i was recently asked the following question. So simple, yet so complex. although i don't think i gave a clear cut answer, here was my attempt, that i thought i would share with you all here today:
gender identity and sexual orientation are completely different things. the problem is that there seems to be a lack of information and lack of understanding as to what gender identity really is all about, and sadly, most LGB folks are so focused on their own internal issues with regards to sexual orientation acceptance, that the furthest thing on their mind is to learn about another group and their issues.
the T community never asked to be merged with the LGBs, that was an idea created by the cis/hetero community.
equally as much of an issue appears to be the inability for members of the T community to get along. likewise, i think this is also due to the fact that there are so many different issues. TG, TS, TV, all mean totally different things. and even worse, there does not appear to be any set of guidelines for definitions of such.
then you have cis folks out there who proclaim themselves 'experts' and are given such recognition by medical industry associations.
TS, TV, TG... which ones are fetishists? which ones are mentally ill? which ones have a biological birth defect? can some of these people be more than one? so many questions and no clear cut answers. nor are there any to be found. we are all different. nobody can label us. identity is something that is determined by oneself, and oneself only.
some of us are fighting for the right to change our ID without having to have surgery, while some of us are fighting for the right to obtain timely and affordabe surgery. some of us claim to be fetishists who think they need mental help. some of us claim we need hormones but not surgery, some of us claim we need both hormones and surgery. some of us want neither. some of us identify with the binary sex and gender categories and some of us don't.
we are a very confusing bunch. we can't even figure ourselves out other than to come to an understanding that the T community is an umbrella of individuals that have a major variety of perceptions as to who we are and how we feel we need to live our lives. with this in mind, we are essentially impossible for everyone else to figure out.
some people say they want to help us, while others appear to only want to build their own empires by creating theories about us.
would the various T movements be better off disassociating themselves from the LGB community? or tagging along? Can the TG, TS, and TVs accomplish their goals by working together, or should they be further disassociating themselves from each other? tough questions and no obvious answers.
what i think we are all fighting is society's perception of how human beings are or should be. combating and overcoming something like that is a huge task, and can't be taken on by individuals on their own, so we all need to find a way to work together to educate and advocate for the rights and needs of everyone in the T community.
as far as a T community, the biggest challenge is to actually get T people to come out from stealth. So many are happy to fade into obscurity and blend in with the rest of the cis world, and i certainly can't blame them. and heck, some of us want to rid ourselves of the trans label one we reach a point where we consider our transition complete, yet others feel quite comfortable retaining the trans label, and feel that transition never ends, but that life is a continuing evolving entity.
but communication is the first step, and it's nice to see that there is some interest out here in putting together some sort of collaborative environment.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Well, i am sure that some of you out there may be familiar with a Halifax-based publication known as Wayves Magazine. Well, back in September, i was approached by one of their journalists to give an interview for an article about the apparent tension and conflict among the St John's LGBT community.
Well, after initially stating it would publish in November, and then postpone publishing until January, i see Wayves has published an article today. Sadly, i must bring to the attention of all everyone that some of the content is outright misleading and false. I am quite disappointed that a draft was not shared with me in advance for the purpose of factual editing.
First of all, the article misleads readers to believe that i have never been involved with pride entities in this city in the past, prior to the incorporation of St. John's Pride Inc. this is clearly false. Secondly, the article erroneously refers to me as the 'chairperson' of St. John's Pride Inc. Thirdly, the article erroneously states that all requests by St. John's Pride Inc. to meet with an entity that the article refers to as the 'former pride' , were unanswered.
For the record, and i think it is common knowledge, i have played a major role in the planning and delivery of pride events in this city, including a leadership role in a panel discussion on LGBT health matters, that occurred in 2009, and a day-long community stakeholder engagement session, that occurred in 2010. Yes, it is true that the self-proclaimed leaders of the 'former pride' organization, failed to recognize me as a contributor, but you can't change history. fact is, i was involved, many people feel that i did a great job, my work was documented in the media, and many people feel it was wrong for me to be excluded from recognition as being part of the entity referred to as the 'former pride' organization.
