Politics of Love

This past weekend friend and I drove up to Massachusetts for the wedding of two friends, a lesbian wedding in a castle to be exact. At the wedding I was filled with joyous bewilderment – sort of like when you see something so amazing that you can’t even believe you’re seeing it. That’s what its like when I look at the bridal couple because they are both such good people. It also made me think of something I don’t think about much; romantic love. It made me wonder what are the fucking chances that this ‘love’ this ‘partnering’ can even happen, what are the odds? This was reinforced by the mood of the wedding which was more than just a happy wedding. It was clear we were celebrating a victory, the victory of these two people overcoming a society that did not want them together and be just that; together.

I don’t pay much attention to ‘gay marriage’ politics, and often feel aggravated how the “gay” movement has a one track mind on it, ignoring other important issues. But there are strong benefits to obtaining marriage rights. The USA has an unusually high amount of civil rights attached to a marriage license, who knows why. Maybe its our puritan roots. The fact that my two friends were able to get legally married will enable them to get everything from tax breaks to insurance to visitation rights, practical things for life. Partnering is so complicated, queer or not, when someone finds a good partner there is often that “good for you” mentality thought there, which can be really patronizing but it highlights how communally understood the difficulties of partnering are – and that’s without thinking of legal issues and shortcomings. In queer communities, on top of it being hard to find someone there is the extra stress of cultural, familial, and societal disapproval. When a couple makes it through all that, and still has more hardships to come against, you can’t help but celebrate. Like, way to kick society in the face and say “I love this person so fuck you!” I still think there are more significant needs of the communities as far as civil rights, but I’m gonna try to keep in mind that marriage is also important.

Cincinnati Pride or Privilege?

Cincinnati Pride is approaching, and this year issues have gone beyond the usual problems with Pride. Pride is a cluster of issues, visibility, consumerism and corporatization, access, politics… but this I guess it was bored of the old problems and wanted something new. One issue vexing Cincinnati Pride this year is location. Pride has moved from its ‘gayborhood’ home to Cincinnati’s downtown center, a change which has sparked some controversy. But there is another issue that is less obvious, and far more serious.

The project of Pride has been picked up by the Gay Chamber of Commerce, an organization focused on gay business success and representation in Cincinnati. “Doing pride fits right in our mission to promote the city and support our businesses.” stated George Crawford, 45 year old local gay business owner, member of the Gay Chamber Commerce and the Chairman of Pride. Support our businesses? But what about our community? The queer community is not made up of businesses and their owners, its made up of everyday people. He confirmed that the Gay Chamber of Commerce was using a project called Equinox Cincinnati to run Pride. Equinox formed last year to host a party for the purpose of, in Crawford’s words “to show the changing climate” of Cincinnati as a gay friendly city. (From where the rest of the community stood, it was a gay VIP rich folk only event.) I was surprised to learn Cincinnati had changed into an equality focused queer friendly city because as a visibly queer trans person working in the activist community, I figure I would have noticed if Cincinnati magically transformed into a mini-San Fran. When I asked about those who still did not feel safe, Crawford’s thoughts were that it was the queer community’s fault that they didn’t feel safe in Cincinnati. “We have the chip on our shoulder and scars… we need our community to get on board…” Get on board for what? He made a decent point in saying “We can’t continue to hide in a safe neighborhood like Northside [gayborhood]… we need to get out on the main streets.” I can’t help but agree with the on the streets part, but I’d like to know what I’m “getting on board” for, with who, and why. Crawford repeated words like “image,” “profit,” “income” and “reputation” – something very relevant to a business making money, but not very relevant to a community in need of resources.

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Ableism, Access, and Gender Identity Disorder

This past weekend I was invited to be a speaker on the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference’s plenary panel “Five on Five: Winning The Removal of GID from the DSM-5.”

[image description  – panelists standing in a line smiling] Panel: Kylar Broadus Esq, Jamie Grant, Dr. Becky Allison, Rabbi Levi Alter, Dr. Moonhawk River Stone , JAC Stringer

The panel was interesting, but with the conversations I could guess where the Q & A was gonna go. One topic was, deservedly, a focus: Trans vs. Crazy. Possibly the most common argument against Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is that trans people aren’t “crazy” so we shouldn’t be listed with mental health conditions. Its a simple enough statement but there is a huge underlying message here. When people say “Trans people are happy, successful people. We aren’t crazy.” they often don’t realize that what they are actually saying by default is “We are just like normal (aka good) people. We aren’t like those crazy (aka bad) people.”

