Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

It’s not unreasonable to expect to be treated fairly, equally and without bigotry.

This is a defence I see all too often, and it’s pretty despicable. All too often in my life it comes up about the little things that make it damn clear that my self is not accepted, things like forms asking for ‘gender – m/f’ and so on. According to this particular defence of bigotry, I can’t expect services to bend to fit me; due to my so-called ‘abnormality’, I should bend to fit them. I should bend to fit with society’s narrow-minded ideals, at whatever cost to myself.

Or, another place it crops up is around terminology. Apparently we can’t expect language to change to acknowledge our humanity and our experience, and we can’t expect people to change their language so as not to cause us pain because we’re apparently not ‘normal.’

Normal is constructed as something people should aspire towards, so as not to cause trouble and disrupt the social order. It’s not. If the social order cannot serve all people, regardless of the demands of meaningless ‘normality,’ then it needs to be disrupted. It is not unreasonable to expect society to change to accommodate all its members, and to be honest society should want to.

No matter how much it seems to be, society is not a monolith that exists independent of the people in it. We construct society around us. Yes, the scars of history lie heavy on us and on the society that has evolved down the generations – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. It evolved through the actions of people – a lot of bigotry can be traced back to historical roots that were instigated by people – and that means that we can steer it away from the broken-down mass of kyriarchal pressures riddled with bigotry and violence that it is now.

To do that, though, we need each other. We need to look around us and realise that the kyriarchy is hurting and killing ourselves and each other. And then we need to realise that defeatism will only defeat us.

It’s not unreasonable to expect society to change to accommodate the people it shoves to the margins, and for a person to say this about an axis they have privilege on is harmful. The privileged’s words have more weight anyway, and the more this is said the more the immovability of society is constructed, the more privilege can shore itself up by thinking that it can’t change and shouldn’t have to try.

It’s not unreasonable to be hurt, and to demand that people stop hurting one. It’s not unreasonable to demand one’s rights.

We are all connected, and frankly we have no reason to deny others decent treatment, fair, equal and without bigotry. That is an attack, and so is defending others who hurt people in the name of kyriarchy with the feeble cry of ‘it’s unreasonable.’ There is no excuse for bigotry, and the only slight justification is genuine lack of knowledge – but that can be cleared up with a short conversation, a quick google. There is no excuse for denying people the things granted without thought to others because of who they are. There is no excuse for services meant to help us refusing to acknowledge our selves. There is no excuse for people who bear us no ill-will beyond the poison the kyriarchy has dripped into their brains from birth to refuse to stop using words that hurt us. Once the problem is brought to light, it is not unreasonable to expect that solving it should be the next step.

Slow process? Well, yes, it probably will be. But it’s not an unreasonable demand.

To read the papers at the moment is to get a most unsettling feeling of being in an uncontrollable vehicle hurtling towards something bad. Now, I have been and will almost certainly remain rather quiet about this because I am not an economist and my understanding of this boils down to the words, ‘Not good…’ It’s possible that in a year or two, when we’ve found out a bit more about how screwed we are, I’ll fully understand and be able to dissect the issues with a fishknife.

At the moment though, I’m wondering how this is all going to affect normal people. If there is another massive problem, will it be us who will be called upon to clean up after capitalism’s worst excesses again? If we are – is that possible? Or will the rich and the powerful’s attempts to use us to pay their debts drain us dry – and if so, what will happen then?

I’m too good at predictions of doom. But right now, we’re seeing capitalist systems again careering too close to the edge. And that, combined with the frankly frightening trend towards regarding people as more expendable than capital, could be disastrous.

They’re saying that Britain is a ‘safe haven’ because we’ve kept our AAA credit rating – but are the British people safe? Is that safety only for British finance, while British people find themselves paying for it? And anyway, in a globalised world we can hardly be said to be safe; our involvement in other countries’ finance is already affecting us, and many people are predicting a greater effect for it. It can be said that virtually all countries are intricately, inescapably linked to each others’ financial fates, since the global market has tied us all together so effectively in a complicated web of borrowing, lending, imports and exports. At the same time, we still think of ourselves as separate and think that problems can be contained in a single place. The excesses of capitalism in this globalised economy are fast waking us up to the fact that they cannot.

I get really angry with hetero/cis/binary/sexual folks complaining about Pride. I’ve never been to one – and will be missing my local one this year because of an out-of-town trip – but that’s besides the point.

A common complaint is that we’re ‘shoving it in their faces’. If I may put it crudely – bullshit. My heart bleeds. Not.

For one, it’s pure hypocrisy.

Apparently they believe that the hetero, cis, binary, sexual norm is not shoved into everyone’s faces daily. I suppose that the fact that every compulsory primary school reading book features only normative characters is just coincidence, is it? What about the abundance of normative PDA? That’s just an exception I suppose. Oh – and the media emphasis on normative relationships? I guess that’s just representation. And surely the stigmatisation of non-normative identities has nothing to do with it? /endsarcasm.

