Mad Trans Dreams

Visions and Resistance from outside Norms of Gender and Mental Health

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Responding to the anti-Muslim violence of the moment

Well, it’s been a little over a week since Trump came to office. Things were not okay for Muslims, immigrants, or people of color before he was in office. And things are worse now. In ways, shockingly worse. Many Muslim immigrants, among others, are already getting hurt–badly. I want to offer another post with ideas for action.

Again, to start, a disclaimer: I am one Muslim, and as a white U.S. citizen professional, born in the United States to U.S. citizen parents, I am one of the least vulnerable of all Muslims. Take my thoughts and suggestions as thoughts and suggestions from one person, not as truth, orders, “the voice of the community,” or anything else. But these are some of the actions that seem like good ideas to me, interspersed with ideas and perspectives from some of my Muslim friends and other community members. Suggestions for additions very welcome, especially from Muslims, people of color, and immigrants. And of course consider your own conscience, strengths, vulnerabilities, resources, and limitations in deciding which actions to take on.

  1. First and foremost, listen to Muslim immigrants in your own communities, and, if you can, do what they ask. Gently reach out to individuals you know and be willing to give whatever sort of support they want that you can handle giving, even if it seems “small.” This is really the most important thing. Tynan Power writes:

please don’t assume that all the Muslims you know are going to protests, leading organizing efforts, and eager to talk politics. I am witnessing many Muslims who are trying to just make it through the day, panicking, dealing with crises among family and friends, American citizens planning for how to safely leave the US if they have to. For many Muslims, the priority of the day is surviving and holding it together enough to get to work or school. Add to the stress we are under any intersectional identities: as queer or trans, as Black, as POC, as women, as people living with disabilities, as people living in poverty, and roles we play like caring for children or aging parents, supporting family in other countries, interacting as care providers (doctors, social workers, etc.) with people who are racist or Islamophobic … getting through the day may be all we can do….

So please: Do not assume everyone in your community feels safe and, when dealing with people more directly affected than I am, please be gentle and sensitive in how you convey your support and outrage. Ask how you can support them and, if you mean it, keep in mind it may not be (in that moment) “show up for a rally” but it might be “picking up takeout” so they don’t have to go out into a hostile-feeling community.

Another, A’isha Amatullah writes:

what muslims (esp. immigrant muslims and islamic organizations acting against these repressive measures) need from you is for you to listen to the needs of our communities and help in those ways, not make grand gestures that make you feel better about yourself.

people want to do sexy activism. they don’t want to do direct action protest (yet, but they say they will if a registry is instituted). they don’t want to drive folks to the immigration lawyer or the doctor or the masjid. they don’t want to help out with clothing or food donations. they are reluctant to donate money (if they have it) to organizations like cair and local masjids who are actually connected to immigrant muslims in the community and can provide direct service.

please listen and work towards doing effective activism, regardless of whether it is ‘sexy’ or makes you feel better about yourself. please actually contribute to things that will actually help immigrant muslims right now. please listen. please don’t assume you know what muslims need or that your way is the best way to help.

2. Support community organizations. As Muna Mire wrote in November, “[n]ow is the time to give money to the people defending Muslims against state sanctioned violence: CUNY Clear, DRUM, and Witness Against Torture are all groups doing good work on a smaller scale that anyone can support.” Above, A’isha recommended giving to CAIR or local masjids. Other places to consider include MPower Change; Arab American Association of New York; Muslim Justice League; Rahma; Karam Foundation; Queer Detainee Empowerment Project; Black Youth Project 100; Southerners on New Ground; Al-Qaws, Muslim Community Network, American Muslim Community Centers, and Families for Freedom.

3. Support Muslim, immigrant, and people of color-owned businesses.

From anonymous:

Want to show support but can’t come for protests? Health conditions/ family duty/ restricted mobility preventing you from showing up? Are you one of the marginalized in this situation and is this preventing you from showing up? Do you want to donate to all the organizations/people doing the work but are broke and just trying to make ends meet? Students? So many valid reasons and I hear you.

Here is what else you can do:

*Shop at your local Immigrant grocer/ Immigrant owned market.

*Buy that quick fix water/ chips whatever at you know that brown owned corner store- they’re everywhere!

*Buy that cotton candy from the most probably undocumented person selling it on their feet at the traffic intersection.

*If you eat out, this is your chance to try all that Immigrant owned “ethnic” food restaurants, we come from all over with variety of food/ gluten-free/ veg options that actually has some taste to keep you full and providing you enough nutrients to keep you through the next round of hunger games.

*Buy that fresh fruit from the street vendor for your daily vitamin D because the sun is done.

*A lot of immigrants are small business owners (contrary to the popular belief that they take jobs, they don’t stand a chance to get hired in the first place unless for less than min. wage) so this is your chance to find that Immigrant owned small business to spend your money, there are plenty of neighborhoods that have a variety of goods/ services to cater your needs.

*This list goes on but you should know where to find us, we are mostly visible or you can also spot us with an accent if you are lucky.

*Need something specific and can’t find a business? Ask your Immigrant friends and we have contacts to hook you up, our algorithms are magic cause we built algebra.

If the labor is Immigrant the money should support the Immigrants. Pledge to do this, until it is a habit. It shouldn’t cost you more and you get a boost of dopamine right after.

Show up in all possible ways! We are all around you and we also want assurance that you have our back. Don’t wait for a fancy article! We are running out of time.

