Toshio Meronek

How to Make Occupy Wall Street More Trans-Inclusive

Filed By Toshio Meronek | November 01, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Jeannine Tang, Naomi Clark, Occupy Wall Street, Pooja Gehi, Reina Gossett, Sylvia Rivera Law Project

A big problem with social justice movements? Forgetting - and sometimes resisting - to include the people who are the most oppressed in the process. The crew at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project occupy-wall-street-4.jpgknows the problem first-hand, and stopped by Occupy Wall Street last week to help other protesters understand where they're coming from. [See a video of the teach-in below.]

Reina Gossett described trans revolutionaries Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson's struggles in the 1960s and '70s with STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries). The group's first occupation happened at NYU's Weinstein Hall, when the school refused to allow two queer dance parties and called in the NYPD to get rid of protesters. Many people left when the cops arrived. Later, STAR released an impassioned statement: "All that we fought for at Weinstein Hall was lost when we left upon the request of the pigs, you people run if you want to, but we're tired of running. We intend to fight for our rights until we get them."

Rivera also helped organize New York's first Gay Pride, then called the Christopher Street Liberation Parade. The parade ended at a women's prison in protest of the mass incarceration of queer and trans people - a fact lost on most people who attend today's corporate Pride celebrations.

Naomi Clark focused on the lack of acceptance and resources that trans and queer people face, and how it's sometimes necessary to turn to survival crimes ("also known as Survival"); compounding the problem are associated mental health and substance issues.

Jeannine Tang ended the event with seven statements to help make the Occupy movement a safer space queers and trans people:

  1. At meetings, assemblies, and social spaces, we support people self-identifying their preferred name and their preferred gender pronoun.
  2. At meetings, assemblies, and social spaces, we support calling people by their preferred name and their preferred gender pronoun, even when they aren't here.
  3. If we're unsure of someone's gender pronoun, we'll ask, and share our own. We won't assume.
  4. We will not out someone as transgender without their permission, since we recognize transphobia can be dangerous.
  5. If we create or plan public shelter, medical access, or bathroom access, we will create access that's open to all genders.
  6. In our direct actions and protests, we will not draw police attention to groups including transgender people, gender non-conforming people, and people of color. We will prevent harm to trans and gender non-conforming people at the hands of the cops.
  7. We support gender self-determination for trans women, trans men, gender non-conforming people, and we desire gender self-determination for all.

A video of the teach-in:

Video streaming by Ustream

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I spent time with my local protesters explaining that the LGBT doesn't represent all of us and should never be allowed to claim to. I taught them refering to all of us whether we are TS,TV or CD as Transgender is disrespectful and takes away are rights to choose not to be associated or confused with supporting gay politics.As I have engaged in talking to more and more people about the TS/TG split I'm amazed at just how many get it and can plainly see how the LGBT is using us and that its not in a good way.

Thank you Lisa, for providing us with yet another reason NOT to support Trans people.

"...can plainly see how the LGBT is using us..."

I'm not sure whether to be bemused or disgusted with this asinine statement. Since I'm old enough to remember the days when Gays and Lesbians didn't even think of themselves as one community, and I remember the first time I saw the "T" appear in the alphabet soup, I find your statement offensive at best and bigoted at worst. More and more I get the impression that some Trans people want nothing more than to be divisive, that they'd prefer that their predecessors had never sought inclusion in the LGBT community. Your entire post reflects just that, in my opinion. Thankfully I'm also old enough to know the error and foolishness of making blanket statements about the entire Trans portion of the community based on the actions of only a few. You have obviously yet to learn that with regard to the LGB portions. No thanks to your prejudice, I will continue to love and respect my Trans-person friends and continue to fight for their equality.

