Marry the Movement #intersectionality #race #gender #class #sexuality #ability #age #markersofdifference
The Supreme Court of the United States has issued many opinions affecting the lives of marginalized people across the country this week. We know that here in the South our SONG family will be grappling with the reality of our lives, many of which have been made worse by the Supreme Court’s rulings affecting Affirmative Action, the Voting Rights Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act and the 5th Amendment.
While the court also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8, SONG knows that all the good that can radiate out from those decisions is because the climate around the lives and realities of LGBTQ people in our country has changed. Why has it changed? Because LGBTQ people and our families, friends and allies have made it change. We have come out, we have transformed our lives and each other, and we have built power in countless ways. That work makes these moments happen AND we still have so much work to do together as LGBTQ people… the regression and contradictions of the decisions affecting People of Color in this country highlight that reality.
We know that in times like these we need each other and that we must turn to each other in the spirit of our collective survival. There is still much work to be done in order to bring the reality of true justice home to the South: so join us in Marrying the Movement: until every LGBTQ person has full dignity, safety, and liberation.
This year it’s ten years since same-sex marriage was first possible in Canada and the US Supreme Court will soon rule on the question. What is so troublesome about the push for same-sex marriage?
The same-sex marriage agenda in the U.S. has been heavily critiqued by a wide variety of queer and trans activists because it fails to meaningfully address the key material problems facing queer and trans people, such as criminalization, immigration enforcement, poverty, health care access and homelessness, while it consumes enormous resources. It also has been a conservative shift in queer and trans politics, which has moved away from feminist and anti-racist critiques of marriage as a terrible and unfair way to distribute life chances and toward a conservative celebration of marriage as key to healthy families. This has happened alongside a right wing push in the U.S. to blame poverty on people’s failure to marry and to further cut poverty alleviation programs. In the U.S., after same-sex marriage is legal, queer and trans people will still face the same problems of a racist and violent growing immigration enforcement system, a growing wealth divide, and racist mass imprisonment. Some people who have immigration status or wealth to share with a partner will benefit, but the queer and trans people in the worst situations will still be facing the same dangers.
You’ve expressed serious concerns about trans people’s push for formal legal equality, such as their inclusion in protection from hate crime. What’s wrong with that goal?
Hate crime laws that provide more resources to law enforcement and/or enhance criminal penalties have been critiqued by many trans organizations and activists because they do nothing to prevent attacks against trans people but they expand the criminal punishment system which is the most significant source of violence against trans people in the U.S. They build that system in our names, and that system has been growing rapidly for several decades, such that now the US is the most imprisoning country in the world, with five per cent of the world’s population and 25 per cent of the world’s prisoners. A trans movement that is really about reducing harm and violence to trans people has to be an anti-criminalization movement, and a movement that doesn’t just try to get the law to say something our lives are meaningful, but instead seeks to dismantle legal systems that are killing us.
In your organizing and activism, you follow a different approach. Tell us about that.
I’m part of trans activism and organizing that centers poverty and racism. This work aims to analyze what is actually shortening trans people’s lives and work on changing those material conditions, so it centers trans people experiencing imprisonment, poverty, immigration enforcement and other life and death issues. It seeks to provide immediate support to people in those conditions, to dismantle systems that create those dangers, and to build systems and ways of being together that actually give people what they need.
What would be a major victory or advance for you on the path towards greater justice for trans people?
I’ll name a few of the things people in the US are working on that would be a significant benefit to trans people’s well-being: decriminalizing prostitution, stopping federal programs where local police forces turn immigrants they arrest over to the immigration authorities, ending exclusion of trans health care from health insurance programs, getting rid of surgery requirements for changing gender on ID, decriminalizing drugs, ending “3 strikes” laws, getting rid of sex offender registries. These are all vitally important efforts to address the violence trans people are facing, and they are part of broader trans political visions of a world without prisons, border, or poverty.
From Think Progress:
Two Tennessee lawmakers introduced legislation that would tie welfare assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to the educational performance of students who benefit from it, and the legislation was approved by committees in both the state House and Senate last week.
Under the legislation brought by two Republicans, a student who doesn’t not make “satisfactory progress” in school would cost his or her family up to 30 percent of its welfare assistance, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported:
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school.
As amended, it would not apply when a child has a handicap or learning disability or when the parent takes steps to try improving the youngster’s school performance — such as signing up for a “parenting class,” arranging a tutoring program or attending a parent-teacher conference.
When Campfield introduced the legislation in January, he said parents have “gotten away with doing absolutely nothing to help their children” in school. “That’s child abuse to me,” he added. Tennessee already ties welfare to education by mandating a 20 percent cut in benefits if students do not meet attendance standards, but this change would place the burden of maintaining benefits squarely on children, who would face costing their family much-needed assistance if they don’t keep up in school.
