Loving My Job Doesn’t Mean You Get to Exploit Me (Or “Why My Time & Work Ain’t Free”)

Illustration by http://melaniegillman.com/

Illustration by http://melaniegillman.com/

“DWYL” & The Intersection of Capitalism/Sexism

Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!” –a glimmering promise of joyous labor that’s fun 24/7 and somehow secretly “not work.” Miya Tokomitsu thinks the “intoxicating warmth” of that line’s promise must be critiqued:

“Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like nonwork?” “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?” In masking the very exploitative mechanisms of labor that it fuels, DWYL is, in fact, the most perfect ideological tool of capitalism. If we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.

This idea of “not-work work” creates a cycle that enables many employers to exploit their employees (especially in nonprofits doing social services/justice-related things) because they rely on the workers’ “love of their jobs” or “passion for social change” to offer low wages, never give raises, demand outcomes incongruous to the hours being paid, and more. As someone who works “doing what she loves,” but is frustrated by the ideas that “if you love it, it’s not work, and thus you shouldn’t charge for it,” I cannot stress enough how timely and important this article is.

Tokomitsu drives the point home even further, explaining how this disproportionately affects women and is embedded in sexist notions of labor and “whose job it is” to do certain activities:

Yet another damaging consequence of DWYL is how ruthlessly it works to extract female labor for little or no compensation. Women comprise the majority of the low-wage or unpaid workforce; as care workers, adjunct faculty, and unpaid interns, they outnumber men. What unites all of this work, whether performed by GEDs or Ph.D.s, is the belief that wages shouldn’t be the primary motivation for doing it. Women are supposed to do work because they are natural nurturers and are eager to please; after all, they’ve been doing uncompensated child care, elder care, and housework since time immemorial. And talking money is unladylike anyway.

“Come On, Anyone Can Do That!”

When people think “pffft, anyone can do that” about fields like art, caregiving, and education, they erase the level of preparation many people have to get to actually do those things well. Yes, there are things “anyone can do” to an extent, but the results/quality will vary widely. This often happens because people think they understand a field and assume they can do just as good of a job (which is often untrue). This happens to me with sexuality education all the time.

While I fully support popular education methods, community skill-shares, and decentralizing power (especially in fields that get increasingly professionalized at the expense of including the affected communities in their own healing/work), those strategies fulfill a very specific need. Sex education, particularly in school settings, is not just something you can wake up one morning and do with the same level of knowledge, grace, and skill as someone who has invested a lot of time and resources into their preparation.

Social media is another prime example of this issue. Many people are ON social media and think that automatically gives them “expertise” to do high-level social media management and content strategy. Yeah, no. Just being able to boil some pasta and mix it with cheese doesn’t make you a chef either.

Like the image at the top of this post points out, though, these kinds of attitudes are are RARELY directed at medicine, chemistry, and pretty much any STEM field (which BTW are male-dominated, surprise!) because society places those bodies of knowledge on a pedestal and presumes (or knows) they take a great deal of technical knowledge. Especially in regard to STEM fields (since some people don’t even want to touch those areas with a 10-foot pole out of fear), even relatively simple tasks are seen as impressive because of that fear and ignorance. Not to say chemistry is a piece of cake or that neurosurgery is just like teaching a room full of students, but that we must acknowledge the complexity and nuance of fields that are socially considered “soft” and are also often associated with women.

On The Other Side Of Sex Education Programming

By the time I graduated from Brown University in 2011, I had a slew of campus event organizing experience. As the chair of various groups, I coordinated a large number of events to promote wider dialogue and education around sexuality issues. My set of tasks included being the liaison with outside speakers and negotiating prices to bring them to campus. Looking back on it, I realize how underpaid some of the speakers were.

In fact, sometimes I actively haggled prices down so I could make the events more attractive to the funding boards and so we could put on more events. Part of that was just because of the way certain groups and events got funded and my desire to do as many educational activities as possible, but I also think that it’s related to not fully grasping the type of work and hours that can (and often do) go into delivering a stellar college workshop or lecture. Now that I’m on the presenting, rather than the college organizing, end and I also work for a small organization that does training/education on sexuality, I have a more informed perspective about these issues.

