Friday, July 18, 2008

Final day in Chi-town

It's a few hours before heading back to DC. The final day here brought excitement and sadness. I got to finally eat a jibarito which was very very tasty. On the way back to the conference I had a nice talk with an old man as we waited for the bus. The conference was cool although I spent most of the day moderating sessions, and won't be able to make my presentation about our research tomorrow, but oh well. There was a really interesting session at the end of the day with a panel of current and former street-based sex workers, and it was pretty intense. There were some quite controversial comments made, and some tension, but then things came around and good discussion was had. It is not easy for people who feel that sex work is bad and people who feel that its ok to speak together about how to commonly confront the challenges that all workers, regardless of their feelings about the sex trade, face. But it was an important space and especially to try to keep having those kinds of conversations because they are difficult. At the end of the day I got to enjoy a really nice meal with some fantastic folks including the amazing Scarlot Harlot, folks from SWOP in San Francisco and SWOP Tucson and from Chicago and DC. Not to mention to beautiful little munchkins! We ate at Soul Veg which I didn't realize is actually part of the same business that is Soul Veg in DC - they had a really big restaurant with nice seating and a menu, no buffet and the food came quick (except for Scarlot's but that seemed a mistake). They did not have the traditional delicious man n cheese, but the lasanga with greens that I had was fantastic. About to get on a plane and head back to the District - hopefully photos can be uploaded soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Windy City Part Dos: Hos and Jibaritos

OK genderfatigue-ers, it's been another action packed day here in Chicagoland. I hope you enjoyed my drunkenly written post yesterday, and again I apologize for lack of photos! I was hoping to borrow a cable today to upload pics from the digi-cam, but alas it did not work out. So you will have to wait! But I will give you one photo - of a sandwich that mothershiester has commanded me to search out and eat.... el jibarito...

damn that looks good. i am going to eat it mothershiester!!!!

meanwhile, i got to watch two of my favorite tv shows last nite! hooray for hotel cable! the shield i have not been able to catch for a while since the stupid my20 channel in DC changed it from late sunday nite to late saturday nite, but i got to see a great episode in which vic and that female cop make out! oh shit! then there was an episode of aqua teen hunger force, which sadly was quite up to snuff but still had funny moments.

today we had anti-oppression training at the conference, and it was pretty good. it was interesting b/c the trainer kinda rejected the idea that power+privilege=oppression, instead saying that anyone can act out oppression (like not only white people can be racist) - i don't know if i really agree with her analysis on that point but it was an interesting argument that she made and overall a great training. we got to talk towards the end in little mini-affinity groups, and i was in the sex worker parent group (since i'm a god-parent and have done sex work) and it was really nice conversation and cool. hm, not very articulate right now but whatevs. then i moderated a workshop by a great woman who started an organization in guatemala for very low-income sex workers, who i'd seen a film about at last year's sex worker film festival in san francisco, called "las estrellas de la linea" (the railroad allstars, because the women work by railroad tracks). it was pretty inspiring to hear about their work, and how they are overcoming some pretty intense obstacles to organizing and service provision.

The group is called MuJER (Spanish acronym for Women for Justice, Education and Awareness) and although it's a shame that it was started by three non-sex workers, at least Ana (who gave the presentation) is herself Guatemalteca, and she is committed to transferring leadership to the women in the organization. Some of the women from the program will be at the sex worker pre-conference gathering in Mexico City in advance of the International AIDS Conference. Speaking of which, I will be blogging from there not only on our very own gender fatigue blog, but also the blog of CHAMP (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gender Fatigue on the road again

This time our intrepid blog heads to Chicago. Bent is here in the Windy City for the Desiree Alliance Conference, an annual (or semi-annual, depending on how things go) conference for sex worker rights activists. Although extremely underfunded as a movement, sex worker rights activists have worked hard to get the resources together to make these conferences together.

