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volume 19 | issue 1 fall 2014

common ground 3

l e t t e r s,


d e c a d e s ,


2014-15 INTERNS & STAFF pages 3-8

celebrating! FIND OUT WHAT WE’RE


university of california san diego cross-cultural center


c o m m u n i t y







meet the staff


intern bios










INDEX edwina welch




Open in 1995 this May the Cross-Cultural Center will celebrate our 20th anniversary. The above quote symbolizes the spirit and work of the Center over these past years. The quote is particularly poignant and relevant to me since I have been humbled to be a part of 19 of these 20 years as the Director of the Center and the moments and memories of being on common ground are many.

Looking through 20 years of ‘zines, photos, articles, papers, organization T-shirts reminds me of the time we, as community, have shared and makes me excited for the growth we are able to create together. The words above echo with the same richness as when Jon first wrote them 18 years ago. Thank you to everyone who has worked tirelessly to build community in the Center and to those who have come, gone, and those to come. We do indeed stand On Common Ground. Look out for 20 year events and activities!


I remember being on common ground with community after the Koala paper published racist, sexist, and homophobic attacks against student leaders and the community. I remember being on common ground after the countless rallies for access, retention, tuition, and national stories pushed us all to speak up and be visible. I remember being on common ground when national speakers came to campus and reminded us that social justice work is messy and worth fighting for. And I remember being on common ground when we heard the news of our dear, intern, sister; Joy’s passing away, one of many in our community taken from us too soon.


We exist in relation to one another in this space of shared differences and commonalities’. In our efforts to build community, we gather, on common ground- to break barriers, challenge ideas, to affirm experiences and to empower ourselves. Our lives, together with the words and images we leave behind allow us to relate and remember” (Jon Salunga, Newsletter/Publicity Intern 199798)




o Nancy MagPrpuogsa ms ra Educational

Excerpt from Closed Encounters of Cultural Center is what draws me in the CCC Kind: and reminds me of living with purpose. What the Cross-Cultural Center "You've been there a long time, you means to me - conscious growth. must really like it there," "You have to Growth in being vulnerable, sharing leave [this place] to grow," "You're still that vulnerability; facing fears by there," I think my longevity at the myself and in community; knowing CCC leads to the common percep- when letting go of something, of tion that I've grown quite comfort- someone, of some place is more freeable where I'm at or that I'm averse to ing, generative, and serves a higher, risk. I'm consciously picky about the healthy purpose. Trusting intuition quality of my work environment and that staying in a situation, in a relathe value of a supportive workplace tionship, or staying in some place is extremely valuable to me. I know I simply serves a high good for self and have it good here. My response is for that nexus of community folk. I that yes, this CCC space, this nexus, say with certainty that my investcan be quite comfortable and affirm- ment and time here has been worth ing, AND a space of unease and the return. It's in these stories of unrest, at once. Engaging in the ease what the CCC has meant for others! and in the tension that is the Cross-

I have worked in the Cross-Cultural Center for almost 9 years. There are only a few places where I feel the most comfortable, at home, and where I can be my whole self. The CCC is one of those few places. The staff are my family. It’s nice to work in a place where I can get paid to be passionate about the things that matter to me the most. My favorite aspect of the CCC, in particular within my job responsibilities, is coordinating and managing the internship program. I feel honored year after to year to meet such amazing people who also share my passion for social justice. I am always so impressed with the work that they continue to do after their UCSD experience. I’m very excited to hear intern alumni stories and learn about where they are now at our 20th Anniversary.

Violeta Gonzales assistant director


Rebekah Harrold Financial Analyst

Cathy ‘Cat’ Thompson CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services)

Jamez Ahmad

operations & marketing

which it has helped cultivate community, develop leadership, and empower individuals with the intent to continue to provide these services and more for the next twenty years to come (and then some)! The Cross-Cultural Center has shaped many people I hold dear in my heart and for that, has permanently transformed my life.


mission to serve underrepresented communities on campus. As a full time staff member I am able to help provide for the community as a whole and help mentor and shelter the students that seek out the CrossCultural Center for a magnitude of reasons. The Cross-Cultural Center is one of those rare places in the world that truly strives to work towards engaging intersectional identities on a daily basis in the hopes of implementing social change. Through the philosophy of the Cross-Cultural Center, I have found the means to give back to those who make it their mission to protect, nurture, and defend the community. Now in its twentieth year the Cross-Cultural Center is looking back at the way in


I am Jamez Ahmad and I am the current Operations and Marketing Coordinator for the Cross-Cultural Center. I am also an alumnus of UC San Diego’s John Muir College. I studied history and minored in film studies as an undergraduate student. I first entered the space many years ago and found it to be a wonderful and welcoming place for community members, so much that I ended up returning years later! The CrossCultural Center means a great deal to me particularly because of the work done in the space and by the people who call the space their home, but also because of the kind of impact I am able to have on the space itself. The Cross-Cultural Center represents a plethora of ideals and goals with the


Joseph RamireZ

a director of a Center in the future that addressed social justice issues. I remember laughing at her and saying that it will never happen. During my 3rd year in college, I was given the opportunity to become the Campus Community Center Intern through the Chancellor Undergraduate Diversity Leadership Institute (CUDLI) and became an intern for the CCC during my 4th year. She guided me and my peers in establishing SPACES – the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service – during my 5th year and later gave me the opportunity to be a staff of the CCC where I have been for nearly 7 years.


the importance of going to college. Majority of my class were 1st generation, low-income, immigrant, and/or military dependent students coming to a university for the first time. Since middle school, I have connected with the CCC in all the high school conferences and outreach programs I have attended that were coordinated by the SAAC organizations (Kaibigang Pilipino, Asian & Pacific Islander Student Alliance, African American Student Union – now Black Student Union, and MEChA). I participated in the very first Overnight Program and Summer Summit hosted by SIORC (not SIAPS under SPACES) and coordinated Office Manager by Sister Joy dela Cruz (grant her peace). Being raised in a conservative Asian American household, I saw I remember coming to the CCC when I diversity as cultural performance and was in 6th grade for an UpperBound food, and not social justice, equity, or field trip in 1996 and was welcomed by inclusion. Edwina jokingly said that Edwina to the CCC where she told us one day I will work for her and become




Common groiune raif nd ne & marketingwsletter

g interns programmin

programming intern ¡Alo! My name is Elzbeth- Yes, you read that right, it's Elzzzbeth, not Elizabeth. I also go by Elz! I am a proud Chicana, and I am now embarking on my second year. I was raised in Tijuana, and I moved to Chula Vista, California, at age nine. I am passionate about different

overtime. At first, the CrossCultural Center was a place I thought of as sublime- the colorful paintings on the walls and the empowering words decorating the interior amazed me. Instantly, I felt a sense of belonging. I would walk in, and I would, inexplicably, feel at home. I feel so blessed to now be an intern at this beautiful space. To me, the Cross-Cultural Center is a home that supports and fortifies my inner foundation. I can’t wait to meet more of the community! ¡Bienvenidos!


elzbeth islas

cultures and languages. I adore my family, they are my everything. I enjoy making friends, even though I am a little shy. I love to laugh! I am compassionate, hardworking, friendly, kind, and organized. The music group, Calle 13, has had a big impact on me because they are proud of coming from the beautiful culture of Latinoamérica. I was a lucky Summer Bridger, so OASIS holds a dear place in my corazón. I am a Muiron, and I currently live in I-House. My heart is with my M.E.Ch.A. community. I also have strong ties with the Community Outreach Department at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center. My relationship with the Cross-Cultural Center has grown and transgressed


I am a Los Angeles raised, pinay art student exploring identities of self, community, and developing relations through different artistic practices. I am a Visual Arts (Media) major and a Communications minor, aiming to promote art-making as a medium to heal, to advocate, and to bridge communities. What does the CCC mean to me? The Cross-Cultural Center is... personal.


