Clearing

The night was muggy; hot, with the tantalizing idea of rain in the air. The quiet of the forest was punctuated by frog calls and the faint trickle of a nearby creek. The air smelled of musty earth and the surrounding  eucalypts whose spindly branches rustled occasionally in the slight breeze. By dawn  the clearing would be abuzz with activity and birdsong as the local wildlife ventured out for their early morning sabbaticals. Magpies would warble, cockatoos would fuzz and wrens would titter and carry out elaborate dances, but for now the space was still, apart from the occasional wombat or possum casually going about their evening. 
Suddenly the tranquillity was broken by the rustling undergrowth and snapping of twigs that signified human footsteps fast approaching the clearing.

Twigs caught in his bootlaces as he ran. Branches dragged across his ankles and legs, scratching and drawing blood. He felt nothing. Terror and survival pushed him onwards.  Looking over his shoulder every few steps, nearly stumbling as he did so. The moon barely shone, smothered by clouds. The sky was almost totally obscured by the slight outline of the trees. The forest seemed to stretch on forever without relief.  

He could hear his own breathing, raspy and panicked. He swallowed trying to calm himself. His heartbeat pulsed in his ears. He continued to run as fast as his legs would carry him, they felt limp and useless as he dragged himself along. His chest was on fire. He couldn’t run anymore.

He came to a clearing and stopped, whirling around, shining his ineffective torch into the scrub. He stopped spinning and tried to breathe more slowly, but his body wouldn’t let him. He bent over, his free hand resting on his knee, letting his guard down for a moment, when a crunching sound came from just outside the clearing.

He fumbled, dropping his torch, it smacked against a rock and went out. He dropped to the ground, scrambling at the dusty earth until he found it. Carefully touching the familiar barrel and running his finger along the plastic thread he tried to work out if it was fixable. Relief washed over him, it had just come apart. Vainly looking around the blackness of his surroundings he managed to screw it back together. The light flickered back on and he frantically moved torchlight along the tree line. He backed towards a sturdy looking tree, staring intently at the direction from which he had come. Slumping against the thick trunk he took another gulp of air. His mind raced as he tried to figure out what the hell he was going to do next. As he scanned the horizon his breathing began to slow and his heart rate began to gradually return to normal. Time passed, it seemed like hours. He couldn’t tell if it was getting closer to dawn or if his eyesight was just adjusting to the dark, but he could see the trees outside of the torch light. There was no sign of his pursuer. His eyelids drooped and he finally allowed his eyes to close.

He awoke to the bright noon sunlight blasting down upon him, the surrounding trees had shaded him from the early rays of the sun and it was just starting to heat up to the point of being uncomfortable. The torch had rolled out of his hand, the battery long since dead. He squinted into the light, and tested his limbs, assessing the damage. His legs hurt, they felt like they had been cut to ribbons and they were caked in blood and dirt. His arms ached He felt the back of his head for the wound, it was bloody and more swollen than he had anticipated, the realisation of the severity of the injury made his stomach lurch. He felt faint and had a slight flash of recollection of the night before. His stomach lurched and changed his train of thought. He scratched at one of the many insect bites that dotted his body. Mosquito bite maybe, hopefully not a spider, possibly ants. There were a few small ants determinedly making their way over the leaves beside his left foot, completely uninterested in this huge interloper, they carried on their day as planned. In fact for the most part the forest seemed completely underwhelmed by the presence of this obvious outsider. A magpie examined him for a few minutes before summarily dismissing is presence as a less than interesting anomaly and hopping away.  

He struggled to his feet and tried to gauge how far he was from the nearest road. How far had he run? It felt like forever, but the forest was a finite space, less than 50kms in diameter, so surely a road had to be less than 25kms in one direction or another. He had spent some time here as a kid but he never went in this far. Hopefully he would stumble across something familiar, a rocky outcrop he’d  traversed as a kid or a bike trail. He used to blaze along the bumpy tracks in his old dirt bike. He and Ryan would cut school, stock up on supplies and race through the trees until school was over then head back looking suspiciously scruffy for kids who had been at school all day. Ryan? Shit he hadn’t thought about him in years, he was probably his first real crush, and most gentle and ultimately crushing rejection. He smiled sadly as he recalled  afternoon spent poking bull ant nests and nearly running over hikers. One particularly disgruntled hiker who was nearly flattened by the boy’s bikes while following a shared trail made signs warning “Bike Riders GIVE WAY TO HIKERS” out of ply wood nailed to trees. Signs that the boys spent a gloriously sunny afternoon defacing with thick permanent marker.

