Category Archives: Social Justice

The Fear in Transphobia

Content Notice: mentions of cissexism, genitals, and reproductive organs

Have you ever heard that defence people use, when accused of homophobia, “but I’m not afraid of gay people”?

I don’t think everyone who says something like that is wrong about themselves, or lying, but I do think that fear is one of the root causes of identity-based bigotry like homophobia and transphobia. As I explain, it will become clear why this phenomenon is specific to these forms of bigotry, even though the bigotry often manifests in the same harmful ways that all bigotry does: with anger, hatred, microaggressions, and violence.

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A Few Quick Movie Reviews

Slight spoilers for: Pitch Black (2000), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Riddick (2013), The Maze Runner (2014), Into The Storm (2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). I’ll put a warning before more major spoilers.

So, I just saw some movies, and I noticed things while watching them. It’s hard not to, although it can make it difficult to enjoy them. The 2013 Riddick movie, for instance, I found more and more unpleasant to watch, until the ending that made me want to throw a tantrum. I liked the previous Riddick movies – Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) – I enjoyed them, and I didn’t find them glaring problematic in their portrayals of women.

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I Don’t Understand Racism

I really just don’t get it.

The way we identify faces is by looking at certain landmarks on the face, allowing us to recognise a face we’ve seen before and distinguish between different faces. Dogs have actually learnt to do this with human faces, using the correct landmarks to identify humans faces, and even learning how to read out emotions from our facial expressions. My point being that this is an easy thing that our brains do without any conscious input from us (at least for neurotypical people, neurodivergent children may need coaching or special programs to learn to identify faces better) and social animals that we have domesticated have learnt this skill as well. [1]

This is relevant, because the only underlying (evo-psych) explanation for racism that I’ve heard is that seeing a face that isn’t what we’re used to seeing (i.e. is different to the faces we learnt facial recognition on – someone who doesn’t look like our friends and family) might trigger some kind of “oh noes, danger” alarm in the back of our heads, as back when we lived in family groups or tribes, people who looked different would be from other groups/tribes, and might be trying to attack us.

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Michael Brown and Related Protests

[Trigger Warnings: murder, police brutality]

The first I heard about this story was a screencap of a tweet or Facebook comment that appeared to be part of a conversation about the shooting – it was someone claiming to have witnessed the shooting asserting that the victim hadn’t been committing a robbery and had been shoved by the cop with the car door. This sparked my interest, as it sounded like an unusual event, but I didn’t see any more about it until another snippet the following day. Eventually I started being able to piece together what had happened as more articles appeared about it, and I found out the victim’s name so that I could look for more.

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Kandy, Zoraida, Yaz’min, Tiffany, Mia

[Trigger Warnings: murder, mentions of transphobia and misgendering]

Those are the names of the five transgender women murdered in June.

Kandy Hall, 40 (Baltimore, Maryland), Zoraida Reyes, 28 (Anaheim, California), Yaz’min Shancez, 31 (Fort Myers, Florida), Tiffany Edwards, 28 (Cincinnati, Ohio), Mia Henderson, 26 (Baltimore, Maryland).

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