In this issue: Sex Talk with Kids; We're here...We're Queer...& That's not all!; Bringing Back the BabyBloc: How & Why Kids are an Important Part of the #Occupy Movement; "Spectrums" - a comic Reviews; and more!
* Radical Parenting is an imperfect term and is meant here as inclusive and diverse - an exploration of parenting styles that value respect, trust, autonomy, difference, non-oppression, learning, love and revolution.
parenting, movement and little folk
is a compilation zine of radical parenting* challenges, experiences and reflections. It's a desire to be less isolated and to build collective knowledge.
parenting, movement and little folk
Call for Submissions
Building Blocs: #3 "Spectrums"
Building Blocs is open to contributions from parents, caregivers, kids and allies. The theme for the next issue is "Politics Reborn", but don't let that limit what you want to share.
Welcome to issue #3! It is almost 2 years now since I've had a good nights sleep. In spite of this, I'd love everyone to think that I read a lot, keep up with what's going on in the world or work on political projects in any moment of time I have free (ie. when R is actually sleeping). However, the truth is I don't. Sure I still do some of that stuff but periodically I am too emotionally or physically tired to start being productive at 8pm at night. So insteadâ€Ś I watch glee. I think this means I am a "gleek". Whilst Glee has all the usual trashiness of teenage television drama there are some things about it which I think are really cool. One of them is how it features the struggle of being a queer teen. I can't remember any TV I watched as a teen having queer characters, certainly not young queers. Queer folk were mostly invisible in popular culture and in my high school it felt like being queer wasn't in the realm of possibility. That said, TV itself obviously doesn't stop bullying, prevent teen suicide, create safer spaces or offer tangible support to LGBTIQ folk - we all do, and in part, in our parenting and caregiving. I want the world to be a place where my kid and I and everyone else can be who we are and love who we love fearlessly. For this we need the great work of projects such "Camp Out", a camp for LGBTIQ, and Sex and/or Gender Diverse teens, same sex attracted, curious and questioning teens and their allies, which is this issue's feature project. We can also share our experiences and ideas in supporting each other and kids and young folk on the spectrums of gender and sexuality. The articles in this zine, which speak to issues such as parenting Trans kids, being/supporting LGBTIQ parents, and how to talk about sex with kids are a contribtuion towards this. A big thanks to all those involved! Lara (May 201 2) Cover Art by Bugz.
How has your politics and political work changed since raising or being close to little folk? What does multigenerational political work look like in your part of the world? What are the politics of parenting? How do kids and young people do politics? Do you have experience in youth liberation organising you can share?
or contribute to one of the regular segments: Make a mix tape or review a book/zine/film! Put together this issue's feature project! Submit art for the cover!
Deadline for submissions is 31 st August 201 2 . Please send contributions (of any length) to firstname.lastname@example.org with a bio and any pics/images.
Don't miss out! To order copies or to be notified as new issues of Building Blocs become available, email email@example.com
Contents "Spectrums" Articles
Adam Wolfenden is new-ish to being a father and learning a lot in the process. He has worked on economic globalisation issues for a while now and sometimes makes zines, as well as comics, but mostly spends his time perfecting his terribly unfunny 'dad' jokes. Genelle Denzin is a mom of three. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her partner Jason and works for a non-profit. In the past, she has done counter-recruitment work, Indymedia work (Tech Collective), and anti-nuclear work. She has recently started working on prison abolition issues, urban farming, and has started a new zine called "TransParent Writings" which will be tweeted (@gdenzy) as they come available.
Dresses & Toy Trucks & Pronouns: my daughter's experience with gender by Genelle Denzin
Sex Talk with Kids by Rahula Janowski
We're here...we're queer...& that's not all... by Rei
Bringing Back the BabyBloc: how and why kids are an important part of the #Occupy Movement by Sonya
Comic 15 'Spectrums'
- a comic by Adam Wolfenden
Rei is a genderqueer parent, performer and pervert who hails from Oz where they live with their little tribe of beloveds. Rei's article originally appeared in Don't Leave Your Friends Behind #4 (dontleaveyourfriendsbehind.blogspot.com).They hope that their contribution to this collection stirs the hopes and hearts of other radical parents and allies... should that be the case, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. power to our littlest people. xx
Reviews 13 Rad Dad: dispatches from the frontiers of fatherhood
Rahula Janowski can be contacted at email@example.com
Miscellanea 29 Call-outs/Notices/Announcements/Other
Sonya is a single, queer, disabled, unschooling welfare mom who dreams of one day milking her very own goats while listening to beyonce at high volume. her greatest teachers are her 7-year-old son, luca, her 1 3-year-old nephew, sage, and her 4-year-old niece, poppy. she can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature Project 21
Camp Out compiled by Lara Daley
by Adam Wolfenden
Dresses & Toy Trucks & Pronouns: My Daughter's Experience with Gender by Genelle Denzin
Tricycle Zine Distro was created to distribute and inspire the writing of radical parent/ing* zines and other zines/resources useful to parents, caregivers and allies.
me: “Did he eat anything for dinner yet?” Jason: “She.” me: “Yeah, argh! Did *she* eat anything yet?” Jason: “Not really.”
