Tag: Nonbinary

Non-binary teenager burned and abused in Muslim conversion therapy

muslim conversion therapy singapore

The teenager was forced to endure repeated exorcisms by religious leaders. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty)

A non-binary, pansexual teenager has described how they were burned, psychologically abused and told being gay was worse that rape during conversion therapy enforced by their Muslim parents.

Iani’s story is one in a series on conversion therapy in Singapore being released by queer brand Heckin’ Unicorn.

While religious conversion therapy is often thought of and reported on as a Christian practice, the Singapore teenager’s experience shines a light on the similar experiences of queer Muslims.

Throughout their childhood Iani had a close relationship with their parents, but that all changed when they were outed as queer.

Iani’s extended family began organising for them to go through conversion therapy, and one day their uncle, an Ustaz [male Islamic religious teacher], came to their house.

Their uncle began calling out and trying to commune with an “evil spirit”, but it soon became clear that the “spirit” he was speaking to was Iani. After asked them a series of questions he declared that they were “possessed”.

The evil spirit, or jinn, needed to be expelled from their body in order for Iani to become “normal”, he said.

While the bizarre session was difficult and upsetting, Iani was not prepared for what would come. Their uncle returned a week later to perform an exorcism, or ruqyah.

He forced Iani to recite verses from the Qur’an, while whipping them with a cane. Their body was draped with a blanket before the whipping, to ensure there would be no visible marks. Then, making Iani get on the ground, the uncle held a lighter under their feet, burning the teenager to “cast the jinn away” while they screamed in pain.

Iani’s parents continued to arrange exorcisms, and their mental health deteriorated. Reaching the point of a breakdown, their parents invited an Ustaz to restrain and “treat” them with another exorcism, instead of seeking professional help.

One day, their father forced them to watch a documentary on the story of Lut, often quoted by Muslims to insist that being LGBT+ is wrong. The teenager, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, told their father that the story also warned against rape.

Their father said: “Rape is everywhere, but being gay isn’t. That’s why being gay will always be the biggest sin.”

Eventually, Iani fell into a mental health crisis and was hospitalised at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for emergency treatment of a psychotic breakdown.

Now older, Iani is unsurprisingly still non-binary and still pansexual, yet they are forced to live with the mental health repercussions of the abuse they suffered every day.

While conversion therapy in Islam is not so well-known, its core ideas are almost identical to Christian conversion therapy; that being LGBT+ is unnatural and wrong, and that sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed through religious practices.

Heckin’ Unicorn is sharing stories of conversion therapy in Singapore because there, like in the UK, the horrific practice is still perfectly legal.

The company is calling for a full ban on the practice and advertising of conversion therapy in Singapore.

 

 

Imagination and Community in Two New Picture Books with Nonbinary and Gender Creative Characters

Imagination and Community in Two New Picture Books with Nonbinary

Two new picture books show us nonbinary and gender creative kids having imaginative adventures in their fun, welcoming, queer, and sometimes magical communities.

Imagination and Community in Two New Picture Books with Nonbinary and Gender Creative Characters Creative fun! Posted on October 26, 2020 Two new picture books show us nonbinary and gender creative kids having adventures in their fun, welcoming, queer and sometimes magical communities. Hooray, What a Day - A More Graceful Shaboom A More Graceful Shaboom - Jacinta Bunnell

A More Graceful Shaboom, written by Jacinta Bunnell and illustrated by Crystal Vielula (PM Press), is a surreal romp of a book that follows Harmon Jitney, a nonbinary child with “an extravagant collection of belongings” that they find hard to keep organized. They decide a purse is the answer, but their two mothers and sister are too busy with their own projects to help. Mama Millie Mapletush, for example, is “building an XJ-6350 Millennium Bipedal Astro Welding Robot from scratch,” whose components include a dishwasher and a movie theater popcorn machine.