Most of us had normativity shoved down our throats from an early age. We sung songs about normative relationships, watched programes, read books, saw films about normative relationships. We saw only the normative represented positively. Often we never even saw the non-normative at all.

That is having an identity shoved into your face. Not a group of people coming together one day of the year to celebrate who they are and try to cast a bright flare through the dark clouds that hover over their path.

For two, they’re complaining about something that has grown up as a reaction to oppression – oppression perpetuated by them. Really not their business objecting. Objections from within the community are fine, but from without?

Oh hey there kyriarchy, I saw you a mile off.

People within the gender and sexuality norm do not get to interfere. Simple as. How hard can it be? If your privilege has made you think that people being themselves are shoving stuff in your face, you need to examine your privilege rather than their motives. It stinks the whine of the privileged person who just can’t accept that the oppressed people have needs too. We need to be recognised as the equals of anyone else. We need to resist our erasure at the hands of the privileged. And one way we’re doing that is through Pride. Is through throwing up a light to our youth so that they can find themselves. Is through taking the aspects of us that the kyriarchy hates and celebrating them defiantly. Is through sticking a finger up at the dominant norms and saying ‘We exist too!’

So if the privileged people think we’re shoving it in their faces, they need to examine why they think that and why we need to do what we do in the first place.

Something of the same applies for any situation in which the marginalised – on any axis – are accused of shoving their selves into the privileged’s faces. In a lot of those situations, though, there’s the additional point – if the privileged are allowed to do it, the marginalised should be. If you don’t object to hetero-perceived PDA – don’t claim that gay-perceived PDA is bad. Because that’s just perpetuating oppression.

Again, posting has lapsed to sporadic, and I apologise – I’m in the middle of exams, but it’s not like I’m not having time for anything but revision.

*   *   *

This is a personal post, and is intended to apply to me and only me.

I honestly have no idea how to walk the line between my comfort (being out) and the possible consequences. I’m now in a situation where I don’t have to declare gender – and haven’t declared birth name – but would feel a lot more comfortable declaring who I am. I haven’t done so yet, and am extremely undecided about ever doing so, because I am afraid that bringing my self to the attention of people in positions of authority would put a black mark against my name.

This is the line we have to walk. Until we declare ourselves, we are held not to be our selves, we are held not to exist – but we are allowed to survive, hidden away behind the panels of the kyriarchy. When we declare ourselves, we risk everything – being labelled a freak, being denied, being rejected, hurt, discredited or worse. Until we pull the panels away, we don’t know what the place we will enter is – a room full of soldiers in kyriarchy’s service, or a room of healers, or whatever – unless someone is already there, finding out.

So as more of us come out, more of us will come out because there could be a voice in the room beyond the panel saying, ‘I don’t know if any of us are in there, but I am out here and it is livable,’ and we will come out because we want to see daylight. Don’t write it off as a trend. Just because we were walled in here, too scared to break out, does not mean we never existed. Do not make the mistake of taking the dominant group’s view as fact, when all other groups have hidden in the woodwork.

(more…)

If a person is polyamorous/married to someone of the same legal sex, records it on the census and the ONS ‘corrects’ it, are the ONS’ results accurate?

NO.

The ONS’ results are blatantly inaccurate and the ONS is guilty of researcher bias. Yes, bias. Erasing the entirety of who people are is bias. I have also found that non-binary people’s responses will be ‘corrected’ too. Bias. Bias and the most obvious sort of erasure.

Do I have to tell statisticians, I, who did a half-arsed GCSE in statistics and gained only a B, do I have to tell statisticians why bias and adjusting results is wrong? Do I really? It appears I do.

So here’s the lowdown. Investigator bias is a real problem because it means that an inaccurate picture emerges. If the research is important and likely to be used for important purposes – which this is – this produces huge problems. Research that builds upon it is wrong. Conclusions drawn from it are wrong. Policies based on it are wrong. Trends identified by it are wrong. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS WRONG. You may think that people in these situations are such a minority that it doesn’t matter, but really and truly EVERY INACCURACY MATTERS.

In this case, it matters to people’s LIVES. We are who we are, and we are human, we are here, we matter. Taking a rubber to the records when you present them to the world denies us our existence. Your altered data will mean that the world will continue to revolve in a way that excludes us, and since officially we don’t exist we are virtually prevented from seeking redress with any kind of official backing about our existence. Your altered data will give people the backing they wanted to continue to try to push us out of the existence that is our birthright as humans.

We have been written out of the past, and we are being written out of the present. Our youth are dying, hurting, despairing because they are cut off from any acknowledgement of their existence. We are constantly hit with censure, with official backing, for trying to exist as our selves. We are erased every time we open our eyes by every second that ticks through the clock.

We exist.

A cis guy I know told me this story to illustrate how accepting he is of gender non-conformity. It’s paraphrased, because there were a lot of interruptions from me.

Hell, I know a chick who I thought was a dude! Hung around her for years, I just thought she was a dude – dressed like a dude, acted like a dude, everything. Then one time she took her shirt off and… yeah.

My instant question – Did this person ever say they were a girl?

