How To Not Be A Complete Douchecanoe To Gender Variant People: Pronouns Edition


We’re going to have to get something out of the way before I start this: I didn’t watch the Eurovision this year. Or last year. I think the last time I saw it was either three or four years ago. It was a perfectly pleasant experience, although I generally rather my rare moments of alcohol-induced patriotism come with less Jedward. What I’m getting at here is that while I completely understand the appeal of camp spectacle and national pride, I was perfectly content with my own decision to spend the evening knocking my friends (and bare acquaintances) over in stinky skate gear. We all have our hobbies, y’know?

I have gathered from the internet that this person likes to sing songs and also have fabulous hair on her face as well as on her head.

Anyhoo, even from where I was sitting it was impossible to miss that this year’s winner (or at least, the person everyone’s talking about) is Conchita Wurst. Unable to resist a palaver, I gave ‘er a google and a watch. Aside from having a daycent song (if you like that kind of thing, which I do), Wurst also presents as strikingly gender-variant. And also just plain striking (those eyes!). And while most people are cheerfully (and accurately) exclaiming about how great she is, there’s also the loudmouths who seem to have missed out on how to deal courteously and calmly with the fact that there exist people on this planet whose genders aren’t immediately apparent to bystanders.

This post is for them.

A little note before we start: I, your friendly blogger, am cis. This post is by me. If you read this and then talk to someone who’s not cis and they disagree with me, then for the love of all that’s cute and fluffy listen to them and don’t you dare refer to me to argue with them because I am significantly more likely to be wrong than they are.

That said, let’s go on.

Panic, Chaos, Dogs And Cats Living Together, Nothing In My Life Has Prepared Me For This!

And with that, here’s your friendly message directing you to the Tea Cosy’s new home for the rest of the post. See you there!

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CeCe McDonald is free.


CeCe McDonald is free. Finally, Cece McDonald is free.

If you haven’t heard of CeCe, here’s the deal: She’s been in prison since 2011 for killing a man in self-defence. And not the kind of self-defence where you think someone’s looking at you funny or walking around the place carrying suspicious Skittles so you shoot them point-blank and get away scot-free. This is the other kind of self-defence, where you’re walking down the street and a group of people attack you because they don’t like people of your race and gender walking down the street. Where when you attempt to walk away they smash bottles against your face, leaving you permanently scarred and with a severed saliva gland. And when you defend yourself with a scissors from your bag, you kill your attacker. Where, when the case goes to court, neither your attacker’s three previous convictions for violent assault nor his swastika tattoo are considered admissible evidence of his violent, racist disposition, but a motion to impeach your evidence because you once wrote a bad check is admitted.

That’s the kind of self defence where, if you’re a black trans woman, you are sentenced to 41 months in a men’s prison and, as a bonus, are forced to pay for your attacker’s funeral.

I’ve been thinking about womanhood. How my cis white womanhood protects me, while CeCe’s black trans womanhood made her a target.

My cis white womanhood grants me invisibility and the presumption of a kind of vulnerability deserving of protection. If I had been in that courtroom, there would have been no question that I acted in self-defence. A white, cis woman with a scissors in her bag? Sure, don’t women carry everything around with them? Insert handbags joke here, before carrying on. But black trans womanhood gets no such leeway, instead pointed out at every moment as other, as deviant, as a wild card and a threat.

If I had been in that courtroom, there would have been no question but that I acted in self defence. But with my cis white womanhood, I would never have been in that courtroom. I would never have been in that courtroom to defend my defence of my own life because with my cis white womanhood me and my friends would have walked past that bar and arrived home entirely, or at least relatively, unmolested. We might have rolled our eyes about the loudmouth asshats in the bar we passed, and then someone would have passed me a beer and we would’ve forgotten all about it. White cis women are no strangers to violence, but there are kinds of violence, kinds of punishment for existing, that cisness and whiteness protect us from.

