India Willoughby, transvestites deserve protection too

 

Hi India,

How are you? Years ago we used to frequent the same forum site so even though we’ve never met, I view you with the same fondness I feel for an old friend. Things have turned out great for you after coming out, you’re making a real positive change in peoples lives and I’m so happy for you. I’ll even admit to being a secret Loose Women watcher! I read your article in Pink News with a little sadness, not only because I disagree but also after reading your twitter feed, nobody deserves that kind of knee jerk reaction.

It’s all too easy at the moment for someone to claim transgender rights who isn’t actually transgender. And it’s making life dangerous. Soon, someone is going to get seriously hurt … Unless you are transitioning, stay out of the ladies. Pulling on a frock as and when the mood takes doesn’t cut it. You don’t have a God-given right to go into female-only spaces. … Transgender has become a horrible, vague word that makes no distinction between someone with a medical condition requiring intervention, and a bloke who likes to frock-up once a week.

I disagree here on a few points, first is that the word ‘transgender’ has always been a catch all term for many identities, it means different things to different people. It’s meaning isn’t and never has been used to describe only people who transition. Identities shift over time and to me, the word ‘transgender’ reflects that.

Before transition, when everybody thought I was a man, I had a big secret. I was so ashamed of this secret that at 25 I had never shared it with a single person I knew. I was a transvestite. I went to work on a building site during the day and in the evenings, pulled on a charity shop frock to relax. I didn’t know much about being trans but the adverts in the back on The Sunday People told me I was a dirty transvestite, something to be ashamed of.

I came out first to my then partner and some close friends as a transvestite and as I grew in confidence we would go to clubs and events on occasion. Each and every time would be a nerve wracking experience though, as I still carried the shame society put on me. The word ‘transphobia’ was still unknown to me but I was deathly afraid of being confronted by someone who read me. I still needed to use the bathroom and was faced with a transvestite dilemma; use the ladies or the mens. Presenting as female in the mens? I’d rather wet myself and accidentally on purpose spill a pint over my lap.

The often drunk men at their urinals scared the life out of me. They didn’t care whether I was a transvestite or a transsexual from outer space. So I stayed out of danger and used the ladies. You know what transvestites do when they use the loo? They pee, wash their hands, maybe fix their makeup and leave.

After coming out I discovered trans forum sites and for the first time in my life read about the experiences of other people like me. There were people who sat on almost every piece of the identity spectrum, from teenage transitioners seeking heartfelt advice through to cis men who just had a fetish and were role playing. My identity shifted in this period of self discovery too, first calling myself a TGirl, then transsexual and finally, I say I’m  a trans woman now.

The problem with saying ‘unless you’re transitioning, stay out of the ladies’ is that it puts people in danger, you talk of this being dangerous and that somebody is going to get hurt yet completely miss the danger that gender variant people will be put in by enforcing that rule. An attacker doesn’t care how someone identifies, there’s no get out of jail free cards dresses masculine 9-5. I was a muscled up builder by day but that meant nothing when a guy ripped my wig off and threw it across the dancefloor.

You ask what transvestites are risking by being themselves? Equality laws do not cover cross dressers who have no desire to transition. I have read the experiences of people who have lost their career because they were outed as a weekend dresser. Without the protection of the Equality Act I would say they risk more than us. Todays cross dressers, transvestites and TGirls might also be tomorrow’s trans women.

Like it or not, the trans umbrella covers all gender variant people and we as a community are only as strong as our weakest link. From the school age boy playing with a Barbie through weekend cross dressers, all the way to trans women, there are harmful stereotypes to be challenged and people who deserve equal protections.

I just think that we should be more inclusive, rather than dividing into smaller factions.

 

Sarah.

 

 

Trans women aren’t real

Of course trans people aren’t real! When you think about it, nothing is real. The images your brain sees are just countless photons reflected from the person you’re looking at, beamed from the sun, millions of miles away. There is a difference between something real and something existing, I can think real thoughts about unicorns dancing on a rainbow but unfortunately, that thought will never exist.

When for instance, people like Dame Jenni Murray says that “hormones and surgery don’t make trans women real women” they are trying to twist the argument from the outset. Trans women are real because I’m sat here writing this and I’m a trans woman. People like Jenni Murray are actually trying to say that trans women don’t exist. 

She’s trying to claim ownership over the concept of what makes a woman, how womanhood is defined. People who say that trans women aren’t ‘real’ women are projecting their own ideas based on their own experiences onto a large group of people who have their own subjective idea on the concept of being a man or a woman.

So what makes a person a man or a woman? Biology isn’t a yes/no thing and without getting into how varied hormones, chromosomes and primary sex characteristics are in the billions of humans, it’s fair to say the argument isn’t simple.

Being raised or socialised as a girl or boy is such a subjective thing too, different cultures around the world place all kinds of expectations on all genders. There are exceptions to every self imposed rule that mankind has invented to being male or female.

