The Gender Blender: An Open Letter to Joss Whedon (and Anyone Else Who Cares About Being a Better Ally)

Dear Joss,

My name is Teresa. I’m a Latina, heterosexual, cis woman. I’m a writer, and when I think about writers whose careers I’d like to emulate, I often think about you. I’m a huge geek, and your shows and comics are among my favorite stories in the world. I wrote an essay in the book Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them called “Why Joss Is More Important Than His ‘Verse,” where I not only tell my geek “coming-out” story (coming out as a geek, I mean), but I assert that your importance as a storyteller has less to do with the actual stories and more to do with your activism as a person. I cite your Equality Now speech. I cite activism taken on by Browncoats all over the world who were inspired by you and your work to make the world a better place. I make the case that as good a writer as you are, you’re a better human being, and that’s the reason why your presence in Hollywood is important.

This is why I was so disappointed when I was alerted to this blog post, which talks about a sarcastic comment you made on Twitter in response to a fan question:

I get that you were making a joke. I get that you weren’t even thinking about transgender people when you made this off-the-cuff comment…

And that’s kind of the problem. That it didn’t even cross your mind. And it really should. Because if you consider yourself an “LGBT” ally, you have to remember that the “T” stands for something, and deserves as much respect and consideration and care as all those other letters.

But even that is OK. Listen, even the most well-intentioned people screw up from time to time, or something inconsiderate slips out of their mouth that may or may not hurt someone’s feelings. It happens. Lord knows it happens to me! My problem isn’t with the original tweet. My problem is with what came after.

After several tweets calling you to task for that comment, your response was this:

So…a bunch of trans* fans reach out to you, upset because they feel slighted by you, and your response is basically “You guys, I was clearly not being serious, and if you don’t believe that, you’re free to unfollow me.”

REALLY?! Yup, that’s what I had a problem with. Because you should know better. and as I tweeted in response to you:

I know that you have a track record of feminism. I know that you want to be an LGBT ally. And that’s so important, and when you do it, you do it well. The thing is, being an ally means being a continual work in progress. It’s not something that’s ever “finished.” You can’t just call yourself a feminist and be done. You can’t just call yourself an LGBT ally and be done. It means being open to criticism and learning from it. It means acknowledging how privileged you are every single day, and knowing that despite your best intentions, sometimes you’ll say the wrong thing.  It’s fucking work.

And when you say something insensitive, and a member of a marginalized minority says “Hey, what you said kinda insulted my entire group,” the only acceptable response is, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I won’t let it happen again.” OR, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize what I said was offensive. Please tell me why so that I understand and don’t do it again.” The correct answer is never “I can’t believe you didn’t get I was sarcastic.” Once you start defending your sarcasm when other people are telling you they’re legitimately offended, you’re not acting like an ally anymore.

And when you think about it, what are you actually defending when you get defensive about something like that? Free speech? Your right to be insulting without consequence? Is that a right you really want to fight for? (And for the record, we always have the right to be insulting. And others have the right to express their displeasure. It’s how that works.)

This isn’t about whether it was a joke or not, nor is this about you being a horrible person. This is about your response to criticism. This is about not resting on your laurels. This is about acknowledging that you make mistakes, but that you want very much to learn from them. It’s about remembering that if we genuinely believe that words and stories have power, that we should all wield that power a little more carefully – but especially those of us who wield words professionally. Because others are watching to see what we do.

As for me, it’s about not being passive about the content I enjoy. It’s about knowing that the pen really is mightier than the sword, and speaking up when the people wielding the pens release a little more hate into the world than they might have intended. There’s a big responsibility on both sides, and it’s about neither side shirking it.

It’s about changing the world. Seems right up your alley. 🙂

2013 Year In Review

It's been a great year!

It’s been a great year!

It’s that time again, kids! Time for my annual Year In Review post written for the three of you who care about reading a recap about my life. 🙂

Previous years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.

I have to say that, in spite of a couple of negative experiences, this was the best year ever, and that has just about everything to do with amazing people who have come into my life that have brought with them love, kindness, and opportunities that have made my life so much better. I am so grateful for 2013.

The best part of 2013.

The best part of 2013.


** Yes, the best part of 2013 was The Boy. We celebrated our first anniversary this month, and he was a part of most of my joyous, wonderful memories of this year, including my very first Valentine’s Day With a Date. He also comforted me through the difficult times, and introduced me, or strengthened my relationships with, amazing people that I now consider some of my best friends. He pretty much rules. 😉

** This was, on the whole, The Year of the Upgrade. There are things that I thought I was “losing” at the time, but now realize were being set aside for better things. I had to leave my apartment with Hollywood, but that made room for my happily moving in with The Boy. I pulled away from producing Retcon, but that made room in my life for Incredible Girl (and an awesome new friend in my producer, Aurora). Some relationships in my life ended, but that made room for not only new friends, but better relationships with people I’d initially thought would only be acquaintances. Life’s made of peaks and valleys, and you need one to get to the other. 2013 taught (and delivered) me that.

