Christina Engela's picture

Growing Pains

Over the past few months a war of words has been raging over the activities of "ex-gay" groups in the USA and around the world wherever they have set up affiliates or branches of their own - including in my own country, South Africa. The "ex-gay" movement operates on a purely religious basis and claims solely out of a misinterpretation of religious dogma, that gay (or trans) people can and should either deny their nature - or "change". They claim all sorts of "studies" and "proof" exist to support their theories, but the truth is that no such evidence exists - and that every reputable medical, scientific and psychological institute, authority or body asserts that "conversion therapy" - IE attempts to change sexual orientation by "ex-gay" industry, is dangerous, risky and harmful to those it affects.

All this has prompted me to look back - and inwards, to a time when I was struggling for self-acceptance, and to find my own identity.

The very first thought I can remember which indicated to me that there was something "different" or "abnormal" about me (those are increasingly dangerous and stigmatized words these days) was when I was three years old and sitting on a potty, looking at my genitalia and thinking "that shouldn't be there". I am sure it is no coincidence that many of my best ideas since then have also come to me under similar circumstances. *Grin*
Christina Engela's picture

Cross Purposes


The issue of same-gender marriage is a hot topic at present around the world. The USA, the "bastion" of liberal society - at least in theory - is watching closely the current legal review of the Constitutional validity of the Proposition 8 vote which rescinded marriage equality for same-gender couples in California in December 2008. Proponents of Proposition 8 also pushed for the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) to redefine the legal concept of marriage to mean "one man, one woman".

At present, the trial is filled with emotional appeals of the gay community for the State to recognize human rights, dignity and equality, and opposing statements from the defenders of marriage against the nasty, inhuman gay people - whose existence "threatens" religion, society and "the family" - that marriage "always has been" between males and females - and that this inequality somehow justifies the enforced continuation of this inequality.

Apparently some people seem to think that marriage "always has been" between males and females - and that this inequality somehow justifies the enforced continuation of this inequality.
Christina Engela's picture

Rubber Room With A View


Despite clear and easily understood press releases, explanations and statements released by eminent scientists to explain that diverse sexual orientation and gender identity is perfectly natural, and despite their attempts to simplify the explanations - some people, typically narrow minded religious fundamentalists, refuse to accept that gay people are born gay and transgender people, transgender.
"No, that's not it - it has to be a sin!  These perverts like it - they're choose to be gay."
Really?  Is it nice to get fired because your playboy boss finally figured out you're actually into girls?  Is it fun to be chased down a dark alley by a gang of rough-necks who figured out you're trans?  Do they really think this is fun to us?  Is being gay or transsexual THAT good?
No, they are "sinners who make a sinful lifestyle choice", or they are tragic "victims of child abuse", "examples of bad parenting" or (my personal favorite) they are "mentally ill".
They insist that although they made no conscious choice to be straight, get married and make lots of little rug rats, some people inexplicably woke up one morning and chose to be gay.  Despite all the answers being clear and easily available (can you spell "plain as the nose on your face"?) they stubbornly and consistently reject facts which they CANNOT argue against in favor of rhetoric, propaganda and junk-science.
Christina Engela's picture

Put Up Or Shut Up



Yet another festive season filled with things sweet and nice - friendship, family and good memories. A time often laced, for some - with a bitter undertone of loneliness, sorrow and loss. Some people find the "silly season" significant in terms of religious meaning. I find it laced with hypocrisy, shallow commercialism, false piety and genuine arrogance. What am I referring to? I will tell you:

Every year around this time, the South African National Blood Service starts whining about low blood stocks and the fact that they are desperately in need of donors. This past week I have seen the familiar call on lamp posts and in news headlines.

Once again, I find a grim, sarcastic smile on my lips. Why?

Every year around this time, many people will answer this call - whether out of concern for others, civic duty or simply out of helpfulness and love for their fellow human beings. What I find both sad and hypocritical is the fact that every year this time, many people who do so, will find themselves turned away and indirectly told that neither they, nor their blood - are good enough for the high and mighty standards of the SANBS.

I find it unbelievable that despite this "shortage of blood" which has the SANBS in such an eccentric flat spin, gay men and transgender people are still banned from donating blood - based on second-rate fairy-tales, right wing conservative junk-science and plain old-fashioned prejudice. Were it not so downright tragic, it would actually be funny.
Christina Engela's picture

16 Days Of Double Standards

While I may commend the now traditional South African institution of the "16 days of activism against women & child abuse" campaign, I still see plenty of duplicity and ambiguity in it.

16 days of activism? I don't know about you folks, but I'm an activist every single day.

