I’m so happy to report that my book with Bridget Liang, Trans and Autistic: Stories from Life at the Intersection, is now out in both paperback and ebook! Our book, created over 2 years, draws together research on folks who are both transgender and autistic and presents 10 interviews with individuals at this intersection. Trans and Autistic is available at most resellers, including Amazon and, for those of you in the US, Bookshop. Big thanks go to Bridget Liang, the folks we interviewed and, of course, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
I’ve been going out for rides around the City of Toronto on my bike lately and I thought that this would be a good home for stories and pics of what I see along the way.
So, on May 7th I went on a bike ride from The Esplanade to York Mills Baptist Cemetery. Located at 104 York Mills Road, in North York, Toronto, and hidden behind a chain link fence, shrubs, and between two single family houses, this tiny plot of land is home to what might be Toronto’s smallest and certainly most forgotten cemetery. I drove by it a few years ago and always thought it would be a good location to bike to and take pictures of, since so few exist online. It’s a nice bike ride, along the Don River bike path for most of the way and then through part of the Bridle Path. I took some pictures of the weird gargoyle statues along this path as well, but most are of the cemetery itself.
I was surprised to find that the cemetery gate had an unlocked latch, so I was able to go in and take close hand pictures. The graves appear to date from the 1840s to the 1920s, prior to the cemetery being closed in 1945. I was also surprised to note that some of the grave stones are better upkept than others, or at least that some, like the obelisk, appear to have had parts of the marble replaced. The writing on others, however, is worn totally smooth.
Even more interesting is the number of Gooderham graves, as in Gooderham & Worts, whose brewery you can still see in the Distillery District. It turns out that Ezekiel Gooderham was one of the first pastors of the attached church, which was demolished in the 1940s or 50s. His descendant George Gooderham was responsible for saving the cemetery from demolition in the 1940s.
This year’s Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference (formerly the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference) marked the fourth time that discussion groups for folks on both the trans and autistic spectrum were held and the first time that we were able to have two back to back sessions. They started out a little bumpy, but smoothed out for the second session, and several great discussions were had. You can find an updated copy of the handout, which contains information and resources for autistic/trans folks, in the Resources section of this site or directly here.
Unfortunately, all was not roses and honey. For the third year, the PTWC has insisted on replacing the convention centre’s bathroom signs with the featured image, mounted on cardboard. At first glance it looks fine, right? Sadly, the braille is simply printed on and does not have raised bumps which is, in fact, not how braille works. What is worse, these signs cover over the permanent washroom signs, which have raised and functional braille. Last year I mentioned this to Ashley Coleman, the conference organizer, and Simon Pedisich, their Accessibility Coordinator. Both expressed surprise and assured me that it would be corrected in future years. I also sent a reminder email to the Accessibility Coordinator, prior to this year’s conference, as part of the disability accommodation requests for the Nuerotrans sessions, to which I received no response at all. Frankly, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference has little more than a surface level commitment to broad accessibility at this point.
Parity between transmasculine and transfeminine content also continues to be a big problem at the conference. The historical lack of parity between these tracks was previously and exhaustively documented by Ells Long but, as may be expected, nothing seems to have changed. Indeed, content seemed more skewed towards transmasculine folks this year with an inexplicable two FTM bottom surgery show and tell sessions. Even by their own accounting, the ‘trans-masculine’ track outnumbered the ‘transfeminine’ by 22 to 10 sessions. As with Braille and other accessibility concerns, the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference and it’s leadership seem to lack the will to change this failing.
I travel a lot. Mostly for conferences and presentations, but I always like to fit in a little bit of vacation afterwards when I can. This year was the sixth time I went to the Philadelphia Transgender Wellness Conference and my fifth time presenting (more about that soon). The stars aligned and I was make a long deferred trip to New York City afterwards. I made a point of visiting two awesome bookstores, one great archive, and the LGBT Centre in Manhattan, which has an amazing mural by Keith Haring in the washroom.
While at the Centre I also checked out the safer sex supplies at the front desk and found this amazing swag that I hope will become more common outside of NYC. The #playsure kit is basically a little black case that has a space for a refillable! lube container, several condoms, and your pills. You can pack it with you wherever you go and always be ready for a good time. This initiative of the NYC Public Health Department is available for free at the NYC LGBT Centre, community events, and NYC sexual health clinics. To date, they’ve distributed over 150,000 and even gave them a fashion makeover designed by Marc Jacobs. I have never seen something like this before and very much hope that they become more common in places like Toronto.
In my work in Toronto homeless shelters I’ve had the chance to put together a resource list for homeless pets, including free pet food, veterinary care, and fostering services for people fleeing domestic violence. The last one is particularly important, as evidence shows that violent abusers often use threats against pets as a method of threatening or preventing those who are abused from leaving the relationship. These resources are specific to Toronto, but check out the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association site for information on SafePet programs throughout Ontario.
It’s true that there aren’t many texts out there detailing the practice and experience of radical (and, dare I say it, even anarchist) social work. In fact, though I’ve frequently seen it practiced and sometimes described in passing, I’ve only ever read one dedicated book on the subject; the self-published Anarchists in Social Work: Known to the Authorities by Martin S. Gilbert, Mark A. Newns, Peter Good, John Evans, and Doreen Frampton, which is fortunately freely available above. (more…)
An observant reader noted that the bed bug maps for the years 2009-2011 were corrupted. I’ve fixed this and they should download correctly now. I’ve also added a legend explaining what the colours specifically represent and that each area noted is taken from the first three figures of the Canada Postal Code of the reporting individual, which is how the data was given to me by Toronto Public Health. Folks might also be interested to know that I am currently in the process of updating the maps and should have something to report soon.
So as some know I co-facilitate a discussion group for Autistic and Trans folks at the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference every year. For the past two years I’ve made fidget toys to hand out and this year I made fidget spinners out of bicycle parts. I made a YouTube video demonstrating how I made them, which I’m hoping will be helpful to others with similar plans. I’ve also uploaded it to the resources page. As always, I’d like to give Bike Pirates and Bike Sauce in Toronto, who provided the parts, a big hand.
Hi folks, so you may have noticed some major changes to my site. Hopefully it looks classier and is easier to read. More importantly, I hope that this format will enable people to find information more easily and encourage me to use this platform to share more often. In fact, it seems only appropriate that the creation of the new Neuro/Trans handout inspired this change. Going forward I hope to use this space to share my thoughts on science, philosophy, politics, and everything else. I’m happy to have ya’ll along for the ride.