This is a daily conversation template in our house. Our family and everyone who has known Paxten for all her five years, knew her first as a boy because that’s the way she was born. Jason and I have been together about 7 years now. We have Paxten who’s five, Raen who’s 4, and my Nick who’s 1 3. We met and connected through the political work we did in Las Vegas - lots of long nights doing independent media, antinuke, and economic justice work. Since then, we have spent lots of long nights parenting and working out the best ways to channel our energy toward a better world for all.
While it could make sense to explain about how Paxten came to be a girl, first I would like to address our general attitudes toward gender from the first day Paxten was born. Her birth, as described by Jason in Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood Tomas Moniz (Editor), Jeremy Adam Smith (Editor), was a story in itself - a part of which included the fact that after her birth, we didn’t think to check the sex til we were asked. It really just wasn’t that important to us. We, in general, treated gender as something we didn’t really want interfering with our kids’ development. We named Paxten and Raen what we considered to be unisex names with this in mind. We rejected overly masculine or overly feminine toys, unless there was a real spark of interest. We basically kept to practical concerns over keeping our kids aligned with gender norms.
It is a project that aims to challenge the norms of parenting (and other norms like gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability and capitalism) and explore alternatives; inspire writing as an act of rebellion; support radical parenting, politics and action; value parents/ caregivers/ children as integral to building communities of resistance; create collective knowledge and networks of support and mutual aid amongst parents, caregivers and their allies in Australia. If you have a zine or resource which you would like to distro through Tricycle please email email@example.com For orders or more info go to tricyclezinedistro.org
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Don't Leave Your Friends Behind
* Radical Parenting is an imperfect term and is meant here as inclusive and diverse – an exploration of parenting styles that value respect, trust, autonomy, difference, non-oppression, learning, love and revolution.
Miscellanea Fireweed #2 Out Now
About the Zine Fireweed: A zine of grassroots radical herbalism and wild foods connecting with kids and family life is a zine sharing remedies and ideas for all things kids, herbs, and wild foods. The zine includes recipies, remedies, interviews with herbal parents, suggested reading lists, book reviews and more. About the Editor
Jess is a community herbalist and medicine maker in rural Wisconsin, USA. She facilitates plant walks, occasionally teaches classes, and formally was part of a collective herbal Community Supported Agriculture-style endeavor. Mostly she loves to be outdoors wildcrafting & gardening with her two young kids. Jess started "Fireweed" to connect radicalherbal families. Although there many herb zines & books she wants "Fireweed" to
focus on real experiences familes are having out there-from wildcrafting stories, remedies for illness & how we share & grow everyone's plant knowledge.
Some Friends who stock the Zines Microcosm Publishing Tricycle Zine Distro Zine Library (zinelibrary.info) For more see: fireweedherbalzine.blogspot.com
Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: concrete ways to support families in social justice movements & communities Due Out September 201 2!
The culmination of the zine series by the same name this handbook for radical parenting allies is a one-of-a-kind resource for organisers, collectives, organisations and any radical project committed to building intergenerational movements. Edited by Victoria Law & China Martens. Published by PM Press. Submit! call outs, announcements, letters, etc. to this section: email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading "miscellanea"
So the day Paxten discovered her passion for dresses, it really wasn’t a big deal to us, and we didn’t make a big deal out of it. Between the time Paxten first wore a dress and about the Fall of 201 1 , she identified as a boy-that-wears-dresses. Family reactions ranged from “politely ignore”, to guessing out loud that she was wearing a costume or playing dress-up. We went along with this, because really, to us, it didn’t mean anything anyway, except that Paxten liked to wear dresses most the time. We did tell her, prior to her wearing dresses outside the house, that people might not understand and she might experience questions, people not wanting to be her friend, or even anger. We also told her she would have our support in any situation like that. She was undeterred. In many instances, kids on the playground asked her questions about her dress (if she was wearing boy shoes and a boyish coat) or new acquaintances would assume she was a girl and refer to her as a she. She would always politely correct them and say that she was a boy that liked “pretty things and cool things.” And the kids would always just say ok and keep playing with her. Occasionally, older kids would reject that and be weird about it, but Paxten would just make other friends and move on.
just come over and left behind a dress meant for Raen to wear to a wedding that was about 6 months out. The dress lay draped across the back of a chair, and Paxten asked to wear it. I was absolutely fine with it and she loved the dress. It was black taffeta with netting on the skirt part, and the top was an off-white satin with black embroidery all over it, sleeveless. It was gorgeous. After our little dancing spree was over, I told her we needed to take it off since it was Raen’s dress and it was meant for a special occasion, and well, that was a fight. I let her wear it a little longer, but eventually, it had to come off. We kind of thought she’d forget about it eventually, but over the next few days, if she wasn’t wearing the dress, she was wishing she was. So in an effort to preserve the sanctity of Raen’s dress, Jason and I decided to get her some dresses of her own. She was ECSTATIC.
