The Desire

The Desire

If you lay down your head and feel The Desire

It may be a for a few seconds or fall into a while

Know that even though it has lived inside so many of us

We are still strangers

Trying to fight each other’s desires

 

I have always felt like the freshman, like everyone around me already had their place and were just being polite; making room for me in a space that was already full. That with my addition would be cramped.

 

I haven’t felt much like pushing words out recently. Because that is exactly how they feel, pushed. My brain this year has been more than ever affected by my body. This brown boy walking. This brown boy living. This brown boy existing. This boy pushing. Trying to be a voice, but one that doesn’t push away or disrupt those in the positions of power of the places where I want to be to excavate my thoughts to the audiences that…who I hope that, need to hear me. I am that, I am that ellipses. Omitting words to ensure that I am not upsetting. Leaving them somewhere in the crevices of my own brain, so that I don’t have to shove them into the forefront of yours.

 

I am getting used to it.

 

Did you know that blankets can feel like concrete anchors; binding your body to a bed, already consumed with – covered by your tears, your anxious sweat, some crumbs from late night binging, and above all else your desire. No not sexual – The Desire. The Desire to get up and go off into the world. The Desire to answer a text, to return that call. To engage. It isn’t for lack of want, nor the lack of need, but it can get tricky. Tricky when the brain tells us it wants nothing more than to be alone; tricks us into thinking we are alone. Tricks us into saying our friends don’t really want us, that we are not needed. That we, “us” were just a fleeting moment in time. Add to that the fear of existing in this world as an other. Even worse, as a target.

 

You are alone with your concrete anchor and The Desire is taunting you.

 

How do we demolish the shadow that for many of us is ever present? It goes by many names,for some of us is it our actual self. We can treat some parts of the shadow with pills and substance. But there is no fulfillment. How can there be when the world itself is changing with you? For you?

 

You are filling a cup with tiny holes at the bottom. The stronger the substance the more rapid the water flows from the faucet , overwhelming the holes – and in that moment your glass is suddenly full. But you have never known fullness before. And it proves to be just as overwhelming as being entirely empty. You exist knowing that having far too little is exhausting; and having it all is something you are not worthy of. You walk a tightrope of understanding that it is your place, to always feel out of place. You are a freshman. We allow the faucet to get out of hand from time to time, and allow ourselves to feel excess but we know no limitations for the things we have never had, and won’t be able to hold on to, and so either  we or society decides to reduce the flow, and just like that our cup begins to drain. And just like that we are back to living with the shadow of The Desire.

 

I feel pain that you are gone. That he is gone. That she will be too. I feel, no, I am sorrow – a state that feels constant, familiar, and somehow like a friend harboring in an enemy.  Lingering in everyday life are the reminders of those who used to walk with us. A laugh that sounds too familiar. A hairstyle that you knew well. A story you’ve just read, a movie you want to see, a moment that would have instantly turned into an inside joke; but you take it in alone.

 

So, on those days, when the concrete anchor is on top of our chests. When the cup is all but fully drained. When we are lost in the memories that have brought us to this place. How do we, how do I get the words out to tell you? How do I dig into the crevices I possess, and give you a flashlight? How do I share with you that The Desire lives inside of me? That while I seem like a freshman, I have been here for so long. Purgatory that is fueling The Desire.

 

This brown boy is trying. While I watch so many of my brown skin folk dying.

 

Though we have been here for centuries. America treats us as freshman. So many firsts. Because we have never been given the chance before.

 

This trans boy is trying While so many of my brothers and sisters are being silenced by violence. The Desire of others and theirs as well.

 

Though we have been here forever. We were not always in view. And now our pride, our celebration of self, it is killing us.

 

My black life matters.

Her trans life – which is charged with the same heartbeat as yours.

It matters.

Maybe even more.

 

So we push out these words even though we are tired. Even though we fight The Desire. Even though we. are. so. tired.

We have made ourselves the brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and even the mothers and the fathers

that many of us have lost along the way.

 

If I breathe a day longer, I am fighting.

 

The Desire may take you, as it has taken so many. And if it does please know that we’ll miss you. But that we understand.

While the world never let you move past being a freshman; know that you were in fact a professor.

 

ca 1960 --- Segregated drinking fountain in use in the American South. Undated photograph. Sign reads "For colored only." --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

The Subtle Ways White People Say #AllLIVESMATTER Without Saying It At All

I talk a lot about how I wish that the white people in my life would do more. I call out white people daily. I speak of whiteness often, and I realize that I speak of it in the same way that some speak of an illness. Apparently, that makes some of the white people in my life uncomfortable; apparently I don’t care. Silence is violence. We say this as a constant reminder to our ally friends, that when they don’t speak out they are showing us that their fight doesn’t extend to action. It doesn’t leave comfortable conversations that happen behind closed doors.

