Socialism Art Nature

Currently reading a 1933 article from the New York Times on the topic of the mass Nazi book-burnings then occurring in Berlin.

The Times correspondent reports being aghast that the works of various Nobel Prize winners were thrown into the fire. However, when it comes to the “pictures and pamphlets as were gathered in from Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s so-called Institute of Sexual Science the other day — which, with all the correspondence from outsiders who had taken the place seriously, went into the flames tonight — there could be little question.”
 
For those who don’t know, Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jew, was the founder of perhaps the first ever LGBT rights organization in Europe, a member of the German Socialist party, and an early supporter of transgender identity.

Such bigotry among Western intellectuals and rulers — as evinced clearly in this Times article — is one of the primary reasons that the Nazis were never tried for any crimes against LGBT people during the post-war Nuremberg Trials. Nor were any of the LGBT prisoners of the Nazis released from the concentration camps following the Allied victory; they were all forced to serve out their terms of incarceration.

[Frederick Birchall, “Nazi Book-Burning Fails to Stir Berlin,” New York Times, 10 May 1933.]


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Katie Couric is a supreme fucking asshole. Also, I fucking LOOOOOVE Laverne Cox.

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On Monday, transgender model Carmen Carrera and Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox made a daytime TV talk show appearance on the ABC show Katie hosted by Katie Couric. What was advertised as a platform for these two talented and charming ladies to talk about the projects they are working on and transgender issues, quickly devolved into an awkward inquisition about their genitals led by the host. Both women stepped up to the challenge, though, and turned the interview into a triumphant verbal parade by both Carrera and Cox on what it’s like to be trans, what it’s like to have people ask you about your genitals on a regular basis and what issues are really important to the trans community.

Things started to seem a little odd when the viewers kept being reminded about Carrera’s transition by being shown pictures of her in bandages and mentions of her transition at every chance. Later when Couric introduced Carerra, she said that “she was born a man and that’s why she’s on our show,” making it very clear that she’s only interesting because of her transition. Couric continued to focus on that part of Carerra’s life when she said that after being on Rupaul’s Drag Race, Carrera “realized she was done acting like a woman and wanted to become one.” However, the real trouble started when Couric started to ask Ms. Carrera if transitioning was painful because of all the surgery that she had to go through. Carmen looked a little confused and responded by talking a little about her nose job and breast augmentation and that’s when Katie pounced. She immediately asked if Carmen’s “private parts” are “different now” and if she’s had that surgery yet. Carmen Carrera responded perfectly. First she literally shushed Katie Couric, trying to get her to stop asking such a private thing. Then she told her “I don’t want to talk about it, it’s really personal” and she told Katie that there’s a lot more to get than her genitals. She said, “after the transition there’s still life to live, I still have my career goals, I still have my family goals.”

After the break, Couric brought on Laverne Cox who, at first was talking about her role on Orange is the New Black. They talked about her character Sofia Burset and how her twin brother played pre-transition Sofia on the show. Cox was absolutely killing it, saying she doesn’t see herself as a “role model,” she prefers the term “possibility model” (a term I’m totally going to steal). She says that she’s not arrogant enough to think that people should model their life after her, but she likes the idea that she is showing other people that it’s possible to live your dreams.

Unfortunately, that’s when Katie got back on the surgery track. Couric explained that she just wants to be educated and that a lot of people are curious because they’re “not familiar with transgenders.” She told Cox that Carrera had “recoiled” when asked about surgery and said that cis people are preoccupied with “the genitalia question.” Couric wondered if Cox felt the same way about that question and about cis people’s attitudes towards trans women. As soon as Cox started telling her that, yes, she keeps her private parts private and that cis people do have an obsession with trans women’s genitalia, she really started picking up steam. Cox said that the preoccupation with genitalia and transition objectifies trans women and distracts us from the real issues.

Cox was absolutely brilliant as she brought up how trans women, and specifically trans women of color, disproportionately face violence and discrimination, even compared to other LGBTQ people. She brought up the case of Islan Nettles, a black trans woman who was brutally murdered after the men who were cat-calling her realized she was trans and beat her to death. There is still no justice for Nettles, as the charges against her murderer were dropped. Cox brought up the facts that trans women face absurdly high lives of homelessness, violent crime, discrimination and poverty. Then Cox hit it out of the park when she said, “by focusing on bodies we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”

Throughout all of this, both Carrera and Cox remained ridiculously charming. They both appeared to be so happy to be on the show and to be able to talk about the work that they do. They were completely tactful and kept on talking about how much they love each other and are proud of the things the other is doing. It was great seeing two successful and thriving trans women of color showing so much love for each other and then completely bringing it when they were asked inappropriate questions about their bodies. I’m extremely tired of every story about trans women focusing on their transition, so when both Carrera and Cox spoke out against that line of questioning, I was cheering at my TV. Hopefully, as more and more resources are available, people won’t feel so comfortable asking strangers about what surgeries they’ve had and what their genitals look like. Trans people are more than just our bodies, and these two women showed that in the absolute best way possible.


