Femme Resources

320 Sunny (6595) Small Edited Version

It took me a long time to understand myself as femme because I’m a man, and to understand myself as a man, because of my femininity. Misogyny, being the fear or hatred of women or femininity, can manifest in many different ways. I can perpetuate sexism myself, and also I am the recipient of misogyny because I’m effeminate. I’m so grateful for fabulous femmes and women and their powerful resistance to misogyny and sexism. I hope to keep learning how to unpack sexism in my own behaviour and learning how to be ally to women and other femme folks, as well as increasingly unleash my effeminate fabulousness. Here are some great reads as well as some useful ally stuff.

I’ll add new things as I come across them – my website (Sunny Drake www.sunnydrake.com ) will the most up-to-date place.

ONLINE ARTICLES & VIDEOS

 – Femme Invisibility: On Passing Right by Your People and Not Being Recognized

It’s so important to unlearn misogyny/ sexism in queer communities.

–  4 ways to support queer femmes

Good article on how to be an ally and challenge misogyny/ sexism, or at least how not to be an asshole.

 – Powerful Photos Fearlessly Redefine What It Means to Be LGBTQIA+

I love these images showing how wide ranging queer identities are.

Femme Lesbian invisibility Video

BLOGS & BOOKS

– Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity, edited by Chloe (with 2 dots above the e) Brushwood Rose and Anna Camilleri

– Piece of my Heart, anthologized by Makeda Silvera

– Dirty River by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

– Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities by Ulrika Dahl

– Femme: feminist lesbians & bad girls by Laura Harris & Elizabeth Crocker

– The Persistence of Desire by Joan Nestle

– Persistence edited by Zena Sharman & Ivan E. Coyote

– Heels on Wheels Roadshow http://www.heelsonwheelsroadshow.com/

MY BLOG ARTICLES:

I’ve also authored some relevant blog articles:

Femme Ally Conversation Starter

This is a conversation starter (continuer?) on how to be ally and challenge misogyny/ sexism, aimed primarily at trans-masculine, trans-male and masculine of centre peoples. It is equally application to other cis men unpacking misogyny/ sexism and working on ally skills.

And So Shall Our Heels Till the Earth

My Boyfriend is a Lady

About my experiences a queer effeminate man who is partnered to a woman and how people are constantly confused about my sexuality because of my effeminacy

the Boy T*t Finale Summer Collection

A series of photos celebrating my beautiful chest before I had top surgery through adorning it with fabulous outfits.

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Photo by Tania Anderson

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Sexual Assault Resources

Sexual assault is a very real issue in our communities. Dominant narratives are that strangers are mostly responsible, but many of us also experience sexual assault, violence and other abusive acts from lovers, partners and family. The times I’ve been sexually assaulted, I felt like I was responsible for what happened to me and felt so much shame that I found it difficult to talk with people. It’s had a huge effect on my health, sex and life. I wished I’d at least had some things to read. So, here are links to resources I’ve found useful particularly for femme, queer and trans survivors (and ally articles too). Please take care of yourself when reading.

I’ve also included some ally resources for working with those who have abused others. I believe our communities need to work together to deal with each other in responsible ways to unlearn abusive patterns, rather than isolating and shaming people, whilst centering both survivors and the overall well-being of our communities.

I’ll add new things as I come across them –my website (Sunny Drake www.sunnydrake.com ) will the most up-to-date place for resources, as well as other resources such as trans, femme, sexuality, queer stuff, anti-racism etc.

ONLINE RESOURCES

– 4 Ways to Overcome Self-Blame After Sexual Assault

Yup this is real. Many of us know on an intellectual level that we are not responsible for the acts of violence we receive, but how do we actually get ourselves to really shift that toxic self-blame and insidious internal dialogue? Some useful suggestions in this article. Authored by Sian Ferguson.

 – 11 Truths Every Survivor of Intimate Partner Violence Needs to Know

This link covers a lot of myths about violence and acts of abuse and how equally valid different survivor responses can be. This is essential in learning how to be a responsible ally too. Authored by Kai Cheng Thom, who’s writing I love.

– 6 Ways to Confront Your Friend Who’s Abusing their Partner

Good ally article, authored by the fabulous Kai Cheng Thom.

– 5 Common Ways Our Communities Fail to Address Intimate Partner Violence

Remembering that we all are collectively responsible for creating change and have the power to transform cultures of violence. Also authored by Kai Cheng Thom.

– Gaslighting

A useful resource on gaslighting –when someone acts to manipulate another into questioning their own sanity. It can be used to make people who are experiencing abuse doubt their own experiences and often end up feeling responsible and blaming themselves or even thinking they are the ones being abusive. Good ally article as well in terms of skilling up on gaslighting. Authored by Shea Emma Fett.

– 6 Ways to Have a Healthy and Enjoyable Sex Life After Surviving Sexual Trauma

The article also acknowledges the different ways that we can reclaim our sexuality. Particularly helpful for was the section on how we might act when we are triggered during sex – it doesn’t always look like disassociation or curling up in a ball. Sometimes I’ve struggled to understand when I’m triggered during sex  because a big part of my coping with sexual assault has been to minimise my own experiences and try to pretend to myself (and others) that nothing was wrong. Knowing when I am triggered can help me take power back to be able to be responsible for creating my own healthy sexuality. There are so many ways we can reclaim sexuality and have awesome sex lives.

– Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug Anyone (Yes, Including a Relative) – Here Are 7 Reasons Why

– Love letters for survivors

This was just what I needed to hear. Authored by many different survivors

Consent skills video

– Campaign resources

* Consent campaign images

* Poster series – no-one is entitled to your body

* Barriers to reporting acts of sexual assault

* Article about campus sexual assault – mainly I like the “40 powerful images of survivors” at the bottom of link.

BOOKS & BLOGS

The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence In Activist Communities, Both a book and a blog, authored by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Everyday Feminism has lots of great articles on a wide range or relevant topics authored by fabulous people.

MY BLOG ARTICLES:

Here’s some relevant blog articles authored by me:

– Femme Ally Conversation Starter

Whilst this is not primarily about sexual assault, I include this link because of the disproportionate amount of abuse and other shitty behaviour and acts of abuse that femme folks receive.

2 articles about drinking/sobriety – which are relevant given that alcohol (and other substances) can often be involved in acts of unconsensual sex, and abusive behaviour

Wet >< Dry

The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

– When a Man & a Woman Love Each Other Very Much

Looks at teenage sex and sexuality and how we don’t prepare young people for either staying safe or actually having fun. Many educational programs have finally started acknowledging that teenagers have sex, but an exclusive focus on STIs and birth control doesn’t prepare young people to enjoy their sexy times, have consensual sex and prevent sexual assault.

