Why does society seem so intent on forcing minority groups to have to fight for the right merely to exist in public? And why, when said minorities ask for the same rights as everyone else, are they shouted at and told that they are asking for special rights?
People with disabilities ask for accessible buildings, and are told that it is too expensive, too difficult, and there aren’t that many PWD anyway and why are they asking for “special treatment”?
Trans people ask that they be able to walk down the street without fear of harassment, and that they can use a public toilet without fear of being assaulted, banned from a casino for life (good news is that that has been overturned – scroll right to the bottom) or denied access at a Gay Pride Rally. Despite every new story I have heard of involving trans people (usually trans women, although I am sure there are many incidents involving trans men) as the victim of prejudice or assault, the toilet issue is still framed as “protecting” cis women and children from trans women, with one of three reasons given: 1.) The cis women would feel uncomfortable 2.) The trans women would assault the cis women 3.) Cis men would pretend to be trans women in order to assault women and/or children.
I’m going to attempt to unpack these.
The cis women would feel uncomfortable. Well there are people who would be uncomfortable with anyone of a non-White ethnicity using the toilets. Or people who look and dress differently to them. There is a clever website which shows the amount of prejudice against the traveling/Roma/gypsy community by taking every headline with the word “Gypsy” in and replacing it with “Jew”. The results are startling. If all the websites taking this stance were to have “trans women” replaced with “black women” this would be shown as the unacceptable prejudice that it is. Just because some theoretical person may be offended by the existence of a person belonging to a minority in a public space, we should not automatically ban the minority from that public space.
The trans women would assault the cis women. A quick Google search yields 5 pages of stories about trans women being assaulted. I can’t find even one story about the reverse. Nobody else can either. This is a complete fallacy. Why are people even continuing to bring this one up with no evidence?
Cis men would pretend to be trans women in order to assault women and/or children. There are no special locks, magical detectors, or scientific thingummybobs currently in use, nor are there ever likely to be, to stop anyone going into any toilet. Hypothetical Male Rapist can just walk into a toilet; Dressing up and pretending to be a trans woman is just too over-complicated, not to mention that said person would feel much of the same shaming that trans women face, except more so for not actually being trans, and would be highly unlikely to consider it. Rape is generally about power, and it’s hard to think of much that might be more dis-empowering to Mr H. M. Rapist.
In my opinion, the first reason is sheer prejudice and the second two are absurd logical fallacies built on what-ifs that are so unlikely to happen that we can safely say that the probability approaches zero.
Everyone should have the right to be in public spaces without any fears of what might happen, without exception.
So this idea came about because normally its considered good legal ethics for a lawyer to defend their client no matter how distasteful. A lawyer should represent their client’s position to the best of their ability. However what happens all the time, when for a variety of reasons, a firm or specific lawyer will decide to stop representing a client. Sometimes its a conflict of interest, a matter of ethics, or quite simply business decisions.
In order however to describe the situation in a clearer way, the year is 1963, and the ACLU has filed a suit on behalf of the Loving family against the state of Virginia about their anti-miscegenation statute. Now part way through that lawsuit, if Mills Godwin had on the advice of his Attorney General, decided to direct the Attorney General of Virginia to no longer defend the 1924 law. In response, the legislature hires a prominent law firm, akin to King and Spalding which is a progressive supporter of equal rights.
On reflection and after prominent complaints to the law firm, they decide on balance, they cannot justify being involved in defending an indefensible law and so withdraw.
Its exactly the same situation with King and Spalding today withdrawing from the defense of an indefensible law, and we applaud them for coming to their senses.
There’s been a ruling in Montana, that highlights many of the problems with civil unions. The case was about giving civil unions all the rights of married couples in Montana.
The judge in the case, Jeffrey Sherlock ruled that since there was a Montana amendment specifically in place to prevent equal rights for lgbtqia couples, his hands were tied and he had to reject the plaintive’s case.
Minor hate group, the Montana Family Foundation, applauded the judge’s cowardice claiming he exercised “judicial restraint”.
The Montana ACLU was disappointed but stated that they would appeal to the Montana supreme court. Judge Sherlock indicated that their appeal might be successful, due to his feeling that the superior court would feel they had more of a scope to rule against the amendment.
Thats what the bill coming from Tennessee senator Stacey Campfield seems to be saying. What the bill says is that teachers upto and including the 8th grade are forbidden from
mentioning or acknowledging LGBTQIA issues within school no matter how innocuous. The bill has the label of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, because effectively thats what it means.
Apparently this law has been the pet project of Senator Campfield for several years, and now its heading towards the state senate floor, and we’ve got ask what motivates him. I’m sure will ascribe misguided motives to him, and maybe thats what’s going on, but this bill seems purpose built to increase the rate of suicide in LGBTQIA youth.
Not only will this prevent teachers from acting to stop LGBTQIA-phobic bullying, it prevents them from offering any support to LGBTQIA youth who are beginning to come to terms with themselves. While California is pushing forward with SB48 in an effort to end LGBTQIA-phobia and intolerance, Tenesse seems to be trying to remove any ability from the schools to help vulnerable youth.
Now I’m sure that this comes from some idea about if you don’t mention “Gay” people wont be gay… but it comes from bigotry and ignorance.
This bill is going to increase the rate of suicides, not maybe, not possibly, not even probably, this is removing from LGBTQIA youth one of the most important sources of support and help. Senator Campfield even wants teachers investigated just to make sure that teachers do not offer said support.
This is about shoving us back in to the closet and hoping we go away… well we aren’t, and if this bill passes, the legislature of the state of Tennessee will have the blood of vulnerable youth on their hands.
If you are in Tennessee call your state senator, your representative, and the governor’s office, to protest.
