September 26, 2020

I regret to inform you everything is on fire, and even worse, you’re the solution.

It’s the wee hours of Saturday the 26th of September. If the far-right band of genocidal shits that are the Proud Boys and their various hangers-on, from “Patriot Prayer” to “Oregon Patriot Front” (be warned, it’s bad) are to be believed, on the 40th anniversary of a far-right attack in Germany in 1980, 10,000 “patriots” are gathering at Delta Park. You know, what the city built over the remnants of Vanport, the unincorporated patch of north Multnomah County that in the 50s, shortly before Black Portland was destroyed again in the late 50s to build the Minnesota Freeway. I’m sure all these decisions were completely accidental, the same way the MRAs behind GamerGate kept “coincidentally” attacking the people MRAs hate.

And on this oh so coincidental date in an oh so coincidental place, these “patriots” seem to be planning violence of some sort. I legitimately have no idea what’s going to happen, because every 3 weeks or so there’s a far-right confab here in Portland. Sometimes it’s shit like this, sometimes it’s the various kinds of “trump cruise” or a boat rally or something.

I pretty firmly believe Trump knows he’s gonna lose. Not because Biden is a great candidate, nor do I really have any desire to get into the endless discourse about Biden. I just know that running the numbers a candidate going openly white supremacist, which let’s face it Trump has become, should cap the potential populace that’s going to follow him at about 35-42%. Now, is Trump likely full of dirty tricks? Yes. But we’ll talk about that in a moment, because the required self-flagellation of the Biden discourse is not why I’m here. Maybe we can get to that in a bit. (Vote with your wallet: the Tip Jar supports the coffee and beer that makes these blog posts possible.)

As a result of all this, I feel like Portland is on edge in a number of ways, but it may be time to realize that at this juncture violence may be unavoidable. As I blathered on about in That Post About QAnon, there is a very good chance that the far-right has already set these plans in motion, and planning for violence in their private chats plus the sheer number of people indicates that this might be the sort of event where violence is going to be in the mix.

Violence is what keeps me up at night, because in the YouTube-Twitter-Bot triad are producing all sorts of trash on the internet. Notorious grifter Andy Ngo, despite the fact he’s fled Portland and routinely uses others’ videos for his personal for-profit racket without permission, can pretty much feed the far-right the usual red meat they crave about Portland. The far-right obsession with this silly little river town is weird, almost like a municipal version of being stalked. It’s tiring, but it wears you down. Every day, I watch the protest footage and every day I fear for violence, clip video, run plates, and write OPRA requests. I can’t be out there because COVID and because PPB doesn’t let us hobblers use our walking sticks…but I can fight the war against the power of the administrative state. I can tell you who it is organizing the hate group calling itself the “Light Foot Militia” here in Portland because that set isn’t that great at opsec. It’s peace through superior firepower, the internet version. It’s always being one step ahead of the spider.

But you don’t come here for the negative takes anymore, do you? It’s not 2012. And I am one of THOSE people: I even thought 2020 was gonna be the year I got my shit together, got into EMDR, got free of my really base fears…and instead it’s been fires, floods, hotels, a move against my will, and now trying to nest without the usual help I have keeping my world from getting too messy. It’s been a shitshow. But on balance, North Americans…haven’t our lives mostly been shitshows since 9/11? Haven’t most of your years lately ended with you cursing that year and then the next one being worse?

I’ve got some bad news for you, fellow Xennials, Elder Millennials, Millennials, Zennials, whatever: we haven’t lived through this shit that’s been our entire fucking adult lives to fold now.

So did he tell you why he did it? Why you’re here? … Jeez-us! What a mind job. So you’re here to save the world. What do you say to somethin’ like that?

We have to…you know, save the world. We have lived through so much social, political, and ethical acquiescence, and it has produced our current reality, one in which the United States has chosen to consider old folks, disabled people, and people of color disposable so Chadney from North Andover (he never says the “North” in polite company) can get his fucking pizza shooters at Grizzlebee’s. The stark reality of what happens when the Middle Class Matrix falls has disenchanted more of you than ever, and guess what? Things are about to get worse. How much worse depends on how prepared we are, and how ready and willing we are to provide mutual aid.

I don’t know what I’m gonna wake up to this afternoon. I have hopes for minimal violence and people with tubas surrounding the hatemongers and drowning them out. I know that at some point between when I flushed the last fakes out of my life and now the Pollyanna streak is as wide as the fucking Columbia in my world, and sometimes it pays off. I hope it does here. It’s the optimism in the last “I know that you’re gonna be!” in Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen”. It’s what it’s like when you only started wanting to live on the wrong side of forty; you have to be a little optimistic to be that audacious.

The time to prepare for the potentially very bad but potentially positively transformative time is now. Have a plan to stay home. Have a plan to get the fuck out. Try to keep a reasonable amount of fuel in your car if you’re a driver. Don’t defer that oil change. Know where the shit you need to have is. No matter what, you need shelf-stable food, you need water, and you need to make sure your pets have a large food supply kicking around. Make sure you have everything planned carefully. Have spare masks, powerbanks, and make sure you have a self-defense plan. If you are not skilled with a gun, now is not the time to learn on the job. In other words, this is what it’s like living with a stalker. Finally, having PTSD comes in handy!

Make sure you have informal communication networks working. DO NOT SEND ANYTHING REMOTELY NOTEWORTHY OVER SMS. If the bubble is green, it can be easily seen. Use a secure proprietary service a la iMessage or get it all on Signal now. Not the night before something important happens. Check in every couple of days, even if it’s one sentence on Discord or noting someone in the household tweeting or posting on Faceyspace.

You can, and should, take breaks from social media, especially if you’re watching TV news. TV news right now is pretty much like what would happen if the Super Mario Bros. theme sped up at the very beginning: the news cycle has never spun with such speed and vengeance before and it can be outright tiring. Maddow strains to get it all into an hour and you can hear the waltz going faster and faster as you expect the theatrical trope of the news cycle itself taking life and bursting into flame.

We are in a place so far beyond our own cognition and many of you are probably wondering how the fuck we got here. I think we can talk about that later, but right now mutual self-reliance and having a defense plan are going to need to be important parts of ensuring we have a future in which to save this goddamned world.

Sorry, y’all. I’ve been dropping little hints about this for a while, but we are to a point that in service to all the other humans on this planet who should not be destroyed so Chadney can get his Pizza Shooters, and part of that is that we’re going to have to show some radical kindness here. No, you shouldn’t need to forgive your abuser. But it might be time to revisit some smaller misunderstandings or beefs in the name of, you know, being able to work effectively.

So time for some links about how, and a link to the song that tells you where we are and what it’s time to do.

Peep Waging NonViolence’s “10 things you need to know to stop a coup”.
ShutdownDC has a game plan for dealing with electoral uncertainty.
Read Zunes’ Civil Resistance Against Coups… (free PDF!) and explore some possibilities Zunes discusses.
Travel carefully, safely, and prepared. Move with purpose, keep your guard up in public. Change up your patterns slightly; go to a different Plaid Pantry on occasion, but make sure you’re not letting strangers into your building and double check that everything behind you is locked. I have had two very credible friends report that their computers had obviously been locally searched; in both cases it was an alleged “census taker” with no credentials.
If your area is hot try to subtly photograph the tags and flags of CHUD vehicles if you can. Keep them safe in case CHUDs do something less than legal.

Y’all…it’s now or never now.

September 24, 2020

QAnon: It’s not a cult, it’s a coup.

I’ve spent the past few months trying to avoid the various strains of plague rats. It’s been an adventure, but I’m still here, angry as hell about the fact that had the US handled COVID-19 I, too, could be watching football in a bar with my friends. Instead I’ve watched the slow, terrifying descent of the United States into a munted fuckbanquet where seemingly innocent tag groups on Facebook have morphed before my horrified eyes into “help the children/find the children” groups that are rife with the complete far-right fantasy that is QAnon.

Smarter people than I say QAnon is a bunch of Nazis. I mean, QAnon is just a shiny label on out and out genocidal Fascism. Oh yeah and they’re SUPER DUPER ANTI-SEMITIC.

