Archives

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.

Advertisements

Whatever He Said, Bill Nye Does Not Speak For My Gender

Nye.jpeg

Nope. He never said that.

And he would be first to admit that.

There has been a debacle about Bill Nye allegedly contradicting himself in his show Bill Nye Saves the World, in which he says that gender is on a spectrum, with some claiming that in his 1996 show Bill Nye the Science Guy he said that gender is determined by chromosones. It did not take long for the transphobes to get to work, one of whom produced a meme from the show of Bill with the caption “Gender is determined by your chromosones”.

Despite the meme being roundly debunked by Snopes and many other sources on the internet, there are still some trying to claim it was genuine, and denying the gender spectrum.

Let’s get this clear right away. Bill Nye never said one thing about gender being determined by chromosones ~ ever, end of. On the episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy etitled “Genes”, Bill said;

“Our genes are stored in parts of our cells called chromosomes. They look like this. Chromosomes contain all of the genetic information, all of the instructions you need to make a person. Now humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.”

This is what the bigots have latched onto, along with one sentence, not from Nye but rather from actress Amy Broder in a later episode entitled “Possibilities” in which she said;

“You’re either X and X. Girl. Or X and Y. Boy. The chance of becoming either a boy or a girl is always 1 in 2.”

Neither Bill Nye nor Amy Broder were talking about gender at all, they were talking about biological sex. That is what is determined by chromosones, not gender.

But even then the episode in which Broder was speaking was fatally flawed, as it maintains that there is only a biological sex binary. The very existence of babies born intersex tells us this is not so.

In the episode of Bill Nye Saves the World entitled “The Sexual Spectrum”, Bill corrects this by stating;

“Females usually have two Xs and males usually have an X and a Y. But it turns out, about 1 in every 400 pregnancies have a different number of sex chromosomes. Some people only have one sex chromosome, some people have 3, 4 or even 5. For me, I usually feel like I have a lot.”

But then we can be forgiveable to Bill, for the understanding of biological sex was a lot different in 1996 than it is today, and in “The Sexual Spectrum” Bill himself states;

“If you’re like me, and I know I am, you’re still learning about this field of science. We used to think that there were just two settings. Male and female. But it’s actually a lot sexier than that,”

And…

“Take sex. We used to think it was pretty straightforward. X and a Y chromosome for males. Two Xs for females. But we see more combinations than that in real life… …We have to listen to the science. And the science says that we’re all on a spectrum.”

So, Bill Nye himself admits that he is still learning and he is no expert in the field of human biology and gender. And this is important. Let us for a moment imagine that Bill Nye had said that chromosones determine gender.

I really admire Bill Nye for his intelligence, his biting wit and great sense of humour, but just what are his qualifications? Well, Bill is in fact a graduate in mechanical engineering, with all his other scientific knowledge having absolutely no academic qualifications. He also has a hugely successful comedy career behind him.

So in other words ~ and I’m not being cruel here, just truthful ~ Bill Nye is no more qualified to speak about my gender than I am to teach him about the hydraulic resonance suppression tubes he invented for Boeing 747 aircraft, or how to deliver comedy lines to an audience. As an objective scientist, I’m pretty sure Bill himself would agree with that estimation.

Same goes for Amy Broder. She is no more qualified to speak on my gender than I am to teach her about acting. Actually, on second thoughts, having seen her perhaps I could (saucer of milk for Xandra).

And of course, Bill Nye is absolutely correct that science has taken great steps in 21 years, and we now have a much greater understanding of sexuality and gender than we did a generation ago. Hell, as someone over 40 (I’m not saying by how much, dears), I had not even heard of the terms genderfluid and pansexual until a few years ago, generally because they were still relatively unheard of. But when I read up on both, having lived in confusion all my life, they hit me straight between the eyes and I realised “This is ME.” Like Bill, even I am still trying to make sense of it. I’m pretty sure most genderfluid and/or pansexual people feel the same way.

