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Ending Net Neutrality is a nail in the coffin of resistance. Fight it.

If you have been on the internet at all in the past five years then you’ve likely heard about the fight for Net Neutrality. In a general sense, the loss of Net Neutrality will be a major inconvenience for many people but it will be absolutely devastating for marginalized groups. The loss of the internet as we know it will lead to further oppression and silencing of marginalized folx around the world.   The internet, including social media, has become an important tool in helping marginalized groups, be they people of color, LGBTQIA+, or women be seen, heard, and organize for their collective needs. It has been a way for people to communicate, share information, protect and help each other. This isn’t to say that it has been all sunshine and roses. The internet is also, in part, responsible for the rise of literal Nazis marching in the streets. That is true but it is also true that without the internet we would have not had the BLM movement that has drawn such focus on police brutality nor would #NoDAPL had the coverage and support it garnered. Right now, you can access pretty much any content you could want to find on the internet. From mega money sites like Facebook and Amazon to the little independent shops and sites dedicated to specific causes and information. The world is your oyster.

Wear Your Voice interviewed 6 trans and non-binary (NB) artists, in hopes that others will gain the confidence to know that they are not alone.

Navigating spaces has never been easy for transgender and non-binary people who have to go through the hurdles of various forms of discrimination in the workplace, finding romantic partners, using public restrooms, violence, sexual assault and just being seen as human. Wear Your Voice interviewed 6 trans and non-binary (NB) artists, in hopes that others will gain the confidence to know that they are not alone, and that success has different definitions and different paths for each person.

Skylar, 26, He/Him/His

Skylar is one of the most well-known Youtubers to document his transition under the pseudonym Skylareleven. He has documented his transition from female to male since 2009. He was super stoked about a lot of the physical and emotional changes that he was hoping would come from his transition and he wanted to share his experience in hopes it would help others. “Overall though, a lot of the work I did was just being a kind human to others, or at least the kind of human I wanted to be and needed for my younger self” he tells Wear Your Voice. He answered emails, he met with fans and other folks who needed support and has volunteered countless hours to mentoring and educating others. Skylar’s passion is to encourage others to live to their fullest and best life. He says that he initially felt scared to transition, he feared he would lose his friends, family and his future — and while he did lose some of those things, he also says he gained so much more. Skylar wants to be able to instill that type of optimism in others. He tells WYV, “with the rates of depression and suicide so high (and murder, especially of trans women of color), I want to remain visible and hopeful of a more just future for trans folks.” Skylar wants transgender and non-binary people to take their time, he says it’s so hard to grow and evolve so much at once, with his final word of advice to just keep moving and keep becoming.

Torraine, age: timeless, She/Her/Hers

Torraine Futurum is a musician and model. She started modeling by accident. Torraine tells WYV, “My friend Ethan James Green shot me for his portrait series and it kind of started a snowball effect of people wanting to work with me.” From there it’s been a wild ride of ad campaigns editorials and runway shows. Torraine started in music making, officially, about a year ago. “It really just started with me wanting to make a soundtrack for an art show was organizing but I got so engulfed in the catharsis of putting your worldviews into an auditory experience. I realized music is the highest form of art for me.” Modeling really happened for Torraine because of her vision. “I think I have a skill for creative direction and big picture thinking. I creative direct my social media presence and my physical appearance and the things I say or don’t say in a way that a big business would. And I always have, even before people started paying attention to me.” Torraine says media savvy and strong brand integrity and creative direction are what have helped her a lot. She says you have to know who you are and come up with a strong, streamlined way to convey that to an audience in the easiest recognizable way. “Thinking big picture is so important.” Her advice to other transgender and non-binary creatives on putting their best talents forward, is to just do what you want on your own time. But don’t forget life is short.

