Transition Reactions p11: Facts don’t care about your feelings

It cannot be understated that the sheer volume of ignorance about gender variance weighs down on me. I see the same shit repeating itself over and over. It is not the ignorance that is the problem, at least not by itself–but the belief that knowledge is somehow unnecessary to form an opinion on something, which is likely the sole contributor to my blood pressure problems. That is a belief which should be nuked from orbit, because if people actually practiced it, we wouldn’t have cis people passing shitty laws about trans people based off of knee-jerk “eww cooties” reactions or an entire lobby calling itself pro-“life” despite advocating for policies that continually endanger women.

i pun gud

i pun gud

As today’s Transition Reactions is about facts, I will not be including the usual disclaimer about anecdotes and personal experience.

So let’s dismantle one of the more irritating bludgeons used against trans women: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”

Facts exist regardless of how we feel about them–that is true, unless you’re a solipsist. The problem is the people employing this deepity seldom understand the establishment of what makes a fact to begin with.

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Defending the indefensible

You’ve probably heard by now that a number of beaches in France have banned the burkini. Far from a rational response, these policies are absurd, sexist, racist, immoral and entirely indefensible. And yet, I see many arguments even from so-called free thinking people defending this policy.

Excuse #1: The French have been victims of a string of terrorist attacks and are scared

This might be a reasonable explanation for how the owners of these beaches thought this was a great idea, but it does not actually excuse the policy. A random Muslim on the street is no more culpable for the Nice or Paris attacks than I am for the routine Planned Parenthood terrorist attacks carried out by self righteous white Christians. It is racist to presume that every brown-skinned person is complicit in the attack because they are not, AT THIS EXACT SECOND, protesting or otherwise condemning the violence. That is a backward and perverted idea of justice.

They’re people. They have errands to run and chores to do. Even though every mosque goes on record to condemn a terrorist attack the moment it happens, this is not enough. Brown people who are on their way to the grocery store? They’re complicit in the violence! Taking time to do housekeeping or paying the bills? Tacit approval! Engaging in self care–including trips to the beach? That’s practically an endorsement! Arrest! Deport! Publicly humiliate!

You wouldn’t try to argue I’m complicit in poverty because I don’t donate 100% of my earnings to shelters. You shouldn’t try to argue that because Muslims may have spoons invested elsewhere they agree with terrorists, particularly when they do adhere to your ridiculous demands and condemn the attacks anyway. Neither Muslims nor brown people should have to prove their humanity to you.

Fuck off. Fear does not justify irrationality, it causes it. Have some fucking perspective. After all, many of the victims at Nice were Muslims.

I have a question. What does the burkini ban actually solve? Are you intercepting finances directed towards ISIS? Disarming dangerous people?

Oh, here’s a good one, Excuse #2. “Liberating women.”

Excuse #2: We’re liberating women.

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Trump Youth: Totally not Hitler Youth

The founder of Trump Youth decided to take a page out of Mein Kampf and start a youth movement in a radical proposal to “remove the parasites from America.”

I’m literally not making this up.

A website for the group encourages young voters to “[e]mbrace your destiny and become a part of the greatest battle the world has ever seen.”

“We Millennials are destined for greatness; no longer will we sit idle and watch everything our forefathers built be turned to dust,” the website says. “Our world is hurting, and it is up to us, the Youth, to become the Hero Generation and to save the world.”

Writing on his personal website earlier this year, Liardi said that he did not understand the “truth” about Adolf Hitler until he read Mein Kampf.

“I began to seek out the history without the propaganda– I wanted to understand the mind of the supposed most evil man in history,” he wrote. “So I studied the events leading up to the war, the german Weimar Republic, WWI and the climate of Europe in the early 20th century. And yes, I read Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’.”

Incidentally, I also studied the events leading up to the Third Reich. My term paper on WW2 was returned with a giant checkmark on it, which when pressed for an actual letter grade, my prof said it meant “A+.” Somehow I walked away from that project without coming to the conclusion that fascism is a sustainable or practical solution for… well, literally anything. I won’t bother with the ample material of ethical and moral considerations of fascism, because anyone persuaded by Mein Kampf is already an ethically bankrupt egotist that isn’t likely to be satisfied by any arguments that appeal to altruism or the slightest sense of empathy.

NSA, I know you’re reading this: This motherfucker and every other motherfucker who joins him better be on a list.

-Shiv

Transphobes inoculated against facts

If any of you want a demonstration of willful ignorance, check out this article on transgender athletes:

But plenty of other prominent athletic leagues have instituted policies for allowing transgender athletes to compete with others have the same gender, including the NCAA and the Olympics. Both simply require that athletes have undergone at least one year of hormone replacement therapy. That’s because it’s the hormones that matter, and research has shown that trans athletes lose any competitive advantage they might have had after hormones begin to make changes to their bodies, such as to their muscle mass. A recent studyspecifically confirmed this result in transgender runners.

The author of the piece helpfully points out a number of factors that challenge the exclusion of trans folk in competing in gender segregated sports.

  1. Literally any physical attribute which contributes to fitness in sports can be possessed by both AFABs or AMABs–cited in the article is the example of a 6’7″ AFAB cis woman competing in basketball having an edge over her competitors, just as any other 6’7″ competitor would;
  2. The more malleable facets of fitness, like muscle mass/tone, are governed by sex hormones–in this respect, trans and cis athletes are nearly identical (trans women in fact have lower testosterone than cis women);
  3. Bio sex is a blurry concept when you look closely under the microscope, and setting precedents for policing trans bodies will inevitably bleed into policing uncommon phenotypes in cis bodies–even if the sex hormones are still in the typical range otherwise.

All of these have citations in the author’s article. You can fact-check the claims.

Despite this, transphobic commentators make the exact same arguments that were just refuted in the article.

How do you get through to someone like this? I can’t even.

“I can prove gravity is an attractive force by dropping this pencil. See? It falls to the Earth.”

“No it doesn’t! It clearly just floated into the sky!”

Sure makes you rethink that painfully stubborn “activists against science” trope, no? Who, exactly, is denying science here?

-Shiv

The misuse of the word authoritarian

Siggy touches on his post about Atheism 101 the simultaneous utility and flaw of definition use. The problem of definition is one of those epistemological headaches that wakes me in the middle of the night with a cold sweat. “If you replaced all the parts of a boat, is it still the same boat?!?!” I scream into the stars. My partner, roused from her slumber, cocks her eyebrow from the pillow, mumbling into the fabric “Who cares?”

Credible dictionaries choose to be descriptivist–which is to say, they simply describe the way words are used. Contrast prescriptivist, which claims “this is the way a word is supposed to be used.” Ultimately a language puritan will lose in their argument but for the simple fact that once a phrase catches on, people will continue to use it, and your dictionary will rapidly be out of touch if you don’t keep up. The utility in providing a definition is to aide communication, ensuring everyone knows what we’re supposedly talking about if I suggest we debate garbledina. Misunderstanding of what definition of garbledina we’re using in a debate is typically how an argument goes south.

Following descriptivist logic, I don’t actually mean to argue the way most people use the word “authoritarian” is wrong. Rather I have found another way the word is used in a book that technically wasn’t recommended to me by Marcus Ranum, but I ended up devouring it from start to finish anyway. It’s called The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer. That link is a free PDF hosted by the author himself. I at least recommend reading the first few pages–you might get sucked in, in part because the book was written in the noughties but practically describes Trump’s rise to popularity even though it didn’t happen for another 10 years.

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