Giving Thanks

Here is the day of giving thanks, and I know so many of you are exhausted or disgusted or both, but I feel so profoundly appreciative despite my sadness and frustration and honestly, my outright expectation of gloom, that I needed to note the things in the world that don’t suck.

First, to my mom and grandma who cooked and cleaned and managed the shit out of Thanksgiving Day for my giant family, extended family, invited and loved guests, and anyone who dined at our table. I didn’t know then how much you gave or how much it was worth, and I’m profoundly indebted to your graciousness and service. So many Thanksgivings, so many complicated memories, and they were all inspired and built on the work you did. I can’t even comprehend your beauty or your motivation.

To my queer community, who know firsthand what brutal times we’re living in, and who go on, every goddamn day, to bring peace and light and less shame to all of the souls in this world: thank you for your leadership, your guidance, and your friendship.

My friends of color: you bring all of the things all of the time and I don’t really understand how or why, but you do, and you are life. Thank you.

To my fellow politicos, who run for office or who get out the vote or who do whatever you think is right for our democracy (whatever of it still exists), thank you for believing in a system that so often doesn’t seem up to your faith in it.

My wife, of course, because she is magical and kind of like a unicorn except when she’s a beautiful, tired, exhausted draft horse who just keeps on keeping on and brings joy to everyone who sees her and knows her.

To my fellow artists who seek truth and beauty and honesty and decadence and all the other things that are good in this world — especially those things that aren’t recognized as good at all.

To my students, present and past and future: thank you for worrying about me. When nothing else seems real, your respect for me and what I do absolutely does.

Thank you to the trans community for never, ever pretending not to be broken. You have no idea what you’ve meant to me. With every moment of clarity, of loneliness, of euphoria and sadness, you bring something incredible to the world, to my world. Thank you for trusting me.

Right now I am thankful for anyone who understands that kindness is power, that truth is difficult, that being who you are and what you are is both the most complicated and liberating thing in the world.

Do the good thing, do the kind thing, do the just thing. And every day give thanks that you can.

Love to you all.

27 Trans Deaths in the US in 2017 #saytheirnames #tdor

I’ve been seeing a lot of different numbers for this year’s death roll for TDOR, most of them ending with 24. The actual number is 28.

There are 27 here on this list.

One of the people who seems to be consistently left off most lists  is a trans person named Phoenix (aka Pepper) who was killed while in prison in OH.

Here’s the complete list:

  1. India Monroe, 29, was murdered on Dec. 21, 2016 in Newport News, Virginia
  2. Mesha Caldwell, 41, Canton, Mississippi
  3. Sean Ryan Hake, 23, Sharon, Pennsylvania
  4. Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  5. JoJo Striker, 23, Toledo, Ohio
  6. Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, Chicago
  7. Chyna Gibson, also known as Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, New Orleans
  8. Ciara McElveen, 26, New Orleans
  9. Jaquarrius Holland, 18, Monroe, Louisiana
  10. Alphonza Watson, 38, Baltimore, Maryland
  11. Chay Reed, 28, Miami
  12. Kenneth Bostick, 59, Manhattan
  13. Sherrell Faulkner, 46, Charlotte, North Carolina
  14. Kenne McFadden, 27,  San Antonio
  15. Kendra Marie Adams, 28, Ithaca, NY
  16. Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17, Athens, Georgia
  17. Ebony Morgan, 28, Lynchburg, Virginia
  18. Tee Tee Dangerfield, 32, Atlanta, Georgia
  19. Gwynevere River Song, 26, Waxahachie, Texas
  20. Kiwi Herring, 30, was killed during an altercation with police on August 22
  21. Pepper K. Aka Phoenix, 33, Columbus, Ohio
  22. Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28, was fatally stabbed by his partner on September 5
  23. Derricka Banner, 26, Charlotte, North Carolina
  24. Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police on September 16
  25. Ally Steinfeld, 17, was stabbed to death in Missouri in early September
  26. Stephanie Montez, 47, Robstown, Texas
  27. Candace Towns, 30, Macon, Georgia

Say their names.

Guest Author: Jolie Laide on TDOR

This is a guest post by my friend Jolie Laide, who blogs at Dances With Gender.

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance — an occasion that honestly I have very mixed feelings about.

