“Twenties” is your new favorite TV show

I’ve previously written about what seeing queer characters on television means to me. For more, check out this tumblr post on why representation in media matters. I should have noted in my previous post that being white means it is easier to find TV shows and movies that feature women who look like me and share my experiences. Women of color, particularly queer women of color, are even more underrepresented in media.

Enter Twenties, a new TV show about three, twenty-something black women who are navigating the confusion and unpredictability that is life in your twenties. When pitching the concept to television networks, the show’s creator, Lena Waithe (producer of Dear White People), says network executives either thought her show didn’t have an audience or already existed (maybe because Girls exists? Just say no to Girls and that silly assertion). Waithe decided to make a pilot presentation, which Queen Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit, produced. She wants to show networks that her unique series does have an audience. The result is four humorous and at times touching YouTube videos, a call for you to watch them and then share the videos with twenty friends.

I am already pro-Twenties. One of the characters is a queer woman. The pilot features menstrual product humor. Plus what queer person can’t relate to falling for an emotionally unavailable straight woman? Watch it already, and don’t forget to share with friends.

Mallory’s borderline compulsive consumption of queer media is most definitely not the product of a Southern Baptist upbringing.

On Bomb Girls, L Word and Helping Those Midwestern Youth

Betty McRae, giving us a tell tale smirk

Betty McRae of Bomb Girls, giving us a tell tale smirk

Watching the now canceled Bomb Girls reminded me of watching The L Word, a show which is usually hailed as the best television has to offer in terms of queer women characters. Towards the end, The L Word writers got self-righteous about how much the show was improving the life of that mythical Midwestern girl merely by putting lesbian and bisexual women on television. Arguably, I am that Midwestern girl. Though I benefited from being white and middle class, I grew up without a trace of queer acceptance. I didn’t get it from my family, friends, school, or even television. In fact what I got was an explicit rejection of queer-ness.

Yet, I can’t relate to Bette Porter in L.A., who has a gaggle of lesbian and bisexual friends and love interests. I can relate to Betty McRae from Bomb Girls, feeling all alone, hiding who she is, preciously holding onto the romantic love she experiences because who knows when she’ll experience it again. I don’t know what it says about being queer in Oklahoma that I identify with a closeted woman in the 1940s more than I do modern lesbians living in L.A. in the 00s (REAL TALK: perhaps it says more about Ilene Chaiken’s writing abilities than anything).

Regardless, Bomb Girls is a Canadian drama about a group of women working in a WWII munitions factory. I can’t testify as to its historical accuracy, but I can say Bomb Girls managed to avoid many of the pitfalls of writing queer characters and courting a queer audience. Betty is explicitly queer and a central character on the show. She has story lines beyond her queer identity, and, at the same time, story lines that do deal with her sexuality are fully developed and honest.

The ratio of ladies to dudes on this show is like 4 to 1. It is glorious.

Lots of white women, but the ratio of ladies to dudes on this show is like 4 to 1.

The friendship between Betty and Kate is one example of why this show is tops. Betty loves Kate, but by all appearances, Kate does not reciprocate those feelings. While it’s usual for shows to relegate the queer character to asexual, long suffering friend status; therefore, implying that queer folks should be satisfied by straight folks just tolerating them, Bomb Girls writes Betty another love interest! who reciprocates her feelings! and their relationship gets plenty of screen time!

Additionally, I’d argue that Betty and Kate’s relationship is more complicated than a narrative of unrequited love would imply. They share a special bond. Betty is privy to Kate’s deepest secrets in a way that no other characters are. Kate doesn’t live in a world that values homosexual love as much as it values heterosexual love (and if you weren’t aware, we still don’t live in that world). This revelation doesn’t strip Kate of her agency. She is free to reject Betty, but it can’t be ignored that she lives in a society where choosing Betty is the perverse choice, the dangerous choice, the wrong choice. Might Kate have reciprocated Betty’s feelings if their relationship hadn’t played out in a heteronormative world? Bomb Girls allows for this interpretation, and I appreciate that.

screencap via Autostraddle

Betty and Kate share a meaningful stare, screencap via Autostraddle

The L Word’s idea of helping Midwestern youth feels like a seven-season-long “It Gets Better” project. Don’t get me wrong; the show was ground-breaking. Folks living in oppressive environments need to know that another way to experience the world is possible. But Bomb Girls reminds us that even in oppressive environments, queer folks can survive and even thrive.

