Saturday, April 17, 2010

Redheads Human, Emo's not? And Law fails on racist government ads

Well looky here. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Comission makes clear that the law doesn't count hate-speech that promotes prejudice against an inherited pigmentation characteristic (i.e. racism) as actionable discrimination....

But wait a moment, what was with that whole TRIAL and CONVICTION against Catch The Fire Ministeries anti-islamic comments?

You know, the one that had several religious groups claiming the Victorian law as a reason the nation shouldn't have a Human Rights Act?

So what happened? Are they applying the law differently for Red Haired people than for Islam? Or did they change the law to pander to whining Christians distraught that they may be held fairly and equally accountable for Slander and Libel and Villification against followers of another faith?

But only red hair AGAIN.

Apparrently while they consider it regretable that red haired people are the subjects of prejudice its so fine to hate members of the Emo culture that they don't warrant any mention. Apparently Red Haired people like my Aunt are Human but the Emo's in town are not.

The SHAME of this foul unethical and abhorent and cynical Human Rights Abuse, the subsequent ignoring of Emo and only recognising the effects on red haired people STAINS the state of Victoria, STAINS our national broadcaster the ABC and STAINS The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Comission.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ethics and Fighting for Rights and Running Support/Issues/Discussion Websites

I want this post to be the starting point of a major and vital discussion. I welcome ALL pertinent commentors (only spam advertising will be deleted by me). This is i believe one of the most pertinent possible conversations.

Where is the line between Ethical and Unethical tactics when engaged in fighting for ones rights and when engaged in running websites that will involve supporting sections of the community, specific issues and general discussion?

Thats not a minor subject and cannot be solved quickly. I welcome long comments, i welcome examples, i welcome bringing in connections to other areas or raising parallels that other sites would often consider off-topic or derails but which are all too often vital to a deep understanding and can cut right to the heart of an issue. I am totally happy for people to quote this, to have it cross-posted, to engage in conversations across other sites etc. Theres a lot in this and it covers a panoply of varying issues and needs and perspectives.

Now I'll give some of my current starting thoughts:

* I think that as philosophically the foundation of Human Rights including Civil and Political Rights is one of an assumption that all rights are enjoyed equally, and that as they are not enjoyed equally that anyone fighting for their own rights does indeed have an obligation towards fighting for the rights of others, supporting others fight for rights and to ensure that they fight for their own rights in such a way that it does not interfere with the rights of others (in general, there WILL be an exception which I'll get to shortly).

* I conclude based off this also that anyone currently enjoying their rights while others do not enjoy theirs have in essence borrowed upon the future enjoyment of all on those rights and as such do literally owe those currently unable to enjoy their rights.

* I see that Equal Rights requires as a responsibility all claimers of those rights to be obligated to respect the equal rights of all others as well as to fight to defend and also to ensure the equal rights of all others. That this requires some compromise of rights to practically ensure but should be kept to the minimum required to do so. That this then results in, if failed to do so, a loss of valid claim to ones own rights. That this loss should still be as minimal as possible with the goal of rectifying the problem. This is an important but complex part. It justifies a legal system for example, road rules and other laws where compromises on free action when behind the wheel of a deadly machine to the lives of others etc.

* That when the state and appropriate systems fail in it's duties to the equal rights of all then the minimum required amount of law-breaking to change that is ethical. Now lets not take this one too lightly, because it does go all the way up to killing. Before you dissmiss that thought lets remember that the legal and Ethical validity of many modern democratic rights-principled states are based upon this because revolution, civil war etc was validated by the citizens literally being prepared to die or kill in order to assert their equal rights. Now i'm so not suggesting we reccomend wheel-chair bound or transgender suicide bombers or violent revolutionaries but we must consider the ethics of every aspect of fighting for equality including the riots and bloodshed of past fights for equality. The degree of usefullness and practicality must be weighed regarding such actions.. so it's not so neatly Ethical to use violence as it can sometimes seem.

