Categories
Media

Is ‘de – transition’ the new ex – gay?

Transgender sign
Image: iStock

Lately, there has been a number of ‘transition regret’ stories in both Australian and international media.

On Sunday, Sky News Australia’s/ Win’s Outsiders had Walter Heyer on, a man who claimed identified as trans, but then wanted to transition back to male. The hosts of Outsiders and Andrew Bolt have really lapped up Heyer’s story and others like it.

Other media outlets, including Christian Concern, Daily Telegraph and USA Today have all published stories on people who apparently regret their transition and have worked to get their original sex back.

Is this the new ‘ex – gay’ movement

Are there some people who originally identify as trans, then realise they’re actually cis – gender? Maybe.

Let me clear, if someone originally identifies as trans and then realise they’re not, then that’s fine.

However, what I’m hearing and reading does concern me. I fear that the de -transitioning movement that will force trans/ gender non – conforming people to be something they’re not.

I can hear elements of ‘conversion therapy‘ language in these ‘testimonies’. Using early childhood (usually sexual) trauma as the reason for a person’s identity was very common at the height of the ex – gay movement.

Deliberate misuse of terms and using, frankly, unlikely stories have been used in the ex – gay and de – transitioning movements. For example, gender dysphoria (which is what many transgender people go through) and disassociate identity disorder (DID) have been conflated.

One unlikely story I’ve heard is a de – transitioned’ man who ‘felt’ he was a trans – woman after his wife died. He ‘felt’ that way in order to be closer to her. While some may realise they’re trans or gender non conforming later in life, I think that’ll be the exception, rather than the rule.

According to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, children begin expressing their gender between two and three. Even transgender people that I’ve heard about who have transitioned much older realised their gender identity as children, not after becoming widowed.

Even if some of these stories about de – transitioning do turn out to be true, I don’t want these stories to be used to give false hope to young people who are questioning their gender or do know they are trans. I don’t want them to be left feeling they should change how they feel, then fail and feel hopeless.. As seen in conversion therapy, this cycle only exacerbates the high suicide rates of LGBTQ+ people.

What the media needs to do

I believe the media has a major responsibility in this. Misreporting and fear mongering about transgender/ gender non – conforming people needs to stop.

De – transition stories need to be told with caution. They should not be used to pressure transpeople to be someone they know they’re not. I’m not exaggerating when I say lives are at stake.

LGBTQ+ people do not need more discrimination. They don’t need more misrepresentation. And they certainly don’t need to be told that who they are is wrong and needs to change. Too many lives have been destroyed.

What do you think about the wave of ‘transition regret’ stories in the media? Helpful or harmful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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.

 

 

Categories
Culture News Retail and Marketing

#NotAllFeminists #NotAllTransAllies

Popular Australian clothing,  brand, Peter Alexander, has come under fire for pulling pajama tops saying “Boys will be boys”, after one mother complained that the slogan was sexist on their Facebook page.

Did you read that? ONE mother allegedly complained that the slogan ‘boys will be boys’ was offensive and sexist.

To be clear, I think the complaint was silly, as was the move by Peter Alexander. What next? Are radio stations going to pull the Choirboys’ song of the same name?

 

I agree with Herald Sun columnist, Sky News presenter and 3AW regular, Rita Panahi who said that the brand should not have bowed down to one complaint.

I want to emphasise this. There was ONE complaint by ONE woman. Needless to say that this is NOT representative of all women or all feminists.

This is NOT representative of tarnsgender people, non – binary people or their allies. 

This is one idiot who made one comment and Peter Alexander was a fool for such a knee – jerk reaction.

So, in the coming days, let’s not turn it into something it’s not:

  • It’s not representative of all feminists
  • It’s not representative of all progressives
  • It’s not representatives of all transgender/ non – binary people and their allies

It is only representative of one idiot who decided that a well – known saying was offensive and one idiotic company that decided to overreact to that one complaint.

Categories
Politics

International Women’s Day and… traffic lights and other trivialities.

So, it’s International Women’s Day. A day that is supposed to celebrate and advocate for women. But now, it’s turned into a trivial laughing stock, at least here in Australia. Example: the Andrews Labor Government of Victoria has this bright idea (sarcasm in case you didn’t know) about changing traffic lights across Melbourne because they allegedly spark an “unconscious bias”. I kid you not. These things are causing sexist attitudes, apparently.

Design

Memo to the Andrews Government, women do wear pants, you know!

Secondly, the ABC has come up with the idea that today, all the news, current affairs and radio stations are filled with all women. Men, apparently, get the day off. Now, I’ve talked in the past about women in the media and controversies that have occurred over the years about women over a certain age (usually 40’s and above), being replaced by younger women or men. I understand why that ruffled feathers, although, luckily, I haven’t been hearing about that happening lately. But what does this achieve, really? Supposedly it all will go back to normal tomorrow anyway.

It’s this sort of trivial garbage that scares millennial women off feminism. Feminism doesn’t seem to be about fighting for equality anymore, nor is it about confronting issues facing women either here or abroad. For example, former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin has repeatedly condemned underage girls who get married off to older men in some Muslim communities. Child marriages have also known to happen in the U.S. as recently as 2010 and, while it’s “rare”, Pew Research acknowledged that 5 in every 1,000 of girls between fifteen and seventeen. While rare, as of 2016, it is legal in all American states. In most states, 16 and 17 – year – old teenagers can marry and in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,  children can marry as young as 12. In some states, such as Florida, a minor can get a court’s permission to marry if a party is pregnant. Fortunately, last year, Virginia finally outlawed the practice. Let’s hope other states follow suit soon. As for Australians, migrants, as well as citizens need to know it’s condemned here. Every time it happens, the perpetrators need to be prosecuted legally and face fierce criticism by society.

The issue of domestic violence is raised quite a bit. We should stick to that – make sure that there are adequate services to help women (and men) leave abusive marriages and relationships. But then again, this issue has also been hijacked by ideologues and conflicting claims about the rate often takes all the time, rather than funding services. Case in point from a few years ago:

Not to mention that domestic violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is rarely discussed by women who claim to be “feminists”, including those in the media. Not to mention the ignorance around Keysar Trad’s comments a few weeks ago on “The Bolt Report”. Look, domestic violence needs to be condemned. All of it. Full stop. No ideology, religious, political or otherwise should stop us from condemning domestic or other violence and helping victims find safety and justice.

There is a lot that young girls face too. When I was researching for my last blog post, I was horrified at the number of links to stories surrounding severe  abuse of young girls I found. And that doesn’t take into account atrocities like female genital mutilation (FGM), which happens in the West too, by the way. A few days ago, wrote about the horrific number of trans women that have been murdered in the U.S. this year alone – and we’re not even a quarter into the year yet. More globally, Saudi Arabia has come under the spotlight when it was reported that two Pakistani trans women were beaten and tortured to death by Saudi police. Saudi police has since acknowledged that two trans women died in custody, but denies that they were tortured.

 

These sorts of issues are what should be talked about on a day like International Women’s Day – plus a lot more I didn’t mention that affect both cis women and trans women around the world. Society doesn’t need more token gestures by feminists for anyone else, for that matter. We need real change, both here and around the world. Unfortunately, I think culture wars and a lack of honesty prevents us from getting done what needs to be done to help women and their loved ones. I’m starting to get sick of it. Can we all forget the tokenism, forget political correctness and work out ways to help ALL people achieve their potential and live their lives in safety and fulfilment?

 

So, what do you think? Have you/ are you doing anything for International Women’s Day? Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments section.