#MeToo as a queer and trans person

I’ve been somewhat open on this blag about my experiences with abuse, and yet I was hesitant to add my voice to the #MeToo hashtag started on Twitter. It was proposed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations as a way to “get people to see the gravity of the problem”–yet, the ways in which the conversation were carried out led me to believe I would be met with more hostility than support.

Sam Hope concurs.

“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

My trans and trans-friendly connections started to throw up alternatives to this original copy&paste meme: “women and non binary people” was one alternative, “women and femmes” another, as people struggled to include the complexity of how gendered violence impacts our diverse world. What was less surprising, perhaps, was how many of my trans friends could say #MeToo: Statistically, trans people, whether men, women or non-binary, are at greater risk of sexual violence as children than cis women, and this extra vulnerability continues into adult lives. Lesbians and gay men also experience more sexual violence than their straight counterparts, and bi people even more than lesbian and gay men.

There’s a reason this is not often talked about. For years, we have been told, without foundation, that somehow abuse turned us queer. The truth is a mirror image of this – queer/trans kids tend to be more easily isolated and have more strained relationships with caregivers. This creates conditions where they are more easily preyed upon. Social exclusion continues to mark out LGBTQ+ people as targets into adult life, and fear of being outed can also give abusers a hold, particularly for people from certain families or communities that hold hostile attitudes to LGBTQ+ people. In a world that was not sexist, cissexist and heteronormative, they would be as accepted and socially included as everyone else, and they would not carry this additional vulnerability.

We see similar themes of elevated levels of abuse within other vulnerable groups – autistic people, disabled people, people who grew up in care, to name but a few.

It was only after my abuser had attempted to burn bridges with a well-respected cis man in the community that people began to believe the trail of allegations that followed her. That’s… hard to forgive.

Read more here.


My Chacha is Gay makes another appearance

When we last signal boosted My Chacha is Gay, we found another example of the unenviable position between white progressivism and Islam that many ex-Muslims find themselves in. Eiynah, a Pakistani-Canadian blogger, wrote the children’s book to address homophobia within Islam. For a brief time it was taken up by Toronto public schoolboards, before both conservative Islamic parents and white liberals complained. While it ought to be recognised by white progressives that we have a delicate balancing act critiquing oppression within an oppressed minority in the North American context, there shouldn’t be any excuse for stifling conversation that comes from said community.

It wasn’t just a blend of extremist Muslims and run-of-the-mill internet shitheads (though of course there were plenty of those). A lot of ordinary Muslim Canadians were mad as well. “In Toronto, a radio show broadcast calls from angry parents, punctuated with a few obligatory calls from people defending the book. Some parents threatened to sue the school board, and predictably, the LGBT-supporting liberal school board backed away from the book. It was never used in an official capacity again.”

Eiynah continues: “The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) published a blog post claiming that the school board was the one bullying parents into teaching their kids about LGBT diversity. I was branded an ‘Islamophobe,’ and that was it. A resource that many children/teachers enjoyed and found useful was no longer available.” And while it’s crazy that acknowledging the existence of gay people was perceived as an attack on a religion, it’s kind of understandable that the Muslim community was hypersensitive to attack …

Read more here.


Autogynephilia: A method of character assassination, not a scientific theory

Content Notice: Trans-antagonistic nonsense of many varieties.

Miranda Yardley has, much to my despair, started clogging the “transgender” tag on Medium, which is one of many ways I try to track what is being discussed about gender variance. For those of you who don’t know her–congratulations, count yourself lucky–she’s a self-described “transsexual male” who has politically aligned herself with a group of people who gleefully argue for her own subordination. She gallivants about the United Kingdom, coasting in on the benefits hard won for her by trans activism, all while arguing how harmful trans activism is. It’s the sort of hypocritical blinkered nonsense you typically see from the forced-birther movement, who often access the very services they protest. She is, basically, a British Blaire White, carving out a niche in profiting from telling the trans-suspicious what they want to hear while being simultaneously trans. This includes her latest invocation of one of the anti-trans types’ favourite cudgel: Autogynephilia, an idea (calling it a “theory” would be an insult to science) promoted by Dr. Ray “transsexuals will sort themselves out later” Blanchard.

