Sunday, 31 July 2016

5 Thoughts On Pride

I've been away for a while, as my readers can probably tell from my lack of activity of late (sorry for that), and part of my holiday was going to Norwich Pride.  This was my second time at Norwich Pride, having attended it last year, and I couldn't help but notice that a few things were different over what I saw during the 2015 event.

Things Got Bigger

Last years Norwich Pride was my first ever Pride event, and I was awed by the experience if so many different LGBT+ people coming together and celebrating the diversity and amazing strength of our community.

I'd never see so many LGBT+ people in one place together before and the experience was strangely profound, it made me realise that despite my partners and I, and even some of my friends being LGBT+ we were part of a larger community; that there were so many more people like us in the world.

This years event was so much bigger than the previous one though, to the point where the organisers had to change the plan to accommodate the increased attendance.    The crowds were phenomenal, and the amount of people there wearing rainbows, waving various flags or carrying banners and signs was breathtaking.

At the time I was so in awe of the amount of people and the different parts of the community being represented that I didn't question why there was an increase in numbers.  Perhaps it was the simple fact that the event had attracted more people from further afield, or that people who had attended previously brought friends and family along.

I can't help but feel it might be more than that though.  Things have changed a lot over the last year alone for the LGBT+ community.  More rights have been won, more prominent members of the LGBT+ community are speaking out on important issues, the general public are becoming more aware of our struggles and our victories, and we've suffered horrendous tragedies.  Surely all of these things have made a difference to the LGBT+ community.

I believe that now, more than ever, people are coming out, people are embracing their identities, and most importantly, celebrating them.  You only need to look at the global reaction to the horrendous crime that was committed upon our community in Orlando to see that people are coming together in the face of LGBT+ struggles to celebrate how amazing our community is.

I don't think that the increase in attendance at this particular event is by chance, or that it is a one off.  Our community is strong, we are vocal and proud and we stand tall together to show that at each and every Pride event.

Rise of the Pansexuals

When we attended Norwich Pride last year my girlfriend was wearing her pansexual flag, and was one of only a handful at the event.  She even had another person come up to her and start chatting to her because they too were pan and were glad to meet another person like them.  There was also little to no merchandise aimed at the pansexual community at any of the stalls or traders.

This year was completely different.  There were dozens of pansexual flags being worn, and people dressed in outfits in the colours.  Stall were selling pan flags, necklaces, bracelets and other merchandise.  It was a complete turnaround from the year before.

This change was also related to something else that I had noticed too, that there was much less of a presence from the bisexual community.

Where the year before there was huge amounts of people representing the bisexual community and very little of the pansexual community, this year it was switched.

Being a member of the pansexual community myself I know that pansexuals can often clash with members of the bisexual community, especially as pansexuality seems to be a relatively new subculture within the LGBT+ community.

From my own personal experiences I have found that people who consider themselves to be bisexual will often change their label to pansexual when they learn about that particular community.  Myself, some of my friends, and even my partners all used to call ourselves bisexual because we were attracted to people of all genders.  However, when we learnt of the term pansexual, and how it differs from bisexual, we all changed our labels.

It's possible that as people are becoming more aware of the pansexual handle that more and more bisexuals are moving from one community to the other, quite possibly as more people are becoming aware of gender diversity and that gender exists on a spectrum rather than a binary.

I can't help but feel that this shift in the numbers of bisexual and pansexual people is surely a good thing and shows that people's understanding and acceptance of gender variance is growing on a whole, and that more people are becoming accepting of people outside of the gender binary.


At last years event there was an individual who protesting the Pride march with a crucifix and shouting bible verse.  Whilst he was back again, this time walking around the event looking very terrified surrounded by so many LGBT+ people, this years event also included several other members of the church, though not in protest.

Just walking around the event I encountered a group of four members of the church, three male and one female vicars, sporting rainbows and covered in stickers supporting the LGBT+ community.  They were visiting stalls and talking with people from all kinds of backgrounds.  As someone who often sees stories about how members of religious communities speak out against the LGBT+ community I was so pleasantly surprised to see members of the church coming to celebrate alongside the LGBT+ community.

It might not seem like much, but just a handful of people from a group that so often speaks out against the LGBT+ community standing with us was so uplifting.

Things Got Political

Some people make comments that being part of the LGBT+ community is a political statement, which is completely stupid.  However, politics and the LGBT+ community and their struggles do go hand in hand, especially when some political parties hold such polarising views on LGBT+ equality.

This year I couldn't help but notice that there were more members of political parties present at the event, and that there was a little bit of rivalry between them as they tried to win over supporters to their parties.

I got handed leaflets by the Labur Party which highlighted the fact that Labour have supported LGBT+ rights a lot more than the conservatives, saw people going round the event asking people if they supported certain parties.  It was the first time that I'd seen political parties making a big effort with having a bigger presence at a Pride event.

We even had members of LGBTory (yes, the Conservative Party LGBT+ group believes that the T stands for Tory) at the event, though they seemed very reluctant to speak to people in the same way that the Labour and Greens were, possibly because they're a despicable party with a history of opposing LGBT+ views (sorry, my hatred of the Conservatives is starting to come through again).

LGBT+ Make a Lot of Noise

I know that there's the phrase 'Loud and Proud', but I didn't quite appreciate just how apt that statement was until this years event.  With people handing out whistles and vuvuzelas before the parade began the march turned into a cacophony of whistles, hoots, trumpets, screams and singing that was close to deafening.

Whilst at times it was amazing to hear the crowds cheering us on as we made our way through the town I did want to tell off the person handing out all of the noise making devices.  My ears were ringing for hours after.

All in all this year's Pride event was a huge improvement over last years, and there was nothing wrong with last years in any way.  It would seem that Pride events, and the LGBT+ community itself are improving and growing in amazing ways as we continue to come together to celebrate our victories and show our strength in the face of adversities.


