why i care a lot about personal stories

So a big deal part of this project for me is the importance of first person narrative in political movements. I wanna tell you alll about it. Please don’t snore too loud—this is an excerpt from my senior thesis for school. Just ignore anything jargon-y, I have to use a way different vocabulary for school and I’m not always sure how much I’m even getting my point across.



I’ve always found myself drawn to memoir, autobiography, and personal storytelling. I especially appreciate the use of personal storytelling to share learning experiences, pieces of history, and moments of everyday life that, in sharing, become extraordinary. What’s motivating in these stories is the capacity in our lives for growth and change, both personally and socially. The writers who I love and admire have given voice to experiences that people can connect to and empathize with and know that they are not alone.

This kind of connection can often be overlooked or trivialized, but has so much cathartic potential and political charge. The act of telling has the potential to create powerful connections between movements and communities. As a young person developing a political analysis in radical activist circles, the totality of devastation and trauma in the world can feel like an impossible barrier to impacting any kind of positive change. These narratives take colonization, capitalism, and systemic oppression out of the macro and into an engaged personal context, demonstrating change-making in individual lives and relationships. It is so vital to balance big picture political work with small-scale personal activism, or we risk losing the meaning behind our work.

My experience of writing these personal sex education zines has been empowering because I can be the subject and not the object of these stories. I have been able to write in a way that is cathartic and motivating, directly challenging the misinformation and societal pressures that made my coming of age so challenging. My own writing has always focused on issues of identity, and this project has given me the opportunity to channel my personal writing, creating meaningful work to share with others as well as processing through my own experiences.

Writing and publishing this allowed me to make my own connections to identity, self-expression, and relationships, without having to follow the expected scripts of what happens to those who deviate from the norm. Many use the act of writing for this kind of catharsis, to recover and release strong emotions. When I started to write about my experience of sex education, I was overwhelmed by how painful, scary, and hard my recollections were. In Acts of Narrative Resistance, Laura Beard quotes author/playwright Maria Campbell who has a beautiful explanation of this kind of catharsis in her book Halfbreed (1973): “When you are oppressed, and when you are trying to be born again, when you are trying to reclaim, you have to go through all of the pain. That’s the first thing that comes out, and we have to deal with that. That’s our first song” (p. 133 in Acts, 2009). My writing has made space to honor what I’ve overcome, the valuable things I have learned through growing, healing, and finding community, and the real effects of ongoing struggle.



There are some really cool storytelling projects happening online these days! Check out:


http://cowbird.com/ (love this one especially much!)




a little how-to

so! here is how you make a little one page zine (or, if you are downloading my zines, here is how you assemble them)


Image                    Image

1. Fold in half, hot dog style                        2. Fold in half again the other way

Image               Image

3. Fold in half again, same direction 4. Unfold and cut a slit lengthwise through middle two panels of center fold

Image                    Image

5 & 6. Fold in half along slit, and push pages together to create a cross.

Image             Image

7. Fold in cover pages                    8. This is how the general layout will look

Image          Image

9. Fill it up with stuff!                       10. Share it with your friends!

More Zines!

Yikes y’all. Sorry for the world’s longest absence. I’ve been finishing up with this project and the thesis paper I was writing. Totally done now!!!

So here are some more links to download more of my zines. These are the first three I ever made. Plz feel free to give me feedback! Just to refresh your memory, the point of these zines is to try and create relatable, non-authoritarian sex ed material for queer and trans youth. I don’t have super specific educational goals for the zines themselves (although obviously I am trying to get a point across). It’s more that overall, I hope my readers would feel like they are not alone, that their hopes and desires are valid, and that ANYONE CAN MAKE A ZINE!!!!




It ain’t real fancy! My main goal with this zine was to promote condom use without promoting only a particular kind of sex act//seeing condoms as “birth control”.  I also didn’t want to gender the use of condoms as explicitly male, with an understanding that condoms can be used by anyone with a penis and not just cis men. I would have liked to find more images of a diverse range of genders and people using condoms, because most images of people using condoms that I found were in a supes hetynormy context. When I started this project, I wanted to have a running segment called “celebrities: they’re just like us”. I ended up only doing it in this first zine, and it took a lot of fruitless searching to find a celebrity quote about condoms so i had to make up my own.


