Prison Abolition and Rape Survivors

8 05 2015


The following is something I had originally blogged on Tumblr.

So far, at least two different people at seminary have told me that reporting my rape to the police would be a bad idea. The arguments have been that since the police are part of a system of oppression, my rapist would be oppressed by them and that incarceration probably wouldn’t stop him from raping people in prison anyway.

I feel compelled to add that one of these persons who told me this was a woman. A cis woman, albeit who is indeed a fierce trans ally (and the partner of a trans person).

I do feel that the prison-industrial complex must be dismantled. The school-to-prison pipeline must be destroyed. I do not challenge these ideas in any way. What I struggle with is the idea that I must think of my rapist’s potential oppression in the aftermath of him raping me. How many other trans women has he raped? What about cis women? Has he raped men, cis or trans, as well? Has he raped non-binary persons? I feel as if I’m being told that those questions aren’t as important as the question of his potential oppression if he were arrested, tried, and convicted.

I get that as a seminarian and would-be minister, I need to let go of the idea of how I’m oppressed in particular and instead working toward ending oppression in general. I am also very aware that I should probably seek therapy or find a support group. Money, however, factors into that. My current medical insurance doesn’t cover therapy, which is odd since it’s through the seminary. I’m trying to start a rape survivor support group on campus.

It seems to me that something that needs to be addressed is how we might be inadvertently supporting rape culture even as we seek to overturn an unjust penal system. Rape survivors are victims of oppression. If we aren’t supposed to involve the police to address our rapes, how can we be granted justice and create situations in which our assailants are prevented from raping anyone else?

I posted that a week ago, and only one person had replied to date, which is odd because usually talk of rape culture on Tumblr, especially with regards to not reporting rape and rapists to the police is seen as supporting rape culture, usually results in a lively virtual discussion. Well, not this time. Only one response. And here it is:

spinachandmushrooms answered: Until there is a better solution, I wholeheartedly believe that it is right to go to the police. Our systems are broken, but no rapist should continue to commit crimes against innocents. Sometimes the lesser of two evils is the choice we must make.

Last night, I saw a report on the news of a 13-year-old girl who was assaulted in her own home, an attack caught on her family’s in-home security cameras. The photo of her assailant seems to match in-store security images of a man who attacked a woman in that store’s restroom. Police are asking for help finding him.

Six police officers have been arrested for the homicide of Freddie Gray. If convicted, they face prison time. How should this be received by those of us who believe in prison abolition? How can they offer restitution for what they’ve done?

Is it really the lesser of two evils to call the police when one has been attacked (assuming one has the ability to make the call)?

Liberation and Violence

29 04 2015


Being a person who can, with reasonable assurance of safety considering where in the world I live, admit to being transgender and queer means that I owe my liberation to the Stonewall riots, riots that took place a few months before I was born in 1969. Riots that were led by trans women of color, one of whom I had the pleasure of meeting when she spoke at the Pacific School of Religion early in 2013.

The details of my life, however, have made me wary of people who seek to solve problems with violence. Conservative minded persons have mocked me for this, saying that if it weren’t for fighters I would be speaking _____, and you can fill in the blank with the language of your choice (usually Russian, German, or Japanese), or that I’d still be a subject of the English crown. Liberal and progressive minded persons will mockingly remind me of Stonewall, and point to the #BlackLivesMatter protests.

Where does this leave me?

Violence, so far, has never served me well. In fact, it’s done quite the opposite. But even then, what is meant by the word “violence?” Generally, I think of physical violence first when I encounter this word. In fact, I’ve encountered many who will dismiss the idea of violence in words, despite the many voices who will also cry out against the use of “labels.” Emotional violence is often dismissed as well, depending on the circumstances. Likewise with sexual violence. But what of violence against inanimate objects and structures?

Being as I am uncomfortable with being on the receiving end of any type of violence, I’m also uncomfortable engaging in violence. That said, I would probably fight for my life if I or my loved ones were attacked. But again, I come back to the fact that violence hasn’t really helped me all that much in my life. I’m not particularly strong or fast or agile.

So, is it acceptable for me, a survivor of violence, to be uncomfortable with violence as an alleged tool for problem solving? Or, do I need to remain silent as my experiences differ from the experiences of others?

LGBTQI+A, Part 1

24 04 2015

There is a lot of talk in the LGBTQ+ communities about what the “A” in the acronym stands for. There are those who will say it’s for Asexuality, and others will add Aromantic. Some will allow for Agender. There is extreme resistance to it standing for Ally, and I’ll explain why I think that’s a problem in another post. For this post, I’ll address another group missing: Androgynous.

