Maybe ego trippers shouldn’t write op eds…

“Maybe having kids is egotistical. You think you’ll somehow live on forever through your amazingly gifted and beautiful descendants.”

I guess it kind of is… for shallow narcissists… but most of us aren’t. Most of us have kids because evolution saw fit to fill us with the desire to procreate.

But that’s just a weird aside to set readers up so that the people in the article look like they’re having kids purely to inflate their egos.

When actually they’re having kids because they actually want them—because animals have evolved to breed.

Rosemary McLeod, who’s previous editorial ejaculations have included an article that reads like “Kim Dotcom is both rich and fat! Isn’t that weird? If he gave me his money, I’d save a failing clothing retailer!”, goes on to talk shit about trans* men who have given birth:

“Thomas Beatie was born a woman, had sex reassignment surgery and legally changed his/her identity in Hawaii to male. He/she is now married to a woman, had all along kept his/her ovaries and stuff, and never opted for a surgically created penis thingy.

“This, to my mind, makes him/her a woman who may shave in the morning and have short hair and a deep voice, as may many women with a hormonal imbalance. But if you called him/her a gay woman you’d hurt his feelings. I’m a bit lost here.”

That after a weird throwaway non sequitur about abortion rates and “the pill”, which have nothing to do with anything else in the article. You’re a bit lost because you’re an idiot. You don’t need a penis “thingy” to be a man. Likewise, possessing ovaries does not make you a woman.

The article is full of the “he/she” nonsense, instead of the male pronouns that these men have opted to use. That’s discrimination. McLeod is insisting that her opinions of gender should override those of the person that the gender belongs to. Using “he/she” is an attack on the very concept of being trans*.

This, combined with lines like “if you called him/her a gay woman you’d hurt his feelings,” are an attempt to silence trans* people, and bully them into conforming with antiquated sex/gender roles. To pass a trans* man off as just a “women with a hormonal imbalance” is to belittle him, and all trans* people, as just being confused.

“Why should I care? Because if it’s happening today in California, it’ll be happening here next week.”

Should I tell her that it already is? There are already plenty of trans* people having kids, just not that many who go public about it in the mainstream media. Not everyone wants to draw to themselves the attention of people like Rosemary McLeod. Trans* people already face enough discrimination and bigotry in their day to day lives.

“He/she can give birth to live goldfish for all I care, but I dislike ego trippers bent on being famous, especially at other people’s expense.”

And she completes the circle. These people aren’t “ego trippers”. They’re just people who want to have kids because we all (well, most of us) want to have kids.

At the expense of whom? At McLeod’s expense? At the expense of people who try to tell others what to do with their bodies? Or at the expense of the kids?

“It would be all very well if their mother/father had kept his/her unusual situation private, but he/she has boasted about it publicly, and that stands a good chance of rebounding against the kids, which hardly seems fair.”

So, the only problem with trans* people having kids is the bigotry of other people. That’s not a reason to deny them their rights, that a reason to tell people like McLeod to shut up and let people live their lives.

I get so tired of the cry that queer people only want kids to inflate their egos, or as fashion accessories or whatever. We’re human beings, not heartless fashionists. To accuse queer people of wanting children purely for show is to deny us our very humanity.

If she’s accusing these particular men of ego tripping for inviting the press into their lives, then she is also mistaken.  Trans* people face a huge amount of discrimination in their day to day lives, constantly having to defend themselves against cissexism. There are 5 trans* men who have been pregnant that I know of who took their stories to the media. They went to the media, not looking for their 15 minutes of fame, but to show that it is possible, to break down misconceptions of sex and gender, and to contribute to a building a world where all trans* people can be comfortable and free in their bodies without fear of discrimination.

“To think we once relied on Asti Spumante and the back seat of a Ford Cortina. But that was when reproduction was – it seems so silly now – sexy.”

If that’s what McLeod finds sexy, then she’s welcome to park up any time she likes. I’m not even sure what she’s trying to say with this closing line; something to do with insinuating that sex used to be like a cheesy high-school drama, losing-your-virginity cliché, but now it’s different. I don’t know, her writing doesn’t seem to make much sense…

As I write this, there is a protest under way in Wellington outside the offices of Fairfax Media, who own the Dominion Post in which the article was published. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

[UPDATE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6475995/Trans-gender-community-protest-against-column]

This post on The Hand Mirror has a nice list of points about the article. No. 7 is a good one: “Have you ever considered the fact that maybe the couple are modelling pride in who they are, openness and the fact everyone is entitled to respect for their children?”


