Chicago: Protect Safe Space for Queer and Trans Youth and Youth Experiencing Homelessness!

Update: I’m not even sure this post was ever made visible, but… We won! Thanks in part to hundreds of folks turning up to the hearing and thousands more writing letters of support, BYC got the permit. It was amazing. Love y’all. 

Maybe someday I will use this blog for something other than asking people to show up to random stuff every once in awhile, but we need support. So, in the hope that someone who still is subscribed to my blog will hear this signal boost……

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And please read this beautiful description of BYC via Prison Culture blog via Lara… it made the tears well up, in a good way. <3 Taking Care of Our Own: Stand With the Broadway Youth Center.

I will also add that the BYC is one of the most transformative,  loving, radical, healing, magical, beauty-inducing, community-supporting, life-sustaining, world-changing spaces I have ever been part of and it’s continued existence is absolutely crucial to the hundreds of young people served there. Boom.

Chicago in Solidarity to End Violence Against Sex Workers July 18, 2013

So, I live in Chicago now. (More on that soon — yes, it’s been forever since I updated this blog, so please excuse the mess and the fact that a lot of my posts were written years ago!!)

BUT FIRST, I want to promote this important event I helped organize. I encourage folks to check out the original page at http://chicagodecriminalizenow.wordpress.com. [Updated, 7/20: Reportback from the demo added!]

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When: Friday, July 19th, 6:30pm central time
Where: 
Consulate General of Sweden (150 N Michigan Ave, Chicago)‎
What: Rally to demand justice for murdered sex workers and an end to all policies criminalizing sex work
Social Media: #JusticeForJasmine #JusticeForDora #StigmaKills
To RSVP: e-mail chicagodecriminalizenow@gmail.com
Global Facebook event: International Day of Protest against the violent Abuse and Murder of Sex Workers
Allies Welcome!!

via jasmineanddora.wordpress.com:

On July 19th, 2013, people are gathering across the globe to protest against violence against sex workers.

Following the murders of Dora Özer and Petite Jasmine on the 9th and 11 of July 2013, sex workers, their friends, families, and allies are coming together to demand an end to stigma, criminalisation, violence and murders. In the week since the two tragedies occurred, the feelings of anger, grief, sadness and injustice – for the loss of Dora and Jasmine, but also for the senseless and systemic murders and violence against sex workers worldwide – have brought together people in more 36 cities from four continents who agreed to organise demos, vigils, and protests in front of Turkish and Swedish embassies or other symbolic places. JOIN US on Friday the 19th and stand in solidarity with sex workers and their loved ones around the world! Justice for Dora! Justice for Jasmine! Justice for all sex workers who are victims of violence!

via http://jasmineanddora.wordpress.com/new-york/:

As the sex trade becomes an ever more important part of how neoliberal economies handle the poorest and most marginalized, violence against sex workers – particularly against transgender and immigrant women – has become a tragic epidemic. Please join us this Friday, where we will be rallying in solidarity with sex workers all over the world to commemorate two women, Dora Özer and Petite Jasmine, who brutally lost their lives last week in Turkey and Sweden.

Despite being organized at the last minute and many sex workers and allies currently being in Las Vegas for the Desiree Alliance Conference, it is still important for Chicagoans to demonstrate solidarity with the international call for a day of action for sex worker justice.

As the cases of Dora and Jasmine show, the criminalization of sex work is a global problem that is literally killing our communities. It takes global solidarity to combat this kind of systemic, legitimized, state-sanctioned violence.

Why the Swedish Consulate?

Many people interested in sex workers’ rights have heard of the so-called “Swedish model” or the “Nordic model” — a strategy aimed at decriminalizing some aspects of selling sex, while increasing the criminalization of buying sex. The goal of such laws is to eradicate sex work by “ending demand,” – presenting it as a more “humane” (or even “feminist”) response. While Turkey has an extremely high death rate for sex workers and transgender women, it is also important to challenge the growing number of people (including here in Illinois — see below) who want to follow the Swedish example of pushing ill-informed policies that give stricter punishment for the purchasing of sex. As the tragic loss of Jasmine shows, this false alternative is just another form of violence against sex workers.

