Friday, 5 February 2016

Proportional Representation, Labour and the Tories.

The new electoral boundary changes being foisted on the UK by the Tories are designed, by the Tories, to ensure that Labour can never win an overall majority in the House of Commons again. Combined with other, seemingly unrelated and piecemeal changes, such as voter deregistration, they are working hard, but quietly, to ensure they will have an overall majority in 2020 and beyond regardless of how unpopular they become. Bit like North Korea...

The prospects of Labour forming a majority government are, of course greatly reduced by a deeply unpopular leader who refuses to discuss the issues that voters care about, preferring to play to his gallery which consists of that roughly 0.5% of the electorate that has selected him. However he has started to that think about forming an alliance with other parties, like the Lib Dems, the Greens and the SNP to produce electoral reform resulting in Proportional Representation (PR), a group of left-of-centre parties joining together to beat the Tories at the ballot box and then change the voting system from the current increasingly unfair one, to a fair and proportional one.

It has to be recognised that, with him at the helm, even obtaining this will be difficult as Labour heads for sub 25% territory in the polls. However it is the first sensible thing he has done since becoming leader and as such it should be supported. Interestingly the other major proponent of PR in the Labour Party is Chukka Ummuna. Proportional Representation would be good for the country because, at least in the medium term, it would reverse the situation intended by the Tories. Instead of locking Labour out of power for a generation it would lock the Tories out of power for a generation, as they struggle to form alliances with the UKiPs and the SNP. This is to the good. Imagine if the country had been a Tory-free zone since 1979 instead of being dominated by hard-right Thatcher and Cameron governments. The country would be in a far better condition; we would not have had Gove's disastrous education reforms, rail privatisation, NHS privatisation, cuts to social security and public services on the swinging scale they have been, high levels of unemployment and low pay, increasing child poverty, Section 28... the list is long and painful. The country would be immeasurably better off now if it had not had these Tory governments.

So Labour must start making moves to change the electoral system. A government made up of a group of parties that commands a majority of voters in the UK and which have committed to PR in their manifestos, would be free to implement such a system without a referendum and could then proceed to govern by consensus and persuasion rather than by imposition and fiat. It would be free to undo all the damage that successive Conservative governments have wrought on our social system.

The irony is that, if the Tories hadn't decided to implement their distorted new electoral system designed to keep them in power come what may, then Labour would probably never have started considering PR. This means that ultimately a policy designed to keep them in power could result in them being excluded from power fro a very long time.

Bring it on!


Cologne, Greer, Bea Campbell, free speech and "neo-masculinism".


The so-called "neo-masculinist" groups of "men"; poor dears who are now too scared to hold their meetings have been the subject of much outrage and ridicule. This group of wannabe rapists have finally discovered that the "pick-up artist", Pulling-By-Numbers systems being peddled by creepy wide boys doesn't work on real women. Rather than reconsider their attitudes to women and start to treat us as human beings this group of "men" has decided that it is easier to go the other way and attempt to make their sick fantasies of raping women come true.

However this episode has revealed some glaring hypocrisies. To start with many of the people who were so vociferous about the Cologne incident seem to have been deafeningly silent about these, mostly white, proto-rapists. Yes the outcry over these attitudes is considerably louder when the men exhibiting them have brown skins than when they have white skins. Not all that different from the way white men who murder indiscriminately are described as "loners" whereas a Muslim boy with a clock is treated as a terrorist. 

Not only that but these two occurrences together have  also exposed transphobia. There has been barely a peep out of the media about the way people have tried to prevent the supporters of Roosh V from meeting. This is censorship par excellence yet the likes of Bea Campbell, Richard Dawkins and a host of supporters of Germaine Greer's "right" to hate-speech have been utterly silent about his supporters right to speak. No protests whatever about those opposing their rights to hate-speak. Interesting...

