Untitled by Moss

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“Wish You Were Here” by Moss. You can peruse and buy their art here.

my head against the van window/i hear snippets of conversation/“…jenner”/“i just don’t understand that sort of thing”/the conversation moves on/as these conversations do/i say nothing

the bathrooms here are unisex/i hear a parent say to their child/“these are for men and women”/i look at the bathroom sign/i am the white line in between two defined areas/i say nothing

“and the waves of conversation/laughter/shouts/around me are suffocating”

i can’t find the people i came with/and the waves of conversation/laughter/shouts/around me are suffocating/i went to the ocean once and was knocked over by waves/even now i can feel the riptide tugging at me/my phone is dying/i find a quiet spot and say nothing

the city is stretched out before me/i find some solace in its multicolored lights/i find more in the calm living darkness above it/lit softly by stars/3 students take pictures next to me of themselves/of the cityscape/laughing

“are you ok”/i am fine/(i am not fine)/(i am thinking about so many things)/the thin white line drags me down into its riptide/overheard conversations rise to greet me/i say nothing/and keep walking

morning comes/as mornings do/and music is the background for it/breakfast is content and filled with coffee/and meaningless words

“just what i like to see; beautiful women in a kitchen”/presumptions and assumptions/the thin white line is here as well/cutting off the words in my mouth/i say nothing and drink coffee

“why should i be careful / they were as careful as they should have been & they are dead still”

“our thoughts and prayers”/”be careful”/i am not careful/why should i be careful/they were as careful as they should have been & they are dead still/i wrap cardboard boxes/thinking of other boxes made of wood/and say nothing

“i am angry”/”i am sad”/god, i am terrified/i know i don’t belong/i say a few words and eventually they all come pouring out/i am on the bathroom floor texting my family/my sister asks my pronouns/my brother calls me by my name

i still feel that thin white line/but it is thinner now/the riptide is still there but i can swim in the ocean/i speak my thoughts/i keep walking forward/even as the water rises


Moss lives in a weird little room in a weird little house in a weird little city where it rains a lot. Sometimes they make tacos at night while swigging orange juice straight from the carton, in clear defiance of sanitation and a sense of human decency. They think the world is equally weird and beautiful, and they try to make art that is certainly weird and maybe a little beautiful. Their digital art can be found at redbubble.com/people/kmossifer

Love and Peace From Our Editors

Amidst the holiday love and cheer, we’re also hearing reports of abuse, misgendering, fighting and feuds, or not having a place to call home at all. If you are having a tough time with your families, if you don’t have family to go to this time of year, or if you are lonely, know that your family at the Gendertrash Café loves and supports you.

The shifts in weather and lighting can bring on an onslaught of changes in mental health and affect, so be gentle with yourself.

For those of you who have support, please reach out to friends or family members who may be struggling. Check in; ask what they need and how you can help.

Happy holidays if you celebrate, and we wish you a smooth transition to winter.

And remember to keep it trashy.

– Love and Peace from the Gendertrash Team


If you are experiencing suicidal ideation please call Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), or text “Go” to the Crisis Text Line (741741.)

On Disclosure

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series about discovery/disclosure and the complexities of learning to how, when, and to whom to disclose various aspects of the self.


Labels and I have never been strangers. We have been intertwined in an elaborate series of dances, negotiations, bitter arguments, crying fits, and desperate bargaining. While I lacked the vocabulary necessary to describe my gendertrash identity, class-based language was freely available. The brutal thrashing of situational poverty and middle class aspirations introduced me to code switching.

To name is to (dis)empower. My bicultural education and consciousness began mid-transaction at the local grocery store as I watched my mother carefully tear along the perforated lines of actual food stamps. The entire store went painfully quiet, even the squeaky shopping cart wheels could not penetrate the overwhelming silence. It was as if an alarm went off with every disconnection of the small tabs connecting one stamp to another. All eyes were on us. Blood rushed to my face and ears as I sat on the small plastic seat of the cart with my legs straddling the cold metal. I didn’t understand why I was suddenly overheating. My mother’s fingers fumbled to complete the delicate task of removing the correct number of stamps. I could see her shame.

No. It was not her shame. Fuck that. Humiliation was inflicted upon her, a single mother of three, by the judgmental assholes behind us in line.

