Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. #tdor
I acknowledge trans and gender diverse people have the same potential to contribute to society and economy as the broader population, are creative and lateral thinking generally, have great insight specifically into gender and therefore can assist in issues relating to gender such as #metoo and achieving 100% respect for women, every face, every place.
I say that on this day, not to deny or un-affirm the Trans Day of Remembrance. I say it to highlight the travesty of the loss. The huge contrast of people being murdered just because they of who they are when they had lives to live, dreams to realise and loved ones who cared highlights why we will always need to honour this day and make sure we get to a 20 November one year where no more names are added to those we have already lost.
I acknowledge the huge issues of intersectionality including with people of colour, newly arrived, TGD people in the sex industry to name but a few. I ask with humility how I can be a better ally to those TGD people with intersections beyond my own sense of identity and how we can work together more effectively to achieve more social justice and equity for all within the TGD community.
I ask on this day that trans and gender diverse people come together in strength and solidarity with our supportive families, partners and loved ones. I ask for existing allies to re-affirm that they are right next to us through good and bad and for new allies to learn and come on board. I ask for all allies to always consult with us on any point because we can offer the lived expertise to result in better win-win outcomes. We can get to that particular 20 November where there are no more names added more quickly and effectively when we are together in true equality and creating win-win solutions.
Our love and compassion will hold strong and we will achieve our aims. Peace and strength on this day.
So, 365 days ago, I woke up with much anxiety – yes, it is a year since the announcement of the postal survey.
I am happy for those who now have had their marriages that they could not previously have. I am happy for those who have had previously unrecognised marriages recognised. I remember when I received my passport that had an “F” 3 years ago and how that outside validation affirmed my inner validation of my being part of our communities. Now couples other than male or female are equally externally validated and their love is recognised – a very good thing.
All the same, I cannot celebrate this day. I am still reminded of the pain of my direct communities of identity, trans and bi, being sold out. I am reminded of those beyond my identity (multicultural, people of faith, people of colour, intersex for starters) who when I listen to them, say they have felt the same.
Note that word: listen.
We have an increasing crisis of how we do leadership in our communities where so many so-called leaders won’t listen in so many ways.
None of the so-called leaders who threw so many other people under the bus have changed their approach in the last 12 months. The power-players, careerists, pragmatists are still going about things the same way. Pragmatism always trashes the most vulnerable. (For pragmatism read lazy, brain-dead and gutless). Real leaders in social justice settings aim to level the playing field rather than keep the mountain steep and treacherous for the most marginalised to climb. They don’t think they have to listen to those marginalised voices when they are the ones crying out most loudly.
Re this one, I again acknowledge Rodney Croome as the only person with the integrity, self-honesty, authenticity and humility to admit the throwing people under the bus was wrong. As stated previously, I’ve had my differences with Rodney over the years; I also state strongly he has one thing that the sell-outs don’t have. I see the ability to connect to his heart and work in conjunction with his mind. I say the self-rationalising manipulative minds need to learn about listening to their hearts and we might start to get somewhere.
I still experience the same hypocrisy of lateral hostility, for example when non-bi types think they can dictate what goes into the bi section in an election wishlist and I have to fight like hell to get bi even mentioned at all. That they think they don’t have to listen to bi people when they are not bi or bi-specialist organisations is the depth of hypocrisy, yet some of these people really believe they are allies. Some write up bi policy papers and don’t even consult bi people – and get it very wrong. Seriously…
Before people say “bi and trans need to break away” – I say no. How come? Most of these so-called leaders are not listening to the grass roots of their own communities. I overwhelmingly meet cis gays and lesbians who want truly diverse and intersectional representation and quality leadership. I often think if the LGBTI leadership was one properly resourced organisation with clear values and a funded human resources department, most so-called leaders wouldn’t last 12 months before they had received 3 warnings on bullying and discrimination and then heard the words of Mr McMahon… “You’re fired!” While we need to work together, the problem with phrases like that is that they don’t talk about HOW we work together. So, let’s say: we work together with processes based on respect, equality, professionalism and always aiming for win-win solutions.
