Saturday, November 20, 2010

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2010 - California

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  It is a day when we take a moment out of our lives to memorialize the trans people lost this year to (overwhelmingly cissexual) bigotry and violence.  As with previous years most of these victims of violence are women of color; women who live their lives at the intersections of identities which this society too often puts no value on.

I'm not in a great headspace for writing today, but there it is.  And if you are cisgender or cissexual, you should probably take the time to read this post.

Below you will find events going on today and tomorrow in California.  I apologize for not getting this post out sooner, I didn't realize that quite a few cities would be celebrating yesterday instead of today.  If you are able, go out and show the world or at least your town that you will not forget.

Eureka, California
Will be holding a Transgender day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010
4:00pm Vigil at Eureka Courthouse
5:00pm Dinner at The Alibi in Eureka
Fresno, California
will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm
at the Wesley United Methodist Church
(In the John Wesley Hall)
1343 E. Barstow Ave. (Barstow & 4th)
For more information see or call (559) 255-4075.
Riverside, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at the University of California, Riverside.
with a display memorial to commemorate each of the 400 known victims of transgender related violence. This memorial will be posted outside of the Highlander Union Building all week. The LGBTRC (245 Costo Hall) will have more information available about transgender identities. We invite everyone to come check out this powerful display against hatred and violence.
Santa Barbara, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm
on the steps to the sunken garden at the Santa Barbara
County Courthouse on the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu
Streets in Santa Barbara, CA
Everyone is welcome.
San Diego, California
will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance
on Saturday November 20,2010 at 6pm
There will be a candlelight march at 6pm, leaving from the
San Diego LGBT Community Center, followed by a Program f
rom 7-8 pm at the Center.
The Center is located at 3909 Centre St, San Diego, CA 92103.
Light Refreshments to follow the program.
All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
San Jose, California
will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance
on Saturday November 20,2010 at 6:00 pm
at the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center on the Alameda in San Jose.
San Jose, California
will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance
on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm
at the MCC San Jose, located on
484 East San Fernando St..
Sacramento, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 6:30 PM
at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
2620 Capital Avenue, Sacramento, CA. 95816
San Francisco, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
On Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 6:00 – 10:00pm
Start outside of San Francisco City Hall steps @ 6PM
7:30 to 8PM – Street march through the Tenderloin and towards
Ark of Refuge (1025 Howard St.); 8 to 10PM – Trans Community
Celebration @ Ark of Refuge (food, entertainment, music)
Santa Cruz, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm
at The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz
1117 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz CA 95062
ASL and Spanish interpreters provided, Family friendly.
Contact Tara for more information/accessibility concerns:
San Luis Obispo, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM.
Location to be announced (probably Mitchell Park)
Music by Namoli Brennet.
Stockton, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Stribley Community Center Gymnasium
1760 E. Sonora Street
Stockton, CA 95205
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Vicky Kolakowski, Esq.
For directions or for more information, please contact Elena Kelly
at (209) 649-0396, or
West Hollywood, California
Will be holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance event
at 1:30 pm at West Hollywood City Hall,
8300 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
followed by a stroll over to Matthew Shepard Triangle for
speeches and programming until 4pm.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

An update on Oscar Grant's Murderer and the Protests Which Followed: Newsflash, the OPD is Still Fucked Up

So Friday night a friend of mine was arrested at the protests against Police Brutality in response to the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle case (a pitiful 2 years with time taken out for time already served).  I was on the outside trying to get whatever information about her that I could to friends and family (social networking was extremely helpful here, friends and family communicated on Facebook while I gathered info via Twitter and on the latter point I owe a big thank you to Mark who managed to get info from the Sheriff's office that was invaluable, THANK YOU!).

While I could not have possibly been more polite on the phone I was treated with extreme rudeness and condescension by the person I spoke with.  This echoes other experiences my husband and I have had with the Oakland PD, who apparently think it is perfectly OK to be pissed off with someone who is requesting them to perform the duties they are paid to perform.