* Redressing inequalities become everyone's responsibility. That actually validates Affirmative Action for example so long as, and this bit is important, so long as it's still required and is applied relative to need.

* Rights-organisations and activists need to develop full Ethics Standards to ensure that they do not harm the rights of others in their fight and in proposed legislative reforms except where it fits the exceptions discussed above.

* Websites have a Duty-Of-Care to the members of forums, to commentors, to the community they are targeted at and serve. That this includes troublesome members/commentors who may act from triggers and inner pain and refelxive defencive aggression as well as the community they are trying to create a safe stable place for and that while difficult to balance these policies regarding moderation, temp-bans and bans need to consider the realities of mental illness, vulnerability to suicide and the like all too often ignored.

These are not set-in-stone but open for reasoned debate. It's good to discuss them, test them, consider them carefully. There are all sorts of practical considerations like how one might ensure that a small minority populations needs and voice are not drowned out by a larger one when the rights of both need to be considered in order to find the answer to achieving equality. Or how to ensure a community that has been past hurt by another community can still ensure that it considers the rights of that community are not harmed inappropriatly when attempting to get legislative reform. (good examples here involve conflicts between parts of the gay community and transgender community as well as conflicts between the Transsexual and Crossdresser communities).

So please, think about these issues. Think about the principles that underly them, what you feel about them and why, what makes the right thing right and the wrong thing wrong. Consider examples of this and practical considerations. Look for problems and for ways around them.

Lets make this the start of a broad inclusive cogent and consistent conversation that needs to consider all the issues of all involved. The begininng of a deep consideration of some of the most important, contentious and vital issues effecting much of todays society. One that relates to every activist, every official, every democratic represenative, every system, every forum message list and website. It's a big subject and it's time we got started on it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Keep it Simple.. is sometimes stupid when it comes to sexism

There's been a very very interesting discussion over at Questioning Transphobia.

One that has revealed some of the stereotypes especially sex stereotypes not just outside the transgender community but also within feminism and inside the trans community too.

A very offensive thing has been said about Trans Men showing stereotypes and generalisations are alive and well.

And we have the very interesting phenomena of peoples reactions to my raising cis male rape victims of cis women.

I first learned of its existed because of a suicide, a teen killed himself after police laughed at him and told him he should have enjoyed it. You know who else laughed? Most of the people who talked about it! Someone was dead but it was funny cause they acted like such a girl by not wanting sex with an older woman and being upset and killing themself.

In the many years since then theres been the occassional rare mention in the media and other places of this sort of thing happening. Often met with outrage and anger by women that its even mentioned. Often met with disbelief from women that its even possible. In conversations i have mentioned the subject men will usually laugh at or condemn the victim for being weak useless stupid unmanly. While many women often disbelieve it at all because they cannot imagine that a woman could be string enough to rape a man and/or would want to and/or that the man or boy involved would object unless the woman was extremely unattractive others respond with sadistic glee happy that a man got a taste of his own medicine... but the victims aren't rapists raped back but innocents i might say... nope by being male they are guilty apparently.

See how much sex stereotypes of both men and women are involved?

Thing is i know cis male victims of both rape and attempted rape by women. Not just one but several. From one being tricked into getting drunk around someone he had no reason to think was unsafe through to one whose attacker used brute force and physical violence.

But of course we hear man or male and we usually think strong and powerful and conquering and desiring endless amounts of sex with anything that moves. And woman or female.. well i think you can guesss the rest. Despite many of us knowing exceptions to these, strong powerful aggressive women and weak soft gentle compliant men we still generalise back to these defaults to some extent. Feminism has undone a little of that... but not a lot.

Now cis male victims of cis females are far less common that the reverse. Not that we can get accurate figures because both rarely report an assault but its still likely to be true. But it happens enough that we should all know that it happens, that we should recognise what that means for our sex stereotypes. But the subject is too confronting, too taboo. The sex stereotypes too powerful and too beloved and too integral to the way we consider ourselves and each other... that we erase all exceptions.