The Internet



I made this zine as a response to increased issues of cyber bullying, the overwhelming amount of sex-related misinformation, and the recent trend of teens receiving felony charges for having and distributing nude photographs of themselves and their peers. I didn’t want to be all “don’t ever sext everything is terrifying beware the internet”, so i tried to make this zine more upbeat and positive by including some safe and fun ways to approach cyber sex and sexting without sending nude photographs. This was challenging, because I wasn’t sure how graphic I could be and am not as familiar with how teens use sexting since this was not relevant when I was a teenager. I found some really good articles on “how to sext”. go on, google it why don’t ya.





i wanted this zine to be a simply introduction to gender stereotypes, the binary, the vast range of gender identities and presentations.


I tried to address the unfair gender stereotypes that I find prevalent in my upbringing and daily life, and the ways those stereotypes of gender intersect with race, class, ability, beauty standards, and desirability. I offer some personal narrative to this zine, but in retrospect I wish I had spoken more from my own experiences instead of using omniscient narration.

This is the back page of the zine–I can finally reveal who my terrible line drawings are of! Shout outs to a few of the beautiful people in my life who inspire me always: marcus, davend, katie, and becky–you all express yourself in ways that make me feel a little more brave.

Stay tuned for more zines, resources, reviews, and ramblings!! Thanks!

Download “Memory: A Love Story”

Here is the link to one of the zines I made!


Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 11.26.05 AM

This zine is about a lot of things, including family, memory, desire, and developing self-concept. I really wanted to approach the concept of desire as more than just sexual attraction–as something complex that underlies our basic interactions, the ways we relate to other people, etc. Includes some pretty cute kid pics of me!

Here is a tutorial of how to assemble a one-page zine: http://rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/ (THANK YOU ROOKIE!) You can use standard 8 1/2 by 11 paper for this, and if you don’t have an x-acto knife you can just use scissors.


I feel super excited about this blog–I hope you all wanna keep reading it! I’m finishing school right now, but this is my reward to myself– I get to blog about it!! I haven’t had any opportunities to gush about how passionate I am about this project… So look forward to more soon! Including an actual description of my project, all the zines I’ve made so far and background on the creative process for each, reviews of really rad zines, and more!

much love,


trans history thoughts

This is some writing I did for school last semester–kind of my own trans history. It’s a story I find myself re-telling a lot. There are these areas in my life where my gender feels both fake and a lie… I find myself trying to validate my transness, digging through stories and looking for those little indicators that somehow I was different. That I’ve always been this way.

I want to tell a story with non-linear chronology. Not just my personal story of gender, but the story of looking/asking/learning for community, role models, history, friendships, self-actualization.

The beginnings:

Gender begins the moment we are conceived—not physically, but literally, when our parents begin to wonder if their chromosomes might form a little sugar and spice or a puppy dog tail. Gender exists everywhere, and originates in our minds.

(include childhood pic)

Concepts of naming and claiming, the importance placed on giving names, what our parents almost named us, what we called ourselves, kids who are allowed to chose their own names.

My parents were going to name me Alyssa if I had dark hair and Aimee if it was light. But my black hair turned blonde-ish a few weeks after I was born. Did they feel like they had chosen wrong? Or what about all the names my dad liked, Tiffany, Stephanie, Ashley? Where did those names go? I always wondered what they would have named me if I was assigned male at birth.

Kids are always choosing names for themselves. What would happen if we indulged them in that more?

(I love stories of people like Peekaboo Street, the Olympic skier, who was allowed to name herself as a child. A friend was telling me of a family she knows where all the women are named Sarah at birth, and then allowed to choose whatever name they want to be called when they are four or five.)

