Thursday, 29 January 2015

Germaine Greer Denies She's Transphobic, By Claiming Tranphobia Doesn't Exist

After appearing to speak to a debating society at prestigious Cambirdge University, 'feminist' Germaine Greer has had to face the anger expressed by a large number of students after claiming that transphobia doesn't exist.

Expressing long held opinions that she is some kind of superior being to the rest of the world Greer firstly attacked 'hoards of feminist journalists' who she believes are 'too stupid' to understand wider issues and reinforce gender stereotyping.

Greer soon went on to argue that the Everyday Sexism campaign, claiming that it made misogyny sexy.  Really?!  Anyone who is familiar with Everyday Sexism will tell you that the hundreds of thousands of accounts of women and girls who face sexism and sexual abuse is in no way sexy.  It's eye opening, it's anger inducing and heartbreaking.  But perhaps that's just my opinion, maybe Germaine Greer finds 13 year old girls talking about rape a big turn on.

Transphobia, a topic that Greer has had frequent opinions of over the years, soon became a target of her speech.  Greer went on to say; 'Women are 51% of the worlds population and I've got to worry about transphobia.  I didn't know there was such a thing.  Arachnophobia, yes.  Transphobia, no.'

Greer has been very vocal about her hatred of trans women over the course of her career, frequently denying people their correct pronouns and disrespecting their gender expression.  In her book The Female Eunuch she describes trans women as 'men who mutilate themselves' and in The Whole Woman she describes us as 'men who believe they are women and had themselves castrated'.

When faced with angry responses from the students she was talking to she quickly felt the need to defend herself, insisting that trans  people are 'the one's throwing stuff at me', possibly referring to the incident where she was glitter-bombed during a book signing.  Yes Germaine, all that hurtful glitter getting thrown at you is indeed reason enough to spread hate speech about a whole marginalised minority,

This isn't the first time that Greer has faced trouble at Cambridge University due to her transphobic views, in 1996 she resigned from her lecturing position after unsuccessfully trying to destroy the career of transgender fellow Rachael Padman.

In addition to those in attendance of the talk that took disagreement with Greer's views there were many members of the Cambridge University's LGBT+ Campaign who boycotted the event and even handed out flyers outlining Greers history of transphobia outside of the event.

Student Em Travis wrote in favour of the boycott for Cambridge's LBGT+ magazine Get Real.  They described Greer's views as 'twisted and misinformed'.  They went on to say 'I do not want to share a building with Germaine Greer.  I don't particularly want to share a city or even a planet with her, for that matter, or with any other person who contributes to the marginalisation, oppression and death of my trans siblings.

I would say that hopefully this will be the last we hear of Greer and her transphobic views after receiving such a negative reaction for them, but if her past tells us one thing she will continue to attack the transgender community at any given opportunity.

Germaine Greer turns 76 today, so hopefully she won't be alive much longer and the world can start being a better place.  Happy birthday Germaine, you vicious old hag.


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Monday, 19 January 2015

JamForLeelah Event to Raise Funds For Trans Charities in Memory of Leelah Alcorn

Saturday saw the start of a month long charity event called 'JamForLeelah'.  Aimed at raising awareness of LGBTIQ issues, specifically trans youth issues and the Leelah's Law campaign, the event will be raising money for a number of charities including Transender Law Center, Camp Aranu'tiq and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

The event is named in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a seventeen year old transgender girl who sadly took her own life in December last year.  Due to Leelah's interest in video games and games development the events organisers, Matthew Boucher and Kara Jayne, felt that an indie game jam felt like a positive way to raise awareness of Leelah's plea for social change in a method she may not have only approved of but also taken part in.

Participants have a month in which to submit their games.  Boucher and Jayne have asked that the games be centered around trans issues in some way, such as using a trans protagonist or focuses on issues faced by trans people.  They have also asked people to look through Leelah's blog and to draw some inspiration from her own work and the thins that she liked, to try and create something that Leelah herself may have enjoyed.

Despite being held in Leelah's memory the orgaisers are asking all participants to be both respectful to the subject matter and Leelah herself.  They have asked that none of the games to actually feature Leelah as this may be seen as disrespectful to those mourning her loss.

I had the chance to speak to one of the organisers of JamForLeelah, Kara Jayne, and had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the even.

