Friday, October 28, 2016

Singing, I can hear them singing, when the rain had washed away all these scattered dreams

A week after returning home from the trial I had another dream of my Aunt.

We were having a family dinner out at a restaurant.  Everything felt comfortable and familiar.  I was home in Sonoma County, everyone in the family was there, we were having a good time.  I was seated next to my Aunt and near my Grandma (her mother, who died the year before my Aunt Robin did).  We were talking, I was so happy and thought to myself that I never thought I would get to have moments like this again... and I realized I must be dreaming.  The look on my Aunty's face told me I was right, I was dreaming, and I burst into tears and hugged her tightly.  She cried too.  All the grief I've felt over the years came out and I sobbed.

Once I caught my breath we talked.  I don't remember what was said but the emotions passing back and forth were ones of sorrow and grief and anger and love -- that weird mix of things when someone is taken away from you, that mix of things that chokes your throat and is kind of impossible to find the words for.   And I got back from her sadness, that she missed us, missed being alive, but also that she was OK.  She felt peaceful, and light; she wasn't weighed down by all this shit anymore.  She'd figured some things out, and was happy.

Dinner was over and we got up to walk out, still talking.  Now we were talking happily, but again it was more feelings passing between us and I don't remember the words.  She took my Grandma's hand, and loving feelings passed between all of us as we walked out of the restaurant chatting together.  The doors opened into blinding daylight and the dream was over.

This time when I woke up all I felt was joy.  We had told each other the things we needed to.  It was OK.  For the first time since I lost her, I think, I felt like it would actually be ok -- that healing would actually be possible.  I felt connected to her again.

My Grandma has visited me since she died, but Robin never had.  Not until these couple of weeks.  I'm so grateful for both visits, because I think the first made the second possible, and paired together they are honest to my experience of this horrible thing that happened.   It's been almost a month and while various feelings have come up, I have felt more at peace about things than I did over the last 7 years.  It's not over, and I need to not always keep it to myself, but what remains is the sense that healing is possible, and is happening.  My ancestors are with me, even when I can't feel them, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

As I look at next week, and the final sentencing hearing, I hope I close the door on David Frostick and use all I've been through productively in my life.  He's ruled more of my life than I ever wanted.  That's just a reality.  And maybe I'll feel differently if he ever comes up for parole.  But for now, I want that to come to an ending.  He is a vampire, siphoning the life off of those around him, and I don't need to feed him anymore.  He can take back everything that's his.  I'm keeping what's mine, and that's my Aunt, my family and my future.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dreaming, I was only dreaming, of another place and time, where my family's from

I had a dream that my aunt Robin was never murdered (i could remember that it and the trial happened but it was like that was the dream or something) and instead she was alive and hanging out with us and i was SO relieved to see her face smiling and laughing (as per usual) and to hug her.  The dream was longer and had more interaction but that's all i really remember.  It felt so real i was confused when i didn't wake up at home in my own bed.  I haven't been able to shake the utter sense of loss I feel now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Archers, Steven Avery, OJ Simpson and the DV death of my Aunt - some thoughts

Hi all, it's been a while. Thank you, if you're still around. If you've followed my blog for a while now you will know about the death of my aunt, and something about her experiences of domestic violence. Well, my priorities have changed re: writing and online activist participation, but this does seem like the place to write about "serious stuff" -- and it doesn't get much more serious than the trial of her accused murderer. If you don't know (see previous post) it has been 7 years that we have waited for this, as the accused used every available tool to prolong this process with no apparent care to the ways in which he was re-victimizing us (unsurprising really). So we've all had a lot of time at this point to sit with what happened, to process a lot of our feelings, to learn about domestic violence and the court system.

In the last year or so I've gotten into law/crime based podcasts such as Serial (season 1), Undisclosed, Truth and Justice, and Real Crime Profile. I think it has really helped me prepare for what's about to happen, and to understand what these lawyers are doing (because, no matter what prosecutors tell you, they are NOT trying to get justice for YOU and it's not the TRUTH they're trying to get to -- they're answerable to THE STATE and they're trying to PROVE AN ARGUMENT, it's a scored debate more than anything else.... anyway). Below you will find some stuff I've been thinking about that I thought was worth sharing. At the moment, my step-mother and I are sitting outside the courtroom where jury selection is happening in our trial and I have my laptop, hoping I would feel inspired to write something new...but I don't. So enjoy this instead....

