Sex Ed and Jazz Jennings

That title actually makes sense, just keep with me here.

I’ve just been watching the latest crap floating round this country, the UK, Northern Ireland, and other places and I’ve got to say something.

SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!

That feels better.

For the more articulate point.

These people are supposedly all about protecting families, especially children.  Yet they are bound and determined to kill … untold hundreds, thousands, millions? of them.  And I wish it were hyperbole, but it’s not.  Literal death by violent attack, by suicide, or figurative death of spirit.

LGBTQIA… I think the Tumblr crowd has it up to 47 letters borrowing from Icelandic and Cyrillic these days, but these kids need to know what’s up.

Pre-school, kindergarden … as early as possible.  I Am Jazz needs to be part of elementary curriculums and in every library across the world.  There needs to be sexuality ones too, frankly.

Kids need to know that a transgender person isn’t this:

4402248-terrycrews-2015

But rather, is this: 

That the little boys don’t have to date/marry the little girls, and vice versa.

Kids are neither blank slates, nor do they exist and grow up in a vacuum, in a bubble, unless you force them into it (citation: look up the history of David Willis sometime … simple version:  Joyce is, basically, him).  They’ll have heard of homosexuality and transsexualism.  And some visions are more hurtful than others.

Imagine, if you will, a child who knows there are “men” who “want to be women” who “get it cut off” … but that’s it.  That’s all she knows of the medical advances of transgender treatment.  Now, when she’s 8 and the fact that she has testes is starting to withdraw her into clinical degrees of shyness and self-consciousness she doesn’t know that, really, yes, she could be the girl she is and isn’t forced to be a boy.  If she doesn’t know this, then she grows up, puberty has it’s horrible way, and … well this story can go one of two ways.  For me, not so badly.  I was blessed to look so feminine that even when I was trying so desperately to be male that I grew a big bloody Grizzly Freaking Adams beard people did double-takes when they’d see me in the men’s room but no one has ever given me a second glance in the ladies’.  Or there are those for whom a mix of financial woes and biological ones … look a bit more like Martin dressed up as Shanaynay (hey, I grew up in the 80s and 90s and haven’t really watched much TV since 2002, what did you expect for a reference?).

Lesbian and gay … life’s getting better.  Not great, no, but better for them.  It’s no longer Hollywood Montrose everywhere you look for gay and lesbians are nowhere to be seen.  Bi … somehow bi confuses some people, but all of the bi people I know seem to have a firm enough grasp on it I honestly don’t know if from their point of view it was bad and isn’t that people, in looking around for something to put down, haven’t started making it bad for them.  I’ll leave this one alone because I can’t make heads nor tails out of what the hell happened with bi, or if it’s just another place where I’ve always lived in remarkably accepting circles.

Seriously, kids need to know this is okay.  Because we’ve been doing the opposite for a long time and these kids suffer for it.  The transkids … let’s just think of those statistics.  Too many Leelah Alcorns.  Kids need to know that, if they’re not feeling anything whatsoever for the opposite sex and are noticing how attractive their own sex is … this is a Thing and it’s not a Bad Thing and that maybe they shouldn’t try to force themselves into a relationship or a life of loneliness over it.

Seriously.  Don’t come around talking about the sanctity of the family, and protecting children and all that other complete and total bullshit that every last one of these psychopathic, sociopathic, deranged assholes start spouting every time this matter comes up when you’re encouraging the kinds of environments that drive these kids to suicide, to madness, to self-hatred, and more.  Don’t talk that kind of idiocy while applauding parents who disown their children.  Don’t stick up for “morally righteous families” like the bloody Duggars.

These kids need to know about the world around them.  The real world around them.  They need protected, not … not whatever you call nearly a dozen US states suing President Obama and the Department of Education over their transgender guidance.  Of states that ban discussion of LGB+ matters even in secondary school.  Well, honestly, most of those states support “abstinence only sex ed” which has its own laundry list of stupidity.

In case it isn’t abundantly clear by this point, this is something I’m a bit passionate about.  It’s a place where I’m looking around at my country, and at the world, being complete twats about something that shouldn’t be any sort of issue or controversy except that some loud mouthed jerks seem to get their flippin’ jollies off by finding someone they can get away with making the lives of miserable, by oppression if preference is offered.