The reality is that the idea of what makes a real woman just doesn’t exist. It’s a unicorn dancing on a rainbow, an idea in someone’s head.

It’s kind of sad when someone says that trans women aren’t real because all they’re doing is desperately advertising their hatred in the hope that others will join in. On this occasion it’s Dame Jenni, last week it was someone else, their ideas about what makes a woman real are different to mine, yours and to every other woman and man on the planet. Trans women exist and it’s completely irresponsible to suggest that because another woman doesn’t live up to your ideas of womanhood she isn’t a real woman. It is up to each individual to decide, stop forcing your ideas on other people!

It’s almost exactly the same arguments used against gay people. In 2017 we shouldn’t have to waste energy pointing out how harmful these arguments are. I despair, I really do. 

Trans kids, who knows best, BBC or child abusers?

 

Last week on BBC Two a documentary ran called Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? On the surface it sounded objective enough until I read the description on the BBC’s website:

“where one of the world’s leading experts in childhood gender dysphoria (the condition where children are unhappy with their biological sex) lost his job for challenging the new orthodoxy that children know best.”

The main focus of the documentary was Doctor Kenneth Zucker who was fired from Canada’s gender identity clinic after a highly critical independant review of his treatments. He’s also known within trans circles for his involvement with classifying trans people as having a mental disorder in the the standard classification of mental disorders (DSM-V) used by mental health professionals.

Zucker was fired because he practiced so called conversion therapy on transgender kids. I don’t need to go into how detrimental conversion therapy can be to vulnerable young people, the debate has long been settled by adults who have been through these awful experiences when they were young.

There were complaints too from some patients about the use of one-way mirrors, having their pictures taken without permission and too many questions about their sexual preference. One patient reported being called “a hair vermin” by Dr. Zucker when he stripped to the waist on request. A nine-year-old patient [was] asked about what made him sexually excited during his first meeting with a clinician in the initial assessment.

Reparative or conversion therapy is abuse. Doing that to a child is child abuse. Doctor Kenneth J. Zucker is a child abuser.

The documentary was a transphobic and hamfisted attempt to play the devils advocate, Lies and mistruths were abundant, such as the ‘80% of gender variant children just get over it’ lie, debunked here. It wasn’t until almost at the end of the documentary that it was pointed out that no children are ever given hormones until they are 16 and the surgery age limit is 18, which went against what was heavily implied throughout the whole documentary.

The filmmakers carted out some transphobic parents in an effort to make their point despite the independent review of Zuckers practices found that the concerns of parents about their children’s gender identity were often put ahead of what the best medical decision for the child might be. This is especially an issue for children who are gender-variant, as some parents might harbour transphobic views. The consequences of these decisions could be severe. The report details one instance when an older teenager was not referred for gender-affirming hormones because their parent disapproved. Of eight former GIC clients in the review that had very positive feedback about their experiences with the clinic, seven of them were the parents of patients — only one was a former patient.

A lot of people have complained to the BBC about the documentary and this is their response:

The response is quite insulting when you think about it, the “significant contributions from his critics” consisted of one trans man and less than 5 minutes screen time from actual gender identity specialist doctors. This is the kind of shameful concern trolling that gay people endured during the 80’s and 90’s, would a documentary featuring a doctor claiming to be able to cure gay children straight be given the same treatment?

There is a reason that transgender people are a protected characteristic under the Equality Law, right alongside other things that people have no control over, like sexuality, race and disabilities. The BBC would never show a documentary that featured a doctor who tells blind people that they just need to try harder at being cured without some serious scrutiny and explanation as to why they are delusional.

There are now volumes of scientific studies which show the benefit of supporting gender variant children to live how they want to live and express their gender in whatever way feels right to them. This is not a debate. Nobody is forcing transition on children and most importantly, there is no doctor allowing young people to take medication before they are 100% clear, consistent and insistent that they are gender variant and they are old enough to make those decisions.

By airing such an uncritical documentary which painted a child abuser as a maverick, forced out by “transgender activists” (no joke, Zucker actually claimed this) it is patently clear that someone high up at the BBC either supports or endorses his view that transgender kids don’t know best and can just be cured of their dirty transsexualism.

A dark day for the BBC.

 

 

 

 

Trans Pride Brighton – A Retrospective

TransPrideBrighton

Trans Pride Brighton

Another year has passed and once again I’m sat in my living room, wearing pyjamas in the afternoon and welling up with pride thinking of all that happened over the last few days. Every year in the stressful few weeks before Trans Pride I mutter to myself that I’m never doing this again but in the days following each year, I’m reminded why we all work so hard to give our communities this one weekend to celebrate who we are and I cannot imagine life without it.

When some people on social media talk about Trans Pride Brighton they often mention Fox and me but seem unaware of the monumental effort put in by all the other committee members so I just want to take a moment to give some deserved credit to these people. We all volunteer our time through the year, this adds up to hundreds of hours of commitment and lost sleep.

