Category Archives: transphobia

Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum

decolonizing-genderDecolonizing Gender: A Curriculum is a free zine created by Malcolm Shanks and khari jackson for their “decolonizing gender: a curriculum” workshop. they created this zine so that anyone who’s interested can have the tools and resources they need to facilitate their own workshop on decolonizing gender whenever and wherever they wanted to! yay for accessible knowledge for all! there are also excerpts from khari’s free comic book “my gender is My Gender”. full free pdf as well as information on how to purchase copies and/or donate can be found at jkharij.com/mgmg

Update: Help Malcolm get to Decolonial Summer School in Barcelona!

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Indigenist Intersectionality: Decolonizing an Indigenous Eco-Queer Feminism and Anarchism

Institute for Anarchist Studies

This essay appears in the current anarcha-feminisms issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory (N. 29), available here from AK Press!  Laura received an Institute for Anarchist Studies writing grant to complete this piece. 

The violence enacted against Indigenous women and Two-Spirit/LGBTQ people evokes deep questions about the intent and impact of colonization in a Canadian settler and state context. The horrors of colonial violence—bodies were violated and abandoned at the sides of highways, in ditches, in rivers—tell stories of the vital importance of Indigenous women’s leadership, their warriorhood, their gifts and their medicines, and also of the centrality of gendered freedom and fluid belonging in Indigenous cultures. It is a system of colonization that seeks to erase and subsume these realities and to replace Indigenous truth with illusions of our weakness. We are at a pivotal moment now as state and settler voices seek to understand what is…

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Call For Submissions: Gender, Sexuality & Decolonization

Image via 2spirits.comDecolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society invites submissions from scholars, artists, and activists for a new special issue of the journal exploring gender, sexuality and decolonization, guest edited by Karyn Recollet (University of Toronto), in conjunction with Eric Ritskes, Editor of Decolonization. This issue invites us to consider both the centrality of gender and sexual violence to colonization, but also, relatedly, the centrality of gender and sexual justice to decolonization. Too often these issues have been seen as peripheral to the larger struggles against colonialism, too often cis-heteropatriarchal normativity has been justified in the name of decolonization. This has to stop. To us, it seems impossible to discuss Indigenous sovereignty without a discussion of body sovereignty. It seems impossible to discuss environmental justice without connecting the violence against the earth to the violences against our bodies, particularly the bodies of women, Two Spirit, queer, transgender and others who fall beyond and in resistance to the male cis-heteropatriarchal norms of colonial society. Not only do these bodies bear the brunt of colonial violence, they also embody, create and sustain the theories, movements, and creative actions that resist it. Decolonization is impossible without gender and sexual justice as articulated by women, Two Spirit, queer, transgender and others who fall beyond and in resistance to male cis-heteropatriarchal norms. These are the experiences and voices that this issue seeks to center and honor in seeking ways forward for decolonization. As always, we are interested in papers that connect theoretical discussions with active decolonization work by engaging the intersections of theory and practice. This issue invites contributors to consider the following questions and themes that, while far from exhaustive, are at the forefront of our thinking for this issue:

