Trans* Woman Told by National Insurance Psychiatrist: Go Work as a Prostitute

News from Israel, the ostensible LGBT paradise:

Psychiatrists sends trans woman to be a prostitute

D., a 24-year-old student, has reported that the shrink at the National Insurance (Social Security) office in Netanya recommended that she work in prostitution, saying “As a trans woman you can make a living as a prostitute, so I see no reason to give you a Social Security allowance”.

Some factoids: According to reported numbers, about 95% of trans* people in Israel have difficulty finding work, making them possibly the most discriminated populations in the labor market. National Insurance policy dictates that trans* people be classified as having a mental disorder – Gender Identity Disorder (GID) (according to the ICD; the DSM has removed GID from its list of disorders). This means that trans* people can receive living allowances under disability law rather than under unemployment laws.

According to D., the psychiatrist told her that living allowances are for the disabled, and that as long as she has the option of prostitution, she can make a living and therefore is not eligible.

The National Insurance Institute has responded that this their policy includes “sensitivity to special populations” and maintaining the dignity of all applicants, and that they are investigating the complaint.

The Revolution Is Here, Read All About It!

bi:notes for a bisexual revolutionI am part of a very radical, political, and informed bisexual community. I am proud of the people comprising this community, but as little as two or three years ago I didn’t even know they existed. If I pause to think about how I came to know these amazing revolutionary friends, and how I learned pretty much everything I know about bisexual politics, it’s fairly easy to pinpoint a handful of key people, who by reading them and engaging with them, I literally changed how I think: about myself, my gender and sexual identities, about community and politics, and about a million other things. One of these people is Shiri Eisner, whose book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution has just been published.

By reading Eisner online* (Facebook, Tumblr, and her Hebrew- and English-language blogs) and engaging in the same or similar political discussions (and, of course, with other persons active in radical politics as well), I was able to come to terms, for the first time, with ideas I was either blind to, ignorant of, or in total denial of their existence. I had never heard of bisexual erasure, for example, and I wasn’t troubled by it either, because my own bisexual identity was not important to me.

This new (to me) political discourse made me question myself – why was I willing to suppress my own identity? It isn’t as though I was against identity politics in principle, as I was an active feminist, a supporter of Palestinian liberation, an anti-racism and anti-colonialism activist, and more… What was it about bisexuality that was so easy to dismiss? And once I was aware of my own identity issues, how could I ignore the political aspects of accepting or denying my bisexuality? Was I not collaborating with a system that was oppressing me and others like me?

And as oppression is not my cup of tea… My perceptions had to change.

I can’t actually describe how momentous of a change this was for me. It was a watershed moment, a light bulb switching on, an epiphany… Pick your phrase, but I simply cannot overstate the significance, because this wasn’t just about bisexuality, it was a defining moment for me in understanding my own belief systems – that I have a radical rather than liberal political viewpoint, and that I had gained new critical lenses with which to examine all power relations. It led to a redefining of my feminism, my activism, my gender identity, my participation in other groups’ activism as an ally… It changed my life, and there is no going back. My activism has taken on an entirely different aspect, whether online or in “real life”, and as a result I have come to recognize that I have strength and influence I never imagined.

But what does this have to do with the book?

I don’t think my personal story is unique. I think there are many of us out there, people with non-normative sexual and gender identities, who find each other mostly online, and there share information and experiences and political ideas. I think we gather knowledge and awareness like berries, sometimes in abundance sometimes scraping from scarcity, but always searching and not necessarily knowing everything we might want to about developing ideas or even history, or just the state of things. Or simply getting information in a form or in an order we can digest. So sometimes we gain understanding, sometimes we don’t, it can be hit and miss, and there isn’t one central place in which we can start at the beginning (say, what is bisexuality, anyway?) and then move on to more advanced concepts and tools.

In my view, Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution is the first time all this knowledge has been collected into one place, in a clear and coherent way, defining not only what bisexuality is and is not, but also the societal forces that influence attitudes towards bisexuals, and their consequences. What it has taken me a couple of painstaking years to learn and internalize, Eisner has brilliantly collated into a comprehensive, yet readable book, accompanied by her own unique analysis. While the book certainly deals with advanced concepts, it takes care to define them, and is geared to be an accessible and useful tool for both beginners and those more deeply involved in bisexual discourse.

So why should you read the book?

