The two most recent readings in class have been about a more radical form of trans* activism, that includes not only the plight of transgender individuals but anyone who doesn’t directly benefit or fit into the current system as it exists.

For my presentation I chose GATE or Global Actions for Trans* Equality. My reason for choosing GATE is not necessarily because I think it represents the all encompassing abolition movement discussed in Spade and Juang’s articles, but because it is the first tans* activism site to come up. I find this interesting because while GATE does operate on a grassroots level, work for the decriminalization of sex work, as well as feel excluded and unrepresented by the most prominent LGBT organizations their approach appears different. For example one of their goals include lobbying, which is much more trying to appeal to the system as it exists. GATE’s focus is predominately for trans* individuals and does not discuss the “subjection” of all individuals who do not fit the privileged white male identity.


– Believes that the respect and celebration of gender diversity is an integral part of a society that is based on the fulfilment of human rights.

– Aims to protect the Human Rights of trans* people worldwide.

– Works for the empowerment and self-determination of all trans* people and aims to increase the visibility and respect of all trans* people.

– Opposes the continued exotisation of trans* people and the persistent pathologisation of gender variance as a mental disorder.

– Works to combat the violence, discrimination and unequal treatment experienced by trans* people.

– Regional and international lobby on trans* issues

– Help build trans* movements and structures in all parts of the world

– Make critical knowledge and resources available to trans* activists”

GATE seems to have a heavy emphasis on the removal of trans* from the list of mental disorders. This was very interesting to me, because while we have touched on it it has not been a major discussion in the class as far as the necessity to remove trans* identification from the list. GATE argues that:

Trans* pathologization affects different communities in different ways, but its effects are always devastating. The diagnostic classification of trans* people as mentally disordered is, even today, a legal requirement in many countries to grant legal recognition of a gender identity when it varies from the sex assigned at birth. In many countries, the same classification is required in order to control trans* people’s access to gender affirming procedures (such as surgery and hormones) and to ensure, where possible, their coverage. Moreover, those diagnoses that pathologize us have been, and are still used, to promote and justify human rights violations, including forced institutionalization and treatment without consent (such as conversion therapies). The current identification of trans* existence as pathological affects negatively the realization of our right to health in different ways: in order to avoid the harm caused by pathologization many trans * people prefer to avoid accessing all forms of health care; additionally, trans* people’s real health needs are diminished or ignored in the context of a biomedical system obsessed with diagnosing, treating and “curing” our gender identity and expression. This dynamic is particularly damaging, for example, at the intersection of trans* pathologization and the HIV response.”

  GATE’s argument in this regard seems very relevant to many of the concerns discussed in our class thus far, especially the process that many trans* individuals must undergo in order to receive access to gender affirming procedures.In the beginning of Juang’s article he discusses the definition and desire to achieve justice within a liberal democracy, an idea we are somewhat sold as citizens. GATE has a similar desire for trans* individuals to be represented, and seems to operate as an organization to aid small grassroots communities in their goals by giving access to information and finding funding. To quote a press release by GATE:

“All around the world, trans* and intersex people face fierce discrimination, ceaseless violence and incalculable ridicule because of who we are. We also face barriers in pursuing education, obtaining health care and receiving fair treatment by police and other authorities,” said Justus Eisfeld, co-director of GATE. “While a small number of foundations and donors understand that trans* and intersex communities need support as we advocate for justice, most do not. We urge other donors to take up this opportunity to advance human rights and fund our movements.”  

Their reflection on the needs to remove the barriers that deny trans* individuals education, health care, and equal protection from police and authorities are relevant to Juang’s discussion of individuals such as S. and Tyra, both who were denied these privileges associated with citizenship. With further reading I discovered Susan Stryker to be on the international advisory board, who I believe we have all come to accept as a reliable source. At the same time I cannot help but think critically of the multicultural/global approach of activism, as discussed in Juang’s article, how can trans* rights be synonymous worldwide if the definition of trans* isn’t necessarily translatable itself? GATE does have representatives and advisors worldwide, so perhaps these differences are discussed and understood. I find the activism work of Spade to be a more revolutionary plight, as it focuses on all systems of oppression, and all individuals involved, and works at a local level trying to bring justice and alter systems as they exist here in America. At the same time the work of GATE to recognize the exclusion of trans* individuals from existing systems, and the dangers of labeling transgender as a mental disorder are relevant and important steps in the world of trans* activism as we have discussed and identified in the classroom, and unlike hate crime legislation, G.A.T.E focuses on raising the state of living for trans* people instead of being transfixed on their death.

Currently GATE is trying to advocate for the rights of Monica Jones, who was wrongfully accused of sex work and arrested and harassed by police.  ” Action is planned to show we won’t  tolerate systematic profiling and criminalization of transgender people of color and sex workers” To quote Monica:

Ms. Jones states, “I believe I was profiled as a sex worker because I am a transgender woman of color, and an activist. I am a student at ASU, and fear that these wrongful charges will affect my educational path. I am also afraid that if am sentenced, I will be placed in a men’s jail as a transgender woman, which would be very unsafe for me. Prison is an unsafe place for everyone, and especially trans people.