Who has not felt the attacks and judgement for not fitting sex stereotypes? It doesn't matter that on average men have more muscular strength there's still many women who can out arm-wrestle many men. There are men with great reserve when it comes to sex and women who mark their conquests.

And the further you fall away from sex stereotypes the worse you get it.
Sexism does not just harm women it harms those men who don't fit the stereotype too.

Lisa at that link said "The whole fucking world exists to talk about cis men’s problems, Batty. " But thats NOT true. No if your reality goes totally against the grain of the sex stereotypes as the cis male victims of cis female sexual assault does then you dont count as a privileged male in the same way anymore. You are not the center of the world. You reality is a threat. There is not the place to discuss it, to get support and help coping with the aftermath let alone justice.

In the news right now is a woman arrested for sexually assaulting the elderly in my state. And news from spain about a horrific crime done by two ci-women agaunst a trans man.

In a discussion about safety from sexual predators every at-risk group no matter how much a minority they may be is a valid stakeholder. The erasure and taboo of cis male victims is caused by sexism, by the need to defend sex stereotypes. It does not erase the cis female victims to include cis males as a minority group of victims and cis females as a minority of perpetrators cause thats just a reality.

A reality that forces us to look harder at sexism to see it's complexity, its degrees of harm, its diverse effects. It makes us reasess our ideas of women when we acknowledge women can want to rape, murder, torture, destroy and value material possessions more than peoples lives it challenges our traditional idea of what consitutes a womans desires and behaviour. When we acknowledge they can be capable of doing that even to men it challenges our ideas of a womans power.

With the conflicts between parts of binary and non binary transgender, the conflicts between some trans women and trans men, the conflicts between feminism and transgender and the bathroom panic attacks on us from some political groups intending to ensure no equality for S&GD people and how sex stereotypes are so caught up in ALL of that then this form of sexism NEEDS to be addressed in our community.

And when a group so marginalised and erased that many have trouble accepting they exist at all yet common enough that I could know more than one in my life (and i don't have the biggest if social circles!) is considered by us taboo too because they happen to be connected to a priviliged class yet have no privilege in this regard.... no excluding discussion of victims of sexual assault like that is not ok. And the role of sexism in their marginalisation is too important to ignore.

Sexism is not simple. So we cannot afford to be simplistic about it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reforming the community label, complex issue but vital

Recently i found an article i missed that refers to something i wrote. Alas comments are closed on it so i cannot respond there to make clear my views on the terms S&GD, TG, GLBTI etc.

But it's well worth my discussing here in more depth.

Why do i support the term S&GD Sex and Gender Diversity?

Well i first encountered it in the HREOC community consultation with the community.

There were a number of people who find the term Transgender offensive if applied to them. Some are Intersex who see no relevance to the term to them. Some are Transsexuals who see their Gender as binary and fixed and the Trans term applying only to their anatomy. CisGender Transsexuals is a term that could rationally describe quite a few people.

There were also people who strove to have one or more groups kicked out of the consultation or have their input ignored because they feared that they and their demands would dominate the consultation. I was one of the targets of this from some transsexuals, and ironically it was the documentation issues of transsexuals that got the focus of the consultation over the objections of those like myself who called for Intersex Surgery issues to be the highest priority let alone my personal issue of anti-discrimination legislation inconsistency accross states especially related to non-gender-binary people.

The same human rights were being discussed in that consultation. Each groups issues had clear overlaps with others. And taken in isolation fixing the issues of one group could have deliterious effects on others of not done peoperly. It was absolutely essential that every group have a place at the table and non-adversarial understanding of the interplay between the systems involved and the rights of all is crucial.

A term was and is needed to show who had a stake in the discussion. S&GD was the term used.

If each group with a right to be there was listed it would be long and unwieldy. Lets list some shall we?

* Intersex
* Post-Op Transsexual
* Pre-Op Transsexual
* Non-Op Transsexual
* Transitioning Transsexual
* Woman Born Transsexual
* Person of Transsexual History
* Crossdresser
* Genderqueer
* Drag King
* Drag Queen
* Androgyne
* Female-to-male
* Male-to-female
* Sistagirl
* Bi-Gender

and thats just a taste, because there are lots of further identities, combinations as well as all the seperate Intersex medical catagories.

