You are on page 1of 30

anna winham

professor coly
colonial and postcolonial masculinities
tuesday the 4th of june 2013

what I mean is, what about your female socialisation did you think
gave you a free pass at patriarchy?
what I mean is I understand that your bodies have not always been
yours, but they have always been beautiful. You have always had
words for them.

My testosterone is now made by Israels largest company. There is


colonisation running through my bloodstream. Every time I take a shot,
my muscles feel out of place for several days, but there is some
perverse satisfaction in this, that in even in my body masculinity takes
up too much space

- Janani Balasubramanian in trans/national

Fig. 1: Trigger 1
Character Description
Nina Rojas: Dartmouth College 13, Mexican, transgendered (to some
people), deaf in one ear, undocumented until a couple of years ago,
undocumented parents.
Dean Spade: lawyer, civil rights activist, writer, and Associate
Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law founded the
Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non- profit law collective in New York City
that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender
non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color.
(Dean Spade: Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law.)
Act I
R: My parents are undocumented, and all they want is to feel safe here.
They dont really care if people in trouble with the law get kicked out.
S: Right, thats very real. Whenever we increase punishing power of a
system that discriminates against us, though, we increase the power it
has against us.
Act II

S: Then people ask, do you want us to build a trans prison? and were
like no! Because we know youll just fill it.

Fig. 2: Trigger 2
Danny Valdes: Can you be queer as fuck tomorrow dress wise?
Apparently they were being transphobic

just queer as fuck

Fig. 3: The real victims


My persuasion can build a nation. Beyonc, in Who Run the World
(Girls)
The brick of the nation is narrative. We tell stories of common
origins, common endings, common struggles, common golden ages.
The we of the nation, however, is, like masculinity, always under
question, under threat. This commonality requires constant defense
against the exposure that it is not commonality at all. The horizontal
comradeship Benedict Anderson depicts in Imagined Communities as
the basis of the nation is an image-ination, not least so for women.
Indeed while men are theorised (if not actually) metonymous of the

nation, women must bear, must birth, must metaphor the nation.
Bound to patriarchy, the nation is fractal recursivity (Irvine and Gal 38);
like a door that creates the inside/outside of a building, followed by a
door that creates the inside/outside of a room, followed by a door that
creates the inside/outside of a cupboard, ideas translate across scales,
and the nation creates and requires a series of structures repeated
across and within national spaces. The family becomes a site of the
nation, a social relation to power, a historical genealogy, a
patriarchal fractal, domestic domination (McClintock 34-5). Family,
fractal of nation, is a word for private patriarchy, domestic patriarchy,
which according to Kimmel, refers to the emotional and familial
arrangements in a society, the ways in which mens power in the public
arena is reproduced at the level of private life (417). Current political
discourse shudders at the mixing of the private and public spheres
socially constructed in the nineteenth century; as Gal argues, The
belief that these values are antagonistic continues to generate heated
political argument (78). Gal provides the example that this belief
motivates the widespread fear that practices such as money
payments for intimate care will contaminate the trust and love of
private life. There is also the parallel fear that expressions of emotion
and the mobilization of intimate ties will weaken the fairness and
rationality of politics (78). The nation repeats itself privately,
constructs itself domestically; indeed, this is how it practices its power.

But if the nation acknowledged these actions, it would have opened


itself to deconstruction on all scales. The nation thus repeats itself in
fractals in private and in silence.
The ideology of separation between the private sphere and the
public allows for the denial of structures of oppression in personal
interactions, in private settings. Because of the principle of fractal
recursivity, any sub-group can become a private sphere. A Whitesecond-wave-feminist nation within the US can become private, can
become a cult of victimhood, can become a private patriarchy veiled
by the participation of women. The feminist connecting of the personal
and the political seeks to defy this oppressive ideology; it asserts that
we must make the private public and the public private in order to
dismantle patriarchy in all areas of our lives. As Foucault argues, the
manifold relationships of force that take shape and come into play in
the machinery of production, in families, limited groups, and
institutions, are the basis for wide-ranging effects of cleavage that run
through the social body as a whole (1629). Our private nations,
private patriarchies, enforce a larger hegemonic patriarchy. Our private
resistances are political; our public rebellions are personal.
Like the ability of women to participate in the construction of
patriarchy and the nation indeed, the patriarchal nation requires the
complicity of women people who are not White or not women have
the ability to participate in White-feminist nationalism. Like the

