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I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

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What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith? In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith? In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. With the author's characteristic eloquence and honesty, I Hope We Choose Love proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. Taking its cues from contemporary thought leaders in the transformative justice movement such as adrienne maree brown and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, this provocative book is a call for nuance in a time of political polarization, for healing in a time of justice, and for love in an apocalypse.


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What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith? In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions What can we hope for at the end of the world? What can we trust in when community has broken our hearts? What would it mean to pursue justice without violence? How can we love in the absence of faith? In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. With the author's characteristic eloquence and honesty, I Hope We Choose Love proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. Taking its cues from contemporary thought leaders in the transformative justice movement such as adrienne maree brown and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, this provocative book is a call for nuance in a time of political polarization, for healing in a time of justice, and for love in an apocalypse.

30 review for I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This was an interesting read because I've read Kai Cheng Thom's work and was blown away by her in previous years. This essay collection pulls back the curtain to the trauma that accompanies fame whether that comes from the work or being a SJW on the internet (self-declared, since I think of this as a negative term), questions the assumed safety inherit in queer communities, and proposes a few approaches of restorative justice moving forward. Out from Arsenal Pulp October 8, I had a copy through E This was an interesting read because I've read Kai Cheng Thom's work and was blown away by her in previous years. This essay collection pulls back the curtain to the trauma that accompanies fame whether that comes from the work or being a SJW on the internet (self-declared, since I think of this as a negative term), questions the assumed safety inherit in queer communities, and proposes a few approaches of restorative justice moving forward. Out from Arsenal Pulp October 8, I had a copy through Edelweiss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    I am so grateful for authors like Kai Cheng Thom, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and adrienne maree brown for taking on the difficult, important conversation around social justice as well as queer communities. For diving into the messiness and being honest and exploring the complexities at work. These essays have given me a lot to think about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leonicka

    Read this slow. It's dense, so resist the need to summarize your feelings in a soundbite or hot take. Just... Sit with it for a while. Then talk about it out loud (in person even!) with one friend. (This is not a casual books-and-wine club book.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I had my library buy this book so I could read it; so I read the paperback version. As I read the book, I felt like I wasn't the target audience. On one hand, I'm eager to learn more about the ways people reenact violence toward one another, while simultaneously thirsting for community. I felt like the essays really talked about this at length, and I enjoyed learning more about Kai's personal experience within queer spaces. On other other hand, I have never been part of any queer community. Part I had my library buy this book so I could read it; so I read the paperback version. As I read the book, I felt like I wasn't the target audience. On one hand, I'm eager to learn more about the ways people reenact violence toward one another, while simultaneously thirsting for community. I felt like the essays really talked about this at length, and I enjoyed learning more about Kai's personal experience within queer spaces. On other other hand, I have never been part of any queer community. Part of this is rooted in the fact that I continue to live in predominantly white cities, where many queer people are also white. The other part is that I simply don't fit in, and have found belonging to be a really elusive concept/experience for me. So while many of the critiques about queer community were familiar to me, this was mostly because I spend a lot of time online and often see people talk about these same issues. So I mostly felt like I was on the outside looking in. It was all very informative and interesting, but deeply disconnected from my own life experience. I will say that I didn't particularly enjoy how Kai constantly refers to trans women of color, and only specifically mentions Black women to refer to something specific. I dislike this trend I'm seeing of Asian people grouping all people of color together and insisting that we're all having the same/similar experiences. I am also not a fan of non-Black people using AAVE (woke appears multiple times throughout the book), and the author never really addresses the origin of the term of how it's been co-opted by non-Black people (or acknowledges how a Black women initiated what we now call the #MeToo movement, and how it's been co-opted as well - she simply starts talking about it in an essay). So, I enjoyed the book - and found her perspective really interesting and her twitter presence is really insightful too. But I didn't like what I perceived to be erasure of Black trans women unless it served a specific point the author was trying to make.

  5. 4 out of 5

    l.