Their faces further recoiled as the cashier dropped the handful of small coins into my mother’s hand (food stamps were even dollar amounts). Welfare queen. These coins were precious. Desperately collected each month with each transaction. If she saved enough we could afford toilet paper because food stamps could only be exchanged for food and she made “too much” money to qualify for cash assistance.

“We’ll make it work.” A slogan? Mantra? No, it is the battle cry of the impoverished.

“I found myself crossing the threshold of working class poverty into the twilight zone of the middle class when I went to school.”

I never went hungry and always had a roof over my head. Though, I found myself crossing the threshold of working class poverty into the twilight zone of the middle class when I went to school. Relatives paid for my siblings and I to attend a private religious elementary school. I learned quickly that I was out of my league.

I was six when I was taught my first personal lesson about disclosure and code switching. The playground glowed green, gold, and red with the bright sun of a fall afternoon. I don’t recall the question asked of me, only the unfiltered answer: My parents were divorced because my biological father had sexually abused my two older sisters.

Liar!

The brisk autumn air stung my lungs and rendered me speechless. Was it this cold ten seconds ago? The moment was gone as quickly as it came. My reputation firmly established.

I did not realize this was the lens through which my peers would continue to view me until middle school when I absentmindedly brought the subject up again. The look on my classmates’ face was of disbelief and horror. All this time they legitimately thought I had fabricated the story. They thought I said that to get attention.

“The world was not to be trusted with my most vulnerable parts.”

Attention seeking behavior. I didn’t want their fucking attention. From that moment on I only wanted to disappear. The world was not to be trusted with my most vulnerable parts. The second or third hand bright pink cat sweater, unintentional high-water jeans, and off-white sock covered toes protruding from my beloved blue faux suede shoes betrayed me and put my class status on display for everyone to see. I had to control what I disclosed about my family and myself. I listened intently to what was perceived as acceptable. Still I failed. Often.

People watching. I continued to listen and watch the people around me everywhere I went. They all knew something I didn’t. Where do I being to probe, peel back, examine, dissect, and question? I could rarely muster the strength, courage, or confidence to raise my hand in class. My body became heavy, heartbeat quickened, face flushed, throat constricting, hands and legs started shaking both chair and table, and finally the moment came. All eyes were on me. The tremble in my voice was not subtle nor my question succinct. I exhaled my mustered confidence and gazed down at my oversized sweatshirt, fingers desperately searched the discolored ribbed cuffs for an escape route.

When would I learn? Silence was safe and insulating but quickly became isolating and cold — like that rush of autumn air when I was six. Did anyone else feel as small, unintelligent, unworthy, and undesirable? Surely my life could not be the only one falling apart. My classmates must be hiding too.

“Hide-and-seek was never my game.”

Fortress of solitude. Hands clasped around closed eyes, I rocked back and forth faintly whispering, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me, if I can’t see them, they can’t see me,” in a desperate attempt to self-soothe. But they always found me. Hide-and-seek was never my game.

Unknowingly, I hid in the center of rooms surrounded by microphones and fact checkers. Well-intentioned, but thorn-covered hands occasionally broke through the crowd. A conditional respite that drew blood one too many times. Frustration bubbled over when I could not “reasonably” explain my sullen emotions, explosive behaviors, and spectacular failings. I withdrew even further into myself thinking safety could be found within. I found my hiding place, but it was already occupied.

Faggot. I was 11 years old the first time I was called a faggot. The sun was casting beautiful expressions of yellow, orange, and red across the playground as we held hands under one of the tall trees marking the oppressive border of the school grounds. Our matching bowl-shaped haircuts often made us indistinguishable from one another at a distance and in crowded hallways between classes.

The trance of sunset was broken by the shifting of greased bicycle chains and gears as they approached us with long blond hair, spotless white sweatshirts, boot flared jeans, and tennis shoes there were clearly not purchased at Kmart. I waved as they approached. They were, after all, a year our senior and lifelong members of the popular club, and I was hopelessly optimistic.

“I did not understand why this one word had broken him, had broken us, creating a cavernous divide between us…”

Brakes engaged, tires squealing, her voice rang out and I suddenly became aware of how heavy my stomach was. How did she know? Our relationship ended abruptly a few days later on a quiet side street as we walked toward a local park. I did not understand why this one word had broken him, had broken us, creating a cavernous divide between us, with caution tape and large flashing orange signs shouting “CAUTION: DO NOT ENTER.”

