A Field Guide to North American Looters

Ah, another uprising in defense of basic dignity for Black folk in America, another scad of racist articles in the American media, curiously absent abroad, about “looting.” “looting”, for those of you unfamiliar with racist dogwhistles, is code for “Black people carrying stuff.” You know, toilet paper, maxipads, diapers…”looting.” Usually someone is unwise enough to take a TV, or someone photoshops it in, and you’ve got the picture that is sent to White America: LOOTERS.

Trouble is, that’s not the looting that’s destroying America. The looting that’s destroying America is being perpetrated by white people and it’s not on the news. It’s being perpetrated by white people and it’s called “economic policy” or “the justice system”  because the GOP has, since the 80s, managed to massage public perception to a point where that  demanded “justice” is conservative and white than it’s been since the 50s. They lost on Jim Crow and keeping Black kids out of school, they lost on slavery and sharecropping, they had to find a new way to put us in our place. And, well, White America’s media, courts, and police…I dare not call them “soldiers”, soldiers have honor in nearly every military…are performing that role. They’re breaking the minds, souls, and lives of Black Americans, and to a lesser degree most people of color in the US. In some places Native folks certainly have it worse, in others Southeast Asians are more policed, but the common thread is that Blackness is being sold to you as more of a threat than ever. Part of selling that threat is the fiction, the racist invention, of “looting.”

So let’s talk about the real looters, instead.

I’ll name five in this post: Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase. Cathy Brennan, a pro-patriarchy fauxminist activist and partner in a Maryland law firm who so happens to represent payday loan scum *and* is a transexterminationist, and her counterpart in the “Men’s Rights” Bowel Movement, Dean Esmay, who isn’t just a transexterminationist, he’s also a misogynist. Andrea James, an HBSer trans woman who believes body policing other trans women is totally cool, and last but not least, Eddie Lampert, the CEO of Sears Holdings, who has pretty much run the Sears/K-Mart empire into the ground. I’ll give you the common thread in the lede: they all think they’re the smartest person in the room, and thus the most able to judge others. I have no idea who actually is, nor is traditional intelligence altogether a good predictor of actual intellectual capacity…hell, my IQ is in the mid-70s (and half of you are all “that explains her sentence structure!”) and I could probably keep up with any of these people…but the smug, self-confident belief that they can get away with it and sell it to the American public should indicate that they certainly believe they’re entitled to it.

And, well, all these people believing that they’re entitled to something…doesn’t that make them looters? (It’s okay, I’m taking it back.)

We’ll talk about Jamie Dimon first. You know, the bank CEO so bad that hedge fund managers can’t stand him. The man who masterminded the killing of Washington Mutual, an FDIC takedown nobody’s really fully explained. Yes, I’m a Pacific Northwesterner and admit I miss my big cuddly bank, so there is a tiny bit of personal sadness there. But you know what? Dimon is emblematic of “I Deserve This More Than You.” We have a ton of bank CEOs in these parts who are about as honest as you can be in the business. But instead, Jamie Dimon, who destroyed WaMu’s corporate culture, customer base, and local roots so that we’d respect his authoritah, shows up here every couple of years, gets protested, and expects the Seattle Times to run a human interest story on how much it’s sad that people would protest a bank CEO. Sure, bump my maintenance fee to $15 a month unless I’ve got 3 grand…hint: I rarely have three grand. Thing is, Dimon believes he’s so smart, but he’s caused a much bigger backlash: people are defecting to credit unions in droves in the Pacific Northwest. You could roll a tumbleweed through the local Chase branch, which tends to have one vaguely-unhappy-looking teller and a couple of platform representatives trying to look busy. Last time I was in one such branch, one of them was reading Reddit at work. Your victory, Mr. Dimon, is Pyrrhic. You got your precious West Coast bank for pennies on the dollar, and now it turns out nobody wanted to be your friend to start with, because your company doesn’t do business in line with our values and priorities…but you got the possession you so desperately wanted. This makes you, by all accounts, a looter…someone who destroys and takes. Or in the case of WaMu, takes and destroys.  Somehow a pack of diapers, which CNN and Faux Snooze think is “looting”, pales in comparison, n’cest-ce pas?

Well, now that we’ve talked about banksters, we might as well discuss the right-hand woman of the subprime lending and payday loan scum lobby, one Cathy Brennan. Ms. Brennan claims the moral high ground of feminism, but is conspicuously absent on multiple feminist issuesI mean, if you believe the National Organization of Women’s opinion of what’s a feminist issue. She works with the Pacific Justice Institute, a forced-birther organization that funds the shameful fraud of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers“, because PJI’s hate for queer people aligns with her own transexterminationism. The irony of Ms. Brennan, an out lesbian, working with an organization deadset against lesbian rights is…rich. I guess maybe I went to Dyke School the day the “don’t cooperate with anti-queer organizations” filmstrip was shown. But we’ll get back to the twisted parody of feminism that Ms. Brennan espouses, because that’s not the only way she tirelessly serves white patriarchy.

See, Ms. Brennan’s law firm specializes in defending the openly racist payday loan industry along with subprime lenders which prey on people of color. Of course, neither of the linked entities are actual clients of Ms. Brennan’s firm. Because some of us know how not to do anything legally unwise…anyways, the payday loan hustle, along with the check cashing industry, with limited well-regulated exceptions, is a looting industry in and of itself. See, banks don’t like doing business in low-income neighborhoods and often make decisions to reject accounts based on geographic location, if someone has bounced checks in the past, etc. Now, habitual fraud? You probably shouldn’t be allowed a bank account…but that’s not what geographical account restrictions are about. The check cashing store or the payday lender preys on the poor and people of color. They’re looters, and that’s also what Ms. Brennan aids and abets the looting of: PoC money, and in Maryland, that’s Black money.

Oh, Maryland. Not just the coolest state flag in the nation, or the blessed place that brought us Old Bay (I put that stuff on everything) but also the place where for some strange reason, Maryland’s Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers don’t prevent any of Ms. Brennan’s passive violence through outing, harassment, and frivolous lawsuits against women of color, a unique wrinkle in Maryland legal ethics. Similarly, I’m not presenting any issues of the activities of her firm’s clients as fact. But Ms. Brennan is a looter, you see. She’s looted feminism, just like her clients loot the hood. She’s made a name for herself in the public sphere through being a transexterminationist, which is her path to glory: doing harm to random people she’s terrified of because of the same belief every radical fauxminist has: punching down will buy them some safety from the patriarchy. Hate to tell you, Ms. Brennan, but they hate us both and patriarchy would burn us both as heretics given the chance.

Speaking of patriarchy and violence, how about one of its top boosters, misogynist-racist-transexterminationist Dean Esmay, Managing Editor for the Misogynist Rights Bowel Movement‘s anointed mouthpiece, “A Voice For Men”? Esmay utilizes similar tactics to Ms. Brennan, engaging in passive harassment, referring to trans women as “self-loathing homophobic gay men”, and of course, normalizing violence against women, which is the endgame of the MRBM. Now, Esmay hasn’t made partner at any law firm, nor is he the CEO of anything other than online harassment for AVFM, at least on days that Grand Wizard Paul Elam can’t be bothered to be the face of the Man Klux Klan. But, like Ms. Brennan, Esmay works to preserve the white supremacy MRAs hold so dear, the divinely gendered world….er, I mean SCIENCE AND CHROMOZOMEZZZZZZZ-gendered world that MRAs cling to, the misogyny that is the stock in trade of the MRBM, and of course they agree on transexterminationism, too. They’re both obsessed with trans women, typical of the MRBM’s ongoing rapey obsession with trans women’s bodies. And yet despite preaching the same gospel of hate, Ms. Brennan and Esmay both cast aspersions on the other. They’re also both very protective of the idea that white gays and lesbians are somehow superior to all other queers,  the same kind of pablum spouted by intersectionally oppressive jerks like Dan Savage. I mean…it’s sort of ironic how well Dan Savage and Dean Esmay line up, but Mr. Savage isn’t advocating my elimination like Esmay does.

How Esmay is a looter is a little more complicated. See, the for-profit organization (which will try to avoid telling you they’re for-profit, just like MRAGamerGate’s for-profit “charity” TFYC) that Esmay works for, A Voice for Men, basically profits endlessly off white male disillusionment and the slow strangulation of the US job market. They’re throwing a $650 a head conference at a secret undisclosed location…and ticket prices are going up. That sounds a hell of a lot like fleecing the white male anger that the MRBM is about to me…plus, there’s nothing cowardly about a secret undisclosed location! I guess they want to keep the location of this year’s atrocities secret for some reason, using yet another Klassic Klan tactic. The reality that the economy is awful is nothing new, it’s been that way since 2008 for much of America, but the MRBM grew quickly when it began selling the fiction that women secretly control everything and we’re why honest hard-workin’ (white) American men can’t get jobs, etc. They use the same tactics the Ku Klux Klan did in the depressed South between wars to recruit “White Americans”, and the MRBM is for all intents and purposes just a high-tech, less-diverse version of the KKK. With, you know, more targets and much more whining about women and the existence of trans people. Oh, and their side project “GamerGate”, an MRA-run, MRA-centered “independent” movement? It’s fleecing the crap out of white male fear too. It’s almost like the scam is consistent, because it *is*.

But instead of burning crosses, they send you dead animals in the mail, or envelopes full of human feces. (I’m positive this wasn’t Esmay’s work, but instead that of whatever white supremacist transexterminationist misogynist MRAsshole mails me that stuff from Bellingham, Washington. Name your own Price for that, I guess.) Instead of claiming that only the “strong” should live, the MRBM tars and feathers disabled people for existing and demonizes people with mental disabilities even more severely. Esmay works for a for-profit business with zero financial transparency looting money from white male anger and working to normalize violence against women and, of course, eliminate trans people, especially trans women, altogether. Esmay is a modern snake oil huckster, except without the snake oil and with no sense of shame about the blood on his hands that his hate movement revels in having. After all, to the white supremacist man, it’s merely the blood of the women and minorities his policies and theology seeks to harm or eliminate.

Speaking of hate and blood, we come to Andrea James. Ms. James, sadly, has fallen from her once preeminent position of providing pretty unbiased information to trans people out in the wild. I thank her for her past service, but what’s become of her, much like her dead-TWoC-looting counterpart Gwen Smith, is somewhat…confusing. I remember the Andrea James who spoke truth to Alice Domurat Dreger and who didn’t, you know, mock trans women for being fat, what we look like, or frame size…you know, back when Ms. James took the high road, she did some great things. Hell, she fought the orthodoxy that created the woman-hating concept of “autogynephilia” and advocated for better access for trans youth. In my heart of hearts, I want to believe she still does that.

Now, well, uh…what happened? I think that Ms. James occupies a special place here, because I didn’t really object to her selling voice training tapes because, hey, a girl’s gotta eat. I’ve heard her condemned for that, and admittedly that’s not a service I needed to take advantage of because I sound like I just inhaled helium when I’m trying to growl, and I don’t think that’s cool. I respectfully request donations to keep my pasty wide butt blogging, and that’s the same thing, although in my case, that’s more like a girl’s gotta drink coffee. I’m not selling, and the blog will be available free forever or until WordPress shuts me down, but the exchange of money isn’t in and of itself evil.

