b. binaohan

Disability Politics and Mind/body Dualism

just having a sudden thought about the ways that ‘physical’ disabilities are distinguished from ‘mental’ disabilities and the ways that a lot of disabilitity discourse subtly relies on mind/body dualism…

the physical vs. mental distinction is just one of a few different dichotomies that (usually white) disability activists use to frame their discussions around disability as a site of oppression. mind/body dualism essentially asserts that the mind and body are distinct ontological entities. they are related to in each other in certain important ways but they exist independently of the other.

this dualism is a foundational assumption in a lot of white theorizing about the world, the self, and the body. created and formalized several hundred years ago in european philosophy, it continues to live on in trans humanist/science fiction visions of the world wherein, for example, people — given the right technology — could copy their ‘minds’/selves onto the internet and live eternally in cyberspace. i remember reading a horror novel with this essential plotline way back at the beginning of the popularization of the internet.

and for those people who don’t have both physical and mental disabilities, there is usually some important distinctions that are drawn within the disabled community in terms of access, accommodation, and rights. one of which is an admittedly sloppy and not heavily policed assumption that physical disabilities are often more ‘visible’ than mental disabilities… and thus are more overtly oppressed while ‘invisible’ mental disabilities are heavily stigmatized but depend on some level of disclosure or whatever to experience the same kind of ableism that physically/visible disabled people do.

example: that a person using a wheelchair is more oppressed than a person with anxiety, all other things being equal (ie, same class, gender, race, no other disabilities).

certainly, outside of the disability community, this type of structuring logic informs a lot of accemmodations that policy makers focus on (ie, ramps/elevators and such but no real thought for those with anxiety). this sort of thing is usually well critiqued within the community (thankfully).

but i don’t often see people critiquing the underlying assumptions of these type of policy approach or discusive space.

essentially, most of the white disabled people i see writing about stuff are generally happy to believe that there is a meaningful difference between physical and mental disabilities. and they use this belief to structure a lot of the discussion around disability.

however, there are many iaopoc ontologies where the body and the mind are one and the same, rather than distinct entities. in such a world view there can be no meaningful distinction between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ disabilities…

of course a lot of people (raised within the white supremacist worldview — myself included) have trouble imagining how critical this seemingly small difference in ontology makes.

but if we look to a great deal of non-white systems of healing, traditional Chinese medicine is a great example because one world you’ll hear a lot when researching this healing practice is ‘holistic’. Holism in healing is to view the body/mind as one whole, rather than distinct. but there are some white medical practices that use this vein of reasoning (when people tell you to exercise to improve your mood, they are relying on a fundamental connection between physical wellness and mental wellness).

philosophically, the difference arises too in how, for example, Nagarjuna can argue that because the body is changeable/inconstant it doesn’t exist and, thus, neither does the mind/self and the realization of this truth of the world is to become enlightened.

for a lot of iaopoc, the enforced worldview of mind/body dualism is a site of significant violence done to ourselves (inclusive of mind and body). but most disability discourse is happy as fuck to just reify this as a basic truth about how disability is embodied by individuals….

it strikes me as super interesting and perhaps one of the key reasons why so many disabled iaopoc ppl i know cannot effectively locate themselves within white disability discourse… because it instantiates this same violence that can actively prevent iaopoc from properly understanding ourselves/bodies as disabled.

(i’ll be honest, i got kind of distracted and i’m not sure how to end this post. i just wanted to draw attention to an assumption i see structuring white disability discourse and how this assumption ends up erasing disabled iaopoc but also alienates us from the discourse and communities)

That Stereotype Threat Thing Again

a few years ago, i wrote a blog post about how stereotype threat is a tool of violence. because this is a psychological theory, stereotype threat describes an internal psychological state wherein marginalized people feel anxiety about a situation because they worry it will reflect on our entire group.

i just saw a great example for how this plays out in situations other than what psychologists usually test for1. i just saw a comic about sex work and stripping wherein the sex worker has a caveat commonly seen when marginalized people talk about our experiences under oppression:

These are my views on my experiences in sex work! They don’t represent all sex workers…

why does this even need to be said?

the motivation for articulating this is explained by stereotype threat. she needs to say this because she is worried that her individual experiences will be generalized and treated as representative of the entire set of sex workers.

but again… why does this need to be said?

it is a common enough disclaimer and caveat. and you often see people from many marginalized groups having to repeat endlessly that we are not monoliths….

ever notice who doesn’t ever say shit like this?

people from the oppressor class.

when we are talking about something like racism, poc always ALWAYS have to say “this is my experience” or otherwise situate themselves and make it clear that we are speaking about our experiences and for ourselves.

but you know what i have never seen? a white person make this disclaimer when talking about racism.

and, given the originating topic, i’ve never crossed the line into sex work (but i got close a couple times). and, to my current embarrassment, the times when i’ve spoken about sex work (not something that happens often) i have never made the disclaimer:

“i’m talking about my experiences as a non-sex worker, i don’t speak for all non-sex workers…”

looks pretty fucking ridiculous when you write out like that, doesn’t it?

  1. a lot of the focus is on academic testing and how to remove biases from environments to reduce the threat

Updates and Stuff

i feel like this blog is being super neglected. and it is. all of my blogs are being neglected. :(

i’ve been around mostly on twitter. but not even that much.

my life is sort of…

idk. falling apart? a big giant fucking mess?

of course, no one really much reads this blog anymore, i don’t think…

i’ve somewhat considered just migrating a bunch of my posts from here to tumblr. but i do like having my own space. not that i’m really using it much these days….

i’m depressed (again). been a few years since i’ve been in this place again.

i spend way too much time laying around in my bed trying to get myself to do things

and, for all that i’ve been super into understanding disability and stuff like depression, this is my first field test on myself in trying to implement what i’ve learned

it is really REALLY fucking hard

i keep telling myself that i should just, um, you know tell the ppl who’re relying on me for stuff that i’m depressed and shit just might not get done.

but never in my life have i actually allowed myself to take care of myself in that way. everything has always been about desperately trying to meet deadlines and expectations. feeling shitty. and spending the time in between mostly wishing i could just give up and die. now that i’m thinking about it, i think i stopped using this blog as much bc i was going to be all

“i’ll use this for my longer/important posts!”

and i just haven’t really had the energy/motivation/inspiration to write… even as i send out bunches of tweets about stuff.

Fuck Ur Umbrella #mogai

so i first say this a while back and sort of rolled my eyes and ignored it bc i have better things to think about and do

but then @dtwps mentioned it on twitter and then i looked in the tumblr tag and now i hate everything

but i especially hate ‘mogai’

now. i don’t hate it because it is a new term.

i don’t hate it bc i prefer ‘lgbt+’

i hate it for the same reason i hate ‘lgbt+’ and, fuck, the same reason i hate ‘transgender’ (as a umbrella term)

u should be seeing a theme here: i hate umbrella terms. all of them.

i hate ‘lgbt+’ and Gay Inc because they stole the movement from twoc and pushed us out.

i hate mogai bc from everything i can see, this is a push for greater inclusivity focused on recently surfacing identities (i’m not going to say ‘new’ bc they aren’t new, just new words for existent identities).

one thing i didn’t see in the tumblr tag is ANY SINGLE person who was advocating for ‘mogai’ saying anything at all about centering twoc. or about making sure that ‘mogai’ is actually a conceptually safe space for us.

i want to know: any of the ppl currently advocating for this umbrella term:

  • what are u doing for incarcerated trans women?
  • what are u doing to stop the murder of Black and/or Latina trans women in the US? or of twoc globally?
  • what r u doing to support twoc sex workers?

if ur answer is ‘nothing’ and if u haven’t once even thought about this in conceptualizing this new umbrella

then ur not a part of my community. ur not under my ‘umbrella’. fuck, ur not even my ally. ur nothing to me but another oppressor or someone complicit in it. \

i find it SUPER fascinating that, in my circles, in my community(ies)

none of the all qtpoc i know are using this term.

not. a. single. one.

and none of the twoc i know are using it.


fuck. ur. umbrella.

