Some of our handy handouts designed to help people learn about queer issues and identities!
Some of our handy handouts designed to help people learn about queer issues and identities!
Elizabeth Birch, Human Rights Campaign Executive Director, 1995-2004
figured now would be a good time to remind everybody exactly who these people are and exactly how much they value trans people
(yes, I realize Birch is no longer with the organization, but this is not because they found her ideas repellant—it’s because she retired)
Hrc, trans inclusion
This is the face of the HRC. The same organization that told a transgender activist to take down their trans* flag at the DOMA trial. The same organization that pushed for trans* people to not be included in ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act.
Spread this like wildfire.
Tumblr, we need you! A rogue Arizona State representative, John Kavanagh, wants to pass a bill that would thow trans people in jail for using public restrooms. Anyone could be asked for I.D. to “prove” their gender, and if there’s a discrepancy they could face a fine or jailtime.
When asked why the bill targeted trans people, Kavanagh explained that it’s because he thinks “they’re weird.” Outrageous.
We can stop this bill by taking action at www.allout.org/arizona and spreading the word far and wide. Will you help?
That quote sounds like something out of an onion article oh my god I can’t believe people are this awful
You should help and spread the word too
Two-spirit organizers of the Idle No More movement say they’re looking for more allies from the queer community in order to maintain momentum.
Indigenous peoples who oppose parts of the federal government’s omnibus Bill C-45, which they say ignores existing treaties and will negatively affect First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, as well as the environment, lead the grassroots movement. Idle No More protesters gathered in Ottawa Jan 28 as MPs returned to the House of Commons.
“We’re talking about human rights and sovereignty,” says Alex Wilson, an organizer and professor of social justice and indigenous education at the University of Saskatchewan. “I think that’s a place where the LGBTQ community can connect. This is a global issue that affects all of us.”
Queer people have histories of mobilization for social justice similar to Idle No More, says Melody McKiver, an administrator and videographer working with the movement in Ottawa. Wilson says she is frustrated that many people who are normally involved in politics have not asked about Idle No More.
“I wonder if they feel excluded, or if they just don’t know enough so they don’t feel comfortable asking,” she says.
Idle No More is not limited to indigenous peoples, says McKiver.
To welcome LGBTQ people as allies, artist Thomas Bruyere has created a graphic logo that includes them in the movement. “The graphic uses the Lambda symbol that has been used in the past as a gay pride symbol. I thought it looked like a teepee,” he says.
The four teepees in the image symbolize the four founders of the Idle No More movement. At the bottom is a rainbow pride flag.
“What is also important is that it says ally. This is so anyone can use this symbol and feel included,” says Bruyere.
In Ottawa, queer-friendly sex shop Venus Envy spent four days collecting clothes, food, canned goods, blankets, letters of support, wood and some money donations for Idle No More, says Lara Purvis, the shop’s education coordinator. This was done in response to a call for supplies to help support participants, she says.
Most of the supplies were brought to hunger-striking Attawapiskat First Nation chief Theresa Spence’s camp on Victoria Island, says Purvis. But some of the extra clothes were taken to blockades outside of the city, she adds.
The response to the shop’s collection has been positive, says Purvis.
“People seemed happy to have a way to contribute to a cause that many might support, but aren’t and weren’t sure what they could actually do,” she says.
One thing people can do is go to a rally or flash mob round dance, says McKiver. “Putting your body on the line with others is a really powerful message, just going and offering your presence,” she says.
In fact, it’s crucial to have people who hold different points of view participating, says Wilson.
The founders of Idle No More are committed to a range of social justice principles because sovereignty is impossible without the undoing of systemic forms of oppression like sexism, racism and homophobia, says Wilson.
Although two-spirit people have different roles depending on the particular indigenous community they belong to, a general understanding is that they encourage open-mindedness, agree Wilson and McKiver. They are necessary for a community to be balanced, adds Wilson.
