Let’s talk about trans kids and the state of academic information on trans folks and the history of medical misconduct that trans people have had to cope with.
But before all that, let us talk about a science writer named Jesse Singal. Jesse Singal is a senior editor and science writer for New York Magazine. He’s especially well known for some particularly well-written deconstructions of that particular hate movement in gaming that will never end.
He, however, is also becoming more and more well-known for his articles on trans kids. Which are… okay, the only charitable way I can put this is that they are awful. Absolute drek.
Defense of Zucker’s Reparative Therapy Clinic
His first infamous article on the subject of trans kids was a defense of Zucker’s infamous Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto.
Now, most cis people have never heard of Zucker or his clinic in Toronto. A few have and assume that since it was a clinic set up to serve “trans and gender non-conforming kids” that it must therefore have been an empathetic and caring institution that tried its best to serve trans youth and young trans adults.
Except it really wasn’t. Zucker’s clinic was essentially one based on the idea of reparative therapy. I.e. the idea that one can “fix” being trans or being “girlier” or “butcher” than is typically expected for your gender.
As such, Zucker’s main treatment methodology surrounded “gender-confirming behavior”. Basically, if you have a boy child that is expressing that she is a girl or that he would like to play with dolls or dress up in high heels, that the best way to care for that is to aggressively counter that by giving them stereotypically masculine clothes and toys and refusing to call the child by the gender or names they ask for. This sort of “tough love” will then set the boy straight and keep them from growing into the sort of “deviant” lifestyle that the sort of permissive parents who would let little boys play with dolls would encourage.
Sure, if a child fought through all of Zucker’s many steps of emotional abuse for years and years and their parents (specifically their mothers, Zucker was a big fan of the “your mother is the source of gender confusion” theories)*, then he might deign to allow them to pursue medical transition options in late childhood, early adulthood and a lot of kids in the Toronto area had no choice but to do that, because for the longest time, he was literally the only game in town for transgender youth. But his main goal was no
*Here’s a heartbreaking account from a mother of a transgender child talking about the lack of research and trying to follow Zucker’s advice and seeing just how much pain and misery that was causing in her daughter.**
**Which of course, it does. Singal tries to turn Zucker into a martyr, speaking obliquely about an untold and hidden number of folks who mourn Zucker’s clinic for it’s “excellent” trans-related care, because it’s telling that there’s not many trans folks who went to his clinic who think fondly of him, or even many folks at all. And that’s unsurprising. Even if his methods work, and even he admits that his methods are fully unsubstantiated, they are still awful abusive things. Like, almost no child who is gender non-conforming as a kid but grows up gay instead of trans or even grows up cis and het looks back and goes, “you know what time in my life was awesome? When I was brutally bullied for liking the color pink.” Hell, a lot of male geeks carry lifelong chips on their shoulders entirely surrounding being bullied for “not being tough” and “being a girly wimp”.
Overall, his method was rather indistinguishable from the status quo treatment of “effeminate” boys (and those read by society as boys) and its treatment of “masculine” girls (and those read by society as girls). Bullying, threats, social condemnation, outright refusal of expression. And for those of us who have been through the gay rights struggle for the last few decades, from the methods of ex-gay camps which also fixate on “gender affirmation”.
Hell, the hilarious and brutal coming-of-age comedy But I’m a Cheerleader is entirely based on the weird gender ideas of sexuality reparative therapy and the overall ex-gay movement. And a central motif was the aggressive attempt to “normalize” “deviant” attraction with stereotypical feminine or masculine activities, completely unaware of how homoerotic many of them are:
And that’s the thing, Zucker’s clinic is no different than any run-of-the-mill ex-gay clinic, hell his protocol is literally what Pre-Snake Person Dispensationalist Christian parents are encouraged to do with their kids if they suspect they may have “deviant” tendencies***.
***The comic below is “Dumbing of Age” by David Willis. In this comic, Joyce is a former homeschooled evangelical kid from the PMD culture and her boyfriend Ethan here is a gay male she is in the process of trying to “fix” (she later realizes how fucked up this is and comes to fully support him). The “Joshua” they are referencing is Joyce’s trans sister Jocelyne, who has yet to come out to the family but has come out to Ethan:
The main idea behind Zucker’s clinic is that the first priority in any form of trans healthcare is to make doubly, triply sure that no single cis person ever be forced through the ignominy of going through what we expect trans people to do.
And the thing about it is that view was not that uncommon very long ago and still holds a lot of sway in the academic literature on trans individuals. In fact, Zucker himself started a vanity press solely devoted to publishing his papers on the awesomeness of his method and other works by former mentees of his. By volume, this makes up a hefty bulk of the available research on trans youth. To the point where a lot of the protocols at the time were heavily sourced from Zucker or his associates.
History of Bad Health Care
For the longest time, trans healthcare and the access to it has been based on convincing cis gatekeepers that you are in fact trans enough to be allowed to seek healthcare relating to the treatment of gender dysphoria or receive legal recognition for your gender identity. And it’s main goal has been to discourage as many seeking care from doing so in the hopes that that will make sure not a single cis person will transition and come to “regret it”****.
**** “Transgender regret” is a major watchword of the TERF movement and among right-wing transphobes including the ADF and is frequently used in papers arguing against the extension of equal rights to transgender individuals. A lot of it surrounds a single man by the name of Walt Heyer who is basically just PFOX Part 2. (No really, here’s Zinnia Jones looking into his claims on the number who regret transition and what she found about his claims and the claims of other “ex-trans” activists).
For the longest time, the Standards of Care for transgender individuals was based on the infamous Harry Benjamin Standards (which are still in effect, unfortunately, in many places, despite the hard work of trans activists). The Harry Benjamin Standards of Care basically demanded from trans folks looking to transition be of specific body types and levels of femininity or masculinity (overweight patients were forced on crash diets and unhealthy eating disorders to approximate the shape allowed to proceed and those whose overall body shapes were not deemed masculine or feminine enough or those who were non-binary were straight up denied care). They then were expected to spend up to 2 years living without hormones as the gender that they were (meaning putting themselves at high risk for street harassment and violence), then allowed hormones and surgery, but and here’s the catch, they were expected at the end of the care to disappear and become stealth, literally starting brand new lives with brand new names, miles away from any friends or family, so as to best blend in as cis and certainly never mention that you were trans or aid younger trans folks trying to get care.
These standards devastated the trans activist community, denying us our activists for decades and convincing many to hide themselves and their lives away lest they be denied medical treatment for their trans identity. And it’s only been in recent years, thanks to the tireless activism of trans folks who refused to disappear and abide that stealth requirement in the 90s and 00s (not to mention the rise of the internet) that has allowed the trans community to rebuild its community strength and actually advocate more effectively for its rights. This was the normal and the academic side of things was no better.
One of Zucker’s other main defenders has been Alice Dreger, who wrote a pop-science book on “activists wars on scientists” that was basically a giant hit list of people she disliked personally. (Zinnia Jones did a big deconstruction of her and her work here). But she was a major source for Jesse Singal’s article. Her main objection surrounded defending a book called “The man who would be queen” by J. Michael Bailey. Which was in and of itself defending an academic concept known as “autogynephilia”. The idea behind it is that there are “true transsexuals”, who are hyper femme and attracted to boys (unurprisingly given social anxiety surrounding masculinity and the idea that boys “can become girls”, most of the research in existence focuses on freaking out about trans women first and often added trans men standards and research as an afterthought and never even broaches topics of non-binary identities) who should be allowed to undergo this whole procedure, because hey, in the mind of the researchers, if they’re hot enough, it’s almost like they’re girls and it’s better than being gay*****. And so everyone else, the trans lesbians, the trans bisexuals, the trans girls who like butching it up with flannel or a pair of jeans and sneaks, were clearly just “fetishistic straight men” who “get off on wearing women’s clothes” and so should be denied any treatment what’s so ever” (again, no really, go back and read Zinnia Jones’s deconstruction, it’s hella damning). This second group was then referred to as “autogynephiles” because they weren’t, in the eyes of the researchers, “trans”, they just were in the love of the idea of themselves having vaginas (hence the term). It’s still a popular term among TERFs and is usually trotted out to justify harassing trans lesbians and argue that they are just “pretending to be women” in order to “get off with sleeping with lesbians”.
***** No really, that was a large part of the theory. And part of the conspiracy theory TERFs break out every so often to argue that trans people in general is all a conspiracy to turn all the gay people straight. Trans lesbians and trans gay men are ignored in this or called the wrong gender in order to justify this feeling of persecution (not to mention straight up ignoring bi or ace trans folks or nb trans folks of all varieties or orientations or how interconnected the trans movement has always been with queer rights in general (Miss Major threw the first brick at Stonewall and trans activists have been at the center of a lot of gay rights struggles including the right to get married)). Ironically enough, they usually cite things like Iran’s support of trans folks only when they would otherwise be gay to “prove” this conspiracy. Despite the fact that the system Iran is using is the same systems they themselves praise as the “good ones” (like the old Harry Benjamin system) before “political correctness” took over. And are otherwise fine with reducing the idea of trans people into “former gender-non-conforming gay person turned trans” when it means rejecting the huge trans spectrum (or wibbly-wobbly ball) that the trans community puts forth.
Her and Bailey are also big fans of Blanchard’s Typology. Which is based on the idea that there is an “objective” survey that separates out the “lying autogynephiles” from the “true transsexuals” and labels said “autogynephilia” as a paraphilia similar in structure to pedophilia or bestiality. Blanchard is also somewhat famous as that guy that trained a bunch of the scientists the right-wing likes to parade around from time to time who rant about how transgender identities are all made up or harming America and for being a massive homophobe who believes that the opposite of being gay is being “normal”. A lot of it is based on questions about feeling attraction to being viewed as a woman (interestingly enough 93% of cis women have “autogynephilia” according to the autogynephilia side of his “test”) as well as questions asking about orientation.
J Michael Bailey in fact simplified the test to look like this:
“Once you have learned about the distinction between autogynephilic
and homosexual transsexuals, and seen several of each, distinguishing
the two is easy. If Blanchard and I saw the same 100 transsexuals, I
would be surprised if we disagreed on more than two. But most readers
will not have met a single transsexual of either type, and even most
clinicians who see gender patients are not used to thinking about them
this way. In any case, you cannot simply ask someone “which type are
you?” I have devised a set of rules that should work even for the
novice (though admittedly, I have not tested them empirically). Start
at zero. Ask each question, and if the answer is “yes,” add the number
next to the question. If the sum gets to +10, stop; the transsexual
you’re talking to is autogynephilic. If the sum gets to -10, she is
[Actually you should take the whole test before making judgment.]
+10 At least three times, have you become sexually aroused enough
when wearing women’s clothing in private that you masturbated?
+10 Have you been married to, and had biological children with, a
+9 Have you been married to a woman, without children?
+10 If I had observed your childhood behavior, would you have
appeared about as masculine as other boys?
+10 Are you nearly as attracted to women as to men? Or more attracted
to women? Or equally uninterested in both? (If “yes” to any of these)
+9 Is your sexual preference (to men, women, both, or neither)
difficult for you to decide?
+9 Were you over the age of 40 when you began to live full time as a
+9 Were you a virgin (no oral, vaginal or anal sex with another
person) until after the age of 20?
+7 Do you refer to yourself as “transgendered?”
+6 Have you often felt envious when looking at sexy women?
+10 Have you ever been in the military or worked as a policeman,
truck driver, or something equally stereotypically masculine? (use
+9 Have you worked at any of the following occupations: computer
programmer, businessman, lawyer, scientist, engineer, or physician?
-8 (If the previous two questions are answered “no”) Have you ever
worked as a hairstylist, beautician, female impersonator, lingerie
model, or prostitute?
-9 Does this describe you? “I find the idea of having sex with men
very sexually exciting, and the idea of having sex with women not at
+9 (If the answer to the previous question is “no”)
-8 Is your ideal sex partner a straight man?
+8 (If the answer to the previous question is “no”)
-9 Have you had sex with many men and no women (or only one woman to
see what it was like)?
-7 Would you like to look at pictures of really muscular men with
their shirts off?
+5 (If the answer to the previous question is “no”)
-8 Were you under the age of 25 when you began living full time as a
-8 If you saw an elegantly dressed and sexy woman on one sidewalk,
and a muscular, naked man on another, which would you look at? (Man)
+8 (If the answer to the previous question was “woman”)
-7 If you could spend only one hour with a very attractive man, which
would you like to do more: dance with him or suck his penis? (Penis)
+5 (If the answer to the previous question is “dance”)
“Interviewer, ask yourself:
-8 If you didn’t already know that the person was transsexual, would
you have never suspected that she was not a natural-born woman?
+9 (If the person has been on hormones for at least 6 months) Do you
find it difficult to imagine that this person could ever pass as a
-6 Would some of your male friends find this person sexy?
-3 (Male Interviewers) Is this person flirting with you?
+8 (Female Interviewers) Is this person flirting with you?
“Finally, this interview could be invalid if you suspect that the
transsexual may be autogynephilic and either (a) worried you will
think badly of her or will deny her a sex change if you know the
truth, or (b) obsessed with being a “real” woman. As far as mistakes,
it is more likely that the interview would identify an autogynephilic
transsexual as homosexual than vice versa.”
Which looking at it, we can see the major problems inherent in it, the way it dismisses queer or closeted trans women as fake, the way it prioritizes the sexual gaze of the observer and whether or not the trans person turns them on or not and puts in rewards for being sexual in the right way (i.e. straight and horny).
Not to mention it is straight up disproved by the fact that gay and ace and bi trans folks are still trans. And the fact that these questions when looked at directly are such absolute garbage, it becomes hard to believe anyone actually gave this shit the time of day, much less felt this was a valuable and accurate piece of science worth pissing away one’s credibility to defend or worth setting up whole systems of care to codify. Like, seriously, we’re supposed to put up with a system that heavily weights the stereotypes and biases of the interviewer and which straight up ignores the majority of trans experiences in order to pitch a discriminatory model? Puh-leeze.
And we also see the garbage that has been sold as science for so long. Nonetheless, Jesse Singal continues to defend Alice Dreger as much as Dreger defends Bailey and Bailey defends Blanchard and the other old transphobes that had a stranglehold on the state of science for so long.
And here’s the thing. That’s been the case for a long long time. Our science has been transparently awful and designed to create a very narrow means of accessing health care and has prioritized restricting and denying care in the name of “protecting” the very idea that a cis person could accidentally transition and have to go through the dysphoria and misery that we expect trans folks to go through.
Hell, trans folks have published zines and guides for decades entirely about how to get around gatekeepers, sometimes to the extent of informing each other on how to illegally acquire things like testosterone, estrogen, and spirinolactone so as to self-medicate.
And nonetheless, these systems have stood for far too long, dominating the literature on trans health care with garbage essay after garbage essay sexualizing and dehumanizing us in the hopes of making our existences more palatable for a cisgender society, putting their comfort ahead of our lives. And it’s only begun to change recently thanks to the tireless work of trans academics like Susan Stryker and Julia Serrano as well as throngs of trans activists risking the staggering murder rate of trans individuals and all manner of social costs to speak about our actual lives rather than the sanitized pap this whole crew had been smearing everywhere.
Bi and ace trans folks speaking out. Non-binary trans folks speaking out. Trans kids speaking for themselves. Building community and proving these theories wrong largely by simply existing. Showing that these attempts to other and disappear them into bizarre categories was entirely a fiction crafted by a cisgender society that is desperate to recast trans folks as “just what happens when someone gays too hard”.
And we’ve seen the results of this system we’ve had in place for so long. The suicide rates among transgender individuals is staggering (According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey 41% of surviving trans individuals have attempted suicide at least once in their life and conservative estimates of those lost to suicide before getting a chance to be surveyed stand at about 31%-50%******) and is even higher among trans kids owing to the pure hell that being forced to go through the wrong puberty is.
****** I’m sorry for the long runup, but I’m trying to stay somewhat dispassionate about this shit, but this shit infuriates me for several reasons. One, I love good science and I hate pseudo-scientific garbage people nonetheless accept because they so desperately want to believe what its peddling. Like, you could have the worst designed study, but if you conclude that black people are dumber than white people, gay people are bad parents, 1950s gender roles are evolutionary, or most trans people are cis, you’ll get no end of assholes lining up to tongue your ass and call you a visionary and overlooking massive design flaws in your tests. Two, I’m a trans woman and I am also a teacher. And so I have trans kids in my classes who are directly at risk from this faffing about surrounding their health care. I have so many friends and students were all my work is just keeping them alive, because the world is so painfully shit to trans people that that is actually a difficult thing to do. And every ounce of garbage that calls itself science and its defenders makes that job harder. And third? My dad wanted to send me to reparative therapy. Because he believed this shit. He disowned me and tried to ruin my life because he believed this toxic awful shit. And I see the same thing happening to my students. Where their parents read this crap and then suddenly backtrack on treating their kids as human beings, because “scientists say you’re just making it up or are diseased” and the best thing for you is to abuse you. And it makes me so mad I can barely see.
Back to desistence
Which brings us at long last to Jesse Singal’s latest abomination, which is about desistence.
Much like “autogynephilia”, desistence is a term much beloved among TERFs and is an old scientific idea that has zombie-like floated around the cesspool of research on trans issues for awhile, contributing to misinformation among parents.
Here is the idea behind desistence. Desistence is the scare term to describe an efect wherein “most” “gender non-conforming” youth do not actually turn out trans and thus “desist” from that (unhealthy) “lifestyle”. Already, it’s got some major problems. First among them that it is called desistence or desisting in the first place. Because desisting is something you do from a crime. You are ordered to cease and desist when you are being given a court-order to stop doing things or when a cop orders you to stop your commission of a crime. The type of people who view being trans as akin to a crime do not in any way have our best interests at heart. Full stop.
