Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Some Folk From The Trans 100 2015 Class That Have Touched Me

I find it personally useful to look for genderqueer people who are leading happy, productive lives to use as role-models, and I like having a variety of role-models to sorta mix and match. I have a much larger post on this over here. One of the things I've done in the past is go through the 2013 and 2014 classes of the Trans 100 for inspirational non-binary lives, and the 2015 class was announced a couple weeks ago. (I know I'm late here.) There are a bunch of cool non-binary folks in it. Obviously, there are many cool binary trans people on the list to, but that's not my focus.  Ok I lied, I want to talk about a few of them too. So this post is sort of my "Non-Binary Hero/ines Part 2, plus a little extra …

Some of the Cool Non-Binary Folk from the Trans 100 2015 Class ...

Avi Bowie -
Avi is a multi-racial, genderqueer, from Chicago who does social work and social justice stuff, especially with LGBTQ youth.

Rashida Davison -
Rashida is a non-binary artist and activist from North Carolina, whose been living in Columbus, OH. Rashida is involved in leadership in TransOhio, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as filmmaking and photography work. They take they.

Sam Feder

Sam is a filmmaker, artist and professor, who takes gender neutral pronouns. Sam's films include “Boy I Am” and “Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Present Danger.” I've been unable to determine if Sam is related to the Ellen Feder and Eva Feder that I've written about before ...

Nic Kay

NIC is an artist whose work straddles performance, video, collage, printmaking, and installation. They have roots in NYC and Chicago. "The least challenging thing I've done in my life is embrace the nonbinary gender spectrum. What's been more challenging? Coming out as a teenager. Living on my own afterward. Moving from New York City to Chicago. Navigating the world in general as a black person in America."

Malachi Larrabee-Garza   

Malachi is a mixed-race genderqueer who works on juvenile justice and incarceration issues, as well as working with queer and trans incarcerated or formerly incarcerated folks. S/he also does a bunch of cheap consulting to “broke organizations who are changing the world.”

Jiz Lee 

I already wrote about Jiz Lee here, but they are also in the 2015 Trans 100 class. They have a blog at JizLee.com, are currently editing their first book, COMING OUT LIKE A PORN STAR, with essays on intersectional experiences in pornography. They are also the co-editor of the Porn Studies Journal Special Issue: Porn and Labour.

Petey Peterson 

Petey is the Program Coordinator for Vanderbilt Universities Office of LGBTQI Life, and also did work with academic LGBT groups at Iowa State. They are very involved in MBLGTACC (Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference), which I have managed not to go to for several years in a row, even though several of my friends and acquaintances in daily life have … Petey takes they.

Ms. Dr. Joseph L. Simonis (Josie)

Josie is an athlete, activist, writer, and scientist. Josie is a conservation biologist at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and has done ecological research in the past. They are also heavily involved in supporting trans identities in the world of athletics. She's done football and wrestling in the past, but these days skates Roller Derby for the Windy City Rollers and Team Illinois and has competed at national and international championship tournaments, as well as editing the derby news website Derby Central. Personally, I'm also intrigued by Simonis's decisions for navigating academia with publications under separate names. She takes both she/her AND they/them. They use Ms. AND Dr. They include the names Joseph AND Josie on their resumes, CVs and webpages. Maybe she identifies as a transwoman rather than a non-binary person, and if so I certainly apologize, but she displays her prior male persona in public presentation a lot more than many trans people feel comfortable doing ...

Turner Stulting 

Turner is a junior at Bucknell University in rural Pennsylvania where ze is majoring in women’s and gender studies with minors in public policy and social justice. Turner is the President of the campus Gender and Sexuality Alliance and the Assistant Director of Common Ground, a student-led diversity immersion retreat. Ze is agender “and to me that means that I don’t identify as a man or a woman, or anywhere in-between. I just identify as Turner.” Ze's pronouns are ze/zir/zirs, rather than my own far superior ze/hir/hirs. Ze must be secretly in league with Raphael Carter ...

Alok Vaid-Menon 

alok is a trans South Asian writer, performance artist, and community organizer based in New York City who grew up in Texas. Alok currently serves on staff of the Audre Lorde Project, a community organizing center for and by queer and trans people of color. They also are on tour with DarkMatter, an activist poetry collaboration.

