A long while ago, I had an idea for a blog wholly focused on the variety of issues that come up when one is a trans teacher, both from a teacher standpoint as well as the cold reality of the common, unspoken, discrimination from education professions many of us experience. It kinda fell through the cracks when my life upended into itself, but I might bring it back in lesser form somewhere because I keep on running into things I have views on or people blathering on from a standpoint of ignorance about things I experience on the direct lines as an educator. And today is no exception.
Today’s rant/ramble is based on a long tweet thread by author Ana Mardoll, writer of the book Poison Kiss
Xie wrote a long chain about the fear-mongering surrounding accommodations in university courses for students who are triggered by certain aspects of learning material (typically depictions of physical abuse, sexual assault/rape, suicide, etc… in literature classes) and had a lot of very good points mostly surrounding how we already make accommodations for students who have to leave the class during a lesson due to physical ailments such as the flu as well as students with physical disabilities that keep them from engaging fully with lessons owing to missed absences and other needs for accommodations.
Xie also notes that those complaining about Trigger Warnings are also anti-science, ignoring how things like exposure therapy actually work, how PTSD works, what a trigger warning even is, because much like with trans issues or abortion, people really don’t like that the science of it all is more or less settled on the side of the marginalized and does not agree with their conjectures.
And I roll trans issues, specifically things like bathroom access and scary “social transition” stuff such as names and pronouns into this “debate” about trigger warnings, because it all comes from the same place.
Namely that certain marginalized groups are existing in public in a way that is no longer easy for a person to ignore and this infuriates those who refuse to acknowledge said people and want to make even the slightest efforts to grow up sound like a draconian punishment on their moral and legal right to be an asshole to people without consequences.
And it doesn’t mean that these groups didn’t exist before hand. There’s always been trans kids and young adults and kids and young adults who’ve experienced rape or abuse and mentally ill kids and young adults. We’ve always existed in physical form, but for the longest time, a dominant group member could remain justifiably ignorant about our existence because there was strong social barriers and sometimes even legal barriers about talking about our existence or being visibly present.
And it’s really this piece that ends up driving a lot of these social panics, same as it does for folks that get all up in arms about “PC culture run rampant”, white people’s “right” to use the n-word, or “conservative censorship in universities”/”anti-free speech among liberals” in the form of people using their own free speech to criticize and protest speech they see as harmful.
Basically, those raised on an unequal playing field feel it is their “rights” to have inequality extended forever, where the minority groups they abuse aren’t allowed to fight back or even criticize their actions or call them mean names like “bigot” or “harasser”. And a lot of that anger stems from things used to being one way and now they have changed and now that social expectation that used to encourage folks to remain silent now has started to shift in the direction of viewing as assholes people who don’t grow and accept that people outside the normative exist.
And I don’t say this casually.
But rather out of direct observation of the panic and their distortions of the real issues and real requests of the students making them.
Like, let’s take trigger warnings. I’m a big fan of them and don’t just use them in my teaching, but in casual conversation. In fact, I first started adapting to using them in casual conversation before I incorporated it in the classroom, because of two things.
1) I know a lot of people from really fucked up backgrounds who’ve experienced a lot of bad shit. Trans folks who’ve been beaten by their family, women who’ve experienced multiple rapes and abusive partners, people of color who’ve experienced hate crimes and physical assault.
And 2) I am very politically minded and most topics I tend to cover or want to converse about tend to be really big and scary and potentially triggering, such as transphobia, hate crimes, discrimination, rape, abuse, and so on. I’m a feminist and have been for a long time and a lot of my interactions with other people tend to be on these feminist wavelengths where a lot of the topic of discussion is flatout depressing but interesting to me nonetheless.
And the combination of these two made trigger warnings necessary, because they gave my friends a head’s up on whatever dark road of conversation I was going down and allowed them the time to prepare or bail out as necessary. And because lacking those trigger warnings meant I was more worried about covering any topic for fear of hurting a friend unnecessarily during a casual conversation.
Because a trigger isn’t someone going “oh me, oh my, this person conversing is too REALZ for my delicate female affections, I shall cry trigger so as to censor his FREEZE PEACH.”
It’s basically a phenomenon where you really aren’t there anymore because you’re back in a flashback of whatever traumatic thing that happened to you is, experiencing it like it’s happening now. When I’ve been triggered, I shut down hard, just filling with endless chains of self-hatred, with the feel of my rapist against me and the world I was inhabiting a second ago might as well not even existing.
I can’t focus on whatever else is going on around me because I am essentially not there and I can end up losing days to this, as a trigger tends to make it easier and easier to slip into that space and can flood me with all the emotions of fear and pain and self-hatred that filled such events.
It’s not a matter of exiting out of conversations I don’t want to have. It’s that I’m exited out of conversations I do want to have (most of my triggering events tend to occur when I’m with groups of friends, luckily) by my brain essentially shutting down.
And that sucks. But trigger warnings allows me to prepare first or recognize that no, I don’t actually have the spoons for this topic today, but I’d love to discuss it on a day I’m a bit more functional. And that moment of preparation is key as it allows me to shore up my defenses so I’m not blindsided by a topic that’s just gonna put me in a foul mood or an emotional tailspin.
And in practice, the trigger warnings means I get to have more conversations about pretty dark topics because everyone is able to emotionally prepare as needed as part of their general survival in a world where these topics come up.
In the classroom, I follow this practice, giving kids a heads up when topics are veering into the depressing and potentially triggering. It takes 5 seconds. No really, because all it is “And so as we look at, content warning: sexual assault… (pause for beat) sexual assault data”.
And this is useful and necessary, because I work in a private school where many of our students have dealt with heavy traumas where they might be being physically abused at home or be survivors of rape, or have traumatic experiences with accidents or lost family members to gun violence.
