Wait, which NFL were you watching before?

Content Notice: White supremacy, sexual assault.

Before Colin Kaepernik took many a white supremacist’s advice and “protested quietly” (which, spoiler alert, still pissed them off), the same league in which he competed routinely defended and employed players who assaulted their wives or mass raped drunk students. It’s in this context that a boycott of the NFL has finally spawned, stating that the NFL’s continued reluctance to employ Kaepernik supports white supremacy.

I’m glad that the conversation for black liberation is picking up some traction, but if you’re only now boycotting the NFL, I have to ask: Where the fuck you been? Damon Young is wondering the same.

I get that, for many of these fans, the Kaepernick blackball is the straw that broke the camel’s back. But again, the NFL been trash. They give no fucks about Kaepernick because they’ve given no fucks about anything other than getting your money and removing whatever might be in the way of getting more of it. You can’t give any fucks about black people if you don’t give any fucks about people. This is how they’re able to reason that Kaepernick remains unsigned because he’d be a distraction while players accused of distracting-ass shit like rape and aggravated assault remain on NFL rosters, and a Hotep preacher accused of killing two actual people is thought of as the best person to mentor Kaepernick into respectability. Having Kaepernick exist as your NFL straw in 2017 is like boycotting Trump because his hair is the color of Clorox.

So am I saying don’t boycott? No! Yay boycott! Boycott the fuck out of them! Throw boycott parties with complementary avocado toast and chorizo frittatas! Just remember that the NFL is trash, has been trash, and will continue to be trash even if Kaepernick is on a team.

I’m glad they found their back bone. I hope they keep it.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Dr. Serano’s invalidations

I called it a “persistent, sustained, and uncoordinated gaslighting,” this idea that readily observable bodily characteristics necessarily trumps a person’s experience of those characteristics with concerns to trans rights and gender variance. Julia Serano has typed up one of her lectures on the phenomenon, dubbing it “trans invalidations,” and describes at length the psychological damage these invalidations cause.

Read about it here. A short sample below:

(paragraphs added for readability)

-Shiv

[Read more…]

Why do you care?

Following up with the previous post on changes to the United Kingdom’s process for Gender Recognition Certificates, Ezra describes one part of the application which boils my blood–submitting personal details in front of a panel of disinterested bureaucrats to decide if you’re real enough for legal recognition:

“I can’t do it,” she said, line crackling slightly. I could still hear her voice break. “It’s too horrible.”

This is the only conversation I had with my wife before our wedding in which she cried, despite the thousands of stressors and disagreements over tiny things like flower arrangements and bridesmaid dresses. And it is still, to this date nearly 5 years on, the only conversation we’ve ever had about her attempt to get a Gender Recognition Certificate.

All she wanted was for our marriage to be considered a gay marriage, not a straight one. By this point she’d been living as a woman for 3 years, and was on HRT. She had a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a doctor’s letter to the same effect. Her passport, driving license and medical records all indicated that she was a woman. If it weren’t for the marriage certificate, there would be nothing that described her as the wrong thing, that made reference to the fact that her body had not always matched her overtly feminine, defiantly woman self.

As far as the legal requirements went, she was a perfect candidate for a GRC. But there was much beyond the legal requirements that no one had ever talked about. Justifying whether or not you’d had surgery, when you planned to have surgery, why on earth you hadn’t had it yet if you thought you deserved to be recognised as a “real” woman. What kind of sex you have. Is it with women? Is it penetrative? Because of course, that would rule you out, if you were using your genitalia in a way that the government didn’t think coincided with your gender identity. How long have you lived as a woman? Can you prove it? Where’s your evidence? No evidence, no GRC. Can you provide two (expensive) detailed reports, from two separate clinicians? Stop right there if you can’t. Go no further. Provide a “statutory declaration”. Get it witnessed by someone with a “reputable” profession. Outline every discomfort you’ve ever had about your gender. Tell us when you first bought knickers. Why didn’t you change your gender on your passport right there and then? Why did you wait until you were in your twenties to transition? Are you married? Then we need a declaration from your spouse too. Just to make sure your stories match up. On bad terms with your spouse about your gender? Estranged from them? Too bad. They have a veto on this. You can’t just enter them into a marriage to someone of a different gender. If you’re divorced, we want definitive proof of that divorce. Just to make sure you aren’t dragging an innocent ex into this. Oh, and pay us £140 for the privilege of being able to have your documents provide your correct information. Thanks.

