I thought the Section 28 boat set sail already

Section 28 was a British law until 2000 that required government authorities to censor and omit any information on homosexuality. Nearly two decades after its repeal, gay Brits lambasted the law for the damage it caused it in their youth–the deafening silence of the resources available to them led many to believe something was inherently wrong with them. Its heinous effects haven’t deterred the press from quoting Section 28 arguments verbatim, only this time against trans people.

[Read more…]

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

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

The High and Holy Church of Both Sides preaches on gender variance

Crip Dyke has a stupendous analysis on the trainwreck calling itself “An Argument for a Liberal and Rational Approach to Transgender Rights and Inclusion.” Like Crip, I was made aware of the piece through Trav at Bi Any Means, as well as their article for Splice Today Also like Crip, I thought Trav was a bit mild when they describe the piece as “missing the mark.” Crip goes into detail about the blinkered arrogance required to style oneself rational whilst equivocating trans feminists and anti-trans hatemongers. Content notice for trans-antagonistic nonsense quoted & characterized by Crip for the purposes of criticism:

Take, for example, their second premise. They don’t actually quote anyone saying the things they suggest are believed by one “extreme” side. I have no doubt that they could find such quotes if they wanted, but it still would not help them because they simply and utterly fail to show any evidence that they understand why there is such a divide between people who believe that some people are deluded about their genders and others believe the first group are horribly wrong.

Consider the feminists among those who belong (as much as anyone belongs) to anti-trans* faction described by the authors. While there are those who, more or less, would describe trans*-asserted gender identities as false (very few use “delusion”) do so because they believe that gender is sex and sex is gender. To produce sperm is to be male biologically, and I don’t know of any trans* persons who would contest that. The question is whether this is all that it takes to make one a man. There are trans* advocates (yes on freethoughblogs, even) who use the word female to describe trans* women and male to describe trans* men, but this is a considered position. It’s not an inability to understand that some people are born with uteruses. It’s stressing that the social relationships are primary and, since most of the time we don’t know what someone else’s genitals look like and nearly all the time we don’t have first hand chances to examine another’s chromosomes or genome, “male” should be used in a way similar to how “men” is used. It’s a position that is in part a reaction to the victimization of trans* people by non-trans* folk, and it does flow out of reasoning that finds past definitions of male and female inadequate, but it’s not a delusion.

What is on display is a disagreement about definitions, about what words mean and what they communicate (intentionally or not). You could find the most extreme anti-trans* feminists and the most extreme pro-trans* activists and if you got them to adopt a single definition for the purposes of communicating for a day, no one in the room would have trouble actually using the definition correctly. This isn’t about how trans* people are initially perceived. It’s about how they are categorized and how the socially-constructed categories of man and woman and male and female and trans (and many others) are defined. It’s about how people think these words are best used. Frankly, I’ve met many a trans*-exclusive radical feminist who demonstrated more knowledge of these important issues than Pluckrose and Lindsay, so I’m not sure what the authors use to justify thinking they have anything to contribute if they are not more informed than at least one of the factions that they consider to be ruining the possibilities for fruitful communication.

As I said in Crip’s thread: *chef finger kisses.*

Read more of Crip here or Trav here (or here).

Lastly the “High and Holy Church of Both Sides” is a term coined by American political commentator driftglass, who is, to put it mildly, exasperated with the Beltway’s capacity to equivocate Republican crimes against humanity with Democrat incompetence. I thought comparing “stop killing me” to “I want trans people to die” would be an apt application of the concept.

-Shiv

Edit October 17: I format html like a profeshunal.

Siobhan in The Establishment: How the Media’s Bullshit ‘Both Sides’ Punditry Harms Trans People

On May 15, 2017, a Medium user published an article to her personal handle arguing — among many other things — that the presence of trans women in women’s spaces constituted an act of aggression, and that the vocabulary proposed by trans men to describe themselves “erased” cis women.

Despite the rather extreme premises assumed in the piece, a feminist publication by the name of Athena Talks decided to pick it up shortly after it was posted, resulting in a second round of sharing among feminist outlets.

I am, unfortunately, rather used to having my mere presence likened to violence. Calling myself a feminist as a trans woman has meant that I’ve had to share spaces with people who argue, in all seriousness, that my health care is a conspiracy theory to eradicate gay people.

What I haven’t acclimatized to is the practice of abandoning any commitment to discovery or knowledge, something that seems distressingly widespread in media practices today. Because what Athena Talks did next also follows a well-established pattern: They published another article that was critical of the first piece, without any acknowledgement that the arguments previously presented were both based on inaccuracies and illogically constructed.


[Read more…]

Irony, thy name is the Guardian

A headline from the Milo affair last week in the Guardian reads: Milo Yiannopoulos’s enablers deserve contempt – and must be confronted.

The irony? This is the same rag that keeps enabling Sarah Ditum and Julie Bindel.

So you’ll forgive me, Guardian, if I am somewhat skeptical of your seemingly newfound defense of trans people. While your writers are calling for confrontation with reactionary transphobes, I have to wonder if the other editors in your company are getting the same memo.

