In June 2013, I wrote about Norrie, a transgender woman from New South Wales (pictured above), who had successfully petitioned The New South Wales Court of Appeal to be given the right not to list her gender as either male or female. 
Predictably, this New South Wales decision had been appealed and it went to the High Court. This morning, they ruled that New South Wales law can indeed recognise non-specific genders other than male or female. 
See the legal document below.
High Court ruling: NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie
 
Photo and news: SBS News. High-res

In June 2013, I wrote about Norrie, a transgender woman from New South Wales (pictured above), who had successfully petitioned The New South Wales Court of Appeal to be given the right not to list her gender as either male or female. 

Predictably, this New South Wales decision had been appealed and it went to the High Court. This morning, they ruled that New South Wales law can indeed recognise non-specific genders other than male or female. 

See the legal document below.

High Court ruling: NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie

 

Photo and news: SBS News.

bromance IS homophobia

kenobi-wan-obi:

thegoddamazon:

queeradical:

1) Bromances are based on mocking and rejecting queerness — The entire joke about the SethRogen-JamesFranco bromances of the world is that they’re parodies of queerness. Literally, the humor is about making queerness the butt of the joke (so to speak). It’s funny when straight dudebros enact any kind of queer attraction entirely because it’s something they wouldn’t actually do in any serious way. Queerness is the joke because who would actually want to be queer right? 

2) Bromances are used to queerbait. Queerbaiting is when people (like writers of TV shows) throw in an undercurrent of queerness or use homoerotic tension for the sole purpose of keeping queer viewers interested. For example, on a lot of TV shows, bromances can be both a running joke (see #1 above) and also a constant hope. Queer viewers, who are so used to not having any kind of central representation in stories, are baited with bromances in order to keep them hopeful that the characters could be queer, but the result is that they never are because queerness is bad for capitalism. Queerbaiting is cruel and is a huge problem. 

3) Bromances enforce white supremacy. Bro-ness seems to exist in a constant space of parodying and mocking otherness. Not only is queerness mocked and then passed off as humor; bromances are frequently about safeguarding whiteness by mocking people of color. Going back to Seth Rogen and James Franco again, time after time the humor of their on-screen bromances comes from racist jokes. From Pineapple Express (don’t even get me started) to the recent parody of Kanye’s Bound 2 video, Rogen and Franco’s bromance humor is literally predicated on either mocking race, or disregarding it and appropriating it for the white cis male gaze (think about how none of Kanye’s messages about racism in Yeezus seem to make it into Rogen and Franco’s parody video, or how Franco’s uncool white rapper trope appropriates blackness in order to make it the butt of the joke). 

4) Bromances enforce cis male dominance. Okay this one isn’t that hard to see. Bromances are literally predicated on worshipping traditional masculinity: muscles, boys clubs, getting girls, etc. In fact, ladies are baited with bromances a little like queers: bromances are used to show ladies that dudebros have feelings and can be tender and care about friendship and loyalty, while also showing how they’re strong and masculine — all in order to get the girl. Where ladies are concerned, bromances literally act to shore up patriarchy. 

5) Bromances are about asserting privilege. Finally, as kind of a summation of some above points, bromances are all about straight white cis dudes injecting their (irrelevant) opinions about queerness and race into mainstream discourse. Bromances literally have the privilege of being more talked about in magazines and interviews than queer issues do. Bromances allow dudebros to literally prioritize their own viewpoints about oppressed groups and pass them off as comedy or satire. 

In conclusion, bromances are literally built on racism and homophobia by mocking othered identities for humor. 

EDIT: wow I didn’t even go into “no homo” here it could practically have its own post

I never thought about it like this…

Wow this is really interesting, making me reassess myself right now..

Students from Sydney’s Newtown High School of the Performing Arts give Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott a tough question time that he was evidently poorly prepared to answer with grace. The clip begins with Abbott giving weak environmental advice (“plant a tree… but don’t raise taxes”). He then faces questions about why he opposes gay marriage and his inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. Flustered and annoyed, he resorts to his infamous sexism: “Let’s have a bloke’s question, OK?”

Working off the cuff and under estimating Australia’s youth, the Prime Minister is clearly out of his depth.

