Archive | August 2015

New BBC sitcom hopes to raise Trans awareness

A love story – not a trans story.

A new BBC sitcom, Boy Meets Girl, is to be aired from 3 September, which portrays a transgender woman, Judy, entering a romance with a cishet man, Leo.

Thankfully, the main character will be played by transgender actress Rebecca Root, so we can only hope that the BBC stay true to their word, that this will be about a love story and not a comedy about trans people.  Only time will tell.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-33734931

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Trans Charity: Our Lives are Not a Drag

A hate crime?

This is a hate crime?

Only Chrysalis are equating drag with trans.

Derian House is a charity which runs a hospice for children with life-shortening terminal diseases and conditions.  Situated near Chorley, Lancashire, in England, they are at the forefront of providing activities for terminally-ill children, palliative care, respite, bereavement services and other support for around 500 children and their families.  Needless to say, this high level of care and support does not come cheap, and with only a small amount of their annual £300 million plus budget coming from government, Derian House is highly reliant upon charity from public donations and through fundraising activities.

So it was with the goal of raising funds in mind that Derian House decided to hold a “Dames on the Run” fun race, where men would hold a 5km race while dressed as ‘pantomime dames’, i.e. as outlandishly and flamboyantly as possible.  All a bit of harmless fun which aims to raise much-needed money for an extremely worthwhile cause, you may think?  Well, not according to transgender charity Chrysalis, it seems.

On Thursday, 20th August, Chrysalis lodged and an official complaint with Lancashire Police, alleging that Derian House were committing a hate crime by ridiculing trans people through their charity run, which they call “dehumanising”, and are now seeking to have the October event cancelled.

Steph Holmes of Chrysalis told the British newspaper The Telegraph (of all the right-wing rags, they had to be the one to get hold of the story),  “We get enough confusion with the word transgender, which mixes us up with transvestites. Transvestites certainly don’t dress for comic purposes and I don’t get up in the morning and think ‘what can I put on today to give people a laugh?’ “ she continued,  “This race pokes fun at cross-dressing and, by association, us, reducing us to objects to be laughed at.  Dehumanising us this way gives carte blanche to those that would do us physical harm, much like the gay bashers of old.  It’s a small step from ridicule to persecution. The current stats suggest a 34 per cent chance of beaten up, raped or killed for being trans. We do not need to give the bigots any more ammunition.  I am sure that Derian House didn’t intend to give offence. The very fact that it’s a children’s hospice should make them sensitive to potential bad publicity and the effect that this has on young trans people.”

As I am wont to do, I researched the facts carefully before writing.  I can honestly say that I found nothing on the Derian House website or the publicity for the Dames on the Run event which is remotely transphobic.  I can honestly also say that in my opinion Steph Holmes is talking out of her backside, and Chrysalis may have just done the cause for transgender rights enormous damage.

Transgender people and genderqueer crossdressers, of which I fall into the latter bracket, go to pains to point out the enormous difference between ourselves and drag queens / kings.  I myself have pointed out many times before, and I repeat it here, drag queens and kings dress up for entertainment purposes, for transgender / genderqueer people, dressing in clothing identified with another gender is an intrinsic part of their being, and not for anyone’s entertainment and / or titillation.

I certainly hope that Ms Holmes had a slip of the tongue when she said “Transvestites certainly don’t dress for comic purposes” and she meant transgender people.  If not, then she makes even more of an fool of herself.  In her previous sentence she herself stated “We get enough confusion with the word transgender, which mixes us up with transvestites.”  Of course, technically she is correct.  Drag queens / kings dress up for entertainment, whereas transvestisism is today more commonly associated as a sexual fetish.

How far do Chrysalis want to take this?  If dressing as a ‘dame’ is a hate crime, do we then ban all pantomimes?  How about drag queens / kings?  Are they then to be banned from Pride events where a great many can be found?  One online commentator stated, tongue-in-cheek, “Arrest Biggins!”  Quite.  Arrest Christopher Biggins, and Paul O’Grady, and Eddie Izzard, etc, etc.

If female impersonation is such a hate crime, then do we ban entire acts based upon that, such as the Ladyboys of Bangkok?  Best of luck with that one, dears.  Apart from their act being classed as art, it is one of the most popular shows to make an appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival every year, where you have to book for tickets well in advance.

Who decides what is and what is not ‘feminine’ dress?  What of that which can be quite ‘androgynous’?  If a cis man wears a flamboyant or flowery shirt, is he committing a transphobic hate crime, or is he merely dressing as he pleases?  What if a cishet woman pinches and wears her partner’s shirt or Jacket – as they are wont to do?  Is that likewise a hate crime?  And taken to that limit, how long before trans / genderqueer people are restricted from dressing exactly as we please?   We cannot have one law for some, and another law for others.