Not that we shouldn’t remember our dead. On the contrary. At least 23 transgender/non-binary people have been killed so far this year in the U.S. As usual, almost all of them were trans women, the vast majority were WOC (mostly black trans woman), a number of them were street sex workers. I point out the latter not to denigrate sex work, rather that they were so marginalized by society that the only way for them to survive was to engage in a highly risky profession.

A partial list of our dead from around the world is on the TDOR website. Many of them were killed with extreme brutality — what criminologists refer to as “overkill,” which is an indicator of extreme rage and hatred toward the victim.

There were undoubtedly more. Usually they were people who couldn’t afford to change their name and gender on their legal ID — or lived in states where social conservatives intentionally passed laws to make it difficult/impossible to do — and consequently when their bodies are found, they usually suffer the final indignity of being misnamed and misgendered by the police and the media. It’s only through people who knew them that we learn who they really were.

They deserve one final recognition as their proper selves.

#SayTheirNames
Mesha Caldwell, 41
Sean Hake, 23
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28
JoJo Striker, 23
Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24
Chyna Gibson, 31
Ciara McElveen, 26
Jaquarrius Holland, 18
Alphonza Watson, 38
Chay Reed, 28
Kenneth Bostick, 59
Sherrell Faulkner, 46
Kenne McFadden, 27
Kendra Marie Adams, 28
Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17
Ebony Morgan, 28
TeeTee Dangerfield, 32
Gwynevere River Song, 26
Kiwi Herring, 30
Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28
Derricka Banner, 26
Scout Schultz, 21
Ally Steinfeld, 17
Stephanie Montez, 47
Candace Towns, 30

OTOH, for years TDOR was the only time trans people were publicly recognized. If you were gay or lesbian, you had Gay Pride — an event, even if less and less political over the years, still has an attitude of celebration and defiance. As gay writer Joe Jervis summed it up in his must-read essay about the value of Pride: “They wish we were invisible. We’re not. Let’s dance.”

For us, not so much. Pre-Laverne Cox, pre-Janet Mock, pre-Caitlyn Jenner, the only public occasion for trans people was one marking our persecution and deaths. Fortunately, that’s changing with the  Transgender Day of Visibility, on March 31, which is intended to celebrate living members of the transgender community, has been gaining traction, as has Trans Awareness Week, which is the week directly preceding TDOR.

As Daye Pope eloquently said:

“Transgender people are real, and vibrant, and powerful, and beautiful, and resilient, and enough. Despite every obstacle stacked against us we rewrite the rules, beat the odds, defy expectations. I believe with all my heart that we have a bright future, because we will build it together.”

So today mourn our dead, tomorrow fight like hell for the living. In March, celebrate our fabulous selves.

They wish we were invisible. We’re not. Let’s dance.

“These stories are true.”

I’ve been thinking all day about Louis CK’s statement not just because I like him but because he admitted that he thought asking first made it okay.

“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true.”

Because that is, effectively, what we teach men (& everyone else) about consent, isn’t it? Silence isn’t consent, drunk isn’t consent, but someone saying “yes, that’s okay” is sufficient.

He continued by explaining he did learn better (after it was too late).

But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”

And now we’re getting somewhere, to something like Consent 2.0, when people with power – due to age, sex, popularity, or any other kind of privilege, real or metaphorical – actually think about whether or not the person they’re asking has a real, actual choice to say no.

If they don’t, it isn’t consent, and it’s not just a ‘predicament’, either. It’s sexual harassment or assault or both.

I predict there will be numerous students who come out about their former professors, all sorts of business folks who will come out about executives, and plenty of other people in situations who had to say yes when they didn’t want to who will now start talking about how real and how frequent this bullshit is.

Keep them coming, folks. This is disgusting behavior. These stories are true.

Election 2017: #theresistanceistrans

We are up to 7 Transgender Candidates Elected!

  1. Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Her adversary consistently misgendered her, but when asked how she felt about Bob, she said, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
  2. Andrea Jenkins of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black woman to be elected to public office.
  3. Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black man elected to a city council.
  4. Lisa Middleton was elected to the City Council in Palm Springs, California.
  5. Tyler Titus was elected to the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania.
  6. Gerri Cannon won a School Board seat in Somersworth, New Hampshire. She plans to run for a state rep seat.
  7. Stephe Koontz won a seat on Doraville, Georgia City Council – BY 6 VOTES.