The current process for British trans folk is labyrinthine and dehumanizing. There are already consequences for lying during a statutory declaration, so they really have no excuse to keep dancing around self-declaration as the system they should be using.

-Shiv

Tolerance is a peace treaty, not a moral imperative

Yonatan Zunger discusses the tolerance red herring so frequently deployed by supremacists of various stripes. It’s a load of bunk.

The title of this essay should disturb you. We have been brought up to believe that tolerating other people is one of the things you do if you’re a nice person — whether we learned this in kindergarten or from Biblical maxims like “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others.”

But if you have ever tried to live your life this way, you will have seen it fail: “Why won’t you tolerate my intolerance?” This comes in all sorts of forms: accepting a person’s actively antisocial behavior because it’s just part of being an accepting group of friends; being told that prejudice against Nazis is the same as prejudice against Black people; watching people try to give “equal time” to a religious (or irreligious) group whose guiding principle is that everyone must join them or else.

Every one of these examples should raise your suspicions that something isn’t right; that tolerance be damned, one of these things is not like the other. But if you were raised with an intense version of “tolerance is a moral requirement,” then you may feel that this is a thought you should fight off.

It isn’t.

Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.

I am sadly unaware of any tool to get rid of the Medium users’ highlighting (they’ve effectively highlighted the entire article which is just SO MUCH SIGH) but try to tolerate it here. (see what i did therr)

-Shiv

 

Yep, transmisogyny: Still misogyny.

I googled the author of the piece I signal boosted yesterday, and to my delight found that she has also discussed the misogyny invoked in transmisogyny, highlighting one of the fundamental hypocrisies of trans exclusionary “radical feminism.”

Once I had an argument with a cis dude acquaintance about whether trans women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. Out of nowhere, he burst out with, “I want a family someday!”

He continued, apparently unaware of how non he was sequituring. “How am I supposed to feel about the fact that there are all these women walking around, and maybe they look just like everyone else, but they don’t have uteruses? Why is it transphobic to say I want a woman who can have children?”

My response was, “It’s not transphobic to want children, but it’s misogynistic as hell to say that anyone who can’t give birth is not a woman.” The idea that a woman’s value, or her gender, is determined by her reproductive function is so deeply objectifying that to call it transphobic is to miss the entire point. Note that in his hypothetical there was no question of whether the woman wanted to give birth; he was only interested in whether she was physically capable of fulfilling hisparental desires. The problem with this guy isn’t that he doesn’t want to date trans women. It’s that he sees all women as vessels for his own dreams.

In just this way, whenever you scratch the surface of transmisogyny (even in the guise of “trans-critical feminism”), you find that it’s just one facet of a deeper hatred and distrust of women. Here are four tenets of transmisogyny that are profoundly dangerous to all women:

You can read more about Lindsay King-Miller’s stupendous take on the issue here, or read my previous post on the same topic here.

-Shiv

Women aren’t people, apparently

Five years ago if you had told me feminists would object to the statement “women are people” I would’ve told you you were off your rocker.

I am wiser now. I understand that there’s a branch of feminists who prioritize their anti-trans animus above all else, and will gleefully enact harm on other women if it means they can bash (or direct an institution to bash) teh trans.

Last month, The Colorado Doula Project (CDP), a grassroots organization that provides “free emotional, physical, and informational support through the spectrum of reproductive experiences,” held the first formal abortion doula training in the state of Colorado. Nearly 50 women and nonbinary people gathered to learn how to accompany clients or friends through the process of terminating a pregnancy.