When your eyes widen at the prospect of a speaker asking for $2,000-$5,000 for a presentation, think about that for a second. When you hire consultants and freelancers, they often have to charge more per hour and per project than organizations because you are hiring them sporadically instead of putting them in a long-term, stable position with benefits they can rely on. When independent sex educators are pricing their work, they have to think about things like:

  • their past/present/future professional development and education
  • having to (often) pay for their own healthcare and insurance(s)
  • time spent preparing their outlines and materials (which can involve a great deal of research)
  • expenses related to travel (food in new places, places to stay, transportation itself, time spent away from home-base, etc.)
  • expenses to make the presentation worthwhile (e.g. purchasing new PowerPoint or Keynote themes, buying props, mailing items to the presentation location, paying for extra bags on airplanes, etc.)
  • fees taken by booking agencies if they don’t handle all their bookings/gig logistics

On top of that, educators doing the college circuit have to think strategically about where they speak and how much they charge so it can be sustainable. Student organizers often want to bring in other speakers too, and schools aren’t often willing to pay someone to come annually & speak to the “same” student body, so educators can’t always count on that money being stable from year to year. Think about all the other offers that might be competing for attention, too! Especially if someone is in really high demand, they’re not going to take 20 low-paying gigs instead of 20 high-paying ones, so they will prioritize the things that make sense and/or money.

Please note: this doesn’t apply to everyone 100%—there are people who consider themselves sex educators with little education and grounding in the field beyond personal experience (I’m not saying you need a degree in sexual health to be able to speak about these topics, but that some people think that taking one class in college or one workshop somehow makes them An Expert in All Things Sex). Not every sex educator reads through medical journals, uses fancy slideshows, spends hours preparing for their presentation, or combs their work for racial diversity and inclusive language. There are also people with stable income who just do sex ed on the side every so often and don’t have to deal with some of the things above.

What’s more, there are also people out there who “drive down the market” in other ways—who shamelessly spread misinformation, steal workshop titles and materials from other sexuality professionals, and actively try to lasso work away from people who already have it by saying “Hey, I can do what [insert name of presenter usually does XYZ] does but for way cheaper!”  TL;DR: Some people will charge “a lot” for a presentation and it will not have been worth it and it will not be backing up any of the things I said above.

That being said, you know what the reality is, spoken from the event-organizing end? If you are amazing at what you do, many places will find a way to pay you. If you command a decent price-tag and aren’t wishy-washy (note: being flexible isn’t the same as being wishy-washy), many places will respect that and just get you the money. When I had speakers who haggled with me, we haggled. If there were speakers I really wanted who had a firm price tag, I just bit the bullet and dealt with it (or didn’t bring them in because we just didn’t have the money at a given time).

But It’s Not That Simple!

I don’t want to place the blame on educators and speakers for “undervaluing themselves” as if there were no other relevant factors here. I also don’t mean to imply that there’s some magical level playing ground where all sex educators get equal opportunities. Outside from a passion for sexuality issues, a love of teaching, and an imperative to give back to their communities, some educators shift their prices down because they’re not in a financial position to decline, and/or because they’re just starting out and don’t have enough professional experience or clout to ask for more. The advice of “just decline events that don’t pay you what you’re worth, stop underselling yourself, you’re hurting the field” is busted (plus it’s classist, racist, and homophobic in its assumptions and implications).

For folks who are part of minority groups, this is can be especially tricky. For example, due to things like racism and homophobia, many LGBTQ/POC speakers are:

  • offered less money from the get-go
  • are passed over in favor of white/straight folks, all other qualifications being equal
  • get trapped into offering their work at a lower rate so it will even be CONSIDERED (this also affects people tackling “unpopular” or “niche” subjects such as, say, the intersection of sex and disability)

So often we even have to fight and make special deals/packages to get certain topics addressed because they aren’t seen as pressing by the dominant group (e.g. discussions of LGBTQ people in the domestic violence sphere). It’s seen as our duty, or perhaps as our “privilege,” to be able to educate and train organizations on things like being sensitive to gender and sexuality minorities, when it should be recognized as valuable work as well as a social justice imperative.

