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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I should write SciFi

Anyone not heard of Queers Destroy Science Fiction yet?

I think it’s both a very cool, and very sad, thing.

First off: the cool. It’s not about queer characters, though they (logically) have said if they have to choose between two equally good works they’ll probably pick the one with queer characters over the one without; it’s about queer writers. Normally my opinion is that such details are wholly irrelevant. I couldn’t care less if my favourite authors are bigger into goats than Lord Byron (if you don’t get it I suggest that ignorance, in this case, is bliss), so long as they tell a good story.

But the rationale for this just plain rocks. The thing is that there are a rather vocal group of vitriolic homophobes, transphobes, people who assume bisexuals are more mythical than unicorns, etc. SciFi personalities from widely recognised fans, to authors, agents, even editors. Too, there’s this habit for the agents/editors to say things to the effect of “good story, but the queer quotient is too high”.

John Joseph Adams: It’s mostly people complaining about the presence of queer characters appearing in stories that I’ve seen, as opposed to complaining about the sexuality of the authors themselves. But of course by complaining about the sexuality of the characters, they’re telling queer authors that their POV is not welcome.
As one example, take a look at some of the lower-rated reviews on Amazon of my anthology THE END IS NIGH (http://www.amazon.com/End-Nigh-Apocalypse-Triptych/dp/1495471179/). There were several readers there complaining about the very existence of queer characters in the stories. And that’s in a book where I think literally 5 stories had any mention of queerness (out of 23). One story was political (about marriage equality), but the others just contained queer characters, yet the very presence of queer characters “destroyed” the stories for them. That’s what Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is rebelling against.
As another example: We did a Facebook “promoted post” to boost the signal about the Kickstarter. Within a few minutes of that going up, the post got comments like “No queers in my scifi please” and “Being gay is wrong.”

So, it’s a great protest of this attitude, and I love great protests. Pickets and clever chants have their place but are not, strictly speaking, positive nor always terribly powerful/effective (besides, too many slogans these days aren’t even all that clever; they need to find some old 1960s hippies to help). This is so many kinds of positive and powerful. It’s also heartening that the Kickstarter earned US$53K of its US$5K goal.

But it brings me to the sad: it’s heartbreaking that such a thing should even seem necessary, let alone show strong evidence of being necessary. Queers Destroy Mysteries or Queers Destroy Romance or Queers Destroy Westerns (okay, maybe Westerns) … no such feeling that this is a Thing (though it can be, there’re agents for Romance that won’t handle LGBT material … how rude!). Science Fiction, though?! Of all genres that should never have needed such a thing as this, SF was it.

Science Fiction is the genre that is supposed to make us ask questions, to dream, to show us a better future to strive for or warn us from a path towards a terrible one. It paints the world of the noble gentlemen heroes known as Lensmen, it gives us the bleak dystopian corpocratic UV irradiated hells of cyberpunk, the alien scapes of Star Wars … the new gospels of love and acceptance of Stranger in a Strange Land.

Too much of it, today, though is caught up in … I’m not sure what to call it and what my wife has to say about it is horribly unladylike and R-rated … if I cleaned it up and censored some of it.

I’ve said before that I adore Science Fiction (and its sister genre, Fantasy, so commonly collectively known as Speculative Fiction), and I do wish I had more SF ideas than I do. But I don’t really read much newer stuff, in fact I’m wont to not even be able to bring myself to consider so much of what is dubbed SciFi these days (and a sad proportion of Fantasy along with it) as legit; I just can’t bring myself to count these works as the same genre as Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Doc Smith, and Jules Verne. They just don’t really push the envelope of human imagination in the way that even some of the pulpiest garbage from back then could. As for Fantasy, it’s doing better, but there’s quite a bit lately that I feel has Lewis & Tolkien spinning in their graves such that we could connect them to turbines to power the world.

There was a time when the biggest names in SF, along with some of the least names in it, would look at the world and write things … oh hell, SciFi has been ill for so long … the beginning of the end was when Star Trek: TNG not only didn’t start with even a single character who wasn’t cis+straight, but never got one … we had to wait for Talia & Ivanova in Babylon 5.

