Stef Sanjati Tries Veganism!!! ♡ Trans Vegans
Published on 30 Apr 2017
This video is a response video to Stef Sanjati’s video “Why I’m Not Vegan (and why I’m going to try)”. It is mostly a big list of all the trans/ queer trans vegans that are doing incredible work in the movement, working hard to connect animal liberation and queer liberation to end oppression.
Stef Sanjati: I probably would like to be a vegan, I’d probably really, I should be a vegan, because I really, those are important issues to me. . . That being said I would like to see more people who are active about veganism be active about trans people or about other human issues for the same reason you guys want me to be vegan, you know what I mean, I want you guys to stand up for people as much you do for animals and I’m sure some of you do, I have no evidence that you don’t. . . I am seriously going to try to consume no meat or animal products for the months of May, any make up I run out of in the month of May I’m going to try to replace with a vegan or cruelty free brand and I’m just going to try, I’m going to jump right in and I’m ‘a try it.
Today’s video is going to be a response to Stef Sanjati’s video here on YouTube called “Why I’m not vegan,”  if you don’t know Stef, you probably do but she is a really big youtuber, she’s a trans woman and she has such a great channel I’ve been following her for like a year I think, and as if I couldn’t be a bigger fan of her she just made this video about veganism that like kicked ass and I was really excited to see it.
So this video response is going to be fairly specific and I’m going to be focusing on trans and queer vegans who are doing work within the vegan community to make it more inclusive of all gender identities but also who are tying animal liberation to queer liberation in non-vegan spaces so I’m definitely going to, it’s like not going to be an exhaustive video on all the points that she touched on because there were so many and they were all really valid, but I just don’t have time to address them on this video, if you’d like a more general response that hits more points that she made I encourage you to check out Anastasia’s video and I’ll put the link for the video in the description box below. 
But yeah because trans issues and bringing more visibility to people who don’t conform under the normative gender binary is something that Seth cares so deeply about and is personally invested in so I thought that today would be a great opportunity to highlight the work that other trans and gender non-conforming and queer vegans are doing in this movement.
So without further ado, right, yes let’s get into it, so one of the main points that I loved about Stef’s video that I really appreciate as a vegan who’s vegan for ethical reasons is that even though she does bring up dietary concerns and you know things like that, she does tie it back to the fact that veganism is for animals and she is someone who doesn’t believe in animal cruelty so as a result you know she does realize that veganism makes a lot of sense.
Another point that she makes is that even though veganism had interested her for a little while that she doesn’t feel like vegans care about human rights and vegans really care about the trans community and she talks about having this thought that she was like well if vegans cared half as much about trans people that I would care about vegans and then I would like care about their cause and then she realized that that didn’t make a whole lot of sense because veganism is for animals, so even though she might just like dislike some vegans that shouldn’t discredit the whole movement which in her eyes holds a lot of validity.
So I think the fact that she’s able to take a step back and look at her reasoning in a way that is critical, is already really impressive and the fact that she then can come on camera and share this with us in such a raw and honest way, was just something that I really appreciated.
So first of all I did just want to validate some of Stef’s concerns that the mainstream vegan movement, is not always the most inclusive movement, and is problematic in many ways and if you’d like to learn more about that I have a lot of videos about it on my channel and I’ll link the ones that are most relevant to the points that she made down below, but I’m not going to dwell on that too much today, instead I’m going to bring attention to the people who are trying to change that, first I wanted to talk about Pax Ahimsa Gethen is a queer, agender, trans male who runs the blog funcrunch,  where they write about social justice with a particular focus on trans rights and animal rights and why those two things go together.
Pax recently gave a talk at the intersectional justice conference which is a vegan conference by the way about welcoming gender diversity in activist spaces and notably how we can get better at it and make it a safer movement for trans people. And their talks really lays out how we can be better trans allies in the animal rights communities, but just like in general so; respecting people’s gender pronouns, adding a third fill-in the blank option to gender choices in our surveys and making sure that there are trans inclusive bathrooms on our facilities, so anyway I’ll put a few excerpts of their talk right here, so you can get a better idea of what I’m talking about and Pax says everything a lot better than I do so here we go: 
Pax Ahimsa Gethen: So a transgender person like myself, we do not identify with the sex that we were assigned at birth, virtually everyone is assigned at birth a sex of male or female, we like to say assigned or designated at birth, as opposed to biologically or anatomically or genetically female or male or male or female bodied because this honors our own sense of identity rather than one that was assigned to us without our consent.