Would I feel this way if I were neither lesbian nor trans?  YES, I’m pretty well positive I would given that I felt this way even when I didn’t understand that I was … I mean when you spend the better part of three decades convinced you’re a straight man you maybe get a broader perspective on your own “what if” scenarios.  I was as impassioned about it then as now, just with less … insight … given my own determined efforts to avoid seeing it on a personal level.  But that too.  How common was, and all too often still is, the story of someone not realising their gender or sexuality until adulthood?  Until failed marriages and a life of serious depression?  Thankfully less and less.  The world is blessedly shifting toward a higher balance of Jazz Jennginses than Caitlyn Jenners.

Yeah, people are possibly going to want to say something harsh about “passing privilege”.  All I’ll say about it is:  yes it’s a matter now thanks to idiotic nonsense like HB2 in North Carolina, but by and large it’s something that just has to be considered moot.  If someone with a full face of beard, wearing jeans and a flannel, can stand in the gents’ and have guys walk in and double check the door to make sure they went into the right one … it’s no use.  Someone is going to mistake Barbie for a man and Thor for a woman because there’s just no telling what criterion people are going to use to decide a person’s gender visually.  There are cis women with beards, and cis men with breasts.  It happens.  Yeah, it definitely makes life easier when people are less inclined to get it wrong, believe me, I understand and know that.  But let’s stop talking about “passing privilege” and maybe focus on understanding and acceptance altogether from BOTH sides.  There are, after all, some gender non-conforming people who bend gender to a breaking point and while that’s fine, let’s try to remember that you’re going to confuse people – give them a break – just as they should at least be civil enough not to start beating the shit out of you and screaming just because there’s a person in the ladies’ with facial hair doing nothing more than washing her hands.

I’m going to be late for work if I don’t force myself to stop venting and get dressed.

Ta

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The Ultimate Mary Sue Test

I got to seriously thinking about some of the discussions around the internet about this movie character is or isn’t a Mary Sue, or this TV character, or this, or that, etc.

A pattern emerged quickly among the discussions that, according to these conversations, makes a Mary Sue test exceedingly short and simple.  So I present one.

The Test

Instructions:  keep 2 columns of tallies for answer a or answer b.

1) What is the character’s gender identity?

a) Male
b) Female

2) Is the character competent in more than 1 thing not traditionally a feminine role/activity/interest?

a) No
b) Yes

3) Is the character attractive?

a) No
b) Yes

Time to tally up!

Continue reading

“The New Civil Rights Frontier”

I’ve been thinking very hard about something recently.

Time magazine has been receiving a lot of flak for calling trans the next civil rights frontier of America.  Even I criticised this on my Facebook page.  But while there were numerous other reasons to criticise the article, I believe this is one thing it was dead right on; albeit I think it’s the new worldwide issue, not just America.  There may be legal recognition of 3-5 genders in parts of former Persia and in India and Thailand might have no problem with its ladyboys (hey, literal translation and one that those ladies who speak English from there prefer or don’t mind), but by and large it’s a struggle abroad, too.

Thing is, the criticism is that it makes it seem like the fight is over for women, for races, for homosexuals.  It’s not, no, but the battle there has evolved and has momentum; it ain’t won, but it’s a matter of time, winning is becoming inevitable.  Trans is sort of the new kid, our battles began … when would you like to say?  With the fops and dandies of a bygone era?  With the 20th century?  Somewhere in the 19th?  History is fun that way, depending how you want to interpret a question the answer could actually be since before we came down from the trees.

I was thinking about this because I wondered why so many of the things lately I’ve been seeing, sharing, talking about, etc. have been trans-rights.  I realised because it is the new war for equality.  Trans has had it’s battles, its skirmishes, but that was the underground, viva la resistance!  Now it’s armies at war, now it’s faces like the young Jazz or the beautiful and talented Laverne Cox, now it’s something that is in the news every freaking day in some fashion or another.  Now it’s on the cover of Time Magazine!  Racial equality, women’s rights, gay rights?  These have fought those battles.  Kirk & Uhura kissed on national TV.  Babylon 5 had a woman pope and president to say nothing of the force of nature which was Ivanova!  Will & Grace?

