TW: trans murders, trans violence, and this is not an optimistic post, this is me processing publicly
I mostly do not know what to write about Brandi’s murder other than that I am deeply disturbed by the lack of reaction and passivity of many of the people around me. Obviously the mainstream news is not going to report on this without a fucking uproar. Obviously the paramedics did not arrive on the scene until she had been dead for twenty minutes in the lap of an #OO medic. Obviously the institutions that consistently support and uplift the lifes of straight, cis, and white people would be silent on her death. But I am generally appalled by the lack of response and apparent lack of mourning on the behalf of so many people in my life. I am the only trans person who lives in my house, and I feel lucky that last night enough friends were over/staying with us that I was able to sit on my front porch with three other lovely trans folk and cry, and talk clearly and plainly about how much we hate cis people, how we are afraid of being able to survive, how there are no safe spaces for us — not even in our own bodies. I am becoming disallusioned with spending time with any cis people at all, because even when I think that they might “get” me, there are times when the only way I can feel any shreds of safety is to be only with other trans folks, preferably trans folks of color. I wish I had been at her memorial last night, but my friend’s check-in about their time at the memoria/vigil makes it sound like it was dominated by screaming white cis bros (gay and straight) who didn’t know Brandi at all.
I am devastated, I am mourning, I am not surprised. I am violently angry. I am terrified. Brandi was murdered blocks from where my partner and friends live. But it’s like, of course that terrifies us and of course that unsettles us from any small pieces of safety we may have begun to feel, but this happens everywhere. So are we just supposed to be terrified all the fucking time?
On Thursday night I was at an event in South Berkeley (2 blocks from the Oakland — Berkeley border) that was billed as an “intergenerational queer event” where older white cis lesbians — sparked by a question regarding the inclusion of trans women in women’s spaces — talked about how trans women and trans men (they had no scope of non-binary trans folks) are disgusting, repugnant, vile, hidden rapists. It was every tumblr radscum shouting match but in real life. I had a panic attack, almost vomited, and ran outside to chainsmoke and scream and all I could think of were the murders (and “suicides”) of trans women of color.
About fifteen minutes and four cigarettes later, an elderly white cis woman from our event walked outside, attempted to cross the street and was struck by a car. It was terrible, and gruesome. I am in no way diminishing this. I am not trying to connect the actions of the radscum at the event with this woman, because I have no idea who she is or what her politics are. I was deeply disturbed by the event and prayed for that woman and that she would survive. I watched her get struck by the car, ran to the corner, and stood around while every person around called 911 (my phone was dead or I would have called, too). Within literally no longer than two minutes there were three ambulances, a fire truck, and police from both Oakland and Berkeley on scene. Lots of police. Everyone was freaked out. I heard talks of people from our event wondering if the news was going to show up. Like, queer folks were actually genuinely hoping/curious that it would get written up in the papers, to hopefully “prevent” cars from speeding down Shattuck and hitting another person.
Two days later, when I am trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath of the event (it was organized by the non-profit I work for) a trans woman is shot and dies in Downtown Oakland, in the arms of an #OO medic, blocks from the fire station and the police station, after police walked away from her. I cannot stop processing these two events in tandem with each other. It is impossible for me to think about Brandi’s murder and not think about the reaction of the people in my house when we found out, the reaction of the queers on the street when that cis woman was hit by a car, the reaction of people when they heard the radscum talk about being disgusted by trans folks, and the institutional response on the behalf of paramedics and police in both occasions. I mean obviously, fuck the police, burn every cop… car, destroy every prison. I am not surprised it happened this way. I am just so jarred by the close proximity of these events in my life, am freaked out by having cis people in my life, and don’t know what to do next.
How are my partner or my friends supposed to feel safe in the places they live when feeling safe in our own bodies is such a fucking battle? How are we supposed to feel like any form of queer safe space exists, when so quickly we are told at “LGBTQI” events that we are the scum and “cis allies” just sort of hang around not saying anything? Like, really, how am I supposed to feel like having cis people in my life is something I want to try to do, at all, in any capacity? How are we to figure out strategies to survive/fight back/mourn/continue existing when so many people really just do not give a shit whether or not we are alive tomorrow?
Really, fuck everyone, die cis scum.
Rest in Power, Brandi.
I really like the fullmetalbitch’s comment about it sounding like ‘ascending’ to our genders.
I think ascension is a good alternative to ‘transition.’ And it couples with the sense of ‘becoming’ in genderescent very elegantly.
I feel like ascending has the same problems as transition, though. Because it still assumes that you are starting somewhere lower/not desired/not right to somewhere higher/desired/right. There is a hierarchy there. When I came out as gender non-conforming and started taking hormones, I wasn’t moving anywhere. My gender identity didn’t change (although my sexual identity sure did!) Sure, I felt much more comfortable in my body but me and my identity didn’t ascend anywhere. Just like me and my identity didn’t transition anywhere.
Does that make sense?
That makes perfect sense…
I’m still a bigger fan of ‘becoming.’ And I think you are quite right to point out a deep need to avoid these spatial metaphors that only end up re-enforcing hierarchies.
Personally I feel like the entire narrative of having to change to be not-cis is tired and white.
HOWEVER. I feel like a term that is inclusive WITHOUT the idea of transitioning to be trans can be added TO the term “trans” in case a PoC feels they are both.
