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All posts for the month June, 2013

Pause 4 thought, do we need gay Pride?

Published June 27, 2013 by Katy J Went

Channel 4 TV’s pause 4 thought… “we do not need gay pride because the values that gay society or gay festivals spread and seek to inject into society are detrimental… Homosexuality in its purest form meaning if everyone were homosexual would mean annihilation of mankind. Ultimately the consequences in society where homosexuality is prevalent is that such society becomes ripe for the judgement of God. God does not approve of homosexuality, that is very clear, that is beyond doubt.”, South London Christian bookshop proprietor. http://www.4thought.tv/themes/do-we-still-need-gay-pride/johannes-weidenmuller

Comments like this are WHY we need LGBT Pride. Not all religious people agree with Weidenmuller’s interpretation of God’s view. Certainly Sarah McCulloch, a bisexual Jewish woman, believes we need Pride and faiths can adapt. You can’t choose your sexuality but you can choose your faith. http://www.4thought.tv/themes/do-we-still-need-gay-pride/sarah-mcculloch

Whilst in London and the UK and many other nations, Pride is a celebration and progression towards greater equality such as marital rights, some see the need to remember the movement’s political roots and be more activist on behalf of nations where homosexuality or trans expressions are illegal even mortal risks. Places such as Iran, Nigeria, Uganda, and now Russia once more as it clamps down of gay education and Russian LGBT Prides.

“Bisi Alimi was brutally attacked and beaten because of his sexuality in his native Nigeria. Living in London, he is overwhelmed by the openness of the gay community, but thinks that the Pride movement needs to sacrifice the annual party in favour of a return to its political roots.” http://www.4thought.tv/themes/do-we-still-need-gay-pride/bisi-alimi

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Rainbow search on Google for gay marriage, Pride and some LGBT terms

Published June 27, 2013 by Katy J Went
Google’s search engine is celebrating LGBT Pride month again, the sixth year it has done so. The feature has been available all Pride month (the anniversary of June 1969’s Stonewall Riots) but people are only noticing it now after searching for “gay marriage” post the US Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8 rulings yesterday.
2013-look Google rainbow search box
The search box turns rainbow edged in a kind of Star Wars credits 3-d perspective way when certain LGBT keywords like ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’, ‘transsexual’, ‘transgender’, ‘homosexuality’, ‘queer’, ‘Stonewall’ are entered. If you type in ‘LGBT’ or ‘LGBTQ’ it works too, but not ‘LGBTI’ or ‘LGBTIQ’, nor ‘trans’ and ‘intersex’, so barring the trans keywords above it is very gay-centric. Drag queens are included but crossdressers and transvestites excluded. Gay or same-sex marriage trigger the search graphic change as does “marriage equality” but not “equal marriage” or “transgender marriage”.
2012-look Google rainbow search box
Mercifully for Christian creationists or anti-gay activists searching for “Noah’ ark” will also not turn your search world into a rainbow! Equally disappointed will be Judy Garland, Wizard of Oz “Somewhere over the rainbow” fans!
2011-look Google rainbow search box
It also works specifically for New York, London and Toronto Pride searches, but not Norwich Pride, though Google says it will activate the feature 7-10 days before major Prides, though Norwich’s 5th Pride this year may not qualify.
2010-look Google rainbow search bar
Google has previously stood against California’s anti-gay marriage act (Prop 8) and has contributed to the “It Gets Better” campaign for LGBT youth. Their San Francisco employees, baked a cake for the striking down of DOMA this month.
2009-look Google rainbow search bar
Some have called, however, for a full goodle, a Google doodle, rather than this hidden “easter egg” feature, on the basis that Google may be protecting themselves from homophobic and/or religious backlashes since the feature only appears for certain LGBT keyword searches.
2008 Google rainbow search ribbon
Back in 2011, a gay magazine hit back at critics saying Google “should be commended for doing anything at all. Google has led the tech industry in supporting our community, and the latest addition to its arsenal of inclusion is a welcome boost in the right direction” a spokesman for Instinct magazine told CNN.

