Category: trans

So a friend of mine is looking to get 200 Ontario Trans folks to participate in the TransForming Justice legal needs assessment survey [EDIT: Survey closes on or before September 30th, 2016, afaik. /EDIT]
The following is taken directly from the needs assessment website and/or the survey itself (emphasis is mine, though), which is available in English and French, and which you can download to preview the questions and/or fill out by hand, OR complete online:

Transforming Justice is a research project to help document the legal needs of trans* people in Ontario, identify access to justice barriers that trans* people face, and determine the needs of legal service providers (lawyers and paralegals) to provide more informed and inclusive services for trans* clients.
Given that HIV can also effect access to justice issues, a specific component of the project is examining access to justice issues experienced by trans* people living with or impacted by HIV.
We are collecting data using a survey for trans* people, one-on-one interviews for trans* people living with HIV, and focus groups for trans* people, including specific focus groups for Trans* People of Colour/Racialized Trans* people, First Nations, Metis, or Inuit Trans*/Two-Spirit People, and Trans* People living with or impacted by HIV. We are also collecting data from Legal Service Providers through focus groups.
While we are collecting data, the project is working to improve access to justice for trans* people by conducting public legal education workshops for trans* people about trans* legal rights and how to access reliable legal information and services. We are also providing continuing professional development workshops for legal service providers to help increase their capacity to provide informed and inclusive services for trans* clients.
To be eligible to complete the project survey and/or participate in a project focus group, you must be 16 years of age or over, live or work in Ontario, and identify as trans* [based on the following definition]:
“The project uses “trans*” as an umbrella term to refer to people with diverse experiences and identities, including two-spirit, non-binary, agender, gender queer, cross dresser, transgender and transsexual, as well as those who identify as men or women who have a history that involves a gender transition.”
The survey contains 4 core sections and is expected to take approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete. The core sections ask questions about you, about legal problems you may have had, about how you get your legal needs met, and about your views of the legal system.
There are 2 additional sections that ask more in depth questions about legal problems, experiences in different legal settings (for example, a court house, a tribunal, and/or law office), and interactions with people associated with the justice system (such as with judges, lawyers, paralegals, and/or police). The additional sections are optional, expected to take approximately 20 to 30 minutes, and are designed for people who have experienced legal problems and have gone to court or tried to get help from a legal service provider to deal with the problems.

So you know what you’re getting into:
Section A includes questions about personal information – “About You” stuff like binary/non-binary ID(s), gender ID(s), sexual orientation(s) (with a fair number of “tick all that apply” questions), racial(ized) identity/ies, Canadian immigration/citizenship status, & personal income, but also includes stuff about anxiety, depression, suicidality, housing-security, food-security, and abusive/violent relationships.
Section B includes questions about access (time, energy, availability, knowledge, physical accessibility), self-advocacy, and personal & professional access-support.
Section C includes questions about your feelings regarding the legal system in Ontario (it’s a pretty short section).
Section D includes questions about legal problems/“problems”, and interactions with the legal system in Ontario, that you have experienced personally, including family & child-specific family law, employment law, housing problems, medical treatment & mental health law, immigration law & refugee situations, jail time, personal injury & property damage, debt, various forms of social assistance including Ontario Works and ODSP, HIV-specific legal issue, and Discrimination stuff including, but not limited to, trans-specific discrimination.
The one thing that I would have expected, given that it’s a survey about the legal system that also touches on things like financial insecurity, job discrimination, and HIV criminalization, is that there didn’t appear to be any questions about sexwork or sexwork-stigma and how that effects people’s interactions with the legal system. It’s possible that they’re in there and I just missed them, though, as I was skimming rather than going through it line by line. YMMV.
ANYWAY. If you are trans, an Ontario-resident, and have had experience(s) with elements of the legal system, I hope you will take the time to fill this out, even though it’s a long one. Legal Aid is paying attention to the results of this one, so your responses might actually make some positive changes happen.
Thanks very much, and please feel free to pass the link and the information along to Ontario trans folks you know.
Ms Syren.

