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 wants your kids on a short, short leash

(Background: Alberta, eh?)

Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney, my all time best friend and favourite politician, is back in the news again after having responded to a survey proposed by my other all time best friends and favourite lobbyists, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE). After admitting he was pro-theft–as long as Christians are the ones doing the stealing–Kenney went to PCE to talk about his support for some of the most egregious weaknesses in Alberta’s education system.

Among his answers and accompanying commentary, Mr. Kenney indicated:

  • He supports allowing different approaches to curriculum in publicly funded schools, as well as different approaches to school clubs. He indicated the strongest level of agreement, 1.
  • Parental approval should be required for any instruction related to sex education, sexuality and gender identity, and parents should be allowed to pull their children out. 2.
  • Parental consent should be mandatory for a child’s participation in all extra-curricular activities, including student organizations and clubs. 2.
  • Parental permission should be required for children to attend any event involving an outside facilitator or program. 2.
  • All materials and resources used by students in instruction or extra curricular activities should be made available to parents. 2.
  • Taxpayers should provide “equitable” funding for independent, religious, charter and alternative schools, plus all forms of home schooling. 1.
  • Alberta should reintroduce and strengthen standardized testing for Grades 3, 6 and 9 and continue such tests in Grade 12. 1.

Of course, in this context, references to school clubs mean the gay-straight alliances required under Alberta law passed by the province’s last PC Government under premier Jim Prentice. Pastor Brian Coldwell, chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society that has openly defied the legislation at two schools it runs in the Edmonton area, sits on the board of Parents for Choice.

Yes, it has long been a thorn in my side that our province has allowed bigots to tailor-fit which aspects of reality will be taught to their children. It’s not like we’re the country’s STI capital or anything OH WAIT YES WE ARE.

Despite the fact that the single strongest predictor for anti-queer prejudice is a lack of exposure and education, Alberta’s education system has had an opt-out system for sex ed. So, you know, there’s a slough of parents pulling their kids from fact-based sex ed–which is soon to include mentions of homosexuality–and giving their kids what they want to teach instead.

Sure, I suppose it’s possible some parents are still giving their kids a comprehensive “talk,” but, you know, STI capital. Chances are, most kids being pulled from class are being fed incomplete bullshit or outright lies. But hey, compromising the health and education of our citizens is worth it, as long as we do it in the name of the Bible. Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney for Premier 2019!

-Shiv

 

All the reasons I won’t ever have a FB Page or Twitter

I’ve had a few people ask me whether I plan on opening a Twitter or Facebook page. The short answer is no, but I thought I’d provide the long answer.

1. Both platforms facilitate abuse, especially of minorities

Twitter is almost unmoderated. I think its well documented tolerance of abuse is thoroughly proven.

Facebook moderation actually goes a step farther and allows abusers to make bad faith reports, resulting in such absurd outcomes as a trans artist being banned for quoting the abuse directed at in her inbox while the people sending the abuse are left active.

Given that my fans include Jihadists, TERFs (sorry, “gender critical” dingleberries), fundagelicals, MRAsshats, libertarians, capitalists, and a smattering of transphobes from across all ideologies, I have every reason to believe increasing my access on social media would simply result in a torrent of abuse and major headaches as I try to clean up after automated moderation.

2. Neither serves a function I care for

Twitter’s 140 character limit abhors me, because it is next to impossible to have anything other than snarky quips. Don’t get me wrong, I love snark. But I can just snark here, where I am able to moderate comments, and couch it in actual arguments.

Again, I have little reason to start conversations on Facebook when I can just start them here.

3. People use either tool to share my posts anyway

Self explanatory. Sometimes people like my shit enough to post it on social media. Yeah I’d get shares faster if I posted directly to Facebook. But then there’s the whole “access to abuse” thing again. I’m okay building exposure slowly if it means not having to filter nattering TERFs all the time.

4. Trolls are annoying

On here, you have to sign up. Then your first comment has to be approved, and my bullshit detector is pretty good. Then if you get obnoxious, or if you ping my trolldar, all that effort you spent signing up is wasted when I ban you.

On Twitter and Facebook, a troll has their account open already. With more editorial control, the website itself is a bottleneck for abusers.

5. The rest of the network is my editorial control

Facebook and Twitter can pull the plug on my content. But their editorial control is based on generating traffic, rather than convincing arguments or anything resembling an ethical compass. FTB is based off a mission statement, which makes me more confident my material wouldn’t be arbitrarily challenged.

6. I have a contact email anyway

If someone wants to engage in a way that wouldn’t work in the comments, they can just email me instead. Again, gmail allows me to filter bad faith actors. But for now it is predominantly used by readers giving reasonable feedback, as well as my back-and-forth with other outlets as I try to sell some investigative work I’m sitting on.

So, yeah, that’s why I won’t be on other forms of social media.

-Shiv

 

Rosie DiManno: Anti-trans garbage chute

I wish I got paid as much as anti-trans pundits to discredit them as they get paid to invent shit to get outraged over. Sadly it seems Canada’s corporate media has identified that anti-trans sentiment sells better, and those of us who insist on high standards of evidence are relegated to “alternative media.”

The next hit piece to grace my feed is Rosie DiManno’s fabulously victim blaming article, “End of binary gender proves to be a passport confusion.” Insert usual disclaimer for all your predictable anti-trans codswallop.

Earlier this month, Tracy Ayre took her 16-year-old son to renew his passport at the Toronto office. She brought with her his birth certificate, health card with photo, student ID card, bank statement, expired passport and her obviously boy teenager.

I have to interrupt this story already as there is an important detail here. “She brought with her his birth certificate.” According to Service Ontario, the administration responsible for government ID, the birth certificate contains: (emphasis mine)

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Thoughts on the ethics of disclosure and gender identity

Brynn Tannehill penned a piece for lgbtqnation on the ethics of disclosure for trans folk in dating, as in whether or not it meets some criteria of right or wrong to disclose (or not disclose) our status as transgender or our “gender history.” For the most part I agree with her arguments, and wanted to offer some additional thoughts.

By far the most predictable piece of white noise injected into the discourse is the claim of a cis person asserting they couldn’t date a trans person or find us attractive. The problem is… well, yes you could.

To clarify, there isn’t any consistent way to spot a trans person, because there isn’t any variance in our bodily characteristics that cisgender people don’t also have. Some women have hair loss. Some men have breasts. Some women are tall. Some men are short. The belief that trans people as a demographic can be identified upon sight is predicated in the belief that there is a certain way to “look trans.” This is how trans people have been using the washroom with you long before trans panic gained traction in 2014. Most of you never knew most of us were ever there, so we minded our business and left the loo like everyone else.

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“Act female”

I’m kinda tired of being the flashpoint for this particular revelation but prescriptive codes of behaviour based on gender norms suck. To put it bluntly, they suck a lot.

Just last week, a transgender man in Louisiana won his discrimination complaint against his employer through arbitration. Tristan Broussard involuntarily resigned from the financial services company he worked for when he was intolerably forced to “act and dress only as a female.” He was awarded more than a year’s salary as well as additional damages for emotional distress.

Okay, so there’s a lot being tangled up in gender codes. For starters, there’s no distinction made between gender identity, gender expression, and gender role. This would clarify a great deal of where these employers are going wrong–and why, thankfully, judges are ruling on an interpretation of Title VII that indicates “sex stereotyping” as a form of sex-based discrimination.

For my part, I look forward to any and all attempts to elucidate whatever the flaming fuck “act female” means. Mostly because it demonstrates that the very principle of gender differentiated codes is inherently sexist and impossible to rationalize without falling back on unsubstantiated claims about the nature of gender. It’s like getting someone to explain a rape joke–they’ll figure it out, what a flaming turd they’ve stepped on, usually. Because here’s the critical thing, dear readers: The liberty of your gender expression is at stake too.

Even without taking into account gender identity and trans employees, employers are pushing to create a precedent where it is legal to dictate an acceptable range of gender expression that they can impose on you based on your assigned sex. That means even if you’re cis, the employer’s success in the courts would indicate that the same imposition will affect you. This exists to some degree already, but employers are narrowing that range ever further, ensuring “proper womanhood” looks a certain way (I anticipate makeup, long hair, pencil skirts, regardless of whether or not you want them).

If experience has taught me nothing else, it’s that nothing will get the support of cis people on trans issues faster than pointing out how it affects cis people. (Yes, that’s my bitter cynic talking). But it’s true. Even if courts side with the employers (and reading the above article seems to indicate they aren’t), there’s a decent chance an issue like this could gain mainstream support and see much bigger protests than if it were marketed as a “trans issue.”

Transmisogyny is just a more specific manifestation of misogyny. Just tell the next cis person that when they dismiss these discrimination cases–the rulings will affect them too.

-Shiv

Peter Boghossian: “Critical thinking” apparently means “pretend this field of study doesn’t exist”

Hands up:  Who thought atheism needed another arrogant atheist douchebro who cloaks himself in rationality and then proceeds in a spit-flecked rant rife with fallacious reasoning to tell us we are irrational about stuff?

Peter Boghossian raves about “Gender studies professors” who “are pumping out complete bullshit” in Areo Magazine, producing something resembling less of an argument and more of a rancid onion. And for some fucking reason, I’m feeling masochistic enough to peel back the layers of entitled manbaby whinging. Tears to ensue.

