Sunday, December 14, 2008

6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Please spread the word far and wide!

6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Candlelit Vigil
850 Bryant St. (Hall of Justice)
San Francisco
5pm, December 17th, 2008

We will process together to a Memorial hosted by Annie Sprinkle
For our sister and brother sex workers lost to violence
6:30pm, Center for Sex and Culture
1519 Mission Street (at 11th)
www.sexandculture. org

Vigil Co-sponsored by St. James Infirmary (stjamesinfirmary. org)
and Sex Workers' Outreach Project (

Bring a Red Umbrella in Solidarity
with Sex Workers & Our Human Rights

Tenderloin Webcams and the Growing Threat of Surveillance Culture in San Francisco

Recently, there has been a buzz in San Francisco about the guy who set up his two video cameras to film a span of Tenderloin street downstairs from his apartment. Complete with microphone to record the audio of "street sounds", Adam Jackson created a website,, which aired the 24 hour live streams of Taylor St. captured from these cameras, as well as message boards where people could discuss what they saw.

Due to the controversy and harassment that Jackson faced as a result, he has since stepped away from this little project, but a fire has been set under Big Brother's ass.

You can read about it here.

So, this white guy moves into the Tenderloin - a neighborhood historically notorious for its seedy reputation and high population of homeless - and decides that he will use his video camera and computer to create a website with the intention of making "his" neighborhood quieter and safer. He, and all the other self-appointed "guardians of the streets", use the footage to narc on other people in the neighborhood with a self-righteous vengeance.

This strategy of neighborhood watch is dangerously divisive (not to mention rude and invasive), especially in a volatile neighborhood such as the Tenderloin, where poverty and crime are magnified due to a more visible presence of poor people on the streets. The fact that the police are in support of Adam Jackson and his idea should be of great concern to anyone who is against the invasive techniques of surveillance culture.

The conditions of the Tenderloin itself are a striking testimony to the oppressive, ineffective ways that many urban cities deals with issues rooted in poverty, such as homelessness, substance use, and sex work. Similar to the situation I observed in Skid Row when I lived in downtown Los Angeles, the Tenderloin is where San Francisco's
'undesirables' are given just a little bit more wiggle room to get away with certain crimes of survival. It is the city's way of keeping above-ground poverty in a more centralized location, so that the rest of the city (the nicer neighborhoods) will be less burdened with its eye-sore. It is a consequence of criminalizing and perpetuating poverty, and only addressing the needs of the poor through band-aid, quick-fix legislations while funding for vital social services continue to get hacked.

The arguments in support of these neighborhood cameras are the same arguments that our government uses to justify this war on terror. And even if this surveillance system is initially in the hands of independent citizens, you can bet that the city, state, even federal government, will unfailingly stick its dirty paws into it when they decide the time is right.

According to the article in the SF Gate, "Jackson said at least three other sites have sprung up independently, and there has been interest in linking all of them together through It is possible that neighborhoods all over the city will have 24-hour cameras. That was Jackson's idea all along."

With the continued demonization of homeless people, "thugs" (which, to white people, often translates to: black or brown person wearing baggy pants and a hoodie. and if there's more than one of them walking together at night, you can bet this white person is about to shit themselves), sex workers, people who buy/sell/use substances, etc., the privilege of using and accessing surveillance cameras in the Tenderloin will only increase the race and class divide. The possibility of 24 hour cameras in neighborhoods all over the city hits too close to Orwellian to bode well.

Since Jackson stepped back and was taken down, this url now takes you to what may soon be Their goal is to serve as the hub for a global network of neighborhood watch webcams, stating, "We are running this in an effort to make a difference in the world." I will leave you with a disturbing excerpt from its message boards:

11:45 jen__luv: I am sorry to hear about everthing you went through.People are pathetic.
3:42 towahead: keep in going and the losers off the streets
3:45 towahead: why did you wimp out dudet
3:46 towahead: too many losers of color on there


Monday, December 8, 2008

Tools for White Guys Working for Social Change (and other people socialized in a society based on domination)

Here is one more reading where Chris Crass outlines some practical strategies for minimizing everyday patterns of domination. And while these exercises are especially important for white guys, these are useful practices we all can utilize in our daily lives towards undermining hierarchies of domination which create and perpetuate cycles of oppression!

And yes, I've been both busy and lazy lately, hence the cutnpaste posts of late. This is the last one of these for now though, so expect less lists, and more rambling ranting coming soon!