Because womanhood when mitigated by whiteness and cisness translates into our world as small, unthreatening, mostly harmless, and a person who (publicly) attacked me would be seen as a monster. White cis women’s anger is called whininess, nagginess, bitchiness because it is seen as an annoyance, not a threat. But womanhood, when compounded by transness and blackness translates into our world as perverse, deviant, a simultaneous weakness and threat to everything heteronormativity holds dear. A person who attacks a black trans woman- provoked or not- is not seen as a monster. They are seen as defending themselves from monsters.

Every part of CeCe’s experience- from her initial unprovoked attack, to her unjust trial, to the further humiliation of being incarcerated in a men’s prison- played out the way it did because of this culture-wide dehumanisation and monstering of black trans women. She was punished, punished again, and punished a third time for this crime. And make no mistake- it was all of these things, the combination of these things, the way that each one twists our perception of the others to push a person further and further into something other, that led to her punishments.

CeCe McDonald spent two and a half years in jail for having the unmitigated gall to defend herself from an unprovoked attack. CeCe McDonald spent two and a half years in jail for surviving. CeCe McDonald is free.

 

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Why I Won’t Be Hosting David Rovics


This is a guest post by Jen O’Leary- although, as you can see below, it’s cosigned by me and several others. Jen had been planning to host David Rovics for an upcoming gig in Dublin this month. Here is her explanation for why she no longer feels able to do so.

If you’d like to cosign, let me know in the comments or via my Twitter or Facebook and I’ll add your name. And I strongly encourage people to share this one- I feel it’s important that a strong message be sent to Rovics about showing respect for trans people’s identities and dignity. On to Jen:

Why I won’t be hosting David Rovics.

On the 17th December, David Rovics’ Facebook pages posted an automated status marking Chelsea Manning’s birthday. However, the post referred to Chelsea Manning by her old name which she has explicitly asked not to be referred by. Not only did David Rovics refuse to edit his scheduled post to reflect Chelsea’s stated wishes, but he proceeded to insist that the text of the post was a “statement of fact” and published the following comment: “Was Chelsea Manning born that day? No”.

David says he does not see how his words are disrespecting to Chelsea’s wishes. However, by insisting he’s right, he is disrespecting not only Chelsea, but by extension, the wider Transgender Community.

David Rovics says that Chelsea Manning is his hero, yet he refuses to amend his words which have the potential to hurt her by validating the treatment which she is currently being subjected to by the state. Before the court-martial even began, Chelsea Manning was imprisoned for three years and for over nine months of that period, she was subjected to inhumane conditions, including solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and stripping naked in front of prison guards.

Chelsea Manning has also been refused hormone therapy and surgery related to transition. She was sentenced to 35 years in an all-male prison, in violation of her rights as a trans woman. She is facing years of imprisonment in an environment that is hostile and dangerous to queer people. Transgender people in prisons face difficult struggles and are often forced to do time in solitary under the guise of being “for their own safety”, or get housed in protective custody which means restricted socialisation, meal times, and recreational times. David Rovics is at best ignoring the associated risks to Chelsea, and at worst reinforcing them.

Our main goal, as activists, has to be to get Chelsea Manning out of prison, but we also need to fight for her rights while she is in prison. If Chelsea Manning’s own allies continue to misgender her, this makes the fight to convince the state of her rights much harder.

For this reason, I no longer intend to host David Rovics for his Dublin gig on the 16th January. We have a responsibility to Chelsea Manning and to the trans community to support them in all aspects of their lives and we call on David to apologise and act as a strong advocate for Chelsea and trans people everywhere.

Please contact David Rovics either by email, or through his Twitter or Facebook pages, to ask him to edit his post and issue an apology.