 

I have spent years of my life listening to the “pain” of white people. I have lived a life amongst very loud white people. My family are white Jews from the Bronx and Long Island. My grandfather can grandstand for as long as you can tolerate his tone; about what being a Jew means. For years of my existence, I saw a Black person in the mirror, but I did not compute what my Black skin meant. My family history lessons were about my grandparents parents, about Bubbies and family recipes. About being called a kyke, wanting to change our last name so that it didn’t give way that we were Jews. Suffering was spoken of; but it wasn’t mine, it was theirs.

 

In listening to my family speak of their history for my formative years, I was numb to the violence of my own history. I adopted their pain. I adopted their past. I did so while feeling like an outcast to the other Jews I grew up with. I did not look like them, but our families looked the same; how could they know that on the playground? And to the Black kids? God I could not relate, and lord knows I didn’t know how to. I spoke like “a white girl”; and so by the default of elementary school law it was with them I hung-out with. I allowed years of letting comments like “you’re the whitest Black person I know” trickle off of me. In our youth those words were fairly harmless. We were not educated yet of how our system worked. We had not yet been filled with the words of Lorde, Als, and Baldwin.

 

On my grandfather’s patio last summer I sat and listened to him critique Between the World And Me. If only Black people could do as Jews had done. If only we could get it together enough to realize our worth. I sat there and realized how someone I loved, looked up to, and went to for advice was part of the problem. No, he wasn’t KKK racist, but he was #AllLivesMatter racist. The white person who reads Black works, is liberal in the voting booth, applauds that we finally have a Black president, but thinks that our system is just for all, that we all have access as long as we seek it. He is bound to the anchor of being a white man in America.
Is it dangerous for white people to raise black youth? In our classrooms, is it problematic for  white teachers to enter Black spaces and “educate” Black youth? Yes and no. And that is where I find myself. Constantly in the crosswinds of a world where those I love more than anything are the same people who I think are inherently fucked up. I can’t go home and cry about my fears of being Black without hearing about how similar that is to be scared as a Jew. My pain can not exist on its own. It has to be linked to the pain of white folks. And that is the plight of every POC in this country. Our pain can not exist on its own. And because of that #AllLives – will always matter in the U.S. Your pain can exist while mine does. 

Separately but equally.

Missing MySpace

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I was on Facebook the other day, and a feeling of frustration hit me. I was bored. Bored of the site, bored from the sameness of every one of my friend’s walls, bored of the algorithms in place pushing posts I didn’t care about to the top of my feed. Bored of the “trending news” topics that when compared to Twitter, seemed to be trending on Facebook and Facebook alone. I sighed remembering the pure excitement another site used to generate. That website of course, being MySpace. If you were a teenager in the 2000’s a massive chunk of your life was spent switching back and forth from AIM to MySpace.

I remember using third party search engines on the school computers, trying to beat firewalls so that I could check my MySpace inbox. We didn’t have smartphones then, making the hours at school feel truly feel endless. At home, online, there was an entire world waiting. A world our parents lived in fear of. “Don’t meet people off the Internet” seemed to be the sentiment heard out of the mouths of anyone of our parent’s generation. My dad would have probably died, had he known how strongly I ignored his warning. I had, met, and continued many relationships with tons of kids I’d met on MySpace.

Facebook feels like checking my Gmail. It feels like something necessary. It doesn’t feel like something special. MySpace was special. There were so many portals on MySpace, endless amounts of groups, endless amounts of profiles, numerous bands, and the freedom to do whatever you wanted to your profile. You could simply never outgrow MySpace, because it grew with you; you were the driving force of your experience.

As a young lesbian, MySpace provided an LGBTQ universe that was unfathomable in my suburban world. I had gay friends all over the world, I could flirt with girls openly, and talk to older queer folks about their experiences. The 2000’s was of course the time of The L Word, and there was no greater place to talk about the show then in the numerous groups devoted to the show on MySpace. I to this day still have friends that I met in The L Word forum.

All the creativity it seems, has gone to Tumblr. Ello tried, and failed to recreate the magic that MySpace had. Facebook feels like Craigslist. It exists. It works. But it lacks any form of creativity. No matter how much you put into either, they will still exist as the very 2D structures that they are.

I used to spend hours perfecting my profile on AIM, my away messages, and my MySpace. These I felt, were all extensions of myself. Similar to the clothes I wore, my online presence was a clear indicator of self. And at a time when my style could not reflect who I truly was, MySpace saved me. Hours were spent gossiping on AIM, subtle shade was thrown on your top 8, shout outs were made to those “worthy” on away messages. You got to choose where you sat in this online cafeteria. The person I was at school, was nothing like the proud, sometimes cocky, flirtatious lesbian I was on MySpace.

I came out on MySpace years before I did in person.

