Writing About Not Writing
Tuesday April 08th 2014, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Commentary

I am not a writer.
It seems that feminists write. I came to feminism through feminist blogs; almost all of the feminists I look up to are writers or bloggers. I got involved in WAM!, but felt left out because it seemed like all of the workshops were about how to get published (or how to get paid for being published). Meanwhile, some of my feminist college friends were starting to get noticed. I felt inferior because I wasn’t getting published – and more so because I wasn’t trying to.

I have a blog, I’m on the listservs, I think I’m a good writer, but I don’t feel that “urge to write” like writers are supposed to feel. And these days, I find myself trying hard not to write. Let me explain.

As I follow more marginalized people on twitter, I find myself wanting to write less and less. I follow people of color, queer folks, trans folks, folks who are disabled or gender-non-conforming or all of the above. When they write about privilege and feminism, they know what they’re talking about because they have lived it. Instead of jumping in, trying to get published, or making sure my voice is heard, I’ve been asking myself: “What do I have to add to this discussion?”

I have a lot of privilege. I’m write, I’m straight, I’m cis, I’m non-disabled, I’m upper-middle class. I’ve been told all my life to step up, be seen, take charge. It feels revolutionary to sit down, to move back, to listen. I don’t want to say that my opinions don’t matter, but…they don’t. My activism is about centering marginalized voices, and creating a feminism where folks on the margins are listened to and recognized as the experts in their own lives.

This brings up some complicated feelings. It’s my mom telling me that my experience is valid, and that I have things to say. It’s my tattoo that says #feelings telling me to access my emotions. It’s also got to do with thousands of overprivileged white men who don’t seem to have any any voice in the back of their heads telling them to Sit Down. Aren’t they the ones who should be battling these conflicting feelings? (OK, can you imagine? All the WM asking themselves if they should engage? OK, wow). It’s the farce that is Lean In: if I don’t stand up, who will?

I wonder if I’m sitting down for the wrong reasons – is it because I’m scared? It is because I feel like I’m no good? What if I’m selling myself short by hiding behind ‘good politics’? What if the theory is being wasted on me – I’m being silenced by theory that is meant to silence those with even more privilege? But that doesn’t sound right – I’ve got lots of privilege. But it only works if other folks who look like me are also actively practicing Sitting Down.

I’m trying to separate the forces that say “You don’t have a right to speak” from the part of me that is asking “What right do I have to this space?” or “What am I saying that hasn’t already been said?” and more importantly, “Can I signal boost instead?”

When I told my good friend Dan about this blog post, he said, “writing about not writing is the first step :)”
The first step toward what?

 



Assemblymember Dov Hikind should resign.
Wednesday February 27th 2013, 5:25 am
Filed under: Commentary

To Speaker of the NYS Assembly, Sheldon Silver:

People make mistakes – we all make mistakes. We can’t expect to know everything; we can’t expect our elected officials to know everything about every issue.

But when someone gets called out for being racist (or sexist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or anti-Semitic!) it is that person’s job, as a decent human being, to take a step back and think. Dressing in blackface has a long complicated history that I don’t need to enlighten you about. Assemblymember Hikind did something with “pure intention” that had a racist result. The effect didn’t match the cause – this sometimes happens. Yes, an assemblyman dressing in blackface is despicable and racist and probably warrants some action on your part. But what me more was Hikind’s refusal to accept any wrongdoing.

When someone gets called out, it’s important to step back and think about the effects of your actions. The intention can sometimes be important too – but pure intention doesn’t always equate to pure consequence. Someone got hurt, someone got offended – that is Hikind’s fault, and that’s the part that he doesn’t grasp. It’s not about black people learning about Jewish culture; black people know about the racist history that blackface has. It’s not about Hikind not having “a prejudiced bone in his body;” clearly some people feel that he did something prejudiced, and it’s his job to own up to that – not tell them they must be mistaken and they just don’t understand what he meant. And it doesn’t matter that his intentions are pure. It Doesn’t Matter. He did something racist and is refusing to respect the people that were kind enough to let him know.

We need politicians that can own up to their mistakes, and can be willing to learn. It worries me that the assemblymember refuses to take responsibility and admit that what he did had racist consequences. It’s good that he feels he isn’t racist, and therefore could never accidentally do something racist – but he’s wrong. Good people do bad and stupid things sometimes. And that has to be OK; what matters is how you learn and grow after someone alerts you to your folly. And that’s where Assemblyman Hikind has failed.

