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5 Girls & 7 Boys – Gender and Sex in a Kindergarten Class

On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed.  Today was my first chance.

A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY.  His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him.  Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.

boy and girl clipart

The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes.  “Seven boys.”  The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”.  She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting.  “Five girls.”  That number gets written on the board too.  An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers.  “Twelve kids.  Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”

Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral.  At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school.  At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space.  And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that.  If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?”  Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY.  “Who feels like a girl?”  Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL.  But I think we can do better.  Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all?  After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).

Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers.  Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”.  Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions.  After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day.  Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all.  This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.

I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest.  I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all.  She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response…  what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life.  While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating.  Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY…  simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue…  can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.

A2Z – Love & Marriage

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity

 

I’ve been out sick the last couple of days, and am just as sick today as I was yesterday…  so really shouldn’t be blogging at all.  BUT I hate to miss a deadline, even a self imposed one.  I knew I could fit L and M into one post, and as long as it went up on Sunday I’d still be on schedule for the Alphabet Blog Challenge.  Of course, I figured all this out on Friday afternoon, when I figured I’d b all shiny by Sunday.  And now it’s Sunday.  And the last thing I want to be doing is blogging.  Seriously.

Being sick sucks.  But want to know what makes it easier to get through?  Knowing I have the love of someone who will see me through it all… someone who doesn’t care if I’m dripping mucus from every orifice, sinuses unloading in all sorts of unattractive, downright, inhuman ways…  And you know what sucks?  Knowing that some people are denied this same gooey “stand by me” melodrama that marriage provides.

Sure, you can stand by someone without a contract (and lets face it, when you get down to brass tacks that is what marriage is), and for those who are content doing so without?  Well, I think that’s great!  In fact, I know some happily unmarried folks who have been in a state of unwedded bliss for almost as long as I’ve been alive.  However, for those who WANT to be married, they should have the same right to do so as anyone.  Some chicks marry chicks, some doods marry doods… get over it people.

I, for one, am glad this is one area in which the Canadian government hasn’t seriously screwed over it’s people.  This is one thing which they’ve gotten very right.  It shouldn’t matter what parts a person has, love and marriage are about what’s in your HEART not what’s in your PANTS.  And now that I’ve made my point?  I’m closing up my computer, and crawling back into my flu-induced stupor, feeling much better for NOT having missed my deadline.

Government sanctioned discrimination, way to go Canada!

So, it appears Canada is again on the chopping block thanks to Harper.  Our flags once waved proud, but now are just as often full of disgrace.  This newest measure allows discrimination based on gender, going so far as to allow airport security the right to allow or deny access to individuals based on their gender.

Under section 5.2(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act:

“An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if:  the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”

Why is this an issue?  Because for many Trans individuals the sex on their passport may not coincide with their gender.  There are very strict rules in place for changing the sex on your international identification that only a very small segment of the populace qualifies for.  These rules make it impossible for non-operative Trans people to have the M or F on their documents changed to reflect their actual gender.  A better solution, if this wording is to remain in place would be to allow for an “Other” designation.  Gender is, after all, a social construct that has nothing to do with an individuals sex (which, lets be honest, also has more than two possibilities).  Alas, we are stuck in a society that appears to enjoy this incorrect, yet entrenched, gender binary.

This goes even farther though.  The instant we allow those with limited power the ability to select who qualifies as female and who as male – based on how they present, we are opening ourselves up for all sorts of abuses.  Gender is a social construct that changes with time.  It used to be that we dressed our long haired little boys in pink dresses, while the girls wore blue.

