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Words That Are Transphobic and Why

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Words that are transphobic and why

Transphobia is defined above as the “fear or hatred of transgender people or people who are perceived as not meeting society’s expectations around gender roles, identities and presentations.  Transphobia is closely linked with homophobia and biphobia”.

I believe that human beings have the right to not be discriminated against on the grounds of age, race, religion, gender identity, sexual preference, creed, ethnicity, political affiliation or any other basis.

I first experienced an additional awareness of the challenges facing transgender people towards the end of last year.  I discovered that transwomen were not allowed to take part in the Reclaim the Night women’s march in London.  On account of them being born men, the feminists claimed that they were by nature privileged who were by nature in a position of power over women. 

It was then that I learned the definition of the term cissexism which is "the belief that transsexuals' identified genders are inferior to, or less authentic than, those of cissexuals" [source: Julia Serrano quoted in Wikipedia].

I don’t claim to understand all of the issues facing transgendered people today but I do believe that cissexism is harmful, unnecessary and above all dangerous. 

The poster above was designed by Clinton Andor, a graphic design intern at the UC Davis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center.  You can see his original post here [source].  I discovered it at the blog of Jussie Hay.

Heinrich Himmler Issues Jewish Extermination Orders

Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler gave this speech on October 4, 1943 is Poznan, Poland.  He didn’t imply or suggest but openly and explicitly called for the extermination and destruction of the Jewish people.  He ranted about theft and enrichment but stated that it was a moral good to rid the Germany people of their enemy and that ultimately, their souls would not be tarnished by this action. 

Bosnia: Rape a Legacy of War

“The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina may have ended fifteen years ago, but for so many of the nation's women, the legacy of wartime rape lives on.”

The use of rape in the war in Bosnia was so systematic and pervasive that the Geneva Convention was modified to include rape.  When rape is widespread and systematic, it is now recognised under the Geneva Convention to be a crime against humanity or war crime.  When it is committed alongside the intent to destroy, in part or whole, a targeted group, rape is now considered to be an element of the crime of genocide.  (See: Rape as a War Crime)

At least 20,000 women were raped in the war in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.  They were often raped repeatedly or by gangs and rape camps were set up in towns around Bosnia.  Mass rapes also took place during the Rwandan genocide, in Kosovo in 1996 to 1999, in Darfur, and currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Their problems haven’t gone away because time has passed. They relive their traumas every day,” says Faris Hadrovic, head of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The video above follows the journey of Enisa, a survivor of the campaign of rape during the Bosnian war.  It is powerful in that it puts a human face to the suffering that was endured by thousands of women in the region.  Enisa is president of the Association of Concentration Camp Torture Survivors which is a Bosnia organisation which seeks to provide support to the surviving inmates of concentration camps.  The provide physical and psychosocial support to survivors.  Of the more than 2,000 members of the association, a quarter were raped. 

Two things struck me about this video:

  • Enisa was about the same age I am now when the war broke out.  We have similar interests (she worked as a social worker) and similar pursuits.  We are the same, we are both women, we are both just living our lives.
  • The men that committed these rapes are, for the most part, walking free and living their lives.  The organisers have been prosecuted in some cases but the perpetrators have not significantly been pursued or identified.

(If you struggle to follow the video in parts because of the simultaneous interpretation, you can read the script or view the shorter news piece entitled Bosnia: Rape a Legacy of War).

Video: Sound of Silence Bosnia: Rape, Legacy of War

Photographer Armin Smailovic's photographic portraits of survivors of sexual violence during the 1992- 1995 war.

“No one may ever be able to determine how many women in Bosnia and Herzegovina were sexually abused during the 1992 – 1995 war…

… or how many children were born of sexual violence”

More on this tomorrow.

The “Join the Revolution” Campaign

In the four years since I moved to England, I have witnessed the country go from a powerful, prosperous country to one with widespread recession, unemployment and economic hardship. It seems crazy that the very banks that caused the worldwide economic downturn and had to be bailed out by tax-payer money are just about the only entities that managed to award bonuses to their staff last year.

It is no surprise then that I’ve added “corporate and social responsibility” to my list of requirements in a company when job-seeking these days.  What is surprising to me is how many employment agents ask me “why?”  I would have thought it was obvious.  Not only do I want to make a difference in the world but I want to work for a company I can believe in!

It is for this reason that I have found the latest campaign by The Co-operative interesting.

A co-operative is a business that is owned by its members, with profits being reinvested back into the community.  The Co-operative was started in 1844 by the Rochdale Pioneers and it currently has six million members across sectors such as food, banking and funerals.  While The Co-op (as it is known in the UK) is a well known brand here, it is their vision and involvement globally that caught my eye.