But I think Ms. James saw the revolution coming and sees the “transgender tipping point” as a paycheck. It explains her out-and-out hostility toward anyone else who she thinks might get paid off this revolution, and it does explain her need to ingratiate herself to organizations that do a pretty “meh” job of advancing trans rights with the sphere of queerdom. This is but a theory, mind you, but when you’ve gotten so HBSer that you’re being defended by notorious hatemonger Jennifer Usher, you’re clearly following a party line which includes that a)I’m the manliest man in ManTown, since that’s what HBSers believe, and b)trans women of color are disposable, because that’s what HBSers believe, and c)that treatment for being trans should be incentivized, which…well, that’s what Ms. James used to be against. I’m hoping this is merely a temporary situation, perhaps as post-postmodern art, or perhaps because GLAAD is saying she can’t offend their base, but it’s like when you walk into a bar that you drank at in college and rather than having Genny Cream, Rolling Rock, Bud, and Sammy Adams on tap, they’ve gone upscale, made the stools smaller, the portions way smaller, and they put louvered doors on the bathroom stalls. (This actually happened when I went back to the town I went to college in not long ago. And Genny Cream is decent cheap beer, shut up.) The person who used to stand for us all is now about standing for very few, and is suspiciously now making a much bigger paycheck off of it. I guess we were ripe for the looting, too…

Speaking of places you used to know, have you been to Sears lately? Is there even a Sears near you anymore? How about a K-Mart? My beloved sister suggested that I point you to Eddie Lampert as the last looter in this rogue’s gallery. See, Mr. Lampert, like Esmay and Ms. Brennan, subscribes to a theory that guides his actions. In Mr. Lampert’s case, he’s a firm believer in the words of Ayn Rand. I don’t think Ms. Rand had the world of discount department stores in mind when she suggested warring factions performed best, but Mr. Lampert’s devotion to this cleearly flawed idea has led to the decline of Sears Holdings, the company that for the moment is guiding Sears and K-Mart into the labelscarred void of retail oblivion. (I still miss Ames, dammit.) Mr. Lampert actually has some pretty MRBMish ideas in that you may not question his tack, that he is the one man who makes decisions for a publicly traded company where one man is making some interesting decisions with other peoples’ money (which is kin to the MRBM claiming to speak for all white men), and, well, an odd devotion to a book. Much as the MRBM’s basis is in fundamentalist white Christianity with “God” replaced with “Science” and “chromosomes”, the level of devotion shown to Ms. Rand’s work by Mr. Lampert is pretty much seeing it as theology.

I miss there being a K-Mart in my neck of the woods. It’s a Hobby Lobby now, speaking of theology and hate, but it had good cheap towels and bedlinens, and you could find warm clothing for fat ladies that wasn’t horribly ugly…looking at you, dead shriveled husk of Lane Bryant. But all these people are looters. They’re all white. They’re all upper-class. They’re all able to pretty much buy and sell our souls at a moment’s notice.

When you turn on the TV, and they’re claiming a Black lady walking near a burning store with a pack of (overpriced, unlawfully taxed) maxipads is a “looter”, remember the story they’re selling. They want you to ignore the real looters, and blame Black folks instead. I suggest you keep your eye squarely on the people fleecing America above and their many counterparts…from Ms. Brennan’s partner-in-genocidal-policy Bess Hungerford to Esmay’s genocidal counterparts like Jack Barnes, to the countless CEOs I could have listed, these are the real looters. These are the people robbing your country.

Love my work? Enjoy speaking truth to MRAs? Finally figured out this is the rebirth of the inchoaterica blog? Please consider donating if you can spare a few bucks, and I totally understand if you can’t! Oh yeah, and I’m starting a Patreon soon…as I said, a girl’s gotta drink coffee, and I hear all the cool kids are doing it. Also, this post was 3,000 words…my apologies to your corneas. 

This World Is Not Yours: Being mixed-race and ‘almost white’

I can’t call it, the beats make me falling asleep
I keep falling, but never falling 6 feet deep
I’m out for presidents to represent me (Say what?)
I’m out for presidents to represent me (Say what?)
I’m out for dead presidents to represent me…  -Nas, “The World Is Yours”

I’m about as pale as you’ll find a half-Black person to be, and I’m pretty sure I’m half Black because a Black woman gave birth to me. And, well, in some of the world, I can sit around and pass for white okay as long as I stay unnoticed. I’ve heard Black men argue as to whether I was a sister or a snow bunny behind me, I’ve been represented as both hood as you get and the spirit of gentrification on the same day. I can’t in good conscience say the N word, but I’ve sure as hell been called it.

People often wonder why I’m so angry about white people. Well, first of all because pale-skinned privilege is deep: I can be pretty angry and I won’t get shot for it, whereas you know what happens to the more darkly complected folks when they speak up. They get ridiculed or they get murdered. There’s a reason the paler we get the angrier we are, and it’s not just because white folks either tell us we’re not Black or because a lack of eumelanin leads to more anger, but because we can be, because we’re allowed by society to be. We’re not the ones with targets on our backs in society generally.

Of course, though, you know like any bargain, there’s going to be a catch. There’s always a catch. In my case it’s because I’m trans, and I can’t hide my more African features all that well, and given that most self-anointed trans leadership is white and sticks to HBSer principles or some slightly modified “radical” reskinning of them that’s just as “radically” racist (and ableist while we’re at it) I magically go from could-be-white-could-be-anything-really woman walking down the street to being a man of color in trans space. A man who is ascribed to be a sinister invader who is there to man it up and man all over everything. Damn straight my shoulders are broad, but they’re not as broad as my hips; damn skippy my ass is big because that’s how it works for us genetically…for the most part. Sure my frame is large, but that might be consistent with the not-so-natural selection white people employed on my forebears. See, the idea was to make sure we were strong and had tons of stamina, as slavery was predicated on the workers being, you know, extra strong. My frame looks like my sister’s, like my mother’s. It’s not seen as a huge issue by the general public though people do comment that I’m no small lady, but in trans space, it’s used to take away my gender in the most racialized way possible. Even pale skin over that frame won’t save you here.

It’s pretty well-documented at this point that the basic expected role of trans women of color is to be products for white trans leadership’s consumption. We have a couple of brilliant Black trans women, Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, who are making great strides and that’s awesome. But the thing about Ms. Mock and Ms. Cox is that they’re being used as consumable objects by trans leadership, too. Now, they have every right to do that, and damn skippy they should get paid for it. The reality, however, is that sponsoring one of these wonderful women talking and then ignoring trans women of color until we’re a list of names of dead people…well, it’s par for the course. These ladies speak, and then they go on with their lives. The organization points to having invited them as a shield, because hey look we do care about trans women of color, and then expects the balance of us to go away.

Whiteness is policed so many ways in trans organizations that I’ve lost count. It’s policed in size, because you know the biological fact that Black folk are different in average size than white people is apparently lost on our leadership. It’s policed in grooming, by “chemical-free” policies that are enforced disproportionately on people of color when white people can show up doused in scent without ramification, something I still haven’t gotten an answer on, because there’s no such thing as chemical-free hair product. In fact, there’s no such thing as chemical-free water, because WATER IS A CHEMICAL. (I get that avoiding fragrance has benefits that are many, and agree you should in confined spaces, no kidding. But it doesn’t mean policing people out, or if it does, it means policing all scents out, full stop.) Whiteness is policed in body mass, because for some reason fatphobia is downright encouraged by white trans leadership, perhaps as another way the average HBSer protects the desires and patriarchal fears of the cishet white man by punching down on other trans women, despite the whole reality that we can weigh more, in some cases significantly more, and still be ‘healthy’. Whiteness is policed in academic credentials meaning more than actual work someone has done or is willing to do, even when the academic credentials of people of color are totally ignored by our white leadership. So what are people of color, and forgive me for being particular that I’m talking about Blackness because that’s what I can speak to personally, supposed to do in trans organizations?

One: Don’t be involved.

Two: Die, because Gwen Smith needs bodies for her precious list and still won’t talk about race.

We’re not supposed to be involved, we’re not supposed to find out about safe medical access resources (I’ve been told the ‘working girls’ should tell me by an HBSer, since that’s not a gross way to punch down on sex workers or anything), we’re just not supposed to be there, at all.

We’re supposed to disappear. And when we do that, choosing a quieter life, we’re informed that we owe the “trans community” because we’re disappearing and we can’t deal with the passive violence visited upon us by the white folks who claim to be “anti-racist” but keep enforcing their suburban white middle-class core values in their words, actions, and policies. You can’t be “anti-racist” without it being intersectional, and you can’t claim to be “anti-racist” and still force people to comply with those white middle-class values. I have no clue how to be white. I’ve tried really hard. I’ve straightened my hair, I’ve tried to comply with white grooming standards, I’ve tried to be something I’m not to try to have a little safety. I’ve tried to project less when I speak (because let’s be real here, I’m nowhere near as “loud” in decibels as the white people, and when you call me “loud” it’s fucking racist) and I get yelled at for speaking too quietly. If you can’t speak up, and you can’t use your most indoor voice, then what are you supposed to do? Oh, I get it, don’t talk.

I’ve tried whiteness. I’ve tried complying. I’ve tried getting a quality education and pretending I actually enjoy driving a Camry.    I don’t know how to be white, because I shouldn’t have to know how: this is a club that I come somewhat close to admission in, but will never get into, because I can’t actually *be* white. It’s not what I am, and it’s not what we should be basing things on.

And yet, the side effects of toxic levels of whiteness continue apace. For example, listening to people stan for a naturopath who “declines to treat obese patients” because there’s something wrong with us, and yet trumpeting how everyone has healthcare now. Want to explain to me how having healthcare is any good if I can’t use it? Because I’m not really sure what I need to amputate to get to 200 pounds, but that’s the only way that’s happening. Never you mind my bloodwork is gorgeous and my cholesterol in the double digits, fat people are the enemy, because that’s a new way you can enforce racism in a “color-blind” manner. Just like sniffing my goddamn hair while we’re at it. I’ll save the fat thing for another post, but rest assured, it’s just a new way to harm people of color and poor white people too. Oh, yeah, about that…

See, the idea that the cultural elite has that all the racists out there are poor white people in Kansas? Yeah, fuck that noise. Almost all of my white friends are working-class or raised that way, and they’re frankly about as non-racist as you can get. Are they perfect? No. Do they benefit from active and passive racism? Well, yes, all white people do. But do I have to worry around them if I’m going to be chippy about race? Hell no. When  I point out systemic problems, they listen, they often do their own research, and then they go blow shit up on their own. I don’t have to ask my white friends to be my caucasiashield, because they know better.  Oh and more than a few of ’em are from the South. Back up off those nasty-ass elitist assumptions made about white racism and look in the mirror, white queers. Y’all are the ones who engage in this, profit from this, and make snippy comments about Virginia or wherever is en vogue to hate this week, completely forgetting two things: a)there’s still queers back in those places you mock, and b)the active and passive racism displayed by white queers, especially white trans people, makes a week in Florida look like a walk in the park.

