Copyright © 2016 the individual writers and artists. Paradigm Shift—an anthology of LGBTQIA+ themed poems, essays, visual art, and resources created by students, faculty, and staff—is a joint production of Out-Space and the WCC Poetry Club at Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI. Ember Plummer edited the anthology. Zachary Baker, Tyler Wettig, and Tom Zimmerman served on the editorial board. The hard-copy anthology was produced using Microsoft Publisher. Layout: Tom Zimmerman. Front-cover design: Tyler Wettig. Back-cover club logos: Alex Zoltowski. Digital edition produced by Tom Zimmerman.
A safe space for all LGBTQIA+ and our Allies. Feel free to drop by our resource table, which is held every Wednesday, 12:00-3:00 pm, on the first floor of the Student Center, too! Winter 2016 Meetings: Every Wednesday. 3:00-7:00 pm, in LA 261. https://www.facebook.com/OutSpaceWCC
WCC Poetry Club Meetings are in the Writing Center, LA 355 Fridays @ 5 pm in Fall & Winter Fridays @ 1 pm in Spring/Summer All Welcome firstname.lastname@example.org http://wccpoetryclub.wordpress.com https://www.facebook.com/groups/wccpoetryclub
------------------ 2 ------------------
Paradigm Shift An Out-Space / WCC Poetry Club Anthology Edited by Ember Plummer Ember Plummer Mary Mullalond Krysta White Kayla Cook Ember Plummer Tom Zimmerman Kelsie Mia Tamblyn Lylanne Musselman Tyler R. Wettig Tyler R. Wettig Aidan McLogan Ember Plummer Krysta White Mary Mullalond Chris Wheeler Christina Shannon Krysta White Bryan Wilson Ember Plummer
Poems on being forced to check a box Coming Out Youâ€™re Out They Said doing it for attention Spectra/Spectral No Where. Straight Aâ€™s Bleeding David Robert Stereotypes reflections of a stereotype Closets Possessed by demons 15 Always My Voice String and Needle until there are no more graves to dig, vigils to hold, kids to mourn, or poems to write.
4 6 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 29 30
Essays Paradigm Shifts: A Fragment Not a Social Construct
Out-Space Out-Space Out-Space Out-Space Ember Plummer Corey Myers & Ember Plummer
Resources A Dozen Things Everyone Should Know about Transgender People 9 Tips on Coming Out Tips If Someone Comes Out to You Tips on Being a LGBTQIA+ Friendly Classmate Resources Paradigm Shift Glossary A Pledge for Allies
40 42 44 46 48 51 57
Emmalene Meyers Catherine Mullalond Krysta White Christina Shannon Ember Plummer Herbert R. Schroeder Zachary Baker Mark Winn and Jeff Risinger Alex Zoltowski
Visual Art 5, 23, 45 7 9 11, 27 13, 19, 21, 34, 39 16, 41 25 31 47, back-cover club logos
William Bullard Christina Shannon Out-Space
------------------ 3 ------------------
Ember Plummer on being forced to check a box there are kids too much for this binary but, god, does it try to break us— pigeon hole edges too sharp and hands too firm around upper arms, pulling, trying to find the real person, or the part of us they can rip at until we’re picture perfect. not freaks or sideshows or something they can poke at through the bars. see, they love laughing but they’d rather we stop looking for attention. be normal. there are kids too much for these binaries and we’re being pulled apart and my seams aren’t strong enough for this. i’m a whole person, i swear, but there are cracks i’ve kept hidden and the scissors aren’t hidden well enough. i’ll start ripping my stitches. little demon on my shoulder says i can become your binary. (little angel says, remember the blood. says, scars aren’t always stitches. says, you are real already.) there are kids trying to survive in pieces, and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, i’m ripping these stitches out but the insides are all tangled up so, which cord do i cut? pink or blue? ------------------ 4 ------------------
but, there are kids too purple for this. kids too green for this, too red, too neon fucking orange and we’re gonna light up the sky. too bright for this earth and there are kids too bright for you to look at, stop looking at us, get your hands off me— you can’t find my seams anymore.
Dripping Dense Clouds
------------------ 5 ------------------
Mary Mullalond Coming Out Coming out in the classroom— that sharp turn of the head in response. I never miss it. Every semester, I do it again. Time always stops when coming out. The pull in my stomach, the tightness in my shoulders, the holding of breath. Maybe things do ease over time. Saying wife saves so many fumbled descriptions. Before that I relied on my clothes, my hair, my attitude to be out for me. I get better at faking it—at saying it like it’s no big deal Like my stomach’s not pulling and my shoulder’s not tight, I’m breathing normally: I drive a car, I live in a house, I have a wife. But still, time stops. And there’s that sharp turn of the head.
------------------ 6 ------------------
------------------ 7 ------------------
Krysta White You’re Out Well everyone is different But what if I told you that I wasn’t myself? I look down, frustration. Someone steps up to bat. My head snaps back at the strike of the familiar question “Are you a boy or a girl?” I take off, face flushed. How do I know? What do I say? I’m me. Not a “doll”, a “hun” or a “dear” For real? Here come the tears. All I can guarantee is that I am human I stop at first base. Still got time to rush on Oh, You want to play? Alright, I’ll be Simba or Mickey, Shrek or Link That’s where I see me; Refusing to be the princess Romeo slides into second holes ripped into the knees of my jeans A cringe, a shudder, hopefully a teleportation? No, I won’t take purse and I am NOT wearing that You can’t make me! I’d rather be jogging past third base naked.
------------------ 8 ------------------
If only some deposits could detach Please pass the scissors so I can cut them off! Heading home now, just in time Taking a deep breath, I smile. “A girl,” my mouth says “..but I wish I were a boy” says my mind. Oh well. another home run, the last of today’s bout. But oh how I know so deep in my heart It would have felt good to be called out.
