b. binaohan

Femme Resistance and Compliance

I don’t often touch this topic since I find that there are many twoc who already aptly discuss the politics of femme resistance (like Morgan — labrujamorgan). But I’m finding rubato’s experiences and comments on femme intriguing and frustrating (not rubato’s writing but the ideas it is responding to).

The notion that femininity and such is reactionary and compliance to partriarchy is a thorn in everyone side pretty much placed there by radfems (who’ve taken to whining endlessly about ‘butch flight’ and the disappearance of the masculinity they love to worship in their own communities). Honestly, I do blame radfems for the popular notion that femmes are necessarily counter-revolutionary bc we uphold the patriarchy…

For me. Remembering this important bit of historical context for where the figure of the counter-revolutionary femme helps a lot in just not really feeling like I have to pay attention to most people’s critiques of femmes or the (stereotypical) accroutements of being femme. Ppl want to buy into bullshit radfem ideas about femininity and shit? They get put on my ‘dupes of radfems and probably transmisogynists’ list.

So many discussions of the problems with being femme fail to take into account race (something I know that many femmes of colour have talked about). They fail to take into account any number of overlapping and non-trivial oppressions (weight, class, etc and so on).

What interests me more is this… desire (and this def. comes from radfems) to frame femmes as necessarily conservative/reactionary/counter-revolutionary to the radical/revolutionary/subversive butch. Now. Of course on the surface this just seems like more patriarchy vis a vis the worship and adulation of masculinity and all things related to men. And, sure, this is an important factor (I mean, we all know that radfems fucking suck at patriarchy’s tit right?).

But it is this notion, which sadly Julia Serano has also noted in her book, that for whatever reason some identities are inherently more radical than others that interests me because… really? REALLY?

Like beyond the fact that I’ve had my FILL of white impossed binaries re: gender and shit, ppl really need to move beyond this really fucking simplistic idea that identity in and of itself is somehow ~radical~.

Look.

My dad is a SE Asian man. He is super duper anti-Black, fat-phobic, anti-Semetic, and literally votes conservative (I’m not joking. He votes conservative).

Are you telling me that just because he is an SE Asian man, that he is more radical than my white bf?

(Yeah, my bf is white and all that implies. Meaning, at the very least, that he is racist. But unlike my dad, at least he tries to do something about his position of power and privilege. At the very very least, he doesn’t vote for the party that is literally trying to prevent me from having equal rights. But my dad is more radical just for being Asian? NOPE.)

Radical is shit you do not what you are. Compliance and resistance are what you do not what you are by dint of simply existing in a certain way.

And don’t get at me about internalized whatever the fuck. We all internalize shit that we have to unlearn. ALL OF US.

This, in part, why it is so irritating when white ppl on tumblr will list ‘anarchist’ in their bios but not ‘white’. You are white but you aren’t ‘anarchism’ however much you believe in and subscribe to the ideology. One of those is an identity and the other is just a word to describe you.

But I expect to see yet another thing castigating femmes for wearing makeup (like each and everyone of us does, of course).

Anyway. Fuck ur frameworks.

The Parallels and Intersections Between anti-Black Misogyny and Transmisogyny

This post won’t leave me be to play Super Mario RPG, so I’m writing it and moving on.

Not too long ago, on tumblr, I saw that someone described the denial of a cis Black woman’s womanhood as ‘transmisogyny’ (could’ve even been ‘misdirected transmisogyny’). If memory serves, it was in the context of saying that some cis Black woman looked like or appeared to be ‘a man’. I can see why someone would make this error given that many ppl on tumblr and around will say that whenever you say a cis woman looks manly (like a man) you are being transmisogynist. And in casses where we aren’t talking about Black women, I’d maybe agree…

However, when we are talking about Black women, it isn’t ‘transmisogyny’ that enforces a regular, systemic denial of Black womanhood. It is anti-Black misogyny. And saying that a cis Black woman being denied her womanhood is ‘transmisogynist’ (misdirected or otherwise) manages to be both anti-Black misogynist and transmisogynist at the same time.

It might seem, on the surface, confusing to assert that there exists two subsets of women who are regularly and systematically denied womanhood but whose experience of this denial is not the same despite the impact being the same (ie, ‘being denied womanhood’).