If you have any other resource suggestions, particularly ones that are femme, queer, sexuality and trans positive, please email me (Sunny Drake) at sunny@sunnydrake.com

 

http://www.sunnydrake.com/#!__sexual-assault

http://sunnydrake.tumblr.com/tagged/sexual-assault

https://sunnydrake.wordpress.com/resources-links/sexual-assault/

sunny drake, trans, transgender, trans, transgender artist, trans artist, queer artist, trans performer, queer performer, transgender performer, trans writer, transgender writer, queer writer, transgender theatre, trans theatre, queer theater, theater, LGBT education, trans education, queer politics, trans politics, transgender politics, LGBT politics, toronto, canada, australia, tumblr, anti-racism, femme ally conversation, femme ally conversation starter, dude, sobriety, hand puppet, acts, contact, articles, authored, committed, responsible, feedback, reputation, sunny drake, sexual, sexuality, sexual assault, sexual violence, femme, sex, assault, healing, violence, survivor, trauma, ally, femme ally, sexism, misogyny, misog

Honouring the Living and Telling History like it is

Image On this day, Trans Day of Remembrance, I’m sending love to the families & friends of those trans* people, mostly trans women of colour and two spirit people, who have been murdered in the last year. At the advice of a dreamboat panel on Monday night with Monica Forrester, Reina Gosset and Janet Mock, just as importantly, I’m also celebrating and sending deep appreciation and love to the incredible trans women & two spirit people who are alive, surviving, transforming our communities and at the forefront of so many important political movements. Let’s not wait until our sisters pass or face serious violence to honour them. And let’s map out and celebrate the pivotal role trans women and two spirit people have and continue to have in our movements.

If you’d like to participate, please write a short shout out celebrating a trans woman of colour or two spirit person, who is alive, and post it to your facebook wall, twitter etc. Just make sure you know that they are publicly out as trans*!

Today, I’m giving a shout out to Monica Forrester for her tireless work with her community (check out her film “Remember the Living”). To Kiley May for being all round fabulous and making beautiful art. To Micha Cárdenas for the ways she expands my sense of what is possible. And to Miss Major for her fierce life-long activism.

It’s particularly important to honour and give credit to the people who have been historically and are currently at the forefront of our political movements, because of the ways trans women of colour and two spirit people have been written out of history. Their revolutionary organising has been the kickstart (and sustenance) of so many of our movements. Take Stonewall for example, widely cited as the “start” of the modern gay rights movement, although there were actually a lot of amazing things before that too, like the Compton’s Cafeteria riots. Let’s remember who was actually there, instigating this important movement: trans women, sex workers, street based folks – all people who don’t get credit for their revolutionary organising.

And yet so many white non-trans gay men and white trans men have now ended up with the resources, being publicly celebrated and in positions of power within our movements. Make no mistake – this was not accidental. It wasn’t an oversight. White gay men threw trans women under the bus, to present an image that would appeal to the mainstream in an attempt to win some concessions like gay marriage, the right to fight in armies, and anti-discrimination legislation for privileged gay people. “Look, we’re Tom and Bob, two white bankers in a monogamous relationship. We’re just like you!” And through other systemic power and privileges, white gay men and trans men had and continue to have access to so many more resources to put forth campaigns focused on their (my) needs, sidelining the important and revolutionary perspectives and priorities of trans women and two spirit people.

As discussed by Miss Major and other trans women activists, another way trans women got thrown under the bus has been the failure of LGBTQ movements to be able to organise with people who use substances. Some of the very women to whom we owe our ability to be out and proud as trans*, were in fact banned from LGBT spaces in their lifetimes. Syvlia Rivera was banned from an LGBT Centre in New York for her drinking and Marsha P Johnson for her drug use. We need to get waaaaaay better at organising spaces that can accommodate and centre the needs of both those who are sober (in recovery from drinking/ drug use) AND those who are still using/drinking. Similarly, the sex work-phobia that is rife among many trans and queer communities, pushes many of our fiercest, smartest activists to the margins.

In this context, it is a powerful act of resistance to trans-misogyny every time we tell history like it really was, and honour and resource those who are still doing some of the most revolutionary grassroots work.

On that note, let’s put our collective care and money behind honouring one of our Elders, Miss Major. Miss Major has paved the way for so many trans* people to be able to live with dignity and community. She was on the front line of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. A former sex worker and formerly incarcerated, she is a mother, a grandmother and since 2006 has been the Executive Director of the San Francisco based Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP). I’m inviting you to join together with me to become a monthly sustainer – donating an amount every month to support this fierce activist to get the housing, food and medical care she needs. Click on the link here to show your monthly love for a revolutionary Elder.

Some other popular blog articles:

Racism is to White People, as Wind is to the Sky

Femme Ally Conversation Starter

Boy Tits in the Locker-room

the Boy Tit Finale Summer Collection

2 articles on sobriety: Wet >< Dry and The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

Like Sunny Drake on facebook, follow on Twitter or instagram, connect on Linkedin

Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website

Boy Tits in the Locker Room

Image

I’ve recently started taking my shirt and binder/sports bra off in the men’s locker room. It didn’t begin from a desire to flash my boy tits around, rather that I was fed up with the incredibly awkward configurations I used to twist my clothes in to hide these bouncy little babies. Moreover, I was incredibly bored by transphobia and cis-sexism*.

I’ve also been thinking about appropriation of struggles – the ways that I have over-identified with and co-opted the struggles of trans people who are more marginalised than myself. There’s been lots of trans women who have written and spoken about the appropriation of the struggles of trans women of colour. They remind us that the vast bulk of violence faced by trans people is in fact faced by trans women, particularly those who are racialised, sex workers, poor and/or Indigenous. When I listen to my trans Elders, the people whom I owe my life to (literally – I couldn’t exist as trans without their AMAZING work in carving out space for us to be trans), it’s easy to assume that my experience with be the same as theirs. The reality is, it’s not. Firstly, things are already different. Their hard work has already transformed some things about the communities I live in (THANKYOU! I LOVE YOU! YOU’RE THE BEST!). Secondly, the very people who have been at the centre of the movements which I benefit from, also face trans-misogyny (the many ways transphobia and sexism are directed specifically toward trans women), racism, poverty, disable-ism etc.  As a white, mostly-able-bodied, trans man who passes** as cisgendered, I don’t face these things.