Even if you aren’t in Tennessee call Senator Campfield’s office on (615)-741-1766 and remind him of the lives he is putting at risk.
For those of you who maybe were approached in school or college on monday, you’ll know that it was the “Day of Dialogue”, an event meant to counter the “Day of Silence” memorial that takes place every year. It was started by Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund to protest the grass roots personal vow of silence taken to protest bullying of LGBTQIA youth.
They try to wrap the concepts up in ideas of love, hope, understanding, compassion and truth, and yet in an Orwellian twist the day is one of hate, despair, ignorance, callousness and lies, but it doesn’t need to be. There are those who want to leave the religious bigots alone, to suffer in their pain and ignorance but that’s not good enough for me.
We through chances of fate, luck and character, get the advantage of seeing a better world, a tolerant progressive world worthy of our dreams. I don’t want to live in a bubble outside which fear and misunderstanding rule. We’re all outside Plato’s Cave, bathing in the sunshine looking in at people chained to the walls begging to not be set free. Maybe thats a situation you can live comfortably with, but I choose not to.
As you sit comfortably in your homes and live you lives, think about all the Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex youth. There’s at least a million children in daily torment due to the prejudices of their parents who we are abandoning. But as well as that we are abandoning those parents, pastors and other misguided people to their ignorance. I have to believe that for all the evil they spread, there has to be hope for the Pope, Maggie Gallagher, and Rick Santorum. All it takes is the right person, in the right place, with some wise words, to start them on the road towards the light.
This isn’t about changing what those people are, its about showing them about the kind of people they have the potential to be, free of the shackles of ignorance. We don’t have to wait until the next “Day of Dialogue” we can start today, we can start talking, and fighting the lies they tell about us.The battles fought over healthcare actually gives us some lessons to be learned. We have to confront every lie, every distortion, and every last verse of holy book. The death panels lie should have lasted less than a news cycle, and so should the lies being told about LGBTQIA people. We are different, but we are not broken, and our stories, and our courage can set more than just us free.
Its not just about us, its about freeing them from the artificial constraints that they are forced into. The sheer madness of the situation is actually thrown into sharp relief with the legal prostitution that occurs in Iran, where a helpful iman grants marriages between client and sex worker, who after “sharing the marital bed” divorce using the “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you” method, and leave. Sex is meant to be between consenting adults, and freedom from religious views on sex is something of what we offer. … and holding it back because of some strange ideas about criminalizing intimacy only being allowed during marriage, is lunacy.
Despite its’ reputation for being a solid red state, there’s a strong liberal progressive core in Austin, with similarly strong blue showings in most of the major cities.
The governor of Texas, considered to be one of the weakest governors of all the states, but its still an influential leadership position.
This means that when Texas elects a man like Rick Perry, it means disaster for all texans, not just the progressive ones. It seemed like it couldn’t get any worse when during the healthcare debate, he raised the spectre of secession. But now he’s come out swinging against LGBTQIA Texans.
“There is still a land of opportunity, friends — it’s called Texas,” Perry said. “We’re creating more jobs than any other state in the nation. … Would you rather live in a state like this, or in a state where a man can marry a man?”
Ignoring that Texas is in such a bad situation even without all the regulations most states have, he shows his ignorance and bigotry. He tries to laud Texas as the land of the free, while crowing that LGBTQIA texans are not free. Its the true hypocrisy of conservatives, that they want small government for them, and big government for us.
This is a man, wholly unsuited to the positon of mayor of a 1 horse town, let alone governor of Texas. He does nothing but bring disrepute to the wonderful people of Texas, and needs to go. He threatened to tear apart the union because Obama wanted to give affordable healthcare to Texans.
Nearly every Texan I’ve ever met, has been truly awesome, and are fiercely loyal to their home state. Its a rich and diverse state that deserves someone better than Rick Perry to be their leader. Tomorrow belongs to the real enlightened Texans, not the ignorant minority that thinks that secession and homophobia are good ideas, and that Texas will always be ruled by them.
Rick Perry is not up for re-election until 2016, but in 2012 you can take away his legislature.
If you have pride in Texas, if you have love for the lone star state, then you can not allow this secessionist homophobic clown to run amuck ruining your great state.
I was struck recently by a parallel between the “burqa ban” in France and the ongoing debate around prescribing hormone blockers to transsexual children and teenagers.
The ban in France is against the niqab, a full-face veil, and the burqa, a full-body covering that leaves only a mesh to see through. Other forms of Islamic head and body coverings are not affected.
France has passed this law on the basis that the women who wear the niqab or burqa are oppressed and have been forced into it by their husbands or the local mosque. (See here and here, these links also include a slide show of what the different forms of veil and head covering look like) This is arrogant and small-minded, and one journalist who took the time to speak to a Muslim woman who chooses to wear the niqab got a fantastic interview, which I urge you to read. My favourite quote has to be “If women want to walk around half-naked I don’t object to them doing so. If they want to wear tight jeans where you can see their underwear or walk around with their breasts hanging out, I don’t give a damn. But if they are allowed to do that, why should I not be allowed to cover up?”)
Similarly, those who oppose giving hormone blockers to transsexual youth insist that they know what is best. That people so young can’t possibly know that they are transsexual, that X% (where X is anywhere from 50 to 98) turn out to be cissexual, that delaying puberty is harmful, and even that prescribing these drugs is child abuse. (I am with the camp that argue that not prescribing them is a form of child abuse). Janefae has written an excellent post on the subject on one of her blogs, Sex Matters.
The similarities in both these cases is that the majority is insisting, loudly and vocally, that they know what is best for the minority, ignoring the opinions and lived experience of that minority. I am left feeling jaw-dropping shock that anyone could be so arrogant, so condescending and so patronising.