I mentioned before that there was a day she discovered her passion for dresses. It was in January of 2009 after Granma had
A couple years went by like this- wearing dresses, but being insistent on the fact that she was a boy, not a girl. During this time, she would always want us to correct people who called her a she. There were several times I failed her in this. Sometimes it seemed irrelevant to tell strangers (we’re talking about bus drivers, sales clerks, etc.) that they’d gotten her pronoun wrong. It seemed irrelevant to me because I have never been mistaken for being the gender I don’t identify as. So, I asked Paxten at some point why she was bothered when people called her a girl. Her answer really struck a chord with me: “Because... they don’t know me.” This was the heart of it... our language forces us to make assumptions about each other. And so when we think we are merely saying something nice about a person, and we use a gendered pronoun, we are also saying we have assumed that person to be
this gender or that gender. Strangely, this use of gendered language almost seems to necessitate presenting as the gender you want to be called by. This is what Paxten was up against. And even at age 4 and 5, she could sense this conflict and express it so plainly when I asked. One day, Paxten decided she wanted to be called Sally. She was serious about it and we obliged because we believe kids need to explore their identities and while gender is a large part of this, it can also include your name. We were a little sad that she didn’t want to be called Paxten anymore, but the biggest issue was that it was really really hard to remember to call her Sally. Eventually it got much easier and I started to like the way “Sally and Raen” sounded. Then, about three weeks into “Sally”, she
This article was first published as a guest post on CUNTastic: a journal of sexual and reproductive freedom blog.cuntastic.org
right arms with sharpie markers. i go through a lot of baby wipes on dirty hands and faces.
them when we are organizing. but i really believe that we adult organizers need them just as much, if not more. kids bring an energy to the movement that could what is less time-consuming, but not less never be duplicated by another affinity important, is the work i do to ensure that group. they are masters of civil children are able to exit the plaza safely disobedience and direct action. the idea of should violence occur. i have configured bleeding for the cause doesn’t phase them, an escape route and am as they are perhaps the kids need us. they need most fearless participants training volunteer family us to consider them in this struggle. they have escorts on how to get children and their families when we are organizing. yet to be corrupted, and to an off-site location via but i really believe that thus have less to unlearn we adult organizers than the rest of us. they that route if the plaza need them just as much, ground us in each becomes dangerous. i if not more. speak at general moment, and remind us assemblies and to committee members to inject silly joy into our daily routines in individually, informing them that, if the order to fight activist burn out. and they cops raid, families out in the plaza should never, ever get sick of the human mic. be directed to the family area for dispersal assistance. i have been inspired by the and, maybe most importantly, they remind number of people who have come to me, us what we’re fighting for. cuz it’s gonna seeking to be trained on how to help keep go fast. in the blink of an eye they’ll be families safe. #occupymn seems to take grown, and this movement will be in their the ask of protecting children from harm hands. even from a solely logistical very seriously. as well they should. as well standpoint, they really are our most we all should. precious resource, and i’m honored to be entrusted to protect and nurture them. kids need us. they need us to consider
woke up and wanted to be called Emma. I felt like I’d been hit by a brick. I am not sure why I was that upset, but at least I did not show it. I did ask her why she wanted to switch, and she said she wanted a name that no one else had. (She’d just remembered that there’s a car named Sally in the movie Cars and we have a good friend named Sally...) I explained that other people do have the name Emma and we might meet one one day, and it’s ok to share a name with others. I kind of felt bad that I was giving her a hard time about Emma, especially since I wasn’t sure why I was so bothered by it, but it was all good because she sorted it all out herself: she decided she’d like to go back to being called Paxten but she still wanted to be called she. I forget sometimes, that while Paxten is only five, she is super smart and analytical and even when I can’t think of a good way of solving a problem, she sometimes can. It was perfect. So it was that we started calling her Paxten again, only with the feminine pronouns and familial relationship names like sister and daughter. I found it easier to remember to call her “she” when she was Sally than I do as Paxten. Even after about three months, we still struggle with it, but we are getting better at it as we begin to think more about gender and language and what it means to truly believe your child, even when you can’t identify personally from experience.
The fact that Paxten was born into our family, of all families, has two interesting consequences: 1 . that many family members chalk this up to my and Jason’s general unwillingness to run an authoritarian household that requires children to live up to what mainstream US culture requires, and 2. that Paxten does not share many of the struggles that many of the transgender children I have read about share: including getting your parents on your side. Certainly in our house, and even in our neighborhood and homeschooling community, Paxten is largely accepted without much of a fuss. It isn’t a big deal until it comes to grandparents and great grandparents, so far. The result of this mostly easy acceptance of Paxten is a certain assumption that Paxten makes that once we tell someone that she’s a girl now, that they believe her. She is just now finding out this isn’t always the case, and it’s sometimes pretty hard to watch. At Thanksgiving dinner, with many generations present, there was a moment where Paxten had just been called “he” like about ten times in a row and Jason made the announcement that Paxten would like to be called she and be accepted as a girl. The silence was deafening, and was broken by a question from an uncle “Does he always get what he wants?” To which Jason responded “When it comes to her identity, and her
expression of herself, and her mental health, yes.” There was some polite ignoring, some disagreement and staring, but it was clear that regardless of opinions, Paxten was free to express herself the way she wanted. Paxten reacted a little to the staring by covering her eyes, but not long after this, she was talking confidently again and enjoying the food and company.
wearing a dress to becoming a girl? Including a name change and not wavering once in her wanting to be called "she" ever since her days as “Sally”? It was surprising to hear these theories being batted around even after our best written explanations and shared studies had been offered up. Either way, while there is a lax attitude toward getting Paxten’s pronoun right, there is not hostility or outright rejection of her by those who don’t feel comfortable with it. For this I am grateful.
