How Does It Feel to Be Southern and LGBTQ After the SCOTUS Decisions?

Reblogged from The Huffington Post

I am a white, queer woman who lives in the rural South. I work for a multiracial, Southern LGBTQ organization. That means that the Supreme Court decisions relating to the Voting Rights Act (VRA), affirmative action, the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Fifth Amendment, Prop 8, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) all affect me. Why?

Because I live in a part of this country where my family and community have no basic protections at all. Google the word “gay” and the town I live in, “Goldsboro, N.C.,” and notice how many hits you get: zero. That’s right. There are no LGBT community centers, no clinics, and no advocacy groups within an hour of us. There are also no basic protections for work, safety, or families in most of our Southern states.

But you know what living without those basic protections reminds you? That justice is not an individual or single-issue need. The working-poor black communities down my street, and the farm workers outside in the heat 10 miles away, lack all kinds of basic protections too. We need a strong and vibrant LGBTQ movement that will not quit until we are a fierce and crucial team within the league of people in this country who are playing to win justice for everyone.

So the group I work with, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), made this video, called “Marry the Movement”:

We made it because we believe that the real victory in DOMA and Prop 8 being struck down is the victory of thousands of LGBTQ people and our allies who have changed the culture of this country, not just its policies and laws. We also know, because we live it every single day, that there is so much more to be done for LGBTQ justice in this country. We cannot be whole as an LGBTQ community while some of us have every privilege under the law and thousands of us do not because we are living in the South, or because we are transgender, or because we are undocumented, or black and poor.

We know that in times like these, LGBTQ people need each other, and that we must turn to each other in the spirit of our collective survival. There is still much work to be done in order to bring the reality of true justice home to the South and the whole country, so join me (and SONG) in “Marrying the Movement” until every LGBTQ person has full dignity, safety, and liberation.

So Much More Than Marriage

I’m really feeling this post and Trans*forming mom definitely does a better job of enumerating the issues we face as residents of southern states, than I do. Though I guess, for me, its less about DOMA specifically and more about how people who live in safer, more liberal states don’t understand that basic health and safety and access to medical care are still really pressing and largely unaddressed concerns for the rest of us. Like, not having a  federal ban on gay marriage is great and all, I guess, but it doesn’t mean anything when your state isn’t gonna legalize gay marriage anytime soon, so its kinda hard to see it as a victory.

Its also hard not to be bitter about the fact that the mainstream gay rights movement is more concerned with fighting for the right to get married, than it is with fighting for protection from workplace harrassment and discrimination, or fighting barriers to access to necessary medical care for trans* people. If marriage is your #1 goal for this movement then you need to re-evaluate your priorities. Fighting for the safety of queer people all over this country should take precidence over gay weddings.

Trans*forming Family

Like many, i woke Wednesday morning eagerly awaiting word of the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding DOMA and Proposition 8. To be honest, i wasn’t feeling very hopeful.

Just the day before, the Court had struck a huge blow to minorities in the South by invalidating portions of the Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, in Texas, conservative Republicans in the Senate tried to force through an illegal vote while ignoring procedure and the voices of thousands of protestors. When i went to bed Tuesday night after viewing the live stream of the final hours of Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster, i was discouraged and sad.

So, it was actually a surprise to me to read the Court’s ruling just after 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday from scotusblog:

5:4 DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.

I have friends who…

View original post 687 more words

Being Trans* in the South

When my partner and I were in Philadelphia for the Trans Health Conference earlier this month we were surprised to learn that it was no longer necessary for a trans* person to see a therapist and get a letter of recommendation to take to an endocrinologist before being prescribed hormones. We were told in multiple different workshops that the new WPATH Standards of Care promote the use of an “informed consent” model where a trans* person can be prescribed hormones by their primary care physician (regular doctor) as long as they sign a consent form stating that they understand the effects of hormones and the decision they are making and are capable of making said decision for themselves.

Well, if you live in the South, like me and my partner, finding a doctor, even an endocrinologist, who will prescribe hormones using the informed consent model may be impossible. In fact, my partner has been told that the closest doctors that who may be willing to work with them using the informed consent model have offices two hours away from where we live, and we live in the state capitol. I’m expecting even bleaker results as I look into possibly procuring a hysterectomy or tubal ligation and endometrial ablation. In fact the comprehensive “Transgender Resource and Referral List” for my state doesn’t even list any surgeons at all. The single trans* friendly OB/GYN listed for my area is Planned Parenthood, and I kind of doubt they’ll have much to offer me in the way of help or advice.