As Betty must do, living in Oklahoma means I’ve got to be calculated in when and to whom I share aspects of my personal life though not to the same extent. It means never knowing when microaggressions will turn into physical aggression. It means toughening up, and it means insulating integral parts of yourself from the world. People here don’t or can’t always acknowledge the pain of living in a society that overwhelmingly rejects a fundamental aspect of their existence.

Regardless of this reality, the love (and anger) queer Oklahomans radiate is real and precious. I feel lucky I get to experience it. And when I watched Bomb Girls, I saw the pain and hope and joy and love of being queer in a heteronormative world reflected back at me on national (Canadian) television. That is an experience I won’t soon forget.

Mallory ships McAndrews all the way. You’re gonna help #SaveBombGirls now, right? Check out SaveBombGirls.com for more info.

Banner by SaveBombGirls.com

Banner by SaveBombGirls.com

Trans* History is Women’s History

March! It’s March! March is, without question, my favorite month out of the year, and I revel in each and every glorious moment.

For starters, March is my birthday month, which, in case you didn’t know, basically means I get my way for an entire thirty-one days. Second, I’m a little bit (a lotta bit) woo, and really appreciate the push of Mars into Aries. Third, I get to start planting my garden! Playing in the dirt is pretty much all I want to do all the time anyway, so this makes me giddy beyond belief. Fourth, MARCH MADNESSSSS! Even though my Lobos got knocked out in the first round, I’m still a basketball fanatic and this is my time to binge. Fifth, Pesach! I’m not really a big holiday celebrator, but Passover is one jam this Jew can get down with: ceremonial eating, drinking four glasses of wine as a mitzvah, and stories about liberation!

Hell yeah.

And, to go along with that orange on the seder plate, March is also Women’s History Month! That’s right, an entire month (with the maximum 31 days!) dedicated to celebrating contributions made by women throughout history.

Now, I’m going to be honest with you: I didn’t know that Women’s History Month was a thing until fairly recently. I think that the first time I ever encountered any sort of actual programming was when I went to an Albuquerque screening of the ACLU Freedom Files on women’s rights about five years ago. Since then, I’ve made it a point to seek out different events that commemorate the struggles and accomplishments endured by women every March, and this year hasn’t been any different.

That being said, in my search for WHM-affiliated events/exhibits/readings/anything, I’ve noticed the gross trend of cis-centrism (from cisgender, or, someone who does not identify as transgender) in all of the events. I guess this isn’t really surprising, given the transphobic nature of US culture-at-large, but that doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing. In light of the shitty news of Smith College rejecting a trans* woman’s application for admission, and the fact that I still have to tell people that yes, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival IS, indeed, transphobic, I think that it’s safe to say that we still have a long way to go when it comes to not only celebrating the contributions that trans* women make in the larger conversation of women’s history, but even in acknowledging that they exist.

SO! That’s what this post is about: Celebrating contemporary trans* women’s place within contemporary women’s history. This is not a complete list—not even close. Rather, it is a short list of some of the trans* women whom I really admire, whose work makes me want to do my part to work harder, respond smarter, and generally be better for the people in my community.

Janet Mock, image via GLAAD

Janet Mock, image via GLAAD

First on my list of badass trans* women doin’ it for themselves is Janet Mock. Janet is a writer for People.com, co-host of The Missing Piece podcast, and tireless advocate for trans* rights. She is the woman behind the Twitter hashtag #GirlsLikeUs, a visibility campaign bringing trans* women’s stories to a larger audience. She gave a truly moving speech at USC’s Lavender Graduation last year, reminding us that our silence will not protect us. She also recently received the Sylvia Rivera Activist Award, which really just proves what we already know: Janet Mock is a big fucking deal.

