Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cause For Concern

In a country where in a poll taken earlier this year, 1 in 4 men admitted to raping a woman, an international study showing that women are becoming "increasingly violent" is somehow cause for concern? Excuse me? So it is perfectly fine for men to be violent - especially towards women - but just let women exhibit the same behavior as men - and even towards men - and it is suddenly "cause for concern".

I would say the typical patriarchal mindset is cause for concern. It should have been for centuries, but this simple point shows me the hypocritical, selfish and self-centered nature of the beast itself. Do you see it?

In a country where there is a phenomenon which is not so rare that there is actually a term to describe it - and an outcry that it is under reported, so-called "corrective" rapes and murders of Black lesbians, and the assaults and murders of gay men in the townships provokes images evoking the depths of the hatred of the patriarchal mindset towards gay people and those who by their very existence challenge it.

In a country where the government fails the community, conservative elements in society, politics and religion conspire together to pass laws which restrict the civil rights, freedoms and liberties of the victims of crime and prejudice, instead of taking action to curb criminal activities and uphold human rights.

What can you do? Well, you could apply your outrage to activism. Get involved. Do something.

People need to speak out against bigotry, to watch the media and government policy for signs of hate speech and prejudice and to act on it. People with legal experience need to challenge prejudice and discrimination in the courts on behalf of the community. People need to get involved in political parties to guard our civil and human rights, to be a voice of reason in the midst of madness. People need to get involved in religious bodies to change the heart of the body from the inside. The pink community needs voices to educate the masses about the community and to defeat the lies people spread.

All it takes is commitment and dedication. Find a GLBTIQ human rights advocacy group, or a friendly political party or church or temple that supports us and support it back as hard as you can.

What is YOUR talent?

Being passionate about something helps to discover things about yourself you never knew you could do. Even if it is just giving of your time and energy and helping where you can, opening your mouth instead of letting a bigoted remark pass unchallenged, telling your friends or colleagues the facts about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersex, that is at least contributing something to the fight for our rights. Even just being aware of the threats we face as a community, even just here in South Africa, is a start. Whatever you choose to do or to contribute, do it out of love for the community. This is not about personal fame or fortune, it is about our survival.

Some people cannot resist making crude or derogatory remarks about our community, they will think twice if they know you are a part of that community. When people don't know who you are, tell them. For every one of us they know, they will know the pink community is one person bigger than they thought. For every one of us they know, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersex will be less of a mystery and something less to fear and more to understand.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

"All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing" - Martin Luther King Jr

To be an activist for change is to stand up and try to be the change you want to see in the world. Yes, it also means to present a clear target for those who oppose you and your cause. To be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex today, is to be a target. By our very nature, today we are a targets for those who oppose our liberties and freedoms under law and Constitution, our civil rights to co-exist peacefully alongside them, to pursue the universal human needs for life, love, dignity and happiness, the human right to be free of oppression and persecution - and even the very right to exist. In many places around the world, the pink community is a hunted group, where our brothers and sisters are suffering a genocidal wave of terror which nobody in the outside world seems to care about.

Logic tells me that if you're a target anyway, you might as well be an activist, in whatever way, and at least do some good. At least by my actions and by speaking out, I might make a difference - at the very least I will give them something else to shoot at.

What is your talent? What are your interests? What resources do you have at your disposal? What can you do? What would you like to do?

I have a day job, deadlines, a relationship, an elderly parent to care for, friends and family demanding social time, financial commitments, and the occasional need for a break and some "me" time - just like everybody else. What's your excuse?

False Profits

Yesterday I received a newsletter sent out the previous day by Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute (FPI), a US religious-right-inspired right wing group based in Cape Town, which is trying very hard to impose religious law on the state. In it, he was careful to mention the dangers of having liberal laws which are "clearly" responsible for "moral corruption" in the country - and which also threaten his religion and of course, "the family" as if gay people and women are not a part of it. He also made the suggestion that this is perfect time to take advantage of Zuma's invitation to the religious conservatives to "work with government", whatever that means. I think you know.

"Please consider a financial contribution to the vital work of Family Policy Institute today and help keep us on the frontlines of the battle to defend the family & advance your values in society." He pleads.