Chysalis have alredy drawn enormous flak for their words and and actions over this, not least from trans and genderqueer people, and quite rightly so.  The few, the very few, I have seen voicing support for Chrysalis over this stance have tried to compare it to the black and white minstrels of old.  That is a disingenuous argument, as just like drag queens, minstrels blacked up their faces for entertainment purposes.  To the best of my knowledge no person ever tried to permanently blacken themselves as an intrinsic need in their life.  The closest I can come to that is John Howard Griffin, who took drugs which blackened his skin, and then toured some of the southern states in the USA, as research for his book Black Like Me.  But then, as he did that as research for a book (which exposed the racism he received from white people when black – and the same he received from black people when white), it could be strongly argued he still did that for entertainment purposes.

Nobody who is adequately well-educated nowadays conflates dressing in drag with being transgender or genderqueer.  Certainly not the management of Derian House, who are obviously very upset at the accusations levelled against them.

A spokesperson for Derian House stated “As a children’s hospice, we deal with highly sensitive and emotive issues all the time and would never have considered organising a fundraising event that might cause upset or offence.  Dames on the Run was conceived as a fun event, drawing on the much-loved Pantomime Dame character that is part of our theatrical heritage and supported by hundreds of thousands of people in every year.  It was intended appeal to the fathers of desperately sick children, who do so much to hold their family together in the face of their child’s devastating illness and who ask for very little support in return.  We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to participate in a fun-packed event and encourage other men to show their support and raise vitally needed funds for the hospice.  We were shocked to receive a complaint, and our chief executive wrote immediately to apologise for any offence caused and assure her that none was intended.”

As far as I can see the only people actually conflating dressing in drag with being trans / genderqueer are Chrysalis, and by doing so in this manner, they have potentially caused great damage to the trans / genderqueer cause, and likewise that of the entire LGBTQIA community.

I do not have children of my own, and never shall have any.  I can think of nothing more horrific and heartbreaking however of any child dying, and their parents outliving them.  That is just so very WRONG on so many levels.  For Chrysalis then to bring this absurd, frivilous, and downright cruel police complaint against those helping such children and their families – which Chrysalis and many of us are not doing – and to attempt to ban a fun event, which would thereby deny Derian House much-needed funding, puts them beyond contempt in my opinion.  I will not mince my words here; this has made me plain bloody angry.

I have no doubt many in UK society will share my views, and the frankly mean and thoughtless actions of Chrysalis can only ever reflect negatively on transgender / genderqueer people in general, and the LGBTQIA community as a whole.


Derian House’s website and publicity for Dames on the Run can be found below:

http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/

http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/dames/

Same-Sex Education: One more form of Oppression

George Galloway - one of those things you find at the top of women's legs.

George Galloway

What becomes of lesbian, gay and transgender kids?

I was listening to a radio phone-in on which UK politician and celebrity George Galloway was discussing the merits and demerits of same-sex eduction.  Seems that this great ‘socialist’ is all in favour of it, because apparently boys do better in primary schools, and girls do better in high school.

George Galloway claims to be being altruistic in his goal to give children the best start in life, which is very laudable.  One wonders, however, if he has actually thought this through, or if he even actually cares about some kids?  He was concentrating mainly on girls and claims that all too often their schooling suffers due to crushes on boys, first love affairs going sour, and more intelligent girls being singled out and bullied as “geeks” by boys.

I doubt that Galloway, and those who follow his logic, have ever thought of what would become of a minority of children in such schools.  I am talking of course of girls who are lesbian, boys who are gay, children of both sides of the gender binary who are bisexual, and those who are trans.  And that’s before we even broach the complex issues of pansexual, intersex and genderqueer children.

What would become of such children, most of whom are already either too scared to come out of the closet, or who do not yet realise their gender and / or sexuality?  Yet it is in the teenage – high school – years that gender recognition and sexuality blossoms.  Not being trans myself, I have no idea what it is like for a trans person at school, or likewise the experience of homosexual boys and girls at school, but I can imagine it must be sheer hell.  Perhaps those who have experienced it can enlighten myself and others.

I do know however that my penchant for crossdressing manifested itself at an early age.  Of course in my teens I had no idea of what being genderqueer – or pansexual – meant, but I certainly know that even at the mixed schools I attended, I would not have dared to come out as either, for fear of ridicule and bullying.  Not that it would have been at all tolerated by the education authorities either.  I recall a gay chap I once knew who recounted the story that he was pulled up at his local authority school for dressing flamboyantly and told he must wear school uniform.  So the following day he did turn up in full school uniform – his sister’s old one; complete with pinafore dress, blouse, patterned socks and Mary-Jane shoes.  He was suspended for two weeks and his parents called in to account for his behaviour.  I have no doubt exactly the same thing would happen in most schools today, and I hate to think what the repercussions would be of daring to crossdress in a same-sex school.

So, children may well fail if they are distracted by objects of affection.  And what happens then if that object of affection happens to be of the same sex?  Strange as it may seem to some, there are not only lesbian and gay teens at school, but right across the entire sexuality spectrum; we all know this, because we’ve all been through it.  And here’s a thing, even where heterosexual teens are concerned, do George Galloway and other proponents of same-sex education propose we have only women teachers in girl’s schools, and only men teachers in boy’s schools?  I ask because I recall full well that as a teenage oik, I went through entire boxes of tissues over sexual fantasies about my very curvy, redheaded English teacher.

