Existing While Trans [part 1]

Being publicly and openly trans and/or gender nonconforming is a tough thing to do, even in this day and age. I wish it weren’t, as being trans/gender nonconforming is just one part of a person and is an incredibly valid part of someone’s identity and experience. Even in feminist spaces like the recent Women’s Marches, it can be tough for trans and gender nonconforming folks.

So what do I mean with I say it’s hard for trans and gender nonconforming folks? It’s true that we’ve come a long way over the years and decades and it definitely feels like there are more trans people in the public eye. Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Caitlyn Jenner, and Gavin Grimm are just some of the people that have (for better or for worse) brought trans issues to the forefront of many conversations. And over the years, there have been many legislative and legal wins for trans folks around the United States.

But sadly, even with all the wins and with more folks understanding what the term/label ‘transgender’ even means, many trans and gender nonconforming folks still face many issues and obstacles for simply being their authentic selves.

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Queer and LGBTQ+ Songs

In the summer of 2012, the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis song ‘Same Love’ got me through some pretty bad homesickness. I had just come out of the closet a few months before and was doing an internship thousands of miles from my friends and family. It was really Mary Lambert’s chorus that kept me coming back to the song and when she eventually turned that chorus into its own song, I listened to it on repeat for ages.

For many, Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’ might be the easiest song to think of when someone says to think of a queer/LGBTQ anthem. There are some who have issues with the fact that a straight man has one of the most popular LGBTQ anthems, as there are so many amazing songs from LGBTQ+ folks about so many things, including being a part of the community. Here are some of my favorites:

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Making Gay History [podcast review]

Podcasts, as a medium, offer a very intimate and personal way of experiencing a production. This medium is one that you can listen to at any time and often times, you can hear people in their own voice and words. There are podcasts that are bringing back the audio drama genre; there are others that are bringing news and politically commentary to people’s commutes. And there are others that are bringing all sorts of LGBTQ/queer experiences to those who wish to listen. One such podcast is Making Gay History.

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Jennicet Gutiérrez – the undocumented trans women who challenged the President.

abp1zielkgprjsbjo3rbztbmhvjenzk4o4c0hnncca1zqowj8kpnozf1tp7zsbjvYesterday, President Obama was interrupted during his speech for a White House event for LGBTQ+ Pride Month by a trans undocumented woman named Jennicet Gutiérrez. Gutiérrez interrupted the president’s speech to challenge the increase in deportations under President’s term and was unfortunately escorted out by Secret Service. She later made a statement saying:

“I am outraged at the lack of leadership that Obama demonstrated… He had no concern for the way that LGBTQ detainees are suffering. As a transwoman, the misgendering and the physical and sexual abuse — these are serious crimes that we face in detention centers. How can that be ignored?”

Gutiérrez later spoke with Democracy Now about the event and why she challenged the president about deportations and the abuse faced by LGBTQ+ detainees in deportation centers. And the crowd at the event was the unfortunate definition of the mainstream gay movement and of Gay, Inc, who responded by booing and jeering Gutiérrez as she was escorted out by Secret Service.

I just want to say a big old fuck you to all that booed and jeered Gutiérrez as she left and to the fact that she was escorted out in the first place! Deportations and detention centers SHOULD be a priority within the LGBTQ+ movement – remembering intersectionality and fighting for all our brothers, sisters, and siblings in the struggle is vital. We should be centering the voices of trans women of color and other marginalized voices because the LGBTQ+ community is far from the homogeneous thing currently represented by white cis gay men. Instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money and time on fights like marriage equality (which is usually far from equal), we should be focusing on issues like youth homelessness, deportations and immigration, living wages, proper and accessible health care.

Ultimately, we need to support all trans women of color and not drown them out if they don’t fit into the Gay, Inc agenda of marriage equality and whiteness. All of the love and respect to Gutiérrez for her actions standing up to President Obama yesterday and for all of her hard work and activism surrounding LGBTQ+ and immigrant rights.