Secondly, i am one of three people who incorporated St. John's Pride Inc., and i am one of the Board of Directors of said company, but i am not, and have never been, a chairperson.
Thirdly, to state that all meeting requests were ignored is not entirely true. St. John's Pride Inc., has not formally requested to meet with any unofficial pride entity. I as an individual have attempted to arrange meetings with other individuals who have been associated with this perceived 'former' entity, and yes, most of those meeting requests were ignored (which is really unfortunate), but there was one meeting request that was accepted, so i will give them that.
Anyway, why does all this matter? well, i hate to see my reputation as an individual inappropriately tarnished, and likewise, i hate to see St. John's Pride Inc., inappropriately tarnished. and you know what? i hate to see the reputation of anyone inappropriately tarnished! nobody deserves to be inappropriately tarnished. newspapers are supposed to report the facts and attempt to limit bias. well, this particular newspaper seems to have been very selective with regards to which facts they published, which ones they elected to omit, and which facts weren't even correct.
Oh well, what the article did do well was highlight the fact that there is indeed a great deal of conflict and divide here in this city, among would-be leaders of the LGBT community. Unfortunately, and perhaps somewhat deservedly so, the article seems to make all of us look bad. But you know, i will say this. Conflict doesn't happen without passion and dedication, and better to have this than indifference. Sadly, i think the biggest enemy that all would-be pride organizations in this city face, is indifference and indecisiveness from the majority of this city's LGBT population.
While i was initially hopeful that doing an interview with Wayves would help combat the indifference and indecisive, and help bridge the divide among community leaders, i now fear that this article will not prove helpful in any of these aspects.
anyway, one final note, the article points readers to stjohnspride.org for 'more information'. As you can clearly see, this website is not functional yet. i was mislead to believe that this Wayves article would not publish until January. In fact, this article was to be the first formal broadcast of the existence of this site. I feel badly that the site is not ready yet, but my team is working away and should have something up there very soon.
Monday, December 27, 2010
well, i made the decision to stay at home over the holiday season; partly because of the weather reports, which proved to be serious in terms of delaying flights and ferry boat trips, and partly because i was anxious to have a couple of nice long runs and a couple of long sleep ins. after 3 days of getting 10 hours of sleep, and after 2 days of essentially no running, i felt ready to give it a go this afternoon.
having not run more than 22k in one day since sept 26, i knew i would have to take things extra slow, and i did. i started by running over to burton's pond with a bag of bird seed. and after a lovely visit with the duckies, i ventured down the trail to quidi vidi lake, where i hadn't been for probably 8 weeks! then i did 8 laps around the 4k trail, stopping each time for a brief visit with the infamous greylag goose, who has lived down at the lake for many years. She was honking away at the many ducks that were also there.
the weather was 2 degrees, quite windy and drizzle on and off, which made for fairly nice running conditions. after 17k, i popped into the store to grab a powerbar and 1.4 litres of gatorade. then i carried on, lap after lap. at 20k, i was actually running harder and stronger! at 25k, i decided to do one more lap, before taking the final 5k jaunt home. at 28k, i could feel it in my knees, but my endurance was holding up nicely. i arrived back home at my door just under 5 hours after leaving. taking into account the duck breaks, i estimate i ran the 34k in about 4 hr 25 min. i can't help but feel extremely happy and excited about the run.
having now been home resting and stretching for a few hours, the legs really aren't that bad, and the chronic foot pain is not too bad either. in fact, the foot was never a factor in the entire run. well, i hope i managed to run off a few of those christmas calories.
this brings me to 2220k on the year, with 4 days left. i am hoping to get in a few more long runs and close out the year with 2300. with major surgery coming up in less than a month, i know i will have a long break in my training, but i am laying the foundation for what i hope will be a great year ahead. a little base building now should go a long way.
