Tag Archive: body policing


Hey!
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.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.

So, below, is a fairly large excerpt from this other post I wrote for Urban Meliad as part of the New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (if you’re a Woo Person, you may want to give it a go yourself). Given the subject matter, I thought it was appropriate to post it over here, as well.
As a heads up, I’m talking a little bit about dissociative things I do in (some) sexual situations but I’m not getting into discussions or depictions of sexual trauma. Also, I talk a bunch about tarot cards which might be a little out of left-field here, but is context-appropriate for the way I’m doing the Experiment over at Urban Meliad.
Onwards!
 
 
The first time I looked at the Osho Zen depiction of the Queen of Cups (Receptivity), what I saw in her double-helix-stemmed lotus blossom body was the Chalace (Brittish Traditional Wiccan style, in case you missed the metaphor). I keep thinking about the message to Slow Down from back in early April, and about not being as in my body as I thought I was and, maybe it’s because of the afore-mentioned sex-and-money rabbit hole, but I kind of feel like the Hard Thing I’ve been putting off is sex, specifically bottoming in sexual situations. (It’s something I can do, and something that I can enjoy a LOT… but I’m also really out of practice, and the last few times I’ve tried it, things have not ended well. I’ve wound up clinging to my various partners asking them over and over “Are you safe? Are you okay?” – a dissociative Thing where it’s pretty easy to spot what I’m really asking. FML.
I’m fucking tired of it!
 
So I did a Hard Thing the other night, and asked for something sexually specific from someone specific. And the someone specific said Yes.
 
Which you’d think would have been it for the hard part, but you would be wrong!
Turns out, there’s a whole other Hard Part that I didn’t even know was there!
 
So. Working this out:
Brené Brown writes (in The Gifts of Imperfection, iirc) that Joy is one of the most vulnerable feelings out there, and that because of this, people (i.e.: ME) are quick to numb out joy with things like Preemptive Tragedy or by setting up a permanent campsite in the Slaugh of Despond (perpetual, pre-emptive disappointment).
 
Slogging through the internal landscape of what I think I am, and am not, Supposed To feel:
I’m not supposed to want things
OR
I AM supposed to “want things” but only in-so-far as I’m able to psychically predict what other people want to me to want, which I an then present to them like it was all my idea OR Wanting specific things is greedy, and makes you a burden/bother, and you should know better than to be like that
OR
You can WANT things all you like, but actually ASKING for them is heaping social pressure on someone else to do what you want, whether they want to or not, so you might as well just tattoo “rapist” on your forehead and get it over with, you horrible, horrible, self-centred, demanding jerk
 
…Slogging through that stuff is hard. Getting the words out of my mouth is hard. But, for me at least (and in a situation where there was at least a 50% chance of getting a Yes in the first place), it was even harder to get through what came after.
 
The Hard Thing, it turns out, is stopping myself from slamming my own fist down on hope and joy by telling myself All The Stories – stories like:
They’re just saying yes to be ‘nice’ to you, they don’t really want to do this and you should just let them off the hook before you screw this up even worse;
OR
Okay, you’ve asked, and they’ve said yes. Now what happens if you freeze up and reneg on the deal? What happens then, huh? You’ll have Led Them On and then Let Them Down, that’s what! Maybe you should just call the whole thing off before you screw this up even worse.
 
The hard part is staying open, and it took recognizing the feeling as one I’d had before (over a year ago actually, back when C first said they were interested in me and I spent a train-ride home from Toronto wanting to sob my eyes out because I was so full of hope that was trying so hard to turn into despair) for me to figure out what was happening.
Maybe if (when?) I feel that feeling again, I’ll be able to recognize it and tell myself: “Wait! This isn’t something that you have to squash! Stay hopeful! Stay open! This is already going somewhere good!”
 
Staying open felt like being filled up to overflowing (with something really positive), feeling a little overwhelmed and like I needed to dial things back or else Something Would Go Wrong… But it didn’t, in and of itself, feel bad. And staying emotionally open had some er… pleasant side-effects on the physical front? Yay? 🙂
 
I think that feeling – brim-full and possibly overflowing, but able to accept that more is coming – is the Queen of Cups Feeling.
 
I read something in Healing Sex (which I’d forgotten I’d bought years ago and in-which I’d already made a bunch of notes) the other day, about how as you push through barriers, you are going to feel all the uncomfortable, crappy feelings all over again, and you’re going to have to figure out which of those uncomfortable (emotional and/or phsyical) sensations are crappy-and-triggering because you don’t like them, versus which ones are uncomfortable but actually okay (like: If you try to stop yourself from getting turned on because of bad experiences or feelings around getting turned on during a Bad Situation, it’s okay to continue with a Good Situation, even if you are trying not to get turned on, and you might be able to let yourself get turned on in those Good Situations eventually). This reminds me a little of that.
 
