Hatfield System (we/our)

The Hatfield System is a group of individuals living in a single body. We really love working with others and dreaming to create a better world, as well as geeking out about unusual things like anime/manga, pinball, reading, horror and luchador films, and all sorts of music (especially folk or prog. rock and world music). We enjoy learning new things and writing which is a major passion we all have. We also love mediation especially with incense or a candle or breathing with the earth, as well as having unusual and fantastical dreams.

Reclaim UGLY is an organization that mirrors our dreams for a more inclusive world, and healthy organizing. Not to put down other organizations, but when we started organizing and activism, we didn’t really feel included, affirmed, or supported by others the way we should. These organizations didn’t treat us as individuals, but as a form of non-compensated labour relying on our commitment to the work, rather than a commitment to us or healthy activism. When we pushed disability-based activism and our identity as disabled people we were constantly met with push back in these organizations. It wasn’t until we formed our own disability-based organization with other amazing disabled people that we got to experience an organization that practiced healthy activism, and where we felt valued for who we are. Reclaim UGLY is one of the few organizations that shares these values and dreams with us for a better world and the kind of activism centered around individual needs with love, support, and affirmation. It has big dreams of creating a world designed for the needs of all people, but also centers the needs of individuals and rest.

As people who have been writing grants and teaching grant writing for a long time, we have brought our experience and skills to Reclaim UGLY. Grant writing has an extremely specific and important format, and it is important for that reason to have grant writers who understand the format. Grant writing is also incredibly challenging because it is about conveying a lot of information in way that isn’t boring, and is also selling an organization’s work to as many granters as possible using specific topic-based language. As a system with experience writing non-profit grants, we are always excited to bring these skills to Reclaim UGLY, and help it reach its big dreams so that it can do even more great work while compensating all who are involved.

Another big part of the work we do at Reclaim UGLY is based around Disability Justice. As disabled people and cofounders of a Disability Justice organization bringing those experiences and our passion for Disability Justice into our work is important to us. Many other organizations where we have tried to bring in this work have pushed it aside and refused to acknowledge our accessibility needs, but this isn’t the case with Reclaim UGLY. Reclaim UGLY works with an incredible group of disabled peoples to ensure that accessibility and Disability Justice is a priority. It always excites us to be involved in engaging work based around Disability Justice and creating a better world for disabled people where we are affirmed and supported, rather than being shunned, or seen as lesser. 

The work that we do in the Los Angeles Spoonie Collection is always something we love highlighting. We do so much in the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective. Our work includes presentations, panels, and workshops dedicated to Disability Justice, by and for the disabled community primarily, in the Los Angeles Area. We also have been working hard on partnering ourselves with the Trans Latina Coalition for our Limitless Letters program which we hope to launch soon. This is a project we have been working on for more then a year and is focused on creating a pen pal program between disabled and incarcerated transgender peoples to reduce the isolation each community faces, and as a means of better protecting incarcerated trans communities.

We are also roving librarians for the Los Angeles Public Library. By serving the community to the best of our abilities, and just by being visible as an openly transgender and disabled librarian we have a huge impact on the communities we work at. Libraries still have a long way to go toward equity or input from oppressed and unrepresented communities, but they are increasingly becoming more diverse places that serve more and more of the community. Libraries provide so many things including: programs for all age groups and communities, places for communities to share, all sorts of resources (physical, classes, and electronic), computers and internet access for those who need it, and all sorts of books, DVDs, and music recordings. Many people think libraries are outdated, and that librarians just read all day, but this is so far from the truth. Being a librarian is about serving the community, and creating, listening, and preparing a space for community.

Uglification affects us on so many levels. The first level that it affects us in on the physical. As transgender women we are marked by many as lesser, undesirable, and ugly. As result we have had to deal with so many subtle and not subtle forms of abuse. We have had to deal with harassment (especially earlier in our transition), being turned down for jobs and job promotions (even those we were more than qualified for), bullying (in person and online), transphobia and misgendering, inappropriate questions related to our body, and being left out of many groups. Being transgender has affected our entire life, and also has meant having to fight so much harder for everything we want and need. We can’t begin to tell you have many times we’ve been told to “wait your turn” for basic rights or support, to toughen up, and have had our identity used as a political material for politicians questioning our very right to exist.

