Why The Individualist Mindset Fails Homeless People

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Why the Individualist Mindset Fails Homeless People”. On the right is the a logo for the blog, ”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

CW mentions of various kinds of bigotry, abuse, death, government abuse, suicide, alcohol mention

Hi all, 

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about my ongoing situation. One of the things she said to me was along the line of “see Milla, this is why the neoliberal idea of individual responsibility [aka the individualist mindset] mostly doesn’t align with human psychology.” Despite not knowing much about psychology, it resonated a lot with me as this was something I realised was the case with me.

What is individual responsibility? 

In a nutshell, it’s basically the idea every person has responsibility for themselves. If they want to get somewhere, they have to work hard for it, and they will get there. In other words, the more somebody works to achieve their goals, the more successful they are in theory. They will have more money and more success as everybody has equal opportunities. It doesn’t work like that in reality as it ignores how bigotry and stereotypes harm marginalised people, likewise how capitalism is not fair to anyone without money. 

It also ignores an essential aspect of human diversity. Some people simply do need help to achieve things, no matter how responsible they are or how much initiative they take. Humans are more interdependent on each other than autonomous beings, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It ignores the fact some humans initially need help to do things that they can do more autonomously in the long run. This is also a key belief that is part of the disability rights movement.

Applying this to homelessness

An excellent example of this is homelessness, which is one of the many tricky situations where “individual responsibility” will not help people resolve them.

Homeless people are often scared and traumatised and also do not have the money or connections to house themselves. Many of them are also more likely to be marginalised such as being disabled, LGBTQ+ or addicted to drugs/alcohol. All of these are structural issues that cannot be solved simply by individuals making decisions. They can only be solved through government policy and accurate knowledge that is passed down through training. 

This reality contradicts the predominant messaging that says people need to take individual responsibility, Hence. What this message actually is saying is that systematic issues are not something that governments and broader society want or should take responsibility for. 

Individual responsibility will not stop autistic meltdowns, which are caused by the environment around an autistic person that they cannot control. This lack of understanding by providers is something that makes many services dangerous for autistic people, including homeless accommodation.

Individual responsibility won’t stop the fact that even if people try their best to save money, they are still being underpaid, to begin with. Hence, they may have to resort to things like sex work, moonlighting and petty theft just to survive.

Individual responsibility will not stop the overwhelming urges to continue dangerous habits due to the cycle of dependency and the lack of access to support to recover.

Individual responsibility will not prevent the various kinds of bigotry that makes people homeless.

Here is a very blunt meme to set the scene for what I’m about to say next: 

Personal experience

As somebody who has been failed due to this mindset for many months, it upsets me how much this mindset is rampant in services and government. I tried very fucking hard to get housed and was autonomous as much as possible, and it would never be enough.  I know first hand this mindset does not help.

  • I pre-emptively reached out to a lot of support in good faith and expected to eventually get what I needed. 
  • I pushed my limits as an autistic person by working full time and commuting for hours a day, which was unsustainable but was only done due to the deteriorating situation. 
  • I fled for my life from a familiar, yet unsafe environment with no plan aside from a place to sleep that night because time ran out.
  • I persisted chasing up people (who didn’t actually care for my wellbeing) as best as I can. 
  • I continued dealing with toxic people who I used to trust because I left them with no warning, and they still had most of my belongings. 
  • I repeatedly got the police off my back because I didn’t trust them period – even when free legal advice was offered. 
  • I dealt with identifying burnout and trauma triggers and began to learn coping mechanisms to not harm those around me, as l began to come to terms with 20 plus years of childhood abuse. 

Most importantly, I fled up north to an entirely new area because I was failed so badly by services down south.  This was because I realised I was not going to get help because people assumed:

  • I could get housed myself at the age of 23
  • I had friends and family I could move in with
  • could process lots of resources and act on them despite being in a state of trauma which makes processing info impossible
  • It was OK to gatekeep me for any reason, as due to being disabled I’d be more likely to give up
  • They were ok with my trauma being prolonged as they didn’t care for my welfare as they weren’t responsible for it (even if it was fatal).
  • They were just outright prejudiced against disabled and/or transgender people.

The silver lining

On the bright side, I’ve grown so much from my experiences and shattered my own expectations. I lived like somebody my age (minus the homelessness) for the first time in my life. I lived as myself. I’ve transitioned as much as I can. I’ve found somewhere I can call home until it’s time for me to emigrate off this island. I’m able to reach out into the community.

However, I shouldn’t have had to do it in such awful circumstances and worsened by services to the point where my trust for services has been completely destroyed. The cliff edge between education and work is real for any disabled person. Still, for me, it was unnecessarily steep to the point where my trust in services has been destroyed. I won’t reach out for help going forward if I don’t have to.

With all the above said, please bear it in mind I address how this mindset from services leads to harm.

How individualism affects the operation of services

Services that are driven an individualist approach that is not fit for purpose, and other related ideas, namely that:

  • Somebody who doesn’t accept whatever is offered or get on their knees and begs for it (literally and metaphorically) is not trying hard enough
  • Service users are meant to keep going around and asking people to help until somebody agrees to help or wait several times.
  • People should tell their life story to each service they engage for the chance that they may offer help. In reality, they’ll often reject people for no good reason and never deal with them again.

I elaborated on the above points in more details in this article.

