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 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.


Signal boosting: About that Heineken ad

My opinion on The Heineken Ad couldn’t really fill out a full article on my own–my biggest complaint is how self-styled progressives were happy to accept the premise that merely being trans or black constituted an ideological position or opinion.

Which, to be frank, is bullshit. Heineken put the abusers and the abused in the same room and told them to build a table, and fucking liberals are coming out of the woodwork to pat the bigots on the back for acting like a human being while the cameras were running.

What the fuck do they think is happening when there aren’t any cameras around?

This is the danger of the feel-good “let’s just talk to each other” approach. It’s just a more cuddly version of that horrible bothsidesism that equates being called a racist with actual racism as reasons for hurt and anger. Both sides are not the same. The transphobe who agrees to have a beer with the trans woman is sacrificing nothing. She, on the other hand, is giving up a certain amount of dignity by breaking bread with someone who thinks she shouldn’t have the right to exist. She’s risking her mental and physical safety, volunteering for the hard emotional labor of arguing for her right to be a person. And with ads like this, that labor is being demanded of her with no consideration of how much it may cost. Worse, it’s heavily implied that if she were to walk away, it would make her just as intolerant as the bigot who views her with disgust.

Not all viewpoints are equal. Not all olive branches are earned. And it is not in the service of justice to demand emotional labor of marginalized people while praising bigots for doing the bare minimum to act like humans on a single occasion.

I know if I tried to have a beer with my critics some of them would just as soon crack me over the head with the bottle.

This commercial is the worst type of propaganda. It tricks you into thinking social problems can be resolved if only people tolerate their oppression just a LITTLE while longer. It pushes the idea that bigotry, sexism, and transphobia are just differences of opinion that are up for debate, and deserving of civil discourse and equal consideration. And it makes folks think that four minute commercials are a viable way to address societal ills that corporations have no interest in fixing.

If we could stop equating “being a minority” with “ideology,” that’d be great.


Signal boosting: “The Disappearing Trial” is documenting a 300% increase in the use of plea-bargaining across the world, suggesting that the United States’ practice of over-charging suspects for intimidation followed up by a “bargain” that looks good in comparison is spreading.

What is the Problem?

The trial is the archetype of criminal justice: just think of the dominance of court-room drama in film, TV and literature. But, in reality, the trial is starting to disappear. People are increasingly being incentivised to simply plead guilty and to waive their right to a trial.

The use of trial waiver systems like plea bargaining, abbreviated trials and cooperating witness procedures have increased about 300% since 1990. It’s also happening in more places than ever before. Of the 90 countries studied by Fair Trials and Freshfields, 66 now have these kinds of formal “trial waiver” systems in place. In 1990, the number was just 19.

We are not opposed to this in principle but these out-of-court mechanisms can impact fair trial rights and the criminal justice system more widely in serious ways, including:

  • Innocent people can be persuaded to plead guilty: an estimated 20,000 innocent people are in US prisons alone, after taking a deal.
  • Easier convictions can encourage over-criminalisation and drive harsher sentences.
  • Inequality of arms and a lack of transparency where “deals” are done by prosecutors behind closed doors.
  • Public trust in justice can be undermined.

fairtrials suggests ways to mitigate the troubling disadvantages of plea-bargaining here. Their position, in summary, is that the concept is potentially defensible but needs safeguards.

…But that’s often the case with institutional power, isn’t it. I’m not 100% sold (my experience is that “the safeguards” need safeguards), but I thought y’all might like to check out their findings anyway.


Nah mate, that’s definitely a fence

According to the press secretary, Trump’s budget provides over $300 million to replace 40 miles of “border fencing.”

“Just one question about the photos,” Spiering interrupted. “Are those photos of fences or walls.”

Spicer insisted that his photos were of walls, even though he referred to them as fences earlier.

“There are various types of walls that can be built under the legislation that was just passed,” he opined.

“That is a fence,” Spiering said.

“That is called a levee wall,” Spicer replied.

“It’s not the wall the president promised,” CNN correspondent Jim Acosta observed.

“Hold on, Jim, we’re going to take turns,” Spicer said.

“So you’re basically just telling the president’s supporters to be satisfied with this existing tough-guy fencing thing until he’s ready to build the wall?” Spiering asked.

“No!” Spicer exclaimed. “What I’m telling anybody is that the president said he’s going to build a wall and he’s doing it. And he’s using the best technology.”

Tough-guy fencing thing.” New band name?


Kevin “unions are literal hell” O’Leary drops out of race

Union-busting Kevin O’Leary, former leadership hopeful for Canada’s Conservative party, dropped out of the race last week.

He was a latecomer when he officially jumped in to the race in January, joining an already crowded field of candidates, some of them eager to discredit the reality TV celebrity.

Even before he registered, rival Lisa Raitt, a former cabinet minister under Stephen Harper, lambasted O’Leary in a news conference, warning his Donald Trump-style tactics would divide the Conservative Party and ruin any chance of its return to power.

“If principled and pragmatic Conservatives don’t join together, we will see our party hijacked by the loudest voice in the room,” she warned.

(Somebody might want to warn Raitt that “principled Conservative” is an oxymoron.)

He also faced character attacks from outside the party, including a broadside by his former Dragon’s Den co-host Arlene Dickinson, who accused him of a “total lack of empathy” for Canadians who put their heart and soul on the line.