And in practice, using trigger warnings means more of my students are engaged during those conversations or topics instead of drifting off and becoming unresponsive for the rest of the class (the frequent result that occurs when teachers don’t use trigger warnings and I know this because I’ve had fellow teachers ask me how to get X student to engage in classes and then I found out they had been triggering the student without warning and hadn’t realized).
The whole thing barely interrupts my flow as a teacher. And is so small on my end that it doesn’t even eat into class time, unlike when dealing with a student in crisis mode who fundamentally can’t learn because they are in a bad triggered state.
And it’s very similar to pronouns for trans kids. Like, most of my trans students have needed or wanted to explore scary “SOCIAL TRANSITION”. By this I mean, they want to try out new names or new pronouns and maybe want to dress a certain way at school.
And it’s extremely easy to accommodate that.
Here’s what I do. I have an email I send out letting the other teachers know three things, what name a student prefers, what pronoun they prefer today, and what pronoun and name should be used in communication home to parents as not all our kids are out to their parents.
And there was a time when I was sending out that email every day, because we had a genderfluid student whose preferred pronoun changed nearly every day between she and they.
And then the earth opened up, swallowing us all into hell… or teachers just adapted. It just became a routine, teachers would check the email, use those pronouns when talking to the student, use different ones in communications home as needed, and we’d keep an eye on campus to make sure no one was bullying the kids in question. With bathroom access, we just swapped out some single-access bathrooms on a floor for two gender neutral toilets so we didn’t even have to deal with any stress on that front and we just trucked on.
And it really wasn’t the end of the world. The students are happy, because unlike most places, their identities are being respected and they feel safe and the overall impact on instruction is near zero. Like, seriously, the biggest impact is that one of our bigender students explored with pronouns for awhile and eventually settled on ce/cir/cirs.
And that’s an uncommon pronoun. So all the teachers spent some time practicing, not much more than half and hour and now everyone pretty much lets it roll of their tongue with ease. And the impact on the student has been immense. This particular student has struggled a lot with suicidal ideation over the years but has openly said that school is the safest place ce knows and ce feel accepted as cirself here. And that’s important to us as educators. It makes us feel good about our job and our work.
And these are both things that are so minor, so unobtrusive as to not really involve more than mere seconds in the classroom, and yet we get endless thinkpieces bemoaning the “scariness” of these changes. And most are based on either ludicrous scenarios that simply don’t happen or on fixating on some corner case and going all slippery slope on it. So let’s tackle the latter one first.
OH ME OH MY THE SLIPPERY SLOPE!
So, detractors of trigger warnings like to fixate on an extreme case that can happen because arguing that they don’t like spending five extra seconds throwing in a head’s up before covering an intense topic makes them seem like assholes.
And that extreme case is: “What if you drop the trigger warning and a student leaves the classroom instead of engaging in the discussion”. Largely because that trigger warning lets them know that no, they don’t have the spoons for this today (maybe things are too raw, maybe it’s a bad mental health day, maybe they recognize that their defense on these things isn’t great or it isn’t a safe space to have a conversation on this*).
*And this last one is key. Because no one with traumatic experiences is going to risk their mental health if they expect that they’ll just get dismissed and that ignorant conjectures repeating toxic myths are going to be privileged over them. And that’s a failure of a teacher or moderator to control and is going to be responsible for more walkouts than anything else. Like, if something is making me angry and I know I’m about to blow up and yell at people and the room does not feel safe for politely correcting the record about someone else’s bullshit, I exit the room, let myself rant outside so I don’t disrupt the conversation and then either come back or move on to a different conversation. And this is not the same as a trigger warning. This is picking your battles and recognizing when you’re about to be a disruption to everyone else and removing yourself before that occurs.
Well, here’s the thing. In that extreme case, you’ve already lost the student. The only question left is to what degree you’ve lost that student. Like, if you didn’t give that trigger warning and instead jumped right into a triggering topic, that kid is going to be mentally gone. Because they didn’t have the spoons for it.
Worst case, they break down in the classroom, disrupting everyone’s lesson and making them less likely to attend future lectures because of the embarrassment of it. Second worst case, they blow up on a student and now you are de-escalating a heated argument instead of continuing in your lesson plan and everyone will be kind of less engaged because they’ll just be fixated on the argument and their personal feels. Third worst case, they shut down completely, go into a panic state, and absorb nothing from the lesson and are stuck in that hell for a period of time.
And fourth worst case and more commonly, they walk out anyways. Like, kids aren’t dumb, they get their mental health, they know what they have spoons for, and they don’t want to break down in front of everyone anymore than anyone else. So they’ll slip off to the bathroom, have a good cry, and maybe come back later, maybe not and now you’re tracking that student down or in college, hoping they come back to the next class.
Like, I’ve been in discussion groups that didn’t have content warnings or good moderation and the room’s felt unsafe for my experiences. And when that happens, I bail. I leave the panel or the discussion, go outside, rant for awhile in anger and frustration and go to a different panel or discussion group or just go home. It happens fairly regularly in ace discussion groups because I do a lot of atypical things for ace people so I tend to get erased in discussion groups a lot in ways that piss me off.
And that’s not even a trigger. That’s just fuck this shit. And I’ve been in lectures where the topic being covered is being covered wrong. It happens a lot in panels on gender or lectures on gender by ignorant cis straight white guys when you’re a trans person. And the panel or lecture ends up being a wash to deal with because all you can end up thinking about is how much you hate the ignorance of the presenter rather than anything else they said.
Point being with all this is a student who’d walk out at the trigger is a student you were going to lose no matter what.
If you do a trigger warning, now that student knows you care about their experiences and so is more likely to come in engaged in the next class. Like, we’ve been there as teachers where a student is being affected by home shit and is only like 20% there even though they are physically in the classroom. They’re too busy thinking about all that stuff instead. You show that kid openness, you give them the impression that you are safe to talk to, maybe they talk about it and that allows them to engage for the rest of the class because they feel they have support.