In no particular order; our project manager, Phoenix Thomas who has motivated me more than anyone before, stepping down this year to concentrate on bigger and better things. We wish you well, Phoenix, without you Trans Pride Brighton wouldn’t be where it is today. Thank you.

Stephanie Scott, who works tirelessly with the local trans communities isn’t given enough credit either, they have been with Trans Pride since the very beginning and has steered the committee through tough times and good. Thank you.

Vern Collins is our Chief Volunteer Wrangler which is another thankless task, this year was especially difficult with volunteers going AWOL but Vern rose above the stress and handled it wonderfully. Thank you.

Angela Green is new this year but she has settled in quickly helping to arrange the acts on stage and the gig on Saturday evening, her help with putting out the last minute fires made sure that Trans Pride was a storming success. Thank you.

Darren O’Donoghue managed the stage for the second year, his organisation and people skills made sure that the afternoon ran smoothly and I hope we can use more of your skills over the winter. Thank you.

Kai Moore is another new member who has proved themselves invaluable this year, Maeve Devine with her Allsorts hat on helped with making Trans Pride family friendly, Christina Niewiadowski brought great energy to the committee, Roni Guetta and Giorgia Dainese organised the amazing Traumfrau afterparty, Sharon Kilgannon, Christina Bentley and Kate Adair taking photos and film to document the now historic Trans Pride. Thank you.

To those who I’ve missed out, I’m sorry, my brain is still all melted and forgetful. Thank you too. The support we’ve received makes it worthwhile, when we started out I remember us deciding that the first Trans Pride Brighton would be a success if 300 people turned up and now we have an attendance well into the thousands.

With Trans Pride growing so fast comes another set of problems though, how do we keep our ethics without selling out? The vultures are beginning to circle. This year we had some people turn up from North Wales to sell a trolley full of rainbow flags and typical Pride tat, they turned up and asked to be allowed on site, promptly misgendered two committee members and said it was OK because they had a gay son. Just one example of how we must guard ourselves from being exploited.

I saw a poster with the phrase “Nothing About Us Without Us” and I think that sums up the whole committees feelings well. One of our policies is to make sure that any community group we work with has a provable history of directly helping trans people, we will not allow ourselves to be exploited by someone who wants to make themselves look good but can’t back that up with actions, or by those who want to make a quick profit from trans people without feeding it back into our communities.

The committee have always wanted Trans Pride to be able to pay back into the community, from simple things like being able to help with the volunteers lunch and travel costs to bigger projects which make the every day lives of trans people better. More than just one weekend in July. To do this we must solve the funding issue, the donations from our communities haven’t increased at the same rate as the attendance numbers but because trans communities are so marginalised we are way more likely to be poor. We must explore other methods of fundraising, awards and grants in the future to keep our event a grassroots, community effort.

The vision set out for Trans Pride has always been to be different from other Pride events around the country, for us to never become commercialised, sponsored by some corporation with dubious ethics and a spotty trans awareness record. We must protect our communities from being exploited and also keep up with the continued growth of our amazing event.

The future for Trans Pride Brighton is looking rosy, we are so thankful for the outpouring of support from trans people and their allies. We will continue to improve whilst keeping in mind that phrase, ‘nothing about us without us‘.

 

Five Things I’ve Learnt In Five Years Of Transitioning

This week marks the fifth anniversary since arriving in England, taking a leap into the unknown and burning all my man clothes, my tranniversary, as I like to call it. It’s been a crazy five years but the five before that were pretty crazy too, I’ve never had a normal life and I kinda like it that way. I’ve heard people use the phrase ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to describe a few of the things I’ve been involved in since transition, My Transsexual Summer, the book, Trans Pride Brighton, etc. But I’ve always believed that people are offered these opportunities surprisingly often and that taking a chance isn’t the same as taking a risk.

So without further adoo, and if you’ll excuse the odd cliche, here’s the five biggest lessons from the last five years.

  • Transitioning is the best thing I’ve ever done. 

I know this might be stating the obvious but we talk about the negatives so often, it’s easy to forget just how awesome living true to yourself is. I’ve heard it said that if you think you’re trans, you probably are and I think that’s true, transitioning was the last unanswered question in my life and facing that head on has allowed me to actually see a future for myself. I wake up and I don’t hate everything, I look in the mirror and I’m starting to really like myself, transitioning is literally the best thing ever.

  • You don’t have to kill him

The biggest thing that held me back from transitioning was thinking I’d have to stop doing certain things I loved, Formula 1 and bacon on a Sunday morning, getting muddy and climbing trees… I’ve learnt how important it is to make peace with the person I was before transition, I can’t deny that person ever existed just as much as I can’t deny my excitement over this Sundays British Grand Prix.

  • Cis people are patronising as hell

“Aww, I just wanna tell you how brave I think you are, y’know, being a transsexual…” Shut up, I think you’re brave by showing me how you really feel about me. I imagine that people with visible disabilities can relate to this, a pitiful pat on the head, a ‘you could never be as normal as I am but well done for trying.’ It usually comes from cis people who actively support the trans cause so instead of challenging it, I just grumble under my breath and pretend it didn’t happen.