Why did you choose to honor Leelah, what about her story spoke to you?
Leelah and I had actually spoken, briefly, within the forums of a trans community two months before her passing, discussing ways to deal with some of the struggles trans people face during transition. We didn’t know each other at all, and we lived on opposite ends of the globe, but she, like many trans people you talk to online, made it clear how difficult a time she was having with her family and expectations, and that brought us together. I did my best to raise her spirits, but unfortunately, when dysphoria strikes it’s hard to really penetrate that hopelessness. When the early news reports hit, my heart absolutely sank. Here was a seventeen year old girl who was put into a position in which she couldn’t see a way out, and it broke my heart.    
Being a trans woman, and reading through the letter that Leelah left on her Tumblr, I couldn’t help but relate to the feelings she described. I think most trans people can relate to the frustrations Leelah mentioned, and I think there’s an element of communal suffering in knowing perhaps, with maybe a little understanding and acceptance, it may have been preventable. It’s a tragedy, and for the trans community, it’s one that repeats far too frequently. But surprisingly, the media came out in support of a trans teenager – news reports were mostly respectful – and perhaps as a result, or perhaps as a result of the changing response to trans folk over the last few years – people really came out in droves to honor and respect Leelah’s wishes.
But a week after her passing, I was reading a Wikipedia page put up in Leelah’s name, and an argument was being had by its editors about whether it was notable enough news to have a wiki page, since it would likely be forgotten by the next week. It was horrifying to think she might be forgotten so quickly after what she wrote in that letter. Being in Australia, I couldn’t join the candlelit vigils, but I could share the petitions and spread her articles via social media, and I was always looking for a way to keep her message going. Keeping her message alive, and what Leelah Alcorn went through, is so important to me, because there are so many trans people in her position that need to hear that the world is changing.
What made you choose gaming over other avenues of fundraising?
I feel that many of us within the trans community reacted to her passing in the same way, with sadness and heartbreak and a sense of hopelessness that she would be forgotten too quickly, or that her story would be erased by her parents or the media. Many of the people I follow on Twitter became internet sleuths of a sort, trying to come to terms with her passing by learning more about her - following her online presence - and sharing it within the community. Her artwork, music, early comments and thoughts, all began to appear in an effort to shed some more light on what she experienced, or what we could have done to help her. It was a way of the community – I think – further humanizing a girl that, otherwise, might just become another statistic.
And during that time, it starting becoming very clear that Leelah was not just a gamer, but a gamer gamerOnline, she spent time commenting and checking out gaming videos, discussed game development news, wrote up game reviews on her profiles, and even talked about participating in a global game jam called Ludum Dare. As a game designer myself, this really hit home, so when another Twitter user commented that a jam should be held to honor her, I wanted to become involved and help anyway I could. The jam was created by Matthew Boucher, and I’m really honored to be a part of it.
Games are an amazing medium, and although the mainstream media often still clings to this infantile idea of them being children’s playthings with no value, the truth is games are able to really get to the heart of a theme or concept in ways that no other medium can. Games place you in a position as a player, faced with the unknown, and the only way you can proceed is if you come to terms with what the creators of the game set out for you. You can’t passively participate, you need to come to the understanding yourself to get through the game, and I think this is where the power of it lies. One major problem I’ve noticed many cis gendered people have is how hard it is for them to comprehend gender identity as something different to gender expression or sexuality, and perhaps putting them into that kind of narrative as an active participant could help them finally come to terms with it.    
What do you hope to accomplish?
Ideally, #JamForLeelah should be about remembering Leelah and her story, raising awareness about her petitions, and in doing so, raising money for really deserving trans charities. The overall goal is trying to further prevent trans people in similar situations from feeling that same helplessness that Leelah felt.
The jam is a trans-positive jam, and much like the #reallivetransadult hashtag, I hope that positive trans narratives come out of it. For somebody who may be having a hard time, playing through a trans narrative that ends on a positive note could really help with that sense of hopelessness. And even if the experience isn’t always positive, it can really help to just know that other people have gone through what you are experiencing.
A little while back I searched high and low for trans narratives within games, and although I found a couple, I was really disappointed about the lack of trans characters and stories within the medium (and all mediums really, if we’re being honest). Two games I did find was Mainichi by Mattie Brice, and Dys4ria by Anna Antropy. They were small indie games, but they still made me feel better just knowing they exist. Diverse representation is so important for any minority, and there’s so little of it in gaming. By hosting a jam entirely about trans-narratives, we hope to get a large collection of games that anyone could play, whether to gain an understanding, or simply to stop feeling quite so alone.   
Is JamForLeelah something you could see yourselves holding as an annual event?
We haven’t discussed this to be honest, and I personally think we should wait and see what comes out of it. We’ve had some criticism about using Leelah Alcorn’s story directly, or her name directly in the jam, and we’ve taken a lot of that feedback seriously. The last thing we wanted was to offend people who are still dealing with the loss in their own way, and we really hope that people understand that this is about spreading awareness for Leelah – it’s about getting the petition, which is losing steam, another wave of signers so that we can ban conversion therapy. It’s about raising money to charities that can further assist the trans movement, and prevent stories like Leelah’s from repeating.
One charity in particular, Camp Aranu’tiq, is a summer camp for transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming children and teenagers. It’s a place these kids can be completely free of questions of gender, and who they are, or what they were assigned at birth, and just be kids. A chance to be free of prejudice and hate in a world that, honestly, does not give trans people a break some times. It’s the kind of place you should send your kid if they came out to you. It would be amazing to know our little game event was able to help they further help these children.
What message do you hope this event will send to people going through the same situation as Leelah?
First and foremost, I hope that anyone going through the same situation as Leelah really reaches out to services like the Trevor Project, which can really help those struggling. And I hope that anybody who feels alone reaches out to the community, as the trans community is closer than most communities I’ve seen, and may help them gain a larger perspective on the situation at hand. I’ve seen trans people open their houses to strangers, give their last dollar to help somebody else get by, and they’re always there if family rejects you. The community is heart-warming, and I hope that anyone struggling really reaches out so that they can understand they’re not alone.
And for those who may play the games that come out of the jam, hopefully they get a chance to witness experiences that may reflect their own situation, and as a result gives them hope for their own future. After all, if the trans developer who made the game was able to get through the dark times, maybe the player can to.  And maybe, even just having a game with a trans protagonist would be enough to make them feel a sense of normalcy, which is so often denied to trans people in their day to day life.  
Ultimately, I hope that they would be able to see the kind of collaboration that went into these games, and understand that a lot of these designers, artists, and programmers are trans themselves and have come through similar struggles. And now, here they are, creating their stories alongside cisgendered developers who, together, want to do whatever they can in order to further prevent another tragedy like the passing of Leelah Alcorn. 