So someone on Twitter asked who-all was going to attend this evening’s Day Of Pink Gala (hosted by the CCGSD, formerly Jer’s Vision), and I responded, this morning, with one word: Nope.
While the sentiment was definitely clear, I did feel like I was being a bit misleading. So, as is my wont, I wrote a blog post to talk about this a little bit more.
Look. The truth of the matter is that I’ve never gone to a Day of Pink Gala. Even though it’s a free (iirc) party, and even though there’s a good chance that there’s free food at said free party, and even though I am exactly the kind of broke artist who will show up at a stranger’s vernisage specifically to eat the free cheese while trying to get a modeling job… I never went to DoP. For Reasons. Put it down to my being a home-body and big crowds making me nervous.
In previous years, this wasn’t anything to Make A Statement about, so I never did. At most, I’d shrug and go “Meh. I think I’ve got something else on that night” and not mention that “something else” was probably “youtube videos”. But then this happened: The CCGSD appointed Laureen Harper as their Day Of Pink ambassador. Now, on her own, Laureen Harper is just… some chick. Google her, and pretty-much all you’ll find is her connection to her husband, the current leader of the governing party of Canada.
You know, the biggest bully in the country.
(Okay, he might be tied with Don Plett, but every slime-ball needs a wingman, amirite?)
So here’s the thing. It is (technically) possible to have a lasting, loving relationship with a partner whose politics differ radically from your own. At least in theory[1]. So this would be a completely different situation if Laureen Harper’s youth-advocacy work involved being vocally and publically supportive of the rights of specifically queer and trans students to a harassment-free learning environment.
But, as far as I can tell, she’s not doing that. Sure, she talks about how it’s important to support diversity in schools, but in Ottawa, and in Ontario more generally, we’ve been watching state-sponsored English-language Catholic schools insist on the term “diversity” as a way to specifically refuse to support, or even recognize, their queer and trans students. “Diversity” in and of itself is great – the Pagans have a saying, “Strength in Diversity”, that references how much healthier a tall-grass prairie is to a monocrop, for example, how many voices singing in harmony with each other are way more powerful, more moving, than one voice shouting all alone – but “diversity” isn’t great when it’s co-opted by people who are actively trying to force you back into a closet.
Also, something worth noting: Pink Shirt Day was originally a campaign started by two rural Nova Scotia 12th-graders in support of a ninth-grade student who was hit with specifically homophobic slurs when he wore a pink shirt to school one day. Day Of Pink is a national upshot of youth-for-youth solidarity and, importantly, of youth standing with peers who face violence specifically because their gender presentation and/or sexual orientation is, or is perceived to be, outside of what’s considered “normal”.
So here’s a story from my own childhood:
I didn’t know “bisexual” was a thing until I was sixteen, and it took another year for me to figure out that “bixsexual” was a term that applied to me. But I didn’t need to be “out and proud” or even just “visibly queer” (as a cis, femme, little girl, the only things that marked me as “other” were my height, my music, and – unexpectedly? – my insistence on wearing dresses) to face homophobic bullying. Nobody beat me up, but my fifth grade was all about getting swarmed by mobs of classmates jeering “Are you a lesbian? Are you a lesbian???” (if you were wondering about where that fear of crowds came from…), stealing my shoes, being told that people being “different” was fine just “Not when they’re different like you”. It was my teachers being deeply unsettled to see me doing a Fred and Ginger dance routine with another girl in my grade.
I know damn well that I was not the only turned-out-to-be-queer kid in my class. Not just statistically, either (Ottawa’s a small town, for a place with a million people). Given that none of our teachers were saying “there’s nothing wrong with this, stop being a douche-canoe”, I can’t say I blame them for letting me draw the fire, if they’d even figured themselves out yet, which isn’t necessarily the case. But if they knew? If nine and ten year old kids knew they were One Of Us, and knew that to keep themselves safe they had to laugh at the (other) faggot right along with the Normal People… do you really think they wouldn’t?
I’m not typically one to quote Ivan Coyote, but they said something on facebook a while back, after having seen a high school teacher wearing a pink t-shirt that read “The Pink Shirt Says It All”. What they said on facebook was (I’m paraphrasing, I think) “The pink shirt means fuck-all if it’s not backed up with action”.
Look. There are things that CCGSD does that I really, really like. I love that they hold national conferences where high school students can learn how to advocate for themselves and their peers with a specific focus on gender and/or sexuality minorities and youth of colour. I love that they run Rainbow Write, locally, which is a program that bring queer and/or trans writers and, frequently, specifically queer and/or trans writers of colour, to Ottawa to do writing workshops with queer and trans teens[2] (and, if space allows, Rainbow Brights of all ages). But Day Of Pink is supposed to be about stopping specifically homophobic and transphobic bullying; about making schools and, more broadly, the world safer for our children; for sending the message (and backing it up with action, folks!) that this particular type of cruelty – which is used to police gender and sexuality at every age and regardless of what a given targeted-person’s gender and sexual orientation actually are, but which always, always hurts OUR kids, no matter whom its directed at – is absolutely not okay. Deciding that the appropriate ambassador for this message is someone who will actively dilute it, who is someone with deep and personal ties to a party that is clearly dead set against all of us who live outside of that tiny, narrow charmed circle? My dears, that was the wrong decision.
Those feelings of rage and betrayal that are flying all over twitter right now? Those feelings are real. Some of us believed you had our backs. But getting popular with the powerful crowd by betraying those who are already getting stomped on?
Honey… that’s what bullies do.
Ms Syren.
[1] Although, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how. That is a hell of a hard road to walk, even when your partner’s hateful, fear-mongering politics aren’t routinely being rammed into actual federal laws.
[2] The second time I came out – as kinky and poly and queer-femme – as an adult with my own place to live, it was queer (and frequently kinky and poly) femme poets who got me through my divorce, helped me see my reflection on paper, and helped me find my voice as a writer. I can’t imagine how much more of a huge fucking relief it would be for a queer and/or trans kid, a teenager who might be afraid of getting kicked out of their home if they’re open about who they are, to meet and be mentored by adults who are just like them and who get it.

