trans

(1) Everyone Deserves Safe Work Places. (2) Self-Defense is a Human Right.

Two things.

The DC Trans Coalition released summary findings from the first phase of our ongoing Needs Assessment Project. Click the link to read the full four-page document, and see the press release below the cut or at our website. Please read it. We’ve put a lot of work into this project, and the information is extremely important.

I’d like to highlight one point. Over half of all 108 trans people surveyed marked the trans sex work stroll as a place that is central to their identity as a trans person in the District. The percentage is even higher for the trans women of color who participated. When asked about it, almost all described the (now heavily gentrified) stroll as a place where they hang out with friends, distribute resources, and make sure everyone there is safe from harm.

What does it tell us if one of the primary, tangible spaces where trans people (especially women of color) create communities and build networks of mutual support is also one of the most heavily policed and criminalized places in the world? And what if that place is also the primary work environment for many people within those communities?

Next.

In Minneapolis, a trans woman of color was attacked with racist and transphobic slurs by a stranger. A brawl ensued when the stranger, a white cis man, attacked her and her friends. The attacker was killed somehow, and now that woman is in jail facing criminal charges. This is the same criminal “justice” system that institutionally disadvantages youth, people of color, low income people, trans people, and feminine presenting people.

The woman’s name is CeCe McDonald. The Trans Youth Support Network has organized a campaign to rally around her. If you’re in the Twin Cities, join them. They are also raising money to make sure she can afford a lawyer that will help get her a fairer trial. Visit their site at Support CeCe McDonald! and show solidarity with working class trans communities who are targeted by the prison industrial complex!
(more…)

Advertisements

Silences Such as These (A Coming Out Story)

This is an old one! I wrote it years ago at my beloved hippie college. I was challenged by my advisory to write a personal narrative, so I wrote about starting hormones. I reflect on my life up until that point and attempt to answer the unanswerable question, which was demanded as a condition for being allowed to medically transition, “when did you first know you were meant to be a woman?” I’m still really proud of the result.

If you’re familiar with trans narratives, some of this might sound familiar. However, sadly, most trans autobiographies fail to contextualize the story within broader social histories. I wanted to talk about my identity as it both reflects and challenges a world where gender assignments are binary, naturalized, compulsory, and violently enforced. I also think about how my body interacts with the medical establishment that has been erected to maintain that very gender system.

I’m sharing my story because I haven’t posted much creative nonfiction here, and for all of the young trans folks who, like I once was, are pouring over the internet for empowering alternative ways to make sense of their desires outside of the prescribed Harry Benjamin-esque narratives of the medical-psychiatric institution.

Trigger warnings for mentions of violence and mental illness.
(more…)

Trans Liberation Books, Essays, Etc by Trans Women & Femmes (a running list)

Recently, I got a message from someone compiling a reading list on trans resources and noticed it was dominated by resources by/for male & masculine identified folks. This has also been the case in much of my experience. So I decided to start compiling a list of introductory resources about trans identity and anti-oppression written by trans women and femmes.

(more…)

An Anarchist in the Capitol: Thoughts on Identity Politics, Reform, Trans Liberation, and the Nonprofit Industrial Complex

I spent the past month or so working with the National Center for Transgender Equality. I helped coordinate logistics for their annual Policy Conference and Lobby Day. It was a wonderful (if at times stressful!) opportunity to gain useful skills while doing meaningful work with an organization I respect. I also met lots of great people!

I’m back to being marginally-employed again, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC — keep reading for explanation) and my involvement in it.

I didn’t enter “the workforce” until I was 21. Before that, I was mostly involved in black/grey market economies of various sorts. When I have been formally employed, it has mostly been either in service industries like making coffee or within nonprofit industries — first, as a case manager on the abortion hotline, briefly as a client advocate for sex workers, and then at NCTE.