  • Social transition blew my mind

People who think that trans people or transitioning is all about genitals are idiots. I lived for 18 months without any kind of medical intervention but my identity was fully accepted by everyone I met. It’s easy to focus on hormones, surgeries and the nitty gritty of transition but the realisation that my dysphoria was more about how other people perceived my gender changed everything.

 

  • Never hold back

Back to these once in a lifetime opportunities. The first morning after arriving in the UK I woke up in Swansea and within half an hour I was sitting in front of a TV camera answering questions about my identity that I hadn’t even begun to think about. I am not a morning person and as I awkwardly tried to answer these strangers who had camped out in my bedroom it occurred to me that if I was gonna do this transition thing, if I was gonna do this documentary thing, I had to let go of my own issues. I knew that I would make mistakes, that I would look back in the future and wish I could have done some things differently but I had to throw myself into this experience and hope for the best. I’m so glad I did.

 

My Drunk Miss Transgender UK BBC Three Review

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The show opens with a shot of woman’s naked body, covered by just a sparkly thong and nipple pasties followed by a plinky-plonky woe is me speech from someone who isn’t feeling confident. How original. Trans women are sex objects and we hate ourselves. It’s 15 seconds into this documentary and because of the rules of Transgender-On-TV-Trope Bingo, (snappy title, huh?) I have to down a shot of vodka and two fingers of Czech beer. (See below if you wanna play along too)

Next up, there’s a shot of a trans woman doing her makeup. I check the bingo card, a shot of whiskey it is then. The next shot is literally trans women fighting, I pick the “wildcard” in the centre and down more whiskey as the melodramatic voiceover lady says

“But they’re not just fighting for first place, they’re battling to be accepted for the women they were born to be.” For fucks sake, I’ve gotta down a whole glass of beer now! I’m sick a little in my mouth but it’s ok, I swallowed it! Nobody need ever know! Hic.

The plinky plonky music has carried on for more than 5 minutes, which means more vodka. It doesn’t go down very well and I feel my stomach contracting and I fight with all my might not to make a mess of the rug in my living room.

Nine minutes in and the trans women are sex workers trope comes up and I begin to seriously question my life choices. Whiskey again. Courtney is a recovering addict and wants to raise awareness about how trans women can get trapped in the sex industry. I fucking love her, fuck yes! Ok, still a trope, but power to you, girl! On another note, my tummy has made an executive decision to not have any more alcohol for at least the next ten minutes, we’re 8 minutes in and at this rate, I’ll either run out of alcohol or die from alcohol poisoning. And I’m not even being dramatic.

I’ve had to pause the video because I can’t type and watch TV at the same time, I’m kinda squinting with one eye, focusing on typing this, thank His Noodly Appendages for squiggly red line spell checker!

I throw one of my cats stuffed mice at the TV as Jai is misgendered, made out to be an attention seeker and called a tra**y to her face by her ex boyfriend, I swear loud enough for Bruce (my cat) to jump awake and bang his head on the heater. We’re 16 minutes in and I well up for Jai.

The next scene jolts me to my senses, the regional heats. Another itsy-bitsy bikini-clad body dances up and down a stage in front of a panel of judges, I wonder if they marked the girl down because she was wearing a bra and not nipple pasties? What rules do these masters of the trans universe judges have? I bet it’s like ‘theme tune must be sexy plinky plonky music’ or bonus points for sexy air humping. Also, the venue they’re holding it in looks tacky as fuck.

It’s at this point I very nearly noped the fuck out but decide to bravely press on. It’s a shitty job but someone’s gotta do it. Half an hour in and we have Kellie Maloney on t’BBC going on about how this transgender beauty pageant isn’t just about looks. Err, do you think I’m fucking stupid or something, love? We’re thirty minutes in and we’ve already seen more naked, writhing flesh than the average teenage boys weekly porn consumption!

Courtney is also on live TV and brings up how some young trans girls are sucked into sex work, she says not enough is done to help these women. She’s fucking wonderful. When news of this reaches the pageant there is uproar! Crikey! There are candid cam shots of people slut shaming her. WTF. Real life facts are that some trans people are reluctantly trapped in sex work and that is hell for them, I’m not saying that’s true for all trans sex workers but we need to acknowledge this problem for some.

I’m not even going to get into the fight scene. WTAF… Courtney is talking about how she hoped to use the prize money to escape sex work. We’re literally watching the exploitation of trans women on national fucking television. ‘As long as you’re a beautiful enough, trans enough, privileged enough woman, we’ll use your desperation to sell an entertainment show to the BBC!’

