my summer in cape town: or, i am sorry for using you
They will ask you
Whether your project can inflict ‘harm’
And you will respond: “minor discomfort” to expedite the review process
Her name is Cym,
And the arc of her smile mirrors her painted eyebrows,
On Mondays she asks you what you did over the weekend.
You do not tell her. You are guilty of the conversion rate, how you can afford a club, a skin, a language that she never will.
She wants to know what it feels like to live in America
If you have a handsome boyfriend there who will buy you dinner sometimes
In your field research class they will teach you about the importance of obtaining consent.
Cym cannot sign your form
So she communicates with the earnestness of hazel eyes
Smiles, tells you how she used to let heroine and men
Inside of her and sometimes couldn’t tell the difference,
Tells you how the cops would beat her in men’s prisons
In the international research workshop they will tell you not to get involved in your subjects’ personal life.
Your palms are sweaty, do not let them smear the ink. Keep writing as she laughs and encourages you to ask more questions
An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. When the size of an aneurysm increases, there is a significant risk of rupture, often resulting in death.
A researcher is an ambitious distraction at the back of the room. When the amount of information increases, there is a significant risk of an epiphany, often resulting in a published paper.
She will die suddenly nine months after your interview. You can still remember the scent her smile
Dear Cym: In America I am learning how to think that I am better than you.
In fact, I am majoring in you. Don’t worry, they don’t use your name, keep it confidential
I am turning your body into a new theory
Academics work like Johns sometimes don’t worry,
Don’t worry they will pay me to use you,
I will cut you some of the profit in my acknowledgements.
My thesis will be in English,
In the accent you heard on re-runs of friends, Cym I’m sorry we weren’t friends, but I wanted to keep it professional
I promise I will print it on the whitest paper I can find,
So they can see the black in your words
I will bury you in a library,
I hope you will find home there
In this haunted house of quotations
Hanging on the shelves like skeletons
Listen to the recorded transcript on repeat,
Feel her laughter crawl into you,
Watch it spark the timber wood of your bones,
And burn your paper in the flames
And cry because we refuse to let people inside of us in fear of imploding
And cry because you have the story of a woman nested in the back of your throat and you do not deserve it.
What I really meant to ask is:
What theory did you use to stay warm at night?
Is, Can you teach me?
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FULL CALL-OUT TO CANCEL RACHEL IVEY'S SPEAKING DATES
Please email and call these spaces and let them know that you are unhappy that they are allowing Rachel Ivey of Deep Green Resistance to speak at their space as part of the Resistance Rewritten speaking tour. Rachel Ivey considers trans women to be men; equates being transgender with being “trans racial”; and is friends with Cathy Brennan, a well-known transmisogynist who has publicly outed trans youth, filed lawsuits against her critics, and campaigned against gender identity protections. More on Rachel Ivey and DGR’s transphobia here.
We have included a sample email below.
June 1: Florida International University - Biscayne Bay (Miami, FL)
June 23: Bluestockings (New York, NY)
June 24: City College of New York (New York, NY)
Office of Student Life
June 28: First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia, PA)
July 4: University of Toronto (Toronto, Ontario)
July 19: The Democracy Center (Boston, MA)
To whom it may concern,
I am writing because I saw that [space name] is hosting an event on the Resistance Rewritten tour featuring speaker Rachel Ivey of Deep Green Resistance. I am asking that you cancel the event due to Rachel Ivey’s oppressive beliefs about transgender people.
Rachel Ivey considers transgender women to be men; equates being transgender with a white person saying they are a person of color; and is friends with Cathy Brennan, a well-known anti-trans blogger who has publicly outed transgender youth, filed lawsuits against her critics, and campaigned against gender identity protections. Deep Green Resistance, the organization for which Ivey is speaking, has as its official policy that trans women are men. This is unacceptable.
I urge you to cancel this event. Transgender women are some of the most at-risk people in our society for violence, harassment, and murder. People like Rachel Ivey wish to obscure the intense violence done to transgender women, and indeed reinforce trans oppression.
I see so many people on tumblr who proudly identify as queer and who fall outside the binary and face a daily struggle. I know it’s hard some days to just get out of bed, but you can do it. Embrace yourself. Understand the beauty you possess. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are amazing and you have so much to offer the world.
Never be afraid to be your confident, attractive, talented self.