Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#ALLY OP: BiNet USA supports J Mase III, #black #trans #queer poet, because names are important

When I read this post by J Mase III, I really wanted to cross-post it on the BiNet USA blog because his thoughts are an important part of the conversation that needs to keep happening for ALL cisgender, transgender, agender and gender nonconforming people. Let's keep creating opportunities to build bridges beyond boundaries, and through them. ~Faith

J Mase III
"This post is for my cis-LGBQA counterparts that are often gatekeepers within the LGBTQIA community and expect us to just accept whatever morsels of attention we are given. Fuck that. I am an adult, not a puppy, and I do not accept table scraps when I deserve to sit down to dinner. 
A few days ago, someone passed my contact information over to an openly gay cis writer named Richard Morgan, who was looking specifically for a trans poet to be interviewed in an article about queer artists of colour. (Let’s not even mention the fact that if he was truly part of an inclusive community in NYC, he would already know a trans person to interview.) So we set up a time to talk on the phone. Once on the phone I was asked what my name was. That’s a simple enough question. So I said, ‘Well, as [X] said in the email, my name is Mason and my writing/stage name is J Mase III.’
‘But what’s your driver’s license name?’
What? This can’t be real, right? Anyone writing about a trans person must know it is not okay to just ask someone in the first 30 seconds what their ‘real name’ is.
When I asked what relevance my legal name had in regards to an article about my art, the response I was given was that since many artists – like Diddy and Ke$ha – change their names, my government name was needed in order to keep a consistent record of ‘who I was’.
Clearly, as I shared over the phone, Diddy and I changed our names for very different reasons. And the whole conversation went downhill from there, as I explained that not only was my full government name not even something I get on my paychecks, but that 99% of people in my personal and public life wouldn’t recognize it.
It would be one thing if Mr. Morgan simply said, ‘Hey, I get that this is important to your identity – let’s just use the name you feel is most representative of you.’ However, when I inquired what happens when trans folks aren’t safe or comfortable sharing their legal name, the response was, ‘Well, those people don’t get written about.’
Seriously? This is how we show trans-allyship?
I encouraged Mr. Morgan to check in with any of the trans-led and/or inclusive organizations that exist in this massive city – like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, or FIERCE, or anywhere else there was someone telling him why that was not appropriate – because, clearly, me saying that about my own experience wasn’t enough proof. I even sent him a section of GLAAD’s Media’s Reference Guide, which details why journalists should acknowledge trans folk’s names and why not doing so is disrespectful.
- Read More of J Mase III's important article on why you should respect his name, and names in general here.

BiNet USA welcomes opportunities to promote all allies of the LGBTQIAA+ community. If you have a guest article or a post you'd like to see cross-posted please email us at press@binetusa.org with the Subject Line, #AllyOp!