Well, apparently it only gets worse if they are forced to respond to something as extraordinary as a protest march (/sarcasm).  Just as in the July protests (and with even LESS provocation) the Oakland PD decided the best thing to do in this situation was to force a confrontation with largely peaceful protesters and in many cases treat them with extreme disrespect.

But don't take my word for it!  Listen to someone who was on the inside.

A sample:
This process (of even getting us into the cars) took an hour. The man cuffed in front of me had a renal liver issue, and was about to pass out. The police offer partnered with him was informed of this, and refused to steady him or allow him to sit. He then started to collapse and was allowed to temporarily sit on the ground.
Throughout this process, police were making countless jokes to each other about us, and directly to our faces, including laughing hysterically as they told us that we were all being booked on felonies, an outright lie that they knew was a lie as they had already filled out our booking papers with the misdemeanor of “unlawful assembly.” As water bottles were passed out to the police, many of us requested water. Not only were we were refusedeven those of us with medical conditions, but a policeman near me even poured out a bottle of water on the ground in front of someone who had requested water, and laughed in the person’s face.
When I was finally put into a paddy wagon with 12 others, the driver deliberately drove in an erratic and irresponsible manner, slamming on the brakes suddenly for no reason and swerving just to make us bounce around and hit the hard sides. It was the single most nauseating ride of my life, and that’s no coincidence.
Read it all: Police Brutality at the Oscar Grant Protest on November 5th, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thoughts on two Problematic Wizard Rock Songs

As most of you probably already know, I am currently working on a number of research projects this semester.  One has to do with Wizard Rock, a music genre of which I am rather fond and find really interesting.  Below is an edited portion of the paper I am writing.  Constructive critique is welcome, and please excuse the slightly more academic-y style than usual.

It's interesting to me that despite spending a significant amount of time Googling, I can find no criticism of the two songs I want to talk about today.  Wizard Rock as a subculture has always been, as far as I can tell, very visible and present on the internet and usually even within semi-obscure subcultures like this one there is at least a couple people engaging critically with what they love.

I guess I am going to be that person, for now. Anyone else doing this sort of thing would be a welcome contribution to my research, please link in comments!

I was disappointed (though of course, not surprised) to find that even with all the good this medium does in for a time centering marginalized characters, themes, and identities, it does not "magically" exist outside of negative US and UK social discourses.  In fact, instead, wizard rock sometimes replicates these marginalizing discourses, of which I have two examples.  Both songs come from bands who I regularly hear praised on the wrock podcasts and blogs as “brilliant” and “amazing.”  

First, we have “Ginny Gets Around” by Gred and Forge, which describes Ginny Weasley’s dating adventures from the perspective of her brothers Fred and George Weasley (which the band name is a play on).  This song is entirely independent of the content of the Harry Potter novels, which carries no hint that Fred and George disapprove of Ginny’s dating. 

There are scenes in the novels where Ginny's brother Ron Weasley becomes very upset at witnessing his sister “snogging” her boyfriend Dean Thomas (Rowling 287 - 288), his reaction in the book is clearly complicated by multiple factors, which is quite different from the straight forward perspective of the song.

The first one we noticed was Harry
But we didn’t mind
We didn’t say a word ’cause
You were still playing with fairies
Chasing garden gnomes
And putting Bill’s earring in your nose
But we should’ve paid attention
‘Cause now everybody says…

CHORUS: From Gryffindor to Ravenclaw
That Ginny gets around
Oh, Ginny gets around
From Hufflepuff to Slytherin
That Ginny gets around
She’s the easiest girl in school

Then Michael Corner, he tickled your fancy
He got in your pants, he
Was such a sore loser
And Dean Thomas was such a pansy
And very hand-sy
With his arms all over you, sis
Now we’ve started to pay attention
‘Cause we hear everyone say


And now you’re back to Harry
But we think that’s O.K.
We wouldn’t mind if you married
Then no one else could say… 


Apparently for this particular “incarnation” of Fred and George Weasley, Ginny’s dating habits and “good reputation” are of quite a bit of importance.  And for the Wizard Rocker[1] who wrote the song, slut shaming[2] Ginny Weasley is apparently a source of comedy.  Only marrying her off like a proper “good girl” to the hero of the novels (or within the novels, the hero of the entire world) seemingly will stop the mockery.  This reification of misogynistic patriarchal norms certainly runs counter to the subversive power I have at other times observed in this genre.