The second layer of Uglification comes when we talk about who we are as people. In almost every group where we have been in and talked about how we are multiples and disabled there is initially a painfully long pause, followed by many attempts to avoid talking about our identities. When we mention having mental and physical disabilities such as being neurodiverse, having anxiety/depression, having motor and spatial disabilities, dissociating, chronic exhaustion, or being part of system, we are almost always immediately met with judgement. Most people have so many assumptions about disabled people, including that they are always unstable, dangerous, that they all can’t work or aren’t really disabled and just lazy, and can’t have personal autonomy or function without massive amounts of help. These people often feel that communicating, affirming, or accommodating disabled people is too difficult, and would rather isolate them or avoid the topic instead of being affirming or supportive. These people see us being open about being disabled as an ugly thing.

Being asexual is also a factor that often makes others see us as lesser and changes how others view us. Asexual people are often branded as confused, and/or undesired just because they don’t enjoy sex. It took us a long time to feel comfortable claiming that we are entirely asexual because there is so much judgement of those that don’t engage in sexualized culture and experiences, especially in Los Angeles.  The idea of us not being interested in sex often labels us as dull, uptight, and prudish. Many people can’t see past the idea that we aren’t interested in sex and people not wanting sex as broken. Many people go out of their way to exclude us, directly and indirectly, as ugly for how we look and who we are.

Reclaiming ugly for us means putting our needs first while making sure we are supporting and affirming others. If we need a rest, we take a rest, if we need to not go out or go to meeting on a day, we let people know but also don’t do it, if we need to see a movie, we take time to see that movie etc. Up until the end of graduate school we spent so much time trying to please others and get them to like us. We would go to parties even though we hated parties and they exhausted us, we would isolate and read alone so that others didn’t have to know about us, we would take up as much work as possible just to please others, we would engage in unpaid activism as much as possible and would center others at the expense of ourselves all the time. In graduate school this practice became unsustainable, and we got burnt out. We learned the hard way through working with other organizations and school commitments that this wasn’t a good means of supporting ourselves or others especially as disabled people.

It became clear to us that our life wasn’t balanced, and that we needed to make time for ourselves. Despite already having few friends and little community we realized that we needed to choose friends more carefully and build a community that valued us for who we are. We came to realize that taking time for ourselves and asking for compensation for our time wasn’t selfish, but in reality, was healthy and important to feeling good about who we are and what we do. If someone didn’t like who we are, expected us to do all the friendship/relationship work, or had unfair and ableist expectations, they weren’t worth investing in. While this has made our community and friends group even smaller it also has meant that it has made it a group we can trust to love, support, and affirm us and our needs. It has also allowed us to get the time to reflect on who we are, what we need, and what brings us joy, something that for a large part of our life we were lacking. To love ourselves we needed to get to know ourselves, balance ourselves, and value ourselves as important.

We’re huge movie watchers, anime viewers, and book readers so we’ve run into so many works that we have found as meaningful to us on direct and indirect levels. The Tao Te Ching is one work that was incredibly important to us. It helped us find and understand the importance of balance in our lives, and to envision a more inclusive world. Wandering Son and the novel George has also been especially important for us in finding an affirming narrative about growing up as transgender and finding affirmation in ourselves. Poetry has also played a great role in our lives. We are huge fans of classical Haiku poetry, the works of Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde, and have always loved the surreal poems of Wallace Stevens, Poe, and Charles Baudelaire. YouTube also has had many supportive and great people on it we love to watch. We’re especially excited to have recently found the channel of South Korean Transgender Activist Pani whose translated videos are amazing!

Zines have also played such a huge role in our life, particularly the zines of our friends such as Lilac Vylette Maldonado and Laurent Corralez. Zines share so much about identity and community, and we have found they are some of the greatest tools for self-love and pushing to create a world filled with possibility. We really love zines that tell someone’s story and where people are willing to share themselves with others. We also have loved being able to share our stories and selves with others so that they can better get to know us and see us as individuals rather than a single body. In many ways we can relate to zines and individual stories more then any other works because they reflect our own lives, interests, and struggles so clearly and transparently. Many people will put things in zines that they would be unlikely to share anywhere else, and we’re extremely thankful to have a chance to share in those dreams and narratives.