    1. The life expectancy of trans women is not 35. This is a complete fabrication and spreading it is not helpful to anyone. Where the statistic came from and why it is false here: https://enoughtohold.tumblr.com/post/... 2. Understanding legal frameworks is crucial to being able to discuss legal issues. a. You cannot discuss involuntary treatment of the mentally ill without any discussion of capacity. You can not compare a capable adult telling a doctor or therapist, “Thanks but no thanks!” to a 4 1. The life expectancy of trans women is not 35. This is a complete fabrication and spreading it is not helpful to anyone. Where the statistic came from and why it is false here: https://enoughtohold.tumblr.com/post/... 2. Understanding legal frameworks is crucial to being able to discuss legal issues. a. You cannot discuss involuntary treatment of the mentally ill without any discussion of capacity. You can not compare a capable adult telling a doctor or therapist, “Thanks but no thanks!” to a 4 year old child saying they’re going to run away from home. These are not comparable situations that call for comparable interventions. The doctor has no right to interfere in the first person’s life whereas obviously a parent of a four year old can’t just let their four year old disappear into the blue. Even if you don’t understand the legal framework, anyone can see that these aren’t even vaguely analogous situations. b. You cannot discuss sexual assault while not knowing the legal definition of consent or the legal definition of sexual assault. You cannot meaningfully discuss sexual assault when you insist there is no definition that everyone agrees on. There is. It’s in the Criminal Code. It’s not complicated. There are contextual factors taken into account when assessing whether x act is sexual assault but it’s really not that complicated. c. You cannot discuss failure to disclose HIV positive status and vitiation of consent without understanding the concept of informed consent. And you shouldn’t bother talking about this if you’re not going to get into the specifics about how in practice, people who are HIV positive are primarily impacted though the law doesn’t mention it specifically, and how serophobia in law renders HIV positive people more vulnerable, and how there may be no risk of transmission to others in the first place (tbh I only know the basic arguments re this issue, but I know there is plenty of research out there that Thom could have drawn upon if she had bothered to try and ground her pieces at all). d. You cannot discuss whether trans people failing to disclose being trans before having sex with another person should be considered rape by deception if you don’t understand the idea of informed consent in the first place, if you’re not willing to go there and do the work, see whether the concept itself is useless, or whether it has some merit (“stealthing” comes to mind), and distinguish those situations where it might be useful, from those wrt trans people and explain the rationale. Why bring up issues if you’re not going to tackle them at all. 3. Stop gaslighting lesbians about the cotton ceiling rhetoric. It’s disgusting and a perfect example of rape culture within queer communities that is discussed repeatedly in this book. There is a problem of homophobia in trans advocacy that is not new, that goes back decades, and it is the height of cowardice for trans writers to refuse to even acknowledge it. 4. I am too tired to write anymore but I will say that as a collection of personal essays, it can be quite moving. But as a critical look at anything? Lacking. I don’t think that’s what this collection was trying to do, but I’m not sure what this collection was trying to do either.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Kai Cheng Thom’s I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World might not seem much, but don’t let first appearances fool you. We need to start talking about this book and have conversations about the subjects raised within it. I Hope We Choose Love dives deep into hard-hitting waters as it takes on social issues such as suicide, transphobia, physical and sexual violence alongside Kai’s own experiences as a therapist/queer activist/Chinese trans woman/all of the above. Ther Kai Cheng Thom’s I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World might not seem much, but don’t let first appearances fool you. We need to start talking about this book and have conversations about the subjects raised within it. I Hope We Choose Love dives deep into hard-hitting waters as it takes on social issues such as suicide, transphobia, physical and sexual violence alongside Kai’s own experiences as a therapist/queer activist/Chinese trans woman/all of the above. There isn’t anything too graphic/explicit, though, and I think the level of sensitivity and eloquence in her writing really shows her background as a writer and social worker. It is an interesting experience reading this book. I thought I’d wanted something easy and quick to read, but I found myself perfectly content to take my time with this one and it’s not just because there is so much to digest. It is a book that catches me unaware, one that offers new perspectives while getting me to think more critically about topics I thought I already knew enough about. In this way, reading the book itself feels like being engaged in a seemingly one way discussion. It made me think and feel and wonder — everything I’d hope for and expect in a book like this. All in all, a highly insightful, thought provoking and necessary read. I definitely want to see more people picking this book up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Isaac R. Fellman

