Categories
Opinion/Commentary

People with mental illnesses face employment discrimination

Woman's hands unravelling tangled red threads in a white head to symbolise the brain and psychological problems
Image: Ildar Abulkhanov, iStock

In New South Wales, people with disabilities are (supposedly) protected under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Employers are forbidden to explicitly deny a candidate’s application due to disability.

Despite this, people with disabilities face barriers to employment. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as people without disabilities (10% vs 4.6%)

People with mental illnesses struggle to find work

It’s not just people with physical or neurological developmental disorders that face an uphill battle. According to Lauren Ahwan in the Herald Sun, people with mental illnesses face barriers to employment.

People with mental illnesses, including major depressive disorder, anxiety and post – traumatic stress disorder are twice as likely to be unemployed than the general population.

During the pandemic, there was an increased awareness of mental illnesses, especially depression. However, according to Australian College of Applied Professions senior lecturer, Timothy Hsi:

Mental illness is still seen as a weakness.

Most people are trying to be very optimistic and accepting, but in the back of minds of employers, they still think ‘Is this mental health condition going to affect (an employee’s ability to work)?

Timothy Tsi to Herald Sun,

Tsi argues that people with mental conditions can be just as productive as anyone else.

Employers could be making their candidate pool small

Woman employer smiling while interviewing a man while holding his job application
Image: SDI Productions, iStock

Every now and then, you hear employers who are crying out for more workers. Vacancies aren’t being filled.

Yet, they are making their candidate pool smaller. Last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported:

  • More than 40% (43.7%) of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced a mental illness in their lifetime
  • More than one in five (21.4%) had a 12-month mental illness
  • Anxiety disorders were the most common
  • Almost two fifths (39.6%) of 16 to 24 had a 12 – month mental disorder.

Few things: these statistics only reflect people who admit they have a condition. The ABS data can’t include those who aren’t diagnosed or are in denial.

These statistics don’t predict the future. Anyone’s mental health can go south at any point. In 2019, journalistand author, Allastair Campbell made an eye – opening point:

We use these figures ‘1 in 4 will be mentally ill at some point in their lives’. 1 in 1 of us has got mental health and it’s never perfect

Allastair Campbell on Q and A, 22 July 2019

How to find an employer if you have a mental illness

If you do suffer a mental illness and are looking for work, Hsi advises:

  • Choose an employer who is supportive of people with mental illnesses
  • Present yourself at your best. It may be a good idea to practice relaxation techniques to avoid stumbling in interviews
  • If you need to, appoint a friend or support person nearby or to be in the room with you.

People are assets, not liabilities

In Australia, employers are expected to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate for people with disablities. I think we should change this mentality.

Employers should consider what candidates with disabilities and/ or mental illnesses can add to their company. I think we emphasise too much on what employers need to do to accommodate people. This probably employers hesitant.

So what can people with mental illnesses/ disabilities add to a workplace?

  • People with mental illnesses can be very empathetic. This is great for the employer, colleagues and customers/ clients
  • People with mental illnesses are very resilient. For example, according to Mimdful Meggie, people who have been treated for obsessive compulsive disorder can be more resilient and face adversity head-on

When we talk about employment and people with mental illnesses, strength, not liabilities should be the focus. Imagine a workplace that fosters more empathy and resilience. If that doesn’t make a better business, I don’t know what does.

What do you think? What can be done to decrease employment discrimination against people with disabilities or mental illnesses? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality

Pressures on women, anti – trans rhetoric and LGBTQ+ bigotry are linked. Here’s how

Group of women from various cultural backgrounds smiling and laughing together
Image: SouthWorks, iStock

Last year, people were asking one question — what is a woman? Daily Wire’s, Matt Walsh made a documentary asking people that very question.

I haven’t watched What Is A Woman? I’ve only seen a great critique from YouTuber, Jessie Gender.