All of this sustained, relentless trauma would be hard for any survivor. However, for multiply marginalised survivors, it is even more challenging to deal with. It stops people reaching out for help which is often the only option left to protect their mental health. That’s not refusing to take responsibility for their life, that’s protecting themselves from further harm – there is a huge difference.

However, as these services are influenced by the individualist mindset, they would blame the service users (usually partially, but often entirely). “She stopped contacting us? Guess she didn’t need us after all LOL,” they say, not acknowledging that they ejected her in the first place with no chance of appeal. Or, “guess he’s finally taken responsibility for himself, glad he is off our list” when he managed to learn coping mechanisms for himself that may or may not be healthy, such as drinking alcohol daily.

Alternatively, the most dismissive prospective is “the fact they’ve stopped reaching out means they obviously didn’t try hard enough, and thus doesn’t deserve our support AHAHAHAHAHA.” When in reality, people who disengage from shitty services are taking individual responsibility for their welfare because these services have no interest in doing so.

Or, to take the good faith approach for the sake of balance, they are so overworked they lose track of their clients or can’t allocate support for everyone. That said, even when there are funding constraints, bigoty and individualism persist.

Services are meant to help people. And that requires a collectivist mindset, which is the precise opposite of what services provide. It is only now I can get support from LGBTQ+ oriented services regarding both housing and employment. The collectivist support prior to this came from people who knew me personally, such as those who offered me a place to stay, for example. In other words – socialism. 

Individualism in a wider UK political context

I’ve had lots of thoughts about social class in the UK, which I will ramble about at length in another post. Still, a key point relevant to this is that the individual responsibility mindset means that solidarity in the UK doesn’t exist on a societal level. Services and authorities don’t consider it on a massive scale, and even if they did, the funding just isn’t there nor accurate understanding of service users. People are being sent on their way to deal with their problems themselves with no regard for the consequences. For many of the most vulnerable and marginalised people, this is a death sentence. 

For the majority of people in England primarily, they are complicit in the state-sanctioned murder of marginalised people (whom die largely due to mistreatment by services from all sectors). Even if they say otherwise, that’s what their actions show. Their actions are rooted in political apathy (or if they aren’t apathetic, they support the pushers of this mindset – Blairites, Starmites, centrists, conservatives and fascists). Both apathy and political participation from these people embody the individual responsibility mindset.

Much of this is due to brainwashing over decades of right-wing government policy (including New Labour, who were right wing), meaning that they distance themselves from those that have been failed the most by society and refuse to face reality. Usually they say nothing, but can also manifest through laughing at them over reality TV shows like Big Brother and The Jeremy Kyle Show in the guise of entertainment. Hence, the vast majority of complicit people do not realise that this internalised feeling of alienation from them is harmful. As it is, The Jeremy Kyle Show was finally cancelled in 2019 but only after a former guest took their own life.

However, intentions don’t negate the impact. The number of homeless people on the streets begging for change in the UK embodies this. A minority of them actually prefer to stay homeless due to being failed by services. Instead, they find it easier to live a life on the streets than try to get back into employment and secure housing. For them, it’s too distressing and traumatic to adjust back out of this. I never slept street homeless so won’t elaborate on this further, but I will state that services will never accept responsibility for forcing those people into that position.

If it wasn’t for individuals with a collectivist mindset who helped me – likewise a relocation up to another part of the country where more services helped me – I would have died months ago. My future now is looking bright – it’s not perfect, but compared to a year ago it is a vast improvement. I was one of the lucky ones.

The importance of fostering collectivism

It’s essential to not forget those who aren’t so lucky nor privileged. That means trying to foster solidarity with other people and a collectivist mindset. This is much easier said than done, especially in a country where political apathy, tone policing and ad hominem attacks are rampant partially due to the individualist mindset. Likewise, those who are so used to an individualist society around them, adjusting in such a way will be difficult. It is challenging for me – as it is complicated by a lifetime of trauma and internalised bigotry I am still unpacking. This is especially important for services whom are often the last line of support for those that have no one else to turn to.

Do it for those that have died – and will die – as a result of society failing them. Even if only for yourself – after all, dear reader, could be made homeless at any time.

Milla xx

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On Liz Truss, The GRA Reforms + Confirmation Bias

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “On Liz Truss, the GRA Reforms & Confirmation Bias”. On the right is the a logo for the blog, ”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

CW transphobia, terfs, fascism mention, pathologisation and domestic abuse mention, ableism

Hi all, 

So, as you will almost certainly be aware, the UK government finally released the long-awaited outcome to the GRA reforms for England Wales and Northern Ireland first planned years ago. In a nutshell, it will get a bit cheaper, it will move online, there will be no rollbacks like was feared in the past, but ultimately the main point of the reforms (depathologising it and making the process more humane) will not be happening. You can read the paper here. 

I have a lot of thoughts now the dust has settled a bit, and seeing as I have not done a post on this blog addressing the GRA exclusively due to my stressful situation, now is the time to do so. Specifically, the broader context going on out of public view that has emerged this week.

Let’s talk about context

Shortly after the government finally published the consultation results, there was a blog post put up by Crispin Blunt, a Tory MP. He heads the multi-party LGBT group in the Houses of Parliament explaining some of the events that happened in Parliament regarding the reforms.

