Barnard and Columbia Trans Student & Faculty Mixer!

T(ea) Party Flyer

Trans T(ea) Party is a mixer organized and hosted by GendeRevolution and LGBTQ at Columbia for trans students and faculty, taking place in the Broadway Room in Lerner on Monday, February 13 beginning at 6pm. This event is for anyone affiliated with Barnard and/or Columbia University. Transgender and nonbinary students, faculty, staff, and alumni are all welcome.

The goal of this mixer is to provide a space for trans affiliates of B/C to network safely with one another across generations, departments, and experiences.

There will be delicious food and an exciting keynote speaker!

Please make sure to RSVP at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/transtparty
The RSVP is solely for a number estimate and will remain confidential.

Thank you and please consider attending!

For any questions, please email any of the following:
grboard@columbia.edu
cmw2206@columbia.edu
vag2135@tc.columbia.edu

Police Out of Pride

queer-liberation-no-police
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Police out of Pride, out of our lives & out of business now!
GIFS by Dean Spade + Hope Dector. Featuring art by Micah Bazant.

police-out-of-pride
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More on queer liberation and resistance to police & prisons:

Police + Prisons Don’t Keep Us Safe – We Keep Each Other Safe

Queer Liberation: No Prisons, No Borders

Dean Spade: History of Queers Against Police

You are SO Brave: Disability Studies vs. Disability Justice at #SF41

“You are SO BRAVE” is a statement most disabled people are used to hearing. Able-bodied and able-minded people frequently infantilize our experiences and lives for their own inspiration fetishes. But you might be shocked to hear these words coming from the mouths of disabled people at a conference surrounding disability studies and scholarly work, what is seen by many, especially the attendees, as a vital part of the disability justice movement.

Last September, I went to pick up flyers for the conference “Keywords and Key Questions” from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender Studies at Columbia. As a disability justice activist, I was excited to hear about the conference, as disability rights advocacy has been taking a new turn on campus this year, with the production of V-Day’s show Respect(Ability), the formation of various student groups, and the sponsoring of Invisible Disabilities Awareness Week by Student Life. My excitement quickly diminished, however, seeing the list of speakers and realizing that there were two panelists of color, Sayantani DasGupta and Michael Ralph, out of 25 speakers. As a member and organizer at FIERCE, I have met countless queer and trans disabled people of color: Kay Ulanday Barrett, Mark Travis Rivera, and more.

The reality is that disability work, just like anti-racist work, just like the LGBTQIA+ movement, and just like feminist politics, many times fails to be intersectional. White supremacy has permeated movements so deeply that when people in those communities who also hold other marginalized identities, specifically people of color, speak out about the lack of intersectionality, they are patronized and patted on the head. Instead of incorporating the ideas of intersectional justice into the disability movement, academic scholars are too focused on defending their work and their fields.

Despite the fact that I saw few panelists of color on the posters, I decided to give the conference a chance. As a member of the Social Justice House who had started a project to confront the issue of disability injustice at Columbia, I was curious to see what the faculty of this university was doing to support disability rights on campus. Perhaps they would address the issue of so few academics of color in disability studies. Perhaps these academics were still allies of people of color and would create conversation around issues that exclusively impact us. Perhaps there would still be a large audience of color who would ask questions to specifically lead panelists in the direction of race and disability. Unfortunately, none of this was the case. The conference was no more than a circle of primarily white disability scholars blowing their own horns.

This work is not about you, white disability scholars, this is about us: the disabled people in your community who are not given a voice, not given representation, not allowed access to your spaces because: face it, academics is inaccessible. Yes. Your version of disability justice is INACCESSIBLE.

When over seventy percent of college graduates are white, your space becomes inaccessible to people of color, particularly Black people. People of color whose races impact how and if their disabilities are diagnosed, whose races impact their interactions with the police and criminal (in)justice system, whose races impact every aspect of their lives and experiences because we do not live one-dimensional lives. Disabled people of color are three-dimensional experiences. We cannot separate our brownness or Blackness from our disabilities any more than we can separate our spines from our backs. And yes, we do have spines. We are unafraid. We are unafraid to confront you if your disability work is not intersectional.

And we do not want to hear patronizing compliments on how speaking out is SO brave. People of color are not meek, we are not compliant, we are not silent. We are warriors who have been roaring for centuries and you have just begun to notice. We deserve a movement that is built around obtaining justice for all disabled people, not just disabled people who are cisgender, heterosexual/romantic, and white.

