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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Song In My Head

  When I was a kid I was essentially a small, skinny dorky boy,  My siter was 4 years older and far more rad in the musical arena, so I got my mitts on the double LP set  this was on. It cost me $22.85 Anywho, I recorded it onto cassette and my sister let me borrow her Walkman. The cute, rich, everywhatever girl in school wanted to listen to my Walkman, so I let her. This song came on. She thought I was somehow cool afterward.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Your Daily Darwin

As a Canadian, I'm expected to not laugh at the misfortune of others, but this is too funny. The CBC is huge in Canada, and millions turned on their televisions to find this young lady in their background.

I always give my lady friend the seide-eye when she does this, and here's why.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Random Quickie

Sometimes in life there are coincidences so spectacular that some folks try to blame them on the supernatural.

This man-made feature of Nagasaki, Japan is one of those.

Media Moment: The Gif Goes Gaga Edition

 This GIF has been floating all over the interwebs for a little while now. It's of musician Lady Gaga dressed as one of her art aliases, Jo Calderone. You may have seen Jo strutting on an award show, throwing a beer in a music video, or lifting his shirt as in the image above.

But make no mistake kids, Gaga's not doing this in solidarity with the trans* community, in fact Jo is an outlandish caricature of the drag king/ trans*man archetype. Complete with exaggerated gestures and peculiar posturing, Ms. Gaga has made it clear that Jo is just another attempt for her to garner personal attention by ridiculing other people.

Some say that imitation is flattery, and it often is, but with Gaga, her cartoonish portrayals of everyone from the disabled to ethnic and gender minorities actually demean instead of inspire. For Lady Gaga, the trans man is just another character, not an individual, just something to turn into her next Haus of Gaga project. For her, she can change into whatever she feels will cause the most controversy, but the rest of us really were born the way we are, as human beings and not trends, with loves and lives and jobs, hopes, dreams, and fears.

So here's a news flash, queer kids- Lady Gaga really doesn't give a damn about you. If she did, she wouldn't be glorifying something that could put you in the hospital. Tape binding is dangerous, and I know because I have had a trip to emerg and have 2 permanent scars from binding this way. Don't do it....EVER. Moreover, learn to see the difference between an ally and someone who is just using your struggle to further their bottom line. Some folks stand behind you in support and some do it to stab you in the back.

You were born with an ability to think critically, so do use it. Always question the motives behind what you are shown and told. You don't need a song to tell you to be yourself. Self-worth cannot be acquired in a boxed set at Wal-Mart for $29.99.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This Is Not Fox News

TW: Transphobia, sexism, psychiatric abuse, cissupremacy, homophobia, reparative therapy.

  Barbara Kay is a noted right-wing columnist who is currently in the employ of Canada's National Post. Her often grammatically challenged rants challenge the reader's emotions; comforting the Caucasians and inspiring nervousness in everyone else. Her articles have been called racist, anti-feminist, Islamophobic, and more, and today she has added universally appalling to the list.

  Her piece, titled Sex and the Troubled Mind, is her grand opinion piece on transgender and nonbinary individuals. It makes the reader feel uncomfortably, uses mispronouning throughout, and presents a discredited doctor's opinions as fact.

I further warn you that the italicized excerpts are not words of my own and may trigger some people.

It’s not every day a man has a baby. Which is why Neil Hope and “his” baby are in the news. Neil Hope, now 37, is a transsexual female who underwent gender-reassignment surgery in his 20s, but left her uterus intact. With the help of artificial insemination, Hope conceived a baby and gave birth last year. This case is unusual, to be sure, but it has naturally inspired questions about the ethical limits of assisted-reproductive technology.

Note the quotation marks around his, which is the beginning of a tirade designed to make the reader believe that transgender men are not male. Also, Mr. Hope is a transgender man, and do notice the segue from his 20s to her uterus. Ms. Kay then states that her article is supposed to be about reproductive technology, failing to warn the reader that it is really a prescriptivist transphobic rant.

Transgenderism and its social implications is a hot topic these days. Recently Toronto and the world were abuzz with the story of a 4-month old baby whose sex was being kept a secret from everyone but the immediate family. In related news, a school in Sweden dropped all references to sex in its nomenclature, and was offering children only sex-neutral toys (dolls yes, trucks no – this is the new “neutral” amongst social constructionists).

Grammatical error: it should be are a hot topic. Ms. Kay also feels that refusal to conform to her ideas about gender is evidence of a trans takeover.

In the old days, it would have been quite acceptable to call Neil Hope’s bizarre experiment freakish, not only in the literal dictionary sense – “a very unusual and unexpected event” – but as an assessment of the psychological state of the individual behind the decision. Many people will still identify the act and the person as freakish, but behind closed doors. It has become politically incorrect to suggest that transgenderism or transsexualism is anything more than an alternate lifestyle, perfectly healthy just as all other sexualities are. Moreover, to think otherwise, to think that transgenderism is a medical problem, say, is to be guilty of heteronormativism. In the new parlance, “normal” is not how people are born biologically, it is whatever they think they are. Slotting people into binary roles – male, female – merely on the basis of genitalia is to be a narrow, intolerant rigidly socially constructivist.