anyway, time to relax and cuddle with my cats and watch some bowl games!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
ok, a little play on words (double entendre), as a tribute to blues legend T-Bone Walker, in my title. but yes, a major rain and wind storm here in newfoundland, which started last night and carried over all thru today. it was a rather challenging run home today, but i managed to survive, and even did so with a smile. it rains here so often that i am used to it. i think everyone else here is too. very rare to see an umbrella in this town! it is supposed to continue to rain all week, with very high winds all week too. hopefully the power won't go out! it always seems to happen at christmas, the ferry boats are not running, and many airplane flights have been cancelled, and there are stranded people all over the island. glad i am not one of them!
oh well, i will look forward to my next run in the rain tomorrow!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
well, 51.3 k last week and 46.4 k this week. i went for a run 13 of the past 14 days. it's great that i am consistently getting in at least a small run pretty much every day. i believe we also had rain 13 of the past 14 days, and ironically enough, it was the sunny day that i did not run (but i did go for a couple of long walks).
i ran a hard 14k last night after work, and that seemed to wear me out, so today was just a light 2.4k to the post office to get a few christmas things mailed, (hope they arrive in time!) Then i actually had an afternoon nap, which is rare for me. then the rest of the day has been relaxing on the couch. lol Hopefully i will feel more energetic tomorrow.
Monday, December 13, 2010
you know, i always took pride in being an ironman of sorts. from 1990 - 2007, out of all the jobs i had and out of all the schooling i went through, i only phoned in sick once, for a half day - and that wasn't even due to sickness, but rather, due to a neck injury that i sustained at a Black Sabbath concert when a rowdy body-surfing fan landed on my head!
Brett Favre has not missed a day of work in 18 years, and given the business he is in, as an NFL quarterback, this is an incredible accomplishment that will never likely be duplicated. At the age of 41, he's still good enough to play elite pro football. Sadly, it has been a rough season for him, both in terms of his performance, and in terms of his body. He took a vicious hit last week that injured his shoulder, and it did not recover in time for tonight's Monday night game. Although i don't necessarily like all the drama that has been associated with him in recent years, from one athlete to another, and one ironman to another, i say congrats!
seems most of my posts as of late are 'quick updates', and i am sorry for that. However, i suppose it is good news that i am keeping busy with a variety of things.
i finally got some energy, and had a really good 20k run on saturday, and an 11k run on sunday.
looking forward to the week ahead!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Well, there was a 'standing vote' at the 'report stage' of the 3rd reading of Bill C-389 in Canada's parliament today. this bill is a motion to amend the Canadian Human Rights Code to add gender identity and gender expression to the prohibited grounds of discrimination section; as well, it will add gender identity and gender expression to the Criminal Code of Canada in the section pertaining to hate crimes.
This is a private member's bill that is open to a free vote (meaning that individual members of parliament may vote as they please and do not have to vote in accordance with political party platform or positions). the vote was passed with 143 yays, and 136 nays. the majority of liberals supported the bill, while the majority of conservatives did not. i have no information with regards to how others voted. but i do know that the following 'exceptions' occurred, as reported by xtra.ca magazine:
Conservatives who voted in favour:
Liberals who voted against:
-Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia
-Conservative Lisa Raitt
-Conservative Dona Cadman
-Prime Minister Stephen Harper
-John Baird (at the Cancun conference)
Liberals who voted against:
-Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia
-Conservative Lisa Raitt
-Conservative Dona Cadman
-Prime Minister Stephen Harper
-John Baird (at the Cancun conference)
I also know that two prominent Liberals voted in favour, including party leader Michael Ignatieff (my former MP when i lived in the western part of Toronto), and Siobhan Coady, MP for St. John's South / Mount Pearl, in Newfoundland.
Siobhan and I have exchanged words on a variety of occasion. She has expressed her personal support for this bill, and went so far as to give me a personal phone call today from Ottawa to make it known that not only was she supporting the bill, but that she had me in mind today as she voted. With this in mind, I'd like to publicly acknowledge and thank Siobhan not only for her vote today, but for her willingness to meet with me and discuss trans-related government policy issues on multiple occasions in the past. I'm not one to give political endorsements, and i won't do that now, but from a personal perspective, it appears that Siobhan is 100% genuine in her interest in helping out the trans community, and for that, she deserves credit and recognition.
