The recent passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Commons was a time of great joy, for me and for many others. I am still angered and upset that the amendments to the Bill that would have improved equality for transgendered people were dropped at the request of the Goverment but, on the whole, the Bill is a big step in the right direction. Let’s hope it passes through the House of Lords without getting mangled in the process.
I’m working with members of LGBTory to find a solution to the Bill’s anti-trans problems, so all is not lost there. The main problems are that the Government has refused to back an amendment to restore the marriages of those who were forced to divorce in order to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate; and the introduction of a new spousal veto on married people applying for a GRC.
There aren’t many people, in the great scheme of things, who were forced to divorce in order to receive a GRC and the problem will not arise again once equal marriage is in place but there still exist a lot of people who had to divorce simply because equality hadn’t caught up with gender recognition. That’s a Government-made problem (okay it was the previous Government but it’s still a Government) so the Government should have backed a solution. It’s sad that they did not.
The introduction of a spousal veto is simply ridiculous. I cannot for the life of me fathom why the Government, in the middle of a Bill that improves equality, would want to bring in a law that gives one person a veto over the rights of another. The justification appears to be that a married person should not be “forced” into a gay marriage; although the argument was more often put down to “someone should not be forced into something they did not agree to”. This veto suggests that gay marriage is somehow inferior to straight marriage and thus people should be protected from being tricked into having one. This is utter nonsense.
Moreover, the veto is open to abuse. Anyone who has found that their spouse became vindictive toward them on finding out that they were trans will understand the problems here. Ever been refused visits to see your children? Ever been forced out of the family home? Ever lost family and friends en masse? Trans people fall prey to these problems all the time. Now they can add “my estranged husband/wife refuses to allow me to get legal recognition of my gender” to their list of problems. It will be right up there with “my husband/wife won’t talk to me long enough to even sign the divorce papers”.
The Government refused to back the amendment that removed this veto on the grounds that there was “no evidence” of vindictive spouses refusing to give permission. There are two things wrong with that argument. Firstly, there can’t be evidence of something that hasn’t started happening yet. Secondly, there is plenty of evidence of vindictive spouses acting vindictively. Just ask any trans person who has a spouse that hates them. It’s a ridiculous, flawed argument and it shows that no real thought has gone into this part of the Bill.
Let’s put all that aside for the moment, because I could rant on about it all day. My new violin arrived on Thursday, which brightened my day no end. I’ve been playing it so much that my fingertips went numb and my wrist started to ache from being held in the playing position. Clearly I need more practice.
For those who are interested, it is a Stentor Student I; an entry-level but good quality instrument. The sound is wonderful and aside from a few peg slip problems during tuning, it has given me no problems so far. I’m loving the feel of it and it’s a joy to play. I’m currently working my way through the Violin for Dummies book (which is rather good, despite the patronising name) as well as using a finger position guide I found online to guide me through learning to play In The Hall of The Mountain King (because Jennifer got sick of hearing me play Jingle Bells over and over again. Can’t say I blame her).
The irony of finding a finger guide on a rather overtly Christian website at this point in my life has not been lost on me. For a while now my atheism has been slipping. I’ve not discussed it here because there have been other things pressing on my mind as well (trans equality issues, politics in general and so forth) so I’ve been discussing those but the truth is, I’ve always had some kind of faith at the back of my mind, even if it has been a tiny spark for a long time.
I was a pagan at university back at the turn of the century, and a pagan for a long time afterward. I lost faith gradually so there’s no specific date I can point to for that. Over several years, I built up a small collection of books on Wicca and Witchcraft in general. I practised solitary Wicca for the most part, because local covens weren’t practising traditions that worked for me (they were mostly Dianic and the idea of solely or predominantly Goddess-worship traditions lacked a sense of balance that I was looking for).
So yesterday I decided that it was the right time to start down the Wiccan path again. I dug out all my old books and I’m in the process of refreshing my knowledge. I’m not ready to decide whether to look for a coven in the local area or enter solitary practice again just yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there. For the moment, I’m going to go through my books, discuss matters with people I trust and respect online, and see where the path takes me.