Samantha Lifson
New York State Resident

Write to Speaker Silver here.



2012 Year in Music
Thursday January 03rd 2013, 3:48 am
Filed under: Commentary

#feelings

1. Old Table – War is Garbage in the Human Heart
2. Neko Case – Set Out Running
3. Old Table – Each is Good in his own House (Robert Pollard cover)
4. Steve Yankou – Parasite (NOATS cover)
5. Steater-Kinney – I Wanna be Your Joey Ramone
6. Sleater-Kinney – Good Things
7. Fun. – We Are Young
8. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
9. Defiance, Ohio – You Are Loved
10. Evil Sword – Digging a Hole
11. Kimya Dawson – Game Shows Touch our Lives (The Mountain Goats cover)
12. Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend
13. The Drinkers Themselves – I Will Go Anywhere

Download here.

The last song segues nicely into the new Drinkers album, which is clearly the album of the year.

I’ve been doing this for 6 years, which is a long time.

2007. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011.

 



Come lobby with me in albany
Wednesday December 19th 2012, 2:42 am
Filed under: Commentary

Join PPHP In Albany for the annual day of action! Monday Jan 14, 2013. Lobbying and visibility events in our state capitol.
This will be my 4th year in a row accompanying Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic to Family Planning Advocates’ Annual Day of Action. Every year, it’s incredibly moving and gratifying. And every year I am full of #feelings about it afterward.

My first year lobbying in Albany, I got huge blisters on both my feet from my hip new heels. I was angry at myself for not wearing more comfortable shoes, but I was also angry at the patriarchy! Why should I have to dress fancy in order to be heard on capital hill? Why did I feel the need to femme-it-up for a day of feminist activism? I felt sour about the efficacy of non-profits and confused what radical change might really look like. But I also felt good about meeting legislators and talking to them about the importance of the Reproductive Health Act – because in reality, those folks make the decisions that impact us. Sometimes theory intersects with practice and it doesn’t always line up.

A lot of my activism is grassroots. You all know by now that I helped organize SlutWalkNYC. I’m involved with a relatively militant activist coalition called Feminist Resistance. We are invested in antiracist work, and we are trying to work closely with sex workers and trans groups to enact real radical change in our world. My friends and I sometimes scoff at the “non-profit industrial complex” and the compromises that it seems to breed. “N.O.W.” tends to be the butt of a joke – a caricature of what feminism should be, an old-fashioned second-wave organization that isn’t seeing what the reality actually is for marginalized folks.

But at the same time, the Annual Day of Action reminds me that laws matter. That, in fact, the most marginalized communities are the most vulnerable to these laws, and in need of better laws. Encouraging lawmakers to maintain family planning funding isn’t kowtowing to the corporate feminist world – it will drastically make the lives of poor people better, and make healthcare more accessible to everyone. It’s worth a shot.

I don’t know. If you’ve never lobbied before, you should consider coming with me this year on January 14th. Maybe it will change your mind about politicians. Maybe it won’t. But I always leave feeling like I’ve made a difference, on some level. It feels a lot like direct action – you get to talk to people, face to face, and convince them to support the things that you support. It’s an experience. And anyway, it can’t hurt.

(full disclosure: I’ve attended the Day of Action for 3 years as a volunteer, and this year I’m staff!)



Fatphobia, Fatshaming, and Me.
Thursday October 25th 2012, 2:16 am
Filed under: Commentary

OK team, time to write a blog post about ME.

As a non-fat person in a privileged body, I’m going through something and I want to talk about ME. You can talk about YOU on your own blog. Or on your twitter feed!

I’ve talked about my own privilege a bit before. I’ve come a long way since this post. I know that I’m in no position to talk about…anything. I know that other people live different lives and have different oppressions and live in different worlds, in many ways. That’s why I’m talking about my own world. Because I live in it.

My world is full of fatphobia and body-policing. My world tells me that I’m not good enough – I’m not tall enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smooth enough. I deal with it every day – magazines, tv shows, movies, pretty much every mainstream image includes someone who looks “better” than I do, aesthetically. The thin ideal is unavoidable. I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I also want to talk about health. Because in my heart of hearts, I know that biological and bodily health is pretty distinct from beauty and those aesthetic ideals. We’re taught that it’s not, right? We’re taught that fat=unhealthy. And maybe sometimes the two things are related, like when your mental health manifests itself in your physical well-being. But I know that fat people can be healthy, and thin people can have serious health problems. Thin people get sick and die, just like fat people. Biology is real and health problems are real, and often separate from the aesthetic of the thin ideal.