Some might also argue that Google’s data snooping, tax avoidance etc does not make it the most ethical or equal-minded of companies, just one of the most fun. Try typing in “google gravity” and then hit “I’m Feeling Lucky” – wait a few seconds and…! Now go to www.mrdoob.com/projects/chromeexperiments/google-space/ … floaty, eh?

Intersex steps forward and backwards, and the LGTBI debate

Published June 25, 2013 by Katy J Went
Four subsequently discovered to be XY developing nation athletes but raised and appeared to be women from birth, had their internal ‘male’ testes removed and cosmetic surgery to conform to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) requirements after the London 2012 Olympics because they had shown abnormally high levels of testosterone.
 
Although the exact intersex condition has not been revealed 1-in-4500 or more may be affected by this occurrence. As many as 1-in-100 may have some kind of medical intersex condition. Alternative allosome combinations can be XYY, XXY, XXX, XXXX, XXXXX or XXYY, among other possibilities. I know people who discovered they were XXY in their 30s only when seeking IVF after unaided fertility was not possible. I’ve similar friends and contacts with variants such as XXXXY. Human diversity is endless so why are we stuck with a legal pseudobiological binary? Perhaps athletes should have golfer’s handicaps based on height and hormone/muscle levels and all genders could then compete together. Boxing already divides based upon weight and horseracing equalises rider mass with weights.
 

Professor Charles Sultan, head of hormonology at Montpelier University Hospital said: “These women are born with female genital organs… but they assume male characteristics at puberty with considerable muscular development, a man‘s frame and a testosterone level similar to that of a man. They have the chromosome Y synonymous with masculinity. They can have 25% more muscular mass than their competitors.” (www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/482141/20130623/transgender-castrated-gender-reassignment-olympic-athletes.htm)

 
Professor Sultan’s statement is respectful on gender, still regarding these women as women but with some male/masculine/’similar to … a man’ characteristics, not even accepting the XY chromosome as detracting from their inherent female identity and nurture.
 
Meanwhile, some good news, intersex has for the first time been used in an international agreement in EU foreign policy:
 

“The acronym LGBTI describes a diverse group of persons who do not conform to conventional or traditional notions of male and female gender roles. LGBTI people are also sometimes referred to as ‘sexual, gender and bodily minorities’.”
“…The term intersex covers bodily variations in regard to culturally established standards of maleness and femaleness, including variations at the level of chromosomes, gonads and genitals.” (www.ilga-europe.org/home/news/for_media/media_releases/protection_of_lgbti_human_rights_officially_part_of_eu_foreign_policy)

The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union adopted the Guidelines To Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons, a legally binding document instructing EU institutions and Member States how to progress LGBTI  human rights when dealing with third countries and at international levels. Actions combating discriminatory laws and policies, LGBTI-phobic violence, and the promotion of equality and non-discrimination, are prioritised.
 
I have been active in getting the ‘I’ added to all LGBT groups I work with, the reluctance has not been from any public bodies, but rather the LGB elements, not wanting to “dilute” or “confuse” others! This is the same old argument that raged when Gay rights added first Lesbian, then Bisexual and most recently and reluctantly Trans rights. Gay politics has often been reticent to be seen to add the “weird” (and wonderful, IMHO) to their respectable middle class conformism after the early years of more outlandish and outrageous and generally just “out” activism. One group didn’t see the need to add the ‘I’ to any documents suggesting that those in the know knew LGBT included it, and those that didn’t need only be told it once and that the core acronym should remain unchanged, as if it had never changed before! 