4. Protest. Taking to the streets, the airports, the parking lots, or wherever else has value. It may help some targeted people know that they are not alone and forgotten. It may give more people courage to take action. It may help you connect with others, build relationships, and learn of more ways to act. It may pressure people in positions of power to rethink their positions. It may let people know about what is going on if they haven’t already heard. A list of actions happening today and in the next few days is here. If you are organizing a planned protest, check out the suggestions at #accessibleorganizingmeans. And try to be thoughtful about relative risk. If you are organizing an action with a bunch of non-Muslims, don’t plan a march in the middle of a Muslim neighborhood unless neighborhood organizations and people there have asked you to do so. Rather than supporting folks, it may end up leaving them to do deal with litter and  increased police presence.

5. Civil disobedience. Civil disobedience can sometimes work better than other forms of protest because it can attract more attention, increase the costs of carrying out unjust actions, and delay or even stop harm. It also often carries greater risk. Participants often expect to be arrested, fired from their jobs, or put in solitary confinement. Civil disobedience can be large or small, planned or spontaneous. It can be a police officer refusing to follow unjust orders, a janitor opening an emergency exit to let someone take shelter, a group of people staging a sit-in at a government building, a group of people chaining themselves in the way of a bus carrying immigrants scheduled for deportation, a group of people in prison refusing to line up for count until a sick person gets medical care, or any number of other things. An extraordinary movement, #Not1More, has been organizing civil disobedience to stop deportations for years. Another extraordinary movement, #BlackLivesMatter, has used civil disobedience among other tactics to disrupt business as usual and demand an end to state violence against Black people. To learn more about civil disobedience, listen to those who have done it before and check out online resources like the ones here and here.

6. Social media activism. Some people say that things like tweets and online petitions don’t matter. They certainly are not enough alone, but neither is any other single tactic. At its best, I think social media can do everything that live protests can do. Not1More often has important current petitions to support immigrant justice on their website. When it’s impossible to get through to elected officials in other ways, tweeting at them or commenting on their facebook pages may get some attention. Many people have been tweeting at #MuslimBan and #NoBanNoWall in the last few days to share information and mobilize. I have also heard a call for U.S. citizens to tweet supportive or even irrelevant messages at #UndocumentedAndUnfraid; apparently immigrants who have tweeted with that hashtag have started to get targeted. #IMarchwithLisa has become popular to show support for Linda Sarsour, a Muslim Palestinian American woman and community organizer who has been targeted by the right.

7. Bystander intervention. Try to help when violence unfolds around you, whatever the source. Muna Mire wrote: “When the time comes, use your own body to protest and vocally interrupt any prospect of renewing a registry; intervene with your body if you see someone experiencing harassment. Learn to de-escalate. Especially if you are visibly non-Muslim…. Begin to take risks in solidarity with your community; know that wherever you are, Muslims are a part of that community.” Many places are offering bystander intervention training, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Arab American Association of New York.

8. Open ears and open hearts. Particularly if you are a white U.S. citizen non-Muslim who is new to activism, try to stay present and let go of any guilt, defensiveness, or anger that may come up when others share frustration or critique. Many people who have been doing social justice work for a long time are having mixed feelings at the moment–feeling both thrilled that so many people are getting involved now and resentful that they weren’t involved earlier, when lives were already on the line. Try to listen calmly, focus on what you can learn, and keep taking action. People sharing frustration or critique are not the enemy, and wallowing in guilt never got anyone anywhere.

9. Take care with the information you share. Before explaining what a particular policy or decision means in practice, I recommend checking your information with multiple recent reliable sources. Also, I suggest not telling Muslims or people from targeted countries what to do. I have seen things floating around online saying that you should “advise” your friends in the U.S. from Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Lybia, or Sudan not to leave. It’s true that if they leave they very well may never be able to come back. But I would never tell a Yemeni friend whose mother is dying in another country that she should stay here. I would never tell a Somali friend that she shouldn’t consider fleeing somewhere outside the U.S. if conditions here just seem too unsafe.  I would offer to help her research and think through the risks. I would support her in whatever she decided to do. But I like to think I would have a smidgen of humility and not tell her what to do.

10. There are many other ways to take action, like boycotting companies that support and collude with the ban (uber is one target); supporting sanctuary efforts; pressuring Congress to counter Trump’s actions (one bill to support is S. 54, which would prohibit the creation of an immigration related registry based on religion, race, or several other factors); keeping an eye out for relevant proposed regulations here and commenting on them; and offering your skills (for lawyers who want to volunteer, one place to sign up is here; legal observers trained by the National Lawyers Guild are also in demand at many protests).

It’s also helpful to keep learning. In books, I recommend The Muslims Are Coming by Arun Kundnani, Arab and Arab American Feminisms edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, and Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia. In journalism, I recommend Muna Mire, and she recommends Aviva Stahl and Talal Ansari.

But again, most importantly, let’s all work on listening.





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Internalized ableism, white saviorism, depression, secondary trauma, and sustainability

CN:White person exploring racist thoughts and feelings, mentions and brief descriptions of torture; war; depression; nightmares; self-hatred; therapy; anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-trans  violence


As many of us consider how to sustain our passion and action under the Trump administration, I am considering the role of my own racism and internalized ableism in sustainability.

After 9/11/01, another Iraq War was threatened and Special Registration unfolded. Many other things were also happening, but those were two that I was aware of at the time and felt deeply invested in stopping.

