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Germaine Greer is not a Woman

Claims to know how women should look, sound and behave

Claims to know how women should look, sound and behave

And that’s by her own definition

There is a controversy going on in the UK over whether feminist author and celebrity Germaine Greer should have been allowed to speak at Cardiff University, Wales, on 18 November.

Greer, now 73, was once the doyen of the feminist movement, whose 1970 book The Female Eunuch, became an instant bestseller and led many women to realise their full potential as individuals.  A liberation feminist rather than an equality feminist, in which she believes women’s liberation means embracing sex differences in a positive fashion – a struggle for the freedom of women to “define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate.” (Germaine Greer, “The Whole Woman”, 1999)

So far, so hoopy.  That is a very positive goal, which I personally admire and can fully agree with.

Unfortunately, Greer’s attitude to male to female transgender people is far from laudable.  Indeed, she goes as far as to deny the very existence of trans people, which has caused the controversy over her intended speech at Cardiff.  A petition was started asking her to be banned.  In the event, Greer cancelled the talk herself.

The entire debacle started back in 2009, when Greer wrote an article for the UK newspaper, The Guardian, in which she stated that trans women “seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so.  We pretend that all the people passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.”

There it is, girls; every one of you trans women are suffering delusions.  One can only wonder what Germaine Greer makes of crossdressing genderfluid pansexuals like myself.  But then, I don’t even need to ask.  For in a speech at Cambridge University in January, she stated that trans women know what it is like “to have a big, hairy, smelly vagina”.

Can we take it from that statement that Germaine Greer defines her womanhood (and every other woman’s) by her genitalia?  Excuse me, but isn’t a huge part of liberation feminism fighting the sexualisation of women?

Not for Greer, it appears, for she goes further.  She stated both in 1999 and 2009,  “No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight.”

This is the oft-repeated transphobic assertion that trans women are not real women, because they can neither ovulate or give birth. The fact that Germaine Greer is unrepentant over these ill-chosen words concern me greatly, and I wonder if she actually realises the full crassness of her statement.  For by saying such, she not only deeply insults trans women, but also infertile women.  Even if not doing it directly, she is defining what a woman is by her ability to ovulate and give birth.

And given that, I am more than willing to turn that right around on Germaine Greer.  For if she wants to define women thus, then given her age I would imagine that she no longer able to menstruate and I would be very surprised if she ever gave birth to a child now.  Therefore, by her very own narrow definition, Germaine Greer is no longer a woman.

That is of course, a nonsense.  But it is playing Greer at her own game, just like all the other TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists).

And it is an important nonsense.  What qualifies this Australian former convent school girl (oh, there’s a fucking surprise), with qualifications in English and French and an honourary doctorate alone, to speak on anyone’s gender except her own?  Absolutely nothing.  Indeed, even if she had qualifications in medicine or psychology, she still would not be qualified to say who is and who is not a woman.  For the only person who is an individual on their gender is that person themselves, whether they have a penis, a vagina (big, hairy and smelly or not), or both.

Now there’s a thing; what does Germaine Greer say about intersex individuals?  What does she say pseudohermaphroditism, where the testes do not drop but grow inside the (female) body?  Do we even want to know?  Probably not.  Like trans women, she probably claims they don’t exist.

Amidst all this, Germaine Greer denies being transphobic.  Says the woman who made all the above statements, and has also recently accused Caitlyn Jenner of “stealing the limelight” from Kim Kardashian, and that get this, “misogyny played a big part” in the decision of Glamour magazine to name Caitlyn Jenner their Woman of the Year.  Of course, Greer’s denial of being transphobic is not akin to the person who says “I’m not a racist, but…”.  No, it’s much more insidious, because it is again based upon her complete denial of the existence of trans women.  When asked about transphobia, she told The Cambridge Student magazine “I didn’t know there was such a thing. Arachnaphobia, yes. Transphobia, no.”

Really Germaine?  Tell that to the trans women who have been shunned by their loved ones, the ones who have been driven out of their neighbourhoods, the ones who daily live with abuse, the ones who have been threatened, the ones who have been beaten, and to the loved ones of the trans women who have been killed.  That is the reality millions of trans women (and men) face every day, and to make flippant remarks about arachnophobia are not only not funny, they are disgusting.