Mr Naidoo and his fundamentalist little group - which has offices in Parliament street in Cape Town - have taken issue with the usual knotty problems which irritate the religious right wing - such as what people do in the privacy of their own lives for one thing, and the matter of abortion, gay rights, feminism, marriage equality, pornography and prostitution.

Of course, he had an abundance of very, very relevant scriptural quotes to - um, quote, to prove his many points.

This man with his suave words of seduction, poster-boy profile photo and bible-thumping routine is fast turning into a one-man comedy act. But behind the amusement and irritation this overgrown biblical literalist causes for those watching bemusedly from the sidelines, there is a deep-seated element of danger he and his allies pose to human rights, liberty and democracy.

This week, according to the newsletter, Errol is in Gauteng meeting with religious ministers eager to join their churches with his "growing" network to wage a crusade against all the dastardly sinners out there. Reading his letter, I wonder if there is anyone Mr. Naidoo would not point a finger at, except possibly his own reflection in the mirror. Reflecting on his poster-boy avatar, perhaps he might do so just to say "man, you look so hot!"

He expressed sentiments that millions of "unborn babies" are being "murdered" each year and even gave some interesting "statistics" to back him up. I wonder if he gets his abortion "statistics" and "facts" from the same source as the "facts" on homosexuality he proclaims? If it is Paul Cameron, then as far as credibility goes, his goose is cooked. Now as abortion isn't really my interest, I will not delve further into this particular topic at this time, suffice to say that there is no shortage of people on the planet and I find it puzzling that a bundle of inate cells - even those put there by rapists - can be described as "babies".

For the past few months, Naidoo and his handful of supporters has been focusing on opposing the drive to legalize prostitution. Perhaps Errol feels prostitutes should turn from their lives of sin and make an honest living like he does, campaigning against human rights and equality and begging for donations to keep on doing it. Before that, he made his annual attempt to ban the Pink Loerie in Knysna - and in between he pauses to focus on abortion and his other main interest - those darn pesky homosexuals and their ubiquitous agenda. Before that, he teamed up with Christian Action Network figurehead Peter Hammond in an unsuccessful pre-election attempt to try and unite the deeply divided religious right political parties into a single Republican Party for South Africa.

Errol is in Gauteng this week - meeting religious groups, as I mentioned earlier - but also waiting patiently to meet with government ministers to try and influence them into turning fundamentalist, "finding God" and banning abortion. Between the ACDP, Family Policy Institute and Rhema's new baby - the NILC, it should be pretty clear that the religious right in South Africa is trying very, very hard to extend its influence into Parliament and government. Having a receptive and welcoming attitude towards such skulduggery from the ruling party certainly does not inspire confidence in those who voted for a government which is supposed to guard the SA Constitution from those proclaiming openly their intentions to tear their human rights right out of it.

I note the lengths to which these groups are prepared to go to, to influence government and to network churches in order to get their way and rob you of your human rights, and it gives me cold chills.

Just because you don't read about it in the press doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Just because you don't see behind closed doors doesn't mean there is nothing happening behind them.

I encourage religious and political bodies which are pro-democracy and pro human rights to approach the government about the apparent anti human-rights bias under whose influence it seems to be swaying these days.

I can assure you that the talks will not be restricted just to abortion, but will also encompass gay rights and the legalization of prostitution as well as anything else which they happen to dislike and wish to have abolished.

Naidoo says ""Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." (Proverbs 31:8).", but doesn't add "...and drown out the voices of those who speak for them against you" when it comes to attacking the civil rights of the pink community and of women.

People as fanatical and uncompromisingly fundamentalist as these are cut from the same cloth as those who will oppress their fellow human beings or fly planes through buildings - and they will feel no remorse, nor guilt - instead, they will thank God for the blood that covers their hands.

Knowledge is power. Find out more.

I find it striking that there is a glaring absence of opposition from religious leaders. Don't they know about this? Don't they care? It seems to me that those who oppose human rights in religious circles these days are the most active and vocal - and those who support human rights, silent.

This is not only tragic and apathetic, it is also dangerous!

A minister I spoke to recently told me of his experiences conversing with "Christian" fundamentalists. We discussed the coming of Christ, his status as the "New Covenant", which means that HE is "the way, the truth and the life" and NOT a book written and corrupted by men. He is the "Word of God" - and not the same books, which were written from oral tradition roughly 60 years after Christs death and whose translations are flawed and all differ from each other.

