I want queer dance parties who take queer dollars to cut this shit out. now. even better retroactively with bountiful reparations given to all of us who’ve experienced this kind of violence.
I want them to be accountable to the people they are supposedly welcoming, to change their practices and principles and understand the kind of power over people who are navigating multiple forms of oppression and violence every day. I want them to come up with principles around holding relationships that they don’t understand because of their privilege and holding lives and experiences that they have benefited from but do not actually know. My most recent experience was this weekend. On Friday night my partner and I went to “SECRET POP UP” Brooklyn Queer dance party at Cubana Social and unsurprisingly experienced multiple levels of oppression and violence throughout our time there.
What Elizabeth & I wrote to the party organizers, expanded for my blog:
My partner Elizabeth and I are a couple in a relationship - one of us identifies as trans and a woman, and the other as genderqueer and commonly read as a woman. We went to a queer party that we knew little about—meaning we had no reason to believe it would be a safe or welcoming space for us. To be honest, we were slightly surprised that we made it into the party easily, given that the bouncer seemed to be profiling people in some way as to whether they were fit to enter (see RACISM and also assumptions of queer bodies).
Being a queer couple that routinely gets targeted with violence because people don’t understand our relationship and as a result seem to threaten people in queer and non-queer spaces (AKA all of them), we’re accustomed to being misread, violated, humiliated, and hurt. But we got through the door just fine — it was minutes later, as we were passing by the bar, that we were confronted. I was walking ahead, and was cruised as I passed someone who was dancing. When that person saw that I was with Elizabeth, they aggressively pressed their ass up against Elizabeth and cornered Elizabeth at the bar, grinding and loudly saying “She wants to get BI” over and over again while Elizabeth was telling them to stop.
Not only was this person making a tired and unfunny bisexual joke while invasively and unconsensually touching Elizabeth, they were misreading of who we are, while violently physically crossing boundaries.
This happened over and over again in front of these people’s friends, who I asked to intervene and whom did nothing to stop the situation. We continued to be harassed until we left the party. This happened in public in full view of many people and not one person from the party or staff checked in to see if we were ok or to find out what happened.
All this after the Hey Queen conversation and activism to have queer dance spaces stop devaluing lives.
We wrote to the party organizers encouraging them be more intentional about how they create space and reflect on what values they uphold. We all know that by maintaining the same old principles so often used to exile trans women and relationships that aren’t understand as queer from queer community but adding “and all gender identities” to your statements will not make for a less oppressive or safer space. When you tell someone a space is theirs, you really need to both mean and practice it.
This was not an exceptional experience. We knew exactly what was happening because it’s happened so many times before. But we responded differently than we have previously because witnessing so much violence, loss, and death has affected the way we experience being pushed out of community spaces. What I mean by this is that these experiences no longer can feel like our fault in any way— for years, we would feel terrible about ourselves, get in arguments about how we respond to violence, feel powerless that we couldn’t protect each other, feel confused about why none of our friends ever saw or recognized the things we were experiencing, try to believe that if we acted differently we’d be able to have a good time. And now, no matter how much personal shit we carry that tells us that we don’t deserve to be valued and loved and alive, it’s just too clear that being exiled from queer space and community resources costs people’s lives. We can’t not know: creating and perpetuating queer space that allows for assumptions and judgements of people’s genders and sexualities is as act of harm.
If this is your experience, then you already understand: there is no easy, or safe social or physical space that holds our relationship. People in queer spaces in particular seem to be under a range of impressions:
That we can pass as straight and therefore experience privilege. I can’t even begin with this one, but it is so violating and pervasive that it must be addressed. When a person is misgendered, this is not a privilege. It is an experience of violence. This, along with assumptions of a person’s sexuality, are generally enacted in a violating if not violent way.
That because one of us identifies as trans and a woman, and the other as genderqueer and commonly read as a woman, there is something invalid about, or missing from, our relationship. As such, people feel entitled to hit on either one of us in front of the other one without knowing anything about how we define our relationship.
That because I’m a queer black trans woman, pretty much anything goes. People feel free to touch me, cut me with their gaze, speak to me however they want without bothering about my consent or desire. Transgressions are constant and most often, nobody else notices when this happens.