I firmly believe QAnon is trying to foment political violence in the United States and is very close to having a formal body count, rather than the rather convenient “coincidence” that mass killers seem to keep being linked to far-right movements. In other words, buckle the fuck up, Buttercup, because the current tragedy gripping my beloved home, Oregon, seems to be getting programmed for this violence.

The tag groups that were once for harmless stuff like posting memes about Oregonians who couldn’t drive in the rain. (There’s a LOT of those!) They have become “save the children” or “stop slavery” groups, where they follow a very specific arc: a certain specific group of people, often completely clueless about basic local geography, customs (like how Oregon votes entirely by mail), the capital of the state (Salem, not Portland), and often with similar names. One such repeating character calls himself a Pastor and constantly shills various supplements and reposts memes about how masks are “muzzles” and being used by “them” to abduct children. If you doubt the narrative, you disappear from the group. Posts that once were about bad parking are now repeated memes from groups with lots of Qs and the word “PATRIOT” in their name. And those memes are about…well, some unpleasant things.

Here’s some samples of the level of discourse in this group. These are all posted by group admins. This isn’t some random human being in the group. This is, however, what your family members might see as authoritative…and once again, Oregon votes entirely by mail and this is an administrator seeding doubt about voting by mail:

Sometimes you’re “required to sign up” for one of their “anti-slavery” protests. As you may know, one of the core themes of QAnonsense is the wild claims about sex trafficking that are not just hellaciously wrong, but they often blur the actual issues. I won’t go into too much detail about Qanon’s wild beliefs about the people they target (the Daily Beast did a better 101 anyways); instead, I will politely point out that much of QAnon’s “concern” about sex trafficking is note for note identical to the completely discredited claims of “Satanic Ritual Abuse”. I’m a real live child sex trafficking survivor; I know a few others. Literally nobody went through anything like what is described by QAnon or SRA, and…well, as Prostasia Foundation raises, this kind of nonsense literally silences survivors and actual networks used to sexually abuse and exploit children. In other words, QAnon in and of itself provides cover to actual child predators. Oh, and much like in the most corrupt and galling example of using “satanic ritual abuse” to target disabled people, much like the monsters who pointed fingers in Wenatchee knowing exactly what they were doing, QAnon considers us suspect, too.

Wenatchee is important not just because it’s a great word for confusing new newsanchors, or because it has cheap power and fantastic skiing nearby (Mission Ridge deserves more love), but because Wenatchee was both the last example of the “ritual abuse” mass fabrications from the 80s, but was also the one in which the investigation snagged Child Protective Services staff as enabling most of these prosecutions. Had an intrepid reporter from KREM not blown the lid off the fabrications, innocent people’s lives would be wrecked. And yet, the same bloodlust, the same tropes, the same idea that there is some coverup so massive that it is almost impossible for it not to have been blown by now…powered by the people who were so hellbent on the irrational belief that they made it so.

When QAnon screens for its true believers, there’s a scarier wrinkle to it: nobody really knows who or what powers QAnon. No, really, even Snopes punts on this. Because we don’t know who powers the “drops” or who is sending the orders claiming that there’s proof some random person who so happens to be Jewish is secretly a child molester. This proof so rarely pans out, but I do idly wonder why the same pattern keeps repeating over and over: one small core group of people (often themselves a page controlling another page, a sort of twisted Facebook parody of an LLP) gains control of the page and begins spewing the thick layer of QAnonsense. Anyone who doubts is run out, and then the constant spam of “events” like this begins:

If you ask any questions, you’re harangued for supporting “slavery” or “listening to the l*mestream media” or, of course, of being “antifa”. You know how it works, an ideology of checks notes opposition to Fascism means that what used to be checks notes EAST CLACKAMAS BUY AND SELL is now some nonsense about “child trafficking companies”. Now, what I feel like these groups are doing is harvesting the easily duped, the people who make the best true believers. Having watched this arc repeat in 5 or 6 different groups, I can tell you that the pattern repeats.

Now, I was going to sound completely batcrap about the “true believers” thing, but Bellingcat helped my drivel immensely by a)being awesome and b)summing up an example of something much like this, so I’m going to point you to Bellingcat to sum up what actually happens with far-right “patriot” groups. The groups are used to locate the true believers, and then the same people who pushed the group agenda in the first place are free to discuss what they’re actually planning. And let me just let you in on a little secret: it’s not a barbeque.

I am watching my white liberal friends realizing that the far-right is going to engage in whatever dirty trick they can to retain power by effectively nixing or overriding the upcoming election. I also have made it very plain that I have made up my mind that I’m gonna vote and no amount of ecru people yelling at me about it is likely to change it. I’m terrified, but also kinda privileged in that I get to vote at home, where I can wear my pajamas, get blazed, and not feel quite as much compunction as I always do in settling. I live in a really white state, and Trump is pivoting hard on the white nationalism at the same time our home’s on fire and the more he seems to flail in the polls. In other words, do you believe it’s any accident that these various Facebook groups vaguely affiliated with QAnonsense are becoming less and less subtly white supremacist? Because from the selfsame group, look at these lovely recent additions, including an allegation that responding to LITERAL WHITE SUPREMACIST PROPAGANDA is “hate”…oh, and some hyperventilating about a BLM vigil at a park downtown…that happened like 10 days ago. Now, tell me, what’s “demonic” here?

I do not know who controls the horseshit that people somehow take as Gospel that is QAnon. I do know that there’s four particularly concerning factors working in concert that make me believe that QAnon may actually be a coup near to (or perhaps even past) its tipping point:
* Trump is suddenly, faced with poll numbers, “joking” far more frequently (he’s not joking) about disregarding the results of the election if he doesn’t like them;
* Those of you who aren’t used to vote by mail states don’t know the dark evil secret of vote by mail states: the results of an election are rarely known on Election Night, and this will lead to significant injection of “alternative facts” from the Trump camp;
* The increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric from the ugly seam where QAnon/Trumpism has effectively eaten and destroyed the Republican Party to such a place that QAnon is functionally a Qordyceps; you know, that badass fungus that makes zombie ants and…is in your mushroom coffee? The way misinformation spreads is much like the fungus; by the time you see it, that ant’s screwed. The GOP has acceded to becoming a crime syndicate under Trump. Oh, and if you’re a Republican saying ‘you just hate Republicans’…no, that’s not it. Conservatives, which many Republicans used to be before Trump, have loudly and firmly eschewed QAnonsense. In fact, some of the best behind the scenes investigative work on QAnon is coming from someone I would consider right-leaning.
* The fact that there is already election interference occurring on the part of the Trumpies, and QAnon groups frequently chatter about “election security”. The Bellingcat article linked above discussed people keeping armed guard around Oregon ballot dropboxes; I mean, if that’s not voter intimidation, I really don’t know what is. I believe, unfortunately, that there will be significant violence on Election Day, probably at a high-profile location in the East to produce as much of a panicked ripple effect as possible.

I think this is a coup in progress. I understand that I will end up on all kinds of Bad Leftist lists for this, but I do think preventing a coup by a force completely unknown to us which would have deleterious effects on basically everyone who isn’t a cishet white abled man is probably a good line in the sand. I’m not saying rah rah America, or that voting solves all our problems. I do think loyal soldiers of some force that’s against the continued process of democracy in this Republic — for all its warts, problems, and evils — are a hostile force, a group of people committing what is no less than sedition. People are effectively swearing out loyalty to the false prophet, the golden calf of the Internet that is QAnon.

It’s horribly cliché to end with an Orwell quote, but the complete fantasy world of QAnon and the absolute loyalty it demands to what is effectively the People’s Temple of Trump alas inspire what Mr. Orwell cautioned against: The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

September 10, 2020

You may think I don’t understand, but it’s that I don’t believe you.

One of my dear friends is my college roommate’s sister, who’s now a rabbi in the North of England. She has managed to go from Southern Nah Hampsha Ames cashier and Rabbi’s Kid to…a happy, cheerful servant of G-d in the North. In ordinary times mentioning her would involve some sort of soccer/football snark, but instead I will repeat the text she sent me in May:

“I take it your 2020 is a bit of a bother. How are you?”

The understatement was so classically English, in the best possible way. And what we’ve seen since…well, I am not entirely certain since I am neither English nor able to summon that level of…detachment, but I’m pretty sure it’s arisen to a bother.