Through parody, Jessie Gender explored gender norms and steretypes. She also explored the role of patriarchy.

Jessie Gender parodying Matt Walsh
Through parodying commentator, Matt Walsh, Jessie Gender explored gender, gender stereotypes and oppression

She criticised Walsh’s interview style, including using leading questions and using the Maasai tribe to enforce traditional gender roles. What Walsh failed to admit was that life for Maasai women is oppressive.

Most Maasai women aren’t educated. According to Maasai Girl Education, only 48% of girls are enrolled in primary education. Only 10% enrol in secondary education.

Even more shocking, when a girl hits puberty (11 to 13), Maasai girls are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

The Maasai tribe sees gender as more black and white than the West. Women are also treated as second class citizens. So ot beats me why Walsh used them to reinforce his arguments.

Dictionary expands definition of ‘woman’

Different dictionaries have different definitions for ‘woman’.

Merriam – Webster defines ‘woman’ as:

a. An adult female person

b. a woman belonging to a particularly category (as by birth, residence, membership or occupation) — usually used in combination

Cambridge Dictionary has a more expansive definition:

an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.

Don’t use motherhood as a means to exclude

One contention about the definition of woman is motherhood. ‘Women have the ability to bear children!’, conservatives boom.

People are going to be annoyed by these cliches, but:

  • What about cis women that are infertile?
  • What about women that will never get into a stable (straight) relationship to have a child naturally?
  • What about women who have fertility issues because they’re intersex?
  • What about aromantic asexual woman who never enters a straight relationship?
  • Is it still OK for lesbian/ homoromantic and other women who love women (wlw) to seek IVF to have a baby?

I think the sudden obsession about motherhood is deliberately heteronormative. Something some women will never be.

I think that’s by design…

This is an attack on LGBTQ+ people as a whole

Trigger warning: this part of the post deals with gun voilence and homophobia. Please proceed with caution or stop reading this post altogeter.

Basing gender debate on stereotypes is an attack on LGBTQ+ people. It’s no coincidence that the gender debate has coincided with fearmongering over drag queens.

It’s also no coincidence that same – sex marriage was temporarily on shaky ground in the U.S. And, while conservatives can’t be blamed, five people were gunned down at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado last November.

Yes, yes, the shooter who I won’t name) is non – binary. They also have a very homophobic father.

Like the aftermath of Pulse Nightclub massacre in 2016, pastors praised the murders at Club Q.

LGBTQ+ people, especially in the US, are in dangerous and uncertain territory. This is why I don’t understand how LGBTQ+ people who agree with people who are transphobic. Be careful!

I believe that there is a backlash against the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s hope it doesn’t result in LGBTQ+ rights being erased.

What do you think? What’s your view on Matt Walsh’s documentary? What about the state of LGBTQ+ rights in the West? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

The ‘Religious Discrimination Bill was always an attack on the LGBTQ+ community

Image iStock

The Religious Freedom Bill has been suspended indefinitely. Let’s hope it never sees the light of day.

This has been a big blow to Scott Morrison. It has disappointed conservatives and torn the Liberal National Party (LNP) apart.

The Religious Discrimination Bill has collapsed because it’s true intent has been exposed.

The ‘Folau clause’

This was the first victim of the Religious Discrimination Bill’s collapse.

Israel Folau was a Rugby Union champion who was sacked in 2019 after he repeatedly defied Rugby AustralIa by posting anti – LGBTQ posts on social media.

The last offending post was a paraphrase of modern translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Folau threatened to sue Rugby Australia for religious discrimination. The case was settled outside court and Rugby Australia paid an undisclosed settlement to Folau.

The ‘Folau clause’ would have prevented employees being sacked under similar circumstances.

Citipointe Christian College contract controversy

Image: iStock

About a month ago, Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane came under fire after their enrolment contract that was leaked.

The contract denied the identities of trans and non – binary people. They also listed homosexuality as a sin among bestiality and paedophilia.