Second on my list of trans* women we should all know about are the folks at Project LifeSkills. LifeSkills is a study based out of Boston and Chicago, focusing on empowering young trans* women, by helping them learn more about HIV alongside building life skills that will ultimately help reduce HIV transmission rates. This is an especially important intervention, given the fact that trans* women, especially trans* women of color, are among the most vulnerable populations for HIV infection. LifeSkills is especially awesome because it is run by and for trans* women, emphasizing community driven processes and community building in general. I have the great fortune of calling Emilia Dunham a friend, and have met very few people with the dedication, drive, and desire to make things better that this woman holds. She and her team are truly creating women’s history every single day.

First nations community health sourceThe third amazing trans* woman that I want to recognize is another person that I have the privilege of calling friend. Some people know her as Panda, but I know her as Mattee Jim, HIV Prevention and Support Services Coordinator at First Nations Community Healthsource, here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mattee is a woman whose presence in my home community is indispensable. She freely shares her story of being a transgender Navajo woman struggling with discrimination both on the rez and beyond. She sits on the board of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, is the community co-chair of the Transgender Taskforce for the New Mexico Community Planning and Action Group, and sits on the national advisory board of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. It’s hard to sum up the importance of Mattee’s work in this tiny paragraph, but her efforts to help stop the spread of HIV within Native communities and trans* communities is something that cannot be overstated. She is, hands down, one of my heroes.

Honestly, I could go on listing badass trans* women all fucking day long (Ryka Aoki, Kate Bornstein, Victoria Ortega, Imogen Binnie, Red Durkin…), but I won’t. What I will do is ask that we really continue thinking about whose history we’re talking about when we talk about women’s history, and intentionally foreground the voices of women most marginalized in the movement.

I mean, isn’t that what this month is all about?

Ricky is pretty sure that trans* women should be running the world, and tweets about it a lot under the name @prettyrickyroo.

feeling my feelings, or: love is complicated, y’all.

Let me preface this post by saying that I hate conferences.

Hate.

I hate them so much that I actively do everything in my power to avoid having to go to them. I hate the overload of panels and papers and posters and posturing. I hate the assumption of community based on a very narrow/very broad scope of shared interests. I hate feeling forced to booze and schmooze, and I hate feeling like I have to be witty and charming and ON. I hate that my social anxiety is ramped up to eleven every time I present, no matter how many times I present, and I really hate the fact that I always chew my nails down to bloody the week prior.

My aversion to all things conference-y means that I am as surprised as anyone that I came away completely head over heels in love with Take Root. Yes! Love! This, my honey kittens, is more than just a crush. This is heart swelling, junk tingling, what-do-you-think-they’re-doing-right-this-second?, proposals written in the sky type love. So many smart people, saying so many smart things, making me think, making me laugh, and looking hella fucking good behind a glass of bourbon (you know who you are).

And that’s not because I think that Take Root is some sort of fuck yeah feminism gender fuck social justice-y utopia. I don’t. It wasn’t. I can think of a number of things that don’t sit well with me surrounding the politics of Take Root. Right from the get go I had an issue because there were no gender neutral or single stall restrooms. Sounds trivial enough, but when  I had to pee right when I got to the OCCE Forum building on Friday, it felt like the world might actually end. Because y’all, I drink a fuckton of liquids and when I have to go, I have to go. But during both days of Take Root, I couldn’t find a restroom that felt passable. And yes, I will own the fact that a lot of that comes from my own internalized transphobia. I’m still struggling to find the words to describe me (transmasculine genderqueer butch dandy, if you’re keeping track), let alone be able to figure out the appropriate gender marker that allows me to move with some semblance of safety within public places. Which is just a longwinded way of saying, “Y’all, I held it for a long time while at Take Root.”

And that’s fine. But no, not really. It’s not.

I bring up gendered restrooms as an issue for a number of reasons (we should be dismantling oppression, we should be smashing the binary, we should be standing in solidarity, etc.), but mostly because I was asked to come to Take Root to talk about queer health disparitiesThe very thing that I came to talk about was happening! RIGHT THERE! That very moment!

Oh, no teachable moment or sense of irony lost.

Despite my oppressively full bladder, I still felt so much love and kinship while at Take Root. These were my people! And my people were making connections and pulling together ideas and creating bridges and and and! It was all more than fifteen year old me could have imagined happening in my hometown. I was feeling the gooey sticky lovey dovey on Saturday morning, tweeting  (#takeroot13) about great conversations related to trans* inclusion at Take Root. I was immediately called out by someone who wasn’t at the conference, but who had been following the hashtag (!). She noted that the trans* inclusion I was so happy about was unarguably missing trans* women.