It’s not just manipulation of sex workers though, the organisers are offering a grand prize of a vagina! Yes you read that right, the winner of this competition will get free lower surgery with some unheard of quack doctor in India! I heard the perfect analogy a few weeks back, imagine if there was a Miss Cancer UK and the prettiest cancer patient gets free private chemo? Why the fuck is this shit on my telly? What has gone wrong at BBC Three where they think that this is an acceptable piece of television? I can imagine the conversation in the BBC director general’s office, ‘here’s a lovely big carrot you nasty little trans women, now dance motherfuckers, dance!’

These women are being exploited. This show is being dressed up as sympathetic to trans women but it is thinly veiled transphobia. The BBC have endorsed this.

I wanted this blog to be about a happy, tipsy, piss taking type thing but it’s just made me angry. There’s this big ‘you’re not trans enough’ argument that breaks out at the end and I can’t even be arsed writing about how stupid that is.

I wrote this not to attack the people who took part in this show, telling your stories on television is a courageous thing to do and I admire you for it, pageants aren’t my thing but fair play.

I wrote this to point out how stupid the very idea of having a panel of judges giving trans women marks out of ten on how womanly or sexy she is. You can blab on however much you like about wanting to raise awareness and shit but when you have nearly naked trans women parading around for a baying crowd in the hopes of being publicly acknowledged as trans enough to win surgery, your argument means jack shit. The sponsors, organisers and the BBC literally have manipulated vulnerable trans women into brawling on TV, fighting for surgery.

I have to go now, I’m drunk as fuck and I think this time I’m actually going to throw up.

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Here’s my bingo card, please excuse the shittyness of my computer skills and the fact that I forgot to put the drinking rules in. I made those up and now I’m wasted. I love lamp.

The Trans Tax, why I refuse to beg for equality.

I had such optimism for trans equality until recently, I really believed we were getting somewhere. Rebecca Root was awesome in BBC Two’s Boy Meets Girl, there was a positive sounding Government Inquiry into trans rights, over 30,000 people signed a petition asking the government to allow gender variant people to self define their gender. Things were looking peachy.

Today I sat on the beach and wept. I wept for Tara Hudson, currently being subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment by the Ministry of Justice inside a male only prison, partly because she doesn’t own a Gender Recognition Certificate. I wept for the way people like me have been misrepresented by Channel 4 and yet again derided as freaks on national television. I wept because the Government pooh-poohed the petition slap bang in the middle of an inquiry into how to improve protections for trans people.

A lot of this strife has been caused by a magical piece of paper called the Gender Recognition Certificate. An employer can’t ask to see it, the police can’t ask to see it, local councils can’t ask to see it, but without this piece of paper a trans person does not qualify for certain protections under law.

I have huge issues with the GRC. To qualify for it and the protections it gives means I have to prove that I have lived as a woman for three years, I must get letters from doctors and I have to pay £140. Once I have gathered all this evidence, I have to send it off to something called a Gender Recognition Panel which is made up of some “medical and legal members.” The law doesn’t actually state any qualifications for these members but I guarantee you one hundred percent that they aren’t trans.

I refuse to prostrate myself in front of a panel of cisgender overlords and beg for my human rights. People like me are oppressed from every single angle at one point or another and I will not submit the validity of my gender to the judgement of a bunch of strangers. I have had enough.

So many of my friends have spoken about the difficulties of getting their GRC’s, the submitted evidence is often returned with a letter full of legal jargon pointing out where they didn’t meet the standard to be accepted as themselves. Two or three times they repeat the process, their whole being on tenterhooks, waiting to be given the privilege of being told it’s ok to be able to get on with their lives.

I have friends who have been sofa surfing or homeless at one point in the last three years, they have been unemployed due to discrimination against their gender identity. Their evidence to the panel will likely be rejected. And until they get a job and somewhere permanent to live, applying for a GRC is impossible anyway, that’s before we even get into trying to find the £140 it costs and how the complicated forms disadvantage people who find it difficult to communicate.

Being forced to pay money for something which gives you protections under law is a tax. It’s a tax on trans people for being born different.

If you’d have asked me a few weeks ago what I thought of this Trans Inquiry I would have waxed lyrical about a trans tipping point, fairies and unicorns. Now there is nothing but a grey, glooming storm cloud.

The one piece of hope I cling to is seeing the outpouring of support for Tara Hudson, the trans community has found it’s voice and we are united in trying everything to help her. Never give up.

Why no platforming Germaine Greer is a mistake

Two decades ago I was caught in the grip of a cult indoctrination, from birth I had been force fed information which lead me to believe that the whole world was against me. Three times a week I was taken to church services which drummed these lies into my head, complete with group chanting, fear mongering about the imminent coming of Armageddon which would bring about the death of billions of non believers and public reproof announcements about anybody who had transgressed their authoritarian moral codes.

Being the child of a man who was desperate to join the ranks of the higher-ups in the cult It didn’t take much to piss off the Elders, by the age of thirteen I had already lost count of the number of times I had been called in for ‘Biblical Council’. It didn’t take much, pointing out the logical fallacies of dinosaurs, Darwin and carbon dating to a young earth creationist was never going to go down well. Asking why the founder of the cult based his failed prophecies on pyramidology was a sure-fire way to end up sitting in a cold back room with two greying men in polyester suits for two hours.