This caused fear for LGBTQ+ students. School principal, Brian Melhuran denied that students have been expelled for being LGBTQ+.

A former Citipointe Christian College student also alleged that students were shown a video of a person being beheaded in class as a deterrent to being LGBTQ+. Staff allegedly told students that’s what will happen in Hell.

The backlash against the school has been fierce. A change.org petition calling for a revocation of the contract gained over 150,000 signatures. In contrast, an Australian Christian Lobby petition defending the school has around 41,000 signatures.

As a result, Mulheran finally buckled and the contract was withdrawn.

Citipointe Christian students and Mulheran reported being harassed and receiving sdeath threats. This is NOT OK and shame on those who participate in that behaviour.

Citipointe fiasco causes panic and backflips

Scott Morrison has vowed to close existing loopholes in the Sex Discrimination Acts in numerous States. Currently, religious schools and institutions are exempt from discrimination laws against LGBTQ+ people.

Scott Morrison vowed to protect lesbian and gay students from expulsion from schools.

However, trans, non – binary people and their advocates were left disappointed. Trans and non – binary students were not granted the same protection.

Religious Discrimination Bill was always an anti – LGBTQ Bill

If something positive came out of Citipointe Christian College fiasco, it’s that the cat is out of the bag.

If the Religious Discrimination Bill, people like Brian Mulheran would have been emboldened.

Luckily, enough people saw through the spin. People were willing to stand up against bigotry. And as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I myself, I want to thank all those who stood up and protected vulnerable people.

Let’s never allow legislation that gives bigotry a foothold. We need to keep up the fight.

Do you agree disagree? Was the Religious Discrimination Act just an excuse to discriminate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Christian school backtracks on contract and PM vows change to Religious Freedom bill. A win for the LGBTQ+ community?

Image: iStock

Did Australia see ‘religious freedom’ in action?

Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College came under fire when they demanded parents of would – be students sign a contract that called homosexual and bisexual ‘acts’ a sin. They also refused to acknowledge the gender identity of a student who was trans or non – binary.

The contract listed homosexuality and bisexuality as ‘sins’, along with bestiality, fornication and incest. Unlike what other reports I’ve seen, no, the contract didn’t liken bestiality, etc with homosexuality and bisexuality.

The backlash

The condemnation was swift and fierce. A petition calling to recall the contract gained over 150,000 signatures. This is in contrast with an Australian Christian Lobby petition defending the school, which got around 30,000 signatures.

Pastor and Principal, Brian Mulheran dug his heels in, but denied that LGBTQ+ students get expelled for their orientation or gender identity:

While I have been principal at the college, we have not expelled or refused to enrol any student on the basis that they are gay or transgender.

Former students spoke out against the school. One student even alleged a disturbing incident when students saw a video of authorities beheading LGBTQ+ people to act as a deterrent. 

Last Friday, advocates organised a protest at King George Square in Brisbane.

Parents refused to sign contract

Parents told the ABC in an article that they refused to sign the contract. They condemned the college of discriminating against students on the basis of religion, as well as gender and sexuality. 

They argued that the contract violated Christian values. That depends on how you define ‘Christian values”. Do you define “Christian values” based on the Golden Rule? Or a modern loose interpretation on a handful of passages in the Bible? Pastor Mulheran apparently defines it by the latter.

The problem with ‘just go to another school’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. He even vowed that the pending Religious Discrimination Bill will actually protect LGBTQ+ students.

He has also promised that he’ll try and reverse anti – discrimination exemptions that are in place in a number of Australian States and Territories. 

These ‘promises’ have faced opposition among the Liberal/ National Party members.

One common argument against protections is that parents should ‘just look for another school’.

There are a few problems with this. Citipointe Christian College is K – 12. Children may not realise their LGBTQ+ by the time they are four or five. 

