Modalités de service pour éduquer les persones cis

Salut!

Si vous lisez ce texte, vous êtes probablement une personne cis qui débat d’enjeux trans avec moi en ligne.

J’apprécie votre intérêt pour le sujet. Cependant, ce n’est pas seulement à propos de vous. Ceci est ma façon de dire que je quitterai le débat en vous invitant à réfléchir aux points suivants.

  1. Je désire réellement et sincèrement des changements sociaux, et je comprends que l’éducation de personnes comme vous en fait partie. Même que c’est quelque chose que j’adore faire. Cependant, vous n’êtes pas seul à devoir être éduqué, et vous n’êtes pas le seul besoin pressant des communautés trans — en fait, nous sommes débordés de besoins pressants.
  2. Éduquer des gens, c’est du travail. Les personnes trans sont forcées de faire ce travail en tout temps, mais elles ne devraient pas avoir à le faire. En réalité, les personnes trans doivent prendre la place des écoles, du système de santé, des organismes communautaires et des institutions qui décident que les enjeux trans ne méritent pas d’être discutés et qui ne créent pas des conditions pour que le travail d’éducation des personnes trans soit durable.
  3. Les débats en ligne, notamment sur Facebook, brûlent du temps, donc ils peuvent nuire au vrai travail de changement social que je fais. Je ne peux pas non plus les mettre à mon horaire, donc ils m’empêchent parfois de faire d’autres choses importantes. Je préfère nettement parler de ces choses-là en personne. C’est une limite que j’établis.
  4. Vos arguments ne sont pas novateurs. Nous les connaissons très bien. Ce n’est pas parce qu’ils vous paraissent originaux que les personnes trans, dont moi, ne les avons pas déjà réfutés plusieurs fois.
  5. Lisez la documentation que j’aurais presque assurément fourni. Cliquez sur les liens. Regardez les vidéos. Faites ce travail. Ce ne sera pas plus long que d’obtenir l’information de moi, mais au moins, je pourrai faire quelque chose d’autre.
  6. En tant qu’activiste trans basée à Montréal, au Canada, je suis disponible pour donner des ateliers, des conférences ou des formations sur les réalités trans. J’ai seulement besoin que vous vous occupiez de la logistique. C’est une offre sérieuse.

Terms of Service for Educating Allies

Hi,

If you are reading this, you are probably a cis person who has been debating trans issues with me online.

I appreciate your interest on the subject. However, this is not only about you. This is my way of saying that I will withdraw from the debate until you consider the following points.

  1. I deeply and sincerely want to bring forth change, and I understand that educating people such as you is part of that. Indeed, I love doing that. However, you are not alone in needing to be educated, and you are not the only pressing need of trans communities — in fact, we are overwhelmed by other pressing needs.
  2. Educating people is work. Trans people are forced to do that all the time, and for free, but they shouldn’t have to. In effect, trans people are forced to step up because our schools, our health system, our community organizations and our institutions fail to include trans experiences as something worth talking about, and fail to provide conditions for making trans people’s educating work sustainable.
  3. Facebook debates eat up time, so they can really impede the real world-changing stuff I do. They’re also not something I can put on my schedule, so they can prevent me from doing other important things. I much prefer to have discussions in person. That is a personal limit I set.
  4. Your arguments are not new. We’ve heard them time and time again. Just because they feel so to you doesn’t mean I and other trans people haven’t countered them several times over.
  5. Read the documentation I will almost certainly have provided. Look up the links. Watch the videos. Do that work. It won’t be longer than getting the informaion from me — the only difference is, I’ll have a chance to do something else.
  6. As a trans activist based in Montreal, Canada, I am offering myself to give training, workshops or conferences on trans issues, as long as you take care of the logistics. It’s a real offer.

Projet de loi 20 et procréation médicalement assistée pour les personnes trans

Le projet de loi 20, dont on entend surtout parler pour les mesures qu’il contient à propos des médecins en parallèle de la réforme du système de santé (exemple, autre exemple, encore un exemple, en voulez-vous d’autres?) contient aussi des mesures importantes pour restreindre l’accès au programme de procréation médicalement assistée (j’en ai glissé un mot dans un autre article). Comme pas mal toutes les mesures d’austérité, celle-ci touchera plus lourdement les personnes les plus marginalisées, et notamment les personnes trans.