Three Derails: A Summary of Newer, Advanced Derails

i think, in recent times, i’ve given names to three derails. so i’m mostly putting them altogether into this post.

1) the ‘competing callout derail’

i explored this one in a blog post way back in february. the structure of the derail is that oppressed person 1 calls out oppressed person 2 on an axis of oppression that they do not exprience.

in response, oppressed person 2 calls out oppressed person 1 on an axis of oppression they do not share.

it shuts down any discussion bc it is usually considered bad form to deny a privilege when talking with someone u oppress. and, bc nuance is difficult, rather than each claim being considered on its own merits, usually the 2nd callout has the effect of eclipsing the first, thus reframing the discussion, thus derailing it entirely.

this is a really REALLY difficult situation to resolve because it can be the case (and often is) that BOTH callouts have merit. and it is this fact (or the possibility of it) that really works to prevent any further discussion.

2) the ‘logical fallacy derail’

this was partly coined out of @dtwps’s recent comments about logical fallacies on twitter, but i’ve also written extensively on logical fallacies and logic in general.

this derail (like a bunch of other derails) relies on ignoring context and applying the rules of a irrelevant context to the current discussion (here we are talking the classic rules of logic and/or rhetoric).

something a lot of ppl don’t realize is that a text like derailing for dummies lays out the ACTUAL rhetorical rules for discourse and debate within non-academic (or what most would consider ‘informal’) contexts. like on social media sites like tumblr. these are fairly broadly accepted community rules that we (often) invoke as a way to make discussion within the community productive and possible. of course, there are also unarticulated norms that are partially informed by other contexts and things we’ve learned.

in these contexts, dismissing a person’s argument/claims on the basis that they use a logical fallacy is a derail. by focusing on the form, rather than the substance, of the argument you are shifting focus. it is exactly like dismissing a person’s claims bc they have typos (or, like me in this post, aren’t bothering to follow normative punctuation and grammar). the fact that this post has spelling errors and typos all over the place has zero bearing on whether or not what i say is true.

3) the ‘oppresion olympics’ derail

as i just wrote in reference to Jared Sexton, invoking ‘oppression olympics’ in a discussion is a derail. it is a silencing tactic. As Sexton writes:

The Oppression Olympics dogma levels a charge amounting to little more than a leftist version of “playing the race card.” [Sexton 47]

That should make the derail seem obvious enough, since it should be self-apparent that using a tactic lovingly employed by right-wing conservatves is,in general. A BAD THING.

Jared Sexton on Anti-blackness and the Oppression Olympics Derail

The following quotations are from

Sexton, Jared. “People-of-Color-Blindness Notes on the Afterlife of Slavery.” Social Text 28, no. 2 103 (June 20, 2010): 31–56. doi:10.1215/01642472-2009-066.

If the oppression of nonblack people of color in, and perhaps beyond, the United States seems conditional to the historic instance and functions at a more restricted empirical scope, antiblackness seems invariant and limitless (which does not mean that the former is somehow negligible and short-lived or that the latter is exhaustive and unchanging). (47)

Yet all of this is obviated by the silencing mechanism par excellence in Left political and intellectual circles today: “Don’t play Oppression Olympics!” The Oppression Olympics dogma levels a charge amounting to little more than a leftist version of “playing the race card.” (47)

We might, finally, name this refusal people-of-color-blindness, a form of colorblindness inherent to the concept of “people of color” to the precise extent that it misunderstands the specificity of antiblackness and presumes or insists upon the mono lithic character of victimization under white supremacy — thinking (the afterlife of) slavery as a form of exploitation or colonization or a species of racial oppression among others. (48)

i find it super interesting to read this after, on many different occassions, myself getting annoyed with other nonBlack poc (nbpoc) for a general refusal to accept that there just might be some (read: Black) ppl who are more oppressed than us.