The simplest definition of a cult I’ve ever read is this: A person is free to leave a religion but when they leave a cult, sanctions are imposed upon them. My early memories of life have a menacing storm cloud hanging over me, if I didn’t show enough belief, enough repentance, enough obedience, my family, friends and virtually everybody I had ever known would shun me. The people who helped raise me from a baby would cut me out of their collective lives and treat me as if I were dead.

 

The mantras those men made me repeat are still burned into my psyche; “bad associations spoil useful habits” (1 Cor. 15:33) AKA don’t hang out with non cult members. “The heavens and the earth are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.” (2 Peter 3:7) AKA everyone not in the cult is going to die.

Slowly but surely the orwellian inculcation took over. I worked out that if I didn’t question what the leaders said, if I just kept my mouth shut, I would stay out of that cold back room, my life would be easier and people would just leave me alone to my apostate thoughts.

This was my childhood, almost half my life. No questioning. No discussion. No dissent. Toe the party line or we will take away everything that is important to you.

Nowadays things are different, I have learned to question everything and everybody, time has taught me that to get a full understanding of any subject I must listen to all sides of a story. When I freed myself from that horrible cult I read books by Anton LaVey and Erich Von Daniken, I read about Reptilians, Orthodox Judaism, ghosts and Scientology. Nothing was off the table and brick by brick I rebuilt my life from the foundations up but this time it was with the benefit of being able to see the full picture.

What does this all have to do with no platforming, I hear you ask? I have to declare my passionate opposition to this practice, banning somebody who’s opinions you disagree with can never end well, I know this from bitter experience.

I haven’t made it to university yet, when I was leaving school I genuinely believed the world was about to end very soon so I found another path through life but from what I can tell, universities are supposed to be the place where opposing opinions are heard, people are taught critical thinking and how to form arguments for and against subjects. To be fully informed about any subject, a person must listen to all sides and make up their own mind. No platforming just polarises the debate further.

Germaine Greer is a transphobic idiot. Her anti trans diatribe is disgusting and she deserves ridicule as a dinosaur from the feminist dark ages, somebody who is so stuck in her hateful ways she really is comparable to a Kool-Aid drinking cult leader. Debate her, show how science has proven her wrong, write a book taking down her vicious transphobic opinions. Laugh at her, Photoshop her face onto a giant turd, print it onto a t-shirt and go take a selfie with her. Just stop with this no platforming malarkey because once the precedent is set things will only end badly.

Government Insult – Trans Activists Respond

In my last post I wrote a response to the governments insult of a response to the allow trans people to self define petition started by Ashley Reed. Trans activists have now responded to the response in a much less angry way than I did, with some thought and reason and are sending an open letter to the Ministry of Justice and Maria Miller, the chair of the Trans Inquiry being heard right now. (There’s a lot of responses here, seems like it’s the governments standard way to delay or dismiss things)

It’s really easy say “what’s the point” to all this official government bullshit, and partly, I agree. But this time is different, this time there is an opportunity to shame the government into action which will really help trans people. This #TransInquiry is the chance we have to make sure the government can’t deny the massive inequalities facing people like us today. This is our time, these are our streets and these are our fucking human rights they are dismissing like we’re dog shit on their shoe. Don’t let them get away with this.

 

Jane Fae has written the letter, with input from a number of others, I’ll paste it here, please feel free to share it wherever you feel is relevant. Tell your friends, tell the government, this trans inquiry will be the last for a long time, we have to act now.

An open letter to Rt Hon Maria Miller, MP

Chair of House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee

 

 

Dear Mrs Miller,

Like many in the transgender community we were delighted to learn of the decision by the Women and Equalities Select Committee to look in some detail at issues affecting trans people in the UK.

Different departments, different Ministers have, over the years, looked at specific aspects of the challenges affecting trans people attempting to cope with a society whose ideas on gender are generally fixed and hostile to the idea that an individual may wish to “change” gender, or alternatively consider themselves to be without gender. None, however, have carried out the comprehensive and far-reaching review that your committee has proposed, and for that alone your initiative is to be praised.

We were therefore greatly disappointed to learn that, in the week that your committee began to take evidence from experts in the trans communities and beyond on the nature of issues that affect us, the Ministry of Justice has decided to respond to a petition in respect of the Gender Recognition Act in a manner that appears both to limit the scope for your inquiry and to deny the existence of any real problems for trans people.

Their intervention is a response to a petition to parliament launched in July of this year (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104639). This asks that Government allow a greater degree of self-determination to trans persons when it comes to gender: that Government abstain from charging trans people for the right to obtain official documentation in respect of their gender; and that Government recognise the existence of non-binary individuals.

