‘Curing’ LGBT people? There’s an app for that.

Apple have in the past supported LGBT rights. In fact they donated to the Prop 8 cause in favour of equality. However, all may not be as it seems just from that one act.

Following the removal of an application by the Manhattan Declaration a few months ago which said quite clearly that same sex couples are ‘sexually immoral’, originally given a 4+ rating by Apple implying it to be entirely family friendly with no objectionable content… an app that was only removed following a campaign and petition against it… Apple have done it again.

Yes, our ‘good friends’ at Exodus International have introduced an application to an app store near you, intended to deliver a dangerous message to tech savvy young adults: ‘You can be “freed from homosexuality” and have your sexual orientation “cured” if you’re LGBT.’ Yes, this is the same Exodus International that promotes the universally condemned snake oil of “ex-gay therapy”, which has been described as causing catastrophic damage to the mental health of it’s victims by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association.

Worse yet, Apple have, again, given this app a 4+ rating, once more branding the app as entirely inoffensive and harmless, even though the group tells gay kids that their sexual orientation is “immoral,” “satanic”, and in need of a cure, which we all know to be the very kind of insulting and frankly degrading and oppressive bigotry that  contributes to depression, anxiety, isolation, and even suicide.

There is a petition to remove the app from Apple’s app store, though at this point, we have to consider motives here. Yes, they donated against Prop 8, but while a significant amount of money, $100,000 dollars is really a drop in the ocean to Apple – hell, they’re getting good PR just because I’m mentioning it now. On the other hand, not only do Apple make a big deal of banning any app from their store that could possibly be objectionable to anyone in the majority of their userbase, they seem to not only have allowed these bigoted anti-gay applications, but also rated them as being entirely inoffensive, and only removed the last one due to the petition and widespread outcry over it. This one looks likely to follow suit (unless of course Apple really wants to be seen to be anti-LGBT). The fact is, Apple is a company founded on it’s image… it’s why it has the rules it has. Someone at Apple clearly feels that declaring these apps as inoffensive and even allowing them in the first place is not only acceptable, but perfectly OK with the company image.

The choice between Android, Research In Motion and Apple just got political. No… further than that, it just got moral. This, from Apple, is not acceptable, and if LGBT people do not show them how such actions will hurt, in the app store sales, the phone store sales, the music store sales… etc … who will?

Please sign the petition, and please consider sending your own message to Apple… but please don’t ignore what you’re paying to support in buying into it at the moment.

Corrective rape in South Africa – Petition by Change.org

There are an order of terrible crimes, and to many including myself rape is a far more horrific crime than murder. However there is a class of rape that is even more horrific and that is corrective rape, a crime that believes that rape can benefit someone in a female body, either of lesbian or transgender identification.

While it is not a matter of state policy in the US or the UK, it is often condoned and supported by governments such as those in Uganda.
Note, it is not the official state policy of Uganda, however it happens frequently at the hands of the police, and is rarely prosecuted when it happens at the hands of the church and the community

In South Africa, it is still at epidemic proportions, and still the South African government has yet to implement any hate crimes legislation.

Here is a petition being run by Change.org, to insist that the Justice ministry acts to correct this horrific situation.

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »

This is not an exclusively South African problem, and occurs whenever society doesn’t like the fact that a female bodied person is true to themselves.

Story via Change.org

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*

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!

Health and Human Services makes an incremental change for the better..

One of the key rights denied to LGBTQA partners is the implicit right to visit one’s partner if they are in hospital.

If you are dealing with a hospital run by a bigot, or perhaps under the instruction of a conservative religious group… if you are lucky you may have the same rights as a stranger, but effectively you are treated as a non-entity.

Thankfully now if your hospital receives Medicaid or Medicare dollars, from the federal government, they will have to give you the same respect as any other partner.

Its a tiny step but a good move on the part of the US government to stand up for one more piece of equality.