Good news Monday: Victim’s advocates debunk transphobic bathroom bills

The Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Woman has several hundred signatures from various women’s advocacy groups pointing out some of the obvious fallacies present in transphobic bathroom bills such as North Carolina’s HB2:

Nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people have existed for a long time. Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. In some cases, these protections have been in place for decades. These laws have protected people from discrimination without creating harm. None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state. We operate and advocate for rape crisis centers and shelters all over the country, including in cities and states with non-discrimination protections for transgender people. Those protections have not weakened public safety or criminal laws, nor have they compromised their enforcement.

Discriminating against transgender people does not give anyone more control over their body or security. Those who perpetuate falsehoods about transgender people and nondiscrimination laws are putting transgender people in harm’s way and making no one safer. We cannot stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims.  We will only accomplish our goal of ending sexual violence by treating all people, including those who are transgender, with fairness and respect.

The letter is from April 2016 but I missed it amid my early blaggage. Still, I appreciate knowing that actual experts in victim’s advocacy agreed with my observations that these bills are solutions in search of a problem.

-Shiv

Thoughts from Edmonton’s solidary march

I would guess the number of Americans who truly don’t understand why half their country took up arms in protest is quite small. Trump supporters, clearly, are fully aware of the sack of shit that is their President, and the sadistic cowards revel in the idea of a rapist and conman driving the country in the ground. Perhaps less obvious is why the rest of the world cared so much.

In Edmonton, Trump’s inauguration was greeted with a convincing rendition of Silent Hill.

wmw1

CBC estimates that 3,500-4,000 people attended. Bubblegum pink pussycaps dotted the crowd, amidst signs saying “General Organa sent me” and “Pussies grab back” and “It’s so bad even the introverts are here.” The unusually humid air clung to skin, drawing cold through winter armour, a breeze cutting through the rest. Pride flags flap in the wind, people shuffling together and jumping up and down in circles to keep the blood in their toes. Three hijab-clad women take a spot in the crowd in front of me, just behind one of the Pride groups.

wmw4I worry that this is simply going to be an hour of being lectured in the cold. Nobody attending today needs to be told what is important to stand for in our future. That’s why we are here. And the cold claim its casualties–the protest slowly bleeds participants as the event creeps on, myself included 40 minutes in. Still, 4,000 people is about ten times as much as you’d get over a local issues protest. wmw3

 

 

Faith leaders are called to speak at the event, all of whom were women. The Catholic was met with stony silence, the Jew with a few mitten-smothered claps. The Indigenous speaker had to hush a group of clueless white women who started chanting over her prayer–though the mention of the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry was met with enthusiastic applause. The only speaker with any substantial charisma was the Muslim woman, who took the sort of firebrand preaching you’d expect from a doomsayer but turned it into a social justice rallying cry. The energy in the crowd practically ignited, cheers & chanting erupting where there was half-hearted enthusiasm tempered by shivering.

Even as I listened and cheered along, recognizing many of the same political goals in this firebrand that I had, I felt unnerved. I described her as a preacher for a reason. She did not mention god (or allah), but her speech, however forcefully delivered, nonetheless spoke in righteous condemnation of sin–defined by greed and selfishness and misogyny–and called for us to be pure in our commitment to equity and justice. Powerful though the speech was, I could not help but feel the nagging sense of manipulation so ubiquitous at religious services.

Let us not forget that Trump has the overwhelming support of Evangelicals. More religion, we do not need. And the reluctance to identify the capacity religion had and continues to have in our geopolitical landscape strikes me as an awful oversight.

The saying goes, “when America sneezes, Canada catches a cold.” We care for your welfare because we are ethical human beings, but it also true on a pragmatic level that every dog-awful head-up-ass decision America makes costs Canada something. And, unfortunately, the western half of Canada has caught the stubborn cold sores that are evangelicals.

Overall, the message seemed overwhelmingly clear that progressives of all stripes were ready to band together against the reactionary movements in our province. But I worry that religion will continue to receive the kiddie-gloves from the next political generation. My hope is for a generation of human rights values without exception, a generation which needs no existential greater calling to simply agree that we are all human, and that is enough.

America, Edmonton is with you.

