Taking Steps towards Trans Allyship

18 May

By Hollis

Many conversations have emerged in the wake of the DGR incidents at the Law and Disorder Conference. We have stood by as the DGR leaders have effectively shot themselves in the foot over an issue of trans inclusion, alienating potential allies and somehow forgetting that the earth is at stake here. We have seen virulent filth on both sides as the comment threads spiraled out of control in to violent personal attacks. Although much of this conversation, or diatribe, if you will, has taken place online, its real life implications cannot be understated. Lines have been drawn, and people have been forced to take a side. Speaking as the cis-gendered partner of a trans woman, I previously made assumptions that most of my friends saw my girlfriend’s identity as legitimate and our personal struggles against transphobia as real. I have been surprised to learn how many so-called friends have downplayed or delegitimized my feelings about this struggle, and questioned my girlfriend’s right to her identity. I have also been pleased to see real allies come out of the woodwork, with friends who had no personal investment in the issue supporting me and contributing to the dialogue (and one who had incredible investment in the issue choosing to renounce transphobia and break away from DGR). This issue has also brought to light unforseen power dynamics in my relationship, prompting me to recognize and check my cis-privilege.

Now that the clouds are beginning to break and tension is starting to dissipate, it is time to start moving forward. The question that we must ask ourselves now is: how do we make trans people feel welcome in radical environmental spaces? A safe space policy does not an inclusive movement make. This issue is unique in that trans people are quite a minority. I have been lucky that my experience in the radical environmental movement involves gender analysis, but many organizers just haven’t had to think about this issue until now. (I think it is also important to note that, despite our gender analysis, my community, like many radical communities, is full of people on the transmasculine spectrum while having only a few transfeminine voices.) This article is dedicated specifically to trans allyship, but I hope that it is the start of a bigger conversation. Although we pay lip-service to radical inclusion, our spaces tend to be overwhelmingly white, class privileged, and despite a shift in leadership towards gender equity, unchecked male privilege and sexual harassment are far from a thing of the past. Workshops on oppression and allyship are almost always offered at conferences, but they are usually optional and often overwhelmingly attended by those who suffer from that oppression.

I encourage members and/or educated allies of all oppressed or underrepresented groups to provide concrete steps towards allyship, and for conference organizers to make sure that all voices are heard in a mandatory anti-oppression workshop. We must remember that the earth is at stake here. When we alienate potential allies, not only are we violating the right of every individual (human or not) to be treated with dignity and respect, we lose out on the talent, innovation, and people-power that we need to ensure that our movements survive and move forward.

What kind of oppression are we talking about here?

Here’s a short list of appalling statistics: Last year, 78 trans women were murdered because of their gender expression, and those are just the ones that were reported to police, forget the ones that were actually murdered by police (Transgender Day of Remembrance Website). Forty-one percent of trans people have attempted suicide, and 88% have been harassed at school, causing 1 in 6 to drop out. One in 5 have experienced homelessness, and 22% report being sexually assaulted by staff in a homeless shelter. (Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Survey) At least 19% percent of trans women live with HIV, and many have no other option but to do sex work because of widespread job discrimination. (avert.org) Many trans people deal with sexual harassment every single day of their lives, with media sensationalizing and sexualization especially affecting trans women. Trans women experience a unique intersection of sexism and transphobia called transmisogony, in which the authenticity of their femininity is constantly called in to question in a world that assumes that malenss and masculinity is normal and natural and femininity is considered frivolous and performative. Many trans men also experience specific types of oppression, including the cissexism and hypermasculinity within gay culture, and the unique issues that come with being a man who can physically reproduce. It is important to note that trans people experience complex intersections of oppression and privilege, and no two trans people have the same experience. A trans person who “passes” as cisgendered may have power over a trans person who does not have the phenotypical characteristics of that match their gender. A genderqueer person who was socialized male does not automatically give up their privilege by changing their pronouns. These intersections of power should be acknowledged and examined in a compassionate and respectful way. They should NEVER be used as an excuse to disrespect or delegitimize anyone’s personal experience of gender.

Concrete Steps towards trans allyship

(1) Educate yourself!