Queer Bars and No Sober Places

I don’t really drink – a family history of messy alcoholism and recently being on a medication that doesn’t mix well has (personally and mostly) turned me off from drinking. I grew up peeling my dad off the couch and putting him to bed, watched as he downed bottles of wine during the nights to dull the physical pain of a decades old injury and the emotional turmoil swirling in his head. I watched as the man I knew as my father grew from the carefree man he once was to a man I barely recognized, spending most days with a glass of wine always in his hand.

However, that is another and much larger story for another day but provides some context to why I hardly drink. I worry about becoming the person my father is and childhood memories of drunken outbursts often plague my mind. I’m not saying drinking is bad or to judge anyone but to, again, just provide context for my own decisions.

When I came out as queer, I had all of this history behind me plus I was underage with no fake ID. I didn’t live with my parents during my first couple years of being out, which was a blessing. It wasn’t perfect though – I was instead living in a microaggressive Catholic community, where I was one of just a small percentage of openly queer people. Many of the queer spaces I saw in the city around me were bars or clubs, with a few exceptions.

Digging around, I’ve discovered that the queer community has a significantly larger problem with alcohol abuse than the general population. Estimates show that roughly 15% of the general population struggles with alcohol abuse but that number jumps significantly when you look at the LGBTQ+ community (estimates of 45% of the community struggles with alcohol abuse).

These estimates may vary but the overall conclusion I’ve reached in my own research? Alcohol and substance abuse is a significant problem with the LGBTQ+ community and is often significantly higher than the general population. And of course, adding intersectionality into the mix by looking at queer and trans POC adds more complexity to the issue at hand. An article about the state of queer and trans communities of color from a few years ago highlights similar findings and stated that:

Gay and transgender people of color are also more likely to smoke cigarettes than their straight or white peers. Further, unemployed transgender people of color abuse drugs and alcohol at twice the rate of employed gay and transgender people.

Natural-American-Spirit-LGBT-Smoking-Ad (1)

Natural-American-Spirit-LGBT-Smoking-AdThere are many reasons why a larger proportion of queer people dealing with substance abuse. ThinkProgress has two articles about this – one touching more on the overall reasons for the higher substance abuse and the other focuses on the targeted marketing from corporations. Marketing from tobacco and alcohol companies have in fact targeted the LGBTQ+ community, exploiting the fact that queer bars and clubs can often be safe spaces for the community. QueerMeUp highlights several points, including the high levels of stress that sometimes comes with being LGBTQ+ and even goes on to say that:

targeted marketing efforts by alcohol and tobacco companies exploit the connection many gay and transgender people have to bars and clubs as safe spaces for socializing and increase easy access to tobacco products and alcohol.

I don’t want this post to be a way to shit on people dealing with addiction or any kind of substance abuse. But instead, I want to address the fact that even with this high proportion of alcohol and substance abuse within our community, there’s a large number of queer/gay bars and clubs that help add fuel to the fire. Sure, gay/queer bars and clubs have been incredibly important to the LGBTQ+ history (something Violet Viridis briefly touches upon) but shouldn’t sober and all ages spaces be just as important?

Fabian Romero wrote about their experiences dealing with substance abuse, recovery, and trying to stay sober in queer spaces.  They bring up some incredible points, talking about the difficulty of trying to be in recovery but also be social in queer circles at the same time. One of the last paragraphs from that post articulates my thoughts about these issues much better than I ever can:

I believe that having more consideration for sober spaces not only will nurture relationships with recovering addicts, it also will be more accessible to youth and will build more skills around de-stressing and coping with the microaggressions that we face daily; More importantly it will start conversations about the people who are not hanging out because of inaccessibility. I dream of a world where I can be with my differently abled friends more than once a year. I want to be able to talk not only about how sober spaces are not considered in queer spaces but how it is connected to the ways that ableism runs our lives and how our attitudes toward ableism keeps disabled people isolated. This is only one way that the queer community can improve, there are many ways that ableism separates us, consider learning about those too.

