Categories
LGBTQ+

Transing Nemo

PinkNews has discovered the latest incarnation of the sinister transgender agenda: we’re turning alligators into gal-igators.

That’s the claim from the anti-trans We Need To Talk group, whose meetings are conducted in great secrecy for fear the wider world would discover how deranged they are. As PN reports:

Elizabeth spoke to the audience about “synthetic hormones” taken by transgender people.

“Another thing that really breaks my kind of heart is oestrogen-ic pollution, which is that because of trans and because of HRT [hormone replacement therapy],” she said.

“We’re peeing a lot of oestrogen, synthetic oestogren [sic] into the water and that’s forcibly ‘trans-ing’ the fish, and that means that crocodiles and alligators are in danger.

“It means fresh water fish are in danger. It means we’re destroying the world partially because of the trans ideology.

The Venn diagram between anti-trans views and dingbat conspiracy theories has a huge overlap. It’s been claimed by people who are allowed to drive cars and operate heavy machinery that trans people are part of an international Jewish conspiracy, that we’re paid stooges of a Big Pharma conspiracy to get girls hooked on testosterone, that we’re soldiers of the Illuminati and so on.

Debunking conspiracy theories is rather like kicking a baby: it’s not a challenge and it isn’t any fun. But here goes. Is trans women’s urine transing Nemo?

First up, the hormones are bio-identical – they’re chemically identical to natural oestrogen. And secondly, if oestrogen is your concern then trans women should be very far down your list.

The last time we had a trans-fish scare, women on The Pill got the blame. If oestrogen is indeed feminising fish, we need to start with the many millions of farm animals on hormones: the annual oestrogen discharge by livestock in the US alone is twice that of humans. Once we’ve solved that, we could look at the 5-plus million women in the UK on hormonal contraception and HRT. Then by all means investigate the urine of a trans population measured in the thousands.

Like so much anti-trans rhetoric, blaming trans women for oestrogen in the water supply is just taking the piss.

Update:

I’m indebted to my friend Lorraine, who found this hilariously appropriate BBC Blue Planet blog:

As the authors of a 2009 scientific paper in the journal Sexual Development noted, “In the popular cartoon movie Finding Nemo, a male anemonefish loses his mate and must struggle alone to raise his offspring Nemo. In real life, Nemo’s father likely would have switched sex following his mate’s death, and then paired with a male.”

Categories
LGBTQ+

The First Time I Saw Me

This, a collaboration between Netflix and GLAAD, is wonderful and joyous.

It’s various trans people – Laura Jane Grace, Jazz Jennings, Jamie Clayton, Tiq Milan and many others – talking about the first time they saw people like them represented on screen.

If you’re straight, white and cisgender (it means “not trans”; I loved the suggestion I saw online that said cis could stand for “comfortable in skin”), you’re on screen all the time: you’re the default, the “normal”. And if you aren’t from that group, you’re often invisible.

Representation matters.

If you don’t see people like you represented in the wider culture, it reinforces the belief that you’re not normal, that there’s something wrong with you. That was certainly the case for me. It’s one of the reasons I blog about being trans: the thought that somewhere there’s a young version of me trying to work out who the hell they are.

Things are getting better. We have trans actors, models, comedians, musicians, journalists (hello!). But they’re still labelled as trans, not just as actors, models, comedians, musicians or journalists. There are no trans judges, MPs or MSPs, no trans newspaper columnists or news anchors – or at least, none that have come out. 

And all too often, trans characters are played in films and TV programmes by cisgender people. As actor Jamie Clayton says in her video, “it perpetuates a stereotype that, at the end of the day, I take this off… [these men] play a character and then they’re given an award but with a beard. And people think, ‘oh, that’s what trans is.'”

To paraphrase Derren Brown, being trans is just a piece of information about someone – and most of the time it’s not even one of the most interesting pieces of information about them. One day, videos like these won’t be necessary.