Let me get one thing straight. It is NOT your trans friends’ job to educate you about why they are trans, or to tell you about the various oppressions that they face because they are trans. They have to deal with gender every day. It gets old to have to talk about or explain it incessantly, especially if you just figuring this stuff out and want to provide some “insight” that they have probably heard hundreds of times. The one book that I would recommend to everyone is “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano. This book is not perfect, and has been criticized by trans people over the use of some terminology, as well as Serano’s defense of the term “bisexual.” However, it provides an amazing analysis of the relationship between patriarchal oppression and transphobia, and also provides biological, as well as socialization arguments for transsexuality.

I’m going to challenge you to take the next twenty minutes to read this trans allyship short list:

Not Your Mom’s Trans 101: http://tranarchism.com/2010/11/26/not-your-moms-trans-101/

Allyship: http://transwhat.org/allyship

cis-privlege: http://queersunited.blogspot.com/2008/08/cisgender-privilege-checklist.html

trans oppression: http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/ntds

(2) Talk to your trans friends!

While it is not trans people’s responsibility to educate you, we should be asking trans people, under the right circumstances and after they have consented to the conversation, what we can do to make them feel more welcome in radical spaces. If they choose to speak about their oppression, it is important that we listen with an open mind and validate their experience.

(3) ALWAYS ask for gender pronouns

I’m happy to see most of the radical spaces that I participate in doing a round of names and preferred gender pronouns as part of a check-in. However, we really need to be asking EVERYONE what their PGP is when we meet them, whether or not we are in a radical space. We also need to be educating people about what preferred gender pronouns are. I’ve definitely seen the abbreviation “PGP” used as a way to alienate those who don’t share our culture or vocabulary, causing new people to get caught off guard and feel self-conscious when they don’t understand what is being asked of them.

(4) Avoid oppressive language!

a. Obviously, deliberately or unintentionally misgendering is oppressive. If you find yourself consistently unintentionally misgendering someone, practice talking or thinking about them with their pronuon until it becomes second nature.

b. Other discourses about language get more complicated, since gender is so ingrained in our minds that we are having to create new language to talk about this stuff. To start off, we need to add the term “cisgendered” to our collective vocabularies. This latin root, meaning “to the near side of,” means that a person identifies with the gender that they were socialized with. It is the opposite of transgender in the same way that “heterosexual” is the opposite of “homosexual.” (Let’s save the argument about “opposite genders and sexualities” for another day and accept this analogy as a teaching tool ok?)

c. When in doubt, always say the word “transgender” over “transsexual,” and identify “out” trans people as “trans women” and “trans men” rather than “male to female (MTF)” or “female to male (FTM).”

d. The word “tranny” has been reclaimed by some trans people, but many trans women criticize trans men reclaiming a term that has traditionally been used to oppress trans women. If you are cisgendered, avoid it. Instead of saying that someone was “born a woman,” say that they were “socialized as female.”

e. Avoid words like “female or male bodied.” After all, equating gender with physical parts is what we are trying avoid here. If you are talking about physical parts, name them as they are: uteruses, vaginas, penises, prostates etc…Doing otherwise is abelist as well as transphobic, as it alienates cis-women without uteruses, cis-men without testes etc…Practice this language in all of your interactions. I am a birth educator, and with a lot of practice I have been able to replace cissexist language with more neutral terms like “birthing person,” “parent,” “breastfeeding person” etc…After attending a cissexist presentation on reproductive health, my girlfriend returned crying and shaking, saying “it felt like they were insulting my body over and over again!” Changing cis-sexist language may seem like a lot of work, but it makes such a difference for trans people. Just do it!

(5) Stand up to Trans Oppression!

Fighting against oppression daily gets tiring, and some trans people choose to suffer silently rather than go through the emotionally taxing process of constantly calling people out for oppressive behavior. If you see oppressive behavior happening, (most commonly a constant or deliberate misgendering,) ask the trans person if they would like for you to stand up for them, and make sure that you agree on the specific actions that are to take place. While misgendering is the most common problem that you are likely to encounter, remember that trans people experience many different types of oppression, including physical violence. Being an ally may include getting in to a fist fight to defend a friend, or you may be asked to take action to seek justice against a trans bashing. Be prepared for that.

