Monday, 29 December 2014

A Look Back At 2014

2014 has been a really good year for me in a lot of ways, not least of all for my work here on my blog but other internet endeavours too, with my appointment as a journalist at the great PlanetTransgender, and my subsequent promotion to Editor.

Trans Girl Writer hasn't been forgotten though, with the site having received a staggering 28,000 hits since the start of the year!

I have to thank all of you for your support this year, for coming here and reading my posts and sharing them with others.  I'm hoping that this is a sign of things to come and that together we can help push the site on to greater heights.

To celebrate the huge readership over the last year let's take a look back at some of my most popular posts from the last twelve months and offer you all the chance to read them again or catch ones you might have missed the first time around.

The Facebook Name Debate and Having my Profile Deleted

One of the biggest stories of the year, not just for myself but in general, concerned the storm that social media giant Facebook caused after blocking hundreds of profiles for not using their 'real name', a policy that caused particular problems for the transgender community.

Hey, Who Hasn't Done It?

Earlier in the year there was a slight scandal as several celebrities including mega-star Jennifer Lawrence had private photographs released.  In this piece I address not the leak itself, or even if people are right or wrong by looking at these celebrities nude photos, but why people act differently when it's celebrities, when I'm sure that a lot of people have done the same themselves.

Cisphobia is Perfectly Natural

Canadian writer, creative director, actor, co-founder of Vice and general prick Gavin McInnes published an article called 'Transphobia is Perfectly Natural' in which he openly attacked transgender people and encouraged his readers to do the same.  Luckily this article got him fired as Chief Creative Officer of Rooster.  Here was my little rant on the subject.

Being Questioned For My Meds

Not everything I wrote was about other people, here I tell a story of how I went to the pharmacist to pick up my hormone pills and was rudely questioned about them and if I should be taking them.  Sadly this was not the last time it had happened to me, having now had it happen twice more.

First Time Out As Amy

Like I said, this was a big year for me, and here I write about one of my biggest hurdles, going out in public as the real me for the very first time.

Thank You For Outing Me

At the start of the year I faced one of the most frightening moments I've ever been through, someone at work found out that I was transgender and chose to share it with everyone.  At the time I wanted to run away and hide and never go back.  Then I saw Ellen Page's beautiful and moving speech as she came out at gay and knew that I could find the kind of strength she showed and face what was waiting for me.  This is what happened to me.

Some good articles right?  These are by no means the only good things I've written this year, but these were the most popular articles.  

Thanks to everyone for helping and supporting me this last year.  You guys rock.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Amazon Publishes Rape Fiction of #GamerGate Target Zoe Quinn

I'm sure that a lot of you are familiar with the term Gamergate, even if you are unaware of the details.  Gamergate has become something of a phenomena, it seems like some aspect is always in the news, some new horrible detail being brought to light.  Unfortunately things don't seem to be improving at all.

For those of you who might not be fully aware of exactly what Gamergate is, it all started when independent games developer and 2D artist Zoe Quinn launched the video game 'Depression Quest'.  Shortly after the release of the game Quinn's ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, published a blog post claiming that she had been in a relationship with a reporter for video game news site Kotaku.  After the post Quinn became the victim of widespread harassment, including threats of violence, rape and murder.

Since then Gamergate has gone on to become a massive debate about sexism in the video games development and reporting industry, targeting multiple women in the fields and their supporters in a misogynistic and viscous attack on women.

The latest attack comes in the form of a very thinly veiled rape fantasy story that has become available to purchase on Amazon of all places!

The 11 page long kindle download comes with the following description;
“Zada Quinby is a controversial video game designer who may have crossed the line,” the book’s description reads. “When her latest game offends the nation, five upset players decide to teach her a lesson. This gang of gamers decides to give Zada of piece of their mind, and much more!”

The book confesses to target an audience that includes 'fans of group action who fantasise about being brutally taken by men who can't understand the word no', and includes a scenario shockingly similar to some of the threats that Quinn has received.

Quinn herself became aware of the book on Friday and tweeted the following messages.

Some people have taken to the internet to continue their campaign of harassment towards Quinn, some claiming that she is finding similarities to a story where there are none (really?  No similarities at all?), some claiming that she brought the harassment on her, and even other who are claiming that she deserves the treatment she is receiving. 

The simple fact is that Zoe Quinn, and the other targets of Gamergate, are facing harassment and threats from people based solely on the fact that they are women.  People are saying that Gamergate is about ethics within the video game community.  But that's crap.  It's about sexism and misogyny.  It's men wanting to put down and harass women.  It's the perpetuation of rape culture.  This 'boo' proves that, it's just another example of angry people wishing sexual abuse on women.