So I’ve started unpacking the difference between when I’m actually unsafe verses when I’m really just uncomfortable. The locker room I’ve been flashing my boy tits around has a trans inclusion policy. It says right there on the wall that the space welcomes trans people in either of the locker rooms. Not that policies always translate into action, but the fact that someone has put it there, makes me feel like there’s some warning that my trans body might be in there and also that someone onsite might have my back (or my tits, as the case may be).

This will be an ongoing juggle to differentiate actually unsafe situations from uncomfortable ones. Locker room late at night at a mainstream non-trans-policy gym where there’s only one other dude or a football team? Probably not going to risk it. I’ve already got a bunch of practice of the safety versus self expression dance – as an effeminate trans man, I’m used to the “speed up my walk” moment or put my sort-of-butch-jacket on over my frilly pink shirt with matching frilly pocket square or turn my sparkly earring and rhinestone studded handbag away when passing men on the street late at night.

The more I watch and test the waters, the more I realise that for a relatively privileged trans person such as myself, probably the worst thing that’s going to happen in response to my boy tits wobbling around the men’s locker room, at a place that’s intentionally developed a trans inclusion policy, is some shocked stares and dropped jaws. A few years ago (actually even a few months ago), this would have devastated me. I would have spiraled into internalised transphobia, that nauseous feeling that there’s something wrong with me. That I’m weird. Broken. Yucky.  Unloveable. Sick. I would have felt emotionally AND physically unsafe as well as uncomfortable. Like I was about to attacked. Like I had in fact, been attacked. It’s not that I’m suddenly immune to these bouts of fear and self loathing, particularly given that I am a survivor of sexual assault, but the more I practice, whilst finding it a little tedious, boring & uncomfortable, the more I see it as an opportunity to cultivate self love AND slowly transform the world, one boy tit at a time. So I want to see more space for a whole range of bodies? Well, sometimes my political essays and rants can be written in my body. All I need to do, is be there, boy tits and all, and I’m already changing shit.

I recognise that it is through my privileges that I can do this, and also that I’m creating space for a particular type of trans experience. I’m not saying that exposure to my white boy tits will necessarily carve out space for trans women’s bodies, or racilialised trans men’s bodies or genderqueer bodies. Nope, I’m not at the centre of transforming our world and neither should I be. I’m two buoyant tits, floating in an ocean of change. And for what it’s worth, these tits are gonna sail proudly above the waves whenever they can.

Cisgendered people (ie, people who are not trans) – please be mindful of your cis privilege before telling your trans friends “well my trans friend Sunny said you’re not actually unsafe, just uncomfortable” or “you should love your body” or any other well intentioned declarations about how trans people should or shouldn’t feel about our bodies or what steps we should and shouldn’t take to be safe. Let’s remember that the same situation can be experienced very differently by two different people, not to mention that two different people will be treated differently. Although I also get that it’s complex when we’re talking about intersecting struggles – like I think there’s a place for cisgendered women having their trans sisters’ backs by calling trans guys on appropriating the struggles of trans women.

I’d also ask cisgendered people to remember that it takes a lot of work to deal with transphobia and cis-sexism when they arise and battle through internalised transphobia. I have the capacity for that work right now. And I choose to take on that education work.  I choose for my boy tits to be my curriculum, my wordless political essay in the locker room. Other trans people may be focused on other things, like battling the health care system, finding a roof under which to sleep or food to eat, dealing with their families, growing food, making art, surviving, throwing parties…

I’m not going to hide my beautiful trans body anymore, except when really and truly it would be physically unsafe. If it’s just uncomfortable, hell, so is trying to get changed balancing my bags off the floor in toilet stalls. So is the complex ballet of getting my clothes on and off without revealing my tits. So is living in a world that thinks my body is weird (or fetishizes it in unconsensual ways). So, frankly, I’d rather be uncomfortable WHILE creating more space for beautiful trans bodies through exposing more people to a myriad of ways men’s chests look. Besides, my boy tits deserve all the fresh air they can get, because as soon as I have surgery, I’m gonna start wearing a myriad of hot men’s bikini tops, because well, in addition to being tremendously transsexual, I’m also a fabulous flamer.

Until then, you have been warned: these boy tits will not be contained.

Follow up article: Boy Muff in the Public Pool: this budgie will not be smuggled

*Cis-sexism is the assumption that all people are or ought to be cisgendered (not trans) or that trans people’s identified genders are inferior to, less authentic than, or less natural than those of cisgendered people.

**Passing as cisgendered: unless my clothes are off, people don’t know I’m trans

Huge thanks to the love of my life, Chanelle, for editing and taking the photo!

Some other popular blog articles:

Racism is to White People, as Wind is to the Sky

Femme Ally Conversation Starter

the Boy Tit Finale Summer Collection

2 articles on sobriety: Wet >< Dry and The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

Like Sunny Drake on facebook, follow on Twitter or instagram, connect on Linkedin

Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website

Femme-Ally Conversation Starter

I wrote the original version of this artilce for an amazing femme zine called “1-2-3 Punch”. This article is now in its 9th revision! I regularly revisit it as I get new feedback – or  when me and my friends identify other forms of femme-phobia.

This is a conversation starter (continuer?) about trans-masculine or trans-male peoples being femme-allies. I don’t believe it’s possible to arrive at a feminist, anti-racist masculinity or maleness as long as there is still the white supremacist ableist capitalist heteropatriarchy ruling the world. To me, evolving feminist, anti-racist masculinities are a process. A process filled with many responsibilities and joys and heartache and mess-ups and liberations and confusions.

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that I am a white Australian (English & Irish ancestry), grew up with a mixture of working class and middle class experiences. I am trans and a man. I identify as effeminate and femme. Small-ish in body size. Queer (not just in my choices of lovers). I’ve made many mistakes, including some of the things I point out in this article. I’m not pretending to be perfect or attempting to speak on behalf of other femmes, particularly not femme women. I don’t believe the massive unpaid work of educating masculine people and men/boys should be left to femmes, unless they choose to take that on in any given moment. This article is part of my attempt to be accountable, alongside others, for growing new feminist masculinities and feminist manhoods.

In this writing, I’m going to continue an open conversation with examples of how misogyny and femme-phobia play out in subtle and not-so-subtle ways within queer subcultures. I’ll follow this with suggestions for ways to be allies to femme-identified peoples.

