I was asked to provide facilitation and a keynote address of sorts for “Violence and Trans Women of Colour: The Intersections,” an event hosted by Carleton University’s Carleton Equity Services, Graduate Students’ Association, Carleton University, and CUSA Womyn’s Centre as part of the university’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. While my remarks during the event did not exactly match what I prepared, the original material is now here for others’ perusal.
On my Facebook memories page, I found an old Tumblr picture that includes stories from a series of girls talking about how their appendix burst because they didn’t realize the pain they were feeling wasn’t cramps. The post goes on to explain the difference between menstrual pain and appendix pain. The stories were a way for girls to discuss just how painful cramps can be – that appendicitis, which is known to be extremely painful, was not different enough from their regular menstrual pain to be noticeable.
I had shared the post, along with my commentary that the suggestion to talk to your parents or school nurse about pain, even if it was “only cramps”, ignored the reality of most people who experience menstruation who are told that they are overreacting and to suck it up. Many of us have been told that all women deal with it and that it’s not that bad. Even when my cramps would leave me shaking and with a fever, I was expected to go to class and carry on as though everything was normal. After all “every woman goes through the same thing”. (Not all women actually, and not all people who do are women, but that’s another post for another time). Continue reading “Fear of Menstruation Is Why I Can’t Walk”
In the last few months, in the torrent of emotions being experience in regards to the events of the US election and it’s follow up, one of the most frequently encountered is disbelief. In the face of all the denial of the primaries and later the election proper, everyone is trying to process how this could possibly have happened.
Laments are taking place on twitter, on Facebook, and other social media. People are trying to parse how deal breakers have suddenly stopped being deal breakers. How certain words, behaviours, and symbols have suddenly become commonplace when we remember when they were once considered vile and worthy of disgust.
On the one hand, I understand the shock, the disbelief. It’s one thing to know that things are not as great as they seem, to know how much bigotry is insinuated into the society we live in, grow up in, gain our morals in, but it is another to face the glowing orange symbol of it. On the other hand, however, there is a part of me that wants to yell at all the people crowing their disbelief: “We tried to warn you! We fucking told you this would happen and you mocked us and called us children.” Continue reading “We Tried to Warn You: We’re Still Trying”
CN: Ableism, Police Violence, Sexual Violence, etc.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed late at night, I came across a Jezebel article on the subject of the Fascist authoritarian in control of the US. In contrast to all of the serious articles going around this week, and especially this weekend after Trump triggered a constitutional crisis with a hateful law targeting Muslims and immigrants of color, the jokey nature of the headline and article stood out. It was mocking the newly sworn in president for an alleged fear of stairs.
To most people, the idea of a grown man being afraid of stairs seems silly and joke-worthy, but it made my stomach drop.
You see, in a sense, I am afraid of stairs.
[My dear readers, I come to you with a request. The following letter has been emailed and sent by mail to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, the Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities, as well as my MP.
IF YOU ARE CANADIAN: Please post your support of what I’m asking here. That disabled Americans be allowed to immigrate into Canada and receive access to Healthcare as well as become a part of this great nation.
IF YOU ARE AMERICAN: Please post in the comments about how President Trumps and the Republican Congress and Senates actions have put you or your loved ones at risk in the last few days. I will be including a link to this post in my email.
ALL READERS: Tweet this to the Prime Minister @CanadianPM]
January 28, 2017
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
CC: The Honourable Ahmed D Hussen, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Anita Vandenbeld
To the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
I’m writing to you as a proud citizen of this country to beg and plead for the lives of my loved ones. Since Mr. Trump’s election many of those closest to me have been scared of what the future holds for them. They belong to various vulnerable communities: trans people, gay people, people of colour, people who belong to non-Christians faiths or no faith at all, and especially disabled people.
