Johns Hopkins faculty disavow Paul McHugh’s homophobic and transphobic report

Paul McHugh is at least partially responsible for this odious missive titled “Executive Summary on Sexuality and Gender.” The summary in question was picked up by a number of reactionary lobby groups in short order, adding to McHugh’s long history of being one of the selective citations used when attempting to justify homophobia/transphobia as scientific.

What will no doubt be denied by those same reactionary groups is that the faculty at John Hopkins are aware of the report, and in fact they have published what might be missed as a withering condemnation of it:

Science, and particularly the fields of psychiatry and psychology, has made major advances in our understanding of the complex issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. For instance, accumulating data support the concept that gender identity is not strictly a binary phenomenon. And scientific evidence clearly documents that sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same and/or different sexes are normal variations of the diversity of human sexuality.

That is why the recent report, released by one current and one former member of our faculty on the topic of LGBTQ health, is so troubling. The report, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological and Psychological and Social Sciences,” was not published in the scientific literature, where it would have been subject to rigorous peer review prior to publication. It purports to detail the science of this area, but it falls short of being a comprehensive review.

We wish to make clear that there are many people at Hopkins who hold a profound and long-standing commitment to the health, wellness, well-being, and fair and non-stigmatizing treatment of LGBTQ people and communities. We do not believe that the “Sexuality and Gender” report cited above is a comprehensive portrayal of the current science, and we respectfully disassociate ourselves from its findings.

“We respectfully disassociate ourselves from its findings” is academic-speak, a sort of scathing disagreement, the equivalent of coming upon one’s car and finding the tires have been slashed by your nemesis.

Because reactionary lobbies are well known for their creative work (/extreme sarcasm), we ought to be surprised to see this exact scenario has already played out. Parents for Choice in Education, a reactionary lobby group advocating for the continued special snowflake status of Catholic schooling in Alberta, propped up two doctors from the University of Alberta to grant some kind of scientific credence for their prejudice. The U of A, having caught wind of this, immediately disavowed the two doctors in question. Yet, much like the reactionary groups propping up McHugh, PCE is suspiciously silent on how it continues to justify supporting doctors who have been told by their employer that their opinions are “inadequate,” which–again–is academic-speak for “fucking ridiculous.”

Perhaps that might suggest that scientific accuracy is not, in fact, their main priority?


Drinking from the well of poisoned waters

This popped into my head while reading a ThinkProgress post on Michigan’s trans affirmation policy. My idea is a bit dramatic, and click-baity, and campy, and I love it nonetheless. While reading a comment we will discuss in a moment, it came to me in some kind of mock interview where I’m asked what it’s like to be a trans feminist, and I reply:

“It’s like drinking from the well of poisoned waters, only everybody’s throwing different poison in.”

What I’m getting at is that the opposition to much of my work exhibits unconscionable degrees of rhetorical nastiness–rhetorical used in the Aristotelian sense of “persuasive.” Note that persuasive does not mean correct, and certainly attacking gender variance in a society that considers the very concept to be perverse or dangerous is something of a low hanging fruit. Even without the rhetorical guttersniping we’re about to examine, it would be a difficult prospect to be the opponent in this scenario.

I present Exhibit A by a “Penny White,” a wonderful demonstration of the multi-faceted and fractal wrongness that informs some of the more virulent strains of transphobia. So I’ll put a hypothesis to the test over the next few months: Refuting transphobic statements takes a 15:1 word ratio.

Content notice, transphobic nastiness:

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Facebook: Calls for genocide = ok, Calls for autonomy = terrorism

In a shocking double standard that will leave you reeling, Facebook has apparently agreed to let the Israeli Minister–who explicitly calls for the genocide of Palestine on Facebook–to dictate to Facebook which Palestinian pages were “controversial” and had to be removed.

In a controversial move, the Israeli government and Facebook reportedly agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on social media, aimed primarily at Palestinians.

Not long after Facebook’s agreement, several Palestinian pages with millions of readers found themselves closed and administrators locked out, in a move believed to be directly connected to the agreement between Facebook and the Israeli government.

By last Friday, however, Palestinian journalists and activists said they had had enough and announced a temporary boycott of Facebook, protesting what they call the company’s complicity in Israeli censorship and putting up an upside down Facebook sign as their profile photo.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is the main figure behind the controversy. Earlier this month, she boasted that the social network had been overwhelmingly happy to comply with Israeli demands. 

“Over the past four months, Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook” and Facebook had accepted 95 percent of those cases, said Shaked, who is best known outside Israel for herinfamous comments against a Palestinian state. It is believed that over the years, Facebook and Twitter have deleted thousands of posts, pages and accounts in response to demands from the Israeli ministry of justice.

Facebook claims the pages were removed in error and has restored them, however the agreement with the Israeli government remains, leaving the possibility that even peaceful calls for autonomy could be censored* as they are characterized as destabilizing.

I am baffled as to how anyone can continue to support Israeli occupation. They’re worse than American cops. They’ve been caught on film framing victims. I’ve heard the word “apartheid” used and the more evidence comes out of Israel the increasingly apparent that is the case. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the actions of a government, and certainly not anti-Semitic to even post photographs or videos catching Israeli troops acting in bad faith.

I mean, “Facebook sells out” is hardly newsworthy at this point, seriously. Genocidal minister = free speech. Calls for autonomy = terrorists? We should all recognise the potential for our governments to strike such similar agreements with Facebook–if they don’t have them already.

Don’t let the calls for Palestinian peace and independence be conflated with terrorism.



*Because the “recommendations” for removal are from the Israeli government, it is in fact censorship.

Health Canada dun good

Ask any expert in public health what the medical consensus is on treating addiction, and the term “harm reduction” is bound to come up at some point. Some substances have fatal or otherwise extremely harmful withdrawal effects, so you have to ween off them; others, injected drugs in particular, can be flashpoints for HIV contraction, so harm reduction can involve needle exchanges to move addicts away from HIV risks. Historically, Conservatives oppose these measures, characterizing them as enabling addiction. In reality, those public health officials whose concern is to end the addiction problem understand that many addicts would simply die under a “tough love” policy, which is not the sort of solution that passes any reasonable ethical criteria. So when Health Canada announced that it would provide prescription heroin to recovering addicts who have already built a resistance to methodone, the Conservative response was–as usual–contrary to all evidence that this is the solution for heavy addicts.

Of course, not all Canadians believe that treating addiction with heroin is a move in the right direction. Ambrose told in 2013 that giving addicts heroin is “not to treat an underlying medical condition, but simply to allow them to continue to have access to heroin for their addiction even though other safe treatments for heroin addiction, such as methadone, are available.”

According to Oviedo-Joekes, “methadone doesn’t work all the time for everybody. Methadone works very well as a first-line treatment.” Addiction, “like any other illness,” may require second-line or even third-line treatments.
Prescribing heroin to severe addicts who don’t respond to other treatments may not cure them of their habit, according to Oviedo-Joekes and her colleagues, but it can lessen their exposure to life-threatening health risks, such as drug overdoses, blood-borne viral infections and endocarditis, an inflammation of the chambers of the heart. Studies indicate thatprescription heroin reduces illicit drug use and so decreases criminal activity and health care costs, so the greater societal toll is lessened.

That last bit there is one of the reasons I would think Conservatives–who claim to be tough on crime–would support this measure. Gangs often use drug dealing as an income stream, and nothing undermines their market quite like government grade drugs, which users can be confident aren’t laced with something unexpected.

Then again, Conservatives rarely care about the things they claim to care about unless they’re talking about taxes, so.


Signal boosting: All Trump supporters are White Supremacists

Ijeoma Oluo nails it when it comes to the problems of Trump’s presidency campaign. People have been giving Trump supporters wiggle room for them to say, “well, I’m not the bad guy, so I can continue supporting Trump!”

Oluo points out that no, supporting a White Supremacist means that you are, at best, indifferent to White Supremacy, which means you fail at ethics: (emphasis mine)

Now some of you may be asking, as you have on Facebook and Twitter: “Ijeoma, are you really willing to call half of the U.S. population White Supremacists?” And to that my answer is hell yes. This may seem like a bold statement to some, but honestly, I can’t see why.

Human beings can quite easily fall in line with violent hatred and oppression; any quick glance through world history will show that to be true. Do you think that the Nazis came to power against the will of the German electorate, or with the support of the German people? Do you think that slavery was upheld purely by the few rich enough to own slaves, or by an entire society that even erected armies to defend it? And no, none of this can be excused away as “a product of the times”—humans are not like wine grapes; we do not have a few “bad years” that we can blame on the soil. If you recognize that these horrific systems of abuse, oppression, and even genocide were upheld by everyday people, then you have to acknowledge that everyday people are capable of some pretty heinous shit. You can be in the PTA and you can pay your taxes and you can volunteer at your local homeless shelter and at the same time you can be actively upholding the oppression of others. It has been done before and it is being done now.

I’d like to draw your attention to the last bit I quoted there. You can look at someone like Hitler and point out that he kissed his wife on the cheek and painted nice things and drank his tea with his pinky finger sticking out and probably cuddled with his dog. We need to dispel this notion of “Bad Guys” altogether, because it allows us to put distance between accountability and our ideas. If we support Trump, we support White Supremacy. That isn’t cancelled out by running a cat rescue or housing an estranged member of the family. You can be concerned with the welfare of certain people whilst being a White Supremacist.

History has shown us that those principled enough to accept the consequences of defiance in the face of a violent authoritarian regime are in the minority. Most of us will kowtow to violence. Most of us can be convinced to uphold a war machine. After all, every great crime against humanity was carried out and supported by the average Joe. If we understand there is a tremendous capacity for violence in all of us, we are better equipped to see the world not as Good vs. Evil–which is exactly the simplistic narrative authoritarians want you to believe–but instead to see the world as a collection of largely mutually exclusive ideas, with different goals and different degrees of effectiveness.

That’s why I’m not interested in the biography of any given White Supremacist. I don’t care about the individual. I care about the idea, and what it represents.


Ashley Mardell makes accurate observations on Youtube Anti-Feminists

Stop me if you’ve never heard this before: an obscure feminist youtuber catches the attention of an sooper logikkkal atheist douchebro with millions of subscribers, makes a video “disagreeing” with her, and then they have a meaningful conversation that leaves the audience with a number of important follow up questions to research.

Or–wait, no. Video after video of vapid reasoning and screaming at the camera.

Or–WAIT. Ashley’s questioning their gender. Rape and death threats to the nth degree, because the only thing worse than a woman is an enby.

Ashley Mardell and Riley Dennis recount their experiences of being LGBTQ feminists on a medium known for its vicious and incoherent cishet atheist douchebros. In particular, they observe how their process of questioning their genders and how neither of them has come to the conclusion they sit on the binary seems to induce a particularly unique rage. The trolls mention the banners of freeze peach and sooper logikkkal as their rallying cries… despite their best efforts to censor free speech by shouting down anyone who disagrees with them, and also using arguments that have been refuted time and time again. Although it’s worth noting that they’re trying to “argue” about questioning one’s gender, which is not a debate anyone but the questioner should be engaging in.

Ashley & Riley also point out that the pattern of “angry video -> mentioning YouTuber by name -> said YouTuber’s channel flooded with hate” has repeated hundreds of times, and there’s no way the douchebros making these videos aren’t aware of what, exactly, will happen when they paint a target on someone. Their fans are entitled and angry, and never at any point do their tell their fanbase to back the fuck off.

Ashley–in the unlikely event you ever read this–I’m sorry this happens to you, and to anyone. For what it’s worth, I think the aforementioned douchebro’s ideas are in the same league as, say, dysentery outbreaks. I also think they’ve been complicit in so many harassment campaigns that at this point they ought to be charged with something, but police trend towards useless.


Cuttlefishian Ode to Trump

The media will dance
give credence to both sides
But one of them’s got nothing
just air and empty minds

He’ll send the tanks, bomb the bad guys,
use a stick to beat a bush
She’ll catch pneumonia, miss an email,
add some weight on her tush

Trump cares, you see,
about the issues of import
Just sign here, dotted line,
to pledge away support

Don’t read the fine print,
that text will send you reeling
Don’t name him deplorable,
or you’ll hurt his fucking feelings

It was 1932,
When we hoped the Reich was wise,
Let’s hope the world don’t burn
because of witless white guys


I’m no expert poet like Cuttlefish, nonetheless I feel compelled to make light of Literal Hitler because comprehending the possibility of being his neighbour sends me into the cusp of a catatonic state.

Source: Adam Ellis Comics

Source: Adam Ellis Comics


Transition Reactions p10: Rag-rets

Standard disclaimer: This is my mostly anecdotal of my experience transitioning and should not be understood to be some kind of monolithic representation of gender variance as a whole.

Today’s topic is definitely one of the bigger areas where I set strong and clear boundaries: This is always–ALWAYS–turned into a football for TERFs and religious reactionaries to pass back and forth in a bid to justify inserting themselves between trans folk and our doctors. This conversation very definitely isn’t about you, cis folk, so don’t make it about you.

I speak of one of the most loaded landmines in the entire discourse of gender variance, no matter the disciplinary approach: Regrets related to transitioning. If I’ve called numerous trans-antagonistic lobbies dishonest before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Expert bloodsucking party talks bloodsucking

The Dickweeds Wildrose returns with a vengeance! Not content to go longer than a few days without saying something asinine, the Wildrose are seriously proposing that Canadian Blood Services ought to pay Canadians for blood. See if you can spot the irony:

Accusing Ms. Hoffman of “hypocrisy” and of wanting to “get in the way” of improvements to the system for ideological reasons, Mr. Barnes claimed “paid plasma is every bit as safe” as blood products donated by volunteers, and that paying for blood is a “safe, common, widely endorsed and crucially essential practice.”


The Wildrose push seems to be in response to intensive lobbying by Canadian Plasma Resources, a Saskatoon-based for-profit company.

Canadian Plasma Resources is now buying plasma from donors in Saskatoon for $25 a pop – paid with a gift card or a charitable donation to get around rules prohibiting cash payments for blood products. The company became controversial in Ontario in 2014 after its plans to profit highly off of plasma collection there became known.

“Ideology,” eh? Is that what we’re calling your wallet, now?

Yes, obviously the solution to poverty is to attach strings, like their blood, to hand-ups. That’s the crux of pay-for-blood policies. Nobody well off ought to be convinced by a $25 incentive, so the main people who would use this “opportunity” would be people struggling to make ends meet. Oh–unless you’re gay or trans, in which case, cooties. So instead of advocating for a functioning social safety net to actually take care of welfare problems, you want to coerce poor folks into giving blood for a bit of extra grocery money.

Priorities. The Wildrose have them.

PS. By the way, I’d happily donate, but you know, Spontaneous Cooties Syndrome.


Self care Saturday, Sep 24: Electrorave classical…?

Last weekend I attended a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday party and to my surprise, it ended up being a house full of Queers. Third wave intersectional feminist Queers. Needless to say, my usual problem of not having any talk small enough for “small talk” was not a problem! I had an animated chat about BDSM, the Leather community, abuse & control, the whisper network dilemma for lesbians, and… not liking club music.

That last chat was with our DJ. At one point she asked me what kind of music I was into and I answered truthfully, “nothing like this [club music], I usually listen to classical.” She gave me a look that I understand to mean “challenge accepted,” and she put on this, and then remixed it live:

I had mentioned my preference mostly off hand, and found it very suave of her to put something on that she thought I’d enjoy. As it turns out, I do enjoy it, and now have a bizarre electrorave classical genre to dive into thanks to her.

And now, so do you!