In a similar vein is the song “Choko Ono” by The Moaning Myrtles, a band I've seen unabashedly praised even more widely than Gred and Forge.[3]  In this case the target of the song is Cho Chang, a semi-prominent side character who Harry dates briefly.  However, the “device” used to attack Chang is her resemblance to Yoko Ono from the perspective of the character Moaning Myrtle[4] as imagined by the artists.[5]  In this song’s scenario, Myrtle believes that Harry must secretly love her and is only settling for the “second best” Cho Chang. 

When you really like someone
and your chance with them is close to none
Your next best shot’s to find someone
who’s just like them
If a gal reminds you of
the lucky girl you really love

Let’s face it,
I bet you won’t even notice
Now I’ve seen you with poor Cho
and I feel bad because I know
there’s no way that you actually like her

Honestly this girl just cries
because her gorgeous boyfriend died
There’s gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta
be some other better reason

Oh, Cho, oh, no
You see, I understand
Harry actually likes me, sorry, that’s how it goes
Oh, Cho, oh, no
Get away from my man
You’re just getting in the way
You’re my Yoko Ono
Choko Ono–you’re breaking up the band

This scenario is even less consistent with the Harry Potter canon than Gred and Forge’s admonishment of Ginny’s sex life; there is simply no corollary whatsoever to Ono’s frequent accused action of “breaking up the Beatles” with the idea that Cho somehow “stole Myrtle’s man [Harry].”  While there are hints in the book that Moaning Myrtle possibly has a crush on Harry Potter, there are also indications that her behavior stems more from the fact that she simply likes to behave in a way that vexs people.  Still, what the “breaking up the band” reference could possibly be talking about, I cannot fathom.

As with “Ginny Gets Around” there are not so veiled misogynistic elements to “Choko Ono,” directly related to Cho Chang’s expression of her sexuality.  However, there is also an element of racism here that I do not believe can be ignored.  While the song does not make any explicitly racist claims, it relies on racist social tropes which have and continue to demonize Yoko Ono as a Japanese woman partnered with an immensely popular public figure.  Ono's racial Otherness was and is portrayed as dangerous and used as a reason why John Lennon should not have been with her in the first place, thus creating an implicit parallel with the Asian[7] British Cho partnered with our leading man, Harry.  

Another disturbing element to this song is the title, an allusion to enacting violence[8] against female sexual rivals.  As there is quite literally an epidemic of violence against women both in the UK (where the Harry Potter series originates) and in the US (where The Moaning Myrtles originate), an allusion like this one is truly disturbing, and certainly not at all conducive to the “light-hearted” air the song attempts to embody.

[1] Billed as a multi-piece band it is one man named Jarrod behind this music (Gred and Forge).
[2] Here defined as: “shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy).” (Tekanji)
[3] In fact they were ranked 7th for top Wizard Rock bands by MTV. (Vineyard)
[4] So named because she spends her afterlife (she is a ghost) haunting the lavatories of Hogwarts crying and complaining endlessly to anyone who will listen because she was mocked and teased while she was a living Hogwarts student.
[5] A pair of young women named Lauren and Nina (The Moaning Myrtles).
[6] This is a representative excerpt from the song, not the song in its entirety.
[7] Cho Chang’s exact ethnicity is never specified.
[8] To be absolutely clear this is pronounced in the song “choke-oh.”