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.