FYI, Jaclyn Glenn Still Sucks

So it’s been a year since the Jaclyn Glenn Plagiarism Scandal where we found out everyone’s favorite YouTube Atheist literally doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said before by millions of other atheists. She, of course, apologized, and promised she was no longer “out for blood.”  So that means if you go to Jaclyn’s YouTube page, you’ll see better videos, right?

To quote Donald Trump, “Wrong!”

A few days ago Jaclyn made a video with Arielle Scarcella basically saying that there are only two genders, and that all non-binary identified people are just making up new words. Needless to say, people hated it, including Onision, who called out Jaclyn and Arielle for being two cis women talking over trans people’s experiences. Even though Onision is an asshole himself, he made some great points. While Arielle later apologized for her ignorance, Jaclyn got defensive and did the whole “You can’t call me transphobic because I have trans friends” bullshit.

That’s not how this works, Jaclyn. That’s now how any of this works!

I already wrote a blog post criticizing Shoe0nHead’s shitty “There are only two genders” video, so I don’t want to rehash everything I said. However, I will point out that most gender therapists recognize non-binary gender identities. Nicholas M. Teich does in his 2012 book Transgender 101. So do The Transgender Institute (through which I am currently seeing a gender therapist) and British gender therapist Christina Richards. In fact, earlier this year the International Review of Psychiatry published a peer-reviewed articles co-written by Richards that gives mental health professionals a quick rundown on what it means to be genderqueer. Here’s the money quote:

The DSM-5 … includes the diagnosis of gender dysphoria which explicitly recognizes that having a different gender is not a disorder (APA, 2013b) and crucially includes the criteria:

4. A strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender from one’s assigned gender)

5. A strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender from one’s assigned gender)

6. A strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender from one’s assigned gender). (APA, 2013 p. 452.)

Thus non-binary genders are recognized with the APA’s diagnostic taxonomy also.

You hear that, Jaclyn? The fucking APA!

It’s been said that every skeptic has they’re own blind spot, and I guess Jaclyn’s is her insistence that if you say any social justice buzzword, you’re automatically a stupid Tumblr Feminazi SJW. The sad part is I’ve met a lot of people like that. All’s not lost, though. I have a trans friend who is highly critical of the whole non-binary thing, but I sent her the link to the International Review of Psychiatry article, and she promised to read it, so if there’s a chance she can change her mind, maybe Jaclyn can as well.

Of course she is a YouTube Atheist, so who knows?

The Biskeptical Podcast #11: Mental Health Woo

On today’s episode, Morgan and I take a break from the train wreck that is the presidential election and talk about mental health woo. Are psychiatric meds poison? Will a walk through the woods cure everything that ails you? Where did all this mental health denial bullshit come from? Take a listen to find out.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #11: Mental Health Woo” on Spreaker.

****************************************************

biskeptical (1)

Subscribe via iTunes

Subscribe via Spreaker

Subscribe via Stitcher

Bi Any Means Podcast #71: From Pastor’s Kid to Bi Poly Atheist with Rachel Best

My guest for today is my Facebook friend Rachel Best. She’s a pastor’s kid who is now an out bisexual polyamorous atheist, so today’s episode is going to be about her journey. This week’s episode is a bit like Everyone’s Agnostic, where I basically just ask her questions about her journey. Hopefully Cass Midgley doesn’t sue me for copyright infringement because I want to do more episodes like this.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #71: From Pastor’s Kid to Bi Poly Atheist with Rachel Best” on Spreaker.

****************************************************

travpod2

Zoltron Sees Sadness: How Mr. Frowney Perfectly Sums Up My Depression

mrfrowny

CN: Mental illness, Suicide Ideation, Self-Injury

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that one of my all-time favorite TV shows is Steven Universe. For a cartoon, it has a lot of deep issues: abusive relationships, queer relationships, jealousy, regret, trauma, and, in a more recent episode, depression.