ideology of the horizontal comradeship of men in the nation that exists


in the face of the material, economic, class, and ultimately power
differences that actually exist among them, women of colour and men
can help construct the White-feminist nation, can actually to some
extent belong. It is simply a matter of what one is willing to give up,
when and how one is willing to be silent. What will persuade you to
build a nation? A mixture of interpolation and agency, identity does not
have to force the choice to conform to the nation; masculinity can
resist patriarchy; femininity can enforce it.
The construction of alternative masculinities, border crossings, realms
of defiance, uncertainty, confusion, and illegibility, articulate
resistance. In the words of Janani Balasubramanian in their poem
trans/national, [my line breaks and punctuation]
But I am trying to believe in something greater,
that there are ways of being a man
that do not involve being a White man.

What my grandmother means is that there are ways of


being a man
that do not involve being an American man.

I will build some other new old kind of masculinity.

Fig. 4: Criminals (left) and Victims (right)


(Radical) Image-ination
Like attempts at feminism within nationalism, seeking to reform
or modify systems of oppression allows only for the continuation of
those fundamentally oppressive systems. As Paulo Freire argues in
Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
the purely reformist solutions attempted by societies (even though
some of the reforms may frighten and even panic the more reactionary
members of the elite group) do not resolve their external and internal
contradictions. Almost always the metropolitan society induces these
reformist solutions in response to the demands of the historical
process, as a new way of preserving its hegemony. It is as if the
metropolitan society were saying: Let us carry out reforms before the
people carry out a revolution. (162)

Indeed, reforms often have been used not only to reinforce oppressive
systems but also actually to the benefit of oppressive systems. For
example, after slavery by the name of slavery ended in the United
States, the rise of chain-gang prisons, predicting ultimately the prisonindustrial complex, led to a form of slavery that did not require the
slave-owners (the businesses that hired inmates through prisons) to
keep their slaves (the inmates, often Black men) alive, leading in many
ways to an even more brutal environment. Similarly, in her book
Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, Jayawardena argues,
an ideology which supported the freeing of women from traditional
constraints and allowed their freedom to be exploited economically
was the one that the bourgeoisie encouraged. any decrees or
legislation intended to free women from traditional types of bondage
were generally in the interests of capitalist ideology, and particularly in
the interests of creating a potential, if not actual, labour supply. (256)
Even though feminism ought to oppose patriarchy in all ramifications,
it often can be coopted into serving patriarchal systems, such as
capitalism and nationalism. In many ways, nationalist feminisms have
emerged and developed themselves only in the directions that
capitalism allows and which benefit capitalism. Though allowing
women to enter the workforce can give them more economic power
than if they were not allowed, this investment in wage-slavery then
keeps women entrenched in capitalism, which ultimately strengthens
the patriarchal system. Jayawardena continues: Even economically
active and independent women find themselves constrained, both at
home and in the workplace, in structures that emphasize and

perpetuate female subordination (259). In this conference, even as


sexual assault survivors sought to empower themselves through filing
complaints against their colleges, they participated in the construction
of the same patriarchal structures that created an environment in
which they could be assaulted. The building of this White-feminist
nationalism excluded those who did not belong and built power along
hierarchies.
The construction of this nation grew out of the roots of
victimhood. These individuals indeed all had been in some way
victimised by the violence of patriarchy and indeed all were seeking to
challenge that violence. However, the status of victimhood in this
White-feminist space became unquestionable and monolithic. It is this
kind of uncritical, unreflective stance that Black feminists like Barbara
Smith seek to challenge in essays such as Toward a Black Feminist
Criticism. Smith writes, a redefinition of the goals and strategies of
the white feminist movement would lead to much needed change in
the focus and content of what is now generally accepted as womens
culture (1601). Smith argues that the existences and experiences of
women of colour must be incorporated into a feminism that truly will
challenge patriarchy. At the press conference, the lack of people of
colour, though not the explicit fault of the White women present
(including myself), clearly painted sexual assault as a White womens
issue, once again constructed victimhood as White. Had these women