Here is the most relevant extract: 

I regret that the considerable work done in privately agreeing a way forward by the wider LGBT+ lobby both in Parliament and outside, to deliver respect and reassurance around the position of trans people in the UK meeting square on the anxieties of some cisgender women around single-sex spaces for example, and the quality of relationship and sex education in schools, was not adopted by the Government, and does not appear to have been properly understood. It is certainly seems to me that the Minister for Women and Equality’s own appointed LGBT+ advisers and those that serve in the Government Equalities Office have also had their advice disregarded.

I am now releasing the private paper that was agreed by the Officers of the APPG on 8th July 2020. The paper was shared with all the political parties’ own LGBT+ Groups and was discussed fully with the relevant civil society groups. Whilst different organisations had their own order of policy priorities for trans people, it was agreed that the APPG position paper, in light of the government’s apparent position, would represent a satisfactory outcome to the consultation. The paper was offered privately to the government in the wake of the anxieties set off by the Secretary of State when she appeared before the Women and Equalities Select Committee on 22nd April 2020.

Crispin Blunt, Tory MP for Ramsgate and Head of the All Party Parliamentary Group for LGBTQ+ Rights

Firstly, there was lobbying going on after all. A lot of LGBT organisations were claiming behind the scenes stuff is happening with the UK government. However, with the lack of physical evidence available publicly for trans folk to read, it was hard to believe, and it felt nobody was on the side of trans people. After all, that is why people protested. So I’m glad there was confirmation of this existence and some detail.

This was written as a reaction to both the consultation and the statement Liz Truss had written to Parliament (you can read that here). This statement not only showed that in the eyes of the Government it was a low priority matter, but it was also quite telling about Truss’s mindset. For example:

“We have also come to understand that gender recognition reform, though supported in the consultation undertaken by the last government, is not the top priority for transgender people. Perhaps their most important concern is the state of trans healthcare. Trans people tell us that waiting lists at NHS gender clinics are too long. I agree, and I am deeply concerned at the distress it can cause.” 

Liz Truss

In other words – you can have healthcare or self-ID, you can’t have both (even though this binary X or Y is a false choice. It also misrepresents the actual new gender clinic announcement, which was decided long before today. One of these, the Indigo Gender Service, got formally announced this week as well, which I will blog about another time when a bit more is known about it.

“Britain leads the world as a country where everybody is able to lead their life freely and treated with respect and that, for many years, transgender people have been widely accepted in British society; able to use facilities of their chosen gender; and able to participate fully in modern life. 

At the heart of this is the principle of individual liberty. Our philosophy is that a person’s character, your ideas, and your work ethic trumps the colour of your skin or your biological sex. We firmly believe that neither biology nor gender is destiny.”

Liz Truss again

This is gaslighting (with terf dogwhistles included) and shows Truss hasn’t engaged with the issue properly, nor wants to see legitimate structural barriers that harm transgender people. At best, they are just empty platitudes designed to cater to the uninformed and privileged majority that wouldn’t grasp the underlying harm first hand. People want to feel comfortable and reassured that the government are doing the right thing. Hence, statements like this will work on many of its readers and politicians add them for this purpose. It’s a psychological trick. However, there is more to the story. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. 

I’ve long believed the Gender Recognition Act misrepresentation and bad faith debating of a political issue the average voter doesn’t know much about was Brexit style discourse on a smaller scale. These actions only reinforce this. With the above evidence combined with the results from the consultation, it clearly shows the government’s minimal efforts are rooted primarily in trying to please both the transgender community and terfs. This is fundamentally impossible, because one side supports human rights and science, the other side is bigotry and fascism. Now the average understanding of transgender issues by the public has been reduced as a result. This had led to genuine fears as a result of misinformation and a view that transgender issues are complicated when they aren’t.

Additionally, evidence shows Liz has lied about which groups she has been meeting regarding the GRA. Namely that she did not meet the LGBT Consortium and Trans Media Watch like she claimed and instead only listened to anti-trans hate groups. The Consortium person was just a staff member that was vaguely associated with them. She did meet the Heritage Foundation, a significant driver of the anti-trans movement, in August 2019, as part of her role as Trade Secretary, so it’s likely she talked to them about transgender rights. Her behaviours show she is hiding something so so she has little credibility at this point.

Here is an extract from Baroness Liz Barker, a Lib Dem House of Lords peer, from her speech accusing Liz Truss of this, who said that: 

“[Liz Truss] should come clean, admit that she’s not met with anyone who would be affected by the reforms she has rejected, and address any bias in who she has met. “…This is not an appropriate way for a government minister to behave.” 

Baroness Liz Barker, Liberal Democrats Houses of Lords Member

What Barker is referring to there is when Liz Truss had an Urgent Question session regarding her behaviour around announcing the GRA reforms. This was also put forward by Crispin Blunt which was a good thing to do. Releasing a statement the way she did wasn’t good enough. As for the Urgent Question session, you can read that here or watch that here.

However, Liz shared nothing new or reassuring. All her responses to very valid questions by MPs across the whole political spectrum were repeating contents of the Parliamentary statement I already picked apart earlier. It was one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever watched and considering how evil the Tories are usually, that says a lot. 

Why this is a classic example of confirmation bias 

It is becomingly increasingly clear that Liz Truss isn’t fit to be an MP, let alone the women and equalities minister in charge of reforming an act of law affecting a marginalised group. She has been only seeking out supporting evidence that matches her own anti-trans perspective and refusing to entertain the lived experience of trans people.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees with me!” these people say, purposely omitting the fact that they’ve actively chosen to only speak with people that do and excluding anybody who doesn’t. Only after the transphobe finishes their “consulting” and the people purposely silenced speak out, it becomes clear that said bias was so intense it made the consulting a lost cause all along. To them, the idea of consulting was a lie.

