Tuesday, 2 December 2008

"They're comming"

I was asked to do a post on this link: http://presetyourjet.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/they/ . It's definitely worth a look I don't think I've ever laughed so hard. I tried to upload it on here but I couldn't work out how to. As many of you know technology is not my thing.

The article is about the use of the word "them" Most of us are familiar with the concept of the "us and them" mentality. It is an idea frequently perpetuated by governments, bosses and the ruling class elite.


"The war on terror" has been and sadly continues to be an effective "us and them" manipulation tool. This is not a new or unique technique Nazzi Germany and McCarthy America also provide examples of the "us and them" manipulation technique in action.


The youtube clip which accompanies this article did make me laugh, but at the same time it is frightening. While to us it seems ridicules we must keep in mind that there are people who take this seriously. In America we witnessed the powerful and expensive campaigns behind "Prop 8." The right to same sex marriage was lost in 3 of the 5 states that tried to ban it. This happened amidst the election of Barak Obama, the first black president of the US - Are we heading in to a time of greater tolerance, of more left winged politics? Don't count on it!


This add, like the "Be alert not alarmed" adds and the lovely fridge magnates were aimed at creating fear and creating an enemy. Any enemy is better than the government.


Same sex marriage remains illegal in Australia, Howard banned it in 2004 and Rudd refuses to repeal this ban. Idealistic, but blind Labor loyalists point to the ability of same sex couples to pursue civil unions in some state. Is this equality? Sure, it is, it's just that heterosexuals are MORE equal! These inconsistent marriage/partnership laws create a hierarchy of relationships and they most certainly reinforce the us and them mentality. Queers and straights do not have the same rights. Legally we are not equal. This legal inequality separates us in to the "us" and "them" categories.


So laugh at the crackpots in the youtube clip, it is well worthy of a hearty belly laugh, but remember these crackpots are a wealthy and therefore politically powerful minority who have robed us of our rights and will continue to do so!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Monday, 17 November 2008

Rally: Repeal the Same Sex Marriage Ban

This Saturday 22nd
Speakout and Petition Handover in support of Gay Marriage
12:30 State Library


The ban of same sex marriage across 3 states in America and the campaign to ban it in more, is a painful reminder that not only must we continue to fight to GAIN our rights, but we must fight to MAINTAIN our rights!
Protestors in Iowa pictured left.

I have been involved with a group that has been petitioning for equal marriage rights over the past year (of course the over all campaign began much earlier). It is quite clear that public opinion is in our favour. Our petitions have been signed by over 30,000 people. a recent Age poll showed that 79% (an overwhelming majority) of Australians support equal rights for same sex couples. In reaction to this public opinion the Rudd government announced a raft of changes to homophobic laws; many of which would be automatically reversed if same sex marriage was legalised and if passed may save the Government massive amounts of money. None the less the proposal was indeed a victory for our side but it falls well short of the campaigns demands!

The ban imposed by Howard in 2004 was a massive slap in the face to queers and activist, a curt reminder to "Keep in our places"-we will NOT!!

This Saturday, in the city at the State Library there will be an important rally which aims to put pressure on the government to repeal the ban and make Rudd follow through with his legislation changes. At the rally the petition will be handed to a Greens Senator, to table the issue in parliament.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Sodomy

I'm bussy with exams and too lazzy to do a proper blog post so i thought i'd just post this instead....

An interesting email sent to me by my Girl Friend today... (Note while she tallks of the 'Torah' as she is Jewish, Christians have also included this in their holly scriptures (The Bible) I'm not as familiar with the holly scriptures of Islam but it would not suprise me if the Koran had the same or a simmilar story)

The English word Sodomy is derived from the destruction of Sodom in this week's Torah Portion, Vayeira. A common misconception is that Sodom was destroyed for engaging in homosexual acts (thus the term Sodomy). However, these homosexual acts were merely manifestations of Sodom's real sin: hostility to strangers. Sodomites would rape visitors due to a hatred for outsiders.

In light of this realization, perhaps we should revisit the definition of the word sodomy. A word that for so long has been used to induce shame and self-loathing in homosexuals could instead be used to discourage homophobia and other forms of intolerance against "outsiders" in our society.

The message of the destruction of Sodom is thus to welcome and embrace all people in our community -- not in spite of their difference -- but precisely because of it.

It just goes to show, the meaning of holly scriptures, like most text, is all in the niterpretation.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Q+A: Kicking Ass To Get The Job Done!


Q+A: Queers and Allies, Questioning and Answering is a group that was set up and run by students at Northcote High. At the conclusions of Rainbow Day 08 (an event i will talk about at a latter date) we were asked to speak at a forum of teachers and other high school workers (school nurses, welfare staff, principles etc) about our group. Bellow is an extract from the speech I gave.

On this day which we had worked so hard for not only to make it good, but to be allowed to do it in the first place we had a speaker from PFLAG. Kerri was informative and entertaining, we were gratefully to have her there. However before she left she told us that she believed that "Northcote High should be the blue print for all schools" she then went on to tell us that it's "all about the head" She felt that the existence of Q+A, our ability to run Rainbow Day and celebrate sexual and gender diversity was because of our principal (little did she know our teacher banned the use of the word "sexual" as in "sexual diversity" on any display we had up at the school and did not understand what "gender diversity" is! Anyone involved with the group knows that that's not true!

We had to campaign hard to have this day and she refused to let us have casual clothes on that day. Our original idea had been to have a free dress day allocating a colour to each year level, each year level would have represented a colour of the rainbow and we were going to ask students to submit a gold coin donation for this. This is standard practice in events at the school. We had hoped to raise money for a queer youth related group. She wouldn't allow this. She also wouldn't allow us to have the free dress day arguing that year 12 students would get to excited if they were allowed to wear free dress and this would cause them to do poorly in their exams.

She also did not want us to put on 'Rainbow Day', but we gave her little choice. Presenting a letter to the school committee which involves parents and Friends of the schools, and anything tabled at the meeting goes on public record. Presenting at a staff meeting, I announced that we had proposed that such a day be held. As a result I gathered much staff support. This put the principal in a bad position to deny us the day. (Ofcourse Kerri, from PFLAG had no way of knowing this and we don't blame her for the misconception)

Freedoms Are Won Not Given! I know, i know you're sick of me saying that, but it's true SO true! Queer and Allied students have not been given anything but challenges by the school administration. We have fought for every minuscule gain we have achieved in our aim to make NHS a safer place for queer and questioning students.
The point of this speech was 1) to offer advice as to how to develop a Queer group at a high school and 2) to attempt to show teachers how much power their STUDENTS have. Students CAN make a difference and at Northcote High we are!
so any way, here's part of the speech....
We have met and dealt with numerous challenges as a group.

  1. The first was that we had our posters taken down by school administration. So the simplest piece of advice I have for you is make sure you get the right approval to have posters up!
  2. Sadly we had a number of posters being torn down by students. Largely dealing with this was resilience, we just had to keep putting up the posters-which did play on our environmental consciences a bit. We also quickly learnt where they were taken down from, and where they were mostly likely to stay up. We found putting them in classroom windows and staff offices facing out meant that they were not torn down.

  3. Our group was largely populated by year 12’s who wont be here next year. Overcoming this so far has been largely through word of mouth, having the younger students who do come encourage mates to get along. We soon found that close to 50% of the students coming to our meetings were non-year 12 students. Today has also had a recruitment focus. Telling students about the group, advertising our meetings and we’ve planned a special meeting tomorrow with a guest speaker. We spoke at the year 9 assembly, and went around to the year 10 and 11 homeroom classes to advertise the day and the group-In the hope that these students will be able to take on leadership positions in the group next year.