Lenovo just released their teaser commercial for their upcoming June launch of their newest phones. In it, a relic of every 20 somethings past is on full display; the Internet went crazy. And of course we did, The Razr was the phone of a generation. If Lenovo is indeed releasing a 2016 worthy version of The Razr, well I must say well played. We are a generation that lives for nostalgia. We were born at the odd time where the technology of yesterday was still holding on strong, yet rapid advancements were occurring it seemed every moment. We grew up using floppy discs, CD’s, and flash drives. I had a cassette player, a Walkman, an MP3 player, and finally an iPod. We were a generation of constant and fast adaption. And maybe because of that, we were it seemed almost nostalgic from the beginning. Our online profiles, playing homage to the things we loved, the celebrities we admired, the soundtracks of the moment, the people in our lives; they were one of the only things we were in control of.

The Way That We Live

This has been a long time coming. The L Word ended in 2009, so it has in fact taken me about 1,000 rewatches to get here, I wish I was exaggerating. The L Word fucked us all up. Whether it was creating grossly inaccurate expectations for living, to grossly inaccurate portrayals of how to relationship. We all walked away from the L Word thinking that we could cheat, lie, do all the drugs, and somehow live in gorgeous duds in LA with girlfriends and best friends who would love us anyway. Which ok, everything in moderation; but The L Word was everything in extreme excess. And yes, that is what t.v is for, except so much of The L Word felt real. It wasn’t so much like watching fantasy, for a young lesbian it was watching what could be. Which is why, it fucked us all so hard. Let’s explore how, character by character, The L Word totally screwed us all.

Bette – Let us start with the matriarch. Bette was The power dyke. Educated, strong willed, cultured, independent, fiercely loyal, and wealthy. In many ways she was a total inspiration, and someone not only to look up to, but aspire to be. But lord was she a tyrannical mess.

Masculinity and Double Standards – As we see often in life and on The L Word, “masculinity” is often used as a free pass to be, for lack of a better word: a jackass. As the main breadwinner in the house for years, and the one who did not carry Angelica, Bette was written as the “man”. Take for example when Tina was caught cheating, the world ended, she was ostracized from her friend group and seen as a confused bisexual who just couldn’t seem to make up her mind about her sexuality. Bette least we all forget was a serial cheater, and was allowed to be just that. She was allowed to throw tantrums when Tina challenged her power or questioned their relationship, but allowed Tina no such space. Granted Tina was far from perfect (we’ll get to that), but if we were to assess the one who had the most strikes in their relationship, in my opinion it would be Bette. Bette’s unwillingness to meet Tina on equal levels is on par with many heteronormative relationship structures. Tina should of course not be pardoned for her cheating, but it should be noted that when Tina strayed, it was for love, while when Bette did, it was for power; she fucked her TA for gods sake. Bette was always allowed the space to excel at work, even when she was fired she ended up on top. With the series ending with the viewer knowing she had a job waiting for her in New York. Bette was always wanted, where as Tina was constantly punished for being a strong femme.

Mixed race – So I really have never understood this aspect of Bette’s character. Mainly because the only time Bette ever felt the need to state that she was mixed, was when she was up against a wall. Being POC was never a full part of Bette’s life. It was a tool she used when all other tools were too weak to help her win an argument. It also linked her to the extremely problematic mess of a character that was Kit. That these two possibly grew up knowing each other seems like the most ridiculous stretch in the history of character plot lines. Kit’s world is one of Black stereotypes; while Bette’s is of higher education and elitism.

Responsibility and Accountability –  Lol. Much like a white male of privilege, Bette never seemed to be held accountable for her actions. I am a firm believer that she killed Jenny. She saw someone who was going to challenge the perfect life she had finally been able to create. A job, a wife, and a child. There was no way she was going to allow anyone, never mind a powerful femme to destroy that. She did what she had to do, and felt no remorse for it, because this is Bette’s world, and the sooner you understand that the easier it will be for all of us.

Jenny – Is apparently the shows main character, which is funny because usually the main character of a show is the most likeable. This is a good place to say that if you are a Jenny apologizer, you will not like one word I have to say about her, and should probably bypass this character assessment cuz like I hate her. Where to begin.

Self Centered – GOD HAVE YOU EVER ENCOUNTERED SOMEONE AS SELF ABSORBED AS JENNY SCHECTER? If you have I am terribly sorry for both you and your therapist. It is safe to say that everyone in Jenny’s life was there for her entertainment. And solely for her entertainment. In essentially every relationship Jenny is in, it is for her benefit or amusement. Funny how she admits her love for Shane, when every other person in her life has finally had enough of her. Jenny needs to be needed. Max was a fun project when they first met. Maura was new, she was different, and she needed guidance, much like all of Jenny’s lovers. Jenny wanted to date those she could sculpt and mold, because honestly if your life was together why the holy fuck would you date her? Nicki was a young and naive actress, trying to figure out her sexuality and where her power in this world lay. Shane, well Shane never grew past being a puppy. And the poor vet she dated. Jesus where to even begin with that storyline – Jenny killed a dog in order to get back at the author of a bad review. She killed. A dog. And then proceeded to string someone along who was feeling vulnerable and unloved in her relationship. Which leads right into her other biggest flaw:

Narcissist – There was literally nothing Jenny would not do to come out on top. From dog murder, to stealing the film of her movie, to screwing over every single one of her “best friends” in the last season. And the thing is, the reason it is so easy for me to outright and fully hate Schecter, is that she shows absolutely no remorse for her actions. None. Her last thought before death was probably: No great artist saw success during their lives. In death, I will become infamous.

