Thoughts from Vancouver: Stigma’s role in discrimination

In a little more than an hour, I will be participating in a consultation with Canadian Blood Services. They drew my ire after a stunt earlier this year in which their media correspondent made a number of stigmatizing and regrettable remarks about gay men and trans women. Without going into specifics–I’m not sure what boundaries on reporting will be placed–the planning for this consultation likewise included a lot of stigmatizing language, and I was at times left agape by the phrasing of CBS’s correspondents.

Nonetheless, despite being openly critical of their policy on the grounds of the research they claim supports it (it doesn’t), CBS has brought me here to Vancouver to lay it out for them.

I’ve long lamented that the real crises affecting trans women, especially trans women of colour, are related to things like discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare and public accommodations. These prove to be veritable landmines for trans people and the difficulties these areas pose cannot be understated. These things do need to be fixed, but the other part of making more people willing to donate is tackling the stigma that made people hesitate to support the cause to begin with.

And no doubt, CBS’ announcement was brutally stigmatizing. They know they are party to this. I told them.

After I’ve collected my fee, I intend to donate it straight to Safe Accommodations for Queer Edmonton Youth (SAFQEY). I know I’ve been asking folks to fork over money for charities but if you’re at all familiar with my exasperation at the bullshit coverage of trans people that hits the mainstream when there are more pressing needs than motherfucking pronouns, you’ll understand why I value a queer-inclusive youth shelter.

Canadian Blood Services serves as an ideal example of responsibility: They are flawed, yes, but they are also willing to dialogue. And I don’t think they’d be spending money on this if they didn’t think it was worth something. That willingness to listen is in short supply these days, and perhaps I can help steer CBS in a more constructive direction moving forward regarding QUILTBAG donors.

See y’all later. I’ll be busy this weekend, too, volunteering at Taboo.

(Speaking of which: Let’s play a game called “real news or fake news.” Without using Google, is the headline “Topless women now allowed at Albertan sex shows” real or fake?)

-Shiv

Canadian Blood Services update

Remember when CBS made an arse of itself on national TV announcing changes to its QUILTBAG donor policies?

CBS and I have been corresponding back and forth for a while now. And, to my surprise, they have invited me to Vancouver to join them in a consultation & planning session concerning their next iteration of the policy on November 17th and 18th.

I’m not sure there will be much for me to report. Talk is cheap, and the real prize in this endeavour will be the implementation of a new policy.

However, it speaks highly of any organization that is knowingly inviting someone so critical of their policies and behaviour in the media to speak their piece directly to people who are equipped to change said policy. Throughout my back-and-forth communications with CBS, I am struck by how remarkably perceptive they are to actually listening. This is definitely not the common approach. Most organizations take a Father Knows Best approach and you’ll never get through to them, but CBS has been very willing to collaborate.

It gives me hope, though I will refrain from recanting on my criticisms until there’s an actual policy announcement in place. There are no promises until its in writing.

As for me, I’ll be emphasizing two things on November 17th:

  1. They need to recognize, at minimum, trans people as our own distinct epidemiological category. Since the crux of the policy is around rates of HIV, those rates need to be accurately established. At minimum a distinction between cis men, cis women, trans men, trans women, and non-binary people ought to be considered when CBS commissions its next round of research for Health Canada.
  2. They need to train their staff to respond to trans donors appropriately. I am aware that health risks between donors change based off of certain characteristics, but not all of those characteristics are incontrovertibly married to sex assigned at birth. That means the staff treatment of donors as well as the questionnaires could be more accurate in what information they’re trying to acquire.

After November 17th I’ll likely take another crack at how their policies stack up to their citations.

-Shiv

 

Dear Niki

I never got the chance to meet you and say it, but you were and still are one of the most steadfast examples I follow.

When I began questioning abortion, your cogent and precise views began my journey to being unapologetic, entirely confident, in pro-choice views. You stared into the eyes of the violent, the indoctrinated, and worked for women trying to escape from under the oppressive thumb of the many misogynistic entities working in tandem. Even with all your difficulties, what you gave as 100% of your effort far exceeded that of most folks, and for that I am ever pushing myself to follow in your example.

You were among the brightest voices in Black Lives Matter. Back in 2014, when I was still just starting to wrap my head around the extent of institutionalized racism in the United States, you were among the many vanguard writers, advocates, and activists who taught me first to listen as a white person. If not for you, I might count myself among the ignorant and the hateful. There are no thanks deep enough for that. I try to live out your legacy with the local BLM chapter by pulling aside and coaxing disruptive white people into understanding, and I hope this honours your memory.