Of course it is right to oppose this vileness. Even just advocating rape actively harms women and contributes to the rape culture so prevalent in our society. In the same way transphobia contributes to actual harm caused to trans people, especially trans children. Like most trans people I oppose both these types of hate-speech. Those who have opposed only one, citing "free speech" for transphobes by not misogynists have exposed themselves to the charge of profound hypocrisy. Or maybe the issue of "free speech" is only relevant to transphobes...?


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Trust and Trans People

The following represents my opinion of the Gender Identity Clinic run by Dr Zucker in Toronto based on the findings of the Zinck and Pignatiello report.


The Report

The report by Suzanne Zinck and Antonio Pignatiello published on the 26th November is damning of the Gender Identity clinic run by Dr Kenneth Zucker. There is no other way of describing it. There are plenty of elements which are worse than that; they are shocking, no child should ever be subjected to this sort of treatment;





It is indicative of the attitude towards trans children that this kind of thing has happened. This does not occur when staff are respectful towards trans children and should be regarded as very serious indeed. As a professional who has worked with children, if anything like this had happened with any member of staff for whom I was responsible, their career would have ended very abruptly.

But cutting straight to the chase, probably the most damning part of the report is this;




This is what trans people have been saying all along; for example a number of demonstrators including Sarah Brown and myself handed out these leaflets (created by Sarah) at a conference in London where Zucker was speaking. That was nearly 10 years ago. This means that the medical establishment internationally and in Canada has been ignoring trans people on this issue for a very long time; indeed trans people have been telling anyone who will listen most of the findings of this report, for decades. It must be remembered that Leelah Alcorn was a victim of Reparative Therapy a year ago


Pathologisation of young trans people and trans children. In plain English that means telling the children that they are the problem, rather than the attitude of people around them. Not only is it a lie but it is consistent with the Reparative Therapy approach which trans people have consistently accused the clinic of engaging in. 

In my view this represents bullying. Bullying of children who are not in a position to resist or respond, the damage caused by this treatment is incalculable and the numbers of children who have been harmed by this clinic must be counted in the hundreds at least, since trans people have been protesting about it.

So why has it taken such a long time for the international medical community to take notice and listen to trans people? That is a question only they can answer, but it is one which will be asked, repeatedly, by trans people from now on.


Ethics

From Janice Raymond to J Michael Bailey and now to Toronto, it appears that ethics are deemed not to apply when trans people are involved. Clearly the defendants at Nuremburg were researching human beings whereas those researching trans people do not consider themselves to be doing so;




Trans people have disproportionately been victims of ethical breaches in research and in clinical and practical terms, given the small number of trans people who have been researched, it is disturbing how many ethical problems there have been. It is clearly no coincidence that the prevailing view of trans people among researchers who breach ethical standards is that we are "the problem" rather than them.

It is this fundamental dehumanisation of trans people that is at the root of the issue, the problem is society's non-acceptance of trans people; as Sass Rogando Sasot put it;

"I am not trapped by my body, I am trapped by your beliefs."

In this instance the Toronto Gender Identity Clinic for children was, rather than trying to alleviate the underlying problems suffered by trans people, making them worse.


Implications

There will be plenty of implications resulting from this publication; the most immediate will be "trust trans people". We are who we say we are; we are the experts on being trans, treating us as anything less than human beings is unacceptable, harmful, abusive and makes those who do so part of the problem.

Why, after decades of protest by trans people has this action to shut Zucker down, only happened now? Why were the protections normally applied to organisations dealing with cisgender children not applied to Toronto? It isn't Rocket Science to listen to trans people and to treat them as the clients rather than their parents - something which is also, in my view, highly unethical.

It also puts a huge question mark around the multiple publications by staff at the Toronto clinic which argue that most trans children do not grow up to become trans adults. This research must now be regarded as highly problematic and unreliable. This is research which has been cited by many anti-trans activists including TERFs, right-wing "Christian" fundamentalists, libertarian trans haters and the assorted rag-bag of dodgy journalists and fanatical academics who spread misinformation and disinformation about trans people under the guise of "free speech". One more element of their weaponised arsenal of deliberately misleading rhetoric is put beyond use. At some point someone will probably carry out a larger-scale study which will be regarded as more reliable, and doubtless it will demonstrate a much lower rate of trans children not growing up trans.