Ultimately, I think it’s so important to have more community centers and safe spaces that aren’t centering alcohol or substance use. With so many youth experiencing homelessness identifying as LGBTQ+ and part of our own community not legally able to drink, with such a high rate of alcohol and substance abuse in our community, with the intersectionality of classism, racism, ableism, and so much more, with all of that in mind – having safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community that aren’t bars or clubs is something that’s super important for me.e

I don’t want the bars and clubs that have so much history behind them to up and disappear; nor do I want people to stop going to them if that’s something they really enjoy doing. Instead, I just hope that we can start creating more safe, sober, and all ages places for the queer community to come together.

Feminist Friday: Protect all sisters, not just cis-ters.

I’m not going to lie – I’ll fight anyone that doesn’t think trans women are women. Because trans women are fundamentally women and my sisters in this struggle. And I do want to state at the beginning that this post is most definitely aimed at anyone and everyone who doesn’t believe trans women are women and trans men are men. (But honestly, I’m mainly focusing on transmisogyny.)

If you do want some trans 1o1 resources and how to potentially act as an ally to the trans community, I did write a post for Trans Day of Visibility recently that covers some of that information and some basic 101 information. Also Google is a great and free resource for any more questions.

*Another disclaimer: I am not a trans woman so this is coming from a place where I’ve seen how some cis women and others who don’t identify as a trans woman have been incredibly awful to trans women. And how some have used feminism as a weapon against the very community it should be including.

12511278745_c0045afeb0_oThere is, unfortunately, a subculture of feminism that doesn’t believe trans women are women. Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF) is an incredibly toxic culture bent on excluding (and even exterminating) the trans population in the name of feminism. This is not feminism – it is hatred and problematic and absolutely terrible. There is a checklist of things terfs tend to believe if you are curious.

Mainstream feminism has unfortunately had a terrible history of transphobia and transmisogyny and it’s damn time that that hatred in the movement ends. Tina Vasquez wrote about the long history of transphobia within the feminist movement, ending her in depth article by saying:

Trans women have been saddled with the responsibility of taking on trans-exclusionary feminists for far too long—but it’s not their issue to deal with alone. Cisgender feminists, such as [Vasquez], have to make it clear that our feminism loves and supports trans women and that we will fight against transphobia. As Williams said, it’s time to expose trans-exclusionary feminists for who they really are.

“I’ve often wondered what their [radical feminists’] end game is. Do they really believe that they’re going to cause thousands of companies and hundreds of towns to roll back trans protections?” Williams asked. “TERFs were the first to politically weaponize the trans-bathroom meme back in 1973 and they pioneered the end of trans healthcare in the 1980s. It’s high time that 40 years of focused, unrelenting hate be pulled into the light of day.”

Leela Ginelle wrote an article about how trans women are in fact women and focused on some of the responses from some radical feminists about Caitlyn Jenner. Ginelle also highlighted the fact that second wave feminist thought (in the 1970s and 1980s) often expressed a lot of trans exclusionary sentiment but there have been several prominent feminists like Gloria Steinem who, in the past few years, have publicly changed their standpoints. Ginelle ends her article with a really great paragraph:

Supporting trans women means seeing them as equal to all other women. When you do this, then Caitlyn Jenner’s self-expression is as valid as any other woman’s. It means every trans woman’s body is a woman’s body and any definition of woman inherently includes trans women. If this is what Burkett means when she writes the trans movement is “demanding that women reconceptualize ourselves,” then I suppose she’s correct. It will be nice when people no longer see it as a “demand,” though, and when people no longer ask, “What makes a woman?” and assuming the answer excludes transgender women.