Categories
LGBTQ+ Media

“There is something even worse than being abused in the street”

Molly Mulready is a mum-of-three, and one of her kids is trans. She writes in The Guardian:

My son, in his distress, helped me realise that there is something even worse than being abused in the street, and that’s being told by strangers you’re not who you know you are, that the truth of you is not acceptable so if you want to be safe – be normal, please.

Being thought of as funny-looking, a weak man or a manly, ugly woman, the titanic social pressure to look your gender, physical discomfort, even pain, are a small price to pay.

A baggy jumper in summer heat, chest binders, hormone blockers, side-effects, surgery; being more likely to attempt suicide, be homeless, be the victim of violent crime, murder, sexual assault.

Certain countries wholly out of bounds, a crime to be you, violence inevitable, media debates that aren’t kind, that make your mother flinch and rush to switch the radio off, change the subject, protect you.

Having to be tolerant of intolerance, taking deep breaths and bracing yourself, standing tall – they don’t know how fast your heart is beating, how much your palms are sweating.

Categories
LGBTQ+

Haters gonna hate

I can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but Rolling Stone’s piece on how the religious right decided to target trans people  as a proxy for everybody they don’t like is a superb piece of journalism.

a small band of well-connected far-right activists was resurrecting an approach from the oldest anti-LGBTQ playbook: to transform the civic debate about homosexuality into a panic about predators. As national activists fretted at the Ritz-Carlton, Houston players had already sketched out a plan to turn voters against nondiscrimination ordinances by framing the debate as one about safety for women and girls.

It’s worth bearing in mind any time you hear somebody parrot their talking points. They’re either malicious or they’re ignorant.

On a related note, the UK government has responded to a bad faith petition about gender recognition act reform with one of the most diplomatically worded “what the fuck is wrong with you people?” replies I’ve ever read.

The LGBT+ Lib Dems Twitter account is becoming quite the wise and witty source of accurate information about all of this stuff.

The best we can work out is that the people doing the protests seem to think that the Gender Recognition Act has some provision that changes how the Equality Act sees you.

But it doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t. They made that up.

On a personal note, this week saw the first time I’d travelled anywhere using my new ID (passport etc) and being me full-time on planes, trains and automobiles. The life of the late-transitioning trans person is probably best illustrated by these two quotes, both from the same night in the same venue:

“Would you like something to drink, madam?”
“It’s through there on your right, sir.”

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Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

Skirting the issue

My friend Chris Phin retweeted this pic of Grayson Perry’s alter-ego Claire earlier.

He commented:

Might it be true to say that people who have a problem with, eg, this are at some level reacting to the idea of _them_ wearing it, whereas I’m just really happy the world contains Claire wearing it. It’s wonderful.

I agree. I’m a big fan of Perry – his book, The Descent of Man, is great – and I love the way Claire’s outfits are closer to the distorted art of Ralph Steadman or Quentin Blake than any kind of everyday clothing. I love the colours, the proportions, the exaggeration. I think Perry/Claire is fascinating and funny and provocative and generally winding up the kind of people who need winding up.

I couldn’t respond properly to Chris’s point earlier because I was in the middle of something that couldn’t wait. But he’s right. There’s a subtext to the horror some people have for a man in a dress.

Here’s why.

Misogyny.

Misogyny is why women still have to fight to get access to essential healthcare, why women in some countries are still campaigning for fundamental human rights and why victims of rape face aggressive questioning in court as newspapers worry about the effect on the rapist’s stellar career.

For example, a few months ago, the BBC aired a phone-in about calls for women-only train carriages, the response to new research showing sexual assaults on women in trains have doubled in five years.

That we’re even discussing segregation as a solution shows just how messed up things are: of course the solution is to stop men from assaulting women in the first place and to severely punish the men who commit such crimes.

But you can’t fix that with extra rolling stock. You need to change the whole culture.

That culture affects trans people too. If you aren’t obviously trans you just get the misogyny. If you’re visibly trans or non-binary you also get some extra fun in the form of homophobia and transphobia. People assigned male at birth get the lion’s share of that because to embrace any kind of femininity is to go against The Natural Order Of Things.

