Panel at the University of Washington, Seattle, Allen Auditorium – UW Campus Monday January 9, 2012 6-8pm. With Eric Stanley, co-editor of Captive Genders, activist with Gay Shame SF, director of Homotopia and Criminal Queers,Toshio Meronek, activist with Gay Shame SF and Critical Resistance, Ralowe T. Ampu, contributor to Captive Genders, activist with Gay Shame, Gillian Harkins, professor of English at the UW, activist and educator with Transformative Education Behind Bars and Lincoln Rose, former private prison employee who does community work on trans prison issues. Event sponsored by The Q Center Here is the fb event page.
We are finally back from tour, we had such an amazing time, thanks! We will be doing some more date in Washington and Oregon in January, then the LA area at some point after that so keep a look out. If you are interested in some configuration of us coming to where ever you might live and talking about the book email us and we can try to work it out. I will do a proper email about the tour sometime soon. However, here is a little video with me (Eric) and Angela Davis having a “conversation” about queer politics and abolition. Thanks to re:thinking queer for making it happen.
In other news, some great folks are having a book launch in Montreal on Thursday November 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm. Sadly neither Nat nor I will be there, but there will be lots of amazing people, check it out and let us know how it goes!
Also, here is the fb page for it.
Prisoner Correspondence Project, Certain Days, Kersplebedeb Publishing & QPIRG Concordia invite you to the Montreal book launch of:
Captive Genders: trans embodiment and the prison industrial complex
Thursday November 24th, 6:30pm
1500 de Maisonneuve O. suite 204
metro Guy Concordia
– presentation by a trans guy incarcerated in Joliette (a Montreal area women’s prison) speaking about his experiences in a gender-segregated prison environment
– selected readings from the Captive Genders anthology just published by AK Press
– excerpts from the Prisoner Correspondence Project’s article Imprisoned Pride, featuring the voices of currently incarcerated queer prisoners, speaking to their experiences behind bars
– words from Amazon Contreraz, a jailhouse lawyer, trans activist and prisoner at Corcoran, California
The book will be available for sale at the launch at the discounted price of $15 (usual price is $23.05)
– Whisper translation available (English-French & French-English)
– Venue is wheelchair accessible
– Childcare available on site
– Snacks will be served
About the book:
Pathologized, terrorized, and confined, trans/gender non-conforming and queer folks have always struggled against the enormity of the prison industrial complex. The first collection of its kind, Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith bring together current and former prisoners, activists, and academics to offer new ways for understanding how race, gender, ability, and sexuality are lived under the crushing weight of captivity. Through a politic of gender self-determination, this collection argues that trans/queer liberation and prison abolition must be grown together. From rioting against police violence and critiquing hate crimes legislation to prisoners demanding access to HIV medications, and far beyond, Captive Genders is a challenge for us all to join the struggle.
Le Projet de Correspondance avec les Prisonniers, le collectif Certain Days, les publications Kersplebedeb et le GRIP à Concordia
vous invitent au lancement montréalais du livre :
Captive Genders: trans embodiment and the prison industrial complex
Jeudi 24 novembre, 18h30
GRIP à Concordia
1500 de Maisonneuve O. suite 204
– une présentation d’un gars trans incarcéré à Joliette (une prison pour femmes de la région de Montréal) qui parle de ses expériences dans un environnement d’isolement genré en prison
– une lecture d’extraits de l’anthologie Captive Genders, parue recémment par AK Press
– des extraits de l’article ‘Fierté Emprisonnée’ du Projet de Correspondance avec les Prisonnier.e.s, incluant les voix de prisonnier.e.s queer présentement incarcéré.e.s qui parlent de leurs expériences derrière les barreaux
– les mots d’Amazon Contreraz, une avocate en prison, activiste trans et prisonnière à Corcoran, Californie
Le livre sera disponible lors du lancement au prix réduit de 15$ (au lieu du prix régulier de 23,05$)
– Traduction chuchotée disponible (Anglais-Français et Français-Anglais)
– Lieu accessible aux chaises roulantes
– Garderie disponible sur place
– Des collations seront servies
Au sujet du livre:
Traités comme des malades, terrorise.e.s et confiné-es, les gens trans, au genre non-conforme et queer ont toujours lutté contre l’énormité du complexe prison-industriel. Dans cette première collection en son genre, Eric A. Stanley et Nat Smith réunissent ensemble des anciens prisonnier-es et des gens détenus, des activistes et des universitaires pour offrir de nouvelles façons de comprendre comment la race, le genre, l’habilité et la sexualité se vivent sous le poids écrasant de la captivité. À travers la politique de l’auto-détermination du genre, cette collection affirme que la liberation trans/queer et l’abolition des prisons doivent grandir ensemble. Des émeutes contre la brutalité policière aux critiques des lois contre les crimes haineux, aux revendications des prisonnier.e.s pour des médicaments contre le VIH, et bien plus, Captive Genders est un défi à nous joindre à la lutte.
