Cartoonist Sophie Labelle tells the Trans Advocate of Neo-Nazi attacks

10887151_349427518572852_6878044040955739326_oMy favourite transgender cartoonist Sophie Labelle, creator of Assigned Male Comics and colouring books which challenge gender stereotypes and teach children that it is normal to be whoever they are, has made it to the Trans Advocate.

Sadly, it is because of the attacks that Sophie has suffered from transphobes, TERFs, and more recently Neo-Nazis.  I have personally seen some of the attacks the lovely Sophie has been subjected to, including death threats, and believe me they make me pale ~ and I don’t scare easily.  So how she keeps that pretty face smiling speaks volumes of the courage of this beautiful young lady.

Earlier this year her Facebook page was cloned by Neo-Nazis posting transphobic hate messages.

Assigned Male Comics surrounds the life of a little transgender girl, Stephie, who like all good cartoon characters, finds a special place in your heart where she will stay with you forever.

Link to the Trans Advocate article:

https://www.advocate.com/current-issue/2017/7/20/young-trans-artist-targeted-neo-nazis

UK Government to Overhaul Gender Recognition

GRC applicationBe better scrapping it altogether.

The UK government is to carry out a consultation on changing legal gender for transgender easier than the mess it currently is.

Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, those wishing to change legal gender have to undergo a lengthy bureaucratic and demeaning process to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and it is only once they have a GRC that they can change their gender on official documents.

To gain a GRC, a transgender person over 18 must

  • be diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria
  • have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender
  • prove that they intend to live permanently in an acquired gender

The applicant sends their application, along with supporting documentation – and a £140 fee, to the Gender Recognition Panel, based in Leicester, who then forward it to the actual panels of HM Courts & Tribunals Service, where civil servants deliberate over them and decide whether or not to grant the GRC.

Paper applications are usually accepted, although in exceptional cases an oral hearing can take place, which means the application having to make a trip to London, possibly staying overnight, and being interrogated by a cisgender panel.

Many transgender people don’t even bother to apply for a GRC, not only because of the bureaucracy, but because they see it as an unwelcome governmental intrusion into their private lives.

The Equalities Minister Justine Greening said that the government, having listened to activists, intends to set up a consultation upon the process in autumn. Proposals include removing the need for medical diagnosis of gender recognition, with transgender people being able to self-diagnose, as is the case in the Republic of Ireland, and scrapping the two-year transitioning period.

I can only say it’s not before bloody time, dears. The entire process of applying for a GRC, before a transgender person can even get a birth certificate with their ‘acquired’ gender upon it, is overtly bureaucratic, an unwelcome intrusion into private lives and costly for many.

The two-year transition puts young transgender people at a distinct disadvantage, as not only do they have to first be medically diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, they then have to live for two years under the gender they identify with, which means they will be at least 20 years old before they can even think of applying for a GRC. As I have pointed out before, this can lead to transgender young offenders being put in danger, when they are sent to prisons according to their assigned birth gender.

There is no mention however of doing away with the fee for a GRC. This puts transgender people in the lower income bracket completely at a disadvantage. Who can afford £140 for a GRC when they are struggling to make ends meet? How many poorer transgender people will even think of a GRC when their more pressing priority is getting a food bank referral? Where is this money going anyway, apart from into government coffers? As far as I can see the GRC is nothing short of a “Trans Tax”.

But another thought crosses my mind, and that is just what is the Scottish Government doing about gender recognition in Scotland. On 31st May 2016 the Scottish National Party (SNP) First Minister, the simply lovely Nicola Sturgeon, vowed that if she were re-elected that she would make changes for transgender and non-binary people in Scotland to bring gender recognition “iin line with international best practice”.

Nicola Sturgeon, who was duly re-elected, promised to allow transgender people to change their birth certificates and other official documents without need for medical diagnosis, legal recognition for 16-17 year old transgender people – allowing them to change their birth certificates without parental permission, and the legal recognition of non-binary individuals, intersex equality, and same-sex pension equity.