Firstly, I want to briefly discuss the ways in which trans-masculine folks have some forms of gender privilege, including those who DON’T pass as cisgender (ie, when most people read them as women). Hopefully it is obvious how trans-men who pass as cisgender (ie, most people read them as non-trans men) get a whole set of extra privileges (um, it’s called P-A-T-R-I-A-R-C-H-Y). If you’re read as a dude, then you’re likely to get at least part of the package of economic, social and political privileges – how much you get will depend on an array of factors such as your race, class, ability, body size, how “masculine” you are, whether you are read as gay or straight etc. There has been plenty written about how some men get privileges, however, there seems to be more confusion is about how non-passing trans-men and trans-masculine peoples have privilege. If most of the world reads you as female, then what privileges do you get?

>> Well firstly: Enter, the long-time awkward unwelcome guest inside many people who experience some form of oppression (drum-roll): INTERNALISED OPPRESSION! And it’s close buddy INTERNALISED PRIVILEGE. Most of us are steeped in patriarchal ideas about gender roles and a gender hierarchy, and racial hierarchy, class hierarchy etc, from the day we were born. Actually – some even before birth if ultra-sounds announced “it’s a girl/boy” before even popping out. These ideas, the dominant ideologies, are so incredibly pervasive that they seep out in subtle (and not so subtle) ways that can be difficult to spot. Clearly, many people who identify as women carry around shitty messages about their worth and their capabilities. Not to mention the ongoing external signals given by other people (e.g. a man and woman go to pick up a car from the mechanic. The mechanic talks to the man, even when it’s not his car and he doesn’t know anything about cars anyway). Some trans-men or trans-masculine people have complex gender histories and may have internalised some of this sexism and misogyny, thus carrying around some of these obstacles too. However, many of us also some or entirely a set of other attitudes and beliefs which we’ve internalised through having self socialised as masculine or male from a young age (more about this later). Because we were internally identifying as male or masculine, we were choosing to socialise ourselves according to the external messages we were getting about how men or masculine people supposed to behave. Many of us who present as more masculine or adopt some boy/male things such as “he” as a pronoun, or mannerisms which provide social indicators of being a “boy” like clothing, hairstyles, body posture etc, also get responded to by others in particular ways. Within a patriartchy, these things tell us (and others) that we are capable, that we can work on cars and take up space. Still not convinced? There are many examples below of how I see these dynamics play out.

Privilege is a sticky beast. I hear a lot of people say “I’m just choosing to not take my privileges. I live outside the system”. The thing is: privilege is not something that you take, it is something that is given to you. So even if you don’t want it, you will experience it to whatever degree your particular combination of identities and socio-political context give it to you. So, those of us who have or gain privilege, need to pull our socks up and get on with the business of centre-ing people who are most affected by sexism- including femme-phobia and trans-misogyny, especially those who also experience racism, ableism, classism and other nasties. “Privilege” can be a loaded word to use – I don’t want to in any way invisiblise the massive strengths of communities who experience oppression.

I’d also like to point out the different set of privileges afforded to white trans-men, ie, having some form of access to the privileges given the white cisgendered man, whereas trans-men of colour have to deal with a different set of shit (e.g. increased targetting by police and criminalisation). I also think that white privilege is very relevant to some of the examples that follow, and it’s difficult to separate out whether white trans-men are behaving that way because of whiteness or man-ness/masculinity (or class, ability or other factors too).

Before I launch into ample examples of ways we trans-men (and non-trans men) and/or masculine folks need to get it together, I want to explicitly acknowledge that it’s a bloody hard road being trans*, and this rant is in no way intended to publicly humiliate or isolate trans-men or trans-masculine folks. Full credit to all those who have had such courage to assert their (our) identities (even it it’s just to yourself) – this is a really unfriendly world to be trans* in. Even in politicised queer subcultures, transmen and trans-masculine folks still experience a bunch of oppression, for example, physical and verbal harassment, not having our gender recognised or respected or being judged for choices to alter or not alter bodies, difficulty accessing healthcare and employment etc. I don’t want this article to feed into any trans-phobia or unuseful stereotypes about trans-men. We do need to support each other and nurture each other AND hold each other accountable.

Ample Examples. So, into the examples of what I’ve been noticing and talking about with friends in terms of how misogyny plays out in the actions of many trans-men and trans-masculine peoples. Of course, much of this applies to non-trans-men (cisgendered men) as well.

  • How many incidences I’ve seen or heard of trans men harassing, objectifying, assaulting (physically, verbally or sexually) femmes and women. Frequently trans-men seem to under-estimate how much we may have internalised messages about ownership over women and femme’s bodies. Intimate partner violence is real and often goes unaddressed because of these internalised messages because we have built up ideas that trans-men are less sexist than non-trans-men.
  • Some specific examples around dating and femme sexuality:

-I am absolutely appalled that this is even necessary to state; any form of overt or covert suggestion that a femme has provoked sexual harassment, assault or objectification is DISGUSTING. Don’t say it doesn’t happen, I’m thinking about specific examples. Beyond addressing this, I think trans-masculine people have a responsibility to recognise the ways femme sexuality has been contained, squashed, targeted, stereotyped and owned and take steps to pro-actively challenge this.

-conversely, invisibilising femme desire and incorrectly assuming all femmes want a relationship/partnership rather than hot slutty times.

-the tendency of trans-men to expect femmes to emotionally tend to the relationship and do the lion’s share of work when shit hits the fan; and then have the nerve to turn around and tell women or femmes that they are bringing drama or being “too much”! “Drama” is a word that has been used to silence and ridicule women’s feelings and invisibilise emotional labour. So seriously dudes, when you call women or femmes “drama”, you are being sexist.  There are other ways to negotiate different styles of communication. If you’re thinking she’s drama, I would challenge you to look at who’s doing the emotional labour. Are they being drama or are you being emotionally careless? Other loaded words which have been used to humiliate, silence and control women and femmes include: “stupid”, “hysterical”, “crazy”, “sensitive”, “emotional”.

