b. binaohan

What Happened to the Blogger Formerly Known as Biyuti?

biyuti is me. lol.

nothing happened to biyuti… i just changed my tumblr url (and my blog url) as ppl do…

of course, there was a reason for this. and a good one!

knowing that there are still some people who followed the old tumblr, but didn’t migrate with me to the new tumblr and so don’t know that i’m still around…

here is some explanations for ‘why’

first. biyuti publishing. i started bp as a vanity press to publish and try to make money from all the content i produce on the web (for free). i have zero interest in mainstream publishing for a lot of reasons that i won’t get into.

but. as soon as I started bp, something amazing happened…. a bunch of twoc i know contacted me and wanted to publish their work. and it has sort of snowballed from there.

out of a desire to be pretentious (yes, this really was my intention when i did it bc i find myself funny like that), i decided that my official pen name would be ‘b. binaohan’. the ‘b’ = biyuti. that is what the initial is for.

this turned out to be a smart and good thing when i realized that if bp was going be something OTHER THAN a vanity press, the ‘brand’ needed to be less about me as a person. now. there were really only two ways to move forward: change the name of the press or change my own name/brand.1 i opted for option two, since my own pen name already ellided the ‘biyut’ and it’d be easy enough for me to change my own social media URLs to ‘b. binaohan’ (or some variation). which is what i did…

i did this bc i want ppl to see ‘biyuti publishing’ as a distinct entity from me. so that the other people who publish there aren’t tainted by association with me (insofar as this is a thing). while i’m def. not the most ‘hated’ blogger out there, i do have my share of haters. but hate is transitive and i didn’t want this harming the other ppl who publish at bp.

but why didn’t i just change my tumblr url instead of deleting the tumblr and making another?

well… in part bc i got called out for anti-Blackness and i felt that one way to be accountable was to walk away from the ‘platform’ i’d built for myself, in large part bc of my relationship to many Black ppl. i did this not bc anyone asked me to, but bc i felt it was important for me to remain committed to the notion that people are more important than platforms. if my blogging is quality, then ppl will find and follow me again. or not.

but also bc i had ‘biyuti’ as my main account and really want to make it a secondary account to put some distance between me and the notifications, something i can get obsessive and anxious about. it was becoming really unhealthy for me.

so yeah.

  1. yes, talking about ppl as ‘brands’ or even talking about marketing in general makes me gag a little but, sadly, in capitalism these sorts of things are important.

Omg Julia Serano Responded to One of My Excerpts

holy shitballs. julia serano blogged a response to what she calls a ‘meme’ (but never identifies, what, exactly the meme is) and links to this excerpt from my critical commentary as the possible source for it….

Oh. sorry. i’m looking at her post again and this is the meme:

However, in the last two weeks, I have stumbled across numerous instances where people have accused me of claiming that two-spirit and other indigenous non-binary-identified people “reinforce the gender binary.”

unsurprinsingly, she totally and utterly misses the point. her attachment to the notion that ‘reinforcing’ necessarily fits into a model of ‘radicalness’ within the community is part of the problem. one of the few points, as it happens, where i agree with her is that demarcating certain identities within teh trans community as transgressive/radical vs conservative/reactionary.1

and u can see she utterly misses the point with the title of her post “nobody reinforces the gender binary & nobody subverts it either” which is a flat out misrepresentation of what the binary is. but this isn’t a surprise since one of the things she doesn’t dispute about my critique is that she things the binary is a real and natural part of the world. thus, being natural, it isn’t actually influenced (on way or another) by human actions.2

just so that she can stop being confused about the language, notice how i never use ‘enforce’ or ‘reinforce’ in that excerpt?

i’m not really talking about that. the thrust of the critique is that she frames iaopoc genders as reifying the binary, which is a different matter altogether.

so. whatever. i’m still super amused that she responded to something i wrote.

i wonder if i’ll get another blog post after i publish my critical commentary…

  1. of late, the problem appears to be that lesbian trans women are being framed as naturally more radical/transgressive than straight ones (or those of us who date men).

