A shared frame of reference should be a necessity

I exchanged a rather grating series of messages on one of my private Facebook groups about transition regret. With such a politically loaded trope I said early on in the conversation that we should pick a specific story–bearing in mind it would be anecdotal unless it was accompanied by data–so that we have a shared frame of reference.

They said they would refuse to divulge the personal disclosures from their friends. I never actually asked for those, nor would I. I literally said pick a story. Pick just one. Her response was to flippantly tell me to Google it.

That badly missed the point. We need a shared point of reference because otherwise we’ll keep trading in hypotheticals and get nowhere. I’m well aware that stories of transition regret exist and I’m also aware that of the minority who regret their transition that the cited reason is most often poor surgical outcome and not a mistake about their identity. But that particular observation lacks political traction and doesn’t propagate as quickly as “TEH TRANS ARR RECROOTING TEH CHILDREN!”

I’ll go–but what about the fantastic mental health outcomes of youth who are supported in their transition?

They’ll go–but what about those who regret it?

And nothing will be actually achieved, because without specifics we can’t identify whether there was a failure in the service provided or if the service provider was competent or if the actual cause of their regret is discrimination or surgical outcome rather than having made a mistake about their identity and on and on and on it goes.

This is one reason–there are many–but one reason why I moderate my comments extensively. You could say the guiding principle is “stay on target.” People making references to “those damned children!” without actually providing some kind of shared frame of reference by which we can participate are usually filtered precisely because the sort of circle jerking that ensues annoys me deeply.

It reminds me of one of the most important lessons I learned in my time at university. Open-ended questions were often posed in essay projects and the only way a student can stop floundering in such prospects is to select a reference to which the professor (or more likely the professor’s teaching assistant) can compare your argument. Students who neglected to pick a specific topic found themselves failing because their essay ended up being a bunch of fluff.

Needless to say, a chorus of insults followed when I bowed out of the conversation by saying that without a shared frame of reference, I would not participate. I was accused of trying to cover up the “dark side” of transition.

Patently ridiculous considering my job is doing exactly that.

Was providing that link so difficult?

-Shiv

 

I’m not actually happy about what happened to Milo Yiannopoulos

Professional garbage fire Milo Yiannopoulos finally had his book deal retracted. He also was also set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference and that too was cut.

I’m not particularly happy at this change of events. Not because I want to hear him speak–I’d sooner swim through a sea of thumbtacks–but because it wasn’t his blatant racism, xenphobia, sexism or transmisogyny that was considered unacceptable. No, apparently all those are still fine, but if you advocate for pederasty, that’s the straw too much!

Let me be clear here: I do not think debate is the correct response for Milo. He knows he’s full of shit. He embodies the nihilistic performative sadomasochism endemic to 4chan. He is not there to expand the knowledge of his audience, he is there to pump them up with a victim narrative and set up a plethora of still-mistreated minorities as the villain of a cheap video game. I will stop just short of endorsing the Black Bloc’s disruptive tactics–Canadian Intelligence has something of a hate-on for anarchists and this post will inevitably be mined by them for dirt should I be arrested–but debate and protest don’t work on him. You need to deter him. You need pain, or the threat of it at least, to get him to give up. The Black Bloc achieved something where peaceful protest did not. That is undeniable.

And that’s what pisses me off. When he was running around the country, performing acts that would be considered criminal in sane democracies, everything was just fine because he was targeting other undesirables. Seriously, he got paid to sexually harass a trans woman so badly she had to flee campus for her safety. This is not a man embarking on a quest for knowledge. This is a man whose mission is to cause pain as some kind of divine retribution for succeeding where insecure basement dwelling entitled white men have not.

Why hasn’t the school been sued to oblivion for permitting this? Why does it seem like enough people don’t give a shit about his inciting violence against trans people?

No, none of that mattered. It was pederasty-while-gay that finally did the deal.

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech.

-Shiv


 

Edit Feb 22, 2017: Following reader feedback I have removed a poorly worded reference to Richard Dawkins’ dismissals of the impact of pederasty.

Spouses are more dangerous than terrorists

Content Notice: Sexual assault.

There’s this obsessed guy who runs around on every political article that pops up in my feed screaming at the top of his lungs about “rapefugees.” It’s an immediate red flag–I noticed a long long time ago that most people can’t be arsed to give a shit about the violence committed within their own communities but holy shit what changes when the perp is brown!

This is where it is useful to lean back and look at big picture statistics. Sexual assault is sexual assault regardless of who does it to whom, so if our justice systems weren’t massively flawed we would expect roughly the same outcomes across the board in terms of what is reported and what is prosecuted. Except with sexual assault, when you look at the big picture, you see a pretty big gaping hole between reporting and prosecuting under certain specific circumstances.

A ridiculous proportion of sexual assaults are accounted for with these three components:

  1. Targeted an acquaintance, not a stranger;
  2. Used alcohol rather than force or drugs;
  3. Denied allegations of sexual assault should they be raised;

YesMeansYes breaks it down further: (emphasis original)

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I’ve asked and answered

Random musings from another nattering TERF cloud that recently bombarded my feed: “Just asking questions of gender identity” was one of the ways this particular TERF piece of shit cloaked her bigotry.

So, thing is, gender variance as a concept is already being investigated. By researchers, not anonymous bloggers on the internet. Even I don’t perform original research, I merely propagate its findings in the naive hope that facts will eventually enter this fucking conversation. But when TERFs say this, they don’t mean they’re investigating gender variance as a concept–more of them would be actual researchers if that were the case, and they’d have more than one citation that will inevitably be That Fucking Swedish Study–they mean they have taken it upon themselves to question my questioning as to how it applies to me.

