Thursday, July 29, 2010

Imaginary Enemies


Imagination is the subject of today's article.

Ironically, people with the least imagination are also usually the most narrow-minded religious fundamentalists you could find - something which one would expect to require... imagination.

They can't imagine what it must be like to be a man attracted to another man, or what it must be like to be a man trapped in a woman's body. And what's even worse is that mostly, they won't even try.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

D.W.B. - Driving With Blinkers


We tend to think that things are better today than they were long ago. After all, we have mobile phones, HDTV, Satellite communication and the internet, among many other things. Of course, not too long ago, we still used to have a more relaxed pace of life, lower stress levels and cleaner air and water - and also a certain level of respect for each other as people.

When we read about the DADT policy of discrimination which has many variants in military forces around the world, I think we are reminded that things were not always this way. Fifty years ago, being different was not always viewed as critically and with such a high level of paranoia and fear as some people see it today. From this we can infer that even today, despite DADT being in force, there are still many gay, lesbian and trans people in military service - even while closeted - they have always been there, and probably even more so.

It would seem to me that diversity is strength, and by having diverse people in your armed forces, we would have made your armies that much stronger. But oh well, your loss.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Agents Of Change

What are we in this world? Agents of change? Do we make things better, or worse? Or do we sit back and moan all day, doing nothing constructive and even worse, leaving the world unchanged and no better for our passing? We could go even lower by referring to our friend IdiOT Amin's "bloody agent", but I'm sure we can do better than that. So could he.

In South Africa we don't seem to have GLB groups leaving the T and I out - or discriminating, or abandoning us like in the USA and ENDA matter. The UK has "Stonewall UK" - a group that does a good job fighting for gay and lesbian rights - but that has solidly turned its back on the transgender and intersex communities, and occasionally even helped to attack them. Luckily we haven't seen this deplorable behavior here. Transphobia from the straight bigots in our society, yes. There is still plenty of that, but then, isn't there everywhere?

GLBTI is an acronym. Some use LGBT - and some sit on the sidelines and pick at the way people use these acronyms. It's so hard to please everyone and to keep everybody happy. People get annoyed by the order of the letters, people get pissed off because their letters are left out, or some other letter they don't like gets added in. If you're thinking how childish this sounds, you're not alone.

Should the gays get upset about who gets listed first? Should the Intersex be pissed off every time they don't get listed? Should we start using something like LGGBQPTA2XYZ etc? When kids come out they can say: "Mom, Dad, I'm alphabet soup"? Why should we care about the sequence if we are all supposed to be equal - or do the nit-pickers really want their letter to be more equal than the rest? Why do you think I prefer to use 'Pink Community'? No list, no acronym - no favorites - and it includes everyone. Some people have even accused me of abandoning transgender rights in favor of the gay community - I have even been accused of being a "traitor" LOL. By now I have learned to take it from whom it comes.

Once again why I prefer using "Pink Community", because it includes EVERYONE not hetero or cis-gender and is a hell of a lot easier to remember, pronounce and type or write than LGBTIQQ2AP etc, etc. Acronyms like that, while useful in extremely technical cases are otherwise a royal pain in the arse for activists and people who actually have use them every other sentence - which is probably why so many of them settle for using "gay" when they mean everyone in the PINK COMMUNITY. I challenge you to think of a better term that includes everyone, without it being some bloody ridiculous and annoying acronym that inevitably leaves SOMEONE out.

Yes, there are groups out there - and activists too - who only worry about their own little sub groups and letters within the acronym. But not me. Some groups completely ignore trans and intersex issues and the communities that go with them - despite the great big hugely obvious mountain of common sense staring them in the eye that shows how many of our trans or intersex (or any of the other letters tacked on) rights can be included and addressed within the scope of the work they do to fight for their own rights. Aside from the compassion and solidarity this would represent, think of how many more voices this would add to the cause of our human rights globally. More voices, more votes, more say. Need I elaborate? And while it may sometimes seem to my trans family that I am only fighting for gay rights, I fight for trans rights too - through my fight for gay rights - and I fight as hard for all our rights as if they were all for me.

So there are groups out there that leave us out. That's a challenge, and a disgrace. And an exercise in irony and hypocrisy for times to come. But how will things ever change if we just sit there in despair and hopelessness and say "they don't want to play ball with us"? Funny, how as a transwoman I am heavily involved in two SA pink community groups (and even president of one and on the executive of the other) - and also involved with several foreign GLBTI groups...

So wherever you are, there may be groups that aren't inclusive of everyone, inclusive of your group? So what do you intend doing about it? Yes, you.

Stop being an armchair critic and talk to your friends in the other groups - you do have friends in the other groups, don't you? Get involved with an advocacy group and be a trans voice within it. Educate them about who we are and how similar our needs are to theirs. Mostly these groups will realize their mistake and open up to you, but if they won't hear you, shout louder - or start your own group - and include everybody. Don't play tit-for-tat and repeat their mistakes and return their hostility in kind. Stop drawing battle lines between us and our allies.

Because outside this alphabet-soup minority group of ours, there are loads of people who will happily call us all "gay" and hate us regardless of however we see ourselves or how we feel about each other. And fighting in a burning house makes about as much sense as a caucus race and a white rabbit being late for anything.

There are lots of ways and idioms to describe this, such as "two wrongs don't make a right", but my all time favorite is a quote by Gandhi, who said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

So what are you in this world?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wolves In The Fold


It's pretty hard to deny that a lot of the world's problems have roots in the activities of organized book-religions like Christianity, which are less matters of personal faith and more systems of control.

Yes, there are many loving, open-minded followers of this religion, and many Christians out there who follow its core beliefs of loving selflessly and accepting unconditionally. Unfortunately it is the intolerant minority which is shouting the loudest at present - the minority which claims it is Christian, but is far more Levitican in its belief system, which rejects Christian teaching and clings instead to old testament ritual in a frighteningly fundamentalist manner.

Despite making it clear the other day that I am not targeting loving, tolerant Christians for attacking the human rights and dignity of GLBTI people, or the Pink Community as we call ourselves here (which I have done by referring to "Leviticans") some folks - even gay Christians - still seem to get their wires crossed and accuse me of targeting them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

South African Roulette


Today the world has been rocked by the good news that South African scientists have developed a gel, which if applied inside the vagina or anus of the female, will prevent HIV infections up to 39% of the time. While this sounds like an astonishing achievement, and a positive move in the fight against the pandemic sweeping Africa, this raises a few interesting points and questions for me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Leviticans Blow It - The Vuvuzela, Twilight and Star Wars Fiasco


Is the vuvuzela an instrument of the anti-christ? Wait...what?

Many people might think so, but most probably just at around 4am during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Some however seem intent on taking this pet hate beyond a joke and dragging the idea down a few levels - folks like these, who even compiled a study on the issue. 

Yes, an actual study.

They actually went into a detailed analysis of the various kinds of animal horns from biblical times and proceeded to defame the harmless looking plastic sports fan accessory (rapidly becoming the infamous new "cultural weapon" of South Africans - and even human rights activists and protesters overseas). SA Rugby bosses (and even New Zealand) have already banned it (but probably not on religious grounds). Pretty soon, the Pentagon will probably label the vuvuzela a "weapon of mass destruction" and set about formulating plans to invade South Africa to destroy this terrorist threat to world peace. LOL, as they say in web-speak.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leviticans - The True Face Of The Christian Radical Right


The other day, I found an entertaining description of the outlooks of various religions (or non-religions as it were) regarding the popular topic of fate, luck, providence, rather profoundly summed up under the eternal example of surfer-wisdom - "shit happens":

Atheism: I don't believe this shit!
Agnosticism: What shit is this?
Taoism: Shit happens
Buddhism: If shit happens, it isn't really shit
Islam: If shit happens, it is the will of Allah
Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?
Catholicism: If shit happens, you deserve it.

