Sunday, August 16, 2009

Australian Government Celebrates Bigotry!

This is repugnant.

Not only is the government ignoring the opinion of the majority of australians especially those who voted for them on this but they actually had the Minister For Social Inclusion attend and address it!

What is this I speak of? Why the celebration of banning same-sex marriage in Australia!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Censorship of Transsexual and Transgender in School Dictionaries?

I just heard from an email group that the words Transsexual and Transgender have dissapeared from recent editions of ALL dictionaries aimed at Australian school students.

Homosexual is in there but not homophobia.

I'll try and find out more about it.

And of course the government appears to be just ignoring the AHRCs sex and gender diversity report, bet it will ignore the paper on intersex infant surgery and the whole human rights community consultation on a charter of rights too.

Sorry Attorney General and Co. We won't go away if you keep ignoring us. The tide of popular opinion is now well on our side and the generational shift coming is truly untouchable. Take another look at those galaxy-polls!

Pandering to the lobby groups of small bunches of fundamentalists is not going to save you from that. Time to cut them loose and pick up the younger folk before it's too late. And no, Hillsong doesn't cut it.

Anti-Intellectualism, Anti-Thought, Anti-Knowledge

I've been meaning to do a blogpost about it for a while.

Much of society is anti-intellectual. It's astounding the amount of times I've seen people burst into outrage over an academic term or the introduction of relevant statistics into a online discussion (like TG suicide rates or hate-crime stats for example)

The reasons for this, as best as I can deduce, is firstly that many average-IQ people like to make fun of and mock learning-challenged and neuro-atypical people and so place a lot in considering themselves superior to others in that regard.

So when faced with those who are more intelligent than themselves whether they are quick-witted or slow thorough thinkers they feel threatened and imediately assume the smarter person will act the way they do. Hence condemnations of 'you think your better than everyone else' 'stop acting so superior' 'i'm not insuperior to you' (yes, real quote, they didn't say inferior but insuperior)

Crucial to this is the claim that academia is an 'act', that technical jargon is 'babble' (a favourite appears to be psychobabble) and in reality meaningless and that all such things are in fact false and without value. Thus they can dissmiss the speaker and what is spoken as invalid, not correct and quackery.

Other elements of this involve a culture that feelling is all a person is not their thoughts and actions and that thinking too much is bad. This helps keep people much more easilly manipulated both by peers and by partners and by politicians and by media and especially by advertising.

Also there is an assumption that everyone is somehow 'the same' (which is different from equal, very different) and that achievement is due only to effort, the learning-challenged are seen as lazy and deserving of scorn and the clever as being so only by excessive study and a lack of quality of life. You see the same thing in sports where it's assumed the people who win tried hardest ignoring that some are born with better muscle-attachments etc. This lie of sameness protects the inequality of the advantages some are born with.. and of course there is great hostility towards intellectual people having any sort of social advantage hence the increasing vilification of them by those involved in social competition, especially sexual competition (a lot of people I know consider that smart is sexy, in men and in women, but a lot of people have a lot invested in fighting that view)

And then there's the hostility towards and suspician of all knowledge that is not direct personal experience. Despite books being the recording of life experiences of one or more peoples life experiences etc statistics, studies, nothing is considered valid but a persons direct experience so if its something they havent seen themselves it doesn't exist. Worse they dont see that they things through filters of assumption so they will say racism and sexism do not exist even while perpetrating it because it does not fit their understanding of their own experience and the reality of subjective bias.

And then there's the missunderstood view that 'all opinions are equally true because they are peoples opinions' rather than 'all people are equally entitled to form and hold their own opinion, which may or may not reflect actual reality' which sure is not the same thing.

Anti-intellectualism of course has extended far beyond a hostility towards solely armchair researchers and academic conservative authoritarianism in disregard to actual evidence in favour of old and beloved theories to a pervasive hostility of any understanding of any situation beyond the individual self. A rejection of there being an objective reality at all. Not just a legacy of post-medernism and trendy existentialism though it's also a favoured lever of the culture war.

It has a flaw as a strategy in the culture wars though... as it's also led to more GLBT people accepting themselves over ideology. Which is why there is much more expression of a broader gender-spectrum amongst young people and increasing tolerance of GLBT issues.