Shit. She was right.

I’d been gooey about how great things at Take Root were—for me

There it is, the not-so-subtle smack of privilege. I would be participating in some fucked up apologist narrative if I didn’t acknowledge the resounding thud made in the absence of transwomen and other folks on the transfeminine spectrum at Take Root. Not to say I am performing gender checks (though I did learn about GEBO from this spark of a femme), but come on! If someone who wasn’t even in the room can see it, for fuck’s sake, why can’t we?

We can’t pretend that the voices of transwomen weren’t achingly absent from the conversation that weekend. We can’t pretend that we’re having serious, meaningful dialogue about reproductive justice if transwomen, especially transwomen of color, aren’t present. And that’s not just Take Root’s problem. The silencing of transwomen’s voices is a problem that we all need to address.

We all need to be accountable to the fact that CeCe McDonald and Brandy Martell‘s stories are the stories of reproductive justice. We need to be accountable to making certain that they are heard.

And that’s what I’ve been thinking about ever since I made my way back to Albuquerque: the ways we’re all implicated in oppression dynamics at every turn, the code switching of power, the variety of privilege with which I am familiar. So I guess now is the time to acknowledge it and start the work we brought home with us. Time to be thinking/feeling/doing non-stop. I want to be not only a better activist/academic, but also a better friend, colleague, collaborator, lover, partner in crime, everything. Just…better. 

That is why I am so fucking smitten with Take Root in this moment: it’s challenging me and holding me accountable to that kind of better. It’s not perfect. It’s not claiming to be.

But good goddamn, it sure is trying.

Ricky will call you on your shit, if you call them on theirs. You can call them out on Twitter (@prettyrickyroo), or you can just call them.

An Open Letter to Representative James Lankford from a Queer Constituent

Dear Representative Lankford,

Wow. I am one of your constituents in the 5th District. I’m a twenty-something law student with a bordering on unhealthy Grey’s Anatomy obsession and a passion for helping my community. I’m also queer. Representative, I want to believe that if I’m brutally honest about my life–if I can just find the perfect words to help you understand–there’s no way you’d advocate to end programs aimed at better meeting the needs of queer folks.

When Oklahoma House Representative Sally Kern asked if you knew about A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Individuals, you said “Wow.” What about Kern’s question surprised you? Is it that queer folks exist? Is it that we sometimes need substance abuse treatment? Is it that the federal government is helping counselors better fill that need?

When the Gayly pressed you on your comments, you said you are advocating to rid government materials of “obvious bias”–that you want the government to “provide balance.” I assume the bias you refer to is the position that queerness and trans-ness are normal, enduring aspects of human variety. This is the position of the American Psychological Association and all other major national mental health organizations. I am all too familiar with the opposing position–that being queer or being trans are perversions, sins, a “choice.” I am also all too familiar with the devastating effects of that position.

Though I can’t imagine what hardships transgender or less privileged LGB Oklahomans face because of attitudes like yours, growing up, no adult told me homosexuality was okay. My parents steeped me in evangelical Christian teachings. Family members, teachers, and other authority figures lumped lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into an amorphous category of deeply unhappy perverts, pedophiles, and sinners. The implicit and explicit messages I got concerning queer folks contributed to the self-hatred and internalized homophobia I still experience today.

Becoming conscious of my sexual orientation felt like finally being able to translate the world into a language I could comprehend. That all-consuming, fulfilling type of romantic love people described suddenly felt real to me in a way it hadn’t before. As it is for many people–gay, straight, or bisexual–my sexual orientation is the result of a complex interaction of nature and nurture. Being queer isn’t something I can just decide not to do, nor is it something I want to change.

Your intolerance of the LGBTQ community will not result in less queer people; it’s going to increase the mental and physical suffering of queer people. Navigating the world as members of stigmatized groups means we suffer unique harms. As Jen pointed out, we suffer from mental illness, domestic abuse, substance abuse, and addiction at disproportionately higher rates than cishetero people. We need programs designed to and counselors trained to address the harms we face as a result of our sexual orientations, gender identities, race, and other characteristics. If you succeed in undermining the mental health and substance abuse program Kern mentioned, you’ll do direct harm to Oklahoma’s queer community, and–as I hope I’ve made clear to you–that community includes some of your constituents.