  4. Before we could put on rainbow day or get serious about a campaign to reduce levels of queerphobia we had to have the administration of the school accept that there was a problem in the school. When putting up posters to advertise our group we encountered hostility over the word “make” as in “make NHS a queer safe space” There were some people who disliked the suggestion that NHS was NOT already a queer safe space. Certainly we felt that this was something the school administration could not judge as they’re not students. They don’t experience and witness queerphobia in the same way we do. Suggestion that any queerphobia in the school was the result of “one or two bullies” was highly insulting to the group and put a bit of a block on what we wanted to do. After discussions and several proposed plans we decided as a group we really couldn’t do any work until the school was forced to recognize the queerphobia with in it. We submitted a letter to our school principal and school council detailing our concerns, with some suggestions for improvement including rainbow day as well as collecting anecdotes from students and teachers detailing experiences of queerphobia in the school. This resulted in us being invited to talk to staff meetings and committees- which has raised awareness of queerphobia among staff and has put sexuality and gender diversity back on the agenda.

    I hope what I’ve said has been usefull but I must stress what I think is possibly the most crucial point: For their to be real change there must be student led and organized groups! Students will listen more to other students than teachers and a group like Q+A provides an ability for self empowerment of queer and allied students. This sense of being able to make change and stand up for what you believe in creates confidence and students create their OWN safe place.

So far this year Q+A has created a year 7 lesson plan which has been used to a great degree of success, put on an excellent day which sent a clear message to the school that NHS was a place of gender and sexuality diversity and that such diversity deserved to be celebrated, we have raised conscious levels of students and teachers, we have had a commitment from the school curriculum committee to make queer-friendly changes to the education and the manner in which staff are trained and simply by existing and meeting regularly we have given queer and question students a place to feel safe and supported, supported not only in that we will never mock them in regards tot heir sexuality and gender identity, we are also providing a support in which we work together to overcome the discrimination that Queer and questioning students are forced to put up with. We WILL be back next year! In fact our own curriculum committee (a Q+A sub group)intends to meet at the conclusion of exams to make reforms to the year 7 health curriculum which will then be put in place for following years.

Friday, 10 October 2008

The History of Queer Pride Flags

I've been doing some research on the Queer Pride Flag. I had heard that there used to be 8 stripes, with a hot pink and a turquoise and that each colour meant something. The fact that there are a number of different colours also represents diversity I did however learn more than I expected...

The Rainbow (or Gay Pride) Flag was created by artist and vexillographer (fancy ass name for flag- designer) Gilbert Baker, a friend of the late Harvey Milk, who was an American politician who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was assassinated in November 1978-the same year the flag began to be used prominently in San Fransisco. Baker, dyed and sewed the first flag himself. The flag debuted at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade. It has since been used around the world as a symbol of LGBT unity in many variations, including adaptations such as bumper stickers and decals. The Rainbow Flag is frequently credited as being recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers (ICoFM). There is no such thing as the ICoFM but was actually a slip of the tongue in an interview where baker confused the organization FIAV (English version of FIAV, or the International Association of Vexillological Associations) and the event Flag Congress.

Changes made to the flag:

There is much debate as to how the flag went from 8 to 7 to 6 and some accounts state that it went strait from 8 to 6. Here are a number of the theories:
1. The pink stripe was drooped because Baker ran out of pink Dye

2. San Francisco-based Paramount Flag Co. began selling seven-striped (top to bottom: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) flags from its Polk Street retail store, which was located in a large gay neighborhood. These flags were surplus stock which had originally been made for the the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, a Masonic organization for young women. As these were so readily available, they for a time became the 'gay pride' flag out of convenience.
Baker goes commercial...

3. Apparently after the pink was dropped by Baker and his volunteers, Baker desired an even number of stripes on the flag.

Baker asked Paramount to make vertical banners that would be split and displayed from the angular double bars of the old-style lamp posts on Market Street. Baker and Paramount’s vice president Ken Hughes agreed to drop the hot pink and turquoise stripes and replace the indigo stripe with royal blue — resulting in three stripes on one side of the lamp post and three on the other.

The reality was that the gay community at this time (1978-1979) used almost any flag with a rainbow of stripes. Here are some examples of other rainbow flags...






International co-operative alliance (Christian socialists)


Italian peace flag, same design as the Greek peace flag which reads "epihnh" -peace in Greek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_symbol#The_Peace_Rainbow_Flag)


Flag of lingua Franca Nova


Jewish autonomous oblast in Russia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Autonomous_Oblast)


Meher Baba -Indian spirituality
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba%27s_flag)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Birth of Sexual Opression in Australia.

I got a tad distracted as I was revising for my HIStory exam, I would like to call it HERstory, but what we are taught in school is very much HIS-story!....

We generally like to believe throughout history that majority opinion goes from worse to at the very least, less worse. Sadly this isn’t always the case. Governments will use what ever oppression they deem necessary at any particular point in time to create their desired effect; Whether that be anti-Muslim racism and the fear of terrorism to support US imperialism or sexual oppression to ‘strengthen’ the population among other oppressions. Sexual Oppression is sharpest when governments most require the reproduction of the working class. Cipi Morgan points out in her article ‘Colonial invasion and homophobia in Australia’ “heads rolled across Europe like billiard balls as kings, queens and clergymen scrambled for complete control over the lives of ordinary people” We see this also during WWI in Australia, with a ban on the importation of contraceptives, and again in Nazzi Germany when women were recruited to reproduce with soldiers, and queers and feminist were thrown into concentration camps (along with Jews, socialists, gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses and the many other outspoken individuals and groups). There is minimal if any ‘progression’- rather there are peaks in different opinions based on political struggles and the government’s desperate protection of the economy in our ‘national interest.’ We see much time, but little progress between Hennry Parks’s statement in 1866, that in the business of colonisation, “there is only one way to do it-by spreading over it all the associations and connections of family life” and Howard 2000 assertion that children require one mother and one father-ruling out any aberration to the nuclear family.
"Freedoms Are Won not Given!!!"

As I have asserted again and again on this blog and in my life outside this blog (yes I do have one) we as women, queers and allies have been GIVEN NOTHING! All the rights we have were hard fought for and won. Including the right to vote, the right to use contraception, the right to abortion, the right to have relationships with members of the same sex (not marital yet, but we are working on it!) We find our selves constantly having to defend the rights we do have let alone the ones we continue to struggle for (pro choice rally this Saturday, starts at 12.00 at the state library.)

There can be no doubt of the significant damage done to Australia’s indigenous people and the environment following the British Invasion in 1788. The land was considered to be 'Terra Nullius'- a land which is not inhabited. Cook and the British law of the time had decided that the "Indians" he encountered had no right to the land as they were not 'improving the land'-because we all know how greatly European invasion 'improved' the land.

The extreme poverty of the under classes of Britain had been forced into crime. The numbers of this massive class were so large that they could not be contained within England and so deportation to the "new land" began.

There is no evidence to suggest that queerphobia existed prior to European invasion. In fact in many pre-colonial and pre-class societies there is evidence to suggest that both sexual and gender diversity was more acceptable though different terms were used. Sister-girls are an example of this in Indigenous Australian communities. (Sister-girl: The acceptance and visibility of sistergirls is often considered far greater than gay men or lesbians in aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Sistergirls are biological men who are effeminate or live their lives as women. Communities will often accept and recognise sister girls as women. Sistergirls undertake the roles and responsibilities of women having relationships with straight men. However sistergirls do not generally identify as transgender.) Societies in North America and Siberia are also said to have practised transexuality and homosexuality. In many ancient societies same sex relations were not only accepted but exalted. Examples include the Mycenaen society of around 12000BC and the Athenian and African societies of 400-300 BC.