My name’s Elaine Raif and I am your Common Ground Marketing & Newsletter intern! This quarter’s issue, 3 Letters, 2 Decades, 1 Community is dedicated to the Cross-Cultural Center today as we welcome the new staff and intern cohort for the 2014-15 year.




My name is Donald Donaire (doeNIGH-rey). I am a fourth year Warren College student with a major in Ethnic Studies, possibly minoring in Urban Planning and Studies. My gender pronouns are he, him, and his. I identify as a queer Filipino-American, second generation immigrant, and first generation college student. Immediately, I think of the CCC as a second home for me. Of all the places and spaces on campus, the center has made me feel the safest in terms of validating my experiences, connecting with community members, and expanding my knowledge and perspective on anything and

everything. The way I entered the space was initially through Kaibigang Pilipin@, one of the Fil-Am organizations at UCSD. When I first attended KP’s GBM, I actually didn’t know I was in the Cross. The more I got involved, the more I explored the physical space, which lead to meeting more people from other student organizations. I feel that I wouldn’t have grown to be so strong without the strong support of the community I’ve surrounded myself with from the student organizations affiliated at the center. Isang mahal, Donald Donaire

donald donaire programming intern

Social Justice Educators help with all of those GE’s then you can ask me because I’ve been through it. I also watch a lot of cartoons, so if you watch Adventure Time then come and talk to me.

Isimenmene Iyeducohaator

social justic

Hi, my name is Isimenmen Iyoha, Isi for short and it’s pronounced EC. A little bit about me, I’m a third year human biology major and I’m a Revelle student, so if any of you need


I got into the Cross Cultural Center because I was part of Kaibigang Pilipin@ which met at the Comunidad every week, and once I realized it was part of the Cross Cultural Center I wanted to get more involved. It started with me just going there to meet up with my friends then I went to a lot of the events that the Cross held. I felt like I was safe and I could freely explore all parts of my identity so I kept going to the Cross. Also, just being there talking to the interns or going to the workshops made me feel so empowered. It gave me words for the things that I felt growing up,

and whenever I left an event or had a great conversation I felt like I could make positive change around me. I wanted to empower other students, so I applied to be an intern, and the rest is history. When I think of the Cross, I think of my home, and the people there are my family. I feel comfortable to be myself whenever I’m at the Cross. Honestly, my college experience wouldn’t have been the same if I didn’t get involved here. It was the best decision I made in my college career.


Allison Bagnol

social justice educator

Prior to this internship, most of my interactions with the Cross Cultural Center were minimal. I’d overhear classmates making plans to study there, or attend a GBM in the space. I would receive emails from the CGS or Ethnic Studies

departments about events taking place in the Communidad Room. In all honesty, most of my direct interaction with the CCC took place when I would walk by it really slowly to gaze at it before someone could notice how weird I was being. I should have just gone in, but I didn’t think that I was cool enough to sit with them (everyone is totally cool enough to come through!). Looking back, I was a high-key fool; there was nothing to be afraid of. The Cross Cultural Center is one of the most welcoming, accessible spaces I’ve ever had the privilege of being in. It’s the place where I nap in all my inelegant glory, snoring in the Intern Office. It’s the place where I actually work, something I, as a chronic and somewhat accomplished procrastinator, never believed I would do. Most importantly, it’s a place where I feel

cella chung

social justice educator grounded and supported, regardless of whether I stumble in, temporarily defeated by selfdoubt, or triumphant and smug in minor victory. It’s home.


My name is Cella Chung. I am the shadow in Covoy’s boba houses. I live in the last shared bite of a burrito, bask in the glory of a terrible pun, and thrive in the squashed intimacy of a full back seat. When I’m not concocting bizarre selfintroductions, you can find me sashaying around the Cross Cultural Center avoiding trouble (to the best of my ability). I’ll be working this year as a Social Justice Educator, doing my best to meet the professional and ideological needs of the community.


“I am not educated nor am I an expert in any particular field. But I am sincere and my sincerity is my credentials.” — Malcolm X


The Cross-Cultural Center is sustenance. The community that the CCC help builds affirms my effort in not letting academics get in the way of my education. Through the CCC’s programs, services, and overall nurturing environment, I am reminded that my worth is not reduced to the titles I hold, the grades I get, or the piece of paper I am given at graduation. I am valued for my experiences, dimensions of identity, passions, and forms of activism. The CCC also recognizes that I operate in a realm beyond UCSD and thus helps me develop as an agent of change rooted in social justice. In many ways, the Cross-Cultural Center is a classroom that actually keeps it real.


Hey Community! My name is Yahya Hafez and I’m one of this years Social Justice Educators. I’m a third year student in Revelle College and I’m studying Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education Studies. There have been a lot of influences that have led me to become a part of the community at the Cross, from folks and involvement in OASIS Summer Bridge, SPACES programs, and SAAC organizations. All the different influences that have

led me to this space have made me feel deeply rooted to the Cross-Cultural Center. Throughout last year, I’ve had my first experiences being physically in the center and in that time, it’s really became a home for me at UCSD. Once I walk through the doors of the center, I now feel an automatic sense of security, care, and belonging, and I’m grateful for what this center is and has given me. I’m looking forward to


social justiceHafez educator

growing in the center this year and giving back to the community that’s nurtured me so warmly. Ma3 khayr wa 7ub, Yahya Hafez

Special Operations Team Hi Community, I’m Sandra, your new campus outreach and engagement intern. It’s a new position in which I’ll be building new relationships between the CCC and non-affiliated folks (firstyears and transfers) and organizations (transfer housing at the Village, first year residential halls, the Student Veteran’s Resource Center, Greek organizations, etc.). I’ll also help coordinate the CCC’s volunteer program, a new program especially geared towards first-years and transfers. However, it is open to all students interested in becoming intimately involved with the CCC. In a way, it’s poetic that I am in charge of outreaching and engaging folks through the volunteer program. Infact, I became involved with the CCC through volunteering. The summer after my first year, Edwina came to my first year seminar, “A


People’s History of UCSD, ” in order to recruit volunteers to help out with retrieving and analyzing archival material for the CCC’s 20th anniversary. I signed up, and from then on, the CCC became my home, as I was inspired to become more active through the stories I would read and listen to about the CCC. The CCC truly encapsulates home for me. I remembering being in awe of a space that felt safe enough for me to nap, eat my lunch, engage in critical dialogue, learn, and be challenged. The CCC isn’t always a comfortable space, of course, (see: Brave Space guidelines and the often said mantra of “leaning into your discomfort”) but it’s one where a lot of growth happens. I’ve grown so much personally within the space, and look forward to continuing that growth in what promises to be an exciting year full of new beginnings and (re)centering.

sandra amon

Campus Outreach & Engagement

Affiliates & Leadershi

joy De La Cruz Art & Activism

safety and comfort, but also push you to critically analyze yourself and develop a social justice mindset. In addition, the CCC is also a place where you are allowed to be yourself. Although the CCC is a place to study, nap, eat (free food), and converse, it is also an environment that wants to serve you and help you succeed in higher education. Working here at the CCC has reminded me that what we all do here is very important and I hope that if you get the chance, you can also learn what I have.

