Dean Spade, Hope Dector & Reina Gossett

Queer Liberation: No Prisons, No Borders

A crash-course in pre-figurative, radical, queer, anti-racist, anti-police, anti-prison, anti-deportation abolitionist politics and trans-resistance. 

20 short videos, screening on a loop in the mezzanine above Tramway's Box Office.

Dean, Hope and Reina have made six series of videos, which generatively offer a crash-course in pre-figurative, radical, queer, anti-racist, anti-police, anti-prison, anti-deportation abolitionist politics and trans-resistance.  They clearly set out how we should reject any proposals to ‘save’ communities by reforming or enhancing systems - whether the police, prisons or borders - that are actually the primary predators on and cause the most harm to those communities. Instead, they explore practical, imaginative everyday practices of bringing about an entirely different world.

The videos were produced through the Barnard Centre for Research on Women, where Hope is the Creative Director, Dean and Reina are Activist Fellows, (and where Che Gossett is the Community Archivist). 


Reina Gossett

One of our closest allies, Reina is an activist, writer, and filmmaker.  Along with Sasha Wortzel, Reina wrote, directed and produced Happy Birthday, Marsha!, a short film about legendary trans activist Marsha P. Johnson. She has produced and directed teaching tools used to spotlight the ways oppressed people are fighting back, surviving and building strong communities in the face of enormous violence, and along with Eric A Stanley and Johanna Burton is editing the forthcoming New Museum anthology on trans art and cultural production. Reina has worked for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Queers for Economic Justice and Critical Resistance, lifting the voice and power of trans and gender nonconforming people. She led the successful campaign to end healthcare discrimination against low income trans and gender non conforming New Yorkers, and organised with low income LGBTGNC New Yorkers in a campaign that successfully stopped the building of a new $375 million jail.

Dean Spade

We think that Dean’s speaking, organising and writing - inc. his book Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law - is vital to international critical trans-resistance. In 2002, Dean founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming people who are low-income and/or people of colour. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender nonconforming people of colour. Dean is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements, and has taught classes related to sexual orientation and gender identity law and law and social movements at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School.


Series - Queer Liberation: No Prisons, No Borders

Video by Dean Spade and Hope Dector.

Featuring Reina Gossett, Angélica Cházaro, CeCe McDonald, and Dean Spade. With art by Micah Bazant, Roan Boucher, Julio Salgado, Rommy Torrico, and Zuleica Zepeda. This video examines the connections being made in queer and trans anti-police, anti-prison and anti-deportation activism. Reina Gossett, CeCe McDonald, Angélica Cházaro and Dean Spade explore the problems with reforms to criminal and immigration systems that are framed around providing relief to the "deserving" while strengthening enforcement against those cast as "undeserving." Angélica Cházaro describes movement strategy focused not on gaining lawful status for more immigrants, but instead on reducing the relevance of status to life necessities like education, health care, ID, and employment.

Series - Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues: Lessons from Anti-violence Movements

Videos by Dean Spade and Hope Dector.

In October 2013, BCRW and The Engaging Tradition Project at The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School co-convened a conference called Queer Dreams and Non-Profit blues to examine the critiques emerging from queer and feminist activists and scholars about the impact of funding on social movement agendas and formations. During the conference, Hope Dector from BCRW and Dean Spade from The Engaging Tradition Project conducted interviews with many of the speakers about their analysis and strategies related to the conference themes. These interviews were edited into 30 short videos that aim to bring these critical perspectives into an accessible format for use in activist spaces and classrooms. These videos highlight the type of knowledge production that is possible when the boundaries between activism and the academy are actively traversed. These videos are included in The Scholar & Feminist Online issue 12.1-12.2, "Activism and the Academy"

Videos in this series

·      More Laws = More Violence: Criminalization as a Failed Strategy for Anti-Violence Movements - Featuring Angélica Cházaro, Shira Hassan, Soniya Munshi, Andrea Ritchie, Andrea Smith, and Dean Spade.

·      After Nonprofitization: Reevaluating Anti-Violence Strategies - Featuring Shira Hassan, Soniya Munshi, Andrea Ritchie, Andrea Smith, and Dean Spade.

·      What are Alternatives to Nonprofitization and Criminalization for Anti-Violence Movements? - Featuring Shira Hassan, Soniya Munshi, Andrea Smith, and Dean Spade.