BY 6 VOTES!! So please, never think yours doesn’t count, especially in local elections.

State of the Trans by NCTE

Flake’s Exit Speech

Just read it. It’s going to go down in history as an important speech (and with any luck, a pivotal moment in US politics).

**

At a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord than by our own values and principles, let me note an obvious point: that these offices that we hold are not ours indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office, and there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.

It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order, that phrase being the new normal. That we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set at the top. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, and the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve.

Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength, because our strength comes from our values. It, instead, projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness.

It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal.

With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, civility and stability right behind it.

We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.

Here today, I stand to say that we would be better served, we would better serve the country by better fulfilling our obligations under the Constitution by adhering to our Article 1 old normal, Mr. Madison’s doctrine of separation of powers. This genius innovation, which assured Madison’s status as a true visionary, and which Madison argued in Federalist 51, held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract with each other, if necessary. Ambition counteracts ambition, he wrote. But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency?

Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such display from dominant Democrats? Of course we wouldn’t, and we would be wrong if we did.

When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do, because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam, when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of our institutions and our liberty, we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.

Now, I’m aware that more politically savvy people than I will caution against such talk. I’m aware that there’s a segment of my party that believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

If I have been critical, it is not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe it is my obligation to do so, and as a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

A president, a Republican president named Roosevelt, had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office. “The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed to exactly the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.”

President Roosevelt continued, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by a president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves. And as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in this regard. I am holier than none. But too often we rush to salvage principle, not to salvage principle, but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing until the accommodation itself becomes our principle. In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice any principle. I am afraid that this is where we now find ourselves.

When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes to look for someone to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often, a good place to start in assigning blame is to look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops.

Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly or debased appetites in us. Leadership lives by the American creed: E pluribus unum. From many, one. American leadership looks to the world and, just as Lincoln did, sees the family of man.

Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have been at our most principled, and when we do well, the rest of the world does well. These articles of civic faith have been critical to the American identity for as long as we have been alive.

They are our birthright and our obligation. We must guard them jealously and pass them on for as long as the calendar has days. To betray them or to be unserious in their defense is a betrayal of the fundamental obligations of American leadership, and to behave as if they don’t matter is simply not who we are.

Now the efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question. When the United States emerged from World War II, we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping those countries who had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses.

Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years. Now it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.

The implications of this abandonment are profound, and the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum, and our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this?

I have children and grandchildren to answer to. And so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit or silent. I’ve decided that I would be better represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself of the political consideration that consumed far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles. To that end, I’m announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things. It’s also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.

To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess that we’ve created are justified, but anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal by mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle — the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful and backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because we have a healthy government, we must also have healthy and functioning parties.

We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man and always look for the good. Until that day comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does. I plan to spend the remaining 14 months of my Senate term doing just that.

Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women. None of us here is indispensable, nor were even the great figures of history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape the country that we’ve inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values.

I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today. I will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healthy enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time and are now no less in ours: “We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of our affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely as they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

**

That line, “Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women” is chilling.

All the Genders #metoo

Feminist friends, sexual assault and harassment is not just a women’s issue. People of all genders are assaulted, harassed, and raped.

This includes: straight men, cis women, trans women, trans men, girls, boys, GNC people, genderqueer people, gay men, lesbians, butches, femmes, bois, queens, drag kings, fairies, androgynes, enbies, bigender people, people who are agender, asexual, bisexual, queer, transmasculine, masculine of center, genderfluid, third gender, two spirit, fa’fafine, kathoey, hjira, guevedoce, muxe, intersex, fems, ETC.

ALL OF THE GENDERS experience sexual assault and harassment. 

What is wrong is a patriarchy system of violence – rape culture – which permits or ignores when someone in a position of power feels entitled to another person’s body and sexuality.

Please, let’s not be stupid about this. Women do not own these issues. We may experience in them in greater numbers, but the shame for people who are male-identified and/or masculine is pretty goddamned significant and I’m sure we have no idea what those numbers are really.