been willing to reflect upon their positions of privilege, the character of


the space, the goals and strategies, the focus and content, would have
led to the change Smith calls for. Smith continues,
What I want this essay to do is lead everyone who reads it to examine
everything that they have ever thought and believed about feminist
culture and to ask themselves how their thoughts connect to the reality
of Black womens writing and lives. I want to encourage in white
women, as a first step, a sane accountability to all the women who
write and live on this soil. (1610)
What I want this piece to do is remind everyone who reads it that
Smiths words are not irrelevant, that White-feminist nationalism
continues to unreflectively reinforce patriarchy. I want this piece to
remind all of us that when anyone is told to wait for later for their
freedom, that now isnt the time, this freedom doesnt come later. We
cannot wait until later. There is no hierarchy of equality.
This White-feminist nation, then, is an inside group. It creates a
narrative of who belongs and deserves justice and who doesnt. It
creates a narrative of the naturalness of insider status and anyone who
questions that naturalness can no longer be an insider. In the same
way as the personal is not allowed to be considered political in
patriarchal political discourse, the private group is not allowed to be
criticised or deconstructed in the White-feminist nation. However, as
Monique Witting writes in One is not Born a Woman, a materialist
feminist approach to womens oppression destroys the idea that
women are a natural group: a racial group of a special kind, a group
perceived as natural, a group of men considered as materially specific

in their bodies (1637). The feminism exhibited by the White-feminist


nation at this press conference was not materialist, that is to say,
Marxist. In not being Marxist it was not critical, not reflective, not
deconstructive. It was instead one of the avenues that,
lead us back to the myth of woman which was created by men
especially for us, and with it we sink back into a natural group. Having
stood up to fight for a sexless society, we now find ourselves
entrapped in the familiar deadlock of woman is wonderful. Simone de
Beauvoir underlined particularly the false consciousness which consists
of selecting among the features of the myth (that women are different
from men) those which look good and using them as a definition for
women. What the concept woman is wonderful accomplishes is that
it retains for defining women the best features (best according to
whom?) which oppression has granted us, and it does not radically
question the categories man and woman, which are political
categories and not natural givens. It puts us in a position of fighting
within the class women not as the other classes do, for the
disappearance of our class, but for the defense of women and its
reenforcement. (Wittig 1639)
This unwillingness to deconstruct the category woman within Whitefeminist nationalism perhaps is why female masculinity presented such
a threat to the nation: female (or trans-) masculinity lies squarely
outside the origin story of this nation. Indeed, the very existence of
female or transmasculinity invalidates that origin story and destabilises
the nation. In the fight for (White) womens empowerment through
the patriarchal structure of the nation this kind of instability is
threatening. Thus, the nation also chooses to privilege not only those
who easily fall into a White-feminist origin story, but also those willing
to conform to the story. Judith/Jack Halberstam details this
phenomenon in Female Masculinity. Responding to criticism of a prior

work about the tensions between butches masculinity and trans-men,


Halberstam writes, Isabellas charge that I had not accounted for the
experiences of the successfully integrated post-op FTM assumes that
this particular mode of transsexuality - integrated and post-op
represents the apex of cross-gender transition and indeed represents
its success (147). Here is the tension between liberal and radical
politics, between LGBT studies and queer studies. The LGBT scholar or
the liberal advocates for integration, for the acceptance of those who
lie outside the origin story if they seek to conform to it, whereas the
queer theorist or the radical leftist seeks to subvert the origin story
itself. Halberstam continues, The in-between bodies that I had focused
on in my essay can only be read in such a context as preoperative
versions of the real thing, of bodies that fail to integrate (147).
Halberstam here articulates a key point: from within the lens and
framework of the White-feminist nation, female masculinity or
transmasculinity represents a failure of either masculinity or femininity,
a failure to achieve any kind of origin story. From the lens of the radical
leftist queer, these masculinities represent the possibility of subverting
the categories masculinity and femininty.
Halberstams exploration of Butch/FTM Border Wars explicitly
deals with the encounter between gender and nation, detailing how
our language and construction of gender depend upon the language
and construction of nations. Halberstam details stories of FTM

individuals experiencing masculinity in a way that is too real in


some lesbian contexts or transgender men as crossing some
imaginary line between play and seriousness (151). This imaginary
line of sex and gender mirrors the imaginary lines drawn by nations on
maps and on bodies. The White-feminist nation draws a line of
femininity, a line of gender, to distinguish who can be included in this
liberation and who cannot. Transgender individuals cannot even be
acknowledged as existing, because these people have crossed the line,
and in crossing it have begun breaking it. Halberstam continues,
Metaphors of travel and border crossings are inevitable within a
discussion of transsexuality. But they are also laden with the histories
of other identity negotiations, and they carry the burden of national
and colonial discursive histories (165). Threatening gender, upon a
binarist concept of which hegemonic heteropatriarchal nationalism is
based, threatens the nation. Threatening the White-feminist nation
threatens the power that these women could gain within a capitalist,
patriarchal society.
Halberstam gives us a question particularly pertinent in the case
of Latino transmasculinity in the US: What does it mean, then, to
discuss gender variance and gender transitivity as a journey from one
country to another or from a foreign country to a home or from illegal
status to naturalized citizenship? (165). In addition to the
metaphorical border crossing that transgenderedness creates alone,