While I am definitely part of and implicated in the NPIC, I have tried to remain critical about the strengths and weaknesses of the nonprofit model, and what nonprofit work can and cannot do. In short, nonprofit work can be valuable, but ultimately it can’t bring the truly revolutionary change this planet, and all of us, nees to survive.

(more…)

Transphobic Violence and Complex PTSD

As someone who is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, I sometimes feel like there is an expectation that my symptoms can be easily traced to one cause. Unlike some “mental illnesses”, where biologically deterministic theories reign supreme, PTSD is most closely associated with particular life experiences. PTSD is what happens after a car bomb blows up part of your convoy, or an earthquake shatters your windows.

I’ve felt this pressure — from friends, psychiatrists, and myself — to explain my PTSD as something caused by a singular event. Most commonly, I point to the time I was jumped just outside of my house. That was not the first extremely violent situation that ever happened to me; the first time of many I was queer bashed was when I was 13. But because this is the most recent, and because I have to walk by where it happened almost every day, it’s this one time that I feel most often in flashbacks and that continues to haunt me most severely.

However, I don’t think this is a very helpful way of looking at PTSD, at least not for me. It’s really impossible for me to isolate one event from the entire context of my life and say “this is what caused it.” The concept of Complex PTSD is a proposed diagnostic category that begins to get at this – it would be used to describe trauma from prolonged situations, such as “chronic maltreatment by caregivers” (which I also experienced, and I believe most trans people who had transphobic parents could potentially be placed under this). C-PTSD is the result not of one traumatic event, but rather a pervasive state of powerlessness and abuse. It was first noted as occurring in prisoners of war, survivors of genocidal atrocities, and child sexual abuse survivors.

(more…)

Reproductive Justice = Trans Liberation & Gender Self-Determination

In the u.s., today is the anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. As most of my friends know, I worked for a few years as a case manager on a fund for low-income people trying to access reproductive health care.

Although rare, some people in abortionland questioned my commitment to the abortion rights movement: “You don’t have a uterus, how does this impact you? How could you understand a pregnant woman’s feelings?” (Pro-abortion queer women, cis men, and women with fertility issues are often met with similar distrust.) Yes I don’t have a uterus. And that is exactly why I support abortion, because it makes me subject to anti-choice power structures as much as a cis woman (albeit if in slightly different ways).

As a trans and queer woman, my reproductive options are under intense regulation. Trans/queer women, especially if we are poor or working class, are often denied the opportunity to adopt. Reproductive technologies like sperm banking (extremely important for trans female people who want to conceive biologically post-transition) are expensive and inaccessible. Trans women with biological children have had their marriages invalidated and kids taken away by courts. In many countries, including much of canada and the u.s., sterilizing surgeries are required for trans people to obtain congruent identification documents.

(more…)

“The Best of Both Worlds”: Navigating the Porn Industry, Tranny Chasers, & My Own Trans-centric Sexuality

Content warning: Graphic discussions of sex, sex work, and transphobia

“The Best of Both Worlds”: Can a tranny whore also be a tranny chaser? Or: Toward a trans-centric sexuality. Or: How porn taught me to trust people and love my body.

This is dedicated to the amazing sex I had last weekend, and the beautiful women with whom I had it. Also, many thanks to Mira for clarity and critical thoughts.

Since transition, all but one of the people I’ve dated, hooked up with, or crushed on have been other trans women. I don’t care to reveal that number, but let’s just say I’ve gotten close to a lot of trans women.

Recently, I half-jokingly called myself a “tranny chaser.” My off-hand comment sparked an interesting conversation between me and a friend, who is a gay trans man. The heart of our discussion was this: I am a tranny whore.[i] Can I also be a tranny chaser?

Shemale Fan Clubs: An Introduction to the World of Being Chased

The term ‘tranny chaser’ is used primarily amongst trans women to describe cis men who aggressively seek out sex with trans women. It usually has negative connotations. The prototypical chaser is creepy and misogynistic.

(more…)