On learning that Matt Lauer had a button at his desk that allowed him to lock the door without getting up – which Anne Branigin at The Root just called “his little trapping button” – my friend Jill Barkley asked:
Who authorized the expense to have the button installed? Which men in power positions over Lauer knew about the button? Which men at equal levels of power as Lauer knew about the button? What did the guy who installed the button say out loud to his coworkers about it? What did the male members of the cleaning crew who saw the button say to their coworkers?
Basically, what I’m asking is: men who know about fucked up shit and don’t do anything to intervene, WHAT THE FUCK? I’d say pardon my language, but I’m not actually sorry.
For anyone who is shocked or surprised, I only want to say: maybe someone should have asked the contractor who put it in, or whatever asshole approved the work order, or, I DON’T KNOW, ANYONE WHO KNEW IT EXISTED AT ALL.
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.
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.
Here’s the complete list:
- India Monroe, 29, was murdered on Dec. 21, 2016 in Newport News, Virginia
- Mesha Caldwell, 41, Canton, Mississippi
- Sean Ryan Hake, 23, Sharon, Pennsylvania
- Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- JoJo Striker, 23, Toledo, Ohio
- Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, Chicago
- Chyna Gibson, also known as Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, New Orleans
- Ciara McElveen, 26, New Orleans
- Jaquarrius Holland, 18, Monroe, Louisiana
- Alphonza Watson, 38, Baltimore, Maryland
- Chay Reed, 28, Miami
- Kenneth Bostick, 59, Manhattan
- Sherrell Faulkner, 46, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Kenne McFadden, 27, San Antonio
- Kendra Marie Adams, 28, Ithaca, NY
- Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17, Athens, Georgia
- Ebony Morgan, 28, Lynchburg, Virginia
- Tee Tee Dangerfield, 32, Atlanta, Georgia
- Gwynevere River Song, 26, Waxahachie, Texas
- Kiwi Herring, 30, was killed during an altercation with police on August 22
- Pepper K. Aka Phoenix, 33, Columbus, Ohio
- Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28, was fatally stabbed by his partner on September 5
- Derricka Banner, 26, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police on September 16
- Ally Steinfeld, 17, was stabbed to death in Missouri in early September
- Stephanie Montez, 47, Robstown, Texas
- Candace Towns, 30, Macon, Georgia
Say their names.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.”
- Andrea Jenkins of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black woman to be elected to public office.
- Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black man elected to a city council.
- Lisa Middleton was elected to the City Council in Palm Springs, California.
- Tyler Titus was elected to the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania.
- Gerri Cannon won a School Board seat in Somersworth, New Hampshire. She plans to run for a state rep seat.
- 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.