One Equal World

Posts Tagged ‘Trans

A photo of trans activist Marsha P. Johnson. The words, "Nice girls don't make history" are written across the bottom of the photo.

Marsha P. Johnson.
Photo courtesy of Glaurung Quena via Flickr Creative Commons.

It’s about time that Marsha “pay it no mind” Johnson had a modern documentary about her life. The legacy of this black trans woman and activist is writ large across American LBGT history. And it should be cause for celebration that “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is trending on Netflix this week. But there’s ugliness just under the surface.

David France, the filmmaker releasing the new Netflix documentary, is a white, cis, gay man with a history of writing about the dramatic and tragic in queer history. He has books on sexual abuse and Iraq’s death penalties, and a book-turned-documentary about the AIDS crisis, titled “How to Survive a Plague.” He’s undeniably a part of the queer community, but not always a part of the stories he chooses to tell.

Now, another filmmaker, Reina Gossett has spoken up to say that France has stolen from her years of work on Johnson. She alleges that France stole her language and research, got websites to remove her work, stole her contacts and hired away her research adviser. Gossett, who is black and trans, took to social media to air her grievances, which France has claimed are baseless.

“This kind of extraction/excavation of black life, disabled life, poor life, trans life, is so old and so deeply connected to the violence Marsha had to deal with throughout her life,” Gossett said on Instagram.

In the wake of the terrible 2015 movie about the Stonewall riots which completely erased Johnson and the other non-white, non-cis originators of that iconic event, it is tone-deaf to pretend to be blind to these identities. The pool of funding for a documentary on a trans woman of color is not bottomless, and Gossett’s production, titled “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” is stalled in the cradle after three years of work. Whether or not France has done what Gossett alleges, the controversy stands—which of these two artists should have the multi-million dollar Netflix deal?

The trans symbol painted on the palm of an unidentified individual.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Zeke Smith, a contestant on Survivor, was recently outed as a trans by another contestant. The intent behind this was malicious, as it was intended to paint him as dishonest and therefore get him kicked off the show. But it didn’t go that way, as the rest of the cast and the majority of the audience saw this as the disgusting act it was: an act of violence against a trans person.

Many trans people choose to keep their gender history a secret because it can be dangerous to come out. It has nothing to do with deception. Trans people face a high risk of being assaulted or even murdered due to their identity. All things considered, it’s pretty understandable that many choose to keep their transition hidden.

But there’s another reason that trans people choose not to come out; it’s because their current identity is the one they see as their authentic identity. A trans man is not a woman pretending to be a man, but a man. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.

This is in sharp contrast to coming out as gay, since many gay men and women view coming out as an opportunity to live their authentic lives. Being in the closet as a gay person means pretending to be something that you are not, but there isn’t a cultural stigma attached to coming out like there is to being trans. The narrative is one of celebrating the authentic life of a gay person, as opposed to feeling deceived by a trans person.

Outing a trans person is an act of violence in that it sets them up for brutality at that hands of other people and strips them of their own agency. Nobody has any right to the knowledge of another person’s gender history, and they sure as hell don’t have the right to announce that history to anyone else, least of all on national television.

People dressed up as superheroes at Comic Con, Los Angeles.

Comic Con, Los Angeles (2016).
Photo credit: Lauren Elisabeth / Shutterstock

We often think of nerds as the picked-on rejects that band together over common interests such as Dungeons & Dragons or Star Trek. The theme of outcasts coming together is a popular one in fiction, and one that you would think would lead to nerd culture being progressive and inclusive.

And while that may be true for some people and groups, nerd culture has some serious issues with inclusivity. From the toxic nature of so many online video games, to the continued over-sexualization of women’s bodies in art, to nerd culture’s blatant courting of fascism during GamerGate and in support of Donald Trump. Nerd culture has a long way to go before it can actually call itself inclusive.

No one knows this better than EmilÆMaxima. EmilÆMaxima is a transwoman who wrote an essay for The Establishment about her experiences as a nerd before and after her transition.

When she came out and announced that she was transitioning, she was met with a lot of questions about whether she would still play video games or like Star Wars, as if those interests were reserved exclusively for men. She notes that, even though there had been girls in their social circles throughout her life, her friends still seemed to think of women as outliers in nerd culture, as if they somehow didn’t belong.

But she also found that women’s experiences of nerd culture were very different than men’s, and often quite hidden. She quickly learned that there were chat rooms and events that men weren’t privy to, where women could be themselves and not have to worry about being harassed or assaulted. She learned, first-hand, that women have a hard time of it in nerd culture, especially online, where anonymity often emboldens men to act like complete monsters.

Finding acceptance for who we are can be difficult, but it’s essential that we do so. And if ever don’t feel accepted by a certain community, it’s time we change the dynamics of that culture.

A photo of a man dressed up as a woman.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

As Halloween approaches, I find it necessary to remind people that being trans is not a costume. It’s a real identity that people wear everyday and as such, it shouldn’t be made light of.

I remember last year when Caitlyn Jenner came out. I was completely awestruck by her courage. Here’s someone who for many years represented the epitome of masculinity. Before becoming Caitlyn Jenner, she was Bruce Jenner, the track star who won an Olympic gold medal.

