Please check out this scholarship in honor of Bryn.
The Bryn Kelly Scholarship for Trans Women/Trans Femme Writers
Please check out this scholarship in honor of Bryn.
Today is Trans Day of Remembrance; what day could be more fitting for me to wake my sleeping blog and make a firey comeback.
Earlier today, I saw a post pop up in my Facebook feed from a local organization promoting Trans Awareness Week by advertising a blog post by social worker from a local hospital which houses a trans youth clinic. The clinic itself is, after a bumpy and I’m just be up front and say it, trans-exclusionary launch, overall doing good things for the trans community and I am always glad to hear happy clinic stories from trans youth who attend my programs. I am glad the clinic exists, but it is no secret that I oppose how the clinic functions. Mired in monolithic hospital bureaucracy and archaic versions “best practice,” the well-meaning providers do their best to provide affirming care. Working in a system that requires pathologization they tell me they aim for it to be as non-pathologizing as possible. So, when a blog like this crosses my path, I find it difficult to not comment on how in a movement with a growing number of non-trans (cisgender) allies, even well-intentioned work can still easily contribute to trans oppression. It is fair to say that this specific article is no different from what we see in Huffington Post, talking about trans kids and how we should care about them (good stuff), describing trans with the strict binary myth where boys like “girl stuff” and girls like “boy stuff (yeah, that is not good stuff), and then (with clearly good intentions) aligning the trans experience with inherent dysphoria, depression and suicide (No. Unacceptable). One of the primary reasons trans people experience violence and discrimination is because we are stigmatized as being mentally ill. Mental illness is considered a curse in our society, making those of use with it to be less than. Trans people are considered less than human for many reasons, and pathologization is a big one. If we continue to promote narratives of mental illness, even in the most loving ways, it is still oppressive. You can spank a child with love, but that child has still been hit.
As I mentioned above, but feel the need to mention again: Today is Trans Day of Remembrance. This day exists because trans people, specifically trans women and gender non-conforming people of color, are murdered and exposed to violence at dehumanizing rates. Violence comes in many forms: physical, emotional, psychological, institutional, cultural… Yes, being shot, beaten, raped, molested, this is violence. Do we consider it violence when a kid can’t go home because, though he never gets hit, he doesn’t feel safe or loved? Do we consider it violence when a person struggling with depression cannot find a trans accepting counselor, and so goes without? Is it violence when a child is raised by a family who psychologically mutilates them because they think that their trans identity is a curse from the devil? Is it violence when that child grows up maladjusted, homeless, and hurting? Is it violence to have no access to employment because of discrimination, forcing a person must make a life on the street through drugs and non-consensual sex work? Is it violence when addiction takes a life after years of trying to mask the pain of societal rejection and a never ending fight for resources that don’t exist? Is it violence when a trans person dies from a disease that could have been cured if they only could have accessed better healthcare? All of this is violence. All of it.
The trans community is powerful, with powerful leaders like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson to lead the way for us. The reason the trans community has not grown more established like the HRC and “Gay and Lesbian” groups is due to more than the discrimination we experienced in the “Gay Rights” movement. It is because as “progress” came and privilege arrived for many, trans people are still focusing on basic survival. We cannot organize a movement; gather to fight a war for ourselves if we are distracted by violence and the need to survive. In the last two years, I have told people that the reason I haven’t been blogging or touring, is because I’ve been busy building my non-profit, finishing grad school, and working to become a therapist for trans people. This is the truth, but only a small portion of it. The reason my presence has been sinking from blogging, community projects, making new programs, and visiting social scenes is because I have been struggling to make it. After nearly nine years of feeding both myself and a growing a one-person trans organization from the same tour-schedule paycheck, poverty and burn-out caught up with me. And as it did, a genetic medical issue sent me to the emergency room: my blood pressure dropped and, near death, I was rushed to surgery, but not before giving a nurse my business card for her trans niece. This was pre-Affordable Care Act and I have accrued large amounts of medical debt. I couldn’t afford to not work through my recovery period. My PTSD, inflamed by almost dying, went untreated because I could not find a therapist (or afford one) who was competent, or willing, to work with trans people. Within six months, a former member of the trans support group I run started aggressively stalking me, the continuation of what had already been a two year ordeal. I went months without reaching out for help because the only support organization for stalking, “Women Helping Women,” has a terrible reputation among trans and queer people and I could not cope with facing transphobia in the state I was in. The police, unfamiliar with trans needs, offer me a mix of supportive and scarring interactions; the courts, horrific and stale, continue to lead me through hoop after hoop, with wrong pronouns and problematic language stinging me with every step. Even if I was not trans this would be hard, but I found that being trans created more barriers than I ever expected. I was extremely fortunate to eventually find a survivor advocate who works with me even though it isn’t part of her job description because there is no one else who knows how. Over the last year, she has been working hard to try and find trans resources for me to cope with my depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but ironically, every referral she got was the same: “You have a trans client? The best resource is JAC Stringer.” I reached out to people in the community for support with minimal success, teaching me the lesson that if I want people to really pay attention to the violence I experience as a trans person, I have to be dead. And, I believe very strongly that if I were not a person with white colored skin and an education, I likely would be dead already. After all, I am 30 years old and the average life expectancy for trans person is between 23 and 30.
Beloved friends, first let me tell you that I am safe in my own home, and that I am hoping this stalking case will continue to improve. Next, I want you to know I tell you these things not to scare you or to upset you; I certainly do not tell you so that I might hear more guilt inducing pleas of “Why didn’t you tell me?” I expose myself here to show that even the trans people you may think are the strongest, are fighting to survive every day. We are all in this together and we must keep working to make all forms of trans violence a thing of the past, not a crippling reality of the present. So many times, I have said to myself, “How the hell can I support my people when I can barely support myself? How can I meet your needs when I am struggling to care for my own?” And the accompanying guilt of cutting programs, cutting work hours, delaying projects all of which I know will be felt by the trans community all because I had no choice but to take care of myself. This is why the trans community looks as it does: because when you are in the front lines, you get shot. It takes time for the medic of self-care to reach you and in the time you are healing, there is one less person fighting.
