Corvallis Impact: Mikasi Goodwin

Mikasi Goodwin, known by her friends as Mika, is one impressive human, to say the least. Many locals recognize her as a recent Ward Three candidate for city council; others know her as a musician, co-chair of the Benton County Democratic Socialists of America, and core member of the Corvallis Transgender Support Group. In addition to being a pillar of the local punk and queer scenes – which overlap more often than not – Goodwin is an active participant in local politics and stands as one of the strongholds of the Corvallis activist community. She co-hosted the Corvallis Pride Festival in September, and also recently helped organize a trans visibility rally in wake of Trump’s assault on trans rights by using essentialist definitions of gender. 

When asked what lead her to run for city council, Goodwin explained how influential the 2016 presidential election was for her. “That, I think, really made me decide I have to do something.” This particular moment came at a time when she had only recently come out as a trans woman and was working towards building confidence in herself and her identity.  

“I think the first couple of years of being out I really kind of bought into this idea that I couldn’t really do anything anymore… And when I pushed back against that I found that there really weren’t a lot of barriers that I thought were there, that I could just achieve the things I wanted to.” It was that process of testing that Goodwin said really helped her gain footing and understanding of where the real barriers were. She became increasingly aware of the obstacles she would face as a member of a marginalized community, setting herself on a path towards social and political leadership.

For years Goodwin has been an important member of the Corvallis Transgender Support Group (http://corvallistranssupport.wordpress.com/), keeping food and clothing at her house for those in need. This year, she took on the task of co-organizing Corvallis Pride with Dharma Mirza. Goodwin raved about Mirza and all she’s done to foster the local drag scene in town, and expressed gratitude for the amount of queer visibility there is in such a small place as Corvallis. 

“At the same time,” she commented, “we don’t have the resources we should for how big our community is… People have to go to Salem, Eugene, Portland, anywhere but here.” 

Goodwin noted that though the Pride Center at Oregon State University is technically open to the public, many non-student members of the local queer community do not feel welcome to the same extent students are, and thus see the center as largely inaccessible. Goodwin pointed out the significant discrepancy in access to health services, including medical doctors and therapists, between the university community and the greater Corvallis community. “Bridges need to be built,” she said. “It’s definitely a problem.”

Growing up in Albany, Goodwin was homeschooled through her adolescence and spent much of her free time participating in the DIY punk scene in Corvallis. According to her, several core figures from back then continue to hold down the Corvallis DIY fort today. 

Goodwin’s genuine connection with Corvallis prompted her decision to move back to the area after two years of living in Portland, where she didn’t feel as welcomed as she had hoped: “It was not a fun time…I kind of moved there thinking it would be, I guess, what everybody dreams it is when they move there, and it definitely is not.” With a laugh, she added, “Corvallis is actually a lot of those things that I wanted.”

Trying to best articulate what makes the punk scene so special in Corvallis, she said, “It’s hard to describe what it is. There’s a community feeling that I’ve seen [in] other places but only really rarely.” 

Nostalgically, she pointed to a kind of vibe cultivated in Portland a little less than a decade ago: “People would come to shows and instead of moshing they would dance and get silly and it wasn’t super self-serious. The music was really fun, and people were looking out for each other. It was a really positive space.” 

Goodwin explained that many of the original members of the Corvallis DIY community took that philosophy to heart and continue to do so today – which is what makes DIY shows at Interzone, Nearly Normal’s, and Mudville Stadium (a house venue near campus) so uniquely wonderful. She also expanded on the inclusivity of this particular kind of DIY scene; spaces like Horsey House, a house where Mika booked and ran shows for over the last couple of years, served as a “queer-specific space [that] encouraged a lot of people who don’t come out to shows to come to shows.” 

She expanded, “I think it was just a space where they felt safe, and they could just do them. Be them.”

The interview coming to a close, Goodwin opined that we are in a critical moment in politics.

“There’s something happening to our community, and there’s something happening politically in our country right now…. The Democrats and Liberals have kind of failed. And nobody wants to turn to conservatives in this town and be like, ‘it’s your turn.’ We all know that’s not the answer.”

“The only place left to look is to the left,” she said, pointing to the fact that Corvallis saw three socialist trans women running for office this election, including Paige Kreisman, Riley Doraine, and herself. 

The conversation veering towards other issues impacting the local Corvallis community like white supremacy, a lack of tenants’ rights, and inaccessibility of resources for gender and sexual minorities, Goodwin wrapped up with some words of encouragement. 

When asked for her best stab at a life motto, she thoughtfully insisted, “Keep f*cking trying.”

By Maria DeHart

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