Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Bisexual people still stigmatised when it comes to dating

Bisexual pride flag (from top): pink, purple and blue
Image: iStock

I know it’s nearly over, but I thought I would do this post in part because it’s Pride Month.

Writer and social worker, Deidre Fidge posted and article on ABC Everyday lamenting the stigma bisexual people still face.

According to the Australia Talks survey, 44% of nearly 60,000 respondents claimed they weren’t open to dating someone who’s bisexual. A further 15% claimed they were reluctant.

While you can’t control who you are (or aren’t) attracted to, this figure is quite alarming. And it does raise questions:

  • Do people automatically assume that people attracted to more than one gender will cheat?
  • Is there still stigma surrounding sexual history?
  • What sexual history do people assume bi/ poly/ pan people have?

Why LGBTQ+ people should stand by bisexual people

I believe that much of biphobia boils down to one pet peeve of mine: they’re reduced to what they ‘do’.

These stereotypes take away the humanity of LGBTQ+ people.

Sexual stereotypes that fuelled opposition to same – sex marriage for years.

That caused commentators to fear – monger about same – sex marriage leading to polygamy.

People assumed that same – sex couples can’t raise healthy children despite numerous studies saying otherwise. 

For years, asexual people have been told they’re broken or that asexuality doesn’t exist.

Transgender and non – binary people have become the new target. Basic reason? Because of people’s obsession of othering minorities and reducing them to what’s between their legs.

What’s disappointing is seeing and hearing other LGBTQ+ people go on the attack. Often, LGBTQ+ content creators and media personalities willingly throw other LGBTQ+ under the bus. Can we just make it stop?

Other issues bisexual people face

Statistically, bisexual people make up the biggest percentage of people that are LGBTQ+.

Bisexual people can experience hostility from both gay and straight people. Often, their orientation is not taken seriously. They are often pressured to ‘pick a side’. Bi women are assumed to be straight, but ‘experimenting’. Meanwhile, bi men are considered gay.

As a result of erasure and discrimination, bisexual people often experience loneliness, depression and suicidality.

Despite increase in gay and lesbian acceptance in the West, the same can’t be said for bisexual people. According to a study by Associate Professor, Brian Dodge. He told Washington Post that attitudes towards bisexuals have only improved slightly since the 1990’s.

But, won’t bisexual partners cheat?

People, regardless of gender identity or orientation can cheat.

There are a number of resons why a person may chest n a spouse or partner. They include: unmet needs, low self – esteem and the need for revenge.

Opportunity can be a risk factor. However, other factors listed above are usually at play.

So, can we put the idea that just because someone is bisexual or pansexual that they’re more likely to cheat to rest?

If you’re in Australia and this post has raised any issues, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636, or chat online.

QLife: 1800 184 527. They also have a webchat.

If you feel like you need emergency help, call 000.

As always, feel free to add support services or emergency contacts in the comments if you’re outside Australia.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality

Mental health and the need for asexuality inclusion in schools

Image: iStock

Trigger warning: This post deals with suicide and may be triggering for some readers.

In September last year, the worst nightmare for any parent came true. 13 – year – old, Lily Dowling had taken her own life.

Before her death, she wrote letters to her best friends and left them in thier lockers. 

Jane Hansen from Herald Sun described her as a “gorgeous 13 – year  – old with a love for Harry Potter books and the world at her feet…”

When speaking about her daughter, Emma Heeley said:

She was the kindest, most caring girl who was always looking out for others. She attracted really beautiful people and had a lot of friends. 

The warning signs

There were clues that Lily wasn’t coping. Lily had written a poem about her own death nine months before the tragedy. She’d posted it on Instagram. Unfortunately, Ms. Heeley only found the poem after Lily’s death. 

By August 2019, Lily had started to withdraw.

“I knew something was really, really wrong, but she would just close up and not talk to me”, Ms. Heeley said. 

Lily refused to go to therapy.

Lily’s death is only one of a string of suicides among young girls that have gotten worse over the last ten years.

Lily came out as asexual

Three months before her death, Lily came out on Instagram as asexual. (Kudos for Jane Hansen for properly defining it in the article). 

Professor Ian Hickie raised concern about young people feeling the need to put a label on themselves in such a sexualised culture.

It’s true that young people shouldn’t be forced to place a label on themselves before their ready. Sexuality can be complex, especially while growing up.