Learning (or remembering?) how to discern which Intense Feelings mean “stop” versus which ones mean “keep going”, rather than treating all of them as “This is Too Intense! ACK!” is… kind of a big deal? I feel kind of like I’ve had a penny-drop moment, albeit probably one that’s going to involve a lot of practicing before it becomes something I can do without having to talk myself thorugh it on a concious level. (Although talking myself through “stay hopeful, stay open” in the emotional sense is actually a mega-tonne easier than talking myself through “stay in your body, don’t over-think everything” in the physical sense has ever, ever been, possibly for obivous reasons).
 
I have a chunk of rose quartz tucked into my bra, near my heart. I have Plans for this, but one of them is a little bit of self-glamoury to keep some love-for-me close at hand when I need it.
Touching on the Two of Cups again [EDIT: this is the tarot card I chose to represent this prompt over at UM for a bunch of reasons which you can read all about in the original. /EDIT], the Mary-El version, as Beth Maiden puts it, depicts the “[…J]oy of emotional connection, the sublimity of blending energies[…]”. Of offering and accepting and receiving and offering back; of feeding each other.
I want to do this with my partner(s).
I want to build on this and keep opening.
 
 
Cheers,
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!
AUGH!!!
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].
Eugh.
 
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.
Go.
 
 
TTFN,
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, folks.
 
So Parliament is going into (I think) Reading #2 of Bill C-51, the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Act”, which proposes a bunch of heavy-duty changes to Canadian law and to our national security infrastructure. A lot of these changes would negatively effect the rights and freedoms of Canadians (which is bad enough, honestly, BUT there’s more) without any sort of follow-through in terms of actually improving public safety (in fact, there’s a been a few annalysts who’ve pointed out the ways in which it does the opposite – give this a read for those details). This article breaks it down. If you’re hazy on the details of what the bill actually does, or are looking for a quick reference to use while composing a letter to your MP (or ALL the MPs, for that matter), I suggest that you give it a read. NOTE: You can also check out this Storify which has LOTS of links and information on the bill.
 
If you’re in Ottawa, you may want to participate in the Day of Action to Stop Bill C-51 as well. Click on that link to find events happening this Saturday (the Day of Action in question), as well as related events happening through the month of March.
 
Please do what you can to stop this bill in its tracks.
Thank you.
Ms Syren.

So, quite some while ago – actually, a whole year ago, give or take a week or two – I was in Toronto for a conference that included a workshop on exploring gender through visual art. It was a grand old time, and I was surprised to see how much of my sense of gender was rooted specifically in femme rather than woman and, additionally, how much teary, shaking, rage was built into it.
I don’t know why that is.
I mean, I have theories. The little voice at the back of my brain singing girl, girl, girl was never told to shut up, never silenced. Whereas femme was something I had to find and, to some extent, fight for. I’m cissexual, so any time I gravitated towards a thing that was culturally coded as “girly” or “feminine” I got a big old “YES YOU ARE DOING GENDER RIGHT” from everyone around me (and, yeah, backwards much? But there it is) and, because I tended not to gravitate towards “boyish”/“masculine” things I didn’t get much “Yer Doing It Rong”. Except when I did what I now think of as “femme stuff”.
Which I guess means I need to offer up a personal working definition of Femme, how I was introduced to the word, and what it means for me.
I started finding femme – the word, the possibility that it might fit me – during my first marriage. I was shaping up to be a whole lot gayer (and kinky, and probably non-monogamous) than I’d originally thought, and the social expectations around being a hetero(normative) wife – with all the stuff that goes along with that[1], the expectations of modest-but-not-too-modest officially vanilla (but unofficial/unspoken submissive) heterosexuality, desire for kids & motherhood, even religious/political views and career aspirations (which starts digging into class stuff, but it’s tied up with the idea of “wife”, too), of not rocking the boat, of knowing when to keep quiet – was really, really uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time at family functions escaping to the bathroom so that I could let my shoulders come down from around my ears.
So finding femme – a word that is intimately tied, for me at least, to (a) being Girl, (b) being feminine rather than masculine, (c) being openly sensual & sexual, but also and very importantly (d) owning my own body & having physical & sexual autonomy beyond a Yes/No switch that could only be flicked once – was kind of a massive big deal. Like “Wait, that’s an option??”
I’ve heard Femme described as “broken femininity” and also – frequently – as a femininity that is “too much”.
I’ve always been “too much”. Too big. Too loud. Having been hearing the Social Disapproval version of STFU about things like my voice and my body and my sensuality since I was about ten, maybe a little younger.
So finding Femme was like “Wait, I don’t have to be masculine on some level to be all of myself at once? And not get punished for it? ZOMG!”
I wrote a poem, years ago now, where I talked about how becoming femme had been a process of unraveling the strictures of Mandatory Femininity that had been knit around me from birth so that I could be the feminine person that I am without having to squeeze myself into a garment that had always been too small, too constricting. Yes, it was a total metaphor-fest. Welcome to Poetry. 😉
It’s not that woman isn’t a significant part of my identity. It’s is, very much so. But what I am, this galaxy-sized creature that I am, bombastic that I am, can hold “woman” in its core and still be too big, too much, to be contained by it. Femme can stretch and mould to the whole of me. Femme actually fits.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] The day we went out to buy wedding dress fabric, my mom took one look at my tattered and patched army boots and told me I should replace them specifically because “[…] You’re gonna be a bride”. Brides, apparently, do not wear army boots[2].
 
