Activists: Say NO to a Third Gender Marker

I was shocked when I heard that non-binary gender was legal here in Oregon. The overwhelming hatred against our community by the government, the “criminal” “justice” system, and individual and communal violence in the past few years has damaged my ability to hope for meaningful change. In fact, shortly after hearing this news, the shooting in Orlando happened. It seems that no matter what policy changes we gain, the violence persists.

Maybe that’s why I wasn’t too hopeful after I processed the news that Jamie Shupe was the first legally genderless person in the United States. As a non-binary activist, my mind went straight to what this would look like in terms of policy – and I started to worry.

How will the government apply this ruling? What will the requirements be to change sex/gender on legal documents? Will we be able to remove gender markers from our documents, or will they add a third option? How will this process include refugee new arrivals and asylum seekers? How will it include our indigenous and undocumented siblings? Who will this ruling be accessible to?

Most importantly, whose voices will be at the forefront? Over the past few decades, the “LGBT Movement” has largely been a legal and policy reform battle funded by those with the money to effect change. Our revolutionary history has faded, and our community has become increasingly divided by privilege and power. Continue reading “Activists: Say NO to a Third Gender Marker”

Dear Cis People: Stop The Fragile Mindset

Unfortunately, the problem with fragility isn’t isolated to race. When it comes down to it, fragility is a privilege problem. It is one reaction you have in response to being called out for your privilege, and it’s a form of violence. It minimizes your responsibility to be educated about your privilege, and it continues our oppression to your benefit.

I’m a genderqueer writer and activist, and I often discuss issues that affect the LGBTQIA+ community. While I love the work I do, I am not required to educate you. Yes, I love to educate people about these issues. Yes, I’m going to continue to do it. However, that does not mean that you should expect me, or any other trans person, to educate you about our issues, especially when we don’t have a close relationship.

Here are some reasons you should stop it with the cis fragility:

I Get It. You Don’t “Hate” Me.

It seems that people think if they inject “I love you,” “I respect you,” “I care about you,” or “I’ll always support you, even if I don’t agree with you,” then they’re off the hook. Newsflash: It doesn’t make what you said any less transphobic and hateful. Really, all you did was show me that you have a very narrow and conditional definition of love and respect.

That’s something you should take some time to examine, away from the people it harms. Continue reading “Dear Cis People: Stop The Fragile Mindset”

“Faggot” and “That’s So Gay”: The Issue of Intent and Impact

People used to always assure me that they didn’t mean to insult queer people. After all, they were raised using “faggot” and “that’s so gay” in a way that was detached from the idea of queer people altogether. They were just harmless words, and didn’t indicate their feelings toward gay people.

This is an argument I used to accept. I used to think to myself: “Well, I guess now that I know they don’t mean anything hurtful by it, it would be silly for me to be offended.” Wrong.

There are two major problems with non-queer people using words and phrases like “faggot” and “that’s so gay.” First, they aren’t their words to use, even when queer people they know use them. Second, the intent really doesn’t matter when the impact is overwhelmingly negative. To learn more about how these words are meant to shame femininity and why that’s a problem, check out my article here. Continue reading ““Faggot” and “That’s So Gay”: The Issue of Intent and Impact”

I Was Homophobic, Transphobic, and Misogynistic: My Journey to Acceptance

Faggot, pussy, and sissy are all words I’m too familiar with. They have been present in my life for as long as I can remember, and not only because people have applied them to me. Unfortunately, I used these slurs throughout the majority of my life.

I was raised, like many other people, in a cisheteronormative household. Boys were supposed to be tough so they could grow up into men, and girls were supposed to be polite so they could grow up into women; when they grew up, they were supposed to marry each other.

When I broke from the many gender stereotypes that were applied to me – an occurrence that happened more often than not – those slurs were the consequence. I wish I could say that I used them only in an effort to fit in, but that wouldn’t be entirely truthful. I had internalized the cisheteronormative standards I was raised with, and those slurs became a part of my vocabulary.

My ignorance has never been bliss. Throughout my journey to discover that I am genderqueer, trans feminine, and queer, I often felt as if I was doing more damage – to myself and those around me – than I was growth. Looking back, the person that I used to be is not someone I would feel comfortable around today. My behavior was hateful, my words were violent, and my thought process was oppressive. Continue reading “I Was Homophobic, Transphobic, and Misogynistic: My Journey to Acceptance”

Stop Reinforcing Our Oppression: On Dismissing as a Pervasive Tool

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photo credit: Second Place Is The First Loser via photopin (license)

Micro-agressions are being discussed a lot more these days. With the work of prominent national movements like #BlackLivesMatter, media outlets like Everyday Feminism, and many local anti-violence organizations, we are beginning to challenge oppression at every level.

One set of micro-aggressions that I encounter frequently is what I call dismissive micro-aggressions. This set of behaviors is rooted in the idea of respectability politics – a belief that we must act and react the way the oppressive class deems appropriate in order to be taken seriously. It doesn’t happen only from people with privilege though. People who have internalized their oppression perpetuate these ideas and participate in this behavior as well. It is one of the ways in which they adhere to respectability politics in an effort to be accepted by a society which ultimately benefits from their oppression.

Dismissive micro-aggressions include, but are not limited to, the following: Continue reading “Stop Reinforcing Our Oppression: On Dismissing as a Pervasive Tool”

The Political Violence of Passive Discourse: Recognizing a Crisis

On October 8, 2015, Malaysia criminalized transgender women based on their appearance in public spaces through judicial ruling. The ruling was a devastating blow to transgender women in Malaysia, as the lower Court of Appeal deemed the law, section 66, unconstitutional on November 14, 2014.

In response to the ruling, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office issued a statement that calls into question the understanding of transgender issues on every level of government. The UN Human Rights Office headlined the article by stating that they are “concerned by [the] criminalization of transgender women in Malaysia.” This response reveals the political violence engendered in our human rights discourse. The matter of criminalizing transgender women is not a mere matter of concern – it directly endangers their lives and well-being. The article does begin to analyze the reality of the situation, but stops short of discussing the violent consequences of the law.

““This law infringes the rights of transgender women, including the right to live with dignity, to freedom of movement, the right to work, to equality before the law and to freedom from discrimination and freedom of expression,” said Matilda Bogner, the Regional Representative of OHCHR’s Southeast Asia office.”

Such phrases as “the right to live with dignity,” “equality before the law,” and “freedom from discrimination” are all buzzwords that have lost their meaning in the violent struggle against oppression that renders certain lives less than human.

Continue reading “The Political Violence of Passive Discourse: Recognizing a Crisis”