Monday, 15 December 2014

DC Comics, Batgirl and That Transphobic Issue

Not the great issue they were hoping it would be.
I've liked Batgirl for a long time, since first getting into comics years and years ago I've been a fan of the younger legacy characters such as the Teen Titans, Nightwing, Batgirl, Wally West, Donna Troy and the like.  I've particularly liked Barbara Gordon in the role of Oracle, a role that I think was more important and a vital piece of the DC Universe then her time as Batgirl ever was.

So when DC rebooted their universe and Barbara was cured of her injuries and once again in the cape and cowl I was a little upset with this, thinking that she was a character that had moved beyond the costumed sidekick role into something so much better.  But at least the fantastic Gail Simone was writing the book.  The book was okay, not brilliant but kept my attention.

Then Simone did something brilliant, something that I genuinely never saw coming and made me fall in love with the book, the characters and Simone as a writer all over again.  Alysia Yeoh, Barbara's room mate, came out to her as transgender.

No mater the circumstances, coming out takes incredible bravery.
In a medium with very little positive trans representation this could have been something terrible, but staying true to the character of Barbara Gordon, and just frankly being a decent human being, Simone made it into a beautiful scene where Barbara accepted her friend wholeheartedly and told her she loved her.

And that is how decent human beings should react.
In a book where my interest had begun to wane and I was considering dropping I was given one of the best pieces of comic writing in years.  I know most of you will read that sentence and disagree, and don't get me wrong, I like the big epic superhero stuff too, but this was just brilliant writing.  For a subject that the media more often than not handle extremely poorly it was a breath of fresh air to read a very real, touching and subtle approach to the subject.

Fast forward a few months and we find a creative change on Bagirl, with Simone being replaced by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher.  I was upset to hear Simone was leaving, but when I saw the new art for the revamped series, by the brilliant Babs Tarr, I was once again interested.  Gone was the high tech armour, replaced with something a lot more real, a costume that any girl could make, and that just looked pretty damn cool.

I adore the new Batgirl costume.
So, here we have a book with a trans character as one of the leads best friends, positive trans representation and a kick arse look.  So what's exactly gone wrong?  Well, in a frankly stupid and clearly not full thought through move the new creative team have undone all of Simone's previous work and upset the majority of trans readers of the book.  A fairly large trans audience thanks to the great work that Simone did on the book.

Issue 37 of the book saw Barbara fighting against the Batgirl of Burnside, a gold bedazzled costume wearing imposter that's been helping criminals in Gotham steal from celebrities.  Okay, so far so good, nothing bad here, but, when Barbara confronts the new Batgirl things suddenly go down hill.  During the confrontation the fake Batgirl has her mask and wig removed, revealing artist and photographer Dagger Type.

The thing is, Dagger Type has been represented as a man up to this point.  It's worth noting though that until this point Barbara has never met Dagger, only seen a photograph of them and read their bio.  The most interaction she has had with Dagger has been as the Batgirl of Burnside.

Now, you might be thinking 'so what?  What's the big issue here?'  Well, the issues is more than one problem to address here, but the first to talk about is Barbara's reaction to this reveal.  Once the reveal has been made she freezes, her jaw drops and she yells out 'Dagger Type?  But you're a - 'clearly just about to say man before having to dodge a gunshot from the villain.

And this undoes all of the previous good work.
Barbara has never met Dagger, has only interacted with 'him' as a female, so why is her immediate reaction 'that's a man' rather than 'Dagger's trans'?  Here's some honesty on my part, I started going bald in my teens, I have to wear a wig.  As a trans woman if someone were to pull my hair off and immediately react with shock and yell 'but you're a man' it would be horribly destructive and hurtful.  To assume that someone is a man dressed up rather than trans when you have no evidence of either is a massive assumption, and one that can do a lot of damage.  Especially for a character that is supposed to be such a big ally to the trans community through her close friendship with Alysia.

At best this makes Barbara look massively ignorant and unintentionally hurtful, at worst it makes her look like a transphobe acting like an ally, something that I myself have had experience with.  A supposed friend, well acquaintance who was a partner of a friend really, chose to go on the attack one day stating that because I wasn't full time in my transition at that point that I was ashamed of who I was, that if I wasn't ashamed I'd not be pretending to be male at work.  Add on to this the horrid comment of 'women's clothes at night and pictures on Facebook do not a transgender make' and you've go the worst kind of hypocrite who claims to believe in trans rights and support those going through transition, but will immediately attack you if you do not conform with their very narrow minded view on what a trans person is.  This is definitely not who Barbara Gordon should be.

The other main problem with this issue is that comics are once again uses the villainous trans woman stereotype so often used by the media.  It seems like there are only a handful of roles TV, film and comics let trans women play, liars and villains, sex workers, victims of violence and very, very occasionaly real trans people.  I could write an entire article just on the subject of how misrepresented trans people are, how we're used as the butts of jokes when characters throw up when they realise a character is trans or call us 'its', but I really want to stick to this one issue of Batgirl for now.

