International Day Against Homophobia

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) banner

Today, it was brought to my attention that tomorrow, 17-May, is the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. Much like last year, I was very skeptical that the inclusion of Transphobia in the title would lead to anything real or substantial in the way of including the lived experiences of transgender people, and it seems that I was right to be skeptical. In searching the website, which is still at despite the inclusion of transphobia in the mandate, I found very little in the way of information about transphobia or transgender people. Instead, I found that most of the time, the only inclusion of trans* experiences was when the website mentioned about sexual orientation and gender identity. Almost like it was just thrown on there to make sure that they are good with us trans* folks.

That being said, I did manage to find a section in the news section of the site to do with transphobia; However, even this section had major issues which made it completely impractical. The main issue that I had was that there were so few stories even on the page. In total, there were 4 unique stories, and some of these were over a year out of date. There was no mention of the events which happened to CeCe McDonald, there was no mention of the death of Lorena Escalera, there was no mention of the trans* movement’s success in Argentina, and there was no mention of the murders of trans women in DC.

This is a MAJOR problem, but it gets worse still.

I then went over to the section on the site which contains the press releases for the organization. Here I was shocked by what I saw, or more correctly, shocked as to what I didn’t see. On this page there were a number of different press releases; there was one about the death penalty, there was one about an event that happened in Malawi, and there was one about International Women’s Day. However, there wasn’t one about Transgender Day of Remembrance or any other trans* day or event of significance.

This, to me, was extremely distressing. This is because Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is an international day of remembrance on which, those trans* people who were killed for being trans* or gender non-conforming are remembered, and the transphobia that led to their death is highlighted and questioned. This places TDoR directly in alignment with the mandate of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and, as such, demands some acknowledgement by those in charge of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

However, I worry that things go a bit deeper than that. You see, TDoR is a day to remember murdered trans* people which was started and run by trans* people. So, to not include this important date in the trans* agenda, those who are in charge of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia are not only showing that they are out of touch with other movements with similar goals, but also that they are out of touch with the trans* communities entirely.

So, while I do not advocate a boycott of tomorrow’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, I do ask you, the reader, for just a couple of things.

The first, and most important, is for you to take a moment to think about both Transphobia and Homophobia. In doing this, I hope that you come to the realization that both of these prejudices are aberrant, and both must be challenged at every opportunity no matter the day of the year or the way that the prejudice appears.

And the second is for you to speak up and make it clear to those in charge of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia that, in order to effectively challenge these prejudices (and meet their own mandate), they must take notice other events, and work with other organizations, that have similar or overlapping mandates.


P.S. You may have noticed that I didn’t shorten International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to the acronym which appears in the banner above. This was done deliberately because the acronym IDAHO seems to lose something important from the main title; Namely, the focus on transphobia.

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Sex Negativity and the National Post

Hello again everyone,

I found a topic to talk about! (3 actually!) Now just to find the time to write them up for you all.

So, yesterday, Google alerts alerted me to an opinion piece in the National Post about a sex-positive activist, Kendra Holliday. Someone who I happen to have heard of previously, but never had the chance to speak to. I thought that I would give it a read. Wow! Was it bad. There were so many sex-negative tropes throughout the piece, that I figured that I had to talk about it. But, the problem was where to start really and what to focus on. So, I decided that I would paste the entire thing here, adding my comments where I saw fit.

But before that, I think I should make it known that I am rather biased against the National Post. Being Canadian, I have heard quite a bit from the National Post, and I have always felt that the opinions in the newspaper as a whole didn’t reflect mine. In fact, I would say that the newspaper is possibly even biased towards the conservative. (Not as far as FoxNews in the United States though.) I will try to keep my words for the author, Barbara Kay, and topic separate from this, but kind of a full disclosure statement.

Next, I am assuming the author of the opinion piece is female-identified (from her name), so I would like to thank her for putting her views and opinions forward. Women are very much underrepresented in op-ed submissions and publications. So, I want to validate the act that is a woman speaking her mind in a publication. ( ^_^ )

Now, on to the critique: (All of the emphasis is my own, it is used as a guide to show a rough area where I have problems with something the author said.)