Avant d’entrer dans les détails du projet de loi, un rappel : Les personnes trans subissent toujours des stérilisations forcées au Québec. L’article 71 du Code civil oblige demande que nous subissions des « modifications structurales des organes sexuels », c’est-à-dire, en pratiques, des chirurgies causant la stérilisation, comme obligation pour obtenir une reconnaissance légale de nos identités. Même si certaines personnes trans voudraient subir ces interventions quand même, il est impossible de parler de consentement éclairé lorsqu’on doit choisir entre les chirurgies et la marginalisation qui découle de la possession de documents ne concordant pas avec l’identité. Et bien que le projet de loi 35 promette une éventuelle fin de ces mesures discriminatoires, non seulement on ne fait que commencer le processus vers sa mise en application, mais en plus, ça ne changera rien aux personnes qui sont déjà passées par là. Quand le discours central sur l’infertilité la présente comme une maladie, ce n’est vrai que pour des couples cis et hétéro : pour les couples avec au moins une personne trans, c’est la conséquence d’une politique gouvernementale de discrimination.

Si le projet de loi 20 est adopté, les possibilités pour les personnes trans de fonder des familles seront doublement limitées : en même temps que le Directeur de l’état civil continuera d’imposer des stérilisations forcées, les personnes trans auront beaucoup plus d’obstacles à franchir si elles veulent utiliser la procréation médicalement assistée pour avoir des enfants malgré tout. Combinés, l’article 71 du Code civil et le projet de loi 20 consolident l’idée un brin eugéniste que les personnes trans ne devraient pas avoir d’enfants ni en élever.

Maintenant, les mesures du projet de loi.

Évaluation psychosociale : Maintenant on pourra (ou devra, ça dépend) exiger aux couples ayant recours à la procréation médicalement assistée de se soumettre à une évaluation psychosociale si a) il y a besoin d’un don ou b) si le médecin est d’humeur à en demander une. Or, ces deux critères s’appliquent tout particulièrement aux personnes trans : a) étant donné les stérilisations forcées, les couples avec une personne trans auront souvent besoin d’un donneur, et b) le système de santé, dont les médecins, a une petite tendance à la transphobie, d’autant plus que le gouvernement trouve ça totalement correct de dire qu’on ne devrait pas avoir d’enfant — il exige des stérilisations, après tout.

Et qu’est-ce qui va arriver dans une évaluation psychosociale? De la discrimination injustifiée. L’idée que les personnes trans sont une mauvaise influence sur les enfants, elle existe déjà. Celle qu’on ne devrait pas avoir d’enfants aussi, elle est même dans le Code civil.

Congélation du sperme : Sous le projet de loi 20, les femmes trans qui voudraient congeler leur sperme devront le faire à leurs frais, point. Ce service ne sera remboursé que pour les personnes ayant le cancer. Apparemment, le cancer, c’est légitime comme raison de vouloir garder sa fertilité, c’est médical, mais les stérilisations qui sont exigées par l’État québécois, ah non, alors là c’est notre faute, c’est volontaire ou quelque chose comme ça.

***

Le pire, avec ce projet de loi, c’est que le condensé de cissexisme qu’il contient est probablement totalement involontaire. En effet, personne ne parle des personnes trans — pas le ministre Barette, pas les médecins, pas l’Association des couples infertiles du Québec, personne. Même Judith Lussier, que j’adore, n’en glisse pas mot dans son article sur la PMA. Même dans les communautés trans, c’est relativement loin dans nos priorités (ce qui est compréhensible, on a d’autres chats à fouetter avec le projet de règlement sur le changement de mention de sexe).