Sexton doesn’t frame this (for obvious reasons) as a ‘derail’ but the comparison of ‘oppression olympics’ to the ‘race card’ should make it pretty clear that this is a derail. and like many derails, it is a silencing tactic (and, thus, also a way to weild structural power in a violent fashion).

and, it is no mistake, that (depending on the exact community we are talking about) ‘oppression olympics’ as a callout/derail is most frequently used against the very people who have the best claim for ‘winning’ in the competition (if we are talking about race/white supremacy, this obviously means Black people).

A Creeping Realization

i recently had occassion to revisit the vancouver public library’s [VPL] not too distant support of vancouver rape relief [VRR] hosting janice raymond at a talk they held in one of the VPL’s spaces (space that can be booked by any member of the public). the vpl made a pretty strong statement that they weren’t going to stop the event bc of free speech and bc vrr assured them they would not be engaging in any activities that run counter to the bc human rights code.

i remember this vividly bc a lot of trans women in vancouver were pretty upset that janice would be speaking. not a surprising turn of events given that vrr has a ‘woman-born-woman’ policy.

on reflecting about what happened and the rhetoric about it, i realized that in the trans community outcry against this event, and in the trans ~community~ outcry against many other recent radfem events there is something significant missing…

the voices of sex workers. esp. the voices of sex workers of colour. of trans women of colour sex workers. etc. and so on.

the thing is. the thing IS.

is that janice, on this occassion, spoke against sex workers. the title of her talk “Prostitution: Not a Job, not a Choice”. but then you see letters like this written to the vpl which focuses entirley on the transmisogyny of raymond and vrr. with nary a single fucking word about sex workers.

i find this troubling. not in least because the overlap of trans women of colour and sex workers is HUGE, given how many twoc do sex work (for whatever reason). but also troubling bc a lot of cis women of colour and/or Indigenous women are likewise invovled in sex work.

it is troubling bc, in recent years, at least, a lot more radfem activism has been very much focused on sex work. more so than on trans women1.

i very much also note that the recent battles between white trans women and radfems has very much neglected to mention sex workers (or really involve them in any significant way)

so let it be known: i fucking SEE what ur doing here. and i’m not happy about it. i’m also not happy about my own complicity in leaving sex workers out of my consideratison whenever i think about and engage radfemininsm.

look. LOOK. when i see a letter like the above, which points to raymond’s words on trans women like 20+ years ago but fails to mention the shit she is saying about sex workers RIGHT NOW and making connections for what she is saying to how this impacts the real lives of sex workers right now as well. the letter does mention a bit of this when it notes that vrr’s no.1 agenda is the elimination of sex work(ers).

note: vrr = vancouver rape relief. they are an organization that is nominally supposed to support victims of rape. yes. they very much will not help trans women. but they also aren’t helping sex workers. BOTH OF THESE THINGS MATTER.

twoc sex workers are literally amongst the most vulnerable ppl in teh ~community~ and if u (we) find it sooo fucking easy to just forget about them whenever we discuss groups/ideologies that directly target them, we are directly contributing to their oppression. end. of. story.

and, yeah, this includes cis sex workers. the trans ppl who aren’t sex workers should VERY much be willing to stand in solidarity with cis sex workers. period. but esp. when it comes to deal with radfeminism. sex workers and trans women are the two groups of women that radfems very much wish would cease to exist. acting like radfem discourse about sex workers has nothing to do with us is very much throwing sex workers under the bus. and it needs to stop.

  1. although, never ever really put on the back burner. trans women who are also not sex workers are still very much targets, but a lot of the sort of direct and movement activities of radfems has been focused more on sex workers in recent times

Growth and Accountability and History

one of the things that happens, esp. if you’ve been participating in some kind of community (but esp. an online one) is that ppl fuck up. more specifically, there are some who fuck up in a big way and get themselves put on other ppl’s lists as

“remember that person who did the thing?”

and it’ll come up every so often. and ppl will be like

“hey, i’m seeing person x on my dash/TL again, aren’t they the person who did this incredibly fucked up thing? did they apologize?”