Before the Iraq War began, I attended four anti-war protests. I called the president, my Senators, and my representative. I signed petitions. I attended a meeting or two of people planning anti-war actions. I did some direct action on my campus against military recruitment. For me, this was an unprecedented degree of political activism. Bush started the war anyway. And part of me thought–but I did all the right things! All the things that people asked me to do–turn up for protests, make calls, sign petitions, come to meetings–I did them. And a lot of other people did them too. And it didn’t matter. We lost. I was genuinely surprised and discouraged.

Then I stopped being so active on Iraq War issues, and frankly, I mostly stopped thinking about it. I remember clearly, though, that one night I had a vivid nightmare. I saw burned, flayed, cut bodies of Iraqi people laying on sand. They were alive, at that point, and moving weakly. They were being tortured by my own own government, in my name. I couldn’t not witness their pain. I couldn’t stop it. It was a terrible nightmare. And when I woke up, I realized that it was true, except that awake I could choose not to witness.

For Special Registration, I went to an event put on by an immigration law organization and another put on by DRUM (the South Asian Organizing Center, then known as Desis Rising Up and Moving). I had a small house party to raise money for DRUM. I showed up to several protests. The protests were small–tiny, actually. They were generally led by white lawyers, which might have had something to do with the size.  I wrote a paper about Special Registration for class. I probably circulated info about Special Registration to an email list or two. But Special Registration went on and on and on, and I ended up mostly feeling a sort of horror and impotent rage. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t talking about it. I couldn’t understand why there weren’t huge marches against it. I couldn’t understand how the government could have done it in the first place, or how our laws had gotten as wrong as they were. I resented almost everyone I met for not doing something about it, and myself for not doing something more effective about it or for maintaining action against it for longer.

That year or so period was also a difficult time for me personally. I was dealing with divorce–the end of a relationship with my first love–and I was also dealing with a lot of anti-trans discrimination. Many days, I spent long hours just staring at a wall, contemplating what was wrong with my life. I did not recognize depression as a part of my experience at that point.


I made plans about what I would do last weekend. I would work hard on Thursday, close my Chase bank account, and then help with set up and tear down at a bystander intervention training that night. The next day (inauguration itself) I would pack the court for Ramarley Graham, do some writing, give to reproductive justice organizations, set up regular donations for the rest of the year, make a sign for the women’s march, participate in the general strike by not working, and have a low-key dinner with friends. Saturday, I would attend the women’s march for 2 hours or so, and do some catch-up work. Sunday, I would connect with my friends in a little support group for action we have, and do more work. During the week, I would focus on work, with a few small online actions.

Things didn’t go exactly as I planned.

On Thursday, I was anxious and distracted, so I was not productive with work. I did close my Chase bank account, and I did do set up and tear down for the bystander intervention training. I enjoyed my volunteer role at the training and learned a little. But I also left with sore knees–we practiced physical techniques like heel stomps, and while I knew it was a risk to my body, I chose to participate in that exercise rather forcefully.

On Friday, I woke up more tired than when I went to sleep. I had a splitting headache. I lay in bed for an hour doing nothing at all. With what felt like Herculean effort, I managed to move to the couch. Because when depression flares up IBS sometimes does too, I spent my day physically moving between the couch and the toilet and emotionally moving between self-castigation and self-pity. It occurred to me that I had fucked up my meds. I did not pack the court. I did not write. I did not work. I did not set up donations. I did manage to make a sign, give to reproductive justice orgs, and eat dinner, although I was not exactly the life of the party. I watched Star Trek. I took my damn meds.

Saturday, I felt a little more functional. I still had a headache, but I felt less immobilized and more desperately sad. I met with a lovely group of people, most of whom I didn’t know, to go to the march. I said that I would probably duck out after two hours because my joints probably couldn’t handle more. I marched.

My back, knees, hip, and feet hurt after around 45 minutes. I stuck it out for another 45 minutes. Then I excused myself and limped to the train. The train was crowded. For a moment it looked like I would have a seat, but I gave it up to a young kid. I kept getting off and on the train in the hopes that I would find a seat on the next one. I didn’t. When I got off the train at my stop, I considered calling a car to get the rest of the way home, but it seemed too selfish and indulgent. On such a day, I should not be calling a car using some service I’m not sure treats workers well. On such a day, I should not be wasting money I could be giving away. So I limped home, collapsed into bed, and didn’t move for a long time. Later, I took a hot bath to ease some of the pain. The pain has slowly faded since then, so that I am almost back to normal today.

This week, as I have heard the news of horrifying executive action after horrifying executive action, I have felt myself getting lost in anxiety. I feel guilty. I feel panicky. I start hyperventilating. I can’t focus, can’t calm down enough to do anything that requires more concentration than a facebook post. I keep feeling like–I need to stop this! I need to do something! This can’t happen! What is happening to people already? What will happen to them next? How can this be happening again/more/still? How can I help? I went to a #NoDAPL rally last night for 45 minutes–I left as my back started to ache. I took some online and other fairly quick and low-key actions. I was pretty productive with work Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday and today I have not managed to do much. The metaphor that comes to mind is that I am spinning out. It is a familiar sensation.


I’ve been thinking about how connected white supremacy, internalized ableism, depression, and secondary trauma are in my own thoughts and feelings. It is often difficult for me to separate them out.

When part of me was shocked that Bush hadn’t just called off the Iraq war after I gave him a phone call and showed up for some marches, that was an internalized sense of white supremacy. I have been taught and at some level believe that all people ought to and will listen to me, that I am entitled to control public policy, that there is no problem so big that I can’t solve it, and that there is no group of people so fucked over that I can’t rescue them.

