Archive | November 2015

I’m Genderqueer, and I won’t boycott Zoolander 2

$$-ALL

Benerdict Cumberbatch as “All”

Complainants don’t know what they are talking about.

It has been 14 years since ‘Zoolander’ was released, a zany comedy which mocks the modelling industry, in which Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander, a narcissistic and slow-witted male model who becomes the unwitting tool in a plot to kill the Malaysian Prime Minister.

We’ve waited a long time for the sequel, which is due out next year and in which Benerdict Cumberbatch plays the latest top model, called All, who is of a heavily androgynous appearance.

No sooner did the trailer for Zoolander 2 appear than a bunch of keyboard social warriors got all butthurt about the character of All, claiming that it mocks non-binary people and that a genderfluid actor should have played the part, instead of the cisgender Cumberbatch.  So up in arms are some commentators, that a petition has been launched to boycott Zoolander 2 and complaining to the makers, Paramount Pictures about their portrayal of All.

So, having found the petition, it appears the person who started it does not know what the hell she is talking about – oh there’s a surprise – or anything at all about gender issues – no surprise their either.

“In the “Zoolander 2″ trailer, an androgynous character played by Benedict Cumberbatch is asked by Zoolander and Hansel if he is a ‘male or female model’, and if they ‘have a hot dog or a bun,” bemoans petitioner Sarah Rose on Care2Petitions, “Additionally, Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals. This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.

“If the producers and screenwriters of Zoolander wanted to provide social commentary on the presence of trans/androgyne individuals in the fashion industry, they could have approached models like Andreja Pejic to be in the film. By hiring a cis actor to play a non-binary individual in a clearly negative way, they film endorses harmful and dangerous perceptions of the queer community at large.

“Tell Paramount Pictures, Ben Stiller, and Benedict Cumberbatch that mocking transgender/androgyne/gender fluid individuals is not okay – sign this petition to pledge to boycott the film!”

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who haunt the internet apparently looking for something to complain about.  They remind me of the Socialist Worker’s Party, who are always looking for this week’s ’cause’, and moving onto whatever is topical / popular the following week.

It also never fails to amaze me just how many of these people get their facts wrong, or do not know what they are talking about.  So if we are going to mention gender bigotry, I am going to pick Sarah Rose up herself on that very topic.

Notice how in the first paragraph above, she states “Additionally, Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals.”  In the second paragraph she says “trans/androgyne” and “hiring a cis actor to play a non-binary individual” and in the final paragraph she states “mocking transgender/androgyne/gender fluid individuals is not okay”.

By making these statements, it is clear that Sarah Rose equates all three groups – transgender, genderfluid, and androgynous – to be one and the same. This is so much ignorance, it is vertigo-enducing. And what is the name for making generalisations and assumptions based on uninformed ignorance? Bigotry, that’s what.

Some transgender people appear androgynous, as do many genderqueer people. Many do not. Indeed, I am sure that many of my trans and non-binary friends here shall, like me, be bloody furious about any inference that we are androgynous, especially after the time and money we put into appearing feminine.

Some non-binary people appear male, some appear female, some appear androgynous, and the same pertains to transgender people (I have to admit though, all my trans and genderfluid friends here are drop-dead gorgeous women – luv you all). They are not and never shall be all one and the same thing. Hands up all my trans readers who consider themselves genderqueer. Hands up all my genderfluid readers who consider themselves trans. Hands up all of you who think you are “androgynous”. Nobody? No, thought not.

And of course, by equal measure, there are those who appear androgynous but who are in fact cisgender. My own preference for men is not hunks, but androgynous ‘pretty boys’. For instance, musically I can’t stand that talentless fuck Justin Bieber (who also appears in Zoolander 2), but I would jump him at a moment’s unnotice.

This is an important distinction. There are scenes in the original Zoolander movie where Derek Zoolander and his adversary-come-friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) appear androgynous, while the evil Mugatu (Will Farrell) is of androgynous appearance throughout the movie. Strangely enough David Bowie, whom I can recall being very androgynous in the 1970s, had no problem with having a cameo in that movie.