Even with the rise of the church “homosexuality” as a separate sexual or identity category remained unknown. The term “homosexuality” was first coined by a German scientist;
Karl-Maria Kertbeny in 1869.

According to Australian historians R.W. Connell and T.H. Irving, the panic around sexuality flared up in the 1820’s. with Governor Arthur’s booting out of officials for offences such as “adultery” and general sexual immorality. They argue that “particular venom was directed against homosexual relationships formed by many convicts and pastoral workers” adding that “unmarried convict women got a fair pasting as sluts and whores” They also point out that although the “1812 parliamentary inquiry into transportation had hardly raised a question about sex, the 1837 inquiry…positively smouldered with innuendo, scandal and moralising.”

Morgan points out the sexism inherent in the over used metaphor in colonial studies which “depicts the agent of colonisation as man and the tragic subject as woman (some kind of irresistible “wilderness” for man’s exploration).

The new ruling class of settler Australians struggled to gain control of the largely prior-convict working class. Family units have long been understood as being an effective way of controlling workers. For the creation of families, wom*n were essential. There were offcourse few wom*n in settler Australia. The Port Philip District (now the state of Victoria) had 75 women to 2000 men in 1838.
The much celebrated Caroline Chisholm, a member of the British ruling class worked to domesticate the ‘frisky convict males’ She lobbied with missionary zeal for the importation of young wom*n. These young wom*n she argued, would galvanise the establishment of an Australian working class family- the platform of an obedient society
The wom*n and their children, Chisholm said in 1847, would act as “God’s police” taming unruly male workers.
This wave of women was intended for the sexual and domestic service of the state. Chisholm herself was involved in first the education of these women; teaching them the skills of cooking, cleaning and elocution, Chisholm then helped to ensure these young wom*n acquired jobs, as domestic labourers. Young wom*n were encouraged to travel to the “new worlds” of which Australia was one in order to find “respectablility” The colonies were advirtised as offering "respectable" work for a wom*n and eventually a greater prospect married-Marriage anf family life ofcourse being the ultimate goal for wom*n and the only way for a wom*n to acheive true respectability. Ruling class wom*n in Australia are reported to have complained about the difficulty in finding female domestic labour and that when found it was expensive and hard to keep. This shows us the vital role that wom*n play in sexism and the relation of sexism to class society as opposed to the gender of the perpetrator.

The use of “decent” working class families by the ruling class in Australia mirrored that of England; With the intensifying of gender stereotypes and the extraction of unpaid female labour in reproducing, feeding, clothing and caring for workers. At this same time the first of the trials of homosexuals were occurring, including that of Oscar Wilde in 1895.

Homosexuality was not invented in Colonial Australia however it certainly made it’s debut as public enemy number one in the eyes of the ruling class.

The old fashioned, conservative, bloodstained and oppressive values of the ruling class are no less prevalent in today’s society, though they tend to manifest themselves in different ways. Like all oppressions, sexual oppression is a tool used to keep the working class in it’s place.

Writting Themselves in Again

This is the summary of the key findings from the 'Writing themselves in again' report on the sexuality, health and well-being of same sex attracted young people in Australia.


1749 australian young queer people answered the survey.


I have sumarised the finding of this report and put them into a slide show, 1st slide pictured left. To be shown by our school Q+A group at a staff meeting.

About Your Sexual Feelings:

Key finding:
•Young women were more likely to identify as bisexual or no label than men
•More than a third of young people realised their sexual differences very early in their lives. (over half of young men and women cited realising they were not heterosexual before the age of 14)
•There was no relationship between age at first realization of sexual feelings, current attraction and gender of sexual partner.
•Once young people reframed their experiences oh homophobia as an issue of bullying and not of truths about themselves, they were more likely to feel better about being same sex attracted.

About Your Sexual Behaviour
Key findings:
•SSAY (Same sex attracted Young People) were more likely to be sexually active earlier than their Year 10 and 12 peers in secondary school
•SSA were more likely to be having sex that matched their sexual attraction in 1998.
•65% used a condom at their last penetrative encounter (58% of young women and 68% young men)
•10% reported being diagnosed with an ATI
•11% of young women had been pregnant (one third of these women identify as being attracted exclusively to their own gender), 10% of the 15-18 year old sub-sample
•6% reported having been diagnosed with some form of hepatitis

How do People Treat you?

Key Findings:
•38% of participants reported unfair treatment on the basis of their sexuality
•44% reported verbal abuse and 16% reported physical abuse because of their sexuality (figures are largely unchanged since the 1998 report)
•School was the most dangerous place for young people to be with 74% of young people who were abused experiencing this abuse at school (80% young men, 48% young women)

Impact of Discrimination and abuse

Key Findings:
•Homophobic abuse has a profound impact on young peoples well-being
ØThose who had suffered abuse felt less safe at school, home, on social occasions and sport
ØThose who had experience abuse were more likely to self-harm, report a sexually transmissible infection and use a range of legal and illegal drugs
ØYoung people felt the most safe at home and the least safe at sporting events

About your drug use

Key findings
•In 2004, the reported use of all drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, part drugs and heroin was down on reported use in 1998 (percentage of young people who had injected drugs dropped from 11% to 4%)
•Drugs remain substantially higher than for heterosexual youth, for example, over double the number of SSAY have injected drugs
•There remains a significant relationship between homophobic abuse and drug use
•Drug use serves a number of important functions in these peoples lives.

Disclosure and Support

Key Findings
•Support from all confidants was higher in 2004 than it was in 1998
•Young people who had support felt significantly better about their sexuality
•There was an increase in support from teachers and student welfare coordinators in 2004
•Almost three quarters of young people had spoken to someone on the internet about their sexuality

Sex education information

•The internet was the most important source of information about homophobia and discrimination (71%), gay (73%) and Lesbian (60%) relationships and gay (69%) and lesbian (54) safe sex
•80% of these SSAY found sex education at school to be useless or fairly useless, while 20% found it to be useful

Friday, 26 September 2008

Conversions

Bisexual day was Tuesday, this week. How did everybody celebrate? I danced in the rain in Saint Kilda to Michael buble with my G.F-Yes, yes we are perfectly aware of how lame and disgracefully cutesie we are!


(We took it for granted that in Saint Kilda we did not have to even check for rainbow stickers on doors..we were wrong! I advise against the 'Falafel Kitchen' in Saint Kilda, the falafel isn't that good and the man who works there appears to have a distaste for lesbians and pigeons-the pigeon was not with us)

I also encouraged many heterosexuals to use the day as an excuse to experiment. Out of ten, three did! :) One of the wom*n who experimented latter reported to me "OMG! I'm never going back! [to men]" Now I don't believe that you can "convert" or "recruit" someone to a sexuality. Her mates have accused me of "turning" her. It's simply not possible.

She herself reflects that she had "...always sorta been interested" and had at various stages in her life "questioned" She says she now has a lot more questioning to do!
Some people claim to "just know" and maybe that's true, but I think part of being queer means questioning. Maybe not for everyone, but for many of us I believe there is a period of confusion as we struggle to come to terms with our identity, and our sexuality and gender identity, and what impact that has on our identity.

Generally (well as far as I know) Heterosexuals do not have to question, their heterosexuality, It's just taken for granted. A friend of mine once said "well if you have to even think about it, you must be [queer] because people like 'us' (referring to himself and his gf) don't even have to think about it!" This may not be true, I know people who identify as heterosexuals who at some stage in their life had questioned their sexuality. This may have more to do with the fact the Both sexuality and gender identity are fluid-changeable!

