Andrew Guy

We speak to our NSW #YourChair winner Andrew Guy about his journey as a trans person #TheProjectTV

Posted by The Project on Monday, September 7, 2015

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Interesting: Swedish Preschool Bans Gendered Terms

news.com.au
27 June 2011


AT the Egalia preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys. 

From the colour and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher.

"Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged one to six is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behaviour that risk reinforcing stereotypes.

Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.

"Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued," says Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger and a leading voice against what she calls "gender madness" in Sweden. Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"

At Egalia - the title connotes "equality" - boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole. Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.

Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless - until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.

Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no Snow White, Cinderella or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes. Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play. "A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."

Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Rajalin says the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls. But she says that there's a long waiting list for admission to Egalia, and that only one couple has pulled a child out of the school. Jukka Korpi, 44, says he and his wife chose Egalia "to give our children all the possibilities based on who they are and not on their gender." Sweden has promoted women's rights for decades, and more recently was a pioneer among European countries in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legalise their partnerships and adopt children.
Gender studies permeate academic life in Sweden. Bergkvist noted on her blog that the state-funded Swedish Science Council had granted $US80,000 ($A76,175) for a postdoctoral fellowship aimed at analysing "the trumpet as a symbol of gender."

Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go. "The kind of things that boys like to do - run around and turn sticks into swords - will soon be disapproved of," he said. "So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness." 

Egalia is unusual even for Sweden. Staff try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her - "han" or "hon" in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless "hen," a word that doesn't exist in Swedish but is used in some feminist and gay circles. "We use the word "hen" for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten," Rajalin says. "We don't know if it's a he or a she so we just say 'Hen is coming around 2pm' Then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view."

Egalia doesn't deny the biological differences between boys and girls - the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct. What matters is that children understand that their biological differences "don't mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities," Rajalin says. "This is about democracy. About human equality."

Friday, June 24, 2011

The End of Gender? As we come closer to entering 'The Age Of Aquarius' this seems fitting

NPR Publication - 23/06/2011


Look closely and you may see signposts

• Kathy Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising their 4-month-old child, Storm, without revealing the child's gender. According to the birth announcement from the Toronto couple: "We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place?)"
• Andrej Pejic, an androgynous Australian model, worked both the male and female runways at the Paris fashion shows earlier this year.

Could we be heading toward the end of gender?

And by "gender" we mean, according to Merriam-Webster, "the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex." In other words, the cultural expectations that go along with saying that someone is a boy or a girl. In other other words, not someone's sex — the person's gender.
"Sex differences are real and some are probably present at birth, but then social factors magnify them," says Lise Eliot, an associate professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps and What We Can Do About It. "So if we, as a society, feel that gender divisions do more harm than good, it would be valuable to break them down. "

Gender Neutrality

Perhaps you have a friend or family member who is more comfortable with a new gender. Or maybe you have had dealings with someone of indeterminate gender in the checkout line. Maybe you have seen the old "It's Pat" routines from Saturday Night Live. Because there is a growing societal awareness of gender consciousness and of a certain blurriness of genders, the question "Is it a boy or a girl?" may not just be for expectant parents anymore.

And so what? Does gender matter? In a country with the ideal of treating everyone fairly and equitably, do we really need to know if someone is a boy or a girl? These questions are driving decisions and actions around the country.

• In Muskegon, Mich., officials at Mona Shores High School declared this year's prom court would be gender-neutral — with no "kings" and "queens" — after denying a transgender student the homecoming-king crown last year.
• In Johnson City, Tenn., East Tennessee State University recently announced that it is exploring gender-neutral housing for students — following the lead of Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Rutgers University and other colleges. These are not just coed dorms, but dorms for anyone regardless of how they express their gender. The roommate you choose can be gay or straight or whatever.
• Around the beginning of this year, the State Department began using gender-neutral language on U.S. passports — replacing "father" and "mother" with "Parent One" and Parent Two" — to make it simpler for nontraditional parents, beyond the male/female combination, to get passports for their children. 

Everywhere you turn, it seems, there is talk of gender-neutral this and gender-free that: baby bedding (Wild Safari by Carousel); fashion (Kanye West in a Celine women's shirt); Bibles (the New International Version).
Gender neutrality, writes one blogging parent, is the new black.

'High-Stakes Social Constructions'

A female-to-male transsexual and advocate for transgender rights, Dean Spade writes often about gender issues. Spade is an assistant professor at Seattle University School of Law and founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in New York City, which offers free legal guidance to transgender, intersex and gender-nonconforming clients.

In a 2008 paper, "Documenting Gender," Spade examines the gender reclassification polices of public agencies and departments in the United States. In the past 40 years, Spade observes, society has come to recognize the existence of a group of people, currently known as "transgender," who identify with and live as a different gender than the one assigned to them when they were born.

In an interview, Spade makes a passionate pitch for the elimination of gender categorization in most government record-keeping. "I really don't think that data needs to be on our IDs or gathered by most agencies and institutions," Spade says. Tagging someone as female or male "enforces binary gender norms and it pretends that gender is a more stable category of identity than it actually is."

Spade says, "I can see why we might want institutions to be aware of gender at a general level in order to engage in remediation of the sexism and transphobia that shape our world."

For example, Spade says, gender-based affirmative action — that rectifies discrimination against women — might be called for in certain programs and institutions "so we might want institutions to do an analysis of who is getting to participate." But, Spade adds, in order to gain a general idea of the gender makeup of a particular population, it is not necessary to then turn around and post that information on a particular participant's personal record.

Why Gender Still Matters

Gender matters to Leonard Sax, a family physician, psychologist and founder and executive director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. Sax has written several books on gender, including Why Gender Matters and Girls on the Edge.

When NPR asked Sax whether he sees signs of the end of gender in contemporary society, he responded with a lively defense of gender distinctions, an edited version of which appears here:

The tidbits you mention — the Toronto couple, or the J. Crew fashion catalog — are of interest only to a small segment of media people, and without resonance in the larger society.

As opposed to the tidbits you cited, I would observe:

• The new head of New York City Public Schools, Dennis Walcott, has called for more single-sex public schools in New York City.
• The newly elected mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, has called for more single-sex public schools in the city of Chicago.
• Tampa public schools are opening a girls' public school and a boys' public school this fall. Not charter schools, but regular public schools under the authority of the district.

Ignoring gender won't make it go away. On the contrary: Ignoring gender has the ironic consequence of exacerbating gender stereotypes.

The determined lack of awareness of gender difference which you describe ... puts both girls and boys at risk — but in different ways. Not merely academically, but physically — increasing girls' risks of knee injury and concussion — and spiritually — increasing girls' risks of drug and alcohol abuse; increasing boys' risk of disengagement and apathy.

If you don't think gender matters in the classroom, you haven't been in a third-grade classroom recently. I have visited more than 300 schools over the past 11 years.

You will find that white, black, Spanish-speaking doesn't matter on this parameter; affluent or low-income doesn't matter; urban or rural doesn't matter. Gender is far more important, more fundamental, than any of those other parameters. On many parameters relevant to education, such as attention span, a white boy from an affluent home in Bethesda or McLean has more in common with an African-American male from a low-income home in Southeast D.C. than he has in common with his own sister, a white girl.

Many third-grade boys today in the United States have told me "school is a stupid waste of time." I have never heard such a comment from a third-grade girl in this country. Do you think that doesn't matter?
Developing policies to counter the impact of sexism and transphobia, Spade adds, does not require a belief that gender categories are "real — stable, unchangeable, natural. We can engage such strategies while understanding that gender categories are high-stakes social constructions deployed in ways that endanger and harm socially determined groups."

Boychicks

To chronicle her adventures in gender-neutral parenting, Arwyn Daemyir writes a blog called Raising My Boychick. She describes herself as "a walking contradiction: knitting feminist fulltime parent, Wiccan science-minded woowoo massage therapist, queer-identified male-partnered monogamist, body-loving healthy-eating fat chick, unmedicated mostly-stable bipolar."

She describes her boychick, born in March 2007, as a "male-assigned at birth — and so far apparently comfortable with that assignment, white, currently able-bodied, congenitally hypothyroid, cosleeper, former breastfed toddler, elimination communication graduate, sling baby and early walker, trial and terror, cliched light of our life, and impetus for the blog. Odds are good he will be the most privileged of persons: a middle class, able bodied, cisgender, straight, white male."

The adjective cisgender — as opposed to transgender — describes someone who is at peace with the gender he or she was assigned at birth.

Daemyir lives in Portland, Ore. She and her straight male partner are expecting another baby in September.
For Daemyir, gender-neutral parenting is not an attempt to eliminate gender, "because the 70s'-era gender neutral parenting movement proved that's not possible."

But, she adds, she has concerns about the ways we designate and segregate gender in public, "starting with the idea that there are two-and-only-two genders — a construction, and a myth, in our society that excludes many."

To that end, Daemyir supports, among other changes, non-gender-designated single-stall bathrooms and an option for unisex washrooms and locker rooms. "Right now, when an establishment only has one toilet stall, of course it is non-gendered. Why, when there is room for two, must they arbitrarily be designated for 'Men' and 'Women'? When a place has room enough for several large rooms of toilets and free-standing single-stalls, why must they all be gendered, when it would be as easy to make some single-gendered and some not, giving people the ability to make choices that are most comfortable or convenient for them?"

Daemyir does not think that eliminating all single-gender areas "is beneficial or safe either, necessarily, but ... we over-designate many of these things when it's simply not necessary, and actively harms a particularly marginalized population — people with non-binary genders."



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Love Hate Relationship with Medical People Continues...

My initial disclaimer for this post - "I am writing and expressing these thoughts in a neutral manner and all of this is based on my personal experience only" ...

Forging positive relationships with doctors and surgeons during this process I can see is not always easy, my challenge, how to best conduct oneself when I know I"m smart enough to be a doctor (I just decided not to do medicine), I'm know I'm completely sane and know exactly what I need! Convincing surgeons of this appears to be challenging sometimes purely based on the fact that gender swap is a foreign concept...I wonder if this is a component of a medical degree? I truly wish it was more so!!! 

What's lead to this post is a fairy simple situation that I find myself in...I went and saw the surgeon that is known to work with trans people regarding chest re-construction and I won't be seeing her again. My intelligence was insulted numerous times and I was 'told' that 'this is the way I work'. I'm quite fine with this as there are many plastic surgeons listed on the 'Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons'. 

As almost what one could consider a 'gift of grace'...I just received a random FB message from a stranger who read my feature in Madison this month, offering complete support, along with a suggestion of a GREAT plastic surgeon that did her breast reduction surgery a number of years ago. I just rang this DR and asked if they would be willing to have an appointment with me. Short answer was "no he/she doesn't do 'that'" but this doctor does (aka the one I will NOT be going to - see above!). I explained that I wouldn't be seeing this person and was after another opinion...so they are getting back to me with any other recommendations they can think of". 

This was all polite and helpful so no complaints at all with this service...this puzzles me though, really what is the difference here between a female wanting a breast reduction from D cup to B cup...to me currently who wouldn't even probably fit a A cup to go to flat chest? 

As the article mentions I'm not entirely sure that with more time on testosterone, gym work and removal of estrogen producing organs that I'll need anything anyway, but being a curious being I want to speak to another surgeon about it...what's the big deal that I'm changing from a she to he?!

This is all!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Sunday Afternoon Update of what's next

I wanted to post a quick update on what's happening. Obviously you'll see above there have been quite a few media opportunities that have come my way, which has been fabulous to share a little more with the wider communities about what transgender is about (from one person's perspective that is, as I still stay strong in the belief that this is a very different and personal journey for anyone undertaking it) even though criticism has come from within the Australian trans community as to the level of depth and exposure that has taken place.

It has been amazing to see in my web stats that the 2DayFM interview has been played over 1000 times and reached people in not only Australia, the UK and US but also to the UAE, South Africa, Belgium as well as other parts of Europe and Asia...thanks Kyle & Jackie O - love you guys!!! But also huge thank you to Madison and The Circle as well for taking such a loving interest in this topic. Other transgender people and parents of transgender people continue to contact me daily asking questions which I can see is helping many, so hats off to you all in the media for making such a difference to these lives in the community!!

I'm now refocusing back into the process, with an increased work out regime that is starting this week, along with some more video blog filming, and also most importanly surgeon research. I have a few appointments lined up with different surgeons discussing options of the best way forward for me which I will share shortly. My next goal is to undertake some surgery that is as least invasive as possible, to be able to officially change my gender over on Medicare and on my birth certificate, so I can travel back to the US later this year for acting purposes, on a male passport.

I should have more information on the outcome of these doctors meetings within the next 2 weeks and will be sure to keep you up to date as I make the next phase of decisions!!

Much love to all again for taking such a keen interest in this topic xxx

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