That maintaining the same old worldview and behaviors but adding “and trans” to your statements and thinking should make us feel welcome. Holding on to transphobic cultural values while developing a fondness for particular trans women who you can try to fit into your curated cultural spaces is not only disingenuous, it’s actually unsafe for the trans women who you are inviting in.
When you tell someone a space is theirs, you better mean it!
Y’all can do better. We can feel better.
Somewhere between the endless Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, health care reform, and frequent trans community infighting, it had to happen. I mean, it couldn’t go on forever that the huge disparity in supply and demand for gender identity-related surgeries didn’t motivate someone to come up with a scheme touted as the solution to all of our troubles. Yes, there have been top surgery parties for years, and the swath of crowdsourcing applications seems to continue unabated, but these are at the initiative of the person seeking a surgical procedure. On Friday last week, Buck Angel and Jody Rose launched Transgasm.org, which sounds like a porn venture, but has nothing to do with the “gasm” spectrum.
Transgasm markets itself as a positivist campaign to fund trans-related surgeries. From their site:
Transgasm.org is an organization that will fully fund surgeries in the FTM and MTF transsexual communities and help to create income for the transsexual community, its supporters, and for anyone else who identifies the way they choose to identify.
Putting aside the conflict and issues with definitions like “transsexual” and “the way they choose to identify,” there are some clear points in the sentence. Things like “fully fund” and “organization” are specific terms, even if “anyone” and “create income” are not. And the vagueness in the FAQ for the site, which is supposed to be the page where questions are clarified, winds up being real cause for concern. Here are the issues I have with Transgasm.org:
1. It’s a pyramid scheme—As eloquently described by Emi Koyama, the paying-it-forward nature of Transgasm means that there needs to be an ever-expanding group of people paying into the scheme to keep the money flowing. Read Emi’s post to get a lot more detail on that.
2. It asks people on the margins to contribute creative projects to the site for free—There’s a lot of touting on Transgasm.org that they ask for no fee from people seeking funds for surgery. Well, of course they don’t. They’re asking for original artwork, ebooks, video, and other digital content that they can sell on the site to generate capital for these surgeries. If the works are high quality, then that is a crappy thing to do to someone who worked hard on their art and who will not be able to publish it anywhere reputable after they publish it on the Transgasm site. Artists and writers should be paid, even nominally, for their work. If the works are mediocre or poor, then who is going to buy more than a few copies of them?
3. Its system for identifying content producers is non-transparent and full of meaningless jargon—To get your surgery funded, you need to “attend” Transgasm University. To “attend,” you need to sign up on the site, and then hope you’re selected by Buck and Jody. How this selection process works, nobody knows. How any selection process funds the entire FTM and MTF communities, I also don’t know. Why have a selection process other than first come, first served, if the point is to revolutionize funding for surgeries? But furthermore, why do individuals have to sit through a seminar? Is it to share the “new skills” in the “law of attraction” and “thought science”? Also, isn’t sitting through a seminar the fast track to a time share in Boca Raton?
4. It’s devoid of the rapid changes in health care coverage and the political push for trans-related health care coverage—As we speak, trans people are signing up for health care insurance. More and more employers are ending the trans-related exceptions in their insurance policies, and covering preventive care (like PAP smears for men with cervixes and prostate exams for women with prostates), and surgical procedures. After all, what makes a system like Transgasm even possible is a market that for decades has refused to serve the trans community. What if more people put their energies into changing that market, and say, using the leverage contained in the Affordable Care Act to do so? Oh, what’s that? That’s already happening? Great! So why are we going to give all kinds of content free to these two guys?
5. It’s had zero trans women involved—If this were really a system dedicated to both trans women and men, would the emphasis be so much on Buck and Jody’s physiques? Or their tips for bodybuilding? Or not have any input from even one single token trans woman? It’s not just a surface issue of representation, either. Trans women and trans men seek rather different medical and surgical procedures, which come at ridiculously different price points. Average cost for a bilateral mastectomy and chest reconstruction: $8,500. Average cost for a vaginoplasty: $20,000. Yes, some surgeries requested by trans men will be more expensive than those requested by trans women (e.g., phalloplasty versus larynx shaving), but my point here is surgery =/= surgery. If my ebook sells on Transgasm.org for $20, I’ll need a lot more of them to sell if I’m looking to cover a $20,000 procedure. Involvement from trans women could have, I don’t know, pointed this out to them before they slapped up their web site.