Legally these wars are won.  Note, though, I said legally.  The need for an equal pay act isn’t a question of legal victory, it’s the get legal protection from a social ill.  It’d be a legal victory if there was a law specifying women earn less than men; it’s a form of the Affirmative Action laws which made it law that society give blacks a chance so that they could take advantage of the elimination of the laws that kept them in second class status.  Gay marriage is a legal win, and one that 20 of 50 states have been won in!  Numerous countries have bowed out of that war and homosexuals have their rights — other fronts are still a bloody and brutal battle; some parts of the Middle-East, for example.

To say that transgender isn’t the new fight, isn’t the new war, isn’t the new frontier isn’t to invalidate the fighting for it that has already happened, nor does it say word one to deny that other civil rights battles haven’t and aren’t still in process of being fought.  It just says that the battles are big, public, and people are actually aware of them now.  More importantly the fights are being won!  Before the fights were more to do with small measures of acceptance from this employer, from that family member, from this friend … now bottom surgery is slowly disappearing from the laws governing changing the gender on ID; now little by little gender-identity is being specified as a protected status – and if you think that isn’t important, talk to a homeless transgender person who can’t get even a job at McDonald’s and who has been denied housing, has been turned away from shelters … except maybe you can’t because odds are now the poor woman or man is dead, murdered for being who he or she is and in a few too many cases it was discovered because as ever when a group is marginalised so thoroughly — they turned to prostitution, and unless whoring is legal with nice safe and clean brothels to work in … well … not a happy scene.

I believe wholly that all people regardless race, religion, gender, sex, orientation, etc. are people.  Some people are good, some are bad, some contribute better to society than others — but that’s because of who they are, not what they are.  Catholics can be amazing people or utter twats; I’ve known Asians that were the most fantastic people you’ll ever meet and others who were the most hateful and horrible people; same with gay, trans, men/women/other … truly it matters not because labels don’t make someone bad or good, they just help us communicate things like “she prefers the ladies”, “he has a kind of reddish tint to his skin” and so on; our actions and our words make us good or bad people that’s what makes us “oh, he is such a saint!” or “God, she was Satan in her past life”.

So I suppose the answer to why I’ve shared so much related to trans is simply that besides the latest news on the latest fight won, the war for gay equality and the fight for women’s equality and the fight for racial equality … no, they’re not over, but they’re not news!  We all know that battle is still being fought and what the issues are.  The odd reminder now and then keeps the fight alive, the celebrating of the next milestone victory let’s us know yet another checkbox on the to-do list has been filled.  Thing is I’m an author of teen fiction.  I’m not an Advocate, this blog isn’t for promoting anything but myself and my work — and to fill in the time in-between that purpose I ramble and subject you all to the inner-workings of my psyche — it’s on Human Rights Campaign‘s website, or on George Takei‘s Facebook page, or Lizzie the Lezzie’s blog/Facebook that one can find a constant barrage of “this fight is being fought” “there’s a pride parade over here!” “oh bloody hell!  can you believe someone actually said this to me today?!”.  If you want live, up-to-the minute coverage of women’s rights, gay rights, racial rights, and even trans rights this is not the place to find that, those other places are.  I’ll just share the news that catches my attention and right now the important part of that word, ‘new’, is the inroads that trans rights have suddenly found itself making.  I am, for the time being, celebrating that.  I think it’s beautiful and wonderful.

[Reblog] Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong

Rather beautifully put, I thought.  Though I do tend to find that referring to things as hetero-privilege, or cis-privilege, white-privilege is often a bit short sighted.  I’m not sure it’s a privilege to not always think things through properly or to simply be unaware of an issue or to not be able to quite wrap your head around it.