(6) Check your cis-privilege

I am constantly forgetting that my girlfriend can’t use the bathroom in any place that doesn’t have single stalls, that she can’t feel safe in public spaces like the bus, and that she can’t feel comfortable around any of my friends that are ignorant of trans issues. Read the list of cis-privileges and take it to heart. Keep it in mind when choosing an event space, making plans, or planning an action, and adjust your behavior accordingly. Even if there are no visible trans people in your group, trans-friendly structures must be in place for trans people to feel comfortable joining.

(7) Don’t be afraid of being called out!

Given the power imbalances and abusive nature of the dominant culture, most of us are socialized with truly awful communication skills. While many of us are doing our best to un-learn those behaviors, those old habits of silencing ourselves until we explode with anger, and denying and deflecting when we are confronted with conflict still rear their ugly heads so often in our interactions. It seems like the zinelibrary.info site is down, and I no longer have access to zines about the culture of calling out. Here is a mainstream resource about how to call someone out, which totally lacks political analysis. Please replace it with something better if you know of something:

http://lifehacker.com/5909055/how-to-productively-call-people-out-on-their-bs-without-being-an-asshole

This resource utilizes a form of non-violent communication. I want to say that the process of non-violent communication, in many circumstances, has been used against us as another tool of deflection and denial when confronting oppressive behavior. However, I still believe that it can be useful in many circumstances, especially when the end goal is to get someone to recognize and change their oppressive behavior. We need to create a culture where it’s OK to get called out. If a person is truly unaware that they are being oppressive, it is their right to be confronted in a compassionate and respectful manner, and be presented with the opportunity to change their behavior in concrete ways. I also want to acknowledge that trans people deal with so much shit every day, that an ignorant comment, especially in a space that they have been made to believe is safe, can provoke sadness, anger, and even rage. If a trans person calls out a cis person in anger, the cis person should be able to take care of his or her self and leave the situation, but the power dynamics of cis-privlege and trans oppression should be acknowledged and confronted. With explicit permission, this can be a good opportunity for a cis-person to step in and educate/mediate when a trans person feels triggered or overwhelmed.

I welcome feedback about this list (especially from trans people) and encourage others to use it as a teaching tool. I hope that we can turn the shit that has gone down over the past couple of weeks in to compost, and that we can all grow from the experience. Trans people have been silenced for long enough. It’s time to demand equity and respect

39 Responses to “Taking Steps towards Trans Allyship”

  1. Sophia May 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    From the ‘Not Your Mom’s Trans 101’:

    “Cisgender” is the term for people who have no issue with the gender that they were assigned at birth. For whatever reason, they are able to live somewhat comfortably within the gender in which they have been cast. No one really knows why so many people are capable of fitting into such arbitrary categories.

    Transgender people cannot accept our assigned genders. We know ourselves to be something different than what we were told to be. We do not see the random gender scripts we were given by society as relevant to us. We know that there is a different way, a way of autonomy, self-creation, and self-definition, and that this is the way we must follow, because we can never be happy with the parameters that have been mandated for our behavior and our bodies.”

    Whoa there! I know this wasn’t in your article, but on behalf of feminists everywhere this is not the case for all cis-people. Cis-women have lives full of constant silencing, oppression, violence, sexual violence, harassment, and ‘being told what to be’. I am NOT happy with the mandated behavior I’ve received as a woman in this culture. In fact, it is probably impossible for anyone to fully adhere to the contradictory messages of gender. Women of all types and men of all types and anyone who identifies as neither need to collectively sort out the b.s. of this culture’s gender roles.

    Maybe de-link this article? It doesn’t have your same compassionate and well-thought out intersectional analysis as your original piece.

    • jed cascadia May 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      hi sophia! I’m Jed, and I’m writing this to you as a trans person. I think your comment is very reasonable and I can see why you’d feel that way about the “not your mom’s trans 101” article. however, I think it’s important for people in dominant groups to be able to genuinely and deeply listen to people in marginalized groups. “taking steps toward trans allyship” is an article written by a cis person about their experiences. the article includes some links to material written by transgender people, like the article you’re taking issue with. listening to voices of marginalized people will tend to make people with privilege uncomfortable. I know that some of the things people of color have told me about myself, and other white people, have been hard to hear. but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen, it means we need to listen harder, and work harder to check our privileges. I’d hope that none of the pieces by trans authors that are linked to in this article get taken down. we need to hear these voices, even if they make us angry, upset, or uncomfortable. we need to have these conversations. there’s no guarantee that they will be easy ones, but that’s because they’re really valuable.