But this post will deal with Androgyny as a gender expression or presentation, rather than as a gender identity.

Yesterday, as I was walking near the Laurel campus of UCSF I was reflecting, as I often do, on gender identity and expression. Part of the reason for this was that I saw an animated GIF set on Tumblr that had some (NSFW) scenes from the movie Boy Meets Girl. In those looping images, a trans woman who has not had SRS walks out of a body of water completely nude. To my eyes, she was unmistakably a woman in spite of her penis. Watching these scenes made me feel better about my own appearance. Ever since watching the video for “Animal Nitrate” by Suede, I’ve been thinking about androgynous appearances. I get called “sir” a lot, and that really rankles. I refuse to undergo vocal coaching or surgery to make me sound more acceptably female by the standards of my society. I am a woman, but a trans woman who’s a bit genderqueer. Androgynous appearances appeal to me for a variety of reasons.

So, yes, I was thinking about all of this while walking in San Francisco this morning. Walking toward me at one point were a pair of people. One of them seemed “female” according to the coded standards of appearance for my society, while the other seemed Androgynous. Eir androgynous appearance gave me joy, even as I thought about my own current appearance.

But after I left San Francisco and returned to San Leandro, I was confronted (again) by the seemingly nasty stares that I get with presenting androgynously or femininely. When I went to try on a dress at Ross, the fitting room attendant seemed taken aback when I insisted I was a “she.” I emerged from the fitting room to show the dress to Anne, walking toward the mirrors at the end of the corridor, and I saw one of the store’s security personnel appear briefly behind Anne, look us over, and then leave. As we were about to check out, Anne confronted this security person, K, politely to ask if I had been followed because I was transgender. K confirmed that the fitting room attendant had indeed called security because of me, but after K saw that I was merely trying on a dress she informed the attendant that I did indeed have the right to be in the “women’s” fitting rooms. It was a really good conversation and the two of us had another chance to become teachers in a way.

But it didn’t stop there.

As we were about to get into the car, we were approached by a woman, L, who had overheard our conversation with K. L told us that she was proud of the way we handled the situation and also told us of her child who is transitioning from male to female. My androgynous expression led to two different teaching opportunities that day.

And, I got a beautiful dress for only $18!

Reblogging: An Execration

21 04 2015

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus offers this castigating prayer against those who would befoul the name of the beloved goddess Isis. Remember the enemy’s true name: Daesh.

Hail Mother Isis!
Ave Antinoüs!
Hail the Morrighan! She will taste the blood of our enemies on her lips!

Reblogging: A little uncomfortable

21 04 2015

Please read “A little uncomfortable,” in which the cisgender* husband of a trans man describes an EEOC trainer using a transphobic* slur while seemingly lamenting describing that trans persons are protected in the workplace.

* Please note: this story would lose all context without the use of labels. My apologies to anyone who might be offended.

When a Man Has a Miscarriage

20 04 2015

At my Transgender Parents Support Group recently, we learned that one of the trans men in our group had a miscarriage. He was carrying a child conceived from an egg harvested from his wife, but he lost the child.

I remember not long ago when trans man Thomas Beatie caused a stir by becoming a media sensation for being a pregnant man. He was vilified by trans persons and cis persons alike, it seemed, for going against gender roles. He was accused of all manner of horrid, nonsensical things.

As if wanting to be a loving parent was something to be abhorred.

For ____’s sake people, leave us alone. Let us marry, pee, and have our families in peace. Our existence is no ____ing threat to yours.

To my allies, I again thank you. I thank you for your support and encouragement.

Reblogging: sex, gender, love, and…

13 04 2015

My friend and mentor, Rev. Lee Whittaker, sums things up greatly:

“what is bothersome about this is that now there will be someone who is in a position of power and authority who gets to decide on something that i’ve known my whole life to be the truth.”

And that one line alone explains why labels are so important. We can pretend they’re superfluous, but that’s just not true. In order to be legally recognized as a woman, it cost me $944.62. If I were simply a woman, as the well-meaning opponents of labels insist, I would not have had to spend this money, have a civil court case during which my identity was at the mercy of how a person in a position of power might interpret the law, and make an announcement in a local newspaper that I wanted a legal name and gender change (it’s my understanding that the public humiliation newspaper announcement is no longer necessary). No. I would simply have said, “Hey! I’m no longer David William McEntee (male), I’m now Constance Anne McEntee (trans). Update my records please, and keep treating me like a human being. Thanks!”

And, Yes, I would rather have my ID say that I’m TRANS rather than FEMALE. This, to me, is a truer expression of who I am.

You can read all of Lee’s post here:


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