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Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness & Liberation | Eli Clare

Eli Clare, a poet with cerebral palsy, examines environmentalism, disability and gender, both personally and politically.

First published in 1999, Exile and Pride established Eli Clare as one of the leading writers on the intersections of queerness and disability. With this critical tenth-anniversary edition, the groundbreaking publication secures its position as essential to the history of queer and disability politics. Yet the book is much too great in scope to be defined by even these two issues. Instead it offers an intersectional framework for understanding how our bodies actually experience the politics of oppression, power, and resistance. At the heart of Clare’s exploration of environmental destruction, white working-class identity, queer community, disabled sexuality, childhood sexual abuse, coalition politics, and his own gender transition is a call for social justice movements that are truly accessible for everyone.


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OITNB's Laverne Cox Is Producing a Documentary About CeCe McDonald

Today in awesome, Orange is the New Black trans actress Laverne Cox is producing a documentary about embattled trans woman CeCe McDonald — who may be getting out of prison soon.

Free CeCe!, which has already begun production,is slated to continue into 2014 along with McDonald herself, who is set to be released on January 13, 2014 according to Minnesota’s Department of Corrections website. Double yay! Here’s Cox on why she began Free CeCe! with production partner Jacqueline Gares in Persephone:

CeCe’s story is one that should have been covered more in the press. Trans women, particularly trans women of color, experience disproportionate amounts of violence and not enough is being done to eradicate that violence. CeCe’s story in so many ways encapsulates the intersectional issues that lead to far too many of us experiencing violence. I wanted to do a piece that explores the nature of how race, class and gender affect violence towards trans women and also give CeCe a space to tell her story in her words in the context of a piece that truly values the lives of trans women of color.

McDonald is in the midst of completing her 41 month sentence in a men’s prison for the stabbing death of Dean Schmitz, who attacked her and several friends in Minneapolis in 2011. You can contribute to the Free CeCe! project here, if interested.

Image via Free CeCe! and Free CeCe McDonald Tumblr


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Totally Biased: Kamau Talks to Laverne Cox

“Last night in a knockout segment on FXX’s Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, Cox thanked the trans women who made her success possible—Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who were at Stonewall, and Candis Cayne, the trans actress who made history with her role in Dirty, Sexy Money. At one point, Bell says, “I feel like you gave me just a whole list of names to go home and Google.” First Bell. Then America.”

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LOVE. If you haven’t already, please watch this! Big props to W. Kamau Bell and Laverne Cox for both being so damn awesome!


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Marche Existrans 2013Paris, France (19 Oct. 2013)

Existrans 2013: a march of trans* and intersex folks and allies demanding an end to transphobia, trans* pathologization, forced sterilization, surgical abuse of intersex infants and calling for attention to trans*-specific healthcare needs, non-discrimination and trans* rights, particularly the legal recognition of gender identity and expression. Some of the signs point to the connections between these struggles and those related to HIV and AIDS and others call attention to the precarious lives of undocuqueers in France. Two especially clever plays on words (that work well with French pronunciation) are: Existrans and Résistrans, affirming the existence of a vibrant trans* community committed to resistance.

Photo credit: Itzigani photographe

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.675096059189417.1073741833.133049770060718&type=1


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"This is enraging. Police violence against LGBT and queer people, which are disproportionally people of color, needs to be seen as equally import to other equality struggles, like the fight for same sex marriage. Police brutality and murder IS an LGBTQ issue."


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"Joan of Arc as pioneering transgender/queer martyr"

I’m getting an idea for a thesis along the lines of:

"Joan of Arc as pioneering transgender/queer martyr"

After all, one of the key reasons why she was ultimately put to death by the combined forces of the Catholic Church and French/British feudal lords was because her supposed sins included “dressing” and generally “comporting herself” like a man. She was accused of being an “unwomanly woman.” She chose to wear “men’s clothes” and demanded to be treated just the same as all other men both on and off the battlefield — and not just in terms of “equal rights,” per se, but in accord with the all the social and cultural gender norms regarding men in Medieval France.

And for this, she was deemed eligible to be burned at the stake by the ruling powers of her time and place.

On top of this, she was also just a bad-ass young woman [she was only 19 when she was executed!] who led an entire army to fight against the occupation of France by the British; and who also — in large part owing to her own status as a small rural farmer — critiqued the domination by the big French landed aristocracy over the mass of oppressed French peasantry.

Thoughts?

[Disclaimer: Obviously the modern notion of a transgender identity as such did not exist in Medieval France. I am aware of that, and not trying to retroactively assign contemporary notions onto pre-existing historical epochs. But I think if we look at what Joan of Arc was trying to express with her gender identity within the narrow confines of her society at that time, we can see something that is at least somewhat akin to our modern conception of transgender identity. Maybe … ?]

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