I know women have significant trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and the rest because of this violence or the threat of it, but that doesn’t mean people of other genders don’t. They often expect to be heard and listened to and believed far less often than even we do, and that’s a problem.

Surviving sexual assault and harassment doesn’t have a gender. 

 

Birth Control Is Healthcare

With even birth control under attack, various people and organizations have been posting about all the other medically necessary reasons for birth control. I, for instance, have PCOS, which leads to all sorts of crap, including irregular periods, so they put me on birth control for 20 years. There are numerous other medical instances that aren’t pregnancy that birth control is prescribed for.

But: preventing pregnancy is a medical reason. It IS healthcare. Body autonomy is health-care.

Don’t cave to these fools. People have the right to prevent pregnancy, to plan pregnancy, and the entire nation benefits from our ability to do so.

And you have the right to have sex without getting pregnant and without getting someone else pregnant.

Punching Back

The DOJ reversal is a punch in the gut for trans people, so if you know any, please be nice to them today / this week & make sure they’re managing.

Whether this action is legal or not, the message just sent from the White House is that trans people don’t matter.

& they do, they do, YOU DO.

NCTE & TLDEF are already preparing to take the DOJ to court over this, but in the meantime, NCTE’s Mara Keisling adds:

We’ll take more punches like this before this is through, but it will end and we will prevail. And remember, this disgraceful administration cannot change the law. They can only refuse to do their jobs and enforce the law. The law still protects us. And we will win this guidance and regulations and memos all back in a few years. It hurts, and we’ll need to fight together, but we will win.

And she’s right, we will. Stay strong, folks, as I’m sure there is more bad news coming and it seems the RP has decided that trans people are a soft target, which is both despicable and mean.

If you voted for these monsters, shame on you.

CisHet White Men Questionnaire

Application Allowing Cishet White Men to Live Among Us

In the light of yet another mass shooting by a cishet white man, it is apparent that, as a group, these individuals do not quite understand the basic laws of civilization. Therefore, this committee recommends only allowing them to live among us once they have filled out this questionnaire which will in turn be reviewed by a small committee consisting of 3-5 individuals preferably including (1) RBG or Elizabeth Warren, (2) a professional woman, (3) a radical queer/trans activist, (4) an ethnic studies prof, critical race theorist or BLM activist, and (5) a gender studies professor or long-time feminist activist. Much thanks to Jonathan Swift for his input.

