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.