When tomboys were cool. This was the beginning of my education in middle school gender politics. It was my final year of being one of the guys. I had already learned that I could either date boys or continue to act like one. I chose the latter. We exchanged crude jokes and secretly passed the latest Mad Magazine from one to another behind the large oak tree near the unforgiving metal playground equipment. Chasing each other from one end of the playground to the other acquiring grass stains and exchanging copious hair-frizzing noogies. I thought I was free.

“Strangers no longer defaulted to masculine pronouns and instead became emboldened, empowered, and justified in asking what I was.”

What are you? Shoulders forward, head down, my white-knuckled hands gripped the hem of the community college t-shirt that extended to my mid thigh. My prepubescent ambiguity had been non-consensually taken by newly emerging breasts. While my feminine peers excitedly picked out training bras and capped sleeved, skin tight t-shirts, I was quickly running out of options. Strangers no longer defaulted to masculine pronouns and instead became emboldened, empowered, and justified in asking what I was. No one ever asked who I was, not that I could have answered that question either.

Checking the mail. I loved being the first one home after school because I got to check the mail, not to mention the precious few minutes of having the house to myself.

Water bill, mortgage statement, bank statement, credit card offer, grocery store coupons, and a Teen People magazine. My paternal grandparents had gifted me this subscription assuming that, as a 15 year old girl, I would appreciate it. I scoffed at Josh Hartnett’s pretty little face on cover, wondering, who legitimately reads this garbage? My saunter down the driveway came to a halt as I read the lower right hand corner of the cover, “Born with the wrong body: Transgender teens answer your questions.”

“Even though my questions had not been entirely answered, at least I knew that I was not alone.”

I re-read the story three times behind the locked door of my bedroom before the weight of excitement and anticipatory terror settled in my body. Even though my questions had not been entirely answered, at least I knew that I was not alone. I was gendertrash.

Now what? I had to tell…someone. Anyone. Who could I trust with this fragile little being I had hidden away so carefully for 15 years? Nervously, I knocked on her office door. The warm glow of the lamp created a notable threshold between it and the cold florescent hallway. My heart beat wildly until it was all I could hear. Just say it. You practiced this line all weekend. Don’t waste her time with bullshit silence, spit it out!

Relief and unprecedented panic. All of the sudden my depression, suicide attempt, and self-harm “made sense.” This disclosure of my trans identity was the first of many. Close friends and family were largely unsurprised and generally supportive. Hell, I only lost contact with half of my biological family, save for a few “pray the gay away” articles and brochures I received in mail.

I had renewed my relationship with disclosure on what I thought were my own terms. Maybe now disclosure would be my choice.

(I was wrong.)

To be continued…


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K.M. Shultz is a transfabulous activist and future clinical mental health counselor. Currently, he works with college students with disabilities to make campuses more accessible. His true medium is mixed-media art, but he’s starting to dabble in writing.

Fluff

Preface: I’ve spent most of the last four weeks dealing with an apocalypse that we never believed was coming. The first days, it was trauma and acute care, “LGBT Battle Medics, check your circles!” just making sure people were safe. Talking each other off the ledge we suddenly found ourselves on. Meeting with like-minded folks to plan on how to deal with those who might be suddenly homeless or on-the-run. As the weeks have gone on, fatigue is setting in.

As a straight, cisgender woman I work with said, “It just won’t go away, it’s always there, sucking my emotional energy away.” People are blowing up at meetings, losing stuff, getting in car accidents, drinking way too much, and the inauguration is still six weeks away. Me? I have a nursing job that entails making rapid decisions at high speed with minimum data. It’s something I’m really, really good at, and lately, I’ve just plain sucked. I’m back to meditating every day, doing tai chi at lunch, and it’s helping. When a new snowboard arrived on my doorstep, something I’d ordered back in February, I thought, “What the fuck?! This life is over.” But, there was a set of bindings on the shelf, and I went about mounting them anyway, while thinking about how this particular board came to be, and writing always helps.


“Oi! I found another one!”

