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Weather Veins

"I am rusty when I talk. It's the storm in me." – a.g.

Combatting Internalized Biphobia

Ever since I’ve become super out about being trans, I’ve also become much more comfortable recognizing that I’m way more sexually/romantically fluid than I thought I was.

When I was still feeling disempowered about my transness, I felt this sort of impetus to only be attracted to women, as if by some convoluted logic that would somehow disaggregate my identity from the assumption that I was a cis woman… that if I wasn’t “trans enough” for people, being “queer enough” was a marginally better alternative.

It doesn’t make much sense to me now looking back at it. Obviously a queer cis person who dates someone of the other binary gender isn’t in fact any less queer than anyone else in the LGBTQIA+ community. Nor does my being identified as being solely attracted to women serve as emblematic of my transness as an AFAB person.

But for whatever reason, I was worried that dating a boy would necessitate my being seen as a girl. At the very least dating a heterosexual boy. I still do not think I could ever be involved with a hetero guy for the ways in which that would feel like a disavowal of my trans identity, but this is the same reason I have a lot of complicated feelings about dating women who staunchly identify as lesbian. I would not be comfortable dating someone who is only romantically and sexually attracted to women. The fact that the person is a guy isn’t the problem.

It’s a shame and problematic and sometimes I wish I could go back to my early queer years and call myself out for some internalized biphobia/bi-erasure. And the heteronormative, butch/femme assumptions in the aforementioned logic. How I denied my own attraction to a lot of masculine non-binary cuties and men.

While I still find myself gravitating towards women and femmes, people are just really attractive y’all and life’s too short not to queer it the hell up.

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International Women’s Day

On #internationalwomensday, as well as every other day, I am thankful for the women activists, the women writers, the women theorists, and the women artists past, present, and future. The radicals, the misandrists, the hard femmes, the soft butches, the dykes, and those unapologetically drinking cis male tears. The women of color, trans women, intersex women, queer women, undocumented women, poor women, and disabled women whose needs and existence too frequently are ignored by the mainstream feminist movement, who never receive adequate credit for their labor even within activist communities. And to my mother, who from the moment I was born has always taught me what it means to survive. I am not a woman, but I am forever grateful for what different kinds of womanhood and femininity can mean.

Sing Their Names

March 2015

Leelah and Eylül and Zander
Melanie Rose, Ash, and Blake
These were their names
These are their names
And we’ll sing their names
And speak their stories

The weight falls
Their lives extinguished but
Radioing echo booms
Across a nation
Across a world
That fights to not recognize their existence

Leelah Alcorn was 17 years old
17 years young
17 years stopped by the head of a truck
Because they were 17 years
Of not daughter but son
Of misplaced being
Of not being
17 years of never hearing her own name fall from her parent’s lips

Leelah and Eylül and Zander
Melanie Rose, Ash, and Blake
These were their names
These are their names
And we’ll sing their names
And speak their stories

And she is not the only one
In 4 months there have been 8 reported trans youth suicides
From Kings Mill, Ohio
To Istanbul, Turkey
To Charlotte, North Carolina
Leelah 17, Eylül 24, Zander 15
Melanie 19, Ash 15, Blake 18
And they are not the only ones
Every 1 in 2 trans people will attempt suicide
At some point in our lifetimes
So half of the time I find myself wanting to check
The fuses of my siblings’ spines

I don’t want to acknowledge that
But then I remember how many parents
Will only acknowledge their baptismal names
The cries of the known and the unknown
Are reverberating through our chests
Shaking the bones of our community
As our hearts pound louder to prove that
We are still here

Their headstones read legal names
But our voices raise up saying

Leelah and Eylül and Zander
Melanie Rose, Ash, and Blake
These were their names
These are their names
And we’ll sing their names
And speak their stories