The MoJ response is both complacent and dismissive. Processes, it claims, are in place for a reason, including the fact that “a person’s gender has important legal and social consequences”. It seemingly asserts that people must prove they are acceptable in order to gain gender recognition. Later, though, in respect of non-binary persons, they assert, in apparent contradiction, that they are not aware of this group of people having suffered any “detriment” as a consequence of being non-binary.

It is unclear on what the MoJ base their opinions about non-binary people as (a) census data was deliberately obscured to make it impossible to identify how many non-binary people there are in the UK (plus there was no option to identify as such); and (b) there is no evidence that they have contacted any researcher in the field to acquire evidence to support their claim that no detriment is incurred by being non-binary.

They are highly cavalier about the reasons why many trans people refuse, as a matter of principle, to obtain a gender recognition certificate, and justify the fee for doing so on the grounds that government charges for other services, such as a passport or driving license. In this respect, they fail to acknowledge that such charges are to allow an individual to perform a certain act (travel, drive, etc.), as opposed to permitting them to live as themselves.

They are uninformed about the state of transgender treatment under the NHS, ignoring the evidence that people in senior positions in the NHS presented before your Committee on Tuesday.

We are particularly concerned about both the nature and timing of this intervention. In respect of other initiatives of which we are aware, the Government Equalities Office has argued that these must be delayed, pending the result of your Committee’s Inquiry.

A Minister of State appears to have decided, deliberately, to “jump the gun” on the inquiry process, deciding that they are aware of the state of play on key issues affecting the trans community without benefit of any evidence, and seeking to lay down the law when, clearly, one output from your inquiry might include recommendations that it be reviewed in certain key areas.

As such, it looks like a deliberate attempt to sabotage your inquiry.

We look forward to a response from you.

 

 

Jane Fae (Writer and gender activist)

Helen Belcher (Secretary, Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity)

Jennie Kermode (Chair, Trans Media Watch)

Dr. Meg John Barker (Senior lecturer in psychology, the Open University)

Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon (Psychologist)

Bethany Black  (Actor and Comedian)

Jess Bradley (Action for Trans Health)

Sarah Brown (Former Councillor and Trustee, Encompass Network)

Jessica Coal (Founder, UK Trans Info)

Dominic Davies (Chief Executive Pink Therapy, Consultant Psychotherapist)

Dr Zowie Davy (University of Lincoln)

Alex Drummond (Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist)

Martha Dunkley   (Co-founder TransLondon and Trans liaison, Kaleidoscope Trust)

J Fernandez (Editor, Beyond the Binary)

Roz Kaveney (Former Deputy Chair Liberty)

Natacha Kennedy (Goldsmiths College and University College London)

Sarah Lennox (Childrens’ author)

CN Lester (Founder, Transpose)

Keira McCormack (Project Manager, Gender Essence Support Services)

Professor Surya Monro (Academic)

Anwen Muston (Trans officer, LGBT Labour)

Cllr Zoe O’Connell (Campaigner & Parliamentary Candidate, May 2015)

Claire Parker (Gender Activist & Broadcaster)

Ruth Pearce (Researcher, University of Warwick)

Sarah Savage (Author and Trustee, Trans* Pride Brighton)

Dr Jay Stewart (Founder, Gendered Intelligence)

Reubs Walsh (NUS LGBT Campaign Trans Representative)

 

 

 

 

David Cameron, stop insulting trans people!

I’ve always been conflicted about online petitions as it is often difficult to see the actual, real world effect they have. Grass roots community organising is a good thing in my mind though, so I inevitably end up taking part in the clicktivism so often derided by the more cynical part of my psyche. I was therefore surprised to see a mail in my inbox earlier, a few weeks ago I had signed and promptly forgotten a petition asking that the government allowed trans people to self define their legal gender, and there has been a response from David Cameron and Her Majesties Government!

Here is my response to their response:

Government responded:

The gender recognition process in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was developed as a result of the Government’s commitment to allowing trans people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender.

The GRA is widely accepted as very flawed, even back in 2004. I know you’re running a Parliamentary Inquiry into trans* equality right now and that’s good but until you show something more concrete, I will continue to judge you based on how shockingly badly you have treated gender variant people in the past. Please do more to show your commitment.

The Gender Recognition Process

The general procedural requirements for gaining gender recognition were developed as a result of the Government’s commitment to allowing trans people who have taken decisive steps to live fully and permanently in the acquired gender to gain legal recognition in that gender, by establishing a robust and credible process to determine applications for recognition. The provisions are contained the in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).

A person’s gender has important legal and social consequences. The state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that people who take on a new legal status can establish that they meet certain criteria. The required statements and evidence are limited to what is necessary to establish that an applicant meets the criteria for recognition.

I can understand this, you need to be sure that a person’s intent is not for nefarious means, but these “general procedural requirements” have real and serious consequences, one example is what is known as spousal veto. The process to determine these requirements is fundamentally flawed, a panel of cisgender overlords get to decide if a trans person is allowed to be recognised as an actual person.

