A Rant With a Point. (about outing, hate crimes and how to love your transfriends)

Major Major Trigger warning.. Tonight I am really upset and I am going to go there. Don’t read if you aren’t in a good headspace.

When the living fuck are people going to wise up about transphobic/homophobic bullying? When? I rode my bike to work for the first time on Monday since moving to Fairfield (living on my own, yay!) I went into the bathroom to change and shower as it was a long hot and sweaty ride. Please keep in mind that when dressed formally for work I pretty much pass. I am known as Matthew at work and have never been known as another identity.  However, a male colleague of mine, also a bike rider that day saw me in the change room before I dressed formally. Essentially, in my still very female body.  He asked me if I was a cross dresser. I said no. I said I was a transman going through transition.  I thought it was better to voluntarily out myself rather than lie about it.  I also asked him to keep it to himself. I didn’t mind him knowing but it was none of anyone else’s business.

in less than 4 hours… the whole fucking library knew… You know that “i’m going to stop talking just as you walk into the coversation to make it look like i’m not talking about you” thing that high school kids often did to really badly hide the fact they were gossipping. yeah. that. all fucking day. One of the women said to me that she’d “have a word to the manager” when I asked her what that meant she said.. well, you know, families come in here and stuff.    These are librarians, relatively progressive people with knowledge, but clearly now they know my “secret” i’ve changed from being just an ordinary bloke, to somehow deviant and wrong in their eyes.  I still go to work. I still do my job, but it’s pretty evident the people who i once thought of as colleagues and friends aren’t anymore – apart from one girl, who’s sister is a transwoman and said she was very much on my side. Glad.  I feel deeply depressed and betrayed by these people.  I no longer consider my work a safe place to be Matthew.

I guess the point is this is where hate crimes come from.. These are the kinds of attitudes that foster hate in our community.  There’s a link between physical and sexual assault and verbal harrassment in the street office and school… It’s a fine line between what I experienced this week, and what I experienced two years  ago.

This is the part you stop reading if your head space isn’t wonderful.

It was a relatively busy saturday night in Acland Street.  I was dressed, I had a full confidence that I had not experienced in weeks, having just moved to the area and  not really known anyone.  I was dressed and passed, the man who served me dinner even calling me “sir”.   There were a group of drunk tourists, St Kilda being famous for them one of them in particular began taunting me and calling me a tranny and asking me if i was a “real boy”. I ignored him, finished my food and left.  what i didn’t see was that he had followed me, proceeded to grab me, and physically and sexually assault me,in a brutal and fucking horrible way,  taunting me with transphobic slurs the entire time.  No one came to my aid, despite the area being visible to many a passer by.  When I reported the crime to police they did not take it seriously as a hate crime despite my obvious situation.  The assault made me doubt everything about being transgendered, about my male appearance, and for a very long time, untill just recently, I went completely into the closet.  I still fucking dream about this man.. I still, on a really bad night, see him in the corners of my bedroom even though I have not lived in St Kilda for many months.

I guess the point is that do not, under any circumstances, treat your transgendered friends, loved ones, colleagues, and people close to you as though they do not matter.  Outing has a consequence, and for some it can be deadly.  To the colleague who outed me, I am pretty sure you will not be employed for too much longer, but the damage is done.  Think twice about your actions, think about the horrible depression and anxiety you have caused by what you thought was a joke. Work is a safe place, a place where people spend most of their time.  I want that back.

if you’re sex and or gender diverse (trans, intersex or gender variant in any way) call the gay and lesbian switchboard in victoria. if you’re having issues.  Help definitely out there.  Also  if you are considering reporting a hate crime to the police, ask to speak to a Gay and Lesbian Liason Officer (GLLO) present at every station.  If you do report and you are not afforded one, don’t be afraid to ask. It makes a difference. Google search to find out where they are near you.

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Australian Racism 101 – Aboriginal Disposession and the Tent Embassy

You may or may not have heard the recent remarks of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was “no longer neccesary” but how many of us know exactly what it is and where it came from.  After reading some depressingly racist remarks on the internet and print media, and seeing the most DISGUSTINGLY racist cartoon in the Herald Scum, oops, forgive me, Sun,  I decided to do a bit of research and look at what exactly the Embassy represents and the events of disposession leading up to its establishment in 1972 and what life is like for many Aboriginal Australians.