The thing is, I think for women, or at least for me, there is often no line between those “health” reasons for losing weight and those “aesthetic” reasons. That’s why I’m so hesitant to go to the gym; because I’m afraid that in the back of my mind, I’ll want to lose weight to LOOK different (read: better). That I’ll feel healthy for being active, but secretly look in the mirror and hope to be skinnier, too. This is why I didn’t fast on Yom Kippur – because I feel like fasting is too similar to something else; I fear that I’d subconsciously feel good about starving myself. I know myself, and I know that I’m at risk for that dangerous behavior. Yes, even though I’m not overweight. Yes, even though I’ve never had a diagnosed eating disorder.

I want to live my life far from those thoughts and risks. That’s why when I hear people at work counting calories, or talking about their “lean cuisine” lunches or how those cookies are sooooo bad, I just don’t. I either tune it out, which is hard, or I say something innocuous and vaguely resistive, like “oh, those cookies are delicious.” That’s one of my favorites. Cookies are so delicious.

I’m having a hard time. Because I live here, in this thin ideal. I am here in this obsessively fatphobic culture that tells me I’m never good enough. I feel it even though I’m not fat. I know that I don’t feel it like other people do. I also know that I feel it, loud and clear. It’s self-care for me to reject all body-policing, to resist all fat-shaming and fatphobia.

I’m learning. I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t step back when I get called out. I got called out today. Maybe sometimes what I categorize as resistance doesn’t look like resistance to other people. I easily conflate everything about weight loss – the aesthetics and the health aspects. I can’t sort them out. And I think I didn’t realize that other people have sorted it out better than me. The body acceptance movement, as a facet of my feminism, has helped me so much and allowed me to love my body more than I ever thought I could (and don’t worry, I don’t love it all yet). I think today I made a mistake – I forgot that these theories don’t work the same for everyone. Especially people who live in different worlds than me. I want everyone to love their bodies and not want to lose weight for the “wrong reasons” but I forgot that I don’t know anyone’s reasons or anyone’s bodies or anyone’s problems.

My feminism hinges on one thing: Trust Women. That also means deciding for myself what’s right for me. For me, it means rejecting weight-loss, almost without exception, as my own route to body acceptance and self-love. For me, it means eating cookies without fear and without shame. But I forgot that my feminism isn’t everyone’s feminism – and that’s the whole point. Some people make decisions that I don’t make or wouldn’t make or can’t understand. And also, that almost all my decisions come from a place of privilege. I have a privileged body, and I’m sorry that I forgot myself today.



The Radicalization of my Car.
Monday May 14th 2012, 2:44 am
Filed under: Commentary

Almost 5 years ago, I received a sticker in the mail that read “Pro-Choice, Pro-Obama” from NARAL pro-choice New York. I was 17 or 18, ready to vote Democrat in my very first presidential election, and proud to display this for the world on my vehicle.

It made so much sense to me. It was that simple, that straightforward – If you are pro-choice, YOU ARE pro-Obama. Some of my friends were voting Nader, and I wouldn’t have it. Obama was our man – we believed in Obama! Hope! Change we can believe in! Soaring rhetoric! And at the time, he was the most liberal guy around, and I was feeling it. I thought that window decal was pretty radical, and if someone honked at me or gave me a dirty look on the road it sometimes occurred to me that they were anti-feminist pro-lifers or Republicans.

I voted (via absentee from college), I celebrated on the Syracuse quad when he won (a moment that I will never forget, and one of my most moving experiences of my life), and I even went to the inauguration (slightly more stressful).

These days, the connection isn’t that simple for me. I’m afraid I don’t believe in our government like I did at 18. Obama did a lot of awesome things, but he also didn’t. A lot has changed, and so much hasn’t. I’m not an expert, I can’t really quote statistics; I admit that. But four years later, I’m much more critical of the two-party system, and I’m reluctant to put all my eggs in one Democratic basket.