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Six New Pokemon Revealed For Sun and Moon

Nintendo have released new information on even more brand new Pokemon creatures set to debut in the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon this week, with six brand new monsters added to the Alola Pokedex.


Bounsweet is a fruit Pokemon. Because it exudes a delicious smell from its entire body, Bounsweet is popular with Pokémon and people of the Alola region. Bounsweet’s scent has a calming effect on humans, so many people let them live inside their homes as a sort of air freshener. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes swallowed whole by Pokémon drawn to its aroma.

When running away from other Pokémon, Bounsweet flees danger by skipping along the ground. Since its bouncy movements don’t convey to others that it’s actually in desperate flight, no one ever comes to its aid.

When attacked by enemies, it drives them off by rotating the calyx on its head. The downside is how dizzy it gets afterward!


Mudsdale is the Draft Horse Pokemon. Mudsdale is known for its powerful body as well as its emotional fortitude, which keeps it from being agitated by anything. It never cries out, no matter what kind of trouble it’s in, and it defeats its opponents with a single powerful blow. Its legs are coated in protective mud, and the weight of this coating increases the force of its kicks. One kick, and a car is a pile of scrap.

Mudsdale’s running speed is not too swift, but it has excellent power and stamina. It can carry on for three days and three nights despite dragging loads of over 10 tons.

When Mudsdale gallops in earnest, the power of each hoof-clop can dig out huge holes, even in asphalt. Mudsdale is forbidden to run on some of Alola’s public roads.

Mudsdale can have the new Stamina Ability, an Ability that no other Pokémon has had before. With the Stamina Ability, this Pokémon’s Defense goes up by 1 when it’s hit by an attack.


Bewear is the Strong Arm Pokemon.  When Bewear is acting in a friendly fashion, just swinging its arms around, you must never dare to approach it carelessly.  It is acknowledged to be a dangerous Pokemon, even within the Alola region.  You may see warning signs posted near places it resides.

When Bewear grows fond of its Trainer, it may show that feeling in a fond embrace - but the force of that hug is tremendous.  Trainers must teach these Pokemon to restrain their strength when showing affection.

Beweat may have the Fluffy Ability, which halves the damage taken from attacks that make direct contact, but in return it also doubles damage taken from Fire type moves.


Wimpod is the Turn Tail Pokemon.  Wimpod have a cowardly nature and are weary of noises and sudden movements.  If you approach them in a group, they'll immediately runoff.  The stench of its toxic fluid signals others that danger is near.  Despite their extreme cowardice, their curiosity leads them to approach people or Pokemon that are standing still.

Wimpod eat and store everything that they find fallen on the ground.  They also scavenge any garbage that's been dropped in the sea, so they're highly values as cleaners.  They sometimes carry pearls or other valuable items, so humans or Pokemon such as Murkrow may target them.

Wimpod has the new Ability Wimp Out, an Ability that no other Pokemon has had before.  With the Wimp Out Ability, if this Pokemon's HP drops below half in battle, it will run away or swap out for another Pokemon.


The Posey Picker Pokemon, Comfey picks flowers and always carries them around.  It makes a ring of blossoms and spreads oils from its body onto it, which changes the flowers so they emit a soothing fragrance.  It has a habit of giving these flower rings to those it's fond of.  The aroma can soothe both itself and its allies.  Comfey also helps with the treatment of people and Pokemon in Pokecenters and hospitals, thanks to its aroma.

When attacked by other Pokemon, it throws its flowers at them to create an opening, and then it either flees or fights back.

Comfey have the new Tirage Ability, an Ability that no other Pokemon has had before.  With the Triage Ability, this Pokemon's restorative moves gain the highest priority in battle.


As the disguise Pokemon, Mimikyu lives its life constantly covered by its cloth.  People believe that anybody who sees its true form beneath its cloth will be stricken with a mysterious illness.  People in the Alola region are convinced that you must never try to peek beneath its covering.  Mimikyu's health fails when it's bathed in the rays of the sun, so it prefers to stick to dark places.  It is rumoured that the reason it covers itself with a cloth is to avoid sunlight.

The ride in popularity of Pikachu style merachandise around 20 years ago is the reason that Mimikyu makes itself look like Pikachu.  In fact, this Pokemon is dreadfully lonely, and it thought that it would be able to make friends with humans if only it looked like Pikachu.

Mimikyu has the Disguie Ability, a new Ability that no Pokemon has ever possessed before.  The disguise ability allows it to escape damage from an enemy's attack just one time, then its appearance changes.

You can check out all of these new Pokemon in the latest Pokemon Sun and Moon trailer.


Wikihuffle Guest Episode 2

As promised it's time for the second of my guest episodes on the award winning comedy podcast Wikishuffle. 

I've been a fan of Wikishuffle since it began, and even before then when one of the hosts, Phillip Sharman, told me the idea for Wikishuffle long before it even hit the airwaves, and getting the chance to appear on the show was an awesome opportunity and a great day out.

Head on over to Wikishuffle on the link below to listen to the first of my guest episodes!

This episode features two articles on European history.  We examine some evidence that suggests 93% of all Russian men are called Yuri, and ponder the question of what to do when you've got more Parisian nanas than you have space left.


Monday, 18 July 2016

Trans Led Comic Book Coming September

September sees the release of a new comic book series set to feature a transgender lead character, one of the first in comic books.

'Alters' is a new series being released by Aftershock Comics and will focus on several characters who are the first in a wave of emerging mutant powered superheroes.  Whilst initially sounding similar to Marvel Comics 'X-Men', which has often been used as an allegory for people in oppressed communities, 'Alters' fully embraces this notion with an incredibly varied and multifaceted cast.

Chalice, the central character of the series, is a transgender woman with the ability to manipulate gravity, which she can even use to fly.  The series writer, Paul Jenkins, has credited fan Liz Luu for the inspiration for the character when she suggested a hero who 'can only be herself when she's not herself'.

This led to the creation of the character of Chalice, a trans woman who is not out to her friends or family, meaning that she has to present as male in her civilian life and can only truly be herself when she's being a superhero.

