Policing with Shame

13010637_10156795045380082_2352222034748479914_nIf Twitter existed in the 1960’s ‪#‎QueerLivesMatter‬ would have been trending; anyone who was of a minority or non conforming gender or sexuality was routinely harassed, intimidated and beaten by police. On one August night in 1966 at Compton’s Cafeteria, when the police attempted their latest arrest of a trans woman, she threw her coffee in his face, enough was enough, the fight back had begun. This was the start of the first of many riots against the routine police violence against queer people, the most famous of which being the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York city.

Roll the clock forward four decades; these riots spawned a global movement of Pride marches and events where we celebrate those who fought for the rights we have today and those we are still inspired to fight for. We march, chant, sing and dance our way through colourful streets with rage, joy, love and rainbow police cars….

Wait a minute rainbow police cars! WTAF?!

That’s right, make your way to any major LGBT event / Pride or village and you will see them in their technicoloured glory often with twee slogans like ‘Policing With Pride’. Are you fucking kidding me? This is a worldwide celebration of a community standing together against police brutality. On what planet is it in any way appropriate for the police to be using it as some sort of fucking marketing opportunity? It makes me sick.

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There has been no acknowledgement of, no apology for and no change in police behaviour. Police brutality still exists today. In the UK, 827 people died during or following police contact from 2004-13; not a single officer was prosecuted (and hasn’t been since 1969). The IPCC’s own figures show that 2015 deaths in custody were the highest in 5 years.

Routine police attacks on queer venues may not be common place currently but as long as police brutality continues, if we are truly proud of those who stood up for our rights in the 60s, the best way we can honour them is by continuing their campaign. Whether the victims of police violence are queer folk, students, miners, people of colour or anyone else, we should stand in solidarity with them.

And the police can take their rainbow police cars, paint them black and drive them the fuck away.

~HP

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Policing with Shame

Sheffield IWW Day School

On the 19th of March, Sheffield IWW will be holding their annual One Big Day School and Queer Agenda Sheffield will be discussing the rights of queer workers with Action for Trans Health. Here’s a bit more information on the day school:

This year, the Day School will be focusing on gender. This government’s austerity programme has disproportionately impacted women and gender-oppressed people. Cuts to the public sector have a greater impact on women than on men. Benefits make up, on average, one fifth of women’s income, compared to one tenth of men’s. This, coupled with cuts to children and young people’s services and the increasing number of women on precarious employment contracts, amounts to an attack on women and gender oppressed people.

To challenge this, we will be hearing from what different groups from around the UK have been doing and we will be working to build our own community and workplace campaigns and actions.

The Day School’s primary objective is to reach out to new members, targeting individuals and families from the most marginalised communities in Sheffield. We will be hearing from Focus E15 Mums who have run successful campaigns against forced evictions for single mothers in inner city London. We will also be hosting Maternity Action who advocate for the Maternity rights of women on zero hours contracts and health care access for women in the asylum system. In addition to this, we have a talk from the English Collective of Prostitutes who support sex workers and campaign for the abolition of laws that criminalise them. Our events also include a workshop by Sisters Uncut who use direct action to challenge this government’s cuts to already underfunded domestic violence services.

Some IWW members will also be running workshops and discussions. One such workshop will be the “Organiser 101 Taster”. This taster, from one of our most popular training programmes, aims to equip workers with the ability to challenge their bosses and to organise against exploitation. Our Organiser 101 Taster will focus on gendered issues in the workplace; be they about the right to use toilets of your own choice, sexual harassment or the right to breastfeed at work. We will also have the opportunity to hear about the rich history of the IWW’s commitment to end gender based oppression.

Our day will end with a plenary session that will seek to create new campaigns and initiatives in our own communities as well as to give us the opportunity to discuss how austerity and capitalist exploitation have impacted on ourselves and other fellow workers.

For those who are new to the IWW, this will be an ideal chance to see what we’re they’re all about and to get involved. As a revolutionary union, the IWW is committed to challenging the systems and structures that lead to patriarchy and gender based oppression.

The venue is fully accessible, childcare will be available and food will be vegan.

Sheffield IWW Day School

IWW/Action for Trans Health Activist Training Day

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QASh members attended an activist training day put on by IWW and Action for Trans Health on January 23rd, organised by Pazuzu Gaylord and Jess Bradley. The meeting was open to anyone but due to high levels of interest trans people were prioritised, welcoming mostly locals but some ATH comrades were from elsewhere in the country.

We started the day off with a discussion of what made a good campaign, brainstorming a few ideas as a group, here’s what we came up with:

  • good propaganda
  • lasting impact and effectiveness
  • enjoyability
  • specific and focused aims
  • achievable goals
  • accessible on different levels (eg. media campaigns as some aren’t able to take part on physical protests or other direct action)
  • making connections and building solidarity with others
  • disrupting shit things
  • ability to speak upwards to decision makers but also to empower us
  • policy + social change
  • to have activists who are knowledgeable on the hows and whys of our campaign
  • flexibility to adapt to criticism

After a break we went on to talk about issues that affected our local trans communities including but not limited to: trans exclusive night-life, long GIC waiting lists, little to no free community spaces, gendered toilets and rape crisis centers, the bureaucracy of name changing at uni and actively transphobic GPs.