H’okay. So C279, which started out pretty decent, is getting worse and worse. Now they’re trying to ammend it so that trans people[1] would have to carry their surgery-status papers (wtf??) with them just to use a fucking bathroom. Um, hello? The whole point of the bill was to PROTECT the human rights of TRANS PEOPLE!
God. That hateful man’s granddaughter is in more danger from him – statistically, if for no other reason, since he’s an adult relative – than from some random perp who decided that jumping out from behind a bush was too passé and that going through the effort of dressing in drag is totally the new wave of victim-accosting[2].
Anyway. Thinking about this, and having read Jeana’s post about Indiana (where she lives), I’m starting to wonder what we can do in terms of checking with businesses (I’m thinking in particular public pools, spas, gyms, yoga studios, etc) locally regarding what their policies are.
While yes, in Ontario, trans people’s human rights are protected by Toby’s Law, and Provincial law does take presidence over Federal under these circumstances, (a) the law isn’t necessarily reliably upheld in, for example, court situations[4], and (b) it’s only Ontario. BC has a similar law[4], and so does the NWT, BUT outside of those jurisdictions, everyone else doesn’t even have a matchstick to hold up. As someone living on the border with another province, it would be really nice to be able (to pick a swanky example) to do an informal Dyke Day at Le Nordik without worrying that the trans women among us would be open to that much more potential harrassment.
So, here’s what I’m thinking: Let’s phone/email our local community centres, spas, gyms, etc and see who will pull a Planet Fitness and support trans people using their facilities and, therefore, who does (and, incidentally, who does not) deserve our money. Okay? Okay.
Ms Syren.
[1] Which would disproportionately effect trans women and trans-fem-spectrum people, for all the usual reasons, which can be case-in-pointed by how the focus of these idiots trying to ruin C279 boils down the “ZOMG MAN in DRESS! My delicate masculinity is afeared[3]!”
[2] FFS. Look. The whole business where predators – rapists who rape adults, rapists who rape kids, you name it – “jump out from behind a bush” or “hide in a dark alley” or otherwise attack people who are not both already vulnerable AND known to them?… We’ve known that this is bullshit for AGES. Everyone knows that predators are lazy. Attacking a stranger in a bathroom or a locker room takes effort. It’s risky, in that public locker-rooms and rest-rooms are well-lit, typically well-populated, public places, and it’s risky in that most people in thse well-lit, well-populated public spaces aren’t already incapacitated in some way. It’s unlikely to work. Even without having to buy special clothes[1] to do it, it’s still WAY easier to attack someone who already trusts you, with-whom you have a visibly possitive, or at least social/familial, relationship, so that nobody will believe that you did it even IF your victim believes it themselves and starts telling people.
[3] Which I wish was as easy to laugh off as I’ve written it, but seriously, this is the root cause of the murder of SO MANY WOMEN. Another black, trans woman was murdred – by police, fyi – just yesterday. Her name was Mya Shawatza Hall (please read the whole thing).
[4] For “Reasons”, mostly, but also because “gender identity” and “gender expression” weren’t explicitely define and, as such, a given judge could theoretically choose to interpret the terms using a super-narrow, genitals/medical/surgical-based definition (as has been the case in BC, for example).

