sex & gender

Mirha-Soleil Ross on Justice for Sex Workers and Nonhuman Animals

Today (Dec. 17) is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. In honor of this day I'd like to share some excerpts from a couple of interviews with Mirha-Soleil Ross, a vegan, transsexual and sex worker justice advocate, regarding her seven-part monologue, Yapping Out Loud: Contagious Thoughts from an Unrepentant Whore. In Yapping Out Loud, Ross addresses "anti-prostitution discourses and campaigns, detailing the way they impact, often tragically on prostitutes' working conditions and lives." In the following excerpts Ross confronts the anti-sex worker discourse in relation to nonhuman animal advocacy. (Read more...)

Our Bodies and Lives: Questioning Cissexual Politics

Right after I drafted my response to the attack on transsexual men in pattrice jones' Aftershock, I came across a blog post perpetuating the same vegetarian-ecofeminist cissexism and transphobia.

Lagusta Yearwood posted about the boycott of Feministing, expressing doubt about the site's transphobia:

Claims of extreme transphobia and hostility toward trans women on the site: I can't claim to have read all of the long long long threads that the pages I've seen link to (and if you have specific examples of the perceived horrible treatment of trans women on the site, I'd like to see them), but man oh man! Trans issues are complex for a lot of cisgender people, myself included, and I appreciate Feministing's attempt to work through the more nuanced and complicated aspects in an inclusive way. Also, it seems that most of the problems people are having take place in the comments, and it seems ridiculous to blame the site for that.

Yearwood's doubts cannot be assessed without considering the cissexism and transphobia of fundamentalist "radical feminists" (radfems) in propagating a discourse that perpetuates anti-transsexual repression/oppression. This includes Yearwood's own active participation in perpetuating this hateful discourse about our bodies and lives. (Read more...)

Our Bodies and Lives: Transphobic Trauma, Transsexual Healing

Following up on how cissexuals dominate and exploit transsexuals' bodies and lives, in her book Aftershock, pattrice jones furthers the vegetarian-ecofeminist cissexist and tranphobic attacks by claiming, "Nowadays, more and more young women – having learned what happens to young girls in today's world – are literally turning themselves into men to protect themselves from violence." Following up in the notes section of her book, jones goes on to say, "Once very rare, female-to-male sex changes have become so common that there's a slang term for those who have gone through the process: FTM."

Yes, violence against women exists and is a persistent problem in our society. But transsexual men do not get sex changes to avoid violence against women any more than trans women transition so that we can experience violence against women. What's disturbing is that in a book that purports to be "Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, a Guide for Activists and Their Allies," jones is in fact perpetuating the cissexism and transphobia that is a significant source of trauma in the lives of many transsexuals. (Read more...)

Our Bodies and Lives: Transsexual Knowledge and Resistance

Cissexuals often opine about what they believe is the reason why transsexuals seek trans-related health care, such as hormones and surgery. This includes speculating about what are the social, political and/or cultural ramifications of our accessing this care. Too often our bodies and lives are seen as a threat to preconceived, cissexual assumptions about the world. As such, cissexism predominates these presumptions about us, and is backed up by a pervasive transphobic system of discrimination, exclusion and violence that oppresses us as a group of people.

In a way, our transsexuals bodies and lives are like contested "colonies." I'm not saying transsexuals bodies and lives are actual colonies – because they're not – but the domination and exploitation of our bodies and lives follows the logic of colonization. That is, external forces are vying for the full or partial political control over our bodies and lives. These "colonizers" include academics, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, feminists, queer theorists, theologians, politicians, pundits and even our own lovers, families and friends, and complete strangers who are constantly applying abstract theory onto our bodies and lives. In effect, these "colonizers" dominate and exploit us, the indigenous group, by seizing our bodies and lives to further theories and political agendas that don't actually account for our lived reality, and yet further our oppression as a group. (Read more...)

The Mobilization Against Fatphobia

The fatphobic billboard reads: Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETAWhat do advocates concerned with obesity, feminists, and progressive vegans, vegetarians and nonhuman animal advocates have in common? These are all people who mobilized over the last week in solidarity with people targeted by a fatphobic billboard ostensibly designed to promote vegetarianism. (Read more...)

Anti-Transsexual Investigations of Embodiment and Bodiliness

I recently got a troubling call for papers (CFP) for a conference titled "Meet Animal Meat." I'd just ignore it if the only things troubling me about this conference were the title and the CFP's academic doublespeak, which privileges professional academics while making it inaccessible to most everyone else. But what really concerns me is that the conference claims to be "Informed by feminist investigations of embodiment and bodiliness" and goes on to identify Carol J. Adams and Judith "Jack" Halberstam as the keynote speakers. So here is a conference claiming to be "Informed by feminist investigations embodiment and bodiliness" and it's two keynote speakers are both unapologetically anti-transsexual – that is, two cissexist feminists who disrespect the "embodiment and bodiliness" of transsexuals. (Read more...)

Transphobia and Pseudo-Allies

Mirha-Soleil Ross describes an encounter with the transphobia of Carol J. Adams specifically, as well as the transphobia of Feminists for Animal Rights (FAR) more generally. In her description of the events, Ross mentions Greta Claire Gaard, whom she calls "an eco-feminist who support trans rights, at least in theory." I think Ross is right to say "at least in theory," as opposed to in practice, and I wonder if "in theory" is even too gracious. (Read more...)

How PETA Exploits Black Men

The juxtaposition of the lynching of Black men and the slaughter of a bull, from a PETA exhibit in 2005, offends many Black people and anti-racist activists who object to the juxtaposition as dehumanizing and representative of White supremacy. Many of those (mostly White) nonhuman animal advocates who defend the comparison counter that those who object to the exhibit are just being "speciesist."

This is a Vegan Issue

On Feministe, Latoya Peterson wrote an inspired post about feminism in the context of other issues and intersectional oppressions. She also talks about running an anti-racist blog in the same context.

When Latoya writes, "I don't think there is any kind of shit that pisses me off more than 'Is this really a feminist issue?'" you could replace "feminism" with "veganism" and that is exactly how I feel. In fact, I'd say that everything Latoya wrote about feminism and anti-racism applies to veganism. (Read more...)

Feminism Beyond Transphobia

I no longer feel that continued education about trans issues within women's communities would change their oppressive behaviors in any significant degree, unless they are actually willing to change. It is not the lack of knowledge or information that keeps oppression going; it is the lack of feminist compassion, conscience and principle that is. -Emi Koyama, "Whose Feminism is it Anyway? The Unspoken Racism of the Trans Inclusion Debate"

When it comes to asking, "What are we going to do about transphobia among feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists?" Emi Koyama just about sums it up. These are people who currently dominate the feminist discourse on nonhuman animals; as authors, speakers (in some cases very well paid speakers), and academic they have a vested interest in continuing the status quo. (Read more...)