Jess was recently berated by a teacher for using the phrase "transcending society's norms" The teacher argued that Queers "differ" , they don't transcend. Between us we thought of a number of reasons why the term "transcend" is used within the political-queer community. On reflection of the process of questioning that many queers have to go through, I feel that transcend is defiantly the correct term. While sexuality and gender identity are not necessarily choices queers do have to contemplate and consider their sexuality and hopefully come to terms with it and embrace it.

The need for reflection comes as a result of the fact that we are a minority and everywhere we look there are messages telling us that it's wrong, that relationships are between a man and a woman, conforming to the assigned-at-birth-sex gender roles. On embracing this identity after a process of deep reflection, queers have indeed TRANSCENDED societies norm. They did not choose to be queer but the actively worked to understand and better accept who they are in a way that most heterosexuals do not. That said heterosexuals may have their own identity crisis, but these are of a different nature.

so TRANSCEND away my pretties.....

Monday, 22 September 2008

Chapter Three

And so the Story of jessica concludes....

III


Her name was Catherine. She was even more attractive close up. Both she and Cameron were in the café, serving customers their greasy food and watered-down drinks. She was very pleasant to him, remembering his name and reminding him strongly of when he first met Natalie…
He couldn’t possibly be gay. He was very much into females. Cameron wasn’t quite lusting over Catherine, but it was safe to say he was infatuated. He loved talking to her, and listened intently to everything she’d say…
Strike!
Sometimes Jess came out, even though he was wearing pants and a polo shirt. This puzzled him a bit, as he couldn’t feel that he good bring his other half into conversation without those things. He was happy, though, as whenever Jess said a joke, Catherine – or Kat, as he came to call her – would laugh prettily.
He almost felt content. He would enjoy work, he was sure of it. And maybe he’d start dating Kat… but first they’d just be friends. Close friends, and then… and then…
Strike!

So, this is my friend Twilight. She’s... a cross-dresser, too, I guess. I thought you might like to talk. Twilight, this is Cam; the guy I spoke to you about?
Howdy!
Hi, how are you?
Good, actually. Able’s been speaking a lot about you. I assume you’ve realized that I’m transgendered, too?
Ohhhh… you mean, like a cross-dresser, right?
Uh. Not quite…
Aheheh… Cam, sweetie, Twilight doesn’t really like being called a cross-dresser. I’ve… well, I’ve been told that cross-dressing’s … a derogatory term, to some people? Like, it refers to someone who only dresses up for the thrill of it?
Yeah. But, uh, don’t worry, Cam…
Oh... Um, sorry. That is… I mean, I didn’t realize it meant…
Like I said, man, no worries. For all I know… you are a cross-dresser?
Well… I don’t really… I mean, I’m not really turned on by it, no.
Ah…?
It’s like she’s another person. But… she’s does things better than Cam. Know what I mean, Twi? You must.
Ohhhhhhh.
Yeah. It is a bit like that. She’s… right. She’s what I should be all the time. The best part of me.
Are you sure it’s just that?
Eh?
Huh?
Are you sure she’s just a part of you? Wouldn’t you like to be her all the time?
Strike!
“Sweet! Time to start closing!” Kat had an expression of pure relief as she started cleaning up. Cam couldn’t help but smile.
“We both clock off now?” Cam was unsure.
“Yep!” She grinned like a madman. “I can go home and watch all of Gantz…”
“Gantz?” It took Cam a few moments to register. “Oh, you’re an anime fan?”
“Yeah. You too?”
“Aheheh, yeah, I guess I am…”
Strike!
“What sort of stuff do you like?” The two of them said it in unison, and Kat giggled.
“Ohh… lots of things. Most of it, really. Not Naruto though…”
The two of them laughed about Naruto, its legion of fans, and just things in general. Cam was happy; they had something else in common! He didn’t need a reason to be friends, now; they could go anime shopping and visit all the conventions together…
Strike!
“What about Bleach? You like Bleach, Cam?”
“Well… I’m more of a Yu Yu Hakusho fan myself…”
Strike!
“And Evangelion? Usually I don’t like mecha, but… wow…”
Strike!
And it clicked. That’s what he loved most about Jessica. As the sounds of people cheering mixed with the crashes of bowling, he had an epiphany. He loved Jess because she was striking. Where Cam was boring, awkward, and mundane, Jessica was funny, offbeat and amusing. She made a lasting impression. That was what he wanted. To be remembered, to leave people flabbergasted at her – no, his – skill, or talent, or beauty…
He wanted to throw them to their feet with Jessica’s beauty. He wanted to topple them as many would topple all the pins in a strike, to leave them open with his piercing ability. He wanted to be noticed.
She wanted to be noticed. Jessica Strike wanted to stand out as bright as a flare at night, and she would do it smiling.
Cameron was unsure, now. Was this Jess talking, or him? Did Twilight… was Twilight right? Was it all just Jessica?
They packed up the store, and even through his confusion Cameron Flint was for once happy.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Chapter 2

II



Um. Achilles… we’re mates, right? Friends?
Lol ya
If I told you a secret, you’d keep it? And not be too weirded out?
Roflmao no I wont we r frends tel me lol
Achilles… I’m a cross-dresser. I like to dress up as a girl, sometimes. It’s a part of me, you know? I just… I’m telling all my close friends.
Lolololol! U r jokin ya?
Uh… nope.
Lol! Fag! U r so gay! Hahahahahahahahahah do u like to lick men? Suck the cock?
I’m not fucking gay! Come on Achilles, stop messing around, I’m serious! What do you honestly think?
I honestly think u r a fag
Lol pools closed. Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids Aids
… Fucking Jesus, Achilles… you’re such a bastard
Rofles I m not Achilles any more faggot
?
I m stymphalion

“He just said that to you? Well, what do you expect when you make all your friends off 4chan?” Natalie sounded anxious and a little bit worried. She didn’t often hear Cam this moody, and it worried her. They had dated on and off for around a year, and became extraordinarily close; they were still close even now. “Do you have any reason why? Did you do something to make him cut?”
“Um, well, maybe. I mean, not really, he was just being a prick…”
“Come on, Cam. You can tell me anything, for Gods’ sake. What happened?”
“Well… I mean,” Cameron was unsure. This was an ex-girlfriend he was talking with, after all. Maybe she didn’t want to know. No, no, that wasn’t it; he should have told her earlier. He was a selfish inconsiderate arse not to tell her; his best friend, after all! The only person he spoke more to was possibly Able, but she was just a net friend. And she knew anyway.
But he couldn’t tell her now. She’d demand to know why he was hiding it. She wouldn’t understand. She’d hate him, and call him a faggot, spit on him. They wouldn’t be friends any longer. Just… acquaintances.
But what would Jessica do? What would she do?
No, it was dumb to think of that. Jessica was just Cameron Flint. They’d do the same thing, wouldn’t they? She wasn’t really significant at all, to be honest. Just… something small…
Fuck it.
“I’m a crossdresser.”
Natalie laughed at that one. “Yeah, right. Okay, Cam-“
“-No, seriously.”
“… what? Really? Like, really really?”
“Yeah. Um.”
“Oh God. Um. Well…”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier…”
“And you’re... you’re gay, then?”
“No. Not at all.”
“Ah… oh God, Cam, I’m not losing you, am I?”
“Losing… me?”
“As a friend.”
“No. Not at all. I’m still the same… Cam…”
“Oh, um, uh…” She trailed off.
Natalie didn’t talk for much longer after that. She promptly hung up, leaving Cam rather mystified as to the whole situation. She wasn’t too upset – that was good! She wasn’t angry, she didn’t make threats, and she didn’t burst into tears. She seemed fine…
Doubt, as if it were a malign cancer, twisted in his gut. She was faking it. The well-being was a mask. Cam had no doubt she had been taken back, and a little scared. But what if she never called again? What if she refused to answer her phone, and removed him online?
Did she really think he was gay?
If it was possible, the doubt deepened. What else could he be? He’d never heard of a straight cross-dresser before. He liked dressing up as a female. Wearing his older sister’s skirt, or sometimes her blouse, made him feel complete. He was naturally much happier when Jessica was in control, when it was her talking, and he did sometimes wonder what it would be like to have sex like a woman…
No – no, he wasn’t gay. But then what was he? Cameron was confused, and he often wondered what he was. Who was he? Was he more Jessica, or more Cameron? Cameron was weak and pathetic, while Jessica was his opposite in almost every regard. Come to think of it, she was like a completely different person.
Schizophrenia.
Did he have multiple personalities? Cameron Flint and Jessica, maybe more… was he sick? Did he need help? Was something unbalanced up there, in his head?
The thoughts continued, and Cameron couldn’t help but whimper as he decided to start getting ready for bed.

