Having to cut myself in order to be free very conflicting.
Insanity according to my mother.
Being called she when you’re really mostly he
An insanely isolating pain.
Surviving in an a vessel that doesn’t fully express you
is a deep slow gnawing at the soul, weighting down the mind type pain.
Feeling foreign in the only body you have ever known,
walking around fully invisible like he they refuse to see in she,
living between pink or blue
constantly being punished and dismissed for giving zero fucks about pink or blue.
Can leave some thirsty for a dip in the shark tank
dreaming for the relief of the shark’s bite.
To tare down to rebuild is as old as time.
This taring is a mending.
A racing towards death for rebirth.
Chest flexes in the mirror like a 30 year old teenage boi.
Long deep scars stare back at me, invoking my wild shark tale.
For leaning into her mouth and surviving the
assault of the shark’s teeth some have called me brave.
More like desperate. I felt so fucking desperate.
Out of desperation I jumped into shark infested waters.
Out of desperation my body chose the surgeon’s knife,
increasing the chasm between my mother and I,
becoming a stranger to my brothers,
and more of a mystery to lovers.
I wont justify my body or defend my choices.
Their eyes whisper Insanity
at the sight of my transgressive temple
I don’t have the words to explain
why I rather a scar than a breast
my insides cringe at the thought of explaining my body
every time I have sex
I wont justify my body
How do I say I’m a man when the thought of you makes my pussy drip?
How do I explain to them that I am they, him and her but prefer he most of the time?
Their eyes whisper Insanity at the sight of my transgressive temple.
Next comes ignorant questions painting me into narrow boxes marked exotic, oddities, and experiments.
The tooth of a shark scraped my chest.
I left my breasts behind on a surgeon’s table in Florida
He ripped away a complicated part of me
Pain like never before.
I am healing.
Like never before.
They were ripped away so on paper I could be re gendered
When I left them behind did I ditch the binary mythology or cosign it?
Today the M in place of the F is a new Mis gendering.
Did I reject my body or this society?
Did I dismiss, embrace, or redefine myself?
What else did I leave on the surgeon’s table?
What do I have besides just another cliché ass shark tale ?
I think The Transgender Day of Remembrance is important but I don’t want to mourn today. I’m tired of crying, grieving, and worrying. My spirit is tired of worrying for the safety of my people as we walk down the street. I live in constant state of worry that the next post or call will be about someone even closer to me than the last.
I think TDOR is important but I don’t want to mourn today. I want to celebrate. These days trans people are taking up space like never before. Taking charge of organizations and movements, fighting the oppression that targets and kills us while creating spaces to just be our beautiful selves. We are witnessing a shift in our overall tolerance for the violence against our bodies and the transphobia and transmisogyny which perpetrates it. Young people and trans women of color especially have been ripping through their local communities and college campuses telling their stories of survival and self determination. They are blazing a trail of social change across this country, protesting against the many layers of oppression impacting all our lives.
More than ever today I want to celebrate my brothers, bois, and genderqueer friends. With the much needed focus on the violence and murder of TWOC its easy to feel invisible. Too often the face of transgender anything is only trans feminine. The politics of “passing”, sexism, and patriarchy tend to pigeon hole trans masculine and NGC people. Non gender conforming and trans masculine people exist and need love support and appreciation for the actions we take for our collective liberation as well.
Trans masculine people have been unapologetically living out loud celebrating the spectrum of identity and expression that exists among us in new empowering ways. I want yall to know I see you bois, transmen, MOC, and non binary peeps we appreciate the perspective and passion you bring to the community. I see you behind the scenes of protests, events, vigils and potlucks. Resisting the postures and trappings of sexism, misogyny, and the patriarchy while loving yourself and others in revolutionary ways. While others are talking about allyship and solidarity I am proud to say I know many brothers who are living it. Together we all bring a spectrum of resiliency, creativity, and love to society.
We have lost too many this year and seem to constantly have reasons to shed tears but as we dry those tears lets remember the laughter and victories too. As we continue to #sayhername, scream #blacklivesmatter, and demand justice for TWOC lets remember Bois, trans men, genderqueers, and non binary people need your love and advocacy too. Lets just celebrate all of us today cause we still here , we real powerful, and we real cute too.