I live in Portland (Expletive) Oregon. You know, the second Portland, across from the first Vancouver. As you may have noticed, we’ve had a pretty interesting summer here in Portland: the Police Bureau is out of control, the far-right is trying to gin up conflict, there’s been a shooting which may or may not have been self-defense but the Feds killed the dude so we’ll never find out, and oh yeah we have an election coming up.

Our POS Mayor Ted Wheeler has refused even the most basic calls for police reform, which is bizarre given that he ran on a platform of fairly wide-ranging police reform. Ted’s the kind of guy who has no problem ignoring police violence, blaming an unarmed Black teenager for being murdered by the Police Bureau, and oh yeah he’s been, you know, standing by whilst protesters get gassed, press gets arrested, and…well, being Ted Wheeler.

Trouble is when we went to a runoff, I rapidly noticed something: there’s a lot of brand new Twitter and Twitch accounts yelling at me for who I’m voting for. I know and trust Sarah Iannarone, and screaming at me that I’m not a good enough halfrican for voting for her is…just gonna pause here and point it out: an anonymous white person yelling at voters of color.

I can give you some highlights: in a Twitch chat, someone with a then-brand-new Twitter account imparted that I was a cop because I had some sense of how the Police Bureau would respond because of YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WITH THE POLICE BUREAU. Yes, it’s a bureau. Because we’re Portland and we have a weird city government structure, a City Commission, not a City Council. That person then informed the chat that I was a man. Repeatedly.

The next day they’d changed their Twitter bio to claim transness, which they used as a defense. Now…I’ve seen this before, and I’m gonna do my best to avoid the long side trip down this corridor to be minimal. I have no idea if this is a person, a bot, or what-freaking-ever. Are they trans? No freaking clue. But is it part of a pattern of rapidly appearing Twitter accounts who believe they get to yell at me for not writing in a longshot candidate? You know, in an election that’s going to be tighter than that XL t-shirt from colle…actually, let’s just make a bag out of that, okay?

There’s something going on, and I have no idea who’s behind it, but I feel like there’s a bunch of Caucasians and/or bots, often whom perform an almost stupendous amount of self-flagellation for being white (making it about them, because of course they do) who have instructed Portlanders of color that we should trust a magic list of “pledged voters”. So being that unique combination of smart enough to know better and stubborn enough to ask questions, I asked some questions.

In every case, I got blocked. Seems legit, bro.

I think, and this is in part conjecture and in part familiarity, that this is no coincidence. I live in East Portland, the sprawling part of town that all your inner NE hipsters dismiss as suburban and dangerous. It’s neither, but it’s not like anyone who only gets their groceries delivered and their coffee handed to them would lower themselves to interact with those of us who are “those people”, right?

This is why I call BS. You see, this write-in campaign, espoused by the people who claim both candidates are the same (where *have* I heard that before, often aimed at shaming voters of color?), has -0- plan for East Portland. More sidewalks? Better transit? A culturally relevant joke I’m supposed to make to soften this? Nothing.

You know when you see everything lighting the hell up in some place that obviously isn’t downtown? That’s either the East Precinct, where the Police Bureau puts its worst and whiniest, or alternately the North Precinct, hard by the nest of vipers that is the Portland Police Association. The latter is what used to be the “bad” precinct; North Portland and inner NE had a large Black population. In the building I used to work in, there’s a picture of Minnesota Street, a place I know of only from my great-grandmother’s words. It was the first wave of relocation. You know, after Vanport flooded. You know, before the 90s trust punk wave. You know, which came before…whatever the hell they’ve done to North Williams Street.

The “bad part of town” (lol) has moved. That’s East Portland now. 70% of the City of Portland’s people of color live here. Do I think my chunk of town is bad? No. It’s more gentrification-proof. Nobody’s putting up an artisan salt shop on Outer Division. So you can understand why I’m a little confused that a Black write-in candidate, whose backers specialize in yelling, has no plan for where 70% of us live?

I remember 2016. I remember 2000. They bookend my adult life; I was a junior in college in 2000, and some bad stuff happened that summer…and had just lost the best job I’d ever had, a temporary commission which had real health insurance and stuff, in 2016. Both times, smiling white voters told me I could trust them. They wouldn’t throw us under the bus, right?

Both times, we went under the bus. In 2000, I still think we have no bloody idea what really happened. In 2016, a majority of Caucasians voted for him. I think my tortured relationship with my own racial background is obvious, but there’s something to be said for having seen enough, and right now, I’ve seen enough. I don’t trust your “registry”, I don’t trust vote pledge promises from Caucasians, and I sure as hell don’t trust people who lose nothing from four more years of Ted Wheeler.

I’m sure a bunch of bots or misguided newcomers from places like…Tinley Park, Illinois who have somehow decided to inform Black/Brown/Indigenous/Asian people how to vote don’t have my best interests in mind. Rich kids from 93.5% white suburbs throwing condescension and invective are…not really the people who have skin in the game. Sorry, but it’s time for the majority of us who don’t have trust funds to act, because guess what? North Williams Street. That’s what y’all do to us when we have our backs turned. I can’t drive/ride up Williams without shedding a tear. I close my eyes on the bus; this was never mine, but it was my great-grandmother’s, it was my grandmother’s, and now it’s a New Seasons I can’t afford to shop at.

Nobody there has skin in the game: they’re just here before they go on to wherever they’re gonna gentrify next, and it’s frustrating as hell because when you’re mixed, there’s not a lot of places you can live in the US any more unless you’re willing to choose one side of the color line. When you’re trans, basic healthcare is a crapshoot. When my friends make wistful posts about wanting to move to a small town in Upstate New York, you have no idea how much I wish I could be there, too. Do I dream of running like hell every day? And every night, too. But there isn’t another there there anymore and because, selfishly, my life has been defined by displacement, and Portland is a town full of ghosts for me. This is…home. This is where I have skin in the game.

This election, for Portland, is about skin in the game. Is Sarah Iannarone perfect? No, she’s not, and frankly I think one of the better conversations I’ve had is the “just so you know when you beef it we’ll be yelling at you, right?” Because this is Portland, and there’s always going to be something going on that you don’t like.

But a weird, evasive, scammy “write-in” campaign which is more lousy with Caucasians than Tinley Park? I think that perhaps one should consider that Ted Wheeler has a paper which is essentially his press organ in the Willamette Week, presently running an unsigned yet breathless defense of the man, that the selfsame paper has run hit pieces on anyone who dares oppose Ted, from Jules Bailey’s coming-out party as a homophobe to a slam piece on Ms. Iannarone’s scraps with the law (that she’d…never hidden…) and pulls a lot of weight with the faux-progressives of Portland.

You know the sort. They have a Black Lives Matter lawn sign, and one Black friend. Portland is lousy with this nonsense, but one of the big advantages to living out east is that people like that don’t come out here. They don’t shop at our Safeway (ps: we still have self-check unlike you poor souls in inner SE), they don’t wait for the 73 in the rain, they don’t understand that any MAX train marked 191/Ruby Junction is an entirely different Blur Line experience than one marked Gresham, and they complain there’s no “authentic” Mexican food in Portland because, well…okay listen the whole “authentic” thing is a weird exotifying in this TED talk (no seriously read this article) but they don’t come out here, partially because they don’t understand that all the signs being in Spanish doesn’t mean nobody speaks English, and partially because I’m not telling you where my birria guy is on WordPress. Ask me on Twitter!

They don’t know their city. They know their bubble. But people in my bubble of Centenniaockwoodfairington are expected to understand every last bit of what happens on the light side of 82nd or the big money side of Cesar Chavez. Which, because it’s Portland, half the traffic reporters still say funny. Our concerns are dismissed as remote, as “ha ha don’t you live in Gresham anyways?” (uh…so? 7 Mares is in Gresham anyways!) As that of some other city.

70 percent of Portland’s people of color deserve a plan. We deserve to not be slagged as a distraction or somehow a sideshow. We deserve a goddamn plan for making 122nd safer on foot. We deserve a radical rethink of Portland’s racist-as-hell Neighborhood Association structure, which favors homeowners and landlords rather than the people themselves. We deserve competent leadership at the local level after 4 years of an absolute ignorant prideful buffoon in City Hall and the White House alike. We deserve leadership that has a plan for shielding the most vulnerable if Marmalade Mussolini somehow steals/wins/prevents this election.

