Gender Focus Reads: Excluded by Julia Serano

photo of a hard copy of Julia Serano's "Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive", with several post-its sticking outby Jarrah Hodge

I received a review copy of Julia Serano’s newest book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive last fall, and I knew it was going to be particularly important. Serano’s last book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Feminism and the Scapegoating of Femininity has been a hugely impactful book for many trans* people and feminists and was even named the 16th most important feminist book of all time by Ms. Magazine.

Moving into 2014, it’s clear this book – and the discussions it provokes – are more necessary than ever. Last year saw more than 790 individuals and 60 organizations sign on to the Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism, but it also saw trans people continuing to struggle – often without wholehearted feminist support – for acknowledgments of basic rights and freedom from violence. It saw the unjust imprisonment of CeCe McDonald, Vancouver Rape Relief invite an anti-trans speaker to their December 6 memorial event, and British media harassing trans teacher Lucy Meadows, leading to her suicide. And literally this past week, a similar event occurred when Grantland writer Caleb Hannan outed a trans woman, Dr. V., and published a cruel, misgendering article even after her suicide.

The continuing injustice and exclusion should unite us as feminist and queer activists, rather than dividing us, and Serano’s book considers how we can get there.

The first part of Excluded is a collection of Serano’s essays since Whipping Girl, outlining exclusion within feminist and queer movements, including femme and bisexual communities, and at events like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Fest:

“I realized right there at the lake what a mistake many women from Michigan make when they insist that trans women would threaten their safe space, destroying a rare place where they feel comfortable revealing their own bodies. Because there is never any safety in the erasing of difference, and no protection in the expectation that all women live up to certain physical criteria. The only truly safe space is one that respects each woman for her own individual uniqueness.”

The essays are particularly helpful for understanding the big picture if you haven’t read Whipping Girl or experienced the kind of discrimination she talks about first-hand.

The second part is new material introducing Serano’s proposals for creating inclusion. Serano states:

“One-size-fits-all approaches to gender and sexuality – whether they occur in straight male-centric mainstream, or within feminist and queer subcultures – inevitably result in double standards, where bodies and behaviors can only ever be viewed as either right or wrong, natural or unnatural, normal or abnormal, righteous or immoral…we should distance ourselves from these one-size-fits-all models, and instead embrace an alternative approach – what I call a holistic approach to feminism.”

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Books, Feminism, LGBT Leave a comment

Trans* Day of Remembrance 2013

Candle in the centre of the transgender symbolby Jarrah Hodge

This post uses an asterisk after the prefix trans- as a way to include all non-cisgender gender identities.

The annual Trans* Day of Remembrance is coming up on November 20th and will be observed with vigils and other events around the world.

As we take time to mourn those trans* people who lost their lives, we must also consider, as Tash said in her post last year, that “many of these victims experienced multiple forms of oppression including class, race, and gender. Many of these victims were women of colour.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance Website has a list (trigger warning) of those who need to be remembered from the past year, and as usual it’s heartbreaking to read.

Here is the list of TDoR events in Canada, taken from the main TDoR website. If there are any I’ve missed, please post in the comments below.

Calgary, Alberta

Sunday, November 17, 2:00 p.m.
The Old Y Centre for Community Organizations, 223 12 Avenue SW

Clarenville, Newfoundland

Tuesday, November 19, 7:30 a.m.
Clarenville Town Hall

Gander, Newfoundland

Tuesday, November 19, 12 noon
Gander Town Hall

Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland

Saturday, November 16, 9:30 p.m.
Grand Falls-Windsor Town Hall

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, November 20, 6:30 p.m.
St. Matthew’s United Church, 1479 Barrington Street

Kingston, Ontario

Wednesday, November 20
10:00 a.m. flag-raising and proclamation read by the Mayor of Kingston
7:00 p.m. candle-light vigil
Kingston City Hall, 216 Ontario St

London, Ontario

Tuesday, November 19 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The County Building, 399 Ridout Street


Wednesday, November 20 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
UNIFOR (CAW) Local 27 Hall, 608 First Street

Regina, Saskatchewan

Wednesday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.
University of Regina in The Pit (Ad Hum Building), 3737 Wascana Parkway

Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Wednesday, November 20, 4:30 p.m.
Candlelight vigil and memorail at Centennial Park, Ganges

Springdale, Newfoundland

Tuesday, November 19, 6:00 p.m.
Springdale Town Hall

St. John, New Brunswick

Wednesday, November 20, 6:30 p.m.
King’s Square

St. John’s, Newfoundland

Wednesday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.
Panel at the University Centre, The Landing, Room 3018

Vancouver, B.C. (and area)

Monday, November 18, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Dialogue at SFU, MBC Room 2290
Facebook event page


Wednesday, November 20, 5:00 p.m.
UBC at the AMS Art Gallery in the Student Union Building
Facebook event page

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT 2 Comments

My Feminism Will Be Trans-Inclusive

Trans flagby Jarrah Hodge

I have joined at least 200 other feminists in signing on to A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism. The statement was crafted in response to a summer that saw several high-profile instances of feminist transphobia, including:

“the forthcoming book by Sheila Jeffreys from Routledge; the hostile and threatening anonymous letter sent to Dallas Denny after she and Dr. Jamison Green wrote to Routledge regarding their concerns about that book; and the recent widely circulated statement entitled “Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of ‘Gender,’”signed by a number of prominent, and we regret to say, misguided, feminists have been particularly noticeable.”