LGBTQ/POC speakers often get shoved between a rock and a hard place—we either do the work for less than we’re worth or it just doesn’t get done. We either compromise ourselves and our livelihood for our communities and visibility of certain issues or they remain invisible and silenced. Add all this to the fact that many LGBTQ/POC folks are already battling with impostor syndrome due to lack of positive media representation and messed up social messages about the value of our work, and is at all surprising why this problem exists? This needs to change.

Not The First (Or Only) One To Say It

I’m not the first one to say some of these things. In fact, Jill McDevitt just posted about how she gets asked to do her work for free or “for exposure.” Hanne Blank has written about how “Jesus doesn’t pay her rent” (in reference to a deacon’s ignorant comments about her work as a professional singer) and there’s even a depressing/amusing Twitter account devoted to highlighting this kind of cycle, particularly in the art world.

My friend Chihiro also wrote about this and shed some light on the costs behind artwork:

Don’t ask your art friends to draw something for you for free. If we give you a gift it’s because we are generous and like you; it’s not an invitation for free art requests.
Don’t try to haggle too much, because when we price our work we have to factor in materials fee and hours we spent. If you’re skeptical, just ask us to break down the prices because we will happily do so. You may be surprised to learn a single sheet of archival drawing paper can be $13. Or that it takes well over an hour to build a frame, stretch canvas onto it, and prime the surface (gesso, sand, gesso, sand, gesso, sand… Yes this is all before a painting can even begin!) Some quality oil paints are $35 a tube (that’s not even the most outrageous price either.) If an artist requires a studio, that should be factored in too. You’re not just paying for a pretty image. Pretty images don’t come from thin air. Time, space, materials, skills, inspiration… remember what you’re paying for and maybe think of the money you spend on other things. (…)
If you can’t pay them at least offer an exchange or services. A lot of us are trained with over a decade of expensive schooling too, just like doctors!

In Conclusion, Don’t Expect My Time & Work for Free

It’s not that I’ve paid all my dues or that I’m done doing work for pro-bono. I will always strive for sliding scales, for accessibility, and for working with/for my communities. I will always understand fledgling organizations, niche topics, and the #strugglebus. However, I’m pretty damn good at what I do, and I’ve put (and continue to put) lots of money and tons of effort towards my [continuing] education and expertise. Just like you wouldn’t expect a doctor to do surgery on you for free, don’t just expect my work for free. Sometimes I WILL give it for free and volunteer my time, but it’s not something anyone can or should demand. As Hanne so eloquently put it:

[When] artists, myself included, make our work available for free, as I do in this blog, we do it consciously knowing that we are giving it away.  That’s our right as artists.

Just like your neighbor has the right to give you some of hir homegrown tomatoes — the ones sie nurtured and watered and weeded in the hot sun — if sie so chooses, just like a lawyer has the right to work pro bono for a cause sie wishes to support, just like a bricklayer can spend hir day off building a wall for Habitat for Humanity if sie desires, an artist has the right to give others access to some (or even all) of hir work for free.

No artist, however, has an obligation to give others access to hir work for free.

I strive to balance paid and unpaid projects in a way that makes sense for me and leaves me feeling good about paying it forward and leveraging my areas of privilege for the greater good. This means, though, that I do have to say no to certain projects and even have to turn away friends because there’s just not enough time in the day to Do All The Things for Everyone Who Asks. I love helping people and teaching, but please consider the requests you make and how (in)appropriate they are. If you’re asking that I take an hour or two to teach you about a topic, or counsel you about your relationship that’s in shambles, or read your manuscript for something—don’t be surprised/hurt if I say no or tell you I’d have to do it for a fee/barter. (Seriously, don’t underestimate the magic of bartering. I’m all about that.)

Resources Mentioned at PlaygroundConf 2013 Closing Plenary

PGConf 2013

Stay in Touch!

