I know what the antis will say before they’ve even said it

It’s become something of a running joke in the tran hivemind:

Kent Host: Hi, and welcome. Today, we’re discussing transgenderismology. We’ve got our experts, Miranda Nimby from Concerned Mums Who Have Never Met A Trans Person, and Professor Doctor Barry Scienceman (area of expertise: Astrophysics).

Miranda: Thanks, Kent,

Barry: Great to be here.

Kent Host: So, Miranda, why don’t you start by outlining your concerns?

Miranda: Well, Kent, I just think that all these things are moving too fast. When I was a child, I loved reading about George in the Famous Five. But did you know that if George existed today, she would be forcibly bundled off to a Gender Reassignment Camp, force-fed hormones, sterilised, have a beard superglued to her face, and then indoctrinated into the patriarchy?

Kent Host: Wow, that sounds dreadful. Barry, what’s your perspective?

Barry: Well, as an astrophysicist, this isn’t really a subject I’m qualified to comment on. But if I were to wildly speculate, I would assume that this is the end of civilisation as we know it, and a probable contributor to the heat death of the universe.

Kent Host: So if I understand you correctly, the existence of trans people could be the end of life on Earth?

Miranda: Absolutely.

Barry: That is a very strong possibility.

Read more here.


The real transition regret

Cis journalists are notoriously shitty at having this conversation. They often bias their piece, badly, by selecting specific interviewees to paint their twisted narrative. Nowhere is this more clear than transgender children, where journalists notably omit actual clinicians who work with transgender children.

Zinnia Jones reviews what the research actually says. A more common regret than transitioning? Not transitioning young:

However, one phenomenon of gender identity development in youth is far more substantiated than these concerns about transition regret, while receiving far less attention: cases of de-desistance (or “re-persistence”). These youth express gender dysphoria in their childhood, report that their dysphoria desists in adolescence, but later find that their dysphoria has not desisted and go on to seek out transition treatment.

Read more here.


“Leftist women report because of the commitment to our work, not in spite of it”

It’s an unfortunate truth that all liberationist movements are populated by people who lived with oppressive structures, and that these structures are often (sometimes unknowingly) reproduced despite the movement’s objectives. Alex Press writes on the tendency for leftist politics to retain misogynist structures that benefit men in spite of the professed objective of gender equality:

But the Left has never been immune to sexism and sexual violence from its leaders—from 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Stokely Carmicheal said the only position for women in the Black Power movement was “prone,” to 2013, when members left the U.K.’s Socialist Workers Party after it refused to adequately investigate rape allegations against a leading member, to today, when ongoing revelations about alleged sexual misconduct by former SEIU vice president Scott Courtney, a key architect of the union’s Fight for $15 campaign, have resulted in Courtney’s resignation along with the termination of at least one other union staff member. In each of these cases, toleration of this behavior weakened the organization.

I am not alone in having experienced the immense pressure brought to bear on anyone speaking out about sexual violence in an organizing space. At worst, you become subject to reminders of the damage you can do to the movement by accusing a prominent man (it’s not always a man, but it usually is) of sexual violence. “The Right will use this information against us,” you might be reminded, or, “We can’t win without him”—the implication being that if you insist on bringing up a leader’s misconduct, “we” can’t win with you.

Read more here.


For the love of dog do not touch other people’s mobility aides

I won’t say I’m “surprised” that this happens, because my faith in humanity has been utterly shattered for years, but I am severely disappointed. People with mobility disabilities rely–I mean literally, entirely, need–their mobility aides. Under no circumstances should you be touching these devices without the explicit consent of the people who use them. This includes wheelchairs especially. It is likely thoughtless ableism that makes people think the handlebars on the back of wheelchairs is a general invitation to push the wheelchair around, but seriously, if somebody looks like they’re struggling, use your damn words first.