  2. her notion of the ‘natural binary’ is grounded in biology since she is, in case anyone has forgotten, a biological essentialist.

Patreon Post 2: On My High-tech Twitter Setup

One of my patrons asked about my ‘high-tech’ twitter setup which is kind of interesting to me, since this actually would qualify as a low-tech setup since it is a command line program (written in Python). My main twitter client is turses. Which is a commandline client that actually has a ncurses UI, which is sort of graphic? Idk. Here is what it looks like:

I think I remember implementing some personal changes to the colors and stuff, but I can’t remember anymore. It has a column type system that will be familiar to anyone whose ever used tweetdeck, which is a ‘power user’ web client run by twitter and is really the web interface ppl ought to use (over the default twitter.com one, which I find confusing and irritating, but YMMV).

You navigate the interface using classic vim commands (‘j’ to scroll down, ‘k’ to scroll up, etc.).

Why do I like this better than other commandline twitter clients? Well… because it actually lets you browse your timeline. Most other CLI twitter clients tend to have commands to pull the most recent n tweets from your timeline. Which… doesn’t really work well if this is your primary twitter client (I think many CLI clients are written as supplementary clients for some GUI).

But… then this gets into a whole other question: why the fuck am I even using a CLI client for twitter in the first place????

Well. I like the commandline better. Not necessarily because I think it is more ~powerful~ or whatever. While this is true to an extent there are many things where using a GUI is just easier. It really depends on the task. However, given how my neurology doesn’t really process visual images all that readily or well, I have a strong preference for text environments. They make sense to me and they allow me to interface with the computer in a way that actually works, rather than confuses.

Which really means that I’m unlikely to ever stop being a avid linux user, since doing CLI type stuff on linux is much better than either OSX or Windows.1

Er… I also like the turses (or other CLI twitter clients) because posting is FAST. I mean. I’m sure people have noticed how quickly I can do my updates. This is really enabled by being able to just post using a few easy keyboards commands.

Um… I think this is it? Not sure if this’ll be satisfying but I hope that it is.

  1. Yes, I get that OSX is a posix variant and it should be the same but I can’t fucking stand how expensive their computers are and I really REALLY fucking hate the graphic environment now. Anything past 10.6 is shit and I don’t like it, lol. I’m poor and using linux works well for me, even if some things in my life would be easier with a mac (like not having to dual boot, even though the last time I did have a mac, I put linux on it, which is what finally conviced me to make the switch to linux as my primary OS).

The State Assigns Sex at Birth

My brain is still thinking about this ask I got yesterday about asab beyond whiteness and I realize that I want to develop or more fully articulate that point about asab (assigning sex at birth) as a mechanism for state population control.

At this point, I’m assuming that most people will have accepted the proposition that sex and gender are both social constructions. I’m not going to get into that debate. One of the reasons a lot of people still think that sex has some real ontological force behind it is this notion that it is grounded in biology and, thus, grounded in our embodied selves. As in, sex is real insofar as our bodies are real. And since most (but not all) people are willing to admit that our bodies do, in actual fact, exist so too must sex. And since sex is a real thing, then it can be understood and known. But it is also stable and, for the most part, unchanging.

So goes the folk understanding of sex and biology and the ontology therein.

Of course, the problem, for me, is that getting into the biology or even the sociology of this is somewhat besides the point. Because for all that, yes it is doctors who assign people a sex a birth, the purpose behind these assignations aren’t medical but political. And as a political artifact birth certificates are a fairly new and modern invention that cannot be and should not be generalized to all peoples everywhere in an ahistorical fashion. Not when it serves a specific, political purpose.

If you want to know how recent an invention birth certificates are, you only need to look at the current attempt to disenfranchise Black voters in the US with identification laws. There are living Black elders who have become disenfranchised voters because they weren’t issued birth certificates and, thus, have a great deal of trouble properly identifying themselves to the state.

Think about what birth certificates are: they are documents that every person — born within states that have them (which, by this point is most of them) — must have for the purposes of identification. This is, afterall, your first piece of state identification. It is often one of the most important, as it is generally needed (at least in Canada and the US) to prove your citizenship which grants you access to a passport and other important things.

Birth certificates are all about population control because they are one way for the government to know whenever any new baby appears within their jurisdiction. And once you are identified by the state, you are already immediately subject to its control.

But the thing about this, is that these documents need to contain enough information so as to uniquely identify every single living person within the government’s jurisdiction. There can be no room for ambiguity. And so your birth certificate is intended to capture certain unchanging facts about you that can allow the state to uniquely identify you. Facts like your name, place of birth, date of birth, and your sex.

And while you can change your name, the process is quite labourious and requires that you get a new birth certificate because, again, this document records unchanging facts. You can usually only change the other parts if you want to correct an error (spelling mistakes with names and whatever). For quite some time and still in many places, it is impossible to change your sex marker. Literally impossible. Doesn’t matter what doctors you’ve seen, what surgeries you’ve had, this is understood as an unchangeable biological fact1.

All of this? Is a really new and modern convention. It isn’t even a hundred years old for fuck’s sake.

So the question about how indigenous gender systems handled ‘asab’ is… off the mark. We can look into how they handled gender. How they might’ve sorted people into certain expected gender roles. All of this, but we can’t really ask about how they assigned a sex at birth without really invoking this modern context of biology and state policy, which provides a framework where assigning as sex at birth is coherent in the first place. Essentially, it is an incoherent question to ask about indigenous gender systems and asab without any clear prior exposition of the contect of the systems themselves.

  1. One of the tactics some trans activists are taking re: birth certificates and sex markers is to get the thing removed entirely, since it is actually needed for the purposes of identification anymore. Not when everything is computerized and we all have a constilation of numerical identifiers that are unique to us alone.

The Context of Race

As I continue on my re-reading of Orientalism by Said, as well as further studies on the history of racism, the more and more it strikes me how much modern discourse on race has… ellided the historical context of racism — as system — for reasons of expediency and economy. And, when talking about the ‘discourse of racism’ I really mean anti-racist discourse, not popular discourse. Popular discourse mainly serves to erase nuance and context in the aims of white liberal notions of ‘equality’ and other such bullshit. Anti-racist discourse has aspirations towards a nuanced, contextualized discourse directed towards liberation. And yet… really digging into the history of racism reveals certain compromises and ellisions in these claims to nuance.

The main one is this general lack of the history from a white perspective. Anti-racist discourse is at its most successful when it focuses on the oppression of the people subjugated and harmed by racism. This is an important step, since we are in the age of teh Dictionary Definition of Racism, used by many a white person as an authority about what racism is and how it functions. And, yes, centering the experiences of people harmed by racism matters a great deal for resisting racism and working towards dismantling it.

One surprising thing I’ve experienced, whenever I discuss the history of racism, is an amazing amount of pushback from people who are committed to anti-racist liberation. It is actually this pushback that led me to start reading primary sources on scientific racism because, in general, people have largely claimed that I’m making this stuff up (or misrepresenting the situation). So, I figured I’d play into academic-normative standards of discourse and begin doing ‘real’ research so that I can reference this material as ‘evidence’ that racism is a historically bounded ideology. An ideology created to serve certain material and historical purposes and an ideology that became institutionalized into the system we have today.

And so I began to talk about this sort of stuff on twitter, my tumblr, and this blog.

And immediately I receive pushback of an interesting kind.

The first one was both a question and an observation that netted me this anon on tumblr. Which, while true — since I don’t get an opinon on how Indigenous ppls in the Americas talk about their oppression — seems a bit strange to me. At the basis of my observation is two things: first, that the contemporary discourse on settler-colonialism I’ve seen focuses heavily on Indigenous genocide as an almost by-product of the need to acquire land and that settler-colonialism/Indigeneity ought not to be reduced to simply ‘racism’ (with some explicity claims that anti-racist discourse erases Indigenous American struggles by making Indigenous American ppls just another marginalized ‘race’ when their historical and geographic struggle is more than just race); second, that scientific racism does, indeed, assign both a race and colour to the Indigenous ppls of the Americas (both North and South). Moreover, we can see from history and the way that scientific racism formed the justification for colonialism (settler and otherwise) and also quickly became entrenched in legal and political institutions, it seems odd to me that the suggestion that Indigenous peoples in the Americas were, historically, targetted because of race would engender such a reaction.

