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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#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.

International Women’s Day and… traffic lights and other trivialities.

So, it’s International Women’s Day. A day that is supposed to celebrate and advocate for women. But now, it’s turned into a trivial laughing stock, at least here in Australia. Example: the Andrews Labor Government of Victoria has this bright idea (sarcasm in case you didn’t know) about changing traffic lights across Melbourne because they allegedly spark an “unconscious bias”. I kid you not. These things are causing sexist attitudes, apparently.

Design

Memo to the Andrews Government, women do wear pants, you know!

Secondly, the ABC has come up with the idea that today, all the news, current affairs and radio stations are filled with all women. Men, apparently, get the day off. Now, I’ve talked in the past about women in the media and controversies that have occurred over the years about women over a certain age (usually 40’s and above), being replaced by younger women or men. I understand why that ruffled feathers, although, luckily, I haven’t been hearing about that happening lately. But what does this achieve, really? Supposedly it all will go back to normal tomorrow anyway.

It’s this sort of trivial garbage that scares millennial women off feminism. Feminism doesn’t seem to be about fighting for equality anymore, nor is it about confronting issues facing women either here or abroad. For example, former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin has repeatedly condemned underage girls who get married off to older men in some Muslim communities. Child marriages have also known to happen in the U.S. as recently as 2010 and, while it’s “rare”, Pew Research acknowledged that 5 in every 1,000 of girls between fifteen and seventeen. While rare, as of 2016, it is legal in all American states. In most states, 16 and 17 – year – old teenagers can marry and in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,  children can marry as young as 12. In some states, such as Florida, a minor can get a court’s permission to marry if a party is pregnant. Fortunately, last year, Virginia finally outlawed the practice. Let’s hope other states follow suit soon. As for Australians, migrants, as well as citizens need to know it’s condemned here. Every time it happens, the perpetrators need to be prosecuted legally and face fierce criticism by society.

The issue of domestic violence is raised quite a bit. We should stick to that – make sure that there are adequate services to help women (and men) leave abusive marriages and relationships. But then again, this issue has also been hijacked by ideologues and conflicting claims about the rate often takes all the time, rather than funding services. Case in point from a few years ago:

Not to mention that domestic violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is rarely discussed by women who claim to be “feminists”, including those in the media. Not to mention the ignorance around Keysar Trad’s comments a few weeks ago on “The Bolt Report”. Look, domestic violence needs to be condemned. All of it. Full stop. No ideology, religious, political or otherwise should stop us from condemning domestic or other violence and helping victims find safety and justice.

There is a lot that young girls face too. When I was researching for my last blog post, I was horrified at the number of links to stories surrounding severe  abuse of young girls I found. And that doesn’t take into account atrocities like female genital mutilation (FGM), which happens in the West too, by the way. A few days ago, wrote about the horrific number of trans women that have been murdered in the U.S. this year alone – and we’re not even a quarter into the year yet. More globally, Saudi Arabia has come under the spotlight when it was reported that two Pakistani trans women were beaten and tortured to death by Saudi police. Saudi police has since acknowledged that two trans women died in custody, but denies that they were tortured.

 

These sorts of issues are what should be talked about on a day like International Women’s Day – plus a lot more I didn’t mention that affect both cis women and trans women around the world. Society doesn’t need more token gestures by feminists for anyone else, for that matter. We need real change, both here and around the world. Unfortunately, I think culture wars and a lack of honesty prevents us from getting done what needs to be done to help women and their loved ones. I’m starting to get sick of it. Can we all forget the tokenism, forget political correctness and work out ways to help ALL people achieve their potential and live their lives in safety and fulfilment?

 

So, what do you think? Have you/ are you doing anything for International Women’s Day? Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments section.