Oh, and a whole lot of the queers squeezed out by the idea that urban migration is mandatory? They’re queers of color or poor rural queers generally. When you’re waiting tables at Perkins in Sarasota, Florida, you’re not going to be easily able to transfer your life to San Francisco. We’re already marginalized, and the idea of mandatory urban migration as part of the condition of being queer marginalizes queers of color even worse. See, when you move to the big city and move to a comfortable neighborhood, it’ll be dismissed as “undesirable.” Yeah, I live in what was 10 years ago as ghetto as it got here in Seattle. Now there’s white people holding their shitty irony beer (you know, at least drink Rainier, pleb) and walking their white-ass dogs as my rent soars out of control. And yet, white queers still slag where I live as “undesirable” and “unsafe”, because to be acceptable to white queers, you have to live in whatever the appropriate “gayborhood” is this week.

So there’s another way you’re going to be told you’re not one of us: you won’t be able to afford the “gayborhood”, because you were priced out if it. When you go to stuff, people will concern troll about how you’re getting home (on the bus, the same bus I’ve ridden for years…) but nobody will give you a lift because it’s dangerous, but you’ll hear about it. You can’t be part of this country club, little girl. Maybe it’s not the same where you are, maybe it is, I have no idea. But as the final coup de grace in the bad reality show that is dealing with white “trans community”, you’re basically going to be told you can’t ever be good enough unless you’re white and middle class…and abled…and, and, and, and.

It’s almost like they want you to know you’re unwelcome, and then get angry when you follow through on being told you’re not welcome. Because you owe us something because of what you are, but we give you no way to contribute, because you’re not one of us, you’re not good enough. But you owe us something, and we’ll remind you every damn day.

I don’t owe white people shit unless I’ve borrowed money from you or I said I’d get you back for lunch. That’s three people, and one of you is gonna read this.  And I know the carrot of admission to the country club will forever be dangled before me. Maybe if you just learned to code (even though we tell you you’re too stupid to code) or maybe if you just straightened your hair or maybe maybe maybe.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Fuck your country club.  If you want to get free, we have to build something better.

The way to be, paradise like relaxin’, Black, Latino and Anglo-Saxon
Armani, exchange the reins
Cash, Lost Tribe of Shabazz, free at last
Brand new whips to crash then we laugh in the ill’er path
The Villa house is for the crew, how we do
Trees for breakfast, dime sexes and Benz stretches
So many years of depression make me vision
The better livin’, type of place to raise kids in
Open they eyes to the lies, history’s told foul
But I’m as wise as the old owl, plus the Gold Child
Seeing things like I was controlling, click rollin’
Trickin’ six digits on kicks and still holding’ –Nas, “If I Ruled The World” (Imagine That) 

feel it break: why GamerGate is still bad, bad news for women and minorities in gaming

On blogs past, one of my more defining entries was about having lost places to participate in pickup turn-based and tabletop games because of the shrieking fear that any unknown female-ish person coming into pickup spaces was a “fake geek girl.” It struck a chord that to this day mystifies even me…why did 378 people share that on their Facebook? It also brought in a wave of cis lady fans scattered throughout the world, and my real defining question: why the hell am I so popular in NEW ZEALAND?  (…which has at least one better game blogger than I.)

Something about that post struck a chord with a lot of people. Okay, so maybe people who like tourists, sheep, and letting governments take turns on an almost-scheduled basis think my blog is cool and that’s why I’m large with the Kiwis. Or maybe it’s that much of the rest of this world looks on with horror at how much the “manosphere” in the US has attained frightening degrees of control, because a lot of my blogging really is about the creeping hate of the “manosphere” when you’re one random girl in an empire in decline and its chilling effects within a country sliding rightward. The whole principle of the “manosphere” is that things should dictate solely to the needs and desires of cishet white men, i.e. the same people who compose almost the entirety of the “Men’s Rights” Movement. The MRM’s various messiahs are just generally awful people…I can rehash the complete feculence of Paul Elam, but BuzzFeed did it better and anyone who’s read this blog has seen his seething hatred discussed before. There’s Glen Sacks, a racially exploitative misofgynist, homophobe and transmisogynist. And, of course, we have our semi-local shame, violent misogynist W.F. Price, who is fond of harassing any feminist he can find and who spends much of his time whining about trans women. These are the masterminds behind GamerGate: the ties between GamerGate and the Misogynist Rights Bowel Movement are incontrovertible. Sure, they have help from 8chan’s child-porn-loving Brennan (not to be confused with patriarchy-lovin’ T**F Cathy Brennan) and…where do you even start with Mike Cernovich…but at its heart GamerGate is caught up in expanding the manosphere. And unlike the 95% of men who can be decent human beings and not sit with their legs wider open than the Grand Canyon on the bus, the manosphere wants to spread. GamerGate is their means to an end. And, well, that manosphere is why I’ve lost being able to go to pick-up games at the Games-n-Stuff shops: the idea that my hideous self is there to suck the spinal nectar of men and look for boyfriends when, according to the theology of the MRA, I’m not even a woman, much less a human, much less desirable. (Nor do I want to be desirable to the manosphere, as I’m sure they’d hate me for being queer even worse then…)  I just want to play some turn-based RPG, preferably 3.5e D&D please and thank you, but I’m open to other ideas, as long as it’s not 2e because old-school THAC0 and I don’t get along.

But that’s interrupted by the manosphere’s insertion into the presence of an unknown woman (or to use the gross livestock-sounding term that MRAssholes and radfauxs/T**Fs use, “feeeeeeeeeeeeemale”) being seen as some sort of threat. So I’ve lost those outlets for gaming…nobody I know locally is into anything geekier than Settlers of Catan, and though I can joke about wood for sheep until the end of days, that’s not something you find pickup games of. I have finally learned to play it semi-competently, I understand 3:1 ports and the simple joys of a Year of Plenty card, and all, but I miss D&D. I miss playing Magic: The What Expansion Pack Is This Gathering with strangers, some of who became friends. But no, the manosphere has taken that. And my gaming world is basically reduced to video games. Whether it’s Destiny, Guild Wars 2, or World of Warcraft, that’s my outlet for games.

Rather than spending my Wednesday nights debating the beauty of a red-green monster deck or why white-blue control is criminally underrated, I spend them whacking murlocs in Tirisfal Glades. I’m not going to lie: I miss the hell out of sitting around a table with people. The Internet’s great, but video gaming isn’t the same as playing with three-dimensional people, so I feel great sadness that that option is lost. But GamerGate is about coming for that last refuge of many women and minorities shoved out of physical gaming spaces because the manosphere says we’re “fake” or misinterprets why we’re there: video gaming.

The veneer of “ethics in games journalism” has at this point been proven to be outdated at best or false at worst, as all GamerGate is about anymore is cooperative harassment of targets of the MRM itself.  I’ve asked multiple GamerGaters, but given their abusive insistence that they know something about Brianna Wu’s genetics, what’s to be gained from calling a woman by the wrong pronouns? They never answer, or they claim they’ve been “disrespected” by Ms. Wu somehow. I mean, I don’t always agree with Ms. Wu. I am uncomfortable with some of the terminology she’s used in defending herself against GamerGate’s MRAssholes, but I understand why, and I know she means well enough that it’s not disrespect. Similarly, these are game consumers, all of whom have said they’ve never played her game claiming this ephemeral “disrespect”. (I strongly recommend Giant Spacekat’s Revolution 60, by the by. No, I haven’t been paid to say this nor do I have any financial interest in it.)

But driving women and minority gamers out of video gaming only means we don’t have any space for gaming anymore. I’m sure there’s some lady-positive super-great pickup Magic: The Gathering game out there somewhere on some random weeknight, but I haven’t found it yet, and after being accused of being a “fat needy bitch” the last time I committed the sin of showing up for a pickup D&D game allegedly open to the public (it was 4e, sayin’), I’ve given up. I mean, yeah, I’m fat, and I may be needy, but I’d said nothing besides “hello” at that point, so they had no way of knowing that, and I believe to their mindset all unknown women were regretfully “bitches”. Too much of the manosphere telling me this treehouse isn’t for me because of their fears of women, and in particular women who their theology considers undesirable and somehow evil, has led to just giving up. GamerGate is an attempt to be the final nail in that coffin. From the jerk (and complete scrub, I should add…how do you fail at DPS with a mage?) who stands in front of the bank on my Warcraft server spamming about how Brianna Wu needs to be “re-manned” (what does that even *mean*) and how Anita Sarkeesian is “for-profit to harm video games” to the endless wave of Twitter MRAssholery that awaits most mornings in my mentions about how apparently being against GamerGate-MRA theology makes me “against gamers” and “gamerphobic” (I was literally called this…), it’s a concerted effort to get the people the manosphere considers inconvenient out of video gaming so the manosphere gets its exclusive province over gaming.

In that world, the girls can come if they just “behave” on the terms of what a cishet white dude MRA wants. In that world, Janet Bloomfield seems to be the only “acceptable” woman, a pretty chilling idea for the rest of us ladies. People of color can come if we just accept not being represented in games. Disabled people…well, let’s not even get into the ableism of GamerGate, since I promised myself this would be a short (…shorter?) blog entry. In the world of the manosphere controlling vidya, they’re going to shut the people they hate out of the last bastion of gaming we have…and that’s precisely why GamerGate is still such a threat.

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Shake It Out: The MRA Hate Movement and a Word on Radical Fauxminism, too!

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me, ohh.    
Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”

So last Thursday I published what may well have been the most controversial piece I’ve ever blogged. No, not the one where I advocated that armed revolution may someday be necessary to preserve basic reproductive rights, or the one where I talked about debatable mental health procedures. No, the issue of controversy was pointing out the hateful activities of a hate group. Yeah, really. And then the Reddit MRA hate-hive got ahold of it, and I just wanted to cry.

My first impulse was to hang up my spurs, say F it all, and go out in a blaze of glory. After all, that’s what I did last time when a notorious trans woman MRA called out the Man Klux Klan at my blog and set them upon trying to doxx me. But you know what? This time, I’m not going anywhere, because running is exactly what pro-patriarchy hate groups like MRAs, radical fauxminists, and fundamentalist white Christianity expect us to do. There’s no sense in it, no win in it. Similarly, the pushback that the post got from inside ‘trans community’ reveals some things about our priorities that I think we need to talk about and stop running from or slapping labels on, and that we need to make some difficult decisions about the direction of trans community in light of a number of recent scandals and setbacks that seem to plague the discourse and how that affects the lives of real trans people who ‘trans community’ continues to resolutely ignore or even harm.

