Collection: My Body, My Identity, My Voice

There is nothing more intimate than ourselves. There is nothing that we tend to try and know better than ourselves. What makes us? We try to figure this out from all planes, from how we function, what makes us feel good, and what even describes how and who we are. This is a collection of pieces I’ve written over the months about my body, my identity, and who exactly I am.

I am loud, flashy, and flamboyant. In fact, one of the perfect descriptors for me is a peacock, specifically a male one. Gender: Peacock is where I started talking about myself, my identity, my body, and how the intersections of these things are not always as they appear to be. They are confusing, fluid, and downright bizarre to some (including myself). Sometimes, no matter how sure we know ourselves, there are always mysteries that puzzle us.

When you are trans*, and you speak of your history and your body, a peculiar thing happens. You can feel them, the eyes slowly undressing you, as if trying to verify your story.” Personal, Political, Intimate details how when we talk about our bodies, everything becomes intimate. Our knowledge of ourselves, of our identities, everything. The personal is not just political, but intimate as well.

This intimate knowledge of ourselves is what leads us to define us, our bodies. My Body Is My Own praises bodily autonomy and calls into question those who decide what we can call ourselves. Dictating how someone controls their own body is violent bondage, anything less would be a falsehood. Removal of bodily autonomy is removal of freedom, one of the very most basic ones. It is removal of the right to exist.

It is also the removal of self-knowledge and self-determination. No one knows my body better than I do. However, whenever I talk about my body, others proclaim differently. In 22 Years: My Body, I discuss how their proclamations can never be true. How these proclamations from people who have never seen my body and most likely never will, are false, erasing, and damaging. “These people have not felt it change and shift, nor have they felt the pain or sorrow it has held. They have not experienced nearly losing it either, not the fear of losing it. No matter how close they get, they cannot inhabit me.”

It is due to this existence, one that should not exist, I consider my waking up every day a rebellion. Our Lives: Rebellion was a piece written for Permanent Wave Philly. It is meant to show that sometimes, things that we do not consider to be rebellion or even to be activism, certainly are. We live in a world of binaries and boxes, of assumptions and pre-determined destinies. To exist outside of them is rebellion and an act that shakes the foundation just a little bit more.

Growing up trans* and queer has its own issues. Throw a mental health issue on top of that and you have a whole fun equation. In Borderline Personality Disorder and My Experiences, I describe what it is like to grow up in the cross-roads of these identities and how they are still affecting me to this day.

Due to this, I wrote The Internet Saved My Life which details how the internet replaced all local support systems for me. The internet became a valuable tool in exploring who I was, creating support, and realizing that I was not honestly alone. People tend to devalue online relationships too much without examining how truly amazing and impacting these can be on someone’s life.

All of this together makes me no less valid as a person, especially a queer and trans* person. While I Am Valid was written out of anger for those questioning my identity due to my femme nature, it is also a truth when people bring up my history of mental health problems. None of these things make my identity less valid, in fact, they make me even more. I am real and I have suffered, elated and survived for my reality.

Fire Fighting Fire

Fire is destructive. Fire is consuming. Fire is all encompassing. Fire utterly destroys and devastates. When you complain about people fighting fire with fire, you are complaining that people are fighting destructive forces. It implies that, like the fire we are fighting, it consumes and destroys. It implies that the fire we are using has the power to utterly destroy at a massive scale. It doesn’t. At most, you get a burnt fingertip, like when you snub out a candle with your fingers, or you touch a too hot tea cup. We are not fighting fire with fire, we are fighting a blazing inferno named society with lawn sprinklers, the kind kids play in.

We are using these sprinklers to clear out whatever small semblance of safety we can claw together for a brief time, because as fire does, it intrudes and forces its way back in, only to engulf that space once more. We are clawing through the ash in an attempt to make a small comfortable bed among the rubble. It’s us trying to make this burning building somewhat comfortable for a mere second. Even if we all grabbed buckets and pails, fighting this fire together, our numbers would not be enough. Our efforts are but small and useless in comparison to the raging inferno we are facing. You don’t try to put out high rise with buckets and pails. You need more force, you need more power.