The series will also feature characters from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of issues.  One story will feature a conventionally 'unattractive heroine'.  'The TMZ report would be 'Ugly Chick Saves World'' Jenkins described.

Another story will focus on a superhero shapeshifter who is injured and left as a quadriplegic, who faces the choice of whether to remain that way and live or to go through one final transformation to regain their ability to walk but will lead to their death after a month.

Jenkins also plans to include a homeless woman who has to try to balance keeping her family fed and clothed whilst also saving her community, along with a man with PTSD  yet is still committed to helping others.

The series has been a passion project for Jenkins, who has been working on the concept since 2005.  Jenkins has drawn inspiration from many people he has known in his life, not least his mother, who raised him as an out bisexual single mother.

'If we ever get to the point where issues such as race, sexuality and gender identity are a nonissue, we will have arrived.  That's my mum talking right there.'  He said.  'I just want to share my compassion for people who are struggling in any kind of way.'

'Alters' is set for release early September 2016.


Owen Smith Brands Himself 'Normal' Candidate Against Lesbian Opponent

Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith has described himself as the 'normal' candidate for the role of Labour leader because he had 'a wife and three children', with his main opponent being an openly lesbian woman.

Smith has faced criticism for the statement following the comments during an interview with Sky New.

The comment came as part of a larger answer where he was trying to sell himself as a 'normal' person that people would want to vote for.  When asked if he thinks he's normal he replied; 'I'm glad you think I'm normal.  I am normal.

'I grew up in a normal household.  I've got a wife and three children.  My wife is a primary school teacher.  I've been in Parliament for six years, before that I had two or three other jobs, in business, in politics, in advising the peace process in Northern Ireland.'

The MP for Pontypridd and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions quickly came under fire when people interpreted the comment to mean that he was saying that having a wife and children made him 'normal' in comparison to Angela Eagle, who is openly lesbian and married.

Whilst some have condemned the comment completely as being homophobic others have pointed out that it was probably unintentional, but still paints him in a poor light.

This comment has also been compared to what was recently said by Andrea Leadsom during the Conservative leadership race, where she said that she would be the better choice for leader as she was a mother and her opponent had no children.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Kid Flash Revealed For Flash Season 3

During the final episodes of the second season of The Flash Wally West and Jessie Quick found themselves being bombarded with the same speedforce energies that gives Barry Allen his powers and makes him the Flash.  Despite this, neither one of them showed any signs of exhibiting speedster abilities before the season came to a close.

That seems to have changed going into season three, where Wally West will not only gain his powers, but will don the classic yellow and red costume of Kid Flash.

The CW have released the first images of Keiynan Lonsdale as his new superhero alter-ego as he will appear in the first episode of the new season, entitled 'Flashpoint'.  Following the events of the final episode Barry Allen travelled back in time and prevented the murder of his mother, an event that has massive, universe changing repercussions in the comic book world.

How these changes will play out in the upcoming season are yet to be seen, and there's no news as to if Wally will be Kid Flash all season or simply on a temporary basis due to the events of Flashpoint, either way though I can't wait to see him in action as he looks amazing.


Pokemon Go Praised For Lack Of Gender Choice

Unless you're living on a cave on Mars it's likely that you will be aware of Pokemon Go, whether you have played the game or not.  The new smartphone game that allows players to go out into the real world and catch their very own Pokemon on their phone has received massive praise, and has increased Nintendo's shares by 53% since its launch.

The game hasn't been out long but it's already a massive success around the world.  Some of the success of the new game seems to come from the fact that it is encouraging healthy activity in those who have been playing it, not just in actually being active and having to travel around, but in encouraging people with depression and social anxiety to leave their homes.

One of the areas that the game is also getting a lot of positive attention for is its choices of what gender to play as, or rather, the lack of gender.

Since introducing the first female playable character in Pokemon Crystal back in Generation 2 the series has embraced the fact that it has a diverse audience and has allowed players to choose whether to have a male or female character.  Each game begins with asking the player to choose if they are a 'girl or a boy' before anything else.

Whilst this was a good move on the companys part back then social awareness of gender issues and gender diversity has increased, and for what might seem like a simple choice to play as either male or female is, for some, an uneasy moment.  For those transitioning, in the early stages of understanding their gender, for non-binary people and many others, being forced to choose between defining your gender as either male or female can be an uncomfortable moment.

It would appear that Nintendo have addressed this though, by simply asking players of Pokemon Go to 'choose your style'.

This simple change in wording has already been met with massive praise by not just members of the trans and gender non-conforming community, but by those who have an awareness and understanding of gender issues.  For fans of the series this has been a change that has been requested for many years, with multiple petitions to the company to make this change having been launched for many years now.

The choice to do away with arbitrary gender binary makes a great deal of sense for the Pokemon universe where Pokemon themselves can be male, female or genderless, and stereotypically male or female looking Pokemon can be either gender, such as a female Mr Mine.

Hopefully this change has proven popular enough that Nintendo will include such a change of wording for the character selection process in the upcoming new games Pokemon Sun & Pokemon Moon.


Orlando Shooting Protesters Arrested During Peaceful Rally

A group of protesters were arrested on Monday during a peaceful protest to honour the victims of the Orlando Pulse Massacre at the offices of Republican politician Marco Rubio.

The location of the protest was chosen due to lack of action taken to establish gun-safety laws or regulations on assault weapons following the deadly attack that claimed the lives of 49 members of the LGBT+ community, the largest mass killing of LGBT+ people since the events of the Holocaust.

The sit-in protest went on for close to ten hours, with participants handing out leaflets to building staff and visitors, reading the names of those who were killed and singing songs.  They also held a sign that read 'Sit-In For The 49'.

Despite Marco Rubio not being present at the time, currently being present in Washington, the group did meet with the state director, a meeting that lasted less than five minutes, hardly a fitting amount of time to discuss a situation such as this.

