I was recently interviewed by Diversity 4 Change, a community-based research project that explores possible tools to make social justice movements more diverse and inclusive. A portion of my interview is below.
Diversity4Change: Hi, Amy! Tell us about yourself. Who are you, what do you do?
Amy Roberts: My name is Amy Roberts, known to most as Amy Dentata through my online presence and spoken word performances. I’m a writer, performer, and videogame designer. Most of my work focuses on my experience as an abuse survivor, taking that knowledge and applying it to other areas.
For example, my Flash game Rock Bottom isn’t explicitly about being a survivor, but is infused with themes from that perspective. A lot of my comedic performances are about pretty serious things, too. Whether its writing, comedy, games, or whatever, there tends to be that weird mix between humor and pain.
Diversity4Change: What’s your relationship with feminist spaces or political communities?
Amy Roberts: I consider myself a feminist and have been active in online discussions about feminism. I’m not too involved with academics, but have had a lot if interaction on the community side. I have been a part of sexpositive events and worked with queer and feminist porn producers as well.
Diversity4Change: Some of your work as a writer is about being trans* in a transphobic world. What does exclusion of trans* identified people look like in political communities?
Amy Roberts: Within many feminist spaces, there is a continuing problem with exclusion of trans women. To some degree it’s sincere ignorance on the part of cis people involved, but there is also a longrunning problem of feminist goals being stated in cissexist ways that attack trans women as well. For example, in many spaces trans women aren’t allowed because we are presumed to have penises, and penises have falsely been built up as a symbol of patriarchy. We’re seen as “men invading women’s spaces” when we are simply women who, unsurprisingly, need the support of other women. This leads to trans women being rejected not just from political groups but also from crucial resources like rape crisis shelters (despite the fact that trans women are even more likely to be targets of sexual violence than cis women). Zinnia Jones recently wrote about a women’s shelter in Maine that rejected a trans woman because she often dresses in a tshirt and jeans, and doesn’t always wear makeup. Not only was she held to a ridiculous standard that cis women don’t meet, it was also a standard seeped in sexist beliefs about women!That is not at all an isolated case. When it comes to critical resources like this, rejection is the norm for trans women.
We are separated not just from emergency resources, but community and friendship. This means we’re also forcibly kept out of important circles that would give greater economic stability. It’s worth saying, this isn’t just a problem for trans women in general. It’s also a problem for other marginalized groups and, most damagingly, the places where they intersect. The common refrain now is that these problems hit trans women of color most severely, and there’s no denying it.
Exclusion also affects trans men to some small degree, but what I’ve experienced mostly is that trans men are able to gain prestige within the feminist community, and then keep all their professional and community ties posttransition. It creates an imbalance that goes against the goals of feminism.