J. Skyler, 33, She/Her/Hers, They/Them, Theirs

J. Skyler's primary claim to fame is through her writing, providing critical analysis on fantasy and science fiction, primarily in the comic book medium, but also for animation and film. "I have also done advocacy taking various courses related to sociology and human sexuality". She developed her twitter hashtags #TransCrowdFund and its spin-offs #DisabilityCrowdfund and #FemCrowdFund as a way to combat economic violence, which disproportionately harms marginalized groups. For her hashtags, specifically, it took diligence contacting various publications as frequently as possible to submit either requests for interviews or pitches to present them to the public herself. J. Skyler says luckily, a number of editors today have methods to contact and submit work to their publications right in their biography summaries on their social media pages. For her writing, following and speaking to fan-based publications on Twitter as well as professional writers led to her various columns and pieces being published and circulated. J. Skyler says her passion was inspired by everything related to fiction (animation, literature, fantasy, science fiction, adventure, etc.) which have been a passion of hers since she was very little. Altruism and doing whatever is possible to make the world a better and safe place for others has been her inspiration as well. "The two have often played off one another over the course of my life" she tells WYV. Her advice for other trans and NB folks is to create things for yourself first. Instead of publishing a public blog or making other forms of art or whatever inspires you for the masses, do it just for yourself — for your eyes only. That way when you're ready to show the world who you are and what you can do, you'll have a mountain of work collected over the years that you can surprise everyone with. "Doing things for your own entertainment or enjoyment take the pressure off of having to be perfect for everyone else. It gives you room to refine your talents without having to deal with deadlines or unnecessary critiques while you are still figuring things out."

Ritchie, 23, (He/Him/His)

Ritchie is the owner of Rainbow Dust Portraiture, a fledgling art business. He loves painting portraits and he makes no secret of the fact that he is queer. Rainbow Dust was originally just a hobby Facebook page for him to share his art. After the 2016 election, he was dealing with such a profound sense of hopelessness that he decided he wanted to do something productive with his art and try to get his voice out there. It has taken a lot of hard work and study, but determined to make it work, Ritchie taught himself how to use programs such as Photoshop, he taught himself how to make Facebook pages and ads and portfolios and as he says, a lot of it has just been “experiment and see what works”. Ritchie is proud of what he has accomplished, and that he can see real progress in his art from the start until now. He’s always had a passion about LGBTQ rights above almost any other issue. His main focus is queer issues and fighting for queer equality. “They are basically my attempts to say, queer people are here, we’re not going away, we’re human beings, and you need to treat us with respect.” Ritchie says that he think it’s important for trans and NB people to put themselves out there and make their voices heard. “It’s easy for us to be trampled on, shoved out-of-the-way, and ignored if we’re silent”. Ritchie encourages us to get loud, get angry, and show the world we’re not going to accept disrespect and fear that so often ravages our community. He wants to encourage other trans and non-binary people to get out there make your art, write your heart out, and show the world that you’re a beautiful, valuable human being.

Lawrence, 21, (They/Them/Theirs)

Lawrence, is a poet, who found their interest in middle school.  They were inspired to write their own poetry mimicking mid-19th century/early 20th century poems that sparked their inspiration. Lawrence soon switched to fiction poetry, and once they started college, they re-fell in love with poetry more soundly and started exploring the way they could fit themselves into it. Lawrence defines success as being able to continue writing, saying to themselves that writing and poetry has a purpose. Lawrence says it’s incredibly easy to think that poetry is something useless because it often doesn’t have any massive financial benefit. They are constantly reminding themselves that important things can have use other than its monetary value. Lawrence says one of the most indescribable moments for them is writing about their experiences of being trans and speaking them to other people who may not have the same experience, and then having someone come up to them and say, “I loved X piece”. Lawrence believes you have to be your biggest support system, as tough as it may seem. You have to value what you’re doing because if you don’t, you’ll never utilize your creativity. When it comes to your own specific talents, people may tell you that it’s useless, that poetry is useless, that the arts and humanities are unless, and those people are entirely wrong. Lawrence say to believe that you do have something to say that others will hear. They explained that there is always a risk reading poetry about being trans and often times outing themselves over and over again and it can be draining — their advice is to go with a friend to an open mic, and just read by giving it at least one try.

We’re consuming the notions that fat people don’t deserve love, that our purpose is to assist other roles or provide comic relief.

By Jordan Daniels I am a fat token. I know it’s uncomfortable to hear, but I’m speaking to the fact that in almost all of my friend groups, I’m the only fat person. This isn’t necessarily a problem, except that it is because it’s hard to find many friend groups with more than one fat person in them, if any at all. If you are that “fat friend”, then you’re probably used to being compared to another fat person. Jonah Hill is the go-to for many when they see me. This was most apparent when I recently went to a bar in Santa Monica with my friends. This seemingly nice man came up to me and said, “You look just like Jonah Hill!” I replied, “I have no idea why, but thanks.” He continued with, “ Are you as funny as he is?” This is what stumped me. Not only was he comparing me to Jonah Hill because of my weight, but he was about to pit us against each other to see who was funnier, as if being funnier gave one of us more social currency. This perpetuates the notion that fat people have to compete for acceptance. This is problematic because it diminishes the actual worth of a person. This is problematic because it makes people like me a commodity; a token to this thin-driven society. If you’re fat, you have to be funny. I call it the “Fat-Funny Syndrome,” a completely non-medical but socially accurate term that describes someone (whether fat, thin or in-between), who plays into the idea that fatness and comedic ability go hand-in-hand. We have to be the next Jonah Hill or Mo’Nique. We’re expected to either make the joke or be it. If not, then where is our value? Think of Fat Amy in “Pitch Perfect,” the hilarious sidekick to the heroine, Becca. While there is definitely a sense of empowerment with her character and the embracing of her body, it’s the fact that she has no actual arc that’s the problem. People make jokes about her and she makes them about herself, but does she really have a story? We even see her confidence and sexuality as funny because the thought of a fat person having such power makes people uncomfortable.
Related: Why Fat Humanity Is Not Governed By Fuckability