At 7pm, when the building tried to close for the day, protesters refused to leave and police officers were called to remove them.  Despite most protesters choosing to leave when asked to move on by police it has been reported that close to a dozen remained and attempted to block the buildings doorway.  Ten individuals were then arrested for refusing to leave private property.

At the time Orlando Police tweeted the following message, 'Orlando Police Department has no issue with peaceful protesters, but building is private property and owners want protesters removed.  We hope all remains peaceful.'

Following the incident a representative of Marco Rubio's office said that Mr Rubio 'respects the views of others on these difficult issues, and welcomes the continued input he is receiving from people across the political spectrum.'


Monday, 11 July 2016

Wikihuffle Guest Episode

Last weekend, despite being full of flu, I managed to make my way to Wikishuffle HQ to record a couple of guest episodes for their amazing podcast.

I've been a fan of Wikishuffle since it began, and even before then when one of the hosts, Phillip Sharman, told me the idea for Wikishuffle long before it even hit the airwaves, and getting the chance to appear on the show was an awesome opportunity and a great day out.

Head on over to Wikishuffle on the link below to listen to the first of my guest episodes!

In my first episode I bring along two articles, the first of which was meant as a little fun at Phil's expense, but ended up backfiring on Jack and Ruth instead, whilst in the second one we take a look at one of the sillier conspiracy theory groups.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

New Pokemon Salandit Revealed

Nintendo have revealed another new Pokemon set to debut in the latest Pokemon games, Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon.

The new creature is a fire/poison Pokemon is described as a Toxic Lizard that comes with the Ability Corrosion, which allows it to poison every Pokemon in existence, regardless of types or immunities.

'Salandit emits toxic gas, together with flames, from the base of its tail.  This poisonous gas has a sweet smell, and anyone who unknowingly breathes it in will become dizzy.  Salandit is not a very powerful Pokemon, but its cunning nature allows it to battle fiercely by throwing its opponents off balance.

'Salandit females not only release toxic gases, they can also emit pheromones that attract males of all species, including Pokemon and humans.  Inhaling these pheromones may cause opponents to be controlled by Salandit's will.'


British PM Hopeful Proudly Defends Homophobic Views

With the resignation of David Cameron the Tory party have been looking for their next leader, someone who will not just become the next Tory leader, but an unelected Prime Minister.  After the final round of voting for candidates by members of the Conservative party today Home Secretary Theresa May stands in the lead, but her closest competitor has some disturbingly right-wing views.

Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, has managed to defeat Justice Secretary to become May's rival in the leadership contest, after other hopefuls Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb were eliminated in earlier rounds of voting.

Though some may think that having two female candidates for the next leader of our country is a good thing, but it takes very little digging into Leadsom's past to find some incredibly right-wing and homophobic views.

In several Internet posts and comments over the years Leadsom has expressed the views that same-sex couples should be given a lower priority to adopt children to heterosexual families.  In 2009 she complained about a particular incident where two children were denied the option to be adopted by their grandparents after being taken into care, making comments that the worst part was that the people adopting them were gay.

In 2007 she made suggestions that a point-based adoption system should be put in place, with more points being given to straight couples over same-sex couples, citing religious reasons for her opinions on this matter.

In 2013 she abstained from the vote on marriage equality, refusing to take any side in the argument.  Speaking at the time she said that she would have voted yes on the matter to express the views of her constituents, but also wished to vote against the move for equality as she found parts of the law 'unacceptable'.

She once again named her religious views as the reason for wanting to vote against the measure as it 'risks centuries of faith based belief in marriage as between a man and a woman'.

Despite this vote having been made years ago it would appear that Leadsom's views have not changed on the subject, when during an interview with ITV this very morning she once again stated that she does not approve of the same-sex marriage law, claiming that it harms Christians.

'I would have preferred for civil partnerships to be available to heterosexual and gay couples, and for marriage to have remained as a Christian service for men and women who want to commit in the eyes of God.'  She said, speaking on the matter.

'My own view is that marriage is the Biblical sense, from the many Christians who wrote to me, can only be between a man and a woman.

'The issue I have is around the consequences, and very real hurt caused to many Christians who think that marriage in the Church can only be between a man and a woman.  I think we've muddled the terms of marriage, civil partnership, church, registry office...I would have liked that to have been clarified.

'I really didn't like the legislation, that was the problem.'

Possibly most disturbingly of all the revelations around Mrs Leadsom's views towards the LGBT+ community is the fact that she has been linked to a 'gay cure' group in Uganda.

Leadsom has been involved with a Ugandan organisation, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), and have helped to organise exchange programmes for schools over the past decade.

The organisation, who she encourages British youth to interact with and learn from, promotes strong anti-gay messages and has a number of groups that state that they can 'cure' homosexual people of their sexuality.  The 'Kompassion Ministry' in Amsterdam is one of these groups, who 'helps broken people who struggle with their unwanted homosexual orientation'.

Whilst Theresa May has been very rightly criticised for her own anti-LGBT+ views in the past she looks like a positive LGBT+ activist when compared to Leadsom.  Theresa May has changed her views over the years and has begun to support more and more LGBT+ causes, whilst Leadsom still, this very day, speaks out against LGBT+ rights.

If Andrea Leadsom becomes the next Prime Minister it will be a massive blow for the LGBT+ community, it will be damaging to the future of LGBT+ rights and it will be yet another moment of tragic stupidity in British politics that shows just how much hate and ignorance exists within our nation.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Ubisoft Survey Excludes You If You're A Woman


In what some are calling a moment of incompetence or a simple error, others are labelling as outright sexism as an online survey from video game company Ubisoft begins by asking if you are male or female, then ends if you select female.

Selecting female as the answer to the very first question of the survey leads participants to a screen stating, 'Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.  Unfortunately, your profile does not suit for this survey.  However, again we would like to thank you for your participation and your time.  Have a good day.'

The company, who are behind such popular series such as Far Cry and Assassins Creed, have faced very hot criticism over the matter, with many female gamers taking to social media to call out the incident as being blatantly sexist.

