tumblr_ntlehjNAu41u3nkrio2_1280-600x552Today, the hashtag #transliberationtuesday on Twitter is calling for more awareness and the ending of violence against trans individuals, particularly against trans women of color and black trans women. I’ve written previously about the violence that happens to the trans community and how that violence disproportionately impacts trans women of color (especially black trans women). It’s so important to realize that many of the violent crimes that currently happen against the LGBTQ+ community are in fact against trans women of color.

Just in the past eight months of 2015, there have been 20 murders of trans people and most cable and news shows have been ignoring the spike in the murders. Not everyone has been ignoring this issue – Janet Mock has been discussing this issue and read the names of those who have died while serving as a substitute co-host for Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the issue is largely absent from many other news shows.

There are several actions across the U.S. today that are calling for trans liberation and the end of violence. And if you can’t make it to any of these actions – there are other things to do. Support organizations that help house and provide resources to trans women, support trans women directly, call out transmisogyny when you see it or hear it. These are of course just some of the things we can do to support trans women of color right now.

I am not a people person.

I’m honestly not much of a people person – haven’t been as long as I can remember really. It’s not that I hate people (as much as I often say I do) – it’s more that I do significantly better in occasional brief encounters with a few individuals and by myself than anything else. I’m an introvert and very shy – I stumble over my verbal words and get stressed out easily over constant stimulation through interacting with people.

I prefer reading and written communication – it’s often easier for me to think about what I want to say and the best way to say it through writing than talking. (Although I definitely appreciate body language and unspoken cues when having major discussions. Talking about television shows and how a date went? So love being able to text for that stuff!) I love reading and watching stuff on Netflix because I still get to interact with the world outside of just myself but it’s usually not too over stimulating.


So the past couple days has been really stressful because I’ve been constantly hanging out and doing things with plenty of people. And it’s not that I don’t love the people in my life – at the very least I have a deep appreciation for their existence. But it’s exhausting to constantly be on and to be social for me.

I’m very much looking forward to the next few days – really brief encounters with a small group of people and spending so much more time alone are both things I desperately need for some down time. Hopefully with this break I’ll also be able to write a little more as well!

Making Mistakes.

quote-if-youre-making-mistakes-it-means-youre-out-there-doing-somethingFor me, a big part of humanity is that we are flawed and we do make mistakes. But the great thing about mistakes is the ability to learn and grow from them. I do think that if you want to act as an ally and stand in solidarity with different groups, you have to be okay with making mistakes and owning up to them. Ashley Truong wrote about making mistakes as an ally and how if someone does call you out, listening, giving a genuine apology, and learning from your mistake are some of the most important things you can do.

But a big thing is to learn from your mistakes and not repeatedly use “I’m human and make mistakes” as an excuse. Because at least for me, if someone keeps fucking up and uses that excuse on and on again, there’s a very good chance I personally won’t want to be around them for too much longer. Acknowledge mistakes and grow from them.

And I also think it’s important to realize that people change, grow, and learn in the span of days, weeks, months, years. What someone might have believed a few years ago might not be what they believe now and ironclad holding people accountable to problematic stuff they said some time ago can be tricky. I think that if someone is called out and they genuinely apologize and learn from it, it’s important at the very least to acknowledge this.

That doesn’t mean I think marginalized people should coddle the people in power or hold their hands throughout all the discomfort we as people in power are going to face but instead that we can’t expect people to be perfect revolutionaries from the very beginning. Everyone grows in different ways and society is so dead set on keeping up the problematic status quo that what might be apparent to one person might not be so apparent to another.

I hope this adequately describes the points I’m trying to convey about making mistakes. This was actually one of the few times I felt like I didn’t quite have the right words to describe what I’m trying to talk about here but hopefully the message is still understood. And this is as much as a note to self as it is something to consider for everyone else.

Fat Shaming And Loving Your Body.

I’ve mentioned before my relationship with my own body and with fatness. Because I’m fat and I’ve pretty much always been fat, my self esteem and my self worth has frequently been hinged on the unwanted comments from others. I have avoided going to the doctor with legitimate concerns because I know there will be unnecessary comments about my weight. (Once went in about anxiety and depression – the nurse practitioner told me that I should lose weight?!)

th (12)Anyway, I’m not the only one to struggle with weight and others’ perception of my own body. And there are so many facts and pieces of information that actually tear down all the unnecessary comments and concerns that people might have about fat people.