And yet… here we are. The reality is, is that while both trans women and Black women (cis and trans) are regularly and systematically denied womanhood, the source and cause of this denial are distinct.

Trans woman are denied womanhood bc of transmisogyny.

All Black women are denied womanhood bc of anti-Black misogyny.1

To assert that it is transmisogynist to say a cis Black woman looks like a man is to completely erase the individuals who exist at this intersection: trans Black women. Who are denied womanhood based on both anti-Black misogyny and transmisogyny at the same time.

Indeed, since the denial of womanhood is an act of violence, that Black trans women exist at an intersection of two different kinds of violent denial of womanhood (or personhood) is precisely why Black trans women are the targets of so much material violence in the world.

People wanting to see how this plays out in discourse, should look to Monica Roberts’ Transgriot blog. Especially interesting is her discussions of the Williams sisters and how they are treated in the media.

Denial of womanhood is a defining feature of anti-Black misogyny and it is anti-Black misogynist to suggest otherwise.

Denial of womanhood is a defining feature of transmisogyny and it is transmisogynist to suggest otherwise.

And no one else experiences the unique denial of womanhood that Black trans women do but Black trans women.


  1. I could get into why I think this is, but Black women have aptly spoken about anti-Black misogyny and you can read their writing on it.

The Performative Disappearance of Trans Women

I find myself still troubled and irritated by this series of tweets on Canada’s (failed) Bill C279.

The first tweet says that the bill would ‘protect trans folks from hate crimes’ which is… a lie. Laws will not protect trans women from anything, but especially not from hate crimes. At best, this law would apply only after a crime has been committed against a trans woman and the Crown decides to designate it a hate crime. This? Isn’t all that useful when we live in a violently transmisogynist culture. Morover, looking for laws and the state to protect any marginalized person from violence when it is the state that is often a source of violence itself is rather futile.

Canada is a illegitimate white supremacist settler state. It does not care about marginalized women. Look at how unfeeling the state is towards the MASSIVE problem with missing and murdered Indigenous women. While, yes, there is a clear disanalogy here since Canada must participate in the genocide of Indigenous peoples in order to sustain itself, it demonstrates that expecting protection from a state whose existence is grounded in genocide is rather… misguided.

Anyway, not that I’d have expected either of the two people whose tweets are quoted in the post to comment on this.

Of interest is the ways that both of them participate in transmisogyny by erasing the specific targets of senator plett. BOTH OF THEM keep saying things like ‘trans folks’, ‘trans people’, and so on. While BOTH also quote or paraphrase plett by noting how many of his examples of the possible harms that the bill would bring are all focused on trans women.

Trans women in bathrooms. Trans women in change rooms. Trans women in rape crisis centres1. Trans women in public. Trans women alive. Trans women breathing.

But in these tweets and in most of the commentary around this bill, trans women are erased and generalized into ‘trans ppl’. But this is about trans/misogyny (not transphobia). Literally all of the rhetoric used to block this bill has been focused on trans women.

This is what fake allyship looks like. You aren’t helping. This doesn’t help.


  1. Which, if the senator knew anything or wasn’t an ignorant asshole, he’d already know that trans women can be (and would’ve still been) legally excluded from rape crisis centres. You only need to look at Vancouver Rape Relief, which has a women-born-woman policy. And this is a policy that is and still would’ve been legally and state supported.

Wait. What’s So Bad About Being a Snowflake Again?

like. i know where this phrase originates and why and how it is used…

but it is that sort of perverse d00dbr0 logic that puts marginalized people in a bind:

reddit trash constantly berates SJWs for being ‘speshul snowflakes’ while insisting that many of us also uncritically and unthinkingly are just parrots for tumblr SJ ideology

we are, at once, both monolith and too individualistic.

which of course is the special kind of nonsense that anti-sj ppl love to push.

now.