It is often said (to loud applause) that "real men" don't commit violence against women or children. This is all fine and well from a certain point of view - a largely traditional and 2-dimensional point of view - but exactly What is a "real" man? Anyone care to guess? A man with nuts and a ding-dong? A man who lusts after women? Does that make a "real" man?

If you castrate a man, does that change his status as a male member of society? Does having a sex change and getting rid of unwanted equipment correct a gender error and make a woman whole, or rather as some people claim - a "mutilated man"? What about an old man? Is he "past it"? Is he a lesser man than a "real" man? Is there an age limit which you pass and cease being "real"? What about those annoying beer ads on TV these days? "Keep it real" indeed.
Lance A Worth's picture

Ten Ways Homophobia & Transphobia Affect Straight People

A lot of my friends who are heterosexual

Christina Engela's picture

Put Your Tranny Wheels On!

Let me start today's post by saying as a passable post-op male to female transsexual that in the war for acceptance, tolerance and civil rights for transgender people, it is our obvious, stereotyped and non-passing transgender sisters out there who are the bravest of us all.

It is they who face the ridicule, rejection and even hatred at the front line of our community. It is they who do not have the luxury of blending into "mainstream" society as part of their new gender. It is they who do not have the luxury of escape. They literally have no option but to stand and face the music the rest of us tend to escape because we have just been lucky by God's own grace to be "beautiful" enough to blend into invisibility. Most often, they are the ones fighting the hardest for every gain we make in terms of medical care or civil rights. These are the sisters and brothers who do not have the luxury of saying that the "GLBTI movement" has "done nothing for them" or to sit around and slag off other members of the pink community just for a few narcisistic giggles.

Please bear in mind as you read this post, if you are a transgender person who is closted for fear of your life (or just plain fear), this article is not pointing a finger at you. It is addressed to the people out there who are closetted for whatever reason - AND who act like bigots themselves.

Christina Engela's picture

Lead, Fight Or Get Out Of The Way - Pick One!

Please excuse me, but today I am going to rant a little.

Okay, a lot.

You see, for quite some time now, I have been working towards building unity in the pink community. As a transgender woman (post op, as a minor detail, which will become relevent in a moment), I am passionate about equality and civil rights for gay (including lesbians), bisexual and intersex people - and for my own smaller group, the transgender. It is what I devote my life to.

What upset me? Was it right wing religious conservative bigots venting off against gay people as they usually do? Was it people punting the usual rubbish about transsexuals or gay people being pedophiles? Was it some external threat? No, this time it was an internal threat.

Yesterday I ran into a group of transgender women on a blog forum ripping into... the transgender community?

Strange as it may seem, they were ranting and raving about the inclusion of the "T' in GLBTI and that they did not want to be associated with deviants, homosexuals and people who they defined as not "true" transsexuals and also "homosexual transsexuals".

To see transgender people attacking other transgender people over sexual orientation, while expecting the rest of the world to respect them! Is this not both hypocritical and patently stupid? Transphobia within the transgender community sickens me more than the homo and trans phobia of the bigots attacking the whole pink community!

Christina Engela's picture

Lemon Karma

Sometimes life hands us a lemon. This is just one of those things that happens in the run of our daily lives, a truth, an undeniable fact of our existence - a thing which defines our state as mortal, fallible beings, and which clarifies one particular aspect of life - something which humans spend their lives searching for.


Either you have it, or you don't. And as human beings - we don't. We may have the illusion of it, the temporary illusion where we may have power or influence over others, or a situation - but this passes, as do all things. Eventually the wheel turns, and those on top find themselves lying in the road - asking what happened and what the number of that bus was. Ain't karma a bitch?
Christina Engela's picture

Mistaken Identity

Last night I came upon a blog which claimed to be feminist. Now I have no problem with feminists, in fact I am also a proud feminist (how can I be a human rights activist otherwise?) - and in the course of my activism for the pink community, I try to get a shot or two in for feminism also. After all, as a trans-woman I am also a woman and sensitive to the sexism and patriarchal attitudes that I face just as any cis-gender woman does. I am sad to say it, but the site in question also turned out to be transphobic in nature.
The owner, "Margaret" - wrote a post called "No Such Thing As A Transsexual" and proceeded to criticize transgender people to the point where I could actually forget it was a woman writing, and not a trans-misogynistic, heterosexist, homophobic bigot of the right wing. The only thing I did not see displayed was the rabid religious fundamentalist tendency to dump a ream of rhetorical religious references to somehow "prove" their point. Instead, scant references were made to the typical right-wing conservative propaganda machine, which has about the same basis in fact as Harry Potter is a world religion. The comments left by a gaggle of her goose-stepping cis-sexist wing men - and herself, simply expounded upon their clear bigotry against trans-women - and transsexual, and even gay people in general.
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