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Outside the "Gender Binary"
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The news about South African runner Caster Semenya comes just as we sat down to talk about gender issues.  Here's a bit of the AP report:

SYDNEY — World 800-metre champion Caster Semenya of South Africa has male and female sexual organs, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday, posing an ethical and political quandary for world track and field's ruling body.  The Herald said extensive physical examinations of the 18-year-old runner ordered by the IAAF have shown she is technically a hermaphrodite.

It's a story that prompts most media into lurid description, tabloid questioning, and fear-based "conversation" about gender identity.  I hope I'm wrong about the tone of the coverage, and what it means for this important discussion.  Some people, like Peterson Toscano already understand how to make this a real "conversation."

Toscano is an actor, performance artist, writer and activist who is bridging divides between gay and straight, and gay and transgender communities 

As we joked on air today, any of the words "transgender" or "performance art" or "one-man theater piece" are enough to make most of white, straight, middle-class America go running in the other direction.  But his way of gently, firmly, engagingly describing his work easily cuts across gender, age, class and race.  

Toscano joined us for a second time on Where We Live to talk about his upcoming show "Tranfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible." (Tonight at Hartford's Charter Oak Cultural Center)  It examines the key role played by sexually "transgressing" characters in the bible - potentially fuel for fire from both sides of the religious divide.  He was joined by Scott Turner Schofield - whose "Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps" (right) comes to Real Art Ways on September 18th and 19th.  

The last time Peterson was on to talk about gender identity issues in 2007, the program won a national award from PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors, Inc.) the leading organization for public radio news.  He's pretty remarkable about breaking down barriers - and addressing awkward questions from talk show hosts.  

Speaking of RAW...

We're back at the Hartford space for art, cinema, performance and conversation on October 7 and November 18.  Our first show there is a live rumination on our home city, Hartford...where it's been, and where it's going.  I'd love your feedback.  What makes Hartford great?  What make Hartford...uh, not great?  Why do you choose to live here?  Why do you avoid it like the plague?  We'll have a pre-show reception and post-show conversation and get a chance to meet and chat.  I hope you can join us.  

Speaking of the Charter Oak Cultural Center...

One of the problems of a week filled with news and conversation is that we can't get to everything.  So, I wanted to use this space to draw attention to another performance tomorrow night (Sept. 12) at Charter Oak - the Connecticut Improvising Composers Project.  Touted as: "A gathering of Stephen Haynes, David Darling, Mario Pavone and Peter McEachern, four dynamic Connecticut improvising composers."  You can find out more about this unique collaboration between four of our state's best musicians on the blog of WWL friend Stephen Haynes.  

Driving the point home

The Courant's Rick Green has an excellent column about the problems of regulating older drivers on Connecticut's roads.  His blog also links back to our recent show on the subject.  

Jumping for Joy!

Finally, a shout-out to a new rock star of the canine world, Lucy Nalpathanchil's dog, Sidney.  As reported first by Spinner, Sidney is the cover dog for the new record by the band, Weezer (right).  The band found the photo by Lucy's husband Jason Neely in National Geographic's One Shot feature...and a star was born.  

Lucy tells us she was standing just off-camera, holding a pig ear...Sid's favorite.  Aside from the acrobatics provided by Sidney, you also get a glimpse inside their living room...including their hiding cat (see if you can find!).  Congrats, Sidney!