To Friends & Family Who Voted for This

(Please feel free to adapt this to your own needs. As much as the Dems and the left are debating tactics and keeping each other focused and resisting, I think it’s also important to let people who voted for this travesty to understand the results of their vote. If you do use it, just give me some credit and maybe join me on Patreon.)

6/29/18

To you, my family members who voted for Trump:

I know you don’t love him. I have to hope against hope that you don’t and that you haven’t supported anything he’s done or stood for since the election.

But I have something to explain: we’re scared out here. I’m worried I’m going to lose my right to be married to my wife. I’m worried that some of my students or their parents are going to be deported. I am worried that women’s rights to birth control and abortion are going to be taken away.

I am worried about those children at the border who may not even know who their parents are, much less see them again. I know you think their parents came here illegally. They didn’t. They came here for amnesty. BUT EVEN IF THEY DID, the brutality can’t be something you stand for. Everyone wants a safe border. But not at that expense.

You know it’s hard for me not to notice that all of you are straight and white and most of you are male. And I just want you to think about that for a second: that maybe what was an unpleasant choice for you, that you held your nose to vote for this blowhard, is terrifying for me. I used to have to carry a copy of our marriage certificate and my wife’s legal name change with me everywhere just in case I had to prove that I was her wife. That I had that shred of heterosexual privilege was something. But I don’t want that again. I don’t want my queer friends who don’t have that to be denied again.

The rates of violence against us are through the roof. You don’t know because you don’t know. Someone dropped a bomb on the porch of a trans house in Philly and you probably didn’t hear about that either.

So here’s what I have to ask you: is this level of hate something you condone, or do you not see the connection between what this president says and does and what his followers are doing all over this country? Do you think brown people deserve this, or queer people, or trans people? I actually want to know.

Because here’s the thing: you may not think so, and you may think that those of us who have done nothing wrong are safe. But we’re not. Bigots tend to be kind of stupid and they think anyone who speaks Spanish, anyone who is black, anyone who is queer, lives up to the worst stereotypes of what they think we are, of what they fear we are.

I wish I could give you all a snapshot of my FB feed: of the college professors who are here on work visas or green cards who are worried about being able to stay; of the accomplished, legally transitioned trans women and men who are worried or seeking out any possible European connections they have “in case it gets too bad”; of the gay men and women who are scared both of the violence and of the loss of rights and are subsequently issuing calls to the community to get their legal documents in place again; of my Jewish friends who are starting to turn assets into cash “just in case”; and the worried parents with differently abled children who are watching the whole school system privatize in ways that leaves their kids out. I wish I could tell all of them not to be scared, not to worry, that it’s not going to be that bad, but I can’t. Because I’m scared to.

And here’s the thing: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying to fight. I have to. But if I have to send my trans wife out of the country because I’m worried about her, I will.

I’m not writing to you today to blame you. Most of you, to be honest, are in New York and you didn’t actually do this. But I do need you to do something: I NEED YOU TO STAND UP TO YOUR FUCKING PARTY. Either just stay home this election day or don’t vote for Republicans. & I’m asking you to do that just to curb the people out there who think that the policies and rulings and legislation being promoted by this president are an excuse to cause violence to the rest of us.

That’s all.

Please just remember that the next time you vote, someone you love may have everything in the world at risk while you risk nothing. Vote for my rights, and my safety, and my well being, and not for some ideological “choice” between the lesser of two evils.

You need to denounce the homophobia, the white supremacy, the transphobia, the fear and hatred of immigrants, OUT LOUD, ON SOCIAL MEDIA, AND TO YOUR FELLOW REPUBLICANS. I honestly believe you all are not part of this bullshit, but I don’t hear you saying it and the haters are out in force. We need you so much to help us live.

I don’t scare easy, and I’m scared. And I’m scared of the unchecked power of an evangelical Republican party who thinks America is only for people like you and not for people like me.

Love, Me.

Philly Trans House Bombing

So a man in Philadelphia casually tossed a bomb onto the porch of a house that was the home of 7 trans people.

The house and its tenants have been targeted before – with paintballs – which is why there is footage of this new attack.

If you are in the Philly area and recognize this person or the guy walking with him earlier in the video, please contact the police: 215-686-3183/3184.

(And no, I don’t believe in the police, but I also don’t think someone who is bombing a house full of trans people should be free  to try it again.)

Notes on Portrait of a Marriage

I just finished reading Portrait of a Marriage, about Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicholson, who were poly before there was a word for it. She was something like bi and he was something like gay, but at a time when neither of those identities were recognized and where people had little choice but to marry. But theirs wasn’t a marriage of convenience per se; they loved each other deeply and took care of each other in emotional, intellectual, and domestic ways. Much like Leonard and Virginia Woolf, they had a marriage that was more than a marriage but also maybe less than one.