The reality of living below the Mason-Dixon is that while national attitudes towards queer and trans* people may be improving, the removal of Gender Identity Disorder from the DSM, DOMA being declared unconstitutional, and the new WPATH Standards of Care mean little here. Nothing has changed for us. We still have to jump through the same hoops and fight the same fights, and we still face monumental barriers to accessing necessary medical care.

A Feminist Guide to Gay Male Misogyny

This is great. Hard to summarize, but really great. And I’d say that its relevent to all men, not just gay men. He does a great job of demonstrating how misogyny impacts men and how they rely on it to prove their masculinity in a way that is universally detrimental. Simple, concise, and insightful!

Reader Ramblings: Post-Transition Dissonance

This is a really great post!

Neutrois Nonsense

I got an interesting question from a reader about feeling discomfort after transitioning.

I’m not what my body says I am, but I know I’m not wholly male either, just transmasculine because it’s comfortable and clearly-not-female. But I’ve recently come to the decision to start taking hormones, because this world/society is one-or-the-other. I’ve begun looking forward to building muscles, to maybe having a beard one day.

Somedays though, I don’t know what to do about being read as male more often than not. I mean, mostly that’s a good thing, I welcome it, I want it to happen. Sometimes, though, I want to scream I am not, I am neither gender, I don’t want a gender – but I remain quiet because I know the world can’t really conceptualize that. The dissonance makes me nauseous and I start to doubt myself, even though I also remember that when I decided…

View original post 688 more words

Indigenous Feminism Without Apology

This is real good readin’.

Unsettling America

By Andrea Smith, Unsettling Ourselves

We often hear the mantra in indigenous communities that Native women aren’t feminists. Supposedly, feminism is not needed because Native women were treated with respect prior to colonization. Thus, any Native woman who calls herself a feminist is often condemned as being “white.”

However, when I started interviewing Native women organizers as part of a research project, I was surprised by how many community-based activists were describing themselves as “feminists without apology.” They were arguing that feminism is actually an indigenous concept that has been co-opted by white women.

The fact that Native societies were egalitarian 500 years ago is not stopping women from being hit or abused now. For instance, in my years of anti-violence organizing, I would hear, “We can’t worry about domestic violence; we must worry about survival issues first.” But since Native women are the women most likely to be killed…

View original post 1,364 more words

Philly Trans Health Conference 2013

My partner and I went up to Philadelphia with a friend for the Trans Health Conference June 13th – 15th this year. Here’s a list of the workshops I attended and my summaries of them. If you attended the conference also and have something you would like to add or if you’d like me to go into more detail about any of the workshops listed below please comment!

Thursday:

2:20pm – Trans Representation in Porn

4:05pm – Non-Binary Narratives as Self-Care

I wasn’t super stoked on Trans Representations in Porn. I was expecting it to be kind of a guided discussion about the state of trans representations in porn and what that means for the community and what we’d like to see in the future. Instead it was a panel of professional, trans, porn performers talking about their experiences acting in porn. It just seemed like more of an interview with these people about their careers, which just happened to be in porn, than anything else. It didn’t do a whole lot for me because  I don’t care if you’re porn-famous, or what production house you work for, thats just not what I’m interested in discussing when it comes to porn and trans people.

Non-Binary Narratives as Self-Care on the other hand was really awesome. Most of the time was devoted to small group discussions with the intent of “developing our narratives”, which is a fancy way of saying we spent a lot of time talking to each other about our experiences as non-binary people and what they mean to us. It was really great to have a bunch of other non-binary folks to bounce ideas around with. I don’t really remember much of what was said now, but I still feel really positive about that workshop and came away from it feeling really good.

Friday:

12:45pm – Keynote Speaker Qwo-li Driskill

2:20pm – Non-Binary Transition: Exploring the Options

4:05pm – Non-Binary Transition: A Community Discussion

So the first thing I went to on Friday was Qwo-li Driskill’s keynote speech. Qwo-li is a Cherokee two-spirit, so their speech was mostly about the intersection of colonialism and gender. There was some poetry mixed in there and historical and cultural information about the Cherokee people, but it was all wound together, very poetic, with lots of vivid imagery, its kind of a hard thing to summarize, but I appreciated it. I feel like it might have been less impactful for me though then for other people in the audience becuase I’ve read some of Qwo-li Driskill’s work and I’ve read 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance. I’m familiar with and in agreement with anti-colonialist politics and have an awareness of indigenous people’s struggles and the genocide perpetrated against them by the United States. So to me Qwo-li’s speech wasn’t particularly shocking or overwhelming, which I feel like it might have been for some people in the audience.

