Archive for Morgan Boecher

EVERY Color of the Rainbow: A New York City Pride Story

by Morgan Boecher

Last weekend was my first time attending a Pride event of a New-York-City scale. My only other experience was when I was a teenager during the sleepy summer months in Gainesville, Florida. The festival that happened in our downtown plaza was an inspiring effort, with all the Roy G. Biv decorations and dildo raffles, but it never overwhelmed like NYC Pride does.

What overwhelmed me the most, more than the campy getups and the countless people streaming through 5th Avenue, was the comfort of finding queer folks around every corner. It made me feel a little more at home, at least. As a transsexual man with an undeniably feminine physique, I have trouble fitting within the everyday cissexual (non-trans) world. When I go butch, I look lesbian, which gets it all wrong.

However, NYC Pride weekend, subsuming all in delightful queerness, made my gender identity matter a little less. At least when I was walking around the streets being one in the crowd. At other times it mattered more.

Preceding the Sunday parade was the Dyke March, a politically charged protest demanding equal rights, the end of LBTQ violence, and visibility. Considering how cis-male-centric mainstream images of LGBTQ culture are, the Dyke March is a wonderful way for queer women to claim their space. Being someone who does not in any way identify as a dyke, I respectfully stood aside. Giving oppressed groups a chance to their own space is powerful and important. I did get to chat with a friend of mine who participated in the march, though.

Our talk of gendered space led us to ruminate over the displacement of trans people. Cissexual people are often confused about where trans men and women ought and ought not be. The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is a good example, with their reluctance to allow trans womyn access to the “womyn-born-womyn” space. Anyway, while discussing the gendered barriers of the Dyke March, my friend told me that she met someone there who expressed skepticism about trans men.

“I just don’t understand trans men because I enjoy being a woman so much,” she said.

*Sigh.* Just the same sentiment I met when I came out to some proudly womyn-born-womyn friends of mine. Despite the beautiful mélange of gender and sexual diversity crowding the streets of NYC, trans experiences are still going misunderstood. It’s not that trans men devalue womanhood; it’s just that they don’t identify with it.

The Dyke March is an empowering step toward recognizing a greater range of human experience, but some trans visibility could stretch that recognition even further.

Call for Submissions- LGBTQ Pride Month

It’s time again to wave those rainbow flags in celebration of humanity’s diverse array of gender and sexual orientation! In honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, Paradigm Shift is seeking blog, graphic art, and video submissions related to LGBTQ issues and experiences.  Please let us know how you would like to be credited (by name or anonymous)- deadline, Sunday, June 27th.

Email submissions to:

The modern Pride movement took shape out of the Stonewall riots in 1969, a violent clash where gay people fought back against New York City police and their unconstitutional bar raids. The incident was well publicized and cultivated a sense of community among gay people. The concept of Pride resulted in opposition to shame, which was and remains a social mechanism for oppressing LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer) people. The Pride movement has furthered the political struggle for rights by making the LGBTQ community and its issues known.

LGBTQ Pride is a feminist concern because stopping sexist oppression means stopping the systems that create other forms of oppression as well. It would not make sense to focus solely on gender without recognizing the numerous other ways a person would be affected by class, race, sexual orientation, and other forms of diversity. We invite you to voice your ideas and experiences pertaining to Pride in order to increase visibility and awareness of LGBTQ issues as feminist issues.

Some ideas for submissions:

  • Discuss generational shifts within and outside of the LGBTQ community
  • Describe a personal encounter with discrimination and how you dealt with it
  • Reflect on recent LGBTQ-related incidents in the news
  • Create an expression of Pride
  • Recall a fond experience at a Pride celebration
  • Give an example of how LGBTQ issues and feminist issues intersect

Click here for a list of Pride events happening in major cities!

Equal Visibility Everywhere: changing the face of America one symbol at a time

How many national holidays for female historical figures are there? When is the last time you saw a woman on a stamp? Where are women’s faces on our paper currency?

EvE: Equal Visibility Everywhere was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in early March 2010, and their mission is to increase the visibility of women as positive role models in the media, as well as the nation’s monuments such as statues, street names and postage stamps.

“We live in a culture dominated by male icons, images, memorials, and statues. This subtle but continuous flood of male images both inflates male entitlement and diminishes the confidence of women. When girls and women don’t see themselves on our currency or our stamps, or memorialized in our statuary, the message is clear: You are invisible. You don’t matter.”

Visit their website to find out more and contribute to this important cause.