The whole piece is on Patreon, of course, about 2000 words, but here are a few more excerpts:

. . .

So when I read a book about a couple who were born in 1892 (Vita) and 1886 (Harold) and who spent nearly 50 years together, who lived through two world wars and had two children and numerous love affairs with others, and who managed to do all that during the first half of the last century, I wonder if what my wife and I have is just a regularly anomalous but recurring exception; that two people perhaps find in each other a great love for another person that does not fit the requirements of what people think marriage should be and so change it to suit them.

What I do know is that it makes me sad that others can’t understand it, or feel sorry for us, because when I look at other’s lives I feel the same way I do when I see people so restrictively gendered, and want to take the lens of their eye and shift it a little this way or that so they can see what they can’t see now. I am still sad to see that queer people have become more straight than the other way around because so many queer couples I know assume monogamish, at the very least, as a way of living, but with different sensitivities and restrictions: one couple needs to tell each other about every flirtation or romance or sweaty encounter, and others know that a business trip or some time alone means sometimes a soul finds lovely company and their person doesn’t need to know a thing except for that. I wish straight people were easier about this stuff and so the capacity to be sexual and to be attractive and to be vulnerable and intimate and loving and caring with more than one person an absolute bonus for a marriage instead of a threat.

What a world of love we could live in and instead we put such terrific limitations on someone we love the most in the world. I’m never going to get it, not anymore, not now that I understand what is possible.

 

Lee Snodgrass for WI State Senate #Snod4Senate

Lee Snodgrass is running for State Senate and here’s some things I know for sure: (a) she’s generally ferocious and does not back down, (b) she came out as a bisexual despite currently being in a het relationship because she thinks LGBTQ visibility and issues are important, and (c) she’s been endorsed by Emily’s List due to her commitment to women’s issues and gender equality.

Here’s some other stuff you may not know:

(d) Wisconsin is 2 Senate seats away from a Democratic majority. The Senate currently has 7 women and 8 men. But 7 WOMEN are running for state senate this year, which could give us a FEMALE MAJORITY.

(e) The upper house in Wisconsin has never had an LGBTQ identified candidate.

<< bisexual visibility intensifies >> Seriously.

All of which means there are two things you might be able to do:

If you’re not in Wisconsin, then please donate to her campaign. We desperately need to kick these Koch-funded shitheads to the curb, and believe me, Lee Snodgrass will gleefully enjoy telling Republicans to sit down for a while because Dems and woman and LGBTQ folks have got it well in hand. We need this win in Wisconsin.

Hanne Blank’s Reasons Not to Quit

The incredible Hanne Blank has been writing a Reason Not to Quit daily for more than a year now. It’s an amazing project, and every time I see one it makes my heart sing a little.

Here are a few I love (but they’re all pretty genius):

  • Reasons Not to Quit #560: I’m not quitting today and I hope you’ll join me.
  • Reasons Not to Quit #558: Love is a verb.
  • Reasons Not to Quit #555: So many ways to fight jackassery, so little time.
  • Reasons not to quit #200: If I can find 200 consecutive Reasons Not To Quit, you can find one too
  • Reasons not to quit #191: It is astonishing how rarely the universe collapses if we leave that one thing to be finished later.
  • Reasons not to quit #117: Confound the expectations of everyone who ever underestimated you.
  • Reasons not to quit #109: Some days, white-hot bitchery and pettiness is what it takes to keep
    you going and some days, that’s a-ok.
  • Reasons not to quit #101: Think of a nemesis of your choice. Outlast them.
  • Reasons Not to Quit #549: There is some way you can help, today. Go find it and do it.
  • Reasons Not to Quit #538: Every time I start feeling ashamed of crying I tell myself firmly that from one perspective, humans are basically highly sophisticated devices for moving water from one place to another and I’m just doing my job.

You can support her – and read these as she writes them – by joining her on Patreon.

Video of the Cornell Event

My hair is awesomely blue and this is all new work I’m reading. I start about 17 minutes in but you really should watch Ryka Aoki. After me is Ely Shipley and they are both wonderful poets and people.

(CW: I tell a terrible story about the death of a kitten, so if you don’t want to hear that, it’s at about 20:00, or just skip 1:15 & go to my next piece.)

Rain Valdez: In Support of Trace and Van

The first time I met Jeffrey Tambor in 2015, it was at the table read for the 1st episode of season 2 of Transparent. He shook my hand, asked what I did and welcomed me to the family.

