Speech at Slutwalk Denver 2013


Here is the Text of my speech at Slutwalk Denver 2013. A video is available at http://youtu.be/LRrOFXPrnww

It’s good to see everyone here. We are here, because whether you are a survivor, or a family member, friend, or significant other of a survivor, we all have one thing in common: the rape culture we live in has impacted us. Slut-shaming and victim-blaming are so prevalent that even those of us who are survivors are not immune- especially to ourselves. In fact, because of the slut-shaming and victim blaming in our society, I did not report my rape. Too many of us here know how a rape investigation often goes- the woman is badgered and forced to relive the incident to police officers and district attorneys, then she is either told that there is not enough evidence to prosecute the rapist, or that she is about to go to court and have her sex life, wardrobe choices, and decisions on whether or not to ingest alcohol put on trial. Then, we have the possible involvement of media- including and especially social media, because the internet has turned our society into a place where anyone can publish a short comment and have it travel the world in moments, allowing the instant shaming and blaming of victims. And trying to combat it is like playing whack-a-mole with landmines.

It’s good to see everyone here for another reason. You see, on the night of June 3rd, I went out for an early birthday celebration. I had a few too many, and as I was going home, walking down the 16th street mall, I met a man who asked me directions. Then he told me how pretty he thought I was, and asked me to his room. I told him I was a trans woman, and he said it didn’t matter, and I went with him to smoke a joint… or so I thought. The next thing I knew I was choking as he shoved his large dick down my throat, ripping off my scarf and glasses as he hatefucked my face. I tried to get him off me, I tried to push him away and he just went at me harder. Adrenaline finally let me get him away from me, and he looked at the sparse hair on top of my head and said, “You’re a man!”

I responded that I told him I was trans, and that I came up to smoke a joint, not to have his big dick shoved down my throat. He said “You’re a man, take it like one,” and started back toward me. I screamed at him that if he came any closer I would kill him. I was lucky, he believed me, and I got what I could, my scarf and purse, and fled, leaving my glasses.

Like I say, I was lucky. My only injuries were a sore throat and the emotional wounds that come with being violated. Lots of women aren’t that lucky, especially trans women. Some trans women in that situation end up being murdered in the most brutal fashion imaginable.

One of the reasons I did not report is because I am trans, and I know that fact would become center stage. While our state has a law that defends my rights, it is difficult to enforce. I feared encountering an unsympathetic police officer, or DA, and having the situation turn on me, because not only does rape culture tell the lie that women lie about rape, cisnormative culture very often tells the lie that transgender people- especially trans women- are deceivers and predators.

I still fear a knock at my door or a hand on my shoulder, telling me I face some charge because my rapist ignored everything I was saying because he was only interested in raping me and I turned out to be trans. I fear encountering my rapist again, because the clearest look I had at him was when I was drunk and without my glasses. Until my STI tests came back negative, I feared he might have impacted me that way. I still relive the horror every day, and it has impacted me in a major way.

I am here taking my power back. I am here to say that I am a survivor, and that I reject rape culture and the burdens it places on me, rather than the perpetrator of the crime against me. I am here because we all need to let people know that how we dress, our like or dislike of sex, our orientation, our consumption of drugs or alcohol, does not equal consent. I am here because rape culture tells lies to us, tries to bind us. I am here because not all men are rapists, and I reject the rape culture that says they are, that rape is normal, as I reject the cisnormative culture that calls me a deceiver because I am trans- because they are sides of a coin.

We are survivors, we are strong, and we can change this world; standing together with our friends, family and allies, we can make a difference. There can be a world where people who have been raped will not be afraid to seek justice because of the judgment society places on survivors. The work begins here, and it is ours to do. Help a survivor. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. But most of all, do not remain silent. The more voices we have singing, the louder the chorus…

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A Rose By Any Other Name?

As anybody who reads this blog or my FB wall knows, I recently was granted my legal name change. While I have been living under the name Narcissa for some time now, my legal designation was still the name given to me at my birth. It was a very masculine name, and having to show a card with that name led to more than one embarrassing or dangerous moment.