Trigger/Content Warning: some graphic description of domestic violence/death.


And here we are

Family waits 7 years for trial to begin

Sunday, March 15, 2015

wrinkles poem

i used to wonder 
what kind of wrinkles 
i would have

and as it turns out

they are appearing between my eyebrows
from years of furrowed brow reading

and drawing down from the corners of my mouth
from years of frowning gritting teeth

i always thought that wrinkles say
something
about the life you have lived

so i always hoped mine
would crease my face from smiles
that i would have more
like my father's crows feet
that get more prominent every year

but
i guess i will take the proof
that i have been
troubled
by this world

that i have studied
considered deeply
and refused
to just
smile
and avert my eyes

Sunday, August 10, 2014

(Trans)Misogyny on BBC Woman's Hour

Hi guys, it's been a while.  There have been things that I have wanted to write about here and there, but I haven't really had the time to do it.  The continuing genocide in Gaza.  The fifth anniversary of my Aunt's death (and still no trial for her killer).  Police violence.  Changes in how I think about my gender.  Wrinkles.  Sadly in the job I'm in now I don't really have the opportunity to scribble in my notebook as I once did when confronted with thoughts/moments I want to hold on to.  But this week I am here, because I heard something so upsetting that I really couldn't let it go.

I clean houses these days.  For an eco focused company who pays me decent.  It's not a bad gig.  We're allowed to listen to stuff with headphones while we work, and podcasts have been the perfect thing for me.  If I tune out for a second, unlike with an audiobook, I don't really lose my place.  And I don't have the temptation to sing along, like with music (we're not allowed to).  So I've been devouring podcasts!  Mostly these are BBC podcasts, as I find them largely more enjoyable than ones here from the US.  I like hearing perspectives on things from outside my own culture, and the accents, and feeling like I'm learning about another culture sometimes.

The one I've listened to the longest, in fact, for many years now off and on, is "Woman's Hour" on BBC Radio 4.  I looked for USian takes on this idea and really didn't find much.  But this is basically a one hour show, five days a week, that takes a feminist look at current events, primarily in the UK but they do draw stories from around the world.  The topics are as diverse as anyone who has spent time in Women's Studies or the like might expect.

From my perspective this show is not perfect, but it's often interesting.  Much like NPR in the States, Radio 4 seems to be a moderately left-leaning liberal type of environment, and Woman's Hour generally takes a similarly liberal feminist or old school radical feminist perspective on most things.  So, obviously, coming from an anti-kyriarchal feminist perspective I often want to respond with "yeah...but" to their segments.  From the way FGM and hijab are addressed, or the way they interview sex workers and trans women I can tell there is a deep discomfort with things I take for granted as obvious (like that sex work is work and trans women are women, full stop). I don't love this, but I can live with it most days.  Honestly it's often a good reminder about what big F Feminism looks like and values, and clarifies my fundamental differences with them.

But the episode I listened to on Friday was a whole new level.  I actually started crying while I cleaned I was so upset and angry, and I had to turn it off at one point.  Once the episode was over I cleaned in silence for a while just to clear my head.

As soon as I had read the episode description that morning I knew it wasn't going to be good.  "The politics of transgenderism" was the title of one of the segments.  OMG, "transgenderism???"  It was a huge red flag.  That wording is only used by two groups of people: transphobic Radical Feminists, and those who are largely ignorant of what it means to be a trans person and don't know any better yet.  After being in the feminist broadcasting business for a long time (decades, I've gathered) I doubted the latter could be the case here.  I wasn't wrong.  The episode started up and I heard who they had on to discuss their new book during this segment: Sheila Jeffreys.  If you're not familiar with her, like Janice Raymond and Germaine Greer, she is a well known feminist whose work has stigmatized, attacked, denigrated and dehumanized trans people (particularly trans women).

But it was worse than I feared, as the host (Jenni Murray) not only let Jeffreys speak at length without interruption even when she was saying incredibly transphobic things, but then repeatedly interrupted Zowie Davy* when she was finally given the chance to reply.  It was horrible.  It was violent.  And while Natacha at UnCommon Sense has already done an incredible job with her article A detailed response to Sheila Jeffreys on Woman’s Hour, I also feel the need to respond with my thoughts to a few things.  Thank you also to Melissa Tsang who transcribed the segment, which I have used here.