This drawing brings to life lyrics from a song that is very special to me. "Endless Night" was originally sung by Jason Raize, who played the role of adult Simba in the original cast for award-winning Broadway musical The Lion King. In 2004, Jason took his life, and there are speculations that he did so because he was gay. The music for this song is by Lebo M, Hans Zimmer, and Jay Rifkin, and the lyrics were written by Julie Taymor. —Krysta White
------------------ 9 ------------------
Kayla Cook They Said They said they knew what I was, so they told me. I realized they were wrong, so I told them the truth. They say I am lying. I realize I was wrong too, so I told them the truth. They said I am lying, it must have been a phase. This must be too. They say I changed my mind once, so I will change it again. I will see later, as soon as I get older. It will come. I tell them it won't, how much older do I have to be? Even if I do change, it doesn't change the now. This is me. They say it's just missing, you just need some help. I say it was never there, there is nothing to get back. They say But it's required. Otherwise you aren't human; a being void of emotion maybe robot or alien a heartless being of ice maybe psychopath or.... a serial killer
------------------ 10 ------------------
But this is not what I am Feeling this love appears nowhere in the definition of human It's normal to not love girls It's normal to not love guys If individually possible - both can be too. There's more to that love from love of a book to love of work And even without there is no doubt that they will be fine missing out on this one experience will not mean everything is in vain For even without desire there is still happiness
------------------ 11 ------------------
Ember Plummer doing it for attention i have trouble becoming what i have not drowned in— so i hold my breath. think, maybe, when it starts to hurt, the pain will turn into character development or happiness or a good fucking college application. but i don’t wanna use this, ya know? my identity and the slurs, don’t wanna be a symbol… except when i do, that leo, lion, give-me-attention shining through. wanna be a fucking queer god or goddess or deity—whatever i’m feeling that day. call me mythical beast breaking free and i’m gonna— stop breathing. slowly transform—burn, if you will, become cliché, phoenix, holy, i am new and powerful. ready to breathe again.
------------------ 12 ------------------
Tom Zimmerman Spectra/Spectral The secrets of my nights and days, they hide, prismatic, shadowed. Soul, or something like it—hormones, vertigos—all roiling. Ride the wind, a witch. That blood-drip on your spike? The moon. The grass on fire, the storm on skin. Our city shimmers, kisses brim with beer. My hand’s white spider down your pants. You’re thin as milk and blue as I, my eyes. But fear eats only edges: succulent the pip, the iridescent center gleaming just for us. Your ass-print at the ocean’s lip. Remembered sad quintessence of the dust. Ambiguous, of course, but something on this page could save your life. A ghost. A dawn.
------------------ 13 ------------------
Kelsie Mia Tamblyn No Where. Sun tinted afro; couple freckles on his nose; honey eyes; no where to go This little boy has no home "Who are your folks?" The little boy donâ€™t know He was born to this world He was thrown to the street He was bathed in rust, mud and deceit His mind is fragile in his time of need This little boy, out on the concrete This little boy, always feeling too weak He's thirsty for a touch or a hug He is only roaming for love; Found it in the dumpster punks The little boy with the blonde afro Now little boy is out on the streets shooting up dope The one who looks like he could've had a life, maybe not, I don't know He could've been a director of a five star showâ€Ś His dilated pupils would to anything for drugs Cause He was only roaming for love No luck; Honey eyes, and no where but the dumpster punks...
------------------ 14 ------------------
Lylanne Musselman Straight A’s The year The Beatles invaded America, my second grade teacher, Miss Emswiller, shared my love of the Fab Four. She brought Beatle card gum packets to school and gave them to my friend, Kim, and me. She let us stay inside during recess, listening to us gush and sing their songs, she laughing with us. I knew I was a favorite – she never gave me a bad grade in math, I passed her class with flying colors. My wrong math got red marked in third grade, cutting into my straight A’s. Upset, my mom searched my second grade math workbooks for clues. She found I had not been corrected when I put 2+2=5 or 2+2=8. For years I struggled with numbers – equations that didn’t add up. As I grew older, I’d see Miss Emswiller and her always sister together – biking, walking, shopping, never a man in sight. I never held it against my second grade teacher, though mom accused her of ruining my relationship with math. She wasn’t pleased when I did learn to put 2+2 together, and finally came out.
------------------ 15 ------------------
Tyler R. Wettig Bleeding David Forget the passion, the foreplay; my ideal idol is one in which the full, mysterious, gentle beauty of biology is carved in stone. I want to experience the climactic, speed-of-sound, intestine-spanning moment where life, magnificent creation, flashes like a lightning bolt before Michelangelo. I lust for an idol of promethean vigorâ€” shoulders broad, posture stoic, and a rack wide. I lust to be Michelangelo struck by lightning, falling off his scaffolding, perchance to say: now, I have lived!
Herbert R. Schroeder
------------------ 16 ------------------
Tyler R. Wettig Robert I weep at your demise, your perfect moment of rugburning desire. A cocked, wilting pistil ejecting petals of a forbidden seed sprouting not creation but contempt on those nights I’m sure you mused to Debussy. Those Manhattan street lamps below you, overbearing in their acceptance— no more than your darkroom, your world in grayscale— giving off more light than the begotten fruits of your irises like pots of gold at the end of your stream of negatives. *Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989), American photographer known for his controversial subject matter
------------------ 17 ------------------
Aidan McLogan Stereotypes Faggots sucking no sign of rest, Caressing body parts with finesse. Aids spreading, bible shitting homos. Lesbians licking vaginal lips, Hands grasping soft curved hips. Internet porn galore. Bisexual sluts slutting, Straight or gay buttfucking, Attraction around everyturn. Transvestites parading down glittered runways, Pussy or dick, vagina or penis?! Sex is everyone's business. Love, freedom, and privacy, Straight haters' piracy, Copyrighted for the God approved. What bigots think inside their minds, is not what properly defines. Yet still it binds Fellow queers, Amongst peers cannot express who they are, Or want to be.
------------------ 18 ------------------
Stereotypes, Are not in a dictionary, Yet imaginary, Constructed by haters like minded. Everyone forgets under the pussy, penis, and tits, there is blood, bones, and grit. We all are human together.
------------------ 19 ------------------
Ember Plummer reflections of a stereotype (akoiromantic, polyamorous, bisexual, girl-ish) i’m all bruised fingers and scraped knuckles lately. all everything the world has been throwing at me and nothing i made myself—lately i haven’t written enough. it feels a little like losing something and in the past few days i’ve met around five new people and developed at least ten new crushes. this is what i am, i think. i think i am somewhat made of all this love. down to my bones and in my skin—but is this loving even? though i call myself the type who does not but i am the type that does and wants none of it back and god, i just want them to touch me. those ten i was talking about earlier, and this could get self-destructive real fast, huh? i’m all give and give and give and i don’t remember half their names and i don’t want to bruise their fingers. don’t want to scrape their knuckles. not when i’m trying so hard to fix my own self and i am, not this, not this, too much love and sick when i get it back—i am not this. please, let me put my fists away. i’m ready to become myself. let me write something again.