Now, there is no clear evidence that Dagger is trans, there's no evidence their not though either.  Dagger could be trans, and a villain and it's a bad representation of trans people that uses the trans = bad guy trope.  Dagger could just be a guy who is dressing up as a woman, but this is bad because it's saying cross-dressers = bad guy.  Whoever Dagger really is Barbara's reaction is still unacceptable.  I know as a trans person that is Alysia had been there during that exchange she'd be having some very harsh words with Barbara, just as I would with any friend of mine I'd found having a negative reaction to someone who could be trans.  You can't be an ally to one and act like that towards another.

Now, the creative team has appologised for the issue on twitter, and Cameron Stewart has even addressed those naysayers who have spoken out to say there was no need to appologise, tweeting 'If you didn't think an apology was needed, the apology wasn't for you'.

Cameron Stewart issues an apology to those offended.
Okay, so they've acknowledged that they cocked up, that they've upset people and held their hands up and accepted that, which I respect as they could have taken a very different approach here.  But the damage is already done.  We now have yet another poor representation of trans people in the world, we have a book that attracted a trans audience that has upset its readers, we have a beloved comic book character that has acted out of character and gone against fans expectations.

I'm not saying that I'm never reading Batgirl again, or that you shouldn't either, but this has certainly shaken my faith in the book and DC in general.


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Monday, 8 December 2014

Pastor to Gay Christian - ‘I Pray You Commit Suicide, You Filthy Child Molesting Fag’

Pastor Logan Robertson.
A Baptist Pastor in Auckland, New Zealand has come under fire after labelling a gay reporter who was attempting to interview him as a 'filthy child molesting fag'.  Matt McLean, reporter for New Zealands One News contacted Pastor Logan Robertson to request a statement following reports that he had made in response to a gay Christian who had recently published a book about his faith.

The books author had written to over four hundred churches to try and get feedback about his book, but when Pastor Robertson responded he gave a very simple and very direct message.  He told the author that they 'are not interested in your filthy lifestyle or book.  I pray that you commit suicide, you filthy child molesting fag.'

Email exchange between the author and Pastor Robertson.
After McLean tried to contact Robertson to gain some insight into the story he was told that Pastor Robertson would not be interviewed by a 'filthy faggot' and that he hoped McLean would commit suicide.

Talking in an interview made at a later date he said that 'I think every single one of them should be put to death.  Christians shouldn't be doing it, I'm not going to do it, it's the governments job to be doing it.'

The Baptist Union of Churches has been trying to distance themselves from both Pastor Robertson and his church, Westcity Bible Baptist Church, claiming that they are not part of the union.

The church yesterday posted on their Facebook page 'Truth is Hate to those who Hate the Truth.'


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Gay Couple in Alaska Receive Homophobic Abuse

Anchorage resident Adam Jacobson and his husband this week saw their home vandalised, had eggs thrown at their house and found a homophobic poster left on their car.

The couple, who have been living in Anchorage for four years with no such previous incidents had this to say about the incident;

'The whole think kind of felt like they had observes us or they were at least familiar with who we are.  It was planned.  They clearly put a lot of effort into the poster.  I suspect that people that think this way and believe these things probably are feeling marginalised and feeling like sort of victims of the progressive moment, and maybe those sort of feelings of victimhood are what sparked this sort of behaviour.'

The poster in question carried a number of homophobic slurs, such as 'Fag Free Zone', 'Fags Die, God Laughs', 'Homos are possessed by demons' and the classic 'Homosexuality is a sin'.

Anchorage Police Department have taken the poster as evidence and are investigating the incident.

In good news though, Mr Jacobson has reported that he and his husband have been besieged with kind words and supportive messages.


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Saturday, 6 December 2014

12 Year Old Boy Takes His Own Life After Homophobic Bullying

It's a terrible thing whenever someone ends their own life.  For someone to be in that much pain that the only way out they can see is to take their own life is almost unimaginable.  I'm sure for a lot of people, people who have never had thoughts of suicide, they cannot even begin to relate to it.  Whether you understand it or not, I think we can all agree that it's one of the worst things to hear that someone has committed suicide.  So to hear that a child as young as twelve has ended his life because he was bullied and taunted, simply for being a cheerleader is heartbreaking.

A child, someone of only twelve year of age, took their own life because other children teased him for doing something that he loved.  A little boy with his whole life ahead of him, with everything to live for felt that the only way he could stop the pain he was going through was to die.  I don't know about you, but that moves me to tears.