I hope my atheist friends have their sense of humor plugged in for this one, and don't crucify me for listing a non-religion among several religions! (Yes, I know, while atheism is not a religion, it is a belief system.)

Add to the list my old favorite, radical or extremist Christian fundamentalism, which seems to say: "Believe this shit - or you will go to Hell!" They also sometimes like to add: "...and we'll help send you there." Sometimes they will scratch their heads and wonder: "How can you possibly not believe this?" and treat others like they are the ones with the malfunctioning GPS. Weird.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A World Without Fear


Xenophobia?

What's that?

Recently there were some widely publicized outbreaks of violence in South Africa which were directed at foreigners living in the country, particularly illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Somalia. The term xenophobia was applied to these acts of violence, and many have taken it to mean only this sort of attack on foreign nationals living among the local population - attacks fueled by differences of nationality only. Sorry to burst this little nationalistic bubble - but that's not all there is to xenophobia.

Some very biased and obviously prejudiced people who represent South Africa at the UN and also in other offices of government have recently asserted that racism and xenophobia are far more "important" issues to address than homophobia. Comparing homophobia to racism, they say, is an insult to the victims of racism. Hmm. This appears to be one group having been marginalized and persecuted, recently liberated, and now looking for somebody else to be "better" than and to explore its new-found "superiority" over.

Are you hated? Are you marginalized or persecuted for something which you cannot help being, or for something that is as natural to you as breathing? Congratulations - that makes you another equal victim of xenophobia!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hoax = Bad Business


Hoaxes are more than just trickery and lies, they are damaging to our cause. Yes, at first they seem to generate lots of sympathy and support - but when people realize they have been "played" they turn very bitter and angry, and who can blame them?

The recent report of the Ugandan gay rights activist, whose severed head was discovered in a latrine, and his dismembered torso in a field, has now been reported as a hoax. This inflamed the international Pink Community because this country is currently a hot-spot of homophobia and transphobia, where a very possible Pink genocide looms over the horizon. And these days our communications are so good, that reports like this can span the globe almost instantaneously - making timeous verification virtually impossible. Often, by the time what seems to be a very credible report turns into a hoax, it is far too late.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Symbolism As Ideology


Symbols mean different things to different people. I suppose this view depends on how these symbols - and what they symbolize and represent, affect you personally.

According to BBC news, Hindus now want to reclaim the use of one of their traditional symbols - the swastika. Why on Earth they would want to do this, I have no idea - but I don't think they will ever shake the Nazi association with that symbol... even though it has been used by Tibetans and even Vikings to symbolize other things altogether since the times of pre-history.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Makes A Fundamentalist?



It seems to me that I often ruffle the feathers of Christian supporters, friends and relatives with my articles on human rights, gay rights, feminism and religious fundamentalism.

In speaking out against the frequent attacks on human rights which undeniably comes predominantly out of the Christian fundamentalist quarter, it seems that spelling out the FUNDAMENTALIST or EXTREMIST part is not helping much. People just seem to see the world "Christian" and jump to the conclusion that "oh, she's hammering the Christians again. She must really hate them."

People accuse me of being anti-Christian, anti-God and anti-religious freedom - which makes no sense to me whatever. I am none of those things - and oddly enough, the people accusing me of these things are often NOT EVEN FUNDAMENTALISTS! Yet, for some reason, THEIR feelings are hurt and they are somehow offended by the undeniable truth that some people who claim to be Christians just aren't very nice people, and are doing some really unpleasant things and then blaming it on their deity or religious teachings.

Can't you read, people? Or does this misunderstanding arise because you don't understand the difference between a Christian - an ordinary, practicing Christian, and a Christian FUNDAMENTALIST?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Building A Better Mouse Trap


I noted the other day the similarities between some ancient South American religions and modern puritanical Christian fundamentalism. This is of course, only my conclusion - but feel free to take it all with a pinch of salt (and, if it is your "world-view", light):

The Maya, Toltec and Inca practiced human sacrifice of their enemies to satisfy the wrath of their blood-thirsty gods. Oddly enough, despite this minor shortcoming, we miss the contribution their cultures made to the body of scientific knowledge we as a society would have benefited from today. For one thing, their method for predicting the end of time and all life on earth by December in two years time, would've been quite nice (thank you, Mr Cortez). It would have been nice to know if they were accurate, scientific - or just smoking their orchids at the time. I am sure there will be some people who will actually give away all their worldly goods a day early and go sit on the nearest mountain to get a good view of the end of the world. I hope they remember to take pop-corn, if anything to make the trip worth anything.

Sadly, the records and knowledge of these ancient and (in some ways) highly civilized cultures were all but completely destroyed by the Spanish marauders when they conquered South America. Today we know they indulged in practices such as genocide and "ethnic cleansing" while under the mistaken impression that they were doing "God's work", while stealing land and hunting treasure. I don't wish to be a pain, but this seems strangely familiar, don't you think?

Christian fundamentalists today may not actually kill the people they don't approve of, or consider their enemies in their temples - but they certainly do make the gesture by destroying and endeavoring to destroy their lives in the world outside their churches.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Resistance To Change


I have seen Puritanism being described as "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy", and I have to agree that puritans, a.k.a religious fundamentalists are the embodiment of the "Fun Police".

Everywhere people dare to have more fun than them, they appear, stern-faced, outraged and protesting. Whatever it is, a casino, the Sexpo in Cape Town or a Pride march - they show up in order to try to drain the fun and enjoyment out of it like a great big serious, religious black hole - which has far more in common with the reality of it than being a mere literal device.

They see threats everywhere - and honestly, the way they have been going on the past decade or so, whining about gay rights threatening the fabric of society, religion, morality of the country and the "family unit" - before long I think they will have us seeing threats in our soup. Amazingly enough, not a single one of the "threats" they have warned of have come to pass, and most certainly none that could ever be connected to the pink community.

They see every group trying to achieve equality with them as a threat, because obviously if they become equal to them, THEY won't be able to stomp all over their human rights anymore. Duh.

Behind The Benevolent Facade Of Eugenics, A Genocidal Monster Lurks!


Most of us know the biblical legend of Adam and Eve. Eve, being the wife of Adam, made from Adam's rib and created (at least according to the patriarchal fairy tale) subservient to Adam. Not many people actually are aware that Eve was God's second attempt. That's right - Adam, the first man, was a divorcee. (So much for the so-called sanctity of marriage, James Dobson.) Adam's first wife was Lilith - and Lilith unlike Eve, was created equal with Adam - but she questioned the authority supposedly given Adam over her by God. And she didn't like the idea of a life in servitude. And who among us today can blame her? Because of Adam's treatment of her, she rebelled - making her the very first feminist - and human rights activist!

Consequently, Lilith is often regarded as a heroine for feminists. Lilith, for her pains and for daring to challenge Adam's patriarchal position as head of "the family", was ostracized by God, and chased out of Eden. According to lore and myth, both ancient Hebrew and Mesopotamian, Lilith was turned into a night-demon - and among other things, has been called the "mother of all Vampires". (Now there's one for the Twilight fans!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is Christianity Biological or Environmental?


(The following was inspired by a rather weak and badly researched religious fundamentalist attempt to discredit medical and scientific evidence which shows that a person's sexuality and gender are determined by biological factors. Enjoy - and please folks, don't take it personally - see it for the tongue-in-cheek dig it is!)

We all know somebody who identifies as Christian. Most of us are too ashamed to admit it, and shy away from such things. We live in fear of the day our son or daughter may come to us and tearfully admit "Mom, Dad, I'm a Christian." Oh, the shame!

We know these deviants are active in society, in our government, in our schools, on TV, in the media - they're everywhere, and everywhere they are, they're pushing their agenda. Very credible scientists now believe they spread by recruiting others into their unhealthy, narrow-minded, and dangerous lifestyle, perverting people's morality and just generally taking the fun out of everything.