Since the 1990s Australian law has recognised sexual persecution as grounds for refugee asylum. Still, applicants are forced to go through a protracted process of proving their “gayness.” This excellent video features University of Sydney researcher and activist Senthorun Raj telling the story of Ravi, a Bangladeshi asylum seeker, who was forced not just to establish his sexuality, but to defend his commitment to his queerness. Ravi’s problem was that he was not “visibly” gay in the way the law expected. Yet refuge law on persecution is not simply about looks or physical persecution. Raj writes:

LGBTIQ persecution does not always involve physical violence. Persecution can manifest in persisting psychological abuse, coerced concealment, the inability to subsist, or systemic discrimination that is legitimated/ tolerated by the state. 

In the video, Ravi notes that while his first sexual encounter with a man was consensual it was not pleasurable. This is part of sexuality: we can be attracted to people and not necessarily always enjoy sex equally with everyone. Ravi had also had sex with a woman in the past. This undermined his case as a gay man in the eyes of the Refugee Tribunal. They did not believe that Ravi had “made up his mind” about being gay because of this prior experience.

As Raj points out, sexuality is fluid. Some people can be gay and yet still have had sexual experiences with the opposite gender, or they can gay and not have slept with many people, and you can be gay and not necessarily have enjoyed all your sexual encounters. This works the same for heterosexual people, and yet this somehow doesn’t invalidate their heterosexuality.

This is such an important video to explore the sociology of refugee law and the intersections between migration and queer theory. The story is illustrated wonderfully by Australian artist on Tumblr, Sam Wallman (penerasespaper).

Transgender Violence Tracking Portal New Jersey programmer and activist Allison Woolbert

bialogue-group:

Allison Woolbert on the Need for Tracking of Anti-Transgender Violence

Says bisexual author and columnist AJ Walkley, "Recently my newsfeeds have been flooded with stories about attacks on trans* and non-binary individuals … Fortunately, one trans*bisexual activist is taking charge of this problem, turning to Kickstarter in hopes of raising the funding to launch the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal. I sat down with New Jersey programmer and activist Allison Woolbert to discuss her campaign and what she hopes will come from it.”

AJ Walkley: What is your connection to the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal?
Allison Woolbert: I am a concerned member of the community. I wanted to find a way to make sure that the violence against transgender/genderqueer/non-binary people is accurately documented and not swept under the carpet. I launched the Kickstarter project to make the vision of this project a reality. As CEO of a computer software development company, I am providing the programmers and technologies necessary to make this project successful.

Walkley: Why is a Transgender Violence Tracking Portal needed, in your opinion?
Woolbert: So often, the media and law enforcement are dismissive concerning the violence that is inflicted on transgender/genderqueer/non-binary people. In addition, hate incidents against transgender people are often not documented at all. Many of the cases that are reported are sensationalized, and the facts become muddled and disconnected.

Currently, there is no data repository that can validate and provide tangible evidence of the violence that has been inflicted on the transgender community … With this project, the data will be available to be reported and queried against every day of the year. At any given point in time, we will have a website that can show the world what the picture of our community looks like and raise the awareness and the responsibility of law enforcement to protect our basic right to live … The project will also enable us to allow interested groups and parties to sign up for email alerts when something in their community has happened and needs attention …

Walkley: There are some very grim statistics when it comes to violence against transgender people. Can you share a few?
Woolbert: Sadly, we have some horrid statistics that exist about the violence toward our community. The Transgender Murder Monitoring Project estimates at this point that approximately every three days a transgender person is reported murdered throughout the world … Virtually every few days, I hear about a transgender suicide or attempted suicide … Of the assaults, we have yet to have any statistics available …

Walkley: If your campaign is successful, what do you hope will come out of the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal? How will this site help?
Woolbert: There are so many capabilities that this portal will make available to the public. Just to list a few, I believe on some levels we will be able to track the numbers of the violent assaults and murders, as well as what the disposition of the crimes might be. In other words, is the case still open? Has anyone been charged? Were they found guilty, and did they get an appropriate sentence? Did a hate crime charge get pressed? Did the convictions get overturned? Did they use the panic defense,” and was it upheld or used to mitigate sentencing? Have the police conducted a thorough investigation?

Walkley: Should your campaign succeed, when can backers expect to see a completed portal site?
Woolbert: … I would hope that by the first quarter of 2014, we will have the portal fully up and functioning, ready for data to start being entered by volunteers. We have already begun the process in recruiting and vetting international volunteers from the various nations to be reporting officials for their areas …

WANT TO LEARN MORE AND GET INVOLVED IN THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE?