We have celebrity activists who think because they repeatedly post on social media that makes them leaders – no. To them I say learn to listen to your consciences, get some substance underneath yourselves, do some personal and professional development or get a job in marketing. Publicity for the sake of publicity is not leadership no matter what 21st century culture makes us believe.
I know many of those who fall short have had people talk to them in an effort to “call in.” I can sense strongly we are at a breaking point where we might start need to “call out.” Our communities will not achieve full equality while we continue to ignore elephants in the room – elephants that are crapping big time out one end and trumpeting loudly out the other. We cannot build on cracked foundations any longer and paper over cracks in the walls. It’s time for a re-blocking.
I look forward to people putting on their rainbow overalls and doing the reblocking with me.
So says Krusty the Clown’s father Rabbi Hymen Krustofsky (did you read that to yourself in his accent?) in the classic early “Simpsons” episode “Like Father, Like Clown.” Seriously, it’s a really important question when dealing with issues faced by discriminated-against groups in society and how to be an ally.
The AFLW is a good case in point. While the gist of the initiative is well and good and is getting (cisgender) women playing at a higher level than before, the idea has been and is being framed from a men’s perspective. The AFLW faces (unjustified) criticism because it’s “not the same” as the men’s style of playing. Male coaches now dominate womens’ teams. The male dominated AFL can’t look at their own unconscious bias as per the inadequacy of trans woman Hannah Mouncey’s treatment. It’s what happens when you don’t put the people in question in charge of their own destiny.
Interestingly, the late Trevor Grant, made similar comments on 3 CR on his show “What’s the Score, Sport?” re indigenous inclusion a few years ago. It’s all very well to have indigenous players; where are the indigenous coaches, administrators and board members?
I recently heard of an organisation that ran a panel discussion to promote trans and gender diverse issues. The cisgender facilitator apparently framed questions from her own point of reference meaning the trans people had to work harder to make their points. In positive contrast, (declaring any interest), as a trans person I had the joy of facilitating a panel of 3 trans and gender diverse people on a panel discussion earlier this year. Trans and gender diverse voices spoke about what we wanted and needed to say, rather than being reactive to tired old fictitious cisgender concerns. In plain language, the panel rocked it.
Similarly, who plays trans people in films, TV etc – and of course, trans people are best at playing trans people. We know there are scores of good TGD actors clamouring for work. Problem is, if the casting director and the script writer doesn’t look beyond their idea of what trans is and fail to empathise strongly with our needs, they can and most likely will cast the wrong performer.
In the same way, there is finally an increased focus on bisexual issues. Sadly, too many know-it-alls are rushing in without consulting bi people. I recently heard of someone who presented to a policy forum and said there were no differences between the needs of gays and lesbians compared to the needs of bisexuals. Seriously? I don’t know one bisexual who would agree with that. Did the presenter consult and listen – obviously not.
There’s lots of ideas on what makes a good ally. For me, it’s about asking people from the relevant group two questions. They are “what would you like us to do and what would you like us NOT to do?” Part of that means an ally needs to be humble. A true ally might need to put their ego aside, listen and learn. A true ally might need to share power and privilege rather than forcing their version of it onto other people.
And most of all, a true ally needs to let go of control and might not “be in charge here.” Remember the end of The Simpsons episode – the once-controlling Rabbi Krustofsky lovingly embraced Krusty as an equal. That’s a pretty good image to hold in mind. Go with it.
Happy Trans Day of Visibility to all trans and gender diverse people and families.
As I like to call this day, it is trans awesomeness day – because trans and gender diverse people are awesome. The amazing IT genius of Lynn Conway, the wisdom of Patrick Califia and the ability to communicate of Nevo Zesin are just 3 random of examples of awesomeness.
We are awesome that in a world that is locked into a deep chasm of binary thinking that we increasingly find ways to find the keys and unlock that door and be our authentic selves. We don’t have to be prominent or well-known like the 3 people above; just being ourselves is a triumph.
On this day I wish to thank those who support us, being supportive family members and allies generally. We need your support. We see this in the world context; in the Australian context, 2016 and 2017 were incredibly tough and stressful. The debacle on so many angles that was the postal survey may have finished but the after-effects remain. We are beginning to get back on our feet as some dust settles; all the same, a hand up will be needed. Check in with us individually and collectively: ask trans and gender diverse people what we would like (and not like) to happen. Walk with us and beside us, not in front of us.
