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

Protecting Faith or Legalising Discrimination?

IMG_7249Anyone keeping up with American news lately may have noticed the things going on here are a little … crazy.  Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi … these ‘bathroom bills’ and ‘religious freedom bills’ and what have you, yes?

First, let me just chastise both sides a little bit:

LGBT • just because a business has the right to do something doesn’t mean they will.  There’re too many getting a little too carried away here.  Histrionics and hyperbole are fine in satire, like a SNL sketch, but it’s not good in an otherwise simply rhetorical article that’s trying to explain the problem unless you clearly indicate that you are following this to its extremity of possibility.

Anti-LGBT • I would like to mention that there has been protection for religious beliefs since the adoption of the US Constitution‘s first ten amendments, it reads thusly:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(via https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment)

So, now, on to what I have to say.

It’s bullshit.  I’m sorry, but it is.  It’s all complete crap.

If this really had to do with people being upset about their sincerely held religious beliefs then where are the following:

  • People rallying behind a photographer who refuses to take a Buddhist wedding
  • The bakery that refuses the interracial couple
  • The clerk turning away the Jewish couple
  • The judge who won’t officiate the atheist couple
  • The restaurant that won’t serve a Mexican family
  • The auto repair shop that won’t accept black customers

I could go on.

Thing is this.  First to the photographer, clerk, and bakery:

You’re not part of my wedding.  You supplied a service.  You are not participating in the wedding itself, you are feeding it and you are taking pictures of it, and you are handing me a license that records that it took place.  End.  You are not, in the strictest sense, actually invited to the wedding.  You’re not participating.  Even if you were an actual guest asked to come watch the wedding take place, I’m not sure it counts as ‘participating’, more like watching myself and my wife engaging in a ceremony that is taking place between ourselves, the officiate, and (if we should have them) our maids of honour.

To the judge:

You’re a public official.  You are serving as the representative of your governing body.  You are not participating in the wedding, your position is.  You are filling it.  Swallow your pride, buttercup, or get off the bench.

To everyone else:

Your doors are open to the public.  You want your religion to guide your life, bravo, but you want to be able to pick and choose your customers based on that religion you need to stop being a public business and become a religious organisation, instead.  Then you can turn away to your religious heart’s content.

Thing is, people once did turn away religions, genders, races, nationalities, and such on everything from ‘I don’t want that kind around here’ (which is, at least, honest and therefore somewhat respectable) to ‘the Bible says so’ (which, if you twist things enough is probably true … or if it’s outright true it’s probably right next to a passage you violate sixteen times every day, so please just shut up while you’re already behind).

Look.  According to the IRS I’m a private business.  Even if I were through a traditional publisher … well, there’s a reason I’m a self-published author.  The difference between traditional and self publishing is traditional is smaller royalties and usually offers me a cover artist (who I usually have absolutely no input in the selection of nor the artwork finally chosen); beyond all that, I’m still a small business in business with a larger business.

So, that said, let’s look at the universe from my business’ point of view.  According to the new laws that keep wanting to be passed I could say I don’t want to sell my books to heterosexual or cisgender or to Scientologists.  Now the waters get really muddy when you point out that there’re state and federal level protections against my discriminating against Scientologists, because that’s a religion.  But, that’s where things get fun.  While these laws are in place, legal enforcement must decide whether to enforce the existing non-discrimination laws or the new law which says that, if I hold that it is my sincere religious belief, I can deny them services.  XHamster (link very NSFW) is apparently having fun with that one (should be SFW).  True, in those states I can discriminate against gender identity and sexuality – so, if I were this hypothetical bigot (yes, bigotry works both ways, folks!), I could merrily discriminate to my heart’s content even before these laws were enacted and now that they have been the state won’t hear a single word against me and the local government councils can’t enact ordinances to make me behave myself.

Now, here’s the thing.  A lot of folk wonder what the big deal is.  “Just get your cake somewhere else”, they say.  “Get a different photographer!” they cry.