For the heartbreaking story of what happens when these drugs are not prescribed, read one mother’s story: “I would rather have a live daughter than a dead son”.
On the other, much happier, hand we have German singer Kim Petras, who has been erroneously described as “the world’s youngest transsexual” (Gender Identity Disorder has been diagnosed in six-year-olds. Kim is the youngest person to undergo surgery, which she received when she was 16.)
I will spell out what I mean clearly and plainly: Do not tell minorities that you know what is best for them. Ever.
Hatred is a strange and terrible beast, alone among all human emotions, it has no positive, no value, and it is born in ignorance. I was brought up in such an environment. Long before I had even come to terms with myself, the world around me treated LGBTQIA people as broken, twisted, and disgusting.
I remember being told the “tragic news” when my cousin came out as gay. I watched as a supposedly happy straight man on Eastenders was “corrupted” by the token gay character. Being gay was synonymous with something negative.
Now I’m a self aware polyamorous queer culture embracing, bisexual transwoman, who looks back in horror at her past viewpoint and tries to understand how I could have been so wrong. My parents didn’t hate gay people, they felt pity for them, but that was indoctrinated into me. Despite going to a christian school, I was fortunate that they were not openly homophobic.
I think this cuts at the root of so many of our problems. I didn’t have the experience, or the knowledge to know better. I was cut off from a world of experience, and a universe of perspectives. Our history is one of filtering out the extraordinary, the interesting, the deep, and the challenging. Society and Geography talked only about 2 parent heterosexual families, and skirted around the fact that the white picket fence was a rarity. No matter how deep I dove into my religious education, i’d never have been allowed to find out about the two-spirited of the first nations, the Galli of rome, or the triangle of Thai myth. The very society that raised me, conspired against my entire generation to limit our ideas, our expressions and our dreams.
We owe a duty to the next generation to not cripple them, the way the previous generation crippled us. Already some allies have stepped up, in California, in Massachusetts, and back here in the UK. Schools are attacking the ignorance head on, but not with truncheons and thought police, instead with stories, histories, and the truth. Change is happening, but you need to help it along. Schools, Education authorities and Governments will listen, if we all speak up.
This is about the idea that straight men should loose their fear of being thought of as gay. Its based on an outmoded stereotype of gay men being something negative.
It’s not all their fault, some of it comes from society enforcing strict pigeon holing that you are gay or straight and once you’ve gone gay then you are gay. Most people are bi to some extent… If they have a gay relationship they are not intrinsically more gay… They are as they were, just more experienced.
Now for me personally, an actively bi guy (I.e. He’s dated a guy already) is more interesting to me than a straight guy. I like depth and complexity, and relationship experience is a bonus.
I wish there was a simple solution, but all I’ve got is focussing on confidence. Be happy with being who you are. If someone treats you badly because they think you are gay then to be honest, they aren’t worth the time you’ll want to waste, worrying about what they think.
In the battle between the bigots and the progressives, something is kicked around, and thats the idea of Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships, offered up as a compromise. Giving as many benefits as possible to LGBTQIA families provided that they are not called marriages. There are different flavors with different benefits throughout the USA, but just like marriages, they do not extend past the state line. Some states have parity or recognition of civil partnerships and marriages from other states. However the violation of the full faith and credit clause prevents these legal unions from being recognizes USA-wide.
Now for your for your average LGBTQIA couple they are looking for 3 things from marriage, firstly all the legal benefits of marriage, secondly all the legal responsibilities, and thirdly the actual recognized state of being married.
Now probably the strongest example of a civil union is that in the UK where aside from the name, its a marriage, however thats a rare case in a progressive country.
If you work for a decent company in a decent state and you are in a domestic partnership you may not have to worry about the legal limitations of domestic partnerships, but in the real world, your spouse may not be entitled to visit you in hospital, they may not be able to share your medical benefits, and every year LGBTQIA couples are penalized because they cannot jointly file taxes. There are also many rights recognized universally throughout the US for married couples, including immigration benefits, inheritance tax loopholes and simple spousal privilege in court (the right to refuse to testify against your spouse). Just like any cheap knock off, its not as functional, reliable or worth the same as the genuine article, and fobbing us off with Civil Unions is an insult.
Now on the right, with groups like NOM, the ADF and other hate groups the problem is that they do too much. NOM in particular are guilty of this little fiction, they frequently claim that its about protecting marriage, but then promote bills that would ban civil partnerships as well.
You look at their efforts around the USA, which vary from fighting against states that give benefits to same sex partners, or dare to pass real civil partnerships.
The problem for them is anything that gives LGBTQIA couples rights is a problem for them, so of course they are going to fight against civil partnerships. “The queers are thinking above their station” is the meme they are trying to spread around.
While on the other hand, being too much for the bigots, not only are civil partnerships separate but equal, quite often they do not provide all the rights of marriage.
The 1898 Plessy vs Ferguson decision codified into law the idea that provided you gave african american people something that sounded the same as given to white people, you could make them use different train cars, different stores, and different rights.
We need marriage equality, our forebears in the civil rights movement would not have put up with this, we owe it to ourselves, and their memories to keep fighting the good fight.
Now I got a list of the Planned Parenthoods near Live Action that provide mammogram services. If you look they offer “Mammogram Referrals” but if you look into the situation, most planned parenthoods cannot afford to have a mammogram machine onsite, but they refer patients to clinics that can provide mammograms, and also subsidize those visits. These visits are part of the services offered by every Planned Parenthood within 50 miles of Live Action’s offices. Those services are funded in part by a federal grant.