This dinner had been preceded by many emails between closer family members I mention the family who were going to be I feel that the more members we struggle there about the topic, plus support she has from with over this issue, but a visit where there had people who know and are many more been much talk about this love her, the more there family members who are change in Paxten. A lot of solid a foundation completely supportive of the sentiment I felt was a she’ll have to work Paxten. I have spoken basic mistrust of Paxten from when she gets with cousins, aunts, and us. The mistrust for older and has to start brother & wife, and Paxten was of course, not making tougher friends about this, and aimed at Paxten decisions every one of these have specifically, but at her been open and supportive. Also, we have age, and a feeling that children that young found a lot of support from the community don’t know anything about gender, that here in Columbus, including a support it’s all hard-wired into your body parts. group offered up by TransOhio for Gender The mistrust for us aimed at the typical Non-Conforming Youth ages 5-1 1 . Paxten psychological possibilities: simple has met another little one from a rural jealousy of baby sister, identifying with county who is very similar. Even with all mom not dad, not getting enough this everyday support, one of the reasons I attention (from us), etc. And if Paxten’s work to bridge this issue between Paxten feelings had lasted for a week or so, or and our family is I feel that the more were on-again off-again, then yes, this support she has from people who know kind of thing would make perfect sense. and love her, the more solid a foundation But a THREE-YEAR hike down a path from
as soon as i heard that occupy wall street was sending up a shoot in my home town, i knew i wanted to be involved, and i knew how. i wanted to organize a baby bloc, which is a nifty way of saying that i wanted to organize around safety, accessibility, and fun for kids and families. the term baby bloc was coined shortly after a family was pepper sprayed by police while attending a permitted, peaceful, protest march in january 2002 in portland, oregan. both parents and two of their three children, ages three years and 1 0 months, were sprayed directly by law enforcement at a distance of less than three feet. they were trying to disperse at the time, but police would not let them out of a quickly cordoned intersection. according to the parents, the officers chuckled, saying, “that’s why you shouldn’t bring kids to protests.” news of the police brutality against children spread, and activist families all over the united states took notice. baby blocs began emerging at many actions in many cities, including minneapolis.
families and our allies strategized ways to plan for the needs that occur when children are present, and we stuck together as a physical contingency for safety and solidarity at rallies and marches. the initial purpose was to increase safety for children, but soon we found that our kids were naturally motivated to engage in and with these actions. in an attempt to assist them, we looked for access points and ways for kids to participate. most of what i do with my time in the people’s plaza revolves around play. we paint, chalk, and play dominoes and memory. each day, at least once, a rowdy game of ad lib kickball occurs. we read books and smash playdoh. we have plans for a life sized checkers game and a town of cardboard playhouses made from discarded protest signs. i keep basic first aid kit so that the medics don’t have to respond to a mass text for a scraped knee. i chat with parents and care givers about ideas for a system to locate lost children, and we all decide to write our cell numbers on the insides of our children’s
Bringing Back the BabyBloc : how and why kids are an important part of the #Occupy Movement by Sonya when my son was born seven years ago, many people gave me this piece of advice: enjoy him, cuz it’s gonna go fast. he’ll be grown in the blink of an eye. now, he runs to an intersection near our home in south minneapolis and flags the bus so it doesn’t pull away from the curb before i can catch up and hop on. we set down our packs and bags and trays of food – veggies picked from our garden to donate to the kitchen in the plaza – and i pay our fares on the bus card i get from the county as part of my welfare benefits. a half hour later, we arrive at our other home, our new home. we arrive at the people’s plaza in downtown minneapolis, better known as #occupymn. we head to the family area on the east side of the plaza. i go through a few boxes and bags of donations. toys, games and art supplies come my way. i’m glad to see a
few child-sized jackets. the weather’s been unseasonably warm for october in minneapolis, but it’s only a matter of time before some of the lowest temperatures in the united states blow through. meteorologists are already predicting colder-than-average temps for november and december. global warming and associated climate instability. just another reason why i’m here.
she’ll have to work from when she gets older and has to start making tougher decisions. Paxten will face a kind of oppression none of us have experience with. She will need us. She will need safe spaces, and I don’t want us to be the only ones for her to turn to. At the same time, we recognize that many many have gone before Paxten, and are suffering right now needing safe spaces, housing, medical care, etc. The future, of course, is a huge debating point amongst people who want to justify not supporting Paxten. And it is something we think about a lot, but we also try not to make assumptions about what it will bring. She could very well wake up tomorrow and identify as a boy-whowears-dresses again. Or even just a straight-up boy. I want to leave space for this in my heart and mind so that I don’t accidentally convey the idea that she has chosen her path and she must stick to it. The things that worry me the most are institutional decisions and medical decisions. Institutional decisions are decisions like what to put for gender when she takes a gym class, or when we apply for assistance, or a passport, etc. Also how to handle public bathroom issues should they arise at some point, and things like this. They are decisions we haven’t quite made yet and will just have to navigate them as best as we can as they come up.