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In middle school and high school, I hated make up. It felt like an obligation – not just to others but also to myself. An obligation to engage in womanhood. To be the cishet girl I was trying my hardest to be. As I got older and began to embrace being transgender, I began to feel a new set of pressures in regards to my appearance. As an AFAB non-binary person who is often misgendered as female, I felt as though I had to strip myself of all things that were at least apparently feminine in order to be considered legitimate — to be seen as trans enough. But let’s be honest y’all, I am a very ~soft~ butch. Don’t get me wrong, as trans people, it is entirely valid for us to regulate our own appearance, especially for the purposes of safety. But lately I find myself appreciating cosmetics more and more, and I am sick of internalized femmephobia preventing me from playing around with makeup. Which is a long-winded way of saying that this non-binary kid is going to be a little more shimmery from here on out.
androgyny =\= masculinity
make up =\= womanhood
There is no such thing as not being “trans enough”

Pride Month 2016: Thoughts about the Pulse Shooting

June 17, 2016

My neighbor has a Donald Trump campaign sign on his front lawn.

He put it up last week.  The first time I saw it, I was in the car with my brother and when we came up over the hill that leads into my neighborhood, the only response I could vocalize is “what the fuck is that?”  “I know,” he responded simply, hands tightening grip on the steering wheel.  We talk about wanting to kick it down.  We talk about his use of the n-word and s***k.  We talk about how the man hasn’t acknowledged my presence in over a year, since he saw me walking down the street hand-in-hand with my girlfriend at the time.  We were angry.

That anger dissolves into something else entirely on Sunday.  49.  When the lives of 49 queer folks of color were obliterated with a legally-obtained assault rifle.  Another 53 injured.  6 in critical condition.  As the names come in, I read their stories.

Stanley Almodovar III (23), Amanda Alvear (25), Oscar Aracena (26), Rodolfo Ayala (33), Antonio Davon Brown (29), Darryl R. Burt II (29), Jonathan Camuy (24), Angel Luis Candelario-Padro (28), Omar Capo (20), Simon Carrillo (31), Luis Daniel Conde (39), Cory James Connell (21), Tevin Eugene Crosby (25), Anthony Luis Laureano Disla (25), Deoka Deirdra Drayton (32), Leroy Valentin Fernandez (25), Mercedez Marisol Flores (26), Peter O. Gonzales-Cruz (22), Juan Ramon Guerrero (22), Paul Terrell Henry (41), Frankie Hernandez (27), Miguel Angel Honorato (30), Jimmy De Jesús (50), Javier Jorge-Reyes (40), Jason Benjamin Josaphat (19), Eddie Jamoldroy Justice (30), Christopher Leinonen (32), Alejandro Barrios Martinez (21), Juan Chavez Martinez (25), Brenda Lee Marquez McCool (49), Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez (25), Kimberly Morris (37), Akyra Murray (18), Geraldo Ortiz-Jiminez (25), Joel Rayon Paniagua (31), Jean Carlos Mendez Perez (35), Enrique L. Rios (25), Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera (36), Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez (27), Xavier Emmanuel Serrano (35), Christopher Sanfeliz (24), Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan (24), Edward Sotomayor Jr. (34), Shane Evan Tomlinson (33), Martin Benitez Torres (33), Juan Rivera Valazquez (37), Luis Vielma (22), Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon (37), Jerald Arthur Wright (31).

I think about how 7 of them are my age or younger.  I think about how many people will remember the name of the shooter far more quickly than that of any of the victims.  I think about the shooter’s image plastered across the media, and how they are responding to him instead of the bodies shot.  I think about how half the time, they don’t mention it was a gay club or that it was Latinx night.  Because queer people of color are always already dead.  And we come to understand the shooter as this Islamic “other” who allows us to deny the queerphobia and racism inherent in American society.  This is the definition of homonationalism.

I think about my parents.  I watch Christopher Leinonen’s mother break down on camera about her then-missing son – who wound up dying alongside the partner he planned to spend the rest of his life with, Juan Ramon Guerrero.  I think of my own mother, who would stay up until 2 am every night I would go to Stonewall, one of the gay bars in Allentown.  How I would always tell her to get some sleep, that it was safe there.  How I wouldn’t tell her about that time some of my friends got beat up in the parking lot.  How I wouldn’t tell her about the sleazy straight cis men who would invade the space, operating on the periphery, pulling mine and other folks’ hips flush against theirs.

