Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Stop Our Silences.

Signal boost for a worthy campaign, explained by CN Lester as follows:
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The majority of young people who don't fit traditional gender norms are bullied. Bullied in the street, bullied at home, bullied at school – by pupils and teachers.

Gendered Intelligence is a groundbreaking British organization that provides support for gender non-conforming young people – no matter how they identify. Through young people's groups, school training, research and campaigning, they're already making a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of young people.

November 17th-23rd is National Anti-Bullying week here in the UK, and Gendered Intelligence have launched the Stop Our Silence campaign to raise awareness of gender-based bullying, to raise funds to run youth groups, and to show solidarity with all young people who are being silenced because of who they are.

There are two really easy ways that you can help.

1. Friday 21st of November – let's flood Twitter with selfies.

We're so often told that people like us don't exist – that we shouldn't exist – that there's nobody else like us out there. So let's break our silences and celebrate who we are.

Trans, cis, not sure, somewhere in between – everyone is welcome to lend their support. Just take a selfie holding a message:

“I was silent because...”
“They silenced me with...”
“I will never be silent again because...”
“Let's end the silence around gender-based bullying.”

Tweet with the hashtag #StopOurSilence to @GIYouthgroup and we'll keep the images rolling.

2. Stay silent for 24 hours – or sponsor a silence.

Gendered Intelligence members, family and friends are going silent to raise funds – even a small donation makes a hell of a difference. Or do your own sponsored silence? If only 100 people managed to get another 100 people to donate £1 each, GI would have £10,000 to fund their work.

On a personal note РI was badly bullied through school for being queer and trans Рit happens so often it's almost a clich̩. But it doesn't have to be like that Рand Gendered Intelligence are working their arses off to change things.

So lend a hand?
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Okay :)

Despite the fact that I don't really like selfies very much. I find them banal, use hide functions on other people's selfies almost automatically, and have never posted one here. But this is a selfie for a cause, so I'll be temporarily suppressing my natural negativity this Friday. Yes, that's this Friday. Get busy cru.

Now I just have to think up some text. Something beginning “I was silent because...” seems appropriate. Because I didn't suffer gender-based bullying at school. Not outward bullying from other people anyway. And that's because I was so completely silent about this stuff.

I've written about my own silence before – see the (rather pathetic) posts ‘Stealth’ (prompted by something CN once tweeted) and ‘14th August 2012’; the answer “Coming Out” in ‘Eight Questions’; and the somewhat happier ‘Second Anniversary’. No, I'm not a particularly good role model for not being silent. I'm still quite silent. Stay silent for 24 hours? Piece of piss ;) . But I don't feel as oppressed by my own silence now.

On the other hand, would I rather not (in hindsight) have been quite so silent as a young gender-variant person? Would I rather today's young people not feel the same need to be silent? Do I wish that no young person (or indeed anybody) suffers... in silence, or because of their silence, or because they're not silent. How many yesses is that? I've lost count.
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NB. If you don't use Twitter or social media, selfies can be sent direct to Gender Intelligence.
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#StopOurSilence Friday edit – and here's my selfie :)

5 comments:

  1. Pertinent to this, there's a timely article by Patrick Strudwick on the high rate of attempted suicide and self-harm among transgender youth. This shit matters.

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  2. Yes, this shit does matter. The only joke: the silence is killing me...? Not always so funny when applied to the trans community. Silence can keep you safe - to a point, but it has a cost. That pressure cooker of silence seems to burst sometime around the 30/40 mark, if the attendees at Chams are anything to go by. Assuming they make it beyond the risk point :-(

    I'm not sure I'll do a selfie - I know, shocker :-) - because I'm not sure what to put, but it does seem a good idea.

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  3. Yes, the text was actually quite troublesome. How to say something meaningful in a handful of words? A lot of people just used the given phrase “Let's end the silence around gender-based bullying”, which is fair enough. But I wanted mine to be more personal.

    I started with “I was silent because...” and then variations on “...I was afraid”. But that prompts the questions “of what, who, why?” which aren't easy to answer straightforwardly. Instead, “I never realized that silence was optional” says quite a lot for me about a perceived absence of choice. Of course there is a choice, but sometimes it seems like there isn't. Speak? No, I can't. Really. Please. Sure you can, sweetie.

    Here are a few things other people came up with:

    “I was silenced because my fear was greater than their power.”
    “I will never be silent again because I have a lot to say.”
    “If we all speak together then we are too loud to be silenced.”
    “I was silent because I didn't know there were words I could use.”
    “I was silent because I thought I was the only one. I thought that I just had to put up with the bullying.”
    “They silenced me with "pouf". They lost... It got better and I helped change the world.”
    “Silence can kill. Shouting makes us stronger.”
    “I stayed silent because I was afraid of being abandoned.”
    “I will not be silent because mean people have no right to be mean!”

    Those are in chronological tweet order to avoid trying (pointlessly) to rank them. But if I had to pick one, it'd probably be the fourth down (about words). Yes.

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  4. The collected 51 selfies can be now be viewed on the Stop Our Silence website :)

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  5. 51? That's not a bad number IMO and I'm with you on idea no. 4.

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