Now that’s a bit more compelling

I’ve always given the side-eye to proponents of Brain Sex theory (“neurosexism”), the idea that brains can not only be sexed but that those sex states are binary, on the grounds that their methods for measuring brain sex aren’t particularly good: MRIs. I haven’t found a brain scan study that had made me rethink this opinion. They’re still extremely weak for making any argument, even if I appreciate that most Brain Sex proponents tend to be affirmative of trans lives vis-a-vis “born this way” rhetoric.

It’s still a theory ripe for exploitation by sexists, and I still don’t find interpretation from brain scans convincing. There’s too much space between the observation and the interpretation thereof, space filled with magical thinking and after-the-fact justification.

What I have found–and for some reason, didn’t think to look for–is something a fair bit more compelling as evidence for the “gender variance as biological event” hypothesis. It’s a twin study Franksteined together from other twin studies.

Often the difficulty of trans twin studies is a lack of data. So the researchers just sewed together hundreds of twin studies, many of which reported at least one twin in at least one twin pair who was transgender and thus transitioned. Most of these studies weren’t investigating gender variance so it didn’t factor into the analysis, though they were obviously mentioned in the observations.

The findings have interesting implications: (Content Notice–like most cis researchers, the interpretation of results can be belittling or riddled with problems discussed in trans feminist discourse. Emphasis mine.)

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“No way under heaven,” says Baptist school after being told to respect Queer youth

Two Baptist schools which are financed by public money have decided they are not going to draft a Queer-inclusive policy for their students, despite it being required by Bill 7, Bill 10, and the Education Minister: (emphasis mine)

A Spruce Grove pastor who oversees two Christian private schools has accused Alberta’s education minister of wielding “dictatorial power” on the issue of LGBTQ rights, and says his board has no intention of complying with the government’s new policy.

I have a duty as a pastor to protect the flock of God,” said pastor Brian Coldwell, chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society, which runs two schools in rural Parkland County with a total of 200 students. “And there is no way under heaven I’m going to allow gay activists to come in here and basically undermine our ministries and our religious freedoms or confuse and corrupt our children.”

Okay, so, essentially he’s complaining because the government, which pays his salary, is saying he has to treat Queer students with respect, as mandated by law, because his “flock” needs to be “protected” from “gay activists” who “confuse and corrupt” children. That’s a funny story coming from the same institution that routinely protects pedophiles and brainwashes them into thinking Queer people are broken, perverted, or otherwise dangerous.

Here’s an unsettling revelation: The St. Albert Catholic School Board has in writing that its “guiding policy” for Queer youth is to preach “chastity.”

(6) Imposes no special requirements/additional constraints  Calls students with same-sex attractions to a life of prayer, self-control, and chastity.  Procedure explicitly requires a staff advisor of any student group to impose the “Church’s definition of chastity as a basis for advising students within their work” (Procedure 4.6 & 4.7).  Requires any student group (such as a GSA or QSA) the additional burden to follow the “CCSSA Life Framework” (See Procedure 3 and Appendix 1).

These abusive mother fuckers are receiving my tax money to install god damn fucking conversion therapy-lite in god damn fucking public school. This religious indoctrination is precisely why the suicide rate is so high for Queer youth. And this shit is being taught in publicly funded schools!

David Swann, the leader of the Alberta Liberal Party (yes, they still exist) has also called on David Eggen to not only dismantle antagonistic school boards, but to ban conversion therapy.

“The legislation, supported by every provincial party, and the policies set forth by the government, were created to provide kids with the right to be who they are,” said Swann. “No organization, especially a school, should have the ability to take those rights away.”

“This is precisely the situation where LGBTQ protections are most needed,” Swann said in a statement. “There is an antagonistic school board and a strong bias against the LGBTQ community.”

Swann also called on Eggen to ban the practice of conversion therapy throughout the education system, after Coldwell said Christian counseling would be used to help LGBTQ students.

“This type of ‘therapy’ is widely opposed by experts in psychology, psychiatry and social work,” said Swann. “There is no place for it in Alberta’s schools.”

A petition has been started to lobby for the pulling of these school’s public funding. Please sign it here.

If schools that receive Albertan education funding dollars do not want to follow the law – they should not continue to be funded by the taxpayer, obviously. Tax money is not meant to subsidize spaces that make LGBTQ2+ students unsafe. Every student has a right to attend school in a safespace, Brian Coldwell has repeatedly demonstrated in public he is incapable of providing that – including during a bizarre interview on Ryan Jespersen’s radio show a few weeks ago where he discussed ex-gay “Pray the Gay away” conversion techniques which can cause irreversible psychological damage and amounts to child abuse.

Your signature and signal boosting are hugely appreciated. Call on the NDP to take action instead of grandstanding. I am sick to my stomach just thinking about “Christian counselling” and “chastity” advice.

-Shiv


 

August 30: Earlier version of this article said the two schools were Catholic. I’ll own up to it–I just assume every time religious dickheads do dickhead things in Alberta, it’s the god damn Catholics. In fairness, St. Albert’s Queer policy is still rancid.

Priorities

A football athlete stands up against institutionalized racism and his fans burn jerseys, he loses his job, and white people everywhere freak out.

A football athlete is caught on film assaulting his wife or raping teenage girls, and…

-Shiv

In which Miri accidentally writes my life story

Miri (Brute Reason formerly of FTB) over on The Orbit wrote a piece that has nothing to do with me directly, except that she described my abuse situation in basically 100% detail (pronoun of the abuser notwithstanding, emphasis mine):

The idea that a “real” sexual predator will inevitably prey on every single person they are involved with comes from the idea that people who harass, assault, and abuse are unable to control themselves, that they are rapid beasts who lunge at every available target. As knowledgeable folks have already pointed out many, many, many times, that’s not how the overwhelming majority of sexual violence works. At all.