As more non-trans (cisgender) folks join the movement who are not partners, who are not parents- the non-trans people who are outside the trans community, I am happy, I am excited, and I am skeptical. It is still hard for me to believe that those who ignored us for so long can turn the page and suddenly care at all, let alone care enough to do the work. It is hard to accept the embrace of those who once told me “we don’t want you here.” It is hard to understand how people can offer to help you, but when you need them most, they still turn away as if nothing has changed. Last week, Cincinnati HRC held a press conference to celebrate that the National HRC has awarded the city a 100% score for being, I donno, good to LGBTQ people – I don’t know how their sticker system works. This was awarded because the city, thanks to the work of a specific trans woman, now includes trans health care for city employees. This is indeed a great accomplishment, but to acknowledge it Cincinnati HRC did not invite any trans organizations to the press conference, or contact any trans leaders to ask for feedback, statements, or even just to attend. I found out about the press conference via a lucky connection; told them I was coming, but a week later when I arrived at the location it was empty. I later found out that the event had been moved but no one bothered to call me. I tried to reach out to the HRC, but still I have gotten no reply, no apology. But on the bright side, Cincinnati now has a 100% HRC score. Cincinnati, which does not have an LGBTQ Center, or an LGBTQ health clinic, or an LGBTQ inclusive adult shelter, or a trans inclusive anything… Cincinnati, where our LGBTQ population is riddled with black tar heroin, Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, survival sex work, racism, poverty, homelessness, – but we have a 100% with the HRC. And I am considered “inflexible” and even “hostile” when I hesitate to work with these people. But, I am still willing to try… Tonight, instead of standing beside my community in mourning and reflection over the countless lives lost to trans-centered violence, I accepted an invite to speak to several hundred social workers at the NASW conference. The state chapter is giving me an award, but I continue to ask myself why. How much does the NASW, or your average social worker, know about trans needs? When I seek help for trans people, I find them to know very little. When I seek help for myself, I find them to know even less. And yet, here I am, a trans person, presented with an opportunity to thank them for recognizing me, a white skinned, educated person, on behalf of the work I do to address their offensive and insulting lack of service to my people. I know I should be grateful that they are finally paying attention, at least a little bit. I should not chastise those who are late to the game because at least they showed up. I know these people are trying, but how can I forgive them? Honestly, I don’t know if I ever fully will, but I am willing to welcome those who want to help, not just because we need it, but because I want it. I want help from any good person willing to give it and I am grateful. As for the ceremony, I am using the opportunity to change minds and shake hearts to the point of bursting. The way I see it, as long as I am alive, I will be fighting – and yes, I mean to use the word FIGHT with all the aggression and power behind it. I will fight on the streets; I will fight in the schools; I will fight in faith places; I will fight at the powwow; I will fight in the hospital room; I will fight from my sickbed; I will fight until the breath has left me… Make no mistake; this is not because I am a hero. It is not because I am strong, or inspiring, or special. It is because I do not have a choice. None of us trans people do, no matter how many hurdles we may jump or how easy our life may feel, when one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed. If one of us is murdered, a piece of us all is dead.
Earlier this year, a young woman named Tiffany Edwards was murdered just a few miles from where I grew up. She was a trans woman of color, young and aspiring to lead a creative life of self-expression. When she was murdered, I found part of my grief was selfishly oriented towards me. I felt guilty that this woman, who had contacted our organization a couple times, had so few resources. I felt that her death was proof of how little I have done, and can do, to help our people. I know this was grief talking. I try very hard to remind myself that the work of countless activists like me matters. Racism and poverty are a form of transphobia. Transphobia is a form of violence. Violence is with us every day, but it is my hope that someday it won’t be like this. It is my hope that someday, as soon as possible, trans people, specifically the young women who come after Tiffany, will have a better life. We have to work to support ourselves, and each other, as trans people. I believe that non-trans people will, and must be, a part of our movement. And in that belief, I am hopeful that they will educate themselves against the outdated narratives and exclusionary practices that they have been used to. The people who come after us will have, must have a better life. Recently, my adopted kid (now 19) started T, and while it wasn’t a perfect or oppression free scenario, it was exponentially easier and safer for him than it was for me. I told him, “This is why I do what I do. It’s for you, so you don’t have to grow up to be like me.” Every time I see him with his friends, or hear him speak about his passions and dreams, I am reminded that there is more to come. And so today, as you think about Tiffany and the countless lives lost, look towards the future. We must never forget those we have lost, we must fight for those with us today, and we must build a better future.
You all may know me to be a little on the… aggressive side when it comes to calling media and celebrities out on transphobic ignorance. Recently, I’ve been trying to go the more relaxed route, not because I didn’t crave to throw fits about every slur, but since the gigantic influx of transphobic actions in mainstream, I was getting exhausted. But exhaustion aside, once again I’m saying “I’ve had enough.” What broke the camel’s back this time? Last week on Access Hollywood, former N’Sync star Lance Bass (who does look strikingly similar to a fish) pulled out the “T word,” the growing nomenclature for tranny, and this episode of ignorance says more about transphobia than one word can handle.
(starts at 2:20 minutes – UPDATE the video on the site may be taken down)
What’s so different about Lance Bass from Kelly Osborne or Neil Patrick Harris using the word? Nothing. It’s all the same, and though this event is very similar to Neil Patrick Harris’ usage, I find it much more insulting. In addition to the use of the word, those involved also found it necessary to mock our entire community’s plight against our oppressors. Comedian Billy Eichner, whose talent seems to be primarily based on yelling, comments on how tranny isn’t in fashion anymore, and I would give him props for that, but his statement of “really, really gay” being the replacement kinda ruined it. It is a fascinating scene really, watching three adults giggle like ten year olds who accidentally used a dirty word. And, like any ten year olds, their solution to their misbehavior was to laugh at it and blame someone else for their inability to say it. “Oops! we’ve made a mistake, those people don’t like that word, but who understands those trannies, anyway?!” Thanks, TV personalities, good save. Obviously, your public image is all that matters here, not the fact that you are a oppressive idiots with bad hair (WTF is with hair gel city you’re building over there?). Oh, and PS: Lance, I wouldn’t suggest you attempt to rock purple velvet, you’re not glam enough for it.
Now, all you Lance fans out there may be thinking, “Hey, he apologized! It’s all ok now!” And I appreciate all six of you pointing that out, but it is not all ok. The apology is good to have, but before we accept the apology we have to analyze the mistake, otherwise we can’t learn from it. I think the most interesting, and important, part of this case of transphobia is the exemplary performance of oppressors trying to deal with ignorance. When you watch the clip, listen to the language being used: trans* folks are just “they,” not the transgender community. Why? Well it is because they didn’t even KNOW what else to call us. Hi there, cookie-cutter TV personality lady, did you really just ask “What’s the new word?” It is “A Transgender Person” and Lance, I can see why you all missed the “memo,” the word has only been around for about THIRTY YEARS or in the case of the word Transsexual almost ONE HUNDRED years. But you know, it takes time to learn. it’s not like you’re a member of the “LGBT” community or anything. Oh, wait, you are. I guess you always thought that T stood for Tranny. You do “love a good o’l tranny.”