I like to think I’m a pretty happy, well adjusted person who is also reasonably successful. And in addition to that I am bipolar, I have a panic condition with phobias, psychosis, depersonalization, OCD, PTSD, learning disabilities, self-harm, and suicide. I am what people consider to be crazy (and I have listed each condition specifically to fight my own hesitations about talking about it), and yet I’m a functional person who works hard to contribute to society along with millions of others who are “crazy.” Mental conditions and success – or even sanity – are not mutually exclusive. Yes, it can be hard to deal with this shit, and as a result I often don’t mention it. I don’t want people to make assumptions about me. Similarly, sometimes I don’t come out as trans because I don’t want assumptions put on me. But being trans is not a mental health condition, it is one of many points on the spectrum of human existence. With that you may ask “isn’t that also true about mental health conditions?” I would say yes. I can only speak from my own experience. A mental condition may alter my functions or feelings, and it may or may not be a bonus factor in my life, but does not make me any less of a person, or make any “normal” person better or more competant. And while I can’t honestly say this is a great way to be, I can’t say it is a horrible way to be either. Trans identity can correlate to that as well. My mental condition is not a weakness, it is a part of my humanity. My gender is not a disorder, it is a part of my identity.

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Lady Gaga Doesn’t Get It

Yes, that’s right. At the risk of being black balled from the queer scene entirely, I have something critical to say about Lady Gaga. Now, I like Lady Gaga’s music; I listen to it on a regular basis, I like her queery genderfucking costuming, and I plot multiple drag numbers to her songs. Upon first discovering her, I figured she was queer and was taking her identity to fuck with society, good for her. But now its become apparent that this ‘Lady Gaga’ experience is more complicated that just her being one of us.

In an interview by Times Online this past weekend, Gaga is described as having “legendary” devotion and promotion of “gay culture.” First of all, I think you gotta be around longer than a few years to be legendary. Second, I definitely was not aware that Lady Gaga had been appointed our PR rep. Gaga is described AND describes herself like she is the mother AND savior of queers everywhere, but when it comes to her listing “all the freaks” that she parents she names gay and lesbian men and women, but not even her own community of bisexuals!  And as usual us trans kids aren’t included, or maybe we are absorbed into the greater “gay.” Surprise, surprise.

Third, and most importantly, what exactly is “gay culture?” I didn’t know there was one big “gay culture” that all of us fit into. Last time I checked all “gay” people aren’t homogeneously living in one bubble of fads, fashion, and fabulousness. (The word does has homo in it, so maybe that’s where they made the mistake.) The author, who has a crush on Gaga so obvious that I didn’t know if I was reading a legit article or a 15 year old’s diary, talks about Gaga like she is a superhero or a ghost – hence describing her as legendary. The article records a trip to a Berlin bar/sex-club, describing the people there by listing the most culturally ‘shocking’ elements, just to make sure the reader knows this is a place where GAY PEOPLE hang out and have chain and leather studded SEX. Gaga is described as follows:

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What We’ve Got

I feel like I spend a lot of time, on here in particularly, talking about what we, the trans community, don’t have but should have, need but aren’t allowed, and want but can’t have. Today I think I’ll focus on what we do have. Yesterday Rocco and Katz (better known as Katastrophe and Athens Boys Choir) came to perform. It was really great get some time with other transguys who are around the same point on the path that I am. Honestly I think we maybe got 20 min all together talking about specific trans-ish stuff, but it didn’t matter because I like them so much, its been about two years since we last hung out.  Both Rocco and Katz talk a lot about their pasts in their work, and I love how they continually reach out to the commonalities we all have. No matter where you grew up, or what your life was like, trans kids and queer kids have a rough time. We all know what its like, which raises the importance that we be there for each other.

Katz (Athens Boys Choir), me, and Rocco (Katastrophe) posing very professionally after some fun coloring time.

