Erasure During Pride Month

CN: Specific examples of erasure of asexual, aromantic, fat, disabled, and elderly people. Discussion of erasure generally. Brief mention of kink.

I often experience pride month, pride events, and pride media not as a fantastic celebration of a community that includes me, but as a reminder that I’m not the right kind of queer. The erasure of a whole variety of queer people is deeply alienating for many, and that erasure can feel especially stark during June.

Yesterday this video from the fitness company Equinox came up on my Facebook feed. It is purported to be the alphabet of the LGBTQA community. The video is well designed and has some good things about it, but the entire thing was ruined for me by the very first line:

“I consider myself and advocate and an ally.”

This video BEGINS with one of the deepest and most common erasures in the queer world. The inclusion of cisgender heterosexual allies and the erasure and alienation of asexual, aromatic, and related identities is consistent and deeply harmful. The fact that cishet people literally come first in this video is deeply flawed, especially because there are much better options for the “A” in the queer alphabet.

This could have been mitigated if there was, at any point, an inclusion of ace spectrum people in the video – but none appeared. As far as this company and the community center they partnered with are concerned allies are part of the community, and ace folks are not.

Three other groups of queer folks who are frequently erased from the community, ignored, and forgotten are also absent from this video. These are groups people whose bodies are generally seen as unattractive, undesirable, unsexy. Fat people, visibly disabled people, and older people are utterly absent from this video, just as we (I’m fat btw) are so often absent from visual media. Queer communities are simply no better about this than the general culture, and this video makes no attempt to include anyone who isn’t commercially attractive.

As a fitness company it is clear that Equinox is trying to promote itself as a specific kind of environment. They want to say that this is a place where you won’t have to share a locker room with anyone you may not find attractive. The use of only commercially attractive people in a video like this has several effects – it sends the message that “real” LGBTQ people are thin/muscular, young, and able bodied, and it sends the message that fitness spaces like Equinox are also only for those who are the same.

There are things I like about this particular video (it’s highly racially inclusive, pretty, and definitely not femmephobic). I liked the inclusion of SM without making it all cishet (because cishet kinksters aren’t queer, but queer kinksters totally are). I liked the inclusion of nonbinary people, since they are often also left out. However, the things it celebrates are largely those that are already celebrated in every other pride event and media thing I see. Those that are absent are the ones that seem to be absent so often.

Ace spectrum people are a part of the LGBTQA community. Hell, they are right there in the name. Queer fat people, disabled people, and older people are part of the LGBTQA community. They deserve to be seen and included. My fat ass is just as queer as the gay model who gets into a viral video. My over-60 and over-70 friends are just as queer as a young androgynous blue-haired waif. My friends who use mobility devices deserve as much recognition in their queerness as a professional dancer does.

It’s time for the erasure to stop.

Erasure During Pride Month
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Queerphobia, and Why We Took Down Our Pride Flag

CN: Homophobia, harassment, and mention of the Orlando shooting.

Yesterday Spouse asked our landlord to come over and look at our broken shower. He arrived in the early afternoon. I was home when he came over, but about to go to bed because I work overnight.

I don’t like our landlord. Our apartment is mostly fine, but our landlord is an overly involved busybody, who regularly tells incredibly sexually inappropriate and sometimes homophobic jokes. He makes me deeply uncomfortable. Spouse is a more forgiving person than I am, and therefore has greater tolerance for his bullshit, but they don’t love the nosiness or inappropriate jokes either.

Just after the shooting at Pulse in Orlando Spouse bought a rainbow pride flag and put it up inside our front window. It has been there since, visible from the street but not extremely obvious during the day. The flag made both of us, but especially them, feel substantially better. Queer visibility is important to us, and sending a message of support and pride is important to us. It has been comforting having those bright colors visible inside and outside of our home.
Continue reading “Queerphobia, and Why We Took Down Our Pride Flag”

Queerphobia, and Why We Took Down Our Pride Flag

Reply All Shows How To Ally

CN: Queer and QPOC erasure.