En vérité, le projet de loi 20 a été rédigé dans l’omission quasi-totale des conséquences sur les personnes trans et des façons dont elles seront touchées. Le rapport du commissaire à la santé et au bien-être, Robert Salois, une brique de près de 400 pages déposée en juin 2014, ne parle de personnes trans qu’une fois, dans l’annexe XIV, p. 349, dans un scénario « intentionnellement complexe afin de stimuler la réflexion ». Le scénario, le cas d’un homme trans voulant conserver ses ovaires ou les transférer dans l’utérus de sa copine dans le cadre d’une fécondation in vitro, démontre une connaissance médiocre des vécus trans : en particulier, des hommes trans sans hormones et avec des ovaires fonctionnels qui ont obtenu un changement de mention de sexe, ça ne court pas les rues, pas si le Directeur de l’état civil a un mot à dire là-dessus. Mais bon, ça ne change pas grand chose, le ministre Barette n’a pas particulièrement retenu les recommandations du rapport de toute façon.

En bref

Le projet de loi 20, en 3 phrases :
1) Il a été rédigé sans tenir compte des réalités trans et des stérilisations forcées imposées par l’État québécois.
2) Il impose une évaluation psychosociale aux couples avec une personne trans, ce qui les expose à des refus fondés sur la transphobie.
3) Il retire l’accès gratuit à la préservation du sperme pour les femmes trans.

What Happens Now? Leelah’s Legacy

You may have heard of Leelah Alcorn, a trans girl who committed suicide last December. Her suicide note and her story touched everyone who read it as a tale of suffering and injustice, as it traveled everywhere in the media, including social media. In a few weeks, she’s become an important (yet posthumous) trans rights icon.

Now, I have a confidence to make: I didn’t really give much attention to Leelah’s story at first. I only read more when I saw that it really caught on. Yeah, I skimmed an article on or about the day the news started to be shared around my network, but I didn’t give it much attention. I was sad to read it, to be sure. It is a sad story. A tragic, horrible one, full of suffering. However, it didn’t hit me that hard. It wasn’t news to me. I didn’t learn a new way or a new experience of being trans, but rather one particularly deadly combination of sufferings I knew already.

I knew that trans people commit suicide at an absurd rate: between 40 % and 50 % of trans people have attempted suicide (I did), according to many studies. I knew that many Christians (though not all) resisted strongly to accept trans people as who they are. I knew that parents would prevent their children to transition. I knew that many trans youth strongly desired blockers and/or hormones before puberty hit, because its effects are hard or impossible to reverse (and that many trans adults such as I regret not having said blockers in their own youth, even though the focus on passing is something of a problem as well). I knew that many people were forced unwillingly into detrimental psychological treatment as an obstacle to transition (I was, though less violently than she).

Although it was a new and original story in its details, I knew much of it already, because it’s made of various bits of all our stories. They are all very different and personal, yet often share some traits. Many of these traits are in her story, but many more are not. And we’ve been telling these stories forever between ourselves and to the world.

We’ve been proposing solutions, in fact, to prevent them from happening again. We’re trying our best to implement them, but people, groups and governments everywhere have been preventing us to do so. They have been causing many a Leelah Alcorn while nobody listened to us.

Why didn’t all of you listen before she died?

Will you listen now?

I have a challenge to all of you people: From now on, share our words when we’re alive. Don’t wait until we’re dead. If you thought Leelah’s story was important, it must be because you think that trans people should not die, right? That our situation is unfair? If you think that, don’t you think something should be done?

Here’s how.

If you’re a journalist and wrote an article on Leelah, go on and do that again. Write on the struggles of our communities and activists. Follow trans issues all year long, even when no one victim strikes the public eye (especially since there is something racist in how this public eye registers trans experiences). We know her story and many more, and these stories are the reason we’re asking for specific changes. And after all, she willed all she had to us, trans activists as a whole, so that we would “fix society”. If she matters to you, listen to us from now on.

If you’re an ally and shared Leelah-related articles or commented on them with sympathy, do the same when the aforementioned journalists and others talk about our continuing fights. Because safe access to hormones, budget for community support, and education on trans issues, well… these things that Leelah needed and asked for, we’re asking them all the time, and oh do we need them. If you’re sympathetic to her, you should support us as well when we keep saying what we always have, and when we ask for support.

And if you’re some kind of official in a school, in government, in the health system, anywhere, think about us when you make up your policies. Know that if you don’t allow people to use their preferred names, if you cut funding to community organisms for trans people, if you don’t provide access to trans health services like hormones, you continue creating new Leelahs every day.