Generally speaking nobody really cares what aisle a woman shops in; terms such as “boyfriend shirt” and “boy shorts” are part of everyday fashion, women cheerfully raiding or getting inspiration from men’s wardrobes for whatever they fancy.

That’s not to say women aren’t judged for their choices or for their bodies and appearance, because of course they are, often harshly and publicly: body shaming and slut shaming are common online and in certain publications too.

But in the west women needn’t fear public opprobrium or physical violence for wearing a man’s shirt.

A man wearing a skirt evokes a very different reaction.

Just look at the way gender-neutral school uniforms are reported in the media: nobody worries about girls in trousers or shorts. The drama’s always. always about the entirely invented prospect of boys being “forced” to wear skirts.

What’s wrong with skirts?

In terms of uniforms, quite a lot. Girls’ school uniforms are less practical than boys’ — climbing trees in a dress or skirt means someone might see your pants, a situation that must be avoided at all costs — and they’re policed in ways boys’ uniforms are not, apparently because boys and men are incapable of learning or teaching if they can see a female knee.

In 2015 one school, Trentham High School in in Stoke-on-Trent, banned skirts altogether on the grounds that they were too distracting to male staff and students. 

Imagine hiring teachers you don’t think can be trusted if young girls’ legs are visible. Imagine thinking the solution to that is to make all girls cover their legs.

It’s not just skirts. In California in 2013, Kenilworth Junior High banned girls from wearing leggings, yoga pants or skinny jeans because “we want to keep the learning environment distraction-free”.

Here are some of the responses to that story on Debate.org, a popular discussion site. ⁠1

I bet you can’t guess which gender the posters are.

You have no idea how it feels, physically and emotionally, to be a young boy surrounded by that which he desperately desires yet forbidden to follow his biologically urgent impulses.

You don’t wear clothing because your looking at them, it’s for people that see you throughout the day. These boys aren’t guilty of anything other then noticing what your advertising. Sham on you for advertising perversion girls!!

Leggings can be a distraction to boys. Educating young people today is difficult enough. Cut down on as many distractions as possible.

Even it is more comfortable to wear it doesn’t matter. What does though is the end result. Fact is when you wear leggings boys will get aroused. It’s not even objectification, it’s just being a teenage boy, your horomones get wild. You put yourself in some revealing “pants” and then say that its the guys fault for being aroused. It’s not, we aren’t the ones objectifying you girls, you’re doing it yourselves.

Get rid of all leggings from public. I am very disturbed of the lack of class women and young women have today. I guess modesty is a thing of the past. I’m tired of the “norm” being clothes that suck up into parts that should be kept private. Don’t get me started on what it looks like when they bend over. The bigger the body parts the less the fabric can cover it can only stretch so far. I feel like these women/young women are walking around naked with a thin layer of paint on.

Young men like looking at women’s butts, especially when they are wearing tight and revealing clothing. Anyone who thinks a young man will be respectful and not be affected by this is kidding themselves or childishly naive. If women really don’t want to be sexually objectified, they should know better than to wear such clothing around large groups of young men. This is the type of common sense people have had for generations and is somehow deteriorating in this country.

Gilrs (sic) wear what they wear, to a degree, for attention. They secretly love the attention, they just don’t want to be objectified….Also they don’t like it when guys whom they deem as “creeps” and “pervs” are noticing them. Guess what girls? Youre in public, theres no filter on who does and does not see you… Girls saying boys are the problem for looking is ridiculous. You walk around wearing something that reveals bodily form what do you expect?

There are many, many more in a similar vein.

The reason some people fear boys being “forced” into skirts is because they have beliefs very similar to the ones above: girls exist solely for the enjoyment of men, and their clothes advertise their sexual availability. A boy in a skirt would be sending the same messages. 

