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Extreme prejudice… 2

31 Jan

My own, in this case. My commitment to diversity, pluralism, tolerance and so on did not come with me from birth. Yes, I had a remarkably tolerant and curious maternal grandfather, and that helped, but well into my twenties I was very conservative and sometimes racist and very dubious about homosexuality, the last being quite inconvenient really. Life, experience, and reading (in that order) wrought the changes you see today. I am in my sixties now and still a work in progress. I believe that is how it ought to be as well.

When twenty years ago I finally “came out” there were aspects of the gay world, and associated worlds as the picture is far more complex, that did not fit me. Take drag and effeminacy for example: I had a problem with that, because I was not thus inclined myself, and still am not. Equally, the various patterns of hyper-masculinity one finds in parts of the gay world did not/do not attract me either. I just want to be me, I guess, but that implies extending the same privilege to others, doesn’t it?

men_kissing

Late last night ABC showed a very passionate documentary on behalf of transgendered people: M2F: A Journey in Gender Identity.

With narration by Jon Faine of ABC Radio 774, this thought provoking, 52 min. programme giving an overview of Transsexualism and Transgenderism is essential viewing for the broader medical and public education. It presents new research, and challenges current medical beliefs and social Transsexual Stereotypes through stories and issues covered by several people in the Transgender Community.

Georgina Beyer, the world’s first [transgendered] Member of Parliament (from New Zealand) leads an impressive list of “ordinary” Transsexual and Transgendered women interviewed. Stories and issues covered here are presented through Captain Sarah Parry, Julie Peters (geneticist and politician), Human Rights Activist, Ros Houston, and others who give an overview of Transgenderism and Transsexuality from statistics to symptoms and the path to one’s Gender Identity.

The viewer is also emotionally transported by the honesty and dignity of Karen, and other Transsexual women, Andrea, Tracy, Gillian and Catherine and their immediate families including Leigh, Pauline and Janice.

Lauren, Sally and Jay on their witty, and often insightful, long-running radio programme, “Transmission Time” (Joy Melbourne) discuss the diversity of gender. The portrayal of the life of Paul/Paula is a graceful but revealing journey of the complexity of the life of a Crossdresser.

From Professors Milton Diamond (Internationally Renowned) and Frank Lewins (Sociologist and Author), Specialist Doctors Herbert Bower, Fintan Harte and Sven Strecker and the Very Rev. D. A. Fisher and Rev. H. Creighton, Dr. Tonti-Fillipini, and Dr. Di. Sisely give a range of views as they debate the many issues around gender difference.

This is an aspect of human diversity that intersects, sometimes uncomfortably, with the gay and lesbian worlds. Transgender people may or may not be gay or lesbian, but they are a living challenge to our ingrained habit of black/white dichotomous thinking. My South Sydney Uniting church colleague norrie is a transgender person; norrie not only challenges my habits on capitalising names and pronoun reference, but also has at times confronted or puzzled me, simply by existing. norrie is also a living challenge to conventional and comfortable versions of Christianity by being at times so bloody Christ-like!

In all this I found last night’s documentary extraordinarily insightful. One could not watch it empathically without becoming rather ashamed of one’s prejudices. That, however, is healthy.

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Posted by on January 31, 2007 in Aussie interest, gay life/issues, Multiculturalism and diversity, Observations, racism

 

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