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
Opinion/Commentary

Arielle Scarcella “leaving the left” and a danger of some trans activism

American YouTuber, Arielle Scarcella claimed that she was “officially leaving the Left”. She was disinvited from Mardi Gras last weekend.

Scarcella has been accused of being a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) and being transphobic. She has vehemently denied this.

Fiona  vs Scarcella spat cause# transphobic war

Scarcella was invited to speak at Les – Talk at Sydney’s Gay  and Lesbian Mardi Gras. This sparked some anger and a Change.org petition called for her to be dropped from the panel and that sponsorships for her attendance should be cancelled.

Her crime? According to Rational Wiki, in 2017, Scarcella did a collaboration with  YouTuber, Jaclyn Glenn. They did a rebuttal of trans YouTuber, Riley Dennis and her partner, Fiona.

Scarcella and Glenn were accused of misrepresenting Fiona’s arguments, allegedly claiming that Fiona supported conversion therapy.  Fiona (and Riley Dennis) was arguing that lesbians who refuse to date transwomen were transphobic.

A social media war between Scarcella and Fiona erupted. Scarcella refused to back down from her remarks.

In the aftermath, Fiona allegedly received a hate campaign, which led to the collapse of her channel.

It was this spat that sparked the calls for her dis – invitation from the Mardi Gras.

(Just a note: I got this information from Rational Wiki. However, I think whoever wrote the entry is being quite unfair on Scarcella).

Scarcella on Outsiders

Scarcella went on Sky News Australia’s Outsiders after the Mardi Gras cancellation. She talked about the Mardi Gras snub and her video I’m A Lesbian Woman and I’m Leaving the Left. 

One issue Scarcella has of the modern Left, especially LGBTQ+ advocates, is the way labels are — especially lesbian — are misused. She finds it lesbophobic.

She also takes issue to non – biological women, and who don’t look like women, invading women – only spaces. As you could imagine, this got much respect from hosts Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow.

Dating preferences: should cis – gender LGB+ people date trans people?

The Outsiders’ discussion with Scarcella on dating preferences and transphobia is what spurred me to write this post. Anyone has read any of my blogs know I do support trans rights and do validate non – binary people.

However, I have always found the push for cis LGB+ people to date transpeople problematic. While I don’t think it’s necessarily like conversion therapy, I think it’s bullying to pressure someone to date a person whom they aren’t attracted to.

People have the right to be true to who they are. They should be free to date/ love the people who they’re attracted to. Or not, of course, (i.e. in the case of many aromantic/ asexual people).

 

 

What I think about Arielle Scarcella’s channel

I’ve watched a few of Scarcella’s videos. Ages ago, I saw a video she did on asexuality without knowing who she was!

I really like what I’ve seen of her channel so far. Contrary to what her critics say, I think she is incredibly inclusive, including of trans people. And she doesn’t deny the validity of gender non – binary people. To me that is a huge plus.

So to Scarcella’s critics, get off her back! I actually think she is a massive asset to LGBTQ+ commentary.

 

 Are you a fan of Ariel,e Scarcella? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

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
News Opinion/Commentary

Drag Queen Story Hour protester dies

Content warning: bullying and suicide

Last week, University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club member, Wilson Gavin was found dead.

His death has been reported as a suicide.

Drag Queen Story Hour protests

On Sunday, 12 June, University of Queensland’s the Liberal National Club protested Drag QueenStory Hour at the Brisbane SquareLibrary.

The confrontation between drag queen, Diamond Goodrim  and Wilson Gavin, among others got heated. Children who were at the library reportedly got scared and distressed. The Liberal National Club protesters faced backlash over their conduct and timing of the protest. Some of the criticisms were from members of the Liberal/ National Party,

Footage of the protest was taken and posted on social media. The footage featured Gavin at the front of the protest having a heated confrontation with drag queen Diamond Good Rim.

 

I feel for Gavin’s family and friends. I can only imagine what they are going through. Suicide is tragic for everyone who knew the person.Things will never be the same for those left behind.

For a person to take their own lives, it’s highly likely that they were suffering terribly. Mental illness is listed as one of the biggest risk factors for suicide.

At only twenty – one, Gavin was also in the most vulnerable age bracket. While suicide can happen at any age, the age group with one of the highest suicide rate is 15 – 29.

Same – sex marriage campaign

Gavin was a vocal opponent of same – sex marriage in 2017.

