Thanks to Dan Irving for a generous review of Normal Life in GLQ and to Rachel Levitt for this review of Normal Life in the inaugural issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. I also want to share a new interview that just came out at the Youngist. And finally, thanks to Jordan Flaherty for this excellent Al Jazeera America story about police profiling of trans people. I can’t figure out how to embed the video here so I’m sharing this image of a Trans Day of Action poster that I love instead.
This week a new article by me and Craig Willse went up on Organizing Upgrade that aims to capture some of the important left critiques of marriage that have been obscured by the pro-marriage messages of same-sex marriage advocacy.
Also, this interview about why the new campaign for military inclusion for trans people won’t benefit our movements went up on BuzzFeed. As the President pushes us toward war in Syria, its especially important to build shared analysis about anti-war politics. Military service inclusion campaigns invite us to be the new poster children of a purportedly fair and equal military, meanwhile the brutal violence of US militarism continues around the globe. I am hoping both these pieces will stimulate conversation and be useful among activists and in classrooms.
Earlier this year I was invited to share a manifesto at the Tate Museum in London as part of the Gender Talents show. I couldn’t make it, so I made a video with Basil Shadid to capture some of the themes of Normal Life. The Barnard Center for Research on Women just released the video on their website.
Impossibility Now from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.
The images in it go by quickly so I also made an annotated slideshow that you can watch at your own pace and learn what the images depict. You can also watch the video on youtube to see a version with captions (press CC).
While I was gathering images for the film I got completely stumped a couple times about how to illustrate certain ideas. Two artists came to my rescue and created powerful images that I needed.
This one is from Mickey Dehn.
This one is from Talcott Broadhead.
KPFA did some great programming around Pride this year focusing on critical queer and trans political resistance and critiques of same-sex marriage, gay military service and other hallmarks of wealthy white gay politics. Here is a whole day of programs that aired on Pride Sunday. Here is a show focusing on the critique of same-sex marriage advocacy, including Kenyon Farrow, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and me. In other news, Buzzfeed published a list of 24 Americans Who Changed the Way We Think About Transgender Rights. I’m excited to be on any list with Sylvia, Marsha, Miss Major, Lou and all these other amazing people.
Finally, I am so excited by all the inspiring work being done by Washington Incarceration Stops Here. We are doing an awesome postcard campaign about what people think our county really needs rather than a new youth jail and family court buildings. And we’re building a coalition of groups who have signed on to our Points of Unity. If your organization wants to sign on, no matter where you are, please let us know! We’re also starting a zine so please let us know if you have art or writing you’d like to contribute or if you can help spread the word to people who may want to contribute, especially youth and people impacted by criminalization and child welfare systems.
Big thanks to Robert Nichols for interviewing me for the journal, Upping the Anti. You can read the interview here. Also, the N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change just published a symposium issue about the Perry v. Brown same-sex marriage litigation. I have an article in it about pinkwashing. I also recommend you check out articles by Andrea Ritchie, Gabriel Arkles, and many more.
The amazing and generous Morgan Ztardust has translated my introduction to the new Against Equality book about hate crime law critiques into Spanish. Thanks, Morgan! You can read it here.
The new Against Equality book, Prisons Will Not Protect You, has been published! I wrote an introduction for it which I’ve posted here.
I’m co-teaching a class this semester with Prof. Katherine Franke about the law of occupation and colonialism. The class looks at the occupation of Palestine, US colonialism in Guam, Puerto Rico, North America, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands, the US occupation of Iraq, and more. You can see the syllabus here.
I also wanted to share a new review of Normal Life by Ro Velasquez Guzman in Shameless magazine, and a new blogpost I wrote for SRLP’s blog about how recent debates about gun control and mental health relate to trans politics and criminalization. Finally, HUGE THANKS to Morgan Ztardust for translating “For Lovers and Fighters” in Spanish. The translation is here.
This coming Friday and Saturday I’m heading to Los Angeles for a conference that marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the 10th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas. In advance of the conference, speakers were asked to write blog posts related to the themes of the conference panels we are participating in. These were posted to the Balkinization blog. I thought I’d re-post what I wrote here as well:
Sexual freedom, legal equality and settler colonialism
In recent weeks, the world has been captivated by the emergence of the Idle No More
movement. Indigenous people and their allies in Canada and around the world have been engaging in a wave of protest actions. These protests, which include marches, vigils, road blocks, railway blocks, flashmobs and the prominent hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat, are raising a number of significant issues. Initially, the movement was a response to the Harper government’s introduction of Bill C-45, legislation that would significantly weaken environmental protection laws in Canada. As the movement has grown, its message has broadened to raise questions about indigenous sovereignty and environmental protection more generally, both in Canada and around the world where indigenous people struggle against colonization and environmental degradation.
Movements against colonization raise significant questions for scholars studying the legal regulation of sexuality and family. The imposition of gender norms and family formation norms
and the use of sexual violence
as a tool of war have been significant to processes of colonization. The depiction of cultures and peoples targeted for colonization as “backward” in terms of sexuality and family formation has been a rationalization for colonization, and has often included portraying indigenous women as needing to be saved
by the colonizers from their own families and cultures. These methods and rationalizations are visible in the history of the colonization of North America where the Idle No More movement has been most visible so far, but we can also hear these rationales deployed to justify the war in Afghanistan
, proposed war with Iran
, and in rationales for Israeli settler colonialism in Palestine
These dynamics are particularly interesting in the context of a contemporary gay and lesbian rights framework in the US and its global influence. As many scholars have noted, the gay and lesbian rights framework has increasingly moved toward demands for formal legal equality in recent decades, particularly focusing on demands for military participation and access to legal marriage. There has been a great deal of critique of these demands by a range of feminist, anti-racist, queer and trans scholars. One aspect of this critique that is particularly interesting in the context of the Idle No More movement’s growing momentum is how these demands speak or fail to speak to the quest for sexual freedom for those imagining freedom from an anti-colonial perspective.
Ostensibly, the contemporary gay and lesbian rights agenda developed from the sexual liberation movements of the 1960’s and ‘70’s that are remembered in images from the Stonewall Riots where queer and trans people fought back against police harassment and criminalization. As it developed, its vision of “freedom” has become more aligned with joining the apparatuses of colonial occupation than fighting them. The US military literally operationalizes US colonial and imperial violence, and marriage enforces the family formation norms for the settler colonial state by disbursing essential benefits to the population based on whether we conform to that norm. As the Idle No More movement and other anti-colonial movements such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
continue to grow, queer and trans politics faces interesting questions about how various approaches to conceptualizing sexual freedom relate to anti-colonial agendas that seek to dismantle the apparatuses in which certain lesbian and gay rights campaigns and court cases seek gay and lesbian inclusion. These questions are particularly interesting now, as gay and lesbian people are increasingly articulated as those that need saving
in colonial discourses. Access to legal marriage and military participation for gays and lesbians are now often used as measuring sticks for whether or not a country respects human rights
, and human rights enforcement rationalizations are a popular justification for military intervention. The Idle No More movement’s emergence in this moment provides an opportunity for reflection on the relationship between commitments to sexual freedom and commitments to self-determination and decolonization.