Meanwhile, the middle class dahlings of The Guardian are trying to claim that Silencing Germaine Greer will let prejudice against trans people flourish (Guardian, 25 October).  In a disingenuous article under the above heading, Zoe Williams of The Guardian tried to claim that “it is precisely because there is still so much prejudice against trans people that nobody should be silenced.”  What?  In the same way that allowing white supremacists a platform will put a stop to racism?  That allowing jihadists to speak will end Islamic extremism?  That allowing a fundamentalist Christian to speak on God’s ‘role’ for women will eradicate misogyny.  Not a bit of it.  Hate speech is hate speech, however it is dressed up, and deserves to be shut down wherever possible.  This is precisely why Cardiff University has rules against certain speakers who spread hate, which should have made the petition completely unnecessary in the first place.

Some have claimed that Greer’s talk was to be on Women in Power and nothing to do with trans issues.  Given this entire recent debacle – and Greer’s own words against Caitlyn Jenner – it is unintelligent to even imagine she would not have touched on the subject.

Germaine Greer of course is having a grand old time playing the martyr now.  “I was going to talk about women and power, because I think there is a lot of triumphalist [sic] talk that masks the real historic situation,” she told BBC News, “And apparently people have decided that because I don’t think that post-operative transgender men are women I’m not to be allowed to talk.”  Aww, poor Germaine – not allowed to spread her hate speech, which every TERF on the face of the planet would lap up, and which could end in more attacks upon trans women.

But as we can see, she remains unrepentant, which she made clear to the BBC by stating, “a great many women” who are cisgender think that trans women do not “look like, sound like or behave like women”.

Well firstly, I’m sure most if not all of my readers are only too painfully aware of the ignorance and prejudice which cis privilege affords.  That no sooner backs up Greer’s argument.  There are many straight people who deny that some people are born homosexual, but that does not mean that lesbians and gays do not exist.  Germaine Greer is far from either ignorant nor stupid, therefore when she makes such a crass statement, one can only surmise that she is speaking from pure blind transphobic bigotry.

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, I was unaware that there was / is any particular way for women to look, sound, or behave.  Far from it, I say that women come in all shapes and sizes, with many different looks, many different voices, and who follow many different behaviours.  That’s what makes them individuals, and one can only wonder what qualifies Germaine Greer – or any these other cis women she claims to speak for – to dictate and define how a woman should look, sound or behave?

But then, I ask that because I am a liberation feminist.  Germaine Greer, once one of the most important voices of feminism, is nothing today but yet one more cis bigot, and a sad parody of her former self.

Steph Holmes / Chrysalis: An apology

I recently posted an article which claimed, based on newspaper reports, that the Trans charity Chrysalis had lodged a complaint with police over a children’s hospice running a drag fun run, claiming to describe it as “drag” was a hate crime.

I will admit to having been misled by press reports over this story in the Daily Telegraph.  In fairness, however, the story was repeated in Pink News, whom I would suggest really should research the facts before copying the story from a right-wing newspaper verbatim.

I have since been contacted by Steph Holmes of Chrysalis acquainting me with the full facts of the story.  She asserts that neither she nor anyone at Chrysalis lodged any such complaint with Lancashire Police.  The entire premise of any such police complaint appears to be a complete fabrication on the part of the media.

Better I think to let Steph explain in her own words:

Neither Chrysalis nor any representative of it reported the event to police. Neither Chrysalis nor any representative of it has been contacted by Derrian House. Neither Chrysalis nor any representative of it wanted the charity event stopped.

It was Derrian House that asked the press to remove the word ‘drag’ from press reports about the race. Chrysalis were OK with it being drag – it’s a tradition as older than the panto dames theme that they finally changed it to. We only objected to the comments made by Derrian House’s representative, and asked that they change the premise of the race. This they did within a couple of days and the race went ahead recently. I hope it made a great deal of money for this extremely worthy cause.

Meanwhile, of the British national newspapers that ran this story without fact checking, one withdrew the story straight away and the other has printed a retraction because of the factual errors.

Incidentally, I was inundated with hate mail briefly until the truth came out, some of it very threatening. Stupidest of all, I was accused of homophobia – I’m a lesbian.

Steph attaches the links to two news stories; one about threats she received, and the other of Manchester Pride, which she took part in, despite those threats.

