Readings from March onwards

Things are going slower here, but I’ve still done loads of reading. Here’s some of the great things I’ve read, starting all the way back in March! We’ve got reminders from Black History Month and Trans Day of Visibility, and discussions around transness and trans community.

 

Black History Now: Vilissa Thompson—Activist, Writer, Licensed Social Worker And Disability-Rights Advocate

 

“Thompson’s extensive background in this area led her to establish Ramp Your Voice in 2013. She is both the founder and the CEO of the organization, where she combines her work in disability rights, background in social work and perspective as a Black woman who has a disability to address the unique obstacles that people with disabilities face—particularly if they are Black.”

 

Open Topic: Black History Month Is for White People

 

“Black History Month has a problem. The problem is the assumption that Black History Month is for black people. Exclusively. It is effectively Blacks’ History Month: a consolation prize of 28 days shoehorning in All Things Black that we should feel lucky to have. The problem of Black History Month is one of ghettoizing black history — not just on the calendar, but in the mind. It is the problem of seeing blackness and black people as specific — therefore niche — instead of seeing that same specific as universal. As in complex. Rich. Worthy. Human.”

 

When shame comes from the inner-sanctum: Biphobia within the queer community

 

“It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised that I could feel shame around my sexuality. In a sort of heartbreaking irony, shame was instilled by those who I thought were ‘my people’ and the humans I so wanted to build relationships with.”

 

Social Justice Activists Can’t Always Fight for Everything, and That’s Okay

 

“The work of creating a better world is messy and complicated. I know I have fucked up before, judged people too harshly, and held such high standards that I’ve disappointed myself for years. But all the activists I’ve ever admired have had their own similar journeys of failures and mistakes they made and grew from. And as much as I have weathered the storm of the past years, I think I have forgotten something important in fighting for a better world for everyone: I am a person as well, and that means I deserve to be fought for as well.”

 

Stonewall Vet Miss Major Says Cops Should Be Banned from Pride

 

“The police have been monsters,” says the Stonewall-era activist, in a new public service announcement posted to Twitter. “They’re all worthless, unimaginable, horrible people and destructive to mankind in general, especially to my trans and gender nonconforming community. I don’t know who invited those motherfuckers to be in the Pride parade, they are the most detrimental thing to ever happen.”

 

Sylvia Rivera Changed Queer and Trans Activism Forever

 

“When Rivera threw that second Molotov cocktail at Stonewall, she was only 17. She was no stranger to demonstrations at that time, having also protested against Vietnam, for women’s rights and civil rights. But Stonewall incited a fervor in Rivera to keep going, to keep fighting for voices marginalized within the gay rights space. She became involved with the Gay Liberation Front, or GLF, and the Gay Activists’ Alliance, GAA, and challenged the way the predominantly white gay and lesbian community approached activism from a middle class perspective. Rivera wanted their activism to be more progressive, to include in their fight the rights of transgender individuals, including people of color, the homeless, and the incarcerated. But she challenged multiple communities through her activism, also working with Puerto Rican activist organization the Young Lords, hoping the Puerto Rican and Latinx communities would acknowledge the reality of gay and transgender people, says Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the departments of American Culture, Romance Languages and Literatures, and Women’s Studies.”

 

Every Trans Girl I Meet Is From the Future: Finding a Bereft Sisterhood

 

“But I know sisterhood is alive and well. I have trans gals in my life with whom I love and struggle, with whom I have grown breasts and discovered the impossibility of unrelentingly heterosexual men’s affection. Nicky, a friend and roommate from college, pops adorably teal estrogen tabs with me over cereal. Nicky beat my face with iridescent powders and glossy balms when my unlearned hands could not; Nicky curled her doll-sized body around my hefty form when boys would not; Nicky pulled up a YouTube vlogger displaying the fleshy transformation of her nether region when my curious, hesitant fingers could not.”

 

On Visibility and My Choice To Live As An Out Trans Woman

 

“All too often, the vitriol spewed by the transphobic bigots focuses on dehumanizing us. When you can get people to see us as less than human, it’s much easier to fear us, to exclude us, to do violence against us, to hate us. When we’re nameless and faceless, it’s much easier to turn us into scary bathroom-peeping monsters instead of just nice folks who occasionally need to go pee someplace other than our homes. Othering people is easy when those people only exist as a concept. When trans people choose to live visibly, even just to those in our close circles, suddenly there’s a living, breathing person being attached to those discussions, a very human target all that hate is directed at. And, despite all the shitty subconscious biases people hold, most are pretty unwilling to tolerate hateful attacks on people they care about.”

 

Another way to transition: Holistic pathways to gender affirmation

 

“My body and I have had some ups and downs but following a holistic pathway to transition through physical training, personal development, and facing some of the really uncomfortable and tough stuff that I grew up experiencing in an ultra-conservative, majority white regional town has given me an opportunity to learn about myself, and trust myself.”

 

Visibility is a trap

 

“For that reason, I want better ways to talk about community goals than “visibility.” I want better ways of identifying what we’re up against than “invisibility.” It’s not that people simply don’t know. It’s not a set of issues that’s purely informational. Our ideological opponents are not something that can be defeated by simply putting the word out there. We cannot Horton-Hears-A-Who our way out of this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No amount of “We are here! We are here! We are here!” will stop people from responding, “I know, and I despise you for it.””

 

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