faithfulimage: A photograph of a button displaying a symbol of queer women—namely, an inverted black triangle. (Default)
[personal profile] faithfulimage
Nineteen days before I begin my fast.

I have sometimes found it hard to explain the problems I have with the Chicago Dyke March Collective (CDMC). The difficulty may lie partly in the fact that in many cities Dyke Marches explicitly exclude trans women, so some people initially assume this is the problem with CDMC as well. When they learn that CDMC members have long welcomed trans women, they figure I have sounded a false alarm and resume ignoring the voices that have been critical of CDMC. It does not matter if CDMC has allowed slurs to proliferate at Dyke March or repeatedly shown disregard for a trans woman’s safety, so long as the collective has extended an explicit welcome to trans women. (Apparently not everyone in CDMC has disagreed. After the privacy violation and the other threats to my safety that preceded Shame Weekend I left CDMC and told the collective that safety concerns lay behind my decision to do so. One member’s response was to tell me, “You are welcomed.”)

Should we even be making welcomes the focus of discourse about trans women’s inclusion? According to Wordnet Revision 2.0 “welcome” means “giving pleasure or satisfaction or received with pleasure or freely granted”. Thus, if I am welcome, it is only because of another person’s subjectivity (they have derived “pleasure or satisfaction” from my attendance) or another person’s agency (they have “received” me). Making the presence or absence of a welcome the litmus test of trans women’s inclusion is a route that leads to trans women’s objectification.

What’s the alternative? Ever since I encountered the idea of accountable space in 2009, I have wanted to see the idea accountability gain prominence in activist spaces. People often present the idea of accountable space as an alternative to safe space (as in the Feministing article There are no safe spaces), arguing that no space can be free from violence. Whatever other merits this may have, one benefit I find in making calls to account central to dialogue about inclusion is that it brings the agency of the callers, who may themselves be oppressed people, to the forefront. When trans women settle for being counted among the “welcomed”, we sell ourselves short. The world has been waiting too long for us to put our insight and ability into calling out the people who violate the oppressed.

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faithfulimage: A photograph of a button displaying a symbol of queer women—namely, an inverted black triangle. (Default)
Veronika Boundless

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