One would think that an example of critical thinking would explicitly identify the premises of a presented argument, compare peer-reviewed literature to see whether the premises are accurate, and use formal logic to determine if the conclusion is sound. But Boghossian’s rant is devoid of any particular specifics–aside from quoting one of Jordan Peterson’s critics–and on top of that he has the gall to represent himself as some kind of model freethinker. The problem is that the sort of freethought that lacks any resemblance to reality is the sort of “freethought” we’d expect to see from mushroom-tripping hippies reacting to psychedelic phantoms rather than what’s in front of them.

Compare, for instance, how Boghossian opens up his interview with some pontificating on critical thinking:

Malhar Mali: What in your opinion is the best way of fostering critical thinking when it comes to religious and supernatural beliefs?

Peter Boghossian: I think the whole way we’ve taught critical thinking is wrong from day one. We’ve taught, “Formulate your beliefs on the basis of evidence.” But the problem with that is people already believe they’ve formulated their beliefs on evidence — that’s why they believe what they believe. Instead, what we should focus on is teaching people to seek out and identify defeaters.

What is a defeater? A defeater is:

IF A, THEN B, UNLESS C.

All of which is sound epistemology…

Then, minutes later, Boghossian expels this adorable piece of absolute claptrap:

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The Advocate, milquetoast liberals, and wearing many hats

Content Notice: Racism, white supremacist apology, minimization, gaslighting, general clueless white assholery

When we last saw Apologist-for-White-Supremacy Amanda Kerri, she was attempting to delicately explain “economic anxiety” coming from the United States’ least troubled demographic within the working class. Now it seems Kerri is joining what will soon be a tradition of milquetoast liberals falling in line to give jackbooted authoritarianism a chance.

I try to ration my criticisms of other trans women carefully. Belonging to a badly-maligned group often makes visible activists a lightning rod for bad faith criticism, but nonetheless there’s only so much bullshit I can take before I switch from “maybe you just had limited opportunities in education because of prejudice” to “okay, you’re an asshole.”

Kerri begins:

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The significance of political misogynistic violence on the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre

27 years ago, a shooter entered a Montreal STEM school lecture hall with a loaded gun and held a class at gunpoint. He ordered the class to divide itself into men and women. They didn’t comply until he shot the ceiling.

Once separated, he turned his gun on the women. 14 women were murdered and another 20 injured before the shooter would turn the gun on himself. We would dub this the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre.

As with all atrocities, promises were made to never forget–certainly many Canadian feminists, myself included, observe the day of mourning. Yet it would seem that many in Alberta’s political landscape have a selective memory indeed, given that mere days ago an entire crowd worked itself into a frenzy to speak of our female Premier, “Lock her up!

It certainly puts Alberta’s conservative leadership in an awkward position. Their previous big tent success has always worked only with the cooperation of their snarling, reactionary dickhead vote, in which virulent misogynists have had their home for decades. Now they are tasked with keeping this vote whilst condemning violence spun in the same cloth that occurred on this day, 27 years ago.

Of course this isn’t the first time Brian Jean, leader of Alberta’s right-wing Wildrose Party, has had to contain this feral portion of the conservative voting bloc. He has gone on record to condemn them multiple times, yet they don’t seem particularly convinced by his ineffectual bleating. Maybe it’s because he’ll turn around in 3 months to start courting their vote again, but only before issuing another disingenuous apology about how wrong violence against women is. You’re not fooling your drooling bloodhounds, Jean, and neither are you fooling me.

How fundamentally perverse it is that the authoritarian jackboots can make their proclamations that the Premier ought to be jailed, simply because they dislike her, mere days before an occasion which reminds us all of the cost of patriarchal entitlement. If that’s a “joke,” you’ll have to explain it to me.

-Shiv

Rebel Media spokespuppet throws shoes at Legislature

I’m only laughing to numb the pain. Content Notice: Homophobia.

Despite claiming he’s not a lobbyist, Neal Hancock–perhaps better known by his character “Bernard the Roughneck”–sure collects a lot of money from oil lobbyists to talk about oil. The Quebecois theatre student and political science graduate would have you believe he’s the voice of Alberta’s average joe. Because, you know, the hotbed of ill-advised Western separatism is just teeming in abundance with French Canadian drama and political science?

Of course, no reality-denying quackery is complete without the chronically libelous Rebel Media. In a rally where “the Roughneck” went on record to suggest foreign agents should hack the NDP databases (man, where have I heard that one before), the average joe spokesman decided the best way to make his political statement about the NDP’s carbon tax was to throw his shoes at the Legislature. Seconds later after Hancock’s impassioned (and possibly treasonous) speech, Ezra “Not a Journalist” Levant said without the slightest hint of irony to the frothy-mouthed crowd:

As Hancock wandered away from the podium to retrieve his shoes, Levant reminded the crowd to “obey the law,” adding that “our side does, but the other side does not.”

Yes, because the man found guilty of libel is the sort of reliable law-abiding figure whose even-handed judgement you can trust. Like bringing in an arsonist to lecture you about safety.

Oh look, more libel!

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