Half Way Out of the Dark

The winter solstice, which goes by many names, is represented by a beautiful phrase “Half Way Out of the Dark” as spoken by the Doctor.

Things feel pretty dark right now, the conservative right wing has just practiced a purge on its more moderate types, and now has gotten into the majority of the House of Representatives.

Barack Obama, while being a good centrist leader, is not the progressive president we’d hoped for, were ENDA implementation and DOMA repeal high priorities, you’d hope they would have been pushed through or least brought up during this Congress.

Uganda is still going ahead with their gay genocide bill, and the Christian Right is looking at their situation practically salivating at the possibilities. Look at the Tea Party caucus coalescing around Jim DeMint and his hatred.

The extraordinary thing about the winter solstice is that at the same time as being the shortest, darkest, most miserable day of the year, with a progression of it getting darker and shorter its the first day it starts getting brighter and sunnier.

There is a large grouping of intolerant people on the right, often formed around religious groups, that wants to roll back the progress. They are afraid of us, and out of fear and hatred they bring up voices like Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller and Sharon Angle.

However our allies are growing, a large majority of Americans recognizing the fact that gay discrimination is wrong, and its only a matter of time before those people realize that they need to support full equality. We help that every day that we are true to ourselves, not ashamed, not in the closet, and not quiet.

If you are hiding in the closet at work, its time to stop, its time to stand up. Maybe in your church you hide yourself for a quiet life, its time to stop, its time to stand up. Thankfully now my gay brothers and lesbian sisters will soon be able to stand up for themselves in the military. We are not a quiet passive minority, we are an army of repressed, brilliant, wonderful, shining people, and now is the time to not wait for the light, but create it.

We shouldn’t be waiting, we have to stand up, today we should have equality, so waiting for tomorrow is too late.

I’m Gemma, I’m a lesbian identified, occasionally guy dating, transgender woman, and I’m standing up for today being the day we get equality.

2 down and 2 to go – Thank you, Barney!

I never thought I’d see the day when I’d have a hero that goes by a name such as Barney Frank. Perhaps my being British is part of the reason for that – it’s not a common sort of name over here in the lant of tea and crumpets. … but I do now!

For the benefit of non US readers, when Barney said “2 down, 2 to go”, the 2 down refers to the passing of the Matthew Shepard Act against hate crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and the repeal of the ubiquitous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy preventing openly gay people from serving in the US military.

The two to go refers to the implementation of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (which sadly does not go far enough being exclusive of trans people), and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act which invalidates the marriage of same sex couples in states other than where the mariage was performed, and ensures that same sex marriages are not recognised at a federal level as marriages.

Barney, thank you for that empassioned speech showing up republican opposition to the “radical homosexual agenda” for what it really is, and showing just how unradical the so-called homosexual agenda really is! What gay people want is basic rights, not special rights, and this illustrates that point perfectly.

An Inspiring Story from someone who has Inspired me over the years

This video is by Grishno about an inspiring event, where a conservative christian became an ally.

I’ve been watching Grishno since before I transitioned, and I found her to be an example of a brave and inspiring transwoman, and she was someone who’s words and videos certainly helped me find courage moving forward towards my own transition.

Its also fair to say without the example of women like her, I would not have had the confidence to start No More Lost…

She continues to work for our community and is an awesome role model for other young transwomen like me.

*end of gushing admiration*

What does real genuine deep respect mean?

This is a somewhat personal story, in part due to the fact that i’ve faced 3 people who have used knowledge of my gender identity as a basis on which to attack me.

Two of the incidents were ignorant men who honestly I couldn’t give a shit about, but the one that actually upset me was a former friend using transphobic language against me.

We had a friendship ending falling out and the details are not relevant, what is relevant was in a final communique she referred to me as a “He She Freak”. I was shocked, more than I thought possible not because I expected better of her, but simply the fact that me being transgender was so off limits in the same way calling someone of african american descent a *unmentionable racial pejorative*.

When i confronted her about it recently, after refusing to apologize for such vile language she retorted “I said that to you, to hit you where it hurts”.