Find Aida here:

Find Heather here:

Resources & Organizations Directly Mentioned in Presentation:

Additional Resources

What Not To Do When Housemate Hunting

As it happens, I was housemate hunting recently. The following is text from an email-exchange that ensued after a very singular dude replied to the posting. See, while humor is awesome, using this kind of humor when you’re a cis-dude and we don’t know each other at all = not the best choice.


Hey girls!
In response to your CL listing, here I am.  Your listing and requirements are almost exactly what im looking for!
– Im LGBT-friendly (Im currently traveling Europe with a gay friend and a couple straight ones).
– I like to share household utilities (down to groceries, netflix, bar tabs)
– I throw occasional extravagant parties (maybe twice a year).  Dinner parties are great too.

Im a 28 y/o male engineer going in for a masters in entrepreneurship at Brown this fall.

So a little about me.  To sum it up, im a social, spontaneous, sporty, clean(ish) and nerdy guy.  I was born in Oregon, lived all over the US, but living in Boston for the last 5 years working at a tech startup managing the manufacturing and various engineering aspects of our products.  When im not working I enjoy cycling, hiking, snowboarding, ultimate frisbee, inventing/building random things, traveling, meeting new people, and going out with friends.

Now that you know a little about me, id love to hear a little more about you guys.  The only concern that I have at the moment is… living with THREE girls?  But you guys sound pretty awesome.

Best, XXX


Hi XXXX!

What does an “occasional extravagant party” mean to you? That sounds fancy! 😀 Is it more on the “fancy fabulous party” or “beer pong rager” end of things?

And yes—three girls. Have you been primarily living by yourself or with guys…? We’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself. The question is—are we all compatible? That’s what we have to find out! Do you think you could Skype with us for a chat tomorrow or in the coming days?
On our end, we’re all sociable folks with Venn-diagramming lives. We have our own things going on (and it seems like all fervently love our jobs and doing good for society), but do like to spend time together. For example, we hosted a couchsurfer these past two nights, all of us had dinner together yesterday and then watched a movie about an evil Santa Claus in Finland. Then, today, one of the housemates (Jenna) and I got home from work, chatted over some pineapple-y wine, and watched an “offbeat romantic ghost story” about a married fisherman who has to reconcile his love for a man with his life and society’s social mores. Sometime in August we’ll be hosting a monthly (or so?) feminist book club, and there are plans to go down to Newport sometime because I’ve never been and that’s quite a tragedy.

If that sounds at all interesting, let’s set up a time to chat!


Hey Aida,

The occasional extravagant party means I like to throw epic memorable parties which i invest fairly heavily in.  These are no ordinary beer pong ragers, I dont even allow it.  These are epic themed parties where massive props are made, fog machines, disco balls, candles, blacklights, meticulously created playlists, dance floors, etc. and funded by the young professionals who like to show appreciation to their good friends a couple times a year.  Youve never been to a party like this before.  (Note from Aida: I am simultaneously intrigued and put off.)

Ive been living with 3 boys and 1 girl in boston for the last 5 years.  A few people have cycled, but the ratio always remains the same.  I like to live with at least one girl to keep the place in check.

Im daunted by your “feminist book club” and three “social justice minded” women.  Im pretty sure you guys will want to kill me by the first night if you take my asinine crass humor seriously.  Im pretty over-the-top.  While I appreciate your time, I think im going to have to respectfully decline.

Good luck finding someone!


The problem is, while this guy sounded kind of interesting in a way, he can’t expect me to trust his intent once I’ve already been slammed with sexist bullshit over and over. And even if I WERE to think “well he’s just being ironic/funny,” this kind of shit is not funny to me anymore 99% of the time, especially coming from men, and cis, straight men at that.

If we do not have a relationship, do not have a rapport, and do not have ANY remote smidgen of comfort with each other and knowledge about where we’re coming from, this kind of humor doesn’t make sense and doesn’t make me feel good about our interactions. A lot of what he said just sounds like regurgitations from shitty conversations I’ve had with people who have been clueless, sexist, and/or disrespectful. Does anyone think that’s cool or comforting? That it’s funny or cool to make people feel like they might have another person in their life who devalues them, even if only just for a moment, for the sake of humor, and reenacts the daily sexist bullshit they face?