Or do those who propose same-sex education merely completely ignore teenage sexuality?  If they do, then they are heavily in denial, and none moreso it seems than George Galloway.  During his radio show two men dared to broach the subject of teenage girls in skirts that are too short for them, and he cut their calls off, saying that they “have problems”.  Because of course, if we dare to even broach that subject, we are automatically perverts, aren’t we?  Try not.  Nobody knows this better than any parent of a teenage girl.  My own female partner has a daughter whom she has strictly ruled that shorts, skirts and dresses must reach at least the tips of fingertips with arms at full downward stretch (and without hunching her shoulders or attempting to bend – as her daughter has been known to attempt).  Whether George Galloway and others like it or not, give teenage girls an inch and they will take a yard – literally.

I am all for girls and women being able to wear what they want, where they want, when they want, and recognise that dress has nothing to do with rape.  But at the same time, there is such a thing as a sense of proportion and decency – even if it’s only for themselves.  Girls will wear skirts, shorts and dresses too short – and boys will wear tight pants that show off their asses and packages, because human beings are sexual creatures, and because of their blossoming sexuality, many teens will attempt to ‘push the envelope’ wherever possible where dress is concerned.

I could have phoned the show and broached the subjects of gender and sexuality in teens, but after Galloway cut those two men off, I saw no point doing so, because I just know I would have been similarly cut off.  George Galloway, who some claim is a great orator, is in  a habit of doing that; either shouting over his opponent in an ‘argument’ (Galloway only ever has a ‘debate’ when the other person agrees with him), or cutting the other person off when he doesn’t agree with them, or more commonly, when they are winning the argument.

Yet teen sexuality and gender recognition is not something which can or should be ignored.  Nonetheless so as recently the UK Office for National Statistics, an official government body, released a survey in which 49% of young people (18-24) identified as being something “other than 100% heterosexual”, and across the board all ages now tend to recognise that sexuality is not a binary but a spectrum where all lie somewhere upon.  Given those statistics, we then see that same-sex eduction could be highly detrimental not just to a small minority, but almost half of teenage schoolkids.

And as to the bullying aspects, if George Galloway does not believe that girls bully other girls, I would suggest he has his head in the sand, up his arse, or somewhere else he can choose to not recognise facts.  Girls can be extremely vindictive little minxes to each other, and will quite easily pick on the smart girl, every bit as much as boys will pick on the geeky intelligent boy.  We all know this; we’ve all experienced and seen it with our own eyes.  As John Lennon said in Working Class Hero, “They hurt you at home, and they hit you at school; they hate you if you’re clever, and they despise the fool.”  Just recently in the UK there was the shocking case of an out-of-control girl who was convicted after a video showed her beating up a girl much more intelligent than her.  The said girl was stupid enough to allow friends to post the video on social media, which led to her subsequent conviction, but I would suggest that is the tip of the iceberg.  Anyone who tries to infer that girls (and boys) would not be bullied in same-sex schools is playing the same ignorant game as those school heads who claim their school does not have a bullying problem.  All schools have bullying problems, and parents would do well to listen to the heads who admit they take a strong line on bullying, and avoid those schools where the head claims bullying doesn’t exist like the plague.

I am somewhat bemused by George Galloway’s claims that he does not want school pupils ‘distracted’ from their eduction.  This is the same man who for years has been claiming that the Scottish National Party (SNP) aim to destroy Scotland’s state-funded Roman Catholic schools, and that those same schools would be scrapped in an independent Scotland.  So, being distracted by a member of the opposite sex should never be allowed in George’s book, but it’s okay for them to be distracted by religious mumbo-jumbo, which should have absolutely no place in schools in my opinion.

So, given that he wants same-sex schools, and faith-based schools, and looking at what I have already said above about teachers of the same sex, can we take it that George Galloway would favour girl’s schools ran by nuns, and boy’s schools run by priests?  Because historically that’s really been a recipe for success, hasn’t it?  Sure, just ask the hundreds of those who survived sexual and physical abuse in such establishments.

That’s before I even come onto George Galloway’s continual pandering to Islam.  Does he then favour Islamic girl’s only faith schools?  In his broadcast Galloway claimed he wanted to see girls become engineers and scientists.  Let me tell you now, in an Islamic girl’s school, that is never going to happen.  And no, I’m not being Islamophobic; I am merely stating a fact that Islam, under which men and women are supposed to be equal, in fact strongly oppresses women.  But then, the Roman Catholic Church is not far behind them in that degree, so sincerely doubt one would see many engineers and scientists pouring out of RC girl’s schools.

And of course, we all know the views of the Roman Catholic Church – and other Christian denominations – and Islam on anything which detracts even the slightest iota from the cisgender and heterosexual binaries.  So in that context same-sex faith schools could only ever be oppressive and harmful to LGBTQI children.