Sitting in on the training to write about it for Vice, I wasn’t shocked to hear murmurs of a disturbance going-on outside. Of course, I figured, an event with the word “abortion” right there in the name would attract attention from anti-choice zealots.

One of the organizers sighed. “I was expecting to have trouble with the anti-abortion people, but I didn’t think we were going to get attacked by feminists.”

I did a double take, and she filled me in.

Because the Colorado Doula Project strives for intersectionality and accessibility, they talk about their clients and potential clients in gender-neutral terms, referring to “pregnant people” and “birthing parents” so as to encompass DFAB (designated female at birth) transgender and nonbinary people who are not women, but still need pregnancy-related care.

A local self-described fourth-wave feminist attended the abortion doula training despite not agreeing with the CDP’s policy on gender-inclusive language. Early in the first day, she began posting comments on Facebook criticizing the policy, calling it “female erasure,” and saying “I can’t fucking stand third wave liberal feminism.” After being asked to leave, she exhorted a large group of her friends to post negative reviews on Colorado Doula Project’s Facebook page, many of them also accusing the group — which most of them had never had direct contact with — of “female erasure.”

Yes, if an abortion provider services trans men or AFAB enbies, it must be torn down.

Read more about this migraine-inducing blinkered nonsense here.

-Shiv

I know those gates, too

Heather McNamara discusses the political clusterfuck in which lesbians are positioned, having to deal with, all at once, patriarchs, theocrats, cishet feminists, TERFs, armchair psychologists and more assorted twits.

Welcome to lesbianism! And congratulations on your decision to give up dating men. They can be fun sometimes, but I can tell you from experience that lesbianism is way way more fun. For starters, there are boobs. More on that later.

You’ll want to get started right away so let’s get busy on the orientation. We have a lot of stereotypes to roll our eyes at, six seasons of The L Word to get through whether you like it or not – don’t look at me that way – and of course you’ll want to know how to answer all the stupid questions you get from straight friends and family. You’re also going to want to find yourself some lesbian gathering places, but please avoid the temptation to check Craigslist. We’re not as big on the bar scene as our queer brothers are, but you’ll find there are plenty of drum circles, softball teams, and Facebook groups.

Oh uh. There’s just one little snag.

You probably noticed all those people standing at the gates, didn’t you? Yeah, they’re uh… they’re a thing.

If you came over from female heterosexuality, you may never have seen anyone at the gates, flung wide open as they tend to be. It’s funny how ogling girls and making out with girls hardly gets anyone kicked out of female heterosexuality, isn’t it? Especially since, well, if you check to your right over there you can see that the great camo print gates of male heterosexuality are guarded by teams of NoHomo militia. If you came from female bisexuality, you might have a little more experience, mostly in the form of pushy relatives and mansplainers who love to tell you that it’s just a phase. Lucky you didn’t have to deal with the gates of male bisexuality, though! I don’t think anyone’s gotten through there except maybe David Bowie but not all of us can afford helicopters. I’m pretty sure there’s just a trap door out front and a slide that drops you into male homosexuality.

I identify as queer and I’ll be honest, a tiny sliver in the pie chart of “reasons for doing so” is an attempt to sidestep these tedious sexual politics. Read more here.

-Shiv

Disgust as the animating principle

Senthorum Raj reviews the animating principles informing the criminalization of otherwise ethically justifiable sexual behaviour:

We tend to assume that law is objective and disembodied, but the story of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK shows that, like the people who create it, it is in fact an emotional creature, animated by visceral human feelings — and as far as sexuality is concerned, the chief emotion at work is often disgust.

You don’t have to look very hard to see how much it was disgust, not a concern for morality or justice, that shaped the laws governing homosexual activity. In fact, in the UK, homosexuality was long deemed so perverse that to even speak of it in public would stain your character.

Criminal punishments for homosexual activity, which included the death penalty, thrived on disgust for centuries. Introduced by Henry VIII in 1533, the Buggery Act 1533 criminalised the “abominable vice” of anal sex between men. In his commentaries on the common law of England published in 1765, jurist William Blackstone described buggery as an “offence of so dark a nature” that “the very mention of [it] is a disgrace to human nature”. Colonial statutes (which are still in effect in a number of Commonwealth countries today) referred to sex between men as an “act against the order of nature”.

