A transgender girl may be forceably institutionalised

In Germany, Alex, an 11-year-old girl may be forceably comitted to a mental-health institution and forced to live as a boy. Alex says that she has identified as female for as long as she can remember.

She is accepted as female at school, and has been registered as such from her earliest days there.

Her mother is also fully accepting. It’s her absent father who’s causing the problems. Feel free to sign the petition. Of course, the ethics of treating transgender children are complex, but that does not mean that Alex’s clearly-stated position should be simply ignored.

Incidentally, you can also sign a petition asking the press to show more respect to transgener people. Trans* issues have been in the news a lot recently.



When my sister went to South Africa with granny, she brought back a CD of South African music. One of the songs (actually, the only song I liked on the CD) was “Qongqothwane”, or “The Click Song”. I loved it, and I’ve not heard it in years. Today, someone on h2g2 posted a link to it in a discussion on phonetics. It’s sung by Miriam Makeba, and it is all kinds of awesome.



The Future of Interaction Desgin

There are many ideas of how we will interact with computers in the future. One example is the Mozilla Seabird from Mozilla Labs, a “concept phone”. It doesn’t exist, but something like it one day may.

Microsoft also has ideas on how we’ll interact with technology in the future.

It’s nifty, though the way data can easily be slid from one computer to another bothers me a little. But we’re talking about usability here. And in that vision of the future, devises are easily usable, aren’t they?

Well, maybe not. All these flat screens are just “pictures under glass”, while our hands are much better at 3-d manipulation. Our hands can do all sorts of things, and using merely one sliding finger seems wasteful when we have so much more at our disposal. There’s room for much more research into technologies which use our hands to a fuller extent.

One interesting thing in Microsoft’s video is that they show a man using a keyboard. Hollywood thinks differently. They are very fond of “gestural interfaces” which wouldn’t work that well in the real world (not least because your arms would get tired if you were waving at a computer all day). In reality, 2-d screens are probably better for presenting information.

Another short look at the future is the film Sarfire, which was created in 1992, before graphical browsers.

Here’s the Seabird again, this time in 3-d.


Trans* People Barred from Flying in Canada?

Under new Canadian regulations, anyone who “does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents” is barred from flying. This may have the effect of keeping trans* and intersex people from flying within or from Canada.

This was later brought up in the Canadian Parliament.