I’m not inside any sexual predator’s mind, so I can’t tell you how any particular individual decides who to try to harass, assault, or abuse and who to pretend to be a good person to. But I’ve watched quite a few of these situations unfold and what they all had in common was that the accuser was young, relatively unknown in the community, queer, non-white, and/or marginalized in other ways, whereas the current and former partners stepping up to defend the accused were well-known, well-respected, often older members of the community it happened in.

What’s going on with that?

What’s going on is that people who want to hurt people pick people that they doubt will feel empowered to speak up, and who will be much less likely to be believed if they do.

Just like abusers aren’t uniformly awful to the people they’re abusing–if they were, it’d be much easier to leave–they aren’t uniformly awful to everyone else. They’re often charming, beloved by their friends, and professionally successful. And yes, in a polyamorous context, that can even include other partners.

Geez, Miri. I don’t know if you read my column or not, but you are rapidly becoming a very enlightening resource when it comes to understanding my own abuse–how difficult it was to speak from the back foot as a queer trans woman in the BDSM community, and how my abuser was a charismatic and charming volunteer who had a habit of making herself useful everywhere she went.

It went about as well as you’d expect. #NeedNewFriends

-Shiv

Zeus cancelled Christmas

A lightning bolt in Norway killed 300 reindeer, which will no doubt result in a labour shortage this upcoming Christmas when Santa is tasked with a worldwide delivery of toys:

More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by lighting in central Norway in what wildlife officials are calling an unusually large natural disaster.

The Norwegian Environment Agency has released eerie images showing a jumble of reindeer carcasses scattered across a small area on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. The agency says 323 animals were killed, including 70 calves, in the lightning storm Friday.

Agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told the AP it’s not uncommon for reindeer or other wildlife to be killed by lightning strikes, “but we have not heard about such numbers before.”

I guess you could say this news is…

shocking.

-Shiv

I’m not ____ist, but: A note on so-called moderates

The so-called moderate conservatives in Alberta have a lot of criticisms of the current NDP government. There is a common refrain that Notley was only elected to punish the arrogant Jim Prentice, the former leader of the now defunct “Progressive” Conservatives. I don’t doubt that there are a lot of uninformed voters who cast their ballot in this fashion–this candidate is an asshole, this candidate smiles nice–but they seem to miss the part where many of us voted for Notley because the Albertan NDP had a mostly sane, mostly evidence-based platform.

I’m glad to see that these so called moderate conservatives care about such issues as poverty, unemployment, rampant drug addictions, violent crime, sex trafficking, palliative care, overburdened healthcare providers, enormous class sizes, and so on. But increasingly I am noticing a pattern where actually resolving these issues with time tested methods is met with vocal objections by these moderates.

Canadian oil isn’t as attractive as it used to be, so fewer people are buying it, which means oil companies engaged in massive lay offs to protect their bottom lines in response to the tanking value of their commodity. This isn’t a new phenomenon. It happened under the previous government every few years, too. The nature of Alberta’s oil-dependent economy has always meant being extremely vulnerable to the whims of the global market since it’s the only thing we’re selling that rakes in the big bucks. And if nobody’s buying?

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Another god damn trigger warning & safe space debate

Content Notice: Trigger warnings. /snark

More serious content notice: I’ll use transphobia to make my point.

Imagine for a moment you’re in a class where today’s topic is “Freedom of Movement.” The professor introduces the concept and states today’s lecture is specifically about the contexts in which it is appropriate to restrict freedom of movement. They go over things like “a building is on fire and the fire department needs you to get out the way,” or “it’s one way to punish lawbreakers without causing permanent injury.”

Now imagine someone interrupts the professor to make an argument about how it’s wrong to expect them to get off of someone’s toes because it restricts freedom of movement. “I have a right to stand on Sally’s toes,” he says, ignoring Sally’s numerous protestations.

That is how fucking absurd this debate is. Every time it comes up–and this isn’t the first–you get a whole lot of talking past each other, because one side of the debate thinks they have a right to stand on Sally’s toes.

Problem #1: I don’t think that means what you think it means.

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Canada’s right wing radicals

MacLeans has a review of Canada’s very own alt-right, filled to the brim with ignorant white voters spewing a constant fountain of hate and violence:

It became such a concern for Brian Jean, the leader of Alberta’s populist Wildrose Party and the leader of the province’s official Opposition, that he stopped his relentless criticism of the province’s left-wing NDP government long enough to ask his Facebook followers to stop threatening to murder Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“Over the last few days, I’ve seen far too many hateful and even violent social media posts directed toward our political opponents,” Jean wrote in a Facebook missive two weeks before Christmas. “This needs to stop. These kinds of comments cross all bounds of respect and decency and have absolutely no place in our political discourse. This is not how Albertans behave.”

Jean says he felt compelled to go public after being struck by the number and nature of the threats against Notley. They began, Jean said, shortly after the Notley government introduced a farm safety law that extended compensation rights to farm workers. Bill 6, as it is known, sparked demonstrations from Alberta farmers, who worried it would prohibit them from hiring temporary labourers and recruiting volunteers.

“I’ve never had to do anything like this in my political career,” says Jean, a 12-year veteran of federal and provincial politics, of his note. “There was open hatred and actual threats of life. I even got threats myself after I posted the message. It shows the level some people will go to. It’s not helpful. It absorbs the importance of the discussion itself.”

You made your bed, Brian Jean. Now sleep in it. If your supporters act like monsters, it’s because every time the Dickweeds step up to the plate you engage in stochastic terrorism.

-Shiv