      in friendship, jed

      • Sophia May 19, 2013 at 11:24 am #

        It’s as a woman that I object to the language in the article. Unless you are denying, cis-women experience oppression, then trans*people and women are allies in a struggle against patriarchy right? Trans*people and women both suffer at the hands of patriarchy in sometimes overlapping and sometimes different ways. To say that women are privileged within patriarchy is linguistically questionable at best and at worst is deeply offensive erasure.

        I hope trans*people and cis-women can more forward with respect for each other’s divergent and yet related experiences.

    • Me May 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      “Cisgender” is the term for people who have no issue with the gender that they were assigned at birth. For whatever reason, they are able to live somewhat comfortably within the gender in which they have been cast. No one really knows why so many people are capable of fitting into such arbitrary categories.

      This is really frustrating to me. I have an understanding of cis-privilege and try to check myself whenever I can, so it’s not that I don’t agree with that. Personally I don’t identify as cis, trans, or gender queer, gender variant or gender neutral. None of those labels speak to me. Typically, however, I mostly hang out in queer spaces and live with queer people.
      I, however, mostly present as a long haired butch female. Just because I identify with my cunt, tits, and reproductive system and do not identify as trans or gender queer does not mean that I have no issue with the gender I was assigned at birth. I do not live comfortably within the gender in which I have been cast, and truly I don’t think many cis women do! Just because people may have a gender expression that is femme, or use she pronouns does not mean that they are not constantly in a major identity crisis because of these facts. I just think gender is way more complicated than that.
      Personally, I have been in an intense identity crisis for the last couple of years because I can’t fit myself into the definition of cis, trans, or gender queer and I feel an enormous pressure to do so. Where does that leave me?
      -with love and solidarity

      • jed cascadia May 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

        hello, friend! I read your comment with a lot of understanding and empathy. I think gender is an incredibly tricky and complex phenomenon to pin down or find language for. sometimes I have my own concerns about whether queer people (be they female assigned or male assigned) who don’t identify as “trans” are automatically “cisgender.” I think “cisgender” is hard for a lot of people to identify with for a lot of reasons, and I get that. I also think it’s important to have the language that describes cis privilege. some trans people use the terms “transgender people” and “non-transgender people,” which I kind of like. then we don’t have to decide what cisgender means, and people who feel that they are not transgender can simply be called not transgender. (I also like this language because it normalizes trans identities, instead of making them marginal or deviant.)

        in terms of “where does my confusion about identity leave you,” I’d say, look for yourself in books! that’s how I’ve learned a lot about gender, my feelings, myself, and the world. I really love the website genderfork.com, which is kind of for people who aren’t trans OR cis. I also love the books Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, and Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme edited by Ivan Coyote and Zena Sharman. there’s a lot of great queer/genderqueer anthologies. even if you don’t find one specific identity that matches how you feel, I hope that you can find some stories that resonate.

        and in reply to Sophia: yes, cis women experience oppression, yes, patriarchy affects cis women and trans people negatively, and yes, we can and must be allies! I hope that that allyship is founded first and foremost on open and deep listening between all of us.❤

        hugs and struggles, jed

  2. heron May 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    But really, can we we cut the cis-gender, cis and cis-scum stuff? Just because you’re oppressed don’t give you the right to be insulting to your allies.

    • jed cascadia May 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

      the word “cisgender” isn’t an insult. neither is the word “heterosexual,” or “white.” they are words that describe dominant groups, the groups that hold structural power in society. I would never use the phrase “cis scum,” which is certainly insulting. but the word “cisgender” is value-neutral, and asking people not to use “cis” or “cisgender” is tantamount to asking people to stop talking about transphobia and oppression. so no, I’m definitely not willing to stop using those words.

      • heron May 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

        Maybe so for, but pretty much in my experience, the ‘cis’ term has been pretty much used as derogatory “despised other” term for non trans folks, much like “goyim,” “gadjo,” or the “N-word.” My point was not to defend Lierre Keith or Derrick Jensen, but maybe as a suggestion for future guidance for respectful communication. Some queer folks-such as myself-take umbrage to the use of such terminology.