Right here we should have a picture of an amazing sex worker activist from California who has been battling cancer this past year, and she is looking damn good. This year's Desiree Alliance Conference has started off with an homage to one of the early sex worker rights activists: Margo St James. Margo was on hand tonight to give a short speech recalling some of those early days in San Francisco and her belief that the next generations have carried the flame forward for sex worker justice. She recalled the early days of the movement when she was living in Marin County north of San Francisco and helped to start the organization WHO - "Whores, Housewives and Others" ("Others" she quipped, "were lesbians but you couldn't say that then."). Margo St James went on to help found COYOTE (Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics) and start the first Hookers' Balls, amazing parties for sex wokers which often attracted politicians and top police officials among others. The night ended with some amazing films from the 70s about Margo's work, including a PSA on HIV called "Margo's Message" and the short film "Hookers" which includes some amazing Hookers' Ball footage as well as hilarious shots from sex worker sessions and intense stories from sex workers themselves.

The conference is happening in this interesting neighborhood of Chicago that is mainly light industrial - as in autobody shops and such - with residential pockets interspersed. I ate at a delicious Mexican joint called Traspasada where I had a chorizo taco with a Negro Modelo, and some chips and amazing salsa, probably some sort of chipotle, tomatillo mix. Pics to come! I came there (at intersection of California, Elkton and Belmont) after stopping in an amazing little taqueria just around the corner from the conference space, but they didn't serve beer! There seems to be an interesting trend in Chicago restaurants to not offer beer or liquor, and a lot of them say "BYIB" on the door, which is really cool but if you're from out of town maybe you just want to eat and drink in the same place.

Ironically, our hotel is located on the trans stroll and almost directly across from the bar where trans women can pick up tricks. Stay tuned!!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Trans inclusion/exclusion

Recently there has been a kerfuffle over at thenewgay about transgender inclusion in the weekly dance nite be:xx at be bar, where both bent and mothersheister, along with assorted other amazing djs, have rocked the dance floor. While we appreciate conversations about space and dance and party and who's included or not, it does seem disingenuous when people who themselves don't do much in the way of inclusion (trans or otherwise - check out these inclusive photos) talk trash about a nite that actually brings together a pretty interesting crowd (though there's certainly PLENTY of room for improvement). Nonetheless, we are also concerned about recent developments with very real negative consequences for trans people in our city.

The DC Trans Coalition has had a campaign for a number of months to pressure the Department of Corrections to change how they treat transgender prisoners. After a lot of BS and not listening to the community, the Dept of Corrections recently released draft operating orders for handling trans persons in their custody - which trample trans people's safety, identity and human rights in the name of protecting them. The DC Trans Coalition is holding a demonstration this Saturday July 19 at the DOC headquarters to protest their lack of responsiveness to the community.

Demand real "safety and security" from the DOC this Saturday!
The DC Department of Corrections thinks that running their jails with "safety, order and security" means compromising the safety and security of our community.
We need to correct them!
Join the DC Trans Coalition this Saturday from 1-3pm to tell the Dept. of Corrections that they can't ignore our voices, our allies, and OUR need for safety and security within DC Jails.
Bring yourself, as many friends as you can, some righteous indignation and join the protest!
The Dept. of Corrections is located at 1923 Vermont Avenue NW (near 10th and U; U St. metro).
Want to help make signs this Thursday? Drop an email to Max, meestertoth @ for directions to a sign-making party.
Also, the DCTC's campaign against the Department of Corrections was the focus of a very good article in the Metro Weekly that hit the newsstands this past Thursday. Check it out here:

Meanwhile, unknown actors within the DC Government (but more than likely officials with the DOC, Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs, and Human Rights Commission) are pushing for BAD changes to our relatively new regulations that protect transgender and gender variant people's human rights in the District. Folks should contact the DC Human Rights Commission, the Mayor and City Council to demand that these changes NOT be made to DC Municipal Regulations Chapter 8 Title 4!