In “Future Boy Zoltron,” the local arcade owner Mr. Smiley buys a fortune telling machine called Zoltron (a nod to the classic fortune telling machine Zoltar). Unfortunately, Steven breaks it, so Mr. Smiley makes Steven put on silver make up and pretend to be Zotron to pay for a new machine. At first it’s all fun, until a sad British man asks Steven/Zoltron, “Will talking to him ever make any difference?” Steven tries to help him out, but even after borrowing some of Garnet’s future vision, nothing helps. Finally the man says, “I guess the curtain really did close on Mr. Smiley and Mr. Frowney. Nobody misses our act, not even him.” As soon as Mr. Frowney leaves, Steven tells Mr. Smiley that he just say Mr. Frowney. Mr. Smiley explains that he and Mr. Frowney used to perform stand-up comedy together. Mr. Smiley eventually catches up with Mr. Frowney and tells Mr. Frowney he wanted their act to work, but Mr. Frowney was just sad all the time. But just when Mr. Frowney is about to leave, Mr. Smiley goes into their own routine:

Smiley: “You having a bad day, Frowney?”

Frowney: “Horrible.”

Smiley: “Well, why don’t you go outside? The sun always cheers me up.”

Frowney: “I did, but it rained.”

Smiley: “Why don’t you use an umbrella?”

Frowney: “I did, but it blew away.”

Smiley: “Ooh, you must have been shocked.”

Frowney: “Yeah, that’s when the lightning hit me. Smiley, what do you do when you’re feeling down?”

Smiley: “[grabs Mr. Frowney] I just take my frown, [turns him upside down] and turn it around.”

And that’s when Mr. Smiley laughs because he finally got the joke.

***

When I’m having a bad depression spell, I am Mr. Frowney. No one and nothing can cheer me up. I end up isolating myself from everyone for days, not returning any texts or emails from anyone. I feel like everything I touch turns to shit like King Midas gone horribly wrong. I cut myself to make some sort of penance to a god I don’t believe in. I obsessively look at Kurt Cobian’s death scene photos over and over again, and imagine following in his footsteps.

But then right when all seems hopeless, some glimmer of hope shines through. It’s usually something small, but it’s enough for me to keep living.

***

This is the part where I’m supposed to wrap things up with a nice little encouraging message, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been in total Mr. Frowney mode lately. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to take my frown and turn it around.

Bi Any Means Podcast #70: The Abortion Debate with Kristine Kruszelnicki and Lauren Nelson

eddievedderprochoice

Today’s episode is another split interview. This time it’s a debate about abortion. On the pro-life side, I have Kristine Kruszelnicki from ProLifeHumanists.org, and on the pro-choice side I have Lauren Nelson from RethinkTheRant.com and Friendly Atheist. First I’ll play a seven-minute interview I did with Kristine at Women in Secularism 4 a few weeks ago, and then Lauren will come on to offer her rebuttal.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #70: The Abortion Debate with Kristine Kruszelnicki and Lauren Nelson” on Spreaker.

****************************************************

travpod2

The Biskeptical Podcast #10: Grab ‘em by the Rape Culture

TW: Rape

Today on the show, Morgan and I discuss the Trump tape fiasco, how this will affect his chance of being president, and how this is another example of rape culture. We also discuss an old article that claims flu shots are harmful, and why this article is a crock of shit. As an added bonus, Donald Trump himself stops by the podcast to personally apologize for his comments.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #10: Grab ‘em by the Rape Culture” on Spreaker.

****************************************************

biskeptical (1)

Subscribe via iTunes

Subscribe via Spreaker

Subscribe via Stitcher

Bi Any Means Podcast #69: A Better Life with Chris Johnson

chrisjohnson

My guest for today is Chris Johnson. He is a freelance photographer and author of the book “A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy and Meaning in a World without God,” which was later made into the documentary “A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy and Meaning in a World without God.” He received his undergraduate degree in film production (along with a minor in religious studies) from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His photography has been seen in various outlets, including The New York Times. Today we’re going to talk about his work and how one can find joy and meaning without God.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #69: A Better Life with Chris Johnson” on Spreaker.