  • How is colonial violence predicated on and enacted through cis-heteropatriarchal gender norms and understandings of sexuality? How are these forms of violence complicated by race, age, location, and space? As colonial violence is enacted on bodies, how is resistance and decolonization also embodied?
  • What does decolonial love look like? What is the role of decolonial love in resistance and resurgence? What is the role of hope, of envisioning future modes of relationship that both transcend and reconstruct the present? Relatedly, thinking of Audre Lorde’s uses of the erotic, and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network’s (NYSHN) use of the term “Resistance is Sexy”, what role does the erotic have in resistance? How are decolonial understandings of what is sexy or erotic reconstituted through resistance and struggle?
  • How are the experiences of Two Spirit, transgender, queer and others who fall beyond and in resistance to the male cis-heteropatriarchal norms of colonial society central in engaging and generating a politics of refusal, particularly refusal of the settler colonial state and its definitional power? How, through this refusal, are we generating spatial (de/re)orientations of decolonial love, reconstructing and remapping the spaces where gender and sexual justice might happen outside and at the margins of the state, as part of a trajectory against and beyond the state?
  • How do we pull back or unlayer the colonial violences that hyper- or de-sexualize Indigenous, Black and peoples of color, by renaming where we find beauty in our communities and our selves on our own terms?
  • What are the creative practices in which Indigenous, Black and other non-White feminisms intervene into cis-heteropatriarchy, coloniality, and other related systems of oppression? What vocabularies of feminism are being (re)imagined and (re)generated, what practices being created, in these communities to combat colonialism and create solidarity against colonial patriarchy and white supremacy along the lines of gender and sexuality?
  • What are Indigenous and other traditions of gender and sexual justice? How has the ‘traditional’ been mobilized in ways that further, and are complicit in, colonial cis-heteropatriarchal violences? How might tradition and traditional practices be re-conceptualized, re-generated, or re-understood through gender and sexual justice paradigms?
  • How are youth, as well as other gender and sexual justice advocates, mobilizing in new ways, utilizing new tools, and establishing new forums for decolonizing practices? What generative critiques are being encoded into and through these new tools; for example, in and through digital territories? How might intergenerational dialogues be created to further the decolonization of gender and sexual justice?
  • Often anticolonial violence has been theorized and enacted within cis-heteropatriarchal norms, enacting problematic tropes of the soldier, the warrior, or the revolutionary that are rooted in gender violences. How have women, Two Spirit, transgender, queer and others who fall beyond and in resistance to cis-heteropatriarchal norms been silenced and marginalized in anticolonial and decolonization movements through these tropes? How might decolonization (and conceptions of anticolonial violence) be reconceptualized or reimagined within feminist, queer, transgender, Two Spirit, or other paradigms?

Contributions are to be submitted at www.decolonization.org no later than March 16, 2015. This issue is scheduled for release in Fall 2015. Articles should follow our journal style guidelines, which can be found here. Scholarly articles are subject to a double-blind peer review and details can be found here. Submitted contributions may also include short non-peer-reviewed papers and commentary, visual art, audio, video, poetry or interviews. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at editors@decolonization.org

Indigenous Peoples: Language Revitalization & Gender Identity

More posts tagged From Kwe Today: fierce indigenous feminism

At the core of European legal thought is sustaining binaries such as the colonizer v. the colonized, the conqueror v. the conquered, the civilized v. the savage, or the male v. the female. During her lecture on systemic violence at Concordia University, Andrea Smith explains how colonialism legitimized gender violence through the installation of patriarchy, a male system of domination over females (Smith, 2011). Smith (2011) states:

Of course, patriarchy is built on a gender binary system. You can’t have patriarchy unless you have two genders, one that dominates another gender. So consequently, in many Native communities that were not built on a gender binary system, those who did not fit that system were often targeted for destruction as well (at approximately 2:05).

Patriarchy in Native communities was essential to create a hierarchy “so that colonial domination would seem natural” (Smith, 2011, 2:13). Many North American Indigenous communities were matriarchal, which is in direct opposition to patriarchy and colonialism (Smith, 1999). The ways in which patriarchy furthered the expansion of colonialism occurred through sexual violence, the forced removal of children from their homes to residential schools, and the annihilation of Indigenous languages and cultures (McGeough, 2008). For Indigenous peoples, the loss of language translates to a loss of connection to their culture and other systems of being.

In Medicine Bundle of Contradictions, an essay authored by Lous Esme Cruz (2011), the limitations of the English language are examined in relation to Indigenous identities and gender identities. Cruz (2011) writes, “English is a very limited language that doesn’t give very many options for explaining gender expression and roles” (p. 54). Frantz Fanon (2004) in his work entitled Wretched of the Earth defines colonialism as the “entire conquest of land and people” (p. 14). Indigenous peoples were colonized through the loss of their land and languages and through—the less often talked about—the loss of important gender roles within their culture. Cruz states further, “gender is not a culture, it is a role within culture” (p. 55). Sometimes erased from this discussion of colonialism and loss of culture for Indigenous peoples is the loss of gender roles that exists outside the Western gender binary, male/female. For this paper, I will explore the connection between loss of language and colonialism and how the loss of language impacts gender identities in Indigenous populations. This paper will contribute to the larger discussion of gender identity, how both Western concepts and the English language is restrictive for gender roles and expressions, and the importance of language revitalization for Indigenous peoples.

Click here to read the entire article on Kwe Today

Indigenous Women and Two-Spirited People: Our Work is Decolonization!