Finally, a gender creative neighbor says he has a collection of purses, though he can’t quite remember where he put them. He and Harmon look behind a series of doors that reveal things as varied as a giant Muffin Monster, polar ice caps, and 66,500 Brussels sprouts. Ultimately, they find the purses. Harmon selects the purse of their dreams and proceeds to collect all of their treasured things into it, from belongings to friends, town, and, well, the entire universe. The magical ending is a celebration of community and love.

There’s an inspired silliness about the whole tale. It’s unclear exactly what age group the book is targeting, though, as the wordiness and level of vocabulary seem geared far above the usual picture-book range. Not that I’m against books that stretch young readers in this regard; adults should just be aware that they may need to do some explaining as they read through the book with kids, as least the first few times. What I appreciate most about it, though, is that the book isn’t “about” gender or identity, but rather about gender diverse characters simply having joyous adventures. We need more books like this.

Hooray, What a Day - Molly Allis

Another new book that takes a similar joyous approach is Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! by Molly Allis, available through Allis’ website. The bilingual book is an extension of All Together Now, an animated kids’ show that Allis is creating. The show stars a child named Frankie, described as gender non-conforming in the show notes, who uses “they” pronouns and lives with their grandma. Frankie’s best friend is Jesse, who lives with his two dads and uses male pronouns, but likes to wear skirts, jewelry, and sometimes makeup. The book takes us on a day-long adventure as the two friends explore their queer and colorful community. They go to a parade, visit the community garden, stop at the cafe owned by one of Jesse’s dads, and make zines at the local bookstore.

Queerness is everywhere—Grandma makes rainbow pancakes and has Indigo Girls and ACT UP posters in her kitchen; we see rainbow and trans flags in the community; and several characters at the parade are clearly gender creative. More general progressive messages are also strewn throughout: one character wears a “Black Lives Matter” shirt; the parade marchers carry signs saying, “Otro Mundo Es Posible,” and “Be the Change.” At the end of the day, after storytime with Grandma, Frankie reflects on how happy they are to have spent the day in their community with friends and chosen family.

Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! doesn’t have the fantastical tone of A More Graceful Shaboom, but Allis’ multi-colored people and richly detailed backgrounds are equally imaginative and fun. Potential readers should know, though, that while queerness abounds in the community, Frankie and Jesse’s identities aren’t clear from the book alone, but only from the show notes on Allis’ website. We don’t learn that Frankie uses “they”; we might assume from the illustrations that Jesse is a cisgender, gender conforming girl; we meet one of Jesse’s dads, but never know he has two. It’s true that the story isn’t “about” Frankie and Jesse’s gender or family structure, and as I’ve explained, we need more stories like that. But is the lack of clarity about their identities a missed opportunity for queer representation or a chance for readers to assume identities for them that the readers can relate to, no matter what the author intended? I leave that to your interpretation. (Now that you’ve read this post, of course, you can inform young readers of the author’s intended identities for the characters as you see fit.)

Regardless, the community that Allis depicts is clearly full of other, if minor, characters who are more obviously queer, and it’s packed full of queer iconography. Frankie and Jesse are at ease with it all, so even if their identities are here unknown, this remains an empowering, queer-inclusive book that will brighten any bookshelf. Let’s hope there are more books (along with the still-pending show) about the diverse people of this cheery and inclusive world.


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Body dysmorphia helped me realise I’m non-binary

Body dysmorphia helped me realise I'm non-binary

Sam Smith at Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2019 in December. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Sam Smith has said that their body dysmorphia helped them realise that they are non-binary, describing themselves as something of a “shape-shifter”.

The British singer told the Sunday Times that learning to love their body played a large part in their journey to coming to terms with their gender identity.

“For me, what triggered everything was the work I was doing with my body issues,” the 28-year-old said.

“I always had body dysmorphia. As I started to address that, I started to address my gender and realised that I was holding myself to these ideals of how a man should look.”

“As I looked into it, I did therapy, I realised there was more to it.

“I have girl’s thighs and I have girl breasts too. It started to awaken this conversation that had always been in the back of my mind.”

Sam Smith says they have ‘always’ been non-binary. 

Smith described their body as “fluctuating”, explaining that they lost 50 pounds after seeing a nutritionist.

“I can lose weight, I can put weight on quickly, I am a shape-shifter,” they joked.

More than a year on since they came out publicly as non-binary and clarifying that their pronouns are they/them, Smith admitted even they get their own pronouns wrong from time to time.

“I mess up, my mum messes up – my family messes up,” they explained. Smith said they don’t get offended when people stumble, adding: “When people correct themselves it is a wonderful feeling because people try.”

“Yes, I have always been non-binary,” Smith reflected.

“I have always felt the way I’ve felt, and just hearing other non-binary stories made me suddenly feel seen.

“This is a way that I can live, where if I tell people this is how I feel and this is how I like to be treated, life is easier.”

Discovery’ adds the first trans and non-binary characters to ‘Trek’ canon / Queerty

Discovery’ adds the first trans and non-binary characters to ‘Trek’

Blu del Barrio & Ian Alexander

Continuing to boldly go where the franchise has never gone before, CBS All Acess has announced Star Trek: Discovery will add the first transgender and non-binary characters to the sci-fi stalwart.

ET reports that Ian Alexander, of The OA fame, will join the cast of Season 3 as Gray, a would-be Trill host. In the Star Trek universe, the Trill are a symbiotic species, always living in pairs. The humanoid form (played by Alexander) is the host for another, far older, form of alien life. The pair share memories and personality traits when united.

Related: Michael Chabon is afraid he didn’t make ‘Star Trek: Picard’ obviously gay enough. Really.

Blu del Barrio will play the role of Adria, a hyper-intelligent non-binary teenager. Adria joins the crew of the Discovery after bonding with the ship’s resident gay couple, Hugh and Paul (played by Wilson Cruz & Anthony Rapp, respectively). Hugh and Paul already made history as the first on-screen gay couple in Star Trek canon.  For del Barrio, Star Trek: Discovery will mark their acting debut.

Cruz shared his joy over the announcement, tweeting: “I couldn’t be more excited for or PROUD of these TWO new loves of my life if I tried. We are family! #lgbtq #representationmatters Love you so much!”

For CBS All Access, the addition of Alexander and del Barrio represents a pivotal moment not just for Star Trek, but for the streaming network as a whole. As such, the writers have consulted with Nick Adams, Director of Transgender Representation for GLAAD to create characters both compelling and authentic.

Star Trek has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities because it believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach,” co-showrunner Michelle Paradise said in a statement. “We take pride in working closely with Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander and Nick Adams at GLAAD to create the extraordinary characters of Adira and Gray, and bring their stories to life with empathy, understanding, empowerment and joy.”

Star Trek: Discovery returns for Season 3 on October 15.

 

Sara Ramirez Is Non-Binary: Icon Instagrams Capacity to Be “Girlish Boy, Boyish Girl, Boyish Boy, All, Neither”

Sara Ramirez Is Non-Binary: Icon Instagrams Capacity to Be "Girlish

This morning the incredibly talented multi-hyphenate actor, singer bisexual icon and advocate Sara Ramirez announced a new profile picture on their Twitter and Instagram.

With the Instagram photo — a selfie of the star with their signature haircut, a purple shirt, and classic small square earring — came the following caption:

“In me is the capacity to be
Girlish boy
Boyish girl
Boyish boy
Girlish girl
All
Neither
#nonbinary
♥️💜♥️”

Ramirez quietly updated their pronouns to she/they on Twitter and Instagram a while back (though we don’t have calendar days in front of us, as a Autostraddle’s resident Sara Ramirez “celebrity expert” my guestimation is pretty close to a year now). They’ve also updated their bio to include “non-binary human” right at the top. But this is the first major post since then — that we can remember — to address their gender directly.

Of course, at this point, in our community, the legend of Sara Ramirez enters the door before they do. First there’s the Tony Award for playing Lady of the Lake in 2005’s Spamalot. Then, for a lot us, there’s Callie Torres who stole our heart on Grey’s Anatomy, clocking in more than 240 episodes and becoming the longest running queer character in television history. After leaving Grey’s in 2016, Ramirez came out as came out as bisexual in a speech that I’ve personally memorized, saying that they were committed to embracing all of their intersections as an multiracial, immigrant, queer person of color. And of course there’s the butch dreamboat Kat Sandoval on who basically stopped time itself with a quirk of an eyebrow on Madam Secretary.  Since publicly coming out as bisexual, Sara has been nothing short of a show-stopper — working closely Latinx, immigrant, people of color, queer and trans communities, activists, and artists. Using their platform at every turn to uplift those most marginalized and the voices that we need to hear from most.

I’ve told this story before, but when Callie Torres first entered my life, I was still telling myself that I was straight. The last ten years have been a journey; for myself, for the character, and for the actor who played her.

I could have never guessed in 2006, sitting cross legged on my dorm room, stuffing my face with popcorn, that one day I would be an out queer woman, let alone the Deputy Editor of this publication (ha!). I couldn’t have known that the character screen who already captured my attention would soon become the mirror through I gained the courage to come out. I could have never imagined that the actor who played her would also come out and then show the fuck out, giving back to our community so generously and willingly.

In every moment and in every way, Sara Ramirez has proven to be loving to their community, never afraid of speaking up, never afraid to a beacon. Being courageous and grappling publicly with the hard questions of social justice and privilege and how to best create change. And today, we’re stopping for a moment to say, Thank You.

When Sara Ramirez first came out as bisexual, they made me feel a little less alone in this world. It helped light a path that brought me to this website. And today, less than five days away from their 45th birthday, I know they are lighting that path for so many more.

So on behalf of everyone at Autostraddle:

Dear Sara,
We’re so happy you’re living more authentically every year! (and also hotter every year, too!) We love you today, tomorrow and always.

— Team AS

New Study Looks at Experience of Pregnancy Loss Among Trans/Masculine and Nonbinary People

New Study Looks at Experience of Pregnancy Loss Among Trans/Masculine

A new, peer-reviewed study looks at the experiences of trans/masculine and nonbinary people who were gestating but experienced pregnancy loss.

Flower on Gray

Men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people’s experiences of pregnancy loss: an international qualitative study,” by Damien W. Riggs, Ruth Pearce, Carla A. Pfeffer, Sally Hines, Francis Ray White, and Elisabetta Ruspini, was published Monday in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, and is the first empirical paper to come out of the broader Leeds University project, “Trans Pregnancy: An International Exploration of Transmasculine Practices and Experiences of Reproduction,” according to a tweet by Riggs. Although growing numbers of men, trans/masculine, and nonbinary people are becoming gestational parents, the researchers say, “very little is known about experiences of pregnancy loss among this diverse population.”

For their study, the researchers recruited a convenience sample of 16 participants, ages 23 to 49, who had experienced a pregnancy loss. Six of the participants had experienced more than one; 15 had experienced a live birth either prior to or following a pregnancy loss. The researchers then conducted interviews averaging 100 minutes, asking a general question about experiences of undertaking a pregnancy and specific follow-up questions about pregnancy loss.

While the experiences of the participants bore some similarities to those of cisgender men and women who had experienced pregnancy loss, there were also some points of difference, the study found, including “the importance of inclusive healthcare (i.e., asking about pronouns, refusing to accept misgendering within healthcare systems), the specific meanings that trans/masculine and non-binary people may bring to the experience of pregnancy loss (i.e., in regards to concerns about testosterone and pregnancy), and the ways in which marginalisation may negatively impact on available support (i.e., in terms of unsupportive family members).”

Another distinctive finding was that participants “spoke about pregnancy loss as distressing, but also as a sign that their bodies were working.” While some participants had been concerned that previous hormone prescriptions might have meant they would not be able to conceive, these concerns “were to a degree allayed by eventually becoming pregnant, even if for some it ended in a pregnancy loss.” Therefore, the researchers suggest:

Clinicians will best meet the needs of trans/masculine and non-binary people who have experienced a pregnancy loss by focusing on the emotions attached both to the loss and to the possible desire to attempt another pregnancy, rather than focusing on pregnancy loss as a means to infer that trans/masculine, non-binary and men’s bodies should not be pregnant.

To many of us who know trans/masculine and nonbinary people who have been pregnant, that may seem obvious—but as with much of the research about LGBTQ parents and youth, sometimes it’s useful to have research to support the obvious. It can help guide clinical practice, among other things. The researchers advise, for example, that hospital staff and those providing grief counselling for pregnancy loss should receive training specific to this population:

This should include a focus on the importance of asking about pronouns, advocating for system change in terms of ensuring that names, pronouns and gender can be correctly recorded, and ensuring that medical experiences following a pregnancy loss do not further compound the potential grief experienced by men, trans/masculine, and non-binary people and their partners.

This paper feels like a good step towards helping people of all genders get the reproductive care that they need. The full paper is available free online.

Bonus note: Cited in the paper is Christa Craven’s Reproductive Losses: Challenges to LGBTQ Family-Making (Routledge, 2019), which takes a wider look at gestational or adoption loss across the LGBTQ spectrum. I reviewed it here.


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Found a neat little explainer on nonbinary lesbians by a nonbinary lesbian : butchlesbians

Found a neat little explainer on nonbinary lesbians by a

That made sense to me when I read it, but thinking about it, I have second thoughts.

Basically, they divided nb into man-aligned, woman-aligned, and unaligned, and excluded man-aligned from either being nb lesbians or being attractive to nb lesbians.

The quote is saying nb lesbians are woman-aligned or unaligned enbies who are attracted to women, women-aligned enbies and unaligned enbies, BUT NOT to man-aligned enbies.

However, I was under the impression that some enbies like androgyne were aligned to BOTH man & woman, and I’m sure some bi-gender people are, so how would they fit in?

Also, I just talked to a butch lesbian who was a demi-boy. And I don’t think they considered themselves man-aligned, but I’m sure some demi-boys do, because demi-genders encompass a broad range of connectedness to the binary. But I don’t know how you could being attracted to man-aligned genders with genders where some members are man-aligned and others are not. It’s not necessarily something you recognize on sight.

New Music Album Celebrates Trans and Nonbinary Children and Youth

New Music Album Celebrates Trans and Nonbinary Children and Youth

A new multi-artist, multi-genre music album coming out this month will offer transgender and nonbinary children and youth songs that reflect and support who they are. It’s the brainchild of Julie Lipson, one half of children’s music duo Ants on a Log, who spoke with me recently about the project and shared this sneak peek of the cover art.

Detail from cover of "Trans and Nonbinary Kids Mix." Art by Wriply M. Bennet

Detail from cover of “Trans and Nonbinary Kids Mix.” Art by Wriply M. Bennet.

Lipson, who is also a co-founder of Camp Aranu’tiq, a summer camp for transgender and nonbinary children and youth, told me, “I have always been astounded by the role that music plays” for the campers. “Gender overlaps so much with music and the voice.”

This summer, however, the camp had to cancel in-person sessions because of COVID-19. “This just seemed like the moment where kids need this music,” they said. “We needed some way to keep everybody connected.”

Lipson, who is nonbinary themselves, reached out to their networks in both the children’s music and the transgender and nonbinary music world, and the response was “amazing.” The result, the Trans and Nonbinary Kids Mix album, will contain 20 songs from musicians representing hip-hop, pop, folk, country, and other genres. While some of the songs have appeared on other albums, several are new for this one—and it’s empowering to see them all brought together in one place.

About two-thirds of the musicians are transgender or nonbinary; the rest are allies, some of whom have trans or nonbinary friends or family members. About half are people of color.

I wanted to be a part of this project because trans and nonbinary folks deserve to be at the center of stories, songs, narratives.

The project is personal for many of them. Be Steadwell, a self-described “a black queer artist storyteller witch,” said, “I never saw much of myself in the music I listened to. I never heard my story. I wanted to be a part of this project because trans and nonbinary folks deserve to be at the center of stories, songs, narratives. We deserve to see ourselves in art. To feel affirmed rather than ignored by the music we listen to.”

Storm Miguel Florez, a “trans queer, Xicanx filmmaker and musician,” wanted to participate because “As a teen in the 80s, music saved my life. I was especially lucky to have access to music by older LGBTQ people. It meant everything to know there were older queer people making art and getting to live full and interesting lives. I’m excited for an opportunity to be a part of that for younger people now.”

And Grammy-nominated Alastair Moock, a “cis, white, hetero male,” shared, “I have long worked to be an active and vocal straight ally. That commitment only deepened when one of my twins came out as gay and then non-binary.”

Some of the trans and nonbinary musicians don’t write “kids’ music” per se, but Lipson hopes their contributed songs nevertheless speak to kids. One example is “Weaknees,” by transgender singer and writer Vivek Shraya. “It’s just such a great message: ‘I want to know everything about you, I think you’re so cool,’” Lipson paraphrased. And Lipson also wants kids to think of these musicians and say, “Oh, that’s a role model.”

Every kid of every age is going to interpret these songs differently.

With this broad approach, Lipson hopes that “Five-year-olds and 15-year-olds could listen to this mix and find that they like most of the songs.” Some “are definitely for little children,” but with others, “a five-year-old might like the beat but have no idea what the lyrics mean.” Lipson added, “Every kid of every age is going to interpret these songs differently.” That’s part of the album’s appeal.

The nonbinary musician Totally Knuts’ contribution, “The Trans Wizard’s Song” comes from the genre of “Wizard Rock,” inspired by the world of Harry Potter. Lipson notes that the song was written before author J.K. Rowling’s recent anti-trans statements, but it is (appropriately) a “critique song” about being trans and nonbinary at Hogwarts (Harry’s wizard school) that looks at some of the problems underlying the wizards’ world.

Other musicians on the album include two-time Grammy Award-winner Cathy Fink; Grammy nominees the Alphabet Rockers; Beppie; Be Steadwell; Chana Rothman; Emily Joy; Jennifer Angelina Petro; the Okee Dokee Brothers; Queer Kid Stuff; Ryan Cassata; Shawnee; Star Amerasu; and Two of a Kind.

Notably, the album will be free to all, to make it accessible to “any trans or nonbinary kid who’s sitting at home alone and isolated,” Lipson said. “I did not want cost to get in the way of that.” People are welcome to make donations, however, all of which will go to Camp Aranu’tiq, which is offering free virtual sessions this year but has lost the income from its in-person camps.

Separately, Lipson is also fundraising to provide many of the musicians—all of whom donated their songs—with stipends. Many musicians and artists are unemployed right now because of the pandemic—and the Black Lives Matter movement has reminded Lipson of the importance of supporting musicians of color.

“I’m pretty privileged. I’m a White person who’s doing okay,” they asserted. But they know that not everyone is. “We need to dream into existence the world that we actually want, which is that anybody who doesn’t have the resources that I have can rely on society valuing artists.”

You can contribute here to the fund for the musicians. Lipson will divide the money among them, although they’ve asked that those “who do not identify in a marginalized community or identity give that money back into the pot.” Some will also be used to pay Wriply M. Bennet, the Black trans woman who created the cover art.

The album itself will be available from antsonalog.bandcamp.com later in July. (Right now, that page shows only the Ants’ album You Could Draw the Album Art!, which is great, but isn’t the Trans and Nonbinary Kids’ Mix.) Follow Ants on a Log on Facebook or Instagram for the latest updates.