Sarah Landrum, for example, wrote over at Adios Barbie about the 6 scary facts that prove the existence of size discrimination, including the fact that there is an unconscious bias against overweight patients from medical students and that there is an increased likelihood of conviction. Over at Mic, Julianne Ross wrote about the 9 facts that shatter the biggest stereotypes about people who are fat, including the fact that:

Fat shaming, though cruel, is another form of bullying that often goes unchecked because people believe that it will spur others to lose weight, and, as the logic typically goes, become healthier. This is misguided first and foremost because there’s nothing inherently wrong with being fat… And even if there were, fat shaming doesn’t help people lose weight.

Justin Dennis also brings up the fact that fat shaming doesn’t actually help people lose weight like many seem to think it might. In her video, she talks about that and unpacks what fat really means. (transcript)

Ultimately, it’s taken me a long time to get to be even kind of okay with my body. I still frequently struggle with my self esteem, still wonder about how others perceive me because of my fatness. But I’m at the point in my life where I realize that despite all the fat shaming, my life is worthy. I’m still human even if I don’t fall into what society deems beautiful. And that’s also true of so many other people who struggle with their weight as well. I think that Marie Southard Ospina said it best though in an article she wrote about coming to love her fat:

I don’t have a recipe to falling in love with your body. I don’t have an easy button you can press to feel fat and flabulous. I think it’s hard. It’s really freaking hard. We don’t live in a society that makes it easy. We don’t live at a time when fat is considered beautiful by the mainstream, so we have to fight to make people realize the beauty in it. And fighting is never easy, but it’s worth it.


StonewallfilmAt first, I was so excited to hear that a movie was being made about the Stonewall riots that happened in June of 1969. I mean, here’s an event that had a huge influence in the LGBTQ+ history within the US and started what we now celebrate as Pride. And many of those involved were trans women of color –  including Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.

But more information started to come out about the film, including the trailer and a short description from IMDB, which says that the movie is about:

A young man’s political awakening and coming of age during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots.

And now? I’m not so excited about the movie because it is yet again whitewashing and ciswashing history and centers a white cis gay man instead of any one of the actual major players who were trans people of color. I get that the film isn’t a documentary and hot damn Hollywood is great at making fiction out of history but to continue the erasure and rewriting of history? No thanks.

One of the great things about the release of the trailer has been the critiques of the erasure and white washing. Many have taken to social media and proclaimed that this movie is #NotMyStonewall and Miss Major herself has spoken about her anger over the inaccurate portrayal of the event.

Janet Mock also talked about the movie in her segment SoPOPular! on MSNBC and brought up so many amazing points, including the hope that the director, producers, and others involved in the movie will own up to their mistakes and address the issues they created by centering a white man in their film. Monica Roberts also wrote about the whitewashing of the events and called out the fact that Sylvia and Marsha are just minor characters:

Seriously?  The mother of the trans rights movement, who jumped off Stonewall and along with Marsha played a major role in fighting for the recognition of gender variant people as the nascent movement was forming in the wake of the Stonewall rebellion is a minor character?

That’s some bull feces.

Personally, instead of spending money on the upcoming Stonewall film, I’ll be donating to the film Happy Birthday Marsha!, a film centered on some of the actual major players of the Stonewall Riots like Rivera, Johnson, and Miss Major. Apparently I’m not the only one to do something like this – there have been many others that have similarly acted in backlash to the upcoming Stonewall film.

White Feminism™.

BRikTZqCIAE5KG2I’ve been meaning to write about white feminism for awhile now because I think it’s an important thing to talk about. The distinction of white feminism is to address the practice of centering the issues disproportionately felt by white, middle class women while also ignoring and excluding the intersectionality of issues like racism, classism, ableism, and others. Anne Theriault has written about white feminism before and in one piece, described what she meant by white feminism:

* by “white feminism” I mean a certain demographic of white women who are straight, cis and able-bodied and view their brand of “feminism” as being better and more “real” than that of anyone else’s.

NinjaCate also wrote about what she means by white feminism, saying among many things that:

As I always say, “If it doesn’t apply to you, then it’s not about you. If it’s not about you, then don’t take it personally.” Being a good ally means recognizing that sometimes your input is not needed or wanted, and that it’s incredibly inappropriate to demand that a marginalized group, (in this case, WoC within the feminist movement) restructure a conversation that is happening to serve their needs, in a way that is more “comfortable” for the very people they are mobilizing against.