What he wouldn’t give to see one of those signs right now.

He shielded his face and squinted in the direction of the sun, he wished he’d paid more attention to the basic stuff, the stuff that would have aided his survival. He knew that the placid magpies near the entrance to the forest wouldn’t swoop because they had been fed by regular visitors and that the point where the two creeks met was the best place for finding frogs but he couldn’t even remember which direction the sun set in relation to the forest. He patted his pockets vainly, he wasn’t sure what he expected to find, but the content were still disappointing; all he found was a receipt, a phone card a substantial quantity of pocket lint. Useless. At least he could call someone if he reached a payphone.

He decided to set out in the opposite direction to the sun, so that he could at least see where he was going, flawed logic, he knew that, but he was grasping at any semblance of strategy he could think of.  Tightening and retying the laces on his boots he briefly examined the wounds on his legs, they weren’t too bad, he could still walk at a reasonable pace, but he would definitely need to go to a hospital or see a doctor. A doctor? Oh no, a sudden wave of recollection and regret washed over him. He was supposed to meet Henry last night. He would be worried or worse angry. Henry would believe him, he would have to, he could show him the scrapes and scratches. Maybe even get him to have a look at his head. If he could convince the young doctor to meet him again, which might be easier said than done, especially if Henry thought this was just another lame excuse. 

At least work would be fine, he could file a police report and that documentation would be enough. He tried to arrange the events of the night before into a comprehendible storyline. He knew he drove home from work, or at least he started to. So how did he end up here and where the fuck was his car? He had pulled over, he remembered that much, something happened. He had hit something, or something hit him. The rest was a dizzying blur. He wasn’t sure who, or what had attacked him, a man, he thought. There was the vague memory of a white four wheel drive and a gravelly voice on the edge of his consciousness but he wasn’t sure what was real and what was his traumatized memory filling in the blanks. He had run for ages but surely he couldn’t be that far away from the rest area he had stopped in, if he could just find a road or trail he was sure he could find his way out, hopefully before nightfall.

He vainly tried to wipe some of the grime off his forehead and began to trudge between the close growing gum trees towards to gradually growing sound of trickling water, if he found the creek he could follow it, and maybe splash some water on his face. He was pretty sure it would lead to a road in either direction, though it could be quite a trek. As he walked past a thick gum tree laden with deep red oozing sap he was too distracted to notice the figure leaning against it. 

From behind him a familiar gravelly voice boomed “Sleep well?”

He spun around just in time to see the dark metal of the shovel come down on his head.

***

Kit homes and hard plastic playgrounds had popped up like mushrooms along the peaks and ridges of the valley. A battered and contorted creek ran into a manufactured lake, with cheaply constructed viewing platforms that had little view to offer. Fat contented ducks paddled listlessly through the reeds awaiting the next unsuspecting picnic or enthusiastic toddler with an old loaf of bread. A deliberately rustic path, lined with strips of metal lest the dirt mingle with the lawn, wound through the park. The compacted trail was impossible for scooters and bikes during the muddy winters but luckily for the local kids the summer heat had solidified the path into a smooth , albeit inconsistent  surface on which determined children could achieve a satisfyingly terrifying amount of speed.

 Stevie and Kate flew past benches awaiting graffiti on scooters that were well worn and well loved, they rattled and squeaked as they bumped over rocks and crevices. Stevie’s scooter was new at Christmas and it was already covered in scratches and stickers. The hastily assembled plastic had gone through it’s share of punishment, but Stevie was unrelenting, testing the very limits of the safety warnings. As they approached Kate’s house their scuffed shoes dragged along the steep curb almost in unison, coming to an abrupt halt just beyond the brick pillar mailbox of the toy strewn yard. 