This is a harmful, racist mindset. It leads me and other white people to diminish the agency, power, and humanity of people of color, funnel money to causes that do more harm than good, smugly get sex workers arrested “for their own good,” and otherwise make things worse. It also absolves us of any responsibility for doing long-term, collaborative work that centers the leadership of directly-affected people and offers the possibility of more meaningful change: work that requires not just presence but persistence, not just money but humility, not just convention but imagination, not just monologue but conversation, and not rescue but relationships.

When I stayed at the march even after my pain got pretty bad and then didn’t even consider the possibility of asking someone for a seat on the train, that was internalized ableism. I felt ashamed of my pain and weakness. I didn’t want to reveal it. I didn’t think I would be good enough as an activist if I didn’t stay at the march for at least an hour, but preferably two. I didn’t think I was worthy of troubling someone else to stand on the train, even if that person was not having any pain at the moment. And I wonder if even that is totally separate from an internalized sense of white supremacy, given that so much of white supremacy is tied up in fucked-up, fake-science, racializing claims about physical, mental, and moral “fitness.”

The harms of white saviorism and white supremacy fall overwhelmingly on people of color. It’s not so great for white people either. If you think you can solve any problem, it’s all on you when you haven’t and you can’t. While burning out and dropping out of social justice work is better than some other forms that white (supremacist) saviorism can take, it’s not great.

I’ve seen some people recommending focusing on a single issue in their activism to avoid burning out under Trump. Some people I love and respect have found that approach helpful, but it feels impossible and undesirable to me. I need to find and remember other paths to sustainability. My therapists have encouraged me to try reframing negative self-talk and saying positive affirmations when I get into self-hatred spirals. Self-hatred and arrogance seem like two sides of the same coin for me, all mixed up with white saviorism, internalized ableism, secondary trauma, and a few other ingredients.

So, I don’t know what my plans are. I don’t know what anyone should believe. I certainly don’t know what any of us should do. But for my own personal stability, I’m interested in trying a slightly different set of affirmations than what my therapists have recommended, to try to intervene a bit with this toxic internal brew:

  • I am a human being who makes mistakes and who is worthy of love and compassion.
  • My pain does not make me any more or less worthy.
  • My bodymind has limitations and vulnerabilities.
  • My bodymind has value.
  • I am an ordinary person.
  • I am not a superhero. I cannot save anyone, and I should not try.
  • Change is inevitable. Change for the better is possible.
  • It’s not all about me.
  • I can contribute to collective action.
  • I do not have more because I am better, smarter, kinder, or harder working. I have more because I have more.
  • I have more because of a history and present of exploitation and injustice.
  • I can share what I have.
  • I cannot solve any of the world’s major problems.
  • I cannot even solve most minor problems of people I know personally.
  • I can act as a resource, collaborator, and friend.
  • I cannot avoid all mistakes.
  • I can try to make amends for mistakes I have made.
  • Every bodymind has limitations and vulnerabilities, although not all the same ones.
  • Every bodymind has value.
  • Every human being makes mistakes and deserves love and compassion.

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My commitments during the Trump administration

Give. I will step up my giving. I will donate more money to more places more regularly, with an emphasis on community organizing, survival, and culture. At least 90% of the money I give will go to organizations run by women of color, disabled people of color, disabled women, disabled queer and trans people, queer and trans people of color, or disabled queer and trans women of color. I will also give more often and more generously to individuals.

Act. I will do my best to intervene in interpersonal and state violence that unfolds around me. I will volunteer somewhat more than I already do, responding to requests from individuals and organizations as accountably and helpfully as I can. Some of these ways will use my legal, writing, or education skills. Some will not.  At the moment, this looks like it may involve continuing to volunteer with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Black and Pink, while also doing newer work with two or more of CUNY Citizenship Now, the Arab-American Association of New York Accompany Project, the Muslim Justice League, and ad hoc disability justice projects.

Connect. I will check in with my family and friends, get more involved in Muslim communities, talk to neighbors, and be kind to strangers.

Be vocal. This may look a lot of different ways, like participating in social media campaigns, showing up for protests, calling my elected officials, wearing movement paraphernalia, signing petitions, writing articles, putting up posters, or starting conversations with people in my life who seem to be doing or saying hurtful/oppressive things. I will not limit myself to situations where I think my saying something will likely make a concrete difference in a foreseeable way, or to situations where I think I can do things perfectly.

Bear witness. When people in my life share ways that they have been harmed with me, I will listen. I will keep their secrets if they wish, or share their stories if they wish. Even if I can’t handle reading all of the coverage of state and interpersonal violence in the moment, I will save documents about it. I will pay attention.

Learn. I will keep reading, listening, and discussing. I will learn more about history, including the history of the Trail of Tears, Japanese internment, COINTELPRO, and Special Registration, and the ways that people not directly impacted both colluded and resisted. I will learn more about the work that marginalized communities have been doing for centuries to survive, resist, and transform. I will learn about and from my own mistakes. I will learn about current events in various parts of the world. I will learn about and from other people’s ideas about how to respond to ongoing, aggravated, and new injustices.

Self-protect. I will take measures to care for my own heart, health, and safety.

Carry on. I will do my best to keep up with the obligations of ordinary life.


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Daily Donations

Since the election, I have been making at least one small donation a day to a different organization each day. I expect that eventually I will stop doing this sort of giving and instead just increase my monthly giving to a handful of organizations. But for right now, I love this approach. It reminds me of how many organizations there are doing incredible work. It strengthens me in a time when I feel I need it.