I’ve grown a lot more radical the past few months. A lot more anti-capitalist, a lot more anti-racist and sex-positive. And a lot more unapologetic about it. I’ve also become sort of connected to a socialist feminist presidential campaign. I live in New York and I have the opportunity (privilege?) to write-in a protest vote without really being worried about where my state is headed in November. And the Durham-López platform includes a lot of things I agree with, and very few that I don’t. I feel pretty cool about voting for candidates who are unabashedly Feminist. It’s not as simple for me as “pro-choice, pro-obama” was 4 years ago. It’s not as simple as the Unite Against the War on Women march (or any other mainstream pro-choice rally) where the takeaway was “Now go home and VOTE! For Democrats!” As Betty Maloney put it at our panel last week, “The Democrats are half the problem.” As far as the wars, the deportations, gay marriage (ahem), abstinence-only education funding, the war on drugs, corporate backing and funding, etc etc. “The lesser of two evils” is the option we’re given. The only option. And if you’re under 18, you get no options at all. It’s defeatist to think that This is the only say we’ve got. I want radical change, I want revolution. I want something more than the lesser of two evils.

The other day, in a moment of strength, I peeled off that window decal.

The problem now is that I’ve got nothing to replace it with. If my grandpa (who bought me this car 6 years ago) saw that I was proudly supporting socialists, I’d have a problem. I’m sure that old leftist sticker was about as radical as he figured I could be.



The Roots of Racial Prejudice
Friday April 20th 2012, 5:26 am
Filed under: Commentary

I participated in a teach-in last week at the City-wide GA in Central Park about the Roots of Racial Oppression – based on this awesome class that I’m taking. Here are my notes – I wrote them and I like them.

Questions that I was focusing on:
• How can we work to end racism?
• Intersection of race, sex, gender, sexuality and class
• How feminists and queers of color are the living connections between struggles and movements and “put it all together.”
• How the leadership of feminists and queers of color is crucial to all the social justice movements.
• Power of working across racial divides – in the workplace and in the movements, like Occupy.
• The importance of white activists in actively fighting racism.

So now we know a little bit more about racism, how it started, and why it’s been so cyclical and pervasive. And I think we can see that there is a pretty strong correlation (or is it causation?!) between racism and classism – they support each other, and work hand in hand to further oppress already-marginalized people. The white working class relies on racism to give them an edge, consciously or not – and institutionally they are encouraged to. And then classism couples with racism to cause more struggles to already marginalized communities.

And it doesn’t end there. All these identities are wrapped up and intersectional – they feed off one another, they bounce off one another, they are messy and inextricable – some people call it the matrix of oppression. Intersectionality is the idea that these oppressions can’t be separated – we all inhabit many identities at once. Some of us can be privileged in one way, and oppressed in another. Some of us have more compound privileges or oppressions. Very few people inhabit every single oppressed class or every single privileged class. Intersectionalism recognizes difference and encourages activists to deal with it – not put it aside and assume that we are all in it together, fighting the same fight against all oppression – it’s not that simple. Even by saying we are all the 99% erases some vast differences between the different struggles we all live with and live under.

But we have to become more aware of these differences, talk about them, learn about each other, recognize privilege and respect oppression, on all fronts. And it’s not about “the oppression olympics” either – we can all learn to be better activists, of LGBT allies, or antiracist allies, or trans allies. And we all have to live under the same racism, classist, sexist system. It oppresses all of us together – but often in very different ways. Recognizing and respecting that enables us to organize more fruitfully, more understanding, more broadly.

It means that the most marginalized people don’t get left behind – we don’t want to take the revolution step by step, we don’t want anyone to be left waiting for their turn. We are tired of putting some fights on the back burner to make room for the more palatable, more broad-based fights. Because when the most marginalized get left behind, it cheapens all of our activism. If we aren’t sticking up for the “bottom rung” as some say, we’re not doing enough. The master’s tools, man. If we are going to be progressive activists, we have to go all the way.

That’s why queers and feminists of color need to be leading the revolution. Their voices need to be heard the loudest, because they are the ones who most often get left behind and told to wait their turn in the revolution. And the most marginalized are the people that understand oppression more than I can – I had to work hard to learn about racism – I still am. I had to take an antiracist class to learn more about this stuff, for christ’s sake. The most oppressed people live with their oppression every minute of every day, so clearly, they know how best to fight it.