[image: Katz, JAC, and Rocco holding up pictures they drew. Katz has a beefcake expression and holds a picture of a  ranch, JAC is smiling widely- 3 bug-eyed birds that he draws all the time, Rocco smiling widely – a frog with a long tongue.]

There is something particular to be said about chillin’ with other folks who have an identity like your own. One of my students recently came out as trans. When I first met him, I recognized him, probably because I’d seen him around campus, or so I thought. As we talked it came out that he was born in Cincinnati, and when I asked where in the city, who is family was, my brain rushed a wall. I recognized him because I used to babysit him and his sister. Last time I saw him he was about six years old, and thirteen years later, he still has the same face. I just had to hug him, and joked that he caught the ‘trans’ from me. It was an amazing experience because I had a history with him, but not a school history or a friend history, a history of caring for him, knowing him when he was a tiny baby, playing with him, teaching him, watching him get bigger and more alive every year… Now here he was, all grown up and just like me (except a lot better at sports). Today over lunch, he and I talked a little about a couple different trans-related topics, and as I talked I kept coming back to the familiar spot where I emphasize the importance of how we, trans people, rely on each other as a community. Not that other folks in other communities don’t do the same thing, but trans people have such a particularly unique experience, these complex journeys of figuring shit out in a societal structure that speaks to our out nonexistence. And we come from all communities, all backgrounds, and the complex overlapping of socio-cultural elements, sexuality and partnering, gender expression, identity, and more. No one’s got this but us, and who better to know how to handle it but us, and those who have come before us. So we don’t have a ton of history documenting us, resources to help us, laws to protect us, or even communities to love and accept us, but we’ve got each other. And as long as we hold on to each other, help each other, we can fight to get the rest of what we need, what we deserve. So if you are feeling down or isolated, just remember you’re part of something bigger, and your fight is my fight. I’ll finish off in the immortal words of Red Green, “I’m pullin’ for ya. We’re all in this together.”

Bad Parenting: Effects of an Noninclusive Movement on Queer Kids

This past weekend I had a fantastic romp to the University of Toledo.  I met some stellar students working their asses off to support their community, and ecstatically networked and made friends with who I consider to be one of the most significant drag performance groups in history, The Kinsey Sicks.

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With the Kinsey Sicks and UT student organizers Elizabeth and David.

This visit was my first official “keynote” slot, which like most titles, makes me sound cool and significantly more important than I actually am. I presented a new talk that I’m still experimenting with “How to wake up society in 500 calories or more – a sweet tooth’s guide to sex, gender, and the illusion of normalcy.” The topic turned out to be more relevant to my own thought processes throughout the weekend than I had anticipated. UT’s queer community reminded me very much of the community I was in, or more so on the edge of, during my undergrad at the University of Cincinnati. Now, both UC and UT are large state schools smack in the middle of very racially and economically segregated, (initially) industry based Midwestern cities so maybe one would expect similarities. But even without location, population, or environment, I think there is a bigger influence in play here.  Queer communities -campuses included-  don’t live in a vacuum. We are all exposed to the same oppressive systems, whether it is anti-queer discrimination and hate or “GLBT” propaganda.

Sometimes I can’t decided which is worse. Having one million monsters outside the door, or one hundred inside the house. Everyday queers are not only dealing with the oppressions of heteronormativity, but homonormativity as well. There is a division in the house of non-hetero politic, but I feel the familiar saying of “a house divided cannot stand” doesn’t apply. I think a house divided can stand, but that’s about all it can do. If G.L. Homeowner can only afford to give minimal upkeep to the house, naturally they will take care of the rooms they use most. If given enough attention, the chosen rooms can get to be pretty swank, maybe accent it with some nice furniture… but the over-all value of the house will be the same. It will never improve, it will be just good enough. And you sure as hell can’t let your family get any bigger than what the nice rooms can accommodate- to break the metaphor, better not let any of those gender non-conformers or people of color in. Surely they’re better off where they are out back. They’re probably happy there, and they’re used to it.

Normative conceptualization of queer communities is not accidentally spread.  National marginalization of under-represented, often non-normative groups feeds our marginalization in smaller communities, like college campuses. Smaller communities will naturally have less resources and need to reach out to larger ones, creating a cycle of stagnation with no new exchanges of information. Perfect example: Most people have HRC stickers not because they even actually know what the hell HRC is, its because that was all they could find.All they know is the equal sign means good and means gay. What more is there? Race? Class? Identity? Not relevant. We’re all one homogeneous community, aren’t we? We are starving our youth of information, and they are paying the price for the community’s oversight. If young people are struggling for resources and isolating each other out of fear or ignorance it is because the greater community has not given them access to the information they need to develop their own autonomous understanding of the complex diversity of the queer community. The lucky ones figure it out for themselves, only to be stuck swimming against the current, isolated and alone.

How much can we really accomplish if our resources are close to inclusive, but not actually inclusive? Is this neglect any different from heteronomative society not teaching us  about queerness? We are promoting the same practice of oppression, we’re just excusing it because its in house.  “We’ll come back for you when we have more to go around” too easily turns into “We forgot about you” which might as well be “We never gave a shit about you in the first place, cause if we did, we would have brought you along in the first place.”

Dear Census; Nunuh’yuh Beeswax

Before I got the census I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the “count the queers” argument that is being pumped up by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and HRC among others. If you aren’t familiar, though I’m sure you’ve at least heard of it, the general “Queer the Census” campaign is intended to alert the government that they need to count queers on the census. To do this the NGLTF and to do this you put a sticker (seen below) on your census envelope.

QC

Oddly enough, the “Queer the Census” sticker does not list Queer as an identity option… the reason being the good o’l “one step at a time” statement. Its a fuckin’ bright pink sticker with the word GAY all over it.  You really think that the word “queer” is gonna make it any more or less shocking to the bureaucracy? Some of your folks don’t like the word queer? Well, fuck some people don’t like the phrase “straight ally” and that is on there. And it’s not just queer. There are several identities missing in the sticker’s list, conveniently the more radical ones. One of my pet peeves is the overarching “TRANSGENDER” category, which dose serve a ton of purpose in many spaces, but not when you are trying to “accurately represent” communities. If one could argue that all lesbians share some commonality of being attracted to women in some way, you could not apply that argument to transfolk, either in identity, gender spectrum, or sexuality.  In response to the un-inclusiveness of the the NGLTF sticker, more radical communities created the “REALLY Queer the Census” campaign that is, in addition to being political, quite amusing.

RQC

The pro-gay (it doesn’t seem queer to me) census count arguments include that we need to be  “accurately counted” in order to correctly “reflect diversity” of the USA. Newsweek.com reported mixed stories of queers who have mixed feelings about being counted, mainly fearing the repercussions of what could happen if someone found out their census data. My initial reaction was “hell yeah, count me!” but then I started to think about it. If I was counted, who would know I was trans? Would it possibly come back to haunt me in my scheming for non-GID med records or keeping under the government radar? Would it somehow group me somewhere? Misrepresent me? The HRC assures us that census data is confidential, and punishable by jail time if you divulge information. But I’m not afraid of some renegade census worker, I’m afraid of the government that is housing the data. In 1942 the US government used census data to identify Japanese Americans, and we all know how that turned out. Who is to say that at some point it won’t be us put into camps?

Another statement of the NGLTF is that knowing a count of queers will help in allocating funding and resource to queer initiatives because people will know there are more of us… But what about the mass of people who don’t use the words in the white-western gay vernacular to describe themselves? There are loads of queers who don’t self identify as queers, either because of politics, practice, community, or language. Would they become even more invisible because they don’t use the language the census does? One good point that has been made is that adding queers to the census will squash the stereotype that all queers are white and wealthy. I donno how useful the info will be to the movement since the government probably won’t notice. That said, still the majority of the argument surrounds “head of household” identification issues for queer couples and marriage… surprise, surprise.  I can’t help but think this just might be another arm of the queer gentrification movement in the interest of the money-Mos? Is this about “reflecting diversity” or gaining another pointless symbol of ‘equality’ by doing something cause everyone else does it? Are we really that more empowered if we get to check off a little box of our very own? Are we any more or less human by being labeled as one thing or another? On one hand, I guess it is nice to know who is who for historical purposes, but in the big picture why does race matter on the census? Why does sexuality or gender identity? Maybe what we need to be looking at isn’t whether or not queers are listed, but why groups are listed as they are in the first place and what system is being used to allocate resources. If it is based off of numbers is that the right way to do it?  If there is a mix of races in a class room with more white kids than anything else, we still understand (or should understand) that all kids need and deserve the same level and quality of education regardless. We all need the same resources whether there is 40 of us or 40,000.