There are no requirements for a trans person to apply for legal recognition; it is entirely a personal decision. Many trans people live and work in their acquired gender without feeling it necessary to apply for legal recognition. However, an application for gender recognition should only be made where a person has made a permanent decision to change their gender.

But if you don’t have this magical piece of paper you are not fully protected under the GRA. (2004) Somebody could have lived and worked for 50 years in their true gender, yet because they don’t wish to jump through whatever hoops the government deigns necessary, they will be less equal than everybody else.

The Gender Recognition Panel, a judicial body, determines all applications for gender recognition and an applicant must prove to the satisfaction of the Panel that they meet all the requirements set out in the GRA. The requirements for applicants going via the standard route are that the applicant:

– has or has had gender dysphoria;
– has lived in the acquired gender throughout the two years immediately preceding the date on which the application is made;
– intends to continue to live in the acquired gender until death.

Applicants must also provide medical reports, from:
– a qualified medical professional who works in the field of gender dysphoria giving details of their diagnosis of gender dysphoria; and
– a GP or surgeon, detailing any surgery or treatment that the applicant has undergone to change their sexual characteristics.

In addition, applicants must provide documentary evidence in the form of:
– an original or certified copy of the birth certificate;
– an official change of name document or documents;
– documentary proof the applicant has lived in their acquired gender throughout the preceding two years.

If the Panel is satisfied that the applicant meets all the conditions in the GRA they must issue the applicant with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Erm, about this “panel” … Have you ever seen The Shawshank Redemption? That scene where Morgan Freeman stands in front of the parole board is the closest thing I can imagine when I think of a Gender Recognition Panel. A bunch of cisgender people get together and decide if a trans person is broken/cool enough to be allowed to join their club. Perhaps it would be beneficial that you directly include some people who have some actual, real lived experience in this process, no?

Fees

It is quite normal for people to pay for a whole range of services, for example, passports, birth and marriage certificates, drivers’ licences, applications to the civil courts for a variety of issues. Given the cost involved in administering the gender recognition process, applications for gender recognition also carry a fee.

At present, the application fee stands at £140. So as to ensure that nobody is excluded from gaining legal recognition in their acquired gender, remissions and part remissions are available to those who are unable to pay the full fee. Traditionally a large percentage of applicants have been exempt from paying a fee.

PAY US MONEY AND YOU TOO CAN BE PROTECTED UNDER LAW! Just call 0845-ITSA-SCAM. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor, at least give us some money. We’ll even make the financial remission forms so complicated that some trans people (especially ones with disabilities) don’t understand them! It is beyond me why I have to keep repeating this, WE DO NOT CHOOSE TO BE TRANS. If cancer patients had to pay £140 to be protected from losing their job because they have to go for hospital appointments, there would be protests at Downing Street, Stop treating trans people like second class citizens.

Gender Identity Clinics

Current service provision in England is network-based, shaped around seven adult gender identity clinics, three providers of adult genital reconstruction surgery and one designated provider of gender identity development services for children, adolescents and young people.

Each gender identity clinic delivers services in compliance with contemporary, generic service standards for their discipline that respect the specific needs, values and dignity of transgender people.

The most up to date statistics for trans people point to 1% of the population who are gender variant, and you think that this is acceptable? There has been a 50% year on year increase in referrals for adult gender identity services and an 80% year on year increase for under-18’s yet you are cutting funding to the NHS, refusing to allow travelling satellite gender clinics and you have failed to employ enough medical and clerical professionals to cope with the increase. People are killing themselves because of your failure to act.

In England, people accessing gender identity services have a legal right under the NHS Constitution to be seen within 18 weeks of referral.

Ok, let’s talk about our so-called legal rights. I waited 18 months, 78.2 weeks. These days my friends tell me the wait is similar. Right now it takes roughly 5 years from referral to surgery, if you are lucky. You know this because we have been telling you for years. Stop fobbing us off, stop deliberately misleading people, we are not stupid. The current attempted suicide rate is 48%. David Cameron, how much higher does this have to climb before you do something?

Non-binary Gender

Non-binary gender is not recognised in UK law. Under the law of the United Kingdom, individuals are considered by the state to be of the gender that is registered on their birth certificate, either male or female.

Under the Gender Recognition Act, the Gender Recognitions Panel is only able to grant a certificate to enable the applicant to become either male or female. The Panel has no power to issue a certificate indicating a non-binary gender.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination if it arises from their being perceived as either male or female. We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves to be of neither gender. We are not aware that that results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents.

Ministry of Justice

A very small number? Well here is another example of how out of touch the UK government is with reality. It is scientifically proven that gender is a spectrum, you need to educate yourself about the people over whom you rule. Some people are different to the black and white spectrum you have been exposed to your whole life, there is a wonderful grey area where some people don’t identify with any gender, or may describe themselves as fluid. Under the governments rules, these people are not as equal as you are. Please do something to show you actually care about people who are different.