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?

Advertisements
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:

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 7.40.53 AM

…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.

 

August 13, 2018

the trans tax, or why I’d really like a ‘polite word’ with Caitlin Jenner

There’s this thing called the “pink tax”, the reality that things intended for women to purchase, or services provided to women. If you’ve ever heard the BS reasons provided as justification, it should be quite obvious that the belief of the manufacturer and/or service provider is that somehow women “deserve” to pay more. It’s especially bad if you’re not a size 2-10, if you require specific shapes or cuts of clothing, and if you need adaptive technology. Apparently disabled women have more disposable income to spend on basic survival?

The pink tax is obvious to basically anyone less regressive than an MRA, so that means about 99% of the world. It’s not even debatable as to why, it’s debatable as to how severely it disadvantages women, but basically everyone agrees that it does, and I think most people understand that since we’re already getting paid less and face more basic obstacles in the activities of daily living in a patriarchal world, the “pink tax” is pretty severe, especially if you work in a situation where extensive grooming is forced upon you; it’s one thing to choose it, but being forced to wear makeup is like being forced to spend money, and unfortunately for some reason this kind of thing is often even considered legal, a pleasant reminder that what is legal isn’t always the same as what is moral.

The pink tax is, obviously, morally repugnant. It’s occasionally supported by three factions of people: marketers, who will basically support anything that makes money and damn the torpedos, Calvinist “Christian” fundamentalists, aka a bunch of white men who hate the idea of women having independent thoughts, or MRAs, who are a bunch of white men who really hate the idea of women having independent thoughts. Strange they’re completely alike, eh?

So let’s talk about a different issue. The “trans tax”.  See, a lot of us out here in the real world who don’t come from privilege and a six-figure tech salary, we have to woodwork to survive. That doesn’t mean, as white trans orthodoxy always screams, not being out to anyone or not working for trans rights. You’re welcome to that reductive point of view, but that reductive point of view, like much of white trans orthodoxy, literally kills TWoC, disabled trans women, and working-class trans women. You may be out to your friends, but not at work. You might be out to your work, but not to your family. You might be out at work and school but not to your neighbors.  This has been our basic safety method for decades, since trans time immemorial, really.

Trouble is, the “transgender tipping point” makes people like me more visible; there are many of us, more than you might know, and it’s somewhat hard to ponder why we stay out. Is it that trans culture is so toxic and obsessed with external beauty? Is it that it sucks to get called a man and stared at by our peers? Is it that when you have to worry about your spoons, trans orthodoxy is that you don’t get to be part of the group? Is it that there’s nowhere for you when something’s for “cuties only” and you can’t be good enough in the eyes of the skinny abled white trans woman who arbits who is and isn’t a “cutie” to be seen as female, much less a female person?

And then there’s our public relations problem. For every Laverne Cox, Imogen Binnie, Julia Serano, or Kim Coco Iwamoto out there who does great things for us, we have…(HBSer, Republican, kinda killed someone with her car) Caitlyn Jenner, (unashamed racist) Lana Wachowski, or (Republican, warhawk, Romney and the NRA-loving) Jennifer Prtizker. The former use their visibility and placement to uplift us all. The latter, well…let’s just say they modem the punching down that trans orthodoxy loves, yet at the same time, the latter use their hypervisibility to do things like traffic in tired racist stereotypes and to make sure they get their 15 minutes of fame in a reality show that focuses in an almost lurid fashion on trans women as living zoo exhibits.

Trouble is that such media exposure tends to tend the people who get off on living zoo exhibits to start looking under the eaves for them. In the past couple of years since Caitlyn Jenner endorsed a goddamn Fascist and since that goddamned Fascist has been enabling people who want to, you know, “morally mandate” people like us out of existence, it’s been different out there. When I go to work, I feel a little more on edge; I feel a little more terrified when the occasional Staring White Trans Woman thing happens on the train. I get a little more cautious, because what could happen next?

So I know I’ve said it before somewhere on the intertubes, so apologies for rehashing it: when you’re visibly disabled, people treat you like a goddamn zoo exhibit. Sometimes, they just grab you or your adaptive equipment. People assume that anything you do is somehow seeking attention. Custom paint job on your wheelchair? Must be seeking attention. In the meantime, people wear suits and nobody says that’s seeking attention; something that goes with you is as much a part of your clothing as a suit or your unders. The idea that because you left the house you deserve this inspection…it’s pretty ableist, yet almost everyone who is visibly disabled knows this as part of daily life.