Reply All is currently my favorite podcast – it is a show about the internet. Since I basically live on the internet, it’s like having a great podcast about my hometown. They wander off topic occasionally, but when they do I still generally find the stories they tell pretty awesome. This week the episode contains one of the best instances of allying I have heard in quite awhile.

One of the segments on Reply All I like best is called “Yes, Yes, No” in which the two internet-fluent hosts explain confusing things (usually tweets) to their less net-savvy boss, Alex Blumberg. If done poorly this could be a painfully boring process, but instead it gives them an opportunity to discuss some of the most interesting parts of internet culture. They have previously used it as an opportunity to explain and condemn Gamergate, and shed light on annotations made through Genius. I love this segment because although I often have some knowledge of the things they discuss, I always learn something new.

Recently they did a Yes, Yes, No segment on a tweet about the Clinton campaign’s social media work. It was one of the less complex versions of this segment, but included a bit that I (along with probably a million other people) noticed as incomplete. They were discussing the phrases “Yas” and “Drag him” as used in that tweet. Their description of the background on the word “Yas” went:
Continue reading “Reply All Shows How To Ally”

Reply All Shows How To Ally

Throwback Thursday: Fuck That Comic

Throwback Thursday posts are posts I have previously written on other sites, such as Livejournal, Science Based Sex, Queereka, Skepchick, or Skeptability. They are reposted here sometimes on Thursdays when I think they are applicable to current events. This post was originally posted on Queereka on August 5th, 2013.

Parade

This comic has been turning up on my Facebook page lately, generally by well meaning straight people. I’ve seen it about a half dozen times already. Each time I get a little more angry. Why does this comic piss me off? It’s a celebration of marriage equality, right?
Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Fuck That Comic”

Throwback Thursday: Fuck That Comic

Multifaceted Causes, and Many Ways to Work Against Violence

CN: Discussion of the attack at Pulse in Orlando, violence and mass murder, hate speech, gun issues, politics, queerphobia, transphobia, racism. Brief mentions of domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide.

A personal note: I’m actually a bit too heartbroken right now to reasonably express my emotions about this situation. I sometimes go a little cerebral in the face of tragedy. If this post about causes and solutions is badly timed for you because it is so soon, that is completely legitimate and I encourage you to read it later.

24 hours after the horrific mass murder in Orlando Florida yesterday my news feeds and social media feeds are a mix of sorrow, fear, and arguments over the causes of and solutions to this kind of horrific event. My friends, along with the rest of the internet, are discussing (with various levels of anger) causes and solutions, and often bitterly disagree about what those might be.

I submit this: It is possible for an event to have many causes, and for all of those causes to be real contributing factors. It is possible to work for multiple solutions to violence and for many or all of those solutions to be good and important causes.

I believe that homophobia and queerphobia in American culture and politics contributed to this mass murder. I believe that because I see violent and hateful rhetoric put forward by political and media figures every day. I hear slurs against my people thrown about by customers in my workplace and people on the street. I read incredibly hateful messages against queer people online constantly, including those that make very clear how many of my fellow Americans want queer people dead.

I believe that homophobia in Muslim communities contributed to this mass murder. I believe this because my Muslim and ex-Muslim friends and loved ones have told me about the homophobia they have experienced in those communities. They have said clearly that they do not want this homophobia erased in this conversation and that they believe that the rhetoric in Muslim communities contributes to violence. I believe them.

I believe that extremism fueled by religious intolerance contributed to this mass murder. I believe that because the perpetrator apparently said so himself. I’m certain that the media will focus on this aspect as a primary cause and that we will learn more in the coming days about his religious beliefs and messages. Some media outlets and politicians will pretend that this is the whole story, and they are wrong, but I will not pretend it is not part of the story.