Sexual Assault – The L Word handled Jenny’s childhood and sexual abuse, in the most confusing and matter of fact way. While it never specifically victim blamed, it did allude that because of her past Jenny was now this insanely fucked up human. There was no space for conversation, because we were shown her abuse in an almost fairytale like way. Other than flashback scenes, Jenny never addresses what happened to her, and how or why it has shaped the human she is. Much like with so many other important topics, the writers dropped the ball on what could have been an eye opening discussion on what sexual abuse during childhood continues to do to adults. By presenting her abuse in such a fantastical way the viewer never got the seriousness of how powerful and life changing sexual assault is. You instead saw a manic pixie dream girl with no concrete understanding of how much her assault shaped her life.

Shane – Where to even begin. Where oh where to even begin. I personally blame Shane’s character for creating a generation of non dateable humans. The L Word, was all many of us had. No other t.v. show or movie depicted LGBTQ life the way that The L Word did. These people seemed like they could be our friends, they seemed like who we wanted to grow up to be. Shane made a generation of lesbians and trans men into walking fuckable yet detached douche bags.

Past – Shane had a rough childhood. She went through foster care, and the system, and therefore did was she had to do to survive. Shane’s teenage years are probably the most relatable to many LGBTQ youth growing up today. Kicked out of their houses for who they are, and forced to grow up much too fast. Unfortunately Shane came out of all of that a sociopath. An often funny and loveable sociopath, but a sociopath all the same. The writers also never showed how Shane was able to escape the streets. All of a sudden you see a human who is admired by all, with a job, money, and women literally dropping their panties for her.

Relationships – Da worst. God, Shane you are the worst. The actual absolute worst. Shane was always dependant on her looks to get essentially everywhere and anywhere. While fucked up, Molly is the only person who points out that Shane basically has nothing to offer. Now it is of course insanely fucked up not to note that of course Shane lacked a strong educational background due to the fact Shane grew up devoid of the privilege. This is yet another area where the writers could have done so much more. What an amazing space to start the conversation about the lack of resources and education those in foster care have to deal with. So what the viewer is left with, is that someone who grew up tough is given the allowance to be a vacant partner, who is rightfully allowed to leave when things get too tough, because poor Shane.

Style – I blame you for my teenage bangs Shane. I. Blame. You.

Alice – A character that started extremely rough around the edges, led to being one of my favorite characters on the show. While she had her flaws, she was one of the only characters that actually felt human.

Bisexuality – The writers killed sexuality on many different occasions. With many characters, on the show that strayed from being lesbians their other “tastes” where either made fun of, villainized, or treated as phases. Alice was probably the most experimental of all cast members and stuck by her choices, even mistakes, strongly. Her because flaw came from the transphobia she directed towards Max. She speaks out against him being a part of Our Chart, only to then shoot a podcast with him apologizing. The problem is, the way this scene is shot makes the entire thing seem more like comedy than a genuine apology. For those who don’t remember, Alice invites Max to a sit down at The Planet, which she has Shane videotape. While a very serious dialogue is going on between her and Max, a very horny Shane uses the time behind camera to zoom in on various women at The Planet. What the viewer than see’s is a butch lesbian obsessing over female bodies, while a bisexual and a trans man discuss how they fit or don’t fit into lesbian spaces. Their voices are in the distance, why Shane’s antics are front and center, ruining what could have been a groundbreaking conversation.

Carmen – It’s funny, while Carmen will always stand out in my mind, she really wasn’t around for that long, and her character really was not super developed. Yes she was Shane’s partner, and yes for a hot second she was fucking Jenny. But we never really got a taste of who Carmen was. She was a piece of many pieces Shane would devour and dispose of.

Latina – The two (and maybe only) Latin American women on The L Word were stereotypes. Carmen was a beautiful, sassy, and domestic woman. Papi was a working class player. Neither was given much substance, while both were highly sexual, and essentially nothing more than bodies. Interestingly enough, while Papis stay on the show was shorter, I feel like we were given a bigger window into her character. She was introduced as a player, but after meeting Kit saw the possibility of partnership. Carmen always just felt like Shane’s hot girlfriend.

Femme – What the writers lacked in giving Carmen a true personality, they made up for by making her bat shit crazy. Shane is a monumental asshole of a cheating douche bag. Dating her would make you crazy. We got to see Carmen freak out at the thought that the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, was actually just loving her until she found someone better. Shane’s actions and Shane’s cheating were never really shown in the correct light. That light being, when you constantly fuck someone over, they usually get sick of you. Instead Carmen chose to go down the path of marriage. Everyone woman that entered Shane’s life set out to “change” her, and after Shane fucked up time and time again, the writers wrote these women to be CRAZY FEMMES. Shane always was presented in a fairly calm manner. Artistic even. While these women suffered at the hands of heteronormative limiting stereotypes.