Here’s an example relevant to the animal rights community on misgendering, this is a comic strip I love called assigned male by a transwoman named Sophia Bell, and the title is misgendering, and in the first panel we see a child walking a dog, and an adult talking to the child, and it says a pet and the adult says “he’s such a cute dog, what’s his name” and the child says “her name is Emmy” and the adult says “oh I’m so, so sorry, she’s so pretty” and then in the next pannel we have a trans person, the same humans no dog, the adult says “what’s your name little girl?” The child says “my name is Sam and I’m actually a boy” the adult says “um well that’s unique, I’ll try to remember, gotta go”
The next person I want to talk about is Christopher Sebastian and shocker right when’s the last time I made about Christopher Sebastian but no seriously it’s because he’s amazing, but he has done so much work connecting human liberation and animal liberation, specifically queer liberation and black liberation, under the framework of anti-speciesism, sorry if that was sort of a mouthful, if you haven’t heard me speak about that stuff yet and but I wanted to highlight a talk that he did at VegFest where he urges vegans to reject the gender binary notably by opposing things like transphobia, homophobia, sexism in the vegan movement and he explains that as animal allies we must take this issue seriously because the gender binary is used to take away the personhood not just from humans but from other animals as well: 
Christopher Sebastian: We’re going to like give a brief explanation of what queer theory is and then we’re going to get into how it applies to animal rights and animal justice and you know and then we’re going to talk about like you know how our current constructions of animal rights activism, like you know it’s not exactly the most inclusive space for queer voices, queer violence and animal violence are extensions of cisgender heteropatriarchal domination.
Does everybody in the room understand what I’m talking about when I say cis-gender, because I know that there are probably some non-native English speakers in the room, okay just to let you know, to put it out there when you are a cisgender person, like you’re a person who already identifies with the gender that you were assigned at Birth, I’m a cisgender male, even though I am a queer identified cis-male, like you know gay in particular, but I’m still cisgender because I still identify as male, I don’t identify with another gender, by the way there are more than two genders, is everyone aware of that? I want to make sure that we are all aware that like scientists, social scientists have discovered that there are upwards of 40 genders, I think we’re up to 50 genders now, there’s so many different genders, the gender binary is absolutely dead, fuck that shit!
But yeah so like you know this is like queer violence and animal violence absolutely inform upon one another and like you know and they’re all extensions of the cisgender heterosexual domination that we’re all a part of, the erasure of sexual diversity and gender presentation and animal communities contributes to the erasure of sexual diversity in human community full stop, full stop.
All right so now moving away a little bit from work that is specifically disrupting transphobia and cis-sexism in the vegan community. I did want to spend some time talking about this, however because when an issue is really dear to your heart it is important when you enter into a new social justice space to see that other people also take this issue seriously and are working to make it a safer space for you in your community.
Alright so now I want to talk about another fantastic organization called Collectively Free that was started by two non-binary queer married women, I know I said they were married, not that important but anyway they are and the organization seeks to promote a pro-intersectional understanding of veganism and to highlight the commonalities between all oppressions under patriarchy, white supremacy, speciesism, capitalism etc. 
So I’ll enter some clips here from two different demonstrations that collectively free did at NYC pride, where they really do an amazing job of highlighting is the connection between queer oppression and animal oppression and yes let’s take a look because I think you’ll really enjoy it: 
CollectivelyFree: When I think about love, I think about my wife, I think about my family, I think about my friends from all creeds and cultures, and race and ages, and sexual orientation, and gender identity, I think about all my brothers and sisters whose struggles we are allies with whom I never met; women, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQI individuals and animals. Let’s not forget that animals too are part of a system of oppression called speciesism, and speciesism is a form of discrimination, it is the assumption that animals are inferior based on species alone.