Having said that, young people, should be able to come out if they feel sure about how they feel. 

How many cases like this out there?

How many young asexual people feel lost, depressed and even suicidal? Studies suggest that young LGBT people are at least 2.5 times more likely to take their own lives than heterosexual peers. However, this data excludes asexual and non binary trans people. 

In a paper, Morag Yule, Lori Brotto and Boris Bolzaka guessed that asexual individuals may suffer worse mental health issues due to stigma than other groups.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case. What I found the hardest growing up was the erasure. I was told that asexuality Leither didn’t exist or it was something that people grew out of. 

I’ve said before that I don’t blame the people that told me these myths. This was in the early 2000’s – from 2005 to 2007. But I do hope things are changing.

School counsellors and other mental health workers need to know about asexuality

Everyone should feel free to go to a counsellor. LGBTQ+ people need to have counsellors that are going to accept and validate their identities and experiences. They need to know they won’t be judged.

This is why acceptance of asexual people is so important. School counsellors, social workers and other mental health workers need to know that asexuality is real. 

 

Maybe this can be included in a professional development program. Or make it a part of social work and psychology degree subjects/ modules. You might be scoffing at this, but the time for erasure and ignorance needs to end. 

 

 

If you feel like you need assistance, you can call Lifeline: 13 11 14.

BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 (you can also chat online. They also have LGBTQ+ resources. They include asexuality).

If you believe that you or someone you know is in crisis, contact 000 or your country’s emergency number. 

Please leave your thoughts or helpful mental health hotlines in your area in the comments below. 

 

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Aromantic: short and sweet explanation

Aromantic pride flag
Image: iStock

About ten years ago, there was  a mini – explosion in aromantic and asexual awareness in the media.

MamaMiaCleo Australia and Ten’s The Project all ran stories about asexual and aromantic people. Of course, they had their detractors.

Now, aromantic people are in the spotlight. This is in part because the Yarra council in Melbourne has placed the aromantic flag over Richmond, Fitzroy and Abbotsford town halls.

What is aromantic?

Think about this: Have you ever had a crush? Have you planned dates, romantic getaways and weddings with a loved one in mind?

Do you get butterflies or nerves, when you see or think of someone in particular?

Well, some people don’t. They don’t feel the ‘butterflies’ or the desire for another person to be their significant other. They are aromantic.

That’s the simplest way I can explain it.

Because romance and sex often go hand in hand in society, there can be confusion for asexual people. How do you define “romantic attraction” when it’s divorced (no pun intended) from sexual attraction?

Here’s what I think about it. Romantic attraction is when you want to take a relationship beyond what is considered friendship. It’s when you want to date, be in  a relationship and maybe marry.

To muddy the waters, some aromantic people are in relationships that, on the outside look like romantic ones. They are known as queer – platonic. So, my personal definition above may not fit everyone.

Grey zones

Romantic (and sexual) attraction can exist on a spectrum. There are a number of terms that describe this spectrum:

  • Grey – romantic: simplest definition is someone who find themselves not 100% aromantic. Someone who is grey – romantic may feel romantic attraction rarely, in only specific circumstances (more on that later), or may be too weak to act on.
  • Demi – romantic: People who identify as demi – romantic don’t form crushes on strangers. They only fall in love with people they are close with, such as a best friend.
  • Fray – romantic: This is a less known grey – romantic orientation. Accoriding to LGBTA Wikia,  fray – romanticism is the opposite to demi – romanticism. They lose romantic interest after a connection has formed.

This is by no means an extensive list. This is only a few terms that are used to describe experiences of people on the aromantic spectrum.

 

My plea to skeptics

I can already sense people rolling their eyes. But please consider this. Many aromantic and/ or asexual people often grow up feeling isolated and “broken”. Having these labels (and more) give people language for what they do (or don’t) experience.

Often, people on the aromantic/ asexual spectrum to fall into self doubt and self – loathing because they don’t fit in. That’s why aromantic and asexual awareness is important.

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Queensland becomes the first Australian state to ban conversion therapy

Bible held by rainbpw - coloured hand with cross in a rainbow - coloured background
Image: iStock

 

CW: LGBTQ conversion therapy. This content may be distressing to some readers

Last week,  Queensland has made a historical leap  and introduced laws against LGBTQ+ conversion practices.

