Author: Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith is currently a junior at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University studying Applying Artistic Imagination to Radical Political and Social Change. They are involved in activism both on-campus and off-campus and are passionate about gender equality, LGBTQ rights, black liberation, and criminal justice reform. They enjoy research, writing, reading, and creating and studying art. Jordan uses the pronouns they/their/themselves or she/her/herself.

A Brief Introduction to the Syrian Civil War and the Kurdish Female Fighters Battling ISIS

During the Kurdish Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, female Peshmerga (a Kurdish word meaning “facing death”) guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan established a reputation as fierce fighters. The women of the YPJ (an acronym which translates to “Women’s Protection Units”) are continuing in the tradition of Kurdish female fighters as they challenge ISIS in Syria. The YPJ is the female brigade of the armed forces of the Syrian region of Kurdistan. Formed in 2012, the YPJ has amassed an army of over 10,000 volunteer troops and has become vital in the fight against ISIS. The women of the YPJ recognize that ISIS targets women and fight for their own freedom first, then for the freedom of their people and their land, according to one of the fighters who spoke with Patrick Cockburn at the Independent. They know that, if they are captured, they will be raped and murdered, so the soldiers fight with the awareness that losing is not an option. They say that ISIS fears them, because the men believe that if they are killed by a woman in battle then they are disgraced and will not go to heaven. Although they use this fear to their advantage, the Kurdish female fighters believe their womanhood is not the only thing that ISIS should be afraid of. In recent months, the battle between ISIS and the YPJ has gotten incredibly tense. The “Wrath of Eupherates Operation”, an initiative led by Rojda Felat of the YPJ to remove ISIS from its self declared capital Raqqa began at the end of 2016, and Felat vows that the mission will be over by the end of the year. In January, Felat told, an online platform for news, context and insight about Kurdish Matters, “We assure that 2017 is the year of ISIS’ annihilation…The people of Raqqa should be ready, as the sun of freedom will be shining soon in their skies.”

A Crash Course in Trans History through the Ages

Because of the work of many transgender activists and the visibility of important transgender figures in the media, increased by Caitlyn Jenner’s very publicized transition, transgender visibility in America is at an all-time high. However, trans people continue to be erased from history all over the world. To combat the historic erasure of trans people and trans identity, here are nine important transgender figures throughout history that you should know.

***Words that are italicized in the biographies are included in a glossary at the end of the post***

Elagabalus became emperor of Rome in 218 AD when they were just 14 years old. While there is no definite information about their gender identity or sexuality, there are many clues that suggest that Elagabalus was not cisgender and heterosexual. They were married five different times, to both men and women, although their marriages never lasted for long. They were known for having affairs with young boys and masquerading as a sex worker then purposely setting themselves up to be caught and beaten by a male guard. They often appeared in court wearing makeup and women’s clothing. Elagabalus also reportedly offered a large sum of money to any doctor who could surgically equip them with female genitalia. Read more

Trans Rights FAQ

trans rights are human rights

General FAQ:

  • What does it mean to be transgender? Transgender people identify with a gender that does not correspond with the sex assigned to them at birth. On the other hand, cisgender people do identify with the sex assigned to them at birth.
  • What is the difference between sex and gender? Sex is divided into three categories, male, female, and intersex, based on the individual’s reproductive organ(s) at birth. Gender refers to the characteristics, attributes, behaviors and appearances that are socially or culturally situated on a spectrum between “male/masculine” and “female/feminine.”
  • What is the gender binary? The gender binary is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposing categories of male and female. Gender fluidity steps away from this rigidity and allows the individual to identify with a gender which either varies over time, even day to day, or does not fit into one of the two categories.

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From the Boys’ Bathroom to the Supreme Court: The Story of Gavin Grimm’s Fight for Transgender Rights

On Sunday, February 12th, the Grammys provided many Americans with a short break from the crushing reality of a Trump presidency. However, one star decided to use her platform to bring attention to an issue that was being overlooked by many anti-Trump movements. While announcing the performance of Lady GaGa and Metallica, Laverne Cox forgot to say the name of the band, but the name she said instead was just as important. During her very brief speech on the Grammy stage, Cox, a trans actress and activist, asked the audience to “please Google Gavin Grimm,” and they listened. The day after the Grammys aired, Google searches for “Gavin Grimm” literally went from 0 to 100. February 13th was the peak of interest in the subject on Google Trends. So, who is Gavin Grimm?

Gavin is a 17-year-old high school senior from Gloucester, Virginia. In 2014, Gavin decided to use the boys’ bathroom at school, because he felt the sign on the door matched his gender identity. Gavin’s mother had contacted school administrators at the beginning of his sophomore year to notify them of his gender identity, and Gavin received permission from school administrators to use the bathroom of his choice. For weeks, Gavin was able to peacefully use the boys’ bathroom without question. Meanwhile, Gavin’s decision to go to the bathroom sparked a massive local debate in Gloucester County, where 66.8 percent of voters voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 63.1 percent of voters voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.

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Getting to Know Gail Segal!

Who is Gail Segal?

Gail Segal is an American poet and filmmaker, and a film professor at NYU Tisch.

Where is she from?

Segal grew up in the Deep South, and after earning her B.A. in Politics and her M.F.A. in Film, she moved to New York City to pursue filmmaking.

What are some of her recent projects?

In 2015, she published Dramatic Effects: with a movie camera, a book of essays about film.

In 2014, she released Filigrane, a narrative short about three French siblings exploring the United Arab Emirates in hopes of connecting to their late father who was a researcher in the area.

In 2013, she released Meanwhile, in Turkey; a documentary short about the agency of Turkish women in a time of political and social unease, and had her work published in Paradigm, a poetry anthology by Italian poet and translator Alfredo de Palchi. Read more