If I’m going out, I’m going out swinging. If I’m gonna run into walls, I’m going to do it at full speed. So here we are and here’s part 2 about MRAs, and a bit about the allegation that I said anything about disregarding radical fauxminists. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. Please accept my apologies in advance for how beastly long this post is going to be, as yet another Starbucks to Denny’s to Starbucks assembly line and hours awake produced this.

So about the MRA(sshole) types and their GamerGate whining auxiliary, it’s time to stand up. We’ve let MRAs control the discourse about their presence for far too long hoping really hard that they’ll just go away, and frankly that allows the hatred of the Man Klux Klan to do what it does best: harm the people it hates the most. You know, like sex workers, trans women, women of color, and…well, let’s just say the word “women” keeps coming up. There’s a reason for that: for too long the seething hatred of women, along with the white supremacy, ableism, and transmisogyny, of the “Men’s Rights Movement” has been given a free pass, not just by trans people but by the vast majority of people out there who are decent enough not to belong to a hate movement. The comments that I approved to my last post were bad enough: the ones I didn’t approve were even worse. These are people who stand for and exemplify the Men’s Rights Bowel Movement at its finest.

It’s time to fight back outside the academic sphere, for example. There’s been quite a few papers on the negative impact on society advanced by the MRBM (they didn’t like being called a hate movement, and as much as I don’t want to associate them with something biologically necessary like taking a dump, they are basically fecal matter, so there you go) and that’s great and all, but theory has a place and a time and neither of them really helps us here. So it’s time to name and shame MRAs just like you would their predecessors, Klansmen. The only way we got anywhere with the Klan was to identify its members, and that’s the only way to get anywhere with the Man Klux Klan. When they harass you, identify, name, and shame.

Now, I know precisely what this will be accused of: “doxxing.” (You know, the same thing GamerGate does and then claims not to do as it’s caught doing it.) Unfortunately, “doxxing” has a meaning, and it doesn’t mean identifying people who send you threats or engage in  hate speech toward you. And by “hate speech”, I don’t mean that someone made you feel uncomfortable, I mean things like rants laden with “bitch” and similar. It’s not a restraint of “free speech” either while we’re at it. See, you can say what you want, but actions have consequences, and within those actions are the consequence that hatred of minorities is repugnant. Everyone from Antonin Scalia down to Antoine at the corner shop agrees that there’s a point where what you say has consequences. As an example, if I tell Antoine I have carnal knowledge of his mother, he’s probably going to be unhappy.  Actions and language have consequences, and when they cross lines, those consequences are appropriate. So guess what, MRAs and GooberGrapers? The reckoning is that we need to no longer idly stand by and accept your bullying in silence based on the ideal that your hate activities take place in the dark, and further that it’s time to start infiltrating the Man Klux Klan to destroy it from within. The claim that there’s no real organized MRBM activity is a complete lie, much as it’s not shocking to see MRAs lie. For example, here’s a meetup in Alexandria, VA. Or if you’re in or near Edmonton, Alberta, there’s always Men’s Rights Edmonton. There’s also a message board or four out there, but I’ll decline to link to them…don’t worry, MRAs, we’ve infiltrated those already.

Just like it took decent upstanding citizens infiltrating the Klan, not legal action, to bring them to their knees, the same can be accomplished with the MRBM. There’s many decent white men out there who fit what the MRBM wants, and this is a call to action to those men to identify the hate within their communities, to stand up for your friends and family are  Now, let’s be real: don’t go after some random dude who’s frustrated with women, we need to concentrate on actual threats, like anti-repro-rights protests that MRAs have planned…it’d be useful to know the location for counter-protests, for example. And if someone’s talking about equitable divorce that’s actually, you know, equitable, it’s not report-worthy. Don’t harm the misled, work to identify the ringleaders and the people involved with doing actual harm as part of their mission. Do take note of what companies and such are involved with sponsorship, who runs ads on MRA sites, etc. Keep track of who’s responsible for organized harassment, identify Grand Wizards…er, I mean leaders, and shine some light on the cockroaches. (And no, MRAssholes, I’m not calling men cockroaches, I’m calling hateful white men who freely choose hate cockroaches. You have made the free choice to join and participate in a hate mob, so…actually, that might be insulting cockroaches.)

“But they’ll get revenge!” Honey, they already are getting revenge. The MRA-centered sham ‘consumer revolt’ that is GamerGate is actively harassing women and minorities in gaming as what it’s admitted is a recruiting event. A recent post of one of my blog entries on Reddit’s MRBM forum of choice for misogynist onanism, /r/mensrights even got a couple of approvals of GamerGate padding the MRBM’s membership. (It also included lots of avoiding gender pronouns, misinformed-or-maybe-plain-ol-bullshit statements about trans women. Ah, MRAs, the same people who claim to be our ‘allies’ as long as we agree to be morally mandated out of existence…) Just like the Klan pandered to the white moderate in bad times, the MRBM panders to a gross stereotype of what gamers are, and now is discovering that most gamers don’t meet that stereotype…oh and that a lot of guys who do are decent human beings with no desire to be involved in a hate mob. All that GamerGate consists of is organized MRA harassment under color of being about “ethics in gaming.” Just like in Dragon’s Lairyou can make decisions that lure you into a trap much later in the game, akin to that goddamn sliding floor in “Tomb of Horrors.” At this point, GamerGate has dropped to being about harassment of women and minorities and occasionally complaining that Gawker Media exists. GamerGate’s targets ate identical to the MRBM’s, and their strategies of harassment are identical. Paul Elam endorses violence against women, GamerGate makes death treats against women.

One thing, though, MRBM: most of the comments complained about my linking to David Futrelle’s “We Hunted The Mammoth”, which is a site that screenshots and reproduces actual MRAsshole quotes. Why the righteous anger at the words that your own hate movement endorses being reproduced? Why these constant vague accusations that Futrelle is doing something wrong? I mean, the one definite thing MRBM members have had to say is that Mr. Futrelle is “fat.” That’s really adult, MRBM. I’m curious if, without resorting to misogyny, an MRBM member can attempt to explain what these alleged wrongdoings are.

As for the radical fauxminists, there’s been a number of completely false assertions about my last piece. The fact that MRAs have taken over the #1 slot doesn’t mean to stop paying attention to radical fauxminists, who some of you identify as “T*RFs” and others identify as “gender-critical”, their hatred, or the damage they do to all womankind, but especially to trans women, disabled women, and women of color. Hmm, interesting that the radfaux hates the same people as the MRA…and if you’re telling me I’m going easy on these people, consider my background. I don’t use the acronym to refer to gendercrits/radfauxs anymore, but I still feel exactly the same about their hate, and I feel the same about the monoculture that “trans community” displays and its obsession with whiteness and uniformity as playing into the radfaux narrative.

So have you ever taken cod liver oil? This is gonna be cod liver oil. Keeps you healthy in the dark months, tastes completely horrible. The monoculture of “trans community” isn’t changing. I’ve been asking nicely for 3 bloody years now, and we still have the same failure-laden white masters who serve us poorly. People who mismanage our activism like Gwen Smith, Allison Woolbert, and their ilk are actively harming trans women by promoting a monoculture, refusing to allow discussion of race, and attacking trans women they consider “lesser” who don’t fall in line with their white safety-respectability politics precisely. There’s no discussion of race on the official TDoR site again why? And we get criticized for the whiteness of the community by who? That’s right, the radfauxs that hate us. Maybe letting in trans women of color without attacking us as Ms. Woolbert was notorious for doing would help. In fact, maybe it’s time for an entirely new paradigm about inclusiveness, but that’s fodder for another post, another day. There’s only so much cod liver oil you can take at once, you know…but just as an aside, what does “trans community” have to lose in ostracizing fewer people? Why do the tragic suicides of younger white trans women attract attention (as long as they’re not sex workers, in which case they’re ignored, which is ghastly) but the violence toward trans women of color, both self-inflicted and inflicted by others, gets one day a year? This spins around in my mind like homey’s rims, that is.

But this is the meat of the matter: the term “T*RF” has become massively overused and has become completely misused. The failure of Brianna Wu to back a fundraiser recently got her labeled a “TE*F.” Unfortunately, as a way of dealing with disagreement, “TE*F” is the wrong tack to take and in fact absolutely marauds the original intent of the term. As much as some of you torch me in effigy for not using that term (and have even called me a “T*RF”), the term has become greatly overused, and in its overuse has lost meaning for dealing with pro-patriarchy anti-woman feminists who work to do other women active harm like Bess Hungerford, Cathy Brennan, Janice Raymond, Lierre Keith, et al who deserve such a term as they’re shamelessly transexterminationist. There’s a difference between casual transmisogyny and active, harmful transmisogyny; the same goes for casual racism/active racism, harming sex workers through error against working actively to harm them, etc.

And here’s where we can’t take our eyes off the prize: the radical fauxminist is no less of a threat than the Misogyny Reinforcing Asshole, since they fight for the same thing (paaaaaaatriarchy) through different avenues. If the prior evidence wasn’t enough, they’re even turning on basic reproductive rights in the modern era. Just like Dr. Raymond’s paranoid anti-RU486 screed set back abortion rights in the US, Ms. Brennan has taken to showing her true right-wing colors in working with the Pacific Justice Institute and calling a Black gynecologist a “violent abortionist” on Twitter. I guess the more patriarchal sellouts change, the more they stay the same? The T*RF, so-called, is hell-bent on helping the patriarchy do what it does best: divide and conquer women, and then reinforce that some women are more “equal” than others. What ever happened to the radical notion that women are people? Ah, well, in radfauxlandia, only women who behave the way the radfaux wants are people, and coincidentally the radfaux enforces white patriarchy while expecting to be exempt from that themselves. It’s just like when cops expect to be exempt from the law…

That said, it might be time to start looking at the long view rather than the short one in that a disagreement with a cis woman (or a trans woman who doesn’t meet impossible purity standards) does not make one a “T*RF.” The term had a pretty distinct meaning in identifying war criminals like Hungerford or Keith who generally work behind the scenes to reinforce an animus against certain kinds of women…they both are the epitome of where this term comes from: the idea that in the name of supporting patriarchy under the false flag of “feminism” that they get to attack some women on behalf of patriarchy. When the term is used to describe a disagreement, it loses its force. I’m not saying you can’t use TE*F, but I’m going to decline to do so personally. I refuse to cede the moral high ground of feminism to women who aid and abet patriarchy, and I similarly believe radical fauxminist is a more accurate term for what they are. Again, you’re welcome to say that acronym and I’m not judging you, but think about what the reason for using it is. Think about how bad the Brennans and the Germaine Greers are to anyone who doesn’t fit their predestination concept of self under the guise of ‘feminism’ as they pad the pockets of white men.

Now, this obviously does feminism a disservice. And no matter what the whiny man babies of /r/mensrights and the brigading commenters they send here tell me I know about feminism, I know a little bit about the history and structure of the feminist movement…hell, I had a semester of that from  Dr. Raymond herself. I know that mainstream feminism isn’t actively transmisogynist, but it messes up, and there are obvious criticisms of feminism that I don’t really have the space to discuss, but frequently those within ‘trans community’ who oppose feminism do so based on the actions of the radical fauxminist/T*RF as well as the mainstream/liberal feminist who may not be intentionally harmful in the same way as a radical fauxminist. But we have what’s best called an “interlocking failure” here, where multiple elements present an opportunity for oppression to buddy up, and unfortunately one of the things the most virulent radical fauxminists use to harm trans women is the allegation that we’re all white and have one single set of experiences. And, well, when you consider ‘acceptable’ narratives, that’s about it; one of the going frustrations I’ve had in this and my previous blog alike is that there is little flexibility about these “acceptable” narratives, a choice by our community leaders to literally play into the hate of the radical fauxminist. We have to change what’s “acceptable” from within, and I don’t know how to do that, but we have to figure something out if we want liberation and equality.

We have to fight this battle on all fronts. And I know GamerGate may seem like a hackneyed comparison, but it actually is pretty appropriate: the solution to all matters of patriarchy is to decline to allow patriarchal operatives to control the discourse to the best of our ability, to watch for and name and shame harassment and violence (and in trans community that includes structural violence like exclusion or ostracism based on body type or disability), and to make it clear that we need the backing of allies.

But no, at no point did I say to ease up off radical fauxminists or to stop paying attention to them. I think we do need to be more strict about identifying them, as well as radfaux-influenced legislation and policymaking, but we also need to do the same when it comes to watching out for Men’s Rights Bowel Movement types attempting to gain traction in the public sphere. Curating the battles that we fight is central to both defeating patriarchy, making sure that people who commit active and passive violence against us are responsible socially, and also to fighting the activism burnout that seems to plague queer activism generally and trans activism in specific. Because you know what? This is more important than about me, this is more important than what someone thinks of Erica, because liberation means sometimes you break some eggs. I don’t really care about a popularity contest anymore, but as my very first blog post put it, I want us to be strong and free.

Good? Now let’s get in the game.  Sing us out, Florence.

I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn… “Shake It Out”

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We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now: MRAs are the Top Transmisogynists

content warning for harassment, violence, massive misogyny, and that some of the links are to MRA sites. please use an anonymizer to visit MRA sites if you have concerns for your safety. thanks! 

It’s good to be #1. For example, the Oregon Ducks are about to be the National Champions of college football…quack quack! The ubiquity of Starbucks may be fuel for satire, but at the same time it’s a consistent coffee experience where you know what you’re getting from one side of the world to the other, and I am in fact sitting in a Starbucks writing this post. A #1 hit cements you as an artist who will at least be notable for being #1, even if you were the Starland Vocal Band. And, well, #1 means that you’re the top. In High Fidelity, John Cusack identified as being the “number one lover-man in (his) particular postal district.” But #1 can mean bad things, too. For example, in the 1980s, an actor named Ronald Reagan arose to run the US, and the Dead Kennedys, who tragically never had a #1 hit, had to adapt their song about the Fear of a (Jerry) Brown President, “California Uber Alles”, to talk about the actual bigger problem they had now.

We’ve got a bigger problem now, and that bigger problem is the so-called “Men’s Rights” movement, better described as the Misogynist Rights Hate Movement (hereafter MRHM) and their adherents declaring war on trans women. It’s nothing new, as MRA(sshole) leaders like Paul Elam and Mike Cernovich have been spewing transmisogyny in specific along with their usual white supremacist misogynist MRA drivel, but the rise of MRA recruiting through GamerGate has changed the game entirely, and the fact that this MRA hate mob has stressed harassment of trans women is a sign of the new priorities of the MRHM, and the attempt to blame this harassment on “gamer culture” is typical of the MRHM’s work to try to shift blame. After all, misogynist pig Elliott Roger’s killing spree was handwaved away by MRHM members, and the MRHM has worked hard to denigrate the agency of disabled people since they are, after all, a hate mob.

I can go into the reprehensible actions of GamerGate again, but I wrote a post on this already. Nothing’s changed since November, other than Gators rushing to the defense of child porn, since that’s what MRAs do…and even more harassment, because that’s what hate mobs do. I mean, we’ve established that GamerGate is an MRA-linked hate mob, and even if there’s a few people in GamerGate who aren’t MRAs, let’s consider where there’s significant overlap between what the MRHM stands for and what GamerGate stands for.  GamerGate has erupted in defense of the child porn-laden board called 8chan; noted MRA leader Warren Farrell advocated for the normalization and legalization of incest, definitely a form of child sexual abuse, in 1977. So child sexual abuse is cool with MRAs and GamerGate alike. So if child sexual abuse wasn’t enough, there’s the issue of harassment, a core strategy of GamerGate’s campaign to intimidate women in gaming. A member of notorious hate-hive Men’s Rights Edmonton (who has been identified as a leader, but because of the KKK…er, MRHM’s extreme secrecy it’s impossible to verify this, of course) has advocated harassment of, as well as violence against, women participating in a Slut Walk. While GamerGate has had issues with advocating violence as well, the harassment that is central to GamerGate is generally more persistent in being annoying to cause psychological damage.  But let’s be real here: neither GamerGate nor the MRHM has condemned individual actions of harassment perpetrated by their respective hate mobs, often expecting credit for broad pronouncements about harassment but failing to condemn incidents when they happen. And then there’s an admitted MRA themselves admitting that GamerGate is really about recruitment…the “Men’s Rights” Reddit tried to delete this, but this is why you log URLs on Reddit…if you have the URL, it’s forever, and even when a hate group tries to cover their tracks, they leave proof behind.

So we’ve got the misogyny linked up between GamerGate and the MRHM and MRAs themselves admitting that GamerGate is all about the MRAs, baby…let’s talk about transmisogyny and why we have this bigger problem. I’m by no means excusing radical fauxminists (often referred to by a misnomer acronym that rhymes with “serf” that I decline to use) or white religious fundamentalists for their work to oppress trans women, but the “Men’s Rights” hate movement has grown into a bigger threat than anything else. And, well, when it comes to bizarre obsessions with trans women, you can line up the hate-hive that is Reddit’s “men’s rights” community’s strange and creepy obsession with trans women’s bodies with the obsession GamerGate has with harassing trans women, much less implying that women whose gender identity is none of their business may be trans and that that somehow justifies GamerGate’s harassment of them. While we’re at it, the idea that the existence of a trans woman provokes violence and revulsion is an old, tired MRA chestnut, identical to the complaint of other pro-patriarchy activists like radical fauxminists. In fact, MRHM Grand Wizard/Messiah W. F. Price said as much in complaining about the presence of trans women in a bar…or something, you never can really tell with WC Price what he’s on about other than that women exist outside the house and that’s bad in his eyes. And yet GamerGate engages in the same behavior, going so far as to engage in SWATting, a violent activity, against Grace Lynn, where the harassers sent a SWAT team to her former residence and endangered lives, and encouraging mail-based harassment of Twitter user srhbutts, one of the most eloquent and tireless responders to GamerGate misogynist harassment. So if GamerGate isn’t an MRA project, why do their tactics, harassment, misogyny, and transmisogyny all line up perfectly?

Well, you know what the answer is to this question: GamerGate is nothing more than MRAs trying to expand their numbers for their white supremacist misogynist hate mob, and this is why we’ve got a bigger problem now. See, we’ve laughed off MRAs as being misogynist jerks with no power, and to a certain degree despite the transexterminationist nature of MRHM rhetoric and leadership, just ignored them. Similarly, with GamerGate, we’ve allowed GamerGate to determine the tenor of all discussion, and as a result MRHM dominance of this discussion is happening. We have to change our tack in dealing with the MRHM as women in general and as trans women in specific, as the MRHM depends on all the typical tactics of the patriarchy it serves so tirelessly. Things like tone policing anger at GamerGate/MRA harassment when anger is honestly how some people will respond to harassment that is highly personalized and designed to cause harm, or claiming the moral high ground about “doxxing” when online harassers are rightfully named and shamed. See, the thing about freedom of speech is that you well have it, but when you harm people, there are social consequences, and when you threaten people, there are legal consequences. The whole “screaming fire in a crowded theatre” thing is actually not just outdated, but also has a number of strings attached and is a paraphrase of Justice Holmes anyways.

When you harass someone, harassment has consequences. So yes, we need to name and shame people who harass, and we need to fight MRA lies with reality, truth, and, yes, feminism. Being an MRA is not a political choice, it’s the decision to consciously be a white supremacist, misogynist, and transmisogynist asshole. If you choose to enable MRAs, you’re choosing to go along with that even if you claim not to be one, and their blood’s on your hands, too. If you’re the shamelessly hateful thing that is a trans woman MRA, why?  You’re siding with people who want to morally mandate us out of existence, just like Janice Raymond…in fact, Paul Elam’s rhetoric on trans women is nigh-identical to Dr. Raymond. The difference is this: radical fauxminists like Raymond, Cathy Brennan, etc. are a tiny minority in feminism. They’re women who, to satisfy patriarchal masters, punched down on other woman for personal gain. Partnership in a law firm that bullies on behalf of subprime and payday lenders for Brennan, and tenure in the faculty of the University of Massachusetts for Dr. Raymond at a time that UMass/Amherst had a “98%” white and male tenured faculty, at least if Dr. Raymond’s comments in class were to be believed. Radical fauxminism is a tiny chunk of feminism, and I think radical fauxminists are no feminists at all, as putting your hate in a “feminist” wrapper doesn’t make it feminist. I can claim that I’m the Queen of England all that I want, but absent the bona fides, I’m not Elizabeth II, Regina.

And yet mainstream MRHM theology calls for us to be considered oppressed men, or eliminated entirely. How does this make any sense? Why do we tolerate this? Transadvocate has “TE*F Week” but when you comment asking about why similar focus isn’t paid to MRAs, the comment doesn’t pass approval, and nobody stands up against the MRHM in the mainstream of the trans community. We have “STOP TE*FS!!!!!” groups on Facebook, but not groups about the other pro-patriarchy hate groups like MRAs. The laser-like focus on “TE*Fs” is coming at the detriment of all the other people who want to eliminate or harm us, and there’s a whole hell of a lot more mainstream MRAs whose theology calls for our destruction or harm than the small handful of radical fauxminists…mainstream third-wave feminism, what GamerGate whines its pants off about, is not actively transmisogynist, whereas MRAs are just that.  Our focus has to change, and we’re well overdue for a change. See, patriarchy is like the Lernaean Hydra: you can’t cut off just one head, you have to cut off all the heads or the hydra lives on. And, well, when  considering who actively works to harm trans women, we have the HBSers who harm from within, the aforementioned radical fauxminists aka TE*Fs, the “Men’s Rights” Klan, and fundamentalist religion, generally concentrated in white Southern Baptist fundamentalism. All these heads have to be dealt with, and hoping that ignoring the MRHM will make it go away has clearly failed now that the MRHM has acquired more members, and now we have the aforementioned bigger problem…a larger number of people willing to engage in the misogynist, white supremacist, transmisogynist harassment and hatred that the “Men’s Rights” movement stands for.

We can’t sit here and twiddle our thumbs anymore. The seething hatred of Paul Elam, W.F. Price, and Mike Cernovich, all MRA Messiahs who preach their hate theology about women, especially women of color and trans women, is what this army is willing to follow. We have to change, we have to respond, we have to be willing to say “no” to MRA demands (and we know how much MRAs hate hearing women say “no”), and we have to be supported by the vast majority of decent human beings out there who haven’t embraced MRA hate theology under the thinnest veneer of claims that it’s about “ethics in games journalism.” The MRAs are our #1 threat now, and we need to stop knuckling under.

As for what to do, and more ties between MRA hate theology and radical fauxminist hate theology, tune in next week, I’m close to 2000 words and Starbucks morphed into Denny’s when writing this…and my Moons over My Hammy beckons.

(Love my work? Please consider supporting it…or  support how angry it makes MRAs for me to be able to afford the coffee and beer that power these writing sessions…if you have the means, consider throwing a ducat or two in the Tip Jar. Thanks!)

Your Suit, Your Self: how gender-based double standards harm otherwise-oppressed women in the workplace

Let’s get it out of the way: Yes, I’m “too stupid to code”, and that’s a personal failing I have to own and deal with. I understand tech companies do offer a wider range of acceptable clothing options, and as I’ve worked for a couple before they stopped doing any HR, technical writing, accounting, etc. in house and focused on being CODE BRO CODE BRO CODE BRO, I know what that world’s like. I miss it involving those of us who are “too stupid to code.” So when someone claims I’m an attention-seeking asshole for not working in tech, there’s your response: tech got rid of jobs for people like me, and as one of my loudest detractors put it, I’m “too stupid to code.” Such is life.

I’m looking for something a little more permanent than my current endless loop of contract jobs, which pay the bills to a point but I’m month to month desperately trying to swing rent. I make it most of the time, but with a lot of strange hours and weird jobs that don’t always play to my strengths but do often tire me out. I’m not complaining, mind, as I’m surviving, but it is not the organized, settled life I’d rather have.

This means…job interviews. Lots and lots of job interviews. So many job interviews. Yes, I’m a team player! Yes, I’m totally committed to (whatever). Yes, I’m available in 3 weeks! Yes, I can pass a drug test…uh, good thing gin doesn’t show up on drug tests. Yes, I have a car, but I can get to work regardless! Yes, yes, yes, yes. I haven’t said “yes” this many times since the Free Unicorn Hugs And Money booth came by at the county fair. Now, job interviews are weird when you’re fat, weirder when you’re disabled, and weirder-er when you have the shit self-image that has been so kindly assisted by patriarchy and pro-patriarchy shitstains like HBSers. Fun fact: most of the shit I get from the public is for being disabled. It’s almost always from white guys. In trans space, it’s HBSers and new trans separatists of the white variety who are busy calling me a dude or claiming disability makes me dangerous. (These are the same people who split hairs endlessly about whether or not I’m allowed to call myself trans. So confusing!) So I really have no earthly idea what someone sees when they see me, and I’m not gonna lie that I’m terrified that it’s some jumbled mess of mess.

Now let’s be real here: getting taken seriously in the world of employment, especially outside tech, requires passing for cis or close enough to it for many people, and if you have other vectors of oppression going on like being disabled, it’s pretty much required. Hell, our own “trans community” can’t seem to hack the existence of disabled trans people, so let’s not get up into the realities of how that works looking for work. I also have the fun of being of indiscriminate racial origin to add to that, though that’s a wildcard as to whether it harms or helps you. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but “pass or die” is still applicable to job interviews in the modern neo-liberal American empire in decline. Nondiscrimination laws won’t do shit for you when you can’t afford to sue or live in a community where you wouldn’t be able to sue, and the frequently trafficked stereotype of the litigious trans woman would absolutely play into how well that would work anyways.

So the reality here is: I don’t know how to dress for a real-world job that is appropriate, that won’t be overdressed or worse get me seen as a perv because some cis people have some wacky presumption we wear business suits for kicks, that won’t be too business casual in a world where “business casual” keeps changing, etc.  A job interview is a goddamn minefield, and the standards that apply to my cis female friends may well work for them, but I have to show greater caution. Similarly, asking people who work in tech who can wear sweatpants and a t-shirt to the office and don’t have to wonder what piercings will or won’t make you not “qualified” to do a job won’t help because their insight has nothing to do with trying to get a job outside tech. Which, as we’ve discussed, has become an outsourced coder-bro paradise that’s as white and male as humanly possible.  Outsourcing keeps the tech industry as white and mostly-male as humanly possible, as the people whose coding skills are “good enough” are overwhelmingly, you guessed it, white and male. It has nothing to do with skill or your portfolio, it has to do with the same old white boys’ club that ran Corporate America 30 years ago. On the first go-round of the tech industry, support staff weren’t outsourced, and then 9/11 happened, the dot-com bubble dot-bombed, and the resurrection of the tech industry in the 00s was built on outsourcing everything but the white guys. Same old country club bullshit, same old keeping it white and male. Yes, there’s more female coders, and that’s a yay, but many companies don’t do much besides tokenism, and when you’ve outsourced all the other work, you get what you got now.

So I don’t know what to do. Where will the double standard land? I don’t generally have to worry about ‘passing’ for cis, but I can’t ‘pass’ for abled at all (again, a fact, not intended to elicit pity, because fuck pity) and most of the visibly disabled people I know don’t work. I have to work, I don’t have a choice. So what do I do? Wear a suit to an interview, be overdressed, and possibly seen as a perv? Come properly Business Casual and hope that’s not too underdressed? It’s a mess, and it makes it exceedingly hard to know how I’m supposed to act and react when presented with a corporate environment I don’t know.

I think that this is just another double standard which has no necessity nor basis in reality but is designed to maintain the downward post-9/11 vector of women in the American workplace. The US had been sliding to the right slowly since the 80s, but the misogyny of “security culture” America has been unnerving, and where there’s misogyny, there’s always ancillary oppression that hurts women who are otherwise oppressed even worse. Many women have been pressured out of the workforce in ways that we were told had gone by the wayside in the 70s, and the idea that women have a proper “place” in the workplace has arisen anew. If you don’t think the bro culture hell that is tech is a microcosm of this, you’re clearly smoking something much better than I have. “Meritocracy” when it only benefits white men isn’t a meritocracy at all, it’s the same old same old.

And then there’s the perception of disabled women seeking work. I’ve been asked by people what it’s like not having to work because there is a common belief that all disabled people are just given money, and I’ve dealt with people calling me a “scrounger” or worse knowing nothing whatsoever about my life other than what they could conclude by looking at me. Yes, it’s fairly obvious I’m disabled, thats pretty simple, but what’s not obvious is that not all disabled people have the same circumstances and realities in their lives. So not only is the pay gap not narrowing for women in the workplace anywhere near fast enough to achieve equality, the pay gap affects disabled women and women of color even more. Incidentally, this is support for one of the assertions I make, namely that MRAssholes are white supremacists: the people trying to handwave and justify away the pay gap and who claim it doesn’t exist are not just misogynists (the common bond of the Misogynist Rights Hate Movement) but also racists, ableists, and transmisogynists to boot, not just in the transexterminationist hate screeds their Grand Wizards post but also in that they actively support paying women less, which means paying women of color or disabled women MUCH less. The patriarchy never has your back, women.

But you know what the patriarchy loves? Double standards. When double standards exist, they complicate a decision as simple as what to wear.  These double standards mean I never know the right answer when all the possibilities are somehow wrong, and the reality is that if only women are policed that stringently, it’s complicity in misogyny. So when a lady appears slightly overdressed or underdressed to an interview, why not focus on her qualifications and not the threads she’s wearing?

An Open Letter To An Older White Trans Woman At Fred Meyer


This past evening, I had the distinct displeasure of meeting with your angry stare. I’m not precisely sure why, perhaps because like a solid 10% of the grocery store at 10pm on a Saturday, I was in my pajamas, admittedly with a jacket over my top.  I went to pick up a bomber of beer, a box of hair dye, a box of Fiber One bars (don’t get old, kids), a microwaveable “chimichanga”, and Whatever Energy Drink Was On Sale. For the record, this week, that’s Monster. I got two, because 1.48 each is cheap for Happy Erica In A Can. I was pretty happy, as I’d run into a friend on my way into the store and made a date to catch up over tea…and shopping needs fulfilled, humming some classic Alice In Chains, I scooted my butt into the Express lane, grabbed my reusable bag out of my trusty backpack, and looked up.

You know that stare they show robots as having in bad 70s sci-fi?  You, ma’am, were a three-dimensional living version of that robot in female form. The coldest, iciest stare on earth. So bad that I wanted to mutter something about how I had well fewer than “15 items or less” as Kroger so grammatically incorrectly puts it, but I was pretty much paralyzed. To paraphrase Liz Phair, I didn’t feel five feet ten, more like…small, really small, even though I think I was taller than you… And, of course, now I was stuck in this lane behind the person in front of us both taking forever. See, this was terrifying because the one time in my life a stranger has assaulted me for being trans, it was another trans woman, and she caused me some pretty greivous bodily harm, but you, OWTWaFM, you really couldn’t know that.

What you could know is that hissing at me when I’m making (quiet, appropriate) conversation with the cashier was pretty nasty. What you could know is that staring at someone is generally considered pretty rude in Western society. What you could know is that asking a very confused cashier very loudly “what was HIS problem?” was deeply inappropriate and endangering me through your actions….fortunately, she had no idea what or who the hell you were talking about. What you could know was that I was some random person you came upon in the course of your day, and you treated me like shit because you assumed I was a trans woman, and that some quantity of who or what I am entitled you to treat me like shit. What you could know was that I was just trying to buy some damn groceries. What you could know is that your need to lash out was harmful, hurtful, and most of all hateful.

See, it’s not that I don’t sympathize, OWTWaFM. I know that you probably went through hell because there’s a better-than-average chance you transitioned in the Bad Old Days, and that’s why I mention your age, btw, as there are certainly older trans women who don’t share your hate…I’ve encountered a few online, and frankly I’m nearing un certain age myself. Perhaps you’ve been forced to comply with bullshit HBSer expectations to find acceptance within the ‘trans community’ that, at least locally, is ruled with an iron fist by the hateful jerks of Ingersoll as the one permitted entry point into ‘community’ for trans women in Seattle. I remember the Bad Old Days, because I survived transitioning within them, too. I know Ingersoll’s asshaberdashery through trying to access that one permitted point of entry into ‘trans community’. So either way it’s not that I don’t get that you’ve been taught to hate yourself and to hate people like you and that you feel like your only choice is to be harmful to other trans women because this is what you’ve been forced to do. And, well, I imagine you’re the kind of person who would piss and moan if you came upon this blog, complaining that I am somehow a threat to “unity.”