‘speshul snowflake’

has taken a life of its own within teh trans community, in large part thanks to the this generation’s True Transsexuals™, the (omg. i actually am too fucking tired to remember what their fucking name is, but u know who i’m talking about. that group of largely white transbr0s who assert that body dysphoria is necessary and defining of the trans experience).

these white transbr0s do like to get at nonbinary ppl for having special snowflake genders and all i can think is…

so?

why shouldn’t we understand gender (and the embodied experiences of gender) to be as unique as the people who embody them?

like. i’m not talking about conceiving of trans/gender identities around a sense of white individualism

but um…

surely we can recognize that everyone’s relationship to gender is structured by a nexus of unique relationships that only they are capable of embodying (because even if we just consider environmental factors, no two ppl share exactly the same context — we share the cultural broadstrokes, but only i am me).

cis ppl articulate ‘speshul snowflake’ feelings about their relationships to their genders ALL THE TIME

(see any given masc4masc white cisgay doing mental gymnastics to prove they aren’t flaming homos)

a plurality of embodied gender experiences is only a bad thing in a cisnormative world that insists that gender can only be experienced and embodied in a very few different ways.

Y U Asking for My Receipts Like the IRS?

Yesterday’s thing with the whole odofemi shit coming up and getting triggered by the situation all over again makes me think that there is a principle I’ve been living by for the past year or two that is worth repeating:

I don’t provide receipts for calling my oppressors, oppressors anymore

That one response to the odofemi thing by a person saying that it is a serious claim, slanderous no less, to call a white woman racist is exactly why I don’t bother anymore. My personal interaction with her is documented on this blog. So. Like. I know what happened to me. If she remembers me at all, she knows what happened too.

She didn’t care then and I doubt she cares now about the harm she did to me.

What I don’t care about now, and in the future, is whether or not people believe tha a white woman did a fucked up white supremacist thing that actively harmed me. Not when calling a white woman racist is, apparently, now slander. Despite endless discussions about how racism is institutional and, by being so, all white people are complicit. Apparently… we are fine with this in the abstract (as long as it remains cold, bloodless theory) but not when it comes to interpersonal relationships. When it comes down to me (transpinay) and her (white). On this level? I’m fucking slandering her good name and ruining her professional reputation.1

But whatever, none of that matters. What matters is that she made me cry, and I don’t cry easily. Why? Because I’ve learned to be tough. Or rather, I learned long ago — first from my parents and then the entire fucking world — that no one gives a flying fuck when I cry. My tears are futile and useless. They accomplish nothing. So I don’t cry. Likewise, I don’t expect my tears to convince anyone, which is why I don’t bother linking to the blog post.

Moreover: I’m not having a fucking discussion about this. I made a rule a while back that I refuse to discuss my humanity. This includes with odofemi (who seemed to want to discuss this) and with her stans. You think that the harm I experienced is irrelevant or just a personal grudge? Fine. I’m not discussing my humanity with you. Literally the end of the fucking story.

Also?

I’ve literally said for years that I’m a petty, bitter bitch and some ppl don’t take that seriously. Or think I’m just trying to be ‘cute’. I’m not.

I’m a petty. bitter. bitch. Ok? You got that?

So. Yeah. Part of my issue with odofemi is deeply personal and totally a grudge.

What the fuck is your point?

What does that have to do with anything?

Why does me, after experiencing harm bc of her white supremacy/racism, calling her a racist have anything to do with you?

This is my wound. My pain. My utter lack of forgiveness and forgetfulness.

I fucking remember.

I will never forgive.

This does mean I’ll mention how she is a racist bitch every so often, bc I’m petty like that.

But notice how I don’t stalk her? I don’t repeatedly try to engage her? How I avoid her at all costs? How I’m not running a smear campaign to get everyone I know to stop interacting with her? NOTICE ALL THESE THINGS?

This is what separates my petty self from the people like alostbird/savannah. And it is a distinction ppl would do well to remember since talking about the harm that odofemi did to me is NOT a greater offense that the harm she caused.

You fucking assholes.


  1. Ppl get that defamation (slander/libel) laws are about professional reputations? Is me calling odofemi a racist hurting her job? Impacting her career? No. This isn’t about her as a professional whatsit but about her as a human being.