Hey there, everybody.
So this morning was full of a twitter discussion about what meds are contraindicated for Grapefruit (juice, but also the whole fruit). Pyke Barber dug up this handy list which, if you are on Anti-Depresants or Hormone Replacements of any kind (but also potentially a bunch of other meds that effect your brain) you should probably double-check about, if you don’t already know:
Grapefruit Effectiveness, Safety and Drug Interactions (RxList)
Other links of note:
Sophia Banks has this article about C279 and State-Sanctioned (and Perpetuated) Violence Against Trans Folks (esp Women).
Here’s an article from Xtra pertaining to C279 that you may want to check out (if you want to read all the hateful shit that comes out of Don Plett’s damn mouth, anyway…) and another one from HuffPo (that is slightly less awful to get through). Amnesty International is deeply unimpressed.
On a Sucktastically related note:
Sumaya Ysl, a black, trans, ballroom dancer from Toronto, was found dead last Sunday morning after being seen fleeing a man the night before.
If you are a writer of a womanly persuasion, you might considering submitting something to Bitch Magazine‘s “Blood and Guts” issue. Perhaps someone who knew Sumaya would like to submit a piece on intersectional violence? Maybe?
Eugh. And, this-just-in: Her Name was Melonie – Another Trans WoC Has Committed Suicide.
FFS. Hey, cis people, maybe we can all email Don Plett (again…) and tell him off for his abject failure to protect women and kids from violence? Let’s do that.
Note: When you email him? You’re going to get a shitty, condescending, mansplainy piece of bullshit back for your efforts. Do it anyway. What a hateful man. 😦

First up:
If you would like to support people arrested in Ferguson, please donate here.
If you would like to support sexworkers’ fight to get Bill C-36 struck from the books as soon as possible on the grounds of its blatant unconstitutionality, please donate here.
If you would like to support Indiginous people fighting legal battles against Kinder Morgan and the proposed pipeline through Burnaby Mountain, please donate here (this one’s not an indiegogo campaign).
New Brunswick abortion restriction lifted by Premier Brian Gallant – Hurrah! 😀
A Variety of Posts Relating To Sexwork:
Bill C-36’s negative impact on racialized and migrant sex workers.
Remembering Stone Butch Blues‘ Pledge to Sexworkers.
Why Feminism Needs Sex Workers and Trans People.
On a completely different note, you can find music by awesome pianist & musicologist Dana Baitz here (music compilation ft all trans performers), here (lgbt spoken word), and here (Dana’s reverbnation page). Enjoy!

If you’re in Canada and would like to do something at least slightly concrete to support trans human rights here (or, heck, even if you’re NOT in Canada but would like to lend your support), particularly given that today is Trans Day of Remembrance, here’s something you can do:
Right now, Bill C-279 (read the whole Bill here) is in Committee, and has been since June 2014.
The bill, as drafted, will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination as well as amending the Criminal Code to include gender identity as a distinguishing characteristic protected under section 318 and as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into consideration under section 718.2 at the time of sentencing (both of these sections pertain to hate crimes).
This is not the first time a private member has put forth a bill to protect the human rights of trans people in Canada. I would personally appreciate it if the bill actually made it through and became law this time.
To that end, I encourage you all to take part in PSAC’s letter-writing campaign and email members of the senate (PSAC offers this list, along with a handy letter-template to help you out) urging them to support C-279 as currently drafted and to pass it with all speed.
PSAC’s list also includes the few senators who have twitter handles and/or facebook pages, so that you can contact them through those channels as well[1].
Okay. Some of you are going to be thinking “What the heck good is this going to do?” when being race and sex are already protected under the human rights code and yet the majority of people who are remembered at TDoR are women of colour. And that’s a really valid question.
Trans activist Morgan M. Page points out that:

“TDOR is about the combination of three factors: transmisogyny, racism, whorephobia. Across the board, those we remember on TDOR were trans women of colour engaged in sex work. This tells us where our activism needs to be. We need another day to mourn those we lose to suicide, illness, and neglect.”