Signed

Jen O’Leary

Beth Flanagan
Yemi
Aidan Rowe
Aoife FitzGibbon O’Riordan
Francis O’Reilly
Kiran Emrich
Audrey Bryan
Paul McAndrew
Michelle Hamilton (Glasgow)
Jen Dalton
Caroline Mitchell-Scriver
Allison Grant
Eve Campbell
Margaret Stuart
Steve Garrett
Wendy Lyon
Bas Ó Curraoin

Gender Recognition, Feminism, Intolerance, and Food Poverty. Linkspam!


A few things I think everyone should be reading today:

Why society still needs feminism

Just in case you were wondering:

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

..Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

..Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

And also, yeah, nobody burns their bras. Not on purpose, anyhow.

Poor little rich girl… Without the rich bit.

If you’re not reading Jack Monroe, you should be. I came for the cheap&tasty recipes, and stayed for the social commentary. And the recipes.

There’s a queer sort of juxtaposition that comes with Being Ms Jack Monroe at the moment.

I spent this afternoon emailing Councillors and other people regarding the recent decision to suspend my Housing Benefit claim based on the (incorrect) assumption that I am sitting on a £25k cheque from my publisher (I’m not) and am sitting on a pile of cheques from newspaper interview and TV appearances (I’m not).

But I was doing that, on the 1414 train from Southend Central to Fenchurch Street, as I’d just been invited to a fundraising dinner by a friend with a spare ticket, via the Soho Food Feast in Soho Square.

But it’s a queer kind of juxtaposition, when you have a beautiful dress to wear to dinner tonight, but on quick inspection of the shoe collection, decide that the soft chiffon dipped hem just won’t go with the shoes you were issued in the Fire Service, your brogues, or your one pair of trainers, so you hang it back in the wardrobe and decide you can’t justify buying a pair of shoes. Not even in the sale at Primark.

Transgender people seek State recognition to escape gender ‘limbo’

Orla Tinsley (who is excellent, by the way, and you should go follow her on Twitter immediately) has managed to do the impossible: write an article about trans* issues in a major national publication that isn’t going to get you a line, never mind a full house, on a trans* discussion bingo card.

Nineteen-year-old student Tyron (he wants to be identified only by his first name) says it is easier to be young and transgender today but the lack of legislation does enable discrimination. “It’s easier than it was and it’s becoming a more known term,” says theNUI Maynooth student, who is currently looking for a job to pay his way through college.

“In interviews I only bring up my gender identity if they want to contact a previous employer,” he says. “Of the last three job interviews, only one was willing to hire a transgender person. The other two said it was not suitable for their working environment.”

It is also extremely important that you click that link in order to admire the extremely stylish tie which Ben borrowed off me for the photo. Yeah, I know, it’s a serious topic. But that’s my tie in the Irish Times!

Is intolerance prevalent in Ireland?

Aileen Donegan- another person with an excellent blog and twitter to follow- in TheJournal. Bet you guess the answer before you click. This, by the way, is a brilliant example of why we need to Shut Up And Listen when we’re privileged. Because otherwise we just don’t see whats going on.

As recently as April I asked a friend ‘Is racism big in Ireland?’ We were attending the same training course on hate speech. I guess my innocent question caught him off guard: ’Yes Aileen, racism is a hugeproblem in Ireland,’ he said with a tone of awe and surprise that offended me. Though Ireland, my home, has never seemed intolerant to me, the last week in news has given me some much-needed insight into Irish attitudes.

…The ECRI quote a disturbing statistic from the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study, which states that 7.6 per cent of Traveller families have no access to running water. Resistance from local residents, and the “lack of political will” of local authorities are cited as reasons why Traveller accommodation is difficult to attain in Irish society. This is hardly surprising. Remember when local residents set fire to a house that Travellers were set to live in?

(By the way? Don’t Read The Comments.)

Disabled man refused entry to nightclub after Scottish Charity Awards

Didja hear the one about the guy who had the police called on him for the crime of trying to get into a nightclub while disabled?

Actor Robert Softley Gale, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, attempted to enter the Polo Lounge in Glasgow with his husband Nathan Gale after attending the Scottish Charity Awards with the Equality Network.