o some people these ‘incidents’ may not seem like much but trust me they are. Since then whenever I go out in my wheelchair I think it’s safe to say there is a level of paranoia that is always there. This is much worse at times where I have been on my own or I am propelling my wheelchair myself. After these experiences I don’t find it surprising that there is a level of paranoia and anxiety around going out in my wheelchair. However, I shouldn’t have these feelings. Whenever I go out in my wheelchair now, if my chairs moves slightly in a different way to what I am expecting I panic. I quickly turn my upper body around to check behind me. I look to both sides of me and repeat. I have to try to switch off alarm mode in my head, to try to stay calm a collected. Now when I say if my wheelchair moves differently I mean, if there’s a slight slope or uneven service I think that someone has hold of me and my wheelchair. If I haven’t paid much attention to what’s beneath my wheels i.e. pavement, tar mac, cobbles, paving slabs, carpet or laminate flooring and I move differently and slightly quicker or with more force I panic and I believe that someone has a hold of my wheelchair. I should feel safe and comfortable in my wheelchair. I shouldn’t be concerned that free handles on my wheelchair are an open invitation for someone to push me or move me around.

Read more here.


Unpaid internships are legal class discrimination

Although lawmakers have generally understood the importance of limiting unfair restrictions on who can access what kind of labour, capitalists are not keen to change their ways. While you can’t literally post a job with a requirement for a certain amount of wealth, you can carve out an illegal-requirement-shaped-hole by requesting things that are legal, but still imply said requirement. One prominent example is “must have own vehicle.” This is generally a legal thing to ask for as an employer, but it has the consequence of disqualifying cash poor applicants (who are cash poor because they can’t apply for all these cozy salaried positions that require own vehicles). Unpaid internships are another example. Being alive costs money, and asking someone to forfeit their revenue stream has the effect of disqualifying people who do not have a bed of money to burn for going months without pay. Again, one of the long-observed effects of poverty is its self-perpetuating nature–cash poor people almost never having savings to burn to begin with.

Paris Lees explores this from her own history:

f I hadn’t had sex for money to support myself through university and a year or so of unpaid internships, you wouldn’t be reading my words now. I’m neither proud nor particularly ashamed of my past, but there you have it. I had to make tough choices to gain a foothold in journalism – a competitive industry, which often seems, like much of Britain, to be run by posh people for the benefit of posh people. So I fully agree with Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, when he says: “Unpaid internships are a modern scandal which must end.” According to new research, the public agrees with him: 72% of the public backed a change in the law, with 42% “strongly supporting” a ban.

Today I am doing pretty well for a freelance journalist. But I grew up poor. Please, no euphemisms. Not disadvantaged. Not working class. Not underprivileged. Poor. My dad’s a brickie, and my mum was a barmaid before getting herself a fancy job at Boots. My grandad worked down the pit. So it can be done! Right? OK, well let me tell you how I did it.

When I first moved to London fresh out of university I embarked upon a year of mostly unpaid internships at magazines. Because I was dedicated, and cheeky, I slowly managed to extract some money from the people I was working for as they recognised that I was bringing value to the company and couldn’t be expected to live off nothing. At first it was just travel. Then it was £50 a week and eventually more. But only after months and months of working for free.

I was only able to do this because I was financially supported by my boyfriend at the time, a nice middle-class boy on a good wage in the City. Lucky me. The Sutton Trust estimates that a six-month unpaid internship will cost a single person in London £5,556 – or £926 a month – a figure that is as frightening as it is precise. But without sex work and my boyfriend during those early days, there would have been no rent, no food, no unpaid internships and no career.

And, like the overwhelming majority of poor people in Britain, no voice.

Read more here.