Some don’t know exactly what their sexuality or gender identity is until years later. So, if a student, who has been at Citipointe Christian College from Kindergarten, realise they may be gay at sixteen, what, should they just leave? It doesn’t make sense. Put the onus on schools, not parents or students.

 

Schools need to be inclusive

I’ve written before about my struggle with my sexuality when I was at school. It was hard to admit I was struggling with my sexuality in school. And I was offered nothing but support.

I’d hate to think how it would’ve been if the school wasn’t supportive. This is why I strongly believe that all schools should be welcoming and accepting of all students. They need to be a safe place for students, especially if they are not supported by parents or caregivers. Discrimination against students can’t be tolerated.

Latest updates

Pastor Mulheran released an ‘apology’ of sorts. There have been calls for him to resign. He is currently taking leave. It’s not known when/ if he’ll return. 

In Parliament, the Religious Discrimination Act and discrimination act exemptions are being debated.

My take? Scrap the exemptions and forget the Religious Discrimination Act. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people was always the aim of the Religious Discrimination Act.

What do you think of Citipointe Christian College or the Religious Discrimination Act debate? Feel free to put your thoughts (respectfully) in the comments below.

Australian drama slammed for racism

Image: iStock

CW: racism

Former actors from Australian hit drama, Neighbours have opened up about experiences of racism and homophobia.

Earlier this month, Shareena Clanton and Meyne Wyatt made allegations of racism, homophobia and misogyny. They alleged that terms like “lil monkey” and “ni**er” were used. However, Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi claims that word was said by a person of colour quoting rap lyrics.

Wyatt has also accused cast of homophobia.

Sharon Johal, who had played Dipi Rebecchi, joined the chorus, claiming that she was a victim of “direct and indirect racism”.

In a lengthy statement given to Guardian Australia, Johal claimed she tried to “deny, bury and ultimately survive” racial abuse from unnamed colleagues.

She accused show’s production company, Fremantle of not taking real action to prevent further abuse.

Clanton claimed that when she called out yhe cast member for using the offensive word, another colleague would defend the accused. Allegedly, Clanton was also told to ‘take it somewhere else’ and that other cast members were getting ‘uncomfortable’.

The Guardian Australia reported that an unnamed cast member was removed after some racism incidents. The alleged offender was ordered to attend cultural sensitivity training.

 

Neighbours and diversity

When I first read about these accusations, I was shocked. In the past ten years (roughly), Neighbours has had a number of LGBTQ+ characters. And, unlike Home and Away, they didn’t have a gay character for one or two episodes.

Over the years, Neighbours has explored multiple issues facing LGBTQ and ethnic minority communities. In 2018, Neighbours featured the marriage of David Tenaka (Takaya Honda) and Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson).

Neighbours has also had a number of people of colour. Episodes have explored issues like sexuality in Japanese culture, the Australia Day debate and Indian spirituality and meditation.

They have also fearured their first ever transgender character, Mackenzie Hargreaves. She’s been played by Georgie Stone. Stone became the youngest transgendender person in Australia to be granted the right to start puberty blockers.

Personally, as someone who watches Neighbours regularly, I find these allegations really disappointing. I mean, what’s the point? Have minorities just been used?

Enough virtue signalling. Time for proper action

If the allegations are true, I think there is something we can learn from the Neighbours controversy. It’s easy to fulfill a quota; have one or a few token people of colour, LGBTQ+ characters, employees, etc.

It’s another thing to combat discrimination. Every work place, including in the entertainment industry, should have zero tolerance for discrimination. Written policies should be in place stating what is and isn’t acceptable.

I also think that all allegations should be at least investigated before it becomes a major issue. No allegation of any form of abuse or discrimination should just be dismissed or downplayed. After an investigation, appropriate action should take place.

If your in Australia and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14.

If you feel like you’ve been a victim of racism, you can contact the Australian Rights Commission.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

ABC exposed former members of the Australian Alt – Right

 

When I think of ‘Alt – Right’ or ‘neo – Nazi’ movements, I think of the U.S. or Ukraine. There have been political scandals where the Alt – Right has tried to infiltrate parties. However, individuals haven’t been identified (not that I’ve seen).