My 2nd encounter with Jeffrey was at the LGBT center for Trans Pride. I was manning the Transparent casting booth along side Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst. I had been there the whole day. The cast members including Jeffrey Tambor, Alexandra Billings, Trace Lysette, Amy Landecker and Melora Hardin had come to visit the booth later that afternoon after an actors workshop that was scheduled earlier that day. They came for support and to greet and take photos with the heart of the show. The trans community.

Upon seeing me at his arrival Jeffrey walked straight up to me, hugged me tight around my waist and planted a kiss right on my lips. I was a little thrown but thought nothing of it because I was just happy to be working on this show that celebrated my identity and made a point to uplift me so many ways. 

During season 2, Trace and I bonded very quickly. I knew that we would be lifelong friends after we had coffee and shared stories of our paths into our womanhood and navigating the movie and TV industry as actors and then having the a similar turning point of being out and proud trans actresses. Shortly after the infamous “Yasss Queen” kitchen scene was shot, I was dropping Trace home from work and a night out with girlfriends. It was just the two of us in my car and I had asked her if she had any more scenes to shoot this season. So we got to talking about the show. This is when she confided in me about what Jeffrey had done to her at work and what Alexandra Billings had over heard him say to her, “Trace, I want to attack you. Sexually.” She also revealed to me that when no one else was looking, he got closer to her, planted his feet on top of hers and started humping her leg to a point where she could feel his genitals on her skin. I was mortified and asked if she was ok. She even warned me to stay clear of him, which I made a point to do moving forward. But at the time I didn’t know what I could do. At the time I was just an assistant and I was taught to be grateful to have a job. I was also afraid to lose my job. I now regret reducing myself to a powerless assistant. Sometimes my transness allows people to take away my qualifications, offering me the lowest paying job, even though I had been a Producer at post facilities for many years before I joined Transparent. But I was grateful because I was being seen. I was grateful because I knew what this show meant for my community and our future jobs. And I’ll continue to stand behind it but I’m not gonna pretend that I was safe. I’m not gonna pretend that I didn’t protect myself by keeping my distance because I knew something was wrong.

I’m not at all too surprised that I woke up Tuesday morning to a Hollywood Reporter article empathizing with the perpetrator Jeffrey Tambor and vilifying the accusers, Trace and Van. Hollywood has historically made a culture out of vilifying and shaming trans women. Reducing us to butt of the jokes and fetishes. Only this time it’s not just happening in the storytelling. It’s happening for reals. But not today, Satan. And not ever. You want to get together with your bro Seth Abramovitch at the Hollywood Reporter and play victim and slut shame the women who accused you of your abhorrent behaviors? Well, go head. Have your pity party. We know who the real slut is. It is you, Jeffrey Tambor, the predator, and always have been since my earliest encounters with you. I want to declare again that I believe my sisters Trace and Van I continue to stand with them 100% and I will do anything I can to help stop the vilifying because we’re done with that. We’re done with the lies and no pity party article is going to change that.

How It Feels

Another new piece up on Patreon, and this one came about in an interesting way: what I wanted was to make a list of things I want to write about, things I want to describe so that anyone else experiencing them might feel less shame about them.

Instead I wound up with the list itself becoming the piece.

It’s called How It Feels (My Brain is Against Me)

Here’s 4-7:

4. To be post traumatic

5. To be a depressive living in a blindly optimistic world

6. To be deep hearted and loyal in a shallow place

7. To fail

There are 20. It’s up on Patreon. 

Fuck Gender.

I read this piece at Cornell this past Thursday (along with a few other things):

 

I’ve recently been reading Lou Sullivan’s biography and I’m having trouble with it because some of it cuts too close to the bone for me.

I’m not sure how he came to understand he was a gay man when there was little or no awareness of either gay men or trans men, but he did, and I’m astonished by that. I’ve been hanging out on the edges of gender dysphoria my whole life but never really named it that. Genderqueer, gender neutral, genderfuck: these were the words I started using to talk about myself back in 1985.

There’s a photo of me in masculine drag from when I was 16 and found out I would have been named Doug had I been assigned male at birth. My nickname in high school was The Gentleman – not because of my class, but because I opened doors and took care of women in ways that more closely resembled gentle masculinity than anything else.

I feel sexiest when I feel like Adam Ant or Rufus Wainwright. Feminine forms of sexy have never, ever appealed to me – not when I was skinny, not when I was fat, not when I was an hourglass. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to make curves straight lines with little success. Only now that I’m older and lose muscle mass at an alarming rate have my jeans started to fit my hips in ways I don’t hate.

I have always resisted identifying as trans, maybe because I grew up raised my 2nd wave feminists who wanted to get rid of gender for good and feminist reasons. Maybe because I grew up in an era of trans activism where people who needed medical and legal intervention really, really, really needed the healthcare industry and the legal precedents to be recognized as people at all. Priorities, you know?

Read the rest on Patreon.