Trans and gender diverse people are vital in achieving gender equity for all, not just ourselves. In this time of #metoo, our ability to move aside the artificial barriers that binary thinking creates will be hugely beneficial for assisting cisgender people whose lives are impacted negatively by toxic masculinity. May we work together to achieve total respect in relation to all aspects of gender.
We have seen over the longer term that we are more visible. Ten years ago barely any trans and gender diverse people under 25 were visible, now they are visible 20/20. That is proof in itself that despite the challenges we are moving forward and upward. We are seeing an increase in visibility re “diversity in diversity” re multifaith, multicultural and neurodiverse trans and gender diverse people (to name but a few examples); we need total visibility in this way.
We are creative, special, resilient and unique. We are in all walks of life and all ages, all backgrounds and all cultures. We are everywhere. Our light shines increasingly brighter and it will become the clean gender energy source that powers humanity. On this day, celebrate our visibility!
(As always, opinions on this blog are my own).
Recently, I attended the Thrive symposium, a fantastic weekend of workshops on self-care for those involved in the diversity of social justice campaigns. One great workshop was a visualisation across generations where history students seven generations (say 200 years) from now are able to talk to campaigners of 2017 and ask questions like “things looked a bit cactus in 2017, what kept you going? How did you do it?” It was just the tonic (no gin) I needed after the last 3 months. And led me to think: what will rainbow community look like in 200 years’ time? How do we start getting there? What do we need to do?
WE are the generation to start the progress to give those future students the history to study.
It’s hardly rocket science to say that the whole marriage campaign, especially the last 3 months –has been difficult for most if not all of rainbow people, families and allies. Thing is, there has been an extra layer of difficulty for bi, trans and gender diverse (TGD) people and family members of TGD, especially TGD minors. (It’s also probably been there for other parts of the rainbow with which I can’t directly identify; thoughts from others who do identify with these parts of the rainbow most welcome). I communicated with many bi, trans and families over this period and heard a common theme: erasure of bi and TGD by some prominent yes campaigners made this period even more difficult. We believe the treatment was less than equal; the feelings associated with that belief range from disappointment and sadness, through frustration, rejection, betrayal and abandonment to outright anger and indignation. We have a right to those opinions and those feelings; I have sadly had mine dismissed, no matter how “well-meaning” people were in so doing.
It’s not just bi, trans and families who expressed this viewpoint. As an example, I had a great conversation at the GLOBE awards 3 weeks ago with a guy – I’m not assuming gender because his first words to me were “I am a rich white gay man. ” Seriously, he then went on to say that he felt sad about how we continually leave people behind in our communities. He also said he worked with refugees – and that what was happening on Manus Island was a disgrace. Hear hear. So it’s reassuring to find the true allies are there. A special thank you to those who spoke publicly about this aspect of the campaign over the last 3 months. Happily, it seems some in positions of prominence and influence are aware of this issue as acknowledged at the panel discussion Thursday 16 November: Equality – no exceptions (hosted by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby).
I could spend a lot of keystrokes analysing the marriage campaign; I may do that later, but not now; that’s a separate topic. I bring this up now for one reason and only one reason: it gives us a pointer for the future. In the words of George Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I’m willing to leave the past in the past on one strict non-negotiable condition that the future is better – and the future begins now.
Unfortunately the past of the rainbow world often boils down to the reality that some people (I’m including organisations as well as individuals here) in positions of prominence and influence, when it boils down to it, demonstrate by their actions, that, at the rock bottom core of their beliefs is a belief that groups such as bi and trans are less than equal. We try to build a queer house and we paper over the cracks that appear as a result of building on shaky foundations. (We don’t even try to fill the cracks – that would involve using POLYfilla – and we erase polyamory as well :)). And then we wonder why the queer house falls down rather than having more rooms and more levels.
Rather than paper over the cracks we need to properly fix the foundations so this doesn’t happen EVER again – using the theme of the VGLRL panel discussion – no exceptions.
We need to start from the basis of shared values – and equality, respect and inclusivity could be part of that. The absolutely critical factor is walking the talk rather than just having nice words that are all very warm and fuzzy but are used tokenistically and inconsistently.