Writing letters in support of Bill C-279 will help put legislation in place that will mitigate microagressions like employers refusing to let someone work front-of-house at their job. It will also mitigate more macro discriminations like doctors refusing to prescribe day-to-day meds due to “discomfort”. Legislation like what’s proposed by C-279 is definitely important. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Other things you can do (a list collected from a couple of folks on Facebook):
– Support sex workers rights – Sex workers need to work safely and be protected by legislation instead of being targeted and criminalized.
– Support anti-racism programs & actions – PoC face much higher rates of police & state violence (both in the immediate, physical sense and in the legislative sense).
– Support mental illness and suicide intervention programs – Trans people have much higher risks for mental illness and suicide.
– Support youth homelessness programs – Because breaking the cycle of parental abandonment and youth poverty can completely change people’s lives.
Ms Syren.
[1] EDIT: FYI, and not that this is going to shock anybody[2], but when you write to Don Plett, you’ll probably get a slimy, condescending reply dripping with enough ignorance and transmisogyny to make you want to fucking scream before the end of the third paragraph. So, y’know. Forewarned is forearmed…
[2] Except, apparently, me – who figured he’d at least have the sense to keep his bigotry really vague in any reply he chose to make.
Votive Candles in the Dark

Xanthra MacKay

So. I was at the RHO conference in Toronto last week.
And it was awesome in a zillion different way, and I’ll probably do a write-up about some of it in a bit. BUT I came down from my hotel room and greeted my boss and asked him if he’d gotten up to anything the night before, and I misheard what he said. And this led to some clarification, and then I had to go and write this poem.
You May Know Of Her
My boss came into work this morning
to work this mourning
to work through this
a woman on my street
passed away
you may
know of her

you may know of her
(a question)
you may know of her
a woman
I never knew
and then I know
her neighbourhood
her profession
her body
more intimately than I ever earned
I learned
in those few words
you may know of her
so let me know of her
this sister whom I never knew
let me know her now
And I wrote it out and I gave it to him later that day, and the next morning he showed me this. I found this on the same blog.
A poet, a creator, a multidisciplinary artits, an activist, a contemporary of other women – Mirha-Soleil Ross, Vivian Namaste – whom I’ve had the honour of meeting, however briefly. I’m sorry I never got to meet Ms MacKay. She sounds quite a bit more than brilliant.
Ms Syren.

Just wanting to link this here. Ottawa didn’t, to my knowledge, have a rally outside either the Swedish or the Turkish embasy last Friday, but POWER did send off two formal letters the the respective ambassadors of those coutries.
Friday, July 19th, 2013
Attn: His Excellency Tuncay Babalı, Ambassador of Turkey
Re: The murder of Dora Özer


Friday, July 19th, 2013
Attn: His Excellency Teppo Tauriainen, Ambassador of Sweden
Re: The murder of Petite Jasmine

Ms Syren.

So this is one of those conversations I tend to tip-toe around or talk about in generalities rather than holding up, and taking to task, my own, local community. So I’m a tad nervous here. Consequently this post (which is kind of on the long side, even for me – more than 1,700 words not including all the footnotes) is going to use my own, local community as one example in a discussion of a much larger situation.
Bear with me, please.

A few months ago, shortly after NMA Ottawa, I wrote a post about trans women, cis women, and queer women’s spaces where I talked about the phrase “I don’t want to hurt someone”.
Much more recently, I made a post about femmes flagging with nail polish and, in it, I alluded briefly to the privileging of masculinity in dyke/queer-women’s spaces. And I got a reader comment[1] asking me to talk more about that subject because she experienced that masculine-privileging as femme invisibility.
And then, yesterday morning, my young lady and I got an email on one of our community lists, starting a discussion about this article on Feministing, the phrase “women and trans”, and the growing perception of it – or the underlying vibe at events, dating tendencies, and spaces labeled as such – as Problematic or Not Okay.

