My 2016 in review

[Image: Pax Ahimsa Gethen | queer * black * trans * vegan * atheist | blogger * photographer | social justice | gender & animal liberation | pronouns: they * them * their]

This has been a difficult year for me emotionally. I know that applies to many, many others, considering the particular horrors of the election season. But my struggle with depression started decades earlier, and was only worsened by a growing awareness of the scope of violence in the world.

Still, I want to focus on the positive in this post. So here are some personal accomplishments that I can look back on with pride.

Public speaking

Pax at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest[Image: Pax speaks at a podium at the Vegan Soul Wellness Festival. Photo by Wayne Calhoon.]

I gave formal presentations at three events this year: The Intersectional Justice Conference in March, the Vegan Soul Wellness Festival in September, and WikiConference North America in October. I also spoke on a panel at the inaugural Bay Area WikiSalon, and on panels of trans and non-binary people on three occasions to graduate therapy students.

Photography

Bonfire Madigan at Rock Against the TPP[Image: Madigan Shive of Bonfire Madigan plays cello at Rock Against The TPP.]

I took photos at over 30 events this year, and contributed hundreds of images to Wikimedia Commons.  I reached one million views of my photos on Flickr. I continued to get new sponsors on Patreon to support my photography and writing.

Writing/editing

HuffPost - Journey Beyond Binary[Image: Headshot of Pax next to the words “Journey Beyond Binary – Huff Post”. Photo by Ziggy Tomcich, text by the Huffington Post.]

I posted 119 blog entries (including this one) this year. I cross-posted a few of them to Medium, and wrote a few original posts on that platform as well. One of my blog entries was featured in The Huffington Post.

I greatly increased my activity on Wikipedia, creating 16 new articles and making over 100 edits a month since May (putting me into the category of “highly active” editors). Speaking at the North American conference and getting my user page protection initiative implemented mean far more to me than my edit count, however.

Activism

Rally against racist police[Image: An attendee at a rally against racist police stands with fist raised in the air.]

BLACK VEGANS ROCK POSTER-cropped[Image: Black Vegans Rock poster, designed by EastRand Studios.]

I attended a number of rallies and protests, in support of Black Lives Matter and the LGBT+ community, and in condemnation of police brutality and white supremacy. I photographed them all, so you can find them through my photography tag.

My animal rights activism this year has been focused primarily on helping my friend Aph Ko out with Black Vegans Rock, which is about to celebrate its one year anniversary. I’ve been updating the Instagram page daily since July, and have helped out with the web site a bit as well.

Music

I attended Eli Conley‘s LGBT-focused class Singing with Instruments, and performed in October for the first time since my voice began noticeably changing, over two years ago. (No video or high-quality photos available, but I sang and played piano to Where’s the Orchestra? by Billy Joel.)

Running

Pax running at Crissy Field[Image: Pax runs while smiling and making a “V” sign with their fingers. Photo by Ziggy.]

I competed in six races this year: Two 5Ks, two 10Ks, a 12K, and a half-marathon.

Miscellaneous

DuoLingo Spanish trophy[Image: Screenshot of trophy for completing the DuoLingo Spanish “skill tree”.]

I continued my nearly three-year streak (1094 days as of today) on DuoLingo.  (I set the minimum daily number of “points” to 20, so maintaining this streak has required more effort than just checking in for a few seconds a day.) I also finished the Spanish “skill tree”.

Well, that’s about it for 2016. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Wikipedia, harassment, and inclusivity

I mentioned in a recent entry that I’ve been spending a lot of time editing Wikipedia lately. One of the contributions I’m most proud of is helping to reduce harassment by protecting user pages from editing by anonymous and new users. This change affects every registered user on the site.

The process started with an idea I submitted to the Inspire Campaign in June, which solicited ideas to combat harassment on Wikipedia. The proposal received a lot of support. So with the help of Chris “Jethro” Schilling from the Wikimedia Foundation, I created a Request for Comment (“RfC”) to implement the page protection, which was posted in August. The RfC was closed a month later with consensus to implement protection, which was done via an edit filter on November 30. You can read more about the process in an article by Chris in the Wikipedia newsletter, The Signpost.

While preemptively protecting user pages has been criticized by some as against the “anyone can edit” spirit of Wikipedia, the fact is that user pages are not actually part of the encyclopedia. There’s even a template saying as much, which I and a number of other editors have added to our user pages. As I said in the Signpost article and also mentioned during the most recent Bay Area WikiSalon (see video starting at 47:19), having my user page vandalized with deadnaming and misgendering felt like having hate speech spray painted on my front door. Protecting user pages doesn’t prevent vandalism and stalking elsewhere on Wikipedia and on other sites, but it is an important start.