† I do know plenty of people, both queer and not, who don’t want to have kids at all. Just as a fun aside, I used to think I never wanted kids, but then I turned 26 and I was all like “I want babies!” Now I’m looking for a nest to feather. Not that I’m typical, but wanting to be a parent is instinctive and we all have that right.

Smile! It’ll make you happier!

No. Fuck off.

Today was Clubs Day at Otago University, and I was helping the local UniQ set up. I had designed their flyers (as well as most of their promotional material for this year—plug, plug), lent them my Pride flag, and I was running back and forth across campus trying to find condoms for them.

Today was the day that all the clubs’ representatives jam themselves into the Clubs & Socs building trying to peddle their respective clubs to all the first years who clearly have never been in crowds before and stop in large packs at every bottleneck.

As I was making my toing and froing, I kept running past a woman in the foyer handing out flyers for the bi-weekly cheap vegan lunch held by the local Hare Krishnas. This particular woman is well known by those who frequent Clubs and Socs, though her name escapes me (and I wouldn’t publish it anyway).

On one of my passes she thrusts a flyer at me and says something about the vegan lunch. I, being on a mission, quickly said “no thanks,” and determinedly tried to make my way through the swarm of people. It was then that she gruffly, and with an air of smugness, said “Smile! It’ll make you happier!”

I only had time to shoot her an angry glance as I dashed up the stairs. Here’s what I said in my head:

“How dare you! How dare you have the arrogance to tell me how to feel. To tell me that I should smile. My face is not yours, nor are my emotions, and you have no rights over them. What business is it of yours if I smile or not?

“What do you know about me? What do you know about the scowl that I wear today? Do you know it’s story? Do you know that in addition to catching a particularly nasty flu yesterday that left me worn out, I had to pull an all nighter to finish designing a couple of posters that my client was expecting first thing in the morning? Having spent until 4am the previous night designing flyers for someone else? That I have to do these things for free in the hope that one day someone will like my work enough to pay me for it, and maybe I can get a job and be able to afford to live?

“Do you know that I had to then get up, on no sleep, and run back and forth across the campus finding condoms and cellotape and blutack, in the mean time finding a computer I can check my emails because I was simultaneously in the middle of doing business with people?

“Do you know how insulting, offensive and downright painful to tell someone who has lived with clinical depression for at least 17 years that if they just smile, it’ll make everything better? What an amazing insight into psychology you must have! You don’t think if that worked there’d be no need for antidepressants or counselling or therapy?

“You don’t think that as a queer person [I was wearing a t-shirt with “RECRUITER” written in rainbow lettering across the chest] that I’d be tired of other people policing my body and telling me to keep my emotions in check?

“There’s a story behind the expression I wear, and I’m not going to plaster it up for anybody. I’m tired of wearing masks.

“Does my tired, stressed face offend you? Are you personally aggrieved by the fact that I’m  clearly not having the time of my life and have no interest in your cheap, vegan lunch?

“I’m a human. Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I’m stressed, tired or angry. I wasn’t taking the emotion out on the rest of the world, merely not going to the extra effort of hiding it.

“My emotions are mine alone. Don’t you dare judge me for them.”

As I wrote above, I said that in my head, not aloud to her. Because by a quirk of this society, I’d be the unreasonable one. We’re supposed to hide our unhappiness and put on a smile for the rest of the world—we’re supposed to be presentable.

Every other time I saw her, everyone who wasn’t outwardly happy, she’d pertly call “Smiley” as she thrust her flyer into their vicinities.

You are not the emotion police. Keep your shitty flyers; I’d rather have lunch that doesn’t come with judgement.

</rant>

Johnny Galecki doing it right

A lot of celebrities have to field rumours spread in the gossip rags about them being gay or lesbian. It’s seen as some kind of dark secret that they should be ashamed of, which makes for juicy reading while you’re waiting in line at the checkout.

Johnny Galecki is one such celebrity, and he’s responded thus:

I've never really addressed those rumours, cause I always figured, why defend yourself against something that isn't offensive.

(I found this on Reddit. Apparently that was taken from The View or something)

Hit the nail on the head.

“Tolerance is a two-way street”

The New Jersey Legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill, which Governor Chris Christie swiftly vetoed, renewing his push for it to go to a referendum. Because apparently, minority rights are supposed to come at the explicit approval of the majority .

But onto Alaska. Proposition 5 is going before the Anchorage voters which would add “sexual orientation” and “transgender identity” to the list of protected classes.