White supremacy & sex work

Juniper Fitzgerald has a wonderful long-form review of the meeting point between white supremacy, white feminism, and sex work:

The inherent racism of white womanhood escapes notice precisely because doing white femininity entails curbing accountability. Eschewing agency, especially sexual agency, is essential for the performance of white womanhood. It’s why so many white feminists harbor disdain for sex workers—sex workers put a price on performances of femininity which are typically demanded of femme-presenting people for free and without full consent. Think of it this way—there is a reason Christian Grey is not a Black man. Rape fantasies like 50 Shades of Grey appeal to white women because doing white femininity means abating all culpability. White womanhood fetishizes submission to white men because it allows white women to skirt responsibility for all things unbecoming a “good girl”— namely, again, sexual agency. The toxicity of white womanhood is evident in TERF and SWERF feminisms; I’m sure I’m not surprising any Tits and Sass readers with my analysis thus far. What receives far less attention, at least in circles of predominantly white cis sex workers, is how we—white cis women—propagate the institution of white womanhood at the expense of marginalized sex workers.

It is perhaps unsurprising that white cis sex workers exhibit racism, sexism, transmisogyny, and whorephobia, even while rejecting the ethos of TERF and SWERF feminism. In fact, it is precisely in times like these, when we face the potential for extinction itself, that people are likely to salvage what little privilege they have left, and always at the expense of those without it. In her 1984 essay “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality”, Gayle Rubin argues that in times of great social unrest, particularly in times of war, people become dangerously obsessed with sex. This obsession mirrors classic projection—scapegoating others assuages one’s own fear of demise (or at least serves as a momentary distraction). When you live in a society that criminalizes sexual behavior, behavior that is believed to be incongruent with white supremacy and patriarchy, there is no better scapegoat than a sexual “deviant.” And when you’re busy raiding a pizza place on account of unsubstantiated evidence of sex trafficking, you don’t have to think too deeply about fascism.

White womanhood is essential to this equation—through institutions of white supremacy, we measure sexual value and bodily worth by its proximity to whiteness. Black women “fail” at femininity because the institution of white womanhood needs a barometer of respectability. Sex workers “fail” at femininity because the institution of white womanhood is reliant upon free sexual labor and the way that labor is constructed as virtuous. Trans women “fail” at femininity because the pillar of white womanhood rests on the currency of genitals.

I thoroughly recommend the piece. Read more here.


There is no new fascism

One of the frustrating things about mainstream punditry on white nationalist protests is the absolute refusal to engage with their historical or even contemporary context. As I’ve written before, the targets of the movement prototypes have been savvy to their intentions for years, so all the “surprised” centrism is quite tedious in our eyes.

Joshua Clover gives us a brief review:

These factors have been mobilized incessantly by the movement itself to produce a cloud of unknowing, precisely so that each gathering can go about its corrupt business without bearing responsibility for the last. Richard Spencer’s famous on-camera punch was preceded directly by his fatuous claim, “Neo-Nazis don’t love me, they kind of hate me.” Nah, my man. Just: nah. And yet a version of that dissimulation has been offered by every manner of white nationalist party planner over the last few months, while organizing the next white nationalist party. We don’t know whoever was responsible for the last violent episode. We have nothing to do with them. We just want to discuss some contentious views. Nothing here to see here but the marketplace of ideas. It’s the fash version of “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Seemingly ensorcelled, people acted over and over as if they believed such arrant nonsense.

All of this has led to perhaps the most bizarre political impasse of our moment: otherwise intelligent people seem unable to evaluate any given white nationalist event in the context of what has preceded it. One need not reach back to the horrors of Tulsa in 1921, as Claudia Rankine did so eloquently in the New York Times. One could just look at the previous month and draw a goddamned line. This has proved strangely challenging for pundits, politicians, and university administrators. The world begins anew each day. Each further provocation is treated as without history and thus presumptively legitimate.

It is as if the world’s oncologists, each time they encountered a sarcoma, were to say, “well, maybe this one is a nice tumor, how are we to know? It probably just wants to exercise its speech rights.”

Read more here.


Yes, obviously the one thing free speech is missing is a mandate

Imagine you don’t get an invitation to a particular party, and someone actually thinks the government should force them to invite you.

Well, you don’t have to imagine. This is what the freeze peachers want.

