Transmisogyny is still misogyny

I think most feminists would do a double-take if they had received the endorsement of evangelicals, but not Meghan Murphy. Undeterred by the fact that the Conservatives have selected her to share the limelight alongside evangelical pastor Paul Dirks, Murphy has the privilege of taking her transmisogyny to a national stage as a “witness” for the Senate’s third reading of Bill C-16.

The sad part is that there are legitimate critiques of Bill C-16. Advocates pointed out (and I’ll admit I was a bit late to the party on this one) that trans women are already disproportionately targeted by police and are therefore more likely to be represented in prison–the same prisons that would house hate crime offenders for longer periods of time thanks to Bill C-16’s hate crime provisions. But that’s not the argument Conservatives or Murphy are making.

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24 hours in the life of a trans writer

05:30 — I’m an early riser, and sometimes I even beat my alarm clock. How much of that is just heightened anxiety and existential dread, I’ll probably never know. The sun hasn’t even risen, but it’s when I do my best work.

05:41 — I’ve brewed my coffee and opened my email. The first message says I should be “interned” at an asylum. I write back, saying I’m flattered he has such confidence in my abilities that I’d qualify for an internship at a psychiatric hospital. It’s a facetious response. The content of his email clearly indicates he meant “interred.” He doesn’t seem to know that interrogating my own sanity has become a daily ritual thanks to a culture of persistent, sustained, and uncoordinated gaslighting directed at people like me. I consider sending him the history of psychiatry’s abuses with trans people and how none of that torture stopped us from being trans. He doesn’t care. He’ll unknowingly comment on another piece of my work under a handle similar to his email, saying the exact same thing.

He isn’t wishing for my health. He’s wishing for my disappearance.

06:24 — I see the Daily Mail has accused me of being a “gender fascist.” Well, not me specifically, but if the Daily Mail was in the habit of dealing in specifics it wouldn’t be in business at all. Whatever. It’s a fact-free hit piece, not that the consumers care. They’re just paying for another pundit to foam at the mouth over some nebulous spectre of slavering trans fuckbeasts.

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When Transphobia Trumps Statistics

As a transgender Canadian, I’ve been hawkishly poring over the many debates on Bill C-16, a human rights bill that would add “public incitements of violence,” “willful promotion of hatred,” and “advocacy for genocide” as activities outside of “acceptable speech” concerning gender identity and expression. It would also add bias against a victim’s gender identity or expression as an aggravating circumstance for criminal sentencing. Any business under federal jurisdiction — including the postal service, telecommunications, banks, and airlines — that discriminates against an employee or hiree on the basis of their gender identity and expression would be penalized.

In short, Bill C-16 a good step for trans equality in Canada, strengthening our legal protections. And the data shows they’re much needed.

In 2011, the National Task Force for Transgender Equality published one of the most comprehensive reviews of discrimination against trans folk that finally paints our picture in detail. A brief snapshot: 90% of us experienced workplace harassment or discrimination. 26% of us lost our jobs and careers when we came out. 19% of us have been homeless, and another 29% have been turned away at homeless shelters specifically because of our identity. 19% of us had been refused service in health care, and 57% of us experienced some kind of significant family rejection. Those statistics were based on the responses from trans people of every race; it should be noted that every single outcome is worse if you’re also black and trans.

These are the facts, and though they are nothing new for trans people, they demonstrate that Bill C-16 is necessary to explicitly protect Canadian trans people who have largely been relegated to patchwork federal case law and legal gray areas until very recently.

When the results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) were released, I naively hoped these statistics would offer a chance for those who didn’t know them to get a big-picture view of some of our crises, amd that the NTDS would enter the conversation on public policy.

After all, legislators are passing policy for everyone, so they’d want the full picture, right?

Apparently not. The necessity of a human rights bill like C-16 ought to be self-evident given the outcomes of the trans community, simply because of the appalling frequency and degree of discrimination that trans Canadians continue to face — but you do need to be aware of that fact first for it to be obvious. The law has been passed in Parliament but awaits further voting in the Senate, and during these debates, the data is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

Read more on The Establishment.

Almost freeee

Last week I was commissioned to write an article about Bill C-16, and I submitted the rough draft on Thursday. Hopefully I’ll have a Real News™ article to cross-post later this week! More details once it’s confirmed that my rough draft isn’t so awful that the entire venture is tossed. If it is, I’ll see if I can find a Real News™ home for it elsewhere before just throwing it up here.

At the same time I was doing my homework for that article I also had to cobble together my half-finished examination of Alberta’s dog-awful sex ed curriculum, because I was asked by ASPECC to give a trans sex ed presentation. It went really well and I even got some great feedback, which excites me because it’ll be clearer and better moving forward. It’s already looking like I might have to do surgery and split it into two presentations.

And now, for the first time in about three weeks, I’ll have no homework. Freedom! But only as long as I unplug for a couple days, because reading the news will get my writing muscles twitchy again.

-Shiv

All the little power games

Content notice: Trans-antagonism.

It was in December 2015 when Alberta passed Bill 7, a law that added gender identity and expression to the protected classes under the provincial criminal code. For the most part the law passed with little more than the usual humming and hawing from radio talk show hosts. Perhaps it was the weather that discouraged protesting, but it wasn’t until summer 2016, around the same time that Bill C-16 was finally proposed (a similar law, but federally), that I witnessed in person the sorts of power games that cisgender opponents to trans rights would engage in.

Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) organized a rally to express support for the legislation. Scheduled after the rally was the reactionary response. But the rally in favour of trans rights, upon its conclusion, asked if any of its members would stay to counter-protest the anti-rights rally.

So we did.

Physical violence was thankfully avoided, but that doesn’t mean the cisgender anti-trans rights protesters didn’t have their little power games to put us on the back foot.

If you’re trans and you catch the attention of the a particularly unhinged trans-antagonist, your doxxing doesn’t stop merely at the location of your legal identity–they always, always dig up your prior name (aka birth name or dead name) and insist on using it to refer to you, or at the very least implying you’re suspect by publishing it alongside your legal name. And if you’re a public figure, it’s usually not difficult to locate your previous name because all legal name changes might be published where you live.

So now, in order to meet the demands of the anti-rights camp and have a, quote unquote, “civil” conversation, you have to engage whilst being called the wrong name, the wrong pronoun, and the wrong titles.

I kid you not–the woman leading the trans counter-protest was referred to as “Sir” the entire time. Their twisted idea of respect was itself a cheap tactic, a kidney shot. So we either proceed to ignore this behaviour in order to talk about the logistics of trans rights and how literally zero cis men have been excused from criminal behaviour because they were cross dressing when they did it; or, instead of refuting these myths and misconceptions, we spend the entire time trying to get our opponents to stop fucking calling us by a name that isn’t ours.

The excuses for this tactic are flimsy. Trans-antagonists don’t go around calling every Bill William, or every Dan Daniel, or every Ted Theodore or every Jan Janice or every Sam Samantha or every Liz Elizabeth. We already have a culture that permits cis people to change their names, their given names and their family names and their titles, for any reason. There is no reason other than prejudice I can think of to deny the legitimacy of trans people using the exact same machinery that everyone else has for decades.

So the anti-rights protesters set up the expectation that trans folk ought to act “civil” during a discussion in which our opponents engage in cheap shots and dirty tactics that we either have to ignore or change the topic to redress, while defaming us as predators and rapists.

Right.

-Shiv

Self care Saturday, November 19: Taboo

I know it’s weird to consider volunteering self care but I am in dire need of a long term unplug. The entire US Election was a months-long trigger for all the nastiness that gets bottled up from a sexual assault, and then even more news hit my feed from abroad which was just a bit too much.

If you’re going to (link NSFW) Edmonton Taboo, I’ll be at the Alberta Sex Positive Education Community Centre’s booth. Look for the tiny person in a flowery dress and combat boots. Brown pixie cut, beanie, Pride bracelet. That’s me. Come say hi. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you. I’m there during the day today and tomorrow. Tonight I might poke around the dungeon.