But then exactly the same applies to non-denominational and secular same-sex schools.  We already know that if anything causes confused sexual longings, it is locking up teenagers (or even adults) of the same sexuality and gender together.  Stories of buggery at boy’s boarding schools and lesbian encounters at their female equivalents are legendary.  But in those contexts, they are many times the result of what the homophobes and transphobes are the very people to accuse the LGBTQI community of; sexual experimentation and learned behaviours.

If we want well-rounded, well-educated adults, then we need children, not just teens but from an early age, to mix with each other.  That is as true of gender and sexuality as it is of race, ethnicity, culture and faith.  To do any other can only ever be divisive, and can only lead to problems in the future.  And I for one do not know how anyone can dare to advocate such, and then have the audacity to describe themselves as a socialist.

And yes, girls and boys will have crushes.  They will ‘fall in love’.  They will have their first romances.  And yes, their little hearts will get broken as result of that.  And yes, that is sad and bloody tragic.  It is also however part and parcel of growing up, and is in itself a life experience, and one of the most important lessons the overwhelming vast majority of us ever learn.  And all of us look back on those days, and we smile and bear no ill will; for we all know just how important that lesson was.

I am sure I speak for most when I say that the last thing we want is a scientist who has never experienced compassion for others – or for that matter the poet who has never fallen in love.

But then, as he’s so sure of his facts, I’ll give the floor for one more statement from George Galloway;

“And when they returned they sat mixed together, Christian boys in their scruffy jeans next to Muslim girls in immaculate hijabs.  During the break they had discovered what they liked about one another – and forgot what it was they were meant to dislike.”
(George Galloway, Daily Mirror, 6 September 2014)

There’s a word for it, George.  It’s called hypocrisy.

Missing the Target

Action and adventure...

Action and adventure…

Any step against gender labelling is a positive one

The US-based retail giant, Target, does not have any UK stores, and if you wish to buy from them you have to do so online.

Nonetheless, one has to applaud a decision they took recently, to remove gender-based labelling and decor from some of their departments.  All the more so because they took that decision in response to customer feedback.

On their corporate website, A Bullseye View, Target stated:

“Historically, guests have told us that sometimes—for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well—signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

“We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance. For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids. In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.”

I like how Target are making the distinction of the more subtle differences here, such as not using pink and blue backing paper on shelves.  Sometimes gender segregation in store is more subtle than some people notice.

When I posted the Target story on Facebook, I was met with comments from people claiming they had never seeing aisles segregated by gender.  Of course, those making those comments were speaking from their position of cis privilege.  They don’t see them because they don’t look, and because they are cis, it does not register in their brains.

I was in a toy store recently and I could not help but notice that the store was indeed segregated, not by signage, but by colour.  One side was pink, and had dolls, dolls houses, kids make-up sets, and all the other toys traditionally associated with girls.  The other side was blue, and had toy cars, guns, cowboy outfits, and all the other toys traditionally associated with boys.

Were it not enough that this store was clearly making a distinction between genders and toys which the owners had obviously decided suited either side of the gender binary, I noticed something that made my blood boil.  The pink – girls – side had all the artists materials; the blue – boys – side had all the scientific toys.

What message is that sending, exactly?  And with attitudes like that, is it any wonder that many more men go into the field of science than women, and men taking an interest in or pursuing a career in the arts is still seen as fette among the cishet majority?

The backlash against Target has been considerable.  Their website is full of comments from disgruntled Americans saying they will not shop at Target any more.  Good, don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out, Sweetie.  On the plus side those bigots are getting a few replies from those supporting Target saying they won’t be missed.

And of course there has been the usual media backlash, particularly from the right-wing US media who claim to report news, but seem to exist only to push their opinions upon others.  And of course, Fox are leading the field.  On Fox and Friends, host Brian Kilmeade claimed he would have problems choosing what toys to buy for the children in his life.  Really Brian? Do what I do, dear; ask the parents – or even the kids themselves.  Probably most disturbing were the comments from psychotherapist Tom Kersting;

“I understand there’s this whole gender neutral agenda going on,  and I actually have clients of mine that are — don’t really know what gender they are.  I don’t want to confuse kids that are young when we take them to a toy store, having them question what their gender is,  That’s the problem I have with that.”

Who is Tom Kersting?  I did a little digging and found out he is indeed a therapist and counsellor, for marriages and families.  He is also a hypnotherapist, which given that is a highly controversial and scientifically unproven field – which has been proven to suggest false memories – sets alarm bells off in my head immediately.  He is also the therapist on the US ‘reality’ show, A&E.  As the above paragraph suggests, he has no expertise in the field of gender dysphoria, and the fact he refers to a “whole gender neutral agenda”, and claims that he has clients who do not know which gender they are, only serves to highlight his ignorance in the entire question of gender.  In other words he’s a television showman and a hypnotherapist quack who does not know what he is talking about and is unqualified to make any comment on the gender issue.  And that dears, is why I have a problem with him.