I looked up, startled. I had just gotten off the summit lift at Stratton Mountain, and was buckling into my second demo board of the day. A woman on an Alpine snowboard in a bright blue helmet came up alongside me in the water and slush where I had stopped, took a hard look at me, and called back to her companions like a biologist on a collecting trip that’s just found another rare mushroom. She turned back to me. “I’m Steph. Coming on the women’s ride?”

Busted. “Um. . .I’m Gail. Uh, sure.”

“Great! Come on, we’ve got just enough time to get back to the base lodge. I think we’ve got about eight women.” Steph took off at good speed, a study in incredible grace and skill in truly disgusting conditions, and I followed as best I could on an unforgiving, unfamiliar board through ice running over with water.

Doesn’t it just figure, I thought to myself. I had originally planned on three days at the East Coast Expression Session, the every-other-year gathering of hardbooters- Alpine snowboarders- at Stratton Mountain, but had only been able to get one day off work. I badly wanted to demo a bunch of boards for my return to snowboarding, and was planning on doing a Harry Potter, riding the lift alone, making no noise, and pretending I didn’t exist. So, of course, I almost immediately ran into Steph and her husband, the organizers of the event. Steph had announced the women’s ride on the forum, and I said I’d be there, but I’d been having second-third-ninety-ninth thoughts and was planning on just fading into the slush and not showing up for the ride. It’d be easy because I didn’t know anyone outside of the online forums. No chance now.

Sigh. It had been a tough winter, so far. Divorced in the fall from my transmale spouse, I had spent most of the winter being miserable and hating the cold. How was this possible? Thirty years in the ski industry, I had lived for winter more than half of my life. The two seasons my spouse and I spent motorcycle racing had ended that, and nearly everything else. It just wasn’t possible to focus on anything other than racing. I had sold all of my Alpine gear, which hadn’t brought much, admittedly. It’s a small community, and evidently shrinking. For my very tentative return to snowboarding, I had bought some ragged, beat-up gear on eBay to see whether I could remember how to ride, spent a hilarious afternoon at Sunapee finding out that I did, and wrote about it on the forum under my usual nickname: HammerWoman. I decided rather late to go to Stratton for this event, and so, wound up with only one day.

“My trans activism was getting to the point where the boundaries between my activism and my personal life were slipping.”

It wasn’t the time constraints that had me skipping the women’s ride. Like I said, the winter had been tough. My trans activism was getting to the point where the boundaries between my activism and my personal life were slipping. Had slipped, actually, and I had realized it possibly too late.

Years before, a couple of trans friends and I had declared the first Friday of every month to be First Fridays with Gail, or Freaks Night Out. This was a by-invitation gathering of trans friends and partners hosted by me at some local restaurant or other; some of those outings have passed into legend, and are mentioned in the acknowledgements of (so far) one book. Oh, and when a writer friend puts his phone on “record,” sets it down and says, “Tell me story. . .” well, you’re on your own. Then, in the fall, I had begun a support group for “all who transgress gender,” and inevitably, it became hard to tell the support group from the Friday Night Freaks and vice-versa, and assumptions started to get made about what was okay, and, well, I eventually had to put my foot down, and Freaks Night Out was no more.

“It had been so long since I’d just allowed myself a day off, to just be a, well, to just be a woman with no asterisk, warning label, or speculation about the origin of my breasts or the configuration of my genitalia.”

I had watched this happen to friends in the past. Of course, I was still doing panel discussions, presentations, etc., whenever anyone needed some gendertrash to gawk at, I was posting trans-related stuff on Facebook pretty frequently, and when the aforementioned friend’s book came out and I wound up coming out kind of unexpectedly at one of his readings to a cute dyke that had expressed an interest, I’d kind of had it. This big, bad transactivist needed a damn day off. Look, I’m just not as tough as Sophie Labelle. I’m not. I wish I was. It had been so long since I’d just allowed myself a day off, to just be a, well, to just be a woman with no asterisk, warning label, or speculation about the origin of my breasts or the configuration of my genitalia. All the same, going on the women’s ride without that label felt like cheating, somehow, yet here I was, climbing into Stratton’s eight-pack gondola with seven other women, making introductions. What a group! Heavy hitters, here, a former national-class racer, shop owners, all really experienced riders, and me with only a few runs in my return to the sport, swapping to a new unfamiliar board about every other run. And the rain fell in sheets, and the wind howled around our gondola car. When we were on the hill riding, we didn’t notice the weather, and in the gondola on the way up, we were too busy laughing. Talk turned to the online forum, and I got a huge surprise. “You’re HammerWoman? We love you! You’re hilarious!”