I’m going to go with the person with the plan, not the person with the bots and vague promises but no plans, and sure as hell not Ted Wheeler.

August 27, 2019

on bullsh!t excuses or get off the internet, I’ll meet you in the street

The 27th of the month seems to be a delightfully cyclical bottoming out. I’m not doing all that well, fam. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life and the rapidly accelerating pace of internet discourse has gotten to, I shit you not, the point of being informed that I’m not just an alt-right plant, no, that I literally am a “tankie” that supports genocide.

The internet isn’t where our future is.

Trouble is, the internet’s all I’ve got. My public-facing opportunities to comment on trans stuff aren’t many because I’m not out; but the response to that is that I really don’t know how to deal with people offline without a lot of screening, without a lot of observation.

So if I’ve blown you off for a seemingly baseless reason, or objected to the presence of a stranger, it’s blood simple: I’m afraid you’ll hate me for how fat I am, or pull something that effectively says the same thing, like “I didn’t think you meant *that* fat.” Yes, people have used just those words.

I don’t know how to screen for that in a situation where not getting on with someone is basically *carte blanche* for them to wreck your life, because the assumption that every person comes into a trans space with sexual intent (and please explain for me what the hell else screening for attractiveness in who is welcome is) given the level of hypersexuality (for defensible reasons, frankly…people whose sexuality has been repressed tend to be that way…trust me, I used to be Mormon, I GET IT) in our community. But that creates a nasty additional level: not only do I have to make sure this person doesn’t think I’m a man because I’m fat, I have to try to figure out how to assure people that’s not my point…without, you know, insulting them.

I don’t want people to make that assumption about an outsider, and I really think this is one of the most frustrating things I deal with: you can be let in without these assumptions being made about you if you do enough, and the criteria for that enough is never discussed or commented on. It’s just the eternal “You just haven’t earned it yet, baby.”

I’m lost. I don’t think constantly ducking other people is a good solution, but at the same time being consistently judged on how much I clearly denote that oh my god yes I am fat and having that still be judged insufficient is really goddamn tiring. I’m afraid that there’s no way to translate “online following” into “offline circle of safety” because I don’t know how to dodge Miranda who thinks intersex people are all self-hating trans women or Becca who thinks it’s hilarious to mock fat people or or or. The potholes are many, and the fear of what happens when I hit one more crippling than my arthritis.

I don’t want to be a divisive issue because I’m fat.

But I am a divisive issue because I’m fat. 

And believe you me, it feels more alienating much anything else. So…if I blew you off, or panicked about a guest, and then disappeared, this is why. I’m sorry, but…I don’t feel safe taking chances because I’m sick and fucking tired of being upbraided by people who are my supposed peers for being fat. And there’s no handy-dandy checklist, it involves a lot of observing.

And yes, this is why you don’t get pictures of me. This is why a lot of things. I do hope that clears it up a bit. Not because I’m a “tankie” who believes in genocide, no matter what Twitter tells you.

July 27, 2019

having lost my religion, or hope thereof: why I didn’t convert.

My therapist says I should put more out in the world. This is an experiment, a long reply from Facebook that I realized really was more of a blog entry.  I’m trying this opening up thing again, it worked the first time around.

I got close, as in did enough hours and all that, to converting to Judaism when I was in college. I have generally, with a couple of exceptions, refused to talk about why. It was too painful, it *is* too painful. It makes me angry, much as I don’t like talking about anger, with other people who have been allowed to convert (because you were allowed to and I wasn’t, to be clear, not because I’m angry you did, just…the desire to be allowed…) and why I feel so bitter about why I was denied it.

It comes down to the allegation of “attention-seeking.” This is a very easy way for someone who wants to silence all narratives and experiences that don’t line up exactly with theirs, or more to the point, with narratives they can’t maintain control over. It amazes me how much trans women feel entitled to decide whose narrative is and isn’t valid. Why does someone being an “autogynephile” mean anything? Who gives a fuck? I know who autogynephilia is associated with: a forced-birther rapist, Anne Lawrence, and with such fringe elements as Willow Arune, who authored some of the most mind-numbingly racist things to hit the internet.

Trouble is, most autogynephiles are boring-ass normal human beings. So what if their reason for being trans or femme or what have you is getting themselves off? How does that diminish you or I?

It doesn’t. But because autogynephiles have a narrative that’s not “normal”, they are punished as a class, because their loudest representatives were the worst people.

“Attention-seeking” is an easy way to silence the conversation. It says that you, pleb, have stepped out of line. You aren’t behaving the way you’re supposed to. But it ends the conversation, because the accusation of “attention-seeking” is used by armchair psychologists to “diagnose” far worse things. It’s a warning that if you do something that isn’t on-brand enough for trans leadership and the people who gatekeep community, you will be cast out into the desert. You will be left to rot.

And that’s why I didn’t convert: the accusation was used to rein me in in the most brutal fashion.

I caught the religion bug in college again after my, ahem, falling-out with the LDS Church for being too gay. I met the first Black Jew I’d met who I wasn’t related to; she lived in my dorm…I asked her so many questions I’m still sorta embarrassed. I realized that conversion wasn’t that impossible. I got in good with the amazing Professor Julius Lester over at UMass, one of the other Five Colleges.  The outlying other four schools (of which I attended one) would often not have your class, not have it at a good time, etc…so UMass to the rescue! I mean, really, unless you wanted an outré 3-level class on masturbating while reading Proust? HAMPSHIRE! (PS: Five Collegians, dirty secret: Hampshire’s food is fantastic. If you take a class there, you will discover that a bunch of pasty hippies can whip up some good grub. Also, they don’t care if you fill your thermos with coffee. It ain’t Dunkie’s, but it’ll do.

Prof. Lester, who was really Dr. Lester but hated being called that because his doctoral was in something unrelated…he kind of gave me some hope in the religious department again, that maybe there was something I could follow.  A Black man teaching Judaic Studies and pontificating on all things overlapping of race and Judaism? Oh, this was rapturous.

I made decent progress in the conversion process. I still was clueless about Hebrew but knew enough about pronunciation from Yiddish that I figured I could fake it (as in learn the things I needed to know).

And that summer, the first…incident…that pushed me toward trying to get to know other trans women happened. And the internet in 2000-01 was…well, the Wild Wild West. And I was gullible and made friends easily. I’d never known another trans person past seeing one in the waiting room or that overnight cashier at the Waldbaum’s Foodmart, so the new wondrousness of it all after having not been able to breathe a word…well, I was excited. I got used. In one case quickly, because I objected to her deciding to inspect my crotch for me, and in one case a long con.

My life still hasn’t gotten free of either of those. The Crotch Inspector is one of the louder accusers. The long con, rather not. And Crotch Inspector has some powers, and she demanded a LOT of information. And I, being young and stupid, gave it to her. This woman screams to any willing to listen that I’m a fraud and really a dude…and she’s seen my fucking high school yearbook. Obviously, I paid to have rounds of that yearbook run with “fake” me in it, stole all the copies in circulation (for four years), and somehow memory-holed everyone. And she says shit like that I must be making it up about my abusive mother since, actual quote, “abusive mothers and high school tra**ys are force-fem stories, not real.”

Whelp, yeah. So I had been rather open with this woman. She had her little family of trans women that I so desperately wanted to belong to. Of course, I didn’t know it was based on blackmail and abuse, so I dodged that bullet in part. But she did know I was converting to Judaism. And that when you’re converting in Western Massachusetts as someone of no clear ethnic heritage, absolutely no claim to a surprise Jewish ancestor (matrilineal religion, mother’s Black, and West African…NOPE), the only game in town is Chabad.

I’m not Jewish, so I can’t really opine on Chabad. You can check in with trusted Jewish sources. They are a wonderful source of free candles and Haggadot, and the Chabadniks at the local college here in River City have run a fine, fine Purim without all the bad stuff and with LOTS of the good stuff…Chabad is a balance, IMGHO. (In my Goyishely Humble Opinion.)

Now, in 2001, they didn’t much like the gays. So, after I forcefully rejected further inquiry after she’d pried my dead name out of me*-level stuff, I told her off.

She told Chabad. The second trans woman to try to out me (in, let’s remember, 2000-2001) and I’d known zero trans women a year earlier. She fucking told Chabad. Because she thought I was converting for attention, for more “oppression points”, as she put it.

I was, ahem, removed. I gave up. Dr. Lester went to the grave not knowing why I bailed on a religion I wanted to belong to and him altogether since he kept trying to bring me back and claim he could smooth over whatever it was. If only you knew, Julius. If only.

By the time I came back to the topic, I’d been an adult agnostic for quite some time, and my reasons for wanting to convert were again suspect: why did you wait so long? wouldn’t it be cultural appropriation if you couldn’t possibly have a Jewish ancestor**? how can it be sincere, you’re 37?!

This is one. It’s the most dramatic, because, hey, it severed me from a sense of belonging so someone could assert dominance, and because as dramatic as it sounds (and I know this seems hyperbolical) but I think this distinctly changed the arc of my life.

For better or for worse, I don’t know. But…it was theft, and it was unforgivable, and yet…I gave her a couple more chances.  The Crotch Inspector bit me both times. She carries on that I’m a attention-seeking monster, and so often when I run away from other trans women at the slightest misunderstanding, this is why: I don’t want to be seen as seeking attention to try to talk something out. I don’t want them to be able to remotely diagnose me with new and more horrible things. I just want to give up, not because I don’t care about them, but because I haven’t been allowed that much faith in me. Getting outed and literally losing my religion bent that arc, but the arc was as much bent by being silenced because being different makes me too hard to control. And incidentally, when I did give her those couple more chances, she absolutely tossed my life for fun again both times. In other words, she bent that arc every time.

What if you’d have let me have this one?

Anyways, Dr. Lester is surely berating some scholars in the Olam Ha-Ba, surely whilst attempting to expound about how Kosher wine is better now and complaining that muscat is an unfairly maligned grape.

* = I lied to her about one thing: My dead (first) name. That dead name wasn’t assignable to Mormons at any point in my birth year, and it was provided as a trap that she continues to spring to this day.

** = At some point this became the “new thing”, that it was permissible to play find your distant relative who was Jewish and thus you’re not appropriating. Trouble is, there’s no way absent a lot of slave traders giving up their secrets to figure that out. And, again, that’s not said to sensationalize or seek pity but because it’s true…you ever wonder why there aren’t any straight-up Black people in those ancestry dot com ads?

 

June 15, 2019

in defense of being ugly

I went to a picnic earlier today. It was a trans-related thing, and if there’s one thing the picnic made very plain is that there’s lots of sizes, shapes, colors, and sorts of trans women, something that no media outlet and most of trans leadership would never let you think.

And it’s great to have picnics, but unless you’re sticking to someone to do introductions, it’s still looking at a very closed world when you’re an Other/outsider. I mean, it is literal evidence that these people do exist, though!

So…why are trans-focused social spaces still nests of vipers? Why do they broadcast their exclusion openly (“cuties only!”) or tactitly (..having to survive the hazing ritual that is the support group)?  Like…if we exist, how the hell are we supposed to connect?  It’s frustrating to know there’s a world there, but you don’t know the way in.

But why do the people who maintain power have such a strong relationship with a rather narrow, ableist, racist, you-name-itphobic ideal of who is Good Enough? What about trying to square the reality that what trans leadership wants is to be acceptable to cishet white men and pretty much literally nothing else? It’s troubling that I’ve been blogging about this shit for seven years and literally nothing has changed.

It’s the support group or nothing, because that’s how it’s always been, and when you can’t survive the hazing, you can’t go to the support group. The scathing, vengeful review of everything that they’ve decided is “wrong” with you is incisive and hurtful, because it’s supposed to be: the support group is what the people so bitter and self-loathing about being trans become. You know when you have chili that starts out too watery and they tell you to put masa in there to get it thicker? Masa’s for amateurs. You cook that chili down low and slow into thick delicious fragrant goodness. Works with curry, too…you can taste when someone didn’t make that shortcut. But that’s the support group: the thickened, concentrated hate of people who hate themselves for being trans, and believe it’s their mission to make everyone else miserable, too. It’s concentrated internalized transmisogyny.

That’s what the support group actually is. It’s where people who have chosen to be cruel, chosen to be wicked go to abuse the misfits and to keep their concept of having something that’s ours. I know these are often folks who have chosen horribly, because I get the stories whispered in my inbox, spoken over coffee; I know what these people say, and I know that maybe they don’t intend to be evil, but they do a great job doing it.

But trans community relies on the support group, or that one is rail-thin enough to fit a white trans woman’s idea of who is a “cutie”.  Lemme give you a hint: there’s never any other fat people who wanna go when the “screw off” is written on the tin.  I’m pretty sure boundarying groups like that is a desire for it to be a meat market, and nobody wants to deal with pesky fatties getting in the way of their suspiciously cisnormative/ableist/racist body policing. Like…don’t you know disabled people don’t have sex? Gosh.

(Well, we do, but…you know…we don’t tell the ableds about it. Well, that or we’re..okay we have sex alright just please don’t ask how it works mmkay?)

We need a middle space.

Something that is a social environment where talking to other humans in a low-pressure way that indicates “hey I am a trans person and I want to socialize with other trans people.”  Something with a no staring rule.  A “use your words” policy about explaining issues with things; you have no idea how tiresome it is to hear things described as problematic with no definition of what actually *is* problematic; it’s become one of those words which has been overused to a point that it becomes meaningless. A “no means no” policy, which I can’t believe in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen needs to be restated in a policy, but…it does. Something that breeds real relationships with connection and not just ticks off a checklist about if you’re white enough to be a “cutie”, which is, by the by, one of the most unintentionally toxic words ever because of the people who realized that meant they got to gatekeep.

But I don’t know how to make a middle space happen, because people don’t trust random Others or random outsiders, and I’m…both.

I want a space where us ugly people can be, and the not-so-ugly people, too. And that’s what’s been driving a lot of my thought lately: how that can happen without becoming the same kinds of circular firing squads that punctuate white-centered liberal communities. How to have a space which is for everyone, since the Q Center here in Portland won’t give out more space because, you guessed it, the Friday night support group is there for trans women, donchaknow.

And that’s the place I feel…ugliest. That our leadership protects the people who do horrible things over and over, and that our leadership continues to treat trans women of color like we’re disposable, but it’s so tragic when we’re gone. But that these people still expect me to serve their interests, because that’s what they expect the ugly people to do. Can’t hack the support group? Not hot enough to be in on the fuck circle? You’re worthless.

I’m on the wrong side of forty; I have given up any hope of being a pretty pretty princess, because I feel like if I take any risk in presentation and get any shit for it, I’ll be told by my peers that I deserved it. I have given up any hope of being able to be out at work, because when you’re a cog in the machine outside the tech world, that just isn’t an option. I’m not gonna be able to change anyone’s mind about trans people, and playing this game of “well let’s fall in with a new circle of cis people” and hoping it’ll be different this time isn’t working. I don’t believe that there’s going to be any real changes to how trans people view each other, and how trans women and especially trans women of color are treated as disposable by queer circles.

We need to do something better for ourselves, and it’s gotta happen soon. See, here’s the thing: the people that constitutes white trans leadership and the “cuties only” sorts…we outnumber you pretty significantly by the looks of it.  Now, I’m not saying y’all are ugly; you’re not, and in fact are probably really lovely people. But we are the people our leaders call “ugly”, our support groups treat as emotional punching bags, and by the looks of it, we’re many.

So…why do we stick with this broken system? What are you getting out of it? Because to the vast majority of us, the sheer number of bodies I saw, it was kind of amazing. There was no support group facilitator barking at anyone about how much the FFS they “need” will cost.  Why can’t we have more of this, and maybe more of this where it’s explicitly okay to, like, come alone…introduce yourself to others…all these things that are not incredibly complex outside the world of trans stuff but are 45-dimensional chess inside.