Like, if we look at one of the most harmful (if more subtle) instantiations of scientific racism in governance, eugenics, we quickly see that the Indigenous peoples of America were targetted as physical, material human beings. Their bodies, as much as their lands, were the focus of the settler government. It feels like, to me, the notion that the Indigenous peoples of America being oppressed and targetted for genocide as people rather than as (perceived) by-product of a need for land shouldn’t really be… a dire imposition on current discourse, especially since I’m mainly making an historical claim.

The other example, which came as no surprise to me, is mentioning the scientific classification of Jewish people as white in the post. Literally as soon as I articulated this, I had people jumping on me to say “There are Jewish people of colour!”. Which, of course, is not really relevant when discussing the bounded, historical creation of scientific racism. Part of this, I suppose, is my fault for failing to mention that Jewish people — in scientific racism — do not belong to their own racial category. Rather, they are often lumped in with Arabs — the so-called ‘Semitic’ race. And, despite repeatedly mentioning that race — as science and ideology — is reductive, people still seem to think that discussing claims made by crusty, white Germen men in the 1800s is that same as me asserting their truth. Literally the whole point of racism is that it reduces a vast diversity of people (the entire GLOBE) into three-to-five races and into stereotypical and distorted essential characteristics.

This is one of the principle functions of race. And this function exists because reducing the vast plurality of peoples makes them easier to govern/control/subjugate. It makes developing ‘foreign’ policy really easy. Rather than trying to understand the difference between, say Persians and Arabs, white people can just say they are white Orientals and work from there. Race is how the vast French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese empires were able to govern so many different kinds of people without too much effort on their part. They didn’t have to learn about each individual ethnicity and culture they were trying to subjugate, they simply had to refer to a white-created system of classification that they could use as short-hand for ‘understanding’ the people they controlled. And so they only need one kind of policy or attitude towards colonies in the Americas, one kind of attitude towards colonies in Africa, one kind of attitude towards colonies in Asia.

‘Reductionism’ is erasure. Pure and simple. Race is a reductionist ideology that requires the erasure of nuance and context for individual cultures and peoples. It is literally the entire purpose of the thing.

And, one thing that this research into the history of racism is making clear to me is that this reductionism tends to work at the ideological level as well, not just amongst people.

This is, I believe, why racism/anti-racism has been rejected by some contemporary Indigenous American thinkers. Because the criticism that framing Indigenous peoples as just another ‘marginalized race’ erases the specificity of their struggle against settler colonialism is entirely apt and appropriate. It does do this by virtue of the reductionist function of the discourse.

It also, I believe, explains some of the claims I see from Jewish people about anti-Semitism. I occassionally see claims that appear to reduce anti-Semitism to just another kind of racism, something that strikes me as odd and ahistorical. From every indication I can see, anti-Semitism predates racism as a discourse. This means that it exists independently from racism, rather than as a sub-discourse within it. Thus, claims made by Jewish people that anti-Semitism is a unique articulation of oppression that must be resisted as a distinct axis of oppression is entirely true.

I’m bringing out these two examples because they seem to be on opposite poles. One appears to disavow or diminish the relevance of racism to their experience of oppression and the other appears to over-endow the importance of racism to their experience of oppression. However, both appear to have lost track of the fact that racism, as ideology, is itself a bounded, historical occurrence — rather than a stable domain of reference.

Scientific Racism, Eugenics, and Modern Race Discourse

Recently I’ve been delving into the history of scientific racism and eugenics. This includes not only reading critical historical accounts but also reading some primary sources (note: mega trigger warning for the links to primary sources. This is pure, undiluted white supremacy). Sources like johann blumenbach’s on the natural varieties of mankind or Francis Galton’s inquiries into human faculty and its development.