Live Action spread a deliberate falsehood because they don’t care what tactics they have to use to achieve their goal of destroying Planned Parenthood, they’ll do everything they can no matter the immorality of their actions. If they cared about the truth then they would have properly investigated.
Another hatchet job was attempted against the Planned Parenthood in Texas and as you can see Media Matters research shows that as another pack of lies. In that case there is a Planned Parenthood facility in which provides the mammogram services for other Planned Parenthood facilities.
A well renowned figure in the gaming industry has kindly taken the time to talk with us about equality and diversity in games and the gaming industry. Mr. Ernest Adams, though not a household name, is known to games developers not only as a founder of the first and largest international body for games developers, but also as a developer behind EA’s Madden NFL series, and as a previous lead designer at Bullfrog Productions. Mr. Adams now works as a consultant working with such clients as THQ, Ubisoft, BioWare, the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), while also being a fellow/visiting professor at a number of universities across Europe and the author of several books on game design.
We’re quite honoured that such a person has chosen to speak with us about the industry and his perceptions of it (we can think of very few who’d have their finger closer to it’s pulse!)…
Mr. Adams, You’re very well known in the industry, and a quick google search shows you to have quite an impressive résumé, but for the benefit of readers, could you please tell us a little about your industry experience in your own words?
I’m a 22-year veteran of the game industry. I got started back in 1989 as a programmer (after having spent 7 years programming in another industry first), and then became a game designer and A/V producer. Along the way I helped to put on the Game Developers’ Conference and founded the International Game Developers’ Association. I’m now a game design consultant, part-time university professor, and writer.
What are your thoughts about Mr. Gaider’s response to the “Straight Male Gamer” in the whole Dragon Age 2 affair recently?
I think David Gaider’s response is one of the most eloquent defenses of equal treatment for all that I’ve ever read. I was particularly impressed by his points that privileged classes of people get so used to being catered for that they see any change as negative, and that they often want to deny the privileges they enjoy to others. This goes right to the heart of the gay marriage issue, in which socially conservative heterosexuals insist that they alone should have the right to get married.
We’ve heared of some statistics suggesting that straight male gamers may actually not be as dominant a demographic as people may first imagine, with one claim from a 2006 study that 70% of online gamers are female, and a claim from a 2008 study that 70% of female gamers typically play as male in order to be taken seriously. Do these numbers match up to your impressions of industry demographics?
It’s nowhere near as dominant as people think it is. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s own fact sheet, 40% of all (not just online) players are women, and more adult women play video games (33%) than teenage boys (20%). This directly contradicts the stereotype that the teenage boy is the typical gamer.
I’m less certain about the gender-bending numbers (“Gender-bending” is standard game-industry speak for playing as a member of the opposite sex, with no disapprobation implied for the most part). I’m surprised to hear that “70% of female gamers typically play as male” — I wonder if that means all the time, or just online, and in what sort of game. I would guess that a very large number of female gamers play Solitaire or Bejeweled as themselves without any effort to gender-bend. In offline games I think men are much more likely to choose a female avatar than a woman is to choose a male avatar. This has in part to do with players’ different attitudes about their relationship to their avatar. For men (speaking generally here) the avatar is really just a means of influencing the game world, whereas for women the avatar is more of a means of self-expression. Women spend much more time customizing their avatars into realistic or fantasy versions of themselves; men are more likely to just grab the default and go.
The gaming industry seems to have taken a few steps forward in recent times, but responses to the BioWare story seem to indicate that the demographics of gamers have diversified faster than the industry itself has. There’s a charge that the industry caters especially to a heterosexual male demographic when in fact it doesn’t really need to do much to be more inclusive of many other demographics as well. Do you feel that the industry needs to diversify in such a way?
The industry absolutely needs to diversify its work force and also to learn to reach other kinds of players beyond “straight male gamers.” Straight male gamers are a solved problem, done and dusted. The question is, can straight male game developers learn to make games for gay, or female, or older, or non-Western gamers? I believe they can and damn well should; but in addition, I feel that the industry would benefit enormously from a more diverse work force. Even with the best will in the world, a man isn’t necessarily going to know what appeals to women — and more importantly, what turns them off. We need fresh perspectives.
One of the ways in which people have felt a little left out on occasions, is that in-game options tend to be limited along traditional lines. In setting up and playing RPG game characters, for example, things often seem to be clearly and unnecessarily delineated between male and female options, which excludes both self-identification for transgender people, and the fantasy for straight people. Do you think that this is something the industry could, and perhaps should, easily rectify?
I think it’s asking a lot to demand that game developers include a third androgynous sex, or even FTM and MTF transgender sexes in addition to traditional male/female in their games. It’s a lot of work to do character animations for two sexes, much less four. In the real world we only construct two kinds of rest rooms (the Swedes often construct only one) and all just have to make a choice; and I think the virtual world is the same and for some of the same reasons: it’s expensive. On the other hand, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to let male characters wear female clothing and vice versa if the player wants to.
In many games there’s no particular need for the player to have an in-game sex; Gordon Freeman in Half-Life is never seen and never speaks, so in fact he need not be named Gordon or have the picture that he does on the box. “He” could have been named “Chris Freeman” and been of indeterminate sex if Valve had wanted to. However, in role-playing games with a story, I understand why it’s necessary for players to either choose a sex or accept a given sex. I have some experience with transgendered people and I know that for many of them it’s a situation that dominates daily life, but in a story of adventure and derring-do, the challenges of being a transgendered person really don’t mesh well with the challenges of destroying evil dragons.
Love, lust and romance are powerful human emotions that feature regularly in video games in a variety of guises, not least because by nature they’re a fundamental part of the human psyche. What are your thoughts on any possible need to see options for this in a homosexual context as well as a heterosexual context, and so including options for others while not taking them away from heterosexual players – an equalising of the playing field, as it were?
