LGBT Rights groups ask that Lawrence King's killer be tried as a juvenile

A coalition of groups, including Lambda Legal, have asked that Brandon McInerney be tried as a juvenile rather than an adult for the murder of Lawrence King, according to this article in the Ventura Country Star.

Personally, I applaud this. As upsetting as the murder has been for queers and allies, we have to remember that McInerney is a 14 year old boy who was following through on the message sent by most of society. I'm not excusing his actions- he made the decision to bring the gun, and he made the decision to pull the trigger- but I am stating that demonizing a child while ignoring the influence of the queerphobic society that taught him that the proper way to respond to homosexuality and gender non-conformity is violence is bullshit.

Brandon McInerney is a product of our society. He simply happens to reflect that part of it which most people do their best to ignore until it hits the front page- and the obits. Pretending otherwise doesn't do anything to stop violence from occurring, but rather, merely helps people expunge their own guilty consciences.

try him as what he is- a juvenile. Instead of placing the blame solely on his shoulders, work to fight the queerphobia in our society before it claims more victims.


Another gay man denied refugee status; Sean gets sarcastic

So, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board has denied the Refuge claim of Joaquin Ramirez, who fled from El Salvador after he was raped by police officers.

Ramirez, who volunteered with the Salvadoran Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, says that his rapists threatened to kill him after contracting the virus from him.

All around, I'm disappointed. The thing that pisses me off the most though, is the fact that he was criticized for not bringing his complaints to the police in El Salvador.

Because, after all, he has a reason to trust that the police will act in his best interest, right?

Another complaint was that he was already considering moving out of the country before the assault. Of course, no gay man would ever want to leave a country known for it's strong homophobia- that would be just silly!

Yes, Canada, I'm really proud of you right now. Who knows what horrible things might happen if you granted this man refugee status! Just look at what he's done with his life so far- gainful employment, volunteer work with several organizations, and providing education on safe sex! We wouldn't want anyone like that in our country, would we? *headdesk*


Obama's "Advocate" Interview

Barack Obama's interview with the Advocate was released earlier today. In it, he discusses a number of queer issues, including "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," same-sex marriage, and a trans-inclusive ENDA, as well as how his own views on queer issues were formed. It's an interesting read, and, while I'm not a complete Obama fanboy, I do appreciate that he's done this interview, and I support Obama, even though I'm Canadian and therefore my opinion really won't make a difference come November.

On his lack of interviews and appearances in queer-specific venues:
"I’m raising issues accordant to the LGBT community in a general audience rather than just treating you like a special interest that is sort of off in its own little box – that, I think, is more indicative of my commitment. Because ultimately what that shows is that I’m not afraid to advocate on your behalf outside of church, so to speak. It’s easy to preach to the choir; what I think is harder is to speak to a broader audience about why these issues are important to all Americans."
My view: Alright, I'll buy it, though that doesn't mean I don't want to see more interviews with queer news sources.

"But I think there’s increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy -- ya know, we’re spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need."
My view: Right on! Now, let's see if you follow through on this one.

On same-sex marriage:
"an area that I’m very interested in is making sure that federal benefits are available to same-sex couples who have a civil union. I think as more states sign civil union bills into law the federal government should be helping to usher in a time when there’s full equality in terms of what that means for federal benefits."

"[M]y commitment is to try to make sure that we are moving in the direction of full equality."

[Q:By asking the LGBT community to accept civil unions for now, aren't you asking them to "wait their turn?"]
"Anybody who’s been at an LGBT event with me can testify that my message is very explicit -- I don’t think that the gay and lesbian community, the LGBT community, should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. It’s not my place to tell the LGBT community, "Wait your turn.""
My view: Obama tends to waffle a little around this point. He's made a fairly good point though: We won't gain equality by waiting for it to be handed down to us. And he doens't speak of civil unions as the best we're going to get, but rather, as a step in the right direction, which I can appreciate.

On the ENDA:
"I have been clear about my interest in including gender identity in legislation, but I’ve also been honest with the groups that I’ve met with that it is a heavy lift through Congress... my goal would be to get the strongest possible bill -- that’s what I’ll be working for."
My view: While I'm disappointed that he's not pushing harder for a trans-inclusive ENDA, the fact that he doesn't dismiss us out of hand is still a good sign.

On Religion and Homophobia:

"Well, I think what’s important is to have some of that church leadership speak up and change its attitudes, because I think a lot of its members are taking cues from that leadership."
My view: Easier said than done.