(via sociolab)


Yes, the Pope influences millions of Catholics. And yes, he should be praised for making a change, if and when he actually makes that change.
This is not that time. He did not change the doctrine, he has not changed his stance on supporting the Church’s teachings, and he is excommunicating a pro-gay Australian priest for supporting women in becoming ordained. And now, since The Advocate award, it has been reported that he is ‘shocked’ by the thought of civil unions and gay adoption - news that isn’t shocking to me at all.
The Advocate and a lot of progressives have lauded Pope Francis for not following his predecessors by directly attacking queer people in speeches, and for two vague statements that sound suspiciously like a PR exercise to win over some more left-wing types (and it totally worked! Good plan Ocean’s eHeaven).
But this is setting the bar far too low. We deserve better. The leader of an organisation that has been responsible for generations of systemic homophobia and transphobia shouldn’t be showered with accolades simply for making a semi-humane comment about queer people. (My emphasis)

Australian writer-comedian Rebecca Shaw (who identifies as lesbian) argues we need to look at the actual changes of the Catholic Church rather than simply applauding empty platitudes by the Pope. So far, the Church remains negligent on upholding the human rights of LGBTQI people. The article is worth reading in full on SBS News. 
Photo: Perhaps Magazine via Flickr. High-res

Yes, the Pope influences millions of Catholics. And yes, he should be praised for making a change, if and when he actually makes that change.

This is not that time. He did not change the doctrine, he has not changed his stance on supporting the Church’s teachings, and he is excommunicating a pro-gay Australian priest for supporting women in becoming ordained. And now, since The Advocate award, it has been reported that he is ‘shocked’ by the thought of civil unions and gay adoption - news that isn’t shocking to me at all.

The Advocate and a lot of progressives have lauded Pope Francis for not following his predecessors by directly attacking queer people in speeches, and for two vague statements that sound suspiciously like a PR exercise to win over some more left-wing types (and it totally worked! Good plan Ocean’s eHeaven).

But this is setting the bar far too low. We deserve better. The leader of an organisation that has been responsible for generations of systemic homophobia and transphobia shouldn’t be showered with accolades simply for making a semi-humane comment about queer people. (My emphasis)

Australian writer-comedian Rebecca Shaw (who identifies as lesbian) argues we need to look at the actual changes of the Catholic Church rather than simply applauding empty platitudes by the Pope. So far, the Church remains negligent on upholding the human rights of LGBTQI people. The article is worth reading in full on SBS News. 

Photo: Perhaps Magazine via Flickr.

Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi says fellow Liberal Malcolm Turnbull should stop speaking in support of gay marriage. Bernardi is a right wing Christian who last year linked bestiality with homosexuality. Bernadi says gay marriage is a “fringe issue” for the party. Turnbull has been critical of Australia’s laws which prohibit same gender marriage, but he stops short of co-sponsoring deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek’s gay marriage bill. 

Via SBS News.

The Hon Michael Kirby speaks about the need for Australia to contribute towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights on a global scale. Kirby is now working with The Kaleidoscope Trust, a not-for-profit international organisation fighting against LGBTQI human rights abuses. Kirby will contribute to law reform on LGBTQI issues in the Asia-Pacific.

Commonwealth nations have some of the most oppressive and homophobic laws in the world. Kirby argues that Australia must be a leader in our region by improving our laws and by taking an active role to challenge injustice around the world.

Kirby is the former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996 to 2009). He publicly identified himself as gay in 1999 and has campaigned actively about the human rights of LGBTQI Australians. He was awarded a human rights medal in 1991. In May this year, he was appointed to lead an United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea.

Same sex marriages have been talking place in the Australian Capital Territory,  the first Australian state or territory to legalise non-heterosexual marriage. This new law had been contentious and it is being challenged by the federal Government led by the ultra  conservative Liberal Party. This coming Thursday The High Court of Australia will decide whether this new state law is constitutional so the law is currently precarious.

How to Make Your LGBTQ Survey/Documents Trans- and Intersex-Inclusive

xxboy:

Researchers, take note.

It is incredibly disappointing (not to mention invalidating and possibly dysphoria-inducing) for a trans* or intersex person to voluntarily begin a survey being advertised to the LGBT or LGBTQI+ community only to have their identity/identities not represented. And this happens ALL the time.

Fortunately, there are actually really easy ways that people constructing and promoting these surveys can avoid this! And if you don’t do LGBTQI+-specific research, most of these rules, specifically those tackling demographic questionnaires, will still be relevant to you!