Series - Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues: Understanding the Nonprofit Industrial Complex

Videos by Dean Spade and Hope Dector.

In October 2013, BCRW and The Engaging Tradition Project at The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School co-convened a conference called Queer Dreams and Non-Profit blues to examine the critiques emerging from queer and feminist activists and scholars about the impact of funding on social movement agendas and formations. During the conference, Hope Dector from BCRW and Dean Spade from The Engaging Tradition Project conducted interviews with many of the speakers about their analysis and strategies related to the conference themes. These interviews were edited into 30 short videos that aim to bring these critical perspectives into an accessible format for use in activist spaces and classrooms. These videos highlight the type of knowledge production that is possible when the boundaries between activism and the academy are actively traversed. These videos are included in The Scholar & Feminist Online issue 13.2, "Navigating Neoliberalism in the Academy, Nonprofits, and Beyond"

Videos in this series

·      Queer Dreams Part 1: What are We Fighting For? - Featuring N'Tanya Lee, Dean Spade, Trishala Deb, Reina Gossett, and Kenyon Farrow.

·      Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 2: How Do Rich People Control Our Movements? - Featuring Urvashi Vaid, Dean Spade, and Christine Ahn.

·      Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 3: The Nonprofit Hamster Wheel - Featuring Urvashi Vaid, Craig Willse, Andrea Ritchie, Amber Hollibaugh, and Shira Hassan.

·      Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 4: Who’s in Charge? - Featuring N'Tanya Lee, Urvashi Vaid, Jason Walker, Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Craig Willse, Dean Spade, and Imani Henry.

·      Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 5: Basebuilding - Featuring Dean Spade, N'Tanya Lee, and Amber Hollibaugh.

·      Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 6: Where Do We Go From Here? - Featuring Andrea Ritchie, Dean Spade, Craig Willse, and Amber Hollibaugh.

Series - “I Use My Love to Guide Me”: Surviving and Thriving in the Face of Impossible Situations

Videos by Reina Gossett, Dean Spade, and Hope Dector.

In 2011, CeCe McDonald and her friends were attacked by a group of white people shouting racist and transphobic slurs. When CeCe stabbed one of their attackers in self defense, she was arrested and imprisoned for 19 months. During that time, CeCe's evocative and thoughtful writing inspired an international community of activists to support the campaign to Free CeCe and to advance the broader movement for prison abolition. In February 2014, one month after her release from prison, CeCe joined prison abolition activists Reina Gossett and Dean Spade in a conversation about her own experiences surviving trauma and impossible situations, and the importance of love and collective organizing for people facing systems of violence.

Videos in this series

·      Police + Prisons Don’t Keep Us Safe - We Keep Each Other Safe

·      I Use My Love to Guide Me

·      Prisons Aren’t Safe for Anybody

·      Fighting the Isolation and Dehumanization of Prisons and Policing

Series - No One is Disposable: Everyday Practices of Prison Abolition

Videos by Reina Gossett, Dean Spade, and Hope Dector.

In a series of four short online videos produced by BCRW, activists Reina Gossett and Dean Spade discuss prison abolition as a political framework, exploring why this is a top issue for those committed to supporting trans and gender-nonconforming people. These videos look at how to build societies where the process of creating justice is as important as the end—communities where no one is exiled.

Videos in this series

·      Part 1: Prison Abolition + Prefiguring the World You Want to Live In

·      Part 2: Practicing Prison Abolition Everyday

·      Part 3: What About the Dangerous People

·      Part 4: Gun Control + Producing Dangerousness

Reina Gossett and Dean Spade: Imagining Justice Beyond the State

On February 7, 2014, Reina Gossett and Dean Spade participated in a Google Hangout co-sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, to answer questions about prison abolition and its intersections with queer and trans movements. In this excerpt, Reina and Dean address questions about a vision of justice beyond the state.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project Teach-In at OWS

Artist and activist Reina Gossett discusses the strong legacy of trans, queer, and gender nonconforming communities in activist movements at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project teach-in at Occupy Wall Street. Filmed in Fall 2011 by Jonah Groeneboer, with MPA. Edited by BCRW and included in The Scholar & Feminist Online issue 12.1-12.2: "Activism and the Academy": sfonline.barnard.edu/activism-and-the-academy/