Welcome to “Spill the T”!
June, 2020: the first edition of GftT’s monthly(ish) newsletter
Hello! I’m thrilled to be sending you the very first issue of Spill the T, the official, monthly(ish) newsletter for Gender from the Trenches! Each section here will be broken up by either images or subtitles. Read the subtitles to know if that section will interest you (if not, skip to the next subtitle — I know there’s lots of info here, but I promise this won’t always be the case).
Before I get into all the usual stuff you’ll be seeing from us, I first want to say this:
Here at GftT, we stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
As the trans community and its allies know all too well, microaggressions, discrimination, and even violence against the *trans community is common. And sadly, fatal violence disproportionately affects trans women of color — most especially black trans women.
*GftT uses the word ‘trans’ as an umbrella term, encompassing all genders that aren’t cisgender.
We know systemic racism is still firmly in place in 2020 America. But further, we know that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns are all things that conspire to deprive black trans women of employment, housing, healthcare and other basic necessities — all barriers that make this community even more vulnerable.
If there’s any silver lining to be found, I must say it’s been seeing my fellow white people — across social media — from all walks of life, speaking out in response to #BLM, many for the first time. Finally acknowledging that systemic racism exists, and white privilege is indeed very real. I’m thankful to see people who look a lot like me seeking tangible ways to do better and be better. One example I saw was a group of white women from around the country who started a private online book club to discuss and share as they learn (and figure out how to deal with their own cognitive dissonance), from the anti-racism books and black authors they’re reading. There are several of these groups popping up all over.
A friend of mine shared this graphic on social media, and I think it provides a thorough snapshot of the learning curve where many white Americans have suddenly found themselves. Take a moment and look through the zones. Can you identify where you are? Where your family is? Your friends?
#BLM. But where do we go from here?
Despite the hope I witnessed over the past few weeks (through a filtered, privileged lens on social media), there still needs to be many, many more “woke” white folks joining the movement. There are still swaths of people living in the U.S. with unchecked privileges — whether in class/social status, economic, or whether they are white, cisgender, heterosexual, etc., or the intersectionality of two or more of these social privileges combined.
That said, you might be wondering what we are going to do — as a small publication — to confront the problems of systemic racism. It can feel overwhelming, daunting for one person (or small group). We tend to think, “what difference can I possibly make?” Or we give excuses like, “I’m too old/tired/busy/shy/not politically active enough to get involved…” And so on.
I hear you. But guess what? You’re already here. Many of you have already shared your personal narratives on GftT — some of you for the first time ever, in such a public way — on the unique challenges and celebrations you face as a trans person. Maybe you’ve heard from one or more readers who’ve said that your story made a positive difference in their life. I hope so. Even if not, there’s still likely someone for whom your writing made a difference, but they just didn’t tell you — for any variety of reasons.
Since becoming a public advocate for the trans community (which started as just advocacy for my own trans non-binary child), I’ve come to fully realize the immense power that exists when we simply share our stories. I can’t stress that enough: how important #TransVisibility is. How necessary our individual stories are, especially for effecting change.
And how do we do that — effect change — especially when we’re not a famous Hollywood celebrity who happens to be trans and living in a relative bubble of protection? Where cosmetic procedures and personal athletic trainers are easily within budget? When “passing” isn’t even a concern, when we fit neatly inside the binary, or we happen to fill society’s expectation of what a (*cringe*) “real man” or “real woman” looks like?
We effect change by sharing our stories. Plain and simple. You have the power to do that — whoever you are.
As a writer living in what society considers a “marginalized community,” you — an authentic voice from the trans community, whether a trans adult, or parent of a trans youth, or a trans advocate —you have the power to not only change hearts and minds, but also, to help mend broken relationships, provide another day of hope for those young, bullied trans teens (and their worried parents), and, you may not realize it, but your words even have the potential to save lives.
As one measure to be more intentionally inclusive here at GftT, I have begun actively seeking more BIPOC (black, indigenous, and other people of color) who are trans, parents of trans youth, or public trans advocates to be writers for GftT. If you happen to know a BIPOC trans person, please send them our way! (You can even forward this email now!)
What is Spill the T?
Recently, Medium rolled out a new feature for publication called newsletters. This is basically like the “letters” we used to send, only now it’s easier for people to subscribe! They can sign up to receive our newsletter by clicking the box at the end of all our stories, or through this email.
Spill the T will also be featuring more exclusive content in the coming months (I tried this month, y’all. I tried. It’s coming, I promise!) If you’d like an idea of what kind of exclusive content I’m talking about, read more here.
Onto the name…
So, I decided to name this “Spill the T” as a play on words… I didn’t think I’d need to explain it, but my husband had no idea what “spill the tea” was. 😉So on that note, let me say that as the Mom of 3 teens, this is a phrase I’ve heard a lot over the past 3–4 years. Well, this, and other versions, like the kinda old “sipping tea” memes (a.k.a., “I’d offer my advice, but that’s none of my business” — see pic above), “what’s the tea?” “I’ve got some tea!” and “y’all want the latest tea?” Plus other variations. You get the idea.
In teen & queer communities, “tea” is a word for “gossip.” Like, good, juicy gossip. All the need-to-know stuff. That’s what I hope to showcase here in the coming months.
And of course, “T” is a play on “tea,” and it can stand for whatever that personally means to you! I intended it as the “T” in the LGBTQ acronym for transgender or trans. But maybe for you personally, T represents the word testosterone (as I have a few trans male friends who refer to it as just “T”), or, it could stand for testosterone blockers, or the ‘T’ for therapy in HRT. It could be the little “t” as we sometimes see in MtF, or FtM. It could stand for the trans non-binary pronoun they. It could stand for transition/transitioning, or top surgery — if that’s something you’re anxiously awaiting, or transsexual, if that’s how you identify. It’s a fluid letter!
Curation, stats, & technical stuff
I am overjoyed and so thankful that this publication has seen a small (but steady) growth since our inception about a year ago. We now have an audience of 410, up 38 new followers since May 20. (That’s an average of roughly one or more new followers per day, over 30 days. A steadier trend than we’ve had in the past, where we were gaining 1–2 new followers per week.)
I believe that “slow and steady” is the key to success in many areas of life, including writing.
Also, more of our writers are getting curated. (What is “curation” and why does it matter? Read here!) Just for comparison, looking at April and May this year:
- In April we published 11 new stories. Of those 11, we had 3 that were selected for curation by Medium’s curation team. Those pieces were curated under either the LGBTQIA or poetry categories.
- In May we published 13 new stories. Of those 13, we had 7 that were selected for curation by Medium’s curation team.
Not only were more of our stories curated, they were also curated under more topics than in any previous month. Throughout May we had GftT stories curated in the LGBTQIA; Equality; Justice; Style; Culture; and Media categories.
For those of you who like crunching numbers, you’ll maybe appreciate these screenshots.
This is today’s screenshot of our 30-day average number of unique visitors daily (to the GftT publication):
As you can see, we experienced a surge in views (and visitors) on May 27th:
Looking at minutes read over the 30-day period, May 27th also accounted for the day when we had the largest number of minutes spent reading GftT.
June 11 was the next highest day, for visitors, views, and minutes read:
But looking at total number of minutes read for a 30 day period, you see how it adds up — a total of 6,764 minutes that readers spent reading material on GftT.
Round up of latest content & highlights
We’ve gained several new writers over the past 2 months (and there are more to come! I’m still vetting emails and accounts for writer requests — a great “problem” to have!)
Click on the author’s name to visit their personal page; click on the title to read their story. (This may work better if you select “open email in browser).
Alix Caprari, one of our new writers originally from Italy (now writing from The U.K.) navigated the question of how do I live my hair situation in the story “The Importance of Hair for Trans Women, and spoke of the momentary illusion “that someone is actually into me” in the story “Transitioning Through Online Dating.”
Kathryn Foss, whose been with us for a few months, talks about how “placing an individual’s grammatical discomfort over the emotional and mental health of another is not acceptable,” in the story “My Discomfort With Pronouns.”
Here are some of the highlights we shared on social media between May and June.
Click on the writer’s name (in the photo captions) to go directly to that story. (Again, this may work better if you opt to open the email in your browser.)
GftT on social media
Now’s a great time to follow us on social media, if you haven’t already! Here’s where you can find us:
Next month(ish) — and I say “ish” because I can’t guarantee this will be on time every month like clockwork, but it will come out with some sense of regularity — please be on the lookout for new stuff in the next newsletter! Oh, and let me know if you have ideas, items you’d like to see here, or if you’re willing to contribute something for Spill the T in the future — either one time, or on a recurring basis.
Til then, live authentically ~
— Martie Sirois, Editor-in-Chief, Gender from the Trenches