Until now.

ABC names and interviews two former white supremacists

The ABC did an article identifying two self – confessed former white supremacists. They collaborated with the Sydney Morning Herald for the investigation.

Canberra couple, Lisa and Justin Beulah are self -confessed former white supremacists. Their aim was not only to spread their hatred toward other races, Jews and LGBTQ+ people, but also infiltrate political parties.

They were involved in the white supremacy infiltration scandal that rocked the NSW Young Liberals and Nationals. They were two out of the twenty – two that were permanently banned from the Nationals.

Discord account expose troubling ideology

Both Justin and Lisa were active on the message app Discord. Their accounts were leaked to independent media outlet Unicorn Riot.

The Discord messages that the ABC were troubling. Lisa, under the username MsNatSocialist expressed a love for Adolf Hitler and a desire for a 1940’s themed wedding with men wearing Nazi uniform costumes. Lisa defended herself saying she said that to keep herself welcomed into the Discord chat.

There was also a chat where Laura made a mockery of a victim in the Charlottesville riots. She defended the chat saying it was a ‘joke’.

Have they reformed?

I can’t say for certain whether the Beulahs have reformed or not. However, going by what I’ve read and seen, they may have reformed later than what they claim.

In the televised interview, Justin and Lisa insisted that they had reformed, pointing  out that if they were still white supremacists, they wouldn’t have agreed to do the interview.

754B2D14-1082-433B-9D1A-DE042F8424CC

 

A caution to the left and right

The Beulah’s story does really highlight the ugliness of white supremacy and antisemitism. Often, people who point out racism are slammed as politically correct or even accused of racism themselves. With the Beulahs, I don’t think their former activities are debatable. The Left should learn not to throw racism too liberally, either. Over the ears, I haven’t liked the way people use racism purely to smear others. Reading this article has just cemented my stance.

 

White supremacy is obviously not only ugly, but also dangerous. I don’t think it should be something that anyone in their right mind should or would aspire to.

 

A final thought on the article. I note the ABC’s mention that Laura was a fan of Pauline Hanson and her party One Nation.While I’m not a huge fan of Pauline Hanson or One Nation, I don’t think it’s fair to associate her with former white supremacists without givingPauline or another party member a chance to defend themselves. While I think One Nation have had issues, I thought that linking One Nation to Lisa’s radicalisation is unfair.

Did you read the article ‘Married to the Alt Right or watch the interview? What did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

‘White’ magazine closes after same – sex backlash: bullying or free market?

 

Australian wedding magazine, White announced that it’s ending production after twelve years. Creators Luke and Carla Burrell claimed that the magazine was no longer ‘economically viable’.

A number of wedding businesses pulled their support for the magazine after it was revealed in August that the Burrells were  deliberately excluding submissions from same – sex couples. There have beeen some reports that advertisers caved after a social media campaign turned nasty.

I am vehement when it comes to bullying. Nobody deserves it and it should always be condemned. However, reading articles on this story, it’s hard to tell for certainty whether advertisers boycotted White due to intimidation, or, rather it was in disagreement with the Burrels choosing not to feature same – sex couples in their publication. If it is the latter, then, the advertisers should have that right

One of the arguments used for the loosening of anti – discrimination protections against LGBTQ+ people is the free market. If a business refuses to cater for a gay wedding, for example, then word would get around and there may be a backlash against the business, hence, reducing their revenue and putting the survival of the business in jeopardy. Well, depending on the real reason for the advertiser boycotts,  it seems possible that’s what happened to White. Businesses pulled their support for White because of vehement disagreement with the Burrells on same – sex marriage and/ or not making their stance public. If this is the case, isn’t that what a part of being a free market is all about? Aren’t businesses (and advertisers), allowed to run in a way that suits their conscience?