A while ago, a Toronto policeman had the misfortune to suggest publicly that women who didn’t wish to be raped should stop dressing like sluts. It’s too bad he exaggerated. Obviously real rapists are not so fussy in their choice of victims.

Really, I don’t think there is much misfortune involved here. There are a very large number of people that feel that women can avoid rape by not dressing more conservatively. What the police officer in Toronto did was much more than an exaggeration of the “facts,” it was straight up victim blaming, and women have the right to be angry about that.

Also, “real” rapists do take looks into consideration, we “feminists” know this. It isn’t that they are more likely to pick a “slut” because she is “asking for it” or anything stupid like that. Instead, they pick the “slut” because we, as a society, are less likely to believe the “slut.” And what the police officer said really just acts to reinforce that belief.

But the impulse behind his remarks was not altogether wrong. In his bumbling way he meant to say that normally it is women’s dress and behaviour that set the parameters for the social barrier between men and women, and that women who dress modestly usually won’t be harassed by men.

Oh, yes! Do tell us what the police officer meant to say! I mean, you know exactly what he was thinking while he was giving this talk, right? I think I will file this under the “mind-reading” cognitive distortion.

Um, speaking from experience, women dressed modestly ARE harassed. Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went for a walk, her in a T-shirt and jeans, me in a Polo-shirt and dress pants, and we got harassed, right there on the street, no less than 6 times. Being honked at, cat-called, hooted at, and chatted up by strangers IS harassment, and I really don’t think that many people would tell my girlfriend and I that we were dressed provocatively.

But even that nuanced comment may have spawned enough outrage to create SlutWalk -a growing protest movement whose message is that women need never be ladies, but men must always be gentlemen.

No, no! Really, it isn’t. I mean, each SlutWalk is organized and run by different people with different agendas. But, I can say for the most part, SlutWalk is about telling the world that women are pissed off about being the ones at fault when one of us is raped.

And, really, not raping someone doesn’t make you a gentlemen! Not harassing a women does not make you a gentlemen. Being a gentlemen is a lot more than just simply not cat-calling me in the street, but, yes, cat-calling me or raping me would mean that you have no chance of being a gentlemen in my eyes.

Last week, while presenting at Moses Znaimer’s annual Toronto ultra-marathon for the mind, IdeaCity, I had the unusual opportunity of spending one-on-one leisure time with a professional slut.

St. Louis-based Kendra Holliday, a fellow IdeaCity presenter, is not only, according to her bio, “a passionate sexplorer … of kinks, fetishes, BDSM, swinging, polyamory and perversion.” Kendra is also an active evangelist in the moral laundering of sexual obsession. She evangelizes on her blog, The Beautiful Kind (not for children or the sexually squeamish), and whatever media will indulge her. Why the need to go public? In a word, honour.

Well, I have to say that I see a wee bit of spin in the description of Kendra’s work. I think the idea is more to get people to understand that sexuality is just another part of life, and to get them to talk about it, like you would anything else. However, I have to admit that I haven’t read all of Kendra’s work, so I am probably not the best person to ask. Though, Kendra is quite active on her blog on The Beautiful Kind, if you would like to head over and get the word from her, herself. (Which is really what one should do when making assumptions about another’s work, be it professional or recreational.)

Um, I think that you, too, are falling into this “whatever media will indulge her” category. Also, ad hominem (on both bold statements, really).

In his illuminating book, Honor: A History, media critic James Bowman defines honour as “the good opinion of those who are most important to us.” According to Bowman, honour is an intrinsically human preoccupation, always linked to one’s sex. For men honour is inseparable from physical or moral courage. For women honour is inseparable from circumscribed sexual behaviour. Too much male honour results in burkas and honour killings. Too little female honour hyper-sexualizes society.

I have to admit that I have no experience with the view points of James Bowman. From what is here, I happen to disagree. However, there is far too little here to gain a contextual knowledge of his views and ideologies on the matter.