What happens when the thirteen year old girl, with short cropped hair, wearing low rise baggy pants and a jersey is denied access to a plane to fly home to her parents after spending part of the Summer with her grandparents?  This policy gives airports the right to determine who is female enough, or male enough to board their planes.  The potential abuses this brings forward are downright scary.  Don’t think for a second that because you are not a genderqueer, or trans individual, or because you don’t have a gender creative child that it won’t affect you.  This is something that has the potential to harm us all.  Will we all have to don a dress and kerchief in order to be female enough to avoid speculation?  It’s a scary idea.  Men, don’t even think about wearing that salmon coloured shirt, you too may be pulled for questioning regarding your gender presentation.  Is this really a slope we even want to start on?

There is a petition here:  http://www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/tell-harper-to-allow-trans-people-to-fly-on-airplanes/758  Add your name, and let Harper and his yes men know that you are saying NO to this government sanctioned discrimination.  And for more information and ideas on what you can do to combat this, check out what Chris Milloy has to say here:  http://chrismilloy.ca/2012/01/transgender-people-are-completely-banned-from-boarding-airplanes-in-canada/

female enough to fly?In 1930 Amy Johnson finished a record-winning solo flight from England to Australia.  Would she be “female enough” to be allowed on a plane in Canada in 2012?  I wonder.

A girl is a girl is a girl!

A “girl” is not defined by what is between her legs as this Girl Scout and her family believe.  Having someone so young spouting such bigotry and hatred breaks my heart.  I don’t blame her though, the fault lies with her family and community at large.  It is hard enough growing up confident and secure in oneself without the added problems faced by transgendered children.  To recommend that people boycott Girl Scout Cookies because Girl Scouts (as an organization) have chosen to accept transgirls as they are, as GIRLS, is abhorrent in every possible way.  This girl’s family should be ashamed for spreading such hate through their child.  Talk about pushing an adult agenda.  Hate is ALWAYS an adult agenda, it’s never the choice of a child.

So go!  Buy your cookies.  Heck!  I’m considering having some shipped up here to Canada just to say YES! We support our girls!  ALL of our girls.

Want to see what has me so upset?  Check out the hate below:

And some people wonder why my project “The Power of SHe” is so important, now more than ever.  For more information on The Power of SHe, and how you can get involved, head on over to:  https://td365.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/the-power-of-she-2/  I’m currently looking for women interested in being photographed…  I have some captures in mind, but some will be based on the stories of those who apply.  Let’s challenge the view of what defines Women.  We are mighty!  Diverse yet united!

Tobi-Dawne Smith for Saskatoon-Meewasin

Tobi-Dawne Smith and her daughter, Lily-Ann, experiencing the joy of finding a baby snake out in the green of Saskatchewan.

Tobi-Dawne Smith and her Daughter Lily-Ann

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Tobi-Dawne Smith is proud to be running in her home riding, a riding that boasts incredible diversity. As a member of a multi-racial family, she believes in the strength found in an open sharing of cultural and religious traditions. An open and honest dialogue is the best way to bridge gaps and bring understanding. The candor found in a quiet moment of respect is something all people should seek.

The search for authenticity isn’t something that ends when Smith, a professional photographer, puts down her lens. It’s a part of everything she does. Whether she’s busy in her most important role as mother to an incredible four year old, helping families create a legacy through photography, or cultivating initiatives to create safe spaces for at-risk youth.

Ms. Smith spent the last eight months working with Camp fYrefly, which celebrated it’s third year in Saskatchewan with it’s retreat this August. Camp fYrefly is a life changing program designed to help foster leadership skills and resiliency in gender variant and sexual minority youth, youth who are at the greatest risk of bullying and suicide. Now that Camp has been wrapped up, she has accepted a role on the Board for Breaking the Silence – an annual conference in support of the LGBTT2QIA community at the University of Saskatchewan.

Tobi-Dawne’s role as a mother has strengthened her resolve to be socially responsible and to help build a better future for her daughter, and all the children of Saskatchewan. She recognizes that our children depend on her to fight against inequality, and to help create with them a more genuine safe future for our province. TD also realizes the only political party within which she can truly achieve these goals is the Green Party of Saskatchewan.