Of course, this bill would not have happened if it wasn't for the work of NDP MP Bill Siksay, who penned the bill and put it forward in the house.
This is not the first time that such legislation has been presented to the House. on previous occasions, a similar bill died while going through the process, because apparently all unresolved bills get terminated when a federal election occurs.
Unfortunately, this exact same situation could occur, as the next stage of the complex bill processing process will not occur until late February, where there will be further debate and an additional and final vote.
As has been well documented here on my site, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recently rejected the opportunity to provide directly-cited Human Rights protection for people under the grounds of gender identity and gender expression, under their newly revised and launched Human Rights Act.
The main opponents of this bill appear to be religious fundamentalists who believe that transgendered people are apparently a threat to public safety. Some are going to far to suggest that this bill will allow sexual predators to have access to public washrooms. this is clearly a ridiculous and non-existent threat. Transsexuals have been using public washrooms of their choice for many years. there are no official laws in Canada affecting the use of public washrooms.
i believe the statistics show that the majority of sexual predators are heterosexual males who are not trans in any way. likewise, you can search everywhere on the internet, newspapers, and tv archives. i guarantee you won't find even one story about a transsexual (transman or transwoman) who has molested children in public washrooms. i also believe that it is extremely rare for a sexual predator to pose as the opposite sex, while conducting their crime.
With regards to the claim that sexual predators will pose as transpeople specifically because they want to gain washroom access, well, as mentioned, there's no current law preventing people from using any washroom they darn well please. Will this bill make it more politically or socially acceptable for cisgendered men to use the ladies washroom, or vise versa? i say definitely not.
For those who are still concerned and want to police their washroom access, the simple solution is to require either proof of legal sex, or proof of transsexualism. Let's not forget that transsexualism is a biological medical condition. this requires medical intervention; which means that transsexuals have to see medical professionals, and will obtain medical letters. A so-called real trans person will have a medical letter stating such. Obviously, sexual predators will not have such a letter.
Ultimately, i hate to say it, but i think this Bill is likely to fail, unless some critical terminology and definitions can be formally created and recognized by Government. As was cited here Provincially, it is very tough to provide protection for a specific classification that is not clearly defined. with this in mind, steps need to be taken to define specifically, not only what gender identity and gender expression means, but under what context would such a matter come into play. Defining what is a transperson and what is a 'non-transperson pretending to be trans' is a very gray area. transgenderism is an umbrella term that represents all things trans. this includes everything from a classically-identified 'true transsexual', to your 'non-ops', to your drag queens, to your 'confused/questioning' and perhaps may even include 'transsexual impersonator sexual predators' (i.e. the sexual predators who religious leaders are trying to convince exist).
ultimately, what matters most here is that there is a very vulnerable small group of Canadians who face extreme daily discrimination from both private and government individual and entities. it isn't about washrooms. this is about transpeople struggling to obtain fair access to basic human needs, such as housing, health care, employment, and physical safety.
the fact that 136 members of parliament voted against this thing is a disturbing sign that at least some folks feel that providing equal human rights to everyone is not politically correct.
If this bill does fail, then government and taxpayers will have to pay another price - legal bills! The one way to force politically correctness, is to get an order from the judicial system. minorities over the years, have often gone to court, and won, over matters pertaining to human rights. this can and will be no exception. To deny someone, such as me, access to health care funding, or to reject my application for employment because of my gender identity and gender expression is clearly something that appears to be morally wrong, regardless of what laws are or aren't in place.
The pendulum of public opinion appears to be swinging. after years of transpeople being portrayed on televisions shows as freaks, the tv coverage as of late appears to be 100% positive. trans people are people, and we do many things that everyone else does, and we strive to achieve and attain the same things, and we need the same things to survive and thrive in this world. Most people i know seem to get it. It's time for politicians to get up to speed here! i'm sure there will be an official list posted very soon that will detail who supported this bill and who didn't. now is the time for transpeople and their supporters to get in touch and lobby for inclusion, acceptance, and human rights for all.