“Be a Good Girl” (2006 woodcut print, courtesy of the Collection of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada) is a reflection on the gendered work expectations and training of women in the 1950s. I have explored this topic by looking at Indian residential schools, and the ways in which young Native women were trained in an effort to transform them into good working-class wives and workers. The Indian residential school system had a half-day labour program for girls, which was abolished in 1952 out of concern that children were not receiving an education, but were only serving the financial needs of the school. Residential schools forbade Native children from speaking their languages or practicing their culture in an attempt to mold them, for their “salvation,” into productive members of white, capitalist society. The residential schools were part of a dark history of racism and genocide in Canada and continue to have negative effects. This sort of gendered work training, however, was not reserved for the assimilation of Natives; training schools like the Ontario Training School for Girls rehabilitated young women with “loose” morals and other traits that were not tolerated in the ’50s. Both white working class and Native girls attended these training schools. This piece is about the conflicts, spiritual paradoxes, and societal expectations of young women in the ’50s.  Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation, is an artist and designer based in Vancouver. Through her art and design she hopes to communicate the stories and voices we are unable to hear—the voices that are missing and erased from our histories and realities.

“Be a Good Girl” by Tania Willard

By Chelsea Vowel, GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine

Indigenous women and two-spirited* people are leading a resurgence movement in iyiniwi-ministik, the People’s Island.* They draw on their traditional roles as protectors of the land and water to inform their work in our communities, and root themselves in their specific socio-political orders to counter colonialism and to revitalize language and culture. Rather than being defined as a struggle against patriarchal gender roles and the division of labour, Indigenous women and two-spirited people’s work combats the imposition of colonial barriers. The goal is not to attain gender equality, but rather to restore Indigenous nationhood, which includes gender equality and respect for gender fluidity.

As I write this I can hear Khelsilem Rivers (Skwxwú7mesh-Kwakwaka‘wakw), a community organizer from Vancouver, pointing out that not all Indigenous peoples have the same traditions, and that to avoid perpetuating Pan-Indian stereotypes, we need to have honest discussions about the diversity of our traditions. This is an important point indeed, as not all Indigenous nations have the same traditions with respect to the fluidity of gender roles. Romanticizing ourselves as a collective unfortunately plays into “noble savage” stereotypes and does damage in the long run. With so many Indigenous people disconnected from their specific traditions, even so-called positive stereotypes are a form of continuing erasure.

Even among nations with traditional binary gender roles or hierarchical socio-political orders, there is nothing that can accurately compare to the system of patriarchy imposed by colonialism which mainstream Settler feminism aligns itself against. Our internal struggles with traditional roles are not analogous to the issues that Settler peoples have with their traditions, and so using western liberal theory to deconstruct them is inherently incongruous.

Indigenous traditions are not frozen in time any more than other people’s traditions are. Our peoples have been trading more than goods for thousands of years, passing along ceremonies, medicines, and ideas just as easily as copper and fish. We are capable of change and have no reason not to embrace it, as long as that change respects our reciprocal obligations to one another and to the territories in which we live. We do not need to look to western liberal notions of individual equality, which so often ignore our communal existence and insist that land and resources must be thought of as property. Instead, we can look to the laws of our Indigenous neighbours if we need to review our traditions. It is precisely this approach that is being taken up by many women and two-spirited individuals in Indigenous communities as they pursue sexual health, revitalization of language and culture, and renewal of relationships with the land.

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Decolonizing women’s history

Max Dashu on recovering women’s history

Click here to listen or download [mp3]

Why does women’s history matter? It seems like a simple answer — because we’re here, we’ve contributed and we’re human. But there’s more. Max Dashu has dedicated her life’s work to recovering the truth about women’s and indigenous histories — truths that have been omitted and erased from history books and misrepresented by the men who wrote those books. Without that history we don’t know how we came to be in this colonialist, patriarchal system and we don t know that there is a potential for something different. The saying, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” is an ominous warning — patriarchy didn’t occur out of thin air, it was part of a process wherein women’s positions of power were eroded and women were systematically silenced and oppressed, often through violence.

March is Women’s History Month in the United States and March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves that, despite all the work that’s been done, there is more to do. The history of colonialism, patriarchy, indigenous cultures, and women reminds us that the systems of power we know now have not always been there and need not always be.

Dashu is an artist and an educator who has presented hundreds of slide talks at universities, community centers, bookstores, schools, libraries, prisons, galleries, festivals and conferences around North America and in Mexico, Germany, Ireland, Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Australia. She is known for her expertise on ancient female iconography in world archaeology, goddess traditions, women shamans, witches and the witch hunts.

