At this point the anti-trans crowd isn’t shy about lying through their fucking teeth

Lydia Bilton (nor her editor, for that matter) couldn’t even make it one article without contradicting herself.

An expert gets it wrong? Do tell.

Journalism pro-tip:

The mom

is not

an expert

And frankly, she’s blaming the doctors because she didn’t follow their orders. That’s bad enough, if she wasn’t trying to “warn” people about the fucking healthcare regime that she deliberately defied.

Fuck off, 9News, and fuck you, Ali.

-Shiv

 

 

Seriously, the conveyor belt of transition is not a thing

Shortly after BBC did their dog-awful anti-trans hit piece on trans kids, I contacted a gender affirmative practitioner to hear from her directly as to what her clinic’s treatment methodology is like. For those of you just coming in, “gender affirmation” is a method of clinically approaching gender questioning, gender role non-conforming, and transgender youth in a way that is more likely to produce resilient adults for all three populations. They’ll all have differing needs, but one of the biggest differences between this practice and the gatekeeping systems of, for example, Kenneth Zucker, is the abandonment of “Doctor Knows Best.” The client leads the way, the clinician listens rather than interrogates.

As Dr. Ehrensaft explains, gender role non-conforming children mostly need counselling to deal with the inevitable bullying, but there is no inherent pathology to non-conformance–nothing needs to be “fixed,” and there is no intervention except for the effects of bullying. Gender questioning children may need vocabulary and informed consent on what their range of options are to help them explicitly articulate their internal goings-on. Minors who have persistently and insistently identified with a gender not in correspondence with their assigned sex are given the option of puberty blocking and hormone replacements. For these populations (questioning, insistently transgender) the intervention may be halted or stopped altogether.

You wouldn’t know that, though, if you only got your information from Jesse Singal or Sarah Ditum, who have hand-wrung and grieved over all the cis children being erroneously transed at the first sign of nonconforming behaviour. This isn’t a thing that happens but don’t let that stop your imagination.

Zinnia Jones reviews some of the literature on puberty blocking.

But in recent years, some anti-trans advocates have claimed that puberty blockers should not be considered reversible, alleging that all youth who take blockers will inevitably go on to transition. Others have speculated that these medications may in some way affect the natural development of a child’s gender identity, making it more likely that they will transition when they otherwise would not have done so. Michelle Cretella, president of the transphobic American College of Pediatricians activist group, has asserted that “There are no cases in the scientific literature of gender-dysphoric children discontinuing blockers”, and Paul McHugh coauthored an article in The New Atlantis making this developmental argument at length:

The lack of data on gender dysphoria patients who have withdrawn from puberty-suppressing regimens and resumed normal development raises again the very important question of whether these treatments contribute to the persistence of gender dysphoria in patients who might otherwise have resolved their feelings of being the opposite sex. As noted above, most children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria will eventually stop identifying as the opposite sex. The fact that cross-gender identification apparently persists for virtually all who undergo puberty suppression could indicate that these treatments increase the likelihood that the patients’ cross-gender identification will persist.

Such concerns are heavy on questions, but short on answers. As it turns out, these claims range from unsupported to outright false, and have already been extensively addressed in the literature on treatment of trans youth.

I’m really not trying to be melodramatic here, but seriously, the anti-trans crowd lies. A lot.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Your editorial guidelines on trans people need major surgery

The few corporate media outlets out there that are even slightly not-hostile to trans people routinely make egregious editorial choices when they write about trans people. Publishing our prior names (especially if we were not a public figure before we transitioned), objectifying our bodies, pigeon-holing us, focusing on surgery (especially when the trans person’s personal life is irrelevant to the article–e.g. Chelsea Manning), not respecting our boundaries or requests, not consulting us on how we wish to be referred to pre-transition, or just in general not consulting us at all as participants in your piece–this is just a short example of the ways these marginally not-hostile outlets dehumanize their trans subjects, even if their slant is intended to be sympathetic.

So here’s another editorial guideline. GLAAD has one but doesn’t explain why its provisions are important. The Radical Copyeditor spells it out for you.

The purpose of this guide is to help people of all gender identities and experiences practice more care toward those on the margins. Trans people must be understood as the authorities on ourselves and the language used to describe us. Not only does this mean that cisgender (non-trans) people need to practice humility and care toward trans people, but it also means that trans people—particularly those with educational, financial, and/or racial privilege—need to practice humility and care toward other trans people—particularly those who are folks of color, low-income, less educated, and/or elders.

If you are trans, I highly recommend inoculating yourself against the temptation to police other trans people’s language by reading “words don’t kill people, people kill words” and the glossary introduction “there is no perfect word,” both by Julia Serano, as well as “I Was Recently Informed I’m Not a Transsexual,” by Riki Wilchins.

A final note: Like all style guides, what follows is about language usage, not definitions; for a comprehensive glossary of transgender-related terminology, check out this one from Julia Serano.

The short of it is: Actually ask us what language we use to refer to ourselves. Not so difficult.

Read more here.

-Shiv

 

And then what?

Suppose I were to accept one of the common rallying cries of trans-antagonism: “Trans is a mental disorder.” I can completely sidestep the semantics of what should qualify as a “disorder” simply by replying “Sure. And then what?” There’s never any clear roadmap. “Therapy.” Well I went to therapy. That’s why I transitioned. >_>

It’s a simple and superficially appealing line of reasoning. It’s also completely wrong.

Those making this argument seek to apply the expertise of psychology and psychiatry – yet they wholly disregard the expert consensus of those fields on the treatment of gender dysphoria. The American Psychiatric Association, publisher of the DSM, stated in a 2012 report that “Overall, the evidence suggests that sex reassignment is associated with an improved sense of well-being in the majority of cases”, and “Gender transition can foster social adjustment, improve self-esteem, and relieve the anxiety and mood symptoms that can accompany gender dysphoria” (Byne et al., 2012). In a position statement, the APA concluded that transition is beneficial and medically necessary (Drescher, Haller, & APA Caucus of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Psychiatrists, 2012):

Zinnia Jones discusses 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

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Autogynephilia: A method of character assassination, not a scientific theory

Content Notice: Trans-antagonistic nonsense of many varieties.

Miranda Yardley has, much to my despair, started clogging the “transgender” tag on Medium, which is one of many ways I try to track what is being discussed about gender variance. For those of you who don’t know her–congratulations, count yourself lucky–she’s a self-described “transsexual male” who has politically aligned herself with a group of people who gleefully argue for her own subordination. She gallivants about the United Kingdom, coasting in on the benefits hard won for her by trans activism, all while arguing how harmful trans activism is. It’s the sort of hypocritical blinkered nonsense you typically see from the forced-birther movement, who often access the very services they protest. She is, basically, a British Blaire White, carving out a niche in profiting from telling the trans-suspicious what they want to hear while being simultaneously trans. This includes her latest invocation of one of the anti-trans types’ favourite cudgel: Autogynephilia, an idea (calling it a “theory” would be an insult to science) promoted by Dr. Ray “transsexuals will sort themselves out later” Blanchard.

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Liberal transphobia

Sam Riedel has a good review of recent events which are representative of a broader pattern: Trans folk have a very uneasy alliance with left-leaning people in general, because left-leaning people in general haven’t shed the kyriarchy’s nasty habit of scapegoating us.

Much of my marching time was spent exhorting bystanders to cheer for trans rights. As we passed the iconic Stonewall Inn, I turned once again to my right and screamed “If you have rights because of trans women of color, make some fucking noise!” Hoots and cheers ensued, and we proceeded on our way.

Little did I know that less than two hours later, when #NoJusticeNoPrideactivists blocked the tail end of the parade to call attention to violence against trans women of color, deportations, and the ongoing corporatization of Pride, 12 of them would be arrested by the NYPD. As those same Pride bystanders — standing outside the bar where Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, “The Saint of Christopher Street,” resisted arrest and started a riotthat would change the world — watched the arrests, they cheered again. Not for the protesters, but for the police. Judging from photos, at least one of those arrested was a transfeminine person of color.

The message, though unintentional, was clear: The cisgender Left, those who claim to support trans people and our struggle for civil rights (and who make up the vast majority of those at NYC Pride), are quick to cheer our oppressors when that support becomes inconvenient. Bystanders were happy to acknowledge Pride’s sociopolitical roots as long as that acknowledgment was brief and didn’t get in the way of celebrating. As soon as political statements became an inconvenience, their support was swiftly withdrawn. Similar protests took place at other Pride events; D.C. attendees were quoted in the Washington Post yelling “Shame!” and “You’re going to ruin the parade!” to #NoJusticeNoPride activists.

I imagine this is what strategists feel like when one of their pieces is erratic and prone to flying off the chess board. I’ve certainly had to swallow a few bitter pills any time I dip my toe in to local anarchist organizing–the tendency to view any and all institutions as having no justifiable function results in some theories based on conspicuously thin evidence–and I’ve had anarchists rather bizarrely claim that I am victim to the Illuminati “BigPharma.” They don’t seem to understand that the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest ethical problems are related to patents, intellectual property, and ownership; how these concepts interact with distribution or lack thereof; and how that distribution is not being accorded to physical need. Instead, biochemistry and pharmacology as scientific disciplines are capitalist lies!11!!1

Okay, bro. I’ll be taking your eyeglasses now, since medical aides are all a profit-conspiracy.

Read more of Riedel’s review here.

-Shiv

Oh, the slightest criticism, obviously equivalent to being burned alive

You know whose breathless histrionics I haven’t enjoyed in a while? Jesse Singal’s.