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Southern Poverty Law Center: TERFs are a hate group

Recently a petition was posted online on Change.org asking for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to list Gender Identity Watch as a hate group. For those who are unfamiliar, the SPLC lists active hate groups across the United States as well as tracks hate movements. Gender Identity Watch is a website owned and run by Cathy Brennan, and other notorious TERFs. This site, along with several others, posts trans women along side rapists and murders. Writer note: I do not link to GIW and so on because they IP log in order to harass and stalk.

The SPLC responded to the petition, signed by over 7,000 people, saying they were unable to list Gender Identity Watch as a hate group because it fails to match their definition of a group. While a shaky response, it is the response that was suspected, considering that the owner of the group, Cathy Brennan, has been used as a source for the SPLC before. This response falls a part under critical evaluation for several reasons, one including the fact that Gender Identity Watch is a part of a much larger group of websites (such as Pretendbians) that actively attack trans* people, especially trans women. Also, the website is also just a poster child for an even bigger problem within the community, something that creates these websites and vicious trans*phobia, transmisogyny, and cissexism, Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs).

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Sky

I wish my back was a stool
I wish my body a castle
I wish my heart an umbrella
and my arms a moat

I wish there were things I could say
I wish there were things I could do
That would simply be able
To keep you a float

There are things in this world
Monsters and demons
That wish to harm you
Wrapped in a human coat

When the wolves come howling
And scratching at your door
And you sit, shivering and scared
Remember these words I’ve wrote

There are things that will hurt us
Things that will make us cry
Things that will try to destroy us
But we can’t survive if we don’t try

There is light in this world
I know its hard to see
But all you need to do
Is turn your eyes to the sky

Even if you can’t see them
The lights are there
Shining brightly
A reminder to fly

When you hit rock bottom
When the floor is bed rock
There is only one way to go
There is no time to ask why

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I Hate Allies

Or at least, most self-proclaimed allies…from a trans* perspective.

Ally is not a title you claim. Being an ally is an action. Being an ally is something you do, always. It is not a label, as much as it is an action of supporting a community. You do not simply get to make a statement and leave it at that. Being an ally is something that is given to you by the group that you are claiming allyship with. It is not a badge. It is not a get out free card. It does not prevent you from being problematic, incorrect, or an issue. An LGBT ally can still be homophobic, biphobic, or trans*phobic. An ally’s place is to listen and learn, while amplifying the voices of the group they are aligned with. An ally is to never speak for, above, or against, the group they are an ally for.

Being an ally is not something you should expect praise for. Being an ally is about working towards the greater good for all involved and helping a group of people be heard with their struggles. This is an action. Being an ally, once again, is not a badge to be worn and flashed about. Being an ally should be a thankless job, because being an ally means being a decent human being. While being an ally is not seen as the norm, this is how it should be treated. Allyship should be seen as the norm, since being an ally is about respecting humans and granting basic human rights, privileges, and dignities. Being an ally is a collaborative effort between the ally and the group they ally is allied with.

One should not expect to come into this expecting praise. An ally should be humble. An ally should be steadfast. This means that if an ally is called out for problematic behavior, they listen and learn. They do not become defensive because becoming defensive means you believe your words to be correct. Allyship is not meant to be a token to be given and taken either due to personal issues within the community. If there is an issue, the threat should not be that you are an ally and thus, “on our side”. There should be an apology and a learning experience. Humans, by nature, are imperfect beings and even the most supportive ally is prone to problematic behavior. Allies, by their very nature, are not part of the community they are supporting and thus, will never truly understand the experiences of the people they are supposed to be supporting.

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HB 87, Birth Certificates, and Genitals

Genitals. Genitals. Genitals. If there is one thing cis people obsess over, it is the genitals of others. Well, mostly when those genitals are attached to someone who is trans*. It almost seems like they want to know what we are packing at all times, or what we used to be packing. They like to ask invasive questions about our junk, how it functions, what it looks like, and how we use it. Our genitals are a constant fixation for cis people. In fact, our genitals are such a fixation that people pass laws involving them.

This is obsession has made itself known in Utah under the bill, HB 87, which seeks to dictate which restroom people can use in schools on the basis of their ‘phenotype’. The legislation uses the word phenotype to mean the gender of an individual on their birth certificate. Since birth certificate genders are based on assumptions based on the genitals of children, the bill’s writer, Michael Kennedy, uses phenotype to mean genitals. Those who are trans* need to have their genitals examined by a physician and have a letter saying they are phenotypically male or female. Convoluted language aside, this bill is downright ridiculous.

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