Tag: transgender

Why I disagree with gender neutral parenting

Gender

Gender neutral parenting was in the press recently. More specifically, the press reported that Harry and Meghan, aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are planning to raise their child gender neutral.

Of course this very probably isn’t what they’ve said at all. I’m sure they’ve said that they will raise their child without traditional gender constructs, which is what parents with any common sense do anyway. You know the thing – if they have a son and he wants to play with dolls that’s fine, and if their baby is a girl who wants to play with cars that’s also fine. That’s not gender neutral parenting at all. That’s just being a good parent. And a modern parent. Both of which Harry and Meghan are able to be, despite the fact that they’re royals.

He or she?

Gender neutral parenting is raising your child without acknowledging their gender. Not calling them he or she. Not referring to them as a boy or a girl. Allowing them to find their own way and decide on their gender as they grow up and experience life

Now I am neither a parent or ever have the intention of being one (regardless of the suggestions I mentioned in my last post!) so you may think my opinion is a moot one. That said, this is my blog and I pretty much have an opinion on everything, ergo I’ll proceed.

Bonkers

In a nutshell, I think that gender neutral parenting is absolutely bonkers. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I have no issue with gender fluidity or changing gender. I very recently posted about an enlightening and heartwarming transgender documentary I’ve been watching. If you haven’t been following then let me make this statement – I very much believe that people can be and are born in the wrong body, and that they should be entitled to treatment to correct biology’s mistake. Science says it’s real, the experiences of actual humans say it’s real, and so, for me, it’s real.

But I’ll say it again, gender neutral parenting is, in my opinion, bonkers.

How are you supposed to know what you are, or more specifically what you aren’t, if you’re brought up without an identity? Surely transgender women know that they’re women, because they’ve been raised as a boy and know that doesn’t “fit”. And vice-versa, obviously. If you’re raised as “they” then what do you rebel against? You have nothing to identify with, and therefore nothing to compare yourself against, surely?

Special treatment

Imagine sending a child to nursery or childcare, and insisting they do not be referred to as he or she. Immediately you’re setting them apart as different; as deserving of special treatment. They get called a different pronoun to any of the other children, and the other children maybe want to know why? What toilet arrangements are made for them? Because, like it or not, male and female toilets are still a thing in life. Not everywhere, of course. But if a young child comes across male toilets and female toilets and no “they” toilet, what is that telling them? Isn’t that stripping them of an identity? Making them, from a young age, into something that doesn’t always exist?

The difference between adults and children

Gender neutral adults can handle situations like this – they’ve been around long enough to know that we live in a gendered society (even if they don’t agree with it). But young children don’t have that understanding. Why would you choose to set your child apart in such a way?

I’m no expert, obvs. Some would argue that starting with gender neutral parenting is the way to achieve a gender neutral society in the future. But, for now, I can’t help but think some parents are trying too hard to do the right thing, and in doing so they’re doing something very wrong.

Your child is born a girl or a boy. If at some point they tell you they’re the opposite of their assigned birth gender, listen to them. Support them. Be there for them. If they tell you they are neither male or female then the same applies.

That’s good parenting.

Gender issues

In the meantime, if your son wants to play with dolls and has a toy cooker, that doesn’t mean he has gender issues. If your daughter tells you she wants to be Superman instead of Superwoman, that doesn’t mean she’s transgender.

In trying to do the right thing, parents are going too far. They’re creating something that doesn’t need to exist at birth. Experience and research shows that children who are transgender will begin to self identify at a young age, regardless of what they have been labelled as in early months and years. Jazz Jennings is perhaps the most prevalent case of a boy knowing they’re a girl. Thankfully Jazz’s parents listened to her. Would gender neutral parenting from birth have helped? Who knows.

