Hoppin’ Against Homophobia and Transphobia

AND WE HAVE A WINNER of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of 1 of my books! Lisa W, come on down! YEEE-HA!!!! (Lisa, if you do not have an email message from me, check your spam filter)

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Thanks for the comments and thanks to those authors who participated in this hop. Happy reading, happy writing.

Hi, peeps. And hello, newcomers. Thanks for joining me today, which is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

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I agreed to join in the (Blog) Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is going on from May 17-27 on various blogs. I hope you’ll go and check out the others, too, to get an array of perspectives on this very important topic (and also to join in on some prize-winnin’!).

This day (commonly acronymed as IDAHO) was launched in 2004. It’s always on May 17th, which is the day in 1990 that the World Health Organization decided to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses/disorders in the International Classification of Diseases. Transgender identity (referred to as transsexualism in the ICD), however, remains in the ICD as a “mental/behavioral disorder,” classified as a gender identity disorder.

Also, for those of you not in the know, I write F/F mysteries, sci fi, and romance, though all of my works generally include an array of characters. You can find out more about me here on my website (click “About”) and you can check out what I write here and here.

And here’s information about the giveaway I’m doing as part of this blog hop:

Answer the following question for a chance to receive a $25 gift card to Amazon.com and 1 copy of any one of my published books. Here’s my book list, which will explain the order of books in my two series (one is mystery, one is science fiction).

Here’s your question: Who is Alysia Yeoh? Give me a little bit of a reason as to why she might be considered important.

Put your answer in a comment on this post. Please include an actual, working email address when you fill out the comment form. Do NOT include your email address in the comment body, to avoid spam bots. Don’t worry. My little merry blog elves will make sure I get your email address. NOTE: I will notify the winner within 30 minutes of the drawing. If you do not hear from me, CHECK YOUR SPAM FILTER. Thank yuh. Thank yuh ver-uh much. 😀

I’ll draw the winner randomly from all the correct answers on May 27th, 9 PM EST (US). Have fun!

All right. So let’s get global…

One of the things that I’ve been following closely for a while, now, is homophobia and transphobia overseas. I’m based in the U.S., so you have a point of reference there. And I absolutely am not saying that homophobia and transphobia don’t exist here in the States. It does, but I think sometimes we as Americans forget that there’s a world out there, and that LGBTQI people are suffering in other parts of the world, too, that they’re brutally raped, tortured, beaten, reviled, and even murdered by members of the communities in which they live.

At least 75 countries still criminalize consensual sex between adults of the same sex, and it wasn’t that long ago even in the U.S. that sodomy laws (which invariably target LGBTQI people) were on the books. In some states, they remain on the books, though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned them federally in 2003.

source: theagenda.tvo (re-sized here)

The criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships and sex forces a host of problems onto LGBTQI people, which are often compounded — sadly — by people in the faith community (local and from the U.S.) who parrot and spread vicious anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric to their congregations. An airborne toxin, that rhetoric filters down through layers of societies, feeding on fear and ignorance and exploding into acts of horrific violence against LGBTQI people. And even in a country like South Africa, that included sexual orientation and thus marriage equality in its 1996 constitution, a wave of so-called corrective rape against lesbians (in a vile attempt to “make them straight”) and other types of violence directed at LGBTQI people and those perceived to be LGBTQI has swept that country.

And let’s not forget Uganda, influenced by American evangelical figures considered fringe in this country who helped influence the 2009 anti-gay bill that added even stricter punishments to extant anti-sodomy and anti-gay laws. Death in some instances, life imprisonment in others, prison for those who do not report LGBTQI people to police. The bill has yet to pass, but the rhetoric and violence stirred in its wake have killed and injured many Ugandan LGBTQI people.

Currently, Zambia is in the midst of a wave of unprecedented anti-gay sentiment and arrests, ostensibly fueled by political and religious leaders, the latter calling to “cage gays”. AIDS activist Paul Kasonkomona was arrested and is currently incarcerated, allegedly awaiting trial.

And in Belize, the trial began last week in a lawsuit filed that challenges the anti-gay sodomy statute in the Belizean constitution. Belizean society is virulently homo- and transphobic, and it is not unusual to see derogatory terms for LGBTQI people used in local newspapers. The gentleman who brought the lawsuit, and no doubt many other Belizean LGBTQI people, have faced an outpouring of violence, especially since the trial started. And in case you wondered, Belizean law includes a statute that bans gay people from entering the country.

Let’s not forget Russia. Last week, a young man came out to drinking buddies, who then beat him, raped him with bottles, and killed him. Currently, several regions and cities in Russia have either passed or are considering passing laws that forbid so-called “homosexual propaganda.” That is, anything that basically mentions homosexuality in any context. Russian LGBTQI people get no help from police, who often ignore violence against them or even participate in it.

Lest you think that other European countries are more “civilized,” I remind you here of the massive anti-gay protest movement in France, spearheaded by the virulently anti-gay group Manif pour tous, whose leaders vowed “there will be blood” if marriage equality passed. It did pass, and there had already been blood, as France has been wracked by a wave of homophobic violence prior to and since the bill’s passage, stoked not only by those in Manif pour tous, but also religious authorities.

These are the realities that LGBTQI people face every day, in many parts of the world. Homophobia and transphobia kill, hurt, maim. They cause terrible fear, which prevents people from getting medical care and/or education they need, because they can’t afford to reveal anything about themselves to healthcare professionals. This can lead to increasing rates of HIV/AIDS and further problems for transgender people who may need healthcare. Homophobia and transphobia force people to deny who they are, to live under a cloak of secrecy that adds to the personal and institutional layers of oppression and psychological burdens that they must carry every day. It causes families to reject their sons and daughters, and poisons social situations and workplaces. It can be brutal or insidious, and the damage it leaves behind remains visible in lifelong scars both physical and emotional.

Let us not forget, thus, that in the midst of victories, both here and abroad, that our work is not finished. Let us not forget that even with new initiatives here and at the UN and abroad to acknowledge that human rights include LGBTQI rights, that millions of people still face terrible things every day because of who they are. Let us not forget that there is always work to be done, that we are not operating in a vacuum, and that ours are not the only voices in this struggle. Let us celebrate our victories, remember those who are no longer with us, and let us carry on in their honor, and in honor of the generations behind us.

Thank you for spending this day — and this week — with us at the blog hop against homophobia and transphobia.

Some links you might find useful:

Erasing 76 Crimes: great site with information about anti-gay laws around the world, and updates about anti-gay and anti-trans violence around the world.

Human Dignity Trust: organization in the UK that is targeting anti-sodomy statutes in Commonwealth nations through lawsuits

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Association: worldwide info about issues that are affecting LGBTQI people in various countries. Also provides a report on the anti-gay statutes in different countries.

And this gem, recently released: UN Human Rights Commission’s 2-minute spot against homophobia. Watch it HERE and share the love.

And here. Go visit others who are participating in this blog hop:

47 thoughts on “Hoppin’ Against Homophobia and Transphobia

  1. As I often say, it’s so much easier to love than to hate. If people put as much mental and physical energy into helping others as they do into hating them and hurting them for being different, imagine what a better place this would be.

  2. Those stats are rather depressing. It’s going to take me a little time to go over that map (and at my age I need a larger one).

    Let’s get back to Alysia Yeoh. why is she important? Well for starters I almost made her the subject of my post today, but figured I should start with the reasons I joined this hop first! More specifically she is the first openly transgender woman in comics. She is Barbara Gordon’s (Batgirl) roomate. The editors of DC really did her a good service. They put her “outing” in the same panel of Babs explaining why she wasn’t in a wheelchair anymore. Something Bat-fans have been waiting a year and half to find out. Alysia’s statement to Babs was about the ONLY thing that could have taken the thunder out of “hey this is why I am not in a wheelchair anymore…” Babs of course, being who she is, accepted her on the spot with a hug.

    Glad to be in this hop with you!

    Tim Brannan

    • Hi, Tim–thanks for stopping by and playing in the prize thingie! Also, if you click the source of the map (I put a link there), you can go to their version and click it and it’ll be bigger.

      Thanks for hoppin’!

  3. Pingback: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia | Women and Words

  4. Thanks for participating in the hop and hosting the contest!

    Alysia Yeoh is the transgender (I think?) roommate of Batgirl. I think she was important to expose readers who typically wouldn’t seek out LGBT literature to someone with an “alternative” lifestyle. It’s a step towards promoting tolerance and acceptance in the mainstream.

    The reports from around the world that you shared in your post are truly horrifying. I wish everyone would just realize that we’re all human beings, and we all deserve respect and compassion.

  5. What an awesome, transglobal post! Speaking of trans, Alysia Yeoh is Batgirl, the first Transgender costumed crime fighter. From DC. THANKS!

  6. I meant Batgirl’s roommate! Not Batgirl herself oops. Although that would be awesome…

  7. I haven’t read a comic book in 35 years..I sure have been missing a lot..never knew there was a transgender character. Might have to start reading them again…

  8. Alysia Yeoh is an LGBT friendly character for DC Comics who is now the roommate of Batgirl.

  9. I had to search out the answer, but I’m definitely interested to discover that Alysia Yeoh is Barbara Gordon’s roomie in the current Batgirl comics. Sounds like her coming out was pretty understated too.

  10. I will confess I’m cheating here, because I had no idea who Alyisa Yeoh is. She is the first openly transgendered person in comics, batgirls roomate. Really just wanted to stop by and thank you for posting about the blog hop, and posting the links. It is an important issue for all of us, looking forward to reading as many as I can.

  11. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog post…no, it’s more a post…this wonderful piece of activism. And now a request (which is totally wrong since I just “met” you). Is there anything I could do to help you promote this event? I am also an author (relatively knew to the world of publication). I recently received a review that accused my work of being transphobic. I felt terrible, since I am passionate advocate for equality across the LBGT spectrum, but I understand that readers will not necessarily see the same things in my work that I see. I can live with that. But since then I’ve been looking for a chance to show my support of the trans community.

  12. Pingback: Hoppin’ Against Homophobia and Transphobia | Karelia Stetz-Waters

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  14. Wow! Andi thank you so much for sharing this information and increasing my awareness. My partner and I always talk about traveling during retirement and where I was thinking the world was getting more friendly and accepting there are still places where we need to be more aware. Not that it will keep us from our trips, but we get so comfortable in our homes and in our communities that we (I) sometimes forget hate is still out there and we need to be conscious of it. I also loved the fact that you got me Googling Alysia Yeoh and found out something fun! The first transgendered character introduced into a comic. She came out in Batgirl and is Barbara Gordon’s roommate.

  15. I think I need to make me some dinner – you can only take so much depressing statistics on an empty stomach add rainy gray weather and everything is peachy.. I’ve been hopping for a bit now and really all those statistics just make me sad and angry and confused and mad and then I think of all the other statistics that show un-equality and then I just give up because it’s too much. I’m an emotional person I do protect my friends and family but I can’t take on the world… so I will stick to the small things wear my pin, stare down ignorant people ..

    • True. You can’t take on the world. But it’s important to remember that there are others out there who could use some help now and again, and spreading awareness that there are people who are actively working against homophobia and transphobia helps build networks of hope and resources. We’ve come a long way. But the work is not finished. And working locally can help build awareness, too.

  16. That was a very nice post. In answer to your question, Alysia Yeoh is the first mainstream transgender character in a comic book. She is in the Batman series and is roommate’s of Barbara Gordan. She is very important because she highlights transgenders in the media, something that was not previously seen. It highlights great change in the media.

    Thanks for participating in the hop.

  17. I had to google it but Alysia Yeoh is Barbara Gordon’s roommate in the Batgirl comics. Thank you for taking part in the hop!!

