10 Defining Moments for me As a Writer in 2016

This year has been quite a busy one for me as an academic, but I've also been able to publish a few journalistic pieces I'm excited about. I  continued to write about abortion access and LGBT politics while developing the backbone for a research project I've had on my mind for the better part of five years.

1.In February I wrote the piece, "How We Are Failing Women and Girls in Humanitarian Emergencies" for Rewire about access to sexual and reproductive health care in humanitarian emergencies.

2. I published my first peer-reviewed academic journal article "Queering Women, Peace and Security" published in International Affairs March of this year! You can read it for free here.

3. I wrote and defended my dissertation proposal, marking a road map for completing the research project that inspired me to apply to PhD programs in January 2012.

4. I wrote my first piece with the Establishment, "Queerphobia in a Post Marriage Equality Nation" which was also cross-posted as a featured story on Huffington Post QueerVoices.

5. For my second story for The Establishment I wrote a piece about the challenges ahead for the newly appointed UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN.

6. I wrote my Institutional Review Board protocal which was then approved so I could begin interview for my dissertation!

7. I published the working paper "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as Part of the WPS Project" for the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security. In the policy brief I build on ideas from the journal article I published in March and make five policy recommendations.

 8. After launching the working paper I wrote a blog post for the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security about the role of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Colombian peace negotiations.

9.I wrote my first piece for Insider Higher Ed, "Why Most of Us Won't Get Tenure" on the Condtionally Accepted column. It was republished by my graduate department.

10. I began writing my dissertation including the draft to a discourse analysis chapter and five interviews so far.

Here's to all to all the challenges and opportunities writing offers in 2017!



Publications with LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security 

This month I was fortunate to publish a working paper with the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security as well as a blog. According to their website the Centre is, " a leading academic space for scholars, practitioners, activists, policy-makers and students to develop strategies to promote justice, human rights and participation for women in conflict-affected situations around the world" and launched last year.

In my Working Paper Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as Part of the WPS Project I developed 5 policy points from the ideas I wrote about in the International Affairs article "Queering Women, Peace and Security" published earlier this year. The piece was introduced by editors Laura J. Shepherd and Paul Kirby in "The New Politics of Women, Peace and Security."

In a blog post also published by the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security I explore how sexual orientation and gender identity were a part of the Colombia peace negotiations. In the coming months I'll continue to explore this topic in my research for my dissertation and look forward to connecting with LGBTQ organizations in Colombia to learn more about their work on the Colombian peace accords.

As an aside, I'm excited I was able to include an image (included in this post) from the Free & Equal campaign UN For LGBT Equality stamps that were launched in February. Check them out here!


Making Hyde History

Excited to share this project Margaret Middleton and I are working on together. We created this history exhibit from the future about the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds for being used for abortion which limits access to abortion and disproportionately affects low income women of color.

We're calling this project the #MuseumoftheFeministFuture and we debuted it at the Repeal Hyde Art Project's Can't Hyde the Future event. Very grateful for the support of Repeal Hyde Art Project, The Clinic Vest Project and Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund for this exhibit.

"Making Hyde History" is a history exhibit from an imagined future in 2067.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is an executive order, signed by President Hillary Clinton as her first act in office. The executive order enacts the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, effectively repealing Hyde and increasing abortion access for all.

We used real "historic" pamphlets Jamie J. Hagen had collected volunteering as a clinic escort at Planned Parenthood.

The clinic escort volunteer vest was donated by the The Clinic Vest Project. The label explains how historically protesters had used fear and intimidation at clinics that provided abortions to deter patients. Volunteers would wear vests to signify they were there to keep patients safe.

The #MuseumoftheFeministFuture has docents!



The CLAGS After Marriage conference

As a CUNY alum, Hunter College BA and Brooklyn College MA,  it was exciting to be a part of the CLAGS  (Center for LGBTQ Studies) After Marriage conference. This is the first CLAGS event I participated in and it was an excellent space where activists and scholars engaged in conversation and reflection.  I was on the Transnational Issues in LGBTQ politics  panel and received insightful feedback from the audience about what organizations and issues to consider in future research.

In the open plenaries of the first day of the conference much attention was given to the reality of how poverty and lack of economic justice as a cornerstone of organizing to meet the needs for queer communities.  Two of the speakers who made the most impression on me were Paulina Helm-Hernandez and Amber Hollibaugh. I've read Hollibaugh for years and admired her work with Queers for Economic Justice as an outspoken queer femme. The conversations at the conference sparked both inspiration and outrage, but fueled the work that so many of us who attended the conference do to continue to shine a light on the margins to bring the concerns for the communities we know and love to the center of the movement.

Follow along with the conversations from the conference at the #AfterMarriage hashtag on Twitter.

About the conference:

"On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution provides same-sex couples the civil right to marry. After the ruling, rainbow memes and #lovewins hashtags flooded the internet. But in addition to the celebration, we also began to hear more about what activists and academics have been saying for decades—that LGBTQ politics is about #morethanmarriage.

The marriage equality campaign has been criticized for limiting LGBTQ political mobilization within a narrow “homonormative” framework, making invisible all of the many pressing issues that impact diverse LGBTQ-identified individuals. Since the ruling, donations to some LGBTQ organizations have declined, and longstanding organizations have shut down.

There is an urgent need for a major public conversation about this turning point in LGBTQ politics. This conference will convene such a conversation, raising the profile of the countless similar conversations already unfolding among activists, funders, and academics in order to explore possible agendas for LGBTQ politics and scholarship after marriage.

Many of the panels were recorded and will be available to view/listen to in the future.



Let's talk about the new independent expert on LGBT issues

This sumemr the UN Human Rights Council voted to appoint a person to look into homophobic and transphobic violence. An important moment! But as you can imagine, there was much maneuvering to even get the appointment and it comes with certain restrictions, not the least of which is a limit to a three year term. In my piece for The Establishment I interview a number of people about the expectations and possibilities riding on the new position from activists and academics alike.

This piece gets at the challenging policy and practice nexus. While there is now policy prioritizing looking at LGBTQ issues, how this translates to practice depends on a number of questions: Who will decide which issues to address with a literal world full off problems to examine? How will local, national and international organizations communicate about these issues? And perhaps the question top of mind right now: who will be appointed as the new independent expert?

The new independent expert will report back to the UN at the end of each year of their term. With that in mind, in a year's time this role may prove an important test in terms of what type of leverage the global human rights community is able to exert for vulnerable LGBTQ individuals around the world.