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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A familiar story

I have asked at multiple points in my time here on FTB whether those taking various anti-trans positions have bothered to read the material they claim to be criticizing. The answer, at this point, is most often “no,” but sadly ignorant cisgender editors of otherwise respectable media outlets continue to publish these dog awful jokes.

So how do they get away with it? Zinnia Jones explores that. Her answer–“through denialism.

This exercise, of searching outward from a given state of the world in order to map the many tendrils of its implications, can be a very efficient way of detecting errors, distortions, or outright nonsense. If you have an idea, does that idea imply anything about reality, or concretely connect to the world in any way? At which points does it come in contact with reality? Does it make testable predictions? Can it be disproven, and what would disprove it? What elements of the world changing would affect the validity of this idea?

The facts of the world generally don’t support transphobic arguments, and transphobes don’t really have the option of making robust arguments based on an honest assessment of the current state of our knowledge. They know this – they make use of this same technique of pondering counterfactuals. The difference is that they work backwards to fabricate an entirely new counter-reality, tailored to support their positions and vast enough that it can substitute for reality itself in a person’s mind. It’s called denialism: an entire ideological support system made to preserve a desired belief by rejecting the overwhelming evidence that would threaten this belief.

Denialism is wrongness with an infrastructure – ignorance with an armored shell, a whole fake world weaponized against the real world. Denialism can be observed in the various forms of “scientific” creationism, where facts of evolutionary biology and earth science contradicting certain readings of the Bible are targeted for incompetent rebuttal by non-experts working for various conservative Christian “institutes” of “creation research”, which is not a real field. It can be seen in climate change denialism, where the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming is discarded in favor of fringe nitpicking, oversimplified misunderstandings of the science, and so very many conspiracy theories.

Some forms of transphobia have grown so well-organized that they, too, now constitute an instance of denialism. Diethelm and McKee (2009) describe five core themes of the phenomenon of denialism:

Jones outlines the following themes of denialism, and just to help support her point, I’ll link to some of the works I’ve examined to corroborate them.

  1. Allegations of conspiracy are used as grounds to dismiss a well-established and consistent body of science.
  2. Fake experts are presented to lend apparent authority to denialist claims.
  3. Denialists will be extremely selective when it comes to the evidence and facts that they accept as valid.
  4. Standards for scientific findings are shifted in order to be practically impossible to meet.
  5. Shoddy arguments, fallacies, and deliberate misrepresentations are deployed to mislead the public.

As Jones concludes, if the factual arguments for transphobia existed, transphobes would just use them. Instead a heavy reliance on lies fiction gets them where they want to be.

-Shiv

Signal boosting: The Transgender Threat to Free Speech is a Lie

KC Clements lays out one of the attempted rebrandings of anti-trans political strategy, one that has even hoodwinked many liberals–the notion that “””trans activists””” (all the scare quotes) are enemies of free speech.

It’s bullshit too, even if more people fall for it.

Citizen GO is a conservative Christian mirror of sites like Change.org. The organization, which seeks to politically activate primarily young folks and college students on the right, appears to have co-opted their tactics from progressive social justice movements. For example, Citizen GO emphasizes its adherence to “rationality” and “biology” as opposed to “ideological dogmas,” defining itself as a small grassroots collective, and developing its base through social media, petitions, and hashtags. In short, despite being rooted in the promotion of a privileged positionality — namely cisgender heterosexuality — Citizen GO likes to fancy itself the underdog, the oppressed.

This support of free speech is how Citizen GO justifies its intolerant views. Actions of protesters who came out against the bus and were, for the most part, acting well within their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and protest, are described by Citizen GO as violent, intolerant bullies. Painting themselves as the victim, Citizen GO writes, “All we ask for is respect for our views and the opportunity to voice them in accordance with the First Amendment.”

The campaign plays on the public’s tendency to fear the other, and it has done so by overstating the power and the scope of said other. Citizen GO understands the insistence on rights for trans people as “gender ideology dogma,” a tactic which fails to consider the cultural context in which the White House is actively stripping away our protections (including, yesterday, making a move to do away with a trans-inclusive health-care rule). When trans people are seen not as victims of violence and discrimination, but as violent radical ideologues and bullies who pose a threat to the right to free speech, people who harbor transphobic beliefs feel even more empowered to cling to them.

Read more here.

-Shiv

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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Parent’s perspective on BBC’s “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?”

The United Kingdom’s exports of trans-antagonism is a mystery as-of-yet unexplained to me, but I know it’s a lot of fact-free nonsense. If the stakes weren’t so damn high, I would be bemused. I’m working on yet another piece on BBC’s trainwreck documentary–a word cloud that illustrates the not-so-subtle prejudice in which the work was formed (hint: if the words “happy” and “trans” are only mentioned as mutually exclusive outcomes, your work is cis supremacist as fuck). But in the mean time, I thought y’all might appreciate a parent of a trans kid’s perspective on the entire pseudollectual ordeal. (emphasis original)

I am horrified with the segment on the distinction of men’s and women’s brains. No-one is genuinely claiming that transgender girls have a girl’s brain filled with kittens and roses as totally distinct from a boy’s brain filled with trucks and beer. The phrase ‘girl’s brain in a boy’s body’ is a colloquial shorthand that some transgender people have used to explain that they feel their identity is an innate part of themselves and not a choice or a whim. No-one means this literally. And the brain is one of the least understood parts of the body, there is a lot we still don’t know. Claiming that transgender advocate are perpetuating old fashioned gender stereotypes and propagating restrictive gender boxes is utter nonsense – I tell my transgender daughter that she can play with any toys she likes, I have no time for minimising her potential through old fashioned sexist stereotypes.

This parent knows their history, that’s for damn sure! Kudos.

The show presented Zucker and Blanchard as experts – it did not explain how widely discredited their work and their approaches are. When it did highlight criticism, it presented it as criticism from ‘transgender advocates’, not including the criticism from respected academics who criticise the quality and robustness of their research and their conclusions.

Yep, I noticed that too!

Who exactly is a ‘transgender advocate’ was never explained – it was presented as the fearsome, mysterious group, so powerful and threatening (if this lobby is so very strangely powerful, why are transgender people’s rights so regularly trampled on in life and in the media?).

Louder for the people in the back please.

Read more here.

-Shiv

The Guardian’s readership continues to depress me

“Sisterhood” discourse is deader-than-dead, yet The Guardian‘s readership clings to it like a fucking life raft.

On the topic of cis and trans women “having differences.”

To say we are the same is ridiculous.

Paging all cis people. I repeat: paging all cis people.

Nobody is making this argument.

 

Will somebody help me tell The Guardian’s readers to smarten the fuck up already? I mean, kudos for keeping straw farmers in business, I guess, but this shit is getting tiresome.

-Shiv

Glenn T. Stanton didn’t read That Fucking Swedish Study either

It’s back! I said I was serious when I said I could predict which doctors transantagonists would quote (or in the case of Cecilia Dhejne, misquote).

Me on November 14th, 2016: Five years later and they still haven’t read That Fucking Swedish Study.

Error #1: The study found that gender affirmation increased/didn’t reduce rates of suicide, therefore gender affirmation is ineffective/harmful.

The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8–4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8–62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9–8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0–3.9).

“For controls of the same birth sex” ought to be printed on a giant neon billboard, as that unfathomably important comparison is lost in this error.

In other words, this only supports that trans people, even if they access gender affirmative care, are a higher risk of suicide than cisgender controls. Indeed, the study itself points out that it is not a comparison between trans folk who have and haven’t received affirmation care:

It is therefore important to note that the current study is only informative with respect to transsexual persons health after sex reassignment; no inferences can be drawn as to the effectiveness of sex reassignment as a treatment for transsexualism. In other words, the results should not be interpreted such as sex reassignment per se increases morbidity and mortality. Things might have been even worse without sex reassignment. As an analogy, similar studies have found increased somatic morbidity, suicide rate, and overall mortality for patients treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This is important information, but it does not follow that mood stabilizing treatment or antipsychotic treatment is the culprit.

IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE STUDY. AND PEOPLE STILL THINK THIS STUDY SUPPORTS THEIR CONCLUSION THAT GENDER AFFIRMATION IS HARMFUL OR INEFFECTIVE. A;RKEHAEKTH;ALJET;LJ

That’s it. There isn’t some elaborate maze to guide you through, a slog of logical fallacies to hack apart as if their argument were the untamed wilds of an inner Brazilian jungle. They. Literally. Didn’t. Finish. Reading. The. Paper.

Glenn T. Stanton on April 4th, 2017:

A 2011 Swedish study, a long-term follow-up of men and women who underwent gender reassignment surgery, indicates that cutting bodies and administering hormonal treatments are not as ameliorative as many think.

Me on March 11th, 2017:

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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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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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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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