It's possible that there are other folks on the 2015 Trans 100 list who think of themselves as non-binary even though I can find no mention of it in their most easy to find online biographies, especially if they use he or she sometimes. Rev. Megan Rohrer, for instance, seems to be a trans woman, and uses she, but also carefully avoids using any pronouns in places it seems a bit awkward. Perhaps she thinks of herself as genderqueer instead a transwoman. I can't tell. Do I read too much in? Probably. I can't imagine the lines one must carefully walk while trying to be a Lutheran minister. So I apologize if I missed anyone who should be included, or included anyone in this list who doesn't think of themselves as non-binary. A particularly tricky case is the next one ...

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu 

She is a kumu, a teacher in the Native Hawaiian tradition, focusing on hula and Native Hawaiian culture. She takes the pronoun she, and identifies as a “transwoman” in English, but a “mahu” in Hawaiian. Does that make her a binary transwoman, or a non-binary person? I have no idea. Frankly, it's kinda nice to problematize even the binary/non-binary distinction with an actual lived life, rather than as an abstruse point of theory. She's the founder of the Kulia Na Mamo transgender health project, and the subject of the award-winning PBS documentary KUMU HINA.

My Colleagues

The thing is there are also several clearly binary trans women in the 2015 Trans 100, that I want to highlight too, because I work with them ...

Greta Gustava Martela 
That's Nina on the left, and Greta on the right ...
is a trans dyke and a software engineer living in San Francisco, CA. Ms. Martela and her partner, Nina Chaubal, founded Trans Lifeline, a crisis line for transgender people staffed entirely by transgender people. Since its launch in September 2014 Trans Lifeline has grown very quickly. In January of 2015 Trans Lifeline’s ninety operators talked to transgender people in crisis for 513 hours. I email with Greta and Nina somewhat often, and think of myself as working for them. I'm so proud of the work they've done, and the recognition they've gotten for their work.

Alexis Paige 
Alexis is a bisexual mixed race Korean trans woman. She assisted in the planning of Portland, OR's first official Trans Pride March, planning the Meaningful Care Conference (a national LGBTQ medical conference), and in the promotion of and education about Oregon state’s Medicaid program ending exclusions of transition related transgender healthcare. Currently she works at the Cascade AIDS Project assisting people in applying for healthcare and is a member of the Trans inclusion committee at the Cascade AIDS Project. She also volunteers as a HIV tester and counselor at monthly trans community nights at Pivot in Portland. More to the point she is a fellow operator for the Trans Lifeline, and I have interacted with her briefly.

Emma Violet Todd 

Emma is the Deputy Executive Director of the Trans Lifeline. At the Lifeline her focus includes developing better outreach and resources for trans people in rural communities and trans people of color. Emma has also volunteered with organizations such as GLSEN, Equality Illinois, Oklahomans for Equality, and Pride at the University of Tulsa to advocate for support, equality, and liberation of the LGBT community. She lives in rural Illinois. Again I periodically interact with her.

More Special Mentions from the 2015 class of the Trans 100

Elijah Oberman - a transman punk Jewish violinist who performs with the Shondes. I am not sure, but half suspect that he is a friend of a friend ...

Jennell Jaquays  - a transwoman who was involved in the tabletop roleplaying industry and video game industry back in the day. (She was with Judge's Guild, and has art and writing credits in a bunch of 70s and 80s RPGs, and on the video gaming side did a lot of the conversion work to get arcade games like Pac-man and Donkey-Kong onto home platforms.) She's also involved in PressXY.com a cool a site for transgender issues in gaming.

As before, please mention any non-binary folk who have inspired you, that I haven't showed yet in the comments ...


  1. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
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    1. Yeah, you may notice I have a 2014 and 2015 version of this article but no 2016 or 2017 version. Partly I just don't blog as much now that I'm working full time, and partly on this one, I identify as a binary transwoman these days, so I don't really feel terribly qualified to speak on non-binary stuff except in the "this was how I experienced my life and made sense of myself for a couple years a while ago" sense. But thanks for reading, and glad you liked it.