They claim that the bouncers informed them that they could not enter because the nightclub didn’t have disabled facilities.

Despite the couple explaining that they wanted to enter the popular gay nightclub anyway, they say staff continued to refuse to allow them to enter.

“The manager came and said that they didn’t have disabled facilities so they weren’t letting us in,” Nathan told TFN. “We said, you can’t not let us in just because we’re disabled, that’s a violation of the Equality Act, but he still wouldn’t let us in.”

Charming. Oh, and Robert Softley Gale is yet another person to follow on Twitter. You guys, it’s all about the Twitter today. And speaking of disability and ableism, have something from Captain Awkward:

#487: I use a wheelchair, and people are condescending as fuck.

Dear Captain Awkward:

I’m woman in my late 30s who uses a power wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes severe physical fatigue.

Often, strangers – retail staff, waitstaff, members of the general public – assume that because I use a power wheelchair, I have an intellectual disability. I don’t. I have a university degree and I read widely.

How should I respond to people:

– talking loudly to me;
– talking to me in a sing-song voice;
– being condescending/patronizing;
– calling me love/sweetie;
– telling me that I remind them of their 12 year old daughter with Down syndrome;
– praising me for putting rubbish in a rubbish bin as though I’ve won a gold medal at the Olympics;
– telling me that you eat cupcakes?

Signed,

Smart Crip Girl

You know that you want to hear what the Captain has to say.

A Racist B&B?

Speaking of intolerance, Tara Flynn’s husband got an unpleasant reminder that Ireland isn’t above blatant racism lately. Here’s what happened then:

On a recent trip home, I got a reminder that Ireland Of The Welcomes can be conditional.  By now very familiar with Kinsale, my husband offered to take the dog out for his last walk of the night. I sat chatting with my mum. 20 minutes later, my husband returned. He looked angry. “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been called those names in a while.” A group of young people standing outside a bar in the centre of town had shouted racist epithets at him. Some of those epithets have made it into my clip but we’ve decided to cover them with sound effects. They’re just too vile. They are shocking in the abstract and absolutely horrifying when applied to someone I love. In my hometown. In 2013.

My husband is a tolerant person. He just stared the namecallers down and they – like most cowards – shut up when faced with this silent challenge. He tried to laugh it off in the re-telling, saying it wasn’t his first time and that he’d heard worse. But that’s not the point.  I was mortified. Stunned. Fuming.

So I wrote a sketch about it.

 

One more thing

That’s all the links I’ve got for ya, but one more little thinglet before I go. Nominations have just opened for 2013’s Irish Blog Awards! Now, I’m not saying that you should immediately go and nominate me- I’m far too Irish for that sort of carry-on. Although I’ll admit that I do like getting the chance to dress up fancy and eat free canapes and photobomb legit fancy people. But shure have a think about who your favourite Irish bloggers are- I’m lookin’ at you, Geoff’s Shorts– and give a nomination to the people who deserve a bit of recognition. Remember: attention is to bloggers what money is to everyone else.

STAD: Stop Transphobia and Discrimination


The Irish for ‘STOP’ is ‘STAD’.

Transphobic harassment and violence is endemic in Ireland. People are harassed and abused at home, in public, at work, in school and college. But it’s also largely invisible and unreported, and problems that you can’t see are notoriously hard to deal with.

The Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) are doing something about that. Their latest campaign is STAD: Stop Transphobia and Discrimination. STAD’s purpose is to map transphobic hate crime in Ireland. They want to know what is happening, to who, and where.

If you have experienced abuse because of your perceived gender identity or expression, or if you have witnessed someone being abused, let TENI know. It doesn’t matter if the incident was major or (seemingly) minor. Microaggressions matter too, people. TENI need to know about it all, because this is the information that they- and we– can use to create strategies and plans for ending our society’s shameful abuse and brutalisation of its transgender members.

You can report incidents online, over the phone, or on paper. TENI are looking for reports both from victims and witnesses of transphobic abuse. It’s anonymous. It’s safe.

I’m sick and tired of stories of violence. I’m sick and tired of people I love- and people I think are okay, and people I honestly couldn’t stand, and people I’ve never met and never will- being brutalised and shamed and belittled and laughed at and pointed out and ostracised and hurt and killed and driven to mental illness and suicide and pain, because of their gender and how they express it. It’s gone on too damn long. It’s been too damn accepted. It’s got to stop.

Now.

So get off your ass, bookmark STAD and every single time you experience or see transphobic violence? Report it.

 

Help Kate Stay Alive


kateb

I’m not American. I don’t tend to throw around words like ‘heroes’ when I speak about the people I admire- it’s a word that seems clunky and ill-fitting to me.

If I did, though, Kate Bornstein would be one of them. Not just for her writing and her work- although those are immensely valuable and important. For who she is. For the genuine interest she takes in the people around her. For her warmth, her openness, and the love and community she embodies. While we don’t agree on absolutely everything- on the other hand, who the hell agrees with someone on everything?- she is one of the most genuinely engaging people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet. I’m immensely privileged to call her a friend.

Kate needs your help.

She’s suffering from lung cancer. It’s treatable. Getting through the treatment and compensating for the money she won’t be earning is going to cost her about $100,000.

Nobody should ever have to look for money for medical treatment. Medicine is a right, damnit. The fact that someone I care about who has given so goddamn much to our community has to ask for help in accessing the  life-saving treatment she needs and keeping a roof over her head when she does it? It is wrong. This shouldn’t be happening. Everyone, whether famous or unknown, rich or poor, admirable or asshole, should be able to get the treatment and support they need without question.

This shouldn’t be happening, but it is.

If you can spare anything- anything, even a couple of eurodollarpounds- please go to her fundraiser and donate what you can. If you can’t spare money, please share and spread the word.

Kate has helped so many of us to stay alive. Please, right now, return the favour.

Stonewall messed up. Let’s fix it.


Stonewall have just released a new guide for parents who think their kids may be LGB. Called So you think your child is gay?, it’s chock-full of the same erasure of the right-hand-side of the LGBT acronym we’ve come to expect from Stonewall.

I’m not sure what I’m more angry about. Is it the fact that, a decade or so after the rest of us have moved on, Stonewall steadfastedly refuse to drag themselves into the late-20th century and update their acronym to LGBT? Or is it the fact that, despite grudgingly including the B, they insist on using the word ‘gay’ throughout this booklet, throwing in an “or lesbian” or an “or bisexual” just enough to remind the rest of us that they are veguely aware of our existence while still blithely ignoring any and all specific issues that LB people or our friends and families might have? It’s like intersectionality never happened. Then again, since intersectionality did happen, it’s perfectly okay to be angry about both kinds of erasure in distinct and special ways.

I want to do more than be angry, though. I think it’s time for the Ls, Bs, Ts, Qs and As among us to put our money where our great big loud mouths are. All LGBTQ kids and their families and friends deserve equal recognition of their needs, identities and the distinct issues that might come up for them.

I’d like to make an updated version of this booklet that’s inclusive of the rest of us. I’m even willing to give it to Stonewall- for free- to distribute, just as long as they let anyone else who wants to do the same.

But I can’t do this alone. I’m a big loudmouthed bi and queer activist. I can’t speak for trans* kids or ace kids or any of the rest of you. I can’t even speak for bi/pan guys and most genderqueer folks! But I know that you lot can.

Were you a kid or teen who came out, or wanted to come out, as something? Or a kid who didn’t know what the hell to come out as? Are or were you the parent of a kid who came out? Or the friend? What were the questions that you or your family/friends had?

Tell me! Either here in the comments or by email at considertheteacosy at gmail dot com, if you’re not comfortable sharing with everyone. Let’s fix Stonewall’s erasure and make sure that all LGBTQ kids and their families are heard.