The Plan

The Co-operative has an eight part plan focusing on environment, democratic control, communities, responsible retailing, ethical finance, co-operatives, global poverty and young people.  By supporting thousands of initiatives every year, both globally and locally, The Co-operative aims to inspire people to get involved and to make a difference in their world.

You don’t have to work for The Co-operative or even part with money if you are unable to but the Join the Revolution website gives you various ways on how to get involved.

The schemes

These are just three of the current schemes that The Co-operative is backing:

Urban Bees

It is no secret that honeybee populations in urban areas are dwindling and The Co-operative have already invested £500,000 into Plan Bee, their own bee protection and education programme.  Now they are helping bee-lovers Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin to run training courses, talks and conduct other work in order to save the urban bee population.

Baywind Energy Co-operative

Baywind Energy Co-operative is the UK’s first community owned wind farm.  Starting in 1998 with a loan from The Co-operative Bank, the wind farm now generates around 10,000MWh of electricity a year which is enough to power around 30,000 homes.

Fairtrade in Kenya

Through their Enterprise Hub, The Co-operative actively promotes the development of co-operative businesses around the globe. They invest £7 million a year in some of the world’s poorest countries to support initiatives that will benefit farmers, their families and the entire community.

In Kenya, for example, they have worked with The Co-operative College and The Co-operative Food, to help over 10,000 smallholder tea farmers to organise into co-operatives.

This has increased their negotiating power and provided access to markets previously closed to them. It has also helped them to achieve Fairtrade certification, so they can supply tea for our ‘99’ Fairtrade tea blend. All of which means they will now get a fair return for their crop.

I think multi-media and multi-layered campaigns such as these are a great way to encourage people to become more involved in the world around them and to develop social awareness and ethical consumerism.  You can visit the Co-operative website for more information on how to get involved or you can find them on Facebook too.

Do you know of any other companies that have complex social awareness and corporate responsibilities programs like this?





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Video: PWEI – “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”

I don’t usually post music videos on this blog but yesterday’s post on Islamophobia got me thinking.  Once upon a time, I thought it could never happen again.  It was the early 1990s and we’d learned about the Holocaust, Vietnam and Apartheid in school and thought it was all behind us. 

In 1994, Pop Will Eat Itself released “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”.  I thought it was ever so clever and loved the song but I certainly never thought the lyrics would come to actually mean anything.

The Rwanda genocide took place between 6 April and early-July 1994.

The Srebrenica genocide took place in July 1995.


Pop Will Eat Itself - “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”
Dos Dedos Mis Amigos (1994)

Listen to the victim, abused by the system
The basis is racist, you know that we must face this.
"It can't happen here". Oh yeah?
"Take a look around at the cities and the towns."

See them hunting, creeping, sneaking
Breeding fear and loathing with the lies they're speaking
The knife, the gun, broken bottle, petrol bomb
There is no future when the past soon come.

And when they come to ethnically cleanse me
Will you speak out? Will you defend me?
Or laugh through a glass eye as they rape our lives
Trampled underfoot by the right on the rise

[CHORUS]
"You call us..."....Ich Bin Ein Auslander (x4)

Welcome to a state where the politics of hate
Shout loud in the crowd "Watch them beat us all down"
There's a rising tide in the rivers of blood
But if the answer isn't violence, neither is your silence

If they come to ethnically cleanse me
Will you speak out? Will you defend me?
Freedom of expression doesn't make it alright
Trampled underfoot by the rise of the right

[CHORUS]
Ich Bin Ein Auslander. (x8)

Islamophobia: Hate Comes to Orange County

How is this different to the mind set in Nazi-occupied Europe?

How is this not hate speech? 

This is not just talk and it is not harmless.  Young children were verbally assaulted in this video, men and women who were doing nothing but peacefully going about their business.  How is this different to the harassment that Jews, homosexuals and other minorities experienced in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s?

There is no doubt in my mind that the more people believe this is okay, apologise and make excuses for these types of actions, the more people pave the way for acceptance when mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide occur. 

I don’t think we’ve learned anything.  9/11 was a terrible action committed by terrorists and I abhor and denounce terrorism.  Every year I remember victims of 9/11 (as well as 7/7 and the Mumbai terror attacks).  But if you say (as was said in this video) “remember 9/11” then you need to remember the other event where we said “never forget”.  Never forget that unchecked hatred, propaganda, stereotyping, bullying and harassment can lead to 10 million deaths. 

Not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Muslims are radicalised.  Islam is a religion of peacefulness and charity but really, if you took the time you would learn that Muslims are just individuals like you and I.  But you don’t take the time, do you?

"First they came for the Jews
...and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
...and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
...and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
...and there was no one left to speak out for me"


- Martin Niemöller


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