Tina – Tina kind of makes me think of watching paint dry. She was second fiddle to Bette, and therefore had to be written as the whiny wife. She seemed to always just be waiting around for Bette to get her shit together. She was less patient than the women who entered Shane’s life. Bette was given ultimatums, and made to suffer numerous times.

Kit – Ugh. Why write a Black character if you aren’t willing to WRITE a Black character. Very similar to Max, Kit’s character failed miserably. She remained likeable throughout the entire series, and funny enough was one of the only characters to take Max’s transition seriously and with compassion.

Race – Dynamite! Oh Kit must be entering a scene. If there was 1970’s slang being heard, there most be a Black woman entering the pristinely white world of The L Word, I am not sure on what planet we were supposed to imagine Bette and Kit being sisters, but ok sure. Bette somehow got all of the benefits of being a white passing woman, while Kit struggled with: alcoholism, sexuality, cheating, abortion, menopause, a homophobic son, people constantly trying to ruin her business, falling in love with a drag queen, god what am I missing? While kudos I guess, to the writers for making her a successful businesswoman, all of the snarls for making her seem like an extra from What’s Happening. What’s interesting is Illene Chaiken The L Word’s creator, wrote The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and now writes Empire. She constantly writes Black roles, and for anyone that has watched Empire, writes them really fucking well. How unfortunate that Kit was not given the same treatment.

Max – Max was the FIRST trans person I had ever seen on television. And for years, the only. Too bad The L Word completely and utterly destroyed him. I could probably write an entire novel on how badly Max’s character was written, because honestly there were just so many cringe worthy moments.

Gender and Sexuality – There was never any time taken to talk about the differences between gender and sexuality, which becomes extremely dangerous when you have a trans character who first appears as a lesbian and then starts taking T and becomes attracted to men. And then becomes pregnant?!? It is 100% true that some trans men chose to carry babies, but without any form of background Max’s character becomes a circus act. For most of Max’s early screen time we have to hear Jenny bitch about how hard it is for her to be with someone who is transitioning. Which yes, of course, any huge life change that your partner goes through is going to affect you, but this is Jenny, so all attention and compassion is lost for Max. The viewer is forced to feel bad for her. Which honestly is harder than chewing on a bottle of broken glass under the boat slip in P-Town. While pregnant Max is presented as what I can literally only describe as an angry caveman. The viewer is not drawn to feeling sympathy for him, but instead is looking at a disheveled, angry, and whiny gay man. His relationship with Tom is violent and abusive. Again, as it did many times beforehand The L Word presents men in an unsatisfactory light. Please for a second sit back and tell me if you can name one man in the shows history who is shown in a celebratory manner. I’ll wait.

Work – The writers did address how at risk trans people are, to being fired at their bosses free will. This is probably the only good thing we are shown when it comes to Max. He deals with his boss and douchebag coworkers to his best ability, and leaves admirably. Unfortunately his life then begins to spin out of control.

*You will note that I left out a few characters:

Helena – While I loved Helena, her character is pretty much filler. She’s great and sexy, and has a completely un-relatable life. She is perfect for entertainment value. I like to think that she got rid of Dylan real quick and is back on an island with Dusty.

Ivan – Ivan clearly was on his way to transitioning, but the writers clearly were not ready to write for him. I like to think that he showed up at The Planet one day and whisked Kit away.

Jody – Probably the only person who gave Bette a run for her money. She also showed that someone with a disability was just as capable, fucked up, and brilliant as anyone else.

Dana and Tasha – Are both perfect humans and should only be referred to as such.

The L Word, shaped an entire generation of LGBTQ humans. For better or for worse it has become an intrinsic part of many of us. While flawed in many ways, it does live on as a groundbreaking show that can still be watched with the same esteem and emotion as when it first aired. That emotion mainly being:

Fuck Jenny.

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What We’re Made Of

Scrolling through my Facebook feed this Sunday I saw that many friends had posted the same article, the discussions occurring on each persons post could not have been more different. Responses were either overwhelmingly in support of the article or vehemently against it. “What Makes a Woman” I read, hm I thought. Sounds like this could be an interesting read. Seeing as the New York Times has been spotlighting transgender stories in a tremendously good light recently, I was excited to sink my teeth into what I thought would be a piece written in the same vein and supportive spirit.

Lol.

I was wrong.

From the consistent use of Caitlyn Jenner’s dead name to the use of TERF rhetoric, I was shocked that the Times felt this piece of gender policing and transphobia, was enlightened enough to take up the front page of the Sunday Style’s section. I’ve highlighted the parts of this disastrous piece that personally struck me the hardest. But in all honestly I could have just copy and pasted the entire article.

“Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.”