    • River Song May 19, 2013 at 12:58 am #

      Would you prefer to be called “non-transgender”? “gender-normative”? Maybe just “normals”?

      cis is short and to the point. Plus, it was coined by a trans chemistry geek, so it makes you sound smart.

      • North Feralina May 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

        While I don’t know as I’d compare it to the n-bomb, the way it’s used usually is not dissimilar from goyim certainly and I think the fact that this person from outside our immediate social grouping assumed it was an insult based on the context they’d seen it used is telling. I’ve certainly never heard anyone refer to “That cute cisboy or ciswoman over there” or talk about their friend who’s “a really strong and outspoken ciswoman of color” I’ve really only seen it tacked on to the end of “Straight-white-middle class- CISGENDERED-men!” ususally, but not always, by somebody attempting rhetorical supremacy through character assassination, like trashing the black bloc through mischaracterization, I don’t think this has really anything to do with the word cis itself, which I agree with why it exists and think that word works just fine (although perhaps just keeping it to people who’s assigned gender matches their preferred pronoun instead of this whole “feels comfortable” thing from above) but I think this speaks to a larger tendency within our milieu.

    • hollis May 19, 2013 at 3:50 am #

      No one is calling you cis-scum here. Some trans people at the conference spoke out of anger because their experience of oppression was not being respected or heard. While trans people have plenty to be angry about, this is a place for open dialogue, not silencing and name calling.

  3. mieprowan May 19, 2013 at 2:52 am #

    “A safe space policy does not an inclusive movement make.” Well, no, it doesn’t. Because DGR does not want its movement to include men who feel compelled to harass women. And saying you consider yourself to be a woman doesn’t make you a woman. Do you even really think every man who says that is being honest? Are you really that naive?

    Everybody deserves basic civil rights. But everybody doesn’t deserve to be taken at face value when they demand to be considered something they are patently not.

    • Chad May 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Could you please take your bigotry somewhere else? Trans* women are women, and trans* men are men. If you can’t accept that,then you are not welcome. You can just stick to DGR hosted events and be miserable with other cissexist jerks.

    • Marti386 May 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      “Because DGR does not want its movement to include men who feel compelled to harass women”.

      Hmmmm. Funny how you radfems always refer to a trans woman using her right to free speech and debate of your nutty, antiquated brand of feminism as “men who harass women”. And I NOTICE you guys don’t seem to mind it when a man like Derrick Jensen when he attacks (trans) women. Shouldn’t he stow his male privilege and shut the fuck up about something that doesn’t concern him? You guys are BIG on telling trans women that. Guess it doesn’t apply to your cis male lap dogs, huh?

      I also find it hilarious how Derrick, a man who has come pretty close to advocating violence in the past, runs to the feds like a chickenshit coward when he gets a “threatening” email. What a tough guy!

      If you REALLY think that everybody “deserves basic civil rights”, then you, DGR and the radfems can START by stop trying to actively take MINE away. THAT would be a good beginning.

      Oh, and trans women do not “demand to be considered something they are patently not”. We ARE women. PERIOD. There’s nothing “patent” about it. I’m treated like any other woman every day, everywhere I go. I probably pass better than YOU do. DON’T lecture me about what is or isn’t a woman.

      You guys always claim there’s no such thing a cis privilege. Know what proves there is? Cis morons like YOU who think they have the right to decide if a trans person’s identity is not “legitimate” even when a trans person who has LIVED that life is telling you OTHERWISE.

  4. autonomy cascadia May 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Reblogged this on Occupied Cascadia.

  5. coleo May 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    First of all, thanks a bunch for writing this article. It’s a great primer and I’m really happy to see the conversation moving in a positive direction – discussing how we can be better allies.

    I want to raise a topic for conversation after reading the links. Is the analysis of gender as expressed in those links inextricable from supporting trans folks?

    I guess I’m having trouble because, I think like some of the other people posting in this thread, my analysis and experience of gender is different from what is being discussed in these articles. I find spiritual and cultural significance in the categories of male and female, even while I welcome the variation within and beyond those categories. And, like others who posted above, just because I find meaning in being a woman doesn’t mean the prescriptive mandates about my gender from the mainstream culture are something I accept or agree with.