Models That Erase Nonbinary Ppl

One sleep later, I still find myself vaguely annoyed by this response to my tweet collection on the history of the sexuality/gender distinction. Here is the comment reproduced in full:

I had no idea about the transmisogyny/transmisogynoir in the history of the concept of separation between sex and gender (and orientation for that matter). That definitely problemetizes Butler’s work. Gender/sex is very clearly different from sexual orientation though, so I wonder what a non-transmisogynist model of the gender/sex spectrum would look like since interpretations from 50 years ago didn’t make that distinction. I also wouldn’t want to go back to models that erase non-binary people… this is all very interesting though.

Beyond how irritating it was for this person to say, after I demonstrated the non-neutrality of the sex-gender distinction (and likewise the resulting sexual orientation-gender identity distinction), ‘Gender/sex is very clearly different from sexual orientation though’ as if it were a simple matter of fact. But it isn’t a matter of fact.

However, because this ‘fact’ is received wisdom, this person has no need to ground the claim in anything other than the assertion of its truth, which isn’t an argument by anyone’s consideration. Gender/sex is NOT ~very clearly different~ from sexual orientation. I could go into the reasons why, but that isn’t actually what I want to focus on for this post. Rather…

I’m interested and curious about this part of the comment: “I also wouldn’t want to go back to models that erase non-binary people”.

For the sake of people who didn’t click links for context, one of the things I mentioned is that prior to Stonewall and the mobilization by cis gays and cis lesbians of a sex-gender distinction to separate gender identity and sexuality (see how this works?) as a way to push twoc out of the very movement we started, models like Freud’s psychoanalasis tended to treat gender and sexuality as linked in fundamental ways.

Omg. Okay. So I was all set to quote from my copy of Homosexual Desire by Guy Hocquenghem, which is a classic book about psychoanalysis and being gay male sexuality… and in doing research am lead to this on wikipedia:

Some writers suggest that a third gender emerged around 1700 AD in England: the male sodomite…People described themselves as members of a third sex in Europe from at least the 1860s…These writers described themselves and those like them as being of an “inverted” or “intermediate” sex and experiencing homosexual desire, and their writing argued for social acceptance of such sexual intermediates. Many cited precedents from classical Greek and Sanskrit literature…Throughout much of the twentieth century, the term “third sex” was a popular descriptor for homosexuals and gender nonconformists, but after Gay Liberation of the 1970s and a growing separation of the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity, the term fell out of favor among LGBT communities and the wider public. With the renewed exploration of gender that feminism, the modern transgender movement and queer theory has fostered, some in the contemporary West have begun to describe themselves as a third sex again.

Like. Okay…

I’ve LITERALLY BEEN MAKING THE EXACT SAME CLAIMS FOR FUCKING YEARS NOW.

I also recall, now, that one cis white german person who was all ‘white ppl using third gender isn’t appropriation’ based on this history of it being used in German shit. BUT. Like. Given that this is post contact with indigenous gender systems………. and thus, the identification and interaction with real third gender ppl. Like. What.

Look. This shit is in fucking wikipedia but ppl act like i’m fucking stupid for saying this same thing over and over again.

I’m so mad rn.

Anyway. Note how, despite what this person claims about pre-Stonewall theories excluding nonbinary people, we were, in actual fact very much present and accounted for in pre-Stonewall theories.

Indeed, based on these timelines, you can probably attribute the recent erasure of nonbinary people to the very same cis gays and cis lesbians who pushed twoc out of our own movement in the first place. I know of at least one Stonewall veteran who has an indigenous gender/sexuality. We also can’t just assume that, given that the sexuality/gender identity distinction didn’t clearly exist at the very moment of the Stonewall riot, that the participants were either gay men or trans women but not both. Or not some other kind of mix. At the very least, people for whom their gender identities and expressions were not neatly separated from their sexuality.

Jesus fuck. Can ppl at least read wikipedia articles before making historical claims?

Like for fuck’s sake. I’m reading through this wiki article on third gender and I don’t even think I’ve read it all through before but I’ve been saying similar/same shit for years. Just with a more critical and theoretical perspective but, gasp, few citations becuase fuck citations.

I Continue to Have Feels About Batok

again this post isn’t for white ppl. don’t reblog or share if ur white

i’m thinking (again or still) about tattooing amongst filipin@s in the diaspora…

and (of course) the issue of appropriation and our Indigenous ppls…

So. Like. In exploring some of what it might mean to both preserve and continue the current living tattoing traditions as well as reviving or reconstructing traditions that have faded away, I’m left with the age old problem of authenticity.