See, those of us most at risk of coming to some sort of grief over our trans status suffer the worst in the post-I Am Cait world. And many of us are starting to feel the pinch because we are in no way able to pay the “trans tax” whilst horror stories make us think we might not be able to woodwork our way through that manicure or haircut, or going to the mall for a new pair of jeans, or picking up our meds at the pharmacy. If I even get the slightest hesitation when picking up hormones, I change pharmacies. Life’s too short to wonder if you’ll even get them the next time, or if they’re putting you on a list of Those People.

There’s an explicitly queer-friendly nail salon here in River City. I don’t want to single them out by name, since they’re both part of the problem but seem to be decent people trying to make a living. Trouble is, that’s where I’d feel safe getting my claws did anymore because what if this is the time the tech notices how big my hands are and then what?

But I can’t afford what they charge. The knowledge that that will be the safe judgment-free option is the reason they ain’t cheap.  If you had nappy hair and were a trans woman in New England back in the day, you know that one lady who didn’t give a shit and didn’t tell tales. I’m sure there’s more options now, but that was a pain in the ass back then half because she was across the universe from me and half because it felt weird I couldn’t just stroll down Main Street and get my tresses tended to. None of my friends had to leave the state to get their hair did. And I’m pretty sure even the bougie ones paid less.

This is the trans tax. It sucks, and it hits other/Outsider trans women without access to the commons even harder. If there’s some trans-friendly nail tech at 88 Lines About 44 Nails or something where word of mouth says they’re awesome…perhaps they won’t carry the same tax as the ones who advertise out and out being trans friendly. Well, the one. Single. Un. Solo.  I’ve been pondering getting a tattoo; unfortunately, I know of literally one tattoo artist in all River City who is okay with working with a trans woman. I’m sure there are others, but again, this is the one visible option. A lack of access to the commons is particularly costly in these situations, as those who lack such access can’t find out others through word of mouth. (I’ll gladly take suggestions in my Tumblr Ask Box if you have one and you know what I’m saying when I say River City.)

There’s the ones that affect us all, too. Like having to pay ridiculously spendy shipping (looking at you, Torrid) because you can’t just go into a clothing store without fear anymore. What if this is the time someone decides you’re a perv and you get trespassed from the mall? I mean, this is the kind of thing the far-right is encouraging people to do. What if the friendly salesperson trying to sign me up for store credit gives my address to K!w!Farms?

I’m not given to magic solutions about what to do about the trans tax. I know service providers gotta get paid, and I know that it is meant as a labor of love after a fact. I’d just really like to be able to afford it. I know that for the more moneyed among us that perhaps it’s great to be able to buy that kind of peace of mind and…well, bully for you, but why can’t we *all* have that? I mean, this is the kind of thing where trans orthodoxy is merciless toward outsider/Other trans women: grooming. I’m already harshly judged for not meeting impossible white-abled beauty standards, and I imagine that sooner or later in finding things to complain about it would get to that my cuticles look like hot ass. I’d say it’s ironic, but perhaps the grandest irony of all is that I’m sure the same hot garbage people who defend the pink tax laugh their ass off at the idea of a trans tax.

June 21, 2018

sisterhood isn’t staring

It’s a Thursday afternoon here in River City. Overcast, humid, a little breezy. Everyone’s blasting the air conditioning inside so it’s more temperate outside than inside, and thus my hair has collapsed and regrown into a tangled mess kin of Medusa, who you have to admit had the best nappy hair because it was goddamned snakes.

I get on the bus. Show my pass, say my pleasantries to the driver, and sit down. And I feel it. You know that soul-crushing feeling when someone is staring at you? You try to do the thing we’re instructed to do as “polite”; look up, flash a quick smile, look away.

It doesn’t work. White Trans Woman Stare Of Death, how I don’t miss you. And you’re everywhere, from the same white trans women who harangue, who mock, and who make sure that nobody who isn’t a rail-thin “cutie” is allowed in trans community.

And yet you’re the same people who constantly yell at me about what I owe them, their bizarre concept of “sisterhood.” If you expect sisterhood, if you expect support, if you expect to provide some sort of “you owe me”, you need to owe me and mine something: stop staring. Stop maintaining impossible standards of beauty for “trans enough” and, yes, perhaps consider that this is what white trans women broadcast in the same breath that they expect you to owe them “sisterhood”:

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 2.02.23 AM

Twitter user @tranimegirl tells me I’m “unattractive…unhealthy.” No word on when she became my GP. 