Sex Work, Human Rights, & Feminism Series Part 2: The Image of a Sex Worker

This series of posts from the community is in preparation for Paradigm Shift’s next event, “Sex Work and Human Rights: Feminist Advocacy Strategies” A panel discussion and screening on TUES, March 30th, 7pm, NYC. We want to hear your stories! View call for submissions- deadline 3/28-

by Morgan Boecher

Sex work is a divisive issue among contemporary feminists. Is it a job that enables independence and empowerment or is it a compromised position for women that reiterates sexist roles? The heated debate from various sides indicates that the answer is not simple. Sex work has had a decidedly positive impact on some women’s lives, while other women have never known the meaning of empowerment through sex work. The myriad experiences of those involved with and affected by sex work cannot add up to a sum total of “sex work = good” or “sex work = bad.” However, patterns emerge and sex work begins to mean something.

For me, sex work means danger. There is someone very close to me who is a sex worker, and she is not empowered. She is not free or independent. She is controlled by boyfriends and drugs and insecurities. She hurts herself and those around her all the time. Her idea of what a woman should be like – sexy, fashionable, cute, rich – is a cocktail of TV stereotypes. It’s as though she consumed the most literal hourglass-shaped template from mainstream media.

But to say that the poor thing had no choices is terribly condescending. Of course she had choices, even though they were embedded within a culture that partially promotes the glamorous porn-star-gangster image. Out of many options, she chose to focus on that one image of what a woman can be in American society.

This is where I get caught up in the idea that sex work is dangerous for women. The media portrays a specific, one-sided, degraded image of what a sex worker is, despite the vast diversity in individual experience and personhood among sex workers. This misogynist portrayal incites people to copy it, thus producing a pattern that gets us no closer to a feminist future. Of course there are sex workers who are aware of the messages that are propagated by the media, and actively decide how to respond. No sex worker is without choice, but the invasive effects of the media cannot be ignored either.

So is sex work inherently more dangerous than other businesswoman-customer interactions? Besides the physical and emotional complications that are usually involved with intercourse, no. But within the context of a sexist society that naturalizes sex work as something that women were meant to do (how many times have I heard that lame “it’s the oldest profession!” excuse?), well, that’s another matter.

I question whether sex work in any form can be a way to empower women as a whole. I feel like I can be convinced otherwise, but right now I am doubtful that it can. I have seen the heinous ways in which the one I care about was violated, and how that violation led to her downward spiral of which sex work is a part. If anything is to change, though, sex workers must be the ones to define themselves, not the misogynist media. And the sex workers who have the well-being of women in mind, namely feminist sex workers, will be the ones to redefine the trade for the better.

Sexuality, Virginity & “Purity” Series Part 4: Queering Virginity

This series of posts from the community is in preparation for Paradigm
Shift’s next event, “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women”
A Discussion with JESSICA VALENTI, Author &
Founder/Editor on TUES, FEB. 23rd, 7pm, NYC. We want to hear your
stories. View call for submissions- deadline 2/19- Click here!

by Morgan Boecher

Is there such a thing as queer virginity? The argument could be made that virginity is just another convention of the hetero-norm, not unlike how some people view marriage as an inherently heterosexual institution. The idea of virginity is not terribly practical, just as marriage is not necessary for survival. Looking at the traditional meaning of virginity as a gauge for a woman’s “purity,” in conjunction with contemporary rituals such as purity balls, which obviate the fact that virginity is largely about controlling women, it might as well be left out of queer culture.

However, there are plenty of unsavory customs that permeate American society and clash with queer lives. The surest way to subvert them is by giving them new definitions. Many people have appropriated the marriage tradition to work in a queer context. Perhaps virginity can also be reclaimed.

Queer sex is necessarily different from the monogamous, heterosexual affair; therefore it automatically alters the traditional concept of virginity as the state of a woman before she has been penetrated by a penis. Meandering from that construct could lead to a plethora of exciting places.

Before exploring there, though, I would like to find a word other than “non-virgin” to describe the state of after one has had sexual intercourse. Just like how it is detrimental to have one’s political group known as “anti-” something (e.g.: anti-choice, anti-federalists), it doesn’t help those who are proud of their sexual experiences to be called non-virgins. So let me know if you come up with a good alternative.

About queer virginity, though, since it means basically anything but the norm, one sees a great deal of subjectivity come into play. An example may be a 40-year-old lesbian with a husband and children who is yet to have intimate relations with a woman. Virginity may apply to someone who has not had pleasurable, consensual sex before, but who has had the misfortune of experiencing the other kind. Perhaps a transwoman who is yet to receive bottom surgery considers herself a virgin. One case where virginity might not even be relevant is with an asexual person.

Virginity here becomes a unique and personal story for each individual, rather than a sorting method of who is and isn’t “pure.” If the idea of virginity has to stick around, I would say that reclaiming the concept is a step toward a brighter, queerer future.

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