My question, here, is, is why (especially for those of us in the diaspora) so many of us feel like we need to have ~tribal tattoos~?

And this question is particularly relevant for ethnicities like mine, the Tagalogs, of whom we have very little evidence remaining of our tattoo traditions (if we had any). Part of this is colonization by spain and the US, but also our own fault for pushing Tagalog supremacy onto the rest of the PH. Since, if you try to search (as I literally just did) for ‘tradiotional tagalog textiles’ or something like that, you quickly realize that trying to find information (esp. on the web or in popular resources) about tagalogs as a specific ~tribal~ ethnicity, it is pretty much impossible because of the way that tagalog and ‘filipino’ have become synonymous. Again, this is partly our fault for trying to push Tagalog (as language) as the national ‘Filipino’ dialect/language. We have so wanted this cultural and political hegemony that we’ve largely contributed to our own cultural/ethnic disappearance…

Anyway. Off topic somewhat.

The answer to the question, of course, is authenticity. Something which remains a perennial problem for those of us in the diaspora. Beyond the more altruistic and earnest motivations for getting traditional ~filipin@~ tattoos, i believe this desire for authenticity is what drives this need to get ‘real’ and ‘traditional’ filipin@ motifs and designs. Or basically, asserting that the ‘authentic’ ‘traditional’ filipin@ tattoos are always only the ‘tribal’ ones.

Which tribe, though? Doesn’t matter. If ur a Tagalog and u get Kalinga tribal tattoos, this is authentic. For some mysterious reason. But not if, for example, you get a ‘modern’ tattoo of a snake (say in the americana style). This is true even though snakes are a traditional motif and have important spiritual meaning in anito.

I urge all filipin@s in the diaspora to really examine their motivations and approach to re-engaging the traditional aspects of your respective ethnicity/tribe/group/whatever. Decolonization, in one important respect, is needing to understand that the PH is comprised of many different cultural and ethnic groups. That we aren’t a monolith. That a search for authenticity is already validating colonial logics (which state that we exist only as indigenous ppl in the past, never the present). That you remember that being here and alive and surviving is all the authenticity you need. Take a few moments and try to listen to what your ancestors are telling you.

(All of this goes extra for Tagalogs bc of our privilege over other groups)

Batok and Filipinx Appropriation

I would’ve reblogged this post by ‘this is not pilipinx’ on non-Kalinga ppl getting Kalinga tattoos. Their basic answer was:

if you are of F/Pilipinx descent and thinking of getting tattooed in [the Kalinga] style, I feel that there’s no harm in it

I have to disagree… there can be a great deal of harm in non-Kalinga ppl getting Kalinga tattoos.

The first is appropriation. And this is something that applies to pilipin@s who aren’t Kalinga, as well as any non-pilipin@. The Kalinga are, currently, one of the Indigenous groups in the PH. While, yes, one can make the argument that all pilipinx ethnicities are indigenous and you’d be correct, to a degree, you’d also be wrong in other important ways.

The current construction of ‘Indigenous’ (yes, notice the capitalization) as identity/distinction is rather new and is somewhat race neutral. Overall, the way that most people use it is to refer to minority (in the numerical and the socio-political sense) ethnic groups who still practice many of their traditional (in most cases pre-colonial) cultural practices. It is also usually defined in relation to specific land bases, but doesn’t exclude those living in diaspora communities.

I’ve talked about these issues before. As a tagalog, I think it would be hugely disrespectful and awful of me to identify myself as capital ‘I’ Indigenous. Given the closeness of traditional tagalog territory to the capital of the colonizers and that the capital still is still firmly within our territory and the ways that tagalogs try to pass off our language (and cultural aspects) as the default, universalized ‘filipin@’ culture, it seems a step too far for me to also say, “hey, I’m Indigenous too, so I can get all the Kalinga tattoos I want!”. I’m not Kalinga. And. Acting entitled to their culture is colonizer shit.