I think about the time when two white guys followed my then-girlfriend and I down the streets of Philadelphia’s “gayborhood” harassing us because we were holding hands.  How it took everything to not un-entangle our fingers.  How they later found us again sitting outside of a restaurant.  How my voice box stayed in stunned silence as they continued to hassle us until my girlfriend told them off.  Or the time at NYC Pride where I gave a homophobic guy the finger for touching my best friend and he said that he would shove his finger right up in me.  Or the times group of drunk and sober men have yelled out “are you a boy or a girl at me,” among other things.  There are too many times.

I think about how much privilege that I – as a white, able-bodied queer person – have to move through space.  How I can still look at the police station next door to Stonewall as more of a source of safety than another threat.  How unlike Kayden Clarke, the transman with Asperger Syndrome who was shot by the police in Arizona back in February, people readily understand my means of communication.  How I regularly face harassment and violence as a non-binary trans person, but it’s nowhere near the risk that transfeminine folks in my community face.

And at the same time, I’m still scared.

I’m scared to be at the queer spaces that once felt like sanctuary.  NYC Pride is next weekend and, while I usually admonish the event for being capitalist, I realize that I won’t be attending this year solely because I’m terrified.  I’m scared because what does it mean for the existence of queer people when our community spaces are turned into death grounds.

I am scared by the amount of Islamophobia that has emerged from this tragedy.  I am not denying that someone who followed radical Islam played a role in the massacre.  At the same time, however, people have no problem distinguishing that there are different practices of Christianity.  This allows us to identify groups like the Westboro Baptist Church as religious extremists that are not the “same” as the welcoming church down the street.  Yet, people are unable to not view Islam as a singular entity.  Islam becomes synonymous with terrorism, whereas in actuality, terrorism is perpetrated by anyone who instills fear in the bones of a community.  Islam becomes synonymous with queerphobia as though there are not a host of different Islamic beliefs and practices. That Islam, like all religions, is not a monologue. If we’re looking at liturgical custom, I can guarantee you after many years of Catholic education that I can find as many anti-gay and anti-trans statements in the Christian Bible as I can in the Quran.  And let us not for a moment forget that the Muslim queer community exists and is now dually mourning the loss of queer lives and the villainization of their religious beliefs.

I am scared to look the way I do.  Now more than ever, I cringe when I am addressed as “sir” and try to lower my voice in an attempt to pass.  I force myself into my regular gender presentation, but cannot helped but notice how much more I find myself surveying my surroundings.

I’m scared to put an anti-Donald Trump sign on my lawn.

Hell, I’m even scared of social media.  After getting into a dispute about Islam with a neo-Nazi on Twitter the other night, I quickly back-tracked, blocked the user, deleted the entire conversation, and set my account to private.  I know that’s probably paranoid.  At the same time, I’m scared of the number of likes and retweets Trump’s statements on the Pulse shooting have gotten.  I know that’s not being paranoid.

I am scared.  I am tired.  I am emotionally drained.  All of us are.  The only solace the past few days has been watching many queer communities band together – has been receiving and sending messages to queer friends and family in love and mourning.  In the midst of this tragedy, “prayers” are not consoling.  They cannot serve as a balm in a society that has been actively killing queers and people of color both explicitly and implicitly since its colonial inception (with justification for this marginalization, might I add, often rooted in Christianity).  Straight and cis people (especially white straight and cis people) – the best thing you can do right now is not give us prayers but instead to actively work for change.  Use your privilege to speak out against white supremacy, homophobia, and cis/heterosexism.  Research how what happened in Orlando wasn’t a fluke or an anomaly, but rather a highly visible manifestation of the systemic and inter-personal violence experienced by marginalized communities everyday.

