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Naming Gendered and Sexual Identities within Blackness

An excerpt from As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Liberation, AK Press, released June 5, 2018. Find out more at the AK Press website page for As Black as Resistance.

By William C. Anderson and Zoe Samudzi

Any truly liberatory politics must speak to the unique needs and vulnerability of Black women and girls, particularly Black queer and transgender women and girls. There are ongoing murders of Black trans women across the country (and trans women around the world) because women’s safety is a non-priority of the state and because patriarchal gender structures are ultimately grounded in transmisogyny. Black women are also being hunted, but this hunting season (unlike the open season on Black men) is grossly under-addressed because of the frequent de-gendering of antiracist politics, the invisibilization of Black women through diversity language like “women and people of color” that overlooks the intersections of race and gender, the erasure of Black women within “women of color,” and understandings of how state violence against Black people focuses on the humiliation and emasculation and almost sole targeting of cisgender black men. A politics of self-defense cannot ignore the intersections of white supremacist state violence and its manifestations of intra-communal violence against Black women (trans and cis), as well as multiply marginalized members of Black communities more widely.

Neutrality Silences Marginalized People

By Lewis Wallace

In March 2016, I covered a Donald Trump rally in Vandalia, Ohio, for local radio station WYSO and NPR’s Weekend Edition. It was both familiar and eerie: Comfortable suburbanites, old people who’d driven hours from rural places, and children in red hats who cheered, then chanted, then jeered in unison, “Build the wall!” Trump told an apocryphal story about a U.S. general dipping bullets in pig’s blood before executing 49 Muslim prisoners of war. Protesters were dragged out one by one, and someone in the crowd shouted, “Off with their heads” as Trump mocked them from the podium. At the end of the rally, I ran into someone I knew: a man from a trailer park that had been facing frequent water shutoffs. I’d knocked on his door when I was reporting the first national story about that struggle.

bell hooks and Laverne Cox Discuss Transgender Politics Leading public intellectual bell hooks engages in inspiring dialogue with Laverne Cox, critically acclaimed actress and the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on television. What are the politics of transgender women? What exactly does contemporary feminism look like? These questions inform their provocative conversation, part of bell hook’s week-long residency at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Ar. Watch the full conversation here.

What Trans People of Color Fear After the Bruce Jenner Media Circus: Another Perspective

By Kay Ulanday Barrett | Fusion

After Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer, which aired on April 24, “he became the most visible transgender person in the country, if not the world,” Time magazine reported. In response to the media’s focus on Jenner’s announcement, Kay Ulanday Barrett – a poet, performer, and educator navigating life as a disabled pin@y-amerikan transgernder queer in the U.S. – offers insights into the experiences of trans people of color.

The problem regarding Bruce Jenner’s situation is the media circus that it all culminates into. It’s all a freakshow for cisgender and non-transgender people.

The painful reality is that our gender identity is under speculation, suspicion, doubt, and policing. But the current curiosity surrounding Jenner’s interview in the non-trans community creates a magical fantasy based on a very wealthy, able-bodied, American, and white experience that isn’t the case for many of us who struggle for survival and justice as transgender people of color.

Sex Work, Leadership and Trans Self-Determination

By Jaime Grant, Contributing Editor, Genders and Sexuality

Editor’s note: Desiree Alliance’s decision to boycott the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia prompted the writing of this piece. Desiree Alliance is a coalition of sex workers, health professionals, social scientists, professional sex educators, and their supporting networks working together for an improved understanding of the sex industry and its human, social, and political impacts. Read their boycott letter Read their boycott letter.

To support trans leaders around the world in their research and advocacy efforts, the Global Trans Research and Advocacy Project (GTRAP) has been drawing on the landmark study of transgender discrimination in the US, Injustice at Every Turn:  A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) for the last two years. GTRAP has shared the grassroots research methods and findings of NTDS with activists from all over the world, including trans people in Cuba, Honduras, Georgia, Armenia, China, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, and Uganda. Many new projects are growing out of these vibrant exchanges.

In every setting, the issue of employment and the wholesale exclusion of transgender people from legal workplaces and formal, legitimate economies is a front and center human rights issue. In the US Survey, respondents lived the harsh realities of workforce rejection, facing near-universal harassment in ‘legitimate’ workplaces, widespread job termination solely based on their gender identity, and consequentially high levels of participation in underground or ‘informal’ economies such as busking, drug sales and sex work.

Transgender Identities & Communities

This course examines queer and transgender identities in different cultural contexts. Drawing on historical as well as contemporary studies, the course examines gender and sexual identities from a transnational feminist perspective. Course materials include scholarly essays from a variety of disciplines including history, anthropology, philosophy, literature, legal studies, and film studies. WGS 552 asks students to analyze gender identities, particularly transgender identities, as they intersect with ideas about sexuality, race, labor, and nation. This semester we will study transgender identities by examining how sexual practices and gender identities are intertwined. For instance, what distinguishes a butch lesbian from a female-to-male transsexual? How do names for sexual and gendered practices (from “homosexual” to “tom”) shape how we think about culture, gender, race, sexuality, and nation? How do these factors produce sexed and gendered identities that resonate with national identities and ideologies? Dr. Nan Alamilla Boyd San Francisco State University Syllabus

Transgender Histories, Identities, & Politics

This course will critically investigate the category transgender – not to cast doubt on the identities, movements, and communities that have arisen around this term, but rather, to investigate the historical, political, social, and cultural conditions and contexts which have enabled it. At the heart of this course is a series of critical questions: where did “transgender” come from? What does it enable as a category? What does it obscure? How can it be seen as a term located in the terms of U.S.American understandings of personhood? What are the problems and possibilities of using “transgender” to describe non-normative genders cross-culturally? What are the contexts within which “transgender” can be used to make claims of the state in a representative democracy? What possibilities and problems are presented by using the term to describe people who refuse it as descriptive of their experiences? But there are other questions we want to…

Trans Bodies Across the Globe

This course investigates transnational understandings of gender variance and transgender bodies. How do understandings of the relationship between gender and sexuality change across the globe? How have terms like “transgender” been taken up outside the United States? This course examines the tools we need to understand the lives of Indian hijras, Brazilian travestis, Native American Two Spirit, Thai kathoey or ladyboys, Indonesian tombois and trans people in the United States. We ask if terms like “transgender” and “transsexual” are useful to describe non-Western embodiments. We learn about contemporary gender variant social formations in South America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, indigenous gender diverse communities in North America and the Pacific Islands, and diasporic gender variant communities in North America and Western Europe. We will frame our discussions of transgender social formations within historical, political, and economic contexts, and how transnational flows of global capital impact transgender and gender variant identities.…