First of all, Jeffreys attacks trans women who, as they begin to express their gender identity, sometimes rely on stereotypical or hyper-feminine expressions of femininity.  Jenni Murray reworded that "accusation" thusly: "Long nails, very painted, long hair, flicked, beautifully made-up. Why is there often an apparent need to become a stereotype of a very feminine woman or a very masculine man?"  I've seen this kind of accusation a lot from feminists.  And I can't remember who said this, though I think perhaps it was Julia Serano, but the concept of a "trans girlhood" seems very relevant here.  It was the simple act of pointing out that when cis** girls begin to mature into women, they begin experimenting with gender roles and different kinds of gender expression.  Usually, we start playing with the images of womanhood that we see around us.  "Around us" can mean in our families, larger communities, or in media (for a few examples).  At some point, at least once or twice, most of us will "try on" a hyper feminine gender presentation: copious makeup, high heels, painted nails, long hair and yes, maybe we will even "flick" it.  As children, this is considered perfectly normal.  We're trying to figure out how what we feel inside corresponds with how we dress and adorn ourselves on the outside.  Trying to figure out the responses we get to different expressions of ourselves and how that makes us feel.  Trying to figure out what we're comfortable with.***  And yet, when a trans woman does this very same thing, she is somehow pathological.

Maybe it is because when many trans women come to this girlhood stage, they are adults.  But tomorrow, I turn 30 years old, and I'm STILL messing with my gender identity!  So why the hell would we assume that a trans woman who has just started expressing her femininity outwardly would have it all figure out right off the bat?  Why wouldn't she do many of the very same things that cis girls do?  From personally knowing, reading about and listening to trans women, it doesn't seem like this stage lasts very long (again, just like with most cis girls).  In fact most, if not all, of the trans women I have known express a very toned down version of outward femininity.  The most hyper feminine women I know in real life are all cis women!  That Jenni Murray and Sheila Jeffreys both seem to believe that trans women stay statically in this place of hyper feminine expression suggests a real ignorance of lived trans womanhood.

Directly after this part of the discussion, Zowie Davy responds brilliantly to this accusation of hyper-femininity by pointing out two things that Murray ignores altogether.  1) That this focusing on "stereotypical" femininity "assumes that femininity is somehow bad" and 2) that it is GENDER CLINICS, aka the gatekeepers of trans people's access to vitally important medications, that absolutely demand very normative gender presentation to take trans people seriously.  This second point has been talked about by trans people in many places; it is the violence of the medical industry on gender variant people, and a real enactment of patriarchal understandings of gender by systems of power.  These are the exact same dynamics that harm cis women in incredibly violent ways within medicine.  Honestly, even the most basic RadFem should take this point very, very seriously because it's the exact kind of patriarchal power over women that they regularly debunk.  And similarly, the first point is one that also falls precisely within the RadFem wheelhouse, reclamation of "the feminine" is something I first came across in radical feminist writing!  Further, the denigration of practices, work and people designated feminine is exactly something Woman's Hour regularly fights against.

Just not when it comes to trans women, apparently.

Finally, the segment ends with the tired, played out fear mongering of "men dressed as women going into toilets and raping (cis) women!"  Look, this is a horrible, violent, demeaning accusation, and one which is totally baseless.  Not because some version of it has never happened, but because people like Jeffreys pretend that trans women are exceptionally apt to raping people, and because this accusation is largely a roundabout kind of victim blaming.  So, first of all, sexual assault happens amongst all genders.  This is a fact.  Queer and straight, cis and trans, women, men and all people in between; sexual assault happens, and the victim and abuser come from every group.  Yes, we know some kinds of violence are gendered, and that those gendered masculine are more often the abuser.  But, and this goes to my second point as well, trans women are THE MOST LIKELY TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.  Like, statistically, this is a thing we know.  And specifically, trans women of color with a disability are the most likely people to be assaulted.  Because they are on the lowest end of the social hierarchy, the most dehumanized, the most looked down upon.  To turn around and say that trans women, a group that is most likely to be abused, are the ones going around doing all this abusive behavior, is some of the most sick and twisted kind of victim blaming I've seen.  And Jenni Murray not only let this (and all the rest of this abusive tripe) slide, but posed it back to Zowie Davy as though it was some compelling kind of question.