Sooner or later, she called me a man and that I had somehow transitioned improperly because…I don’t even know. You tell me what the hell this means:

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 2.07.38 AM

Apparently, I’m a son of a bitch. And I’m allergic to dairy, so I don’t think I’m eating Haagen Dazs. Also, totally finna detransition  RIGHT NOW…not.

You can’t stare and claim sisterhood. When you stare, you intend to do harm. When you stare, you’re causing pain and angst for funsies. When you stare, you remind me that trans community says you’re better than me because only “cuties” are allowed anymore, and God, that term is so fucking ghastly.  “Cuties only” means that trans women who are outsider/Other can’t participate since the person making the decision are white trans women who get to exclude and harm at will because the slave mentality runs so deep in the trans community that enforcing impossible standards of “good enough” is de rigeur.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 12.46.17 PM

That’s right. Because you’re fat and won’t answer questions from a 4chan troll. you’re not trans. Amazing leap of logic there.

This is your mainstream “trans community”. This is “the only option for outsider/Other trans women is the support group” since when something is for “cuties only”, obviously that has a very strict weight limit, and ableds or people with invisibile disabilities only… because white feels. And, well, this literally plays into the arguments T**Fs and MRAssholes make about the uniformity of trans women, but that’s for another post, not when I’m crying into my Pendleton in a bar because I just spent 15 minutes on the bus having daggers stared into my soul for the shameful actions of leaving the house, which is what that kind of hateful lashing out is. You don’t stare at someone for 15 minutes unless you’re doing it to express your deep, abiding antipathy. Ableist douchebros don’t do that,

I guess my question is why. If you can harangue me on Twitter about how I’m a terrible person for not doing enough for the trans community, you can a)figure out accessible points of entry to said community that aren’t “because you’re not a ‘cutie’ you have to go to the support group” and b)stop fucking staring. If you want sisterhood, which y’all keep talking about, you gotta treat me like a sister. That means staying together in the good and the bad, and that means saying together even when someone is somehow one dress size too large, since all my sisters, whether by blood, by family, or by choice aren’t going  to give a shit about the size of my ass, if my face is perfect enough, or if I’m looking “abled enough” on any given day.

But…you tell me what I owe you constantly, and yet…you stare. You throw rocks whenever you can, and I understand your life may well be horrible, but that doesn’t give you the right to be abusive to me because I fail some means test that white trans women have created which is literally impossible to clear because I’m not a tiny “cutie.”

In short, stop staring. For now, though, if you insist on it, please remember that you’re doing tangible and actual harm and I did not consent to that. You’re invading my ability to leave the house and do people things because I don’t conform to your idea of what an “acceptable” trans woman is, which seems to be the racist/ableist/douchey “cutie” nonsense.

I’m sorry your life sucks, but part and parcel of sisterhood is not a belief that you get to harm those you consider beneath you whenever you think lashing out sounds good. If you think lashing out sounds good, perhaps you’re using me as a vessel for your anger.

You want to do that from here on, it’s $200 an hour or fraction thereof, cash only. Until then, please stop staring or fuck off into the sun. Please stop telling me online how much I owe you but believing I must be shut out of anything other than the inherently abusive support group for not being a “cutie.” And maybe attempt to get over yourself.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 2.45.11 PM

“Bellend” means dick. Just call me a dick. We’re all dicks sometimes. And as you requested, posting your screenshots. 🙂

June 11, 2018

“too fat to pass”…can you not?

I read this at the Women Your Mother Warned You About event in New York City on June 5, 2018. I promised I’d put it online…which I was totally going to do in the airport…which always turns into “I swear there’s a Red Mango in this terminal somewhere” and “Hm, maybe the bathroom will be less crowded now.”  It’s Newark. The bathroom will NEVER be less crowded.

Without further ado…

“I’m too fat to pass”, you say.

Want to know how you convince a fat trans woman to be terrified of you? You say things like that.

White trans orthodoxy places an almost monomaniacal focus on being thin, and if you’re not, you get informed of how much weight you “have” to lose to pass, or that you can’t be your “authentic self” if you’re fat. And those are the nice ones. When you talk about being fat and trans online, the abuse from the faceless masses tends to come flying. In one week not that long ago,, I was termed “unhealthy and unattractive” and referred to not only as a man, the favored chestnut of the horrible wyt trans woman, but also by the delightful sobriquet of “bacon grease.” A few years back, when I’d been beaming with joy I took a selfie I liked, the response was, and I quote, “you’re a fat, ugly cow.”

My hometown newspaper, or what passes for one, wrote a human interest story about a county commissioner out on the coast who, in the story, informed us all that she “had to lose 250 pounds” to transition.  Now, admittedly, my hometown newspaper is politely described as hot garbage, but that sentiment isn’t just commonplace; it is to weight what putting on lipstick in a mirror is to these stories.