Our plans regarding these kinds of decisions are to let her guide us as much as makes sense. As for medical decisions, there are puberty blockers that are a hot topic amongst parents of transgender kids. Puberty blockers basically stave off puberty for as long as you can afford them, so that the child can, at some point, make a decision as to whether or not to let puberty begin as the sex they were born as, or to, instead, begin hormone treatments.
If Paxten continues to identify as a girl through say, age 9 or so, we will know this is something she is likely to carry into adulthood. This is where decisions about blockers, etc. could come into play. I am wary of this kind of medication, because
1 . it is medicating a child, and 2. it is perpetuating the "everyone should present as either a boy or a girl" idea that seems to be a major theme in our culture. The other side of it is it could really save her mental health. In my reading on the topic, blockers have saved many a kid’s life in putting a stop to traumatic body changes that a transgender kid just does not have the ability to deal with. Transgender kids on blockers mostly say they are much happier being on them. But kids on Ritalin are much happier too, and are much more able to function in an environment that doesn't take into account children's needs to play and dream. That they're happier is a good thing, but should not also the environment be rethought to allow for the natural ways that people are? Is it really better that kids be medicated so that they can better fit into what our culture says is ok? I think these blockers are a real dilemma. I feel like if our culture were more accepting of men who wore skirts and makeup and women who don't want to do all the things women are expected to do, then these blockers would be considered useless and even absurd. BUT, our culture isn't. And as much as we can attempt to change it, there is the reality that Paxten is our child and we want her to feel and be ok. So as much as I have a problem with blockers, I am still open to it if we get to that point with Paxten that we realize it's the right thing
for her mental health. My main strategy at this point breaks down into two parts: the first is to foster within her a deep sense of love for herself and her body. This should give her a good foundation to work with as issues of puberty come up for her. Of course I do not mean to suggest that “if only transgendered folks would have just learned to love their bodies, …” But I think all kids could use a good dose of healthy respect for their own bodies for all kinds of reasons. In Paxten’s case, one of those reasons would be to not let whatever troubles she experiences during puberty overcome her general sense of love for herself. Secondly, I have become interested in what we call “exposure”. When we first moved here, Paxten was 3. We made friends with people that we tend to make friends with, which thankfully, included a really strong queer community. So we had a head start on this “exposure” idea before we really realized how important it was. But more recently, as we’ve begun to see the path that Paxten is on, we have recognized a great strength in knowing such a wide variety of people who express their gender in a lot of different ways. For one thing, these folks are some of the most loving awesome people I’ve met. The ones of them that love and appreciate kids have become some of our kids’ favorite
* Fear being discovered and expect rejection * Guard their feelings carefully in order to be accepted (or merely to survive) * Have few opportunities to openly date, flirt or engage in sexual experimentation like other young people * Lack accurate information about their feelings and experiences * Lack appropriate safe sex education The vast majority of LGBTIQ young people are not depressed or suicidal. However, Australian research has identified that same sex attracted young people may be up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population. These figures are believed to be even higher for young people with gender identity issues. A young person's sexual or gender identity does not in and of itself cause them to feel depressed or suicidal. What does impact negatively on their well-being is the experience of growing up "different" in a
society that often rejects difference, and that expects everyone to be heterosexual and gender normative. Education about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning people is an important step towards supporting young people and preventing depression and suicide. Young LGBTIQ people need the following kinds of support, to develop good selfesteem and skills to deal with what can sometimes be a hostile environment: * Supportive opportunities to socialise with one another * Resources that specifically address their concerns * Sensitive, non-judgemental support as they come to understand themselves Camp Out is one such avenue of support. There are also other services and programs throughout NSW and Australia that provide support for same sex attracted and transgender people. Check out twenty1 0.org.au for links to some of these services. For more info on Camp Out 201 2 visit www.campout.org.au Feature compiled from the Camp Out Website.
turned away for lack of funds. What makes Camp Out so important?
Young people know that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people are often marginalised by society. Many children learn negative words for LGBTIQ people even before they reach the kindergarten playground. They assume that all the people they know are heterosexual; and they may have no idea that some of the respected adults around
them are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer. As a result, many LGBTIQ young people feel profoundly isolated. "Surely I am the only person like this" is a common sentiment. Unfortunately, some LGBTIQ young people are viciously harassed and abused.
people. And from a more practical standpoint, it amounts to exposure. Information that helps all of us- not just Paxten - see that really our possibilities and potential are endless. We can carve out our own paths and have meaningful fun lives, friendships, and families if we want.
Whether or not they are labelled by others, these young people often;
In conclusion, I feel honored to know Paxten and share my life with her. For all
Consensus decision making: A process of decision making that involves complete agreement by all those involved, with any objections or differences being absorbed into the final decision. Hence, all decisions made within Camp Out are agreed upon by all Camp Out Crew, involving discussion of differences of opinion and the resolution of objections.
Social justice: We recognise that marginalisation and oppression - for example in regards to gender, sexuality, race, ability and class - exist in our society. With this recognition we aim to work towards changing this and creating a world in which no one person is valued over another. This process is present throughout all of Camp Out's core values.
Non-hierarchical: The organisational structure of Camp Out is such that every Crew member has the same decision making power as the next.