Ubisoft have responded to say that the incident was caused by a simple computer error, and that they had no intention of excluding women from taking part in the survey.

They have since altered the survey to allow women to continue on after selecting their gender.


A Great Alternative To Suicide Girls That's Trans Inclusive

As I talked about in a previous article, the alternative porn website Suicide Girls has a surprisingly shocking history of excluding transgender women as models if they had not had genital surgery.

As is not surprising there is a great many websites that have a similar frame of mind, that unless trans women have had surgery to alter their penis into a vagina then they cannot be included as 'women', only being able to be marketed as 'trans women' (though most websites use much more insulting language than that to describe trans women).

Thankfully, there are a number of sites that do not feel the need to separate or 'other' trans women, and are perfectly happy to include them as being no different than cisgender women.

One such site that has been brought to my attention is called GodsGirls, and offers very similar content to Suicide Girls, though seems to be a lot more inclusive, and not just of transgender women.  They have flat chested women, overweight women, and they're not afraid to show a woman with a cock.

This might not seem like much, there's no shortage of porn that features trans people on the internet, but when a website doesn't focus on trans people specifically yet includes them with little to no fanfare it makes it a little more special and a lot more important.

It helps towards letting people see that trans women are regular women, that we don't need to be our own category of female and that if you like looking at pictures of naked cis women there's nothing wrong with looking at pictures of naked trans women.

From what I've seen of GodsGirls so far, and granted it's not much yet, they've included the trans porn actress Chelsea Poe in a photo set.  Just like their other sets it begins with Chelsea clothed, and she gradually loses more and more clothing until naked.  Where they could have chosen to take a half hearted approach to including a trans woman and only had her in poses that hid her genitals they instead chose to embrace who she is, and don't shy away from the fact that she's a woman with a penis.

Where Suicide Girls chose to distance itself from the trans community GodsGirls seems willing and ready to embrace it.  And that kind of progression can only be a good thing.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Remember That Time Suicide Girls Was Really Transphobic?

I like porn.  I think that pornography isn't something that people should be ashamed of, in the same way I don't think sex or masturbation should be made to be seen as shameful.  Most people enjoy sex and masturbation, and porngraphy is a great way of exploring both of these areas as well as expanding your own views and opinions.

Pornography can be a great way of helping people discover more about themselves, whether it's someone seeing a certain sex act that piques their interest, or someone realising that they're gay, lesbian, bisexual or pansexual because they've never realised certain genders turned them on until they saw them in porn, or maybe even something as simple as finding a certain look or type of person that jumps out at you as attractive.  Porn is amazing at helping you figure out who you are, who you like and how you want to fuck.

It was during my teenage years I stumbled across a certain look that I found very attractive, tattooed, pierced girls with funky hair.  Maybe it was growing up in a small town, mostly surrounded by dull people who saw anything other than 'normal' (common) to be bad and would stamp it out quick.  Whatever the reason, I liked this look.  And it turns out a lot of other people do too, and a lot of porn is made to cater to this area.

One of the most popular of these groups is a website called Suicide Girls.  Suicide Girls has been going since 2001, and has featured thousand of models in various states of undress and full nudity in more photo's than you can count.

I found this site and thought that it was amazing.  I began to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, anywhere where I'd get some random porn on my news feed.

However, today I discovered something about Suicide Girls that has deeply upset and disturbed me, in 2011 the company acted incredibly ignorantly and transphobic when asked about the inclusion of transgender models.

I know, 2011, not exactly a news story but the title does include the word 'Remember', so of course this is something older.  And yes, before anyone jumps in with comments, their views may have changed since then, but that does not erase what they did in the past and how insidious transphobia is in the world.  Especially when it comes to pornography.

Suicide Girls were approached by a group of trans women who wanted to model with the company, unfortunately they were all rejected on the grounds that they had not had gender surgery to remove their penises, and Suicide Girls believed that this should exclude them from being models with them.  As you can expect, this caused something of a backlash on the Internet, at which point the company made things worse by continuing to respond with transphobia.

Whilst this may not be the most openly hostile and hateful kind of transphobia, it is still transphobia.  Despite their insistence that they respect all genders and trans people their determination to define female as having breasts and a vagina are incredibly insulting.

Not only does this send a message to the trans community that despite how they look, present and live their lives they're only ever going to be considered the gender of what's between their legs.  I've lost count of the number of times that I've said this, but having a penis does not make you a man, having a vagina does not make you a woman.  Having a penis does not make you less of a woman, having a vagina does not make you less of a man.

There are so many variations of gender within the world that defining it simply by penis or vagina is insane, especially as it erases the existence of people whose genitals don't fall into these categories either.

Pushing trans feminine people away because they may not have a vagina also helps to reinforce the incredibly harmful notion that if someone is attracted to trans women they're not attracted to women, but something slightly different.  If you have a site that is full of women and female models and they include trans women with no fanfare or othering to set them aside then it tells people that trans women are women.  To separate us from cis women sends the message that we're somehow not 'real' women.

This means that if someone is attracted to trans women they have to go searching elsewhere for trans porn.  One of the problems with this is that there are many companies and websites out there that don't show trans models and actors the same degree of dignity and respect that Suicide Girls gives to their models.  It ends up being if you want to see trans porn you have to go to sites that use slur words such as tranny or she-male.  As a trans woman who finds trans women attractive having to go to sites that talk about trans women this way can not only be an incredible turn off, but also deeply upsetting.

Instead of being inclusive of all women Suicide Girls has said that trans women can't be associated with them, they have to be seen as something other.  Imagine how people would feel if they said that the site was only for white women?  Probably not very happy about it to say the least.

Integration of trans and cis women in porn without labelling or separating does work, and has been used successfully on other sites too.  One such site that does this wonderfully is CrashPad, who simply have all of their models together.  When you click on one of their films you don't know if the actors are cis, trans, non-binary, there's nothing to indicate who is in the film that 'others' certain genders or presentations.