Trans AND genderescent: a PoC who feels there is a transition and acknowledges a different gender
I share the same feelings as Riley. I’ve actually noticed with Transgender theory and the historical information about Sworn Virgins (which is the process of a woman becoming a man in Albania, and one of the only other European concepts of third or transitional genders I know of) ‘becoming’ is deeply woven into the concept. However I didn’t become anything (this also suggest a permanence that I don’t experience), there was no transition, and I didn’t come out, so to speak, I just was, I just am. While I understand that some went through a process, and do feel they are either/or, I think something more flexible would work. Hope that made sense.
I can see how ‘becoming’ is also problematic by emphasizing a particular kind of experience.
Looking it up again, I realize I’ve been emphasizing what speaks to me but this website says of the suffix -escent:
-escent [Latin -escens] Becoming, or being the thing indicated by the stem or prefix
So it actually could just mean the state of being your gender.
Which is good and very open/flexible to different kinds of experiences…
I am really beginning to love the flexibility inherent in the word, and the way it sounds and interacts with my synesthesia.
Genderescent: to be, or becoming and being simeoultaneously, our/one’s gender/s or lack thereof.
A LOT of white trans people and LGB call PoC cowards for not screaming about our queerness from the rooftops and those white people can quite frankly eat my ENTIRE nutsack with some rancid egg and lukewarm 10 year old heavy cream sauce.
another question here though, is why aren’t we pushing cissexist/heterosexist POC to get beyond their essentialism and bigotry?it is a vital part of the struggle for liberation, a vital part of decolonization. tolerance is always a fucked up, oppressive thing, wherever it is coming from. what QPOC deserve is acceptance, and openness. we should not have to hide at all, from racism or from cissexism and heterosexism within communitites of POC. i really am not in solidarity with POC who would in any way denigrate or question my gender or sexuality. i really am not in solidarity with POC who are not down for integrating the complex identities that are as much a part of me as my blackness, that are essential to how i experience oppression, how i experience my world.white privilege& classism often makes it seemingly impossible for there to be actual solidarity between queer people of color and white queer people; we need to make safe, nuturing spaces of our own as qpoc, but to do that we need to fight against our own internalized cissexism, heterosexism and classism and the cissexism, heterosexism & classism that is present in communities of color.
Not just participated in.
A sanctuary for us to discuss things relevant to our lives. Tumblr is a great interface at times, but sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. Their lackluster responses to hate speech and death threats lobbed towards PoC/Women/Queer/Trans*…
count me in.
so much of entering into queer relationships is knowing death, knowing that the dizzying swirl of life can crush you or your friend or your love like half-smoked cigarette at any time. we fight every moment of our lives and for some of us the fight is infinitely more difficult. our parents betray us; our straight friends never quite get it; race and class and ability all compound with such a particular weight that it’s hard to comprehend. woven into this is the threat of violence from inside and outside our bodies and the lack of responsibility that the world feels for sustaining the presence of queer bodies despite of how it relies on them for so much.
we pressure ourselves and pressure each other; sometimes to me it feels like we build our primary bridges into (gender)queer communities by arching our backs in bed, and that makes it so much harder for those of us with bodies and minds and personalities that are not the model of desire in our “communities” and even less so on the outside. i don’t get too mad about this though i find it frustrating; since a big component of our identities is centered around sex, it makes building communities in bed a pretty simple path.* but i love that the internet has opened up more avenues for building webs, allowed us to connect with other queer folks without that layer of it all (or at least without that layer of it all not being immediately important).
you know that this person across from you or on top of you or who you see through fiber optic flashes of information coming through your screen will some day teeter on the edge of a knife (maybe they are already). if life itself doesn’t get them, disease or lack of compassionate or even affordable health care might. we hold these truths in our hearts in all of our interactions but also pretend they don’t exist. it’s too much to constantly consider, and it’s not fair to always have it out there in our thoughts about someone. but far too often we are proven right.
last night i saw mark doty read a poem that he wrote when he was young, where he mourned the death of a snapping turtle killed in front of a liquor store which ended with him wishing the man in bed with him would never die. he wasn’t talking about immortality; he was talking about that underlying fear we all feel about those queer folks we love, that they will make it, that they can bear it, that we won’t have to watch them die. and it’s a fear we always feel for ourselves, too.
*essentially this paragraph means: why do i feel so lonely and isolated when i’m not having sex? and why do i still feel lonely and isolated when i am?
jose esteban munoz, cruising utopia: the then and there of queer futurity (via karaj)
Far too often, the narratives of small town and rural LGBT life have taken a back seat to the vision of urban queerness, in cities where spaces of acceptance, community, and organization are much more accessible. Those of us who grew up or currently live in small towns frequently do not have access to the same level of resources, organization, and community. Our stories, our difficulties, are often met with dismissive attitudes by our urban counterparts, who assure us that once we leave and make it to the city life will be different. What about those of us for whom such an exodus isn’t financially, socially, or otherwise materially accessible? What do we do? How do we organize? How do we ensure that we not only create a space and change for ourselves but for the next generation?
Let’s talk about it. Let’s share our stories, our strategies, our histories, our hopes for the future. Let’s talk about the ways that the urban vision of queer life doesn’t fit us, and about the ways that maybe we don’t want it to fit.
We’re Queer Out Here is a submission based Tumblr created specifically to highlight the stories and experiences of rural and small town lesbian, gay, bisexual/pansexual, transgender, and genderqueer people. No matter where your small town or rural community is in the world, your story, your voice, and your experience matters and we want to hear from you.