“To be a student and not be revoPeople talk about the CCC being their lutionary is a contradiction.” second home; but I find that the CCC – Salvador Allende is more than just a home to me because this space will not only offer


Nicholas Wong p

Elizabeth Uribe


Hello community. My name is Nicholas Wong and I am the Affiliates and Leadership intern at the CCC. I am an incoming 7th year/transfer studentish who is studying Ethnic Studies. Back in the summer of 2008, I was introduced to the CCC through Summer Bridge and continued to come back through APSA. After helping out with APSA’s high school conference, I decided to join board and became the APSA SAAC representative. That was when I started to really get immersed within the community and started to attend more events at the CCC.


into contact with the center. Most of my time was spent at the Cross hanging out, studying, attending M.E.Ch.A gbms, attending CCC programs, learning about social justice, organizing, (etc…), which for me were all crucial components of my retention within the campus. The space and individuals within the space, made me feel safe, but also challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone. I always feel welcomed when I enter the space and there is a sense of community at the CCC that is hard to find often times. Especially, in a big campus like UCSD and I truly appreciate all that the space and full time staff have done and are still doing for us as students.


Hello, my name is Elizabeth Uribe, a second year Muir student, and I am this years Joy de La Cruz Art and Activism Intern here at The Cross Cultural Center. I love to roller blade, dance, watch movies, shop, jam out with community, and travel! I enjoy playing the Jarana during my free time, painting, or filming! Many individuals might see the Cross as just a center on the second floor of price center filled with resources for underrepresented students, staff, and faculty, but to me the CCC is more than a physical space. It is another home. As a first year, transitioning into the UC system was difficult, but I was fortunate enough to find individuals that helped me in my transition and it is to them that I came



Dia De Los Muertos Alter:

The alter is put up on El Dia De Los Muertos November 1 and 2 to remember loved ones that have passed away. Individuals put photos of their loved ones, food, water, and anything that their family members loved when they were alive.

The Forbidden Book:

The Forbidden Book alerts you of the historical secrets that have been used to steer a nation to war. Filipinos are stereotyped as "savages" or "little brown brothers" that need to be civilized by American institutions. These are evident through political cartoons.

Indian Alcatraz Display

The Indian Alcatraz Occupation photo display commemorates the 19 months in which Native Americans occupied the island. A fight that college students and Native Americans put up against the imprisonment and isolation of their native people by the government.



Brave Space: A Short Documentary by Elaine Raif




thought spot by

donald donaire,

week 3

by Nikko Gutierrez

, thought spot By Isi Iyoha

Week 6


Eyes closed, Absorbed into the ambiance Music bounces around Like kids on a trampoline. Heart racing Slowly pacing Memories replaying Dream chasing.




In this year’s new Common Ground Newsletter edition, the following section is dedicated to your scholarly works. This provides opportunities to be formally published as students and scholars! We are continously accepting submissions. *Graded class essays, honors theses, and other academic works are all welcomed. Send submissions to *Grade mark required. Submission does not guarantee publishing.

13 11

The Contribution of Selfies to Women's Self-Identities by Sandra Jon Amon

and introduce the paradigm in which subject, photographer, and viewer are one and the same. In this way, selfies allow women to define their presentation of self and thus their self-identity through control of the camera and the presentation of a female gaze. This female gaze is in opposition to the male gaze defined by film theorist Laura Mulvey in her seminal work. More specifically, Mulvey observes that “[i]n a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy [sic] on to the female form which is styled accordingly” (837). Note that Mulvey deliberately uses the "ph" in an alternative spelling of "fantasy" to signify the Freudian tradition of emphasizing the phallus, which places the male experience as a standard for measurement. Selfies counteract this male-centric tradition. Specifically, selfies allow women to adopt a female gaze that is active as the male gaze by projecting not the male fantasy, but the female fantasy of her ideal self. I say fantasy to deliberately imply that female ideal self is elusive and hard to attain. The female ideal self cannot be separated from the internalized cultural ideals of a so-called perfect woman. Some of these values are admittedly toxic. The idealization of the thin (but not too thin) woman who is simultaneously virginal and provocative is problematic because it caters to the male desire for possession of the female body. Deconstructing such internalized values is one that involves incredibly deep self-reflection. This can be facilitated through photos, particularly selfies. The continuous improvements in camera technology, allow for easy


gaze. Her gaze is mysterious and thus intriguing for the viewer. The background is dark, which accentuates how the light falls from somewhere beyond the painting, illuminating the unknown girl’s face and bringing the girl’s pearl earring into focus. In Grafton’s modernday rendering of a Dutch classic, as posted on Facebook, the focus of the painting no longer includes the pearl earring. It instead centers around the digitally-inserted camera, which at first glance, appears as if it was originally painted by Vermeer himself (Grafton). With the camera's addition, the Dutch masterpiece now looks like a selfie - a modern-day image taken by a girl while posing in front of a mirror. In the manner Vermeer painted her, the unknown girl is assumed not to be looking into a mirror because there is no mirror in the original painting. However, the digital camera in her hand signals that she is taking a selfie, given that some selfies are taken with a digital camera in front of a bathroom mirror. Also, consider that the photoshopped Vermeer work was uploaded onto Facebook - a website people use in order to display selfies. Given both of these points - the camera and the online platform - the girl’s gaze is no longer mysterious but instead self-assessing. “Do I look like what I want to look like? Do I look okay?” she asks herself. Her gaze is still challenging but not to the general audience of Vermeer’s original - now, it is directed to herself and perhaps her Facebook friends. Thus, Grafton’s work explores the idea that such a digital manipulation is an example of women challenging the male gaze. It should be acknowledged that Grafton himself is a male artist. Does this detract from the implications of his photoshopping for the empowerment of women? Not necessarily. This image of a woman taking a photo of herself is one that is common enough in this modern age that Grafton’s work represents selfies actually taken by contemporary women. A contemporary phenomenon indeed, selfies challenge the traditional separation of the subject and photographer


When Oxford Dictionaries revealed the Word of the Year for 2013, there was little to no surprise which word they chose: selfie. According to their statistics, usage of the term increased by approximately 17,000 % over the course of the year. Scrolling through any social media feed - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on - it’s most likely that someone’s selfie will show. A common reaction to this might be an internal eye-roll or a sigh. But why the derision? Might it be possible that something deeper is going on beneath the stream of seemingly narcissistic self-portraits? Selfies contribute to a thoughtful exploration of self-identity for young women, since women are able to gain confidence and raise their self-esteem by recognizing their ability to refuse and subvert society’s traditional use of their bodies as commodities. They can empower women to challenge the male gaze. Additionally, because constructing one’s self-identity is a dynamic process, selfies facilitate self-identities that are now more fluid than ever. Finally, sharing selfies on the Internet may be problematic and thus detrimental to the construction of women’s self-identity when women rely too much on the approval of others on their photos. A woman’s self-identity is affected more positively and her self-esteem and confidence grows when she recognizes the shortcomings of depending on the feedback of others on her selfies. Selfies are thus a legitimate form of self-expression and should not be looked down upon. Selfies allow women to project their own views of their bodies instead of letting others dictate it for them, because women control the camera, and thus, the gaze through which they are seen. Artist Michael Grafton demonstrates this in his photoshopping of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s famous 17th century work, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The Dutch masterpiece originally showcased a young girl in a turban, looking over her shoulder into the viewer/painter’s