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An open letter to Albertan parents concerned about GSAs

When I first began volunteering for LGBTQ+ social resources, one of the first rules I learned was to Never tell a dependent youth that they “need” to come out to their parents or guardians. By now, those parents concerned about Alberta’s student run Gay-Straight Alliances (alternatively Queer-Straight Alliances) are likely aware that professionals and volunteers affirming LGBTQ+ youth tend to follow this rule, and now we have a law written by the New Democratic Party setting the same as policy for school administrations. The leadership of both the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives have gone on record to disagree with this policy, stating that they think students joining the student-run GSA clubs ought to result in a notification for their parents, along with hundreds of other community organizers stepping into the conversation to concur.

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Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator Lynn Beyak strikes again

Apparently not satisfied with the concentration of garbage water that is her existence, Lynn Beyak decided to one-up her prior remarks about calling on the survivors of colonial genocide to seek out the silver lining from their circumstances, by insisting the LGBT Community wouldn’t have to suffer discrimination if only we stuffed ourselves back in the closet.

During a debate over a trans human rights law.

Last week, Beyak, during a debate on C-16, the transgender rights bill, went on a bizarre rant bemoaning that the radicals of the gay movement expect “all of Canada to be their closet.”

I–what? What? I can’t.

She continued to pine for a happier time when folks like her simply didn’t have to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that gay people exist because they weren’t flaunting their homosexuality in her face.

“By living in quiet dignity, they have never had to face any kind of discrimination or uncomfortable feelings,” she said, without a hint of irony. “I would assert that is how the vast majority of the LGBT community feels.”

“Quiet dignity.” That’s some real good Christian doublespeak you’ve got going there.

Fuck me. When did we start importing neanderthals from Texas? Get this lady all the chairs so she can sit the fuck down.


Parents for Choice in Education: Stop teaching my kids queer & trans people exist

Content Notice: Homo-antagonism and trans-antagonism

Eva Ferguson begins this article in what (I hope) is a barely contained snicker:

A new toolkit for teachers on educating students around gender diversity is being criticized by parent groups who say it doesn’t give families a chance to opt out of conversations they say may not fit their values.

Yes, that’s right, there are “some families” complaining they can’t opt out of fact-based education. If you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll suspect Parents for Choice in Education, a lobby group that gets its jimmies rustled every time more facts worm their way into schools.

Ferguson writes of a guidance document published by the Alberta Teacher’s Association called Toolkit for Safe and Caring Discussions and Sexual and Gender Minorities. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: A series of tips on what a law like Bill 7 or Bill 10 actually means and what substantive changes you can make to your teaching when you need to be accommodating of queer & trans youth. It includes such insidious suggestions as…

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French Roman Catholics still beating a dead horse

We know that thanks to terrorist efforts, nationalist and fascist groups across the West are gaining momentum. We also know from history that nationalists have a tendency to draw arbitrary lines about what makes one a “true” countryman, and that the QUILTBAG community is always outside those lines. In fact the effect is so predictable that I debated investing stock in the baseball bat business, because we all know nationalists just love to beat dead horses.

So it can’t be a coincidence that French Roman Catholics are sensing a resurgency in homo-antagonism and so organized an anti gay-marriage rally despite the fact that the law passed three years ago.

Thousands of opponents of gay marriage took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to defend their vision of family values, hoping to revive the issue in political debates ahead of next year’s presidential election.

About 24,000 people took part in the demonstration, police said, far fewer than the several hundreds of thousands the group “Demo for All” mobilized in 2012 and 2013 in an unexpectedly strong show of opposition from conservatives, especially Roman Catholics.

The Socialist government legalized same-sex marriage, which it called “Marriage for All”, in 2013.

Police said 13 people were arrested after a scuffle at the protest, including six topless women from the activist group Femen. Some of them had words “Hate is not a family value” scrawled on their chests.

Organizers of Sunday’s protest aim to pressure politicians on the right, who face a presidential primary next month, to agree to repeal the law if they are elected president.

The protesters marched through prosperous western sections of Paris, waving French flags and the “Demo for All” movement’s blue and pink colors. Some held signs declaring “All together for the family” and “In 2017, I’ll vote for the family.”

Again, they seldom bother to explain how not shitting on Queer people somehow constitutes an assault on the family. Meanwhile QUILTBAG people wanting to, you know, start a family, still can’t thanks to the abusive Catholic lobby.