And that’s what a lot of the outrage boils down to. We don’t want boys to be treated like girls, because we all know how badly girls are treated.

anImage_2.tiff

1 http://www.debate.org/opinions/california-school-bans-leggings-should-this-be-the-norm

Categories
LGBTQ+ Media

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

30 years ago today, Section 28 (Section 2A in Scotland) was introduced to ban the “promotion” of gay and lesbian “lifestyles” in schools to protect children from the entirely invented dangers of gay and lesbian people. It wasn’t repealed until 2003 in England and Wales, although Scotland canned it in 2001.

I was 15 when Section 28 was passed. It was an era of vicious anti-gay bullying, encouraged by vicious anti-gay propaganda in mainstream newspapers. AIDS was “the gay plague” and a book with two gay dads, “Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin” was denounced as “vile”, “perverted” and a threat to children by multiple newspapers.

Piers Morgan monetised homophobia by writing about “The Poofs Of Pop”, and The Sun’s headline about the first gay kiss on the soap opera EastEnders was “EASTBENDERS”. The accompanying story described “a homosexual love scene between yuppie poofs… when millions of children were watching.”

The barrage of bigotry had a terrible effect. Social Attitudes Surveys of the time saw anti-gay sentiment, already high, rise during this period: the percentage of people who believed same-sex activity was “always or mostly wrong” was nearly 80% in both the US and the UK.

National newspapers frequently ran homophobic front page stories. The “Keep the clause” anti-repeal campaign was particularly vicious.

The period leading up to the repeal of Section 28/Clause 2A was particularly unpleasant in Scotland, with billboards and newspaper articles urging us to keep the clause to protect our children.

Won’t somebody think of the children?
We’re not homophobic. We just have genuine concerns.

History repeats.

Where Richard Littlejohn used to write about “the government’s determination to lower the age at which schoolboys can be sodomised”; he now rails against the supposed evils of trans people.

Many other columnists who once railed against gay people now battle “Transgenderism” and the “sinister transgender agenda”.

Innocuous kids’ books such as “Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity?” have been slammed by the likes of the Mail on Sunday, Lord Tebbit and Sarah Vine (“We are threatening the sanity of – and yes I’m going to say it – normal children”).

Piers Morgan monetises transphobia on TV.

Social attitudes surveys show that after years of gradual improvements, anti-LGBT sentiment is on the rise.

History is supposed to be a warning, not a how-to guide.

Update:

The ever-excellent Another Angry Woman is thinking what I’m thinking. And Stonewall’s Ruth Hunt draws parallels in The Independent.

Categories
LGBTQ+ Media

“That’s not how it works”

James Kirkup of The Spectator has written many articles that unquestionably parrot the propaganda of anti-trans bigots, but he reached a new low this week with the story of sniggering arsehole David Lewis.

Lewis is – or rather, was; Labour suspended him for, well, being a sniggering arsehole – standing for election as a women’s officer in his local Labour Party. Hilariously, he says he identifies as a woman “on Wednesdays, between 6.50am when my alarm goes off and around midnight when I go to bed.”

Lewis’s motive (other than look-at-me self-publicity) was to raise awareness of, you’ve guessed it, the sinister trans agenda. Unfortunately by setting out to prove how easy it is to abuse the system, he ended up demonstrating that it isn’t easy to abuse the system. This is what the internet calls a self-own.

In The Guardian, James Morton wrote a thoughtful response to the stunt.

Self-declaration is not a frivolous process. Making a false statutory declaration is a serious crime of perjury. Evidence of malicious intent, whether it be to invade women’s safe spaces or to try to make a mockery of the very real struggles that trans people face to live their lives as who they are, could rightfully lead to severe penalties including up to two years in prison.

Anti-trans campaigners who treat this process as if they can just wake up one morning and say they are a woman or a man and change nothing else about their lives are mocking not only trans people but the concept of identity itself. Identity is not some random feeling we have just on Wednesdays or Fridays, but our deeply held sense of ourselves and how we fit into the world.

…Puerile stunts, deliberate misgendering and hateful comparisons to parasites and paedophiles is not constructive discussion.