Have you ever been in a big city hospital ER on a Friday night to have them scream “Mister” across the waiting room when you are obviously female, and the gender marker on your ID is female? I have, and it’s a terrifying walk of shame. Then they tell you that your name is masculine so deal with it.

It makes store clerks look at you funny, and in some cases accuse you of having a fake ID. Some of them demand explanations before they will give your ID back. And when cis people demand explanation from a trans woman, they immediately dive into her panties, so to speak.

It makes going through security checkpoints a scary thing, because you never know who is transphobic and just waiting for their chance.

It affects every business relationship you have, every paper you sign, every government agency you must deal with. More misgendering, more strangers demanding intimate knowledge of your genitalia- and don’t think complaining will get you anywhere. It’s more likely to have them threaten to not do their job, because “they don’t have to take abuse,” the abuse in question being a request to use proper pronouns and desist from using the first name on your ID.

With a legal name change, all that begins to change, slowly. It takes time, and hoops. And the Denver civil court system considers it a privilege of the moneyed. Poor trans people are locked out of the system unless they can find an organization to foot the bill for two background checks, court fees, and publication fees. Not many exist.

It’s not an easy process. It takes a long time, and a lot of effort. But there is a joy when you sign YOUR name for the first time, legally, that is indescribable. I hope that Denver’s policy of denying access to the name change process to the poor is discontinued, as well as the onerous publication requirements, which are a forced public outing of trans* people. But I’m not holding my breath.

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Surreality in court…

I walked into the courtroom for my name change hearing this morning expecting to answer questions about why I needed the name change. It was normal, and the judge was a genial old man who seemed to love the sound of his own voice. He granted the name change, congratulated me, and had me talk to the court clerk to get the paperwork. She went to make copies, and as I sat to wait for her, he started talking to the next person there for a name change hearing. Then the White Rabbit came by and down the hole we went!

Well, metaphorically speaking anyway. The man was apparently straightening out paperwork to go to Hong Kong. The judge then began to discuss Hong Kong in great detail, including a long rambling tale about how he and his wife got upgraded to first class on the ferry for only a nickel.

The clerk came back, gave me my paperwork, and my friend and I started to leave. As we were headed out the door, the judge said to the man, “So, you’re a successful doctor. Do you drive a Mercedes or a Rolls-Royce? You know those are the only two cars for a succesful doctor, right?”

We managed to let the door close before cracking up.

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Why I won’t report my rape to the cops.


This is what I was wearing Monday night, as I went out for an early birthday celebration. I was smiling, loving my new dress, flirting at Charlie’s. I had a few too many drinks, and a couple to boot. I was feeling happy, and friendly, and chatty, and very drunk as I stumbled toward home.

I got down to the 16th St. Mall, and a man fell into stride next to me and started talking. He told me how pretty he thought I was. He asked me for directions to the hyatt, then if I’d like to go smoke a joint in his hotel room. I was drunk, and went with him. I was even entertaining the idea of having sex with him- because he brought it up. I told him I was trans and he said it didn’t matter.

We got into his room, and he motioned for me to sit down on a low chair. The next thing I knew he was cramming his penis down my throat. It was 10 or more inches and rather big around, and as he ripped my scarf and glasses off, grabbing my head and hatefucking my face, I could feel every thrust all the way to the middle of my chest. I finally summoned up the strength to throw him off me. I don’t remember what I was yelling, but I know I told him I would kill him if he didn’t stay away. His response, “You’re a man, take it like one.”

I collected what I could and got out as fast as I could, getting to the next block before collapsing into a corner, crying.

I have a bruise where my head hit the wall when I fell, and my throat hurts. I keep reliving every moment, trying to find some way that I wasn’t raped, so I don’t have to feel this way.

People want me to report it to the police. I know better. I have watched too many women get shredded by the process, as they are put on trial rather than the perpetrator.

