b. binaohan

Tdor and Ownership

So thinking about the commercial aspects of tdor, i’m now also thinking about concepts of ownership and credit.

This is partly informed by my post on ‘owning’ community derived ideas.

So it is a fairly established ‘fact’ that the trans day of remembrance was started by Gwen Smith, yes?

Okay. Quiz time though, can anyone remember without googling, the name of the Black trans woman whose death prompted the first TDoR vigil?

You know what the sad thing is? I can’t remember. I’m literally about to google for the name right now.

Wikipedia tells me the name is Rita Hester.

Rita Hester.1

Can anyone tell me why Gwen Smith’s name is mentioned in every single article about TDoR but not Rita Hester’s? Why is Smith’s name so closely connected to the yearly day of remembrance for all the trans women of colour who’ve been lost to violence, but not Hester’s? Why is it that Smith is allowed to continue to assert ownership over the day and its ‘brand’ and, yes, continue to profit from this?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. We know what the answer is.

But I want to point out that every single non-Black person who has ever written about TDoR and not mention Rita Hester has helped participate in this historical erasure. This includes me. I’ve written about TDoR and while I haven’t spoken of the history, I have spoken about the appropriation of Black and/or Latina trans women’s suffering by white ppl. And about the appropriation of twoc suffering globally.

All without mentioning the very first Black trans woman whose death became a stepping stone for one white woman’s claim to fame. Whose death has inspired a global day of recognition of all the twoc lost to violence. Whose death now provides a platform for cis people, white trans women, and trans men of many colours to consume the bodies of twoc and appropriate our struggles.

So. Yeah. I’m sorry Rita. And I’m sorry to the Black trans women in my life for my complicity in this situation.

The decolonization of TDoR must start with Rita Hester.

Fuck Gwen Smith.

Any and all discussions of the history of TDoR must centre the role that Rita Hester played in it all. Just as any TDoR even must centre Black and/or Latina trans women.


  1. sidenote: i’m actually surprised to see that Rita Hester has a wikipage but Gwen Smith doesn’t. yay?

Wandering Back

In a way… this has been coming down the pipes for a little while.

Like….

About a year or more ago, I made certain decisions which were, admittedly, ones I still feel good about. They were necessary at the time.

now? i don’t think they are so necessary. or not necessary in the same or for the same reasons.

anyway. this preamble is all me just saying that i’m going back to using neutral pronouns

“they, them, their”

if you please.

Politically (and maybe in my heart too), I’m still 1000% with twoc. But. Idk. Going to Detroit last summer for the AMC changed a lot of things and gave me some (i think) deeply needed perspective. As did moving tumblrs and shaking up stuff so that I would stop my slow slide into complacency (and the harm that brings to the ppl I care about).

i’ve mentioned on a few occassions that being an ~activist~ isn’t what I want from my life. and it really REALLY isn’t. at all. Not even a little. part of this is my eternal gullibility and how easily/deeply i’m influenced by the ppl I have in my life. it makes it SO incredibly important that i surround myself with ppl i can trust and who don’t try and bend me to their way of thinking/behaving.

the other problem… is that the little i’ve seen of ~activist~ type communities is that they are just as shitty and horrible as any other community. they permit abusers and sweep the unpleasantness aside out of a desire to keep things moving.

I don’t want to move any more.

I want time to stop and reflect. i don’t want to feel like i have to keep pushing myself to be uncomfortable and go beyond my limits/boundaries/abilities. while i want to keep decolonizing my mind and supporting and fighting for the stuff i believe in, i need to be able to do this stuff within my own abilities and boundaries.

how i’ve been doing stuff has been harming me.

i’ve been so willing to sacrifice my health in order to do what i think people expect me to do….

been so willing to subsume my self as Individual for the common/communal good.

i need to find a better balance between

“yes, i’m not the most oppressed and my privilege does oblige me to do something for those i oppress”

and

“yes, i experience multiple kinds of marginalization and survival is a fucking struggle”

idk.

this post was just supposed to be me telling everyone to use

‘they them their’

again.

