Oh, the slightest criticism, obviously equivalent to being burned alive

You know whose breathless histrionics I haven’t enjoyed in a while? Jesse Singal’s.

I’ll share a little bit about Singal’s background here, because there’s a lot to unpack in Singal’s latest masterwank, “This is What a Modern Day Witch Hunt Looks Like” (a decidedly not burned cis white woman, apparently).

Back when Singal first started cluelessly meandering into trans issues, virtually every trans feminist academic I read approached him with kiddie gloves. Julia Serano gave an interview with him to help orient his slant on a Ken Zucker piece in relation to empirical evidence–he declined to use any of the information she provided. Same thing with Parker Molloy, who goes to great lengths to avoid calling Singal transphobic despite his omission of Molloy’s attempt to introduce the evidence to him. A blogger by the pseudonym of Cerberus has meticulously documented Singal’s foray into trans issues, and spends several years trying to patiently explain the sheer amount of denialism necessary to maintain the opinions Singal defends. Kelley Winters has tried to inform Singal (multiple times). Cristan Williams has tried to inform Singal. Zinnia Jones has tried to inform Singal. Casey Plett has tried to inform Singal. I’ve tried to inform Singal.

So I want to make it abundantly clear that Jesse Singal has had ample opportunity for respectful dialogue with trans feminists and gender psychiatrists, multiple offers of delicate hand-holding from advocates across multiple platforms of media, and dozens of attempts to offer clearer information for the purposes of his journalism.

It’s only under this context that I am now certain in saying Jesse Singal has exhausted any claim to good-faith argumentation. Singal is lying. More importantly, he knows he’s lying.

That brings us to Singal’s “witch hunt,” notably absent of any fires and show-trials constructed through Catch-22s and loaded misogyny. Rebecca Tuvel managed to get a dubiously sourced-and-argued article published in Hypatia comparing Rachel Dolezal’s bastardization of “transracialism” to gender variance (“transgenderism,” as the cis insist on calling it). Tuvel has, not without reason, taken some flack for it. Trans academics–you know, the people that actually study and live this stuff–still struggle to have our work taken seriously, especially in academic contexts, but hey, if you’re cis and have the right stamp on your certificate, you can coast straight through the uncritical editorial vision of (also cis) feminist editors. But Jesse Singal thinks our objections to Hypatia‘s publishing of Tuvel’s piece to be a witch hunt.

Cue my esteemed colleague, Crip Dyke, emphasis added by me:

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Four Signs Your Trans Healthcare Opinion is Cissexist Claptrap

At some point during my career of fact-checking the trans-antagonistic self indulgent wankery that passes for journalism these days, things started to blur together. I could play a game called “Who Said It: Transphobic Radical ‘Feminist’ or Catholic Priest?” when examining the statements and sometimes mix them up, their tangled logic and moralistic aggression seemingly borrowing from one another to the point of being difficult to tell apart. In this morass I began to notice a number of repeated rhetorical tricks frequently present in these anti-trans hit pieces, tricks which I’ve documented below. These rhetorical devices often obfuscate the increasingly-clear evidence to their hypothetical questions, which are themselves posed to give the impression of being unanswerable–so just go with your gut. You know, the gut that’s more willing to accept a conspiracy theory than some statistics.

And so, here we are, four red flags common in cissexist healthcare op-eds.

1. It positions “trans” and “healthy” as mutually exclusive.

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Science says…

The National Organization for Marriage decided, for reasons unfathomable to me, that YouTube comment sections are precisely the sort of thing that ought to be spray-painted onto the side of a hideous orange bus to be toured around the country in the name of Science! Gawd! Biological reality! Privacy! Safety! “free speech.” I’ve wanted to write about this for a while and honestly, the one thing I was stuck on is that NOM didn’t really… argue… anything.

Their messaging is ridiculously scattershot, the sort of rambling I’d expect from a freshman who accidentally wrote the same essay for four different classes while nibbling on marijuana brownies. It’s utter nonsense from start to finish, a manic conspiracy theory scribbled in crayon on the back of a diner napkin. So for a while I didn’t even know where to start, until I figured that my complete bafflement at whatever the fuck they were trying to say was a good way to lead as any.

Content Notice for seven degrees of transantagonistic eliminationist bullshit:

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Trans 101: Put Down the Map

One common theme you’ll see throughout the work of some trans feminists is a distinct reluctance or distaste for ever broaching the topic of “Trans 101.” Asher explicitly says as much in his “Not Your Mom’s Trans 101” (which is officially recommended by me) when he says “Trying to teach a new perspective to the victims of this extremely aggressive brainwashing can be daunting.” Cristan Williams, whose work is exemplary within The Discourse, makes no explicit sentiment in this vein–but her Trans 101 is also enormous, and the lack of brevity is itself a message that we resist quick and easy reductions.

This is in my estimate because “trans” isn’t a 100-level topic. Embedded in the culture in which we live are many assumptions which often muddy The Discourse, rendering productive conversation impossible, causing countless instances of two people talking past each other. This does not mean that my attempt will be overly complex, but it’s probably not something that could be captured in a Twitter hashtag.

To bring us to the task at hand, we must first acknowledge a few guiding principles:

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BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” p3: My old friend, eighty percent

This series on BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” is co-authored by HJ Hornbeck and Siobhan O’Leary. It attempts to fact-check and explore the documentary’s many claims concerning gender variant youth. You can follow the rest of the series here:

  1. Part One: You got Autism in my Gender Dysphoria!
  2. Part Two: Say it with me now…
  3. Part Three: My old friend, eighty percent
  4. Part Four: Dirty Sexy Brains

 

Eighty percent is tired. Eighty percent has had thrust upon its back the concern trolling of every clueless media pundit from Sarah Ditum to Jesse Singal. And the exterminationists, the “transsexuals will sort themselves out later” types, they too abuse my poor poor friend eighty percent. Eighty percent is the one and only quote the antagonists will reliably provide. Eighty percent is the crux of hundreds of thousands of very, very concerned words printed in very, very concerned columns.

Eighty percent is just exhausted, being expected to carry all this.

Eighty percent deserves a rest.

Recall from part two:

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When Transphobia Trumps Statistics

As a transgender Canadian, I’ve been hawkishly poring over the many debates on Bill C-16, a human rights bill that would add “public incitements of violence,” “willful promotion of hatred,” and “advocacy for genocide” as activities outside of “acceptable speech” concerning gender identity and expression. It would also add bias against a victim’s gender identity or expression as an aggravating circumstance for criminal sentencing. Any business under federal jurisdiction — including the postal service, telecommunications, banks, and airlines — that discriminates against an employee or hiree on the basis of their gender identity and expression would be penalized.

In short, Bill C-16 a good step for trans equality in Canada, strengthening our legal protections. And the data shows they’re much needed.

In 2011, the National Task Force for Transgender Equality published one of the most comprehensive reviews of discrimination against trans folk that finally paints our picture in detail. A brief snapshot: 90% of us experienced workplace harassment or discrimination. 26% of us lost our jobs and careers when we came out. 19% of us have been homeless, and another 29% have been turned away at homeless shelters specifically because of our identity. 19% of us had been refused service in health care, and 57% of us experienced some kind of significant family rejection. Those statistics were based on the responses from trans people of every race; it should be noted that every single outcome is worse if you’re also black and trans.

These are the facts, and though they are nothing new for trans people, they demonstrate that Bill C-16 is necessary to explicitly protect Canadian trans people who have largely been relegated to patchwork federal case law and legal gray areas until very recently.

When the results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) were released, I naively hoped these statistics would offer a chance for those who didn’t know them to get a big-picture view of some of our crises, amd that the NTDS would enter the conversation on public policy.

After all, legislators are passing policy for everyone, so they’d want the full picture, right?

Apparently not. The necessity of a human rights bill like C-16 ought to be self-evident given the outcomes of the trans community, simply because of the appalling frequency and degree of discrimination that trans Canadians continue to face — but you do need to be aware of that fact first for it to be obvious. The law has been passed in Parliament but awaits further voting in the Senate, and during these debates, the data is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

Read more on The Establishment.

BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” p2: Say it with me now…

This series on BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” is co-authored by HJ Hornbeck and Siobhan O’Leary. It attempts to fact-check and explore the documentary’s many claims concerning gender variant youth. You can follow the rest of the series here:

  1. Part One: You got Autism in my Gender Dysphoria!
  2. Part Two: Say it with me now…
  3. Part Three: My old friend, eighty percent
  4. Part Four: Dirty Sexy Brains

 


 

Say it with me now…

…Kenneth Zucker was not “fired by transgender activists.” He was fired after a review of his practice by his peers in psychiatry.

