Gut feelings: gluten sensitivity is complicated

This morning Business Insider ran a short video: “Gluten Sensitivity Proven False,” which makes a few good points and some dubious ones. First off, a more accurate title for the video would be: “One Study Shows Gluten Not a Factor in IBS Symptoms,” but that’s got a lot less drama to it. (Here’s the video if you’re curious.)

Basically, according to the video only 1% of Americans have Celiac Disease but about 30% report wanting to eat less gluten. Is there such a thing as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” and how many of that 30% might have it? The bottom line in the video is there isn’t such a thing. The actual title of the video on the page is “The Science is in — Why Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Fake.” I get cranky when people cite “Science” when they really mean one study or a small group of studies and then use emotionally loaded words like “fake.”

My bottom line is this: self-care trumps all. If you feel better eating gluten-free or grain free or only foods that don’t begin with the letter “g,” then that’s what you should eat. Everyone is an individual. Just like there aren’t two one-size-fits-all genders, there aren’t one or two diets for all humanity. Digestion is extremely complicated (at least from the western medicine viewpoint). What works for you doesn’t necessarily work for someone else so if you want to take good care of the people in your life, listen to them and support them if they’re trying different dietary options to be healthier.

Now if you’re curious to see me deconstruct the study and talk about some interesting trends in health and eating, read on:READ MORE

Solving Gender Neutrality (at least at WisCon)

Being on the “Solving Gender Neutrality” panel at WisCon over Memorial Day weekend got me thinking about gender more deeply than usual the past few weeks and two things occurred to me:

1. I want to alter my language more because “dude” just isn’t gender neutral like I want it to be.

2. Non-binary femme should be a thing.

The first is pretty straightforward and I’m cheerfully accepting better synonyms for “dude,” which I generally use to mean: person I’m fond of in a co-player sense. Coming from a gaming context, I use it for both men and women, but then I realized that if you don’t know that and you randomly hear me use it, it sounds just a gendered as people who think there’s such a thing as using male pronouns as a universal. So far my favorite suggestion for a replacement has been, “Peep!” We’ll see if I can rock that.READ MORE

You wrote WHAT? Sex scenes in GLBTQ YA Literature

The headline above was the title of the panel I had the pleasure of moderating at the Loft Literary Center’s Children’s & YA writing conference last weekend (April 25-27). The other panel members were: Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Molly Beth Griffin, Dawn Klehr, Juliann Rich and Elizabeth Wheeler. Between the six of us, we read scenes about sex, sexual identity, and gender identity and covered a pretty broad spectrum of  GLBT (though we may have been a little short on the Q).

Below are the stats that I cited at the start of the panel, plus some bonus stats:

Teens Kissing

From the Teen Lit Lab studies — 250 teens surveyed n 2009 (read the whole Sex in Young Adult Literature paper here):

  • 13.4% of girls said that the general level of sexual content in teen novels underestimates their level of sexual activity
  • 32% of male respondents suggested that sex in YA Lit was most often tamer than what they personally experience
  • 46% say that, in general, YA books overestimate the level of sexual activity they engage in

When teens were asked to rank (in order of importance) the reasons they read YA fiction with explicit sexual content:

  • ‘‘To be entertained’’ was the number one reason across all age groups (14-18)
  • Exploring situations they’ve not yet encountered was most often listed as the second most important reason
  • 20-25% of all teens responded that they read YA literature with sexual content to ‘‘get frank information about topics they might feel uncomfortable asking a friend or adult about.’’
  • Teens were similarly unanimous in selecting the least important reason——‘‘to become sexually aroused’’

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Emily is going to college!

Being Emily has been picked as part of the curriculum for a Spring 2014 Intro to LGBTQ Studies course taught by Dr. Lisa Hager at the University of Wisconsin – Waukesha. Other books in the curriculum include:

Michelle A. Gibson, Jonathan Alexander, and Deborah T. Meem’s Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies
Kate Bornstein’s My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity
David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy
Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

I can’t adequately say how excited I am that Emily gets a spot next to Audre Lorde and Kate Bornstein! Kate is a huge influence on me and any time she and the world of Emily intersect, it’s wonderful (see below).  I’m also delighted that Being Emily is part of the course called “Queering Digital Spaces,” as you know I’m a huge fan of digital spaces and what they make possible for gender expression.

One of my favorite emails even contained this pic of Kate wearing the Being Emily t-shirt.

One of my favorite emails even contained this pic of Kate wearing the Being Emily t-shirt. Photo credit: Barbara Carrella.

 

 

 

I do have the best job in the world

Wednesday afternoon I got to visit the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Valley View Middle School in Bloomington and read a bit from Being Emily and from the sequel that will be out next year. This is my second favorite aspect of being an author: talking to people about the book, the process, the ideas in the book, and in this case also video games. (My first favorite aspect of being an author, you might be able to guess, is writing books.)

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Book Festivals!

I like to think that fall is book season (along with summer and winter and maybe spring). The air is crisp, it’s a good time to curl up with a novel or, if you’re feeling more social, to head out in search of your favorite novelists.

I’ll be at two book festival in the near future:

Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, Sat. & Sun. Sept 21-22. I’m on the panel ”OUTspoken & OUTfront: LGBTQ Writers Moving Beyond Binaries.” (At 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in N129.)

Twin Cities Book Festival, Sat. Oct. 12. I was on a panel last year and had a great time. Not sure if I’m doing anything official this year, but I’m definitely going to hang out.

Book festivals are great because they’re about books (I know, right?) and this tends to attract other book-lovers, which makes for a really great group of people to hang out with while to listen to authors say smart and/or funny things and get to shop for books. If you’re around for either book festival, stop by and say hi!

Apocalypse as a metaphor for compassion

This morning I woke up cranky and started thinking about apocalyptic stories, particularly the one in Mass Effect 3, and wondering if there’s a way in which they allow us to deal with our own sadness for the suffering we can’t fix in the world, and therefore open a path for us to become more compassionate.

The game starts with Earth under attack from an alien machine race known as the Reapers, who have come to wipe out all sentient, organic life in the galaxy. Massive robots rain down from the sky. Billions are killed.

In the midst of my bad mood, that felt comforting. I thought of Commander Shepard in the opening sequence standing in the open door of the Normandy and watching a small fraction of the evacuation, only to see the evacuation shuttles shot down a moment later. She must turn away from the destruction and go look for help for Earth.

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