First of all, you are guaranteed to learn something new, or get a new perspective on familiar topics. For example, even the most basic question of how bisexuality is defined is not free from disagreement, controversy, and political significance, and the book’s explanations are very illuminating. And that is just the beginning – the book introduces many other concepts we should all know, from monosexism to bisexual erasure to gender subversion… Even familiar terms are explored in a way that uncovers their revolutionary potential and places them in contexts that are both surprising and revealing.

In addition, you will learn about issues surrounding bisexuality – such as how bisexuals are disproportionately and detrimentally affected in terms of health, finances, and sexual violence. The book also discusses how bisexuality and the bisexual struggle intersect with, and are influenced by, other oppressions and struggles (there are entire chapters on bisexuality and feminism, bi and trans, bisexuality and the homo-centric gay movement, and bisexuality and racialization).

Finally, you will also gain tools for understanding and dealing with some of the challenges and concepts presented – such as deconstructing common biphobic stereotypes and tropes (bisexuality doesn’t exist, bisexuals are just confused, bisexuals are really either gay or straight, bisexuals spread diseases, bisexuals are inherently unfaithful, and more).

Book Quote: Transgender and Bi and intertwining ideas

But perhaps what most appeals to me is that while Eisner certainly does instruct, the book in no way comes to excuse or to defend: Eisner is unapologetic and even aggressive in her insistence on the inherent legitimacy of bisexual identity and community, without seeking approval from any external source; moreover – in seeing the subversive and intrinsically revolutionary potential of bisexuality, as a challenging force to oppressive, binary, mono- and cis-sexist, hegemonic cultures.

I feel extremely validated by the very existence of this book. I like it very much when things I know, or believe in, or strive for, are put in writing and can be referenced. I like learning new things and being challenged to see things in new ways. And I feel very privileged to have been a part of the community Eisner uses as her point of reference and example in this very important document.

Oh! – and I am not recommending this book only to bisexuals and other non-monosexuals… My ardent wish would be for all “normative” (monosexuals and cisgender) people to read this book. Perhaps they would begin to become aware of how they contribute to the oppression of others, even if they are doing so in the most unintentional way.

***

* Since that time, we have also met socially and have done activism together.

The bisexual umbrella


Cliteracy

I love when I discover new *stuff*. I certainly spend enough time just jumping from tab to new tab in my browser… If I spent this much time actually working my career might be in a different condition… (-;

But back on point: CLITERACY. How did we live without it till now????

Sophia Wallace is an American conceptual artist whose topics include queer representations and the of gendering of aesthetics. I really love her work and recommend spending an inordinate amount of time on her beautiful website.

But this post is all about Cliteracy, which can be found on her Tumblr:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Cliteracy Eye Chart

The Genderqueer Umbrella

This is a translation of a post written by my friend Dan Veg in their Hebrew-language blog Parshedona. This is also my 100th post in Femina Invicta, and I was looking for a worthy topic… I’m glad Dan provided this post. It is incredibly important to me for both personal and political reasons, as my queer/feminist community has recently exploded in an unprecedented, and entirely unexpected rash of transphobia, directed in particular toward genderqueer persons, or anyone on the MTF scale who doesn’t entirely pass. 

***********************************************************************************************

Lately, I’ve been hearing all kinds of different opinions by cisgender people about genderqueer identities, and what genderqueer means. So let’s make this clear: Genderqueer does not mean a “man in a dress”, it doesn’t mean “someone who objects to gender”, nor does it mean “a woman who wants male privilege without being trans*”. All these are mostly your own transphobic and binary assumptions.

Genderqueer-ness is an umbrella of gender identities, just like “man” and “woman” are gender identities. The genderqueer identity is not a single and constant identity, but rather a variety of non-normative identities, accompanied by a variety of practices, a variety of conceptions, and different experiences. I will try and offer some definitions of genderqueer identities that I’m familiar with, in order to – hopefully – enable some of you to let go of your dichotomous, queer-phobic perceptions.

But first, some important notes:

  • These definitions reflect the opinion of the author, and do not purport to represent anyone who does not identify with them.
  • The umbrella covers only those who identify with it.
  • A person’s gender identification does not necessarily reflect any particular gender practices or choice of pronouns. In order to know how to address a genderqueer person, ask her/him! To address or refer to a person in a way other than according to the preference they have indicated is a violent and transphobic act.
  • The umbrella is partial and dynamic, anyone is free to redefine for themselves their gender, gender practices, and so on.
  • Many genderqueers identify with more than one gender identity, so do not assume that because someone has identified in a certain way, that other identities are negated.
gender identification

Genderqueer:
A person who does not always identify completely as a man or as a woman, and identifies as genderqueer. In other words: someone whose gender does not conform to the dichotomous definitions of man/woman.

