For many people, gender is something that is in constant flux. Changing and evolving – just as we ourselves change, grow, and evolve. This changing is one of the reasons I am not in favour of gender labels (amoungst the many other labels I also disapprove of).
When we are young, or still coming to terms with who we are, gender labels can be useful. But they are just as likely to be binding, and constrictive, and not really indicative of who we are as individuals. What I do find interesting is how our label for the “gender variant” community has grown and changed.
A quick aside here? I don’t like the term gender variant either – at least not as I’ve had to use it above. After all… we are ALL variants. There is no “normal” gender except to be comfortable in who you are, regardless of your sex/gender identity.
All which can appear with or without the “A” at the end. And who knows where we will evolve from here.
Gender is about knowing oneself. And for those who insist, with fervor, that they are only two genders and that they themselves are clearly one or another… How many of you “ladies” wear blue? How many of you “guys” take care of children? Gender is a social construct insisting that traits fall into one category or another. Any variant from those traditional roles is gender variant. So, I insist, gender is about knowing oneself, and being comfortable within your self.
Labels are only useful so you know what’s in a closed box without having to open it. Labels don’t belong on people.
Today has been super busy. Spent the morning with my wee girlie. The early afternoon answering emails and phone calls. A photo shoot in the late afternoon. Supper with my husband and girlie, followed by another shoot. Read a few chapters to the girl, put her to bed… and am now here – with you. Because today was so busy, there are lots of things I could blog about… but more important than anything I did, is something YOU can do.
With the looming general election, there’s a chance that Bill C-389 may end up being scrapped. If it’s not passed soon, it’s done… and all the work that has been done already will be for nothing. Everything will have to start from scratch.
To it’s discredit, Bill C-389 has become known as the “bathroom bill”. But it really has very little to do with public washroom facilities (gendered washrooms vs ungendered ones) and everything to do with human rights. Some folks, particularly the “Christian Right” have been using fear-mongering tactics… claiming it would mean the end of “family values”. And honestly? What a load of bunk.
This bill is about human rights on a VERY basic level. Equality for all people. It simply asks for the words “gender identity, gender expression” to be added to both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. This would give protection to transgendered people, who currently face an appalling amount of discrimination, recrimination, and fear every day… for nothing more than BEING.
You can read the text of the bill itself at: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Parl=40&Ses=3&Mode=1&Pub=Bill&Doc=C-389_1&File=27#1
In an effort to promote fear, prejudice, and incite hatred some are attempting to thwart this bill saying that it would mean that we would need to start teaching trans 101 in pre-school. Quite honestly, these folks are completely out of touch with reality… but, seriously, this is the “worst case scenario” they came up with. The worst possible thing to come out of this legislation would be to teach equality to children? Wow. How is it we haven’t passed this bill already???
We teach equality regardless of sex, equality regardless of race, equality regardless of religion, equality regardless of wealth, equality regardless of creed… why are we not teaching our young children equality regardless of gender?
Bill C-389 is about safety, security, and the right to personhood. Transgendered individuals deserve the same protection under the law that every other person is already guaranteed. It is disgusting that we haven’t already ensured legislation like this is in place.
So, what can you do?
There is a draft letter available at: http://egale.ca/index.asp?lang=&menu=1&item=1451 So if you aren’t confident drafting your own, please feel free to copy and paste the one available there. That is, after all, the whole reason it is there.
If you are in Saskatchewan here are the email addresses for your Senators:
Share this Blog Post!
Share this link on facebook, twitter, or any of the dozens of social networking sites out there. Make people aware of this important bill. Do NOT let it die.
Talk to the Local Media!
Got a favourite news team or news show? Find their website. Chances are they will have contact information listed. Email them, phone them! Make them aware of what is going on. Get them talking!
Tell Your Friends!
Seriously, talk to your friends and family. I bet most of the people you know don’t even know about this bill. Did you?
It is an atrocity that in this day and age there are still people in Canada without basic human rights. Without the right to be free from discrimination, without the right to be free from fear. Bathroom legislation? What a slap in the face. This isn’t about public washrooms. This is about being HUMAN.
Speak up! Get heard! Make change!
Tonight I spent the evening with Anthony. He was the coordinator for Camp fYrefly two years ago, so he’s definitely going to be my right hand man for the next six months. This job means so much to me, in so very many ways… and having a guy like Anthony by my side is only going to make it that much better.
I haven’t felt that lighthearted and that quickly connected with someone in a very long time. It was honestly like breathing for the first time. We just instantly seemed to accept one another as we were, for who each of us is. No expectations. Just open and honest. And by some twist of fate, we have SOOO much in common. So many of the same drives, the same passions. It really was awesome getting to know him. I am so looking forward to our next tete a tete.