Another thing that this kind of view does is to reinforce the notion that trans women cannot be women unless they have surgery.  This kind of view actually excludes a hell of a lot of trans women.  Despite what film and television would have people believe, not all trans women have 'the full surgery'.  Whether due to not being able to afford to, or simply not wanting to, it's not a universal constant amongst trans people, but as varied a choice as the community itself.

There isn't a scale or hierarchy of how trans someone is based upon if they pass as female, if they chose to have long or short hair, if they have a flat chest, naturally grown breasts or huge implants, or if they have a penis or not.  You're not more or less trans based on these factors, and you're not more or less female based on this either.

To claim that your company represents women but then refusing to represent all women is a bit of a mistake.  To say that your company 'redefines' beauty but refuses to acknowledge that women are beautiful based on more than breasts and a vagina is simply mind boggling.  What exactly are you redefining?

Maybe this isn't much of an issue for everyone, maybe some of you think that this whole article is pointless, but I believe that it matters to talk about these things, to address the double standards of saying that you support the trans community, but then say trans women aren't woman enough to model for you.

Let's not put people in boxes based on what's between their legs, our world should be far beyond that point by now.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Ghost Rider and LMD Coming to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Thanks to a casting call from ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it's been revealed that an LMD will be coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with a character that is looking suspiciously like one of the Ghost Riders.

The first of the new roles has been revealed to be of an LMD, Life Model Decoy, named Aida.  The inclusion of an LMD in the new season is one of the developments that has come as less of a surprise for fan following the setup of the concept at the end of season three.

'This much I can tell you, LMDs are happening.  Specifically, the ABC series at this time is looking to cast the recurring role of Aida, a 'very attractive' robot who moves quite naturally but speaks a bit more formally, like Iron Man's Jarvis' said TVLine's Matt Webb Mitovich reported on the casting call.

The casting call has also been made for two as yet unnamed 'pair of Latino brothers' who have been described as 'one of whom is always the most dangerous person in the room, the other paralysed in a wheelchair'.

Whilst this description itself might not mean much on it's own, but when put together with the fact that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have revealed an image of an advertisement on a San Diego light rail train featuring flaming chains it begins to point towards Ghost Rider coming to the series.

Though people initially thought that this image might refer to Hellfire, who had appeared in the series during season 3 and had wielded a flaming chain as a weapon, it has since been reinterpreted to be hinting at Ghost Rider.  The new character descriptions would appear to lend credence to this theory as the casting call appears to be describing Roberto Reyes and his brother Gabe.

In the comics Roberto is a young man who becomes possessed by an evil spirit and becomes a new Ghost Rider after he is shot and killed following a drag race.  Whilst the original, and most well known, Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze rides a motorcycle, Roberto instead drives a car.

Considering that most people are familiar with the Johnny Blaze version of the character it's a surprising turn that Marvel and ABC would chose to feature Roberto as the first MCU version of the character over Johnny Blaze, though this may be to allow them to use Roberto on the small screen, whilst using the more recognisable Blaze in future feature films.


Gun Shop Offers AR-15 As Prize In Raffle To Benefit Pulse Massacre Victims

In a move that either consists of very little thought and understanding, or an outright thinly veiled insult, a gun store in America is offering an AR-15 assault rifle as a raffle prize to raise money for the victims of the Orlando Pulse Massacre, a similar type of gun that was used to kill 49 members of the LGBT+ community and injure more than 50 others.

Second Amendment Sports in McHenry, Illinois have offered up this prize in the hopes of raising money for the victims of the shooting, as well as for the families of those whose lives were lost.  The business will make a base donation of $2,000 and will sell raffle tickets at $5 each before the prize draw on July 31st.

After coming under criticism for offering a weapon of war and murder as a prize to raise support and awareness for the victims of the worst mass shooting in America for more than 100 years, and the biggest loss of LGBT+ lives since the Holocaust, the owners have tried to shift the issue away from being about firearms and gun violence to being once about terrorism.

'I understand that there are different opinions out there.  We don't look at this as a gun issue.  We look at this as a terrorism issue.'  Store marketing director Vic Santi said following an outcry over the raffle.

One of those who has spoken out against the prize being offered is a woman from McHenry County who lost her son in a similar mass shooting in a cinema in Colorado in 2012.

Store owner Bert Islinger has defended the decision to offer a weapon as a prize stating, 'For our industry, this isn't weird.  It's a normal product.  It's bought every day by Americans across the United States.'

Perhaps it isn't weird in your industry Bert, but please try to remember your industry is one that actively profits on people wanting to purchase weapons of mass murder for the express use of performing such acts.  It might not be weird for your industry, but for rational, thinking and compassionate people everywhere it is decidedly weird, as well as being tasteless, ill thought out and downright disgusting.

You may think that you are doing a good thing and trying to help victims, but all you're doing is perpetuating the insane notion that weapons such as this can, and should, be owned by anyone who wants them.  A view that helped lead to the Orlando Pulse Massacre, and the many, many other gun related deaths that occur in America every single day.


Since the publication of this article Second Amendment Sports have announced that they have cancelled the raffle, citing legal issues as the reason.

Chicago state law only allows non-profit organisations to run raffles, which Second Amendment Sports are not due to being a for-profit business.  The Illinois Raffle Act allows raffle licenses to be issued to organisations that 'operate without profit to their members'.

Raffle licenses must be issued by local municipality, but as McHenry doesn't have an ordinance allowing raffles it does not license them.  In this case the owners of the gun store have broken the law by operating a raffle without a license.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

DC To Launch Gay Couple Lead Comic With 'Midnighter & Apollo'

DC's most iconic gay couple (since the inclusion of the Wildstorm universe into the main 'New 52' continuity) Midnighter and Apollo are returning to comics in their own series.

'Midnighter & Apollo' will be a six part limited series launching in October, that will see the two characters continuing on their adventures after the event of the 'Midnighter' solo series that came to a close last month.

