Safety…

I still don’t know why I clicked play. It was several years ago, when Russia was hosting the Winter Olympics and people wanted to get the word out on how bad Russia was to it’s LGBTQ citizens. Someone made a video compiled of the videos homophobic people made. LGBTQ people had no protections so abusers felt they could do anything and record it for further “enjoyment”. One young man was handed a bottle and told to insert it into his anus. He begged for mercy. It was denied. I can still hear his screams.

Then videos surfaced, in the Middle East, of gay men being thrown off buildings. And the public hangings continued in Saudi Arabia. And a friend of mine is gender fluid but she can’t let anyone know in her country.

I’ve watched the battle for equal marriage in the States become a success… and the struggle for trans rights stagnate. Some wins… some losses. The transphobic side is downright scary. When an elementary school girl wanted to use the girl’s bathroom the school chatroom quickly devolved with people calling her a “half baked maggot”  and “it” then bragging over which one of their sons was going to beat her up. Her family quickly moved.

Then there’s Uganda with it’s virulent homophobic atmosphere. It’s pretty much illegal to be LGBTQ, as if people have control over their sexual orientation.

Poland has declared 1/3 of the country to be LGBTQ free. Of course everyone knows that’s not the case. It’s not like the LGBTQ community dissolves when a law like that is passed, we’re simply forced into hiding. What’s going to happen to all the LGBTQ adults? What’s going to happen to the kids who are slowly realizing they’re not straight or cis? I’m betting Poland’s going to see a spike in their suicide rates soon. The question is will they care?

The States pretty much said “hold my beer” as Greenville County, South Carolina tried to remove a resolution passed in 1996 with the opposers stating ‘that lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policy makers, because they are incompatible with the standards to which this community subscribes’. They didn’t have enough people there to pass the vote so it’s been moved. Now one of the councilors wants the whole county to vote on it in a resolution in November. Nothing like having your human rights put to a vote while people debate on whether you’re harmful to children.

Closer to home there’s the Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, who wanted parents to be aware if their child joined the Gay-Straight Alliance, despite the fact that 40% of homeless youths are part of the LGBTQ community, a hugely disproportionate amount. What he proposed wasn’t safe for the children in those groups but he plowed on with it anyway. It passed.

When Kathleen Wynne was the premier of Ontario, she decided sex education needed a huge overhaul and worked with parents and educators to create a plan more suited for today’s society. It also included age appropriate discussions on LGBTQ people and people freaked out. They acted like their kindergarteners were going to learn about gay sex when all they were doing was learning the names of body parts and reading books like Heather Has Two Mommies. There were protests but Wynne refused to budge. All children needed comprehensive sex ed. Then there was an election and Doug Ford won. One of the first things he did when he entered the office was reverse the sex ed programme back to the 90’s version. Back to the one which had no mention of the LGBTQ community or sexting or the internet. Anything to keep children from hearing about the queers.

And now there are evangelical Christians blaming the LGBTQ community for the coronavirus. Pastors such as Steven Andrew are saying things like:

“God’s love shows it is urgent to repent because the Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies,” the minister said in a video posted to YouTube.

“Our safety is at stake since national disobedience of God’s laws brings danger and diseases, such as coronavirus, but obeying God brings covenant protection… God protects the USA from danger as the country repents of LGBT, false gods, abortion and other sins.”

My son Colin backed away from being trans and transitioning a couple of years ago ostensibly because of fertility reasons, the hormones are more likely than not going to cause sterility and he wants biological children. So Emma and the she/her pronouns went back in the closet. But that wasn’t the only reason. Every single time we headed out Colin/Emma fretted about what clothes to wear… terrified of being attacked at the bus stop. I promised I’d fight the attackers but he didn’t have much faith in my middle aged 5ft 3in self.

Where is our safety? These laws are supposedly for protection from the LGBTQ community, even though we aren’t harming anything and only ask for equal rights. That apparently doesn’t matter. And, for every win, such as equal marriage and repeals of conversion therapy, there’s a loss, a rollback of rights. I wear a rainbow scarf given to me by my ex Lenny and a rainbow cat pin from my friend Jen and wear both with pride. I still worry about attracting negative attention although thankfully I haven’t received any.

Maybe someday we’ll all be considered equal but not today. Not tomorrow either.

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Me with my rainbow pin and scarf

 

It’s not natural…

My alarm went off at 5:45am this morning and Jeremy bounced out of zir bed a few seconds later. Zie was awake all night again and had been watching videos on zir smart phone. I turned off my alarm then synched my Fitbit with my phone. Jeremy surprised me by making my breakfast. Hot chocolate (made with cocoa beans farmed halfway across the world) and an english muffin topped with peanut butter… all previously delivered to our 24 hour supermarket by train, plane, and truck.

I had a quick shower, using our wonderful indoor plumbing, then pulled on my work uniform before running out the door to catch the first of my two buses. The sun was just peeking over the nearby mall, bathing the field beside me with light, causing the dew to glisten. My bus hadn’t arrived so I set my phone’s camera onto macro, turned on the flash, and snapped a couple of shots… sending the best one to Instagram before messaging my best friend L and Jeremy. I also chucked it onto Facebook for my friends to see. Karen and my Mom have already liked it.

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I chatted with L while I was on the bus. Zie lives halfway across the world but, thanks to Facebook Messenger and our smart phones, we can chat instantaneously. Then, when I got to work, I reversed the camera on my phone and took a photo of my coworkers and I waving good morning to Jeremy, who was in another city entirely. Zie saw it a few seconds later.