  • Some additional examples around trans-misogyny

–        how trans movements (and in fact gay/queer rights movements) have frequently been initiated and led by trans women (especially racialised trans women) and then taken over and co-opted by white trans men (and/or white non-trans gay men). Consequently movements frequently become derailed and centred around white trans-masculine issues such as top surgery fundraisers and yet another I’m-so-hot-look-at-me-I’m-a-transman-zine (which are great, just wishing we similarly celebrated the hotness of transwomen). This sidelines the super important issues trans-female-spectrum people disproportionately face such as violence, discrimination in employment & housing, criminalisation, sex worker rights etc…

–         If one more person says to me that trans-women take up too much space because they were sociliased male, I think I may vomit all over them. But I’ll be a little more diplomatic and suggest a game of Pin The Tale on the Stereotype instead. Firstly, socialisation is a complex thing. People pick up socialisation cues based on how they internally identify as well as based on how people externally attempt to socialise them. I know that as a trans guy, even though I didn’t necessarily label myself a “boy” as a kid, I remember always listening to what my teachers/friends/family/tv said about boys and relating that to myself. Secondly, the transphobic and misogynist cultures I grew up in absolutely do NOT build a sense of entitlement in trans women – anyone read as male who has any feminine or womanly presentation, traits or identification gets that ridiculed, punished and beaten out of them. This is hardly likely to build up someone to be able to speak boldly in groups. Also, saying a trans-feminine spectrum person takes up too much space is potentially classist, racist and cis-sexist. Classist & racist: some raised poor, working class and/or people of colour femininities are louder than their middle class or rich counterparts (the ideals many white dominated activist groups run on are very white middle class/rich in terms of what is considered polite and a good way of working – these need to change too!). And it’s cis-sexist to assume someone is louder because they are trans rather than because of any number of their other identities or even just their individual personality. Lastly, I believe both misogyny and trans-phobia are more often the root of this sort of comment. Stereotypes are often created to justify unjust behaviour and attitudes and cover over fear – like if someone is threatened by trans-women because they are trans-phobic or have internalised misogyny, it is much easier to come up with excuses like “they take up too much space” than acknowledge those fears or -isms. In the event that she is taking up a lot of space at your meeting, chances are it’s because you won’t open your group to her, or are subtly ostracising her or because she can tell that you don’t consider her a “real” woman, or because she’s uncomfortable with how you’re glaring at her pants to assess what bits she has.

–        How trans-men are often celebrated and fetishized within queer subcultures, whereas trans-women are often isolated and excluded. This is both misogynist and transphobic. Misogyny because: anybody femme and/or woman identifying is seen as lesser, while anybody masculine and/or man/boy identifying is celebrated. Trans-phobia because maybe some queer feminist communities don’t count trans-women as “real women” and therefore exclude them because they are still the “enemy” (ie, “men”). Similarly this attitude doesn’t count trans-men as “real men” and therefore accepts them as still part of the women’s community, whilst ironically elevating their status due to internalised misogyny.

–        How 95% of the time we say “transphobic”, we actually should be saying “trans-misogynist”. I’m not saying trans-masculine people don’t experience huge amount of discrimination, just trans feminine people get the brunt of the most violent and pervasive forms of it.

  • Not respecting femme-only space as valid and important
  • Failing to see femme organising as revolutionary. AND having the gall to claim credit for long-time femme tactics and wisdom, like the importance of relationship building in movements. Because men have such a long history of taking credit for women’s labour, ideas and resources, it’s essential to acknowledge women and femmes.
  • Mocking, belittling, teasing and calling some types of femininity shallow or vain – like make-up, packing 7 pairs of shoes for a week long trip or referring to high-heels as impractical.
  • How so many trans-men I know get away with being sexually and emotionally irresponsible and unaccountable in similar ways to non-trans-men. I have directly noticed this in my own attitudes in certain situations, with a tendency to write-off the behaviour of trans-men (e.g. “I didn’t expect any better of him”), whereas being hurt in the same situation by the behaviour of women or femme folks (e.g. “She should have known better”).
  • How I still see mostly women and femmes doing the dishes (I mean, really? This is so basic I’m almost embarrassed to point it out!). Even if I have been messy around the house for my entire life, including when I identified (by default) as female, increasingly uncovering a masculine and/or man identity brings certain privileges (e.g. an expectation that I won’t clean) and therefore brings an increased responsibility to address those privileges. Any roles that perpetuate privileges, power dynamics and stereotypes need to be carefully negotiated with all who are directly or indirectly participating (e.g. this doesn’t mean if you’re a trans-guy you absolutely have to do the dishes – but if you want to contribute in other ways instead, then negotiate it!). I also want to point out that some femmes may love doing the dishes and shouldn’t be judged as unradical for wanting to perform “traditionally feminine” roles. In fact, often those roles typically associated with women are seen as lesser or degrading work, effortless, natural or invisible – this needs to change.
  • How emotional labour, care and support roles in the communities I live in are mostly done by women and femmes. I think trans-men who request and utilise the support of femmes and women have a particular responsibility to be intentional with that support and ensure that dynamic is not only named, but negotiated as well. Once again, the problem is not when femmes choose to do care work – the problem is the assumption/abuse of this relationship and the lack of trans-masculine folks valuing and/or prepared to do this work themselves.
  • How trans-men get to fix things. I’ve noticed a sharing of power and skills from non-trans men to trans-men that often doesn’t happen between those two groups and women/ femmes. I challenge all trans-men to not forget how hard it may have been (for some of us) to carve out a space in the woodwork lab at school, or under the bonnet of a car with the dudes or building something for the local activist fundraiser. But at the same time – don’t assume that femmes wouldn’t know how to fix things or over-insist that they should know– some may not want to (just like some trans-masculine folks don’t want to – frankly I’d prefer someone else to fix my bicycle!).
  • How femme trans-men or trans-men who choose to not conform to expected models of masculinity or who don’t medically transition are sometimes subtly seen as “fakes” or “not really boys” or “gutless”, or at least as lesser in some way.

Being a femme-ally:a conversation starter about some stuff men and/or masculine peoples can do to challenge misogyny, be feminist and be allies to femmes (and also to other women, whether or not they are femme). Some of these things are interpersonal allyship, and others about organizing and doing solidarity work.

 