All I know is that if and when my nephew (due July this year) wants to try on my shoes, I’ll be right there suggesting the ones that look best with his outfit! Experiencing different things, with no restrictions because of what society might think is appropriate for your gender, is the best way to become a well rounded person.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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The Making of Me on Channel 4

If you’ve seen The Making of Me it needs no introduction. If you haven’t, here’s a precis. The 3 episodes follow 9 transgender individuals in their journey from man to woman, woman to man, or in one case woman to non-binary.

There’s no way I can think of to phrase this without it sounding condescending, so I’m just going to come right out with it and hope anyone reading doesn’t misconstrue what I’m saying. I find the whole concept of transgender fascinating. I find transgender people fascinating. And that’s not in a rude way, at all. I can’t emphasise that enough. I don’t look at people with gender issues as freaks, or weird, or anything negative at all. I just find it incredible that a person can be born into a gender and realise that it’s completely wrong.

Maybe that’s why transgender people get such a bad rap. The average person on the street can’t comprehend not being who they are. Most men have never thought about wearing a dress, much less hating their penis to the point of feeling like an alien in their own body. Most women can’t imagine wishing they didn’t have breasts to the point of wanting them surgically removed.

It’s an alien feeling to most people

That doesn’t make it an unreal feeling though.

I’m a great believer that if science says something is real, then it’s real. I’m an atheist who doesn’t believe in god. I trust that the moon landings happened, and I know that the Earth isn’t flat (if you think that, then stop reading now).

So the fact that science says people can be born in the wrong body, is fact for me.

What harm is it doing anyone else?

Back to the TV program. It’s wonderfully done. Sensitively filmed. There are no gratuitous surgery or genital shots. The focus is very much on real people with real feelings. How they feel at the beginning of the process, and how they feel at the end.

Cairo – female to male transgender; previously a very attractive female model – proof that “being pretty” doesn’t make you a woman.

Andrew – female to male transgender who couldn’t wait to get a mastectomy to remove his breasts.

Karen – male to female transgender who felt so strongly about being born in the wrong body that they were willing to put their professional career on the line.

And that, for me, is the crux of all this. Being transgender isn’t easy. It’s probably the most difficult thing any of these individuals have ever done. They risk being ostracised by their family, friends and work colleagues. And yet it’s still worth it. If that doesn’t tell you that trans is real, then I don’t know what will.

Imagine everything you hold dear in life

Your career. Your partner. Your children. Then imagine telling them something that might make them turn against you. Would you risk it? Could you risk it?

In episode 2, Pete comes out to his wife as trans. She’s filmed as saying that “transitioning is very selfish”. Is it though? Isn’t it more selfish to insist that someone live a lie to satisfy the image you have of your life and future?

I don’t know. You could argue that they should never have entered into a marriage if they weren’t the person they purported to be. But, for people transitioning later in life, today’s more open, more accepting society is their chance to be who they are. And don’t we all deserve that?

For anyone who doesn’t believe in, or doesn’t agree with, people transitioning into the gender they should have been born in, I leave you with this. Jackie, previously Simon, who signs off episode one with “I can just be me all the time. I can be happy.”

And the smile of every one of the 9 brave people who took part in this filming. Compare their before and after smiles. Compare their stance and their eyes. Look at how they hold themselves.

Then tell me that transgenderism is wrong.

Go on…I dare you.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Friday Feeling [25] – watch out for karma!

With all the bullshit political stuff going on in the US right now (and by that, I obviously mean Trump) it’s good to know that the American voting public don’t always get it wrong.

Virginia

Towards the end of last year, openly homophobic US State Official Robert Marshall was ousted from his position after 13 terms. Marshall had proudly called himself Virginia’s chief homophobe, and tried to introduce a bathroom bill which discriminated against transgender people by making them use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth, not that which they associate with now (you can read my thoughts on the logistics of that here).

Thanks then to that bitch karma; not only for ending his reign, but for replacing him with an openly transgender candidate. Yup, Marshall was beaten by Danica Roem, who was born male but transitioned to female. She has made history by becoming the first openly transgender elected and seated in a US state legislature.