You know what the real problem with the objectors is?  Ignorant homophobic and transphobic bigotry.  They are scared that if their little darling Johnny plays with dolls, or little sweetie Jenny plays with a train set, in their minds they imagine them becoming homosexual or transgender.  And of course, those of us who are better educated fully realise that decision has already been taken in the womb, and hell and high water will not change that.  And that fact just further underlines Tom Kersting’s ignorance upon this subject.  If he is unaware gender and sexuality are formed before birth, then one wonders just where he got his qualifications from, and how.  I played with Action Man as a child (GI Joe in the USA) and had a whole load of paraphenalia concering this militaristic toy.  It no sooner made me grow up cishet than it made me violent.  The ideas of toys conditioning gender, sexuality, or behaviours is completely bogus and has not one shred of solid scientific evidence to back it up.  Boys play with dolls and plushies, girls play with war toys and train sets (and we all still play with Lego), whatever their gender or sexuality – get used to it.

In the end, just what are Action Man / GI Joe, and action figures (which some never grow out of) if they are not dolls?

I see I have also been as guilty as most in concentrating upon children in this article, when of course Target are not only removing gender-based signs from many departments, not just toys, and are doing so based upon customer feedback.  The very words were, “some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.”  Equally true.  I am very girlie (You don’t say, Xandra?  Oh I do say, dear.) but the devil will be skating to work before I ever watch a chick flick or read a trashy romantic novel.  Things like that give me, as we say in Scotland, the dry boak.  I base my bedding around the decor in my room.  Am I to be told that I cannot buy bedding because it’s based on gender?

If my female partner was frowned upon or patronised for going into a hardware department, she’d probably show the staff that there is more than one use for a staple gun.

I simply loved what one woman had to say in the comments on the Target website; thank you Ms Angela Yates of Richmond, IN.

For all of those who are upset about this change, how would you feel if the cleaning supplies aisle said “Women’s” and the tool aisle said “Men’s” because we all know that only women can clean and do housework and men are the only ones handy with a hammer, right?!

I cannot say that I am a big fan of Target.  I don’t buy from them online and if they had stores here in the UK, I would not enter one.  Not because of the above change but rather because earlier this year they closed down their Canadian stores and rather shittily made over 17,000 of their Canadian employees unemployed as a consequence.  Shame on you for that, Target.

Their step in ending gender-specific aisles and departments is one to be applauded, however; firstly, because it was an action in response to customer feedback, and secondly, because it is the thin end of the wedge which could very well make other stores follow their lead.

And should any readers of this think that would be the end of civilisation as we know it, or like Fox’s Brian Kilmeade think it will cause them considerable confusion in making choices when buying gifts for children and other loved ones, just ask yourself this question;

Just how do you reckon blind people make such choices?


The press release on the Target website (and attached odious comments) can be read here:

https://corporate.target.com/article/2015/08/gender-based-signs-corporate

What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?

$$$-MogShowing affection is not a cishet privilege

At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, gay actor John Barrowman grabbed and kissed a kilted male dancer.  It was a moment which was hugely applauded in the stadium, across Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

Gay and lesbian kisses are now becoming so commonplace in soap operas, that the media hardly bothers reporting them nowadays.  There are similarly quite a few same-sex kissing scenes in many movies.

So, given that the public is apparently so accepting of LGBTQI actors and celebrities kissing in the media and entertainment, one would think that people would be equally accepting to exactly the same thing being done by ordinary people in public.

And one would be dead wrong.

On 11 October 2014, 22-year-old Annabelle Paige and her unnamed girlfriend were shopping in branch of Sainsbury’s supermarket in Brighton, England, when she lovingly gave her girlfriend what she describes as a “light kiss”.  She thought no more of it, until the couple were approached by a store security guard.  The guard told them that he had received a complaint and they were to refrain from kissing, or leave the store.

Ms Paige said that the security guard told them “either leave and take it outside or continue our shop without being affectionate as it was making other customers uncomfortable.”  The female security guard told Ms Paige that a customer had said it was ‘disgusting’.  The use of this word rankled with Ms Paige, who remonstrated with the security guard who claimed a customer had said that.

Ms Paige stated “She told us she was sorry to have said that, but a customer had complained, saying what we were doing was ‘disgusting’ and had claimed they were worried for the safety of their child so the security guard felt she had to come and say something to us.”  Worried for the safety of their child?  Really?

Annabelle Paige and her partner lodged an official complaint with Sainsbury’s, who apologised profusely, and will be making a donation to a charity of Ms Paige’s choice.  A Sainsbury’s spokesman stated “This should never have happened – it is clear that Miss Paige and her partner were not behaving inappropriately and we are very sorry that they were treated in this way.”

The day the incident happened upon, incidentally, was National Coming Out Day.