And I recognize the irony of me and Dan standing up here and talking about all this – we are pretty privileged people. We’re white, we’re straight, we’re cisgendered, we’re from fucking westchester, for crying out loud. But that’s important too – It’s just as important for white allies to stand up for race issues and speak out against injustice. It’s important to use your privilege to incite change in your own communities, and call out bullshit when you see it. And then, better yet, bring those more oppressed groups to the front, and let them explain it, because they’re better at it. And you’ve already had your turn. Your whole life. And with that, let me turn it back to Emily, my queer woman of color friend, to wrap it up.



You’re a Creep.
Saturday March 17th 2012, 3:41 am
Filed under: Commentary

So, it’s time to normalize online dating. It’s that time. I’ve been on OkCupid for a while now, ok? Sometimes for fun, sometimes for reassurance that real people exist, sometimes for no reason at all. Recently, it’s been to meet people in real life. But that’s not what this post is about (it’s going fine, thankyouverymuch).

My profile is really clearly feminist, without digging too deep (the fourth word is “feminist,” for example). I feel like most of the people who message me are decent – because the photo of my hairy armpits serves to filter out lots of guys, you know? But sometimes something else happens.

I get a message – a chat message – from someone who is really upfront. About sex. It happens often enough to constitute a phenomenon. Someone says “hey cutie :-)”  and the conversation almost immediately turns to sex. When I last had it, how it was, how often I have it, how I like to have it.

The thing is! I’m really open about sex. I’m not sure if these men read my profile and get that sense or not, but I really don’t mind talking about my sex life. But usually, uhh with people I know. Or people who I’ve spoken about other things first with? Talking about sex is really important to talk about if you might be having sex with someone, right? But it’s not that important to talk about with strangers who won’t stop telling me how hot I am.

I figure that these are mostly men who are just horny, and are looking for some jack-off material before bed. And maybe sometimes that’s not repulsive to me. But they are strangers. The other day, this happened to me (It’s something that happens to me), and I played along for a few exchanges. Then I tried to ask him about something else – where he grew up, what he’s interested in, what he does for a living. Those questions. He was being really cute and nice! But when I tried to change the topic away from sex, it…didn’t work. He was aching for me to turn him on. A stranger. Via the internet. It became off-putting.

So I got serious — I told him that we should talk about something else. I told him he was making me uncomfortable. I told him I was quickly losing interest in meeting him. He couldn’t understand why, so I explained, pretty clearly: “If all you want to talk about is sex, how do I know you respect me as a person, not just a sex object, if we were ever to meet?” He understood, maybe. He said that we could talk about anything after he asked me more about the intimate details of my personal life. I said No. I asked if I wasn’t being clear. He told me I was “being a tease.” I told him that was absolutely not what I was doing. The conversation ended when I said that his refusal to listen to me or hear what I was saying, pretty clearly, made him someone I’d never be with. Which is absolutely the truth.

Does this happen to lots of women? Does it happen to lots of “women like me?” Does it happen to men? Something tells me this is gendered, but it might just be Me. I’m sure there are some women who love this type of exchange, and that makes a lot of sense to me — but I’m not one of those women. I can even imagine that some women are on the other side of a conversation like this, trying to rub one out before bed. But it’s never a conversation I’ve even considered started. Ever. Because it’s creepy.



Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
Wednesday March 14th 2012, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Commentary

Women’s Reproductive Health seems like it’s in trouble, eh? I can’t even do a pithy few sentences summing up all the attacks on my basic rights the past few months. You’ve heard about this stuff, right?

I’m here to remind everyone that the world sucks, and it’s not getting better. Yay!!! And that when you’re fighting for the things you believe in, don’t forget about the other stuff you believe in. When you’re fighting off the most heinous attacks and just trying to stay afloat in a sea of WHAT THE FUCK, don’t forget about the more straightforward and basic stuff we are all still fighting for. Dust yourself off. Take a deep breath. And then keep on fucking fighting forever.

• When feminists say “wait, none of anybody’s tax dollars go toward covering contraception in the new bill” they need to end their sentences with “And so what if it did?” No federal tax dollars go toward abortions, but we have to get that overturned. How are we going to do that if we’re constantly saying “wait it’s not that bad!” Federal funding for medically important and life-saving things shouldn’t be the worst outcome – it should be expected.

• And when Susan G Komen pulls their money from cancer screenings provided by Planned Parenthood, we have to point out that PP saves lives, that 97% of what they do isn’t abortions, that politics and bullshit shouldn’t get in the way of healthcare – and then we have to say “Oh also! Abortions save lives too! And we’re still fighting for that!” And yeah, PP is pro-choice because abortions are still important goddammit.