    Beautiful and powerful. There are arguments and critiques of queer community in here that I wouldn’t trust coming from most people, but that Thom has more than the moral authority and rigor of argument to handle. Glad I read this.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zaynab Shahar

    I found the poetic thread throughout this book moving, as well as the essays towards the end of the book where the author is really grounded in her experiences with family. These moments to me seemed to really embody the notion of what it means to choose love and how complicated that choice can be. At the same time, the essays around thinking about harm fell flat for me. I didn't care for the chapter on cancel culture, namely because I don't believe it exists in the way people like Thom describe I found the poetic thread throughout this book moving, as well as the essays towards the end of the book where the author is really grounded in her experiences with family. These moments to me seemed to really embody the notion of what it means to choose love and how complicated that choice can be. At the same time, the essays around thinking about harm fell flat for me. I didn't care for the chapter on cancel culture, namely because I don't believe it exists in the way people like Thom describe. Non-Black writers have had a hay-day talking about the toxicity of cancel culture and call out culture while not discussing what actually propels people to utilize these things in the first place. We hear a lot about how they're both bad; but we don't talk about the factors that often lead people to make these decisions and what were the steps prior to publicly calling out harm and violence. Thom's discussion of these things wasn't any markedly different to me. I also felt it kind of ironic to discuss the issues with cancel culture and the campaign against R.Kelly in the same space, namely because I don't get the impression that Thom is really rooted in Black feminist communities or frameworks to understand how different communities understand and advocate for justice. As someone who lives in Chicago, I think the R. Kelly case is not something that an outsider looking in can effectively write about to make a point about the propensity for harm and disposability in queer community. There's a lot of complexities that can't be intuited from observing that movement from a distance. Just because something makes the news doesn't mean we have the ability or insight to comment on it from a distance. Plus, there are most likely movements against gender-based violence against Black women, femmes, and girls in Canada that are worthy of mention. But again, I have to question what is the utility of using movements to end violence against Black women, girls, and femmes when there seems to be a decided absence of Black feminist thought throughout the book (beyond adrienne marie brown I mean). I also question who or what is comprised of this "queer utopia" that is mentioned throughout the book. I'mma be frank, the only people who I've heard mention queer community as a utopia are white people or people who surround themselves in predominately white queer spaces. Which, is fine, but I think you need to own what is considered "utopic" when discussing how it broke your heart. The Black lesbian feminist community I came up it wasn't considered "utopic" but regressive by white queer standards. I also don't know that many of us considered it utopia, but rather a complex community that had to be sustained and maintained as an active practice. It would have been worth deconstructing what gets bracketed as "queer utopia" other than a respite from a cisheteropatriachial world to even elicit the conversation of "queer heartbreak", because people enter both from more varied vantage points than what gets discussed in the book. Overall, I wanted more from this book. If we're gonna choose love, what does it mean to choose love as a practice? What are good practices the author is committed to that readers could implement in their daily lives? What are the foundational elements of a queer community that chooses love, that chooses alternative ways of dealing with harm? Who are we in conversation about in terms of choosing otherwise? Those components were missing for me, and when they were present they felt fleeting and not quite sustained. I wanted more than bullet points at the end of a chapter about how to facilitate new ways of thinking and doing. I wanted a better understanding of the thinkers and movements that are practicing freedom/abolition that inform the author's thinking. I wanted a certain depth that I felt was lacking here.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leila

    this book has given me so much to think about— about the way that social justice spaces for so many of us give us the freedom to be our whole selves, until of course we are deemed in some way problematic and unenlightened and therefore canceled; about the way that we in movement spaces often reject the extremes of the dominant culture, like defaulting to invalidating individual experiences, by adopting our own extremes, like believing and validating all individual experiences to the point of ena this book has given me so much to think about— about the way that social justice spaces for so many of us give us the freedom to be our whole selves, until of course we are deemed in some way problematic and unenlightened and therefore canceled; about the way that we in movement spaces often reject the extremes of the dominant culture, like defaulting to invalidating individual experiences, by adopting our own extremes, like believing and validating all individual experiences to the point of enabling harm; about the differences between healing, and justice, and accountability; about the ways that immigrant parents and communities teach us lessons to the best of their ability to keep us safe within white supremacist, cis heteronormative culture, and the contradiction between the way that white trans kids are so often affirmed and supported even though it's white/western culture that created the norms that cause so much harm in communities of color that are struggling to conform. phew. i deeply appreciated the honesty and insight and rejection of binaries in all their forms, but especially the ones that we create in movement/social justice/qtpoc spaces.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Serra