And what riding. Whoa, could these women ride. Big variations in body type and board preference led to big differences in style, but all rode with grace and finesse, and did they know snowboards. In between laughing and talking about the runs we were taking was lots of discussion about board design, materials, and designers. They were all dismissive of the boards I was demoing, for sure, especially Steph. “Why do you keep taking out those men’s boards?”

“Men’s boards?”

“Seriously. They’re far too stiff, especially in the nose, and completely unsuited to your riding style. You work with the terrain, and enter your turns softly, varying the edge pressure by twisting the board on its long axis, only giving it full pressure when you’re ready. Or you try to—I can see you fighting those 2X4s you’re riding. Those are designed to just power through everything, and dominate the hill. That’s the way men ride. You’re a woman, you ride like a woman, you need a woman’s board. You need to talk to Bruce.”

“I ride like a woman. How. . . interesting? Strange? Validating? Absurd?”

I ride like a woman. How. . . interesting? Strange? Validating? Absurd? My former spouse had said the same thing, wonderingly, after watching me from the back deck of the Pat’s Peak base lodge, years before, coming down from the mid-station lift. “You have a very womanly way on a snowboard.” I had asked what was meant by that. “I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s obvious that you’re a woman on that board, from as far away as I can see you, and people standing around were asking each other, ‘What’s she riding?’ because they’ve obviously never seen a hardbooter before. They knew you were a woman a quarter-mile away.” Well, yeah I am, but, well, you know, bone structure and all that? And I’ve always ridden this way.

In the end, nobody could seem to find Bruce around the vendor area, so Steph and Andrea marched me into the lodge, and set out to find Bruce, which they finally did. “Bruce, Gail. Gail, Bruce. She needs to ride the Energy board.”

Bruce walked over, big smile, arms wide. “I have to hug you, I’m Canadian.” Well, okay then. Not a reason I’d heard before. It was late in the day by that time, and the vendors were starting to pack up after standing around in freezing water all day, but Bruce swapped the bindings over from the last board I had demoed and brought out the Energy for me, or more properly, a 170cm Coiler Nirvana Free Carve Energy. His wife’s board. The board the women I’d been riding with all day were sure was going to be the answer, the board I’d been looking for. We walked over to the gondola base, and groaned in unison as we hauled ourselves up the metal stairs to the terminal one last time; we were all pretty well exhausted, and I had taken a spill the run before that had seriously tweaked my left knee. I was hoping this board would be at least half-decent; the day had been so good, and I wanted to end on a high note. I seriously didn’t want to look Steph and Andrea (and Bruce) in the eye and tell them the board they thought would be so perfect for me didn’t work me any more than the “men’s” boards. Outside the summit gondola terminal, I kicked myself a platform out of the wind where I could buckle in, and thought, well, here goes, and pushed off down the hill into the flat late-afternoon light.

Wings.

No other word. I could roll over from one edge to the other, initiating turns with the slightest feather touch, and I could feel that touch, like my nerve endings went right out to the edges. . . then I could progressively feed power to the edge until it had everything I could give it, and come out of the turn at full power, only to roll over and just touch my edge on the. . . snow? Hardly. Ice, frozen slush, bulletproof, whatever. Unfamiliar board, horrible snow surface, way too tired, and I’m dancing. I poured on more and more speed, big turns, small turns, even cross-unders.  “Energy board” is right, I thought, and it’s feeding me energy all the way down. All I could do at the bottom was grin at Steph, and at Bruce, who had come out to watch me on the lower part of the run. I handed the board back to Bruce, and have no idea what I said. I’m sure there was at least another hug.

“I had spent the day wrapped in love and belonging, and I’d had a panel of expert women riders declare that I ‘ride like a woman.'”

