As the title suggests, everything on this blog concerns violence against trans women.
The Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project is a trans feminist project addressing issues of systematic, institutional and interpersonal violence and oppression experienced by trans women (those who were coercively assigned male at birth and identify or are identified as women/female) across multiple identities (e.g., race, class, dis/ability, citizen-status, nationality, sexuality, age, HIV status, and form, status, or age of transition, etc.)
Ida Hammer is a writer and social justice communicator. She organizes the Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project. She presents workshops and trainings on cis privilege and being a trans ally. She's also involved in organizing against sexualized violence. She's a proud dyke-identified trans woman and an organizer of the New York City Dyke March.
[tw for transmisogynistic slur]
Today someone asked me what I think of the event called “Hey tranny, it’s tranny” occuring during Seattle Pride. Here’s what I had to say
For me, it’s a lot less about the word being a “bad” word or someone being bad for using it as much as it is about being conscious and thinking through the consequences and outcomes for the community. I hadn’t heard of Hey Tranny, It’s Tranny, until you pointed me to it. I don’t want to make any snap judgments, but knowing the community here, my guess is the reason why the title is tolerated has more to do with how the concerns of trans women are not taken seriously in the Seattle queer and trans community rather than because of any kind of evolution toward it being a non-issue. Ultimately, I’d expect that the vast majority of trans women will avoid the event because of title - as well as many allies to trans women. It bothers me that the organizers, who either know or should know that will be the outcome, chose that outcome anyway. In many spaces, I take that as an indication that the support to or even awareness of trans women’s issues will be minimal and that any trans women who do go would have a strong chance of experiencing some inappropriate behavior or statements.
Many events here fail to create inclusive space for trans women. In some cases, trans women literally are turned away at the front door, in others they encourage a hostile environment, but probably the majority of queer spaces intend no disrespect while also doing nothing to dismantle the hostile environment that already exists throughout the community. Using the term tranny flippantly or without great care does not cause this problem, but it is often an indicator of where the problem might be worse.
The Senate passed the first LGBT-inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act, which will now provide explicit protections for LGBT survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
I received this series of questions in my ask box, and I’m blockquoting instead of answering because they requested I leave their name off the post.
Hi! I’m the one who asked the question about trans guys and misogyny that you responded to recently; hit anonymous by mistake, but if you decide…
Signal Boosting this. Check out the original post at trans grrl riot
i find myself becoming nauseous. again. i’m tired and nauseous with those in my local women’s and transgender communities who gloss over, disregard, and/or intentionally exclude trans women and transfeminine issues. and for pathetic reasons at that.
i really like the chicago women’s health center (CWHC). i like the staff. i like the atmosphere. i like what they do. and yeah – i’m actually a client. but, really, i’m not a client for their Trans Greater Access Project (TGAP), and i’ll tell you why.
chicago women’s does not provide medical services, besides counseling, to trans women / transfeminine folks. i want to spell this out c-l-e-a-r-l-y so no one get’s frustrated that i’ve misinformed anyone.
TGAP provides the following things according to their website:
- Masculinizing hormone replacement therapy
- Trans gynecology
…and then the ones that they’ve had in place that can be like “well yeah this includes trans people”
- Counseling and Therapy
- Artificial Insemination (AI)
they do not provide feminizing hormone replacement therapy. they intend to start a pilot program for this “soon.” they’ve done the masculinizing hormone replacement therapy for one year now. AI and trans gynecology for transmasculine folks have existed longer at CWHC – so we can see that transfeminine exclusion isn’t entirely new.
but going to hormone replacement therapy, which is very important to many transgender people. why would they make such a decision to include transmasculine before transfeminine folks? the answer given to me from TGAP was, “they didn’t see a need for it [feminizing hormone replacement therapy] in the community.” really? like. really?
the specifics are: apparently (i have not confirmed this) transmasculine folks stopped being able to get hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for those without insurance before transfeminine folks at another local chicago clinic, howard brown. chicago women’s decided to step in and say there is a need for uninsured transmasculine folks who desire HRT. apparently there was a group of transgender (female / feminine and male / masculine) folks who got together with CWHC to assess the needs of the trans community.