This isn’t about my qualities as a friend, or our friendship, it isn’t about how bad things get when friendships fall apart. Its about basic respect for what someone is.

If you use such language, its part of a deeper issue that you have a problem with what I am, the same way if you use such offensive terms for other minorities and women.

I’m not naming this person because it would do no good, but she is no better than a white supremacist calling a former friend a *offensive word*

FCK8 releases a new video

This is a really good visible campaign, of course being called on their crap frustrates NOM, so they responded claiming the children are being exploited.

The response makes me sick, how dare they talk loving families and say these children are not allowed a voice.

We are here, we have marriages in reality if not in law and people we love, and surprisingly we want share that positive environment with our children. I really don’t care that your neolithic religion doesn’t like the fact that i fuck my girlfriend and I think like everything else from that ignorant age it should be thrown on the trash heap…

Pop on over to FCKH8.COM and show your support :)

Update
I’m just making a clarification here, that not all branches of the judeochristianislamic pantheon of religions cling to the homophobic tennets preached by the christian right. I do not intend to criticize the enlightened sects that remained true to the positive aspects espoused by those faiths, and if anyone took offense i do apologize, your faith is not for me but you are entitled to it.

NOM talks to the homophobic RNC chairs

I keep hearing that i shouldn’t paint the republicans with the lgbtqa-phobic brush that i do despite a track record of trying to make my life and the life of everyone different more difficult.

Here is a sample of the opinions on gay equality but the current contenders for RNC chairman.

We have number 1:Reince Priebus

We have number 2:Gentry Collins

We have number 3: Ann Wagner

Aside from the fact that all these candidates have no idea of the thousands of happy successful children of LGBTQA families, and cling to antiquated homophobic talking points. They ignore years of studies showing that there are no inherent disadvantages to having an LGBTQA family.

One of the candidates even talked proudly of the anti-gay rhetoric of 2004. We are facing a political party that is applying a litmus test of hatred for LGBTQA equality, to its candidates, and that is dangerous on 2 large fronts. Firstly it means that when the republicans get in, they will make our lives miserable. Already they are talking about trying to stop DADT repeal from happening. Secondly it means that the Democrats feel like they don’t need to stand up so much for LGBTQA equality. When your other choice is someone who is campaigning on repealing your rights, you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

I am a lefty liberal socialist, so i sit to the left of the left wing of the democratic party, so i’m not in favor of republican policies, however i’d like to see a more sane moderate republican party, with sane voices like Meghan McCain rather than extremists like Sharon Angle because its better for the country, and its better for the cause of equality.

However with voices like Ann Wagner, Reince Priebus and Gentry Collins, I don’t see a sane republican party in future, only more hatred and vitriol against LGBTQA people and other minorities….

Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

Bishop of WinchesterAnybody that recognises the title of this article will instantly realise that it’s about to illustrate something ridiculous. Fittingly, it comes from Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail”; the Holy Grail, in this case, being the ‘right’ sought by some Christians to discriminate against LGBT people. It’s a cry all too familiar in the US, and recently in the UK alike, where those facing laws preventing the enactment of bigotry in the name of religion scream out “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”, which is no less ridiculous from these religious figures, public servants and so-called ‘pro-family’ groups than it was when it came from Michael Palin’s Dennis, the infuriatingly awkward peasant in The Holy Grail.

As reported by The Telegraph, a UK based tabloid newspaper with a conservative bias, the Bishop of Winchester (the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt) chose the day after Christmas to deliver his gift of wisdom to the nation on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World This Weekend’. Namely, that he notes that “The Human Rights Act is protecting the rights of minority groups while encouraging judges and politicians to discriminate against Christians”. Could he be complaining of a “war against Christmas”? Perhaps, but no. Instead, he warns us that “the death of ‘religious literacy’ among those who made and administered the law had created an imbalance in the way in which those with faith were treated compared to sexual minorities.” By sexual minorities, of course, he means gay people. Once again, a religious figure is effectively complaining that the refusal to allow Christians to discriminate against gay people is, in fact, discrimination against Christians.