Latino transgenderedness invokes ideas of a second border crossing, a


second threat. These Latino transmen are seen as threats not only to
the White-feminist patriarchal nation but also to the White patriarchal
United States as a whole. The myriad border crossings occurring here
make Danny and Nina repeatedly into symbols of transitivity: each
transitive quality they embody mirrors another, making it easier for
White-feminists to justify their exclusion. By threatening the structure
of the nation purely by existing as Latino trans-men (but also in their
radical queer politics), Danny and Nina become better feminists
through their masculinity. Halberstam leaves us with a warning, but
also with a little hope: I suggest we think carefully, butches and FTMs
alike, about the kinds of men or masculine beings that we become and
lay claim to: alternative masculinities, ultimately, will fail to change
existing gender hierarchies to the extent to which they fail to be
feminist, antiracist, and queer (173). Halberstam acknowledges the
agency and interpolation of identity, the need to continue politically
and personally, publicly and privately, to subvert systems of
oppression and not to use the social capital afforded by ones identity
(say, as a cis-gender woman, standing behind a monolithic sign of
oppression) to reinforce those systems.
Gender border crossing in the context of postcolonialism
presupposes the existence of those countries in similar ways as it
presupposes the existence of those two genders. We reinforce both

scripts even as we attempt to resist them, yet also by existing across,


between, among, or bilaterally, we subvert these scripts. We flip them.
Presented with systems of power and our socially constructed status
within them, we must use what resources and opportunities we have
for subversion: we must exist tactically. We are crossing the mindset of
the nation. We are illegal, undocumented, not natural(ised). Wearing
race and gender as minstrelsy and drag, we reveal that Whiteness,
heterosexuality, maleness, femaleness, and the nation are not prior,
are not original. We suggest that imitation is at the heart of the
heterosexual project and its gender binarisms, that drag is not a
secondary imitation that presupposes a prior and original gender, but
the hegemonic heterosexuality is itself a constant and repeated effort
to imitate its own idealizations (Gender is Burning 125). Here
masculinity becomes a tool of feminism and must be outlawed
literally, by calling the police by the feminine individuals seeking to
perpetuate patriarchy.
The myth of the White-feminist nation at this conference is the
myth of all nations: that of naturalness. This myth of naturalness
becomes the script that can be deployed so as to exclude. Benedict
Anderson describes how this script ultimately conflates nation, race,
and gender by connecting naturalness to that which is not chosen
that identity into which one is interpolated rather than that which one
can influence thus assimilating nation-ness to skin colour, gender,

parentage and birth-era (143). Despite this, most nations maintain an


additional myth of openness. Anderson claims that from the start the
nation was conceived in language, not blood, and one could be
invited into the imagined community. Thus today, even the most
insular nations accept the principle of naturalization (wonderful word!),
no matter how difficult in practice they may make it (145). This is how
those who are not women and those who are not White can choose to
participate in the White-feminist nation; they must, however, become
naturalised. As already discussed, the nature of Latino
transgenderness threatens the story of the natural nation. Though the
nation presents itself as simultaneously open and closed (Anderson
146), nationalism thinks in terms of historical destinies, while racism
dreams of eternal contaminations, transmitted from the origins of time
through an endless sequence of loathsome copulations
(Anderson149). Gender and race in this specific case of White-feminist
nationalism become eternalised: crossing gender boundaries is an
eternal sin; Latino identity is an eternal anger and aggression. Each of
these eternal flaws confronts the nation, which has an origin, a
struggle, a story. The conflict of sexual assault, which has brought all
these women together into the nation, writes itself as a concrete
event, a concrete beginning, and these women become threatened by
gender-nonconformity and non-Whiteness because they appear as