  1. Do some women just regret having sex the day after, or are some just making up sexual assault allegations?
  2. Do you secretly wonder if gay men find you attractive? Are you able to acknowledge in public and around other men that any man makes you a little tingly? Do you respect and admire him for that?
  3. Do you actually believe you are smarter than a black man, a woman, or any queer person? Please provide reasons and evidence.
  4. Are you absolutely sure that you can bring a woman to orgasm? Like, are you really really sure? 100 million percent sure? Are there women in your life/past who will certify that you can?
  5. Have you ever used any of these phrases while involved in sexual activity: “It’s just so hard to tell when a woman has an orgasm” “Did you come yet?” “You’d be more attractive if you __________” “I really can’t use condoms” or “But I really only get off with a blowjob.”
  6. Have you ever noticed that you talk a lot in classes/meetings/political rallies? Are you aware of talking significantly less when only other men are present?
  7. Do you maintain personal hygiene, clothing, weight, hair style, and shoe selection based on being attractive to women or gay men? Do you often think “she’d be pretty if…”?
  8. Do you watch porn/fantasize about fat women, mature women, women with penises, women with short hair, muscular women but *somehow* managed to marry/partner with a conventionally pretty, feminine, petite woman with a tiny waist and long pretty hair whose only goal in life was to have children?
  9. Do you understand any jokes women tell?
  10. Do you feel left out when in a room full of women/black people/gay and lesbian people? Does it anger you to feel left out?
  11. Have you ever stopped a meeting to point out or repeat what a woman has just said and made sure to give her credit for the idea you’ve just re-shared?
  12. How often do you call any woman who was kind to you – your mother, an aunt, a grandmother, a sister, friend, whoever – just to thank her? Have you sent her a card on mother’s day or brought her chocolate just because? Have you ever calculated the unpaid labor that people around you do to make your day/life easier? Do you, in turn, try to make it easier on them?
  13. Have you ever gotten away with some high school prank that you know would have gotten a person of color in much more trouble? Have you ever done anything to acknowledge that incident?
  14. Are you aware that you have emotions other than anger? Do you ever have them in front of other people? Are you secretly pleased with yourself if people are a little scared of you?
  15. Have you ever threatened violence, raised your fist or hand to slap or punch a woman, or threw a nearby inanimate object in a woman’s general direction?
  16. Are you aware that most of your people do not know how to resolve conflict or frustration without committing acts of violence? What are you doing to help them?
  17. Do you understand that many people are nice to you precisely because they’re afraid of you? How does that feel?
  18. Have you ever truly felt that someone owed you sex because _________________.
  19. How many times a week does someone like you make a joke that makes fun of women, black people, trans people, gay people, different abled people or the mentally ill? Have you ever shut down the person telling that kind of joke or stopped being friends with them?
  20. Do you understand that guns kill people, and that it is not our god-given right to decide to kill them depending on your mood/financial situation/having been cheated on/had a woman turn you down or break your heart?
  21. Is depression for women?
  22. Can you dance, cook more than 2 meals, get a baby to sleep, change a diaper, or resolve a conflict between children?
  23. Can you get two of your own kind to STFU, sit down, and stop arguing?
  24. Do you think of your wife or girlfriend as “yours”? Your children? Do you take pride in how good they look or in how well they do in school while doing absolutely nothing to foster those achievements?
  25. Have you ever felt you deserve a job and are surprised or chagrined because there are women, black people, and gays who are “doing better” in life than you are? Are you confused by how that is even possible?
  26. Do you understand that black men generally comport themselves in a way to be less threatening? Has it ever occurred to you that there might be any situation, save one concerning a police officer when you’re drunk, where you need to be compliant or passive and otherwise agreeing with whatever someone else is saying to you?
  27. Do you understand that violence is not a way to resolve conflict, to express emotion, or to make a political statement?
  28. How often do you tell women to smile? Do you feel better when they oblige you?
  29. Have you ever tried to explain/justify racism to a person of color, try to give pointers on how to behave around police, or even thought “just don’t break the law” when a person of color is arrested for a minor offense?
  30. Are you super proud of your daughter when she steals a base? Are you as proud when your son wants to be Wonder Woman for Halloween? Are you even aware you should be?
  31. Do you think it’s a woman’s responsibility to dress in a way that makes you capable of controlling your penis/libido/anger?
  32. Can you recite any lyrics by Morrissey, Big Freedia, or any female lyricist? Are any of those lyrics words you would have tattooed on you or that you feel you live by? Are any of your favorite bands lead by women or gay men?
  33. Do you think of yourself as a “hothead” “hot under the collar” or as someone who just “needs to let off some steam” once in a while? Have you ever noticed that children or women around you look worried or concerned when you do so? Or that, if they are able, they leave the room/house/bar when you start to get upset?
  34. Do women simply stop talking altogether when you start yelling? Have you noticed a worried, faraway look on a woman’s face when you are angry? Have you ever noticed a woman moving toward people if you are having a personal quarrel with her in public? Have you ever seen another woman glance protectively toward your wife or girlfriend during an argument with you?
  35. Have you ever started to disagree with a woman by saying “Well, actually…”?
  36. Are you aware that trans women are women, that your desire for them is heterosexual, and that having been assigned male at birth is not some weird way to trap you into expressing same sex desire?
  37. Do any of your favorite movies or books pass the Bechdel Test? Are any written by women, feature a female narrator, or involve only a female heroine or protagonist? Likewise for any books or movies written by or about black people, Native Americans, books that are translated from another language or films with subtitles?
    1. Do you know what the Bechdel Test is?
  38. Does it upset you not be able to use the N-slur, the T-slur, or to be told, in general, that you shouldn’t use a word if it is not one used to describe/denigrate you?
  39. Are you endlessly “intellectually” curious about whether women or black people or whoever can actually do science, art, comedy, or any other pursuit? Do you seek out scientific validation of your own biases and validate them by calling these studies scientific?
  40. Finally, please write a short essay explaining briefly why most of the violence in the world, especially gun violence, is committed by you & your kind. Spelling and grammar count.