  • Learn about feminist and femme and women’s (trans and non-trans) struggles and histories. ESPECIALLY Indigenous and women of color feminist writers. Set up a reading/ discussion group. Read the words of femme/women activists. There are so many amazing femmes and women who have been doing a lot of work for so many years now – pay attention and learn! It is not the responsibility of femmes and women to educate other folks, however, some may be happy to be on an informal or formal advisory group (especially if you actually build relationships with femmes based on respect and accountability) – to provide suggestions, be a guest speaker and make sure that the group doesn’t sail off into irrelevance. Consider first volunteering and supporting femme/ women’s collectives, individuals and organisations before asking them to support your learning group.
  • Do anti-racist work. Racism is so inextricably part of femme-of color oppression in queer communities (not to mention in the mainstream), that addressing racism in queer communities is completely essential and central to femme-of-color solidarity.
  • Directly support femmes and women in your life. Listen to their experiences and try to understand how their oppression and marginalisation is different from your own. Then if you think it is appropriate, ask them if/ how you could support them (but remember it is not their responsibility to educate you).
  • Do the fucking dishes! (and clean the toilet/mop the floor/cook/caretake etc). Or explicitly negotiate other roles that are mutually agreed upon by all involved. (Note: negotiation means C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-N-G about something and making sure everyone has equal power to say what they really want/need, and that a solution is agreed upon). This is so obvious I almost didn’t want to write it (because I think some trans-men also think that’s all there is to being a femme ally). And make a point of stepping back and looking at your behaviour in various situations (household, work, encounters with strangers/ friends/ lovers), and thinking about how your interactions/choices/communication/behaviour was influenced by your perceptions of other people’s gender identity and expression.
  • Don’t assume all femmes identify as women. Don’t assume all women identify as femmes (even if they wear makeup or skirts). And don’t assume you are the only one with a radical gender identity. Learn about how being femme is political. Be aware that femme can mean different things to different folks who identify as femme, and make space for various kinds of femme identities.
  • Don’t assume a femme person presents their body for your visual pleasure. Femmes may not want you to comment on how gorgeous they are, or be unconsensually touched (including hugged).
  • Don’t fetishize femininity or femmes in nonconsensual ways.
  • Proactively build alliances that both explore and support the similarities in struggles between the trans-masculine and femme/ women’s (trans and non-trans) movements. Acknowledge the differences and seek to figure out what being a good ally means.
  • Seek to understand how all the different systems of oppression are linked – find the intersections with other struggles – don’t just think about gender – think about class, race, age, sexuality, body size, ability, history of abuse etc. There are some good resources out there – find them! www.coloursofresistance.org  and www.collectiveliberation.org are great starts. Then spend a certain proportion of your time making linkages between different struggles and supporting other causes.
  • Centre the people most affected by oppressions – femmes, women (trans-women and non-trans-women), Indigenous people, people of color, queers, people with disabilities, fat folks, refugees, working class peoples etc. “Centre-ing” means those people are key decision makers and have a crucial role in shaping the movements. Don’t assume you know what is best for people other than yourself.
  • Work with people within your own layers of privilege (e.g. if you are a white middle-class trans-boy, work with other middle class folks/ white folks/ trans-men to challenge misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism etc) AND support the movements of people with less privilege (e.g. volunteer to do the boring office work 4 hours a week with a local femme or women’s collective or organisation).

About Making Mistakes: I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on being a feminist dude. I’ve been schooled by listening to femmes and the generosity of so many amazing femmes in my life – lovers, friends, my heroes and work-mates. Dudes – I can 100% guarantee we WILL mess up. It’s not possible to be perfect. So, we also need to learn how to be accountable for making  mistakes. For example:

  1. deeply listening without defensiveness to the experiences of and impact on the person who was hurt (if they want to share this),
  2. clearly acknowledging how you messed up (without making excuses or subtly expecting support for how bad you feel about it),
  3. apologising (that’s right, take a deep breath and practice in front of the mirror. “I’m sorry”. “I’m sorry”. “I’m sorry”. I know it’s complex, but you can do it. Keep breathing).
  4. doing work to come up with suggestions of ways you could address your behaviour/ mistake/ make amends,
  5. listening to the wishes of the person who was hurt,
  6. taking the agreed upon steps,
  7. and having a process for re-checking in over time (for example – ‘would you like me to bring this up again or would you like to be in control of when we check in about it?’).
  • This process may be very quick if the hurt was minor, or you may need to invest a bunch of energy over a long period of time if the issue was more serious. Sometimes the person may not want to have a process with you, in which case you will need to respect their wishes (including no contact), reflect on and modify your own behaviour so that it doesn’t happen again. There are some great resources on accountabilty, mostly for sexual assault incidents – but similar principles can be used in any case where someone has caused someone else harm). For example: the last chapter in the Color of Violence anthology and the resource list on the INCITE! webpage http://www.incite-national.org/index.php?s=114
  • Develop your misogyny radar (both for your own behaviour as well as the behaviour of others) and be prepared to give constructive feedback to people in loving, supportive ways. In my experience, this often works best when done within friendships, or from people who have similar identities/ privileges (plus, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of femmes/ women to call this sort of behaviour out!).  This may involve:
    • one on one conversations (“hey, are you open to hearing some feedback on something I noticed? Well, I’m telling you this because I respect/love/like you. When you said/ did _________, I wonder if you considered how your gender/ racial/ class identity played into that…”)
    • writing a letter to the person
    • researching and sending people articles written by others
    • approaching someone else (another ally, a person’s trusted friend/ workmate etc) to support in addressing the person
    • bringing in a guest speaker/ articles/ processes/ workshops to address the general issue (without addressing the specific incident)
  • Receive criticism with full attention and without defensiveness. Even if you initially feel like the criticism is not true – resist the urge to write it off or be defensive. How about trying: “thanks for the feedback, I’m going to take some time to think about that and then respond to you”. Never ever ever dismiss someone who experiences oppressions (or even vaguely may be experiencing oppression) as overly sensitive. Ever. No matter how much you disagree with what they are saying, just don’t ever ever say it because chances are there is at least some truth in what they are saying and “You’re being overly sensitive” has been used to silence oppressed people for so long. People with privilege are trained to not see it. That’s part of how it gets perpetuated. Just because you can’t see how what the person is saying is true, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

The Flip Side: I also want to say how much I appreciate that so many femmes are kick-ass allies to trans-masculine folks. THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT AN EXCUSE (warning: kids, do not try this at home – ok?): I have often wondered if the actions of some trans-men or trans-masculine folks is a reaction to not being validated as a real “man”, or really “masculine” (often even with queer subcultures). Sometimes I wonder if I and others are tempted to replicate patriarchal versions of manhood and masculinity in an attempt to get some validation. So, even though ultimately it is totally up to us trans-men and trans-masculine folks to wean ourselves off these misogynist behaviours, also it is greatly appreciated when anyone (femme or non-femme) goes out of their way to change their conceptions of what a “man” or “masculine” means, and creates a little more space for all of us. I find women and femmes have often been my best allies for which I am deeply grateful.

And Guess What? in my opinion, this work is not tedious or boring or arduous – it’s exciting! I mean, I get to be a part of directly challenging patriarchy. Hell yer. Sign me up! I get to participate in carving out a new man, a new masculine. In fact, a myriad of new ways to be man or masculine through visioning and living and growing the new always-learning-feminist-man I am. Hooray! Who else is in? And how?

Thanks. A massive thanks to all the people who have contributed ideas for this article, particularly the amazing femmes I am lucky to have in my life.