LGBTQ+ opponents of same – sex marriage were unfairly accused of ‘betraying’ their own. Some were accused of having ‘internal homophobia’.

The public spat between Liberal staffer, Josh Manuatu and Mamamia founder, Mia Freedman was about just that. Freedman wrote a tweet about Manuatu’s relationship with MP, Eric Abetz and his public opposition to same – sex marriage. She ended the tweet with the rhetorical question if Manuatu had ‘internalised homophobia”.

I was critical of Freedman for that. LGBTQ+ people are bound to have a variety of social and political opinions.

The debate leading up to the postal vote was hard on LGBTQ+ people. Counselling services saw a spike in calls for help. I wonder how many LGBTQ+ people who opposed same – sex marriage also found the debate hard.

 

Conservatives respond

News of Gavin’s death has spread to the U.S. Many people have showed shock and dismay at the news like many Australians have.

Conservative Christian public speaker and author Elizabeth Johnson, a.k.a ‘The Activist Mommy’ wrote a post on her website lamenting Gavin’s death. I find it a bit hypocritical, considering she advocates ex – gay conversion, which has proven to contribute to LGBTQ+ youth suicide.

 

Whatever you think of Gavin’s actions that day, most can agree that what happened afterwards was tragic. It should send a warning to anyone thinking about bullying another person, including online.

 

 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

For LGBTQ+ people, you can  contact Q Life: 1800 184 157 or via their webchat.

If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 (or your national emergency number).

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

The demise of podcast ‘The Sydney Gays’: what does it mean for LGBTQ+ creators?

Podcast microphone
Image: iStock

As a content creator and someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community, this story hit me.

The article is about the demise of the podcast The Sydney Gays, which ended after only four episodes.

The hosts, Wil Sabin and Jay Fisher copped fierce backlash after the first episode, Chic or Sh*t. LGBTQ+ listeners were some of their critics; they were accused for perpetuating stereotypes.

On their second episode, Fisher and Sabin apparently peddled back and tried to be more authentic.

The fourth episode, The Dark Side of the Rainbow was the last one uploaded. They spoke about some of the alleged vicious trolling they received. This included being compared to chemotherapy and receiving death threats. Fisher and Sabin claimed they were worried about the affect it had on their loved ones.

The cost of LGBTQ+ rights?

I never heard the Sydney Gays podcast. But when I was reading the article and planning this post, a question came to mind: is the backlash against The Sydney Gays a reflection on the pressure LGBTQ+ people feel to appear ‘normal’? Is that why some of their critics were LGBTQ+ themselves?

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of a non – LGBTQ+ creator being reprimanded to pipe down and act more ‘authentic’.

Is this a cost for the gain in rights that LGBTQ+ people have gained, especially same – sex marriage, which became law in 2017?

Now, it may be that (e listeners found their Sydney Gays annoying. If that’s the case, then, sure, they could tone down the exaggerations and make their presentation more professional.

However, my concern is if the backlash against Sabin and Fisher is a sign that LGBTQ+ creators will have ‘rules’ placed on them that wouldn’t apply to others. I hope LGBTQ+ creators won’t have to repeatedly ‘prove’ themselves to be OK.

What should creators tolerate?

Some creators have criticised Sabin and Fisher for giving up too soon. Music, event and video producer, Dan Murphy pointed out the iTunes charts, claiming that Sydney Gays got a number of listeners people would “kill for”. This would have been driven by both the positive and negative feedback.

Murphy himself is no stranger to negative feedback. Despite rave reviews for an early video that featured a group of drag queens, one of his later videos featuring a mob dance for BMW was blasted. News and marketing website, Mumbrella, crucified it.

While I get that creators should expect criticism and even harshness, death threats are not on. Sabin and Fisher even expressed concern for loved ones and how they could be affected. This has to be condemned. It’s also tragic when that sort of bullying kills someone’s creative pursuit. In a way, the bullies have won because of the collapse of Sydney Gays. But it shouldn’t have happened anyway.

All creators, including those from the LGBTQ+ community should be able to create without fear. Nobody should be pressured by bullies into stopping their creative project. And, most importantly, I hope this isn’t the start of a trend where LGBTQ+ creators are bullied into silence.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary Politics

Should private schools be able to discriminate against a staff member or student for being LGBTQ?