First off on parade is her sex life, and I happen to like sex. (I did, anyhow) My past (recent past included) has some… excitement in it. I know it’s no excuse for him to rape me, but it will “discredit” my testimony.

Second, I was drunk. Too drunk, in fact, to consent. As I think back, I’m aghast that I went to his room, something I would not have done sober, which brings us to number three, being that I went to his room, which would be called consent by the defense. These tactics work on juries, sometimes, and police officers tend to believe men over women.

I don’t want to be put on trial for having had sex before. I don’t want to have to justify myself for not wanting him to try and do me anally through the mouth. I wish the fact that I was too drunk to consent and would never have consented to having his big penis shoved down my throat like he was the roto rooter man looking for a clog was enough to make it so he’d be put away, never to do this to another woman.

But I know better. My sex life would be put on trial. The fact that I’m trans would be put center stage, and I would have to sit through dozens of interviews with police officers, DA’s, then get on the witness stand, and have to see him again. At every turn, asked again and again about every detail from that night.

In the end, there’s a 50/50 chance he’d walk. It would be, as Limp Bizkit would have put it, “All about the he said, she said bullshit.”

But wait, there’s more!

The next bit is who the jury believes, the man or the trans woman- so the odds are probably much lower than that. 70/30, in his favor. He’s got the money for a room at the Hyatt, while I’m a disabled woman living in a subsidized apartment- 80/20. I sleep with different people quite a bit because I don’t really have hangups about sex. Or didn’t, rather. 90/10.

It’s not worth it. It would tear me up, and the bastard would walk. I don’t want to give him a pass, but I don’t want to be put on trial for being a victim, and lose.

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The weirdness of passing privilege.

It’s always amusing to me that even people who know I’m trans will sit there and expect me to join in bashing other trans people. And by “amusing,” I don’t mean funny ha ha, I mean funny like watching a Pythonesque 16 ton weight reduce them to street pizza. They seem to think that because I am read as female by most people, that I would naturally join in bashing those that don’t get that privilege.

They are dead wrong. When I first started transition I did not pass. I was still trying to shed all those little “corrections” of my mannerisms that were beaten into me as a child. The neighborhood I lived in at the time was pretty rough- burning cars in the parking lot rough. I heard my share of insults- and threats.

Now, I get passing privilege. I still get yelled at from passing cars, but it’s mostly catcalls and comments about my tits. Every woman has to deal with it, but the change is odd. And illusory. Somebody who knows that I’m trans and doesn’t like the fact could always out me in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Then as that passing privilege evaporates, the average twonk on the street then gets one of three prepackaged and dead wrong opinions about me thanks to our oh-so-fair-and-open-minded entertainment media: 1. I’m a whore. 2. I’m a drag performer. 3. I’m a sexual predator.

Oh, there are variations and exceptions, but that’s my usual experience with the general public outside the queer community. Sometimes, it can be a teaching opportunity, sometimes it can be a nightmare. But even the teaching opportunities can be harrowing, because even though I tend to live out, it is still startling these days to have someone clock me.

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Well, Then Again…-or- Narcissa’s Dilemma

Forgive the typos that are likely to apper in this post, I am typing on a phone and am shaky from my normal tremors and my meds. Now, without further ado, I present my post for the evening.

I had a hard conversation with a friend today. She’s someone whose opinion I value highly, even when I disagree with that opinion. But, Goddess help me, sometimes she’s hard to talk to because she’s not afraid to hit me square in the face with a shovel full of truth.

Today’s topic of discussion was my name change and the problems that I am facing there. She asked me to look hard at what I personally would get out of fighting this fight. If I am able to get help with the filing fee, I could have the name change, so that would eventually happen either way.

I am a firm believer in equal access to our government. This was simple, blatant discrimination based upon my economic status. That it happens apparently as a matter of policy in Denver County Court is shameful. It is my fight, because the policy of not allowing the waiver of filing fees on a name change petition affects trans people and DV survivors disproportionately- two groups I am very invested in, personally.