    I’m not saying I think the analysis present in “Not Your Mom’s Trans”, for example, isn’t saying important things, but I’m coming from a different analysis…and I guess I want that to be okay.

    Especially in the wake of these conversations about RadFem, which seems to say there is only one way to be a feminist and support women, I feel sensitive to someone claiming that supporting an entire group of people also demands that we all have the same analysis. I don’t see women as a class like RadFem does, and I also don’t see all gender as completely arbitrary the way some of these links do.

    I believe that there isn’t only one understanding of gender that is non-oppressive, I think we can come from a lot of different analyses and still support everyone within our movements.

    The suggestions in the articles were really helpful, and I hope everyone follows all of the links provided. I’m also really glad to be given the opportunity to read the analysis, even if I don’t agree with all of it, since I know it speaks to a lot of folks experience with gender.

    I’ll stop there before I get too ramble-y. Basically, I’d love to hear some feedback on all this.

    • asarum May 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks. I oftentimes see Radical Queer politics as having the same demands for unity of thought and the same basic liberal politics as Radfem. I often see a unspoken idea that “you have to be Queer (with a capital Q).” If you happen to not be (even if you, in fact, queer) you are seen as somehow unworthy of respect. Personally, I see no problem with being both queer and being a man or a woman. I see no problem with not fitting into either of those catagories. But yes I don’t think personally that its something arbitrary you can change whenever you feel like (no culture has ever felt this way). Somehow that makes me not queer and somehow cisscum.

    • lichen May 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      I agree. I think that there is something essential missing from the argument when we don’t talk about the fact that gender is often biologically determined. Julia Serano breaks it down so well in whipping girl, but I haven’t found a zine or short article written by a trans person that addresses this issue like she does. I’m keeping the link up for now because, like Jed said, I think it is important that there are trans voices up here, but I will be looking for a more holistic article or zine to replace that resource.

  6. APOC Love May 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Greetings Hollis,

    my collective is doing a series on allyship, would you be interested in submitting this?

    http://peoplenotprofit.net/theory/allyship/

    Please let us know! The two pieces I’ve written for the series deal largely with race, and secondly with class, so we need to expand the discussion.

    Thanks,

    Alex

    • ! May 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      DGR says that gender is not a bianary, but a hierarchy. It’s both, duh. It’s like a spectrogram. To say it is only a hierarchy is ignorant, and shows that you are living in a bubble. There are PLENTY of opressive, sexist women assigned people and trans women. There are plenty of women assigned people and trans women who make rape jokes, back up their dude friends when they perpertrate, insist that women are only meant to serve men (There is a whole talk radio show with a women host who tells women that their sole purpose is to take care of men and have children. Her name is Laura Schlessinger. Check out her outrageously sexist book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”).
      It’s just not whats up that it’s men against women, trans people aganist cis people. If we want to get anywhere, we need to stop thinking so simplistic and get real with the nuances and the truth. Patriarchy is a movement to end gender oppression. It is not a movement aganist men. It is not a movement against cis people. We ALL need to work on our shit. We all oppress each other. It’s NOT a pissing match of who is the most oppressed.

      • lichen May 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

        Say it, nongenderspecificindividual! This is a great analysis, and I hope that I encapsulated it in my edit to this piece, second paragraph under “what kind of oppression are we talking about here?” on the difference between perceived privilege and observed privilege.

    • lichen May 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      YES! I have read your pieces and I am so happy to add to the conversation.

  7. stephen May 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Good-fucking god, are we really mired in all this minutiae while the planet burns.We are all as fucked as any minority in this white male patriarchy hell if we don’t stick together and take down industrial capitalism.To marginalize two brilliant brave people (derrick and lierre) over some dissagreement over transexuals is absurd condidering that the destruction of the planet is close,very close at hand!!!! Masturbating while rome burns…indeed!!!!!!!!

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

      stephen, although I appreciate your passion, the journal has a one ! only policy. further exclamations will be edited out by the moderator.

    • Glory Hallelujah May 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      I find it telling that you would characterize the two people (Jensen and Keith) and their lockstep organization who are “doing the marginalizing” as the ones “being marginalized.”