Make no mistake, this report marks another part of the Transgender Tipping Point; being anti-trans is no longer respectable, there is no theoretical, scientific, psychological, sociological, medical, or ideological basis for the hatred of trans people. This is a big domino as almost the last of the big transphobic institutions whose employees give respectability to hate groups has fallen. People who are in effect advocating crimes against trans adults and trans children are no longer respectable. 

Time to listen to trans people not trans haters.

Raymond


Friday, 4 December 2015

Fanaticism: The Hand holding the knife

Germaine Greer, hater of trans people, has upped her weaponised rhetoric by declaring, theatrically, that she wouldn’t recognise trans women as women even if a knife were held at her throat. Whilst I would very much doubt her at her word when she says this, it is clear that her fanaticism has developed along the same lines as those of many other fanatics. 

Of course lots of people can play that game; I could say that you could hold a knife to my throat and I will never recognise Greer as a feminist, a bona fide academic or indeed as anything other than a bigoted oppressor of trans people who is milking as much publicity as mainstream media will give her (and they are giving her a lot). But it would be a lie. It would be a lie because people like her are not worth dying for, she is not worth even a slight scar in the place where no Adams Apple exists. 

What is worth taking action over however, is the way mainstream media has given her, and those who wish to make a big deal out of her “free speech” plenty of publicity. The way mainstream media has publicised her hatred and increasingly fanatical bigotry is not consequence-free. Two trans women have recently died in male prisons because of the exact same bigotry that she promotes. It’s strange isn’t it, how hate speech against trans people is a “Free Speech” issue, when hate speech against anyone else is a Hate Speech issue.

Her fanatical transphobia is clearly not rational. It seems to me that the kind of “I will die to impose my oppressive beliefs on everyone else” attitude is one more associated with the Isis terrorists than a rational academic mind. Greer has gradually become more and more fanatical in her attitude as the year has gone on, to the point now where she has crossed the Rubicon between obsession and fanaticism, and with every transphobic pronouncement she devalues her previous writing a little more, things I used to take seriously now increasingly read like either the product of monkeys and typewriers or of a grating insincerity borne out of a desire for fame at any cost.

Watching a formerly respected individual gradually self-destruct from a burning fanatical hatred is, of course no fun, especially if it discredits feminism, but it is worse than that. Greer’s pronouncements have an effect. They make it increasingly acceptable to be transphobic, and transphobia costs lives. Would Vicky Thompson and Joanne Latham still be alive if it were not for Greer’s hate? It is of course impossible to know for sure. What is certain however, is that the discrimination which drove them (and many others) to their deaths by their own hands was not helped by Greer.

To be honest Greer really has lost the plot in this interview. She has simply got a whole lot of factual information, especially about marriage and transitioning, completely wrong. For a supposed “academic” this is a joke. Let’s be honest this interview was a car-crash on a par with Gerard Ratner’s famous interview, which knocked £500 million off the value of his business overnight.  This interview was the academic version of “doing a Ratner”. Revealing her fanaticism, relying on inaccurate (and easily checkable) information, which she attempts to sensationalise, Greer has undermined herself and revealed herself as a joke. In a sense the media has given her enough rope and she has hanged herself.

Yet irony of ironies the hand holding the knife is not that of a trans person. The hands holding the knife are those of Greer and her apologists, and the throats, some of which have already been cut, are those of trans people. If cis people cannot see her now for what she really is, they are wilfully, and criminally, blind.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Silenced! .... Permanently.

My opinion of Germaine Greer, and her apologists, just got lower, and here's why...

In my opinion Germaine Greer has blood on her hands, yes blood on her hands. Here's why... While the chattering classes and politely transphobic supporters of a simplistic Toytown approach to "free speech" were applauding Greer's mindless hatred against trans women, one of our number was lying dead on a slab. Vicky Thompson died by suicide on Friday 13th November after being committed to a male prison, only shortly after 150,000 people signed a petition for another trans woman, Tara Hudson, to be moved from a male prison to a female one. 