Checking his mobile, Cam read that it was 3:42 in the morning. Slowly gathering the energy to get up, he sat in bed, rubbing his weary eyes. He wasn’t thirsty, and he didn’t need to take a piss. Why did he wake up? There was nothing wrong. He started forming a headache…
No. Something was wrong.
He tried to get back to sleep, but that feeling was still there. He worried. What was it? Did he overlook something?
Tiptoeing quietly to his door, he tried to open it slowly to avoid the creaking. The floorboards under him, however, made a bit of noise, and Cam had to slow right down in order to avoid waking up Mum and Dad. The problem was that house was too damn small…
He swung open the door, quickly this time, and that negated the usual creaking. Walking out, slowly, he went through the cramped kitchen, avoiding the chairs and laundry baskets…
Claire’s room. His sister.
She was away, he recalled. Off with her boyfriend in Phillip Island – they’d gone boating, and she’d always wanted to see those penguins. There weren’t many penguins in urban Brisbane…
The door was already ajar, and Cam crept in. He opened Claire’s top drawer…
He couldn’t see what they were, but he grabbed them anyway. Panties. Claire’s underwear. Cam’s heart started beating furiously and a few beads of sweat appeared below his armpits. He stood still, debating.
No. He couldn’t. It was too sick…
Next drawer. Stockings. That wouldn’t be too bad…
A few moments after, Cam lay in bed, the stockings on. He felt much, much better; the headache was gone. He smiled to himself, content. He felt comfortable. He felt right.
I’d do anything in the world just to keep this going...

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Jessica

This is a story about a transgendered young person written by a friend of mine who for now has chosen to be anonymous

The story will come out over 3 posts

Chapter 1

It seemed kind of shallow, but the first thing Cameron Flint noticed about the girl was just how
pretty she was. There was the original feeling of teenage lust, but it was not a purely sexual desire. He wanted to talk to her. Cameron wanted to shop with her, to learn her name, and to care about her. It would be nice even if they were just to be friends.
Long, dark hair coupled with hazel eyes and a generally pleasant figure didn’t make her incredibly attractive, however. Her face was round, and kind of plain. She was by no means obese, but wasn’t quite the girl Cameron’s mates would usually aim for. Her nose was a bit long; Cam idly wondered if she was Jewish…
“Uh, how can I help…?” The guy looked no older than Cameron’s age, but was taller and skinnier. His nametag read DREW. Drew had roughly neatened hair, and wore glasses. He seemed vaguely out of place – not quite the kind of person to be working at a busy bowling alley. Cameron had waited until the place had become less busy before he decided to approach the counter, however. He didn’t really feel comfortable talking around crowds, especially about these kinds of things. Even though a help wanted sign had been tacked onto the board, Cam couldn’t help feeling as if he was freeloading; asking for something that wasn’t his.
“Yeah… I was kind of wondering if I could drop in an application,” Cam tried his best to look Drew in the eyes, and to try and seem confident. “I mean a résumé.”
Drew’s beetle-like eyes blinked a few times behind the thick glasses. Cameron started to worry; what if there was some mistake? Or the job was filled? Or if he messed up the résumé?
A startling thought wormed its way slowly into Cameron’s head. Jessica wouldn’t have these kinds of problems, would she? She was always loud, and confident to the point of cockiness – she got what she wanted, when she wanted it, and nothing could ever really stop her.
“Sure,” Drew started slowly. “Let me just go fetch Janet – I mean the manager, okay?” Drew wandered off, but Cam barely noticed, so entrapped in his own thoughts. It should be easy to just let Jess out for a bit, right? He needn’t even dress up for it (and even the very words “dress up” seemed inadequate for what it was). Jessica was a part of Cameron, at least – at least a solid third of his personality. Just let her loose a bit, and see what happens…
It was a tantalizing thought, but before Cam could even fully consider it he was hit with the familiar waves. Shame, humiliation, regret, and disgust. Bile rose in his throat at the thought. Filthy bastards. God hates faggots, son, and you’d bloody well not become a faggot on me. You’re not to be gay, or some filthy shemale – you’ll be no devil-worshipper, not with how I bloody brought you up.
Dad. That was Dad speaking, not Cameron, he told himself. Not mum, either. Oh, darling, but you must know that homosexuality is a sin. Your father’s right, you know; faggots go to hell. But you’re not dirty are you, Cam, sweetie? No… not our little boy…
Ahh… that was Mum…
Cameron broke the chain of thought. He liked to visualize a chalk board, with all the insecure thoughts on the black face. Then he imagined scratching them off – it somehow made him feel better. Much calmer.
He looked around for the slightly pretty girl. He couldn’t see her. What was her job? Was she full time? Who was she, what were her friends like; would she go out with him? No, of course she wouldn’t. Not with him.
Cam shook his head. The lady was staring at him patiently. “Are you all right, mate?”
This must be Janet. She had platinum spiked hair which contrasted nicely with her conservative dressing.
The emotions came back double. He was such an idiot. Why come in the first place? No one wants to hire a faggot. Or even a filthy cross-dresser who mumbled and couldn’t quite find the confidence outside of his alter-ego...

An alter-ego? Is that all she really is, Cambo?
Well, yeah. What else could she be, exactly?
Maybe… I don’t know, but I heard some, uh...
Cross-dressers. Call me what I am.
Right. Cross-dressers. I heard some of them, you know, change full time? Like… it’s more of a spiritual thing, yeah? Like they were born female, but trapped in a male body.
I… I couldn’t. What would Dad think? And Mum?
Besides, I’m not gay. I keep telling people. I’m straight. 100%.
Well, from what I gather… no offense… but your Dad’s an arsehole. And Christian, which isn’t really an excuse. And I know you’re not gay. <3
I don’t think... there’s anything wrong with being Christian, Able.
But Mormon, mate?

“I… uhh… e-everything’s fine…”
“Good. I’m Janet,” she begun. “I heard you want to work with us?”
“Well… yes. I’m inexperienced, but I’ll learn quickly. I’ll take any job you give me. Anything.”
“Well, we won’t make you go too low, eh?” Janet didn’t quite wink, but she laughed a shrill little cackle.
“Uh…” Cam tried to laugh, too. It didn’t quite work.
“Your résumé is fine, too. How about we start you as working behind the counter, in the café? Then we’ll see how you go on from there. You won’t have to cook, I promise.”
“Ah… thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks.”
Heh. No problem. I’ll give you a call sometime.”
Ahh… thanks… thanks again. Thank you.”
“No problem, darl.”