Well, she was [hand gestures] and – [interrupted by me. Ten minutes later, after a bit of wriggling…] She didn’t say it…

Then, my friend, how do you know? If this person truly identified as a girl, I’m not sure it’s likely you would have hung around with this person for that long without someone correcting you on pronouns, for a start. You can’t just make these assumptions based on anatomy. Sex is a broken category system anyway; we don’t know where things begin and end, we can’t generalise it to the whole population, we invented it based on a collection of symptoms, we originally used it to mean gender.

The whole story is playing into the trans/non-cis-people-as-deceivers trope. If this person is a man, my acquaintance was being profoundly disrespectful and harmful by misgendering him. If this person is non-binary, the same applies (with the added caveat that I really want to meet that person because I know no non-binary, and don’t think I know any non-cis, people in meatspace). If this person is a girl, well, that works out well for everyone because my acquaintance hasn’t been being cissexist and his friend hasn’t been misgendered – except for all the time before he ‘found out.’

So in honour of this acquaintance of mine, here’s a guide for cis (and non-cis??) binary people running into someone (name, here, of X) who doesn’t fit with their binary view of the world.

  1. Don’t get angry. Seriously. X is not trying to fuck with you. X is most likely looking like X does because X likes it. It’s quite simple, really.
  2. Don’t knaw at it. There is no reason why you should be assuming anyone‘s gender at first sight, whether they fit into your idea of the binary or not. X is no different.
  3. Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter. Honestly. In most situations, gender is totally irrelevent. If you don’t know X, gender may well be made clear during introductions and if not it’s not that important. If you get a pronoun wrong, apologise, remember the preferred one, and move on. If you do know X, chances are you’ve either been told or are in a position to ask.
  4. Don’t ask unnecessarily. Sometimes you seriously don’t need to know. Situations like these are when you’ve seen X on the other side of the road, going the other way. Or are passing X in the shop. If you’re never likely to have to talk to or about X, there’s no need to ask. However, if you are going to be more closely acquainted with X, by all means ask, but…
  5. Don’t be too loud about it. Asking is always the best, if you’re not told, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to walk up to someone and say, ‘What gender are you?’ at the top of your voice. You take X aside and say in a quiet voice, ‘Excuse me, I apologise if this is intrusive; would you be comfortable telling me what your gender/pronoun is, since I’d rather not get it wrong and make a dangerous mistake,’ or something along those lines. Do so in a non-threatening way – don’t stand between X and a way out of the conversation if X desires it. If X turns out to be cis and binary and takes offense, don’t put yourself in danger. There are some cis binary folks who can be quite aggressive when their privilege is called into question. Leave the situation, find a friend, stress that you were trying to be considerate, stand close to authority figures.
  6. Don’t mess up. Once you know X’s gender/s/non-gender/s and pronouns, remember them. If you slip, apologise and move on. Respect X’s self-knowledge. If X has chosen not to tell you, respect that as well.
  7. Don’t comment on genitalia. Ever. Unless you’re dating with an eye to a sexual relationship, and even then you should wait for X to be comfortable talking about X’s genitalia.
  8. Don’t ridicule, Other or police X’s self-expression. See the first point.

I have probably missed many things out, but it covers quite a few of the gross breaches of human decency I’ve come across myself. I’ve seen a lot of these tropes happen, mainly to myself, and read about all of them happening to other people. Ignoring these basic points leads to a lot of really shitty situations, including my acquaintance’s little story above.

At least I’m pretty sure he’s not seeing me as binary… I just wish he’d learn that I’m not an isolated case and that he needs to apply the principles he uses to deal with me respectfully to others.

Quick personal post – TW for discussion of hatred of non-heterosexuals.

So, yonks ago, this happened. This girl, who states openly that she is a homophobe, is in my psychology class. I keep getting put in a group with her. This makes me extremely uncomfortable for obvious reasons – I am non-heterosexual, hatred of non-heterosexuals is likely to coincide with hatred of non-cis folks, I am non-cis. There are ridiculous numbers of rumours about my sexuality going around, I don’t know what she’s heard, I don’t know what she believes, I don’t know whether she’s stumbled upon the truth from the many people I am out to.

I said to myself that I would keep my head down and hope that the teachers didn’t group me with her for group work, and that if they did I would do something about it. It’s happened twice now in quick succession. I have the email addresses of my teachers. I want to email them asking them politely to not group me with her.

However, there are problems. Do I tell them why, out myself to people in a position of authority over me? Do I not tell them why and risk them thinking me a petty feuder? What will happen if I send them? They’ve known her for years, me for months. She seems to be a bit of a favourite pupil, and while I’m not an unfavourite I’m still an unknown quantity. What if either of the teachers are heterosexist? I know one of them is cissexist, since she managed to trigger me her very first lesson, so that doesn’t bode well. What if they want to speak to her about it?

This is literally just a personal ramble, putting down into the void of the internet my feelings around the issue. I have no idea what I’m going to do. I might send an email to my favourite of the teachers and ask her to sensitively explain it to the others…