The Ozanne Foundation, which works with religious organisations around the world to support LGBT+ people, has marked the end of Pride Month by launching the UK’s first inter-religious advisory board focused on fighting discrimination.
The panel’s nine members span across the main UK and Irish religions – Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity – as well as representing the Christian denominations of Catholics, Quakers, Baptists and Methodists.
I hope I’m not being preemtively too generous with praise for the Guardian today launching Genderqueer generation, a series of stories centered on, and often told by, the children and young adults who are rejecting traditional gender identities.
Their first article on being non-binary, makes the series look promising. It begins by asking four young people to describe how they realized they were non-binary.
A growing number young people say it is up to them. Rejecting traditional markers of “male” or “female”, they prefer identifying as “genderqueer”, which refers to people who don’t fall squarely within the gender binary. Coming out as non-binary, using they/them pronouns.
Non-binary people feel they are widely misunderstood, facing prejudice. For example, Donald Trump, recently decreed that protections against healthcare discrimination were to be applied based exclusively on biology rather than one’s inner sense of gender.
I find it interesting how my mind link things that remind me of experiences had. The other day I was thinking, I now have two out of three main Apple products – an iPod, plus an MacBook Air. Will the iPhone come later, completing the set? This led me to the song by Meat Loaf, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”. This led me to an occasion where a friend likened this song to a relationship he had with a girlfriend.
Back in the early 1990s I was working as a computer operator in Glasgow for an oil company. For several night shifts this friend would talk to me while I listened, as he laid out his confused feelings for this lady. He said he felt his relationship with her was like the song, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”. Not sure why he choose me to talk to so openly, being quite vulnerable. Perhaps knowing I was near completing an OU degree in psychology was a prompt? He later expressed appreciation for the time spent sharing. This experience, along with coming to the end of the degree in psychology was one of several that led me evetually to further train and work as counsellor/therapist, as I am today. So thanks to that friend.
The song is below for anyone who may not have ever heard it. Or perhaps you may want to listen again 😎.
With the recent lockdown due to the Coronavirus all my counselling sessions are currently online using Zoom. I’ve been using my iPad with a pair of headphones. All works well. Though recently purchased a pair of iPods, to use in counselling/therapy sessions instead of the headphones. I am amazed at the difference they make. The quality of sound is wonderful. So much clearer, plus with the noise cancellation on there are no distractions. It feels more like being in a room with a client.
Recently finished reading the book titled above, written by Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock. Many things struck me. In particular consent. How in many instances, even in long term relationships, it is assumed, rather than discussed between partners. The concluding chapter, Communication and Consent, goes into detail about what real consent is, giving ideas for discussing this with partners. There is a wonderful analogy of shaking hands and consent. I’m not going to detail that here. I encourage you to either buy the book or get a copy from your local library.
There has been / is / will continue to be much debate about the recent Alabama change in the abortion law there. Whilst I’m in the UK, as many of those reading this blog, they may be a thought from some that it’s not relevant here to post about. I don’t full understand the American political process so I’m not going to comment directly on the law itself. Except from my limited experience, it seems crazy.
However, one of the causes of unwanted pregnancy, which is where the need for abortion often arises from, both in the US, the UK and in all other parts of the world is lack of sex education. There is often the idea that too detailed information will result in young people suddenly going out having sex. Not the case. If anything education demystifies everything, often removing the desire to do something not known about.
The YouTube video above by Dr Lindsey Doe explains the benefits of sex education. At the end it lists resources available in the US. Often it is thought that abstinence education is sufficient. Dr Doe’s swimming analogy resonates. If you tell someone they shouldn’t swim, that will never help them ever to swim! There are multiple aspects of sex education on her YouTube channel.
Below is a link to a UK site, run by Justin Hancock, giving loads of information about sex, that is very worthwhile and educational for those over 14. All with a UK perspective, taking account of UK laws, etc. Justin covers such topics as, well there are so many!! One topic that I’m very interested in is consent. Justin has several articles on this. Have a browse here.
Over the past year I’ve read a few trans* books. All excellent reads, for different reasons. There are of course many other wonderful and insightful books on being trans*. Others on my reading list include “Testosterone Rex” and “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine. Thanks to Georgia Williams for bringing these to my attention.
One great value for such reading material is enhancing and developing deeper empathy. Valuable not just for counsellors, but for society as a whole. Empathy and acceptance of each other go hand in hand. Looking beyond our own point of view is invaluable for a peaceful society and world. Thinking there is only one answer or way to be creates others. It leads to us and them thinking. It tends to generate “either / or” thinking. When the ideal is surely “and / plus” thinking. Whether you’re trans*, wonder if you are, know someone who is or wonders if they are, or think you don’t know anybody who’s trans* (because you probably do) these books will be invaluable resource for you.
Of particular importance is the acceptance of any name change, being willing to use it, plus the pronouns a trans* person may ask you to use. Most trans* people recognise this can initially be difficult and will be okay with genuine slip-ups in language. What is offensive is deliberate mis-gendering someone.
“Trans Teen Survival Guide”, cover below, I’d say is similar in approach to This Book is Gay, written, as the title says, for a younger audience. Included are the following chapters:
So You’re Trans?
Gender Roles Are Dead
Telling the World (or not!)
What Do I Call You?
Being You (Whoever That Is)
Dysphoria: The Monster
Puberty and How to Cope
Genitals, Parts, Junk – What Suits Best?
Dating as a Trans Person
Awkward Trans Tales
Dealing with the Media
Documenting Your Journey
Don’t Get Mad – Get Even!
More Than Just Trans
Self-Care and How to Help Others
Hopes for the Future
Resources and Cool People
Appendix: Young Trans Kids and How to Support Them
Difficult to say which chapters are the best. Each individual will find certain chapters more relevant to their needs or desires. One thing that becomes apparent is there is no one way to be trans*. The mainstream media often give the impression it’s just about cutting bits (penis or breasts) from off one’s body. And sometimes it is. Owl and Fox Fisher outline many options available. Too many to detail here. Read their book. If you can’t afford it, see if you local library can get hold of a copy for you.
Another wonderful book is “trans like me” by cn lester. Written for an older audience, certainly not beyond a teenage readership. For me it felt slightly more personal, in that cn lester recounts their own experiences of growing up, discovering themselves. Again, recommended reading.
Many people struggle to understand what being trans* is about. Such books as these give brilliant insights into that. That it is nothing like what is often depicted in the mainstream media. Yet such media seems preferred by many, instead of going to what might be termed a source, someone’s lived experience.
A third amazing book is “Trans Britain” by Christine Burns. The chapters are written by trans people who have experienced life in Britain over the past 50 years or so. It shows the progress made. Though lately there does seem a tragic reversal of trans acceptance in some areas of society. Yet, again,read this book to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of what it is being trans*.
One thing becomes apparent through the book. Something known as bi-erasure, where the existence of bi-sexual people is discounted. You are either lesbian, gay or straight. No one is thought to actually be bi-sexual.
The idea of bi-sexuality seems to confuse some people. It is often thought that a person will identify as bi-sexual while on the way to discovering whether they are lesbian or gay. There is a scene depicted in Bohemian Rapsody that unfortunately implies this. I was reluctant to post about the film, until I discovered much of it is not historical accurate. So the conversation between Freddie and Mary may be not be factual. So spoiler alert.
Freddie and Mary had a wonderful relationship. Then, in the film, after Freddie returns from being on tour, they have an awkward conversation. Freddie says he thinks he’s bi-sexual, Mary responds, no Freddie, you’re gay. The idea of being bi-sexual is completely shut down. No disrespect meant to Mary, as then bi-erasure seemed the norm. The strange thing is all these years later attitudes don’t seem to have changed much!
Bi-sexuals are incorrectly seen as promiscious, incapable of commitment, a threat to relationships. Out of all LGBTQ+ people, bi-sexuals have mental health problems most frequently. The Bisexuality Report: Bisexual inclusion in LGBT equality and diversity found bi-sexual people are prone to higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide, all of which are embedded in bi-phobia and bi-erasure.
I’m left wondering what needs to happen for their to be full acceptance of bi-sexuality. Accusations of being greedy, confused and such, seem inappropriate. Of the bi-sexual people I know, I wouldn’t describe any in that way. A case for more acceptance, by all, for all?
Wonderful book, whether you’re LGBTQ+ (perhaps you’re questioning or wondering?) or know someone who is. I’d recommend reading this book 🌈 😇
Are you a young person wondering about your gender and / or sexuality? Read this book 😊
Do you have a child, niece, nephew, grandchild, or other young relative or friend wondering about their gender or sexual? Read this book 😊 and then either give it to whoever you are thinking about or buy them a copy!
I mention young people as that is the main audience Juno is writing for. Though, of course, the information within is relevant for everyone, whether LGBTQ+ or otherwise.
Welcome to the members club
The name game
You can’t mistake our biology
Stereotypes are poo
Haterz gon’ hate
Where to meet people like you
The ins and outs of gay sex
A guide to recognising your gay saints
Build a bridge
The cheat sheet
I’d say all the chapters are relevant and important reading. Though, if you’re a parent, guardian, relative or friend of someone who is gay (or wondering or questioning) “Build a bridge” is vital reading.
When you buy the book, make sure you get the second edition. Has a few important updates.
I love having a bath. Usually, once a week I take a bath. Generally I soak for at least an hour. During which I may read, meditate, ponder, dream, imagine, pray, visualise, compose poetry. Being secluded brings more ideas and feelings, than come at other times. Which is where a large part of this entry comes from. I first read “The Art of Asking” several years ago. It still resonates with me, that I recently reread it.
Being a person-centred counsellor I try to embrace all I am. Being more open about everything, is consistent with the concept of congruence, one of the three primary qualities of a person-centred counsellor – unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence – ideals I aspire to each day. Aspire to, yet no doubt never completely reach. A line from Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking”, my bath reading, fits here, about the purpose of life being for:
A lot of thoughts have risen from the book. Recommend it.
Can the essence of the book be summed up in a word? Perhaps, connection is one word I’d choose. Another, vulnerability.Trust and faith are others. And of course, asking:
“Some days it’s your turn to ask “Some days it’s your turn to be asked”
“Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability. Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing:
I deserve to ask and You are welcome to say no.
Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.”
Some other words or phrases that stand out for me:
“Conditional love is: I will only love you if you love me.
Unconditional love is: I will love you even if you do not love me.
It’s really easy to love passing strangers unconditionally. They demand nothing of you. It is really hard to love people unconditionally when they can hurt you.”
“You can never give people what they want, Anthony said. What do you mean?
We were lying by the side of Walden Pond in Concord, two towns from Lexington, where we’d crested a ritual of ambling around the circumference of the water, then lazing under the trees with a picnic for a nice long grok.
People always want something from you, he said. Your time. Your love. Your money. For you to agree with them and their politics, their point of view. And you can’t ever give them what they want. But you —–
That’s a dreary worldview.
Let me finish clown. You can’t ever give people what they want. But you can give them something else. You can give them empathy. You can give them understanding. And that’s a lot, and enough to give.“
On their own the words quoted above may not mean much. Read the book and hopefully they will. You will no doubt take different things from it than I did. And that is okay. And perhaps that’s another principle, idea, concept, of the book – difference is okay.
Not everyone will like Amanda’s writing style. If you have read and valued Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”, then the ideas in “The Art of Asking” should resonate with you.
Recently I finished watching the Netflix series “Sex Education”.
If you haven’t seen the series yet and don’t want any spoilers, best not read any further. Though I don’t really discuss any plot angles. I will say I was surprised to see one story line from 10 Things I Hate About You. Just go and watch it and come back here after 😊. Be aware it’s been given an 18 rating in the UK. Nudity from the opening scene. Strong language throughout. The story revolves around Otis giving sex therapy to various of his school peers, having picked up things from his Mum, who is a qualified and practicing sex therapist.
Made in South Wales, the location for the filming was the University of South Wales’ old Caerleon campus, which was closed in 2016. Despite this and the actors being from the UK, the setting is made to appear as if in a US high school. Bit confusing initially. Doesn’t distract too much.
Is it a comedy? Well, yes and no. There are many scenes that had me laughing out loud. There are many scenes that show the pain of being a teenager – bullying, not being part of the “in crowd”, coming to accept your gender and sexuality, not feeling adequate enough, clever enough, cool enough, affection not being returned by someone you fancy.
There are so many aspects of gender, sex and sexuality portrayed. With sex being biopsychosocial (biology, psychology and social) the series demonstrates this complexity. The following is a list (not in any particular order) of things I noticed that were touched on. Some in more detail than others. If I’ve missed any please comment so I can update here, listed alphabetically, rather than to try another kind of order.
Complexity of family and friends relationships
Owning your sexuality and gender
Sex and relationship therapy
The title of the series being sex education, wouldn’t it be wonderful if sex education in our UK schools covered the subjects listed above in depth. Perhaps then the difficult experiences of many teenagers regarding sex and relationships could be avoided.
Would I recommend watching it? Yes. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I would recommend it.
Following recently reading two of Meg-John Barker’s books (Rewriting the Rules and Enjoy Sex) where they mention self-care a great deal, I was going to write a lengthy post regarding self-care. In the end I thought why remake (or in this case – rewrite 😇) the wheel. The link here hellyeahselfcare will load a pdf of Meg-John’s on the topic. Whether client or counsellor, well worth reading and following the advice therein.
After much thought decided to add a blog about different aspects of counselling. Obviously, this will not be for discussing clients or things that they bring to sessions. I have a supervisor for that. It will be about myself. Things I’ve read or am learning – I see learning as a lifelong endeavour. Yes, I have a psychology degree, plus a diploma in counselling, yet there is ever more to be learnt about myself and how to be a more engaged congruent, empathic, loving person and counsellor. As such, I’ll share continued further development of myself as an individual and as a counsellor.
Having this past September (2018) started a new diploma in Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy there will probably be much concerning that. There will also be reviews of books, magazines and web articles, experiences on courses, sharing of others blogs.
If there is a theme, it will likely be connected to Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diversities (GSRD).
How often will this page be updated? Weekly I don’t see as an option. Maybe monthly, maybe fortnightly. we’ll see 🙂