NinjaCate also wrote about the greatest hits of white feminism in 2014 (part one) (part two), where she references different events that happened over the year, including the fact that Emma Watson thinks feminism should be nicer to men. Additionally, Anne Theriault wrote a couple pieces about white feminism, including a list of shit that white feminists need to stop doing and the white feminist savior complex.

As a white feminist (and trying to not be a White Feminist™), I think it’s incredibly important to have intersectionality at the center of feminism and activism. And I think it’s important for white people in general to be okay with being called out on any bullshit. We’re not going to be perfect but we sure as hell can listen, learn, and strive to be better.

Update – some other articles and videos include:

  • Does Feminism Really Help All Women – Or Just White Women? – Marina Watanabe
  • The Black Feminist’s Guide to the Racist Sh*t That Too Many White Feminists Say – Maisha Z. Johnson
  • The Beginning Black Feminist’s Guide to Feminism Without the Anti-Black Bullsh*t – Maisha Z. Johnson
  • Here are 4 Ways to Navigate Whiteness and Feminism – Without Being a White Feminist™ – Maddie McClouskey

#MikeBrown – one year later

It’s been one year since Micheal Brown Jr. was shot and murdered by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. The last year has been emotional and full of protests calling for justice. Protests have happened all over the nation for the past year, with more and more people unfortunately and tragically becoming hashtags after their death at the hands of police.

There has been an incredibly moving memorial happening in Ferguson and other places in memory of Micheal Brown Jr today.

To all those marching today, to all those who can’t but still honor Mike Brown Jr., to all those fighting for justice, and especially to the family and friends of Mike, thank you for your presence. Thank you for your fight. I’m so sorry for the violence, for all the pain and suffering. Sending so much love and prayers to everyone today.

Being Queer and Having Faith.

I’ve written before about struggling with faith and my own queerness -coming out while attending a particularly Catholic university made things difficult from time to time. And having attended a Catholic elementary and middle school didn’t particularly help either. I was constantly being told of the love that God had for people but also that who I am went against God and nature. My queerness was and continues to be an abomination in the eyes of the Catholic governing power of my university, whether they fully admit it or not. I, along with so many others, survived numerous microaggressions and lived through the constant feeling of being unwelcome by many peers and educators.


It took me a really long time to acknowledge the fact that it is totally possible to be religious, of faith, and queer all at the same time. Those identities, while they can be at conflict at times, are not mutually exclusive and they don’t have to exist in conflict. It took me even longer to realize that there are churches and faith communities that fully embraced, accepted, and celebrated the lgbtq+ community.

I’m not the only one who has struggled with faith and my queerness, not by a long shot. Noha Elmohands wrote about how being queer made her a better Muslim and Carolyn Wysinger wrote about 5 ways to reclaim Christianity after coming out as queer. Lamya H wrote about how she is not your tragic queer Muslim story and among many other things, writes:

… My queerness and my Muslim-ness do not need to be reconciled mostly because they cannot be disentangled from each other. I can’t remember ever not having been both.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t struggled with my queerness and with Islam, because I have and continue to do so. But when the imagined narratives are stripped away, my struggles are, if not universal, at least familiar: how to avoid disappointing my parents, how to resist assimilation, how to live a fulfilling life. I suspect these will never be resolved, but in the end, this is a story about trying.

In the end, this is a story about living.

Being queer and religious or belonging in a faith community is not a universal experience nor is it an impossible one. No two people will experience faith and religion the same way – some might reclaim their childhood faith, others might not, and even more might have different relationships with faith.

Faith and Activism.

553One of the reasons I haven’t been back to church or joined a faith community in the last year or so is because I have personally found the lack of activism in some faith communities to be extremely disappointing. For me, there’s no better call to action, no better reason to be protesting or changing the world than faith and religion. I want to go back to the revolutionary Jesus, the one who would have been on the streets supporting the call that #BlackLivesMatter. I want to see faith communities use their faith and foundations of community to stand with the most marginalized, as God so often calls for us to do.

I do want to preface this and say that I can only come from a mostly Catholic background – my experiences with religion fairly limited to Roman Catholic and an extremely small number of different christian denominations. My own experiences are extremely whitewashed because of my own whiteness and living in two primarily white communities. Amit Singh wrote about the whitewashing of climate change solutions and how Pope Francis’ call for action regarding climate change and other call to actions are not original and often very white.

