When they snarl, “go back to your own country”, what is the right response?

I have heard the retort, “but this is my country!”

But that is not for me, because this is is distinctly not my country.

Neither is that country—the one I came from.

Nor is this country usually theirs—the instigators'.

Countries are not real, anyway.

What about “the place I came from”? Probably like our firebrand foe, I come from many places. Which one should I go back to?

Perhaps our agitator should confer with the reactionaries of all those places, to determine the best solution, first.

The right response seems to be, “this is not my country, not your country, not a country; and I won't go back, I can't go forward, and neither, in all likelihood, can you; now where shall we go from here?”

Does a new bike have a new-bike smell? Don't know. What it has is a new-bike feel. Awkward new manoeuvres: learning to sit right, setting ride height; Fighting with locks, biting old fingers in new nooks; Chipping nails and clipping them later, like a newbie. Who knew?

Some things I can only express In a language I have forgotten.

Half my mind slips from the hand, Like a fleeting fistful of sand.

South of Fort St. George by the sea, Adyar erodes absentee memory.

A linguistic legacy of Macaulay's colony, Still, English halts Hindu/Hindi hegemony.

How, then, did I forget Tamil, or Telugu, Or, mainly, meri pehli zabaan, Urdu?

[A word from our sponsor:] Some things leave you speechless, But there's Amir Khusrau, for everything else.

A poem: Hello Edward

This week I was invited to recite a poem among a community of Indian progressives, on the theme of resistance. After searching for a poem already written, I decided to scratch an itch and compose something originally.


Recently, the Madras High Court—the highest Court in Tamil Nadu state in India—issued a ruling that rightly garnered a lot of press attention. It pertained to a case involving young LGBT+ people seeking relief from state and familial pressure.

Unusually, the judge embarked on a journey of discovery and overcoming bias in the process, to eventually find in favour of the LGBT+ petitioners, and then issue a wide-ranging ruling that promoted LGBT+ rights in government and society. For that alone, it is a worthwhile case to study.

But the media interpretation of the case has co-opted the narrative in a more sensational direction. And this requires us to be cautious in understanding what has actually happened with the ruling, and what lessons we can draw from overseas.


The New Zealand parliament has been mulling a law change purportedly to benefit trans, non-binary, and intersex people by streamlining the procedure to update one's birth certificate sex marker. However, contrary to popular belief and demand, this change is constructed in a way that would be harmful to some of those people, particularly trans, non-binary, or intersex people of colour. In this post, we will see why the proposed law is racist, and how it might be rectified.


In a new opinion piece on The Spinoff, Max Tweedie questions the Labour government's funding cuts and gaps for rainbow concerns in the latest budget. Tweedie comments that activists have spent limited resources focusing on issues like “a conversion therapy ban” and “self-identification on birth certificates”, but the government should nevertheless increase funding in other areas for rainbow community benefit. These two phenomena — one enhancing state violence with a ban, and another neglecting community improvement in the budget — are presented as if they were disconnected. But they are actually related. Boosting the state's carceral strength through a conversion therapy ban, provides cover for the deterioration of budgetary support for constructive community-building options. Ironically, it is the very efforts of activists, including those who pushed for a conversion therapy ban, that allows the political trade-off we are witnessing to take place.


A question from Sina Brown-Davis on Twitter asks:

This is impossible for an individual to answer. There will be wide-ranging perspectives within the distinctly non-monolithic set of all trans people.

So I can only answer for myself. Here are my responses, which may be a little different to the usual, prevailing narratives.


Recently, near the start of Pride Month 2021 here in Tāmaki Makaurau, I attended a hui hosted by the Department of Internal Affairs and its Office of Ethnic Communities, the first of its kind to focus solely on rainbow ethnic community members.

It was alarming to learn how deceptively the Office sought to approach our rainbow ethnic folks. While they seemed to offer an olive branch and asked to build relationships and bridges for future development, they failed to acknowledge the history of harm (ongoing) towards rainbow ethnic people that they have been complicit in.

And it got worse.


As the new year 2021 began, the NZ COVID-19 group posted a new video on its social media channels, particularly Twitter. The video included flashing images and strobe effects and motion, which could induce seizures, migraines and other adverse reactions. The video was posted without a warning. For safety, the original tweet and the @covid19nz Twitter profile are not directly linked here, but a still-image screenshot is reproduced below:

Screenshot of a tweet by covid19nz, dated 11.55 PM Dec 31 2020, with the text, Thank you for everything [hashtag] team of 5 million and Happy New Year

It is not uncommon for such inaccessible media to appear on the web, but it is interesting that this particular video is published by a government body — an arm of the Ministry of Health, which one might expect would support Disabled people better.

So how bad is it? Why did this happen?

And what did they do after being informed? Why didn't that make things better?