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Eurovision 2014 (cont’d)

Now that people have had a few days to think about Eurovision a bit more, and the implications of Conchita Wurst’s act, some interesting debates are coming out. And rather than update my previous post again, I thought I would create a new one.

There seems to be some confusion as to who or what Conchita Wurst is. As far as I can tell from research on the internet, she is a drag act character created by Thomas ‘Tom’ Neuwirth. This is not a new thing – there have been many famous drag acts, not least Paul O’Grady’s “Lily Savage” and (perhaps most famously) Barry Humphries’ “Dame Edna Everage”. And let’s not forget Kenny Everett’s extremely tongue-in-cheek character “Cupid Stunt”.
I’m not yet sure whether Conchita is ‘just’ a drag act, or somewhere on the gender spectrum, and to be honest I don’t think it entirely matters.

In the lead-up to Eurovision, petitions in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus unsuccessfully attempted to get Austria banned from their national broadcasts. And Conchita’s act has brought out a barrage of homophobic and transphobic diatribe. Some have referred to her as “it”, “that”, and “that thing” (as I mentioned in my previous post), and some have gone far further with some truly appalling things said and written. It makes me sick to my stomach.

So, why should Conchita be referred to with a feminine pronoun if she is played by a man? Even if you don’t accept transgenderism, Lily Savage and Dame Edna are always referred to as ‘she’. Very few people shout “but he’s a MAN because he’s played by a man!” when these characters come on stage or are mentioned in the media. So at the most superficial level, I would argue that the same applies for Conchita Wurst surely?

Many have expressed difficulty with the beard, pointing out that both Lily Savage and Dame Edna present as completely female, albeit with a larger than life personality. This is true. But, personally, I think the beard is deliberately provocative and is trying to force people to look beyond binary gender stereotypes and confront the idea of a gender spectrum. I’m 100% certain that many people aren’t able to cope with that concept yet, but at the very least it has provoked debate and I applaud that.
You only need to look at comments that she should “make her mind up”, and that she can’t be a woman unless she shaves off her beard and has gender reassignment surgery, to see how entrenched the idea of a gender binary is. If you are not one thing then you must be the other thing.
I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse here because I have said this many times, but society seems able to cope with the idea of being bisexual (ie. neither exclusively heterosexual nor exclusively homosexual) but can’t seem to cope with the idea of transgender.

But, transgender issues aside, there could also be the agenda of deliberately provoking homophobes. Clearly some men have struggled with looking at someone who looks like a rather slim and attractive woman, and yet has a lush beard, which makes it impossible for them to will suspension of disbelief (and a suspension of something else, to allude to BlackAdder) or kid themselves. What could be more confusing for someone not completely comfortable with their own sexuality than a ‘thing’ (sic) like that?

I think Sam Fraser on the Huffington Post summed it up perfectly for me:
Around the world there are people who prefer to exist outside the male/female binary. This is an affront to the bigots, homophobes and religious ideologues whose beliefs in ‘traditional’ gender relations ensure that institutional sexism and homophobia, to say nothing of the criminalisation and ‘legal’ murder of LGBT people, continue in parts of the world both far away and closer to home.

Conchita (and/or Tom) has won more than a song contest; she has got LGBT issues right out there, being discussed in public and in private, forcing some people to at least reassess their attitudes and address the subject, even if they ultimately don’t alter their opinion on the matter. Perhaps more has been achieved in a few days than years of lobbying and political debate ever could.

 


Links / Further reading

The Independent
Time
Huffington Post
Pink News
Sam Fraser
CBC News

 
 

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Eurovision 2014

Got to say that I’m absolutely sickened to read people referring to Conchita Wurst (the winner of Eurovision 2014) as “it”, “that” and “that thing”.

Comments like that speak volumes about the person saying it, and their narrow-minded bigotry.

She’s a bloke in a dress. It’s not exactly a hard concept to grasp, FFS.

 

Update:

I should just clarify that when I said ‘bloke in a dress’ I was referring to the fact that she was described by the commentators as ‘a drag act who takes things very seriously’. Clearly she’s more than just that. My point is that wherever on the gender spectrum she is, she is not an ‘it’ or a ‘thing’. She’s whatever she chooses to be.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in In the News, Opinion, Transgender

 

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Sizing to flatter

Vanity sizing is nothing new. And no matter how hardened we are to it, there is a secret little thrill to getting into something the next size down. That’s why they do it, of course.