We (Eric, Ralowe and Toshio) are about to leave on a whirlwind tour. If you are in the area come lets figure out how we are going to abolish prisons together. Also, if you cannot make it, tell your people?! We are excited to learn more about whats going down and how people are fighting and winning. Captive Genders will be available for sale at most events. All events are free, open to the public, and accessible. Also, many events will feature local contributors and organizers!
October 19, 2011 Wed 7-9pm. University of Richmond, in Richmond, VA Keller Hall Reception Room at U of R. FB event page is here.
October 21, 2011 Sat. 8-10pm Red Emma’s Cafe in Baltimore, MD 800 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore, MD Book launch party with lots of amazing friends during the American Studies Association conference. FB event page is here.
Ocrober 25, 2011 Tues. 1-2:30 pm, CUNY Graduate Center, New York City 365 Fifth Ave room 5409 Sponsored by the Prison Studies Group and the Women of Color Network.
October 25, 2011 Tues. 7-9pm NYU, New York City NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal 10th Floor 60 Washington Square South with Reina Gossett, Kimma Walker, Nadia Guidotto, and Michelle Potts. Sponsored by Pride Month. FB event page is here.
October 26, 2011 Wed. 7-9pm Bluestockings Bookstore Café, New York City 172 Allen Street with Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Reina Gossett, Michelle Potts and Kimma Walker. Sponsored by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. FB event page is here.
October 27, 2011 Thur. 1-2:30pm Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ Livingston Student Center, Room 201 AB with Regina Diamond. Sponsored by the Center for Social Justice and LGBT Communities. FB event page is here.
October 27, 2011 Thur. 7:30-8:30pm University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Angela Y. Davis and Eric A. Stanley in conversation (more info soon)
October 29, 2011 Sat. 2-3:30pm Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA Science Center 199 with Che Gossett. FB event page is here.
October 29, 2011 Sat. 7-9pm A-Space Community Center, Philadelphia, PA 4722 Baltimore Avenue with Che Gossett. FB event page is here.
October 31, 2011 Mon. 8-9:30pm Wesleyan College, Middleton, CT (more info soon)
November 1, 2011 Tue. 4-5:30 pm University of Maryland, College Park (more info soon)
We are excited to be doing a panel at the University of Richmond to celebrate the book’s launch and to learn more about how people are fighting the proposed new Richmond city jail.
Wed. October 19th from 7-9pm.
Keller Hall Reception Room
The panel will feature:
Eric A. Stanley: co-editor
Ralowe T. Ampu: contributor, Gay Shame SF
Toshio Meronek: editorial collective, The Abolitionist, CR’s paper
We just wanted to thank everyone that came out to the SF book launch at Modern Times, the event was packed and a great success. All of the contributors helped shape the amazing evening, we look forward to more events with even more contributors and all of you. (check out the video from the launch of Jay and Miss Major)
Also, be on the look out for our east coast book tour dates. Once they are all secured we will get the word out far and wide. A few that we do know, October 24th we will be at NYU and then on October 26 we will be at Bluestocking Bookstore in NYC. More info to come soon!