Queer:
A catch-all identity that describes anyone who deviates from heteronormativity. Under the genderqueer umbrella the term describes resistance to definitions or to identities that defy the gender binary.

Bigender:
A person who identifies with two genders simultaneously, or with the gender they were assigned at birth and another gender, and who identifies as bigender.

Gender Fluid:
A person who at different times identifies with different gender identities, or who sometimes defines themselves as a particular gender and at other times does not, and who identifies as gender fluid.

Genderless, A-Gender:
A person who does not identify as any gender category, or to whom the concept of gender is irrelevant, and who identifies as genderless.

Transgenderqueer:
A person who does not at all identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, but only partially identifies with other gender identities, or identifies as both genderqueer and transgender, sometimes with an emphasis on wanting to undergo physical changes, and who identifies as transgenderqueer.

Third Gender/Other Gendered:
A person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, and identifies as third gender or other gendered.

Intergender:
A person who identifies as being somewhere on the continuum between two or more genders, and who identifies as intergender.

Gender Bender/Genderfuck:
A person who combines attributes of different genders, and who identifies as genderblender/genderfuck.

Additional genderqueer identities include: 
Genderqueer man, genderqueer woman, pangender, multigender, man-flexible, woman-flexible, femme, butch, girlfag, guydyke, and many more.

Rocking the Tel Aviv SlutWalk!

Oh. My. Holy. Crap.

On Friday, April 5th, the Tel Aviv SlutWalk took place and we totally rocked this city! I am so proud of all the hundreds of women who showed up and marched, of the organizers who put their hearts and souls into making it a success, of those who got up on stage and spoke to the crowds about their experiences with rape culture and victim blaming.

I was hoping for the best, but was cautiously optimistic. Rain was expected. There was another organization trying to appropriate the SlutWalk while basing their activities on blatant slut-shaming. Historically, anti-sexual violence marches do not attract huge crowds here. As a matter of fact… This was the largest march I’ve seen! We got good coverage on TV, radio, newspapers, news sites and blogs… So surprising, so gratifying! I’m really just brimming over :)

Photos and videos are still being assembled – here is one from YouTube:

Photo gallery – credits to Claudia Levin, Lihi Barnoy, Aviv Aharon, Shimon Hashanki

Tel Aviv Slutwalk 2013

This year I decided to organize the Tel Aviv Slutwalk. Last year, the event was sabotaged by the police (and the weather), while this year a non-feminist organization tried to co-opt the Slutwalk to promote their own political agenda… All very vexing, and so I decided that the event would be safer in my radical little hands.

One of the added values my cohorts and I are trying to bring about in this year’s march is to underline how rape culture affects absolutely everyone, but also how voices that are often silenced anyway, are doubly or triply silenced when it comes to sexual violence. So we’ve invited women from all walks of life, from different ethnicities, refugees, trans* folk, people who are discriminated against for being deaf or in a wheelchair or for any other disability, fat women, lesbian and bisexual women, young and old women… And so on – to share a text saying why she needs the slutwalk. We make a poster of it, and put it on the event page. The results have been nothing short of amazing. The images are in Hebrew, so here is just one sample (though you can see the entire album here if you’d like):

As a teen, I need the Slutwalk because the fact that my breasts have developed does not mean that anyone has the right to mention it all the time, or to touch my breasts. Because I’m tired of all the adults around me interfering with my sexual life, and thinking that is legitimate. As a teen, I have not yet entirely learned how to say no, or to run away or protect myself, and I find myself just freezing in shock and waiting for someone to come by and help me.

As a teen, this is my opportunity to learn to say no, before I get used to being harassed.

I usually do not do any type of fundraising on this blog… But today I decided to make an exception. This event is just that important to me. I set up a page for anyone who want to buy a tank top for the event, or just make a donation. So I thought I’d open up the opportunity here as well, on the off-chance that someone here wants to support this effort. 

The funds will go towards signage and such, and any leftovers will be sent to our sister slutwalks in other cities.

  Donate here, or check out the page with the shirt for sale. Not sure what I would do with international orders for an actual shirt, I guess it depends on the amount of the donation :) The shirt without shipping is about $8-10. So I guess I would send it to you for a donation of $20 and above. Just let me know!

The Invisible Elephant in the Room

There is a topic that is near and dear to me… Yet I haven’t written about it at all.
Femme Elephant

I’ve begun posts or articles many times…
I have dozens of bookmarks saved in my browser… Nothing to show for it. Yet.

Femme. Being Femme. Femme InVisibility. Femme Identity. 