Uh… n? If I were to tell you something, could you, um…
Yeah? What’s going on, man? And call me Naith. No need for those bastard usernames between friends, hey?
Yeah... well… what if I said that for a long time, I’ve enjoyed dressing up … as a female?
I… Uhhh… go on.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m a cross-dresser… I just thought… well… I’d like my good friends to know. My online friends.
Yeah…
Um. I havn’t creeped you out, have I? I can answer any questions you may have …
Yeah. Jesus. Wow. Um. Well… no, I’m not creeped out. I just had no idea…
I mentioned once that I like futanari.
Hahahahahahah! That could be any old pervert saying that, though! ;)
: ( I’m not a pervert. I don’t think. But Dad…
Shit, man, sorry. I … didn’t mean offense. : )


He did it. Cameron finally got a job, and in a bowling alley! He was enraptured. He and that brunette would become friends! He’d meet many new friends, have new opportunities, and become more social, more confident. He couldn’t wait. With a bit of training, he wouldn’t even need Jess.
After all, he figured, she was just a tool, right? A shield, something to allow him to continue on in bad times…

Thursday, 11 September 2008

How DARE you assume I'm heterosexual?!

So I apologise for the long time between posts I've been very busy lately with year 12, my school queer group which is well and truly on it's legs now despite some administrative opposition as well as beginning a new relationship (too busy being queer to post on a queer space :-p)

"How DARE you assume I'm Heterosexual" read my girl friends badge (sadly placed out of sight)

On first reading it, I laughed but then it really did make me think. It is generally assumed that you are heterosexual.

People make assumptions about other peoples sexuality all the time, even unconsciously.

Many of my friends are male and when other friends see me with them I am frequently asked if they are my boyfriend. I don't know what's more insulting; people assuming that I'm heterosexual or people assuming that I must be having a relationship with any man I am seen with.

Walking to a friends birthday with one of my male friends, holding a bunch of flowers, a gift for the birthday person I was seen by a wom*n I used to go to school with. Later that week she spoke to me online and asked me how long I'd been with my boyfriend. In sharp contrast I walked into a pathologist holding a white rose in one hand and my girlfriends hand in the other. We were asked if we were SISTERS! In both situations an assumption was made about my sexuality.

It got me thinking about the differences between going out with a man and going out with a woma*n

In my relationships with men I've never thought twice about walking down the street holding hands, or kissing or just generally being affectionate in public. I mean obviously there are times and places where that is inappropriate but generally it never relay fazed me other than that being with men i was always less likely to actually want to be affectionate.

My relationships with wom*n have in the past been secretive and hidden. I have recently begun a relationships which is more open. When My partner and I went on a date at a time when she knew she was unlikely to see or more importantly be seen by people who may be likely to report back to her parents (parents are in my experience with queer students, including myself the last to know) we were openly affectionate. holding hands, walking arm in arm down the street, kissing on the beach. This was a big thing for me. Everywhere we went people stared at us. They may not necessarily have all been homophobic, but we were a novelty among them. I worked hard to block out the stupid comments I heard when people passed us. 'Are they both girls?' It was uncomfortable I couldn't help but wonder what each person was thinking wen they looked at us. Were they themselves closeted queers, impressed by our openness. Were we a novelty to them which they couldn't help but stare at. Did they look at us and condemn us. One Senior citizen shook their head at me when I smiled. Did they look at us and automatically think of our sexual relationship. I know that on coming out to friends one of the first things I was asked were questions related to intimate experiences with women. People frequently associate queers with sex. I suppose this is no surprise given that we tend to define people by their differences in order to categorise them, in the case of queer people this means defining us by our sexuality and gender identity (though all people are categorised by the gender they are perceived to have by others).
All in all, despite the looks and the comments it was a great day! As I got on the train to go back home I had that warm silly feeling. :-)

Yesterday however was different, she knew that it was highly likely that she would be seen by somebody. I instinctively took her hand when I got off the train to see her. Though it's not her fault and I understand completely I couldn't help but be hurt as we walked out of the train station and she let go of my hand. We did have an enjoyable day, we had felafel, walked around, spent some time lying around in the sun in the park, met one of her friends and did manage to sneak some moment of affection. However the incident at the train station set the pattern for the rest of the day, we would be holding hands then she would drop my hand or when I went to hold hers she'd indicate that we couldn't do it here. We deliberately took back streets, avoiding the main roads so that we could hold hands.

I don't want this to sound like a criticism of her because it's not, it's a criticism of society. After informing the pathologist that we were in fact not sisters we looked at each other uneasily before clarifying that we were "just friends" Though I have excitedly told many of my friends about my relationship, and Jess is far from secret, when I was asked who I was bringing to my school formal by a classmate, I replied with "Jess, she's a friend" As soon as I'd said it I was kicking myself. I'm far from in the closet at school and yet my automatic reaction to a question about my relationship was to hide it.

I am beginning to better understand the concept of "PRIDE" as in queer pride. I used to think, 'sexuality is not an achievement, why should there be pride'. Yet a sense of pride must be fought for, proud to be who you are, proud to transcend societies norms, proud not to deny your identity and when you are ready proud not to feel the need to hide.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Transgender

This is an essay written by a friend of mine; Jessica Zimmerman. She's doing year 12 at small Jewish high school;Leblier Yavneh College in elsternwick. She researched Transgender issues and wrote this in response to the many questions she was getting from her peers. Jessica feels that an important part of her crusade against queerphobia and heterosexism lies in educating others.
This is an insightful and informative essay, I was very impressed with it (and her incidentaly) and I know you will be to...