------------------ 20 ------------------
Krysta White Closets Cramped in this dark space, thereâ€™s not a second to waste! But just one more hour, one more day, turns to one more month, one more year. I hear the house sounds, and I feel my heart pound. If I run, wonâ€™t it cease? No. Never. Though you see liberation beyond your chamber You cannot escape from between these hangers.
------------------ 21 ------------------
Mary Mullalond Possessed by demons Possessed by demons that’s how you explained myself to me. Really? Twenty years later and I’m still in disbelief. A sneaky, pointy-eared demon a foggy, spiritual satan creeped into my room one night and set up shop in my soul. Really? You, the little girl who looked up at me in 1st grade, and became my best friend You, who I imagined growing old with, spinsters living in a house by the sea You brought me to this program that told me if I prayed, begged, tried hard enough God would turn me straight. And I went, willingly. Not because I had any desire to straighten myself out but because I wanted to show you I respected you and your beliefs. I loved you. Ha! Foolish girl. Twenty years later and I’m still possessed by your demon. ------------------ 22 ------------------
------------------ 23 ------------------
Chris Wheeler 15 At 15 sitting at my computer talking to my best friend of one year finally made all of the pieces click transgender She explained to me everything that was going on inside of her head why none of the labels she had used and thrown away for the past year ever fit why she wasn’t a “gay man” she wasn’t a man she never was. never could be how her depression was triggered by this intense separation of her body and mind that came in waves of hatred and self loathing how she didn’t understand why for the longest time looking in the mirror was painful and all wrong. how she didn’t know what her name was yet but “boy” didn’t ever fit her it wouldn’t fit. How she’d understand if i’d never talked to her again because she had to be a freak to feel this way normal people were okay normal people bodies, their temples, warm homes of safety ------------------ 24 ------------------
Her never knowing that shame and terror had been my best friends denial my brother self hatred my shadow for 8 years now Iâ€™ve known that girl hasnâ€™t ever fit me.
------------------ 25 ------------------
Christina Shannon Always Tender bright hope spent unwisely on desireâ€™s bud lost in conversations circular never-ending. It was you, you say but I take the blame always the searing blame your validations not secured such as they were. In your absence I now fade to obscurity, I fade always fade. But no, I resist your neglectful inertia I remain despite your expedient retreat I declare myself real and tangibly alive always tangibly alive more than the sum of your salacious adorations. It was I, I say as your suffocating embrace I depart always I depart. I divine new hope tender bright hope better spent on the bud of self-acceptance always self-acceptance. Poised now to bloom ------------------ 26 ------------------
And on the fruit of my loss succulent sweet in the knowing without your validations I still matter always always I matter.
------------------ 27 ------------------
Krysta White My Voice Running through the crowd ducking and dodging the attacks Not bothering to defend myself Somehow I arrive home, but torn Never again will I lower my mask While I am under the public’s eye Society tells me who I am. Stepped on, ignored, left behind Stumbling to keep up Some whisper. It’s not true, I must be normal Shaping myself into one of them My friends tell me who I am. Love shouldn’t ever hurt Yet only under certain conditions Staying in the safe zones In order to avoid falling, falling into a deep pit void of forbearers’ love No individuality, just caution. My parents tell me who I am. Sprinting through the field, I got myself out! The creatures around me smile as I shout Complete bliss. I do not need anyone’s approval My Voice tells me who I am. ------------------ 28 ------------------
Bryan Wilson String and Needle We whisper like phantoms. We dance by ourselves. We wait for our moment. While sitting on shelves. The rest, they had made us… aware of our flaws. Amounting in hatred, cracked mirrors, and gauze. We’d say things alone like : “tonight's the night” What of our heroes? They’d stand and fight. —But— We whisper like phantoms. We dance by ourselves. We wait for our moment. While sitting on shelves. —We’ll stand up at some point— We’ll scream out like vultures! We’ll dance like we’ve won! We’ll shut out the world. And we will know fun.
------------------ 29 ------------------
Ember Plummer until there are no more graves to dig, vigils to hold, kids to mourn, or poems to write. for this, for everything, i am silent. i am candlelight vigils for a whole community and its graveyard. for its kids not yet in graves but getting there, whose hearts have long since given up, i am silent. (i am name tag telling you why i am silent, and a little rainbow ribbon, pinned to my shirt.) for this, for every one of the kids not yet in graves, i am silent. deep breaths and quiet exhales and fingers tapping on keys and a poem brewing in a hollow skull. i am their stories, preparing to be told. for these kids, for myself, i am silent, holding a storm between my teeth until it has become a disaster. then, when the empty has started to echo, when the monsters start to emerge from under the bed and out of the closet, my mouth will open. i am silent. but the storm is not.
