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Archive for February 7th, 2011

This will be just a quick posts with some links to further reading.

Recently, the groups The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released a survey “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” about discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the United States. The Report abstract states:

Transgender and gender non-conforming people face rampant discrimination in every area of life: education, employment, family life, public accommodations, housing, health, police and jails, and ID documents…

Questioning Transphobia summarizes some of the findings:

  • Respondents were four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with incomes lower than $10,000
  • Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed
  • One in four reported being fired for their gender identity or expression
  • Half said they experienced harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace
  • One in five said they experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression
  • 19% said they had been refused a home or apartment
  • 19% said they had been refused health care
  • 31% reported harassment or bullying by teachers
  • 41% reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% for the general population

Similar statistics about discrimination apply to Canadians.

As Jill from Feministe writes:

Much of this discrimination, it’s worth noting, is entirely legal. Trans people are routinely left of out anti-discrimination laws that protect citizens from discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, nationality, etc.

In Canada, we have a chance to correct this problem. Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), is up for a vote in the House of Commons. The last vote was really close, passing by only 12 votes (Yeas: 143; Nays 131).

Bill C-389 is coming up for a final vote this Wednesday, February 9th. This time opponents of the bill have organized a letter-writing campaign to petition MPs to vote against the bill.

If you want to support the bill to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression, there is an online letter writing campaign organized by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. If any readers are from Canada and wish to support the bill, please consider sending a letter to your MP from the link above.

I will include links for further reading below the fold.

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Why I like Crime Shows

One of my guilty pleasures is watching crime shows on TV. I love crime shows for a number of reasons.

First, I really enjoy being frightened, and crime shows offer the types of situations that I find scary. I don’t usually find horror movies scary because they are too fantastic and I cannot really picture any ghosts, zombies, or ghouls attacking me or any one I know and care about. But if a director combines spine-tingling music with a realistic threat posed by a (human) stranger, acquaintance or  loved one, I am drawn in. I can imagine myself or someone I love in this kind of danger.

Second, I  really like trying to solve puzzles, and crime shows sometimes offer a puzzle to be solved: who among the characters presented is guilty of the crime? I love foreshadowing when it is done well so that it does not immediately give away the culprit on the first viewing, but when watching the episode a second time one can identify the clues that identify the criminal.

Finally, I like shows that are morally complex. I don’t like shows that have clear “good guys” and “bad guys.” Instead, I prefer shows that examine the complexities of criminality and look at how structural elements of particular societies work to criminalize some behaviours while excusing others (for example, see this YouTube video featuring Angela Davis on Prisons or Michael Moore’s satirical take on a Cop show about Corporate criminals).

In particular, if a show deals with the kinds of structural relations discussed by feminists, then I will love it. Most TV shows don’t meet this standard. The only TV show that does meet this standard that I can readily call to mind is The Wire. Although this feature of narratives is probably the one that I would rank most highly in terms of importance (it would override the other two criteria if ever it were present), so few TV shows meet this standard that I tend to overlook it when deciding whether a show is worth watching. I apply this standard very loosely, if at all.

These three elements that I like in crime shows create a means of ranking crime shows that usually corresponds to how much I like them. First, the situations have to be realistic and second, they cannot give away the criminal’s identity too quickly. Finally, for (overriding) bonus points, the show should be morally complex and should not explain all criminal behaviour in terms of “bad” types of persons. Most crime shows vary along these dimensions from episode to episode, and also trends in this variation can be identified over time.

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