One would hope this was an isolated incident.  But no.  In July this year, lesbian couple Mog Wilde and her long-term partner, Freya, were visiting the Cardiff Food Festival in Wales for Freya’s 35th birthday, when Mog kissed her.  “We were dancing to the live music and I kissed Freya because she looked so beautiful and it was her birthday.” Mog said.  The couple, who were in a public thoroughfare, were then approached by a security guard from G4S, who told them to quit or they would be removed from the event.  The security guard claimed that there had been complaints and remonstrated that there were children around.

One onlooker stated that there had been complaints from some “middle-aged ladies” but the couple reported that they got cheers and support from those around them, including a gay couple who also kissed – but were not approached by security.

A spokesperson for Cardiff City Council stated, “Festival stewards received a number of complaints from members of the public about a couple who were engaged in a very strong display of public affection at the festival’, they said.  “Once the couple in question had been identified a steward approached them. They reminded them that sexual behaviour of this level was inappropriate for what is very much a family event.  At no time did any Council employee ask the couple to leave.”  they concluded,  “The same course of action would have been taken regardless of the sexual orientation of the individuals involved.”

This incident took place on the same day as the Bristol Pride event, 30 miles away.

Back to supermarkets, this time British supermarket giant Tesco.  Just this week a gay couple were subjected to a tirade of abuse from a member of staff in a branch of Tesco in Brixton, London.  Steve Luetchford was shopping, when his partner happened to give him a peck on the cheek.  They were approached by a female member of staff who started shouting at them and told them to get out of the shop.

Steve told Pink News “Basically the BF kissed me on the cheek and woman went ballistic at us saying “how dare you do that here, there are children here, you people are disgusting do that at home you have no right to do that in

“I was like actually we do have a right and I said she didn’t have a right to talk to us like that she started calling us miss and told us to get out and kept going on about children being in the shop.”

Not one member of staff intervened to stop the verbal assault, and every one of them refused to give their names, although Steve stated, “one girl was really rude and insinuated we deserved to be spoken to like that.”

He later posted on Facebook “We weren’t at all being grotesque or sucking face.”

Tesco has since apologised and has said that the store manager is investigating the incident.

Three isolated incidents, but probably three which are the tip of the iceberg of a much bigger problem.  Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that the lesbian kiss between Mog and Freya (pictured above) was somewhat passionate, but then, it’s no different from what one can see cishet couples doing in public any day of the week.

And notice the common thread which runs through the complaints; all three complainants holding up the children card, with one claiming that parents were worried for the ‘safety’ of their child.  Yeah, because the child was really at risk by seeing two people being loving towards each other.  I frankly doubt there was any child in that case, if indeed there were children near in any of the three cases.

And there are other things to consider in the reaction to all three cases.

Sainsbury’s are reported making a donation to a charity of Annabelle Paige’s choice.  Did they then offer Ms Paige money?  If so, to my mind that is merely adding insult to injury.  I’ve worked in many customer services roles and problems are not solved by throwing money at them.

The Cardiff City Council spokesperson who claimed “The same course of action would have been taken regardless of the sexual orientation of the individuals involved.” has actually told a barefaced lie.  There were two gay men who also kissed, and they were not approached and told to desist.

Given that not one member of staff intervened in the Brixton branch of Tesco, and all allegedly refused to give their names, one wonders just why then Tesco are leaving the investigation to the store manager?  Just how committed are they to diversity, or to even getting to the bottom of this incident?  One would have thought that particular incident requires someone completely independent of the branch to investigate the matter.

It also does not escape my notice that security guards were involved in two of the incidents.  Having been on the receiving end of these petty-minded little Hitlers on a power trip every time they don a uniform, I have a particular dislike for them.  The difference is I know my rights, I know the limits of their ‘powers’ (basically little to none), and I’m not afraid to face them.  Once they see they are dealing with someone in the know, they usually shit themselves and scuttle away like the cowardly bullies most of them are.

This is kissing we are talking about, for gawd’s sake.  Yes, a kiss can be very intimate, even sexual, but most people, whatever their sexuality know the limitations in public.  The supermarket cases were apparently not intimate or sexual, and while the kiss between the lesbian couple was, they were cheered on by those around them.  And any homophobes / transphobes reading this, everyone has the right to show affection to a loved one in public, regardless of their sexuality or gender.  If you don’t like it, look the other way.  Indeed, you should do so anyway, as it’s an intimate moment which is nothing to do with you.  How would you like it if people stared at you kissing your partner?

There is no way that any cishet couple would have been similarly approached for any of the above three public displays of affection.  Indeed, one wonders how willing some little G4S toady or a frosty-faced cow in a supermarket would be to face up some muscled, tattooed bruiser and tell him to stop kissing his female partner?  It simply would not happen, because it’s nothing to do with public displays of affection, it’s nothing to do with protecting children; it has everything to do with homophobic / transphobic bigots seeing the LGBTQI community as an easy target and thinking they can impose their ‘standards’ upon them.  Like all abusers, homophobes and transphobes are bullies, and in the nature of the bully, cowards at heart.