I grew up quite literally tortured over food, and denied it for reasons too toe-curling to discuss here. I have a scad of eating disorders that forms a list longer than a damn CVS receipt, and at the same time as a fat woman I remind folks that fat people can have more eating disorders than “just” Binge Eating Disorder.  The thing about eating disorders is that they’re almost impossible to have an honest conversation about them, and when you do it’s meant to be hushed and secretive. At the same time, people yell at really thin women to eat a cheeseburger and call them anorexic behind their back. It’s terrible behavior, half because often those skinny women are thin because that’s how genetics work…I know a few, and they’re all wonderful people who aren’t fatphobes, and half because diagnosing people remotely without a medical degree has literally never worked.

But, of course, the same people telling me that I’m “unhealthy and unattractive” are somehow magically capable of doing just that. They have by some miracle figured out the ins and outs of my medical status and able to know what my doctor recommends. They are informing me in grotesque detail of how “surgeons” won’t work with anyone with a BMI over 28. They know my blood pressure is high, except that it’s so low I can’t take beta blockers for anxiety. They know my fasting blood sugar and A1C by some magic ability, except that I’m not diabetic and not anywhere near pre-diabetes. They know I must be disabled because I’m fat, which is truly amazing given that my disabilities are largely congenital. And, of course, there’s a wide range of reasons they seem to believe that this is brought on solely by eating 6000 calories a day.

Now, I’m not going to tell you those days never happen. Or that I never eat at McDonald’s or have a shitty week where I may well plow a pint of Halo Top and drink red wine out of the bottle. Thing is, that’s not policed for most people, hell it’s fodder for the single-camera sitcom.  When you’re fat, every Big Mac is allegedly political, and every calorie that isn’t approved gets you a little more disapproval. Do you know what it’s like to go to the grocery store without wondering if maybe you buy a box of Triscuits you’re going to get someone’s opinion foisted on you? How about having to ask your skinny friends to buy ice cream for you if there’s no self-check lane? What about when you haven’t eaten for ten hours and you’re driving in rural Washington, where your options after 8pm are often McDonald’s or McDonald’s? Can I have a Big Mac then?

Fat is a unique American bugaboo, and given the perfect storm of the wyt/wyt-adjacent trans community’s obsession with sameness and the gendered nature of body policing under patriarchy (if you were timing how long it’d take for me to say patriarchy…), fat trans women occupy a special kind of hell. It’s still acceptable in trans circles to claim being triggered by disabled people or fat people because in the sameness-obsessed place that is your trans community, these are easy acceptable ways to hate people. Claim it’s a trigger, something you can’t argue with because what kind of monster would trigger someone, and then demand the exclusion of that person, because after all if your presence, and I must be clear not your words or your actions, is triggering, you’re kicked out. You’re given the choice of stay and be called a monster who would consciously trigger someone or alternately leave and give up.

That obsession with sameness really stems from the unspoken truth of trans community: our leaders really are obsessed with what wyt men think of us. When wyt trans women promote gatekeeping, it’s because the approval the wyt trans community seeks is that of wyt men. When wyt trans women defend weight limits for things like hormones, much less genital or facial surgery, they’re trying to constrain supply in the bloody capitalist system we live in. When wyt trans women tell those of us who are mixed-race or people of color that we have to make our features less “ethnic” to pass, they use both the weaponized Caucasian trans concept of what passing means to tell us that we’re not one of them.

They believe there can only be so many, like Highlanders or some shit like that. When there’s a trans lobby day, they talk in terms that seem to say we don’t want you here, because they’re afraid it might be disability lobby day or lesbians with frizzy hair lobby day or some similar nonsense. As part of the workings of this kind of oppressive thought, the reality becomes obvious: trans community loves sameness because to a group that is almost exclusively wyt and suburban-raised, the idea of “what will the neighbors think” literally rules the discourse.

And to that suburban Puritan mentality the Aryans from Darien love so much, being fat or being disabled is seen as a moral failing.  Trans community is pretty much like any other wyt intentional community in that there’s layers and layers of  moral purity that must be proven. Are your politics correct? Are you out enough? Do you cone from money? Do you work in the right job? Did the other people watch you transition so they’re sure you’re the right kind of trans, or actually trans, or or or.