** After a four-year hiatus, I dipped my tootsies back into acting for a bit, doing background on Coffee Shop Squatters S1, and performing a small role in the short film, Watching, Waiting, which is now making the rounds at film festivals. It’s been fun, precisely because I haven’t been trying to make a career out of it. 🙂 2014 will see me acting a little more, as my producer on Incredible Girl thought it a good idea that I play one of the supporting roles that “sounds like [me].” Sure! Why not? I’ve missed this.

Lurve. 2013-style.

Lurve. 2013-style.

** I celebrated my 34th birthday with an amazing 4-day birthday weekend filled with friends, fun, and love. Probably the best weekend of the year. Granted, it caused me to get lazy about my discipline in several areas of my life…but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

** I became a mentor with the organization WriteGirl! While I haven’t been paired with a weekly mentee yet, I’ve already met so many wonderful girls at their monthly events, as well as several wonderful women writers that I’m enjoying getting to know. It’s a great organization, and if you’re looking to start your 2014 with volunteering or donating to a worthy cause, definitely check them out.

** I also celebrated my 2nd L.Aversary with some great friends by having a picnic and game day in NoHo park and getting drunk on boxed wine. 🙂

Hanging with the bride before her big day!

Hanging with the bride before her big day!

** Another highlight of 2013 was my trip East in October, when I visited both my old stomping grounds in NYC and the DC/MD/VA area (or The DMV) to visit The Boy’s family. It was the first time I’d brought The Boy home to meet my family and many of my friends, too, and he passed every test with flying colors. However, we weren’t just on the East Coast for those introductions. We were there because one of my best and oldest friends (I’ve known her since I was 5 going on 6 and she was 3 going on 4!) Joanna was getting married! She was my Single Buddy for so long that we were marveling at the fact that I was now attending her wedding with my boyfriend. 🙂 Well what do you know? Pigs do fly! Another wedding of note: that of my friends, Diana and Sebastien. I couldn’t go to the wedding itself, but I did go to the wedding brunch the next day, which was a lot of fun! I also got to meet Liz and Alex’s new baby, who is just as cute as can be! The entire trip was fun, and it was great seeing everyone – but I also learned two very important things: 1) 3 weeks is way too long to be in one place on vacation unless you have your own sleeping accommodations, and 2) I’m too damn old to be sleeping on a Flip-and-Fuck futon. Real beds or couches only from now on. My hip and lower back thank you.

** 2013 also saw several of my friends from the East Coast visiting me out West! Deb visited in January, Adam in February, Lindsay in April, and Robin in July. I love having guests in town!

Judi, Matt, Robin, Marissa, Me, and The Boy at Casa Vega during Robin's visit. If you look closely, you'll see that Robin features a coming attraction for 2014 in her belly. :)

Judi, Matt, Robin, Marissa, Me, and The Boy at Casa Vega during Robin’s visit. If you look closely, you’ll see that Robin features a coming attraction for 2014 in her belly. 🙂


** The Year of the Upgrade affected my writing life, too. In 2013, I started feeling a bit “geeked out,” and after over 6 years of writing about geeky pop culture, I needed to move on. So, I no longer write for GirlGamer, Al Dia, or PopMatters…but that opened the door to my relationship with Ms. In the Biz, where I’m still a guest contributor (though not contributing regularly anymore), as well as freed me up to pursue the writing I actually want to be doing, rather than staying stuck in the niche I’d created for myself. So, you see? It all works out.

** The end of 2013 also gave me my biggest job opportunity yet. I don’t want to say too much about it yet, because I’ll be signing an official assignment agreement after the 1st of the month…but I got my first assignment from a national magazine! 🙂 Who says print is dead? 😉

Coming soon! (And by "soon" I mean whenever we finish our second draft, and an agent likes it enough to sell to someone. Details.

Coming soon! (And by “soon” I mean whenever we finish our second draft, and an agent likes it enough to sell to someone. Details.)