They have placed a book on the altar of their worship instead of the God they claim to follow. They have placed themselves in the position to receive fame and glory and worldly wealth and to honor themselves and their ambitions, instead of leading their believers in prayers of gratitude and thanks and in the practice of Christs teachings. They aspire after the fame and fortune of being "evangelists", the hero-worship and trappings of success that come with it, the book deals, broadcasting syndication, private jets and properties. They preach an exclusive God who only cares about those who follow laws which have no basis in love, laws set and placed by men who claimed to be speaking for God! What a sublime way to claim authority, follow your ambitions while not requiring one iota of proof! No wonder warnings of false prophets are included with the package!

My minister friend said: "The more these people describe who they think God is, the more they seem to describe my image of the Devil".

If God is love - and Jesus is of the Trinity, then Jesus has to be love also. God is inclusion, not exclusion. And anyone who pushes agendas of exclusion and persecution - and anything which is not out of love, is not of God.

At least one person who replied to my forwarded message yesterday was outraged - and he wasn't even part of the pink community in terms of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"I'm outraged!" He declared, "But I showed this to my gay friend and he lost interest and just asked: "What's the FPI?" We must do more. WE MUST DO MORE! I'm no Harvey Milk..."

Yes, we must do more. And your friend illustrates my point that education and information is the key. How can any of us know about what is being done against us - and still remain apathetic? That doesn't make sense. Surely apathy results from ignorance?

Perhaps instead of saying "we must do more", we should say "more of us should do something"?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reja Vu - A Hair Of The Dog That's Going To Bite You

The newly elected president of the UN General Assembly has called homosexuality "unacceptable" for his own personal religious reasons. How could such a man with such a negative anti-human rights bias be elected to such a post with such hefty human rights responsibilities? What does this bode for the future of human rights regarding the UN? How will this effect the many rights battles in the UN for women and the pink community around the world - especially in areas directly affected by human rights abuses specifically directed against the pink community?

It reminds me of the fact that our wonderfully diverse country - which the preamble to the ACDP Facebook groups always remind me of - refused to sign the UN Declaration to Decriminalize Homosexuality last year. Hmm. Apparently they cited having "principles" for not signing. The USA under conservative anti-gay Republican Bush also refused to sign, but changed its mind as soon as the Obama administration came in. We are still eagerly awaiting a South African reconsideration, but I wouldn't suggest anyone hold their breath - especially this bigot who clearly shouldn't be working in such a high UN post - he should be sitting back home in his village, sucking on a hubbly-bubbly surrounded by his harem of slaves, feeling all patriarchal.

Aside from that, our own wonderful country never seems to miss an opportunity. I heard yesterday that NESTLE South Africa (the famous sweet manufacturer) is buying milk from Mrs Mugabe's dairy farm. Never mind the international trade embargo and the fact that they are helping to fund the private fortune of a man who can only be described as a petty dictator and human rights abuser. Money is money, and of course, money talks. That outweighs anything else, which is perfectly understandable, trading up "morality" and "principles" in order to support oppression and fascist values. I suppose they will buy dates or sandals - or even hire airline pilots from Osama next *wink* or perhaps buy his stock of sour grapes?

Right now though, there is little that concerns me more than the impending assault on the human rights and equality of women and the pink community in South Africa. Right now there are events afoot in this country which justify my concern.

The ANC/Rhema/NILC initiative to remove marriage equality and abortion laws is what I am talking about.

Neither the ANC nor this new body, which is recognized only by the ANC government - have denied working together on their stated aims. What the stated NILC aims are is pretty clear. They are a religious fundamentalist group, they view the removal of a few surplus cells as "murder" and gay people having equal civil rights as "religious persecution".

What I find curious, is the stony silence in the media about this matter. Only one mainstream paper reported on it - the one that broke the story in fact- was the Mail & Guardian, and that was nearly two weeks ago. Since then there has been nothing in the news on the matter, no denials, no outcries, nothing. How do women's rights groups feel about it? How do gay rights groups feel about it? I would have to say "tense". We seem to be entering a period of watching and waiting, to see what will happen next. Perhaps they are hoping it will just go away - which is sweet, but so naive.