------------------ 30 ------------------
“We both knew we were gay at very early ages. Both of us were around 4-5 when we knew. We're both very headstrong and we both somehow never believed our culture's stance that being gay was bad or wrong. We knew deep down that being gay was something that could make us strong and something to celebrate. Every time we faced adversity, we stood up for what was right and moved forward any way we could. We met each other 8 years ago and built a life together. We both look at how far our community has come since we were kids in the early 1980's and we're very proud to be part of such positive change.” —Mark Winn and Jeff Risinger
------------------ 31 ------------------
William Bullard Paradigm Shifts: A Fragment The United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, but all the Republican presidential candidates have declared that they are against gay marriage, and one even said the President does not have to follow the Supreme Courtâ€™s decisions; furthermore, a county clerk in Kentucky still refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Many teenagers are feeling safe to come out, even as young as 13; but a high school refuses to allow a gay teen to deliver a graduation speech in which he would talk about being gay; and gay teenagers in some places are being harassed. Colleges and universities have academic programs relating to Queer Studies, and academics are working with Queer Theory, and there are student organizations for LGBTQ students; furthermore, the World Health Organization stated that therapies to â€œcureâ€? gay people were a threat to health; but transgendered people are being killed. In American society, queer people have experienced progress with acceptance; however, acceptance is far from complete. Furthermore, there is a danger of backlashes, and that many queer people may not be aware of, because their vision is clouded by the emphasis on mainstream acceptance and on fighting for marriage equality, and the euphoria over success. Moreover, there is still present a need for an intensive queer perspective, that includes not stopping at incomplete acceptance. Backlashes have always been present whenever social progress has been made. During the more rapid contemporary phase of progress toward increased acceptance and in winning increased recognition of rights that queer people have made, there have already been backlashes. One severe example of this is the hasher treatment of queer people that has been enacted in Russia. What is more, it is probable that besides rebellion against the first African American president, the Tea Party and its associated constituents have formed to manifest rebellion against the advancement that queer people have made. Psychohistorian Lloyd deMause indicates that throughout the history of humankind, whenever a part of humankind makes a breakthrough, the older parts of mankind rebel against what s new. He indicates people have formed in groupings within societies, or of ------------------ 32 ------------------
societies, which he calls psychoclasses, that hold overarching common beliefs and a way of acting toward that world. He further indicates that psychoclasses of younger people have made the breakthroughs that bring social advancements. When breakthroughs are made, the old psychoclass(es), containing the old beliefs and ways of acting, rebel. As activist and author Delores Klaich points out, queer people need to be prepared to work with “powerful individual individuals and groups that seek to destroy what has been gained.” Moreover, as Dolores Klaich says, “Assimilation into a dominant mainstream has always been a thorny issue for minority groups seeking acceptance,” because this can, among other things, carry a “cost of jettisoning aspects of their lives that don’t fit the mold.” For many queer people, the celebration of gaining for queer people marriage equality and increased mainstream acceptance may be the celebration of abandonment of the real progress that has been defined by liberation activism and through Queer Theory. Gay activist Ryan Conrad contends that queer people must demand that “we do better than claim an equal stake in deeply inequitable cultural and civic institutions and that we instead demand something better, more just.” What Ryan points to is a perspective that says that there needs to continue to be work to actually change the “inequitable cultural and civic,” meaning patriarchal, constituents, and that this will bring an authentic place for queer people in the world, something that mainstream acceptance cannot. Queer people are experiencing a time of true change, and are experiencing more acceptance and increased recognition of rights. But this brings cost with it. There is a real danger of backlashes. But there is an equal danger of being overly satisfied with mainstream acceptance, because mainstream acceptance means being satisfied with living in continuing patriarchal society that can take away the acceptance that it grants. For many queer people, it would be more beneficial to maintain the intensive queer liberationist perspective that has long propelled the work for gay rights. Queer people would thus be more integrated with their authentic selves.
------------------ 33 ------------------
------------------ 34 ------------------
Christina Shannon Not a Social Construct Contrary to one persistent feminist position that came out of the women’s movement of the 1970’s, gender identity is not a social construct. This particular feminist theory concerning gender identity is based upon a form of political resistance to the mainstream, patriarchal perspective that biological gender differences justify their expedient assumption that women are innately inferior to men. That patriarchal theory asserts that women lack the natural capacities of intellect, emotional stability, and even physicality to ever be entrusted with leadership positions, be they roles in the bedroom, the boardroom, the battlefield, or elsewhere. These bigoted ideas were used, and are still being used to varying degrees by the patriarchy, to oppress women. They initially treated women as their fathers’ then husbands’ property. In modernity’s male-dominated societies, they attempt to limit women to essentially powerless roles as supporting players in their every relationship with men. It is no wonder that feminists rebelled against their assigned gender roles and the willfully misogynistic, sociological philosophy that claims women are the “weaker” sex, by their very nature, and that men possess an essential responsibility to form and fix those roles to fit women’s innate inferiority to men. In resistance to this misogynistic bias, however, the women’s movement, and feminists in particular (their justifiable politics aside), erroneously assert that gender identity is an artifice and expedient social construct invented by women’s oppressors. This gender-identity-as-socialconstruct theory isn’t faulty because feminists are wrong about the historical and on-going exploitation of women by men; it is due to one unconsidered but key factor. The error in ’70s feminist gender theory, which some feminists persistently cling to with the rabid tenacity of a tea-party congressman determined to obstruct progressive legislation, has nothing to do with whether or not patriarchal societies have historically constructed oppressive roles for women in order to maintain male privilege and socio-political domination. The historical evidence clearly verifies this particular aspect of feminist theory on gender roles. No, the error lies ------------------ 35 ------------------
