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“I can’t be an activist all the time for you”

September 12, 2010

It’s been too long HBers, sorry for my complete lack of posts for what, like a month?

Here’s a great post about how hard, and painful, it can be to be an activist, particularly if you are advocating for yourself. Genderbitch writes powerfully and honestly about her experience as a trans activist, particularly since her transition,

Every little fucking thing that people who call themselves allies, friends, family, loved ones, whatever, every subtle transphobic, cissexist, binarist, transmisogynistic and cissupremacist these people do, it wounds one of us and sometimes all of us.

And we are asked to sit down. We are asked not to be harsh. To educate. To accept apologies, whether they’re apologetic for the actions or simply apologetic to have been caught. We’re asked to be kind. We’re asked to suck up. To appease.

Activism requires sacrifices. But we… I, can not be an activist 60/60/24/7/4.5/12/forever. I can’t even do it most of the week. Most of the day. Most of an hour. A significant portion of the year. I can not sacrifice my dignity, my health, my well being and my safety for activism.

Yesterday, I celebrated pride in my new hometown of Boulder. After months of being away from my community at Carleton (particularly my Happy Bodies community!) I forgot how nice it feels to be in a space where I can talk about my LGBTQ/feminist/body positive activism casually without being worried I will have to justify myself or get into a conversation that could become uncomfortable. I am lucky that my identities are rarely challenged and that generally I “pass”. I pass in that the way I look and dress doesn’t instantly set me as deviating from the norm. I pass in that although I view my sexuality as more complicated, I pretty comfortably fit into a heterosexual dating world. Even my body size passes most of the time. Although I feel hurt by size-ist and fat-shaming comments, the speaker never seems to intend to lump me into the group being criticized.

So I really respect where Genderbitch is coming from in this post. There are some issues I hold so close to me that on the wrong day, any misplaced word can sting. I find myself avoiding the topics or letting comments slide because I just don’t think I want to feel that hurt, particularly if someone is close to me. But that’s why I try to hold true to the most important advice for activists – to take care of yourself. As Genderbitch puts it,

Self care comes first. Survival comes first. And I will not sacrifice those.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 14, 2010 3:20 PM

    “We cannot live without our lives.” — Barbara Deming. One of my personal favorite quotes.

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