Check out Toshio Meronek‘s interview, “Book Editors Say Queers “Shouldn’t Ask to Sit at the Table — We Should Dismantle the Table” with Nat and Eric in the SF Weekly.
If you thought living in a concrete cage was bad, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender behind bars can be even worse. The editors of a new anthology called Captive Gendersmaintain that queer people experience abuse at a much higher rate behind bars than straight inmates. Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith have collected stories from queer inmates as well as accounts from academics and activists. They say the issues raised in the book show the efforts by many queer people to join society’s mainstream are misguided and hazardous. The collection, according to activist and onetime political prisoner Angela Davis, traverses “the complicated entanglements of surveillance, policing, imprisonment, and the production of gender normativity.”
Stanley, Smith, and other contributors gather Thursday at Modern Times Bookstore to talk about how queer people deal with a system that treats them so harshly. We recently spoke with the two editors on the topic.
Why do you believe there are more LGBT people in prison, per capita, than heterosexual people?
Smith: Queer people, women-identified people, people of color, poor people, and immigrants are the majority of people who are in prison. We are all in prison because we are the people who are most policed, who in being kept poor, jobless, homeless, and imprisoned ensure the ruling of everyone else and the power of those in control. We are in prison because the LGBT movement is more interested in who can get married, not who is allowed to work, or what kind of work we are allowed to do. We are in prison because we are Other, and Other is not allowed participation, nor are we allowed to challenge the tenets of what participation forces us to do — marriage, the military, policing each other, playing by the rules of the state.
What are some ways that prison life is tougher on queer and trans people than others?
Stanley: Prison is a materialization of degrees of “unfreedom,” but for many trans and queer folks, they live this unfreedom as horrific expressions of daily violence from other prisoners as well as from guards and prison staff. A number of the authors in this book point to the use of solitary confinement, also called “ad seg,” for “administrative segregation,” as a means of disciplining gender and sexuality. If a trans woman refuses to cut her hair she is often placed in ad seg, which means she must spend 23 hours a day alone, in total isolation. Ad seg is also used as a form of “protection” for trans and queer prisoners. So, many folks are forced to choose between two unlivable situations.
Why do we hear so much about issues like “don’t ask, don’t tell” and same-sex marriage, yet so little about this issue?
Smith: Because it is an issue of mainstream belonging. These are issues of fighting for more state control, and they have, frankly, nothing to do with justice. We shouldn’t need or want a piece of paper from the state to be able to love and be loved, to be able to get access to health care, or be allowed to stay in this nation. We shouldn’t be asking to sit at the table — we should be dismantling the table. Fighting for marriage, fighting to be in the military, fighting for hate-crime legislation to criminalize and imprison more people — these are not solutions to the day-to-day issues we face of poverty, violence, or lack of respect as community members. These reforms actually work against us, strengthening this system rather than weakening it.
Stanley: The politics of neoliberal citizenship now have a terrorizing rainbow facade. Captive Genders is in part working to undo the power and centrality of mainstream LGBT politics by showing how many of these projects, like hate crime legislation, paradoxically work to harm trans and queer people while reproducing state violence.
Do you have any examples of queer people organizing against this system?
Stanley: Yes. In the book there are many examples of folks organizing historically and today. Jennifer Worley has a great piece on Vanguard, a group of queer and trans street youth that organized in the mid-1960s in the Tenderloin. There is also a really powerful interview with Miss Major, a veteran of the Stonewall Riots who is currently the executive director of the Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project, which is based here in San Francisco. The project works on organizing with formally incarcerated trans women of color.
|GLBT Historical Society|
|Vanguard youth protest police sweeps by sweeping the streets of the Tenderloin (1966).|
What are some alternatives to prison?
Stanley: There are many examples of alternatives to prison, like community accountability processes and restorative justice models. Basically, the idea is to attempt to lessen harm while addressing the needs of the survivor. Currently we have a criminal justice system that is based on punitive power, and its goal is convictions, not actual “justice.” The magnitude of the prison industrial complex obscures us from actually imagining what a world without the prison would be like.
Do you believe people inside prison will be allowed to read the book?