(disclaimer: I do not speak for any Indigenous group, I am a white Australian. However, I am simply seeking knowledge beyond racism, and am trying to reach an understanding with compassion and a desire for  justice)

January 26th 1788

This day to Aboriginal people marked the day when White settlement began.  For those of you not up to speed with Australian History, Australia was declared “Terra Nullius”  – land belonging to no one. This paved the way for White Settlement to begin, despite the presence of Aboriginal life on the land for thousands of years.At the time of British settlement,  Aboriginal people were thought to be part of the flora and fauna of the country, rather than human beings. Attitudes of white racial superiority existed and Aboriginal people’s rights did not exist under British law. Therefore the colonists believed they had the right to settle throughout Australia. (Wangkamaya.org)  Although there were some brave struggles of resistance many Aboriginal people were slaughtered and almost all lands were taken over without an acknowledgement of sovreignty. Sovreignty is still formally denied to this day.  This lead to the day being marked “Invasion” Day instead of Australia Day by some Aboriginal people and their allies. 

1905 onwards.

The Federation of Australian states saw the “Aborigines Act” come into being, this meant that the Chief Protector of Aborigines had all  powers of legal guardianship over all Aboriginal people to the age of 16 years. This power over-rode any parental legal rights as normally exists between child and parent. This meant the Chief Protector could remove Aboriginal children from their parents or family, as he saw fit. And he did. Children, particularly children of mixed descent, were removed from their parents in droves and placed in white foster homes, missions, orphanages, hostels etc. Almost all children were removed forcibly and with tragic results, the most evident being the children now coined the ‘Stolen Generation’; children who never found their way home and suffered enormous trauma and brutalisation as a result of this removal policy.  Very often this brutalisation occurred at the very institutions where the children were placed. Aboriginal parents were often not told where their children were, names were changed or the children told that their parents were dead. (Wangkamaya.org)  Aboriginal parents, many of whom spoke or read no English, were told to sign documents removing their children under the pretence that their children were going on an excursion or short holiday.  It was not untill 2008 that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd officially apologized to the Aboriginal people for the atrocities committed during this period of time.

Aboriginal people over the age of 16 years were also controlled by the Chief Protector as they had to apply for marriage rights, did not have the right to move freely from reserves or missions, did not have property ownerships rights, had no human rights, were not citizens of Australia and so on.

In order to move from under the burden of the 1905 Aborigines Act, Aboriginal people had to gain Australian citizenship. Aboriginal people, under the Australian Constitution, were not considered to be Australian citizens and therefore, Australian citizenship was not automatic. If an Aboriginal person gained Australian citizenship, the 1905 Aborigines Act could no longer control them.

To gain this citizenship, these people had to complete an application for citizenship in which their ‘caste’ and the ‘caste’ of their parents was stated, they had to prove disassociation from Aboriginal people and culture, provide a photo and references as to their good character. This went before a board who decided if citizenship was approved. Once it was gained, the Chief Protector of Aborigines could remove it at any time.  In short, if an Aboriginal person wanted any movement away from their community, to marry, work or visit family, they had to renounce their Aboriginality.  Many older Aboriginal people carry “certificates” stating they were for a period of time non Aboriginal. 

May 27th 1967 

On the 27th of May 1967, the voters of Australia made dramatic history. On this date, a referendum was held to poll the voters’ opinion about changing racially discriminatory sections of the Australian Constitution. The result was an overwhelming 90.77 per cent vote in favour of these changes.  This was also in response to “Freedom Rides”  buses of predominantly university students taking rides to Aboriginal communities to witness discrimination first hand. Many of the rides were lead by activist Charlie Perkins, who was pivotal in the establishment of the Tent Embassy a short time later.  The referendum ended the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the “Flora and Fauna” Act, and saw them granted legal equality, such as the right to work and right to vote, and the abolishment of homesteads, granting Aboriginal people the right to move without impediment throughout the community.