In sparse Good News Land: Bill C-16 passed in the House of Commons and is now on to the Senate.

Take care of yourselves.

-Shiv

Second free speech rally at U of T: Less violent, still wrong

Content Notice: More trans-antagonistic codswallop.

A second rally for “free speech” was recently hosted at the University of Toronto inspired by the events of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s hysterics, in which the protesters characterize Bill C-16 as being Orwellian, totalitarian, and Maoist. This event was considerably smaller–only 60 attendants versus several hundred–and it did not feature Dr. Peterson himself nor was Rebel Media there to foment a riot. When you don’t have avowedly dishonest demagogues whipping people into a frenzy, actual dialogue can occur.

Colour me surprised.

The protesters and the Facebook event are described as follows:

The event’s description on Facebook stated that “radical left wing activists are trying to impose censorship on our thoughts and speech, and declare a moratorium on any form of expression that THEY deem offensive.”

The rally’s organizers insisted their event was apolitical.Speaking to The Varsity, organizer Maria Morzc said that “Free speech is not a system of beliefs; it is a fundamental human right. And, also, free speech is, basically, I mean, all we want is to state our opinions without being silenced, without being labelled, without being assaulted, and we welcome members of the so-called ‘radical left.’”

Another organizer, Riley Moher, described the group as “not a libertarian group, we’re not an alt-right group, we’re not a liberal group, we just stand for the freedom of speech.”

Here we go, in the spirit of actual dialogue: Basically everything you said is still bullshit. Let’s walk through this one word at a time.

radical left wing activists

Man, isn’t it great how scary you can make something sound when you label it as “radical”? Respecting the pronouns of trans people is radical now. It really is illustrating the bias here. Bill C-16 would criminalize the advocacy of genocide against trans people as well as public incitements to violence, but apparently saying you shouldn’t do that is “radical.” 

Hypothesis: “Radical” here means, “people I don’t like.”

are trying to impose censorship on our thoughts and speech

Only the exact same censorship on your speech that has already existed for every other protected class in the Criminal Code for 40 odd years now. Are you seriously defending the right of people to advocate for genocide?

Also, how does one censor thoughts? No one has said you ought to be subjected to a frontal lobotomy for your inanity. Ridiculous.

and declare a moratorium on any form of expression that THEY deem offensive.

I’ll happily point out you’re trying to declare a moratorium on respecting trans people’s pronouns. It’s a knife that cuts both ways here.

The rally’s organizers insisted their event was apolitical

And I’m the Queen of England.

Free speech is not a system of beliefs; it is a fundamental human right.

Human rights are a system of beliefs. There is no objective system granting value to people’s lives. That is a social construct we more-or-less agree upon to facilitate stability and relative safety in our society. But we are, in the scheme of the universe itself, just a bunch of carbon bickering with itself on an irrelevant speck of sand on a miles long beach.

And, also, free speech is, basically, I mean, all we want is to state our opinions without being silenced

Okay but Bill C-16, again, is concerned with those opinions that think we should die for being who we are. If you aren’t calling for us to be put to death, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than charged with a hate crime.

It is also free speech for people to criticize you. Nobody is silencing you when we say you’re full of shit, or factually wrong, or blind to your own biases. I suspect what you actually want is to say a bunch of bullshit and go unchallenged for it.

without being labelled

CALLED IT.

What do you want me to do? “Transphobic” or “trans-antagonistic” are just words attempting to condense “suspicion or denigration of trans identities” into fewer syllables. Do you want to censor me for pointing out these patterns of belief as expressed by you and your freeze peach lobby?

without being assaulted

Okay sure, but that at least applies to both sides here. More generally, trans people are many many many many times more likely to be assaulted than you are, so maybe you should be directing your anti-assault efforts to cis people? Just a suggestion.

and we welcome members of the so-called ‘radical left.’

For the record, that was Dr. Peterson’s framing of the issue. I do not consider myself radical because I expect the correct name and pronouns to be used in reference to me as is the case with all cis people.

(I consider myself radical because I would see the means of production in the hands of the proletariat).

not a libertarian group

Free Speech Absolutism is certainly compatible with Libertarianism though.

we’re not an alt-right group

Your particular rally doesn’t set off those bells of mine, no. Your rally is a babbling mess but it reminds me more of naive freshmen still railing against “The Man” than it does of reactionary dickheads who want to deliberately restore second-class citizenship for anyone not cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, white and male.

we’re not a liberal group

I promise you the last thing I was going to accuse you of was being liberal.

we just stand for the freedom of speech

Just freedom for thee and none for me, apparently. Remember, you want to express your bullshit without me criticizing you for expressing bullshit. That’s not how this works.

 

Next statement:

A number of the speakers made comparisons between the university’s request that Peterson stop making public statements and totalitarianism. One speaker compared their struggle to the struggles of Chinese citizens decades ago in having to adopt the ideology of Maoism or face execution. “We’re faced [with] the idea of political correctness, with the social ostracization of us, of people who speak out against such mediocrity, against such cruelty, against such an affront to human rationality and the liberal values that Canada and America and the rest of the civilized world has been based on,” he said.

This is rich.

One speaker compared their struggle to the struggles of Chinese citizens decades ago in having to adopt the ideology of Maoism or face execution

We don’t have the death penalty in Canada.

We’re faced [with] the idea of political correctness

As I’ve said before, the freeze peach crowd wants to install political correctness too: It wants to elevate ignorance about gender variance to be politically correct despite the mountain of evidence contradicting their statements. We all want political correctness, and you need to stop pretending otherwise.

with the social ostracization of us

I’m sorry, none of the free speech protesters have been doxxed and are receiving death threats. It’s the trans protesters who cannot return to class until the RCMP has contained or discredited the threats. You’re trying to tell me that saying you’re full of shit is “ostracization”? You whiny fucking child.

of people who speak out against such mediocrity, against such cruelty

Expecting you to use the correct pronoun is “cruelty” now. I suppose the 90+% of us who have been, you know, actually assaulted is–what–mercy?

against such an affront to human rationality

Ahhh the old “my opponent is crazy” rhetorical tactic.

the liberal values that Canada and America and the rest of the civilized world has been based on

Liberal values like my right to say you’re full of shit? I am happily exercising that, right now.

 

Next statement:

Jacob Ritchie was walking by the event when he decided to participate, and he expressed an opposing view. Speaking of Bill C-16 — a piece of legislation aimed at protecting individuals from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression that Peterson criticizes in one of his lectures — Ritchie said to the crowd, “There’s nothing saying, like, if you go up to a guy and talk to them and you don’t use their pronouns you go to jail or you’re sectioned under the human rights law. It’s if you discriminate against them and you can go and prove that they’ve suffered a harm. And really I think there’s a much higher bar for that than you guys think there is. I think this whole thing is misguided.”

Guess what the freeze peach attenders did?

Ritchie was heckled by some attendees during his statements

“Freedom for me and none for thee” indeed. The organizer of the rally hushed the hecklers, to their credit, but it really punches holes in the whole “freedom of speech” banner they claim to fly.

Again, the high bar Ritchie is referring to is “advocacy for genocide” and “public incitement of hatred.” Are you seriously having to check yourself constantly lest you accidentally let slip “death to all trans”? These fears raised by the freeze peach crowd just do not connect with any reasonable sense of risk. It would be like objecting to the criminalization of attempted murder because every time you walk past someone you have to steel yourself to not randomly stab them to death. Seriously?

 

Next statement:

Morzc said that her cause supports marginalized groups and stressed the importance of free expression to address the issues that these groups face.“Please clear up the confusion. Because, you know, we support the LGBTQ rights and the Black rights, the rights of Black students, the rights of Black individuals in society, in general, and we recognize that they face unique challenges, and we recognize that they need to address those challenges,” she explained. “However, we believe that actually promoting freedom of speech and freedom of expression would go a long way towards actually addressing these existing problems, and stifling free speech will do the opposite.”

I love the “I’m not prejudiced, but” line. It never works.

The former half of Morzc’s statement is just peachy keen, but I fail to see how you can reconcile the intention to promote the safety and well-being of QUILTBAG citizens when there are other citizens who have no intentions of interrogating their prejudices, no intentions of listening or learning, no intentions of fact checking, and every intention of avowedly and self-admittedly antagonizing the safety and well-being of those QUILTBAG citizens. It’s just not compatible to claim reactionary dickheads who want to hurt us deserve the platform to express those sentiments whilst also claiming to care about the QUILTBAG people targeted by this prejudice.

Peterson is a professor. Now that he has gone on record to publicly state he has every intention of discriminating against the trans students who enter his class, he has explicitly erected a barrier to trans folk at the U of T. If any of his classes are core classes for a degree, then trans folk trying to get that degree now have to enter Dr. Peterson’s class trusting that his prejudice won’t unfairly affect his ability to grade them. Alternatively, if they can pretend to not be trans, they might be able to avoid that prejudice–but then, Dr. Peterson forcing trans students to make that choice in the first place (if it’s even an option) clearly demonstrates that he has disregarded the rights of the trans students, specifically the right to access education. This isn’t an issue of two peers in disagreement. This is an issue of a person in a position of authority openly admitting he will abuse that authority to single out certain students.

This is what the U of T faculty were referring to in their letter, that as an educator he has a “responsibility to follow the law and follow U of T policies.” If the U of T doesn’t want to be known as a school that deliberately creates barriers for a certain class of students, it is compelled to repudiate Dr. Peterson. Dr. Peterson has admitted he knows this. He’s tapping into the martyr complex of the far-right by throwing himself on the sword, proving that the “SJWs” and “radical-leftists” are out to get him, when in reality we recognize that he is compromising a number of rights that trans people theoretically have, which have less to do with pronouns and more to do with accessing the same education everybody else can get. They will blame us for the target he painted on his own back.

There’s no guarantee how this will go. Being tenured, it will be next to impossible to actually turf Peterson. But the U of T also has the right to recognize the effect his spastic, howling, attention-seeking episode has had on trans students.

Ultimately what the freeze peach crowd wants is freedom from consequences, as evidenced by their obsession with Peterson. They want their prejudice against trans people to go unchallenged. Peterson is just a convenient screen onto which these anxieties are projected. That’s why it’s not about the legalities of Bill C-16: If they could be bothered to do their homework on Canada’s hate crime legislation, they’d see the threshold you have to cross to be charged. Since I doubt so many of them are publicly posting plans for school shootings, I also doubt any of them will ever face legal consequences for their actions.

And so we resort to social consequences. You know, the things like “that isn’t corroborated by the evidence,” “that’s not true,” “the study doesn’t say that,” “citation needed,” “that’s incredibly rude,” “there’s no reason to believe that,” that sort of thing?

Hardly the disappearing act of the KGB these freeze peachers so fearfully anticipate.

-Shiv

I’m not ____ist, but: A note on so-called moderates

The so-called moderate conservatives in Alberta have a lot of criticisms of the current NDP government. There is a common refrain that Notley was only elected to punish the arrogant Jim Prentice, the former leader of the now defunct “Progressive” Conservatives. I don’t doubt that there are a lot of uninformed voters who cast their ballot in this fashion–this candidate is an asshole, this candidate smiles nice–but they seem to miss the part where many of us voted for Notley because the Albertan NDP had a mostly sane, mostly evidence-based platform.

I’m glad to see that these so called moderate conservatives care about such issues as poverty, unemployment, rampant drug addictions, violent crime, sex trafficking, palliative care, overburdened healthcare providers, enormous class sizes, and so on. But increasingly I am noticing a pattern where actually resolving these issues with time tested methods is met with vocal objections by these moderates.