And this is where the complainants appear to be missing the point of the movie. Many male models do indeed appear androgynous. There is always work in the modelling industry for young pretty boys of ambiguous gender. Don’t tell me there’s not, dears – I’ve seen more than my fair share of them. But because of the shallow nature of modelling, the Zoolander movies aim to parody that shallowness and the narcissism of the modelling industry. Therefore, if Sarah Rose and others think that Benerdict Cumberbatch’s portrayal is a “cartoonish mockery”, I suggest that she go and actually have a look at some (not all – before the keyboard warriors jump on my back) male models who do appear androgynous and some of whom are indeed “cartoonish”. I am reminded of a line from a Crass song “The painted mask of ugly perfection.”

I will go further, it could be said that Sarah Rose is guilty of bigotry by her use of the term “the queer community”. Now, I have read one of my friends here suggesting that instead of the steadily growing abbreviation of LGBTQIA (try making a word out of that in Scrabble), we all just use the term “queer”, and I happen to agree with that. However, for the LGBT+ community to refer to themselves thus is not in common usage, and it could be argued that to use the term ‘queer’ in this way still carries negative connotations. Unless of course, she was meaning the shortened version for genderqueer, which again would be wrongly conflating transgender and androgynous with genderfluid.

So, why not have a genderfluid actor play the part? Would Sarah Rose and her supporters be happy with that? Yes? Really? Strange that, because at first she complains of the comments directed at All, “if he is a ‘male or female model’, and if they ‘have a hot dog or a bun'”, then states that the role should not have been played by a cisgender actor. So, if the role was played by a non-binary actor, would that have made the comments okay? Actually, it could be argued that some non-binary actors would not play the role because of comments which could be construed as derogatory.

Incidentally, as a genderqueer pansexual crossdresser, I don’t have any problems whatsoever with those comments and take them in the humorous context they are intended. But then I’m grown up enough not to throw a hissy fit over the slightest little comment.

Interesting also that she suggests model Andreja Pejic as a replacement for Cumberbatch. Why not? Because Pejic is a model, not a fucking actor. Strutting on a catwalk and posing for cameras is no guarantee of acting ability, and there are plenty of models-turned-actors who have proven that. Can we take it that Sarah Rose could not think of any genderfluid actors? Has she never heard of Eddie Izzard? Laverne Cox? Ruby Rose? Jaden Smith (Will Smith’s son has recently been very active in challenging the gender binary)? I could mention many more, but then, unlike the Butthurt Brigade, I’m interested in cinema.

Zoolander is one of my favourite comedy movies purely because of it’s zany, wicked and at times cruel humour.  As a genderqueer person, I have absolutely no problems with Zoolander 2, which no doubt will have me as much in tears of laughter as the original, and I can’t wait for it to come out.  And I have no doubt a great many other non-binary people feel the same way.

When cisgender actor Eddie Redmayne played trans woman Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, that was a legitimate cause for complaint, as was Elle Fanning playing the lead of a trans man in About Ray. Both of these were serious movies concerning the struggles which transgender people face, and quite rightly should have been played by transgender actors. Zoolander does not fall into the same category. Benerdict Cumberbatch is not playing a lead role, but a supporting one, in a comedy.  The movie does not seek to  “provide social commentary on the presence of trans/androgyne individuals in the fashion industry” but rather to parody and send up one of the most absurd industries on the face of the planet.

And if the social justice warriors cannot realise that, and cannot differentiate between transgender, genderqueer, and androgynous, then I suggest they attend a course at the Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can’t Read Good (and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too).

 


 Zoolander 2 Trailer:

Advertisements

“a dystopian LGBTI adventure novel”

Homophobe on Tumblr gets her ass handed to her.

When Tumblr user ‘webelieveinyoukris’  (I know, don’t go there, dears) posted a rant, attempting to use the “nature” argument against gays and lesbians, I don’t think she was quite prepared for the backlash.

The user having given an anology of three islands – straight, gay and lesbian – had her argument ridiculed when several LGBT+ people launched into a hilarious diatribe based around her theme.

Me?  I’m Captain Xandra, the Pansexual Pirate from Crossdresser Cove, in the Genderqueer Archipelago.  I always had a thing about sailors, and I have been known to hang around wet buoys.

Read the whole thread below:

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/this-homophobic-tumblr-post-transformed-into-a-dystopian-lgbti-adventure-novel-and-it-is-amazing/#gs.7xVYCJA

Trans Woman Found Dead in Male Prison

$$-Vicky-Thompson

Vicky Thompson

Prisoner had threatened suicide.