I changed out of the demo boots, and took them out to Angie and Jim of Bomber Outfitters, who wanted a quick review of all the boards I had ridden. I was honest, and when I declared the first board I had ridden that morning, the one I had done the most research on and went there mainly to pick out the size, as “completely horrible,” they nodded, and said they were trying to encourage the builder to discontinue it. I took my gear bag out to my car, and saw that I had a lot of time before the event banquet. I felt better than I had in longer than I could remember, and I wandered around the “village” of hotels and restaurants and retail shops at the base of Stratton, not wanting it to end.  Snow? Pathetic. Weather? Miserable. But I’d found the board that was the answer, and most important, I had spent the day wrapped in love and belonging, and I’d had a panel of expert women riders declare that I “ride like a woman,” and they were even able to tell me what that meant. We all sat together at the banquet, laughed some more and talked and flirted and the next morning I emailed Bruce and ordered my new board. He had watched me ride his wife’s board, asked me what I liked about it (and didn’t), how much I weigh, all that, and the final design of the board would be tweaked a bit to match.

Nine months on, and the board conceived that day has finally been birthed. Bruce only builds one batch of boards a year, and there were multiple emails giving progress reports during the spring, summer, and fall while I healed from a Roller Derby injury and the political circus played on. Last Friday, UPS delivered a long, thin package, and my new board, with the retro-longboard hibiscus graphics (chosen by me, of course) arrived on my doorstep. I’m pretty content, usually, to have more questions about identity and gender than answers, but I’ve never had an answer about my identity quite so amazing as this beautiful board with my initials in the serial number and “HammerWoman” in sparkly silver letters on the nose. It’s just a thing, I know, but it’s also a reminder of one of the most perfect days of my life.

“I’m not expecting—or pretending—that life is going to go along as normal from here. It certainly isn’t go the way we were hoping; that possibility is already gone.”

On some levels, getting ready to play in the snow seems ridiculous right now. I’m not expecting—or pretending—that life is going to go along as normal from here. It certainly isn’t go the way we were hoping; that possibility is already gone. How long I have before they come for me, I have no idea, but I’m going to continue my work in our community until they do. And I’m gonna rock this board.


Gail Catherine Piche is a nurse, support-group facilitator, musician, and occasional writer. She can usually be found on a motorcycle, roller skates, snowboard, or crutches, and can be contacted via Facebook.

Still, We Keep Dancing

Editor’s Note: Systemic violence can be just as devastating as interpersonal violence. Large swaths of the media have resorted to victim blaming. They point to issues of building codes, while failing to acknowledge the rampant poverty and structural violence that leads to the necessity of living, working, and otherwise using condemned spaces. We’re strongly reminded of the victim blaming that occurred after the UpStairs Lounge arson in the 1970s. This piece helps to contextualize the idea of safety in the face systemic violence.


For the fallen Ghost Ship warriors

We used to have places where we could love. The bars were ours. The bathhouses were ours. The clubs, and the studios, and the bookstores were ours.

The places where we fell in and out of love, where we learned what it meant to be hard or soft, where we could let our hair down (or shave it off) have all been coopted now. Still, we keep dancing.

Apparently, since some of us can enter into monogamous unions, “We no longer need the old bars.” You heard ‘em: Hang up your sequins and eyeliner, and let’s find ourselves a great accountant. (Our taxes have just gotten too darn complicated to do ourselves ever since we bought the summer home in Boca.)

“But some of us didn’t wrap ourselves in red, white and blue even though SCOTUS said we could.”

But some of us didn’t wrap ourselves in red, white and blue even though SCOTUS said we could. Instead, we lost our friends amidst the centerpieces and cake toppers. And when there honeymoons were over and they moved to the suburbs, their apartments were rented out to the woman who called the cops when she smelled marijuana in the building, to the man who harassed the trans women on the first floor, to the couple who would feel safer raising their son in the building if there were a neighborhood watch so let’s just get a petition going around the building to implement our own self-sanctioned surveillance, okay?

Our buildings got remodels, and so did our rent prices. Our neighborhoods turned into high rise apartments—mixed-use developments with washer/dryer in unit, a 24-hour yoga studio (for residents only), and great views overlooking Whole Foods. Our neighborhood clubs (well, those that survived) started catering to “anti-racist” white boys with dreads and no sense of irony, to straight girls who thought gay boys were “adorable” but who were uncomfortable at the sight of dykes, and to the sort of queers who don’t call themselves “queer.”

As the established clubs were appropriated before our eyes, we formed new clubs. Informal clubs. Raves at discreet locations.

We kept dancing still.