Non-Binary Transition: Exploring the Options was presented by Micah (aka Maddox) of Neutrois Nonsense  and was super helpful and informative for people (like my partner) who are non-binary and are looking into accessing parts of medical transition. We definitely didn’t know that the new WPATH standards of care were recommending that doctors now used an informed consent model rather than requiring letters from therapists before prescribing hormones. I also really appreciated this workshop for its multifaceted approach to talking about transition (viewing transition as social, legal and medical) rather than just focusing on the medical aspects of transition.

Non-Binary Transition: A Community Discussion was a facilitated discussion immediately following the Exploring the Options workshop and was also hosted by Micah. This was a single, large group discussion with a facilitator as opposed to Non-Binary Narratives as Self-Care (audience broken into small groups of 4 to 8, no facilitator). The discussion was pretty good and Micah did an excellent job facilitating.

Saturday:

10:20am – Hysterectomy: What You Need to Know

12:45pm – Feminizing Hormones 101

4:05pm – Non-Binary and Trans: Political Identities, Narratives and Experiences

5:40pm – Trans Prisoners: The Prison Industrial Complex, Survival and Solidarity

I was really excited about the hysterectomy workshop because one of the major reasons I wanted to go to the PTHC this year was to try to find a doctor I could talk to/get more concrete information from about hysterectomies, endometrial ablations and tubal ligations. I was kind of disappointed with this workshop, not because of the presenters, but because of the audience. Initially the audience was really hostile, one of the first questions asked was how much experience the presenters, both OB/GYNs, had working with trans men and how much they knew about the effects of testosterone on the body. Then once it became apparent that they knew what they were talking about everyone wanted to raise their hand and ask their random-ass, personal medical question. It went on like that for the entire duration of the workshop, alternating between people using these doctors as a proxy at which they could vent their anger and frustration with the medical community or using them to get all their random medical questions answered/tell all their weird medical anecdotes. The presenters didn’t even get to finish their slideshow becuase of all the interruptions.

Feminizing Hormones 101 was really great. It was presented by a trans woman who is nurse practitioner from New York, she was witty as well as informative, the information was presented clearly and was a good mix of medical facts and anecdotal feedback about the effects of estrogen. I went with my partner, who is interested in taking estrogen and they really appreciated the workshop and it definitely helped them make some decisions about how they want to take E.

The next to last workshop I went to was Non-Binary and Trans: Political Identities, Narratives and Experiences. The topic the facilitators wanted to explore was whether or not non-binary people are necessarily trans. Which, to me, is a no brainer, you can’t be assigned non-binary at birth so you can’t be a cisgender non-binary person. But I went anyway, I thought it might provoke some interesting discussion. It didn’t. Well, it might have, I left early so I can’t say for sure. What it most certainly did provoke was a whole lot of circular discussion and navelgazing. Most of which people couldn’t even manage to relate back to the discussion questions. It was mostly a whole lot of rambly, off-topic,  different-people-saying-the same-things-different-ways-over-and-over-again. And at that point I really didn’t have the patience to see it through to the end, since I was pretty sleep deprived.

I went to Trans Prisoners: The Prison Industrial Complex, Survival and Solidarity about 20 minutes late, because my partner and I lost track of time. It was a good workshop, the information was clear and well presented and the analysis was spot on, but it was all stuff I already knew so I just felt kind of indifferent about it, despite the fact that it truly was a well done workshop.

Overall:

I’m very glad we went, it was a great experience for me and my partner and we both benefited a lot. It was especially neat to be in a predominantly trans space for the first time in my life, its hard to describe how that feels, but it was a wonderful feeling. I think safety was definitely part of it. My partner commented multiple times on how safe they felt, that they didn’t need to look over their shoulder all the time, and that they could feel more comfortable just being themselves in public there.

Positives: It was awesome that both keynote speakers were non-white people. The whole conference in general was really conscious of intersectionality, and that was great.

Negatives: I felt like class analysis was kinda lacking in a lot of the attendees. Most of the other people I was in workshops with just kind of assumed that everyone in the workshop could afford to do/access the same things as them and that was kind of uncomfortable for me. I’m poor. I grew up poor and I’m still poor. Like, I-work-a-service-industry-job-and-have-less-than-two-thousand-dollars-to-my-name poor. And that’s just what my life is like, so its awkward when someone assumes otherwise, especially because, statistically, amongst trans people, I am not an anomaly.