Ronin Shimizu was the only boy on an all female cheerleading team in a middle school in California.  From all accounts he was a kind and loving boy, one who was beloved by many of his peers and teachers.  He joined the cheerleading team because it was something that he loved to do, it brought him joy.  So why was he driven to take his own life?

Representatives from the school have confirmed that Ronin and his parents had reported multiple cases of bullying, including students taunting him with homophobic insults and violence.  Their reason for thinking he was gay?  He was a cheerleader.

He was a male cheerleader and because of that he was bullied to death.  I'll say it again to let the awfulness of that sink in.  He took his own life because he was bullied for being a cheerleader.

I hate gender stereotypes.  It makes my blood boil whenever someone says that a certain toy is for a boy because it's an action figure, or for a girl because its a doll.  It's stupid that boys get strange looks if they wear pink.  It's wrong that children are told they can't do certain things or have to act certain ways because of their physical gender.

This is kind of thing is exactly why Ronin died.  Children around him told him that only girls or gay people would be a cheerleader.  That it wasn't what a boy should be doing.  That he was strange for enjoying it.  They held so strongly to that belief that they hurt him, in so many horrible ways.

But is this down to the children?  Is it their fault that this child is gone?  No.  It's ours.  It's societies fault.  Children don't come up with the idea of gender stereotypes or 'boy things and girl things'.  These views are taught, they're programmed in.  By us.

Society is responsible for the death of Ronin Shimizu.  If you're the kind of person that thinks girls can't play with toy guns, that boys shouldn't be allowed to have dolls then you're responsible for the death of of Ronin Shimizu.  If your children or grand children laugh at the boy in class who wants to wear a pink shirt or the girl who wants to wear shorts instead of a skirt then they're responsible for the death of Ronin Shimizu.

A child is gone from the world, his life taken by his own hand because of the way the world is.  How many other lives have been lost for the same reasons?  How many more must we continue to loose before we finally look around us and think enough is enough?

I hope you've found a little peace now Ronin.  I didn't know you, but tonight I've cried for you.


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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

BBFC Bans List of Sexual Activities From UK Porn

I guess seeing this pop up on my blog might be a bit of a shock, I've never covered the subject of porn before, mostly geek or lgbt related articles.  But this story grabbed my attention because something about it sits wrong with me.

You see, in a quiet move that I'm sure will slip under many people's radar British produced porn has been censored through an amendment to the 2003 Communications Act.  The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 requires that video-on-demand online porn now adhere to the same gidlines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).

The thing about the BBFC that not everyone might know is that many of their decisions are made based on the views and opinions of the individuals involved over other factors.  It's a type of decision making that let to the video nasties scandal of the 80's and 90's.  (For those who don't know about the video nasties please find time to read up about it as it's an amazingly interesting subject).

In this case the BBFC has chosen what constitutes as a 'nice' sex act.  Using these views they have banned the following acts from British produced porn;



Aggressive Whipping

Penetration by any object 'associated with violence'

Physical or verbal abuse, even if it is consensual

Water sports

Female ejacualtion




As with banning films in the 80's that the members of the BBFC found to be uncomfortable it seems here like the only reasons for making these acts illegal in British porn is simply because the people who made this decision were not okay with them.  I'm not saying that I'm into the things on this list, or against them either, but what some people like and find sexual pleasure from is their own business, or at least to a certain extent.

A friend of mine has a phrase I like.  Safe, sane and consensual.  Basically she says that as long as it's not illegal, no one is getting seriously hurt or in risk of dying and all parties involved are okay with it then let them have fun.  You might not be into being tied up and spanked, but if others are who are you to say that it's wrong?

Facesitting is now considered too dangerous
by the BBFC.
Not only does this new ruling strike me as yet a further example of censorship gone amok, but that it seems to be focused against women.  I'm not the only one thinking this either, and here's why.

A lot of the things that have been banned in this new decision come into play in BDSM practices, an area of pornography where women are given the opportunity to be extremely dominant.  Some people are arguing that by banning practices such as spanking, and especially facesitting are practices that put women in these positions of power and that taking them away puts female performers back in a submissive role.

Another part of the ban that seems to have no basis other than as a blow to women is the banning of female ejaculation.  Seriously?  Banning women from ejaculating?  That's a kin to Australia banning flat chested women from doing porn.  Are you telling me that an actress can be on set, doing her thing when she has a bodily function out of her control she'd what, be fired?

Oops, guess she's out of work now.
These new rules don't make any sense, especially when people in the UK can still watch porn produced outside of the country that contains all of these things.  These rules were made by people who weren't comfortable with those sexual practices, pure and simple.

These bans are wrong.  These things should not be banned.  If the people involved are okay with what they are doing, if it's safe and they have given their consent then why prevent others from seeing it?


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