“See you tomorrow” Kate yelled over her shoulder as she walked  her scooter up the driveway. Stevie waved and nodded, walking her own scooter past the scaffolding that signalled the impending urbanization of the forest that remained past the estate. Her house was on the very edge of the forest, in fact it had still been forest when her mum and dad bought it. Stevie and her much older brother had collected stick insects and climbed the trees on the block before the foundation had been laid. He was the one who had taught her how to carve worlds into logs and where to find the most interesting bugs. He was her rock, her hero. But now her brother had left her for uni, left her to deal with the full focus of her parents on her own and only a few lonely trees remained. She stopped and walked her scooter across her rocky, dusty backyard. Earlier that week the excavator had dragged away the grassy top soil to flatten out the backyard and the dirt was in piles waiting to be dragged away.

Stevie kicked through the rubble, her mum would flip if she knew she was out here messing around near the tiles and building supplies. She grinned a gap tooth grin, she’d been busting to check out the debris and climb the dirt mounds. As she traversed the lumpy dunes and slid down the steep inclines, coating her school shorts in thick red dirt, a flash of colour caught her eye. She attempted to dust off her hands on the front of her shirt and stooped to pick up the faded plastic artefact. Stevie examined the flaky red plastic, smoothed down through years of weathering, she ran her finger across the slight ripple of where the thread used to be. A tube maybe? Like a container or something, She shook it a corroded battery slid slowly out. 

Unbeknownst to the grubby school kid with skun knees her mother had caught sight of her from the laundry window and was not pleased with what she saw. Little did she know how unimpressed she was soon to be when, a few hours from now the local police and forensic services would descend on their already torn apart yard  She waited for a moment, intently watching Stevie fumble with whatever gross scavenged item she had found this time. The mother sighed deeply, It was great that the girl was curious and fearless but a slight sense of self preservation would be nice. She reluctantly open the screen door and bellowed in her best mum voice “Stevie put that down and get in here NOW!” 

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10 things I need to share about MY Mummy Guilt

It’s a sad and common state of affairs when the people who our society expects to raise the next generation are too busy worrying about what they are doing wrong to focus on the little people they love. And it’s not like I want to spend my time stressing about what other people think. I DON’T WANT TO CARE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES IN HOW WE RAISE OUR KIDS. And I’m going to assume that I’m not the only one. I don’t want to be constantly comparing what I do to what you do. So why are we so hardwired to judge ourselves and others on how raise our kids?

I’m not sure if it’s some kind of instinct built into us to make sure kids don’t get neglected, but I don’t know about you but my mummy guilt reflex is OUT OF CONTROL. Obviously if you know more about this (and that wouldn’t be hard) feel free to get in touch.

I’m not prescribing any wisdom, because I have none to offer let alone assert as truth but here are some ideas that help me cope with the constant struggle to keep sane in the face of parenting:

  1.  My kids are fine. Your kids are fine.
  2. We all develop differently and put all the weight of the development of our kids on how we parent is bananas.
  3. If the kids are kind, fed, washed, loved, safe and happy then why do we care?
  4. We know more about keeping kids safe and happy than we ever have.
  5. No one is a perfect parent
  6. You can’t parent if you don’t look after yourself at least a little.
  7. Instant maternal or paternal love is not guaranteed. And parenting is easier for some people than others.
  8. Looking after kids is a constant learning process.
  9. Biology only goes so far
  10. No matter what you do someone will judge you so just do the right thing by your family

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Rabbits… A Podcast

I’ve been listening to Pacific Northwest Stories The Black Tapes since the beginning of it’s run, and I reluctantly dipped my toe in the TANIS mystery, which promptly swept me up in a slightly obsessive haze of vague ideas about ancient environmental phenomena. And now they’ve released a new series, this time under the production name of the Public Radio Alliance.

So why the switch? If you know send me a message…

Black Tapes deals with ghosts and demons, TANIS deals with mythology and folklore, and now Rabbits takes on Augmented Reality Games (ARG), exploring what happens if you raise the stakes and take the ARG to a whole new level.

Carly’s friend Yumiko has dissapeared and the last time she saw her she seemed to be getting drawn into an ARG known simply as “9” or “Rabbits”. The game is cloaked in secrecy but what is clear is that the game is elaborate and has very high stakes. 

