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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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.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FNowThisNews%2Fvideos%2F2034885746601539%2F&show_text=0&width=476

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.

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. 

 

 

Cate Mcgregor changes stance on Safe Schools

Screenshot ‘AUstralian article: ‘I was wrong abou5 Safe Schools’

Cricket commentator and former Lieutenant Colonel, Cate Mcgregor, has denounced and apologised for her opposition to the controversial Safe Schools program last year. Mcgregor had received backlash from LGBTQ media and community organisations after opposing Safe Schools, when she accused the founder Roz Ward as being a ‘Trotskyite’.

Mcgregor claimed that her mind changed after hearing testimonies about how Safe Schools had helped, and possibly saved, transgender children.

She has received some backlash from some people for her stance.

Mcgregor is free to change her mind. And to be honest, I think there was a lot of scaremongering about Safe Schools. Frankly, I think a lot of that was fueled by homophobia and trans – phobia.

I remember finding and reading through the All of Us online. While I didn’t agree with everything that I read (I didn’t see the point in the role – playing of being sixteen and in a same – sex relationship when the children were about thirteen/ fourteen), but, there was good in it. I did like the way that the resource went beyond the  gay/ straight dichotomy.

I also liked the idea of the videos featuring LGBTI teens. I think that would’ve been a good way to tear down stigma and negative stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people. I think there could have been a bit more on those who are questioning and unsure of their orientation.

I hoped that Safe Schools would start a conversation LGBTQ+ students and how they can be supported. I hoped that it would bring assurance to LGBTQ+ students who were being bullied or struggling to accept themselves. I firmly believe that acceptance and non – judgement can’t be merely implied. It needs to be explicit. Negative voices and doubt need to be confirmed wrong. It would be great for teachers, Student Advisers, School Counsellors and other support staff to initiate and welcome discussion, rather than students having to find the courage to initiate it, when, all too often, fear of rejection is all too real.

I liked the way that asexuality was mentioned  in the resources. This could lessen the alienation that so many young asexual people go through.

 

Then, it all went to hell in a  hand basket.  A damning video circulated the internet of a conference with Roz Ward as speaker. It exposed the ‘truth’ about the Safe Schools program; that it wasn’t an anti – bullying program, but a pro – LGBT program. Conservatives lapped this up and there was increasing pressure for State governments to can the program.

Then, during last year’s same – sex marriage debate, the real smear campaign started. Not only were opponents of Safe Schools screaming about ‘gender fluidity’ and ‘penis tucking’, there were also accusations that children, some who were in primary school, were modelling plasticine into vulvas and kids being taught about sex toys and masturbation. The Department of Education and supporters of Safe Schools, including former Australian Medical Association President, Kerryn Phelps. vehemently denied the claims. I had never read anything to suggest such things. To be honest, I can’t help but think that tactic was used by some to imply a link between LGBTQ+ people and paedophilia.

 

Personally, I don’t know whether Safe Schools should be modified, stay 5he same, or just go. But I DO knpw that LGBTQ+ students. They should feel safe, cared for and free from judgement. Victims of homophobia, trans – phobia, etc need to be confident that if they speak out, that they will ne supported and that such behaviour will not be tolerated by anyone.

Critics of Safe Schools keep saying that no child should be bullied. I agree. And LGBTQ+ students should be accepted and supported, a factor that people seem to want to swerve away from.

 

Israel Folau can have his beliefs. People have a right to disagree

Rugby ball in front of goal posts
Image: iStock

Wallabies player, Israel Folau, has caused a storm after he posted on Instagram that gay people that don’t repent will go to hell. This comes less than twelve months since he expressed his view that marriage should be between a man and woman on Twitter. Rugby Australia are not planning to sack Folau, but will encourage him to be mindful of divisive comments on social media in the future. According to The Australian, Qantas and Swisse have threatened to withdraw sponsorship from Rugby Australia in revolt to Folau’s comments.

Here’s my take.

I actually agree with Rugby Australia for not sacking or suspending Folau.

I also defend the right of Qantas and Swisse to pull their sponsorship as a form of revolt. They can put their money where they like.

What Folau said would have hit a lot of people hard. The relationship between LGBTQ+ people and Christians has been rocky in the past to say the least.

While religious belief and participation is shown to be beneficial to people’s mental well – being, this can’t always be said for LGBTQ+ people. In fact, a number of LGBTQ+ people end up abandoning their religion because of the conflict between their sexuality and their religious affiliation.

Some attitudes and actions of some Christian (and other religious) organisations have been downright harmful.

So – called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy; which is thankfuly becoming rarer, is known to be harmful and does not work. Multiple medical and psychological bodies around the world have publicly rejected the idea that sexual orientation can and should be changed. Some of them have also warned about potentially damaging effects of the practice. Conflict between sexual orientations and religious affiliation has also shown to be a risk factor to poor mental health and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ+ people.

 

With all that said, Folau should be debated, not penalised or silenced.

People caould argue, what I said and linked above; that most medical bodies around the developed world reject the notion that sexual orientation can or should be changed. They also argue that sexual orientation can’t be chosen.

Christians also have different interpretations of the so – called ‘clobber passages’ in both the Old an$ New Testament that are often used as a justifications for condemning gay people.

Over the years, people have strongly argued that the bible doesn’t condemn LGBTQ+ people or same – sex relationships.

Chill and hear me out. The most common arguments of these Christians, sometimes referred to as ‘Side A’ Christians, are that the passages condemn same – sex acts (often committed by men), that were not consensual, were often committed against children or was committed as a ritual in idol worship (Corinthians, in particular, did worship Aphrodite).

