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Anti-trans activists fudge OIA statement – Report

23 March 2019 2 comments

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An Official Information Act (OIA) response released to this blogger appears to confirm suspicions that anti-trans-activists mis-represented six cases of trans-women prisoners allegedly involved in violent incidences in Women’s correctional facilities.

The OIA response from the Corrections Department, was first released to persons unknown (see original document, with recipient redacted) in September last year. The recipient asked several questions related to trans-gender women (male-to-female) prisoners held in Women’s prisons:

  • How many trans-identified males are in New Zealand prisons.
  • How many are in for violent crimes, including sexual assault?
  • How many trans-identified males are in women’s prison’s?

The ‘loaded’ language of the questions pointedly referred to “trans-identified males” instead of the more common-usage of “trans-gender women” by the LGBTQI community.

This is a strong indication that the unknown recipient had their own bias on the issue of trans-gender men and women.  The unknown recipient was setting the narrative by not  correctly address trans prisoners in women’s prisons as trans-women.

It may also have created some confusion in the mind of the author of the OIA response;

“As your request focuses on ‘trans-identified males’ in prisons, each of these questions has been interpreted to relate to transgender individuals who may have been assigned female at birth, but identify as male.”

It is apparent, though, that the unknown recipient actually had in mind “assigned male at birth, but [who later] identify as female”.

The Corrections OIA response states;

“Custodial staff are also being provided with training material to develop an understanding of gender diversity, with a focus on the use of correct pronouns and appropriate language.”

Mis-use of  correct pronouns and appropriate gender terms has been prevalent by “gender critical” activists to the point where accurate meaning is obscured and becomes denigrating to trans-people. This appears to be deliberate.

Previous commentators on The Daily Blog and social media have also referred made reference to attacks on women by trans-“men” prisoners;

six attacks on women by trans men in prison

Correction says that over the year there have been six attacks on women prisoners by these trans men who retain their male bodies

six women prisoners have alleged they were attacked by some of the men transferred into the women’s prison

“I have an OIA from NZ Corrections. SIX women were assaulted by male-bodied people (who id as women) in the last 24 months. NO women assaulted a male-bodied person”

One commentator asserted, inaccurately;

“Some men are imprisoned for committing violent crimes against women. If they are trans in prison they may be attacked themselves. Corrections have moved to protect these people by transferring them to women’s prisons.”

– though this was later retracted by the same person, admitting it could not be substantiated.

However, the OIA response from Corrections does not verify the allegations. Corrections has clarified the issue by pointing out;

“… no transgender individual housed at a women’s prison (either identifying as male, or female) has been convicted of sexual offences.”

There has been no reported instance of a ‘Karen White‘-type assault in New Zealand. In the case of British sex-offender, “Karen White”,  Jenny-Anne Bishop, from the UK  transgender rights group Transforum, was highly critical of the way in which White was not correctly assessed, nor that White’s sexual offending against women and children had not been more rigorously considered.

In Britain, Ms Bishop, said;

“The case boards* are a good way of doing things – you can’t say the system is wrong when it goes wrong once. It is almost the exception that proves the rule – you’ve just got to look at what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again. No system is perfect. It’s human nature that people will sometimes get it wrong.”

(* A local transgender case board consisting of prison managers and psychologists who decide where to place trans-identifying prisoners – eg; “Karen White” – within three days of incarceration.)

In New Zealand, Corrections has stated that a trans-gender prisoner who has  been convicted of a sexual offence against a person of their own nominated gender would not be placed alongside prisoners of their nominated-gender;

“A transgender prisoner whose detention relates to a serious sexual offence against a person of their nominated gender, or who was released from a prison sentence for such an offence within the last seven years, will not be eligible to apply to the Chief Executive [for placement in accordance with their nominated gender].”

At no point have “gender critical” activists publicised this salient point from the OIA release.

The claim that there have been “six attacks on women by trans men in prison” (ie, trans-women) has also not been fully confirmed by the OIA release.The statement confirms six alleged assaults;

“A total of six prisoner on prisoner assault incidents occurred in women’s prisons from January 2017 to the date of your request, where the prisoner alleged to have committed the assault had a transgender alert.”

There is no clarity provided as to the circumstances of the alleged assaults. No incident reports have been attached with the OIA release. There is no indication what investigations were carried out or what findings, if any, were made.

All we are told is that there were six incidents and the prisoner(s) involved “had a transgender alert“. There are several questions that remain unanswered;

  • How many trans-gender people were involved? One? Six? Is it the same person involved in all six incidences? Or six people in one incident each?
  • Were the alleged assaults made on CIS women, or were trans-prisoners involved in incidences involving each other?
  • And were these incidences cases where the trans-gender person was the instigator, or self-defence against harassment or assault by another person?
  • What was the nature of the assault? A shove; a slap/punch; a life-threatening attack?

The Corrections Dept OIA release breaks down the number of transgender prisoners in women’s facilities’

“Of the 33 transgender prisoners mentioned above, 26 were housed in a men’s prison, and 7 were housed in a women’s prison.”

Interestingly, one of those seven was a trans-man (assigned female at birth, but identifies as male);

“One transgender prisoner in a women’s prison is recorded as identifying as a male.”

There is no indication whether this female-to-male trans-prisoner was involved in any of the six incidents.

It is a struggle to understand how “gender critical” activists can make a case against housing trans-women in Women’s prisons based on such a profound lack of clear evidence.

What is clearly understood is a history of trans-people suffering harrasment, assaults, sexual violation, and worse within prisons in New Zealand and overseas. For “gender critical” activists to now target trans-people as threatening women in “safe places” such as prisons is disturbing.

Prisons are already brutal institutions where ongoing brutalisation takes place on a daily basis. Page 84 of the 2016/17 Corrections Dept Annual Report reveals that in the 2016/17 financial year, there “were almost 1,500 non-serious/no injury assaults (on prisoners and staff)”, twentyfive of which were serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults.

There is no break-down on gender, ethnicity, age, location of facility, etc.

That is not to say that women’s (and men’s) prisons should not be made safer. It is our social responsibility to ensure that people whose lives have been damaged and de-railed (often from a very early age), and then incarcerated by the State,  are not brutalised any further.  It serves no useful purpose to see prisoners eventually released into the community more bitter and violent than when they went in.

Focusing on six transgender prisoners out of a prison population of approximately ten thousand is unhelpful.  Re-victimisation of an already marginalised minority is something that is no longer acceptable in New Zealand.

Whatever point “gender critical” activists have attempted to make with those three loaded OIA questions, and the subsequent mis-representation of the response from Corrections, has been lost in a swirling miasma of irrational transphobia.

They have not helped their case one iota.

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References

Corrections Dept: OIA statement on transgender prisoners – 3.9.2018

Radio NZ: Sex self-identification debate a ‘cesspool of harmful stereotypes’

Snopes: Did a Male Rapist Who Identifies as Female Transfer to a Women’s Jail and Assault Female Inmates?

Transforum

The Guardian: Karen White – how ‘manipulative’ transgender inmate attacked again

Corrections Dept: Annual Report 2016/17(p84)

Previous related blogposts

First they came

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 March 2019.

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Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

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apartheid

noun

1. (in the Republic of South Africa) a rigid former policy of segregating and economically and politically oppressing the non-white population.
2. any system or practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity, caste, etc.

Dictionary.com

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Imagine having to apply a State body to confirm who and how you identify. Imagine if you are a Pakeha or Maori; CIS male or female; or a gay, lesbian, or bisexual,  having to acquire evidence from multiple medical specialists and compile a file to support your identity.

Imagine if you, reading this blog, had to rely on that Court’s decision as to how you would be identified by society.

Imagine, for example, if the identities of fellow bloggers Willie Jackson’s as a male Maori; David Farrar as a male Pakeha; Martyn Bradbury as a male Pakeha; Susan St John as a female Pakeha, former blogger Marama Davidson as a female Maori – were all determined by a Court of law.

Imagine if the required paperwork to present your application to the Court involved corroborating documentation from various professionals.

Imagine that the process was not free, but costs thousands of dollars. Imagine if you could not afford the cost, you could not apply to the Court: it was dependent on your ability to pay.

Imagine that the final decision then rests with a Court and a solitary judge (usually an old white male).

Imagine that your application could be knocked back; denied on a number of grounds.

Imagine that without approval from the Court, you could not identify as the gender, race, etc, that you felt yourself to be.

No need to imagine.

It exists.

There is a class of New Zealanders for whom all of the above is a reality: dictated by law.

But not for everyone. For the majority of us, there is no legal requirement for us to undergo a process to define who we are.

If you are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, you are who you are. The State plays no role in determining who you are or how your identify (for gay and bisexual men, since 1986).

You are a free citizen.

But the same does not apply for 100% of New Zealanders. We have a two-class system operating in this country.

If you accept the broad definition above, it may be surprising to discover we have an invisible  form of apartheid operating in this country.

The following is ‘Andrea’s’* story and how our own apartheid system has impacted on her.

Andrea is in her late 50s/early 60s. She is a university-educated professional, highly respected and successful in her field. Her research papers are required reading and has been referenced overseas by others working in her area of endeavour.

She is smart, observant, highly capable, articulate, and with a strong, supportive, close circle of  friends, loyal work colleagues, and loving family. She has two sons who adore her and are not shy or short of offering plenty of hugs, and an ex-partner with whom she maintains tight bonds of friendship and mutual support.

Andrea is also a trans-woman.

Andrea’s journey to transition to the gender she identifies with – female – did not begin in 2002, when she undertook gender-reassignment surgery here in New Zealand.

Andrea’s journey did not begin in 1999 when she came out to her work colleagues.

Andrea’s journey did not begin a year earlier, when she confronted her own true self and disclosed to her then-wife, Sharon*, that she identified as a woman and not as the male’s body she had been born into. It ended their marriage (which had already been under considerable pressure because of Andrea’s hidden gender dysphoria) – but in turn her disclosure to Sharon created a much stronger bond of trust and friendship.

Andrea’s journey began when she was three years old, when she “didn’t feel right” as a boy, and wanted to be a girl.

Her journey was not a simple one. But she says the surgical intervention she went through seventeen years ago was the least of her considerable challenges.

The surgery itself was reasonably straight forward,” she says.

The real challenges were the legal, procedural, and regulatory barriers she had to face.

To achieve a diagnosis for gender dysphoria and gain access to the female hormone oestrogen she first had to be assessed by a psychologist. That assessment consisted of ten, one hour long, sessions. It was a financial cost she had to bear.

Her next step was another specialist, an endocrinologist. That assessment was paid through her local DHB. This allowed Andrea to be prescribed androgen-blockers as well as critically-needed oestrogen.

She underwent electrolysis for unwanted facial hair. This process would be required for the following fifteen years. Cost, around $25,000, paid by Andrea.

Then came the major event that would transform her forever: genital reassignment surgery by New Zealand’s sole plastic surgeon qualified in this particular field. Cost, around $27,000,  again paid by Andrea.

But first – more professionals came and went through her life. The surgeon required two independent psychologist’s assessments; a psychiatric assessment and report, and an assessment by a social worker. The cost of these professionals – around $4,000 – was paid by Andrea.

In 2003, following succesful surgery, Andrea applied to the Family Court for a Declaration changing her gender, and recognising her as female. This required a sworn affidavit from Andrea’s endocrinologist to be presented by her lawyer.

A personal, sworn affidavit was also demanded from Andrea,  affirming that she would not change her mind – despite already having undergone radical genital reassignment surgery. (Perhaps law-makers thought she might “want it put back” later that afternoon?)

Cost of lawyer and court fees: paid by Andrea.

Andrea suffered an unexpected setback when the Judge refused to accept the endocrinologist’s affidavit. He demanded instead that the operating surgeon supply the required documentation.

Disappointed, but with black humour, Andrea asked her lawyer;

“What does he want? That I lift my dress and drop my knickers?”

Her lawyer replied that would probably not be helpful.

She paid more lawyer’s fees – around $3,000 – to obtain the surgeon’s affidavit. Another Court hearing followed.

That was followed by a process called tracheal shave – paid by Andrea. Cost, around $7,000.

The eventual Declaration by the Court reaffirming Andrea as legally female allowed her to be issued with a new much-needed female birth certificate.

That, in turn, would allow Andrea to apply for a passport in her newly identified female gender.

This permitted her to undertake facial feminisation surgery in Belgium. Cost, approximately $40,000, paid by Andrea.

That was followed by vocal chord surgery in Luxembourg in 2016, costing Andrea about $15,000.

A year later she had additional corrective surgery. More cost for Andrea; $12,000.

Andrea recognises that she is highly privileged. Her social status; high education; generous income; progressive employer and work-colleagues; and well-defined support network have benefitted her in ways that the vast majority of trans-people do not enjoy.

At the time the public health system funded only two trans-gendering operations per year and she could personally afford to “jump the queue”. There is an underlying painful sadness in Andrea’s tone when says ruefully that most trans-people are nowhere as lucky or privileged as she is.

Her decades-long journey to become her true self could by no means be described as a “spur-of-the-moment” fancy. The many years she waited; the number of professionals involved; each momentous step; the milestones achieved; the high financial cost;  the regulatory demands from medical professionals and Court; the incredible patience and support from her colleagues, friends, and family – was not for the faint-hearted.

Yet, this is what we demand from those who are our trans-brothers and trans-sisters.

Nowhere else do we expect people to jump through regulatory hoops and cross artificial barriers to simply be allowed to be who we are. Whether you are straight or gay or bi-sexual, you don’t have to fill out a form and beg a Judge’s approval on a “Declaration”.

But we demand it from people who identify as “trans”. For no apparent, logical,  reason that makes any coherent sense.

There is the spurious argument that trans-men and trans-women are a “special case” because they require invasive surgery to allow them to function as they identify.

Yet we don’t expect the elderly to undergo multiple psychiatric, psychological, social worker assessments, plus a Court Declation, to undergo hip surgery. Or organ transplants. Or any of the myriad millions of other invasive medical interventions which nearly all New Zealanders undergo throughout their lives.

But we demand it from trans-men and trans-women.

There is no clear reason why we treat trans-men and trans-women so completely differently to the rest of the population.

As a person who self-identifies as a CIS Male, who do I have to appeal to, to be recognised as such? No one of course.

If the State demanded such stringent, bureaucratic, legal  rules from the rest of us, there would be widespread, massive public resistance. “State thuggery” and “nanny statism” would be screamed from both Left and Right.

But for reasons that remain unclear, it is considered acceptable to treat trans-people in such a callous, inhumane way.

In some ways, the way we treat trans-people is a form of legally-sanctioned, socialised bullying. As if society has found the smallest, weakest, most vulnerable minority in our community and saddled them with huge demands that exists nowhere else.

On TVNZ’s Q+A, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, announced that the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill would  be deferred. She offered the excuse that it was necessary  to deal with “problems” caused by the select committee process;

“However, significant changes were made to the Bill by the select committee around gender self-identification and this occurred without adequate public consultation. This has created a fundamental legal issue.”

The Select Committee is usually the appropriate forum where public consultation takes place. It is unclear where Ms Martin believes “adequate public consultation” should occur, if not Parliament’s Select Committee – the highest “Court” in the nation.

It would be disturbing if a tiny, shrill minority of so-called “gender critical feminists” has put pressure on Ms Martin. If a Minister of a supposedly progressive government cannot act with courage to protect our most vulnerable, then that would be a tragedy.

I hope I am wrong in thinking that is what took place behind closed doors.

When Fran Wilde presented gay reform legislation to Parliament in 1986, she suffered unbelievable threats of intimidation, violence, and death. Opposition to homosexuality elicited insane arguments from homophobes;

Some people argued that the law would lead to more homosexuality and that this would eventually mean the collapse of the family unit. Fear and a lack of understanding led some to claim that young boys would be put at risk. Homosexuality and paedophilia – sex with children – were sometimes regarded as the same thing.

 

Many of the lunatic arguments against legalising male homosexuality in 1986 are being repeated again against trans-people. Most of those arguments are similar to the “claim that young boys would be put at risk” – but this time the supposed “victims” of the trans-bogey are girls and women “threatened in safe places”. Such claims are unclear in specifics and are deliberately vague to create a sense of unease with a phantom menace.

So-called “gender critical feminists” have taken to using offensive and degrading terms such ‘misgendering’ and ‘deadnaming’ to further undermine and deny trans-gender activists’ identities. It is an unnecessary, cruel tactic more commonly found on right-wing websites.

But Ang Jury, from New Zealand Women’s Refuge refutes any suggestion of problems with trans-gender women with Susan Strongman reporting for Radio NZ that “there is a solid process around deciding who gets into safe houses, and that transgender women have been allowed into many refuge spaces for years without issue“.

Last year, National Council of Women and YWCA came out strongly in support of the trans-gender community, with NCW CEO, Gill Greer, stating;

“Trans women’s rights are women’s rights – and ‘women’s rights are human rights.”

Feminists who support the trans-movement know full well that there are few such “safe places” and that most sexual abuse/attacks on girls and women occur in the home (or work place) and the perpetrator is usually known to the victim/survivor.

Exploiting the fear of “stranger danger” against the trans-community – many of whom have themselves been victims of harassment and/or sexual assault – is obscene.

The trans-community and it’s supporters counter opposition to the right to self-ID and describe it as fear-mongering;

Local transphobic campaigners are backed by a large group of extremely bigoted international social media accounts, many of which are controlled by extreme right wing and religious fundamentalists.

This article from the Southern Poverty Law Centre helps explains the relationships between the groups driving the campaign.

Campaigners are making claims about predators using the proposed law changes to gain access to vulnerable people. These claims are manufactured and intended to create a moral panic. Evidence shows that no such incidents have been reported in countries where these changes have been made.

It’s important to remember that anybody making changes to markers on their birth certificates would make a statutory declaration in front of a Justice of the Peace under penalty of perjury. The ability to more easily change the gender marker on your birth certificate can’t be carried out on a whim or with dubious intent. The changes proposed simply brings the process for changing all major forms of identification in line with one another.

Minister Tracey Martin has a moment in our history to do the right thing. Fran Wilde led the way with gay law reform.

But the movement for social justice and inclusion did not end thirty-three years ago. Just as the feminist movement still has much to accomplish.

We cannot, as a society, exclude a small minority by creating a system or practice that separates people according to their status as trans-gendered.

That is apartheid.

And we’re all agreed that apartheid is a bad thing?

To Minister Martin I say this:  thirty-three years years ago, your Parliamentary predecessor, Fran Wilde, did the right thing by standing up for gay men. She endured a storm of personal threats and vitriol that would wither most of us.

But she stood up for what was right.

Will you do the same; will you stand up for what is right?

It’s not a difficult question. Fran Wilde knew the answer.

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Acknowledgement: this author wishes to thank Andrea and others in the Wellington trans-community for sharing their experiences  and allowing me to honour their stories. – Frank Macskasy

* Name changed to protect ‘Andrea’s’ and ‘Sharon’s’ privacy and prevent harassment.

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References

Dictionary.com: Apartheid

Radio NZ: Births, deaths and marriages bill deferred to allow more public consultation

NZ History: Homosexual law reformPage 4 – Reforming the law

The Right To Self ID: What is the Births Deaths and Marriages Act?

YWCA: We support trans rights in Aotearoa

Radio NZ: Sex self-identification debate a ‘cesspool of harmful stereotypes’

Additional

Radio NZ: Transgender and non-binary communities disappointed at bill deferral

Robinhead: Gender Roles

Previous related blogposts

First they came

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 February 2019.

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Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

2 February 2019 2 comments

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On 6 January, this blogger reported on a ‘tweet’ and  associated blogpost from right-wing blogger and National Party supporter, David Farrar;

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David Farrar had commented on a story that appeared on Fairfax/Stuff’s website on 18 December 2018, entitled;

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“UK school children to be taught boys can have periods too”

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As this blogger wrote on 6 January;

The Fairfax/Stuff article was based on a report from Brighton & Hove City Council dated 3 December 2018. The BHCC report  outlined how better support could be offered to students in the Council’s area for sanitary products during menstruation. The Council report outlined measures that could be taken to offer support where needed, remove stigma and shame associated with menstruation, and provide better education on the subject.

This was outlined on page 10 of the report.

Also on page 10 was a section headed;

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Key messages for learning about periods

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The tenth bullet-point made this observation;

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The statement reads “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods“.

It should actually read; “Trans boys and Trans men and non-binary people may have periods“. Or even “Trans boys/men and non-binary people may have periods“. (Which reflects their original internal biology, as opposed to the gender they later identify as.)

The BHCC report does not refer to CIS men.

This blogger wrote to Fairfax/Stuff on 5 January, pointing out the article’s gross inaccuracies;

I submit that the headline and story was not factually accurate and severely mis-represented a published report from the United Kingdom. The mis-repesentation was such that it elicited a hostile and angry response from readers.

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Nowhere in the BHCC report does it state that ”all genders can have periods“. This is an incorrect assertion that is not true. The report clearly refers to trans boys, [trans] men, girls, women , and non-binary people.

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The BHCC report does not state anywhere that ”boys can have periods too“. The report clearly states that “trans boys and [trans] men” may have periods.

Trans boys and [trans] men were, at an early stage, biologically female. They subsequently identified as male

Furthermore, I pointed out the intemperate response by readers to the Fairfax/Stuff article;

The lack of factuality to the Stuff story is evidenced by the following Comments Section. Readers have mis-interpreted what the BHCC actually stated based purely on the headlining and the manner in which statements were mis-reported or presented out-of-context. There has been a massive response hostile to the BHCC report based on the Stuff story mis-representing that ” boys can have periods too” and ” all genders can have periods”.

Much of that hostility has been directed at trans-people/LGBTQI, and as such the erroneous nature of the Stuff story may have led to incalculable harm to an already marginalised minority in our community.

Fairfax/Stuff’s Deputy Editor, Keith Lynch, responded three days later. To their credit,  they accepted the poor quality of their “story”;

On reflection, we don’t think this story reached our journalistic standards.
It has been standard for us to refer to trans people as their chosen gender for some time (hence the reference to “boys” rather than “trans boys”).
However in this case, I do take your point and we have updated the story’s intro and headlines and added a clarification to the copy.

True to his word, Keith Lynch revised the story on their website. The heading now read;

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“UK school children to be taught trans boys can have periods too”

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The content was also amended;

New primary school sex education guidelines are being introduced in the United Kingdom to tackle the stigma around menstruation including for trans-gender boys and men. 

Brighton & Hove City Council has released a report advising teachers that “Language and learning about periods is inclusive of all genders, cultures, faiths and sexual orientations” as “trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”.

It recommends teachers use language that reflects “all genders, cultures, faiths and sexual orientations” and calls for transgender students to be given extra support from a school nurse if needed.

The Fairfax/Stuff story also linked to the original Brighton & Hove City Council report (above).

The reference to “all genders” was made more specific to learning about menstruation;

New guidelines in the UK suggest lessons on menstruation “must be inclusive of all genders”.

On 24 January, I wrote to David Farrar,  pointing out that his blogpost and ‘tweet’ were based on an inaccurate media story;

Kia ora David,

Re your blogpost on 3 January headed “”UK kids to be taught men can menstruate””, Fairfax/Stuff has revised their original story upon which you based your piece: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/109414247/uk-school-children-to-be-taught-boys-can-have-periods-too

The Fairfax/Stuff story was revised after it was pointed out that their story contained major factual errors. Deputy Editor, Keith Lynch, confirmed that the story did not meet their usual journalistic standards.

If you take a few minutes to read the revised version (link above), you will see it differs considerably from the original version you (and I) read.

Will you be amending or deleting your 3 January blogpost (and associated ‘tweet’) which now refers to a media story that no longer exists in it’s original form?

In all fairness, I’m advising you that I’m putting together a follow-up blogpost to this story (after an initial piece I wrote on 6 January), and  any comment you offer may be included.

To David Farrar’s credit, he responded in under 24 hours, confirming that he would amend his blogpost – which he has done so;

UPDATE: The original story has been corrected, and was misleading. They now advise:

This story initially quoted the report as stating”menstruation must be inclusive of all genders”. This was incorrect and the article has been updated. The headlines and intros has also been updated to better reflect the content of the report.

So not that much of a story after all it seems.

Frankly speaking, David Farrar owes this blogger nothing and he would have been within his rights to either ignore me or suggest detailed instructions where I could go. That he opted to make the correction – as did Keith Lynch – is in their favour. Kudos to them both.

All that aside, this experience has highlighted how easily widespread mis-information can end up demonising a marginalised, powerless minority in our community. Subsequently, nearly all comments following David Farrar’s blogpost and the Fairfax/Stuff story, were full of derision. Expressions of intolerance were given ‘permission’ to be voiced. There was more “knee-jerking” from reactionary conservatives than from athletes running a ten thousand metre race.

The problem is that none of the commentators who left comments after the Kiwiblog post and Fairfax/Stuff story would return to read the up-dated version, nor David Farrar’s correction.

Such is how mis-information is spread and misconceptions take form. Several hundred (thousands?) of readers may now be spreading the false notion that British “school children [would] be taught boys can have periods“.  Outrage over “political correctness gone mad” can usually be traced back to such mis-information.

It probably does not help matter that Fairfax has eliminated dozens of sub-editing positions within it’s offices, out-sourcing the role to companies such as Pagemaster. Journalists are also expected to sub-edit their own work prior to publication to on-line publications – a policy that invites errors to slip through.

As Karl du Fresne wrote in June 2017,

The casualties of the job cuts have included subeditors, the now virtually extinct class of senior journalists whose job was to keep errors out of the paper and whose absence is reflected in embarrassing mistakes that, with increasing frequency, provide much glee on social media.

Worse still, far-right groups like the so-called “New Conservative” Party will be only too happy to propagate fake information from various internet sources, whether correct or not..

If this lesson has taught us anything, it is a reminder that we should be very careful with our reporting. Whether highly-read bloggers or mainstream media, we have a duty to get it right the first time.

By the time corrections are made to a badly-written story or blogpost, the damage has been done.

Postscript

This blogger is not immune to “writing from the hip” and making a mistake based on an incorrect msm story:

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Prime Minister commits NZ troops to next US-led conflict zone!

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The problem with the above headline is that it wasn’t true. I had written a blogpost sourced from a msm story that had incorrectly attributed comments to John Key that he had never said.

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References

The Daily Blog: David Farrar – fomenting happy mischief at other people’s expense

Twitter: David Farrar – UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Kiwiblog: UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Brighton and Hove City Council: Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities, and Equalities Committee Addendum

Scoop media: Fairfax plans to axe 70 jobs, mainly in Wellington, to outsource subbing to Pagemasters

Stop Press: NZME to take sub-editing in-house, job cuts likely to follow at Pagemasters

Noted: New Zealand papers are in dangerous decline – here’s what’s at stake

Additional

Agender NZ: Transgender Support

Previous related blogposts

Prime Minister commits NZ troops to next US-led conflict zone!

David Farrar – fomenting happy mischief at other people’s expense

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 January 2019.

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David Farrar – fomenting happy mischief at other people’s expense

11 January 2019 1 comment

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A recent ‘tweet’ on social media from right-wing blogger, David Farrar, caught my eye and raised an eye-brow to make a Vulcan proud;

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The ‘tweet’ linked back to a short blogpost on Farrar’s “Kiwiblog“;

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Farrar’s blogpost heading said it all;

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“UK kids to be taught men can menstruate”

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The response from Farrar’s sychophantic fanboi followers was predictably outraged. The “PC gone mad” theme was barked like demented hyenas throughout the commentaries on Farrar’s Twitter post and Kiwiblog.

Unfortunately, only a couple of Farrar’s commentators picked up on one simple fact: the Fairfax/Stuff article – upon which Farrar based his brief blogpost on – was factually incorrect;

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Kudos to those two more-lucid, clear-thinking commentators. (Further on the conversation, the commentator known as Psycho Milt also understood how badly the Fairfax/Stuff story had been written. I stopped checking other comments after Milt’s 3 January  2019 8:24am comment. If anyone else picked up on the bullshit nature of the story, they are in a lofty minority of questioning thinkers.)

The Fairfax/Stuff article was based on a report from Brighton & Hove City Council dated 3 December 2018. The BHCC report  outlined how better support could be offered to students in the Council’s area for sanitary products during menstruation. The Council report outlined measures that could be taken to offer support where needed, remove stigma and shame associated with menstruation, and provide better education on the subject.

This was outlined on page 10 of the report.

Also on page 10 was a section headed;

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Key messages for learning about periods

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The tenth bullet-point made this observation;

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The statement reads “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods“.

It should actually read; “Trans boys and Trans men and non-binary people may have periods“. Or even “Trans boys/men and non-binary people may have periods“. (Which reflects their original internal biology, as opposed to the gender they later identify as.)

The BHCC report does not refer to CIS men.

Which ever way you look at it, the only thing Brighton & Hove City Council are guilty of is a poorly-worded statement. The meaning to anyone who understands biology and transgender issues should be clear enough. The intent of the statement should be obvious to all except the most uninformed.

I do not believe for a moment that David Farrar was too stupid to pick up on the fact that the authors of the Fairfax/Stuff article got it horribly wrong. Yes, “Stuff” stuffed up.

I do, however, believe he wilfully continued to mis-represent the media story, hyping it up with his wildly inflammatory (and wholly inaccurate) blogpost headline.

Even after I pointed out on Twitter that his blogpost was based on a fundamental inaccuracy;

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– both his ‘tweet’ and blogpost remained in-situ, without any correction.

This is lazy and/or dishonest on his part.

One of the roles that bloggers/citizen journalists is to hold the mainstream media to account when they omit facts or are inaccurate in the way facts are presented. In this case, the Fairfax/Stuff reporting was so carelessly written as to make it utterly worthless.

Practically every single comment left on Twitter, Kiwiblog (with three notable exceptions), and the “Stuff” comments-section was hysterically whipped-up and enflammed on the non-existent premise that men could have periods, as ordained by the Brighton Hove City Council. Conservative readers must have been  having coronary attacks at the time!

Farrar did nothing to set the record straight.

Instead he fanned the moral panic/hysteria/ignorance generated by a crappy Fairfax/Stuff story.

It was disappointing. I expected better from someone with his experience in media/blogging.

This is how vulnerable minorities become demonised and de-humanised.

Addendum

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy at gmail dott com>
to: Keith Lynch <keith.lynch@stuff.co.nz>
date: 5 Jan 2019
subject: Complaint

Keith Lynch
Deputy Editor
Stuff.co.nz

Kia ora Mr Lynch,

I am lodging a formal complaint that a story on your website (and in print?) headed “UK school children to be taught boys can have periods too“, published on 18 December 2018.

I submit that the headline and story was not factually accurate and severely mis-represented a published report from the United Kingdom. The mis-repesentation was such that it elicited a hostile and angry response from readers.

Link to story: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/109414247/uk-school-children-to-be-taught-boys-can-have-periods-too

The article’s headline stated that ” boys can have periods too“.

The body of the text also stated;

“Primary school children in the United Kingdom will be taught that all genders can have periods under new sex education guidelines that aim to tackle the stigma around menstruation.”

Nowhere in the BHCC report does it state that ” all genders can have periods“. This is an incorrect assertion that is not true. The report clearly refers to trans boys, [trans] men, girls, women , and non-binary people.

The story quoted from the report commissioned by the Brighton & Hove City Council (UK) which correctly said (on page 10);

“trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”

The BHCC report does not state anywhere that ” boys can have periods too“. The report clearly states that “trans boys and [trans] men” may have periods.

Trans boys and [trans] men were, at an early stage, biologically female. They subsequently identified as male.

The word “trans” should have preceded the word “men” to clarify the point being made in the BHCC report. However, the term “trans” is clearly used preceding the word “boy”. The intent of that sentence “trans boys and men…” should therefore have been clear to the author of that Stuff story.

A photograph of students in a classroom carried the caption;

New guidelines in the UK suggest lessons on menstruation “must be inclusive of all genders”

The reference to “ lessons on menstruation must be inclusive of all genders” is mis-leading in this context, as ” lessons on menstruation” has been linked to the erroneous premise that ” boys can have periods too”.

The lack of factuality to the Stuff story is evidenced by the following Comments Section. Readers have mis-interpreted what the BHCC actually stated based purely on the headlining and the manner in which statements were mis-reported or presented out-of-context. There has been a massive response hostile to the BHCC report based on the Stuff story mis-representing that ” boys can have periods too” and ” all genders can have periods”.

Much of that hostility has been directed at trans-people/LGBTQI, and as such the erroneous nature of the Stuff story may have led to incalculable harm to an already marginalised minority in our community.

I request that Stuff correct this badly written story and to make any such correction with a high degree of publicity.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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References

Twitter: David Farrar – UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Kiwiblog: UK kids to be taught men can menstruate

Fairfax media: UK school children to be taught boys can have periods too

Brighton and Hove City Council: Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities, and Equalities Committee Addendum

Previous related blogposts

How biased is the media? A Patrick Gower case study

When the mainstream media go feral

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

David Farrar – Challenging Slater for Sultan of Sleaze?

David Farrar – A Question for you please?

According to David Farrar, John Key must resign!

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar

When Stupid meets Hypocrisy, the result is David Farrar – *Update*

Once Upon a Time in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land…

The Neverending Story in Mainstream Media Fairytale Land

Worse than “fake news” – sloppy news!

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part tahi)

Syria: the mendacities of the mainstream media (part rua)

Ali Jones rips right wing blogger a “new one” on Radio NZ’s “The Panel”

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 January 2019.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial Gathering

21 November 2012 6 comments

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Wellington, 20 November – Agender NZ held a public Day of Remembrance Memorial Gathering for transgendered people who have  been victimised, harmed, or killed  because of violence against people of different gender identities or presentations.

The Memorial Gathering was opened just after 7pm, by AgenderNZ Organisor and President, Claudia, who welcomed the 50+ people who turned up,

“… We felt it was a really, really important thing  to acknowledge those of us that, basically, had our lives stolen from us.”

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Candles were lit – each one representing a known or unknown person of different gender identities, who has been killed.

Claudia explained,

The event itself started in San Francisco in 1999, and is now held in many places around the world.”

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The gathering listened to Claudia and other speakers, who voiced their feelings on the loss of life around the world, and the harassment that many still experience.

Claudia said,

I want to acknowledge the courage of the people who have had their lives taken in this awful manner… there’s something about those people that their killers will never have. These people had either found their true selves or were on their way to finding their true selves. I truly doubt  that those that took their lives will ever comprehend  that, or have any real understanding of their own true self. If they did they would be very ashamed of themselves...”

Claudia said that whilst “transpeople in New Zealand generally do not fear for their lives… I can recall somebody that I knew, not very far from here, in Upper Hutt, two years ago, Dixie Jones, was brutally beaten to death. So we are not immune…“.

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Claudia then introduced Brazilian-born, Dayna, to read out a list of 40 transgendered people, from many parts of the world, who had been killed. Dayna revealed that she was in pain at having to read out a roll call of so many victims, but regardless,  spoke with a quiet passion and  dignity, reciting nearly 40  names, along with their ages, and their country.

Many were young people, in their teens. The youngest was 16.

Dayna started with Charmine Rosa, 25 years old…

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As Dayna read out the names, the secretary of AgenderNZ – Denise – knelt, and blew out a candle. The snuffing of each candle symbolised the senseless snuffing of a human life.

At the same time, Claudia rang the bell – once – for each victim,

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At the end of Dayna’s  roll call, Claudia added,

“… the last time I did one of these was in 2007. The list was seventeen names. It’s not a good look that it’s now up to thirtynine. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Claudia then invited people from the gathering to come up to the microphone and express their thoughts and feelings.

First up, Kay spoke on behalf of two people, Ashley and Julianne Kramer – the latter having been killed on 8 November, in a helicopter crash in the South Island.

Kay spoke of the double tragedy regarding Julianne’s circumstances; her death; and the fact that her family wanted her described as a male and previous name, “Julian”,

I’m just going to mention another friend, whose life was taken from her. Not because of the manner of her death recently, but Julianne, when she died in a helicopter accident, her family  couldn’t bear to live with her as Julianne and so they got the newspaper to use her earlier name, and to take back the life that she had built  for herself, take it from her in her death.

So I wanted to remember the life that Julianne had made for herself, not the life that her family had tried to push upon her.”

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Remy told us of three young people who – under pressure from constant bullying –  had over the last year either attempted or eventually committed suicide. Their ages ranged from 17, 19, and 21.

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Alexandria (tall woman with a cap on), led a group to the microphone.

She  lit two bright pink candles – one for Ashley, had been a former flatmate and, one for Andre.

Alexandria spoke warmly of Ashley, her vibrance, her love of pink, and how she tried to cope with systemic rejection but how it was too much for her. She said that Ashley had died because of disrespect by authorities and the hospital. Alexandria was accompanied by friends who knew Ashley.

Alexandria also spoke about her late partner, Andre, who died from health complaints and who had also encountered the negative pressures from authorities. (Acknowledgement, Kay, for further details.)

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And others who had the courage and/or need to say something,

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Claudia with Green MP, Mojo Mathers, who attended the gathering in a supportive capacity,

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Claudia thanked everyone for turning up to the gathering and being part of the Memorial.

As Dayna said,

We all bleed the same blood, it’s the same colour and it’s unfair of people to attack us…

… we’re all human at the end of the day and we all cry the same salty-tasted tears and we all bleed. This is my gender, this is what I am.”

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Related links

AgenderNZ

Additional

Agender urges respect for killed trans pilot’s identity

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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