Transgender women are women. They are not almost and they are not half. If a trans woman is asking you to use female pronouns that is who she is: A female. Cis women do not have it easy in this world. There I said it, and as a staunch feminist I believe it to the core of my bones. But do you know who has it worse? Transgender individuals. I am sorry for every woman who has ever experienced work place harassment, there is no place for it and it is unacceptable. Many trans women won’t experience work place harassment, because many transwomen will never be employed. Transgender folks suffer from unemployment rates that are double that of the rest of society. The National Transgender Discrimination survey found that on top of that, “Ninety-seven percent (97%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job.” And: “Forty-seven percent (47%) had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion.” As far as the job market goes trans people are met with absolutely overwhelming discrimination.

Periods suck. We can all agree there. You know who they really suck for? Trans men. Getting your period unexpected leg is the absolute worse. Getting it unexpectedly while in men’s clothing is dangerous, for you’ve just been outed.

Rape. Rape is horrible, horrifying, life altering, and scarring. Rape is not something that only happens to cis women, and making a statement that alludes to that is erasure to those survivors who are not cis women. The National Center for Lesbian Rights states that 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault, where as 1 in 8 cis gendered women have.

“Let me get this right: The word “vagina” is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: “front hole” or “internal genitalia”?”

For trans men and those whose gender doesn’t fit into a nice compact box, genitalia is an extremely sensitive issue. While I was born with a vagina as I grew up and started to realize that my gender was different than that of the gender I had been assigned, I began to feel a distance from what I now simply call my bits. If you are personally proud to call your pee hole a vagina, by all means go for it. No trans or non binary person is demanding that cis individuals change their personal vocabulary. We are instead asking for changes to be made in spaces where we are directly affected.

“Women’s colleges are contorting themselves into knots to accommodate female students who consider themselves men, but usually not men who are living as women. Now these institutions, whose core mission is to cultivate female leaders, have student government and dormitory presidents who identify as males.”

This.

Because of how our society treats both gender and sexuality, many of us don’t have any space to discuss or explore those parts of our makeup until we are far away from our parents. College provides a space in which for the first time young adults are not only on their own but also being taught classes on subjects they never even knew existed. Many young women enter college straight and emerge LGBQ, with the same thought process should they be forced to stay the same? You enter college under the pretense and hope, to stay the same? When has that ever been the mindset attached to higher education?

Women’s colleges are ripe with budding feminists, feminists who (if they are the right kind) will be trans allies for life. In this welcoming environment, trans men feel safe in coming out. There experience in life until this point has been one lived in a female body. The safety and understanding that trans men are met with at women’s colleges is quite unique. If more schools offered the feminist mindset along with a trans friendly campus that had safety codes in place to protect trans students maybe trans individuals would feel comfortable applying elsewhere. Until that becomes a reality trans folks, much like everyone else, will go where we will be accepted.

“Women like me are not lost in false paradoxes; we were smashing binary views of male and female well before most Americans had ever heard the word “transgender” or used the word “binary” as an adjective. Because we did, and continue to do so, thousands of women once confined to jobs as secretaries, beauticians or flight attendants now work as welders, mechanics and pilots. It’s why our daughters play with trains and trucks as well as dolls, and why most of us feel free to wear skirts and heels on Tuesday and bluejeans on Friday.”

First of all, just because Americans hadn’t heard of transgender people, it by no means that trans folks didn’t exist. The media just didn’t deem us worthy to talk about. What I don’t think cis people grasp is that a trans man, even one who is presenting as a female is STILL a trans man. Catlyin Jenner was always a trans woman. Even in a tuxedo at one of her weddings the person underneath those clothes, they were transgender.

Secondly, trans women are not here to invalidate the progress the trailblazers of women’s rights have made. They are simply asking to not be left out. Transgender women do not pose a threat to, nor does their existence diminish, cis women or the feminist movement.

“If that’s the ultimate message of the mainstream of the trans community, we’ll happily, lovingly welcome them to the fight to create space for everyone to express him-, her- or, in gender neutral parlance, hir-self without being coerced by gendered expectations. But undermining women’s identities, and silencing, erasing or renaming our experiences, aren’t necessary to that struggle.”

I had no idea that there was a keeper to the keys of feminism, and in order to gain admission you had to be cleared. Feminists should “lovingly welcome” all transgender humans because of the simple fact that WE ARE HUMANS. Humans that are more likely than our cis peers to declare that we are feminists and speak out against misogyny and the patriarchy. Why? Because we have to continually explain ourselves. Because we have live a life in fear. Because we can still be fired for being out at work. Because we have a hire chance of committing suicide. Because we have spent our entire lives focusing on gender to a point that it at times it was all overwhelming, to a point where it was daunting and terrifying. Imagine coming to the realization that you were not he you were she. That you were not she but he. Imagine the fear of looking in the mirror and seeing an image that was entirely wrong. Women can uphold and cling to their identifies as much as they’d like, as should trans people.

“Bruce Jenner told Ms. Sawyer that what he looked forward to most in his transition was the chance to wear nail polish, not for a furtive, fugitive instant, but until it chips off. I want that for Bruce, now Caitlyn, too. But I also want her to remember: Nail polish does not a woman make.”