Friday nights became a blur of loud music and wild dancing. Hookups and free love. Hugs and screams when we saw old friends. Drinking and party drugs. Hey grrrl and love your shoes and stay safe out there tonight.

When the news of Pulse broke, we reminded each other to keep dancing, and dance we did. We danced to remember and to forget. We danced until our feet hurt. We danced until we wore tracks in the floors of whatever condemned warehouse, or old barn, or rented gymnasium we were in that night.

And we keep dancing still.

For the artists, the underground musicians, and the queers, dancing is harm reduction. We dance any chance we get. We dance to celebrate and we dance when we don’t have anything left to celebrate. We dance whether or not it’s safe.

“When you’re queer, safety is relative. We keep our bouncers on the lookout for biggots and cops; no one has time to worry about exposed wooden beams.”

When you’re queer, safety is relative. We keep our bouncers on the lookout for biggots and cops; no one has time to worry about exposed wooden beams.

Our rainbow #Pulse tattoos remind us that in clubs with state-of-the-art sprinkler systems, we still get shot. So we dance where we can, when we can, for as long as we can.

And we’ll keep dancing still.


E.L. Axford is an angry, Roller Derby DykeTM who would prefer to keep her identity a mystery before her online persona gets her real-world persona into more trouble than she can handle. When she’s not angry (which is rarely) she enjoys drinking loose-leaf tea.

Trans After Trump

If it’s not too cliché to say, the past few weeks have left me reeling. It’s as though I’ve been swimming in a bog, unable to crawl out of the political morass and onto firm ground. Every time my head surfaced, I was dragged back down again by the ensnaring grasp of some terrible swamp creature.

I think I’ve finally clawed my way back out of the quagmire, and while my footing is still shaky, my spirit is stronger than ever. I’m ready for the long haul.

Since the election news broke, I’ve heard a number of trans folx discuss their intents to detransition. I’ve had two queer friends decide to go back in the closet. I had a colleague come out to me for the first time, only to tell me that the political vitriol we’re witnessing is the reason she never plans to come out publicly. A friend of a friend died by suicide.

“In times as turbulent as these, you need to do whatever you can to keep your precious selves safe.”

I sincerely hope that none of the people listed above will be given an ounce of grief for their decisions. And, dear reader, if you decide to stay in the closet, go back in the closet, go stealth, detransition, or end your existence on this plane I could never harbor any ill will toward you. In times as turbulent as these, you need to do whatever you can to keep your precious selves safe. (Note: I’m not advocating suicide, but I understand it as a tactic of preserving one’s spirit or soul from further torment. For some, it’s a method of harm-reduction on a cosmic scale. If you are struggling with suicidal ideation please call the Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, or text “Go” to the Crisis Text Line: 741741.)

For others, closets are no longer an option, or they aren’t the route we’d take even if we could. Some of us are safer out of the closet than in.

Some of us have the option of going stealth. Some wish we could, but lack the ability.

Some of us can’t detransition, some won’t, and some feel like we don’t have enough miles on the clock to trade in just yet.

Personally, I have no intention of detransitioning, going stealth, or heading back into the closet, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’m on the f*cking grid, and no amount of scrubbing my social media is going to make my trans status any less public. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, more than ever, the younglings coming behind us need examples of what it means to be a gender transgressor, a visible trans person, or an out queer.

“I was trans before Trump was elected, I’ll be trans during the fiasco of the next four years, and I’ll sure as hell be trans after.”

I was trans before Trump was elected, I’ll be trans during the fiasco of the next four years, and I’ll sure as hell be trans after.

And that, friends, is the key thing to remember. There will be life after Trump: we just have to make sure as many of us as possible are around to see that glorious day.

It’s daunting to know that we have a fight ahead of us. We’ll need the full support of our communities and our chosen families to make it through the coming months. It will take humor and self-care. It will take bravery, creativity, and an abundance of love.

We don’t know exactly what’s coming, but one way or another, the Gendertrash Café will be around for whatever lies ahead. Feel free to join us.

In love and solidarity,

-Jack


Jackson Wright Shultz is an educator, activist, and the author of Trans/Portraits: Voices from Transgender Communities. He can usually be found teaching writing to college students, working on nerdy research projects, or playing with his obnoxiously-large Newfoundland dog. You can read more of his writing on the higher ed blog, Conditionally Accepted.