By this point, though, I am starting to forget where I have already given. So below is a list of the places where I have given money post-election so far (through this process of daily small donations to different organizations–I have also given money to a number of others not listed here). I have such a long list in mind of places I want to give in the coming days that it feels both overwhelming and amazing. I am always also interested in learning where other people are giving their money, and why.

1/17: American Muslim Community Centers

1/16: Cicada Collective

1/15: CK Life

1/14: Southside Together for Power

1/13: National Black Disability Coalition

1/12: allgo

1/11: Navajo Water Project

1/10: Indigenous Environmental Network

1/9: Tohono O’odham Community Action

1/8: Society for Disability Studies

1/7: Sins Invalid

1/6: Visual AIDS

1/5: Give Directly

1/4: Critical Resistance

1/3: Chicago Community Bond Fund

1/2: Asian Pacific Environmental Network

1/1: Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

12/31: Black Lives Matter

12/30: The Icarus Project

12/29: Community Voices Heard

12/28: La Colmena

12/27: Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili

12/26: Preemptive Love Coalition

12/25: Family Farm Defenders

12/24: South Asian Organizing Center

12/23: City Life / Vida Urbana

12/22: Justice at Work

12/21: The Audre Lorde Project

12/20: Transgender Law Center.

12/19: BreakOUT!

12/18: Iraq Veterans Against the War

12/17: Karam Foundation

12/16: LGBT Books to Prisoners

12/15: Operation Welcome Home

12/14: Arab American Association of New York

12/13: West Fund

12/12: Women with a Vision

12/11: TGI Justice Project

12/10: Black Youth Project 100

12/9: Partners in Health

12/8: Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois

12/7: Prison Birth Project

12/6: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities

12/5: The Network / La Red

12/4: Detroit REPRESENT!

12/3: The Trans Latina Network. “Founded in 2007, Translatina Network is made up of trans individuals working locally and nationally to promote the healthy development of transgender Latina communities. Through the delivery of a wide range of information about services and events, educational outreach, and capacity building resources, Translatina Network supports individuals in maintaining personal wellness and developing leadership skills.”

12/2: FUREE. “Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) is a member led Brooklyn-based multiracial program of Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) led by mostly women of color. We organize and unite low-income families to build power to fight against systems of oppression so that the work of all people is valued and all of us have the right and ability to decide and live out our own destinies.”

12/1: Autism Women’s Network.  “The mission of the Autism Women’s Network is to provide effective supports to Autistic women and girls of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources….The Autism Women’s Network is dedicated to building a supportive community for Autistic women of all ages, families, friends and allies. AWN provides a safe space to share our experiences in an understanding, diverse and inclusive environment. AWN is committed to recognizing and celebrating diversity and the many intersectional experiences of Autistic women….Our goal is to dispel stereotypes and misinformation which perpetuate unnecessary fears surrounding an autism diagnosis.”

11/30: Rahma “RAHMA’s mission is to address HIV/AIDS, Sexual Health, and Women’s Health primarily in the American Muslim community through education, advocacy, and empowerment.”

11/29: Black and Pink “Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and ‘free world’ allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.”

11/28:  Disability Visibility Project. “Our aim is to create disabled media that is intersectional, multi-modal, and cross-platform.”

11/27: Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi Immersion Nest, “a Lakota Language Immersion school housed on the Sitting Bull College campus, located on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in North Dakota…. All instruction is conducted in Lakota with lessons mixing traditional Lakota seasonal and cultural knowledge with best practices in early childhood education.”

11/26: Mijente “Imagine a movement that is not just Pro-Latinx…but pro-Black, pro-woman, pro-queer, pro-poor because our community is all that and more.”

11/25: Native American Community Board, which “works to protect the health and human rights of Indigenous Peoples pertinent to our communities through cultural preservation, education, coalition building, community organizing, reproductive justice, environmental justice, and natural resource protection while working toward safe communities for women and children at the local, national, and international level.” They are water protectors, run Dakota Talk Radio, and also run the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center. #NoDAPL

11/24: The North American Indian Center of Boston, empowering and investing in the Native American community of Massachusetts for over 45 years.

11/23: The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada.

11/22: Communities United Against Violence (CUAV) “Founded in 1979, CUAV works to build the power of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) communities to transform violence and oppression. We support the healing and leadership of those impacted by abuse and mobilize our broader communities to replace cycles of trauma with cycles of safety and liberation.”

11/21: The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, working to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence.

11/20: Trans Women of Color Collective, working to uplift the narratives, lived experiences and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color, our families and comrades as we build towards collective liberation for all oppressed people.

11/19: Trans Queer Pueblo, an autonomous LGBTQ+ migrant community of color who works wherever we find our people, creating cycles of mutual support that cultivate leadership to generate the community power that will liberate our bodies and minds from systems of oppression toward justice for all people.

11/18: Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to legal system for individuals who are deaf and for people with disabilities. HEARD primarily focuses on correcting and preventing deaf wrongful convictions, ending deaf prisoner abuse, decreasing recidivism rates for deaf returned citizens, and on increasing representation of the deaf in the justice, legal and corrections professions.

11/17: Mariposas Sin Fronteras, a Tucson, AZ based group that seeks to end the systemic violence and abuse of LGBTQ people held in prison and immigration detention. They support LGBTQ people currently detained in Eloy and Florence, AZ through visits, letters, bond support, advocacy, and housing upon freedom from detention.

11/16: Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. It was founded at the beginning of 2014 by trans and queer immigrants, undocumented and allies, youth leaders and parents.