Blumenbach is one of the central figures in scientific racism (also one of the ‘fathers’ of anthropology) as he is generally credited with putting forward the ‘Caucasian’ race that, obviously, became so popular that it remains a common way to refer to white people today. He also also noteworthy for advancing a five race theory: Caucasian/white, Yellow, Red (Indigenous american — both south and north), Brown/Malay, and Black. Interestingly, he supported a monogenisis theory where all people descended from a white Adam and Eve. And from this white source, the race degenerated into two extremes: Black and Yellow. The intermediary stages between white and Black is the Brown/Malay race and between white and Yellow is the Red/American race. While, yes, historically, there have been other race theories and pretty much no one is really agreed on the number (some have three, four, five, six, or seven).

Galton is actually the person who made ‘eugenics’ into a word and science. Literally. Eugenics was his proposal for a ‘kinder’ genocide that direct violence (this is something he more or less says outright. In many ways, eugenics is a natural consequence of scientific racism. But the way eugenics played out in the real world does heavily rely on the work of people like Blumenbach.

One of the interesting aspects of scientific racism as created by Blumenbach is seeing the actual scope of ‘caucasian’. The scope of caucasian/white is Europe (minus the Saami), the Middle East, North Africa, the Meditteranian, and West Asia. However, within white there are sub-races who were not considered equal. This is what gave rise to ‘Nordicism’, which is the idea that the europeans of west and north are the pinaccle of whiteness with the other white sub-races like Southern Europeans or Jewish people being ‘degenerate’ or ‘inferior’ white people.

One of the interesting conclusions we can draw from this is that, contrary to what is an axiom of anti-racist of today, white people can experience racism and certainly did historically. This is if we use the common definition of racism as ‘power + prejudice’. Since one only needs to look at the history of anti-Semitism to see that there was prejudice and institutional power enforcing this prejudice.

However, as is also common these days, you’ll see white ethnics disavow whiteness because of their historical and current experiences of racism. Except that this is also an error based on the science of racism. White ethnics are white. They are inferior whites, which is why they experience discrimination but this doesn’t actually mean that the were or are ‘not-white’ as many claim. This is often the argument put forward by that irritating book how the irish became white, which relies on an ahistorical conception of race to claim that at some past point the irish weren’t white and then became so… even as they were always considered white by other white people. Inferior white is still white.

One of the things that becomes clear when you look at this, is that white supremacy cannot be reduced to racism. They are intimately and closely connected, but they are not the same thing. And, if you’ve been listening to Black people (and/or Indigenous people), this notion shouldn’t be a surprise. Anti-Blackness, as theory, consistently makes the claim that whiteness (and white supremacy) is grounded in the unhumanity of Black people1. Rather, we can see that racism, as a tool for justifying and rationalising colonialism, is also a tool of white supremacy, but it is not identical.

White supremacy explains how and why ethnic whites still are privileged by white supremacy even as they can be oppressed racially. This structural privileging can be seen when european scientific racism finds institutional and legal form in US foreign policy.

All those people labelled as Caucasian (with the exception of the visually Others, like South Asians) were able to voluntarily immigrate to the US as ‘free white people’. They were able to be naturalized as citizens of the US (pretty much right away with some exceptions with early Sephardic Jewish settlers). They could vote. They could marry the ‘superior’ Nordic whites — even if it was frowned upon. They could own (stolen) land. They could own enslaved Africans (and descendents).

These last two ‘privileges’ of white supremacy are pretty key and essential for truly understanding who was and is white. Because white supremacy, as noted earlier, is defined by the fungible Black body, as well as the ability to settle on stolen land.

If you look at the history of every non-white group, these privileges were not granted immediately and without contestation. Yes, some Indigenous nations owned slaves but they also could not become citizens for a very long time (and were/are the targets of genocide and land theft). Asian settlers likewise couldn’t vote or become citizens (and there doesn’t seem to be any easily found evidence that Asians in the US ever owned enslaved Black people).

Of course, at this point, I imagine that white europeans (esp. ethnic whites) are starting to complain about the US-centrism of this analysis of white supremacy. But this is a mistake. Understanding how the US implemented European scientific racism is actually super important for understanding the history of eugenics. But also because the way that the US distilled certain aspects of race, when it came to settlement, impacted race relations back in Europe.