There is a temptation here to pick apart his argument statement by statement – while it may sound reasoned on the face of it, it’s absolutely jam packed full of straw men. Instead though, lets go for the jugular – those things that are pretty much universal in such claims, and that which forms the basis of his argument.

Firstly, there are LGBT Christians too – and so by definition, “sexual minorities” and “Christians” are not separate, disparate groups. Support of the human rights of “sexual minorities” does not and cannot mean discrimination against Christians.

Secondly, there is an argument that people of strong faith should be able to realise their faith and live it rather than simply pay lip service to it. This is actually a very strong argument, with one flaw; where does it say in christian scripture that Christians must interfere in other people’s lives, be dismissive of gay people or refuse to provide them with services, push their beliefs onto other people, refuse to “love thy neighbor” because that neighbor happens to be gay or insist that gay people don’t make good parents? Sure, a person of conscience must of course act by their conscience – but what informs it? Certain Christians believe that God insists that man should not lie with man, but since when are genuine Christians the enforcers of Gods law rather than its adherents? A person who believes that gay sex is wrong according to their faith can live and realise that faith by not having gay sex. It’s that simple. Christian scripture actually warns against pronouncing judgement on others!

Finally, of course, there’s the issue of Human Rights itself. These are rights that each human being has by virtue of being human. Inalienable rights stemming from one’s existence as a human being. It seems to be that those that wish to create a right for the religious to discriminate against LGBT people (the right never existed in the first place – more of a wrong that was allowed to happen) either don’t understand the concept of Human Rights, or believe that they should be defined in accordance with their personal religious beliefs – it’s a little bit crazy when you really think about it.

No Reverend, religious literacy doesn’t have a place in lawmaking, except in laws directly relating to religion. Laws that public/secular services must be provided on a non-discriminatory basis do not qualify as laws directly relating to religion. They may, however, go some way to righting the wrongs of those few religious people who practice bigotry, mean spiritedness and hate in the name of their religion.

Our first hate comment…

Its sad really that our third real comment on this site was from a bigot…

link

This is the world we face, its not full of reasonable people who do not understand, its a world that is afraid of what is different and what it does not understand. We have to fight the ignorance, and defend ourselves from the hateful.

I get to call myself a muff munching queer dyke, because those are words i own, but if you want to come on here and call me unmentionable things, then you are not welcome here….

Who has the power?

argumentAs a trans person, trans issues are where I personally find most traction – though I’m also queer, and lesbian. For me personally, however, it’s being trans that has the greatest bearing on how I’m treated sometimes, because for those who see it and are inclined to be awkward, this wholly inconsequential fact of my existence overrides all others and they make it an issue. Once upon a time it would embarrass me – these days, not so much so. While this article is primarily trans related, it could equally find some traction with other people who identify with the LGBTQIA grouping.

After reading what turned out to be quite possibly the best ‘Trans 101′ I have ever read, I decided to look at what else the author of the piece had written, I soon stumbled on this; The Trans Power Manifesto. I could ramble on forever about what Asher Bauer says in this article, but I encourage you to read it for yourselves. Instead, all I need say here is that it starts;

Hello trans people. It’s a fucked up world, isn’t it? We’ve all got plenty of problems. As trans people, we suffer from poverty, violence, lack of employment, lack of education, bigotry, contempt, and constant hostile scrutiny in public. We are desperate, and we have nowhere to turn.

… and ends;

A small reality check– as good as this all sounds, I realize, of course, that there are situations in which retaliation is simply not safe, when it could lose you a job, a home, or even your life. Recognizing that we are all outgunned most of the time is another part of trans power, because trans power means never minimizing what is happening to us all, all the time. We have to find ways to network and organize and give each other support. It is hard when we have so few resources, but we do have one resource in abundance, and that is our rage. I think that anger could be our strength, our emergency reserve, our five-hour energy shot. But it will never help us if we keep turning it on ourselves instead of allowing our attackers to feel it.

Does this make sense? Am I crazy? Am I overreacting? Or is this story your story, this truth, your truth?