6. The math doesn’t work—Let’s go back to my $20 book. So according to Buck and Jody, if I sell a copy of my book on their site, $10 will go into my account for my personal Idaho—I mean, surgery—$5 will go to 7 other people and their surgery funds (I’m sure they’re grateful for my 71 cents), and $5 will go to administering the site “to make sure it can continue to do this important work.” If my surgery costs $8,500, I will need to sell 850 copies of my ebook, and in the process I’ll have “donated” $4,250, or $607, to each of those 7 other surgeries. It’s a huge number of sales needed for a much smaller return to anyone else in the stream. Not to mention that again, with no known editorial process, no distribution or marketing other than what happens on the site, the likelihood of selling 850 copies is miniscule. So disparities in how much a procedure costs can echo in terms of how long or how much effort needs to go into funding some of these surgeries.
7. It’s poorly defined—The phrase, “and for anyone else who identifies the way they choose to identify,” actually means everyone. We all choose to identify with some gender identity, even those of us who identify with no gender. That’s still an identity. So if the funding scheme here is for the FTM and MTF communities AND all of those other humans, then who is this funding scheme supposed to support again? The laughable logic here is that if any funding scheme were to attempt to fund everybody, we could all go back to funding only ourselves. Or say, pushing for political change so that trans people don’t need cockamamie ideas for getting needed procedures done. And by the way, I know Buck and Jody don’t really mean “everyone,” I just think it’s evidence that they haven’t thought through their idea here.
I’m not here to argue with Buck or Jody of their rippling muscles, or marvel at their copious YouTube videos. I’m here to tell fellow transfolk that their energies will be better spent elsewhere. If the web site that is supposed to change funding trans surgeries “forever” can’t even explain how their business model works, and if they use finding $160 in the street as an example of how that business model functions, then it is time to close the tab on that experiment. Because what we don’t need any more of around these parts are bad ideas.
This is why we need to protect transwomen of color at all cost. All of these beautiful people where murdered this year, and they represent only the most public and brutal murders of transwomen all over the world. This is why cisphobia isn’t a real fucking thing, this is why I hate you because your cissexist transphobic actions lead to the deaths of beautiful and brilliant people.
Anonymous asked: I started following you some time ago after you had post a picture of yourself, and well you remind me so much of this girl i've had a crush on for like... seven years. Your facial structure and everything, I just find you super attractive. Just thought I'd let you know x
Last night, after mustering up some courage after a couple drinks, I went to go dance with a femme someone I had made eye contact with for a little bit. At least long enough for me to feel like it wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary for someone to approach her. I guess?
They enjoyed dancing. They were from New Hampshire and very new to the Bay.
I asked them how they identified.
"Does that mean you like trans girls?" I pushed.
"Yeah, I think so. The only trans people I’ve dated are trans men"
"Yeah. That’s a pretty common experience for… Well how do you identify your gender?"
"Genderqueer I guess? Female assigned at birth"
"Oh. Yeah I was going to say that seems to be an experience I run into a lot," I remark.
"Yeah. But you’re gorgeous," they say. "I have to run find my friends again. Maybe I’ll see you again later?" They rushed a kiss on my cheek and slid out of our spot near the bar where we were dancing.
That last comment made me feel kinda happy. But mostly weird.
Like its great when you get a compliment, but what makes me an exception? Was there a tinge of transmisogyny in possibly saying that I was a kind of exception - or am I reading too much into this? What if I was more femme presenting last night?
What if I don’t think I’m gorgeous most days, and that I’m constantly trying to read if someone may or may not be attracted to me simply because I’m a trans woman?
I’m constantly looking down because I hate tucking and I’m no good at it. I’m constantly monitoring how I walk, what vocal range I’m in, and hoping that the guy doesn’t “sir” me when I go to Walgreens to pick up my medication.
Sometimes I really honestly don’t understand why I have stunningly attractive, smart, and caring people that are attracted to me.