chicago women’s, i call bullshit. there’s ALWAYS a need for HRT accessibility, and y’all know that. if this was an honest error of trying to assess needs then i call complicity in forgetting the deep wedge between cis women and trans women and the ugly legacy of transphobic “feminism.” how would you expect transfeminine people at-large to agree with serving transmasculine people and simply nodding at our exclusion (however temporary) at a women’s health center.
let’s just call it what it is, shall we? TGAP is female-assigned at birth health. trans health in the context of feminist health has meant transmasculine health.
so why am i getting in a tussle about this right now? because i’m so dreadfully torn between supporting transmasculine friends and the services that i DO enjoy at chicago women’s.
there’s a benefit coming up at the burlington (one of my fave bars when i used to live in logan square) for TGAP and, you’d never guess, all of the hosts for this fundraiser are masculine-identified! i’m expecting a low low low turnout from transfeminine people.
not only is it seriously tearing at my nerves that this fundraiser exists, but these organizers that i like and respect are brushing asidetransfeminine folks just like CWHC softly covers up their exclusion of trans women from their trans services. the event has even been billed by one of the organizers as “a program promoting trans-affirming health care for everyone on the transgender spectrum.” THAT’S MESSED.
the burden of changing this b.s. is on women’s health centers, including the CWHC.
so far they haven’t taken any action besides my private call outs. maybe this will help.
Like, even from people that are fucking awesome about everything else.
It never seems to cross peoples minds to be inclusive towards trans women.
It never seems to cross peoples minds to acknowledge trans women.
It never seems to cross peoples minds that without inclusive and acknowledging statements, trans women need to assume that we aren’t wanted.
We NEED to do this because we are tired as fuck of assuming that we are being included.
We are tired of coming into women’s groups and being victimized and abused.
We are tired of going to rape crisis centers and being turned away because our existence is triggering.
We are tired of wanting a safe space and then being told WE are the rapists, the deceivers, the monsters, and the child molesters.
We are tired of being the punchline and the joke. The fetish object and “best of both worlds” so long as we’re gone by morning.
Never mind the fact that many of us are victims of rape.
That many of us have dealt with child abuse.
That many of us have been physically assaulted.
That all of us live and deal with the constant deceptive nature of cis people.
We NEED to assume we aren’t wanted. Because the whole wide world is telling us we’re trash and we can’t be arsed to assume that you actually meant to include us when you said fucking nothing.
We don’t have the fucking luxury to assume that we are being included.
Make it damn clear that you want us around.
Make it clear that you won’t put up with transmisogyny.
Make it clear that you view us as women. That you view us as fucking people.
I’d like to see some fucking solidarity, but I wonder if this will even be reblogged?
And if it is reblogged I wonder how many people that aren’t trans women will do so?
I’m honestly not betting much, so I guess we’ll see.
Issues like those discussed above are exactly why the Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project exists.
Unfortunately, even those who claim to be “inclusive” and/or “allies” often fail trans women. You can’t just wake up one day and call yourself an “ally,” add “transgender” to a list of words for people you include, and simply claim to be against “transphobia.” Far too often I hear these things when it’s clear that those making these claims haven’t done the necessary work to address their own daily experience of cis privilege and internalized assumptions of cis supremacy.
The society we live in is cissexist to its core. So supporting trans women requires more than words and good intentions. It requires nothing less than a conscious and sustained effort to literally change the society we live in. If you are doing anything less than that you are not really supporting trans women.
No More Apologies: Queer Trans and Cis* Women, Coming/Cumming Together!
A FREE conference about social exclusion, sex, and sexual health
No More Apologies is a day-long sex talk, designed to name and address the exclusion of queer trans women from broader queer women’s sexual communities.
Social exclusion negatively impacts trans queer women’s sexual, emotional, and psychological health; meanwhile, by excluding trans women from our communities, cis queer women are missing out on a multitude of sexy, wonderful women to love, fuck, and connect with.
Join us for this long overdue conversation and call-to-action about how to transform our talk about trans inclusion into practice.
Because trans inclusion means more than including trans men in our communities.
Because trans inclusion means more than just saying “women and trans people” in our mission statements.
Because welcoming trans women into our spaces is not the same as welcoming them into our beds.
Because our actions are speaking louder than our words.
