homophobia

jarrahpenguin's picture

How I Became a Feminist

arvan's picture

Sarah Graham: A Letter to my Body

'A Letter to my Body' is a series of essays - broadcast on BBC Radio 3 - in which five thinkers, artists and writers ask themselves how they relate to their own bodies.

Sarah Graham, a successful therapist and addictions counsellor, explores her at times turbulent relationship with her body.  From the age of eight Sarah was given ongoing medical treatment but she only learned the real nature of her diagnosis at the age of twenty-five when a gynaecologist finally revealed the truth: that she has XY chromosomes and is an intersex woman.

Doctors had even shielded her parents from the truth about her "disorder of sexual development".

The shock of the revelation led Sarah on a path of depression and addiction which nearly killed her. However she has gradually rebuilt her health and her self esteem. In this essay she makes peace with her body and challenges homophobia in religion and our society's polarised expectations of gender.

AIS Support Group: http://www.aissg.org/

Christina Engela's picture

Are Militant Homosexual Activists An Extinct Species?

Back in the day, opponents of equality and human rights for us Pink folks used to call anyone who dared speak out against them or shoot down their ridiculous arguments "militant homosexual activists". Typically, they used to show their blatant ignorance by calling transgender activists the very same thing as well. But regardless of the details, today I have to wonder where all those "militant activists" have gone?

The Radical Right is still here, attacking our humanity, our right to exist - and I have to ask, where are all those bold voices who used to speak out against them? Why aren't they still here, taking them on and calling them out on their prejudice, hypocrisy and bigotry?

Time passes, sure - and 1993 was almost 20 years ago now, when those right-wing folks opposed dismantling the laws that made gay and trans people into criminals in South Africa, when all the nut-jobs went to Parliament to tell the fledgling democratically-elected "government of national unity" (remember those days?) why treating gay people like human beings would lead to the fall of civilization - and allowing transsexuals to be logged correctly in the population register would "endanger children". Of course, back then there were activists who stood up to them, and took them on - exposing their propaganda and misinformed bigotry - and explained that just because the rest of Africa wants to murder people based on their gender or sexuality, it doesn't mean that South Africa has to follow their example - or bless it with religious fervor.

This was shortly followed by the publication of a nasty little book which sought to turn the Pink Community into the new most-hated and feared social group in the "new" South Africa. This attempt to scapegoat Pink folk brought plentiful support from right-wing fruit loops into the fray. The newly formed African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), neck-deep in the promotion of the book, was there too. And yes, there were some dedicated voices speaking out against them, bringing undeniable facts into the argument in opposition to regurgitated junk-science borrowed from the works of foreign fantasy writers like Paul Cameron and James Dobson.
Christina Engela's picture

Gender Stereotypes And Diversity

The following is a speech I made at a university in Port Elizabeth today, where I was asked to speak on stereotypes and the trans community as part of their Diversity Week. A special note of thanks to Busisiwe Deyi of the Eloquor Society.

My name is Christina Engela and I'm here to talk to you about transgender and transsexual stereotypes.

If someone just said the word "transsexual" or "transgender", what sort of image would pop up in your heads? What is the stereotype?

Mrs Doubtfire? Boy George? A drag performer on stage? A man in women's clothing? What sort of stereotypes come to mind? A stereotype is like gossip - even though it hasn't been proved, people still accept it as fact, and I suppose it depends on what people have been saying.

Am I someone who's after your children or perving over other women in the ladies room? Do I pee standing up? Am I someone that other people need to be protected against? Am I a threat to society?

I'm sure you can tell I have a "unique" voice for a woman - but I can assure you that I am none of these things.

When we talk about transgender and transsexual stereotypes, lots of words come to mind, words like "freak", "pervert", "deviant", "he-she's" and a lot of other nasty words that are meant to hurt. But do any of the people who use these words or say these things about us actually know what it means to be a transsexual person? Do they know what is true and what is false about transgender people? Or are they just acting on an assumption based on their lack of knowledge of something?

This is the nature of a stereotype, it is based on ignorance, assumption and inaccuracy.

I am a transsexual woman, which means that I was born in a male body, but I underwent painful surgeries to become the woman I always knew I was inside. A transsexual person doesn't change their physical gender because they just wake up one day and feel like it. It is a lifelong unhappiness with a medical condition in which a mind of one gender is born into a physical body of another. It was something I had to do in order to continue to live and to be happy.

I've just told you this, but up until this moment, did you know what a transsexual woman was? Or did you believe the stereotype?

I mentioned ignorance - because if I don't know what a transgender or transsexual person is, then how can I know the truth from a lie? In fact, there is so much ignorance out there about gender issues that many trans people don't even know that they are trans, until they eventually work it out for themselves, or they become so unhappy with the way their lives are that they are forced to look for help. You see, ignorance - and stereotyping causes so much needless suffering.

If someone tells you a lie about trans people, or if people claim that being transgender is "un-African" or "unnatural", then how can you know if they're lying? Well I can tell you that if you don't see any transgender people in your community, then that is because they are hiding. And they are hiding because they are afraid of people who are afraid of anything that is different to themselves - people who act in anger brought on by their own fear, which is brought on by ignorance.

People fear the unknown, and not knowing something is ignorance. Ignorance is what breeds negative stereotypes, and these reinforce fear. So you have a vicious circle of ignorance, fear and negative stereotypes. And the way to break this vicious circle - and the answer to ignorance - is education.

If you don't know what a transgender person is all about, then find out - ask one, and they will tell you.

Ask me, I am one - and I know what I am - I'm not a stereotype, I'm happy, and I'm not afraid.

(Posted at Sour Grapes)

Christina Engela's picture

Blind Eyes, Deaf Ears

Sometimes I get despondent because it feels like my efforts are wasted, my warnings go unheard, my words fall on deaf ears like seeds falling on hard, dry earth.

It was just three short years ago when I first started my "career" in human rights advocacy and fighting for equality of the Pink Community. I can still remember those days, when trying to warn of the very events unfolding now, I was labeled an "upstart" and "irrational" and "alarmist" by some prominent community figures. And yet ironically, today we see the very things I warned against three years ago unfolding. Uganda is today on the verge of instituting the death penalty for homosexuality, and South Africa's government is acting increasingly under the influence of religious extremists. With the "protection of information" and "pornography censorship" bills on the table today, and with Media24 challenging Act no 4 of 2000 (The Promulgation of Equality Act) in the Constitutional Court, they would be hard pressed to convincingly wipe the egg off their faces.

Of course, these two bills amount effectively to censorship of the SA media - and at least as far as one of them is concerned, it is very cleverly constructed - because if you stand up to oppose it, it makes you look like you're in favor of pornography.

Well, I don't like porn - but it's not my business to tell adults what to watch in the privacy of their own lives. Lots of people do, but I don't. I don't see any need to condemn people for liking porn, as long as I don't have to watch it with them. I have no delusions of self-importance compelling me to stand over my neighbor's shoulder to make sure they're not watching porn - mainly because it's not my fucking business. And whatever they like watching on their own time just doesn't concern me, or affect me in any way. After all, there are already laws in place to criminalize child-porn and security protocols to prevent the kiddies from seeing porn on mobile phones and on TV, so I fail to appreciate the need to introduce new laws which will only serve to allow religious fundamentalists to control what everyone else has access to. No, I don't like porn - but I value the constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of association more than a big brother state breathing down my neck telling me what I am allowed to surf, watch or read. And because if we start chipping away at these rights in order to suit just one part of society at large, we start eroding the rights of everyone.
Christina Engela's picture

A World Without Fear

Xenophobia?

What's that?

Recently there were some widely publicized outbreaks of violence in South Africa which were directed at foreigners living in the country, particularly illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Somalia. The term xenophobia was applied to these acts of violence, and many have taken it to mean only this sort of attack on foreign nationals living among the local population - attacks fueled by differences of nationality only. Sorry to burst this little nationalistic bubble - but that's not all there is to xenophobia.

Some very biased and obviously prejudiced people who represent South Africa at the UN and also in other offices of government have recently asserted that racism and xenophobia are far more "important" issues to address than homophobia. Comparing homophobia to racism, they say, is an insult to the victims of racism. Hmm. This appears to be one group having been marginalized and persecuted, recently liberated, and now looking for somebody else to be "better" than and to explore its new-found "superiority" over.

Are you hated? Are you marginalized or persecuted for something which you cannot help being, or for something that is as natural to you as breathing? Congratulations - that makes you another equal victim of xenophobia!
ptaguy's picture

Fundamentalist Christians & Your Porn

(Originally published on http://gaywarfare.blogspot.com/)

ptaguy's picture

Dear Robert Mugabe

(Originally published on http://www.gaywarfare.blogspot.com/)
 
On Fri
Christina Engela's picture

Hook, Line And Stinker

In a new press release in which the Family Research Council (of Focus on the Family and James Dobson infamy) dragged an eight year old "study" out of mothballs and served it up with today's sauce, they once again misrepresent scientific data to undermine human rights and promote their own fascist agenda.

"WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council released a new analytic report today showing that women who did not grow up with their biological mother and father are much more likely to engage in homosexual conduct as adults than are women who grew up in an intact family."

"Oh, goody," Some people will be thinking. "A new study to show how nasty, immoral, un-patriotic, and hostile to "the family" gay people are. And how much of a threat they pose to "our" children!"

As somebody pointed out to me, all to rightly: "Before long, phony religious right experts will be citing this study as fact. It's best to refute the lies before they have a chance to spread." And among the things recklessly promoted in this libelous and poorly researched "study" is the claim that "Women who never attend religious worship are more than three times as likely to have homosexual relationships than are women who attend worship weekly." This is exactly the sort of thing that bigot preachers will seize upon and preach from their pulpits as "gospel truth" and "fact".
Christina Engela's picture

Hate The Sin, Hate The Sinner

Where I come from, being called a bigot used to be an insult, and being called bigoted was an accusation people used to take very seriously. Considering that I grew up in South Africa during the last years of the Apartheid regime, and was schooled under its influence, this is a revealing scenario.

In those days, liberals used to refer to people as bigots because they were supporting and defending racist policies, and were very enthusiastic about it. Very often, the same people used to "categorically deny" being bigoted and would take such accusations very personally while often going to extremes - very often religious extremes - to try to justify their bigotry.

The landscape has changed since then, both politically and socially. As we are so often reminded, queer is the new black. There are no true "conservative" parties in this country today of the same ilk as there is a Conservative Party in the UK for example. No, here we have some small minority parties which are called conservative only because they are staunchly religious fundamentalist in nature and cannot in their minds or in their policies separate the concepts of politics and their particular religions.

Such conservative parties, which despite their claims of speaking on behalf of all "true" Christian South Africans, only form a very small, very vocal minority in the country. Perhaps this is fortunate, because their policies are radical and their reactions to democratic ideals such as freedom, equality and liberty - well, reactionary - and they scare away the moderates. They hijack the stage and the microphone away from the moderate majority and take pride in blurring the lines between church and state, fact and fiction - and actively pursue their goals of spreading malicious myths and slanderous "ex-gay" propaganda in South African culture in order to cultivate their support base.
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