[2] Tell that to my wife, who wore them on our wedding day. ❤ 🙂

To end violence against women, we must end violence against sexworkers.


 
Eleven days ago, I spent the morning tweeting the names of Murdered women. I did this for hours, and was nowhere near close to listing the thousands of women – cis women, trans women, black and indiginous women, women enrolled in a particular class at Polytechnique – who had been killed.
 
Today is International Day to End Violence Agaisnt Sexworkers. Usually, if people think about violence against sexworkers at all, they’re thinking of either (a) women whose bodies were pulled out of dumpsters – so actual people who were murdered, or (b) sensationalistic/titilating (sensationalistitilating?) stories about human trafficking[1].
 
These issues do matter. For sure. But they’re not the only types of violence that sexworkers experience. I appreciate the above infographic because it brings to light some of the other stuff – stuff that doesn’t necessarily result in death, and which typically doesn’t involve a starting point of coersion, but that limits people’s options and makes tenuous situations that much less stable.
Here, have a link to an Open Letter from Brazen Lee (who also provided the handy infographic, below).
 

 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Okay, here’s the thing about Human Trafficking: (1) It totally does actually happen. (2a) It happens far more frequently in the agricultural, construction, and home-labour (think: nannies, house-keepers) industries than it does in the sex industry, but (2b) you never hear about those situations because they don’t involve sex, or the combination of sex and violence, that is so damn titilating in our culture. Likewise, they don’t play into, or uphold, dominant cultural narratives about sex being something that men do to (or commit against?) women – who are typically coded as passive and victimizable. (3) There’s an entire industry – and I’m using that word deliberately – around “rescuing” women from sexwork. “Rescue organizations” tend to rely on inaccurate & inflated (And, sometimes, just plain false) statistics in order to secure their funding, and they tend not to work towards anything that will actually help people in the sex industry transition to different careers. Things that would actually help: Building affordable housing; working to make access to mental health care easier; pressuring businesses to end discriminatory hiring practices around things like race, immigration status, and gender identity; working to promote the decriminalizing sexwork; Pressuring provincial governments to increase the minimum wage to something where a person working *part time* (because most minimum wage jobs are part-time, and because people who – for mental and physical health reasons, or single-parenthood reasons, can’t work full-time sometimes turn to sexwork – where you can make a week’s minimum-wages in an hour – to make sure the bills are paid) could still make rent and afford food & utilities at the same time; Provide reliable, trans-inclusive shelter for both youth and adults fleeing abusive home-situations… The list goes on, but there are some suggestions.

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.
 
 
Thanks,
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

So I wrote a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with regards to bill #C36 and what she can do to protect her sexworking constituents and make sure these laws, too, gets struck down as soon as humanly possible.
 
A lot of people are doing this – hard copy letters, emails, even tweets – and it’s a bit of an informal campaign at this point.
There’s a templete available here if you’d like to write to your provincial/territorial Premier on the same subject.
You may also find some inspiration in Nikki Thomas’s impassioned open letter to Kathleen Wynne – I know I did. Likewise, POWER’s press release on the subject of C36 may offer further insights.
 
You can probably find a contact form or appropriate email address by googling “Office of the Premier” + your province or territory. That’s how I found Kathleen Wynne’s contact information.
 

Sexworkers are not “disposable people”. They are not “non-people” either. They have agency and they have rights, the same as everyone else in this province and in this country. Their lives matter and that doesn’t stop just because someone with a lot of power finds their work distasteful. (Me)

 

Please refer this bill immediately to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference, and do not pursue prosecutions until they determine its constitutionality. (Nikki Thomas)

 

Red Umbrella Image:
Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs