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 What you did is called “deadnaming” – basically, using a name that is dead, no longer valid, done, over.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.

 

Paisley Currah on the WH’s Rescinding of LGBTQ Protections

from Paisley Currah, in response to the news that the WH is looking to remove LGBTQ protections from healthcare:

“Don’t believe everything you read about the Trump’s administration’s inability to govern. In the regulatory arena, Trump is really getting things done–look what’s happening at the EPA. There’s also Sessions’ stated intention of ending the Justice Department’s oversight of post-Ferguson reforms regarding excessive fines and fees. When it comes to trans people, they are viciously efficient. They’ve rescinded the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance on trans students. Trump tweeted that the Defense Department’s policy on trans service members would be reversed. And now they’re planning to get rid of rules–of critical importance to trans people–that ban discrimination based on gender identity under the Affordable Health Care Act. The Justice Department is also deciding whether or not to support Obama-era rules that used the Prison Rape Elimination Act to protect transgender prisoners from violence. And there’s still a bunch more policy changes out there awaiting the eye of Sauron. Trump/Pence have 3.5 more years to do a lot of damage.’

#defendcville

these white men, these fascists, these nazis and white supremacists

so many snowflakes with their pitchforks and fire chanting blood and soil

you embarrass yourselves.

what you are is obvious to the rest of us: insecure cowards who don’t have anything to them, invisible pricks of arrogance and revulsion.

white people of any decency need to speak up, act up, get angry, and yell these little shits back into their neanderthal caves. we need them back on their leashes, muzzled and harmless. this is our fight, white folks, our newest civil war. these are people we know, bold enough to go unmasked because they know being a white supremacist is not going to cost them their jobs or their families or anything at all.

there have to be consequences.

i know black people are not surprised, but maybe, just maybe, the white folks who didn’t understand how deeply entrenched racism is in this country get it now.

i’m so sorry it’s come to this. we fought a war against this bullshit at least once if not a dozen times, and yet here we are again.

those students who held their ground around that statue are the heroes of the hour.

 

Laverne Cox Narrates Trans Struggle #ACLU

“Resistance is our birthright.”

Found here.

Rachel, SAG, and a Request

Hey all

As you know, my wife got her first part in a movie last summer, which premiered a month or so again at Los Angeles Film Festival, where it also won its category.

She is right now in Las Vegas at work on her second film.

That’s where you all come in: she needs to join SAG, the actors’ union because she’s now gotten two movies (and those in addition to when she was on All My Children back in the day). It’s a $3000 fee to join the first time, and frankly, after many months of her working sporadically, we just don’t have that kind of cash around. If you can donate, please do, and thank you so much to everyone who already has, and to Darya, who started the fundraiser.