Cece McDonald

On June 5th, 2011, Cece McDonald, a young trans woman of color, was walking in the street with her friends when one white man and two white women attacked her with transphobic, racist language which eventually escalated to physical violence in which Cece’s salivary gland was damaged. She tried to defend herself with a pair of scissors, and ended up stabbing the white male attacker, fatally wounding him.

She alone was arrested, and charged with second degree murder. On June 4th, 2012, she was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

Cece will first serve in a men’s prison, after which the state will make their “own determination of McDonald’s gender,” according to the StarTribune Minneapolis.

I’ve hesitated a long time before posting on this. It’s hard to know what to say. For Cece McDonald, and women like her, this country, this world, shows itself to be completely devoid of justice. The changes that need to happen for women like Cece to be safe and have justice in our country are deep, structural, radical. And they need to happen.

Across the nation, people are doing what they can for Cece. Here’s the Support Cece McDonald website, where you can get updates, print out posters, read her blog, and write her letters. Our own GendeRevolution is doing a letter-writing campaign–get involved here. And keep apprised of any new updates–all of us have to be informed of what goes on with issues such as these, that yoke racism, transmisogyny, cissexism, and police and legal discrimination.

This culture needs an overhaul. When we can have nightmarish moments where the young, innocent, and multiply oppressed can find not a speck of justice, we know we have a broken system on our hands. What are we going to to? How are we going to deconstruct? How are we going to rebuild? How are we going to heal? Where are we going to find the courage?

Ask yourself these questions, but also, take action. Even together, it’s not enough. But we have to start somewhere.


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Safer Sex for Trans* Bodies, Part I

So a little while ago I did a workshop about HIV in the trans* community. While I was researching, something I came across over and over was that trans* people lacked education about safe sex, because no one targeted them specifically, or if they did, lacked useful knowledge (and I suspect unwittingly insulted them with ignorance of trans* issues and terminology). A lot of this comes from the fact that doctors spend minimal time getting trained about sex and gender (let’s just say that in all the years of med school, the hours spent on those topics are not in the double-digits), and also that LGBT activists tend to be all about the LGB and not so much about the T (a rant for another day). In any case, I am going to try to make a little comprehensive guide to fill that void.

I suppose we should start with the basics–what is it that you are protecting, when, and what from?

Trans* bits:

Trans* people have all sorts of genitals (just like cis people, really). They may have been assigned female at birth, if they have external genitals that look like this:

This is what the external genitals look like of someone who a doctor would assign female, meaning that this person internally has a uterus and ovaries, two X chromosomes, and when they reach puberty, estrogen will define their secondary sex characteristics. Intersex people may also be trans*, and this could very well be the external genitalia of someone with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, or other intersex variation. It also could be the external genitalia of a trans man, who identifies as male and may or may not take testosterone. It might also belong to a trans woman who has gotten genital surgery. Basically, these genitals could belong to most anyone, of any kind of sex or gender. Same holds true about this:

Again, people might or might not have any of these internal systems. This system could belong to a trans woman. The person who owns these bits may call what is labeled “penis” on this chart their clit. They might call the “rectum” their vagina. Anyway, I don’t want to get off-track, but the point is that it’s uncool to assume things about what people have going on under their clothes, inside their bodies, and what words they want to use to talk about it. For more about intersex genitals, check out this incredible article, that says and shows it all way better than I ever could.

Here are some illustrations from that article. Basically, it’s gonna expand your world.

To sum up: trans* people may have what is traditionally thought of as “male” genitalia, “female” genitalia, intersex genitals, and surgically constructed genitals. All of these kinds of genitalia are vulnerable to STDs, some of them can get pregnant, and some can get someone else pregnant.

If the words I am using are confusing you, check out the glossary.

Any questions so far? Tomorrow I’ll be back with part II, when we get into what safe trans* sexytimes are all about.

UPDATE: I have received criticism that this post conflates trans* and intersex people. I was pretty disappointed with myself, because that is exactly what I was trying NOT to do. I have edited it, but I also want to make sure that this is clear: Trans* and intersex people are not the same. Trans* people do not identify with their birth-assigned sex and the gender they were raised with. This may or may not be true for intersex people. However, some trans* people identify as coercively assigned at birth, which means for some people that they are intersex, but were coercively, through surgical intervention or otherwise, assigned “male” or “female.” And since many intersex people, coercively or not, are assigned one of the two binary genders to be raised with, they can sometimes be trans* as well as intersex.

I included this in my post because I really want to represent the biggest swath of the trans* population. I am torn because I do not want to misrepresent, but I also don’t want to exclude. Going forth, I hope I can make this much clearer.


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End of semester? Back to work.

Hey kids.

I am so remiss to have let this blog languish over the semester, but I have been engaging a little concept we call self-care, which has sadly meant not keeping up with yet another project. But! The semester is over and I promise I’ll be on this more.

Look forward to:

-A post on safer sex for trans* people

-A blog about self-care (just inspired myself, see above)

-Some dissection of recent news and policy changes

-More international stuff

-Thoughts about intersectionality

…and much more! Also, I take requests. Email transcolumbia@gmail.com, or get me when I post these things on facebook, or comment.

Thank you, everyone who’s been reading and checking back. Don’t think you’re not important to me.

Lastly, a bit of reader appreciation: W commented and told me about a petition to stop an anti-LGBTQ rights bill that was on the table in Russia. Since I hadn’t been checking, the petition already went through, got nearly 250.000 signatures, and (I’m not exactly sure if it is related, but) the bill was not put into law. Read more here. Sorry for missing this, but next time I’ll be on it!

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

This Sunday is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day when we remember all the community members we’ve lost to violence, injustice, negligence, and hatred directed at trans people. The trans people who took their own lives because of the alienation, fear, abuse, brutality they experienced. The trans people who the police didn’t, wouldn’t protect. Who were denied healthcare, emergency care, the help that they needed. Who were the victims of hate crimes. Who fell through the cracks and were never seen again.

On Friday GendeRevolution will be meeting at the Columbia gates and going down to the Center (208 W 13 Street) for their annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Please join us there at 6 o clock (facebook event here).

This is a difficult subject for me to even write about but I am going to try to post more about it in the coming days. In the mean time here is the GLSEN page about what you can do for TGDOR.

Stay strong, everyone.

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The Sex Ed We Need

oh hey congress you see us!

So this would seem not even gender-related, but there’s an awesome and sassily-named sex ed bill in Congress right now, called the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2011. It is totally comprehensive and just epically worded, and check out this gem:

” [the education must] cover a broad range of topics, including medically accurate, complete, age and developmentally appropriate information about all the aspects of sex needed for a complete sex education program, including–…

(v) gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation…”

Look! We are up in there!

I’m so excited. If you are too, you can do a bit of activism and email the representative from your voting area. Do that in an absurdly easy way here. And read the rest of the text of the bill here.

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UPDATE: Tomboy will be playing at the Long Island Film Festival this Saturday! More info here. Thanks Mounia!

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Coming Out Day Brunch

“You’re invited to come out to brunch! The Coming Out Day Brunch is meant to expand our community and bridge the gaps between alumnae, students, and faculty. This event is a great opportunity for people to meet and network as such communities are rarely given a chance to communicate with one another despite their shared experiences. Whether you are queer or an ally, please come and have brunch with us !

Sunday, October 23rd
Sulzberger parlor”

Do it. The rainbow pancakes command you.

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