Women, Dammit, Listen

Can I just say, as a woman of a certain age, that I am sick to death of beautiful, smart, talented, creative young women felling shitty about themselves?

& That includes my own former self to boot.

But goddamn ladies, even broken you remake the world in astonishing ways.

What hurts my heart is that there are too many of you I’m thinking of and that my opinion can be dismissed because.

But I’m telling you I know the world, and your hot mess is the best thing in it.

TLDEF Needs Your Input: Public Accommodation Discrimination Survey

from TLDEF: Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund is preparing an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That case raises the question of religious and other exemptions to non-discrimination laws. We are looking for input from our transgender community, and specifically those who have experienced discrimination in places of public accommodation. Your voice will play a vital role in helping to stand up for the rights of trans individuals in this country.

Here’s the survey. 

Eve Screenings: Atlanta, San Diego, Sydney, Carmel

If you know anyone who is involved with any film festivals, please do let them know about And Then There Was Eve.

September 30 – October 1, 2017 • 11 AM
Sydney Transgender International Film Festival

Sydney, Austraila (time TBA)
http://cinewest.org/welcome/?p=10168

October 1, 2017 • 11 AM
Out on Film / Atlanta’s LGBT Film Festival
Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta GA 30308
http://www.outonfilm.org/andthentherewaseve

October 7, 2017 • 3:30 PM
San Diego International Film Festival
Regal Theater Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA
https://secure.sdiff.com/e/passes-2017/preview
October 8, 2017 • 2:30 PM
San Diego International Film Festival
ArcLight Cinemas/UTC, San Diego, CA
https://secure.sdiff.com/e/passes-2017/preview
October 18-22, 2017 • Time TBA

Carmel International Film Festival

Carmel, CA
http://carmelfilmfest.com/films/#tab-1-tab

RIP Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins

Goodbye Jessi Zazu. 28. Fuck. Waaaaay too young for such a talent.

The first time I saw them, the plaintive notes of this song were the first thing they played, and the room was astonished in the best of ways.

I asked her for an interview & she asked me what I did, and when I said “gender studies” she said “oh, so you get it, i’m so sick of these perverted old men who want to ask about our sex lives.”

Yeah. I regret that I never made it happen but I went out of my way to see them a few times and she was always up for a chat. They did “White Light White Heat” in Madison the night that Lou died, and I am still grateful for that. And now she’s gone too.

rockerggrrrl, thank you. Your voice and your attitude brought this old lady a fuckton of joy.

Who Was There

For Ariela

I’ve been living outside of NYC for the past 8 years and this year I’m here today and watching FB posts by people who were here and by people who were not.

For those of you who were not there: we don’t need to be reminded not to forget. We also are still angry that anyone used an attack on the most diverse, open-armed, immigrant-loving, ‘of course no human is illegal’ city as an excuse for xenophobia and a shitty war. Today we are a little too still, a little too quiet, red-eyed and weep so easily. Today we ask each other how we are, what we’re doing, how we are dealing this year. 16 years in and we check in with each other – those who you knew at the time, those you’ve come to know since. I hate to say it but it takes me a second, when the subject comes up in conversation, to know who was there and who wasn’t by how they respond. Talk about triggers.

Especially in the midwest, which has no huge fondness for NYC anyway, it’s as if it’s impolite to mention it, to mark it as anything but patriotic jingoistic bullshit, which is one of the reasons I’m not there today. But some of my fellow NYers and DC area folks are, so let me ask: if you weren’t there, take it easy on us today. Don’t ask. Don’t try to relate. Just give us some space and quiet and respect.

What’s beautiful to me is how many people who were there post happy photos of those iconic Towers. One friend had a photo of her first arrival to NYC and there they are in the background. We don’t post the photos of billowing smoke; we don’t post the conspiracy theory. We just remember, without trying to, that acrid smell for months and the fliers and the candles and the plume, that goddamned endless plume in the sky.

