[Content note: This post contains some major-league triggery stuff about depression and self-harm. Also, there's transphobia. There's always transphobia, lolsob]
Yesterday I wrote a piece about why I don’t like “love your body” campaigns. When I wrote it, I made a deliberate decision to omit any of my issues with self-harm. I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
First off, I think it’s inappropriate to start talking about self-harm at the same time that I’ve got widget up raising money for my medical bills. The whole “give me money or I’ll cut myself” thing is manipulative as hell.
Just to be clear that I’m not being passive-aggressive, I’ve long since decided that if I ever find myself insinuating that self harm is eminent, I’m absolutely stopping raising funds prior to doing so. It’s just not cool to put folks in that position, full stop.
And you know, since friends and family are likely reading, let me just say that I’m having a fairly decent week, all things considered. I’m an old hand at managing my depression. I’ve got a great support network. This being trans* shit ain’t fun (nor is mental illness). If it was, all the kids these days would be doing it.
As much as I like to ground my writing in my experiences, I’m not really here to talk about me as much as I am why I’m usually careful to not publicly talk about self harm.
If you’re trans* (or intimately involved in a trans* community), you’ve probably already noticed this: we’re constantly talking amongst ourselves about self-harm.
[Content note: homophobia, transphobia, violence]
During Monday’s inaugural address, President Obama referenced “our forebears” traveling through Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall on the long road towards freedom. It was an unexpected and poignant moment for me and many of my fellow LGBTQ Americans. Cool beans.
In the intervening days, the media has been awash in explanations of what happened at Stonewall:
“In 1969, some cops rolled a boulder in front of New York’s gay bar. Miraculously, the gays’ mix tape lasted for eight days. When some asshole moved the rock so he could get free parking, the gays came out and had a grand feast with the police. To commemorate the police’s decision to for some reason let Rosie O’Donnell have a TV show, each year those people hold a big parade that makes it a total pain in the ass to drive to that Saturday’s ballsport matches.” -Some douche, probably
And then there’s NPR:
”So, what was Stonewall?”
Given that the Stonewall rebellion happened over forty years ago, and that allowing public school teachers to acknowledge queer peoples’ existence is still a controversial matter for many Americans, it makes sense to examine Stonewall.
The NPR story is representative of a common theme in Stonewall narratives.
[G]ay men resisted police harassment at the Stonewall Inn
The Stonewall Inn… was one of the few places where gay men, almost all necessarily closet, could gather.
[A] gay male bar in New York
It was not filled, as some accounts have it, with drag queens and street hustlers.
[Authorities] targeted gay men.
[T]he men began to throw things.
It wasn’t the first time gay men had pushed back.
Gay men in San Francisco had already been protesting.
At this point, most of you already know where I’m going with this. Before I get there, let me be clear about a couple of things.
Two thousand and thirteen is not nineteen sixty-nine and community identities evolve with time.
In the late sixties, society did target gay men for punishment. It still does, even if we’ve made a lot of progress. For one thing, “homophobia” is now a word.
During the sixties, straight society had an even less nuanced view of LGBT lives then it does now. If you were the kind of person who had the wrong kind of sex with the wrong sort of people in the wrong sort of clothes, you were one of the others. There wasn’t a lot of parsing out “straight acting” homos from queer ones.
The LGBT community has always been both a community and a coalition. Yet, in the years since Stonewall, various members of the community have put themselves forward as more palatable, less threatening, and therefore more deserving of rights.
‘Sure I have sex with other men, but at least I’m not once of those lipstick-wearing penis-havers.’
‘Sure I had a physical condition, but I got it fixed and I’m now I’m having the right kind of sex, unlike some people.’
The act gets old.
Stonewall was not merely gay men’s riot. Call us what you want, but queens, trans women, and otherwise gender non-conforming people (and yes, there were butch women) were a major part of the rebellion that many gay men trace back to the Stonewall.
What’s more, while events in Greenwich Village were pivotal in queer liberation, we’d been fighting back for years. Stonewall wasn’t the first violent protest of police harrassment where trans* people played a major role. It’s also worth noting that queers of color comprised a large proportion of those fighting back.
I’m not pointing all of this out because I want to play oppression Olympics. I’m not even pointing it out to educate folks– I suspect most regular readers of both Shakesville and my work are already well aware that trans* people have long been a part of the struggle for queer rights.
I’m pointing all of this out because most straight folks are clueless about this aspect of our history. I’m pointing this out because it’s important to keep calling out certain corners of the gay community on their incomplete narrative.
Stonewall was embedded in a much larger, intersection fight for social justice. Don’t rob my elders of their legacy.
You owe people an apology.
Earlier this week you published a satirical story about Mark Wahlberg being a trans woman. The joke, as it were, is that trans people are trans.
I’m a huge fucking smartass, and a longtime Onion reader. I totally get that satire involves risks. I also get that satirists miss the mark a lot of the time. Y’all miss the mark a lot. That’s not surprising, given how much content The Onion‘s writers churn out. It’s also something a lot of your readers tolerate, because OMFG WHEN YOU HIT THE MARK.
But bloody hell, “trans person trans” isn’t funny (see also: “fat person fat”). It’s lazy. It’s been done (TRUST ME). It’s hurtful. It perpetuates hate and violence. Etcetra.
Look, it’s not that trans people aren’t funny. I know so many hilarious trans people who can write satire about transness that would make y’all laugh your tits and/or wangs off. A lot of us could use the cash. CALL US.
In the meantime, do the grown up thing and apologize.
[Trigger warning for rape, stalking, and other violence]
You might have heard that a cisgender attendee of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival posted pictures of trans women who attended this year’s festival, along with various personal tidbits that she was able to dig up. She also floated the idea of starting a website devoted to outing trans women at MichFest, along with suggesting that festival goers post pictures of trans women in order to be able to harass them.
I am so not going to wade into Ye Olde Michigan Wars any more than I already have. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.
What I am going to do is talk about the use of the Internet to threaten people. In this case, WordPress.com hosts the blog in question. WordPress makes all users agree to terms of service, including agreeing that:
“the content [of your blog will]… not contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities, and [shall] not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party”
The blog in question is clearly outing people as trans, thus violating the privacy rights of third parties. The blog also refers to trans women as “predatory males”, and calls for them to be escorted off the festival grounds. This is clearly a threat, and in the context of the post I’d say is fair to interpret as inciting violence.
WordPress has refused to remove the offending blog, despite its being in violation of the terms of service. As far as I know (feel free to fill in the details for a writer who’s busy hunting for textbooks), WordPress effectively requires someone to get a court order before they’ll remove content from a WordPress.com hosted blog. I see this as, um, problematic.
Permit me to talk about cyber-enabled violence, notably violence against women, and to spell out why WordPress.com’s inaction horrifies me. Read more…