Updated Canadian Aeronautics Act Permits Discrimination Against Transgender Passengers

Even though I’m a little late on finding out about this, details concerning this story are a bit sketchy at the moment, and my google fu is sadly failing me to be able to find much (if any) reporting on the subject, but it appears that recent amendments to the Canadian Aeronautics Act, the laws and regulations regarding aviation in Canada, have added a regulation that permits discrimination against transgender passengers, entitling airline employees to refuse them permission to board. Specifically, this one:

Sec 5.2(1)(c) of the ID screening regs of Aeronautics Act: “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”

Oh hell no, Harper. [Read more…]

How I Became An Atheist

I’ve been following and enjoying Pharyngula’s “Why I’m An Atheist” posts for the last few months. I think they’re great, and really give a wonderful view into the diverse, personal paths through which we all find ourselves at this position, and have managed to move beyond the comforts and security of religious belief. Many of the stories are inspiring and beautiful, full of courage, intelligence, strength, integrity and all kinds of human virtues.

But to me, the phrase “Why I’m An Atheist” has trouble connecting. For me, it has never been a question of why. I did not choose to become an atheist, or notice something about it that suddenly made it seem more appealing than other spiritual possibilities. And there was no definitive moment at which I “converted”. In short, there was no “why”.

What there was instead was a process. A set of events, thoughts and questions that led me to the point where I was able to proudly identify myself as atheist. For me, the story of my atheism doesn’t answer a question of why, but instead a question of how. [Read more…]

Passability And The Toupée Fallacy

So, I wanted to take a moment to briefly look at one of the more common logical fallacies I encounter in terms of people’s perceptions of trans people. Although it’s a pretty simple fallacy, and the kind that once explained suddenly seems embarrassingly obvious, it nonetheless ends up having some pretty severe consequences for trans people, the cultural perception of us, our own individual processes of self-acceptance, and even carries a lot of complex political implications.

I’m not sure if this is the proper name for the fallacy, but I’ve seen it used, and I like it: “The Toupée Fallacy”. It works like this:

“Toupées always look fake. I’ve never seen a single toupee where I couldn’t tell what it was!”

See the fallacy? [Read more…]

Phytoestrogens and Natural Transition

So I’m at this Christmas party thingy for a trans support group last month, and I’m catching up with a girl I know, and she begins asking me weird, akward-ish questions, like “how are your boobs doing?”

These kinds of things tend to go with the territory at trans support groups.

Providing my usual evasive, non-committal response, she proceeds to inform me that her own have been developing fantastically. First, she explains that she’s been taking progesterone. I reply that I’ve heard mixed things about it, that it, more than any other HRT medication, tends to be a bit unpredictable and rather on the “your mileage may vary” side of things- negative effects being reported just as often as positive ones. She then says that she’s on the “brand” of progesterone that has “only two side effects”, one of which she claims is breast growth. I begin to become a bit suspicious of whether she wholly understands the concept of “brand” as applied to medication (particularly a hormone like progesterone, which is going to be progesterone no matter who is actually manufacturing it) and also how much she understands what “side effect” means.

And then it got worse. [Read more…]

Whose Transsexual Summer?

Back in the fall, a documentary mini-series called My Transsexual Summer aired in the UK on Channel 4. It covered the day-to-day lives of four young trans people as they went about…well… being trans. This was generally advertised as a groundbreaking look at the realities of lived trans experience and an educational, non-judgmental look at an often sensationalized, stigmatized and misrepresented class of people. I imagine that for most cisgender viewers, that’s exactly how it was seen and received, too.

For trans people, however, the reaction was different. Some people thought it was alright, not bad, a fairly good, positve take on things and pretty low in the cissexist-bullshit and misrepresentation meters. Others reacted to it with a big giant “meh”, seeing it as just another in a very long line of documentaries claiming to show our strange, novel, exotic world to the idly curious cisgender public, knowing that it would undoubtedly hit all the usual tropes (shot of trans girl putting on make-up in the mirror? trans guy swigs a beer on his back porch?) and would, at best, be fodder for the trans documentary drinking game. And still another set were displeased, regarding it as just another act of appropriation, of cis producers making money exploiting trans lives. [Read more…]

Talkin’ ‘Bout My S-S-S-Socialization

So a little while ago a twitter-friend of mine, LifeInNeon, linked this interesting post by When Cylons Dream (a bit nsfw) over at her blog, on the question of trans women’s socialization (the manner in which we were / are raised, relative to gender). I found it very interesting and wanted to share.

Yesterday, in a post all about how not all feminists practice the same style of ninjitsu, I discussed some of the history of transphobia within feminism, and various policies (both official and unspoken) that often exclude trans women from feminist spaces or conversation. One of the more common justifications for this attitude is the issue of socialization, that because we were not raised as female, and did not experience the same form of socialization (with its attendant forms of oppression, such as stereotype threat, being trained to be passive, submissive and docile, being trained to make yourself an appealing object for pursuit by men, being sexualized as an object from an early age, etc.) that we do not, therefore, understand female experience, cannot participate meaningfully in feminist discourse, and that, at the extreme end of the scale, are in fact in possession of male privilege- the argument often being extended to a sort of Catch-22 wherein our wish to be included in feminist or women’s spaces is a demonstration of the male sense of entitlement, and when we become angry in response to these trans-exclusionist policies or statements, we are demonstrating male aggression, and are part of a male attempt to control women and appropriate feminism. [Read more…]

Feminist Dogma

Hello there! Are you growing tired of the ongoing criticisms of sexism in the skeptical community? Do you feel like one of the essential values of freethought and skepticism is lost when we set up “sacred cows” like feminism? Do you believe that feminism, like anything, needs to be held up to critique, and that the way that any questioning of feminism or dissent from the growing feminist consensus is met with the “thought police” coming to gag you? Do you feel this crushing of dissent is creating an echo chamber that is preventing us from being able to have a free, open discourse? Do you feel all this petty infighting over such trivial issues is destroying our movement? That people seem wholly incapable of discussing sexism in a rational way? That it’s distracting us from more important issues? Do you believe that we need to be more skeptical of feminist dogma? [Read more…]

Secular Addiction Recovery Part One: Just A Little Endorphin Deficiency

I seem to have somehow found myself in the business of publicly discussing highly stigmatized aspects of my identity, history and experiences, displaying them on the internet for anyone to see. I reconcile the associated risks and feelings of unease by reminding myself that if everyone were stealth, there would be no one left to speak about us, our lives, to advocate from a position of direct understanding and shared oppression. There would be no one left to demonstrate, through simple, visible being, that we do exist and share this world with the rest of you, and that we are, like anyone, complex, multi-faceted, individual, fallible, struggling, confused, suffering, thinking, hoping, feeling, participating, speaking human beings. Though it can spare an individual a great deal of hassle, cultural invisibility has never done any good for a minority group, collectively.

But so long as I’m doing this, so long as I’m being a voice, presence and advocate, why restrict myself to only one aspect of who I am? Why only one particular stigmatized and hated group to which I belong? Why not go for broke?

The thing is, I’m a recovering heroin addict. [Read more…]

The Jehovah’s Witness In The Rain

Vancouver is a wet place. Wet and gray. And often cold. And dark. And full of owlbears.

Except the owlbears are made up.

Or are they?

In my neighbourhood, there’s a very elderly woman who stands at a corner attempting to distribute Watchtower magazines and other Jehovah’s Witness literature to the passers-by. My neighbourhood is largely Chinese and Filipino, and predominantly Buddhist and Catholic as a result, so she is generally ignored. [Read more…]