QUEER HISTORY: Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major Griffin Gracy is a trans elder and activist and among other things, was present at the Stonewall Inn Riots in 1969. She’s a community leader who has worked tirelessly over the decades to support other trans girls/women and the LGBTQ community, especially those who are or have been incarcerated, and helped spark the modern trans movement.

Miss Major was born in 1940 and grew up in Chicago. Early on in her life, she became involved in drag balls in Chicago and came out in her teens. After being kicked out by her family, Miss Major made her way to New York City and was a part of the Stonewall Inn Riots in June of 1969. She spoke about the riots to the Huffington Post a couple years ago, saying in particular:

And the aftermath of that ― there was a sense of pride that stood up for ourselves and we fought back. That they didn’t just roll over us like one of those concrete things that smooths the roads. We actually stood up and it was empowering.

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BOOK REVIEW: Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesa Ramsey

In 2011, Franchesca Ramsey had been making YouTube videos on her Chescaleigh channel for a few years. Some were about her hair and how to style locs. Others were comedic, including a parody song about student loans. But the one that went viral was a parody of a few popular videos from that year. “Sh*t White Girls Say… To Black Girls” (SWGSTBG) propelled Ramsey into the national spotlight in just a few hours after posting it and started her down a path of on and offline entertainment and activism.

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist is Ramsey’s first book and in it, she writes about her journey leading up to the viral SWGSTBG video and the years after it. She writes with such vulnerability about the struggles and mistakes she’s faced while trying to break into the entertainment business while simultaneously being an activist in the public eye. There are many parts of the book that reflect on the many mistakes she’s made, how she dealt with some of the fall out, and how she learned from them all.

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Trans Roles in Media.

Recently, Scarlett Johansson made news after it came out that she will be playing a trans character in an upcoming movie. This is the second controversial casting news that Johansson has been a part of in the last couple of years (the first being her role in the 2017 film Ghost In The Shell, where she played a character that had been an Asian woman in the book the movie was based on).

And while this isn’t the first time that Johansson has been at the center of a casting controversy, this also isn’t the first time that a cisgender actor will be playing a trans character. Matt Bomer, Jared Leto, Eddie Redmayne, and Hilary Swank are just some of the most notable actors to do so. But just because it’s been done before (and with some critical acclaim), doesn’t mean it’s right.

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Trans Day of Action (#TDOA)

Today (June 22nd, 2018) is the 14th annual Trans Day of Action, a day organized by TransJustice, a political subgroup of The Audre Lorde Project in New York City, to demand safe access in public and private spaces for trans and gender nonconforming folks and to honor all the victories made in the trans movement over the last year. The NYC event is happening today, 4pm-7pm at Christopher Street Pier (Pier 45 on Manhattan’s West Side).

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Violence against native and indigenous women [Revisited]

NOTE: I originally wrote most of this post a couple years ago but this is sadly still a problem and something that still needs to be discussed. The reason why I wanted to revisit this topic is because the CBC recently released a second season of their podcast “Missing and Murdered”. This season is about an indigenous family in Canada trying to find their sister, Cleo. I recommend listening to that podcast to better understand this issue and the systematic trauma that many indigenous people have had to experience and continue to deal with.

Canada and the United States have both been exceptionally horrible to the indigenous and native populations of this land. For generations and generations, we’ve broken treaties, stolen children, committed cultural and physical genocide, live on stolen land. Violence against indigenous and native women is unfortunately a part of our history and current narrative in both countries. And it’s a national disgrace.

*I do want to say that this is a rough topic to read about – it deals with rape, abuse, death, and other forms of violence. Just as a warning.

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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 HISTORY: Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera is often most known for being just one of many that were present at the Stonewall Inn Riots in June of 1969 but her life and work encompasses so much more than that night. Rivera, now an icon for many LGBTQ+ folks, was born in the Bronx in 1951 as Ray Rivera and had a turbulent childhood. At just eleven years old, Rivera was on her own, homeless, and hustling on the streets trying to survive. Despite all the hardships she faced for her gender and presentation (as the 1960s/70s were very unforgiving towards gender nonconformity in any sense), Rivera was often very open about being transgender/a drag queen and was a long-time activist for LGBTQ+ rights.

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Supporting Trans Kids.

With one of the latest federal actions revoking federal guidelines that support transgender students to use public school bathrooms that match their gender identity. While the stance from the administration is to leave transgender rights up to the states and local schools, this move also reverses work done by the Obama administration last year and means that protections and support would vary widely from area to area.

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‘Queer’ Revisited.

I’ve written about my own struggle with using the word ‘queer’ – it’s something that I personally struggle with regularly. There are a lot of discussion online (and I’m sure offline as well) about the use of queer to be a universal term for the LGBTQ+ community. In the below video, Kat Blaque takes a question from one of her viewers about a club on a college campus using ‘queer’ as a universal term and the club essentially saying that if you don’t like it, you’ll get used to it. (The previous video Kat mentions in the below one can be found here and I definitely recommend watching both videos in relation to this conversation.)

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Not Normal.

With Trump officially in office and already starting his term off to a bang, it’s important to reiterate that all of this is not normal. The censoring of government employees and scientists? Not normal. The Press Secretary blatantly lying about the size of the inauguration crowds, despite the fact that there is clear photographic evidence to contradict him? Still not normal, no matter if ‘alternative facts’ actually exist. The Press Secretary has even started to print out tweets that Trump has issues with and holds them up at press briefings, which is incredibly bizarre and definitely not normal. Trump and those in his administration have proven several times in less than two weeks that they are willing to lie to the American public on numerous issues.

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