In the solo series Midnighter was separated from his husband of 13 years, though by the end of the series the two of them had reconciled their relationship.

The new series will see the return of the same creative team behind the 'Midnighter' solo series, with Steve Orlando returning as writer and 'Midnighter' artist ACO returning to provide cover art.  The series interior art will be provided by 'Batman Eternal' artist Fernando Blanco.

Speaking on the upcoming series and the relationship between the two, Steve Orlando said 'They have a firmer idea of who they are, and they've become stronger and more confident together.  This is the World's Finest Couple - kicking back and making each other better than they are on their own.'

Midnighter is a character that possesses superhuman abilities through biological enhancements, including superhuman strength and endurance, as well as some form of precognitive abilities that allow him to predict his enemies actions as well as giving him resistance to telepathic attacks.

Apollo is much more powerful than Midnighter, and is a 'solar-based being' with the abilities of flight, superhuman strength and near invulnerability.  He can also release solar energy from his eyes and his hands in the form of laser-like blasts.  He has on more than one occasion been referred to as being on a similar power level as Superman.

The two characters were originally introduced as part of the DC imprint Wildstorm in issue #4 of 'Stormwatch' in 1998, where the two characters not only had multiple adventures as part of the titular superhero team, but also entered a relationship together, married and even adopted a child.

During the events of the DC story 'Flashpoint' multiple imprints and out of universe characters were folded into a new universe that incorporated the Wildstorm characters into the main DC continuity.  Thought this effectively erased much of the characters histories Steve Orlando has been passionate about re-exploring the two characters their relationship.

'Being able to present that type of character I think is very powerful', he said speaking about writing the two characters, 'because people need to know that you just have to be yourself, and you can be anything, you can still be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender.  There's no one way of doing things.'

'Midnighter & Apollo' #1 is scheduled for release on 1st October.


Friday, 1 July 2016

Trans Woman Wins Unfair Dismissal Case

Transgender woman, Dakota Hemmingson, has won an unfair dismissal case and will be awarded $20,000 after being told to either stop her transition or be fired by her former employer.

Dakota worked in a barber shop in New Zealand but was told by her employer that if she wanted to retain her job she would have to cease her transition and present as male at work.  When she refused she was fired from her position.

The Employment Relations Authority have chosen to rule in Dakota's favour on this case and ruled that she was unfairly dismissed.  Media outlets are reporting the case as a landmark for New Zealand, with this case being the first of its kind.

Having previously posted on Facebook regarding the issue after her story broke Dakota has spoken in detail about the effect the event has had on her, even to the point of being close to suicide.

Speaking on the ruling Dakota has said, 'It's good to feel authentic and feel honest to myself.  It's just the beginning of something bigger and I'm so proud to be a part of this.

'Wow, just wow.  I can't express how grateful I am for all the support.  Getting here has been the hardest thing I'm still dealing with so much emotion but I want to say a few things.

'This is not only a win for the LGBT community and especially the transgender community.  This shows that we are protected from discrimination and transphobia in the workplace in New Zealand.

'The one main thing I wanted from this was to fight for everyone who never had the chance, everyone who had to settle and remain silent and for anyone who has ever faced discrimination.  We as the country of New Zealand have to take a stand together to show the world discrimination and hate will not win.

'We need to lead the way and make our voices heard.  For anyone going through anything of a similar value, or to anybody who faces inequality.  We are here for you, I am here for you.'


New Pokemon Sun and Moon Announcements

Despite the leak of several new Pokemon the day before Nintendo promised we'd receive new information July 1st has still seen a whole new host of information, trailers and images for the upcoming games.

Some of the first pieces of news relates to two of the new Pokemon that have already been revealed, Iwanko and Nekkoala, including their English names, Rockruff and Komala respectively, and more in depth descriptions.


Category: Puppy Pokemon
Type: Rock
Height: 1'08''
Weight: 20.3 lbs.
Ability: Keen Eye/Vital Spirit

Rockruff is a sociable Pokemon, but as it grows, it's disposition gets wilder.  It begins to howl when the sun goes down, that is proof that it is close to evolving.  It is said that it leaves it's Trainers side to evolve and returns again when fully evolved.

Rockruff stands bravely in battle, even when taking damage.  Although an opponent may be stronger than Roackruff, the Puppy Pokemon is so persistent, it keeps going until it outlasts its foe and gets the win!

Bite is a good move for Rockruff.  It deals damage by biting an opponent with its sharp teeth.  This may make the target flinch.

Rockruff greets other by rubbing the rocks around their necks against others.  This grating greeting is an expression of fondness, but a trainer may feel that love hurts.


Category: Drowsing Pokemon
Type: Normal
Height: 1'04''
Weight: 43.9 lbs.
Ability: Comatose

No one has ever seen a Komala awake.  It eats, travels and even battles whilst sound asleep.  It saliva can be used as a medicine for the sick or sleepless, according to ancient people.  They say that if you take a small amount of the saliva remaining after it eats leaves, water the saliva down, and drink it, you'll be able to sleep well.

Komala clings to a log pillow that it's parents have given to it.  Once it grasps this log it almost never releases it.  If it does lose hold of it's log, the Pokemon will be unable to sleep well and will thrash about wildly.  Apparently it will sometimes cling onto the arm of a Trainer it trusts.

Komala has the Comatose Ability, a new Ability that no other Pokemon has ever had until now.  This ability keeps it perpetually in a drowsing state, which prevents it from getting any other status conditions.

The ever-sleeping Komala's expression sometimes changes, as if it has awareness of  its surroundings and the people talking nearby.  But it appears these changes in expression are actually just the result of the dreams it's experiencing.

In addition to this information the existence of the seven leaked Pokemon has been confirmed in a trailer that not only gives us more information on these new monsters, but the Alola region as well.  The new trailer has also confirmed that two of these new Pokemon are the evolved forms of Grubbin, who was announced previously.