That said, this is also me borderline speaking for Kalinga people which is shitty in its own way. Like, I’m analyzing this shit from my own perspective and feelings, but I know that when I went to a talk about Kalinga Batok and someone asked a similar question about appropriation and such, the presenter (who has had talks with Apo Whang-ud), said that she is happy to see the revival. And, certainly, she makes her living from giving these tattoos to ppl (including white ppl). And this interest and revival also helps support other people in the village and areas. Like. I def. don’t want to sit here and say “don’t get any of these tattoos” only to end up making Apo Whang-ud poor in her old age. If she is happy and willing to do this, then that is her (and other Kalinga ppl’s) perogative.

So, part of my answer is: I think if you get a specific Kalinga tattoo, you should probably get it from a Kalinga person and no one else. This way, you are supporting the people who have get this tradition alive directly. It also gives them the opportunity to decide which motifs are okay for outsiders and which are not. Like, the patterns aren’t free-for-alls. You shouldn’t be getting warrior tattoos, if you aren’t a warrior (and like, I think that Apo Whang-ud doesn’t do whatever people ask and that their are secrets and motifs that aren’t shared with just anyone). But this allows them to set the boundaries for engagement while you support them directly.

But how does this help those of us in the diaspora who want tattoos and can’t afford to return to the PH and make the trip into the mountains?

For me, since I’m currently working on a traditional inspired tattoo, this is what I do: get a traditional inspired tattoo from a filipina artist. Don’t get a traditional (inspired) tattoo from anyone who isn’t filipin@. I think the Four Waves ppl have non-filipin@ ppl as approved artists on their list. I don’t agree with this. If you’re getting a traditional motif, keep it within the community. Support our own artists.

I also, when discussing the tattoo design with my artist, really emphasized that I wanted an ‘inspired’ tattoo, rather than a recreation. So there are some traditional elements fused with other stuff. I also told her that I wanted only motifs (often Kalinga, since it is the best preserved tradition) that are ok for outsiders to have. Because, while they all have meaning, some are more general and, yeah, some are aesthetic too. I’m fine with getting that stuff from non-Kalinga artists. Also, people can look into shared Pacific Islander motifs, since if you have Lane Wilkins’ book, there is a section doing Pacific comparisons and noting stuff that is common to the various islands. This stuff seems to be not-ethnically bounded but rather geographically. Thus, reducing the chances that you are appropriating motifs that you shouldn’t have.

One of the things I notice that seems to be troubling to me about filipin@s wanting ~traditional~ tattoos is that a lot of us forget that culture is a living thing. Just because something has been used by the Kalinga for hundreds of years, it doesn’t make it more authentically filipin@ than anything else. We can revive our tattooing tradition by also creating new traditions. An example is all of the ppl who get the sun from the flag tattooed. This isn’t a ‘traditional’ tattoo, but it is becoming a modern tradition and a way to mark ingroup membership and ethnicity. This is just as authentic as Kalinga motifs. But, like, when working with a Filipin@ artist, you can also consider the location of the tattoo as being how you mark authenticiy. Example: I started on mt left arm as a way to mark my coming of age as a woman, since arm tattoos are traditionally something that women get when they come of age as a way to mark fertility (rather than men).

Or you can get modern representations of traditional motifs. Like. Snakes and centipedes are a big deal in Kalinga tattooing. So instead of getting a traditional Kalinga one, why not get a ‘modern’ version of a snake as interpreted by your specific artist? Like, literally let them make the art they want and get that. It is ‘traditional’ without being appropriative.

Essentially, what I’m saying is: be creative and don’t act entitled to get whatever you want just because you want it.

One the Importance of @janetmock and @lavernecox

In the wake of gallingly ignorant critiques of trans celebrity1 and some comments I made on twitter about #GirlsLikeUs News about the juxtaposition of news I see while curating articles for that news feed… It feels like, to me, a great moment to write about why Laverne Cox and Janet Mock are so important. But also the other twoc featured on the Candy cover: Geena Rocero, Juliana Huxtable, Gisele Alecia, Carmen Xtravaganza, Carmen Carrera, Isis King, Leyna Ramous, Dina Marie, Nina Poon, Peche Di, Yasmine Petty. But especially Ms. Cox and Ms. Mock, since they are (arguably) the most ‘mainstream celebrities’ of the group.2

Before I dig in, I just want to direct people to two important posts written to counter the claims in that ignorant ‘critique.’ L’lerret Jazelle Ailith has a long, thoughtful post that breaks down all the reasons why that Advocate OP-ED is shit and Monica Roberts (which admittedly quotes the previous posts) also has her usual inciteful commentary on the OP-ED.