Significantly the way that race, today, has become (as I said on twitter twice yesterday) more reductionist and less complex.

One of the interesting things about reading primary sources on scientific racism is seeing the way that colour really was just one generalized trait of races. But it was not the defining or essential quality. We can see this quite clearly in the formulation of the caucasian race since it encompassed South Asians who can get quite dark skinned. Today, however, we’ve actually essentialized skin colour far more than it was when racism was being formulized into a science. Certainly, we don’t rely on skin colour alone for racial classification, but it we weigh it far more importantly than at any earlier point in history2. This is what I mean that race has become even more reductionist. Similarly, we can see that the Yellow and Brown races have been collapsed into one category, Asian.

I don’t really have much…. specific purpose in writing this. I mean. I have thoughts and feelings about the implications of all of this but I probably need more time to really get them together into something I can coherently articulate.

I really don’t expect that this post or explorations will have much of an impact on current discourse on race and white supremacy (but more race). This is largely due to the difficulty of having really nuanced discussions about this sort of thing. Because… I have no doubts that some shitty white people will see the earlier claim that, yes, some white people do experience racism as a clear sign that any given white person can claim to experience it. Or to remove the historical and geographical context for this articulation and apply it everywhere and everywhen. All as ways to derail productive conversations about resisting racism. Also as a way to dodge accountability.

Likewise, amongst iaopoc this insight about the non-identity of white supremacy and racism means having truly honest, involved discussions about anti-Blackness (for those of us who aren’t Black) and settler colonialism (if we are settlers). Since the insight that white supremacy is a structuring force that uses but is not equivalent to racism requires truly grappling with the notion that anti-racism is not enough to dismantle white supremacy.

  1. ‘Unhumanity’ isn’t a typo. Many people will write ‘inhumanity’ but this erases the specificity of the ontological condition of Black people and Blackness. Non-Black people of colour are regularly considered inhuman, but this still structurally privileges us over Black people who are unhuman — as in their humanity was and is never possible in white supremacy.

  2. Also interesting to note is how only two colours really remain as common referents to race: Black and white. I have ideas as to why this might be… but I’m not sharing them at this point.

Patreon Post 1: On My Writing Process

So the first topic requested for my weekly Patreon post (as in the posts I’ll write on topics suggested by my patrons since I met my first funding goal) was about my writing process and my thoughts on writing as a creative activity (or aspect of creativity).

Which is kind of an interesting/difficult question for me for various reasons.

First. My writing process depends on what I’m writing (to an extent). One thing that is indendent of the form of writing is that I need to be inspired. Or that I need inspiration (this, I suppose also begins to answer the notion of creativity). One of the things that I do is read a fair bit of stuff online. Stuff I read from tumblr, twitter, RSS news feeds, and whatever else. Pretty much all of my various incidental blog posts, tumblr posts, and twitter updates are usually inspired by reactions I have to things that I read. This also holds somewhat true for my books and stuff. You’ll note that decolonizing trans/gender 101 refers constantly back to Teich’s book. This is also true for the critical commentary on whipping girl.

For whatever reason, I seem to work best in reaction to stuff.

That said… I react to a lot of stuff I don’t write about. So the next step is deciding whether or not a certain thing is worth writing about. Medium has an impact here since it is easy to fire off a few tweets about something (or a short tumblr post) but I usually try ot post more substantive posts here (on my main blog). A substantive post for me is anything more than about 500 words.

The first thing I try and decide about is whether or not I’ve already written about a topic. Sadly, the longer you spend involved in various discourses the more you see just how slowly some of the ideas can change. How entrenched certain conceptions are. And so if you have a four year old blog with over 700 (substantive) posts (like this one), it becomes pretty easy to repeat yourself over and over again. And I fucking hate repeating myself. So, often, if I’ve written on a topic before and my ideas haven’t substantively changed since the last time I wrote about it, I usually don’t bother to write another post.