But what the Puritan really despises is the capital-O Other. I feel it, from the whole idea that the mere presence of a fat person in a space is triggering.  I didn’t transition in public view or with any trans community to speak of, because when I transitioned, we weren’t supposed to talk to each other outside of a therapeutic setting.  And yes, I’m fat and disabled, but this might be a news flash to wyt trans women: there are such things as fat women and disabled women. There are in fact women who are *both*.

But to wyt trans community, there’s this constant thrum of “dues”. Have you so-called paid them? Did you pay them correctly? Do wyt trans women have enough dirt on you so that if you get out of line they can push you back into the trough? And why doyou need to know my dead name, anyways? Why is it any of your business if I’m out at work? I have worked in a slew of pink-collar jobs all my life, where I really don’t want to be the one who finds out if she’ll keep her job or not when she gets outed, because that’s how I end up homeless again. I say this not to make you feel bad for me; I don’t want your sympathy. I really would prefer you see me as a human being with a number of desires and wants, not an item to be treated like a non-player character in a role-playing game.

And that’s the heart of it: if you keep trans community pure, and perfect through the lens of suburban wyt identity, you’re not only doing a disservice to the people you expect to do all the labor for you, you’re putting an edge out to the world where the first criticism the people who hate us, from MRAs to wyt Christian fundamentalists to edgy douchebag professors to TERFs…they all seize upon that trans community, and in particular trans women, look the same, talk the same, act the same, and…well, with all due respect, most of you are the same, and you enforce it. You can’t be one of us, you’re not in tech. You can’t be one of us, this space is for “cuties” only. You can’t be one of us, you’re not abled enough. You’re not smart enough to know what your gender is.  You don’t have a diagnosis. You don’t, you can’t, you don’t. And, well, in the past couple of years, every excuse under the sun to make trans community more inaccessible has been used under the guise of the far-right. Hate to break it to you, but fat people can be leftists, too. It’s just that there’s too much wrapped up in the perception of the wyt gaze that says if you’re fat you’re probably a Republican.  Can someone explain for me how that works?

So we fight from two fronts as Others, whether as the people of color wyt trans community expects to stay out and die so that they can read  our names one day a year and forget about equity and inclusion for trans women of color for the other 364, or as people deemed “too fat” or “too disabled” or the like.  But we also fight the greater fight against cis oppressors, and we are often told how because all trans women are the same, it’s somehow logical to the wyt trans mindset that we’re still the defective ones holding you back. If we can just get rid of those pesky defective ones, everything will be alright.

You’re hurting yourselves when you hurt us. I know it feels like making sure there’s a strict 200 pound weight limit on womanhood sounds logical to most of you, but…it’s not, and it only harms you to keep us away. You may think you’re being so clever by labeling things “cuties only” and using the white suburban eye to grade who is “femme enough” but you’re just repeating the harm, and because the responses are the queer equivalent of BBQ Becky, except with vague meaningless terms like “problematic”, you’re expecting to be backed up by the very thick layer of wyt trans community that won’t say anything because they’re so concerned about what the neighbors think. When you call me “unhealthy and unattractive”, or stare that deathly glare on the train, or call me “he” and “eric” when I’m trying to get my coffee? You’re hurting two people.

You’re hurting me by misgendering, or staring…why do you people stare? You’re hurting me by telling me there is no space in trans community for me where everyone has to be a “cutie” to the wyt gaze, the standard of beauty enforced mercilessly and cruelly by privileged wyt trans women, or we’re worthless.

But in the end, you’re hurting yourself. You play into this idea that if you throw enough people overboard, maybe the ship won’t sink. Perhaps instead we should be talking about how to smash patriarchy and get free instead of invasive questions about genitalia and making sure everyone has the same approved “look.”  Perhaps instead of telling trans women who are Other that all we deserve for community is the support group, it’s time to let us be full citizens of your community.

I keep being told things will get better, things will change, and maybe you can really be one of us someday. I have been being told this for literally decades at this point. I’m getting old and I can’t come back in five years when maybe trans community will think about having a place for me if you’ll just lose 50 pounds. I have spent my whole adult life waiting for my peers to see me as human.

It hasn’t happened yet.

April 13, 2016

come on baby… play me a song, like “here comes the sun”

This has slurs about intelligence. I’m sick of blotting them out in my blogging, because they’re very real words with a very real meaning in my life. It also talks about people who commit sexual assault. If this isn’t going to work for you, stop now. And yes, I call myself “stupid”, because that’s my word to reclaim, thank you very much. 

