Friday, October 21, 2011

We NEED to make it better

I am deeply affected by the recent suicide of 15-year-old Jaimie Hubley from Ottawa, ON. Jaimie faced ongoing homophobic bullying and was treated cruelly in his high school because he was gay. He was made fun of because he chose figure skating over hockey. He tried to start a Rainbow Club, but the other students tore down his posters.
How many youth will need to be murdered by homophobia before people start to change?

My work focuses on LGBTQ youth homelessness in Canada.
I devote my life work to LGBTQ youth and to making Toronto a safer, more accessible, and supportive city for LGBTQ homeless youth. I’m very aware that we still have a lot of work to do. We need to invest more money into programs for LGBTQ youth, especially LGBTQ youth who are homeless. We NEED to STOP the homophobia and transphobia that throws 25-40% of youth out of their homes. We NEED to STOP the homophobia and transphobia that then kicks the same youth out of the shelter system, and we NEED to STOP the homophobia and transphobia that makes them then fear their lives on the streets. WE NEED TO STOP THIS NOW.

It is not okay that youth experience homophobia and transphobia in their homes, in school, in the shelter system, on the streets. WAKE UP, Canada.

We keep talking about how it gets better. Well, it’s time now that WE MAKE IT BETTER. Too many young people are dying because of hate. We need to implement strategies that will lead to change. People need to be educated. Homophobic slurs are not okay, no matter how busy you are (as a teacher or frontline worker), you need to STOP these incidents from occurring every single time.

We all need to stop and think about Jamie’s death.
We need to reflect and think about how to become a more accepting society.
Let’s start with the basics and learn about love.
Let’s teach each other how to ACCEPT love and authenticity.
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, as a society we have failed on every level.
So, let us start anew, because I believe that it can get better. We just need to put our hearts into this.

-Alex ilona Abramovich

The Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line: 1-800-268-9688
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dismantling the binary

We live in a highly structured world. Everything related to what we have come to know as human nature is controlled by the structure that we call society/patriarchy. There is almost nothing more structured (in society/patriarchy) than the gender binary system; a system dominated by the structure of power. From the moment we are born we are assigned either to the female or male gender category based on the doctor’s first glance of our genitalia. Very early in life we are also taught that almost every single thing is consigned a gender within the binary (e.g. toys, games, sports, objects, clothing, music, movies, books, etc).

Beginning at birth, the structural control of gender grants us minimal choice in deciding or even knowing who our authentic selves are. I argue that because we are born into this meticulous organization of gender power, we are socially and culturally shaped and constructed in ways that are beyond our control. Those of us who search for ways to look beyond gender-normative discourses produce deep ontological threats and are often silenced and/or considered deviant. Furthermore, there is a type of gender surveillance that occurs in our culture. This gender surveillance is most apparently manifested in the pathologization of gender and in the pressure our culture places on people to constantly find ways to fit into normative gender categories.

The structural organization and power that constitutes the gender binary system is used to control and oppress women and people who do not fit into the binary. In other words, the gender binary is constructed to privilege an idealized and unattainable male body and oppress all other bodies. From this perspective, the prescription of the gender binary system on bodies reinforces patriarchy. I view the gender binary as a type of prison system that we are born into (Goffman, 1961; Flax, 1990). The people who break free from the prison and discover that they do not fit into the binary are seen as the outlaws in need of capture and repair.

It is time we begin to problematize hegemonic discourses of gender and question "gender". We must also interrogate the tensions that exist between trans discourse and feminist theory and discuss how the two schools of thought can work together to enhance human understanding. Let us all begin dismantling one of the most powerful structures that we human beings have created...