Headings, tags, pieces of things.

It seems that when things get too personal for me, I cannot write a casual post… I want to write a dissertation (:
And who has time for that…

So.

This is not really a post. It is a note. It is a notice. It is a rant. It is a statement – that there is not enough written about what being a femme is all about. There are things I want to shout out, insist upon, inform… There are stances I want to take, and territory I want to stake. There are misconceptions I want to dispel and conceptions I want to eradicate. So much to say. So much emotion choking down the words. It won’t all be said here and now, but this is the opening shot, clumsy as it may be.

I AM A FEMME. I am not a femme because my girlfriend is a butch. I am not a femme because of internalized heteronormative oppression. I am not worth less because queer communities seem to idolize masculinity as much as – or more than! – straight communities. My identity is not subject to lesbian culture’s identity police. I AM A FEMME because this is the identity I choose, because this is the skin I am comfortable in, what fits, here and now. As a femme, I am the one who defines what it means to be a femme. It might be different than how someone else defines it for themselves. As a femme, I insist on my autonomy to conform or not to conform, to whichever standards I choose.

More than that, I believe that BEING FEMME IS ABOUT AS RADICAL AS IT GETS. Think about it: Being femme is a choice. As such, there is an element of gender transition involved. It also transcends hetero gender policing – by first rejecting the compulsory aspect of it, and then choosing the parts that please you. Wrapping yourself in the “weak” presentations of the hegemony, and using them to express and celebrate your strength and power. Sometimes taking them to the nth degree. That is deconstruction, and that is pretty radical. It is totally “in your face” to heteronormativity and queer normativity (yes, I just said that) alike.

elephant8

Obviously I have a lot more to say about this, but let me leave you with these rant bits:

BEING FEMME HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BUTCHES

We are not defined as the absence of, the opposite of, or the partner of. Period. We can be in a relationship with a butch, or with a femme, or with someone who defines themselves as something else entirely. OUR PARTNERS’ DEFINITIONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR SELF-DEFINED IDENTITY. We may or may not even have a partner.

WE ARE TIRED OF BEING INVISIBLE

We are tired of being assumed to be straight, of being overlooked as not radical enough, of being tagged as “wanting to pass” or as being bound by heteronormative culture. THERE IS NOTHING NORMATIVE ABOUT BEING FEMME.

And personally, I am pretty sick of the hierarchies of the queer communities I know, where there is a very clear status ladder, at the top of which are FTMs and at the bottom of which are cis femmes, and in which female/feminine identities are always subordinate to equivalent male/masculine ones (FTMs are “better” then MTFs, and cis gay men are “better” than cis lesbian women, butch is “better” than femme, and so on).

WE DON’T HAVE TO BE LESBIANS

We can be bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, asexual, even hetero (there are queer heteros. seriously.), or have any other sexual orientation or lack thereof. Because, WE ARE NOT DEFINED BY OUR PARTNERS.

WE DON’T EVEN NEED TO BE WOMEN

Fuck the gender binary. Seriously. Some of my best femme friends are genderqueer. Which means they may or may not define themselves as women to any given degree, at any given time. Which is just one example. I find odd, to say the least, the notion that eliminating the binary must mean we go to a unary system of alikeness. Why not expand our possibilities to the infinite, rather than restricting and policing them?

More to come. Stay tuned.

Indian Women Teach Us All Feminism

In the wake of the horrific gang rape (*tw) that resulted in a young woman’s death last week in India, major protests have been going on, in the face of police violence, in spite of a justice system stacked against the women… In protest after protest women are standing up to the violence against them. I have no words to describe how I feel reading about this and seeing the images, I am in awe of them, and I don’t understand why we all aren’t out in the street right now. Really lacking the words, so here are some pictures.

See more amazing pictures of protests and vigils

Protests with Police 121222042816-02-india-protest-1222-horizontal-gallery 121223120022-01-india-protest-police-tear-gas-1223-horizontal-gallery 121228052457-01-india-1228-horizontal-gallery india_delhi_rape_protests_dec_2012_6 TOPSHOTS-INDIA-RAPE-PROTEST india_delhi_rape_protests_dec_2012_6 (2)

Dina Goldstein’s “In The Dollhouse”

bedroommagazine

My favorite photographer of the day, Dina Goldstein, features her latest project, which follows B, a “superdoll” and K, her partner in their home life…

bathroommirrorBreakfast1….DiningAloneD

That’s just a teaser. Check out the whole story line on the project site.

(And if you missed it, check out the post about the project through which I discovered Goldstein, Fallen Princesses.)