• He can present any of the following as stand-alone lectures or interactive talks.
• Suitable for conferences, classrooms, or public presentations.
• Can be tailored to a general audience or to a specific group with more advanced knowledge of disability, LGBT issues, and/or social justice from an intersectional perspective.
• Designed to range from 30 to 90 minutes.
“....Across the centuries, how many communities have been declared inherently defective by white people, rich people, non-disabled people, men backed by medical, scientific, academic, and state authority? I ask this question rather than answer it, because any list I create will be incomplete. I think of white women suffragettes fighting for the right to vote, declared defective as a way of undercutting their demands; Black people kidnapped from west Africa and enslaved in the Americas, declared defective as a way to justify and strengthen slavery; immigrants at Ellis Island declared defective and refused entry to the US; lesbians and gay men declared defective and given hormones to cure their homosexuality. The list of peoples considered defective keeps growing, the damage deepening.
Defectiveness holds such power because ableism builds and maintains the very notion that defective body-minds are bad, undesirable, disposable. In a world without ableism, defective as it is applied to humans, meaning the “imperfection of a bodily system,” would probably not even exist. But if it did, it would only be a neutral descriptor. However, in today’s world where ableism fundamentally shapes white Western cultural beliefs about normal and abnormal, worthy and unworthy, whole and broken body-minds; any person or community named defective can be targeted without question or hesitation for eradication, imprisonment, institutionalization. The ableist invention of defectiveness unequivocally names many body-minds bad....”
(Read more from "Defective, Deficient, and Burdensome: Thinking about Bad Bodies.")
(Or watch a video (uncaptioned) of Eli giving this talk.)
“As an ideology seeped into every corner of Western thought and culture, cure rides on the back of normal and natural. Insidious and pervasive, it impacts many, many bodies and minds. We need to respond not with a simple or reactive belief system, not with an anti-cure stance in the face of the endless assumptions about body-mind difference, but rather with a broad-based politics of cure mirroring the complexity of all our body-minds. The American Heritage Dictionary defines cure as the “restoration of health.” Springboarding from this definition into a politics of cure, it would be all too easy to get mired in an argument about health, trying to determine who’s healthy and who’s not, as if there’s one objective standard. Instead I want to follow the word restoration. To restore a damaged prairie ecosystem is to return it to an earlier, and often better, state of being....”
(Read more from "Notes on Cure, Disability, and Natural Worlds.")
(Or watch a captioned video of Eli giving this talk.)
“In this room today many of us carry histories of hate violence in our bodies; carry grief, outrage, fear, numbness, disbelief, despair, resistance, a desire for change. As we talk and think together in the next day and a half about hate violence, social justice, and the legacy of Matt Shepard, let us remember that the aftershocks and reverberations of hate and loss have a long half-life. Yes, the topics of this symposium are deeply political, but they are also profoundly tender. We need to be gentle and fierce, hold personal loss as well as social change strategies, make space for fear and grief as well as impassioned politics. We need to remember that some of us live with daily lack of safety, that there is nothing theoretical about the conversations we’re going to be having here. In short the intense histories that accompany hate violence are alive here and now, and not just as stories and events of the past. But before we turn to the harshness and heart break of hate violence, let me begin by invoking hope, because without hope, it’s so easy just to be overwhelmed and despairing....”
(Read more from "Hate Violence, Fierce Love.")
“I come to this gathering thinking about shame—that chasm of loathing lodged in our bodies, a seemingly impenetrable fog, an unspeakable and unspoken fist. Shame all too often becomes our home. This is what I want to talk about, even though it’s one of those topics that makes us restless, uncomfortable, off balance. I could start with the politics of where shame comes from, how violence and media images, stereotypes and lies, weave together to become shame’s fertile ground. I could start with what we tell ourselves about pride, how we pair shame and pride as opposites and act as if there's a distinct passage between the two. I could start with the ways in which trans communities talk around the edges of shame, using the language of body dissonance and gender dysphoria. But this afternoon I want to strike at the center, to talk directly about the raw, overwhelming mess that shame is....”
(Read more from the LBGTQ version of "Resisting Shame, Making Our Bodies Home.")
(Read more from the Trans* specific version of "Resisting Shame, Making Our Bodies Home.")
“Tonight I want to span the distance between disability politics and trans experience. Of course I could start with the substantial presence of disabled folks in trans communities, and by disability I mean cognitive, learning, sensory, and psych disability, as well as physical ones. Or start with the truisms about bringing experiences of multiple oppressions and identities to our work. Or start with the overdue need for accessible spaces, the importance of integrating ableism into our understanding of oppression. But really I want to delve beyond the rhetoric we often don’t pay attention to and think hard about three lessons I’ve learned from the disability activism. The first is about naming; the second, about coming out and disclosure; the third, about living in our familiar, ordinary bodies....”
(Read more from "Trans Communities and Lessons from Disability Activism.")
“….I don’t want to be the token trans person here on stage tonight. I don’t want us to forget that the history of gay, lesbian, and bi peoples is woven with trans and gender variant peoples. I don’t want the T to be simply an afterthought in the alphabet soup. And so I ask you a question, a real question full of fierceness and compassion. Who among us in this room has not broken a gender rule....”
(Read more from "Unhinging Gender from All the Rules.")
“….Let me start with a story. 1969 in the backwoods of Oregon, I started the “regular” first grade after a long struggle between my parents and school officials who wanted me in the “special education” room. When I was two, my parents had taken me to a state-run hospital where a seemingly endless number of doctors, physical therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, and who-knows-who-else put me through a battery of tests, designed, I suppose, to figure out what was “wrong” with me. I didn’t yet talk and so was given an IQ test that relied not on verbal skills but on fine motor coordination. And I, being a spastic little kid with cerebral palsy, failed the test miserably. I simply couldn’t manipulate their blocks, draw their pictures, or put their puzzles together. In the end they diagnosed me as ‘mentally retarded’....”
(Read more from "An End to Ableism in Higher Education.")
“….Sometimes we who are activists and thinkers forget about our bodies, ignore our bodies, or reframe our bodies to fit our theories and political strategies. For several decades now, activists in a variety of social change movements, ranging from black civil rights to women’s liberation, from disability rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans liberation, have said repeatedly that the problems faced by any marginalized group of people lie, not in their bodies, but in the oppression they face. But in defining the external, collective, material nature of social injustice as separate from the body, we have sometimes ended up sidelining the profound relationships that connect our bodies with who we are and how we experience oppression....”
(Read more from "Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies.")
“….How do we make the space to talk honestly and wrenchingly about all the multi-layered systems of injustice that target some of us and privilege others for who we are? The layers are so tangled: gender folds into disability, disability wraps around class, class strains against race, race snarls into sexuality, sexuality hangs onto gender, all of it finally piling into our bodies. I dare say everyone in this room has stories of both oppression and privilege. How do we dig down to find, not uncrackable, unmovable rhetoric, but the concrete daily material, emotional, and spiritual realities of privilege and oppression on this planet rife with injustice....”
(Read more from "Digging Deep.")
“...On one hand, as queers, we are perverse, immoral, depraved, shaped as oversexed child molesters or as invisible creatures, legislated out of existence. And on the other, as crips, we are entirely desexualized or fetishized or viewed as incapable of sexual responsibility. What a confounding maze of lies and stereotypes. We are the wheelchair using fag quad who can’t find a date, the bi woman amputee sought after, pursued, even sometimes stalked, by devotees—those mostly straight men who fetishize amputations—the cognitively disabled dyke who is told in so many ways that she’s simply a sexual risk to herself and the world....”
(Read more from "Sex, Celebration, and Justice.")