Transgender Issues-Identity and belonging
Jessica Zimmerman

“The American psychiatric foundation chatagorises gender dysphoria as a very serious mental disorder.”- Doctor“After my operation not even a gynecologist would be able to detect anything out of the ordinary about my body. I will be a woman. Don’t you find it odd that plastic surgery can cure a ‘mental disorder’’- Bree
This is a quote from Transamerica, a movie of which one of the central themes is tolerance, as well as the sideline issue of the daily struggles faced by transgendered individuals. Imagine waking up each morning and instead of critiquing your thighs or pimples you hate your entire body, everything about it is foreign. From a young age transgendered individuals face the challenge of waking up each morning as someone else, a challenge that cannot be overcome by a good chat or even a spiritual awakening.
To understand transgender, it is first important to make a distinction between ‘assigned sex,’ ‘gender identity,’ and ‘gender expression.’ Sex is an assignment based on one's chromosomes, genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics. Gender identity is how a person feels about themselves in relationship to or separate from the terms "man" and "woman." Gender expression is external--how a person presents him/herself to the world (e.g. with the way we walk, talk and dress.) In society there is a commonly assumed connection between the three, men and women are expected to act and feel a certain way. Transgender, in its broadest sense, encompasses anything that transgresses these gendered norms and expectations. It is the state of one’s ‘gender identity’ not matching ones ‘assigned sex.’
When we think of transgendered individuals the mind automatically turns to sex changes and cross dressers, however the issue of transgender is much more complicated, and can often have a massive strain on an individual’s ability to form and maintain relationships with others.
Sectors of the transgendered community which are often ignored are individuals who identify with both or neither of the two genders. Feeling that to be labeled as either exclusively male or female would mean unnecessarily suppressing a part of them. This form of transgender often leaves other people in a state of confusion in speech and in manner. Not knowing whether or not to refer to an individual as ‘him’ or ‘her’ and feeling ‘uneducated’ and in some cases ‘insensitive’ either way. This confusion stems from the pre-conceived notion that ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ are both bi-products of assigned sex’. When an individual fails to comply with this unwritten law, as in the case of the transgendered, conventional labels become invalid and therefore most people become confused.
Historically in main stream society there has been little room for a middle ground when it comes to gender identity. People, who do not identify with either gender label, identify with both labels or identify with the ‘wrong’ label face adversity not only within the work force and school environments but within the public eye.
There have been countless human interest stories, talk show episodes and media coverage’s on transgender, in specific those wishing to/having had sexual re-assignment surgery (defined as transsexuals). It wasn’t long ago that ‘Miriam’ a male-to-female transsexual featured in a self titled reality television series in which several men were competing for her affection, unaware of her sexual history. After finding out the truth many of the men who had previously fallen head over heels for Miriam looked at her with little more than disgust and dismay. Her birth sex and gender identity were not compatible, which led to negative attention; however ‘Miriam’ was able to shed light on a widely held view of aversion towards transsexual individuals.
More recently t here was an article published in the paper about a young transsexual child wishing to have gender re-assignment surgery, the court had ruled in her favour and there was societal uproar. Most posing the question “how could a child not even at puberty be able to make such a life altering decision, at such a young age how can anyone be sure?” What most people don’t understand about gender dysphoria (discontentment with the biological sex one was born as) is that Gender Identity Disorder[1] (GID[2]) comes in many forms, which can appear anytime ranging from birth to adulthood [3] and is separate from hormones which bring about changes during puberty and chemicals that cause sexual orientation.[4]
[1] Gender identity disorder (GID) is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria
[2] The current edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems has five different diagnoses for gender identity disorder: transsexualism, Dual-role Transvestism, Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood, Other Gender Identity Disorders, and Gender Identity Disorder, Unspecified.
Transsexualism has the following criteria:
· The desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment.
· The transsexual identity has been present persistently for at least two years.
· The disorder is not a symptom of another mental disorder or a chromosomal abnormality.
Dual-role transvestism has the following criteria:
· The individual wears clothes of the opposite sex in order to experience temporary membership in the opposite sex.
· There is no sexual motivation for the cross-dressing.
· The individual has no desire for a permanent change to the opposite sex.
Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood has essentially four criteria:
· The individual is persistently and intensely distressed about being a girl/boy, and desires (or claims) to be of the opposite gender.
· The individual is preoccupied with the clothing, roles or anatomy of the opposite sex/gender, or rejects the clothing, roles, or anatomy of his/her birth sex/gender.
· The individual has not yet reached puberty.
· The disorder must have been present for at least 6 months.
The remaining two classifications have no specific criteria and may be used as "catch-all" classifications in a similar way to Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (GIDNOS).
[3] Gender identity disorder in children (GIDC) is usually reported as "having always been there" since childhood, and is considered clinically distinct from GID which appears in adolescence or adulthood, which has been reported by some as intensifying over time.
[4] There is a misguided notion that links transgender to sexual orientation, specifically homosexuality. However, the only thing that binds these two communities into one is their struggle for acceptance within mainstream society. This joint community is known as the LGBT/GLBT community (referring collectively to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people.)
[1] Gender identity disorder (GID) is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria
[1] The current edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems has five different diagnoses for gender identity disorder: transsexualism, Dual-role Transvestism, Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood, Other Gender Identity Disorders, and Gender Identity Disorder, Unspecified.
Transsexualism has the following criteria:
· The desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make his or her body as congruent as possible with the preferred sex through surgery and hormone treatment.
· The transsexual identity has been present persistently for at least two years.
· The disorder is not a symptom of another mental disorder or a chromosomal abnormality.
Dual-role transvestism has the following criteria:
· The individual wears clothes of the opposite sex in order to experience temporary membership in the opposite sex.
· There is no sexual motivation for the cross-dressing.
· The individual has no desire for a permanent change to the opposite sex.
Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood has essentially four criteria:
· The individual is persistently and intensely distressed about being a girl/boy, and desires (or claims) to be of the opposite gender.
· The individual is preoccupied with the clothing, roles or anatomy of the opposite sex/gender, or rejects the clothing, roles, or anatomy of his/her birth sex/gender.
· The individual has not yet reached puberty.
· The disorder must have been present for at least 6 months.
The remaining two classifications have no specific criteria and may be used as "catch-all" classifications in a similar way to Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (GIDNOS).
[1] Gender identity disorder in children (GIDC) is usually reported as "having always been there" since childhood, and is considered clinically distinct from GID which appears in adolescence or adulthood, which has been reported by some as intensifying over time.
[1] There is a misguided notion that links transgender to sexual orientation, specifically homosexuality. However, the only thing that binds these two communities into one is their struggle for acceptance within mainstream society. This joint community is known as the LGBT/GLBT community (referring collectively to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people.)
Although not medically linked the emotional struggles faced by transgendered individuals and homosexuals are often similar. In both cases many individuals initially face choices between the acknowledgement of their sexual identity and groups that they belong to such as their families and religions (this is even more pertinent in the cases of groups that are extremely conservative.) Although eventually the majority of families and individuals come to terms with members of their group being either homosexual or transgender, many do not and continue to face internal struggles with religious contradiction. Such hardship has been well documented in films such as ‘Trembling before g-d.[1]
Ideally the world should be a place in which tolerance for all was as widely practiced as the hatred we currently see. A world in which our identity would not have to be compromised in order to feel a sense of belonging. However unfortunately this world does not exist, and as long as we as a people cannot recognise the trivialness of our differences, those that defy social norm will continue to struggle to find acceptance.
[1] Trembling Before G-d is a documentary built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian. The film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.
[1] Trembling Before G-d is a documentary built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian. The film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma - how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Inside my skin

This poem was taken from "writing themeselves in again: 6 years on The 2nd national report on the sexuality, health & well-being of same sex attracted young people in Australia"

AMBER, 18 years
Inside my skin;
I saw that inside me was outside of them;
And I feared that I would never be able to speak;
What was on the tip of my tounge waiting to fall out;
It's inside me that knows where I am and who I am;
Yet outside I can't make sense. Because sense betrays me;
I look at them opposites of each other, complimenting one anothers contours;
And I see us like a mirror one and the same;
Curves and soft skin;
Touching curves and soft skin;
You're waiting to come in;
But I can't let you in, Inside me.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Union Solidarity

