Why I validate non – binary people

Non - binary gender symbol
Image: iStock

 

July 14 was Gender Non – Binary Day.

 

Gender non – binary is a blanket term for people who don’t identify exclusively as male or female. Some don’t identify with a gender at all (agender).

Statistics and erasure

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) first collected data that to include gender non – binary people in 2016. They found that approximately 35% of those who indicated that they were transgender also indicated that they were gender non – binary.

The American Psychological Association estimates that 25 – 35% of transgender people identify as non – binary.

Despite this, I’ve been disheartened at how many people, both within and outside the LGBTQ+ community invalidate non – binary identities. American YouTuber, who’s also trans, Blaire White is one of those people, arguing that there is only male and female. Sydney Herald columnist, Cate Mcgregor argued the same thing when she condemned Safe Schools in 2016 (she has since changed her view on the program).

Why does this matter?

If you read anything about the struggle of bisexual people, you’ll know that they are over represented in hate crime and donestic violence statistics. This is at the very least, exacerbated by erasure and not being believed, or, the other extreme, fetishised. I’ve written that asexual women in particular are often victins of harassment and sexual assault because they aren’t believed.

According to Stonewall UK, both binary and non – binary trans people have experienced a hate crime within a twelve month period, (41% and 31% respectively).

  • 28% of trans people reported being victims of domestic violence
  • Roughly 12% (1 in 8) trans people reported physical attacks at work by colleagues
  • 25% of trans people have also experienced homelessness
  • 41% of trans people have experienced hate crimes

These statistics are horrible. All people, regardless of gender identity or any other factor, should be able to feel safe at work, in public and at home.

Most importantly, the rate of homelessness and hate crime highlight the need for law enforcement and shelter operators to be inclusive and supportive of binary and non – binary trans people so people can find safety and justice. I’m pretty sure I’ve wrote in the past that s study in the US revealed that both binary and non – binary homeless trans people often find it very difficult to find appropriate homeless shelters that align with their identity and where they are accepted and feel safe. Binary trans people are often rejected by services that cater to their gender, while non – binary people often don’t have any services or shelters available for them at all.

 

Gender non – binary and asexuality

Asexuality flag in shape of heart
Image iSock

The reason why I feel the need to defend and validate gender non – binary people is it wasn’t that long ago that asexual people were misunderstood, not believed and ridiculed. In 2014, 2GB’s Steve Price was criticised for his comments about asexuality on The Project such as ‘try harder’ and ‘I find that [being asexual] ridiculous’. I remember watching the repeat of that segment and was quite offended by what I heard. Another panellist also sarcastically spread misinformation about asexual people. 

While The Morning Show wasn’t as harsh in talking about asexuality, misinformation  was spread and it wasn’t taken seriously.

Asexual invisibility has had more harmful consequences than just ridicule. In her book An Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, author and asexual activist Julie Sondra Decker highlighted discrimination and even sexual harassment and assault that asexual people face. She cited a study where a number of landlords admitted that they would likely reject applications from asexuals who wanted to rent their property. Asexual people were looked at less favourbly than gays or lesbians.

Everyone should be able to live freely, safely and without fear. I believe that for minorities, visibility and validation contributes that. It’s the first step for the whole LGBTQ+ community to be able to access services that most people take for granted.

To trans/ non – binary people, what have been your experiences? Have you found it hard to access services you needed? How have your experiences been at work and oublic? Feel free to share your experiences below.

 

 

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Let’s talk: Scarlett Johannsen controversy

Scarlett Johansson has stepped down from playing transman, Dante Tex Gill in Rub and Tug after backlash from transgender activists.

Now, my view about LGBTQ+ characters in film and TV is: as long as the character isn’t portrayed as a negative stereotype (unless it’s satire or black comedy), then it doesn’t worry me whether the actor is LGBTQ+.

 

I want to know your thoughts. What do you think about cis – het actors playing LGBTQ+ characters?

Transgender/ gender non – binary/ Scarlett Johanssonnon – conforming people, how do you feel about a cis – gender actor playing a transgender character?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Perfectionism: is it ever healthy?