    What an extraordinary book. Kai's words echoed so many whispered conversations and hesitant offerings I've had over the past few years, wondering if our fate is an ever-constricting response to trauma. Kai holds a mirror up for all of us to gaze into with honesty, which means feeling into the ways we have each failed to treat others with grace, allowing that little rush of superiority to take us over, or the shame of having gotten something wrong and feeling like everything you've built will cru What an extraordinary book. Kai's words echoed so many whispered conversations and hesitant offerings I've had over the past few years, wondering if our fate is an ever-constricting response to trauma. Kai holds a mirror up for all of us to gaze into with honesty, which means feeling into the ways we have each failed to treat others with grace, allowing that little rush of superiority to take us over, or the shame of having gotten something wrong and feeling like everything you've built will crumble as a result. I wept at the stories towards the end of the book about Kai's grandfather's funeral, about wondering where Kai's mothers and elders have gone. The poetry is haunting and powerful. I plan on spreading the word far and wide about this book and hopefully, engaging in some rich conversations about community as a result.

  11. 4 out of 5

    2TReads

    This was a thought-provoking read, a discussion-inducing read and I am very glad I read it. That said, I am never quite sure how to rate nonfiction essay collections. So let's just say that the rating represents how I felt while reading and after reading. 'What I hope for is to live as brilliantly as the mothers and sisters I've never met. I want to live for the ones who don't, for the ones who went before. I Want To Live As Long and Lovingly as I Can' - Kai Cheng Thom 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 This essay collection This was a thought-provoking read, a discussion-inducing read and I am very glad I read it. That said, I am never quite sure how to rate nonfiction essay collections. So let's just say that the rating represents how I felt while reading and after reading. 'What I hope for is to live as brilliantly as the mothers and sisters I've never met. I want to live for the ones who don't, for the ones who went before. I Want To Live As Long and Lovingly as I Can' - Kai Cheng Thom 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 This essay collection really allowed readers an intimate journey through Thom's mind and thought processes, as she tackled topics that have impacted her or are very dear to her heart and purpose. 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 Communities heal but they also hurt. 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 Love is essential, but more than that, it must be accepting, understanding, steadfast, and strong. That what we say and do in the absence of love can have outward rippling effects that can be cripplingly devastating. 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 Thom talks about the wave of acceptance that seems to blanket trans women and the queer community, while also highlighting institutions within and without queer community that do not actively engage in true acceptance and elevation of trans women and queer lifestyle and expressions. 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 She looks at violence within queer community and how it is overwhelmingly ignored, dismissed, not taken seriously. These essays serve not only in documenting her experiences and ruminations, but are an important tool that should be used to engage in stimulating dialogue and world-changing behaviour. 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 An insightful, thought-provoking, discussion-inducing read. 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kat Rogue

    So profoundly good and important. Vital reading for trans women, queers, and activists of all kinds. I don't know how to talk about the impact of this writing. It's completely true, all of it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    The the point: This book makes me want to be a better person, friend, and ally, both inside and outside of the queer community. It's poignant, honest, heartfelt, and... kind. I'll be thinking about this one for some time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Acqua

    This isn't really a review, because I don't know how to review nonfiction made up of essays* and poetry, but this was definitely a worthwhile read. It's an attempt to reframe how we think about justice and the meaning itself of healing in marginalized communities - where so many of us are traumatized, and it talks both about the concept of safety in the context of trauma and about the commodification of trauma in the Discourse™. As there is a lot in here about how queer communities fail their mem This isn't really a review, because I don't know how to review nonfiction made up of essays* and poetry, but this was definitely a worthwhile read. It's an attempt to reframe how we think about justice and the meaning itself of healing in marginalized communities - where so many of us are traumatized, and it talks both about the concept of safety in the context of trauma and about the commodification of trauma in the Discourse™. As there is a lot in here about how queer communities fail their members that uncannily (or maybe not, all things considered) mirrors queer book twitter's most dysfunctional behavior patterns, I think many of my friends and followers could get something out of it as well. * I think? I don't really even know the right name for them in English.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alanna Why