It’s the same with trigger warnings. If I have a student bail on me because that’s not a topic they can handle on that day, by giving them the trigger warning they are more likely to be willing to return to that topic on a later date rather than just asking to not even deal with the subject. And they are more willing to put in the work necessary to deal with a tough subject because they know I’m not gonna be an asshole to them about it.
Similarly, detractors of SO SCARY “social transition” like to fixate on locker rooms and bathrooms as if there isn’t already discomfort for the trans student in using those and as if that trans student would be safer using a bathroom where they are signaled out as not being approved by the school thus giving a free pass to bullies to target and harm them.
Like, just letting them use it, letting everyone know that yeah, we support accommodating kids, trans kids exist, deal with it, shuts stuff down real quick.
As noted, we went to gender neutral toilets for a floor and we cracked down hard on transphobic bullying. Within several months, everyone adapted and got over it. The students saying the way X student was dressed was weird got over it and eventually helped defend that students pronouns to others who misgendered them. The students complaining about the gender neutral toilets got used to them and just view them as the toilets that they are.
When we remove the official forced gendering and its enforcement, then the complaints about it tend to cease, because that enforcement has always been artificial and weird and it quickly becomes apparent that some kids being trans really isn’t the end of the world that parents assured them it would be.
And they get this, which leads to the slippery slope part.
Oh, what about kids adopting all sorts of outlandish pronouns and switching all the time. Well, we’ve had kids with neopronouns and kids with fast switches owing to gender fluidity. I sent out more regular emails. Done. For identities that were less common, I attach a link to a comic from an artist with that identity explaining what that identity meant for them or an article about the identity. The teachers take 5 minutes to read it and I serve as point person to answer questions as needed from them or the students. It’s all total cost me maybe a total of two hours of prep time over the course of the last year. Not a big deal.
Oh, but what about the slippery slope of trigger warnings. What about people having triggers of spiders or the letter b, how do you adapt to that?
Those triggers are uncommon, but if you recognize that trigger, you throw it in, it takes an additional five seconds and now you’re not losing a student whenever you cover spiders. Again, done, not that big of a deal. Also, this shit is bullshit, because rape triggers and abuse triggers are common because those issues are common. It’s good practice to always have those warnings, because you’re likely in any classroom of over 10 students who have at least one student with those triggers because they’ve had those life experiences.
But yeah, expanding it out for less common triggers won’t eat up your entire lesson. And you’ll earn a student who will be extra engaged because you acknowledged their trigger even if it seemed weird or unusual.
And now the conspiracy theory excuses
So, many detractors of both trigger warnings and “social transition” quickly realize that they have no legs to stand on. So many times, they’ll turn instead into full on conspiracy theories to try and distance themselves from the bigotry actually underlying their objections.
No, they cry, we don’t have a problem with trans kids and their pronouns or using trigger warnings so that kids with traumatic experiences, we have problems with… uh… er… that is to say… think of something… People faking those things to get stuff? YEAH, that’s the stuff.
You’ve probably heard these arguments a lot because sexists and transphobes love throwing them out there to make themselves seem less like cartoon supervillains for decrying things as minor and unobtrusive as trigger warnings or respecting people’s pronouns.
They go, oh, what about a kid posing as trans to slip into the girl’s locker room or bathroom (and it’s almost always “fake” trans women that these people freak out about, showing the backwards chauvinistic world they’re coming from). And what about a kid faking a trigger in order to claim that they can’t read any of the reading material or be assessed on it.
So, let’s go into these two slabs of bullshit shall we.
1) No one is going to go through all that effort just to intrude on a space where they might see the vaguest hint that someone is going to be undressed unless they are doing so specifically as a protest against the existence of trans people.
No, seriously, gender dysphoria is real and no one is going to go through being misgendered and the gauntlet of violent stares you get when you are visibly trans, being singled out as non-normative and a “freak” by the school, and all the anti-trans harassment that comes with all that just to maybe almost see less skin than they would see in most PG-13 movies or any bikini girl photo search on google.
The kids have the internet and they have porn at their fingertips and understand school blocking systems better than the people running them. That’s frankly too much effort for a creeper to bother with when there are much easier ways to see nudity that’s actually nude.
Additionally, creepers who get off on the violation of boundaries tend to also be heavily wrapped up in toxic masculinity and so are very unlikely to go through all the effort of putting on girly clothes to get off on violating spaces when they can do just as much damage and get in less trouble simply walking in through the unlocked front door and doing their creeper thing.
And that’s why the only people we see who are fitting these right-wing stereotypes of what men would do if this “trans madness” gets passed and we respect kids’ pronouns in schools, tend to be right-wing anti-trans activists who are deliberately walking into women’s restrooms to protest the existence of trans people.
In short, when the people raising the conspiracy theory are the only ones fulfilling the conspiracy theory, you can dismiss the genuineness of that concern real fucking fast.
And there’s a similar conspiracy theory for trigger warnings because right-wing ideologues are nothing if not derivative in their tactics insinuating that kids will claim fake trigger warnings to get out of assignments which has two flavors of what the fuck.
2a) This doesn’t happen, because trigger warnings aren’t actually a change in curriculum, it’s a heads up about planned curriculum. So kids aren’t actually going to be using them to get out of assignments, because trigger warnings aren’t actually about editing assignments to be respectful of the triggers of your students. It’s the verbal equivalent of throwing a warning tag on a mattress.
2b) So let’s talk modified curriculum or assessments. Cause as a teacher, I love these. I live for a student who for whatever reason wants to do an alternate assessment or project that ties more directly with their interests instead of a standard written assessment.
And I’ve done a bunch of different topics and especially love to throw these out as finals or midterms because it allows kids to engage deeper with the curriculum.
