Trigger warning for homophobia, transphobia, erasure and discussion of suicide.
Browsing through the BBC News site, the four main Welsh party leaders have made videos for the launch of Stonewall Cymru’s YouTube channel It Gets Better… Today. The aim of this campaign, inspired by America’s It Gets Better project, is to tell lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers that they ‘don’t have to wait for their lives to improve – they can be great now,’ (from Stonewall Cymru) and that ‘they don’t have to wait for life to improve as bullying is being tackled’ (from the BBC).
If it really is a start of a concerted push against homophobia from politicians and media figures, then that’s obviously a good thing. As far as I can gather, one major failing of the It Gets Better campaign is that there’s little or no concrete action going on, and it’s based on the foundation of ‘hold on, then later on things will get better.’ This one seems to counteract that by saying, no, you shouldn’t have to wait. Which is good, although empty if there’s no action taken. And by the way, action doesn’t mean posters; my old school had the SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY : GET OVER IT posters up everywhere and I still experienced quite a bit of homophobia, despite not even being out to myself as any kind of queer, and I still wouldn’t have been comfortable speaking to teachers about it.
BUT. I addressed the positives first because that’s my normal essay style. (do you agree ‘yes because… NO NO FUCKING NO because THIS, GODDAMN IT, THIS!!!’)
BUT. What about transphobia? Stonewall has always ignored or denigrated the non-cis population. They have given awards to transphobes. Sometimes they have claimed to represent the T in LGBT, but they’ve generally done more harm than good. Again, non-cis people are being thrown under the bus, being ignored and erased utterly. In the UK, it was found in ‘the UK’s largest survey of trans people (N = 872)’ (http://www.nmhdu.org.uk/our-work/mhep/gender/transgender/) that 34% of adult trans people have attempted suicide. According to the LBGT Excellence Centre Wales, ‘the national suicide rate for Trans People is estimated at 3 in 100,000, 31% of this group. It is estimated that 1 in 7 of diagnosed Trans People attempt suicide at least once during their life. It is estimated that the main causes of “Trans Suicide” are harassment , denial of treatment, and absence of support. It is also estimated that 1 in 200 transsexuals commit suicide within 5 yrs of having Gender Reassignment surgery, as a result of depression brought on by harassment / bullying.’
So yeah, transphobia and transphobic bullying totally aren’t worth campaigning against, because, like, no-one gets affected by it…
Dear top politicians; you don’t just have a responsibility towards non-heterosexual people in your country. You have a responsibility towards non-cis people in your country as well. We’re hurting. We’re dying. We’re bleeding. Stonewall is not our friend, and by endorsing them you are signalling that you are not our friends either. And we need you. Damn but we need you. Don’t abandon yet another population. Begin to take a stand against the kyriarchy – all the kyriarchy – in our society. Then maybe faith in you will return. From someone who exists, despite everyone’s protestations to the contrary.
Transphobia is rampant. Possibly more than homophobia, although the two are so closely intertwined in most of the cis, straight bullies in schools that it’s very hard to tell which you’re dealing with. I’ve experienced both. As far as homophobia went, there was lip service towards its wrongness. There was lip service towards the wrongness of many other types of kyriarchy. Transphobia… anything to do with being trans… never mentioned. Ever. Except by the kids who saw someone different, and went on the homophobic and transphobic warpath.
* * *
On a side note, I think I, as a non-binary person, got explicitly included in a lesson the other day. In history, the guy that takes it said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, and anyone who isn’t a lady or a gentleman is welcome to participate too.’ He probably didn’t mean it the way I took it; he was probably being sarcastic, or facetious. But it gave me a warm little thrill inside and I really want to send him an email thanking him, but I daren’t because I’m scared of coming out to my teachers. It feels pathetic that I’m thrilled by these tiny, tiny, tiny things…
Seriously, though, unless he’s saying it to every class, what were the chances of him saying it in the presence of a non-binary student?