And the science its based on is fatally flawed, often lumping together gender-nonconforming kids (i.e. those perceived as boys who like playing with pink or dolls or other objects socially associated with girls or kids who are tomboys (whether they turn out to be girls or boy) with kids who state out loud that they are transgender and who express marked discomfort at being misgendered on a consistent basis.
Which, no shit, sherlock. Most kids who are just being considered by society as “too girly to be a boy” or “too manly to be a girl” will not end up being trans, because they are not trans, because that has nothing to do with being trans. They are kids who have an interest society has decided is too masculine or feminine for their gender.
This is not even in the same ballpark as actual trans kids who have stated repeatedly what their gender is to the point that their parents no longer wrote it off and actually sought out care. And who persist in that year after year. But hey, lump those non-trans kids in with actually trans kids and count all the non-trans kids as having “desisted” from being trans, you can sell the oft-cited narrative that “80% of trans kids desist from being trans”*******
******* This shit actually pisses me off a lot. Because, it’s intellectually dishonest and it is such a transparent repackaging of the “don’t worry parents of gay kids, your kid being gay is just a phase, he’ll shake it off in adulthood, see look at all these other kids labeled gay by their peers, not many of them ended up gay, did they” bullshit during the blatantly anti-gay days that I can’t fathom how so many can willfully blind themselves to the similarities. But also, because this is directly used to deny trans kids even the smallest forms of dignity and support because “why bother going through all that effort and social stigma, if you’re just going to grow out of this anyways”. And that lack of social support from parents and culture directly leads to dead trans kids and is a large part of why our suicide rates are so high.
And those performed at clinics (specifically clinics run by proteges of Kenneth Zucker, the aforementioned reparative therapy guy) counted those who simply did not return to the clinic as having “desisted” under the argument that “well, it’s the only clinic in the country, so if they didn’t go here they clearly didn’t seek out trans-related medical services. Which, given the aforementioned suicide rates of trans kids is gross negligence at the very least and painfully unscientific (like no, from a study design standpoint, no, just no, you never do that shit).
Also, probably doesn’t help that Singal’s essay literally only quote former mentees of Zucker, because that asshole is the cancer on trans academic literature filling it with this unscientific muck.
In fact, this desistence idea is one that Zucker was very fond of and used to justify his many horrible practices (all in the name of making sure those “80% of cis kids” were weeded out as quickly as possible because again, they are seen as worth more than trans kids [not to mention that to TERFs that quote these papers incessantly, trans kids literally do not exist or exist in such microscopic proportions as not to be worth considering. Because they don’t believe trans people really exist, that we are instead all lying for nefarious purpose]).
Which brings us to Singal
I’m gonna try really hard not to shit on Singal here, even though evidence is mounting more and more that his decision to alienate trans voices and curate a readership of self-identified TERFs is deliberate and intentional, but I feel it is important to talk about the what of what Singal is doing as that is monstrous enough whether he’s just got an academic blindspot or is willingly throwing his hat in with the TERFs.
First up, let’s talk about this desistence. The theory is bunk, but even among those who subscribe to that shitty shitty bunk theory, they willingly admit that their “desistence” numbers magically disappear once they start talking adolescent trans kids and those who actually go on blockers.
Jesse Singal is no exception to this:
The article he cites to argue that he’s not transphobic even spells out that close to a 100% of kids who go on blockers remain trans. And we know from other studies that trans kids on blockers report less dysphoria, suicidal ideation, and depression than trans folks who did not receive blockers.
Additionally, he’s aware of the impact having parents support trans kids before blockers identities has on a student’s mental health and ability to survive as well as the importance of letting a child explore their identities:
So, by this side of his position, he is in agreement with most trans activists. Gender expression =/= gender identity. Kids who actually state they are trans and make it to the age of the onset of pubescence are almost certainly trans, but there is no problem in supporting a pre-pubescent child’s gender exploration and in fact it can be critical to their mental health.
He supposedly gets that.
And again, I’m gonna try really hard not to go off on him, but his article and his statements since the article have largely consisted of demonizing blockers and scary “social transition” (i.e. calling your kid by the name and pronouns they prefer and letting them dress how they want and play with the toys they want to play with, ooooooooh so scary) despite even his awful broken evidence and supposed understanding of issues saying this is scientifically the wrong thing to do.
And he largely does so by raising the scary spectre of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) and non-reversible surgeries (which is the thing every transphobe gets hooked on. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every transphobe weeping over the potential future of my penis despite my having no actual interest in seeking Gender-confirming surgery, I’d be a frickin’ millionaire) happening to your kids. And arguing that mean old trans folks are somehow against this idea that not every tomboy turns out to be an actual boy or not every effeminate little girl turns out to be a girl.
Okay, let’s break this down into sections, cause there’s a lot here.
1. Social Transition, scary stuff, right?
So let’s talk social transition, because that’s been the main way that Singal has tried to raise the demonization of trans children. Most of the “research” he cites focuses on pre-pubescent children, that’s where his numbers of “desistence” come from and its majority focus on gender non-conforming kids rather than trans kids. Additionally, it’s where he shows his inability to tell the difference between gender dysphoria (the feeling your body is fundamentally wrong, something that usually doesn’t hit trans people until puberty, because their body is literally becoming wrong during that time********) and gender-non-conformity (displaying social traits more associated with one gender than the other).
******** That being said, trans kids can experience social gender dysphoria from wrong names and gender pronouns being used. This is usually the experience that clues in pre-pubescent trans kids that they are who they are and is behind more trans kids feeling safer to come out and be who they are earlier and the source of Singal et al’s panic about “younger and younger trans kids, ohmahgod”.
In fairness, the studies he cites also have the same problem given they are largely based on the work of a man who genuinely believed you could get a kid to stop claiming they are trans by forcing them to play with toys stereotyped to their gender.
“Social transition” is all that’s available to trans kids under the age of pubescence. And for the scary title they try and add to it and how desperately his defenders try and make that indistinguishable from the ideas of surgeries************* that transphobes like to fixate on, all it really is is when a child says they want to go by a certain name or use certain pronouns or hang out with other kids of that gender, you let them.
************* Read that whole thread cause it really shows that rhetorical trick exploited to its full extent. “He’s talking about pronouns. Pronouns are easy to switch.” “How would you know, here’s some folks who regret ‘transitioning’ who are all people who regret surgeries“. The whole point of calling pronouns and names “social transition is to deliberately conflate it with surgeries*************** so as to make the freak out over kids using different pronouns for awhile or going by a different name or wearing a dress to school some week seem like something other than a transphobic freak out. Also, “how would you know if changing pronouns is hard…” Ugh. I’ve got some examples below of why this is especially galling, so I’ll just say, changing pronouns is only “hard” when transphobes create a culture of transphobia that punishes kids for asking. And that’s not “letting them choose”, that’s bullying the trans kids to remain closeted so you can go back to pretending everyone is cis.
*************** And of course it is. That’s the source of all consternation about trans people is the spectre of genital surgeries. If you’re trans you will hear no end of hand-wringing about your body parts as if they are public consumption and everyone gets a say about what happens to it. And for transphobes, including the pack of TERFs that worship Singal’s articles, everything a trans person does can be looped back to this primal fear in the same way that discussions about gay rights issues used to always loop back to anal sex. In that thread and in many of Singal’s responses to the article itself, you see the article writer talk about pronouns and blockers almost exclusively and the detractors response is to immediately bring up surgeries and those who regret surgeries (we’ll get to that can of words later). Because to them, all trans people are are surgeries and genitals. It’s all they can think about when they think about trans kids is the possibility that that kid may one day have surgeries or that their genitals might not match. And it’s genuinely disturbing. Not just because this dehumanizes trans folks to their genitals, not just because this presumes a lifelong control over a trans person’s body by scared cis people who will deny even social acceptance out of the fear that one day someone might work closely with doctors and therapists and decide a surgery is best for their needs after years of conversations, but also because it creepily sexualizes trans kids and gives adults an excuse to fixate about kid’s junk to an unhealthy degree. And that last one tends to be on full display when bigots start talking about trans kids in a very similar way to how it’s on full display in obsessions about queer kids. And all of this obscures the fact that “social transition”, i.e. using a person’s pronouns and not being an asshole about their identity is not actually all that scary and is only scary in the context of bigots freaking out and obsessing about surgeries and their own baggage about trans people at the expense of actual trans kids just wanting people not to misgender them all the time.
It’s quite literally THE LEAST YOU CAN POSSIBLY DO TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO IS TRANS.
And yet, it’s critically important. Trans people of all ages try and “socially transition” and its a literal fight for a lot of them, with schools resisting their rights to use the bathroom in accordance with their gender identity, with workplaces and housing discriminating against those who come out, with the high murder rate of trans folks, and with some places actively misgendering trans kids.
Zucker’s clinic was an active opponent of the idea of social transition, seeing it as a negative imposition on a potentially “normal” child and an unhealthy indulgence by a mother more interested in being liberal than doing what is right for their kid (Zucker was a great guy, salt of the motherfucking Earth).
And Singal echoes those fears by connecting them in the minds of his readers with “scarier” transition stuff:
Much of the controversy stems from questions of age: How young is too young to help a child socially transition — that is, to change their name and pronoun, and possibly the way they present themselves? To prescribe them cross-sex hormones to begin the process of physically transitioning?
In this model, if young children’s claims about their gender identity are “insistent, persistent, and consistent,” these claims are taken as face-value evidence that the child is actually trans, and should be socially transitioned with little delay. Zucker and his colleagues’ view was that since, in their theoretical model at least, gender is partly a matter of behavior and identity being learned and reinforced over time, socially transitioning a young kid is likely to reinforce their dysphoria. “I have predicted that we would see rates of persistence increasing overtime as more children engage in social transitioning in childhood,” Singh told me in an email. In other words, if kids who begin socially transitioning shortly after their first appointment at a gender-affirming clinic are more likely to persist and come to permanently identify as trans, and more and more gender-dysphoric kids find their ways into these clinics, the overall desistance rate may well drop over time.
Note in this last quoted paragraph that he literally argues trans kids remaining trans is a negative outcome. The goal, in Zucker’s mind and in Singal’s focus is to force trans kids through abuse and hell that actively harms them, because this might somehow convince them not to stay trans.
The prevention of trans is valued over the health and well-being of the children affected.
But “social transition”, i.e. not being an asshole about pronouns and identity and letting the kid explore with gender is not exactly all that terrifying except to transphobes who are appalled at the idea of their children somehow ending up trans.
And the best part of social transition is that its literally instantly reversible if that identity or pronouns don’t stick. Come to school saying you are a boy one day, a girl the next, to see which feels right to you, change your mind in a year or two? Yeah, doesn’t hurt anyone, in the same way as kids trying to figure out their sexuality and flitting between self-identifiers to find the best fit doesn’t actually hurt anyone.
And for all the hand-wringing of its “disruption”. It really isn’t.
I’m a trans teacher and I have trans students. And as main LGBT mentor, I am often in charge of best supporting these trans students and keeping them alive and safe. As such I was in charge of supporting these students in their gender explorations and pronouns and creating a safe space on campus for these kids to figure out what they were (even if that meant deciding they were cis all along). Two of my students first identified as genderfluid and had shifting pronouns*********. One of them, shifting pronouns that literally switched around from day to day.
********* Between they and the pronoun relating to their gender assigned at birth. Shockingly, despite being an evil trans activist, I somehow didn’t shame my kid every time they felt more like their assigned at birth gender or treat it any worse or less worthy of respect than when they identified with the they pronoun. Nor did I try and exploit their gender fluidity to push an agenda. Almost like we want trans kids and kids who turn out not to be trans to be comfortable in whatever gender identity best fits them… I know, shocking, right?
So, to ensure our teachers could not misgender them while they figured out what fit for them, I would send out daily emails just with the current pronoun the students preferred to use and which pronouns to use with parents until they were ready to come out. One of my students was genderqueer and wanted to explore using multiple pronouns at the same time, so correspondence with them involved switching between he, she, and they between each usage of a pronoun.
So we did that. We practiced. We got good at it. And it didn’t take all that much from us other than some specific focus to do our students right. Currently, the majority of our students have come out to their parents. And for many of them, having the freedom to explore and experiment with pronouns and identities allowed them the space to figure out what they are and have that remain consistent for months and years and find the ways that best helped them treat their dysphoria.
Those kids are also alive, something I’ve worked very hard to ensure, and many of them have thanked our campus specifically for giving them a single space where their identities don’t get them drowned in transphobia and denial of their identities.
This is not hard to replicate. All it takes is not being an asshole and deciding that you must know their gender identity better than them simply because you don’t value it. And that’s really all “social transition” and its assorted hoopla translates to. Not being a dick to kids over their pronouns, identity, or behavior.
So this panic over “socially transitioning kids without delay” as Singal states, is complete bollocks because why wouldn’t you let a kid “socially transition” without delay. It’s literally the least one can do and requires very little actual effort and is 100% reversible in a second assuming you have a system set up that doesn’t socially punish “freaks” for daring to explore their gender.
And to Zucker and Singh, that is viewed as awful, entirely because the idea of trans kids being happy and ending up trans and their precious 80% number not being accurate is a terrifying idea for them. They genuinely like the idea of trans kids going without care and pretending to be cis because it lets them sell to parents the idea of reparative therapy to get them over this “scary phase” without having to do anything so small as using a new pronoun.
And this gets used to deny actual trans kids respect. So many of my trans kids had to fight their parents for every pronoun. Had to build up courage for months and find what fit best for them before hand because they knew their parents wouldn’t support them exploring. Wouldn’t accept them as trans unless they could state a truth without hesitation. And even then getting them to use pronouns can be fights lasting years.
One of my students is a trans male and has known this for years. He is in his teens and his mom still refuses to call him by his preferred pronouns and we’ve had to use “she” in all correspondence home to her about her kid. And this is because she took him to a psychiatrist of the Zucker school who told her it was a phase and to actively resist the pronouns and identity in order to convince him to drop it, aggressively enforcing the “she” pronouns until he relents and accepts it and retreats back into the closet again. His fight to be seen as who he is continues largely because of articles like Singal’s.
And that’s the damage of denying “social transition” for these bigoted horseshit reasons.
2. Blockers and the golden snitch
First up, let’s be specific. Raising the spectre of “blockers”, “hormones”, and “surgeries” in pre-pubescent trans students is fucking bigoted and transparent. Largely because social transition at that age is literally all you can do. They aren’t in puberty yet, so there’s nothing to block. They aren’t in puberty yet, so giving them hormones would be bizarre. And no one’s going to be performing genital surgeries on them**********, because they are not finished going through puberty and thus not done growing. All fears about pre-pubescent kids facing any of those is thus based on literally nothing.
********** And here’s where I awkwardly cough and reference the genital surgeries performed on children born intersex which is somehow still the common medically recommended procedure and which is literally based on the idea of making the genitals look like one or the other default so that it’s less confusing or alienating for cis folks. Like, literally it’s done because doctors are worried “about the child not fitting in during puberty or when examining their genitals”. So again, we see the hypocrisy where even the spectre of genital surgery is enough to deny trans kids pronouns, but we’ll happily make it required for intersex kids to have their genitals surgically “corrected” in order to preserve our societal delusion that genitals = biological sex and biological sex = binary despite its noted harm to intersex individuals growing up. Yes, I am pissed at that shit and the cavalier hypocrisy this underlines.
So let’s talk blockers. Blockers are what is currently given to pubescent kids and really all that’s given to pubescent kids until the kid is around 16-18. Puberty blockers are frickin’ magical. Because all they do is delay puberty. Basically they are only prescribed when the person is starting puberty and is showing the first signs of going through a puberty that will likely induce dysphoria in them. And what it does is buy time for the person to figure out if they are actually trans***********.
*********** This buying time also conveniently marks the trans kids by their delayed or absent puberties at the same time as their peers, but who are we to suggest that this is working as intended. Especially when lawmakers and school officials are playing around with various ideas to identify and mark their trans kids.
That’s it, a big ol’ delay switch. If at any point the trans kid’s like eh, fuck this trans shit, I’m actually super cis, they can do so as easily as stopping taking their blockers.
The day they stop, their pubescence will pick off where it left off. The worst having happened is being a late-bloomer. And given that this is a medication, it has one of the fewest list of side effects, being safer for kids to take than even over-the-counter medication like Ibuprofen.
Not that this stops Jesse Singal panicking over this like its lead in children’s toys:
And this is where I have to stop myself from just straight up screaming at him, because this is willfully blind.
He straight up admits most kids assigned blockers don’t “desist” and remain trans. He straight up admits that the costs of not going on blockers is horrifying and terrible for trans kids. And he’s too smart an individual to not know that the only existing alternative in existence right now is forcing a kid to go through the wrong puberty and somehow survive that, unnecessarily. He has genuine sympathy for kids like many of my students whose parents struggle on the 1st step of social transition, much less letting them have publicly available medicine that could keep their kids from going through a puberty that is visibly making them more depressed and suicidal************.
************ And I speak from direct observation here. I had a trans male student who went through middle school into high school. As his body developed more and more into that which he didn’t want, he became more visibly uncomfortable, awkward and exhibited more self-harming behavior we had to put him on watch for. His parents were even supportive too. They used his correct pronouns and referred to him as their son. But they read a lot of pop science articles like Jesse Singal’s demonizing blockers and so denied their son them because “it’s probably a phase anyways” and “I’m really scared of the idea of surgeries” and a bunch of other nonsense completely unrelated to what blockers actually do. And I’m tired of seeing kids who didn’t have to go through the hell of the wrong puberty that I did forced to go through it anyways simply because a bunch of transphobic pieces of shit decided to throw whatever bullshit at the wall in the hopes that it would stick, because they want to deny that they are appalled and terrified at the idea that trans kids exist.
And yet, here he is, tsk tsking a critic, because “what, why would we dare medicate a child who might not need it”.