Our communities are building a movement for justice and healing that hold our queer, trans, low or no-income folks of color at the center. We are building for those of us whose disabilities impact our sexualities and intimacies. For rape survivors with PTSD who have the right to choose if they have sex and who they do or do not have sex with. For women of color with cerebral palsy. For those of us with chronic pain and social phobias who cannot leave our homes to spend time with our loved ones. We work for those of us who are trans, like me, who do not have access to medical transitioning because hormone replacement therapy can create complications for our pre-existing conditions. For transmasculine folks whose masculinities are denied because masculinity and disability are seen to be in conflict with each other. Disability is connoted with dependence and weakness whereas masculinity is associated with power and autonomy. For trans femme sex workers with AIDS who do not have access to treatment. We fight for those of us who are low or no-income who cannot afford the long and expensive process to become diagnosed and, without the ticket to ride that a diagnosis provides, are barred from disability services, benefits, or disability-specific healthcare. We are still equally as disabled because the medical-industrial complex does not have the right to tell us our pain and experiences are invalid. Disabled people with invisible disabilities, such as borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, autism, autoimmune disorders, and chronic pain, who are told their illnesses are not real because they do not present visibly, whose doctors refuse to diagnose them. Folks with invisible disabilities in unstable housing conditions who cannot disclose that they have disabilities because of the likelihood of being evicted. Disabled young people who are tracked and sidelined in special education, institutionalized in detention centers or psychiatric hospitals, or sedated with drugs. Or disabled young people who do not have the option of pursuing a diagnosis or treatment because of stigma within their families. Disabled people like me who did not see a single representation of themself in that room.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Fortunately, a few months later, the Scholar and Feminist Conference: Sustainabilities hosted a panel organized by our very own Che Gossett titled “Disability and Healing Justice: Making Our Lives Sustainable and Our Movements Livable.” This was the panel I had longed to see in October. Panelists Geleni Fontaine and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha reawakened my faith in the disability justice movement. Geleni Fontaine is an anti-violence, self-defense instructor creating a movement for women, survivors, and disabled folks through their work at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, as an RN, as a holistic healer, and as an acupuncturist. Leah Lakshmi, a mixed-race Romani, Irish, and Sri Lankan writer, is an incest and intimate personal violence survivor who self-identifies as “crazy, chronically ill, and disabled.” She attended NYU where she did HIV/AIDS work, but at 21 moved to Toronto because of her healthcare access needs. She was part of a “movement culture of entering movements to save our own lives,” and did work for Sins Invalid, an organization for disabled performance artists to create space for discussion on respectability and desirability politics.

Textbook image of drapetomaniaLike many other movements, the disability justice movement begins in Black liberation and Black studies and these scholars did not fail to touch upon that. Disability studies in this country begins with runaway slaves being diagnosed with drapetomania (“the disease causing [slaves] to run away”). The creator of the term “disability justice,” Leroy Moore, was a Black disabled man. Harriet Tubman was disabled with a traumatic brain injury and went on to save thousands of slaves. Our stories of disability are rooted in intersections of race, gender, class, religion, culture, and queerness. Disabled people are either seen as broken machines or as having perfectly-working bodies with broken minds. But disabled people are people with a culture, with history, with communities, and with organizations. Disabled people are resilient, and able-bodied people have a lot to learn from us. Our existence is resistance. Even we disabled people have a lot to learn from each other about solidarity because we all have different experiences. We are not a monolith.

Geleni and Leah touched on healing justice in the disability movement, quoting Cara Page: “If our movements themselves aren’t healing, there is no point to them.”

Pushing against the system means that power is shared. We must work to make systems accessible. The panelists shared their hopes for the future. A future where disabled people are believed, a future where disabled people are valuable, not a liability, and a future with a medical system that recognizes that we are intersectional beings. We must build communities of care and healing. We must make disability movements intersectional and accessible. We must create movements to save ourselves.

Getting Excited for: “BRIDGING THE GENERATIONS: CARRYING ON…” at #SF41

While events often feature folks from different generations, we don’t often hear conversations about the the challenges, experiences, and gifts of intentional intergenerational work. This Saturday’s #SF41 workshop, “Bridging the Generations: Carrying On…,” will do just that. Our featured guests, Trishala Deb, Frances Kunreuther, Krystal Portalatin and moderator, Katherine Acey, will address the challenges that arise due to generation differences and discuss ways of moving forward. To dismantle myths and assumptions through dialogue is how we strengthen individuals, communities and movements intergenerationally. Speakers will also invite members of the audience to contribute to the discussion as a way of bridging the generations within the workshop.