  1. Use the term “sex assigned at birth” instead of sex. Asking someone their sex, even with “biological” as a qualifier, is pretty loaded and unclear for someone whose biological sex characteristics have changed (due to hormone replacement therapy, for example) or for intersex individuals whose biological traits don’t fall into our limited sex categories. Asking for sex assigned at birth is a way to be affirming of people’s gender and sex identities while still gathering the data we use to categorize people (which is worth of a post of its own). (If your study only includes people from the US, your options can be male or female only, as these are the only sexes legally allowed on birth certificates -if your study is international, however, you will need to include at least a third option.)
  2. Include gender as a separate question. Not only is this going to be affirming because it acknowledges that it is possible and not abnormal to have a gender that is different from your sex assigned at birth, it’s going to give you better data. Studies often say “males were more likely to blah blah than females,” and I always wonder if that finding holds for people who were assigned male at birth vs. people who were assigned female at birth or if the finding actually represents differences between people living as men and people living as women. And of course, that leads to a question of where people who do not identify as men or women fit or intersex individuals whose assigned sex means nada about their biological traits. (Again, that will be another post.)
  3. State how you are defining gender and sex (assigned at birth if you follow rule #1). Be clear. And when you are defining these, use language that is inclusive and validating. I think a good way to set this up is something like the following: “Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of being a woman, a man, both, or neither. This often corresponds with their public role (e.g., living as a woman), and may or may not match their sex assigned at birth, which is the sex label given to an infant and listed on their birth certificate.” It can be helpful to provide examples, but if you decide to do this always provide inclusive examples, so: “If you are a transgender woman, you may have a gender identity of female and a sex assigned at birth of male. If you are a non-transgender woman, you may have a gender identity of female and a sex assigned at birth of female.”
  4. Give people options beyond male and female. There should never be a drop down menu for gender that only includes two categories. Never ever. It’s inaccurate, will result in misrepresenting your sample (read: is BAD SCIENCE), will be invalidating to a whole host of individuals, and will likely cause trans* people to stop participating in your study and probably turn them off future research studies - which is a major loss for the whole research community! A good way to be inclusive is to allow for a write-in for gender/gender identity. You can either code these into predetermined categories (not just two, though!) or you can also ask participants to select a listed identity that is closest to their own. I have included non-binary as my third option - I think it is more normalizing than “other.”
  5. Make sure you actually want to study trans* and/or intersex people! (Note that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories but also not necessarily mutually inclusive, either.) If you are studying sexual minority-related issues, chances are that the T and/or I that you’re including in your acronym (e.g., “LGBT study”) is out of place. You should still make sure your demographics questions are inclusive because trans* and intersex people can belong to sexual minority groups, too, but don’t include trans* or intersex in your titling or advertising of the study if you aren’t specifically studying issues of trans* people or intersex, mmkay?
  6. If you are only studying binary-identified participants, say so! I get it, y’all. I do research. We need categories. Is this a downside to quantitative research? Absolutely. But it’s somewhat of a reality, especially if you want to get published. Sexuality research is tough because so much of it rests on labels that depend on binary gender categories. For example, “same-sex,” which usually means same-gender, is tricky when you have someone who is non-binary-identified. But rather than just not including options that reflect these sexualities or identities, state in your inclusion criteria that you are interested in people with binary gender identities. Nothing is more invalidating than having your identity unacknowledged as an option.

If anyone reading this thinks I’m leaving something off, please reply/repost or message me and I’ll update it. I’m thinking this will be a living document kind of blog post.

motherjones:

cognitivedissonance:

From Jezebel:

Back in August, during a Springfield City Council public hearing on amending the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, Rev. Phil Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church lashed out at the council for “inviting the judgement of God upon our land” by making “special rights for gays and lesbians.”

He goes on to invoke the bible and morality and the end of days a few more times before suddenly appearing to lose his train of thought.

And then something pretty amazing happens.

You HAVE to watch until about the two-minute mark. Let me put this in picture form for you:

image

Seriously, watch the whole thing. Good payoff.

This entertaining video was really popular last year. Although seemingly clever, it draws on a problematic comparison between same-sex marriage discrimination in the present day and racial segregation laws that were firmly in place in the USA until the civil rights movement in the 1960s (as well as in South Africa, Australia and around the world). This comparison between gay marriage and racial segregation has become increasingly common amongst well-meaning activists in the USA, including in litigation cases before the courts.