And to that, I say, what the ever loving fuck.
My school is specifically focused to serving an at-risk student body in general. Mental health, LGBT, drug addiction, debilitating injuries or disabilities, that sort of thing. Kids who’ve been through hell and need some support getting through stuff.
As such, a number of my students struggle with various mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and bipolar. And so for these students, every month is sometimes a medical carnival as their psychiatrists try and find the right dosages and drugs to deal with their pubescent body’s reactions to the drugs needed to get their mind to stop trying to kill them. Our bipolar students in particular tend to shift medications very frequently as the hormonal changes mess with what is and isn’t working at any given moment.
As such, this notion of “why bother trying a kid out on a medication if it might not work” is just… literally stunning.
And the answer is somewhat obvious. You medicate a child who might not need it, because that’s how you find out what is working or not and what is helping or not. You try an anti-depressant on a suicidal patient. Maybe that works, maybe that doesn’t. Maybe that’s the wrong drug because the patient doesn’t actually have depression per se, they have bipolar and so a different set of medications is needed to treat it.
You try things out because there’s already a noticeable problem needing adjustment (the patient is dysphoric and is starting to go through the wrong puberty).
To go, “why would we use medicine, maaaaan”, is to deny a kid diagnosed with diabetes their insulin shots because “hey, it might be a gland disorder or diet or something, so why don’t you do without this necessary potentially life-saving medicine for a bit while we make extra double-sure you’re not faking this diabetes thing for attention”.
It’s unnecessarily cruel. More than that. It’s medical malpractice.
We don’t deny people medicine that might help, that is approved as ethically safe by our medical institutions, that’s been heavily tested and vetted by the FDA, and which is therapeutically recommended for patients with that condition out of our personal ideas that we somehow know better than them what they need.
For Jesse Singal to state this is appalling and seems to hint rather strongly that he simply does not value the health and well-being of trans kids and their right to receive medicine that could help them. That can literally be gone off of at any time to resume their original pubescence if they so choose.
Especially when his literal next tweet was:
Which was then followed up with:
And ugh… where to even start.
Detransition and Ex-trans
Okay, so, first up, let’s note that we didn’t even get to hormones and surgeries because those don’t really occur until trans kids are forced to jump through hoop after hoop to prove that no really, despite the 90 billion times to turn back, I can confirm that I am truly genuinely trans. And as such, isn’t even offered as an option until late teenagehood at best and more like young adulthood. Even if the kid has remained consistent for years. Even if Jesse Singal admits that the rate of kids on puberty blockers who “desist” and change their mind is near zero.
Hell, he opens his article with a scare story about a parent who acquired their child hormones somewhat illegally or certainly without official approval:
“He had been on puberty blockers since the age of 9,” Helen Webberly, a general practitioner, told Lyons, discussing a 12-year-old patient to whom she prescribed cross-sex hormones. “He would have to now wait until 16 to get testosterone. This child has always been a boy, never worn a dress, always played with boys. He was so ready, his mates are starting puberty and he’s desperate to start puberty. I felt and the mother felt and the child felt it was the right time, so that child’s now on cross-sex hormones.”
12 years old, you’re supposed to cry! Why, that’s much too young! I must weep and worry about surgeries even though this boy just wanted to go through puberty at the same times as his peers and not be left out.
All to raise the spectre of this happening more frequently. The whole article is designed to raise the idea that this sort of thing is happening younger and younger and being “pushed” on kids even though he again, readily admits that the “desistence” rate of adolescents (i.e. the age of kids who’d be at around this example boys’s age) is near zero. And yet, when called on it, he’ll deny and claim that people readying a scare story about trans health care are “misreading things” and “showing their anti-science bias”. All while citing studies all from one single crew of people, peddling stuff his own statistics disprove, and here, straight up trying to recruit a group of ex-trans fuckers to harass a critic and references “gender detransition” like fucking Focus on the Family does, citing this and recruiting voices as if to pretend this is some grand number of people, when it really isn’t and those that do exist tend to artificially inflate their numbers by citing folks who “detransition” for reasons other than no longer viewing themselves as trans.
And this is the point where I’m just seeing red. Because this ex-trans shit and “you can change” garbage should not be being given a free pass after so much ink has been spilled on the horrible damage the ex-gay movement has done and how thoroughly they’ve fucked up so many kids. When we are now more aware than ever at the sheer awfulness of reparative therapy.
But somehow, it’s trans kids, so who gives a fuck, right?
And I’m even more incensed because he straight up overvalues cis kids and the fear he has of them possibly having regrets about thinking they were trans than trans kids being forced to go through a puberty they don’t want and don’t have to do. He readily admits the number of “detransitioners” is near infintessimal, and yet he amplifies their voices over trans kids (none of whom he actually quoted or interviewed for his articles on trans kids, though he certainly takes his time to reach out and recruit and highlight the stories of “ex-trans” bigots who’ve joined hate movements), even when their stories often have literally nothing to do with puberty blockers or social transition or even hormonal stuff************.
************ He cites one case in specific which is a woman who feels she was “railroaded” into transition, but she describes an endo who literally had no idea what trans people were and literally had to google care guidelines because he had no idea and the thing she says she regrets is a double mastectomy she had in her early adulthood. Oh, and she also deliberately kept quiet about adverse health effects because she really wanted to transition, so I’m not sure what the message is other than, hey, we need to force every kid to go through the wrong hormones and need to have later surgeries in their early adulthood, to prevent the possibility of one single cis kid having to go through with that. Oh and she belongs to a TERF network actively harassing trans folks, but let’s forget about that last part.
And of course, it’s not frequently about hormones, because hormones are pretty easy to get off of as well. You literally stop taking them and then, boom, back to your old hormone patterns for better or worse. And if you stop taking them within the first three months (which is usually far long enough for people to notice if this is suddenly inducing dysphoria in a major way), then it is completely redone and reset by your old hormone patterns within a few months. Again, as medical procedures go, it’s safer than most things, but regulated like liquid gold out of the fear that some cis kid could “irreparably harm their fertility” using them out of the “delusion” that they were trans (again, among TERFs who are Jesse Singal’s biggest fans, all trans people are deluded and secretly cis, so in their minds no one should be allowed hormones or surgeries or even “social” transitions because in their minds, we’re all ex-trans waiting to figure it all out.
And again, I’m speaking from personal experience here. My enbyfriend went on testosterone for a period of time, about a year actually, but had to drop it because the hair growth was making them feel dysphoric. They are not “not trans”, they are just non-binary. Since, they’ve restarted their old hormonal patterns simply by stopping taking testosterone. And that’s meant things reshifting back to how they were, with little overall effect and all the old dysphorias of the old system as they try and figure out their next steps to best address their dysphoria with the options available to them. The lasting effect is “their clitoris is a bit big and can serve as a small dick”, same as a person who did steroids for a period of time in their youth. And that’s with a full year of the stuff. Hell, they are even still fertile as much as they wished they weren’t.
And yet, Jesse Singal is peddling garbage from ex-trans activists and arguing that this undoes the evil trans narrative of “everyone who has dysphoria being trans” and buying their bullshit that gender identity clinics somehow don’t support “detransition”*************:
************* Okay, this pisses me off, because A) trans people get shit for medical care. So, some ex-trans acting like the mean trans people lobby somehow moved to block them from accessing “de-transition services” because all the doctors are focusing just so hard on giving trans people all their time and energy is downright offensive. We have to fight, beg, borrow, and steal every moment of health care, usually against hostile gatekeepers, but somehow we’re in control of a medical institution we can’t even reliably get to see us as human and using it to deny ex-trans folks care. B) It’s a transparent copy-paste from ex-gay narratives that argue that all the gay organizations and services discriminate against ex-gays and don’t affirm their “equal” “lifestyle” in their literature. And C) Most “detransition” care is simply going off of stuff. Want to “socially detransition”? Tell people you’re your Assigned at birth sex. Done. Want to “detransition” from blockers? Stop taking them. Done. Want to “detransition” from hormones? Stop taking them. Done. Want to “detransition” from surgeries? Well, no it’s actually taking effort, but here’s the dirty secret. It’s totally available and open to folks needing to do that, the only catch is that it’s just as difficult to obtain as transition related surgeries and ex-trans folks believe that as cis folks, they shouldn’t have to suffer the ignominy of that to get “restored” and so pitch a fit that they have to jump through the same shitty hoops as trans folks to receive the surgeries they feel will best serve their gender identity. And well, yeah, that’s the bed you created with all your wailing about how our existing system of bullshit isn’t nearly onerous enough for trans folks. You made it, so you get to lie in it, same as us.
And chiding folks for not seeing “both sides” like a fucking creationist or an anti-vaccer. All while accusing trans folks of not being more aware of the folks who gladly joined our oppressors and working against our access to health care and arguing that all of our kids have to go through unnecessary hell all to protect the glimmer of a thought that one cis kid might have to go through a fraction of what we regularly expect trans kids to go through.
And at that point, I find it extremely difficult to not conclude that Jesse Singal knows exactly what he’s doing. And for all he says he empathizes with trans kids, he simply does not value them even a fraction as much as cis kids.
Conclusions and side-note on trans folks being unfair
These mythologies, these scare stories, hurt real kids. And they hurt real kids, serve to deny them care they need, simply because the narratives that folks like Singal accuse trans folks of spreading “against science” just don’t get out there all that much.
Most parents are much happier to believe that 80% number means their child who’s said they are trans for years is one day gonna magically decide it’s all a phase and become cis that they straight up deny their trans kids care until they tragically end their life like Leelah Alcorn did.
I’m on the ground. I get to pick up the pieces of these types of clickbait horror-shows selling “you were right to be concerned about the trans menace coming for your kids” and “science totally backs your misgivings about supporting your kids” narratives. The one trying to keep them alive as their parents deny them care that could end their pain out of a misguided idea that this will somehow be a kindness to the cis kid hiding deep inside of them.
And I get to see how close we are at every minute we are to losing them to the transphobia in our culture and the pain that such untreated dysphoria causes. We want excuses not to deal with the reality of trans individuals and their medical needs. We want to make it seem terrifying for a trans person to use a bathroom, to use a new pronoun to refer to someone, or for a kid to use medicine to see if it helps a condition they have.
Because if we do that, then we don’t have to evolve. We don’t have to accept how this changes things and that the way we did things has changed.
Jesse Singal thinks this acceptance is against science and cites discredited articles from people literally stripped of their roles by scientific bodies who found their work distressing and harmful and folks in active hate campaigns against marginalized individuals as non-biased sources. And even then, he ignores what his biased studies say when they argue in favor of more compassionate and accepting medical care procedures. He thinks this is somehow an act of censorship against science itself, as if science was pure and virginal and never allowed to be wrong.
And well, it’s not. Hell, things exist in scientific parlance today that really shouldn’t.
One of the classes I teach is Forensics Science. And so, every time we get to hair analysis I have to give a talk about how slow science is to adapt to the existence of people who are not cis straight white men and how this can lead to science sometimes feeling painfully behind the times. I have to give this talk not because I’m an evil PC-culture lieberal destroying the ethical foundations of science, but because of how the existing science refers to the racial category of hair fibers.
Basically there are three categories: “Caucasoid”, referring to hair fibers likely orginating with a European origin, and then… CONTENT WARNING: RACISM… “Mongoloid” to refer to hair fibers with a likely east asian origin and “Negroid” to refer to hair fibers with a likely african origin. These terms are genuinely horrifyingly out of date and bring visible cringes to my students. And I feel genuinely uncomfortable teaching this section, because the terms of science were put down by racist white men and the field has not quickly adapted to this and fixed it.
This happens all the time. We’ve had to change how we study things like heart attacks, because we were for a time treating the white male as a default state for all humanity and thus simply overriding actual symptoms of heart attacks in women as “non-indicative” leading to an adverse survival rate.
And a lot of times, it has been the community most affected who has had to gently remind science to actually look at them and recheck the assumptions they have always gone by. Black folks were responsible for breaking through the horrendous scientific racism of the 1800s, women were responsible and are currently responsible for undoing a lot of our sexist myths, gay people had to create their own literature and studies to counter the hate machines of Focus on the Family and the American Family Association. And now, trans people are doing the same with the horrendous state of affairs that has been trans health care and science up to this point. With folks not connected in the Bailey, Blanchard, Zucker triumvirate actually contributing their studies and evidence disproving the horseshit that they peddled for so long. With trans folks putting forth their life experiences to counter universalist statements of who is “allowed” to be trans.
And this leads me at very very long last to my final point.
And that’s Jesse Singal’s very first framing and the central problem with his whole persecution complex surrounding the trans individuals who have critiqued his bad science, the very title of his piece:
What’s Missing From the Conversation About Transgender Kids
The “missing” is implied in the essay and in Jesse Singal’s tweets to be trans folks not wanting to talk about kids who are just gender-non-conforming but not trans. Who don’t want to talk about non-binary spaces or folks who don’t want all the transitions, or even folks that change their mind and don’t identify as what they did anymore. That we are so inflexible we can’t stand any critique of our orthodoxy and that and only that is the reason we are so unwilling to politely tolerate someone shoving harmful discredited “science” in our faces. Because of our inflexibility.
And it’s this essence that reveals that Jesse Singal truly has no clue what he is talking about, that he is bereft of trans people in his life, or if he does, that he lacks empathy and connection to their lives in a meaningful way.
Because trans people as a whole, and especially in the last decade or two have been incredibly accepting to diversity. And this “you’re not thinking about this” smacks of “you feminists aren’t paying attention to muslim women’s issues” arguments. Because yes, feminists were the ones to bring those issues to your attention. Muslim feminists in particular, the first to beat the drum of what had been happening to them. And it’s the same with trans folks.
Trans folks have worked tirelessly to try and reduce the amount of shit a gender non-conforming cis kid gets for their non-conforming behavior, in reducing the weight of gender norms because we remember thinking we were our birth sex and being brutalized for what we were into or how we were. Trans folks have worked tirelessly to try and value the voices of marginalized folks outside the binary and have worked with queer communities to help aid the rights struggle of gay, lesbian, bi, pan, queer, intersex,asexual, and so on communities. They have in many cases been an amplifying voice to intersex people and their fight to be recognized in scientific classes and to stop being mutilated in childhood.
And we might not always get it right, but we work harder than most communities to respect our diversity. We’re one of the few communities that fully supports genderfluid and genderqueer individuals and a lot of us came from gender-non-conforming movements like drag or the stone butch scene. And what we argue for is that every kid has the freedom to explore and figure out who they are and not have to defeat an army of gatekeepers intent on pretending they are all cis. What we argue for is to improve things so our trans kids can SURVIVE.
We’re not talking about “desistence”? True. We don’t often talk about hate terms designed to marginalize us and make us seem like a crime. But we do talk about how not every kid who plays with dolls is going to grow up to be trans or gay. We talk about how gender expression =/= gender identity. We talk about the freedom of letting kids figure themselves out and not abusing them for it. Our webcomics and art are full of this idea (comics below are from Assigned Male by Sophie Labelle):
This rhetorical trick where the marginalized are accused of the bad behaviors of their oppressors because their oppressors don’t want to change and adapt and accept what the existence of the marginalized people means regarding their assumptions needs to stop. And it is disingenuous to pretend that trans people are somehow undermining science by participating in science how it was intended to be participated with, finding their own studies, disproving old bunk theories, making the field of science more accurate.
And to Jesse Singal, I will point out three things to conclude.
1) The medical community agrees with trans people on what best serves them. You are free to disagree. But the onus is no longer on us to disprove the ideas and protocols that were shed. It is on those who want them maintained to defend their merit and prove the new ways are harmful. So, you can do that or you can whine about it, but if you do the latter, we trans people are not being the ones who are anti-science.
2) Your work is harmful to trans kids. When you imply their lives are worth less than the idea that a cis person might have to go through what we expect them to endure. When you sell disproven mythologies to their parents that reinforce their fears, that’s not on them “misreading your work”, that’s on you to check your framing and assumptions and make sure you are not reinforcing bigoted nonsense.
3) Fuck your word games with framing.
No, I’m sorry, but seriously, fuck the bullshit word games. Like, you’re a professional wordsmith. You know what you are doing when you frame a discussion about kids “socially transitioning” and use words and arguments echoed by hate groups to imply fear about surgeries. And fuck your “I’m just defending and talking about science” when right now trans kids are fucking fighting for their right to be seen and survive and when there’s little to no conversation about what they face and the actual safety of what services exist now.
And fuck your “I’m being technically accurate” bullshit, because it’s the same shit we’ve seen a thousand times before. Doing this “ooh, what about desistence, even though it doesn’t apply to the population I’m talking about” and “Oh, what about the poor ex-trans, you trans folks aren’t talking enough about them” dance is the frickin’ equivalent of chanting “all lives matter” to a “black lives matter” protest. Yes, it’s technically true, but it’s still fucked and deliberately trying to erase the fact that the other side does believe all lives matter, but that there own is not being considered part of that all.
And so with trans healthcare, to pretend we have actual power, that it is a heavier question to wonder about the ex-trans already receiving the same care as trans kids over the trans kids just trying to access any health care, you are saying you do not value the suffering and suicides of our children. That we are worth less, because we are not cis.
And for what it’s worth, we take care of the folks who are gender-non-conforming but cis. We ally with them. We’ve marched with them. We’ve let them come into our meetings and figure out if this trans thing fit them. We encourage them to explore who they are. We’ve done all we can. So fuck you if you’re going to pretend we don’t simply because we refuse to sit still and let poisonous garbage be spewed at us without response or let folks condemn our health care because they once thought they were trans, but now have aligned themselves with hate movements against us.
In the same way that gay groups are not wrong for not accepting the casual bullshit of Robert Oscar Lopez and their right to harm our lives and families based on their negative experiences and feelings surrounding their time identifying as gay. And for criticizing every debunked anti-gay factoid he throws up to try and argue legally against our rights and against treating gay kids like human beings.
