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Hate as a Business Model

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Freedom is a precious thing but some people have a rather peculiar idea of what exactly freedom is. For them freedom means they should be free to decide who they can discriminate against, who they can bully, whose freedom they can take away.

Recently several US states introduced so called “religious freedom” bills that were supposedly meant to make sure that the citizens of those states can practise their religions freely. This becomes a problem though when someone’s religion says that being Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Transgender is wrong, a sin even. In that case these bills enable religious people and businesses to discriminate against queer people so we end up with less, not more, freedom.

“Critics of religious freedom laws need perspective, at least gays aren’t executed” — US Senator Tom Cotton

Maybe even worse are cynical business owners who take this opportunity to make a quick buck with their hate for queer folks. Like the owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana who received a mind-boggling $800,000 in donations for their public statement that they would not cater pizzas for a gay wedding–as if any of us would have a taste bad enough to consider pizzas as an option for a wedding anyway. All thanks to a donation rally on the website GoFundMe. On the same website fundraisers for cancer patients and the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing received a lot less money.

In other states refusing to serve customers based on their sexual orientation is still not legal but that doesn’t keep some business owners from turning their hate into cash. A florist in Washington who didn’t want to have anything to do with the queers was fined $1,000 but is now $100,000 richer after asking for donations.

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The Gender Spectrum finally becomes Mainstream

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Young people are more likely to believe gender exists on a spectrum, according to a new study. 1,000 Americans aged 18 to 34 were surveyed on gender, with half believing the binary categories of male and female are too limiting.

They were asked: ‘Some countries, including India, recognize a gender that is neither male nor female. Which more closely aligns with your view?’ Options were ‘There are only two genders, male and female’, which in total received 46% support, ‘Gender is a spectrum, and some people fall outside conventional categories’, which received 50%, and 4% answered ‘Don’t know’.

The poll found 57% of female millenials believe gender falls on a spectrum compared to 44% of male respondees. Northeast 18-34 year olds were even more progressive, with 58% agreeing with that statement compared to the South where that number fell to 42%.

The survey comes as more people are coming out as genderfluid and genderqueer, universities offering gender-neutral identity cards & housing options that include ‘other gender-identity room-mate pairings, regardless of biological sex’ and gender-neutral restrooms becoming more and more common.

via Gay Star News, photos by Thiago Antonucci

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Shadow Sex – Boy, Girl & Beyond

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In November, 18-year-old Sasha Fleischman was set on fire by a teenager after falling asleep during the bus ride home. The assault resulted in third-degree burns and several surgeries. Sasha’s “crime”? Presenting as a boy while dressing in traditionally feminine clothing.

Born Luke Fleischman, the American teen wore a skirt for the first time to school sophomore year. Soon after, Fleischman started questioning the binary definitions of gender, and has since identified as agender, preferring to use the pronouns “they” and “them.”

Fleischman’s story made national headlines and led to a broader conversation about gender-identity issues. Now the teen, who expressed hope that their 16-year-old attacker would not be prosecuted as an adult, was also featured in a photo project by LA-based photographer Chloe Aftel.

Hoping to raise awareness of this diverse, often-overlooked community, San Francisco magazine published Aftel’s photos in an attempt to shed light on what it means to be a gender-fluid teen in the wake of Fleischman’s attack.

genderqueer-sasha

Comprised mostly of young people, the San Franciscans in the series use umbrella terms like “genderqueer” and “nonbinary,” Rachele Kanigel explained in San Francisco magazine’s story accompanying the photo series. “This growing community encompasses people who see themselves as agender (neither male nor female), bi-gender (both genders) and gender-fluid (shifting from male to female).”

But the agender community shares more than just an affinity for plural pronouns. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the most extensive study of its kind, 78% of gender non-conforming people face harassment at school, 90% suffer mistreatment at work and 53% experience being verbally disrespected in a public place.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming people face injustice at every turn: in childhood homes, in school systems that promise to shelter and educate, in harsh and exclusionary workplaces, at the grocery store, the hotel front desk, in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, before judges and at the hands of landlords, police officers, health care workers and other service providers,” the report says.

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