We often look at the villains or anti-heroes of movies as broken, flawed, or downright evil. The problem is we rarely look at what made them this way, if there could have been a way to prevent their fall. It took me a long time to realize the reasons two villains in the Star Wars universe spoke to me like they did, especially when I saw the reasons behind their fall. As someone who is neurodivergent and who has struggled with their emotions most of their life, one would think I’d latch on to the Jedi way of thinking, in fact that’s what most people wanted me to do. Emotional control, striving to better myself, the usual things people see when they think of the Jedi.
So I decided to finally put my feelings and thoughts into words after reading Rowling’s various novels, posts, and tweets about trans people, specifically trans women. She made news back at the end of March by liking overly TERFy tweets, and then when called out attempted to blame it on a “middle age moment” and holding her phone wrong so she accidentally liked it. For those unaware of what is going on, here the article on it from Pink News.
As a trans person, seeing someone who is supposedly super pro-LGBT+ excluding a marginalized group from the movement can be harmful for one’s mental health, especially if the person being marginalized was in some way looking up to that person or even was finding solace in the fandom (because Rowling had made comments about LGBT people at Hogwarts, but apparently she didn’t mean trans people from how she talks).
Outside of personal feelings, there are numerous issues with how she presented the character in the Strike novels. (More info on the novels here and here) She used outdated and harmful stereotypes against trans people, stereotypes that get trans people outright murdered (claiming they’re just men in dresses, that they’re child molesters, that they’re going to hurt people because they’re hiding behind “being a woman”) or has had legislation passed against them treating them like a danger to society.
While it turned out that the one character wasn’t trans, the fact that that was her go to for the female first name played into the stereotypes and painted trans people in a negative light. Similar sorts of things were done to gay men back in the 50s and 60s (and up to today sadly) where they were secretly going to groom and molest your male children and “turn them gay”. We see it with other marginalized groups as well, a person from a middle eastern country is most likely going to be cast as a terrorist or a villain, an African American man is most likely cast as a “thug” or a gang member while the woman is cast as “sassy” or a single mom who is dependent on welfare.
By using the harmful stereotypes against marginalized groups, authors and film makers cause great harm to those groups, because people who read/watch that media often don’t realize that they’re incorrect stereotypes and take it on face value because it wouldn’t make sense for an author/film maker to do that unless it was true, right?
In one of her other novels in the Strike series, she has the main character threaten to have a trans character arrested and makes prison rape threats at the person. She also uses stereotypes about trans women being overly aggressive, or overly masculine and who are basically just again, men in dresses. (Discussed here)
And with things like I mentioned before, the anti-trans laws being put into place, or the fact that in the US there are 48 states where the trans panic defense is a valid murder defense, or the fact that reparative rape is still something suggested to “fix” trans men (like myself), having a famous author or film maker pushing harmful stereotypes like this does a lot of harm for the marginalized group.
So far there have been at least 8 trans people killed in 2018 alone, which adds to the myriad of reasons seeing a famous person touting anti-trans rhetoric or spreading transphobia as something to be frightening or problematic/cause for fear in the trans community.
There is more info here for other TERF actions if you’re interested.
This is from an assignment from my Communication and Gender class. We were asked to summarize an illegal gender-issue workplace problem and a legal gender-issue workplace problem. We were then asked to discuss why the problem exists, what is keeping it from being resolved, what is being done (if anything), and some of the communication challenges involved. I have put the problems in bold. (Citations were required, so I included them here as well)
Employment discrimination for non-public employees in regards to gender or sexuality is illegal in 20 states.
While most people are aware that one cannot discriminate against someone in the workplace for their sex, marital status, age, or disability, most people assume this also includes sexuality and gender, which for 30 states in the US it does not. While there are still many examples of discrimination occurring in the workplace for the classes protected in all 50 states, gender and sexuality are only protected in 20 states. This means that a transgender person can be legally fired from their job for being transgender in 30 states, and they have little to no way of getting justice since gender is not covered on a federal level. By leaving it up to the states to decide to protect gender or sexuality, it creates an environment where LGBT+ people often times are forced to remain in the closet about who they are, or in the case of gender, are forced to either take a job after transitioning, or spend their entire time working at the job pretending to be someone they are not.