Dashu founded The Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research and document women’s history from an international perspective.

To support Dashu’s work, you can donate to her indiegogo campaign.

Call for Translations

Unsettling America is calling for pro bono translators to translate texts and articles from this website into other languages. We’ve been motivated to put out this call by someone who made just such an offer, via email:

Dear Unsettling America,

I have been moved by the excellent articles on your blog. I’ve only just begun to delve into them.

As an avid speaker of Brazilian Portuguese, and with the knowledge that many of our radical colleagues in Portugal, Brazil, and the other lusophonic countries of the world are engaging in the same struggles as we are, it occurred to me recently that translating valuable work such as yours could help us build greater solidarity with the Global South, as well as spread the word about decolonization, anti-racism, etc.

With that said, I would like to offer to begin pro bono translation of the articles on your blog. Is that something that might interest you all?

Please let me know. Keep up the terrific work.

Many thanks, warmly, and in solidarity,
XXXXX

Thus, we are putting out an open call for anyone who would like to do the same, into any language, particularly indigenous tongues and languages of the so-called “Third World”. We should also note that in doing so, you will also be doing a great service of mutual aid to the authors and sources from which we republish.

If you’re interested, please contact us at unsettlingamerica [at] riseup [dot] net

Thank you!

Unsettling Resistance: Call for Submission Proposals

Unsettling Resistance: Anti-Authoritarian Experiments in Settler Decolonization

A book of lessons learned, wisdom gained, and practical strategies from those non-indigenous anti-authoritarian activists engaged in the struggle for decolonization.

From Unsettling Resistance:

This is a call-out to you and your friends doing solidarity work and resistance, smashing colonialism, and living healthy relationships to lands and peoples. We are editing a book, for publication with an independent publisher such as AK press, that will be a compilation of lessons learned, wisdom gained, and practical strategies from those non-indigenous anti-authoritarian activists engaged in the struggle for decolonization.

Indigenous people on Turtle Island (the area known as North America) have been resisting colonialism for over 500 years.  In recent years there has been more widespread support of this struggle by non-indigenous settlers than ever before. In the past year Idle No More has brought decolonization into the dominant consciousness leading to wider discussions and an increasing presence of protest, direct action, and mass mobilizations.

Indigenous-settler collaboration on decolonizing actions is not new. For many years non-indigenous activists and organizers labeled as “radical”, “anarchist”, or “anti-authoritarian” have been engaged in these struggles both on the front lines and supporting from behind. Some of us settlers have only now realized our responsibility in challenging colonialism and ourselves. Regardless of whether you have been working for years in solidarity or are just beginning to put anti-colonialism into practice many complex challenges come up when attempting to work in solidarity with Indigenous communities. It is integral that we learn from our mistakes and our successes. This book aims to look specifically to those who are doing, acting and creating.

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The Problem with “Privilege”

Related reading: "Privilege Politics is Reformism" -  A critique of privilege politics, which the author sees as a demobilizing force that boils down issues of oppression into what happens between individuals.By Andrea Smith

For a much longer and detailed version, see my essay in the book Geographies of Privilege

In my experience working with a multitude of anti-racist organizing projects over the years, I frequently found myself participating in various workshops in which participants were asked to reflect on their gender/race/sexuality/class/etc. privilege.  These workshops had a bit of a self-help orientation to them: “I am so and so, and I have x privilege.”  It was never quite clear what the point of these confessions were.  It was not as if other participants did not know the confessor in question had her/his proclaimed privilege.   It did not appear that these individual confessions actually led to any political projects to dismantle the structures of domination that enabled their privilege.  Rather, the confessions became the political project themselves.    The benefits of these confessions seemed to be ephemeral.  For the instant the confession took place, those who do not have that privilege in daily life would have a temporary position of power as the hearer of the confession who could grant absolution and forgiveness.  The sayer of the confession could then be granted temporary forgiveness for her/his abuses of power and relief from white/male/heterosexual/etc guilt.   Because of the perceived benefits of this ritual, there was generally little critique of the fact that in the end, it primarily served to reinstantiate the structures of domination it was supposed to resist.  One of the reasons there was little critique of this practice is that it bestowed cultural capital to those who seemed to be the “most oppressed.”  Those who had little privilege did not have to confess and were in the position to be the judge of those who did have privilege.  Consequently, people aspired to be oppressed.  Inevitably, those with more privilege would develop new heretofore unknown forms of oppression from which they suffered.  “I may be white, but my best friend was a person of color, which caused me to be oppressed when we played together.”  Consequently, the goal became not to actually end oppression but to be as oppressed as possible.  These rituals often substituted confession for political movement-building.  And despite the cultural capital that was, at least temporarily, bestowed to those who seemed to be the most oppressed, these rituals ultimately reinstantiated the white majority subject as the subject capable of self-reflexivity and the colonized/racialized subject as the occasion for self-reflexivity.