The exploding use of tranny in mainstream isn’t a coincidence. It is happening because trans* visibility is getting higher, and (consciously or not) non-trans* society is starting to panic. The use of slurs and other public forms of oppression (like political wedge issues) is society trying to deal with our communities’ push for rights and recognition. Pop culture is politics dripping down into the mainstream masses, and that is why it is so dangerous. In the big picture, I guess we should be somewhat excited about it. The growing visibility of tranny is a result of our trans* communities’ sucessful visibility; we’ve gone from being mostly invisible to the hot-topic butt of jokes, and we have been for a couple years now. So, under this idea, all this transphobia on TV could be seen as a ‘growing pain’ for the trans* communities’ arduous climb up the cliff of civil rights. If television had been prominent in the early 20th century, we can be sure that racial slurs would have been all over it. And even though direct, verbal prejudice was lower in TV and movies before and during the civil rights movement, racism itself was very prevalent and it hasn’t gone away yet. It is just lessening over time as society lazily gets its act together. What has to happen for media to move into a less-oppressive space? First, people start to use the slurs because it is topical; “Haha! I get the joke! I feel cool because I know who I’m oppressing!” (That is what oppressors think, right?) Then the accountability starts. All three celebrities (Harris, Osborne, and Bass) have issued public apologies for using the word tranny, and even go as far as to advocate others not to use it. When it comes to public accountability, an education-promoting apology is about as good as it gets. But, and you know there has to be a but, these apologies don’t really make me feel better – they usually just irritate me more. Can we take a look at Lance Bass’ apology? It is full of gender essentialism and stereotypes, including the widely recognized un-PC term transvestite and the wrong body myth. Then, he talks about how it was really ok that he said tranny because he knows trans* people – yeah, rationalization and excuses for why the mistake is ok are awesome elements in any apology. He also pretends to be smart by discussing how people of color and gay people debate about using the n-word and f-word (respectively). It’s “just words,” no big deal, why can’t he use it? Um, for starters, you’re not fucking trans*, Lance. Your gay card of doesn’t get you in. Despite his claimed “education” from GLAAD, this guy clearly has no clue about the trans* community or our struggles. Many people say I’m being too critical and I should be grateful for a well-meant apology. GLAAD was all too happy to bend over for Neil Patrick Harris’ “heartening” TWO LINE twitter apology, acting like sycophants to fame… Some queers go into activism saying “beggars can’t be choosers.” Well, I’m not begging for my rights, I’m fighting for them. I refuse to take less than what a human being deserves, and we deserve the best. And though these apologies aren’t the best, they are extremely important. Without them Billy No-Talent-Comedian would never of mentioned that tranny wasn’t ok and, despite the insulting follow up, it was acknowledged to be offensive. That is a big first step for society – the awareness that there is another voice. Of course, some celebrities make zero attempts to be accountable, and unless we keep fighting, that is going to continue to happen for a very long time. Society isn’t going to change on its own, we have to chisel our way in through activist feedback and forced accountability.
I’ve said it once if I’ve said it a million times, that mainstream media, needs to shut the fuck up on trans* issues, but maybe I should rethink that. Maybe I should sit back and enjoy the squirming celebrity mistakes and think of society’s failures as a tool for our revolution. The downside is that while we are waiting for society to get it’s act together, how many people will be misinformed, adding to the mass of oppression and miseducation? And how many trans* folks have to be injured by these oppressions before it enough is enough? The saying goes “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” In that, societal rights and recognition for the future’s trans* people are the omelet, today’s trans* people are the eggs. But I refuse to be broken. The future’s just going to have to learn to make civil rights tofu scrambles.
October 17th, in Chillicothe, Ohio a teenage boy was jumped and brutally beaten by his classmates because of his perceived queer sexual orientation. One boy attacked the 15 year old freshman while a second filmed the incident. The video has gone viral, but since I tend to find the promotion of such things without the express consent of those involved to be exploitative and sickening you will not find it on this blog (no matter how ‘moving’ it may be to the audience looking on from the safety of the present). The story didn’t break until a few days ago, and just after it did another attack happened in the central Ohio town of Westerville. We talk about bullying a lot now days, but what do we actually do about it? Facebook blasts, Tumblr reblogs, and attention from national organizations are good for visibility but how can we touch the reality of those who are out in literal fields battling oppression and violence?
Three weeks ago: I cut through the Appalachian hills of my beautiful Ohio. On my way home from a gig, I planned a somewhat impromptu pit stop to visit a dear friend and activist colleague who lived in Chillicothe. I drove into the town, taking in the Fall air and quaint scenery through my open window. I turned the corner toward the small town “Main Street” and was immediately hit with muffled shouts from the street: “What…. pink hair! Fucking gay! …Sick!” Not five minutes later it happened again, this time from a passing truck. It’s the same every time. You feel it in your gut; the panic and fear washes over you leaving behind tough-guy thoughts and extreme hyper-vigilance… you get used to it in that weird way where you never really get used to it. Just the sight of my friend brought me some relief. I watched her walk down the street without apology, surrounded by overall clad factory workers and towering historic buildings worn from wind and winter. She wasn’t afraid like I was. To her, Chillicothe is her her ancestral home town and her backwoods battlefield. Her fight: to make a safe place to live with her partner, to raise her children, and to foster her community. The two of us are bonded for a lot of reasons, one being that she and I often commiserate with each other about the over all conservative hellishness of where we live… But Cincinnati is one thing, Chillicothe is another. I listen to her talk about her daughter dealing with a bully (who assaulted her and made continual threats including being calling her a lesbian and a dyke) and how the school’s administration would do nothing to help her. Sound familiar? It should because it is the same cry for help the mother of the boy beaten this past month is voicing, and that of most parents of bullied kids. This is not an isolated problem, and it is not the fault of one child, one school, or one administrator. This is a historical, systematic problem.
