Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You never know who's listening!

Singapore transgender writer and activist, Leona Lo, picked up a letter we'd published earlier on Velvet Underground's apparent blanket ban of transgender women. (Lo's commenter, Nurra Mahat, corroborates that "Velvet has NEVER been a TG friendly place, unless your IC says you’re female AND (the big AND) passable.") Shortly after that, we learn that just shortly before Christmas, another transwoman was barred from Zouk, further corroborating that something shitty is happening at that place.

I very much want to recommend Lo's "quick response tips" for transwomen to seek trans-friendly venues, document places that discriminate, and report the latter accordingly. In short:

(1) Check beforehand on their policy for a fuss-free night;

(2) Use your mobile phone's video camera to document mistreatment;

(3) Share with the media.

We at the barn are particularly aware of the paucity of getting minority people to come out to openly share their stories about offending people and organisations, often as Lo points out, "for fear of attracting “trouble”". So I encourage Point 4:

(4) Tell anyone who'd listen! Write in to the papers, write in to the management, write in to Leona Lo, one of the social media websites, or one of the LGBTQ blogs, or even to us so that we can air the experience. The more fodder we receive, the more people read about it, the stronger it is for us to build a case of holding people accountable.

Don't be too quick to discount the power that your voice will provide, and what bad press circulating about can drive people to salvage.

When The Online Citizen did a feature on the abject state of migrant worker housing, the effort was made by individuals and groups to air the issue and write in to relevant bodies, seeking accountability. What came out of these efforts is this:

Even when we at our small barn wrote about the racy 'APEC' event, our reader wrote in and it became a racy APPEC event.

Pressure works! Companies are in it for the money, and bad publicity, or worse, health, environmental and manpower incursions are definitely not good for business. Clients and developers can be encouraged to award tender to companies that boast better housing amenities that do not bring the projects into disrepute, which eventually affects sales. Patrons can askew clubs that discriminate for clubs that don't.

I hate to tie the worth of minority rights to economics, but it seems when faced with the wall of The Bottomline, appealing to people's money minds might be a helpful, additional strategy.

Also, I want to agree with Mark that perhaps firms are not always as heartless or as aware as they seem. While I have my suspicion that they will take the easy out by providing the minimal or ignoring the problem, I think there's very little harm in approaching them in good faith.

Besides, it saves us all more heartburn, and you never know who's listening!

If you haven't signed this petition: Petition to Improve Foreign Workers' Housing.

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