Transphobes will do anything to validate their inaccurate and scientifically invalid perspectives even if it means excluding pro-LGBT people from the conversation. They don’t care about the consequences on trans people even though legal recognition would help protect us from discrimination, homelessness and abuse, among other things. You cannot get transphobes to suddenly come round unless they were already coming round on their own accord and needed an excuse to show this with others.

Therefore, it’s not “Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees with me!”, instead “Everyone I’ve spoken to and have not challenged my views and made me uncomfortable agrees with me.”  

This is also something I can corroborate from my own experience as this behaviour was something my transphobic relatives did despite my best attempts to get them to come round. Hence, as a trans person with lived experience, when I think of Liz Truss after considering all the above, that is what I see.

Liz Truss is a danger to not just the trans community, but any marginalised group in general. That includes cis women as well. She is not fit to be women and equalities minister nor trade secretary (as organising trade deals that are harmful to the UK will affect cis women and marginalised people more, such as higher tariffs on food). She is not even fit to be an MP, and Liz needs to be removed from Parliament immediately. 

With all the above considered, it’s no wonder she purposely chose to do what she did. She chose to discard the results of the consultation, claim it was hijacked by trans people and push anti-trans rhetoric.

The claim trans people hijacked the consultation is untrue. This was debunked by Nottingham Trent University, of which the Equalities Office had contracted to analyse the results ages ago. Also, the 70% statistic said in the news as the number of respondents supporting self-ID was fake. Nottingham Trent University said this number did not exist in the consultation results. The actual number was much higher, and I suspect Truss made it up herself as she likely leaked the initial plans to the press back in June 2020.

Hence, the consultation paper was little more than an inconvenience to this confirmation bias and must be omitted on purpose. It doesn’t fit the narrative Liz wants to craft, hence is why she has treated these reforms the way she has. Speaking of the results, they included highlights such as: 

“Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64.1%) said that there should not be a requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in the future, with just over a third (35.9%) saying that this requirement should be retained.” 

“Around 4 in 5 (80.3%) respondents were in favour of removing the requirement for a medical report, which details all treatment received.” 

“A majority of respondents (78.6%) were in favour of removing the requirement for individuals to provide evidence of having lived in their acquired gender for a period of time.” 

“The majority of respondents (83.5%) were in favour of retaining the statutory declaration requirement of the gender recognition system. Of those who were in favour of retaining the declaration, around half (52.8%) did not agree with the current declaration wording that the applicant intends to “live permanently in the acquired gender until death”.” 

Extracts from the summary section of the GRA 2004 reform consultation paper

On a wider note, this situation also sums up politics in the UK today. You can have all the statistical evidence on your side and the backing of many credible experts. Still, if the person in charge of making the final decision is a bigot consumed by validating their bigotry, it doesn’t matter. Ad hominem attacks, gaslighting and misrepresentation of arguments are given equal standing and purposely chosen. This isn’t just limited to gender recognition.

Where do we go from here? 

Trans people like myself are tired of the relentless, institutional transphobia that has stemmed from the UK media and far-right groups as a result of the government not nipping it in the bud. This failure did influence the consultation and media coverage over it, turning what should have been a simple administrative change into a culture war battleground that does little more than terrorising marginalised people. Fear leads to us wary of engaging services for fear they will reject us due to pressure or brainwashing put on them by terfs. This is likely what happened to me when I first tried to flee domestic abuse last year.

I’m glad Nottingham Trent highlighted the intersection between autistic people and trans people in the consultation, specifically concerning gatekeeping and having their gender identity invalidated because they’re autistic. This was so important to mention as it shows more needs to be done on an intersectional basis, likewise an accessibility one. Also, the move to online and the cost reduction are the right moves as well on their own merits (but not by themselves).

Terfs genuinely think that self-ID has been defeated by the UK government when this is far from the case and shows how little they know about transgender people. Trans people can update every other document much more quickly and efficiently than the GRA. Likewise, trans people can access spaces much more often than transphobes will ever accept. Hence, transgender rights will eventually be victorious regardless of what bigots say, including self-ID for birth certificates (that isn’t even a valid form of ID).

To achieve that, there will be many things that the trans community and UK government bodies need to act on, specifically: 

  • getting Liz Truss sacked as equalities minister 
  • reforming trans healthcare so it’s fit for purpose 
  • combatting transphobia in broader society, including in the media 
  • ensuring the public have accurate information on transgender issues, specifically for trans kids and the law 
  • reforming the GRA 2004 properly as shown in the consultation
  • ensure non-binary people have legal recognition 
  • protecting trans kids
  • get gender critical feminism decreed to be hate speech 
  • improving the Equality Act 2010 to not only be more inclusive of nonbinary people but also strictly clarify (or ideally remove) the legitimate aim exception not to allow providers to discriminate against trans people 

I’m sure there’s many more, but you get the point. 

Considering the circumstances, I can personally deal with this outcome despite the huge disappointment. Not because I don’t believe the Act shouldn’t be reformed (far from it), but because the result could easily have been far worse. I am glad that rights weren’t rolled back and, in some ways, progressed forward, but this mess was still avoidable and fixable before Boris Johnson became prime minister.  

The GRA needs to be left alone until after the government has sacked Liz Truss at the very least. Nobody should trust the most fascist and intentionally malicious Tory party with reforming it correctly even if they intended to. Hence, if reforms do happen under this administration, there would need to be cross-party involvement.

That’s all for today, 

Milla xx 

PS I recently set up a crowd funder to help kickstart my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 

Why the End of Bigoted “Checks and Balances” is Inevitable

Featured image description: White text on a pink background saying the blogpost title of “Why the End of Bigoted “Checks and Balances” is Inevitable”. To the right is the blog name in purple text as well as the logo (a golden neurodiversity symbol on top of a black trans symbol).

CW for transphobia, brief examples of bigotry impacting many other minority groups (no detail)

Hi all,

I’m writing today’s post to talk about something important after recent news. Namely, around the concept of “checks and balances” which is one of the anti-trans dog whistles that was used by Liz Truss in her first Women’s Equality & Human Rights Committee meeting in April 2020. It was then reinforced in a leaked report in the June 14th, 2020 issue of the Sunday Times. The original quote from the meeting is as follows:

“…making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, while maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.”

The usage of “checks and balances” here underpins a lot of fundamental issues that are not just limited to transgender rights. Hence I’m going to explain why this impacts everybody and what to do about it.

It implies the myth that we aren’t all human or worthy of respect, despite the precise opposite being the case.

We are all human and broadly have similar desires and needs. We all desire a good quality of life in whatever forms that each of us wants. We all need access to the resources that will help us get to a good position that satisfies us. We all have human rights and dignity that we are entitled to – and deserve.

A lot of privileged people don’t realise this on a deep level about minority groups, mainly because they’ve been unknowingly conditioned to think that way. Whether it’s the erasure of British colonial history (leading to many denying the UK is racist) to transgender people labelled as predatory and dangerous by the media, the undertones of “us vs them,” “normal vs abnormal” and “familiar vs strange” exist. When if all of this is put aside, we are all human and possess much deeper commonalities then we think.

It implies that restrictions will be put in place, even if broader society denies this.

This is the result of the implications set above. The “checks and balances” reinforce people’s misguided perceptions of abnormality in minority groups. It is an approach intended to restrict freedom and encourage conformity, “checking” that people are adhering to their wishes while trying to “balance” the reaction to stop the masses realising it’s discrimination.
Of course, this does have consequences:

  • For trans people, it means having to convince cisgender people to agree with them that they are their gender  (which is very dehumanising and is why the GRA and NHS trans pathways aren’t fit for purpose).

  • For disabled people, it means constant hostility from the state who run on the assumption that social security fraud is rampant and people must not cost the state anything, regardless of the outcome on disabled people.

  • For homeless people, it means having to continually to prove that they are “really homeless” and nobody else can help them due to artificially constrained supply of both housing and support for addressing issues.

These kind of issues apply to every minority in some form even if they aren’t directly targeted by certain “checks and balances” agendas (ie. Systematic racism, migrants from abroad). At the time of writing though, trans people are the target with the dogwhistle “checks and balances” to signify this.

The idea that “checks and balances” can be put in place to regulate minority groups for any length of time highlights one of the fundamental flaws with conservative ideology. Change is inevitable.

In the past, a lot of things Westerners take for granted today were not standard in the past and our ancestors had to fight for them. Examples include women being able to vote, decriminalising homosexuality and abolishing slavery. These weren’t given to us, we had to fight for them.

Conservatives are the gatekeepers of these rights and only because they have more influential power in the world, but are vulnerable when collective action is taken. Previous generations fought for change, and we got it – and this did include violence and riots.

Of course, the fight isn’t over. Voter suppression still happens, trans rights are under attack, and systematic racism is far and wide (hence the current Black Lives Matter movement). This is before mentioning how many rights Westerners have are non-existent in former European colonies to this day. This is due to said conservative colonialists forcing their “checks and balances” across the world.

We will win, but we have to work for it.

The status quo cannot be upheld forever. It is simply not possible. The “checks and balances” that are standard now to suppress minorities will destroy itself naturally as more people begin to understand that we are human. This includes many of those that initially enforced said “checks and balances” in the first place.

But that does mean we have to get political such as – sending letters to political figures, running campaigns, spread accurate information on and offline as well as taking to the streets and get allies on board. It will be worth the struggle.

Milla xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!

Leave A Light On – A Brexit Day Ramble

(Featured image description: A candle burning.)

Content warnings for: mention of abusive UK government policies, mentions of, including a list, of various forms of bigotry (no detail), colonialism, fascism

Hi all,

Today the UK will officially leave the EU. I’ve had a lot of feelings over it all – mainly bitterness most recently which led to my writer’s block. I’m gonna elaborate on my thoughts a bit more – firstly because of self-care but also to hopefully illustrate those outside the UK just how dire the situation is.

There were many reasons why – and I try not to get political in my blog outside of my main topics – but I’d like to elaborate now that the time is right.

Confirmation of many forms of internalised bigotry

Brexit from the start is a far-right project being pushed by bigots and vulture capitalists hoping to asset strip a ruined UK. This only became more obvious over time as the racists came out of the woodwork and the country became more toxic. The most obvious targets for this are anybody deemed seen as foreign but this especially applies to:

  • People of colour (points at Windrush)
  • EU/EEA citizens
  • Women
  • LGBTQ+ people
  • Trans people (points at UK mainstream media and GIC waiting times)
  • Disabled people (points at UN report of Tory austerity)
  • Autistic people (points at ATU crisis)
  • Jewish people
  • Muslims
  • Anyone else who supports globalism and progressive politicxs

For the world, this brought to the centre what many had long believed – that the UK is a deeply bigoted country that won’t come to terms with this reality. This especially applies to racism and the UK’s history as a colonial power which also isn’t taught in schools here. However other systematic biases like sexism and ableism are also ignored.

Many British people are also implicitly xenophobic having closed their minds off to other cultures and backgrounds – even on their own continent. This clearly shows how fewer people in the UK take advantage of the many freedoms globalisation has to offer when they can get access to it.

It is also equally baffling to outsiders because they can see things clearly where British people can’t. It’s similar to American gun culture where the world sees the lack of gun control in the USA as a problem and many Americans themselves do not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with people from around the world about Brexit with them making comments implying confusion at what we’ve voted for. Brexit destroys the positive image the UK once had and overall this is a very good thing. Because now it means British people can start cleaning up their act which leads me to…

Most people were not informed enough

This is by far the biggest source of frustration for me. You’d think after four years people would have woke up and realised that the Brexit they were promised is all lies, but no far from it. Many people refuse to accept they are misinformed and in my experience has led to a lot of ad hominem attacks and a lot of stress.

Thing is, I’m not even mad at more informed people who voted Leave in 2016 by default because there are valid criticisms of the EU (such as it’s racist immigration policy towards refugees as well as how they handled Greece’s financial woes). There are legit reasons to want to leave the EU not based on lies and anybody claiming the EU is perfect is lying.

Hence I can forgive those who voted Leave in 2016 and even endorsed it up till 2018. However, I find it difficult to comprehend why people continue to endorse them even now. This showed in 2019 the election win by the now fascist Conservative party having been massively endorsed across the country including former Labour seats. The various domestic issues blamed on the EU by the Tories/media were not caused by them but by the various failures of right-wing governments over the last 40 years but especially those in power since 2010.

I’d go as far as to argue that the 2016 referendum should never have happened because the average person didn’t know enough about the EU and all other relevant fields to have a credible opinion. An uninformed electorate is dangerous because they are easy to manipulate and that is exactly what happened.

People like to think they know more about something than they actually do. Only when they are actually sat down and forced to engage with said info do they begin to understand. This isn’t their fault that this hadn’t happened to them when they were in school but it is their responsibility to do so now. Thing is few people realised this back then including myself – and if I did I’d advocate the same thing then.

The faults of the left

I do think the other parties share some of the blame though – specifically for not forming a temporary alliance that could have helped salvage seats, stop Brexit democratically (or enable a more humane one) and implement electoral reform. However, I also feel the left should have adopted a more simplistic message that the average person can understand easily, rote learn and then pass onto the others. This is the same tactic the right does and it clearly works. The only difference the left has to do is base this in truth. And by truth, I mean to simplify the messages we’ve been trying to communicate for years.

From my autistic ass of a perspective, I find this frustrating to admit. Like, don’t people want to inform themselves of the facts and be lifelong learners? Autistic people love learning in-depth – this is the foundation of what doctors label our passions as “special interests.” There is a reason that our passion is belittled in this way and I’ll explain it because, alongside internalised ableism, there’s another reason too.

The fact is though most people – especially non-autistic people and the politically apathetic in general – will not learn about things in depth. They don’t want to research deeply. They don’t want to think critically. They don’t want to do any of that – if anything they like doing the bare minimum if not anything at all. Whatever you think of Jeremy Corbyn, he embodied this approach in how he does politics and it’s one reason why he could never get into number 10. I loved it, many others loved it especially those who agreed with him.

However British people don’t want this style of politics. They want oversimplified narratives they can rote learn. They don’t want masses of information. They don’t want to feel uncomfortable at being held to account because they like feeling comfortable with what they believe in. They see such extensive research as a sign of difference as well as being unnecessary. For the left to win, they need to pander to this to an extent. Obviously, it will not be possible to not make them uncomfortable – nor should it – but relying on good faith and the willingness to learn will not work. It never did – especially to the anti-SJWs already on the verge of becoming fascists.

The needs of minorities have been repeatedly ignored

Additionally, as marginalised people, our needs are even less likely to get met. Being out of the EU means we will be even further impacted by Brexit particularly through divergence in standards, higher costs and further human rights losses. And under a far-right government who has already gone a decade without being held accountable for killing off large proportions of the poor and minorities through their policies, this is a terrible prospect indeed. Many people who endorse Brexit won’t accept that this has been happening and disability rights groups have been saying this for years. Seeing as people won’t accept the reality that Brexit brings on everyone due to what I mentioned already, what chances do marginalised people have?

This is before factoring in how they intersect. For example, many disabled people will no longer be able to travel to the EU because it will just be too expensive as all travellers will now have to buy travel insurance before leaving the country. It is also even less likely anybody diagnosed with a disability will be able to permanently live abroad now freedom of movement will end which is something that upsets me the most as that has been a lifelong dream of mine. This is before mentioning how it makes things harder for LGBTQ+ people as most EU countries are largely LGBT friendly thus ruling out a lot of safe destinations.

