The “Penis” Issue: Trans and Intersex Women Speak Their Minds

Performers: Charlie Anders, Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, Sherilyn Connelly, solidad decosta, Julia Serano and Shawna Virago.
Curator: Julia Serano.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Rainbow Room, the LGBT Center (2nd floor)
1800 Market St, San Francisco,
7:30 pm
Tickets: sliding scale $8-15
This show is a part of the National Queer Arts Festival 2007
and is made possible thanks to support from the Queer Cultural Center and The San Francisco Foundation.

tickets can be purchased online via Brown Paper Tickets.

It is commonly presumed that all men have penises and all women do not. In this ground-breaking spoken word event, trans and intersex women share their perspectives and experiences living as women who do not conform to this assumption.

The existence of “women with penises” has been widely sensationalized and demonized in both straight and queer communities: they are the punch-lines of jokes in the mainstream media, hyper-exaggerated in so-called “chicks with dicks” pornography, used as an excuse to justify the exclusion of gender-variant women from lesbian and women-only spaces, and often the focus of male homophobic/transphobic rage and violence. These highly phallocentic and objectifying representations tend to differ greatly from the perspectives of actual intersex and trans women themselves, who by necessity often develop far more complex, nuanced and varied views about their own genitals, recognizing them as a part of their physical bodies and a source of sexual pleasure, albeit one that is at odds with societal assumptions regarding femaleness and (in some cases) their own mental self-image.

The purpose of this event is to move beyond the highly polarizing rhetoric that typically plagues discussions about “the penis,” inevitably either glorifying or demonizing it. Instead, this show will attempt to “dephallocize” the penis, by offering intersex and trans women’s first-hand accounts of their own experiences navigating their way through the world as women whose genitals do not conform to other people’s assumptions, and who often have to deal with other people’s “penis issues” as a result. It will be an entertaining, intelligent, honest, moving and non-sensationalistic dialogue that is both empowering for gender-variant women and enlightening for those who have not had an intersex or trans female experience themselves.

performer bios:
Charlie Anders has three appendixes and a detachable pancreas. Her first novel, Choir Boy, won a Lambda Literary Award and she co-edited the anthology She’s Such A Geek. She publishes other magazine and organizes the Writers With Drinks reading series.

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz is a writer, composer, chemist, black belt, and moonshiner who has recently featured at the National Queer Arts Festival, the National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival, Ladyfest South 2007, Atlanta Pride, UCLA’s OutCRY, and Fresh Meat. In 2005, Ryka was the inaugural performer for San Francisco Pride’s first ever Transgender Stage. She has also worked with the American Association of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions have been adopted by the group as its official “Songs of Peace.” Ryka has been honored by the California State Senate for her work with Trans/Giving, LA’s only art/performance series dedicated to trans, genderqueer, and intersex artists. She was formerly head judo coach at UCLA and Cornell University, and is a professor of English at Santa Monica College.

Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She’s featured at shows throughout California such as K’vetch, The Unhappy Hour, Poetry Mission, Siren, Ladyfest Bay Area, the TGSF Cotillion, and The Vagina Monologues. Her writing can be found on paper in I Do / I Don’t: Queers on Marriage by Suspect Thoughts, Good Advice for Young Trendy People of All Ages by Manic D Press, Girlfriends, Instant City, Morbid Curiosity, her own self-published chapbooks, and online at Her stage work includes acting in productions of Night of the Living Dead, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Zippy the Pinhead (as Karen Carpenter), as well as adapting and directing live-action Twilight Zone episodes. She co-hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room and the Queer Open Mic at The LGBT Center.

solidad decosta is an uppity Portuguese woman who isn’t afraid to claim her black latina maternal ancestry. Equal parts street journalist, storyteller and crone-ta-be with leo moon credentials, her work as a Performer/author/video artist encompasses the why and where of life outside the boxes in a label obsessed world, and the what, when, who and how of everything else. She has performed at universities, festivals, book stores and art galleries all across the country. solidad was also part of the video collective that produced “We Interrupt This Empire,” a documentary on the shutdown of downtown San Francisco on March 20, 2003, and has created several experimental video pieces, exploring themes such as street activism, stencil art and genderqueer identity.

Julia Serano is an Oakland-based writer, spoken word performer, trans activist, and biologist. She is the author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (published by Seal Press, June 2007), and her writings have appeared in queer, feminist, and pop culture magazines and anthologies, excerpted on National Public Radio and in The Believer and the San Francisco Chronicle, and used as teaching materials in college-level gender studies courses across the United States. She has presented and performed her work at numerous conferences and universities, and at high-profile events such as the National Queer Arts Festival, San Francisco Pride’s Dyke March and Trans March stages, Ladyfest, and the UC Berkeley production of the play The Vagina Monologues.

Shawna Virago is celebrated as a trans pioneer in music, filmmaking and activism. She is widely seen as out of the first artists to carve out the new genre of tranny rock. Virago’s three films have screened locally at Festivals including Frameline and TrannyFest, as well as at Festivals throughout the US, Canada and Europe. In addition to being a filmmaker, she is also the Director of Tranny Fest, the nation’s first transgender film and video festival, celebrating its 9th Festival this Fall. As a trans activist and advocate, she has done vital work for Community United Against Violence, San Francisco Women Against Rape, Transgender Law Center, SF Transgender Human Rights Task Force and was a founding member of TransAction. Virago was a 2002 San Francisco Pride Grand Marshall - the first trans woman ever to be chosen by the community for this title.

Subscribe to Julia’s email list for updates about new books, writings, performances, etc.!

* indicates required
homepage - about - booking - news & events - writings - social media - contact

julia serano ©2002-2024