Posts tagged: activism

Creating Change, The LGBTQ movement, and the long game

By , January 29, 2016 11:49 am

Creating Change, the largest LGBTQ conference in the country, was in Chicago recently. There were a few dramatic moments, to say the least. In short, there was about a protest a day: At the Latinx Institute, at the Panel on Trans-Attracted Men, and – most notably and most reported – at the reception hosted by A Wider Bridge, “the pro-Israel organization that builds bridges between Israelis and LGBTQ North Americans and allies.” A few articles on the conference for your reading pleasure (I don’t agree with everything these articles say, but I’ve gotten something from each of them): LGBTQ Jews: Let’s Stop Talking About IsraelIn Praise of Discomfort: Learning From Dr. King and Confronting PinkwashingWe Can All Learn from Creating Change 2016. And The Task Force’s Rea Carey on the Protest That Rocked Her Conference.

There’s one more article making the rounds titled “Special Snowflake Syndrome is ruining the progressive LGBTQ movement.” I’m not going to link to it because I think it’s, on the whole, condescending; feel free to Google it if you’re interested. For all that the article does poorly, I DO think there’s a kernel of value in it: Far too many LGBTQ activists are eager to call out rather than call in. There is an utter inability to assume good intent or to try and find a common ground. And there is little room for a plurality of opinions. Either you agree with me or you’re the enemy. Continue reading 'Creating Change, The LGBTQ movement, and the long game'»

Philly Trans Health Conference initial thoughts and reflections

By , June 19, 2013 9:49 pm

I’m back from the Philly Trans Health Conference! PTHC is an appropriately named conference about trans health in Philadelphia. Shocking, I know. But it’s also an opportunity for networking, a social space, a place to party, and (last but not least) a place to learn a ton about trans issues, both related to healthcare and to broader activism and political issues. This was my first year, and I will definitely be returning in the future.

I have tons of notes, many of which I was livetweeting during the conference, but I wanted to share the three biggest takeaways:


First, I want to continue the efforts I’ve put into finding a strong queer and trans community in Chicago. PTHC was obviously an intentional community, and one which was only around for 72 hours, so it’s unreasonable to expect that kind of space to exist year-round. That said, I’m realizing more and more that I don’t just want to surround myself with any queer folks (and allies, to a lesser extent) but with awesome queer folks (and allies) who are engaged in activism and pushing for social and political change. I completely respect and understand why that life focus isn’t for everyone, but I get most excited when I’m with like-minded people.

This isn’t to say I don’t also have awesome friends who aren’t politically engaged, or that I plan to cut them from my life. But I want to continue building a community where political activism is an important component.


I’m going to write a longer post on this later, but I attended a few sessions which discussed sex-segregated spaces, ranging from women’s-only schools to MichFest to bathrooms. Here’s what I realized:

If a space is going to be sex-segregated, it must be clear on:

  1. WHO is welcome
  2. WHY that population is welcome, while others are excluded

Likewise, when evaluating the merits of a sex-segregated space, it’s important to look at:

  1. What is the INTENT of the sex-segregation?
  2. What is the POLICY in place?
  3. What is the REALITY of the implementation, and its impact on people’s lives?

More specifically, if those three points are in conflict, that needs to be teased out and examined more closely.


In the past few months, I’ve both had a number of friends come out to me as sex workers, and developed new friendships with people I learned were sex workers. I’ve always been pro-sex workers rights, in theory, but these friendships have given me an opportunity to think about the issue in a more personal fashion. Then, at PTHC, I talked with a number of active and former sex workers about the impact of anti-sex work legislation and policies on the trans community. At the end of the conference, I came away with the following realization: Being a rock solid, A-level, super-star-bonus-points ally to the trans community requires being in favor of legal decriminalized sex work.

[EDIT: I’m still trying to figure out the difference between legalization and decriminalization, but have been told the push is for the latter, and not the former.]

Just like my thoughts on sex-segregated spaces, this topic is going to turn into a longer post at some point in the future. (Probably not until mid-July, when I’m done traveling.) But, in short: The number of trans women who turn to sex work, either voluntarily, “voluntarily,” or by force, makes sex work an issue inherently important to the trans community. Due to wider systemic and cultural barriers in place for trans employment/housing/etc – not to mention a huge dose of racism – safe and legal sex work must be part of truly supporting the trans community, particularly trans women of color.


I need to think more on how to incorporate these views into my larger identity and work as a political activist, particularly those related to the rights of sex workers. But I am so glad I was able to get to PTHC, and hope that I’ll be able to keep up the energy and momentum it gave me.

Trans Ally Worksheet

By , April 12, 2012 2:26 pm

I’m trying to create a ‘how to be a trans ally’ worksheet to hand out at workshops, and would love thoughts or feedback. I’m trying to keep it to a single page, which is limiting, but also get a bunch of good stuff in there… Here’s what I have so far:

Be open to using the pronouns/labels/language a trans person wants you to use. If you make a mistake, quickly correct yourself. This is the most important step of being an ally: allowing another to define their own identity.

If you don’t know what pronouns to use, ask. Politely and respectfully. This is a simple way to show your respect for someone else’s self-identification.

…but don’t pry or make assumptions. Don’t ask if someone had surgery or if they are on hormones or plan to do either of these things. It is invasive and personal. If someone would like to share that information with you, it is at their digression. Also understand that not all trans people choose medical to undergo medical intervention, and that not physically transitioning, taking hormones, or having surgery does not invalidate their trans identity.

Remember that gender is not the same as sexual orientation. Being trans does not mean a person is gay, and being gay doesn’t mean a person is trans. Sexuality is about attraction, gender is about a personal sense of self-identity.

Don’t out anyone. If someone tells you that they or someone else are trans, please do not share it with others unless you are told that it is okay to do so. They are trusting you, so don’t break their trust. Continue reading 'Trans Ally Worksheet'»

I was a trouble-maker at the Dyke March

By , June 28, 2011 6:02 pm
Dyke March 2011

Dykes! Marching! (And allies, too!)

As promised, some more info on Dyke March.


The march itself was lots of fun. Tons of different groups with signs about gender, youth activism, immigration rights, inclusivity, the whole nine yards. From one of the signs in the picture to the right:

SEXISM goes so deep that at first it’s hard to see. You think it’s just REALITY.

Alix Kates Shulman, 1978

A very fun contrast to the out-of-control party that was the Pride Parade.

When we got to the rally at the end, it was nice out. Beautiful, warm, sunny, in the park. So I took my top off, and my bra (like ya do…) and began wandering, handing out the Early to Bed goodies: coupons, lube, and stickers saying ‘Some like it TWAT.’

It was amusing watching people’s reactions, both at Dyke March and at pride. Some were totally willing to look, some glanced and then maintained eye contact, and some flickered back and forth between my eyes and my boobs. But while waiting in line for food, chatting with one of the friends who carpooled with me to Dyke March, someone approached me and said I needed to cover up.

Continue reading 'I was a trouble-maker at the Dyke March'»

Why I do this

By , August 23, 2010 10:57 pm
Girl at Mirror - Normal Rockwell

Girl at Mirror - Normal Rockwell

I started this blog after coming out to a friend and coworker. I was talking about my then-pie-in-the-sky ideas of creating performance material out of my experiences as a trans woman. She responded with the entirely reasonable question, “Are you keeping a written record of your experiences?”

“Um…no. You think I should?”

And thus The Thang Blog was born. I’ve always been open about the self-indulgent nature of this blog: it’s a forum for discussion, sure, but it’s first and foremost a place for me to record my thoughts, my musings, and whatever catches my interest. (Read my Comments Policy if you don’t believe me.)

But over the last three years(!!) this blog – and performing, and telling my story – has become something more for me. As my hit counter has gone from one or two (or none) a day, to a few dozen, to a hundreds of readers and visitors, as my performances have gone from a pipe dream to what I hope will be a livelihood, my perspective has changed.

Telling my story has become my activism. Telling my story has become my politics.

Continue reading 'Why I do this'»

Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism

By , August 8, 2008 1:44 am

Julia Serano, of who I am a huge fan, posted a long piece about the Michigan Women’s Music Festival and, more broadly, trans issues as they relate to feminism, over at AlterNet:Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism. Her points are in part extensions of what she stated in Whipping Girl, that trans women’s issues should be viewed as part of larger feminist issues. In addition, she talked about how the MWYF’s policy (at times explicit, at times implicit) of allowing trans men but not trans women is hypocritical.

The essay itself is certainly interesting, although as someone who has read Serano’s other work much of it was familiar ground, but the comments had some things that I’m sure will keep me all hot and bothered the rest of the evening.

From one post, by hagwind:

Feminism and transgender ideology are uneasy bedfellows at best. Feminism says that women are as capable as men, and that the biological differences between men and women don’t justify making women second-class citizens.


Transgender ideology in essence says that men are men, and women are women, and that if you’re born in a male body you have to live like someone in a male body is supposed to live, and if you’re born in a female body you have to live like someone in a female body is supposed to live. Biology, in other words, is destiny, and the only way to change your destiny is to change your body.

Continue reading 'Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism'»

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