I was bullied growing up, but I was lucky. I was lucky that any insult I heard I got over and any fight I was thrown into I ‘won.’ I was lucky that I found a way to survive the hatred of other people as well as the hatred the built up inside myself. Still, here I am as an adult; back in school and I am afraid. I am afraid to walk down the hall by myself, afraid to talk to my classmates about my life, I am afraid to call out others (including professors) when they speak/act in ways that are harmful to me and my people. I am afraid of being physically and emotionally hurt because of something I can not change: Who I am. Imagine what that must be like for a kid; someone with no power, no voice, and no way out. Now days people are coming out younger and younger, but in this world of homophobia and transphobia we think that Glee, Lady Gaga, and Facebook are enough make things right. And while I appreciate the visibility of national media attention and seeing local organizations posting ONE article on facebook, it isn’t enough.
Yes, I live in a conservative mire full of complacency and incompetency. It is frustrating, and a lot of times I want to give up. Even with that, I was lucky to be born in a city – no not lucky, privileged. I complain about being the “only one” in my city, and while in some ways that may be true, overall I am not alone. My friend in Chillicothe can not say the same thing: she really is the only one. Most of us will never fully understand what it is like to experience the level of isolation, fear, and frustration that rural trans* and queer folks deal with every day. For this reason, I admire and respect my friend more than most people I have met. Standing alone, she keeps fighting. It may sound sad, but to me it is a message of hope. For almost a year she has been trying to found a local LGBTQ group but she could not find a single business or church willing to host it out of fear of “being burned down.” This week she told me that finally the Chillicothe LGBTQ Peer Group is launching (see plug below). This is the example to follow. We must be in our communities fighting, working to building something real It starts at home, and whether you live in a small town or big city, there are things you can do that influence everyone in your state. The more visibility, support, and education we have the less people will hate us, attack us, and misunderstand us. One person being attacked is too many and one person fighting back is not enough. We need to get off our computers and start talking to one another, talking to our representatives, and talking to our children about how to make the real world better. We need community groups, we need legislation (see Ohio House (155 & 208) and the Senate (127)), we need it enforced, and we need it now.
If you would like to do more to help Ohio become safer for our communities’ youth, you can sign this petition for Ohio Safe Schools but remember that an online petition is not enough. We must make phone calls, write letters, and lobby directly in the offices of those who are supposed to be our voice in government.
For Resources and Support:
Chillicothe LGBTQ Peer Group
1st and 3rd Thursdays of Every Month from 7 to 9pm,
Fellowship Hall of Orchard Hill United Church of Christ, 105 N. Courtland Dr.
*The Chillicothe LGBTQ Peer Group is a secular (nonreligious) peer led support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer identified individuals to discuss their experiences living in the Chillicothe and surrounding areas, to share resources, and to create a greater sense of community and support for all. For more information contact us at LGBTQ45601@gmail.com.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have high standards. A cupcake shop recently opened up in my city, and I finally got to stop by. I took a bite and got a wash of disappointment from the flavorless, cake-mix mound in my hands. I knew it seemed silly to be so upset over a cupcake, but if I’m going to spend $2.50 on a cupcake, it better be a fucking awesome cupcake. If I’m going to spend time, energy, and money on something, it better be worth it. Same goes with life, if someone is going to try to give something to me, I’ll only take it if it is worth taking; if I’m going to live my life, I’m going to make it worth living.
Trans* gets dressed up a lot now days, from Chaz Bono to TV characters, the public is becoming more and more interested in our community, one way or another. And as conversations about trans* identities grow, what isn’t being said is one of the most important issues we face; the fact that around the world trans* and gender variant people are considered to be mentally ill. We are told we have Gender Identity Disorders (GID), a disempowering system that promotes the continual stigmitization of mental health variance and the pathologization of difference. The result is a continual lack of access, safety, education, and inclusion on a global scale. After 30 years a growing outcry from trans* and non -trans* communities have pushed medical and social organizations to slowly, but surely, denounce GID. Last month the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) relaxed the Standards of Care for trans patients in an attempt to minimize pathologization and increase access; a significant change but not a solution. In 2012, the global psychiatric community plans to maintain trans* people’s place in the list of mental health conditions through a revised version of GID called Gender Dysphoria (or Gender Incongruence -see also GD in Children) and an even more problematic version of Transvestic Disorder. WPATH quotes these changes as “a step in the right direction” but to me, and for many others, a step in the right direction is not enough movement. At this point, we are beyond taking steps. We are ready for a jump. I know what you’re thinking – we can’t just jump in unprepared, and I agree. The truth is that we are prepared. We have been working internationally to create policies to medicalize care and provide regulation, accessibility, and safety for a new age of trans* health.
This is about more than health care; This is an issue about quality of life; about respect, justice, and humanity. It is about the fact that trans* people are not allowed to be ourselves without the consent of someone else. We recognize ‘my body, my choice’ in terms of reproductive rights, but it is not only there that the phrase is relevant. I know that members of the medical and psychological community mean well, but just as good intentions don’t make a delicious cupcake, they also are not capable of keeping me safe or labeling me sane. I have many mental health conditions, my trans identity is not one of them. I have high standards, and I refuse to be treated less than because my identity is not considered “normal.” If society gives me something that I’m not satisfied with, I have the right to ask for my (metaphorical) money back. Today, October 22nd, is an international day of action to Stop Trans* Pathologization. If you have never talked about trans* pathologization before, start today. Tell your friends, your partner(s), your family; ask your physicians if they support accessible health care for trans* people, educate yourself and others on the need for change. This shackle on the trans* community influences us all. Stand up with us.
Stop Trans Pathologization 2011 (English) from Stop Trans Pathologization on Vimeo.
Pride’s over for another year, making this the week of recuperation for many local folks. I always need some downtime after Pride, but this year especially. Maybe it’s a result of long-term exposure to this oppressive city, maybe it’s a growing lack of patience, or maybe I’m just losing my touch a little; for whatever reason I find myself needing significant self care after this year’s Pride side effects of overwhelming planning, hours of work, heat exhaustion, and the annual broken heart.
I rushed out from the tarp-lined picnic shelter “dressing room” and stood beside the Northern Kentucky Pride stage. From the small park I could see the signs of the river, and my city on the other side. I thought of the Cincinnati Pride festival that would be held there the following day, and the involvement my fellow performers and I were denied. I looked at my troupe, exhausted, overworked, over-stressed, and emotionally injured. I was pissed off. We all worked hard, we all loved our city, and we didn’t deserve such mistreatment. Desperate for an attitude adjustment, I turned to one of my troupe members and gave myself a pep-talk: “We’re here for the community, and sometimes you have to put up with bullshit to make a difference. We’re here because we love our community.” I walked onto the stage and for the next thirty minutes I tried to forget my hurt and outrage and focused on creating something good. When you work for justice and inclusion there is only one road to take: the high road. Instead of creating a number that promoted the oppressive truth about community we have I painted a picture of the inclusive community I wished we had. (the stage was too small for us to do all of our planned movements, so some of it is a little spur of the moment). I told everyone to bring something real into it. Maybe it was the heat exhaustion or the pent up frustration or both, but by the end I unexpectedly broke down on stage. Thankfully T kept me from crying much, tears and glitter eye shadow don’t mix.