I am reminded of a gay friend who was once arrested for walking down a public street in Scottish city, hand-in-hand with his boyfriend.  That was way back in 1983; have we really progressed so little in the intervening 32 years?


(“What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?”  Robert Browning; ‘A Toccata of Gallupi’s’)

Why Edward Heath abuse allegations worry me

Edward Heath

Edward Heath

Unsubstantiated claims could harm many

Sir Edward Heath was Conservative Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974.  Seen by many as a progressive “one nation Tory”, he was fiercely in favour of Britain’s membership of what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) and the man who dismissed Enoch Powell MP from the Conservative Party for his notorious “rivers of blood” speech about immigrants.  He finally fell when he tried to take on the National Union of Mineworkers in a strike over pay.

Heath was also a bachelor, and one of the few British Ministers never to have married.  He was also seldom seen in female company, and this, coupled with unsubstantiated allegations about male friends, led to a great deal of speculation, even voiced in the media that he was gay.  Whether this is true or not, Edward Heath took to the grave with him in 2005.

With investigations continuing into sexual abuse of children by politicians and other high-profile people in the 1970s, allegations have now been levelled against Edward Heath, serious enough that there are now three investigations about his activities.

The first involves brothel madame Myra Forde, whom it has been claimed that, as one of her clients, she knew that Heath had a penchant for little boys and used this to blackmail him into getting a court case against her dropped in 1992.

The second is that Edward Heath was involved in a VIP paedophile ring operating in Westminster in the 1960s, with at least one person alleging he was a “core member”.

The third involves allegations that Heath used his yacht, Morning Cloud, to visit Jersey, a British dependency in the Channel Islands, to visit a home where it is now known children suffered systematic sexual and physical abuse.  It is further alleged that he took children aboard Morning Cloud to abuse them.

These are of course serious allegations, and given that it is now known there was indeed a VIP paedophile ring involving politicians in the 1970s, they deserve to be taken seriously.  The abuse of children in the 1970s was never taken seriously, which resulted in high-profile people such as Liberal MP Cyril Smith and DJ and celebrity Jimmy Saville getting away with molesting children with impunity.  Saville, once knighted for his charity work for children’s hospitals and at one time held up as a national treasure, is now thought to have been one of the most prolific active paedophiles in history, with over 300 cases reported – and people still coming forward.  Things are very different today, and however flimsy the claim, the police take these matters extremely seriously and one wishes them every success in their investigations.

So, as a survivor of sexual abuse and as one who despises Tories, why should this worry me?  Because of the connotations the abuse claims are already kicking up; that because Edward Heath may have been gay, and now child sexual abuse claims are being levelled towards him, people are already putting two and two together and coming up with five.

The internet is now awash with blogs and commentators on them by people stating that Heath’s dubious sexuality means he must have been a paedophile.  Therein lies the danger.  Unsubstantiated claims levelled, while there is an enquiry into VIP paedophile rings, people want to believe that Heath was guilty, and as he never married, and was alleged to be gay, he has already been tried and convicted by many.

Time to get things into perspective.

Firstly, and I cannot reiterate this often enough, the overwhelming vast majority of paedophiles are heterosexual men, many married with families of them own.  A child is – statistically at least – much safer in the hands of a gay man or a lesbian woman than they are in the hands of a heterosexual male.

Some of the investigations are spurious to say the least, with at least one accuser known to be a fantasist, and others based on hearsay.   The investigations apart, one of the more loony accusations that have been levelled against Heath is that he was blackmailed into the UK joining the EEC by people who had proof of him abusing kids.  These claims are made by right-wing Eurosceptics who cannot accept the fact that any Tory PM was pro-European.

There’s no proof that Edward Heath ever sailed to or set foot on Jersey, let alone visited the Haut de la Garenne Children’s Home.  Nonetheless, there is now one woman alleging that she saw 11 boys boarding Morning Cloud, and counted only 10 returning; the inference being that Heath murdered one of the boys – and of course not one of the other 10 ever saw anything and have never spoken about it.

Former Madame Myra Forde has denied any of the allegations.  Through her former solicitor, she has stated “For the avoidance of any doubt, Myra Forde wishes me to make it clear that she had no involvement with Ted Heath of any kind and has no knowledge of any misconduct on his part.”  and of the court case dropped, continued that the prosecution “took what, at the time, seemed a sensible decision that they could not prove their case and offered no evidence”.  Consider also that for the case to be dropped would need Edward Heath to lean upon the Crown prosecutors, when he was not in office, and really had no power.

Finally, and this must be sacrosanct to any allegations, as much as some of us may hate Tories with a vengeance, the rule of law is that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Edward Heath can no longer speak for himself, but like any accused his innocence must be presumed until proven otherwise.

I had no love for Edward Heath, as I have no love for any Tories, and I am not for one moment suggesting that he is innocent of the allegations laid against him.  Investigations are already proving that at the least it is strongly likely that he knew of a paedophile ring among MPs, and did nothing to stop that.  But then, he was not alone in that, with Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and perhaps even Nick Clegg and David Cameron sharing that particular shame.