Because guess what: fuck you, I’m ugly, I’m very aware of this, and I’m sick and tired of it meaning that other trans people get to deny my gender or claim that because I’m fat (or because I’m “low IQ” or because I’m a survivor…but it’s usually fat) I don’t get to be there.  We need more than a meat market for those under size 10, abled, and white (which is what “cuties only” means) and the distributed torture that is the support group.

I might be ugly, but there’s more of us, and maybe we want to be around other people like us. Why can’t we figure out a way to nurture these connections rather than confound them? That picnic was promise, it was illuminating. Now what?

March 15, 2019

an open letter to Ted Wheeler

Mr. Mayor:

Recently, you somewhat melodramatically asked what you would tell your 12-year-old daughter about why there are protests in Portland’s streets.

What you didn’t bother with is that there’s squads of people coming here to commit that violence. You know, people like Joey Gibson and his squad, who call people in the city you run “degenerates.”  You should know the historical use of that word and who it was aimed at. And, you see, those people, who your city administration has chosen to tolerate and even collaborate with when it comes to slipping them the location of us pesky gays and the PPB informing them that it’s open season.

People who stand for repression and harm, people who claim we are “outsiders” that they’re “defending against” like Jeremy Christian are running amok in Portland. The City government has done little to nothing to dissuade this, to condemn it. You and I both know damn well that freedom of speech doesn’t come with the police as armed guard; I mean, that’s been what Joey et all get over and over and over. Do you understand how scary it is that people who literally advocate for your extermination like PPB Pal Joey G…oh, wait, Mayor Ivancie…er, Wheeler, this is the problem: you don’t understand what it’s like to belong to a class of people where there is a clamor to harm us, to banish us, to make us go away.

Plenty of white men don’t fail at empathy, or show a willingness to listen. But you equate people like me and mine with the white men that Commissioner Hardesty noted seem to hog the mic and do most of the screaming at City Commission meetings. You stand idly by and say little to nothing in light of a trend of queer-bashing and for some reason can’t seem to try to provoke an even slightly appropriate reaction from the cops. I’m pretty sure, Frank Wheeler, that…er, I mean Ted Wheeler, that as the person who pretty much directs the Police Bureau from above, you could probably try, maybe show some willingness to understand why LGBTQ Portlanders have no trust in the Police Bureau.

You ever thought that maybe it’s terrifying to go talk to the same people who are cooperating with the various far-right factions? There’s a cruel irony in that your Police Bureau has done more to protect non-constituents than people who live here in Portland. Meanwhile, people are making illegal turns off the Bus Mall right in front of the same PPB who can’t be arsed to care. The driver almost hit me, because he had a train bearing down on him. The PPB just plum doesn’t care about rank and file Portlanders, especially the LGBTQ community, people of color, and pretty much anyone who lives east of 82nd. I guess your commitment to being the New Ivancie comes with Ivancie-era city borders. I mean, you’re seen so rarely out here in East Portland that I’ve seen coyotes more than I’ve seen you east of the freeway.

This is what you’re going to have to explain to your 12-year-old daughter, not…that people had a donnybrook in the streets of Portland. I don’t think she’ll judge inaction in the face of creeping Fascism quite the same as you, and I know that you’re familiar enough with Oregon politics that sometimes Portland lives up to its various nicknames. Thing is…the far-right didn’t get a police escort back in the day. The people who came in to scream YES ON 9 weren’t given tips about where there might be gay people for Lon Mabon to beat…because Joey Gibson and his retinue get police cooperation. Imagine how history would have shown the PPB cooperating with Lon Mabon and the OCA?

This is where you are, Mayor Wheeler. You can act, you can show empathy to your constituents and not people who don’t pay taxes here or vote here but seem to have the PPB on call…or you can keep doing nothing and go down to your Ivancie-like fate when someone challenges you.

You said you’d govern for all of us. Why are you governing for a Fascist from Battle Ground?  They don’t vote for you. We do. And we’re tired of equivocation and your theatrical outrage when you know gosh darn well you’re either choosing to ignore PoC, Queer, and disabled voices who don’t like Joey’s bunch calling us “degenerates”…or you’re too out of touch to notice.

Best Regards,
Erica

November 20, 2018

These are not the words I want to speak, but they are the words I must say.

My grandmother is very fond of noting how much things change and don’t change in this world; in one’s eighties, that’s a fact of life, but in the past few years she’s returned to raging about how little has changed, at least in the way you rage in your late seventies-early eighties. Grandma’s lived through segregation, desegregation, and putting a new suit on it and calling it “urban renewal” and “neighborhood improvement.” I still have seen her hesitate in heading toward a bathroom or two in Greensboro, because her social memory of where you’re supposed to go as a Black woman in the 60s isn’t the same as it is now.

Trans Day of Remembrance is a thing of much controversy, since for some reason it remains “owned” by a white trans woman who refuses to promote any discussion whatsoever of how race figures into our dead. Like most TWoC, I’ve gone back and forth about TDoR. Real talk: I’m mixed and pretty pale, and definitely Ethnically Mysterious(tm) so I don’t really think I’m at a high risk for violence from rando men on the basis of being trans. I get it for being disabled, mind, but that’s a far deeper ocean than a thousand words or so can dive into. Trouble is…to a degree the refusal to talk about race in trans community, and the “racial justice training” your organization can get from a white man for only $500…it’s not doing anything. Like the Catholic Church once sold indulgences to the highest bidder, provoking Martin Luther’s ire, this sort of “justice training” is about as far as we’ve come in being integrated into greater trans community, which has of late locked itself down even more and become even more hostile to outsiders.

I hate today because it’s the one day we get to be trans without being told what we’re not by trans community, and it’s because we’re dead. One of the things I really hoped was changing when we as trans people seemed to be having a moment in 2012 (which is six years ago now, marshmallows, what the hell) was that it would be awesome if trans community could move past how much it devalued multiply oppressed trans women and maybe let us in, because we are regaled on a daily basis with how healing and awesome it is to have a community, and to be frank it sucks that we lack any safe entry points and continue to be shoved away by the suburbanite Stepford Wives But With Tattoos mindset that rules trans community. I’ve discussed the problem of “cuties only” and similar exclusionary terms when the judge, jury, and executioner is a white trans woman, and it’s about time to discuss that trans community is killing us slowly as much as random men are killing us quickly.

Trans community is somewhat restricted in size because while there’s more of us than the cis folks think, there’s also very little in the way of venues and spaces that aren’t controlled by gatekeepers. If you don’t think the awful white trans woman who stares at you on the MAX is a gatekeeper, or the woman at the support group who calls you “he” until you give up and leave because the support group is literally concentrating and focusing the abuse on the most vulnerable trans women, which is the support group functioning as intended, then congratulations on being part of the problem. The same people who rage against “gatekeepers” are often the ones designating their picnic “cuties only”. I’d call it ironic, but sort of like hipster irony, this irony kills.

The small and insular nature of trans community also means it’s very easy to burn someone over misunderstandings. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that we should coddle rapists and people who steal from the poor; I’ve seen plenty of both, and unfortunately, those aren’t the people getting shoved out.  I can think go a couple of examples of both who are on their fifth or sixth redemption tour by now.  It’s kind of terrifying that not being pretty enough is a mortal sin to my peers, but being a literal rapist isn’t.

What I am saying is that people who sling rhetoric like “too fat to pass” or who think disabled people can’t have a valid gender identity, or that ours only sort of counts…these are the people who use their low-key racism and purchased indulgences (“I took a racial justice training, I can’t be racist!”) to shove the Other out? These people are part of what’s killing us. Where in this town is a support group or formal social venue that’s open to Black trans women, that’s open to fat trans women, that’s open to trans Latinas, that’s open to visibly disabled…I can keep going, but it’s different words to the same song, and this song continues for longer than “Tubular Bells.” 

