Say Her Name: Ma’Khia Bryant

The details are sketchy at this point and a number of important things, including how to spell her name and even her age are being reported differently in different places, but from the best information I have right now (which could easily change later):

A foster child, 15 years old, whose name was Ma’Khia Bryant, was being bullied and attacked by other foster kids, probably other girls. She called police for protection. At some point before police arrived (possibly even before she called them?) she acquired a knife to use in self-defense. When the police arrived there was some sort of altercation between Ma’Khia and at least one other girl. At this point she may or may not have been still holding the knife. It’s even possible that someone else had taken the knife from her, but I don’t consider that likely.

Police seeing a physical altercation with a knife involved shot to kill Ma’Khia, the girl who called desperate for protection. She is dead.

I don’t give a god damn if Ma’Khia had the knife in her hand and was swinging it: she was in state custody (unless this detail is also wrong, I fucking hate how different stories are saying different things, but none seemed to say that she **wasn’t** in state custody, it’s just that some stories don’t mention foster care at all), and the state owed her better. Even if there was an immediate necessity to protect the other child because Ma’Khia was swinging the knife, that only backs up responsibility from the cops to the foster system that shouldn’t have put her in that situation to begin with.

To make matters worse, the Mayor of Columbus, Ohio where Ma’Khia was killed called her a “young woman” who “lost her life”, probably between the couch cushions.

Ma’Khia was not a young woman. She was a child, a girl. It’s bad enough that the mayor would say such a thing, but it is much worse than that in that there is a long trend of Black children being treated as adults to maximize the blame that can be placed upon them while white young adults are called “children” or “teenagers” to minimize the blame that can be placed on them. Kyle Rittenhouse is a perfect example of the latter.

I’ll keep watching things, but FUCK THIS SHIT. I’m so sick and tired police violence. I’m so sick and tired of the government killing the people it has a duty to protect.

Transsexual, Transgender, Trans… and that damn asterisk

I’ve been asked again about why I sometimes use an asterisk after the word “trans” when describing the broader transsexual and transgender community (which, tbh, aren’t even thought of that anymore so much as just “the trans community”). Me being me, I didn’t just throw up a link, but I attempted to write again what it has meant in my life. I like this version, so I’m copying it from where it was originally written over to here. This way, hopefully, this bit of community and individual history is less likely to get lost, and maybe next time I can simply offer someone a simple link instead of spending 3 hours collecting my thoughts on the topic again.

[Read more…]

In which I am a sportsball fanatic

I am not a big time sportsball fan. But also, I am not a sportsball boycotter. My oldest friend grew up in northern Connecticut and was a diehard Patriots fan. The Patriots, if you are  not aware, play the NFL handegg game which results in so many concussions and other injuries to its players. They also sucked rocks for the entire time my friend was growing up. Their one shining moment from my friend’s earlier years was getting to the Superb Owl only to be destroyed in one of the most lopsided NFL championship games ever, or so I’m told. So of course he reveled in the last 2 decades when Tom Brady played for the Patriots & won them several Owls.

[Read more…]

What Cissplaining Isn’t

I had a professor (not an adjunct, full Phd) who was a great anthropologist, feminist & activist. I’m not pretending to know a tenth of what she knows about anthropology, but the course was on gendered violence – a topic I do know a lot about – and she had obviously thrown in some stuff about violence against trans people without bothering to read or understand it. I would guess that she got some feedback about needing to included in a course about “gendered violence” but just wasn’t interested in studying trans people (fair, everyone has their own speciality and interests).

I don’t mind that she didn’t know anything about trans experiences of domestic or sexual violence, but when she got to the one week of the course where we were talking LGBTQI she said some things that were **obviously** wrong. Badly wrong. I was wondering where she got her info …

… then she cited me.

[Read more…]

Anti-Heresy Laws Still Suck

While there’s a lot to be getting on with this week in the USA (and, heck, around the world, what with the novel coronavirus & all), it’s interesting to note that some of the old authoritarian tactics condemned many times here on FtB still have not gone away. This time I want to mention Poland, where queer women publicly displayed (and probably created, though that’s something I’m not sure on) an altered version of a famous painting: the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.

Black Madonna of Czestochowa, an iconic painting of the Virgin Mary with great historical and cultural significance in Poland.

[Read more…]

Anti-Trans Activism is Anti-Feminst and Anti-Woman

So let’s start with saying straight up that I know nothing about Ireland. Never lived there, never visited there, and I’m pretty much less confident in my knowledge of what constitutes Irish experience than I am that Ireland’s plants are purple. But what happened in Ireland during the RepealThe8th movement to overturn Ireland’s lethal ban on abortion is important for everyone to know. So I’m gonna reprint the shit outta the words of someone who does know something about all this, The Slothmare Before Christmas, AKA @CaseyExplosion on Twitter.