It will be illegal for health professionals to suggest ‘therapy’ to change a patient’s sexuality or gender identity.

Medical practitioners suggesting or performing the practice can face up to eighteen months in jail.

Criticisms of the Bill

The bill has been criticised from both ends of the political spectrum. Of course, there is ‘concern’ about how it will affect the counselling of trans and gender diverse children – pushing the idea that children are forced to take hormones and surgery prematurely.

Other critics say that the bill doesn’t go far enough Anti – conversion therapy advocate, Chris Csabs expressed disappointment that only the medical community was targeted in the bill.

Csabs claimed that 90% of conversion victims have experienced the practice in non – medical settings.

It makes sense. All major medical and psychological bodies worldwide reject the notion that sexual orientation and gender identity can be ‘fixed’. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973.

Since then, conversion therapy has been condemned for LGB+ and trans youth.

Should conversion practices be illegal for religious communities?

The only context that ‘conversion therapy’ most likely happens is within religious groups. While churches like Hillsong has shied away from conversion practices  years ago, other organisations probably still do it.

There are most likely young LGBTQ+ people still at risk of being subjected to the harmful practice. Should this also be outlawed? Ideally, yes. But do you run the risk of pushing it underground? What if that makes the practice even more dangerous? What if physical abuse becomes apart of the ‘therapy’?

 

Ultimately, conversion therapy will only become a thing of the past when people realise that LGBTQ+ people can’t change. And that they shouldn’t have to. Conversion therapy will only become a thing of the past when LGBTQ+ people are welcomed and included in all aspects of society. That’s up to religious groups, families, schools and the medical communities.

 

Update

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has also seen a bill to outlaw conversion therapy.

The Sexuality and Gender  Conversion Practices Bill is targeted at not just medical practitioners, but also parents who push their children into it.

The bill differentiates between conversion therapy and counselling aimed at gender diverse youth before medical transition. The Bill allows the latter.

 

Another update

The ACT’s Sexuality and Gender Conversion Practices Bill has been passed. Vagueness has been cleared up.

Religious groups have also been assured that they won’t be penalised because of their views on sexuality or gender identity.

Let’s hope it works and that people will realise that LGBTQ+ people are who they are and can’t change that aspect of their identity. It’s honestly the only way that conversion practices will finally become a thing of the past.

If this post has raised any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 

For people under 25, there is also Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Asexual people need the police. Here’s why.

Asexual ityflag
Image: iStock

 

Content warning: this post mention# sexual assault. If this is triggering for you, please proceed with caution.

Last week, LGBT+ Police UK put out a statement supporting asexual people.

This has caused a stir, with some journalists complaining.

So, is it important that police publicly support asexual people? Actually, yes, it is. Asexual people have faced a number of social issues that are rarely acknowledged.

Asexual people and sexual violence

Statistics have been hard to come by when researching this. However, some asexual women have reported being raped or sexually assaulted. Known as ‘corrective rape’, asexual women and lesbians, have been raped in order to ‘fix’ their orientation. According to Sarah Doa Minh, corrective rape happens in different parts of the world, including the U.S.

In her 2014 book, An Invisible Orientation, An Introduction to Asexuality, Julie Sondra Decker, recalled being indecently assaulted at the end of a date when she was nineteen. The date proceeded to kiss her without her permission.

Asexual people who get married also need to know they are protected as well. Marital rape is a crime in Western countries (as it should be). Asexual people need to know that they have a right to not be coerced and/ or raped by a spouse.

I haven’t found any data based on asexuals in Australia, which in itself, I find problematic. But going by what has happened overseas, it’s something that people need to be aware of.

Queerphobia and LGBT asexuals

Some asexuals are are attracted to the same – sex and/ or are transgender or gender non – binary. These individuals can face similar, if not the same prejudices and discrimination that other LGBT people face.

Asexual people with a same – sex partner may face the same issues when in public with their same – sex partner. Some may be harassed or violently attacked, like gay, lesbian and bisexual counterparts.

Other services need to get onboard

While it’s good that police departments are supporting asexual people, other community groups also need to get on board.

Too often, asexual people are disbelieved by mental health services. They may even have their lack of sexual attraction pathologised. As a result, real mental health issues may be minimised or ignored.