This model is not a kinder, gentler alternative to arresting and giving heavy sentences to sex workers. In reality, these laws haven’t eliminated demand. They have only made things worse for sex workers, especially those already most vulnerable — street workers, transgender women (who are often profiled as sex workers even if they aren’t), homeless/street-based young people, undocumented immigrants, etc.

People will continue to do what they need to do in order to survive, and should never be punished or stigmatized for how they do so. By conflating all forms of sex work with violence or human trafficking (which is not the same thing as sex work) or calling sex work ‘sexual slavery’, proponents of “End Demand” policies erase the agency and autonomy of people who chose sex work. Even by criminalizing clients, End Demand denies the reality that sex workers and our clients can have consensual relationships. Far from being feminist, proponents of End Demand are trying to legislate what we can and cannot do with our bodies.

Why Chicago?

Because “End Demand” policies are coming here — in fact, they already are here. Almost anyone who rides the CTA or drives along the highway has seen prominent ads purchased by End Demand Illinois, an organization pushing (somewhat successfully) for “Swedish model” type legislation in our state. (For further critique of the End Demand ad campaign, check out this from the Sex Workers Organizing Project-Chicago.) Some of these laws, advertising campaigns, and the policies they are lobbying for have already had direct, negative impacts on the lives of sex workers in Chicago and across the state. We don’t want to see the very same laws that contributed to the death of Jasmine in Sweden come here, or anywhere. Now is the time to soundly reject these policies and demand full decriminalization.

More on why the “End Demand” or “Swedish” model is dangerous…

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Palliative Care Isn’t Enough: Antidepressants, Dependency, and Revolution

When I came to Europe, I wasn’t sure how long I would stay. I brought enough medication to last three months (the most I could). By the time it ran out, I was already making plans to return to Turtle Island and figured I could get free refills if I waited. I have been waiting a long time now. Expenses keep coming up that prevent me from having enough money to leave — computer crashes, broken glasses, other emergencies.

I was able to borrow other prescriptions, but the one thing I couldn’t find was my SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors — a common genre of antidepressants). I had previously considered discontinuing them anyway, but I knew it was dangerous, especially when my situation and my (mental) health are already so precarious. There was always some life-threatening crisis, constant brushes with death, and crushing poverty, so it never seemed like the right time to add another potential hazard. Plus, I had more pressing chemical dependencies to deal with first. Same reasons I still smoke cigarettes.

So when I started to run out of them, I figured it was as good a time as any to go off them. I knew the risks when I started taking my SSRIs years ago. So before I quit, I read as much as I could. I tapered my doses downward over a period of months. It has now been several weeks since I stopped taking it entirely and I feel like shit.

I didn’t immediately recognize the creeping, inexplicable (and therefore terrifying) symptoms as SSRI withdrawal. When I first realized it was connected, I was a bit relieved because it seemed to show it was a transitory chemical readjustment. But it kept getting worse and worse and I started to fear something was very wrong, that it must be something else. But the more I looked into it, the scary truth seems to be that this kind of suffering is a relatively normal thing during SSRI withdrawal.

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Dutch Light 2

Reason #3229367 to hate capitalism: Freaking speculators stole my domain name (thedistantpanic.com) right after it expired and before I could afford to renew it. >:( Really?

Anyway, I am moving back to Turtle Island! Probably to Portland, Oregon via Detroit via DC, so if you are in/near one of those places, chat this girl UP! [Update: Oops, never mind. I got stuck in Detroit for eight months and then decided to move to Chicago instead.]

For now though I am too poor to afford a plane ticket. So that means: here are even more pretty pictures from nature & weird buildings in Amsterdam, where in the spring/summer time you can go to bed at midnight and wake up at 4am and still never see darkness…

this is but a tiny fraction of the true number of bicycles around me. i would have needed a 360 panoramic shot to show them all. walking in the city is literally like being swept into a sea of bikes.

anarchist May Day posters; ¨don´t swallow everything they feed you¨

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Proof Emma Goldman Would Support Tranarchism.

History nerd that I am, I came across a letter Emma Goldman wrote to Magnus Hirschfeld in 1923. I’m not sure how I managed to miss this before, but its a gem.

For context: Emma (n.1869 – 1940) is possibly the most famous north american anarchist. She was also a Jewish immigrant, feminist, birth control advocate, anti-war activist, prison abolitionist, supporter of free love (polyamory), labor organizer, midwife, atheist, and a damn good speaker/writer. She has been an inspiration to me and one of my favorite political thinkers since I was 13.