On Friday, 13 November 2015, trans woman Vicky Thompson was found dead in her cell at the all-male Armley Prison in Leeds, England, having apparently committed suicide. Her Majesty’s Prison Service (which runs prisons in England and Wales) announced her death six days later, on the evening of Thursday, 19 November, only hours before the start of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“HMP Leeds prisoner Vicky Thompson was found unresponsive on the evening of Friday, 13 November,” said a Prison Service spokesman, “Staff and paramedics attempted resuscitation but she was pronounced dead at 21:10 GMT. As with all deaths in custody there will be an investigation by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman”.

Vicky, who had identified as female since her early teens but had not undergone gender reassignment surgery, had previously been incarcerated in Her Majesty’s Prison Leeds on a 12 month sentence, which had been reduced to a suspended sentence.  But when she broke the conditions of that, imprisonment was invoked. According to her boyfriend, Robert Steele, she had received harassment and bullying from the other prisoners, because she dressed as a female. Vicky had said that if she were returned to HMP Leeds, she would commit suicide. Her solicitor, Mohammed Hussain, had told the trial judge that Vicky Thompson was “essentially a woman”, that she was a vulnerable person, and pleaded for her to be placed in a women’s prison. Those pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was returned to HMP Leeds.

Vicky Thompson was only 21 when she took her own life.

I am not just angry today, I am FUCKING LIVID with rage. This girl’s death comes only weeks after the case of trans woman Tara Hudson, whom it took a public campaign to be moved from all-male HMP Bristol to a women’s prison. It is all too obvious that the Prison Service and the British government learned NOTHING from that case, and with tragic consequences.

I do not hold out many hopes for the investigation into Vicky’s death either. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman service will look into it from the perspective of cisgender privilege and no doubt shall decide that it was ‘tragic’ but ‘unavoidable’. When the English judiciary were petitioned to move Tara Hudson to a female prison, they immediately washed their hands of the matter and claimed that it was the responsibility of the Prison Service which prisons offenders should be allocated to. I have no doubt the so-called ‘independent’ ombudsman will reach the same conclusion. This is so much shifting the blame BULLSHIT.

Yes, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, just like the Scottish Prison Service, decide which correctional establishments to place convicted offenders in. However, it is part of the responsibilities of the judiciary to consider particular circumstances of each offender, and where it is deemed necessary to make recommendations to the Prison Service based upon those circumstances. That is precisely why Vicky Thompson’s solicitor underlined her vulnerability and asked for her to be placed in a female prison. The judge, whose name has not been disclosed, cannot claim that they were not made aware of the special circumstances surrounding Vicky, which he completely failed to act upon.

But the judge was not the only person to fail Vicky. Questions also need to be asked as to why the Prison Service managed to fail a vulnerable prisoner, under their very own guidelines, under not one but two circumstances. In the Tara Hudson case, a BBC spokesman told the BBC “It is longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognised gender. There are strict rules in place to ensure transsexual prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.” Vicky Thompson had previously complained of harassment and bullying from other prisoners, which proves that HMP Leeds failed upon that commitment. Secondly, Vicky was a known suicide risk, and yet somehow managed to take her own life. How was this able to happen? Why was a vulnerable prison apparently not on suicide watch? HMP Leeds therefore failed in their duties on that count as well.

As to the first criteria, that of recognised gender, the Prison Service cannot claim to know that Vicky identified as a woman, and if they even attempt that, then they will immediately make liars of themselves, for their statement announcing her death gave her name as “Vicky Thompson” – her chosen female name – and referred to her as “she”. We likewise know that she wore ‘female’ clothing in the prison. So, they have already identified Vicky as female. But then, one only need look at photographs of Vicky to tell she was a woman. Watch out for denials based on all the above in the forthcoming whitewash, sorry, I mean investigation.

It has been announced that the government is to review the criteria under which transgender offenders are jailed. It is not before time, but unless the current Conservative government, which does not have one transgender Member of Parliament, takes strong advice from the transgender community, then I do not hold out much hope for that either.

Certainly, the current criteria surrounding the imprisonment of transgender offenders is an absurdity and a bureaucratic trap, which far too many fall into. The current rules only recognise gender by biological basis and whether or not a prisoner has undergone gender reassignment surgery, and if so, they can prove that.

The rules state that if a transgender prisoner carries a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) or an altered birth certificate, then they shall be placed in a prison according to their recognised gender. Where no GRC is available, gender is determined by birth certificate.

Herein lie the problems. For a start a birth certificate can only be changed if the person has a GRC. Tara Hudson had undergone reassignment but did not carry a GRC. Therefore, as her birth certificate stated she was born male, despite having fully-formed breasts and female genitalia, she was placed in male prison.