Yet there are those ignoramuses who will continue to deny that there is a gender spectrum and that there is only a gender binary. This makes it especially hard for the genderfluid, because we face this ignorant prejudice and hatred not only from the cishet majority, but also from some within the LGBTQI community, including some transgender people who outright deny the very possibility of someone being genderfluid.

But what such people do not realise is they are playing the bigots game for them. The gender binary argument using chromosones was not too long ago also used by homophobes denying homosexuality or bisexuality. It is still prevalant today among some religious bigots who use the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” line.

People, and science, were wrong about sexuality then. Just as it now known that they were wrong about gender.

And this is the part that infuriates me; that many people, including some very intelligent and otherwise very liberal ones, simply cannot seem to get it into their heads that biological sex and gender are not one and the same thing. They are not and never were. The genitalia on a foetus forms weeks before the brain develops. And despite the fact that there are many guys (both straight and gay) who seem to think through their dicks, it is in the brain that gender is determined, not the genitalia. That is as true for gender as it is for sexuality.

The fact is that there is only one person who is the true expert on their gender; YOU. That is true for all of us, be we cis, transgender, genderfluid, whateva. Therefore not one person has the right to judge, discriminate, or decry the gender identity of another.

Even though I actually think it’s cishet people who are the weird ones, and who are missing out on a whole lot of fun.

Little girl wears dress – Exclusive!

12916358_528128304036105_7884043778344331367_oDo we really need stories like this?

Oh dear. Oh dearie, dear. A 4-year-old transgender girl has started school, in – GASP! SHOCK! HORROR! – a pinafore school dress. It’s the end of the civilization as we know it. The perverts are coming for our children. Michty me, we’ll a’ be murderit in oor beds by the communists!  Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?

The story broke in the media on 21 April 2016, and why it is even a story is beyond me. But nonetheless, three UK comics masquerading as newspapers covered the story, with the usual hyperbole and ignorant and loaded headlines one has come to expect from the British gutter press, and the usual uninformed and abusive comments from their scumbag troglodyte readership (yes dears, I am no slouch at hyperbole myself).

The story surrounds little Logan Symonds, who at age 4 is starting school with her twin brother, Alfie. The only difference is that Alfie will be wearing a boy’s uniform, and Logan will wear a girl’s pinafore dress – and having seen their pics, they are BOTH as cute as buttons. According to mother Emma, Logan has identified as a girl from the age of 18 months, has always played with “girls” toys, and wanted to dress as a girl. Emma says that Logan wanted to wear dresses from an early age, would throw tantrums and even become aggressive when she tried to dress her in boys clothes and even said she hoped her penis would fall off. Eventually she relented, tried letting Logan wear girls clothes, and noticed a great improvement in behaviour from the child. For the twins fourth birthday party Alfie was dressed in a superman outfit, while Logan was dressed in a ‘Frozen’ princess dress  (EEP!  She’s ADORABLE!). Before starting school, Logan told her mother she wanted to be in a dress “like the other girls”.

And so as the media ran with the story, they inevitably ran their headlines, with male pronouns and implied outrage. First off the rank was that darling rag of the British right-wing, the Daily Mail. “Mother allows one of her twin boys, four, to wear a DRESS to school because he has believed he is a girl since he was just 18 months old – while the other son is happy to remain a boy” ranted the headline in the Mail, which was also quick to point out that Emma Symonds is a single mum. Repeating the Mail story almost word for word was the Daily Mirror, supposedly a left-wing newspaper, whose headline thundered “Supportive mum lets son, aged 4, wear skirt to school: ‘It’s a big step for us all”, and the following day the story ran in the Mirror’s Scottish edition, the Daily Record, with the headline “Four-year-old twin boy starts school in a dress after his mum agrees to let him live as a girl”. In all three newspapers, the stories continually refer to Logan as a boy, and with the common use of “he”, “him”, etc.

But if the ignorance of the red tops were not enough, comments from the readers are truly depressing. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of support from Mail readers, much more than the supposedly ‘socialist’ Mirror and Record, but there were still the fair amount of idiots in the Mail.

“This is a psychiatric problem that should have been addressed long ago. That poor little boy has been let down by his mother.”

One wonders just what qualifications this person has in psychiatry, particularly when mum Emma is addressing a psychological issue with Logan in allowing her to be who she is?

“Why all of a sudden these gender issues are coming up? Honestly I’d love to hear from folks who wanted to be the opposite gender when they were kids (for example, this boys age) and how it was handled back then. And how they’re doing now. It’s only these past few years ppl are believing they’re the opposite gender from what they were born and the rest of us are being held hostage to those beliefs and demands.”

It’s coming more to the fore nowadays as society is becoming more educated and accepting of gender issues, and we fought bloody long and hard to achieve that, without any help from the cis community. How was it handled back “then” is easily answered; you were TOLD what gender you were, you had to suppress that and hide it from society, from your friends, even from your family, for fear of rejection and punishment. The results were imprisonment for some, being cast out from family and friends, depression, suicide, and even murder for others – just as it is for a great number of transgender and genderfluid people to this day. You want to hear from folks who questioned their gender from an early age years ago? Try listening to / reading what we have to say.

“18 months old when he declared he wanted to be a girl. Totally ridiculous.”

“Crikey, he could talk well for an 18 month old child then!”

Because of course, had Logan declared at 18 months “I am a boy” that would have been equally “ridiculous” and his vocabulary would have been questioned, wouldn’t it? 18-months-old can express themselves quite clearly; it is adults who only need to listen to them.

From the Mirror:

“I wanted to be a super man when I was a child ? my parents didn’t send me off to space or something.”

More’s the pity they didn’t, dear. And learn some English grammar – PLEASE!

“It sounds genuine but she could be one of those liberal nuts forcing the child.”

Yeah, because that happens all the time, doesn’t it?  No, wait.  It’s the opposite – transgender kids being told they are cisgender – which happens all the time.

“What is going to happen if this carries on, then his hormones kick in and he realises he’s a boy. It’s going to cause nothing but confusion and heartache for all involved. Let him play with what he wants and dress up however, but don’t take him out and let it become who he “thinks” he is.“

The only heartache is when the hormones do kick in, when Logan’s biology is at odds with her psychological gender, and she has to deal with them. The only confusion and heartache worth any consideration are Logan’s – it’s none of anyone else’s damned business. Nooo, don’t take her out. Keep her indoors, allowing her to dress up only indoors, thereby compounding her confusion and heartache over who Logan knows she is.

“my son played with his sisters cars and loved dressing up in dresses at preschool then next minute he would be dressed as a fireman and his sister vice versa.”

Dressing up to play, which children will soon tire off, and wanting to dress according to the gender one identifies with are two completely different things.  Likewise, if it were a ‘phase’ then it’s one that has apparently now lasted 2½ years.

“My daughter has always hated girlie and that is fine, i would not buy her pink clothes and expect her to wear them, at 11 she has a short hairstyle and is happier to wear girls trousers etc but she is a girl and wants to be a girl.”

Or have YOU decided she wants to be a girl? And how shocked are you going to be if she comes out as transgender or lesbian?

I leave the last to the Daily Record, and Scotland, I am so sadly disappointed that you have given the most vitriolic responses:

“Obviously, once Mummy found out she was having twins, she decided she wanted a boy and a girl ! I wonder how she worked out which one she wanted to be the girl, given she gave them both boy’s names ! It’s a worry !”

Because of course mum Emma wanted a daughter so much (except that Logan and Alfie already have an elder sister) that as a single mother, she decided to give both of her twins boys names, when she could have easily have given one of them a girl’s or even ambiguous name, such as Lindsay? I why should it be a worry when it’s not any of your business?

“This four year old probably wants to be superman too. Maybe she should put his underpants on outside his trousers and see how that goes!!”

Perhaps you should put your underpants over your trousers – seeing as a keyboard warrior you have nothing to fill them with? See point above about the difference between dressing up and identifying.

“Fatherless families are destroying the fabric of social order. Men are no longer wanted in a feminist driven society and this story is just another example of it. Guilt oriented women showering their children with ‘support’ because their life choices caused a fatherless family.”

Yes, single mums and the feminists are all to blame, because children need male role models and men are “no longer wanted” (depends on the man, dear – check out my vast collection of Johnny Depp movies; he’s certainly wanted). What a misogynist twat. The person stating this went under the name “Dambustersgm”, which is a reference to the bomber crews of World War II who bombed dams. So, had Logan’s father been in the armed forces and killed in action, would Emma being a single mum still be so offensive to him?

“you are nothing more than a pervert and a peadophile enabler…no doubt you are common purpose or working for an agency… your time is coming.. this is nothing more than abuse and targetting young children….you are nothing but scum” (in response to one supportive commentator)

The overwhelming vast majority of paedophiles (notice I can actually spell it), even those who prey upon little boys, are in fact cisgender heterosexual men, with cishet women second, although the incidence is far lower. Transgender and homosexual men and women are right at the bottom of incidences of child sexual abuse, and a child is much safer in the company of LGBT+ people than in that of the cishet mainstream

“This is irresponsible parenting or at worst child abuse I think it’s the mother that needs professional help.”

Nope. Child abuse is when you force a child to be something they are not, which if mum Emma had forced Logan to identify as male, then she would have been abusing her child. It’s people like this who need professional help, and educating on gender issues.

If I have any issue with the story of Logan, then it’s why it should even be in the media in the first place. Emma Symonds appears to be a very well-informed and supportive mother (although she does still use male pronouns, but I’m guessing that’s a hard habit to break), so if I have any criticism, it would be to ask if she is actually courting this publicity, and if so, just why? And should she read this, I’d like her to understand that’s not in any way an attack, but merely a genuine question.

The stigmatisation of transgender and genderfluid individuals, particularly childwill only end when it is fully understood and accepted as normal. When that happens, the media will not run stories like this, because there will be no copy value in them. But as long as they are ran, complete with ignorant and transphobic headlines and hyperbole, then society is always going to respond with outright bigotry. In the end, the gender of anyone, any child, is nobody’s business but their own, and the only expert on anyone’s gender is the individual themselves, no matter how young or how old they may be.

Transgender Woman Jailed in All-Male Prison

Tara Hudson - the UK state says this is a man

Tara Hudson – the UK state says this is a man

For not having her “papers”.

On Friday, 23 October 2015, transgender woman Tara Hudson admitted a charge of assault at Bath Magistrate’s Court, England.  Handing down sentence, the magistrate ordered that Tara, 26, be imprisoned for 12 weeks in Her Majesty’s Prison, Bristol – an all-male prison.

Why has someone who is to all intents and purposes a woman been placed in an all-male prison?  Because it is claimed that she is ‘legally’ a man, and does not hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Tara Hudson has identified as female since she was a child of 5 years old.  She has lived all her life as a woman.  She has undergone psychological help, she has received hormone treatment and she has undergone gender reassignment surgery.

The English Ministry of Justice however have ruled that Tara has “not engaged with the authorities” by not purchasing a GRC; a certificate issued to a transgender person by a panel (usually all cisgender), for the sum of £30 (US $45), after they have lived post-op for over two years.

Let’s look at it this way; Tara Hudson has lived all her life as a woman.  She underwent her treatment under the state-owned National Health Service – but she hasn’t engaged with the state?  She apparently has a passport in her name with her photograph – but she hasn’t engaged with the state?  She works as a woman and duly pays Income Tax and National Insurance in the name of Tara Hudson – but she hasn’t engaged with the state.

