Reina Gossett is a visionary and her work deserves prestige and compensation.As a writer and an organizer, I get a warm flush a few times a month when I get a shout out on social media from my many peers and colleagues in queer feminist POC networks. The last one that gave me real pause was the incomparable make-up artist Umber Ghauri of Brown Beauty Standards who let the world know that I did one of my usual backstage hook-ups for a great campaign celebrating trans women’s beauty for the End Violence Against Women campaign. Reina Gossett is a historical researcher, writer, filmmaker and activist who has been receiving the antithesis of the aforementioned warm treatment that comes from community solidarity and compassionate collaboration. She’s been done real dirty in the furore which has surrounded the Netflix documentary film “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”. If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, Gossett accused David France, the director, of capitalizing on her years of research and ideas for the film. I spoke with David France, just to get a measure of the man. I was not interested in the pernickety back and forth of accusations, allegations, defensiveness and labored partial truth seeking. The expansion of digital media has enlarged the court of public opinion exponentially to an extent that would boggle the minds of television watchers. In this era where many are concerned about the not-that-new phenomenon of 'fake news', the thoroughness of journalistic endeavor hasn't been diluted across the board. It seems that David France believes that because he had "trans and gender non-conforming people from the very top of our production to the bottom of our production” that it could exempt him from criticism of his cisgender white gaze and perhaps even invalidate Reina’s claims that her labor was exploited.
When rich white women get to board the train from the suburbs donning their treasured pink pussy hats, and they get to say this march is for me, who are they ignoring in the process?By Ally Sabatina Jan. 20 marked one year since Donald Trump was sworn into office as president and with it came the second-annual Women’s March in major cities all over the country — Philadelphia being no exception. Though the city of Brotherly Love tried to switch gears into a slightly more inclusive version of sisterly love, organization fell remarkably short by highlighting cis-terly love. There were a number of glaring issues, especially the stunning lack of trans voices in the organizational process of the Women’s March and the movement at-large — and Philadelphia was not spared or unique in its own lack of intersectionality. Chief among Philadelphia Women’s march organizers’ being totally and completely out of touch was their invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department for “safety measures.” Fascism operates under nationalist notions of safety and bullshit centrists, like the lobby that privacy and safety are moot points if you have nothing to hide, but in a country of white, police and military aggression, none have place in progressive movements. Police presence at a progressive march that may have ordinarily inspired people on the margins to show up for issues that resonate with them, were effectively pushed further to the margins for fear of harassment, stop and frisk, and profiling. https://twitter.com/ChingonaCommie/status/955239264475783168 https://twitter.com/sheabutterfemme/status/954817605294059520 https://twitter.com/CountyAntifa/status/954815336225918977 But the march and its organizers showed themselves to once again to care little, if at all, about Black and brown folks, especially queer and trans women of color. In fact, their invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department was a calculated idea facilitated by the backbone of liberal ideology. With liberals so concerned with the status quo being maintained—and only challenged by pre-approved “well meaning liberals”—police are friends of liberalism. When the liberal dialogue is focused on changing the ways we, the people interact with police—effectively placing blame and burdens of civility only on the complainant and not on the root causes that allow police to militarize, surveille and terrorize neighborhoods—cops get the privilege of being regarded as the good, true and right in any position because their priorities rest in preserving law and order as defined by the status quo. Trans, indigenous, black, queer and disabled people of color are expected to keep their mouths shut, their concerns mum and to never expect a seat at the table. The Women’s March as a concept has never appealed to me. I’m not one to engage in reactionary politics and as a sufferer of general anxiety and chronic pain known for my proclivity for staying home, the march was never for me. But when we get into the meat of the thing to talk about who the march is for, messaging falls short. Aside from the language of a women’s march being exclusionary to people on the margins who do not identify as women but are for women, the question of who the march is even for gets raised. When there are gatekeepers of femininity in every corner and at every checkpoint, who gets to ascribe to principles of a supposed women’s march? When rich white women get to board the train from the suburbs donning their treasured pink pussy hats, and they get to say this march is for me, who are they ignoring in the process?
Rose McGowan seeks to bask in the glow of a compassion only reserved for white women whilst the footprints of her Doc Martens are pressed into our backs.I employ what one could call a ‘survivor’s leniency’. As a complex PTSD sufferer because of multiple sexual assaults, and the recipient of intense therapeutic support which led me away from drug-induced psychosis and back, into a now thriving recovery, I know well the long-term impact of sexual violence on those of us who have been preyed upon by abusive people. Thus, I have not shouted my dislike from any rooftops what bugs me about Rose McGowan. It started when I heard her on Rupaul and Michelle Visage’s podcast “What’s the Tee?”. They’re consummate professionals who are professionally flattering, well-researched and usually deliver content seamlessly. Yet, they couldn’t hide how clunkily awkward it was when Rose McGowan was their guest. One of the lowest moments in this car crash of a podcast was her misguidedly using the terms trans women and drag queens interchangeably. Her statements about trans women and her racist, TERF and queerphobic ways aren't new, but the cherry on top was a ridiculous anecdote about their lack of interest in her menstrual cycle. “Don’t you think it’s funny that you guys never ask me about my period?” Maybe it’s too much to expect cisgender people to wonder how insidious gender dysphoria might be? That there may be trans girls who mentally spiral downwards in thoughts about not having wombs and not having children? That to this trans girl it would be really disrespectful and insensitive to brazenly ask for details of someone’s menstrual cycle out of the blue? That the idea of asking someone about their genitalia and how they work and how they feel about them is conversational territory that I am not entitled to? #mindblown
Being trans is not at all determined by our bodies. Our genders are not determined by our bodies or body parts.Even as knowledge on trans identities and trans folks becomes more widespread and accessible, a perilous hyperfixation on trans people’s bodies remains. We are vilified and harassed everyday in our homes, our schools, or in our places of work for how we might look or present. Trans folks are consistently shamed, marginalized, and oppressed under cisheteropatriarchy and through its actors for failing to adhere to colonized, cisgender binaries and gender roles and expectations, especially with regards to our presentation and our bodies. Trans people are misunderstood and pathologized as having some “deviance” of the body. Even among folks who claim to be trans allies, trans people remain fetishized and objectified as body-objects and nothing more. Trans women and femmes especially are graded and received only through how conforming our bodies are to respectable, colonial, and cis standards of beauty. We are told even by those who claim to be our friends how they would “never have been able guess/tell”. We are told that our presentations “look so good for a trans girl” or that we are “surprisingly” skillful at navigating and crafting our presentation. As well, armful, overgeneralized assumptions continue regarding trans folks and our bodies, in particular our genitalia or other physical characteristics. And this contributes to the transmisogynistic demonization of trans women and femmes in particular regarding social access, like to public bathrooms. This also maintains a predatory “chaser” culture in which interested potential partners fetishize trans folks on the mere assumption of what body parts we may have. But in truth, we are more than our bodies. Our genders are more than bodies. In fact, being trans is not at all determined by our bodies. Our genders are not determined by our bodies or body parts. And our trans identity does not determine what body parts we may have. This pathologized, colonial misunderstanding of gender is simply not true. Regardless of where our genitals or other physical/bodily characteristics fall on the spectrum of human variation, we are peoples of many different genders.
Related: DON’T BE A TERF: TRANSMISOGYNY 101
May white feminism stay and die in 2017. They have really outdone themselves. My newsfeed curation is constantly being managed by my trigger-happy fingers that have turned ‘unfollow’ into a reflex reaction. Yet, I can be laughing uproariously at some delicious