Do you think if we united we would be unstoppable? The goddamn system wants us to believe that oppressing queers has nothing to do with oppressing animals.
“The animals living together could harm children by provoking interest in non-traditional sexual relations” – Alexie Krestyanov, Russian prosecutor, on imprisoned animals at a zoo.
So we can divide, but we have our pride for everyone who’s died and we say “no more division.” Being treated as “lesser than” is what’s going to unite us. (Repeated 4 times). Violent ideologies don’t exist in isolation. They stem into other forms of oppression. [muffled]. We are not free until everyone is free.
Next I want to talk about Vine Sanctuary, which is an animal sanctuary that offers refuge to animals who have escaped or been rescued from the meat, dairy and egg industry and other abusive circumstances like zoos and cockfighting.
The sanctuary was started by a same-sex couple, one gender non normative and one of Arab descent so as you can imagine sadly they have faced a good deal of discrimination over the years and fighting for queer liberation and racial justice is really one of the key priorities of Vine Sanctuary along with fighting for animal rights obviously and one of their founders Patrice Jones has given so many talks and written extensively about why queer rights are animal rights and why animal rights are queer rights. And so I’ll link a lot of those pieces in the description box below but I’ll also insert a short clip here: 
Vine Sanctuary: To liberate animals!? Think of all the ways that animals are oppressed, by people, think of all of the local and regional economies that are founded upon the exploitation of animals, think about the ways that products of animals are incorporated into the global economy.
Liberating animals, not to mention oh my gosh, restoring their habitats to them, this will require a fundamental restructuring, of local economies of the world economy, of human psychology! Ain’t no way the tiny little group of animal liberation activists and not a particularly diverse group of animal liberation activists can possibly affect that kind of worldwide change, the absolutely only way we’re going to do it, is if we are in sincere solidarity with some social and environmental justice movements and in the course of that, lead people in social and environmental justice movements to understand that speciesism is their problem too.
The next person I want to talk about and I have to thank one of my viewers for recommending his talk to me, he’s called Calvin Neufeld and he’s a trans man who is a fierce advocate for trans rights and animal rights and notably he wrote a piece in G’s magazines which I really urge everyone to go read right now, well after you watch this video and the piece is called trans veganism and I definitely think you should read the whole thing. I’m just going to give you a teaser by reading a couple of paragraphs which I found really insightful: 
Calvin Neufeld: As a vegan transsexual, I have found myself suspended between two worlds, two spheres of activism, two separate communities committed to justice and equality. I believe that the time has come to break down the barriers between these intrinsically connected anti-oppression movements. Naming suffering as our common enemy, I am proposing a trans-vegan alliance.
So I appeal to people of trans experience: let us be leaders in ending oppression and collectively step off the ladder of hierarchy by refusing to regard any living being as beneath us, or as less deserving of life and quality of life.
So I really hope it’s clear that my intention in reading some of this piece is not at all to shame trans people into going vegan, that’s like beyond not my place because last I checked in my own backyard being cis puts me at a position of privilege that has benefited way more from this like shit show of oppression the trans people have. But I did want to amplify the voice of a trans person themselves making this connection because I do think it’s really powerful.
. . .So another article that I wanted to mention is called “A World Without Cages: Thoughts on Vegan, Trans, and Prison Abolitionist Practices” by Jed Walsh and I found this article really insightful as he makes a lot of great connections and observations between these different social justice movements, so I’m going to just read a quick excerpt from the article, but the whole thing will be linked down below: 
Jed Walsh: In looking at trans issues, veganism, and the prison system, each of the three paradigms entails a dichotomy in which one group is positioned as “normative” or “superior,” while the opposing group is considered “other” or “inferior.” Cissexism in our society means that non-trans people are considered normal and healthy, while trans people are relegated to existing only as the deviant and grotesque “other.” Speciesism elevates the concerns and rights of humans over those of animals. And in our massively incarcerated society where 2.3 million people live in cages every year, non-prisoners are the good people, while everyone else is labelled a dangerous criminal. The “others” in each of the three paradigms suffer similar consequences. They are stigmatized as freakish and violent; they are deemed outside the realm of moral consideration; and they are ultimately judged to be inherently deserving of punishment, harm, abuse, and death.