£30 of course is not a lot of money, but it is the principle behind it which is wrong.  Many transgender people are against GRCs on the grounds that they are a “transition tax” and more importantly, they are an infringement on civil liberties.  Being forced to carry a GRC is effectively being forced to carry identity papers, and of course, the details of everyone with a GRC is held on a government database.  If this does not apply to cisgender people, then it is outrageous that it should be expected of trans people.  The peoples of the UK have made it clear before they do not want ID introduced, so to enforce it upon one section of society – one of the most maligned and vulnerable sections of society – is not merely insidious, it is downright disturbing.  And of course there have been more than a few incidences of civil servants losing portable media containing sensitive information, and of government computer systems being hacked.

There are some who feel that the bloody-minded British civil service are making an example of Tara Hudson.  If that is indeed the case, which I fully suspect it to be so, then they are putting a woman in an obvious place of danger of assault, up to and including rape.

Moreover the Ministry of Justice, by placing Tara in an all-male prison, is ignoring their own 2011 guidelines.  These rule that where there is no GRC, there are many factors to take into account. Identity. Steps taken. Risk to the prisoner. To other prisoners. All of which are meant to be addressed before the guilty party arrives at prison.

Tara Hudson satisfies all the above criteria.  Indeed, one only take a look at her to tell she is a woman.  Yet the Ministry of Justice, in the typically arrogant, bureaucratic style of the British civil service, is ignoring it all, and have put a woman in an all too obvious place of extreme danger.

But it gets worse.  A HM Prisons spokesperson 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.”  However, I was listening to a radio show about the story, and a prison officer phoned in, under an assumed name, and explained what that meant.  He stated that all too often transgender and gay inmates are placed in the secure units – along with all the child sex offenders.  So not only has Tara Hudson been sent to an all-male prison, but there is every chance she has been locked up with all the kiddy-fiddling nonces in the place.  The inference of this is not lost on me; that trans and gay prisoners are seen by the authorities as no different from paedophiles.  It is nothing short of state-sponsored transphobia and homophobia.

If that is the case, then not only is that an insult upon Tara’s character as a trans woman – as a woman really – but the mental torture of that fact alone could cause extreme trauma, possibly ending in long-term or even permanent psychological damage.  As it is, Tara’s mother has stated the does not think her daughter will cope well at all with being placed in an all-male prison.

And if Tara is not in the secure unit, then anyone with a shred of decency should be rightly concerned about her safety.  Not least because HMP Bristol was the subject of a damning report in February, which recorded a high incidence of violence higher than in other similar prisons, and most worrying of all for Tara Hudson, an admission that there was not “enough being done to protect some vulnerable prisoners”.

What will the Ministry of Justice say when Tara Hudson suffers continual verbal abuse?  What will they say when Tara suffers considerable psychological trauma?  What will they say when she is raped?

A petition has been raised on Change (link below), asking Bristol Magistrates, the Ministry of Justice and the British Judicial system, to reverse their decision on sending Tara Hudson to an all-male prison.  Nobody is asking for Tara to be set free.  She admitted her crime and is willing to do the time.  All we who back her ask is that the law acts appropriately and accordingly, by placing a woman in an all-female prison.

Should Tara Hudson have to serve out her sentence in HMP Bristol, however, I only hope that upon her release she refuses to pay another penny in Income Tax, and when Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs sends her a demand, she replies that they must have the wrong person – as the UK state does not recognise that she exists.


The Change petition can be found below.  I urge all my followers, particularly those in the UK, to please sign and share this:

https://www.change.org/p/bath-magistrates-prison-govenor-of-hm-prison-bristol-british-judicial-system-stop-transgender-woman-tara-hudson-from-being-sent-to-an-all-male-prison-in-bristol?recruiter=29161782&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

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