Onwards!

So, I curate #GirlsLikeUs News. Which means that I read a LOT of trans related news. And I see the headlines of a lot of articles too (that I don’t read because I don’t have time to read every single news story that comes my way). My remarks earlier today were spurned by the juxtaposition on reading about Ty Underwood’s murder and on a trans woman getting a six figure book deal. Can you tell which one of these women is Black and which is white?

And this is a depressingly common pattern. I can read about a trans woman being appointed as surgeon general only to read a day later about Lamia Beard’s murder.

From this alone, you should be able to get a clear understanding why having two relatively famous Black trans women like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock matters so much. And it isn’t just about representation, although this is far from a trivial matter. But, referring to the earlier note about their visibility (which is related to issues of representation and why they — and other twoc — were singled out for bringing about a glamourous, but superficial, trans revolution), part of their visibility in the media is due to the _hyper_visibility of Black women. Visibility which is envied and decried by people like Elle Boatman. But it is a visibility that comes with the same burden that afflicts all Black women: the expectation that these two Black trans women be the mules of every single trans issue.

An example? In the #nbrightsnow tag, you see (white) nonbinary trans people wondering if either Janet Mock or Laverne Cox have ever spoken up/for nonbinary trans people. Which is… Obviously a problem. Both in terms of the assumptions made about their genders — beyond the misapplication of the non/binary dichotomy to people of colour, we don’t actually know whether or not either woman identifies as non/binary. As a person who, for reasons of expediency and convenience, often presents a public binary gender, people need to stop assuming that because both women are in the public eye, that we know everything about them. We don’t. Stop making assumptions. But it is also a problem for how… it presents a deep unwillingness, at least for Janet Mock, for a lot of people to actually engage her history (as she tells it to us). Almost no one really engages her story and personhood from an Indigenous lens, despite her being Native Hawaiian. I’ve had actual conversations with her (on twitter) about indigenous genders and nonbinary stuff. Nonetheless, both women are expected — because of their hyper/visibility — to cater to the demands of white nonbinary people.

Anyway, that is off topic (and something that really irks me).

The point is, is that without these two women, pretty much all positive news about Black trans women essentially disappears. This is why (at least for the purposes of this post) they are so important. They serve as constant, visceral reminders that Black trans women are living, breathing human beings that we ought to care about while they live. They give voice to a group of people whose bodies are consummed after they die and used, in anti-violence stats, as a way for white trans people to push their agendas. But it becomes more difficult to do this when we have these constant reminders that they exist and that they are human. They matter because neither of them de-emphasizes their Blackness when discussing trans stuff.

But also? In terms of media. These two women are doing so much to fundamentally and radically change how mainstream media interacts with trans women. Remember what happened between Janet Mock and Piers Morgan or between Lavern Cox, Carmen Carrera, and Katie Couric? They are literally changing the terms for how the mainstream engages trans women. I can see the difference from when I started #GirlsLikeUs News a few years ago and now.


  1. ‘Critique’ meaning, in this case, barely disguised racism.

  2. Certainly highly visible, but we’ll get back to that.

My Experience Being Hospitalized for Depression

i finally have enough distance and the abilify they gave me has stopped clouding my brain, that i think i can write/process my experience of being involuntarily committed to a psych ward.

now. the ‘involuntary’ part isn’t quite as bad as it sounded. my family doctor (who filled in the form) let my partner come and get me instead of calling the cops, which was a big blessing. bc cops… yeah. do not want.1

the entire experience was generally dehumanizing and degrading, especially from the perspective of a trans woman. why? bc literally everyone (except most of the nurses in the psych ward) misgendered me. or used my dead name. like… for some mysterious reason, in the emergency room, when i gave them my health card which has both my new name AND the gender marker ‘f’, they managed to dredge up my deadname and call me that. which sort of set the tone for my stay.