It's important not to erase these people. All have a right to be there in these kind of discussions and have their identity recognised and respected.

But we cannot practically list them all every time we write or speak. Not even just as Initials.

But Sex and Gender Diverse covers them all. Diversity of Sex, Diversity of Gender. It doesn't erase each identity that fits under the term. If we need or want to refer to any specific group or groups that fit under that rather than the whole lot it's easy enough to use any of the myriad terms but its impractical to list all of them every time.

Now there is objection in the article i link, a,ongst several, to changing GLBTIQ and varients to GLB(SGD)Q and that looks reasonable enough. After all it lengthens the term for starters and glues two together in their while leaving the others unchanged.

But I don't think thats right. I don't agree with GLB(SGD)Q

If we list every group identity label covered by sexuality we get a nightmarishly long list added to the ones of sex and of gender. We cannot list all those everytime we talk either.

We need a sane, sensible, practical and respectful inclusive way of talking about the community that doesn't involve taking one part of it and using it as a catch-all term for others. Gay is not ok to use for everyone. Nor Queer. Nor Transgender. Nor Intersex where despite evidence for some cross-sexed neurology in not just transsexuals but cissexual gays and lesbians its not part of their identities and the science is far from covering all yet.

So what answers are there?

I suggest that the shortest fairest term i have thus far seen is one that AFAIK i coined myself though its so simple and obvious i would not be surprised if others did before me: SS&GD.

Sexuality Sex and Gender Diversity.

Covering Diversity of Sexuality, of Sex, of Gender.

That term by definition, by having the D for Diversity, is intrinsicly inclusive.
Of course its up to those who use it to ensure we live up to that inclusivity and respect the individual identities that have a deserving place within it.

Its not about erasing any identity. Its about giving us a practical term that respects all identities. That respects those who are rarely if ever included in bite-sized acronyms and are regularly left out of things.

Now i'm not saying it's perfect. And I'm very much against the erasure of Intersex. I am totally in favour of putting Intersex issues right at the front of our priorities because some of them go through some of the worst stuff of us all.

It's suggested in the article that Intersex doesn't imediatly spring to mind with the term S&GD. Well i would think the problem there is peoples association. Diversity of Sex? It seems to me rationally that it would indeed cover Intersex amongst others. Yes new terms need to be explained to people, that can take time and effort, but that does not invalidate the usefullness or importance of such a term. Especially when current terms used are not fair on many and using Transgender, using GLB, GLBT, GLBTI, GLBTIQ.. they all leave people out or misscharacterise them. And often leave them out of things.

Crossdressers, Bi-gender, Genderqueer etc.. like Intersex there's no coverage for us in my state, we can legally be discriminated against (though with female-to-male transsexual with a medical condition making further surgery potentially life-threatening being denied proper legal recognition narrow definitions of Transgender under the law hurt plenty of people who should be covered already). But unlike gthe occassional I for Intersex I never see those intials in the acronym alphabet soup and CDs BGs and GQs et al are regularly left out or treated with direct hostility. The comments, mostly from transsexuals, against including people like me in the HREOC consultation spring to mind, including the radio comment when i was the only such person on the forum at the time. And they claimed we'd be making everything about us to their expense, yet i was advocating for TS and Intersex needs and they were trying to keep us out where my issue with anti-discrimination laws was a valid issue. There's a lot of groups fighting for their fair due of recognition representation and inclusion.

We need to change terminology to be fair, to be respectful and to be practical. We need to deal with the intolerances, bigotries, scapegoating and hate within our communities too. For those who hate being associated with groups they are prejudiced towards.. well SS&GD and the like puts us all rationally and fairly into the same basket and having to rub shoulders with others is usually a darn good way of overcoming prejudices.

It seems to me currently that SS&GD is the answer. But I'm very open to hearing other viewpoints.