The Green Party’s six guiding principles: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability and respect for diversity.  Guiding principles we should all strive to uphold.

Nothing on the horizon

Going through iCal today, figuring out what I need to do next, I’ll admit to getting teary when I realized there is nothing relating to Camp fYrefly on the horizon.  I’ve been so focused on camp the last six months, it’s an odd feeling seeing NOTHING on iCal in purple (purple is the colour I chose for all things Camp fYrefly related, I’m big on colour-coding it’s the only way to keep organized).

I truly feel that everything I’d done in my life, somehow lead up to my position as camp coordinator.

  • My work with youth, and winning the “youth for youth” award in high school.
  • Personal experiences and interactions throughout high school, university, and beyond.
  • All of my equal rights activism
  • My life in politics
  • The experiences I’ve had running a political party
  • The time I’ve spent in front of the camera at media events
  • My time behind the camera, appreciating the inherent beauty in all people
  • The negative and positive experiences of owning my own business(es)
  • The fact that I’m so crafty/artsy
  • My being so “sex positive” and open to talking about pretty much anything
  • All of the years I’ve spent studying and teaching operant conditioning
  • Even becoming a mom

All of it, it all led to the moments at camp.  Those vital, amazing, life changing, life AFFIRMING moments.  And now, looking at my calendar, knowing that it’s over…  well…  I’d admit to there being an immense sense of loss.  Sure, I still have lots of work before camp stuff will actually be done with.  Lots of little detail things, invoices, bills, receipts, paperwork, reports, etc.  And I still have all of my amazing, incredible, stupendous campers – none of whom I intend to lose track of, and all whom I hope will be up for the occasional get-together/reunion.  But there is still a part of me mourning, seeing nothing actually scheduled in.  Nothing purple on my calendar.  It’s a feeling I didn’t expect, but there it is, just the same.

I feel lonely.

OMG!

I honestly never thought I’d see legislation like this passed during my lifetime.  It was too much to hope for.  Let’s hope that California merely leads the way, and soon the rest of North America follows.  It would be a dream to have my daughter and her friends grow up learning about the amazing LGBT men and women who led the way to freedom, and those who who still continue the fight for equality.

 

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/07/california-assembly-approves-landmark-bill-that-would-require-teaching-of-lgbt-history/

 

I honestly have tears rolling down my cheeks over this.

Regina Woman Refused Her Right to Vote!

A woman, who went to cast her ballot at an advanced poll, was turned away.  Not because she forgot her I.D. or couldn’t prove residency…  but because of a medical condition.  An enumerator who went to her residence simply decided that she wasn’t fit to vote, without even talking to her.  Then, when she went to the polling station, she was turned away on the grounds of being unregistered.

Can we say DISCRIMINATION?

Need some help?

dihskrim-uh-neyshuhn

This woman, like any other, regardless of age or disability, deserves to cast her vote as she sees fit.  It is her right as a Canadian citizen.  Wherever she places her X, it is her right to do so.

I honestly hope there are some serious consequences for the unnamed enumerator in this mess.  This is not a matter that should be handled internally.  I personally would like to see some outside involvement, and possible charges being laid.  Discrimination on any basis is not something to be taken lightly.

I am honestly too outraged to post much more than the basic facts here…  I’ll soon start making up words and just flinging my arms around violently.  This is SOOOO not okay.  Not even remotely.

This woman, regardless of how well she understands the political game (and truly, how well do any of us understand it?), deserves to vote.  The fact that some government worker went to her home and simply decided she was unfit – without even talking to her – is reprehensible.  Very honestly, if someone is capable of telling you their name, their age, and can identify themselves as a Canadian citizen (in one way or another), then they have the right to put their X wherever they see fit.  Even if this information must be relayed through a third party (as would be the case for my younger sister, Marie) they have the right to vote.

Appalling!

To read the story by CBC, click below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2011/04/28/sk-voting-senior-110428.html

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