Recently, I’ve been thinking about how research can be used to break down elitist systems, rather than reinforce them. In academia, the use of academic jargon and the cost of accessing classes or published research is a barrier for folks to looking to learn more about a certain subject, or find data on their own communities. As researchers, we must work to ensure that science remains public, especially during times of political crisis. The right-wing’s appeal to the “white working class” is anti-academic, labeling the university as indoctrinating students with liberal ideas, which they label as an attack on the working class. Thus, it’s time to put theory into practice, work with our communities, and use our privilege/skills to present truths. We have the tools to disprove #AlternativeFacts and must make that work accessible.

International Women’s Day

Happy(?) International Women’s Day! I’m not sure of what verbiage is used since today the themes are not only to honor women globally but also to strike and boycott systems of oppression and instead attend activism event(s), wear red, and/or only patronize businesses owned by women or marginalized communities. Am I missing anything?

I, unfortunately, don’t have the privilege to be able to miss out on work today. Being a poor, overworked graduate student, time is like freedom. It doesn’t come easy, you have to fight for it, but I did make some time to enjoy myself this earlier this week and to exercise my activism muscle.

On Sunday, I attended a film screening of MAJOR! (http://www.missmajorfilm.com/) featuring an incredible, inspiring trans woman activist in San Francisco, Major Griffin-Gracy. She makes shit happen (oh yeah so WARNING: “Adult” language…but that’s the best way to describe her and it doesn’t even come close to doing her justice.). She’s been fighting for trans rights starting back in the 60’s, which is astounding thinking of all the seemingly insurmountable challenges these days, let alone in the 60s (a little context: Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, space race, nuclear threats, The Beatles)! She is a living legacy and still working to (rumor has it her work is going to take her from California to Arkansas) support and advocate for imprisoned trans people, especially trans women of color.

I was so struck by the raw stories of sexual and emotion trauma coupled with the abuses by those within the criminal justice system. It will literal knock the wind right out of you. That Major and her girls talk about these issues in their life stories and can take them in stride, joking about them like it’s normal is hard to describe, jarring is the word maybe?

The other striking piece was near the end when they showed the number of lives lost and the names of those filmed in the documentary since filming began. It was sad to see so many deaths and know that had that trauma been prevented, those lives could have been saved. Similarly, it’s easy to lose hope in the many broken systems of America these days, but the fact that Major and organizations like The Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project, which she led for a number of years, exist and continue to fight for equality, well, I hope it’s able to imprint some belief that there’s still good in the world, and that to nurture that good, we have to give it life force by showing up and defending the issues that matter.

So on this day, this International Women’s Day, I hope you’ll pledge to be present and to make shit happen, whatever that looks like, without hesitation towards equality and for the greater movement of benevolence for all humans.