in feminist assumptions that gender roles and gender presentation, which both are social constructs, are gender identity. The flaw in this reasoning is that gender identity is an independent variable not caused by or created out of social roles and presentation. Gender identity is innate; it is not learned through socialization or any other method. A growing number of scientists, in fact, now believe the accumulated evidence indicates that gender identity biochemically begins its formation in the womb and is irreversibly fixed in infancy, just as temperament and sexual orientation are. Like sexual orientation, gender identity isn’t a choice or a product of socialization or the way gender roles and presentation are socialized. It is true that socialization can have some measurable influence on how an individual perceives his or her own gender identity, but this does not fundamentally change their identity. At most, socialization, if intense enough, can have a powerful effect on the conscious, and even unconscious choices made in regard to gender role and presentation compliance with or resistance to the socially accepted norms in a particular culture. These norms, of course, vary from culture to culture and can even be cross-culturally opposed to one another. In fact, in nineteenth-century America, the color for newborn boys was pink, and for girls it was baby, or sky, blue—the precise opposite designations that persisted in the twentieth century for infants and young children. If, for example, a person identifies as female, but how her identity manifests itself in her desired roles and preferred presentation are socially and vigorously denied her, it doesn’t change her gender identity any more than it changes who she is. Her personality isn’t altered; only her choice to either hide or exhibit her personality, and to what extent of compliance or resistance to her society’s social norms—even to herself. This phenomena of self-denial—whether of sexual orientation or gender identity—is called being in the closet by the LGBT community (a specific, societal sub-group comprised of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people). Evidence indicates that, when confronted with overwhelming societal coercion to change one’s personality—which often means either sexual orientation or gender identity—it is an impossibility that typically allows for only two choices, other than suicide: either defy societal edicts or go in the closet and pretend to comply. The reason for this is that neither ------------------ 36 ------------------
sexual orientation nor gender identity is alterable; they are major components of the innate core personality and, contrary to feminist gender theory, not learned or socially constructed attributes. Myriad members of the transgender community, much like their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters before them, have been rigorously and senselessly tortured through what is euphemistically called reparative therapy, usually by unaccredited Christian counselors in vain attempts to repro-gram their victims (often the minor children of evangelical or fundamentalist Christians) to be transformed into non-transgender (aka, cis-gender) people, to be so-called “normal” people in our society. The designation of normal, which implies that transgenderism is abnormal, that it is an unnatural gender identity, is particularly insulting to the transgender community and lacks any scientific evidence to support this expedient belief that transgender people are either moral deviants or insane. In America, the largest and longest operating reparative therapy corporation, Exodus Inc., persecuted non-heterosexual and transgender children and adults over a thirty-year period, which started in the early 1980s. After 30 years in this highly questionable, therapeutic business, Exodus finally shut down operations and announced it had closed its doors permanently on June 19, 2013. The C.E.O. of this incorporated, Christian-based counseling service even apologized to the tens of thousands of victims they had subjected to reparative therapy over the three decades they were in business. He admitted that reparative therapy had been a complete failure. They caused far more suicides than supposed conversions, which were always superficial and often temporary. Since the biggest and most experienced organization practicing reparative therapy has conceded that they harmed their patients when they tried to force them to do what they were incapable of doing—that is, to change their sexual orientation or their gender identity—then perhaps the jury is in on the question of whether or not gender identity is a social construct. However, Exodus Inc., is not the only organization to reach this same conclusion. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) have nothing to say in regard to moral standing, but they both support the preponderance of scientific evidence that indicates that neither ------------------ 37 ------------------
non-heterosexual orientation nor non-cis-gender identity are mental disorders, or forms of insanity. The APA’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) once listed both of these innate personality traits as mental disorders. However, in 2013 the APA reclassified transsexuality* in the DSM-5 (the current edition). Neither condition is still classified as a mental disorder, the classification of mental disorder for non-heterosexual sexual orientations having been dropped in an earlier edition of the DSM. “Individuals with gender dysphoria have been reported across many countries and cultures” (APA). This indicates that transgenderism (having a gender-identity that is incongruent with one’s primary sexual characteristics) is not the result of cultural socialization since gender dysphoria occurs cross-culturally. The APA also recognize that gender dysphoria can be a debilitating symptom for those who suffer from transsexuality and that the only effective treatment in adulthood is Cross-sex Hormone Treatment (CHT) and/or Gender Confirming Surgery (what is called Sex-reassignment Surgery by clinicians, and often a sex-change operation by the laity). Illustrating that transgenderism is not a choice, much less a frivolous life-style choice, as some uninformed detractors contend, the APA also states in the DSM-5 that: “Adolescents and adults with gender dysphoria before gender reassignment are at increased risk for suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide.” The importance of this, in regard to the question of whether or not gender identity is a social construct, should stand on its own merit as self-evident. Both the AMA and the APA have thus conceded that gender identity is a psychiatrically unalterable aspect of one’s personality, which means that it cannot be either learned or unlearned, by any means—from socialization to torture. The good news for old-school feminists who still cling to their erroneous gender theory is that even though gender identity is innate, it does not negate their accurate assessment of socially constructed gender roles and presentation being expediently promoted by misogynistic members of the patriarchy in our society in order to subjugate women. The preponderance of the evidence clearly indicates *Transsexuality is a sub-set, gender-identity classification within the classification spectrum of Transgenderism. Transsexuality is clinically differentiated because of its severity of gender dysphoria, which requires hormonal and/or surgical, sex-reassignment remedies.
------------------ 38 ------------------
that this portion of feminist gender theory is accurate and true. That discussion, however, lies outside the parameters set for this particular examination of the facts concerning whether or not gender identity is a social construct. And the facts speak loud and clear: gender identity is not a social construct. Works Cited American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
------------------ 39 ------------------
A Dozen Things Everyone Should Know about Transgender People 1. A person’s transgender identity is not a “lifestyle choice.” They were born this way. It is who they are. Though they may make decisions regarding their presentation or choice to come out, their identity itself is not a decision. 2. Respect a person’s privacy. Don’t ask about someone’s genitals or other invasive personal questions. 3. Don’t assume every transgender person wants to have gender-confirming surgery. 4. Gender neutral singular pronouns such as “they” are real and have a long history of use in English. Respect the pronouns a person identifies with, whether they are he, she, they, or otherwise. 5. Gender is a spectrum, not a binary, and some people are fluid within the spectrum. (See Glossary, page 51, for more information) 6. Gender dysphoria is often experienced by transgender people, though not necessarily all. Dysphoria is a range of intense negative feelings regarding someone’s body/expression and how they match or don’t match with gender identity. 7. Don’t assume a person’s gender. Looks, voice, and body language can be deceiving. Ask what pronouns someone uses. 8. Scientific evidence indicates that gender identity is innate, while gender presentation is made up of cultural beliefs. 9. Accessibility of accurate information about transgender and nonbinary identities allows many more people to find the labels and communities they identify with. These are not fads, but results of widespread education.
------------------ 40 ------------------
10. There are many forms of discrimination that disproportionately affect transgender people, especially transgender people of color, including housing, employment, and personal safety or security. 11. Questioning is a normal process of realizing your identity and determining when or if it’s safe to come out. This does not mean transgender people are ever “confused” or wrong about their identity. 12. All-gender or gender-neutral bathrooms are important for the safety of transgender individuals, both in regards to outside harassment and internal dysphoria. They are also an inclusive option for those who don’t identify with binary genders.