For decades honour as a driving force for any behaviour at all has been considered a retrograde encumbrance to social progress. Cultural changes seem to have vindicated this view, for Western women’s control of their own bodies is now effectively absolute, while manly courage -apart from pious encomiums to male victims in the protective professions: dead soldiers, police and firefighters -is mocked or ignored.

WHAT!? I didn’t get the memo!? You are telling me that all street harassment has ended!? Rape is a thing of the past!? Women can get abortions without white men in suits telling them that they have to stay somewhere for 3 days listening to all the reasons why she shouldn’t get an abortion and being shown the pictures of what her fetus will/does look like!? Oh, this is a figment of the author’s imagination, darn! I thought that we made it.

If you haven’t gathered from my sarcasm, women do not have “effectively absolute” control of their bodies. You may have noticed that in my experiences from yesterday, or the fact that 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted, or that abortion is under attack the world over.

Next, men are being ignored? What? You know that men make up the VAST majority of the politicians that make the decisions for the entire country, right? You do know that women are being told that they have to wear skirts and refrain from grunting while playing tennis, because the (male) viewers are complaining? You do understand what patriarchy means, right? If you really think that men are underrepresented in the news, movies, music, video games, sports, or anything else, please look at some of these resources:



Feminist Frequency

This video [Warning: Auto-Starting Video]


Kendra Holliday is the poster woman for this sea change in our culture. She has a 10-year old daughter (to whom she claims to be a “goddess mother”). But motherhood doesn’t deter her a whit. Her aggressive promotion of sluthood in the media has prompted her ex-husband to sue for full custody, and Kendra admits that in her socially conservative environment, his odds of achieving that goal are good.

Okay, I am going to call ad hominem again on “sluthood” as you, yourself, say at the bottom of this article that slut is always a pejorative.

In her talk Kendra said she was kicked out of her daughter’s Girl Scouts program “because I have sex.” No. Nobody cares what she does in private; it is her relentless publicizing of her raunchy activities and fetishes, publicity that is likely to impinge negatively on her daughter’s life, that turns mature people off.

Okay, I think that you have a fair point here. Yes, I think that the Girl Scouts probably have more of a problem with the publicizing of the sexual activities, rather than the sexual activities themselves.

I am calling ad hominem on “turns mature people off.” But, I am not really all that sure that it would impinge negatively on her child. I happen to think that being open and honest about sexuality with children (about the good AND the bad) is the best strategy. However, I have to admit that I don’t know of any research into the issue. (You know, besides the biased research of places like the American Family Association and such.)

Why is it worth losing her child? I think her yearning for the good opinion of “respectable” people is trumping her self-interest. Kendra wants to have her cake and eat it: Like prostitutes whose legal battles are mostly about social validation, Kendra wants to be a slut and still have the respect of people who aren’t, or have contempt for, sluts. Kendra wants to believe sluts can have honour. But they don’t.
Kendra is fixated on “honesty” as the highest virtue. But discretion with children around our adult sexual activity is not dishonesty, it is our way of protecting children from too early sexualization.

Do share! What, in your opinion is too early? 18? 16? 14? 12? 10? You know that our society sexualizes young people (especially girls) well before their parents do, in most cases. You should check on the APA sexualization report, or sexual clothing being marketed to tweens, teens and kids.

Yes, Kendra does want the respect of those around her. Just like as a woman, I want the respect of those that have contempt for women. Just like as a disabled person, I want to be respected, even by those that look down on me. Just like as a transperson, I want the respect of those that would rather me dead. Just like as a lesbian, I want the respect of those that don’t think I should have the same rights as them. Just like as a christian conservative, you want the respect of those that disagree with both of those ideologies (or you wouldn’t have written the opinion piece in the first place).

I don’t think what Kendra is looking for is all that unusual, really.

Also, I would like to think that conservatives can have honour. But … of course they can, much like sluts can, and sex workers too (since you seem to be against them too). Because honour is a subjective term that is used to try to inappropriately encapsulate one’s entire being. So, what is honour in my eyes, isn’t in yours, or my girlfriend’s, or society’s.

I think Kendra was disappointed in the polite, but rather tepid applause following her presentation, which included taped voiceovers from her daughter testifying to the value of honesty. (Kendra’s cheerful reference to the belly dancer she provided as entertainment for her daughter’s birthday party was a bad judgment call.)