People can’t expect folks from an oppressed/marginalized group to trust the intent of people from a majority/oppressive class when the latter are going down the same path of shittiness. “Oh oh oh, but I was being FUNNY/IRONIC” is not an excuse. Still shitty. When experience has told me and my communities that this kind of behavior is indicative of sexist and misogynist beliefs, WHY in the world would I just “hope” that this person would be different? Why would I even TRY to excuse them and give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if it’s about living together? Come on. Doesn’t make sense.

Does finding this problematic make me humorless? No. It makes me someone who prefers a more sophisticated and less oppressive brand of humor. I used to be one of those “you can joke about anything! bring on the dark humor and horribly offensive shit!” kind of person, especially before I hit college… but once one’s been exposed to how this kind of thing actually plays out and is the lived reality of people, it’s hard to find that shit funny anymore. That shit is REAL and EVERY DAY and EXHAUSTING. The harm these jokes and cracks make is far higher than their funniness, and from a purely utilitarian perspective (as well as one that focuses on kindness and respect more so than momentary wittiness), IT’S BETTER TO REFRAIN FROM SUCH “JOKES.”

And before someone says “well that’s censorship,” welcome to the world. We all have to “censor” ourselves sometimes. We should HAVE the freedom to be shitty people to some extent and say whatever we want, but consciously CHOOSE to not be shitty to others. We need to strive to be better, and create a world that’s a safer place to be. Just because we “can” do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it.

Humor that relies on oppression and marginalization, no matter how small, is LAZY HUMOR. It’s EASY to use the pre-existing power dynamics to “make a funny,” and it pretty much requires no thought or wit or spin–just a pretty straightforward mimicry of what’s going on in the day-to-day. Let’s strive for more instead of just rolling around in the muck.

NCAVP Monthly Update: Reports of violence affecting LGBTQH communities in December 2011


[trigger-warning for anti-queer violence]

NCAVP Monthly Update: Reports of violence affecting LGBTQH communities in December 2011
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is concerned by reports of violence impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities across the United States and Canada since late November 2011.  13 reported incidents of violence have occurred in California, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montréal, Quebec, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, DC, Washington State, and Wisconsin. 
NCAVP is providing all information available regarding these reports and is not responsible for the complete accuracy of the specific details pertinent to allegations, police investigations, and criminal trials.  Initial reports of these incidents come from media reports of LGBTQH violence and not direct service provision from NCAVP member programs.  NCAVP has reached out to local organizations in these areas and is offering assistance to support their anti-violence efforts.
November 26, 2011: New Orleans police found Brenting Dolliole, a 23 year old gender non-conforming person, beaten to death in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Investigators believe Dolliole died as a result of severe head trauma.  New Orleans police have named Corey Kennedy, 24, as a person of interest but not a suspect in their homicide investigation.  Local LGBTQ organization BreakOUT! held a vigil on Thursday, January 5th in honor of Dolliole and Githe Goines, 23, a transgender woman killed in New Orleans in late December.
December 2, 2011: A gay couple woke up to find threats and anti-gay slurs including “Move or Die” and “Die” spray painted on their home in Columbus, Ohio.  The homeowners suspect that the vandalism was in response to a heated meeting among members of their condo association the day before.  The local Strategic Response Bureau is investigating the incident as a misdemeanor due to its threatening message. The couple has stated that they now fear for their safety.  NCAVP member program, Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), has been in contact with the couple and is providing police and court system advocacy in response to this incident.

December 2, 2011: An unnamed Public Works employee approached a transgender woman and grabbed her wig off her head at Z’s Bar inDes Moines, Iowa.  A witness recounted that when another bar patron tried to confront the man following the incident, the man hit her.  According to local news reports, the bar’s manager suspected that the man committed the act of harassment to win a $100 bet among city employee colleagues at an annual party at the venue. The woman who was harassed did not file a police report because she did not want to reveal her name.  Following this incident, Public Works Director Bill Stowe announced that the employee would receive, “appropriate disciplinary action,” and a Public Works supervisor apologized to Z’s Bar for the incident.