Some other important reads include:

Ultimately, I will always believe that trans women are women and more than deserve a spot at the feminist round table. Supporting trans women can mean different things – like listening to them tell their own narratives, financially support for trans individuals or organizations, learning more, or calling out transphobic bullshit you might encounter. All of that transphobic and transmisogynist behavior in the name of feminism is utter bullshit and needs to stop immediately.

And to all the trans women and girls out there, I love you I love you I love you. You are worthy and wonderful and created and loved by the universe. Society has failed you miserably but you are amazing. ❤ ❤

Pride Month.

I’ve only ever been to one Pride weekend a few years ago and I ended up volunteering the entire time (which is another story for another time). That weekend came at a time in my life where I was struggling a lot with being queer and dealing with my incredibly horrible experiences at my now alma mater. It was really nice to be around a large group of mostly queer people for the first time really ever in my life. And I think that pride month can be really great for that. To be around other queer people when I was really isolated from that community? That meant so much.

I do think that Pride can be incredibly important because it will always be someone’s first time experiencing community and support. I sometimes think about my first (and only) Pride and remember how incredibly validating it was to be in a place that (seemingly) supported me as a person.

tumblr_inline_mqhct25cfT1qz4rgpBut at the same time I think it’s incredibly important to be critical of what Pride has turned into and the context of where it all began (as a way to remember the Stonewall Riots). Pride has turned into this capitalistic and celebratory festival (where some cities having more banks in the Pride parades than trans groups) rather than a way to remember the past.

Some have been really critical of the fact that places like banks, police departments, and even the US Department of Defense have not only sponsored but actively participated in Pride festivities. (Against Equality is a great resource of criticisms of the military industrial complex, prisons, and marriage if you want to learn more.) One good article to start with though:

  • My problem with the hype and pressure around DADT is that it distracts from the very things that the Queer Liberation movement was founded on: Anti-imperialism, anti-racism, equal access to housing and healthcare, and struggles against patriarchy. It seems almost irrelevant to me whether or not gay soldiers can “come out” in the military when the US military is not only carrying out two genocidal campaigns for US imperialism and corporate profit, but also when the war budget is draining the funds needed for almost every other service we so desperately need in this country. When I see the situation as such, not only does it become apparent to me that the Queer Movement must be antiwar, but also that the movement, as is, has been hijacked by a few high powered assimilaitionist dragging everyone along through corporate propaganda.

At the same time, allowing police departments to sponsor and participate in Pride with the law enforcement’s repeated track record of brutality and racial profiling seems (to me) to send the message that the only people welcome at the festivities are white people. Over the past couple years, it is hard to ignore the police brutality against communities of color, especially the African American/black communities. (The Huffington Post has an article about the 40 reasons why our jails are filled with black and poor people and shocker, a lot of it has to do with racial profiling and racial bias.)

As far as the commericialization of Pride, Christina Cauterucci wrote an article recently about how Pride has in fact turned into this commercialized party weekend, especially saying that:

When Fortune 500 companies reap the benefits of our show of pride in the face of oppression, when straight allies become integral to one of our precious few queer-majority spaces, what has Pride become?

“The first Gay Pride was a riot,” goes a popular radical queer slogan. Celebration and self-love, of course, are political in their own right, and essential to our communities’ well-being. We have the right to be more than a set of rights and disprivileges. We need frivolity and fun. We need to dance and fuck and throw confetti, to let our guts unclench and just laugh in an environment that affirms the core of who we are. But today’s Pride threatens to turn ahistorical, divorced from the context of ongoing battles for queer liberation in favor of a bland street fair that suits the least common denominator of the gay experience.

There have also been specific instances in some cities that have drawn criticisms, including the fact that one year, the San Francisco Pride endorsed a prison themed gay pride party. And there haven’t always been the most inclusive practices involving not only Pride itself but organizations and the movement itself – the push from mainstream groups and organizations to alienate women like Sylvia Rivera is incredibly messed up in so many different ways.