27th January 1972

At 1 am on this day, four Aboriginal men arrived in Canberra from Sydney to plant a beach umbrella on the grounds of Old Parliament House. The Embassy was established in response to the McMahon Government’s refusal to recognise Aboriginal rights over the land. McMahon instead favoured a new general purpose lease for Aborigines which would be conditional upon their ‘intention and ability to make reasonable economic and social use of land’ and it would exclude all rights they had to mineral promotes Aboriginal Sovreignty Their demands included Land rights  and mineral rights to Aboriginal lands, legal and political control of certain sacred sites and compensation for land that  was stolen. Their demands have been consistently rebuffed by past and current governments.

It has also been used as a site for protesting against other issues, such as against and forest rights.

The beach umbrella was soon replaced by several tents and Aboriginal people and non-indigenous supporters came from all parts of Australia to join the protest. During the first six months of its life in 1972 the Embassy succeeded in uniting Aboriginal people throughout Australia in demanding uniform national land rights and mobilised widespread non-indigenous support for their struggle. Despite several removals, and being affected by storms, thefts and firebombs, the Embassy still stands strong to this day, and the 27th of January marked Forty Years of continuous occupation.

The Tent Embassy uranium  mining at Jabiluka  in the Northern Territory during the 90s. Currently Elders such as Uncle Neville Williams , from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy are working to protect traditional  land in Western N.S.W at Lake Cowal  which is in the process of being mined for gold and more recently the mining for gas in the Kimberly region  and Nuclear Waste Dump proposed for the area near Muckaty.

The group  represents a displaced nation of peoples, unjustly occupied by the Australian government.

Aboriginal Australia in 2012 – Disposession Continued.

Despite remarks that the Tent Embassy should be removed, that it was no longer neccesarry, and that the Aboriginal cause had “moved forward”  there are still some horrendous statistics associated with being Aboriginal Australian.  There is a direct link between the health and wellbeing of our first people, and the legacy of the last 200 years of colonialism and racism.

in 2012 if you are Aboriginal or of Aboriginal descent you are:

more likely to commit suicide or self harm particularly if you are a young person

less likely to be employed or have culturally appropriate housing 

more likely to live below the poverty line or rely solely on Centrelink benefits for your income. This also extends to a lack of culturally appropriate employment in your community. If you are in the Northern Territory, there is every chance your benefit is subject to “income management” – whereby a portion of your benefit is given to you in a “basics card” which is only redeemable at certain stores a great distance from where a person’s community is. This is part of the 2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response – continued under Labor despite a promise to revisit it.

more likely to be incarcerated in the adult or juvenile justice systems – more likely still to die in custody either by suicide or a lack of access to basic healthcare (Paris Veronica Baxter, an Aboriginal Transwoman had been denied access to anti depressant medication for a week during her confinement and later committed suicide. Her death is subject to inquiry in New South Wales)

More likely to suffer police harrassment during your day to day life.

Suffer a significant mental health problem or substance abuse.

Have a significantly lower life span than your Non Aboriginal Counterparts (the most recent statistics were a non Aboriginal male’s life expectancy was 85 years on average an Aboriginal male’s a mere 65 years of age)

Suffer significant chronic physical health conditions – particularly if you live in a remote community- such as glaucoma, diabetes and heart disease.

Have almost no access to your language and culture available at your educational institutions.  Most classes are taught to Aboriginal students in English, a language that is foreign to some of them. Classes that are taught in Language are often taught that way for a very brief period of time. Many children do not have access to Language or Culture at all. There are over 200 languages recorded as Aboriginal but only 60 of them are expected to survive the next 50 years. These will be gone, extinguished from memory and culture.

Have very little right to determine the direction of your natural resources – Aboriginal land in remote areas such as those in the Kimberly and other regions are subject to leases to mining companies, which result in pristine areas being mined for gas and other resources.  Lake Cowal, as previously mentioned, is being mined for gold.

I could go on… The answer, in short Mr Abbott, is yes, the embassy is still very necesarry. it represents a vital stand against racism and a movement long standing for the rights of the original inhabitants of this land. You’d do well to listen to the lessons that can be learned from it.

Sources:

Wikipedia.org “Aboriginal Tent Embassy”

Indigenousaustralia.info/land  “Tent embassy”

Wangkamaya.org.au  – Wankga Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre  “1967 Referendum”

upcoming events and a very small (big) request!