Feedback: This article is now in it’s 9th edition in part because people keep sending great feedback on things to refine/change/add! Please feel free to distribute this article to others, and send any feedback or if anyone is interested in collaborating on further resources: sunny@sunnydrake.com

I also run workshops relevant to this article:

Feminist Masculinities Workshop: Explores the question: what is a feminist masculine person? Relationships, emotional labour, consent, challenging femme-phobia, masculinism and trans-misogyny (transphobia/ sexism faced by trans women), fashion, accountability, care, cake baking, political priorities…? Hands on activities, presentation and discussion about how dudes, butches, masculine women, trans-men, cisgendered men, males, bois, genderqueers can be feminist. The workshop comes from an intersectional analysis including class, race and disability. People of all genders welcome.

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2 articles on sobriety: Wet >< Dry and The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

Like Sunny Drake on facebook, follow on Twitter or instagram, connect on Linkedin

Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website

Financially supporting trans women’s access to surgery

Here’s a short blurb I wrote in 2011 as part of fundraising for a friend who was having bottom surgery, about why I believe it is super important for cisgendered people and trans men to support trans women/ trans-feminine spectrum people in accessing surgery (when they choose it).

▪               Trans women, especially those who don’t pass as cisgendered (ie, trans women who get read/interpreted by most of society as “men”) face huge barriers to finding employment due to prejudice. They may also face racism, classism or able-ism. So their job options can be very limited and therefore it’s harder to pay the bills, let alone fund expensive surgery.

▪               Because the medical industrial complex sucks! Many trans women are made to jump through years worth of hoops and red tape to prove that they should be allowed to have surgery. Having just been through this system as a trans-guy – my psychiatrist said “most of the FTMs (female-to-male) are a lot more straight-forward cases than the MTFs (male to female)”. BULLSHIT! The medical industrial complex, like the rest of mainstream Australia, does a lot of serious hating on trans women. Apparently one of the factors which slows down psychiatrists from approving surgery, is trans women having depression or anxiety. Is it any wonder a bunch of trans women are depressed when they get so much hatred thrown their way, beat up, denied jobs, called names and then made to tell their stories over and over to the boring cisgendered psychiatrist for years. (NOTE: recognising the discrimination faced by many transwomen doesn’t mean others should just assume it sucks to be a trans-woman – it rocks to be a trans-woman! Just the discrimination sucks). Cisgendered people act as gatekeepers and attempt to make every decision for trans people. Their decisions are greatly shaped by trans-misogyny (like the broader world) and can make many trans-women jump through very narrow definition of what it means to be trans – what the fuck would they know? This sucks. So, fundraising for trans women can give them more control over their transition through having money and therefore access to more options (like going to Thailand for the surgery, where there is less red tape).

▪               Because trans women bear the brunt of some of the most disgusting discriminations of the patriarchy. Levels of violence & assault against trans women are horrific. They are often doubly punished by then also being left out or violently marginalised by so called “feminist” and other movements e.g. being barred from accessing “women’s” shelters & services. This is blatantly anti-feminist! Many “feminist” movements are hung up on the notion of trans women having been socialised as male and therefore having male privilege. The transphobic and misogynist cultures I grew up in absolutely do NOT build a sense of entitlement/privilege in trans women. Anyone read as male who has any feminine or womanly presentation, traits or identification gets that ridiculed, punished and beaten out of them. This is hardly likely to build up someone with a sense of entitlement or privilege. Also, socialisation is a complex beast – a person picks up socialisation as much from how they identify inside, ie we have agency in how we socialise ourselves. Many trans women who identified that way from an early age, are likely to have picked up a lot of female socialisation because they were looking for the education and cues with which they identified. So I don’t see much privilege going on for trans women – especially trans women of colour, raised poor/ working class, trans women with disabilities etc. So, since they have to deal with heaps of shit, supporting trans women in ways that feel good to them (in this case – funding the surgery) is essential.

▪               Because access to surgery is a class issue. It sucks that rich trans people (who still have the support of their rich families or have miraculously managed to access well paying work) can get easier access to surgery. It’s up to us as a community to collectively be a “family” who raises money for poor/ working class/ financially struggling trans women.

▪               Because misogyny exists even in our queer/ radical bubbles. A little exercise: count how many fundraisers you’ve heard of for trans men. Now count how many you’ve heard of for trans women. Get the point? And that was just for starters – the way trans women are often ostracised, whereas trans men are celebrated (and even fetishised) is gross. Let’s change that.

So, these are some of the reasons why I’m giving money to my friend for her bottom surgery.  Also, because I like her a bunch and she is smart, hot, fabulous, funny and a good friend of mine.

Some other popular blog articles:

Racism is to White People, as Wind is to the Sky

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Boy Tits in the Locker-room

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2 articles on sobriety: Wet >< Dry and The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

Like Sunny Drake on facebook, follow on Twitter or instagram, connect on Linkedin

Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website

Capitalism hurts (as if I wasn’t hurting enough already…)

I wrote this article in 2008 for a radical chronic pain zine – “When Language Runs Dry”. I made some edits in 2015.

My body and I one of those old married couples. We are best friends yet we bicker and struggle with each other every day. We spend all our time together yet sometimes we discover how little we really know about the other. Our relationship used to be built on an understanding that I would call the shots and my body would keep it up, albeit with occasional grumbles. That is, until eight months ago when I had a repetitive strain injury in both my wrists which progressed from acute tendonitis to chronic pain. Now our dynamic is reversed – my body calls pretty much all the shots these days. We’ve been to various “couples counselors” so to speak, but no one can tell me exactly what is going on with my body. Anything requiring even a slight grip or repetitive motions with my hands is difficult. Cooking, riding a bike, writing, computer work, sex, opening jars, lifting my bag, going to the toilet and stroking a friend’s hair are daily challenges. With these radical changes in what I can and can’t do, I’ve found a myriad of ways that I devalue myself and that others devalue me. Thanks capitalism for that extra hurt, as if I wasn’t hurting enough already.

Before exploring the ways that capitalism has insidiously seeped into how I view myself and others, it’s important to acknowledge some of my identities that shape my experiences. I am a mixed class femme queer trans man. I am white, with English and Irish ancestors, and I was born and grown in Australia. I am a writer, performer, producer, activist, project manager, friend, lover, family member, caretaker, and random dancer at traffic lights and subways. I do not claim to understand what it would be like to have a longer term or wider reaching disability, or how the impacts of able-ism would magnify if I weren’t white. This injury has given me a small window of insight into the world of able-ism, how it plays out in my own life, as well as in activist and queer subcultures. This article is based on listening to the insightful and important experiences of people with disabilities, the pondering I’ve done in the quiet moments of despair about my wrists and my participation in the Ann Braden anti-racism training for white activists in San Francisco.

