Sandy Stone

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Allucquére Rosanne “Sandy” Stone, the woman acknowledged as the founder of academic transgender studies, started out her career as a lab researcher and traveling “feral filmmaker” who talked professors into allowing her to audit their classes. After finally earning a graduate degree she settled into work as a recording engineer, working with artists like Jimi Hendrix and dressing in a long black cape. Her participation in a feminist recording collective where she lived for four years was personally called out by Janice Raymond in her book The Transsexual Empire, sparking the salvo that would inspire Stone’s own essay, The Empire Strikes Back, considered the seminal transgender studies text.

Stone now teaches and studies media, theorizing on – among other things – technology and the shifting role of academia. A video of her speaking at the European Graduate School where she now teaches (along with several other universities) is available here. She also writes and creates gallery installations to illustrate her theories.

Shi Pei Pu

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Shi Pei Pu (Chinese: 时佩璞), a 20th century Chinese opera singer and dancer specializing in female roles, is better known now for his unusual espionage saga than for his art. His fluent French was put to use when he met a diplomat at a party, igniting a nearly twenty year (sometimes long-distance) romantic and sexual relationship built on his requests for confidential French documents. Both he and the other man were later caught, and he served several years of prison time before being pardoned. After his release Shi remained in Paris as an opera performer; his death warranted a mention in Time. His story was loosely adapted into the play M. Butterfly.

Shi’s espionage case achieved notoriety due to the gender dynamics involved. Although reports on how it started vary between outright lying and insinuation, one way or another Shi’s lover was convinced that he was a woman for the duration of their relationship, including through a faked pregnancy. Although Shi was reluctant to speak on the details to the press, he did explain that he “used to fascinate both men and women” and that “what [he] was and what they were didn’t matter”.

Tobi Hill-Meyer

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Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project was the brainchild that put porn actress and transgender activist Tobi Hill-Meyer on the map. Frustrated with the lack of porn created from the perspective of (and intended for) trans women, she went on to win Feminist Porn Awards and found her own production company. Outside of her erotic work, Hill-Meyer blogs on queer and feminist website The Bilerico Project and speaks at conferences about her pansexual and transgender identities. She has previously worked at COLAGE, an organization for children of one or more queer parents – fitting, seeing as her mothers are lesbians.

Her Twitter feed is here; her (semi-)private Facebook page is here. Her Tumblr, which includes more substantial content, can be found here.

David Jay

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David Jay, founder of AVEN (Asexual Visability & Education Network, a popular asexual website), has helped guide the asexuality movement through what he calls ‘three phases‘: Identifying asexuality as an identity; spreading the message through the media; and shifting public perceptions of what counts as normal sexuality. ‘AVENguy‘, as he styles himself on AVEN’s wiki, was featured in the documentary (A)sexual and a more sensationalistic episode of The View; in the realm of self-produced media, he has years’ worth of podcasts archived at Love from the Asexual Underground. Jay’s presence is never far from news articles about asexuality, either. Per his Twitter profile, he works in technology at the time of this writing.

His Twitter can be found here; his Facebook is here.

 

Historiography Saturday: Set and Horus

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Set (on the far right next to Ramesses the Third) was the Egyptian god of the desert, disorder, and violence, the last of which he demonstrated by murdering and dismembering his brother, Osiris, the king of the gods, in a fit of envy. Osiris’s wife, Isis, brought him back to life just long enough for her to conceive a son: Horus, the sky god (on the left). When Horus came of age, he challenged Set to determine which of them would succeed Osiris. One of their many battles involved Set engaging in intercrural sex when he though Horus was sleeping. Horus, however, knew what was happening, and threw Set’s semen in the river; he then spread his own semen and spread it on lettuce, which he tricked Set into eating. The gods ruled Horus the victor in that round, and he went on to finally triumph by beating Set in a stone boat race.

The myth of Horus and Set is listed in the LGBT themes in mythology page on Wikipedia, though the story contains only a single sexual act between two male gods, and it occurs as part of an extended competition between them. How their contendings should be classified, then, remains an open question; certainly by contemporary standards, it would be inaccurate to define them by a single act of sexualized dominance.

 

Sally Ride

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Astronaut Sally Ride sailed away on the shuttle Challenger when she was only 32, making her both the first American woman and the youngest person in space up to the time of this posting. A physicist with a Ph.D. from Stanford University, she was accepted into NASA as part of a new wave of scientists recruited to run experiments (and create Challenger‘s robot arm). After she had participated in two flights, her shuttle broke apart after liftoff, and she spent the remainder of her time with NASA on the ground in administrative roles.

Following her career as an astronaut, Ride was hired as a physics professor by the University of California, San Diego, and as director of the California Space Institute. For the remainder of her life she pursued projects designed to pique children’s interest in space, with a focus on girls. When she passed away, at her request, her obituary named her female parter; it marked the first time she had come out to the general public.

Jean Wyllys

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Politician, journalism professor, and winning contestant on Brazil’s Big Brother, Jean Wyllys is an unlikely champion for LGBT rights. An academic to the core, Wyllys had entered the competition to conduct an ethnographic study, but came out publicly during filming, making him the show’s first openly queer contestant. He moved into the political realm and joined up with the Socialism and Freedom Party, then won his Parliamentary election, becoming the country’s first openly gay MP. At the time of this posting he is focusing on social reforms like combatting homophobia from Brazilian religious factions and improving the legal status of prostitutes.

His Facebook account can be found here; his Twitter, here. Both are in Portuguese.