Folks like you and Sally Kern are right about one thing: the “homosexual agenda” is big and will change the world. Of course, I can only speak for myself. I do want you and State Representative Kern to retain the freedom to say things like “gays are a bigger threat to this country than terrorists,” but I also want those very notions–that homosexuality is perverse, that transgender people are in need of correction–to become as ridiculous as the belief that the world is flat. My homosexual agenda will result in more openly queer folks–not because it will encourage more people to “turn gay,” but because it will allow all people the space and resources to make personal decisions about their lives. Ultimately, I want to live in an Oklahoma where a multiplicity of identities, experiences, and religions are accepted and celebrated.

Sincerely,
Mallory Carlberg

Mallory, like Jen, watches Doctor Who. Her fantasy involves the 11th Doctor telling the Atraxi/James Lankford to leave the Earth/queer people alone via asking “is this (queer) world a threat to you?”

Clip or it didn’t happen:

Rep. Opie Lankford Apparently Completely Surprised by Queer Existence

I have it on good authority that U.S. Representative James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma’s 5th District, was called Opie by absolutely everyone while he was director over at Falls Creek Church Camp. I will now always refer to him as such.

I mean just look at him

Thanks Wikipedia!

Representative Opie Lankford held a town hall meeting where another elected bigot, OK State Representative Sally Kern, engaged Lankford in conversation about why A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Individuals was going to Ruin Absolutely Everything.

Specifically, Sally said it was 98% about pushing a homosexual agenda, and Opie said, “they like to function in the dark” and said the “power of humiliation” would be helpful to curb that problem. You can watch a video of it if you really want to, but Think Progress has a transcript if you can’t stomach the yammering.

Matt's graphic representation of Sally Kern's statistical analysis

Matt’s graphic representation of Sally Kern’s statistical analysis

Opie Lankford compared queer people and health providers trying to offer adequate treatment to cockroaches, or a fellbeast, or like something emerging from hell only kept in check by his saintly presence in the US Congress.

I know we like to laugh about this stuff because it’s so ridiculous. Oklahoma has more than its fair share of these UGH moments. But we shouldn’t forget that Lankford and Kern both have institutional power to make our lives harder; if this little echo chamber giggle fest motivates either of them to sign off on legislation that prevents providers from receiving government funds and using LGBTQ specific training or resources, we will be wounded directly.

The words hurt, sure. It’s gross to know my elected officials are legitimately shocked I dare to continue to exist in the 405, and that they’re talking trash about people like me in public spaces in front of my neighbors. But it hurts queer folks again when we seek help for mental illness, domestic abusesubstance abuse and addiction – all things we suffer from at disproportionately higher levels than cishetero people – and we get turned down or inadequate care because the bigots in charge have the power to move dollars and sense away from genuine help.

This is a problem in red states that can’t be ignored. You might not live in a state where someone can compare queer people to cockroaches at a public town hall meeting and get away with it, but we all live in states affected by the legislative trends shaped by bigotry.

Maybe drop Opie Lankford a line and tell him he’s not Gandalf or Jesus and certainly doesn’t represent your wish that all Oklahomans could receive competent and sensitive medical care.

[Nerd Alert] Jen wishes the Doctor (in David Tennant form) would help them throw Sally Kern and Opie Lankford into the void with the Cybermen and the Daleks so we could all move on with our own personal timelines.

Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico: gettin' shit done

Semi-recently, I went through a Major Life Change (read: breakup), and found myself with a lot of excess time and excess feelings on my hands. In order to distract myself from the pangs of heartache, I started to spend a lot more of my time at the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (TGRCNM).

Can I just tell you how fucking awesome this place is? With an operating budget of basically zero and a staff of three, this place is radically changing the face of trans* services in the state of New Mexico, the Southwest, and hell, I’ll even say the whole damn United States. Grassroots organizing and community accountability are at the core of TGRCNM’s values, and I think that there is a lot that we can all learn from the work being done by these amazingly dedicated folks.