The work isn’t to ask more from Rupi Kaur. The work is to read broadly and deeply from progressive South Asians.

By Sagaree Jain In the weeks surrounding the release of Rupi Kaur’s second book, it became virtually impossible to have a conversation of any extended length without discussing her. For me, a Punjabi American woman with ties to progressive South Asian organizing and racial justice oriented poetry communities, Rupi Kaur began to shadow my life with a certain inevitability. I could only go so long, among new and old friends, before a joke would be made, or a meme would be referenced, and then off we went, discussing Rupi Kaur for the third time that week. I think many South Asians in the US and Canada, especially South Asians with strong commitments to feminism and movements for justice, have been deeply split on how to think about Kaur and her poetry. On one hand, seeing Kaur’s face in the Style section of The New York Times when so many of us are aching for representation of our stories is undeniably moving. And Kaur comes from a history many of us resonate with, and she speaks sometimes on the alienation of moving to the US when she was four, growing up in a Punjabi speaking home, and knowing that her family escaped the 1984 Sikh Genocide in India. The way her poetry resonates with young women, young brown women especially, is beautiful, a joy to watch. But on the other hand, there’s something immovably frustrating about what she has come to represent. Kaur’s work puts forward her experiences in simple bites, with a minimal range of theme and concept. The most popular pieces resonate with white women as easily as they do with women of color, and for a woman internet-famous for posting menstruation blood on Instagram, her public persona is very much apolitical. On the Poetry Foundation, Kazim Ali writes that Kaur’s verses “identify; they do not interrogate.” On Buzzfeed, Chiara Giovanni critiques the homogeneity of her depiction of South Asian women. As Kaur builds momentum, commentators from South Asian traditions ask, dismayed, is this really all an American public wants from us?
Related: 10 Reasons Why You Need Rupi Kaur's Poetry In Your Life

This holiday season, whether you're spending time with your chosen family, yourself, or with your blood relatives, know that you are seen. Know that you are loved. Know that you matter.

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Along with the stress of travel, trying not to overpack, scheduling self-care when you're in old environments, and reflecting on the successes and failures of the past year, it can be taxing to even think about anything else. Personally, I love this time of year because I enjoy reflecting and celebrating what has been accomplished, and gearing up to start the next year anew. But in doing so, I feel like the holiday season emphasizes the privilege of family and cheer. The holiday season (besides the whitewashing and colonization behind many of the holidays that we celebrate this time of year in the U.S.) can emphasize marginalization even more than usual. In its efforts to celebrate love and traditional values, the holiday season as we recognize it today continues to push out traditionally marginalized people because it often leaves very little space for us to include our experiences. Anything that is outside of that model is heavily erased, leaving so many of us without recognition or support. I've begun to ask this question in regards to the notion of "going home for the holidays". What do the holidays mean when we are spending it outside of our blood families? How do the meanings differ when we shift from forcing ourselves to spend time with people who may be abusive, toxic, and downright dangerous to our safety and well-being; instead, replacing them with our chosen family of friends and loved ones that affirm and fill us with warmth? These questions weigh heavily on my mind, especially as so many of my queer and BIPOC siblings find themselves left out of the narrative of holiday cheer. Are we any less valid because we do not separate our need for survival with choosing ourselves over the weight of expectations that are rooted in our own oppression? As I look around at those who are becoming vocal about their interpretations of the holidays they are celebrating, I'm in awe of the bravery it takes to choose oneself and to choose those who are in our chosen families over the traditional models that leave us aside. But I have to wonder: those of us who carry trauma with us, who are unlearning toxic coping mechanisms and are reliant on survival over comfort — where is there space for us within narratives of holiday cheer? Where are the narratives that include those of us who cannot and do not have traditional families to "go home" to?

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