Before, going further, I am all for the concept of there are things that we “don’t know that we don’t know.” That includes diversity. If it’s pointed out that a statement or belief may be inappropriate re diversity, then, the same as any mistake: admit it, fix it, learn from it and prevent it happening again. I’m happy to educate and “call in” people.
What are some mistakes that happen?:
- Bi, trans and families are not even consulted on issues that directly affect us, or we make efforts to sit at the table and are locked out of the room.
- We have a seat at the table, but are treated less than equally, often in a patronising way. I was in a meeting less than 12 months months ago with a range of people discussing a TGD issue. A cisgender person said, in a horribly patronising tone “well, I’m not trans – but if I WAS trans, I’d do such-and-such.” I’m going to ask people to contact me privately if they don’t understand that.
- Consultation processes happen but people believe they can ignore agreements and do what they want anyway.
Like any realignment of values, it is a change process which may have its tensions. That is a tiny price to pay for a more effective community that can achieve more results. I looove the words of trans woman of colour Andrea Jenkins, elected recently to Minneapolis City Council “We don’t just want a seat at the table, we want to set the table.” I’ll take those words further: “I want a full carte blanche menu of equality and equity on which to dine.” We need to work out a common base to translate the agreed values into practical language so we can work on multiple campaigns simultaneously. The “supermarket delicatessen” approach of “take a number and wait for your human rights” – the human rights that are our birthright that were stolen from so many of us – never worked and certainly can’t work now. To name only a few groups: I am both trans and bi. I am acutely aware of the abuse still faced by people experiencing intersex and the blatant discrimination faced by those working in the sex industry. Going beyond the rainbow and into the broader community, how do we work effectively on racial respect and respect for youth?
Thing is, when we do it right, the difference is tangible. At an event at Collingwood town hall this year the process was set up well with encouragement to speak up even things may have been “unpopular”– and the difference was blatantly obvious. To quote that great Australian philosopher – Dennis Denauto from “The Castle – the “vibe” was tangible. Ideas flowed easily. When implemented lives will be saved and changed.
There would be other broader benefits: if we start it in one place, it could boost other parts of the country and go worldwide. We also shut down a line of attack from the far right (not that we need to be reactive to them, rather we do this because it benefits us) about “you lot are divided.”
Let’s do it all the time. Let’s be the generation that starts that change in November 2017. Let’s be on the right side of rainbow history – starting now.
September 23 is Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Hooray hooray it’s a great big huge bi day!! (acknowledging copyright to Boney M)
There’s so many advantages to being multi-gender attracted. You can move past the arbitrary limitations imposed by a largely either/or society on you…gender schmender. You get the cream of the crop for your relationships without being limited by gender…remember, though, bi…but fussy. Your ability to pun is greatly enhanced (ok, open for some debate there re that as an advantage). Celebrate bi awesomeness in all its forms.
I find it paradoxical that we need a bi visibility day. After all, bi is the numerically largest sexual orientation as confirmed by research and logically by the Kinsey scale. Yet so often bi peeps are erased: in research, policy and in other ways e.g. a couple walking down the street who appear to be male and female are both assumed to be heterosexual based on appearance alone.
There are numerous explanations e.g. political, social conditioning, for the erasure; thing is there are no valid excuses. None. Zero. Zappo. Zilch.
So how to move to 20/20 bi vision?
Use inclusive language such as LGBTI and not gay and lesbian. This especially applies in Australia right now during the paper-wasting exercise on marriage. Bi (and trans/gender diverse and intersex) need total support and for us, that inclusive language communicates unconditional support. It won’t be to borrow from Martin Niemöller “first they came for the bisexuals” because we just won’t let them come for anyone. Case closed.
Allies, please stand up against biphobia/bi-erasure. For example, when someone says “bi doesn’t exist” a possible response is “wasn’t that said in the past about gays and lesbians – and we realised it was bunkum?”
And to bi+ people who have faced erasure or prejudice: remember to keep saying “I am equal.”
This is our day…wave your pink, lavender and blue flags high and proud. And dare I say it: get ON the fence, the view’s better.
(PS: whatever label you use or none at all…that’s ok too. We can all be in the melting-pan together)
Find a quiet, safe private place.