Example 1: In September, TGRCNM hosted its first ever Pabst and Paps, a pap clinic for transmasculine people. There was food, football, fraternizing, and oh yeah, pap smears. What a great idea, right? Cancer screening rates for trans* folk are pretty fucking abysmal, y’all. Fear of stigma, mistreatment, and general shitty attitudes are enough to keep a lot of us out of the doctor’s office, but even if we DO get in, how are we supposed to pay for it? In general, trans* folks report having postponed health related care due to discrimination (28%) or an inability to pay for services (48%). The folks at TGRCNM responded to this need, enlisted some pretty amazing physicians to donate their time, and created a space where trans* folks could come and get a pap without having to explain to the clinician, YES, I’M A DUDE AND I HAVE A CERVIX SORRY I’M NOT SORRY. And they had cake. So, everyone wins.

Example 2: Also in September, TGRCNM hosted a general wellness event for the trans* community at large. This event brought more than fifty people through the doors of the Center, which is a pretty fantastic turnout. STI screenings abound, tests related to various trans* gender-confirming processes were administered, educational information was provided, and friends were made. There is no one service provided by TGRCNM that is deemed more important than the other, and that’s something I really appreciate about the work being done here. It’s all relevant, and all vital to the growth and well-being of our community. And there were hot dogs.

Example 3: TGRCNM has a speakers bureau consisting of over seventy trans* people and allies, and participates in different trainings and speaking engagements across the state. I am a part of this bureau, and in the past couple of months have had the opportunity to speak about issues related to aging in the trans* community, the mental health care needs of trans* populations, navigating the academy as trans* person, and general trans* 101. These conversations sometimes consist of panels tailored to the needs and wants of the sponsoring organization, but often times they are left to the whim of TGRCNM. Regardless, no matter how many times I go out into the community with this bureau, I ALWAYS leave feeling energized and excited about people’s willingness to learn and grow. Which says a lot, considering how much of a pessimist I am.

My time at TGRCNM has been short, but incredibly transformative (PUN!). I’ve really been impressed with the ways they approach community organizing and the provision of services for trans* folk and our allies. It’s really easy for me to get caught in the funding trap and think that because we aren’t working on the same scale as say, a Callen-Lorde or Fenway, we can’t really do much to combat the disparities that we are facing.

TGRCNM is proving me wrong every single day.

Ricky is a big believer in organizations that are gettin” shit done.

On feminist idols and the complicated life of Gloria Steinem

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of joining a sold out crowd at the University of New Mexico to celebrate forty (!) years of the campus’s Women’s Resource Center. You heard me: SOLD OUT. This is no small feat in New Mexico, considering we’re a state known for our lackadaisical ways with, well, everything. So the fact that an event held for the Women’s Resource Center was able to draw such a crowd was…honestly, shocking.

I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised, though, considering the keynote of the evening was the illustrious Gloria Steinem. The Ms. Founding editor spent her day in workshops and meet and greets with students, faculty, staff, and various community members, and there was a whole lot of hype surrounding her visit.

Personally, when I think of Glo Steez (my affectionate nickname for Ms. Second Wave Herself), I always think of the episode of The L Word (season 2, episode 13) where Bette and Kit’s father passes away, and she shows up at the funeral because apparently Melvin was some champion for women’s rights, even though he was totally dismissive of his lesbian daughter’s relationship and experience. It’s also the episode where Heart plays a tribute for the Ms. Foundation for Women alongside Betty, which is a billing that I really don’t think would ever happen outside of Ilene Chaiken’s bizarro fantasy playground.

Regardless! My point here is that I’ve never really been sold on the idea of Saint Gloria. While this evening was a really nice experience, it was also a reminder of how willingly we brush aside the problematic political pieces of someone who has done our movement a whole lot of good. We tend to forget that they lead complicated lives, and put plgtf.org them up on the pedestal of movement leaders who can do no wrong.

Well, Gloria has done wrong. A lot of wrong, really. Over the course of her career, she has been accused of pitting race against gender, and has made some pretty gross things about transwomen. And while I don’t believe in cannibalizing our own, I DO believe in being held accountable for our words and actions. To her credit, Gloria has commented on the ways she has elided race in conversations about gender, and the danger of playing the oppression olympics. But she hasn’t done a whole lot of clarifying and owning up to her transmisogyny.

During the question and answer period of the evening, Matie Fricker from Self-Serve Sexuality and Resource Center, dared to ask Glo Steez about this very issue. It was framed so beautifully, and didn’t come across as a personal attack. Matie merely asked how we work toward building a Feminist movement that has space for transwomen. Of course, this is such a loaded question in a room full of the old guard, regardless of how beautifully it may be framed. There was an awkwardly tense moment in the space between Matie’s question and Glo Steez’s answer, but, to everyone’s credit, the issue was actually addressed.

Steinam’s response to Matie was simple: “If you live as a woman, you are a woman.”

And no, that’s not a perfect answer. It doesn’t address the number of trans* people who can’t actually live their lives as women for whatever financial, social, or personal reasons. But it DOES acknowledge the fact that transwomen ARE women. And this response opened up a space within which people in that room could begin to think of a Feminism that advocates for all women; not just the ones who look, act, and live in certain ways.

I could sit and dissect the entire evening, picking apart each moment where Gloria fucked up and said something questionable. Trust me—I’d be all over that. But I’m not gonna. I want to focus on the fact that people can change. People can learn and grow and admit they were wrong and become better for it. And while I am not one hundred percent on the Gloria Steinem bandwagon, I am one hundred percent behind finding our common ground.

Ricky is currently unable to find anything witty to say about themselves. So, there”s that.

Podcast Review: Gendercast’s “Pinkwashing” Episode

 

Gendercast co-host Sean recording an interview for the podcast. From the Gendercast Facebook page.

If you interact with me regularly, you know I listen to podcasts. Lots of podcasts. Six or seven hours a day, five days a week (I have a tedious, solitary job. With health insurance). Recently, a friend recommended Gendercast: Our Transmasculine Genderqueery, which went something like: “Hey, I found this podcast you might like? It’s called Gende-” “SOLD DONE DOWNLOADED.” Gendercast is hosted by Sean and Jesse and deals with their personal experiences as people on the transmasculine spectrum and tackles subjects ranging from clinical information about hormones and surgery to Feminism 101 to interviews with filmmakers. Episode 31: Pinkwashing was released last week and proved to be one of the most interesting, informative, and inspiring pieces of media I’ve consumed recently on any platform.

When I first saw the title of the episode, I thought it might have been a reference to breast cancer awareness, or maybe just how colors are gendered. I could not have been more wrong. Here’s a definition from Pinkwatching Israel:

Israeli pinkwashing is a potent method through which the terms of Israeli occupation of Palestine are reiterated – Israel is civilised, Palestinians are barbaric, homophobic, uncivilised, suicide-bombing fanatics. It produces Israel as the only gay-friendly country in an otherwise hostile region. This has manifold effects: it denies Israeli homophobic oppression of its own gays and lesbians, of which there is plenty, and it recruits, often unwittingly, gays and lesbians of other countries into a collusion with Israeli violence towards Palestine.

 

Here’s a synopsis of what your experience with this podcast will be: Selma, the Seattle-area queer Palestinian activist Sean and Jesse interview in this episode, introduces herself and gives a brief history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then begins to explain the phenomenon of Israeli pinkwashing. Suddenly, learning is happening at a rapid rate in your brain. You are like: SELMA. I did not know about this pinkwashing thing (Unless you did, in which case good on you, seriously). You also get to learn about the Boycott-Divest-Sanction strategy, which is a global nonviolent strategy to weaken Israeli apartheid by pulling institutional funding, similar to the divestment strategy employed against South African apartheid in the 1980’s.

Pinkwatching Israel and Queer BDS are amazing organizations made up of incredible individuals that I think can motivate all of us to be creative in our resistance and to stand up for ourselves and our communities wherever we are. But don’t take my word for it – check out this rad interview and enjoy all the magical learning/badass empowerment/righteous anger feelings your little heart could desire. And subscribe to Gendercast so that I know I’m not the only one listening to Jesse’s most recent installment of TrantasyLand.

Pearl is so. ready. for the election to be over.