    • lichen May 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

      It might be minutae to you, but to trans people and their partners, it’s our whole world. Not that gender identity defines every facet of our being, but it affects every facet of our being. We can’t participate in movements in which we don’t feel safe. Period. And here in the pacific northwest, a lot of radical environmental activists are gender variant. And I think this goes beyond trans issues. Jensen and Keith have proven themselves to be top down organizers that don’t trust anarchists, don’t accept any dissent, and lie about facts to turn what happened in to a fundraising campaign. I wouldn’t want to organize with people like that, even if this weren’t an issue that affected me personally.

  8. stephen May 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    ***TRIGGER ALERT:the following post mentions sexual assault in a provocative and confrontational manner***
    Let me try this again. It does not matter to the plants and animals what you are anyone else considers a well organized human society, or to put it another way, petty anthropocentric narcissism will not lead to a liveable planet.What have you done this week to quickly end industrial capitalism. Oh, I know, edit some heterosexual,porno watching white male moron’s>>me<< response to some absurdly insane blah,blah,blah between highly narcissistic so-called enviromentalists. I'm a loser,your a loser,lierre kieth is a loser, transexuals are losers,and most importantly the beautiful plants and animals are losers if we don't all act quickly to end industrial capitalism!!!!!! I would proudly stand next to the most rascist sexist white male white trash gun hugger if we could stop this industrial destruction somehow!!!! P.S. I am sure most of your team(pampered upper-middleclass white kids) were raped and beaten as a child by their own father like derrik was!!!!!

    • Chad May 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      You’re disgusting! If people of certain oppressed sectors can’t feel comfortable in a movement because you are too busy embracing their oppressors who have similar goals with environmentalism, then fuck the planet. We all deserve to die if we ignore the struggles of anyone.

      • stephen May 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        Yes you are correct all humans definitely deserve to die but the mexican wolves, rufuos hummingbirds, wolverines,and insects do not. We humans love to use and abuse every living being on this beautiful planet. A mass human suicide would please the four-legged and feathered ones immensely.And I would be the first to drink the kool-aid if you would be the second!!!!!

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 21, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      Actually Stephen, I spent the night at an eviction defense, because POC need allies too. This world isn’t made up of racist white people who you need to defeat industrial civilization. Those people are lying fascists who will betray you anyway. The world is full of the oppressed yearning to be free, who are liberating themselves all over the world. That’s what this is about. And my day job is campaigning to protect and restore Mt. Hood National Forest. That’s a privileged position, but I’m making an effort to stand in solidarity with oppressed peoples. I’m also queer, and it isn’t the time or place to somehow “call out” people who have or haven’t been victims of sexual assault. Yes, a lot of EF!ers have been abused and sexually assaulted, some since they were children. Your comment shows that you actually are not making a point, you are just blowing hot air so that people will pay attention to you. I’m sorry you feel such rage that you have to vent online, but please try to find a healthier and way to put your feelings forward.

      • stephen May 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

        You are missing the truly big picture I am so desperately trying to point out. There is no time left for the only two enviromental groups with any hope of diverting the disaster of industrial capitalism to be hacking on each other!!!! For DGR to insist that transgender people are anything less than sincere about their identity is hurtful. For earth first to disavow or in anyway hurt the fledgling DGR over a callous philosophy is not in the best interest of the plants and animals. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling safe wih derrick or lierre.On feeling safe I was in a maximum security prison in Texas on drug charges where I became political for 8th amendment protections. I was sent to the most violent prison for that activism where I was ruthlessly beaten by white supremicist.I was later threatened with gang rape and horribly beaten by black gangs for being a white male. DGR is no violent Texas prison!!!!! and A Culture of Make Believe and Vegetarian Myth or as important as Walden,Sand County Almanac And Desert Solitaire in our understanding of the way forward for all living beings. We are all so completely screwed up from living in the most abusive culture in the history of the universe that there is no pure society yet.Your perception of perfection or DGR’s perception of human perfection does not stop the tar sands or the rank oppression and biocide on the Olympic peninsula represented in clearcuts!!!!! So I expect the organization created by the venerable Edward (sexist) Abbey to be the grown up in the room and welcome the militant DGR to all its functions with open arms and if a few people feal uneasy or unsafe about that I can assure them they don’t have to be concerned with derrick or lierre gang raping them. We must stop the bulldozer or be run over by it!!!