Mental health workers may not be sinister. They could just be misinformed, thinking it’s a fad, a symptom of a problem, or a phase that people ‘grow out of’. While not always malicious, these assumptions are unhelpful and asexual people looking for mental health support do not these misconceptions to add to and exacerbate real issues.

Homoromantic, biI ro mantic, pan romantic and transgender and gender non – binary people need to be able to find mental health services that can assist them too. I find it scary that since same – sex marriage has been legalised, state and federal politicians and lobby groups have pushed to have anti – discrimination laws back-pedalled. While it’s the argument has been used to protect, conservative cake bakers, there has been some push to allow counsellors to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds.

 

Like everyone else, asexual people will need access to different services. This means health, social services and law enforcement. The fact that a police department is willing to protect asexual people is quite comforting.

If you’re in Australia and you feel you need to get support, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Or you can call 000 (or national emergency number) for emergencies.

If you’re from another country, feel free t9 comment with any contact details of services. In your area.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

LGBTQ+ Muslims deserve our support

Islam symbol and mosque (top), LGBTQ pride flag (bottom)
Images: iStock.

 

One thing I like about the broadcaster, SBS is how they often present minority and diverse communities.

Sometimes, minority identities clash. LGBTQ+ Muslims often feel this clash.

Last Thursday in the lead up to 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, SBS Pride published an article on a Muslim Pride event coming up in London. It’s set to happen on April 11 after a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Unfortunately, the organisers and participants can expect backlash.

LGBTQ+ Muslims face opposition among Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community

It’s no secret that there is often hostility between Islam and LGBTQ+ people. Countries and provinces that implement Sharia law often outlaw homosexuality. The punishments for this ‘crime’ often include execution or other barbaric practices, such as flogging.

LGBTQ+ Muslims who grow up in Western countries are often ostracised and abused by their families and community. Lebanese – Australian, Hussein Hawley told the ABC his family tried to “beat the gay” out of him before kicking him out of home.

Like many other LGBTQ+ people, LGBTQ+ Muslims are at high risk of suicide.

LGBTQ+ people of colour face discrimination in LGBTQ+ spaces

Muslims are not the only people who struggle fitting within the LGBTQ+ community.

People of colour, (including non – Muslims) report being discriminated against.

According to Stonewall UK, 51% LGBTQ+ people of colour have experienced racism within the LGBTQ+ community. Unfortunately, this number rose to 61% for black people. This is not right and needs to be condemned.

LGBTQ+ Muslims and the no true Scotsman fallacy

When I was reading some comments on Facebook, I was disappointed, although not surprised. The whole ‘let’s see this happen  in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc’, came up. As if LGBTQ+ Muslims are responsible for theocratic and totalitarian regimes. Are LGBTQ+ Christians responsible for the likes of Steven Anderson or Roger Jiminez? I don’t think so. No doubt, LGBTQ+ Muslims may face uncertainty and de – programming and find their way through their beliefs. Many LGBTQ+ people of faith face similar struggles.

Plus, there was the No True Scotsman statements, i.e. ‘you can’t be gay and Muslim’. Here’s the thing: you can’t choose your sexual orientation or gender identity. And you can’t change it. Ask any LGBTQ+ Christian pushed into conversion therapy.

However, all people should be able to freely choose their faith. Everyone deserves the right to explore their faith and relationship with the divine.

LGBTQ+ people of faith also deserve the opportunity to participate in a community. And the LGBTQ+ community needs to be a viable option if their faith community isn’t.

The LGBTQ+ community often campaign for inclusive and non – discriminatory policies. Maybe it’s time that some of them walk the walk.

SBS’s coverage of Mardi Gras reflects diversity

SBS did a great job in broadcasting the Mardi Gras. I liked how they reflected the diversity within the LGBTQ+, including ethnic  and religious diversity. They’re often good like that.

 

I can only hope that all LGBTQ+ people will be able to feel welcomed in the future. I hope that Pride and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole will become a place where everyone can be their true selves and be embraced. I hope LGBTQ+ spaces become safe spaces for those who need it most.

 

Are LGBTQ+ spaces exclusionary to people of faith or colour? Have you felt excluded from an LGBTQ+ space? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality

Study suggests that LGBTQ+ youth feel unsafe online

Girl with tablet crying
Image: iStock

It’s well known that cyber bullying is a scourge facing too many young people today. School bullies now target their victims after the final bell rings. Homes are no longer a safe haven for many victims.