The good news is that, like shouting “penis” during televised debates, these stunts tend to backfire terribly. The vocal activism of anti-trans activists within Labour (many of whom are currently being suspended from Twitter for repeated acts of hateful and harassing conduct) has led Labour to double down on its support for trans people. On the left, some of the most radical voices are standing alongside trans people and arguing that it’s the anti-trans crowd who are hateful and dangerous. On the right, Theresa May has reaffirmed her support for Gender Recognition Act reform: “being trans is not an illness and it shouldn’t be treated as such.”

And it isn’t a lifestyle choice, either. I didn’t choose to be trans, but you can choose whether you want to treat trans people with basic human dignity or be like Kirkup and Lewis. One day even they’ll see sense:

Categories
LGBTQ+

This is what self-ID is all about

I got a message from my lawyer today: my divorce paperwork has been curtly rejected by the relevant court because the introductory page uses the pronoun “she” to describe me; the court wants it to be “he”. This is despite the accompanying evidence of my name change in the form of my amended birth certificate, deed poll and so on.

So I have a choice: change two words and resubmit the paperwork, adding a bit more cost and a bit more time to a process that already takes too long and costs too much.

Or I can provide a Gender Recognition Certificate and leave the filing as-is.

Except I can’t. Despite living full time as me, having an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria and undergoing supervised medical treatment, I can’t apply for a GRC for at least another year – and when I do, I’ll have to pay £140 for the application and various other fees to get the necessary evidence from my GP and the gender clinic. As I’m sure you know from painful experience, doctors’ letters don’t come for free.

And the panel may decide to reject my application anyway. There’s no right of appeal, and no guarantee that your application will be granted even if you cross every T and dot every I. If the panel says no you need to go through the whole process all over again.

This is what the proposed move to self-declaration of gender (and the actual move to self-declaration that has already happened in many countries) is designed to address.

It’s important to reiterate this: self-ID is purely about paperwork. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether I can use the ladies’ (I already do), whether the gender marker for me on my passport or on the NHS computer says “F” (it already does), whether I’d be sent to a female prison if I turned into an axe murderer (I probably would, but these things are assessed on a case by case basis).

It’s about paperwork.

It’s about being able to get the Royal Bank of Scotland to change the gender marker on my bank accounts, something that to date has taken seven months and is still ongoing. It’s about having a little bit of paper that tells a court clerk that I don’t have the same name and pronouns I was given at birth. It’s about removing cost and complexity that doesn’t need to be there and making the world a little bit less shitty.

If you’d like to know more about the issue, Stonewall has a good explainer here.

Categories
Health LGBTQ+

Promises we can’t keep

I blogged a few days ago about the problem with mental health services: it’s all very well to urge people to get help, but the help needs to be there for them.

This excellent piece by Vic Parsons explains how the system is failing many LGBT people.

People are still being left in limbo, on waiting lists, for more than two years – largely because of the tiny pool of resources.

I live in Scotland, where the NHS is considerably less beleaguered than it is in the rest of the UK: there are fewer people in the whole of Scotland than there are in London, and as a result our services are under considerably less pressure. But even then things move glacially slowly.

I had an initial assessment for counselling services yesterday, some 19 months after I first self-referred to the Gender Identity Service (in Scotland you don’t need to go through a GP to access such services). The counsellor felt I’d benefit from six sessions or so, and put me into the system. I can expect my first appointment approximately nine months from now.

That’s February 2019, from a referral in October 2016.

I’m not in crisis. I’ve already had private counselling that I found very helpful; counselling I was fortunate enough to be able to afford. And I’m currently being treated via a private GP, again because I’m fortunate enough to be able to pay for it. But a system that effectively forces people to go private or go without treatment is a system that’s broken. It’s particularly bad for trans / NB people, but it’s bad for everybody.

As Vic Parsons writes:

I know that I can wait for that appointment. But what if I was a teenager, young and alone and afraid?

Categories
LGBTQ+

White van, tran

When I came out as trans, I joked that I did it because I wanted to get yelled at in the street by people in vans. But until last night on the way to the pub, it had never actually happened to me.