And I’ll do the extra work to make those a reality and will even do things like oral assessments for students who have severe test anxiety and can’t quite perform at their best in a traditional assessment. And because of this, I’ve been told by bosses that I’m one of the most requested teachers at my school and I tend to cover more material at a higher level than many of my fellow teachers and have actually given seminars to fellow teachers on how to expand curriculum options.
And the end-results are awesome. I had a student who was an artist do anthropomorphizations of each planet in the solar system and they ended up putting so many good touches into the design based on characteristics of the planets that I didn’t even notice them all at first (like Earth actually had accurate percentages of green and blue on her dress based on the percentage of water on the planet and Mercury had an off-the shoulder dress and mismatched pants to show the difference in temperature between the hot and cold side). I had another gut, clean, bleach, and construct a chicken skeleton as a final anatomy project.
Now, there are on occasion students who think this is a free pass to not do any real work on the final or midterm or on a particular assessment. Those students are wrong and I tell each student this. I grade alternative assessments harder than I would traditional assessments, because I’m taking the extra time to design and provide support for these alternate assessments. And the kids get that and only twice have I had to come down hard in the grading of an assignment because a student tried to test the waters of what they could get away with (those same students tried to play the same games with the traditional assessments, giving one word answers to short responses questions and snarky non-answers to long-form questions so it was not exactly an isolated incident).
You can incorporate that for trigger stuff. Providing alternate assessments or books for students that are just moving too slow owing to triggers on a book covering a particular subject. My fellow teachers have had to do it on occasion for English assignments. And well, it doesn’t have to be a big thing and you can grade it harder for the extra work on your part to have to be familiar to both books.
It’s also not something that’d go away if they didn’t do that. Like, you have a kid triggered by a book about a rape survivor and they’re moving slowly through it. They’re going to be disconnected from the discussions and unable to keep up with reading quizzes if you don’t accommodate them, so it ends up, do you lose the student and have them flunk that section or do you offer them a lifeline?
Most kids appreciate the lifeline.
And again, if you have some anti-trigger-warning asshole trying to bullshit their way out of doing work, well, they tend to back off when you show them the actual expectations you have for an alternate assessment and how you plan to grade it.
Said student is also going to try to disrupt the class no matter what.
Like, any women studies professor or gender studies professor can tell you about “that guy”. “That guy” occurs at least once in any class and they only attend because they view the major as bullshit and so have made it their mission to try and disrupt everyone’s learning experience and be as big an asshole to the other students as he can because he doesn’t want to engage with the material or thinking deeply about gender stuff. “That guy” becomes the bane of every other student, making discussion spaces less safe by mocking people with rape traumas or backgrounds with abuse, recycling MRA talking points, and acting like his ignorant conjectures should be seen as equally weight to the actual professors.
And these assholes love to fuck with assessments, writing essays deliberately arguing bass-akwards nonsense or just straight up refusing to complete work such as reading the novels or completing the essays, taking the F as a badge of pride for having “put those uppity feminists in their place”.
And so, yeah, “that guy” might try and latch onto a bullshit “trigger” to try and dodge out of work, but it’s part and parcel of his standard crap and one of the easiest to dodge, because you can give him a custom assessment that actually forces him to examine his behavior in its context or to research the actual science behind triggers and what they are. In short, you can give an alternate assignment that’s actually a learning experience and maybe get something out of “that guy” that you normally wouldn’t. Even if that’s them shutting up about demanding alternate assessments for the rest of the semester.
But again, even this off-the-wall example is easily dealt with by just having good habits with alternate assessments.
And again, most folks aren’t going to go for it unless they are actively protesting “trigger warning” stuff and trying to be an asshole about it.
These accommodations are minor. But the backlash is strong. And the backlash is strong because the accommodations are new. Because it’s taken us a long time to really respect, hey, there might be some kids who’ve actually dealt with shit in life, maybe we shouldn’t be dicks to them or hey, some kids might be trans.
And for a small core, any change from “what they used to do” feels bad. Feels like an imposition. Feels like oppression, because they have no experiences with oppression outside being asked to stop doing things that are oppressed.
And well, sorry, tough titties, but you need to grow up because the shit being asked for are hardly the imposition you make them out to be. No matter how you try and spin it.
It’s five seconds out of your day, adapt, move on, teach.
It’s really not that hard.
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.
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.
The video details a transwoman getting thoroughly thrashed by two assailants because she was seen as entering the “wrong” bathroom at a Maryland based McDonalds.
The staff filmed the assault and did not intervene in any way to stop the assault and in fact urged the assailants to flee before police arrived. The only person who intervened on the woman’s behalf was an elderly woman.
For all of the people who like to deny the correlations between cultural hatred and disregard of trans identity with violent assault and murder of trans individuals.
Moreover, for all of those who argue that the bathroom issue is “complicated” and that transpeople need to take a back seat to “concerns about safety”. That the cultural segregations at the bathroom do not create a mindset wherein defense of a clear separation isn’t seen as the most important thing. For those who can’t understand why bathrooms end up being such a huge source of stress, fear, and so on.
And especially for those so bound by hatred for transpeople’s existence that they believe transpeople deserve to get assaulted if they want the ability to shit like normal human beings in a closed stall like every other bastard seeking privacy and intestinal relief.
Watch the video at the link. Listen to every frightened scream. Listen to every hate-filled assault. Watch every boot come down.
Do that and then come back here and I dare you to not find the words turn into ash in your mouth.
For the rest of us, dear Bob in Himmel. It hurts to watch. And it hurts more to know this happens nearly every day in one form or another.
And if there’s one piece of hope I can give you, it’s that more and more people seem to be recognizing such acts as evil. More places are outraged when incidents like this occur. McDonalds has responded with an emphatic apology for the terrible actions of its employees and the initial uploader, at first proud of it, has found themselves at the center of a very nasty backlash.
Maybe just maybe, the social safety of being a bigot is decreasing and such actions will be less and less likely to be seen as laudable or “normal”.