Further Musings on Third Gender

(before i start, now that this old post of mine is going around again i want to note that it used the massively problematic framing of west/east, with ‘west’ literally used interchangeably for ‘white’. it is possible that it is after i originally posted that something like a year and a half ago, i first got called out for my participation in the erasure/genocide of the Indigenous ppls of the ~west~. i was sorry then and i’m sorry now. i’m leaving the post as is bc i don’t really believe in removing past stuff like that, for the sake of accountability. moreover, given that the resonance of hurtful shit you say lasts far longer than the moment in which you expressed it, any Indigenous person who calls me out for that post has a right to it. and i’ll listen and apologize every time)

The thing that really can get to me about how white non-binary people use the term is just how much history, bullshit colonialism, and outright erasure goes into their ability to happily and without much thought, use the term to describe their gender.

As an anthropological term, ‘third gender’ is already, always embedded within a white supremacist and orientalist discourse. For those unfamiliar with Orientalism as a theoretical framework, I’m not using this term to speak of specific areas of the world, rather in this particular post, it applies to any iaopoc culture where ‘third genders’ are said to exist. What I’m reference in using this term is the way that white academics/scientists/researchers set themselves up as ‘authorities’ over the discourse they claim is ‘knowledge’ about the peoples they study.

As an example, one of the more prominent scholars on ‘third genders’ or ‘transgender’ in the Philippines is Jack Winters. He is a white cis man working at the University of Hong Kong. If you attempt to do any amount of English language research on trans/gender in the PH, you bump into his work. I think I even read something by him in the HuffPo recently. He is an acknowledge ‘expert’ or ‘authority’ on the subject.

I’m sure you’ll note how ‘authority’ in this is doing double the work, since it is purposefully meant to mean ‘academic authority’ but also ‘colonial authority’. This is, above all, about relationships of power. And how colonial powers have continuously sought to ‘know’ and ‘understand’ its subjects in order to control us. This is the sort of thing that is captured or contained by the term Orientalism.

So this is what white nonbinary people are doing when they decide that ‘third gender’ is the right word to describe themselves… they are putting on themselves this term that was specifically designed by to construct a representation of a certain group of peoples as inferior and that facilitated our subjugation under colonialism.

This isn’t to say, though, that white nonbinary people are then othering themselves as subject of the colonial gaze…

Rather, what this signifies is the completion of the colonial project. Under colonialism there can be only two genders, just as heterosexuality is compulsory. That a term steep in violence and oppression like ‘third gender’ comes to be sanitized and neutral sounding to colonists is precisely the point. Academics (and anthropologists for a long time) sat around in their ivory towers thinking that their work was the objective and neutral creation of knowledge. Many of them still think this is what they do.

And since the one of the goals of colonialism is to ensure that a binary gender system is the only gender system, we who are third gender must not exist. Must not be allowed to continue to exist. Since many of the gender systems are part of what exists of the pre-colonial, indigenous culture, third genders (and the gender system under which they are coherent) must disappear along with the natives themselves.

Which brings us to today. Where I can open a white anthropology textbook1 to read about how I no longer exist. The textbook boldly claims that bayot and asog (bakla) no longer exist in the Philippines. An interesting claim given that ‘third gender’ beauty pageants are something big, visible, and fairly popular in many areas in the PH. Also an interesting claim given that I’m able to sit here and read about how I, in actual fact, don’t exist.

Actually, scratch that, the situation is far worse. Being told you don’t exist is painful, but it isn’t something entirely unique to people with indigenous cultures2. What is unique to us is being told that we once existed but are all gone now. Reading in a textbook that the Spanish (then American) colonizers where successful in entirely eradicating you and all the people like you. This is a trauma and pain unique to those of us who live under colonialism.

‘Third gender’ is really just white nonbinary people getting in on that colonial action by erasing the violent past of the term (and its theoretical framework) while also ensuring that the myth of our demise stays entrenched in the minds of all white people. Just so that I know I’m being very, very clear: the violence that white nonbinary people do by calling themselves ‘third gender’ is just erasure. It is active and willful participation in a 500+ year old project to ensure that people like me cease to exist. And even that sounds bloodless, ‘cease to exist’. No, they are participating in the actual material conditions that kills people like me.

Don’t be fooled. White people claiming ‘third gender’ is an act of violence and power.


  1. Yes, this has happened and I’m not shaking my head at myself for not keeping the citation.

  2. I’m using the small ‘i’ here to denote the fact that while I do have an indigenous gender, I am not an Indigenous person. Not only because I’m a settler in the area where I live, but also because of internal PH politics and my ethnic background as a Tagalog.

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.

so.

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