Taking Back the Gaze:


capturing of selfies. Camera phones in particular allow for multiple, high-quality photographs that a woman can take of herself until she is satisfied with her self-portrayal. Camera/mobile phones emphasize self-expression and self-presentation for women, encouraging photographs that suit their own aesthetic taste through the manipulation that technology allows. Comparative media studies scholar, Jose Van Dijck, comments, “In this day and age, (digital) photographs allow subjects some measure of control over their photographed appearance, inviting them to tweak and reshape their public and private identities” (70). Digital photography increases the role of the camera-phone in forming self-identity through more opportunities for the subjectphotographer to manipulate her self-images. Most obviously, digital camera phones allow for many photos to be taken without the commitment to print out all of them, unlike analog cameras of old. From this proliferation of photos, a woman can pick and choose which to keep. Besides the freedom to take multiple photographs, software like Photoshop erases unsightly blemishes and other unattractive facial features, as well as allowing the addition of different filters to aid in a photograph’s atmosphere. Therefore, manipulating photographs, particularly selfies, allows women to play around with their self-presentation and self-expression. This exploration pushes them to gain a clearer sense of self which is important because women are subject to socialization the unconscious learning of social values through various mediums (family, friends, media, school, work, etc.). Socialization programs a woman to see herself as a hypersexualized and infantilized object. To combat against this dehumanization and objectification, selfies are a valuable tool for women. While women may not explicitly link their self-portraits to feminist actions, it nevertheless may lead to empowerment, because by encouraging the control of technology and self-presentation, selfies can lead to the questioning of social norms. Dong-Hoo Lee points out that in her interviews with 17 young women, “Moreover, most interviewees hope to have or have actually bought a digital camera in order ‘to take more professional pictures.’. . . As one controls a technology more freely, one experiences a kind of empowerment, which in turn gives one an


interest in more sophisticated technologies” (Lee). Here Lee claims that as women use their camera phones more, they grow comfortablewith the technology and may pursue taking pictures in a more professional way. In the same fashion, selfies can facilitate women’s realization of other professional/career avenues (i.e. professional photographer) that normally would not be considered. Women are exposed to the entire process of taking photographs, from considering the best angles and lighting to actually developing the photos through the addition of special effects. Familiarity with the camera through selfies can then unconsciously inspire women to further pursue photography in a manner that goes beyond taking selfies. Angela Aguayo and Stacy Calvert demonstrate this and the resulting subversion of social norms in their portfolio of “curated mobile photography images” gathered from the submissions of other women, in order to "show a more nuanced, dynamic version of womanhood that celebrates complexity across the life span” and combat ''commercial imagery [which] turns women into cartoonish objects, even when the aim is to diversify representation and purport authenticity" (Aguayo and Calvert 183). Here women as photographers now subvert society’s view of “womanhood.” Notably, Aguayo’s article and portfolio of photos did not feature selfies. This can be implied to be a response to self-portraits by moving the focus away from how women are objectified to placing women as photographers with power to take pictures in any way they see fit. This also demonstrates how selfies can be a stepping stone for women to control the camera and realize that they have the power to turn the camera on other subjects besides herself. In other words, selfies can inspire women to explore the possibility of being photographers whereas before, they may not have thought themselves capable. In doing so, they may also be led to explore themes such as challenging the hypersexualization and infantilization of women in the media, because women are in control of the camera and of the subjects it captures.Through selfies a woman can begin to take pictures of herself that may seem complicit in the objectification of women in general. However, in the course of taking more and more pictures, she constructs an identity that is constantly in flux and becomes more multi-faceted as she is exposed to new ideas and experiences. This identity can be described as one that is “fluid”

because self-identity is a process of meaning-making. As sociology professor Shelly Budgeon asserts, “To make known one's sense of self is [...] a process in which one’s self-concept is achieved into a historical unity. . . .The construction that is yielded by this process highlights what is significant or meaningful to that individual at the particular point in time when he or she articulates a narrative of the self” (49-50). Self-identity is created andmaintained through continuous reevaluation of past experiences. Thus, the easy proliferation of selfies makes it easier for women to make meaning out of varying self-representations at different points in time.

Furthermore, self-identity is a continuous process of meaning-making for a woman; a dynamic state in which people are constantly reshaping their selves through their conscious and unconscious processing of experiences from work, school, family, and friends. For example, at one point in time, a woman might present herself to be aggressively militant in her politics - her dress and body language reflect this in the selfies she chooses to take of herself. However, years later as she learns and grows, she may no longer act and look the same way - which again can be traced through the pictures she takes of herself. Van Dijck further illustrates that, “Memories are created just as much as they are recalled from photographs; our recollections never remain the same, even if the photograph appears to represent a fixed image of the past. And yet, we use these pictures not to ‘fix’ memory but to constantly reassess our past lives and reflect on what has been as well as what is and what will be” (63). Here Van Dijck claims that photographs of the self never have just one meaning. Instead, the meaning of photographs changes as an individual’s memory changes. This is important because memories facilitate


Some may argue that posing in selfies may indeed not generate authentic selves for women because the act of posing is in effect the result of an individual self-consciously adjusting their appearance to appear more attractive. Nevertheless, women’s self-identities encompass more than just their posed self. Philosopher Roland Barthes’


Empowerment for women comes in the partnership of the Internet and camera phones because both facilitate women’s control of their public identities.

Camera Lucida notes that when he notices a camera directed at him “everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of 'posing:' I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image. This transformation is an active one: I feel that the Photograph creates my body or mortifies it” (10-11). Here, Barthes claims that portraitphotography inspires a dissonance between someone’s sense of self and their image by examining the point of view that selfies may not necessarily facilitate a genuine self-identity for women whenever they strive too hard to present an idealized self to the camera. However, there is not only the idealized self versus the mental (or actual) self-image. As Barthes goes on to point out, there are other two images of an individual that are outside of their control; namely, that of one’s self-imagery as dictated by the photographer and the public’s own perception of the individual (13-14).These images are simultaneously at odds, complement, and extend one another. In terms of selfies, the interactions of these four “selves” for a woman are complicated in the myriad of ways they intersect. The idealized self that a woman affects through posing may not after all be a singular “self,” but instead is one that shifts with the intersections of the images within an individual’s control (that is, the mental and idealized) and beyond (the photographed and public). Therefore, though women may pose in selfies to present their ideal self, their self-identity encompasses what they actually think themselves to be as well as what the audience perceives in the selfie. Selfies have contributed to the identties of women through increasing opportunities to challenge traditional views of their bodies as either undervalued or overvalued objects for the pleasure of men, as well as increasing the fluidity of self-identity. However, it must be addressed that selfies contribute to an unhealthy formation of women’s self-identity when women depend too much on online validation. A prudent and conscious use of the selfie is needed for woman to use selfies in a way that is positive and encourages both self-reflections and self-evaluations. As


choose these pictures over others?” A woman learns to listen and and trust in her personal judgment without letting the noise of other opinions sway her self-esteem from one extreme to another. The construction of self-identity for women happens best when individuals do not depend too much on the opinions of others. Selfies can also empower a woman to control her self-identity online because she is able to present which photosare uploaded and in which context they are looked. In terms of context, for example, she can choose the audience - close friends, acquaintances, and family - who has access to her selfies. Facebook has such a feature in which users can do so. As philosopher and essayist Susan Sontag noted in her seminal work On Photography, “To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge-and, therefore, like power” (2). Sontag claims that photographs give an individual control over the photographed subject. Consider that the photographer can choose the framing and the look of the subject of a photograph. Selfies place women as photographers with said powers, along with the added ability to curate, or organize, the photographs. The selfie thus grants increased control of the camera to women, especially considering the continuous improvements in technology of mobile devices and their cameras. The improvement in technology encourages increased use of the camera in taking selfies. Taken together, improvements in technology and subsequent increase in taking selfies corresponds to a certain power, or control, that women can choose to exercise.