Close your eyes if possible and/or if desired (make sure you’re not in charge of a vehicle or heavy machinery).
Take some deep breaths. Slow your breathing down. Right down – that’s it, long deep breaths. Aaaaaaaah.
Go in your mind to your favourite place on the planet. If there’s more than one; that’s cool, combine them e.g. on an apartment balcony looking at the Grand Canyon with your fave bevvy in hand. Wherever that place or those places are is fab; so long as they make you feel good.
Imagine life as being totally equal in every aspect of your existence. What does it feel like and look like when every part of your sexual and romantic orientation are completely valued? That every aspect of your gender e.g. gender identity and gender expression are soooooo valued for everything for all the positive things they offer. That every aspect of your body such as size, shape, weight and sex characteristics are treated with respect. You are valued and celebrated for every aspect of your neurology. You are valued for any combination of mental, intellectual and physical ability you have.
What does it look and feel like to have this happen? What would your work look like? Your home? Where would your home be? What would your daily, weekly, monthly existence be like? Your finances?
At this point, notice how you are feeling in your body. Do you feel relaxed rather than uptight? Do you feel courageous rather than afraid? Do you feel peaceful rather than turbulent? Do you feel pride rather than shame? Do you feel affirmed rather than judged? Do you feel included rather than excluded? Content rather than restless?
Re whatever good feeling – lock it in (or in the words of a sports entertainer, “drink it in.”) Let it flow throughout and around your body. It can be colour, fire, rainbows, the colours of your flag in the rainbow, symbols that reflect your part/s of diversity and intersectionality – wotevs. So long as it represents you feeling fabbo groovy good awesome about all of you is all that matters. Let both mind and body remember those feelings and images.
Now – imagine the people who matter most to you in your life are doing this with you. Whether they be any of partners, friends, family of choice, people you love in your communities of identity/ies, family of origin – so long as they are people who make you feel good. Imagine more of the rainbows, flags, whatever.
How good is this feeling? Oh hell yeah!!
Now imagine this for anyone for whom you want be an ally beyond parts of your identity. Same again – rainbows, hearts, symbols and flags that make those peeps feel good; you name it.
Take it further. Imagine everyone who needs and/or wants this in your city doing it. Then your state/territory/region. Spread it state by state across your country. Spread to neighbouring countries. Spread it everywhere.
Again, how does it feel? Lock in the feeling as well as the sight of it.
Do it whenever you need to do it. Do it with whomever you want to in the room if you like.
It is your birthright to be equal and feel equal. It is yours to have and no-one else has or has ever had the right to take it from you. Regardless of your past which doubtless has had tough stuff, the present and the future are yours to own. Own them. 100% all yours.
When you are ready, take some deep breaths, count to 5 and as you do, gradually come back to being in the room or space you are in and be aware of your surroundings.
Always remember – you are EQUAL.
- I wrote this from issues regarding my own identity and those groups closest in their way to mine. I decided in the end to stick to those closest as it didn’t feel right to include parts of identities where I have not experienced inequality. I fully acknowledge any privilege that I enjoy e.g. white, middle-class. Naturally, every person who wants to use it can adapt to their own unique, intersectional amazing self.
- I acknowledge many of the basic ideas come from other practices e.g. mediation, the concept of a “safe space” and others. I can only say this came from the right place.
- If you feel and/or think there is some shortcoming or possible improvement, please contact me – just please be gentle – remember to respect the neurodiversity that is me as an HSP. J
- If it is used in a group setting, acknowledgment would be appreciated.
After long blogging absence, I’m ba-ack!!
This website has been a long time in the making. Many contributed ideas and some development along the way; ultimately it was Heartfelt Tech and the wonderful Sarah George who helped get the site to the point of saying “we have lift-off.”
And Sarah’s fabulous partner and my dear friend Sharlot came up with trans-re-lator. It’s accurate, concise…and it’s a play on words! How yay is that! Their four-legged kids, Kiki cat and Amber puppy were also helpful re offering calming energies to enable creativity.
So please feel welcome to check out the site. Find out about the many and varied offerings of Sally and how they can make your business more productive, your service more inclusive or put some fun in your event…better still, possibly all three!