Good Organizing, Useful Apologies
one of the reasons that i quit facebook was because i was tired of making it so easy for the government to compile data on me.
but i also left because so often online activism gets funneled thru mediums like twitter, tumblr, and facebook, companies deeply invested in making money off us using them and as a result really not a great form to produce norms of holding each other accountable with an end of transformation. (to read more about forms & norms check out Ruthie Gilmore’s essay in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded).
having witnessed & experienced years and years of subtle & overt trans women directed transphobia/exiling/shaming within online & IRL spaces i’ve come to have low expectations for how i’ll be treated outside of my home. low expectations for activist spaces like Occupy Wall Street or Critical Resistance, feminist spaces like the Lesbian Herstory Archives, art spaces like all of them and definitely queer dance parties.
low expectations are a strategy i’ve used to protect me from the near constant feeling of being forgotten about or not mattering. its a strategy that doesn’t really work because i still feel those things because harm happens in relationship and in community when particular bodies and experiences and lives are devalued and made to feel disposable.
so i was impressed this morning when i read Hey Queens public apology to the trans women in their community for how they handled the organizing around jd samson’s booking and the michfest boycott. i say organizing because so far a lot of this has been written of as just complaining/ranting/derailing, which is a tactic so often used to undermine organizing done by people experience oppression.
i don’t remember the last time anyone apologized to trans women in their community. and thats not because hey queen is the first space to devalue trans women.
harm happens to people in community and in relationship but i’m pleased to witness accountability in process in a way i haven’t before. i wonder what accountability and reparations would look like for all the other spaces that have historically exiled, shamed and devalued the lives of trans women, especially low income trans women, trans women of color, who have HIV/AIDS, who are disabled, have lived in prison, jails, homeless shelters, detention centers or psych hospitals and are navigating incredible isolation.
HRC/NGLTF/Michfest and so many others i hope your taking notes!
Hey Queen’s Apology:
We want to apologize to the trans women in our community as well as anyone else hurt or harmed by our actions. We are deeply sorry.
Booking JD Samson, a performer in violation the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival boycott, was a failure on our part. We now understand the harm and disrespect this decision caused our community. For this reason, we will not book performers who continue to play Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF), in an effort to support the boycott until MWMF’s transmisogynist policy is no longer.
In addition, we’d like to address our initial statements, which were dismissive and insensitive. We acknowledge that we were in the wrong. We are deeply sorry we did not take that opportunity to make a stronger stand in solidarity with trans women by standing against the blatant transmisogynist policy of the MWMF. We want to state publicly that we denounce this policy and are wholeheartedly in support of all self-identified women being openly encouraged to attend MWMF.
We’ve heard the feedback you’ve given us and are committed to learning from our mistakes. We want to change, we want to be transparent and accountable, we want to respectfully listen, and we greatly appreciate the letters you’ve sent us.
We turn to trans women for their leadership around this important issue. We also understand and respect that it is not the responsibility of trans women to educate us. We urge you, our community and family, to continue to give feedback on how to make our parties safer, more affirming, and more inclusive spaces for trans women and all LGBTQ+ people. Commenting is great, or you can email us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org if that feels more comfortable for you.
Sarah Jenny and Avory Agony
Co-Producers, Hey Queen!