On Thursday, Universities Minister Jo Johnson put forward proposals for a consultation about challenging so-called safe spaces culture, clamping down on student unions that “no platform” speakers, and uphold free speech. Yes, that’s right – actual government ministers are now spending time examining the great civil rights struggle of our age: the right of a bunch of C-list transphobes and racists to prattle on over a glass of Echo Falls in Lecture Theatre 2 in the Chemistry School to an audience of teenagers who, in most cases, don’t want them there. Because – let’s be honest – the people who are actually popular always get to speak in the end. I mean, I dislike Germaine Greer as much as the next trans person who transitioned to murder and exorcise the ghost of their mother (admit it, Germaine, you just stole your theories from trans women from the plot of Psycho) but I recognise she can still pull a crowd. Which is why her heavily contested talk at Cardiff University in 2015 actually went ahead. That’s the thing you see – for all this talk of censorship many of these “controversial figures” do actually get a lot of airtime.

And why is that? Largely because of the societal advantages of those being “silenced”. I regularly ask for open mic slots on the stand-up comedy circuit and pitch publications with ideas. I’m regularly turned down or get my booking cancelled. But no one cares or calls that censorship because I don’t have a column in the national media to loudly complain about it. I don’t understand myself to have an entitlement to be booked. Student societies and unions are autonomous, self-governing structures – many have their own constitution and elected officers with decision-making abilities. If, for whatever reason, that process results in someone being blocked by a society or union from an invitation it’s for members of those societies who disagree with the decision to take it up with their representatives. In fact – a majority of students agree with this approach even if they won’t agree with every individual result it produces. So it all seems pretty democratic to me. The mainstream media and now government officials getting involved seems petty at best, sinister at worst.

Every day the New York Times doesn’t publish the pitches I’ve sent them is a day I am personally being censored by the Illuminati. This is a totally reasonable opinion that we should ceaselessly debate and every day someone does not pay me to whinge about it on stage is a day where I am being de-platformed.

If you can stomach the freeze peach nonsense, read more here.


Child Welfare is complicated

I Have Forgiven Jesus has a post up on their experiences of the child welfare system from the inside in the state of Wisconsin. I thoroughly recommend reading it:

Social services workers are almost always overworked, underpaid, and very unappreciated. There are no TV shows or movies celebrating what they do. If they’re ever portrayed it’s usually as exhausted and mildly incompetent, with the latter usually being a direct consequence of the former. Compared to other public servants, such as the police, firemen, nurses, and even teachers, they’re largely invisible, little thought of, and certainly not worthy of fetishization by popular culture, as opposed to the aforementioned.

Generally, the only time the general public is aware of anything relating to child welfare is when something horrible happens – a child dying in foster care, or a social worker clearing a family for child abuse or neglect only for one or more children dying. At the same time there is a nagging, and not entirely undeserved perception of child welfare workers breaking apart and ruining families – after all, they are paid representatives of sociopolitical structures that have historically oppressed people unluckily born into bad situations not of their making [3].

Throwing services at people is analogous to putting bandages on gaping wounds. The child welfare system is a reactionary multifaceted entity that does not, and indeed cannot address and rectify the deep underlying issues relating to institutionalized racism and income inequality. Until these issues are meaningfully addressed, we should expect little to change. The best we as a society can hope for is the ongoing refinement of what works, and the ceasing of what doesn’t.

Ambivalence about granting the government the authority to break your family apart is healthy skepticism. As the post states, the two competing reasons for a child welfare case to be opened are substantiated allegations of sexual abuse, and substantiated allegations of neglect. But are poor parents truly neglecting their children in the way we typically think of the word? There was a local story in my news, for example, of a mother who was referred to Children & Family Services for “dental neglect.” But dentistry is not included in Alberta’s socialized medicine. If the mom cannot afford an appointment, surely that merits a different response than an allegation of sexual abuse. Yet if the family lives in poverty, the effects of that accumulate, and a worker may deem this “danger to the child.”

Like the post says, this is victimizing people for trying to play the hand they’ve been dealt. The service has its uses, but societal inequality has to be addressed to make it more just.

Read more here.