Tl;dr I have a donation link now in order to emphasize the importance of recognizing the value of the work I do and to emphasise the importance of funding queer artists.
I wrote this a year ago, put up the donation link, and was too nervous to post the actual writing. But, after a year of multiple jobs and struggling to earn enough to make my life vaguely sustainable, I’m forcing myself to publish this. I’m not asking you to donate if that puts any kind of burden or pressure on you (I’m ok, promise.), but I put a lot of work into this blog alone and I believe I owe it to myself to encourage people who can to support my work.
In rereading this, I do want to recognize that I’ve strayed from the trans focus of my blog this year and have included many more conversations around aroaceness, but the concepts still remain the same, even if there are some places where I wrote “cis” and now mean “cis and allo”.
Yeah, so, this is a hard one to write and it comes from an even harder decision, but please bear with me because this is a really important reminder about our economy and the importance of queer artists.
You may notice that my blog now has a donate link. It’s a small one. I’ve been toying with a lot of different options for a long time, and decided I wanted something small that asked for something small, because I’m not ready for anything larger, and it matches what I do. This blog is small, so I ask for something small.
When I first started this blog, I was not intending to make money from it, and I still don’t actually expect that that will happen. Freedom of information is important to me and, if I can help it, I do not intend for any of my writing to go behind a paywall. There are many reasons why someone could not pay to read something and none of those should get in the way of reading what I have to say. And, of course, a huge reason I created this blog was to find other trans dancers and people like me, which is something that should not require money. And, to trump all of that, I am under no illusion with this blog (even if I act like it most time) – I am well aware that most people who read it are my friends. I have no intention of asking the amazing people in my life who already give me so much of their love and support to give more.
That said, a number of different arguments, both big and small, have come up and led me to believe that a donation link belongs on my blog and that those who are reading and learning regularly from me should consider a small donation to my work. It comes down to a single story:
When I worked at a summer camp and was coordinating support for lgbt+ campers, some of my fellow staff members got frustrated with me because I would take myself off of other duties. At the same time, I was so emotionally exhausted from being constantly and visibly out, and then using that to guide cis and straight staff members to helping the campers, that I was not capable of doing much else. In a better situation, I would have been able to clarify that to others and clear it with the head of the camp and then gone and done the work I needed to do, but that particular camp had yet to build the support structures I needed, so I did what I could with what I had.
On the last day, after our campers had gone home, it became apparent that staff members that had worked with me to support LGBT+ campers and lead inclusivity by example, had not quite gotten the implications that I was also a trans person. They didn’t realize that they still had to not be transphobic. I then had to manage their transphobia. They got to turn off and relax when the campers went home, I was still doing the same work I had been doing for weeks, amidst a growing level of casual transphobia, because my cis coworkers had decided to stop doing the work they had been doing to protect trans campers. Apparently, I wasn’t worth that work.
The point of this story is not to whine (ok, it is), but to point out that the conversations I have and the advocacy work I do is hard, unrecognized, and, as a result, unpaid or underpaid. I put a lot of work into this blog. I put a lot of work into educating cis people outside of this blog as well. It is a lot of emotional labor. It takes time and energy, and then even more time, to restore my energy. It is easy to look at the final output of something and not understand what went in and I get that, so it’s up to me to value my own time and energy.
That donation link is recognition of the work I put into this blog.
These past few months being out of school have been hard. I worked for a transphobic boss who often forgot to pay me, I have been patching together various part-time jobs, I finally got a job I wanted, only to be informed that the organization had not quite pieced together all the details and that I would have to wait two weeks to even know my start date. Even with my more reliable (if patchwork) jobs, the money I make is just barely enough to cover rent and living expenses. I can get away with this, because I have savings, but it has meant that blogging is less of a priority. It is important to me that I keep doing this and the best way to do that is to start reframing it as part of my work, instead of an extra thing I do when I have time. In other words, by placing it as something that is work with value, I intend to make blogging part of my patchwork job situation instead of in addition to it.
There are also two other HUGE ideological reasons why I am doing this:
- I really need cis people to recognize and value the work I’m doing for them. I write this blog for trans people, but I know most of the readership is cis, and I do write some things specifically on allyship for cis people. So, this blog more or less provides a free education on trans identities for cis people, not a 101, but an extension and a chance to reflect on concepts beyond 101 level. Education should be free for everyone, but education providers should always be paid, as recognition of the amount of work that goes into their teaching. I get paid to teach French to children, why shouldn’t I be paid to write about trans-specific struggles for cis people? I have had so many situations when a cis person goes “oh, you’re trans? What about…?” and expects an education right then and there. I need cis people to understand that the education they receive from me is a service and not a right, and by suggesting they pay for it, I hope to clarify that.
- I refuse to be an excuse not to pay other queer bloggers, artists, and activists. Art, in general, and especially queer art, is severely underfunded. Many queer artists rely on online donations to live. They have to put things behind paywall, use Patreon, crowdfund ideas, and beg for enough money to pay rent. For someone who doesn’t understand the work that goes into art, it’s easy to think that the people not asking for donations are somehow morally better. So, I am putting a donation button as a model, not just a recognition of the value of my work, but as emphasis that queer artists are allowed to ask for money (and should be asking for money).
So, long story short. I have a donation button here and I’d like to encourage you to use it if you are cis, not a personal friend (and thus already giving me so much and being so amazing), and have the means. In the big picture, I hope everyone considers this every time they see a queer artist asking for money and try to put a little aside to value our work the way it should be valued. This also goes towards artists of colors, disabled artists, and any artist who is already marginalized from systems of support. Being an artist is hard.