The thing that *really* miffs me, though, is when the sizing is completely wrong the other way and there is no bigger size.

Mela Loves London

Mela Loves London

Now, as you’ll know from my post about the coat, I have absolutely no problems with getting the next size up. But I think that when you sell stuff online you should be realistic and honest about the size. After all, you’re only risking a high rate of returns if you don’t.

Take this lovely little dress that I bought on Amazon from ‘Mela Loves London’. Gorgeous, isn’t it? Unfortunately “little” is the operative word since, despite allegedly being a size 14, it proved to be very much not the case.

Currently a majority of my dresses are size 14 (although some of my 14s are getting a little tight as I have put a couple of lbs back on but those lbs are coming off again) and I have sold, or donated, pretty much all of my dresses that are bigger than that. So I was really upset that I could barely get into this dress. And once into it, I certainly couldn’t pull the side zip up. And it was a little tight across the chest and I hadn’t even got my bewbies on. So a no-hoper really, no matter how much weight I lose.

Despite being an absolute bargain (£10.69 at the time of purchase, but back up to £16 at the time of writing) I’ve really reluctantly had to send it back under Amazon’s excellent Returns Policy. What upsets me the most is that if they did a bigger size I would have ordered it in a flash because it’s such a lovely dress. But, sadly, the only sizes are “10” (sic) and “14” (sic) which I suspect correspond to “tiny” and “small” respectively.

 

 

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(whispers) I’m Joanne

My work has taken me back down to Hedge End on a regular basis, and I was in Sainsbury’s Hedge End recently, which was where the Brides in the Aisles photo shoot was.

I saw the young Sainsbury’s employee who was roped into the photo shoot, but I was in guy mode so obviously she would never have recognised me. But I had really liked her during the shoot, and I felt I just had to say hello. So very bravely I waited until she was on her own and asked “Um, excuse me, but were you in the Brides in the Aisles photo shoot?”

When she said that she was, I said “I thought so. Um… I’m Joanne”

I’m not sure what I expected, or feared (certainly my heart was pounding in my chest), but she could not have been more natural, accepting, or friendly. Without missing a beat she just started chatting with me like it was the most natural thing in the world. We reminisced about the shoot, whether we had attended the actual event, I asked whether she had got into trouble for being seconded by us for most of a morning, etc. And when I mentioned I had been worried about saying hello in guy mode, she looked at me in momentary incomprehension and then was completely dismissive of it (in a good way).

Truly we are raising a generation way more tolerant than the previous. And I think that is totally awesome.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Diary, Opinion, Transgender

 

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But I have wings

I recently saw this quote on Facebook and it struck a chord with me.

butterfly

 

I think one reason it struck a chord is because it rather sums up the ‘support’ I get from my family. If I fold my wings up and act all caterpillary when I see them, then all is well.

Another reason is that sometimes I wonder why I have embarked on this journey, what I seek to gain from it, where I want to go. But then I realise that this doesn’t really have any bearing on the fact that I am who I am; I’m not a caterpillar any more, whether I like that or not. I’m a butterfly.

And I have wings.

 

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Diary, Opinion, Transgender

 

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Same Love

I heard Macklemore’s “Same Love” on the radio today for the first time. I confess I didn’t know of it until now – sorry for being so late to the party here.

My initial reaction was that it’s a positive thing that a mainstream music song is saying that it is ok to be gender-queer and that they support marriage equality. Also, I really liked the song (despite rap being one of my least-favourite music genres).

I wanted to know more, and read the lyrics, so googled about it when I got home, and came up with some interesting articles on the subject (linked to at the end of this post)

The articles I’ve linked to below are making the observation that it’s a little odd that a white, straight, cisgender man is telling people in the LGBT community that it’s cool to be how we are. That his opinion isn’t valid because of it, that the song is fake because of it.

However, the comments people have left to the flavorwire article are even more interesting, and there are some good points made there. The overwhelming one being that the fact that a song with a message like this is getting mainstream airplay is a positive thing, and it’s good to get a message like that out to more ears than would usually hear it.