It might be a while before I can bring myself to listen to Woman's Hour again.




* The sacrificial trans woman who was seemingly only asked on so Woman's Hour could claim the segment was "balanced" [which is a BBC requirement for most political stories, I gather].

** I'm going to use the simple binary of cis and trans in this piece, to mean people who ~roughly~ adhere to their assigned gender at birth (cis) and people who don't (trans), but the reality is there is quite a spectrum.

*** Total sidenote but this process is probably a FAR superior example of performativity than the one Butler actually used of drag performance....

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Connect the Dots: Refinery Corridor Healing Walks



If you are in the Bay Area I'd definitely recommend checking this out!

Connect the Dots: Refinery Corridor Healing Walks:
The Connect the Dots: Refinery Corridor Healing Walks is a series of four walks along the San Francisco Northeast Bay refinery corridor. The refineries include: Shell, Tesoro, Valero, Phillips 66 and Chevron. Each refinery community suffers from high rates of cancer, asthma and autoimmune diseases.

Join us for one walk or all four between April and July, 2014. Rallies will be conducted at the beginning and end of each journey.

Walk solo, in a group, or relay the walk with your friends. The first walk is about 15 miles. Water will be provided, please bring snacks.

Bring your friends and family! The beginning rally of Walk #1 on Saturday, April 12th will be at the Pittsburg Marina at 9:00 a.m. will feature a speaker from Idle No More SF Bay and local residents. The ending rally at 5:30 p.m. at Waterfront Park in Martinez will be about what we envision for the best possible future for our communities. Maps of the walk route are below. For more information go to: ConnectTheDotsHealingJourneys.org or call (510) 619-8279 or email refineryhealingwalks@gmail.com

If possible, please make your own arrangements to get back to the starting point if your transportation is there. A shuttle will be available but it will take time to go back and forth.

Taking BART? Email us at: refineryhealingwalks@gmail.com
for pick up at 8:30 a.m.

Everyone is invited to join us on these healing walks as we journey along the refinery corridor. We will pray for life, the waters, soil, air, safety of the refineries and their workers, and a just transition beyond fossil fuels. We are all in this together and it's time to envision a better future for our communities.

Humanity exists within a finite system of air, water, soil and life. This is all we have. It is time for humanity to come together to ensure a safe future beyond fossil fuels. All of the tools for this transition are already available. Several times a month there is some type of fossil fuel disaster in the news. Life, soil and water are damaged every time this happens. We must come together to mold the future we want beyond fossil fuels. The time is now and it is up to us. It is obvious that the fossil fuel corporations don't care about us. Our future is in our hands. Join us to create it!

WHEN
April 12, 2014 at 9am - 6pm
WHERE
Pittsburg Marina, Pittsburg, California USA
51 Marina Blvd
Pittsburg, CA 94565
United States
Google map and directions
CONTACT
Gathering Tribes · refineryhealingwalks@gmail.com · (510) 619-8279

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Decolonizing Whiteness

Well worth a read for anyone who is classified as White by Western hegemony.  Thank you to Cecelia Rose LaPointe through whom I found this piece.

“Do you know the people you come from?” 
This is the one question most commonly asked by the world’s Indigenous peoples to people of European heritage. For the large majority of us in America, Europe, and elsewhere, the honest answer beyond simple genealogy is, “I don’t know.”
Unfortunately, this not knowing is part of a deep disconnection that has serious consequences for ourselves and others.

Traditional Indigenous people understand this unknowing lies at the heart of the political, social, and economic systems that have caused, and continue to cause, colonization and genocide of their people as well as destruction of life on Mother Earth.

At the personal level, the lack of being rooted in a culture of place brings spiritual disconnection, shallow sense of self, and historical trauma from the lost ancestral roots and lost way of life that shaped our physical, emotional, and spiritual health for tens of thousands of years.

People of European heritage are often called hungry ghosts because we don’t know our selves. This trauma of disconnection is profound, causing us to constantly grab for anything of spiritual meaning – even if it does not belong to us. This taking leads to cultural theft and appropriation, spiritual materialism, and the silencing of authentic native voices. Worse, we spread this dysfunction to others, including people of color, through the dominance of Western cultural values.

Read the rest here: Tribes of “Europe” – Why Decolonize?: