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.

-Shiv

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.

-Shiv

“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.

-Shiv

AFAB trans women and the bog of eternal linguistic nihilism

Pizza is just a kind of very large cheese biscuit. An adequately large cheese biscuit is a pizza.

If you want to waste someone’s time in a debate, one of the best ways to do it is to hurl the balloon full of sticky goo we call linguistic nihilism at them. In terms of the value of the technique, I think my colleague Marcus characterizes it best: like “sneaking off the battlefield under cover of darkness.” Other suitable metaphors include “stepping into quicksand” or “navigating a quagmire.” If we imagine a debate to be a duel of swords, linguistic nihilism is not a technique of parrying or striking, but rather manoeuvring the opponent into knee-deep mud.

One iconic example of linguistic nihilism is captured in a low-stakes joke: “Hot pockets are a kind of sandwich.” The crux of the argument, not (typically) made with any seriousness, is that we can define a “sandwich” to possess certain attributes (e.g. a pair of bread slices with fillings in-between), and then label all things with those attributes “sandwiches.” Hot pockets, being quite literal bread products with cheese and meat stuffed in between, could arguably “be sandwiches.” But the vast majority of people reading the word “sandwich” probably don’t picture hot pockets. We can chase our tails all day as to whether or not we could argue that hot pockets are sandwiches, but it won’t change the fact that enough people, when polled, will picture distinct and different things when asked to imagine a hot pocket and a sandwich in their mind. The attributes of any given hot pocket and any given sandwich could all be described, but what those attributes mean is a linguistic and philosophical dispute, not an empirical one. There is no “essence of sandwich” one can detect in hot pockets to measure their sandwichness. What we call sandwiches is a negotiated, social process, meaning if it is suitable to all parties involved, we can decisively say one way or the other whether hot pockets are sandwiches, and then proceed with our discourse.

[Read more…]

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.

-Shiv

They’re on to me!!!

Joe Miller and William Briggs apparently spoke on a Conservative radio show about a new brain study that has them in a tizzle. Now, brain studies which attempt to draw conclusions from “activity”–images where the exchange of oxygen are highlighted by pretty neon colours in the brain–are notoriously fickle. To me there have always been an indeterminate amount of dots to connect between x behaviour and y region of the brain being active during that behaviour. So this is less about the study, to which I am largely skeptical, and more about the hilarious and improbable panic displayed by Miller and Briggs:

Joe Miller and his guest William Briggs, a statistician and adjunct professor at Cornell University, had a long discussion about the recent UCLA study. According to a release by the University of York, the study sought to understand how the posterior medial frontal cortex influences ideology, specifically religion and nationalism.

Using transcranial magnets, the researchers were able target and temporarily shut down the region. Subjects were asked questions about death and to rate a negative essay about the United States they were told was written by an immigrant. The result of the magnetic destimulation of the area of the brain in question resulted in less belief in religion and greater acceptance of immigrants.

This prompted Briggs to fear that the study would lead to “eugenics” targeting conservatives.

Considering “religion” and “nationalism” are absolutely taught behaviours, there is no way to detect their presence in a newly fertilized zygote, and thus no way to terminate a zygote with these qualities (deemed, perhaps not unfairly, undesirable to progressives). So right away we’re off to a bad start.

“Basically what they’re doing is they’re trying to bring back eugenics even, in a way,” Briggs said, his voice wavering. “Because they’re identifying what they say are biological constituents for belief. Therefore they’re able to test for these biological constituents.”

This is a pretty stunning error. There is a much needed moment to slow down and define precisely what we mean by “biological.” Neurology forms because of biological constituents, yes, but it is influenced by its input from environment. It sounds like we’re stumbling down the nature/nurture distinction which desperately needs to be retired. It doesn’t really exist, because our nurture affects our nature (and frequently vice versa).

He worried that people might think he was joking or being paranoid.

“But no, this is exactly it,” he continued. “There was a story this week too.. that some employers are now asking for DNA samples, not just to detect potential medical maladies, but to look for these kind of character traits they think they have identified that make one a lesser person.”

I mean, as I said, causative mechanisms from “having a trait in DNA” to “having that trait’s phenotype” are far from a straight line. There is no way anyone with even basic genetics literacy would actually support this. While I imagine employers are trying to do this, it’s not immediately apparent why so-called liberals would favour it.

Then, here’s the bombshell:

Miller then hinted that the magnets may be used by transgender people against people of faith.

I don’t know if paranoid is my word of choice. “Improbable,” perhaps.

“The whole transgender crowd, they see their main opponent as being those of faith and so obviously they’re going to use any aggressive tactics they can to move forward that agenda,” Miller said. “This is still minority opinion though, right? In psychology and elsewhere?”

There it is folks. I’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. Screw fact-checking, consciousness raising, building community resilience, leafleting, campaigning, and education.

I’m using MAGNETS.

-Shiv

Consent isn’t a “Catholic value”?

Apparently the totally necessary and modern institution of the Catholic church is still hung up on the whole “marital rape” business, because Saudi Arabia is clearly the shining human rights example we should all follow. The Catholic school systems in Alberta want to propose an “alternative sex ed” curriculum because, and I quote, “the values in the proposed secular curriculum reform do not reflect Catholic teachings.”

One of those values is consent.

Thankfully, the Premier is slapping this nonsense down.

Catholic school superintendents are crafting an alternative sex education curriculum that they want the province to approve for their schools.

They say the government’s teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one’s biological sex.

In documents filed with the province, the superintendents also take issue with sexual consent by a partner in marriage. They say it is only one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family and wellness.

Notley said consent is paramount and there is no debate.

“Consent is the law in Alberta and under no circumstances will any child in Alberta be taught that they have to somehow accept illegal behaviour in a sexual relationship. The end.”

This is the only correct response to theocratic bollocks.

Read more here.

-Shiv

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.

-Shiv