The link between racial segregation and gay marriage has also been evoked elsewhere, such as in the UK, with activists and academics arguing that not allowing gay marriage is similar to racist policies of the 1960s. This race-sexual discrimination argument is usually made by White activists who aim to illuminate the similar struggles of inequality faced by all minority groups.

Racial segregation and gay marriage might be similarly categorised within the rubric of human rights issues that everyone should be invested in protecting. The problem with drawing a direct link between both issues is that this ignores the distinct historical relations that different minority groups have faced over time, and it also obliterates the legal intricacies of racial, sexual and gender discriminations. Equating racial segregation to gay marriage also ignores the complex interconnections of discrimination as they are lived by different subgroups.

Segregation can be imposed by governments through formal policies and institutional practices or it can be the outcome of of informal processes. Formal segregation is enshrined in exclusionary laws that force some groups to be socially and economically separate from the majority. It is also enforced by powerful socio-economic agents, such as banks that won’t give loans or credit to racial minorities or workplaces that exclusively hire people from dominant groups. Segregation can occur through everyday “unconscious” choices, such as by having close friendships with people from the same group at school and at work, or by living in neighbourhoods with people who are from the same socio-economic background. Racial segregation is one of the most pervasive forms of segregation, as its continued effects amongst Black people and other racial minority groups is pervasive.

The legal oppression of LGBTQI limits their legal rights explicitly in the realm of family life and through social processes that reproduce the otherness of LGBTQI people. I’ve written previously that the issue of gay marriage is a violation of human rights, but making an unqualified connection to racial segregation does no cause justice. Nevertheless, this comparison is worth exploring because it is becoming so commonplace.

Racial segregation laws excluded Black Americans from all spheres of public life by physically, economically and legally separating them from White people, including everything from drinking areas, official buildings, pools, and public transport. These laws prevented Blacks from attending certain schools and from holding particular jobs and from fully participating in civil life. In short, racial segregation made it legal to formally discriminate against Black people in every social institution.

The effects of racial segregation continue today. Urban areas where Black people are residentially concentrated are overpopulated, poorly serviced and high taxes are redistributed in socially dysfunctional ways. Social disadvantage impacts on violence experienced by Black Americans in a way that is not the case for White people. In short, state policies that discriminated against Black people have resulted in an underclass that is pervasively disadvantaged economically, socially and residentially. The social effects of racial segregation has resulted in higher welfare dependence by single-parent Black families, poor educational facilities in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of Black people  poor access to quality housing and higher rates of unemployment. Black people who lived through racial segregation face significant health problems.

In Australia, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families, because the State saw that Indigenous women were sexual savages incapable of looking after children. These children were raised in isolated institutions, deprived of their cultural heritage and forced to forget their spirituality and convert to Christianity. Policies enforced racial segregation with the explicit aim of cultural genocide.

Gay marriage is one of the most visible issues that show how LGBTQI communities are excluded from the rest of society. LGBTQI people continue to face hatred, violence and social disadvantages that heterosexual people as a group do not have to worry about. Marriage is constructed as normal, biologically functional and “right” between heterosexual men and women; gay marriage is positioned as a threat to the institution of family and therefore the established social order.

Aren’t all forms of discrimination equally negative? Isn’t it important to draw comparisons in solidarity of minority rights? Yes, of course, but not at the expense of recognising that the effects of different forms of discrimination have different outcomes for different groups. 

Racial segregation exemplifies a system of discrimination that legally marked Black Americans as second-class citizens. Exclusionary present-day marriage laws discriminate against LGBTQI by not recognising that non-heterosexual people have the same legal right to fully participate in marriage and family. Nevertheless anti-gay marriage laws do not prevent LGBTQI people from participating in all spheres of public life. discriminating against people because of their sexuality is now against the law. The law does, however, discriminate against LGBTQI people in marriage, adoption. Informal processes of sexual discrimination are pervasive and require social activism and further policy intervention, but the law has not formally enforced gay-only spaces that physically segregates their inclusion in public life. This is an important distinction to understand. There are other important distinctions to understand with the gay rights movement. 

The concept of intersectionality is used to highlight how racial, sexual and gender discrimination historically affect minorities in different ways.

The video above is clever in showing the similarities in the discourses used to justify racial and sexual inequalities; that is, how do patterns of speech normalise the balance of power to some groups over others? I see that it the video is even better when considered as a way to explore the concept of intersectionality and social activism.