Of course, this has a few people frothing at the mouth.

The Alaska Patriarchy Family Council has a cry. They’ve posted a list of 10 reasons to oppose the proposition [pdf]. Most of them are banal hand waiving—claiming it’s poorly worded or not needed. But there are a couple that I’d like to address, because the same arguments pop up here as well.

Prop. 5 forces our city government to take sides in the “culture wars”

That’s the government’s job. When it comes to human rights, the government has to take sides—and they must side with liberty. Should they have not taken sides, there’d probably still be slavery, and segregation.

Religious institutions are not adequately protected

Translation: “It’s a breach of my human rights to prevent me from breaching other people’s human rights!”

*cry*

This one pops up a lot. In New Zealand, the Human Rights Act 1993 has a provision exempting organised religion from being subject to the legislation. This is indefensible. You don’t get to claim your religion exempts you from not being allowed to discriminate against other humans, without forfeiting your own protections.

No matter what your religion tells you to do, you cannot discriminate against people. That’s the law. If you want to live in a free society, you have to make concessions. You can believe whatever you like in your head, but you cannot discriminate.

This brings me to their last point:

Tolerance must be a two-way street

Right back at you.

I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been called names. I’ve had straight men look at me as if they’re worried I’m going to rape them. I’ve had friendly, jovial conversations suddenly turn to painful silence, getting looks across the table as if he would have stabbed me if he had a knife. I’ve feared for my safety. I’ve feared for my life.

Mostly from people who were previously pious—people who preached compassion and love, now revealing their bottomless pits of hate.

And when I try to defend myself, when I try to call them on it, I’m the bigot.

The first thing they demand is that I respect their beliefs. Their beliefs that I’m evil, that I’m a sinner, that I should die.

Simply by being open, I’m intolerant. Simply by existing I’m breaching their freedom.

Tolerance is a two-way street? I wouldn’t know, because people like the Alaska Family Council are taking up both lanes, and have set up roadblocks.

It’s the whole privilege thing, and it needs to end.

As Rachel Maddow says in the video I linked to above, you don’t vote on human rights. That’s why they’re called “rights.”

Magda Szubanski gets it right

“The law means that you could be a serial killer and have killed all of your spouses and yet you would still be considered fit to marry.

“But if you are gay, then you are not worthy of these same rights.”

Szubanski came out publicly on Valentine’s Day and said the above, and she absolutely nailed it.

“We pay taxes, fight wars for this country, nurse you when you are sick, make you laugh, sing and dance for you, play netball for you, star in your movies, cook your meals, decorate your store windows.

“And, chances are, gay people designed whatever it is you’re wearing.

“All Australians, including gay Australians, should have exactly the same rights, including the right to love, marry and take care of our partners.”

I don’t like you, but don’t worry, I still like you…

A very good friend of mine hung around after work for some end-of-week drinkies. He was chatting with his work chums when, after a couple of Steinlargers and a bit of conversation on the topic, one of them told him he “doesn’t mind people being gay, but doesn’t accept it, as he knows it isn’t the right lifestyle.” (paraphrasing)

“Don’t worry though, I still like you as a person.”

You know what?

Fuck you.

You don’t accept us? Oh, it’s all right though as you still like us as people. Fuck that. How are we to like you in return if you don’t accept who we are, if you don’t accept who we love? Our sexuality does nothing to you, so why do you feel the need to tell us that you doesn’t accept it.

You don’t get to not accept other people’s “lifestyles” (even if sexuality were a lifestyle), society doesn’t work that way. You’re free to not do what ever you want with yourself, but you can’t tell us that you don’t accept what we do.

It’s shit like this that makes us feel inferior, that makes people think it’s ok to treat us as inferior. And especially since this came from someone my friend has to work with on a daily basis, even though his job is very queer friendly, it makes him fell just a little bit extra shit at work.

Another video…

Here’s a beautiful video from Italy:

While homosexuality has been legal in Italy since 1887, they don’t currently recognise same-sex marriage. I believe that extending to everyone the right to marry whom they love, is one of the hallmarks of a decent society.

The description on the YouTube video finishes with

“Gli affetti non hanno sesso,
non ha senso discriminare amore.”

I plugged that into Google Translate to see what it says. I thought about getting a better translation, but I prefer the idiosyncrasies of the computer translation, which lend it a sort of cute je ne sais quoi:

“The affects are not having sex,
Love does not make sense to discriminate.”