Second common argument, which is kind of related, is the controversy over the interpretations of some of the Hebrew and Greek.

I understand why people are angry and hurt by Folau’s comments. I feel for people who have been damaged by the actions of certain Christians. However, I don’t think censoring or punishing people like Folau will ultimately do anyone any good.

Let Folau and those like him to have their say, then non – Christians and Christians alike can debate it out, then leave it alone. The LGBTQ+ community can’t be seen censoring people. Not after the hard – won battle of same – sex marriage in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

About allies

Rainbow Pride flag
Image: iStock

 

I thought what an ally was was common knowledge. Maybe it’s only within sections of the LGBTQ+ community.

Apparently, not everyone does, according to what I heard last night on 2GB.

According to Human Rights Campaign, an ally is:

… someone who is supportive of LGBT people. It encompasses non – LGBT allies as well as those within the LGBT community who support each other.

So, that’s it. An ally is someone who is supportive of LGBTQ+ people. Pretty simple. Allies are crucial to the LGBTQ+ community and it’d be great if we could all support each other: cis – gender people standing up for trans people, etc.

 

When you have a habit of catastrophising and always thinking the worse, having people I can be myself around is really important. It’s crucial really. I think we owe a debt to those who supported us during the same – sex marriage debate last year. We’re also going to need them to make sure rights of LGBTQ+, particularly anti – discrimination protections, are not watered down.

At least six out of the seven million who voted in favour of same – sex marriage last year would have been straight. That’s over six million people who think that LGBTQ+ people should be free to love and have that love recognised like straight couples under Australian law. This is huge.

There were media personalities who were great allies during the campaign. These included Mamamia founder, Mia Freedman and the panel on The Project. No, they aren’t perfect, (the Margaret Court “interview” was a train wreck, in my opinion and what Freedman said about Josh Manuatu on Twitter in 2016 was uncalled for). But they lent their voices to support members of the LGBTQ+ community who were calling for change to marriage laws to include LGBTQ+ people (now sex nor gender is a determining factor of who can get married in the law). Paul Murray from Sky’s Paul Murray Live was also a great ally. He consistently (more than others in the media, I’ve got to say), called out extremists in the “No” campaign, as well as calling out those on the “Yes” side.

These people, including some in my personal life, made the campaign a tiny bit more bearable.

Allies were also great before the same – sex marriage debate took full swing. Family and friends I’ve come out to have been awesome. One of them was really, really sweet. It was great to know that our relationship wouldn’t be affected negatively in any way. It’s great to know you’re unconditionally loved by them. It’s also great that most of these people are open about their support.

That’s what I’d say to allies. If you support the LGBTQ+ community, if you can, please be open about it. Let LGBTQ+ people in your life know that they are safe to be themselves around you. We’re not mind readers. For those who are, I love you.

What does ally mean to you? What do you want any allies to know? Leave your thoughts below in the comments. 

 

 

After the revelation about Barnaby Joyce, stop being hypocritical about the LGBTQ+ community

It’s been revealed that Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader, Barnaby Joyce has fathered a child that was born from an affair.

Now, I’ve agonised about whether I should write this because I do kind of agree that it’s a private matter and his family shouldn’t be dragged through the mud so publicly.

Having said that, to be honest, I was and am pissed off about this. Joyce was a vocal opponent of same – sex marriage last year. He did end up abstaining when everything hit the fan, but that’s beside the point.

While the final result was a win for the LGBTQ+ community, the same – sex marriage debate was taxing. It did open many LGBTQ+ people up to threats of violence and online abuse, not to mention flashbacks to past abuse and feelings of self – hatred, fear and low self – esteeem. All because of the so – called ‘sanctity of marriage’.

Look, I never, EVER want to hear or read the terms ‘sanctity of marriage’ ever again! For too long it’s given people a licence to treat LGBTQ+ people like dirt. It was a shield for people who didn’t have the guts to admit that they opposed LGBTQ+ people entirely or saw themselves as morally superior because they’re straight.

Well, enough!

No LGBTQ+ are not a harm to children! You know what has proven to negatively affect children? Divorce.

Split wedding cake signifying divorce
Image: iStock

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, many children can be negatively affected by divorce, including in the long – term. Children of divorce run the the risk of having a lower education level and are more at risk of becoming sexually active at a younger age. They also run the risk of living in poverty if the main custody is granted to the mother.

It should be noted that the AIFS also says how it affects the children and their ability to be resilient, largely depending on how the separation is carried out by the parents (conflict exposure, etc).

A study by a reputable source has proven that divorce can put children at risk. No reputable studies, however, has proven that LGBTQ+ people, including same – sex parents has the same or similar negative effects. (The so – called ‘studies’ that did ‘prove’ that children of same – sex parents were worse off all fell apart when peer reviewed).

This is what I was reluctant to write. I know that some relationships are toxic and sometimes a separation or divorce is the healthiest choice for everyone involved. While i think we should talk about the impact of divorce and family separation  more, I don’t want to demonise single parents or those who have recently separated. So please, if you’re a single parent, please don’t take this post as a condemnation.

For those who repeatedly moralise against the LGBTQ+ community, argued against same – sex marriage because of the ‘sanctity of marriage’, you are my target. At least be honest that you think LGBTQ+ people are somehow inferior morally or otherwise to straight people. At least be honest that you don’t or didn’t think that they should be offered the same legal protections that you and millions of others have taken for granted most (if not all) your adulthood.

 

No more hypocrisy. No more using children as pawns. in this war that you chose to wage against the LGBTQ+ community last year. On the plus side, many people didn’t buy it. That children would be harmed or that Stalin would rise from the dead!