This is all happening in an already hostile climate for trans people, including persistent mis-gendering of Chelsea Manning and continuing murders of trans people, particularly trans women of colour.

I’d encourage people to read the statement in its entirety and to sign on here, but I’m also excerpting a portion for this post. Thanks so much to the people who took the initiative to write this thoughtful statement and to the moderators going through the deluge of comments and signatures.

We, the undersigned trans* and cis scholars, writers, artists, and educators, want to publicly and openly affirm our commitment to a trans*-inclusive feminism and womanism.


We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

(full credit to Flavia Dzodan for writing the article the title alludes to: “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or It Will Be Bullshit”, and specifically for her work supporting trans-inclusive feminism).

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 1 Comment

Quebec Launches Campaign Against Homophobia

areyouopenby Jarrah Hodge

Last week the Government of Quebec launched their first campaign aimed at raising awareness of and reducing homophobia. The first part of the five-year, $7.1 million campaign consists of two French-language TV commercials (clips below) and an English-language radio ad (transcript). In all three ads the audience is presented with a recognizable relationship situation, for example in the radio ad a man tells his partner that he doesn’t want to go to the in-laws’ house for dinner. It isn’t until the partner replies that we know it’s a gay couple.

The ads target straight people and ask them to confront their attitudes and explore how open they really are to LGBT people. What I like most about the TV ads is how positive the tone is. They make it very clear that there’s nothing wrong or abnormal about simply being gay.

However, there are a couple aspects of the campaign that might be questionable. The first thing I noticed was that almost all of the people featured in the ads and the complementary website: are white and professional-looking, which leads to a general tone of saying it’s okay to be gay as long as you meet the standards of white, middle-class relationship normalcy. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT, Politics 3 Comments

No Homophobes Project Launches PSA

nohomophobesby Jarrah Hodge

Back in December I interviewed Dr. Kristopher Wells of the University of Alberta’s project, which uses a website tracking homophobic language on Twitter to act as a “social mirror” drawing attention to everyday homophobia.

This week the campaign started a new phase by launching a PSA that asks why homophobic language is still widely used and often accepted. The language could be considered NSFW, so fair warning:

Global TV donated the PSA production and the clip was created by No Homophobes partner Calder Bateman. Jeff McLean of Calder Bateman told Global News: “We thought the PSA or the TV spot would be a visual representation of the tweets that are coming in on the website…Hearing it from these people is quite shocking.”

In a statement Wells said, “We no longer tolerate racist language, weʼre getting better at dealing with sexist language, but sadly we still see and hear homophobic and transphobic language in our society. While this language might not always be meant to be hurtful, we must not forget that words like “faggot” contribute greatly to the continued alienation and isolation of sexual and gender (LGBTQ) people, especially our youth.”

The PSA has already started getting international attention and will hopefully contribute to raising awareness and increasing constructive dialogue about homophobic language use in Canada and around the world.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT Leave a comment

U of A’s “No Homophobes” Project Confronts Casual Homophobia

nohomophobesby Jarrah Hodge

The first time I visited it was an emotional experience. The site acts as a “social mirror”, capturing real-time use of homophobic slurs on Twitter, and it quickly becomes clear just how staggering a problem casual homophobia is.

I spoke to Dr. Kristopher Wells, Associate Director of the University of Alberta Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, which started the project earlier this year, about how this relatively simple Canadian idea has had such a wide impact.

Wells told me that the idea for No Homophobes came out of research on casual homophobia and how it manifests in our public education system. EGALE Canada’s national national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, for example, found that 70% of LGBTQ youth hear phrases like “That’s so gay” every day in their schools. 10% of the time the phrases are actually coming from teachers.

“Sadly, for many LGBTQ youth this kind of casual homophobia is part of their daily reality,” said Wells.

The challenge was to put something together to bring public awareness to the issue of casual homophobia – not just in schools, but also in our society as a whole. The idea was to create a website that compiles tweets, using our four key words (“faggot”, “so gay”, “no homo”, and “dyke”), in real time, from all over English-speaking world. Wells and the iSMSS turned to their community partners, getting help from Calder Bateman in Edmonton and Burnkit in Vancouver to set up the website graphics and technical aspects.

Wells explained: “We wanted to do something different that was actually going to target and speak not only to youth, but also to the broader community – and we figured out pretty quickly that we needed to do something with social media, which is where most youth seem to live.” Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT 2 Comments

Trans* Day of Remembrance 2012

by Tash Wolfe

This blog entry uses an asterisk after the prefix trans- as a way to include all non-cisgender gender identities.

November 20th is the Trans* Day of Remembrance, a day that was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as trans*, each was a victim of violence based on bias against trans* people.

As a trans* identified person who works in social services, I am often asked to speak, write, or facilitate about trans* identities and the ways that trans* people can experience oppression. November is a time when many people ask if I am going to organize or attend a vigil on the 20th. Often, I am asked questions about my personal narrative and how I feel about my personal safety and the increased risk that I must experience not being cisgender.

I often choose to attend Trans* Day of Remembrance events, but not because of my own gender identity. I recognize that I hold many privileges; privileges that were not granted to many of the people whose names are read each year at vigils around the world. Many of these victims experienced multiple forms of oppression including class, race, and gender. Many of these victims were women of colour.

I am white and working class. My wife and I are both university students. Although, I am a survivor of poverty, homelessness, addiction, and survival sexual exploitation, I have many privileges that allow me to now live without fear of having my name read out at the annual vigils. Read more

Posted on by Tash Wolfe in Can-Con, LGBT 2 Comments