As an aside, this month’s salon featured prolific Wikipedia editor Jim Heaphy giving a very informative talk about the Teahouse, a welcoming place for new editors. Some members of Jim’s family came along, including Dexter, an adorable Boston Terrier. You can see the rest of my photos from the event on Flickr, as well as on Wikimedia Commons (gallery may include photos from other contributors). Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks.

Dexter the Boston Terrier[Image: Dexter, a brown and white Boston Terrier, sports a colorful sweater.]

The Wikimedia Foundation has indicated that addressing harassment and creating safe spaces for participation—online and off—is a priority, which is encouraging. In addition to combating harassment on Wikipedia, I’ve continued to work on improving the representation of marginalized groups, particularly trans people. Wikipedia has a “Women in Red” project which seeks to address the content gender gap, as fewer than 20% of the biographical articles are about women. This week, I resurrected two articles from that list, both on black women: Debbie Goddard, an atheist and humanist activist; and Monica Roberts, a blogger and trans advocate. Both of these articles had previously been written, but redirected or deleted for lack of notability. I hope that the community allows them to remain this time around.

Stand with Standing Rock - SF[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline march past San Francisco City Hall.]

I’m also pleased that the Wikimedia Foundation has used one of my photos in an article about the Dakota Access Pipeline. I’ve seen this particular photo used on a number of sites around the web, and I feel slightly conflicted about that, since this was of a protest in San Francisco, not at the site of the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota. Still, I am glad to help bring attention to the nationwide protests in solidarity with the indigenous people.

I hope to continue contributing productively to Wikipedia and Wikimedia, as frustrating as the process can be at times. I feel it is a good use of my writing and photography skills, and an opportunity to make a difference in this troubled world.

Black Queer+Trans Love

[Image: Be Steadwell, smiling with arm outstretched, sings into a microphone.]

On Wednesday night I headed to Oakland for Black Queer+Trans Love Uncensored, an open mic and concert put on by Kin Folkz of Spectrum Queer Media (and volunteers). I’d met Kin last year at Black Queer Voices Rising, and many of the performers I saw at that event were at this one as well, including Blackberri,  Jay-Marie Hill, and Thea Matthews.

Kin Folkz[Image: Kin Folkz smiles, standing at a microphone in front of a sign reading (in part): “Spectrum Queer Media – Celebrating LGBTQIA Art”.]

Blackberri[Image: Blackberri sings while playing guitar.]

Jay-Marie Hill[Image: Jay-Marie Hill sings while playing the electric bass. A sticker on the bass reads “Unapologetically Black.”]

Thea Matthews[Image: Thea Matthews speaks into a microphone, wearing a shirt reading “The Black Woman Is God”.]

Thea was part of the Black.Seed queer liberation collective that shut down the Bay Bridge during a Black Lives Matter protest on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She and many of the other participants in the open mic addressed racism and white supremacy.

Be Steadwell[Image: Be Steadwell sings into a microphone.]

The headliner was Be Steadwell, who did a wonderful live looping performance.

I’m really glad spaces like this exist, as queer black folks are double marginalized. While enjoying the performances, I was thinking about a music class I recently attended for queer and trans folks (and our allies). I enjoyed the class and got a lot out of it, but couldn’t help noticing that I was the only black person in the room; out of 12 students, only one other appeared to be non-white.

The teacher of that class, a white trans man, is a great ally to black folks, and no one made me feel uncomfortable or anything. Back in my days of performing whiteness, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed or cared about the whiteness of that space, or any other. But since becoming more “woke”, it is always on my mind. I have more thoughts on this subject, which I’ll share in a future post.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Facebook, disasters, and the value of social media

A couple of weeks ago, oversaturated with news and commentary about Donald Trump that I’d been following nonstop for months, I decided to take a break from Facebook and most other social media and news sites. The last time I took a Facebook break, I was soon nagged by e-mails I didn’t sign up for about posts I didn’t care about; the same thing happened this time, and I had to unsubscribe from yet another notification list. I haven’t removed myself from the site completely, but avoiding posting and reading items in my news feed has been a welcome break.