We have always been talking. We have often told stories like hers, we gave solutions to stop them from occurring, but you didn’t listen. Like many before and many since, Leelah died mostly because of this: you didn’t listen. Now, please do listen. Always. Change must happen. Help us fix society. Please.

Easier Legal Sex Change Procedures: Quick Rebuttals

Quebec recently published what might become the new legal gender change criteria, and these are highly problematic — and controversial — as they would introduce a new 2 year-long real-life experience as a prerequisite for legal sex change, to replace the now-inadmissible surgical criteria. Trans communities were incensed, as it just moves the problem around.

We ask for legal sex change procedures with no prerequisites, only a sworn declaration, a bit like what’s being done in Argentina. But some people don’t get that, and believe that changing legal gender should be a huge ordeal. However, since there aren’t any solid arguments for this, people will bring up various weak objections, which I will answer here.

Note that this is applicable to Quebec. Some of what I say will apply differently elsewhere.

If we don’t put limits, people will start change their identity every other week!

Unless other changes occur, each request will take about half a year of processing and cost a minimum of 134 $, independently from the critiera. That doesn’t count the effort (and potentially, the cost) of changing your name and sex marker anywhere else (on your ID, bank account, and so on). It is virtually impossible to change these more than two times in a year, and prohibitively expensive to do so anyway, so actual gender fluid people will probably stick to the strategies they have at the moment to deal with gender markers.

I don’t know why anyone else would do that and why, and I don’t see why a major advance for trans rights should be blocked to prevent a hypothetical situation that, honestly, will affect no one (at 134 $ a shot, it certainly pays for the administrative procedure itself).

Easier procedures will help criminals who want to hide from the police!

First, you have to swear on the declaration you send to the civil status director. Making a false declaration is perjury. It’s a criminal offense in itself. It’s illegal, just like many other ways one might try to forge a new identity, such as creating false ID or stealing someone else’s identity. It’s just less subtle, as you’d leave a huge paper trail in government records. So yeah, it’s already the case that they don’t have the right to abuse the procedure.

And even admitting that it would be easier than other ways of disappearing (and I would disagree on that), do you really think that someone who would want to keep a low profile would benefit from having non-matching gendered ID? I mean, trans people, especially trans sex workers, have enormous difficulties when they meet the police because of their ID and trans status. So if they do that, they’d better actually transition as well, which only trans people will probably do.

Bottom line is: If a suspected criminal goes through the legal sex change procedure, it’s probably because they are also trans. Trans people are not saints, they’re normal people, so it happens.

What if people change their minds? What if they didn’t think through their decision?

These sorts of objections assume that transitions are done on a whim, and that people might do things like ask for a legal sex change without understanding what it means. It’s fairly patronizing.

First, if someone really changed their mind the day after sending the form, or some weeks or months later, they can certainly warn the civil status director’s people of this and ask them to stop evaluating their case, or to reject it. So in practice, because bureaucracy is so slow, we have a waiting period of a few months before anything important happens. In truth, most people who are just plain not sure what they want will also wait until they are, if only because it costs 134 $.

Second, most trans people who will seek a legal sex change will do so because they want to have ID that matches their identity, i.e. because they are full-time, or working on it, or planning to transition in the immediate future. A trans person who has specific reasons to wait before transitionning will probably start the procedure so as to coincide with their transition — because as a trans woman presenting as a man, for instance, having female ID would create similar dangerous situations as having male ID while presenting as a woman.

When people ask for a new sex marker, it’s because they need it. They know what they are doing.

And if someone does change their mind after going through legal transition (I won’t deny it: yes, it happens, though it’s fairly rare, but no, it’s not necessarily because they took a bad or premature decision), well you just respect their new choice and grant them another legal sex change to help them live in their chosen identity. Why the fuss about making the procedure one time only? It’s just bits of paper and plastic.

Sapiosexuality and Heterosexism

Sapiosexual is a new, up-and-coming word describing attraction to intelligence, or to intelligent people. Although, by itself, it is somewhat problematic, it is a great tool against heterosexism.

(Unless otherwise noted, for the purpose of this article, words describing sexual attraction will assume a concording romantic and sensual attraction.)

***

First, I do have some reservations with the word “sapiosexual”. Skip at will, but don’t despair: they may even make its strength.

