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september 02 dispatches




09-30-02   dean: Feirce! action, az's genius, trans pain

First, a little late-onset plug for Az's new zine, skint 3, which you can get by writing P.O. box 209, East Brunswick, Victoria Australia 3057, or email disco_boy@smoove.org. Needless to say, its pure genius--incredibly sexy, brave, insightful, critical, funny, etc. In the intro Az writes about how zines work for him.

“Using language to reinvent oneself – in preparation for, or in tandem with, the much more ambitious project of remaking the world – this is what zines are to me. Most definitely, this zine is a technology. The churning, wet language micromachines (wet because they’re emotive, sexed and sexy, violent, fucked up, terrified and often forced into speech or words where before there were none) are working hard. Hot. It’s a furnace out there, sometimes I wonder how I keep from going under. Which is precisely because zines allow me to write personally in my own name without the danger of being held to it, being the tail pinned to some unwieldy donkey of ‘official representation’ or ‘community.’”

I guess I haven’t really experienced zines as that kind of free space lately. Craig and I have been having conversations about the intensity of putting ourselves into this website. We get a lot of emails about how much we suck, how flawed our work is, how we have no place talking about the things we’re trying to talk about. I am grateful to the people who write these emails—they often pour a lot of effort into taking apart our strategies and assumptions, and on many occasions I’ve learned a lot from them. At the same time, most of these emails are very angry, broadly indicting, and hard to read. At the same time, we’re routinely trashed in on-line forums, often because of the trans stuff we’re talking about. A huge part of me is excited when people read our stuff, even if they hate us, but inevitably another part of me gets really tired—tired of hearing so much more about how our work is more bad than good, tired of having people’s critiques often center on my actual body and life—whether I pass or not, whether I’m an elitist prick. All misunderstanding is painful, but I’ve become particularly aware, through this website and our zines, of the pain of being misread and erased—having people assume I’m from an upper-class background, having people tell me I’m not trans enough or real enough. I don’t know—its sounds stupid to complain about this. We’re totally blessed to have web access, to get to make zines and copy them, to have people read them and write about them in public forums. It’s just, I guess, Craig and I are trying to take time to think some about the difficulties that come with putting yourself in public with ideas like these that freak people out—and how particularly hard it is to get really negative responses from other activists, other trans people, etc. I think it just often makes me hope for a time when we’re all less damaged, when we can have conversations that account for our anger and frustration but also include space for forgiveness and growth.

In other news, don’t miss the Fierce! Oct. 5 action to protest the attacks on queer and trans youth and people of color in the West Village. Here’s the call out:

”GIVE US BACK THE PIER! LIFT THE CURFEW! END POLICE HARASSMENT! Saturday October 5th Starting 1PM @ Sheridan Square! RESIST in Sheridan Square. Hear spoken word artists and activists reflect on our struggle. LGBT people of all generations will tell our stories from Stonewall till today. REVOLT as we roll through the Village in protest, showing cops, business owners, and residents THIS IS OUR HOME TOO! RECLAIM the Christopher Street pier ALL NIGHT LONG (or till 1 AM, whichever comes first) at the jump-off Block Party. We gonna have FREE FOOD, MUSIC, an OPEN MIC, and GAMES (double-dutch, spades, and dominoes). FIERCE!Phone: [646]336.6789 x103 or x105 E-Mail: Thats_FIERCE@hotmail.com”

One final note, I have to deliver the very sad news that the Arizona trans activist, Alexander Goodrum, took his life Friday night. Alexander was an amazing, outspoken activist whose work was central to the passage of the Tucson trans-inclusive anti-discrimination bill. I didn’t know Alexander personally, though I had heard of his work, but of course it is so painful every time I hear of another trans person lost to this hostile, dangerous world. I went to Samuel’s training on Friday, and he talked about Tyra Hunter who died because the paramedics who arrived at her car accident scene refused to treat her once they discovered that she was trans, and others. I’m not sure what to say about it—except that I know that right now humiliation, injury, poverty, incarceration, and death are the path that most trans people are forced down, and maybe part of doing this work is just living with that pain, being driven by it, and sharing it with others. I hope that Alexander’s family and friends are okay, although I’m not sure how any of us can be.


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09-23-02   dean: video again

Just wanted to point out an edit to the call for video submissions below (scroll down). I added a note about the fact that Tara and I are helping people who don't have access to video cameras and/or don't know how to use them find people in their regions who can help them film interviews. Please let us know if you need help. We don't want to miss any opportunities to hear people's stories.


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09-21-02   craig: bikes and bridges

I got fired from the labor law office I was working at when I refused to accept an illegal violation of our union contract, so I've been kind of off-line since July. But I started school this month so I've got lots of computers to play with again.

I wrote this thing about what I've taken to referrring to as a "weird night" I had recently. You can go read it now if you've got some time to spare.


