Thursday, 29 August 2013

In honour of Islan Nettles

Islan Nettles (1992-2013) RIP
Last week a young, beautiful 21 year old black woman was savagely beaten and later died of her injuries when she was taken off life support equipment in a New York hospital. 
Simply because she was  transgender and the 'men' who did this  thought that she deserved this simply because she existed.  I have italicized men because real men are not like this, they do not feel threatened by our existence, they do not feel that we need to be 'taught a lesson' for simply being who we are.
Janet Mock (a trans woman of colour who is also a trans activist) wrote a moving blog post about the subsequent vigil in her honour which took place a few days ago which I would recommend everybody to look at and read.
When is this hate going to stop??  Why do people fear our presence in society so much that they feel we are so worthless that they can attack and kill us with impunity.  Education is part of the answer, but until the bigots in the media and within some religious organisations which help to feed this hatred start to understand us, this hate will continue to thrive.
I wrote a comment on Janet's blog article that I would like to share here:-
A truly wonderful article Janet, we hear your pain and grieve with you – for your loss is our loss too. Injustices towards our community is everywhere, from CeCe McDonald to the latest tragic victim, Islan. These injustices only serve to unite us though and make our voices stronger and more determined to wipe out this hate so that one day we can live as ordinary people, without fear and take our place in society as true equals.
And this I truly believe will happen - one day.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Time for Rejoicing

Well, yesterday I heard the absolutely wonderful news that at a second hearing held yesterday at a Crown Court, the previous court order was rescinded and the young transgender girl and her older sister, who were taken away from a loving home will be reunited with their parents today.
The agony that this family have been put through over the past 10 or more days is indescribable.  Hopefully the children will recover from this fairly quickly now that they are back home as children are very resilient, but the scars will be etched painful and deep in the minds of their parents for a long, long time to come.
I congratulate them and rejoice with them now that their children are back and I send them this message:-

Thank you for fighting for her ********* (name withheld for privacy reasons), many people might have given up under the intense pressure that was being put on you personally and and also onto your family - but I think I speak for everybody who is transgender who is reading this page, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being there for her, it means so much to all of us. 

This is something that must never be allowed to happen to a transgender child and their family ever, ever again. It was cruel, heartless and ill researched by the care services in that area of the country. There needs to be an investigation into this at some point - but at the moment, let us simply rejoice with them at their good news.

See the original story here.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Social Services and Trans Children

Yesterday I learned with horror that one Social Service's worker had decided (no doubt with the blessing of her bosses) that a 7 year old transgender girl be taken away from her mother together with her other child because they regarded it as child abuse that the mother had allowed her daughter to transition.  They want to force the child to be raised as a boy.
I simply cannot understand the reasoning behind this.  Transsexualism is a recognised medical condition in the UK, so this social worker who will lack the necessary medical skills to diagnose if the child has gender dysphoria,  was allowed by her superiors and then backed by a court order, to forcibly remove those children from the mother's care.  It would appear that there was no consultation with qualified medical professionals who are fully cognisant with gender variant or transgender children.
Fortunately the mother did contact Press for Change, an organisation which provides legal help for trans* people who need advice and assistance and she was also put in contact with a qualified social worker who has specialist knowledge in this field who is helping her to get her children returned to her.  Another organisation, Mermaids, a UK national charity which helps transgender children and their families is also providing support for the mother.
The Social Services in this country are in a right mess, in a recent case they ignored all the signs  when a small boy was being beaten and starved to death by his evil parents, yet they take away two young children who are loved and cared for by their mother.  It is completely outrageous that this has been allowed to happen.
As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, it would be child abuse if the mother deliberately made her child suffer the torment of going through puberty and then when they transitioned at a later date have to undergo painful and extensive treatments (eg laser/electrolysis to remove facial hair) and quite complicated and often dangerous surgeries (eg Facial Feminization Surgery etc).
A mother's love should be unconditional and by allowing her child to express who she feels herself to be is not abuse, especially in light of this being a known medical condition.
Hopefully, with the help from other organisations, this mother will soon be re-united with her children and  will update the blog when I have any further news of this.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the mother.  I would also like to point out that the majority of people who work in social services and child protection are conscientious, hard working people.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

TDOR Memorial in Sackville Gardens, Manchester vandalised

©Tony D. Cooper
The Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial in Sackville Gardens in Manchester to the victims of transgender hate crime was vandalised yesterday (7th August), apparently by a known graffiti artist who goes by the tag of 'High Tower ov(sic) Leicester'.  Please, if anybody has any idea who this sick minded individual is, please report them to Manchester Police.
It might only be a small step for this sick minded individual to move onto attacking live people who he might identify as being trans.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

An Open Letter from Stephen Fry to the Prime Minister and Olympic Committee

Dear Prime Minister, M Rogge, Lord Coe and Members of the International Olympic Committee,

I write in the earnest hope that all those with a love of sport and the Olympic spirit will consider the stain on the Five Rings that occurred when the 1936 Berlin Olympics proceeded under the exultant aegis of a tyrant who had passed into law, two years earlier, an act which singled out for special persecution a minority whose only crime was the accident of their birth. In his case he banned Jews from academic tenure or public office, he made sure that the police turned a blind eye to any beatings, thefts or humiliations afflicted on them, he burned and banned books written by them. He claimed they “polluted” the purity and tradition of what it was to be German, that they were a threat to the state, to the children and the future of the Reich. He blamed them simultaneously for the mutually exclusive crimes of Communism and for the controlling of international capital and banks. He blamed them for ruining the culture with their liberalism and difference. The Olympic movement at that time paid precisely no attention to this evil and proceeded with the notorious Berlin Olympiad, which provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad. It gave him confidence. All historians are agreed on that. What he did with that confidence we all know.
Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT Russians. Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. Any statement, for example, that Tchaikovsky was gay and that his art and life reflects this sexuality and are an inspiration to other gay artists would be punishable by imprisonment. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma. Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural. It does not exist in a bubble outside society or politics. The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”.
An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.
He is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I know whereof I speak. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws, in his city of St Petersburg. I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him, counter him, make him understand what he was doing. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called, so memorably, “the banality of evil.” A stupid man, but like so many tyrants, one with an instinct of how to exploit a disaffected people by finding scapegoats. Putin may not be quite as oafish and stupid as Deputy Milonov but his instincts are the same. He may claim that the “values” of Russia are not the “values” of the West, but this is absolutely in opposition to Peter the Great’s philosophy, and against the hopes of millions of Russians, those not in the grip of that toxic mix of shaven headed thuggery and bigoted religion, those who are agonised by the rolling back of democracy and the formation of a new autocracy in the motherland that has suffered so much (and whose music, literature and drama, incidentally I love so passionately).
I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian “correctively” raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself.
“All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” so wrote Edmund Burke.
Are you, the men and women of the IOC going to be those “good” who allow evil to triumph?
The Summer Olympics of 2012 were one of the most glorious moments of my life and the life of my country. For there to be a Russian Winter Olympics would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory. The Five Rings would finally be forever smeared, besmirched and ruined in the eyes of the civilised world. I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do.
Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement, which I remind you of verbatim below.   
Rule 4:  Cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace
Rule 6:  Act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement
Rule15:  Encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education I especially appeal to you, Prime Minister, a man for whom I have the utmost respect. As the leader of a party I have for almost all of my life opposed and instinctively disliked, you showed a determined, passionate and clearly honest commitment to LGBT rights and helped push gay marriage through both houses of our parliament in the teeth of vehement opposition from so many of your own side. For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us. In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right. Please act on that instinct now.

Yours in desperate hope for humanity

Stephen Fry

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Monday, 5 August 2013

The truth, the whole truth ..... and anything but the truth

A right wing Christian "journalist" has claimed responsibility for being the first person to write about Michael Singleton being given an official rebuke by the Office for Judicial Complaints for the comments that he made at the end of the inquest of Lucy Meadows.  Mr. Singleton was the coroner for Blackburn and Hyburn, who called "Shame" on the British media for their reporting about the tragic death of Lucy Meadows,
Mr. Gavin Drake published a blog claiming that Mr Singleton had received an official rebuke from the Office for Judicial Complaints after he had sent a letter to them complaining about Mr. Singleton's remarks.  He even claims in his blog that he was the first person to write about this and after that, many of the national newspapers also published articles about this "official rebuke" as a means of seeking to exonerate themselves from Mr. Singleton's remarks at the end of the inquest.
There were conflicting reports  later about this and so I took the matter up directly with the Office for Judicial Complaints and although I cannot reproduce what it said in their reply verbatim, it was enough for me to challenge what Mr. Drake wrote in his blog via his 'Comments' section.
Unfortunately freedom of speech appears to be a one way street in Mr. Drake's eyes and after insulting me, he subsequently deleted my two further responses after accusing me of being insulting to him (if the truth is an insult, then so be it).
Once I have received permission from the OJC I will be reporting the newspapers who took up Mr. Drake's article as they were factually incorrect.  Unfortunately Mr. Drake's article will escape censure by the PCC as blogs fall outside their remit.  However, if he allows it to stand, then it will serve as a memorial to his own ineptitude and bigotry.