trans100

Sense8 & Lana Wachowski: The Balance between Accountability and Activism

I’m gonna make a post that’s gonna be very, very unpopular. I’m gonna make a post that’s going to make people very angry. All I ask, is that you finish reading the post, before you engage. Then it’s free for all and if I should be raked over coals I will go willingly. But this is a post I feel I need to make because this bothers me and this is a critical moment in media production and the decisions taken, collectively, today, will have a profound effect in my life and the lives of people like me for the next decade.

Here’s the thing, people are advocating boycotting Sense8 because Lana Wachowski is involved in the project, and I think that mindset is both uncritical and unhelpful in the context of accountability and activism.

If you don’t know, Lana Wachowski delivered a speech during the Trans100 event a couple months ago. It was a very poorly thought speech where she absolutely failed to unpack her own privilege and instead basically steamrolled anyone who wasn’t white, ablebodied and trans. 

Don’t take my word for it, go watch it.

She basically blamed black people for the lack of advancement in the trans movement. She used exotifying and offensive language to talk about people from India. She appropriated the struggles of people whose minority status she does not share. She - and this is the big one for me - equated the struggles of LGBT+ people with the struggles of black people living under Jim Crow laws.

It was a terrible speech and people walked out and made a fuss about it, rightfully so. She needs to be held accountable for the utterly insensitive and offensive things she said.

I would absolutely, under any other circumstances, advocate for boycotting future projects until she owned up to that shit and offered the public apologies she owes.

But I cannot, in good conscience, support the idea of a boycott when it comes to Sense8.

And it’s not because I am madly in love with the series itself. You can get that objection out of the way. No, I would still be writing this post even if I had walked out of the series mid-episode one, like I wanted to originally.

The thing is, Sense8 as a series itself, is one thing, but at this point in time, it is also a statement. A very loud, very powerful statement that we, the minorities so rarely acknowledged by the media who are getting represented in a thoroughly positive manner in this series, cannot afford to go unechoed.

I would go as far as to say that boycotting Sense8 over Lana Wachowski’s speech is as good for the social justice movement in general, as abstaining from voting is good for the political system of today. That is to say, not one bit in the slightest.

The stakes being what they are, our circumstances being what they are, clamoring for the boycot of Sense8 is irresponsible, uncritical and downright petty.

Because this is the first project of this scope with a focus on diversity. This is a project that by its very nature as a first is issuing a political statement by its existence alone. It’s unfortunate, particularly considering the many mishaps along the way; more so to come out in the aftermath of such an ugly, unsightly spectacle from one of its creators. But the fact is, we have to make a choice. And we have to make a choice, looking at the future, because it’s the future of diverse representation in media that is at stake here. And that sounds dramatic, but that’s just the way it is.

Because media is controlled by corporations whose real compromise is not to ethical, moral values, but to money and things that make it. And a show like Sense8 is the first big, mainstream attempt at proving that diverse representation can make money. If we fail this piece of media, like we failed Princess and the Frog, like we failed Home, we are giving our real, objective enemies, all the weapons they need to keep things the way they are. If a show like Sense8 is successful and we make it successful, loudly and clearly citing its diverse representation as the core reason for its success? We’re sending a message to those corporations that don’t care about ethical, moral values, but money. We have an advantage here, because this are corporations. They system is written on profit margins and TV ratings, not on the ideology of a single person. If we prove, with profit margins and TV ratings, that diverse representation is something we are willing to pay for, that we can relate to the stories of people who aren’t white, American men, that we will consume media like this not in spite of but because of the diverse representation? We have a very good chance of shifting the paradigms of media producing today.

Because Sense8 is not another project by another racist, oblivious white producer sticking their tongue down their throats and pretending they know what they’re talking about. And to advocate we treat it that way betrays a petty lack of context and a uncritical spirit that will cut off its nose for the sake of spiting its face.

Now, I’m not saying Lana Wachowski should not be held accountable for what she’s done. She should. She absolutely must. But understanding the current situation and the stakes on this, we need to realize that our usual method of holding someone accountable is not viable, not if we’re gonna continue damning ourselves, as a community, to something we know it’s worse. Not if it means keeping things the same.

I am by no means saying you should not complain about what Lana Wachowski has said and continue to demand apologies and building pressure until those apologies are delivered. Please do. This post is not meant to invite silence, but actual dialogue. Actual critical thought and discussion on the matter. Write letters. Write blogposts. Do not allow time to sweep away her words. Do not allow her to pretend it never happened. Do not allow her to continue her behavior unaccounted for.

I just ask that you take a moment to be rational and critical and make a conscious choice about what the consequences of your actions are. Because in this case, mindless, careless discourse could be far more damning that you know. And if you truly believe in intersectionality, if you absolutely believe that representation and equality are important? You cannot afford to be careless or mindless.