The fixation on a “perfect” trans woman as the only acceptable trans woman is killing us softly, and we don’t even get a Roberta Flack jam out of it. I live in fear of making the mistake of reaching out to someone to say “let’s hang out” because if they’re gonna freak out about the size of my ass or the fact you can tell I’m disabled by looking at me, they can basically destroy me. I want to try to talk to other people in the general field I work in, but like most trans women, I’m one phone call from no job. I know what my boss thinks of trans women, and I can say “they’re not all like that” until the end of days, but one of the really dreadful things I’ve come to accept as an adult is that unfortunately, some minds just can’t be changed. I’m pretty valuable as an employee, but I’m also quite replaceable, and frankly I’m neither invaluable enough nor irreplaceable enough to be able to try to change his mind. He’s had some terrible experiences with trans women, the same kind of white trans woman who stares on the train or screams in the grocery line about my being a “man”. I don’t have the power, the charisma, or the financial ability to be able to just lose my job.

Of course, to the “cuties only” trans community, this is seen as a moral failing. (And once again, why isn’t being a rapist a moral failing?) I know this is some Aryans from Darien-type stuff, but the reality is that if you’re not Good Enough for a consistently changing constantly shifting value of Good Enough, again always determined by the white trans woman, you have no shot at maintaining anything in a community that’s run by people who thought Mean Girls was a guidebook. The defense is always some nonsense, the kind of thing that feeds the T**F/MRA anti-trans propaganda, like “that’s just how women are.”

Sorry, folks: while we’re all mean girls sometimes, that’s not “just how women are”. That’s a reductivist cube of smelly wombat shit. Women come in many sizes, shapes, forms, and attitudes; we aren’t all size 8s who think backstabbing is fun, and the fact that that’s an excuse points to deep-seated internalized misogyny. Not internalized transmisogyny, a criminally overused term at this point by the “cuties only” set which they’re merrily making meaningless the same way GamerGate turned “censorship” into something meaningless , but internalized misogyny. If you hate yourself for being a woman already, you’re going to buy into BS like that. And, well, that BS? It’s also killing us.

We keep having moments, and we keep going back to the same old shit that’s been killing us forever: exclusion, derision, and the belief some trans women are good enough, but most of us aren’t. It also uses the same kind of logic that Some People Are Deserving and Some People Aren’t, the dieu et mon droit mindset that pervades trans community. These are the same people who performatively post “all trans women are beautiful!!!” on the internet, and then start bounding ‘trans women’ carefully enough to write you out of being a trans woman. Or they claim that you “can sue them” if you get fired, which is really charming since everyone has the time, money, and ability to deal with a very public slugfest when they need to, you know, earn money to survive. Like most people, I have to work to survive, and these people who cast stones about being “out enough” are the same ones who won’t lift a finger to help non-“cuties” survive. Or even “cuties”, let’s be real here.

The impossible standards that you have to meet to be “allowed” to be trans, promulgated and enforced by white trans women, figure into the structural violence that transphobes speak and act from when they kill us. I know the response is “people were mean that’s not the same as killing people”…and you know who else says that? Gamergaters and other MRAssholes. People on Gab whose username ends in 1488. The thing is…it’s not mean “once”. It’s a pervasive pattern of removal and othering which white trans people expect complete supplication and forgivenes for because they read a bunch of names of dead trans people of color and then we go back to being things that must be kept out at all costs.

I don’t think it’s exactly a stretch to say we are in dark times right now as, to quote a friend, trans people “…have been held up globally as an other to be violently confronted.  We are being dehumanized, vilified, and framed as a threat to the very foundations of culture…” and the idea that some people must be kept out to assure a “cuties only” atmosphere is really galling.  If we are to band together and survive, we must create exactly what many TWoC have been politely asking for for years: a trans community that’s inclusive of us all and doesn’t hand power to petty tyrants who somehow are given the power of exclusion or inclusion based on the size of someone’s ass, as at the same time nothing gets done about rapists, nothing gets done about serial grifters, and nothing gets done about people who hurt other trans women, since that’s who these folks prey on.

We need to fight like hell for the living, yes. But we need to fight like hell for each other, and part of that is the reality that severely punishing TWoC, disabled trans women, Other/outsider trans women, fat trans women, trans women who don’t work in the field *you* think we should work in, poor trans women, etc…is not fighting like hell for each other. The idea that you should block someone because you’ve somehow concluded being intersex is somehow “transmisogynist”, or because someone is working on their own internalized transmisogyny (so long as they’re not taking it out on others non-consensually, mind) is literally feeding queer disposability, and it’s a form of queer disposability that hurts people. It’s terrifying that “trans leadership” considers someone who has bragged about the number of people they’ve driven over the edge to be worth defending, and rapists to be worth covering for, but you can’t get in if you’re not “good enough” in their eyes.

Fighting like hell for the living means fighting like hell for all the living. Not just…”cuties only.”

October 31, 2018

Oregonians, for the love of God, please vote for Kate Brown

Hi.

I mostly talk about politics in broad strokes. I so happen to live in Oregon, a state where a zillionaire fake “moderate” who blocks even gentle criticism, who won’t talk to even slightly critical press, and who is running patently false ads with gendered criticism…is somehow still in this Governor’s race. Despite the fact that Trump is trying to roll back the meager Federal protections LGBT people have and he has declared a full-on war on basic reproductive rights, Dashing Duke of Doublespeak Knute Buehler claims to be pro-choice on one day as he swears fealty to forced-birthers with his votes.

Oregonians, for the love of God, imperfect though you may find her, vote for Kate Brown if you care about gay rights, reproductive rights, trans rights, and, oh yeah, things like therapeutic courts and keeping the faith on Oregon’s staying free of a pesky, regressive sales tax. I know you think she’s messed up one education, when in fact pretty much everyone who’s peed in the Capitol Building, Governor Brown and Dr. Buehler-Trump included, is at fault there.  The gendered, gross “overwhelmed” ads that Buehler echoes Trump’s meaningless yet scary-sounding claims of illness and “low energy”; they’re designed to promote the idea that a woman plum can’t handle the job. The coincidences aren’t just familiar, they’re outright uncanny.

So here’s why you should be *really* scared of Buehler: he’s not just running the same sorts of ads as Trump, he’s all over the map on what he’ll actually do.  Though we can all agree that he is a-ok with “gay marriage”, the reality is his record on LGBTQ rights generally is nonexistent, and asking even the most vague questions about what Buehler intends to do to protect the basic rights of LGBTQ citizens if Trump pushes for greater restrictions on our basic rights, you’ll get this:

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…blocked. If this is what Knute Buehler-Trump does when someone asks what he’s going to do to protect us in the event of greater Federal interference in our lives, I think it speaks volumes about his disdain for talking about gay people in any sense besides marriage. Does marriage matter? You bet your bippy, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of basic rights for queer people, and if he’s the moderate who supports our rights, why is he terrified of being asked where he stands on our humanity? If he’s such a “moderate”, why is he unwilling to take a public position on queer rights?

Well, it gets worse. See, those same soft-focus ads that show Dr. Buehler having deep-seeming conversation with blonde-haired, blue-eyed women (I’m sure it’s an accidental oversight that they’re all blonde-haired blue-eyed white women…) tell us he’s “pro-choice.” And he is…you know, if I’m the Dutchess of Sussex. I mean, we’re both mixed-race women, we must be the same, right?  So, uh, turns out no group concerned with abortion rights in Oregon agrees. It may come as a shock in allegedly oh-so-liberal Oregon, but the Pacific Northwest is often where new and changing concepts of regressive law get introduced. It’s pretty easy to get a referendum on the ballot, see…direct democracy and all.  Direct democracy got us legalized weed and gay marriage and that ruled. It got us better governmental oversight and better public records laws, too!  However, direct democracy also allows pretty simple access to the ballot, and as a result we end up with candidates who often say they support one thing and they actually support another.

With Buehler, this hypocritical decision comes with the terrifying Measure 105, which seeks to repeal Oregon’s ancient law against using local cops as the long arm of the Federal immigration enforcement complex. (We’d love to know where he stands on the Measure 106 backdoor ban on abortion, but he, once again, is mysteriously without comment. How very “pro-choice.”)  Buehler unashamedly supports this SB1090-like measure which is essentially legalizing racial profiling…which a non-trivial portion of law enforcement opposes. There’s good people who oppose this pro-profiling law on both sides of the aisle…the one time “both sides” matters, but there’s a lot of folks like Buehler who support it with no clue how to pay for letting the Feds have yet another unfunded mandate and no idea how to make any of this work.  The reality is if you’re convicted of a violent crime or a felony in Oregon, just like anywhere else, the Feds get a cut at your immigration status. They shouldn’t get one the you’re just walking down the street, and it’s literally giving cops more impetus to claim race as probable cause. Buehler is for it, but claims he’s not campaigning for it or wants it on the ballot…so why are you voting for it, sir?