This is very relative to our discussions and readings that reference the systematic violence and exclusion that exists in the current situation. The intersectionality of race and gender is apparent in the situation of Ms.Jones as she is being persecuted for both. Thus I think it is more effective to rally for the complete reconstruction of systems as they currently exist to be inclusive of the issues that challenge every group not included in the idnetity the current systems where intended for.

Link to GATE :



Social Construct

  By dictionary definition a social construct is a “ social mechanism, phenomenon, or category created and developed by society; a perception of an individual, group, or idea that is ‘constructed’ through cultural or social practice”. In regards to trans studies, the notion of the social construct is extremely important in multiple ways. The most evident social construct in relation to trans studies is the construction of the “gender binary”, that there are two possible options in gender; either male, or female. In An Introduction To Transgender by Susan Stryker she discusses the Western perception and issue with gender, “ No one is born a woman or a man… “one becomes one” through a complex process of socialization. Gender is a social organization of different kinds of bodies into different categories of people”. She then goes on to say, “ The important things to ear in mind are that gender is historical (it changes through time), that it varies from place to place and culture to culture, and that it is contingent”. Understanding the existence of a Western social construction and understanding of gender is extremely important to trans studies in that by recognizing it, the existence of trans can be understood in a different way and not as a “sexual deviancy” as it has often been constructed to represent. By recognizing that the gender binary system is a construction it can be deconstructed and the many other forms of gender can be recognized as well as explored. In the Western perspective of gender, the social category assigned to an individual is determined by the sex of the body. (Stryker 11). Deconstructing this relationship is, according to Stryker, “ the central issue of transgender politics”.  She goes on to say, “ Breaking apart the forced unity of sex and gender, while increasing the scope of livable lives, is an important goal of transgender feminism and social justice activism”. 

While the gender binary is a prominent social construction connected to Trans studies, it is, obviously, not the only one. Another very important social constructions to recognize is the understanding of the one that exists within the Western LGBTQ community. Thus far in the class it has become increasingly evident that it is important for one to recognize the Western lens they apply to their understanding of gender. This is evident in many of the readings we have been presented with in class. Transgender is an umbrella term that “varies as much as gender itself…and depends on historical and cultural context.” And varies even in the Western understanding and definition.(Stryker 1, 19).  In the reading Bakla and Gay by Martin F. Manalansan, this is the focus of the paper. Manalansan presents the idea that “ the border between bakla and gay…(are) permeable boundaries of two coexisting and yet oftentimes incommensurable cultural ideologies of gender and sexuality.” He goes on to compare the defining moments situations that lead to identities of gay verses bakla. Including the importance of the moment of coming out as it compares to the process of unfurling the cape. In the process of coming out in the American society the “ sense of self is predicated on the issues of individuation, sepreation, leaving home.” And is very much “ about verbal narratives and confrontations with friends, families, and significant others” (Manalansan 22, 23). This is compared to the Bakla process of unfurling the cape, which is much the opposite in that there is no confrontation or open conversation, but instead family members “just know” and leave it at that (Manalansan 24).  This creates a different opinion on public visibility and pride between American gays and Filipino bakla immigrants. In the paper Filipino Ron speaks about attending pride saying, “Oh please, why would I do that? Besides, why do people do it? what do they (gay men) have to prove?” (Manalansan 31). This paper really enforces the knowledge that different cultural experiences create differing attitudes in terms of gender identification. The importance of recognizing this is present in the end the text Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran by Afsaneh Najmabadi where she says it quite eloquently, “Perhaps one of the problems with the current heated debates between proponents of “global gay” and opponents of “gay international” resides in the presumption…that “I am gay,” or “I am transexual” means the same thing anywhere it is pronounced. ” By recognizing and being aware that global definitions and understanding of gender, even out of the gender binary are constructed, individuals in Trans studies can do their part to not assign identities to individuals where they do not belong. 

Discussion Questions Bakla and Gay

Q1:Do you feel attitude and expectations Filipino culture has for female gender roles have affected the expectations held for, and opinions of Bakla culture? Do you think that this is why Perez calls to baklas to “recognize they were born biologically male and to stop feminizing his features/behaviors.”

Q2:  The bakla is expected to “like a woman, he must suffer, but unlike a woman he must pay.” Has anyone experienced /or heard of this double standard in the American transgender world of being expected to pay the price of both roles?

Q2: How does the “process of unfurling the cape” compare to coming out. What are the benefits and cons of each of the processes. Which do you think is a more productive process in the long run. Can they even be compared?

Introduction- Salina Shelton

My name is Salina. I am a transfer student so this is my first year at SF state, though I grew up about an hour north in Santa Rosa so I am slightly familiar with the city. I went to Humboldt state for two years then the JC in Santa Rosa and now I am here. So for that reason I am currently a junior with much confusion about when I actually get to graduate. I am a Fine Arts Major. I am very excited for this class. Already in the two classes we’ve had I’ve found it incredibly interesting, informative, and engaging. I love the interest and encouragement of dialogue. Looking forward to hearing everyones opinions and information as well as getting to know ya’ll!