I’m all for including a variety of romantic opportunities in a game to cater for players of varying sexualities. David Gaider was right on that point: he was serving everyone, not just one group, and I think that’s fair and right. That said, I know that many straight people are uncomfortable or offended being the target of same-sex romantic proposals (and sadly, a great many gay men have been beaten or worse for doing so by accident). This was really the essence of Straight Male Gamer’s complaint; he didn’t like being propositioned by a gay character. Facebook specifically enables people to say they are interested in men or women to try to reduce unwanted proposals, and I think this is a good idea. “Gaydar” isn’t entirely effective even in the real world; it’s much less so when an artificially-intelligent computer character is trying to decide!
Bottom line: yes to same-sex romantic opportunities, but give people the chance to opt out of undesired propositions from either sex.
I’d be remiss not to ask about the old and continuing charge that female non-player characters are often designed to cater more to the stereotypical fantasies of some males, sometimes to the exclusion of female sensibilities. Could you tell us a little about why this may be and whether it’s something that the industry could easily address?
Its roots lie in the fact that the game industry, from the developers up to marketing and to the CEOs who ultimately decide what to spend the money on, are predominantly male and have for many years thought, wrongly, of gamers as teenage boys. It’s something the industry could address without too much difficulty, but it requires some retraining. We don’t need to make pink games or games specifically for women, so much as simply to avoid design decisions that turn women off. Unfortunately, comparatively few men know what those are. Most are entirely unaware, for example, of how female-hostile the average retail game store is. For much, much more on this subject by an expert, read Sheri Graner Ray’s book Gender Inclusive Game Design.
On the subject of inclusivity, do you believe that there’s a significant demographic of people that currently feel excluded from gaming? If the industry were to diversify, though people such as the “Straight Male Gamer” claim that studio’s may lose their custom, is it likely that other people who currently feel excluded will take their place – perhaps even more than take their place. Is it in the commercial interests of game development houses to be more inclusive in this way, in your opinion?
The group most needlessly excluded from gaming is not actually women or gay people — despite the lack of options for those folks. The people most needlessly excluded, and about whom game developers are even more ignorant than they are about women or gay people, are those with disabilities. Game accessibility is in a terrible state. Most developers never give it the slightest thought. In fact, however, it’s quite easy to make games accessible to people with a wide range of problems. Closed captions are technically trivial to implement and make games available to people with hearing impairments, for example.
Something like 23% of the population suffers from some form of impairment; I myself need glasses and am developing arthritis. I don’t think that making games available to these folks will be especially lucrative, any more than installing curb cuts and ramps in sidewalks is lucrative. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. And so should game developers.
You’ve mentioned that increased diversity in the industry would be a good thing. For one final question, would you say that the games development industry would welcome more female and LGBT game developers, and would you give any specific advice to any such person wishing to enter the game development industry?
The industry certainly thinks it would welcome them, but it’s something of an open question whether they will actually feel welcome. So much depends on the corporate culture of the place where you work. I’m on the advisory board of Women in Games International, which is the professional society in the games development industry for women, and know a multitude of women in the business. At a grown-up company that is serious about enforcing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment rules, there should be no problem, but after I moved from California to England, I was shocked to learn how behind the times the UK industry is (and UK culture generally) — “laddish,” and much more dominated by unenlightened young men.
I’ve written a book called Break Into the Game Industry that addresses issues for women and LGBT folks. My main advice is to keep your eyes open when visiting for an interview — if you’re seeing pinups on the walls and no women in positions of power or creative input, watch out. If you hear some young punk using “gay” as a synonym for “stupid,” ditto.
Apart from that, it’s really about showing us what you can do. Job-seeking in this industry is mostly a matter of compiling an awesome portfolio, one that makes the hiring manager say, “Wow… I have got to talk to this person!”
Mr. Adams, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us; it’s sincerely appreciated and has been a real pleasure.
Everybody knows that the games industry has it’s good points and it’s bad points, and Mr. Adams’ responses add weight to such a view. Even so, the responses are important in another way: They show that not only is there change in the gaming world, but there is a willingness to change. There is a recognition of where the industry falls short of the mark sometimes, and in the context of these responses, the recent BioWare story can be seen as a step towards a better future both for the industry and for gamers.
These things take time, but the BioWare story changed the world just that little bit. It might not have had a huge impact, but someone, somewhere will have taken notice. It has shown not only that there’s support for the response of David Gaider, but there’s support for such changes of perspective, attitude and understanding in the games industry in general. Ernest Adams’s responses in this interview are no less important. The answers to these questions come not only from a 22 year veteran of the industry, but one of the leading figures within it. Those who wish to see this greater diversity, inclusivity and equality in the industry may wish to share what he has to say, encouraging that change by doing so.
If you’d like to know more about Mr. Ernest Adams and his work, his website is found at www.designersnotebook.com.
George W Bush attempted to stab american people across the US with one of his final acts. This executive order allowed medical personel to refuse to do their jobs. Thankfully it was repealed by President Obama (mostly) but a specific case is going on in Illinois, where 2 pharmacists are refusing to do their jobs
The pharmacists were refusing to give out the morning after pill despite a statewide mandate insisting that they should do so. Their beliefs stated that the morning after pill was murder since it prevents an embryo from implanting on the uterine wall. I am not going to go into a detailed critique of this argument, my views on foetal development are well known.
This is about pharmacists refusing to do their job. Their job is to distribute the appropriate medication as directed by medical knowledge for non-prescription medication, and prescription medication as directed by the customer’s doctor.