The next day I walked through the Cincinnati “Equinox” Pride festival in my home made “The First Pride was a Riot” t-shirt. I’ll admit it, despite my resentment I was glad to see that so many people had come out. It was a beautiful sight to see the city square bustling with “gay” – regardless of how white and normative that “gay” was. I lingered in the small collection of activist oriented booths – mostly national orgs; the rest were all corporate shopping. There was not a single trans focused or people of color focused organization there. I looked over the huge, wonderfully positioned stage, it only made me angry. I read over the 11 act line-up. It was clear that the issues of no having enough space were legit; I can see why there was such a stress about accommodating performers in the well over seven hours of stage time that day (surely you can sense the sarcasm, but just in case you can’t: please note the sarcasm). All the performers where queens or gay men except for the rainbow marching band and one performance group representing drag kings; a relatively new troupe that advertises itself as “the best in gender bending performance in the city” (even though few people have heard of them, so I’m curious as to where this title came from). Oh and did I mention that this troupe is run by the same person who did all the Pride performance bookings? I’m sure there is no connection between that and that there were no other kings allowed… I watched the small parade of churches, bars, companies, and non-profits; I tried to take it in, feel the pride of my community, enjoy the love I saw in front of me but it didn’t heal the hurt I was feeling. I once again found myself searching for someone like me and like years before, I never found them. I didn’t feel proud. I didn’t feel loved. I felt alone.
There are not enough trans or queer folks on this planet to ever justify non-inclusive behavior, especially in a place this conservative and oppressed. There are just not enough of us to allow prejudice, exclusion, selfishness, egoism, greed, or, most of all, failure. Notice that failure is not the same as making mistakes. This whole Pride ordeal (as it continues) is not a mistake, it is a failure; a failure to support the community, to take responsibility for mistakes; a failure at being inclusive and creating a space that everyone can take part in; a failure to listen to one’s own people, to accept hands reaching out, crying out for help, for comradeship; a failure to be proud of Cincinnati’s trans and queer community, the entire community. I am angry, I am heart broken, and while being able to conceptualize fucked up motivations of these organizers I can not rationalize them and I am finding it increasingly hard to forgive them.
I may not agree with everything Equinox Pride organizers do and I definitely abhor the way that they do it, but I recognize that they are a part of my community and therefore deserve respect and human decency. On the surface it may seem like Equinox Pride organizers feel that way too, but under the surgace there is dishonesty and egoism, privilege and separatism; these can never be constructive tools for healthy community building, no matter how good the intentions are. And despite my own good intentions this weekend I also struggled. Through my smiles I knew my composure was not as civil as I wanted it to be, I just couldn’t hold it together. I shook hands and smiled, I was polite and respectful, but I was not warm. I really tired, but like a dog on a leash I was caught, unable to pull myself from civility over into friendliness. But I also I wonder if it was better that way as a part of holding people accountable. Would I be enabling their behavior, excusing it even, if I smile warmly, embracing them like there wasn’t a problem? Or is it better to be civil and professional, yet reserved to show respect yet also recognize that the issue is there and unresolved. I wonder if I let my community down because I could not grow past my own internal hurt and anger. It is hard to keep running at a wall; pushing for inclusion and recognition, giving respect without any return, trying to love those who continue to prove that they don’t love you. And through the exhaustion, I am left with only one thought, “Why?” But this is my city. This is my home. These are my people. I am not giving up.
Today is my birthday, but I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to it – not because I’m upset about getting freakishly close to 30, but because of another event that is also falling on my birthday weekend; Cincinnati Pride. It might seem like having Pride on your birthday is a stroke of luck – I’m alive and I’m queer, what a perfect combo of days, right? Everyone is out and ready to party, everyone except me, that is. For me, my hometown Pride is never about partying, it’s about work, frustration, anger, and disappointment. Every year it’s the same… well, every year except for one.
My first Pride was a celebration. When I came out, I didn’t know anyone gay. I didn’t know anyone queer. I didn’t know anyone trans. I wanted to find community. I took to the streets in that tiny parade of a few hundred, walking past people peppered sidewalks wearing beads and blowing bubbles. I had no money for colorful boas or identity themed t-shirts, but I treasured the little rainbow flag I got for free.
Playing dress up at my 1st pride – not pictured: my 1990s jean jacket that I wore all day
[Image: Young JAC with brown hair wearing a white sailor hat and black sailor shirt, looking at the camera and saluting with two fingers – on of which has a batman band aid on it.]
All day I searched the crowds for someone like me, someone trans, someone radical, someone queer; I never found them. Years passed. I found that the city’s prejudice and conservatism that I had been fighting before I came out was not limited to the “straight” world after all; it was in the “gay” community too. Pride came and went, but my little rainbow flag had long since been put away. Trans and queer activism had become my whole life, day in day out – what was one day of partying going to solve? Still, every June I walked past the 10am drunks, down the trash covered street to the festival; performing show after show, volunteering along street after street, all for the sake of being “visible.” Always looking for that radical queer trans kid who was seeing Pride for the first time, searching for someone like them. I wanted to make sure they found me. I stood on that street; I got up on that stage to prove that there is a place for our people in this town. And though I continually said how I hated Pride, without fail at some point during the day it would hit me; “Yes, I love this community. I’m proud of my people, our history, our success thus far…” and then in a wave of corporate floats and wrong pronouns I’d come back to reality and resentment. But you know, it’s true what they say: you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Last year, Cincinnati Pride, now called Cincinnati Equinox Pride to include the business organization that runs this community event in partnership with the Cincinnati Gay Chamber of Commerce, was a hot rocket mess of issues surrounding organizational transparency and equal representation, involvement, and inclusion of trans folks, people of color, radicals, queers, allies, and lower income communities. After many people joining in the fight for inclusion, Pride organizers continued on without any actions towards reconciliation or solutions of any kind – with the kind addition of repeated personal attacks, forgery of my name, impersonation of me over email, and literal conspiracy by what I considered to be my own people. I guess sometimes the price you pay for rocking the boat is that your comrades throw you overboard. After that, I kept my distance for a while, secretly hoping without hope that someone would email me, or anyone, about how to do things better this time around. It never happened. From my almost exiled position, I occasionally kept tabs on Pride; a queer woman patronizingly told she could be the chair’s “assistant,” a pride organizer stating that trans folks “didn’t really belong in pride anyway,” and tales about disorganization, complaints about a lack of volunteers (despite doing nothing to obtain or include folks), and the kicker, tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt.