With big name straight headliners taking the stage at many Pride weekends over the years and the intense focus on marriage and inclusion in the military, I wish that there was more of a focus on issues like homelessness, employment and housing discrimination, racism, classism/living wages, and immigration. Intersectionality and recognizing more than a single focus goal should be so much more important than what Pride currently seems to offer.

There’s so much of me that wants to really love Pride, especially because of the history context and amazing way to reach out to those still struggling to find their community. But at the same time, I still can’t just overlook the flaws of what Pride has currently become.

History of Pride Month: Stonewall Riots

Understanding the history and context of the LGBTQ+ pride month that currently exists is really important, especially since the history tends to drastically erase major parts and key players. The current pride month happens in June every year, with major cities often having large parades and festivals during one of the weekends. But it was originally started as a way to commemorate the Stonewall Inn Riots in New York City that took place in June of 1969.

The riot took place in front of the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village of New York City after a police raid had begun arresting patrons of the bar. Raids like this occurred frequently and during the time, were perfectly legal because as the Stonewall Inn website states:

In 1969 Police raids on gay bars occurred regularly.  It was illegal to serve Gay people alcohol or for Gays to dance with one another.  During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, the customers were lined up and their identification checked. Those without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested. Women were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing, and would be arrested if found not wearing them[1].

(This, of course, is just another example of the corrupt and unjust parts of the legal system that still exists within the US today.)

But the riots and protests continued into the night, being dispersed several hours later. But the protests continued the next day, with thousands of people gathering on Christopher Street in front of the inn and protests also continued the day after that.

stonewall_gallery_11

A year later in 1970, the Christopher Street Liberation Day march was held to remember the events that had happened and people walked on Sixth Ave in New York City from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Other marches in different cities started to pop up as well. Although, this first march in 1970 wasn’t the celebratory parade that Pride currently is. One article about the evolution of pride by Yohana Desta states that:

Because of its celebratory nature, people often refer to the CSLD March as a parade, though it was always intended, and specifically called, a march. Its roots came from a somber place. Fred Sargeant, a man who attended the actual event, wrote a first-person account of the march for the Village Voice in 2010, writing that there were “no floats, no music, no boys in briefs.” Instead, they held signs and banners, and chanted “Say it clear, say it loud. Gay is good, gay is proud.”

There are two important figures from the history of the Stonewall Inn Riots that are often erased from the retelling. Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were both present at the riots (and some accounts name the then 17 year old Rivera as one of the first instigators to throw something at the police that day in June 1969). Both Sylvia and Marsha worked together to form the unfortunately short lived shelter called STAR House (STAR standing for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries).

Sylvia Rivera played a big part in the riots but also spent a lot of time advocating for those who continued to be marginalized when gay rights groups went more mainstream. David W Dunlap wrote about Sylvia after she died in February of 2002 and wrote about her struggle with the mainstream gay organizations:

Ms. Rivera often tangled with gay political leaders who favored a more conventional public front. When the Gay Activists Alliance eliminated transvestites from its civil rights agenda in the early 70’s, she turned on the group, Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney wrote in ”Out for Good” (Simon & Schuster, 1999). ”Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned,” she warned. [2]

Sylvia worked tirelessly for people of color and low income queer and trans individuals and there is currently the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in New York City that does a lot of legal and educational work in memory of this wonderful woman. For more information on Sylvia, there is the ten posts for Sylvia Rivera’s Ten Year Memorial from several years ago and an article from the Village Voice calling Sylvia a woman for her time.

Marsha P Johnson spent time working with Sylvia on issues like the police raids, homelessness, and mentoring many youth. Some saw her as a mother figure and she often advocated for marginalized communities. Reina Gossett wrote an amazing tribute to Marsha on the Crunk Feminist Collective and quoted Marsha herself, saying:

In contrast to the equality movement assimilation strategies, Marsha P Johnson laid out a clear freedom dream during her interview “RAPPING WITH A STREET TRANSVESTITE REVOLUTIONARY” with Bob Kohler.  She told Bob.

“STAR [Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries] is a very revolutionary group.  We believe in picking up the gun, starting a revolution if necessary.  Our main goal is to see gay people liberated and free…We’d like to see our gay brothers and sisters out of jail and on the streets again.  There are a lot of gay transvestites who have been in jail for no reason at all, and the reason why they don’t get out is they can’t get a lawyer or bail.” [3]

[Video of the documentary Pay It No Mind, where Marsha and others are interviewed specifically about the life and work of Marsha P Johnson.]

Unfortunately, Marsha died in 1992, shortly after Gay Pride. The police controversially rule her death a suicide but many have advocated that Marsha was the victim of a hate crime and that her death was in fact a murder. Her case was reopened in 2012 but I unfortunately haven’t found anything about what has happened with the case since then.

[1] The History Stonewall Inn

[2] Sylvia Rivera, 50, Figure in Birth of the Gay Liberation Movement

[3] Happy Birthday Marsha “Pay it no mind” Johnson!

Critiques of marriage equality and the Human Rights Campaign

Because June is Pride month for many cities around the U.S.,  I’m hoping to highlight some critiques of the larger and more mainstream LGBTQ+ community. I’m also planning to write about the history of Pride and some of the key people behind it. Starting off though, I wanted to address the critiques that many other queer individuals have brought up regarding the mainstream marriage equality movement and the Human Rights Campaign that started roughly 35 years ago.

First and foremost, let’s start with the criticisms of the movement for marriage equality. I know that marriage means a lot to many people and I do think that if you and your partner want to get married, you should. However, the focus on marriage equality as the biggest issue for the entire LGBTQ+ community is incredibly problematic because it is often painted as this end all solution to a plethora of different issues (health care, visitation rights in hospitals, immigration, etc). When in reality, there are so many pressing issues like youth homelessness, violence, employment and housing discrimination, racism, and others that impact the every day life of so many within the community.

And marriage shouldn’t be treated as this solution to the broken systems that already exist (again like health care and immigration). There are broken systems within the US that won’t be fixed by allowing everyone to marry and we shouldn’t treat marriage equality like this end all solution to so many problems. Instead, we should work to address those problems. Drew Ambrogi wrote it best in an opinion piece about who marriage equality leaves out, saying that:

Talking about marriage as if it is the most important issue for the LGBT community silences those of us with needs that access to marriage will not address. Marriage won’t provide adequate health care to those of us who are without it. Marriage won’t address the domestic violence many of us face in our relationships. It won’t save the one in four LGBT youth who are homeless, and it won’t help those of us living with HIV as crucial assistance programs face budget cuts. It won’t address the routine violence faced by trans people and it will do little for LGBT people who are undocumented. And it will probably make things more difficult for those of us living outside of nuclear family formations.

aegreaterthan_notext-300x300Against Equality has a plethora of different queer challenges to inclusion, including queer critiques of the marriage equality movement. Marriage equality is one of the issues they address but they also have resources and critiques on the military and the prison industrial complex. But for right now, they do have a long list of resources to look into about the challenges posed by many different queer individuals about marriage and have highlighted the problematic nature by saying:

 Gay marriage apes hetero privilege and allows everyone to forget that marriage ought not to be the guarantor of rights like health care.  In their constant invoking of the “right” to gay marriage, mainstream gays and lesbians express a confused tangle of wishes and desires.  They claim to contest the Right’s conservative ideology yet insist that they are more moral and hence more deserving than sluts like us.  They claim that they simply want the famous 1000+ benefits but all of these, like the right to claim protection in cases of domestic violence, can be made available to non-marital relationships.

We wish that the GM crowd would simply cop to it: Their vision of marriage is the same as that of the Right, and far from creating FULL EQUALITY NOW! as so many insist (in all caps and exclamation marks, no less) gay marriage increases economic inequality by perpetuating a system which deems married beings more worthy of the basics like health care and economic rights.