The end of the Union

This is inevitable at this point because the interests of the rest of the UK have been ignored with Westminster overriding everything. In the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have devolved administrations who have been shut out of the approval process and gone as far to vote formally showing disapproval of the exit deal. It has no legal bearing but it’s symbolic.

With a border going down in the Irish Sea it means Northern Ireland is now economically closer to the Republic of Ireland than the rest of the UK. It’s a mess and it risks flaring up past tensions the island faces especially when hard borders are put in place. That will make the case for reunification difficult to ignore. The history behind this is colonial related so again the average English person has no idea of the history here.

The SNP (Scotland’s most popular party) are also pushing hard in Scotland for another independence referendum because the circumstances have clearly changed. Scotland voted to stay in the Union in 2014 due to promises of having access to the EU. Scotland also voted to remain in 2016. Obviously, this is no longer the case hence there is the democratic case to try again. Whether this will lead to independence sooner or later is what the question is now.

The effect on me – lots and lots of self-care

As a young person, I feel that my life chances have been scuppered by bigots that won’t accept that globalism is the future and are the values that my generation and younger have grown up with. We will lose the most and it is tragic that so many simply do not know what they’ve endorsed. We want to travel and see the world and now it has become so much harder. Like many British people, I don’t have dual citizenship and I wish I did. Unless you are born into a rich, privileged family who can afford to relocate there is so much that is now lost.

I’m at the point where I’m having to exercise a lot of self-care. I can’t keep engaging with diehard Leavers for the sake of my mental health. I’m putting myself first for the most part – which means getting my life back on track so I can get out of England and hopefully the UK in the next couple of years once the Union falls apart. Marginalised people moving out of England prior to this may be the only way they will be able to escape the Tories in Westminster.

The other exception to this is through supporting and showing solidarity with those who didn’t vote for this and especially have the most to lose. I hope people understand why I am taking this approach – especially due to my current personal circumstances.

This is the start of the UK’s path to rejoining the EU

Alongside the part I mentioned earlier about the world seeing the UK’s internalised bigotry, the other thing that will lead to rejoining becoming popular would be the English at large finding out first hand what leaving the EU as of now actually means. I say English, particularly because a lot of the denial comes from the English because they voted for this. They will have to experience first hand what people were trying to warn would happen. This includes the possible implementation of chlorinated chicken, a privatised NHS and other unpopular policies.

The second thing would be the implementation of the proposed European associate citizenship scheme which would ease tensions. This means British people will have the choice as to whether to keep the rights and freedoms of the EU and not have rights taken away that they didn’t consent to.

I for one would be more willing to accept Brexit if a pathway becomes available for me to keep European citizenship rights and be able to travel and attempt to live, work and retire in 27 other countries as I do now. Additionally, young people like myself will eventually lead the charge for the UK rejoining the EU when the time is right.

I’ll stop there for today but I hope people now understand a bit more. I’m gonna go out tonight and distract myself from the sadness that is leaving, but until then please leave a light on for the UK, fellow Europeans?

Milla xx

As A Marginalised Person, Politics Is Frustrating. Here’s Why.

(Featured image description: A group of anti-Brexit protestors posing for a group selfie. Many of them are white people wearing blue clothing and waving the flag representing the European Union.)

(CN for ableism, ableist slurs, fascism, voter suppression and te*f mentions to support arguments, no detail for last few)

Hi all,

I’m going to start today’s post with a strong assertion – when you are a marginalised person, politics is frustrating. It is definitely the case for me. The reasons why are simple to state, but complex and difficult to elaborate on Many are based on my own personal experiences but also due to recent history. They are:

  • Mainstream political discourse excludes marginalised groups both explicitly and implicitly
  • Most people will not listen to other people’s arguments, even in good faith
  • Most people lack sufficient knowledge to make an informed political decision – which isn’t their fault.

Let’s pick them apart, one at a time:

Mainstream political discourse excludes marginalised groups both explicitly and implicitly

Politics as a whole is largely inaccessible to disabled people because political organisations, by and large, do not make their events accessible for all types of disabilities. This includes debates to voting itself. Yet in-person participation is seen as the only “acceptable” form of political participation according to mainstream discourse. If a disabled person can’t access real-life political discourse, then their views are ignored by the mainstream. This is true even though online activism is sometimes the only way people can participate. Some examples include how disabilities like autism and chronic fatigue can stop people from being able to go to events.

This is, of course, an ableist stance to take but I can understand why online discourse is stigmatised to a point. The discourse is toxic and often the bigoted political extremes can be lured out and appear powerful. For example, this is why it is unsafe to be openly trans on Twitter even though the opinions of TE*Fs are not representative of real life. Offline, the discourse is considerably less toxic presumably because of the increased level of accountability somebody has for their actions. You have a real name and a face attached to somebody’s opinions – not an anime avatar and an obvious pseudonym.

From personal experience, I have found political participation to be quite difficult. I can get overwhelmed with debates easily and find them hard to follow, especially in real life. Online discourse is more accessible for me to understand but the toxicity of others affects my conduct. I do want to participate in real life more because it is the only way I will get taken seriously.

For example, recently I went to a local protest concerning the current constitutional crisis facing the UK. I got overwhelmed quite quickly as it was besides a major road and there was nobody I knew there – mainly older people. I struggled to work out the social aspects of everything and soon my anxiety eventually got so bad I had to leave and go home. It all got too much for me.