Hirschfeld founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the first-ever known organization to advocate for the legal rights of homosexuals and transvestites. He is credited with inventing the terms transsexual and transvestite. (He didn’t, actually. But he did contribute greatly to their modern meaning.) His clinic, the Institute for Sexology, employed many self-identified transsexuals and transvestites before it was burned down by the Nazis. There, they pioneered modern hormone replacement therapy and performed the first ever modern vaginoplasty for a transsexual woman.[1]

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Dutch Light (Or, How I Didn’t Get Arrested or Kill Myself and Escaped to Europe Instead)

It’s been almost two months since I woke up in Queens and had pupusas and churros on the subway one last time. Many friends don’t know where I am or how I got here. So here’s (part of) the story…with pretty pictures from my crumby camera!

So two months ago, I made some quick cash and bought a one-way ticket for Europe. Then I got on a plane to Reykjavik, where I was stranded by a blizzard long enough to try Icelandic schnapps, go outside, and watch the sunrise at 11am and I swear I saw elves. And then I came to the Netherlands, home of kabouters.

Right now, I’m drinking Albert Heijn’s finest (read: cheapest) rosé, watching trains go by from my balcony in Amsterdam, taking in the first warm sunlight of the spring, and hoping maybe one of the most wretched fall/winters ever… is finally over.

The one touristy thing I had to do in A’dam: Get picture taken with the statue of Belle the prostitute in the red (and blue!) light district. The inscription reads, “Respect sex workers all over the world.” That’s RIGHT! By the way, blue lights around the girls working as window escorts means they´re trans. :)

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Toward Participatory Gender: Trans Self-Determination and Movements for Social Justice

A friend asked to see my thesis, so I found a copy. I spent over a year and a half writing this in 2008-2010. Some of the writing was taken from pieces even older than that. This is the first time I’ve looked at it in a year or two, and I’m surprisingly still pretty fond of it! It’s especially kind of fascinating in light of my involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and linking that back to my work with the DC Trans Coalition and trans-centric organizing more broadly.

I decided to share some of it, since only a couple people have read it so far (and I’ve promised to share it with a lot of folks but never followed up). Given that it’s a thesis, it’s slightly more academic than my usual writing, but I tried to write as accessibly as I could. Here’s the Abstract, and the Introduction and Overview (the first 20ish pages of the entire thesis, which contains a summary of most of the rest) are below the cut. The whole thing is around 250 pages. Perhaps I will eventually get around to sharing the rest someday! As I do, I will post links on the Table of Contents below. :)

Toward Participatory Gender: Trans Self-Determination and Movements for Social Justice

Goddard College
June 2010

Abstract

This paper explores notions of identity, gender, and social justice by delving into the histories and politics of trans communities in north america. The author explores how trans people have actively built communities around shared experiences, and how these communities both contribute to and benefit from engaging in struggles for social and economic justice. She urges broader progressive, radical, and feminist movements not to ignore how forces such as cis supremacy and transphobia situate oppression, and thus how we organize resistance to it. She passionately develops her own vision for a movement that is both capable of realizing a participatory gender system and grounded in a shared ethics of total liberation.

The author argues that academic studies of trans people have largely neglected trans people’s own agency in shaping our identities and communities. She claims that medical, psychiatric, feminist, and queer accounts of trans issues have all so far failed to critically examine the material conditions of trans people’s lives or recognize the diverse strategies we have created to transform those conditions. She reexamines these histories, with a focus on the participation of poor trans women of color and other marginalized voices, in order to give context to her own experiences of embodiment and political action.

The project also discusses how trans liberation activists will fail if they focus only on fighting “transphobia” without analyzing the ways in which other institutions and systems – such as the state and white supremacy – also shape trans experiences. The author argues that trans praxis must be grounded in our everyday lived experiences, and thus must also account for the ways in which differing privileges and oppressions intersect in our selves. She does this with detailed accounts of trans people’s interactions with policing and incarceration, the politics of hate crime legislation, her own engagement with doctors and government bureaucracies, the stigma of mental illness and sex work, and much more. Throughout the work, she blends personal narrative, theory, and research to explore the ethics of gender self-determination, her own identity as a genderqueer transsexual woman, and her involvement in organizing for collective empowerment in trans communities.

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