There’s this band from Toronto called Metric. If you live close enough to the border that you can get Canadian radio, you’ve probably known them since the early 00s. They didn’t blow in the US until 2008, so that a lead singer in her mid-30s got away with the line you’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young.” The Canadian audience chuckled, the American audience didn’t get it, and a rather salty music critic dismissed the band as being “3 replaceable guys behind a 23-year-old blonde.” The response was this video, two outstretched middle fingers at the concept, as well as at the reviewer. When I’m warming up at karaoke, it’s what I sing…I can sing the song in my sleep, as it’s the middle of my range. It’s pretty close to a psych-up song, the one that enables the real belting after two more doubles of whiskey. But the song actually contains a pretty powerful message: screw you all, we want to be ourselves.

And, well, trans activism often elicits this reply from me in my mind, because frankly I do kind of want to be myself. I used to see writing as a tool of change, but I’ve quit writing so many times, folks, whether over MRA pressure, having to delete the blog to be “allowed” in a trans women’s group on FB, or just outright being sick of being told I’m an “asshole on the internet” by middle-class white trans dudes. The message isn’t exactly subtle: it’s who the hell are you? You’re not involved, all you do is write…it makes it feel rather selfish and pointless to keep doing so.

I get asked…a lot…why a picture of me doesn’t grace this blog. You see, you can pick and choose from the answers. One is that I’m the lying fabricated sock puppet of some sad white man. Two is that I’m fond of having a job. Three would be that frankly every time my picture has moved in to the orbit of Caucasian abled trans women, the response is some combination of retarded/fat/stupid/ugly/broken & cow/pig/man/bitch. You can pick and choose between these three reasons…I sort of wish for one, because I could just walk away from this, couldn’t I then? There is also that a face really isn’t necessary for criticism unless your predilections to judge that face are somehow, pardon the pun, facially neutral. White abled trans women have failed me over and over again at being able to be so neutral, so I will just allow for the implicit bias. But why is the abuse necessary? Why the informing me how much FFS I will “need to ever pass” when that’s not what I asked for? It’s kicking the unfamiliar. Why not “Hi, what’s your name?”

This is, unfortunately, typical of the outright abuse that is used as an informal gatekeeping system within any organized commons that “trans community” is supposed to gather in. And, well, when you’re an unknown, that’s the only option you’re given. I have never been able to understand why the abuse is so necessary, but there’s always an excuse, and you think you’re out, have some basic trans-related question, and get pointed back to that commons again. The unknown party has to clear whatever the hazing ritual is. I didn’t pledge in college (WOO NON-HELLENIC ELITIST BULLSHIT LIBERAL ARTS SCHOOLS!) but I know men and women who did. Despite the public lie that there’s no more hazing, it’s as true as climate change or the pay gap. It’s benignly ignored because they consented to it. It’s benignly ignored as long as nobody dies. It’s benignly ignored if nobody calls the cops.

Is benign ignorance really something we’re comfortable with? Is it okay to mock someone’s disability or their name and then put the onus on them for leaving after they’ve been mocked and thus explicitly told they aren’t welcome in this intentional space? Do you make fun of the names of people you think you’ll ever see as an equal? No, no you don’t, or you’re an asshole a la It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The joke in that show? It’s always on The Gang. Just like the joke was always on Archie Bunker. It means that isn’t how you’re supposed to behave, and you really shouldn’t do that. When the American media tells you, in comedic form, not to mock people, maybe there’s a hidden message there.

See, you may well say I’m weak. But we need to talk about something here, and that something is microaggressions. You know, old meme, sometimes misused. But those microaggressions add up. Pretty much any day I leave the house and venture into Polite White Society, I play a fun game called “how long will it take for someone to call me a retard?” Some days, I get lucky and don’t hear it. Some days, it’ll be 3 times before lunch. Generally, the fancier I look, the less it happens…in my suit, it’s rare. In my daily wear, it’s not. It’s the white abled man’s way of reminding me I am beneath him on the food chain and in his way, and this makes him unhappy. It rarely comes from white women, and almost never from people of color. Nope, just white abled men. I know what your reaction is, though. It’s “she’s saying this so I’ll feel sorry for her.” No. I’m saying this because this is a fact of my life, and like the facts of your life, it is how it is. If you feel pity, you’re looking down on me as a person. If you roll your eyes, you’re saying it’s not a fight you can or want to take. But what I want is for you to get angry. I don’t want your money, your sympathy, or your cheapening pity. No, I want change, and the only way the dispossessed really get change is anger.

Microaggressions have this way of stacking at bad times, like when you’re depressed, your joints hurt, you’re under stress at work, etc. Because of this, these are the times you may notice things you’d otherwise ignore, like, say, a white dude slamming past you and calling you a “retard” as he chucks you into the farebox of the bus. A good day, you mutter “rude”.  A bad day, you spend the entire trip down Fourth Plain trying not to cry, duck behind the weed shop when you get off, and lose it…this happened to me just the other day. The world is full of them, and as a person who has to participate in the world to not be miserable and to have a paycheck, they can roll into a big ball by the end of the week.

This is why the culture of hazing in our community’s commons is a problem. See, when you’ve got this giant ball of bullshit you’ve accrued, it really hurts to go into a setting where you’re told about how welcoming and diverse our community is…and almost everyone’s white. And one of those people sent you 12 FB messages during the fucking meeting about what a horrible person you are. And one of those people decided to make fun of your name, a name you can’t even stand, but can’t get away from using, because our community demands the greatest “accountability”, a nice way of saying “you don’t ever get to make a mistake”, from the people who are positioned as outgroup. Because as your Twitter feed will remind you every day, serial abusers, rapists, ex-“T**F” white trans women, and my god WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT CAITLYN JENNER get endless second chances, but the assumption that someone who can’t handle constant microaggressions  in intentional space is somehow sinister means you get one chance and every mistake is permanent. I guess skinny white rapists are just better Calvinists…er, I mean white women….than you.

So you get reminded of this, every day. You get your name mocked, but yet you get threatened that your name will be reported to Facebook if you speak out about how we treat you (bring it). You get invited to things for “femme-of-center trans women only” and can’t figure out how to say that you can’t go because you’re explicitly unwelcome, but then people get weird that you didn’t go. Well, let’s see. If you go, and you’re adjudged “not femme enough” by the same caliber of white trans woman who’s busy calling you a man, you’ll be accused of invading space. Invade space, that makes you a monster and you’ve blown your one chance. You’re not friends with the organizer on FB or even know what name they’re using on there, and there’s no handy email address to ask. But you’re crap for not going. And then when you bring it up, you get told you’re “shitting on” femmes for pointing out that something marketed as a TRANS WOMAN’S WHATEVER isn’t open to you.  So you ask hard questions, like “if you make fun of me and call me a man in jeans and a t-shirt, what would you say about my fat ugly ass in a dress and presenting femme?” and nobody is willing to answer. I’ve been pushed into a role of being more femme than I’m comfortable with for religious compliance and to be “allowed” to transition. (This is, of course, used to deride my entire narrative, because God knows Spack wasn’t notorious in the 90s for insisting on “perfection”. Oh, wait, he *was*!)  I’ve recovered from that to “whatever” as in I present however the hell I want, which is neither butch nor femme, but I know that to a white trans woman who wants to exclude, I’ll be “not femme enough” no matter what I do. Gotta keep carrying water for that patriarchy, ladies! Calvinism is your friend!

This is why it adds up. It looks like a bunch of little things to you. But it becomes a very large stack of shit to me. It looks like nothing to you, but you’re not the outsider in the picture. It looks like nothing to you, because you’ve been insulated from the path that the undesirables are shoved into: you have to go to the support group if you want to branch out.

But then you get mocked, because the support group is just too high on bullying.  So you try the political group. And then you get mocked. You know what they used to tell us in home ec? After the second insult from the head of the household, when you’re a guest, you and yours politely excuse yourself and go. It’s the calculus that has worked through interminable schmoozefests and awful dinners. When you know you’re going to lose, you leave. If you stick it out and react, you’ll be called an asshole. If you stick it out and ignore it, it keeps happening. If you leave, you at least are responding to the signal that you’re not welcome. The fact that people feel the need to broadcast this signal confuses me, bit I have more theories than Foucault here…not tonight.

We go through enough shit every day as living, breathing trans women. I do not understand why an order that favors the skinny white trans woman with a tech job and a rape problem over the weird fatty from the wrong side of the tracks is inviolable, but something’s gotta give, and until then, the aspersion cast that “you’re just an asshole on the internet” is retorted to with “yes, but you’re the asshole who cast the first stone.” Exclusionary politics and the idea that there should be multiple classes of trans women, an organization of classes that favors the most privileged in every way but one and yet can’t seem to bother admitting it, is casting that stone. The idea that when you don’t know what doctor to see and you’re not rail-thin, the answer is “go to the support group and ask”? That’s casting stones.

You want me to carry the water of being a stupid girl from the hood for you, my ass being the one that’s much more likely to get stabbed if I got outed in my local community, every day? You can understand that maybe the burden of that water means the hazing isn’t necessary.  Maybe the burden of that water is understanding why it took me an hour to get here. Maybe the burden of that water is chancing that perhaps a newcomer can bring you something and not “who the fuck are you?” Maybe the burden of that water is holding your tongue rather than “you come from a place of deficit.”