This afternoon, my eighty-year-old grandfather picked me up for lunch. As we drove off to the restaurant, the first thing he said, face solemn, was, “What happened in Orlando.  Terrible.”  This conversation sounds different than our usual discussions of the news.  I know that my mother told him months ago that I was gay, but today I find myself hoping that with his fading memory, he’ll have forgotten.  I don’t want him to worry.

On Sunday, my 17-year-old brother walked into my room where I was curled up in bed.  He asked how I was doing.  He is a white, straight, cisgender boy.  Protective by nature, he always worries about my safety. He said if what was happening in Orlando was hard for him to deal with, he couldn’t imagine what I was going through. And then he invited me to play basketball with him.  As we bounced basketballs on the pavement in our front yard, we look at the Donald Trump sign on our neighbor’s lawn.  There aren’t enough words.

A Time of Madness

Having OCD at a time like this is overwhelming.

It is anxiety compounded by “magical thinking” that you know is illogical.

It clouds everything and consumes every thought.

Everything that is going on right now is taking an emotional, mental, and physical toll on everyone, regardless of their neurological anatomy(?) or physiology(?).

But it is times like these where I can understand that ability status certainly is not restricted to that which is physical.

To anyone who still supports Donald Trump

CW: historical and contemporary violence against marginalized communities, including racism, queerphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and sexual assault

Yesterday in one of my classes, regarding an article written by afro-pessimist Jared Sexton, we discussed rage. Rage in its purest form. Rage that is not even oriented towards revenge or even justice. Rage as release.

Having this discussion this week has been painfully applicable.

Before I write this, I want to acknowledge that so many of these knowledges come from others, particularly the scholarship of women of color. I am still not sure how to be accountable for that in the right ways, or how to write this without enacting different forms of epistemic colonialism. But at the bare minimum, I want to acknowledge where these truths are largely coming from and how it is problematic that they too often carry more weight when they come out of a white mouth.

Donald Trump has been inaugurated for just five full days. In this time, he has signed more executive orders – made more policy-related decisions – than anyone can keep track of. In my head, I imagine an assembly line of conservative politicians processing through the Oval Office, papers in hand, waiting for the many policies we’ve been fighting against for years to be signed. Simply signed. There’s no more governmental blocks – no Congress or Judiciary to act as a safeguard. The three branches of government are a sea of red and it is appropriate that this is the same color as blood.

Where is your outrage? Where is the anger towards the ways in which democracy is being vanquished in favor of totalitarian rule? Why do you no longer care about the “American values” you prize – the ones in your Holy Constitution that you carry around in your back pocket.

You are the ones that remove any lingering doubt that this empty rhetoric of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is lip service. You are the ones that confirm for the rest of us that American values are – and have always been – nothing more than hate.

This is the only explanation for a group of people who can love American history so much and simultaneously deny the rest of our screams at what is to come. It is only through hatred that our national history can be experienced as nostalgia.

I want to tell you to think of Internment Camps as Trump prepares to block refugees from Syria and to block the visa issues to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. I want you to think of drones – think of complete and total decimation. How this has been happening for years with no end in mind. I want you to think about civilians. I want you to think of holocaust.

And I want you to be reminded of that same Holocaust when you think of your white neighbor who draws swastikas on playground equipment. The neighbors who have been sending bomb threats to Jewish community centers nationwide. And how you, so proud of the defeat of Nazi Germany, now sit quietly.

I want you to think about people being dragged out of their homes, jobs, and schools by ICE. I want you to think about what that goddamn wall actually means. About families divided. About children torn from the only home they’ve ever known. I want you to think about the women who braided their hair together on the El Paso de Norte International bridge in protest in hopes that this could be stronger than chain-links. When you look at the White House website and see that it is no longer translated into Spanish, I want you to think about the English-Only movement and its attempt to eliminate a Chicanx consciousness and how this is another form of systemic erasure.