eternal threats. They do not fit within the framework of the nation, of
the patriarchy.
Nationalism requires group belief in a group memory. While the
national community the group memory creates certainly is an
imagined such community (not in the sense that it is unreal, but in the
sense that one understands a community operating beyond oneself
even if one does not experience it), this process of imagining does not
require, in fact quelches, radical (re)image-ination. As Freire so expertly
articulates in Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the
oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to
become oppressors, or sub-oppressors. The very structure of their
thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete,
existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be
men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of
humanity. (45)
It is easy to criticise the White-feminist nation that emerged at this
press conference primarily because it and its participants
criminalised, silenced, and discriminated against other members of the
conference on the basis of gender performance and race but perhaps
we should try looking at this as an initial stage in a radical pedagogical
movement. This movement will only become radical or pedagogical,
however, if the participants begin reflecting, as Smith suggests. And
this reflection cannot take place within the patriarchal structure of the
nation, as reflection is directly opposed to its existence. Freire
maintains that, Those who authentically commit themselves to the

people must re-examine themselves constantly. This conversion is so


radical as not to allow ambiguous behavior (60). This White-feminist
nation, then, just is not a radical or liberating movement (and wont be
until this examination occurs), and we must acknowledge it as such.
Our task becomes, then, not only to subvert systems of oppression in
society at large, but also those that exist privately, those within our
own movements. We must continue border crossing so as to
deconstruct the foundation of borders, in terms of gender and nation,
patriarchy and capitalism, liberal politics and radical ones. We cannot
wait until later; we cannot reform. Our task is the radicalisation and reimage-ination of the liberal movements that reinforce the systems of
oppression they seek to modify. We need to be queer as fuck, else
well never decolonise.

roots
Ahmed, Leila. The Discourse of the Veil. Postcolonialisms: An
Anthology of Cultural Theory and Criticism. Ed. Gaurav Desai and
Supriya Nair. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University
Press, 2005. 315-338. Print.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin
and Spread of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso, 1991.
Print.
Balasubramanian, Janani. trans/national. Youtube. Web. 4 June 2013.
Butler, Judith. Imitation and Gender Insubordination. The Critical
Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Themes. Ed. David H.
Richter. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007. 17071720. Print.

Butler, Judith. Gender is Burning. Bodies that Matter: On the


Discursive Limits of Sex New York & London: Routledge,1993.
121-140. PDF.
Connell, R. W. The Social Organization of Masculinity. Masculinities.
Berkeley and Lose Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.
PDF.
Dean Spade: Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law. Email
distribution. Women's and Gender Studies Program, 6 May 2013.
Web. 30 May 2013.
Enloe, Cynthia. Nationalism and Masculinity. Bananas, Beaches, &
Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley,
Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990. PDF.
Foucault, Michel. From The History of Sexuality. The Critical
Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Themes. Ed. David
H. Richter. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007.
1627-1636. Print.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 1970. New York: The
Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2007. Print.
Gal, Susan. A Semiotics of the Public/Private Distinction. differ
ences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 13.1 (2002): 7795. PDF.
Halberstam, Jack/Judith. Female Masculinity. Duke University Press,
1998. Print.
Irvine, Judith and Susan Gal. Language Ideology and Linguistic
Differentiation. Regimes of language : ideologies, politics, and
identities. Ed. Paul V. Kroskrity. Santa Fe: School of American
Research Press, 1999. 35-83 PDF.
Jayawardena, Kumari. Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World.
London and New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd., 1986.
Kimmel, Michael. Globalization and its Mal(e)contents: The Gendered
Moral and Political Economy of Terrorism. Handbook of Studies
on Men & Masculinities. Thousand Oaks, London, New Dehli:
Sage Publications, 2005. PDF.
Knowles, Beyonc. Who Run the World (Girls). 4. Columbia Records,
2011. MP3.

McClintock, Anne. The Lay of the Land: Genealogies of Imperialism.


Imperial Leather. New York: Routledge, 1995. PDF.
McDowell, Deborah. Pecs and Reps: Muscling in on Race and the
Subject of Masculinities. Race and the Subject of Masculinities.
Ed. Harry Stecopoulos and Michael Uebel. Durham and London:
Duke University Press, 1997. PDF.
Smith, Barbara. Toward a Black Feminist Criticism. The Critical
Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Themes. Ed. David H.
Richter. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007. 16001610. Print.
Wittig, Monique. One is not Born a Woman. The Critical Tradition:
Classic Texts and Contemporary Themes. Ed. David H. Richter.
Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007. 1637-1642.
Print.

Appendix: What Happened?