the construction of identity in providing the material which a woman uses to see herself and reflect. Selfies specifically provide a woman with varying images of herself through time, thus aiding in memory. Upon this foundation of memory, she forms her unique concept of her idealself.. On the other hand, selfies may not necessarily generate an authentic self, but rather, an idealized self. However, considering that self-identity fluctuates as a woman continuously reflects on her self-image and experience, there may be intersections between the authentic and idealized self as women succeed in achieving parts of their ideal self through tangible accomplishments and choices to tweak one’s self-presentation. Unfortunately, selfies posted on social media detrimentally affect one’s self-identity when women begin to depend on the approval of their peers and acquaintances to validate the selves they present. In a study of college students and their use of Facebook, social media scholar David Kasch observed, for example, that while students looked favorably on group photos because they signal social capital, “posting pictures of oneself without others in the photo was an important signal for students. Those who did so were considered at best ‘lame’ or ‘weird’ and at worst ‘pretentious’ or ‘narcissistic’ ” (96). Kasch claims in a previous section that photos were an extremely vital tool for students to use as a method to control the presentation of their digital selves (95). Here, he elaborates on that claim by showing how photographs on Facebook affect one’s self-presentation by presenting an idealized self. Kasch also substantiates Grafton’s choice in presenting the photoshopped Vermeer masterpiece onto Facebook, a site whose users would understand the implications of the picture. Notably, students from this research study demonstrate the derision some feel towards selfies. Therefore, posting selfies on a website, and not getting any validation in the form of likes may negatively affect one’s self-esteem. With the Internet as a platform, the validation that comes in the form of how many reblogs, notes, or likes a selfie garners can negatively influence how an individual sees herself. However, by keeping some selfies to herself, a woman’s self-identity is affected more positively as her self-esteem and confidence grows. She can use her selfies to as a tool for self-reflection. “Why would I want to appear look like this? What does it mean when I


such, modern self-portraits are a tool for young women to subvert society’s traditional objectification of their bodies – which are often in the form of hypersexualization and infantilization - by encouraging exploration of the self to question toxic social norms. To investigate the implications of this more deeply, more research is needed to focus and explore specifically the topics of selfies and social media. Such questions this research should address are: What does it mean for women when selfies taken with other people - otherwise known as group selfies - are valued over individual selfies? How can selfies be used as art in the modern world to mirror what painters like Frida Kahlo have done with their paintings in terms of self-portraiture? Can abstract meaning be infused into selfies so that the subject of the selfie goes beyond the appearance of a woman and into her evolving emotions, ideas, and understanding of the self? Answering these questions contributes greatly to the positive formation of self-identities for women who live in a world that tries to constantly undermine their confidence and, most importantly, their agency.

Sources: Aguayo, Angela J., and Stacy Jill Calvert. "(Re)Capturing Womanhood: Perspectives and Portraits Through Mobile Photography." Visual Communication Quarterly 20.3 (2013): 180-87. 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2014. Barthes, Roland. "He Who Is Photographed." Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981. 10-15. Print. Budgeon, Shelley. "Chapter 4: The Event of Embodied Identity." Choosing a Self: Young Women and the Individualization of Identity. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. 79-101. Print. Dijck, J. Van. "Digital Photography: Communication, Identity, Memory." Visual Communication 7.1 (2008): 57-76. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. Grafton, Mitchell. Girl with a Pearl Earring digitally manipulated to include a camera in hand. Digital image. Facebook. N.p., 12 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2014 Kasch, David Michael. "Social Media Selves: College Students' Curation of Self and Others through Facebook." Order No. 3564380 U of California, Los Angeles, 2013. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 6 Feb. 2014. Lee, Dong-Hoo. "Women’s Creation of Camera Phone Culture." The Fibreculture Journal 6 (2005): n. pag. 19 Dec. 2005. Web. 21 Jan. 2014.


Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford UP, 1999: 833-44. Print. Sontag, Susan. "In Plato's Cave." On Photography. New York: Rosetta, 2005. 1-20. Print.

Gender Coloniality and Police Violence in Trans Women of Color Narratives


“These Are the Axes”: by Eliseo Rivas


ate white innocence.6 This dual erasure not only elides the pervasiveness of violence, but recreates the conditions that govern queer and trans death. In “Near Life, Queer Death: Overkill and Ontological capture”, Stanley comments on the “rhetorical loss” and the “actual loss of people that cannot be counted” in reports of anti-queer violence (Stanley 6)7. The rhetorical loss refers to any information lost outside the moment of death and the actual loss is the loss of a living person. Stanley details these losses with a harrowing non-descript narrative of death: “[Hate Crime Statistics] cannot begin to apprehend the numbers of trans and queer bodies that are collected off cold pavement and highway underpasses, nameless flesh whose stories of brutality never find their way into official account beyond the few scant notes in a police report of a body of a ‘man in a dress’ discovered” (Stanley 6). The “nameless flesh” described by Stanley thus illustrates the shortcomings of Transgender Day of Remembrance in recalling violence. That in this moment of discovering violence, there may be nothing more than naked brutality to describe physical state of the dead. This is not, however, to confuse the capacity to of Transgender Day of Remembrance to account for death, but rather, illustrate how it also recreates violence. In Lamble's article “Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: the Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance”, she notes how transgender bodies are deraced for a universalized innocent white audience8. Lamble notes that by positioning the transgender identity as the sole focus of death, it: universalizes


gaze. Her gaze is mysterious and thus intriguhomicide victims were transgender women of color.2 3 The multi-year trend that the NCAVP notes stands as a statistically measurable mode of quantifying deaths and violence. However, these deaths are nothing new nor spectacular. The murder of Rita Hester in 1998, an African American transgender women, prompted her community to create a candlelight vigil. This vigil inspired the “Remembering Our Dead” project and the now international Transgender Day of Remembrance held every year on November 20th. The NCAVP and Transgender Day of Remembrance are two active entities that recognize the deaths of transgender people. The hereafter, thus, is the place of beginning. The context of this work begins with Transgender Day of Remembrance and retreats from the border of death into the living. My aim is not to recall the body count that is revealed one day a year, but rather, interactions in living that lead to these deaths. The information gathered about the slain is often limited to police reports, news media, personal accounts, or an unidentified person found dead. Two kinds of central information gathering sites that represent this are the online projects International Transgender Day of Remembrance and the TransRespect versus Transphobia research project by Transgender Europe.4 5 International Transgender Day of Remembrance only the notes the individual's name and the conditions that describe their death. Whereas International Day of Remembrance simply notes information of the deceased, the TransRepsect versus Transphobia research project allows for the particulars of death are mapped on a global scale and conditions of death. Two limits to these kind of memory program relate to quantifying the litany of deaths and remaking white innocence. Eric Stanley and Sarah Lamble complicate Transgender Day of Remembrance because they note the impossibility of recalling anti-queer violence and it’s ability to recre