“Unity” is a two-way street, you see. Much like the gay white men of the GGGG (formerly LGBT) Community who backstab trans people, especially trans women, when they can get away with it but expect our “unity” the second they need us or the small but troublesome bunch of white trans men who rule ‘women’s queer community’  spaces with all the privilege of white guys (…what are men doing in women’s community, anyways?) and all the dismissive behavior of the misogynist jerks they are, “unity” is bullshit when it doesn’t apply to all of us. There’s no “unity” when it only pertains to some people, and trying to use it as a defense mechanism to prevent any critique or press for change within the community is basically saying that you support the flawed system working the way it is.

So if the flawed system works, and if you’re privileged enough, rich enough, or willing to sacrifice your dignity enough for it to work for you, why is there a need to do things like pitch an unholy fit in the supermarket that you had to see me? Was it the “chimichanga”? Because they’re tasty and free of nasty ingredients and $1.00 each, pretty much ultimate gamer chow. Was it that I chose too manly of an energy drink or did you decide a bomber of Hale’s Milk Stout was somehow too masculine for a woman to be buying? I think you’d be rolling your eyes and hissing at this line of questioning because that plainly wasn’t it. Was it that I’m visibly disabled? Or, if trying to grant the benefit of the doubt, it may be that you’ve somehow never sighted women in their pajamas in the outside world, but you’d not have looked around in the store, and what’s the real difference between pajama pants and sweats, anyways? But this is a reductio ad absurdum in the name of asking questions where you know the answer as an expository technique. I know why you reacted the way you did before you’d nigh-screamed at the cashier about what my problem was, a strange question to ask when the cashier and I had been chatting and laughing and parted on a cheerful note.

I don’t expect you to see this. I don’t expect you to be sorry, because I know all too well how hatred works. I don’t expect a whole hell of a lot, because the heels of hatred are dug too far in at this point. I don’t know what to do here, because you’ve chosen to hate people and to hurt people to feel better about yourself, a fairly socially repugnant behavior that for some reason we are ordered to tolerate by “trans community.” We’re at this point where change just isn’t happening, and the frameworks we work in insist on excluding. I felt great pain over the summer when I was unwelcome at Trans Pride because my medical needs require sunblock, a substance that doesn’t come in ‘chemical free’ so I was forced to choose between violating a chemical-free policy (and thus being an asshole) or not going, thus forcing me to choose not to go. And then we had a “Trans Ladies’ Picnic” a bit later, but the invitation was extended solely to “femme-of-center trans women and AMAB genderqueers.” Once again, go and be an asshole invading space or stay home…so I had to stay home to not be an asshole. Both the Pride event and the Picnic claim they’ll change next year, but let’s be real here, a year is a long time to wait. When you’re told you have to embrace “unity”, it’s hard to wait a year for another opportunity, and that’s all you get as an outsider. A year is a long time to hope maybe things will change next year, and in neither case do I have anything but promises. Your hostility, OWTWaFM, is hostility toward someone who is told she has to do things for “unity” but who, like most trans women of color and disabled trans women, is held to this standard of “unity” but kept out of ‘trans community’ by gatekeeping based on arbitrary and immutable factors….well, at least while we’re alive.

You’re rigging the game by how you and yours play it, OWTWaFM. I’ll put good money after bad that you went home and bitched your brain out about me that night, and I don’t really understand why you ascribe such importance to a complete stranger and her frozen “chimichanga” when you really could easily have ignored me the same way I wish I’d been given the option to ignore you because that’s what one does with strangers in public when they’re just looking for a couple of Monsters, a beer, some hair dye, some Colon Blow Granola Bars, and the aforementioned “chimichanga.” You want actual unity? Leave me the hell alone. Or make small talk and we can exchange empty compliments. Just because you hate someone doesn’t mean you have to act on it, and frankly the fact that you chose to hate me based on my also being a trans woman speaks volumes about the path you have chosen to follow. You can still change, but you have to lay down your arms and realize that we indeed, as the song says, are on the same side. I’m not your enemy, and I critique your choice of hatred the same way I critique the community in general, because I expect better. You punched down to feel better about yourself, and though it may have worked in the short term, you’re choosing a pattern of destruction that will ultimately harm all of us.

Respectfully Submitted,
Erica, who referred to way too much 90s indie rock in this post and has no shame about it.

p.s.: I drank the beer out of the bottle. Call the girl police, and file a report.

p.p.s: for those of you who aren’t from the Pacific Northwest, Fred Meyer is a mega-mart from before there were mega-marts, owned by Kroger but still pretty independent, union, and locally controlled. There’s even one on Sleater-Kinney Road.

Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed: TDoR Still Fails Trans Women of Color

Content warning: Discussion of suicide and ostracism of trans women, significant fatphobic hatespew is involved on the part of Andrea James. Proceed with appropriate caution if this might cause you pain.

It’s with a heavy heart that once again I address all of you before yet another Transgender Day of Remembrance that still  fails trans women of color, fails trans victims of suicide, and directly refuses to count trans people killed by police and in custody. TDoR remains a day dedicated to dividing our community, an already divided and fractious community, rather than bringing us together. Yes, this is directly related to the insular and panicked community we have, but it’s also connected to the problem behind TDoR itself: its “ownership” by Gwen Smith, whose refusal to discuss race on the official TDoR site along with her somewhat narrow choices as to what deaths do and don’t matter, strangles the opportunity for TDoR to do better.  It’s time for trans women of color to boycott TDoR, because it’s a minstrel show.

I’ve talked about Gwen Smith’s mismanagement of TDoR (and claim of “ownership”) before and on my old blog I tried to strike a more conciliatory tone, but nothing has changed since 2012 when that entry was published. Other people smarter than I have talked about it, too, and they echo almost identical concerns. Unfortunately, because Ms. Smith has positioned herself as beyond dialogue, it’s impossible to talk about why choosing not to discuss race on the ‘official” TDoR site that local TDoR events use leads to individual events that don’t talk about race….and what does it say about us that reading a list of dead that are mostly dead trans women of color is an ‘event’?  It’s impossible to discuss that deaths of trans people (again disproportionately trans people of color) at the hands of police or in a correctional system that tortures trans people (especially trans women) need to be counted as part of any memory of our dead who were murdered, but Ms. Smith doesn’t count those deaths, nor discuss that criticism when it’s made.

Or perhaps only “important” trans people are able to make any criticism. After all, the ‘trans community’ is devoted to remaining as Whites Only as humanly possible and often slagging off the struggle of some trans people as acceptable losses, which says a lot about community priorities. I think that in this world of manufactured scarcity in the ‘trans community’ that what actually ends up happening is the belief that only certain voices are valid and this creates a situation where trans women target each other trying to be “important”. If you’ve seen Andrea James’ consistent harassment of Parker Molloy, harassment based on things like body size, no shock given what a raging fatphobe Ms. James has shown herself to be, you’ve got a fine example of someone engaging in just this kind of bullying in reply to Parker’s criticism. Now, I’ve argued with Parker, I don’t cosign everything she’s done, and we don’t see eye to eye on everything, but I value her voice and disagree with Andrea James’ apparent desire to silence her.  Ms. James is acting in a manner that implies that there is no space for dissenting voices that don’t toe her HBSer line as public figures, and her harassment about shallow things like Ms. Molloy’s weight and appearance really shows exactly what Ms. James’ priorities are.

So what the hell does this have to do with Ms. Smith deciding she’s above criticism? Well, we have a narrow, strangled community because of how closed it is to people who are something besides “just trans.” If you’re disabled, you’re unwelcome. If you’re a person of color, you’re unwelcome. I call this the “Ingersoll Effect”, named for the hateful nest of vipers which is the point of entry into “trans community” here in Seattle and whose support group is pretty much openly and proudly abusive to almost everyone. It keeps the people who are “known enough” to have a place at the table very abled, very white, and very closed. As I have for the past two years, I emailed the people in charge of the TDoR in Seattle, the ones who claim not to have organizing meetings that people have bloody mentioned going to, and once again this year got silence, most likely because of the ‘who the fuck are you’ effect that is furthered by actions like Gwen Smith believing she’s above discussion with the hoi polloi. Now, to be abundantly clear hereI don’t want to be important, nor am I asking to be…I just want to participate. I want my being disabled to not mark me as lesser, I want the fact that I’m not white and that my body cant meet Caucasian-Western-Northern cishet beauty expectations to not be seen as a mortal sin by trans community. The fact remains that our community remains homogenous and closed because of people like Ms. Smith and Ms. James and tinpot tyrants who decide who is and isn’t “good enough” in community spaces around the country, and there’s an unfortunate cost to community being closed to newcomers: being shut out of spaces is killing us.

(As a personal aside, it’s come pretty close to killing me. One of my attempts came about as a result of a particularly savage mocking at the hands of an Ingersoll facilitator, who called me “it” and spent five minutes informing me in front of the group what a horrible, ugly person I was…just because I went there to ask for a list of safe doctors to see for a trans woman, information I was informed I had to go to Ingersoll meetings to obtain. I didn’t get that information. The scathing, venomous rejection from the community that’s allegedly yours is the most painful and hateful rejection that there is, and the fact that Ingersoll keeps talking about inclusion but never actually bothers to change is a very sad statement on how much we’re willing to accept savage, cruel treatment of our own kinfolk.)

It’s killing us by a lack of access to medical care, a lack of access to community resources, and oh yes, it’s killing us because we kill ourselves. Trans suicide, unlike the other deaths reported and unreported by TDoR, is still structural violence, and unlike this other structural violence, it hits all sorts of trans people, from white CAFAB nonbinaries on down to trans women of color. There’s no good suicide statistics, but I certainly hear plenty about suicides of trans women as more numerous than suicides of trans men, but it keeps happening across the board. The primary reason is a transphobic/transmisogynist world, but “Men’s Rights” types and their kin radical fauxminists are especially willing to harass trans women, and the specific harassment of trans women from within by HBSers and their New Separatist ilk reinforce this toxicity and make trans women who don’t fit a narrow “acceptable” narrative, body type, and economic status rampantly unwelcome. Just like transphobic violence affects all trans people but disproportionately affects disabled trans women and trans women of color, our suicides are aided and abetted by both outside factors that hate women of color, like the aforementioned MRAs and radfauxs, as well as our own ‘trans community’ rejecting us in life and crying over us in death.  The very suicides that Ms. Smith refuses to count follow the same pattern as the homicides Ms. Smith counts…as well as the ones she doesn’t count. The message is very clear: that we’re disposable, that we’re acceptable losses.

TDoR generally sees trans women of color as acceptable losses as a central part of the minstrel show that it is. You can’t have a list of dead trans people without it mostly being dead trans women of color with a significant scattering of disabled trans women, too. This common thread between trans suicide and homicides of trans people is no accident, because the violence of rejection may not be the same force of violence that comes from a killer’s blade, but it’s violence nevertheless, and that violence drives some people to suicide. That violence, unlike the violence of a killer, is tolerated and even encouraged in our community. From Ryan Blackhawke’s since-deleted libelous comments complaining about last year’s version of this article to Andrea James’ harassment to the exclusionary nature of the only spaces trans women have (spaces like Ingersoll) comes this violence, and it needs to stop.

