Archive for August, 2016

Should we have a Transgender and Intersex Olympics?

The same way we have the Paralympics – which are held for athletes with disabilities.

By the way, transgender and intersex are not the same. Transgender people do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Even if, erroneously, it is still standard practice in many societies to conflate one’s gender with their external genitalia. That is, a person born with male genitals would be assigned a masculine identity, but may later identify as feminine, not masculine. Therefore, this person is a woman. Similarly, someone who was born with a vagina might identify as a boy or a man later on in life. Hence this person is a man.

Most people identify with the body they were born in, which is refered to as cissexuality versus transsexuality described above. On the other hand, many people do not feel like solely a man or a woman but somewhere on a continuum between the two genders. These people often refer to themselves as non-binary or multi-gendered. Others may not feel any attachment to any gender at all or agendered.

Intersex refers to a variety of conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual features that don’t quite fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be inbetween the usual male and female types.

To participate in the just concluded Rio 2016 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released revised guidelines for trans- and intersex athletes where sex reassignment surgery will no longer be required. Female-to-male transgender athletes are eligible to take part in men’s competitions without restriction and male-to-female transgender athletes will need to demonstrate that their testosterone level has been below a certain cutoff point for at least one year before their first competition.

The IOC stresses that the overall objective of sport remains the guarantee of fair competition and without the exclusion of trans and intersex athletes.

In this instance, fairness would be a difficult concept to define and hence enforce. Historically, of course the recognised physical difference has been separate sporting competition for male and female bodies. Since we now know that many people identify psychologically and socially as non-binary, multi-gender and others physically as intersex; it is difficult if not erroneous to categorize them neatly into categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ for purposes of sport. The default position for the IOC appears based on protecting fair competition particularly for female athletes from unfair advantage by more ‘masculine’ presenting athletes, such as ‘hyperandrogenism’ in female [-identifying] athletes. Examples here include; Castor Semenya of South Africa and Dutee Chand of India. In order not discriminate against such individuals the IOC decreed that if not eligible for female competition – according to the new guidelines – the athlete should automatically be eligible to compete in male competition.

Trans and intersex athletes have experienced wide discrimination, abuse and ridicule questioning their gender, sex and sexuality on public platforms. The new IOC guidelines have opened more space for inclusion for non-normative identities although this is still restricting to some degree.



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Breaking free from mammon

We have been socialised to centre money or mammon, which is wealth and riches posing as a false deity in our lives. We are constantly reminded of its prime importance and central location in our existences and it is difficult if not impossible to escape the constant propaganda grind. What with the relentless advertising industry, material culture pouring endlessly through the many media streams from television, radio, internet and print literature.

Material culture reminds constantly that you are incomplete without more, more and more. Money, cell phones and other ever changing computer gadgetry, apparel, automobiles, property, you name it… And that having these things is wont to make us more popular, desirable, beautiful and yes, successful. Success is emphasised as having things and not so much developing or nurturing oneself and others – physically, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and socially. In fact, nurturing, caring and performing service are seen as the lot of those with lower social status; markedly females, peoples of African descent, and other persons from developing contexts, etcetera.

It is easier to control insecure and uninformed or misinformed persons. The plutocracy would have it no other way. For reasons. Plutocrats, or the wealthy, privileged, classed individuals; seen globally as cisgender white males are just as sucked into the skewed logic of mammon worship; even if they benefit the most because of their placements higher up the social pyramid.

To break away from this; one must start with the entry point for this misguided propaganda. Our minds. As prominent South African anti-apartheid activist, Steve Biko, once remarked, ‘the most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.’ We start with re-educating our minds to challenge misinformation and systems intended to control, confuse, and misdirect. Start with the questions most pertinent to you right now and move on from there in searching for authors, speakers and groups most aligned with those areas where you seek knowledge.

Of course we have to use money in the current financial economic context. Nonetheless, one must not buy into centering this instrument as the definition of all value in our lives and society. A number of thinkers have suggested ways of eliminating the social inequalities associated with the current financial system by converting to a resource-based, currency-free system.

That said; even the world’s wealthiest are not immune to the perennial financial insecurity and anxiety assailing the struggling classes.

”…judging from a survey of people with an average net worth of $78m found that they too were assailed by anxiety, dissatisfaction and loneliness. Many of them reported feeling financially insecure: to reach safe ground, they believed, they would need, on average, about 25% more money. (And if they got it? They’d doubtless need another 25%). One respondent said he wouldn’t get there until he had $1bn in the bank.” George Monbiot

Doubtless still, even on reaching ‘there’; having accumulated wealth that one may judge to be ‘enough’; the sleepless anxiety about the danger of losing it all… And so on and so forth. It is an endless cycle, that one can’t win. No wonder the world’s oligarchs are possessed by excessive greed for excessive wealth. The fear that another may surpass them, that they may be left ‘behind’ or worse, lose it all and join the struggling classes.

Do not start a journey with no end in sight. We have all been en-cultured onto this path. Educate yourself to get off the grind now.



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