Makeup is marketed at women. Little girls sit and watch their mothers get ready, the sit and watch their favorite celebrities dolled up in music videos and on red carpets. At some point their curiosity reaches the point where they want to imitate what they’ve grown up seeing. And because they are little girls, and because society tells us that women are to wear makeup, that child is given the opportunity to play dress up. A transgender little girl, dressed in boys clothes, expected to have male heroes, and exude some form of masculinity does not have that same chance. She is he to the world, and unless that child has forward thinking liberally minded parents she will stay confined to being a he. Caitlyn never got to wear nail polish as a child. She never got to wear her mothers heels, or try different styles with her hair. She was confined to the body she was born into. And confined to the gender roles that go alongside it. Anyone who knows what it feels like to go without, can understand what it feels like to be her. To be Caitlyn and every other trans person.

You don’t get to decide who calls themselves a man or a woman. You don’t get to decide how that person presents or how that person lives their life. You wouldn’t want anyone doing that for you, why should transgender people be any different?

I’d Ask You To GO But We Never Invited You Anyway

Another day, another attack on Bruce Jenner.

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And this time from a magazine that prides itself on being for the LGBTQ community. Oh excuse me, for the lesbian community. I have come to expect ignorance and transphobia from the heteronormative and cis world; it always hits me harder when I see ignorance and hate coming from gay media. Transgender people, much like Black women, are often left out of the battles they fight for the hardest. For how many years did transgender people walk in PRIDE parades while having to be silent? How often are Black women left out of feminist conversations and recognition?

Let me be clear with my words: Transgender people are no more the punchline of jokes than lesbian, gay, or bisexuals. While I understand that the media is set up in this country for us all to be onlookers to celebrities and makes us feel entitled to knowing all of their secrets. There is a difference between knowing what whiskey George Clooney prefers, or say Kanye’s favorite designer of the moment or what leaf Gwyneth prefers to use this week as garnish to her spring salad. And hunting into someone’s gender or sexuality. The reason that there are so many LGBT suicides is because when we are silent we are bullied and when we are out we are bullied. There is no safe space. You are doing nothing more than being a bully when you feed into Bruce Jenner’s is he or isn’t she. If I see any posts on my timeline I will not only delete you but first deliver you a soliloquy fueled with such passion, anger, and pride that it will not only make your head spin but render you absolutely silent. The same silence that too many of us have to suffer with every day. 

How dare a gay publication make a mockery of someones struggle? By calling Bruce, Belinda there is complete lack of empathy and compassion, instead there is transphobia coated in humor. How disgusting.

I would call for a boycott of GO Magazine, but as they are a free publication run by dinosaurs who have become completely out of touch with the young queer community, I understand that is completely unnecessary. Much like the Chick Fil A’s and Rick Santorums of the world I will let the ignorance guide their already sinking ship directly into the iceberg of educated acceptance and humanity.

The transgender community has representation. We have allies. And we are better than being belittled on the Internet for means of cheap copy and horrible content. The words that you type online stay there forever. And while in your small community you may be affirmed or upheld for you hatred, those outside of your circles look at you with disgust.

If Bruce is trans and comes out I hope that if (s)he than chooses to change their name it is accepted and loved the way that (s)he and every other trans person deserves. How dare you take that away from someone.

A platform of power is a horrible thing to waste. It is a shame that GO Magazine has chosen to do so.

Monsters

What is a safe space? When you leave your house or the confines of blogs you are familiar with, how can you navigate through life entering spaces that will keep you, uplift you, and ultimately shield you in some way from anything bad happening to you? Be it physical, verbal, or in writing. The truth of the matter is you can’t. You can hope to be surrounded by people with decency and respect. You can hope to be surrounded by people who don’t see you as a target. People who though they might be strangers, would stick their necks out for you, in the event that something went wrong. People who pause before hitting send on a comment, reversing the words they have just written back onto themselves. Asking: Is this ok?

Isn’t that what humanity is?

Last week I was forced to question. I was forced to question safe spaces, feminist spaces, and internet decency. How to make a long story short? I was home in New York visiting friends and family, and had ultimately decided to have the time of my life. Because well, why not? I was homesick for New York, and planned on using my vacation there to visit all of my old dives, my favorite parties, see friends, and for lack of a better word: rage. So Friday night I did what I had done so many Friday nights in the past, I headed down to the west village with a bevy of friends to cut loose, and lose ourselves on the dance floor.

Monster is a west village institution. It is right across the street from the infamous Stonewall Inn. This corner of the west village is an epicenter for gay history and rights. It is my favorite street to walk down during PRIDE, and until last week was one of my favorite places in Manhattan.