From that we talked about solidarity and multiple issue campaigns and the various effectiveness of them, a discussion sparked about what we all understood inclusivity in our activism / campaigns to mean. Almost unanimously we came to conclusion that trans liberation activism should always be led by and in the hands of trans people, with the role of cis people to be to listen, support and advocate. On this it was noted we needed to be continuously welcoming of questioning people and avoid the policing “not trans enough” attitudes that some fall into. We agreed we need to be aware of the different intersections people may face along with being trans, and how we can be more accommodating and supportive to those people. It was also clear that our activism would need to be vehemently anti-capitalist, non-hierarchical and intersectional.

With that and general campaigning ideas in mind, we had guest speech from QASh and IWW member Keira James to talk about her successful campaign last year to get her job back, when she was unfairly dismissed from her job due to her workplace’s transphobic attitudes about which toilet they were allowed to use. Keira emphasised the importance of knowing one’s legal rights (ie. it’s not illegal to use whichever toilet you want), the effectiveness of IWW’s ‘march on the boss’ technique and making companies look silly. From this we took away a general method we could use for future campaigns.

Decide demands > deliver demands > if denied escalate to action eg. picket line > tell media > repeat as necessary kicking up more of a storm each time until demands are met.

After a lunch supplied by IWW (tofu and noodles!), we went on to specific campaign planning in smaller groups, focusing on a point from our earlier list of “shitty local issues” list. [for obvious reasons we have decided to not to publicise our future campaign ideas online, but they are very promising :)]

Then Jess Bradley went on to give their train the trainers session, she went over how she teaches sexual health professionals about how to be more inclusive of trans people in their practice. She usually goes over the trans 101 with them, and then goes on to different scenarios and lets them talk about what they would do, making sure they’re learning how to correctly accommodate for trans people, not make assumptions about people’s body parts and not to misgender people. As a group we went over some of these scenarios ourselves and made sure we would know the correct way health professionals should act, and discussed how we would make sure we could give this training to others successfully. This was very useful and well received, it’s really encouraging to know that with Jess’ help we are able to inform doctors and other health professionals the right practice when it comes to treating trans patients, improving the well-being and treatment of trans people in the NHS.

The day was overall a great success, with great connections made, promising campaigns ideas and very insightful talks and training from Keira James and Jess Bradley. With enough interest to definitely point towards facilitating another larger meeting it seems like something which will likely be put on again later in the year. Queer Agenda Sheffield are very proud to be able to be affiliated with Action for Trans Health and look forward to working with them in the future.

Ashleigh x

If you are interested in more training around trans health and advocacy come along to their next training day, 13th of February at the LGBT Foundation, Manchester for more info check out the facebook event page.

To learn more about Action for Trans Health check out their site here!

IWW/Action for Trans Health Activist Training Day

Action for Trans Health Actvist Training

Action for Trans Health are a group that formed out of individual fundraisers to assist Trans individuals who struggled to reach their target goals in raising money for the treatment they required. Now they provide some financial assistance to many Trans people, with priority given to people facing greater barriers than most. They also interact with medical staff to provide them with workshops on Trans health needs, assisting people with complaints regarding malpractice. Furthermore they engage with the Trans community about health issues, providing them information on sexual health, harm reduction with regards to self-medication and information on the structures within the NHS. The question they posed, and suggested we keep in mid throughout the day was: What does democratic Trans healthcare look like and why should we fight for it? They then explained the meanings of some of the phrases that are frequently used when discussing Trans health, live informed consent, harm reduction, reproductive justice and patient – worker control.
We then had a talk from Sabah Choudrey about their experience in organising Trans Pride in Brighton. They also discussed what activism is, which made me realise how broad the term can be beyond just direct action because for many Trans people just living their lives visibly can become a form of activism. Furthermore we discussed the importance of linking struggles and joining up with other groups who have similar aims in a show of solidarity, this way we can effect change more efficiently. They discussed some of the issues they had experienced in organising Trans Pride and how after it gained popularity they encountered issues with regards to racism and cultural appropriation which were ignored by the largely white committee.
We then had a talk from some of the women who for the Lesbian Immigration Support Group (LISG) who shared their experiences of seeking asylum in the UK. And the homophobia they encountered during the process. I was personally very upset by the stories of these women being asked to prove their sexuality to Home Office officials, and being refused asylum when the people who’d interviewed them didn’t believe that they were lesbians. Furthermore I was shocked to hear that up until 2010 many asylum seekers were often told to return to their country of origin and live more discreetly in a different city where no one knew they were gay, instead of being granted asylum. The whole experience was very powerful and emotional, and made me see how groups such as LISG need to exist to support these women through these experiences.
We then had a discussion about Trans healthcare advocacy and what the different forms of advocacy are. Self advocacy, where the Trans person would advocate for themselves. Informal advocacy, where a friend of family member would advocate for a Trans person providing them moral support during medical appointments. Professional advocacy, where a trained person assists the Trans person with support during medical appointments and is able to provide them with information on protocols. They went on to discuss the qualities a good advocate would need to possess: listens, patient-led, resilient, accountable, assertive, organised etc

~RG

Action for Trans Health Actvist Training