Queer | Feminist | Doctor

Archive for September, 2012

An email to the customer services department of DW Sports


Today I was kicked out of the Teesside branch of DW Sports for the crime of wearing a skirt to work out in. I was told that skirts are not “appropriate” clothing to work out in, despite there being no such stipulation in the terms and conditions of gym use. I am appalled at this action and have contacted the local press. Many sportswomen wear dresses and skirts, and women boxers at the Olympics this year were almost FORCED to wear them, yet your gym is so out of touch that they tell me that I can’t work out there while wearing a skirt? This is absolutely preposterous. If Serena Williams can wear a dress at Wimbledon, if our national netball team can play in dresses, then by what justification are skirts “inappropriate” sportswear? I would like to know whether the actions of staff at this particular branch of DW Sports are in line with the national company policy, and I would like an apology for the way I have been treated. 
Sy Parker

On the left, the outfit I was wearing when I was asked to leave. On the right, the outfit I wore the next day with no problems from anyone. This is clearly not an issue of modesty

Dear readers,
I am still slightly in shock at the way I have been treated at this gym. I was told by the member of staff who kicked me out that someone had come to reception desk and complained about me. She said that I had to wear shorts in the gym and that people could see my underwear. You know, the roughly shorts-shaped underwear I had on under my skirt in order that I not flash my genitals to the world. In fact I own pairs of shorts that are SMALLER than the underwear I was wearing under that skirt. Perhaps they were freaked out by the fact that I was doing barbell squats – after all it is unladylike to lift weights, and anyone who transgresses gender roles must be punished. These days there are entire websites dedicated to selling skirts for sports and working out, and yes, some of the shorts that go under the skirts are the size of the underwear I was wearing. Then there are the work out shorts for sale that are actually smaller than what I was wearing. This is not an issue of whether or not I was dressed “modestly”, it is of whether women are responsible for the people in their workout environment getting “distracted” by the presence of their body in that workout space. I don’t go to the gym to be objectified, I go there to lift weights. Perhaps I should just wear one of these – it will leave nothing to the imagination, and is most definitely “appropriate” attire for working out.
If you would like to email customer services to find out what their policy on skirts is, the address is customer.services@dwsports.com
The phone number for my local branch is 01642 256266
They can also be found on Twitter: @dwsportsfitness
I posted a link to this blog post on reddit, the discussion can be found here

Sex/relationships advice, and Tumblr

For a while now I’ve found that people ask me for advice on relationships and sex. In fact the first time that happened was over 10 years ago! It is no secret that I find the huge range of ways in which humans express their sexuality (or lack thereof) EXTREMELY interesting and that the topic of sex and relationships is one I think about a lot. At the moment I can’t give medical advice as I am too junior a doctor for that, but I aim eventually to be able to give advice to people whose health conditions are affecting their sexual fulfilment. I would like everyone to be able to find happiness through their relationships, sexual and otherwise, and if I can do anything to facilitate that then I think that will be pretty rewarding. I’ve set up a Tumblr so that people can ask questions anonymously, and I plan to do a mix of videos and written posts with my answers/advice. So tell your friends, and ask away!

Why “Parkertron”?

I have always been a fan of sci-fi, a trait I inherited from my dad, who introduced me and my siblings to Star Wars, Star Trek and other science fiction at a young age. As I read through his collection of classic sci-fi books, I learned of Asimov’s  idea of the laws of robotics, of cyborgs – either as people with technological enhancements or robots with biological enhancements, and of fully artificial humans – all of which force one to contemplate what “personhood” really means – is a person human if their heart is artificial? Their brain? What if everything *except* their heart has been replaced? Science fiction was also where I heard of many other interesting concepts, such as ethical non-monogamy, group marriage, and anarchistic communal living!

I find sci-fi really inspiring, not least because sci-fi writers actually shape the future! Think about it – people watch sci-fi, and are inspired  to do the research to turn fiction into fact. When Star Trek first aired the idea of doors that slide open in front of you was strange and futuristic, nowadays it is so commonplace that people sometimes get confused when doors *don’t* open automatically. Scientists have been working on teleportation for ages, although I think so far they’re only managed to teleport a photon. Google has made prototype cars which can drive themselves, and millions of people have access to technology which allows them to communicate pretty much instantly with people all over the globe. I was amazed when I watched this video of Arthur C Clarke predicting the future in the 1960s – it seems difficult to imagine now that the realities of 2012 once seemed ludicrously far-fetched, and it is exciting to think about what developments might occur in the next 50 years!

A couple of years ago I came across an article in H+ magazine, by Lepht Anonym, who does their own implants at home including a computer chip and tiny magnets which enable them to both pick up tiny magnetic objects, and (more excitingly) sense electromagnetic fields! Reading about what enhancements might be available to me in the future, and about what are actually available RIGHT NOW was pretty exciting. I came to the realisation that I would quite like to be a cyborg, to experience new senses, to enhance myself using technological modifications. If we don’t count dentistry or the internet, I became a cyborg when I  had titanium plates + screws put into my right leg as a result of surgery to fix the bones I broke in January 2012. Even though the bones weren’t capable of supporting my weight until relatively recently, the metal implants enabled me to return to work only 3 months after the fracture. But I think that this is just the beginning! I probably won’t be going the DIY route and cutting up my own fingers to put magnets inside, but having the ability to sense electromagnetism would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? Or having an extra sense that means you always know what compass direction you are facing, an implant that lets you hear colour (including light not visible to the human eye), or technology allowing us to control machines using our minds? So this is why I call myself “Parkertron” – I am a cyborg and I intend to embrace technological enhancements as they become available to me!

Video: Bicon, and new name!

Video: Thoughts from summer holidays: queer spaces in social + professional life

Video: My gender + my name

Video: What does “appearing professional” mean for doctors in minority groups?

Click through to the YouTube page for links to more articles.

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