Some work by our speakers:

The Coming (and Present) Funding Crisis in LGBT Work from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

  • For her powerful work as a co-founder, member, and staff of FIERCE!, a membership-based organization building the leadership and power of LGBTQ youth of color in NYC,  Krystal Portalatin, was featured in the Huffington Post’s Greatest Woman of the Day series.
More information about the panelists:

Katherine Acey

Katherine Acey is a Senior Activist Fellow at the Barnard Center for Research on Women. Prior to BCRW, Acey was the Executive Director of GRIOT Circle, a people of color LGBTQ elders organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y. From 1987 to 2010 Acey served as the Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and holds the title of Executive Director Emeritus. Prior to Astraea, Acey served as the Associate Director of the North Star Fund in New York City. She helped create and shape the Women’s Funding Network in the mid 1980s serving on its first board and as Board chair. She is a founding member and past board chair of Funders for LGBTQ Issues and has served as a board or advisory member to countless organizations including: Women in the Arts, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, New York Women Against Rape, MADRE, Women Make Movies and the International Network of Women’s Funds. Acey is past chair of the National Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, and was a core member of the Arab Women’s Gathering Organizing Committee. Acey serves on the Boards of Political Research Associates, Center for Constitutional Rights and the Advisory Board of Open Society’s International Human Rights Initiative.

Trishala Deb

Trishala Deb is the Regional Director, Asia at the International Development Exchange. Trishala has worked at the intersection of a variety of issues, including immigrant and refugee rights, gender justice, anti-violence and militarization, community organizing based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and supporting the capacity building efforts of emerging grassroots organizations. Previously, she worked at Caring Across Generations, bringing together home care workers, consumers, and families. She also coordinated a program for immigrants at the Audre Lorde Project, a community organizing center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, Two Spirit, and trans people of color in New York City; and has worked with the Arcus Foundation and Public Interest Projects. Trishala was on the Advisory Board of the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and worked with Migrant Rights International as well as the Steering Committee of Grassroots Global Justice to connect issues of migration, sustainable development, and economic justice with organizations in the Global South as well as the United States.

Frances Kunreuther

Frances Kunreuther co-directs the Building Movement Project (www.buildingmovement.org), which works to strengthen U.S. nonprofits as sites of civic engagement and social change. She is co-author of two books, From the Ground Up: Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change (Cornell, 2006) and Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership (Jossey Bass, 2009).  Frances was a senior fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University for five years and is currently affiliated with the Research Center for Leadership and Action at NYU where she also teaches. In the 1990s, Frances headed the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LBGT youth and was awarded an Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellowship for this and her previous work with homeless youth and families, undocumented immigrants, crime victims, battered women, and substance users. She writes and presents frequently on issues related to nonprofits, leadership, and social change.

Krystal Portalatin

Krystal Portalatin is a Queer Femme Latina, born and raised in New York City. As a youth she co-founded FIERCE and worked to fight against the impacts of gentrification and policing in the West Village. After graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa she worked in the areas of domestic violence, HIV/AIDS prevention, and youth development in Hawaii and San Diego. Longing for her political home, she returned to NYC in 2008 to work at FIERCE, where she held various staff roles, concluding her 7 years of service as a Co-Director. Currently, as an independent consultant, she supports grassroots groups one-on-one in various areas, including program development, organizational development, financial management, and fundraising. Outside of her commitment to social justice and work life, Krystal enjoys reading, cooking, and perfecting her winged eyeliner!

For a run-down of the entire Scholar & Feminist 41: Sustainabilities, please visit the BCRW event page!

 

National LGBTQ Leadership and Aging Award Recipient, Katherine Acey

BCRW Senior Activist Fellow Katherine Acey is being honored at this year’s Creating Change Conference in Chicago for her organizing on aging issues impacting LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color. We are honored to work with such an incredible movement leader.

To honor her steadfast work in fighting for equity and justice for LGBTQ elders, Katherine Acey was presented with the Sage National LGBTQ Leadership and Aging Award. Acey has been a leader in movement building and organizing for social justice and LGBTQ liberation from her 23 years at Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice to her ongoing involvement with the Griot Circle. Acey has been dedicated to various organizations that are powerful sites of support, engagement, and activism for the rights and wellbeing of LGBTQ folks who face racial, economic, gender, and age oppressions. Her extensive involvement in social justice organizing extends to groups such as: Women in the Arts, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, New York Women Against Rape, MADRE and Women Make Movies, National Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, and the Arab Women’s Gathering Organizing Committee.