Also, should businesses be able to operate in a way that satisfies their consumer base? Again, I do not condone bullying, threats or intimidation of any sort. But, what if a social media campaign isn’t vicious, but a businesses bottom line could be affected, can a business adjust, Or, at least reevaluate their values to make sure that customers are willing to support them? True, it may be the only reason why a business may support a particular cause, like Nike supporting former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick. Do companies and advertisers have a right to do this or not?

Also, as I’ve written on a number of times, magazines are becoming a shaky industry in Australia. Since 2016, Bauer Media has stopped the production of three major magazines: Dolly, Cosmopolitan Australia and Cleo. Could it be possible that print magazines became shaky for White, too?

 

One last thing, I really don’t think the White magazine controversy is a part of a ‘gay agenda’ (I hate that conspiracy!). It was a company that decided on, what turned out to be, an unprofitable venture (and possibly format given the ever collapsing of the print media industry), and the Burrells saw no option but to close. While it is a shame (I do feel for media companies have to close or journalists, photographers, etc who lose their jobs), it is a) the way much of the media in this country is going and b) exclusivity may not be a good business value to build on. Maybe since last year, Australia has moved in another direction.

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Kayla Kendrigan not the only case of violence against people with a disability

Content warning: this post mentions torture and may be triggering and upsetting for some readers. 

Kayla Kendrigan, 19, who is intellectually disabled, was kidnapped, tortured and almost murdered when she was thrown off Windsor Bridge while tied up. She feared that she would die, but miraculously survived.

Four of her former ‘friends’ received multiple charges including kidnapping and attempted murder.

The tip of the iceberg

It’s good that parts of the mainstream media have been reporting on this. Unfortunately, according to the Australian Institute for Family Studies, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey  of Disability, Ageing and Carers has failed to collect and display data on abuse against people with disabilities. States and Territory surveys have also failed to collect data that properly reports the issue. However, the attack against Kendrigan is far from an isolated incident.

Earlier this year on ABC’s series You Can’t Ask That: Sexual Abuse Survivors, it was pointed out that more than 70% of women with physical disabilities and over 90% of women with intellectual disabilities are victims of sexual violence.

Woman with Downs Syndrome
People with intellectual disabilities are particularly vulnerable to violence image: iStock

According to World Health Organisation, studies suggest that children with disabilities are nearly four times more likely to be victims of  physical violence and more than twice more likely to be sexually assaulted than able – bodied peers.

Adults with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely to experience violence. People with mental conditions experience violence almost five times (4.6) higher than the general population.

 

Tackling the problem

It’s obvious, at least to me, that things need to change. Not only does there need to be a condemnation of violence against people with disabilities, but discrimination needs to be condemned completely. Croner-i offers these tips for employers:

  • Avoid asking job applicants for information about their disability or health (in Australia, people with a disability usually have no legal requirement to do so)
  • Be aware of unfavourable treatment of a person with a disability or their actions (i.e. needing medication, sick days, etc) are often unlawful (certain modifications are also protected under Australia’s Disability Discrimination  Act 1992
  • Be prepared to make relevant and reasonable adjustments to help employees with disabilities
  • Be proactive in considerations in assisting employees with a disability or medical condition.
  • Consider whether there’s a need to reallocate responsibilities that go beyond a person’s ability
  • Avoid negative assumptions about people with disabilities
  • Avoid fitness, qualifications and other requirements unless they are essential for the job
  • Any job advertisements should make no mention or implication, that the job is not suitable for disabled people
  • Make sure that any health screening is properly justified
  • Employers should make sure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities for promotions, pay rises, etc.
  • Provide guidance for managers to be aware of generalised assumptions and prejudices when dealing with job applications
  • Make sure equal opportunity policy is devised and implemented and clearly states that discrimination and harassment of people with disabilities will not be tolerated.
  • Make sure managers and recruiters are knowledgeable of policies and procedures regarding equal opportunity and making reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities.
  • Be aware of the country’s or state’s legal definition of disability
  • Make sure that no person with a disability is victimised if they make a complaint alleging discrimination or harassment
  • Take all complaints seriously and make sure that they are investigated and dealt with thoroughly
  • Make sure that any redundancies guidelines are followed carefully and don’t have adverse negative impacts on employees with disabilities.
  • Make sure that any data collecting regarding an employee’s disability or medical condition is only done with their full knowledge and written consent.
  • Use any data collected solely for the purpose of workplace adjustments and monitoring
  • Take necessary steps to prevent unfair treatment of employee by other staff.

