Monday, 29 June 2015

Start Fighting For Trans Rights

This has been an amazing week for the LGB community.  The Supreme Court of the United States of America has made same-sex marriage a constitutional right across all 50 states, ushering in celebrations across the US and even across the globe.  It's been a historic moment for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, and I don't want to take anything away from this massive achievement, but this week has also been pretty shitty for the oft forgotten letter, T.

In the same week that same-sex marriage became a right a transgender woman who established the multiple gender options on Facebook was banned from the site for using 'the wrong name', Jannicet Gutierrez, a transgender LGBT Immigrant Rights Activist was ejected from the Whitehouse, the Family Research Council released an official document stating that trans people are mentally ill and need curing.  The week before 18 year old Laura Vermont was chased and murdered by police in Sao Paulo, two trans women were jailed in Malaysia simply for existing, Fox news blamed trans people for the shooting in Charleston, the pope officially condemned trans people.  I could go on.

In a time where the LGBT community are celebrating a historic moment, amongst hundreds of pride festivals all around the world people are forgetting that it's not the LGBT community who are succeeding at the moment, it's the LGB community.  Once again the T are being left behind.

Yes, I will admit that things are getting better for us, Laverne Cox has become the first trans woman to become a wax work, and she and Janet Mock are all over the media and magazine covers.  Transparent is winning awards and more and more trans characters are being used in film and television as something other than murder victim, sex worker or killers.  This is all good, but this is all miles behind the rest of the LGBT community.

The biggest problem though isn't that things aren't getting better for the trans community, it's that they're not getting better quick enough, and when we call out for help, or try to bring these injustices to light we are often told to be quiet.  The same day that same-sex marriage became legal in the us I saw people being tweeted abuse because they were calling for the next goal to be to the benefit of the trans community.  They were being told that they were trying to ruin the celebrations, or that they weren't 'working with' the community towards LGBT goals.

But to be honest, are a lot of the LGBT goals beneficial to trans people?  Yes, marriage equality is amazing, but why is trans panic still being used as a legitimate defence against murdering transgender people?  And why is it still working?  Why is it gay, lesbian and bisexual people can serve in the military, yet transgender people face discharge, even if they are war heroes?

Gay and lesbian rights are decades ahead of transgender rights, but every time we ask the rest of our 'community' for help we get silenced.

Maybe we're being too demanding for them, maybe they feel like a group who is about gender shouldn't be together with groups that are about sexuality, maybe they like having people that they can look down on and feel sorry for because they're worse off than them.  Whatever the reasoning for it this refusal to help trans people needs to end.

Transgender people are dieing.  We're being murdered.  We're killing ourselves.  We feel like those outside of the LGBT community don't support us, and a lot of times it feels like people in the LGBT community don't either.

It might seem like I'm intentionally being negative, or trying to underplay what was just achieved, but that's not what I want to do.  I love the fact that America has marriage equality, but we need to move on from that celebration onto the next fight, hopefully one that will help the transgender community in a big way.


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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Transphobic Words Kill; Stop Using Them

There’s a very disturbing reality to being part of a minority, not just transgender but any group that has been oppressed throughout the course of history, there will be words designed to hurt you, belittle you and further that oppression. 

It’s something that goes back as far as human history, as long as there has been more than one group words will be used to degrade others, especially to those not in power.  Every single one of you is aware of these kinds of situations, a lot of you will be witness to it, some of you will be victims to it, and sadly some of you will be some of the people who have taken part in that oppression.

Whether its women being called bitches, people of colour being called niggers, homosexuals being called faggots or transgender people being called trannies it doesn’t matter, it’s all oppression and hate speech and it all has to stop.

Thankfully, for the most part at least, the civilised world will recognise that a lot of these phrases and more are wrong.  Society as a whole has tried to destroy racist language, made it punishable to use those words.  People are moving forward with the erasure of homophobic language suck as dyke or fairy.  Most of the world is opening their eyes that such things are wrong and calling in to account those who say them.

However, there’s one area where this kind of oppressive language seems to be so much more prevalent, where people not only openly use these foul insults, but get the support of the general public when those offended call them out. 

 I’m talking about the open use of transphobic language. 

Now I know what some of you are going to be thinking, ‘here’s another trans person saying that they’ve got it worse, that they’re being oppressed when there’s so many other people being targeted for so many other things’.  You’re right, to a certain extent.  I’m calling out the overt use of transphobic language because as a trans person I’m subject to it, not only in my personal life but in the reports I see in the media or stories my friends tell me.  I’m not by any means saying that the problem exists only for the trans community, it’s just the community I can speak the best about due to first-hand experience.

The level of oppression you suffer isn’t a competition, I’m not going to say trans people have it the worst.  All I’m saying is that it’s pretty bad for us.  At the time of the writing of this article the rate of transgender murder stands at one death every 29 hours, and 47% of trans people attempting suicide, and I feel that the open use of transphobic slurs is a major contributing factor to this culture of murder and suicide.

Something that I found absolutely shocking when I came out was the amount of people who had no idea what words were and weren’t acceptable to use when talking to or about trans people.  I had friends, very open minded left wing friends, who didn’t know that tranny was a slur word.

I think that a lot of the problem comes from the fact that people in places of influence freely use words that should never be used in reference to a trans person without any repercussions or punishment.  I’m talking about how celebrities make comments about ‘trannies’ and ‘she-male’ for cheap laughs.  I’m talking about how we’re always portrayed as overtly masculine men in cocktail dresses and big wigs.  I’m talking about how we’re shown to be sex workers, killers or murder victims. 

The media and those who work in it are given free rein to put the transgender community in the poorest light possible, that whenever they’re challenged on it we’re the ones being unreasonable.  Whenever a trans person calls out on this kind of inequality we’re at best ‘trolls’ or ‘haters’ trying to cause trouble, or worse we’re ‘freaks’ and ‘mentally disturbed men’ trying to cause harm.

You don’t need to look far to see those kinds of reactions.  There are anti-transgender bathroom bills being lobbied based on the accusation that transgender women will attempt to sexually assault women if we are allowed into female rest rooms, despite evidence to the contrary.  If anything it’s infinitely more dangerous for trans women to be forced into male only spaces as that’s how we get assaulted and murdered.

When trans people want positive representation it’s for attention or fame.  When someone famous transitions they get told that they’re doing it to further their career or for money.  Our whole identities and state of mind are called into question and insulted.  I’ve seen news articles call us ‘freaks’, ‘delusional’, ‘self-mutilators’.  I’ve seen news reporters laugh and tell transphobic jokes whilst ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’ plays in the background.  And once again every time it’s complained about we’re being ‘too sensitive’ or ‘oppressive’.

People site that they have a freedom of speech, which they should be free to express their own opinions, and they’re right, they totally do have that right.  But there is a massive difference between free speech and hate speech.  When your opinion is that people of a certain minority should have their rights taken away, should be locked into institutions or put to death that’s not free speech, that’s hatred and oppression and it needs to be stopped.

That’s the problem though in a nut shell, nowhere near enough people are saying that these things are problems.  The trans community and their allies call bullshit on these things but because that voice is too small we’re vilified.  The majority control the perceptions of others.  They can spin situations to their liking and manipulate the views of those on the outside.  Those people calling us trannies or shemales or shims are the majority.  They’re the ones telling the world that it’s okay to do so.

So many people will look at this and say ‘but it’s not my problem’ or ‘I’m fighting another fight at the minute’, I’ve even once been told that we need to fight for equal rights ‘one group at a time’.  The problem with that though is that if people don’t speak out about inequality, or think that one cause is more important than another nothing is ever going to change. 

Minorities are small, those who oppress us are the bigger group, so of course we can’t beat them if we’re trying to do it on our own.  We need to work together to fight this.  Together those minorities make a bigger majority than those who have power over us.  Don’t let those who oppress us tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.  If a minority group is saying that something is offensive or oppressive then listen to them, add your voice to theirs.

Standing by someone saying that it’s okay to insult and disrespect trans people because they have political power, or you’re a fan of theirs, or because they support the LGBT community is allowing hatred and oppression.  If you see it and you don’t speak out then you’re no better than those who oppress us.  If anything you’re worse because at least they’re standing for something, even if it is wrong.

If I see inequality or hate I speak out against it.  It doesn’t matter to me if it’s my fight or not.  I won’t let racism go unchallenged just because I’m white.  I’m not going to let ageism go unchallenged because I’m young.  I’m not going to let ableism to unchallenged because I’m able bodied.  We’re all human beings, no matter what differences set us aside.  We need to help and support each other even if we don’t think it’s our fight because one day you might be fighting your own battle and be in need of the support of others.

Please, please I beg you stop the use of transphobic slurs.  Challenge those you see do it, and if you’ve done it in the past stop now.  You may not understand transgender people, you may not even approve of us, but please acknowledge the basic concept that we’re human beings.  We have feelings, we feel pain and those actions hurt us.

47% attempt suicide.  One murder every 29 hours.  Those numbers should scare you.  They should make you feel ashamed.  Now think too that trans people only make up less than 1% of the worlds’ population and death that rate should horrify you.

Casual transphobia adds to those figures.  It contributes to the murder and suicide rate.  It’s part of the reason the life expectancy of trans people in their mid-thirties.  Our lives are in danger every day, every time we step out of our door.  Help us.  Please.  Stand up with us and say enough is enough.  It doesn’t matter who you are, black, white, straight, gay, rich, poor, transphobia is never right and never excusable.  Your words hurt, your words kill.  Enough is enough.


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Doctor Who and Arrow Star John Barrowman Tells Offended Trans Community To 'Lighten Up' After Using The Word 'Tranny'

Openly gay actor John Barrowman has come under fire from members of the trans community once again for comments he made in October last year in which he used the slur word 'tranny', then telling members of the transgender community who were offended to 'lighten up'.

The argument originally started in October when Barrowman used the term in a behind the scenes video for popular comic book television series 'Arrow' in which he used the phrase 'tranny-tastic'.  This spurred multiple complaints, news articles and blog pieces about the incident in which Barrowman was called out for using a slur word when he claims to be an ally of the transgender community.

After the incident Barrowman released a Q&A video where he directly addressed the complaints, stating that he felt that there was nothing wrong with using the term tranny, used it several more times there and then, and even went on to say that those people who were offended were just 'haters'.

The argument has been reignited once again, however, when a Twitter user called Barrowman out on his unapologetic use of a term that has been used to degrade and humiliate the trans community.  Barrowman's response was less than satisfactory to say the least.

Barrowman's response of still dodging any acknowledgement that he is in the wrong stirred a whole string of critical responses from members of the trans community.

As you can see things got quite heated, the full chain of tweets is available for viewing on Twitter right now and makes for some pretty amazing reading.  Amazing not because of the outcry against Barrowman, but the number of fans who rose to his defence, claiming that because he's a supporter of the LGBT community he should get a free pass to use the word Tranny, or that the trans community are the ones in the wrong for finding offense with his words.

Barrowman was quick to defend himself, stating that 'In general no one know my struggles or a lot of my history so be careful when u judge and throw daggers'.  Eventually the argument seemed to get too much for Barrowman and he sent out a tweet asking those people who are upset with his actions to 'fuck off'.

The problem with situations like this is that it occurs when one side refuses to budge.  I'm not talking about the trans community not backing down as he and his fans call for, that would be wrong.  It's Barrowman himself that needs to back down here.  he needs to step back, acknowledge that he spoke out of turn, made offence where it was not his intention and apologise.  If he had done that to begin with this whole thing would have been forgotten.

Instead what we have is one of the biggest LGBT stars in the western world, with massive fan bases both in Europe and America, saying that it's okay to use the word Tranny.  He's showing people that you can be an active supporter of the LGBT community but still get away with abusing trans people.

By not acknowledging that what he has said is wrong or offensive he's belittling a whole section of the LGBT community.  Perhaps he's more of an LGB supporter than an LGBT supporter.

What really angers me though is that people are defending him.  He's being forgiven by so many people.  If he had turned around and said faggot or nigger would the world be so quick to defend his right to use those words?  Would he himself hear the term faggot and think 'well that's okay for that person to say that'?  No, he'd challenge it, and people would be behind him.

No, this is just another example of how when push comes to shove the trans community are seen as a joke.  Our feelings mean nothing.  Our rights don't count.  Our safety doesn't matter.  People should be free to insult us at the drop of a hat without any repercussions.  We should be ignored and vilified when we speak out about injustices. 

If everyone followed John Barrowmans example as an 'ally' then the world would be an even more terrible place for transgender people.  With an ally like this who the hell needs enemies?


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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Blogger Matt Walsh Attacks Caitlyn Jenner & The Trans Community in Hate Filled Article

Today I came across an article published through The Blaze in which an absolutely disgusting 'professional truth sayer' named Matt Walsh goes on a long rant about how trans women should never be considered women, makes baseless claims that post-op trans people are so disturbed by what they have done that they commit suicide and even compares being transgender to being mentally ill.

Now, I'm having to bite my tongue (bite my fingers?) as I write this, as this is no place for the kind of language I want to use to describe Matt Walsh, so please bear with me for a moment as I try to get out most of the worst words I want to use as I describe this sack of shit, scumbag, sub human cunt. 

Right, now that that's out of the way I'm going to go into why I've had that kind of reaction.

First of all Matt Walsh refuses to use the correct pronouns anywhere in his article, or Caitlyn's name.  Instead every time he refers to her he calls her 'he' and 'him' and 'Bruce'.  Not once does Walsh even use the name Caitlyn, even in a horrible way, not even as 'Caitlyn', no, any reference to Caitlyn's identity is to as 'Bruce's alter ego'.  The blatant disregard for Caitlyn's identity and choice of pronouns is an absolutely disgusting attack on who she is.

I wish that were all that was wrong with the article, but just within the first few paragraphs Walsh is describing the image of Caitlyn as 'disturbing',a 'tragic sight' and 'a mentally disordered man'.  That's one that Walsh really likes.  He continually refers to Caitlyn and transgender people as having mental disorders.  He equates being transgender to being schizophrenic, that Caitlyn is simply another identity living inside 'Bruce' Jenner, and that one day the psychological toll will be too much and Caitlyn will commit suicide like every other trans woman.

Oh yes, he makes claims that 'post-op 'transgenders' very often regret their decision, and in many cases attempt suicide'.  A claim that he can produce no evidence to back up.  Sure, as a member of the trans community I will freely admit that the suicide rate for trans people is massively, depressingly high, but if you look at those people who do take their own lives it's because they can't transition, or because they're suffering horrific abuse.  I'm struggling to think of many trans people who are living their lives as their true selves and find that so terrible that they take their own lives.  No, the trans women who are living as their true selves are more likely to have their lives taken away from them by filth such as Walsh.

But throughout all of this attack on Caitlyn and the trans community he claims to not be doing so from a place of hatred, but of love and concern for life.  He believes that by supporting and helping trans people, by congratulating Caitlyn on her transition and praising her society is putting lives in danger.  After all, someone getting to finally be themselves and live happy is such a terrible crime against life that it should be discouraged at all costs!

If you put Walsh's argument down to one point though, the single thing that started him off on his whole campaign of hate it's this, he believes that sex and gender are the same thing.  He truly believes that the body someone is born into is the same as their gender identity, and any claims by people that they feel otherwise is simply a mental delusion.

Matt Walsh is absolutely, completely, 100% wrong.  Gender and sex are not the same thing, not even a million miles close to being the same.  All he would have to do is talk to the thousands of health care and scientific professionals in the world that know even a little about it and they would tell him the same.  But no!  No damn it!  You were born with a penis so you must be a man!  Anything else is just madness!

He tries to support these ridiculous claims by stating 'a woman is a woman because of her capacity to create life and harbour it in her body until birth'.  So sorry to all those ladies out there who can't for various reasons have children, but I guess you're not women either.  After all, if you can't breed what's the point in you being a woman, you might as well join us 'things' that 'think we're female'.

He even goes on to claim that all feminists hate trans people, that the idea of transgender people goes against what feminists believe, that 'Transgenderism and feminism cannot coexist'.  He throws around ideas like 'neurosexism' like they are proven fact, without explaining that it's just a theory, and a theory that not all feminists believe in.

Yes there are some feminists who believe as Walsh does, that trans women aren't women, that neurosexism means that any 'man' who claims to be a woman is simply a man trying to 'invade women's spaces' or 'mock the idea of womanhood', but not every feminist believes this.  Hell, most don't.  I've had some run ins with these TERF's, but for the most part I've found the feminist community accepting and supporting.  But I guess Walsh knows best about feminism, being a man makes him right after all.

One of the things that really makes my blood boil in the article though is where at the end Walsh states that 'we all know the truth', that no straight man anywhere would ever want to be romantically involved with a transgender woman.  'Instinctively, when it comes down to it, where your life and love are concerned, you recognise the difference between a biological woman in all her glory, and a castrated man in all his derangement'.

Well Matt, as a transgender woman who has a male partner (as well as a female one but that's not really the point here I'm just bragging a little) I've found that to be absolutely incorrect.  I have a man in my life who is interested in me romantically and doesn't give one shit how I was born.  And I'm not alone in that either.  There are countless relationships out there between men and trans women are are perfectly happy, and countless more men who are interested in trans women but wont admit to it because of people like you.  So fuck your theory.

If anything I can't help but feel that that last claim that no man every would be interested in trans women comes from a place of deep seated shame, probably because Matt spends his evenings crying himself to sleep after furiously masturbating to trans porn.  A classic sign of someone trying to deflect suspicion away from themselves maybe?

Matt Walsh is hateful scum, it's as simple as that.  He's lashing out at the trans community because of fear and having no understanding of who the trans community are.  Instead of trying to learn and understand he's retreating into fear and hatred, and trying to get others to join him their.  How a man like that sleeps at night is a complete mystery to me.


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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Strange Double Standard of Celebrating Caitlyn Jenner - Why Appearance Shouldn't Matter

As I'm sure you are all very much aware the Internet, newspapers and television shows have been awash with reports and articles on the newly revealed Caitlyn Jenner, the name that the gold medal winning athlete born as 'Bruce' Jenner has chosen to live by, and her Vanity Fair cover.  Now, I'm sure that this article will get lost within the tidal wave of other stories centred around Caitlyn, but to hell with it, I'm saying my piece too.

So, Catilyn looks amazing in her Vanity Fair cover.  It's pretty simple, and seems to be fairly unanimous.  She looks absolutely stunning for a woman of sixty five, though from someone so physically fit as she is it any real wonder?  People have been singing her praises, saying that she's beautiful, stunning, all those great words used to describe an attractive woman, but it would seem that the heavy use of these words in peoples reactions have sparked something of a debate.

I'm not talking about all those horrid people out there who refuse to see Caitlyn as a woman and intentionally misgender her or worse, there's always going to be people like that whenever the word transgender is even uttered.  No, what I'm referring to is the debate over how some trans women, and specifically Caitlyn in this case, are gaining massive praise for their physical beauty.

It might sound strange but some people are arguing that Caitlyn as met with so much praise and acceptance because of her physical beauty.  Now lets be honest, in the world of the rich and famous and celebrity we all know that people in the spotlight will sometimes go to drastic measures to maintain their physical beauty because that's what 'society' says women should do, and Caitlyn certainly has the money to do it.

Has she 'had work done'?  Yes, she probably has, but that shouldn't matter.  Hell, what she looks like shouldn't matter a toss, but it does.  It's worth noting that whilst in the last few days her physical appearance has been massively praised it wasn't that long ago that Caitlyn was being mocked and ridiculed, with people in the media making jokes about what she might look like once she'd transitioned.  But, now that she's pretty all those jokes have been forgotten and she's being celebrated.

The problem is though , that for a lot of trans women those jokes don't just go away.  Society has put such high standards on female beauty and 'what makes some one a woman' that some transgender people never reach that stage of 'oh she's so beautiful'.  It's especially hard for those members of the transgender community who don't want to embody the 'female standard'.

Society has made certain hoops that people have to jump through to prove their femininity and their womanhood.  We have to look a certain way, sound a certain way, dress a certain way and act a certain way.  The problem is that invasive in everyday life that it's not just trans women who suffer from these impossible standards but cis women too.  Every woman struggles to meet these standards.

The thing is though whilst not every cis woman is going to match these 'standards of being a woman' they still get accepted as women.  They might end up being called 'tom-boyish' or 'butch' or any other word used to single out those who don't fit into this standard, but they're still women.  When a trans woman fails to fall into this standard though they're not seen as women anymore, we're seen as 'things', as 'its'.

I'm nowhere near the end of my physical transition, there are some aspects of myself that are still so male that it makes me sick, and as such I've been subjected to ridicule because of it.  I've been intentionally misgendered because of the deepness of my voice or five o'clock shadow I have towards the end of the day.  I'm sure every trans person reading this has had some kind of similar experience at some point during their transition where they have been subjected to these harsh restrictions of being considered a 'real' female.

Caitlyn Jenner is a beautiful woman yes, and that's great for her, but her being a woman shouldn't be contingent upon that.  She was a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair in her white corset, she was a woman when she had her interview with Diane Sawyer in her men's shirt and she was still a woman when she won the gold medal in her running gear.  Her gender is based on who she is, not what she looks like and society need to start seeing it this way.

There are many hundreds of thousands of trans women in the world who are in the same situation as Caitlyn, bar one very important difference, money.  Caitlyn had the money to help her become the woman she knew she was.  She was able to meet those standards that society says she needs to, but so many trans women don't.  There are the trans women who can't afford facial feminisation surgery, there are trans women who can't afford breast augmentation and there are trans women who can't afford hair removal.  But they are still women.  Each and every one of them.  It's worth remembering that whilst we are celebrating Caitlyn's reveal we should be celebrating her bravery and her getting to be herself, not how much she 'fits in' or how 'real' she looks.

I know that I'm not going to change any of these standards, that even together a group of us wouldn't be able to do it, it's too far rooted into the world.  But we can start to change things.  We can start accepting people for who they are without relying on their outside appearance to match a particular guideline. 

When I first came out as transgender I had some amazing friends who immediately started using the name Amy and female pronouns despite me looking nothing like a woman.  They treated me as female, they talked to me like I was a woman and they didn't hide it when there were other people around.  They accepted me for who I really was and made others around them do the same even though I didn't look like the person I really was.

These actions were so amazingly powerful that I can't begin to describe the positive effect that it had on me, especially at such an early stage in my journey to be the person I really am.  I found acceptance and love that didn't rely on anything but being the person I really was.  Those friends of mine were amazing for what they did, and a lot of people can learn a lot by following their example and throwing away their standards on what 'makes someone' male or female.

Amy Walker.

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