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-activist-fears-for-her-safety-after-false-claims-she-tried-to-ban-drag-fun-run/

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/here-are-the-18-best-pictures-from-the-manchester-pride-parade/

It was never my intention to deliberately misrepresent either Steph Holmes or Chrysalis and I shall freely admit I got this one badly wrong.  For that I offer my deepest apologies to Steph personally, and Chrysalis as a whole.  I truly am sorry.

Finally, I would say that if anyone sent Steph or anyone else at Chrysalis hate mail and / or threats as a result of reading my article, then I not only say shame upon you, but please stay the hell away from my pages.  Cyberbullies are no friends of Xandra.

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

Ugly Bitch Uses Bigoted Language in Attack on Toddler

Janet Street Porter

Janet Street Porter

Physician heal thyself, Janet

Hello dears.  I would like to make it clear to all my readers that I am a diehard republican; I want to see an end to monarchies, everywhere, and the British monarchy in particular.  I am not nasty about it, and I wish no member of the royal family any ill-doing.  That is not my way.  Please do not even attempt to post your arguments for retaining a monarchy, as I shall not approve them.  Undemocratic of me?  Yeah, how democratic is the monarchy?  I couldn’t care less if a monarch costs less than a president (which I sincerely doubt), I believe anyone becoming head of state by accident of birth is long-outdated feudalism which has no place in modern society.

And with that rant out of the way, I hope you all understand that his article is not in defence of little Prince George because he is sometingth in line to the throne; it is to defend him as a little boy, and to speak out on someone who claims to have socialist principles using bigotry to attack him.

Prince George, son of Prince William, celebrated his second birthday on 22 July.  On the woman’s magazine programme Loose Women on the UK’s ITV television channel, referring to a photo of George with his father, the panel all wished him a happy birthday.  All apart from celebrity journalist (?) and TV presenter, Janet Street Porter, who downright refused to do so.  Instead Porter shocked the panel by stating “Quite frankly he looks like a cross-dressing millionaire. He does, he’s a millionaire, and he’s got a girl’s blouse on!  All over the country it’s other two-year-old’s birthday’s, so happy birthday commoners!”

Some republicans were no doubt agreeing with Ms Porter, but not this one.   By deriding George because of his attire as “cross-dressing” and “he’s got a girl’s blouse on”, she has immediately chosen to castigate him because his attire appears feminine in her eyes.  And so what if it was feminine?  So what if it was a girl’s blouse?  He’s two years old, for christ’s sake.  How many toddlers play “dress-up” and don attire that is feminine, perhaps even girl’s clothing?  Quite a large proportion I would guess.  Show me the little boy who is not allowed to do so and I shall show you a child whose expression and individuality is being suppressed by ignorant, homophobic and transphobic adults.

And this is an important point.  Just who do Janet Street Porter’s words help?  Nobody but herself to make a cheap political point.  They certainly do not help the cause against homophobia and transphobia, as she is merely reinforcing ignorant, bigoted stereotypes and abetting those who ascribe to them.  She does not help LGBTQI children, as her words will be repeated by many bullies who pick on such children up and down the country.  She does not help the progress of changing cishet attitudes to the LGBTQI community, far from it she merely helps to entrench bigotry.

What if Prince George did turn out to be transgender or genderqueer?  Do her words help either camps?  Or do they merely further abet a monarchy which for hundreds of years has made excuses and downright lied about their own LGBTQI members, when it’s been obvious to all that some kings and princes have been FABULOUS!?  To this day there are apologists who try to claim that England’s King Edward II merely had a ‘loving friendship’ with his favourite, Piers Gaveston.  Hmm, except that Edward dressed outrageously, gave Gaveston – who was equally fabulous – all the queen’s jewels, and would enter court with Gaveston on his arm, while the queen walked behind.  And of course, we all know what goes on in the expensive fee-paying schools princes are sent to, yet the establishment and monarchists will flatly deny that any royal prince has never sought a ‘little comfort’ from another boy while at any such school.

And as long as the establishment, the monarchy and their supporters are pedalling such utter guff, they make being anything other than cishet appear abnormal.  And thus accusations of cross-dressing are used to smear others by ignorant and hateful bigots – like Janet Street Porter. She does no favours to socialism, because she has actively chosen to single out a 2-year-old and treat him as different from every other toddler, which is hardly a socialist principle.  Neither does she help republicanism because she has decided to target a child far too young to understand his position in the establishment.

