trans rights

Stop Homophobic Bullying – LGBTQIA Rights as Human Rights

Photo of 6 hands touching, each painted a different rainbow colourby Nina Verfaillie

Over the past few years media outlets from around the world have covered the ongoing harassment of the LGBTQIA community through homophobic and transphobic bullying. The stories of homophobic and transphobic bullying appear nearly every day publicizing the stories of different victims and their individual and collective experiences of harassment and disenfranchisement.

Transphobic and homophobic bullying are clear examples of how discriminatory acts of harassment and violence speak to the base vulnerabilities of us all, and violate an individual’s basic rights.

The effects of bullying are well documented. We hear about the obvious suffering and torture of individuals bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We hear documented struggles of families to find recourse and justice in their communities, schools, places of employment and courts of law. These narratives demonstrate how often bullying is documented and reported and also how consistently it is ignored, ill-handled and in some cases supported or even committed by our community leaders.

In a 2011 study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an overwhelming majority of LGBT students reported being harassed for their gender identity or sexual orientation. The study revealed that 81.9% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students reported being verbally harassed, 38.3% reported being physically harassed and 18.3% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

That means that 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school. LGBT students are 2 to 3 times more bullied than straight hetero-normative students and LGBT teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide. That figure doubles for LGBT youth who have been rejected by their families.

The effects of bullying are damaging enough without taking into consideration what it’s like to identify with and be part of a group where being bullied because of your specific identity is a dominant experience. LGBT bullying is frequently linked with suicide and depression. There are increased reports of victims engaging in risky sexual and drug-related activities as well as experiencing social adjustment issues and other long-term health concerns. In a school environment being bullied interferes with a student’s ability to learn and perform well and can impact the ability to graduate, find a job or have a career.

Without legal protections enforced through legislative mechanisms and support and participation from academic institutions, homophobic and transphobic bullying will persist and continue to threaten human rights as a whole. Bullying and harassment that specifically targets the LGBTQIA community is a human rights issue and failure to effectively combat and prevent discriminatory bullying based on gender and sexual identities threatens all of us. The absence of justice and victims’ rights cultivates an acceptance of gender and sexual violence and the selective and therefore ineffectual enforcement of human rights and civil protections.

Human rights are the universal fundamental rights of all human beings, inalienable from the human condition. These rights are the expressed embodiments of our shared dignity as people which are to be protected, guaranteed and enjoyed.

Human rights are understood to be the same for everyone. They are intertwined in both conception and practice. Individual human rights are dependent upon each other in order to be fully protected or accessed, and no one right is fully enjoyed without the same protections and guarantees afforded to provide the enjoyment of all rights. They are held through their universality and each individual right is an expression of a larger notion of the rights of us all and the explicit dignities of personhood. Read more

Posted on by Nina Verfaillie in LGBT Leave a comment

My Feminism Will Be Trans-Inclusive

Trans flagby Jarrah Hodge

I have joined at least 200 other feminists in signing on to A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism. The statement was crafted in response to a summer that saw several high-profile instances of feminist transphobia, including:

“the forthcoming book by Sheila Jeffreys from Routledge; the hostile and threatening anonymous letter sent to Dallas Denny after she and Dr. Jamison Green wrote to Routledge regarding their concerns about that book; and the recent widely circulated statement entitled “Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of ‘Gender,’”signed by a number of prominent, and we regret to say, misguided, feminists have been particularly noticeable.”

This is all happening in an already hostile climate for trans people, including persistent mis-gendering of Chelsea Manning and continuing murders of trans people, particularly trans women of colour.

I’d encourage people to read the statement in its entirety and to sign on here, but I’m also excerpting a portion for this post. Thanks so much to the people who took the initiative to write this thoughtful statement and to the moderators going through the deluge of comments and signatures.

We, the undersigned trans* and cis scholars, writers, artists, and educators, want to publicly and openly affirm our commitment to a trans*-inclusive feminism and womanism.

[...]

We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

(full credit to Flavia Dzodan for writing the article the title alludes to: “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or It Will Be Bullshit”, and specifically for her work supporting trans-inclusive feminism).