I believe that toxic masculinity contributed to this mass murder. An important part of toxic ideas of manhood is the idea that violence is an appropriate solution to one’s problems. We know that this killer had a history of spousal abuse and violent rhetoric consistent with toxic masculinity. The idea that picking up a weapon makes one more of a man is a deeply held tenant of patriarchy, and one that I believe contributes to the culture of mass shootings in America and this one in particular.

I believe that the easy availability of guns, and especially extremely deadly assault weapons, contributed to this mass murder. While guns do not create a desire to kill, they make the process much easier. Guns like the AR-15 used in this case are especially effective at killing and injuring many people shockingly quickly. In fact, they are created to do just that. That they are so easy to acquire contributes to the frequency and death rates in this and other similar cases.

It is likely also true that transphobia, transmisogyny, and racism contributed to this mass murder. Pulse is not just a gay bar, but one frequented by the Latin community and was full of people of color on Saturday night. It was not just a gay bar, but also one that featured trans and drag performers. While all queer people are at an increased risk of being victims of violence, queer people of color, trans people, and especially trans women of color are at much higher risk. I cannot ignore the possibility that this club was at higher risk because of these issues. Racism and transphobia are real causes of violence and must be seen as part of this picture.

The causes of violence in general, and this attack in particular, are multifaceted. I believe the solutions are too. A major part of the arguments I have seen today have been over what is “the right way” to prevent things like this in the future. I do not believe there is “a right way” but instead that many struggles can lead towards a future with less violence.

It is crucial that we fight queerphobia in all of its forms from all of its sources. We must fight against oppression in politics, in all religious communities, and in culture. Decreasing hatred of LGBTQIA people decreases our risk of violence. Pretending that queerphobia comes from only one community (Christian churches for example) isn’t helpful, since the sources of queerphobia are legion. When we call out homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia we are working against violence.

It is crucial that we fight toxic masculinity in all of its forms. The idea that the path to strength is through violence creates enormous harm, and we must work against it and against all patriarchy. When we speak out against domestic violence and rape we are working against the kind of pressures that contribute to mass shootings in general and this one in particular. When we fight the patriarchy we are working against violence.

It is crucial that we work for gun control. The current situation of easy access to highly deadly weapons is not working. It puts everyone at risk, through public violence, through tragic but preventable accidents, and through increased risk of suicide by people with easy access to firearms. There is no reason why someone should be able to easily purchase an AR-15. When we work towards legal changes in gun regulations we are working against violence.

It is crucial that we work against Islamophobia. After cases like this the violence and threats of violence Muslim and perceived-to-be-Muslim people experience in America increase noticeably. My Muslim and ex-Muslim friends fear reprisals against themselves and their families from angry people who seek to respond to violence with more violence, often targeted at completely unrelated people. Worse, political and media figures feed this fear and anger by equating Islam with terrorism and talking about things like banning Muslims from coming into the United States. When we fight this rhetoric we are working against violence.

When we work to combat racism, transmisogyny, ableism, and oppression in all of its forms we are working against violence. When we reach out to care for our grieving and frightened friends and loved ones we are working against violence. When we find better, healthier ways to deal with conflict we are working against violence. When we work to heal communities and individuals we are working against violence.

There are many ways to work to prevent the next mass shooting and the next hate crime. I have not covered them all here, not even close. As communities of people who wish to see a world without violence we must work towards all of these goals and more. As individuals we will work on those issues that we are best suited to, or most driven to work on. This is as it should be. Arguing over which is “the right way” to work against violence isn’t helpful. Instead, let’s do the work.

Multifaceted Causes, and Many Ways to Work Against Violence

Less Helpless Today

Not so long ago I said that North Carolina’s HB2 law lead to me to feel helpless.

I feel much less so today. After Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the that justice department is suing North Carolina over it’s HB2 law, I’m feeling much better. Not so much because of the lawsuit, but because her speech was a full throated support of transgender Americans like me. If you have not yet watched the speech, I recommend doing so. This video does have captions.