Is “trans power” the name of your anger today?

I’m sure the message is clear just from those two paragraphs. Inspired by the article, a few weeks later I found the opportunity to put its sentiment into practice. At a local shop I visit regularly, there’s often a young guy and an older guy serving behind the counter. The young guy never fails to gender me correctly, and treats me with decency, courtesy and a very friendly manner every time. The older guy is a different story. On this occasion, when I went into the shop I was greeted in the usual manner by the younger guy – a non-patronising, friendly “hello dear”, such is his way. I held a conversation with them both and all went well, until of course I tried to pay the older guy for my purchases. “That’ll be £21.68, Sir.” This was deliberate. Very deliberate.

“Actually, that’s Madam”, I responded… I wasn’t going to stand for it. I was somewhat taken aback when he confidently responded.

“I’m just old fashioned”, he said.

Old fashioned? since when is such blatant impoliteness and bad manners old fashioned in the traditional well mannered days of yesteryear? Old fashioned is having manners, not feigning ignorance and pretending it’s polite! Needless to say, I wasn’t going to let it drop there…

“There’s nothing old fashioned about it!”, I replied, wielding the debit cart I intended to use to pay, which clearly displayed my name and correct title of ‘Miss’. “It’s just as well that my bank aren’t ‘old fashioned’ too isn’t it, lest I not be able to pay you owing to a card in the wrong legal name and title!”

He didn’t respond to that. At all. In fact, much as he probably brushed it off, it showed him up for the sort of person his behaviour suggested. A further incident will result in my telling him of my intent to contact his employer, or failing that, to contact his employers franchise to tell them just how the staff treat long time paying customers!

I felt satisfied. I felt good about myself. What I didn’t feel was a hint of embarrassment or upset. What overcame me rather than negative feelings about myself was indignation at the man’s behaviour. I was angry, I was rightly angry, and I damned well showed him as much, taking him down a peg in the process. Of course, having the moral high ground, and feeling no discomfort, I continued to engage him in idle conversation about the weather before leaving, showing just who the better person was!

The moral of this story? Well, even when you think you’re done with it, it just keeps coming, doesn’t it? The thing is, you actually don’t have to care! Yes, it can hurt, and yes, it can strike out at you…. and yes, it can make out lives far harder than they need to be… but we don’t need to lie down and take it. We don’t need to rise above and transcend it.

Those that would criticise us as being aggressive towards those who wrong us can be damned right, but it doesn’t make us any less women or men…. it makes us people. REAL people, with self esteem, and with the knowledge that its US who have the moral high ground. It’s US who have the courage to be ourselves and to stand up for what’s right. as real people, it’s both our responsibility and right to react to those who wrong us as any other human being would and let them know about it in no uncertain terms. It’s not worth putting your life at risk for (for example, LGBTQIA or not, it isn’t a good idea to front up to a guy with a gun in his hands!), but from day to day, and from place to place, stand up for yourself, your pride, your self esteem, your moral high ground and your right to be yourself, because you can, and you deserve it! Be angry when someone pointlessly and/or deliberately offends you – because it’s natural, and because you have the right!

Department of Education begins to step up to the mark

It may be slow in doing this, but it looks like as a result of the Office of Civil rights realizing the serious problem of lgbtqa-phobic bullying and torment going on in American schools.

The problem is systemic, its not just about incidents where you have isolated bullying against specific victims, its about a problem where these schools do not recognize or deal with the problems, its about a culture of discriminating against people who are different.

From the schoolboard, down to the teacher level, and in the yard, if you are attacked for many things they’ll jump to it, but being criticized for being different, thats allowed. I remember the sheer terror at school of being outed, even though i wasn’t out to myself, the accusation would have been bad enough.

If you are a teacher or school official, you should present an unequivocal message, that being LGBTQA is perfectly natural and healthy, and that religious sensibilities should not be brought into the equation because they come from a time prior to modern understanding of LGBTQA nature.

When someone feels they are being harassed for who they are, then school officials should take action, and treat it as seriously as any other issue of harassment.

Story via Pink News