On Saturday, the Board of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) approved changes to the newest addition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders (DSM), including changes to the diagnostic criteria for Gender Identity Disorder (GID). After years of pushing the APA to re-evaluate the inclusion of GID in the DSM, many trans advocates celebrated changes to the diagnostic criteria as a victory and a step towards full elimination of GID and related diagnoses from the DSM altogether. However, there are also many trans and disability advocates who have raised important questions about what this change will mean for trans communities and how to frame our advocacy moving forward.
Over two weeks ago now, my partner and I went to the Trans* Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil at the local Unitarian Universalist church. While the service was, as always, two parts depressing and one part hokey, it reminded me very acutely just how rare and pleasant it is to be in a public space where my partner can wear a skirt safely.
I am surrounded by gender non-conformity in my daily life and I live in a community where it is embraced, so I have forgotten that we are not normal, and why we cannot be safe everywhere. I am losing the ability to see my life in the context of the dominant culture’s values, which makes being confronted with them and the dangers they pose fairly jarring. I can no longer understand or remember why they are disgusted by us or why they fear us. I have lost the ability to see that there is something “wrong” with us according to the unwritten rules that govern gender, because I know that we are absolutely and perfectly beautiful.
My survival instincts, however, will never let me completely erase my cultural conditioning. Whenever we walk down the street, whenever we enter public space and my partner does not pass as a cis person I feel it, our own very real, very immediate lack of safety. It puts me on high alert, I am wary, watching everyone, assessing potential threats. I intentionally make eye contact with everyone who looks at us for too long.
Despite the fact that I can no longer remember why anyone would bat an eyelash at a trans* person, much less fear, hate or wish to harm one, when my partner and I leave the bubble of safety that is our community it all comes rushing back. Tumultuous, clashing with my own most fundamental beliefs, my cultural baggage, my long lost instinct for discerning unspoken cultural rules and transgressions, honed from childhood to understand and digest gender and its rules without ever contemplating them. I wish someone would take this fucking culture back from me because I don’t want it. It’s just dead weight, baggage I have to fight off, like a person dumped into cold water in heavy clothes struggling to stay afloat.
That’s not all true of course, in those moments I have to remember their rules because that’s the only way to know when we’re breaking them, to know when we’re not safe. It’s in those moments I feel like I have a strange sort of double vision. I see my partner the way I have always seen them, beautiful, androgynous, and a bit femme-y, but I am also painfully aware of how the outside world sees them and what the cost of that can be, has been for so many trans-feminine people. That’s when my partner walking out the door in a skirt simultaneously seems to me an ordinary thing and some monumental act of bravery. It seems so strange to me that a thing like that, putting on clothes, should carry so much weight.
Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied, or realized. “Praxis” may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas.
College students piss me off. Now, hold your horses, this isn’t going where you think it’s going. I live in a college town, I’m “college age”, but I don’t go and have never been to college. I’m also a militant anarchist and radical queer and trans* person.
College students piss me off because they’re all theory. Everything is theoretical to them, poor people, queer people , people of color, etc. I’m so fucking tired of trying to explain to college kids why their theories about poor people and what to “do about them” are moronic and classist. I’m frustrated because these kids live in an ivory tower bubble, debating the academic merits of this and that theory, but they are completely cut off from the real life experiences of the people on which those theories are based.
Don’t get me wrong, theory is important, it’s really fucking important. It informs our organizing, it’s the why behind what we do, but if it doesn’t coexist hand in hand with lived experience it’s useless. The best theory is built from the ground up. It comes from the people who are doing on the ground organizing, whose lived experiences inform their theory and whose theory informs their organizing. The best theory comes from the people who live their theory and continually critique it as they see it in action. The best theory, the only theory that can be meaningful to those of us outside the ivory towers of academia is a living theory, and it is only living so long as it is lived.
this post via The Alchemist’s Closet
When the sign on the door says “LGBT,” and the facilitator asks for everyone’s pronouns, [trans people] are still not in a space that is free of cissexism, binarism and transphobia. In fact, we may be subject to them in a unique way that exists within an LGBT movement that has been led and shaped primarily by cisgender gays and lesbians.