The second episode dropped last week and episode 3 is set to come out around the 28th of March. I’m enjoying it so far, it’s a bit slow going initially,but the mystery starts to deepen within the first episode. The series definitly follows in the footsteps of it’s big sisters Tanis and The Black Tapes, with a similar soundscape and narrative style. There have even been a few nods to the other podcasts that avid followers might get a giggle or smile out of.

Never listened to a podcast?

This month is #trypod month in which those of us who are obsessed with podcast attempt to bring you to the dark side and get you to try a pod cast you might really love.

So why not try Rabbits?

One way to download a podcast is to download a podcast app from your app store, I use Podcast Republic, but Stitcher and Podcast Addict are also highly regarded. Then search in the app for “Rabbits”.

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Wash out

I do believe Summer may have lulled us into complacency. I hate being hot and sweaty but I had kind of resigned myself that it was now my lot in life to slowly roast to death in the gradual onset of a massive climate change. But that is still not quite how seasons work and the first big storm of Autumn certainly made an impact. Our little turtle house held up pretty well but our neighbour’s canvas tent, a magnificent gorgeous thing in more friendly conditions, was completely washed out to the extent that they made a midnight evacuation to less porous accomadation. 

The claps of thunder brought a sheepish 9 year old to the foot of our bed and he sat with his step dad, watching the radar and checking on the fire started by a nearby lightening strike on the emergency services app.

By the morning we were pretty much the only loiterers left, besides a sad, slumped canvas tent and the less wet patches signifying where the caravans had been.

Then like a cliché in a hastily written blog post the ducks arrived.

Tonight I will attempt to battle with my eternal nemesis; the wet weather campfire.

Wish me luck…

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Call out to clever cloggs

Got an idea you want to chat about?

Obsessed with something niche?

Are people tired of hearing about it?

Do they get that glazed over look in their eyes?

Do they sigh loudly when you mention it?

Do they cross the street when they see you coming?

Do they start screaming when you open your mouth?

Don’t stress we’ve got your back!

Starting this May our podcast gives a voice to the obsessed, the fanatical and the heartbreakingly earnest. We want to hear what you’ve got to say and if you can say it in 2 minutes we can give you the proverbial floor to convince us all that we should care about your thing.

What we need from you:

  • A 2 minute “pitch” for your idea, cause or obsession explaining why we should care about it too.  You can mention a specific project if you like  before your 2 minutes but it isn’t an ad so we can’t really take pitches that are just promotional.
  • 10 minutes of your time
  • A photo of you and/or the thing you care about

OR

If you are a performer you can share a song, poem, play or short story.

So if I can’t promote my stuff what can I talk about?

Well you can expand it to talk more generally. For example, if you have a podcast about true crime you can promote it before your 2 minutes, but in your 2 minutes you might talk about why people should care about wrongful convictions. Or if you have a small business you might want to talk about the importance of shopping local or buying handmade instead of mass produced. We are totally happy to plug your stuff, but the point of the 2 minute pitch is to squash as much information about the stuff you care about into it, your promotional message can be given pride of place before or after it when listeners will have time to process it.

No matter what you love we want to hear from you

Email morgan.pinder@gmail.com

Or message this blog!

 

​What do pop culture representations of transgender individuals tell us about current understandings of transgenderism?

​”What do pop culture representations of transgender individuals tell us about current understandings of transgenderism?”

Disclaimer: I wrote this for my university unit about the way societal norms assign “otherness” to certain groups who “transgress” those physical “norms”.

I don’t profess to be an expert in any of the issues discussed and I truly hope that this is not a totally ill-informed piece of B.S. I realise this is a highly emotive subject for a lot of people whose lives are touched by these issues and I hope I’ve been sensitive to that.