From top: Christian cross in circle, bottom right, school students taking exams, bottom left, LGBTQ pride flag
All images are from Canva

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been spooked and vowed not to extend anti – discrimination exemptions to allow private schools to expel and discriminate against LGBTQ+ students. Instead, he’s promised to scrap the existing exemptions written into laws, including New South Wales’ Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

I think there are two reasons why Prime Minister Morrison reacted the way he did. First, last week, Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article about leaked information regarding private schools being given permission to expel LGBTQ+ students. Morrison initially lashed out on The Bolt Report, slamming the article as “false” and a “smear”. Also, a by – election in Wentworth, New South Wales will happen on the 20th of October and the result will determine whether the Coalition can hold a majority in the House of Representatives (a.k.a the Upper House).

When I first heard about this in the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review, I was really worried. I don’t think children should be discriminated against for being LGBTQ+ and, as I’ve written before, I think that LGBTQ+ students should be supported by school staff openly. The self – hatred is hard enough without the fear of being expelled or the confirmation that teachers and other staff think you deserve to be treated differently because of it.

In the past, I have also written that teachers and other school staff should be educated on how to support LGBTQ+ students, and be aware of students who may be questioning their sexuality (or gender identity) or who are bi, pan or asexual. Teachers and other staff should be aware that sexuality may not be able to be labelled and that’s OK. This is why I initially supported Safe Schools and was disappointed when it was politicised and ultimately scrapped in New South Wales and will eventually be de-funded by most States and Territories across the country.

 

Next push: no discrimination against LGBTQ+ staff

According to The Guardian Australia, Labor has now vowed to push for protections for LGBTQ+ teachers by making it unlawful to fire or not employ a teacher or staff member due to their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status. While I’m not against the proposal, this is political opportunism. In fact, it was the Labor Government who sided with groups like the Australian Christian Lobby and made it legal for private schools to be able to sack or not hire staff because of one’s sexuality, gender identity or relationshi status clashing with a school’s religious values. The Coalition are split, with Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg welcoming moves to eliminate discrimination of LGBTQ+ teachers in private schools, while former Prime Minister and Member for Warringah, Tony Abbott, being against it, warning of “unintended consequences” (oh please, not this again).

It’s ideal that no one would be discriminated against. But, quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the government stuck with the mantra of ‘religious freedom’ and continued to allow private schools to be exempt from anti – discrimination legislation in the name of religious freedom.

Even if the loopholes are closed, will that end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in education?

To me, the issues of discrimination and inclusion goes beyond mere employment. How will LGBTQ+ staff be treated by their employees and employers? Would a married lesbian, for example, be able to freely talk about her weekend away with her wife to other staff or would she be compelled to keep quiet about it, with her relationship being treated as a dirty little secret? How would it affect events like staff Christmas parties? Will she be able to bring her spouse and not be made to feel uncomfortable? All I’m saying, is that being paranoid that you’re not accepted is bad enough and it’s a fear that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I also think it’s a fear that can’t be merely legislated away.

Tell me what you think. Should a private school be able to discriminate against a staff member or student based on religious beliefs?

Categories
Media

LGBTQ+ rights conflated with paedophilia… again

Article from Humans are free accusing the UN of 'normalising pedophilia'

When will people get it?

Far – right and allegedly conspiracy theorist website, Humans are free have accused the UN of normalising pedophilia and legitimising sexual abuse. What gave them that idea? Let’s pause for a moment and let’s see if you can guess…

Yep! Humans are free are accusing the UN for legitimising pedophilia because of their fights for LGBTQ+ rights and condemnation anti – LGBTQ+ violence around the world. The article also alluded to transgender people being able to use public toilets that align with their gender identity being a risk to children.

Arguably, the UN could be accused of hypocrisy, considering that LGBTQ+ people can be executed in countries like Saudi Arabia, a member of the UNHRC. And many dictatorial regimes also condemn LGBTQ+ people. But what I object to is the never – ending linking of LGBTQ+ people and pedophilia. No, most LGBTQ+ people don’t have an attraction to children! While people in the 1970’s and 1980’s  claimed there was a link between gay men and child abuse, ‘studies’ used to support these claims have been debunked.

Pro LGBTQ+ organisations have repeatedly condemned the notion that they want to legitimise and condone pedophilia. Two of the latest examples that I’ve come across of far – right activists trying to smear LGBTQ+ people is the (false) news that Minor Attracted Persons (MAPs) have a pride flag and are accepted by the LGBTQ+ community. This caused  outrage on social media from members of the LGBTQ+ community. They vehemently deny any link or any acceptance from the LGBTQ+ community. and from a year ago, the myth of ‘clovergender’; when someone allegedly identifies as a person younger than they are in a bid to get close to and assault children. This, too, has proven to be false.

Why this is important?

Frankly, I almost class these accusations as a form of slander. If these accusations were aimed at another group, including Christians, there would be an outcry. Why do LGBTQ+ people have to put up with these claims again, again and again?

It’s no surprise that stigma and discrimination can harm a person in multiple ways. It can affect a person’s mental health, ability to work and their ability to form healthy romantic and non – romantic relationships.

Studies in the US have found that in many of the major cities, LGBTQ+ people make up nearly half (40%) of youth homelessness. This is despite the fact that they make up less than 10% of the population. There is also the studies worldwide that claim that LGBTQ+ people have higher rates of mental health issues and suicide. I have written about these many times before. This, no doubt, would put strain on the mental health system, including phone counseling services. But that’s not all.

The World Economic Forum argues that stigma also affects workplaces and national economies, with results in loss of productivity and higher rates of unemployment and poverty.

The New York Times

The article also accuses US newspaper/ online publication, New York Times for stating that pedophilia should not be a crime. What the article actually says is not that simple.

Associate Professor, Margo Kaplan wrote that pedophilia should be seen as a mental disorder. That is, the sexual attraction to children should be treated like any mental disorder (to Kaplan’s credit, she didn’t say ‘sexual orientation’). Kaplan argued that this will prevent child sexual abuse by pedophiles.

She also claimed that pedophiles should be protected under anti – discrimination law. Again, she argues that this will help prevent offending. Like other disability exemptions in US disability/ mental illness anti – discrimination acts, schools would be able to discriminate against a person who has attraction to minors.

Kaplan also lamented at the fact that most pedophiles are only offered rehabilitation in the aftermath of a a sexual offence (or a number of offences) against children have already being committed. She believes early intervention can help prevent some of these crimes. Needless to say, this has NOTHING to do with the LGBTQ+ community.

 

I will continue writing posts about this when I feel I need to. These smears need to be dealt with and stopped. Enough’s enough.

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Bullying and the need for primary and secondary schools to support LGBTQ+ students

 

 

CW: suicide, bullying

Jamel Myles, aged nine, came out as gay to his mother and to his peers at school. Four days later, he was found dead in his Colorado home of a suspected suicide. Bullying was believed to be a contributing factor.

Everyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this. Bullying needs to be taken seriously and needs to be dealt with. Interventions need to happen early, and in severe cases, police and social workers from Department of Community Services and other child protection agencies should be involved.

LGBTQ+ youth, harassment and mental health

In 2013, mental health advocacy group, Beyond Blue published a report on LGBTQ+ mental health. It stated that LGBTQ+ people experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population In 2005, research showed that LGBTQ+ people were approximately four times more likely to experience major depression at some point. Around 80% of LGBTQ+ people reported having experienced homophobic insults in public, most of it which occurred at school.

Data from the National LGBTI Health  Alliance showed concerning trends surrounding wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. They reported that LGBTI people were five times more likely to attempt suicide and twice more likely to self – harm than non –  LGBTI peers of the same age.

 

Supporting students within and outside the norm in discovering their sexuality

Myles realised he was gay by the time he was nine. While data (at least that I looked at) was vague, it seems that Myles’ discovery was made younger than average.

It makes me wonder, whether the social workers, counsellors, teachers and other staff knew how to support the student, including validating his identity. Would they have doubted that Myles knew his sexuality? Would that have affected the way they would’ve helped him if they were given the chance?

All school staff in primary and high schools should be aware and be prepared to help children questioning their sexuality or coming out at any age. La Trobe University study that was alluded to in the above link tobMamamia article claimed that children experience their onset ofsexual awakening from ten and fourteen. However, the fact is, some don’t fit these averages. Some people who are sixteen, seventeen or eighteen struggle with their sexuality. Some only take their same – sex crush seriously when their older. Some realise ther ‘different’ very early on.

Both of these scenarios should be accepted by teachers, school counsellors andcother staff. I think that claiming that a child either doesn’t know what they are (when they do), or labelling them when they claim they don’t know are usually counter productive.

Creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students

Both primary and secondary schools should have policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion. I also tyink it’s important that teachers and other staff are open about this. I find it so heartening that present and former school staff support International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and other LGBTI campaigns. I think it shows that LGBTQ+ youth are a little bit safer.

Teachers and support staff should openly condemn homophobia, bi – phobia, etc in their anti –  bullying programs and policies. Everyone has the right to be safe and supported.