In 1895, writer Oscar Wilde was put on trial for “gross indecency”, a statutory offence introduced in 1885 to punish individuals who engaged in same-sex relationships, without having to prove they had anal sex. In sentencing Wilde for gross indecency, Justice Willsnoted:

The crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man of honour who has heard the details of these two horrible trials.

Disgust, again, was the animating principle. In writing about the Wilde trial, philosopher and legal scholar Martha Nussbaum observes that disgust was not simply an excess or unintended consequence of prosecuting sexual offences; it was central to it. Criminal penalties were contingent on the extent to which the person, and the activity they engaged in, could elicit public disgust.

The observant might note that this remains salient today.

-Shiv

Zero HIV transmissions

Blanket criminalization of HIV nondisclosure has been shown to backfire. It reduces the likelihood that people will get tested for fear of breaking a law, thus paradoxically increasing the risk of transmission. By contrast, studies showing that people who have been diagnosed and who are following their treatment have not been able to spread HIV to their partners, even if the sex act is unprotected and even if the HIV negative partner is not taking PrEP. Per this blog’s usual stance of evidence based policy, this supports the conclusion that blanket nondisclosure penalties are unjustified.

The data back me up on this.

For the second time in two years, a massive study has found that for men who have managed their viral load to undetectable levels, it’s virtually impossible for them to transfer HIV to their male sexual partners.

Unlike last year’s study (“PARTNER”), which involved both different-sex and same-sex couples, the new study (“Opposites Attract”) focused entirely on same-sex male couples from Thailand, Brazil, and Australia with mixed HIV statuses. When one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative, they’re referred to as a serodiscordant couple.

Over the four years these couples were followed, the study captured about 12,000 condomless sex acts between an HIV-positive partner with an undetectable viral load and an HIV-negative partner who was not taking PrEP, medication that helps protect people from contracting the virus. There were zero HIV transmissions.

An additional 5,000 condomless sex acts took place between a partner with an undetectable viral load and a partner who was taking PrEP. There were zero HIV transmissions.

Read more here.

-Shiv

 

Why do you hate prisoners?

Mike Epifani has a compelling piece on antipathy towards prisoners:

Over 6.74 million people are supervised by US adult correctional systems, and tens of millions of people have a criminal record. And to many, their rights don’t matter because “they must have done something wrong.”

Let’s start with the fact that “we spend billions to keep 480,000 people locked in cages without a conviction.” And that abhorrent criminal justice system practice is the tip of the iceberg — this is getting worse, not better. Jeff Sessions just recently reinstated the practice of allowing law enforcement to seize personal property without a conviction or even an indictment.

Did you know that around 95% of convictions are obtained through guilty pleas, and, more specifically, through plea bargaining? That means that only 5% of prisoners receive a fair trial. Most of us have seen it on television: the prosecutor comes in, says that if they really want to take it to trial, they’ll push for the maximum sentencing, but if they plead guilty, they’ll be charged with a lesser crime or receive a shorter sentence. Given the fact that many people who are arrested do not have the resources (time and money) to feel confident in their legal counsel’s chances in front of a jury, they’ll go with the guilty plea just to be on the safer side, guilty or not.

So, if the punishment really fits the crime, what is the justification behind making a deal to release them sooner?
Or does the punishment not fit the crime?
Or are they admitting that, in large part, prisons fail to rehabilitate?
Or is there often not enough evidence to lock up a cash cow (inmate), so intimidation tactics are required?

If you argue that the prosecution wouldn’t even bother proceeding with the process if the evidence wasn’t there to make a conviction…okay…but 95%? Only 5% of people convicted of a crime enact their 6th Amendment right to a trial in front of a jury of their peers? That seems right to you? Well, it’s not right. In fact, prosecutorial strategies when someone decides to take it to trial can be downright abhorrent, including blatantly adding additional charges.

Read more here.

-Shiv