This is so important. Not only does unemployment affect a person’s sense of self and overall morale, employment is an an area where too many people with disabilities face rejection and stigma.  This isn’t to condemn employers for violence, but such actions further entrench false beliefs about people with a disability, which in turn only exacerbates rates of mistreatment.

Violence against people with a disability or mental health condition needs to be reported on and addressed by society. Good on Mamamia, A Current Affair, and Channel Seven for reporting Kayla Kendrigan’s ideal and highlighting this. But a lot more needs to be done to help people with disabilities.

If you need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. For emergencies, call 000. 

As always people from other countries are free to drop numbers of helplines or emergency contacts in the comment section below.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality

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.

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Sarah Huckabee – Sanders vs. Red Hen: this will be used as a weapon against the LGBTQ+ community

President Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was recently told to leave Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia along with her husband and other family members.

Owner, Stephanie Wilkson later explained that her actions were in response to a number of gay employees being unhappy about Sanders’ support for a ban on transgender people serving in the US military.

While the exchange between the restaurant’s owner and Huckabee Sanders was allegedly cordial, according to Wilkinson, it has caused fierce debate on social media .Conservatives have likened the Huckabee Sanders incident to LGBTQ+ people being \ denied service, while progressives have been adamant that restaurants should be able to refuse services based on political affiliation.

Ironically, this comes only days after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of Colorado baker, Jack Phillips who was sued in 2012 for refusing to make a cake for a gay couple.

Secular Talk’s Kyle Kullinski lashed out at responses from both conservatives and progressives on his channel. He’s torn, but is leaning he reluctantly concluded that Sanders should have been served in case it backfires on progressives later on.

He denies that this is the equivalent of denying someone service because of race or sexual orientation, arguing (rightly) that the latter are not things that can be chosen or changed.

Yet, this case is strengthening the arguments against rights of LGBTQ+ people. Conservatives, like Newscorp columnist and Macquarie Radio guest presenter, Andrew Bolt have already made the comparison and treating it as ‘left’ hypocrisy.

I am against LGBTQ+ people being denied service because I see it as a slippery slope. As I’ve demonstrated in the past, in certain US states, it’s legal for mental health workers to deny to treat LGBTQ+ patients, unless their lives are in immediate danger. In 2015, a Michigan pediatrician refused to see a toddler who was being raised by a lesbian couple.

It’s happening in the US, and I fear that there’s a chance that Australia’s anti – discrimination laws will also be watered down in the not – so – distant future.

 

So, what should happen? If you’re a business owner or work for one, serve your customers. Simple. Of course, if someone is abusive or destroying stock, etc, then kick them out, by all means. But anything else will only backfire.

UPDATE:

I read yesterday that Red Hen owner, Stephanie Wilkinson resigned from her position after about seventy – five conservative protesters against the treatment of Huckabee Sanders. One allegedly threw chicken excrement aiming it at the restaurant (it landed on the pavement).

They have the right to protest. Throwing excrement is uncalled for, though. It’s also a pity that Wilkinson felt like she had to leave her job.

What do you think about the Sarah Huckabee Sanders/ Red Hen saga? Do you think businesses should have to serve customers no matter what (except for abuse, destruction of property/ stock, etc)? Let me know in the comments below.