-Shiv

Ask me anything (no, really)

I had to make sure I wasn’t in some kind of quasi-Twilight-Zone-dream when, for the first time, more than one person has asked to pay me to make an appearance to talk about trans stuff.

While there’s no shortage of information pinging around in my brain at 12,429,231 km/s, I’m not necessarily equipped to know what y’all weirdo cis people actually want to know about. I have forgotten what it was like to not know.

So, in the context of “people are throwing modest sums at me to talk about trans stuff,” what kind of trans stuff would you attend if it were being offered at a conference?

Don’t worry about asking offensive questions since offensive questions may be a topic unto itself (that’s a content warning, trans readers).

-Shiv

It’s tough work being Baphomet, you know

Content Notice: Trans-antagonism.

I don’t deliberately visit Patheos often for one big reason: Portions of that network are, to put it charitably, like packets of guano flung into a ceiling fan. But lo and behold, minding my own business through an innocently conducted wikiwalk, I stumble upon the Christian theological case that trans folk are Baphomet.

Or… something.

The article begins:

I was doing some research

Sure. “Research.”

for an article on the statue of Baphomet which was unveiled in Detroit last weekend when I discovered some very interesting details.

For those of you who are not up to speed, the Satanic Temple unveiled a nine foot statue of Baphomet–or Satan.

As I looked at the image and read up on it I saw that the Devil is portrayed as transgender or androgynous.

[Read more…]

It’s the future: Non-browning apples

Today I learned about polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme apparently responsible for the browning of lettuce and apples upon exposure to oxygen.

Then I learned about a set of Golden Delicious apples that have been genetically modified to reduce their production of polyphenol oxidase, allowing them to go three weeks in exposure without browning–an industry standard previously met with additives.

Carter reduced the enzyme polyphenol oxidase to prevent browning when apples are sliced, bitten or bruised. The apples match the industry norm of not browning for three weeks after slicing but without using flavor-altering, chemical additives that the rest of the fresh-sliced apple industry uses.

Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji varieties have been approved by the USDA and Canada. An Arctic Gala could be approved in 2018. Only Goldens and Granny Smiths have been planted long enough to produce fruit in commercial quantities by next fall.

Read about the summary here or the full post here.

It’s the future! Do me next!

-Shiv

Transition Reactions p15: Just being descriptive

By now, what I learned in genetics is rusty enough that new genetics papers are starting to get unreadable, but I can remember distinctly what it was like to read the scientists that had been mapping and describing the human genome. Contrary to the claims of the many antagonists to trans rights, there was–and still us, upon blowing off the dust to review–very little objectionable about the way they described human sex determination, and it is quite compatible for trans feminism. The key difference was that these geneticists weren’t flying off the rails to draw grand conclusions–they knew they were still trying to find all the puzzle pieces, never mind ready to assemble the picture.

I suppose if I were to be karyotyped and have my genome mapped, I would still have no qualms with the geneticist performing this making statements like “you have a y chromosome, therefore you only have one copy of certain genes ordinarily housed on the X chromosome.” That’s a statement that is testable, something that can be affirmatively proven. The problem is that so few people outside of developmental biologists and human geneticists can actually keep their conclusions conservative and in line with the evidence. I have never once had the statement “you have a y chromosome” ever actually end in a neutral statement, despite the claim from trans-antagonists that they are simply trying “to be descriptive.”

If being called male were only ever a prelude to testable statements involving genetics, I would be considerably more indifferent to the designation. But it’s not. Specifically in the context of trans rights, my theoretical* y chromosome is rolled up into a paper bludgeon and continuously smacked against my head during arguments that suggest anything from a propensity to rape to invented sexual motives for transitioning.

One of the inevitably predictable “gotchas” lobbed at me is a strawman of this argument. They’ll say something like “but you could get someone pregnant” in order to support the idea that some predictions can be justifiably drawn as to the nature of my actual sex. But I have never objected to empirically supported observations like capacity to impregnate or that the gametes I used to produce were smaller than ova. That’s all fine. What they sail past is that my reason for bristling at the whole “you’re still male” conversation is that it is never about the well supported observations on the likely natures of any given human, it’s about hitching a long-ass baggage train to those concepts.