And I’ll be damned if I watch my kids suffer or worse, kill themselves because some cis prick wants to believe that he’s a brave centrist seeing through the “extremism of both sides”.
Cause I don’t want to spend the next 10 years teaching watching kids who could have the blockers they desperately need or the social acceptance they so desperately need denied to them because of school officials and parents believing that some asshole still mourning the closing of a Reparative Therapy Clinic is telling the truth when he says the consensus of science is that most trans kids are going through a phase.
Especially when he can’t even bother to believe that is true, except when convenient to escape the reality of how his arguments are being used to harm others.
What has TV Science wrought?!?
We tried to warn you.
Way back in the very first Mangotime!, we tried to warn you all about the scourge of the Canadian teen soap opera Degrassi: The Next Generation. How its depiction of a handful of LGBT characters have erased all non-LGBT characters from all other programming.
Well, you didn’t listen!
Now, Degrassi has committed an action so heinous and unconscionable, that a devoted mother was forced, forced I say, to catalogue it for all posterity as a warning to others.
That’s right. It…I can hardly find the courage…
It brought up the acknowledgment of bisexuals to her and her son (despite the fact that Degrassi doesn’t currently have any out-as-such bisexual characters). Thus forcing them to have to discuss the existence of people he will encounter in real life.
If you don’t understand the horror of this, you’ve never been a mother…while certifiably insane.
As such, this week, we must take you deep into this woman’s personal hell caused by the unending rampage of… Degrassi!
Latest Tween Fad… Bisexuality is Hip by the blog Education Knowledge
So Im watching spongebob on Nickelodeon final week with my thirteen yoa son
Your 13 year-old watches Spongebob? I mean, no judgement, people enjoy entertainment meant for a different age group all the time, but seems a bit…
Wait, this is about a 13 year old? I.e. starting high school or a year before starting high school? I.e. you really should have had the fucking birds and the bees conversation by now? I.e. your son probably already personally knows at least one out LGBT person by now?
A point? No, I wasn’t making a point, please go on.
and I see a business promo spot for Degrassi as I see two girls professing their deep need and adore for every single other in breathless, very grown up ways followed by a super slow camera shot of a romantic kiss of sizzling intensity and I must saymagnificient cinematography.
My neck felt hot as I instinctively moved to rub it, my other hand, slipping across my chest as I found my legs suddenly warm and chafing together. I’m not sure what caused this, but I’m guessing Satanism.
And in shock, Im thinking to myself undoubtedly that wasnt what I thought it was ? Not an openly lesbian lead storyline in one of the most significant pre-teen television displays on Tv ?
Queers? On my TV? And they allow this? My pearls have never been clutched as tightly as now. My word, don’t we have people to prevent this sort of thing from happening? Some sort of closet arrangement so we can keep our children in some sort of LGBT-free bubble so that they don’t think our bigoted responses to the concept are “sad” and “archaic”?
I mean, what do good christian women pay their taxes for?!?
10 minutes later on I see it once again and once again the promo runs of a romantic lesbian scene with the newest awesome new music packaged as quite as can be no accident, no mistake now.
Girls kissing other girls chastely on the mouth is only a big deal if you’re so repressed you force your 8th grade child to only watch Nickelodeon cartoons intended for children half his age?
Sorry, forgot my manners there. I meant, “my word no, obviously Nickelodeon is peddling in smut”.
Teen Nick has moved from their role of empty entertainers to sexual education and learning.
Okay, that was sarcasm, but we’re going to need several responses to encapsulate all the wrong packed into this one sentence.
1) Yes, how dare Teen Nick cover issues teenagers might be dealing with. What’s next? Shows with kids in high school?
2) Sex education has a definition and unless Degrassi has moved away from its soap opera style and started doing informational displays on proper condom use, it’s definitely not meeting that definition.
3) Yes, everyone knows that acknowledgement of lesbian romantic connections is the same exact thing as sex, because… well, it’s all she can think of when she thinks of lesbians. Hot sweaty lesbians, pawing at her pants buttons and… clutch the pearls, this too will pass. Pray away the Gay wouldn’t have lied to you (hint: they did).
4) It’s fucking Degrassi! Degrassi has covered abuse, rape, sexual harassment, assault, violent bullying, suicide, cheating, open and frank depictions of sex and sexuality, and so on. And that’s usually in one season. It’s a soap opera for teenagers. Complaining like it showing a girl-girl kiss is “crossing a line” demonstrates that this “watching Nickelodeon with my kid” “ritual” isn’t one that happens very often, because otherwise you should be VERY aware of what Degrassi is.
No longer are they just focused on making shareholders much more cash, or launching the worthwhile careers of its tween and teen heart-throbs.
Um, I think your mixing Nickelodeon with the Disney channel and its unholy factory of pre-packaged pre-teen virginal stars who magically start selling themselves as sluts around legal age.
And Degrassi is part of the “making money” thing. Its relatively popular for a teen show because its relatively good for a teen show. And that’s despite all the various wingnuts who’ve blown a gasket over how it doesn’t hide away the issues teens face for the sensibility of professional “moral guardians” crying to high heaven about “Teh Children”.
Teen Nick has moved well beyond just making mindless candy pop kids shows that outline the well-known and stunning. Their reveals have extended been the rabid fare of pre-teens, desperate to grow up faster and watchful to emulate the ideal hair designs, whitest teeth and latest fad fashions of their stars
Again, Disney. Not saying Teen Nick is free and clear of that trend. Hell, most teen programming probably isn’t free of it, but you are complaining a common argument against the pre-teen-marketed Disney shows.
But, no, continue. I’m sure your arguments will retain gravitas and seem to be coming from a position deeper than “ew gays, make them go away”, despite failing to understand Degrassi’s regular programming or teen programming in general.
Or really much of anything.
Well, that shouldn’t be a problem, it’s not like your blog title consists of two words relating to knowing…
now it seems they are actively advertising bi-sexuality as being a far better way of encountering teen really like and coming of age life lessons for todays kid.
SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! THIS WEEKEND ONLY, SEE THE AMAZING BISEXUAL JUMP THROUGH THE FLAMING HOOP OF FIRE! RIGHT AFTER TRUCKOSAURUS!
Also did you know that acknowledging that bisexuals (well, actually a single lesbian kiss by a character who’s an out lesbian, so don’t no where all the rants about evil bisexuals are coming from) exist, means forcing their superiority on others?
Those of us who dig through the muck of homophobes are often accused of being overly willing to attribute closeted attractions to such people (making jokes that all homophobes are gay and so on).
Well, it’s because of shit like this. Because we are constantly ripping through a post where a writer is saying the only thing keeping us from a world of endless bisexual orgies is the fact that people are kept ignorant about the existence of bisexuals.
When the leap is “I saw a lesbian kiss” to “Going bi is the superior lifestyle”, it’s hard not to assume that her bookmarks tabs are filled with sites she is “researching” for a “new article on girl-on-girl pornographies effect on declining moral values”.
But I digress!
Fellow parents out there, you need to know the scene I noticed is just a sampling of the adult media that has now moved into the mainstream teen tv planet
And you thought I was kidding when I said Degrassi’s single trans character has erased all cisgendered characters from all entertainment every where. Silly fool, the LGBT takeover is nearly complete. There are token characters on literally dozens of shows and occasionally a long-running series will devote whole ones of episodes to talking about LGBT issues.
If we don’t stop the creeping homofascism, the chance of a wingnut having to acknowledge that LGBT people exist and aren’t actually demonic phantasms that exist only to taunt them with their smoking hot bodies may approach double digits.
And then where will we be?
and they are becoming amazingly good at glamorizing bi-sexuality as the newest wave of pop culture to our most vulnerable age group tweens. (little ones among the age of seven-thirteen)
Evidence of this glamorization?
Hell, evidence of bisexuality (seeing as her one example so far is a lesbian character she just assumed must be attracted to guys as well)?
Fuck, evidence that these shows are being marketed to tweens (shows like Glee and Degrassi are marketed to teenagers with themes chosen to match those realities)?
Why would we need that?
Think of the children, oogedy boogedy. I had to talk to my near-high-school level child about the existence of gay people! Think what could happen to your seven year old? Why looking at two ladies sharing a chaste kiss is far more traumatizing that sending them to a Catholic Church or anything run by Jerry Sandusky.
And no, we’re not even going to get into the massive fail of assuming that one can “catch” bisexuality simply because it is “trendy” or that it’s “trendy” simply because it is occasionally acknowledged in media.
We will briefly get heavy serious for a moment to knock the idea that it is inherently wrong to talk about bisexuality or queerness to high schoolers and middle schoolers. A good number of kids are going to grow up in the hell-hole of hormones that is middle school with attractions that don’t match up with the “normal” of their classmates. Kids who have been violently bullied for those attractions, necessitating projects like It Gets Better to try and address and reduce the number of kids who kill themselves over it.
The precious artifact children of people like this lady do not need to be “protected” from the knowledge that gay kids exist, but those bullied queer youth sure as damn well need a positive role model in their media. A fellow young queer kid on their programs to remind them that they are not alone, that it’s worth holding on through the pressure hell of middle school and high school.
They fucking need that all-too-rare token character on shows like Degrassi because that’s all they fucking have.
No one else wants to acknowledge that people like them exist, because of disingenuous parents like this who hide behind their children to try and legitimize their own desires to erase certain people from being acknowledged in our culture. To keep all of our entertainment white, straight, able-bodied, cisgendered, and centered entirely on frivolous middle class issues, because they don’t want to be exposed to the realities that the rest of us experience. Because they don’t want to be educated and think that they can get the whole world to get behind helping them keep their children as ignorant as them, simply because they raise a ruckus “for the children” at the drop of a hat.
And I’m sorry for the seriousness of that in a post that has already veered serious quite a few times, but it’s something that really needs to be addressed more in our culture.
Now, let’s return to the mangos.
This latest episode of Degrassi should serve as a warning for all of us who are seeking to preserve any semblance of a biblical entire world view for our people of faith.
Damn you real world with your insidious facts and their unbearable liberal biases! Why must you mock the poor people of faith, just trying to retain a biblical world view where the world was 6000 years old and unicorns and dragons totally did exist.
It’s just like those fascist cops who tried to infringe on my “deep personal beliefs” with all their blather about “how I wasn’t allowed to drive my car through crowds of people” just because I wanted a closer spot in the movie theatre. I mean, my 13 year old son needed to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. You didn’t expect us to have to walk to our seats where poor people and anti-Christian folk might assault him at any minute, did you?
We can no more time assume the stuff on mainstream Tv is secure.
Me speak english good.
The shows my little ones used to observe on Nick or Teen Nick at least respected the balance of getting a moral neutral value for usage those days are gone.
Little ones? The earliest kid you’ve mentioned was a 13 year old and no offense lady, but you don’t seem the type to show restraint when it comes to hiding your bigotry behind a child.
How old is the other “little one”? 29?
We cannot presume any more time that the stuff on Nick or Teen Nick can be watched un-supervised or at all.
Thats a frightening issue when you quit to feel about how effectively Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon have educated and entertained this very same era for a long time, starting out with the innocence of these reveals as Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants and then as our kids expand older, they begin to insert the tremendous awesome teen show Degrassi with all of its rot.
And comic books. Sure, you get them started on Donald Duck books and then all of a sudden there’s Watchmen and Preacher.
Or movies. You start them on Disney princesses having perfectly innocent adventures giving up their entire identity for a man and squelching any individual ambition and then all of a sudden they face movies with actual plots and maybe even an acknowledgment that people fuck.
Or life. You start them out on the bottle and yelling Bible verses at them about how much God hates their sinful naked body and then they go to school with people who aren’t like them and learn tolerance and respect and don’t view Harold as a sinner just because he’s gay or Ahmed as a terrorist just because he’s a muslim.
And even if you can prevent that, they still grow older and start having nasty mean teenage problems like sex and drugs and dealing with suicide and can’t we just preserve them for all time, unblinking statues of childhood preserved.
Come here children, mommy’s going to fix everything now. The Taxidermy book will make it all better. Now children will be with mommy forever and ever.
Like God intended.
It would seem on newest episode of Degrassi the producers decided the greatest storyline possible for our pre-teens and teens would be to highlight the newest in point for our youngsters, exact same-sex connection for tweens and teenagers.
It’s almost like they were trying to address teens who have same-sex attractions and euphemistic “connections” with them. With one single lesbian character on the main rota amidst a sea of heterosexual characters dealing with their various heterosexual relationships, having or deciding not to have heterosexual sex and that’s on the “daring” show Degrassi that’s got all the wingnuts in a tizzy.
Cause once that’s in, bam, nothing on TV but endless reruns of L Word and Xena Warrior Princess. It’s not so much a slippery slope as a wormhole in space-time.
Soon after observing the episode on the internet I felt the core concept of this show appears to sayfor you to be as great as the youngsters on Degrassi, its time to acknowledge you want to be openly gay with your girl good friend.
It must of said that. It said that to me. I recorded it on the Tivo, pushing away that spoiled brat who complained about things like “I was watching that”, “when are you making dinner” or “Mom, you’ve been watching that same clip for 24 hours straight now”. I could think of nothing but Michelle’s perky breasts poking out of her tank top as she collected her kid from a play date. Our kids actually hate each other, but I don’t care. Her smell intoxicates me, drawing me ever closer into her web.
And that’s why we need to stop Degrassi. It puts these wrong naughty thoughts into the heads of
me our most impressionable young people.
They dont skimp on the guys becoming into men on this show possibly, but for now this is adequate. Ive copied the storyline summary from the episode in question for any parents who treatment to go through it. Its not even delicate its sick.
Just thinking about it has drained what little writing ability she has left. To be fair, it must be hard to write a post semi-intelligibly when one hand is jammed so far down your pants it is legally in another county.
She then quotes the Degrassi episode synopsis in its entirety. Because I apparently hate you all, I’ve reproduced it in its entirety. Please feel free to skip over it.
Degrassi: In As well Deep Recap: Season 10, Episode 42 “Chasing Pavements, Component Two” (04/09/2011)
A lot more Degrassi: Recaps | News and Forged Interviews | All Tv Recaps
Fiona arrives out. Fiona has effectively finished rehab, but up next on her plate is going through the vicious Bobby, her physically abusive ex-boyfriend. But Bobby delivers the family $a hundred,000 to not go to trial. Fiona is completely in opposition to taking the settlement, but her mother is concerned about how the trial may emotionally affect her, and thinks she should consider the cash. But with Holly J’s support, Fiona convinces her mother to allow her push ahead. Fiona surprisingly retains her individual on trial, but can not take again the simple fact that she embellished the bruise in the photo she took of her scar, and after Bobby’s testimony, she commences to doubt her determination, and considers turning to alcohol, until her coping methods arrive in excellent handy. But when an additional girlfriend of Bobby’s arrives ahead and confesses that Bobby has abused her as well, Fiona’s circumstance is manufactured. She wins $250,000! In her happiness, she kisses Holly J on the lips!
Fiona has a romantic dream about Holly J and realizes her emotions for her greatest good friend. Holly J and Fiona strategy a sleepover collectively, although Fiona reconciles with Adam about their previous and sets up a movie date with him. She confesses that he wasn’t a issue in her life, and she nevertheless likes him. But while they are hooking up, Fiona tries to compliment him for becoming “the greatest of the two worlds”, and Adam storms out, telling Fiona that she just wishes a woman. The next day, she confesses to Holly J that she does not like Adam any more. In turn, on their sleepover, Holly J realizes she loves Declan in a way that she does not feel for Sav. When her mother comes property, Fiona confesses to her that she’s gay, and she’s in really like with Holly J. Her mother completely supports her, and tells her that it won’t be straightforward, but she can get through it. She comes clear to Holly J that she’s gay, who also isn’t the least bit bothered by it.
You didn’t need to read it all. But if you did, you probably noticed one big thing. “Gosh, that sounds like a soap opera aimed at teenagers”. And you’d be demonstrating your ability to prevent lesbian kisses from melting your ability to process information.
Thus proving you are part of the Dyke Cylon Force hellbent on enslaving America. We’re on to you vile Robotic Wenches! You will not get our children with your hypno-rays!
Seriously if you have taken the time to study this far you are recognizing what I did, the culture our little ones are residing in and around has been teaching them to abandon the standard views of faith and family and sexuality for some thing a lot cooler bi-sexuality is the way to go if youre as hip as they are.
Again, where is all the “bisexuality is hip” coming from?
Especially seeing as how she messed up the cardinal wingnut rule and actually quoted the original source of the thing she was complaining about, thus demonstrating that she’s freaking out over a lesbian coming out story.
Apparently it goes:
Step One: Tell a story of a fictional lesbian.
Step Two: REDACTED for reasons of sexy
Step Three: Everyone’s a bisexual!
How a lot of thousands and thousands of teen and tweens living in the chaos of their individual confusing and un-glamorous lives are currently being swept into this deception ? I imply this display is openly suggesting that if you care for a good friend, and they are the identical-sex it extremely properly could be that your attracted to them because your gay or bi-sexual. And not only is that o.k, but its really very awesome to do.
And it’s not ok. You should rot forever in the closet, holding that secret shame deep inside as you force yourself to ride the cock of a man you don’t love and stay in a loveless sham marriage always dreaming of that person as you cry into the pillow and violently shrug off your partner’s attempts to hold you.
Because that’s Jesus’s plan for you.
Also, she’s totally not gay, why would you think that. It’s just that bisexuality is so very seductive and trendy and other kids, female kids could get sucked into those obviously fictional media-induced attractions that could never exist in reality.
What are you staring at?
Mothers and fathers, Im begging you WE ALL Want TO WAKE UP!
Our planet is changing the principles and its happening on our watch. Our little ones are getting fed a developing diet regime of sexual storylines, pictures and role modeling that is influencing an entire era of little ones with a various gospel and a various fact than the one they listen to from us.
The world was filled with black people who refused to quietly suffer in the background and insisted on living full real respected lives, so we packed up our things and moved to the suburbs. The world was filled with women refusing to suffer silent as homemakers and spoke up about sexual consent, female sexual desire, desire to work from home and other things so we spent decades trying to dismantle the sex education programs they created and block almost all depictions of real female empowerment from media because it was “a higher rating level”. But now the walls are crumbling. “Those kids” are in the suburbs, going to the schools that were meant to keep them out. Bullying is not keeping the queers and the weirdos quiet, people are having to talk. And the internet, that demon-spawned device connects them to everyone, anyone.
There is no where else to hide. No where else to retreat to to raise them ignorant and contained in insular little communities.
They are looking at us with eyes mixed with hate and pity, wondering why they were denied life because of their parents’ hate.
Liberals will pay for that.
Make sure you take the time to talk with your little ones, block the teen nick channel if you dare on your house cable or satellite tvs and make clear your beliefs and values with your little ones These days. tomorrow may possibly nicely be also late.
Sorry for the lengthy and ominous blog nowadays, but it frightened the crap out of me when I began to study this a bit.
Yes, I totally believe you’ve “studied it”. Your writing demonstrates that thoroughly.
God, help us lead this generation back into the fact and hope of our faith as Christians. Heres to people who are determined to keeping their people on the road and in among the lines of daily life Im encouraging you to discover out far more, evaluation what your little ones are watching from the Pc, to the iPod to the televisions in your property. Consider an Energetic Part and Presume nothing. Its a scary time to be a father or mother, but I feel God has a method and a plan for people of us who take the time and pay attention for it.
Consider the time right now.
Holy Bob, Guardian of Stuff, forgive me for laughing my ass off over pleas like this. It’s just it is so damn funny when someone is literally begging God to try and make history and reality stop so they don’t have to grow and acknowledge reality.
Well that’s some egg on my face. From the entire pearl-clutching freak-out and overproductive nature, I totally assumed a mother and you know what? That’s bad on me.
I fight hard for the right for people to be themselves regardless of gender norms and I cheer this man’s brave stance even as a hyper-repressed Christian to live the gender stereotypes of a hyper-repressed Christian of the opposite sex.
Strike a brave blow, Peace Out brad, for all of us*.
This concludes another Mangotime!
*Which also changes the interpretation immensely. Sure, he’s assuming that a lesbian kiss will make all the girls bi because it’s personally irresistible to him. But that’s because he’s a giant egotist and assumes that just because he finds two young “Hollywood lesbians” locking lips the hottest thing ever, any woman watching will do the same and be unable to resist the brain-washing. I think I preferred the version where he was just a repressed lesbian.
If you can’t trust a supposedly straight man with a gay porn stache, who can you trust?
*In the Sadly, No! commentariat, there is a long standing meme that when dealing with wingnut articles, it is always best to stay on the boat of the site instead of venturing out for the rotten mangos of the original posts of the nutjobs and psychotics. We here go into that depth of that insanity and bring it all back. Welcome to Mangotime!
Today’s example is h/t Substance McGravitas and is perfectly tailored for me.
Let’s dive in shall we?
I have the utmost sympathy for men and women who feel they are trapped in the wrong body.
Nuh uh, I’m not a bigot.
At the same time, Western society is heading in the direction of what can only be called transgender insanity, or transanity for short.
I just play one on TV.
Consider these recent examples.
Oh goodie, an idiot who doesn’t fully want to seem like a bigot grossed out by the very notion of transgender people is going to show us what he considers to be “bridges too far” and examples of transgendered insanity. Be afraid, people, be very afraid.
1) In England, two married men (and fathers) divorced their wives and began living together as a gay couple, after which they decided to identify as a transsexual “lesbian” couple (yes, male “lesbians”), after which one of the men had sex-change surgery, which makes them eligible to be married as husband and wife, even though the husband still identifies as a woman
You’ll notice first off that wingnuts hate citing the things they reference or if they must, they’ll cite other wingnuts’ reactions. Likely because they fear that exposing their readers might accidentally make their arguments look like the complete idiocy that they are.
Luckily for us, he is a talented enough moron to do the job for us. Yeah, two people divorce the partners they weren’t actually sexually or romantically attracted to and went with themselves, escaping the bigotry keeping them from acknowledging themselves until kids had already gotten into the equation. Most people would see this as a strong reason for greater acceptance so people could acknowledge who they are earlier and start living that sooner instead of dragging people into a lie of a life.
But not Brown, he’s down with Medieval-era Catholic Church. Once you marry, you’re married for life, and he doesn’t care if it isn’t what you really want, that’s what stableboys are for!
Also, Michael, Michael, Michael, talk about screwing up your initial front of “understanding the transsexual” and not being a bigot, when in the first example, you show yourself completely unable to understand transsexuality 101 (hint: they aren’t male lesbians, they are lesbians and transwomen).
And yeah, trans people end up exploiting all sorts of loopholes in the desperate attempt to keep the queers from marrying, loopholes that make a mockery of your “no queers” allowed stances on gay marriage.
No sense getting mad at the queers for that. Don’t want to be made to look like an idiot supporting stupid laws? Don’t support stupid laws.
2) Chaz Bono recently received criticism from the transgender daughter/son of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, born Kaitlyn but now, at age 19, known as Stephen.
Your second example is something a 19 year old said?
Also, why is this so shocking it needs to be the lead? My word, did you know that the transgender community is not monolithic like the bigoted community?!? And that liberals have internal debates and criticize each other?!? Have you heard of anything so unseemly?
(Remember that Chaz, who remains female from the waist down, danced as a male on Dancing with the Stars, raising the legitimate question: What constitutes male or female?)
It’s almost like the state of your genitals has nothing to do with what sex you are inside or what your mental sex says you are. Hey, if you didn’t want to be mocked for not understanding Trans 101, you shouldn’t have opened like you were some friendly old pal to the trans community just shocked into gobsmackitude by these kids today, donchaknow.
After Chaz had explained that being transgender could be likened to having a “mismatched” brain and body, similar to a “birth defect like a cleft palate,” Stephen wrote on his blog that, “Chaz is a misogynist. He is a trans man who seems to believe that his female-assignedness and his female socialisation makes him immune from being a misogynist, and he is manifestly wrong.”
Yeah, that’s the amazing thing about quoting two disparate statements with no links, you can make it seem like someone is just leaping down someone else’s throat with no reason.
So what went down?
Okay, not going into it fully, here’s the link to Steven’s actual long post explaining his views on Chaz Bono.
Overall, despite it’s inflammatory title, it’s basically about the nature of conflict about having imperfect “spokespeople” be the “public face” of a little known group. A) That it’s good that they’re out there and how we want to defend them against the bigotry that gets hurled at them for being who they are and support what they get right, but B)that they can be imperfect and unfortunately reinforce other horseshit.
Steven’s main trigger is that Chaz called being trans a birth defect to explain it which maybe wasn’t the best word, but hey, different people take it differently and unlike the right, when you say something potentially offensive, people will comment on it. But the reason he calls Chaz a misogynist is related to other comments of Chaz’s where he basically argues that all men are hornier than all women, and that women are talkative gossipy stereotypes that the T! (duh duhduh!) has made him unable to deal with now that he’s all manified.
Basically, I’m losing the comedy flow here, because it’s all about holding our spokespeople to a higher standard on the left and trying to improve them out of wallowing in whatever privileges they do have and supporting the full community. Each person has their own tolerance for that in what they forgive or focus on. I won’t say that Steven is wrong, he’s actually correct, though I would argue that it’s more an issue of privilege fail (i.e. unconscious absorption of cultural narratives).
Anyways, so one transman criticized another transman for some unconscious misogyny and this is insane because…?
And how does Stephen describe “himself”? He is “a gay trans man for whom both identities are equally important, a white anti-racist, a feminist, and a poet.”
That’s not really saying anything-Oh, right, wingnut land, sorry. I’m sure, he just saw the words gay, anti-racist, and feminist and his mind clouded pink with random rage. Grr, my readers have been trained to hate these things and forget they have actual meanings, this will make a great example.
So, rather than remain Kaitlyn and be a young woman attracted to men, Stephen (who is still female) identifies as a gay man
Yeah, that’s how it works, trans 101. It’s almost like it’s about what people are internally and being true to that, rather than what would make your life experientially easier. A man with a brain might suspect that this might argue in favor of transsexuality being a real thing rather than something trans people invented to piss of wingnuts, but Michael Brain is not that man.
as well as a feminist.
I love this little end to the line. “As well as a feminist”. He identifies as a gay man AND a feminist, but how can this be? You can see his mind reeling in horror as he has to confront that the real world has nothing to do with the straw-man of feminists as man-hating women just trying to be bitches and that feminism might actually really be about the treatment of women as full human beings. No! That can’t be! His identification must be a contradiction for not following our straw-men! Also, he’s a girl, he’s got girl parts!
Keep it classy, Browny!
3) Dan Savage is a gay sex columnist and a vocal critic of traditional Judeo-Christian morals, best known today for spearheading the “It Gets Better” campaign.
Oh, oh, no, you really didn’t want to combine your slam against Dan Savage with acknowledging his role in one of the most inoffensive anti-bullying campaigns out there right now. Yeah, he’s against judeo-christian values like telling gay kids to kill themselves now, because it’ll never get better!
Juxtaposition, how does it work?
Recently, he became the target of trans activists who glitter bombed him twice in November. He was branded a “transphobe” for using terms like “shemale” and referring to “freak tranny porn” (although Savage, on his part, claims that he was simply repeating words used by a questioner in his audience).
So, two of his examples are basically his shock that liberals don’t march in lockstep with each other like conservatives? Really doing your case proud there Browny when you show yourself more out of touch with reality than Marie Antoinette. Yes, liberals argue with each other and strive to improve their heroes rather than fetishizing them and hailing their fuckups as the standard we all must aspire to. It’s almost like we aren’t authoritarian tools just looking for a Leader.
Oh, right, the Dan Savage thing. Dan Savage is a great activist for a number of issues, his “It Gets Better” Project is fantastic. He also frequently fails on issues of sexism, asexuality, transsexuality, transgender issues, ableism, and so on. He’s imperfect and he fucks up, people call him on that, some people have written him off entirely because of that and have demonstrated directly.
One of his critics, writing on the Bilerico Project, is Tobi Hill-Meyer, whose bio states, “Tobi Hill-Meyer is just about your average multiracial, pansexual, transracially inseminated queerspawn, genderqueer, transdyke, colonized mestiza, pornographer, activist, writer.”
(Whistling softly while I look at my own header).
Also love the wingnut consistent shock at people having long descriptions. Yeah, that’s part of explaining where you come from. If we didn’t assume that everyone was a white straight man from default, Browny would have to regularly identify himself as a “caucasian, monoamorous (with regular non-negotiated trips to the truck stop), transracially inseminated (and how), but with hardworking repressed parents, cissexual, cisgendered, transvestite (only at parties), publicly heterosexual, American supporter of colonialism, pornography customer, “activist” for cash, and proud recipient of wingnut welfare for “writing” often with a big black dildo up his butt”.
But he doesn’t, because unless you say otherwise, you are assumed, straight white male family man, no matter how many bathroom dicks you suck.
And yeah, all those words mean something, you could look them up and learn, or you can pretend long descriptions make someone an unperson.
Ah, I see you’ve chosen the latter.
Does this qualify as transanity?
Two internal community critiques and a transsexual lesbian community who had to stagger their sex changes so they could marry by British law, yes, truly the height of the horrors that could happen with transsexuality.
All that rampant child molestation, regular molestation, murder, and insanity we regularly argue would happen if we gave trans people any rights? Um, well, look at that long list of self-descriptors in that one girl’s blog! Isn’t that silly?
(And yeah, I swear half of the reason for conservative resistance to minority rights is based around having to learn and respect that everyone isn’t just a white male default. How dare other people than me exist, this must not stand!)
Before you dismiss all this as totally fringe, remember that Chastity/Chaz Bono is a very public figure
Yeah, but Chaz Bono was the subject of that one article, or are you arguing that one person noting that he wasn’t a perfect spokesman somehow just cancel him because we are apparently working by Calvinball logic.
that in 2006, New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority ruled that men who identified as women could use the ladies bathrooms at all subway stations
Women can use women’s bathrooms? In certain limited areas, depending on state or specific institution law and how willing they are to risk potential harassment from bigots?
Will this violence against straight, white, cisgendered people, never end?!?
Also, yeah, the argument against is always that said women are somehow a threat to the “regular” women, yet it turns out that transpeople just want to shit and the signs on the doors don’t really keep out people who plan on raping or assaulting someone in a bathroom and so most bathroom pervs tend to just dress normally rather than risking being beat up as a tranny. But hey, why let reality ruin a great scare tactic?
that more and more TV shows are normalizing (and even celebrating) transgenderism
DEGRASSI! Where will fans of cisgender characters go now that this show and the handful of others with trans characters have apparently eliminated all non-trasn characters from all television and movies? Where?!? Tell me!
and that, in one high school, a male teen was voted class queen while in another school, a female teen was voted class king.
MASS HYSTERIA! Why it’s almost like people are starting to notice that some of the strict enforced gender horseshit is kinda stupid and it’s almost like your real issue with transgender people is how they make a mockery of your view of gender essentialism. Where women are women BY NATURE and men are men BY NATURE and both follow 1950s gender stereotypes BY NATURE and only are attracted to each other BY NATURE.
Also, seriously, why do you care about what one high school does and… fuck you’re probably talking about two transpeople being elected queen and king and are doing that annoying little “if I refuse to believe they are their correct gender, then they aren’t and thus are silly for thinking they aren’t what I think they are and acting the way I think they should act” thing again, aren’t you?
Keep it classy, Browny. Keep it classy.
And let’s not forget that Massachusetts just passed a radical transgender bill
DING DING DING.
We have the source of butthurt, people. This here is the reason for the entire article.
So what’s this “radical” bill that is so nefarious he can only really talk about how radical and wrong it is?
It’s a Non-Discrimination Bill. Pretty standard too. Can’t fire a trans person for being trans, can’t throw them out of their lodging for being trans, can’t deny them public education they would have otherwise qualified for for being trans, etc…And yeah, it’s all about public spaces and public law.
So yeah, the evil insanity of transpeople thinking they can be out as transpeople without being fired and discriminated against.
according to which, “’Gender identity’ shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” (Yes, this is now the legal definition in Massachusetts.)
And you know, the accepted legal definition of a transgender person. You know, how to legally define an umbrella term for all those who fall outside the gender binary or present themselves as a sex other than their birth whether or not they identify as such or not.
It’s also about gender identity in general so it protects cisgendered people from being harassed for being cisgendered by roving bands of genderqueer thugs or fired from their jobs for their filthy cisgendered habits by their bigoted transgendered bosses.
Huh, why don’t these staunch defenders against “minority overreach” never cheer those much needed protections from the “attacks” against them.
Is it all just bullshit to try and make their desire to see “weird” people punished for not being “standard” sound like a principled self-defense rather than naked bigotry?
That’d be unpossible! No conservative would ever stoop that low!
The MassResistance website
SPLC recognized hate group says what?
explains that that the bill, “Forces charter schools to allow cross-dressing and other transgender behavior by students, and to include that in their published non-discrimination statement.”
And you sent them to charter school to be away from filthy poor, non-white, non-straight, or non-cisgendered people!
And yeah, shock of shocks, the recognized hate group with the long history of lies is lying (I know!). Like with every non-discrimination bill known to man, “charter schools” are “forced” to comply if they accept government money. The deal is simply, want to be a bigoted private institution? Then don’t demand government money or government preferential treatment for it! But of course, they are protesting for their god-given right to take government money while giving a hearty fuck you to state and federal law.
Fly proud brave segregation supporters! Fly proud!
MassResistance also warns, “You could soon see your day-care provider, second-grade teacher, waiter, school bus driver, store clerk, etc. be a man wearing a skirt and lipstick, possibly with hormone-enhanced breasts” (their emphasis).
Be scared. Be scared. Be scared.
Yes, if we don’t bury all transpeople far out of sight and prevent them from getting any jobs and surviving in the world, ideally until they die of suicide, hate crime, or starvation, then we might not have to acknowledge that they are normal people, capable of doing the same jobs as anyone else and may even be people you end up knowing and respect.
Also, love how the hate group lead off with “we are so dogwhistling ‘transpeople are child molestors’ and then backed off into looking like an idiot”.
My word, they could be a store clerk or a waiter? Why those could be occupations I have momentary interactions with and should have no damn concern if they are employed there other than a desire to have knowledge of real people hidden from me at all times!
I especially like the “waiter” one. Yes, they could infect YOUR FOOD with their transgendered waves, causing you to become inherently queerer by the second. Why you might even start wondering if your ultra-macho front isn’t just a sad attempt to hide your flaming homosexuality or the fact that you don’t think feminine pursuits makes your balls fall off.
And then where will we be, people?
WHERE WILL WE BE?
But why this should surprise us? After all, the mayor of Silverton, Oregon, Stu Rasmussen, was first elected as a fairly typical, heterosexual male, but then, after “acquiring cleavage,” he was reelected as a heterosexual, cross-dressing, cleavage-flaunting man (who has a girlfriend too).
My word, it’s like people don’t inherently fit in the neat little boxes we proscribe for them and such people refuse to hide themselves away from polite society.
And there’s not enough bigots around to keep them hidden and denied! They’re even getting political offices, what’s next? Forced sex changes for conservative pundits? It would be irresponsible not to wildly conjecture like a paranoid crazy person!
No seriously, it’s not his argument, but a lot of wingnuts seem to be unable to grasp that something not being “banned and unacknowledged” doesn’t make it “mandatory for everyone”.