The NILC's focus is as narrow as their minds, their faith and their politics - gay rights and abortion are the sole reason they exist. Their statements in the press on the subject say it all - to "abolish" "liberal laws" - specifically those allowing abortion and gay marriage. The religious right in South Africa have followed the lead of American fundamentalist groups for decades and echo every move made there. They follow the American model - which means if they are successful, once they have disposed of marriage equality - the next logical step will be to re-criminalize homosexuality.

Zuma's much publicized current campaign, which he calls a "war on crime", features the encouragement of policemen by the chief of police to "shoot to kill" and other allusions to "corruption" and a return to "morality". What happens with this "war" if homosexuality becomes criminalized again? Will this mean a wholesale purge of non-heteronormative people from society and a resumption of oppression as it was in this country pre-1994? After all, if you are in government and don't like somebody, how hard is it to pass a law in order to conveniently turn them into criminals? And is this not co-incidentally what certain religious political parties and fundamentalist groups have been crying for - and promising - since 1994?

Who will make the next move? The human rights haters have already made theirs. Will they make another before there is an outcry? Or will that old example of the frog slowly boiling to death in a vat of hot water apply?

One thing we cannot simply brush off today is the fact that we have a religious fundamentalist for a President in this country. And more so, a man who has been described as a "lay pastor". This in itself is a threat to secular government - the separation of church and state - but when you add to it the homophobic remarks made by him in the media several years ago, the homophobia of his support base, their rabid and fanatic support for having him as President, their being willing to kill for him, his offer to fundie groups to "revisit" marriage equality and abortion laws, his statements regarding the close cooperation of the ANC and religious groups, I start thinking about keeping my passport handy. I don't know how you feel about this, but all my alarms are going off.

If it talks like a duck, walks like a duck and acts like a duck, then it sure ain't no pigeon.

South Africa is widely recognized as having the most liberal Constitution, protective of human rights, dignity and equality in the world today. And that is really saying something. That being said, it is more a legacy of foreign involvement in the reconstruction of South Africa as a state following the free elections of 1994, rather than a home-grown product. Looking back at that time, it seems to have been a hasty compromise which satisfied the Western democratic world, but not some malcontents here at home who despised the rights of some to the same equality they jealously guarded for themselves. It's a pity there are so many people eager to start tearing pages out of such an advanced and enlightened safeguard of human rights and equality - a drive by some to deprive people of the same rights which they themselves enjoy.

It would seem that the right to equality and human rights is far more an exclusive thing that an inclusive thing. By this, are these people saying "I am equal to everybody, but I am better than you"?

Those criticizing the SA Constitution for allowing liberal laws should bear in mind that their own civil rights are also just as enshrined in the same constitution as the rights of those they don't happen to like or agree with. Do laws which grant civil rights to specific groups not increase the civil rights and civil liberties of all the people under the Constitution?

If we have a constitution that defends human rights then shouldn't it be enforced to defend the rights of all those who are human? Considering this, shouldn't a faith such as Christianity which promises unconditional love and acceptance to all people, hold to this promise - and not be promoted by a specific group as exclusively for themselves, while in the process condemning others?

If you expect me to respect your private beliefs and faith and your rights and dignity as a person, how can you actually expect that from me if you are unwilling to reciprocate and continue to incite hatred and the vilification of mine?

If I may use a silly scenario to help illustrate my point: One group requires the right to wear orange pants, which is enshrined in the Constitution. How can other groups whose right to wear different shades of pants are also protected in the same Constitution, want to ban this right? After all, the right of that group to wear orange pants does not mean that others HAVE TO wear orange pants as well - it just means that they can go on wearing blue pants and that nobody can stop the other group from wearing orange pants should they want to. This right also extends to other groups, of course, should they feel like wearing orange pants as well, instead of blue pants - and protects the right of anyone to wear any color pants they want.

On the other hand, those who might not like to see this group wearing orange pants might object and strive to prevent that group from having this right. Instead, they would prefer them to wear blue pants, perhaps ironically as they themselves do. Those who wear orange pants have to put up with those who wear blue pants - and neither has the right to deprive the other of that right. That is the basic principle of civil rights and equality.

To add to the silliness and pettiness, if the group who favor blue pants keeps denigrating the group who wears orange pants in the press, and in cultural or religious activities, in effect inciting intolerance or even hatred for them simply on that basis, does this illustrate my point? Perhaps if I added an objection by the blue-pants-folks to the passing of hate-crimes legislation to prevent the attack of anyone on the basis of the color of their pants, it might clarify my point further? One might also ask if it is the central core of the blue-pants-wearer's beliefs to attack anyone who differs from them?

A silly scenario - but no more silly and outrageous than the bitter and tragic truth: even though a hate-crime protection law would protect heterosexual people as well as those who are not heterosexual, this law is opposed vehemently by fundie groups who seem intent on attacking the pink community and their civil rights as a manifestation of their "faith".

Likewise, in the argument against gay rights, it is the religious fundamentalists who try to deprive the pink community of their equality and civil rights, even though the pink community having equality actually does nothing to them - nor does it take anything away from them.

Same gender marriage does not take away anything from heterosexual marriage. And it must be said (because some fundies can't seem to get this simple point) that just because you MAY marry a partner of the same gender as yourself, does NOT mean you HAVE TO.

This brings up more questions for me, than answers. For instance;

Are human and civil rights safe in South Africa?

Will Zuma and the government allow tinkering and editing of the SA Constitution?

Will the rights of the pink community and of women be sold out in exchange for political support?

Are the attempts by some to deprive others of the same rights they enjoy, any more than hypocrisy? I ask this because those doing the attacking seem to want to keep their own status enshrined in the Constitution, while taking away the rights of others.

How in any way does EQUALITY with other people equate to "religious persecution"?

How does the superior civil rights of one group over others amount to "equality"? Is this not more like saying "Equality for all? No - just for these folks over there under the white flag with the blue cross on it."

Does the dignity of the fundamentalists depend on the opportunity to crow superiority over others?

Does the survival of a religion depend on the vilification and desecration of the humanity of people who do no harm?

Is it "moral" to force all people of all religions and faiths to blindly follow the customary and ritual laws of one religion? Is it right to force such religious laws into state law?

Was the lesbian judge left out of the running for the Constitutional court posts in order to "conservatize" the panel to make the rest of conservative Africa smile on a country which they perceive as "far too liberal"?

Is the unity of South Africa with other bigoted and conservative states in the much-advertised "United States of Africa" so vital to the ANC government that it will throw away the rights and equality of a minority group in order to facilitate their having more common ground wih these human rights violators?

Is human dignity and human life so cheap that the rights protecting it can be traded away to appease the appetite for intimidation and prejudice of a vicious and self-centered group?

All these questions present themselves, awaiting answers. Looking at news headlines, I feel nothing is certain.

If this fundamentalist drive to merge church and state succeeds, and I fear it is already well on the way, does it mean that everyone in this country, regardless of their own beliefs, will have to follow the religious law of one particular religion as if it were the law of the state?

We all know that old saying about "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it".
I am getting a distinct feeling of deja vu.

Could this current state of affairs have been prevented by education of the electorate?

Would educated voters with an inkling of the implications of inaction and apathy have decided a different outcome in the latest general elections? Would educated and intelligent voters have paid more attention to the internal politics at play in the ruling party and their policies? Would educated voters have stuck blindly to a party, regardless of their performance, even in the face of a blatant disregard for human rights? And lastly, would we be left wondering if we will still have civil rights by morning?

You tell me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Goose

I notice many cis-feminists out there attacking trans-women and berating them as "male pretenders." It makes me mad. After all, what does it take to be a woman? How much must a trans-woman cut off before she isn't considered "male" by these hypocrites? Some are truly hateful in their argument, leading me to believe that they hate anything which is - or was - in any way, shape or form masculine - even in terms of origin, even if no trace at all of that remains.

As one who supports democracy and freedom of conscience, it is my firm belief that cis-feminists are entitled to their erroneous opinion that trans-women are "men" - even if it proves that they are insensitive, blithering idiots.

Yes, everyone deserves to be respected for who they are - and treated with equal respect and dignity. For some, being a woman means "being treated like shit", which to me means ALLOWING themselves to be treated like shit. As far as wife-beaters and other abusers of women and children are concerned, let me just say that they have to sleep some time - and God made boiling oil and clothes irons for a good reason. Be that as it may, for trans women, being accepted as a woman (by both cis-gender males and females) means acceptance for who they are.

Some women - being feminists - declare "I don't get how some men can decide they need to be women or are really women inside." This indicates to me that although information on transgender issues is readily available, few actually bother to avail themselves of it.

This brings me to the point where I ask: what is gender? Is it between your legs? Or is it between your ears?

Medical studies and research, including genetic studies has indicated clearly that transsexuals have the physical brains and personalities of the opposite manifested physical gender - thus, trans women truly are "women inside" and further studies have also indicated that genetic and prenatal hormonal influences play a role in determining both sexual orientation and gender identity - this should indicate that there is no actual "decision" or choice in the matter.

What makes it so unfair and soul-destroying is the failure of either cis-males or females to accept us as being "welcome". Yet we exist, often stuck in a barren no-man's-land, and it is us who has to "make the best of it".

One matter that bothers me is that you have cis-gender women and cis-gender men who are feminists and support the feminist cause, but some feminists (not all) attack anyone who is not born female, even though they are allies?

Another is the fact that the enemy of feminism and women's equality - and also the major enemy of gay and transgender rights and equality are one and the same - the Patriarchy, who views any deviation from its own set standards of masculinity and femininity and male superiority - as a threat. Shouldn't that make us allies?

I was born into a male life and lived the first part of my life as a male, before going through a journey of self-discovery which led me to where I am today. Most trans-women I have seen speaking about this topic agree - it does give us a slightly unique perspective on things. I have also seen both sides of the "fence" - this side is much better - at least I can live with myself as a woman.

What is the patriarchy of which I speak? Well, let's look at Wikipedia for a definition of patriarchy -

And to look at a typical patriarchal attitude towards women as nothing more than "fuck dolls", look here: http://ihatewhitewomen.blogspot.com While you're at it, maybe you should report this misogynistic son of a bastard *wink* for his clearly apparent hatred of women - and especially women who are discerning enough to enforce this bigot's also clearly apparent small-penis-syndrome.

Considering all of the above, I think you might find this news article from SA rather interesting:

http://newsletter.mg.co.za/lt/t_go.php?i=56&e=MjA0Mjk=&l=-http--www.mg.co.za/article/2009-09-27-sa-man-marries-four-women-at-the-same-time - MAN marries 4 women at one go. Funny the NILC and Rhema don't tackle that kind of patriarchal bullshit in their talk about "corruption" and "morality", but are more keen on preventing women from having a say over their own bodies and robbing gay citizens of the right to marry at all, even monogamously. I wonder what they would have to say if a WOMAN had married 4 men at one go?

My jaw dropped at the irony of something posted by a contact in the US over the weekend - "there isn't enough money to spend on charity for sick people - churches spend it all fighting marriage equality for gay people." Interesting "Christian moral values", don't you think? Perhaps those churches should look up the meaning of all three words. Come to think of it, a large portion of local SA churches could benefit from some education as well. I could donate them a dictionary.

Gay, transgender and intersex people have no more choice in being what they are, than autistic people have in being autistic. In both cases it is a biological state in nature. It isn't a "debate" about genes anymore - it is a recognized fact that being gay - or transgender - or autistic, is a natural inborn trait, whether genetic or by other biological means.

Something I found troubling is the recent statement by the international group "Autism Speaks" which encourages science to find ways to remove the autism gene from the human genome. In effect, this will prevent people from being born with autism and Aspergers. Some may feel it is a good thing, but I am not one of them. I find it interesting that the same groups who oppose gay rights also fund autism groups to criticize autistic people and also to research cutting the autism gene out of existence. Speaking as a person whose gender identity and sexuality is the focus of such bigot groups, I find such an action offensive and contrary to the spirit of human rights. I don't think I am alone in thinking that as soon as people manage to engineer autism out of the human genome, they will begin to look for other branches that need pruning. And we all know how these same groups detest anything that isn't quite straight, don't we?

My girlfriend has Aspergers - which is a milder form of autism - and she is very smart - smarter than me, in fact, and quite proud of being an "Aspie". And I'm proud of her. What they propose would strip us of what we have. Had they already done it, we would never have met, she would never have existed. Am I supposed to think of that as a good thing?

So sure, why not - let's all just start rewriting the human genome to take out everything we don't like. Take out everything which makes us a rich and diverse species and what will we be left with? The stuff you find at the bottom of the barrel? Or perhaps floating on the surface (usually upside down)?

