Archive for the 'discrimination' Category

Feeding the troll, part 2

July 17, 2010

this is what a feminist troll looks likeMy old friend Butterflywings – whose attempts at internet trolling I wrote about here – has submitted a couple of comments to my previous post. They have absolutely no relevance to that piece, of course, although in their own little way they’re really quite priceless, so I thought I’d share them here instead: transphobic hate speech of this calibre needs to put into the public domain so everyone can see it.

I’m not going to bother applying the pink sparklehammer of deconstruction to them; they speak for themselves. It is worth noting, though, that these are the words of a cis woman feminist. This, as they say, is what a feminist looks like.

Author : Butterflywings
E-mail :
Fuck you, little child. Your attempts to smear me all over the Internet are hilariously pathetic. You’re the one that hangs out in little cliques of people who agree with you.
Accuse me of trolling? Now I am. No point having a debate with morons, after all.

Author : Butterflywings
E-mail :
You think you’re so great, don’t you? You realise everyone is laughing at you? I could demolish your pathetic attempt to argue against my arguments if I could be bothered, but frankly, posting links that agree with you…isn’t argument. Trannies are a bit thick, aren’t they.

It’s like waking up to find small piles of very smelly cat poo dotted around the place.

Time for some music, I think.


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IAAF: Woman athlete is a woman

July 6, 2010

At last, eleven months later, it seems that the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has finally roused itself from its lethargy and clarified what it believes the status of Caster Semenya to be:

Caster Semenya may compete

Monte-Carlo – The process initiated in 2009 in the case of Caster Semenya (RSA) has now been completed.

The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect.

Please note that the medical details of the case remain confidential and the IAAF will make no further comment on the matter. [Via IAAF]

And that’s all the IAAF has to say about it? No apology to Ms Semenya for its discriminatory and sexist behaviour; its flagrant breaches of her human rights; its disturbing attempts to set itself up as arbiter and enforcer of a socially constructed gender binary?

The IAAF should be ashamed of themselves; their (in)actions diminish and demean all of us, and are entirely unforgivable when we consider the huge personal cost to Caster Semenya, whose grace and dignity is an example from which the IAAF would do well to learn.

As for the mass media’s rabid prurience, its global invasion of her privacy, its sexist assumptions, its wholesale mistreatment of Ms Semenya merely to sell a few more newspapers – all of these actions deserve nothing but the deepest contempt.

Let’s hope that the equally out-of-touch International Olympic Committee (IOC) now drops its own alarmingly befuddled plans to “advise” intersex athletes to have surgery before they’ll be allowed to compete. [Via]


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IAAF: it used to be indecisive but now it’s not so sure

June 29, 2010

Via South Africa’s The Citizen, it seems that the IAAF is likely to miss its next self-imposed deadline for confirming Caster Semenya’s competition status.

The IAAF said it would reach a decision by the end of June, but spokesman Nick Davies said yesterday it still had to have an internal meeting about the case.

Speaking from his office in Switzerland, Davies said a statement would be released as soon as the outcome of gender verification tests were discussed.


While many waited on June 10 for the outcome of the “Caster Semenya dispute”, a press conference, hoped to reveal if she would compete again, was cancelled at the last minute.

Her lawyer, Greg Nott, said at the time that Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile had cancelled the press conference as the IAAF exco had not received a formal briefing on the matter from the medical team.

Frankly, this amount of stonewalling by the international governing body for athletics is inexcusable. Every deadline it breaks serves only to prolong its attack on a woman athlete who happens not to conform to stereotypical female gender norms.

It’s time for the IAAF to stop sitting on the fence and start making amends for the human rights abuses it has been inflicting on Ms Semenya for nearly a year.


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UK Government “committed” to GLb(t) anti discrimination and prejudice plan

June 16, 2010

Government Equalities Office logoAccording to this Press Release, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May today set out “an ambitious cross-government programme of work” with the admirable intention of tackling anti GLb(t) prejudice, including these aims:

  • a commitment to remove historical convictions for consensual gay sex from criminal records;
  • new work to end the blight of homophobic bullying in schools;
  • work to allow same-sex couples to register their relationships in a religious setting;
  • lobbying other countries to repeal homophobic legislation and recognise UK civil partnerships;
  • and an end to the removal of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.

Whilst I welcome Mrs May’s recent change of mind on gay adoption and applaud her commitment to scrapping ID cards and the National Identity Register, it should be remembered that anti GLb(t) prejudice and discrimination – and the consequent bigotry, hate speech and violence – remain daily realities for many.

With that in mind, and in the knowledge that a “more detailed action plan, setting out exactly how all the changes will be delivered” at an unspecified date sometime in the next six months, I hope Mrs May will understand my scepticism towards her wish to “tear down barriers to equal opportunities” and “build a fairer society”. Because without a clearly defined plan of action – drawn up in consultation with those affected by prejudice and discrimination towards our gender identity and/or sexual orientation – her fine words remain only that.

And so I, for one, await with interest the publication and implementation of the promised “detailed action plan”. Only then will members of the GLb(t) community be able to judge just how seriously the government takes this commitment.

Later today the Minister for Women and Equality will join the Prime Minister and figures from across the LGB and T community for a reception at 10 Downing Street to mark the beginning of Pride London fortnight.

Dwahlings, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am not to have been invited – and me a member of the trans community and the Downing Street Project’s mock Cabinet, and all. Obviously I need to work at my (lack of) social climbing skills.

…saucer of milk for table 5…


ETA 17 June: I’ve been sent a copy of the full statement (Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality) that yesterday’s announcement was based on. I’ve not been able to track down where it’s cached online so, for any interested parties, I’ve uploaded a copy of the 4-page PDF document to this site – here’s the direct link to it.

Whilst it’s still short on the detail of exactly how it will be implemented, it does add a little more about the scope – for example, the focus on SSM will also include working to improve recognition of civil partnerships outside the UK. Perhaps more significant is this paragraph on asylum:

We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.

And the further information in the section on additional action for trans equality is also to be welcomed – although I have to say that I’m still reserving final judgement until I’ve seen more concrete proposals.


Cross-posted at The F-Word

A ‘conscience clause’ to legitimise discrimination

March 25, 2010

The BBC News website has published a story which talks about the likely introduction of a so-called ‘conscience clause’ which could be used by dispensing pharmacists to “refuse to prescribe items that might clash with their personal religious beliefs”. In other words, it seems likely to enable discrimination by pharmacists.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is to take over the regulation of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and the registration of pharmacy premises from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society later this year.

Under its new code, pharmacists with strong religious principles will still be able to continue to refuse to sell or prescribe products if they feel that doing so would contradict their beliefs.

The use of the word “still” in the above quote might seem to suggest that discriminatory practices are already happening – and indeed the BBC refers to “a woman denied the pill by a Sheffield chemist”.

Although the BBC’s story specifically refers to “items such as the morning-after pill and contraception”, when I think about the recent attempt by the religious Right to perpetuate gender identity discrimination in Europe, it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to see how the ‘conscience clause’ could be invoked as a way of, for example, refusing to fill hormone prescriptions for trans people.

For those who are discriminated against in this way, and who are fortunate enough to be able to afford it, there’s always the option to buy essential meds from online sources. However, self-medicating has its own risks and may also result in people simply disappearing from the healthcare system; not receiving regular checkups; blood, hormone and other monitoring tests, etc, and running the risk of becoming seriously unwell. I’d like to know on whose conscience would be the death of even one trans person as a result of the application of this clause as a mask for their own prejudices.

Anecdotally, I’m well aware of the anger of many trans people towards a system that already seems to favour gatekeeping over facilitation, and I can only hope that this iniquitous ‘conscience clause’ does not become common currency as a way of upholding the personal prejudices of those pharmacists who may hold transphobic views, without actually being required to come to terms with their bigotry.

As Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, says:

“It seems incredible that pharmacists can arbitrarily tell people that they won’t serve them with medication that has been prescribed by a doctor.”


(Estradiol molecule image via Wikipedia)


ETA: Related post:


An abridged version of this piece is cross-posted at The F-Word

IAAF still playing god with Caster Semenya’s life

March 12, 2010

By way of a postscript to my recent post about Caster Semenya, the AP, UKPA and others report that the IAAF’s fixation on “gender testing” still hasn’t reached a conclusion, seven months later.

“The IAAF and Caster Semenya’s representatives are still in discussions with a view to resolving the issues surrounding her participation in athletics,” said Nick Davies, the IAAF communications director at a World Indoor Championships press conference in Doha. “As a result no further comments will be made on this subject by the IAAF until further notice.” [UKPA]

It’s hard to truly comprehend not only the scale of the insensitivity of the IAAF, but also of the extent of the human rights abuses to which it’s subjected Caster Semenya – and don’t even start me on the racist and sexist aspects of its attack on her. It needs to take its collective head out of its ample backside and start figuring out how it’s going to start fixing the damage it’s done – before Ms Semenya takes the case to the UN.


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McDonald’s refuses to hire woman because she’s transgender

December 7, 2009

Via the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund website:

On July 10, 2009, 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy applied online for a position as a Shift Manager or Crew Leader at a McDonald’s restaurant in Orlando, Florida. On July 28, after managers at McDonald’s learned that Zikerria is transgender, she received the following voicemail message from one of the managers:


You went to [indistinguishable] McDonald’s today.
It doesn’t matter how many times you go down there.
You will not get hired.
We do not hire faggots.
You lied to me.
You told me you was a woman.
And then you lied to me.
You told me you were seventeen.
I can’t believe you.
You’re a lying brother [indistinguishable].
How could you ever lie to me?
We will never… [message ends]

It’s a bingo card all of its own, that: transphobia, racism, homophobia, cissexism, trans-misogyny, hate speech.

Needless to say, Zikerria didn’t even get a job interview – McDonald’s simply refused to hire her. Although whether you’d actually want to work alongside world class bigots and hatemongers like that manager is another matter.

TLDEF has now filed a Complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations against McDonald’s for refusing to hire 17-year-old Zikerria Bellamy because she is transgender.

More information over at the TLDEF website

TUC calls on employers to stop discriminating against trans people at work

November 27, 2009

tuc_logoThis last week has been unexpectedly difficult for me. From the whirlpool of emotions I felt around Friday’s Transgender Day Of Remembrance (link here) and the London memorial event on Saturday (link here); through my deep despondency on hearing the news of the violent oppression of members of the Feminist Fightback group by other so-called feminists at the Reclaim The Night march only hours after the TDOR vigil (link here); to my anger about the escalating violence my community endures at the hands of cis people, I’ve been so preoccupied with simply getting through the day without feeling overwhelmed by demoralisation that this press release (link here) from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) completely passed me by.

Although it seems to be little more than an update of last year’s message (link here), nevertheless it does actually appear to signal a genuine attempt to understand the issues we face in the workplace (assuming we have a job, of course), and to assist in ending the discriminations heaped on us by employers and co-workers alike. How – if – it plays out in real life and how much effect – if any – it will actually have, remains to be seen, of course.

In Britain the trans community continues to face violent physical attacks, alongside prejudice and discrimination in communities and at work. Just last month the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published Trans Research Review demonstrating the continued prejudice and discrimination faced by trans people in Britain. The TUC welcomes the Commission’s commitment to this issue and the guidance they will give public bodies to promote equality for trans people.

Unfortunately, it seems that the TUC’s support for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) may actually be misplaced. Last Thursday – the day before the Transgender Day Of Remembrance – ECHR announced the appointment of its new Commissioners for all the strands for which it’s responsible – except in the area of transgender issues (link here).


TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Discrimination and hatred are part of the daily lives of far too many trans people in Britain, and employers need to make sure all their employees are working in safe environments, free from transphobia, violence and prejudice.’

‘Prejudice starts at school, and in its work to promote LGBT equality in education, the TUC has learnt that bullying on grounds of gender identity remains largely unrecognised. This can lead all too easily to the violence that trans people can face on the streets, and challenging the roots of such prejudice is long overdue.’

‘If Britain is to be a truly equal and inclusive society we need to understand the issues facing trans people, and develop practical steps to end discrimination in our workplaces and beyond.’

Fine words, and I sincerely hope that the TUC follows through on this statement of intent but, given the ways in which trans people have been let down by the EHRC – the government’s own agency for these matters – then I think this sense of scepticism I feel is unlikely to dissipate without proof of their commitment. The time for talking is over and I don’t believe I’m the only trans woman who wants to see some results.

Reclaim The Night: policing the borders of cis feminism

November 25, 2009

Previously, on more than one occasion, I’ve made it clear that my anger at the members of the London Feminist Network who organise the annual Reclaim The Night march here in London arises from their continuing refusal to make any public clarification of their position on trans women attending the event. For a transsexual woman like me, their use of the phrase “women only” is contentious because it carries with it the baggage of nearly half a century of our exclusion from cis women’s spaces.

That such blatant and toxic cissexism is applied to trans women is, frankly, unforgivable in this day and age, but reading the latest post on the Feminist Fightback blog (link here) makes me realise just how dangerous the march organisers’ attitudes are when applied to other cis women too.

As self-identified women committed to fighting gender-based violence, members of Feminist Fightback attended last Saturday’s march in solidarity with sex workers fighting for the right to self-organise against exploitation in their industry.

From the blog post, it seems that not only were they subjected to physical harassment and verbal abuse from other marchers, but were approached and interrogated by the police, apparently at the request of one of the stewards.

[…] we were extremely surprised to find that one of the basic principles of feminism (and all social justice movements) was forgotten in this instance – namely, that we never resort to using police aggression to silence and intimidate members of our own movement, no matter how much we may disagree with them.

And that is the crux of the matter. Feminism isn’t – or shouldn’t be – about a minority of privileged cis women using strongarm tactics against other, far more vulnerable women simply to prop up their distorted and outmoded worldviews. Might is most definitely not right, and the actions of those self-appointed guardians of a fictitious ‘true feminism’ have revealed the extent of the moral bankruptcy at the core of the London Feminist Network. They should be ashamed of themselves and if they had a shred of conscience, all those concerned would have stepped down by now.

It’s no surprise that the organisers of the Reclaim The Night march have made no public statement about this incident and their silence serves only to underline their desperation to hold on to their positions of power without accountability. But listen well, my sisters: the day is coming when you will be called to justify your appalling treatment of all those women against whom you have consistently used your privilege to discriminate, when the right and proper thing to do would have been to support and assist them in their struggle against a common enemy.


See also:


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This is not a trans woman

November 22, 2009