“The perpetuation of the mythology that trans women deserve violence because we “deceive” straight men needs to be debunked and put to rest once and for all.”—Laverne Cox, in a Huffington Post essay for Transgender Day of Remembrance (via janetmock)
“Loving trans people, I believe, is a revolutionary act. And I believe when we love someone, we respect them and we listen to them; we feel that their voice matters and we let them dictate the terms of who they are and what their story is.”—Laverne Cox Keynote address, Creating Change 2014 (via fuckyeahlavernecox)
**I wrote this over the summer, but am thinkin’ about it again**
In light of the rash of queer bashing that’s plagued New York this summer, I feel the need to talk about my experience with harassment as a woman and as a trans person. I’ve lived in many places, some of them “safer” than others, but I have always been exposed to a certain level of harassment and the threat of violence (I have never been physically attacked *knocks on wood*) Like it or not, I am often read as female in public and that exposes me to the harassment that comes with being female in our society. I say “like it or not” because there are plenty of people who DON’T like it, who don’t believe it, who refuse to accept that any part of my lived experience could be “typically female.” (Google “trans critical feminism” if you don’t know what I mean.) I don’t care whether strangers on the internet believe me or not, though. This is my daily life, not a gender theory class. I get cat called often. Sometimes men literally make the same noises at me that I would use to get a cat’s attention. Today, a man repeatedly called out to me “looking good!” He eventually shifted gears to “I’m trying to compliment you, bitch,” when I wouldn’t acknowledge him. I’ve been called every ugly word there is for “woman” by men who somehow think this will get me to go home with them. I have literally had a man scream right in my face at the very top of his lungs, “I WANT YOUR PUSSY!” I’ve been propositioned in the grocery store, at work, on the bus, on the sidewalk. This is not a unique experience, it literally happens to millions of people every day.
I often face another form of harassment, though. When I first moved to New York, a 12 to 14 year old boy on the subway said of me, “What is that thing?! If I had a sledgehammer, I would fuckin’ kill that thing!” The reality was that he (who was +/- 100 lbs smaller than me) wouldn’t have done ANYTHING with a sledgehammer, had he possessed one. It was the sentiment that horrified me, terrorized me, and made me afraid to leave my house again for days. When I am read as trans, I am exposed to an even greater level of dehumanization and potential violence. I take for granted that my community knows about this, but find more often than not that people are shocked when I share these stories (which are mild by comparison to the experiences of some.) Just a few days ago, outside of a restaurant in my neighborhood, a group of men (thinking I was listening to music) loudly asked one another how much they’d have to be paid in order to “fuck [me] up.” They were calling me “it” and one of them said he would do it for $100. When I’m seen as a cis woman, I have no agency and I have no privacy. My space, time, conversation, and attention are not my own. They are owed to men, who feel entitled to demand them from me at any time. When I’m seen as a trans woman, I’m seen as literally devoid of humanity. At best, I get laughed at and stared at. At worst, people casually discuss murdering me as easily as they complain about the weather. This is constant. This is why I wear headphones everywhere I go. And I’m nowhere near as vulnerable as some. I’m white and I’m big. A man once shouted at me, “damn, girl! You look like you could knock someone the FUCK OUT!” I’ve had people throw balled up paper, trash, even bottles at me, but I’ve never been in an actual physical confrontation with an attacker on the street. I’m both lucky and privileged in that regard.
I don’t have a point, really. It’s just that attention to street harassment that’s come up in the last few weeks has left me preoccupied with this. I also wonder how many people in my social network who aren’t trans women have considered this double-bind and how it plays out in the lives of trans women. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
TL;DR Shit’s rough out there and people are awful.
“I am a trans woman. My sisters are trans women. We are not secrets. We are not shameful. We are worthy of respect, desire, and love. As there are many kinds of women, there are many kinds of men, and many men desire many kinds of women, trans women are amongst these women. And let’s be clear: Trans women are women.”—
Yesterday we were thanked for being silent and respectful to a grieving family seated center stage. We were instructed to keep politics at the door though politicians had a front-row seat with camera crews readied for their election year soundbites. …
The only reason I left not feeling defeated was because of you, in all your resilience, beauty, brilliance and ferocity. You held me up, you told me that we would get through, and you showed up despite knowing the open secret we all carry: that Islan was not the first to fall and she will not be the last.”