i think the thing i struggled with most, the first day especially once i realized i wouldn’t be allowed any electronics with a camera, was the isolation and boredom. like…. wow. it is also super bizarre because a lot of the literature around depression and mental health will stress the importance of having a social support network… but being in the psych ward basically isolates you with strangers. and if u have a certain amount of social/agoraphobia like i do… this basically amounts to solitary confinement. i spent most of the first day (before my bf was able to visit and bring my gameboy and paper books) sleeping or just… idk. wallowing in my depression and truly wishing i had just never said anything to my doctor at all.

when i did see the psychiatrist he… also misgendered me. and then was SUPER INTERESTED in my gender despite me repeatedly saying that it didn’t really bother. and it doesn’t. what bothers me about my gender is the way that ppl like HIM can’t seem to respect it and treat my like some inhuman monster bc of it. like… sorry, buddy, that i didn’t have some tragic trans woman story to titillate ur prurient interest in my genitals, but can we focus on the issue at hand?

also fun was the way he dismissed certain things happening in my life which have been so stressful and anxiety inducing that i’m having panic attacks (again) for the first time in years. he kept saying “these things are just stressors, they won’t last” and i’m like…

(unless it is chronic)

SO IS DEPRESSION.

i’ve been depressed before. i know, intellectually, that it doesn’t last forever.

HOW DOES THIS STUNNING INSIGHT HELP ME THIS EXACT SECOND WHEN I WANT TO DIE AND AM THINKING ABOUT ACTUALLY MAKING THAT HAPPEN?

why is psychiatry fundamentally based on a principle of ‘it gets better’.

fuck u.

as far as i’ve been able to tell from my life experience, it doesn’t ever get better. yes. things will cycle so that for a few blessed months, i’ll feel great and outgoing and engaged in the world only to crash into another major depression

(sound like bipolar II to you? me too…. but apparently the psychiatrist i was talking to considers bipolar I to be the only bipolar)

day two, of being in the hospital, the daytime nurse kept asking me if i was leaving… like every other hour it seemed. which made me feel guilty for taking up space/time/resources that might be better allocated to ppl in more dire situations than mine. oh. the psych ALSO triggered my excessive guilt by saying he’d be mad/disappointed if i left early…

i eventually decided to leave when my bf was late to visit and i was feeling unloved and unimportant and disposed of. when i finally managed to get ahold of him, he agreed (independently) that being in the hospital was worse for me than staying.

i think i finally have given up hope that there’ll be any help from the medical system.

i don’t care anymore.

here are the things that i know:

  • no one cares about me. not really. i have ppl who love me and are invested in my well-being, but most of them are really far away. and that’s cool. but i’m realizing that this… distance poses certain problems for support and, even more importantly, pretty much everyone i know is disabled themselves and… i honestly want them to take care of themselves before caring about me. so this isn’t a ‘fuck u, u don’t care about me, i blame u for everything’. i get it. i approve of it. but there has never been anyone who took care of me (who was in a position to do so). no one wants to or is able to. and… i think i really need to make my peace with this. i thought things would be different after i got into a relationship, but i’m realizing that i was… idk. hoping for too much. i’m not important or lovealbe enough to actually be the sort of person ppl support or care about. and. once upon a time i understood this and was ok with it. and so i will be again.
  • bc no one cares about me, i’m not sure why i thought that random strangers in the health care system with two fucking bachelors degrees (doctors) would actually give a shit about me. they don’t. and they never will unless i’m paying them directly, out of my own pocket, which might be somethng i need to do.
  • i’m giving up on the medical system. i was thinking about trying to get an ‘official’ dx for autism, but what is the point? i’ve reached a point, esp. after talking with the first psych two weeks ago, where i realize that no one is going to help me re: disability. bc… like, the only thing i was ever really good at was school and this means that having obtained success in that one, specialized environment, no one is willing to concede that i could struggle in a different, less artificial, environment.
  • i’m human garbage and… soon enough everyone will dispose or abandon me.
  • and when this happens, that will be when i kill myself.

  1. also confirmed something that i already knew, which is that my partner is kind of… not really all that great in a crisis. which sucks bc it is one other way that i know i can’t really rely on him. in so many important ways, i’m truly alone in the world.