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09-19-02   dean: forgive us

Craig and I, you know, we love making this website but we also love to throw the mail into a messy pile on the front table where we never ever notice that we've forgotten to re-register our domain name. so, sorry about the glitch in our matrix. we're back in full effect and we hopefully won't have this problem again until our registration runs out again in 3 years.

In other news, Craig and I are talking today at Ladyfest East. If you want to see us hand out zines and make inappropriate comments, come by 151 1st ave. at 9th and look for the "Trans Panel" (shockingly, we didn't come up with this genius title). You'll get a free zine out of it and you can tell me whether my outfit looks like Alex P. Keaton , which is what I was going for, or like a preppy fag from wonderbar, which is what my co-worker just told me.

Also, a few links. Amazing info about trans legal issues is available from the SF Transgender Law Project. Also, my new friend Samuel directed me to info about trans trainings for people in HIV/AIDS services at this website. There were other things but I can't remember them right now. More soon.


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09-11-02   dean: drug evictions

My co-worker, Corinne, a harm-reduction lawyer, wrote this news release in response to the latest Bush drug scandal.


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09-06-02   dean: bathrooms and conference

So yesterday I sent out an email to my whole agency about changing out bathrooms to provide all-gender or non-gendered options. I hope you'll read it and use it at your job or school or something if you want. So far we've gotten mostly good responses--some people concerned about women's safety, some concerned about urinals, but no big opposition yet. I'll keep you updated.

In other news, you should consider going to the Transcending Boundaries Conferenec. Its in Connecticut and its sliding scale and its in October.

Also, I recommend the website of Gender Education and Advocacy. They have good information about doing trainings and other stuff that you might want to share with co-workers, journalists, or activists you work with.


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09-04-02   dean: give it up

"BATHROOM STORIES": CALL FOR INTERVIEWS

ATTENTION gender variant, intersex, transgender, and transsexual people: Dean Spade of Sylvia Rivera Legal Resource Program and videomaker, Tara Mateik, are currently teaming up to produce a tape that explores the problems that gender segregated bathrooms present. The video includes stories of people who don1t fit easily into the categories "men" and "women" or whose gender identity is often misunderstood by other people in bathrooms. Many have encountered harassment, violence and embarrassment because others perceive them to be in the "wrong" bathroom. The consequences of being attacked and harassed in bathrooms, and of having no safe bathroom options in most public places are examined in this video. The video also looks at the question of why some people feel safer in single-gender bathrooms, and explores the underlying justifications for a "men1s-women1s" bathroom system. Finally, the Video looks at innovative solutions to these problems being pioneered in the U.S. and Canada and offers resources for working to change bathroom policies.

The video will be aimed at non-profits, service providers, and schools. It will act as a teaching tool to help these institutions understand the seriousness of the violence and humiliation that gender variant people regularly experience in gender segregated bathrooms. The goal of this project is to encourage organizations to change their bathroom policies to create safe environments for gender variant clients, students, patients, employees, and guests.

We need your help to gather interviews with people outside of NY. Interviews with transgender people, intersex people, non-trans-identified gender variant people, allies, friends, family, and other community members who have something to say about bathroom access for gender variant people are welcomed. We are very interested in getting perspectives from people in different age groups, gender identities, socio-economic classes, racial and ethnic identities, sizes, abilities, and backgrounds. If you do not have access to a video camera, please contact us and let us help you find someone in your region who has a camera.

WE REQUEST YOUR INTERVIEWS

€ USE THE QUESTIONS PROVIED BELOW

€ ARE NO MORE THAN 30 MINUTES MAXIMUM.

€ ARE SHOT ON DV (DIGITAL VIDEO)

€ USE AN EXTERNAL MICROPHONE

PLEASE HAVE INTERVIEWEES SIGN THE RELEASE FORM (attached) BEFORE THE INTERVIEW to insure that they are giving permission to appear in this video.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO USE HEADPHONES TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE RECORDING SOUND. SEND THE VIDEO TAPE, RELEASE FORM (PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS) TO Dean Spade, Sylvia Rivera Legal Resource Program, Urban Justice Center, 666 Broadway, 5th floor NY, NY 10012,(646) 602 5638, send it FED EX OR REGISTERED MAIL.

Send questions to LetUsPee@yahoo.com.

ALL INTERVIEWS MUST BE RECIEVED BY October 15, 2002.

The Sylvia Rivera Legal Resource Program will use this video in trainings and distribute this video free of charge and we will send you a copy for sending us footage.(Also, we welcome title suggestions for this video.)

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

In solidarity,

Tara Mateik, Dean Spade

The interview questions:

1. What is your name?

2. What is your occupation?

3. How old are you?

4. Where do you live?

5. What words do you use to describe your gender identity?

6. Do you feel safe using gender-labelled bathrooms?

7. Have you had one or more memorable negative experiences using or trying to use a men1s or women1s bathroom? Please explain.

8. Do you think that bathrooms should be gender segregated? Why?

9. Is there another way that bathrooms could be that you would prefer?

10. Do you have other thoughts on bathroom accessibility that you would liketo share?


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