Anyone who needs help, call Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. Resources specifically for LGBTQ+ people are available here

As always, feel free to add any links or numbers for services in your country in the comments.

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.

 

 

Categories
News

Australian Christian Lobby pushes for conversion therapy… again.

Screenshot of article: This Christian Lobby group is fighting a proposal to ban gay conversion therapy

According to Buzzfeed News, the Australian Christian Lobby is defending conversion therapy,.. again. Last year, former ACL leader, Lyle Shelton came under fire for suggesting that parents should be able to take their children to receive conversion or ‘reparative’ therapy for their LGBTQ children.

I’m going to be blunt about this. People can’t claim ignorance anymore. Conversion therapy is condemned by mainstream medical bodies both here and overseas, including the Australian Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association. Not only do they say that conversion therapy doesn’t work, but it can exacerbate mental health problemsand increase suicidality among LGBTQ people.

To me, this exposes the real hatred that ACL have toward the LGBTQ community. That’s right: I said ‘hatred’. I’m sorry, but they keep on pushing this harmful ideology, despite warnings, despite evidence and public backlash. None of them can claim that they ‘love’ LGBTQ people. No, they hate them. And their hatred has proven to be harmful. They don’t care for LGBTQ children, or children suspected of being LGBTQ. They want to harm them.

By the way, the Australian Christian Lobby is not alone in their hatred and wanting to harm the LGBTQ community. A few months ago, there was an ‘ex – gay’ pride march in Washington. This was headed by anti – LGBTQ campaigner, Elizabeth Johnston (also known as Activist Mommy). The Activist Mommy Facebook page is full of anti – LGBTQ and anti – liberal hysteria – that LGBTQ people are out to indoctrinate children, etc, etc. The ACL claimed the same last year during the same – sex marriage debate.  I believe that this has two main purposes one, to hide what they really think (i.e. they hate LGBTQ people) and two,  to link LGBTQ people to paedophilia. This is why, I believe, the “No campaigners in the same – sex marriage debate focused on Safe Schools, saying that it was a ‘radical LGBTI sex ed program’, despite denials from supporters and the Department of Education and Training (and I’ve glanced through the main resource, All of Us  a number of times, and I saw nothing about sex or masturbation. Nothing).

When Exodus International closed in 2013, president, Alan Chambers admitted that conversion therapy didn’t work and was forced to confront the damage that it caused by coming face to face with survivors.

After Exodus International distanced themselves from conversion therapy, the next narrative that conservative Christians tried to push was celibacy. This was quickly criticised by a number of Christians (supported by others, like blogger Wesley Hill). Chambers himself could see parallels between the gay celibacy movement and his former work with Exodus International. For a while, I wasn’t against the ‘gay celibacy’movement. At least it wasn’t conversion therapy. But now, frankly, I get the criticism. It’s still treating LGBTQ+ people as lesser than. It put emphasis on what LGBTQ+ people (supposedly) do It reduced them to lesser than human and that a part of them can (still) be denied. (That’s why I don’t like the term ‘ same – sex attracted’ when referring to LGB+ people, to be honest).

So, where to from here? I think it’s good that Washing DC and certain States in the US are have banned conversion therapy for minors. The UK has done the same thing, with a bill passed last Tuesday (Britain time). I think that conversion therapy is banned for minors and any licensed medical professional should run the risk of having their license revoked if they are known for promoting or performing conversion therapy. I don’t see any difference between that and disgraced British surgeon, Andrew Wakefield trying to link the MMR vaccine to autism in 1998. Both claims are condemned by mainstream medical bodies, so why can’t practitioners who push either idea on patients get the same treatment?

There is more good news. More and more organisations and churches are rejecting the idea that LGBTQ+ people are broken need to be fixed. Christians have even publicly apologised for the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people by the church. Last year, a number of evangelical and former evangelical Christians formed Equal Voices and offered a statement and letter offering a sincere apology to the LGBTQ+ community for the mistreatment they’ve received. In Marikina City, Philippines, some Christians marched in a Pride parade, offering their apology to the Filipino LGBTQ+ community. This is significant. According to Centre for Global Education, 86% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic and a further 6% identify as another Christian denomination.

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Like with the same – sex marriage debate last year, I’m both optimistic and cautious. I think, and I hope that we will keep moving in the right direction in treating LGBTQ+ people with dignity and respect and that old wounds, and relationships between Christians and the LGBTQ+ community can be completely healed.