In the good old days, trans folks were freaks, disturbed people who had chosen to live in a psychologically disturbed state. Critics of this philosophy are now victims of political correctness.
That is certainly Neil Hope’s take on his/her situation. He/she says: “Trans people make amazing parents, the same way they make amazing children and they make amazing siblings and husbands and wives.” No suggestion here that believing you were born in the wrong body is in any sense a tragedy, or something one might wish to seek psychiatric help for. It’s all good!
Barbara Kay continues to further reinforce the denial of autonomy in trans people by using his/hers, and subsequently takes a stab at the mental health of law-abiding transgender individuals.
The reality is that we know very little about what drives the desire to be the other sex. Sex is an objective reality. But “gender identity” is a subjective condition – an attitude towards oneself that may externalize itself in behaviours like cross-dressing as its self-expression. It is a phenomenon scientists know little about, and they should have the right to explore it without being intimidated by the sexual relativists who have thus far commandeered discussion around it.
Psychologists must have free reign over the correction of these people who are victimizing the poor social constructionists.
In the November, 2004 issue of First Things Magazine, Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at John Hopkins University, wrote an interesting account of his university’s adventures in sex reassignment surgery. He interviewed many men before their surgery (most cases of sex reassignment are male to female). He says they spent a lot of time talking about sex and their sexual experiences, which preoccupied them. Many of them claimed to be “lesbians,” who found women sexually attractive. And – a telling detail – “discussion of babies or children provoked little interest from them; indeed, they seemed indifferent to children.”
Ms. Kay refers to whom she believes are trans women as men. It's also known now that many of the people Dr. McHugh interviewed did not have gender-confirming surgery and were drag queens or cross-dressers. In fact, they weren't even patients, but were paid for their input. Included is the erroneous claim that the majority of "cases" are in people assigned male at birth. Naturally, these perverts also don't like children.
Dr. Hughes wanted to know more about his patients. He wanted to test the claim that sex change would solve the patient’s suffering, and that changing genitalia allows the individual to settle easily into the new role, i.e. he wanted to know whether gender really is merely the result of cultural shaping.
Kay begins addressing Dr. McHugh as Dr. Hughes for no apparent reason, a trend that continues throughout the remainder of the editorial. It must be noted that Dr. McHugh's supposed research was proven fraudulent and has been universally debunked. Also, the author and the debunked doc confuse sexual fetishism and internalized homophobia with gender identity, something Barbara Kay uses to confuse the reader.
When his team started tracking their sex-changed patients, they found that few regretted the change, but “in every other respect, they were little changed in their psychological condition. They had much the same problems with relationships, work and emotions as before.”
Naturally, people who have taken years to confirm their identity are happy with it, but it's not a life transplant. 
Dr. Hughes and his team ultimately decided to stop doing the sex reassignment surgeries. Their conclusion was “that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.” Instead of pretending that a “man” having a baby is something to celebrate, we should lend our efforts to research that will lead to a cure for this terribly sad psychological problem.
Barbara Kay concludes her diatribe by stating that transgender people should be forced into psychiatric care and cured of what she views as a treatable affliction.

Canada prides herself on being a decent nation, full of a diverse array of folks that generally live in a cooperative and inclusive manner, but there are exceptions, and Barbara Kay is there to serve the petrified ultra-right wing. She is part of a machine that has no desire to learn, but yearns for control of those not her. The Conservative rise in Canada ensures that Orwellian preachers like Ms. Kay continue to live in their upper middle class enclaves, safe from blacks and the poor and anyone whom they deem too freaky.To step out of line is to warrant involuntary medical experimentation in Barbara Kay's world, an enigma so paranoid and exclusionary that Wyndham couldn't have imagined it.

While our American friends were cheering the suspension of a CNN anchor for a few sports tweets, Barbara Kay was writing a manifesto that was read by a million people or more. Her expressions are not vague; it's not a few words of sissy-shaming. Thousands of characters to tell the nation to hate their neighbours, to spread falsehoods, to call for the forced medical treatment of people just so she doesn't have to read about a person she has never met having a family that's not really much different from her own. Eugenics in the name of normalcy. This isn't 1920's Virginia, 1960's Mississippi, or even Fox News. This is Canada, the True North Strong and Free; a place that honours liberty but penalizes bigotry. Barbara Kay's bosses need to know that hate against one citizen impacts us all - it punishes those who are already oppressed and weakens our unity as a people.

Barbara Kay wrote her piece to turn people against her fellow citizens; to prescribe and divide. From Muslims to women to the gender-variant, she thinks we're all soft targets ripe for ridicule. It's high time that the National Post and Barbara Kay become aware that transgender people are not objects for entertainment and research value.