So for those of you who weren’t there, maybe follow our lead. Today, to me, should be a national holiday honoring the Best City on Earth and honoring all it stands for: cheek by jowl tolerance, a government that stands up for Dreamers, that honors African American labor and Jewish food and Irish storytelling and Puerto Rican music and where even the most uneducated bozo knows that their Muslim friends are really hungry at dusk after fasting. In some ways my city has always been my image of the US even though they have almost nothing to do with each other. Because my New York is artsy and decadent, exquisitely dirty and complicated and busy and fast. It’s $2 falafels and $2k in rent. It is all the extremes all the time, all the faiths, all the creeds, all the everything.

The first thing that made me laugh after that day was an Onion headline that said only Rest of Country Temporary Feels Deep Affection for New York and I will forever be grateful to Madison, WI, where the Onion was HQ’d, for that. Because it’s less true right now, it feels like, than it was even then: as a country, we still hate New York, but I always want to remind both Dems and Republicans that it is also the city of mammon, of capitalism, of the uber rich, but it is also a place that protects – or tries to – the most vulnerable.

And that, you know, is the whole fucking idea of the US, isn’t it? Unfettered greed and unfettered justice. We are big enough and rich enough and generous enough not to be mean. At least that’s what I always thought. It’s what I still think today, that the real deal is the Cajun Army and the drag queens hosting bingo to raise money to help whoever needs helping that day, that week, that month. So maybe today instead of waving a flag or whatever other bullshit you’re doing, just love on New York for a hot minute because it is, whether you like it or or not, still the best of who we are as a nation, too.

Why You Don’t Deadname Someone

To my awesome old friend/colleague/relative/acquaintance who just just used my wife’s former name in a private message/conversation/post on FB: Please don’t do that. What you did is called “deadnaming” – basically, using a name that is dead, no longer valid, done, over.

I know you’re on board and cool with her transition and know her to be a woman. I know you are caught up and not transphobic and are happy that she is happy and that we’re happy. I know that you are thrilled for her success and knocked out by her beauty. I know you have read my books but do try to keep in mind they are very, very old now, and that things that were true, language that was okay, are not true or okay anymore.

And I know you care deeply for us both.

Which is why I have to say: please don’t use her old name. It effectively re-genders her into a past self that was an unhappy one for her. It throws me back to a time when my relationship, my marriage, and my expectations were steeped in straight privilege. We have both done a great deal of work to adjust to make our lives into what they are now, so your moment of nostalgia undoes that, emotionally, in a quick second.

That is, you were thinking about you and not, actually, about us.

If you really feel the need to be nostalgic about her old self, perhaps do it with someone else who is not as close to her, or to us; do it with other people who don’t know any trans people at all. That is, if you must do it, which: just don’t.

Any reference to her past self can be done just like that: “I loved working with her before” and “I’m so glad I got to know her then, as much as I love knowing her now”, or, if absolutely necessary, follow my own lead and use “Rachel 1.0” to refer to that person. And please don’t assume it’s “more okay” to do with me than with her: studies have shown that partners of trans people also have to contend with the discrimination our loved ones experience. If it isn’t clear yet, let me say: I take this trans shit seriously every single minute of my life.

So if you must, when you must, except don’t anyway because you really don’t need to. She is and always was Rachel; it just took some effort to make that visible. In my work, I do have to refer to her past self because I write and teach about the process that is a marriage’s transition. But most of the time I find it just isn’t necessary: my wife has always been a woman, and although you thought you knew someone you thought of as a man, that was not the real her. It never was. I have come to understand that more deeply than you can probably ever understand, so I have to ask you to trust me on this: it hurts to hear or read that name.

With much love and respect,
Helen

Serano on Free Speech and the Limits of Tolerance

As ever, Julia Serano with a remarkably clear-eyed piece on the limits of tolerance and the underlying power structures and cultural context.

I loved this especially:

“But what about the suppression of my speech as a young trans person? Back then, trans people had some allies, to be sure, but they (like us) constituted a tiny minority of the population. And I can tell you first hand that the “more speech” strategy actually does far more harm than good when greater numbers of people hate your minority group than accept you. In such cases, calls for “more speech” simply enable and promote hate speech against you, rather than mitigating it.”

Which is a point I have had to make over and over again, as one of that “tiny minority” – at any given point in time, there is a person who can defend a said group or idea against another 10,000 who condemn it and an additional 10,000 who agree with the ideas but can’t argue them effectively. This has been the case for trans rights for decades now — so much so that I’m often happily surprised now when I see other cis people who are able and willing to make these points so I don’t have to anymore.