Wednesday the 22nd of May 2013: A press conference at which


Dartmouth College, Swarthmore, USC, and UC Berkeley are to
announce their filings of Clery Act and Title IX Complaints accompanied
by Occidental and UNC Chapel Hill, which both have recently filed Title
IX complaints, some filers of which are represented by the selfidentified feminist lawyer Gloria Allred.
A professor from Dartmouth affiliated with the intersectionalityfocused #Realtalk movement (as described in mid-term paper) has
supplied funding for the conference while members of #Realtalk have
collaborated with activists from other schools to organise it. From the
perspective of Dartmouth students, or myself and several others at
least, the plan for the conference is to discuss the cultures of hostility,
violence, and silence at our respective schools, and how our
administrations have failed to intervene in these cultures effectively, if
at all.
On Tuesday afternoon three students from Dartmouth arrive in
New York City. Because identity becomes an important aspect of
politics in this series of events, it is necessary for to describe their
identities as far as I know them. All three identify as queer; one is
Black, another White, another Latino. All three students participated in
recent Dimensions Show protests and have since been receiving rape
and death threats among other harassment from fellow students. Nina
Rojas, specifically, is a Latino transgendered man (to some), half-deaf,

and until recently undocumented. NS is a Black queer woman. ALR is


White and gender-queer (as far as I know). NS and ALR have both
withdrawn from classes, and NS has been diagnosed with PTSD. Among
the others present at the conference, only Andrea Pino identifies as a
person of colour: she identifies as Latina, though she is from Spain.
According to Rojas, in an organising meeting meant to set the agenda
of the conference, Gloria Allred, two professors from Occidental
Caroline Heldman and Danielle Dirks, as well as former UNC
student/current University of Oregon administrator Annie Clark and
UNC student Andrea Pino assert that the press conference will focus
exclusively on sexual assault. At first all three Dartmouth students are
outraged and argue for the need to bring an intersectional approach to
cultures of hostility, including racism, heterosexism, classism, and
transphobia, among other issues. At some point, and for reasons
unknown to me, NS and ALR eventually decide that a focus exclusively
on sexual assault is acceptable. Due to their fragile mental states, I
have not wanted to question NS and ALR about this topic. Rojas, then,
is left to argue alone for the necessity of including other systems of
oppression. Rojas says he is told that saying that racism and
homophobia exist is like saying the sky is blue, and also the there is a
need to focus on sexual assault because sex sells in the words of
Tucker Reed of USC, despite the fact that assault is an act of violence,
not intimacy. Multiple interlocutors raise their voices, including the

professors and Rojas. Apparently some of the White women in the


room fins Rojass shouting triggering, though they do not find anyone
elses shouting triggering. Lawyer Gloria Allred closes the meeting by
asserting that the focus will be exclusively on sexual assault and
asking for everyone who wants to speak to send her statements to look
over. Rojas leaves the meeting feeling silenced, discriminated against,
and afraid. He calls, instant messages, and texts #Realtalk members to
tell them what has happened and try to convince them to come to New
York City to support him personally as well as the intersectional
approach.
Danny Valdes, a Latino transgendered man, also half-deaf, and I,
a white person currently cisgendered-passing and straight-passing,
both members of #Realtalk, drive to New York City on Wednesday,
arriving at around 11:30am. SE, a mixed race straight woman
accompanies us but does not plan on speaking at the conference. Upon
arrival at the hotel where complainants are gathering, NS and ALR fail
to greet me, which seems strange given the fact that we know each
other and are not, as far as I know, on bad terms. I also note that in
this conference room full of white, cis-gendered (or cis-passing), and
straight-passing women, I feel uncomfortable and Im in a room full of
people who look like me. I wonder how my two queer trans Latino
friends feel. I greet NS and ALR and ask them how the conference is
going. They say they do not feel comfortable telling me. A student from