What age do you start to worry you are bad at stuff? Maybe 7, 8?  This is probably around the time that I became aware that I was doing a bad job at passing, being very genderqueer but not a tomboy. I thought it seemed clear that I was a girl, but by the nature of being the youngest in a family of boys with a busy single mom I had the same haircuts and clothing that my older brothers had. I didn’t mind, and I don’t think my mom did either until more and more often people mistook me for a boy. I remember being really stressed out about. I tried very hard to look more visibly female, probably in about 4th or 5th grade, by growing out my hair and getting my ears pierced. I have a memory of leaving the mall with painful, tender ears and brushing past someone who said “excuse me, young man”. The thing is, I don’t remember that feeling good to me. I don’t remember thinking “that’s right, I’m really a boy”. Instead I just remember how upset it would make my mom.

Transgender History: A Love Story

So I’m making a zine about transgender history. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish in this one, so I’m going to make it double-sided.

I was inspired by Leslie Feinberg’s book Transgender Warriors. I wanted to use a similar style, sharing trans history through my own process of researching and discovery.

This zine will focus on

  • a few highlights of gender non-conformance/androgyny/transgender in the past
  • trans involvement in stonewall (Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, STAR)
  • positive images of trans* people in the media today (Hedwig, Athen’s Boys Choir, Laverne Cox, Leslie Feinberg)
  • my personal trans* heroes (Jen Dean, Venus De Mars, and Antonio)
  • transmisogyny
  • and include a little shoutout about CeCe

I really want to try and be aware of the kinds of bodies, genders, representations, assumptions I make when using images and stories of trans* people. I want these stories to really show a range of identities and expressions, ages, styles, communities, etc.


When I first started learning about transgender history, the only common stories I knew of trans* people were from pop culture and the media. The ways we see trans people portrayed is so limited. Pop culture is full of “hilarious” men in dresses (Mrs Doubtfire, Some Like It Hot) or criminal sexual deviants (the crying game, silence of the lambs).

But there is so much legacy of transgender people throughout history who were powerful, respected members of their communities, leaders, shamans, honored, revered.

And what about all the living, breathing, everyday people in the world who are loving, kind, creative, intelligent, beautiful people, who happen to be trans?

So in making this zine and looking for images, I tried to brainstorm some important historical moments (I was heavily influenced by Feinberg’s text, and so I mention a variety of mythical figures/gods/goddesses from Greece, Rome, Egypt, etc who are known for their androgyny, balancing the masculine and feminine, etc). Finding all of these images was not so big of a deal. It was SO MUCH HARDER to find images of incidentally transgender people, just looking happy and healthy and in their own contexts, not a pride parade or march. I ended up using really hilarious keywords in my google image search, like: happy transgender, trans people having fun, trans love, gender variant, transgender, androgyny, sacred androgyny, transgender anarchy…. i found some good images that I probably won’t use in the zine, and some other really ridiculous ones…

i like these:

3954502485_75f32e2998  il_570xN.451740677_dt25

i will probably not use this hippie shit:


i unfortunately ended up totally mutilating my copy of transgender warriors, and a few other books…because apparently i’m too lazy to scan pictures, i just want to cut them with scissors.

i also came across a few good articles, this one on understanding transmisogyny:


this awesome zine, out of the closets and into the libraries:

Click to access outoftheclostets.pdf

trans oral history project! didn’t even know about this:


really beautiful art/autoethnography project about queer Native American community:



art by: Grace Rosario Perkins


I thought of so many people I wanted to include in this zine… I still could down the line. I want to sort of bookmark them here: Justin Vivian Bond, Isis from ANTM, Zackary Drucker, Carmen Carrera, Lauren Cameron, Amos Mac, Kate Bornstein, DavEnd, Sasha Fleischman…more on this soon!


starting out





Photo on 11-25-13 at 12.57 PM #3

My name is James and this is my blog. I am using this as a tool for the series of sex ed zines I am making right now. My goal in this project is to create sex ed information that is relevant and accessible to queer and trans youth. This has been really fun so far! I plan on posting my personal writing, the resources I come across when researching for my zine content, and hopefully links to download and print the zines!

I’ll keep you posted!