2:00-2:45 : “What we’re all here for”: Opening plenary by Drew DeVeaux
3:00-4:15 : Brazen: A pleasure-based sexual health workshop for trans women and the folks who are into us, facilitated by Morgan M Page
4:30-5:30 : Concurrent break-out sessions (facilitators TBA)
—> Trans women talk: A discussion on experiences of exclusion in the queer women’s community
—> Cis women talk: A discussion on trans women’s inclusion in the queer women’s community
6:00-7:00 : Coming/cumming together: A dialogue between trans/cis queer women (facilitators TBA)
9pm : Join us for Cum2GetHer, a post-conference dance party and the launch of BRAZEN: The Trans Women’s Safer Sex Guide, a new guide from the 519 Church Street Community Centre. Hosted by Drew DeVeaux with homo-gogo’s and music by DJ L-Rock (Yes Yes Y’All) and DJ Mama Knows (Get It | Got It | Good)! While the conference is only for queer trans and cis women, all are welcome to the party! Check out the Facebook event at: http://www.facebook.com/events/272257252833748/
To pre-register, or for more information, please contact Kate at email@example.com or 416-961-0113, x. 123
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- This conference welcomes both trans and cis women who have sex with women
- The conference space is wheelchair accessible, and interpreter/attendant services can be made available upon request. TTC tokens will also be made available for conference attendees. Please let us know if there are any other ways that we can make this conference accessible for you!
- For the well-being of attendees with multiple chemical sensitivities, we ask that you please avoid wearing scented products like perfume, cologne, scented lotions, or any other chemical-based products to the event.
ABOUT THE NO MORE APOLOGIES WORKING GROUP: The No More Apologies working group (comprised of Morgan M Page, Mara Pereira, Savannah Garmon, Rebecca Hammond, and Kate Klein) is a group of queer trans and cis women who came together as part of the Sex Talk Series to think of ways to fill the gaps in sexual health promotion for trans women who have sex with women. Special thanks also go to Terri Mathews and Sally Lewis for their contributions to the project.
ABOUT SEX TALK: This event is part of “Sex Talk 2: A Sexual Health Workshop Series for LGBTQ Women”. Sex Talk is a project of Planned Parenthood Toronto, in partnership with the 519 Church Street Community Centre and Sherbourne Health Centre. Sex Talk 2 is generously funded by the Community One Foundation.
*Cis, short for “cisgender”, is an adjective used to describe any person who identifies/feels comfortable with the gender that they were assigned at birth.
Photographs by James Calder
When Kayley Whalen signed up for roller derby in May 2008, she lied about who she was.
“I was required to sign a code of conduct that stated, ‘transsexual women are allowed to join if it has been at least two years since surgery, per International Olympic Committee rules’,” she writes in a recent article for FiveOnFive, a roller derby magazine.
Whalen, who skates under the name Lenore Gore, was drafted onto the DC Rollergirls team Scare Force One, and in this newfound sport, she found excitement, competition and friendship. She bonded with her teammates during games, after practices and at other squad outings.
In the rink, Lenore Gore is the “jammer,” scoring points while speeding past the other team’s players while blockers with names like Dyke Diggler, Velocity Raptor and Marion Barrycuda toss opponents aside to clear the way. It’s sisterhood through bruising.
Whalen, who is 26, is lean and athletic, has shoulder-length brown hair and affects a disarmingly cheerful smile. One minute she’s on the bench, grinning in anticipation; the next she’s elbowing her way past other skaters, her smile transformed into “get-the-hell-out-of-my-way” determination.
Naturally, as members of Scare Force One drew closer together, the conversations eventually turned toward personal origins. Here, Whalen was forced to clam up. The policies used then by DC Rollergirls meant that if she came out to her teammates as transgender, she would be expelled from the league.
It almost came crashing down in that first season:After winning a particularly vicious bout, an anonymous complaint was filed with my league’s Board of Directors demanding an investigation into my medical history to determine whether I was woman enough to skate with the league.
Fortunately for Whalen, Scare Force One’s captain was empathetic. Her team’s leader studied up on transgender issues and said there was no pressure to come out. Still, Whalen also learned during this conversation that a few rumors had been bandied about alleging her transgender status gave her an “unfair advantage.”
Not long after, Whalen was confronted at practice by another skater who didn’t quite understand; the conversation escalated until their respective captains pulled them apart. That anonymous complaint was tossed out as a privacy violation, but the message was sent: Roller derby needed to become more inclusive toward Whalen and other present and future transgender players.
Whalen’s no stranger to activism. For years, she’s been at the throat of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, which is just about the biggest grassroots, feminist music and arts event in the country. But for all its progressivism, the festival has always been closed to transgender women. In 2006 and 2008, Whalen helped establish Camp Trans, an offsite protest settlement. For the past two years, she’s infiltrated the festival gates to bring Camp Trans inside the event.
“I think I know just about every transgender activist woman who identifies as queer in every major city in the U.S. and Canada,” she says in an interview.
Given her brio for making the world a fairer, more open place, it’s no surprise to learn that today Whalen spends a lot of time with Occupy D.C., or that her day job is with an outfit called the American Humanist Association.
But not all activism can be so overt. Transforming roller derby has been more procedural and more personal. And the job’s not finished yet.
Whalen came out to some of her teammates in dribs and drabs in the months after those initial conversations, but not to all of them, and definitely not to the league.
In 2009, Whalen contributed an essay for Gender Outlaws, an anthology of personal stories from transgender writers making their way in what is hopefully a more accepting century. But given what would happen if DC Rollergirls realized she was transgender, Whalen submitted her essay under a pen name—the derby-appropriate Uzi Sioux. That she didn’t want to upset those who had helped make D.C. Rollergirls a more accepting organization also contributed to her anonymity.
In October 2010, a few months after Gender Outlaws was published, Bluestockings, a feminist bookstore in New York, held a release party. Of the book’s many contributors, Whalen was one of a handful invited to read a passage. No more anonymity.
“At that point I was out to a lot of members of my team, but not the whole league,” she says. Promoting the book in public “was a pretty simple decision because I love fighting for transgender inclusion and rights. And it wasn’t my city.”
Even though she was away from home, this would blow her cover. Bluestockings was packed with bodies. “I was like, ‘I don’t give a fuck. Here’s my real name,’ ” she says.
By then, and in the ensuing months, it had become an open secret that leagues sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), the sport’s governing body, were home to transgender players. The surgery-based policy needed changing.
If roller derby’s transgender movement had its Yalta Conference, the East Coast Derby Extravaganza in Philadelphia this past June was it. In March, WFTDA announced a new policy defining “female” as having a “medically acceptable” level of hormones according to a player’s physician.
It’s far from perfect, Whalen says, but it’s a big step forward. Not all at the Philadelphia derby confab agreed. The Philly Rollergirls came out against the new policy as still too restrictive, saying it would lead to witch-hunts. Among her hometown squad, Whalen’s support for the new policy put her in an awkward position.
“A bunch who knew I was trans said, ‘We don’t like the policy, I’m voting against it,’ “ she says. “Ironically what happened was I sided with the girls who had called me out years before and had bullied me.”
In promoting WFTDA’s revised policy, Whalen found herself coming out to more people—teammates, even—than before. But telling her story was no longer the burden it had been just three years prior.
“I talked to so many people about the policy,” she says. “Dozens, hundreds—it was so easy.”
After the conversations about the new rules, which take effect in January, Whalen asked FiveOnFive, the derby magazine, if she could write about the conversations she had to make her sport more open toward transgender players. And she wrote this one under her own name.
Not that things are entirely settled. The Philly Rollergirls are still against the revised transgender policy, and Whalen writes in her article that she hopes their protests will lead to further, “more inclusive” changes such as written guarantees against the use of hormone testing.
But Whalen’s article isn’t just about a new policy; it’s how she came to be accepted within roller derby and how it’s a bit less scary today for an eager transgender skater to jump into that anarchic rink. Today, Lenore Gore plays “derby mom” to two newer members of DC Rollergirls, one of whom is transgender herself. Riled up Girl Scouts approach her in admiration after matches. She’s even compelled a few seasoned veterans to come out.
After Whalen’s article was published online, a former member of Chicago’s Windy City Rollers—“one of the best leagues in the world,” Whalen says—came out in one of the comments. The skater, who goes by the name Meg Guyver, wrote:I’m a transgender skater as well, but I actually completely approve of the policy that is about to be implemented. One thing I’m sure nearly everyone can agree on is how wonderful it is that we’ve progressed to a point when everyone can openly and honestly discuss this issue as adults.
“I never knew she was trans,” Whalen says.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, this article originally stated the rule barring transexual women within two years of surgery was implemented by WFTDA. It was issued by DC Rollergirls.
After a Denver Girl Scout troop decided to allow a 7-year-old transgender child into the troop — reiterating that Girl Scouting was about empowerment and inclusion — a representative from Colorado’s statewide organization, Rachelle Trujillo, told The Christian Post that “if parents brought a child to a meeting, and the child is recognized in the community as their daughter, then the Girl Scouts accept that. We don’t require proof of gender.”
She went on to emphasize that inclusion policies should be handled, as they always have been, at a regional level.
While parents of trans kids applauded the decision, apparently not all Girl Scout moms were happy. According to The Christian Post, three troop leaders in rural Louisiana resigned their posts and are dissolving their troops over the inclusive policy. All three leaders were affiliated with Northlake Christian School in the town of Covington.
unsure how i feel about this response? is she saying that they took out the phrase “female-born” but still don’t include trans women? seems like a cop-out, julie.
but whatever. i’m not gonna buy your publication anyway.
Being a trans hooker is hard work these days. Not only do you have to navigate a potentially dangerous work environment, try to stay out of the criminal justice system, possibly deal with being HIV+, often live precariously without immigration status in the country you work in, worry about violence and harassment from other sex workers, and deal with a society that puts so much stigma onto your profession that you might not be able to get stable housing, you also have to hear just about every non-sex working trans person alternately use your existence as a political pawn in their campaigns for middle-class privileges (often called “rights”) and condemn you for either being a victim or making the movement look bad. As I said, it’s hard work.
Here are some of the dumbass things you’re probably going to hear regularly when you enter non-sex working trans spaces, especially trans activist spaces (and these activists will, of course, lament the lack of involvement from sex workers in their efforts).
Sex work is perfectly fine as a choice, but we need to talk about how survival sex work and “trafficking” are hurting our community!
What they’re actually saying here is that sex work is fine if you have an MA in Women’s Studies and work in queer feminist porn (which they can happily jerk off to without feeling like bad feminists). These same people usually have only a tenuous grasp on the concept of trafficking, probably don’t have any sex workers in their close circle of friends (unless they have the aforementioned MA in Women’s Studies). They are quick to become angry if you suggest that coercive sex work is actually rare, statistically, or that you chose street sex work because it made sense for your life at the time.
All sex work is survival sex work, in exactly the same way that I could describe all jobs at McDonald’s as survival food service jobs.
I wish the media would stop making it look like we’re all hookers!
I actually hear this as: you sex workers are making the rest of us look bad! How will my parents/grandmother/best friend/dog ever accept me if they think that I’m a HOOKER?
Let’s be real for a minute. Media representations focusing on a single stereotype suck for every oppressed or underrepresented group. That’s totally fair. What’s not fair is when the rest of the community backlashes against this by trying to distance themselves entirely from those represented by the stereotype. At the end of the day, I don’t care if the fact that I and a lot of my friends are or were sex workers makes your grandmother uncomfortable. What I care about is the fact that sex work is still illegal in so many countries, leading to more violence, stigma, and murders of trans and cis sex workers, yet there’s been little effort by mainstream trans (or queer) organizations to help sex worker organizations fight for their rights. Nevermind that our entire movement in North America was founded by sex workers. Do the names Silvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson mean anything to you?
Trans Day of Remembrance is about the murders of transgender people simply for being transgender.
This happens a lot. I try to come from a place of compassion when responding to this, but my first thought is usually “You must be new here.” Trans activists will be more than willing to “fight for your rights” as long as you’re dead and they can list you on their TDOR list. Most of the organizations that hold TDOR events, especially those on college campuses (organized by the army of Aydyns), won’t mention that you were a sex worker. They won’t mention that you were murdered while doing sex work. They won’t mention sex work when they speak at the event about how hard it is to be a white, male, queer, trans University student. Won’t somebody please think of how hard that is for them?!
I am often the only person in the room at trans organizing events who has sex work experience. I know that I am there because I hold a position within the community that is seen as important and because I’m a former sex worker, rather than a current sex worker. The trans men in the room (who inevitably make up 90% of those in attendance) will often ask me, together or in private, how they can make the space more accessible to trans women and to trans sex workers. And I think about the things that they say about sex work, the way that they treat having their cis femme girlfriends in the room as being “inclusive of women’s perspectives,” and the fact that almost all of them either have degrees or are students. And I just smile say “I really don’t know.”