Just as the passing of the law itself left me feeling helpless, this speech brings back my hope. It reminds me that while there are a whole lot of people in my country who don’t think I, and my trans and nonbinary siblings, should exist in public, there are also many who back us. Lynch’s speech does not hold back in support of us, and shows that even people in power believe we have a right to the same things as anyone else.

Less Helpless Today

Where Do They Get This Stuff?

According to right wing radio host Rick Willes the United States is headed for nuclear annihilation due to “sodimites” and Target’s bathroom policies.

One might wonder where the right wing gets these kinds of ideas. Who would make such a wild connection between nuclear war and transgender people?

Oh. Of course. I forgot. That would be….

Pope Francis.

Where Do They Get This Stuff?

Almost Right, But Oh So Wrong

CN: Transphobia, bathroom policies, hate speech, Christian apologetics, swear words. I might be channeling Niki a little with the language here. Also, fair warning that this post is a little less polished than usual because I’m pissed off.

Additional Note: The link the post I’m talking about is currently not working, and I’m aware of it. In fact the entire blog seems to have disappeared at the moment, but I don’t know why.(4/27/2016 8:15am CST) It’s back up this evening (4/27/2016 11:30pm CST)

Comment Moderation Note: Comments questioning the legitimacy of transgender people’s identities are not allowed on this blog and will not be allowed through. Trans men are men, trans women are women. Don’t waste either of our time by suggesting otherwise in the comment section. (4/30/2016 2:15pm CST)

This week a self-identified “straight conservative preacher’s wife” named Jaci Lambert wrote about her reactions to Target’s bathroom policy, which is long-standing and states that people in their stores are welcome to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Lambert says she understands why Christians are so angry about Target’s policy, but wants her fellow Christians to display more love and understanding rather than anger and boycotts. She also points out that sexual assault happens in lots of contexts, including in parish communities, and keeping trans people out of bathrooms isn’t an effective safety mechanism.

So, she’s got those parts kinda right. Everything else in this post is oh so wrong.
Continue reading “Almost Right, But Oh So Wrong”

Almost Right, But Oh So Wrong

The North Carolina Kink Event Doing It Right

CN: Transphobia, HB2, politics, BDSM, kink. Text only, no images, nothing explicit at all.

Several years ago I called for kink events to start using harassment policies, much like conferences in the SF/F world, the skeptical community, and other communities were at the time. Those policies have become more common since then, and are expected by many to exist at the events they go to.

Unfortunately, the kink community has largely ignored calls for formal and enforceable harassment policies. Instead, many events and clubs have a “If you have a problem come talk to the organizers about it and we’ll maybe do something.” This process doesn’t work, has never worked, and isn’t going to start working any time soon.

However, there are a few events getting this right. For several years one of those events has been Debauchery in North Carolina. It is run by a couple named Sysiphe and Nullmoniker. Full disclosure: They are very good friends of mine, I have spoken at this event before, and I intend to again this year.
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The North Carolina Kink Event Doing It Right

Why There’s No Space In My Gender

I identify as a transman. There is no space in that word for me.

This is somewhat unusual among trans people. In general, it’s convention to call people like me trans men, not transmen. In fact, when talking about the group in general, or an individual other than myself, I use the space. The same applies for trans women – I use the space unless a specific individual prefers no space, which is pretty rare. I use a space for cis men and cis women as well, to be consistent.

The reason for this space is that most people identify as men or women, and trans or cis are a modifier. Being transgender is usually a statement about someone’s history, not an intrinsic part of their gender identity. A lot of people feel really strongly about this, which is why the space has become the standard convention over time, although this was not always the case.

My experience is somewhat different than most people. I am not a man, with a trans modifier. I am a transman, as a complete gender. I do not separate my transness and manness – they are deeply connected for me, inseparable.

The fact that I experience my gender identity differently than many other people does not mean that I have any disagreement with them over the space. It seems pretty clear that for most people the space is important, and that for many people their complete gender identity is man or woman, with a transgender or cisgender history. My gender is not better than anyone else’s – it’s just different. It’s just mine.

Why There’s No Space In My Gender