He did come under criticism for one specific incident, though, and in August 3, 2009, he was censured by the city council after making an appearance at a children’s meeting in an inappropriate outfit, specifically, an open-backed bathing suit, a mini-skirt, and high-heels. Yet those criticizing Mayor Stu were careful to point out that they had no problem with him dressing as a woman at this children’s meeting. They only had a problem with him dressing immodestly as a woman.
Yeah! They should have censured him for being a freak! In front of children no less! Won’t someone think of the children!
What you say? Spending over 30 years using children as a thinly veiled tool to argue that most of human experience be hidden from the entire public because “children might find out” but really because you want certain people and things hidden has made people less sympathetic to that argument?
Well fuck, conservatives sure are fucked now. That’s pretty much all they’ve got.
Oh and Stu’s “scandalous miniskirt”?
Tame. As. Fuck.
And not actually complained about by the children, but rather a single parent who probably was already freaking out that her child was learning that transpeople don’t have horns and the smell of sulfur like her mommy told her.
This is nothing less than transanity.
Okay, so now we have more definitions of this word. It now refers to two accounts of internal liberal arguments trying to improve our spokesmen, a couple working through the stupid ban on gay marriage so they can get married and thus reveal the attempts to block it as the dumb bigoted nonsense they are, a transgendered mayor getting hassled by a skirt that wouldn’t be looked twice at if he was a cisgendered female teacher (my eighth grade teacher wore shorter miniskirts), and of course, trans people thinking they are allowed to exist in public without being denied jobs and housing and otherwise being discriminated to death.
I do not think this word means what you think it does.
In fact, it seems to be suggesting a definition of:
“The act of reducing a wingnut to babbled half-thought out objections to the very notion of transpeople living lives without official state-level rebuke for daring to exist and thus demonstrate the fiction of their views of gender essentialism”.
Okay, Mikey McBrownington, you’ve aligned yourself with one of the top anti-gay hate groups in America, one which has been listed as an official hate group and you’ve basically bitched about trans people not acting like authoritarians and daring to exist.
Let’s have a huge finale. Drum roll.
When the MTA made its 2006 transgender bathroom ruling, Gloria David, a retiree from Connecticut, remarked, “I would not like that. I have nothing against gay men or drag queens, but they can use the men’s room. I just don’t want to go to the bathroom next to a man.”
Nice. Good strong start. We’ve got a random quote likely fisked from a newspaper article from the time you’ve got stored on your desktop to remind you of when the anti-gay racket was booming strong and bringing in the sweet sweet lucre and using it like the random nutjob they brought in to “show both sides of the debate” was an actual authoritative voice. This is the pure wingnut insanity we crave.
Today, Ms. David’s perfectly understandable comments would be labeled transphobic.
Yes, keep it up! Beautiful demonstration of complete lack of self-awareness. Why yes, the bigoted ramblings of an old woman from another state whose confused and scared reactions to things she’s been trained by people like you to fear would be labeled transphobic. In fact, that’s kind of why she was quoted, because newspapers aren’t allowed to say, “trans people want the right to pee, but some random assholes are preventing it because they want to dick with them and make money promoting fear of The Other”. Instead, every article nowadays must be “X says X, but Y says Y, this issue is hotly debated, who is right? Who knows? We’re not here to step on toes by figuring out the answer”. If the modern press tried to tackle lynching it would be:
“Mother of the victim said it was a travesty of a crime and the perpetrators brought to justice, but a local spokesman for the KKK said that uppity negro boys need to know their place, surely this is a hot issue that will not be resolved any time soon”.
Should we have compassion on those who feel there is a “mismatch” between their body and their brain? Absolutely.
But should that extend to letting them have jobs, places to stay, basic tools so they can survive, or really be allowed to exist anywhere where others may become aware of their existence?
God no, that’d be crazy talk.
Also, love the attempt to try and play “friend of the transsexual” again. I know I just spent an entire post failing Trans 101, deliberately getting the genders of everyone mentioned wrong, mocking the very notion of people not identifying as white, straight, and cisgendered, and arguing that a standard non-discrimination bill was an affront to good decent people, and the only citation on my page is a link to an official hate group committed to eliminating all rights for transgender and otherwise queer individuals, but I’m not a bigot, I swear.
I have compassion for you.
Hell, I may even step over you as you’re freezing to death outside after you’ve been kicked out of your housing and denied employment rather than kicking you in the chest.
Because I care.
But we should devote our energies to understanding the causes of their mental and emotional conflict with the goal of helping them from the inside out.
A divergence between their mental sex and their biological sex and/or inherently not fitting within cultural models of masculinity or femininity or cultural or sexual designations of man or woman, because like much of biology, things exist on a spectrum rather than a clear cut binary.
Oh. You were dogwhistling “send them to an ex-gay facility to scare them back into the closet ideally with the threat of open discrimination and public bigotry”. Sorry, didn’t mean to step on your toes there with my mean old reality and its vile liberal bias.
Otherwise, if we craft laws and embrace social categories based on how people identify themselves, we had better get ready for more and more “feminist gay trans men” along with “pansexual genderqueer transdykes” – and that’s just the beginning.
Yeah, if we acknowledge that not everyone is a straight white male, why that will totally “create” these demonic beings out of the Aether to suck upon our life essences and force us to acknowledge the existence of people who are not us… and that is scary…somehow…and somehow a threat to people.
Listen, the reason is long descriptions are scary, because you have to do reading to understand what they mean and some of the words don’t even have scare tactics in place to tell you the strawman reason you should hate them beyond “it ain’t nat’ral”. So just shut up and hate on queue and send me some money to hate on the trans people because the gay hating racket is looking dry as bone these days.
And yeah, love that “feminist gay transman” made a comeback. I know you want to believe in the strawman of the man-hating lesbian, but men can be feminists too, even the men not trying to sleep with women. Because it actually has a definition and isn’t just a scare tactic for the right to trick conservative women into thinking basic dignity is synonymous with Satan.
Also “pansexual genderqueer transdyke” means a transsexual woman who is part of the lesbian and queer communities, but identifies personally as bisexual. If you spent time learning who the people you hate were rather than just trying to self-justify why it’s okay to hate them, you might not look like a complete tool.
In a word, get ready for transanity.
I heard repetition is good for creating a new meme. So I repeat the repetition of the term that is repeated so you know its repeated over and over so that you go out there and don’t even have to think when some trans person is like “blah, blah, blah, you’re a goddamn idiot”, you just go “well, that sounds like transanity to me” and laugh to yourself and don’t listen to the trans person going “um, do you realize that you just sounded like you were calling my arguments sane and reasonable and thus your own the unprocessed horse feces that they are” and you don’t even have to process that because your brain is safely on vacation.
Take that, transfolk! Conservatives win again!
Oh, Michael Brown, your insipid failure has given us much to work with, but it is time to say goodbye.
Yeah, so after my last post, I had planned to roll out some big projects. Well, that didn’t quite work out as I then spent over a month having to screw around with iTunes just to get the first thing I had planned semi-functional.
Well, I’m not going to promise revolutionary yet, but I’m going to try and have more content.
I am proud to announce a new podcast created by me featuring all original Lesbian Pulp stories called Lesbian Pulp Theatre Podcast.
The first two episodes are up on iTunes for subscription, or you can be old-fashioned and check out each episode as it’s uploaded to the archives. The first arc will be 4 episodes long and the last two episodes of the arc should be out and uploaded by end of December.
If you’ve got ideas for future arcs, please leave them in the comment thread.
If you know me on Sadly, No!, you’ll know I do this thing in the comments there sometimes where I go in and takedown an article ripping it apart and occasionally even approaching funny.
Well, a random recommendation by Substance McGravitas on the last post made me think, hell, why not do a weekly thing here where I find a piece of wingnut drivel and rip it apart?
So expect to see the first example of that in a couple of hours.
This is still in the future as I want to create a buffer first, but part of this last month has been brushing up my video editing skills for a new project where I will be ripping into bad movies with transgender characters, mocking both the terribleness of the movies as well as the offensive wrongness of the characters.
It will be called Transgender Media Fail and I hope to start releasing it early next year.
There may be more, but hopefully this will give you all something to enjoy in the meantime.
So some of you may have noticed that I update at the same glacial pace that tortoises fuck. Well, I thought to myself, “Self, surely my readers deserve more than that” and so it was. Starting soon there will be a few additional regular projects that will be popping up to give regular content.
First up on that list will be a regularly updating podcast called Lesbian Pulp Theatre that will present all original radio plays done in the Lesbian Pulp aesthetic.
Why am I as an asexual doing this?
Because I like writing plays of all types and because like many minorities, I can’t help but become intimately familiar with more dominant cultures (even if they are not the dominant culture).
So if that sounds fun to you, please check it out in the link above and I’ll let you know when it’s been approved by iTunes so that you can subscribe there.
If you have at all paid attention to the Right during this economic downturn, you have noticed their firm disbelief in the idea of a social safety net.
“Entitlement programs”, “wasted money”, and so on. In their eyes, welfare and other safety net programs in place to take care of the unemployed, the unable to work, and those who are down and out merely breeds laziness in those who partake in it and actually does harm to the employment rate.
In their eyes, the unemployment rate is the way it is because of the laziness of “moochers” stealing the hard-earned money of the “productive class”.
Now, all of this is patent bullshit. Hell, at this point of political debate, the fact that it comes from a right-winger at all is already a giant clue that the argument has no connection with reality or sound policy.
We could talk about how UI and other aid to the poor have some of the highest impacts per dollar spent of any stimulative expenditure. UI has a $1.64 economic impact for each dollar spent, meaning the government is actually gaining money in expanded economic activity and thus taxes paid back when they “waste money” on the poor.
We could point out that countries with a strong social safety net have some of the more robust economies. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were able to much easily ride out the global economic collapse than countries with less robust safety nets. Scandanavia in general has one of the highest rates of entrepeneurship and has actual class mobility, where the ability to form a start-up and succeed is much easier than in the states. This fantastic article from Inc Magazine points out that the presence of a robust safety net allows those with ideas for businesses to take a risk and start a business for they know that if they fail, they won’t be ruined. Shockingly, seeing as how most new business ventures do fail, having that not mean potential death encourages people to take a risk and be innovative. Robust welfare systems instead of breeding cultures of waste and laziness show the highest rates of innovation and some of the robuster economies in the world.
We could even point out that in the type of capitalist system we have that there is a minimum unemployment rate that the economy is not allowed to dip below. Thus, there must always be at minimum at least 5% of the working population out of work at any time and that’s not counting those who are unable to work or those who have taken themselves out of the workforce entirely (retirees, full-time homemakers, people unable to work for physical or mental reasons). This is necessary for the economy that there always be people out of work, looking for work that isn’t yet there. Raw empathy alone would argue that if we are always going to have less work than people looking for work that two things would be true.
1) That such people should be given a basic ability to pay rent, food, and other necessities.
2) That the image of the jobless as lazy and unwilling to grab the plentiful jobs that must exist is fundamentally untrue.
Furthermore, we could point out that our current economy does not have a problem of companies seeking to hire and being unable to find takers, but rather companies refusing to hire and using the downturn as a reason to become even more selective in hiring, looking to hire the recently laid off of rival companies and seeking those with 20 years experience for entry-level jobs, thus making it nearly impossible for even the hard-working to break into even basic level employment.
And indeed, I have pointed all this out, but it’s not what I want to focus on in this post.
Sure, they are wrong at nearly every level, but let us look just at the most basic assumption.
That fear, fear of unemployment, is the greatest motivator for looking for work. And furthermore, that motivation of lacking a safety net is the only thing preventing complete surrender and slacking off
Let us address the second of those points first.
The thing is, people want to work. They want to feel useful and like they are contributing rather than feeling devalued, a drain on society, or worthless. People want to work to feel external validation for their worthiness and will seek it out even when the pay isn’t dramatically different. Those who don’t do so tend to find their validation in the self and for the most part they will try and find worth in activities they choose themselves such as personal projects.
In many ways, the fact that the “poor people are lazy and won’t get work unless forced” meme is so seductive to so many is proof that a critical American text has gone unread by too large a section of the population. That text is The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.
The titular “Feminine Mystique” is the longing of the housewife to engage in activities that are valued. Since housework and childcare were devalued both by men and society, a stay-at-home homemaker felt infantilized, devalued, massively depressed, and almost manic at the repetitive chores and lack of purpose. Even today, someone stuck at home often has a mental weight on them and is in need of clear delineators of when their “work day” begins and ends, frequent release to the outside world, and important hobbies to retain sanity.
There may be a few who take advantage of a generous system, but for the most part, people who are able to work in any system will do so, because the mental weight of being an unemployed layabout is often emotionally crippling as the Feminine Mystique painfully points out in harrowing story after harrowing story. Such experiences are not gendered.
And now let’s address that first part. Are people more motivated by fear than other methods to search for work?
Well, no, not really. We can look to countless psychological reports that fear actually shuts down the ability of the brain to think at its peak ability. Furthermore, fear and dire potential consequences often induce strong boats of depression and despair and as anyone who has suffered depression can tell you, depression means immensely lowered energy reserves, longer sleep schedules, and so on. This means less time available and less energy available to send out applications and continue job searches. Add this with businesses’ desire to hire happy workers and the fact that job searching is an emotionally tumultuous and unpleasant activity and one can see that making it even more harrowing and difficult is about the same level of good idea as beating an abuse victim to try and stop them from flashing back.
I can definitely attest to this personally. I have kept putting out applications and chasing leads, because I genuinely wish to work, but such work has been immensely difficult emotionally because the complete lack of available of safety net that means a damn makes search incredibly difficult.
For the last year, I have been gripped by the fear, dread, and panic that conservatives argue make one a better job searcher. As such, I have drifted into deep depressions. Each job search and each failure feels more like a personal evaluation on my worthiness of life (a deliberate desire of the conservative model, the unemployed’s ability to survive is directly related to their ability to get someone to hire them and hire them for living wage). So after the thousands upon thousands of applications I have turned in in the last year and two months, the evaluation has become one of absolute meaningless. My mind has often betrayed me. I have become unable to do anything but search for jobs and weep for months at a time, feeling guilty even for simple self-care procedures or taking any time in the pursuit of projects that could even make me some small income if I were to finish them. I have repeatedly over the course of this campaign been reduced to complete breakdown, unable to do anything but cry and hold myself tight. And I am ashamed to admit that thoughts of suicide have certainly been making their attacks on my psyche.
Cause the thing about high consequences is that it doesn’t motivate one to grab hard on the tightrope and battle the angry horde back onto some semblance of balance. It motivates one to surrender, to give up to the hopelessness of a cause and accept the seemingly inescapable fate.
I don’t say these things out of desire for pity, but to point out that it has only been through my will, my desire to do this for myself that I have been able to send out any applications, despite all the rejections, because the mental torture of having no safety net makes each action so much harder than it needs to be.
Indeed, very recently, I have been at my most productive in the long year I have been unemployed. I had been receiving aid from a relative and I had just begun to believe in it as a makeshift safety net. The pressure finally lessened and I was able to put forth applications and simultaneously work on two side projects that I have been very excited about pursuing and which could make me some small bit of money if I am able to complete them to my standards.
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like a zombie, barely shambling forward on nothing but momentum, but someone genuinely excited and full of spirit. The mental energy wasted on raw fear of the future had been alleviated and allowed to actually work on productive acts for my improvement.
With a safety net, I was able to truly be motivated.
Not just doing it because I had to, fighting every mental scar, and relying on my personal will, but with full emotional and mental batteries actually working on real and important problems rather than simply focusing on base survival.
Things were easier and I had an easier time doing the activities for my future good when I didn’t have to worry where next month’s groceries or rent was going to come from.
This is a lesson that Scandanavia and most first-world nations have already realized. That a safety net doesn’t make tightrope walkers jump and instead makes it easier for the walkers to perform their maneuvers instead of being unbalanced by the fear of death if they should fall.
Fear doesn’t motivate, it only cripples.
And I feel that again.
My relative will be unable to continue helping me in future months. Don’t worry about me, I think we should be able to survive fine and I’ve got a few more months of aid to turn into desperate minimal savings.
I’m not saying this to request aid or pity, but rather to note that with that news, all the comfortable motivation I felt has fled and I’m back to the same scrap and scrape feeling I had been for a year, relying on will to continue forward and fighting mental and emotional betrayal by my mind to cloud my ability to work on both applications and my own projects.
Having the feeling however illusionary of a reliable safety net and now having the feeling of a complete lack of safety net again, I can understand viscerally how such “motivation” doesn’t motivate. How it demotivates, breaks, and destroys.
The right, as they always are in their arguments about society and human motivation, are full of shit.
You didn’t need me to say this, but I hope this further illustrates how every petty, mean assumption they bring to bullshit like the Debt Crisis and the so-called “Spending Crisis” are woefully lacking in veracity.
These are people’s lives, who are being asked to die, who are suffering until eventual bankruptcy and death, because a bunch of sociopaths think that a lack of a safety net will make people search harder for non-existant jobs.
This. Should. Not. Be.
I don’t care what else should be true, but that at least, is the minimum our empathy should expect. That such a system should not exist and no one should have to go without food or shelter because someone thinks they’ll be “more motivated” without them.
I just recently finished writing a long post on the recent atheist community’s privilege fail with regards to Rebecca Watson doing that most vile of female actions, talking about a problem related to the treatment of women.
I’d recommend reading that first, because what I’m going to talk about is a lot of the double-talk that got invoked in that whole rigmarole.
Specifically a lot of dudes were very upset with Rebecca Watson that she or any other woman would ever feel threatened by being cornered in an elevator in the middle of the night, having consent ignored, and being asked for sex at 4 am from someone you’ve never met.