    A very thought-provoking collection of essays and poetry about activism, queer communities and the path towards true liberation. I really tried to resist reading this all in one shot, because each piece has a grain of nuanced knowledge that is worthy of long contemplation. The essays lean towards more of a blog/academic style, so I enjoyed that they were interspersed with more lyrical poems. I loved the section about restorative/transformative justice in particular (if anyone has suggestions to A very thought-provoking collection of essays and poetry about activism, queer communities and the path towards true liberation. I really tried to resist reading this all in one shot, because each piece has a grain of nuanced knowledge that is worthy of long contemplation. The essays lean towards more of a blog/academic style, so I enjoyed that they were interspersed with more lyrical poems. I loved the section about restorative/transformative justice in particular (if anyone has suggestions to read more about this, I would love to hear them - I am already familiar with adrienne maree brown's and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's work on the topic). Also this book has the best/most resonant thing I've ever read about boundaries, which is that "they are the place / where love can live / without being lost." :')

  16. 4 out of 5

    Misha

    This was a powerful and thought-provoking book on trans activism, queer communities and making them the safe and empowering spaces they claim to be (but don't always live up to), and how to look at restorative justice methods instead of casting people out in community when they say or do the wrong thing. With what feels like the end of the world in our politics and environment, how do we see and make our ways to better futures? Thom's work as a POC trans activist and counselor informs her thinki This was a powerful and thought-provoking book on trans activism, queer communities and making them the safe and empowering spaces they claim to be (but don't always live up to), and how to look at restorative justice methods instead of casting people out in community when they say or do the wrong thing. With what feels like the end of the world in our politics and environment, how do we see and make our ways to better futures? Thom's work as a POC trans activist and counselor informs her thinking, and she also credits adrienne maree brown and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarainha as mentors and thought-partners in her exploration of these topics. Notes to follow soon.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jase

    Gosh I love this!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julie Avra

    What a wonderful book!!! Beautiful and meaningful and will stick with me in all sorts of parts of my life- social work, love, friendships, social justice, queer community. So glad I read this!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    “And we will have to give up our defences, our time-worn defences of dissociation and numbness, as well of those of rage and revenge. We have to be able to care, even when it seems impossible because caring would destroy us. We have to believe that we will survive each other, because there is something waiting for us when the ice melts.” The description on the back of ‘I Hope We Choose Love’ says that it “proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, vengeance, and forgivene “And we will have to give up our defences, our time-worn defences of dissociation and numbness, as well of those of rage and revenge. We have to be able to care, even when it seems impossible because caring would destroy us. We have to believe that we will survive each other, because there is something waiting for us when the ice melts.” The description on the back of ‘I Hope We Choose Love’ says that it “proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, vengeance, and forgiveness” and I don’t know that it does- I wanted more, more answers, more concrete steps of things we can do, actions to take. IHWCL asks the right questions, it points out the tired fallacies that aren’t serving us, it sets us on a good track. It’s what I needed to read and I appreciate it deeply. I just wouldn’t describe the contents as solutions so much as ruminations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Grant

    This book is good, and very intense. It is worth stopping after each essay and thinking about it. Because they were different essays and not (I think) intended initially to be one book, it was sometimes jarring (ie., occasionally one essay would say one thing and a later one would contradict that thought).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    This is a wonderful read. I feel like it broke my heart and then built it back up from the pieces. Really insightful critiques of the world and the social justice community, beautiful poetry, and stories told by someone with a clear vision, giant intellect, and endless compassion and empathy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    So good I wanted to read it again immediately

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    I received an ARC via Edelweiss. A really compassionate and insightful collection of essays about what's going wrong in queer communities from a trauma-informed perspective. This is one I'll be coming back to repeatedly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aanchal

