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from Chanelle and Savannah:

A group of so-called “radical feminists” are coming to Toronto July 5-7, including those who have denied that 2-Spirit women, trans women and sex workers are real women, even claiming that we are at fault for male violence we have experienced and who have themselves harassed, bullied and abused members of our communities. However, on July 2 a fierce, beautiful and badass group of us are standing up for women’s solidarity and speaking back.

These radical feminist events are concerning to many women whose lives may be affected by the politics put forward– including the authors of this piece. One of us, Chanelle, is a feminist writer and sex worker rights activist with Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, while the other, Savannah, is a feminist writer and trans activist. One of us is cis and the other is trans. We stand together in our concerns about supposedly feminist politics that denies sex-working women their own voice, denies 2-spirit and trans women their womanhood, and constantly reduces feminism to purely reactionary politics.

The fact is that sex working, 2-Spirit and trans women’s communities are strong feminist leaders, thinkers and community architects, skilled at surviving and subverting sexism–including racist and colonial-sexism–and on July 2 we are bringing our communities together to define our own lives, our own boundaries and to envision/remember feminisms that do better for all of us. We’ll be gathering community leaders such as legendary artist and activist Mirha-Soleil Ross, community leader Monica Forrester (2-Spirit trans women and sex workers who created many of the first programs and services for trans people in Toronto) as well LA-based artist and activist micha cárdenas, beloved powerhouse Kim Katrin Crosby and the amazing Eagle Woman Singerz for art performance, an innovative anti-violence workshop, film and discussion.

Trans, 2-Spirit or cis, sex working or not, we know that women are strongest when we stand together!

Reclaiming Revolution

Reclaiming Revolution

presented by Maggie’s: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project
RECLAIMING REVOLUTION: SEX WORKING, 2 SPIRITED, TRANS* FEMINISTS RISE UP!

Tuesday July 2 | 519 Community Centre | Free

5-6:30PM MOVEMENTS THAT KEEP US SAFE: AN ANTI-VIOLENCE SKILLSHARE w/ micha cárdenas. ***This workshop is intended for 2 spirited people of all genders, trans* women and sex working women***

7-7:30 PM LEAVING EVIDENCE: A COMMUNITY ARCHIVING PROJECT. Queer and Trans young people from The People Project will conduct short video interviews about how you identify & what feminism looks like to YOU!
Anonymity is available. OPEN TO ALL

7:30 PM PERFORMANCES, FILM AND PANEL
OPEN TO ALL
-Eagle Woman Singerz
-Mirha-Soleil Ross performing an excerpt from her acclaimed play “Yapping Out Loud: Contagious Thoughts From An Unrepentant Whore”
-Panel featuring:
Mirha-Soleil Ross
micha cárdenas
Monica Forrester
Kim Katrin Crosby
-Short film on “Ho Feminism” (captioned)
-Closing Performance by… to be announced!

ASL interpretation for panel and performances | Wheelchair accessible | ttc tokens available to Maggie’s lounge members | watch online! check our facebook or website for livestreaming details

for more info:
facebook.com/maggiesto
www.maggiestoronto.ca

Note: the following is an earlier draft of an article that just appeared at Autostraddle; the draft below focuses slightly more on a Toronto perspective, while the final draft at Autostraddle gives a more complete analysis (I’ll recommend the Autostraddle version for most readers).

Word has quickly spread on the web in the last couple of days that Rachel Ivey, a member of the Deep Green Resistance environmentalist movement that holds openly transphobic views as “core” principles, is putting together a tour consisting of a few relatively high profile speaking events in June and July.  This speaking tour supposedly includes events at City College of NYC as well as the University of Toronto.

You can see the webpage for Rachel Ivey’s online fundraiser for her speaking tour here, along with several planned dates and speaking venues.  This includes her planned July 4 speaking engagement at the University of Toronto.  The page also mentions that further events will be listed in Ontario.

From there, I’m guessing that it’s not a coincidence that this date occurs right before the radical feminist RadFem Rise Up conference, which is scheduled for Toronto on July 5-7.  My guess is that Ms. Ivey will be be speaking at the conference as well.

One point however is that the venue for the ‘Rise Up’ conference is being kept secret, at least for now. That is clearly because anti-trans radfem activists have found it increasingly difficult in recent years to find institutions and organizations that are willing to host them and promote their views on account of their bigoted views regarding trans individuals.

Indeed, one of Ms. Ivey’s scheduled speaking events on her fundraiser page has already been cancelled by Bluestockings Bookstore, the venue that had been scheduled to host her second speaking event in NYC.  Bluestockings cited DGR’s “blatantly transphobic rhetoric” as the reason for the cancellation.

As a trans woman who has strong ties to Toronto, however, I will say that I don’t necessarily think that calling for these events to be canceled is the best course of action.   Read the rest of this entry »

                                                                           and your speech is a thunderous noise
                                                                           and my ears are catching a dreadful static

                                                                           --norma jean, high noise, low output

Many years ago, I remember my father once told me a story about a child he knew (neighbor’s kid or something like that). He once heard this child use some swear word or other, and so he gave them a lecture that they should never say such things.

Some time later, when he was working out in the woods behind our house, he found an old board on which someone had scribbled out in crayon all the words that my father had told them never to say. When he asked why they had (obviously) written these words out on the board, the child replied, “Well you told me I wasn’t supposed to say them, so I had to write them down!”

It’s a pretty adorable thing for a kid to do… the key word here of course is “kid.”

This of course brings us to the topic at hand: the ongoing kerfuffle over Julie Burchill’s recent column in the UK Observer. The piece was Burchill’s attempt to defend her friend and fellow columnist Suzanne Moore who had been criticized as a result of a series of events. First Moore made an odd, underhanded reference to Brazilian trans women, followed by comments about trans women “lopping off” their genitalia when she was approached about the issue (in a reasonable, polite manner) on twitter.

It’s ironic that many of Moore’s defenders have stubbornly complained that trans women who reacted to her comments (regarding our “mutilated” bodies and such) are being “politically correct” and over-sensitive, considering that the opening paragraph of Moore’s original article that set this situation off was a complaint about the phrase “Calm down, dear,” spoken by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron to Labour MP Angela Eagle during a Parliamentary session.

Of course, Moore is absolutely correct in her response to Cameron’s words: his comment was clearly patronizing and misogynistic. It’s just bizarre that Moore’s defenders accept that “calm down, dear,” deserves strong public condemnation, but somehow they expect that her talk of mutilated trans bodies and such should pass without a forthright rebuke (to say nothing of Burchill’s later use of slurs “trannies” and “she males” and such).

That having been said, I want to say one thing very clearly: as a trans woman, I absolutely condemn the decision by the Observer to “de-publish” Julie Burchill’s article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Over the past couple of days, we have seen a bit of an internet temper tantrum coming primarily from some in Britain, centering on some voices in the British commentariat, who are very upset about the fact that trans activists and allies have critiqued an unfortunate line in an article and rather blatantly transphobic comments on twitter by journalist Suzanne Moore (see for example my own previous comment about the issue here). Moore initially made an awkward, de-gendering reference to “Brazilian transsexuals” in her NewStatesman piece, followed by a blatantly transphobic tirade on twitter when gently approached about that odd line in the original article.

Let’s say something off the bat to put all of this in some context. The news media (as well as most every other media, in fact) has a long history of writing about trans people, and trans women in particular, in ways that are extremely sensationalistic, exploitative and ultimately damaging to our lives and livelihoods. These types of media tropes about trans women, habitually dehumanizing and de-gendering us through words, serve to stigmatize our bodies and our lives and therefore promote the discrimination, marginalization and violence that the vast majority of us have experienced quite commonly. I myself have experienced some measure of all of these, however trans women living at the intersections of racial oppression, poverty, and others tend to experience these even more dramatically than someone like myself with white privilege.

For examples of this type of media reporting in the U.S., consider a local TV report covering the murder of Coko Williams in a Detroit neighborhood back in April 2012. Coko had her throat slashed and was shot, yet the news story said little about the loss of human life, instead airing grievances of a neighborhood man who complained of street crime and finding trash on his lawn. When the loss of human life was alluded to towards the end of the interview, Coko’s name was never used and she was inappropriately referred to with male pronouns; further, another resident basically said she had the murder coming because she was trans. Finally, even when a queer website covered the murder, the picture included with the story featured a picture of trash from the first interviewee’s lawn rather than a picture of the woman who had been murdered.