Please please please guys don't hate us because of these blowhards. As a trans woman I have nothing but love towards you guys and gratitude. If it wasn't for a gay man at the end of a phone line at 15 I'd be dead. You have to remember that not all trans woman are the same and trans woman like me who started out our trans journey identifying as feminine gay men at a really young age have completely different motivations and reasons for why we're trans, the difference between me and a person like Lisa is like night and day. When you're talking to Lisa you need to remember that you're probably (about an 80% chance) talking to a person who likely spent the last decade or two as Sgt. Larry of the homophobe unit of the fourth squadron of the US marines. Women like these they've driven trans women like me out of the mtf community using bullying and intimidation. Think like -- myself sitting with three of my girlfriends little feminine women talking about the gay boyfriends we had as kids and a bunch of these breeders in dresses that used to be policemen and firefighters and super macho men, ranting at us about how we can't have identified as gay men and still be transsexuals, calling us campy fags, etc.... Seriously guys it's frightening it's the same rants girls like me heard coming out of a straight guy's mouth while he was beating us within an inch of our lives in grade nine. If you go to a online ts support chat and say you were a gay male before you identified as trans within seconds the entire room will be calling you a fagotte and telling you things like you're nothing but a drag queen and fags aren't welcome on their chat. I want to relate one more story I really think I need to stress how much these women hate gay men and people like me. I was talking with an ex-military trans woman trying to figure out how any trans woman that was in her right mind would want to be a macho army guy and he told me this, get ready for this --- I used to beat up gay men as my gender dysphoria was so bad that I had to be as macho as possible and the whole time I was doing it I felt pain and guilt. I refused to show this piece of crap homophobe any pity over his pain and the entire room of autogynopheliac ts women turned on me --- "you should try to understand the pain she feels and be compassionate", seriously no word of a lie this happened to me. I'm not sure about what pain this breeder is feeling I should be compassionate about, the pain his knuckles feel when he's smashing them into a gay boys skull? Maybe the pain he felt furiously getting the blood out of his clothes so he don't get the AIDS from our dirty fag blood. These women you're chatting to on here hate you. Seriously that's why you see them going on and on about how they're not gay men and they're a straight woman like interjecting it constantly into every conversation. They're doing this because they view being called or looked at as gay men on the same level as being called or looked at as a rapist or child molester, that's how they think of you. Women like me are broke and poor and on street corners and at homeless shelters because as boys we were so feminine we faced constant discrimination day after day. Women like Lisa have a convertible and a bank account stuffed with money from all the years she spent enjoying her male breeder privilege. You guys really don't need to do anything more to help us, keep packing up your vans full of condoms and sandwiches and quick test AIDS kits to bring down to the trans and male prostitutes, keep opening up your lgbt positive homeless shelters where a trans woman can sleep without getting raped by half dozen men that just got out of prison, keep behind the phones at pflag. I mean there is so much you do for us. Please just ignore these people, I mean I know it's hard some poor gay guy that's been saving trans women's lives by sitting behind a desk since he came out in nineteen eighty f***ing two to have one of these people come waltzing in at the age of 45 demanding everyone drop everything do what they want, I know, I'm so, so sorry about these spoiled princesses. I wish I could do more, I work at a homeless shelter and help lgbt people I see when I can, but I won't go back to LGBT places while these people are still there. I'm about 5'9" and 140lbs so you can imagine one of these 6'2" exmarine breeders in dresses screaming fag at me it's scary, I don't want to play anymore. If you guys want to help someone like me KICK these homophobes to the curb, get rid of them, make them as unwelcome as you can in the lgbt community, glare at them, ignore them, whatever it takes until finally they go through with their endless idiotic threat of taking the T out of the LGBT, make them as unwelcome as possible, remember these people are homophobes. Then when they go women like me can come back and put our arm around my gay friend "barry the fairy" and call him sister and not have to worry about some breeder going off about how barry can't be called sister as he's a gay man and not a woman, blah blah blah, I'm sure you've all heard the rants. To Lisa and those like her take your god damn T and gtfo we don't want you and your homophobia. Yes, scotti I remember the gay community in the late 80s early 90s before these people showed up. I guarantee if we somehow can get rid of them it'll all go back to the way it was and we can concentrate once again on saving children's lives and unimportant issues like that.

I just want to point out that these TS woman think if they invoke the name of Sylvia Rivera every gay man within 5000 miles should fall to their knees and suck them off, complete horseshit. Sylvia Rivera was like me, she was poor and she was sleeping with men and called herself a drag queen (remember what you idiots have to point out every time someone says drag queen ---- Drag queens aren't women don't call them she they're nothing but gay men! OMFG it's a gay man!!) If she existed today in the ts community and said she was a drag queen she'd be driven to the hills and called all kinds of names by these people. She wouldn't relate to someone that was such a coward that they waited until they were 40+ to come out and acted like boorish breeders up until that point living in their little white middle class houses in the suburbs, I'm sure she'd be quite disgusted with you people.

I agree with every single word. It all made sense to me...
seriously...especially this...

"I just want to point out that these TS woman think if they invoke the name of Sylvia Rivera every gay man within 5000 miles should fall...

You idiot many transsexuals called themselves drag queens back in the day. But these days drag queen means something completely different... It means mainly a man in drag. Back then it was someone who felt female and yes some gays too. Transsexuals don't want someone like you even close to the parts on their body that turn you on. You are a hate monger and the main reason why transsexuals have always thrown under the bus. I hope you don't get what you dish out... but then again it sounds like you have or at least you've been road hard and put away wet one to many times. i.e. ... GET A LIFE!

As a Drag Queen, I should probably be even more offended then. I've marched my stiletto-heeled feet bloody (literally) for the LGB AND T community since the age of 17. Now, at the age of 2,401 (remember, we age at 7 times dog-years)with crushed toes and a bad back thanks to those same stilettos, I find myself increasingly short tempered with people who go diving head-first into self-proclaimed martyrdom. But I really get incensed when I see people slamming and belittling drag queens - meaning those like myself who use our art for the good and benefit of the community. I don't put myself through 4 hours of hell to look like a woman, just to be insulted by those who intentionally omit the fact that drag queens have been on the front lines of our struggle since before Stonewall. No, Madame Forte DeSade (a.k.a. MommieDammit) is NOT amused.

The comments to this article are very interesting and thought provoking. The gay bashing and transphobia are used as tools to divide. Humanity is not conditioned on a label.

We are not blind, The LGBT has never been Trans-Inclusive and from what I see and read they never will be. Right now one of my TS sisters is in jail for standing up at Occupy Wall Street, But all I've heard about her from LGBT media including Bilerico is the typical "tranny bad press" or should I say "Business as usual LGBT press". I trust nothing that comes from gay media. The cisgender straights are far better friends to trans people than the gays organisations or media has ever been.