One of Buehler’s linchpins is the vague “do something about the homeless” that he claims Brown has done nothing about. Has Governor Brown done enough? Hell no. But to single her out as the problem when plenty of politicians just kick the can on homelessness is a bit facile. Again, Dr. Buehler had plenty of time to raise appropriations bills in the House during his time there. He hasn’t done anything in terms of providing solutions, but he sure runs a lot of really negative ads. In what might be really telling, unlike any other candidate for Governor since Street Roots has existed, he just blew off the homelessness issues questionnaire. The refusal to talk to any media that might be so much as slightly critical is the worst hallmark of Trumpism, the ideal that only “good media” gets answers, and that the secretiveness is somehow deserved if you don’t fall in lock step. Lest you say “but that paper would be critical of any Republican”, multiple previous GOP candidates for Gov have talked to Street Roots. Including Dennis Richardson, who showed an almost disarming level of candor even if we didn’t agree, Chris Dudley, and…well, all of them since SR has existed. Except Dr. Buehler.

We could go into the other terrifying parallels with Trump: won’t release his tax returns, won’t stop trying to claim that Brown’s office somehow did something involving the Cover Oregon mess, won’t stick to any one thing, because like Trump, the story changes depending on the day and who he’s telling it to. You don’t get to be one person in Bend and another in Beaverton, and having some pretty intimate knowledge of Buehler’s communication style, I can tell you with great confidence he isn’t the “moderate” he claims to be. Not just because his votes say otherwise and his back-room promises show otherwise, but because his idea of “leadership” is much like Trump’s: sow chaos and try to profit off the results. Everything about his similarities and overlaps, from refusing to talk to slightly critical media to blocking someone for asking him to commit to LGBT rights when Trump comes at us…these are not the acts of a moderate. They’re the acts of someone who believes they should be beyond reproach and who sees mild criticism as an “attack.” Don’t be fooled.

Knute Buehler is just too risky in these times. A Governor who can’t even decide if trans people should have basic rights and who promises forced-birther zeal one day to one bunch while claiming to be pro-choice on TV is not your friend, and he’s not going to lead in any “progressive” manner. He’s as pro-LGBTQ as Trump himself, and similarly uses shifty language to say nothing’s going to happen to you…but he refuses steadfastly to say he has our back.

Knute Buehler is no moderate, nor will he ever be. He’s a living embodiment of Trumpian politics in a time when we can’t afford that. And if you ask him if he’s willing to stand behind LGBTQ people in these troubled times for us…you get blocked.

Sounds familiar. Too familiar. Don’t fall for it, Oregon.

September 17, 2018

there is no feminist Gilead: why forced-birther rhetoric from TERFs is no accident

It’s hardly original thought that the FART (the official new and less problematic term for “T**F“) set is deeply in the pocket of the reactionary white Calvinist right; far wiser people than I have pointed this out previously. But what if I told you this was nothing new and that the forced-birther sympathies of the FART in fact date back decades to infamous pro-genocide activist Janice Raymond?

This willingness to conspire with the far-right dates to at least 1991. Planned Parenthood of Southeast PA v. Casey loomed large in the road ahead, the challenge to Roe v. Wade that the forced-birthers dreamed of. It was the worst of times for reproductive freedom in the United States…you know, until now, when there is an eerie silence from the FARTs about Kavanaugh, someone who has been accused of sexual assault (I guess the FART looks the other way when their darlings like Victoria Brownworth or Anne Quisling Lawrence commit sexual assault…add Kavanaugh to that list?) and who advocates a brutal, regressive forced-birther agenda in the US.

Now, we know what the point of this forced-birther nonsense is to the Trumpenbrownshirt: Gilead. The place he dreams of where womenfolk will do what we’re told, and behave at the behest of the Holy White Man. No more of those pesky gay people unless they’re Obedient, no more disabled people, no more no more no more.

This is what the patriarchy dreams of. And on the service the FART at least claims to be against patriarchy. So what happened in 1991, other than Gang Starr’s Step In The Arena, arguably the best hip-hop album ever, UDub winning the national championship in football (also arguably), and Hawai’i and Connecticut passed gay rights laws? Janice Raymond helped pen a book which formed a broadside attack against RU486, aka “the abortion pill.” Though the intent of her treatise was, facially, the preservation of access to  abortion, the reality remains that in much of the US, and non-zero constituencies throughout the Western Anglosphere, RU486 represented broader access to basic reproductive medicine that included abortion. (Though I entreat you not to financially support hate, the title of the treatise is RU 486: misconceptions, myths and morals. I’m betting you can probably find a copy out there in the aether somewhere.)

I am not going to tell you that there is no complexity to Dr. Raymond’s position; you should read her treatise on the matter if you want to make up your own mind, since I am by nature not going to claim to be objective: I support abortion on demand without apology, and Dr. Raymond…kinda doesn’t, so we have a difference of opinion based solely on fact and questions may arise from that. There were similarly some questions about mifepristone-misoprostol abortion care back in the day, but they were largely resolved by 1991. In fact, this treatise has held up over time about as well as Simon Baron-Cohen’s repeatedly debunked Vaccines Cause Autism quackery.

But the thing that really matters: It was 1991. There was significant doubt in the States that Roe would survive its next date with the Supreme Court and the early Australian studies cited in RU486:MMM had nuggets of truth but didn’t justify handing the Calvinist fundamentalists the gift the book represented. But that’s the thing about the FART: it’s never actually been about the well-being of women, especially of lesbians, when you see what the FART actually does: from the gutless Cathy Brennan casting her lot in with the forced-birther Pacific Justice Institute (you know, the people who literally made up a story about a trans girl in a school in Colorado) to the fact that they continue to collaborate with Kaeley Triller Haver, who screams bloody murder that every trans woman is somehow a man *and* a sex predator whilst she herself is an admitted…well, you decide what this counts as.

By the same token, in 1991, RU486 felt like our Last Best Hope for Victory in access to abortion care in the US, but one that remained very illegal on our shores. The first real push to get RU486 into the States came to be in 1988, but speedy threats from the forced-birther set pushed it back. Its second crack came in 1991, when it was legalized in the United Kingdom and this treatise of concern trolling was one of the many things the forced-birthers seized upon. In fact, 20+ years later, repro health organizations across the globe…literally, across the globe, from ALRANZ in New Zealand to the UK’s ASN have been forced to push back against claims made by forced-birthers grounded in RU486:MMM.

Though Dr. Raymond walks among us to this day, her silence on the ongoing use of her conclusions in this treatise to support forced-birther theology is telling. When one’s words are misconstrued, one ordinarily corrects those who are using their words to speak falsehood, right? I mean, would you expect that anyone would accidentally allow as anti-feminist a cause as the forced-birth movement to use the words of a putative feminist without comment?

There’s things we all want to forget. My late 90s pop-punk “phase.”  Fleetwood Mac’s “Behind The Mask”. Election Night in 2016. That one time you tried to be a trans woman with NO MEN in her profile on FetLife and the discovery that will await you in your inbox three days later.

I don’t think Dr. Raymond intends to forget her contribution to RU486:MMM.  I’m actually pretty sure she stands by it but would prefer that we not discuss it because she knows shameful forced-birther perspectives really don’t play well in modern feminist circles and the FART party line that by supporting regressive policies they’re the real feminists but those scary trans women are the real problem because…*vigorous handwaving*.

So ultimately one has to question what the ultimate goal of the FART is when on every issue of women’s liberation, their sole talking points are sex workers and trans women are bad; that’s what happens when a group claiming to hold the moral high ground in their twisted parody of feminism seeks to inure itself to a patriarchal society: it starts throwing the people it thinks patriarchy hates worst off the bus. It takes us one step closer to Gilead, in the Handmaid’s Tale sense…and I’m pretty sure there is no feminist version of Gilead.

And if you don’t think that lower-economic-class people in need of abortion care isn’t next on their list, I have a bridge to sell you. One owner, low miles.