another school whom I have not yet met tells me that people are
writing out their statements in time for the press conference. I thank
her. NS begins crying when Danny arrives. After meeting up with Nina
and confirming that we all feel uncomfortable in the space, Danny,
Nina, and I sit together. Without provocation, professors Caroline
Heldman and Danielle Dirks as well as now-famous Andrea Pino
approach us. Let me repeat that I am white, straight-passing, and cispassing while Danny and Nina both are Latino trans-men.
The three women bend down but maintain a height differential.
They then assert that the entire group has agreed that we are not be
allowed to speak because Nina had been too angry at the prior days
meeting and because we had broken a pact that we would alert no
media to the press conference, despite an email from Allred indicating
otherwise. Due to the silencing and discriminatory events of the
previous day, events that happen to them all the time at Dartmouth,
Danny and Nina quickly become upset, while Heldman, Dirks, and Pino
remain condescending. Soon, though, both sides are shouting at each
other while I stand by, baffled, trying to get people to stop shouting.
These three White cis-gendered women tell these Latino trans-men
that they dont know what it is like to be real victims, that they dont
know what real harassment is like, insinuating that sexual assault is
the only way in which one can be a victim or experience real
harassment and also that neither Danny nor Nina have experienced

sexual assault, which isnt true. Danny and Nina, meanwhile, accuse
the three cis-gendered White women of being homophobic,
transphobic, and racist. The three cis-gendered White women respond
by calling the hotel security and (threatening to?) call the police on the
two Latino trans-men for being too angry.
It is important to note here that I originally was included in the
group to be silenced, but when Danny and Nina are told to leave the
building, I, noting the transphobia and racism at play, assert that I will
stay in the building for a minute, using the privileges of my race and
gender presentation to obtain an explanation. Filming on my phone, I
ask these women what is going on. They explain to me, so
condescendingly such that I feel the need to repeat that Im asking
simply because I dont know, that many things can trigger survivors of
sexual assault and that they dont appreciate the violent words or the
stepping to. As they use this phrase, they imitate the way that Danny
and Nina stand and walk, that is, like men. These women, whether they
know it or not, demonstrate that they felt the need to expel Danny and
Nina from the space and exclude them from speaking or being present
at the conference on the basis of their female
masculinity/transmasculinity (the masculinity of the presumably cisgendered men present they do not find triggering): the way that they
stand, walk, and talk. Furthermore, the threat of calling the police,
especially on a formerly undocumented person, also served to

criminalise these Latino men, a task that the U.S. is be in the process
of legally establishing nationwide due to immigration reform.
After talking with these women for a few minutes, I assert that I
would like to speak in the conference and am allowed. Meanwhile, I am
in communication with Danny and Nina, who are outside the hotel, and
I plan to interrupt my testimony during the conference so as to allow
them to speak and acknowledge the fact that they have been silenced,
excluded, and criminalised. At one point, Allred asserts that we all need
to be together, so I text Danny and Nina telling them to come inside so
that we all can be together. At this point, NSs aunt as well as students
use their bodies to block Danny and Nina from entering the space.
Indeed, NSs aunt shoves Danny with two hands, saying she is
protecting her niece. Hotel security forces Danny and Nina to leave
again.
Eventually, the group of those to be present at the conference
move to the hotel where the conference is to take place. When we
arrive, Danny and Nina are heading upstairs towards the conference
room. Gloria Allred alerts security that they are not welcome.
Meanwhile, somehow the same three women as had cornered me,
Danny, and Nina originally corner me again, saying that they know I
am going to disrupt the conference and that thus I have to join Danny
and Nina outside, not allowed to speak or be present at the
conference. Accessing the same privileges and assumptions afforded

me by my appearance as before, I pretend not to know what they are


talking about, asserting that my statement references transphobia, and
saying that if they counted that as a disruption, then yes I was
planning on disrupting the conference, and saying that they could read
my statement if they liked. After a short conversation, for the second
time they agree to let me speak, though I still plan to invite Danny and
Nina to the stage during my testimony.
Meanwhile Danny and Nina, knowing that time is short and
suspecting that Gloria Allred had called the police (suspecting
because I had told them I had overheard her telling someone she was
about to make the call), decide to go into the press conference room to
read their statements and let the press know that they have been
excluded from the conference. As they do this, progressively more
authoritative security figures come to remove them. Eventually, under
threat of removal by the police, they leave. While this happens, the
group allowed to speak waits in a separate room so as not to be
triggered or traumatised. After the two Latino trans-men leave the
conference under threat of arrest, the group of mostly White women
give their statements. Gloria Allred frames the conference exclusively
in terms of womens sexual assault while only the Dartmouth students
statements address intersectionality. After the conference, the group
asserts that it has gone well. Tweets made by Pino, Heldman, and
others assert that the conference has gone well other than violence

perpetrated by two students. Later, Heldman and NS accuse Rojas of


throwing a chair, and others made general allegations of violence
against both Rojas and Valdes.