How does capitalism hurt? I am realizing just how deep the capitalist mentality is interwoven into how I think, how I value people, and what I base my identity on. The change in my body’s functionality has triggered a major shift in my self-identity and I have been struggling with feeling worthless. Every day I find myself thinking: “I’m not doing anything”, “I’m not contributing to my community”, and justifying my “un-productive” existence by the fact that I have an injury that prevents me from doing “valuable” things. The only way I have been able to feel okay about myself is by framing this period of my life as “healing time,” and reassuring myself that at some point I’ll be able do “valuable” work again. This has prompted me to start questioning what I consider “valuable” and what I consider “work”.

It is so embedded in my thinking to define only project or organizational activity as “work”. Harsha Walia asserts, “Capitalism not only creates the conditions for the expropriation of labour, but also limits what can even be characterized as labour” [1]. Capitalism considers work as activity done outside the domestic or relationship spheres which results in tangible products and outcomes. Walia points out that “work” is also tied to what you extract from the land. When I consider different ideas about work that center emotional labour and relationships, with this injury I am still doing valuable work and contributing to my community. I am a key emotional support person for several people. I listen to people and workshop their relationships challenges. I link people with each other. I share insights from different contexts like relating Australian and U.S. struggles. I am excellent at drawing out the unique and remarkable aspects of the people I meet and I support others to achieve their goals. I have long chats with friends and random strangers about their lives, hopes and dreams. I tell stories and create theatre that challenges dominant ideas. I give feedback and encouragement on friend’s creative projects. I participate in a collective household. I appreciate calendula flowers almost every day.

It is no coincidence that most of these undervalued roles are considered feminine or female roles: welcome to the white supremacist colonial capitalist patriarchy. Women and femmes are expected to do this work freely and this labour is neither credited as work nor valued. Hence, people who do this emotional work are also devalued. In a time when we are in serious plight on planet earth, it’s not only necessary to start valuing emotional and care work, but in fact centering it. Harsha Walia highlights that care work is necessary to continue life on earth.

So, I don’t want to hold out for the day my wrists get better to start feeling good about myself again. By refusing to acknowledge the worth of my own life right now, I am participating in devaluing the worth and lives of so many other people who do not fit able-bodied capitalist norms. I am contributing to driving the planet further into the abyss we are facing.

In addition to what capitalism encourages us to value and devalue, I’ve also been thinking about how capitalism encourages us to work. Overhauling white supremacist, sexist, capitalist and able-ist systems involves digging deep and changing how we do things. For example, capitalism is obsessed with accelerating profit curves, quick fixes and short-term vision. As activists, when are we uncritically propelling these ways of working? For instance, when are we failing to create deep change by focusing on superficial changes that simply make us look good or get our not-for-profit organizations more funding? Given the urgency of social and environmental issues, it’s understandable that many of us have short term crisis mentalities, rather than working towards strategic bigger visions. But who gets left behind when the focus is on more-faster-have-to-get-it-done-today-or-else? Does a preoccupation with accelerated outcomes lend itself to genuine reflection or simply doing what it takes to make outcomes look good? Some examples of how I see these capitalist mentalities embedded within activist work include:

  • Encouraging a culture of work-a-holism that many people with disabilities are unable to participate in.
  • “But it was the only meeting space we could find”: focus on the easiest logistics such as holding meetings in spaces or at times inaccessible to many people.
  • “This campaign is about stopping mining, not gender equality or Indigenous sovereignty”: breaking down complex social change issues into single issues. The outcome is ironically a failure to understand the root causes of even those “single” issues, such as how colonization and patriarchy are interwoven with environmental destruction.
  • The unattainable standards of “perfection” that get perpetuated within a capitalist society, e.g. pursuit of the “American dream”. Activist and queer communities often apply this exact same mentality to setting new standards of what it means to be “radical” – like that a radical person should never feel jealous, never mess up etc.
  • Fixation on notions of “independence” – that we should be able to care for 100% of our own needs, which is just plain impossible, even for able-bodied people.
  • Tokenizing people with disabilities (or others) by giving only non-decision making roles, inviting last minute participation after visions have been set, and simply having one or two representatives in a group rather than creating ways to genuinely center people with disabilities.
  • Setting goals that assume certain types of physical or mental abilities to achieve them.
  • Valuing and celebrating only “external” outcomes, like stopping a uranium mine, and devaluing “internal” outcomes, like addressing power and privilege within an organization/ collective.
  • Non-profit workers exaggerating results to keep up with funding bodies expectations. Or doing things to look good to our peers, rather than because our actions will create deeper change.
  • Making only superficial changes to make something look good for short-term gain, rather than digging to the root causes.

These ways of working are not only able-ist but also racist, classist and colonial too.

I’m left with a lot more questions and ponderings, rather than answers: how do activist and queer groups change cultures of over-work? How do we pay attention to our bodies and create workspaces that care for our bodies? How do we shift what we value to include feminist and disability positive concepts of work? How do movements place people with disabilities at the center instead of at the margins, particularly those who are also people of color, Indigenous, working class, women, queers, trans and gender variant folks and survivors? How doe we leverage the gifts that come from the participation of people with non-normative bodies and minds? How can we follow the lead of women of color feminism and embrace the intersections of issues and oppressions? How do we balance striving to do our best with giving up capitalist-influenced definitions of “perfection”? And how do we do all of this whilst working within an urgent context?

This is a big list that I could work on for my whole life. Considering I have been struggling with my changed abilities and my sense of myself as a “valuable” person, today I am going to try to value myself just for being me. That doesn’t mean giving up. It means freeing-up all the energy that goes into questioning my worth as a human being – that shit is time-consuming and so draining! It means being able to use that freed-up energy to have a more harmonious relationship with my body and get on with creating change with my communities. And I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t do that “perfectly”. In fact, I’m going to celebrate imperfection right now by ending this article perfectly incomplete.

[1] : “A truly green economy requires alliances between labour and Indigenous people” by Harsha Walia https://ricochet.media/en/463/a-truly-green-economy-requires-alliances-between-labour-and-indigenous-people

Some other popular blog articles:

Racism is to White People, as Wind is to the Sky

Femme Ally Conversation Starter

Boy Tits in the Locker-room

the Boy Tit Finale Summer Collection

2 articles on sobriety: Wet >< Dry and The Brandy is Just for the Zit in My Throat

Like Sunny Drake on facebook, follow on Twitter or instagram, connect on Linkedin

Check out video, photos, theatre shows and workshops on Sunny’s website