One year on, the SNP repeated these promises in their 2017 General Election manifesto. Well, the SNP have been re-elected to the Scottish Parliament for over a year now, the General Election took place on 8 June, and the SNP still managed to get more votes than Labour, the Tories, and the Lib-Dems put together – and I am seeing no apparent movement on these promises.

Come on, Nicola. You’re dragging your heels, dear (as nice heels as they may be).  It would be terribly embarrassing for Westminster to beat Holyrood to the post on this issue.  Especially considering they already did so on same-sex marriage.

Looking for an Ark Encounter?

20045521_1596311390399211_7503626277058911484_oYou have to see this, dears.  Creationist Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Creation Museum in Pittsburg, Kentucky, and Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Virginia, has had the latter lit up in rainbow colours at night.

Ken Ham, maintains that the Biblical record of creation is historically and chronologically accurate, the entire universe being created by God in six days, 6000 years ago.  He completely refutes biological evolution, despite looking so simian himself that he could get a part in a Planet of the Apes movie – without any need for make-up.

Kenny baby has now had his ailing exhibition lit up in an attempt to “reclaim” the rainbow from the LGBT+ community.

The photo on his Facebook page was accompanied with the following statement;

“We now have new permanent rainbow lights at the Ark Encounter so all can see that it is God’s rainbow and He determines its meaning in Genesis 6.

The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global Flood—next time the world will be judged by fire.

The Ark is lit permanently at night with a rainbow to remind the world that God owns it and He decreed it’s a sign of His covenant with man after the Flood—Christians need to take back the rainbow as we do at the Ark Encounter.”

Personally, I think it looks simply FABULOUS!  I simply LOVE it.

Ark Encounter, which was originally meant to be a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark, with displays and anitromic animals – and dinosaurs – opened on 7 July 2016, after a controversial start.  Tax incentives were given to AiG to build the project on the grounds that it would attract tourism into the area.  Public money was used to build roads and other infrastructure to the attraction also on the basis that it would be recouped through tourism.  Both of these measures brought complaints from American secularists and atheists, pointing out that the US Constitution expressly establishes a ‘wall between church and state’.  Nonetheless, the project went ahead.

Then AiG discovered they could not make it as authentic as they liked.  Irksome little things such as health and safety laws, fire escapes, public lavatories, sanitation, electricity ducts, ventilation, light, etc, meant that instead of a full boat with one door and window, Ken Ham had to build half an ark with several windows, resting on concrete pillars, and supported by modern buildings to the rear.

Following complaints of discriminatory employment practices, the US Federal Court ruled in 2016 that AiG could insist in their terms of employment that employees must believe that the Bible is the historically accurate word of God and accept and believe in Young Earth Creation.

Ken ham  boasted that the number of visitors would be over 2 million per year.  In fact, people have failed to appear in such numbers, and Ham himself has kept downplaying the estimate of visitor numbers.  In an interview in Gospel Herald, Ham stated that in the first year Ark Encounter may hit their own lower estimate for the first year of operation of 1.1 million visitors.  The Lexington Herald Leader reported on 2 July 2017 that Ark Encounter co-founder Mike Zorath stated that the Ark would welcome it’s 1 millionth visitor in July.

And what caused this failure in visitor numbers?  Well, first Ken Ham tried to claim it was due to opening in the middle of the holiday season.  That may well be true, but it was Ken Ham himself who chose to open it on 7 July 2016, to reflect Genesis 7:7, “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”  So if it failed, due to bad timing, Ham has no-one but himself to blame for that.

But then, he can always blame the atheists.  Which is precisely what Ken Ham did in a June 2017 AiG blog post;

“Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure.

Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking.”