*Warning on the comment section of the Joe My God post. It’s infested with some vile right-wing trolls and bigots so if you decide to scroll down into them, be wary.
Image is the property of Dean Trippe, his website can be found here
So, cool news. I’m going to be semi-regularly contributing to the Slacktivese. The Slacktiverse is a blog founded by the community of an old blog called Slacktivist run by Fred Clark who is a great writer, an unfortunately rare example of a good evangelical Christian, and one of the most important experts we have in understanding fundamentalist Christian culture.
Before, I continue, I urge all to read Slacktivist, especially his on-going page-by-page take-downs of the Left Behind series of books because it really is the best way to understand the myriad of seeming non-sensical patterns in right-wing paranoid culture. Most of the things that seem to come out of nowhere in right-wing obsessions or memes can be directly tied to the Pre-Millenial Dispensationalist and John Birch Society beliefs he illuminates. If you’ve ever wanted to understand the Rapture cultists and how much political power they have, Fred Clark is a necessary read.
That isn’t of course to sell my friends at Slacktiverse short. The former community includes a huge amount of talented writers who’ve made growth and understanding one of their key pillars. If you want brilliant illuminations and personal narratives from a variety of marginalized viewpoints, then Slacktiverse delivers in spades.
With regards to this site, I will still continue posting here with my usual erratic schedule and will post links to my Slacktiverse posts as they go up.
On that note, my first post Frakking Bathrooms is up and is about my personal and cultural experiences with bathrooms as a transwoman.
Let’s talk about bathrooms, specifically public restrooms. Now this doesn’t seem like much of a real topic. What are public restrooms? A place to expunge our wastes, wash our hands, and go.
Except…I’m a transwoman.
And as such, much of the battle for my basic rights seem focused on the issues of public restrooms.
Whether or not we have protections from being fired or turned over in hiring owing to our gender identity, whether we can be kicked out of housing or denied aid, whether we can legally be recognized as our actual sex, whether we are allowed access to aid mechanisms or services, and of course, whether our murders are to be investigated or silently left unsolved…all of these issues tend to be debated on the issue of whether or not we should be allowed in “their” bathrooms with their unprotected womenfolk and children and so on.
Now, that’s a stupid debate, filled with actions that say more about our opponents than those they attack. Much of it seems to assume that the gender signs on bathrooms act as a sort of magic ward that prevent men who want to assault women from entering unless they “disguise themselves as women”. Naturally, such occurrence of cross-dressing attackers in bathrooms never seems to manifest, though some of those who seek to defend from such a menace turn up to be bathroom attackers themselves.
I will, if allowed, gladly fill a column just about the political debate, but that isn’t why I’ve brought it up.
Today, I want to do something different than just arguing for my humanity and my right to poop.
Read the rest here
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.
And now, to complete tonight’s trifecta of ranting, I present an overly personal, possibly embarrassing emotional response to my current situation.
This rant will be bitter, unfair, even less focused than my usual posts, and probably a giant emo mess.
If that doesn’t sound like your bag of tea, I encourage, nay urge you to skip this one.
Honestly, this is just me airing some personal demons because keeping them bottled inside has been affecting my day-to-day mental health.
Okay, deep breath.
My life currently sucks.
If you’ve been at all following my blog or were a member of a blog where I used to be a more frequent poster (cough, pharyngula, cough) you’ve noticed that I’ve been doing a lot less posting. What have I been doing with the time otherwise spent posting things on the internet?
Looking for work.
I’ve been unemployed since my return to this country after gaining my master’s degree, so about 8 months now. Said months have been entirely on the poverty line where me and my partner have been playing a game of chicken with the clock just trying to avoid eviction and homelessness, often on the back of assistance by friends and family.
Now, I am very grateful for that help, but the whole situation has been soul-destroying in a way that is hard to translate into words.
Sending at times up to 20 resumes in a single day simply to receive nothing back in turn. Spending one’s days doing “everything right” in how one sends out one’s resumes and applications, spending over 8 hour days just working on job searching and getting little but “wow, you’re pretty experienced” from resume helpers and static from the actual companies I apply for, even the retail positions.
These actions infect you, no matter how strong you assumed your self-esteem or individualist streak to be. You start questioning your own worth. Inner demons of low-self-esteem, anxiety, terror at the void, become consuming. You start to wake up every morning, heart-automatically beating fast as you hope that this day you’ll at least have an interview.
In 8 months of searching, I have sent out over 1000 applications in a variety of fields. I have received 3 total interviews. One is up in the air, possibly destroyed by a recent “distraction” and “compromise” involving further slashing the California Education budget. Another was dismayed that being a full-time student that I had only managed to get 3+ years of academic lab experience (i.e. job experience in labs run by Universities) rather than industry experience and thus might not be suited for their entry level position doing essentially what I did for my master’s thesis. The third was a seasonal retail stint that was my sole breath of employment.
During this time, I have neglected self care. Only recently have I begun fighting myself and started to consider investing time in side-projects to keep myself sane while I search. One of whom I hope to bring to this site by year’s end.
Of course, it’s easy to understand the fixation. Unlike Denmark, whose cozy culture I grew very comfortable with in my two year’s abroad, there is no safety net here in America.
If I can’t find a job, the welfare system may throw me a few pennies to use for feeding myself mayonnaise while living in a box on the street. Unlike Denmark’s system, I will not receive a minimum living wage until I can manage to secure full-time employment.
Considering our capitalist system requires that a certain percentage of the population be unemployed at any given time and that we’ve even begun deluding ourselves by changing how we count “unemployed” people so the numbers don’t look as bad, you’d think it critical that we actually allow such people the chance to survive, but then, that would require us to give a shit about whether people live or die.
Lack of employment holds far greater weight than just that.
Lack of employment also means lack of health insurance.
Well, more or less. I mean, the anemic HRC passed means that I, for only a brief time more, have access to my parent’s health insurance. Which they “have”, from working a decent enough middle class job.