Thanks for reading 

Love your guts

~ Morgan

The growing representation of LGBTQ individuals in the media and the public sphere has been largely focused on lesbian, gay and bisexual narratives and discourse, but transgender representation in pop culture has undergone a slow, often independent transformation, from a pathology to an aspect of individual identity. The interaction between transgender narratives and societal norms is fraught and problematic with factors that include but are not limited to; ideas of deception and honesty, language, casting and representation, and user created content. The purpose of this essay is to explore the aforementioned issues in transgender representation in pop culture and how these factors effect and reflect societal attitudes using cultural and cinematic examples which demonstrate turning points or key signpost indicating attitudes to transgender identification.
I have made the choice to use the term “cisgender” where possible instead of “straight” as it is less problematic as it does not imply that being transgender is abnormal. Oxford English Dictionary defines cisgender as “Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex” (Oxford Dictionaries, English, 2017). This is not a widely accepted term as it is a term defined through transgender discourse and many people choose to still identify as straight, but, as transgender representation is the subject of this essay I felt that normative terms would be counterproductive. The idea of transgenderism as inherently violent or deceitful and therefore threatening to a safe stable society is reinforced through the straight and “other” dichotomy, and the language that surrounds it, hence my choice to avoid the term straight, rejecting the idea of the “other” as being a force of corruption or deceit (Barker-Plummer, 2013).

There are two key approaches taken in popular media culture when engaging in transgender discourse, being  the “Wrong body” approach and “genderqueer” approach (Barker-Plummer, 2013). These approaches vary considerably in their depictions of transgender individuals with “wrong body” approach explaining transgender experience in terms that still exist within a binary understanding of gender and is less troubling to the pre-existing heteronormative culture and discourse than the “genderqueer” approach which disrupts this gender binary and opens up societal understandings of gender by disassociating gender from sexuality, as the process of transitioning gender is not always linked to any change in sexual desire (Barker-Plummer, 2013) which is important when discussing media depictions because “wrong body” discourse often depicts the transgender individual as sexually deceptive, linking gender transition to dishonesty in a way that is not helpful or accurate. 

Queer representation as a whole has come along in leaps and bounds in the past few decades with series’ such as Queer as Folk (Queer as Folk Season 1-5, 2009) and The L word (L Word, The – The Complete Series, 2004) gaining an extensive and varied pop culture following. But by contrast Transgender has been relegated to being the  “other” in the queer communities with transgender identities being marginalised. Even within these queer communities, sometimes transgenderism is seen as embarrassing and not quite fitting into the LGBTQ community historically (Mills, 2006). The place of transgenderism in queer media is a relatively recent development by comparison.

Prior to the 1990s the dominant popular culture view of transgenderism was represented by extremely undesirable characters such as the murderous Norman Bates, based on the deeply troubled killer Ed Gein in Psycho (1960), diabolical serial killer Buffalo Bill of Silence of the Lambs (1991) and even the raunchy musical Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) which has often been reclaimed by transgender communities, features Dr. Frank-N-Furter as a sexually predatory mad scientist. Both of these aforementioned characters are vastly different, but are both linked to violence and deception, a common trope in transgender narratives to this day. The pathologizing of transgender identification in the media links transgenderism to deception, mental illness and often sexual violence.

Comedy depictions of transgender characters tend to render the transgression of socially accepted binary gender roles ridiculous and comedic. Examples of these cinematic depictions, especially prevalent in the 1970s to the present, are Tootsie (1982), The Birdcage (1996) and Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994). Unlike the pathological treatment of transgender  narratives these lighter modes of cinematic discourse often reject the violence at play in the criminal transgender narrative, and whilst these films often poke fun at transgender people, they also deliver heart felt moments which can make transgender individuals more relatable without compromising their identity (Priscilla Queen of the Desert,1994). However these heartfelt moments are often borne out of the individual redefining themselves to fit within the gender binary, implying that it is because of their rejection of a transgender identity that they achieve humanity or redemption (Tootsie, 1982). Then with the advent of Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) the new trope of the tragic transgender figure emerged, this was a character who was a victim, rather than a perpetrator of sexual violence, often committed by homophobic and transphobic males.

In Boys Don’t Cry the story of Brandon Teena is depicted in heartbreaking detail, and as this was based on a true story Brandon became the iconic tragic transgender hero (Rigney, 2003) for a movement towards more sympathetic depictions of transgender individuals. Stories like this are brutal, devastating and crucial to societal understandings of the transgender experience, but it does not paint the whole picture. In order to be represented accurately the transgender community needed to not just be sympathetic but these characters need to be given agency in a variety of narratives. The lack of agency often afforded to transgender characters denies them equal importance by virtue of their non binary gender identification.