This year Cincinnati Equinox Pride was joining some of its organizers with Northern Kentucky (NKY) Pride, a new festival celebrating its 2nd year. I figured it was a good thing to merge the Prides, since we are such an over-lapping community. NKY Pride is very welcoming of all folks and my drag troupe, The Black Mondays, had great experiences performing there last year. I hoped that NKY Pride would be a positive influence on Cincinnati Equinox Pride. I decided not to give up and take the high road. If this was going to be my city’s Pride, then I needed to try my best to do right by it. The Black Mondays contacted Cincinnati Equinox Pride organizers about getting involved and after several weeks of unanswered emails, we received notice that we would be contacted about when we were to perform. The troupe was excited. After not being welcomed (or allowed) to perform at Cincinnati Equinox Pride last year (part of the issue of inclusion), we could put it all that behind us and start fresh – though I privately said I’d believe it when I actually stepped foot on the Cincinnati Equinox Pride’s stage. As the dates flew by, we waited and waited to hear from Pride organizers, our emails again going unanswered. Finally, it turned out that we weren’t allowed to perform at Cincinnati Equinox Pride after all. Pride organizers stated that were trying to bring “national attention” to Cincinnati Equinox Pride and therefore wanted to reserve the stage for big names, putting smaller names at NKY Pride –I guess because NKY doesn’t need national attention… I explained that if Cincinnati Equinox Pride wanted big names (a totally problematic and inaccessible concept) then we were what they wanted. The Black Mondays are a nationally recognized troupe who performed all over the USA, that we had headlined at Columbus Pride for several years, had been solicited by America’s Got Talent, and that we were being featured in an HBO documentary. When they learned this (cause I guess when they said they knew all about us, they didn’t know all of that) they said that actually it was because we were so big that they wanted us at NKY, to try and build it up. When I explained that we were already invited by the NKY board to perform, but thanks for trying to hook us up. The issue at hand was Cincinnati. We were in this to help the community, and though we love NKY, our actual home is Cincinnati and we want to be in our hometown Pride. Finally, after a week of excruciatingly long, borderline begging emails, Cincinnati Equinox Pride stated that we could not perform because there was no room due to a high number of performers. Now, I don’t know how much you know about Midwestern drag and “LGB” performance/music, but this isn’t exactly a bustling scene out here. If you have multiple stages, and over 10 hours of performance time per stage, how is it possible to run out of room? Even if you gave 10 minutes per performer on both stages, that still would leave time for my mom to step up and sing off key.
As all this was going on, I reached out to my network of activists searching for help, support, a solution, anything. I found out from several trusted sources that the chair of Cincinnati Equinox Pride had made a statement about me in reference to my activist work about Pride last year. He said that he specially wanted to “avoid upsetting me.” I still don’t’ know how to feel about that, but if that isn’t having an impact I don’t know what is. But all JAC ego boosts aside, who gives a shit about upsetting me? Do well for the community because it’s the right thing to do, not because you’re afraid of getting busted by furious radical activists with great hair. Afraid of a repeat of last year, I stressed to Pride organizers that our whole motivation for wanting to perform was to promote visibility of Cincinnati drag kings, queer, femme, and trans communities; that all we wanted was to make a space for our people. They assured me that it was “taken care of.” Call me an untrusting person, but I asked around to make sure. Turned out that not a single performer I knew, king or queen, was scheduled to be on the Cincinnati Equinox Pride stage. As of today the list of performers is still unavailable to the public. In the continuing conversation about performance, the Pride organizer mentioned a show that The Black Mondays are doing tonight which is being put on by another local artist to celebrate the Pride weekend, claiming it as a Pride event because it happened to take place during the Pride bar crawl. I called them on it saying that it was not a Pride event, and it wasn’t even listed on the Pride events calendar. The next day it was posted on the website, despite there being no true affiliation. Maybe it was another move to try to “avoid upsetting me.” It didn’t work.
Through further sleuthing it came out that despite Pride being in debt and their claims of awareness of the previous years issues of unequal (or non-existent) representations, once again Cincinnati Equinox Pride organizers decided to pay expensive “big name” performers (that no one actually knows because really, are there any real gay celebrities other than RuPaul? JK!) allowing no room for local performers – local performers who spend all year forging space in this city… We’re not a big enough deal to perform and be proud at our own Pride – though I’m positive that some local queens will get on stage since they know all the Pride organizers and… no further comment… And all these “big name” performers are brought in because Cincinnati Equinox Pride wants to get “national attention.” Now, can someone explain to me why a small city Pride needs national attention? The community doesn’t get anything out of it, unless we trying to prove to Chicago that we’re cool so we can eat lunch at the cool kid’s table. Direct from the mouths of Cincinnati Equinox Pride organizers (who are primarily businessmen from the Gay Chamber of Commerce) what they would get out of it is more traffic for their gay businesses; AKA money. But they can’t be that clever with money, considering they ran a non-profit event under a for-profit model and ended up in debt, not to mention losing a ton of sponsorship (including huge funders like Macys and Delta) due to this mismanagement. (yes, Cincinnati Equinox Pride, we do know about that.)
I bring all these issues about performance, not just because it sucks for us, but because of what it represents and proves: that Cincinnati Equinox Pride is a problematic, unqualified organization with goals not in line with what Pride is really about; community. What’s the point of a local community pride if the pride of the local community – its activists and its performers who work all year round for space, visibility, and rights are not recognized, included, or valued? If I wanted to celebrate someone else’s community, I would go to some other city’s Pride. At my hometown Pride I want to see my community, my people. And after another year of waiting, I’m still looking. Pride has no point if it is not centered on community. Pride is not about big names, fancy products, or money driven reputations. The first Pride was a riot. The first Pride was about human rights, about standing up and saying “This is who I am. I am not afraid. I am not ashamed.” To use a common community joke, size doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do and how you do it. What if Cincinnati Equinox Pride doesn’t impress other cities, is it a competition? Our people are homeless, jobless, without family support, without resources, without health care, without rights, but our “leaders” main concern is getting into pissing contests via normie, corporate crapfests. Sounds real productive.
