November 20, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2008

it’s just another day we find a way to comprehend,
and when we fall, we fall down hard and get back up again,
i understand that there is not much more to understand,
when there is nothing really there to begin with.

but the very first i saw your face i would believe in love,
now and forever more i will declare a god above,
and he is crying out for you with every pain and every sigh...

- Gregory Douglass, "Time"

Today is a day for remembering.

Transgender people continue to be victims of violence, hatred, humiliation and discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and public facilities. Transgender people continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of homelessness, poverty and unemployment.

On February 12th this year, Duanna Johnson was brutally beaten by a Memphis police officer after she refused to respond when the officer called her “he-she” and “faggot.” The beating was captured on video [warning: extreme violence].

She was murdered on November 10.

Take a moment to remember. Take a moment to hold those you love. Take care of each other.

More info about Day of Remembrance here and here.

November 16, 2008

On the topic of Outrage

Proposition 8 passed in California and people are outraged. I get it.

Jack at Angry Brown Butch says it better than I can in the post Can the LGBT Community Spare Some Outrage for Duanna Johnson?

Duanna Johnson was brutally beaten by police officers after refusing to be harassed. She went public over the issue.

Just over a week ago, she was murdered. She is one of many transgender people - mostly women of color - who have been killed as a result of transphobia, homophobia, and violence against poor people.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is this Thursday visit this site to find out where you can attend a ceremony locally. I pasted below the information for Boston:

Every year transgender people around the world gather in solidarity and community to memorialize those who have fallen victim to violence, and to reaffirm our solidarity and commitment to stand up for ourselves. This year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed in Boston on Thursday, November 20. This time we’re doing something a little different: we’re gathering for our traditional community speakout and candlelight vigil at St. Luke’s & St. Margaret’s (“SLAM”) in Allston. In recognition of 10 years passage since the Rita Hester tragedy, we’ll retrace the path taken then, by the vigil that inspired the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. So save the date: Thursday, Nov 20, 7pm, at SLAM in Allston. For more information, visit the TDOR pages at

Boston: Gunner Scott speaks on Transgender Rights at yesterday's Anti Prop 8 Rally

Look at about minute 1. I know there are quench readers and writers all over the US and all over the world. Anyone go to one of these anti-prop 8 rallies that took place today? Please, share us a few words, a clip, or a link with us.

November 11, 2008


I had a discussion today with a straight person who thought that "gay people are okay - the ones I've met just want to be like everybody else I know. They want to be a part of mainstream American culture." He explained that that's why "they" want marriage, tax rights, etc.

But as a queer person, I don't want to assimilate into mainstream American culture. Mainstream American Culture is full of things that I do not like about the world.

Reading all sorts of white LGBT bloggers writing about how black people or black churches "lost us the proposition 8" battle reminds me of what happens when we try to be just like the straight, white, racist, classist, sexist mainstream. I am ashamed of the many (mostly white) LGBT community bloggers blaming people of color for the passage of Proposition 8 in California. You can read a lot of other people's posts about this more eloquent than mine, but all I want to say is that I am ashamed, and I do not want to assimilate to a mainstream culture that blames people of color for everything negative. How the mainstream gay movement fail to connect with other groups whose families are targeted by prejudice, politics, and oppression like families headed by single-parent households (especially families headed by single mothers of color). I know that I personally contributed money to "no on 8," so I know that I am partly responsible for funding this movement, and I know that this is partly as a result of their being the most visible group working on this to me as a person on the other coast. (The visibility itself is likely problematic). by failing to cooperate with other groups on a multi-issue agenda (Obama got a huge number of California votes with his multi-issue progressive agenda and he opposed Proposition 8!) Partly as a result of this failure to cooperate, this became a very close race, withe enough money dedicated to it that all of the homeless queer young people in Califorina could have been sheltered, or perhaps even we could have created an ad hoc way to get queer people without healthcare some healthcare. That money could have been better spent if we had not allowed the race to be so tight.