But her talk went down very well with the organizers of SlutWalk, which seeks to extort validation from those trying to lead honourable lives for a word whose connotations have always been pejorative, and never honourific. Kendra has been asked to participate in the next Toronto SlutWalk program. She spoke of this invitation with pride. She doesn’t get it. Groucho Marx’s famous comments about membership in clubs springs to mind.

Extort? That is a loaded word. Also, ad hominem with the whole “sluts are bad” theme.

For those that didn’t catch the reference, Groucho Marx famously said “I would never belong to a group that would accept someone like me as a member.” I imagine this reference was used completely without context, because I believe that the quote is actually a self-deprecating try at humor. Realistically, if you feel this way, you have a few self-esteem issues to sort through, especially since this could, realistically be applied to membership on a university campus or in the ranks of employment.

Overall, I happen to disagree very strongly with Barbara Kay’s opinion piece, even though I wasn’t at the presentation, nor do I know Kendra personally. I happen to be one of those people that feels that the world needs to be more accepting of those that are different from the “norm” (which isn’t really the average of every in society). This holds true whether you are talking about sexual orientation, sexual practices, BDSM identification, transgender status, age, size, class, race, (dis)ability status, or anything else.

Here in the BDSM community, we have a saying “your kink is not my kink, but that is okay.” This is something that more people within and outside the BDSM community should apply to just about anything. “Your life is not my life, your choices are not my choices, but they are okay.”

Adult Baby Role Play and Disability Tropes

[Image: A Portrait of Stanley Thronton in front of a open field]

Image by: Stanley Thornton

So recently, there was an episode of Taboo. A series about showing the world the way that it is, with all the gross and strange details. One of the segments focused on consensual infantilism, better known as adult baby play. This is where a grown adult decides to dress and act as if they are an infant or baby. (Most famously depicted on CSI.) Some of the people who enjoy this kink have others that they play with. Usually, a Mummy or Daddy that take care of them as if they are a baby. During the episode, the baby, Stanley Thornton, showed off the crude website that he runs and the furniture that he made for his play.

However, things turned weird after the episode was aired. Apparently, a Senator in Stanley’s home state saw the episode with him in and decided that the disability living allowance that Stanley is receiving is not warranted. Now, it seems that there is an official investigation into the health status of Stanley.

When I first read about this, I was furious, and I really still am. I thought that if I left it sit for a while that my emotions would die down and I would be able to write something that is a bit more objective. However, I really can’t wrap my head around it. I did some research, and as I thought there would be, a lot of people are spewing a lot of ableist tropes. So, I thought that the first thing that I should to is break some of these down:

Trope: “He has shown that he is able to work, thus he shouldn’t be on disability”

The senator was the first to say this; however, there have been a large number of reports stating the exact same thing. citing the fact that Stanley runs a website and makes custom furniture as proof. This is shocking to me. Not that he is able to do either of these things while being disabled, but instead that someone would think that running a website is hard. Realistically, I am running a website right now, but I don’t really think that this qualifies me as just about anything. (You know, other than a blogger.) Also, when I went to the website that Stanley designed and gave it a good looking over, I noticed that it really isn’t anything fancy. There is minor javascripting and a demonstration of the basics of HTML, but not much else. This isn’t a website of someone that should be working as a website designer or developer, at least not a high paid one.

Next, in the show there was a mention that he custom makes his own furniture. Furniture that can hold his adult body in a position like that of a baby. He is even shown drilling a few holes for the camera. However, one thing that isn’t mentioned is how long that furniture took him to make. Do you think that he would be qualified as a carpenter if it took him three years to make a single piece of furniture? What about if it was a mere six months? Do you think that if he sold his furniture that he would be able to make a wage that would allow him to live?

Trope: “He shouldn’t be on disability”

This is part of the last one, but this is attacking it from a different angle. So, what makes you, or this senator an expert on who should be on disability and who shouldn’t? I think that this is just a flexing of able-bodied privilege. This idea that the abled can threaten to remove the money that you, as a disabled person, need to live on because you did something that doesn’t fit their limited view of what disabled and disability is.

