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. http://oiiaustralia.com/oped-stop-erasing-intersex-acronyms/ 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.

2 comments:

Cynthia Lee said...

I would personaly regect any 'label' and probably fight against it so long as the words Sex, or Gender are part of the title.
I am more than my genitals and my social sexual role.
Personaly I like just plain,'Diverse.'

Battybattybats said...

Of course your more than those aspects of yourself Cynthia, just like I'm more than just a Goth, though i am a Goth and have suffered discrimination because I am a Goth as well as being attractive to some people because I'm a Goth.

I'm more than a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sufferer but I do suffer CFS and have faced discrimination based on ignorance about the condition.

I'm more than a disability pensioner but i do get the disability pension.

Etc.

These labels don't restrict who i am as a person. I do not have to conform to peoples stereotypes of them. They are however descriptors of aspects of my life which make easier discussion of my experiences and name commonalities i share with others.

They are vital to discuss the human rights relevant to them. We NEED names for things in order to discuss them, understand them and to act on the issues related to them.

The application of names to things, the creation of and use of language, is one of the greatest powers and tools our species ever developed. The ability to convey thoughts ideas experiences knowledge and feellings to others. That is the heart of our cultures, sciences, arts, religions, philosophies.. its at the heart of the human exoerience.

And it's vital to human rights, to eqauality, to political actualisation.

How can we educate, how can we discuss, how can we get justice and equality on our issues if we cannot name them?

Yes we need to deal with thetrend to stereotype every aspect of someone because of one shared characteristic. But if we cannot name something we cannot have any control over it or do anything about it. We need names for things. And we need fair and accurate ones.