I want to tell you to think of Jim Crow Laws. To ask you to recognize that these policies may look very different today but that this racialized caste-system is nothing but the same. As you look at videos of Trump standing in front of President Lincoln (a man who only encouraged emancipation for its political convenience), I want you to think about of how mass incarceration, the school-to-prison pipeline, and police violence exist in the genealogy of the transatlantic slave trade. I want you to admit the real reason why you will never utter the phrase Black Lives Matter. Every time you have something to drink, I want you to think about the fact that Flint, Michigan has not had clean water in 1,007 days. Then I want you to remember that the GOP quietly closed an investigation to this case.

And while you’re thinking about water, I want you to think about Standing Rock. How fire hoses are blasting the bodies of Native Americans with ice cold water in below-freezing temperatures – the same sacred substance they are fighting so ardently to protect. When you’re sitting in your Christian Churches, I want you to think of the sanctity of spiritual spaces and the fact that the pipeline construction tears through these indigenous holy grounds. And then I want you to think about missionaries. I want you to learn what the word “boarding school” actually means. That assimilation is just as much genocide as the Trail of Tears. That our country doesn’t care about a group of people that we already consider long-gone.

As Trump continues to legally silence the Environmental Protection Agency and National Park Services, I can’t help but think about how we will not be able to care about the planet when it is long-gone.

I want you to think about how this rape of the planet is related to the penetration and exploitation of bodies that are feminized. I want you to remember that 1 in 4 cis women, 1 in 2 trans people, and 1 in 10 cis men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. I want you to know what it feels like to live with that kind of ticking time bomb in your mind. I want your blood to have run cold like it did for the survivors in your own family history when Trump talked about grabbing women by the pussy. I want you to realize the number of trans people, especially trans women, that have had their genitals manipulated by the state. I want you to know that when Trump endorsed sexual assault, I thought about the man who yelled that he would stick a finger up inside of me while I was at a Pride march. How I thought of the men who have thought that they could turn me cisgender and straight. How when I was thinking about Trump’s sexual entitlement, I thought about the boy who locked me in a bathroom when I was eight years old and forced me to look at his dick while he urinated. How he didn’t let me say no. I want you to know that there was never a time of innocence.

I want you to think about how the (gentrified) city that you are living in was built on the backbones of the bodies of people of color, especially women. That the birth of a nation was an excruciating and violent thing. That women of colors’ wombs have been emptied through forced sterilization long before white women began fighting for their own freedom of choice. When you put on your clothes in the morning, I want you to think of coat hanger abortions. I want you to know that this is what people will resort to with Trump’s gag-rule and HR-7.

As we dialogue about this in our own communities, I want you to think about how sexual health is not just a white cisgender women’s issue. I want you to visualize the impact of AIDS when you acknowledge that Pence defunded HIV-related care and gave those monies to groups involved in “conversion therapy.” I want you to stop telling me that you are my ally as you justify the legitimacy of a man who supports the use of electroshock therapy on queer folks to change us. As you tell us not to have the (legitimate) worry about benefits for same-sex couples going away, I want to scream that I don’t even care about marriage equality when last year there were 26 reported trans people murdered in the United States and that almost all of them were trans women of color. I want you to believe me when I say that violence has been increasing. That in November a group of men spray-painted the word “Trump” on a trans woman’s truck and set it on fire outside the house that she and her three-year-old daughter were inside. That three trans people were murdered in the U.S. within the first week of 2017.

I want you to stop denying all of the hate crimes committed in Trump’s name. I want you to recognize that taking away people’s healthcare is its own sort of violence. I want you to count the number of pre-existing conditions that there are, and I want you to think about what it means to be told that your physical body makes you less than human.

I want you to think about how in this country Black, Latin@, Native American, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, queer, disabled, and poor people are all less than human.

Writing this, I realize there are so many more things that I want you to think about – to consider a world outside of the experiences that you directly know.

But as I think about you and where you are coming from, I have to resign myself to the fact that at this point, I’m not sure if it even matters. That you are set in your ways and guided by a fantasy of the American Dream.

So I guess that leaves the rest of us.

What I know is that I am tired of being told to give things a chance. I am tired of being told to not be angry, devastated, or scared.

I am tired of being told to not be.

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