A comment about a question

How often have you been at an event where someone from the audience wants to ask a question and insists that they don’t need a microphone because they have a loud voice – only to be reminded that they still require one. Well, I’m at a national conference and I have a question (not a comment). It’s concise, should take a few seconds to say, and hopefully open enough that anyone in the panel can pick it up. Fortunately, once upon a time I took a course on live sound engineering, so I understand how you’re supposed to hold a mic. I’ll make this brief with no fuss.

A couple of mics are passed around the audience. Someone else asks a question before me. After a brief wait, it’s my turn. I hold the microphone as I have learned you should, the correct distance from my mouth and pointing towards it. I begin to speak.

What I hadn’t considered was that I was sitting near the back of a large hall, and the PA system speakers were positioned at the front. My mic technique had optimised the volume of my speech, which I heard back after a short and reverberated delay. This booming, reverberated clone of me made it difficult to concentrate. Additionally, it heightened my awareness of the Julian Clary dimension to my voice, triggering thoughts about cisgendered and heterosexual (cishet) norms of professionalism and which types of voices tend to be taken seriously. I felt that mine had squarely landed on the not-seriously end of the spectrum. All of these thoughts were happening at once; I was only about a sentence in.

So, I tried to adjust the volume by holding the microphone further from my mouth, then a little closer, and then further again. I noticed people dotted around the room, whom I’d been speaking to earlier over coffee, had turned to listen. The panel appeared to be straining to hear me. One panel member asked me to repeat the question, which, by then, I had reduced to a short sentence – simply wanting the moment to be over. That panel member gave a good answer. Another asked, “Can we just take another question, please?”

I’ve recounted this experience in various ways, sometimes aiming for a giggle (taking poetic license with the Clary elements and in-out mic adjustments). Other times, focusing more on the frustrations of dominant professional norms. And yet, I don’t have a conclusion. I’d be eager to hear your thoughts.

Something other than gross self-indulgence

“More than anything, I’m excited. I’m excited to see how life is going to be different for the queer, trans, and even cis kids too, growing up in a world that has more language for gender variance. I’m excited to find out what sort of lives they will lead, from the genderqueer activists in the audience at my last reading to the barista with the orange mohawk who handed me the cup of tea I’m clutching for dear life as I write alone in this café, trying to believe that writing this piece is something other than gross self-indulgence.

“The barista is wearing two name badges. One says their name; the other one says, in thick chalk capitals, I am not a girl. My pronouns are They/Them.”

– Laurie Penny (2015), How To Be A Genderqueer Feminist

“I feel sure that I shall meet Morcom again”

Thurs 13 Feb 1930, Alan Turing’s first (and unrequited) love Christopher Morcom died. Turing was 17. “I feel sure that I shall meet Morcom again somewhere and that there will be some work for us to do together…” (Hodges, 1983/2014, pp. 61-62):

Dear Mother,

I wrote to Mrs Morcom as you suggested and it has given me a certain relief. […] I feel sure that I shall meet Morcom again and that there will be work for us to do together, and as I believed there was for us to do here. Now that I am left to do it alone I must not let him down but put as much energy into it, if not as much interest, as if he were still here. If I succeed I shall be more fit to enjoy his company than I am now. I remember what G O’H said to me once ‘Be not weary of well doing for in due ye shall reap if ye faint not’ and Bennett who is very kind on these occasions ‘Heaviness may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning’. Rather Plymouth brotherish perhaps. I am sorry he is leaving. It never seems to have occurred to me to try and make any other friends besides Morcom, he made everyone seem so ordinary […].

References

Andrew Hodges (1983/2014). Alan Turing: the Enigma. Princeton University Press.

Predictors of Transgender Prejudice: A Meta-Analysis

Hailey Hatch et al. (2022) conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of predictors of transphobia. The final analysis consisted of 82 studies with a total of 36,285 participants. Main findings in the table below. A higher score indicates more transphobia. Right wing authoritarianism (RWA) is one of the strongest predictors, “characterized by the tendency to submit to authority figures, to adhere to conventional social norms, and to aggress against those who may be considered threatening or perceived to go against conventional norms”.

References

Hatch, H. A., Warner, R. H., Broussard, K. A., & Harton, H. C. (2022). Predictors of Transgender Prejudice: A Meta-Analysis. Sex Roles, 87(11–12), 583–602. [Unpaywalled]

Associations between gender and sexuality in the England and Wales 2021 Census

ONS recently released data about sexual orientation and gender identity from Census 2021 in England and Wales.

I’d like to know whether your gender predicts your sexuality. ONS hasn’t released the relevant crosstabs yet, so here’s an approximation using variation in population counts across (lower-tier) local authorities.

Beware the ecological fallacy, e.g., this might show that areas with more people of a particular gender also have more people of a particular sexuality, but not necessarily that they are the same people.

Knitted R markdown over there. If you improve it, let me know please.

A picture:

Green denotes a positive association and red a negative association. The width of the line denotes the association strength.

  • Het = Straight or Heterosexual
  • GL = Gay or Lesbian
  • Bi = Bisexual
  • Pan = Pansexual
  • Ace = Asexual
  • Q = Queer
  • Cis = Gender identity the same as sex registered at birth
  • TM = Trans man
  • TW = Trans woman
  • NBi = Non-binary

Sexual orientation and gender identity: Census 2021 in England and Wales

Hot off the press: Data and supporting information about sexual orientation and gender identity from Census 2021 in England and Wales.

Gender, where different to AGAB:

  • 48,000 (0.10%) identified as a trans man
  • 48,000 (0.10%) identified as a trans woman
  • 30,000 (0.06%) identified as non-binary
  • 18,000 (0.04%) wrote in a different gender identity

Sexuality, where non-het:

  • 748,000 (1.5%), described themselves as gay or lesbian
  • 624,000 (1.3%) described themselves as bisexual
  • 165,000 (0.3%) selected “Other sexual orientation”, which were mostly:
    • pansexual (112,000, 0.23%)
    • asexual (28,000, 0.06%)
    • queer (15,000, 0.03%)

Loads of tables by geographical region, e.g., LA.

(Un)doing gender (and citation)

Judith Butler stans might appreciate this, by Candice West and Don Zimmerman (2009, pp. 112-113):

‘The initial ideas for “Doing Gender” came in 1975 and 1976 […]. We presented “Doing Gender” at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in 1977; we spent the next ten years trying to get it into print.

‘Between 1977 and 1987, this work was rejected by some of the most respected journals in our field (including Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and Social Problems). In fact, Erving Goffman, one reader of an early draft, passed away in the time it took to get the paper published. During those ten years, we continued to circulate prepublication versions to friends and colleagues, and we continued to refine and polish the paper in response to their remarks. We were more than gratified to see “Doing Gender” finally published in 1987 […].

‘Today, “doing gender” often appears in print without acknowledgment of its source, and some scholars (such as Judith Butler) play on our wording (Undoing Gender, Butler 2004) without ever citing our work.’

References

West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (2009). Accounting for doing gender. Gender and Society, 23, 112–122.

All Out! Dancing in Dulais (1986)

“The South Wales miners’ strike of 1984-1985 saw the formation of a curious alliance between a plucky group of young homosexuals from London and miners in Dulais Valley. In Dancing in Dulais, an initial wariness on the part of the young gays, the miners, and the miners’ families gives way, through sometimes delicate interactions, to a loving and purposeful solidarity. The unembellished videography captures well this fascinating-to-witness union of two disparate yet ultimately kindred groups. The ‘Pits and Perverts’ benefit concert features the Bronski Beat.”

Other LGSM videos

QUEERS READ THIS

It’s nearly pride month, and the (usually cishet) leadership of organisations will allow rainbows to appear and polite expressions of queer rights to be published on the company blog. But don’t forget: pride is protest. Protest against the homophobia and transphobia perpetuated by straights. “No pride for some of us without liberation for ALL of us” (Marsha P. Johnson).

QUEERS READ THIS was a leaflet distributed at the New York pride march, published anonymously by Queers (June, 1990), and captures the spirt of pride.

“[…] You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary. There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are standing here reading these words. You should by all rights be dead. Don’t be fooled, straight people own the world and the only reason you have been spared is you’re smart, lucky or a fighter.

“Straight people have a privilege that allows them to do whatever they please and fuck without fear. But not only do they live a life free of fear; they flaunt their freedom in my face. Their images are on my TV, in the magazine I bought, in the restaurant I want to eat in, and on the street where I live. I want there to be a moratorium on straight marriage, on babies, on public displays of affection among the opposite sex and media images that promote heterosexuality. Until I can enjoy the same freedom of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer sisters and brothers. […]”