Herbert R. Schroeder
------------------ 41 ------------------
9 Tips on Coming Out 1. Be safe. If it is not safe to come out in your country, state, community, school, work, or home, you don't have an obligation to come out. You can choose to wait until it’s safe, after attitudes and laws have changed, or you can move out and be independent. Until that time, your safety is the first priority. Fortunately, with the continued work of LGBTQIA+ advocates, the world is getting better and safer for all of us. 2. Test the waters. This is one way to check if it is safe to come out to someone; see how they feel about LGBTQIA+ issues. For example, you might ask them “Did you have any gay kids in your high school?” Or you could ask them questions about current events that involve LGBTQIA+ concerns. Their responses should give you a sense of how supportive they may or may not be of you. 3. Build a support system. Everyone needs a strong group of people they can count on, regardless of LGBTQIA+ status. Develop friendships with people that respect and love you for who you are. 4. Be prepared to educate. When coming out, especially to parents or guardians, they may be worried about your safety, AIDS, or your spiritual life. Furthermore, if you come out as something other than lesbian or gay, they may not even know the term with which you identify. It can be helpful to have a list of websites (some good ones are in the Resources section of this anthology, page 38). Remember: what people don’t understand, they often fear. Additionally, they may have been exposed to misinformation or stereotypes about the LGBTQIA+ community. 5. Be patient. Upon first coming out, your family and friends might not be supportive. Be firm about who you are, but give them time. Eventually, some will come around. No matter what, ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND RESPECT. In tough times, look to your support system and friends in the LGBTQIA+ community for encouragement. ------------------ 42 ------------------
6. It’s a process. Once they’ve come out to a few people, a lot of LGBTQIA+ folks start to feel impatient and want to come out to everyone. Coming out gradually can get tedious, but it gives you more control of the situation. It’s your choice. Best of luck. Know that each time you come out it should get a little easier. 7. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate your courage to be honest with yourself and others. Know that there are all kinds of fabulous LGBTQIA+ people who have made huge contributions to society: scientists, inventors, artists, actors, politicians, teachers, social workers, sports stars, musicians, war heroes, and social justice advocates. You are part of a proud heritage! 8. Even if now is not the best time for you to come out to your larger social network, you may still find it safe and fulfilling to be able to express your LGBTQIA+ identity(ies) in a supportive group. You would be more than welcome at WCC Out-Space! Out-Space has many members that attend that are not out to various people in their lives. Therefore, we are used to helping members remain safe in their lives outside of club, while celebrating their LGBTQIA+ identity in club. Visit our website for meeting times and location: https://www.facebook.com/OutSpaceWCC 9. Visit The Trevor Project for more tips on coming out: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
------------------ 43 ------------------
Tips If Someone Comes Out to You Statistically chances are everyone knows someone that is LGBTQIA+, even if that person has not told you. When someone comes out, it can be a difficult conversation for everyone involved. It is a good idea to think through how to respond before that moment happens because at that time your mind may be racing and looking desperately for words. There’s no set script for the situation, but the following are some tips if someone comes out to you to ease the stress of the situation for everyone involved. 1. Stay calm. People in the process of coming out could get emotional. Take a deep breath. If you also get upset in the moment, it won’t help anything. Try to listen and understand their concerns. 2. Realize they are revealing a deep and important part of themselves. You have been trusted with something they may not be comfortable sharing with everyone, and you hold a responsibility to live up to that trust. 3. It is not about you. This is not the time or place for politics or religion. This is a personal experience for the person coming out. 4. Try to match them. If they present this information as a big deal, honor it as such. However, if the person coming out tries to be more casual about it, respect that with a simple phrase of acceptance and don’t turn it into more than the person wants. 5. Use their terms. Don’t apply a term that they haven’t expressed identification with. Ask for clarification if needed. 6. Respect their confidentiality. Coming out is a process, and they might not be or want to be out to everyone yet. Ask who knows and who they’re comfortable talking about it around.
------------------ 44 ------------------
7. Treat them the same as you always have. Although sexual orientation and gender identity are important parts of a person, they donâ€™t change who your friend or family member is. Theyâ€™re just sharing another part of themselves. 8. For more tips on being supportive if someone comes out to you, visit PFLAG: www.pflag.org
------------------ 45 ------------------
Tips on Being a LGBTQIA+ Friendly Classmate REMEMBER: I am not a spokesperson. Although I identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I am not a representative of the whole community or even parts of it. I am an individual. I speak for myself. Also, remember that if you hear anyone speak about the community or about personal experiences, do not assume that information, values, or beliefs apply to everyone in the community. I am complex. My gender and sexual orientation are important parts of my identity, but they are just part of who I am. Like you, I have dreams, values, hobbies, interests, beliefs, etc. Treat me like a whole person, not just a representative of the LGBTQIA+ community. Respect my pronouns. Don’t make assumptions based on my presentation. Ask me what pronouns I prefer and try to use them. If you mess up, apologize sincerely but briefly. It is not my job to educate. My identity doesn’t require me to explain myself or my community. Many resources are available, including the internet, that you can access without having to put me or members of my community on the spot. If you ask questions, be respectful. If you are not sure if it’s polite to ask me a specific question, give me an easy out, like “I don’t want to be rude and if this is uncomfortable, you don’t have to answer, but I was wondering….” Or, better yet, if you are curious and think your question might be offensive, simply Google it. It is not a choice. You don’t have to support me, but please don’t disrespect me. Don’t say things like “I don’t accept your lifestyle, but I respect you as a person.” I am part of what is normal. Well, as much as any of us are. Moreover, I am not weird or gross and neither is anything I do regarding gender or sexual expression. LGBTQIA+ experiences have been a part of the human experience since the beginning. ------------------ 46 ------------------
The fight continues. Just because the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage does not mean that LGBTQIA+ individuals have equality in America. The Supreme Court ruling didnâ€™t end LGBTQIA+ discrimination. In most places in the U.S., it is legal to fire someone, refuse housing to someone, or deny joint adoption to someone that is LGBTQIA+. We would love you to become an ally and support us in this fight. Open your mind, open your heart. I am not looking for just tolerance, acceptance, or approval. I want my identity
------------------ 47 ------------------