Tapu Koko

Category: Land Spirit Pokemon
Type: Electric/Fairy
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 45.2 lbs.
Ability: Electric Surge

Tapu Koko is a special Pokemon that protects the area where it lives.  It's called the guardian deity of Melemele Island, one of the Islands in the Alola region.  Although it is known as a guardian deity, it's a surprisingly fickle Pokemon, and will not necessarily come to your aid if you need help.

Despite that, this Pokemon has a strong sense of curiosity.  If it becomes interested in a person or in another Pokemon, it may come to play or battle with them.

Tapu Koko's Ability is Electric Surge, an Ability never before seen in a Pokemon.  Electric Surge  fills the field around the Pokemon's feet with electricity when it appears, raising the power ability of any Electric-type moves for Pokemon on the ground and preventing any Pokemon from falling asleep.  Tapu Koko can learn a new move called Nature's Madness, which slams an opponent and reduces that Pokemon's HP by half.


Category: Gnash Teeth Pokemon
Type: Water/Psychic
Height: 2'11''
Weight: 41.9 lbs.
Abilities: Dazzling/Strong Jaw

Bruxish emits a strong psychic power from the protuberance on its head.  When its opponents are bathed in this power, they're stricken with terrible headaches and fall unconscious.  As it emits its psychic power it grinds its teeth loudly.  When nearby Pokemon hear the sound of Bruxish's teeth they sense danger and flee immediately.

In the Alola region lifeguards let Bruxish remain in the area to prevent dangerou water-type Pokemon from gathering there.

Bruxish digs holes on the seafloor, leaving just the protuberance on its head exposed, while emitting a low level of psychic power.  This serves as radar, so when it detects prey it can leap to attack.

Bruxish have the new Ability Dazzling, which no other Pokemon has ever had.  The Dazzling Ability prevents opponents from using priority moves that normally strike first.


Category: Bee Fly Pokemon
Type: Bug/Fairy
Height: 0'04''
Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Abilities: Honey Gather/Shield Dust

Cutiefly can detect auras of living things, including people, Pokemon and plants.  They search out flowers by the colour and brightness of their auras and then gather their nectar and pollen.

When living creatures are excited, it seems that their auras resemble those of flowers in full bloom.  As a result, these Pokemon tend to gather near people or Pokemon feeling particularly happy or sad.

Cutiefly mostly live in the fields and meadows on the outskirts of cities, but they sometimes appear in towns or even inside buildings, drawn in by the emotions of the living beings of the community.


Category: Battery Pokemon
Type: Bug/Electric
Height: 1'08''
Weight: 23.1 lbs.
Ability: Battery

Charjabug stays perfectly still in preparation for Evolution, and often spends time with its body half-buried in the earth.  Charjabug is able to store up electricity.  It can store enough power to run a household for a whole day.  The power it stores can be provided to other Pokemon, so it can also serve as a battery.

Charjabug has the Battery Ability, an Ability not seen before in any other Pokemon.  The Battery Ability allows it to raise the power of allies' special moves.

It is the evolved form of Grubbin.


Category: Stag Beetle Pokemon
Type: Bug/Electric
Height: 4'11''
Weight: 99.2 lbs.
Ability: Levitate

Vikavolt is like a fortress that flies through the forest, firing a beam of electricity from its mouth.  It's huge jaws control the electricity it blasts out.

Vikavolt is adept at acrobatic flight maneuvers like tailspins and sharp turns.  It can fly at high speeds even as it weaves its way through the complicated tangle of branches in the forest.

Vikavolt clasps Chargabug with its legs and uses it as an extra battery.  Even if the battle drags on, it can use the electric power from Charjabug to continue firing off powerful moves.  When Vikavolt is engaged in a fierce aerial fight, it releases Chargabug to make itself lighter and increase its mobility.

Vikavolt is the evolved form of Chargabug and the final form of Grubbin.


Category: Placid Dragon
Type: Normal/Dragon
Height: 9'10''
Weight: 407.9 lbs.
Abilities: Berserk/Sap Sipper

Drampa are the dragons that live alone in the mountains 10,000 feet above sea level.  Since they cannot obtain the berries they feed on at that range, they descend to the base of the mountains at dawn every day.  Drampa love communicating with people and Pokemon.

Drampa are especially gentle with children and often appear at schools and parks where children gather.

While Drampa is usually a very gentle Pokemon, it can fly into a rage if a child it cares for is hurt in some way.  The Dragon Breath move that it fires off at such times is powerful enough to blow down buildings.

Drampa can have the Berserk Ability, an ability that no other Pokemon has ever had.  With the Berserk Ability, this Pokemon's Sp.Atk will go up by 1 when it's HP drops below half.


Category: Roly-Poly Pokemon
Type: Electric/Steel
Height: 1'00''
Weight: 7.3 lbs.
Abilities: Iron Barbs/Lightning Rod

Togedemaru is the Roly-Poly Pokemon that gathers electricity and stores it.  The needle that grows from the back of its head works as a lightning rod to attract electricity.  With this reservoir of electrical energy, Togedemaru is able to release powerful Electric-type attacks.

Covering its body in is a pattern of fur with strands like needles.  This means that Togedemaru can roll itself up, and presto - a ball of prickles.

Some skilled Trainers have developed the strategy of getting other Pokemon to unleash Electric-type attacks on Togedemaru, which absorbs their power to use a response attack.

On days when lightning strikes, you can sometimes see Togedemaru gather and bristle up their needles, waiting to be struck by lightning.

The trailer has also revealed further looks at the new forms for the legendary Pokemon Zygarde, including showing the transformations from the doglike 10% form to the 50% form that we're all familiar with to the new 100% form.

It has also been revealed that both the 10% and 50% form can transform into the powerful Complete Form if they have the Power Construct Ability, which transforms the Pokemon during battle if its health falls below half, a kind of automatic mega-evolution.

Along with the new trailer several new screenshots were also released that show off the battle system, stunning new environments, trainer battles and rideable Pokemon.