The other day, while I was addressing Vancouver Parks Board with my experiences as an out trans and genderqueer person who only accesses their facilities during private rentals, due to my observations of how other trans (some stealth) and genderqueer people are treated during public swimming hours (to say nothing of how I am treated), a SlutWalk Vancouver organizer was busy violating my privacy and outing me as a trans person as some sort of retribution for my recent writings about the relationship of SlutWalk to racism (see: open call to boycott SlutWalk, history of SlutWalk racism, and correspondence with this year’s organizers). That is to say, at least she was trying to violate my privacy and out me:
You’ll have to excuse my use of the “black highlighter” method. I was explicitly asked to keep the email address to myself, no matter how I chose to use this information.
Both comments appeared on images of me that were taken while I was live tweeting (as was explicitly requested of me) from Vancouver’s candle-lit vigil for Grand Elder Raymond Robinson on the last day of his second hunger strike. In one of the photos, a local grassroots indigenous resistance activist (and Super Mom) is wrapping her arm around an elder (who is also a grassroots indigenous resistance activist, and continues to contribute towards reconciliation efforts), who is bursting into tears of grief over the sacrifice being made by Grand Elder Robinson. I was holding black sage in one hand and my cell phone in the other, while elders and traditional stewards of the land spoke, and I put both down to sing and drum alongside them when the time came.
Alice deleted the comments before I could have taken a screenshot of them myself, perhaps expecting that this would magically erase any trace of her decision, even though in one of the photos, several other people were tagged. My friend, on whose photos these comments were posted, was reasonably uncertain of what she should do about the comments, as she had never before known my birth name and simply found these gestures both confusing and incredibly creepy. The several other people who were tagged on one of the two photos have also not known my birth name over the entire duration of our acquaintanceship. It suffices to say that Alice intentionally and successfully violated my privacy, and outed me as a trans person, even though she did then delete the comments within the hour. I guess she was hoping no one got any emails about it. LOLWHOOPS!
Now, as an out trans and genderqueer person (a facet of my identity that is transparently stated on the right-hand side of every page of this blog), it’s pretty much impossible to actually “out” me. I’m already out. You can’t just walk into my life and fling open the closet doors, mercilessly exposing me to the unyielding spotlight of transphobic shaming, because all you’ll expose in that closet is a suitcase full of clown props. When you turn back around, scratching your head, I’ll be standing there in my fairly standard gender-ambiguous (or perhaps gender-confusing) embodiment, loudly stuffing my face with something crunchy and wondering exactly what you thought you’d find in the suitcase. It’s not a trick. It’s the way I’ve chosen to live my life, recognizing that I am read socially as a different person from one interaction to the next, or even from one year to the next with regards to the same people. Rather than fight it and insist that I am being oppressed by rampant cis-centrism, I have chosen to resist oppressive cis-centrism by openly embracing this shape-shifting super power as an out gender-fucker. It’s the choice I am happiest with, even though it may not be the choice that works for anyone else.
None of this was a secret to Alice, either. For the sake of transparency, she and I were on-and-off friends for about a year before I finally came out of the closet and stayed out; and we were living together in the beginning of my transition. It did not end well between us (and the Understatement of the Year Award goes to Jamie!)
I imagine if I were Alice, being confronted with the writings Jamie had recently published, in which I had been called out for repeatedly saying racist shit about Asian women while Jamie was in a relationship with a Chinese man, that I might be led to believe that some aspect of all of this writing is personally motivated. I might believe, somewhere along the way, that I hadn’t been contacted privately about it because Jamie still harbours some sort of grudge. But I would (probably quickly) realize I’m fooling myself (or I’d hope I still had that capacity, if I wasn’t myself). The writings I have been publishing have been addressing issues of SlutWalk’s relationship to systemic racism and colonialism, both in concept and in leadership, after all. This should serve as a sufficient indicator that the issue isn’t about some personal grievance I’m refusing to directly acknowledge—which, for the sake of transparency, isn’t being directly acknowledged because there is none. My memory is not an axe in need of grinding.
Similarly, if Alice remembers things I did years ago that she is unhappy with, even if I have either offered an apology for them or refused to on some basis in relation to a past grievance that was only relevant at the time; or if she herself harbours some grievance towards me to this day, that’s fine. That’s her burden to deal with, and I’m not going to tell her she can’t carry that around with her if she chooses to do so. But none of that has any bearing on the issue of my criticisms of SlutWalk Vancouver and its relationship to racism, which are shared by several dozens of people (at least) who have brought these same criticisms forward in face-to-face forums and multiple other mediums for the past three years, where they have been unanimously ignored. I guess my past relationship to Alice gives me some sort of special status that bears addressing directly, apparently with lateral violence, from one feminist towards another. This isn’t activism. It’s not even feminism. It’s just petty bullshit. This is not what was meant by the phrase “The personal is political.”