While I tried to avoid reading or watching the news as well, I did happen to look at SFGate, and saw news about a fire in Oakland. Not realizing the scope of the disaster, I didn’t think much about it until I got a text from Ziggy, asking if I knew anyone who was there. Neither of us did, but we both had friends who were listed as “interested” in the Facebook event for the ill-fated concert at the Ghost Ship on December 2. This motivated me to read more about the incident, and I began contributing a substantial amount to the Wikipedia article on the fire. That article made the top of the “In the news” section of Wikipedia’s front page on December 4. (There wasn’t a good photo for the article available at the time of this screenshot; I later found some photos of the fire on Flickr, and convinced the photographer to upload them to Wikimedia Commons.)

Wikipedia In the News 12-4-2016[Image: A screenshot of Wikipedia’s “In the news” section. The top line reads, “A fire at a warehouse party leaves at least 30 people dead in Oakland, California.”]

Ultimately, 36 lives were lost in the fire. A number of the victims were from the LGBT+ community; several articles noted that the friends and family members of the trans victims were struggling with authorities and media sources misgendering and deadnaming them.

This tragedy got me thinking about Facebook and the value of social media in spreading information in times of emergency. Coincidentally, I had just read an article in Wired (not currently available online) that talked about “Facebook Safety Check”, which has been deployed to help people find out if their friends are safe. The program has not been without controversy, but clearly many have found it helpful. As many issues as I have with Facebook, I can’t deny the power of a platform that has over a billion users, and is not likely going away any time soon.

I’m in no hurry to return to Facebook myself, however. My blog has gotten relatively few hits even when I have posted the links to Facebook and Twitter, and I am basically OK with that. Increasing visibility for marginalized people like myself who speak on sensitive and controversial topics has led to increased violence against us, especially now that bigots have been emboldened by the election results. Others may be better equipped to handle the hate speech, but I’m not obligated to subject myself to it, any more than necessary. I’m currently preferring to spend more of my time editing on Wikipedia, though I face marginalization there too, as I’ve spoken about previously.

Regardless, I’m not shutting my platforms down. I will still take photos and blog occasionally. I’m planning to shoot at least two or three events this month, and will link to the photos here after posting them (as usual). Being away from social media means missing reading about some events that I might like to shoot, but I do still (willingly) get e-mails of Facebook event invitations, comments, and private messages. (Comments on this blog are currently closed, but I can still be e-mailed at the address listed in the footer of every page; I’ve updated my About page to reflect this change.)

As always, if you value the work I do here and have the financial means, please sponsor me on Patreon or leave me a tip. I appreciate the support.

Season of mourning

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is supposed to be a day of gratitude and happiness. While I have much to be grateful for, I feel nothing but sorrow and grief.

I grieve for the first Americans, whose genocide is the true origin of the Thanksgiving holiday, as you can see in Kat Blaque’s video (transcript available).

I feel sorrow for the water protectors at Standing Rock, who are being attacked and maimed by the police.

I feel sorrow for my fellow queer and trans people who are scared for their safety, and may be sitting down face-to-face with relatives who voted for a man who will put their lives in further danger. I feel sorrow for my fellow people of color (of all genders) and for women (of all races) who will be in the same situation.

I grieve for my fellow animals, whose bodies, eggs, and milk will be feasted upon in even larger amounts than usual on this day. I feel sorrow for vegans who will be mocked by non-vegan friends and family members for their beliefs, but vegans are not an oppressed class of people.

While boycotting the traditional Thanksgiving meal (even if it is a vegan-friendly one) is a symbolic gesture, oppressed people also need support with money and activism. The Stand with Standing Rock site has information on how to donate money and supplies, write letters to elected officials, and take other actions to help the indigenous people.

While I often feel hopeless, I know we are not powerless to change history for the better. Those who are able to confront oppressors without compromising their own health and safety can and should do so. Some publications have given advice on how to talk with Trump-voting family members on this holiday, but it is important not to center white feelings when doing so.

Pax with Ricky the rooster[Image: Pax holds Ricky, a rooster living at PreetiRang Sanctuary. Photo by Ziggy.]

The winter holiday season has always been a difficult time for me. I took some comfort in visiting an animal sanctuary, PreetiRang, on a beautiful fall day this week. Connecting with the residents there helps me realize how interconnected we all are, and how protecting the most vulnerable among us is a valuable lesson in empathy and non-violence.

I may not live to see a day when humans evolve beyond our culture of killing, but I hold out hope that we can overcome our oppressors and begin to make a more livable society.

Trans community and remembrance in San Francisco

[Image: Min Matson and Janetta Johnson speak on a panel, accompanied by an ASL interpreter.]

Yesterday I attended a Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) event at TRANS:THRIVE in San Francisco. Each year, trans people and our allies worldwide gather to memorialize those lost to violence, and reaffirm the resilience of our community.

Agatha Varshenka at TDoR SF[Image: Agatha Varshenka plays the violin.]

Holy Old Man Bull at TDoR SF[Image: Holy Old Man Bull speaks into a microphone with fist raised.]

The event began with viola and violin music by Agatha Varshenka, then an invocation from Holy Old Man Bull, a two-spirit Ohlone (whose land we are occupying). I remembered both of them from the Trans March.

TDoR SF altar[Image: An altar with photos, flowers, decorated skulls, and the transgender flag.]

El/La Para TransLatinas[Image: Representatives from El/La Para TransLatinas speak on stage.]

Representatives from El/La Para TransLatinas then spoke about the altar they created to honor the dead.

TDoR SF panel[Image: Janetta Johnson speaks into a microphone while Min Matson looks on.]

TDoR SF panel[Image: Claudia Cabrera speaks into a microphone while Kataluna Enriquez looks on.]

Akira Jackson at TDoR SF[Image: Akira Jackson sits on stage, holding a water bottle.]

Emcee Akira Jackson (who also performed at the Trans March and co-emceed at the Compton’s Cafeteria 50th Anniversary) then moderated a panel. The panelists were Janetta Johnson of the TGI Justice Project (who I also remembered from Trans March), Min Matson of the Transgender Law Center, Claudia Cabrera of Instituto Famliar de la Raza, and Kataluna Enriquez of Queen USA.

After the panelists answered prepared questions about the challenges and joys of being a member of the trans community and their hopes for the future, the audience was invited to participate. Some told emotional stories of the struggles and harassment they have faced. One asked if we could gather on more than just the three big occasions each year: TDoR, Trans March, and Trans Day of Visibility.

This event was held inside the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center in the Tenderloin—the same neighborhood as the Black Excellence Tour I attended earlier this month—and had an all-PoC panel. This was not a space that centered the cisgender white gay men who are usually the face of the LGBT community (as one audience member pointed out).  When a white trans woman who had some issues said “All lives matter,” Janetta Johnson graciously explained the purpose and intent of Black Lives Matter.

Kahanuola Salavea at TDoR SF[Image: Kahanuola Salavea sings while playing ukulele.]

Vi Le at TDoR SF[Image: Victory “Vi” Le sings into a microphone.]

The event concluded with more music, from ukulele player Kahanuola Salavea and singer Victory “Vi” Le.

In lieu of reading the names of those killed out loud this year, Gwen Park made a beautiful video. The tribute honored not only the 25 trans people murdered in the U.S. this year, but the 249 murdered worldwide. The video ended on a hopeful note, with montages of trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) people, past and present, who are “doing the work” of liberation; I was honored to have my image included.

Gwen also designed the “I <3 Trans People” T-shirt that Akira and Min are wearing. You can order one, with or without an additional donation, to help low-income trans and GNC people in San Francisco.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

ETA, November 22: A video of the TDoR event is now available.

Rallying against white supremacy

[Image: A protester speaks into a microphone, while standing under an umbrella in front of a banner.]

Yesterday I ventured out in rainy weather to attend another anti-Trump protest in downtown San Francisco. Unlike the one I attended last Sunday, this rally and march was organized by the ANSWER Coalition, which has mounted numerous protests against racism and imperialism. Having attended the rally against racist police that ANSWER co-sponsored this summer, I knew that they would center people of color at this rally, and not just to pander to Democrats.

I was not disappointed. The speakers condemned white supremacy and neoliberalism as much as they condemned Donald Trump himself, if not more so. Some in the audience seemed impatient at this, but this was not merely a group of Hillary Clinton supporters expressing disappointment that their candidate lost. These were people who have been fighting back against white supremacy all along.

ANSWER Coalition Dump Trump rally[Image: Protesters stand in the rain in front of a banner, with their fists raised in the air.]

I recognized one speaker from the Justice for Alex Nieto coalition, from another rally against racist police violence I attended this year. He pointed out that protesting, not voting, was what ousted San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr. He wore a shirt honoring another Bay Area person of color killed by the police, James “Nate” Greer. There’s plenty of racism right here in our “blue” state, sadly, and that’s always been the case.

ANSWER Coalition Dump Trump rally[Image: A protester stands in the rain holding a sign reading “Got $ for War but Can’t Feed the Poor. Party for Socialism & Liberation”]

ANSWER Coalition Dump Trump rally[Image: Protesters stand in the rain, holding signs.]

