Bypassing Authority (and trolls); trans woman inclusion and accountabilty
August 14, 2008
This is tangentially in response to this shit about Michfest but it could be in response to just about any iteration of this cis feminist conversation, so I’m not really going to link to more. You get the point. I’m thinking more about how the way Michfest’s not-policy is being discussed currently is counterproductive–LV & co have given up in all but name, and the folx defending it are little more than trolls. (if there was a (I’m-not-a-)troll bingo card, I’m sure Corey would send more than one person to bingo) While I like how the OP repositions it from controversy to discrimination in name, I feel like it’s not actually being treated that way any discussions I’ve seen, including this one. If it’s discrimination, shouldn’t our efforts be more focused on helping / encouraging / supporting the women who break that line, who enter when LV doesn’t want us/them to but isn’t going to stop us/them?
I guess what I mean is–there comes a point when the fact that there are folx who defend discrimination need not hold us back from living our lives. I feel like there’s a level of this-has-to-be-fought-until-the-jerks-agree, which in the case of Michfest is completely untrue. The battle to get in the door is won. Camp Trans sent, eight trans women that I can think of to the land this year, entirely without incident. Some Festies even *donated money,* *unasked* so that trans women could attend. A CT/Fest cooperation plans to create a shared workshop space next year. So really, it just doesn’t matter.
…and you don’t do your best educating work talking to trolls. See how much energy Corey took up? It’s dumb, it’s pointless. Say ‘That’s not ok, you’re out of touch with reality, educate yourself and come back later when you have half a clue what trans folx’s lives are actually like.’ There are folx you can educate, and you can work on creating accountability in the spaces you control. And, frankly, even if you aren’t in control of a shelter/rape crisis center/etc, you can affect the culture, provide services to trans women and other trans folx, and create accountability there without being in charge. Why are we acting on this as if the people in charge are actually the people in charge–a notion that’s deeply classist anyways? If we’re acting on this official-change level, then 1)the actual lives of trans women aren’t being improved, [cis] feminism’s image/karma is being improved and our lives incidentally, and 2)we’re waiting for the people statistically most likely to want to exclude to change (i.e. middle-class, middle-aged, white, vanilla, radfem womyn) before we take our place. Support trans women entering those spaces, support folks providing services they’re “not supposed to”. Make pressure about accepting trans staff and volunteers–something the folx in charge can actually control… Support civil disobedience when staffers are asked to kick a trans person out or if a trans person is asked to leave. create response teams, create groups of folx to advocate for trans women et al when we try to access services, create support buffers for all these times and in particular if we choose to access spaces involving “unavoidable public nudity” (one of the places the “inclusive” ENDA says it’s ok to discriminate against us)…
Promote our writing, our music, our workshops; fund our activism; educate shelter staffers, boards, volunteers; educate or become doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, clerks at public institutions such as courts, DMV’s, etc; do prison and/or police accountabilty work, check in with the trans women who access spaces you do and see what they (or, in particular, their friends that don’t access them) need. Write about the ways that trans misogyny reinforces misogynistic-not-otherwise-specified gender roles–and in particular, how it enforces them; how transphobia justifies rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, how the trans misogynistic appropriation of the term woman-born-woman has erased an important concept from the feminist lexicon, and similarly the term woman-identified-woman… write about how explicitly trans misogynistic trolls serve to eliminate accountability for more subtle transphobia, and create that accountability. Do outreach to trans women’s communities for activism you’re doing and spaces you’re creating–not just attending but also organizing and planning. Consider how and if your work improves the lives of trans folx and trans women in particular (trans women of color experiencing homelessness in particular)–and how to make it do that better. Draw the pretty-fucking-obvious connections between the radfem policing of trans bodies, makeup/heels/femininity, and BDSM/sex. etc etc.
And, you know, blog about our murders and shit. But, really, don’t make us another pawn in the 2nd wave / 3rd wave wars, erasing our own perspectives; don’t make us tokens.