Good work, Virginians!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Lies, damn lies and politics – Donald Trump is at it again

Donald Trump, 2016 election campaign: “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you…”

Donald Trump, July 2017: “…the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. [It] cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

I mean, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a politician told lies to get elected, but this is a pretty huge deal and a downright disgrace.

It’s difficult to tell, these days, whether Trump:

a) realises he’s out of his depth and is making wild decisions in the hope that he’ll get impeached

b) hates Obama so much that he’s just trying to repeal as much as possible that was passed under his Presidency

c) really is just an absolutely bonkers, narcissistic misogynist who hates anyone that isn’t like him, and belongs back in the dark ages

I could go on and on about why this is a bad decision. About how transgender people have as much right to serve in the military as people born in their correct gender. About how the training and selection process to get admitted to the military is so tough that what really counts is your physical and mental strength and resilience. About how I’m sure Trump wouldn’t care about the gender orientation of any member of the military were they protecting him from an assassination attempt (how come no-one’s tried that yet, by the way?)

I could point out that transgender people aren’t a burden to anyone; that the burden they carry is being born in the wrong body and that they’re more of a danger to themselves if they have to stay in that body, and more of an asset to society if they can be who they truly are. I could point out that anyone who has the heart and soul to defend their country and put their life on the line should be welcomed with open arms, regardless of what is or isn’t between their legs or on their birth certificate. I could point out that this is 2017 and America is supposed to be a progressive country, as well as being the land of the free.

But I won’t. Because most sane and rational people know that, right? And if you’re reading this blog you too must be a sane and rational person! šŸ˜‰

I’ll just leave you with this, from Twitter, instead.

James Corden tweet

Which I thought was so brilliant in it’s delivery, as well as being so powerful coming from a celebrity with a lot of followers and therefore a degree of influence (not enough influenceĀ to topple the hairy tangerine, unfortunately).

Bravo James Corden, bravo. And a big fat raspberry to President Fart, followed up with a punch on the nose.

TransgenderĀ people – know that many of us in the world stand with you, and we admire your strength against adversity; today and everyday.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Feelgood Friday [1] – be yourself, whatever your age

With there being such a lot of misery, horror and nastiness in the world right now, it can sometimes be difficult to see good things. So I thought I’d start a new mini series of nice stories that make me go all warm and fuzzy inside, and I’ll be sharing them on Fridays.

This week’s pick is this story about a 90 year old transgender lady who has only just recently come out after living a lie for most of her life.

She says she knew she felt like a girl from the age of 3, but in those days being transgender wasn’t a recognised condition and the word didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until the 1970s that she heard the term and finally had something to relate to.

The two bits of this story that give me the feels are:

  • That her wife knew her “secret” and would buy her jewellery and dresses, and treat her as a woman when they were at home.
  • That she’s finally getting hormone treatment enabling her to have the body that matches her mind, even at her advanced age. God bless the NHS for not discriminating based on how old she is, and for giving her a chance at the life she craved for all those years.

Just look how happy she is!

90 year old transgender lady

Lovely stuff.

Have you seen anything that’s made your heart happy this week? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Transgender children are not degenerate perverts!

Donald Trump has created yet another hoo-ha; no surprise there. The targets of his bullying tactics, as usual, a minority group who need protecting rather than denigrating.

But then again, this is Donald Trump.

By undoing President Obama’s bill allowing transgender people to use the gender bathroom with which they identify, Trump knows he’s condemning a portion of society in certain states to a life of being ostracised, outcast and embarrassed. Or, more accurately, that’s more ostracised, outcast and embarrassed than they already are. He knows that there are states that will relish the opportunity to once again impose a transgender bathroom ban, so that kids who are already tormented by their feelings, hormones and emotions will once again be constrained by what’s in their underwear rather than what’s in their brain.

rainbow-painted-childrens-hands

My main issue with this is the arguments that are put forward for segregation. Parents who don’t want their daughter/son being preyed upon by a transgender person.

For god’s sake!