I’ve written elsewhere about various groups suggesting a move towards MSGI (Minority Sexual & Gender Identities) or GSD (Gender & Sexual Diversity)/SGD (Sex and/or Gender Diverse) acronyms. LGBT could indeed be seen to be “diluted” by further additions to the alphabet soup of LGGGBTTTIQQQ2SSCHHHHAAAAFOOPPPPNUU (by my last enumeration) letters, but no minority wants to be the bottom of the pile, the mere asterisk in LGBT*. I don’t have a perfect solution but I resent the resistance to the very debate. Personally, I often use LGB/TIQ to indicate the split between sexuality and gender diversity, for the two groups are not always in agreement. Here I use Queer in the modern alternative sense of non-conformist, Queergender which could be seen to embrace genderfluidity, as well as Androgyne, Neutrois and Ungendered identities and expressions.

Australia seems to be the nation to watch on intersex rights. For a decade or more it has had sex/gender non-specific birth certificates and passports. Now it is passing an intersex-inclusive Sex Discrimination Amendment bill. Some half-dozen nations support M/F/X passports including Australia and New Zealand. 

Another One Bites the Dust, why? RIP #chrisieedkins trans role model, parent, performer

Published June 14, 2013 by Katy J Went
Another One Bites the Dust, why? 😦 Chrisie Edkins, in many ways a confident trans role model and advocate, has passed away, circumstances as yet undisclosed. [update: it now appears this was suicide]

“Chrisie passed away in the early hours of Monday 12th June. There are no further details at this time. Her family have requested a period of time to privately mourn and grieve for their loss, after which, they will provide details of the funeral arrangements along with ways her friends and supporters can pay their respects”

Chrisie was a popular performer at many Prides including London 08/09, as well as being signed by modelling agencies Model Moi and All Image Solutions. This year she had offered to perform free at Prides worldwide.

She was nominated for inclusion in the International Transgender Historical Society’s Hall of Fame 2012/13 and 2013/14 classes.

She had appeared on the ITV This Morning and Trisha shows to talk about her transition and promote trans awareness.

Though brave, confident and transparent about her past life, and having been reported on in the Daily Mail and Echo, she was nonetheless as human and upset as the rest of us when media coverage got it wrong and portrayed her as something she was not.

Last year she tweeted:

“What makes life so good… knowing it ends so make the most of it as dead is on only certain thing.” (May 2012)

Here in the UK over a third of trans folk attempt to take their own lives, 80% think about doing so. In other countries such as Northern and Southern America those figures are higher still and transwomen in some countries are 49x more likely to get HIV. This week Greece has been rounding up transwomen on the pretext of sexual health and prostitution checks as if it were a fascist state of the late 1930s.Mental health issues will affect 1-in-4 of us, as I know myself, having attempted suicide on 3 occasions. Being trans may not be a mental illness but living with it can make you ill, and some choose the difficult path of exiting this world. Having lost 2 trans friends in the last year or so to unexpected physical illness, the loss is felt no less keenly, whatever the cause and my thoughts are with the family members left behind.To every trans person, or anyone else living a lie not a life, carpe diem, seize the day, enjoy the present, live life to the full, who nobody knows what tomorrow may bring.

RIP Chrisie x #chrisieedkins

PostScript
Some folk have thought it insensitive to use Another One Bites the Dust in the title, undeniably, it is. Death is offensive, insensitive, untimely, taboo and no respecter of persons. Chrisie’s death was a shock to me as the third trans friend’s death in 18 months. Less than 15 months ago was my third suicide attempt. Chrisie was a performed and singer, I can’t ask her now whether she’d appreciate the Queen song reference. That’s death for you!

Freddie Mercury himself was taken before his time. I was at Queen’s last ever full line-up concert at Knebworth in 1986 where a fan climbed a lighting rig tower to get a better view, just 2m from me, fell off and landed on another annoyed fan who stabbed him. The delay getting through the 120,000 strong crown led to his death. We were all held back for hours afterwards whilst the police looked for and eventually arrested 4 men.

I had a “suicide” playlist on my iPod – now renamed “depressed” as some were offended by it! Bohemian Rhapsody even appears on it based upon the lines, “I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all” which I listened to on repeat before one suicide attempt 4 years ago.  Tears for Fears, Mad World, “The dreams in which I’m dyin’ / Are the best I’ve ever had” also appears.