Resources Because of historic and continued discrimination, LGBTQIA+ individuals are at a higher risk for homelessness, isolation, physical and emotional abuse, physical assault, poverty, and suicide. If you or someone you care about is in need of help, please do not hesitate to seek assistance. Safe Spaces to Be You Out-Space, Washtenaw Community College’s LGBTQIA+ club. Please visit our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/OutSpaceWCC/ for meeting times and room numbers as they are subject to change each semester. The Jim Toy Community Center provides information, education, social events, and advocacy by and for the Queer and Ally community in the Washtenaw County area. Visit their website to find out more: http://jimtoycenter.org Pride Zone is for people 13-20 years old: http://ozonehouse.org/programs/pridezone.php Riot Youth: another safe space for youth: http://neutral-zone.org/riot- youth/ UM Spectrum: https://spectrumcenter.umich.edu/ Gender Explorers meets on the second and fourth Monday of the month from 8 pm until 10 pm. It is in the Spectrum Center on the 3rd floor of the Michigan Union in downtown Ann Arbor. Contact Seth Best at (734)585-4787 or Christina Shannon at (734)323-1855. Corner Health has an LGBTQIA+ meeting for youth every 3rd Monday from 4-7 p.m. http://www.cornerhealth.org/?module=Page&sID=lgbtq-health Kicked Out? Need Help Working Through Conflict With Your Parents/Guardians? Ozone House’s 24-hr. Helpline (734) 662-2222. Ozone House may be able to help with counseling and/or temporary housing. http://www.ozonehouse.org/ ------------------ 48 ------------------
Having Issues around Coming Out? The Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386 or http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ Are You Having Suicidal Thoughts/Feelings? Please seek help immediately. A great national agency that specializes in LGBTQIA+ issues, including suicide is The Trevor Project. Call their 24-hr Helpline at (866) 488-7386. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ The University of Michigan Psych ER is located at 1500 Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. (734) 936-5900. For additional information, including a clear list of when you should go to the UM Psych ER, visit their website: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/findingvoice/um_psych_er If you are transgender, Trans Lifeline is a great resource: (877) 565-8860. http://www.translifeline.org/ Medical Help Are you between the ages of 12-25 and need to see a LGBTQIA+ friendly physician? If so, contact The Corner Health Center at (734) 484-3600. If you are transgender, they may even be able to help with hormone replacement therapy. For a full listing of their services, go to their website: http://www.cornerhealth.org/ Meeting Your Basic Needs Simply dial 211 to reach the United Way’s 24-hr helpline. The United Way can help you find needed local resources, like food, shelter, clothing, and more. Creative Expression in a Friendly Space WCC Poetry Club, Washtenaw Community College’s creative writing club: https://wccpoetryclub.wordpress.com/ ------------------ 49 ------------------
Be Safe. Get STI and HIV Tested HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC): http://hivaidsresource.org/ Do You Want To Learn More About LGBTQIA+ Issues Because You Have an LGBTQIA+ Child, Family Member, or Friend? Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) at www.pflag.org Gender Explorers meets on the second and fourth Monday of the month from 8 pm until 10 pm. It is in the Spectrum Center on the 3rd floor of the Michigan Union in downtown Ann Arbor. Contact Seth Best at (734)585-4787 or Christina Shannon at (734)323-1855. Do You Want to Help LGBTQIA+ Individuals? Consider becoming an ally and donating time and/or funds to any of the above mentioned resources. Furthermore, consider becoming a member of Human Rights Campaign, America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality at http://www.hrc.org/ Need Additional Resources? Visit our Out-Space website: http://diversity.wccnet.edu/lgbtqa/lgbtqa-resources/ Or visit the Southern Poverty Law Center: https://www.splcenter.org/issues/lgbt-rights GLAAD: http://www.glaad.org/
------------------ 50 ------------------
Paradigm Shift Glossary Compiled and written by Ember Plummer NOTES FOR USE: Unless stated otherwise, default to using terms as adjectives. Many are offensive or dehumanizing as nouns. Use the term people have expressed as identifying with, even if their behavior or description might fit another definition. They know themselves best. Identities can overlap and combine in many ways. Don’t assume another aspect of someone based on what terms you know they use. Similarly, identities with the same prefix do not come in a package. This is not a comprehensive glossary, and a term not being included does not mean those who identify with it are not valid and important. Identities in italics are not inherently considered part of the LGBTQIA+ community unless their other identities intersect. LGBTQIA+ - acronym for the community at large. Stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and more. There are many variations ranging from the original LGBT to the broader LGBTQQIAP+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, and more). Lesbian - to describe women attracted to women. Butch - to describe lesbians (or other women attracted to women) who identify or present as more typically masculine. Only use if someone has expressed identification. Femme - to describe lesbians (or other women attracted to women) who identify or present as more typically feminine. Sometimes used by men attracted to men. Only use if someone has expressed identification. Gay - to describe someone romantically or sexually attracted to the same gender ------------------ 51 ------------------
as themselves: men/men or women/women as above. Sometimes also used by nonbinary people attracted only to other nonbinary people. Homoromantic - to describe someone romantically attracted to the same gender as themselves: men/men or women/women as above. Sometimes also used by nonbinary people attracted only to other nonbinary people. Same Gender Loving - to describe someone romantically or sexually attracted to the same gender as themselves. Used by Black/African American communities. Sometimes seen as Same-Gender Loving or Same-Gender-Loving. (Abbreviation: SGL) Down Low, as in “on the down low” - to describe men who may be heterosexual and be in relationships with women but are attracted to or have sex with men. Usually used by Black/African American communities. Sometimes used by white men. (Abbreviation: D/L) Straight/Heterosexual - to describe men attracted exclusively to women and women attracted exclusively to men. Generally meaning sexually and romantically, but not necessarily. Not often used by nonbinary people. Heteroromantic - to describe men romantically attracted exclusively to women and women romantically attracted exclusively to men. Not often used by nonbinary people. Bisexual - to describe people sexually attracted to both same and different genders. (The “two genders/both genders” label is rejected by the community.) (Abbreviation: bi) Biromantic - to describe people romantically attracted to both same and different genders. (The “two genders/both genders” label is rejected by the community.) (Abbreviation: bi) Transgender - to describe people who do not identify with the gender assigned at birth (i.e., “the m or f on the birth certificate”). (Abbreviation: trans) AFAB/DFAB - Assigned/Designated Female at Birth. ------------------ 52 ------------------
AMAB/DMAB - Assigned/Designated Male at Birth. CAFAB - Coercively Assigned Female at Birth. CAMAB - Coercively Assigned Male at Birth. MtF - Male to Female (not always the preferred term, ask before using). FtM - Female to Male (not always the preferred term, ask before using). Transsexual - an older term for transgender people, often used to refer to those whoâ€™ve started or completed their transition (not always the preferred term, ask before using). Dysphoria - a feeling of upset, unease, discomfort, or depression regarding someoneâ€™s body or expression and how it matches with their gender identity. Hormone Replacement Therapy - to describe the treatment of taking or injecting hormones that alter physical characteristics to match identity. Gender Affirming/Confirming Surgery - to describe surgeries that change the body to match identity. Applies to both top surgeries and bottom surgeries that pertain to genitalia, but also to gendered aesthetic aspects such as face shape or fat distribution. Note that Sex/Gender Change Surgery and Sex/Gender Transformation Surgery are inaccurate and often seen as offensive. Nonbinary - to describe the spectrum of people who do not identify with either binary gender. Nonbinary people may consider themselves transgender, but the label is also its own umbrella. Agender - to describe people who do not identify with any gender. Genderqueer - to describe people who identify with neither, both, or something outside of the binary genders. Bigender - to describe people who identify with two genders, not necessarily to the same extent and not necessarily the two binary genders. Trigender - to describe people who identify with three genders, not necessarily to the same extent and not necessarily including the two binary genders. Two-spirit - to describe people who identify with mixed gender roles and identifications, or feel as if they have both a feminine and masculine spirit. Only for Native Americans to use. ------------------ 53 ------------------