“Kevin is funny. I often enjoyed a glass of wine with him. He’s also intelligent and a savvy self-promoter,” she wrote in an opinion column for CBC News. “But at his core, he’s an opportunist. He doesn’t do anything that doesn’t offer a path to power, fame or fortune — and that should have us all afraid.”

The O’Leary campaign attracted much media attention, in part for gaffes along the way.

He faced an angry backlash for posting a video of himself shooting a handgun and other automatic weapons on his social media accounts on the same afternoon a public funeral service was underway for three of the six victims of the Quebec City mosque attack.

The posts were quickly pulled and his spokesperson apologized for the mistake, but damage was done. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called it “obviously crass, insensitive and exceedingly dumb.”

He faced more accusations of not being a serious contender when he took time off the campaign to peddle his own wines on an American home shopping channel.

Man, that sounds familiar.

O’Leary left the race Wednesday with a frank admission that he was bowing out and throwing his support behind former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier. He said it would be foolish, even selfish, to pursue the leadership knowing he does not have the path or probability of winning the next federal election.

Of course, Bernier, the new Conservative favourite, is still a total shitheel.

But at least one of our mini-Trumps is out. Still a few more to go though.


“I can’t go two paragraphs without contradicting myself”

But apparently that’s the sole qualification for writing at LifeSiteNews.

Hey, you know what we haven’t done in a while? Tuned in to some bonafide Catholic hysterics occurring in the Province of Alberta. Behold the beauty that is LifeSiteNews’ totally unbiased coverage (or don’t, you might want to save your brain cells).

EDMONTON, Alberta, April 18, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Christian political action group and a parents group are responding to the controversy over a pro-life group comparing the Holocaust to abortion by accusing the New Democratic government of promoting unscientific and dangerous gender ideology.

Basically: Steve Weatherbe, the intrepid reporter on this scoop, is freely and literally admitting that the only thing Conservatives can do when presented with criticism is change the topic rather than defend their actions.

Off to a good start.

[Read more…]

You Were a Trainwreck Before Estrogen

An addendum to Rae Rosenberg’s “You Were a Misogynist Before Testosterone


Trans communities often have something that resembles religion in my estimate–hormones. On the topic of testosterone and its masculinizing effects, Rosenberg criticized a This American Life episode featuring a trans man who justified his sexual objectification of women by citing testosterone as his excuse. Rosenberg notes (and rightly so) that misogyny is a learned behaviour and that there was no basis to connect a biochemical molecule to social norms about expressing sexual attraction.

As much as I would like to think otherwise, there’s no reason a trans person will be any better educated on the notions of biological essentialism or the Euro-colonial gender binary, so it follows that you will also find among trans women a range of anti-feminist or misogynist behaviours. Rosenberg’s article deals with the stereotypes associated with masculinity, and so I thought I would do the same for trans feminine folks and femininity–specifically the trope that we become emotionally fragile simply because we take estrogen.

With trans men, testosterone is often used to reinforce ideas of toxic masculinity, encouraging stereotypes about men as hypersexual, aggressive, angry, emotionally stunted beasts who want to hump everything they see. I see these narratives everywhere, from ‘activist’-leaning online forums to mainstream media.

If I go to a local trans feminine support group, I could ask each member to stand if they could answer “yes” to a few different questions. I could ask if anyone has been raped, and around two-thirds of the group will stand up.  I could ask if anyone lost their jobs and has struggled in their careers, about a quarter. If they are on poor terms with their parents, about two-thirds. How many lost their marriages, maybe a third. Assaulted? Half. Victims of domestic violence? Half again. Harassed on the street? All of them. Most of the circle will have experienced two or more of these things.

These same ladies will insist, vociferously and from the bottom of their heart, that it’s the estrogen making them cry.

Don’t get me wrong, as a trans woman and someone who has the liberty and dumb luck to have the option of hormone replacements, I’m well aware of its effects. I felt that I had been gasping for air at high altitude for two decades before I transitioned, and just starting hormone replacements alone felt like I began to breathe for the first time in my life. But I am quite confident that my sudden inability to remain stoic had everything to do with surviving multiple assaults and a domestic abuse situation and nothing to do with a steroidal hormone, despite both occurring at the same time.

And let’s not forget the suffocating effect untreated gender dysphoria can have long before we figure any of this out. The oft-quoted 41% statistic referring to the rate of attempted suicides in trans Americans isn’t actually lifelong or spread out evenly–it’s mostly clustered around coming out and the planning thereof, usually settling to be no different than the general population as a person’s transition progresses. The closet is no place for a person, yet I see its effects seldom recognized by those crediting estrogen for their newfound emotions–something which usually begins shortly after coming out.

One thing I appreciate about Rae Rosenberg’s piece is that it reminds us that oppression is something you do, rather than something you are.

When trans men argue that they can’t be misogynist because they were socialized as women, it further erases that women can also reinforce and reproduce misogyny.

I would certainly say it is also misogyny–albeit of the internalized variety–for us trans feminine folks to look at the ruins around us and assume we’re emotional because of estrogen. I think this does a disservice to us all when we don’t recognize that anybody would be right in feeling a bit fragile in the circumstances I described above. We’ve earned our tears, estrogen be damned.

All this occurs alongside and in addition to our hormone replacements. I’m just not convinced causation has ever been teased out. It sounds far more likely that we are just reproducing the idea that expressing emotion is effeminate, rather than an ordinary adaptation to stress, something most of us are under a tremendous amount of. And while it is validating in the context of a support group, let’s not forget that it will just as easily be the justification of our dismissals by transmisogynistic people when we leave it.