So I was feeling a little bit depressed last night. The authorities at school (our lesbian principal) have been making our school queer movement (not that we're allowed to say queer or movement...or make, end or a host of other seemingly inoffensive words) incredibly difficult. I recently copped a bit of shit from the knuckle heads who sit in the back row of one of my classes (need I say more) and sadly had even experienced some transphobia from a friend from within the queer movement and I had bad tooth ache : (. Though I was offcourse no where near ready to throw the towel in, that huge task ahead of us (eliminating queerphobia) appeared to be getting larger instead of smaller, so I rummaged through my queer and feminist political literature for some inspiration and a boost in motivation. I found it, in the story Of Jeremy fisher as recorded by himself:
Pink BansThe historic role of the New South Wales Builders Labourers federation in support of Gay rights
Late in the evening of May 26, 1973 in my room at Robert Menzies College, an Anglican residential college of Macquarie University, I attempted to kill myself. I was very nearly successful. Why I did so has a lot to do with the fact that I was 18, from the country and gay. Unfortunately, many 18-year-old gay males, especially those from the country, still try to kill themselves and some of them succeed. But that is another story.
[Extensive construction work was occuring at Menzies College, and other campusses of te university]
I had joined the small gay students' group on campus. In their book green Bans, Red Union Meredith and Vertit Burgman recall I was elected Treasurer. It was no big thing, though. There were no more than ten or twelve of us gays and lesbians in the group at any one time. As treasurer, I was never responsible for any amount greater than $20.
I didn't advise the College, especially its dean, the Reverend Alan Cole, of my on-campus activities. I sensed the information wouldn't have been received well. As well, in the College I was being encouraged to join in the prayer and bible discussion groups, but I resisted. While the College might have been run by the Anglican Church, I didn’t see why I had to subscribe to the church's teachings. The College's information pack clearly stated that it accepted students of all faiths.
I'd chosen to study at Macquarie because I had vague thoughts that I might become a teacher, but I knew I wouldn't be allowed into schools if I were open about my sexuality. Homosexuals were not accepted as teachers in New South Wales schools in 1973.
Following my suicide attempt, my parents came down to Sydney from Newcastle as soon as they heard I was in hospital. After I was released into their care, Allan Cole had a conversation with my father and me, meant to offer solace and care. He said he believed that I was possessed by a satanic mask that I had hung on the wall of my college room.
[While Jeremey was in hospital the Cole had investigated and discovered the existance of the Gay and Lesbian group at Menzies and had discovered that Jeremy was the Treasurer, he had found the money in Jeremy's room, Jeremey joked in a tallk he gave at QC that there was probably only about $5]
No doubt Cole meant well and was sincere in his views, but there was something disconcerting about the passionate way he put them...
A day or so after my conversation with Cole I walked down the concrete steps from the ground building into the basement Students' Council offices at Macquarie University as Rod Webb and Jeff Hayler were preparing the final copy for the next edition of the student paper, Arena. Bearded Rod Webb (latter program director for SBS) was editor of the newspaper. Rod was heavily involved in what was then known as the Socialist Workers' League, a Trotskyist organisation following a philosophy espoused by an American group called the Socialist Workers Party. Jeff by contrast was the product of a western suburbs Catholic school and more of the pragmatic left. He acted as the oil that smoothed the differences between the Left coalitions that then dominated the Students' council. During my time at Macquarie, the council was the training ground for future politicians such as senator John Faulkner, union activists like David Carrey of the Public Service Union, and future journalists like Jenny Brockie of SBS.
I told Jeff and Rod I needed to talk to them. They asked me to wait while they finished what they were doing. They were on a deadline...
Once the delaine had been met and the proofs despatched, attention fell on me. I hesitantly spoke to Rod and Jeff about my problem with Robert Menzies College and they immediately went to work, ringing their contacts across Sydney. Suddenly the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) had green-banned construction at the college over me. Almost immediately I was a media event. Even back then with the clumsy technology of the seventies, television could act fast. Within hours of Rod and Jeff's first calls, a reporter from the ABC's This Day Tonight and a silent cameraman interviewed me under a grevillea on a rise near Chancellery.... The interview was technical and unemotional.
When the results appeared that night on the ABC the power of the medium hit me. That was me talking to the world and telling everybody that I was gay and that the Anglican Church had discriminated against me. Overnight I became the 'Jeremy Fisher Incident' and received an object lesson in the power of television. But it was too late to turn back. I had to keep going.
It was only days after I'd been in hospital. Possibly I should have allowed myself more time to recuperate. But Cole's attitude had annoyed me, telling me I had to be something different to what I was because his God demanded it of me. However, Cole's attitude to me, to homosexuals, infuriated me, gave me back some pride in myself, defined my homosexual persona enough for me to take umbrage and make a stand. I am sure Cole never expected the resulting fuss. He was completely convinced of the correctness of his actions.
But so was I.
When we came out of the meeting with Cole, my father has said: 'You're not going back there', meaning the college. I didn’t want to go, either. I wasn’t objecting to Cole's attitude because I wanted to return to the College. My point was simply that Cole shouldn't be imposing his own religiosity in a secular, university environment. It was a point of principle. The BLF assumed I wanted to go back until, one day back down in the Students' Council basement, Bob Pringle, then part of the BLF's leadership, asked me:
'why do you want to go back into that place?'
'I don't' I said'
But we're out on strike to put you back' he said, a hint of anger in his eyes.
'I thought I'd been kicked out because I was gay' I answered.
Bob looked at me for a moment, directly into my eyes. All sorts of thoughts whirled into my head. Was he going to withdraw BLF's support? Did he think I'd tricked him? Did he want to hit me? Then he said:'I guess you're right. It's the principle of the thing. They shouldn't pick on a bloke because of his sexuality.
It was now early June 1973. The Builders' Labourers had green-banned further building at college and were threatening to do the same for the whole university if the college were threatening to do the same for the whole university if the College wasn’t disciplined for it's anti-homosexual attitude. It was a brave decision for a union to take.
...The union had been earlier approached by Jean Curthoys and Elizebeth Jacka at the University of Sydney when the university refused to approve a course on women's social liberation. Curthoys and Jacka asked the union to give support, since the proposed course was supported by staff and students, but resisted by the administration. Both women addressed a meeting of union members at the University and as a result the members, all men voted to stop work in support of the course. Mundey (then secretary of the BLF) says: 'And this of course was taken up in the newspapers as a...big issue because here is an all male, union...that has never been involved in women's issues taking action to support the rights of women.' The union’s action encouraged the University administration to have a change of heart and approve the course.
With regard to Macquarie University and me, Mundey says because 'these students and workers had been together against the Vietnam War and anti-apartheid, it was taken that there was a relationship there, between the progressive students and the...workers, the progressive trade unionists. And again, as a repeat of what happened at Sydney University, Bob Pringle, the president, went out to that university. Again there was substantial building taking place because Macquarie came together and they, like [at] Sydney University, took action and said, they'll go on strike until Fisher is reinstated.'
Mundey notes that 'not every builders' labourer was a galloping conservationist or women's' libber or even supporter of the rights of gays', but nevertheless the union developed a more mature position on these issues in the face of hostility from some of the more extreme elements. While the union still agitated on basic employment issues, it also developed policies that addressed 'such things as how people live, the question of what the next generation is going to leave them.' The union also encouraged people from the gay movement to addressee 'such things as how people live, the question of what the next generation is going to have, what are we going to leave for them'. The union also encouraged people from the gay movement to address its members at their work sites and highlight the discrimination suffered by homosexuals at a time when their sexual orientation, at least for males was still illegal. Homosexuality wasn't an issue that the BLF membership felt strongly about, as Jack Mundey notes, but regardless the union acted in support of my right to live openly as a homosexual on a secular university campus. Previously, green bans had some environmental focus. This was the first time the union had acted on an issue of this nature, and as far as I'm aware the first time any union anywhere in the world supported gay rights as a matter of principle.
Verity Burgmann has written 'One of the famous early battles of gay liberation was over the expelling of Jeremy Fisher from a residential college at Macquarie University, for being gay, in June 1973. The NSW Branch of the Builders Labourers Federation stopped work on the uncompleted college in protest, in solidarity with gay liberation.' she and her sister Meredith Burgmann, then a philosophy lecturer at Macquarie and now President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, also described the events in their book Green Bans, Red Union as a 'pink ban'. And so it was: the very first.
-Jeremy Fisher

In more recent times the Fire Fighters union has taken a stand for queer rights. The fire fighters union encouraged their members to vote green over Labour for their stance on same-sex marriage.

The struggle for Queer rights is tied up with the struggles of workers and of unionists as we struggle against the same oppressive system.