ANSWER Coalition Dump Trump rally[Image: A protester stands in the rain, holding up a sign reading “8 trans people have died since the election”.]

Many carried signs for socialist organizations. Other causes were represented as well. One held up a heartbreaking sign pointing out the impact of the election on trans people. I went up to them and told them I was trans, and invited them to attend today’s Trans Day of Remembrance event in San Francisco.

ANSWER Coalition Dump Trump rally[Image: A protester stands in the street in the rain, holding up a sign reading “Nasty women rise up!”]

ANSWER Coalition Dump Trump rally[Image: A protester plays the trumpet while standing in the street in the rain.]

After the rally at UN Plaza, we marched down Market Street. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve marched there, this year alone. The mood was lightened by a group of musicians, who I think were from the Brass Liberation Orchestra.

I was glad to have the company of my friend and fellow queer vegan Saryta at this rally. I encourage all vegans and animal rights activists to speak out against oppression of marginalized humans, at every opportunity.

My full set of photos from the rally is available on Flickr. Some are also on Wikimedia Commons (alongside photos from other contributors). Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Standing with the Sioux against white supremacy

[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline march past San Francisco City Hall.]

Yesterday I left home before dawn to join the San Francisco contingent of Stand with Standing Rock, a national day of action against the Dakota Access Pipeline that is threatening the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. You can read an essay here about the oppression of indigenous people that is going on right now in North Dakota, and has been going on since well before this election season.

The San Francisco event was organized by Idle No More SF Bay. Unlike the anti-Trump protest I attended this weekend, Tuesday’s protest had specific, clear demands, directed to the US Army Corps of Engineers:

  • Deny permit to bore under the Missouri River
  • Full Environmental Impact Statement must be completed.

Stand with Standing Rock SF[Image: Protesters stand in semi-darkness with signs and banners in front of San Francisco City Hall, which has NoDAPL projected onto it.]

The plaza was already filled with people when I arrived at 6:30 a.m. Protesters held large banners in front of City Hall, while images and texts were projected above them. At 7 a. m. a sunrise ceremony was performed, including prayers and music; at the request of the participants, I have not posted any photos of it.

Stand with Standing Rock[Image: A protester holds aloft a sign reading “Protect the sacred”.]

Stand with Standing Rock[Image: A protester holds a sign reading “We can’t drink oil! #NODAPL”]

After the sunrise ceremony, we gathered in three groups to march to the office building of the US Army Corps of Engineers on Market Street, where activists blocked the entrance while protesters filled the street.

Stand with Standing Rock[Image: Protesters holding signs and banners fill the street.]

Stand with Standing Rock SF[Image: Young people stand in the street, holding signs reading “We stand with Standing Rock” and “Together we stand”.]

Stand with Standing Rock SF[Image: Activists holding signs block the entrance to an office building; a police officer stands nearby.]

Stand with Standing Rock SF[Image: Activists sitting with arms linked block the side entrance to an office building.]

I am glad to have attended this day of action, which had a turnout of 2000 people or more, according to news reports. The protest went on until noon, but I was overwhelmed by the crowds and left around 9:30.

I follow a number of radical people of color online, and I am sympathetic to their complaints that white folks who are protesting Trump’s election have not been turning out in great numbers for actions like this. The 59 million+ people who voted for Trump reinforced hundreds of years of white supremacy, and the ongoing oppression of indigenous people is one of the many examples of this. I plan to continue attending anti-Trump protests as well, but will be following Black Lives Matter and like-minded activists for advice on effective resistance.

Allies who want to help can contribute funds and supplies to support the water protectors at Standing Rock. I donated to help Food Not Bombs give out vegan food and supplies there, via A Well-Fed World, which is matching donations up to $10,000.

My full set of photos from the protest is available on Flickr. Some are also on Wikimedia Commons (alongside photos from other contributors). Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Marching against hate in San Francisco

[Image: Trump protesterrs march through the Castro in San Francisco, holding signs with slogans including “Not My President”, “Queers Bash Back”, and “I Will Not Be Silent.”]

Yesterday I joined one of the many anti-Trump protests that have been taking place throughout the country since Tuesday’s election. This one did not have a specific group or organization sponsoring it. We gathered at the Powell Street cable car turnaround, where a Christian evangelist was preaching “love” in the form of denouncing anyone who didn’t accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. We shouted him down, and started marching through the Tenderloin to City Hall.

