Sunday, March 6, 2011

How To Make Love to a Trans Person

by Gabe Moses

Forget the images you've learned to attach
To words like cock and clit,
Chest and breasts.
Break those words open
Like a paramedic cracking ribs
To pump blood through a failing heart.
Push your hands inside.
Get them messy.
Scratch new definitions on the bones.

Get rid of the old words altogether.
Make up new words.
Call it a click or a ditto.
Call it the sound he makes
When you brush your hand against it through his jeans,
When you can hear his heart knocking on the back of his teeth
And every cell in his body is breathing.
Make the arch of her back a language
Name the hollows of each of her vertebrae
When they catch pools of sweat
Like rainwater in a row of paper cups
Align your teeth with this alphabet of her spine
So every word is weighted with the salt of her.

When you peel layers of clothing from his skin
Do not act as though you are changing dressings on a trauma patient
Even though it's highly likely that you are.
Do not ask if she's "had the surgery."
Do not tell him that the needlepoint bruises on his thighs look like they hurt
If you are being offered a body
That has already been laid upon an altar of surgical steel
A sacrifice to whatever gods govern bodies
That come with some assembly required
Whatever you do,
Do not say that the carefully sculpted landscape
Bordered by rocky ridges of scar tissue
Looks almost natural.

If she offers you breastbone
Aching to carve soft fruit from its branches
Though there may be more tissue in the lining of her bra
Than the flesh that rises to meet itLet her ripen in your hands.
Imagine if she'd lost those swells to cancer,
A car accident instead of an accident of genetics
Would you think of her as less a woman then?
Then think of her as no less one now.

If he offers you a thumb-sized sprout of muscle
Reaching toward you when you kiss him
Like it wants to go deep enough inside you
To scratch his name on the bottom of your heart
Hold it as if it can-
In your hand, in your mouth
Inside the nest of your pelvic bones.
Though his skin may hardly do more than brush yours,
You will feel him deeper than you think.

Realize that bodies are only a fraction of who we are
They're just oddly-shaped vessels for hearts
And honestly, they can barely contain us
We strain at their seams with every breath we take
We are all pulse and sweat,
Tissue and nerve ending
We are programmed to grope and fumble until we get it right.
Bodies have been learning each other forever.
It's what bodies do.
They are grab bags of parts
And half the fun is figuring out
All the different ways we can fit them together;
All the different uses for hipbones and hands,
Tongues and teeth;
All the ways to car-crash our bodies beautiful.
But we could never forget how to use our hearts
Even if we tried.
That's the important part.
Don't worry about the bodies.
They've got this.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Asexuality is Queer!

awesome. blog.

Protest Midway Perkins at noon tomorrow!

Recently a member in the community was tazed 4 times by security when accessing a public restroom at Midway Perkins in St. Paul. The victim was not threatening and did nothing wrong! Our community has experienced transphobia and bathroom-policing at this Perkins before, and this action was completely unacceptable.
We are protesting Perkins for their absolute inappropriate use of power!

Join us this Saturday at noon at the Midway Perkins in St. Paul to let them and their customers know this behavior is NOT acceptable!

You can help by being there. Spreading the word to others and help get people there. Make signs that refer to: Bathrooms are a necessity and need to be accessible to all! Bring Cameras. Take pictures/video. Post them.

This is just wrong!

Queer Saints and Martyrs (and Others)

LGBTA Community Center in the works by (corporate-Pride wanabe) Togadere Center

The newly created Togadere Center is hoping to create a center that has variously been referred to as an "LGBTA" community center and a "gay-str8" community center. The mission of the group states that they hope to: "provide safe space for all people regardless of age, creed, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity. A space people can come to regardless of where they are in life or where they are going. The idea is that being Together under one roof with a tolerant and open attitude will propagate, lead and create change."

And while the word "tolerance" by itself gets me a little bit irritated right from the get-go (I think by now we should be focusing on social justice strategies in the work we do), I was even more upset when I went to the group's facebook page and found an event posted for this past Monday, February 7th titled "LGBTA Community Center Developement Meeting" that neither I, nor any of my friends, had heard anything about. I pride myself in being well-connected in many trans and bi communities in Minneapolis, and the more I asked the more I found that these communities had heard nothing about this. I looked at the attendees and found unfortunately, what I suspected: a majority of people I read as white, gay men. This was my response on the event page:

I would like to know why, if this group is claiming to develop an **LGBTA** community center, I see a vast majority of white gay-identified men attending? That makes me question who has been included in the initial planning process. Do you have more than a single trans person in your group? How about bi people? And perhaps most importantly, how about people of color?

If you were really trans allies you probably wouldn't say "transgendered". It is actually grammatically incorrect, and none of the trans people I know like it written like that.

You have to have these people involved in the planning from the INITIAL stages, not after things "start rolling," otherwise your "vision" will be very white, middle class, able-bodied, and male from the start. If you do that, certain people may not want to be involved, and then it's not an LGBTA center, it's a: a "gay-str8" center. I think the very fact that you conflate "gay" with "LGBTA" is problematic and shows that you forefront "gay" and think it's an acceptable way to refer to our community. I am not "gay" and neither are many of my friends. I find it offensive when people reduce us to a "gay" community. It's language like that that shows you're not being conscious about being truly inclusive, which means more than just saying you are.

A community center like this is something that I care a lot about... and I want to see one in our community... but I think you need to do outreach and really genuinely connect with other nonprofits in the area if you want to create a truly accessible space. You need to find out what we, as an entire LGBTA community, want and need from our community center, and not just assume you know.

I'm troubled by the fact that I am involved in tons of bi- and trans-related organizations.... none of which seem to have heard anything about this? Why haven't you contacted TYSN (the Trans Youth Support Network) and gotten them involved? How about the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition? They have an informal community space already up and running down on Chicago Ave... so wouldn't it make sense to work with someone who's already doing this work? Co-creating is different than creating something and then inviting people into it... I think our LGBTA community center here in the twin cities NEEDS to be co-created WITH trans folks, WITH people of color, WITH people with disabilities and chronic health issues, people WITH families, WITH homeless youth/people who have been homeless, WITH poor people, etc.

You need to ask the question, "who is this for?" and then make sure you genuinely include all of those people... not just a token trans and/or black person representing "their" whole community. And that means doing more than just "hoping" those people get involved... you need to DO specific outreach and DO work within your own already existing structure (whatever that may be right now... even if it's a small group right now) to make sure these voices are present and are heard.

While I very much appreciate the spirit of this project, I do not think it can be one or a few (white) people's visions. If it is, you WON'T meet the needs of folks who aren't JUST like you. You won't be accessible to people of color, people with diverse abilities, people of color, youth, etc… because you can't speak for those people, and you can't assume their needs/goals/priorities are the same as yours. You also can't assume you know what we/they want in a community center, which is why I recommend a much stronger collaboration plan before you go any further. This concept is really important, and we can’t afford not to start it the right way. If you do not, you will meet resistance from the community.

UPDATE 3/6/11:

Shortly after I posted this critique, Bobby McNamara said to my partner (who is trans), "Could you gather up the transgendered community for a meeting?"

I dunno babe, can you gather up the whole transgendered community? Clearly since you're the only trans person who's expressed interest (albeit only critical) in this project, it's your responsibility (not Bobby's) to reach out to all “transgendered” folks and get them to a tokenizing meeting for him.

Did you even listen to me Bobby?! I told you I don't know ANY trans people who use the word "transgendered" to describe themselves and then you go and ask my partner to go and gather them all up for you? First of all, yes, my partner is trans, but no, that is not their job.

Is anyone else as offended by this as I am?