That was nice.
Especially in Toronto where the LGBT community is so oppressed that the Toronto District School Board is honestly considering changing the pronouns "he" and "she" to "xe" and "xer" to accommodate transgendered students and allow those in the midst of gender confusion the opportunity to come into their own without having the roles forced upon them. It's not an issue to be taken lightly, especially when one considers how difficult it is to be different.
How difficult it is to be different in Toronto.
I'm going to repeat this sentence one more time in case anyone missed the sarcasm.
How difficult it is. To be different. In Toronto.
Recently, I had the "privilege" of receiving criticism from a transgendered activist on account of my dismissive response to their plight, claiming that it isn't a real problem. I would like to both renege on that statement as well as provide a little bit of an explanation.
I don't believe that discrimination and sexism aren't issues within North America. They clearly are and it's seen in something as innocent as an advertisement for dish soap or laundry detergent. Sexism and discrimination exist in full. Not going to deny that.
What I am going to deny, however, is their importance when it comes to their rank on our ladder of human rights issues. As with any problem, you start from the bottom and work your way back up to the top. The most recent problem and the most pointless is the pronoun conundrum facing the youth of the day. It's idiotic. What would happen when any of these students open a book that predates 2014 and see the words "he" and "she" used to describe characters? What if they happen to identify with a male character and they're a boy who likes to play with girl things? By this I mean they -know- that they're a boy. They have no wish to be called a girl. They are very happy with their bits and pieces and enjoy the fact that they exist, they just happen to think Gem is awesome and spend their Saturday mornings watching the show with a religious fervour...not that I know anyone like that.
Now, this boy begins to read some antiquated book that contains proper pronouns and one of the characters happens to be a toddler who was born male. He sees (yes he) that the boy in question is not only called a boy, but is referred to as "he" rather than "xer", which is in direct conflict with the current doublespeak of the day. He then immediately asks why this exists and the answer is "because it's a boy", to which the response is "but why isn't xe xer, then?" Clearly, the response to this query will then be, "they just didn't know at the time what we know now." Yes! Brilliant!
To an eight year old who knows nothing of prejudice, he will continue to ask questions along this thread, such as "why didn't they?" "why did it change?" "what does it matter?" Why why why why why why? I feel much the same way, why are we so willing to throw millions upon millions of dollars at a non-issue?
In Uganda? Yes, I understand the importance, even if it is a superficial change. But there's a difference when it comes to a place like Uganda. The treatment of the LGBT in Uganda is atrocious in the most literal sense of the word. In places where homosexuality is outlawed or punishable by death, it is a very real and very serious matter that should have resources thrown at it until it is dead and buried.
This is North America, though. While I understand that certain States and parts of Canada are stuck fifty years in the past and the thought of an inter-racial couple still makes people uncomfortable, it's not as if we don't have a clear set of laws that defend the freedoms of our citizens to behave in whatever manner they wish so long as it doesn't infringe upon the rights of others. Yes, you could site examples to the contrary, but on the whole we're not doing so badly.
I mean...assuming you're not Native. Let's look at a bit of history in the advancements of human rights in North America, shall we?
In 1919, workers were given the right to unionize in order to protect themselves against unsafe conditions set by an employer. Wonderful. And the Treaty of Detroit was being broken that very same year as expansion kept building outside of the agreed upon territory. The construction crews, however, were protected by standard wages and the legal system as they did so. So that's nice.
In 1920, women could vote without being discriminated against. That's great, the Treaties of Buffalo Creek are still getting pissed on. What's next.
In 1921, the Tulsa Race Riot paved the way for the African American movement that would grant their people a voice in an oppressive land and finally show the world that they deserved to be heard. Meanwhile, the Jay Treaty that had been written two hundred prior was largely ignored by both Canada and the United States as they struggled to keep up with the demand of resources brought on by the first World War.
That's three years. Three years out of the last hundred, mind you, and for every advancement in human rights there's another year where the primary concern of this continent is ignored because it's too difficult to resolve.
We allow ourselves to get distracted with trivial concerns - and make no mistake, they ARE trivial - because the government doesn't want to own up to its original sin. The amount of money that it throws at these supposed injustices is nothing compared to what it would have to pay to adequately reimburse the indigenous population for the years of abuse and flat-out thievery that it's perpetrated over the last 300 years.
So, having said that, if you're more concerned over whether or not a girl is going to grow up thinking she has to wear pink rather than blue or have to hide her preference of partner from her grandparents because they don't understand this era instead of wondering why the Canadian and American governments haven't fully allowed the Tribal Councils a seat at parliamentary discussions or given them full access to veto municipal housing plans and grant them the final say on immigration reform, then you're a huge asshole.
And guess what.
I can say that because I'm "privileged".