Binding

like rosebushes around your ribs,
pressing against your chest like you’re slow dancing.
There is something romantic in this breathlessness,
the slight rasp it evokes; you feel like you could burst.
Your body could become a firework, the kind that makes your ears ring,
and there is something freeing in that destruction.
It is not safe this way, tape clinging to you like it’s afraid you’ll leave,
but the marks it leaves have always been there­ hidden beneath your skin like kids beneath their
blankets on Halloween, imagining what the monsters under the bed look like.
In this moment you alone own your body, allowed to twist
it away from him, but more importantly, towards her.
When it hurts so bad your ribs fold like a dollhouse,
and you’ve stolen too many breaths from the Duane Reade,
You take it off. It feels like…


Cole Neufeld is an emerging writer, and currently studying in New York. They’re a sexual abuse survivor and often explore the after effects of trauma in their work- particularly in interaction with gender. They write poetry and short fiction, all within the lens of functioning outside the binary as a visibly queer individual. They identify as a non-binary lesbian and delve into the intersection and crashing of those two identities.

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Orbits

I.

In your own chaos

you reached out

recognizing

the imminence

of mine.

 

Your unexpected touch

turned my gaze.

Eyes locked

we previewed

the bitter darkness to come

–the night in which

your lamplike eyes

would be my only lantern.

 

Together,

you said.

 

II.

Night did come

(your premonitory accuracy

still astounds me).

Hand on my heart

the second time.

 

Together,

you reminded.

 

III.

Your warmth still

tethers me

to sanity–

even on days

when I teeter,

even

when the precipice calls

and I flirt

with answering.

 

IV.

Still one act away

I hesitate

in the shadows of creativity,

my longing

preparing me for another night.

Will I greet her

with your eyes

to guide me?

Or

will your lanterns be

swallowed

by a sea of darkness

in Act V?

 


Malo is a queer artist who oscillates between the fear of being discovered and being forgotten.

Immigration Raids: Know Your Rights

Some of our editors have been attending trainings from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Given the current climate, we wanted to post a few useful takeaways from these sessions.

*Disclaimer: This is not legal advice*

ICE raids are more and more likely. Know what to do in the following places.

At Home

If agents come to your home, they must have a warrant. If someone comes to your door, do not let them in. Instead, tell them to slip the warrant under the door. If they don’t have a warrant, they will likely leave. If they do, read over it before you open the door. They will often only have a warrant for one person, but once they are in your home they can question anyone there. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent. More information in English / Spanish.

 
At Work
Agents are again supposed to have a warrant, as well as permission from your employer to enter. Running away may be seen as an admission of guilt. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent. More information in English / Spanish.
 
On Public Transit

We’re hearing reports of ICE raids on public transit systems, primarily in metropolitan areas. *These are not confirmed. If anyone can confirm, please contact us.* People are reporting on social media that transit authorities are checking to make sure people have a valid ticket; those who don’t are removed from public transit and met by ICE agents. Have a valid ticket on all public transit. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent.

 
If You Are Detained
You can print and carry this card.
capture
From CASA of Maryland, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild.
 
ICE agents may try to pressure you into signing documents by stating that it will make proceedings go faster. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Ask to speak to a lawyer.
 
You can ask for a bond hearing to be released on bond instead of staying in detention.
 
How to Prepare
  • If you can, save as much money as possible. You may need it for legal fees, paying bond, or taking care of your family if you are deported.
  • Find and carry the information of an immigration lawyer on you at all times.
  • Develop a safety plan. Who can pick up your children from school if you are detained? What will happen to your possessions if you are deported? Who will care for your children or pets? You can use this family safety planning worksheet, or this child/youth safety planning worksheet.
  • Collect all immigration documents (passport, visas, etc.) as well as documents showing how long you have been in the country, such as utility bills or leases. Keep these in a place where a friend or neighbor can find them and bring them to you should you be detained.
  • Talk to coworkers, employers, or your union to discuss what will happen if your workplace is raided.

 

Rights of Trans People in Detention
You have the right to gender-appropriate clothing, transition-related care, and HIV medications. You also have the right to choose the gender of any officer conducting a strip-search. You have the right to be safe from sexual assault or harassment and to not be placed in isolation. These rules are not always enforced. Lambda Legal has more information on trans immigrant rights.

For LGBTQI People & People Who Are HIV+
There may be free legal help available from Immigration Equality – English, Spanish, French, Russian.

You can find more detailed information on protecting yourself from immigration raids in English or in Spanish.

Be safe. Be strong.

In Solidarity,
-Editors

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.