Except, despite the reforms, my parent’s health insurance is an open scam. Any attempt to actually use it guarantees requiring out-of-service doctors as few medical providers have even heard of the health insurance company in question. There is little way to contact a human at the providing company and the company refuses to pay any medical bill acquired, leaving one essentially the same as one without medical insurance.
Neither me or my parents can afford to get sick or injured at the moment and my parents have been unable to help me out in my quest for survival as they’ve been finding this out with a minor hospital bill.
Whether this will change when “things go into effect” in 2012 remains to be seen, but it’s a reason I bristle sometimes at those who want to pretend that HRC “ended” the debate on health care. The “fix” fixed nothing.
Now, lack of health insurance is something a lot in my generation have had to deal with. It’s a common state of things for those under 30, but for me, there’s another stabbing wound caused by this situation.
Now, not every transgendered person seeks medical or hormone therapy to be who they are.
However, I really want said therapy. One could say I desperately need such therapy. I’m coping the best I can, but each continued week with no interviews, no real hope of an end to this current state of being, I have to face inner demons.
Will I ever have access to hormones? Will I ever have access even to one-on-one therapy? How long must I delay being myself, dragging the edge of my gender dissonance against the ground especially with the attacks of low self-esteem and self-hatred caused by the cultural shock of returning to the States and it’s lack of social support network.
These are not light questions and while I’ve tried to make use of what resources I can, I can’t escape the fact that my life is on hold, in Hell, until I can not only find a job, but one with either inclusive health insurance or a damn fine paycheck that I can afford counseling and hormones on my own.
The belief that this will happen soon, much less at all, is rapidly draining.
And this coincides with the fact that this country is a gender-segregated mess that assaults my gender dissonance ever fucking time I head out, which demands I lie and feel inhuman every time I fill out an application for a job.
Seriously, this culture enforces the gender divide stronger than I remembered before leaving. Everything is gender coded and even single-stall toilets are carefully divided into a male and a female restroom even when it would be easier simply to label them bathrooms and let them be gender neutral.
Most every application has required identification by sex, causing a strong question and a bout of depression every fucking time I send out one. I send out several a day.
Worse than that, is the other ways the applications force one to lie and betray oneself.
I don’t know if many others have sent out retail applications lately, but retail applications have begun to do some pretty close to illegal bullshit in their “personality tests” of late.
Sure, there’s the usual pablum about whether you think customers are god’s chosen people and whether you think stealing is worse than stabbing someone to death for stealing.
But there is also direct questions intended to weed out anyone with depression, anxiety, or disabilities as unworthy of employment, basically asking everyone to be sunny and nimble like a fox just to be worthy of consideration.
Worse than that though is that the questions have recently been asking very carefully worded questions basically making sure one is conservatively minded and lacks liberal tendencies.
Not just the already questionable “are you a supporter of unions” type bullshit, but questions about whether one trusts current political leaders, what one thinks of current political issues, and what one thinks about the goodness of capitalism in all things and it’s inability to ever do wrong or the inability of a company to ever work against the interests of its workers.
Oh yeah, you better act like you love the taste of Free Market Jesus if you want employment at any retail chain in the good old USA.
So that’s what we got, a mess of a situation, bereft of social net, bereft of necessary medical care, tortured by the situation to the point where it is a daily battle against my own suicidal tendencies, and a number of political debate centers around things that spell life or death for me and those close to me…
Or it would, but instead it’s a bunch of Republicans trying to kill me and a bunch of Democrats trying to figure out how to help me so little that the Republicans will stop calling them socialists.
And frankly, America sucks right now. My life sucks.
This shouldn’t happen. We shouldn’t allow so many people to be on such a thin razor for everything.
We need a functional social safety net in this country. We need real genuine stipends, equal to a minimum living wage to the unemployed and underemployed and if that seems like a lot of people, then we better damn start employing some people.
We need real reform of the broken health care system, one where the current crop of scam artists have no input (not to punish them, but because they make their money by finding means to provide zero health care).
We need real reform in how we treat minorities, so that one can be themselves on their own terms, instead of forcing themselves through Hell on the off-chance that they’ll eventually be comfortable enough that it makes “financial sense”.
We need to care whether people live or die, prosper or suffer, thrive or collapse.
Coming home to America should have been joyous. A time to reunite with loved ones and be glad. It shouldn’t have been a nightmare that makes me wonder how stupid I was to ever make such a daft mistake.
America is not the best of all current systems.
It is the most broken, hideous, heinous system in the developed world and it is my firm belief that there is no reason why that should be the case.
We can be better. We should be better.
And I hope to fight all my life to try and make what is happening to me an archaic unthinkable notion.
But for now. Life sucks.
VERY LATE UPDATE: As Victoria points out below. I was massively wrong when I posted this about the number of dead. In my defense, I was following the usually decent transgender day of remembrance website, but still bad on me. As she points out, the number was actually 186 and as she notes will probably go up even if things get better as that means we’ll see more reporting of crimes that used to be “disappeared” or unreported on. If there is a bright side, it is that the political climate is improving slightly with some decent legislation and declarations going through the US and UN and countries like Canada starting to pass formal declarations of gender identity rights. But yes, sorry. The original post is in full below:
So, it’s that time of the year again. The time of the year where we take some time to stop and mourn those murdered in the past year because they dared be who they were. Who were murdered as a message to all trans people to stay hidden, unprotected, and afraid of the larger world.
It is where we mourn our losses and reignite our strength for resistance and self-resiliency.
It is a thoroughly depressing day, but a necessary one to highlight the way we are still slaughtered like animals by the society we coexist with.
Here is this year’s list of our fallen.
Among the fallen this year is Mariah Qualls, a young transgender activist who lived in San Francisco, which is quite near where I’ve moved to be with my partner and where I’ve been getting back into street transgender activism.
These deaths are not only heart-breaking because of who they were, who loved them, and why they are killed. They are also heart-breaking because they are part of a terrorist campaign to make every transgendered person scared to walk the streets, open their doors, admit who they are to potential friends, allies, lovers. It is a force trying to make us be silent so they can pretend we don’t exist, so our deaths will continue to mean nothing to the public at large.
And if there is one ray of sunshine to this year, it’s that the list is at least much shorter than last year’s.
It seems actions like the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and gender identity, both passed in the last two years, have started to pay off in governments and police departments taking our murders more seriously.
Additionally, the Angie Zapata murder trial may have acted as a watershed moment where the oft-employed “Trans Panic Defense” finally met its first failure to sway the jury to an unjust decision.
Basically, after so many Days of Remembrances and so much blood, our deaths, at least by murder (the one-third of transgendered people who end their lives by suicide are still invisible to the culture at large), seem to be starting to be taken seriously.
It doesn’t fix anything. And we still have a list far too long for liking to read and mourn this year.
Things are starting to get better…
And we can begin to dream of a day when the list numbers zero and we can remember this day only as a historical anomaly.
In the meantime, if you have time, consider attending one of these events tonight. Yes, it’s depressing, but it’s important for all of us to feel that we are not alone and that we are not the only ones who care about our dead.
Because with the recent political moves, it’s clear that that last statement has the added benefit of being true.
RIP Mariah Qualls and all those others struck down in their primes.
We mourn you all.
So in an earlier post, I went off on a problem that has been bothering me for awhile in the way that many of my fellow LGBT have been turning to open trans-erasure in order to continue a hate-on for the Commander-in-Chief.
Well, this one is also a response, but not to anything wide-spread or as deeply problematic as the “Hate Crimes Bill, what Hate Crimes Bill” wanking for the last year. No, it’s a response to something I’ve seen only occasionally and usually only as a random question based on the most famous term for one of the biggest current issues for the LGBT community.
That is “why should I a insert non LG queer group here care about gay marriage“.
Now, the question isn’t often asked, but it’s one worth addressing, because it arises entirely owing to media representation of the issue (much like media representation of all LGBT issues).
Of course, this framing makes sense, seeing as, of all the LGBTQIA groups that are affected, lesbians and gays are certainly those most affected and most thoroughly affected by access and recognition of secular same sex nuptials, but it leads to the problem where some, small minority of Bs, Ts, Is, and the rest wonder whether they are being shoved aside for a LG-only issue.
They are not. And I will now demonstrate the direct ways the full spectrum is affected by same-sex marriage rights.
Man, do bisexuals ever get flak on the marriage issue. There are the idiots who view them as incapable of marriage (because you’ll hurr hurr, want to marry more than one person, because monogamy and bisexuality surely couldn’t ever exist and oh yeah, there’s an assumption that there is something wrong and incapable of long-term relationships with being polyamorous) at all.
There is also a segment of people who almost just write them off from the marriage question and fight entirely because “they can just pass as straight” and “marry someone of the opposite sex”.
True, to a degree, but that degree is completely stupid.
See, that might make sense if love was like a free transfer between football clubs and one could simply move one’s emotions of love between one person and another to better choose how those feelings arose.
Love isn’t this Bolton Striker, no offense to the man
But see, bisexuals, being well, bi, can just as easily find their one true love, the person they want to spend the rest of their life with, who they want to make that life-long connection with, or who they want to form a legal family with inside a same-sex partner.
Just because they may be attracted to partners of either, won’t stop this from occurring and indeed the simple reality of statistics will ensure this situation probably comes up about half the time.
These couples are just as screwed as “pure” L or G couples and they are being heavily limited in which families get legal protection and which don’t.
Heck, bisexuals may be the most aware of the unfairness of the ruling simply because they are intimately aware that their loves and relationships with same-sex partners and opposite-sex partners are treated entirely differently despite being in every way the same.
Not to mention that a bisexual who is married now to an opposite sex partner could very well be screwed in the case of say being widowed or a divorce, where their next relationship could face the exact same hardships as many gay couples.
As such, bisexuals have a vested interest in passing it in order to ensure that who they fall in love with doesn’t have to contend with bigoted restrictions by the law.
So okay, we Ts have some outs by which we can get “secretly gay married” making a mockery of the bans and the inanity of the restrictions. Me and my partner have considered such a pairing in the future.
Basically, same-sex relationship transpeople could get married as “heterosexuals” and then go through legal sex-change (in States that recognize it) and be “gay married”. Similarly, opposite-sex relationship transpeople can get married post legal sex-change (in states that recognize it) as the opposite-sex couple they are.
Thing is, is while that legal loophole can be exploited for glorious bigot head-explosions, it’s also way too needlessly complex and porous.
It’s also worth shit unless I stay in one place.
See this old feministe post on how a marriage could change and one’s “legal sex” could change state by state making a road-trip a confusing mess that could see one’s marriage rights seen as non-binding.
As was stated:
“Taking this situation to its logical conclusion, Mrs. Littleton, while in San Antonio, Texas, is a male and has a void marriage; as she travels to Houston, Texas, and enters federal property, she is female and a widow; upon traveling to Kentucky she is female and a widow; but, upon entering Ohio, she is once again male and prohibited from marriage; entering Connecticut, she is again female and may marry; if her travel takes her north to Vermont, she is male and may marry a female; if instead she travels south to New Jersey, she may marry a male.”
Yeah, so there’s that mess. Then there is also the mess that okay, I can get “secretly gay married” to my partner if I marry before my legal sex change, but not after. If I or another “secretly gay married” trans person were to get divorced and fall in love with someone of the same legal sex later, I’d be just as screwed.
Similarly, opposite sex married transsexuals are at risk if anyone should decide to attack their legal sex or legal sex protections end up being repealed by future legal moves. Or if they just happen to be in one of the number of states that provide no means to change one’s legal sex.