We can now see that those people who signed, who campaigned, who pressured the Home Office on Tara's behalf should probably be credited with saving Tara's life.

Yet immediately, and quietly, the Home Office was placing another trans woman in a male prison. Vicky Thompson has lived as a woman since her mid-teens and whatever her crime she did not deserve to die, yet the policy of the Home Office seems not to have changed after the uproar over Tara Hudson. It is time for someone to take responsibility, the appropriate minister should resign and there should be a proper public inquiry into her death.

Greer has mindlessly and arrogantly proclaimed that trans women are "men" as often as she could, and has been granted as much access to mainstream media as they could possibly give her. This is the result; 4-5 weeks of anti-trans bigotry everywhere from New Statesman to the Spectator, on our TV screens and spewing from our radios. The chattering classes, the editors and journalists supporting her right to harm trans people have done their work and Vicky Thompson's short life has been ended. 

Oh I'm sure these commentators and editors will absolve themselves by arguing that there is no "evidence" to link what they have done to Vicky's death. But to argue that a stream of bigotry telling everyone and anyone that trans women are "not women" has not had its effect is just mealy-mouthed platitudes. Whoever made the decision about where to place Vicky must have been affected by this torrent of hatred, misinformation and unsupported truisms (lacking in any "evidence") coming from Greer. People never act in a vacuum and the prevailing cultural climate always influences decisions.

So of course I believe Greer is responsible for Vicky's death and will be responsible for many others too if allowed to continue unchallenged. So far very few mainstream media outlets have broken the media consensus about her right to harm us. The people responsible for writing and editing this torrent of simplistic drivel also have blood on their hands.

One of the things people like me have constantly said is that, despite journalists telling me I am opposed to transphobia in the media because I am "offended", that is not the reason. Transphobia kills; trans people have been campaigning against the kind of hatred spouted by Greer for a reason. Vicky Thompson is one of those reasons. She was only 21 for fucks sake! What chance did she have? How many more trans people have to die, how many have to self-harm, how many have to go through community and family rejection, exclusion and bullying, how many have to suffer consequent mental health difficulties, how many have to end up on the streets before people understand that this sort of anti-trans propaganda has a consequence?

STOP PRESS: Please sign and share this petition to have prisons minister sacked...

Friday, 13 November 2015

The significance of Paris Lees on BBC Question Time.

The Objects become subjects...

I have to admit I rarely watch TV at all, it is boring, repetitive and regularly discriminatory. I also do not want to pay a TV licence because the BBC regularly gives too much publicity to a bunch of racists and bigots called UKip. However I am glad I watched Question Time at a friend’s flat last night. It featured Paris Lees. It is always important to see trans people in the media. As the recent Germaine Greer incident has shown, trans people are regularly denied access to mainstream media over important issues that concern us. 

So why is it so important that Paris was on TV last night? There were no questions about any trans issues, the questions were about a mix of issues, but nothing trans related. Anyone could have been on.

Yet this is exactly the point, and something that will make Greer and all the other TERFs really sick; the fact that she was on was entirely unrelated to her being a trans woman. She is a citizen of the UK and deserves to be included in the national debate on all issues like all other trans people. This is the normalisation of trans people. We are not objects of discussion by others, like TERFs and their friends the conservative psychiatrists who have debated and Othered us for decades, a tradition that Greer and the like desperately want to continue. We are subjects.

Increasingly the exclusion of trans people by TERFs is not happening. Obviously the acceptance and inclusion of trans people is not happening at a uniform rate but it is happening and the appearance of Paris on QT is a further step forward for trans inclusion. It shows people in their millions around the country that we are people just like them and that we have opinions about issues other than being trans. The objects of TERF dehumanising objectification have stopped beng objects and started being subjects. 


The significance of Paris Lees on Question Time? The fact that it was not significant made it significant.