Smith: It depends on what guard is opening the mail that day, and whether the guard opening the mail is in a bad mood, has a vendetta against the content or the recipient, and so on. Many prisons have a rule that books come straight from the publisher, though that is no guarantee. Our publisher, AK Press, does offer a 20 percent discount for books ordered by or for prisoners. The only true guarantee would be in freedom from imprisonment.
Hear from other contributors to Captive Genders on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 2919 24th St. (at Alabama). Admission is free.
Check out Patty Comeau’s brilliant review of Captive Genders in Xtra!, “Queering the debate on the usefulness of prison“. Here is just a little taste, “Captive Genders is a crucial book, furthering an understanding of the evolving struggle for sexual and gender liberation, driving home the impossibility of freeing some, but not all, and calling it victory.”
One of the politics Captive Genders offers is that of gender self-determination. Here ‘self-determination’ exists within the context of other markers of identity and power. What a theory of gender self-determination does, we hope, is opens space for a wider verity of gender identities while resisting a totalizing claim to realness at the expense of others’ identities. Two contributors, Reina Gossett, who lives in Brooklyn and works at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a radical queer activist, writer and performer, offer a few thoughts on the politics of gender in relation to past and present social movements.
Eric Stanley: Tommi in your piece “Brushes with Lily Law,” you write about gender identities that live through and beyond what is currently understood as a “transgender” identity. Specifically you refer to “genderfuck” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Can you say a bit more about the possibilities and limitations of this category?
Tommi Avicolli Mecca: I think for me, gender was always a blurry thing, never well-defined, I played dress up and with dolls as a kid and was ostracized as a sissy. I came out and started doing drag, both as a political statement (radical drag, gender fuck, glitter drag, etc.) and as a personal exploration of this social construct called gender. I was never sure if I was a drag queen, a transsexual, a glitter/glam queen, an androgyne or something else. That was before the word “transgender.” Now, I think it’s all up for grabs. People should just simply do what they want. Gender is a continuum like sexual orientation. How many wonderful variations on it can we find?
Eric Stanley: Tommi you talk about an earlier historical moment, and Reina, in the conversation you are a part of “Abolitionist Imaginings,” (which is facilitated by Che Gossett and also features Bo Brown and Dylan Rodríguez) yours is more contemporary, while pointing toward the past. I am wondering, Tommi and Reina if you could talk about some about the radical trans/queer organizing of today or of past historical moments you find inspiration in?
Tommi Avicolli Mecca: For me, it’s exciting to see the acceptance of gender outlaw-ness that I find among younger queers and transgender folks. When I speak on college campuses, there’s just this awareness of the total arbitrariness of the binary gender system. It makes me feel proud of the work we did 40 years ago. Groups such as Street Action Transvestite Revolutionaries in New York and Radicalqueens in Philadelphia really did start a revolution in thinking about gender and gender identity. We demanded a place in gay liberation as non-gender conforming people. Like us, transgender folks today have simply said, “we’re here, we’re trans, we’re not going away!” And Human Rights Campaign and other movement groups have had to deal with it. Like the mainstream movement had to deal with GLF in the early 70s and ACT UP in the late 80s. I love it. As for the historical moments, I remember that moment in the 73 pride march in New York when Sylvia Rivera seized the mic onstage to urge organizers to divert the march from its course and go past the building where some transgender women were being held (they had been arrested on the streets that weekend). Some of us from Radicalqueens Philly stood near the side of the stage in solidarity with her. It was an amazing moment listening to Sylvia, and though she didn’t succeed in changing the route of the march, she inspired me to go back to Philly and become even more militant about gender issues than I had been.
Reina Gossett: As a queer & trans person of color and a person working within gender liberation & self-determination movements I so often hear about death. More specifically I so often interact with the overkilling of queer and trans people, often low income, living with HIV/AIDS, undocumented, disabled and people of color. So much death, so much killing, has made me wonder how to be accountable to dead as well as the living. I remember reading the essay “Dark Resurrections; Origin and Possibility” last year by Alexis Pauline Gumbs where she writes about our lives as continuous, from the bones covering the Atlantic ocean floor from the slave trade, to the Combahee River Collective to today: “the living and the dead and the yet unborn are all fully involved in our struggle, all present, all demanding our accountability.”