The focus on “intelligence” in “sapiosexual” is problematic. Intelligence is hard to pinpoint. As an upper-middle-class White girl pursuing higher education, I’m fairly prone to qualifying “intelligence” as something that attracts me, because it’s a very valourized attribute in my universe of experiences. However, what I might call “intelligence” is not necessarily a fair assessment of anything, much less cognitive abilities. We attribute intelligence to people based on many discriminatory criteria that don’t actually mean anything. Someone’s accent, their clothes, their overall behaviour, their complexion, the degrees they have all an effect on whether or not we think someone is intelligent. So basically, what the word may imply is “I’m attracted to White people with conventional clothing and prestigious accents, and some other ill-defined traits”, or something of the sort.

And what happens if intelligence is multidimensional? Different aspects of what psychologists outline as “intelligence” are appreciated as such in the popular view (being great at math is more “intelligent” than being a creative painter, for instance), and some, such as emotional or social intelligence, are probably not what is implied in the word “sapiosexual”.

To go even deeper, what sorts of knowledges or abilities qualify as “intelligence” depends on classism, imperialism and ableism. The first two, because Western knowledges and abilities that are deemed useful to the capitalist system are highly valourized — and really, both form a system here. Ableism, because no matter how intelligent they are, people with disabilities tend to be viewed as unintelligent, and not only people with mental disabilities. And no, the positive judgement of Stephen Hawking is not an exception: the enormous public attention he gets as an important and brilliant astrophysicist (which, on all accounts, he totally is) seems at least partly informed by the “inspiration porn” model, judging from how important his disability is to depict him, which is wrong.

So now that I’ve offered my critiques of the word “sapiosexual”, now is why I think it’s a great move forward to say how great it actually is.

***

Almost all the other words we have to describe sexual attraction focus on gender — homo-/heterosexual as the relationship between one’s gender and the object of attraction, andro-/gynephilic as the object of attraction in a male/female binary, bi-/pansexual to describe possible attraction to anyone, no matter their gender, and so on. The only one that doesn’t, asexual, expresses lack of any attraction whatsoever, so yeah.

Sapiosexual goes beyond that. Its great originality is that it moves attraction from someone’s gender to someone’s qualities, to who they are. Yes, pan-/bisexual states that gender is a non-issue, but sapiosexual displaces the issue on the person’s qualities. And that’s major.

That’s why I say it’s a beautiful word. Because why should attraction be about gender only? Indeed, we are attracted to people for a host of reasons not really related to gender, such as attractiveness, common beliefs, or indeed intelligence. Even more, some our criteria are things someone must have for attraction to be possible, or at least sustained enough to create a bond. To take an obvious example, if someone is transphobic, it’s an instant deal breaker for me, and I will be completely incompatible with someone who requires any kind sexual intimacy as part of a relationship.

This idea that “sapiosexual” brings to the table may be used to complexify the other words we have. The kind of femininity desired for a gynephilic person can vary. Some people might want female genitals, because sex is important to them and that’s the part they like. Some people are rather attracted to a kind of gender expression or presentation. Some women might be attracted in women because of a common womanhood, whatever the body or expression. Some will want a combination of all these. And so on. All these possibilities are okay as individual experiences, though they might be problematic if any of them were to define gynephilia as a whole. By separating the attributes that constitute our attraction categories, we might better identify what they imply for us. At the same time, it shows that what “heterosexual” means is highly contingent not only on the person’s own gender, but on their understanding of what gender means in someone else.

Basically, the “man” in “I like men” is as problematic as the “intelligent” in “I like intelligent people”.

What if we created more words for attribute-led attraction, beyond intelligence? I don’t care if they are contingent and subjective categories — “being attracted to men” is as contingent as the others. Being sweet is important for you? What about suavosexual? You like taller or shorter people? You might want to identify as altosexual, or parvosexual. Yes, all these words (sweet, tall, short) are not absolutes, they’re depend on one’s conception of “sweetness” or height, and even one’s own height, and yes, some people will not regard “sweetness” or height as a criterion at all. But the trick here is: The same can be said of gender attraction.