Patheos post: You will never be perfect by Chris Williams, June 7, 2018

 

Last month, Patheos contributor, Chris Williams wrote about perfection and how we’ll never achieve it in this life. He also suggested that our imperfections can strengthen both faith and relationships:

If perfection was the goal, I’d never keep a friend. I’d be afraid of letting them down. I’d be afraid they’d let me down. I’d let every hurt feeling be a reason to burn a bridge.

He argues that argues that imperfection opens up the door to grace: a key characteristic of a Christian life:

Imperfection opens the door to grace. If we were held to perfection, there would be no reason for anyone to forgive us. There’d be no opportunity for us to forgive others. Imperfection humbles us and allows others to show us grace.

Read the whole article. It’s very interesting. It was a great read for me personally, because I can be a bit of a perfectionist. And of course, I fail. Every. Single. Day. I might start off alright, but if I’ve been awake for more than an hour, then stuff happens. So finding this article last week offered a bit of comfort, I guess.

What about the Bible?

Some readers rejected Williams’ conclusion by alluding to Mathew 5:48:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect

(Matt 5:48 New Living Translation)

Does the verse mean what people think it means? To life a perfect life? It may not mean what others think.

Commentaries on Bible Hub offer various interpretations of this verse, including an extension to the Jewish law demanding that people aren’t just pious, but also courteous to their neighbour, while others refer to the perfection that comes with being complete in Christ. It’s interesting to point out that Matthew 5 is a part of the Sermon on the Mount and only four verses above (Matt 5:44), where Jesus commands his listeners to love their enemies.

 

Perfectionism and psychology

While psycho,ogists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals encourage people to strive for excellence, many warn against perfectionism — the personality trait that’s characterised by striving to make all facets of life perfect, or at least seem to be perfect.  While perfectionism itself isn’t a mental illness, it can be a symptom of a mental illness like anxiety disorder or OCD. Perfectionism can lead to depression.

However, there is debate among psychologists and psychiatrists whether a ‘degree’ of perfectionism is ever beneficial.  ‘Degrees’ of perfectionism’ between healthy and unhealthy can be seen on perfectionism self – screening tools on sites such as Psychology Today and Dr. Jeff Szymanski. Both these self – screening quizzes indicate that there are ‘degrees’ of perfectionism, and a low degree can be beneficial.

Paul Hewitt PhD  from the University of British Columbia completely rejects the idea. Dr. Hewitt, along with Gordon Flett PhD concludes after twenty years of research that perfectionism is hazardous to one’s well – being and relationships. Unlike other researchers from the 1990’s, Hewitt and Flett  don’t buy the argument of adaptiveness. Both Hewitt and Flett, however, do agree that there are different varying extremes of perfectionism that come with various results, none, they argue, are completely positive.

Do you consider yourself or someone you a perfectionist? How has it affected your life, life of another person and their (or your) relationships? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Maybe my generation needs to take it down a peg?

I rarely watch reality TV anymore. Any I do watch are often reruns. I can’t tell you when I watched a singing/ talent reality show. However, I stumbled on this video on YouTube before. While not all of them are young (there’s a contestant who was about middle – aged), all but one fired up judges due to arrogance and rudely not taking no for an answer.

Most of the contestants seemed to be the epitome of Gen Y (and Z) stereotypes: entitled, spoiled, wanting everything now, not being able to handle rejection etc. Of course, it doesn’t represent all Gen Y (or most) or Gen Z.

Starting at 4:33, a girl named Charlotte, at only sixteen years old, tried to sing a Whitney Houston song. Judge Michael “Louis” Walsh got into a row with Sharon Osbourne after saying that Charlotte was ‘deluded’. He ended up getting wine thrown in his face. Harshness of Walsh’s comment aside (it was very snide, especially toward a sixteen – year – old), I wondered how Charlotte dealt with criticism or rejection in general and whether she ever did to that point, to be honest.