Put Prince George in a nursery full of kids of the same age from council schemes and high-rise flats and he would no doubt play with them and make little friends (and little enemies), as any toddler would.  Children that young are like that – they have no side with them.

“An old dog will always love you, though you sometimes make mistakes.
God bless the little children, while they’re still too young to hate.
Ain’t nothin’ in this world is worth a single dime,
‘cept old dogs and little children, and some watermelon wine.”
(Tom T Hall, “Watermelon Wine”)

So, seeing as she is so perfect, so holier-than-thou, I decided to do a little digging about Janet Street Porter.  Seems Ms Porter isn’t short of a few bob herself, with one commentator stating that she is worth around £6 million.  What we do know is that she has three homes.  Oh such great socialist principles.

So Janet, dear, should you stumble upon this and are reading it, given that you have so much money, for fuck’s sake go spend some of it on decent dental work done.  Not only do you look like a fucking horse every time you open your mouth, it affects your speech and you sound like you’re chewing a fucking toffee every time you talk.

And surely someone with your assets could afford a plastic surgeon?  Go get a fucking nose job, for fuck’s sake.  The last time I saw a nose like that was at the Museum of Flight, where I saw Concorde.  I mean, really, how can you even kiss someone with that monstrosity in the way?  Not that anyone would ever wish to kiss an ugly hag like you.

At least you could do something about that hair of yours.  No!  Dyeing it that shade of red does not help, it only makes matter worse.  As for the top you were wearing on Loose Women, I am sure my mum had fibreglass curtains just like that in the 1970s.  And with what appear to be jogging bottoms, showing off just how big your bum is?  Really?  Do humanity a favour and go see a fashion expert, because – dang!

Not nice, is it dears?

Of course, I don’t mean a word of it.  But it shows that if I choose to, I can be a far bigger bitch than Janet Street Porter, and I will only use that bitchiness when I think someone deserves it.

And the huge difference is?  I would never be a complete bitch to a 2-year-old toddler, no matter who their family happens to be.  Unlike Janet Street Porter, I am simply not that mean.

Finally, Prince George’s his top is not a girl’s blouse – the buttons are on the right, but then it has long been commonplace, especially among the gentry, to dress their little ones in clothing which appear feminine.  Indeed, 150 years ago little boys were still being dressed in dresses until they reached school age.

Oh, and he is simply adorable in that pic.  But then, I’m not seeing two members of the royal family; I am only seeing a very happy wee boy, who obviously loves his daddy, and who is well-loved in return.

Belated happy birthday George, from Auntie Xandra.  xx

George and William

George and William

The Transphobic Ignorance of the Wee Free Moderator

Andy Murray - definitely cute, but not trans

Andy Murray – definitely cute, but not trans

Scottish clergyman’s distinct lack of Christian charity

The Reverend David A Robertson was recently invested as the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, a small church in Scotland which carries a very big voice.  With a membership of 13,000, it has long been renowned for their strict Presbyterian views, Sabbatarianism and ‘dour’ outlook on life.  To say it is a controversial denomination would be an understatement.

Not least controversial among its members is Reverend Robertson, who while trying to claim that he reaches out to all, has at times made statements against the LGBT community, atheists and secularists, which can hardly be described as full of Christian charity.  In his latest article in his blog, The Wee Flea, (a small, irritating, disease-spreading parasite – how very apt) however, I am sure many of my followers shall agree he goes way too far.

In his article, End of Term Report, Rev Robertson – sounding more like American evangelist Pat Robertson – states;

“And the thought also struck me – if Andy Murray begins to realise in a couple of years that he is not going to win any more mens tournaments, why can’t he just do a Bruce, say he feels like a woman, call himself Andrina and enter the women’s Wimbledon and get the prize money that way?”

Well, I can think of several reasons why he would not undergo gender reassignment, not least of which is the fact that Scotland’s wonderful Andy Murray (tennis playing star for those not in the know, dears) is not transgender.  If he were, I have no doubt that he would have done something about that many years ago.  I would also guess that his relationship with his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears and their recent marriage would never have happened.  Indeed, if Andy were transgender, I reckon Kim would be somewhat disillusioned (and given that he’s such a pretty boy, so would I).