Frankly I just want to stop and ask them how many times they think I’ve wrestled with this question. Did I come to terms with my gender by popping up one morning and saying “oh yeah, this’ll be a laugh”? Or was this a process delayed unnecessarily for 15 years between the first inkling that something was wrong and having the vocabulary to articulate myself because the very culture I live in treats my existence as some kind of baby-eating taboo?

It’s fucking offensive, and that’s not a word I use a lot, to tell me I haven’t thought this through. Every day. Every morning. At most finding distractions for half an hour to get my mind off it. I’ve spent more time questioning my life than living it, so the sheer arrogance of some self-appointed fucktwit spouting off a bunch of invasive and uninvited psychosexual nonsense just blinds me with anger. Don’t you dare fucking tell me I could’ve found better ways to cope when those “other ways” would involve me drowning myself in drugs and pain all because you misapprehended Judith Butler in first year women’s studies. Like if I say I don’t want any motherfucking blueberries, that doesn’t mean I want you to keep giving me blueberry pie or blueberry tarts or blueberry salads until we find a format I might like, it means don’t. give. me. blueberries.

Fuck me I’m so done with TERF bullshit. I think after I get these projects up I’mma do a couple weeks of something else.

-Shiv

The Guardian’s anti-trans bias isn’t exactly subtle

Full disclosure: I have an axe to grind with any organization, publication or person that styles itself/themselves as progressive but consistently pushes anti-trans bullshit.

Check this out: Of the articles tagged “transgender” that allow commentators to participate, all five are about cisgender anxieties about trans people–transition regret, bathroom bills, housing in prisons, Sarah fucking Ditum, more bathroom segregation. This is an editorial choice, not an accident. There’s an editor out there fully cognizant of the fact that you can get 1,000x more clicks on a page that’s willing to call trans people “grotesque” than something thoughtful and evidence-based.

And I’m fucking sick of it. Look at the comments of this article. Moderating voice that tries to make the distinction between anxiety of sexed attributes and dissatisfaction with gender role? 4 likes. “Trans activist” conspiracy theory quoting the much-discussed-long-misapprehended 80% desistance myth? 107 likes.

Fact checking? 11 likes.

Trans cabal? 142 likes.

Fact checking? 20 likes.

Contradicting themselves in the same paragraph but hey it’s transphobic who cares? 80 likes.

Anecdote about “some people say”? 116 likes.

Smarten the fuck up, Guardian consumers. I’m so done with faux-progressives.

-Shiv

Journalist or Activist?

Borrowing from the tradition of anti-intellectualism, activist is now a snarl word in journalism, too. 

As a gender variant person who writes on gender variant issues, I am routinely accused of being “political” in my writings.* What I find utterly bizarre is that I label any contextualizations of my personal experiences as personal experiences. In the absence of that label, I stand by that work on the basis of its adherence to evidence.

I am utterly baffled as to how drawing upon sources to make statements supported by scientific consensus is now a “political” activity. Let me be perfectly clear: If evidence-based argument is “activism” rather than a strain of politics, then by definition your politics don’t include facts. This is ultimately what has alienated me from mainstream media, this strange and frankly broken idea that all opinions are equivalent, even when one is bullshit from start to finish and the other is well-researched. It has groomed an entire generation of self-appointed experts who quite frankly are amazing at wasting my fucking time.

Of course I’m hardly the first person to encounter this and I doubt I’ll be the last. Stephen Colbert (apparently) called this out back in the era of Bush Jr.–“reality has an anti-conservative bias”–but it’s quite another thing to actually experience it first hand. When it comes to gender variance, the bottom line is that enough people consider themselves equipped to participate in the conversation, spouting off shit that’s already been refuted forwards and backwards, or more commonly not bothering with citations at all.

My politics require facts. I will not be made to apologize for that.

-Shiv


 

*Even the, uh, political posts.

I’m starting to “get” Maryam Namazie’s difficulty

Back in 2011, Maryam Namazie, then a participant on FtB, wrote a report about the difficulty of addressing institutional misogyny in Islam without being swept up in xenophobic, reactionary politics from the far-right. Whereas Namazie’s many criticisms advocate for the limitation of Islam in government as an institution, the far-right sails straight past this distinction to then scapegoat Arabs and Middle Easterners as a whole.

And I finally got a taste of it myself following a #MyStealthyFreedom forum.

This forum was a discrete way for Iranians to send out pictures of what it was like being subject to the Revolutionary Court. It released videos of arrests performed by the so-called “morality” police, and also published the aftermath of public whippings for violating various fatwas. The hashtag refers to an act of subtle rebellion in Iran, taking pictures without one’s legally mandated hijab in public.

The founder of the campaign, Masih Alinejad, is obviously then pissed off at the United States for closing its border to Iran. And what is remarkable is that the same American commentators who claimed to support the struggle of Iranian women trying to escape the oppressive thumb of the Iranian Islamic Republic flipped on a dime to justify their xenophobia.

“It’s to keep out terrorists.”

This, on a page, about supporting individual liberty.

I don’t understand the extent moral relativism would have to infect your brain for this to be a logically consistent position.

You support the individual liberty of Iranian women to unveil without penalty from their government…

…but they should stay where they are because terrorists??

The patriot’s capacity for cognitive dissonance will never cease to amaze me.

-Shiv

 

Further thoughts on the pink pussycaps

My feed has been inundated with a conversation that splits along the usual fault lines between a feminism that hasn’t aged particularly well, and the flawed-but-sincere attempts to investigate the finer points of intersectionality and inclusive 3rd wave feminism. The flash point for this flame war was the Women’s March on Washington and specifically the pink pussycaps.

Consider much of the “you” to be a “Royal You.” I’m not necessarily accusing you, the reader, unless you identify the habits I describe in yourself.

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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

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.

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