For more detail and information on how to join in with JamForLeelah click on the link below to head over to the website and help to support this great cause.


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Saturday, 17 January 2015

I Self Harm, And It's Helped Me To Survive Being Transgender

Probably not something that most people would want to admit, but I self harm.  I intentionally hurt myself.  I do it to survive.  I've told a few people over the last few years, but I think that maybe they've thought that I was joking around because they never mentioned it to me again.  Or they simply tell me 'don't do that', with no other alternative given with how to cope.

I think it's one of those things that unless you do it yourself you'll never understand why someone else would do it.  I mean, what rational person would intentionally hurt themselves right?  It's not even like it's the same as S&M, it's not used during sex, which makes it easier to understand.

If I were to tell someone that I like to feel pain when I have sex or masturbate then I'd get a raised eyebrow, maybe someone blushing, possibly some intrigue.  When I tell someone that I self harm though they look at me with a mixture of shock, revulsion and pity.  People act like I've admitted to having performed some deeply terrible crime.  They condemn it and quickly change the subject.

The thing is, I don't do it all the time, it's not like I choose to unwind of an evening with a soak in the bath, watching a movie and cutting myself.  I can go long, long times without feeling the need to hurt myself.  And that's what it is, it's a need.

Self harm, for me, is a way of coping.  I need to hurt myself physically to help my self emotionally.  Crazy I know, but sometimes it's better to hurt physically than to feel the pain where it does the most damage.

This will be the point where people tell me that I should just talk to someone instead, to speak about how I'm feeling to friends and family.  Good advice, really.  One problem with that though is that it just doesn't work that way.  You don't always have someone there for you, you don't always have someone willing to help, sometimes you can't even being to talk about what's wrong.  The only way to relieve the pain is to hurt yourself.

I never intended to start, I always thought that self harm was a bad thing, that the people who did it were weak, or that they were stupid for hurting themselves, the way most people look at it.  Then I figured out that I was transgender and the amount of pain I felt went through the roof.  I was depressed before, but not nearly as much.  The phrase 'ignorance is bliss' never spoke truer to me than about the level of pain knowing I'm trans has brought me.

The pain was bad, but I was coping.  Then I found out that my doctors had messed up my treatment, that they'd wasted a whole year for nothing.  That's when I hit bottom.  I was alone in the dark, no one around to talk to, no one to give me something so simple as a hug.  That night I seriously considered killing myself.

It was as I sat in the dark wondering if it was even worth trying to carry on at all that I started to hurt myself.  The pain helped, it brought me back from the brink.  I'm not over exaggerating when I say that self harm very literally saved my life that day.  It's kept me from going back to that place ever since.

Its not something that I ever wanted to do, it's not something that I want to carry on doing, but it's something that I need in ways I can't even begin to describe.

For everyone out there that is going through the same, for everyone that feels they need to hurt themselves to survive, do what you need to do to keep on living.  All that I ask is that you're safe about it.  I never use a blade, I don't want to accidentally go too far and I don't want scars.  Please, please be careful.

For those that don't self harm and don't understand it.  Don't condemn those that do it.  It's not something they want to do, it's something that they need.  Don't judge or tell them to stop.  Offer them a shoulder if they need it, but understand that that wont stop them from hurting themselves.  Be there for them when they need someone, even if it's just to hold them as they cry.

Self harm is something people don't like to talk about, but it's something that can't be ignored.  If you know someone that self harms then go out of your way to tell them how special they are to you, how brilliant a person they are.  Do little things to make them smile and laugh.  Do whatever you can for them, but never judge them.


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Friday, 16 January 2015

Judge blames 16 Year Old Girl For Sleeping With Teacher

Judge Joanna Greenberg blames a sixteen year old girl for her
own sexual abuse.
A judge is facing harsh criticism for giving a suspended sentence to a forty four year old teacher after being found guilty of having sex with his sixteen year old pupil, the reason?  The judge chose to place blame on the incident on the girl, claiming that she 'groomed' her teacher.

Stuart Kerner, the man in question, had a sexual relationship with one of his students that ran for over a year, beginning when the girl was only fifteen.  From accounts given during the court proceedings Kerner took the girls virginity on school grounds and had sex with her at both their homes.

Instead of facing prison time, however, judge Joanna Greenberg QC chose to give him an eighteen month suspended sentence, placing full blame on the young girl, claiming that Kerner only 'gave in to temptation' because of the strain of his wife having had a miscarriage.  Greenberg said the following;

'Her friends described her, accurately in my view, as stalking you.  There is no evidence you encouraged her in any way.  There is no evidence you groomed her.  If anything it was she who groomed you.  You gave way to temptation because of problems with your wife's pregnancy.  She was intelligent and used that intelligence to manipulate people emotionally.  She was very vulnerable and needy and had a troubled home life.'

A rapist walks out of court a free man.
Yes, that's right.  The girl who was fifteen when she first slept with Kerner was the predator here.  Somehow a fully mature forty four year old man, a man who was responsible for the education of teenagers was somehow masterfully seduced into bed by a child multiple times over more than a year.

However, the offence of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust is principally designed to protect young people ages between sixteen and seventeen, people who might be over the legal age of sexual consent but are still considered to be vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.  Particularly when involving a person who holds a position of trust or authority over them, such as a teacher.  In simple terms, a sixteen year old girl cannot groom a grown man!

What has happened here is that judge Greenberg has simply blamed the victim for having suffered the abuse.  Her comments support massively damaging beliefs that sexual assault, which this was even is it was consensual due to her age, are to blame.  It makes out that victims of assault are in some way leading their attackers on, and that their attackers are only making a lapse of judgement rather than engaging in a heinous crime.

The judge blames the victim, she blames the stress of his wife loosing their child.  She blames everyone and everything other than the one person who is solely to blame for the crime.  If a child comes up to you and flirts with you, you do not 'give in'.  If a child acts provocative around you, you do not 'give in'.  If a child tells you they want to have sex with you, you do not 'give in'.  If a child stands in front of you naked and begs for you to have sex with them you do not 'give in'.

Even if Kerner had only slept with his victim the one time it would not constitute to having been groomed or a lack of judgement, but sleeping with her multiple times over the course of a year, at school, at his home, in her bedroom is massive evidence that he was grooming her.

He found out that one of his students had sexual urges towards him and took advantage of that.  He manipulated her into thinking that it was okay,  He abused his position of trust and responsibility and did something deplorable.  And because of this one judge and their archaic views on sexual assault he gets to walk free.  Yes, he looses his job and has been placed on a sex offenders list, but he deserves a hell of a lot more than that.

As for the judge herself?  She needs to be taught that blaming the victim is never, ever right.  By doing so not only are you telling all victims of sexual assault that it's their fault for what happened to them, you're also telling people that it's okay to rape, to force people into situations they don't want to be in and manipulate children into bed because it won't be your fault, you'll just be 'giving way to temptation'.


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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Why Are Trans Women Treated Like Outcasts in The Feminist Community?

Today I had a brief but slightly worrying conversation with a co-worker, a seventeen year old girl who has just started to study feminism in school and found the subject awful.  Initially shocked that she instantly hated feminism I asked her why, and she told me that it's because feminists are horrible people and began to describe the actions and views held by Radical Feminists.

It was sad to hear that someone so young, who was still basically forming their views on the world found the very idea of feminism an awful concept, purely because of Radical Feminists.  Feminism is something that should effect everyone, male or female.  

Feminism should be about equality for all genders, all people treated equally.  If you want women to get the same pay as men then you're a feminist.  If you think that boys should be able to wear pink without being told it's 'only for girls' then you're a feminist.  If you think girls should be allowed to want to be what they want to be without being told girls 'aren't smart enough for that job' or that they 'would be better as a secretary' then you're a feminist.  If you think men should be allowed more paternity leave to be with their children rather than just the tiny amount they are given then you are a feminist.

Feminism isn't just 'crazy man haters', it's men and women and those in-between who believe everyone should be treated equally.  It's allowing women to be treated with dignity and respect rather than as sex object.  It's about men being allowed to show their feelings and cry rather than being told they have to hide it all.  Feminism should be open to all and something that the whole world aspires towards.

I consider myself a feminist.  I think the world should be made a better place.  I try to challenge sexism and gender stereotypes when I come across them.  But sometimes I'm afraid to say that I'm a feminist.  I've seen a lot of men claim to be feminists, even a friend of mine once proudly stated the fact, and from what I've seen a lot of the feminist community welcomes their support and passion for the cause.  However, as a transgender woman I feel like I can't say I'm a feminist without meeting hostility.

I know that not every feminist is against trans people, but there seems to be a lot of hatred for the trans community in feminism that it makes me scared of sharing that side of myself.  Yes, transphobia comes from a small part of the feminist community, but unfortunately its a very noisy group.

My first real glimpse at some of the hatred and bile within the feminist community towards trans women was the Suzzane Moore/Julie Burchill incident that happened a couple of years ago.

Suzanne Moore wrote an essay on the subject of 'the power of female anger'.  The the piece she made a comment that drew complaints and criticism from the trans community and it's allies.

'We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape—that of a Brazilian transsexual.'

For a lot of non-trans people this comment was sure to have passed straight over their heads, but for those who are trans, who know a little of the struggle that trans women go through would easily find it insensitive and insulting.  Transgender women in Brazil face massive amount of hatred and danger, with many of them facing serious physical harm and the risk of murder.  To use a marginalized group as a flippant metaphor or joke is massively insensitive.

Moore was called out on this behavior, and could have very easily have gotten away with just issuing an apology.  Instead she refused to acknowledge that she had done any wrong, even going so far as to say that if you find the words she uses offensive than it's your fault for having taken offense.  She even issued the following tweet before leaving Twitter in order to escape the backlash she had caused herself.

Suzanne Moore strikes out at the trans community via Twitter.
Things got worse when Moore's friend Julie Burchill decided to get involved.  Writing an article for The Guardian titled 'Transsexuals Should Cut It Out' she proceeded to condemn the trans community for victimizing her poor monstered friend for no reason.  Here are some examples that show the level of hatred she felt towards transgender people.

'I was incredulous to read that my friend was being monstered on Twitter, to the extent that she had quit it, for supposedly picking on a minority – transsexuals. Though I imagine it to be something akin to being savaged by a dead sheep, as Denis Healey had it of Geoffrey Howe, I nevertheless felt indignant that a woman of such style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of dicks in chicks' clothing.'

'To my mind – I have given cool-headed consideration to the matter – a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I'd imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look. That rude and ridic.'

'She, the other JB and I are part of the minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that's a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as 'Cis' – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they're lucky I'm not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.'

'To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don't know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.'

'Shims, shemales, whatever you're calling yourselves these days – don't threaten or bully us lowly natural-born women, I warn you. We may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you, but we've experienced a lifetime of PMT and sexual harassment and many of us are now staring HRT and the menopause straight in the face – and still not flinching. Trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet. You really won't like us when we're angry.'

A very small selection of some of the hatred thrown towards an already marginalised and victimised community by someone that claims to be fighting for women.  As someone who had only at that point recently come to fully understand that I was transgender and was battling to try and live my life as the person I really am I read this article and it filled me with both anger and sadness in equal measure.

Julie Burchill spreads transphobic hate.
I was angry that someone would attack a whole group of people in such a way, to knowingly use hateful words without any apology, to justify the use of the word 'Tranny' by making some weird complaint about the existence of the word cisgender and the fact that you don't like how it sounds.  It made me furious that someone cold be allowed to write a hate piece in such a public and respected place as The Guardian.

Worse than the anger though was the fact that this was someone who fights for women's rights.  Someone who wants women to be treated with the same dignity and respect as men.  To see how someone like that treated the trans community, how much hatred and lack of respect they held made me want to cry.

I never chose to be transgender, I didn't want to go through that struggle, to face that level of hatred and oppression, so as a trans woman who had just began to come to terms with what that meant reading this was crushing.  It gave a very clear message, 'feminists and women will hate you, they will never respect you or see you as a woman and no one has a problem with bombarding you with hate speech.'  

I came to realise that this wasn't the case, that many people were outraged by what Burchill wrote and demanded its removal, but it has already done its damage.  It made me weary and afraid of the feminist community and just reinforced the notion that all feminists are crazy, horrible people who hate anyone not born in a female body.

I began to learn about Radical Feminists, and in particular Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFS, who regard transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women's facilities such as public bathrooms or be allowed to participate in events organised exclusively for women.

'No trans people' events organised by Radical Feminists.
Trans women are women because we know we are, we feel it in our hearts and our souls.  We know it more than anything else in the world.  The knowledge is so strong that even before we're consciously aware of it we suffer.  We feel pain and loneliness and depression without any explanation.  We're not the people on the inside that we're born as on the outside.  To use something of a well known explanation we have womens brains in mens bodies.

Radical feminists reject this whole idea completely out of hand though.  They don't believe in the idea of a 'female brain', they believe that the only differences between men and women are those made by a patriarchal society, and therefore trans people couldn't possibly exist.  If the differences between men and women, other than the physical of course, is only fabricated by society then how could we be real?  Surely we're just deluded men right?

Radical Feminists believe that if you are born male then you are always and forever male, no matter if you live as a woman, undergo surgeries or change your body chemistry.  To them we're always men, with male privilege, and being demanded to be treated as women is just us using that privilege to get what we want.

To Radical Feminists transgender women can never know or experience womanhood.  We can never know what being a woman is really like.  Even if we become the victims of violence and harassment based on our gender expressions, even if it's exactly the same as a cis woman goes through we will never know the pain that women know.  

Some Radical Feminists view trans women as 'infiltrators', posing as women to try and take down feminism from the inside.  They help to perpetuate the horrific ideas that trans women will use their ability to enter womens spaces in order to attack and rape 'real' women.  To them we're worse than men, we're men who mock women by becoming 'caricatures' of them.

So many of the 'great' feminists, pioneers of the movement that are so well known to be almost household names, share these views.  Germaine Greer, Kathy Brennan and Mary Daly are just a few of the high profile feminists who actively spread hate about trans women.

Germaine Greer advocates transphobia and mistreatment of
transgender women.
I picked up a copy of Greers 'The Female Eunuch' in a charity shop, and despite knowing that she is a TERF and that there would more than likely be anti-trans sentiment in the book I chose to get it and read it.  As a feminist, and someone against TERF policies I felt that it was important to not shy away from the works of people like Greer.  What I didn't expect, however, would be just how quickly the transphobia would become apparent.  Not even at the end of the first page, in the damn foreword she attacks trans people referring to us as 'men who mutilate themselves and are given passports as statutory females'.  One page.  One damn page into the book.

A lot of the time it seems like there's just no place for transgender people in society.  

We get treated as a sexual kink and the objects of lewd sexual desire.  People think that because we're their kink that we will always be willing and glad for unwanted sexual advances, of the random dick pics or the sexualised messages.  All the while leaving us questioning if the people who show genuine romantic interest in us are just trying to fulfill some kink or if we could genuinely be loved for who we are.

We have to watch as rapists and murderers are allowed to walk free after claiming 'trans panic' as the reason for the violence that we receive.

We're included in the LGBT community, even though being trans isn't about sex or sexuality but gender.  We have to watch as the other members of that community gain acceptance and rights and we're left behind.

We stand alone as women flock together to fight for equal rights, equal pay and acceptance, all the while we're being told we don't belong to with them, while the men don't want anything to do with us either.  Left alone in limbo between genders, not accepted as either.

Feminists fight for equality for all, for all.  There are over 3 billion women on the planet.  We're the biggest oppressed group in the world.  Imagine what we could do if the infighting stopped, if the hatred and prejudice ended.  

Transgender women are women too.  We're real women.  We might not experience every aspect of womanhood that you cisgender women do, but we've had to fight through oppression and injustice just as much as you have.  Maybe even more.  Stop pushing us away, stop adding to the pain that we have to deal with.  Just accept us for who we are.  Sisters, struggling in this world just like you.


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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Reddit Users Invent New Sexuality 'Highsexual' for 'Temporarily Gay' Pot Smokers

Reddit users have invented a new type of sexuality for people who get 'a little gay' when they smoke weed, 'Highsexal'.

A thread appeared on the forum discussing the strange occurrence of cannabis smokers displaying gay behaviour when high.  he author of the threat wrote 'I'm quite a hardcore pothead, I feel very attracted to girls and not at all to men when sober, but when I get high I just want a big cock to suck.'

'Anyone else happen to have the same effects?  Just curiosity, not that it really bothers me since I'm still attracted to girls while high, but I sometimes feel weirded by male friends with whom I don't usually feel attracted to.'

During the conversation that ensued one user came out with the phrase 'Highsexual' and spoke very positively and open minded about the whole prospect.  'You sir, are possibly a Highsexual.  If the parties are down and on the same wavelength, whatever.  When it has occurred it's never been a big deal.'

A number of users who have commented on the post have been very positive on the subject, encouraging the original poster to consider the possibility that he is bisexual rather than straight or gay and that there is nothing wrong with the prospect at all.

Despite the strangeness of the term 'Highsexual' I think that it's a good thing that people are being encouraged to explore their sexuality and not made to feel ashamed.  If getting high makes you want to explore your sexuality and other participants are open and comfortable with it too then go crazy everyone, explore what feels right for you and become comfortable with yourself.


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Guy Gamers Lose Their Shit Over Scantily Clad Final Fantasy Hero

Fans of RPG's, and Final Fantasy specifically, have been getting excited by the recent announcement by Square Enix 'Mevius Final Fantasy', a smartphone game that they are claiming will rival the scale of a console game.

Their description for the game goes as follows;

You wake up in an unfamiliar world, without any memories whatsoever. Where you came from, let alone where you’re headed, you have no idea, yet all you can do is set forth and walk onward. A mysterious voice calls out to you, guiding you along your path.
“This country is the land of Paramatia, a place bereft of any hope. Its people wander in melancholy, their hearts untouched by the Light of Hope.”

Sounds good right?  The fans certainly thought so.  Then Square Enix released some images of the game's protagonist and there were some less than positive reactions.

Where final fantasy is used to presenting their male leads as cool and stoic (think Cloud or Squall) they have a history of putting their female characters in more revealing outfits (the whole cast of Final Fantasy X-2 anyone?).  This time however they've chosen to put their male character in a costume that shows off a lot of skin.

The new Final Fantasy character.
Whilst this kind of costume is hardly a rare occurrence in Final Fantasy it's something that the developers would normally put onto a female character, something that it's fans have been used to seeing for years.  So no one wold have a problem with seeing this right?

Actually no, male fans are up in arms over the way the character looks.  What they're fine with seeing women wearing has somehow become unacceptable for a man.

Some of the outcry from male gamers.
It would appear that after countless games that show women in armour like this, and even skimpier, it's this one example that finally pushes it too far.  So why is that?  Is it one too far?  Is it that as an audience gamers have finally said enough is enough, we're not going to keep looking at these unrealistic and sexualised examples of character designs?  No.  No it's not.

The problem people, and by people I mean guys, are having is that they are finally on the receiving end of what the games industry has done to women for years.  Lara Croft, Bayonetta, Quiet, Jade and Kitana, Ivy Valentine, to name but a tiny handful.  But now that a man is being depicted in the same way suddenly it's inappropriate and wrong.

Women have had to deal with this issue for years.
You know what guys?  If you can stare at scantily clad women and find it fine, but think that it's wrong for a guy to be sexualised then you're an idiot.  What's more, you're just down right sexist.  You can't ignore the wishes and complaints of women for so long and then make the same arguments yourself because you suddenly feel uncomfortable.

Stop being sexist and insecure.  You can't have it one way for female characters and anther for male characters.  It either has to end as a whole or you just have to live with it too.


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Saturday, 3 January 2015

US Distributors Remove all References to Homosexuality From 'Pride' DVD

The cast of 'Pride' celebrate the success of the film.
In a surprise move by American distributors all references to homosexuality have been removed from the US DVD cover for the critically acclaimed film 'Pride'.

The widely successful film tells the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists, whom in 1984 rallied to support striking miners in Thatchers Britain.

The US cover for the film, however, has made a number of changes that completely remove all references to homosexuality in the story.

The newly altered version of the synopsis reads,

'Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story.  It's the summer of 1984 and much of blue-collar Britain is on strike.  For one tiny Welsh village, the strike brings unexpected visitors - a group of London-based activists who decide to raise money to support strikers families and want to make their donation in person.'

Compare this to the original version of the synopsis and it's quite clear just what's missing,

'Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story.  It's the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers families.  Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person.'

Add to this, one of the main images on the back of the DVD case features a group of activist holding a banner that reads 'Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners' has been digitally altered and the sign has been completely removed.

Original unaltered image.
Gay free version of the image.
This obvious attempt to hide what the core focus of the film is about, and in a way edit away a part of history is completely baffling.  Anyone who actually watches the film will become quickly aware that the film contains a heavy LGBT theme.

There are only really two outcomes I see from removing all the references to homosexuality, one is that people in the LGBT community and their supporters might miss out on the film because they're not fully aware that the films content is something that would interest them.  Secondly, people will pick up the film with no knowledge of the LGBT content and be taken by surprise when they're suddenly faced by it.

I don't know what the intention of the distributors is, whether they want to hide the fact that half the cast in the film are playing gay and lesbian characters so that the film falls under the radar and slips into obscurity in America, or if they are trying to sneakily get people who are against LGBT culture to end up buying a film that shows LGBT activists in a positive light.

Either option is possible, and there are negative consequences to both scenarios.  Whatever their intention I believe that it was wrong.  To not only remove reference to homosexuality from the synopsis, but to edit the images on the cover is just wrong.  The film is trying to tell an amazing, real life story of a part of the LGBT community and should be represented in that way.  It just seems like another example of censorship gone completely mad, with a one sided view dictating policy.  Ironically, much like the mad censorship laws in the era of Britain the film is depicting.


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Friday, 2 January 2015

Was it Right to Share Leelah's Suicide Note?

I've seen a number of commentators condemn the sharing of Leelah Alcorn's suicide not over the last twenty four hours.  Ranging from people who don't want conversion therapy to be banned, to defencive Christians who believe that it could damage their religion, to trans supporters who don't want her note to urge others into taking their own life.

The thing is, Leelah chose to share her letter on the Internet, on a public forum rather than some hand written note that would have been quickly destroyed and denied by her parents.  Leelah wanted the world to know who she really was and the horrors that her parents made her face.  We wouldn't have known this if it wasn't for her suicide note being shared.  Her mothers comment about her 'son' being accidentally hit by a truck would have been the only version of the story known to the world.

Even if some people were aware that Leelah was trans and chose to share that news, to suggest that perhaps she hadn't died in an accident she's be just another name on this years list of people we read on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Her story could have easily faded away into the background, just another horrible statistic.

By sharing Leelah's note her story has gone viral.  The trans community has banded together behind her memory, allies have lent their support, the media have been sharing her story (mostly in very trans positive ways).  #RealLiveTransAdult has appeared on Twitter and is full of beautiful, encouraging stories of trans people who are surviving to try and help those who need encouragement.  Her suicide note has made Leelah become an icon, she's become the face of transgender suicide.

Not the best thing to be known for granted, however, if that memory can be used to help other, to stop conversion therapy and make people aware of the torment that transgender youth go through then it can be made into something beautiful.

I read her suicide note and it made me cry.  It hurt so much to read those words.  But then it made me angry.  It made me want to never have to read another note like that again.  Her words spurred me to share her story, to sign the petitions, to write about her.  It made me pass her story on her, to give her memory a chance to live on through other people.

I never knew Leelah, but I cried for her, I want justice for her and I want her to be the last one we loose.  That was because of her suicide note.  She was right to share her goodbye with the world, and all those of us that have shared it were right too.  By staying silent we would let her memory fade, we would let her parents and people like them win.

So if someone asks you if it was right for her suicide note to be shared I hope you will join me in saying 'Yes, it was more than right.  It was needed.'


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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Making Leelah's Death Mean Something

In a heartbreaking and emotional suicide note teenager Leelah Alcorn pleads with the world to make sure that other transgender teens never have to go through the hell that drove her to take her own life.

Aged just seventeen, Leelah was a victim of insidious abuse and hatred based solely on the fact that she was transgender, but not from her peers, not from strangers, but from her own family.  People that were supposed to love her and care for her unconditionally put her through so much emotional torment that the only way she knew to stop it was to take her own life.

On Sunday Leelah left her home early in the morning and walked four miles to the Interstate 71 where she waited for a semi-truck to pass before stepping out in front of it.  Despite initial claims from her mother saying that it was an accident a Leelah had arranged for a suicide to appear on her tumblr blog 'Satan's Wifey' in the event that she died.  The message it left was very clear.

'If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society.
(Leelah) Josh Alcorn'
Leelah wasn't simply killed in an accident, but that it was the reaction from her family, and the torment that they put her through that pushed her to step in front of that truck.  Forced into isolation by being denied access to her friends, to social media and being made to go to Christian counsellors that told her she was wrong and selfish pushed her to do what she did.

I'd like to be able to say that Leelah is a rare case, but I can't.  The rate of suicides for transgender people, and transgender teens in particular are staggering.  Leelah wasn't alone in her situation, she wasn't the only person in the world having to face the fear of understanding that she was born into the wrong body and she wasn't the only person being forced to 'seek help' from people who have no intention of helping her.  The problem was her parents made her feel alone.

Leelah was isolated, she was seperated from people who could have given her support and advice.  She was made to feel like there was no way for her to win, that she would always be in pain for the rest of her life.  She said that in her case things wouldn't get better, but she was wrong.  We've seen the floods of messages on Twitter that prove that things do get better.  #RealLiveTransAdult shows that, and I truly hope that it can help others in Leelah's situation.

We were too late to save Leelah, we couldn't help her but maybe we can stop this from happening again.  Go and share the stories from #RealLiveTransAdult.  Sign the petition to pass Leelah's Law.  Challenge people that accuse trans people of being 'wrong' or 'selfish'.  Stop conversion therapy.  Please, do anything you can to stop this horrible tragedy from happening to other vulnerable children.  Please, don't just let Leelah be just another horrible statistic, make her death mean something.  Make this the last one.


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