The tropes of commercially produced transgender narratives i.e.; the psychopath, the comedic figure and the tragic hero, are giving way to a new kind of transgender narrative, one in which the transgender individual is the self determining protagonist, in which the transgenderism is not uniformly a point of derision, revulsion or pity. In these narratives, such as Girl Meets Boy (2014) the transgender person is afforded an agency and power that is usually only given to cisgender characters. This move towards a less marginalised view of transgenderism is partially a result of greater acceptance of transgender identification and partially as a result of greater representation of transgender people in the media industries. This move towards the less binary “genderqueer” approach allows for a much greater societal understanding of the issues faced by individuals and communities that identify as transgender. 

A common approach to depicting transgender characters is using the “coming out” storyline as the point of focus. This is a useful dialogue in that it engages in discourse surrounding societal gender norms. This process of coming out means that an individual expresses their queer identity to those around them. The media often depicts a negative fallout from this situation with the implication that the person coming out has been keeping the truth from their loved ones, further implying deception and malice rather than a process of discovery and divulging the discovery to trusted parties. This idea of secrecy and deception surrounding the transgender identity is echoed and reinforced by even some of the most earnest and well meaning transgender narratives. The process of linking honesty to coming out is apparent in the narrative and title of the recent series Transparent (2016). By linking coming out to honesty in the title implies that before the character “came out” they were being dishonest, and Maura’s adult children react in a variety of ways but a common thread is that their father was being dishonest by changing the way she identified her gender (Funk and Funk, 2016). Treating transgender identification as deceptive attaches a variety of negative connotations to the transitioning or gender exploration process which can have lasting repercussions on popular perceptions of transgenderism (Barker-Plummer, 2013).

In order to assess the level of transgender representation in produced media it is important to address issues of casting. Popular cinema has a history of casting cisgender individuals to play transgender roles. This suggests an unwillingness to display the transgender body, implying that it is undesirable and inappropriate for public viewing. Even in queer produced media such as “Boys Don’t Cry”, a breakthrough piece of transgender cinema, featured cisgender actor Hilary Swank as the transgender protagonist, Brandon Teena. In more recent times Amazon series Transparent has a male cisgender actor, Jeffery Tambor playing a female transgender protagonist, with transgender actors playing supporting roles. Greater representation is gradually being given to transgender actors in transgender roles with Laverne Cox playing prominent transgender roles in Orange is the New Black (2013) and the 2016 Rocky Horror reboot, and transgender actor Michelle Hendley starring in the 2014 movie Girl Meets Boy. This increased representation is still only a sliver of the commercially produced and distributed media however, it is indicative of changing views towards transgender bodies and a greater acceptance of genderqueer narratives in both audiences and media industries. 

Online media, unlike previously discussed cinema and television media modes, has the ability to immediately reflect and react to changing perception of gender in society due to the increased accessibility to means of self publishing or production. As a result of this user generated content online social media platforms have a far greater level of transgender representation on formats such as YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress and Facebook (McInroy and Craig, 2015). YouTube in particular showcases positive transition stories, transgender information and has the ability to foster positive niche communities, with their own celebrities and figureheads that better represent their “genderqueer” identification. However not all of these online movements are organic, with social activism and advocacy finding a strong voice and online presence. The It Gets Better campaign, which asks prominent and everyday individuals to share messages of affirmation and hope with LGBTQ young people. This movement engages with “queer worldmaking activities” (West et al, 2013) creating a safe space for transgender identification, and making a conscious and concerted effort to carve out a positive outlook and hopefully future for transgender youths who have a statistically higher rate of suicide than those identifying as “straight” or cisgender (West et al, 2013)

Despite the growing acceptance of “genderqueer” thinking and transgender identification mainstream media still holds tight to most of the tropes that marginalized and pathologized transgenderism in the media. The creation of positive transition narratives and queer world building is falling to new media that is reliant on user generated content, allowing it to operate outside the gender politics of the traditional media and cultural structures and industries. The less filtered immediacy of social and user generated media allows previously marginalised groups access to communities they might never have reached otherwise. Whilst this form of DIY media allows transgender individuals to exchange and share information, form online relationships and form communities it can also be a source of disinformation if each contribution is not able to be vetted effectively by the reader, viewer or listener (Fox and Ralston, 2016).