this’ll happen bc many of us, you know, tend to stop associating with ppl who’ve hurt us. so it can be jarring to suddenly see their name one year later.

when this happens ppl will always be ‘omg, people grow. ppl do fucked up shit. learn. and grow. but you keep bringing up this thing that happened five years ago’

its an interesting dynamic.

first. bc of the same old double standards. regardless of which camp you belong to, there is likely someone you know that, on a regular basis, has a post like this made about them (ie “remember when they did this thing and never apologized?”). i have friends AND enemies on tumblr/twitter/whatever who this happens to. it literally happens to ANYONE with enough notoriety that ppl will watch everything they do. but what i often see is that ppl will usually say “it is okay when ~the past~ is brought up for this person, but not that one”. interestingly, i’ve noticed that the people whose pasts are eternally relevant and need to be brought up if they so much as SNEEZE are, um, ppl usually oppressed along several axes. This def. happens to qt Black ppl. and most qtpoc that i know. but ur favourite cis white blogger? ur favourite het man? “why can’t u let the past stay in the past, that was soooooo long ago”

second. the interesting thing i’ve noticed about the ppl who TRULY attempt to grow, learn, and make up for their fuckups usually don’t deny what happened. they’ve made some kind of apology somewhere. they also, and this is important, don’t usually give a fuck when their past harms are brought up. indeed, these ppl will OFTEN talk about this past without provocation. “i used be super fat phobic a few years ago, but i’ve been learning better” (this is actually ME. i’ve said this)

its weird. we can talk ALL DAY long about the necessity of addressing shit that happened hundreds of years ago, whose legacy and ongoing life we grapple with today, but somehow we are just supposed to forgive and forget someone who hurt us a year ago? five? ten? why should things work like this?

how can u claim to have ‘learned’ from your mistakes if you refuse to own the fact that YOU made them? that you HURT people and that there may be spaces/ppl who will never welcome you and will always remind and remember the harm that you’ve caused.

after my most recent anti-Black fuck up, i have zero expectations that the person i harmed will ever talk to directly to me again. why should they? i also think they would have EVERY right to put me down on some list of anti-Black pilipinas. simple truth. and if, for their friends and ppl they cared about, they were to tell those ppl to avoid me bc of my anti-Blackness…

why the fuck is it a problem that they would take steps to protect themselves AND the ppl they care aobut from someone who has already prooved that they are harmful/unsafe?

i do hope that i’m growing and learning and working to dismantle my anti-Blackness so i don’t fuck up like that again, but my growth and work isn’t dependent on their specific validation. if in 10 years from now, we somehow bump into each other and they are like “oh, i remember you, you’re the fucking asshole who barged into a conversation about anti-Blackness and talked over me” all i can do is shrug, say yes, maybe apologize if they let me, and walk away.1

so growth. and accountability.

what of it?

  1. not that this person is likely to remember me, since i’m a fairly insignificant person and definitely not self-involved enough to think that they would remember me. thing is, i was just YET another anti-Black shithead they had to deal with. nothing AT ALL special or interesting about that.

Fighting Over Words

i find myself still fuming over that ridiculously privileged article i read by a (presumed) white trans woman1. and it isn’t only her, it is also the other trans women with big time platforms, esp. given the recent fighting amongst this crowd over who can use ‘tranny’ and who can’t…

just a lot of ppl talking about how these are just arguments/disputes about ‘words’

i fucking hate this argument and how it is used to diminish the importance of certain strategies to reduce the violence that twoc experience. sure ‘words’ may not be super high priority when considered in relation to things like incarceration, murder, homelessness, poverty, and so on…

but the problem with this is, as with much of white activism, is that it fails to understand how all of these things are connected. words are just ONE way that a transmisogynist culture expresses its dehumanization and violence against twoc. jsut. one. way. perhaps not the most serious and definitely not the most immediate (unless they are really preceding a more physical attack), but they can’t be separated from the knot of cultural that creates institutionalized transisogyny.

more importantly…

as a pilipina living in the diaspora and with a logn history of colonization, let me tell you:

language matters A LOT in institutional oppression

colonizers fucking made a point,in so many parts of the world, of forcing indigenous ppls to use their languages. of stripping and removing languages wherever they could.

i get deeply fuckign suspicious of any person who bemoans certain discourses and discussions bc they are ‘only about words’ like words don’t matter.

i know better.