Abstract This research study is an attempt to understand under what conditions trans women of color are being killed, and name structures that consent to these deaths. Rather than focus on Transgender Day of Remembrance and moments of death, this study examines autobiographical texts because they alot for a first person voice and personal narratives over corpses and news reports. Although these accounts are exceptional, they nonetheless elaborate on ordinary conversations in trans of color livings. Using conversations and autobiographical texts from Sylvia Rivera, The Lady Chablis, Toni Newman, and Janet Mock, I argue that police violence is an indispensable form of regulation for trans women of color. To analyze these texts, I use phenomenology as a method to give focus to the implicit embodiment and experiences of these women. To give context to larger structures, whose foundation is trans aggression, I develop a concept of Gender Coloniality from concepts of coloniality, visuality, and surveillance. The central argument is that: one condition of being within the context of trans of color lives is that of a life in the dark side of gender coloniality; that existing in these death worlds lend themselves to bodily regulation and extermination as some methods in maintenance of a biological dimorphic society. Introduction: Welcome to the Hereafter Of the few available resources that tally violence against people at the intersections of citizenship, gender identity, HIV status, race, and sexuality, the National Coalition of Anti- Violence Programs (NCAVP) stands as the only national coalition to document and collect the intersections of the latter information.1 Their national report for 2013 attests to multi-year trends of communities that are disproportionately affected by violence. They note that 72% of homicide victims were transgender women, and 67% of


transgender bodies “along a singular plane of victimhood”, and “obscures how being brown and poor may increase one’s vulnerability to violence” (Lamble 31, 30). Thus, this positions race and class as non-factors of transgender violence, which recreate the the innocence of whiteness in these deaths. To solely privilege gender identity is to ignore the interlocking components of race and class that facilitate death. Combining Stanley and Lamble’s analysis, it becomes easier to see the limits of Transgender Day of Remembrance because of the impossibility to recuperate quantifiable stories and its contribution to white innocence. This project takes on the hope Stanley offers as an escape from this moment: “What I am after then is not a new set of data or a more complete set of numbers. What I hope to do here is to re-situate the ways we conceptualize the very categories of ‘queer’ and ‘violence’ as to remake both.” (Stanley 7) Rethinking catch-all terms, like queer and violence offers opportunities to grasp other banal transgender livings, such as suicide. Suicide by transgender peoples questions the conditions that led to death because it is not just homicides that lead to death, but an insidious way of being in this world. Suicide offers a different trajectory to afterlife that does not simply place the perpetrator of homicides as the focus of expression. Two examples that illustrate this are the overarching findings from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey and the precise vestiges of life left by Mark Aguhar. In the striking report “Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults”, the researchers find that 42% of trans women have attempted suicide in contrast to the 4.6% of the overall U.S. population. 9 Alongside factors like race, gender, and HIV-status, the report also examines discrimination from family, school, work, health care, housing, and law enforcement to illustrate various factors that contribute to a person striving to kill themselves.10 Therefore, aggression towards transgender peoples is not isolated to a moment of homicide, but rather, extends to the overall way of living that transgender people have to endure. This is no more apparent than with the suicide of Mark Aguhar. Mark Aguhar is a self proclaimed queer artist in the Masters in Fine Arts program at University of Illinois at Chicago.11 Their artistic work ran from performance, to


blogging, to painting, and so, so much more.12 They committed suicide on March 12, 2012, a little over two years ago today. I seal Mark’s presence with us today because her spirit refuses to be silent. In fact, she is the foundation from which this study is inspired. I owe my ability to trudge through all this gore and carnage because of her. I seal my relationship with them today by marking where I am at with this project. I hope that within this context, I refute any innocence or objectivity, because this study deserves more. On Tumblr, a popular blogging site, she posted about self acceptance about her fat, femme, trans, brown, body.13 She also posted about the importance to love herself despite a world that was fundamentally antagonistic to her as she fought against committing suicide and depression. Her sudden death struck many queer bloggers heavily because of Mark’s immense talent to develop an intimate canon of rage and affirmation for people fellow brown gurls.14 15 16 17 18 I remain haunted, not only by the loss of great artist, but also by suffocating conditions that sanctioned her death. Almost instinctively, I am drawn to Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters as a possible reprieve into otherworldliness that traces what her life escaped. That haunting as a methodology offers “a process that links an institution and an individual, a social structure and a subject” to think beyond the comprehensible (Gordon 19)19. How her shape in this world offers and opportunity to grasp the self-effacing hand of racialized and gendered antagonisms for of color, femme, trans people. That the beating affective residue on her blog offers opportunities to reveal the profound violence of everyday livings. That this method is a conjuring of the deceased in order to examine that which escapes power. However, this lone moment does not allow for me to presently ask a harder question. A question that beckons immediate response: why are trans people of color dying? The hereafter of mourning Mark is a turn to autobiographies that trace a different violence through the livings and existence of trans people of color. Autobiographies and Police Violence: Realms that Speak The utility of these autobiographical texts is that they lend themselves to the first hand experiences where we can understand a person as opposed to the incident of death that describes the society. I choose autobiographies because they lend themselves to be

attached to a larger lives and legacies that do not simply arrive at death or depart from it. Instead, these stories describe larger conditions of being. For as much as these stories reveal about the expanded privileges of being alive, I do not want to elide that they have the potential to simultaneously hide those whose lives ended too soon. The lives of many trans women of color may never reach the news. Their family may misgender them. They may never be described outside their moment of death because there is no other soul fragments to recuperate. There may never be a vigil, remembrance, or moment to mourn.

Regardless, I do not want the sole question of death to deter us from asking the harder questions of moments that lead to these deaths. Thus, the focus of this study is to examine are encounters with police by transgender women of color for an ever impending analysis. Little scholarship has honed in on interactions with police by trans people. Various trans scholars who examine interlocking conditions that produce violence, like race, class, and gender, either focus on Transgender Day of Remembrance or other flash moments of extreme violence. Often, these are the only sources available, but these sources should not narrow the scope of interrogation of said violence. Therefore, police violence of transgender people of color warrants deeper investigation, especially because of its overlooked pervasive nature. The policing of trans women is nothing new nor isolated. Amnesty International published a national report on police abuse and misconduct against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in the United States (U.S.).20 20 In this expansive 2005 report, they examine geographically diverse communities and their experiences with police misconduct, with a focus on Los Angeles, California; San Antonio, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and New

Considering the conditions of living, and limited access to publishing, the memories examine in this study are are exceptional. Each author has had networks of support that acted as resource-systems to overcome a lifetime of barraging hurdles. The scarcity of these texts stories should not be considered universal texts of experience, but rather, shared perspectives of police encounters.