I managed to have an e-mail conversation with the attorney in the case, Mark Rienzi, who despite being a prominent pro-life attorney was courteous and very responsive to all my questions which I do appreciate.
I asked him four questions, along with followup questions, to which he responded.
Question 1a: you raise the fact that there are numerous pharmacies around the pharmacy concerned. Would you fight your case were this the only pharmacy in a town, with the nearest one 20 miles away? If this is the case, will you ask it to be entered in the record that you feel that it is a specifically limited decision for pharmacies with easily accessible competition?
As to the existence of other pharmacies nearby, I do think that is a relevant fact. But even if competition were further away, the bottom line is that if the state thinks it is supremely important that women have access to the one particular drug these stores don’t sell (emergency contraception), then the state can just provide it directly, rather than by forcing unwilling people to violate their beliefs or lose their jobs. That should be the essence of a pro-choice position in a free society–everyone gets to make the choice for themselves as to what they will do. In any case, this drug is available over the counter and over the internet, and there is no reason that the willing doctors who prescribe it cannot be asked to help people get it. Nor is there any reason that other willing groups can’t help make it available. In fact, the government could just set up a website and phone number to order it for people if they actually think someone won’t get their drug (and that is just as quick as what they are trying to force the pharmacists to do, because there is no obligation to stock the drug, just to order it if asked). In any case, if the government wins this case it won’t be making drugs more available but less–because these pharmacies will be forced to go out of business entirely. That doesn’t help anyone’s health.
Question 1b: I worry for women who need those medications (including myself) were in a restricted situation such as in a small town with one pharmacist, without the assumption of internet access, they would be disadvantaged by their situation and unable to access the choice everyone else has. There are a lot of small american towns with one pharmacy and limited internet access….and your lawsuit could threaten the rights of women in those environments..
As to small towns with limited internet access–if the government sees this as a concern, it can do something directly to meet it rather than forcing unwilling people to participate. The government in this case has been more than willing to set up special telephone hotlines for the purposes of finding and reporting pharmacists with religious objections. They could just as easily use those hotlines to mail order people their medications. And since this is a prescription, presumably the person was able to get to or talk to a doctor–the state just ask that doctor (who obviously has no objection to the medication) to order the drug for the person. All of these seem like easier, faster, and less burdensome ways to get people their medicines.
Question 1:My analysis
The gist of his argument was that he felt the way to handle supplying “controversial” medications was that the state should provide alternative routes of getting those medications to take the onus off the pharmacist to supply those medication.
I was describing the situation that many people are in where they have limited access to pharmacy resources and are at the mercy of pharmacists choosing not to do their job. Its possible to create these work arounds in theory, however the political minefield of setting up such a system would be completely impractical. The fact is that no other profession allows you to stop doing your key function because of your beliefs. I addressed this more in my next question.
Question 2a: is it not the duty of a pharmacist to fill the prescription given by a medical practitioner? Have you considered this precedent could be extended to any possible system of beliefs, such as a pharmacist refusing to dispense drugs that have been developed with animal testing, and would you defend those cases?
As to whether allowing religious objections is a good or a bad thing as a policy matter, as we explained to the court that’s not our judgment or the AG’s judgment or even this court’s judgment to make. The legislature of Illinois already made it when they enacted the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, etc.; and the federal constitution already makes it as well in the First Amendment.
Question 2b: I suppose the thing I find troubling is that I see the role of the pharmacist as giving out the medications that they are required to by a doctor’s prescription, did they enter the field with the specific intention of not fulfilling this requirement? A jehovah’s witness would not work in a blood bank, and a vegan would not work in a slaughterhouse, it seems to me they had to know they would be required to give medication out in conflict with their personal views.
As to expectations, these plaintiffs entered the profession in a state that expressly protects them from being forced by the government to violate their religion. So the law says they can validly expect the ability to occasionally step aside and not participate in what they believe to be killing.
As to whether this is the same as a vegan at a slaughterhouse, I think it is a matter of definition. Given that these pharmacists will sell 99+% of available drugs, I don’t think the analogy is quite right. I don’t think a pharmacist is just a drug vending machine. Of course it is certainly possible as a policy matter to define any profession to exclude a class of people. We could say all doctors need to be willing to perform abortions (or executions). And I’m sure the folks from Westboro Baptist Church (the funeral protesters from the Snyder v. Phelps case) would love to convince their local public school board to define the job of public school teacher to include things that would exclude gays (or Catholics for that matter). But I don’t think either one of those things would be permissible or right.
Question 2: My Analysis
Now his point is focussed on trying to make out that the duties of a pharmacist can be superseded by personal belief. The fact he sadly ignored was that giving out medication as required is the core belief, and a vegan could not get away with refusing to dispense Heparin (anticoagulant derived from pig intestines), or an antibiotic rationer could not get away with not dispensing antibiotics for trivial infections due to their beliefs. You don’t get to not do your job because you disagree with the core functionality of your job, if you are in that situation you have to find a new career.
He’s trying to twist the definition of what it means to be a pharmacist, yes you can be a pharmacist who has anti-choice beliefs, but just the same as any other job you are expected not to bring beliefs that conflict with your job into the work place. Nobody forces you to be a pharmacist, you are free to try to work in any profession you are qualified to perform, but you must meet all the requirements of that profession.
Question 3a: There are many conditions for which contraceptive hormones can be prescribed for the health of the woman concerned, particularly related to the reproductive system, such as heavy period flow or other ailments. Is it the place of the pharmacist to question the reason for a certain treatment? They are not the customer’s doctor and are unaware of many of the details of a woman’s health and should not interject themselves into decisions which are between a patient and her doctor. As a result is such action an invasion of privacy, or should the woman be forced to disclose personal medical details in order for the pharmacist to decide if the treatment will conflict with their belief?
As to your particular situation, while I know nothing about it, I agree it would be a terrible thing if you were unable to get you the life saving drugs you describe. The pharmacists in this case, however, did not ask to avoid selling drugs that are life saving as you describe. They sell drugs to heal and help people; their objection is to giving drugs that, they believe, would kill someone, just like pharmacists and doctors who don’t want to participate in assisted suicide or capital punishment. Obviously there are places where assisted suicide and capital punishment are legal, but that doesn’t have to mean that unwilling people get forced to participate against their will or get fired. In a pluralistic society obviously people are free to disagree with these pharmacists as to whether a 2 day old embryo should be respected as a human being and not deliberately killed. But it seems to me fair that when people have a sincere belief that they would be killing a human being, the law should try to respect that, particularly where there are so many other ways for the government to meet the health need it claims. And here the government admitted under oath at trial that it was unaware of even one instance in which a religious pharmacist stepping aside had prevented anyone from getting their medication, despite the fact that this controversy has been going on in Illinois for more than 6 years.
Question 3b: This was more of a question of privacy, there are women who take the pill for medicinal health purposes, is a woman in this situation expected to reveal personal private medical information to a pharmacist in order to get the medication they require?
But he blocked with the following response.
As to privacy, pharmacists do lots of counseling of patients (and are actually required by law to offer counseling). The patient certainly has a right to choose not to talk. But I think the pharmacist then has the right to say they don’t want to sell a drug that might be used to kill a tiny human being. At least in Illinois, the law does not require them to simply give out the drugs and hope that they haven’t participated in what they believe to be killing.
Question 3: My Analysis
Now a pharmacist may be allowed to ask questions to determine if illegal activity is going on, but to the best of my knowledge the patient is under no obligation to answer them, and it is their responsibility to ask about drug conflicts and the rest. Contraceptive medication is not something that would normally be considered a restricted substance. Opiates, and illegal drug precursors (such as ephedrine containing cold medications for crystal meth) are the general focus of pharmacists investigating customers.
If I come in with a prescription for estrogen/progesterone preparation the pharmacist has no right to question whether its because of birth control, or because of other private medical matters. A pharmacist is a medical professional, however they are not someone to whom you have given the right to know your medical details the way you have to your primary care doctor or a specialist. Aside from all the other concerns this is a gross invasion of customer privacy.
Question 4a: I’m a transgender woman, and part of my daily medication is contra-hormone therapy prescribed and monitored by my endocrinologist, under the supervision of my therapist. Should a pharmacist be allowed to refuse to give me the life saving medication I need, because their beliefs conflict with the mountains of medical evidence showing the vital need for treatment for transgender individuals?
Lastly, I’d point out that these pharmacies have a policy of politely returning the prescription. No one at these places has ever been accused of giving a lecture, ripping up a prescription, humiliating a patient, or otherwise interfering. They have not tried to impose their views or morals on anyone; they have simply asked for the right to step aside on this one particular drug.
While the US is a matter of Civil rather than Common law, precedent still carries weight, and a pharmacist could point to your lawsuit if it is successful to refuse to treat me, or a pharmacist could refuse to give anti-retrovirals to an AIDS sufferer because they don’t believe its right to help people suffering from a disease caused by theoretical promiscuity. This lawsuit may target a single medication class for a single situation, but the precedent it sets could be used to allow any pharmacist to refuse any medication because of some belief no matter how rational or logical it is. Does this potential situation not worry you?
Question 4b: Slight addendum on this, the first time you go to a pharmacist to get contra-hormones is nerve wracking because of all the emotional excitement and the stress of the situation, and the humiliation of refusal to be served is something we all fear. Even today 2 years down the line, there’s still that little fear in the back of my mind because any potential pharmacist can work out from my medications what they giving out and refuse to treat me, although here in the UK I’d be able to sue them for discriminatory behavior, it would still be exceptionally heartbreaking and stressful… when I return to the states if i have to go to a new area I have no guarantee that that pharmacist will not have a moral objection and humiliate me by refusing to give me the medications that keep me alive.
As to the precedent, we don’t have a ruling yet and I can’t predict what it will say or how it will be used. But ultimately the policy judgment here was made by the legislature and the constitution-writers. They decided that religion and conscience get special protection. And at least in Illinois, there was no one who commented on the rule seeking a right to refuse any of the types of drugs you mention, nor has the government ever received even a single complaint about a refusal to sell any other drug–everything was about emergency contraception. So for what it is worth, there was no indication here of anyone trying to make the types of refusals you describe. And again, the pharmacists in this case are decent and kind people–they have each been practicing for more than 25 years and have never been accused of humiliating anyone, even though they occasionally cannot give a customer exactly what she wants. In fact, despite the fact that they have both refused prescriptions for emergency contraception, no one has ever complained about them at all.
I felt like in 4a, Mark responded with what is essentially the “free to refuse to serve african americans” excuse.. i.e. they could be courteously told to shove it… I felt this was a direct attempt to excuse such behavior, so I came back strongly and clarified my postion.
Now sadly his 4b response was being a bit dishonest intellectually, in that as a lawyer he does know that precedent would be set on the right of pharmacists to refuse to give out certain medications if doing so conflicted with their beliefs. My point was clear that being turned down would be humiliating, no matter how kind and respectful the pharmacist was in the refusal.
Well? What Now
To me the idea that a Pharmacist would not do their job because it conflicted with their beliefs is ludicrous, they were well aware of the requirements of their job, primarily the requirement to dispense medication without prejudice. I fully expect the supreme court of illinois to uphold the statute requiring all pharmacies to provide emergency contraception.
