Juno Ishida & Eliza Hope Duran
Last May, Juno Ishida and Eliza Hope Duran joined Samantha Paige for an honest conversation about living beyond the construct of a gender binary. In this special episode, Juno, a trans male university student, and Eliza, a gender fluid prize-winning poet, share their views about the boxes that society places us in around our bodies, gender and sexuality. They highlight what it means to navigate life beyond the gender binary and add insight and perspective to the experience of expressing one’s identity in a manner that lines up who we are on the inside with who we are out in the world. This powerful discussion touches upon what it means to lead an authentic life, how we take care of ourselves and ask for needed support in the face of judgement and how we find inner strength and connection when external, societal beliefs can make us internalize doubt and unworthiness.
In light of the recent leak of President Trump’s memo regarding his administration’s plans to narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the time is now to be discussing the historical and current violence that trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary and Intersex individuals have had and continue to endure on a daily basis.
Thank you to Juno and Eliza for bravely and boldly opening up with their own stories. Thank you to the Get Lit team for hosting the recording of this podcast at their Los Angeles studio. For more information on Get Lit, please visit getlit.org.
N.B.: During the recording, we refer to Eliza as Erika, which was the name they were using at the time. They have since adopted Eliza.
For more information on how to support transgender, non-conforming and Intersex individuals and communities, please check out this great blog post on Wildflower Sex.
It is our honor to share the following Los Angeles March for Trans and GNC Rights Mission Statement and Manifesto, and powerful writings from Marcus James, Djuna Appel-Riehle and Mika Judge. Thank you to each of them for the courage to share. Please read and share.
Los Angeles March for Trans and GNC Rights Mission Statement and Manifesto by Marcus James, Arlene Campa, and Djuna Appel-Riehle
The Trump Administration is attacking trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary folks.
From micro-aggressions to murder, to be trans, gender nonconforming, or non-binary is to walk into the mouth of violence every morning and hope it will not swallow us whole. This is not new.
We come from a lineage of violence.
On November 2, 2018 at 4pm, we’re calling upon people of all genders to join us in marching from Pershing Square to City Hall in Los Angeles, California in recognition of the necessity for trans rights and protections. Our legislators will know that we are a generation that does not tolerate any form of assault --interpersonal or state sanctioned -- against people for their gender expression. Our legislators will know that we are deserving of equal access to healthcare, education and job security. Our legislators will know that they will be held accountable during elections if tangible protections are not made for trans, gender nonconforming and non-binary folks at risk. On November 2nd, join us in continuing the fight for the rights of our sisters, brothers and friends.
1.Gender is a social construct that cannot be narrowed down by the genitalia that an individual is born with.
2.The summation of genitalia as gender-defining is an erasure and act of violence against Intersex folks.
3.Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming folks are deserving of a life void of state sanctioned violence.
4.Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming folks are deserving of equal access to healthcare, education, and job security as their cisgender counterparts.
5.Trans, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming folks are deserving of representation in a nuanced and intersectional fashion.
6.Trans, Non-binary and Gender Nonconforming folks are deserving of legislation that protects them from all forms of discrimination.
This is a Ghost Story by Djuna Appel-Riehle
my dinner table is the stomping ground of this year’s family reunion
i am forging a lifeline across it
my father traces a portrait of grief with his steady eyelids
he whispers to me, ghosts can’t tell stories
you are only as permanent
as all the things you can touch
as all the nerve endings in your fingertips
queer bodies and pavement swim circles in my psyche
they hold all the lives a church will cut from any cloth
that will tourniquet our tongues
not all of us are delivered to our mother’s doorsteps the way we want to be
not all of us will put on our best pride show pearls
for fear of being photographed in them
sometimes silence is not violence but the easiest way to stay whole
it is easier to brick yourself in than to demolish into escape route
another domestic disaster
here is a body
not good enough for outing
but good enough to get stuck in monster’s carcass
or stuck in a hallway painted into mouths full of microaggressions
i am the bitter grin and a name spit like ash; dread-soaked
i know myself better in power outage
most days it’s easier to live with the lights out
than to decompose into dysphoria
most days i’d rather swamp myself in blackout
than spell out my deadname
this won’t be the last time your name tastes sweet enough to spit back out
i am collapsing into this body
i am making an art of fashioning a dying star from circuit shortage
microagressions dancing from my lab partner’s lips in biology class
i spend days refracting into the innards of my locker
there is no equation to dissolve fear
i think doors look different with something to hide
home is a carnage of carcass foundation
we are told home and hear convenient storage
another place where we are suffocated under fingernails
it is more bitter to keep breathing just to spite someone
the feat is not in surviving another day
it is in proving to those who wish to cut you sterile and open
that they will not make examination out of your flesh
i am licking my lips clean of my own burial ground
i am swathed in ghost story
a letter written to the self that still holds their own wreckage
a wounded bird in their hands;
build spectre / built spectator
we wonder how many windows have flown open
and bluebirds shattered into dark pavement
So Marcus by Marcus James
When your family photos show dead face. Dead smile. Girl.
How are you gonna be a real man when you have a voice as gentle as early winter?
How are you gonna be a real man without any hair on your chest?
All I see are gardens
real men don’t know how to handle delicate.
Why are your hands not calloused like mine?
You've only ever known delicate.
How are you gonna be a real man when your hands shake in bathrooms?
Real men don’t bleed through boxers.
Real men don't sit to pee Marcus.
Stand up as if your back was an army of its own!
There's nothing more masculine than a man holding a gun!
No one is scared of you.
Why do you bring me flowers?
I did not ask for flowers
I did not ask for poems
I never asked for a boy.
Adam is Trans by Mika Judge
i’m a bit embarrassed about my name.
not the first one, that was never mine,
but the one i chose: (mika)
i’m not even sure it’s a real name, but
i say it's a nickname for michael, which means who is like god? the answer being no one
but if mika means god’s gift then maybe mika is the answer to the question asked by michael.
maybe all gifts are pieces of their givers
maybe we're all gifts and pieces of god
who understands having a thousand different names, even if they all sound right to him. even if they don’t chafe at his throat like fish bones, breadcrusts, and wicker baskets do.
i love that story. jesus makes enough food for thousands of people. enough to feed me all the days i have choked back my truth for benefit of others.
but adam would understand.
god told adam to name the animals, but adam only wanted to remake himself. but to do so would be betrayal: judas’ kiss, forbidden fruit blood running down his chin, it would be twisting bible verse to fit your own twisted mouth, as if adam saw the future and god hates you signs on street corners and believed them.
but when he can’t take it anymore he talks to god. he says, do you have, like, an HR department i can contact? i think there’s been a mix-up.
and god says nothing, so adam knows he knows, and adam says
i am so sorry
for being this way. for not being eve, mother of all things,
and the daughter you wanted.
but god says
i want you. you are my gift to the world and a piece of me
so adam says
then give me a tortoiseshell or snakescales to protect myself. i am so soft and so hated
i am sorry for giving you this improbable body, but i know you, and your chosen name is all the exoskeleton you need
and i have loved you like a son since you first sucked in blue sky and spit out pink, since you first dug citrus tree thorns out of your palms and bled ocean water & sweet wine.
when you named your first beast WOLF “because she woofs” i knew it was terrible idea but i loved you anyways
you aren’t a fallen angel betraying me, you are just a man seeing himself clearly.
and adam stops crumbling back into earth, sunlight presses up to his collarbones from within even as night falls.
when he awakes the next morning, he finds nothing on his once shameful chest
except a row of flowers
growing where his twelfth rib used to be. and someone
is calling his true name through the trees.