Ah, but dearies, spoken like people in very large urban centres or like people in very very small countries.  Let me paint you a picture:

Let us begin with Atkins diet and several other fads that have long since put many bakeries out of business.  Even in your moderately urban locations there are few bakeries to select from.

Now we move on to a place that is not Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.  Let us move, instead, to Little Rock, Knoxville, Memphis, or Montpelier.  Or better yet, let us move down to Coon Rapids (yep, it’s a place, my daddy went to school there),  Moose Point, Crabapple Cove, Barrow …

Here’s the thing.  The smaller the place you live the further you may have to go just to find a bakery in the first place, let alone an alternative one.  Secondly, if there’re only two bakeries in town, odds are good that you chose the one you did for a good reason.  Maybe the other one is too expensive, or is really terrible.  Now you’ve been turned away by the one that you want to go with.  And, I’m sorry, but Kroger?  Big Y?  Publix?  Stop & Shop??  Seriously, who that can afford otherwise (and even those who can’t, sometimes) goes to the grocery store for their wedding cake?!  (Okay, once upon a time, my home town, but in fairness the bakery in the local grocery store was a local bakery – the store was an IGA not a big chain supermarket … kind of different, and it was tiny town in north Arkansas for crying out loud).

Photography offers a bit of choice, but still not always a lot.  And certainly one must still balance quality and price which will winnow some of the options away.

You see?  A couple who tries to go to “Mary Catherine’s Catholic Baked Goods” which is a convent bakery and affiliated with St Lucas’ Cathedral … if they’re refused service, the answer to the couple is to tell them to suck it up and move on, and to wonder what they were thinking.  “Billy Bob’s Olde Time Bake Shoppe” on the other hand, is Billy Bob’s store that is open to the public and affiliated only with Billy Bob and his whopping twelve and one half shares in King Arthur flour.  If Billy Bob wants to tell our fateful couple that he doesn’t approve of miscegenation he’s slapped with fines and things for discrimination based on race while being berated by most of the world … under a few new laws he gets embroiled in a long complicated legal battle as the courts get to decide if the non-discrimination law is unconstitutional or the religious freedom law is (one of them actually was clever enough to limit itself against existing non-discrimination laws, but I forget which that is … not Mississippi’s, I’m pretty sure, so this can take place in Oxford, MS).  But if he wants to say “no fags allowed!”, no problem.  Until recently he, technically, already had that right since sexuality wasn’t a protected status anyhow, but the couple could still have tried and, with luck, got somewhere despite this (maybe go with sex discrimination suit), now however Billy Bob is armed with a law and his ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ (which, apparently, state that cake is a very sacred substance and may only be served to those deemed worthy) while Lawrence and Jeffery have absolutely no legal recourse whatsoever and must now make the long trek to Tupelo before they find Sue Anne’s Country Bakery which will happily make their cake for them, but will need to charge $75 more due to the very long drive to where the wedding will be taking place (back in Larry & Jeff’s childhood home of Oxford, of course!).

See?  Gets fun doesn’t it?

And it’s not just about LGBT.  These laws hurt a lot of people.  The ones that makes the government unable to act against ‘religious beliefs’ mean that there is very sticky and complicated legal turmoil when a restaurant refuses to seat a Sikh family; when miscegenation gets you refused service at the tire shop … laws should protect people.  It’s not protecting anyone.  A person’s religious beliefs aren’t being protected, there are existing ways they can be exempted from non-discrimination for religious reasons, and if that place doesn’t want to help an unwed mother, well that’s their business then.  But the place open to the general public shouldn’t have that kind of power.  An unruly unwed mother who is wont to not paying her bills, that’s another matter.  But to see a woman holding a child, not wearing a wedding band, and who says “I haven’t got a husband” when asked what sort of work he does and say “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go elsewhere”.  Just, no.