I don't want to assimilate to a culture that fails to resist, or even at times condones, domestic violence. Or even a culture of a societal ideal where society is built up of families that consist of two adults, one of whom has significantly more societal privilege and power, who gets to make and break the rules, and who will be considered more of a "whole person" if he leaves.

I don't want to assimilate to a culture that limits the life chances of some people based on social, historical, and intensely pervasive systems of power.

I don't want to assimilate to a culture based on greed, a lust for power, failures of empathy, and social injustice (from local to global).

I love to join, share, love, take care of, be taken care of by, eat, play, sleep, laugh, cry, fuck, and participate in communities based on seeking justice, both within our communities and in the broader world.


I love spiders. I know I haven't posted in forever, and now I reappeared and posted 3 times in a couple of days, but hey, that's life. That's why we have so many quenchistas - I hope someone else can post 3 times in the next 3 days?

I just saw an awesome link to spider pictures posted on Alas! The spider pictures are on Dark Roasted Blend. Thanks, Alas! for pointing this out.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

November 07, 2008

passing as straight, standing out as queer, or something else entirely

In my job, I supervise a few people from time to time. They are about my age, and the nature of the job involves a fair amount of waiting around, and sometimes traveling from place to place together, usually on the T. Therefore, I have a social as well as a professional relationship with most of the people who I supervise.

Because of how young I am, word got around the group very quickly that I was married (see, marriage and civil unions really do have different social meanings - somehow the fact that I am married is some juicy social gossip - who knew?) The other thing that people tend to know about me is that I often bring in homemade tasty treats, and that more often than not, these treats are made by my spouse.

Recently, I have been involved in conversations with two different people that I supervise that became awkward (more so for them than for me). In each case, my supervisee asked me about my "wife," either about what she did as a job or about what part of the country she was from. In one case, I responded by saying "my husband does ___." The person did not even notice and kept asking about my wife. In the other case, I started by saying "actually, I am married to a man."

When each of these two people ultimately realized that I was involved with a man, they seemed suddenly shocked, and extremely apologetic. They were suddenly confused, thinking they had now learned that I was a straight woman. I told them not to apologize* and I told them that people often think that I am a lesbian and that I am very involved in the queer community. One of them, I explicitly told that I was queer, but then that led into a series of questions that I did not think were particularly appropriate in a work environment, particularly with someone I supervise. I certainly would not want to make someone I supervise uncomfortable, and I'm not sure that's superbly easy to avoid once conversation moves toward sexual practices or private gender identities and expressions.

In reality, it does not make a ton of sense that people's partners, or their identities come into play at the workplace at all, but then again people are not just "workers," they are people too and when we spend a lot of time with our coworkers, we share ourselves with each other and want to get to know each other. And yet, there are things that we do not share with our coworkers, things that are private or personal.

Because our society categorizes sexuality and gender as binaries, and considers information about who we sleep with to be non-private information (and society assumes that we have one monogamous partner, or serial monogamy of some kind), this puts queers in an awkward situation where suddenly it seems like our fault that we brought up something taboo, when actually, we were not the ones who brought it up. I am not the one who asked for a description of a coworker's sexual or gender identity, or asked someone why they would allow others to believe "they were queer if they weren't." I'm not the one who brought it up. And yet, I am up against a taboo if I answer the question or respond to the statement. And I'm bad at tiptoeing around issues.

I'm not someone who can hide my queerness - even the most clueless straight people seem to read me like a book. There is something about me that just doesn't fit into "straight," even just upon sight, seeing me walk, or hearing me talk. And yet when I'm not the kind of queer they expect me to be (a non-trans lesbian), confusion always ensues.

*It is a separate (but related) problem that people felt a need to apologize for thinking one is queer. I choose to believe (hope) that these folks were apologizing for making an assumption rather than apologizing for "insulting" me.

November 05, 2008


This is a historic day for America. Yes we can.