According to education resource, Bullying No Way, one in five young people under eighteen experience online bullying. It is more common in secondary school than primary school.

It’s important to note that Bullying No Way advises caution when dealing with statistics on bullying.

Of course, numbers surrounding bullying can be hard to pinpoint due to lack of reporting. Shame and fear keep victims silent.

LGBTQ+ youth vulnerable to cyber bullying

The internet, especially social media has been an avenue of connection and exploration for young LGBTQ+ people. However, it can be hazardous too.

Cyber security blogger, Sarah Turner published an article on VPN Mentor suggesting that LGBTQ+ youth are vulnerable online.

In Turner’s study, 695 young people were surveyed. While it’s a small sample, the results are quite alarming.

  • 73% of all respondents claimed they’d been harassed online
  • 50%  of respondents had experienced sexual harassment online
  • Asexual people felt the least safe online of all sexual identities
  • Transwomen felt most unsafe online out of the gender identities. They also risked being outed.

This is not the only study to suggest LGBTQ+ youth are vulnerable online.

According to ConnectSafely, multiple studies from 2012 onwards concluded that LGBTQ+ young people are up to three times more likely to be cyber bullied than cisgender and straight peers. A 2012 study by Warren Blumenfeld and RM Cooper found that 52% of LGBTQ+ youth between 11 – 22 had been targets of cyber bullies a number of times.

In 2015, Centre of Disease Control (CDC) also found LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to be targets.

I’m usually skeptical of studies that rely on small sample sizes. But there’s a pattern that’s emerged that can’t be ignored.

 

Cyber bullying of LGBTQ+ people should be dealt with

One of the common arguments against the Safe Schools program was it’s emphasis on LGBTQ+ youth, rather than bullying as a whole.

If Australia is like the US in bullying rates, maybe we do need to have some LGBTQ+ – specific anti – bullying strategies.

I also think that many LGBTQ+ young people still face shame about their sexuality or gender identity. This prevents LGBTQ+ victims from reaching out for help. This exacerbates the pain and humiliation that bullying victims already experience. This is why I strongly believe that schools need to be openly supportive of LGBTQ+ students.

If this post has raised any issues with you or your loved ones, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or via chat on their website

Kids Helpline (for those under 18): 1800 551 800

Like always, if you’re not from Australia, please provide any contact details of counselling services from your area in the comments below.

Final note: the VPN Mentor article was brought to my attention via an email (thank you to the emailer). If you would like to give me any articles, blog posts,  or anything else, you can contact me through comments section, the contact form or email me at: sharnetty@glycerinequeenmedia.com. I’ll try and get to as many responses/ emails as I can.

Categories
LGBTQ rights

The bigotry against the trans/ gender non – binary community should stop

 

Public toilet signs: female, male, disabled
Image: iStock

Bigotry against the trans/ gender non – binary community always gets under my skin and I feel like I have to respond.

The latest I’ve seen is a retweet from a journalist/ commentator that, frankly, I’m starting to lose respect for. Here is what the journalist/ commentator retweeted:

https://twitter.com/boodleoops/status/1053317526749396995

I read in another tweet that this ‘poll’ is extremely biased and is deliberately aimed at hard – line anti – trans conservatives, so it’s safe to assume that it isn’t representative of the population.

The problem with the question

The question of the ‘poll’ itself is problematic. “Should everyone who identifies as female have access to women – only spaces?”. The question conveys the idea that cis – men will simply identify as women to enter women’s spaces, including public toilets. A few years ago, conservative politicians and journalists spread paranoia about the safety of women and girls if transwomen used women’s facilities. In 2015, Vox pointed out  that there had been no reports of sexual misconduct by men pretending to be women in public toilets.  Mic Network also confirmed  this myth

Now, people are panicking that becoming transgender is a fashion. Transgender people don’t just ‘decide’ to become transgender out of the blue. According to the American Psychological Association, while people may experience their gender identity at various stages of life, many trans people know that they are ‘different’ from early childhood.

And let get this one thing clear: professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists don’t just throw hormones people willy nilly. Junkee wrote a really good article that  not only debunked the “gender whisperer’ hysteria stoked by the Daily Telegraph, but also called out and debunked the idea that transgender identity and hormonal and surgical treatment is done on a whim.