We had a fair bit in common when it came to complex relationships with our body. I shake with rage knowing now the way the disability system in the United States is patchwork, antagonistic to disabled folks, as if the able-bodied could possibly read a graph and decide whose pain is real and whose is not. And I wish we had more time to talk about that, to talk about reform, to paint a metaphorical target and set our sights for something.

Alas, circumstances being what they are, we are robbed of that time.

I could write for tens of thousands of words describing gratitude for each and every thing you taught me, made me rethink or consider, made me laugh. And in some ways I intend to do just that, to continue in the capacities in which you have helped to empower me.

We never met, and now we never will. But I will always see your fingerprint in the foundation of my ethics, and your work will never be forgotten as long as I live.

Thanks,

Siobhan.

FtB is recruiting!

It’s the best job in the world and PZ is totally not holding a gun to my head as I say that. (It’s actually an elastic band–but it’s one of those thin ones. They fucking hurt)

We’re looking for more bloggers! You can see PZ’s old announcement here, which is still accurate.

We are particularly looking to boost our representation of people of colour, women, gender or neuro- diverse folks and anyone who occupies any or all of those intersections and who burn with the fires of urinary tract infections social justice.

Send your application with the following information to ftbapplications@googlegroups.com

Name

Contact email

Do you want your email public?

Twitter account, if any

Link for donations, if any

Links to your current blog, any biographical material, or best examples of your writing in comments or forums or other media

Why do you want to write for us?

And again, the details are all here.

-Shiv

Impromptu self care: Fuck it edition

I need to unplug for a few days. In the past hour, I found on my news feed:

  • Another trans woman murdered; misgendered by police.
  • A tireless critic of police brutality and her five year-old child shot by police; said police wiping the data on her phone which probably caught the whole event on camera.
  • A youtuber coming out as trans with dozens of media outlets turning her into a punching bag.
  • A trans woman who robbed a bank and turned herself in, because no homeless shelter would take her and she was less likely to be beaten in prison than on the streets.
  • A trans woman who shared a story of how she was held pending charges in a men’s prison. She overheard the officers referring to her as a freak and that they expected the other prisoners to assault her as they denied her requests for solitary confinement.

I’m out. Unplugging for a few days. Fuck this shit.

-Shiv

The FtB Ethics Committee on Richard Carrier

Freethought Blogs unequivocally condemns any behavior that threatens the safety of atheist community members, including particularly marginalized groups. Freethought Blogs also recognizes the role of sexual harassment as one of numerous barriers for women that limits access to and participation within atheist conferences and spaces.

When the recent allegations against Richard Carrier were made public, Freethought Blogs initiated a process to investigate these claims and formalize its policy concerning the conduct of its members. The FtB Ethics Committee received several reports of Carrier’s behavior and was in the process of reviewing them when Carrier chose to leave the network. A thorough review of the allegations against Carrier cannot be completed by Freethought Blogs without his cooperation.

As part of our commitment to equitable access to freethinking spaces for all, Freethought Blogs members who violate our commitment to social justice by creating or maintaining barriers to participation will be removed from the network as a matter of policy. All reports submitted to us in furtherance of this policy will be kept in the strictest of confidence, unless the accusation was made publicly or in the event we have express permission to reproduce the complaint.

-The FtB Ethics Committee

The “Shiv explodes from stupidity” program re the Orlando shooting

I just got back from a vigil held in Edmonton in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shooting. So, first up, I’ll be posting my coverage of that event.

Second, there is way, way, way too much stupid on the internet regarding the shooting. I have to say something to set the record straight. I think I can even parse it down to a few hundred words, though no promises. When I get angry, I get wordy. I feel like it will be important to try and distill this if I can.

Depending on how things go I might be able to tie points one and two together, but then it definitely won’t be a short article.

Third, I’ll need a mental health break, so when I’ve finished point number two, I’m taking at least a week off from the internet and FTB for some full time self care.

The roommate’s kitties are going to hate me.

-Shiv

Blag surgery was successful

Okay, it’s the same =AtG= you all know and love, only without needing the =AtG= at the top of the post.

You might be confused.

New Frontier is a group blag, something of a probationary test. I shared it with 2 other authors, hence demarcating my posts with an abbreviation of my blag’s name, Against the Grain. Now that I have my own column, I don’t need to do that.

My work was transplanted from New Frontier, so all the same articles and comments should still be present. Nothing is changing in terms of the content I’m covering, I’m just posting it on AtG proper instead of the group blag.

Special thanks to PZ for pulling the levers and pushing the buttons and doing the techy ish stuff to make it happen. :) Thanks to my peers on the network who supported the move.

On my to-do list for the new column:

  • Set a comments policy
  • Get a proper avatar
  • Get a proper banner

For you guys, things are basically business as usual.

-Shiv