Sure, let's redesign the human species, cut some inconvenient groups we don't like out, call it version 2.0 and make it better for "all" of us.

Some people say that "to state the being gay is in inborn trait is a recognized fact is to follow a self serving bias with regard to ones source of truth." "The fact is the jury is still out in the larger scientific community, that genetics play a role is not in doubt, the degree is what is in question." "I am suggesting that you are free to change (and perhaps that you should)" "To assume that all that you are and all that you will be is dictated to by your biological processes suggests that we are little more than robots, when free will leaves the equation we cease to be human."

And then they top it all off with: "In the end it does not matter, we all have a right to be who we are, whether made by God or the big bang." Then why argue against facts? If they say that "it does not matter", then why does it still matter?

The jury is not still out - it is fact. The only reason there is any argument about "choice" is because those arguing are religious nut-jobs trying hard to make it all about "sin" as a "lifestyle choice". None of their arguments washes or even makes sense.

Let's put it this way - if you are right handed, did you make a choice to be right handed? Did you "choose" to be heterosexual? No? But somehow Alan X "chooses" to be gay or transgender? Here are some links to help me illustrate my point:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7456588.stm BBC NEWS Health Scans see 'gay brain differences'

The "big bang" sounds a lot more fun than "creationism" fairytales by the way.

"I am suggesting that you are free to change (and perhaps that you should)".

Why? Why should people change if they are happy being who they are and who they were born to be? The same level of intolerance and cruelty in this sort of statement is evident in the Catholic school tendency to force left-handed children to write right-handed - and to treat them as if they are "demon-possessed"! And let's not get started on ignorance!

What this person is suggesting is not new - it is as old as Time and has been around as long as those who are intolerant of us. The info on the following link http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=503 should explain why and how it is not possible for a person to change sexual orientation. And remember, it isn't just me that says so - all those professional societies and bodies do. In fact, the only groups disagreeing that sexual orientation and gender identity are inborn characteristics are ones which you can clearly link to right wing fundamentalist religious groups. I wonder why that is?

"I'm ambidextrous." Perhaps I shouldn't ask if you are also bisexual *wink*. Ok, so perhaps left and right-handedness isn't such a good example - so how about eye color? I hear they make colored contact lenses these days - but I never heard of anything that actually changes your eye color - if you can get what I am implying.

You may see people with brown eyes and who claim to have brown eyes, but what if they are just wearing brown contact lenses? You might never have seen the natural color of their eyes and may be completely unaware that they are concealing anything, until the day you see, whoops - Jamie actually has green eyes. Did Jamie suddenly now only "become" green-eyed? Or did Jamie simply "come out of the green-eyed closet"? Can anything you do to Jamie change Jamie's eye color to brown? Or can you just convince Jamie to wear the brown contact lenses again and to tell everybody that he is "cured" and have brown eyes again?

I think this in a nut-shell describes exactly what the "ex-gay" fallacy is all about. Deception.
And the "i" word. Ignorance.

Although information on gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues is readily available, why do so few actually bother to avail themselves of it?

Is it to use "ignorance" as an excuse or justification after ruining somebody else's moment, day or life?

After all, it seems some are interested enough in us to want to ruin our lives - but not in any way interested enough in what we really are to really learn about us. Does this indicate a prejudicial attitude attuned to inflicting malice? A preferred and pre-determined hostile bias? What does this say about the nature of those who claim to love all people, follow what is believed to be a loving creator-God - and yet act out of hatred and ignorance against us? Is willful ignorance an excuse? Or is it an aggravating factor?

Isn't unconditional love supposed to work both ways? How can we expect unconditional love from God for ourselves if we are not willing to grant others the same mercy?

Many sayings reflect this: "you get what you give", "the wheel turns", "as you sow, shall you reap", "do unto others..." and also the concept of karma. Is this duality and fostering of double standards not the very beginning of hypocrisy as a human trait?

I would say we are all hypocritical at some level. We all want our cake and we want to eat it as well.

By this I mean the following:

If we have a constitution that defends human rights then shouldn't it be enforced to defend the rights of all those who are human? Ergo, shouldn't a faith such as Christianity which promises unconditional love and acceptance to all people hold to this promise - and not be promoted by a specific group as exclusively for themselves, while in the process condemning others?

Regardless of what your principles and morals - hypocrisy invalidates them.