For gay and queer people, finding spaces where we can literally just be has no doubt become easier and easier over the years, but that doesn’t mean that we still constantly have our guard up. Gay bars and queer parties are inherently meant to be spaces where the only thing you have to worry about is running into your ex. Monster has proven to be a gay bar that likes to handle it’s patrons like subway rats. Male bouncers, treating lesbians and trans* people like pieces of trash. I have both been a part of and heard countless stories about these men. Until last week these stories were flags they weren’t blockades. I have spent the past week trying to put that night into words. This is what has materialized:

To the girl on the floor at the bar we know well

I don’t know if you know what happened

After your body fell

My friends and I saw you laying there

Alone and asleep

Dancers were dancing around you

The DJ didn’t stop a beat

Amongst my friends we had a doctor

And those trained in CPR

You could have died there and no one would have cared

I guess a free party only gets you so far

We made a circle around you

And breathed life back into you

In the background the venue shook with music

The drinks continued to flow

With their illegal over pours

I asked the DJ to lower the music

So we could get some order

He told me that the music had to stay on

I turned to a bouncer

Who was standing over you looking onward while my friends did what they could do

He put his hands on me

And threw me aside

He did this while

Doing nothing to make sure you would survive

You should know that no staff member check on you

Until the EMT’s came it was your peers who tried to rescue you

You should know that the bar manager was twenty feet away serving drinks

He never stopped for a second to make sure your heart was still beating

He never bent down over you to see if you were in fact still breathing

He let your body shake to the beat

I wonder if you had been a white man

If the staff would have cleared out the dance floor

But upon seeing another black body laid out

They did what white people usually do in these moments

Ignore

You should know that the group of people that tried to save you

Are as diverse as could be

We have been attacked by the bouncers here

Based on who we are and what these men apparently see

Attacked both physically and mentally

They have made it clear that we are not welcome here

And after the other night

Showed us that even our lives are disposable

I do not know your name

There were no friends around to tell it

You fell alone

But please know that we did all that we could do

So that we would not lose you

I have had a heavy heart since that night. How can we make sure that the spaces we are in, the spaces we create as queer people, are spaces where we uphold each other? As I sat reeling from that evening another event was happening in my life. My good friend was throwing a 25th birthday party. One in which she was welcoming 60 queers to a strip club. I won’t use this space to talk about how I personally feel about strip clubs, I will instead present the series of events that ensued. After weeks of hilariously fun posts on the group event wall, we began to get serious about the fact a collective of lesbians and queer individuals would be entering a mostly cis space. A space dominated by cis men at that. Many conversations followed. How would we fit into this space? How would we as feminists act in this space? Was there a right way? There was definitely a wrong way. Let’s be responsible adults and talk about these things. This event wall is a safe space. It is a private, by invitation only space, these are our friends, we get each other. Who knew that our conversations would end up polarized by the public?

My friend throwing the party, decided to make a bullet point list of the conversations we had been having. In hopes of bringing forth both clarification and comfort. After the events that had happened the previous Friday, this space felt uplifting. No one in our party would be that girl. No one would have to deal with aggressive and insensitive security. How you ask? Because my friend went to the club prior to let them know about the diversity of this crowd. Their would be trans* people, there would be girls kissing girls not for sport but because of love, there would be straight men who were feminist. This was a different crowd than who would normally walk through those doors, and we wanted to be safe. Imagine our surprise when our very private conversation ended up on Jezebel:

http://jezebel.com/dont-be-an-idiot-at-the-strip-club-a-strippers-guide-1681793887?utm_campaign=socialflow_jezebel_facebook&utm_source=jezebel_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Jezebel has always been a place I have seen as an internet safe space. They even did a story on me after I did Barneys Spring Campaign. They were the women warriors of the internet. But just like Monster, they have fallen. They have become bullies, articles feel more like click bait, authors seem more like Regina George’s than Bell Hooks.

When I spoke to the bar manager at Monster he was more concerned with getting back to bartending. This was not managing, it was working for tips.

When I read the comments on Jezebel, the author was more concerned with generating “likes” on her post and making snide remarks. This was not journalism, it was a high school locker room.

I’m not sure if these events collide for you, as much as they do for me in my head. But both occurrences have made me realize that feminism is not inherently good. That feminism is not just a word you can slap on anything an empowered woman says. Because you write for a feminist blog, it does not mean your core is that of a someone who is both strong, and trying to create safe spaces for other women: for all women, no matter their race, class, or birth gender. With that said we must do everything we can not let feminism become a bad word. But how do we do that when some of the loudest “feminists” are actually just bullies that hide behind avatars on blogs?

I realized that just because a bar is historically gay, the people that work for it can not only be transphobic but strongly anti-woman. It is then imperative for the queer community to call out these spaces. It is our responsibility to demand fair treatment, even if that isn’t the popular rally cry. Even if you are then calling out a party you have frequented for years, thrown by one of your friends. Silence will not only destroy you personally, but your lack projection will destroy countless others. We can not speak in absolutes, we have to always leave room for others, you must always leave space otherwise there literally is no room for growth. And what is the point of living if you are not also growing?

*My friend responded to Jezebel on Medium and her words are well worth your time.

https://medium.com/gender-justice-feminism/what-happens-if-you-plan-a-strip-club-birthday-when-youre-a-lesbian-the-idiot-speaks-52121eee099c