TDoR is still broken and still fails trans women of color. Gwen Smith still keeps the list manicured and controlled for whatever political purpose she’s aiming for, refusing to discuss race on the official site of TDoR itself, a day Ms. Smith continues to claim to “own”, and she hasn’t shown any willingness to change the reprehensible fact that deaths in custody don’t count when trans women are frequently targets of police harassment which disproportionately affects trans women of color, which leads to the logical conclusion that we’re more likely to be victims of police and governmental violence. She hasn’t expanded discussion of race, encouraged local TDoR ‘events’ to discuss race, or done much besides leave a snippy comment that I didn’t approve last year linking to one tweet about it. One tweet, brothers, sisters, and non-gendered brethren.  Ms. Smith still isn’t counting suicides, or talking about what leads to trans suicides, probably because that would require looking within to the white ‘trans community’ power structure that enables her community’s exclusion as being just as complicit in these suicides as family rejection, medical access issues, employment difficulties, and toxic MRA/radfaux harassment.

It’s time for trans women of color to boycott TDoR and I implore trans people of color to boycott in sympathy and because you’re being ignored by Ms. Smith et al until your deaths are politically useful also. Enough is enough, and we need to be welcome in life in the ‘trans community’ 365 days a year, not just in death. If you’re white, I say go, and make an unholy stink about race if it isn’t discussed, but if you want to boycott too, just make sure the local organizers know why. If race is discussed, and they’re doing a good job (I hear the TDoR down in Tacoma has done well on this, for example), let it be known, because that’s good. But let Gwen Smith know, too, because her refusal to discuss all of these things taints TDoR. It’s time for Ms. Smith to be thanked for her past service, and pass the torch along to the trans women of color whose deaths she’s used for political gain for years. It’s time for ‘trans community’ to include us, not just use us for a once-a-year Dead Trans Women of Color minstrel show.

See, you can’t have a minstrel show without a cast, and we ain’t gonna dance for you anymore, Ms. Smith.

#GamerGate? More like #GamersWhoHate, amirite?

Content warning: This post addresses “Men’s Rights Activist” bullshit and the  pro-patriarchy white supremacist, misogynist, and especially transmisogynist positions inherent to MRAs. Links may go to places you might not want to go, so you’re duly warned. It also contains links to my old blog, where I used an acronym I choose to not use anymore to refer to radical fauxminists.

In the past month and a half or so, the “#Gamergate movement” has risen to pretty much dominate Twitter with its…well, I have no idea what the hell GamerGate is about. It claims to be about “ethics in games journalism” (but can’t be arsed to take on MetaCritic, if you know what I mean, since they’re too busy harassing women) but in practice has actually been about harassing women and minorities online, especially those of us in gaming. #GamerGate, though claiming to be leaderless, is centered around the MRA hate movement  (and MRAs themselves are patting themselves on the back for it...) and seems to be serving the ends that Misogyny Reinforcing Assholes work for: white supremacy, subjugation of women, and trying to bring about some bizarre Gorean RP of 1950s “White Suburbia” in the US. GamerGate also has shamelessly leveraged this anonymity to ensure maximal infliction of terror and minimal accountability for that terror. It’s a sort of leveling up of MRA rhetoric to use this anonymity as part of their harassment campaign, but it also leads to an ability to claim MRAs have nothing to do with it when it suits them.

GamerGate has a side movement called #NotYourShield that is either the most incorrect use of the term “not” in history or proof that a bunch of self-described gamers is unable to understand shield mechanics. While there are some actual users who embraced NYS so that they could serve as GamerGate’s shield for some reason or another, it’s largely a manufactured movement courtesy of 4chan. The mass sockpuppetry that NYS brings us with a handful of actual accounts that have been around for a while leads one to doubt what the actual intent is, which seems to be to be thrown out as extant whenever one criticizes the wholesale and toxic misogyny of GamerGate. And while we’re at it, the presence of women in NotYourShield, the ones that aren’t sockpuppets that is, is conditional on embrace of MRA theology and GamerGate’s harassment…you can’t challenge that. In other words, a hashtag claiming not to be a shield is in fact the people being used as one. Pretty sneaky, GamerGate.

So if that’s not bad enough, now that GamerGate has flooded the internet with its demands for “ethics in gaming journalism” (which still haven’t been clearly stated, other than whining about Kotaku) some of its architects are actually admitting it was about harassing women. There’s GamerGate’s “based lawyer”, a massively misogynist, transmisogynist, ablest, fatphobic tool named Mike Cernovich. And then there’s the rampant anti-Semitism present in GamerGate to the point they’re riffing on actual Nazi propaganda to libel Anita Sarkeesian. And there’s the time they tried to take over tables belonging to a reserved party having nothing to do with GamerGate at Ground Kontrol, a barcade in Portland. Oh, and a whole bunch of Twitter accounts that responded to GamerGate harassment got suspended for “spamming”, but there’s no proof that despite the complete correlation between people responding to their harassment getting suspended that it actually was GamerGate. It’s just a curious, curious coincidence. In the past week, GamerGate has become more aware than ever that it’s circling the drain now that even its own adherents admit it’s about harassing women and copying and pasting thoroughly debunked lies about Zoe Quinn.

I’m a woman. I play games. I’m the best damn resto shammy on my server. I knew how Skyrim’s main questline ended like a week before anyone else I know. I used to play tabletop, but lack a venue and safe place for that, and my local friends aren’t into that sort of thing. I’m also a trans woman, and have been a pretty constant target for MRA shittiness since I started writing my first blog. I consider MRAs to be equivalent to radical fauxminists in their thirst for the blood of trans women, and the wholesale and repeatedly documented transmisogyny of the “Men’s Rights” movement is at this point indisputable. Unlike radical fauxminists, a fringe movement that claims that advancing pro-patriarchy ends in the guise of feminism as ‘feminist’, this is the bloody mainstream of the “Men’s Rights” movement, their sacred leaders who dispense MRA theology. (They’re rampantly hateful toward lesbians, too. Oh, and they’re saying trans men are the same as lesbians. Grossbuckets!)  There have been some highly misguided trans women who believe that following MRA theology, even as it degenders us and yet subjects us to the same misogynistic hate as all women, makes sense. I guess that’s the same sort of anger that leads trans women who engage in allegedly “gender-critical” pro-patriarchy fauxminism to punch down on other trans women and some cis women leads people down the garden path holding hands with the MRAs who work hard to wipe us out. I mean, MRAs, radical fauxminists, HBSers…it’s the same hate.

So why do I say this? Well, it’s because GamerGate is a special threat to trans women beyond just a threat to women in general since it’s basically an MRA recruiting event, and a lot of us who are trans women are gamers. In fact, there’s been some serious exploration of the idea that gaming worlds are the first places many of us explore our gender identity and safer spaces for us to occupy. It wasn’t for me personally, but I can relate, as the only characters I really “RP” (that’s roleplaying for you non-gamer sorts) are male characters because I’ve been intensely interested with how much differently people treat someone they assume to be a gent, and because come on, tauren all look pretty gender-neutral and you can make “mess with the bull” jokes much more easily.

Alright, now that I’ve exhausted my clutch of WoW in-jokes (…did someone say [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker]?), it’s time to be real: the MRA-led harassment campaign that is GamerGate affects all women, but has a disparate impact on trans women. In fact, some of the most specifically acidic harassment and most liberally dispensed death threats by this MRA hate campaign have been implying that one of their harassment targets is a trans woman. It’s not my place to address if she’s trans or not, but that’s because it’s none of my goddamn business and it don’t make the death threats she’s received any different.  Separately, GamerGate is harassing an out trans game dev, too. GamerGate is defined by and holds misogyny as one of its core values, so transmisogyny being part of their game too? This shouldn’t surprise anyone with a pulse…or any lich, for that matter.

It’s time to stand up and present a united front, queers in general and trans people in specific: GamerGate is a toxic and execrable hate campaign to drive women who don’t fall in line with MRA theology out of gaming, no more, no less. This is bad for all women, and especially bad for women who MRA theology targets in particular: trans women, lesbians, sex workers, and women of color, but don’t think for a second that MRA theology is anything less than toxic to all women, and possibly even some men, as their reverence for patriarchy and boundless hate for anyone who doesn’t follow them unquestioningly has overflowed into a movement that uses its leaderless, structureless nature to terrorize the people that MRAs hate. It’s time to say no to GamerGate and MRA hate alike, because this is a movement born and raised to hurt women, and in particular marginalized women, and tell us gaming isn’t for us. There’s nothing “ethical” about that, and there’s nothing “ethical” about GG’s MRA core’s desire: dominion and control over yet another space.

We say no. And we all know how much MRAs love it when you say no, but we say no.

Zoraida Reyes was a real person, not just a name on a list.

Disclaimer: I didn’t know the woman. I have no interest in claiming the loss of a person I didn’t know as a personal tragedy for me, no matter how au courant that is in the “trans community.”

So I’m reading Facebook on a Sunday morning when I come on a bunch of reposts of a Daily Kos article about the tragic and untimely death of Ms. Reyes. You know how FB clumps them together now, so 7 out of the 190ish people I update about minutae in my life saw it fit to post.

The comments of other users were largely supportive or a bit angry. But the keystone was one white trans guy (the selfsame one who called me an “asshole on the internet” and an “ungrateful bitch” over my blog post on how bullshit Gwen Smith’s ownership and shitty stewardship of TDoR is) who made comments on multiple posts about “another name for the list” and “another name we have to read”. There was also some question on his part about if Zoraida was her correctly-gendered name, since he’d ‘never heard of it before’ and ‘it’s important to get names right on the list.’ Now, if this happened to be Oskar Schindler, who had to be absolutely accurate to assist in saving lives, I’d be alright with that. But this is a white guy from suburbia who needs that list of dead trans women of color so he and his can talk about what a tragedy it is, whilst he and his don’t actually know more than one or two token trans women of color, and that bunch sure as shit never listens to us. He’s completely detached from that list being anything but names, our deaths anything but a score.

This guy is symbolic of the problem, just like Gwen Smith’s continuing refusal to turn TDoR leadership over: white people who live in bubbles and think they get to determine the course of our community. White people who steer “trans community” into the rocks and then yell at those of us rowing in the trenches it’s our fault we rowed into them. We’re reduced by these folks to being names on a list in death and tokens to be trotted out when it suits their white needs in life.

Ms. Reyes was a real human being. Not someone who can be reduced to a name, or the shitty lurid coverage media outlets are providing of her death. She’s not a name on a list, she was a real person with a life, a family, hopes, and dreams, and now she’s dead.

Let’s talk about that tragedy as a community, not about how she’s a name on a list. Let’s talk about how to protect trans women and girls of color at all costs rather than continuing to consider our deaths part of the cost of doing business and often parroting the comments of less supportive cis people who feel we deserve it somehow. Let’s create real change rather than seeing our whole role as trans women and girls of color being that we’re supposed to get killed and be names on a list or being tokens who can speak at your gathering to pad your “diversity” and then throwing us back in the basement for the rest of the year.