Or hell, just by dickish vindictive family members like in this story where a recently widowed transwoman is being dragged to court by her husband’s family because of all sorts of bullshit.
A “marriage” that can be shredded at any time and could become void if you move or travel from state to state is not a legally protected family unit or a marriage equal to that granted cisgendered heterosexual couples.
As such, transpeople most definitely have a vested interest in passing gay marriage just to make life simpler to handle.
Intersex, Third Gender, Gender Queer, etc…
Similar to the trans issue. What is one’s legal sex, what sex is the person one happened to fall in love with, are their dickish family members who’ll fight you anyways because you’re “not really the right gender” by their standards? What did the doctors dictate, what does the state allow, how do you check the boxes on forms without any gender neutral option?
These can limit legal options and freedom of creating secular legal families.
There is the biggest impact for these groups however in something only lightly touched on in (but not at all unimportant) in the social acceptance angle.
Legal gay marriage is in many ways like a stick of dynamite in the war regarding social recognition of the humanity and loves of transgressive queer groups. It destroys a lot of opposition and mellows people out of their 1950s TV “Leave it to Beaver” hallucination of what “proper relationships” are supposed to look like.
Seeing people in love being all sorts of people, gay, straight, and other means they get used to it and stop seeing it as a threat.
As such, one will become less likely to be harassed with a partner of either sex based on perceived gender makeup of the relationship.
Not to mention that fear of “wrong sexualities” has been one of the motivators for the barbaric habit of “correcting” intersex genitalia in childhood (i.e. chopping up penises and clitorises) in order to protect a narrow view of marriage. Remove that “selling point” to the fucked up scared parents of the world and these butcher doctors have a lot less angle to practice their sick “aid”.
As such, removal of gender restrictions in marriage has a lot of benefits for those outside the gender binary.
Same place as bisexuals, really. Sure a number of asexuals (aromantic asexuals), don’t form or don’t want to form romantic relationships and married partnerships, but that’s not all asexuals.
Some other asexuals still fall in love or are otherwise seeking romantic relationships (romantic asexuals) and as such can run into the same trap as bisexuals of happening to fall in love with a person of the same-sex and find one’s soulmate there.
Are they to be restricted from marrying these people because some bigots have “issues” with same-sex sexual activity and somehow thinks that makes a compelling secular case for banning same-sex unions? Of course not.
It’s even more insanely offensive in that these “same-sex” partnerships will probably end up being more “chaste” and “Precious Moments” sexless than pretty much all heterosexual relationships including the repressed unhappy affairs of the loudest bigots, yet even the most crass and tasteless heterosexual union, entered into only to get “Jesus-approved” sex and then to the Divorce Court in the morning will be treated with more respect than something that can only be based in love, completely free of lust.
Not dissing lust, but it rather highlights the inanity of the opposition in the same way as the trans “legal loopholes” reveal the obvious failure of the restrictions.
As such, romantic asexuals have a vested interest in full marriage equality.
Especially straight feminists and straight women in general. This recent Pandagon post really says all that needs to be said on the why of it.
Basically, the opposition forces to gay marriage often use a term called “traditional marriage”.
Now, many of us, write this crap up as the usual bigotry invented language trying to make heterosexual marriages of the 50s into some sainted perfect thing, blah, blah, blah, but the fact of the matter is that there really is a format of marriage they see as “under attack” and which may even finally disappear with the wide-spread approval of gay marriages.
Gender-role based, “woman as chattel, free housekeeper, child-raiser, whore in the bedroom”, and the general patriarchal mess where marriages were not about love, but were simply the Jesus-based avenue where one was finally allowed to have sex without social sanctions. I.e. “traditional marriage”.
You can see it in the general arguments the anti-gay marriage forces use. There is no recognition of marriage as a union of loving couples and very little respect for sexual consent and the equal treatment of women. In fact, the same groups that are rabidly against women’s rights such as the Concerned Women of America are the same forces that fight gay marriage.
Maggie Gallagher, the main opponent to gay marriage and head of the anti-gay Mormon front NOM, got her start in the 80s as a dedicated anti-feminist activist fighting against equal-pay-for-equal-work, see here.
Indeed, the battle they seem to be drawing is between marriage as a duty-based loveless union one enters solely for “procreation” and the “glory of God” (i.e. the perpetuation of the patriarchy and the sacrifice of one’s happiness to its cold perpetuity).
The same forces target single-parents, no-fault divorce, and often speak out in support of abuse and against one leaving abusive or rapist partners.
And they are right that such relationship structures and marriage views still today have strong followings in areas with strict conservative religious upbringings such as Fundamentalist Christians, Catholics, Orthodox Jews, conservative muslim and hindu populations, and of course, the Mormons.
Yeah, they are definitely fighting for a “marriage”, one bruised and battered by feminist gains where many of us young simply expect that marriage is about two people who love each other and want to have social recognition for that love.
Where partnerships are partnerships of equals or at least striving for equality where the union is based in love and respect rather than duty, a need to get laid, pregnancy necessity, or the like.
Gay marriage is the last stake through that vampires heart, the visual example that the “necessity of gender roles” is bullshit and that one “owes” unhappiness to one’s children other than competent care by loving parents in homes that aren’t like war zones.
Where one can be who one wants and fall in love with whoever they so happen to fall in love with, without artificial restrictions and chains dragging them down.
As such, straight feminists, women, and men who aren’t morons all benefit from gay marriage delivering the deathblow to this outdated and misogynist view of marriage as trap rather than expression of love.
It’s an issue for all of us, and one we are very close to reaching, so close it’s almost driving us in the LGBT community insane as if it was an apple dangled over our nose perpetually out of reach like it was a punishment in Tartarus.
But we’re starting to get a taste, a few savory bites and all we can say is “soon, oh so soon, we’ll eat that apple of equality.”
And we’re all in it for the fight.