– See more at: http://www.againstequality.org/about/marriage/#sthash.UEGBppcb.dpuf

There are also a lot of criticisms being lobbed at the Human Rights Campaign. One of the biggest (for me) is the company’s complete lack of intersectionality and diversity. Marriage equality is their biggest concern, rather than issues like youth homelessness (which is significantly more likely to impact LGBTQ+ youth), employment or housing discrimination, or others. Derrick Clifton wrote a great article for the Huffington Post about the criticisms of the Human Rights Campaign, saying among other things that:

With marriage equality occupying so much space in the conversation, many people have grown tired of the perfunctory strategies that eat up time, money and resources to address surface-level issues rather than work intersectionally to address the root cause of systemic issues impacting LGBT communities. That’s not to say marriage doesn’t matter — it’s indeed a big step that’ll move us closer to achieving equality — but the high, high level of its prioritization is troubling to many.

And the Human Rights Campaign has a rather terrible track record of excluding parts of the LGBTQ+ community in order to get parts of legislation passed, including repeatedly throwing the trans community under the bus. Personally, I can’t get behind a multi million dollar organization that repeatedly shuns a part of the larger LGBTQ+ community AND has repeatedly focused on issues that usually the more privileged only have access to.

#TransIsBeautiful and #CallMeCaitlyn

By now, you might have already seen Caitlyn Jenner’s photo shoot and cover on Vanity Fair. I am so happy for Caitlyn – living to your authentic truth is unbelievable freeing and wonderful. And having the exposure of transitioning late in life is also wonderful – it allows more people to understand that it’s never too late to come out of the closet.

It’s really heartwarming to see all the support and love being thrown in Caitlyn’s direction but it’s just as important to be critical of and acknowledge the fact that Caitlyn has access to resources that not many trans people (especially trans women) have access to. I should say that this isn’t an attack on Caitlyn herself but instead something to be mindful of when talking about trans issues. Laverne Cox put it brilliantly in a blog post about #CallMeCaitlyn, saying that

It is important to note that these standards are also informed by race, class and ability among other intersections. I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can. This is why we need diverse media representations of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities. I started #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans, those things that don’t necessarily align with cisnormative beauty standards. For me it is necessary everyday to celebrate every aspect of myself especially those things about myself that don’t align with other people’s ideas about what is beautiful. #TransIsBeautiful is about, whether you’re trans or not, celebrating all those things that make us uniquely ourselves. Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people.

It’s so incredibly important that with all of this support for Caitlyn that the rest of the trans community is also lifted up and supported. My post from the latest #TransDayOfVisiblity this past March is just as relevant today as it was a couple months ago. It’s still incredibly important to educate yourself about trans issues (and Google still should be your best friend as far as beginning that journey). And it’s so important to be happy that Caitlyn has come out but also remember that women like Caitlyn have access to many many resources that not every trans person does.

Sophia Banks brought up some good points, tweeting that:

 Sophia has so many great points about not only the media attention towards Caitlyn but her own life as a trans woman in Canada. Some of her tweets ended up in an article from The Advocate about how trans people are welcoming Cailtyn to Twitter. (Of course not everyone has been so welcoming…)

Ultimately I think it’s incredibly important when people like Caitlyn Jenner come out and let the world know something so personal because we definitely need more trans people in the media. But at the same time, I think it’s possible to be happy for Caitlyn while also critical of the level of access she has as a rich white woman and how there’s so much more work to do for the rest of the trans community. And it’s important to also discuss the violence and homelessness that many trans people (especially trans women of color) experience on a regular basis. 

There is so much more that goes into this that I could quite literally write for hours about this but in the end, I’m happy for Cailtyn and I have so much love for every single trans person out there. And to all the trans people reading this, I love you so much. I have so much appreciation for my trans siblings because I get how lonely and difficult it can be. I haven’t come out as trans to my family (especially after being called “too militant” in my correction of my mom’s pronoun usage for Caitlyn Jenner).