An example — my own editor is, psychologically, quite androgynous despite identifying as female and as such can at times be rather confused about things that matter to cis-men or cis-women alike around her and some aspects of transgenderism don’t quite … click … for her without a little hand-holding and analogy to help her fathom whatever concept is in question.  She’s not suffering from this disease of cis-privilege, there’s room to even debate if she is or is not cis for one thing, she just doesn’t understand because it’s not her issue.  She’s bisexual and her issues are not those of the homosexual nor the heterosexual people around her and just as those trans and cis friends of hers must explain things to her, she in turn must explain her androgyny or bisexuality to them.  Do they, then, suffer trans-privilege or homo-privilege in addition to the others purportedly possessed of cis and hetero privileges?

This isn’t to say that there isn’t some privilege extended to men, to cisgendered of either side of the binary, to heterosexuals.  This is rarely anything that can be helped by the individual, only by society and its expectations.  This is the man being, perhaps, more likely to get a job.  The white person who isn’t watched by security as closely in the department store.  The person dressed in a fashion that suggests wealth being treated with greater deference than the one who, by their clothes, may well be poor.  The cisgender who is taken more seriously at work and who is never asked to go to a special restroom at their job or asked for ID by some zealous clerk when taking a pee in some public facility.  Cis and straight, regardless of race, are not denied their basic civil rights by any country in the western world that I can think of.  That is privilege.

Still, regardless my pet-peeve on the overuse of ‘privilege’ in our language these days, this post makes a fantastic point:  If you cannot accept a trans-woman as a lesbian or a trans-man as gay then you are being a) quite sexist and/or b) you are saying that this person whose sex and gender simply do not match is not who and what they say they are.  Are we so insecure in our own gender-identities, are we so ashamed or proud of our sex and our sexuality, that we should deny others their right to be who and what God made them?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong

Ying posed the following scenario/question: “Recently, I heard a lesbian woman comment about a trans woman (who happens to be a lesbian). She said the transwoman was not “really” a lesbian like she was. It was upsetting to me. No one can define another person’s identity, right? It seemed so petty, too. What skin is it off her nose anyway? What are your thoughts on people not accepting a trans person’s sexual orientation as being valid?”

Something to consider is going into this is that even though many of the LGB portion of our acronym are supportive and allies, that makes them no less cisgender. Just like any non-LGB person, they’re acting from a position of cis privilege, and don’t understand the implications of their actions, because, frankly, they don’t have to think about it much. We pop up once in a while, in a single circumstance here or there, and that’s generally the extent of it. And while they’re our allies for political purposes, I’ve come to find in my experience that LGB people are often woefully ignorant of the issues of the transgender community they support. Which is no surprise, really: We’re a vastly smaller group, a minority within our lgbt minority, so appropriately less time is spent on issues relating to us. (Just a shout-out to the LGBTU student group at The University of Akron, as they break this trend and give trans issues a much larger chunk of the spotlight than we deserve by population, because they’ve recognized the importance of these topics. Well done on them)

So what does this mean for the lesbian in question? Well, she’s invalidating our trans lesbian’s identity, plain and simple. By saying she’s not ‘really’ a lesbian, she’s implying an awful lot, and none of it is good. First and foremost, let’s go ahead and define “Lesbian”: a lesbian is a woman* who is attracted exclusively to other women*. Pretty simple definition, right? Well the two key elements are “Woman” and “Attracted exclusively to other women”. By saying she’s ‘not really a lesbian’ she has to be excluding our trans lesbian from one of the two criteria: and since, presumably, the trans lesbian has been with, or is currently with another woman, and has shown no interest in men, we can assume that ‘Attracted to other women’ is true. This means the only remaining conflict is in fact, our trans lesbian’s womanhood. There’s no other way around it. (Continues here)

Damn this language

We need more third person gendered pronouns in English.

Well, yes, I also mean in terms of ones for folks less than perfectly binary gender identity – that’s not what I’m talking about.

One does not need to be writing a homosexual romance to encounter a situation wherein one needs more than one person of the same sex interacting and then try to, smoothly and readably, describe this interaction.  There’re only so many permutations of she, her, herself, and so forth that can be arranged — with the help of the characters’ names — to get the point across; and some sentences just get worse if you substitute the name for the pronoun, sometimes you just have to say he/she.

There.  I feel better.

I apologise in advance for any confusion that arrises from the paragraph that prompted this post, and for the handful of others that simply were as clear as English permitted them to be.