”—My open letter to trans women who attended Islan Nettles “community vigil” in Harlem last night. We must mourn, we must work, we must demand better for ourselves and our sisters. (via janetmock)
I am writing this blog tonight in response to recent events which have taken place. Domonique Newburn (Fontana, California), Islan Nettles (Harlem, New York) and a young trans woman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania were all murdered in the same week. All were trans women of color.
“Transfeminism is primarily a movement by and for trans women who view their liberation to be intrinsically linked to the liberation of all women and beyond. It is also open to other queers, intersex people, trans men, non-trans [cis] women, non-trans [cis] men, and others who are sympathetic to the needs of trans women and consider their alliance with trans women to be essential for their own liberation. …
Transfeminism is not about taking over existing feminist institutions. Instead, it extends and advances feminism as a whole through our own liberation and coalition work with all others. It stands for trans and non-trans [cis] women alike and asks non-trans [cis] women to stand up for trans women in return. Transfeminism embodies feminist coalition politics in which women from different backgrounds stand up for each other, because if we do not stand for each other, nobody will.”—Emi Koyama, “The Transfeminist Manifesto” (via transfeminism)
“I’ve been saying this for years, that gender identity and sexual orientation are different but so many people don’t know. I think that the reason for that is that we are in the LGBT community and we get lumped with gay and lesbian folks and bisexual folks, but [for us] it’s not about sexual orientation, but gender identity. I also think that a lot of the issues that folks seem to have with gays and lesbians, particularly when kids are bullied, are about gender. It’s about someone assigned male at birth not acting the way a boy should act. So much of it comes down to gender and this fear of femininity in our culture. Julia Serano talks about this so brilliantly, even in the history of feminist theory, femininity has been presented as something that’s artificial and masculinity is something that’s authentic, and even in a lot of feminist discourse until recently, femininity was seen as something that was artificial and fake. So there is this fear of feminine that we see in a lot of different aspects of culture that is punished. That’s a part of patriarchy. In a lot of ways we can’t talk about homophobia and transphobia, without talking about patriarchy.”—Laverne Cox (via yomo7)
NEW RESEARCH STUDY FOR TRANS WOMEN!! FORWARD, RE-POST, LIKE, SHARE, ETC!!!
T-Talk – the newest study at Hunter College’s Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training – is a peer-led intervention developed in response to the acute health prevention needs of our community of New York City transgender women.
Are you a Woman of Trans Experience?
Do you have an active sex life and live in the NYC area?
Worried about your drug use? Interested in sharing about your life in the T-zone?
We’re interested in talking with you!
The women participating in this study will be compensated for the first study visit, attendance in the intervention sessions, and two follow-up appointments. They will receive up to $205 for their time. Some women will have additional follow-up appointments and may receive up to an additional $115.
Tell us your story! NO Judgments – Call (212) 206-7919
I mean, we can all hang out in our all-genders spaces. I’ll volunteer to keep them going, my partner can bring a batch of hir awesome cupcakes. But whether we are talking about a dyke march, a women’s conference, or localized feminist organizing, exerting external force to dismantle or destroy women’s spaces is never anything but misogynistic. And taking away an important resource from trans women is the truly transphobic act in this situation.
this is so fucked up - how is this ANY different from excluding trans women?
so because trans men want to be men, they don’t deserve a safe space? trans men don’t receive cis male privilege, you know. just COMING to a women’s only space puts them at a vulnerable position, outing themselves to the entire community of cis and trans women.
Wait, um… if it’s a women’s only space and we’re talking about a trans man, then his attending doesn’t out him as trans unless there is a special exemption for trans men. If there is no special exemption, his attending only outs him as a jerk - same as any cis guy who attended.
safe spaces should be for cis women and any trans* person who wants access.
where else are trans men going to be in a safe space?
Maybe in trans men’s spaces? Or men’s spaces that are trans inclusive. Or trans spaces. Or queer trans men can be in queer spaces. Trans men of color can be in POC spaces. Young trans men can be in youth spaces or trans youth spaces. Do I need to go on?
i guess i understand a trans* only space but.. that is literally the only place that trans men would be allowed. should queer/nonbinary people also be excluded from women’s only spaces?
You’re shifting the ground of my argument. I am not saying that all community spaces should become women only so that men aren’t allowed anywhere. Re-read my final paragraph above. What I am saying is that the few trans friendly women’s spaces that exist should not be dismantled. For inclusion of non-binary folks, look at what I’ve already writtenabout it. That’s not what this post is about, it’s about trans men.
I’ll emphasize that when I throw events or plan protests, I consciously think about making space for trans men. I am generally known as THE trans woman making queer/feminist porn focusing on trans women - and I’ve made sure to always include trans men in each of my films and even made a film focusing on trans men. There’s much more trans men focused queer porn out there and for the vast majority of it there is no reciprocal effort to include trans women. There is no risk of queer and trans spaces that include trans men suddenly disappearing because a play party or a dyke march decides to be for women only - without exception for trans men. In fact, I still see many queer and trans spaces that include trans men but are not so welcoming of trans women. And when trans women are excluded from *women’s* events, *women’s* colleges, and *women’s* shelters while men are welcomed, then we have a problem. Continued insistence that trans men belong in these spaces is dependant on the argument that trans men are somehow less men than cis men are. Relying on “socialized gender” or pre-transition history only gives credence to the exact arguments that are being used to deny trans women access.
Let’s not forget that there do existmen’s spacesthat arewelcomingof trans men. (In fact, I don’t think I can think of four equally prominent women’s spaces that include trans women.) Maybe you should support those men’s spaces rather than trying to dismantle women’s spaces that are welcoming of trans women. If you don’t want to be a part of those spaces because you’re genderqueer, then be a part of the myriad of genderqueer or queer spaces out there rather than trying to dismantle any other gendered spaces.
i don’t understand why trans men can’t speak on women’s issues if they want to - they still have experience with living as women & being treated as women. wanting to be/living as a man shouldn’t disqualify their voices. with trans women, having once been living as/treated like a man shouldn’t disqualify their voices, either.
It’s still different to have been a man who was living as and treated as a woman than it is to be a woman who has. No, that doesn’t disqualify your voice, but why do you have to show up to a women only sex party in order to share your voice? Most of the protests and rallies around women’s issues DO include men, trans and cis. Is it that big a deal to you if a few don’t?
i guess i can accept a women’s only space if there is always a corresponding trans*/queer only space (but what are the chances of that ever happening?). it still doesn’t seem quite right to me, because trans* men and queer people also have important experiences from living as or being treated as women.
What disturbs me here is that you seem to believe that women’s spaces need your acceptance or permission in order to exist despite you seemingly not being a woman. And what happens if we don’t get your permission? Will you start an internet petition like the one that sparked this original post asking for dyke march to make a special exception to include trans men but not cis men? Will you apply political pressure to try and shut it down by labeling our women only spaces transphobic?
Let me ask you, do you apply your criteria in reverse? Do you argue that every trans*/queer space should have a corresponding trans inclusive women’s space? Because I know a lot of “trans*/queer” spaces that don’t do a very good job of supporting trans women. Not to mention that some trans folks are straight. In fact, many trans women I know - including queer trans women - avoid trans/queer spaces in general because of the high risk of experiencing transmisogyny. And from my sense we seem to be lacking in trans inclusive women’s spaces much more than we are lacking in trans*/queer spaces.
Bottom line, though, it’s not a competition. We can have trans*/queer spaces AND women only spaces. And I’m not trying to take away trans*/queer spaces from you. I’m just responding to the folks who are trying to take away women only spaces from me.
“[D]rag queens can move freely within gay male settings as long as they abide by the implicit rules of such circulation. What would happen if a drag queen was not on the stage but rather cruised one of the many dark corridors of K.O.X. in search of a sexual partner? That gay men can accommodate the presence of drag queens on stage does not mean that gender liberation has arrived. Indeed, relegating gender performances to the stage implies that gay men do not “perform” their identities: they are just are. This containment of gender transgressions can, in turn, work against transgender people in a variety of ways. Drag queens are reduced to entertainment, coifed personalities whose only purpose is to titilate the gay male viewer. Framed as pure spectacle, this negates a variety of reasons why people might choose to cross-dress in a club: an exploration of one’s gender identity, a gesture of political intervention, a creative solution to border, and/or a way to the pay the rent.
A restriction of drag queens to the stage also suggests that drag is something you do; it is not something you are.”—
Vivane K. Namaste in “Tragic Misreadings: Queer Theory’s Erasure of Transgender Subjectivity” from Invisible LIves: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgender People (via queerandpresentdanger)
GUUUUHH this is so important. love to everyone who has to leave their identity at home in order to get laid.
Two transgender Jamaicans, Whitney and Tiana Miller, have joined J-FLAG’s We Are Jamaicanscampaign, which seeks to encourage respect and understanding for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. We Are Jamaicans is a participatory video campaign (http://www.youtube.com/user/equalityJA), which was launched on January 17, 2013 by J-FLAG to raise awareness about LGBT identity and community.
We cannot effectively reduce the incidence of violence against women in Jamaica if we continue to ignore socio-cultural factors that make violence against women permissible. Transgender Jamaican women are often not included in our vision for women’s rights in Jamaica despite their vulnerability to violence and discrimination. The voices of transgender women in the We Are Jamaicans campaign is in an effort to bring visibility to their lives and to not limit our definition of ‘woman’ to genitalia. In her video, Whitney stated that Jamaicans “are not accepting of people whose gender identities don’t align with their biological sex,” (http://youtu.be/O9iNYKqttc4). Tiana Miller, whose video can be seen athttp://youtu.be/GCHppSFrDYE said she does not have life easy in Jamaica. “I feel alienated, always being bashed by society, but that doesn’t change who I am,” she said.
J-FLAG is encouraging Jamaicans to recognise that we must embark on implementing a more multifaceted programme to address violence against our women and girls. It is important that we recognize and appreciate the need to create support systems for victims and their families, encourage honest conversations about gender, sex and sexuality, and teach mutual respect for each other. The campaign is funded by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition(CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project.
Remember that photo project I snarked about a couple of days ago? One of the models wrote to me, asking if that’s what I was talking about, and apologizing for the erasure of trans women. Here’s my response:
“Hey [trans guy],
I mean, it was partially about that, but moreso about the continued…
“When I asked Miss Major how the recession has affected transgender women and men, she laughed humorlessly and said, “We don’t have jobs to lose. We never had pensions for a company to take from us. I used to get $50 for a blowjob and now I get $25. The cost of me has gone down. And I’m going to accept it because I have to, whether it’s $25 or $50. I have to eat; rent’s due, I have to get it somehow.” Under the new economic regime, informal sector workers including transgender people may be working more hours and under potentially riskier circumstances. Miss Major estimates that since the start of the recession, twelve social service organizations in California alone have cut services that transgender clients depended on. She has extended her workday to include more one-on-one time and case management with community members coping with additional financial burdens.”—“This is What Pride Looks Like: Miss Major and the Violence, Poverty, and Incarceration of Low-Income Transgender Women”
by Jessica Stern, in the Scholar and Feminist online
I love that trans women have, in recent years, really banded together online and in print to name our specific issues and advocate for ourselves. However, I’ve noticed a very conspicuous absence of sex workers’ voices among those finding/creating representation. Little analysis is given to sex…
“…I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the front upon which I must battle these forces of…
My doctor, who is a trans woman, and I had a conversation today about the guy who raped me earlier this year. At first she was like “did you charge him?” When I explained that he’s a trans man of colour, she immediately got why I hadn’t. Not because I couldn’t bare to put a trans person,…
Another trans woman murdered in Antalya, Turkey: The murder toll for trans women in Turkey has tragically risen again following the death of Serap Güneşer, 25, last week. Güneşer, a sex worker, was stabbed and had her throat cut in Antalya in the early hours of Wednesday 24 October. She was alive when police arrived but died before she reached hospital. Turkish trans rights activist Kemal Ordek told Gay Star News that some of Güneşer’s friends tried to help her by staunching the blood flow, but when the police reached the crime scene they forcibly dispersed them using pepper spray. They also said there was a delay getting her to the hospital. (Anna Leach, Gay Star News, Oct 29, 2012)
Jamaica center will use grant to fight HIV in the transgender community: Although HIV/AIDS rates have generally been on the decline, transgender women of color are still at alarmingly high risk of contracting the disease, although one Jamaica health clinic is hoping a new funding stream will allow it to reduce some of the exposure in the transgender population. The Queens Health Center, at 97-04 Sutphin Blvd., is part of a network of clinics that will receive $1.5 million over the next five years to provide care and evaluation services to the transgender community. (Rich Bockmann, Times Ledger, Oct. 30, 2012)
Trans woman denied entry into Canada: A Riverside, California, woman says Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers pulled her aside and ultimately denied her entry Oct 22 because she is transgender. Domaine Javier says the first officer at Vancouver International Airport gave her a “weirded look” after checking her passport. Border guards accused her of lying, drug smuggling and working illegally, woman alleges. (Natasha Barsotti, Xtra!, Nov. 1, 2012)
Trans woman assaulted in pub: A 46-year-old trans woman has been attacked just minutes after entering a pub in Leicester City Centre. Giovanna Del Nord was punched in the head by a stranger, without warning, as she waited to be served in the Market Tavern, in Hotel Street. Ms Del Nord believes she was targetted because she is trans. (Scott Roberts, Pink News, Nov. 1, 2012)
Violence Against Trans Women Links Roundup (Oct 26 to Oct 27)
In Brazil, trans woman stoned to death: A 39 year old trans person was stoned to death in the city of Aracaju, Brazil. Madonna received mortal blows and was admitted to a hospital in Aracaju, the capital of the state of Sergipe, Brazil, in the early hours of Friday last week. She died four days later from severe head injuries. Maria Livia Vieira, one of Madona’s neighbor told the Brazilian portal infonet: ‘She was a very funny, happy person, who loved to dance and be playful, she didn’t hurt anyone.’ (Dan Littauer, Gay Star News, Oct. 26, 2012)
Off-duty D.C. police officer convicted of assault with a deadly weapon: A D.C. police officer who jumped onto the hood of a packed car and fired five gunshots at its occupants minutes after offering a transgender woman $500 for sex was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon Friday. Kenneth D. Furr, 48, also was convicted of solicitation. He was acquitted of the most serious charge he faced, assault with intent to kill, and six related offenses stemming from an Aug. 26, 2011, argument that turned violent. Furr faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the assault conviction and 90 days for solicitation when he is sentenced in January. He could have faced up to 30 years behind bars if he had been convicted of all the charges against him. (Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post, Oct. 26, 2012)
Jury frees man accused of shooting trans woman: [We believe the victim is misidentified in the linked article as a cross-dressing man. Since the victim lives and presents as a woman that is why we are identifying her as such here.] A jury acquitted Brian Jeremy White of armed robbery and aggravated assault Friday, according to court officials. White was accused of stealing a purse from Hayes and shooting her in the left leg during the crime on Sept. 11, 2011. Defense attorney James Finkelstein and District Attorney Greg Edwards disagreed as to what brought the jury to the acquittal. (Pete Skiba, Albany Herald, Oct. 26, 2012)
Women’s transgender status may have swayed jury to acquit shooting suspect: [We believe the victim is misidentified in the linked article as a cross-dressing man. Since the victim lives and presents as a woman that is why we are identifying her as such here.] A southwest Georgia prosecutor says he suspects a jury acquitted a suspect charged in a shooting because the victim was a man who testified wearing women’s clothes. Brian Jeremy White was found not guilty of armed robbery and aggravated assault charges Friday. He was accused of shooting Hayes in the leg while stealing her purse in September 2011. During the trial, Hayes wore women’s clothing and pearl earrings to court when she testified. District Attorney Greg Edwards says the jury’s verdict was probably influence by “the victim’s lifestyle.” (Associated Press, The Republic, Oct. 27, 2012)