** One of the biggest things that happened in my writing life in 2013 was that my friend Adam and I formally decided to be a writing team! 🙂 I don’t think it’s something either of us ever thought would happen, but after having such a wonderful time completing our first hour-long spec pilot, we both think that this partnership is really worth holding onto. I’m so proud of our show, and am looking forward to all of the new things we’re going to create together (there are already a couple in discussion)! 2014 will likely find us writing more scripts and seeking out representation as a team. And he and his girlfriend are going to move out to L.A. whether they like it or not! 😉


Just because I was “geeked out” writing-wise doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing geeky things! 2013 found me attending Wondercon 2013 in Anaheim, seeing Neil Gaiman read/speak at an LA Talks event in Glendale, going to see Catching Fire, and attending a Cornetto Trilogy Screening! But of course, the BIG thing this year was the 50th Anniversary special of Doctor Who, which I saw at a simulcast screening (and loved!), and the departure of Matt Smith from the show (which I didn’t love – he deserved better. Still, THANK YOU, Matt. You are “My” Doctor.). I’ve been enjoying finding the fun in geeky things again, after they became “work” for a couple of years. I’m really much happier being a fan than being invested in the reporting of geek culture, thankyouverymuch. Though, one day I hope to create something wonderful and geeky that OTHER geek writers will write about!

Well, that’s all I’ve got to say about 2013. It was a great year for me, despite some severe lows thrown in to balance things out, and I’m very excited about what 2014 has in store! After I post this, The Boy and I are going to cozy up and watch a movie before ushering in the New Year in a low-key fashion with champagne and cuddles.

I wish you all you want and need in the coming year, and I hope your 2014 is filled with love, laughter, and adventure!


Moffat’s Women at GeekGirlCon (Or, My Super-Successful Panel Of Which You Should Be Terribly Jealous)

Me and the standing room only crowd that came out to see my Moffat’s Women panel at GeekGirlCon 2012! What an awesome, attentive, intelligent group! Photo by Miley Yamamoto.

Driving to and from Seattle for GeekGirlCon 2012 was tumultuous to say the least. So tumultuous, in fact, that I don’t even want to re-live it by writing about it. Needless to say, Miley (my friend, panelist, and exec producer for RETCON) and I got from L.A. to Seattle and back in one piece. While in Seattle, Miley and I stayed with my friend LiAnn, who generously let us crash at her place for the weekend. On the way up, we had a nice, brief stay with some of Miley’s friends in San Jose, too. And while in town, we hung out with Miley’s fabulous friend, Pam, and I made a really cool new friend in Michelle. So, despite the hardship, we were constantly surrounded by good people (not to mention those that helped us through our ordeals, including a kind Toll Booth Angel).

Best of all, though, was that the reason for our going to the con in the first place, the panel I was moderating – Moffat’s Women: Companions, Travelers, Gender Roles and TARDISES in Doctor Who – went amazingly well! First, the room was packed, standing-room only even, which stunned me, because we were the first panel of the day. I figured people would either be too tired to make it in the morning, or be too busy getting badges at registration. Neither of those things proved to be true, and I happily walked into a crowded room.

I was also so lucky to have the best panelists. Miley, Natalie Reed, and Alan Kistler are some of the nicest, funniest, and most knowledgeable people I could’ve ever asked to have on this panel. Also wonderful was that they complimented each other so well personality-wise. Alan and Miley (actors both, as well as writers and huge Doctor Who nerds) did an awesome job of keeping the crowd warmed up before the panel, and Natalie chimed in with a quip or a fun anecdote when needed, a nice, reserved balance to their boisterousness. They played off each other both before the panel and during, so that even when they disagreed on certain points, they always treated each other with respect, let each other speak, followed my lead when needed, and were articulate and thoughtful when expressing their opinions.

We discussed their general impressions of the way Moffat writes women and writes about gender (we all have trouble with something he does, though what those things are and the degree to which we are bothered varied from person to person), whether there ever would’ve been a panel called “RTD’s Women” (probably not, as he tended to include female and gay/lesbian characters in a more organic way than Moffat does), and the fact that the strongest female characters Moffat has written have been during RTD’s tenure as showrunner. We discussed our favorite Moffat females (Sally Sparrow, Madame de Pompadour, Molly Hooper – not a Who lady, of course, but Natalie cited her as a Moffat woman done well), our least favorite (Lorna Bucket, Madame Vastra and Jenny), and the ones we couldn’t quite pin down either way (oh Amy and River). We talked about Sexy the TARDIS and that, while she was a lovely character, it was sad that something like the TARDIS had to be gendered at all, and doubted that the character would’ve been received in the same way had the Spirit of the TARDIS inhabited a male body instead. We touched upon our love of Rory and how he showcases the best of masculinity, but we also discussed the fact that the very notion that we see things in a “masculine/feminine” binary at all in a universe that purports to be beyond that is in itself problematic. Natalie expressed something that I think we all feel is important and for which the room agreed the viewing public is ready. It’s time for Doctor Who to put its money where its mouth is. Rather than continuing to tell us what a gender-diverse universe The Doctor inhabits, it needs to really start showing us. Show us characters on a spectrum, characters that don’t sit comfortably in any one box. We. Are. Ready.

