gender

Well intentioned, but unworkable: the NUS and cross-dressing

Genderqueer_pride_flagMuch has been said in the last few days about the NUS banning crossdressing from UK campuses. This is of course a massive overstatement. The offending resolution, passed at the NUS Women’s conference 2015, merely states that the conference should “issue a statement condemning cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress”.

Reactions to the resolution have been largely negative (I had to go to a place no one should ever have to go – page six of Google’s search results – to find a blog post in favour of it) and a good  portion of that has been of the oh-won’t-someone-think-of-the-poor-straight-cis-men variety, which is just, y’know, *eyeroll*.

Here is the offending article in full. You can read a .pdf of the document here.

 con believes

The intent of the resolution is to decrease transphobia, but as the saying goes, intent is not magic, and the wording here is far from perfect. You do not have to search for long to find a slew of evidence supporting the assertion (noted under the heading ‘conference believes’) that trans and non-binary people are routinely denigrated in popular culture. This is categorically something we should work to end. Should cisgender men dress as women or, worse, ape hurtful and harmful trans* stereotypes with the sole intention of mockery? Obviously not. It’s tasteless, unoriginal verging on boring and it contributes to a culture of misogyny, trans- and whorephobia. It’s emphatically a good idea to ask people to consider their motivations when they cross-dress for entertainment. Likewise, it’s a good idea to promote sensitivity towards gender difference and acknowledge how our actions might contribute to a culture of transphobia and misogyny. But should we legislate against it? Well… no. Or at least, not like this.
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No laughing matter: Sexism on the comedy circuit

no-girls-allowedWhat do you call a woman at a comedy club? The waitress.

I recently experienced some old school, 50s-style sexism at the hands of an award-winning London comedy club. Don Draper didn’t pinch my bottom. I wasn’t thrown out of the board room. I was kept out of a less glamorous room – the upstairs of a north London pub.

A little bit of background – I’m not a professional comedian. I’m entirely new to the world of comedy, having just done a beginners course, and I’m trying to book a few London gigs and make performing a semi regular hobby. I’d heard that this club (which shall remain nameless) runs a well respected new acts night. When they told me that they were fully-booked for the foreseeable future it wasn’t particularly surprising – clearly lots of people want to get on the bill there. But then the surprising thing happened. Three male friends who had done the comedy course with me were given spots, despite having asked after I was told no.

So what does a girl do in this situation? Well firstly, I obsessed that I had somehow come across as an unfunny idiot in my initial email, and that’s why they’d said no. Then I went into detective mode. I set up a new email account under a male name, emailed the club pretending to be a completely new person, and waited. Lo and behold, my male alter ego was given a spot, no questions asked.
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Community says gender is a spectrum, science finally agrees.

Prof._Dr._Dick_SwaabThe Medical University of Vienna this month released the results of a study that confirmed what we’ve known all along: gender is a spectrum.

The study was conducted by the Dutch Institute for Neurosciences in Amsterdam as part of a cooperation project between the Medical University of Vienna and brain researcher Prof. Dr. Dick F. Swaab, under the guidance of Rupert Lanzenberger. The study has been published in the renowned Journal of Neuroscience.

Gender is a complex concept, and certain sections of the LGBT community have been disparaging of trans identities, claiming that gender is, and can only ever be, socially constructed. This study provides evidence that gender is determined in the psyche and can be neurally represented

According to a press release:

It [is] now possible to demonstrate neural correlates (analogies) of the identity perception in the network of the brain.

It [is] furthermore possible to detect a strong relationship between the microstructure connections among these networks and the testosterone level measured in the blood. Lanzenberger: “These results suggest that the gender identity is reflected in the structure of brain networks which form under the modulating influence of sex hormones in the course of the development of the nervous system.

The study examined cisgender male and female subjects, and transgender people, revealing significant differences in the microstructure of the brain connections between male and female control subjects. Transgender persons took up a middle position between both genders.
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