December 7, 2011: Jacob Rogers, a senior at Cheatham County High School in Ashland City, Tennesseecompleted suicide after enduring severe anti-gay bullying by classmates for years. Rogers’ closest friend, Kaelynn, reported that Rogers sought help from his school.  School officials say they were only aware of one incident and believed the bullying had been getting better.  LGBTQH bloggersTowleroadSlog and Joe.My.God, successfully raised $5,000 to support Rogers’ family to pay for funeral expenses.  The bloggers announced that the remaining donations will be distributed between the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education NetworkTrevor Project,American Civil Liberties Union and It Gets Better Project.

December 11, 2011:  William Adam Lane, 22, confronted a lesbian couple with profane, derogatory comments about the couple’s sexuality after he saw them embrace in Bellingham, Washington.  Lane then smashed in the rear window of the couple’s car before he was pinned to the ground by one of the women.  Police said they believe Lane was intoxicated at the time of the incident.  Local law enforcement are investigating this incident as malicious harassment and a hate crime.  The unnamed couple, 23 and 30, were reportedly not hurt by the incident.

December 12, 2011Montréal, Quebec boutique owner, Ghislain Rousseau, was closing his store when a woman banged on the window and tried to smash it in with her foot as she yelled, “this is a f—king faggot store!”.  Rousseau stopped the woman from attacking his store and shortly after two police officers arrived at the scene.  The city held a public council meeting to address violence in Montréal’s gay village where the mayor committed to improving the neighborhood’s lighting and increasing its police presence.
December 13, 2011: Pro Shots, a shooting range in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, put up a billboard that reads “Pansies Converted Daily” with an image of a target sign and a rifle.  Equality North Carolina has condemned this message as “veiled homophobic hate speech.”  NCAVP member program, Rainbow Community Cares, also released a statement denouncing this advertisement as supporting violence against LGBTQ people.  Pro Shots responded by announcing that they will take the billboard down.
December 14, 2011: Two men yelled homophobic slurs and attacked an unnamed man, 22, in Athens, Georgia.  The man, who identifies as gay, was walking toward his car when the incident occurred.  He was knocked unconscious and has shattered teeth as a result of the attack.  According to reports, the survivor wanted the attack reported as a hate crime.  Local law enforcement are investigating this incident as aggravated battery.
December 20, 2011A transgender woman, 56, was stabbed in the back with a knife by an unnamed man while at a house inWashington, DC’s Kingman Park neighborhood.  According to the police report, the woman was in the basement of the house when she got into an argument with the man which then led to the attack.  The woman then walked to a nearby apartment complex where she was found by police lying on the ground and bleeding from the stab wound.  Emergency responders transported her to a local hospital where she was treated for her injuries.  Local sources connected to NCAVP have reported that the survivor is now at home recovering from this attack.  This incident marks Washington DC’s 12th assault against a transgender woman where a knife or gun was used since July.  Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Liaison Unit announced that the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) is assisting in the investigation of this incident.