Dr. Elizabeth Riley, who was interviewed for the article, condemned how she was misrepresented. She claimed that her role was to help teachers identify children who may be trans, but also said that the process in identifying trans students is a lot more complicated than what the Daily Telegraph insinuated.

When talking about the diagnostic process in helping trans people she told Junkee: 

The parents will usually come and see me, and I’ll recommend that they go to Westmead Children’s Clinic and see a psychiatrist for a full diagnosis. And it’s only if the child is 100% [certain] and [their status is] clear that we even go down this path (gender reaffirming treatment).

(Emphasis mine).

So, the myth that parents are often left in the dark about a child’s transgender/ gender dysphoria status is debunked. So is the idea that people identify transgender willy nilly or because it’s ‘fashionable’.

The dark side of the trans and public spaces paranoia

I must admit, I’ve made the mistake of thinking the trans/ gender non – conforming community should step away from the public bathroom/ change room debate. Then I remember how dangerous this ‘debate’ has actually become, particularly in the US.

In August, Achille Public Schools were closed for two days after a twelve year – old trans girl was threatened with violence and mutilation via a Facebook group by a number of parents. This was sparked when they found out that she was given permission to use a female toilet. Where was the “protect the children” brigade? Anyone want to advocate for the safety of this TWELVE YEAR – OLD who was threatened with violence and MUTILATION? Anyone?

So, while there is NO evidence that cis – male perverts use women’s bathrooms to assault and harass young girls and women and yet a twelve – year old child has been dehumanised (some referred to her as a “thing”), threatened with physical violence and mutilation, people want to focus on the non – existent threat of male perverts accessing women’s spaces in order to harass women and young girls. (Before anyone screams at me that there are articles that suggest that men have gone to women’s bathrooms to harass women and girls, those cases have been debunked.

The role of the media

I am getting sick of columnists and presenters in the mainstream media misrepresenting LGBTQ+ issues. This is why I believe independent media is so important. I do applaud Junkee for putting the “gender whisperer’ hysteria to rest. I encourage more Australian independent outlets to the same and I encourage Australians to read articles from independent outlets to get other perspectives.

 

I want to emphasise some points (unfortunately, I feel I have to). Trans people don’t choose to be trans. It’s not a fashion. It’s not simple, either the cause or the diagnosis process. And… THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT MEN ARE ‘IDENTIFYING’ AS TRANSGENDER TO HARASS AND ASSAULT WOMEN AND GIRLS. The media needs to STOP spreading this.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality News

You don’t have to call me they/ their. She/ her is fine.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ADJ74s1-XW4&t=301s

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has started ‘They Day’ campaign. The alleged aim is to prevent misgendering transgender and gender non – binary people by referring to everyone with ‘they/ their/ them’.

I support transgender and non – binary people. I believe that it’s extremely disrespectful to deliberately misgender a trans person and refer to them by their deadname (the name they were given at birth, but no longer identify with).

However, this campaign is not needed, nor, frankly,  helpful. As I wrote in my last blog post, it’s estimated that 25 – 35% of transgender people identify as gender non – binary according to estimates in the US and UK. The latest Australian Census from 2016 revealed that 35% of transgender respondents classified themselves as non – binary. Those respondents may respond positively with being referred to as they/ them/ theirs. But for cis gender and the majority of transgender people, this isn’t the case.

 

This also makes me wonder when we can move past this debate? I’m not saying it’s not important or should be dismissed, but I want LGBTQ+ people and their allies to talk about public policy. What do you want from government and society? Even after the legalisation of same –  sex marriage, there is so much we can focus on, much of it I’ve talked about it here: ending conversion therapy for minors and in the medical field, ending discrimination in workplaces and schools, ensuring teachers and School Guidance Counsellors have proper information on LGBTQ+ people so they can spark discussion and not (accidentally) spread misinformation (i.e. that asexuality doesn’t exist or that it’s a phase) and ending sexual violence and harrassment against bisexual and asexual women. On a global level, LGBTQ+ activists could work on ending corrective rape, ensuring that homeless shelters and emergency accommodations are inclusive to transgender people, demand that the West stop supporting and aligning themselves with governments that have capital punishment for homosexuality like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Western governments should make sure that LGBTQ+ people who are at risk of execution can seek asylum and refuge in a Western country without the risk of being forced to return to the country in which they fled. (Brief trigger warning) We should also be a voice to children, often ten or younger who have been tortured and murdered for not adhering to gender norms and that ‘parents’ suspect of being gay. Many other young people risk assault from their ‘parents’ for coming out as LGBTQ+. I believe it’s these issues that LGBTQ+ people, their allies, corporations, government, etc should focus on.

Workplace inclusion and visibility (another issue many trans/ non – binary people face) is needed. Why not have a meeting or professional development day where colleagues can be made to aware of the use if they/ them/ their and ze/ zir pronouns within the transgender community? Make sure all forms have options other than male or female. Why not have specific policies (which no doubt all would), that states that discrimination against all people (both staff and clients), based on ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, etc  will not be tolerated?

 

It’s great that members of the DHHS want to address trans/ non – binary inclusion. But I think they are going about it the wrong way. Do it through policy and creating a workplace and service that promotes inclusion. Not a video campaign about calling everyone ‘they’. I really don’t think it’s needed.

What do you think about ‘They Day’ campaign? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Why I validate non – binary people

Non - binary gender symbol
Image: iStock

 

July 14 was Gender Non – Binary Day.

 

Gender non – binary is a blanket term for people who don’t identify exclusively as male or female. Some don’t identify with a gender at all (agender).

Statistics and erasure

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) first collected data that to include gender non – binary people in 2016. They found that approximately 35% of those who indicated that they were transgender also indicated that they were gender non – binary.

The American Psychological Association estimates that 25 – 35% of transgender people identify as non – binary.

Despite this, I’ve been disheartened at how many people, both within and outside the LGBTQ+ community invalidate non – binary identities. American YouTuber, who’s also trans, Blaire White is one of those people, arguing that there is only male and female. Sydney Herald columnist, Cate Mcgregor argued the same thing when she condemned Safe Schools in 2016 (she has since changed her view on the program).

Why does this matter?

If you read anything about the struggle of bisexual people, you’ll know that they are over represented in hate crime and donestic violence statistics. This is at the very least, exacerbated by erasure and not being believed, or, the other extreme, fetishised. I’ve written that asexual women in particular are often victins of harassment and sexual assault because they aren’t believed.

According to Stonewall UK, both binary and non – binary trans people have experienced a hate crime within a twelve month period, (41% and 31% respectively).

  • 28% of trans people reported being victims of domestic violence
  • Roughly 12% (1 in 8) trans people reported physical attacks at work by colleagues
  • 25% of trans people have also experienced homelessness
  • 41% of trans people have experienced hate crimes

These statistics are horrible. All people, regardless of gender identity or any other factor, should be able to feel safe at work, in public and at home.

Most importantly, the rate of homelessness and hate crime highlight the need for law enforcement and shelter operators to be inclusive and supportive of binary and non – binary trans people so people can find safety and justice. I’m pretty sure I’ve wrote in the past that s study in the US revealed that both binary and non – binary homeless trans people often find it very difficult to find appropriate homeless shelters that align with their identity and where they are accepted and feel safe. Binary trans people are often rejected by services that cater to their gender, while non – binary people often don’t have any services or shelters available for them at all.

 

Gender non – binary and asexuality

Asexuality flag in shape of heart
Image iSock

The reason why I feel the need to defend and validate gender non – binary people is it wasn’t that long ago that asexual people were misunderstood, not believed and ridiculed. In 2014, 2GB’s Steve Price was criticised for his comments about asexuality on The Project such as ‘try harder’ and ‘I find that [being asexual] ridiculous’. I remember watching the repeat of that segment and was quite offended by what I heard. Another panellist also sarcastically spread misinformation about asexual people. 

While The Morning Show wasn’t as harsh in talking about asexuality, misinformation  was spread and it wasn’t taken seriously.

Asexual invisibility has had more harmful consequences than just ridicule. In her book An Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, author and asexual activist Julie Sondra Decker highlighted discrimination and even sexual harassment and assault that asexual people face. She cited a study where a number of landlords admitted that they would likely reject applications from asexuals who wanted to rent their property. Asexual people were looked at less favourbly than gays or lesbians.

Everyone should be able to live freely, safely and without fear. I believe that for minorities, visibility and validation contributes that. It’s the first step for the whole LGBTQ+ community to be able to access services that most people take for granted.

To trans/ non – binary people, what have been your experiences? Have you found it hard to access services you needed? How have your experiences been at work and oublic? Feel free to share your experiences below.