However, this really depends on how irritated (or passionate) I am about a certain thing. Like, yesterday (for example) I wrote another post about how the irish were always white, despite already writing a post on this about a year ago. On a topic like this, it is hard for me to pass it by without comment because these sorts of ideas are really harmful but they also tend to be circulated widely. And it is also ideas like this that are actually impositions from white people into critical race. Some white guy writes a book full of lies about how irish people became white, this enters general racial theory and leads people to actually think it is possible to become white when this isn’t actually true.

Often what ends up happening, though, because I tend to be at my most creative in the mornings, is that I’ll be reading and drinking coffee. And then I’ll get up and take a shower. While in the shower, usually certain ideas/reactions I had to something I read won’t leave me alone and so I’ll sit down, after I’m done, to write about it.

Second. How I see writing as creativity…. or an aspect of creativity.

Like. Speaking very generally, yes, writing is a creative activity. It doesn’t quite feel that way to me? Writing has always been difficult for me and not my best communication skill (which, imo, is oration). Writing certainly got much MUCH easier for me in school once computers were more common and I had regular access to one since writing shit out by hand was one of the reasons why my english marks in school always trailed everything else (until I got a computer to use at home — in high school btw).

It always feels like, for me, that writing as creative activity is something OTHER people do, not me. Rather, writing feels like this thing I have to do in order to communicate my thoughts. A necessary evil. And not something I’m particularly talented at, even as my skills have increased by the sheer fact of how much practice I have at this point and how much writing I do on a regular basis (I think I write like, 4000+ words a week spread out amongst my various blogs, twitter, tumblr, books, etc).

So, um, it looks like my short answer for this is that writing, for me, really isn’t a creative activity. Part of this can be grounded in my (perhaps irrational) belief that I’m not a creative person… And in a lot of ways, looking at my writing process described above, I don’t think I’m very creative. I mean, so much of what I write is — as noted — based on reactions to stuff, rather than just me sitting around and thinking about things.


Reading Orientalism Part 01

Observations from the 2003 preface:

  • Said locates the rise of ‘modern’ Orientalism with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt.
  • the ‘Orient’ is not a stable concept
  • Orientalism is still very much about the middle east and Islamic-based cultures there and the response by white states like America.
  • Said’s conception of the ‘Orient’ as an oppositional concept to the ‘West’ includes Africa (and other parts of Asia beyond the middle east)
  • I’m not at all sure how i feel about his humanist intentions in formulating the theory. he explicitly says that, in the end, this is meant to be concilliatory. which i don’t disagree with, on the surface, since his example is, whenever Palestine is returned to Palestinian rule, that they don’t become oppressive towards the Jewish settlers. but. idk. something to think about.
  • “The point I want to conclude with now is to insist that the terrible reductive conflicts that herd people under falsely unifying rubrics like “America,” “The West” or “Islam” and invent collective identities for large numbers of individuals who are actually quite diverse, cannot remain as potent as they are, and must be opposed, their murderous effectiveness vastly reduced in influence and mobilizing power” (xxiii)
  • one thing i have large… doubts about is his discussion and valuation of ‘rational discourse’.

Listening to the Living and the Dead: Ruminations on #justiceforLeelahAlcorn (Tw: Suicide)


I debated for a long time about whether or not to write about Leelah1. In part because I loathe the prurient media fascination in recent years with trans kids and also because the things I have to say are going to be difficult, uncomfortable, and could bring me a lot of harassment. Trans women of colour (twoc), dear friends of mine and people I care about, have received death threats and endless online harassment for talking about some of the topics I’m going to cover in this post.


I can’t ignore Leelah’s entreaty: “Fix society. Please”2.

I also can’t ignore the fact that, on Twitter at least, people have been demanding #JusticeforLeelahAlcorn without any clear notion of what this means or what it entails. In a general sense, true justice for Leelah would involving fixing society, just as she asks us to do. But as I’ve been articulating on my own Twitter account, for the past few days, this hashtag and most discussions only focus on one part of her story. The easy part.