In the days since President Trumps inauguration, that fear has turned into outright panic. In just his first week, Mr. Trump has enacted and encouraged policies that will lead to the deaths of millions. His policies show a clear movement towards eliminating the social and physical protections granted to those most at risk for abuse. Continue reading “Make Canada Proud: Disable Genocide”
There are many places where I won’t go. I hate moving, in general, and would gladly donate a kidney to whatever demiurge could reconfigure the universe to render this unwholesome task unnecessary for achieving any of my goals ever again, but that’s not what this is about. There are many locales where it is plainly unsafe for me to be, on any of various axes, and I intend to particularly avoid relocating to those places. Right now, that includes the United States, despite overwhelmingly better career prospects there than I seem to have where I am. This unsafeness is not something I’ve had an easy time getting a number of sympathetic people in my life to recognize, and it comes down to one crucial error: they think stealth is safe.
“Stealth,” for the uninitiated, refers to pretending one’s gender doesn’t bear the adjective “trans.” It means pretending to be a cis representative of one’s gender, to have been recognized as a member thereof for one’s entire life, and to have never borne a different name. “Going stealth” means hiding a large chunk of one’s past and papering over the resulting gaps with denial and occasional lies. This was once medically mandated for transgender women, who were expected to leave their hometowns and live somewhere where no one knew their history. And it doesn’t work. Continue reading “Stealth Is Not Safe”
Every day seems to bring a new terrifying development in the Orange PEOTUS’ Cabinet of Horrors. Between white supremacists being appointed to important positions by a man calling for the registration of minority religions, climate change deniers being appointed to oversee the environment, and anti-vaxxers being put in positions to determine the safety and implementation of vaccine regiments it can be overwhelming in trying to decide which problem to address first.
Meanwhile different factions are calling for the Cheeto-in-chief’s detractors to tone down their opposition in the interest of cooperation.
I’m scared, and I’m not the only one. Even as I do my best to draw attention to the terrifying rhetoric and the distressing similarities between the events leading up to the holocaust and the current events, I hope that I’m wrong. I spend much of my time wishing for me to turn out wrong. But even as I desperately hold on to the idea that maybe it won’t be as bad as we fear, there is one area in which I am already being proven right.
The next four years are already showing themselves to be potentially fatal for one specific vulnerable population: the disabled.
I got out.
I don’t know how long I can stay. Canada has refused to employ me despite (because of?) my advanced degree, and if anything goes awry in my immigration process, they might yet force me back.
But I got out.
It didn’t start with the concentration camps. It didn’t start with gas chambers and the ovens.
It started with existing racism. Anti-Semitism was widely pervasive in Europe, North America, anywhere where Jewish people existed really before the Nazis came to power. Even after they did, many countries refused Jewish refugees the right of entry. Many established restrictive quotas regarding how many Jews would be allowed to enter the country in a given year. This included both Canada and the United States.
When Hitler was rising in the political wing of his party, he seized onto that existing racism to propel him into power. He used the fear of the stranger, the fear of the other and the unknown. He used Jewish people as a scapegoat for all the misgivings and problems felt by post-Great War Germans. There was all sorts of propaganda spread around, including rumors that Christian babies were kidnapped and used to make Matzo. Rumors of how they used their access to gold to corrupt governments and control institutions. Access to gold that was granted to them when money lending was deemed an unchristian profession and best left to Jewish people. Continue reading “It Didn’t Start with the Camps”
If you know someone who was involved in resistance of some kind: Solidarność, Black Panthers, resistance movements in WW2, people who hid Jews during WW2, and so forth, NOW is the time to find out how they organized. How they got the systems in place to get people out. How they created the networks of information gathering and distribution.
While I hope that I am wrong, I fear that things are about to become even more difficult for oppressed minorities in the next few months. The global political climate is distressingly similar to the times leading up to both World Wars. There has been a trend towards fascism for some time now, with major political parties veering dangerously right. Essential human rights are treated as negotiable burdens by different governments. Too many people live in desperation borne not out of a lack of resources but because of restricted access with the majority of the world’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a privileged few, and their followers.
We have a new aristocracy, only now we call them CEOs, we call them politicians, and we call them “self-made men”. The sense of entitlement and of receiving what they’re due despite no actual merit remains the same. The greed remains the same, and so does the use of manipulation to convince those they have enslaved that their suffering is caused by those worse off then them. Continue reading “This is the Time”