Then there were performers (one girl group and a solo male artist), who’s ego was way too big and they were quite rude to the judges and crew. Examples of the narcissism that Gen Y are often accused of, methinks.

 

Australian Christian Lobby pushes for conversion therapy… again.

According to Buzzfeed News, the Australian Christian Lobby is defending conversion therapy,.. again. Last year, former ACL leader, Lyle Shelton came under fire for suggesting that parents should be able to take their children to receive conversion or ‘reparative’ therapy for their LGBTQ children.

I’m going to be blunt about this. People can’t claim ignorance anymore. Conversion therapy is condemned by mainstream medical bodies both here and overseas, including the Australian Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association. Not only do they say that conversion therapy doesn’t work, but it can exacerbate mental health problemsand increase suicidality among LGBTQ people.

To me, this exposes the real hatred that ACL have toward the LGBTQ community. That’s right: I said ‘hatred’. I’m sorry, but they keep on pushing this harmful ideology, despite warnings, despite evidence and public backlash. None of them can claim that they ‘love’ LGBTQ people. No, they hate them. And their hatred has proven to be harmful. They don’t care for LGBTQ children, or children suspected of being LGBTQ. They want to harm them.

By the way, the Australian Christian Lobby is not alone in their hatred and wanting to harm the LGBTQ community. A few months ago, there was an ‘ex – gay’ pride march in Washington. This was headed by anti – LGBTQ campaigner, Elizabeth Johnston (also known as Activist Mommy). The Activist Mommy Facebook page is full of anti – LGBTQ and anti – liberal hysteria – that LGBTQ people are out to indoctrinate children, etc, etc. The ACL claimed the same last year during the same – sex marriage debate.  I believe that this has two main purposes one, to hide what they really think (i.e. they hate LGBTQ people) and two,  to link LGBTQ people to paedophilia. This is why, I believe, the “No campaigners in the same – sex marriage debate focused on Safe Schools, saying that it was a ‘radical LGBTI sex ed program’, despite denials from supporters and the Department of Education and Training (and I’ve glanced through the main resource, All of Us  a number of times, and I saw nothing about sex or masturbation. Nothing).

When Exodus International closed in 2013, president, Alan Chambers admitted that conversion therapy didn’t work and was forced to confront the damage that it caused by coming face to face with survivors.

After Exodus International distanced themselves from conversion therapy, the next narrative that conservative Christians tried to push was celibacy. This was quickly criticised by a number of Christians (supported by others, like blogger Wesley Hill). Chambers himself could see parallels between the gay celibacy movement and his former work with Exodus International. For a while, I wasn’t against the ‘gay celibacy’movement. At least it wasn’t conversion therapy. But now, frankly, I get the criticism. It’s still treating LGBTQ+ people as lesser than. It put emphasis on what LGBTQ+ people (supposedly) do It reduced them to lesser than human and that a part of them can (still) be denied. (That’s why I don’t like the term ‘ same – sex attracted’ when referring to LGB+ people, to be honest).

So, where to from here? I think it’s good that Washing DC and certain States in the US are have banned conversion therapy for minors. The UK has done the same thing, with a bill passed last Tuesday (Britain time). I think that conversion therapy is banned for minors and any licensed medical professional should run the risk of having their license revoked if they are known for promoting or performing conversion therapy. I don’t see any difference between that and disgraced British surgeon, Andrew Wakefield trying to link the MMR vaccine to autism in 1998. Both claims are condemned by mainstream medical bodies, so why can’t practitioners who push either idea on patients get the same treatment?

There is more good news. More and more organisations and churches are rejecting the idea that LGBTQ+ people are broken need to be fixed. Christians have even publicly apologised for the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people by the church. Last year, a number of evangelical and former evangelical Christians formed Equal Voices and offered a statement and letter offering a sincere apology to the LGBTQ+ community for the mistreatment they’ve received. In Marikina City, Philippines, some Christians marched in a Pride parade, offering their apology to the Filipino LGBTQ+ community. This is significant. According to Centre for Global Education, 86% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic and a further 6% identify as another Christian denomination.