At one point, a couple hours into our evening, Anthony got really quiet. And the tone became very serious. He said to me, “I don’t want to offend you… but…” I was nervous about what might come next. Questions and statements that follow something like that can be brutal, and slash a person to the core. He finished, looking quizzical but open and honest, staring into my eyes as if searching, “…are you in a heterosexual relationship?”
I’m sure I broke out into the biggest, goofiest grin. I laughed brightly as I answered in the affirmative. And he grinned and laughed with me.
It felt so good to be accepted for who I am without anything about me or my sexual identity just being assumed. Everywhere we go, people instantly judge us. They make assumptions about who we are, how we identify, making labels for us for their own convenience and security. It was amazing to NOT have all that taken for granted, to just be allowed to be me without it mattering, with the question coming almost as an afterthought, yet with concern about how it would make me feel.
Anthony? Tonight you affirmed for me all of the reasons I first wanted to apply for this position. Thank you!
It’s amazing to find such a fast friend. One you can open up to and share secrets with so very quickly. And I believe I’ve found that in Anthony. I look forward to many more evenings together with my right hand man.
Yay Camp fYrefly!
If you haven’t heard yet, here’s your “heads up”. Breaking the Silence is this weekend! Not familiar with it? Here’s your chance to learn more. It’s well worth learning about, and soooo worth attending.
You can find all the details at: http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/
I’ll be there at the Camp fYrefly table during all the breaks. Otherwise you’ll find me checking out all the different sessions and speakers. There’s one in particular I’m looking forward to, early in the afternoon, in regards to life as a Transgendered individual in Saskatchewan. Should be really interesting. As someone who is active politically, I’m also very interested in the keynote address on Friday evening. Marci McDonald is speaking on “Religion and Politics: Where in Heaven’s name is Canada going?”.
Should be an awesome day and a half. Hope to see you all there!
I am so excited about my position as coordinator for this years Camp fYrefly, seriously. LOL Tonight was my first board meeting. What a fabulous eclectic group of people. I’m going to have a lot of fun working with everyone.
Anthony (the coordinator for Saskatoon, two years ago) is going to be a lot of fun to work with… and it looks like we’ll be working pretty closely on a number of things.
At one point during our meeting, I actually got goosebumps. Do you know how exciting it is to be a part of something that can give you goosebumps? Lots of work to be done, and I’m so excited to get started.
It’s odd coming home to a sleeping household though. I left here at about 4:30, I only got a short visit with the girlie after school before I had to start getting ready. And I come home to a dark house, her fast asleep in our bed. But I know she was in good hands, safe and listened to.
Briefly, at about seven, the realization dawned on me that I’d normally be home reading “chapters” with the girl. It’s part of our nighttime ritual. But we both survived just fine.
It’s hard to go from sitting in a board room, directly to laying in bed… so I’m glad I’ve got this time to blog and unwind. My brain is all over the place still, feeling a little pulled and a little scattered. It was a lot to take in, the start of a grand adventure. It really is exciting.
I am often astonished by ignorance. I shouldn’t be. You’d think, at some point, I’d get used to it… but I don’t. Ignorance always astounds me.
One of my friends recently posted a picture on her profile, she looked absolutely smashing! Yet one of the first comments posted insisted that she was “not a girl” and went on to list all the reasons why she’d never “pass” as female. This particular friend, despite the ignorance displayed by this commenter, held her head high, and exhibited more poise than I’d have mustered. She knows this individual may not ever truly accept her for who she is, yet she still shows nothing but kindness and love towards them… and THAT, above all else, screams of Womanly grace.
Why must we hold Women, and girls, to such high standards? Are we not all people? Do we not all have faults? Why must we be bombarded by the tabloid version of feminine beauty? And why, oh why, must there be jerks out there who feel that is the way it SHOULD be???
What makes a person a Woman? Is it her uterus? Is it her breasts? Is it her soft facial features? Or is it her strength?
Women are powerful, women are beautiful. Women are amazing. And there is no definition of “Woman” that you can give that would be acceptable to me.
I am a proud third-wave feminist. And I believe that Women cannot be boxed up, put on a shelf, and slapped with a definitive label… And anyone who tries to do just that does a greater harm to themselves than they could ever do to us.
Gabrielle? This post is for you. You are beautiful, you are strong… And he’s right, you’re not a girl… you are a WOMAN!
BTW, when my daughter saw this picture she said “Wow! She looks like a girl from the movies!” 🙂
Today I have so many feelings coursing through… Life for me has rarely been easy. Seriously. But today, it kind of feels like perhaps karma may not be the bitch some folks make her out to be.
I am the new Camp Coordinator for the 2011 Camp fYrefly in Saskatchewan. For some, that probably doesn’t mean a darn thing. For others, I’m sure you’re jumping up and down with joy for me.
Camp fYrefly is an amazing thing. It’s a leadership retreat for LGBTTQ youth. Through the course of the “camp”, kids learn how to become agents for change, how to change attitudes, how to inspire others and themselves. At risk youth, go from the threat of becoming a statistic to becoming our future. A future of strong, healthy, empathetic, and driven people… the kinds of people who can change our world for the better.
So… am I excited? You bet your ass!
I never would have dreamed that I’d have the chance to become involved, especially in such an instrumental way, with something so incredible. Yet here I am. Maybe, sometimes, good things DO happen to good people. Sometimes years of struggle are rewarded.
This is going to be an amazing Summer.
Am I going to be busy? TOTALLY.
With my photography, dog show weekends, and Camp fYrefly… all in addition to being a mom and my commitments with the Green Party? I’ll probably be run off my feet. But it’s going to be amazing. Life changing. Sometimes finding joy is easy, and sometimes you have to shake things up a bit… sometimes you have go out and grab it. So I did. And I’m so excited to get started. Today, everything seems within the realm of possibilities.
I am good enough, and now I know others see that too.
For more information on Camp fYrefly visit: http://www.usask.ca/education/fyrefly/
Breeder. It’s a word you hear passed back and forth with very little thought at many of the events I attend. In LGBTTQ circles it refers to folks who are in hetero relationships. Little to no thought is given to the word, and depending on who it is coming from it can be completely benign or laced with arsenic. Regardless of who says it, it hurts my heart every time I hear it.
Personally, I hate labels. It doesn’t really matter if there is any negative connotation to them or not. I don’t like them. Why can’t we all just be who we are, and leave that up to others to discover as they get to know us? Why do we need to cover ourselves with these long shipping crate stickers declaring ourselves “this” or “that” or “the other”? I don’t see the need.
So… I hate labels in general. But I really hate it when someone calls me a breeder. I have a daughter. I am involved in a heterosexual relationship. Is that really all it takes?
My husband and I had been together for TEN YEARS before we made a conscious decision to become pregnant. And if we ever choose to do so again, it will be given equal weight – but in all honestly, our one daughter will probably be the only child who ever comes from our bodies. Does that make us breeders? Really???
I know heterosexual couples that I’d be tempted to call breeders. Folks who had children because that’s just what you do. You get married, you have kids. People who have baby after baby after baby… people who barely give it a second thought. They may have earned the label.
But people like myself? Who choose to have a child after years of careful consideration? I’m not a breeder.
I know people who are involved in homosexual relationships that, given the opportunity, would be breeders. They get married, and they want to have kids – because it’s just what you do. The only thing that slows them down is that it takes a little more planning when you have to outsource for parts.
Maybe I’m being a little sensitive, but I think I’ve earned that right. Being involved in dogs, all I can think of when I hear some woman being called a “breeder” is a bitch with a litter of four or five puppies… laying on her side, passive and resigned, as they all jostle for a nipple. I don’t think anyone really deserves that.
So please, think twice before you call someone a breeder. I know, a great deal of the time, it’s not said with anything negative behind it… but it’s not a nice word, and it certainly doesn’t convey anything positive. Like any label, it has the ability to harm – so please think before you throw it around.
A fellow writer, Mom, and Canuck, wrote a blog post today entitled “Owning My Own Beauty“. It lead me to “Own Your Beauty“, an online campaign hoping to change the way women think about beauty. It was this that got me thinking tonight.
When I hear the word beauty, or more specifically, when I think about beautiful people my list may be different than some. Many end up with a list similar to People magazine’s most beautiful people list. I truly believe the people on my list are far more deserving of the word. Here are some of the first people who come to mind for me:
Each of these persons is amazingly beautiful, inside and out. Incredible fighters, working for a cause, determined to bring us into a better world free of discrimination and prejudice. These are the sorts of people our daughters should be looking up to. Each willing to put themselves on the line, willing to speak their minds, unwilling to compromise on what’s important. They may believe in different things, they may work towards different ends, but they are all beautiful incredible people.
Apologies to the many, many more beautiful people I know. It would have taken me ages to create a complete and exhaustive list featuring all of you. And to those of you here, I hope you don’t mind that I just snagged one of your facebook photos. Some of you I have photos of that I took myself (but I’m not posting from my desktop computer so don’t have access to them just now) and others I’ve never met in person (but do hold out the hope that one day I will).
How many beautiful people do YOU know? If you open your eyes AND heart I’m sure you’ll find that they are everywhere. 🙂
Be kind to each other.