Corvallis Social Justice: Art & Activism in Solidarity with Club Q, Reflections on Reproductive Justice in a Post-Roe Era, Downtown December Pride, Resources for Trans Youth 

Last Monday, a vigil for the victims of the Club Q shooting was organized by the Oregon State University Pride Center, Queer Studies program, and Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, which ended with attendees creating memorial art pieces and participating in self-care art activities at the Pride Center. These pieces are currently on display in the form of a memorial altar for the victims, which visitors can spend some time with, and if they would like, add a note or piece of art to.  

Now, the Pride Center is inviting folks to help create a community art piece in continued solidarity with Club Q; once it’s completed, the piece will be shipped to the club in Colorado Springs, Colorado.   

Taking place at the center tomorrow, Dec. 1, from 4 – 5:45 p.m., community members will also be able to write letters to the families of Club Q victims and to incarcerated queer folks, as well as decorate altar candles. For those who would like to participate in the community art piece but are unable to make it to the event, the Pride Center will have art supplies available for pickup in the evening; each person will be given a piece of fabric to decorate, which will later be added to a bigger collective of contributions that will all be sewn together.  

The Club Q altar memorial will remain in the Student Experience Center (SEC) lobby next to Room 112, where the Pride Center is temporarily located, until the end of this week. Questions or accommodations related to disabilities should be sent to pride.center@oregonstate.edu  

Reproductive Justice in a Post-Roe v. Wade Era: Earlier this month, the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, in collaboration with the OSU Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program, hosted a virtual panel discussing reproductive justice and the intersectional impacts of the overturning of Roe v. Wade 

Panelists included Robin Weis, a Corvallis-based experimental, multimedia artist and activist who centers trans people and experiences in his work, and who also participated as a panelist in the Corvallis Advocate CitySpeak, “Amplifying Underrepresented Artists in Corvallis”; Kobe Natachu, a Shiwi, Diné, and Katishtya transfemme, nonbinary poet, artist, and WGSS Masters student with a minor in Queer Studies; Andy Radmacher, a longtime reproductive justice advocate, community health worker, and certified midwife pursuing a Masters in Medical Anthropology at OSU; and Robin Fifita, an artist, activist, certified traditional healthcare worker and member of the Community Doula Program pursuing a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) at OSU. 

“We recognize that settler-colonialism is an ongoing project that has been historically and continually articulated through reproductive control, child removal, and other structural efforts to disrupt Indigenous kinships,” began Cassandra Hall, a WGSS Ph.D. student who moderated the panel. “While the specific language of reproductive justice was not coined until 1994, it is indebted to deeper histories of resistance to reproductive control. Reproductive justice responds to gaps within reproductive rights movements that inordinately focus on abortion access.. Whereas reproductive rights frameworks tend to individualize abortion through a rhetoric of choice, Reproductive justice focuses on access in the broader systemic context in which reproductive policies are created and implemented. Reproductive justice recognizes that those most impacted by interlocking systems of oppression, including colonialism, white supremacy, ableism, and cisheteropatriarchy are those who are most likely to be subject to reproductive control, and therefore centers them in our work. Reproductive justice is rooted in collective liberation and pulls from intersectional and other critical approaches that attend to these systems of oppression as interlocking.”  

Hall turned to panelists by asking them their understanding of reproductive justice is, and how this impacts and informs their work. 

“The biggest difference I see between reproductive justice and reproductive rights is the understanding of who’s actually covered under the umbrella of rights, because of how rights are often tied to individualist, legal frameworks that assume that all people have access to them, which is obviously not the case,” said Natachu. “I also think just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it will be upheld – especially when we’re talking about marginalized communities, when these rights were never really envisioned to support them… Reproductive justice, on the other hand, while inclusive of rights, these rights are not at the center; it’s more so looking at what’s beyond that, and how we build upon a growing mosaic of [community care]. For myself as an Indigenous transfemme person, I feel that the teachings of reproductive justice frameworks are interwoven into my own projects, sometimes without me even realizing them. It’s just part of how the continuation of Indigenous life is almost always in opposition to ongoing colonial projects, not just in the U.S., but in a global sense. It’s understanding that all of these things are interconnected, and they’re also connected to fighting for the futurity of all Indigenous peoples.” 