Nestled in the glow of our brown tones side by side, Her curls ticked my nose, the softness of her cheeks warm my body. With her fists she gently beats on my chest and whispers “I just don’t want to be here anymore.”Had to pull her closer as my body silently rang back… “Me neither.”
I’ve held too many people as they weep for their lives. Thirsty for a reason to stay. Silently screaming. Floating on smiles saying “I’m fine” while everything within wants to die.
If you didn’t hear me before please hear me now. We need you. Please love please don’t go! Let’s make our love everything we need to survive.
Let’s love like we’re our own life rafts
built to survive the moments when the waves of sadness come crashing down. Just Let our love. Even when the weight of the world shallows our breaths and bends our backs into prayers and depression. We will find the strength to stand again through the doors unlocked by the moans of our sex magic. Let our love as our bodies collide, sing, and stir divinity together.
Let’s love like we’re our own foundation rooted in the beauty sparked
when our minds touch. My body aches to hear you speak in the moments when we merge. Let our love be our favorite melody in the key of healing. Soothing Restoring Creativity. Please don’t rob me of the freedom I feel when you sing to me. Just let our love carry us like the clever sting of a good read with the power of sharp words.
Love, please hear me now. I need you to survive.
I’ve held too many people as they weep for their lives. Thirsty for a reason to stay. Silently screaming. Floating on smiles saying “I’m fine” while everything within wants to die. Love please don’t go. Let’s be everything we need to survive.
Below is a piece I prepared for Solidarity Summer School Panel on Trans Politics last month. The question was: What are your thoughts on oppression particularly against trans people of color and how to build a grassroots movement? Trying to skate away from tokenization and wanting to reframe conversations about oppression into freedom dreams I decided to share my ideas about trans liberation. I had 15 minutes to respond and chose to start with what trans liberation is not because there are so many people outside of my community defining the transgender experience in the media these days who I just disagree with. Then I shared a few ideas for building grassroots movements for trans liberation.
Politics of Trans Liberation
Solidarity Summary School, Thursday July 23, 2015, Chicago, Il
I enjoyed how Tiq Milan spoke of the current shifts in Trans politics…
“The scope of emotions, questions and challenges we face within our families is emblematic of the cultural shift that’s happening right now. We’re all being challenged to understand gender as a spectrum of possibilities that is determined by the individual not something rigidly defined on a binary axis. The transgender experience is being addressed within the LGBT movement and explored within the broader population as a means of understanding. For so long, a lot of the engagement with the trans community has been antagonistic and shaming yet now we are pushing ourselves culturally to reexamine gender identity and how it’s created or defined.”– Tiq Milan
While keeping that in mind and recognizing how we as trans and gender fluid people are continuing to suffer the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and hate motivated violence in the LGBTQ community. We have to remember that Trans Lib is more than employment, housing, safety, & respectability. Lets begin with what it is not before looking at some ideas for building grassroots movements for trans liberation.
Liberation is not…
Gender Conformity Conformity is boring and oppressive. Gender is too complex to fit into any of your boxes and its naive to think all trans people are seeking the same outward display of gender. Telling me how well I “pass” is not a compliment. What surgeries I’ve had or might be thinking about are none of your business. Nor should physical changes be used as badges of approval and social capital in our communities. My trans liberation includes non gender conforming and gender fluid expressions of humanity.
Marriage Equality There are many privileges built into marriage in america that all people should have access to if they so choose. However the way the fight for marriage has been waged is a backdoor fight for access to the status quo not a challenge to how problematic it is to tie privileges to an institution thats not for everyone. Marriage equality fails to address many of major issues in everyday people’s lives such as suffer the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and hate motivated violence.
Visibility Its time out for the type of representation in the media and arts that erases people of color, ignores or demonizes trans masculine people, waters down our diversity, complexity and beauty to make us palpable to our oppressors and in the efforts to keep hope alive for those who just want to assimilate to the status quo. No more” if you could just see how much we are just like you” narratives. I refuse to assimilate for you to respect my humanity.
Money or participating in capitalism, assimilation, the american dream, aka fuck your dirty notes and fiat currency.