And I thought: The privileging of masculinity within dyke space; and the prevalence of the phrase “women and trans” to describe the desired demographics of a particular type of dyke space; and the exclusion that queer trans women frequently feel, to one degree or another, in that particular type of dyke space… Those are all related.

So I decided to try and write about that inter-relation and about how the phrase “women and trans” is exclusionary in general, but also how it ends up being specifically exclusionary to trans women.

The first thing I want to do is to talk about me (me, me, me…) in order to reveal at least some of my more significant biases. Because I think that has an effect on the use of “women and trans” and how its use is perceived.


First thing is that I’m binary-identified, cisgender, cissexual, and femme.
So I don’t have a “masculine side”. My experience of “having” a masculine gender presentation has been – a few times a year, so not exactly frequently – one of being misgendered by people who are drunk, distracted, or just very narrow-minded in terms of their understanding of “woman”, who have seen my height and, maybe, my shoulders and thought That has got to be a guy…
I don’t have to pack two sets of clothes for every vacation/event/trip because I don’t know, for sure, which point on my own gender spectrum I’ll be occupying on any given day. I’ve only got the one point, and it’s firmly rooted in “chick”. (Which means that there’s going to be a fair bit of “I imagine that, maybe” and “I’ve heard people with X experience say” in this essay).

Second thing is that, perhaps in spite of being a bi-dyke rather than a “capital L lesbian”, I’ve got a dyke separatist streak in me that’s a good mile wide. My definition of “women” might be vastly different from the biological reductionism espoused by, say, a certain music festival we all know and loathe[2], but I still get fluttery over the concepts of “women’s land” and “women’s space” and “women’s experiences” and stuff like that. When I see “women and trans party”, what I want it to mean is “cis and trans WOMEN’S PARTY (with, okay, maybe a couple of guys thrown in because they’re somebody’s partner)”.

Third thing is my own dating history. Most of the women I’ve fallen for, crushed on, flirted with, dated, partnered, and loved have (a) been feminine of center in their gender presentation, (b) had a history of transition or ID’d as trans(sexual), (c) been somewhere on the bi/queer/pan spectrum rather than being “gold star lesbians”, or (d) all of the above.

All of this to say that, both personally and romantically, I have a vested interest in spaces where femmes, feminine-of-centre bi-dykes & queer chicks[3], transsexual women, women with trans histories, and women whose gender histories, sexual orientations, and gender presentations blend some or all of those categories in various ways, are welcomed on more than just paper.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that because where a given person’s gender ID and gender presentation “live” is going to have a big effect on the kind of space they want to occupy/create and – more to the point of this post – what the phrase “women and trans” is going to mean to them and potentially how they’re going to perceive spaces/events that are labeled as such.

Which leads me to this (lots of speculation):

I imagine that someone who is faab and genderqueer/genderfluid might read “women and trans” as “I can bring all my selves to the party”. Not having to force yourself into a binary ID/presentation when that’s not you is, I can assume, kind of a help.
Likewise, I imagine that a queer faab chick who tends to date (faab) people who are masculine-of-centre in their gender presentations or whose gender identities are somewhere on the trans-masculine spectrum… would probably have a vested interest, romantically speaking, in attending events where their partners (or potential partners) wouldn’t be excluded. Likewise, maybe/maybe-not, she might feel more secure in a “women and trans” space because (maybe?) she wouldn’t feel like her own identity as a queer woman could be challenged/forfeited[4] due to the gender-ID of her partners[6].
SexGeek has an (old) post called venn diagrams of likelihood about the energetic/attitudinal differences she frequently sees between “pansexual” play spaces and “women and trans”/“queer and trans” play spaces. Some of the language is a little dated, but I think it’s a relevant counterpoint to this in terms of the kind of vibe that (cissexual and/or faab) people may be using “woman and trans” to describe.
Which is great.
I can’t help thinking that the experience of spaces/events labeled “women and trans” is probably quite different – maybe identity-splitting, maybe erasing, maybe invalidating, maybe anxiety-provoking, maybe something else entirely – for the chicks who are both trans and women… you can see that reflected in the original “I’ve had it with ‘I date women and trans men’” article, linked at the beginning of this post, but also in the author’s follow-up post and elsewhere, from other bloggers (e.g.: here and here).
Now all of that is, yes, a total guess on my part – albeit a guess based on anecdata (perhaps not much better than a guess based on fuck-all) but there you have it.