All in all, this was my best panel experience yet, and I feel so lucky to have been blessed with such a great group. Even though we didn’t have time for Q&A with the audience, they were completely attentive, and told us afterwards that they got a lot out of our conversation. Afterwards, several attendees with whom I struck up casual conversations throughout the con would say things like “There was this Doctor Who panel in the morning that I wanted to get into, because it sounded really interesting, but I couldn’t get in, because it was full” not realizing it was my panel. 🙂 I saw tweets citing the panel as many people’s favorite on the Saturday of the con. I was thrilled. And proud.

Huge thanks to Jennifer K. Stuller, GeekGirlCon’s illustrious Programming Director, for allowing me to be a part of GGC this year. And, of course, an ENORMOUS thank you to my wonderful panelists: Natalie Reed, Miley Yamamoto, and Alan Kistler. You were great!

And if any of you out there happened to have recorded it, hit me up at Twitter or my FB page, as I’d love to link to it from here! Thanks! And keep your eyes out for my full GeekGirlCon write-up, which should be going up at very soon.

Tor Post: “Surprise Joss Whedon, Pillow Fight Tricia Helfer, and More in Today’s Premiere of Husbands Season 2”

Hey there, kids! Brad Bell and Jane Espenson’s wonderful web series, Husbands, saw its Season 2 premiere today! Have you seen it yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Check it out at!

If you’d rather hear what I thought about it first, you should check out my review over at!


It seems that, in season two, Team Husbands has embraced the fact that a) Brad Bell is a huge nerd, b) Jane Espenson is a huge nerd, and c) a huge portion of their fan base is a bunch of huge nerds. Geek bait abounds in this first episode, from the cameos to the incorporation of internet life to mentions of Star Wars. And that’s a good thing. The people that make web shows go viral are generally the same people who go to comic cons and try to make web shows of their own. But knowing their audience doesn’t just benefit the show from a marketing standpoint, it pays off massively in the writing of the second season, making the dialogue even snappier (if that’s at all possible) by using a shorthand that’s more easily understood by more people who actually watch the show. Whereas the Cheeks of season one seemed to be speaking in a way geared more toward readers of In Touch, this season balances Cheeks’ high-profile celebutante existence with a tech-savvy, nerdy sensibility that is both genuine and resonates with their audience. Bell and Espenson are an amazing team, and their work together has gelled even better for season two.

To read the full review, or to leave a comment at the post, CLICK HERE!

Tor Post: “Buffy Season 9: Dark Horse Lets Buffy Grow Up”

Check out my latest over at today! I take on the Buffy Season 9 (and 8) comics and let you know why they’re they’re the best thing you might not be reading. If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon or the Buffyverse, go on and give it a read, will you? 🙂


I’m 32 going on 33. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer film (starring Kristy Swanson as the titular heroine, and the dreamy Luke Perry, riding high on his Dylan McKay fame) came out when I was thirteen; when High School was still new and exciting, and a sixteen-year-old like Buffy Summers seemed so worldly. I saw the film in the theater, and thought it so awesome that I immediately got posters and bought the tie-in novelization. By contrast, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show (starring Sarah Michelle Gellar) came out when I started college. Suddenly, Buffy was two years younger than me, and watching her high school antics seemed more nostalgic than current. Over time, I fell in love with the show, mostly because of Joss Whedon’s writing and that of his brilliant team, but I didn’t watch at first, because the whole thing seemed a bit silly. What had once made sense to me as a high schooler suddenly felt cheesy.

Which is why I’ve been such a huge fan of the continuation of the Buffyverse in Dark Horse Comics. They allow Buffy Summers to grow up.

To read the full article, or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE!

ChinaShop Post: Morgan Spurlock Takes On Comic Con

He’s taken on fast food, consumerism and religion, and Osama Bin Laden. Now, he’s taking on…geeks. Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, was recently released on Video On Demand, and will be rolling out in theaters in the weeks to come. And guess what? I went to a screening! 🙂


Geeks tend to think that everyone knows the things they know, using the word “everyone” in a manner I lovingly refer to as Geek Hipster to imply that only someone completely out of the loop wouldn’t know about the thing to which they are referring, forgetting that the things they love, while much more popular now, are still really niche in the grand scheme of things. One of these geeks might wonder why we’d need a documentary about San Diego Comic Con. After all, everyone knows about Comic-Con.

Don’t they?

While Comic-Con has become immensely popular in the past few years, going from comic book convention to the place where Hollywood hawks their wares, Average Person On The Street probably doesn’t know much about it. Sure, they might have heard the term “comic-con” in passing, but as to what it is, who it’s for, and what happens there, it’s still very insidery. As for the geeks themselves, they generally go there with their own focus, and the event is so large, that one can experience only one aspect of it and still know nothing about what happens everywhere else.

In his documentary, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, director Morgan Spurlock attempts to cater to both these groups.

For the rest of the review, to vote (click on the teacups at the bottom!), or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE!