American performance artist, and LGBTQ rights activist
Alok Vaid-Menon (born July 1, 1991) is an American writer, performance artist, and media personality who performs under the moniker ALOK.
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- The US routinely searches for new legal scapegoats to deposit its fears and anxieties around gender/sexual deviance. In the past, this has included the Witch Trials, sodomy laws, hyper-criminalization of suspected gay pedophilia in the late 20th century, and most recently dozens of state and local anti-trans bills across the country. While the face/identity of the alleged perpetrators have changed, the supposed purity of the "victims" has remained quite stagnant. These days the narrative is that freaky transgender people (or as they say "crossdressers") will come into your bathrooms and abuse innocent little girls. This type of legal/carceral culture relies on two things: The construction of morally abhorrent perpetrators/scapegoats AND the production of pure, innocent victims. In this case, as in so many cases in the past, these victims are archetypical (white) (cis) innocent little girls. We totally need to challenge the white Christian supremacist, right-wing rhetoric around trans bodies, absolutely. But we also need to seriously overhaul the idea that there is a perfect victim anywhere.
- I believe in the radical notion that little girls, like the rest of us, are complicated people. There are no fairy tales and princesses here. Little girls are also queer, trans, kinky, deviant, kind, mean, beautiful, ugly, tremendous, and peculiar. Your kids aren't as straight and narrow as you think they are. Like everybody else. I've been a cute little girl. And a gender nonconforming adult. Let me tell you, everywhere along that spectrum, I've been complicated and strange.
- The 1973 horror flick "The Exorcist" is my favorite snapshot of the cultural place of (white) (cis) little girls. In the film, a little girl (with a single mother) is possessed by the devil. From another perspective, the little girl is actually exploring her sexuality (masturbation and so on) and her own demons/meanness. Obviously, (white) men from the church have to be brought in to save her since her single mom can't do it alone. What if instead of moving from the "Exorcist" model of little girlhood, we moved from a place that acknowledged that no one is a perfect pure flower that can be corrupted. That everyone is at once capable of receiving and enacting violence, including little girls. That we all give and receive violence to varying degrees, but that this is not a fairy tale. No one is purely good or evil. Look around: there are no princesses.
- I think I have a daily relationship with a sense of inadequacy. I've written about this in the past, but when you are a non-binary person in this country in this time, there's an imposter syndrome for being alive, because people don't think that we should exist. And so every day I have to remind myself they're wrong, because I'm breathing, they're wrong because I'm speaking. And so I have to remind myself not only am I enough, but the very system that has and weaponizes a criteria that would rather disappear me, that's not a system that will ever evaluate me again.
- We're always gonna mess up because we are indoctrinated into a world that teaches us ideology, not compassion. So it's not you speaking when you misgender me, it's everyone that has spoken to you before. And in my life what I always try to remind people is I was not born with gender literacy, I was born hating myself and hunting myself and I had to learn too, so other people are gonna have to learn. And in that way, I think trans people can actually teach the world transition is possible, not just between genders but between paradigms.
- Being alive is about messing up gloriously, and I will fight for that ability to gloriously mess up because I don't believe that humans are statues or sculptures.
- That is what love is for me, trying harder for each other.
- I'm non-binary, which means it's not just that I'm challenging the binary between male, female, man, woman, but between us and them. And in your statement, you said, "why don't I help them", as if this struggle is not your struggle too. The reason you don't fight for me is because you're not fighting for yourself fully. And any movement that's trying to emancipate men from the shackles of heteropatriarchy or emancipate women from traditional gender ideology has to have trans and non-binary people at the forefront, because we are actually the most honest. We're tracing the root, where did these ideas of manhood and womanhood come from? They come from a binary structure, and so that's why people like me, who are visibly gender nonconforming, who are both feminine and masculine and none of the above, we experience the brunt of all of these collective fantasies that were created that are killing other people, that are also killing us, it just looks different. And so one of the things that I try to do in my work is say, "don't show up for me because you wanna protect me, or you wanna help me. I don't need your help. I have an unshakeable and irrevocable sense of who I am, because I am divine." [...] I don't need to be legitimized, or I don't have anything to prove. What I want us to rephrase the conversation is, are you ready to heal? And I don't think the majority of people are ready to heal, and that's why they repress us as trans and gender variant people, because they've done this violence to themselves first. They've repressed their own femininity, they've repressed their own gender non-conformity, they've repressed their own ambivalence, they've repressed their own creativity. And so when they see us have the audacity to live a life without compromise, where we say there are no trade-offs, where we say we actually get to carve in a marrow of this earth and create our own goddamn beauty, instead of saying "thank you for teaching me another way to live", they try to disappear us because they did that to themselves first.