Because until there’s a commons, political, social, or whatever (or people stop using them as methods of screening) that doesn’t come with snippy comments about one’s intellect, the size of their ass, the place they live, their ostensible education level, or the consistency of their hair, there’s no commons that’s open to all of us. So it’s your call: consider that the people mainstream white trans theology considers beneath them aren’t actually beneath you, or change your damn commons. Stop writing off trans women who don’t agree with you in absolute cultlike lockstep as “T**Fs” and aim your dislike at the people who do seek to harm us from within through something much greater than polite dissent.  The priorities you may end up needing to address aren’t all the same, and the exclusionary tactics like “trans femmes only” to narrow down trans women’s spaces to only being for some trans women will need to come to an end, but…isn’t that better if your commons actually cares about the diversity it’s guilting some white people about without actually letting in the diverse cast of characters that forms the greater reality of what trans women are generally?

Don’t pity me. Don’t tell me how great I am. Fucking change things, or make new roads. But until then…until then much like the rest of the people who have been shoved aside by a purity-obsessed community that shelters abusers and grifters because they’re thin and white…there is no road for us. Road or not, I’d rather keep being myself. Being someone else kind of isn’t true to the “authentic self” we hear so much about in trans community. Because I don’t want to be the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, I want to be myself, too, and I know I’m not alone, it just feels that way.

January 13, 2016

white abled trans women in tech making six figures be all…

(Obligatory Disclaimer: There are certainly more than a few white trans women in tech who make six figures who aren’t at all awful. Some of y’all are pretty great, actually! In other words, this isn’t necessarily about you. If you haven’t blocked my ass in the past 3 months, or met me and panicked because omg gross fatty, this isn’t about you. Stay frosty and buy your pal Erica a beer?)

“Oh, you agreed with something *problematic*” …*block*

Don’t bother explaining. Don’t bother when you get busted making a post about how you can’t stand poor people with “low culture.” Don’t bother when one of your friends points out that no, even though someone like me isn’t the same kind of “proper” that we weren’t the people who beat you up in high school. I literally couldn’t have beaten you up in high school because we didn’t go to high school together, and I was too busy being an awful insecure bitch to beat people up. No, I wounded with words and zingers. But don’t bother with reality at all or the assumption that someone who is imperfect may still have value or may not have known someone’s friend of a friend knew someone who did something vaguely *problematic* which nobody bothered to tell you about but oops, you’re *problematic* now for not knowing. 

Just go on with your bad self. Pat yourself on the back some more that you won’t ever see another post where I explain offensive shit like the science of kicking a football or talk about scary things like choosing not to have facial surgery half because I don’t have the ducats and half because frankly I don’t want to “look abled.” I don’t want my face “fixed”, and frankly don’t care if you do or not, but I’ll support you either way…just understand that though I am by no means gorgeous, this is my face. I’ve had it for a long time, and I would be someone else if I changed it. I don’t want to be someone else.

I used to feel bad when these people back-stabbed or turned on my fat ugly ass. And you know what? You’ve invented a newspeak where more time is spent defending shitty people because they’re *~*important*~* to you rather than having nuanced discussion where the realities of being human and the actions of humans might come up.
You can be Marie Antoinette all you want. Brioche is gross as fuck anyways. Do hope the money keeps you warm at night once you’ve decided everyone who isn’t skinny, white, rich and abled is too impure for your church. Did I say church? I meant “trans community.” Really.

Also, lemme get out in front of this: Biyuti and the too often forgotten Monica Maldonado both predicted this…separately, with different conclusions, but they both said it…years ago. I tried to be an optimist, I tried to believe, I hoped for some salvation. Y’all were right, and I don’t like being all THIS PERSON SAID IT FIRST but this is le truth. I didn’t buy in, because I thought reasoned criticism could change things. I was wrong.

You can block me all you want. You can tell tales all you want. There’s a reason I never sleep with anyone like this, I’m never alone in a room with anyone like this, I never take a red cent of their money. They want people like you and I to be beasts, to be their fears.
When we are instead humans, they have no place for us in their church…er, I mean trans community. When we are sinners, our sins are unforgivable. When they sin, their sins are okay. If you grew up in a white fundamentalist Christian church, you know how it is. Some sins are fine. Some sinners are not. Your ironic tech stock options are great, but fat queer freaks who don’t have “learned” enough taste are not.

I am no beast. I’m sorry that conclusion hurts you…actually, no, no I’m not sorry at all.