Adieu Holly Boswell, Beautiful Soul

One of the gentlest, most loving, most fierce souls I have known died this past weekend at the age of 66. I don’t know what of; I only know that for 66 short years, the world was a better place and still will be as a result of who she was and how she was.

When we met, just glanced at each other across the room, it was one of those kismet moments of “i get you” and we talked. And talked and talked and talked; Holly and I talked whenever we saw each other, nearly couldn’t stop. I don’t know that I was so extraordinarily special in that, because she was so open and so welcoming and so goddamned beautiful I’m sure a lot of people found themselves wanting to be known when they were in her presence. She could see you, see you for your pain, for your fear, for your beauty. As my wife put it, “She was the first trans woman I met who was utterly confident in her skin and her example has fed my soul from now to the end of days.”

When I first started going to trans conferences, the lingo was all CDs this and TSs that, FTM and MTF, binaries upon binaries, “real” transsexuals vs. I don’t know what. It was at a time when trans women would tell my wife she wasn’t a woman if she expected to stay with me after transition, that “real” trans women didn’t do that. We didn’t feel we fit in well as our queer artsy selves because there was so much prescription to being trans then, so much, with exclusive camps that left anyone who wanted to express a gender without changing their genitals with nowhere to be.

But where you could be was with Holly, and her company more than made up for the folks for whom you were too non-doctrinaire. If you think it was controversial to be “non op” now, it was a million times more then, but she held her ground with grace and a knowing smile.

She invented the trans symbol because she was too much and too many things to be restricted to one gender. She wanted all of her many selves present all the time. She was the first person I knew who embraced a non binary identity. She wrote The Trangender Alternative in 1991. Here’s an interview I did with her back in 2006.

I adored her. I will miss her. I will value how much she made us welcome and how much she validated any emotion, any gender, any pain; she took it all in and transformed it, light in her eyes and an impish smile all surrounded by that beautiful, beautiful hair.

Faerie child, I will miss you. I think, I hope, I told you how much you meant to me, but I’m sure you knew it even if I didn’t. Because you were that good.

New to Antifa? Let Me Explain.

So there’s a lot out there about antifa right now and the first time people see a group of them there’s often a little fear… as there was Sunday night at a rally I helped organize. They wear black. Sometimes they cover their faces.

Here’s the thing: the antifa are an organized group, much like FOI or the Panthers, that came out of radical politics with an understanding, especially, that the police work for the state and not for the most marginalized and certainly not for anyone who is challenging the status quo. In Charlottesville, for instance, Cornel West has reported that the police stood back and let white nationalists attack the counter protestors, even the clergy assembled, and what kept them safe – kept them from being “crushed like cockroaches” was a line of antifa who got between them and the Nazi shitheads. BLM activists formed a second line protecting the rest of the counter protesters.

And as much as we all decry violence, we all (should) know by now who is bringing the fight. It’s not the “alt left” as the (p)Resident said, but the Nazis. Rachel Maddow made it clear last night exactly what it meant for him to say what he said.

Antifa came to exist specifically because Hitler managed to divide the organized Left from itself. So instead of identifying as socialists or anarchists or whatever specific version of the Left, whoever was still around after Hitler decimated Europe opted instead to create an inclusive Left where people could be, simply, against fascism.

As we all should be. You know, the world went to war to stop Nazis and Fascists already, and that we’re even having this conversation or dealing with this again is disgusting.

But we are. The current version of the antifa returned because of the rise of white nationalist politics in Europe (National Front, esp) and White Nationalist/Supremacist groups in the US. We met them at punk shows in the 70s and 80s first, where they often showed up to threaten the most marginalized in those queer, working class spaces: black people, queers, drag queens, etc. I once saw an anarchist punch a fascist shithead for feeling up a woman in a mosh pit, no kidding. Same as now, the fascists came to cause violence, and the antifa were there to protect people who sometimes didn’t even know they were under attack.

So yeah. Don’t be down on antifa. They’re the good guys. If you haven’t been paying attention, the bigots have been attacking an awful lot of us when they get the chance, which is why antifa has become necessary again.