Discussion Questions for Bassichis, Lee, and Spade, “Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement With Everything We’ve Got”

1. How do Bassichis, Lee, and Spade describe the “dramatic shift in priorities” within the LGBT movement- between the “official” gay rights agenda and the radical queer/trans transformative organizing- and how does it relate to their critique of marriage equality rights as a way to address inequalities?


2. What are some of the radical lineages, movements which challenge the United States exploitation of marginalized communities, that have “nurtured and guided” transformative branches of queer and trans organizing towards the liberation of intersectional identities?


3. What’s the difference bettween “trickle-down” equality politics and radical “justice” politics, and what is the argument for “trickle up” social change as a transfomative solution??


Such a good article!


Shameless! QTPOC creative resistance


If  you are at all familiar with events in Oakland, you might be aware of the monthly, First-Friday event (often called Art Murmur), where a portion Telegraph Ave is closed off and made public to support local artists and vendors. First Fridays bring in masses of people from all over the bay to enjoy what Oakland has to offer including bars, restaurants, car shows, and other creative demonstrations. However, what you might not know is that First Friday events can often be a place of hostility and danger for queer and trans* folks, especially of color. Such violence, and policing against queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color (POC) are carried out by First Friday visitors, as well as an increased policing by law enforcement. This contributes to an unsafe environment, which is detrimental to the well-being QTPOC community. In resistance to systems of oppression through white supremacy, which have allowed for a homophobic/transphobic, racist toxic environment surrounding the events in downtown Oakland, queer and trans* folks of color have organized spaces which affirm and support their identities and communities.

Due to community organizing, and in resistance to such hostility against the QTPOC community present in First Friday events, a monthly event has been created called Shameless: An Alternative Queercentric (QTPOC-only) First Friday event in an effort to cultivate healing and nurturing creative safe spaces exclusively for the QTPOC community. Shameless has been made possible by local queer and trans of color folks- many of whom might be considered radical revolutionaries- whose efforts involve providing a space for community building and support in combatting intersectional oppressions impacting queer, trans* and gender-non conforming communities of color. Shameless is also a space to support local QTPOC artists, performers, and vendors who face systematic challenges due to their marginal status.

By looking at Shameless’ mission and goal, we make connections to some of the course themes of this week including issues of anti-violence, organizing around trans and trans of color issues, intersectionality (identity factors of race, gender, class, etc.), systematic oppression, and even critique to biopolitics and necropolitics (as conveyed in the Snorton and Haritaworn article). Shameless promotes itself as a space to enjoy first Friday without capitalized and policed detriments against their community. Shameless was created as a means of “interrupting the dominant paradigm of white supremacy and embodying racial justice” and while it is open to all who self-identify as a member of the QTPOC community, individuals who identify as white are asked to support the space as an ally, by refraining from attending in order to keep the space safe and non-triggering for those who have been impacted by the trauma of white supremacy and domination. Dedicating the event as QTPOC-only, Shameless is meant to be a healing space. Shameless means to respect all QTPOC bodies including those with visible and invisible disabilities.

Shameless acts as a counterexample to the kinds of organizing that say, Snorton and Haritaworn describe in “Trans Necropolitics: A Transnational Reflection on Violenece, Death, and the Trans of Color Afterlife” in that it is a celebration in the survival of Queer and Trans of color life and well-being. Shameless, in itself, challenges a lot of issues around organizing for trans people of color against victimization, anti-transphobia and anti-violence. It pushes back against the traditional, “transnormative, protectionist victim” and the memoralizing of the death of trans people of color as  central to the transgender movement, which produces problematic narratives of deracialized trans bodies (Snorton and Haritaworn 66-67, 72). Shameless is a space which affirms intersectional identity.  Shameless is perhaps an example of the alternative of what Snorton and Haritaworn offer as a way “..visibility, legibility, and intelligibility structure a grid of imposed value on the lives and deaths of [queer and trans people of color],” (Snorton and Haritaworn 68). Snorton and Haritaworn ask an important question of who benefits for the dominant methodologies of violence and anti-violence, stating, instead of the most in need of survival, the circulation of trans people of color in their afterlife accrues value to a newly professionalized and institutionalizing class of experts whose lives could not be further removed from those they are professing to help,” (Snorton and Haritaworn 74). This in a way speaks to the importance of QTPOC-only space as an alternative praxis and problematizes or critiques the notion of allyship in these spaces.