1. Practice noticing who's in the room at meetings - how many men, how many women, how many white people, how many people of color, is it majority heterosexual, are there out queers, what are people's class backgrounds. Don't assume to know people, but also work at being more aware.

2a. Count how many times you speak and keep track of how long you speak.
2b. Count how many times other people speak and keep track of how long they speak.

3. Be conscious of how often you are actively listening to what other people are saying as opposed to just waiting your turn and/or thinking about what you'll say next.

4. Practice going to meetings focused on listening and learning; go to some meetings and do not speak at all.

5a. Count how many times you put ideas out to the group.
5b. Count how many times you support other people's ideas for the group.

6. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and get more in-depth, before you decide to support the idea or not.

7a. Think about whose work and contribution to the group gets recognized.
7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to do it more often.

8. Practice asking more people what they think about meetings, ideas, actions, strategy and vision. White guys tend to talk amongst themselves and develop strong bonds that manifest in organizing. This creates an internal organizing culture that is alienating for most people. Developing respect and solidarity across race, class, gender and sexuality is complex and difficult, but absolutely critical - and liberating.

9. Be aware of how often you ask people to do something as opposed to asking other people "what needs to be done".

10. Think about and struggle with the saying, "you will be needed in the movement when you realize that you are not needed in the movement".

11. Struggle with and work with the model of group leadership that says that the responsibility of leaders is to help develop more leaders, and think about what this means to you.

12. Remember that social change is a process, and that our individual transformation and individual liberation is intimately interconnected with social transformation and social liberation. Life is profoundly complex and there are many contradictions. Remember that the path we travel is guided by love, dignity and respect - even when it is bumpy and difficult to navigate.

13. This list is not limited to white guys, nor is it intended to reduce all white guys into one category. This list is intended to disrupt patterns of domination which hurt our movement and hurt each other. White guys have a lot of work to do, but it is the kind of work that makes life worth living.

14. Day-to-day patterns of domination are the glue that maintain systems of domination. The struggle against capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and the state, is also the struggle towards collective liberation.

15. No one is free until all of us are free.

Thanks and love to my comrades in the Bay Area gender privileged men's group of the Ruckus Society and the men's group (biological and transgendered men) of the Challenging White Supremacy Collective.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Intersex List of Demands

Here is one of two separate lists that some gender variant folks developed in Atlanta. It was initially written because they found other lists in regards to sexism to be good, but incomplete and lacking in experiences of gender variant individuals.

* Don't assume you know someone's sex based on how you perceive them or their gender.

* Don't assume all women have a vagina, uterus, etc.

* Don't assume all men have a penis, testes, etc.

* Don't fetishize our bodies.

* Don't use the word hermaphrodite to describe us unless we identify that way and give permission.

* Don't feel sorry for us.

* Respect our sex identification.

* Don't exploit our existence to discredit biological determinism or other academic ideologies.

* Know the difference between sex and gender.

* Know the difference between intersexed and transgendered.

* Don't ask us or try to picture what our genitals look like.

* Don't ask us if we have sexual sensations.

* Don't assume you have the right to know intimate details of our bodies. We have the right to privacy and safety like all other people.

* Realize we have historically been mutilated, fetishized, and made into freak shows. Understand how this affects us and our safety.

* Don't say "cool" or "weird" or treat us differently when we tell you we are intersexed.

* Educate yourself!!! Read books on intersex.

* Girl, woman, female; boy, man, male are not always interchangeable.

* Don't assume all intersex people are queer.

* Realize that not all people with intersex condition are out.

* Realize that not all people with intersex conditions even know that they are intersexed.

* Remember that we are 1 in 100, and that is not rare at all!!!

* Don't call our conditions "disorders," "retardations," "abnormalities," etc.

* Realize that bodies come in all different shapes, sizes and with different parts.

* Realize how fucking strong we are to speak up about the medical abuse and victimization we have been through and that we deserve mad props.

* Don't write us off as rare and unimportant. Don't put off educating yourself for other "more important" issues.

* In situations such as gender caucuses, keep in mind that not all the people who identify as women have similar genitalia, etc. Understand that we have been taught that our bodies are "wrong" and "ugly" and that it reinforces this when people say they love being women because of their vagina, uterus, etc., this reinforces those feelings. Woman does not necessarily = female. Man does not necessarily = male.