December 24, 2011: Dee Dee Pearson, 31, a transgender woman of color, was shot to death by Kenyon E. Jones, 26, inside an apartment in the 1000 block of East 43rd Street in Kansas City, Missouri.  Jones told police he killed Pearson after paying her for sex and discovering that she was transgender.  Jones, who has a history of drug related offenses, has been charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action by the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.  NCAVP member program, Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, released a joint statement with the Justice Project grieving this murder and calling for respectful media coverage of Pearson’s death.  These organizations hosted a memorial service for Pearson on December 28th
December 25, 2011: Unknown suspects vandalized and destroyed depictions of same-gender couples in an art installation nativity scene outside Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, California.  Claremont police are investigating this incident as a hate crime.  The church plans to hold an interfaith vigil in support of LGBTQH communities in response to this vandalism.
December 25, 2011: Lyal Ziebell, 20, and Jake Immel-Rhode, 20, yelled anti-gay slurs and punched an unnamed man in the face outside PJ’s bar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Immel-Rhode then repeatedly kicked the man in the head.  The man sustained a broken jaw and brain injury as a result of the attack, and believes he was attacked because he is gay.  Ziebell has stated that he is “very homophobic” and attacked the man after he started “hitting on me.”  Winnebago County authorities have charged Ziebell and Immel-Rhode with battery causing great bodily harm, burglary, and a hate crime modifier.
December 29, 2011:  Local police found the dead body of Githe Goines, a 23 year old transgender woman, in a scrap yard in New Orleans, Louisiana after she had gone missing for two weeks.  Local media reports have not accurately identified Goines as a transgender woman in the reporting of her death, but New Orleans sources connected to NCAVP assure that Goines identified as a woman.  The Orleans Parish coroner’s office believes Goines was strangled to death.  Local law enforcement have not released information regarding possible suspects in their investigation of this homicide.  Local LGBTQ organization, BreakOut! held a vigil on Thursday, January 5th in honor of Goines and Brenting Dolliole, a gender non-conforming person killed in late November in New Orleans.  Goines’ death marks the 14th homicide of a transgender or gender non-conforming person NCAVP has tracked in 2011.
According to NCAVP’s report Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2010, there was a 13% increase in reports of anti-LGBTQH violence between 2009 and 2010.  NCAVP believes that together communities can prevent and end violence impacting LGBTQH people and calls on community members, anti-violence organizations, and public officials to join efforts to end violence within and against LGBTQH communities.
Prevent: NCAVP encourages communities to create programs, campaigns, and curricula to prevent anti-LGBTQH harassment and violence and to promote safety. NCAVP is available to provide support and resources to communities for their violence prevention efforts.
Respond: NCAVP recommends increasing support for LGBTQH survivors of violence by increasing funding for services and banning barriers to service and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Report Violence: NCAVP encourages anyone who has experienced violence to contact a local anti-violence program for support and to document this violence.
Get Involved: Join NCAVP in our efforts to prevent and respond to LGBTQH violence. To learn more about our national advocacy, receive technical assistance or support, or locate an anti-violence program in your area, contact us.
Contact Information for Responding Organizations
BRAVO
Hotline: 866-862-7286
BreakOUT!
Phone: 504-522-5435
Equality North Carolina
Phone: 919-829-0343
Kansas City Anti-Violence Project
Phone: 816-561-0550
Rainbow Community Cares
Phone: 919-342-0897
NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities.  NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs, affiliate organizations and individuals who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Reverse Racism DOES NOT EXIST

REASON 1: 
If you ascribe to the simplest and broadest definition of racism, which means “discrimination on the basis of race,” THERE IS NO WAY FOR IT TO GO IN “REVERSE.” Racism doesn’t mean “hating on minorities”–it means “hating on ANYONE because of their race.” Thus, “reverse racism” is a ridiculous concept/idea because any instance of racial discrimination would just be racism.

REASON 2: 
If you ascribe to the definition of racism as institutionalized discrimination/oppression, “reverse racism” (which again, is a term that does NOT MAKE SENSE ANYWAY, AHHHH) doesn’t exist. Discriminatory actions can be perpetrated by anyone, but racism needs the institutional backing. Racism is not a one-off moment of discrimination; it is a cycle, a web of power and structures that affirm one group’s dominance over another. Racism has deep roots and a wide reach.

At the end of the day, a discriminatory action can stay encased in that moment where it happened, or it can reverberate throughout a person’s life and be repeated over and over.

Of course, racism and discrimination don’t play out in the same ways in every person’s life because their other circumstances and identities affect their experiences. Still, the point is that if you can leave your moment of experiencing racialized discrimination relatively unscathed and without having great odds that it will be repeated, it was PROBABLY NOT RACISM. If you leave that moment and go back to a place where you are inherently valued more because of your race, where systems in place privilege you, IT WAS NOT RACISM because you live in a society that has the scales tipped in your favor on the axis of race.