The danger of this new romanticism to those that fostered it is that in the long term it taps in to the deeper feellings of people, deeper understanding of themselves... and watch what happens as the natural philosophers and ponderers and measurers of the next generation hold true to their passions towards understanding the material world...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fighting over who should be the Stereotype

Another comment elsewhere that works well on it's own. It's from this long discussion in Bilerico where once again the Nomenclature stuff derails another discussion between GLB and TG. The comment goes as follows:

Curious isn't it that when TG-advocates do acknowledge the human right of the seperatists to self-define as not Transgender it goes unremarked, uncelebrated and actually totally unrecognised by the seperatists?

Interesting that isn't it. The CDs here, Lena and myself, have actually acknowledged the seperatists self-defining as not transgender... and the response is silence.
But I've seen this phenomena before... amongst some crossdresser groups and organisations. Exactly the same phenomena.

Their beef is being included under the term 'Gay'. They state it leads everyone to assume drag queens are the norm, that all CDs dress to attract men, that the public image of CDs are excessive over-the-top exaggerated drag and that this causes problems for themselves and for their wives.

So they say "Crossdressers are not Gay" and when it's pointed out "Sure you may not be and many CDs are not but actually some are" they respond "Crossdressers are NOT Gay!" and a common response is "Look, we can't get totally accurate data on proportions but clearly a lot and maybe the majority of MtF CDs are women-atrracted but theres a whole lot of Bi and Male-attracted CDs on this very forum in this discussion too, and what about the FtMs who consider themselves Gay? So isn't it important we acknowledge them too?" their response is "CROSSDRESSERS ARE NOT GAY AND GAY PEOPLE ARE THE REASON WE ARE HATED AND NO-ONE ACCEPTS US. BEING THOUGHT OF AS GAY RUINS OUR LIVES..." Blah blah Blah.

See the problem there is a societal stereotype, not the existence of or acknowledgement of male-attracted MtF CDs. Acknowledging the existence of male-attracted CDs does not really harm female-atracted CDs, the existence of the stereotype is all that does that. The fact is that despite claims of being a small minority the 'gay' CDs and Drag Queens are often the ones with the courage and conviction to be out and also to not be stealth/passing so they are the ones most in the public eye, if more of the complaining CDs were out they would get more recognition in public perception.

Basicly there are other Ethical ways of attacking the stereotype rather than the utterly unethical act of attacking the people who more closely fit the stereotype and trying to invalidate them.
But what do organisations like Tri-Ess and many CD Support Groups do? They marginalise those that transition, ban discussion of hormones and SRS and marginalise Bis and Gays/Lesbians. Some chapters/groups are better than others of course but many are utterly shocking. The reason they give? That having such topics discussed, that allowing transitioning and GLB members to be prominant in any way would scare off spouses and have them turn on their CD husbands.

Surprised about the company seperatists? Your very much alike it seems in that your using the same arguments for what seems to be the exact same reasons. The same piece of algebra but with X being 'classic' rather than 'straight' Y being 'TS' rather than 'CD' and Z being 'TG' rather than 'Gay'.

Attacking one another trying to fight the symptom not the cause, attacking people to try and effect public perception of both, and it seems that it's really fighting over which group gets to BE the stereotype rather than attacking there being a stereotype which could be accomplished by showing, and educating about, the diversity.

See our acknowledging a diversity or difference from a stereotype harms the stereotype, it doesn't acknowledge their claim that they should be the stereotype, and I say this about both 'Straight' crossdresserd and 'classic' transexuals equally. So as its not very useful in the battle to BE the template of the stereotype it seems that acknowledgement of the diversity is not acknowledged. That would reduce the power of the 'see they hate us, they claim we are just like them and hurt us'.

It's not just about the desperate phobic desire to 'not be associated with' 'icky' folk... a homophobia from the 'straight' crossdressers and a non-binary-transphobia from the 'classic' transsexuals, though that seems a big part of it. So maybe it's really a desire to fight to claim to be what the stereotype should be? An all or nothing desire to replace one narrow stereotype in the publics eye with another narrow stereotype and to hell with everyone who strays too far from either stereotype who gets trampled in the way.