It is absolutely fucking beautiful outside. I am stuck inside typing out overdue notices to all the bastards that don’t return their books on time. Note to patrons of libraries: Those overdue notices you get, they are not computer generated, some schmuck types them. so for their sake. RETURN YOUR FUCKING BOOKS.  That rant over, hi and happy new year.  For those of you playing at home I now have a mailing list. To subscribe please send an email to matthewthepoet28 at gmail dot com and you shall be updated with gigs, book signings etc untill I get mailchimp working again. (you think you have things under control. but. no.)  

Also, I have written a new show.  I recently undertook a challenge to write 28 new poems by my 28th Birthday. And i did.  On Christmas morning I woke at around 430 am with not a great deal to do. Took my dog to the beach, ate breakfast, drank coffee and sat down at my computer. 24 hrs and a few bathroom breaks later I had distilled my new material down into a solo show entitled “Life In 24 Words”  Whereby i took the words and ideas that have had the most influence over me and wrote (or chose from the 28 i had written) a new poem about each of them.  My previous show was more just a collection and assemblance of work, with no real concept, this was my first effort at taking a narrative approach to performance poetry and making it follow a concept. I’ve got to say. I am a bit pleased with the outcome. It still needs work, and between everything else i will develop the living shit out of it, however I would absolutely love to perform this for you. SO TO THE REQUEST PART OF THE BLOG!

My shows are intimate.  They are communicative, they are casual, they are conversational.  (I think, lest i sound like a wanker)  So, I have toyed with the idea of performing this show in the living room of someone brave enough to offer it. If you know of anyone who would be brave enough, or know of a similar intimate low cost space, also hit me up at matthewthepoet28 at gmail dot com  The first run of house shows would most likely be in the late part of april and into early may but this can be negotiated depending on the available space and all details can be worked out via email.   

I would also encourage anyone who’s a budding or otherwise poet and who has not checked these fine folk out to register for the centre for poetics and justice  workshops in January and February.  You will learn so very much and i defy anyone not to walk away completely inspired. check out www.cpj.org.au  for all the finer details and to register.

UPCOMING DATES.  I am a busy bee in the early part of the year before i knuckle down and spend 3 months focussing on my PHD and generally taking a break from the performance scene

January 15: Sweet talkers – Bendigo Hotel, Collingwood. 8pm. $10 (check out “Sweet talkers” on facebook for more info)

January 21 – Butterflies and Bulletproof Vests Melbourne Launch – unfortunately due to a scheduling fuck up the reading i was planning on doing on this day will not happen. However, you will be able to purchase the book from collected works and other stores and me! from this day forward.

28+ 29 – Centre for Poetics and Justice workshops and showcase

February (TBA)  We will not go quietly – zine launch.  This is a zine for sexual assault survivors that Kate Ravenscroft and I have been working on.  The finer launch details will be posted as they are worked out. 

4+5th Centre for Poetics and Justice Workshops and Showcase

March: 3rd: Life in 24 Words – Preview – Adelaide Fringe. (venue TBA)

17th: SPOKE – Spoken word Festival – Adelaide Fringe.  Adelaide Centre for the Arts. 

many blessings and things of wonder for your new year.  Thankyou all for your continued support.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

Neil Gaiman

they also refused to house a girl and i BECAUSE WE WERE A COUPLE.. they are fucking bastards who’s ideology and basic lack or adherence to human rights principles is just sickening

arroway:

fluffywhite:

I volunteered at the Salvation Army center around here a couple years ago, helping families pick out toys. It was really fun and I thought I was doing a good thing until two men came in. They were in poor shape, they wore a lot of layers and their jackets and pants had dirt and dust on them. I think they had been sleeping outside. They were coming in to get food from the kitchen, and one of the staff members took them to another room that wasn’t the kitchen. After a while, they were both escorted out of the building. I learned later that day they were kicked out because the staff speculated they were a gay couple and didn’t want to cater to those kind of people.

I can’t even look at the bellringers without being ashamed of them. They help a lot of people, but I don’t want to contribute to a group that still considers homosexuality to be condemnatory.  

In my area about 20 years ago, a woman left her husband to be with another woman and the Salvation Army here paid for his court costs and lawyer to fight for full custody, which he won. The kids were brainwashed by them and the father and the mother didn’t see her children for years.