  1. who, even if not white is def. anti-Black bc when trying to find more about her, i found one article where she uses the n-slur in ‘scare quotes’ but not blanked out and talks about having ‘mixed siblings’. but i can’t find any indication about her own race.

ALWAYS Support Incarcerated Trans Women of Colour

the internet is apparently in a tizzy over Laverne Cox reading a letter by Synthia China Blast.

now, bc the ppl i follow on tumblr are awesome, i’m mainly seeing ppl defending Laverne and clarifying the facts about Synthia’s crimes and why she is in prison.

this is all well and good, but i find that it somewhat misses the point. almost two years ago, talking about a different incarcerated trans woman, i wrote this statement:

Either we are all human and worthy or none of us are

yes, it is incredibly important to counter the trope/myth of the trans woman rapist wherever and whenever it arises. but BUT, we are letting radfems and other transmisogynists frame the discussion when we focus on the crimes that Synthia was or was not convicted of. it doesn’t matter what she was convicted of. and for a few different reasons:

  1. we all know that the current justice system is corrupt and designed to do everything BUT bring justice for trans Latinas like Synthia China Blast. thus, taking the system’s word for ANYTHING is bound to lead you astray.
  2. support her right to humane treatment while she is incarcerated does not endorse or excuse what harm she has done

when you look at the sylvia rivera law project petition, where Synthia’s story is mentioned and Laverne’s video used to be, you’ll note that this is about more than just Synthia. you’ll also note that this is the demands being made by the petition:

Synthia has been placed in isolation for over a decade, for her own “protection.” But this isolation has negatively affected her mental health. Isolation has NOT protected her from prison guards who have assaulted her and destroyed her personal property on numerous occasions. Isolation has prevented her from accessing programming, from interacting with other people, from healing. Synthia fears she will not mentally or physically survive the constant physical assaults, verbal harassment and isolation. Rather than be confined to the concrete walls of her cage-like cell, she wants to prepare for her parole board hearing in four years by obtaining her GED and to complete other programs that will help her to heal from the trauma of her childhood and her time in prison. However, being forced to remain in isolation means that she will not be allowed access to any of these opportunities. Demand that DOCCS take immediate measures to ensure a safer placement for Synthia and allow her access to educational and mental health programs that she needs!

is anyone seeing anything in this paragraph asking ppl to excuse and endorse her crimes? anyone seeing anything saying that she should be freed and all charges forgiven? anyone seeing anything, for that matter, even asking that she be placed in a woman’s prison?


don’t let transmisogynists frame this discussion. this petition, this story, this everything is about ensuring that incarcerated trans women are treated like HUMAN BEINGS within the prison system1.

this isn’t asking for special treatment or anything. just that Synthia and ALL OTHER INCARCERATED TRANS WOMEN, be treated like other incarcerated people (ie, given the same opportunity to access programs and health care). asking that the gov’t live up to its promise to reduce rape in prison. live up to its RESPONSIBILITY to humanely treat incarcerated people (inclusive of safe housing and access to medical care).

Synthia China Blast is a human being. she is a trans Latina and 100% deserving of our support bc she is a HUMAN BEING. whatever crimes she has been convicted of are irrelevant. if u think that certain crimes mean that incarcerated people like Synthia DESERVE to be exposed to rape, assault, kept in isolation, and all other inhumane treatment, u do not actually care about prison reform or abolition. this also means that u don’t actually care about some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

don’t get confused regarding what this is all about. and don’t think that arguing over whether or not Synthia China Blast is a human being shows that ur better than the transmisogynists who’ve already shown that they think she isn’t.

  1. insofar as the prison industrial complex treats any incarcerated person like a human being, which isn’t far at all and is why everyone should be behind prison abolition.