Genderfluid - to describe people whose gender identity shifts and changes between two or more genders, not necessarily including binary genders. Demiboy - to describe people who identify partly or mostly as a boy, but also have another, undefined part of their identity. Demigirl - to describe people who identify partly or mostly as a girl, but also have another, undefined part of their identity. Neutrois - to describe people who identify as a neutral or null gender. Androgyne - to describe people who identify as a mix of feminine and masculine, not necessarily in the same amounts. Cisgender - to describe people who fully or dominantly identify with the gender assigned at birth (i.e. â€œthe m or f on the birth certificateâ€?). (Abbreviation: cis) Queer - a reclaimed slur, often used as an umbrella term for people within the community (though its use as an umbrella is criticized). Not for use by people outside of the community except in academic contexts or applied to people who have expressed preference. Questioning - to describe people in the process of understanding their identities and what labels they do and no not want to use. Intersex - to describe people with any variation of internal or external genitalia, chromosomes, hormones, or secondary sex characteristics that differs or falls between/outside of the dyadic assumed norms. IAFAB - Incorrectly/Intersex Assigned Female at Birth IAMAB - Incorrectly/Intersex Assigned Male at Birth FAFAB - Forcibly Assigned Female at Birth (reserved for those who have experienced nonconsensual genital surgery). FAMAB - Forcibly Assigned Male at Birth (reserved for those who have experienced nonconsensual genital surgery). Intergender - to describe people whose experience of their nonbinary gender is related to their being intersex. Dyadic/Non-intersex - to describe people whose internal or external genitalia, ------------------ 54 ------------------
chromosomes, hormones, and secondary sex characteristics are accepted within the assumed dyadic norms. Both terms have criticism from the intersex community, so best current use outside of the community is as shown to acknowledge the discussion. Asexual - to describe the spectrum of people who do not experience or experience limited amounts of sexual attraction. Does not define sexual behavior or level of sex drive. (Abbreviation: ace) Demisexual - to describe people who experience sexual attraction only after having an emotional bond with someone. (Abbreviation: demi) Gray-sexual - to describe people who only experience sexual attraction in rare, unpredictable circumstances. (Abbreviation: gray-ace) Akoinesexual/Akoisexual/Lithsexual - to describe people who experience sexual attraction with no desire for or an aversion to returned attraction. Akoine/Akoi- are preferred because of issues regarding the lith- prefix. WTFsexual/Quoisexual - to describe people who cannot differentiate between sexual and platonic, or sexual and romantic attraction, and therefore donâ€™t know what they experience. Aromantic - to describe the spectrum of people who do not experience or experience limited amounts of romantic attraction. Does not necessarily define romantic behavior or types of relationships had by individuals. (Abbreviation: aro) Demiromantic - to describe people who experience romantic attraction only after having an emotional bond with someone. (Abbreviation: demi) Gray-romantic - to describe people who only experience romantic attraction in rare, unpredictable circumstances. (Abbreviation: gray-aro) Akoineromantic/Akoiromantic/Lithromantic - to describe people who experience romantic attraction with no desire for or an aversion to returned attraction. Akoine/Akoi- are preferred because of issues regarding the lithprefix. (Abbreviations: akoiro, lithro) WTFromantic/Quoiromantic - to describe people who cannot differentiate between romantic and platonic, or romantic and sexual attraction, and therefore donâ€™t know what they experience. (Abbreviation: quoiro) ------------------ 55 ------------------
Pansexual - to describe people sexually attracted to people regardless of gender, though, of course, not indiscriminately. (Abbreviation: pan) Panromantic - to describe people romantically attracted to people regardless of gender, though, of course, not indiscriminately. (Abbreviation: pan) Polyamorous - to describe people who practice or desire relationships with more than one person, where everyone is informed and has consented. Can also be used to describe the relationships themselves. (Abbreviation: poly, which can also apply to other poly- words) Queerplatonic - to describe relationships where the emotional intensity or attachment is beyond friendship. Not romantic by definition, but can be sexual. Quiroplatonic and quirkyplatonic are alternatives for non-queer individuals or those who don’t use the term. Queer Theory - a type of critical theory based in evaluating the themes of queerness both in texts and within the world. Emerged from queer studies and feminist studies, and so overlaps in many areas of focus. Heteronormativity - the cultural worldview that assumes, believes, and is built on the belief and assumption that all people are straight and desire monogamous heterosexual partnerships. Intersectionality - the ways in which different systems of oppression and privilege overlap, creating different experiences for all members of all communities. Ally - someone who actively supports and fights for rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. (See: “A Pledge for Allies,” page 57)
------------------ 56 ------------------
Corey Myers and Ember Plummer A Pledge for Allies 1. Allyship is not a fixed point or status. . . . Allyship will be my first step, not my last. 2. Allyship is a commitment to a process. . . . Identifying as an ally doesn’t imply that I know everything. Sometimes, I will say things that deeply offend people. I will acknowledge their feelings. I will say I’m sorry. I will not make excuses. I will learn from it. 3. Allyship > My feelings and my pride. . . . I will acknowledge my mistakes and become better. 4. Allyship doesn’t come with a prize. . . . I will not expect members of an oppressed group to shower me with gratitude. I will not be offended if they’re indifferent to my participation. They don’t owe me anything. However . . . 5. Allyship is an essential supportive role. . . . Those that endure a system of oppression understand that oppression best. They should be the ones that decide what needs to change. I will be there to assist. 6. Allyship is an attempt to express empathy. . . . I cannot really know what it’s like to struggle as a member this oppressed community. I’m not of the community. I don’t share the identity. What I can do is try to empathize and make it clear that I’m not suggesting that I know. 7. Allyship ≠ No suffering. . . . My life isn’t perfect, but that will not stop me from acknowledging the struggles of other people. 8. Systems of oppression do not exist in a vacuum independently of one another. . . . I acknowledge that no matter what communities I am part of, I still benefit from the privileges of the dominant groups I am part of. 9. Allyship ≠ Apathy. . . . I will not say, “You people don’t bother me.” This kind of support implies that members of oppressed communities need my permission to struggle or exist. Stating that I don’t care will not change anything. To be an ally, I must be an active participant in the struggle. 10. I will support all areas of social justice, but I may not be able to be an ally in all of them. I will stay conscious of intersectionality. Signed, _________________________________________________ Name
------------------ 57 ------------------
Paradigm Shift—an anthology of LGBTQIA+ themed poems, essays, visual art, and resources created by students, faculty, and staff—is a joint production of Out-Space and the WCC Poetry Club, at Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI.