Why Jersey States members are homophobic and transphobic

equaljersey

 

Yesterday the States of Jersey (the local government) voted to delay the introduction of equal marriage laws because they want undertake a study to look into it’s long term effect. Eighteen States members voted for equality, integrity and respect, nine didn’t bother whilst a whopping twenty four voted for homophobia, transphobia and bigotry.

I do not call these Jersey States members homophobes, transphobes and bigots lightly. Those are words that should be only used when a person truly deserves it but I feel that in this case my use is appropriate. Voting to delay equal marriage is sending a clear message that the right to love and marry another person is only for straight people, and that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents of Jersey do not deserve that right. The Senators and Deputies are saying that people who are LGBT are less equal, they don’t deserve to marry their partners.

These Jersey States Members are hiding behind a flimsy excuse, do they think that their (expensively publicly funded) study is going to uncover some previously unknown effect of equal marriage? Seven hundred million on this planet live in a place where they can marry whoever they love, and what, the States of Jersey thinks that their study is going to find out something new? Their refusal to make a clear stand on supporting equality and justice says it all. Equal marriage exists all over the world and society hasn’t collapsed, the moon hasn’t exploded and the Alderney hasn’t won the Murratti.

Perhaps that is what they are scared of, gay marriage changing the social fabric of Jersey so much that we become rubbish at football and Alderney takes the cup forever more. Because I can’t think of another even slightly more logical reason.

The arguments for and against equal marriage have been gone over far too many times, battles have been fought and won in the highest courts of the world and it has been proven over and over again that the result of equal marriage is simply that more people get married to the ones they love.

I put it to you that ANY argument which tries to assert that gay couples should not have the same right to marry the person they love, just the same as straight couples is intrinsically homophobic. History will show anybody who makes a stand against equality to be the homophobic, transphobic bigot they are.

I wish I could be in Jersey this Saturday for the first ever LGBT rights parade Hopefully soon the local government will see the error of their ways and fix this.

 

These are the names and email addresses of the politicians who voted against equality should you want to let them know your thoughts, as a regular tax paying voter, on the matter.

 

Votes for delaying a decision on equal marriage –

Senator Sarah Ferguson – s.ferguson@gov.je
Senator Ian Le Marquand – i.lemarquand@gov.je
Senator Francis Le Gresley – f.legresley@gov.je
Senator Ian Gorst – i.gorst@gov.je

Trinity
Constable John Gallichan – j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
Deputy Anne Pryke – a.pryke@gov.je
St Clement
Constable Len Norman – l.norman@gov.je
Deputy Gerard Baudains – g.baudains@gov.je
Deputy Susie Pinel – s.pinel@gov.je
St Peter
Constable John Refault – j.refault@gov.je
St Lawrence
Constable Deidre Mezbourian – d.mezbourian@gov.je
Deputy John Le Fondré – j.lef@gov.je
St John
Constable Phill Rondel – p.rondel@gov.je
St Ouen
Constable Michael Paddock – m.paddock@gov.je
Deputy James Reed – j.reed@gov.je
St Saviour 
Constable Sadie Rennard – s.rennard@gov.je
Deputy Rob Duhamel – r.duhamel@gov.je
Grouville
Constable John Le Maistre – j.lemaistre@gov.je
St Helier
Deputy Jackie Hilton – j.hilton@gov.je
Deputy Richard Rondel – r.rondel@gov.je
Deputy Mike Higgins – mr.higgins@gov.je
St Brelade
Deputy Sean Power – sp.power@gov.je
Deputy John Young – j.young@gov.je
St Mary

Deputy John Le Bailly – j.lebailly@gov.je

Stonewall UK and trans people

As regular readers of this site will know, I have written to Stonewall UK in the past asking about the way they have treated trans people, I received a response at the time but to be honest it was just a long winded fob off and it annoyed me too much to publish.

Ben Summerskill stood down from the position of CEO earlier this year and in the aftermath I was aware of trans people speaking in hushed tones about whether Stonewall would change their view of the T in LGBT.  I decided to write to the new acting CEO, Ruth Hunt an email to send out the feelers and try to gauge her reactions about the trans question. She called me yesterday and we had a long chat about Stonewall UK’s future and I was pleasantly surprised  by her position.

Ruth was keen to say that she and Stonewall do not want to act on the trans communities behalf, from the sounds of it they are not going to suddenly hire some token transgender people and call themselves an LGBT organisation. They want to draw a line under the past, move on and open up a conversation about how best to enable the trans fight for equality, allow us as a community to continue leading this process and actually listen to our concerns.

This seemed to me to be genuine, I told Ruth that this sounded like a very well thought out position but I that can’t speak for anybody else. In my experience holding grudges only causes more harm than good, Stonewall UK have changed their leadership and their new CEO sounds like a breath of fresh air. I’ve included my email to her below.

What do you think? How should the trans community react?

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————

Dear Ms Hunt,

As a somewhat militant trans woman I felt I must write to you for three reasons, first it would be rude not to congratulate you on your new role. I have never met you but a person has not got to where you are now without being passionate about the same rights and equality issues that are close to my heart, so you have my respect and best wishes.

I must say that these views are my own here and that is because we must have a frank and honest discussion about Stonewall UK of the past and how the future is looking too. There is no point going into details but I have felt let down and ignored by the organisation. Admittedly I identify as a trans woman who is pansexual and don’t fit into the three LGB boxes which have defined it in the past, even though men and women are some of the people who I’m attracted to.

The second reason is to ask for some understanding, compassion even. Just like the LGB community, trans people are only bound by something which they have no control over, something they are born with and each live individually and as such have vastly different views. Many feel aggrieved by Stonewall UK of the past, some are hurt and some are angry and this has led to all kinds of strong words and actions in times gone by. These feelings may take some time to subside so please, take some time to understand just how much previous policies have impacted on the transgender community.

In America last year, as I’m sure you’re aware, the Lesbian and Gay Alliance Against Defamation formally changed their name to GLAAD, stating that they felt their work had expanded beyond fighting defamation to changing the culture. It was inclusive of their work both with allies and on transgender issues. A Greek philosopher once said that nothing endures but change and this is especially true for the LGBT equalities fight, even ten years ago the landscape was completely different from how it is now. There have been so many small successes over time, all adding up to a huge step forward for acceptance and equal human rights.

But for people whose gender identities and sexual orientations don’t fit into a binary, time feels like it’s passing slower than for everyone else almost like they’re being left behind. Only a small percentage of people in this world identify as LGB and an even smaller percentage of those are transgender or define themselves outside of the binaries, some trans people are straight, but they shouldn’t be excluded either.

When trans people shout about injustices it is difficult for our voices to get heard in the right places, even if it’s over similar issues which have happened in the past with the LGB community, nobody seems to listen. Transgender organisations just aren’t well funded enough to raise awareness on a wider scale, when a person transitions and their employer realises that their equality training doesn’t cover transgender issues, it’s that vulnerable person who suffers.

Which brings me to my third reason for writing this, I’m asking you to be more of an ally to trans people, can Stonewall UK move forward, evolve even, to be more inclusive? Allies are so important, especially when you’re part of a tiny minority within an already small community, The Vice President of America recently said that transgender discrimination is the human rights issue of our time and from my perspective, there is never a truer word spoken.

Our links may be tenuous, gender and sexuality are different things but our fight for acceptance and equality are so similar and to be honest, the trans community need all the friends and allies we can get.

Sarah.

Homesickness sucks and a book update.

My head has been in a fuzz for weeks, it feels like I’ve felt overwhelmed by everything lately and I think I’ve figured out why. I’ve been so homesick. As I write this I’m watching 15 minute long YouTube videos in which some guy has strapped his camera on to his scooter and films himself riding it around the roads of Jersey with some crappy background music. And I’m crying my eyes out. Every landmark, every building, every road, in fact every corner is bringing back memories of some dearly loved friends. I miss them all so much.

I moved to the UK almost three years ago now and I came here for only one reason, to answer the question of whether transition was right for me. I knew all too well what the tiny island’s gossip grapevine thought of trans women and well, the grass is always greener… I used to hate making plans but I reckoned that transition would take two years, three tops, but then the thing with the cameras and the meeting of some new friends who completely changed my perspective on everything about life happened, and now I’m sitting here drying the tears from my cheeks facing a completely new reality and a stark choice. Do I go or do I stay (now)?

My sudden realisation came after about an hour of scooter guy, I can’t go home. Beyond the practicalities of where I am going to live and how to earn enough to live, I have things I want to achieve over here in the UK. Fox and I are about to release our book, Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl? (That’s an official announcement, I guess!) Trans* Pride is something I’m immensely proud of helping create, all the other things I love doing would be be impossible to do if I have to get on a plane to make appointments, I find it hard enough to be on time as it is!

Times change and I have to accept that a permanent return to Jersey just isn’t realistic for another few years and who knows what I’ll be doing then so I’m gonna have to focus on what I want in the short to medium term. For now I need to make sure this book goes well, I need to be at my best and in an ideal world I need a holiday back home.

Very soon Fox and I will be asking you to pre-order and invest in us and our idea of a children’s book introducing a character whose gender is left for the reader to decide. We’ve decided to use the Kickstarter.com crowd funding platform and have total control over the marketing and production process so we are about to ask for your help for the initial printing costs. Details are still being finalised but I really believe the time is right for an idea like this, this will hopefully be the first in a series of books which inspires a generation of children and families to talk more about gender and what it means to each individual. I am really excited about what the next few months hold.

Tomorrow is another day.

You’re a filthy tranny!

A young woman who’s gender identity is different to the one that was assigned to her at birth, describes herself to her friends as “a tranny” and is in bed late at night with her husband of five years, they have just finished having sex and are indulging in some pillow talk.

 

“You’re a filthy tranny!” He says softly, “that was amazing! I love you so much”

 

Contrast that with another young woman who’s gender identity is different to the one that she was assigned at birth but describes herself to her friends as “a woman with trans history” is alone and walking home from work late at night, she is very self conscious about her looks and doesn’t think she passes very well. A group of drunk men stumble out of a pub in front of her so she lowers her head and quickens her step, hoping they won’t look at her too closely.

 

“You’re a filthy tranny!” A man shouts.

 

I’ve always loved language, I can speak and understand some of the English, French and Spanish languages and it’s always been fascinating to me how very subtle changes in the way a word is spelt, the grammar used and the setting the word is used in can change it’s meaning entirely.

 

If someone wants a label with which to describe themselves, who am I to tell them that they’re wrong? Who am I to tell them that their choice of identity is not my idea of what is ‘the done thing?’ This kind of identity policing is exactly what the cis world is guilty of and a trans person would quite rightly call it out so why does it happen so often in the trans world?

 

The way that humans use words and language evolves over time, it happens organically and banning certain words never achieves anything, it just makes something taboo and  likely to be used more often than not as a slur.

 

Replace the trans women in my earlier story with cis women (Female at birth) and replace “tranny” with “bitch.” The story is the same and the meanings behind what is said are the same, why should the use of the word tranny be any different from bitch? Some women choose never to use either word and some choose to use both, why the judgement? Both can be used to mean both positive and negative things and everyone has a right to use their words however they wish.

 

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Why Parents Shouldn’t Be Scared Of Gender Variant Children

My earliest memory isn’t of something related to my gender, it’s of a hospital. Well technically it’s of a television in a hospital. I was eighteen months old, I had caught a nasty dose of food poisoning and been admitted to hospital and I remember as clear as day being in a cot in a room and being annoyed at my dad because I was watching a cartoon and he turned the TV off. I mentioned this memory to my mum once and she was surprised that I didn’t remember the other room the nurses put me in, apparently the hospital was very busy and we had been put in a bay that that had been converted from a communal shower room.

 

Guess who managed to somehow turn on the showers…

 

Now my second memory is about gender, and what it meant to me. I went to a Biblical themed fancy dress party when I was four or five and I was dressed as Moses, every picture of Biblical characters I’d ever seen showed men wearing smock-type clothes, very similar to a dress. So for my costume I was put in one of my big sisters dresses which had some patches of fabric sewn onto the chest to make it more manly and was given a walking stick. I was in the process of learning what was different about boys and girls and at the time the only difference I could see was clothes and hair, girls couldn’t have short hair and boys couldn’t wear dresses. Bum deal for me is what I learnt.

 

When you read or hear about ‘transsexual children,’ chances are, it’s nothing to do with a child being transsexual at all. Like me, everybody goes through a learning process when they’re discovering who they are and where they fit in the world. A part of that is discovering gender and what it means, toys, clothes, jobs, even cars seem to have been assigned a gender role. As far as I remember all of my childhood friends at some point, usually as part of a fancy dress type activity, wore clothes that were usually of the opposite gender, virtually every child does it. And I’m the only one (that I know of) that has turned out as a transsexual adult.

 

Gender is a wide and varied spectrum and not everybody fits into either 100% male or 100% female, some people don’t identify as any gender at all, right in the middle of the other genders. Wherever you sit on that spectrum, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and you’re entitled to be yourself without having to worry about other peoples reactions. If I have a child and they want to experiment with gender stereotypes then I will encourage them. It’s healthy and only adds to a young persons mental well being in the long run to know who they are and what kind of person they want to become.

 

It’s only natural for a parent to worry about their kids, i mean, I’d hate to have a child of mine to have to go through the mental anguish and pain of transition so it’s important to stress that only a tiny percentage of humans are transsexual, the likelihood is that your child is just starting to discover and understand better the world around them. Encourage it and embrace it, give them the space to develop emotionally and talk about their feelings, medical intervention is impossible until puberty and as they grow their gender identity may well evolve too.

 

I’m still a inquisitive person who gets into some sort of trouble now and again, I prefer baths to showers and I’m not as fond of watching cartoons as I once was but I am a trans woman. What happens in childhood doesn’t necessarily shape the person you become and I wish could have had a safe and supportive environment where I felt comfortable to explore my identity at a young age.

 

 

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Make the Russian Olympics the Gayest Ever!

Unless your head has been buried in the sand for the last few months you will be aware of the recent rise in attacks on the LGBT community in Russia and the laws that ban “homosexual propaganda.” (Whatever the crap that is.) In about six months time, on the Soviet Black Sea coast there will also be the small matter of the winter Olympics, the largest winter sports festival on the planet will be happening in a country that is endorsing and encouraging the oppression, rape, torture and murder of our fellow human beings.

 

There is not much more I can say about how wrong this is that hasn’t already been said, people now need to figure out how to react to this. It’s already been pointed out that simply not turning up is unlikely to work, proven by the fact that the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow was boycotted by 65 countries led by America, but history has all but forgotten that. Google “political protest at the Olympics” and there is little mention of boycotts, number one result is this image though.

 

 

Which brings me to the point of this post, my idea, for what it’s worth is this: Make this winter Olympics the gayest ever, wether you’re spectating or taking part wear rainbow colours, rainbow unicorns covered in glitter if you can. Ask athletes to do whatever they are willing, rainbow flags, socks, gloves and scarves, anything that will show their support of LGBT rights. How amazing would it be to see people standing up for those being oppressed? The smallest gestures are sometimes the ones that achieve the most and I hope that  the conscience of the worlds will be pricked by these small actions.

 

The Olympics have always been a great inspiration for children and adults and we cannot turn a blind eye to the way people are being treated, this winter is an opportunity to stand up and be counted. Together we can show the future Olympic generations that everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter who they are, race, religion, sexuality and gender aside, we are all human and we are all in this together.

 

 

 

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The Argus coverage of Trans Pride Brighton

arguspride

Dear Mr Beard,

 

I am writing to you about the article published in The Argus, Monday 29th July, page 5; The Return Of Doggy Pride.

 

As a proud doggy owner I was over the moon to read about Brighton’s hosting Doggy Pride, for too long doggy owners have had to fear for their lives while walking the streets of their home town, just because of the fact that they own dogs. Ever since they were young they have had to hide their love of dogs from the people they hold nearest and dearest for fear of being physically and mentally abused and shunned. I think it is wonderful that doggy owners are finally standing up for themselves and showing the world that they are not ashamed to be who they are and embracing their identities. Together they are stronger.

 

I think it’s disgusting that people demean and misrepresent doggy owners, grouping them with other completely unrelated things such as trans* people, I mean, trans* people have never had to put up with the hardships that doggy people have, they have never had some newspaper editor infer that they’re less important than… oh, wait…

 

Let me start this letter again.

 

As a trans* person, Trans* Pride Brighton committee member and an ex dog owner (and aspiring future dog owner) I kinda feel that The Argus has been a bit disrespectful to Europe’s first ever trans* pride event, I don’t think you’ve given it enough credit. The significance of this piece of British history has seemed to have passed you by. It’s understandable though as trans identified people are probably the smallest minority there is, less than 20,000 have been through the NHS system and we are easily forgotten. Even so, this doesn’t make the fact that Trans* Pride Brighton was a runaway success  with a footfall of over 1500 people was any less newsworthy. I just found the way we were mentioned as an afterthought in a Doggy Pride article a bit insulting.

 

 

I am writing to you because I want to see if there is a way we can fix this, can we talk about it? If you don’t want to talk to me personally, (I can understand why I come across as a bit strange) why not check out this website http://www.allabouttrans.org.uk/ They promote greater understanding between media professionals and the transgender community. Anyway, you sent a photographer down and it would seem a waste not to use his photos, no?

 

 

Faithfully,

 

Sarah Savage.

 

EDIT 21:45 30/07/13

I have received a reply from the News Editor and I think it’s a bit of a win…

 

Dear Sarah,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

I am sorry the story appeared to belittle the importance of the Trans Pride event. That was certainly not our intention, but sometimes we get things wrong.

 

As a result, we have republished the story online www.theargus.co.uk/news/10580921.Brighton_and_Hove_celebrates_Britain_s_first_ever_Trans_Pride_event/ and will include a lengthier version with pictures in tomorrow’s paper.

 

Regards,

 

Lawrence Marzouk
News Editor

 

 

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Love and hate, my non trans life.

I wrote this for another website but I get lot’s of emails asking about my family so thought I’d share it on here too…

 

I was born into the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK, my dads mum brought him into it and he was a Ministerial Servant and is now an Elder. I have 3 brothers and sisters and we were a close family growing up, all of our friends were from the local congregation and I only had one or two friends from school who weren’t involved in the religion. I wasn’t allowed to participate in after school sports and was strongly discouraged from any further education despite being in the top 10% of my school. From as early as I can remember I had huge unanswered questions over my gender and sexuality but I knew that I couldn’t speak about any of it to anybody, I knew that if I did it would mean endless and pointless bible studies with the Elders, conversations with people who didn’t want to listen to my feelings, who would just try to change the way I thought and constant suspicion of being an apostate. I kept everything to myself, trusted nobody and this has messed me up ever since.

 

 

At 17 I was baptised, I thought that it was what was required of me, I always had doubts, I just wanted to be normal like all the other people I could see out in the world but I felt huge pressure from the elders and my family to conform, so I did. Less than a year later one of my friends who I had grown up with (who had left a couple of years earlier) was back in town for the weekend and I’d heard he would be going to a nightclub to catch up with some people. I wanted to go.
My mind was made up, the only way I was going to see my friend would be to leave the religion, I’d thought about it in the past often but did not want to miss out on another important (to me) opportunity to be normal. Saturday morning and I went out as normal on the ministry, I remember getting dressed in my suit and tie thinking that this would be the last time I would ever do this. I even managed to convince some poor soul to take a magazine that day but as I returned home I sat in my parents bathroom and wrote a letter to my dad explaining that I would be leaving and there was nothing he could do. I left it where he would find it, got in my car and drove away, I knew what the reaction would be.

 

 

Nobody saw this coming, not my family, not my Jehovah’s Witness friends, not the congregation members. I had hidden all of my doubts from everyone. I still believed everything that had been taught me since I was born, I still believed that Armageddon was coming very soon but I didn’t care. I was making the choice to live as a normal person and accepted that I was going to die, I just couldn’t live with the constant guilt trips one minute longer.

 

 

 

Overnight everyone in my life stopped being in my life. Childhood friends crossed the street to avoid eye contact, my family stopped talking to me, the mother of a family who were our closest friends called me to her house to tell me if I died she wouldn’t go to my funeral. My life spiraled out of control, I had lost everything that had ever been important to me and in the following few years drink and drug addiction took hold. I didn’t care, I was going to be killed when Armageddon came anyway so I was determined to escape the constant feelings of impending doom in any way possible. One night I stopped by the family home and my then 8 year old sister had just gone to bed, I put my head round her bedroom door to say goodnight and we got talking. She asked me if I was evil because Jehovah didn’t love me any more. I left the house and cried my heart out.  It took until I was about 25 before I even began to sort through my feelings and beliefs.

 

 

 

I’m now 31, I no longer believe the world as we know it is going to end any day now. I’m agnostic, pansexual and 2 years ago I came out as transgender.

 

 

 

The trans part has proven to be the final nail in the coffin with my family, my mum, to her eternal credit has always gone out of her way to continue a relationship with me is the only one who still speaks to me, she hides the contact we have from the rest of them. My dad has banned everyone in my family from speaking to me, I haven’t seen or heard from them in years, I have a niece I’ve never met and a nephew who wouldn’t recognise me. Even before I came out as trans my mum and my little sister were the only ones who spoke to me and now even my sister doesn’t. My mothers love has sometimes been my only saving grace.

 

 

 

I’m happy now though and despite everything I don’t regret a thing. I have friends who are closer than my family ever were and I don’t have that impending sense of doom and guilt trips that used to follow me about like a storm cloud.  I don’t hate my family, despite everything I will always love them. I don’t blame them for anything either as for me, unconditional love is real and will never change. My parents never set out to cause damage to their own offspring and in their own misguided way only ever tried to do the best for their children. I hate the Jehovah’s Witnesses though, and hate is genuinely not a word I use lightly. I hate the way this cult made me feel about myself, I hate the damage it does to people who are too young to do anything about it and most of all, I hate that I can’t do anything about it.

 

 

 

All the struggles and turbulence in my life have brought me to this point where I am at today and that is a very good place indeed. To use a phrase coined by an LGBT campaign, It DOES get better. Yesterday I found out that I’ve been nominated for The Positive Role Model Award for LGBT at The National Diversity Awards 2013 so that must be a good sign.

 

 

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Trans* Pride Brighton 26-28 July 2013

In only 8 weeks Brighton will host the UK’s first ever Pride event celebrating gender diversity. We are a not-for-profit, non party political community group, here to inspire and promote inclusivity of all trans, intersex, gender variant and queer people to help us make a real difference. By promoting equality and diversity through visibility, we will educate and eliminate discrimination we face, and also to celebrate our unique history and gender diversity.

 

As a proud member of the comittee for Trans* Pride Brighton 2013, I’m very excited that all preperations are going well and we are looking forward to what promises to be a truly wonderful and memorable event

 

Unfortunately however we’ve been let down by some local organisations who we had hoped would be more supportive of the event, and as a result we are having to re-evaluate our resources and redouble our fundraising efforts.

 

While we’re all working very hard to make this event happen for the community, we need your help and we need it now! Please consider donating whatever you can, no matter how small, sharing and encouraging others to do the same. Every little helps!

 

Also, any fundraising initiatives such as sponsored swims, cake sales or similar would be warmly welcomed. Please get in touch through transpridebrighton@gmail.com if you’d like us to provide you with headed sponsor forms or fundraising resources.

 

For one-off donations in the meantime, however, here is out Go FundMe page. Please share and distribute widely.

http://www.gofundme.com/TransPrideBrighton

 

Trans Pride Brighton, putting the T first.