Canadian oil isn’t as attractive as it used to be, so fewer people are buying it, which means oil companies engaged in massive lay offs to protect their bottom lines in response to the tanking value of their commodity. This isn’t a new phenomenon. It happened under the previous government every few years, too. The nature of Alberta’s oil-dependent economy has always meant being extremely vulnerable to the whims of the global market since it’s the only thing we’re selling that rakes in the big bucks. And if nobody’s buying?

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Moderate Religion: I don’t care

I know this will be a somewhat contentious statement given who participates on this network, but when it comes to capital-M Moderates in religion, I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong, I am suspicious of faith placed in a concept that cannot be tested or observed. But I am not automatically opposed to faith per se. Faith seems to be a fairly healthy bedrock for relationships, for example, and it is seen as acceptable–expected, even–to have faith in one’s romantic partners. To be skeptical of your partner’s pursuits and goals and dreams is to be an asshole, a wet blanket, a ball and chain that holds them down; you’ll apply faith if you don’t have certainty on what those pursuits will look like if you’re being a supportive partner.

So faith, conceptually, is not that bad in my opinion. And more often than not, if you query a Moderate congregation, they’re more likely to be pretty on the fence about the God issue, but they’ll have often invested faith in their communities. They trust their leaders to advise them on issues such as honesty, relationships, self-esteem–and because we’re discussing Moderates, sometimes the advice is alright. Indeed, in Moderate congregations, where just about anyone can ask to lead a gathering, you’ll get people of all kinds of educational and professional backgrounds giving advice on these topics without mentioning the Bible or Quran or Torah once.

I make a habit out of visiting religious institutions every so often. Moderate congregations have a lot in common, be they Christians, Muslim, or Jewish. With the Jewish and Muslim and Eastern European Orthodox Moderate gatherings in particular, the conversation is just as much cultural as it is faith-based. The participants are united by a sense of Otherness, of being alien, and at least part of their participation is simply wishing to stay connected with their cultural roots while they carry on with their Canadian lives elsewhere. I’ve even been in Moderate gatherings where they have openly admitted a values dissonance with the origin culture, Mosques admitting the Islamic Republics from which many of those gathered came carried out brutal human rights violations. Of course, the gathering nodded along; many of them fled those same republics for that exact reason. The younger generation seemed less sure–they had always known Canada, and their congregations weren’t spewing constant hellfire over Queers.

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Comments Policy

The first comment you post on Against the Grain is automatically sent into moderation. This is to bring your commentary to my attention. There are a number of things I have little patience for on this blag, detailed below, and if you run afoul of them your comment may be edited, filtered out, or your account banned altogether. Your participation is contingent on the following:

1. Stay on topic

If your first instinct is to change the subject, you’ll likely be called on it. If I start a conversation about the angles Jesse Singal employs in his trans-antagonistic journalism, braying on about this obscure murder committed 30 years ago by a trans woman is not relevant.

2. Make disagreements about the argument

Attack the argument. Question its premises, or question the logical construction. I am not generally fond of attacking the arguer as opposed to the argument. On a related note…

3. Definitely no hate speech

Ad hominems usually net you warnings, unless you employ language that singles out a person’s immutable characteristics as inherently inferior or undesirable, in which case I toss you out. This includes but is not limited to language demeaning gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, sex, etc.

4. No Points Refuted a Thousand Times

My material on trans issues is occasionally repetitive because the opponents to trans rights offer repetitive discourse. If something was wrong six months ago, it remains wrong today unless new information has been produced. So no, I am not going to tailor-suit a refutation to something that has already been shown to be bunk nonsense, and reciting these points uncritically will not impress me.

Some PRATTs relevant to this blog include:

Yes, this tedious, fact-free nonsense tends to repeat itself.

Note that bringing up a PRATT doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from the comments, if and only if you can introduce new information that wasn’t discussed the first time.

5. Breaking these rules on other blogs on the network will also get you banned.

I regularly read the works of my colleagues, so even if you aren’t accountable to my conditions on their blog, you’re still subject to them when you come to mine. A history of violating the above conditions elsewhere will generally burn any goodwill I might otherwise assume when you pop up in moderation.

-Shiv