  18. That map is quite interesting. While we are making progress in the U.S., it still feels like we have a long way to go. However, looking at things globally, I’m thankful we don’t have the persecution that far too many do. It’s good to keep things in perspective.

    As for Alysia Yeoh, I had to do a little googling. Once I did though, it didn’t surprise me that your trivia was about a comic book character. She is the recently-out transgender roommate of Batgirl. I never got into comic books, but it’s fantastic DC is including a variety of characters to represent the reality of our population.

    • DC is doing some cool things (in spite of hiring Orson Scott Card to write some issues of Superman). The first out lesbian superhero (Batwoman); an out transwoman; hints that a few other characters may be coming out…Marvel, too, is getting in on the game. Northstar proposed to his longtime partner and they got married and Green Lantern recently came out. Comics are kind of a pop culture gauge/reflection in some respects, I think, in addition to being a little bit more forward-thinking in some regards than the culture at large. But it is nice to see what’s going on in many of them. And yes, there are MAJOR issues around the world and sadly, I think there’ll be more violence as more and more LGBTQI people come out. Things are darkest before dawn. But we must persevere, not only for ourselves, but for the generations behind us. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Well that OSC book is not likely to see the light of day with so many people quitting at DC because of it. Sadly we even had some people walk of because DC editors wanted to kill Green Lantern John Stewart; so race is still an issue. John Stewart is African American and maybe one of the best GLs ever.

        Batwoman has been the golden example of what to do right in the new 52 at DC.

  19. I had to goggle this first transsexual comics hero, but at least we have a registered partnership in my country (Czech Republic) and visible personalities out and proud.

  20. Pingback: Link Round Up: May 15 – 21 | The Lesbrary

  21. Alysia Yeoh is the first transgendered comic book character. She is Barbara Gordan’s roommate in the Batgirl comics.Thank you so much for sharing you wonderful post and participating in this amazing hop!

  22. Pingback: Ah, vampires | Andi Marquette

  23. I really love your posts and all the information I get from them Andi.

    Alysia is a great character to put into the comics because she puts a positive face and attitude to transwomen. There is so much misinformation and prejudice running around that having a transwoman in a comic that is just like everyone else (just like in real life imagine that) helps to dispel the inappropriate image.
    I am very happy to see the broadening of the comic characters.

    • Why, thank you, Tami! And thanks for coming by. Much appreciated. I, too, am really glad to see so many interesting and diverse characters in comics. Keep on readin’!

  24. Hi Andi, I enjoyed your very informative blog post. The map is especially interesting.

    I had to do some research to answer your question. I’m not a comic book reader 🙂 Alysia Yeoh is a character in DC Comics Batgirl series. She is Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)’s roommate. Alysia Yeoh is also transgender. I was happy to discover this. I think that it is significant because it’s important to have LGBTQ people represented in mainstream popular culture, as it can help to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people within broader society. It is also important to have mainstream representation for those who already identify as LGBTQ and for younger people who might be questioning.

  25. Thanks so much for sharing your post in this blog hop! Such an important subject. The map and statistics are startling…

  26. Well, Alysia is the first transgender character in a mainstream comic. For me, this is another step in the right direction towards equality. Comics are not only widespread, but are also very influential, especially in teens, so having LGBT characters in comics spreads the message that these are regular people who are just like you and me, they just happen to be LGBT, and that that’s ok. Thanks for letting me know about Alysia, I had no idea about her. Thanks for sharing and participating as well!


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  28. Alysia Yeoh is the first transgender woman in a comic, which is important because it is a start to people realizing being transgender is as normal as being gay, straight, or asexual. People need to be educated since ignorance is what leads to hate. Thank you for the post.

  29. Alysia is the first transgender character in comic books and she was Batgirls roommate.

  30. Ill admit, i have no clue who Alysia Yeoh is. Im not a comic person. I found that she is a character in DC Comics and is a transgender. I think its great that a series was written around her. Its putting the word out and its also someone for people like her to look up too. She represents freedom to me. Shes free to be who she is, she embraces it. I love that! Thanks for sharing!

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