As a target of attraction, the gender categories that words like “homosexual” or “heterosexual” assume are hard to pinpoint — and that’s just what we had said about the “intelligence” category of “sapiosexual”. So why do we all use words such as “homosexual” or “heterosexual” as if they were stone-hard and necessary, so much that people who aren’t gay or straight must justify themselves with words, like bi- or pansexual, that really mean they don’t care? After all, we don’t need to say that we’re not sapiosexual. It’s just assumed until proven otherwise.

By displacing the focus from gender to attributes, we not only deproblematize same-sex attraction, but we challenge gender from being the sole signifier of sexual attraction. We fight both homophobia and biphobia.

And that’s why sapiosexual is a great, subversive word.

Safe, Accessible and Gender-Affirming Bathrooms Checklist

This is inspired by the trans activism I’m doing at the University of Montreal, a lot of which is centered around access to bathrooms for trans people. I am not, however, an expert on accessibility for people with mobility issues.

  1. Unless otherwise noted, bathrooms are not segregated. If you have no particular reason to assigned a space to men/women, then it’s open to all. This means that gender-neutral bathrooms are, in reality, just bathrooms, so you just have to say “Bathroom” or put a toilet sign on the door. Unless you are temporarily redesignating a segregated space into a gender-neutral one, there is not reason to call anything an “all-gender bathroom”. However, if not all your bathrooms are wheelchair-accessible, it’s probably useful to indicate which are and which are not.Gender-Neutral-Toilet-Sign-White-1000
  2. Everyone can access whatever space they prefer. Simple as that. No matter someone’s identity, where they choose to go is their choice. For instance, some trans women go to the men’s bathroom, because they’re not out yet; some will go to the women’s bathroom, because “that’s where I belong”; some will prefer a gender neutral. bathroom, as a result of past harassment in either space. But there are many other possibilities, especially in places that fail elsewhere in this list. For instance, men might want to access the women’s room if the men’s room doesn’t have a diaper changing table.
  3. All single-occupant bathrooms are gender-neutral. And wheelchair-accessible, incidentally. There is no reason to segregate single bathrooms.
  4. Offer a variety of multiple-stall spaces. Because everyone should have a space they feel right in. At the moment, gender-neutral spaces are the most needed, as there are generally few of them. However, some people do feel uncomfortable at the idea of multiple-stall gender-neutral bathrooms — and even though many issues are based in oppressive myths, I still think that even bigots should have the right to pee, so long as they let others do the same. Also, for some trans people such as I, using the segregated bathroom of their choice can be a gesture of affirmation. At least for now, I don’t advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms everywhere, but rather for some kind of parity in multiple-stall spaces — this way, people can choose, and gender-neutral spaces will not be overused and remain accessible to the people who need them (which might become an issue if only single-occupant bathrooms are gender-neutral). But I certainly won’t condemn those who want to go farther.
  5. In every space, at least one stall is wheelchair-accessible. Ditto for the space in general. And if there’s only one, I think shaming able-bodied people into using any of the 30 other stalls is totally legit.
  6. No third bathroom. Seriously. Creating a third bathroom marks the people who use it as “neither a man nor a woman”, and can create dangerous situations.
  7. Segregated spaces are next to each other. Because otherwise, it becomes a nightmare. Ideally, both segregated bathrooms should be wall to wall and separated by a partition wall, so they’ll be easier to adapt into gender-neutral ones, if the desire should arise to change them.
  8. Gender-neutral bathrooms are isolated from gendered spaces. Because a gender-neutral bathroom next to segregated bathrooms is not a gender-neutral bathroom, it’s a third bathroom. Unless you have reaaaally good reason — say, because an architect back in the days was a jerk to people with disabilities, and you’re adapting an old closet into a wheelchair-accessible bathroom. But really, see point 5, and the problem vanishes.
  9. All spaces are well advertised. Everyone should have no problem finding the space they want to use. This can include putting signs showing where the nearest segregated AND gender-neutral spaces are, having a clear policy that anyone can access or that is simple enough that people just get it, and having a webpage showing which bathrooms are gender-neutral/wheelchair-accessible and how to find them.
  10. Facilities are the same in all spaces. Men’s, women’s and non-segregated spaces should offer diaper-changing stations. The same applies to tampon disposal cans — some men have periods too. And so on.

If you disagree with my opinions or would like to add something, please comment! This is always a work in progress.