Instead what I get is, you have a y chromosome, therefore:

  • You’re a man
  • Men produce testosterone
  • Testosterone makes a person violent
  • You’re violent

If this never ending baggage train ceased to be predictably hitched onto the term “male,” I’m sure I wouldn’t read such assertions as the snarl of a trans-antagonist revving their engine in preparation to run me over. If it were simply, “you’re male, so you probably produce gametes smaller than ova” or “you’re male, so you only have one copy of [gene housed on X chromosome],” I’d have nothing to write about.

But then, you know, TERFs are getting paid handsome sums to compare me to rapists, so. Bristles. Probably here to stay.

-Shiv


 

*I’ve never actually been karyotyped, so I don’t know for certain I even have one. It is quite likely I do, as I was assigned male, but I try to use the word “know” for things that have been repeatedly tested.

 

Julie Bindel is not a woman

Content Warning: Virulent TERFy trans-antagonism

I imagine I would be rightly discredited if I spent my entire career honing in on Julie Bindel and publishing defamatory essays justifying my frankly bizarre obsession with whether or not Bindel counts as “a woman.” Yet antagonizing trans folk is still so politically palatable that you can do exactly that and still achieve success. On no other topic can I imagine it is possible to have columns on both The otherwise-queer-friendly Guardian and the misogynistic half-fake conservative rag The Daily Mail.

Yes, that’s right, an essay comparing trans women to serial killers and rapists was published on The Guardian, a supposedly progressive news site. Somehow Bindel has mastered the art of making transphobia look simultaneously progressive and reactionary. It’s Schrodinger’s Bigotry, if you will.

Nonetheless, there are vast tracts of Bindel’s career dedicated to obfuscation and false equivalency. In her wake virtually no productive conversation on trans issues will prevail, because she kicks up enough dust that all you can do is cough. And the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, UK, decided this was who they wanted to represent their “LGBT” History month.

I’m not going to try and appeal to Bindel or her supporters–their “feminism” is little more than a gangrenous limb that refuses to fall off. Nor is this post meant to be a direct response to Bindel’s work–a quick search for “criticisms of Julie Bindel” produces hundreds of posts responding to Bindel’s nonsense.

Instead, I’m going to issue a very straightforward question for the WCML:

Do you have the integrity to be honest and rename your event the AFAB, Lesbian Separatist, Cisgender Supremacist History month? Because not even lesbian separatists want anything to do with Bindel’s particularly virulent strain of bile-spewing done in the name of “feminism.” Certainly bi folk and trans folk–you know, the “B” and “T” in your initialism–do not in general support their own defamation through bigoted talking piece Julie Bindel. So why on Earth is Bindel your “LGBT” speaker if she represents a highly specific, extremely hostile iteration of lesbian separatism that aggressively alienates the other letters?

Oh, right. “Freeze peach.” Just not for the B and T, apparently.

I’m starting to feel at this point that the only argument anti-rights advocates can muster on this topic is that it isn’t literally illegal for them to state their position. Somehow it doesn’t occur to anyone that this is the flimsiest, saddest defence one can imagine for a position. But Julie Bindel will carry on doing the patriarchy’s work and calling it feminism, and there’ll be no shortage of venues simply handwaving away criticism as “sensitivity.” More dust, less talk, and a lot of trans people struggling to cope with the stress knowing that the wrong conservative crusader could pick up these ideas and try to legislate us out of existence.

-Shiv

 

Jason Kenney is literally just making shit up this time

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney went to Twitter to express outrage about the provincial government’s tax plan and how it was ruining the economy because it made taxation high.

The problem with Kenney’s claim? Well, one of those pesky details he can’t be bothered with is that the New Democratic Party have a tax scheme that is still lower for all tax sectors than the Progressive Conservative posterboy Ralph Klein’s.

One wonders how taxes are “ruining” the performance of the Province which still has the lowest taxation rate in the country, even taking into account our new carbon tax.

Oh, and that “ruined economy”? Still the strongest in the country.

Can’t let pesky facts get in the way of our sabre-rattling, though. Governments don’t need details! And neither do pundits! That’s why all the papers say the province will fall apart, any second now!

-Shiv