In fact, Alice’s remarkably petty behaviour bears a striking resemblance to another woman’s petty behaviour, last year. I was busy publishing an enormous string of writing to confront the entire local kink scene. Though several criminal investigations into multiple members were going on, as accusations had come out that one kink community member not only had a prominent role in delaying justice in the matter of serial murderer Robert Pickton, but of covering up police involvement, along with additional accusations of rape and pedophilia, the majority opinion was an insistence that their individual privacy is far more important than justice. This was coupled with how incredibly racist it was for members of the community to not only work together to produce so-called “art” that in the end looked like Robert Pickton in the middle of murdering one of his 49 victims (most of whom were of indigenous heritage); but for the greater community to persistently defend this “art” and the people who were involved in creating it as well, ignoring entirely that surviving family members of those 49 women thought their “art” was stills from a self-made snuff video tape. One of the people involved phoned me out of the blue to demand I take down a screenshot from the evening news, to protect his privacy for him. In response, I publicly published information about my past relationship to him, and details about sexual abuse he had perpetrated against his own son while sexually advancing himself upon me (against my consent). I later gave a 2-hour video- and audio-recorded statement to the authorities, who began an investigation into this man’s life. Something tells me, due to the fact that there has never been further follow-up with me, that potential witnesses continued to stress the importance of their individual privacy over the prospect of justice for that child.
Despite the seriousness of all that was taking place, a woman by the name of Jennifer Skrukwa (aka Jennifer Zurba), who had previously initiated a conflict with me that resulted in my giving a statement to the police about her relentlessly harassing me, outed me as trans and used social media to repeatedly attempt to smear me as some sort of psychotic stalker who is making all of this up for attention. When the partially redacted Intent to Obtain came out, transparently stating that information I shared on my blog posts and over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour statement had been confirmed, and in which my birth name was loud and clear for all to see (along with a description of me as being a transgendered individual), Jennifer didn’t have any reasonable choice left but to finally shut the fuck up. Only she didn’t, so I published this detailed entry (complete with screen shots of tweets in which she names me by my birth name) to effectively run her business into the ground by making sure it is forever associated with all that Jennifer herself has done to try to libel me and make my life miserable—for it could just as easily happen to people who have children or whose job security would be devastated if she did it to them too (because she already had done it to one other person, who lost their job over it). The entire timeline of writing in relation to this matter is located on the page marked “#RCMP/VPD” at the top of every page of this blog site, and though it’s been a year, many of those entries still receive traffic. And once again, for the sake of transparency, Jennifer is the very narcissistic for-profit business owner I mentioned in my writing about the history of SlutWalk racism, who tried to co-opt the movement and turn it into a pride parade for women who identify themselves as “sluts” (which would no doubt, in turn, serve as a glorified advertisement for her business).
You see, only certain kinds of people stoop so low as to attempt to seriously violate another person’s privacy, or even out them as trans, in order to try and discredit them in light of the criticisms they offer. There is but one word to describe them: dangerous. Some people are so threatened by just how dangerous individuals such as Alice and Jennifer can be, that they become quite convinced that dangerous is a gross understatement, and that sociopathic is in fact significantly more honest. Many of this persuasion have been so seriously victimized by the very kinds of predatory behaviour I have now been served by both women, that they have been given every reason to feel that way. As stated above, one such individual lost her job because of Jennifer. I know of one other who nearly became homeless and whose business was run into the ground by a similar person who is not otherwise mentioned in any way on this entry. One need only begin to imagine the scale of threat involved (perceived or actual, it makes no difference) for people who have children.
But when we’re talking about outing someone as trans on top of that, now we’re talking about a dramatic increase in the scale of manipulation, as well as not just one specific kind of threat, but several. While the consequences in my case are fairly minimal because I have been out of the closet as an explicit means of ensuring that this information cannot be effectively used against me, this is not at all the case for someone who lives as a stealth transperson. Additionally, while I may not be seriously threatened by someone attempting to out me, I am not somehow exempt from the violence faced by transpeople of all stripes. In fact, if anything, I experience it more frequently for the very reason that I am visibly trans. A walking target for transphobic violence. And while I am fortunate that I have not (yet) been physically battered just for being trans, I have been battered recently enough, and was outed as trans to RCMP by a witness who wished to discredit my report in defence of the assailant, even as the hand prints were still clearly visible on my neck. While Alice is busy trying to lash out at me for criticizing the relationship between SlutWalk and white settler privilege, I have been on the phone with RCMP Victim Services every week this month, while I prepare to work on my victim impact statement and apply for crime victim assistance. Had I been living as a stealth transperson on top of all of this, especially if I had children, I can’t even imagine the magnitude of my grief or how I would feel I had any choice out of it—except possibly for the most grim, which any socially conscious individual knows, is already far too prevalent among transpeople (both for those in-the-closet, of which I was no exception, and for those who were stealth until they were publicly humiliated by being outed).
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Boycott this shit. But I’ll add one more thing this time, and that’s a suggestion to all who are willing, to bring their dissent directly to Vancouver’s SlutWalk this year on June 2nd.