    This book spoke to me. It articulated so many feelings that I have wondered and thought about when it comes to social justice and being an activist and what the world needs. A necessary read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    I like cake

    Some interesting threads, but a bit (ironically, unintentionally) dichotomous and not very nuanced at times, and a severe lack of sources to back up statistical claims (which I usually don’t overly mind about if there’s been a bit of initial effort to broadly back stuff up, but there seemed to be nothing like that). I did like her style and voice though and think she’d be an interesting person to talk to about how ‘queer community’ is variously experienced. I found at times it was a bit too lax Some interesting threads, but a bit (ironically, unintentionally) dichotomous and not very nuanced at times, and a severe lack of sources to back up statistical claims (which I usually don’t overly mind about if there’s been a bit of initial effort to broadly back stuff up, but there seemed to be nothing like that). I did like her style and voice though and think she’d be an interesting person to talk to about how ‘queer community’ is variously experienced. I found at times it was a bit too lax on community perpetrators, though I take her point about the need for more effective ways to mend harm, including more (for want of a better word) ‘restorative’ measures of justice in queer community. I guess I have lost faith in the community, where she hangs on to some faith still. But, like her, I’ve not really had the sort of life where I can as freely choose my communities as non-lgbt people often can. So we’re both still knocking around just with varying levels of faith. I found blanket use of ‘sex positive’ and ‘sex negative’ as an ‘either/or’ a bit off putting and also found it worrying that she lists violence among the various kinds of ‘sexual’ experience we need more nuance around - just, nah... but, as I said, someone I’d like to debate.

  26. 5 out of 5

    violetslikecastanets_

    This book was really wonderful. It felt like a love letter to those of us feeling intense grief and also love for our lgbt community and the stickiness and complexity of sociality, organizing, and dreaming a different world. It felt like a culmination of so many conversations I have started with lovers, friends, and organizers but not had the time or focus to fully sit with, or perhaps have been in a continual state of sitting with. It has helped dislodge or clarify some observations I have of " This book was really wonderful. It felt like a love letter to those of us feeling intense grief and also love for our lgbt community and the stickiness and complexity of sociality, organizing, and dreaming a different world. It felt like a culmination of so many conversations I have started with lovers, friends, and organizers but not had the time or focus to fully sit with, or perhaps have been in a continual state of sitting with. It has helped dislodge or clarify some observations I have of "us" in this moment, and also I felt really grateful to have Kai hold my hand as I felt and read my way through her essays.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natsumi Paxton