[Read more…]

Rewatching Juno: Page’s Story Is One of the Most Important of 2020

As soon as I can find time today or tomorrow, I’ll be rewatching Juno & posting some more thoughts on the Elliot Page news from yesterday. But why am I rewatching Juno at all? Well the answer bears on another question raised in the comments to yesterday’s post by sonofrojblake:

He was in Inception and X-men. It baffles me a bit why this story leaves those off the headline almost everywhere I’ve seen it.

The Umbrella Academy reference is understandable as it is Page’s most recent (and still Netflix-current) work. But why Juno, instead of a much more well known film (or at least one higher-grossing)?

The answer, I believe, can be found in the fact that is that it is the best and best-known pro-choice film for at least a generation. Over the last decade trans persons’ struggle against invisibility and for access to services has gained the attention of abortion providers and others responsible for family planning & reproductive health services as well as organizations that advocate for reproductive rights. This attention is not insignificant. In 2018 during the campaign to repeal Ireland’s constitutional Amendment 8 which banned nearly all abortion in the country, one excuse for some feminists to oppose the movement fighting for the repeal of A8  was that the movement was too supportive of trans persons and the ballot language was written in a way that included trans persons. Fascist fuckfaces argued with apparent seriousness that granting equal abortion rights to trans persons with vaginas and uteruses who might get pregnant would be to permit the proverbial and unacceptable camel’s toe into the tent.

Despite well-publicized pregnancies of a few trans men, and the obvious biological fact that merely coming out as non-binary or trans masculine does not give a body the means to automatically shut that whole thing down, there are people who struggle with the idea that we might want reproductive rights for everyone, even when inconvenient for pithy rhetoric. These people aren’t necessary bad people because they haven’t necessarily consciously thought through what it means to privilege rhetoric over human lives, nor have they necessarily thought about trans people enough to even realize that this is what they’re doing. But when the lead actor in such a tremendously important movie exploring the complicated nature of, the interpersonal and social limitations on, and vital importance of reproductive self-determination comes out as something other than a woman it becomes impossible for honest persons to see Juno as applicable only to women.

Juno will not lose its resonance for cis women. Juno will not become unimportant to cis feminists or cis reproductive rights advocates. It can be and is still a powerful movie addressing issues with which many (if not most) cis women who have sex (or experience sexual assaults) involving sperm will struggle. A cis women doesn’t even need to become pregnant to experience these issues. She need only believe that she is pregnant or has a high chance of being pregnant. A late period, a false test, a test that appears false because of a spontaneous abortion which will never be known, any of those things can be enough.

But without changing anything in the movie itself, trans and non-binary persons capable of getting pregnant (or who believe they are capable of getting pregnant – infertility isn’t announced at birth) can now point to the movie Juno and say, “These are our issues too,” with new credibility. With a credibility, frankly, that can’t be denied by any honest person.

I’m happy for Page, really I am. But I didn’t write about Page’s coming out because this is some random celebrity who happens to share some experiences in common with me.

I wrote about, and will continue to write about, Elliot Page’s experience of trans life because the importance of a specific piece of Page’s work to feminism is now presenting a moment of choice to every feminist who has found Juno valuable in the past. Umbrella Academy can help identify who Page is to those who aren’t automatically familiar, but this isn’t a moment about an actor, and that’s why Inception and X-Men: Last Stand are irrelevant to the story.

This is a moment when feminists have the opportunity to become transfeminists, when feminists can decide again whether they seek reproductive privileges for some or reproductive rights for all.

It presents a moment when feminists may ask each other, “If we fight for abortion access only for those whose gender is acceptable, what, in the end, do we stand to win?”

That question is truly dangerous for those who believe that feminism is compatible with demanding conformance to a broader stereotype, or one’s choice of a few new stereotypes. Elliot Page’s announcement has the power to force a fundamental moment of dawning awareness, a moment in which one can hear one’s own brain sound a feminist :click:, a moment in which those of us feminists who reluctantly support (or fight against) trans inclusion finally understand that to do so means that they have, all unknowing, continued to believe that some stereotypes are acceptable, and that all rights are ultimately conditional on good gender.

What will we, as feminists, choose next when we hear that click?

That feminists now face such decisions is the real news, the important news, in Page’s Instagram announcement. And after 25 years of fighting for feminism-informed trans-advocacy and trans advocacy-informed feminism, I can’t tell you how exciting this moment has become.

Let’s see some change.