Then there was the New York Times coverage of the passing of Lorena Escalera who died in a fire last May. The NYT story focused on details of her sex life and reported what amounted to rumors about surgery a neighbor believed she might have had. Of course, the NYT (or any reputable news source) would never report such sensationalized details after the passing of a cis woman (or probably anyone else, for that matter).

Meanwhile, as detailed by Trans Media Watch in its submission to the Leveson inquiry, elements of the British Press have shaped exploitative and damaging reporting about trans people almost to a twisted art form; this includes outing trans people regardless of any dangers they might face and publishing exploitative pieces about a trans child whose life and images were put on display in a sensationalized manner that invited public ridicule and abuse.

Then of course there are the endless array of plot lines of movies and shows such as CSI in which trans people, and trans women in particular, are presented as freaks or psychotic individuals, not to mention the sitcoms on which trans women are commonly presented as nothing more than a joke.

It is of course within this wider context of sensationalistic media coverage that most any comments about trans people in the press will be received. Therefore it is in this context that such comments must be viewed, including the line from Suzanne Moore’s original article:

“We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.”

As myself and many of my fellow trans activists have pointed out over the last few days, this final phrase is odd and alienating. As I pointed out earlier, it represents body-policing, and it’s anti-feminist. Although she has objected strenuously to this characterization of her words, the comments that Moore made on twitter when approached about the issue clearly revealed a much deeper prejudice about trans women and trans women’s bodies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Roseanne Barr, the well-known comedian and actress from the popular 90’s show Roseanne is presently running for President of the United States at the head of the Peace and Justice Peace and Freedom Party. Roseanne originally ran for the nomination as a member of the Green Party, but eventually lost to the present candidate, Jill Stein.

Late last night, Roseanne wrote a few tweets challenging her former opponent for the Green Party nomination on several issues. One of the issues that came up was Jill Stein’s stance in favor of trans rights (which she discusses a bit in an interview here), which was challenged in a tweet by one @ATagonist (who’s twitter account has since been suspended). She tweeted:

Jill is also in favor of letting men [sic.] into spaces where young girls get changed

followed by a link to a recent local news story out of Olympia, Washington about a trans woman who, like any woman, was using the women’s locker room to change at a local swim facility. Two girls from a high school swim team who also use the pool complained about sharing the facilities with a trans woman, with the result that the swim team has now been asked to use a separate locker room.

A couple of points need to be made about this story right from the start. First of all, this is not a story about sexual harassment or body parts being exposed. No such accusation has even been made in the story. So those who are creating such accusations out of thin air are simply being dishonest in hopes of pushing their agenda. A couple of girls from the swim team were apparently uncomfortable sharing the locker room with a trans woman. Well, now they are using separate facilities. I suppose they are within their rights to use separate facilities if they wish, but then again I suspect that if they had just let it go then these girls and the woman in question would have hardly noticed each other after sharing the facilities once or twice.

Secondly, one of the girls from the swim team has herself commented on the article under McCassidy123, specifically stating she had no problem sharing the locker room with the trans woman. This comment seems pretty key to the conversation, yet nevertheless gets completely ignored by those who are trying to project that someone being “uncomfortable” about sharing the locker room with a trans woman is just some obvious reaction anyone would have. Well, no it’s not.

Now, let’s go ahead and deal with this issue in a calm, rational manner. Here’s a very simple rule about the locker room that pretty much addresses all of these questions: Any woman, whatsoever, cis or trans, who goes into the locker room with the intention of exposing her genitals to young women should absolutely be kicked out of the locker room.

But that isn’t what happened. By all accounts, even by the two girls who didn’t want to be in the locker room with her, she just used the facilities like anyone else and then went on about her business. So you cannot accuse her of doing things that even people who were actually there never accused her.

Well, here is how Roseanne Barr chose to respond to to @ATagonist’s anti-trans woman tweets:

Read the rest of this entry »

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