So often in our movement we rush to urgently respond to huge violences affecting our lives rather than create spaces that support us to feel, honor and recognize the power of grief. In his essay “Mourning & Militancy” The AIDS activist Douglass Crimp, having worked to center mourning as a powerfully psychic and necessary force for queer people to experience, reflected on grief as misunderstood by many activist communities: “Public mourning rituals may of course have their own political force, but they nevertheless often seem, from an activist perspective, indulgent, sentimental, defeatist.” So its within this context that I am really inspired by historical moments where people came together to hold ancestral & personal grief as a powerfully political act; make plain the connections between grief & state violence, diminishing circles of care, resource and isolation; resist silence & shame by honoring people who passed all the while deepening our own relationships and invested in our own living.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall the New York Public Library put up a series of photographs of Sylvia Rivera and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries organizing in the 1970s as well as more recently. A friend of mine, AJ Lewis, a doctoral student at University of Minnesota went to NYPL to check them out and do archival research there and came across a flier from the Gay Liberation Front of the 1970s for an action in the ‘70s in Los Angeles, which I find to be incredibly powerful. The flier read:
“Sunday March 7 For three police murders:
Black Street Transvestite
Killed by Los Angeles Police
March 8, 1970
Killed by Los Angeles Police
March 7, 1970
Killed by Los Angeles Police
Tin can demonstration –“bring a small, empty tin-can and a pencil to beat it with. It will make an ominous and interesting sound”
During the demonstration we will attempt to raise (by Magyck) the Rampart Police Station several feet above the ground and hopefully cause it to disappear for two hours. If the GLF is successful in this effort we will alleviate a major source of homosexual oppression for at least those two hours. A large turnout might do the same thing for a longer period of time. Support this action with your presence.
A Peaceful, Non-Violent Demonstration”
Howard Efland’s died in 1969 due to massive internal injuries, which the coroner ruled an excusable LAPD homicide because Howard Efland supposedly resisted arrest to vice officers but according to witnesses Howard (or J McCann) was held on to the ground and beaten. According to an article by Angela Douglas in Come Out! Magazine shortly after their deaths, Laverne (Larry) Turner and Ginny Gallegos were also both killed for resisting arrest and in Laverne’s case for being dressed in “feminine attire.”
I am so inspired by how Laverne, Howard and Ginny are honored as ancestors and are present in the action through a levitated & disappeared police station, ominous and interesting sounds and large turnouts of mourners. I love the levity that accompanied this action, according to witnesses the station rose six feet after demonstrators chanted “Raise! Raise!” I love how haunting this demonstration is, responding to the killings and ongoing threats of homophobic and transphobic violence from the state by organizing an action filled with accountability to the living, dead and unknown forces that are all fully involved in our struggle for liberation. So outside the normalized organizing tactics preferred by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, forty years later this action feels incredibly accountable to the unborn, the dead and the living present at the Rampart Police Station in 1970.
This moment leaves me in awe, accounted for and curious. I wonder what a resurgence of actions connected & accountable to grief, the dead, the unborn, unknown and alive would do to our collective resiliency. I imagine a shift in connection and accountability would create more space in our movements to hold more people, more levity, more magic, less isolation and less shame.
Mark your calenders:
Thursday September 8th, 2011 7pm
Modern Times bookstore (new location) 2919 24th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
Join Eric Stanley and Nat Smith the editors of Captive Gender: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex to celebrate its official release.
Readings and conversations with a number of contributors including:
Ralowe T. Ampu
Tommi Avicolli Mecca
**** Fragrance free: Please make preparations to ensure this event is safe and accessible for beloved community members with environmental illness. We request you refrain from wearing any scented products, including colognes and perfumes, clothing washed in scented detergents, hair and body products with fragrance, “natural” products, and essential oils.
How to be fragrance free: http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html
List of safe products: http://eastbaymeditation.org/accessibility/scentfree.html