Bruce Jenner was a well-respected athlete in the ’70s. Nobody made fun of him because on the outside, he was your average heteronormative male. But that all changed when he came out as being trans. All the sudden, he was the laughing stock of the country, with Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes popping up everywhere.

What people don’t realize is that Bruce was always Caitlyn on the inside, it’s just that he felt he couldn’t express that because of fear; fear of being bullied, fear of being sexually assaulted, fear of being killed.

All of these fears are 100% legitimate. In fact, according to RAINN, “21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males.”

To make matters worse, violence against trans people are on the rise. According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2015, 21 trans people were killed in the U.S. This is the highest number of trans murders ever recorded in American history.

Nothing about that is funny. That’s why it’s not okay to treat it like a joke by wearing a trans Halloween costume. If you want to dress up for Halloween, wear a ghost costume. Wear a Mickey Mouse costume. Wear an Iron Man costume. But whatever you do, don’t mock someone’s identity.

Making fun of someone and degrading their self-worth is what leads to suicide. The trans community has been through enough already. The last thing they need is another death that could have been prevented.

A photo of a crime scene. There is blood, broken glass, and a handgun on the floor.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Another name has been added to the list of victims of transgender violence. This time, it’s Hason Amin Alford, who went by the nickname “Jazz.” Alford was a 30-year-old trans woman living in Alabama. She was shot on Sept. 23 at the Kings Inn on Third Avenue in Birmingham.

Alford’s sister Toya Milan (who is also a trans woman) is still grieving over the recent tragedy. Milan told reporters that transgender people are often targeted because people view them as being “monsters.”

“People think transgenders are monsters, when really we just want to be accepted. [Alford] was such a loving person and we didn’t know anybody that would want to hurt her. It’s been a hard pill to swallow,” Milan stated.

As of now, police still don’t have a motive for Alford’s murder. However, they do have a suspect in custody in relation to yet another transgender homicide.

On Monday, October 3, a transgender woman from eastern Birmingham was shot in the face during a home invasion. Police have arrested 23-year-old Denzell Thomas in connection with the crime. Thomas has officially been charged with attempted murder and first-degree robbery.

Daurius Foster, the boyfriend of the second shooting victim, believes that the shooter used a gun that was stolen in the recent robbery of another trans woman. Police cannot confirm this theory at the moment. In fact, Birmingham homicide Sergeant John Tanks told reporters that police are currently investigating the cases separately.

Three victims. All transgender. All from one area. All of these crimes took place within a month’s time frame. The trans community is being targeted and every time we think we’ve made progress, stories like this resurface and we have to remind ourselves that we’re still under attack.

Stay vigilant my friends. Look out for one another. And most importantly, please contact the Birmingham Police Department if you have any information related to this case.

LGBT History in El Salvador

LGBT History in El Salvador

On March 9th, history was made in El Salvador, where the first time in the nation’s history, transgender people were allowed to vote in an election. Normally barred from voting, as their physical appearance doesn’t match their genders on their identification cards, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced that all people must be allowed to vote.

This comes as an historic advancement of LGBT progress from outgoing president Mauricio Funes. Many are worried that his successor, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, will be as practical and open-minded. The climate for LGBT rights in El Salvador is an extremely complex one, with complications arising from organized crime and corruption in government ranks.

For Rubi Navas, a transgender woman who was allowed to vote in the recent election, she had this to say:

“History tells us that when people possess rights, we don’t let them be taken from us easily. Even if the new government doesn’t maintain Funes’s initiatives, the sensitivity to LGBT rights that now exists in many public entities is irreversible. Now, some people understand that being gay isn’t a disease, it’s not satanic, it doesn’t mean you’ll get AIDS by shaking a gay person’s hand. Discrimination still exists—I’m not saying today that the battle has been won—but the seed has been planted and that is important.”


The US ranks low on the LGBT equality index.
Image: Shutterstock

An independent research group of the Dutch Ministry of Defense released a global ranking of countries based on their level of inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members in their armed forces today. Countries were judged on their level of inclusion, admission and tolerance of LGBT service members.

The top ranked countries on that list are New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The United States is ranked 40 out of 103 countries, behind countries like Chile, Georgia and Cuba.

Although the U.S. has already repealed its controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, it has a lesser known ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces that dragged the country down to the lower ranking.

In a document obtained by The Guardian, the Department of Defense (DOD) states that applicants can be rejected if there is a “current or history of psychosexual conditions, transsexualism, exhibitionism, trasvestism, voyeurism and other paraphilias.”

There have been several advancements in the past year for the United States. Last year the Supreme Court struck down portions of the controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which made it illegal for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

Since that change, same-sex married couples have become eligible to jointly file their income tax, receive spousal death benefits and a host of other benefits previously afforded only to heterosexual married couples.

There are currently five court cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in conservative states such as Missouri. Many of the challenges are expected to make their way to the Supreme Court.

Most recently, the Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will also amend its policies to treat same-sex married couples the same as heterosexual couples. The change allows gay couples to invoke “marital privilege” in court, file for bankruptcy together and have the same visitation rights in federal prison as their heterosexual counterparts.

The Hague Center will issue a full report based on the LGBT military index in May. The rankings are available here.