Does one have to be black to be abhorred by racism? Or female to be against sexism and misogyny? Were all the people in favour for the abolition of slavery themselves slaves? In short, does one have to have a direct experience of an injustice, prejudice or equality in order to have the moral opinion that it isn’t right and to stand up and be counted in saying so? I don’t believe so.

So I think I’m sticking with my initial reaction.

 


Links:

http://flavorwire.com/412156/queer-rapper-le1f-speaks-out-against-macklemore-why-same-love-doesnt-speak-for-the-lgbt-community/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-joslyn/desperately-seeking-music-equality_b_4020086.html

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Opinion, Transgender

 

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Follow you, follow me – Flickr changes

I see that today Flickr has renamed ‘Contacts’ to ‘Following’.

I know a lot of people hate change, but this makes a lot of sense to me because that’s what it has actually always been in all but name. Contacts on Flickr have always been initially unidirectional (ie. not actually contacts) and it’s only when the other person makes the conscious (and optional) step to reciprocate that it becomes an actual contact in the true sense; up until that point you are merely following them. All Flickr have done is make it more obvious. It also eases the pressure that people feel to reciprocate when people add them as a contact.

‘Friend’ and ‘Family’ appear to be unchanged.

One thing that does seem to be a little clumsy though is that in your ‘Contacts List’ (Flickr obviously haven’t finished updating everything yet!), it only lists your contacts as ‘Following’, ‘Friend’ or ‘Family’. There’s no indication as to whether it’s reciprocal or unidirectional.

I’m sure Flickr will tweak it a little more, but my initial feeling is this is a long-overdue and positive change.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Opinion

 

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Gender roles

A little while ago I discovered The Advocate, with some of the articles really making me think and some of them blowing my mind, such as the one that suggested that the fundamental flaw in being transgendered and trying to pass as a women is that it is a game where the only time you are succeeding is when people do not realise you are succeeding. And If they become aware that you are succeeding, then you have just failed.

However, I’m not full time and moreover have no intention of becoming so. I’m not interested in transitioning from one society-approved binary state to the other. I think both genders have their advantages and disadvantages, and I’m greedy enough to want to pick and choose the best from both, just like I do my sexuality. An unpopular choice from the people who think I should “make my bloody mind up”, I guess. But why should I?
(Edit: Although, yes, when I am out in girl mode I most definitely do want to pass convincingly as such, so I guess that in some ways it does apply).

So when I read this article, I can kind of understand where the author is coming from. I can understand that a completely gay man could find that upsetting or annoying, but to me it sounds like heaven!

Funny old world. isn’t it?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Diary, Opinion, Transgender

 

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Wistful envy

I walked down to the local shops today to buy lunch, since it was a nice day. It’s around 10 mins each way, which is just right especially in this weather!

Whilst there I saw a gorgeous girl-next-door type; brown hair up in a neat pony tail, subtle yet perfect makeup, slim yet curvy body, a really lovely dark fitted above knee dress with rose print, block heel shoes. She looked absolutely stunning, but in a very natural and unpretentious way.

The thing is, though, I didn’t feel any desire despite her being what, a few years ago, would have been just my type. Instead I felt what can only be described as “wistful envy”*

Kind of surprised me a little, and yet at the same time sort of didn’t too. It’s all a bit confusing really, but possibly an indication of how my sexuality and mind-state are changing.

(* – I initially wrote “wistful jealousy”, as you can see from the URL of this post. But then I realised after a little googling, and stumbling upon this blog post, that what I experienced was far more ‘envy’ than ‘jealousy’ so I amended it. Although perhaps there was a small element of jealousy.)

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Diary, Opinion

 

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Yours insincerely

I’ve long noticed that on Flickr, the comments all seem to be predominantly very polite and positive. People tend not to post anything rather than post something negative.

I’ve especially noticed this on pics of t-girls. Even when, to be brutally honest, they don’t actually look very good (to the extent it’s clearly a guy who has pulled on one of his wife’s dresses and plonked a wig on his head) people feel the need to build them up with gushing praise about how fantastic they look.

However, the corollary to this is that people then tend to get an artificially positive feeling about their pics and I’m not sure that’s particularly productive.

It also throws doubt onto all of the positive comments on my own Flickr.

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Opinion

 

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