11/15:  Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), working to support, empower, and connect LGBTQ Muslims.

11/14: Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), a faith-based human rights education organization focused on racial justice.

11/13: Muslim Justice League, “formed in the midst of the ongoing ‘War on Terror’ to defend the rights of Greater Boston Muslim communities. MJL was founded on the principles that discrimination towards any group endangers the rights of all and that Muslim advocacy is a valuable force for promoting global justice and equality. MJL defends human and civil rights through community education and mobilization, facilitation of cross-movement solidarity, legal advocacy, and cultivation of an environment in which pride in Muslim identity flourishes.”

11/12: Southerners on New Ground, “a regional Queer Liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South.  We believe that we are bound together by a shared desire for ourselves, each other, and our communities to survive and thrive. We believe that Community Organizing is the best way for us to build collective power and transform the South. Out of this belief we are committed to building freedom movements rooted in southern traditions like community organizing, political education, storytelling, music, breaking bread, resistance, humor, performance, critical thinking, and celebration.”

11/11: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund

11/10: Families for Freedom, a New York-based multi-ethnic human rights organization by and for families facing and fighting deportation.

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After the election, I have found facebook both incredibly stressful and incredibly difficult to tear myself away from. One problem with tearing myself away was that facebook has served as my main source for news, and I have not been willing to go without news. But the other ways I typically got my news–like reading mainstream news feeds–upset me so much I would typically stop reading (that part was true even before the election.) Given that, and given everything people have been saying post-election about echo chambers, fake news, and suppression of freedom of press, I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful about how I consume news. That process has led me to consider what I’m actually (not) looking for in my news sources.
1. I don’t want news sources that are so blatantly hateful they diminish my humanity or the humanity of others. Whether it’s Breitbart or the NYTimes, if it’s publishing thought pieces on whether trans youth really deserve to use public bathrooms, or whether maybe women do belong in the kitchen after all, or whether all or only some Muslims are violent extremists, or whether trans women bring murder on themselves, or whether it’s a good thing to try to control autistic people by administering electric shocks, or whether it wouldn’t after all be best for everyone to involuntarily commit more people with mental illness…I’ll pass, unless I have some really specific research related reason motivating me to dive in. I’m not worried about it influencing my views in an insidious way, so much as I am worried about it devastating me emotionally while giving me no new or useful information. And I don’t want to support authors, editors, or publishers for doing horrible things.
2. I don’t want news sources that resonate perfectly with my politics, but that don’t bother with fact checking, skip entirely over complexity and nuance, or pack in so many advertisements that I can barely read the content. The political resonance makes me vulnerable to not looking at claims as skeptically as I should, so I’m actually somewhat less worried about reading sources like these when they do not match my views–although they still wouldn’t be my first choice.
3. I don’t want news sources that are written primarily by and for white U.S. urban progressive-liberal-moderate professionals with lots of investment in the status quo. For me, it’s too risky–these sources can subtly suggest collusion and complacency in ways that appeal to me a little too much, and pull me in directions I would rather not go.
4. I don’t want most of my news sources to be owned by massive corporate conglomerates or governments–and while I’m okay with reading a few that do fit this profile, I want them to be a minority of my sources, and I don’t want any of them to be owned by the same massive corporate conglomerate or government.
5. I do want news that tells me about things happening that I don’t already know. I want news from around the world; I want news that pushes me out of my U.S.-centric perspective and broadens my knowledge base. I also want hyper-local news; I want to know about proposed zoning changes in my neighborhood that could speed along gentrification, or about the local city council person accused of corruption. And I want national news–I want to learn about these cabinet appointees as if my life depended on it (maybe it does). I want news about issues that I rarely think about or have never even heard of, and I also want news about issues I care deeply about and am personally and professionally invested in.
7. I want news that pushes me to question and think, not just to feel fear, disgust, outrage, or hero-worship. I don’t want news that shows investment in “balance” (as in, acting obligated to share the views of someone who thinks Black lives don’t matter in a piece about Black Lives Matter or to dig up some obscure climate change denial person in a piece on global climate change) and “objectivity” (as in, pretending that the authors’ and editors’ culture, politics, experiences and biases could never influence their work).  I do want news that highlights at least some nuance; that provides context and history; that strives for transparency about relationships that may influence reporting; and that offers multiple informed perspectives on events, primarily from people directly affected by them.
8. As much as possible, I want news from sources that treat their workers well, that have leaders from various marginalized groups, that have some independence from those in positions of the greatest social power, that try hard to resist government or big business control of their content, that respect requests for anonymity from vulnerable people, and that try hard to verify the information they provide.
9. For better or worse, I also want news that is convenient for me to consume–ideally, that I can easily read on my phone in the train.
10. I want most of my news in English, because that is the only language I know at all well. I want a little of it in Spanish or French too, though, because I can at least read those languages a little and would like to learn them better.
I’m still trying to work out how to achieve as many of those goals as I can, but here’s where I am. With the help of many people’s suggestions and some of my own explorations, I have started reading the following pretty much every day:

Those are the ones I read most regularly, because I can read them very easily from my phone. But here are the others I am also trying to read at least somewhat regularly (originally, I had a plan of looking at a different three of these sources each day of the week, but it has not turned out that way):

I’ve only been trying my new approach for around a week, but it’s already a revelation. I think on some level I thought the changes to the news I consumed would be fairly minor–that my friends on facebook were probably posting roughly the same articles I would get through choosing my news sources and looking at them directly. Not so, not even remotely (or if so, the facebook algorithm changes all that). This new approach has also yielded very different material than I would get (and cringe about) through Google news.  I can’t claim to suddenly be calm and well-informed, but I am learning more about what is happening outside of the U.S. than I was learning before, and I’m not finding the news so unbearably upsetting to read.