These narratives serve as case studies to examine unpredictable interactions with police: whether it be driving in a car, working on the streets, or seeking protection. The gradience of time and location between these stories speak not only to the ever present condition of being trans of color, but also the boundless nature that these antagonisms present themselves. The epistemological imperative for this study is not simply to ascribe a prescription of utopic words, but rather, a look into the omnipresent condition of being trans of color. Questions and Methods: Phenomenology What I mean to examine is the condition of being women in a biological dimorphic society in order to answer why trans people of color are dying. Personal narratives by transgender women of color encountering police offer an opportunity to answer this question. This is due to the layered power relationship that contains historic weight of surveillance, regulation, and worth. A glimpse into questions asked throughout this study are: Who are the women I’m describing as being seen?; What are the interactions between trans women of color and the police like?; How is the seeing done by police interact with the being of trans women of color?; What does examining police violence reveal about the conditions of being trans women of color; and, how does this relationship have an impact on the trans women of color who experience this judgment?


The aim of this project is not to unearth rescue narratives that describe resistance, but rather, experiences that describe the condition of being. Being, meaning, living as trans women of color where the structure of society disproportionately targets this community.

One starting point to begin answering these questions from a phenomenological standpoint is examining the vulnerability in being seen as trans women of color. Vulnerability to police violence begins at the look and how transgender women are seen. The policing of transgender women of color begins at the disjuncture of expectations in how to be seen in contrast to how transgender women are seen. Additional key questions are: What is the relationship between seeing and judgment?; Who can be a person?; Who is counted as human and why?; What are the immediate needs by the police (read: noun) to police (read: verb)?; and, tracing this to a longer history, why does this need even exist? What is absurd about these interactions? Theories of phenomenology serve as a useful method because it gives importance to first hand experience. It makes space to think about consciousness of oneself and interactions with the other. As described by Henry S. Rubin, phenomenology is especially useful in Trans Studies because it prioritizes forthright statements of trans people to claim their experience as a truth.31 Rubin succinctly describes phenomenology at length to establish a basis from which it can be used as a method: “Because Phenomenology is methodologically descriptive and legitimates the knowledge of the subjugated while pointing out the critical possibilities that result from the subject’s negotiation with the world, I believe it is useful tool for understanding essences and grasping experience” where “bodies are the ultimate point of view” (Rubin 268).32 Indeed, Rubin describes not only the importance of phenomenology, but also its function. It begins from the perspective of the subjugated in order to describe the unique condition of beingtrans. That this theory not only “legitimates” knowledge from this point of view, but also offers “critical possibilities” in negotiation with the otherwise definite matrix of death production for trans people. In order to better understand the utility of phenomenology as it is mediated between the self and the other, I examine the major body of works


York, New York. Across the country, they sent out detailed questionnaires to law enforcement agencies, conducted over 170 interviews, and examined media sources and legislation. The report is peppered with information that states how poor, of color, transgender, and/or immigrant peoples disproportionately receive violence. However, this report notes violence according to singular identities and does not how race, sexuality, and gender intersect. This kind of data collection, therefore, slights the targeted violence transgender women of color experience because they are either transgender or of color, never both. This is in contrast to the 2014 NCAVP report, which emphasizes intersecting identities in police violence.21 The report notes how transgender people of color are 2.7 times more likely to experience police violence and 6 times more likely to experience physical violence from the police compared to White cisgender survivors and victims (NCAVP 9). The report names differentials in violence because it acknowledges overlapping identities. Yet, this report does not detail police interactions as thoroughly as the Amnesty International did. Reports by Make the Read New York and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project provide an excellent supplement to detail these confrontations and name police as one of the largest perpetrators of anti- trans, gender non-conforming, queer violence.22 23 Two more recentincidents that illustrate violence against trans women are “walking while trans”. If police believe these women to be trans, and therefore sex workers, they will stop, search, and potentially detain these women.24 25 Considering the context of heightened police violence in the U.S. for LGBTQ communities of color, one common motif in the autobiographies was the abuse that ensued from police interactions by transgender women of color. These are the first hand experiences of Sylvia Rivera, Toni Newman, The Lady Chablis, and Janet Mock from their voices and autobiographies.26 27 28 29 In the range of autobiographies by trans people within the U.S. context, there are only a handful of autobiographies written by transgender women of color.30 These kind of memoirs are rare because survival trumps writing. As noted by previous reports what is more likely to happen is death from homicide, suicide, and social alienation. If not that then access access to write and publish.


that have developed this theory. The foundational work of Jean-Paul Sartre speaks from phenomenology because he elaborates about the self encountering the other.33 The thesis of Sartre’s article “The Encounter with the Other” is to have his audience go beyond thinking of the self for oneself and existing as such inherently, to explore the encounter with the other and see how the self can also exist alternatively through the gaze of the other. This can be acutely summarized in the following phrase: “I am ashamed of myself before the Other” with the I acting as the reflective self, the myself as the objective self, and the Other that mediates this differentiation (Sartre 206). However, Sartre’s theory of phenomenology does not take into account the colonial condition. Frantz Fanon’s work adds to theories of phenomenology because he elaborates on the racialized aspects of the encounter that trouble how one encounters the other.34 This is the colonial condition of existing in a “zone of non being” where they cannot ascribe meaning to themselves but are constantly spoken for and given meaning as a black man (Fanon xii).35 Fanon succinctly says, “the Other fixes me with his gaze, his gestures and attitude, the same way you fix a preparation with a dye” (Fanon 89). This is to say that Fanon cannot return the gaze to the Other as described by Sartre because he is epidermalized to be black. Thus, what Sartre develops fails to consider how the gaze cannot be returned by the colonized. On a different rhythm is Judith Butler and her take on the phenomenology of gender. Judith Butler’s seminal work on the phenomenology of gender illustrate how performative acts of gender sediment to materialize their existence.36 This essay is useful for using phenomenology as method because it questions how embodiment of one’s gender becomes socially legitimate or illegitimate to the other, in context of transgender women’s experiences.37 This is what is otherwise colloquially called as “passing”. “Passing” meaning read as a cisgender women. Butler argues that “gender identity is a performative accomplishment compelled by social sanction and taboo” in order to argue how gender is socially regulated by what is permissible and what is unlawful (Butler 393).


Carrying forward, gender “takes the social agent as an object rather than the subject of constitutive acts” (Butler 392). This is to say that gender is acted upon to contrive and conceal a fictional genesis. Butler’s statements here serve to examine the social forces that contribute to one’s experience with their gender. While Butler examines relationships with gender identity, Sara Ahmed discusses relationships between queerness and orientations. Sara Ahmed’s contribution to phenomenology is that she examines moments of disorientation between the self and the other to develop the concept of Queer Phenomenology.38 She troubles the term orientation (read: sexuality) in order to develop an argument about disorientations (read: confused, bewildered, misaligned). The concept of disorientations in phenomenology offers an opportunity to examine “how space is dependent on bodily inhabitance” (Ahmed 6). How a bodily disorientated experience reveals the covert alignment of social relations between the self and other. Ahmed crisply captures this by stating “Orientation involves aligning body and space: we only know which way to turn once we know which way we are facing” [emphasis not mine] (Ahmed 7). This statement anchors how to think about orientation between police and transgender women of color. The utility of phenomenology as method is that it positions personal experience as a legitimate source of knowledge, as elaborated by Rubin. This is an indispensable perspective because it allows insight into questions of being within trans scholarship, particularly trans women of color. The basis of phenomenology, starting with Sartre, does not consider the colonial condition, performative acts, or disorientation in relationships between the self and the other. Fanon, Butler, and Ahmed provide expanded theories that make these kinds of claims central to their analyses in order to elaborate on relationships between the self and the other. These expanded claims are useful because they provide a more holistic base to consider the experiences of trans of color lives. These are no more important than in describing interactions with police because of how trans women of color are regulated by the state through the police. Disproportionate police violence against transgender women of color begs the question, why? What about these women elicits more violence onto them