But to accuse a man who may – or may not – have been gay, and then automatically colour him as a paedophile, on the flimsiest of evidence, is to go down a very dangerous road indeed.  And a road that could lead to members of the LGBTQI community and single cishet men targeted by lynch mobs as potential paedophiles.  It happened once before in the UK in the 1990s, when red top newspapers whipped up public hysteria about paedophiles, and it could all to easily happen again.

Edward Heath was certainly a slimy bastard.  I recall him as Prime Minister, with the nightly power cuts and the oil crisis of 1973, with motorists lining up and even fighting for petrol rations.  He was a hapless Prime Minister and life was dismal under him.  He could have been a child abuser, and he may not have been – that is for the police to investigate and any enquiry, made congnisant with the full facts, to decide; not the public and certainly not conspiracy theorists and keyboard warriors, who however well-meaning, could end up hurting innocent people in the process.

Gender as a Psychological Construct

11154968_394318284083775_1727804353313483432_oDoes biology matter at all?

Some posts not just on WordPress but across the internet – from both LGBTQI and cishet people – have got me thinking recently about the entire question of gender, and in just exactly which concept it should be seen in.  It is nowadays accepted fact that any type of inherent sexuality each is born with (as opposed to learned behaviour) is perfectly normal, and most educated people find that acceptable.  I would argue that the same must apply to gender.

Let’s get this correct first; there is not one of us born or alive who is “all man” or “all woman”.  That is actually a biological impossibility.  Females have a certain amount of testosterone in their bodies, as men have a certain amount of oestrogen in theirs (and some more than others dears) – get used to it.

And of course, we all start as ‘female’ in the womb.  Yes, guys, even you.  How the hell do you reckon you got those nipples?  Any of you with moobs, that’s all your own doing – there are no female hormones in beer or kebabs.  But it is not only about nipples.  The ‘blueprint’ embryo has a genital bud, which if the male chromosome dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is introduced, will grow into a penis, and without DHT, it would develop into a clitoris.  However, Müllerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS) prevents a female reproductive tract from forming, thereby allowing the penis to develop further.  Then of course you guys have that ‘seam’ running down the middle of your scrotum.  That is the Raphe line, which is basically a scar.  To explain, every embryo, as well as the genital bud has a genital opening.  When female hormones take over, this develops into the labia / vagina, but with male hormones, this opening fuses together as the penis develops, eventually leaving a line running from the anus, across the scrotum to the base of the penis.  Doubt this, guys?  Try tickling your perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) and find how pleasurable that feels.  Of course it does – you’re basically exciting your ‘labia’ (laughing here at images of cishet men reading this suddenly pulling their hands away from their crotches).

It is important to make these distinctions, for in science what we are talking about above is not gender – it is sex.  People often confuse the two when they are not one and the same thing.  Sex refers to biological differences between ‘males’ and ‘females’ with the chromosomes being XX for female and XY for male.  Sex however does not determine gender, no more than it determines sexuality.  Genital development takes place in 6 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.  At this time the brain is not fully formed, which does not take place until around 8 weeks into the pregnancy.  Some would argue that it is due to this ‘misalignment’ in development that some are born trans, and some are not.  I say phooey.  If it is a misalignment, then it is one we all go through during foetal development, and if that is the case, then it can be strongly suggested that gender is purely a state of mind.

What better evidence to support this than to look at intersex children?  I am of course speaking of babies born supporting both ‘male’ and ‘female’ genitals.  Either as an embryo or as a baby, the gender of such a child has already been determined in their brain.  This is why I applauded brave little Malta for being the first country in the world to ban parents determining the sex of intersex children.  To do so is to impinge the gender the parents want, not whichever gender the child is psychologically.  I would strongly argue that to do is a breach of human rights.  It needs to be that child, once they are old enough to make a distinction, to decide which of gender, if either, they belong to.  I say “if either” for the simple fact that some intersex people refuse to proscribe to either side of the gender binary but are happy to remain intersex, and as a genderqueer pansexual I can relate to that (I’ve never had sex with an intersex person, but I would imagine it would be one helluva lotta fun to do so).

Consider further that it is only in relatively recent history that trans and intersex people have been able to undergo transition.  Before then, even before our ancestors came down out of the trees, down throughout history there have been trans and intersex individuals who lived out their entire adult lives identifying as either one gender or the other (or even both with some).

Should this come as a surprise to any of us?  People are fickle creatures living lives which are far from black and white.  We are a mixture of animal and human, savage and gentle, male and female, in different degrees and at different times.  Even the most brutal individual can have great moments of compassion; even the gentlest of persons can be incredibly cruel if circumstances give rise to it.

We already know that we all have the mixture of male and female within us; the propensity for men to show their feminine side, and women their masculine side.  If this is the truth, and given the way our bodies and brains form, then one can only surmise that whatever their biology may say to anyone, it is an irrelevance, and psychologically we are all ‘transgender’ to some degree.

Thoughts peoples please.