I’m going to keep experimenting, probably shifting some sources out and others in. Once I’m more confident I can make an informed decision, I’ll choose at least a few to support financially.


One American Muslim’s requests

In the name of God, the most merciful, the most Compassionate.

A number of non-Muslim people have asked me for what I want and need in this moment, and how they can help. I have generally brushed aside those questions. But I just spent a a chunk of last night pacing the apartment and thinking about possible registration, and I realize there are some things I would like to ask for.

Before I go ahead, I need to emphasize that I am just one person, and not one of the Muslims likely to be most affected by the intensified anti-Muslim bias, Islamoracism, and white Christian supremacy of this time. Contrary to popular belief, a single Muslim does not and cannot speak for anyone else, much less for all other Muslims. These are just my personal thoughts, ideas, and desires, and you should listen to many, many other Muslims and your own heart before deciding what–and what not–to do.

  1. If/when Muslims or others have to hide out or flee the country, help. Open your home, open your wallet, and close your mouth. Be brave, be generous, and be quiet. Do not let an atrocity be committed against someone you could have helped.
  2. If you were fired up to take action against the registry of all Muslims in the United States, do not for one SECOND consider taking any less action or objecting with any less fire against a registry that would “only” reach a more vulnerable subset of Muslims, like Muslim immigrants. If you do not know what Special Registration was and what it did from 2001 to 2011, learn about it now. If it somehow seems harder to you to impersonate an immigrant than to impersonate a Muslim, think for a second about why that is. (Looking at someone or hearing their voice does not tell us where they were born or what “status” the government has accorded them, any more than it tells us what beliefs they hold.) If it somehow seems more acceptable to you for the government to do this “only” to Muslim immigrants, ask yourself some hard questions about why, and consider how you might unlearn any nativism or racism that you have internalized.
  3. That said, I have mixed feelings about the incredibly moving tactic that so many Jewish people in particular have committed to take, which is to register right along with Muslims. I fear that those who want to register, lock up, deport, or kill Muslims would be equally delighted to register, lock up, deport, or kill Jews, and maybe even those who support Muslims and Jews. I don’t want that to happen. I mean, I don’t want any of it to happen. But it twists my heart to think that my Jewish family would get badly hurt for the sake of standing with me and my Muslim family–I want as many Muslims AND Jews as possible to survive, unsurveilled and in freedom, carrying forward the struggle. And I want people to be available to carry out #1 on this list.
  4. But that said, I cannot imagine, as a U.S. citizen Muslim, not standing in line to register alongside Muslim immigrants, if that is the shape a registry takes. Or at least, I can only imagine not standing in line if Muslim immigrants told me that it would be safer for them if I did not. So who am I to talk? We must follow our conscience and consider how we can be of the greatest service, striving to prioritize our compassion over our pride.
  5. EDIT: This request comes from a Muslim who was subjected to special registration from 2002-2011. Right now, please take the following actions:
    1. Send feedback to the Department of Homeland Security, encouraging it to dismantle NSEERS (the structure for special registration) right now, before it starts getting used again.
    2. Call Pres. Obama and ask him to instruct DHS to dismantle NSEERS.
    3. Call your representative and senators and ask them to end NSEERS legislatively, and to vigorously oppose any form of “registration” for Muslims or people from majority-Muslim countries.
  6. Resist all forms of anti-Muslim bias, Islamoracism, and white Christian supremacy. Help educate your friends. Look out for proposed anti-Muslim federal, state, and local laws (like this one in Georgia) and speak out against them. Write to the media protesting stereotypical and vilifying depictions of Muslims and Islam. Intervene if you see anti-Muslim hate violence happening. Question why your organization gives off for Christmas but not Eid, Diwali, or Rosh Hashana. And if you are not Muslim and are not from a majority-Muslim country, do not speak out against misogyny, heterosexism, and cissexism in Muslim communities and countries without also doing the following:
    1. Speaking out against misogyny, heterosexism, and cissexism in your own communities and country;
    2. Opposing U.S., Canadian, European, and Israeli military aggression against majority-Muslim countries, remembering that those interventions kill women and LGBT people and worsen their living conditions; and
    3. Providing meaningful support to women and LGBT-led organizations that are actually a part of those countries and communities, such as AlQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (Pakistan); and Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Meaningful support means doing what those organizations actually request, not trying to “rescue” their members or tell them what to do.
  7. Donate to organizations run by and for Muslims in the U.S. too, preferably those that have a track record of centering leadership of women or LGBT people. This is far from a complete list, but it includes groups I personally admire.
    1. Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
    2. Muslim Justice League
    3. Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative
    4. Rahma (focuses on HIV)
    5. Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
  8. Donate to organizations that are run by and for the marginalized groups that many Muslims belong to (immigrant, Black, South Asian, Arab) –preferably those that have a track record of including Muslims and centering leadership of women or LGBT people. Again, this is a far from complete list (recommendations welcome).
    1. Desis Rising Up and Moving
    2. Manavi
    3. National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
    4. Black Lives Matter
    5. Black Youth Project 100
    6. Arab American Association of New York
    7. Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
    8. Immigrant Youth Justice League
    9. Not1More
    10. Families for Freedom
    11. Karam Foundation
    12. Southerners on New Ground
  9. Post thoughtfully. On social media, consider the impact of the headlines and images you share. If you choose to post an article about some horrific anti-Muslim development from more than a month ago, acknowledge the time lapse in your description. If the image with the preview depicts some sort of violence, like the bloody body of a Muslim woman or scrawled hate speech on the side of a mosque, hide the image before posting. If you choose to post an article about a recent anti-Muslim development, make sure that the news source is reliable first and make it clear you oppose the development in your post. We are all scared and battered enough as it is–think about how to share information without needlessly escalating  pain, fear, and misinformation.
  10. Help immigrants naturalize. Even if no registry exists at all, immigrants remain particularly vulnerable to nativist, racist, and anti-Muslim actions. While only a relatively small number of immigrants are eligible for citizenship, I think it makes sense to do everything possible to help those who are eligible and want to naturalize. Look for local groups where you can volunteer to help immigrants practice English, study for the citizenship exam, or fill out naturalization paperwork (make sure the group has the expertise to supervise you appropriately if you do not already have experience with this type of work). Listen out for people who do not qualify for a fee waiver but still cannot afford the hefty naturalization fees and offer to help. If people need rides to their naturalization interviews and you can help in that way, do it. Give money to organizations that assist people with naturalization, including small organizations that work with multiply marginalized immigrants (like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project). You do not need to be a lawyer to help.
  11. Check in with Muslims you know personally. Just ask how we are doing, and listen. If we ask for help, try to provide it, or say honestly that you cannot. Be in touch. Be friendly. But don’t tell us how scared we should be.