Autonomy: That people should have the freedom to make their own decisions on issues or actions that directly affect their lives, without others exercising power or control over them and vice versa. For example, that everyone should have the ability to express their sexuality and sex and/or gender identity in whatever way they choose.
Not-for-profit: Camp Out aims to be a sustainable organisation, with any money that is received by Camp Out being used to facilitate the running of Camp Out. All of the Camp Out Crew are volunteers.
the struggles we face as her parents, she will likely face a much rougher road ahead depending on how things turn out. Even though there have been a spate of news stories lately about transgender kids, I hope this account helps amplify the presence of the transgender folk among us. I also hope it will embolden us all to really follow our instincts with children- to listen to them and believe them.
coming out to parents or friends, and how to be a supportive queer ally. The Camp Out crew have drawn inspiration from a similar camp in Seattle, USA, called Camp Ten Trees (camptentrees.org) who have run a summer camp for LGBTIQ youth and their allies for 1 0 years.
Sex Talk With Kids by Rahula Janowski
On a radical parenting list serve I’m on, someone recently asked, how do you deal with it when kids mimic adult sexual behavior, ie, “playing doctor?” I thought I’d share some of my response.
I’ve been very intentional about how I’ve approached sexuality and bodily autonomy with my kid since before she was old enough to grasp some of it. One of the many reasons I think this is important is that addressing a particular incident is a lot more difficult if it’s not something you’ve ever addressed before. But it’s never too late to start, and perhaps a “playing doctor” incident is a good reminder that it’s good to have clarity about sexuality and bodily integrity at an early age. Here’s the basics of my approach: 1 ) sex talk is always casual and calm. I don’t make jokes about it, but I don’t make it heavy either. It’s matter of fact, always, and every question my kid has is
Camp Out is organised and run by an all volunteer crew of 1 0 people based in Sydney who have been meeting since the start of 201 0. The crew comes from a range of backgrounds and includes youth workers, high school teachers, community workers, artists and queer community organisers. Camp Out Crew is a consensus-based, non-heirarchical collective made up of socially conscious and passionate people working from a social justice framework.
foster these values through the camp experience. These values are evident in the way the crew choose to organise as a collective: employing a consensus decision-making model, and being nonheirarchical in organisational structure. Furthermore, Camp Out chooses to receive funding from strictly noncommercial sources only, and to only affiliate with like-minded community organisations. Specifically, Camp Out's values of equity and social justice have led to the introduction of sliding scale camp fees, meaning Camp Out is accessible to all campers regardless of financial status or background. Camp Out is based on a policy of inclusion - no-one
Camp Out values equity, inclusion, empowerment, mutual support, self determination and autonomy and aims to
received and answered calmly. No question is taboo, no information is taboo. We also make sure that she is aware of the
Feature Project: Camp Out The camp aims to give campers an opportunity to meaningfully connect with others, and to share their experiences in a safe, supportive and fun environment. The aim is for the campers to leave camp with confidence, skills and resources and to feel strong in their identity and in navigating their worlds.
All about Camp Out
Camp Out is an annual camp for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ), and Sex &/or Gender Diverse teens, same sex attracted, curious & questioning teens and their allies aged 1 3-1 7.
Most of all, it's the chance for teens to hang out in a place where they're not judged for who they are, or who they like. There's heaps of art, music, sports, games and other fun stuff happening during camp, as well as hangouts like movie nights, beach trips and bonfires! As well as your more typical camp activities, there's open workshops and informal discussions on things like identity & what it means to be LGBTIQ-identified or questioning your gender or sexual orientation, dealing with homophobia & transphobia, coming out in highschool,
proper names for body parts and we say them casually and matter of factly. We have had frank discussions about why kids at school refer to a penis as a “hot dog.” (“some people are uncomfortable with the real names of body parts and so they give them funny names, but it’s always important to know the actual names and there’s nothing wrong with the actual names.”)
only to touch, not other people, and if other people touch or ask to touch her personal body, then she should let me know. Again, that is shared casually and calmly. And I include other kids in that. I am aware some folks believe that mutual sex play between children is ok. I am of the opinion that it’s possible for it to be ok, but it’s as possible for it to be harmful, while it’s absence will do no harm. I also think that when it comes up, it should be 2) I prioritize bodily autonomy; as in, my dealt with casually and calmly. It came up kid’s body is HERS and if I am overruling in my kid’s preschool, and there was no her about something to do I think the most freaking out; it was used as a with her body, I better have a important thing teaching moment, as in, oh, good reason (such as, “I know might be getting did you guys know, it’s not you don’t want to wash out appropriate to be showing right with that cut because it hurts, but if ourselves as each other your penis, etc., we don’t wash it, it will get parents about this and here’s some books and infected, and this is how you information if you’re curious. stuff. take care of your body”). An No shaming. example of this is that she has never been forced to give hugs to anyone including 4) I provide good books, like “It’s So family, and when she says stop during Amazing” which covers body parts, how tickling or rough housing, we stop babies are made (and includes immediately. This creates a grounding in non- traditional means of conception and the idea that she is the one who decides a smattering of non-traditional what happens with her body, and her relationships), sexual function, body word on it should be respected. diversity, and all kinds of stuff, and “It’s Perfectly Normal,” which is about 3) Connected to that, and more specific to puberty. I think it’s good to provide the sex, is that she has been told repeatedly books before you feel like they’re needed. that her body is hers, and she can touch it however she wants, in private, but her 5) I think the most important thing might personal body and private areas, such as be getting right with ourselves as parents her vulva and her butt, etc, are for her about this stuff. As in, knowing what we
think is ok and what we think isn’t; knowing where our triggers are and understanding if they’re reasonable or not. Reading Gavin Debecker’s Books "The Gift of Fear" and "Protecting the Gift" (Protecting the Gift is specifically for parents) is a good way to start that process of figuring out how to interpret our danger signs. For example, I have lots of triggers about adult men’s interest in kids they aren’t connected to and I have made sure to figure out what are just triggers that are not applicable to every situation, and what are bona fide red flags. It’s also good to think about how we were raised to think about sex and sexuality so that we don’t unconsciously pass on taboos, hang ups, and attitudes that we might not actually want to pass on. Similarly, if we ourselves are survivors of child sexual assault or any sort of sexual assault, it’s important to sort out how that impacts our attitudes and be thoughtful about how it impacts what we teach our kids, intentionally and unintentionally. 6) I talk about sex frankly (although with very limited detail) and I frame it as
something adults do with each other. Again, I know some people feel like sex between kids and young teens is ok; i am not one of them; I see no way that it will harm my child to consider sex as something adults do, so long as that doesn’t mean there’s no information beyond that. She has access to a ton of information so that whenever she decides she’s adult enough to go there, she will understand how to keep herself as safe as possible, and to understand the difference between a healthy sexual encounter and an unhealthy one (something it took me two decades to learn). 7) Finally, overall I try to maintain an environment where my kid knows she can ask me any question about any topic and not be shamed or treated as though she, or her question, is stupid, and I am open that I don’t always know. This applies to everything, not just sex related questions. And not only can she ask me anything, she can tell me anything and I won’t freak out. My hope is that this open safe environment will carry through adolescence, so that when she
To other families in the margins– respect and solidarity. To allies and friends – speaking for myself, one thing I need from you is validation. The world at large does not tell me I am a great parent, does not tell me that it knows I try my best. It does not encourage me to continue to try and challenge gender/hetero normative discourses in the way that I parent. It does not support me in giving my kids information and autonomy. It does not tell me that I can be all the things that I am and be a parent too. I’m sure all parents doubt and worry, but not all parents have their fundamental right to be parents challenged and
questioned and examined and afforded criteria. This lack of validation erodes confidence and breeds isolation. When you encounter parents and kids in your communities, take whatever time you have to listen and give positive feedback, thank them for doing what they do. If we don’t parent and educate in a radical way then long term change is virtually impossible. Recognising this, and according respect and support to the families who are making change happen could have a huge impact on the radical community’s ability to regenerate and sustain itself. And you might just make someone’s day.
Artwork taken from "Excerpts from BAD HABITS", 2006 and "Six out of 100 from FREAKS, SLUTS, QUEERS, and LOSERS: The Next Generation of Martyrs", 2006 by Cristy C. Road Road is a 28-year-old Cuban-American artist and writer. Blending social principles, sexual deviance, mental inadequacies, and social justice- she thrives to testify the beauty of the imperfect. http://www.croadcore.org
the kids. They are random examples of our kids masturbates joyfully and often, meant to illustrate some of the ways we is happy to talk about it and tells us when choose to do things differently. That these they have run out of the special oil they choices should be assessed as use as a lubricant so we can put it the problematic, as putting our kids at risk, is shopping list! One of them currently has a indicative of current dominant politics of boyfriend and a girlfriend. When the sexual fear, hysteria and censorship. In national anthem is sung at school such a climate the way we live and parent functions, one of them sits down as a is radical. But it doesn’t feel like that to us. conscientious objector (the other one Not to our kids either – not yet anyway. loves to sing anything, anywhere, and It’s just normal. But it is abnormal that’s ok too). In the holidays they go to according to the status quo... and, in light Mardis Gras and Pride March. We all still of our queerness, even more bathe together, and in summer we sleep unacceptable. naked. They have both got I’m sure all parents down on hands and knees doubt and worry, but and watched me put in a not all parents have We do do things tampon when I was their fundamental right differently and our happy, healthy kids are bleeding, because they to be parents fluent and comfortable were curious and challenged and with ideas and concerned about what questioned and was happening for my examined and afforded behaviours that many other children their age body. When either of criteria. only experience in the them ask questions about context of shame, ambiguity and sex, sexuality, bodies, relationships (and predjudice. If we were a mum/dad/kids anything else) we answer them. Honestly. unit, we would be trusted with far more Even when that takes time and is autonomy in the raising of our children, confronting or difficult to break down so and if we transgressed no one would that they can understand. We don’t have suggest that it was because we were tv but they are allowed to read anything in heterosexual, or use our the house. If they want to read something unconventionality as evidence that with content that might be new or straight people shouldn’t have children. potentially problematic they have to have But we aren’t, and we don’t, and the an adult on hand to answer questions but, wonderful queerness of our tribe is other than that, we’re anti-censorship. evidence against its own validity in the These are some of the practical results of eyes of many. our parental ethics and engagement with
starts to grapple with these things more concretely and personally, she will feel safe bringing me her questions, fears, and secrets.
Artwork: "Dress You Up" , "Sex Positivity" and "Sustenance" by Favianna Rodriguez Favianna Rodriguez is a celebrated printmaker and digital artist based in Oakland, California. http://www.favianna.com
" (Dress You Up) is about women exploring themselves sexually through masturbation and touching themselves. In my recent work, I have been exploring the topic of sex positivity. This print is the first in a body of work about sexual liberation" http://www.justseeds.org/favianna_rodriguez/19dressyouup.html
absurd right to be judged based on our children’s grades along with gay and lesbian parents.
I cite the above example because it highlights the pressure on queer parents to provide evidence that their lives and choices are valid and not damaging. Not only our children’s grades, but their
parenting to be inherently harmful and deviant. What then of the family and system of parental ethics I have described? Can’t you just hear the cry Children at risk! In deference to this constant discourse of ‘risk’ and children, we evolve slogans of the ‘Same but Different’ ilk. We’re just like you! The same sex marriage campaigners insist. As though
Rad Dad: dispatches from the frontiers of fatherhood edited by Tomas Moniz and Jeremey Adam Smith with contributions from Steve Almond, Jeff Chang, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cory Doctorow, Ian Mackaye, Raj Patel, and many more.
When I hear the word 'rad' I usually get a little squeamish. I was never old or cool enough to use the word when it was in its 90's hey-day so my only real experience with it has been by lefty groups who seem to use it very loosely as a self-justified label by implication. So the term 'rad dad' immediately fills my head with fears about the latest cool political fad being parenting. Rad Dad is however a beautiful collection
from a variety of authors on what parenting is and isn't all about. It covers a whole range of parenting stages, as well as, the politics of parenting and interviews with some very interesting fathers. The articles are short and to the point, perfect if time is short, which as a parent it mostly is. I read this in a couple big chunks when I was away from my family for work. It was the perfect way to feel connected to them
identities, physical appearance, demeanour, knowledge base and life experiences would be evaluated harshly by the majority were the spotlight turned on us. No matter that they are healthy, happy and remarkably self-aware, no matter that they reap huge rewards from being a part of an extended network of adults who love and support them. Many people still believe gay and lesbian
queer relationships are acceptable only as long as they are homogenised versions of the straight social paradigm. Oh, and the kid’s grades stay up. Where does that leave us, and the many others like us? Where does it leave our kids? Our seven year old identifies as an ‘it’ and our eight year old is pink mohawked, and the campest creature on two legs to boot. One
We're Here...we're queer...and that's not all... by Rei Again, there is danger, the mother of morality – great danger – but this time displaced onto the individual, onto the nearest and dearest, onto the street, onto one’s own child, one’s own heart, one’s own innermost secret recesses of wish and will Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
There are many intersections within my tribe... I’m a bi-racial genderqueer sex worker and student, one of my partners is a high femme pastissiere and the other is a beautiful butch painter and musician. One of the kids’ dads is a bisexual circus teacher, and his boyfriend is a queer social worker and performer. Our extended network of chosen kin is just as multifaceted. I tell you all this not because we are poster children for diversity but because we aren’t. Families that transgress what is commonly accepted as normativity are everywhere. But they are just out of sight, marginalised, ignored. Neo- liberal supposedly non-homophobic attempts at
acceptance occasionally surface ... I read in the paper yesterday that ‘evidence is mounting (that) children from same sex parents are academically as capable as children of heterosexual couples’. There is not enough room in this article to fully explore everything that is wrong with this headline... suffice to say that it illustrates how far we have to go. Because that article is as close as my family comes to being acknowledged in mainstream media and, really, they aren’t even talking about us. Maybe in the future when the term ‘Gender Diverse Coparents’ comes in vogue we will have the
and there was more than one moment when my eyes welled up from the potent combination that was missing my 'daughter' and the very articulate and thoughtful words contained in this book. The interesting thing about reading this book in chunks was seeing how the points of view of the fathers changed from recent dads to those with teenagers and beyond. The idealism of the new parent seems to slowly make it's way to acceptance of the contradictions and complications that is parenting in this capitalist system. For me, as a father to a toddler I feel like I stand on that precipice. I have the horrible onslaught of kid targeted advertising to navigate, questions around schooling, further gender coding through clothes and toys etc to deal with. I feel like my ideals about parenting are going to get a solid reality check and this book provided some great insight.
don't think I'd ever considered my protective and somewhat insulative tendencies that way before. Thankfully this book didn't leave my squeamishness vindicated, sure there are some rants that I'd disagree with in it but there's also a wonderful array of incredibly well written and thoughtful pieces. This is the sort of book that I want to give to my friends who will soon be dads, I think that is probably the highest compliment that I could give to all the authors who are involved in it.
This book can be a bit hit-and-miss but that's also its strength, there's something here for everyone. The most important moment for me came in the second last chapter, an interview with Raj Patel in which he mentions that the urge to try and insulate and isolate your kid from all the crap of society is a very individualist and neo-liberal way to look at parenting. That it's the parents v. the world. What is more important he says is the need to build movements that respond to these issues. I