I’m feeling under the weather today, so this will be an abbreviated version of the post I had planned to write today.
Every year in November the LGBTQ community holds a space – memorials, events, tributes – for those who have been murdered because of our society’s transphobia. From the Transgender Day of Remembrance website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder – like most anti-transgender murder cases – has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender – that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant – each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
I had planned to tease out some thoughts I have about misogyny being at the root cause of violence against trans, genderqueer, and gender-nonconforming folks. That is, people who upset the gender binary in their gender expression and presentation are especially threatening because they challenge the ways a “man” or a “woman” is supposed to dress/act/look/have sex, etc. Without these clear demarcations, how does male hegemony hold on to its power? I think this is what lies at the root of bullying of children who are perceived as gay. I had started to articulate some of these thoughts in the comments section of Jasbir Puar’s excellent critique of the It Gets Better Campaign, and I wanted to explore a bit further here, but my body defeats my brain today. I hope to pick this thread up again another time.
For now, in honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, I wanted to share a video I love of Marsha P Johnston, a transgender activist and performer who died in 1992. Her death was ruled by the police as suicide, but many people think she was murdered.
I wrote a poem that included an excerpt from this performance, which Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman kindly included in their anthology Gender Outlaws : The Next Generation. I recently finished reading it, and I really appreciated the range of voices, positions (!), and politics (not to mention a variety of genres, including some great graphic arts/comix pieces) that Bornstein and Bergman include. I think it’s a useful snapshot of where transgender/genderqueer/gender noncomforming folks and their allies are at right now.
Some highlights for me included
- Azadeh Arsanjani’s terse, powerful poem “Jihad” which ends with these fabulous lines “that on the glorious day when I come home / jihad / my bags will be full of meat and fruits / queer / we hunger together, and we will feast together.”
- cory schmanke parrish’s charming and hilarious story, “the secret life of my wiener”
- Mercedes Allen’s “Trans-ing Gender: The Surgical Option,” that is the best thing I’ve read so far that questions the assumption that transfolks need surgery to be legitimately trans (or legitimately a man or a woman if that’s how they identify)
- Scott Turner Schofield’s succinct nonfiction essay “The Wrong Body,” in which he beautifully argues against the notion that he was born in the “wrong” body
- Micha Cardena’s fascinating reflection on a performance art piece she performed, living 365 hours immersed in Second Life as a dragon, as she was also starting her hormone replacement therapy in “real” life: “I am Transreal: a reflection on/of Becoming Dragon,”
- simon iris’s “make me a vessel for anomaly,” a lovely cross-genre piece that claims and makes space for a body/life that is both boy and girl and more.
I hope you pick up the book; it’s well worth the read.
Signing off now, in hopes of better body and mind sharpness next week.