I think faith and activism can very easily go hand in hand. At the very least, I think working in the streets, walking the talk to say, should be an integral part of faith communities. The seven themes of Catholic Social Teachings highlights the Catholic teachings towards building a just society, many of which call for dignity, solidarity, and care. The Catholic Social Teachings, for me, are an important call for Catholic communities to step out of the church and into the streets.

The AFL-CIO has a section on faith and labor, which has resources about why faith communities should support labor groups. Additionally, there’s the Interfaith Worker Justice, which is an interfaith organizing group rallying around economic justice and also has a resource center for faith support of labor. Some of these resources include:

  • Islam and Fairness in the Workplace
  • Labor and Jewish Traditions
  • What Faith Groups Say about Workers’ Freedom to Choose a Union
  • Raising the Minimum Wage
  • Worker Justice Matters

Faith groups are also rallying behind immigration reform within the US for various reasons. The Sanctuary Movement was a political and religious campaign that began in the early 1980s as a response to Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict and at its peak, there were over 500 congregation that declared themselves official sanctuaries.

There has also been a rise in a new Sanctuary Movement over the last several years. Places like Portland, OR, Boston, New York City, and many others have formed coalitions to provide sanctuary and support for immigrants, allies, and faith communities. Some resources and faith support for immigration reform and immigrants include:

  • Immigrants in Christian Texts
  • Immigrants in the Jewish Texts
  • Immigrants in the Muslim Texts
  • Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration and the Church
  • Top 10 Immigration Myths

There are also faith communities and interfaith groups that work towards providing food for those in need and ending hunger. Lift Urban Portland in Portland, OR is one of those interfaith groups, working to help fill in the gaps in the pantries of low income individuals and families in part of Portland. There’s also the Faiths Against Hunger group, which had evolved initially from Muslims Against Hunger Project. And some resources for why faith groups should support ending hunger include:

  • The Faith Behind Food Work
  • What Does the Bible say about Hunger?
  • Ruth

The Bechdel Test and Every Single Word.

There have been several projects and tests that have called out the lack of diversity and general problems that Hollywood has in regards to representing anyone other than a cishet white male. Hollywood has an undeniable diversity and representation problem and the problem seems to at the very least start at the top. I think it’s unbelievably important for us to be critical of the mainstream media that so many consume on a regular basis, especially along the lines of a lack of representation towards race/ethnicity and gender.

Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin)The Bechdel Test, for example, first started in 1985 and named after the cartoonist Alison Bechdel whose comic the rules first appeared. The Geek Feminism Wiki highlighted the rules for the test (taken more or less straight from the comic itself), saying that the requirements were:

  1. the movie [media] has at least two women characters;
  2. who talk to each other;
  3. about something other than a man.

And the test is more important than you might realize. Charlie Jane Anders wrote about the importance of the test over at io9, saying among many things that while the test is not fool proof, it does force many to think why so many films would fail such a low bar in regards to representing women.

Additionally, Dylan Marron, a New York based actor, has recently been working on a project titled Every Single Word, which has been a compilation of movies edited down to just the words spoken by people of color. He’s covered many mainstream videos like Birdman, Juno, the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which fit into one 46 second video), Into the Woods (which was silent…), and many many more.

The videos highlight how few words are actually said by people of color in big/mainstream movies and the race problem in Hollywood. And the project highlights the dynamics behind a study done by UCLA a few years ago, which found that minorities and women are underrepresented (compared to actual demographics in the US) both in front of and behind the camera.

It’s both interesting and extremely disappointing that so many mainstream movies and television shows fail to have any sort of representation. The new reboot of Doctor Who started off strong in regards to passing the Bechdel test for the first couple seasons but once Stephen Moffat took over as showrunner, the show began to do significantly worse.

Whovian Feminism wrote about the problem between the first few seasons and the last few as far as the Bechdel Test and also addresses the fact that this test is not a measure of feminism but a measure of female presence within a medium and not talking about a man. And fan artists of the Harry Potter series have also helped many to reimagine the characters other than the default white that took over the movies.

Race and gender are not the only identities that Hollywood fails to address – there are so many other problematic issues that Hollywood and mainstream media needs to address. I am happy to see things like the Bechdel Test and Every Single Word addressing the problems, particularly in such blatant ways.