Trope:”He doesn’t look disabled”

This one should be clear, really it should. But, here I go anyway. What does a disabled person look like? And does that mean that there is a hierarchy of “disabledness” based on what you look like?

I tend to think that people who are disabled should be believed to be disabled, when they tell you they are disabled. You don’t know what they have been through, what is going inside their body or inside their mind. And you have no right to compare and judge how bad things are for them. People with narcolepsy or epilepsy, can walk and talk and do everything that another person can. But sometimes they faint, sleep, or seize. Does that mean that they shouldn’t get disability? Does that mean that they should drive (assuming that they don’t have their condition under control?) What about someone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Autism?

Trope: “He shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer’s money”

There are two ways that you can take this comment, they are both really offensive and really ableist. The first is that those who have a medical or mental condition that makes it hard to work, but are able to work are a waste of money should they be receiving assistance. This is again that privilege lording. The other is that funding people with disabilities is a waste of taxpayer’s money. Let that sink in a bit. Do you think that is offensive now?

Trope: “Disabled people have it easy” or “I should apply for disability, if these are the people who get it”

Speaking as a person with a disability, would you like to trade? I would love to be able to read a book. You know without having to scan it into my computer, convert it to a new file type, pass it through a reading program and listen to it. I am sure that people with depression would love to give you their depression. I am sure that my friend, that was just diagnosed with MS, would give that away too. People with disabilities do not have it easy. We have to fight for every little right and privilege that we get, and living shouldn’t be one of those fights.

Next, in the United States (as well as in Ontario) those who are disabled do not make money. They are given an amount of money to live on. They are not allowed to have savings above a certain amount. This monthly amount varies based on severity of disability, cost of living, and a number of other things. Stanley gets about $750 each month. Let me say that again EACH MONTH. Do you think that you would be able to make that work? That is feeding yourself, putting clothes on your back, a roof over your head, paying for the internet or cable or phone, paying utilities and more. Here in Ontario, the rate is about $1000 a month. If you were living in Toronto, for that $1000 a month, you would get a one bedroom apartment (even with the rent allowance that Ontario gives out on top of that $1000), that you share with another person, ramen noodles or kraft dinner, a bus pass, and a new shirt once every three to four months. Sounds like a wonderful life doesn’t it?

Trope: “I know someone that abuses disability and gloats about it”

This one makes me whimper, every, single, time. There will never, ever, EVER, be a perfect system. There will always be people that are willing to lie and cheat and steal to get ahead of other people. On the grand scale of the entire disability system, people like that are VERY rare. In fact, I would argue that there are fewer people abusing the system than there are people that can’t get on the system, even though they “deserve it.”

Trope: “Disabled people just need to get a job” / “He is just lazy” / “We should help find these people work instead of paying them to not work”

I don’t think that I have the words to say how wrong this one is. Of those that are disabled or have problems with accessibility or ability to work, very very few of them are on disability. I, while disabled, am not on disability. Those who have severe enough conditions to be taken seriously by our doctors, our families, and our governments, are severely disabled. Disabled people have to prove to multiple doctors and the government that they aren’t lazy, that they really have a problem, and that it can’t simply be overcome by an accommodation in the workplace.

Hopefully, with this recapping of tropes around disability, you have learned to look at some of the other articles about Stanley a bit more critically. And if this wasn’t enough information about disability for you to trust the doctors and the governments that award access to the disability system, then maybe you should remember that the ENTIRE episode of that Stanley was in was a mere 45 minutes in length. The average working adult needs work 30-40 hours a week to make a wage that they can support themself on. So, we are comparing the 45 minutes (tops) that Stanley was working for the camera, to the 30-40 hours of work each week that working adults need to do. Does that offend you as a working adult? Does that offend you as a disabled person? That a senator, not a doctor, but a senator, can make the decision that you are able to work a full time job based on 45 minutes of a highly edited and staged show based on your life. That after having to prove to at least two doctors, and a government oversight board, probably being denied and appealing, and waiting more than a year, you can be told that you are a drain on the system based on a 45 minute evaluation by some body that has no expertise at all.