Okay, my life’s boring. It’s also not natural. I live in a freaking high rise, looking off my balcony to see the tops of the nearby trees, our local mall, and a collection of big box stores. Oh and a lot of little airplanes. I’m typing this on a netbook which I can unplug and carry just about anywhere. We have hot and cold running water in the kitchen and the bathroom, even though we live nowhere near the ground, and I currently have vegan “meat” in my freezer (so yummy and so not natural).

You know what’s natural? Love. Love is natural. Look at animals collecting in groups all over the world to cuddle and groom each other. Look at them separating into pairs… some of them with the same sex. I’m reasonably sure they didn’t pick the idea up from liberal sex education programs.

Gender roles aren’t natural. Some animals have sex specific instincts for mating rituals and child rearing but they vary from species to species. Blackie doesn’t worry about her tummy fat. Angel doesn’t worry that she spreads her legs too wide while grooming. Oreo doesn’t worry that his voice is a bit high pitched. And I have yet to see any of them express concern about Jeremy in a dress. They really don’t care as long as zie feeds them (and scratches their neck in that spot just below the ear).

Pizza rolls aren’t natural either but they’re pizza and gooey. Mmm… pizza!

But seriously, if someone wants to complain about love and gender being unnatural, I don’t think they should be using anything unnatural to share that information. They need to go somewhere completely natural and scratch their message out in dirt with a stick. That will get their point across nicely.

Love Wins

Dear Don Plett

I read a letter you wrote to a member of a parenting group I belong to regarding Bill C-279. You seem very concerned about women who don’t want to share change rooms with trans women and one lone woman on a Native reserve who doesn’t want trans women (who are escaping assault and trauma) in the shelter she’s running. There are a few other people I’d like you to be concerned about.

I’d like to introduce you to my 17 year old child Jeremy, who is transgender and identifies as both male and female (also known as bi-gender). Jeremy uses the pronouns zie and zir. Zie replaces he/she while zir replaces him/his/her.

Jeremy is an amazing kid. Zie loves computers and electronics. I just watched as zie set up a webcam on our guinea pig’s cage and connected it remotely to zir cellphone so zie can check up on our piggy during lunch at school. Jeremy also set up our new printer a few days ago and connected it wirelessly to our computers and cellphones. I don’t know when I’ll ever need to print a document from my phone but if I do, Jeremy’s made sure it’s ready for me. Jeremy’s a huge Doctor Who fan and zir favourite colour is purple. Zie’s a kind child who always remembers to give me a hug before I leave to work in the morning.

I want Jeremy to grow up in a country where zie, and other trans youths, are supported and protected. Transgender people face extreme amounts of discrimination. They have high unemployment rates due to prejudice, struggle to find housing, face staggering amounts of verbal and physical abuse, and have correspondingly high suicide rates.

Last year I used to send my child off to a group for LGBTQ youths. Each night I’d sit by my phone hoping zie wouldn’t get beaten up on the way home. That’s not a worry this year simply because zie’s too scared to go out anywhere on zir own. Jeremy’s entire social life consists of going shopping with me.

Picture going shopping with your child and seeing person after person not just staring but continuing to stare after they’ve walked past, turning their heads back to continue looking. Picture standing in the line at the cash register as the person in front of you spins around away from the cashier to stare in blatant shock. You turn to realize they’re staring, open mouthed, at your child and continue staring for several minutes. Picture taking a quiet walk with your youth to the local greenspace while people scream obscenities out their car windows at your teenager. Picture walking home from the store while a couple of grown men laugh and point at your child, pretending to run away. The reality is there’s nothing Jeremy’s doing to stand out. All of Jeremy’s clothes are from the mens department and, while zir hair is just a bit below shoulder length, it’s not unusually long for someone who’s biologically male. Zie simply and naturally looks both male and female. Zie can’t try to fit in.

Jeremy had kids approaching zir in the boy’s bathroom in primary school, wanting to see zir privates to make sure zie had a penis. Zie had children harassing zir at 7 years old in the school yard, telling other kids not to play with Jeremy because zie was a he/she. And when Jeremy was around 8 or 9 years old we had an adult neighbour gather a group of local children and teach them to call zir “faggot” and throw pine cones at zir. We managed to get her evicted but what she taught lingered.

While you don’t come right out and say it, I get the feeling your biggest concern is sexual predators. You never mention trans men using male change rooms and washrooms, instead you focus on trans women in female change rooms and washrooms, as if all trans women are predators. The reality is they are no more likely to be predators than anyone else. We have laws to deal with predatory cisgender woman who want to sexually assault other women. Those same laws would deal with predatory trans woman and both incidents would be shocking simply because of how rarely they occur. If our sexual assault laws are weak then continue to work to strengthen them. Don’t strip a bill that’s designed to give some of the more vulnerable members of our country equal rights.

This bill also protects innocent children who are trans. These children look and act like the gender they identify with and they want nothing more than to be treated the same as their peers. Being able to use the same washroom and join the same team as their friends not only helps them emotionally but protects them as well. A young child who looks and identifies as female does not fare well in a male washroom.

Yes, some transgender people are gender fluid and some may indeed use one change room or washroom one day and the opposite the following day. This wouldn’t be for any nefarious reason but simply to use the washroom they felt safer in. I’ve talked to people who will not use the washroom for hours on end because they’re scared of the reaction they’ll face no matter which bathroom they try to enter. We, as a society, need to stop worrying so much about who’s in the bathroom with us and let people simply relieve themselves in peace. More single stall gender neutral washrooms would be a help as well.

You have a chance right now to protect truly marginalized people. You have a chance to allow people equal rights and the ability to simply be themselves. Please help keep all our children safe. Please give my transgender child a safe Canada to grow up in and let bill C-279 pass.

Thank you,

Michelle
(address and phone number redacted)