Lastly I wanted to bring up two vegan YouTube channels that are run by transwomen, the first is VeganKayla, so on her channel Kayla talks all about trans issues, transphobia, her experience medically transitioning as a transwoman and she also talks about veganism and vegan food and cheap plant-based options so take a look here: 
Kayla: I was vegetarian before I became vegan so it wasn’t really that hard, I was already vegetarian and I was kind of off and on vegan when I was a vegetarian until I decided to watch Earthlings and a bunch of like crazy documentary’s and then I became full-fledged vegan and I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to being vegetarian.
And then the other one is run by a Canadian youtuber called Maya, it’s less social justice oriented I think, but she is vegan and I did find a video where she talks about it: 
I’ve been vegetarian for over five years now and I thought it was finally time for me to take the next step and go vegan because animal activism is something that I’ve always been a big believer in and supporter of and I really felt like veganism was the right way for me to go and I just think it has a great impact on the environment, on your own health and I think it’s just a very sustainable way for humans to maintain our earth because we are just consuming the crap out of stuff and the animal production just isn’t, it’s not good, so that’s kind of my reasoning behind going vegan.
And also for anyone who is interested I’m currently reading a poetry book by this very talented Sea Sharp who is a gender nonbinary black feminist vegan and I am enjoying this poetry book so much, it’s not like I’m an intellectual who just like reads poetry all the time, I okay confession and really spirit of poetry and feel like I can’t understand it at all ever and I just kind of like nod along and wait till people tell me their poems are about, but I am enjoying this poetry book so much and it’s really, it’s really great so for all of you vegans out there interested in queer issues and checking out and supporting the work of queer vegans and vegans of color, I encourage you to check out this lovely book which I’ll post the links to in the description box. 
Oh one last thing I promise, Stef in her video talks about farm workers rights, which again I thought was really cool of her and she mentioned having concerns about like the influx of vegan products possibly aggravating the situation of poor farm workers and so I briefly wanted to shout out the food empowerment project which is a vegan food justice organization that does really incredible work around issues of fair trade and labor violations both within, like both for plant-based foods like bananas and cacao and coffee and also like abuse of slaughterhouse workers and issues of food deserts in America and food insecurity and everything, so if you’re interested in learning more about two justice issues as a vegan or you know as a person who cares about these things, I definitely encourage you to check them out. 
All right so I’m going to leave off here for today, there’s so much more that I can mention Steph talked about fat shaming in the vegan community so I have a few videos on that which I’ll link below and I couldn’t possibly mention all the incredible activists doing work around connecting animal liberation and human liberation but there certainly are so, so many, I just thought that I would try to focus on like the most relevant resources for today and you know think about the ones that would interest Stef the most. . . I thought that these resources could be interesting to people specifically looking for queer and trans resources within the vegan community and how those two issues that are geared to a lot of people intersect, so I really hope that you enjoyed this video. . .
1. Stef’s video:
2. Anastasia’s video response:
3. Pax’s blog:
4. Christopher Sebastian: “Queering Animal Liberation: Why Animal Rights is a Queer Issue”
5. Pax Ahimsa Gethen: “Welcoming Gender Diversity”
6. Collectively Free:
7. NYC Pride March:
8. Vine Sanctuary:
9. Calvin Neufeld “Trans Veganism”
10. “A World Without Cages: Thoughts on Vegan, Trans, and Prison Abolitionist Practices”
Trans Vegan Youtubers:
11. Kayla: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahr4MLSVe2c
12. Maya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CovXgAULEEM
13. Sea Sharp’s Poetry Book: “The Swagger of Dorothy Gale & Other Filthy Ways to Strut”: http://swaggerofdorothygale.strikingly.com/
14. Pattrice Jones: “Human Rights are Animal Rights”
15. Food Empowerment Project:
16. Lauren Ornelas: “Food Justice—Farm Worker Rights, Human Rights Abuses, and Food Access Issues” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgxpNWVKqG0