Friday, June 17, 2011
Transgender: What Does It Mean?
Why do people want to change their sex or gender?
Everybody's going to have an individual answer as to why they want to change their sex or gender, but I think most people that I have know would tell you that basically their just trying to align their physical body and their social role with how they feel in their heart and soul. Most of us have almost always felt this way. Although we didn't always have a term for it. We didn't always fully understand what we were feeling or why. But once we do, most of us pretty quickly try to take the best available options to align our body as well as we can with how we feel on the inside.
Is there anything wrong with people who want to change their sex or gender?
Almost everyone who I've ever seen morally judge transgendered people, if you look a little closer into their lives and their organizations, you'll see as many sort of trespasses that they might point out in our lives -- they're just different. Those people are very used to overlooking the inconveniences in their belief system where they apply to themselves, but they're very ready to find those things when it helps them single out people that they're uncomfortable with, so I don't think there is anything wrong. I think I can debate anyone who does with a lot of confidence and success.
What's the difference between a person's gender and biological sex?
Biological sex is a scientific classification. On the surface it's made by genitalia and external secondary sex characteristics; like breasts, or facial hair, or things you can see with your eyes but there is variation and there is gradation sometimes and knowing that is important. Science is showing that more and more. I think people need to start listening to that because it sort of explains what goes on with trans people a lot. Gender is funny because it's largely a sexual construct. The idea of what gender is has changed throughout the centuries and throughout cultures and societies. Gender is like blue is for boys and pink is for girls or women should wear dresses and men should wear pants.
What does 'transgender' mean?
Transgender is a term that literally means--"trans" means "crossing" or "across" and "gender" is "gender"--so, transgender describes someone who is crossing gender boundaries. At its most broad definition it could be a woman with short hair or a man with long hair because typically in the past men have had shorter and women have had longer, so they are crossing gender boundaries. In a more precise sense a drag queen would be transgender because it is a male wearing and taking on the characteristics of a female, or a drag king is a female taking on the characteristics and persona of a male. Transgender just means you are crossing those artificial lines of what men and women are supposed to be like in society.
What does 'transsexual' mean?
"Trans" is crossing or to cross. And "sex" is sort of the scientific or biological classification of an organism's sex. So "transsexual" for me describes someone who is crossing from one sexual classification into another as well as they can, using current medical technology. So it sort of implies someone who's having surgery or taking hormones, or doing other medical interventions to align their body with their new sex.
What does 'Female-To-Male' or 'FTM' mean?
Female-To-Male or FTM is a sort of classification of a trans-person who was assigned the gender of female at birth and who is transitioning socially and, perhaps, medically and legally into living as male.
What does 'Male-To-Female' or 'MTF' mean?
Male-To-Female or M-To-F identifies someone who was assigned the male gender at birth and who is transitioning socially (and perhaps medically and legally) to living as female.
What does 'genderqueer' mean?
Genderqueer is a term that is used essentially by a lot of younger and up-and-coming people who just are not willing to play by the old game of what men should do and be and what women should do and be. Genderqueer people just like sort of flouting those conventions and expressing themselves however they want and even specifically sometimes being a little shocking to sort of shake up the system.
What does 'two-spirit' mean?
Two-spirit is a term that was recently brought back into the lexicon by Native American indigenous people and Canadian indigenous people. It describes people in the indigenous cultures, way back when, who felt like they had both a male and a female spirit in their body. And those people were often revered and consulted as mystics and people of great value in those early cultures. The current native and indigenous people are reclaiming that identity and term, and bringing it back out as a way to sort of celebrate the way their culture views trans issues.
What is 'passing' for a transgender person?
Passing is a term in the transvestite community which sparks a lot of heated debate. Everybody has ideas and thoughts about what it means. Passing defines one person living in their chosen gender without anyone knowing you were ever living in a different one. It basically means that I can go out as a woman and people don't know that I am a transvestite, or that a trans-man can go out as a male and people do not know that he is a transvestite. There are a lot of political issues surrounding passing that; are almost too complicated to go into in detail but those are the basics.
What is 'gender identity'?
Gender identity is usually understood to be a person's own sense of their identity as male or female. You're - everyone is - assigned a gender at birth, usually based on just a cursory examination of their body. But most people end up feeling on the inside that that was the right, you know, identification. There are some people who just feel inside that they are a different gender, though, and that's where a term like gender identity becomes important.
What is 'bi-gender'?
Bi-gender or bi-gendered is a term that some people use to describe a feeling that they embody both genders, male and female. They don't feel like they're one or the other, they feel like they're sort of everything in one.
What is 'cisgender'?
Cisgender or cisgendered is a newer term that sort of came about, mostly it spread on the Internet. But if you just look at the root part of the word, the etymology, it means someone who is comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth. So the majority of the people on the planet are cisgender or cisgendered. They're comfortable with their assigned gender.
What is 'androgyne'?
Androgyny is somebody who embodies both male and female characteristics. Andro meaning male and gyno meaning female. It's often used to describe somebody who doesn't seem to embody either male or female characteristics as well, if you describe somebody as androgynous, it often means you can't tell what they are, or they are not very definite in their presentation.
What is a 'transwoman'?
A transwoman is a term that a lot of people in the trans community use as sort of a simple catch all to describe a woman who is transitioning from male to female. And she may or may not be undergoing medical, may or may not be undergoing legal, or she may or may not be undergoing social steps, but she's doing one or all of those.
What is a 'transman'?
Transman is sort of a catch-all term for someone who is transitioning into the male gender and sex. But they may not necessarily be undergoing medical transition or they may not necessarily be going through legal. Trans is sort of a catch-all term that doesn't nail them down to either sex or gender.
How many people in the world identify as transgender?
The DSM IV estimates right now that, what is it about, one in 30 thousand males and one in a 100 thousand females, have identified themselves as having very strong trans feelings. A lot of those people never act on those feelings. A lot of those people choose different ways to deal with them so the actual numbers of people who transition based on those feelings are a lot smaller.
Why is transgenderism more prevalent in men than women?
Transgenderism may be more prevalent in men because women are already more free to take on some male characteristics. In terms of clothing or social aspect or presentation. So they may be able to just exercise those feelings through those options and that's enough for them. But for males, a female behaviour or gender presentation is very much punished and looked down upon, so we kind of have to take a big plunge and do all or nothing because it's not very permitted for men to dabble or experiment.
Why is transgender grouped with gay lesbian and bisexual?
Transgender is usually grouped with lesbians, bisexuals, and gay in terms of political and medical research or activity because by large, society tends to perceive us as all the same. They see us as singular or as not like the centre majority of heterosexual people who are comfortable in their birth gender. A lot of gay and lesbian and bisexual people exhibit sort of atypical gender behaviour from an early age, not all certainly. And transsexual people also tend to exhibit cross-gender behaviour when they are younger. So we are all discriminated against in kind of the same way. So a lot of times if you address political issues that protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people, that's also going to help transsexual people as well. So, I think we all run parallel to the gay community and we are like close cousins to them. So it makes sense for us to pool our resources, I think.
On May 8th, in an interview with ’20 minutes’, Brigitte Goldberg, president of Avenir 2012 (literally, The Future 2012) revealed plans for her party – which was formally launched two days later – and for her own presidential candidacy next year.
Although Mlle Goldberg herself is transgender, and Avenir 2012 itself owns to having sprung from Trans-Europe, the party is not exclusively for the trans community.
She said: “It is not a transsexual party. It is the first political party with a trans leader.
“We do not claim to represent the entire LGBT community”.
However, the party expresses a simple adherence to the principles of the French constitution of 1793: respect, freedom and tolerance.
Describing Avenir 2012, as a party of the centre left, with a wide range of political and economic policies outside the social arena, Mlle Goldberg told ’20 minutes’: “We have sat and watched a gradual drift to the right. A return to a moral order that is quite at odds with the views of our supporters.
“We are in favour of same-sex marriage, adoption rights for gay couples and for greater legal and medical rights for individuals who identify as transgender or transsexual.”
There is still a long way to go between a candidate being announced and their arrival at the Elysee Palace – the formal residence of the President of the French Republic.
First hurdle on the way is obtaining 500 signatures before Mlle Goldberg can even put herself forward as a candidate.
Nonetheless, she is confident of passing that obstacle easily and, with the possibility of support from the LGBT community as a whole, she believes Avenir 2012 can do well.
Born December 7, 1960
Founder of Trans-Europe
Founder and President of the Future 2012
With TRANS-EUROPE we benefited in the development of our program to the input of people working in many areas.These people perform a variety of professions, are all social levels, cultures and have different political views.It's diversity that makes up the richness of our thinking.We do not defend any ideology, but of values, Republican values is what unites us.
We live in the era of the net and social networks, or they are undergoing, or they are used.
We decided to use these technologies that will remove the distances to create a network across France.A flexible network, flexible and very responsive.This does not contradict the action in the field, but allows us to have an operational structure.
Our goal, a candidate in 2012 presidential election.This candidate is a candidate, the president of the party.
Interesting race this should become, I will keep a close eye on this one and you can also.
Peace and tolerance
Taken from a fellow Jamaican Blogger residing in Japan is this cute post. READ MORE from DC
What are the three hardest words you have ever said? What three words make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth and refuse to function? What three words make your heart race so hard it seems as if a heart attack would be better than what you are currently experiencing? What three words take forever to say and when said cannot be taken back? What three words can change relationships forever? What three words demand a silent response followed by shed tears? What three words, when whispered, can have two completely opposite effects – they either pull love ones towards you or repel them as a bug spray on a summer day. What three words make your bones shift and your bowels move? What three words can change our lives forever? Are they —– I am sorry? I love you? I hate you? Please forgive me? You’ve got mail? |50% off Sale|? Nope, not even close! None of these words come close to the impact that ‘’I AM GAY’’ has when whispered to a friend or your family or even more catastrophic, a lover.
Being gay, in itself is a lonely and treacherous road to walk. On the outside, it looks all glamorous and sparkly and ‘fab’!. But it’s not always about cocktails, cute Fendi totes, designer clothes, drag queens and blow jobs (don’t look at me). Sure we do indulge in the finer things of life [happening parties and clubs, designer labels, great sex, and so on] and of course we are the hallmark of the most important industries [fashion and entertainment] that matter. But when the music stops and we are stripped of everything including our ‘avant garde-ness’, we are only left with our thoughts. And all that’s floating around in our heads is, ‘’How can I tell them?’’, ‘’How can I break the news?’’, ‘’How can I do this without shattering dreams and breaking hearts?’’, ‘’How can I say the three hardest words known to man?’’ [Maybe Oprah knows how to break this kind of news….hmmm]
Some things in life don’t come with a manual and so there are no easy ways around them —- like calculus; breaking up with a guy; fitting in to a size 4 when you are a size 14…blah blah blah…
The damage can be so unpredictable that preparing for it futile. So go head on, kiss your Gucci loafers, cross your fingers and toes, say three ‘Hail Maries’ and hope for the best. This is the approach one has to take when thinking about whispering the three hardest words to their love ones.
When the time was ‘’right’’ [if there is such a thing], this was the ‘’approach’’ I employed when I decided to tell Mommy dearest (aka Miss Irene…) the three hardest words. I waited until my birthday (good move or not? –I don’t know.. LOLOL. I thought it would have been a good present to myself). She was in a good mood; so was I. We talked about our usual chitter-chatter and then I told her I wanted to ‘’discuss’’ something with her. When I ushered those three words it was if I vomited on her. The sky became pissed, the wind refused to blow in my direction, the sun threw down itself and decided not to shine on me, everything became still and then it was as if hell farted and it was all fire and brimstone. Soon I realized nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen. Nothing could have reassured me nor make things ‘’better’’. Nothing could make those three words as wonderful to the ear as the rainbow it’s represented by. Nothing!
And after sitting silently [while crying and trying to keep it together] and listen to my mother’s sermon about my three little words, then there was a deafening silence on the phone. She hung up! She had said all she had to say and there was nothing that I could have said to have made those three little words bring a smile instead of a frown.
Is it that the impact on a friend is less than on a relative? Or, is it that your friends ‘’understand’’? Or, is it that the generational gap between your friends and your family makes a difference? Or maybe…just maybe true friends always ‘’know’’ [or, so they say to ease the pain they see on our faces when we tense up to tell them the hardest sentence known to mankind] and they are just waiting for you to share your precious little secret with them. Being a Jamaican, it’s not easy to share this secret. These are three words that many men and women never think to utter to their families, more so their friends. But, from my experience, true friends care less if you are gay, straight or like puppets. True friends are those who sit quietly while you try to utter the three most difficult words of your life, and after you have uttered them, they embrace you with unconditional love, cry with you and then treat you to a cocktail at the most swinging bar.
While I know that Jamaica isn’t indigenous to this level of ‘hush hush’, I had no idea Japan could beat us. I assumed that these guys would tell their mothers over a nice hot cup of green tea and sea weed crackers, but no. While Japanese SEEM to be tolerant of foreigners being gay, our Asian mommies and daddies aren’t so tolerant when their hand-bag carrying, hair perm-ing, make-up wearing, and Victoria secret buying sons [who are sometimes married on top of all of this…. DON’T ASK ME HOW? ---Japanese women are just cluelessssssssssss] come home to say, ‘’私は同性愛者です。’’ = ‘’I AM GAY’’. So, the three hardest words to utter are the three hardest words to swallow in Japan [even if they put syo-yu sauce on it].
Well, whatever happens when you dear to mention those three little words, happens! Be strong! Be fierce! Because, whether you belief you were born ‘’this way’’; or forced into ‘’it’’; had an unpleasant childhood experience and somehow ended up ‘in it’’; just curious and tried and couldn’t stop trying ‘’it’’. Whether you belief in the nature vs. nurture theory; you are here and you are queer and that’s how it’s gonna be! So stand resolute in your PRIDE and don’t be afraid! Put your Mac and Cover Girl lip balms on and bellow those three words. Because in doing so you fight your fear, show your pride and armor yourself from all negativity that’s ahead.
The Human Rights Council, Recalling the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and consequently elaborated in other human rights instruments such as the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant core human rights instruments;
Recalling also that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;
Recalling further GA resolution 60/251, which states that the Human Rights Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in fair and equal manner;
Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
1. Requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study to be finalised by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;
3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow‐up to the
recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner;
4. Decides to remain seized with this priority issue.
Yes": Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay.
"No" : Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda.
Abstentions: Burkina Faso, China, Zambia
Absent: Kyrgyzstan, Libya (suspended)
“Contributory factors for risk of violence include individual aspects of women’s bodily attributes such as race, skin colour, intellectual and physical abilities, age, language skills and fluency, ethnic identity and sexual orientation.”
The report also detailed a number of violations committed against lesbian, bisexual and trans women, including cases of rape, attacks and murders. It is therefore regrettable that a reference to "women who face sexuality-related violence" was removed from the final version of another resolution focused on the elimination of violence against women during the same session.
"Despite this inconsistency, we trust the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity will facilitate the integration of the full range of sexual rights throughout the work of the UN.", said Meghan Doherty, of the Sexual Rights Initiative.
A powerful civil society statement was delivered at the end of the session, welcoming the resolution and affirming civil society’s commitment to continuing to engage with the United Nations with a view to ensuring that all persons are treated as free and equal in dignity and rights, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Now, our work is just beginning”, said Kim Vance of ARC International. “We look forward to the High Commissioner’s report and the plenary panel next March, as well as to further dialogue with, and support from, those States which did not yet feel able to support the resolution, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses.”
Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations, told CNN, "It really is a key part in setting a new norm that gay rights are human rights and that that has to be accepted globally."
"It talks about the violence and discrimination that people of LGBT persuasion experience around the world," she said, "and that those issues ... need to be taken seriously. It calls for reporting on what's going on, where people are being discriminated against, the violence that is taking place, and it really puts the issue squarely on the U.N.'s agenda going forward."
Divided opinion continues among some countries about whether the time has come to take up gay rights in the U.N. forum, Nossel said, "so this resolution is really significant as far as gaining widespread support for doing just that."
The State Department lobbied intensively for the resolution, and Nossel said the United States was pleased to see African leadership, from South Africa in particular, as well as strong support from South America, Colombia and Brazil.
The resolution also will commission the first-ever U.N. report on the challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people face around the globe. Nossel said the Obama administration hopes it will "open a broader international discussion on how to best promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons."
In March the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a statement, supported by 85 countries, on gay rights called "Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity."
Friday's vote "marks a victory for defenders of human rights," said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "It sends a clear message that abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made gay rights a key focus of the State Department's human rights agenda, expressing her view that "gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."
At a gay pride event this month at the State Department, Clinton said, "Men and women are harassed, beaten, subjected to sexual violence, even killed, because of who they are and whom they love. Some are driven from their homes or countries, and many who become refugees confront new threats in their countries of asylum. In some places, violence against the LGBT community is permitted by law and inflamed by public calls to violence; in others, it persists insidiously behind closed doors."
Nossel told CNN, "it's not like discrimination or violence are going to end overnight" because of the U.N. resolution, "but now ... when there are proposals in parliaments or legislatures around the world to illegalize gay activity or repress people because of their sexual orientation, opponents can point to this and say, 'Hey, the U.N. has spoken out, there is a resolution that rejects this squarely.'
"That is the way these international norms are built," she said. "It's not from scratch. On women's rights, on minority rights, it builds up over time. So this is really a critical beginning of a universal recognition of a new set of rights that forms part of the international system."
Thursday, June 16, 2011
"this ENTIRE discussion and the idea that it is even OK to take some sort of poll on us is just so totally wrong and demeaning
this is like india or japan where the family insists on checking out your pedigree as if you are some sort of prize doggy, to make sure your background is appropriate and you do not in Any Way have any "untouchable" blood
(or like being Trini and watching people poke around slyly to see if you have any East Asian relations to give it a more West Indian flavour!)"
"People who I choose to be intimate knowing me and the things that matter to me the most almost require me to be out to all partners--and long before the relationship becomes so serious we are talking about hooking up long term. The idea that a relationship would require me to be silent about who I am is so odious to me, I can't think of the value of getting involved in one."
"Honesty is such a lonely word; everyone is so untrue.
I have been broken up with because I am bisexual. I am glad I found out that he was a biphobe before it got serious"
"Yeah well in my experience I find that most people who are in favor of this question are usually biphobic people who want to know who is bisexual so that they can discriminate against them.... they happen to be the biggest voice in this debate so they tend to influence other people who havent developed an opinion on this question...."
"I'm a strong believer in the notion that everybody has a right to privacy, and a person's sexuality is a private matter. Contrary to popular opinion, nobody has a RIGHT to know anything."
Q: Aren’t bisexuals “oversexed”?
A: Attraction does not necessitate acting on every desire. Just as there is a range of behaviors within heterosexual society and the lesbian and gay communities, there is also a range within the bisexual community. Some have one partner; some choose to be single; some have multiple partners; some bisexuals are celibate. The bisexual population has the same variety of sexual activity as other groups.
Q: Can bisexuals be counted on for long-term committed relationships?
A: A bisexual, like a lesbian, gay, or heterosexual identity is independent of relationship choices: monogamous; polyamorous; non-monogamous; or whatever the parties agree upon. Bisexuals are as capable as anyone else of making a long-term monogamous commitment if that bisexual is also a monogamous person.
Q: Isn’t calling oneself bisexual just a phase a person goes through because he or she is afraid to “come out” as lesbian or gay?
A: Some people do go through a transitional period of bisexuality on their way to adopting a lesbian, gay, or heterosexual identity. For many others, bisexuality remains a long-term orientation. In fact, researchers have found that homosexuality and heterosexuality are often transitional phases in the coming-out process for bisexual people.
Q: Aren’t bisexuals just “confused”?
A: It is natural for bisexuals, gays, and lesbians to go through a period of confusion in the coming-out process. Historically, society has stigmatized same gender/sex attractions and denied the possibility of a bisexual orientation. In this situation, confusion is an understandable reaction until one is able to come out and find a supportive environment. Most bisexuals are absolutely clear about their sexual orientation.
Q: Do people choose to be bisexual?
A: For bisexuals the choice is to live openly and honestly or to be silenced by the invisibility of the closet. No one really knows the origins of sexual orientation, including bisexuality. However, whether it is biologically determined or not, sexual orientation should not determine one’s access to full participation in society.
Q: Do bisexuals want “special rights”?
A: Bisexuals want to live their lives without the threat of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, and the military. To ensure their basic civil rights, bisexuals are seeking equal protection under the law, including same-sex marriage.
Q: Do bisexuals spread AIDS?
A: Bisexuals have been scapegoated as “carriers” of HIV/AIDS to heterosexuals and lesbians. The fact is, risky behaviors spread HIV, not one’s sexual identity. HIV is transmitted when the body fluids of an infected person (e.g. blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk) enter someone else’s body. Practicing safer sex and not sharing injection drug paraphernalia is important for everyone – bisexual, heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or transgender – who is interested in stopping the spread of AIDS.
Q: Should the lesbian and gay communities be inclusive of bisexuals?
A: Bisexuals have always been a part of, as well as apart from, the lesbian and gay communities. Bisexuals are part of the generic definition of gay in the same way that lesbians are. Because heterosexuals lump them all together, bisexuals encounter the same kinds of harassment and discrimination as gays, lesbians, and transgender people. Bisexuals lose their jobs, their homes, and their children, and are discharged from the military when they are honest about their sexual orientation. It is important that bisexuals be included to accurately describe the larger gay community.
Q: When the going gets tough, won’t bisexuals hide in the heterosexual community? Don’t bisexuals dump their same gender/sex partners for different gender/sex partners to pass as straight?
A: People leave relationships for all kinds of reasons, and not just because of the gender/sex of their partner. Anyone regardless of sexual identity who is unable to make a commitment to a relationship may use a person of any gender/sex to leave. To “pass” for straight and deny one’s bisexuality is just as painful and damaging for bisexuals as it is for gays and lesbians to stay in or re-enter the closet. Bisexuals are not heterosexual.
Q: Do some bisexuals identify as heterosexual? What about lesbian or gay?
A: All human sexuality studies have found that there is a notable disparity between what people do (sexual behavior) and what people call themselves (sexual identity). Many people are unaware that identifying as bisexual is even an option. (Significantly, no studies have measured the incidence of bisexual feelings and fantasies that have not been acted upon.) Many people who have sex with more than one gender/sex do not identify as bisexual for a number of reasons, including fear of discrimination and social stigmatization from both heterosexual society and the lesbian and gay communities.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Draft resolution at Human Rights Council on
human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity
“You, at the United Nations, have a particular role to play. You have a responsibility. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people are equal members of the human family whose rights you have sworn to uphold. Those who face hatred [and] violence look to you for protection … Do not fail them.”
- Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
About the resolution:
The resolution, presented by South Africa, recalls the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on these grounds, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner.
Importance of addressing these issues:
Around the world, people face human rights violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including killings, torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and violence. These violations have consistently been brought to the Human Rights Council’s attention by UN Special Rapporteurs. UNAIDS, UNDP and the UN Special Rapporteur on Health have also emphasized the importance of addressing human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity as part of HIV education and prevention efforts.
Although issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are sensitive issues for many States, we trust we can all agree that no human being should face violence, torture, stigmatisation and abuse, on any ground.
Existing international human rights framework
The resolution does not seek to create new rights but simply affirms the application of existing human rights standards to those who face human rights violations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and calls for further information and dialogue on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The right of all human beings to life, to freedom from torture, privacy, and protection from arbitrary detention are as old and timeless as the Universal Declaration itself. In addition, there is almost 20 years of treaty body jurisprudence recognizing that international human rights law prohibits discrimination on grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity. Drafters of both international and regional human rights instruments were careful to ensure that the lists of grounds for non-discrimination were not exhaustive, by employing terms such as “of any kind”, “such as” and “or other status”.
This position is consistent with other regional and national jurisprudence, including decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, and courts in South Africa, Hong Kong, Fiji, India, Nepal and the USA. Just this week, the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS recognised the need to address the human rights of men who have sex with men, and the OAS adopted by consensus a resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Human Rights Council’s responsibility to address these issues
The Council is “responsible for promoting universal protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner” (GA resolution 60/251, OP 2). Whatever differences may exist on the subject-matter of the resolution, the South African resolution recognises that the Council has a responsibility to address killings, rape, torture and violence, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
ALLEGATIONS OF VIOLATIONS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF LGBT PERSONS:
SOME EXCERPTS FROM REPORTS TO THE 17th SESSION OF THE HRC
Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions:
· During the past 18 months, 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons have been murdered in one country alone.
· On December 22, 2010, a 23 year old transgender person was reportedly found dead in a ditch. According to reports, her body was beaten and burned. Information received also indicates that the blows to her face caused by stoning have been so severe that her remains had been virtually unrecognizable. There were also indications that she had been raped.
That same day, another transgender person was found at her home. According to reports, her body had been incinerated and showed numerous stab wounds. Neighbors reported that they saw two suspects running away from her home when the fire started.
· On January 2, 2011, another young transgender person had been found murdered in the main street of her town. According to information received, her body had stab wounds in the chest.
[A/HRC/17/28/Add.1 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, communications to and from governments, pages 114-117]
· LGBT activists had received numerous death threats in connection with their work, and especially following the publication of an article entitled “Hang them” in Rolling Stone, a local newspaper. The article provided names, addresses and photos of members and perceived members of the LGBT community, including on the front cover.
[A/HRC/17/28/Add.1 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, communications to and from governments, pages 390-391]
Violence against women:
· On 14 January 2011 a lesbian woman was allegedly “strangled with a wire, tortured and raped for five hours by [an acquaintance] who intended to ‘turn her straight’.”
· A local community activist reached out to women who had been raped because of their sexual orientation through a small local charity in the township to rescue and support survivors of "corrective” rape. However, the same accused asked family and friends to attack the community worker, constantly harassed her and made threats against her life and against her partner. This forced her to go into hiding as well, which had prevented her from carrying out the assistance work she provided to other women victims of violence.
[A/HRC/17/26/Add.1 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, communications to and from governments, para.204-210]
· The Special Rapporteur expressed concerns during a country visit at accounts of widespread discrimination and violence, generally overlooked by the Government, “including brutal gang rapes and family violence owing to their sexual orientation or gender identity”.
· A specific case study is provided of a transgender person “brutally attacked and shot by a group of men when she was leaving a nightclub”, treated harshly and with disdain in hospital by health-care personnel because she was transgender and HIV-positive, detained in a male prison where she was placed in a cell with gang members and raped more than 100 times, and further attacked upon her release from jail.
[A/HRC/17/26/Add.2 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, follow-up mission to El Salvador, para. 29]
Imposition of the death penalty:
· A 17 year old was charged with sexual activity between males and sentenced to death. It is alleged that he was beaten, blackmailed and forced to confess.
[A/HRC/17/30/Add.1 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, communications to and from governments, paras. 556-571]
Right to health:
· Two men were arrested for alleged homosexuality by officers of the 1st squadron of gendarmes, and are currently detained in prison. They were arrested after their houses were searched. They were forced to undergo an anal examination. It is also alleged that they were handcuffed during medical examinations and were not informed about their right to remain silent or to have recourse to legal assistance.
[A/HRC/17/25/add.1 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, communications to and from Governments, para.70-71]
· On December 4, 2010, a human rights defender was arbitrarily detained by members of the judicial police, handcuffed, blindfolded and placed in a vehicle where he was insulted by an officer and taunted with homophobic expressions. According to information received, the agents beat him repeatedly in the face, chest and back while asking him about his work defending the rights of people living with HIV and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Later, he was released under threat of being attacked again if any complaints were received about the events.
[A/HRC/17/25/add.1 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, communications to and from Governments, para.195-196]
· In cases of homosexual detainees, prison staff follow an isolation procedure, during which time these prisoners receive psychological “treatment” and are kept apart from the rest of the prison population for no reason besides their sexual orientation or gender identity.
[A/HRC/17/25/add.3 – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, mission to the Syrian Arab Republic, para.78]
Sunday, June 12, 2011
BY JANICE BUDD Associate Editor — firstname.lastname@example.org
STUDENTS of at least four Corporate Area high schools complain that they are being terrorised by gangs of aggressive lesbians at their schools who target young, vulnerable girls for sexual favours.
Reports of the activities of these gangs have reached as high a level as the Ministry of Education. However, despite efforts to get information on what were reportedly top-level discussions within the ministry on the wave of reports of rampant lesbian activities in some high schools, there was no official response to the Sunday Observer's queries.
But a ministry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that officials have received complaints from distraught parents who claim that their children are being bullied, or, in some cases, lured into these lesbian cliques.
One almost painfully shy fourth form student at a prominent Corporate Area high school, who said we could call her Keisha (which is not her real name), admitted that she is being terrorised by a group of belligerent lesbians at her school.
"A lot of the lesbians at my school act like man and they walk in a group," Keisha told the Sunday Observer.
She is one of a handful of teen girls who spoke with this newspaper, on condition of anonymity, about their experiences with gangs of teenaged lesbians in their high schools.
"Sometimes they would touch me on my breast when I use the bathroom and they would laugh," she elaborated.
So great is her fear of being sexually attacked by her same-sex peers, that she has stopped going to the school's bathroom alone.
"I am afraid to go into the bathroom by myself because the girls are bigger than me and I don't want them to hold me down," she said.
Her fear of being forced to endure unsolicited sexual activities is grounded in the fact that she has already been violated sexually by these girls.
She was reluctant to divulge the details of the assault, but her paranoia is apparent, and she is so traumatised by her experience that she has resorted to cutting herself.
Another student, who used the name 'Jenny', and who is a third form student at an all-girl Kingston high school, said her experience is somewhat different from Keisha's
She said she has been friends with a group of lesbian classmates since they started high school and she is very accepting of their lifestyle choice as long as they don't try to involve her in their activities.
"For me, they have been my friends from seventh grade. As long as they don't put it to me, I'm OK. I will even listen to dem love problem," she said and recalled that even when they were in seventh grade, some of her friends boasted of intimate relationships with older girls in 11th grade.
'Boasted' being the operative word, because, according to Jenny, "it's a popularity thing now... they (the lesbians) are the most popular girls in school now".
"A lot of them, it's more accepted now and they can show themselves up more," she claimed.
Jenny also admitted that she knows that some of the girls gang up on the seventh graders, explaining, in a very matter-of-fact way, that "yes, dem gang dem. Some trying to get some girls from first form 'cause dem vulnerable at dat stage".
"Is a big problem, especially if they think you are that way, they will try to get wid you," she added.
When the Sunday Observer asked Keisha if her own experience with being constantly fondled against her will by lesbian gangs was unique to her school, she insisted she had heard about it happening elsewhere.
"Yes, I know girls who go to other schools who have been attacked because lesbians try to touch them and they refuse. These girls (the lesbians) usually are in groups and they are usually very intimidating," she explained.
As terrified as Keisha is about being targeted by lesbian classmates, she is more terrified about her family finding out about her troubles with this unwelcome sexual attention in school.
"I don't tell my parents, but I tell my friends and we go together in a group to use the bathroom and protect each other," she said.
Keisha said she has refused to share her experiences with adults, aside from confiding in a counsellor who has no connection to her school. She has absolutely no faith in the school system or guidance counsellors.
"Many students don't feel like they can trust the teachers to tell them about lesbians attacking them, and also, we are afraid of other students finding out and talking about it. They might say that is my fault and think I'm a lesbian too," the young girl said.
She added that sexual assaults similar to hers are often unreported, because the perpetrators are usually athletic and involved in school sports and have no problem starting fights.
"Most of the time, no report is made because of fear. So nothing happens," she said.
Jenny claimed that at her school, the guidance counsellor, and even the dean of discipline have been made aware of the situation. The Sunday Observer was unable to get an official comment on the matter from that school.
However, according to the teen, "teachers dem know but dem can't go to a girl and seh 'you are a lesbian', because they know they will get the wrong".
This was corroborated by sexologist Shelley-Ann Weeks, in whom some of the girls interviewed for this article have chosen to confide.
Weeks said guidance counsellors are required to report any assault of a sexual nature to the authorities. As is the case with heterosexual rape victims, there is great reluctance to report the incident to the police, for fear of victimization.
"Some girls suffer in silence, and if you ask them about it, they are going to deny it," she said.
In fact, the issue is so taboo, that the silence extends into the schools' administrations.
After being contacted by the Sunday Observer, a senior staff member at one Kingston high school confirmed she had heard the reports of lesbian gangs at her institution. However, while very candid off the record, she did not want her name, nor that of her school mentioned.
"Talk is there, but there is no evidence," she said, alluding to the problem which seems to dog many of these cases -- the lack of proof because no one is willing to state the facts publicly.
She explained that over time, parents have complained about problems with their daughters being bullied by homosexual classmates, but when the time comes for the school to act, no one wants to identify the culprits.
She confirmed what this paper's investigations had revealed -- that parents at a recent PTA meeting almost came to blows over the hot-button issue as fingers were pointed at their daughters.
She said from time to time there is a wave of rumours that the school is rife with lesbians. Some of these rumours, she feels, are circulated by rival co-ed schools. The school's administration responds with a major intervention programme. However, it eventually peters out when no one comes forward with names.
The senior staff member explained that the school has turned to its guidance counsellor for help and has been having open discussions about the issue with the student population.
School officials, she added, have also been made aware that adult females have been attempting to lure schoolgirls into relationships by offering them money, among other things.
But she offered another angle, that for some teen girls, being a part of a lesbian crew carries with it a level of prestige, a social boost that some girls wouldn't otherwise get.
Psychologist and sex therapist Dr Sydney McGill agrees.
"Lesbianism in schools today may not follow classical patterns. It is normal for young, pubescent girls who are just finding or exploring their sexuality to show interest in other girls and even (female) teachers," he said, adding that usually, the girls grow out of it.
But, he said, in Jamaica today, this phenomenon of lesbian groups in schools is more related to Jamaican gang culture.
"To be part of a gang, it's not just boys, but girl gangs have an aggressive connotation today," he said.
In fact, McGill believes lesbian school gangs are now touting their behaviour as a way up the social pecking order in schools.
"It is a badge of honour to be part of these groups, and a big deal," he explained, blaming a crisis of leadership in the home and in society.
Also, being a part of this powerful and feared group of sexual bullies inspires admiration and provides a sense of security among more insecure girls, McGill added.
"If you don't have a functioning male in the house and no mother or female figure who feels secure in providing and protecting the child, it (joining lesbian gangs at school) has a bearing on economics as well," he said.
However, a major factor, he also feels, is the over-sexualisation of Jamaican children
Weeks thinks this phenomenon is a shocking reality that society just needs to tackle head-on.
"I feel that as adults we cannot continue trying to hide sexuality from young people, because they are being exposed to it on a daily basis," she said. "The sex education that exists now in schools is clearly not enough to arm them with what they need to make responsible decisions."
She feels more information on sexual identity and discrimination should be included in the lessons that are being offered now in classrooms.
"It's time we open our eyes to the fact that our young people are dealing with sexuality issues and it's our job to guide them and give them the correct tools so that they can make a smooth transition to adulthood," Weeks said.
Even if too that it's teens who are exhibiting this behaviour towards other teens dem gaydar or lesdar in this case maybe functioning perfectly lol as dem nah go just target some random smaddy knowing well the consequences despite their age groups as old and young know how de ting set when it comes to perceived paedophilia or predatory behaviour, if this case is a one off scenario then why use it to create panic in an entire system and by extension the nation?
Maybe the discussion ought to center strongly around initiation and sexual orientation in pubescents and not frighten people like dis which might lead to some backlash especially towards butches as the story seems to stress on aggressiveness and the supposed imposing aesthetics of the sisters involved
Janice Budd needs to be better informed on the differences between peadophile behavior and curiosity.
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thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venure that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it