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 21, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

      thanx for ur honest and healthier reply. im sorry u were sent to prison, and am glad u found activism. ppl aren’t scared of derrick or lierre, but when derrick compares transfolk to the taliban, it’s hate speech. transfolk suffer way worse than most ppl — in prison or outside — and need to be supported in our communities of resistance. instead, dgr just propagates the fiction that transfolk suffer from mental illness or are insidious. we need to respond to that. as the spanish anarchists once said, the war and revolution go together like sun and light – we can’t win the former w/o also winning the latter. we can’t become our enemies.

      • stephen May 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

        Ok, respond as adamantly as you need to but do not exclude a very potent ally. You could do a lot worse for an ally(obama,sierra club,etcetera) And we are real scarce on allies!!! Prison for transpeople was worse than any horror ever to percolate in the twisted recesses of stephen king’s mind. I still am on the brink of raging insanity that as we speak our living earth is being subjected to unspeakable mass horrors. DGR promotes a very historically effective militant approach to our overwhelmingly collective problem of a murdered earth and they do so at great personal risk!! We just don’t have the luxury at this moment in time to be purists. Set aside human differences and focus on the bulldozer bearing down on all of us;derrick,transfolks,rednecks,gays,insects,trees,frogs,newts, or we will never be able to know a future of happy healthy people on a beautiful diverse planet. And I must adamantly insist that the truly oppressed or the plants and animals!!!

    • Earth First! Journal Cascadia Office May 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      I appreciate that sentiment, Stephen. Derrick and Lierre have insisted that they don’t want trans people as allies, though.

      • stephen May 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

        We are all so screwed. I appreciate your efforts on hood national forest and the elliot.

  9. occupycjnielsen May 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    The global environment is all inclusive. Educate the leadership that to hold exclusive views and exclusive sentiment only provides an environment of exclusion of leadership from the collective process and a retraction of recognition by the collective.

  10. GK May 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I appreciate the conversations that folks are trying to have, and the care that some of you are trying to bring to this (e.g., Jed!) – thanks for leading by example!

    I wanted to share that, in defining the term cisgender in workshops and trainings, I’ve found it useful to say something like: “Cisgender means someone who identifies with the gender (or sex and gender) they were assigned at birth. For example, when I was born, the doctor assigned me a male sex and said “It’s a boy!”, and my parents then raised me as a boy. Now, as an adult, I identify as a man. Similarly, someone raised as a girl, who now identifies as a woman, would be cisgender. Transgender, on the other hand, refers to someone who does not identify with the way they were raised and assigned at birth – that doesn’t mean they identify with the “opposite” (and we’ve already started breaking down that notion that man and woman are opposites!), but just that they don’t identify with their assigned gender.”

    It’s a little different from the explanation in the article above, and might address some of the resistance around “having no issue” and “living comfortably”, which seems to minimize the violence that a gender binary/roles do, even to people who more-or-less identify within them. Hope it’s helpful.

    • Cake? May 27, 2013 at 11:57 am #

      “Transgender, on the other hand, refers to someone who does not identify with the way they were raised and assigned at birth – that doesn’t mean they identify with the “opposite” (and we’ve already started breaking down that notion that man and woman are opposites!), but just that they don’t identify with their assigned gender.”

      I think what’s really missing from this is the way that people can be raised & socialized as the gender they were assigned at birth, but then grow up to -not- identify with that gender, but also -not- consider themselves trans, nor would be read as “trans” by anyone else.

      I think what’s really missing from this analysis is how we can be read, and how that might not necessarily line-up with how we feel about ourselves. Maybe this sounds overly simplistic, but i don’t identify with any gender, except when i notice people are -treating- me in gendered ways, and then i find myself gendered & boxed into a category i had no interest to begin with.

      I feel like this is one of the short-comings of identity politics in & of itself. We’re talking about words & definitions which cannot adequately frame the ways in which we experience the world at every moment, nor do they speak to ourselves in relation to one another, how that is always shifting about. If anything, i feel like these things exist as broad generalizations in order to make one another more legible, but a lot of the time all these subjects-identities just feel like another form of containment.

      [/2 cents]

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