Media debates

Juno Roche reflects on the sustained onslaught of misinformation published lately about trans people, especially in the British press. While I’m a bit dubious as to how their reflection concludes, I thought I’d still share it:

Then something changed. People started to ask more questions about the spaces in which trans bodies, they felt, might collide with theirs, with others, with cis bodies. How would we manage the spaces in which we might mix; toilets, changing rooms, prisons, swimming pools, marriages, beds, dating? The question of how would we keep these spaces safe started to become a narrative – first innocent and then toxic.

Often I’d sit in a room discussing trans pupils and their aspirations, and the toilet issue would come up. Somehow the trans pupil, often between the ages of eight and 15, would change from being brave and wonderful, to being perceived as a danger – a potential rapist, aggressor, abuser or assaulter. I defended these pupils, feeling that people would realise the spite inherent in their often hysterical unfounded fears. And so I would bat back and forth: the facts we had that there had been no cases of trans children abusing others, in fact quite the opposite; trans kids being bullied right across schools; trans kids dropping out of school and becoming fearful non-attendees. I felt that if I presented the truth and a sense of moral reality around these brave kids, then there would be an end to the panic and a sense and sensibility would be restored. But then the insidious concept of ‘trans femme as dishonest male danger’ started to grow legs and leave the playground, the myth splashed across the news.

It only takes one voice to make that happen.

Read more here.

-Shiv

How the dark net’s radicalization works

It’s not exactly a secret that 4chan and its derivatives have been cesspools for Literally Nazi recruitment, bleeding into other interests that would have been styled “nerdy” 15 years ago, such as gaming and comic books. Caught in between these various sub-interests are the often maligned “furries”–participants of fiction and art focusing on anthropomorphic animal characters. Furry communities have been undergoing a largely unnoticed explicit project to redirect those in their community away from white supremacist radicalization, and ostracize those too far in to salvage. One such member, Deo, has written about some of the indoctrination techniques that radicalize these nerdy young white men in the hopes that her peers can recognise this process.

Content notice: Nazi tropes and, if you click on the link, Nazi imagery, genocidal aspirations, and chat logs of indoctrinal programming. (paragraph breaks added for readability)

Isolated, lonely, insecure, unfulfilled, bitter young men who feel that society at large has abandoned them and denies them the opportunities they feel entitled to are prime targets. White supremacist recruiters approach these angry young men and tell them that they are special and have a greater destiny. They are told that every white man carries this legacy mantle of superiority because every white man bears the lineage of advancements and accomplishments of all white men throughout history. That every white man is imbued by his fore fathers with an important destiny to defend the white race. Thus the lonely NEET need not achieve anything himself to still hold this position of power and supremacy, his accomplishments that the recruiter can flatter him for is simply that he was born with white skin.

These tactics transform nerdy bullied young men into proud white warriors, making them useful tools for the promotion and growth of the white supremacist ideology and agenda. Neo-Nazi groups know utilizing the insecurity and loneliness in their targets is an effective recruiting and radicalizing tactic especially when tailored to the large audience of socially awkward internet nerds.

Another key strategy in white supremacist recruitment are online communities that warmly welcoming in new members, once lured into such a group the recruit is given a surge of support, validation, and esteem boosting. The new members are told they belong, that they may not fit in real life social cliques but that they fit into this group, and that the other group members care about them. Hours will be invested in grooming the new recruit, befriending and talking with them. Active chats are appealing to those who are bored and isolated and only want some human contact but have trouble getting it elsewhere due to social awkwardness.

The white supremacist group offers a sense of community and belonging and slowly cultivates in the recruit into a sense of loyalty towards the group. For those desperate for friendship or to feel included this is an incredibly potent lure. These groups can have darker tactics as well, with leaders telling their members that they cannot leave or return to people outside of the group. Many reasons are given but most commonly this inability to leave is posed as there being some boogeyman outsider, like “SJWs”, will eventually toss them out, bully them, ostracize them, or attack them. Leaving the group is framed to members as ruining their only chance at fun, true friendship, or inclusion. Members are told they must remain in the group because within the group is the only place it is safe to express themselves freely, that their opinions are too radical to be accepted elsewhere, or that their ‘truth’ will be brutally suppressed by outsiders, and within the group are the only people who will ever accept them. The outside world is cast as some nebulously ominous power that is held back from harming the member only by the protection of the group. All of this forges fear and friendship together into chains that trap people into toxic white supremacist spaces.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Friendly fire

I mentioned in my last “real” published piece that a lot of self-declared left leaning media outlets were seriously shitting the bed in their coverage of trans issues. As it turns out, one of the mother’s anonymously interviewed for one of the pieces I criticized–Katie Herzog’s “They Were Transgender–Until they Weren’t”–has echoed many of my concerns.

I didn’t pull this two-in-one-hundred ratio out of nowhere. I got it from the articles themselves, which both quote a Swedish study in which just 2.2 percent of transgender people experienced “transition regret.” That means the other 97.8 percent didn’t. Herzog cites a therapist who had worked with transgender clients for more than 20 years, who “knows of only one client who fully transitioned and then later detransitioned.” (Let me just restate that: One client in twenty years.) The program manager of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic told Herzog that they have “never had a patient fully transition and then transition back.” (Never? Never.) And both articles point out that the number of people who regret their nose jobs is eight times greater than transgender people who regret their medical transitions. It’s actually kind of bizarre how these authors carry on about the perils of transition while simultaneously citing statistics and quoting experts that illustrate the rarity of both transition regret and detransition.

Perhap the most troubling feature of both of these articles is that they are, strictly speaking, largely “true” (with the notable exception of the bogus 66-80 percent statistic). Yes, some people change their minds. Yes, peer pressure exists. Yes, transition is not without its risks and complications. These are all important points to make. What’s wrong here is that the choices the authors have made about what to include and not to include add up to a highly misleading whole, one that makes transition look a lot scarier and more controversial than it actually is. When you’re telling a story, everything hangs on which details you include and which ones you leave out. For example, Herzog and McCann both highlight the potential health risks of taking cross-hormones, but make no mention of the far greater health risks that transgender people face: The widespread lack of access to any kind of quality medical care, let alone health care that is responsive to the particular needs of transgender patients. They also makes no mention of the alarmingly high rate of suicide attempts among trans people (upwards of 40 percent; but this rate goes down when people are able to transition). I’d call suicide a pretty significant health risk, wouldn’t you? Nor do either of them mention the fact that research shows children who transition exhibit levels of psychological health indistinguishable from their cisgender peers. In pieces that purport to be represent balanced presentations of the pros and cons of supporting the transition of young people, surely this kind of information merits inclusion, no?

It’s a long read (cis journalists come up with a lot of bullshit!), but there is more here.

-Shiv

Catchy

No full post for today (as usual, this means I’m tied up with a bigger project for you to enjoy later!). So you get some Miss Kookie instead:

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The media when your mere existence is a political act

I’ve signal boosted before some of the horrific consequences imposed on transgender folks just for being themselves, and today I have another great piece by Katelyn Burns on the media’s part in that:

But Maines is a pioneer of sorts: In 2009, his family filed suit against their school district for the right for their then-nine-year-old trans daughter, Nicole, to use the girl’s bathroom. They were the first family to successfully sue in a state court for such a right. But along with the lawsuit—and their subsequent advocacy against a bathroom bill proposed in the Maine legislature—came a lot of media attention.

Maines says the bathroom bill kickstarted his activism, and since then he has risen to the forefront of advocacy for families with trans kids, getting involved with GLAAD and serving on the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council. He’s written numerous op-eds, writing of his decision to leave the GOP for TIME and getting involved in public speaking on trans rights with his daughter.

“When you get pushed into a corner you start to do things that you really should be doing, anyway,” he says. “It’s a release to finally say in public, ‘Yes this is my daughter, and we need to protect her, and everybody else like her.’”

For many parents of trans children, the impulse towards self-advocacy pulls the whole family into the media spotlight. And with trans people targeted by conservative politicians and radical feminists alike who seek to exclude them from public life, it’s getting harder to separate trans identity from activism. Often a trans person’s mere existence is a political act.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Sex addiction is not real

Or so sayeth Dr. Chris Donaghue. Psychiatry’s sordid history with pathologizing ordinary sexual behaviour sees its continuation with the term “sex addiction,” cited often by sociopaths attempting to justify their actions:

Last week Harvey Weinstein announced he was checking himself into rehab for sex addiction. His behavior is clearly problematic, but so is the use of the term “sex addiction.” And as a sex therapist, I’ve been battling this misunderstood and misused term for over a decade.

Not only is calling someone a sex addict a convenient way to write off being a sexual predator and lacking empathy, but it’s also an attempt at trying to rehab a career. Sex addiction is not real.

In the media, sex addiction is a relatively new concept, and is used as a culturally sanctioned shaming mechanism for people whose sexuality makes others anxious and eager to eradicate. It allows us to avoid exploring why our partner cheated on us, why we no longer have sex, why we hate pornography, or why sex scares us. If our partner or friend has sex more frequently than we are comfortable with, or in ways that upset us, we can just call them a sex addict and make the problem about them.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Don’t accept scraps from the rich

While Canadian media are busily fawning over pictures of Trudeau bottle-feeding an orphan otter, we’re catching wind from the latest rich people leak showing that Liberals are not exempt from the same greed Conservatives exhibit, they’re just better at hiding it:

A key aide of Canada’s PM is linked to offshore schemes that may have cost the nation millions of dollars in taxes, the Paradise Papers show.

The revelations may embarrass Justin Trudeau, who has campaigned against tax havens.

The leaks pose questions about the actions of Stephen Bronfman, chief fundraiser for Mr Trudeau’s Liberal Party as well as ex-senator Leo Kolber.

Lawyers for them said no deals had tried to evade tax and all were legal.

Canadian broadcaster, CBC, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have been spearheading this investigation as part of the Paradise Papers leaks.

They said a trove of documents found in the files of Appleby, the offshore law firm that is the main source of the leaks, suggested that Mr Bronfman’s investment firm, Claridge, had for more than 20 years moved millions offshore for the Kolber family.

I’ll concede that there is a difference between the Kicking 500 Puppies Party and the Kicking 1000 Puppies Party–500 puppies, to be precise–but that doesn’t change the fact that the Kicking 500 Puppies Party has been banking on the thoroughly uninspiring talking point that it kicks 500 fewer puppies than the other guy.

How many trolleyology experiments do you have to run before you start asking who is tying people to the rails?

-Shiv

Meghan TERFy licks a frozen pole

Alternatively: Bites off more than she can chew, etc. Meghan Murphy, the intellectual bankrupt fountain of bile running Feminist Current, recently took a swipe at trans historian Cristan Williams. Williams is no stranger to trans exclusionary feminist bullshit, however, and published a comprehensive fact-check of Murphy’s nonsense:

I began encountering the “TERF is a slur” slogan in 2013, around a year after the political Right experienced a measure of success with its 2012 “homophobe is a slur” campaign.

The case was made that when discussing anti-queer hate in the news and anti-bullying efforts in schools, the term “homophobia” should not be used to describe the very specific type of anti-queer hate and oppression faced by LGBTQIA people because the term was an offensive slur.

By the end of 2012, the Associate Press banned the term “homophobe” from its news coverage and right-wing religious groups were working to ban the term in anti-bullying school materials because, they claimed, “homophobe” was a “made-up” term that promotes “hate and contempt for Christians.”

Without terms like “homophobe” and “homophobia,” the queer community’s ability to communicate and reference a specific anti-gay culture is hobbled, caged inside of rhetorical parameters defined by those who work to empower anti-gay culture. After “homophobe” and “homophobia” were deemed by a heteronormative culture to be too toxic to use, the queer community’s languaging of the hate it faced each day disappeared from most mainstream media use.

Around this time, TERFs began pushing the false history that “TERF” was coined by trans people as a slur. Note how this rhetoric closely mimics the 2012 right-wing rhetoric that “homophobe” was a “made-up” term that promotes “hate and contempt for Christians.”

Makes ya think.

Read more here.

-Shiv