Thank you.

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Mental state a week post-election

Content warnings: white U.S. citizen exploring his post-election feelings, discussion of sexual violence, mentions of many different forms of state and interpersonal violence


It has been a week since the election, and I have not stopped reeling and buzzing with anxiety. It might seem ridiculous to ask why Trump’s election has provoked these emotional excesses in me. But I’m asking why, and I’m trying to answer honestly.

  1. It’s fucking triggering. I’ve survived multiple acts of sexual violence over the course of my life, as I think most trans people and (cis and trans) women have, and most of which I certainly will not mention here. A few specific things just keep flashing in my mind. When I was eleven, two thirteen-year-old boys sexually harassed me relentlessly every day after school for a full year, threatened to rape me, and laughed about it. When I was fifteen, I went to my first and only high school dance, and I saw one of those boys get elected homecoming king. The election of Trump is absolutely not that. (It is a lot worse.) But it feels like that to me. Of course the loud and proud sexually violent white cis guy gets popularity, power, and applause. Isn’t that always what happens? Since when has anyone ever cared about survivors of sexual violence? It also reminds me of when I was 20 and walking on a busy city street in daylight. A stranger—an older white man—grabbed me, one arm around my waist and one hand groping my chest. I cried out and pushed him away. The bystanders laughed at me. Since when has anyone ever been anything other than congratulatory toward white cis men who publicly perpetrate sexual violence? (I know that there is actually important resistance, but right now that feels like tiny, barely-perceptible sparks on the very fringe.)
  2. I’m Muslim, Jewish on my father’s side (as he once told me, Jewish enough to have been killed in the Holocaust), trans, queer, and psych disabled. My race, class, geography, education, citizenship, and passing privilege have generally protected me from the worst ravages of Christian supremacy, anti-Muslim bias, and anti-Semitism; anti-trans bias and cissexism; anti-queer bias and heterosexism; and ableism and sanism. While other people who share my marginalized identities have gotten locked up, tortured, deported, displaced, forcibly separated from loved ones, pushed into homelessness and hunger, or killed, I have not. I have dealt with institutional exclusion, interpersonal violence, and discrimination, certainly, but I have rarely personally feared experiencing the extreme conditions that so many other people in the country and the world do. And even though some people I am very close to have experienced those extreme conditions, most of the time, I have not actively feared that most of my close family members or friends would face most of those things. What I’m experiencing now is losing some of that privilege. Or actually, because I still really do have all of that privilege, I guess what I’m experiencing is a change in perception: a sharp suspicion that my privilege may very soon have less power to protect me than it so recently did, given my vulnerabilities. I’m personally afraid that in the near future I and all of the people closest to me will end up experiencing some combination of murder, incarceration, deportation or displacement, torture, forcible separation from loved ones, or extreme poverty. It’s fucking scary. People who have already been living under these conditions have every right to have whatever reaction they have to me and others like me experiencing this fear for the first time.
  3. I’m a white lefty professional, and I’m worried that the basic tools, skills, and tactics I have developed are just no longer going to be even slightly effective, and maybe never were. If Clinton won, I would be dismayed about many, many of her positions and policies. In many ways, I think she would be a nightmare—in a few ways, actually even worse of a nightmare than Trump. But she’s the type of establishment nightmare I’m more or less used to, and that I have been trained to work both with and against. Trump is not. I don’t know what the fuck to do with/against Trump, the people he is bringing into positions of power, and the rash of increased overt bigotry and violence he has unleashed. Being and staying too comfortable with the establishment is a big risk for white lefty professionals, one that I have not been vigilant enough against.
  4. The aching fear, outrage, and grief I feel for so many people–friends, family members, acquaintances, and total strangers–who have been getting so badly fucked over for so many years has escalated to a fever pitch, overflowing the usual mental walls I create to prevent those feelings from overwhelming me. Perhaps those walls were never a good thing, but they let me function. Now, I feel adrift.

It’s hard to take enough care, and I’m having flare-ups of various chronic health issues. I know I’m not alone.