From the Margins to the Mainstream: In Defense of Henry Enuta & Other Intersex People Around the Globe
From Crunk Feminist Collective:
On March 26th, 2013 in Sapele, the Delta State of Nigeria, Pastor Henry Enuta was physically stripped and humiliated in public because he is an intersex person. According to news reports, he was almost killed by a lynch mob before being taken into custody by police. Most of the headlines covering this story grossly refer to Mr. Enuta as a “hermaphrodite” because he has genitals that are characteristically male and female. To sensationalize this story and humiliate Mr. Enuta even more, media outlets have published pictures of him bare chested and with torn clothes, holding onto his dignity while passers-by capture pictures of him with their mobile phones.
When I saw this story, I was horrified at how Mr. Enuta’s humanity was reduced to a mockery simply because his body did not conform to narrow standards of what a man’s body should be. For him to be forcibly stripped with no one to offer him clothes or rescue was atrocious. I was doubly astounded at how members of his community sought to kill him for the mere fact that he was different and considered some kind of freak. Nevertheless, given that this incident has taken place in Nigeria, I want to be very aware of my position as an African American queer intersex man living in the United States. People with intersex conditions living in the United States are just as vulnerable as intersex people living abroad. The medicalized and state sanctioned violence that impacts intersex people living in the United States is a pervasive, isolating, and silencing kind of violence that recreates stigma and shame.
In speaking out against this act, my goal is not to impose a critical, patronizing gaze on how people in Nigeria should respond to queerness or difference. Considering how the United States and Europe have responded to legislation that seeks to punish, kill, and “reform” queer people in Uganda, for example, I find myself both wanting to fight for the sovereignty of Black African nations and also asking those same nations to uphold the humanity and dignity of their queer and sexually differentiated citizens. Those of us committed to the upholding the dignity and respect of intersex people around the world must be willing to do the hard work of both checking our biases and privileges while also continuing to advocate for justice wherever injustice occurs.
Though Congress remains whiter, older, and more male than the nation as a whole, the incoming class will be the most diverse in history.
The 113th Congress will be more representative of the United States from race to religion, and from gender to sexual orientation. It will look more like America with 4 new African American representatives, 10 new Latinos, 5 new Asian Americans and 24 women in the House or Senate.* It will believe more like America with the first two Hindu congresspeople, the first Buddhist senator, and the first non-theist to openly acknowledge her belief prior to getting elected. It will love more like America, with 4 new LGBT congresspeople or senators, including the first openly bisexual congresswoman and the first openly gay congressman of color. And it will be younger, with four new congressmen born in the 1980s.
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The Senate version of this year’s Farm Bill cuts about $4.5 billion from SNAP. In real life, this means 500,000 households would lose $90 a month in benefits, according to the Food and Research Action Center. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee’s version, passed early this month, includes a staggering $16.5 billion in SNAP cuts. Per Feeding America, this would result in 3 million people losing all of their benefits, 300,000 children going without school lunch, and 500,000 households losing $90 in monthly grocery money.
I haven’t seen a race breakdown of these potential losses, but I can tell you that of SNAP households in 2010, 36 percent were white, 22 percent were black,10 percent were Latino, 2 percent were Asian, 3 percent were Native American (19 percent didn’t report their race). Most adult recipients were women and a hefty share were single moms.*
I don’t want to beat you over the head with stats, but it’s really important to note how many folks are using SNAP. About one in seven U.S. residents received this help in 2011, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The year before, three out of four households on SNAP included a child, elderly or disabled person. For the most part, SNAP participants were below the poverty line and their food budgets were very small. Here’s more from the CBO:
Most people who received SNAP benefits lived in households with very low income, about $8,800 per year on average in that year. The average monthly SNAP benefit per household was $287, or $4.30 per person per day. On average, SNAP benefits boosted gross monthly income by 39 percent for all participating households and by 45 percent for households with children.
A New Orleans nonprofit that works to address the HIV/AIDS crisis among women of color is regrouping after its offices were destroyed by arson last month, opening a temporary office today in a nearby church.
The attack comes amid a spate of violence against women’s health organizations across the South.
On May 24, someone broke into the building where Women With a Vision (WWAV) rented office space, setting it on fire. No one was injured in the blaze, but the group lost most of its office equipment and outreach material.
“They really got the room of the office that they thought was at the heart of our work, and so we do feel like it was intentional,” said WWAV Executive Director Deon Haywood (in photo).
WWAV was founded in 1991 by a grassroots collective of African-American women in response to the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color. The organization provides education and resources to individuals engaging in high-risk behaviors including injection drug use and unsafe sex practices.
WWAV also advocates for the human rights of sex workers, calling for an end to the local district attorney’s use of a centuries-old “crimes against nature” law to charge people arrested for sex work with felonies and to force them to register as sex offenders.
“We’ve had some issues with people not liking our work, or feeling like why are we helping certain populations of people — you know, formerly incarcerated people, people struggling with addiction, or poor or low-income women of color, and the transgender community,” said Haywood.