****************************************************

travpod2

Queer Visibility is a Double-Edged Sword: Brief Thoughts on National Coming Out Day

logo_ncod_lg

CN: Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry

In case you haven’t noticed (i.e. you’ve been away from social media all day), to day is National Coming Out Day, a time for LGBTQ folks to be out and proud. According to the Human Rights Campaign, National Coming Out Day began 28 years ago “as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out.” Every year on this date, most of my LGBTQ friends share their coming out stories and celebrate how liberating it is to be true to themselves.

Unfortunately, not all of my LGBTQ friends celebrate this day. One friend has to keep their bisexuality hush-hush around their spouse’s family. Another friend is a nonbinary atheist teenager who still has to attend Catholic school. Another friend recently contacted me on Facebook telling me how scared she is of coming out as a trans woman. It’s no wonder some of my more radical-leaning queer friends say, “Fuck National Coming Out Day!”

Queer visibility is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the more straight and cis people get to know LGBTQ people, the more they realize we’re, y’know, people. We’re not monsters. We’re not aliens. We’re human beings who have the same worth and dignity as everyone else, and we deserve equal protection under the law.

On the other hand, the bigots see this growing acceptance of LGBTQ people, and they’re scared. They know their old dogmatic ways are dying out, so they fight back. They fight to prevent us from using the bathrooms that aligned with our genders. They fight to prevent us from marrying our lovers. They fight to prevent us from being employed. And when they’re not fighting us on Capital Hill, they’re fighting us in the streets. Even in 2016, LGBTQ people are more likely to be hate crime victims than any other marginalized group (especially if you’re a trans woman of color).

This is why, whenever someone asks me if they should come out, I always ask them if coming out means they’ll end up either homeless or unemployed. While I want all LGBTQ people to be out and open, I don’t want blood on my hands if another queer kid ends up homeless because I told them they have to come out.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimistic, but I think things are getting better. Four years ago when I told my gay uncle that I was bisexual, he told me I live in a much more open and accepting world than he did. My uncle came out in the ’70s at the height of the Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children campaign, which killed his dream of being a teacher. While it’s true I came out during a more tolerant time than my uncle did, the fight isn’t over yet.

So here’s a shout out to everyone living out and proud, everyone still forced to stay in the closet, and everyone fighting to fix that.

Is Genderqueer Made Up?: A Response to Shoe0nHead

CN: Transphobia, Dysphoria

To be a good skeptic, you have to listen to what the other side has to say just in case they know something you don’t. So I decided to put on my big kid britches and watch Shoe0nHead‘s “How Many Genders??” video.

While she brought up some good points, overall the video was your typical “Goddamn SJWs” crap.

Most of the video cuts back and forth between a video of three nonbinary people talking about their experiences and Shoe basically saying, “You’re stupid! You’re all just trans-trenders! You think being trans is a fad!” Half-way through the video, anti-feminist anti-Black Lives Matter libertarian Blaire White shows up to explain that trans women’s brain patterns are different than cis men’s, and that nonbinary gender identities were “made up” by academics. The video ends with Shoe creating a false future scenario where kids who come out as straight and cis will go to electroshock therapy like gay kids did in the ’40s. Yes, you read that right!

So now that I’ve summarized the video so you don’t have to watch it, here the points I want to make:

It’s true that, according to various studies, there is a link between different brain patterns and gender identity. It’s true that gender dysphoria is a medical condition recognized by the DSM. It’s true that there are no scientific studies about the origins of nonbinary gender identities. (Believe me, I looked.) However, that’s because there haven’t been any studies on nonbinary people. The subjects of the previously mentioned studies have been binary trans people and cis people. So what we have so far isn’t proof that nonbinary genders don’t exist; scientists just haven’t studied them yet.

Now I know some of you may say, “How is that any different from people who say you can’t disprove God?” Well, unlike God, I can prove I exist, first of all. On a serious note, though, there’s enough scientific data that, if one uses deductive reasoning, can lead one to conclude that there are no gods. We don’t have enough scientific data yet to deduct that nonbinary genders don’t exist.

When it comes to White’s claim that academia “made up” nonbinary genders, that’s not entirely true. Cultural anthropologists have studied various examples of “cogender” in many cultures for years. According to Wikipedia:

In Chile, among the Mapuche in La Araucanía, in addition to heterosexual female “machi” shamanesses, there are homosexual male “machi weye” shamans, who wear female clothing.[2] These machi weye were first described in Spanish in a chronicle of 1673 A.D.[3] Among the Mapuche, “the spirits are interested in machi’s gendered discourses and performances, not in the sex under the machi’s clothes.”[4] In attracting the filew (possessing-spirit), “Both male and female machi become spiritual brides who seduce and call their filew — at once husband and master — to possess their heads … . … The ritual transvestism of male machi … draws attention to the relational gender categories of spirit husband and machi wife as a couple (kurewen).”[5] (In ISKCON—the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness—male premin-devotees are likewise regarded as quasi-female “wives” of the god Kṛṣṇa.) As concerning “co-gendered identities”[6] of “machi as co-gender specialists”,[7] it has been speculated that “female berdaches” may have formerly existed among the Mapuche.[8]

One of the most well-known examples of cogender is the Native American concept of Two-Spirit. Here’s how Sandra Laframboise and Michael Anhorn describe it:

Our Elders tell us of people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits, that of male and female. It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honoured and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the care givers (Roscoe 1988). They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies. This is our guiding force as well as our source of strength. This is the heart of Two-Spirited People of the 1st Nations (2 Spirit Nation of Ontario) This paper explores what we know of the past of two-spirit people, compares that to the present experience and looks forward to the role that two-spirit people could play in the future of First Nation’s people in Canada and across North America.

 

So contrary to popular belief, Tumblr did not “invent” nonbinary genders.

The third point I want to make is the idea that some nonbinary people do undergo medical transition. According to gender therapist Dara Hoffman-Fox, the 2011 edition of the Standards of Care for the Health of Transexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People states that genderqueer, gender-fluid, and other nonbinary identified people are allowed to medically transition if they need to. Many doctors and surgeons still need a letter from a gender therapist before undergoing medical transition, of course, but medical transition is still an option for nonbinary people.

In fact, if I may get personal for a moment, I’m currently thinking about seeing a gender therapist. I’ve been having a lot of intense emotions lately involving my gender. The other day at work I had this overwhelming feeling that I’m really a girl. It wasn’t the first time I had that feeling, although I don’t feel like that all the time. All I know that the more I express myself femininely, the more comfortable I feel in my own skin. But like I said, this is something I’ll have to discuss with a gender therapist.

As for now, though, let’s use some inductive reasoning to draw some sort of conclusion. First, even though there are no scientific studies on nonbinary gender identities, there are studies that prove there is a neurological basis for gender identity. Second, the concept of gender fluidity has been a part of many cultures throughout history. Third, trans health organizations do say nonbinary people can and should seek medical transitioning if they need it. So my conclusion at this point is that nonbinary gender identity is, in fact, a thing. Of course I could be biased since I’m nonbinary, and there’s always a possibility that I’m wrong. But until new evidence shows up, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

(BTW, if  you’re wondering why I’m not blogging about the Trump tape, that’ll be for this week’s episode of The Biskeptical Podcast. The saltiness shall flow!)

Bi Any Means Podcast #68: Voting as an Atheist II with Ron Millar and Dan Arel

Today I have two guests. The first Ron Millar, the PAC coordinator for the Freethought Equality Fund. According to his bio, “He researches and interviews political candidates and elected officials for possible endorsement by the FEF PAC. Ron has spent more than thirty years in the Washington DC area working for nonprofit education and advocacy groups, including serving as the associate director of the Secular Coalition for America from 2005 to 2009. Earning a PhD from Virginia Tech, his dissertation explored organizational learning among groups litigating church-state cases before the Supreme Court.” The second is Dan Arel, author of the new book “The Secular Activist.” Dan is a freelance columnist for AlterNet and The Huffington Post. His work has also appeared in TIME Magazine, Salon, OnFaith, American Atheist Magazine and other print and digital publications around the world. Today we’re going to talk about why atheists and secularists should care about the upcoming election.

****************************************************

travpod2