GRCs are available, for a fee, only to transgender people who have undergone gender reassignment and lived under their chosen gender for two years or more. This of course requires the release of certain medical records to prove they have undergone reassignment and when. Many transgender people are against GRCs as they see them as governmental intrusion into their private lives and a “trans tax”. If you are cisgender and do not see a problem with GRCs, consider how you would feel if you had to release your medical records and pay to prove your gender. Then (hopefully) you will see how these rules single out one of the most maligned, misunderstood, and vulnerable sections of society, effectively coercing them – and only them – to carry “identity papers”, and pay for that to boot. The GRC is an insult to the transgender community.

Now, let’s look at Vicky Thompson in relation to those rules. She was 21 when she took her life, so given the slow bureaucracy of the English judicial system, we can safely assume she was at least 20 years old when first convicted. Gender reassignment surgery in England is only available for adults over 18 years of age. Before surgery is decided and carried out, there are several steps a transgender person has to go through, including years of psychotherapy, counselling, reviews, then hormonal treatment. In short, Vicky at 20 years old simply would not have had the time to have had the above steps, then undergo gender reassignment surgery and then wait the two years to obtain a GRC. We see here how the GRC rule puts transgender young offenders and older teenagers / early 20s at a distinct disadvantage.

Not that the present government would ever take advice from a slightly-to-the-left-of-Leon-Trotsky genderqueer pansexual like myself, but the recommendations on transgender offenders seems simple enough to me. Gender is not about what may or may not be dangling between your legs. If someone identifies as a woman, dresses like a woman, looks like a woman, and has done for years, they are a woman, and the opposite of all the above for transgender men. If something looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you can be fairly sure it’s not a fucking ostrich. That is the only criteria any prisoner, transgender or cisgender, needs to be categorised by.

Until the government wakes up to that, there are going to be more cases of trangender prisoners placed in the wrong environment, and thereby put in a place of danger both from other prisoners and themselves.

As it is, suicide is a terrible thing for anyone to do. I don’t think it’s the “coward’s way out”. Far from it, I think anyone who takes their own life has to be very brave indeed to take that step. I therefore do not nor cannot condemn a 21 year old girl, driven to despair after everybody in authority ignored her, to end it all.

No, I don’t blame Vicky Thompson for her own death.

I BLAME the staff of HMP Leeds.
I BLAME Her Majesty’s Prison Service.
I BLAME the judge who ignored all advice.
I BLAME the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP.
I BLAME the British Prime Minister, David Cameron MP.

YOU ALL FAILED VICKY THOMPSON. YOU ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR HER DEATH.

GO DOWN YOU MURDERERS. GO DOWN!

Scotland Changes Foreign Civil Partnerships to Equal Marriages

gay-scotland-flag-Scottish Government takes another progressive step.

From Monday, 2 November 2015, same-sex couples in civil partnerships registered outside Scotland will be able to have them converted to marriages in the country.  Previously only civil partnerships registered in Scotland were able to be thus converted.

The implementation of this legislation is one more extremely progressive step of the devolved Scottish Government, following the implementation of the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act 2014 coming into power.  Since the Act became law, more than 1000 same-sex couples have married or had their civil partnerships turned into marriages in Scotland.

Local Government Minister of the Scottish National Party (SNP) administration, Marco Biagi MSP stated “We are sending a powerful message out about the kind of country we are – one which is incredibly proud that same-sex couples can show their love and commitment to each other by getting married.

“By passing historic legislation last year, and now extending it to include those who had a civil partnership outwith Scotland, we are demonstrating to the world how importantly Scotland views equality.”

The move has likewise been welcomed by Scottish LGBT+ charity Equality Network.  Tim Hopkins, Director of Equality Network, stated  “We very much welcome this change, which is a small but important piece of unfinished business from the equal marriage legislation last year.

“Without this, same-sex couples living in Scotland who have registered a civil partnership outwith Scotland would be unable to marry in Scotland unless they live apart for a year first to dissolve their civil partnership. That’s obviously not an option for most couples, and now they will be able to marry in the usual way, changing their civil partnership directly to a marriage.

“The number of couples in this situation is relatively small, but the value of the change to them is huge.”

There is currently no obligation upon same-sex couples in civil partnerships to change them to marriage in Scotland, and it remains a purely personal choice.