To petition the National Post to suspend or fire Barbara Kay for her continued attacks on marginalized populations, click here 

Monday, February 6, 2012

You KNOW This Is Wrong

TW: violence, homophobia

Hate crimes are a serious thing that merit severe penalties. Violence inspired by blind hatred maims and kills to be sure, but its impact is often widespread because it makes all feel minorities fear leaving their homes.

Those who perpetrate these offenses are not ashamed of their crimes; they thoroughly enjoy the terror they can inflict. The Pittsburgh Jack City Gang in Atlanta is a group of malcontents who are such miscreants, and in typical asshole fashion, these young men actually posted this video of them brutally ambushing a small gent as he was leaving a shop in order to terrorize "faggots" into staying out of the public eye.

This video was recently shot outside a 1029 McDaniel Street SW grocery store and is difficult to watch, but it needs to be shown. These proud criminals must be identified and brought to justice and because they so brazenly filmed it for their viewing audience, it's my hope that this group of spineless punks will spend their next evening in a jail cell.

These so-called men may be seeking accolades, but will hopefully garner the kind of punishment due those who make even day-to-day tasks dangerous and frightening for LGBT folks today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Song In My Head

The record that this song is off of came out exactly 18 years ago. I was in grade 13 and it was a few months before my 18th birthday. I felt like I had the whole world ahead of me, but little did I know, my life would begin to fall apart in the few months after I heard this relatively unrelated track.

I was living with my mum and her welfare bum boyfriend had just moved in. Because of male privilege, everything my mum earned went to him. It's always been that way and I had been well trained in the subservience of my position as ordained by birth. I'd just been outed by my sister and my mum alternated between trying to hook me up with the sons of her friends and being accepting, depending on which combination of psych drugs she was on at the time. I was being seriously bullied at my school because one of my so-called friends outed me. I was a small and quiet kid, too, so I'd get beat up pretty often and chased all over. I had to share a locker with a girl named Jessie and we used to get it vandalized almost daily due to me being the school freak. It was the expected existence of the queer kid. Teachers used to even get in on it and I got kicked out for 3 weeks for displaying an "unacceptable lifestyle" after some teacher reported me for being a queer and lost my better classes and had to switch to ones they knew I could ace in half the time.

Another stressful thing occurred in this span. 4 dudes who I thought were my friends drugged me, raped me, and knocked me into next week. Luckily, I was so concussed that I don't remember complete details to this day, but the shame was upon me. The men bragged about "fixing the dyke" and were congratulated wherever they went. My mum's boyfriend had an inkling about what may have happened, but I was in such shock and felt so humiliated that I denied everything. But people knew, and there was no sympathy for me or the only other queer kid in town, who had also been beat up and had her bike tossed in Georgian Bay. I remember her story actually made the paper and I also remember the op-eds and letters to the editor basically saying that thee lesbo got what she deserved and that freaks shouldn't be allowed in town. She quickly moved away after this.

Now, occasionally, my dad would stop in for one of his visits that were supposed to be every two weeks. He used to sometimes drop me off at the Church Street Community Centre in Toronto where I got to hang with other queer kids and didn't feel so alone. Pop thought I was going to a support group, but they were really meetings to organize a help line for LGBT kids that still exists to this day. It was cool and even though I didn't understand the hip city homo speak, it was still awesome and I made a couple of acquaintances.

Cue back to the everyday...

My pop had been paying mum $100 a month in child support for YEARS. It was based on his income from 1982, so she decided it was time for little Mr. Growth Spurt to start paying off. She wanted him to give her plenty of cheddar and me one fine education. I wasn't aware at the time, but there was some serious gamesmanship going on in the corners. There was supposed to be a court hearing scheduled for a few days before I graduated. My dad somehow got me to write my exams early and convinced me to move into his place until shit simmered down. He won the war and my mother still has not forgiven me for falling for dad's plan. (For his part, dad maintains he was doing the right thing by sticking it to my mother.)

So, while I was at my dad's flat, I worked some shitty jobs  and my dad convinced me to stop taking my psych meds. He sent me to an interview at the company he worked for where they humiliated me for not being enrolled in a fancy-pants university. I'm not sure what kind of bullshit dad told to get me this interview, but it was clear that I was not elite enough for them.After a couple of months the coast was clear, so dad sent me to live in some group home that was intended for abandoned young people. It was at Danforth and Pape and this is where I taught myself how to eat like a king for under 80 bucks a month. I eventually got kicked out of the place for having a mental episode and lived in shelters and on the street for quite awhile. The shelters would kick you out during the day, so I'd hang out in the Toronto Reference Library and read about Reed Erickson and Alan Hart and the Daughter of Bilitis and all of the rest of the old guys and gals who came before me. And while I was immersed in the stories of the heroes, this song may very well have been in my head.

(c) 2011 WMG Buy this HERE