out of my worst mental-health-fail to date. I joined the Indelicates. I started planning a solo show, but soon realised that I'd always rather work with [personal profile] deathbyshinies, if there's any way that I can.

My mental health's not perfect. My job situation's insecure at best. But this polymer - especially this boy right here, who's just moved to Oxford and starts his new job in January - make me feel like, somehow, it'll all work out ok.
sebastienne: (izzy/fey)


Like, I went to see it because I'm researching Disney villains at the moment. I thought "oh, that's some interesting riffing on Elphaba they're doing there. And the voice actor is doing a really great imp.... HANG ON A SECOND"

If you have no interest in giving Disney money // seeing a Disney film in the cinema - you can watch the power ballad here.

spoilers )
sebastienne: Me in faux-victoriana for a burlesque photo shoot (Default)
For those that don't know - "Mx" is a title. Y'know, the bit that goes in front of your name, like, "Mx Sebastienne Stardust". I often explain it by analogy to "Ms" - much as Ms was created to get rid of the shitty situation where a woman was forced to disclose her marital status (or, to *appear as if* she was revealing her marital status) through her choice of Miss or Mrs; so Mx was created to get rid of the shitty situation where a person is forced to gender themself through the title they use. (More on Mx: from Ganymede on the Lashings blog.)

I have set myself a goal of becoming a Mx by the end of the calendar year. Now, this really should be easy - titles have no legal standing in UK law (unless they are tied to particular qualifications, eg, Dr) and when I stopped being Miss Sebastienne Stardust and started being Ms Sebastienne Stardust, nobody batted an eyelid or asked for a deed poll.

But - as many genderqueer people and their friends reading this will already know - it ain't always that easy.

There are systems problems - "computer says no". Places that *require you* to use a title from their drop-down list, which might include "Wing Commander" but almost certainly won't include "Mx".

There are human problems - "that's not a real title", "I'll need to see a deed poll".

(A "deed poll", of course, having about as much legal standing as a title, ie, not very much. But already, I'm starting to think that I may need to get one if I'm going to make this work.)

A few weeks ago, I contacted my bank to discuss this change. (This is the same bank that moved me from "Miss" to "Ms" without too much faff, about five years ago.) They flat-out could not help, and continued to address me as "Ms Stardust" throughout the conversation. Eventually I got them to agree that they could remove the title from my bank cards, but their internal systems? Not even that.

(And I've had other customer service problems with them recently - they very nearly cost me a job through failing to provide a bank statement that I repeatedly requested - AND they've just been bought out by hedge fund managers. So.)

Yesterday, I visited two banks to enquire about moving my current account.

The Coventry Building Society was perfectly happy to put "Mx" on my record, as long as I could provide a deed poll; but they needed me to deposit a certain amount every month, which in the current economic climate, could be difficult to commit to.

Nationwide Building Society said that there was no way they could put Mx, even with a deed poll (computer says no), but they could remove my title altogether (this could be a good workaround if my primary goal was to not be gendered; but actually, my primary goal is to increase the visibility of Mx). They offered an account that suited my needs quite well, so I am considering finding an address and writing a letter to see if I can get Mx on their systems.

(I should also do some more reading about "Ms" - after all, that was a new, created title and feminist activists succeeded in getting it into the mainstream. What tactics did they use, and how can those be mirrored today?)

notes on politics )
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