Let’s say I really like turkey sandwiches, so I go to a sub store to get a turkey sandwich. What the anti-gay lobbyists are doing is essentially shouting from the spot behind me in line that I shouldn’t be allowed to have a turkey sandwich because they prefer ham sandwiches. That the ham is still there for them to purchase seems to escape them.

I will never understand the rationale for this so-called “family values” rhetoric because they obviously are operating from a very twisted idea of what family is.

Needless to say, fuck off Christofascists. Those of us privy to history know better than to view you as anything but a menace.


Triggering Canadian Nationalists

Content Notice: Defacing the flag, I guess?

Let it never be said that sensitivity and the need for safe spaces is in any way monopolized by minorities or liberals. As it turns out, all you need to do to ‘offend’ a certain brand of Canadian Nationalists is add some colour to a piece of fucking fabric:


I got a rape threat on my Facebook for sharing this. Facebook says said threat “isn’t a community standards violation.”

According to internet trash basket Life Site News, this ‘distortion’ of the Canadian flag ‘disturbed’ the head of the Christian Heritage Party.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared at the Toronto Gay Pride Parade waving a Canadian flag with the vertical red bars replaced by the rainbow stripes of the LGBTQ movement.

“It’s disturbing to see the flag put to such a use,” Rod Taylor, head of the Christian Heritage Party, told LifeSiteNews. “He is showing disrespect for all the Canadians who disagree with him on the gay agenda. He is basically saying, ‘This is the new Canada, so get used to it.’”

Yes, Rod Taylor, that is the message. You can’t institutionalize second class status for (cis) queer citizens. Boo hoo. I’d drink your tears but I think my doctor would advise against it–that much salt is bad for my health.

Life Site News goes on to correctly point out:

Another site, Findlaw.ca, goes further, stating “the Canadian flag may be a symbol of pride, unity, honour, and sacrifice, but it’s not against the law to disrespect, deface, and destroy it.” In fact, “there are no laws against desecration, such as burning, shredding, stomping, or spitting on it. However objectionable, such acts are protected forms of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Yes, this is the part that reactionaries always forget about their so-called freeze peach: Actual freedom of speech protects citizens criticizing the state, and that criticism can include ‘defacing’ the flag, if we were even to accept that this qualifies as defacing. But perhaps nationalists are too busy arbitrarily drawing lines on “true” Canadians to remember that. They’ll romantically say shit like “people died for that flag!” and then promptly ignore the part where the war the soldier died in was ostensibly to protect our freedoms.

Freedoms like defacing the flag.


Reminder: Sweet Cakes by Melissa wasn’t merely sued for discrimination

They also doxxed the lesbian couple lodging the complaint:

But that was not all the couple suffered.

Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint in January 2013, but because she filed it online on her smartphone she was not shown the disclaimer informing her that the complaint, including her name and address, would be sent to the individual against whom it was being made. When Aaron Klein received the complaint, he immediately published it on his Facebook page in full, with Laurel’s name and address included.

That’s right, the Kleins doxxed the Bowman-Cryers.

In testimony Tuesday, Rachel Bowman-Cryer said she and her wife received death threats as media attention and criticism from strangers escalated in the months after the story went national in January 2013.

She said the threats were part of a stream of “hateful, hurtful things” that came after the couple’s contact information (home address, phone and email) was posted on Aaron Klein’s personal Facebook page. She said she feared for her life and her wife’s life.

And it’s worse even than that, because the couple had foster children.

Also on Tuesday, Rachel Bowman-Cryer disclosed that she and Laurel felt an even greater level of stress because they were foster parents for two young girls and feared they might lose the children.

She said they spoke to state adoption officials who told them it was the couple’s responsibility to protect the children and keep privileged information confidential, even as their own privacy was threatened by news coverage of the case.

The next time you see someone upset about that nice baker couple Oregon ordered to pay $135,000 to that spiteful thin-skinned lesbian couple, let them know that that nice baker couple doxxed the lesbian couple and very nearly cost them custody of their two children as a result. And then send them a copy of the court’s final ruling.

I signal boost this reminder from Libby over on Patheos because Sweet Cakes by Melissa returned to the news when they announced their closure, blaming the “gay mafia” for their loss of business–despite the fact that bigots raised an extra $300,000 over the damages they lost–all of which they pocketed. It seems that the coverage doesn’t adequately remind its readers that the plaintiffs were doxxed for having the audacity to challenge Christian entitlement.