On Donnie McClurkin, the "ex-gay" gospel singer who was listed as the headline performer for Obama's South Carolina tour:
"[M]y campaign is premised on trying to reach as many constituencies as possible and to go into as many places as possible, and sometimes that creates discomfort or turbulence... And that creates some discomfort because people discover, gosh, within the Democratic Party or within Barack Obama’s campaign or within whatever sets of constituencies there are going to be some different points of view that might even be offensive to some folks. That’s not unique to this issue."
My view: While I feel that letting McClurkin use this as an opportunity to spout off on homosexuality was a poor decision on Obama's part, I can see where he's coming from with his explanation. Freedom of speech is important to me, and that freedom can't be limited to those with certain views. People have a right to say what they believe (so long as it is not meant to incite hatred or violence), even when there's absolutely no evidence to support their views.

Overall: I don't agree with him on everything, but if I were a US citizen, I'd likely vote for him. He comes off as sincere, rather than patronizing. He's not offering quick-fix solutions, and is admitting that there will be barriers, but he seems to have a plan to work around those barriers to do what he possibly can. Personally, I appreciate that, as it shows a level of honesty that politicians tend to lack.

I'm waiting for the backlash on this from the religious right. After all, when a presidential candidate does an interview in a queer publication and states that he'll work for equality, you know that someone from the "moral majority" is going to have a meltdown over his support of "faggotry," "sodomy," and "perversion."

The "Blame the Victim" Game

A friend of mine just passed on this article about an abuse victim who has been jailed.

Noellee Mowatt has vowed never to call police again – in any situation, even if she's suffering.

Through choking sobs yesterday morning, Mowatt, 19, made the pact from a pay phone at a Milton jail, where she's spending the last few days of her pregnancy.

Due to deliver next Tuesday, the teenager has been detained at Vanier Centre for Women since Thursday, when a justice of the peace denied her bail.

Mowatt, who faces no criminal charges in this case, won't be let out until she testifies at her boyfriend's domestic assault trial on Friday.

So, apparently it's alright to imprison a 9 month pregnant woman who has not been charged with a crime, simply because she was victimized. It's just another example of the tendency to punish victims of crimes. Somehow, I doubt this is going to encourage abuse victims to stand up to their abusers.

Let's put it this way: abusers often work to annihilate their victim's self-esteem. They make them think that they're the one at fault, and that they deserve the abuse. Or at least, that society will hold them accountable for it, rather than the abuser.

Unfortunately, cases like this only go to support such notions, rather than dispel them, and give the victim more of a reason to trust their abusive partner's words.


Positive Spaces

Alright, Just a short post- Kudos to UBC for their Positive Space Campaign!

The official UBC website can be found here.

I'd personally love to get something like this started at my school. Hmm, looks like I've got another project- and since classes are ending, I've go the whole summer to figure out the details *goes off to plot*.


Yes, the pregnant man *is* a man: Basic Etiquette

I'm sure you've all heard of Thomas Beatie by now. If you've been hiding under a rock for the past while, Beatie is a transman from Oregon who happens to be pregnant.

Now, apparently, this is front page news. It's even made it's way to Oprah, where Thomas talked openly about his past and his transition.

Unsurprisingly, transphobia has once again reared it's ugly head. Numerous sources across the web have taken this as an opportunity to remind us all that trans people are either confused, perverted, or mentally ill. Others have pointed out that obviously, he can't be trans, because he hasn't undergone the full process of transition.

Now, I'd like to point out a few small details that these people seem to miss, in no particular order:

  1. Gender identity appears to have a biological basis.
  2. Gender Dysphoria is not reliant on undergoing surgery
    • A transsexual person is a transsexual person, regardless of whether or not they've transitioned.
    • Many FtMs don't fully transition. The results tend to leave something to be desired (like functionality) and many choose to wait. Other factors, such as money, health issues, and, like Beatie, the desire to have a child, also come into play. remember, Mrs. Beatie had a hysterectomy about 20 years ago. I'm sure that played a part in Thomas' decision not to undergo genital surgery.
  3. "Man" and "Woman" are gendered terms
    • The terms "man" and "male" are not interchangeable. "Man" refers to a person's gender identity. It merely happens to be the identity most commonly found among those who are biologically male. Beatie's genitalia doesn't come into play when we're talking about gendered terms.
  4. Transitioning is not a spur-of-the-moment decision
    • Prior to taking hormones, one must undergo either surgery or several months of living as a member of the sex they are transitioning to. Beatie has been on hormones for at least 8 years, meaning that if he weren't sure of his gender identity by now, he has had plenty of opportunity to stop taking hormones and live as a woman. Obviously, he hasn't done so, so one can assume that he isn't unsure of his gender identity, and that he does identify as a man, just as he's displayed for years.
  5. The urge to procreate is not solely a "feminine" desire
    • Yes, he is pregnant. No, this is not something that is typical, though he is not the first FtM transsexual to become pregnant. Some state that his desire to have a child is a sign that he's simply confused about his gender identity. I'd say, it's a sign that he desires to reproduce, regardless of what steps he must take to do so.
  6. Using the Proper pronouns is a matter of basic respect
    • Obviously, some people out there have no respect for anyone who isn't a white, cisgendered, heterosexual Christian, but the rest of you really should know better. The English language has this thing called gendered pronouns. Unsurprisingly, gendered pronouns tend to relate to a person's gender. Not a difficult concept, though some seem to find this overly problematic.
    • Using "it" is just plain rude. You refer to inanimate objects as "it." You don't refer to people as "it."
    • Using quotes around gendered pronouns is also rude. I'm sure you've seen it- articles and blogs which use quotation marks to ensure that the reader knwos that the author is merely humouring us by using the appropriate pronouns and gendered terms.