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 1 Comment

The Dads Left Out of Father’s Day Marketing

IMG_1906by Jarrah Hodge

I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, but in particular, to the dads that are left out of the mainstream Father’s Day marketing. Let’s take a look at who those dads are:

Gay Dads:

How many cards do you see on the Hallmark shelves that let you send best wishes to both your moms or dads for Mother’s or Father’s day? The answer would be none. This year South Carolinian Kristiana Johnston started a Change.org petition to change that but so far the company has no plans on the books.

And if we really want to celebrate all fathers, how about taking a minute today to support gay parents’ right to marry and adopt their kids? Freedom to Marry and the Campaign for Southern Equality have put together this video about two North Carolinians who aren’t allowed to have their marriage recognized in their home state, or to adopt their four foster kids.

Read more about 8 gay families celebrating Father’s Day this year at the Freedom to Marry website.

Trans Dads:

Whether you identify as “Maddy” like Jennifer Finney Boylan, as a woman who is also a father, a man who is pregnant or has given birth, or a trans man who is parenting in any other way, Happy Father’s Day. As the author of the genderqueer Tumblr says: “These families are unique, and unique families have to be strong and loving to make it in our society.”

Dads of Colour:

Main image on Hallmark.com for Father's Day

Main image on Hallmark.com for Father’s Day

The lack of positive representations of dads of colour, immigrant dads and multiracial families in pop culture reinforces how we think of fathers and Father’s Day. Along with the dated ideal of masculinity we see in Father’s Day cards and advertisements comes an image of the father as white. Today on 123greetings.com, every single Father’s Day e-card that showed a dad depicted that dad as white.

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism 1 Comment

Sipping Tea with Candy

by Matilda Branson

“Hello madame, how are you? Which country you from?”

This is a pretty common phrase I hear when, on my days off, I get my rubber-necking tourist persona on around Kathmandu, taking in the sites, amazing temples and general hustle and bustle of what can be frankly a bloody crazy city.

Often, I’ll tend to ignore these repetitive cries from locals, as they inevitably lead to my being implored to buy their Tiger Balm or mini Buddha statuettes. This time though, the biggest concern for the day, as I wandered around with a traveller buddy of mine, was what to have for lunch – so, I decided to give this local guy the time of day.

After finding out what I did (“where you live? What you do? How long in Nepal?”), and that I work with a minority (Dalit women), he told my friend and I about himself quite openly (with the added, “Call me Candy*”) – that he was formerly involved in the Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) community and identified as transgender. But now he has a young son and family and fears discrimination against his son, so lives a “normal” Nepali life, and only cross-dresses on special occasions. Then Candy asked my friend and me home for a cup of tea with his family. Read more

Posted on by Matilda Branson in LGBT 1 Comment

I AM: Trans People Speak

Cool new PSA from the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and sponsored by GLAAD to raise awareness about the diversity of transgender communities. People can submit their own stories and there will be longer interview videos online here.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT 5 Comments

Oddee Tries to Make a Sideshow out of Trans People

I logged into Facebook yesterday and saw a link re-post by one of my favourite blogs, Neatorama. The link they were sharing was to a story called “10 Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)” (they rate it NSFW). Being that Gender Focus tries to cover trans rights issues as much as possible, I clicked on the link, thinking I would find an empowering piece that would help give some examples of semi-famous trans people who are living in their chosen gender.

Then I saw the site that was hosting the article: Oddee. Oddee’s “About” page tells you almost all you need to know:

Oddee™ is an entertainment blog on oddities, attracting well over two million unique visitors each month. Focused on the odd, bizarre and strange things of our world, its daily articles and sections explore subjects from Science to Advertising and Technology; over 15 million pages are read at Oddee™ every month.

The idea to profile some prominent trans people isn’t a problem, and it’s great that Oddee pointed out that they’re all successful individuals. But for a site to do it whose purpose is cataloging the “odd, bizarre and strange things of our world” is offensive and out-of-touch. Trans people are people, not “strange things”. The thing I question is whether this type of article helps cis people gain any understanding and acceptance of what it means to be trans. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT, Pop Culture 4 Comments

Video: Stuff Cis People Say to Trans People

The Bay Area group TransFix came out with this video of stuff cis people say to trans people – another one of the few progressive responses to the Shit Girls Say meme. Enjoy!

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT 1 Comment