As a disabled person, it offends me.


Able-bodied Privilege Checklist [PDF]
FWD: Able-bodied privilege
The Able-bodied Backpack
Stanley’s Website

This week in Transgender news

There seems to have been a lot going on this week for the Transgender community. I thought that I should let everyone know what is going on. I encourage you to pass these pieces of news on to other interested parties.

Bad news:

Saturday Night Live (SNL) mocks the Male to Female transsexual community by running a skit about EstroMaxx (an hormone replacement drug). In the skit, a parody of the drug commercials that are on TV all the time was made; however, most of the jokes and laughs came at the expense of the male actors (some with full facial hair) pretending to be Transsexual women.

Scene by scene brake down:

More reading:

Craig Ferguson mocks Transfeminine people on his late night show. Ferguson had a sketch on his show where he introduced a male actor as his “half-sister.” The actor had visible facial hair and “accidentally” allowed the audience to see up his skirt where a male package was visible. During the sketch, Ferguson derided his “half-sister” as unattractive, a he-she, and unwanted. Ferguson also made a number of references to his “half-sister” masturbating.

More reading:

Research news:

Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey was released on February 3rd. Pieces of this report have come out over the past several month. This is, however, the full 220-page report, which is filled with some depressing statistics. (Questioning Transphobia)

The overview:

  • Respondents were four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with incomes lower than $10,000
  • Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed
  • One in four reported being fired for their gender identity or expression
  • Half said they experienced harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace
  • One in five said they experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression
  • 19% said they had been refused a home or apartment
  • 19% said they had been refused health care
  • 31% reported harassment or bullying by teachers
  • 41% reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% for the general population

The link:

The Problem with Giving Hatred International Spotlight

Being a subscriber to the GLAAD blog, I heard on Thursday that the Westboro Baptist church would be appearing on a radio program to talk about the shooting that recently happened in Tuscon. This angered me. I know what the Westboro Baptist church is going to say, and whether it is insane and extreme or not, there will be people who will agree and be motivated by their hate to hurt those with Rainbow identities.

I researched a bit more about what is going to happen with this radio program and found a video, from the host of the show, describing why he made the decision to extend an invite to the Westboro Baptist church. The gist of it is that the host of the program felt bad for the families of those that have died because of the violence in Tuscon. So, when he found out that Westboro Baptist church was planning on picketing the funerals of the dead, he felt that he needed to act. So he invited them onto his show on the condition that they do not picket the funerals of those that died in the Tuscon shooting. This seems like a kind move, and when he says that he feels that the Westboro Baptist Church is neither a Church nor is it Baptist it almost lulled me into believing him.

However, there is one glaring flaw: More people will be subjected to the hatred of this group than they would have been if they had picketed. This is amplified by the fact that the show will be hosted on a show that is affiliated (or run by) FoxNews. Should we really be giving people who already delude themselves with nonsense like a Obama being a Muslim (which he isn’t) another, possibly even more right-wing and extreme view? Should we really be allowing a company that encourages people to come to peaceful protests with loaded guns to hold a fair conversation with people who advocate killing people who are gay?

I am not sure what Mike Gallagher was thinking when he offered this. Maybe this is just the story of someone who feels that they can show up the Westboro Baptist church in a public arena. Maybe he hopes that his l33t debating skills will silence Westboro Baptist, at least for a while. If this is the case, he is truly deluded. People with extreme views like those of the Westboro Baptist church will not concede defeat, even when faced with masses of evidence and years to think about it. No matter what Mike Gallagher says to the Westboro Baptist church, no matter how scientific or intelligent the points he makes are, the Westboro Baptist will come out of the interview thinking that they won. Worse yet, those that are listening to this interview, could have their personal anti-homosexual view strengthened. And if even one of these people later goes on to continue the cycle of violence and oppression of Rainbow identified people, we ended with a worse result than the pissing off of a few families and the (completely unnecessary) making a bad day even worse.

So, please, in the future, could we just ignore, or counter demonstrate against hatred rather than giving it an International stage to preach its hatred?