Yet at the same time, whenever a woman is assaulted, the refrain from many men, including many of the same men is that the woman should have done more to prevent that occurrence. The woman brought it on herself. She should have been more forceful with her refusal, never have gone to that location, been in an isolated location with them, should have resisted, carried mace or a taser, and so on.
That would be the first double-bind.
Women are asked to be on guard against rape, to expect it at every action, and engage in refusals far and above the normal standards for refusal. And yet even minor actions like being skeeved out and feeling disrespected by skeevy and disrespectful behavior is treated like a Grand Crime against all men.
Men want women to be perfectly on guard against rapists, but perfectly trusting with them or anyone else they may remotely identify with including in some respects actual rapists. Perhaps in a world where rapists are kind enough to wear identification tags and introduce themselves as such, that could be close to a sane and non-contradictory state of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”, but in this world?
I’ll also note that some of the people terribly upset at the gall and rudeness and disrespect (to the man of course) of Rebecca Watson to be talking about this and refusing because she was tired, uninterested, disrespected to, and he was skeevy and didn’t seem to pay attention to consent or context also recommended that she and other women should “carry tasers or mace if they were so worried”.
This double bind is not worth counting, but worth noting for the sheer chutzpah in arguing that they would totally have a woman’s back if she tazed a guy for being skeevy and creepy while exonerating her for being polite to the person and merely reporting the behavior as unfortunate. Yeah, we believe you, because there is no evidence that that wouldn’t be seen as equivalent to a woman chopping off every penis in the Greater Chicago Area.
Another double-bind, labeled number two, is one brought to light by the issue. Related to the previous one about trust, many minority groups are asked to trust dominant group allies and are often raked over the coals when they dare be suspicious of the support, suspect it to be fair-weather or read into actions patterns used in the dismissal of said minority group or other groups in the past.
And yet, incidents like this reveal the fragility of that support when it brings up issues outside of the duh level. Sure, there was support when it was foreign cultures doing FGM, sexism in religious societies, and even ideas like rape and abuse in general are bad things, but then an incident like this rolls around and suddenly leaders in the community can’t wait to tell the uppity women to shut up.
This was sadly demonstrated in posts by Dawkins and Mehmet I quoted in my last post where after they tell Rebecca to shut up about this basic feminism issue (by claiming it’s minor and not important as other issues and yes the irony of atheist leaders who are unlikely to win the “Oppression Olympics” any time soon claiming the “All issues must wait until more important issues are solved” is not lost on me) about objectification, they both try to shame her about another feminist issue as if they had any right to. I mean, when one has pretty staunchly refused to engage on a basic feminist argument and has stated its worthless and the dropping of their support, it’s hard to immediately believe they are the diviner of everything feminist and they get to determine what the “real” feminist issue is like they were still proven allies.
But still women run into this a lot, often with men who are very much fair-weathered allies, but grow incredibly incensed if you react as if that was the case or even acknowledge the existence of privilege and toxic cultural baggage. A double-bind for those who don’t just accept that they’re “bitches” for “not trusting” “obvious allies”.
And the last double-bind is this.
The article I noted earlier this blog talks about a study that did conversational analysis to determine how people refuse things including sex.
And what they found was that people don’t tend to do a direct no, but rely on softening the statement, because a direct statement is considered rude. They found that people understand the refusal fine and this is true for pretty much everyone tested, demonstrating that it is the cultural norm and that the “just say no forcefully” advice regarding sexual assault places an additional burden and ignores the fact that men don’t really need that to know when someone has said no.
In fact, direct “no”s tend to make subjects angry and make them feel justified in escalating to violence and assault.
Now, that’s not the third double-bind, but it’s certainly a doozy of a double-bind in and of itself.
No, the third double-bind is that the reason for this perception of a direct refusal as rude is simply cultural inertia and social convention.
It has always been, and thus violating that is a violation of social norms and thus inherently off-putting and thus “rude”.
Which brings us up to the real doozy and the reason why this entire backlash existed in the first place.
People are also culturally trained not to talk about the behaviors we’ve learned with regards to minorities. Specifically with regards to feminism, essentially, we don’t talk about feminism. Women being silenced, being disrespected, being treated like sex objects, or being threatened or skeeved out. These are not discussed and certainly not in a way that places male behavior under scrutiny.
Women are judged for their behavior. Men get to do what they want. That is the social norm. That is the way it has always been done.
As such, someone pointing this out and asking to talk about it will be seen as rude.
That’s the double-bind.
Any speech, no matter how nice, how softly, how qualified, or how brief will be seen as a violation of norms and will cause the dominant group to freak out, to trip over the privilege, to find themselves angry and not knowing why, and feeling justified asking for silencing or viewing the person who dared bring things up as the real person who did wrong.
And that’s really what is the story of this incident. Rebecca Watson brought up things that have always gone unexamined and asked to examine them. This was inherently a violation of social norms of silence around those issues and a lot of men responded with the cultural training to view that as the real problem (after all, the behavior wasn’t really violating any cultural norms in the sense that they are sadly too common in our societies).
But the double-bind continues in that any attempt to fix this will necessarily be seen as rude, be derided and be met with anger and a sense of “division for the sake of division”.
Mere acknowledgment is seen as the real problem and people speaking on behalf of themselves are seen as the rude thing that’s going to scare everyone off with their rudeness.
And yet it’s necessary. To fight, to struggle, to be rude and crude, and resisted with much frantic flailing. All of this must occur because otherwise, all we get is the same status quo affairs and the horrible prison that is for everyone for whom that doesn’t benefit.
And so, the struggle is inherently rude in the eyes of those who are struggled against or in the eyes of fair-weathered allies. Off-putting, not helping, distracting, and rude.
But in that final double-bind comes freedom.
If anything is rude. If what is requested is naught but no-win situations and impossible requests, then there is simply no reason to care.
When anything is rude, there is no need to carefully tailor one’s arguments or even act like these predictable patterns of whiny flailing are at all good faith or must be heeded.
Why not speak loud and clear? Why not call a bigot a bigot or call out a self-claimed ally on their blind-spots? Why not ignore the tone trolls and those who yell “distraction”?
In creating no ability to win, there are many sad injustices, but there is also complete freedom.
We don’t need to answer to anyone, least of all those more privileged than us with regards to tactics or life experiences or speaking out.
All we need to do is to keeping doing it, in all the myriad of tactics and styles we can until it is the bigoted positions, the old “social norms” that become the things seen as rude.
It’s what’s worked for every other rights struggle in at least the last 100 years.
So thank you atheist community backlash for perfectly illustrating how the supposed double-bind is simply a bundle of untied rope.
For the atheist community at the moment, the biggest news is the story of Rebecca Watson.
Not to mention the long running and terribly terribly sad saga of posts on Pharyngula where the more…shall we say…douchey members of the atheist community made a relatively small problem into a major unsettling demonstration of how far things need to go.
Okay, before I get to deep into all that, let’s give the quick breakdown for those really confused right now.
Rebecca Watson was at an atheist conference, speaking on, among other issues, sexualization of women in the atheist community. Later that night at 4 am an attendee of the convention approached her while in the elevator, ignored her claims that she was tired and just wanted to go to bed and skeevily asked for sex.
Now, this happening in an enclosed space with absolutely no attempt to get to know her as a person and with an added creepy bonus of deliberately ignoring the refusal of consent in her being tired and uninterested in pursuing things, Rebbeca Watson was understandably skeeved and said on her vlog, hey guys, don’t do that.
Apparently by doing this, she personally ordered Hitler to invade Poland.
Who could have known?
There was a backlash and when she pointed out this backlash as an illustration of a point that the atheist movement has to grow with regards to women’s inclusion in the whole conventions, speaking tours, etc… side of atheist activism, well, there was an even bigger backlash.
And when PZ Myers decided to prove that his feminism wasn’t for sure and decided to throw into the ring his first tepid support for the rather non-controversial idea that maybe just maybe we could respect women as full people rather than the sex class and not be douchey when hitting on them, or at least failing that, at least not provide a stark reminder to even the few female leaders and speakers in the movement that any man will feel comfortable pulling social privilege and make you feel disrespected and an object, well…
The lunatics were let out of the asylum on that one and if you follow my links to the PZ posts you will see an epic swarm of marauding men trying to beat the others off to show off their best attempt at the Privilege Fail.
And when that’s going on, what soon followed was the usual silencing tactics, minimizing of women’s issues, blatant anti-feminism, full out misogyny, and so on.
Basically, the misogynist community let their freak flag fly on this one.
And that’s bad. But it’s worse because the last big discussion of women regarding the atheist community was THIS ONE.
Basically, the last big fight was on how we can get better inclusion of women in the atheist movement and basically fix the “middle class white men” problem it has.
That fight had led to some good developments, more atheism and feminism discussions, better inclusion of the marriage of feminism and skepticism, and even some airing of concerns about the con problem where women who attended were made to feel unsafe, out-numbered, disrespected, and of course treated like a sex object open to sex offers anywhere, anywhen.
Oh, irony. Well, not irony, more like unfortunately illustrative example.
What makes this worse is that luminaries like Richard Dawkins and Hemant Mehta came down on (if you’ll pardon the euphemism) the side of the devils on this one.
So, yeah, that’s the situation and the context.
And now, 500+ words into my post, let’s get into the real meat of what this fail illustrates.
And to begin, let us just note the sad obvious. Rationalist men are no less devoid of their cultural training in an unfortunately misogynistic culture with regards to women.
Being a free-thinker doesn’t save you being raised in a world where a woman is thought of as the sex class, some sexual object there to provide sexual relief and little else and not fully deserving the full respect one would give a man.
Being a free-thinker doesn’t make one fully cognizant of the rape culture, including the culture wherein if Rebecca Watson had been raped in that enclosed space where her consent was already being treated as optional, many of these same men would be following cultural traditions in saying she should have been more forceful in defending herself.
And if I may tangent here, many of the comments claim simultaneously that Rebecca Watson was making a mountain of a mole-hill and shouldn’t have committed the high-crime of talking about it in the nicest least-threatening or angry way possible while simultaneously giving advice like “she should have carried a taser if she was so worried.” Yes, the same people who thought mild rejection followed by “hey guys, don’t do this” were somehow going to have her back if she tazed this guy in the nuts. That doesn’t even begin to make since.
Back on the roll, being a free-thinker doesn’t protect one from privilege fails. I mean, that’s what it’s about. Being a free-thinker cis-gendered male means that you were raised male, raised in the toxic soup of culture and will have to heavily examine those learned behaviors if one wants to improve.
And unfortunately like what we’ve seen from a large section of men and other dominant groups, it can be easier to trip over your privilege and make yourself look like an asshole than to just listen to minorities and acknowledge basic level stuff.
And here, we need to discuss directly two quotes from major giants in the atheist community. Men whose work I respect, especially the latter.
First, Hemant Mehta:
This was bad form for two reasons. One, it was a distraction from an otherwise important talk. Instead of us discussing the incredibly important issue of how the Religious Right harms women (the subject of the talk), we’re all discussing whether it’s right for someone with a big megaphone to pick on someone with a smaller one, whether someone was being a “bad feminist,” and all sorts of shit that doesn’t need to be aired in public.
Two, whether it was the intention or not, you’ve convinced a young female in our movement that if she says something you don’t like, she better be ready for an all-out barrage of criticism from every “big name” in the atheist blogosphere.
Second, Richard Dawkins:
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
And yes, the second one is directed towards a fictional invented strawman for the purpose of “mocking” Rebecca Watson’s arguments. And that sound you’re hearing is my heart breaking because I fucking love Richard Dawkins. Like, The Selfish Gene was the first non-fiction book I ever bought for myself love.
Now, these posts contain a lot of arguments, so let’s just quickly translate what they are saying:
Shut up. Shut up.
Shut up. ShutupShutupSHUTUP!
And if you read the comments in PZ Myers’ posts, you’ll find that that was a common thread when people could bother to respond to Rebecca Watson’s arguments instead of bitching at all women or feminists.
Now, you may think this unfair, but let’s treat these arguments as if they were good faith and look at exactly what they are arguing at their most basic level.
Both directly call for the cessation of Rebecca Watson making her argument, seeing it as a distraction from bigger issues, those being a) the radical sexism of the Religious Right and b) the horrific treatment of women in third-world Middle Eastern and African countries.
Now, people who know anything about most minority rights movements can recognize that this argument is already made of fail. The idea that Issue X must wait until “much bigger” Issue Y has been resolved has always been a silencing campaign to try and shame a cultural movement from discussing issues the speaker personally finds threatening to their privilege or self-regard and those following that advice have often found themselves inevitably having to return to those issues later from a more disadvantageous position because of the loss of forward momentum on the issue.
But let’s really look at the arguments. They are arguing that Rebecca Watson is basically making too much of a small problem and “wasting our time”. But that doesn’t follow.
A small problem doesn’t waste time, especially not a small problem that Rebecca Watson didn’t seek to make a big thing of.
I mean, let’s think of it like an actual small problem.
I was recently in the San Francisco Pride Marches (Trans, Dyke, and Pride and yes, pictures will be coming, I promise). Now, feet get tired in those, so let’s say I step on someone’s foot accidentally.
This is a small problem. To solve it I would say sorry and seek not to do it again. If the person turned to me and said Ow, I would say the same thing.
And if someone said on a blog that people should strive not to step on people’s feet in marches, the general consensus would be “yeah, of course, no problem”.
It’s not a hard problem to solve. So instead, the community ripped open its head and let loose a thousand angry chipmunks to demand that Rebecca Watson be silenced. That’d be like if the entire crowd attacked the person whose foot I stepped on because them saying Ow was distracting from the Parade.
Possibly shaky analogy aside, I hope the point stands. Small issues don’t get massive blowback. Small issues aren’t asked to shut up. Small issues aren’t treated as grave distractions from important work (also extra fail points go to both gentlemen for choosing subjects that “Rebecca Watson should be focusing on instead” that Rebecca Watson has often devoted a lot of focus to and which feminists in general have been more outspoken about than male atheists…yeah, whoops).
Because that’s the thing, small issues are small. Minor problems are minor and they don’t get entire communities backlashing against them, massive pushback by leaders, and arguments that they need to stop carrying on about them while “real work” needs to happen. Minor issues get resolved quickly without fuss. That’s how you know they are minor. When they are met with a collective yawn.
Once you argue they are “distracting” from real fights, you are acknowledging that this problem is real and discussion needs to occur.
Now already these arguments taken in good faith reveal the dichotomy, but let’s also go one step deeper.
Notice anything about the “more important” issues?
Yeah, they’re both about cultures that the speakers in question don’t belong to. Yeah, it’s real easy to condemn and see as evil acts done that have no connection to oneself whatsoever. Hemant Mehta doesn’t really have any connection to the Religious Right and Dawkins doesn’t to the Middle East or Islam. They are easy targets.
They are also targets that have limited ability to fix from the outside.
Yes, atheists can, do, and should point out issues in the Religious Right all around the world, both Christian and Muslim, pointing out egregious behavior and making it impossible to hide them from the public eye and public condemnation. To make it easier for people to leave those communities and try to reach those who can break from the oppressive conditions they find themselves in.
But the thing about that is that comes with a lot of downtime.
Trying to leave stuff to reach the curious in those communities to leave or grow or even seek to reform from within is great work, but at the end of the day, the best work is going to be done by other individuals learning and growing and becoming better.
And that’s really the best activism when we get right down to it, trying to improve oneself, trying to improve one’s community, and trying to reach others in other communities to improve themselves as well.
And that’s the part being directly rejected in those posts by these important leaders in the atheist community.
While we can do little but speak out and hope on getting people out of the Religious Right or the end of oppressive operations on women in the third-world, we can do a lot in our own communities. Improving them to be better versions of itself and thus providing even stronger incentive for others to join the rest of the world.
In short, the atheist community is not going to be able to quickly fix FGM, but damnitt, it can, if it put it’s mind to it fix the Atheist Community’s problems with women and sexism. It can address how women are made to feel sexualized and dismissed at conventions, can address the easy privilege fails that many male atheists fall into when speaking to or about women, can try and discourage the douchebags in its community rather than seek to silence the feminists who dare speak about that which we do not speak about.
There’s a lot and what can be done will produce much more dramatic change than we can affect in other cultures, who will always see its most dramatic changes from within. From those who lived the experiences, from those in the cultures, from those who escaped to those still in it.
But that would be hard. That would involve personal growth and hard looks at the community and a genuine demand to improve the hard interconnected issues that lead to problems like wide-scale sexism in the first place rather than giving oneself a blank check to feel smugly superior to a backwards uncivilized lesser culture.
And that could be an excuse if we were 5 year olds and we weren’t talking about a movement based in critical analysis of sacred cows and unexamined claims. A movement based on looking at the momentum of social inertia and goes, hey, wait, is there any support for any of this or are we just doing what we’re doing because we’ve always done it.
And that’s what makes these privilege fails so sad to witness. Because the community has the tools to examine these automatic resistances to discussion and growth, that has them calling for silence and demonization at the mildest of topic introduction, these cultural learned behaviors that serve no one’s interest, not men’s, not women’s.
And they are being actively deliberately ignored in favor of rolling into a ball and trying to wish it all away.
And that would be the biggest privilege fail of all and until that issue is addressed, atheism will always find its calls for minority identities to join in the struggle ringing a little hollow and its numbers continuously white, male, middle class, cisgendered, and heterosexual. Because a skeptics movement based in observing reality as is that refuses to seriously address the racial, sexual, sexuality, gender, class realities that are simply isn’t one yet.
The atheist community has a lot of growing, but like I’ve said in previous posts, I believe it will do so, shakily and possibly with a few fallen heroes of old having painful flameouts, but nonetheless growing into a movement able to address its problems and become a better movement for it, a more inclusive movement with a stronger respect for intellectual honesty and consistency.
But I won’t lie in agreeing with Rebecca Watson and others that the display seen here in the backlash to her is an overdue reminder on just how far the movement has to come, especially in its conventions.