    Amazing- I keep this book close to my bed because I know that I need to read it again, possibly on the daily. This is specifically about community and accountability within queer community (author is a trans woman who's an activist and writer in Toronto), but many of the issues being explored are relatable to someone like me, a cis straight person who spends time in movement spaces. If pursuing accountability stresses you out, if you've been harmed or harmed others (and who hasn't?) in your comm Amazing- I keep this book close to my bed because I know that I need to read it again, possibly on the daily. This is specifically about community and accountability within queer community (author is a trans woman who's an activist and writer in Toronto), but many of the issues being explored are relatable to someone like me, a cis straight person who spends time in movement spaces. If pursuing accountability stresses you out, if you've been harmed or harmed others (and who hasn't?) in your community and seek solutions beyond punishment, read this book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    READ ON SCRIBD. I read this in one sitting, actually in about 2 hours. It's an accessible read, free of inaccessible, academic jargon. I went back and forth on the rating for this one -- at some points, I thought "3 stars", and at some points, "4 stars". The first part of the book focuses heavily on issues in the "social justice" world with a focus specifically on the confines of internet social justice -- critiques and musings on the direction that social justice takes online, which of course is READ ON SCRIBD. I read this in one sitting, actually in about 2 hours. It's an accessible read, free of inaccessible, academic jargon. I went back and forth on the rating for this one -- at some points, I thought "3 stars", and at some points, "4 stars". The first part of the book focuses heavily on issues in the "social justice" world with a focus specifically on the confines of internet social justice -- critiques and musings on the direction that social justice takes online, which of course is many different directions. Kai Cheng Thom is not much older than I am and so I have a sneaking suspicion she also saw the dreadful "social justice warrior days" of tumblr like I did; it really leaves an impression on you. She raises a lot of good points I am inclined to agree with; her essay on suicide and how people perform grief after a celebrity suicide (her essay is based around Robin Williams) is wonderful and I loved it very much. The second part of this book focuses heavily on the subject of consent, sexual violence, and the #MeToo movement, so definite trigger warnings there. But overall, she approaches these topics in a very thoughtful manner where she gives herself space to think and ponder, and in turn, gives you the reader the same. The last part of the book where she begins to discuss political and sociopolitical issues is where I realized I was going to give this book 4 stars. Her essay on neoliberalism and the co-option of the transgender liberation movement is superb; that is one of the essays that won me over. It seems, in transgender studies, that a lot of the Big Books On Transgender People, as great as they are, are outdated in many ways. This was the first book of essays on transgender issues I've read that consisted of transgender life and theory in the 2010s, a decade we just got out of 5 months ago, and a decade which is begging to be written about more. Overall, a good read. I will admit I am not a vulnerable person, so some of the "softer" parts of this book didn't really resonate with me, but that's what I'm in therapy for. So I suppose I'll come back to it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Wise, brilliant, and unsettling, these essays take on the messy, complicated and murky world of sexual and gender politics. Thom challenges both the powerful and vulnerable – and those of us who are liberal thinkers somewhere in between. I found many of my unspoken – and sometimes unrecognized – feelings confirmed in her writing, among them my discomfort with the simplistic thinking of some social justice activists and of the punishment focus of the #Me Too movement. A few quotes to illustrate t Wise, brilliant, and unsettling, these essays take on the messy, complicated and murky world of sexual and gender politics. Thom challenges both the powerful and vulnerable – and those of us who are liberal thinkers somewhere in between. I found many of my unspoken – and sometimes unrecognized – feelings confirmed in her writing, among them my discomfort with the simplistic thinking of some social justice activists and of the punishment focus of the #Me Too movement. A few quotes to illustrate this: • “I have come to believe…that strong relationships, revolutionary relationships contain the capacity for complexity and tension. That, in a loving place, I am able to hear a friend disagree with me and that I don’t have to follow it….That there is enough trust between us that our differences will not shatter us.” • “…a culture in which the majority of public education is done through public shaming is neither socially transformative or psychologically healthy. Call-out culture, in my experience, can also spin into the dynamics of punishment through bullying and intimidation…” • “Models of justice that centre punishment do not prevent abuse but only react to it, and they don’t offer a pathway toward healing for either perpetrators or survivors.” A slender volume full of insights and astute observation from her place as a transgender person of colour and as a social worker, I hope we choose love is a text to guide the current and coming revolutions.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Scott Neigh

    By Toronto-based writer and performer Kai Cheng Thom. Essays interspersed with poems. Smart. Thoughtful. Challenging. Names not just the violence of the mainstream but its more insidious correlates within communities that style themselves as being of marginalized belonging and/or of resistance. Less ornate in its writing than I for some reason (perhaps because the author is a poet?) expected, but that is not a problem with the writing just with my expectations. A couple of pieces that felt weake By Toronto-based writer and performer Kai Cheng Thom. Essays interspersed with poems. Smart. Thoughtful. Challenging. Names not just the violence of the mainstream but its more insidious correlates within communities that style themselves as being of marginalized belonging and/or of resistance. Less ornate in its writing than I for some reason (perhaps because the author is a poet?) expected, but that is not a problem with the writing just with my expectations. A couple of pieces that felt weaker, but it's mostly important, insightful stuff. The first essay, for instance, has a welcome brash willingness to knock over tables and name harmful dynamics that permeate radical spaces (and that you will recognize if you have spent any time in such contexts), but was ultimately a little dissatisfying and left me feeling like there was more that needed to be said. More *what* I'm not entirely sure, but perhaps more of the careful thoughtfulness that I appreciated so much in most of the rest of the pieces and their nuanced explorations of things like consent, abuse within queer communities, mental health and suicide, and life as a trans woman of colour. A particularly useful book, I think, for anyone thinking through dysfunction in communities that claim visions of justice and liberation, though it doesn't necessarily have answers for you.

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