Dominance or more guns, wars, cops, and imperialism. Our blood is constantly being shed and we are constantly punished for standing up for our so called civil rights. Its doubtful we will ever have the ability to manufacture or amass enough weapons to destroy our oppressors without killing the planet along the way. Liberation is not my ability to use violence to feel “safe”. I don’t want power by might but I will use might and any means necessary to protect myself and love ones.
Equality Or Equity I don’t want to be equal to white people, the so called average american, cis, hetero normative blah blah nor any other privileged person in society. I want to build new ways of relating to and valuing life thats not dripping with the blood of oppression.
Social Justice, my liberation is not progressive politics, liberalism,reformist politics, choosing between the lesser of two evils, or participation in any process that allows the U.S. government to masquerade as a civil society. We have to build a new society stop pretending like the ship isn’t sinking and scurrying for crumbles from capitalists tables while licking the wounds from the oppression that holds the table together. There is no such thing as justice in a corrupt society driven by profit over people.
Its difficult to untangle poor, black, trans, womanist, queer or any other aspect of myself and communities I’m tied to from my visions of liberation. One of my favorite writers and thinkers said this about liberation:
“We need Liberation, not this quasi-religious notion of sovereignty promoted by the Moors and other Black cults. Liberation means we create Systems and Institutions for our own governance and security while removing the oppressive authority of White Domination from our lives. Liberation requires us to dismantle oppressive Institutions and Systems, not just get out from under them and level them standing. Liberation spreads to all life, to all ecosystems, not just a defined, exclusive population, that’s what sovereignty is, the freedom of a selected and predefined population. “ Diallo Kenyatta
Here are a few of my ideas for to Building Grassroots Movements for Liberation.
Prioritize Supporting and Learning with Young People
Organizations, conferences, organizers and activist to really need to prioritize cultivating young people, creating spaces for them to, learn challenge, build, and support the world we are fighting for. Children aren’t just the future they are now and they are amazing. Our movements are weak and the work is futile without their insight and leadership.
More Coalitions That Aren’t driven by identity politics, good intentions of 501c3s, white saviors, and poverty pimping. Revolution, social change and require disciple. We have to know history and study strategy. We have to stop organizing in class based cliques, affinity groups and comfort zones. The people we are closest to yet irritate us the most, the people we share interests or privileges but choose to avoid cause in other ways we are so different, those are the people aka the masses,who we have to learn, organize and build with. Especially White people who love to go to POC orgs and communities to live and organize. Stop skating your responsibilities and go organize you father’s cousins and neighbors. For myself its the conservative christian family members who’s homo/transphobia cuts me like no other’s.
Less Reactionary Coalitions
We need to develop better processes to cultivate everyday working people and make spaces for the masses of people to lead their own struggles. People getting active is great but that activity growing out of dramatic moments makes sustainability challenging. Resistance to oppression has been present from the beginning of this country, there are plenty of books, movies, and veteran activists to share the art of successful organizing, we know how to win campaigns, spread info, develop leaders etc. We need more coalitions based on strategic targets, issues, and visions of liberation.
Get Really Serious About Funding Ourselves
We have to create and raise our own resources without strings attached in order to have independent sustainable grassroots movement. Revolution will not be funded or supported by capitalism or foundations. Call it co ops, social enterprise, hustling whatever. We need funds to fight capitalism a lot of the time. The rest of the time we should practice barter systems and other alternatives to fiat currency. Groups developing time banks and barter systems are slowly growing across the country.
Learn to Live Accountability
When the same intersections of oppression play through our bodies and actions we act like we have lost all our problem solving skills and ability to forgive. We need real commitments and opportunities to struggle through Accountability not just Proclaim it. Develop guidelines for relationship building and supporting each other to live the values and principles we love to proclaim but fall short of everyday. Falling short and hurting each other is apart of the human condition but we have lost to many groups campaigns, and people over internal conflict. Just because we are fighting the oppression doesn’t mean we are immune to perpetuating and profiting from it. We want to intellectualize and demonstrate all day for political ideas but run to our comfort zones, burnout, or drown in pain and trauma when we deceive or hurt each other. Learning how to have healthy relationships is essential to liberation.
Opportunities to Practice the Liberation
Strategizing, Visioning, dreaming, relationship building, art making and campaigns that push us towards and give us opportunities to practice the liberation we hope our children will live one day. Dancing, loving and laughing with each other is just as vital to grassroots movement-building as planning the next action.
When I finished the room, filled with mostly white people 30 and up, was tense for a few seconds before 1 of 2 people of color started crying and saying thank for articulating somethings they had been struggling with. A good part of the group shared some appreciation for my thoughts and then continued to ask me questions that defended the fight for marriage equality… go figure.
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Every post I see about Blake Brockington is like a punch in the chest. Young people are a big part of my life and when one of our young takes their own life it reminds me we have so much work to do. I know what its like to sit with teens who parents just refuse to accept them. I’ve felt the same sting myself. Its a crime to be pushed so deep into sadness and rejection so early in life. For what I gather, as much love as Blake got from the community as prom King he also became a target in the process then this week at 18 he decided death was better.
As Spring approaches (even though its still snowing out here), The threat of death is in the air here in Chicago. I worry enough for my youth in the game or just walking the streets catching bullets the thought of one of them committing suicide… I can’t. When I tell people I didn’t think I’d see 25 they seem like they can’t imagine me feeling that way. His death reminds me the struggle for life is real. Especially for trans youth and black people. A lot of us suffer in silence and from time to time, no too often some decide to just end the struggle on their own terms.
I didn’t know this young man personally but he was one of our youth. He could have been someone I know and the numbers say one day it will be. His death the thought of someone like him taking their own life is stirring up so much frustration and grief. If I’m feeling it like this I can only imagine my peeps who knew him. Sending so much encouragement to his friends and love ones, to youth, to those struggling for life.
I have been protesting and organizing for over a decade. I stood up against racism at a mostly white private christian college, traveled the country campaigning against youth recruitment in the Iraq war, supported the people of New Orleans to rebuild their city whose government neglect and institutional racism caused the death of too many in the aftermath of Katrina, and marched in Wisconsin for the labor movement, walked in gay pride parades, blah, blah, blah ect. I’ve been to D.C. more times and to more rallies I can count but lately I’ve been burnt out on holding signs marching and chanting. After years of struggle its apparent that protests are not the beginning and ending of victory. They usually serve as a cry of desperation or a space for people to vent but rarely do they take the movement where it needs to go… yet they are still vital to the struggle. When I went to Ferguson it was important to me to bring donations and resources to sustain the struggle of the people on the ground. We gathered supplies for protesters and participated in the call to action and march under the direction of Mike Brown’s parents.
later with the increase in protests int he aftermath of Ferguson and now the failure to indict Eric Garner’s killers I was once again compelled to hit the streets. The anger, frustration, and pain was weighing in so heavy, the sense of hopelessness and powerlessness was eating at me so much. I knew it wouldn’t solve things but I had to do something for my own mental and emotional health my words weren’t enough I had to go to Ferguson and March (and I hate marching). Then again when they failed to indict for Eric G. I had to hit the streets here in Chicago.
Last night we walked for 3 hrs, laid in multiple intersections, and my heart raced as I stood arm to arm with friends and some of my youth from CFS and stared down the CPD in the middle of Lake Shore Drive. Given all that it was difficult for me to march in a crowd of hundreds of white people chanting #BlackLivesMatter. Mostly because I know in their lives they don’t have to. I wanted them to go chant that to their families who help create and profit from these corrupt systems killing us. I know white people can’t free us.WE HAVE TO FREE OURSELVES ultimately but white people have to do more than chant and march without confronting the enemy in their minds and families. Solidarity is a life long journey that reaches beyond Activism. It involves on going selflessness ,risks, and sacrifice I doubt most are ready for. Not wanting to have to deal with naive white people is one of the reasons i’ve avoided protesting for so long.
” (BlackLivesMatter) It’s time to really put the affirmation into real life action. Internally and Externally; we must conduct our lives, and our relationships with each other is such a way that fully embodies and validates the affirmation. We need commit to unrelenting resistance and the full destruction of all Systems and Institutions that seek to exploit, degrade, or deny Black lives any thing less than what is needed to live full and dignified Black lives. We will know real soon if this is a real affirmation, if it is a war cry, or if it’s nothing more than a slogan.”- Diallo Kenyatta