The spin being put out is that without the census, we queers “don’t exist.” Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I have been around for a while with or without the census. I need resources whether I am queer or not, and exist whether people know it or not. So, shouldn’t shit just be available to everyone? And I am ok with the government not knowing – or at least pretending not to know- that I’m a big o’l queer. I feel like it serves my purposes better for them not to know what I’m up to. They may need to know I am in Ohio to count population, they sure as hell need to know I’m poor so they will fund some resources for myself and my community, but they don’t need to know my race, they don’t need to know my identity. I get asked “What are you?” enough in my every day life, I don’t need a governmental classification. So fuck you, census. What I am is nunuh’yuh Beeswax! FACE!

France Removes GID, The World Trudges into Trans Rights?

Note: This happened over a month ago, and most of us never heard about it. Dude, we need to step up our community’s communications, myself included.

A significant event has occurred! France has offically removed gender identity disorders from its list of mental health conditions. The announcement was first made in May, 2009 by France’s Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot and came into effect this past February. France is being reported as the first country to removed gender identity disorders, and more specifically “transsexual”  identity from mental health diagnoses, first country of those that have GID that is, which is all countries in which transition is legal.  The NY Times quotes that gender identity disorders has been removed as a “long-term psychiatric disease.” Following in suit, Cuba issued a statement stating that it would also no longer be recognizing trans folks as mentally ill. One that is amazingly empowering, for a state address. Is this a new wave of countries getting their acts together?

Maybe, but not really. (I know you all were excited at the prospect of maybe getting an optimistic ‘good news’ blog from me, but come on, you should know better.)

Word on the street is that this very important step, is more like an important scoot if anything. French transfolk are quoted saying they are still not able to make their own decisions about their bodies and identities decisions instead of “depending on doctors and psychiatrists.” Though gender identity disorder is no longer listed as a mental health condition, it is still listed as requiring psychiatric care, which is confusing. Baby steps I suppose… Diagnosis or no, there has not yet been political reform to support the change. French transfolk are still unable to autonomously decided what they do (surgery or no), how they do it (what doctor and where), and what they can get from it (i.e. documents, name change). Folks are worried this is part of a bigger plan to appease queer French populations in leu of queer marriage and adoption legislation, among other wanted civil rights. Transgender Today has an excellent article about the state of French transfolk.

And though this  small victory for France is not what they had hoped for, it is a victory among a slew of past victories the USA is no where near to obtaining. France’s universal health care is reported to do a terrible job providing skilled doctors for trans transitional care, but it is covered. There is a thick line between covered by care and not, and another line between capable care and shit care. One purely good thing this news has brought, is it reminded me of the hidden pockets of transfolk who are also fed up with this shit. I am not the only one, you are not the only one. All over the world there are more of us working for our community. We are not alone, and will are making changes scoot by scoot. Well what do ya know, this ended up being an optimistic post after all…

MBLGTACC and Inclusion vs. Illusion

This past weekend was the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Ally College Conference, affectionately called MBLGTACC (mmmble-tack). It took place in Madison, Wisconsin, the home of my fabulous friend-drag-troupe the MadKings and made new friends with a troupe called DragKing Rebellion. Both are genderfuckingly fabulous. This conference holds a special place for me because of the rarity of a large, open queer space in the Midwest, particularly one that is youth focused. I was also excited to get to hang out with friends made last year as well as my dear pals Helen Boyd, Rachel, and Kate Bornstein.

I presented two workshops, one of which I ranted about Katy Perry and had to doddle a bird to calm down. haha, it was ridiculous. Good groups this year, and the workshops were shockingly packed. It was nuts and totally unexpected. Also, this year I performed in the hosted drag show which was super fun. The stage was carpeted, so I had to do soft-shoe instead of tap. Oh well. My friend Lisa got some awesome pics of the show. My flapper number was particularly popular, again unexpected because I was the only solo performer (all else were large, fantastic troupes). One person even gave me a pile of change, which traditionally in drag is considered an insult, but I saw their rushed, smiling face and knew it was actually a compliment. Later the person told me that they loved the number but had no singles and wanted to show support the only way they could. Its kinda one of my favorite things ever now, very touching. This was also the first show I have ever performed in where I was being rated by a panel of judges. It was an American Idol skit involving 5 audience members. One judge made a joke saying “I though you deserved the change, because you have totally changed my sexuality.” It was hilarious. I think I don’t fully realize how genderfucked I look when I perform, because I never expect the reactions I get. I think its that classic tale of never knowing exactly how you look to others.

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[image:  JAC – in a black and white fringe flapper dress, pink hair, lipstick and blue eye make up, white feather boa, and sequined head band. Smiling with arm outstretched singing to the audience.]

Also, all us performers had to throw in another number because one group didn’t come. I had no extra costumes, and instead of throwing something together from other people’s clothes, I decided to make a bit out of it and go in my skivvies. Also got some really bad rug burn and bruises since I was rolling around and dancing practically naked. All part of the job. :)

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[image: JAC on stage in black binder and underwear. His arms are up in front of him in clenched fists with a hopeful look on his face]

My scantily clad performance was not just a cry for 1500 peoples’ attention.  It was also a message. I have a habit of creating numbers with messages that no one would catch on to except me. As a performer I feel that sometimes it is important to have your own meaning to things, even if no one else knows what it is.

Throughout the conference there was a rising tension about the accessibility and inclusion of the conference of people of color, trans folk, and people with disabilities. Being friends with several organizers I was able to hear the sides of the organizers but since I myself was not an organizer, I was able to also hear that of the general conference assembly. I an only speak for myself from where my communities are. As a trans person I didn’t feel there was an issue for me. I will admit I am more flexible than some, but I am constantly on the look out for problematic things, so the face that I didn’t notice something leads me to believe that issues of trans accessibility were small. Plus, of all the people I talked to, which was a lot, I heard no complaints about trans stuff. When I learned it was about something so simple as bathroom signs not marking ALL bathrooms as all-gender, I got a little irritated. All bathrooms were originally labeled all-gender but the building staff removed the signs leaving a mens, womens, and unisex bathrooms. When I saw that there was a unisex bathroom I was happy about it. I didn’t care if it was titled unisex or had a new sign on it saying all-gender. Where are these people coming from where unisex isn’t good enough for them? I was just grateful to have the bathroom, and even one that wasn’t a “family” bathroom. Unisex vs. all-gender, pish posh. And its not like I don’t think I deserve something specific, as you all probably have learned by now I am heavy about what my community deserves. I just think that picking shit apart to the nth degree creates more problems that it solves. There is a difference between calling it out privilege and inaccessibility and being a pretentious and demanding. Often times I feel the people complaining speak for the entire community without asking us. Or aren’t even IN the community. So, I performed in my underwear to show I am trans and I care about this space, that no one has the right to speak for me, and that I feel safe at MBLGTACC even if it isn’t perfect yet.

EDIT 2.24.10: Thanks to a buddy of mine, I have been alerted to something I should have mentioned. Because I was either presenting or working the majority of the conference, there was a lot of things I did not see. One of the issues raised was pronouns and language, indeed probably the most common thing we deal with. More is included in comments below, I encourage you to read them. I think it further reiterates the fact that so many people are caught up in the illusion of-not just equality, but of education. Knowing about your own identity does not mean you understand that of others, which includes language and pronouns or how to just not be a shithead.

We are forever transitioning in our community. Accessibility is a major issue that must continue to have our full attention. One of the strategies for the planning committee for accessibility is to have no closed sessions next year in a move to include everyone.  I agree that we need to communicate with each other, foster coalitions, and educate ourselves and each other. That doesn’t mean we each have the right to know everything about everyone all the time. There is this illusion that in order to be equal we all have to be the same, that everyone can’t be included unless we are all in the same place with the same information. The same rights and access is not equal to the same EVERYTHING. As a trans person and a person with disabilities, I think this is bullshit.  I look forward to having some private community space. I want a safe space where people aren’t going to assume something about me, or ask a shitty question. I want to talk about what I am dealing with where I know everyone gets it. It’s not ok for people to come into community spaces just because they think our specific issues are interesting. Take an educational workshop if you want to learn something. “Learning” is about education, not entertainment and fascination. Its not always everyone’s business what a community is dealing with. I do not take it personally if a space is not for me, I feel others should not either. If you don’t like it, make your own fucking space. Its what we had to do. I can not label people by sight, and I won’t try, however I have been in spaces where I know people do not belong there. Even when prompted that it was a closed space they still stay, only later to openly identify themselves as someone from outside the community. WTF? Who do you think you are? You think its easy for people of color to carve out a space in a predominantly white movement with white language and white theories? You think its easy for trans people to fit in when all anyone is talking about is gay this and gay that, wrong pronouns flying, getting asked about their bodies, or being kicked out of their communities because they are who they are? I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me because my body is different, I don’t need anyone analyzing why I am not “healthy” like them. If you are able bodied, I don’t want to tell you anything about my situation and I shouldn’t have to. I think the result of having no closed spaces will not be that people will learn more, it will be that people, myself excluded, will just stop talking.

One thing I think is easy to forget in the confusion, stress, and hub-bub of big community spaces, both open and closed, is that in the end we are all in this together. What we need to do is make it the best for all of us in this greater house of queer, even if that means some rooms of the house are private. No one would expect to be allowed in the bathroom with you while you’re on the toilet. Why is that recognizable privacy but a closed session for queers of color is not? Or for trans-folk? Or disabled people? I think that people need to stop looking outside themselves and complaining, pull their heads out of their asses and and educate themselves for real. We can not get caught up in the fantasy of a magic utopia where we are all the same, because we are not. We do not all have the same rights, the same access. We can not pull through this together if we don’t respect each other, and that includes respecting each other’s right to privacy and space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tranny to Texas and Back

Back from Creating Change in Dallas! The conference was pretty small this year, maybe 2500 people. There were less young people than last year, but other than that there was a good representation of the community. I am actually pretty satisfied with the Task Force’s work in creating an inclusive, intersectional community- a rarity to come from a national organization. They have been increasingly good about having lots of stuff for trans folk, both from an accessibility and an activity standpoint and this year they added multi-lingual events and interpreters to the slew of accessibility options, which is most excellent.

I was very surprised at the number of radically minded folks this year. Often there is a surplus of pro-marriage, HRC humping agenda pushers but as the years go on they are appearing less and less at Creating Change. I overheard several conversations about the faults of the marriage movement and even dialogue about the Task Force’s name. (full name Gay and Lesbian Task Force). Mark, from QueerToday.com made an excellent post talking about the conference here. I actually don’t even recall very many cases of being called the wrong pronoun. It was a surprisingly safe space. In fact, for a trip to Texas, I made out surprisingly unscathed.  Short of some awkward conversations with taxi drivers about illegal aliens and what I am “activating” about as an activist, plus multiple run-ins with airport security, I made out ok. The city was surprisingly empty, and in many places reminded me of pre-2000s East Berlin -in a bad way. Guess I expected Texas to be immune from the recession. There were also a surprisingly large number of independent businesses on the outskirts of the city. Inside the city, aside from the art museums, it was more difficult to find much independent Dallas culture. I wasn’t able to visit with my sister, who lives in Denton, which was a downer and I had several health issues that made me miss a chunk of the conference. On the whole though, I got to do a lot of great stuff while I was there. Saw some wonderful o’l friends I don’t usually get to see, always good. And I did some great networking, which again is always good. I am feeling optimistic about the work to be done in the next year. This is a crucial time for a lot for trans stuff, and its important we keep working.

Also, make sure you are keeping up with ENDA and fighting the good fight!  We are coming down to the wire, March is almost here!

And now for some photos!

you knew there had to be a cowboy hat picture

[image: JAC smiling, wearing a cowboy hat]

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