Do people really genuinely think that a young boy would go to the trouble of living life as a girl, looking like a girl, identifying as a girl, being teased and bullied and vilified for wanting to be a girl just so that they can prey on “real” girls? Or that a girl would act like a boy, walk like a boy and talk like a boy in order to use the boys toilet? Not even the same cubicle, just the same room! Really? I’d love for these people to say it out loud and realise just how ridiculous that sounds as an argument.

We’re not talking about young boys in dresses and make up trying to look like girls here. Or teenage girls binding their breasts to hide their femininity. We’re talking about kids born in the wrong body. Kids for who everyday might be a struggle, and who really don’t need to be made to feel different for something as simple as taking a pee.

Transgender kids aren’t seeking attention, special treatment or a look inside the other kids pants. They’re seeking acceptance, recognition and understanding of a proven condition.

There seems to be way too much concern from other people about what goes on below the waist, rather than what goes on inside the head. A penis does not make you a boy. It might make you look like one, but it doesn’t make your brain feel like one.

And, for the most part, transgender kids do a really great job of looking like the gender they identify with, so isn’t it going to be more weird for a female to male trans kid – who looks every inch a boy – to go into the girls toilets? Isn’t that going to cause more alarm?

Oh, and one more thing. People who blame parents of transgender children for “making them that way”. What would you do? Imagine your young boy is threatening to cut his penis off with scissors? Imagine your young daughter is crying hysterically and asking when her boy parts will grow? What would you do? This isn’t a Mom who wanted a girl instead of a boy. Or the opposite. This is fucked up biology.

I’m tired of people of all ages, races and genders butting in to things that don’t really affect them. Making a big deal out of trivial things when there are way bigger fish to fry. Me? I couldn’t care who has what in their pants! If I need a wee, I need a wee! I’ll go into the toilet, shut the cubicle door, and do exactly what everyone else is in there to do, regardless of what hole it comes out of.

Still not convinced? Watch this video of Gavin and his 83 year old Nanna.

By her own admission she’s “learning”. But her acceptance is beautiful and a true example to anyone who ostracises a family member. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, skip to 4 minutesĀ 40 seconds. If only all transgender people had an Elaine in their life (she also chose Gavin’s name).

Proof, yet again, that love wins!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Religion and medicine don’t mix – and nor should they

It was with alarm that I read an article last week regarding a new ruling in the US, which grants medical professionals the right to refuse treatment based on “religious freedom”. Put simply, this means that doctors can refuse to treat a person who is transgender, or a woman who has had an abortion, because of their “beliefs”.

You can read the article here.

religion-and-medicine

(image from Medicine Today)

Quite frankly there is no room for such judgement in medicine. In fact there’s no room for such judgement in life, but bigots will be bigots and some Christians will wheel out the bits of the bible that back up their narrow minded beliefs, whilst ignoring the other bits that may see themselves acting against God’s will (yawn). The latter is a fight too big for anyone to win. But the former is absolutely appalling.

Imagine, perhaps, a woman who has been raped and aborted the resulting pregnancy. Tormented by the attack, potentially tormented by the abortion, and yet a doctor – who should be a trusted and trustworthy individual – can torment her further for a prior circumstantial decision?

Or, how about this, a woman who fell pregnant by mistake, didn’t want a child, and has no guilt about aborting a collection of cells that was unloved and unplanned. It happens, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Why should she be judged and refused healthcare or medical treatment in the future when, actually, she made the right decision in view of the amount of unwanted, mistreated children brought into the world, and the number of kids in children’s homes and care who will probably never be rehomed with a new family.

(sorry, this is turning into a pro-abortion rant which, whilst I feel very very strongly about it, is not the focus of this post. You can read more about my personal views on abortion hereĀ – the irony of the post title is not lost on me).

Think of a transgender person, born into the wrong body, living with the wrong identity and genitalia for however many years, hiding themselves for fear of judgement and perhaps being driven to the brink of suicide. Think of that person making the gender transformation and finally feeling free, feeling like the person they actually are, feeling like they can finally live. And then think of a doctor refusing to treat them purely on the grounds of their transition.