I could go on like this for ages. It’s just that it isn’t only about representation, but about the fact that if our new mythology (Fantasy) and our dreams of the future have no place for women, people of diverse ethnicity, or queers … what hope have we of ever being accepted? Luckily the slack is taken up by drama & comedy, Will & Grace, and Orange is the New Black among others, take up the slack left by SF falling asleep on its job.

So, it’s cool Lightspeed is stepping up to the responsibilities of the genre, but it’s pretty shite that they have to resort to such methods as this.

An open letter to lawmakers

To those who govern and those who make legislation,

What purpose does it serve you to discriminate against those whom you are sworn to serve? Or to encourage and support those who would do so?

First of all, your oaths of office are to serve your states, counties, countries, cities … not select portions of it, but all of it. Seems to me, you’ve an obligation to all of them, minority or not, rich or poor, LGBTQIA+ or not, it doesn’t matter.

Then there’s the simple fun fact that you’re an elected official. Seems to me that running on a platform of hatred, oppression, discrimination, etc. may help in the short run, if you can stir up enough of one crowd and hope more of them can get to the polls (or somehow discourage the rest from making it to them) than those whom you’ve just campaigned to alienate. Once in office you have to hope your vitriolic efforts don’t push too far and alienate even those who once supported you.

Most importantly, it’s just self destructive. What good is it to legislate or govern a state that is destitute? What worthwhile businesses will a state, city, county, country, or what have you attract if that place is doing all it can to tell people they aren’t welcome here? Worse, what businesses will want to be beholden to the laws of a place that might be so two-faced as to claim to be welcoming but then is exclusionary in practice?

Businesses want the best and brightest. Most have learnt that this means accepting people for who they are so that they aren’t missing out on some brilliant individual who will help them to turn over that almighty profit. They won’t find their best and brightest in a place that drives them off, that discourages them moving there in the first place, and so on.

Alabama and other states fighting so hard to block marriage equality? You might want to stop and realise how foolish you look.

Georgia, Texas, and others trying to pass “right to discriminate” laws? Oh, you’ll attract some businesses with that, but not the kind you’re liable to be terribly proud of: places that’ll be in constant litigation over wage theft and other labour abuses looking for one less thing they can get sued for.

Uganda and other places trying to actually criminalise people being themselves? Newsflash, this isn’t the Dark Ages; we’ve broken the sound barrier and walked on the moon! Can’t we get over such archaic lunacy? Certainly not too many companies are liable to want to do business somewhere that is stuck in the 10th century.

It doesn’t just have to be sexuality or gender identity. How about women? The poor? True, if no one is treating a demographic well then you’ve nothing to worry about; but that’s not the case. When every Carolinian who can is headed to California, Vermont … or Americans headed for Switzerland, Norway …

Taxes! Your money. Where will it come from? You want people to want to stay, and to want to come. You want people to have jobs that pay them well. Conservative politicians may not have realised it, but the 19th century is over, and with it the viability of a system ruled and owned by a small elite over an enslaved majority. That can work in agrarian societies, feudalism or its analogues, but today that just won’t fly. What makes money isn’t pigs and corn, chickens and beets … it’s money, it’s commerce. Industry, even, in the end is commerce.

Commerce doesn’t work if people haven’t jobs. Jobs are worthless if there’s no money. Do you really think it wise to encourage unemployment by acting rashly?

Yes, you have constituents who believe a woman’s place is in the home and by an extension of “logic” that is more than a little meandering shouldn’t earn the same as men (and which has apparently, blissfully, started not to be argued … now it’s sticking to weird political slants), that marriage is defined thus, that [race] are God’s special ones … you’ve also constituents who believe their sofa talks to them. All of them have the right to believe that – in most democracies, anyhow, and it’s a good idea to push for it in places that don’t – but the rest of us have the right not to be subject to that by the same freedoms. I mean, barring ones where being non-Muslim is illegal, even Islamic states with the Quran enshrined in their constitution draw a line where non-Muslims aren’t subject to that holy book except where ideas overlap (e.g. No Stealin’!!). Just as you would not seriously pass legislation that sofas are citizens with rights et al you shouldn’t take seriously those who, no matter their numbers, would argue beliefs as law.

