I feel a need for me to define the queer radical feminist portion of my identity.
Feminist: The radical notion that women are people.
Radical: Smash the Patriarchal, White Supremacist, Capitalistic, Colonial systems — because all people should have the right to life, the right to pursue their dreams, and the right to be able to grow and evolve into a life based on their interests, abilities, experience, talent, training, skills, and passions.
Queer: All people should have the right to continuously discover and own their own gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression without fear.
As a feminist, I fought for women to have the same rights and responsibilities as men. This lead me to work on reproductive rights, take back the night, lesbian rights, equal pay, and generally gender equality overall. This work is mostly in my past, but I still stand up for these beliefs.
As a radical feminist, I came to see gender itself as part of the social construct that forces people into narrowly defined roles and restricts access to the privileges afforded to heterosexual white men of wealth. This made me examine all the ways this society proscribes how I should act, what I could do and what was expected of me. I fought back by deconstructing as many systems as I could that were trying to control me especially those that were controlling me through my own internalized oppression. I pushed back hard and slowly crafted a career and a life that suited me. I also supported others who walked this path of self liberation, and found ways to help push the envelope overall wherever I could. This work is ongoing for me.
As a queer radical feminist, I came out first as a bisexual, then again as hetero-identified bisexual. I began recognizing that my own gender expression was part of my refusal to conform to the uniform of respectability associated with being a black middle-aged women with a masters degree who owns property. This work is ongoing for me.
This identity, queer radical feminist, forms the core of both my inner and outer work since I left my life as a black nationalist, and later as a Marxist. This work expanded my horizons personally and expanded the areas where I put my energy, time and talent.
All of these areas include fault lines and intersecting mosaics of privilege and oppression. For example, because I lack both male and white privilege, I often experience the effects of racism and sexism as if it were a single oppression. Others times however, I can detect clear differences between racism and sexism.
Recently, I have been struggling to navigate the fault lines associated with my cis privilege. All those years when I was figuring out how to push the boundaries of both gender expression and women rights, it never occurred to me to consider the impact of my activism on trans women. As I have expanded my awareness of both my cis privilege and the realities of trans oppression, I have felt gifted with opportunities to hear new perspectives and examine old assumptions.
So now, for example, I am coming to understand that my concept of gender as a social construct may conflict with gender identity for some trans women. And I am learning that some trans women have never had access to male privilege while others freely admit to needing to work on that privilege. Because just like African American women, trans women are also not a monolith. Each trans person has had a unique path, life experience and perspective.
My intellect finds this fascinating, and I desperately long for deep conversations over coffee, or a meal with some wine. And at the same time, I realize that in many ways we have been dropped into the deep end before many of us have learned the nuance of language necessary to even begin having a real dialogue. But here is the wrinkle, we may never be able to develop this nuance, because *trans women lives are in danger right now*.
And so I am frustrated. I am frustrated because although I am willing to put my life on the line to protect my trans sisters, I feel labeled and untrusted before I even open my mouth. Because I identify as a radical feminist, I fear that my trans sisters may not know that I am their loyal ally.
No matter how I stumble, fall and recover verbally, I am here and not just by your side. I am willing to stand in the space between— providing a barrier, a container, a fortress that not only protects, but also nurtures, comforts and loves you. (Similar to how the Christians stood in a circle so their Muslim allies could pray safely.)
And for the folks in the back… if you can understand why Black Lives Matter, then you can also grok why Trans Lives Matter.
Let’s get to work protecting these elders, sisters and daughters.
La luta continua…..