However I will be keeping an eye on this case and similar ones to protect the rights of all who need their prescriptions to be filled without prejudice.
There’s a new group out there, called Live Action, who’s sole purpose for being is to take down one of the finest american institutions, Planned Parenthood.
There is a meme heading round the right wing press that Planned Parenthood is only interested in abortions, and do not offer much else. One very important service they do offer is mammograms, and other women’s health services. Live action claimed to have called up 30 planned parenthood clinics and asked if they offer mammograms, all apparently said no.
I decided to check with Planned Parenthood, and searched for the ones near to Live Action’s office in San Jose.
View Planned Parenthood near Life Action in a larger map
In this map view,
- Blossom Hill (a) does offer Mammograms, and Abortions
- Mar Monte (b) does offer Mammograms and does not offer Abortions
- Eastside (c) does offer Mammograms and Abortions
- San Jose (d) does offer Mammograms and Abortions
So even in the same town as Live Action all within a local phone call all offer mammograms and not all offer abortions.
For a wider view, of the 20 planned parenthoods within 55 miles of Live Action’s offices, 4 do not do abortions. ALL do mammograms and other women’s health services. They also provide these vital services to the communities they are in.
- Birth Control Services
- Emergency Contraception
- HIV Testing
- HPV & Hepatitis Vaccines
- LGBT Services
- Men’s Health Services
- Patient Education
- Pregnancy Testing, Options & Services
- STD Testing & Treatment
7 of the clinics also operate as general health clinics.
This dishonest and fabricated attack on Planned Parenthood is nothing but a disgusting attack on Planned Parenthood, which I am proud to support, politically, ethically, and financially. This is an attack on poor and disadvantaged people and those brave and noble people who support them.
Live Action’s entire purpose is just to spread lies about Planned Parenthood.
This post was inspired by the fantastic video from Warren. Which is kind of meta in a strange way, as I believe his video was inspired by the story about Bioware which ran here.
I’ve been thinking about privilege, what it is, and some of the reasons why it exists.
One definition, although I haven’t managed to encapsulate it neatly in a cool quote or soundbite, is that privilege is when the world just works for you, and you don’t have to think about it.
If I want to get up and go for a shower, I don’t have to worry about how I will get there, how I will get in, if I am in danger of slipping, or if I will have enough energy to complete the task. This is currently able bodied privilege. Also, if I look at myself naked in a mirror, I don’t experience a jarring disconnect between what my brain says my gender is and what my eyes say my physical sex is. This is cis privilege.
Once I have had the shower (I have the privilege of having enough money that I don’t have to ration the shower due to worries about the gas/electric running out) I can get dressed. I don’t have to worry about struggling to put clothes on, and I have a nice selection of clean, good-quality items to choose from.
So much privilege, so many things that I don’t have to think about. If I want to go to the shops I can just grab my handbag and go. So many things I don’t need to think about. I don’t need to plan my route around obstacles, or worry that my energy or pain levels will stop me before I get to the shops and back, or check that I have the required medication or assistive aids with me.
I don’t need to worry that random police officers will stop and search me based on my skin colour or how I look. I don’t have to worry that people will stare, or point, or make comments due to my gender presentation, or my assistive device, or my visible scars, or any other physical aspect of my appearance.
When I get to the shops I am able to read and understand the signs, and add up prices in my head to check that it falls within my budget. I do not have to worry about struggling with basic literacy and numeracy due to an overworked school system. Nor do I have to worry about struggling to understand the language of a foreign country that I have been forced to flee to due to violence and persecution in my own country. If the person at the checkout chats to me as he or she scans my shopping I can chat back, without hearing problems, language barriers, social anxiety or struggling to understand how this works getting in the way.
The point I’m trying to make is that privilege is about all the things you don’t have to think about, unless you choose to. I’ve probably missed out many types of privilege in the example above, for which I can only apologise.
But what causes privilege to occur? And how can we change the world to lessen and eventually remove the gaps between privileged and oppressed, to topple the kyriarchy?
For those of you who don’t know about this story, Crystal Dixon was an Associate VP of Human resources at the University of Toledo. After reading an article talking about Gay Rights and the similarities with the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s she wrote a response piece.
In summary she attacked the existence of LGBTQIA people because some get brainwashed by the Exodus and PFOX scams. Then she referenced bad economic data to claim that LGBTQIA who have degrees are paid better than black men who don’t have degrees. Finally she said that benefits were the same for all at the university, ignoring the partner benefits not being given to LGBTQIA spouses.
As a result of this article, her position at the University for obvious reasons became untenable. How is an LGBTQIA employee meant to approach the HR department when her beliefs are part of the guiding principles. I can imagine the conversation.
Employee – “I’m being harassed by my christian colleague because I’m gay and saying I should repent”
Crystal – “Well all they are trying to do is show you that you should cure yourself of your homosexuality by accepting jesus into my life”
Now yes that is an extreme example but that is the tone she has set by writing the article and linking it to herself at the university. She may not have written it in her professional capacity as a HR executive, she still wrote the article under her own name came back to the university.
The first corporate official I came out to, was the Head of HR at the company I worked at, and it was one of the most scary experiences of my life, even though I had an expectation of equal protection according to corporate guidelines. Had he been of the Crystal Dixon persuasion, it could have been devastating to me.
If a white supremacist has espoused similar views on racial equality as she did on LGBTQIA-equality while being an HR director of the university, then said bigot would have been fired. The university was forced by her actions to fire her for actions that brought the university itself into disrepute.
The City of Jackson and Jackson county in Michigan have hired her as their HR director. I use this phrasing with all the loaded intent it caries, may god help any LGBTQIA person working for the city or county of Jackson.