[Take from: http://shotgunseamstress.blogspot.com/2012/10/pay-it-no-mind-life-and-times-of-marsha.html
Description: a black and white photo taken probably at a rally or protest. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, is handing out pamphlets to people on the left side of the picture. The eye is equally drawn to the picture of a young black person with a curly head of hair. They’re holding up a sign that says, “Come out of [two women symbols] your ivory [two male symbols] [trans symbol] towers & into the street”.]
It’s that time of year again. Pride. Or at least it is here in Toronto. I’m of course, gearing up for Pride like a lot of people breaking out the glitter and picking out an outfit in hopes to impress the queers and friends that I’ll bump into later today. But I was reminded today that this isn’t a party.
I’m reminded once again of how so many of my friends, how many people in my community, are poor, on OW/ODSP/other forms of social assistance, and struggle to eke out an existence. Particularly my transfeminine friends, many of whom are disabled or of colour. I chose this image of Marsha P Johnson to remind everyone that it was trans women of colour sex worker who started the movement which we now know as “gay rights”. Additionally, the sign beside her is a reminder that rights isn’t about just academic theory, law, or policy, it’s about human lives, human experiences.
That being said, what are we doing to make the lives of our friends, our community better?
I try my best to support everyone I can within my capacity. I try to help find housing, I try to hook people up with my connections, but I’m not a miracle worker. I can’t fix things and this distresses my “pack mom” instincts. I want things better for those around me.
I’m asking everyone who reads this to think about what they can do.
What can you do to help people find housing that’s affordable on OW?
How can you help people on OW find cash to help meet their basic needs?
How are you breaking down the barriers that is called employment?
How are you defending transfeminine folks from shitty gatekeepers?
How are you helping transfeminine folks avoid street harassment?
What are you doing to make sex work a little safer for folks in your life?
How do you hold the violence that occurs within trans communities?
What are you doing to make spaces more friendly to disabled folks and not just the visibly disabled folks?
What can you do to hold space for people who face multiple barriers in life and the traumas that they/we hold?
I don’t mean throw money at charities here. I don’t mean only fighting the good fight. Those have their uses, I’m talking about the people around you in your lives. And if you don’t have any transfeminine people in your life, who is in your life? I’m focused on talking about transfemininity right now, but a lot of the questions I asked apply to basically any marginalized community. Poverty is the major common denominator in all marginalized communities.
I’m feeling pretty tired. Poverty is mentally draining and I have it pretty good given my income. I have housing, community, chosen family, and almost enough regular income coming in to pay for my basic, sliding scale lifestyle and have thus far, managed to make enough to stay out of debt. But I still don’t make enough money to touch the poverty line.
I have a lot of people who care about me, I’m forever thankful for everyone in my life. I pass for white, I’m fairly talkative, opinionated, creative, and highly driven. I’m relatively easy to like and I try to support the people around me. I dream of being like Miss Major when I’m old. But not everyone has that. I know far too many people who are isolated and/or no one makes community with them. (And they’re not terribly toxic individuals). And I just want to pull them in a hug and comfort them and give them all the nice things.
Poverty is chronic and impacts all our marginalized communities (unless you’re a rich white gay dude who lives in a gated community with other white gay dudes). But it at least is at least a little bit less shitty when you have company. You don’t need to be rich to support others. You don’t need to be poor to need support. I’m trying to push my agenda again of interdependence which I’ve been hinting at through this piece. By supporting each other, it helps level the playing field a little bit and is a way to help alleviate poverty and other forms of oppression. I know it’s hard, it means you have to be vulnerable for others to help you which feels unnatural in our c(r)apitalistic society.
Pride reminded me that this needs to be said again.
Happy Pride everyone.