      No, it does not make you look witty. It makes you look like a fuckwad with no respect.
In closing, I'd like to wish the Beaties the best of luck through the pregnancy, and remind anyone who happens to read this that, yes, basic respect applies to everyone, even those of us who's sex and gender aren't congruent.

Queerphobia: Why?

Sometimes I wonder why so many people really care what's in my pants, and what's in my partner's pants. Is it really any of you business?

I mean, I could understand if there were something non-consensual going on- hell, I'd rather hope you would act to stop any non-consensual acts- but the majority of us aren't into rape or molestation. So how do you justify trying to control my sex life?

It really gets to me. People discriminate against us queers, simply because they don't like the fact that our sex lives are different than their's. never mind the fact that it's really none of their business, and it has no effect on them whatsoever, unless they're planning on joining in.

Every day, we hear about crime, famine, disease, war- the list goes on- but what's really important is what bits I have, and who I'm having sex with. Hell, I can be killed over this, simply because my gender presentation does not match my anatomy, and because of whom I'm attracted to.

Really, don't you people have something better to do? I mean, if you're spending more time thinking about my genitals and what I do with them than I do, there's obviously some sort of problem. I suggest you find a hobby.


The "Traitor"

Some people assume that, simply because I do not wish to be a woman, I am misogynistic. I could start ranting about how unfair it is to assume that all men hate women, but I won't. I could expound on the fact that misandry does not make one morally superior, but I won't. Instead, I'll explain why I don't wish to be a woman, and hope that cooler heads will prevail, rather than a rant about my assumed misogyny.

I'm sure you can think of something- some hobby, career, university major- that really doesn't suit you. This doesn't mean that you think that it's inferior, or that those who are suited to this hobby/career/educational path are worth less than you.

This is how I feel about femininity in general.

I hold the utmost respect for women. I believe in social, political, and legal equality for all people regardless of sex or gender. I simply don't want to be a woman. It's not that being a woman is wrong, it's simply wrong for me.

I've had this body for the last 20 years, yet it still feels awkward and almost alien at times. I have these lumps of fat on my chest that get in the way and impede arm movement. I've got genitalia which, quite frankly, still creeps me out. This isn't a new thing- the first time I truly noticed my anatomy, I thought I was deformed, despite knowing that my bits were fairly standard for females. Puberty was hell, as I started gaining weight, which settled in rather unfortunate places. At times, I stopped eating, hoping that doing so would stop my breasts from growing. I didn't see it as the process of becoming a mature woman, like my peers seemed to. I saw it as a sign that I was fat. menstruation was absolute hell- the less said about that, the better.

Even knowing intellectually that this was natural and expected, I still couldn't handle these changes to my body.

I tried to be a woman, I really did. I spent years wearing skirts and make-up, trying to fit the feminine stereotype, hoping that if I tried just a little bit harder, I could make myself like being a woman. If I wore bras that emphasized my curves, I could forget how much I hated them. If I did just a little bit more...

I felt like I was flawed. There must have been something wrong with me, after all. I started cutting, feeling that I deserved the pain as punishment for not being good enough. The marks were there to remind me that I needed to try harder.

This is why I find it so insulting when people act like I'm some kind of traitor. This is why it's so frustrating when people think that transitioning from female to male is a form of giving up and bowing down to the patriarchy. I really don't give a flying fuck about gender roles, and the patriarchy can blow me, but I refuse to live a lie any more. I refuse to pretend that I'm happy having female anatomy, simply because some feel that stating otherwise is a betrayal. I refuse to bow down to those who feel that dealing with our undeniably transphobic society is taking the "easy way out."

After all, how can I be honest to a cause if I'm lying about my very identity?

Yes, I understand that we live in a patriarchal society. As I said, I am a staunch supporter of equality. However, my mental and emotional health comes before showing solidarity with a group I do not feel I belong to. I'm supporting equality to improve the quality of live for others- but why should I be expected to live in misery to do so? Isn't it slightly hypocritical to assume that I should sacrifice my own well being to ensure your happiness? Isn't that exactly what you are accusing patriarchal society of doing to women?