Experience Versus Being

Trigger Warning:: Transmisogyny, violence, trans*phobia, homophobia, assault

Privilege is something that is granted and gained. Privilege is something that is given, and taken away, by other people and society. People do not just roll over and decide to be privileged one day. If it was that easy, there are a lot of people in the world who would love to hit that privilege switch. Privilege is something that is handed to people society deems worthy, mostly white, cis, straight men who aren’t poor. Just as privilege can be given, it can be taken away, almost in the blink of an eye. A trans* person who is perceived as cis has passing privilege that can be easily removed the moment they are known to be trans*. A queer person who is perceived as straight can lose their ‘straight passing’ privilege the moment their identity and status as a queer person is known. Take it account how many people do not know of their privileges until the moment it is taken away.

One of the better examples is when a person of privilege is a victim of a hate crime for being perceived as a queer person. A trans man who is perceived as a woman by his attacker and is assaulted as such in a misogynistic attack; a straight man that is perceived to be gay and thus is the victim of gay bashing or a verbal assault. People can experience the violence of being perceived as queer without actually being queer due to the perception of another. Denying this experience strips the victim of their assault, whether verbal, physical, sexual or a combination of such. Take the first example. This man has become a victim of misogyny due to his attacker perceiving him as being a woman. While the attack may be tinged with cissexism, trans*phobia, and maybe even homophobia, the attacker still carried out the attack as one meant to be rooted in misogyny. It is almost as if the other causes are accidental. Denying this denies the impact that such violence has not only on queer people, but on the majority as well.

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Our Lives: Rebellion

This first appeared in Permanent Wave Philly‘s zine entitled Tiny Acts of Rebellion. Currently the full zine is not available for download, but when it is, I will link it.

Every day I wake up is a small act of rebellion. Every day I walk out the door is a small act of rebellion. Everything I say is a small act of rebellion. My mere existence is a rebellion. For years, and even now, people have told me to shut up. People have told me to kill myself. People have told me that I should disappear. People have told me I don’t exist. Despite these things people has told me many times over, I am still around. I am still alive and louder than ever.

This is not something unique to me either. Every queer person alive is an act of rebellion. Our mere will to live is a rebellion against a society that tells us we are not worthy. It is a rebellion against the cissexist and homophobic world we live in. Queer people rebel with every breath they take. Merely being alive and refusing to let society snuff us out is an act of rebellion.  In the words of Kanye West, “jokes on you, we still alive”.

Those queer people who do not live their lives as out and proud people are still rebelling. Those trans* people who live in stealth are still alive. Queer people are anywhere from four times to eight times more likely to have tried to commit suicide. Almost half of trans* people have tried. Those of us who are still here, breathing in the same air as our oppressors, are acts of rebellion.  We go against the very grain of what society expects of us. By refusing to fit into the perfect square cages, we are rebelling and we are winning.

In a way, these acts, one totaled, are not so tiny. These acts of rebellion are huge. An ocean of it, releasing wave upon wave of change, no matter how small. Rebellion does not have to be loud. It does not have to be angry, nor does it have to be passive. Rebellion has to demand change. Rebellion has to demand its rightful place. By living, we are demanding change and asserting our rightful place. As queer people, we are showing ourselves to the world. We are bearing out hearts in our existence and our lives. Every step we take is in the right direction, there is no backwards in life, just forward. Onward.

Problematic Allies

No one is perfect. In fact, it seems that to be imperfect is part of what makes us human. Despite what mainstream media likes to tell us, our favorite celebrities aren’t perfect either. Many of them are actually extremely problematic, to the point of harm. Intent doesn’t solve everything, nor does them being a celebrity. It does not shield them from criticism of their actions or cultural critique either. With the recent awarding of Macklemore’s Same Love and his subsequent speech, there needs to be a discussion about problematic celebrities, their place in the queer rights movement, and people’s ability to enjoy them as they are.

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