So. Moving on from there.

Where am I going with this?
First thing, I guess, is that I’m a cis chick and I’ve been twitchy about the phrase “women and trans” for a couple of years – through organizing an event with that designation, even, though I don’t like what that might say about me – because, like it or not, good intentions or not, someone is getting left out or delegitimized when we use those words to describe our community or our events.

The guys who come to (and, in some situations, run) the “women and trans” events that I attend (and, in some situations, run) are by and large the kind of guys I’m okay with letting into my “boy-free zone” of a life[7]. I don’t know what makes them comfortable being men in spaces that are, far more often than not, explicitly coded as queer women’s spaces.
All things being equal, one would think that queer trans women would flock to these dyke-coded, “women and trans” labeled (fucked up language aside, though more on that shortly), events, knowing that those spaces are theirs, while het/bi trans guys might be inclined to give them a miss, possibly because they don’t want to get hit with the whole “dude-lite” thing[8].
Or, alternatively, all things being equal, the people who want the kind of vibe described in SexGeek’s post (above), wouldn’t feel like they could only get it by finding “inclusive” ways of saying, effectively, “Cis dudes (and your probably-present gender-privilege-induced sense of entitlement) keep out!”
Either way.

… But all things aren’t equal, are they?

That’s the trick.

My women’s community, my queer community, my broader local and national QUILTBAG communities, are all born from, and theoretically in some sort of opposition to, a heteronormative dominant culture that, in addition to everything I said in footnote six[6], privileges masculinity over femininity, men over women, and maleness over femaleness.
That stuff is fed to us on every possibly level from the cradle.
Which means it’s buried really deep and it shows up in different ways in different people, and when you manage to strip away the latest, top-most layer, there’s always more, and more subtly so, underneath it.

My partner says that language is the least of the problem, that phrases like “women and trans women” and “women and trans event” are indicative of a much larger problem, but aren’t the root of it.
And she’s right.
But I believe that language both shapes and maintains worldview[9].
And I believe that, in a (sub/counter) culture that both privileges masculinity over femininity[10] and is deeply suspect of the entitlement and gender-privilege of cis men – a privilege that we are translating onto everyone with maab bodies… yeah. I believe that under those circumstances, the use of the words “women and trans” to define our spaces will result in trans women fearing hostility or feeling excluded and therefore not showing up (or showing up only when they’re coming with an established partner; or showing up but not expecting to get any play; or showing up but not talking very much; or showing up but feeling like they have to keep their bodies under wraps in order to be tacitly accepted as part of the community; or showing up but feeling guarded about how much, if at all, they can trust the rest of us; or, or, or).
And if that’s what’s happening, then we need to find new language.

If what we’re striving for is that body-loving, pleasure-positive, privilege-aware, diversity-celebrating, consent-active, creative, hedonistic culture/vibe/space… and some of the people we want to include are feeling excluded and therefore not showing up… it’s not just on them to screw their courage up and come in spite of their misgivings. It’s really, really, really on us to (a) change the language we use when we’re describing our events/spaces – for example, explicitely stating “this is a party for kinky, queer, cis and trans women and for trans men who have history in our community & who are comfortable being in women’s space”[11], and (b) challenge the attitudes[12] that back up, justify, or are justified by that exclusive language.

Thanks for reading this, I know it’s been long.

Ms Syren.

[1] Which, like, never happens.

[2] Actually, Alice Kalafarski has an article about that which includes the following paragraph:
[…] I know that the majority of festies are in the middle with her. They don’t want to be transphobic, but they don’t want to actively call out the bigots and be part of a conflict that makes it harder for every (cis) woman to hold hands and have a great time at fest.[…]

[3] I’m making a distinction here because, while I might think “My friend Beryl is totally a femme. She wears makeup when she wants to feel powerful and isn’t afraid to get naked in public”… ‘Beryl’ might not actually ID as femme. It’s a thing.