I’ll share a little bit about Singal’s background here, because there’s a lot to unpack in Singal’s latest masterwank, “This is What a Modern Day Witch Hunt Looks Like” (a decidedly not burned cis white woman, apparently).

Back when Singal first started cluelessly meandering into trans issues, virtually every trans feminist academic I read approached him with kiddie gloves. Julia Serano gave an interview with him to help orient his slant on a Ken Zucker piece in relation to empirical evidence–he declined to use any of the information she provided. Same thing with Parker Molloy, who goes to great lengths to avoid calling Singal transphobic despite his omission of Molloy’s attempt to introduce the evidence to him. A blogger by the pseudonym of Cerberus has meticulously documented Singal’s foray into trans issues, and spends several years trying to patiently explain the sheer amount of denialism necessary to maintain the opinions Singal defends. Kelley Winters has tried to inform Singal (multiple times). Cristan Williams has tried to inform Singal. Zinnia Jones has tried to inform Singal. Casey Plett has tried to inform Singal. I’ve tried to inform Singal.

So I want to make it abundantly clear that Jesse Singal has had ample opportunity for respectful dialogue with trans feminists and gender psychiatrists, multiple offers of delicate hand-holding from advocates across multiple platforms of media, and dozens of attempts to offer clearer information for the purposes of his journalism.

It’s only under this context that I am now certain in saying Jesse Singal has exhausted any claim to good-faith argumentation. Singal is lying. More importantly, he knows he’s lying.

That brings us to Singal’s “witch hunt,” notably absent of any fires and show-trials constructed through Catch-22s and loaded misogyny. Rebecca Tuvel managed to get a dubiously sourced-and-argued article published in Hypatia comparing Rachel Dolezal’s bastardization of “transracialism” to gender variance (“transgenderism,” as the cis insist on calling it). Tuvel has, not without reason, taken some flack for it. Trans academics–you know, the people that actually study and live this stuff–still struggle to have our work taken seriously, especially in academic contexts, but hey, if you’re cis and have the right stamp on your certificate, you can coast straight through the uncritical editorial vision of (also cis) feminist editors. But Jesse Singal thinks our objections to Hypatia‘s publishing of Tuvel’s piece to be a witch hunt.

Cue my esteemed colleague, Crip Dyke, emphasis added by me:

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A familiar story

I have asked at multiple points in my time here on FTB whether those taking various anti-trans positions have bothered to read the material they claim to be criticizing. The answer, at this point, is most often “no,” but sadly ignorant cisgender editors of otherwise respectable media outlets continue to publish these dog awful jokes.

So how do they get away with it? Zinnia Jones explores that. Her answer–“through denialism.

This exercise, of searching outward from a given state of the world in order to map the many tendrils of its implications, can be a very efficient way of detecting errors, distortions, or outright nonsense. If you have an idea, does that idea imply anything about reality, or concretely connect to the world in any way? At which points does it come in contact with reality? Does it make testable predictions? Can it be disproven, and what would disprove it? What elements of the world changing would affect the validity of this idea?

The facts of the world generally don’t support transphobic arguments, and transphobes don’t really have the option of making robust arguments based on an honest assessment of the current state of our knowledge. They know this – they make use of this same technique of pondering counterfactuals. The difference is that they work backwards to fabricate an entirely new counter-reality, tailored to support their positions and vast enough that it can substitute for reality itself in a person’s mind. It’s called denialism: an entire ideological support system made to preserve a desired belief by rejecting the overwhelming evidence that would threaten this belief.

Denialism is wrongness with an infrastructure – ignorance with an armored shell, a whole fake world weaponized against the real world. Denialism can be observed in the various forms of “scientific” creationism, where facts of evolutionary biology and earth science contradicting certain readings of the Bible are targeted for incompetent rebuttal by non-experts working for various conservative Christian “institutes” of “creation research”, which is not a real field. It can be seen in climate change denialism, where the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming is discarded in favor of fringe nitpicking, oversimplified misunderstandings of the science, and so very many conspiracy theories.

Some forms of transphobia have grown so well-organized that they, too, now constitute an instance of denialism. Diethelm and McKee (2009) describe five core themes of the phenomenon of denialism:

Jones outlines the following themes of denialism, and just to help support her point, I’ll link to some of the works I’ve examined to corroborate them.

  1. Allegations of conspiracy are used as grounds to dismiss a well-established and consistent body of science.
  2. Fake experts are presented to lend apparent authority to denialist claims.
  3. Denialists will be extremely selective when it comes to the evidence and facts that they accept as valid.
  4. Standards for scientific findings are shifted in order to be practically impossible to meet.
  5. Shoddy arguments, fallacies, and deliberate misrepresentations are deployed to mislead the public.

As Jones concludes, if the factual arguments for transphobia existed, transphobes would just use them. Instead a heavy reliance on lies fiction gets them where they want to be.

-Shiv