Toi

Toi
the philosophactivist

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Freedom of Speech and Anti-Trans sentiments

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. I've been spurred to write this because one of my favorite "radical" organizing zines posted an article by a known anti-trans "radical" feminist scholar in order to say that the tactics trans activists used to get her not to be able to speak in various venues was not supported by them. I was shocked. I was upset. I was confused...Was I really seeing this? People blaming the victim in "radical" media. Marginalized people coming out against an already marginalized group. And as I posted my response on the short thread of responses I thought...I'm the only trans one here. No matter what I say, no one is going to get why this woman's inflammatory remarks are more than just annoying. Nobody is going to get that her anti-trans agenda incites even more violence and discrimination against trans folks- a group that is already subjugated and misunderstood.

Here's the article posted:

This woman, Sheila Jeffreys, says she is a victim and that she should be able to talk at whatever universities and conferences she wants and that trans folks are out to get her. This woman has published numerous works...spoken internationally. She has no problem being heard. She's even in judges ears telling them to not let trans children transition and collaborating with doctors and psychiatrists.

She says that her words are not "hate speech" but a "critique on transgenderism". Transgenderism? Last I checked a transgender identity wasn't an "ism" or as she calls it, a "practice".

This is the issue. Some feminists think that transwomen are further oppressing women...transmen are trying to gain power and are "choosing" this "lifestyle". Trans folks snap our fingers and have parts added and subtracted...and life becomes just peachy because- yay, now we can assimilate into the patriarchy and reinforce the gender binary. That was our plan all along. To gain power- if we don't get maimed, murdered or martyred that is. Yes, if we can just make it past THAT ( and the health disparities, unemployment, etc) we have it made. 

No one should be bullied or have death threats sent to them. (No, not even Ms. Jeffrey's).  But, groups should be able to keep anti-trans sentiments and hate speech from being presented on campuses and at certain conferences. I'm sure in a similar vein that the KKK doesn't want brown folks to exist and is against "negroism". Should they, too, be given a platform for their agenda? Both identities are murdered specifically because of their identity and sometimes because of erroneous portrayals. Oh but some will say...that's different. Don't conflate things.

No one's identity should be questioned and critiqued as part of some larger political statement while dismissing histories and realities. Not everything is black and white. Not everything can be explained away by some "radical feminist" philosophy.The truth is...you have no idea why anyone is trans. We are not some nameless, homogeneous group. There are more than just transwomen and transmen on the spectrum of gender variance. There are more reasons than "wanting to be male or female"..."not cutting it as our biological sex"...or "being crazy and misguided".  As soon as people begin to see this- maybe we can start an actual discourse. Because it's not actual discourse if you come to me with the thought in the back of your mind that I am crazy, diseased, wayward, upholding some patriarchy, a sell-out, etc.

That is all.

I will leave you with some of Ms. Jeffrey's most interesting commentary:

"The lesbian community needs to address the urgent political task of enabling lesbians to retain and love their lesbian bodies. If the suffering and destruction of lesbians is to be halted then we must challenge the cult of masculinity that is evident in such activities as drag king shows. We must challenge those forms of self-harm which are presently being promoted as progressive and liberating such as butch/femme roleplaying, sadomasochistic self-mutilation and the instruments, drugs and surgeries now being used to enable lesbians to ‘transition.' Though there has tended to be an attitude of liberal tolerance towards these practices on the part of many lesbians, which has allowed them to flourish, there has come a time when the very serious consequences of what have never really been ‘playful' behaviours needs to be recognised. There is a need to recreate the strong, separate, womanloving lesbian community which lesbians need in order to be proud and to thrive." From FTM Transsexualism and Grief- Sheila Jeffreys

Monday, May 14, 2012

E-Book: Notes from an Afro-Genderqueer

So, I went and did it. I put together a book of blogs, essays and articles so that you can find it all in one place.

Here's the e-book:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/toi-and-toi-scott/notes-from-an-afro-genderqueer/ebook/product-20123794.html

Still working on formatting for print book. I'll keep you posted.

