If you are subscribed to this Blog you will have noticed a lack of activity here over the past couple of months - the reason for this is that I have been hard at work on a new web project. One of my New Year Resolutions is to cut down the number of ...

 

Rikki Arundel's Blog - 5 new articles




New Gender Speaker Website and Blog

If you are subscribed to this Blog you will have noticed a lack of activity here over the past couple of months - the reason for this is that I have been hard at work on a new web project.

One of my New Year Resolutions is to cut down the number of different sites I have and so I have decided to switch everything gender into a new WordPress site at www.GenderSpeaker.com.  This will enable me to merge all my blog and web site content  into one, re develop the directory I used to have and make it all easier to manage.

This also means that I need to merge all the subscriber lists to the new mail service which I will be hosting myself instead of outsourcing to Feedblitz. As a result you will receive a new newsletter with the latest post to my new blog later this week.  If you do not wish to remain on this mailing list - then please click on the unsubscribe link on the newsletter and you will be removed immediately.

If you are happy to remain on the mailing list - I will be posting regularly, particularly over the next two months to celebrate LGBT History in February and Women's History in March.  In addition to this I am working quickly to update and improve all the static content  -

Please do visit the new site to see this at:



              
 
 

Leo's Tip's for Anti Bullying Week

This week is Anti Bullying week and as far as I am aware for the first time CBBC has broadcast a documentary on the life struggles of a young trans boy called Leo.  Written by Leo this is an excellent insight into the life of a young trans person. His mother has always been hugely supportive of him despite having to "lose her daughter". 

I was really impressed with this documentary.  Leo is confident and full of life. It is clear from what he says that he has had to face considerable pressure from people and the media for simply being himself.  I hope that there is a way for this documentary to be seen widely by everyone, but especially other trans children and their parents and by schools, especially those like Leo's primary school who simply did not get what was going on and were therefore unable to provide the support needed, until Press for Change intervened.

Leo has also produced a short video outlining his 7 anti bullying tips.   This programme is part one in the new 8 part series My Life exploring the various life challenges faced by young people.

Gender is the second highest cause of bullying behind body shape and gender non conformity is the primary problem. Any child who does not conform to the huge societal pressure to be clearly male of female is liable to extreme bullying.  Sadly the attitude of many parents and staff to this is to add pressure on children to conform as a solution to stop the bullying.

Fortunately since 2010 when the Equality Act came into force there has been a steadily growing acceptance of the fact that some children are born with gender dysphoria and that they need support to cope with this condition. Last Month year Jazz Jennings, a 14 year old trans girl, published a book co authored with Jessica Herthel telling her story. This is one of the first books aimed specifically at educating young children and their parents about trans issues.
Amazon UK information

Click on the image to the right for more details on Amazon UK.

For the US Amazon site click here

If you have any influence on schools then please let them know about this book and encourage them to use it to help children understand what transgender is all about. There is lots more helpful information at Schools Out and Welcoming Schools 



The soaps have included trans characters from time to time although the prize for addressing the issues faced by young trans people must go to Hollyoaks who have had two significant trans stories over the past 5 years.

The first character was Jason Costello, a young trans man (female to male trans person) played by actress Victoria Atkins from August 2010. The character left in December 2011 to emigrate to America and start a new life as Jason where people would not be aware of his past. This story addressed the challenge of a young trans person coming out as trans to parents and friends, the complications that brings about in relationships and the inevitable bullying.

The second storyline is about to finish this week with the departure of Trans woman Blessing Chambers played by actress Modupe Adeyeye.  Introduced in February this year - she finally came out as trans in May  a young trans woman. On 21st November the character is leaving as a result of complications in her relationship with Dennis Savage played by actor Joe Tracini.  Perhaps next time they will try to find an trans actor to play the role.

If you have time I strongly recommend that you watch "I am Leo" which is on CBBC iPlayer for at least the next week and spread the word so that we can use this years Anti Bullying Week to start to make a real difference in stopping the gender based bullying that is currently responsible for almost a third or trans people attempting suicide. 



              
 
 

Top 40 radio DJ comes out as Stephanie

I got an call this morning from James Piekos at Radio Humberside this morning asking me to have a chat on the radio about the weekend announcement by DJ Simon Hirst that he will be changing gender today and will now be known as Stephanie. The show will be available on Iplayer for the next week - My interview was at just before 10.am on 13-10-2014

If you have not heard the interview with Stephanie by Steven Nolan on Radio 5 Live,  I certainly recommend it. It is rare that someone as high profile comes out so publicly, and I was really pleased to hear just how open she has decided to be about her life experiences that have led her to this very brave decision  this weekend.

What is sad is that she felt the need to have to quit her job as a top radio presenter first and hopefully radio stations having seen the overwhelming support she has received on Twitter and Facebook this weekend will be doing their best to get her back on the radio.

However I can really understand why Stephanie felt the need to retreat to the safety of personal space before making this decision public. I remember just how much fear I felt when I did the same nearly 15 years.ago.  As a top professional speaker I knew that there was no way to come out quietly and I had seen the way the media had treated trans people in the past.

In addition to delivering Transgender Awareness Training I also coach public speaking skills which many people see as their greatest fear in life. However in my experience its not speaking that we fear - it is the humiliation or embarrassment when we get it wrong that is the real fear.  I am convinced that the greatest fear for all for humans is ridicule - humiliation, embarrassment, loss of face, making a fool of ourselves - or however you want to describe it.

This fear of ridicule is so great that people often choose to kill or attempt to kill themselves rather than suffer. Between 30% and 40% of trans people attempt suicide, especially when young, because that is easier than risking coming out. I once refused to stop for the police when I was cross dressed, because I felt it would be better to be arrested later for failing to stop than risk the humiliation of being discovered dressed as a woman.

So I will repeat the advice I gave this morning on Radio Humberside, and this is not just about coming out as trans or gay - it is about having the courage to be yourself.  Find a few people who you really trust and come out to them first - get a support structure in place and then come out.  It is far better to come out than to have to face being outed and you will be surprised at how much support you receive.

And for the people who don't or can't accept who you really are - well they are not really the friends you thought they were. I am not saying that this is going to be easy - but you will be amazed to discover that being the "real you" is a much better life than constantly hiding and living in fear of discovery.


              
 
 

LGBT History Month - The Buggery Act 1533


I have read a lot of the history of persecution of LGBT people and one thing seems clear. Apart from a few isolated cases or periods of persecution, same sex relationships were not just tolerated, but seem to have been largely accepted as normal until the reign of Henry VIII.

Even the Bible overall is not overtly opposed to homosexuality.  The few negative biblical references are vague at best, and in most instances the subject of fierce debate and largely a matter of interpretation.  And there are even strongly help views that some key biblical relationships such as those of David and Jonathan and Jesus and John appear to have been far more than simply male friendships. 

The persecution of homosexuality in the UK appears to have begun in 1533 when Thomas Cromwell piloted through parliament the Buggery Act which made the act of anal penetration of a man or a woman (buggery) or any intercourse with an animal (bestiality) and offense punishable by hanging.  However as you will see, there is no evidence that this act was passed because of any real social issue with homosexuality or sodomy, rather it was a political weapon in Henry VIII’s battle with the Catholic Church.


...the offenders being hereof convicted by verdict confession or outlawry shall suffer such pains of death and losses and penalties of their good chattels debts lands tenements and hereditaments as felons do according to the Common Laws of this Realm. And that no person offending in any such offence shall be admitted to his Clergy .
The penalties made this one of the most severe punishments in law and more importantly it was one of the few crimes for which a priest or monk could be put to death, and this is an important when we try to understand why Henry VIII put this law in place. 

Initially this act was for one year. It was reintroduced for another year twice before becoming a permanent law in 1541. However there are only a handful of instances on record of anyone being charged under this act during the next 100 years. 

The first man executed for buggery (and the only execution in Tudor times) was Walter Hungerford, who ironically was executed in 1540 on the same day as his patron Thomas Cromwell, the architect of the act.  Like Cromwell he was charged with treason and heresy suspected of sympathising with the Pilgrimage of Grace who opposed the break with the Catholic Church. The buggery charge was added, probably to enable the state to seize his assets as he had been three times married and had three children.

Nicholas Udall, cleric and headmaster of Eton College, was charged under the Buggery Act in 1541 for sexually abusing pupils in his charge which he admitted.  However with the aid of members of Thomas Cromwell’s household, his sentence was commuted to imprisonment and he only served one year.  He did not return to Eton, however he did return to teaching in 1554 as headmaster of Westminster School.

So if there is no evidence of a serious social or political issue with buggery before this act and few people charged after it was enacted, it begs the question WHY was it enacted in the first place?

The clue to that is in the date.  In 1533 Henry VIII had a problem. For a number of years Henry had been trying to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled on the grounds that she had consummated her previous marriage to Henry’s older brother Arthur before he died.  Catherine denied this and partly because her nephew, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, was able to exert considerable influence on the Pope, all Henry’s petitions had failed.   

Catherine had been barred from court and Henry had secretly married Anne Boleyn who was now pregnant with his child although in the eyes of the Catholic Church, Henry was still married to Catherine.  If the child was born out of wedlock it would be barred from succession. The solution was to separate the Church of Englandfrom Rome with Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church. Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter Elizabeth in September 1533.

So what did the Buggery Act have to do with this? 

The separation from Rome was not unopposed and Henry’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell was tasked with bringing about the Reformation and Dissolution of the Monasteries .  He set about introducing a ruthless programme of legislation to establish Henry’s supremacy over the Pope in religious matters. The primary opposition to this came from the monasteries.  In all the Catholic Church was very powerful, owning around a third of Britain. Furthermore clerics were almost immune from prosecution. 

Two hundred years previously Philip V of France had used sodomy laws in France to torture and execute the Knights Templar and confiscate all their assets.  With Cromwell’s programme of legislation including the Buggery Act, Henry was able suppress opposition from those who did not accept him as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.  The Buggery Act in particular gave him power to execute any cleric who confessed to buggery and to seize their assets.  There are no official records of the use of the Buggery Act against clerics, but there is evidence that Cromwell investigated religious orders and found evidence of sexual impropriety which would have provided sufficient grounds to “extract confessions”.  Many monks were executed at this time.  

So it will not be of any surprise to discover that in 1553 when Mary I, daughter of Catherine of Aragon ascended to the throne she immediately repealed the Buggery Act and began the process of crushing the protestant church,  gaining the popular title of Bloody Mary in the process.  However despite numerous attempts she failed to produce an heir to the throne and on her death in 1558 Elizabeth 1 became queen.
The daughter of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth had been raised a protestant.  She set about re-establishing the Church of England as separate from the Church of Rome and in 1563 reinstated the Buggery Act which then remained in force until 1828 when it was replaced by the Offenses Against the Person Act but the crime of buggery or sodomy remained a capital offense until the passing of the Offenses Against the Person Act 1861.  It be another hundred years before homosexuality was partially decriminalised  

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century however the number of prosecutions substantially increased and lesser offenses of attempted buggery were introduced with severe penalties including imprisonment and time in the pillory which I will explore in separate article.

The Buggery Act 1533 was not just significant in the UK. This period marked the start of the British Legal System as we know it and that legal system was the foundation for future legal systems in all the commonwealth counties in Africa, Asia Australia and North America. So to a large extent we have Henry VIII to blame for persecution of LGBT people throughout the world. 


              
 
 

Russian Homophobia - Far worse than we imagined

As a slight deviation from my LGBT History Month Project I had to write about the situation in Russia today.

Last night I watched the Channel 4 documentary Hunted.  I say watched - I actually had to switch off eventually because I found the programme too disturbing. The programme is available on catch up on 4OD but be warned this is a very disturbing documentary as you will see from this short trailer.


 
   
If you have not heard about Hunted, it shows how, as a result of Russia's anti gay laws, gangs of vigilantes are now hunting gay men and subjecting them to humiliation, beatings and torture sometimes resulting severe injury or death. The police provide little or no protection to LGBT people and often add to the harassment. 
The vigilante group shown in the programme is a chapter of 'Occupy Paedophilia' who claim to be targeting paedophiles, yet all their targets are gay men.  Their strategy, called "a safari", is to connect online in gay chat room and dating sites and encourage a gay man to meet them at an apartment.  There the group waits to trap them. torture and humiliate them, and post a video of the event on the internet to "destroy their lives". This is exactly what happened in the documentary and I have to wonder what might have happened to the victim if the incident were not being filmed by journalists. 

Why would they let a journalist film them?  Simple - they have no fear of any repercussions for their acts. They do not try to hide their identities and vigilantes routinely get off even violent attacks with a caution. And it is easy to see why.  Most Russian citizens interviewed think that what they are doing is good and openly a tiny proportion admit to even knowing someone who is gay.  

Then I read an article in Pink News today  headlined  "Russian deputy Prime Minister: Gay athletes should ‘leave the kids alone’  The official line in Russia clearly is that all gay people are paedophiles. Russian President Vladamir Putin had made a similar comment a few weeks ago in arguing that gay athletes at the winter Olympics will be safe.  If I was a gay Olympic athlete, after watching last nights programme, I would be very concerned for my safety.
There is very clear evidence from research connecting homophobia with suppressed homosexuality. Religious organisations have for centuries been at the forefront of anti gay propaganda whilst refusing to address the huge issues of priests sexually abusing young boys.  The Russian Orthodox priest interviewed on Hunted was alarming in his views and I for one would not want to see children anywhere near him.

I know from conversations with counselors dealing with sexual abuse issues that most paedophiles are heterosexual men, often step parents or other members of their victim's family. Most homophobic men on Hunted last night seemed to want to engage in ritual abuse of their victims which, as we saw, often had an uncomfortably sexual slant.

If the Russian leadership continues to promote the view that all gay men are paedophiles it is hardly surprising that the people in Russia are becoming increasingly homophobic. The same messages are being promoted in Africa often heavily supported by American homophobic church missionaries. 
What is happening in Russia is not just a Russian problem. The recent debates in the Common and Lords around the Equal Marriage Bill highlighted that these extreme views still exist especially within religious organisations who managed to negotiate an opt out from the provisions of the Act. The Church of England is prevented by law from officiating in a same sex marriage, even if a particular vicar wanted to perform the ceremony.  
I think that it is time to get serious about exposing this hypocrisy and increasingly bring to public attention the abusive nature of these extreme religious and political fanatics. They seem to be targeting the gay community to hide the fact that often it is they themselves who are the worst paedophiles because they hide behind the cover or high profile respectability - just as Jimmy Saville  managed to do for decades.

Update
I have just come across this short video that shows graphically the kind of problems that are happening to gay people in Russia and wanted to share with you - it is disturbing but shows how fascist propaganda can move people. 88 % of Russians apparently support the change in law and it seems that this is because they have been convinced that Gay people can make their children gay with propaganda.  

 
  


              
 
 
 
   
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