The spectrum of popular culture is so vast that  the narrow focus of this essay, that is television, cinema and user generated online content, whilst indicative of the current views of transgender identity, neglects some of the elements of popular culture such as music, visual arts, books and graphic novels which have often more quickly adopted “genderqueer” approaches. By not including an in depth look at these media modes I am not seeking to deny their importance, but rather address more widely consumed media modes. 

The move away from the “wrong body” approach and transgender tropes, to honest “genderqueer” narratives that explore transgender issues with the same respect and depth as cisgender issues receive has been slow moving and sometimes reluctant in its progress but is being pushed on by a wave of support and representation from user driven content. The result of this push for more accurate transgender representation is a greater knowledge of gender issues in society at large, a greater acceptance of transgender individuals and the creation of safe spaces in online media for transgender people to interact and support each other. Societal attitudes towards transgenderism still tend towards marginalisation but there is potentially change on the horizon as levels of understanding and more open gender discourse filter through various subsections and branches of society.



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References

Barker-Plummer, Bernadette (2013) Fixing Gwen, Feminist Media Studies, 13:4, 710-724, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2012.679289

“Boys Don’t Cry”, director. Kimberley Peirce, 1999,.

“Cisgender – Definition Of Cisgender In English | Oxford Dictionaries”.Oxford Dictionaries | English, 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cisgender.

Fox, Jesse, and Rachel Ralston. “Queer identity online: Informal learning and teaching experiences of LGBTQ individuals on social media.”Computers in Human Behavior 65 (2016): 635-642.

Funk, Steven, and Jaydi Funk. “Transgender Dispossession in Transparent: Coming Out as a Euphemism for Honesty.” Sexuality & Culture 20.4 (2016): 879-905.

“Girl Meets Boy”, director. Eric Schaeffer, 2014,.

“Hedwig And The Angry Inch”, director. John Cameron Mitchell, 2001,.

“L Word, The – The Complete Series”, studio. 20Th Century Fox, 2004,.

McInroy, Lauren B. And Craig, Shelley L. (2015) Transgender Representation in Offline and Online Media: LGBTQ Youth Perspectives, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 25:6, 606-617, DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2014.995392

Mills, Robert. “Queer Is Here? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Histories and Public Culture.” History Workshop Journal, no. 62, 2006, pp. 253–263. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25472884.

“Orange Is The New Black”, director. Jenji Kohan, 2013,.

“Psycho”, director. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960,.

“Queer As Folk Season 1-5”, studio. Warner Home Video, 2009,.

Rigney, Melissa. “Brandon Goes to Hollywood: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and the Transgender Body in Film.” Film Criticism, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003, pp. 4–23. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44019160. 

“Rocky Horror Picture Show”, director. Jim Sharman, 1975,.

“Rocky Horror Picture Show; Let’s Do The Time Warp Again”, director. Kenny Ortega, 2016,.

“Silence Of The Lambs”, director. Jonathan Demme, 1991,.

“The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert”, director. Stephan Elliot, 1994,.

“The Birdcage”, director. Mike Nichols, 1992,.

“Tootsie”, director. Sidney Pollack, 1982,.

“Transparent”, director. Amazon, 2016,.

West, Isaac et al. “Queer Worldmaking in the ‘It Gets Better’ Campaign.” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 2013, pp. 49–86. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/qed.0049.



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​I do not wish to alarm you but your human is on fire again

It was a beautiful Sunday night in May, the crisp cold night air tickled my nose as I stood on the front doorstep, quietly deliberating what to do with my evening. The night was young and the sounds of cheeky crickets drifted across the calm suburban landscape. A bath maybe, or a moonlit stroll? Perhaps a game of chicken with the stupid fluffy canine a few doors down. My tail twitched as I remembered how close the mangy mutt came to taking a substantial chunk out of it last time I paid him a visit. No, no adventures tonight, a nice relaxing bath sounded just right. I sat down and extended my tongue, when a sudden noise disturbed me. Then the smell of smoke filled the air and I knew exactly where it was coming from. Sighing, I stretched and stood back up, the bath would have to wait. I wasn’t particularly hungry but one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Or let a stray human get away unscented. 
Straining like I never used to as a kitten I jumped the fence and walked carefully and cautiously past the tall stinky boxes the humans put their waste food in. There she was sitting on the steps of the neighbours; the woman next door was on fire again. Careless bloody human. She looked so cold bouncing her legs up and down. I have no idea why the hell that silly hairless creature goes out there just to set herself alight and breathe smoke out into the night air. Trying not to think about the pain that is now shooting up my thigh I attempted to hobble gracefully over to the steps were the human is perched. The human, notices and acknowledges me with the usual series of grunts and garbled noise. She’s not terrible as far as humans go, a bit unfriendly sometimes, and smelly, but not aggressive or dangerous. Not like the small human that lives there, which charges unprovoked at anything that moves. They need to put a muzzle on that thing, I’m sure there would be a cage or something that could house such an agro beast. You wouldn’t catch my human behaving like that. She would know better than to bring one of those small aggressive humans into my house. Its a good thing she has me to look after her but this human, this human is so lost without a cat to guide her.

