Monday, 29 April 2013

Bi Life... 10 years ago!

I just found an old email, and it turns out that the conference where the "Bisexual Life in Manchester" report was launched was held on 29th September 2003.  Just coming up on ten years ago.


This was the first bit of 'proper' research on bi needs that I did with BiPhoria, as part of a broader LGB&T project for the local Local Strategic Partnership. Qualitative focus group interview palaver, with an enormous amount of transcribing (I'd never done that before) and only a loosely formatted Word document in time for the launch rather than the prettified edition that's on the BiPhoria website.

It planted some of the seeds of The Bisexuality Report, by breaking its findings on bi life and bi needs down into policy areas - youth provision, mental health, employment, housing and so on. It had little immediate impact, though, as in line with Manchester Council policy, the LSP ruled bisexuality to not exist: we kept sending in documents marked LGBT and they kept coming back marked LG.

At about the same time there was the Three Wishes project, which was trying to be a lot more "harvest everyone's ideas" kind of research, rather than digging deep.  That got published in a BCN article or two, but I honestly can't remember any more whether it separated out the Manchester answers from the nationwide ones.

Monday, 22 April 2013

IPS not fit for purpose?

The Identity and Passport Service will not go ahead with the introduction of non-gendered passports, PinkNews reports. This was a proposal whereby people for whom passports tagged as 'male' or 'female' are not appropriate for one reason or another, to have another gender tag option: F, M or X.

It seems that to dodge taking any action, they've knocked up an easily-debunked security problem claim: but who would conduct intimate searches on people whose passports were marked neither M nor F?

Straight out of the Humphrey Appleby textbook.

Now, maybe the IPS honestly don't have anyone suitable on their staff roster. Though if everyone working for IPS is binary-gender identified, cis and non-intersex, then either staffing numbers are even lower than we'd been led to believe, or there is something institutionally wrong in their HR department that they seriously need to look at.

But if checking points already have at least members of the two most popular gender groupings in attendance to conduct such searches, surely we could get moving with giving anyone with an X passport rather than an F or M one the choice of either of the available search agents. Or the possibility of being detained while taken to a place where the staff roster includes someone more suitable for the, ahem, job in hand.

So this one hits the buffers. Simon Hughes MP is annoyed, and I'm disappointed that - as with the same-sex marriage bill - we are still struggling to drag our nation's bureaucracy into the 20th century when its people are living a decent chunk of the way through the 21st.

But... people from countries which do have non-binary-gender passports will continue to come and go through our borders, reflecting that the "but who will do the searches" problem is already there and something they already need to have a solution to, regardless of what options might be available to UKanian passport holders. So actually, there is no security procedure difference, and this is just an opportunity for our nanny state to treat its citizens like dirt.

If this really is what the IPS are going to report, and they intend to then just drop the whole idea and walk away, there are four magic words from the era of the last coalition government to sum it up.  Not. Fit. For. Purpose.

From Jen's Little Book Of Wisdom

Despite the over-used "twice the chance of a date on a Friday night" line*, bisexuals only get the same number of Friday nights as everyone else.

* & thank you so much Woody Allen for saving oodles of people the effort of having to think up their own witticism about the bis.

Monday, 8 April 2013

That Mrs Thatcher

As across the internet tubes we all burble about Margaret Thatcher's death, I tried coming up with the good things she did and there were three or four that immediately sprung to mind(1). Then you go on to the other column and eight or nine things rather than three or four. Mostly bad, but like everyone, and like every government, a bit of a blend.
A lot of what is being attributed to Mrs T today came in under Labour in the 70s - monetarist economics and a selfish short-termist "I'm alright jack" view of wider society. And when she left office we had a nationalised railway network and no such thing as university tuition fees: can you imagine!

But that's the trouble with what's largely social history tied up in the stories we tell ourselves: we all have some idea what Thatcherism was, whereas Callaghan...ism..? No one knows what that might have been. Eleven years of change for better and worse glows bright in the memory in the way that the previous decade of greyness, decline and stagnation - and indeed the next seven years of much the same again - cannot fire the imagination.
And so beware false tales in the mix this week: lots of people will recall that Margaret Thatcher believed that there is "no such thing as society"' - ironically this based on a deliberate malquote of her, where the full context of the phrase was a warning about extremes of selfishness and individualism. A warning that had it been borne in mind by Brown and Blair we might not be quite as deep in the financial doo-doo as we are.
(1) - good things like legalising sex between men in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. Bad things like legislating to make homosexuality a thought crime.  Good things like the trades union reforms in 1980, 82 and 84. Bad things like selling off the social housing stock at a knock-down price and preventing replacements being built. Good things like privatising the phone networks; bad things like privatising the water board.