-Shiv

Liars citing liars

This is starting to get exhausting:

Earlier this year, the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) issued a position statement rejecting transgender kids. Now, the fake medical organization that exists solely to oppose abortion and LGBT equality — not to be confused with the legitimate American Academy of Pediatricians — has published a more extensive manifesto denying the reality that some kids are transgender and benefit from being respected in those identities.

ACP’s thesis is founded on false statements that begin appearing by the second sentence of the document. Here are 14 claims the ACP makes about kids’ gender identities that are either unsupportable or directly contradicted by the available research:

Fucking seriously. I’m so done. No amount of fact checking penetrates these fucking brickheads, and there are rubes who will blindly accept the ACP’s myth-riddled manifesto. You can’t take a sieve and claim you have a fucking bucket!

At the core of it all, once again: Disagreement over what constitutes a good outcome. Cisgender child, or happy child regardless of their gender? ACP thinks the lens of analysis should not be ethics or psychiatry, but normativity. 

Read the rest here. I’m gonna snap soon. We have had this conversation over and over and over and over and over. And thanks to the ACP, we’ll keep having to have the conversation over and over and over again, and it’ll keep going nowhere, because critical thinking is in short fucking supply apparently.

And unlike myths about conceptsthese fuckers are influencing the lives of people. Real kids. They’re antagonizing proven healthcare models that help trans people function. This isn’t just some bogus creationist getting facts about physical sciences wrong, this is a lobby trying to pound a certain class of people into the ground. They would see us straddled with widespread discrimination and an illness eating us up from the inside to be treated with torture and shame. That’s their idea of medicine–treating cancer with snake oil and polio with bloodletting. Let’s bring back the quackery of humors while we’re at it and restore the good ol’ days when people still died of fucking dysentery.

Jesus H Christ.

-Shiv

By what measure of “effective”?

While reading some of Julia Serano’s work, there was one statement she made about the battle between gender-affirmation treatment models and gender-antagonistic treatment models pointed out by anat in our comments that made me take a second (actually fifth or sixth) look: (emphasis mine)

We can continue to debate the efficacy of gender transition, or of gender-reparative versus gender-affirming approaches, and each side will be able to find statistics to support their side of the argument. But what is really driving this debate is a difference of opinion with regards to what constitutes a “good outcome.” Trans activists and advocates like myself generally think that a good outcome is a happy child, regardless of whether they transition or not, or whether they grow up to be transsexual, non-binary, gender non-conforming, lesbian, gay, bisexual, etcetera. Trans-antagonistic and trans-suspicious people (who constantly cite “80% desistance”) seem to think that a good outcome is a cisgender child, and they seem to be willing to make transphobic arguments and subject transgender and gender non-conforming children to clinically ordained transphobia (i.e., gender-reparative therapies) in order to achieve that end goal.

I’ve certainly tried to explain how frustrating the media can be when it comes to covering trans issues, including trans research. In addition to the media, trans women* have to contend from misinformation perpetuated by religious fundamentalists and/or TERFs as well as academics whose work is completely imbecilic. Common among the many, many groups that antagonize trans women is a refrain that transitioning doesn’t “fix” anything, sometimes citing (when they remember evidence should back up their claims) a Swedish longitudinal study following two cohorts of transgender women over the course of several decades. The Swedish study found that many of the health outcomes of trans women were still poor after transitioning, including gender affirmation surgery.

The problem, of course, is that the numerous trans-antagonistic lobbies didn’t actually finish reading the paper. The primary author of the Swedish study, Cecilia Dhejne, is not pleased with the way her work has been hijacked by motivated reasoners:

[Read more…]

Academic transphobia and The Media: The persistence of the “activists vs science” false dichotomy

Content Notice: Transphobia

Introduction to the False Dichotomy of Scientist or Activist

The rise of visibility of transgender people correlates with an increase in the sheer and committed dishonesty of many media outlets any time they cover trans issues. There are the usual suspects: budding radfem academics penning unsubstantiated diatribes riddled with fallacies; established academics angrily penning burning letters to the editor any time their pet pseudoscience is called out for being pseudoscience; religious fundamentalists who can’t decide if they’re sticking to noninformation or disinformation; and the many ignorant journalists caught in between this shitstorm. Many of these trans-antagonistic figures are represented by said ignorant journalists as “martyrs for an inconvenient truth,” where trans-affirmative opponents to these figures are engaging in “pointless witch hunts” that result in these brave champions being “suddenly and unceremoniously fired” while repudiating Real Science™.

Jesse Singal is at the centre of this “activist versus Real Science™” narrative by implying both that activists were the ones that had Galileo’s Middle Finger pulled from Lambda and that said activists are uninterested in “truth, accuracy, or fairness in argument,” having shared on Twitter:

“Lambda Literary has withdrawn Alice Dreger’s book from consideration for its nonfiction literary award. The (very strongly) implied message here is that you can’t be an advocate for social justice and care about the principles of truth, accuracy, and fairness in argument.”

He also penned an article about Dr. Zucker, a notorious conversion “therapy” advocate who was finally discredited and shut down in Ontario after decades of abusing gender nonconforming kids. In this piece, Singal pushes the narrative that anti-science activists are at fault for the clinic’s closure: (emphasis mine)

[Read more…]