The reasoning behind Davy Baby’s thinking is that he cannot and will not accept that being transgender is natural and normal.  Rev Robertson lives in a black and white world where if someone is born with a vulva, they female, and if someone is born with a penis, they are male.  He refuses to accept that gender and sexuality have more to do with psychology than they do any biological factors, and that both are decided in the womb.  As far as he is concerned, his God made us to be male and female, and that is the end of it.

And of course his argument immediately falls flat on its face when one considers babies who are born intersex, with both male and female genitalia.  If that is the work of his God, then there goes the conservative Christian black and white view of the world straight out of the window.  Hmmm.  Male and female created He them, perhap?

So the question is, faced with an intersex baby, would David Robertson have that child operated upon to define one gender (and thereby supposedly undoing his God’s work), or would he leave the child until they were old enough to decide themselves if they are male or female?

If he did the former, he would be defining that child’s gender for them; not the child, and not his God.  If he did the latter, then he must admit that gender is a psychological construct, not a biological one.  And if that is the case, then the same goes for not only intersex people, not only transgender people, but every person on the face of the planet.  Bottom line; there is no such thing as a female vulva or a male penis; bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

Regular readers of my articles will know that Malta recently became the first country in the world to make gender reassignment on intersex babies illegal.  If a tiny country which has been steeped deep in the Christian faith for two millennia can take a such a huge leap forward, it makes one wonder what is wrong with the rest of “Christendom”.

And the point of his blog?  I’m not sure but it appears to be about public lavatories;

“If we can’t have gender specific toilets why should we have gender specific sports tournaments.  That’s the madness of the modern world.”

Except of course, it is not most trans people who are asking for gender-neutral toilets.  Firstly, gender-neutral toilets are dangerous; they actually marginalise and identify trans people as trans, and thus make them far more likely to be targeted and attacked by bigots.  Secondly, gender-neutral toilets actually deny the gender of the trans person.  The inference is that transgender is neither male nor female, but somewhere in-between.  Strange as it may seem, the vast majority of human beings still want to use gender-specific toilets; men want to use the gents, and women want to use the ladies, and whether the individual in question is transgender should make absolutely no difference to that.

In fact, the only people who appear to be calling for gender-neutral toilets are those who think they are doing the right thing, but are not, those who are uncomfortable with transgender people using the same facilities as them, or those who do not and will not accept that transgender people are the men or women they identify as at all – the latter including people like Reverend David A Robertson.

Notice also the reference to Caitlyn Jenner in the above paragraph, and Rev Robertson’s insistence on calling her by her redundant birth name.  I am not surprised at this, as in a recent podcast for the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, Reverend Robertson and his co-host cruelly derided Caitlyn Jenner, continually referred to her as “he” and “him”, used his birth name, called him “the pit of our culture in society”, “gut-wrenchingly nauseating”, and “It is part of the attempt to dehumanise humanity, to take away from us not just sexuality, but to take away from us gender.”  The link to the podcast also carries an old photo of Bruce Jenner with a banner superimposed on it with “Call me Caitlyn” across it, and the words “Right, Bruce in the corner.

I would not normally give this squalid little man the publicity he so desperately craves but I feel that his latest ignorant and transphobic outbursts, which border on hate speech, cannot in this instance be ignored.  I know that friends of mine here, including Christians and those of other faiths, shall be utterly disgusted at his words and shall assert that he does not speak for them, nor the Christian faith in general.

As for Andy Murray, I have no doubt he would not lower himself to reply to Robertson’s comments.  But if he were pressed to do so, given that his head coach, Amélie Mauresmo is openly lesbian (and soon to be a mum), and Andy in 2013 stated that there would be “no problem” with an openly gay tennis player, methinks he would be first to condemn the Moderator’s poisonous words – and to voice his support for Caitlyn Jenner.


The Wee Flea, End of Term Report, can be read here:

https://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/end-of-term-report-some-reflections-for-summer/

Quantum of Solas No. 32 can be found here.  The part about Caitlyn Jenner starts at 5:35:

http://www.solas-cpc.org/wp/2015/06/quantum-of-solas-32/