Calpernia Addams grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. She served as a Hospital Corpsman with the Navy and United States Marine Corps. During her last year in the military she came out as a transgender woman.Addams chose the name “Calpernia” from the William Shakespeare play Julius Caesar (a variant spelling of Caesar’s wife Calpurnia) and its appearance on a tombstone in the film The Addams Family

Sense8

So I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff about this show around and I did my own research so I’d like to state my opinion.
Yes, one of the creators, Lana Wachowski, a white trans women, made a racist speech and is overall a racist person. I don’t have any links but you are welcome to Google Lana Wachowski Trans100 speech to find out the facts on your own.

Yes, in an ideal world, people should boycott the show, or at least not do things to profit a racist creator.

HOWEVER sense8 is an incredibly diverse show, in terms of race, gender, culture, and sexuality. It also a very well done show. So far, the views of the creator have not been displayed on the show in a way that promotes whatever the characters are saying about it.

The reason why I believe people should continue watching the show despite the benefit to Lana is that at this point, Netflix is experimenting in representation in a larger way than anything on TV right now. If this show does not gain popularity, and does not get good views, Lana’s career will not be ruined. Rather, Netflix, or other TV networks, will decide that creating diverse shows is not what will make them money.

I believe the greater interest of representation in TV is at stake here, and there is more to be gained than lost by watching sense8. Sometimes compromises have to be made.

That being said, I am always open to the opinions of others and I would love to here your perspectives on it. Feel free to reblog and respond, but please do not spread negativity. I apologize if anything I said was ignorant, being white and cis, but I would like to have discussions not arguments.

Thank you.

Marci Lee Bowers  is an American gynecologist who operated a surgical practice in Trinidad, Colorado. She moved her practice to San Mateo, California in December 2010. Bowers is viewed as an innovator in the field of transgender surgery, as well as a pioneer, being the first transsexual woman to be performing the surgery. Bowers has been referred to as the “Rock Star” of transgender surgery.

Aya Kamikawa (上川 あや Kamikawa Aya?, born January 25, 1968) is a Tokyo municipal official, the first transgender person to seek or win elected office in Japan. She was elected in April 2003. Kamikawa, then a 35-year-old writer, submitted her election application papers with a blank space for “sex.”

She won a four-year term as an independent under huge media attention, placing sixth of 72 candidates running for 52 seats in the Setagaya ward assembly, the most populous district in Tokyo. Despite an announcement that the government would continue to consider her male officially, she stated that she would work as a woman. Her platform was to improve rights for women, children, the elderly, the handicapped, and LGBT people.

In April 2007, she was re-elected to her second term, placing second of 71 candidates running for 52 in the same ward assembly. She is the only openly transgender official in Japan at this point.

cosmopolitan.com
The 5 Most Inspiring, Thought-Provoking Quotes From The Trans 100

The event honors 100 outstanding members of the transgender community each year.

The Trans 100 is the lede in a story about trans women by a trans woman … IN COSMO. I no longer recognize my life.

I remember stealing moments to read Cosmo with a combination of joy and shame. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I seen trans women inside.

Congrats to Christina Kahrl for the gig, and to Janet, Laverne, Geena, and Brynn for the mentions.

instagram

The internationally acclaimed, #CarnegieHall performer and violinist #TonaBrown opens the #Trans100 after a powerful land acknowledgement from Myles Brady. #epic

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Caroline “Tula” Cossey (born 31 August 1954) is an English model. She is one of the world’s most well known transgender women, having appeared in a James Bond film and been the first to pose for Playboy. Since being outed by British tabloid News of the World, Cossey has fought for her right to legally marry and to be recognised by the law as a woman.

instagram

YES! @transtechsocial Orientation Day in #chicago #girlslikeus #guyslikeus #wehappytrans #trans100 #transtechchicago #Repost #RETWEET #Donate #twoc @misspreciousdavis

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Eva Robin’s  is from Bologna, Italy. She is a transgender Italian actress and activist. She was born male and developed extremely feminine features naturally. She considers herself an androgynous individual, rather than transsexual. She says that while she “was an apparently ‘normal’ boy growing up, at puberty she developed breasts and her body failed to masculinize like the other boys”, which indicated an intersex condition. She felt that she was meant to be a woman, and changed her name accordingly.

Contrary to conflicting mentions, Eva currently does spell her last name with an apostrophe in it. She took her nom de plume from a character in Italy’s Diabolik comics, Eva Kant, and writer Harold Robbins. She later saw the name “Robbins” spelled as “Robin’s” and decided to take on that particular spelling.

Christina Kahrl is one of the co-founders of Baseball Prospectus. She is the former executive editor of the think tank’s website, BaseballProspectus.com, the former managing editor for their annual publication, and is currently writing and editing for ESPN.com. She is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Kahrl is an activist on civil rights issues for the transgender community in her hometown of Chicago and a Board Director of Equality.The story of her publicly coming out as a transsexual sportswriter in 2003 was part of a GLAAD award-nominated segment entitled “Transitions” on HBO’s Real Sports that aired in 2010.