These rituals around self-reflexivity in the academy and in activist circles are not without merit.   They are informed by key insights into how the logics of domination that structure the world also constitute who we are as subjects.    Political projects of transformation necessarily involve a fundamental reconstitution of ourselves as well.  However, for this process to work, individual transformation must occur concurrently with social and political transformation.   That is, the undoing of privilege occurs not by individuals confessing their privileges or trying to think themselves into a new subject position, but through the creation of collective structures that dismantle the systems that enable these privileges.  The activist genealogies that produced this response to racism and settler colonialism were not initially focused on racism as a problem of individual prejudice.  Rather, the purpose was for individuals to recognize how they were shaped by structural forms of oppression.  However, the response to structural racism became an individual one – individual confession at the expense of collective action.  Thus the question becomes, how would one collectivize individual transformation?   Many organizing projects attempt and have attempted to do precisely this, such Sisters in Action for Power, Sista II Sista, Incite!  Women of Color Against Violence, and Communities Against Rape and Abuse, among many others.  Rather than focus simply on one’s individual privilege, they address privilege on an organizational level.  For instance, they might assess – is everyone who is invited to speak a college graduate?  Are certain peoples always in the limelight?  Based on this assessment, they develop structures to address how privilege is exercised collectively.   For instance, anytime a person with a college degree is invited to speak, they bring with them a co-speaker who does not have that education level.  They might develop mentoring and skills-sharing programs within the group.  To quote one of my activist mentors, Judy Vaughn, “You don’t think your way into a different way of acting; you act your way into a different way of thinking.”  Essentially, the current social structure conditions us to exercise what privileges we may have.  If we want to undermine those privileges, we must change the structures within which we live so that we become different peoples in the process.

This essay will explore the structuring logics of the politics of privilege.  In particular, the logics of privilege rest on an individualized self that relies on the raw material of other beings to constitute itself.   Although the confessing of privilege is understood to be an anti-racist practice, it is ultimately a project premised on white supremacy.   Thus, organizing and intellectual projects that are questioning these politics of privilege are shifting the question from what privileges does a particular subject have to what is the nature of the subject that claims to have privilege in the first place.

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Transformative Decolonization

Vi An's webpage - check it out!Immigrant Perspectives on Gendered Worldviews and Indigenous Art

By Vi An Diep and Matt Hanson

“How do you mobilize people who fear change, who fear shifting the status quo, and how do you suggest to them that as a minority they can win?”

—Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies

Transformative art is rule-breaking art, all the more so when addressing the obsolete norms, values and laws hindering Indigenous rights and Decolonizing Gender. For the purposes herein, Decolonizing Gender is defined as the process of removing of all stigmas placed on gender roles by society, religion, and popular culture. For example, transforming the normative model of gender as a binary (i.e. male and female) is about transcending the concept that all outsider gender identities are freakish. A self-identified gendered person, here defined as a transgender-identified individual, is a person born of one gender, who eventually identifies with the opposite gender.

Decolonizing Gender is also a process that recognizes the ongoing history of colonization in relation to gender, whereby colonization is a defined, foremost, as a process of assimilation. Thereby, Decolonizing Gender recognizes the traumas of assimilation and offers an opportunity to self-educate and overcome through active participation in social justice. Decolonizing Gender affirms human identity as fluid, with regard to individual self-expression.

Indigenous cultures have a legacy recognizing two-spirit, or gendered identities. Settler (un)civilization is marred by an implacable lack of capacity to harmonize socio-economics with ecological sustainability. Nowhere is this dysfunctional relationship more revealing than in inter-social conflicts between dominant hetero-normative and settler cultures with Gendered and Indigenous ways of knowing, being and relating.

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