The latest controversial move is AiG selling the park – to themselves.  AiG applied for an exemption to a new local safety tax in Grant County, Virginia, on the grounds that it was a religious organisation.   On June 29, Williamstown City Attorney Jeffrey Shipp rejected their request, stating that it was clear that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity, which is how it has been listed with the Secretary of State’s office since 2011.  AiG’s reaction was to sell their main parcel of land at the park, which the Ark sits on, to their not-for-profit subsidiary, Crosswater Canyon, for the princely sum of $10, so that it can be reclassified as a religious organisation.

Seems to me that Ken Ham and his associates need to make up their mind.  It is either a visitor attraction, or a religious organisation.  If it is the latter, then it should not be given tax incentives which would breach the secular US Constitution.

Of course, if he is really struggling, he could always turn the largest timber structure in the world into the world’s biggest LGBT+ nightclub.  Whaddya say, Kenny baby?

Ehe Fuer Alle ~ Germany Votes for Equal Marriage

30-germany.w710.h473Another European domino falls.

In a move which has surprised many, Germany has held a snap vote which has approved same-sex marriage and adoption.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democrat Party (CDU) is in a coalition with the Social Democrat Party (SPD), has previously been strenuously against equal marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare” and admitted to having a “hard time” with the issue. However, on 26 June in an interview with women’s magazine Brigette, Chancellor Merkel said she had a “life-changing experience” when she had dinner with a lesbian couple who are fostering eight children, and would allow a free vote on the issue in the future.

As the news spread supporters of equal marriage spread the message on social media, including sharing the hashtag #EheFeurAlle (Marriage for all) on Twitter, and calling for a vote as soon as possible. The SPD seized this initiative by calling for a vote by the time the German parliament went into recess by the week ending 30 June 2017. Although the SPD are trailing the CDU in the polls for the upcoming German election, they had signalled that there would by no future coalitions unless marriage reform was agreed upon. The Green Party, the far-left Linke Party, and the pro-business Free Democrats said likewise.

So it was, amidst Angela Merkel claiming she had been “ambushed” that the vote took place on Friday, 30 June, and was passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Chancellor Merkel voted against, and said afterwards that she still believed “marriage was between a man and a woman” but did add that the passing of the bill would bring more “social cohesion and peace”.

Germany now joins the club of European nations which have legalised equal marriage. The others are;

Belgium (2003)
Denmark (2012)
England (2013)
Finland (2017)
France (2013)
Iceland (2010)
Ireland (2015)
Luxembourg (2015)
Netherlands (2001)
Norway (2009)
Portugal (2010)
Scotland (2014)
Spain (2005)
Sweden (2009)

Other types of civil partnerships are recognised by:

Andorra (2014)
Austria (2010)
Croatia (2014)
Czech Republic (2006)
Cyprus (2015)
Greece (2015)
Hungary (2009)
Italy (2016)
Liechtenstein (2011)
Slovenia (2006)
Switzerland (2007)

The tiny state of San Marino has recognised unregistered cohabitation since 2012.

There is no recognition of equal marriage in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Vatican City. Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine have specific constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Malta’s new Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has committed his government to passing same-sex marriage this summer.

In the UK, equal marriage is now law in the UK bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, in Gibraltar, the UK dependencies of Gibraltar, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Alderney recognises same-sex foreign marriage, the tiny island of Sark has no recognition, while the Bailiwick of Jersey and the province of Northern Ireland have civil partnerships, with the latter stalwartly holding out against equal marriage.

That’s Northern Ireland where the UK government just recently squeaked into power after giving a £1 billion bribe to the homophobic, transphobic, anti-abortion, Biblical creationist, climate change denying Democratic Unionist Party  to support them, dears.

Schoolboys Protest No Shorts Rule – By Wearing Skirts

Isca Boys

Boys at Isca Academy

And my faith in humanity is restored.

As temperatures in the south of England soared to over 30C (86F) recently, 15-year-old Ryan Lambeth was one of many boys attending Isca Academy, Exeter, (Isca being the Roman name for Exeter) who complained of the heat in the long black trousers which are part of the compulsory school uniform, and requested to wear shorts to know avail. It was Ryan’s mother, Claire (43) who asked one teacher that if girls can wear skirts, why can’t the boys wear shorts? But the school refused to move on the issue.