April, 2004

Monday, December 1, 2008

How To Be A Good Trans/Gender Ally - A List

Here is one of two separate lists that some gender variant folks developed in Atlanta. It was initially written because they found other lists in regards to sexism to be good, but incomplete and lacking in experiences of gender variant individuals.

This "list of demands" for good trans allys are lacking in MTF voices. This list comes out of their community [of mostly FTMs]. I have edited some of the list, and added a few points of my own as well. The list is far from complete, but is a good starting point for further discussions around these issues.

Stay tuned for "How to Be A Good Intersex Ally", and enjoy!


* Don't assume someone's gender identity.

* Don't constantly reference someone's gender identity in an attempt to seem OK with it. Likewise, don't think we care if you're OK with us or not. No one asked for your approval.

* Don't trip up on pronouns - if you fuck up, simply correct yourself and go on.

* Don't glamorize someone's gender identity or think it's "cool" or say that you're "into it."

* Read trans/gender theory. Know the difference between: transgender, transsexual, gender fucking, gender blending/bending, gender vs. sex, binary gender, passing, transitioning, binding, tucking, packing/stuffing, third genders, drag queens/kings, androgyny, butch, femme, crossdressing, boi, MtF, FtM, tranny boys, tranny dykes, boydykes, transfags, etc., etc., etc.!!!

* Know the difference between intersex and transgender. Think about how you would really feel if someone you loved transitioned. Think about your fears and why you have them.

* Recognize your own transphobia.

* Familiarize yourself with the processes of transitioning and surgery and hormones.

* Don't just name yourself a "trans ally" one day.

* Realize that some of us have struggled with our gender identity for a long time. Don't think that we just woke up one day and decided that we would identify as transgendered. So when we finally find a space that we're comfortable in (even if temporarily), don't co-opt that space or try to make it yours too

* Even if you think fucking with gender is hot, don't talk about it in an objectifying way.

* Realize that it can be hard existing in in-between spaces and really know that trans oppression and transphobia exist. Think about the fear of not being able to determine when you pass, the fear of being arrested/strip searched/thrown in the wrong holding cell, the threat of violence, the annoyance of having to "come out" about your gender identity constantly, etc.

* Recognize and understand the privilege of feeling at home in your body, using a public bathroom, knowing which M/F box to check, having people assume your gender identity and them being right, etc.

* Realize that there is a gender community and that the validation we receive from that community can be incomparable to what you could ever offer us, and let us seek refuge there.

* Recognize how class and race fit into these equations.

* Recognize and respect someone's gender identity regardless of whether or not they choose to have surgery or take hormones. Similarly, don't judge someone for transitioning or not wanting to identify as "transgendered."

* Don't assume that a person's transgender identity is "political."

* Don't partner with us out of some weird transitioning or coming out process for you.

* Don't ask us how we fuck.

* Question your own gender! (But don't then tell me, "You know, I've never felt like a 'real man'/'real woman' either." What this means is - don't assume our experiences are the same.

* Don't ask questions about someone to try to determine their "real gender."

* Don't think that FtM are dealing with some kind of internalized sexism.

* Don't assume our gender identity, render it invisible, or think it doesn't matter because of who we choose to partner with.

* Don't label our gender or sexual identity for us. Recognize the difference between the two!

* Don't think of our experiences and identities as monolithic.

* Don't think we are a "recent emergence" that somehow came out of gender/queer theory and academia.

* Realize that there are a variety of trans/gender expressions. Don't assume that people should express their gender similarly just because they both identify as transgendered. Likewise, don't judge someone because you think that their trans identity and gender expression conflict.

* Think about the language you use to differentiate between trans and non-trans people and if it's even necessary to differentiate.

* Don't assume trans people have a "shared experience" with people assigned the same gender.

* Don't assume FtMs are "better" than other men, or MtFs are not "as good" as other women (especially in terms of sexism).

* When doing introductions at a meeting, say the pronoun you prefer for that space along with your name, etc. (Facilitators should make sure this is done.)

* Be sensitive to pronouns you use for someone when dealing with authority, police. Keep in mind that people's pronouns/gender identity may not always match up with their I.D.

* Don't include us in your process of learning about intersex or trans issues unless we ask you about it.

* Take it upon yourself to educate yourself about issues relevant to the experiences of gender variant individuals, and don't assume that everyone's experiences are reflected in what you've read either.

* Take it easy on yourself - yes, there's a lot to know, so take it one step at a time, and don't get discouraged if you fuck up. We all make mistakes, but learn from them, and keep moving forward.

April, 2004