In conjunction with Galop and Gaydar Girls, the Metropolitan Police in London have launched a survey on women’s experience of transphobia and homophobia. You may be asked to fill this in if you are visiting an LGBT venue: it is entirely voluntary of course. It is also possible to download the survey and send it in by email – as explained here.
While worthy, the idea of a survey to discover why women don’t report hate crimes seems somewhat strange. If people don’t feel comfortable reporting a crime, are they likely to volunteer to complete a survey? While this may make sense within the lesbian community, it seems to demonstrate somewhat poor understanding of the trans community in which so many are either in the closet or in stealth. Indeed, the whole idea of a gendered survery will be objectionable to many in the trans community. These flaws are compounded by presenting trans in terms of MTF or FTM, terms which only apply to those transsexual people undergoing gender reassignment and wouldn’t, for instance, apply to a TV who experiences transphobia while out as a woman? This feels like a survey that was designed within the LGB community and extended to cover transphobia without real understanding of trans issues. It could reduce the likelihood of trans people reporting crimes to the police and that would be unfortunate as the police are generally more trans aware than this flawed survey suggests.
There are further problems. The question “Are you a disabled person?” is difficult within the trans community. Legally anybody who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria is disabled according to the definition in the Disability and Discrimination Act, but many TS people do not feel themselves to be disabled. For the trans community the question should therefore have been asked as “Do you consider yourself to be disabled?”
The question, “To what extent are you ‘out’ as a lesbian/gay or bi woman or trans. person?” is also somewhat insensitive. It is one of the key differences between many trans people and lesbians. A non-passing trans person has no choice about being out. An FTM who is awaiting top surgery and still has a large chest may find it impossible to be anything other than out, as may an MTF with a masculine face and heavy beard growth.
The survery isn’t transphobic. There is an intention to do the right thing. But it does forcibly demonstrate a very poor understanding of trans issues. As he intention is to help, it may still be worth completing the survey, but if you feel that the many flaws are evidence of the problem, you may wish to contact the survey organiser to register a complaint – Susan Paterson of the Metropolitan Police at 11th Floor Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London SW6 1TR.
As Lawrence Mute reports in a long article at AllAfrica.com, the entitety of Anglophone Africa failed to back the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is perhaps surprising that South Africa abstained as that is a country which does recognise changes of recorded gender.
Since devolution, Scotland has developed a reputation for social conscience. The Herald reports two stories:
- Stonewall Scotland (who unlike Stonewall in the UK do fight for trans rights) addressed SMPs on the benefits of creating a new offence of homophobic and transphobic attacks. Ms Stokes told MSPs: “We need to make it very, very clear that homophobia is not acceptable, that transphobia is not acceptable, that everyone has rights and deserves to be treated decently.”
- The Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Network (LGBT) presented a petition which will be considered by a Holyrood committee. They are proposing and amendment to the Marriage (Scotland) Act to allow same-sex couples to marry in either civil ceremonies, or religious ones (where the religion permits it).
Fresh on the heals of the reports from Gainesville Florida, it seems Kalamazoo, Michigan has beated Gainesville to it. In December Kalamazoo passed an ordinance protecting LGBT rights. Barely a month later, it’s been revoked in the face of protests.
OK I’ve found a bit more:
Firstly the Citizens for Good Public Policy have their site here, which describes what the proposed amendment will do, and links to a copy of the draft amendment. They intention is stated as follows:
The proposed amendment, if approved by the voters of Gainesville, will require the city’s civil rights categories (contained in the Code of Ordinances) to match the State of Florida’s civil rights categories. This action will remove two current categories—sexual orientation and gender identity disorder—as well as nullify current laws, such as the Gender Identity Ordinance, that specifically pertain to these categories.
That’s a particularly evil (and I use the word advisedly) ordinance as it completely removes all legal protections from anybody who is gay or trangendered.
There’s also a decent Associated Press article which summarises the state of play and includes a little map to show where Gainesville lies in Florida.
There is a gathering and live concert this Saturday in at the West Hollywood Auditorium, California in support of overturning Prop 8 and against the Defence of Marriage Act. For more details, refer to FaceBook.
Prop 8 is something many trans people feel strongly about and the trans community is for – or once! – pretty united it seems in wanting to stand with the LGB movement in support of same sex marriages. The dynamic is even stronger in the USA as Some states still don’t allow trans people to change their birth certificates so the ban on same sex marriages can also become a double whammy for some trans people. For example a trans woman in Ohio wanting to marry a man cannot do so: she cannot get her female gender recognised and therefore her desired marriage is considered a same sex marriage.
Much has been written about transphobia within the UK LGB movement, with particular attention focused on Stonewall and Julie Bindel, but the problem is an international one as Aleisha Cuff reports from Vancouver in Man Count. It’s worth remembering that Vancouver was the site of the Kimberly Nixon court case that seems to lie at the root of Julie Bindel’s animosity and some of the comments to the article pick up on some specifics of that case.
One thing Aleisha said particularly caught my eye as it seemed to sum up the issue rather neatly:
Trans women are in a tremendously difficult position: if we’re too feminine we’re acting as sexist caricatures, whereas if we’re too masculine that just proves we’re not women in the first place. If we speak up, we’re aggressively grabbing the microphone, and if we don’t we’re supporting the premise that women are meek and submissive.