Trump protest SF[Image: Protesters hold signs reading “Not My President” and “Dump Trump.”]

Trump protest - Love Trumps Hate[Image: A protester holds a sign with an image of Donald Trump crossed out, and the words “Love Trumps Hate”.]

Trump protest - Hands Off Our Pussies[Image: A protester dressed as a vulva holds a sign reading “Hands Off Our Pussies”.]

City Hall was barricaded by fencing and police when we arrived, as expected. We stayed there for awhile, and I found my friend Dana, who hosted a Food Not Bombs serving I volunteered with for a couple of years. I was glad to see a friendly face, as I was in a terrible mood. We marched together for the rest of the day.

Trump protest at SF City Hall[Image: Protesters hold signs outside of a barricaded San Francisco City Hall.]

Trump protest - Not My President[Image: A protester wearing a Trans Lifeline T-shirt holds a sign reading “Not My President”.]

We marched on to the Castro, where we sat down in the street. A black woman (as far as I could tell) took the megaphone to address us, urging us to get to know the names of those sitting next to us, as we would need each others’ support. I appreciated that she was the first to speak, as I didn’t see many black or brown folks in this crowd.

Trump protest - Sit-in in the Castro[Image: Protesters sit in the street in the Castro, San Francisco.]

Trump protest - Sit-in in the Castro[Image: Protesters in the Castro are addressed by a black woman with a megaphone.]

We marched onto the Mission District, where we had another sit-down, and were told that the march would be continuing to the Ferry Building.

Trump protest - Sit-in in the Mission[Image: Protesters sit and stand in the Mission District, holding signs including “Never Again Not Mein Fuhrer” and “Remember Hitler Was Also Elected”.]

As darkness fell, we sat again on Market Street, near where the march began. One protester took the megaphone, saying that she was a child of immigrants, both Muslim and Jewish, and queer.

Trump protest - Market Street[Image: A protester speaks into a megaphone, surrounded by fellow protesters filming with cameras and smartphones.]

After over three hours of marching and demonstrating, we ended at the Ferry Building, where protesters again sat in the street, and offered the megaphone to anyone who wanted to address the crowd.

Trump protest at the Ferry Building[Image: Protesters occupy the street in front of the Ferry Building.]

I’m glad that I attended this protest, one of many more to come. I expect that the resistance will only intensify as the inauguration approaches, and that police will become increasingly aggressive in response. We must be prepared, and we must organize with specific goals in mind so that these rallies aren’t seen as merely the venting of sore losers.

My full set of photos from the march is available on Flickr. I have uploaded them to Wikimedia Commons as well (alongside photos from other contributors). Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Black trans excellence

[Image: Activists Joshua Allen and CeCe McDonald speak in front of a screen showing their images and the words “black excellence tour”.]

Yesterday I was still feeling very shaky and sleep-deprived after the election results, and was tempted to either stay home and rest or go out to join a demonstration. But I had committed to attending the Black Excellence Tour, featuring black activists CeCe McDonald, a trans woman who was imprisoned in a men’s facility for defending herself, and Joshua Allen, a gender non-conforming organizer and abolitionist.

CeCe McDonald[Image: CeCe McDonald speaks into a microphone.]

I had first seen CeCe speak at the Trans Day of Remembrance last November; my photo of her speaking there is currently featured on her Wikipedia page. She is the subject of the documentary Free CeCe, which I’m attending tonight at the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. I contributed to the fundraiser for this film, which also features Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black; CeCe was Laverne’s inspiration for her character on that show.

Hearing CeCe talk the day after the election was a great reality check. She said that she woke up that morning “unbothered”; with all the oppression she and folks like her have faced, including under the Obama administration, it was “just another day” to her.

CeCe is a woman who gives no fucks about respectability politics. She said we need to respect the people with their pants down around their knees and the heroin users as much as any other folks. This was especially poignant given the talk’s location in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The venue, Faithful Fools, offers ministry and services for the people in that troubled area. I had a good talk with Sam Dennison, one of the residents and workers there.

Joshua Allen[Image: Joshua Allen speaks into a microphone.]

Joshua Allen spoke about their activism for queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people, and the intersections of gender, race, and class, especially with regard to policing. I asked them a question about how to cope with being non-binary in a binary world. They replied that they had hope for change, and that if others tried to force their “gendered apparatus” on us then that was their problem, not ours.

I’m very glad I went to this event, and spent time in the company of queer and trans people of color. We need each others’ support, now more than ever.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

ETA: A video of the event has now been posted.

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