Del Tashlin is presenting Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective. Check out Del’s bio here.
How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
Honestly, part of my personal spiritual journey has been accepting the role of harbinger of change. It happens when I meet people whose lives are stuck in some way and need a nudge in order to make a difficult choice or decision in order to be happier, healthier, and more in tune with themselves and whatever their Purpose may be. Sometimes it just happens because I can provide honest answers to requests for advice that others may dance around or avoid because they’re afraid of upturning the apple cart. Sometimes it’s because I have a propensity of thinking outside the box, and come up with options they’ve never considered. And sometimes, it’s just by being my authentic self and showing by example that you can dictate your life on your own terms, even when it takes heartrending, difficult, and tumultuous decisions to get there.
On a community level, I’m always looking forward, thinking about the future. I, like most people, want to leave some sort of indelible mark on the demographics and communities I have touched; in general, I try to leave things better than when I found them, and that includes organizations I join, tribes who take me in, and demographics that matter to me. I work to make sure that new blood is being infused in a way that makes it easy and comfortable for them to join mid-stream, rather than having to forge their own tributary in order to find these subcultures and breath new life and new ideas into them. I look at demographics as a constantly changing, growing, mutating groups of people and try to create ways, or inspire others to create ways, to make sure that we never let stasis and entropy kill us. Few communities imagine their death as a small collection of the eldest members sitting on rocking chairs talking about the good old days – they want to know that others will reap the same (or better) benefits that they did when they found them (or were found by them!).
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
I’ve had several people, known and unknown, who have inspired me to take a good look at my life and take leaps that I lived in fear of. I blame Raven Kaldera for a great deal of the present incarnation of who I am; he remains a close friend and confidante. There are also authors, artists, and musicians that have given me the ability to envision life as more than just a one-way rail from birth to death; Neil Gaiman, Robert Anton Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bitch and Animal, Marilyn Manson, Jackson Pollack, and John Cameron Mitchell are some of my guides and guardians whether they know it or not.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
In America, we’re perched on this precipice where some people have accepted the fact that sexualities of all stripes, colors, shapes and sizes exist, whereas others are desperately clinging to an older model where it is a traditional model to be followed and never discussed or explored. It’s like we’re on this big teeter totter and you never know who’s going to be swept up into the spotlight or buried into the dirt from one moment to the next. We need to find a happy place where those who feel that their sexuality is bound up in their identity can celebrate it in whatever form that takes, but those who feel sexuality is more of a function or means to an end are *also* comfortable in making that decision and feel as respected and included in things. Not everyone has to waltz down Main Street wearing who they fuck or fancy on their tee shirts; but neither does everyone have to stay silent and never discuss it. I really hope we can, as a nation, find a place where it really *is* a personal preference, rather than a political one, but we’re definitely not there yet. There are many who choose to live a public sexual life in one way or another, who would rather not do so, but choose it because if they don’t, they’ll never receive the rights and recognitions (and perhaps normalizations) that they deserve.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
I hate to admit it, because the books are such literary crap, but I really believe that the 50 Shades phenomenon has helped paint BDSM as something that it’s okay to get turned on by, even if you never actually buy a flogger or go to a munch. And even though I disagree with him more than I agree with him, I do believe Chaz Bono getting more national recognition not only as a trans* man, but one for whom transition was really no big flashy deal and who has a mother who supports and loves him unconditionally, has brought much more recognition to gender identity in many variations to places where it had never been discussed or explored before (mostly, outside of urban centers). Finally, I think the movement for governments to include a third-gender option on official papers (like driver’s licenses and passports) is a glorious change that I hope catches fire and becomes an accepted practice internationally. (Currently, the “X” gender marker is being considered or has been adopted in Australia, New Zealand, India, and the UK)
Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Sex and Sexuality from a Trans Perspective, to CatalystCon East?
I feel like, as sexuality explorers and educators, we’ve all heard some version of “Gender Identity 101”; we’ve got the terms, the odd pronouns, the need for gender neutral bathrooms at events. But rarely do we delve any deeper, look at the real challenges posed by more and more people rejecting the gender binary. If we teach a class about scrotal inflation, how do we do so in such a way where it doesn’t matter what gender the person owning the scrotum is, or whether or not the scrotum was factory installed or an after market addition? When do we decide that a meeting, organization, class, or ritual needs to be a safe space for “women”, and how do we define what a “woman” is, or do we decide to delve deeper and decide that it’s really for people who experience sexism, or who have experienced menstruation, or who were socialized as girls, or who desire to experience pregnancy, or, or, or…
Gender has been a neat little way to divide people into groups who have had similar experiences, and as transgressively gendered people become more active and accepted in sexual spaces, we need to start dissecting the real things people share in common when they come to these events/places/organizations, and speaking to *that*, rather than just shorthanding it by what your genitals look like, or what kind of clothing you choose to wear, or what letter the government has on your drivers license? (Which, if things progress the way they are “down under”, may include X as well as M/F…what will *that* mean for parties that look to your license as a way to gender you?)
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
This is hard, because I tend to be a pretty open book. I guess in this context, something that few people know about me is that I am an award-winning Improvisational actor (yes, like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and went on tour with some fairly well-known musicals when I was in my early 20s. And at the same time, when I was home from tour, I worked as a professional submissive/masochist in a very active (but now defunct) pro-House in NYC.
Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.