I sidle up to her to make her smell a bit better. I tentatively rubbed up against her leg, just to let her know that I’m open to food if she has some. Her legs are black today, and she cleans my white fur off her. Yeah sure, you smell of smoke and you look like you are about to die of hypothermia, but yeah a couple of hairs are the main problem here. She didn’t appear to have any food, disappointing, but sadly not surprising. And I had wasted precious bath time. I thought I may as well leave her to her combustion. I don’t understand the compulsion to light bits of stuff on fire and inhale them deeply. It can’t be good for her. Oh well. Not my human not my problem. I head home, but decided to walk around the fence this time, not to repeat the same undignified landing and risk pulling another muscle. I know I shouldn’t sticky beak but all of these stray humans moving into the neighbourhood without cats to look after them is really troubling. I suppose, I thought shuddering, it could be worse they could have a terrier. 



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​6 Ways You Should Not Open Your Writing Portfolio

As a writer it can be difficult to effectively showcase your work to prospective employers, educational institutions or for any other multitude of reasons. There is the dilemma of choosing which pieces to include and whether to write new material for the purpose. But in the digital age it is so important to make a good first impression and hold your readers attention. A strong opening piece can be the difference between landing an interview and going through the shredder. Whilst we cannot tell you exactly what to open with, we have compiled a list of common mistakes and faux pas many writers are guilty of regardless of their experience.
Don’t open your portfolio with:

1. A Musical Number

Regardless of the shininess of your jumpsuit , the innovative arrangement of David Bowie’s Life on Mars for a 40 piece orchestra, or the stunningly nimble backup dancers it will inevitably get lost in translation to the written word. Maybe save the money you would have spent on doves and the time spent on hand sewing sequins and put it to better use. Wipe off the sparkly face paint, turn off the smoke machine, buy yourself a new computer or a couple of hundred lattes and sit down and write something a little less, umm… audio visual. 

2. Xenophobia 

It’s just not helpful and it tends to alienate people. Save your bigotry for the employee lounge after you get the job. 

3. Hardcore Harry Potter Fan Erotica

Yes, we all see what you did with that wand euphemism, well done. Nobody outside of your niche forum needs to read that, you are just making everyone uncomfortable. Please keep all theories you have about Snape and Hermoine’s implied hidden romance to yourself. 

4. Personal insults

Whilst it can be humorous to lightly poke fun at your readers, it’s important not to go too far. Questioning their taste in reading your work might be self deprecating and amusing, however avoid statements like “What are you doing reading this steaming pile of rubbish you total wanker?”, this may put people off.

5. A Buzzfeed Style Clickbait List

Give your readers a bit of credit. Whether you are writing your portfolio to show potential employers, as part of an education program or to impress that barista you’ve been trying to chat up, it’s important to remember that the person reading this has seen every trope and writing cliché under the sun. Just churning out patronizing “content” is not going to cut it. It’s lazy, you’ll look like a jerk and undermine everything else in your portfolio.

6. Windings (or boxes if you haven’t installed the font yet)

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Camp Shower’s Big Adventure

Today I:

  • drove 20kms at 100kmph
  • Went around 3 round abouts 
  • Went into 2 shops 
  • Dropped the kids off at their various schools
  • Drove in town for 15 minutes

All without noticing our camp shower on the boot of my car until some lovely guy at the traffic lights told me.

1. Ffs Morgan get your shit together
2. High five camp shower for hanging on like a trooper

Coffee time me thinks…

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