It was an interesting learning experience for me (and something which has happened since, I’ll get into this later).
It was, really, my first time engaging the trans* community in any meaningful fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I know other trans* people, but I don’t really engage with the ‘community’ especially not in terms of politics or whatever. Part of it is that I’m busy living my life and sorting through my own shit. Too busy to really keep abreast of the all the stuff.
I’ve spent the past year really, really thinking about my gender. Thinking and writing. Often at Womanist Musings, but also here and at the Biyuti Collective (which seems rather dead at the moment — no freaking time!). I know that Genderbitch had (but now removed) the site on her accountability list, which makes me wonder if this is why the white trans* community was unaware that I was there. Of course, I don’t want to imply that trans* people are a monolith or any such thing. Nor do I (not quite) expect that anyone should consider Renee’s blog mandatory reading. But it is a big-ish blog and it makes me wonder, if not this blog, what race type blogs are white trans* people reading? What people of colour are you engaging, trans* or not?
Because the issue isn’t me. I’m a small (tiny) voice on this vast inter-web. And I don’t really blog that much nor do I make much noise. I really am mostly blogging for myself and blogging to simply add another TPoC voice. I blog for the person of colour who emailed me and said that my posts on WM have been having a great impact for giving them ways and tools for thinking about their gender in non-white ways that resisted colonial gender constructions. Perfect. This person, and other PoC, are my real audience. But I am doing this on a public forum and anyone can read the blog or my posts.
I also learned early on in my blogging life that my anxiety over confrontations meant that I, for the most part, should stay out of active conversations. Example, this week on twitter I called someone out, whom I shouldn’t have. I got schooled, apologized, and now all is good. However, I spent the rest of the day jazzed from adrenaline and slept poorly. Indeed, I’ve not been at my best this week after getting seriously drained by #transchat. I can’t really afford to drain myself this way ’cause I’ve got a lot going right now.
And this does have me thinking about spaces and safety. ‘Cause I think most people recognized what a massive fail #transchat was last weekend. Yet… what can actually be done about this? My brain is trying to figure out how any space with white people could truly be considered ‘safe,’ particularly if I don’t know them. Or, in the case of my erroneous callout, how can I (over the internet) appropriately determine when a callout is important (given how many spoons they take away from me)?
This last point is important, since entering a space with whiteness means that I have to be on guard. It also means that I need to be prepared to call someone out, because we all fail. We do. I know I have (and have had to make my apologies). In a truly intersectional and diverse space, some people will have relative privilege over others. This will, invariably mean fuckups, callouts, and confrontation (which, I truly do be believe can challenge us all to grow and be better).
But other than raising awareness or whatever, what purpose does all of this serve? I know why white trans* people would want to have groups or communities that include TPoC, but I don’t see any real, compelling reason for me to participate. What benefit would it bring? My brain doesn’t net me a single one. I’m not interested in the white, colonial discourse of gender. I’m not interested in white trans* politics. Not interested in people who don’t appear to remember we exist, until they are reading the names of our dead during TDoR.
As I said during #transchat: you may not see us but we see you. We see you.
Think about that. Really, really think about it. Think about what this means. Think about all the conversations you’ve been having that erase, oppress, and appropriate TPoC. Think of all times you’ve never noticed the colonial nature of your discourse. Think of all language policing you might have done with someone already forced to use a colonizer’s language. Think of all the gatekeeping you do that excludes people who need the most protection.
Think about all of this and then think about how we see you.