Tiered access to our court system is an abomination that should not, and can not be allowed to exist in our country. Every citizen should be able to file whatever case that they find it necessary to file, regardless of ability to pay. I want to know that if a situation arises where I must make a court filing, I will be able to access our court system, not be locked out because I am poor.

But the timing is lousy.

I am having increased problems with my asthma and other medical conditions, the stress of this has me so wound up I had to give up my volunteer shift- which means I ended up deprived of one of my favorite activities because of this. Also, the problem of not having ID with a name that matches my gender marker and gender presentation makes me a possible target. It makes it more difficult to cope with government agencies and businesses. It makes me afraid to go to the doctor because I don’t want to do the tranny walk of shame when they scream my hyper masculine legal designation across the waiting room- at a time when I need a great deal of medical care.

She made it clear that this would be a long fight, even though worthwhile, but not good for me. Then she told me something that stunned me rigid. She told me, “I wish you’d think of yourself for once.” I had to ask if I was really that bad.

I have a passion. My passion is helping my fellow Americans be free and have the dignity and rights they deserve. I could, and would, win this fight- eventually. But at what cost to my health?

I will look at it in this manner: I am not surrendering in the war, I am merely retreating to regroup.

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Doña Quixote is at it again…

I haven’t updated this blog in a long time. Much has happened since I last posted, and much is happening right now. That is what I am writing to tell you about. I was discriminated against today. Locked out of the court system of Denver County because of no other reason than the fact that I am poor.

Ah, but I see we are in media res here, perhaps the beginning would be a better place to start. This morning, after much trouble getting myself down to the City and County of Denver building, I attempted to file paperwork relating to my legal name change. I handed over the appropriate forms for the waiver of payment, expecting to continue on and file name change paperwork at the same time. I was told at first that I could not even file the motion to file without payment, becausethey don’t do that for name changes- in direct contradiction to how the state says the process should run.

After researching the law and talking to a lawyer friend of mine, I returned to the courthouse with a freshly typed motion to reconsider. They did not want to accept the motion, and took five minutes speaking with a manager. Then they took the motion and claimed to go looking for a judge. When they returned, I was informed that the judges had all gone to lunch, and that I should come back in an hour.

I was not able to return in exactly that hour, but I did return at 2:45, well before theysaid the judges would leavefor the day. They told me that all the judges had left for the day, but they would take my paperwork and give it to the presiding judge when he returned.

Martha Vigil of the clerk’s office called at 4:00 PM to tell me that the presiding judge denied the motion. District court is my next stop. I will go to the court clerks tomorrow and demand to see the order denying the motion to reconsider. Then I will prepare an appeal to take to district court-and beyond, if I must.

The reasoning that I have been given is that they consider a name change an “elective” process, and therefore not open to poor people. This is wrong. Very wrong. And it cannot be allowed to stand. Our courts were never supposed to go to the highest bidder. What they have denied me is not a luxury, they have denied me my identity and basic safety. My current legal designation is a very masculine name. Presenting ID cards with that name and my gender raises eyebrows and risk. I risk being discriminated against, assaulted, killed, or worse if that ID is shown to the wrong person at the wrong time.

The bottom line for this issue is that this is a process that I am forced to go through by the state to be able to live my life the way that is necessary to me. To others, a name change may be a luxury. To a trans individual the name change process is not a luxury. It is the only way to legally be who one is in official matters. I live in a state that claims that it does not discriminate on the basis of economic status or gender identity. But I have just been denied the right to file a legal name change that is necessary for my gender transition because I am poor.

The processes of our courts were never supposed to be about exacting payment from citizens for matters in which they are required to go to court for the purpose of collecting fees. While the fees charged are a necessary part of funding that system, we cannot allow economic status to determine access to our judiciary. While there is a Non-Profit that may help with the costs, that should not be necessary. And I believe that the only way to change this will be to fight tooth and nail to make Denver County obey the laws of the State of Colorado, not just in my case, butin every case that comes after.

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