But hey, it’s work we can do the most easily. Because it’s our own damn community.
Let’s talk about a political situation. A problem that occurs at the level of our politicians. Something that has been analyzed both cynically and hopefully, by means of problem identification and problem solving. It’s a problem at the root of a growing alienation and dissatisfaction among youth and liberals in general. It’s used as a battleground for the usual battle of party-line enforcer versus idealist reformer. And it may well be the problem that ends up destroying this nation. Certainly the problem that prevents any real solution to what is ailing the country from ever being considered much less enacted.
The problem has created vast gulfs between what is seen as politically possible and what is socially supported. Is the reason why most liberals work far more often on social reform than political solutions. Is the reason why the Democratic Party often finds its base disappointed and alienated. Is the reason why things have seemed to only get worse in the last 30 years with a crushing feeling of powerlessness seeping into the politically minded and motivated.
What is this problem?
This problem is a pattern.
What is this pattern?
This pattern is the one we’ve seen over and over again.
On half is Republicans sweep into power and its huge conservative reforms, important safety nets or human rights ripped up or targeted, legal processes ignored, lawmakers steamrolled and liberals in political power left to try and stem the worst of it, accepting any number of abuse to the system in its wake.
We see this now in Wisconsin, with the Republican victory there leading to an all-out assault on the collective bargaining rights (aka, the end of the right to unionize, a long time “free-market” conservative pipe dream). We see it again in the tea party congress victory in the House of Representatives leading to a stand-off against the most conservative representatives over the continued functioning of the government where the only deal was how Republican of a plan to accept (one which eliminated and privatized medicare and social security or one which merely gutted every single non-defense agency, already decimated by earlier cuts and attacks). We saw it in the Bush Administration where constitutional rights were wholesale ignored, plans to privatize social security, pass constitutional amendments banning gay rights were considered, and multiple wars, multiple torture camps and concentration camps were opened and so on. And certainly the iron march of tax cuts pairing with “spending cuts” and poison pill department heads targeting perceived liberal sectors such as the EPA, Department of Education, science funding, welfare, drug treatment, and so on. Not to mention the huge spade of retrograde laws being passed in Arizona since they got a wingnut governor.
This on its own is a relentless push. Dominated often by desperate scrambles to defend the basic rights of whatever minority is targeted this week, where things quickly get worse and one hopes merely to survive rather than reform.
But it gets paired with the other side of the problem.
And that side is that Democrats seem almost as ineffectual as Republicans are overpowering when they are in power. At the same time as WI, we here in CA have seen a large victory for Democratic leadership. The state has a large need for heavy reform. Our tax situation has been completely fubared by Prop 13 and intransigent minority power Republicans, our privatized public utilities have been nickel and diming the citizens, and a number of retrograde laws were passed since the time of Gov. Davis. Our new governor however will be looking to begin by passing a Republican compromise of heavy spending cuts to education and other public sectors, leaving alone Republican supported sectors such as prisons. In congress, our Democratic leaders in the Senate and the Presidency seem unable to gain any real positive change over the teabagging new House. Going back 2 years, Democrats had their heaviest gains in nearly their entire history, holding briefly 60 seats in the Senate, found themselves unable to pass anything but old Republican ideas deemed too liberal by today’s Republicans and various “half-and-half” compromises that resulted in things getting slightly better.
The saddest thing is that slightly better is something that was refreshing to many owing to its extreme novelty. Since the time of Reagan, Democratic gains have seemed to coincide only with things getting worse only slower, rather than any real improvement. Clinton presided over DADT, NAFTA, and any number of Republican-friendly compromises.
The pattern is thus, with regard to human rights, minority protection, social safety net strength, regulatory power, and the funding we give to our government infrastructure.
Things get dramatically worse under Republicans. Things only get slightly worse under Democrats.
The problem with this is that conservative views are toxic, wholly resistant to the notion of a real world, and often based more in tribal hatreds than any real desire to deal with reality as is or humanely interact with people.
So our system continues to suffer, often surviving only on personal rebellions, the remnant social improvements and safety nets installed in the 30s-70s, and shortchanged infrastructure in all fields being held together by the equivalent of baling wire and hope. Our education system limps on a shoe-string and disrespect, powered only by its last defenders willing to accept abuse and poverty wages to support something they believe in. Our bridges and electrical grid is literally falling apart. Our regulation system is unable to intervene to prevent ecological disasters like the BP oil spill, nor adequately address the various factors that lead to the global financial collapse.
In addition, we are seeing an ever-growing gap between what we socially support and what we view as politically possible. Ted Rall wrote a book during the administration called “Wake Up, You’re Liberal” which pointed out the various number of political issues that had majority liberal support when polled individually and how such support only went up when people were provided full information on what each side supported.
During the big health care debate, huge majorities supported systems far more liberal than were ever argued politically. Systems like single-payer or medicare for all. Nonetheless, politically, even with huge Democratic majorities, the debate seemed ever more slanted to ever more Republican compromises, ending with a few emergency pieces of duct tape trying to patch off recision, bad insurance policies, and setting up private insurance exchanges to kick in at 2012.
Unfortunately, those who have low-grade insurance at the moment have seen how ineffectual such changes were in making any real change to the broken system. Paying for “care” that never seemed to pay out is a system still well in practice.
This isn’t to bitch about Democratic weakness or to lay the blame wholly on our liberal leaders at the political level.
It’s pretty clear that campaigns of political nihilism on the part of conservatives have allowed them to make great gains where they are socially unpopular. Holding one group’s rights or humanity hostage for another group’s downfall, exploiting legal loopholes to bypass public scrutiny or delay legal rights by their opponents, and engaging in out right fraud.
The last especially has seen Presidents bribing foreign hostage takers to delay release of American prisoners so they look better when fully elected, illegal concentration camps, bribery scandals, quid pro quo deals with corporate financiers, and suicide bomb legislators who don’t care about ill will because they plan on entering corporate welfare after they do their damage.
This has led to victory, but has only fueled the gulf. Not only does this breed a growing feeling of powerlessness and civic disengagement by many with regards to political rights, but also this leads to a huge gulf between who we are socially and what our political system looks like.
Now, for our conservative counterparts, this may seem like a victory. Civic disengagement and depression among liberal activists and the victory of conservative desires above and beyond social support by any means necessary means continued support of an extended status quo, corporate power, and the continued punishment of “undeserving” minority groups for perceived sins.
But while this is frustrating and unhealthy in the short-term, it’s even worse for us all in the long-term.
The more we feel that the peaceful political option in addressing problems, grievances, and suffering is closed to us. And the more that feels to more people…
Well, that is the exact set of circumstances that tends to lead to things like the French Revolution. When the powerless see no peaceful means to protect themselves, bring benefits to their lives, protect themselves from exploitation. When the powerless see their lives get consistently worse and when more people see themselves as powerless, then alternate options end up being the only response.
For the political is important. It’s what affects our lives, provides the protections we take for granted, provides the society we rely on. When that finally breaks, when what we see socially fits in no way with the debates in the political arena, there is naught but conflict.
Hopefully we can fix this problem before it ruins us.
Clever post title sold to pay for heating.
Anti-gay arguments. Many of us in the LGBT community have heard them for a long time. We’ve gotten so used to debunking their complete break from reality that it’s become routine. The problem is that we’ve gotten used to just debunking them and moving on. I mean, the people using these arguments generally are just using them as smokescreen for raw animus anyways, so…
However, I feel that’s failing to appreciate the raw horror that are these arguments. Let’s look closely at some of the more popular arguments used in arguments against gay rights (specifically gay marriage) and what they reveal about the type of person who’d make and/or believe them, or otherwise find them compelling.
#1) Marriage is for procreation
The common stand-by, because the ability to conceive a child by unprotected sex is one of the few things that separate same-sex couples from opposite-sexed couples. Sure, a same-sex couple can still have children from previous marriages, use IVF, enlist a surrogate, adopt, or serve as mentor for a large group of children, but they can’t conceive solely using the plumbing and DNA of the two people in the relationship…unless one is trans and pre-medical transitioning…and shut up, shut up, shut up.
As I said, we’re used to breaking down this argument logically. There’s a great post here doing so. But let’s look at this argument much more closely with regards to what it’s saying.
At it’s most basic level, it argues that marriages are solely about children and procreation. Thus, that marriage is adamantly NOT about love. And this is a rather radical belief here in 2011, thanks to the tireless work of activists who have come before.
We are used to in the 21st century the notion that marriage is a ceremony to enshrine love, to say, “I love this person so much, that I want to try and be with them the rest of my life. They are the person who understands me the best, the one who can relay my concerns and needs the best of all when I’m incapacitated, sick, or dead. They are my sweetie.”
But SSM marriage opponents are right when they say that this isn’t the “traditional view of marriage”. The “traditional” view of marriage was one of a man purchasing unwanted property off of a father, that of a daughter. Said man, would then take his new property and put it to work as a house slave to keep his house, birth and raise his children and meet his sexual needs when he so desired, regardless of her own beliefs on the matter.
This attitude has mostly died off, thanks to pioneering artists for centuries dreaming of love as a matter of the heart and feminist activists slowly building up public regard for women until it became more common to imagine them as full people with hopes, dreams, ability to love, and furthermore someone that shouldn’t be raped or devoid of the right of self-ownership.
And just like we see in the “abortion debate”, that female self-ownership is still woefully supported, we see here in the anti-gay argument the resistance to this cultural evolution.
These people are admitting that their own marriages aren’t about love. They are about duty or because someone was knocked up, or because they were told they were nothing if they didn’t have the possessions “a family”, “a wife”, “kids”.
And it’s worth taking a moment to boggle at how utterly terrifying and sad that is.
To the people that this argument resonates with. To the people making these arguments as if they made rational sense to them. To the ones to which this makes emotional sense, marriage must be a trap rather than a celebration. Something tolerated merely out of duty to tradition and fealty to perpetuating a stark patriarchy for religious reasons.
No one’s marriage should ever be that. It should be a celebration of love.
Sadly, the number of jokes about “marriage as trap” and “wife as ball and chain” seem to hint sadly, that the true “traditional” marriage may not be so long dead as we would hope.
#2) Gay marriage is a slippery-slope to polyamory, bestiality, and child-molestation
Often made with these sexual unions being marriage level recognized unions. Now, let’s leave aside the fact that recognition of polyamorous triads, quads, and so on are in fact something that society should eventually grant social recognition and protection to similar to marriage, possibly by expanding marriage. And let’s leave aside that the main perpetrator of what is socially scary about polygamy (the hideous patriarchal “harems” of certain mormon sects) are also the main backers of most of the anti-gay movement at the moment (Mormons run NOM, which is behind most of the movement fighting against gay marriage).
Leaving all aside, it’s a remarkably bad argument. Not only because it’s a raw emotional appeal that doesn’t make legal sense, but because of what it fucking screams about the person making this argument.
And the thing it screams is that the person making the argument has ZERO, and I mean ZERO concept of consent. Or if they do, that they do not value it or regard it in sexual and marital interactions.
Or to put it bluntly: “What part of consenting adults eludes you?”
This argument is remarkably popular. Such conservative stalwarts as Pat Robertson, John Cornyn, and the usual gasbags like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have all made the argument.
Overall it might be the most popular anti-gay argument made in the fight for gay marriage.
But again, let’s point out the obvious. This statement, in order to even make internal consistent sense, has to completely ignore or devalue consent.
And to be frank, this is not an unfair statement. The conservative opposition don’t really believe in consent. Look at the “abortion debate”, look at the current Republican attempt to redefine rape, look at the constant anti-feminist resistance to the notion that rape means anything other than “white christian and her black boyfriend”.
And furthermore, the people making this argument and who this argument resonates with just don’t value consent. I don’t mean that they are rapists, per se, but that the culture of most conservative religions such as Fundamentalists, Mormons, Catholics, and many others views sex as inherently bad and sex one has chosen to commit as worse.
So if sex is inherently wrong, then there isn’t much moral difference between some consensual heavy petting and raping a child or a cow. Furthermore, there is a belief that sex is “more permissible” if one got “caught in the emotion” than if one has planned a sexual encounter, taking care to buy contraceptives and to fully explore boundaries and consent before hand.
Thus in these world views, consent actually makes sex worse because it shows a consciousness and “sluttiness” betrayed by admitting you are like 99% of people in the world and crave sexual interaction.
Now, it’s worth pointing this out, because this is a horrifying worldview that needs to die a quick and merciless death. Consent is critical in sexual interactions and respect for it needs to be unanimous or close enough. That so many are of the opinion that consent is either not a part of the marriage or sexual debate or that consent actually makes it worse, so that this slippery slope argument could at all make sense to them, shows a deep rot in our society and the relative youth of the movement to make consent a household expectation rather than a radical position.
A child or a horse can’t provide meaningful consent to either legally binding documents or sex. That they see it as equivalent shows that it’s all “bad sex” to them and thus, I fear for the sexual partners of every person who has ever made this argument.
Because their partner just argued in front of everyone that they don’t value consent in their sexual interactions with said partners.
Yeah, heartbreaking isn’t it?
#3 and #4) If gay marriage is allowed and everyone is gay married, then no children will be born and everyone will go extinct AND Homosexuals recruit and are trying to recruit me or my children into the “homosexual lifestyle”
The latter is an old standby and the former is gaining steam in the anti-gay movement as the arguments are turning towards “marriage is for procreation” arguments that I mocked earlier owing to the fact that that’s the only definable difference between same-sex parties and opposite-sex parties.
My “favorite” recent example of the former is probably Jeffrey Kuhner‘s insane assertion that it’s socially barren and a “homosexual society” or a culture that permits homosexuals will thus become extinct because homosexuals can’t create children with each other. And the latter has been seen everywhere.
Now, see, these arguments are very similar, because they both assert that homosexuality is so very desired. So very much seductive that everyone would be gay if there wasn’t such heavy social stigma against homosexuals in society. The argument of extinction, basically building on the older “gays recruit” angle to argue that legal rights would be seeing everyone switching teams because it’s just so awesome.
Now, see, let’s be frank.
There is no way. NO single possible way this is at all convincing to a person who is heterosexual or asexual.
See, heterosexuals and asexuals, and even homosexuals know that one can’t be “recruited” to the other side. You are attracted to what you are attracted to and not to what you aren’t. Nothing could make me sexually attracted to men or women.
So, what these people are doing, what they are screaming out to any who will hear is that they are very very gay. Or at least bi.
And not so much on the bi, because all of the people selling this argument the hardest often speak of homosexuality as this huge temptation that no one could possibly pass up. The extinction arguments are great, because it’s basically arguing that once the social stigma against homosexuality is gone, no one would stay in the sham marriages and we’d all go with the “obviously superior” option.
Which screams to anyone who really looks at this argument that the person who made it is flaming, is so very attracted to the same sex that they are legitimately concerned that the growing social equality of same-sex couples is threatening their marriages.
In fact let’s add
#5) Gay marriage threatens my marriage
To the list.
All three arguments, have at their core the fact that the one making the argument is feeling legitimately tempted by homosexuality. They have romantic and sexual interests in same-sex partners and are counting on social stigma to keep them from acting on it openly.
Basically everyone who makes this argument in any sense of seriousness has just come out as a Kinsey 1 at the least and considering they see it as a dominant choice, something that trumps all others, we’re talking Kinsey 4-6 much much more here. These are people who are admitting they are mostly homosexual in fighting against gay rights.
And what interests me is that this argument is relatively popular. Which provides pretty strong anecdotal evidence to a pet suspicion of mine that the majority of people aren’t heterosexual, but some flavor of bisexual.
As I said before, these arguments have no resonance for people who are really heterosexual. There is no there to tempt and it’s clear there is a vast separation in their desires for women and their lack of desires for men.
Now to be fair, it could just be bisexuality mixed with intense misogyny. The same religious cultures which short-change consent and hard-sell marriage for duty also view women as inhuman creations tolerated at best. They are instruments for birthing and raising children, a step up from possessions, who are to be resented for their femininity and weakness lest it somehow taint the masculine male by association.
These viewpoints are hardly alien and are lurking in our culture as a sort of toxic guidebook for masculinity that claims to be the only real path to being a man.
With women sold as beings to loathe, as lesser beings only good for sex, and where what matters most is one’s connections to other men, there is the basis of strong homosocial connections.
And for those just stumbling along, maybe with the slightest bisexuality, it might seem like it would be so much easier to ditch the dead weight of the woman and make those homosocial interactions homoromantic and homosexual as well in order to fulfill all needs without having to debase oneself seeking female companionship.
And for these people, I can see how the social stigma against homosexuals does seem like the only thing in their way. If gays weren’t categorized “girly men” or socially feminized, then what’s to stop the bisexual intense misogynist from sticking with the winning team where masculinity would reinforce masculinity.
And possibly more frightening is that these ultra-patriarchal societies are painful and shitty for the women living in them. If they could “choose” who they wanted to be with, with no social stigma, why would they stick around?
It’s a fear that keeps patriarchs awake at night, that their possessions might just do without them and “go lez”. It’s not rational and growing feminist victories means that people are slowly doing without those strict patriarchal relationships and striving for more egalitarian ones in all relationships. But still, it’s a crippling worry for those who are relying on social mores to keep women “in community” and ignorant of options.
Again, none of these options speaks well of the people advancing these arguments.
The point, finally
We often point to the disingenuousness, the history of equality movements, and the similarities between anti-gay arguments and anti-other-minorities arguments to show the moral depravity of the anti-gay movement and its proponents.
But we needn’t go to so much effort. The greatest horror of their statements isn’t the raw hate, isn’t the willingness to grasp any lie to make us suffer, it’s the statements themselves.
The arguments they make reveal their true characters far better than we could ever hope to reveal.
Let us take them at their word and be appalled by it.