His mother’s actions did however give Ryan an idea. He decided to borrow and wear an Isca Academy uniform skirt, and contacting his friends, so did five others that morning.

The idea may also have come from a 14-year-old who wanted to wear shorts and was sarcastically told by the headteacher “Well, you can wear a skirt if you like”. Whatever, the idea took off as more and more boys borrowed uniform skirts from girlfriends and sisters, braving the giggles and taunts from others. By Thursday, 22 June, around 30 boys turned up in Isca Academy girls skirts. Not one boy was punished, and as the idea took off, the taunts soon died away and the boys were being championed for their stance. Only one boy was pulled up for his skirt exposing too much of his hairy legs. Some other boys had reportedly shaved their legs.

Even as temperatures dropped to more liveable 20C (70F), the boys continued to wear the skirts, partially to keep up the protest to wear shorts and partially because some prefer the air and freedom which the female uniform affords them. By this time the headteacher, Aimee Mitchell announced that the school was prepared to think again.

“We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible, Ms Mitchell said, “Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”

There are echoes here of a story I reported four years ago, when Swedish train drivers complaining of heat in their cabs reaching 35C (95F) were refused shorts and instead turned to wearing uniform skirts. The train operating company could not touch them, as doing so would be a discriminatory move and thereby illegal (see https://xandradurward.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/training-skirts-takes-on-a-new-meaning/). Likewise French bus drivers in Nantes have followed the same lead, turning to wearing skirts as temperatures soared to 38C (100F).

What really impresses me about the Isca Academy story however, is the way that the idea took off, and how the boys were able to carry out their protest without fear of bullying. That has got to be a positive move, which shows that perhaps the younger generation has a more accepting attitude to dress choice of others. In England 120 schools have adopted a gender-neutral policy towards uniforms, allowing pupils to explore and express their own gender identity by choosing whether to wear trousers or skirts. This is part of a move to combat homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying. Sadly, there are no similar figures for Scotland.

When the Isca Academy story broke, some here in Scotland suggested that if schoolboys up here wore kilts, few would even bat an eyelid. They may not, but I would suggest those saying that have never worn a kilt, or are at least forgetting a couple of things about them. For a start, kilts are not skirts; there is a distinction between the two. The modern small kilt, the philabeag, grew out of military wear (no, it was not invented by an English mill-owner – that is an anti-Scottish myth), and had drawstrings to form the pleats at the rear. It was itself adapted from the long plaid great kilt, the philamhor, which was a robe going back in antiquity to many other types of robes worn mainly by men.

But moreover, the kilt is a very heavy garment. A normal philabeag is 8 yards of heavy, tightly woven wool, which is wrapped around the body. Yes, it can be airy (particularly if a man wearing it is a “true scotsman”, if you get my meaning), but anyone who has ever worn a kilt, myslef included, will soon tell you just how warm it gets in the kilt. I most certainly would not have wanted to wear a kilt in the recent high temperatures, particularly as my family tartan, like most tartans, is dark and thereby draws the heat.

The light blue and black tartan (while are so many school skirts, even in England and the USA tartan?) of the Isca Academy uniform would not draw so much heat, and as the skirts are obviously made of much lighter material than a kilt, they seem to be the obvious answer for hot weather, for all genders.

Kinda cute skirts actually – I would wear one.

Xandra 100

100XandraHello Dears,

Well, a while since I’ve been in here.  Naughty Xandra!  I need a sound spanking (please).  But when I did log back in, imagine my surprise that I now have 100 followers.  You are all such darlings, and I am overwhelmed at having so many people following me.  I am truly touched (but we all knew that) and it will galvanise me to get back here and keep posting.

Meanwhile, a huge thank you to all my followers and hugs and kisses to each and every one of you.  I love you all.

Loves,

Xandra.  xxxx