There is another way though. One thats issues-based not identity-based. That acknowledges not just ideological justification of needs but a basic right to choose irrespective. One where all the needs of all people can be considered as equally valid and can be fought for not just by those stake-holders effected by it but by anyone capable of reason.
Human Rights Principles.

Self-Identification, Health-Care, Hormone and Surgery-access, Access to Hormone-Blockers for teens, Protection from IS Infant surgery and brutal reparative treatments, protection from discrimination and violence, protection of gender expression, Equal access to all Services from employment to business to bathrooms to marriage to disability to insurance etc... theres overlap between the groups that need these in GLBTIQ, S&GD, Disability, Neuro-atypical and many many more and yet all these are actually covered by the same set of reasons in favour of them ALL.

Human Rights Principles.

Seriously EVERYONE take a look at this
Our rights are NOT mutually exclusive. We DO share these rights, these issues, just on occassion they work in different directions. The right to not be permanantly surgically altered as a child so when old enough to give consent the child can make a choice is the exact same right of a child to not be forced to undergo puberty they do not wish to endure and instead be given hormone blockers till they are old enough to legally give consent to their own choice. The same right solves both a Intersex issue and a transsexual one.

THAT is the way forward, not one ideology winning over another, not one stereotype defeating another, not one group of peoples rights being trampled on in favour of another. That will be a battle that would continue for all human existence. Instead basic universal human rights applied properly solves everyones issues. And Everyone can fight for Everyone Elses Equal Rights!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Missrepresentation of Science and transgender politics

I've blogged on this before but its worth returning to the subject again. One of the things that really annoys me is the increasing level of what appears to be lying in politics, mostly related to the Internecine Nomenclature Conflict (easy answer for that conflict i would have thought: we acknowledge the existence of Cisgender Transsexuals, Cisgender Cissexuals, Transgender Cissexuals and Transgender Transsexuals and move onto the human-rights-issues umbrella term of Sex and Gender Diversity which allows better cooperation with Intersex issues too)

You see despite basic scientific methodology people from several positions are making claims not supported yet by the data as if it were totally conclusive and using that as an attack on others.

What do we have? We have good leads from small studies of small sample sets that transsexuals have several brain differences from averages of their assigned birth sex that are closer to their self-identified sex-identity. Both in structure and in function. One gene so far has been found to be more common amongst TSs too. (Zoe's blog is a great source for this stuff)

But what about non-transsexual transgender? Well they haven't done the same studies on genderqueer, bi-gender, crossdressers etc yet. So as science goes it falls into the realm of 'maybe'. Actually 'maybe but we don't know yet'. That doesn't mean 'no' it doesn't mean 'yes' it means 'maybe'. It means that the simple testable hypothesis that the same or similar related phenomena exist in these others could be tested but hasnt yet and until its tested we dont know. Either way.

Thats plain ordinary scientific method, something I got taught in highschool and I would have thought everyone else would have got taught that too.

So what's the problem? Well some are claiming that the tests done thus far say things they do not. The tests needed to say that crossdressing is not biologically caused have not yet been done, yet some are claiming that because 'there's no evidence' that it is not so... but hang on, the neccessary tests havent been done! To test if the same cause causes both you have to do the same test on both! Not biological tests on one but only psychological tests on the other!

Others are claiming the studies done support only their version of the definition of transsexual or only binary-gender identity etc but the selection criteria for these studies didnt split the subjects up like that! To get those results all you have to do is seperate your test subjects into different catagories and compare the results of each catagory.. you likely need more test subjects though as you need a representative sample of specimens from each group, tricky when brain-dissection is one of the studies and expensive for FMRI scans. But doable.. but not yet done either!

Now some folk gave trouble with coping with ambiguity, with living with a maybe till the answer is found. Some even have trouble understanding that to say something is possible (and testably so but not yet tested) is not saying it is definately so, it is however saying that it is not yet definately known as not so.

Science works by refuting testable hypotheses not making stuff up, saying anything untested is true nor by saying that something cannot be so till its proved to be so.. thats all creation-science level nonsense. The stuff that was the laughing stock at the Dover evolution trial, in fact very much like Dembski's non-science.