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Like with the same – sex marriage debate last year, I’m both optimistic and cautious. I think, and I hope that we will keep moving in the right direction in treating LGBTQ+ people with dignity and respect and that old wounds, and relationships between Christians and the LGBTQ+ community can be completely healed.

#NotAllFeminists #NotAllTransAllies

Popular Australian clothing,  brand, Peter Alexander, has come under fire for pulling pajama tops saying “Boys will be boys”, after one mother complained that the slogan was sexist on their Facebook page.

Did you read that? ONE mother allegedly complained that the slogan ‘boys will be boys’ was offensive and sexist.

To be clear, I think the complaint was silly, as was the move by Peter Alexander. What next? Are radio stations going to pull the Choirboys’ song of the same name?

 

I agree with Herald Sun columnist, Sky News presenter and 3AW regular, Rita Panahi who said that the brand should not have bowed down to one complaint.

I want to emphasise this. There was ONE complaint by ONE woman. Needless to say that this is NOT representative of all women or all feminists.

This is NOT representative of tarnsgender people, non – binary people or their allies. 

This is one idiot who made one comment and Peter Alexander was a fool for such a knee – jerk reaction.

So, in the coming days, let’s not turn it into something it’s not:

  • It’s not representative of all feminists
  • It’s not representative of all progressives
  • It’s not representatives of all transgender/ non – binary people and their allies

It is only representative of one idiot who decided that a well – known saying was offensive and one idiotic company that decided to overreact to that one complaint.

Sarah Huckabee – Sanders vs. Red Hen: this will be used as a weapon against the LGBTQ+ community

President Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was recently told to leave Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia along with her husband and other family members.

Owner, Stephanie Wilkson later explained that her actions were in response to a number of gay employees being unhappy about Sanders’ support for a ban on transgender people serving in the US military.

While the exchange between the restaurant’s owner and Huckabee Sanders was allegedly cordial, according to Wilkinson, it has caused fierce debate on social media .Conservatives have likened the Huckabee Sanders incident to LGBTQ+ people being \ denied service, while progressives have been adamant that restaurants should be able to refuse services based on political affiliation.

Ironically, this comes only days after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of Colorado baker, Jack Phillips who was sued in 2012 for refusing to make a cake for a gay couple.

Secular Talk’s Kyle Kullinski lashed out at responses from both conservatives and progressives on his channel. He’s torn, but is leaning he reluctantly concluded that Sanders should have been served in case it backfires on progressives later on.

He denies that this is the equivalent of denying someone service because of race or sexual orientation, arguing (rightly) that the latter are not things that can be chosen or changed.

Yet, this case is strengthening the arguments against rights of LGBTQ+ people. Conservatives, like Newscorp columnist and Macquarie Radio guest presenter, Andrew Bolt have already made the comparison and treating it as ‘left’ hypocrisy.

I am against LGBTQ+ people being denied service because I see it as a slippery slope. As I’ve demonstrated in the past, in certain US states, it’s legal for mental health workers to deny to treat LGBTQ+ patients, unless their lives are in immediate danger. In 2015, a Michigan pediatrician refused to see a toddler who was being raised by a lesbian couple.

It’s happening in the US, and I fear that there’s a chance that Australia’s anti – discrimination laws will also be watered down in the not – so – distant future.

 

So, what should happen? If you’re a business owner or work for one, serve your customers. Simple. Of course, if someone is abusive or destroying stock, etc, then kick them out, by all means. But anything else will only backfire.

UPDATE:

I read yesterday that Red Hen owner, Stephanie Wilkinson resigned from her position after about seventy – five conservative protesters against the treatment of Huckabee Sanders. One allegedly threw chicken excrement aiming it at the restaurant (it landed on the pavement).

They have the right to protest. Throwing excrement is uncalled for, though. It’s also a pity that Wilkinson felt like she had to leave her job.

What do you think about the Sarah Huckabee Sanders/ Red Hen saga? Do you think businesses should have to serve customers no matter what (except for abuse, destruction of property/ stock, etc)? Let me know in the comments below.