Why #Pride (including #BelfastPride) is not Mine

Pride celebrations have begun in the township I live in, Belfast, a place where a brand of ignorant homophobia pervades the largest local political party. In a deeply divided society with enduring scars of conflict, sectarian division and antagonism, there is a great deal of ‘territoriality’ about all things progressive. Those who purport to present themselves as the forerunners of LGB and Trans activism, just like activists in many other sectors, are very keen to claim ownership of LGBTQI issues, and sideline voices that are different to their own, or coming from people from who do not fall within their careerist agendas. Across the world, Pride is a highly commercialised event in which businesses seek profit. Many organisations try to benefit from Pride by flying the rainbow flag and pretending to be supportive of LGBTQI people. Pride is also an event with a past marked by racial and transphobic discrimination. Very few pride events across the world care to remember and honour the memory of Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of colour, who pioneered the Stonewall riots. What we know as pride today is an event dominated by cis white gay men, who think they are entitled to draw boundaries and lines, and exercise control over everything LGBTIQ. This arrogance was clearly apparent, for instance, at the 2015 Pride reception at the White House, when Jennicet Guttiérrez, a trans woman of colour and a leading activist at Familia TQLM, interrupted Barack Obama’s all but hollow Pride speech. The largely white audience booed Guttiérrez, and she was forcibly removed from the event. This year, Guttiérrez was not invited, and the White House pride reception included people of colour, also trans women of colour, who, as opposed to the very courageous Guttiérrez, do not cross boundaries put in place by the establishment, who do their activism in a way in which white supremacist arrogance and discriminatory practices are not called out or held accountable.

Read more here.

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Traveling While Disabled: A Rountable

I’VE BEEN CHATTING with travel writers, activists and personalities of color about their experiences navigating the media industry and the globe with an intersectional lens, while exploring themes …

Source: Traveling While Disabled: A Rountable

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Jeremy has finally taken the right decision, to sack Hillary Benn. Benn has been very much against the party leadership, and has clearly shown his utter disregard to the preference of the large majority of party members. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he and other Blairites in the PLP are so engrossed in their right-wing fantasies that they simply don’t notice the elephant in the room – that ‘austerity-lite’ policies do not work. Since Jeremy entered the leadership campaign, they have been setting goals that, according to them, Jeremy could not achieve. Every time Jeremy proved them wrong, they have been moving the goal post, on to another challenge, and then to another. The behaviour of Blairite MPs in the PLP is like primary school kids fighting in the playground. Their immaturity is sickening. They do not respect any of the core values of #UKLabour, have no regard to popular movements managed by working class people, LGBTQI folk, people of colour, differently-abled people and other marginalised people who the media and the political right summarily ignore. The Labour Party is a people’s movement, and the biggest misfortune that befell the party was the dominant position of what we know as New Labour, which is essentially a Tory-lite policy agenda. The past couple of years have amply shown that this no longer works. People are calling for a real alternative, not the same programme as the Conservatives. It is very important for UK Labour to take a clear Left-wing stand, and call out the likes of UKIP that are recklessly exploiting discontent in the most under-privileged parts of the country (especially in England). It is very important to emphasise that UKIP is all but a more hardline and extremist version of the Tories – more than half of its rank-and-file is composed of Tory Party defectors, and they have absolutely no regard whatsoever for the concerns of people outside the wealthy English elite.

This is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in, as the one and only choice, the best available choice. It is Jeremy and Jeremy alone (together with John McDonnell and other progressive, genuinely left-wing politicians in UK Labour) who can drive the party to an electoral victory, and also work towards combatting the growing climate of hatred and xenophobia. This is why we all need to #standwithCorbyn and force UK Labour to #KeepCorbyn in the party leadership. At the next general election (whenever it is to be held), those Blairite bonkers who are against Jeremy need to be voted out, and Labour Party members in the constituencies of those MPs should strongly take stock of that vital necessity.

#KeepCorbyn #OurCorbyn #JeremyCorbyn4PM

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A slice of my life?

A short piece I wrote about my own story of grappling with gender self-determination, multiple forms of discrimination and challenges of being ‘othered’, was published by Ditch The Label earlier this week, where also discuss issues such as the problematic UK policy of systematically ‘pathologising’ trans people.

The full piece can be read here.

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Questioning the gender binary: an absolute priority

A cursory glance at the ways in which a large number of people out there write about feminism would suffice to denote a worrying reality — to an awful lot of self-proclaimed feminists, ‘feminism’ continues to be a movement, a discourse and an analytical tool meant near-exclusively for cis, able-bodied and wealthy white women. It goes without saying that the many efforts to question, critique and deconstruct this approach to ‘feminism’ need to continue, with the utmost vigour and energy. If someone advocates for a feminism that only encompasses cis women, then it is a form of oppression that perpetuates a colonial, patronising and a very ‘white’ attitude, as this type of discourse strongly rests on, reinforces and reaffirms the gender binary. The gender binary is all but a thoroughly outdated, colonial Abrahamic, invasive, intrusive and brutally violent concept. It should have no decisive place in a progressive world. The extent of one’s commitment to the gender binary provides a fine measurement of their commitment to equality and justice to all. Coming from a non-Western sociocultural backdrop, I perceive the gender binary as a thoroughly colonial, patronising and deeply patriarchal concept, systematically deployed to discriminate against cis and trans women, colonised peoples, people of colour and gender-plural people. Through cycles of colonisation that perpetuated Abrahamic faiths in South and Southeast Asia, the original sociocultural traditions of the countries in the region were ruined, downgraded, and obliterated. This is what has led to societies that are extremely intolerant of any form of gender plurality, and gender presentations that challenge the Abrahamic gender binary.

Read more here.

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