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.
Growing up in a financially stable middle class family meant that I never really had to worry about having food on the table each day. While we rarely sat down at the dinner table all together, there was always a great dinner each night and my sister and I rarely lacked packed lunches or lunch money. The few times we did usually happened because we forgot the packed lunch or money at home.
I say all this because it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized just how difficult it can be to provide food for yourself and your family if you’re struggling to make ends meet. A big part of this came through interning at a food pantry one summer and learning first hand how difficult it can be to get enough food if you’re at or below the poverty line. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) doesn’t always help and despite the fact that millions of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables are regularly thrown out by grocery stores, getting anything that isn’t canned from food pantries can be really tough.
This year, like 2016, seemed like a continuous garbage fire (and in some places, there were actual fires…). It’s been hard to stay strong, to be positive about the kind of future we have in store. Plus, with winter officially upon us in the northern hemisphere, these cold, short days are perfect for negative thinking and depressive attitudes (at least for me). So in light of all of that, I wanted to write about some of my favorite things to come out of this year.
So a couple years ago, I wrote a couple pieces for this blog about problematic faves – celebrities that many seem to adore and love but are problematic in different ways. My point with writing these posts wasn’t to be malicious or to really tear people down but instead, to really start the conversation on why we shouldn’t be putting people on pedestals and why we should hold people accountable.
People aren’t prefect – as a species, humans are messy and tend to make a whole lot of mistakes. I know that I’ve made so many mistakes that would qualify as a problematic person and I don’t deny that I’m still not making mistakes. But I’m trying to be better and I’m trying to learn more in order to make less mistakes in the future.
Things are hectic and overwhelming now on so many different levels – trying to just keep up with what’s coming out of the White House and from 45’s administration on a regular basis is difficult most days. Add in everything else, including trying to survive, just getting out of bed most days can be hard. But it’s so important that we, especially and particularly we as white people, do get out of bed and work against white supremacy and fight for justice and equity.
I wrote on Monday that I haven’t been able to stop reading what’s been going and honestly, that hasn’t changed. There’s still so much that’s going on and so much that’s come out just in the last couple days. I wanted to share more articles and videos to really continue putting everything in context but to also just show how horrifying things are right now.
Over the weekend, I was glued to the screen to my phone, watching the events violently unfold in Charlottesville, Virginia and trying to understand both what’s happening in real time and the context for it all. It’s difficult for so many reasons to really keep up and understand what’s been going on but here’s a brief timeline of what happened on Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Section 1
Over the past couple of years, there have been many conversations and projects that center mass incarceration and the thirteenth amendment of the United States Constitution. There’s Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow and Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th to name just a couple. Celebrities like Matt McGorry and John Legend have helped to start conversations about these issues and support organizers that work to support incarcerated folks and change policy.
I was always taught that slavery ended with the end of the Civil War, with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the ratification of the thirteenth amendment. And I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one, as schooling here in the US generally tends to not provide a full context and understanding of history. This subject in school was always a whitewashed overview, just the bland highlights of a complicated and deeply contextual history.
Recently, I saw the documentary Freedom to Marry and was thoroughly underwhelmed. A part comes from my own doubts around the now finished fight for marriage equality but another part comes from just how predictable the documentary was. Jay Weissberg reviewed the film for Variety and wrote that:
Despite a small theatrical run, “The Freedom to Marry” feels designed for TV in every way: It does its job more or less efficiently (we could do without Wolfson’s parents’ friends talking about what a bright boy he was) in cookie-cutter documentary fashion. Rosenstein, a childhood acquaintance of Wolfson’s, is unable to disguise the artificiality of certain “spontaneous” conversations before the cameras.
And that’s exactly what it felt like. The message and theme of the documentary oversaturated the film in a way that felt like you were being hit over the head with what the filmmakers wanted you to take away from it. That doesn’t mean it was completely terrible or anything – there were some great moments and the film does hark back to how gay people have been treated in the United States. But I ultimately left the theater feeling underwhelmed by the production and forgotten by the larger LGBTQ+ community. (That last part isn’t necessarily tied to the documentary and is a larger trend that I’ve personally felt in the past few months.)
Self-care can mean a lot of different things – it can mean taking the time out to watch some stuff on Netflix with friends, going out to lunch, taking a nap, going on a hike. In a time of uncertainty and stress, being able to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally and making sure that you’re doing okay is important. As Melissa A Fabello describes in a video for Everyday Feminism,
So self-care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self-care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.