It’s not that I don’t recognize that Cincinnati Equinox Pride organizers’ hard work – I do and I support them in trying to run Pride – a huge undertaking without a doubt, but good intentions only go so far. Our community continues to suffer and split because we do not support each other and we do not or hold each other accountable when we behave in unjust, problematic, or oppressive ways. Looking the other way or making excuses like “They mean well” or “You don’t know them like I do” is just being a part of the problem. The solution is not to kick people out of the community, not to scream at them, or to hate them, it is to say “You need to change, and I’m going to stand here and wait until you do.” It worked when my parents wanted me to eat my vegetables; Social justice to a community is like vegetables to your body – it gives you good stuff to grow strong and healthy and helps you get rid (aka poop out) all the stuff you don’t need or are better off without. (Sorry to get scatological, but it’s a good reference.) My parents made me eat vegetables because they love me. I want my community to be socially just and inclusive because I love my community, all of my community. Family is family, even when it’s a chosen one. And like any family, you won’t always get along, you won’t like everyone, but you’re still a family. We’re all different but in the end, we’re all in this together. And all of that warm fuzzy crap would work a lot better if the people in my communities who have more power than me, more privilege, would look back once in a while and remember where they came from. It wasn’t too long ago that they didn’t have it any better than I do now. I’m glad that the Cincinnati Equinox Pride folks are working hard to try and create something big and beautiful, but when you build something without the correct supports, it is bound for crumble and crushing everything beneath it.
In an interview with Rolling Stone late last month, Katy Perry is again quoted using transphobic language and promoting uneducated, transphobic mentalities. Rolling Stone removed all problematic language from all digital publications, but the quotes remain in paper print and thanks to our friends at Queerty, the information was reported on. I’m not ok with the use of “Bimbo” in the Queerty article title, but I appreciate the remaining sentiments of the text. Queerty reports Perry saying (in reference to her fashion):
“You can’t be a full tranny every day of the week, that’s an exaggerated part of my personality.”
Ok, not to be overly aggressive here, but if I had a no tolerance policy about Katy Perry before (which I did) it has exploded into a million more. What the hell, people? Why do our queer and gay communities continue to support this person? Wake the fuck up. If we are supporting people like Katy Perry, we are not supporting trans* people. GLAAD and other “big” “gay” organizations surprisingly overlooked the issue despite being previously vigilant about Perry with her transphobic tweet last year. As many of us know, GLAAD has been a little busy lately, but that doesn’t excuse missing a red-letter incident like this. Our community has long discussed and gone over the use of the word tranny, and pop culture has recently taken interest and decided to use it too. Am I the only one confused about why people think we’re so interesting? Besides our obvious fabulousness, that is. Are non-queer folks out there using other community words as hip catch phrases? Something like: “I’m so lesbian right now.” or “That’s fag-arrific, man.” Hmmm, maybe I should start using these… This fascination with trans identities comes from the growing fascination with gender and the bending of it – and while I think its awesome that genderfucking is becoming a larger conversation with more visibility, I am terrified of how that visibility is being built, who is building it, and where they may be taking it in our culture. Trans isn’t a hip thing I do to be cool, it is my life. I can’t avoid it, and I likely would have if I could because it sure as hell isn’t easy – can’t say it isn’t glamorous, but that’s just because I’m a fucking glamorous person. (JK!) For the trans community, being trans isn’t about being fashionable or cool. It is about surviving. We squeeze the fun in afterwards, if we’re lucky enough to have room for it. Despite our struggle, which has been growing in its own visibility, people fail to find issue in the growing tokenizing and exotifying of it.
What does Katy Perry give to queers? I’m told it is some form of viability, but I’ve yet to actually see it. I’ve heard people say “I know Katy Perry is terrible, but I can’t help but like her music.” Well of course people like her music. Most pop music is manufactured for that specific purpose, to make you like it. This past winter, while at a tech rehearsal for a show I was in, I watched a drag troupe run through an awesome number to a really fun song. I didn’t know the song, but I was sure I had heard it on some oldies station at some point. Everyone in the place was singing along, just like any “classic song” that people emotionally bond to when they’re growing up. Ever self-conscious of my lack of pop culture knowledge, being born and continuing to live under a rock, I smiled at the singing, laughing faces across the bar. I wanted to be cool too… I pretended to know the song, which wasn’t hard since the lyrics were as predictable as a romantic comedy. When the number was over I discovered that the song was not a 1980s hit I just wasn’t cool enough to recognize. It was a new song and not only was it by Katy Perry, it was a Glee version of a Katy Perry song. Double Oppressor Whammy! I was embarrassed about looking like a hypocrite and I was disappointed that I could never enjoy this fun song ever again. Does it seem silly to give up something like a song? I’ll admit it, yeah, it does. But is enjoying a song by an oppressor any different than willingly promoting any other system of oppression that I may otherwise benefit from, like white privilege? No, it’s not; its just a smaller version, a smaller cog in the bigger machine that works against you, me, and all of us in this community of underdogs. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” may make a lot of gay people feel empowered (not me, but apparently 1000s of others.) but what about the Asian Pacific Islander folks being called “orient” in the lyrics? What about Gaga claiming the word Chola? Gay people get something out of it, but the song is fucking racist. Plus its a rip off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, but I digress.
I’ve gone on and on about the mistakes pop culture continues to make, as well as how our own communities don’t seem to give a damn. Is anyone else tired? I’m remembering my bruised frustrations over the L Word series; my anger and confusion about trans supporters enjoying a blatantly transphobic show because even though it was hurtful to trans folks, it was beneficial to them. Sometimes being accountable sucks because you have to make sacrifices, but in the end I think its worth it. I might feel a little silly protesting a song that I actually like, but deep down I feel good about it. I feel that by giving up something that I could otherwise like, I am showing myself that I am willing to go the distance for what I believe in. You can’t pick and choose what oppression to fight, it’s all or nothing, even when it’s “only a song” or “only a TV show.” Folks say “I know its bad, but it makes me feel good” but we aren’t talking about eating a whole bowl of frosting while watching bad reality TV shows about beauty pageants (yes, I do do that). We are talking about cultural messaging that hurts our friends, our family, our communities. I think if we have to give up a fun song here, and a night of TV there, it’s worth showing each other that we care enough to make a sacrifice for those we love and for good of the greater whole.