Panelists were later asked to share their reactions to the news of Roe v. Wade being overturned.   

“I was thinking that for a lot of Indigenous, Black, queer, trans, disabled, and immigrant communities, bodily autonomy hasn’t been an inherent right before or even when Roe v. Wade was in effect, so it was really a time for us to sit together at this moment and plan ahead,” said Natachu. “I already knew it was going to be similar to what Robin said earlier – how the women’s movement, which is almost always centering cisgender white women, was going to be the face of the outcry without understanding the very specific sociohistorical context which reproductive justice was created out of in the first place, especially to address things like the forced sterilization of Indigenous women, Puerto Rican women, Black women, and other folks who need this type of reproductive care.”  

At the time that the memo was leaked, Weis was working on his “Trash Baby” Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) solo exhibit 

“[The exhibit] was actually kind of dealing with themes of my own history as an assigned female at birth, or AFAB individual, and having my own bodily autonomy taken away frequently,” said Weis. “A lot of my work centered around being transmasculine in a society that doesn’t seem to regard trans people with any type of respect. I already felt really low, and in preparation for this panel, I was actually looking through my journal, and my journal [entry] at the time was, ‘Am I technically an enemy of the state?’ It was in the back of my mind, not just with the continued demonization of trans folks in general, but with feeling like now my body isn’t something that has any specific regard.” 

Turning over to another question, Hall began, “We are witnessing the state’s efforts, the efforts of the establishment to exert reproductive control not only in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but other legislative and structural attacks on those who care for children in ways that are dangerous to systems of oppression. Specifically, I am thinking about the precarity of ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and legislative efforts to remove children from parents and other caregivers who affirm and support queer and trans kids. How can reproductive justices, like the everyday kind of community-based activisms you have offered, support us in this moment? What are the implications of the overturning of Roe v. Wade for the most marginalized, and how can reproductive justice respond to these issues?” 

Radmacher offered, “We’re in an academic setting; there are lots of layers that we study and we think about and we talk about, and I think that it’s really important for us to be able to connect the dots for all of these things, and in community, the way that I was taught to do that is by building relationships with people. There’s power in movement, there’s power in protest, but protests are the visible things that we see; they disrupt the day, hopefully in a moment, and create space to have really hard conversations. But there’s so much work to be done that’s not in the street, and that is in places that are hard and tricky. As a white person, I work a lot with other white people around what it is we’re doing, trying to dig into these conversations in places where we have connections already to make change and plant seeds.” 

“I think a really important part of the community is the visibility,” said Weis. “I can’t say how beautiful it is to actually exist in this community and see so many queer people being vocal about their lived queer experiences. Visibility can be lifesaving, especially in banding together after such a big loss, so I think that part of that community building is being able to be an open queer person – something that is really wonderful to be and to see other people existing in the same space.”  

“I think particularly of how people in my community – my family more broadly – especially regarding the possible overturning of ICWA after what happened to Roe v. Wade, have been talking about the historical happenings that have led up to this point, and how do we heal from something we’re honestly constantly still dealing with, and trying to figure out what it means to have space for these moments like Robin was mentioning of having these relationships that can sustain us and push us into the future,” said Natachu. “I think particularly with ICWA, people may not understand how deep these roots go, and how it’s really built into the continuation of settler-colonialism where children are removed from their homes, and how it’s realistically cultural genocide to start at the root – start at the children, and really try to separate these connections that have been sustained for generations.”  