Regardless, losing all your business sounds like a response from the Free Market. Here I thought Conservatives trusted the Invisible Hand. Or is that only when the Invisible Hand is directed by Invisible Backers?



Some thoughts on coming out

We have a lot of odd ideas about coming out of the closet.

For one, it’s not always clear when we begin being in the closet. Certainly many of the QUILTBAG people I know reported some subtle hints, the tiniest whispers of self awareness, long before they had learned about the concepts of gay or bi or trans. So is it the first time you learn the word, and realize “this is me”? Is it the point at which you identify with the term internally, but don’t necessarily express it? Was I in the closet when, at age six, I asked my daycare worker when it would be my turn to be a girl–only to be told that this was a “silly fantasy”? Was I in the closet at age 14, when I said I was tired of being a boy? Or did I only begin being in the closet between my “eureka!” and my first announcement that I would be transitioning, which would be winter 2013, to the friend who had made me confront the possibility during one of my TERF episodes?

Two: We’re always in the closet. Being QUILTBAG isn’t always visible. When I meet new people, I’ll sometimes get polite smalltalk about whether I’ve met any boys (nevermind that as an adult, I would be dating men), or someone will unknowingly probe into a part of my past prior to my transition, which can make things real awkward real fast. One time, a cis woman who was a new acquaintance at a function had expressed dismay that she forgot her pads and asked to borrow some from me, which probably took me a few extra seconds to parse out as to why I was being asked to begin with (she’s assuming I have a uterus). These things happen because we still tend to assume heterosexuality and cisgender identity, and also tend to erase the broad range of human intersex development in general.

In other words, we never stop being in the closet, because we have to constantly come back out of it to contradict the assumptions every time we meet someone new. Sometimes, if we’re bi+, we have to remind observers that a relationship can be heterosexual-passing but that doesn’t invalidate our polysexuality or result in us no longer being “gay.” (The difficulty in acknowledging what bi+ sexualities actually are is prevalent)

Three: Hardline prejudice against a minority is reduced by knowing a member of said minority. When people in positions of institutional power legislate against the QUILTBAG community, one of the strategies attempted by advocates is to put a face to the concept. It is easy to debate on gender variance or sexual orientation as if it were a theoretical, something abstract–harder (though not impossible) to advocate for its restriction through force or coercion when you are speaking directly to a QUILTBAG person. On the one hand, this produces a moral imperative to be out of the closet, because it results in fewer prejudiced people. …On the other, some of those prejudiced people will be prejudiced either way, and might murder you if they know you’re Queer-spectrum, which certainly punches holes in said moral imperative.

I liken it to a classic exercise in morality & ethics. You pass by a lake and see a drowning child. Are you morally obligated to save the child? The answer is contextual: Weak swimmers would likely only get themselves killed without saving the child, so the moral imperative shifts to finding help. If you happened to have rescue training, and were a strong swimmer, it is much harder to justify ignoring the drowning child. The only calculus considered there should be whether to attempt the rescue yourself or to find help.

It is an apt metaphor for being out. If you’re privileged in other ways, it can be less risky to be out of the closet, just as someone with both strength and training might be able to attempt a rescue. Of course the risk is difficult to quantify, and in general we should allow for any given Queer person to decide for themselves whether to be out. And it is definitely worth emphasizing that the risk-calculus only has to be taken to begin with because of the prejudices against Queer folk. In essence, the closet only exists because cishet folk build it, either through erasure or violence. Although we ought to concern ourselves with children drowning, imagine if there also existed a serial child-thrower who was continuously throwing children into lakes, and we focused all of our energy on the rhetorics surrounding the rescuers and none of our energy on the child-thrower. I think we could all agree that as necessary as the rescues are, there too exists a need to address the root of the problem: In this example, the asshole throwing children into lakes.

I’m all in favour of Queer folk finding empowerment in our coming out narratives. I will, however, still remind my cishet readers that each story is its own risk calculus, and advise that you separate one’s status as out or not from any kind of moral stance. In reality, whether or not one is out is largely a product of their environment, more an indication of dumb luck than anything else.

Above all else, remember this: You are part of that environment.