An additional blog about the recent attack on a transwoman in a Baltimore McDonalds last week. There have been multiple rallies, vigils and petitions held to support the trans community as well as efforts to hold McDonalds accountable. And with all the efforts, new information has risen about what the motivation was for the attack. All of our first impressions were, as would be expected, that it was about transphobic oppression, especially because it started in a bathroom. But what if trans status was not the root of the issue? And if it wasn’t, why is everyone continuing to talk about TRANS?
Many articles are publishing that statement and comments by the survivor has supported it. However, in a video interview, she clearly states that the two women attacked her out of jealously and rage stating that the two girls” just wanted to pick a fight that night.” It was an attack over turf, not gender. Two young women (one 18 and one 14) have been arrested, neither of which have made any statement for or against the idea it was a “hate crime” or transphobicly motivated attack. The Mcdonalds employee who did the filming has been fired – as well as having made quite an impression on the internet community with of his transphobic tweets and comments– all of which he has now removed and recanted on, but not without continuing to use the wrong pronouns…
Whether this event was originally sparked by transphobia or not, the subsequent treatment of trans identities following this event still supports my previous statements about trans folks positioning in society. Furthermore, if trans identity had nothing to do with this, why is everyone talking about how this woman is trans? And before that, does this woman even call herself trans or are we labeling her? Equality Maryland -for some reason- is continually mentioned in articles as the representative authority to assure everyone that the survivor is a “transgender woman.” The woman herself has made statements that she has dealt with oppression because of her gender identity and gender related transition, but I’ve found no statements of her saying she identifies as trans. Several articles addressing the assault also felt the need to discuss her “sex change” and/or her past name, even though contextually it has nothing to do with anything else in the article. Yes, this woman is gender variant/trans/gender non-conforming, but what the hell does that have to do with this? Two women attacked another woman… where does trans come in here? Well, I guess we need to make sure everyone knows she’s not a “REAL” woman, she’s trans. Lets be sure to focus on that so there’s no mistaking her for someone “normal.” Its all just more gender-obsession and exotifying trans folks as an othered population. We’re so different, so magical, so fascinating that we need to dive into all the gritty details of difference. No chance of going about it as if trans folk were just as human as anyone else.
I’m not negating that trans/gender non-conforming folks are more risk than people who are not trans for violence and discrimination. Notice I haven’t made any “we’re just like you” or “we’re all equals” or any similar bullshit comments. The reality is that we don’t have an equal playing field here. Still, and at risk of opening a can of worms, part recognizing that trans folk deserve equal recognition via humanization is recognizing that sometimes we might get attacked for reasons other than the fact we’re trans. If I got beaten up, I don’t know whether it would be a relief or a let down to learn that it wasn’t about me being trans. Sure enough, a transphobic attack would (hopefully) get the community walking and talking which is always needed (though an attack shouldn’t be necessary to make it happen) but if I was attacked because someone was being a jerk, I wonder if it would it be some sort of weird, included-feeling relief that I was read as a “normal person” by my attacker… Weird way to think about passing politics…
And while situation likely had little or nothing to do with the woman being trans, it doesn’t change the fact that this really does happen to trans folks every day. So lets not forget it.
This is a follow up from a Bilerico post about a transwoman who was brutally and repeatedly beaten and dragged across the floor in a Baltimore McDonalds because she tried to use the bathroom. She received no help. Instead the employees watched and filmed it on their phones as she was been beaten so badly she had a seizure.
There is a video, but (TRIGGER WARNING) I will summarize for those who prefer not to watch the 3 minute long ordeal of two women relentlessly beating a (trans) woman, who tried to stand her ground, covering her head and screaming to be left alone. The employees stand at a distance filming the event on their phone. The attackers are separated from the woman several times, giving the manager and employees enough time to force the attackers to leave, help the shocked, attacked woman, and call the police. None of this happens. The two attackers are able to repeatedly hit, punch, pull, kick, and drag the woman across the entire restaurant where she begins to seize. The employees point and say she needs help, but do nothing as her limp body uncontrollably bangs against the floor, wall, and garbage can. The manager watches the attackers walk out and steps over the woman’s convulsing body, not even looking down at her.
The video; I decided not to post it out of concerns for whether or not I was supporting some exploitation or non-consensual filming, but I can to the conclusion that the visibility is important. I will link to it – this for one reason, to illustrate the lack of humanity here. If we shut our eyes to these things, we’re ignoring them. It is extremely violent and possibly triggering. Please be sure to take care of yourself. Before you watch it, know its likely that you’re gonna have this image stuck in your head for a while.
It’s horrifying, and it shows my jaded disposition that I’m not at all fucking surprised by this. Of course she got the shit beat out of her for simply trying to use the bathroom. Of course people made little to no effort to stop her attackers. Of course she was leered and pointed at like an object. And of course the video was posted online as some form of entertainment. At least they used the right pronoun when they were pointing at her shaking body on the floor. Should we feel grateful for that? Do I just not trust non-trans people? No, I don’t, plain and simple. Why should I? Every time I use a public bathroom this is honestly what I expect to happen to me. Am I paranoid? Well in order for me to be paranoid I would have to have an irrational fear, a fear of something unlikely to happen. Based on my history of being harassed in bathrooms, and the everyday example laid out for us right here, being attacked seems pretty fucking likely to me. I’m not paranoid, I’m just plain scared.
Watching this, I’m more angry than anything else. Angry this woman had to go through this, angry that even with laws and maybe even with non-gendered bathrooms, this shit isn’t gonna stop until society gets its act together. This is the state of our people. We are dehumanized by society because we are different, because we are ourselves. Would these people had acted differently if the woman being attacked was not trans? Possibly; it is clear that the well being of another person, a person being heinously attacked, was none of their concern. But we don’t know because she is trans, and this did happen. The other night in an interview with some young activists I was asked what I hoped to see happen for the trans community in the next ten years. I answered that I wanted to see trans folk recognized fairly in global society, be recognized as human. Our people can’t fucking wait another ten years, and still I don’t know if ten years is going to be enough time to make it happen…
So when people; bar hoppers, professors, administrators, bosses, politicians, activists, even friends and family say that LGB is enough, that the laws are enough, that we don’t need non-gendered spaces, that there aren’t enough of us to make changes, spending money worth it… that what we have now is “good enough” – show them this fucking video and remind them that this happens every day, people see it every day, and every day people look the other way, everyday people treat us as less than human.
You can contact Mcdonalds about this event to share your thoughts. Also, I want to give a special shout out toBil Browning of Bilerico, a blogger who continually works to support the trans community and our movement.
View UPDATES on this event.