Per the panel host’s recommendation, OSU students, faculty, and staff can gain online access to the books Revolutionary Mothering and Reproductive Justice: An Introduction through the OSU Library. Additionally, Natachu referenced, a wide breadth of resources for further learning as well as actions to take for protecting ICWA are available on Indigenous creator Show Me Your Mask’s website

For another deep dive on the need for centering intersectional feminism and reproductive justice in conversations and advocacy work revolving around attacks on reproductive freedoms, check out this Corvallis Advocate article, which was written in response to local pro-choice protests that took place earlier this year.  

Downtown Pride in December: This Saturday, Dec. 3, the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE), a labor union organized by and for graduate employees at OSU, will be hosting a Pride in December event in downtown Corvallis. Known as the “Downtown Corvo Crawl”, the event will begin at 5 p.m. at the Common Fields Food Truck Pod, where Morgan O’Rourke-Liggett, a nonbinary, transmasculine Masters student in Fisheries and Wildlife who often performs with local drag entertainment group Haus of Dharma, will give a presentation on “Leather and Bootblacking 101: The Importance of Leather in the LGBTQIA2S+ Community”. From then until 7 p.m., there will be crafts, temporary tattoos, and some food provided.   

Then, from 7 – 8:30 p.m., the Corvallis Cut Connection barber shop will be offering pay-what-you-can haircuts at Treebeerd’s Taproom, with proceeds benefiting the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network, an organization founded by and for gender diverse people to support, empower, amplify, and provide resources to help meet the needs and security of trans, nonbinary, intersex, and gender-noncomforming community members in the region.  

And finally, from 8:30 – 10 p.m., the Biere Library will host a performance by local Latina drag artist Little Miss Mia Moore, with tips also benefiting the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network.  

You can RSVP for the event here. Follow the CGE on their social media for more event updates.  

Resources, Influential Voices for Trans Youth: In a recent Instagram post honoring Trans Day of Remembrance, Jackson Street Youth Services, a local organization offering a continuum of 24/7 care, services, and support to runaway youth experiencing homelessness in Benton, Linn, and Lincoln Counties, began with sharing an excerpt from the poem “Song for the Kicked Out” by disabled and trans Filipinx artist, poet, essayist and cultural strategist Kay Ulanday Barrett, a love letter to unloved trans and queer kin who have been ostracized by their families and banished from their homes.  

“Trans youth are over 7 times more likely to attempt suicide, and are heavily over represented among homeless youth,” reads the post. “Amid a cultural climate that increasingly seeks to make political spectacle out of the private decisions of trans people, Jackson Street is proud to be a safe haven for transgender youth. We follow best practices and guidance from mental health experts, medical professionals, and advocacy groups in providing gender-affirming care and assistance to youth in our services. We love you, we see you, and we celebrate you.”  

The organization highlighted additional “resources and influential voices for trans youth seeking assistance and anyone looking to learn more” in the comments section, including the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network and the Queer Studies Program at OSU, which, they noted, frequently shares and promotes local opportunities and events spotlighting queer, trans, intersex, and gender-nonconforming scholars and activism in academia.  

Other resources that have been mentioned thus far include Trans Lifeline, an entirely trans-led grassroots hotline and microgrant organization that provides direct emotional, financial, peer and community-based crisis support and resource connections to trans folks across the U.S that don’t rely on carceral systems. The lifeline has been spotlighted in a previous Corvallis Social Justice column when it had launched Gender-Affirming Hair Removal (GAHR) microgrants for trans women, trans femmes, and folks experiences transmisogyny – most of which were reserved for Black applicants.   

The National Runaway Safeline (1-800-RUNAWAY), a national communications system for runaway and homeless youth, was also given a shoutout for providing trans-inclusive support to youth in crisis. All throughout November, it led a public awareness campaign to shed light on the realities of – and community resources that are available for – unhoused, runaway, and at-risk youth, which Jackson Street Youth Services participated in by organizing “Skate Park After Dark” outreach events, one of which was held in Corvallis in collaboration with Bitter Half Booking and the Corvallis Really Really Free Market (RRFM) on Nov. 16.   

To help spread awareness of other helpful resources that are available, anyone is welcome to add any that they know of in the comments section. 

By Emilie Ratcliff 

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