McKiver, who is Anishinaabe with roots in the Lac Seul First Nation of northwestern Ontario, says for her being two-spirit is as much about gender roles as sexual orientation.
“If you look back to living on a trap-line, you wouldn’t have had the moment to think of whether a woman were to go out and hunt or tend to a fire or if a man were to – you do what you need to do to survive and there shouldn’t be such rigidity in different gender roles.”
Anishinaabe cultural teachings emphasize a profound ethic of non-interference, says McKiver. In this climate, two-spirit people find ways to serve their communities that make best use of their talents and interests, regardless of existing gender roles, she says.
“It’s an issue of personal sovereignty and presenting yourself in the way that you feel comfortable. It can be a way of shaping dialogue and bringing other viewpoints to discussions,” says McKiver.
Two-spirit people can help encourage political and personal transformation, says Wilson.
“There needs to be people that can kind of have that vantage point of standing in a doorway and you can kind of see the two sides. By two sides I don’t mean male-female, I mean the two sides of any kind of discussion that were having,” says Wilson.
Ultimately, Wilson and McKiver agree that Idle No More is about education. Before growing to include flash mobs and protests, it started with teach-ins providing information about Bill C-45, says Wilson.
“For me, what’s been really energizing about Idle No More is creating dialogue in places where there hasn’t been a lot of dialogue,” says McKiver. “There’s so much ignorance about indigenous issues within Canada and I think Idle No More is working to bring that to light.”
Great new FtM resource on the web!
Going beyond the Western gender binary - unlearning our backward cultural conditioning
In Western colonial society (which dominates many aspects of the globalized, capitalist world today) we operate under the presumption that there are only two genders, male and female. But gender is a social construction. One’s options for what gender they identify with are shaped by the culture they are born into. Biological factors are most-often the primary driving forces that choose among the available socially-constructed gender categories.
Cultures around the world have different ways of talking about, thinking about, and identifying gender. It’s often a challenge for (particularly cis-sexual) Westerns to think about other ways gender can be socially constructed. Westerns have the false equivalency of gender and sex drilled into their eternal psyche from the time they are very young, and re-enforced through examples in popular culture. There is no biological reality to gender. Many Westerners have the bizarre belief that one’s XY-sex-determination should also inform one’s gender identity, a socially constructed role in society.
In some cultures, there is no distinction made between gender and sexual orientation and the same can be said for sexual orientation - our culture socially-constructs the options and our biology helps us identify which socially-constructed option feels most ‘right’ and best resonates with us.
I’ve attached some photos to offer some examples of non-colonial, non-Western construction of gender. They’ve all been uploaded onto our Facebook page photostream in case you’d like to ‘like’ or ‘share’ them there. There are literally hundreds of ‘third-gender’ identifying peoples around the world. The eight I’ve chosen are mostly examples I remember from some of my anthropology courses but if you google ‘third genders’ you can find many lists and examples.
Who cares? Why it matters.
The most obvious reason to care about the way our culture has constructed gender and sexual orientation is to deepen one’s capacity for solidarity with people who identify as transgender, transsexual, and others whose gender or sexual identity exists outside of binary Western culture.
But there are other reasons as well. Western culture’s binary nature often creates non-sensical, problematic binary identity constructions that are inherently problematic. For example, I believe that Western masculinity (dominance, aggression, lack of communication, lack of emotional expression, etc) is inherently problematic. I believe that to be the reason why most acts of large-scale-violence and terror are committed by men (see: 100% of the mass school shootings in the United States), and I believe it fosters a degree of internal misery within people who heavily adopt these particular ‘masculine’ traits.
In the age of information, and the age of global connectivity, there is no longer any reason (particularly for young people) to feel isolated or restricted to Western definitions of gender, sexual orientation and identity in general. I think the social ramifications of a generation where more and more people begin to identify outside of the gender binary would be tremendous, and I think we should all consider how we can unlearn our cultural conditioning to embrace other, perhaps less exploitative and dominating identities.
Background information on the identities depicted in the above images:
Hijras are male-body-born, feminine-gender-identifying people who live in South Asia (mostly in India & Nepal). Many Hijras live in well-defined, organized, all-Hijra communities, led by a guru.
Although many Hijras identify as Muslim, many practice a form of syncretism that draws on multiple religions; seeing themselves to be neither men nor women, Hijras practice rituals for both men and women.
Hijras belong to a special caste. They are usually devotees of the mother goddess Bahuchara Mata, Lord Shiva, or both.
Nandi female husbands
Among the Nandi in Western Kenya, one social identity option for women is to become a female husband, and thus a man in society’s eyes. Female husbands are expected to become men and take on all of the social and cultural responsibilities of a man, including finding a wife to marry and passing on property to the next generation through marriage. Female husbands may have lived their lives as women and may even be married to a man, but once she becomes a female-husband, she is expected to be a man. Women married to female-husbands may have sex with single men uninterested in commitment in order to become pregnant, but the female-husband (who is often an older woman, often a widow) will father the child of said pregnancy and treat the child like her own.
Two-Spirit is an umbrella term sometimes used for what was once commonly known as ‘berdaches’, Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations communities. The term usually indicates a person whose body simultaneously manifests both a masculine and a feminine spirit. Male and female two-spirits have been “documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America.”
In South America (with a large presence in Brazil), a travesti is a person who was assigned male at birth who has a feminine gender identity and is primarily sexually attracted to masculine men. Therefore, sometimes the distinction between gender identity and sexual orientation is not made. Travestis have been described as a third gender, but not all see themselves this way.Travestis often will begin taking female hormones and injecting silicone to enlargen their backsides as boys and continue the process into womanhood.
The work of cultural Anthropologist Don Kulick (a gay male by Western definitions) in Brazil demonstrated that gender construction in Brazil is binary (like Western gender construction), but unlike Western gender construction, instead of having a male-female binary, there is a male-notmale.
In this particular construction of gender:
- Males include: men who have sex with women, men who have sex with Travestis but are never on the receiving end of anal sex, men who have sex with men but are never on the receiving end of anal sex.
- Not-males include: women, men who receive anal sex from ‘male’ gay men or from Travestis.
Fa’afafine are the gender liminal, or third-gendered people of Samoa. A recognized and integral part of traditional Samoan culture, fa’afafine, born biologically male, embody both male and female gender traits. Their gendered behavior typically ranges from extravagantly feminine to mundanely masculine
Waria is a traditional third general role found in modern Indonesia. Additionally, the Bugis culture of Sulawesi (one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia) has been described as having three sexes (male, female and intersex) as well as five genders with distinct social roles.
Six Genders of old Israel
In the old Kingdom of Israel (1020–931 BCE) there were six officially recognized genders:
- Zachar: male
- Nekeveh: female
- Androgynos: both male and female
- Tumtum: gender neutral/without definite gender
- Aylonit: female-to-male transgender people
- Saris: male-to-female transgender people (often inaccurately translated as “eunuch”)
Kathoey (often called ‘ladyboys’)
Australian scholar of sexual politics in Thailand Peter Jackson’s work indicates that the term “kathoey” was used in pre-modern times to refer to intersexual people, and that the usage changed in the middle of the twentieth century to cover cross-dressing males, to create what is now a gender identity unique to Thailand. Thailand also has three identities related to female-bodied people: Tom, Dee, and heterosexual woman.
Excellent overview of non-binary gender categories. Sadly, Western imperialism has all but extirpated many traditional concepts of non-dualistic sex and gender categories through residential schools and religious indoctrination. -Q
Tagg Magazine - A Double-Edged Sword: Being a transman within the lesbian community - Opinion
The only thing that has changed about me in the last five years is the vessel that houses my soul. I’m not ashamed of how I use to look, and I’m not ashamed of how I look today.