• And when there is talk everywhere about transvaginal ultrasounds, we have to point that it could be perceived as state-mandated rape, and that it’s fucking outrageous to mandate a medically unnecessary procedure just to make sure women “know what they’re doing.” (TRUST WOMEN TRUST WOMEN). And then we have to say “OH AND mandating ANY ultrasounds is completely offensive and misguided too! And we’re working on overturning those limits to abortion everywhere too!” Don’t spring those nice, regular, non-penetrative ultrasounds on us after we say FUCK NO to those extra-terrible ultrasounds. That’s not it.

• And when Rush Limbaugh calls a woman a slut, on the assumption that she was taking birth control for all the wild and crazy sex she was having, I don’t want to sign a petition saying “Women who use birth control aren’t sluts!” Fuck that. When we say “Hey Rush, Sandra Fluke was really testifying about birth control when needed for health purposes, not because of all the crazy sex she is having…” We have to end it with “BUT SOME OF US ARE having that crazy sex, and some of us are sluts, and we want birth control too! Because preventing pregnancy is ALSO a good reason for using birth control (FOR FUCK’S SAKE!).

I’m just tired, and it never ends. Prepare for battle though, because we’re not going away either. BAM! Be well, feminist friends, take care of yourselves.



Smash the MTA
Wednesday March 14th 2012, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Commentary

The MTA is doing some serious gender-essentializing, and it’s getting in the way of MY PRIVILEGE.

My stepdad commutes to the city from Westchester every day, and he has a monthly ticket. For those who aren’t Metro-North experts like me: It’s a commuter rail. The ride for him is about a half hour, and a one-way ticket (during rush hours, or “peak” hours), costs $10.50. Off-peak costs $7.75 (Fares are higher on-board). A monthly costs $229 (It’s a great deal).

So, naturally, when my stepdad isn’t using his monthly (nights and weekends), I use it. It works out pretty well – sometimes his train gets in at 5:45, and mine leaves at 5:54. He hands the monthly to me and gets in the car, and I get on a train. It’s cute.

Fine print says the ticket is understandably non-transferable. The MTA doesn’t want you and your friends sharing a monthly. They lose money if you do that. The THING is. When you purchase your monthly, the machine asks you for your gender. That’s the way the conductor identifies you: M or F. A few conductors have threatened to confiscate the monthly when they see that I present as “F” and my ticket says “M.” My friend also steals his dad’s monthly – but they both present as “M,” so theres no way a conductor would know that it’s not his own ticket. He’s never had a hard time.

I’ve been annoyed by this for a while, and I couldn’t explain why. I know I’m breaking the rules, I know I’m stealing rides. Shrugs. I can reconcile that by saying that my stepdad could ride the train on the weekends if he wanted to – and it’s the same number of passengers on the train. But I know, I’m wrong and I’m breaking the rules. OK. If I want to use the MTA’s services, I should have to pay. My grandpa reminded me that that’s how capitalism works. I’m annoyed because I want my privilege. The ride from the suburbs to the city is not reasonable for someone whose parents don’t work there, basically. And I have this luxury and I want to make use of it.

It’s not necessarily sexist – if my mom commuted, I could take her ticket. And more men probably commute than women, but the rule doesn’t really work in a sexist way. But I knew deep down that something about this policy was wrong. And I don’t think it’s just because I’m a lucky Westchester girl whining about getting her free trip that she thinks she deserves (that is exactly what it is).

Of course, it’s wrong that it’s another manifestation of the gender binary, and it’s wrong that you have to choose, and it’s wrong that someone could question you about your gender at any time and be in line with policy. All of it is wrong. Duh. (When the conductor told me he’d confiscate it if I tried to use it on the trip back, I told him I’d be male on the way back.)

But WHAT’S WRONG IS: It would be unconscionable to ask you to put your race. Could you imagine? “Excuse me ma’am, you don’t look white” “Excuse me sir, that ticket belongs to a black person and I’ll have to confiscate it.” Because that would be ridiculous. The MTA would have a PR nightmare. Because we all know that race is a spectrum, and isn’t real, and you can’t boil someone down to just their skin color and say that it identifies them. But when it comes to gender, this is still how we do it.

I don’t have an answer or an alternative. Putting anything more specific would take all of a conductor’s time to check it. And if you took away gender, more people would share monthlies. And that would just be the worst.