Here are affordable e-books with excerpts from Notes from an Afro-Genderqueer, Venus and Saturn:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/AGQ

I'm also all about customizing, so if you have poems and essays you'd like to see- I'll personalize your book for you.

Email me at gqstreetpoet@gmail.com if you have questions, want a personalized book, want to collaborate on an anthology, workshop, exhibit or want to check out my chapbooks Venus and Saturn. More about them at my new website: www.afrogenderqueer.com.

Here's a video of my new poem- Surviving...*some camera difficulties, I'll upload a new one once I can get access to decent video equipment...like I said...I'm survivin'!

video

Survivin'

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Surviving

I've been thinking a lot about the collective queer brown experience. Of course we all have our individual experiences, but the majority of us have similar experiences with discrimination because of our skin color. It's an unfortunate common thread. I've been thinking a lot about how brown, queer voices are rarely heard. We've got few zines and magazines, papers, youtube videos. We have more than we did, but it's still such a small percentage of what's out there. 

I was talking to a friend of mine about how I wanted to locate more magazines and zines with transwomen represented. Especially brown transwomen. And it dawned on me...well, had been dawning on me for the last couple weeks now- brown womyn and men/transmen don't have much literature and art out there because we are too damn busy trying to survive. We are trying not to be the next statistic. There aren't a whole lot of mentors because we've lost so many in the struggle. Every week, more and more. The importance of our existence is questioned every moment. So yea- there are a lot of stealth brown transfolks and closeted queers because life is difficult and even moreso when you're out. It's dangerous to be out, and if you're publishing magazines and zines and highly visible...that's an issue (pun intended).

Why would we opt to have our own community turn its back on us? Why give up the only family we have? It's not so easy for folks who aren't in metropolitan cities to forsake everything for the "queer bubble". Lots of us don't have queer bubbles ...don't have access to those spaces in metropolitan cities. It's rough. It's not just rough, it's jagged. And queers living in those spaces need to realize that it's a privilege that not everyone is privy to.


So many of us are underemployed or unemployed because of these multiple layers. I know for a fact that I am unemployed because of my gender presentation and skin color here in the south. I am queer. A dress is not going to change that. I can't bleach my skin. So I am screwed. I go in to these all white non-profits who are helping brown folks, but won't hire brown folks (accept for the usual tokens to translate for the "natives")...it's disgusting. It's infuriating. 

I'm tired of being othered. And if there are any brown folks out there that think you are playing the game right...that you finally got your propers from the white man and the system. Think again. There is no 100% assimilation. As soon as you mention something about your culture or a value other than the "dominant" value---white values--your days are numbered. Now you are "just like the rest of them". Rest of US.

Don't pass your judgement on  brown, queers who are going into sex work and the informal economy to survive. We aren't some hipsters who are "renouncing" mommy and daddy's paychecks and trust funds to "rough it" or grow a conscience Americorps style...we are trying to survive! We didn't CHOOSE this. It's not a CHOICE.  We didn't wake up and say...hey I want to waste my money on an education or...hey I want to be poor today-I just want to get a taste of what it's like to not be privileged.

 I have NO insurance. NO public assistance. I'm staying with family...I'm barely making ends meet. I'm educated- but not many care about that in this economy. People are getting preference for those few jobs available...and those people are most likely not brown and queer.

When I did research on discrimination in institutions and the effect on the workforce and clients, I found out something astounding. Well, not that astounding for us brown folks, really. There really isn't anything in place to keep HR from discriminating during the hiring process. Not really. They can say you weren't hired for many other reasons and not have to admit that they are racist or homophobic. In fact, many  HR folks are in fact racist and homophobic. There are studies. Yes, the same folks who are supposed to be coming up with diversity trainings. HA! It'd be funny if it wasn't keeping so many brown folks unemployed. It'd be funny if people were actually able to feed themselves and their families despite the discrimination.

Sigh.

Go to this poem (a video) for more about how I feel trying to survive as a brown, genderqueer.