Too many people feel they have the right to interfere in decisions that don’t really affect them or their lives. Transgender people and women who’ve undergone abortions are too often ridiculed and vilified by the general public, especially in today’s social media world where everyone thinks they have the right to push their opinion on others. To have that ridicule and vilification reiterated by a medical professional is dangerous. It sends out completely the wrong message to everyone. It instigates a class system; a measure of worthiness to what should be a basic right for everyone in the world.

I see it like this – if you choose medicine as your profession then you deliver that service to everyone who needs it. You don’t get to pick and choose. It should be a vocation, and your priority should be to ensure that people who need medical help receive that medical help; regardless of what they may have done in the past. Because you are a doctor. You’re not God. You don’t get to decide, or judge, or devalue people. You make them better.

Unfortunately I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthcare in America. With Donald Trump about to be inaugurated, making him one of the most powerful people in the world (shudder at that thought, and the sheer ridiculousness that it has ever gotten to this point), there is no such thing as a safe future for anything that currently sits in the American constitution. He will lead by emotion and personal belief, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong for the country – the intention to repeal Obamacare is proof of that.

Buckle up Americans. Your future health is at risk, along with who knows what else.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Welcome to the world Caitlyn Jenner

It’s just 5 days since I posted about Bruce Jenner’s rumoured gender reassignment surgery, and I had no idea that Caitlyn would introduce herself to the world so soon. But she’s done so with style and grace. Wow. What an entrance.

Caitlyn Jenner

To anyone who “can’t deal” with the situation I’d say this. Chances are you’re never going to meet her, so it doesn’t really affect you. If you don’t like it, well tough, because it doesn’t really affect you. And also, for any other negative thoughts or comments, it doesn’t really affect you.

Live and let live.

A 65 year old man doesn’t go through invasive surgery, ridicule and potential isolation from his family and friends on a whim. Caitlyn is newly born and the rest of her life starts here. It’s just such a shame it took so long for her to be able to make the transition and become who she really is.

Kellie Maloney, former boxing promoter who was born Frank Maloney, went through the same process.

Kellie Maloney

Having previously retired from boxing, she’s now signed up two new fighters and will once again be involved in the sport. That’s a really positive step not only in her personal life, but also in challenging typical gender stereotypes in a male dominated sport. Kellie admits that she attempted suicide on more than one occasion, so to have come so far by being true to herself is proof that living a lie can only be toxic and hurtful.

This is a great article from The Guardian. Because yes, Caitlyn now looks like a woman. But in truth she has been a woman, albeit in her head, for a long time.

This is also a great article, because it answers so many of the stupid comments and questions that are out there – not only about Caitlyn but about all transgender people.

To paraphrase, don’t be a dick about the situation.

Sometimes in life it’s ok to be selfish. Living life in your true gender is one of those times.

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Transgender equality – Bruce Jenner and all that Jazz

So Bruce Jenner has undergone gender reassignment surgery. Fantastic news.

bruce_jenner_diane_sawyer_20_20_640

And I say that not as a fan of Bruce, or the Kardashians (seriously, who would even admit to that!) but as a fan of people living their life in a way that makes them happy. Yes, changing gender is probably as extreme as it gets. But if that’s what it takes then it’s no-one’s business apart from the person suffering.

And suffering must be exactly what it feels like. Living every day as a lie. Imagine, whatever gender you are and feel happy with, that someone makes you act out the opposite gender every day. So for me, as a woman (and perfectly 100% happy with that), if someone told me I had to dress as a man, and go to men’s toilets, and look like a man, and answer to a man’s name – it would destroy the hell out of me. It would strip me of my identity, of my true self, and feel like I was lying to the world and myself (which, of course, I would be).

I don’t understand why that’s so difficult for many people to understand. Our mind is what makes us who we are – not our body. Our body is just a vessel. And bodies sometimes don’t develop quite as they should. People are born with physical disabilities because of how they developed in the womb – would you tell those people that they’re wrong? That they have the body they “should” have? Of course not.