You want to legislate holy books? How about “judge not”? How about charity? How about hospitality? How about Man was made to be the stewards of this world? All of those come from the Christian Bible that so many who are fond of legislating intolerance seem inclined to cite … funny how the same ones legislate against social aid programs, environmental protections, equality, immigration … then again, those same voices do all they can to defund education; funny, the American South tried banning slaves being literate, even for a time before that tried to not let the slaves be Christian at all in order to keep them knowing about things like the book of Exodus. I suppose shouting the Old Testament to people who can’t make heads nor tails of the New Testament works, but to what purpose?

Have you a plan for what to do with these people? Certainly not hire them, even the good straight Christians are now illiterate & useless as employees beyond the most menial tasks. Not have them in your cities; you’ve done all you can to criminalise being broke and/or homeless … even if you regressed things to an Antebellum society, are you ready to live in an age of outhouses, woodstoves, gas lamps, and horsedrawn buggies? Today’s society was built by, for, and with a middle class enjoying freedom and economy for leisure … they sent their children to colleges, bought cars and computer, they watched movies, listened to radios …

No sirs, madams, and others … conservatives who want to maintain a status quo that no longer exists must, therefore, push for regression; and regression is always harmful. History teaches us this; the Dark Ages didn’t get their name from a candles shortage or some solar calamity. They were a regression from a time of high literacy, education that permitted the building and maintaining of such things as flushing toilets, hot & cold running water, widespread international (and intercontinental) trade, effective medicines and surgeries, and more. Put bluntly: for a few centuries, most of Europe had lost the fork.

Conservativism has a place. It’s good for society to have a voice that says “hold on, now, is this change good? Or is it just change for the sake of change?” Fiscal conservativism doubly so, except today’s fiscal conservatives less often ask “General/President/Congressman, just where in Hell do you expect to find the money for this idea?” and, instead, are more inclined to cut specific spending, but hand blank cheques over to other sorts … often much more expensive sorts.

It’s all related. Is it worth spending so much to defend state laws & amendments that should never have been taken seriously enough to have made it to a ballot in the first place? Defending it costs money. It’s bad press: businesses looking askance at your environment & thinking they can attract better talent elsewhere (whoops, there goes various tax & license funds). It’s that much less work for existing business (more marriages means more caterers and florists get work!). It’s that much more spent on welfare to take care of children waiting to be adopted. It’s lost spending by people who leave, never move to, or never want to visit.

It is said that evil carries the seed of its own downfall. What can be more evil than hatred, whether you choose to dress it in fancy clothes and call it discrimination or not, it is what it is. And denial of rights or denial that what is being withheld is a right is intolance, discrimination, in a word: hate.  Look at World War II Germany … perhaps, if the Nazis hadn’t been so eager to round up Jews, gays, and others it would have been they who had the first atom bombs; it was more than a few of their scientists who helped the US invent the thing, after all.

Simple point of note: history remembers Lincoln freeing the slaves, and that Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. No one knows the names of those who put the slaves in their chains, and in the Biblical story of Moses the oppressor was a villain and liberator a hero. Who is recalled more kindly? Dr Martin Luther King or Chancellor Adolf Hitler? Ghandi or Genghis Khan?

Your place in history was recorded the day people took to the polls. What role will you play in history’s narrative? Hero or villain? Saint or sinner? Healer or murderer? Bringer of peace or of war?

Maybe it’s time to look around and see that there’s a bigger world, a bigger picture, than your campaign podium and your biggest contributers, because shortsightedness could cost you personally, will almost certainly affect your children, is all but guaranteed to affect their children, and their children have no choice but to face the consequences of our actions today. Remember that Reconstruction, after the American Civil War, was a slew of rash decisions that came to a head almost exactly 100 years later.

Good day.
Ms Jaye Edgecliff