Shameless Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/438388249612022/

Shameless Tumblr: http://oaklandshameless.tumblr.com/image/75821703357

Transgender Spectrum

Transgender as an identity and an experience comes with many assumptions and interpretations- often informed by Western dominant ideas of a gender binary system. However, transgender spectrum implies that there are many ways of living a gender-variant, sometimes gender non-conforming lived-experience. For Valentine in “I Know What I Am: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity,” to understand transgender as a spectrum is to acknowledge the instabilities of transgender as a category, which applies to individual lives…” (Valentine 2007: 108). The transgender spectrum highlights various embodiments of gender  as a site of “radical gender possibilities” (Valentine 2007: 106). Women and Gender Studies professors, Susan Stryker and Aren Aizura, theorize on this concept in the Transgender Studies Reader 2- although she might not name it as such specifically. She discusses the essence of transgender as a spectrum and acknowledges that “‘transgender’ can often evoke- modernity, metropolitanism, Eurocentrism, whiteness, globalization, [and] transnationalism,” while also recognizing that “it would “explore the multiple reworkings of identity,” (Stryker 2013: 9). Stryker and Aizura capture the nature of transgender spectrum- as ” a way of resisting local pressures, as an empowering new frame of reference, as an erasure of cultural specificity, as a counter-modernity, as an alternative tradition, or as a mode of survival and translation for tradition cultural forms that are unintelligible within the conceptual double binary of man/woman and homo/hetero associated with the modern west,” (2013: 9-10). Transgender as a spectrum accounts for an experience that is heavily impacted by other factors of intersectionality, including race, gender, class, nation, age, religion, etc. Thus, transgender means different things, in different places, and to different people. This implies that transgender as an organizing identity as well as a community is dependent on location or geography and cultural experience. Transgender spectrum can also be represented by trans*- which acknowledges the various ways that the identity can exist- in that it is intersectional and not monolithic. The significance of thinking about transgender as a spectrum of identities suggests that we must be cautious not to make generalizations of the transgender as an identity category. Transgender spectrum can also challenge categorization, as it prioritizes the agency of self-identification and accounts for difference as well as a multititude of perspectives. For example, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professor of History as well as Women an Gender studies discusses a very different kind of transgender identiy within the article, ““Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran. Najmabadi spends a lot of time discussing the legality and legibility of transgender identities in Iran, especially in regards to gender confirmation surgeries. In this narrative, we see a kind of idea in which transgender identity can be permissable in Iran because transgender identity, unlike homosexual identity, is not forbidden by the Quran. This shows the fluidity in transgender identity, as individuals transition- sometimes with the purpose of finding a legal way to meet their sexual desires, and as a way of participating in a loop hole within their system. This exemplifies a very different perspective, non-Westen in what it means to be a transgender individual in Iran, thus captivated within the transgender spectrum.

Melody Jackson: Introduction


My name is Melody and I’ll be graduating this semester! I’m studying sociology and my minor is LGBT studies (although, it was called Queer studies). Academically, I’m particularly interested in the intersections of critical race theory and queer/feminist theory as well as social movements. I’m also interested in representations of race and sexuality in the media (i.e. film, music, and social media). As part of my minor, I’ve taken quite a few queer centered courses, but I’m interested in this class because of its focus on transgender communities and identities.  Where as, in other class,  I feel that transgender experiences are generally clumped into queer studies. In this class, I hope to explore this subject thoroughly and gain a deeper insight and understanding of trans* theories and experiences.