And so I believe it is with trans-gender people. Whenever you read their story, they always say they were born with the wrong body. Bearing in mind the difference between male and female during development is just the splitting of a chromosome, its not hard to comprehend. It’s not their mind that is in the wrong. It’s just their physical vessel.

There’s a lot of vitriol and trolling on social media and chat forums from people who are either so narrow minded that they can’t comprehend anything different from themselves, or people who are just looking for a rise. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference (the unfortunate thing about the anonymity of the internet is that it gives people a mask to hide behind, and that there are some weird people who enjoy being mean to others). Unnecessary, horrible, vile words – the likes of which I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. And I always think to myself, “imagine if it was you or someone in your family”.

Back to the celebrity side of things. Bruce Jenner is part of the very successful money making Kardashian brand, so a decision like this – going public – can’t have come easy. As an ex Olympian with grown up children – she’s lived the life of a “real man”. Her children are on TV. Her son-in-law is a rapper. These are all judgemental areas of life that she could jeopardise by finally being herself. But, however long it took her to get there, she obviously couldn’t live the lie anymore. And, based on news reports of how they’ve handled it (and this is something you will probably never hear me say again) I respect the Kardashians. Kim has been vocal about never having seen Bruce look happier, and how she will help her with styling. Even Kanye is reported to have been the one to help Kim come to terms with it (I still think that’s a PR stunt to make him look like less of a douche, but that’s another story). Kris has said Bruce is “her hero”. These are all beautiful reactions to a person that they love. Before all this, they might have had negative opinions of transgender people; not believing that it’s a mental issue, or even real. But, when faced with it, they have embraced Bruce as the person she is.

I know that people all over the world go through these kind of experiences day in day out, and don’t get the coverage or support or celebration that celebrities get. They may have to fight harder and longer to get a diagnosis, or treatment. But that doesn’t mean we should chastise the celebrities. In some ways it’s harder for them, as their struggle isn’t localised – it’s all over the media. Their every move, every look, every fashion choice is judged globally. Imagine the first time Bruce is seen, post-op, in women’s clothes. It will be everywhere.

I recently became aware, via the internet, of a little girl called Jazz Jennings.

150314140353-jazz-jennings-2013-exlarge-169

When Jazz was born, she was physically a boy. But from a very young age, Jazz identified as a girl. Her parents have supported her, not pigeonholing her into being a boy or girl, but letting her make her own choices. There’s even more controversy around transgender children, purely because many people say they’re too young to know their own mind, that they may change as they get older. Again I would say that a feeling – a knowledge – as strong as this isn’t “just a fad”. But of course there are rules in place around surgery and such like that are there to protect children and avoid any mistakes being made (I have to say I’ve never read a case where a child has identified with an opposite gender and then “changed back”).

Jazz is now growing up, in her teens, and is a very vocal activist for LGBT rights and for transgender children. She’s appeared on TV, co-wrote a book aimed at children to promote understanding and is to star in a reality show. Clean & Clear have featured her in an ad campaign – groundbreaking move by them, and so important in “normalising” transgender people.

Jazz and her family have put themselves out there to increase understanding and acceptance. They could have kept it under wraps, done it quietly, let Jazz have a normal girl’s life. But she felt so strongly about her rights, and the rights of others like her, that she’s out there making a difference. Campaigning for equality. They established the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, to support other children in Jazz’s position. She isn’t unique – there are thousands more like her. Unfortunately not all of them will have the same happy ending due to misinformation, stereotyping and lack of compassion.

It’s heartbreaking that, in the 21st century, people should still have to carry a title .

OrdinanceAgainstRainbowFlagDraftedinLouisianna070713

Who cares if you’re gay, straight, transgender? What it comes down to is this. We’re all on earth for a relatively short time. If happiness is within your grasp then you owe it to yourself to pursue it. The journey may be hard, but the result will be worth it.

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