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Springsteen’s latest stand reminds me… April 12, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Equality, Gender Issues.
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Bruce Springsteen was in the news — even on RTÉ — over the weekend because he cancelled a concert in North Carolina in response to that state’s new law banning trans people from going to a public toilet for their true gender. (An aside: did the legislators really think this through? Will the women among them really be comfortable when a trans man with a beard arrives into the women’s toilet at their favourite restaurant, and how will the male legislators feel when a trans woman — but whom they deem is still a man — arrives wearing a dress into the gents’ toilet at the stadium during the ball game, as they have legislated? And, actually, those two questions I just asked are completely fucked up: the real issue is how the trans people in those situations feel. But that clearly mattered for nothing with the legislators in that state.)

Springsteen’s stance prompts a question: What would Springsteen think of Ireland?

Actually, we’re not doing too bad. The core of our law on gender recognition is among the most advanced in the world. There are two caveats to that, but our law genuinely is pretty damn good. Caveat no. 1 is substantial: the core applies if you’re aged 18 or over; caveat no. 2 is pedantic: that core of the law is among the most advanced, albeit we’re not the only country with a law as advanced (but it’s not the Olympics, so tied for first place is perfectly fine!).

That ‘core’ is that you can get official legal recognition of your true gender simply by declaring it on the prescribed forms in the prescribed way, all by your oney-ow self. The key point is what items not in that last sentence: no doctor, no psychologist, no endocrinologist, no psychiatrist (nor priest nor granny) is needed for you to acquire from the State the documents you need to live your life in the gender you identify as your true gender.

It is, however, ‘core’ because it doesn’t apply in any way of you’re under 16, and if you are aged 16 or 17 it applies with hoops and legal loops that remove any realistic prospect of it giving you any rights in practice: firmly no gender recognition for under 16s and pretend gender recognition for 16 & 17 year olds.

And here is a remarkable fact: the young people who are the victims of this perverse regime recognise and welcome the progressive, advanced, leading elements of our country’s law.

But neither are they victims of Stockholm Syndrome, beholden to those who imprison them. Two weeks ago those young trans people published a clear-headed, shocking, and forward-looking report on their situation, experience and identity (PDF, 28 pages, available here).

Clear-headed? Read this from the report:

One individual suggested that the exclusion of young people from the current legislation creates the impression that, as far as the Irish state is concerned, trans children do not exist.

Any group that can recognise the immense strength of a law that victimises them, and articulate both its key strength and its key weakness is wonderfully lucid in its analysis. In fact, they display far more sophistication than some of the legislators who put them in their current awful situation. It is clear from some of the debates in the Seanad that some of the members of our upper house did not understand the basic purpose of the Gender Recognition Act and confused irreversible surgery with an administrative process involving only legal records.

Shocking? Read this:

One trans student was prevented from attending a school trip until they had obtained permission from all other participants.

I will leave that with no further comment.

Forward-looking? I quote a two-sentence paragraph, but for me it is the second sentence that zings:

Amend the Gender Recognition Act 2015 to specifically acknowledge intersex identities following consultation with, and directed by the views of, intersex people as to what system of legal recognition would be preferable. Legislate to protect intersex infants from medically unnecessary surgeries.

Think about that second sentence. Imagine (if it doesn’t apply to you) that you’ve just reached puberty and it is all wrong. Now imagine that 12 years ago (or 14 or 15) somebody decided to do surgery on you to put you into a category that it now transpires was wrong?

And the critiques were not directed only at the hetero majority. My own group — cis, gay males — were justifiably criticised:

One young person stated: “LGBT societies are often cis-male dominated. These guys don’t really understand trans issues….so there is no way they are going to get my non-binary identity.” For many non-binary persons, it is particularly upsetting having to explain and justify themselves in an environment which is meant to be safe and affirming.”

Wonderful, clear-headed thinking. We need more of that.

Comments»

1. EWI - April 12, 2016

Will the women among them really be comfortable when a trans man with a beard arrives into the women’s toilet at their favourite restaurant, and how will the male legislators feel when a trans woman — but whom they deem is still a man — arrives wearing a dress into the gents’ toilet at the stadium during the ball game, as they have legislated?

I think the point here, knowing the mentality, is to put all of the potential for pressure onto those who are disputing their assigned sexual identities. So, more feature than bug to those behind it, even more so given that those affected are already disproportionately vulnerable to suicide.

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