This part, of course, is the abuse she endured at the hands of her parents. Most calls for ‘justice’ in the Twitter hashtag mainly involve parents accepting their children, religion bashing, and similar remarks. At least this is the comments from the mainstream/cis society.

The response from the trans community has likewise been disappointing in how much it misses the mark and refuses to engage with narratives and comments not only expressed within Leelah’s suicide note but that have been articulated by trans women of colour since we started the entire modern ‘gay rights’ movement3.

This post/essay/etc will be an exploration into what justice for Leelah Alcorn might actually look like and some of what is needed to ‘fix society’.

Musings About ‘Indigenous Gender’ as a Concept

since i’ve been talking a lot this past few days or so about gender and indigenous gender systems, i wanted to spend a bit of time with my usage of ‘indigenous genders’ as a referrent for genders like my own (bakla) or really for most/all genders embodied by iaopoc (‘trans’ and ‘cis’ alike).

the first thing that this term necessitates is an indigenous culture/gender system in which individual bodies and genders obtain coherence. in the case of bakla, this is tagalog culture.

but what of people who are iaopoc but lack access or knowledge of the respective indigenous gender system in which their gender would be coherent?

of course. whenever i say shit like this, i have a very specific people/s and context in mind… Black americans (or people in the Black diaspora generally).

i’d argue that, in actual fact, the existence of the Black diaspora is proof of concept, rather than a challenge. it is the specificity of Blackness (and anti-Blackness) that demonstrates the full project and power of white colonization on indigenous genders and their systems. in my last blog post, i wrote:

i can at least learn about the history of my gender. i still have a name for it. i know lots of iaopoc who don’t. who have to struggle with a colonially imposed language of some kind to articulate the incoherent and the impossible. all the while having to listen to white ppl (trans, cis, binary, nonbinary) tell them/us that we don’t exist. but not just that… that is impossible that we could exist. some of us might have once existed, but this is no longer possible…

when you look at scholarship/writing on anti-Blackness this is, in its most true form, is the ontological position of Black people today. additionally, the added bonus of anti-Blackness actually gets us one step further than ‘impossible to exist’ ‘once existed’ to have never existed in the first place. it is a unique position that only Black ppl occupy (that only Black ppl could possibly occupy).

this is really what i mean when i say that iaopoc ppl (esp. Black ppl) who don’t have any real access to cultural heritage or language, who can only struggle with a colonially imposed language, that the act of asserting that you exist and that you exist in whatever way you determine, using the words you choose for yourself, is an act of resistance to the colonial, binary logic that claims you are impossible (and for Black ppl that you could never even begin to exist).

and the thing is, is that even ppl without direct access to their heritage, still manage to embody gender in ways that refer back to their respective indigenous gender system, even if they do not know what it is. you only have to look at something like Ball culture to see that Black ppl can and do create ‘new’ systems for gender that are incoherent to whiteness (i mean, the way white ppl engage with Ball culture echoes the first colonizers and their anthropologist descendants).

speaking of anthropologists…

‘indigenous gender’ to me, has the added benefit of disrupting white discourse on iaopoc ppl, our genders, and our gender systems. at this point, many ppl will be familiar with ‘third gender’ as an anthropological concept used to describe iaopoc genders that just happens to reify the primacy of the white gender binary.

the use of ‘indigenous’ asserts that our genders (and the gender systems) have an existence that is prior and distinct from the white colonial gaze. in other words, our genders do not require white observation/control in order to exist.

it also encapsulates the logic of indigenous genocide as it conceptually applies both to the genders and the ppl who embody them. this is why, yes, i can read a white anthropology textbook that asserts that all of the ppl who embody my gender are gone… lost to the annals of history because of colonization.

but of course, this process of ‘disappearing’ baklas isn’t neutral or accidental. it is a violent and coercive process that is, yes, still incomplete. this is something we actually know from history (in the case of tagalogs and asogs). it also goes hand in hand with enforcing the white style of patriarchy (at least in the tagalog case, but i’d guess that it applies in most other cases).

so. yeah. this hopefully explains why i use ‘indigenous genders’ instead of someother term like nonbinary iaopoc genders or whatever else.