Even in states where LGBT+ people are protected by a non-discrimination act, harassment and discrimination can still occur, which then requires the person affected to either out themselves to everyone, or to stay silent about their gender or sexuality. Another issue is that while it is illegal to discriminate against LGBT+ people on the basis of gender or sexuality in 20 states in the US, people can still discriminate but then give some other “reason” behind their actions, such as refusing to hire a transgender person who is open or unable to pass as their gender, or firing someone for being open about being homosexual (such as a man talking about his marriage and mentioning they have a husband and not a wife). Due to many states being either at will or a right to work state, some employers don’t even need to give a reason for firing a person, which then makes it much more difficult to fight against and prove the reason behind the firing or discrimination.
Currently there is work being done by groups like the Human Rights Campaign to have the federal government pass a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HRC, 2013), but without the removal of at will and right to work laws, the discrimination will still continue to occur as employers don’t have to disclose reasons behind their actions. Also, as can be seen with discrimination of cis women within the workplace, without proper enforcement of the laws and acts, the discrimination will continue and in many cases be swept under the proverbial rug until there are so many cases that people can no longer ignore the problem.
“As Senate Hearing Nears, Nations Leading Businesses Support Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” Human Rights Campaign, 9 July 2013, www.hrc.org/press/nations-leading-businesses-support-employment-non-discrimination-act-as-sen.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 lists transgender people in the same group as pedophiles and people with sexual disorders.
While most people agree that those who are transgender do not fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act just for being transgender, the issue is in how the ADA words their exclusion. While the ADA was updated in 2008, the terminology of Section 12211 continues to list “gender identity disorders” and “transsexualism” as sexual behavior disorders (Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, As Amended). The problem with this is not just that the term “gender identity disorder” is now viewed within the medical community as inaccurate and outdated, being replaced with gender dysphoria in the DSM-V and other medical literature, but that it lumps transgender people in with those who have sexual disorders.
While most people won’t take the time to read through the text of the ADA to reach Section 12211, by keeping the connection within the text it provides ammunition for anti-trans groups and organizations to compare transgender people with pedophiles, voyeurs, and sexual paraphiliacs. Groups such as Gender Identity Watch, which is run by an anti-trans woman known as Cathy Brennan, use text such as Section 12211 to justify their actions which include posting information about trans people (especially transgender women) on their website, doxing (exposing private information) of transgender people, and even stalking and harassing transgender people online. Their claim is that being transgender is a mental disorder that should be called autogynephilia (which itself is a mental illness created by Ray Blanchard that essentially states that certain men gain sexual arousal by thinking of themselves as a woman.), and it is just as dangerous and harmful to society as pedophilia, and as such trans people should be tracked, exposed, and “cured” of their mental disorder.
One of the major factors preventing this from being resolved is the lack of knowledge of what is within the act. Very few people have taken the time to read the entire act, and even though medical knowledge and literature has been updated regarding gender dysphoria and transgender people, legal documents and government acts require the government to justify amending or changing a piece of literature and this usually requires the legislative branch of the government to vote on the changes. As can be currently seen when it comes to transgender rights such as the ability to use the bathroom without being harassed or forced to use the wrong bathroom, it is an uphill struggle. To my knowledge nothing is currently being done to fix the wording within the ADA, and due to the constant pushback regarding matters of gender by not just the government but the public at large, it will take people actively working on adjusting their language and mental presuppositions about gender to create enough of a drive to fix the text within the ADA.
“Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, As Amended.” 2008, https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm
People claim that we can’t ensure everyone’s basic needs are met (food, shelter, clothing, fresh water, etc). Yet it’s not because we lack the resources to do it. We as a society lack the COMPASSION and EMPATHY to do it.
UPDATE: Some people have stated that the only rights we have are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This is wrong on SO many levels, the least of which because the original phrase was from John Locke, and it was “life, liberty, and property.” Jefferson, like most of the founding fathers, was against everyone having property, because that would mean that they were all equal to those in power. So Jefferson switched out “property” with “pursuit of happiness.” This ensured that only those who had property would be those in power, and they then could set forth the rule that only those who were men of a certain age who owned land could have a say in the new government.
It had nothing to do with wanting everyone happy. It had to do with keeping certain groups of people out of power, and maintaining the power of the rich, white, male elite. The founding fathers didn’t want equality for all, so to claim that the only rights we have are rights that were plagiarized and changed slightly to ensure an imbalance of power, is a claim filled with ignorance.
Transcribed from Twitter moment “We have the resources, but we refuse to use them“
Everyone deserves shelter. Everyone deserves fresh & safe water. Everyone deserves enough food to eat, and that that food isn’t just cheap “filler” foods such as pastas and rice. Everyone deserves adequate heating and cooling to help ensure proper health and homeostasis. Everyone deserves top level healthcare, not just the rich.
For some reason, people believe that the basic needs for survival should be conditional, or that to provide them means taking from someone else. Some people even claim that to make sure everyone has their basic needs met would turn others into slaves!
Because we’ve been raised as a society to believe that not everyone deserves the basic needs to survive.
I look around and see houses standing empty while people are living on the streets, unable to afford shelter. I see food stores destroying left over food instead of donating it to food banks while people go hungry. I see clothing manufacturers destroying clothes that aren’t “perfect” instead of donating them or giving them to those in need of clothes. I see companies buying up water rights and selling the water for inflated costs while whole communities are left without water. Flint, Michigan isn’t the only community without water to even take a shower. Many of the people on the reservations have been without safe water for far longer.
Here’s a hint. The resources are there, it is greed and disregard for others that is preventing access to said resources. When we put a dollar sign on the things people need to survive, we are saying as a society that only those with money deserve to live. We as a society are telling people that unless they have money, they are not deserving of what they need to survive. Because of this, we have people who are unable to give back to society due to their inability to have their basic needs met. We’ve seen that if we make sure people have their needs met, then they are more able to put back into the system that helped them.
NO ONE deserves to live in poverty, or without adequate food/water/healthcare. You shouldn’t have to EARN the “right” to such things. They should be for EVERYONE regardless of “earning it.”
By actually giving two shits about people other than yourself and working to fix broken systems and systems of exploitation. The fact that we view necessities for life as something that not everyone deserves shows that the economic systems we’re using to day are flawed and detrimental to those who aren’t willing to step on others and use them.
The US would rather destroy food than let people have it if it’s left over.
Our society encourages and rewards greed and selfishness while empathy and compassion are often considered weaknesses. We make huge deals about celebrities donating to a charity, while ignoring that everyone has the ability to help out their fellow human being.
States like Utah have shown that by providing people with the basic needs for survival, such as shelter, food, water, and clothing, that people are able to start giving back to society. When they are no longer spending all of their time trying to figure out where they will sleep that night, or if they will have enough food to eat, they are able to focus on other things such as work and contributing to society.
We as a society created the problems we are having. We created them by giving the wealthy more money while taking away from those in need. We slashed the budgets for housing, food, health, education, and the like in the hopes that the rich would pick up the slack.
We’ve seen that they have no intention of doing so.
We as a society destroyed the middle class in favor of the rich minority, because we were told that if we just allowed them to get a little richer, they would fix the economy and bring prosperity to us all. We created a society of debt and poverty, and then we turn around and blame those asking for help.
Instead of blaming people for what they don’t have, how about we work on compassion and empathy?
We have the resources available, but we as a society need to learn to put our fellow human beings first instead of profits. We need to realize that the more people we shove into poverty and homelessness, the fewer people we will have to be part of the workforce.
While it might cost money up front to ensure housing, food, water, and clothing for everyone, as well as proper healthcare for everyone, the end result will be a healthier society that is able to put back into the community what they took out.
We just have to put in the effort to fix the problem, instead of blaming those who were harmed.