Sure some people have been let down by the education system and are scientifically illiterate. Not their fault but if they want to use studies to validate their claims and invalidate others at least some basic undersanding of scientific methods a good idea and some self-education might be beneficial.

Other people though seem to play the same tune no matter how refuted, ignoring the facts of scientific method and continuing to make spurious claims. Mistakes happen, everyone gets things wrong sometimes, but to maintain such arguments constantly is falsehood, self deception at best and deliberate lying is definately possible.

It's a common enough tactic. The 'repeat the lie often enough' tactic of hate-groups religious and otherwise.

It's time these people were called out on them though. Gently at first, some will simply be mistaken. But certainly because allowing these myths to propagate unchallenged is often to allow manipulative divisive hate-speech to propagate unchallenged.

The deliberate anti-science, unscientific, unethical missrepresentation of science in order to denegrate others and propagate divisions and hate and various ideological positions is abominable.

Much more study needs to be done on transsexuals, on intersex, on crossdressers, genderqueer, bi-gender etc in verifiable sciences like neurology and genetics to rule that out first. Especially as psychology is a kind of speculation, like taxonomy before genetics, a simple attempt to explain complex systems with only a minute amount of data. It must cede to the physical sciences in all things at all times.

And last of all, from a Human Rights perspective even were there no biological causation for ANY of it, not even for any transsexual the hman rights claims would not diminish one iota. Because human rights are filled with choices at every level, choices of religion, expression, medical treatment as just some examples. Check out the Yogyakarta Principles on that. These attacks on others using missrepresentations of science involve at their heart a disregard for human rights of others in order to propagate their preferred (and usually self-serving) ideology.

It's time to call out missrepresentations of science used as tools of hate for what they are in transgender politics as much as GLB politics (including the anti's). Whether hatred of non-bianary folk or of binary folk, of gay-supporting Tgs or TG-supporting gays etc etc etc.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Concise post on Oppression and how we contribute to it

This was a reply on a comment in this discussion at bilerico that just seemed to work on it's own so I'm putting it up here as a post:

One of my favourite aspects of Taoism is how in the symbol of The Tao the teardrops of Yin and Yang, the masculine and feminine principles of 'the way', there is a corresponding pearl of the other contained within. And with the key to 'the way' being a harmonious balance of energetic principles it's a philosophy thats principles lead easilly to trans-friendliness (though like all such systems it has it's bigots too).

Indeed the same problems of conformity, of hostility to the different, of judging others by negative stereotypes, of ignorance etc effect us all. Problem is in oppressed groups we tend to Internalise a lot of that oppression as well as absorb a lot of the bigotries in society against other groups. So you can find transphobic GLB's TS's who hate CDs and vice versa, racists, sexists etc.

Often these are even stronger in oppressed groups than in the general population! This is because many oppressed people want to fit in and want to identify with the 'mainstream' oppressing society not because it is oppressing but because it is seen as 'the' society. And so they will defend the status quo, justify it's flaws in all particulars save for the discrimination against themselves and they will discriminate against other marginalised groups.

It's like the kid with glasses tripping over the overweight kid at school so the rest of the kids will be more accepting of the kid with glasses and see he can be just like them.

Thus the victims attempts to survive for themselves reinforces and strengthens the bullying/opressing culture. Whereas whats really needed is the undermining and dismantling and condemning of the bullying culture so that differences are seen as valuable not detrimental and conformity to fit in and be the same is seen as the enemy of all. A unity of diverse equals rather than a hierarchy of differences enforced with physical and emotional and psychological violence.

As every group has its people struggling to survive themselves and perpetuating the problem it's easy for someone from one group to see those in another and label the entire group as 'bad' while seeing the same behaviour in their own group as justified and an understandable response to what they have suffered. This perspective bias also feeds into the rest and further strngthens and perpetuates the oppression.

By building bridges between groups, by making friends and allies in other groups, by condemning such opressing and scapegoating within our own groups we can dissmantle this pattern if not wholly then substantially enough to drastically improve the lives of masses of people.