In recognizing the legacy and continued importance of Black feminism as central and informative for collective action, Acey also acknowledges the interconnected nature of movements fighting against anti-semitism, for immigration reform, and towards Palestinian liberation. For Acey, intergenerational movement building is an important aspect of organizing for the empowerment and self-determination of LGBTQ elders.Cross-generational exchange continues to be a crucial aspect of seeking transformative justice in activist efforts centralizing the livelihood and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities. Acey has shown a passion for organizing at the community level for transformation at the structural level to undo the systems by which LGBTQ elders face legal, social, economic, and racial inequities.  

For Acey, activism is a practice that is rooted in radical love and motivated by visions of collective liberation.

To hear Acey’s story of the deeply personal experience of coming up as a lesbian and feminist in the wake of the Combahee River Collective Statement, watch below.

Honoring Resistance and Survival: The Miss Major-Jay Toole Building Giving Circle

The Miss Major Jay Toole Building for Social Justice (MMJT), located at 147 W. 24th Street, is the birthplace of resistance and home to survival. MMJT  houses organizations for and by people of color, centering on the experiences of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming folks, especially those who are low or no-income and homeless. Entering the lobby of the building, you face an elevator with buttons for seven floors lit up. On these floors, in order, exist The Audre Lorde Project (ALP), Streetwise and Safe (SAS), the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), and FIERCE!. The 4th floor of MMJT was formerly the home of Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). With public spaces in NYC for low/no-income queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color being eradicated rapidly, the Miss Major Jay Toole building provides a home, an organizing space, and a location for programs, services, opportunity, and resilience.

This space would not be possible without the efforts of Miss Major and Jay Toole.

Miss Major, a Black trans woman activist and community leader for trans women’s rights, was a leader in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, along with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. She is also a survivor of Attica State Prison and a former sex worker. She is the Executive Director of the Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), an organization working “against imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures” for transgender women of color and their families. In the past, she has also done healthcare and organizational work for people with HIV/AIDS, and continues to work against the prison-industrial complex.

Jay Toole, aka Super Butch, has been organizing around queer and economic justice issues for decades. She became homeless at the age of thirteen, exiled from her home by her father because of her queer identity. For eight years, she was homeless, after which she spent five years in the shelter system. During her time on the streets, she suffered from police violence and was abused by the NYPD, and she became addicted to drugs and alcohol. After recovery and support from her queer family, she became the Co-Founder and the Shelter Director at Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), a radical non-profit organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. Today, she is working on opening Jay’s House, the first shelter for homeless queer adults.

Without the efforts, dedication, and resilience of these two individuals, many queer youth today would not have the access to community, shelter, food, leadership opportunities, resources, computers, education, and workshops that they do today. Let us give back to Miss Major, Jay Toole, and the organizations that have brought us family and are bringing us liberation.

The Miss Major Jay Toole Giving Circle was created by ALP, SAS, SRLP, and FIERCE! as a grassroots giving operation to honor the organizations and the legacies of Miss Major and Jay Toole. Without the Giving Circle, the MMJT organizations are forced to compete with each other for funding, destroying the community and partnership they are so dedicating to building. A gift to the MMJT Building for Social Justice will go to the programming and administrative priorities of these organizations. ALP, SAS, SRLP, and FIERCE! are committed to social justice by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, two spirit, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color, low or no-income people, people involved the sex trades, and youth. A gift to them will go toward resourcing these communities. The Giving Circle’s goal is to raise $67,000 and $10,000 each will go to the Retirement Funds of Miss Major and Jay Toole to honor their living legacies. The remaining funds will be divided amongst the four organizations.

Give to the Miss Major Jay Toole Giving Circle!

MMJT Giving Circle

New Video Release: BCRW Activist Fellows on Queer and Trans Movement Visions and Legacies

As LGBTQTSGNCI History month draws to a close, BCRW is excited to share our newly released videos with Activist Fellows Reina Gossett, Dean Spade, and Amber Hollibaugh on challenges and strategies for transformative organizing in queer and trans movements.

Reina Gossett talks about learning and sharing histories of trans women of color, including  Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), as a strategy to transform and heal from historical isolation and erasure.

Amber Hollibaugh talks about a the importance of a liberation framework centering low-income people and people of color for LGBTQ organizing.

Dean Spade talks about the dramatic shifts in queer and trans movements over the last 50 years with the emergence in the 1990s of a highly visible and well-funded gay rights movement whose demand for inclusion in hate crime legislation and police protection goes against queer and trans community-based grassroots organizing to end police and state violence since the 1960s.

These videos are the product of interviews conducted by BCRW Creative Director Hope Dector and BCRW Activist Fellow Dean Spade at the 2013 conference Queer Dreams and Non-Profit Blues, co-convened by BCRW and the Engaging Tradition Project at Columbia Law School.