There are quite a few questionable claims within BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?” Perhaps the most glaring is who they decided could answer the hypothetical question posed in the title: Kenneth Zucker, whose public statements have the dubious distinction of being refutable by his own research; and Ray Blanchard, the father of a unfalsifiable transsexual taxonomy that characterized trans women as either self-hating gay men or as sexual fetishists.

Not to point too fine a point on it, but calling this balanced is a bit like calling in an arsonist to lecture about fire safety.

This documentary recycles numerous specious claims that I’ve discussed elsewhere in my work. This puts me in an awkward position, since the temptation is to simply say “start from June, and just read every single post I’ve done on trans issues.” Seriously–the documentary parses like someone began with Julia Serano’s guide of pitfalls to avoid in this conversation and then said, “yeah, let’s do all 8 of that.”

For instance, the narrator at one point asserts that gender affirmative healthcare models have been advanced by “transgender activists.”1 While not false by any stretch of the imagination, the documentary also attributes to transgender activists Ken Zucker’s firing2, the unseating of Zucker’s aversion methodology3, “unnecessary meddling” with children4, and reinforcing gender stereotypes5. It completely fails to mention the academic criticism involved in all these points, a persistent theme throughout the work.

It’s a wonder how us activists get anything done, with how busy we are meddling with families, getting doctors fired, their methods discredited, and somehow bearing sole responsibility for reinforcing cultural gendered stereotypes despite being outnumbered by cisgender people 500:1. Make no mistake–the documentary is repeatedly poisoning the well when it mentions “transgender activists”–no attribution made to us is ever complimentary. And it also makes sure that anyone who supports gender affirmation is understood by an unknowing audience to be inherently anti-science, even though the model is supported by evidence, and even though many activists know the science and many scientists do at least some activism to propagate it.

Compare the above claims made by the documentary to my previous response to Jesse Singal’s well-paid concern trolling. Quoting Singal, I previously wrote:

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Sarah Ditum: More smoke screens and white noise in service to transphobia

While it’s likely going to take me an enormous amount of page space and several weeks to form a full, detailed critique of BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best”*, I thought that there was nonetheless enough information within Sarah Ditum’s article “Transgender Kids: why doctors are right to be cautious about childhood transition” to respond to. This is because she admits that she hasn’t yet seen the documentary. Neither have I, which at least allows us to respond in specifics without consulting it altogether.

Knowing how much is going to be dusted up in this documentary, no doubt peddled by well meaning but ignorant cis folk, the trans feminists you know and love on the internet are likely going to have to work overtime to overcome the sheer injection of misinformation we can anticipate from trans-antagonistic feminists.

Ditum, in brief, says absolutely nothing new, and nearly nothing correct.

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Stop with the psychosexual nonsense

I make it well known that I seldom have the patience to dialogue with the most hardened and dedicated advocates for the cluster of trans-antagonistic positions derived from the sort of radical feminism that makes other radical feminists grimace. There are many reasons why, but today I wanted to expand on one of them specifically, exhibited in this dialogue from Skepto that I signal boosted yesterday. Note that my response cannot be generalized as a response to all arguments suspicious or antagonistic of trans people and our rights; it could only be transferred to any other argument premised similarly.

Content Notice, again, for virulent trans-antagonism, the kind that triggers so much adrenaline you have to do a lap around the neighbourhood not to explode. Additional content notice as I cover the history of abuses perpetrated by medical systems against trans folk.

In the dialogue, the TERF in question advances the following claim:

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Dear Sarah Ditum: Scapegoating trans women is never the answer, either

I’m gettin’ real tired of tedious “gender critical” horseshit.

The latest flapping firehose to hit my feed on this topic is Sarah Ditum in a grating piece titled “Scapegoating feminists is never the answer.” Although Ditum links to a specific piece she is responding to–which is more than I can say of PBog–she also interjects a number of assertions important to her argument without citations, leaving me to guess at whatever the fuck she’s referring to.

Because if there’s anything a convincing argument should do, folks, it’s leave you guessing.

Content Notice for the usual trans-antagonistic garbage plus t-word reclamation.

The piece Ditum responds to isn’t a particularly strong argument either, “Trans respect, not transphobia.” And if I’m cheesed off at Ditum for the stunning lack of citations, I have to at least level the same criticism at this author, Emily Brothers. It is, in short, a post appealing to UK’s Labour Party to take up the mantle of Gender & Sexual minority rights as a portion of its labour empowerment mission. But today’s post isn’t really about the inadequacies of Brothers’ appeal to Labour*, it’s about Ditum’s hamfisted response to it.

Ditum begins:

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