[4] I’m a member of an online support[5] group for (frequently cis) partners of trans people and a LOT of queer-identified cis women post to the group about how, now that their partner is starting T, they (the post-maker) are having a bit of an identity crisis because they’ve ID’d as a lesbian for years/decades and are now (officially) dating a guy.

[5] Although “support” isn’t always what happens – frequently it’s “let’s ignore this person’s need for help and support in favour of crucifying the n00b for not already knowing the approved language when their partner’s just come out to them”.

[6] See also: Biphobia in dyke spaces which, like femme- phobia/invisibility, is related to transmisogyny: They all boil down to biological reductionism, androcentrism, and the alleged linear relationship between genitals, gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender presentation as taught to us by a heteronormative dominant culture that doesn’t have a clue what to do with any of us.

[7] See above re: mile-wide streak of lesbian-separatism, yes, but also: When I got divorced (from a dude) and came out (again) as a bi-dyke and a queer chick, this time actively looking for a girlfriend, I decided that my life was going to be, as its default state, a “boy-free zone”. What this really meant was that I changed my “default boundaries” and my assumptions about how I “had to” behave with someone who used male pronouns, and started holding men to the same standards of behaviour that I’ve held women to For Evar in order to be willing to hang out with them. Whadaya know: As soon as I did this, I started liking guys a whole lot more. /shocking.

[8] I feel kind of weird saying that because, in my idealized vision of a cis and trans Queer Women’s event/party/space, the (cis) women in question also don’t pull the “dude-lite” thing because we don’t reduce anyone’s gender-identity to the genitals they currently have or were born with.

[9] This is why being able to name ourselves is important. This is why colonial powers kidnap generations of kids and prevent them from speaking their own languages. This is why reclaiming slurs is powerful… when they are reclaimed by people who have actually had those slurs used against them.

[10] In some extreme cases – like the one Sherilyn Connelly talks about in her essay (“In the Shadow of the Valley”) in Visible: A Femmethology – this can manifest as a culture of “you have to be on T in order to prove that you’re butch enough to be a real dyke”. O.O

[11] Not nearly as short-and-sweet as “women and trans”, but it doesn’t leave anything blurry, either. And that matters. That said, if anyone has suggestions for a short-and-sweet phrase to use instead? I am all ears!

[12] A word on “challenging attitudes”: That doesn’t just mean “purge it with venom and fire” (something I sometimes need to work on). It means taking your beloved friend aside (which, I’m aware, is way scarier than bitching out someone you don’t know very well) and saying things like “I know you feel really [thingy] about Situation Q, but when you talk about Situations D and F as though they were Q, you’re kind of confusing things and you’re being really rude. Do you want to maybe talk about that?”
Which maybe sounds like babying the privileged people, but which is (I hope) actually giving the privileged people a chance to confront their own privilege, stereotypes, and internalized crap in a way that they may actually do it – rather than, say, a way where they’ll just clam up and, at best, do the gender equivalent of white guilt, instead of actually looking at their Stuff and exorcising it.

Today, Toby’s Act (Bill 33, introduced for the fourth time in five years by MPP Cheri DiNovo) became Toby’s Law. Gender identity and gender expression are now enshrined in the Ontario Human Rights Code (making Ontario, iirc, one of only two jurisdictions in North America – the other being the North West Territories – to protect gender identity and gender expression in their human rights legislation).

This is good news.
I know there are folks who are feeling kind of “Meh” about it. There are loads of people who would rather see legislation that effects concrete things like SRS funding or being able to change the gender markers on their ID without having to jump through a heap of gate keepers’ hoops.
Which makes sense.

However I also see human rights legislation as a wedge that can be used to push for the more concrete things.
I know that Bill C-279 went through its second hour of debate last week, and I’d like to see this bill become law for specifically that reason (although give Mercedes Allen a read about the negative effects of a possible amendment to the bill – she raises some very good points). I think that if it’s illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender expression, then this can (I hope? In theory?) be used to push for, say, ditching the requirement that someone have had SRS (and signed documents to prove it) before they can have their passport, health card, and other ID updated to reflect their real gender.

So. Yes. Ontario stepped up (finally). Hopefully things will follow suit on the federal level, ideally in short order.

Ms Syren.