by police? How do perceptions of being by police towards trans women of color warrant a judgment that enacts violence? How does the colonial condition of being orient trans women of color to receive undue violence? Thesis: Trans of Color Livings One condition of being within the context of trans of color lives is that of a life in the dark side of gender coloniality; that existing in these death worlds lend themselves to bodily regulation and extermination as some methods in maintenance of a biological dimorphic society. Narratives of transgender women of color interacting with police illustrate how police violence is a method in enacting the regulation of a biological dimorphic society. Two primary texts that inform this claim are the works of María Lugones’ concepts of dark side of gender and a biological dimorphic society, and Lisa Marie Cacho’s violence of value in social death. 39 40 In conversation with each other, these texts provide the basis to consider both the colonial and contemporary moments for trans of color livings. These texts are important to couple because they examine the present conditions from which transgender women of color speak their narratives, and they do not isolate the cause of these experiences to bad police, policies, or peoples.

Instead, they suggest that the fundamental condition of being trans of color is rooted in the coloniality of gender that produce conditions that are antagonistic to trans of color existences. *Note from editor: This is only a preview of this honor thesis. To view full academic works, visit our site: mon-ground.html Sources: 1 (June 18, 2014)

3 Although not explicit in the media release report, the full 2014 release edition notes that black transgender women received a disproportionate amount of violence within the category of transgender women of color. (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs Report 58, 84, 122-126) 4 5

7 Stanley, E. "Near Life, Queer Death: Overkill and Ontological Capture." Social Text. 107 (2011): 1-20. 8 Lamble, Sarah. Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: the Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance. National Sexuality Research Centre, University of California Press, 2008. Internet resource.

18 Pérez, Roy. “Call Out Queen (Mark Aguhar) Zine”.

30 Mock, Janet. “Not All Memoirs Are Created Equal: The Gatekeeping of Trans Women of Color’s Stories”. Writings and Reflections by Janet Mock, June 5, 2013. Rubin, Henry S. "Phenomenology As Method in Trans Studies." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies. 4.2 (1998). Print.

19 Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

32 One caveat to this statement, and phenomenology by extension, is the belief in understanding “essences”. Present day Trans Studies stands at a turning point in defining and disciplining its 20 Stonewalled : Police Abuse and Misconduct against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the U.S. subject. In turn, there is a risk in defining a true essence of a true subject in the produced cisgender Washington, D.C: Amnesty International, 2005. and transgender binary. As described by Eric A. Stanley in his article “Gender Self-Determination”, I uploads/2011/01/StonewalledAI.pdf am for a critical trans politics that makes space for 21 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Lesbian, multiple embodiments and expressions. Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate 33 Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Robert D. Cumming. Violence in 2013. New York City Gay and Lesbian “The Encounter with the Other”. The Philosophy of Anti-Violence Project Inc. Released 2014. Jean- Paul Sartre. New York: Random House, 1965. Print. vreport_final.pdf 22 “It’s war in here”: A Report on the Treatment of Transgender and Intersex People in the New York State Men’s Prisons. Sylvia Rivera Law Project, 2007.

34 Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Print.


6 Although Stanley is speaking of Hate Crime Legislation in this work, his critique applies here to the limits of quantifying violence and death during Transgender Day of Remembrance. Print.

17 Pérez, Roy. “Mark Aguhar’s Critical Flippancy”. Bully Bloggers. August 4, 2012. http://


2 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2013. New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project Inc. Released 2014. hvreport_final.pdf


35 Although Fanon is speaking directly to the colonial condition of being black, I extend his analysis to the fixed nature of being racialized as 23 Transgressive Policing: Police Abuse of LGBTQ Communities of Color in Jackson Heights. Make the Road non-white. New York, 2012. 36 Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender 9 Herman, Jody L.; Haas, Ann P.; Rodgers, Philip L. MRNY_Transgressive_Policing_Full_Report_10.23.12B.pd Constitution: An essay in phenomenology and Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and feminist theory”. The Feminism and Visual Culture f Gender Non-Conforming Adults. eScholarship, Reader, Amelia Jones ed. London: Routledge, 2003. University of California, 2014. Internet resource. Print 24 Crabapple, Mary. “New York Cops Will Arrest You for Carrying Condoms”. Vice, March 5, 2013. http:// 10 It’s important to note that 76% of respondents 37 I want to be cautious with this connection identify as white and 88% of respondents have some because of the twofold peril in connecting theory carrying-condoms college college, a college degree, or graduate degrees. of performative acts to the lives of transgender This over represents white people and people with an 25 Strangio, Chase. “Arrested for Walking While Trans: an women. Firstly, that transgender women can serve education, which do not represent the reality of as an static object for academic theorization. I Interview with Monica Jones”. American Civil Liberties transgender women of color (Herman et al. 5). want to fight against any impulse to use Union, April 2, 2014…. transgender women as purely a theoretical ... Aguhar, Mark. moment because it perpetuates the thoughts of reform-hiv-aids- reproductive-freedom-womensnon-existence and object existence of trans rights/arrested-walking 12 Gender pronouns for Mark range between genderwomen. Secondly, I want to be careful because the queer and transgender identities. I want to refute to discipline her in death by exclusively using one pronoun 26 Gan, Jessi. “‘Still in the Back of the Bus’: Sylvia Rivera’s concept of performative acts is based on a dual gender gender existence that disciplines Struggle”. The Transgender Studies or another, as she was fluid in both. according to what one performs to be on this Reader 2. New York, NY: Routledge, 2013. Print. gender-binary system that also functions along 13 Aguhar, Mark. “BLOGGING FOR BROWN GURLS”. the cisgender and transgender binary. 27 Lady, Chablis, and Theodore Bouloukos. Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand 38 Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phenomenology: 14 “Mark Aguhar – Rest in Power”. Bossy Femme: Pretty Empress of Savannah. New York: Pocket Books, 1996. Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham: Duke Print. Assertive. March 3, 2012. http:// University 28 Newman, Toni, and Kevin Hogan. I Rise: The Transfor- Press, 2006. Print. mation of Toni Newman. Hollywood, Calif: SPI Produc15 Craig. “Mark Aguhar 1987-2012”. Cubist Literature. 39 Lugones, Maria. "Heterosexualism and the tions LLC, 2011. Print. March 13, 2012. http:// Colonial / Modern Gender System." Hypatia. 22.1 29 Mock, Janet. Redefining Realness: My Path to aguhar-1987-2012/ 186-209. Print. Womanhood, Identity, Love & so Much More. New York: Atria Books, 2014. Print. 16 Thibault, Simon. “The work and death of Mark 40 Cacho, Lisa M. Social Death: Racialized Aguhar”. Daily Xtra: Everything gay, every day. March Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the 13, 2012. New York: New York University Press, work-and-death-mark-aguhar 2012. Print.


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