It’s also worth noting that many marginalised people are also politically homeless because they don’t feel any political party speaks for them. Any marginalised person supporting the UK Tories is figuratively signing their own suicide note for obvious reasons however other parties each have their own drawbacks that turn people off. TE*Fs are an example as there are TE*Fs in the SNP that haven’t been kicked out for instance. Likewise voter suppression is also a popular tactic used against marginalised groups as they are less likely to be able to meet the requirements to vote (such as having voter ID).

Many people will not listen to other people’s arguments, even in good faith

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realise about people – especially privileged cishet, abled white people – is that many have strong opinions about subjects they know little about. Furthermore, they will take no steps to listen to other people’s arguments especially from those with lived experience.

In other words, they believe that their view is the correct one and not listen to opposing views. This is fine when it applies to harmless personal preferences like hobbies or sports. However, when it applies to politics this is a problem. This is because harmful ideologies like the gender critical movement and curing autism are innately dangerous and will harm minorities in particular. Hence, they cannot be platformed and it’s therefore important that people listen to others as to why these viewpoints are harmful.

Privileged people will also fall back on arguments like “There are two sides” and “free speech” thinking that they apply here when in reality using these arguments gives permission for bigotry to spread. This is why those with lived experience need to be prioritised when it comes to these issues and privileged people need to sit down, listen then boost our voices. This includes not smearing people with strawmen like “SJW” as this proves they are not engaging in good faith. Or even worse – platforming marginalised people who have internalised their bigoted views than using them to discredit the whole communities fight for rights.

Most people lack sufficient knowledge to make an informed political decision – which isn’t their fault.

This is a reason where I am a bit more sympathetic to others. Most people, at least in the UK, do not undergo formal political education in school. This means they lack the skills to see through far-right bullshit and are more likely to become radicalised. This varies from being an “anti-SJW/anti-feminist” to being a full-on Nazi. To a lesser extent, this also applies to being brainwashed by right-wing media to believe false narratives about the political situations in their own or other countries.

This means they have to educate themselves about politics which is where the risks of being radicalised or brainwashed. Many people, especially social media savvy young people, are fortunately seeing through much of it as corporate media is becoming less popular. Many young people go on to study politics courses at school or university whereas other people educate themselves through self-study as I have over the years. Overall, there as hope, especially as young people in particular are becoming more aware of marginalised identities as those people became able to express themselves over the internet.

However, there is still a risk of others, especially older people, remaining attached to harmful beliefs, as well as kids brought up in conservative households or consume fascist media (like with the videos platformed on YouTube’s algorithm). It is these people that primarily push harmful beliefs like gender critical feminism – and on a more political scale – Brexit.

Brexit is a good example to support this example because in 2016 almost nobody in the UK knew enough about the European Union to make an informed vote on whether we should stay or leave. This isn’t a dig at Leavers or Remainers because this applies to everyone. The issue was too complex to be put to a binary referendum in part because it wasn’t well understood how Brexit would affect marginalised groups (which is a result of the first two reasons outlined here). I raise my hand and admit I knew little about the EU back then – even though I did study it as part of a business course in high school.

A lot of people also will not accept that they lack this knowledge. Whenever I’ve said this to people many have said I am calling them stupid when this is not the case. Putting aside why ableist slurs like stupid are harmful and should be eliminated, even people that are considered “smart” can be radicalised. Intelligence doesn’t come into this. It has taken me a long time to process this and understand why this is the case and I am worried that people will read this and think I am talking down to them. So I’m going to try to explain better.

If anything, there are likely two reasons – the first is that people don’t like to admit their opinions and facts are wrong. It’s human nature. Humans like to be right and we hate to have to admit we aren’t. Secondly, this could partially be a result of autistic/NT communication mismatch, where NTs read between the lines and apply their own meanings to what is said even when such meanings aren’t there. This is human nature too and this is before considering cultural differences.

If somebody isn’t a person of colour, disabled, trans, closely involved in certain companies/systems being discussed etc. they won’t have the lived experience to truly understand – which isn’t their fault. None of the reasons why people generally have inaccurate knowledge on politics are the fault of the people unless it’s willful ignorance (ie. “I don’t do politics”) or having to protect themselves for the sake of their mental health. We can’t all be experts at everything – it’s simply not possible.

There is no easy solution to this other than to take the time to explain to people gently why political participation and engagement is so important. This is so most people will become a politics expert by choice and avoid things like the UK’s current Brexit crisis. Hence, people will make more informed political decisions. This is something I am still working on in real life because sometimes being direct is not appropriate for these kinds of conversations.

In conclusion

With all this said in mind, this is why politics is frustrating. Change can and must happen, but there are a lot of barriers in the way. There is no easy solution to this other than to take the time to explain to people gently why political participation and engagement is so important so everybody can become a politics expert and avoid things like the UK’s current Brexit crisis. This is something I am still working on in real life because sometimes being direct and/or blunt is not always appropriate for these kinds of conversations.

There isn’t an easy solution to this and sometimes it feels hopeless and despairing. However, one thing that people can do to help to believe the lived experiences of others and boost our views during discussions – as well as share other correct, credible information. On the whole, though, the world is slowly becoming more inclusive and accepting on a variety of fronts especially in Western territories. Hopefully, as time goes by this trend will continue and the far right will lose again.

That’s all for today,

Milla x

Featured image source