A misogynist by any other name would smell just as putrid

On August 10 earlier this year, I concluded that the weakly supported theory of autogynephilia (AGP) remains popular among a certain subset of sexologists because of its utility for dismissing trans women. A careful look at the methodology that produced the theory quickly demonstrates its fatal flaws, and yet the theory is, to this day, occasionally cited as a reason to dismiss a trans woman’s opinion as unreliable. In brief review, the theory posits that there are two (and only two) etiologies by which gender dysphoria is produced in trans women: The first, the bizarre and easily falsified notion that it is easier to be a trans woman than an effeminate gay man; the second, sexual arousal at the thought of oneself as possessing culturally female attributes. The former are confusingly named “homosexual,” (as in women attracted to men), the latter “heterosexual” (as in women attracted to women). Science!

Ray Blanchard was only able to propose this conclusion by ignoring vast portions of his data and framing his subjects as liars, thus rendering his theory unfalsifiable when tested with his own methodology. The theory, naturally, doesn’t pan out when investigated by Blanchard’s peers.

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TERFs are misogynists? Say it ain’t so

File this under “I am so surprised by this news I literally died.”

In the grand scheme of Women Having Opinions About Things In Public, I have it really easy. The tireless harassment, often escalating into abuse and even threats, that many women (especially but not exclusively Black women and other women of color) deal with online, is enormously well-documented. The worst that’s ever happened to me is an exhausting days-long barrage of messages on all my social media profiles calling me every misogynistic or homophobic insult under the sun. It comes in waves; there are days—and I know this is unimaginable to many women writers—when nobody trolls me at all.

Most of the people who have sought me out to denigrate my character (rather than criticize my work, which is an entirely different kind of exchange) are right-wingers, anti-feminists, conservatives, anti-queer ideologues, or just open and unabashed misogynists. But because I believe transgender people exist and deserve safety and dignity, I also have more experience than I’d like being harassed (again, distinct from criticized) by people who describe themselves as feminists.

I’m still learning how to respond to trans hatred from ostensible feminists, though I’m well aware that the vitriol they direct my way is infinitesimal compared to what trans people have to contend with. It’s disorienting to encounter someone who claims to share your goal of liberation, but espouses reactionary hatred for your most deeply held ideals. But if anything, I’ve spent more time being harangued by trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) than by men.

Read more here.

-Shiv

TERFs aren’t above the Nazi playbook either

The thing about TERFs is that, as a trans woman, I cannot play optics with them. Many TERF theories craft elaborate narratives that paint my mere existence as a threat–there is literally nothing I can do that won’t be perceived as violent for someone steeped in these narratives. So I am not even slightly surprised when we can be assaulted at a rally and the footage of a 60 year-old TERF dragging a wisp of a teenager across concrete is held up as evidence of “trans violence.” (Apparently it’s impolite to not pass-out when one is being choked).

Stavvers noticed the meta-strategy here: It’s a page from modern Nazis.

What I want to point out is the similarity in tactics between the transmisogynists’ narrative, and tactics deployed successfully by Nazis. Our current face of Nazism–the alt right, neo-Nazis, the far right, whatever your style guide demands you call them–rather like to play the victim. When Richard Spencer got punched (lol) the Nazis were very keen to whine about it. When anti-fascist protesters come out to defend their communities, the Nazis, and their chum Donald Trump, are falling over themselves to denounce violence “on both sides”. Centrists are always eager to back up these narratives, because they love a good middle ground almost as much as they love pretending they’re not enablers of fascism.

This, of course, serves a purpose. It drags discussion away from “Nazis are bad, how can we stop them?” to “punching is bad”. It has been a Nazi tactic since Nazis were invented; Hitler rather liked to claim that he and his were victims of unprovoked violence from the people they wanted wiped out.

Now, transmisogynistic bigots have rather a lot in common with Nazis already. They both share an unhealthy fascination with trans people’s genitalia, where trans people pee, concern trolling about safety, and a general desire to see trans people eliminated entirely. They have been known to work together on certain projects, in particular surrounding “bathroom bills”. It seems, in their cosy discussion groups about how to ban trans people from public life, the transmisogynistic bigots and the Nazis have also been exchanging tactics.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Yep, transmisogyny: Still misogyny.

I googled the author of the piece I signal boosted yesterday, and to my delight found that she has also discussed the misogyny invoked in transmisogyny, highlighting one of the fundamental hypocrisies of trans exclusionary “radical feminism.”

Once I had an argument with a cis dude acquaintance about whether trans women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. Out of nowhere, he burst out with, “I want a family someday!”

He continued, apparently unaware of how non he was sequituring. “How am I supposed to feel about the fact that there are all these women walking around, and maybe they look just like everyone else, but they don’t have uteruses? Why is it transphobic to say I want a woman who can have children?”

My response was, “It’s not transphobic to want children, but it’s misogynistic as hell to say that anyone who can’t give birth is not a woman.” The idea that a woman’s value, or her gender, is determined by her reproductive function is so deeply objectifying that to call it transphobic is to miss the entire point. Note that in his hypothetical there was no question of whether the woman wanted to give birth; he was only interested in whether she was physically capable of fulfilling hisparental desires. The problem with this guy isn’t that he doesn’t want to date trans women. It’s that he sees all women as vessels for his own dreams.

In just this way, whenever you scratch the surface of transmisogyny (even in the guise of “trans-critical feminism”), you find that it’s just one facet of a deeper hatred and distrust of women. Here are four tenets of transmisogyny that are profoundly dangerous to all women:

You can read more about Lindsay King-Miller’s stupendous take on the issue here, or read my previous post on the same topic here.

-Shiv

Who needs enemies with “allies” like these?

Imagine a world where the virulently misogynist words of Phyllis Schlafly were held up by feminists as representative of the opinions of all women. Imagine a world where the discrimination-denialist positions of Christina Hoff Sommers were held up as the pinnacle of women’s advocacy by feminists. Imagine a world where hundreds of feminists surfaced from the crevices of the internet to hail me as some kind of valiant free speech defender after campaigning for women to be banned from public life because one time, this woman threw hot coffee at me and no, I don’t have an independent link for you to verify that but I promise I’m trustworthy *pinky swear* smiley-face emoji :)

I don’t live in this world because it is, sadly, limited to cis feminists. A feminist publication called Athena Talks, whose mission is “to help young women mature, [to help] budding professionals become leaders and [to help] leaders become advocates for equality,” decided that all of the above absurdities were suddenly worthy of their editorial attention, strictly because it was re-purposed for animus against trans women.

To be clear, I don’t consider it a bad thing that my feminist works are usually held up to a higher standard. If I were to deploy the venom-spitting baffelgab passing for “reasonable dialogue” in the start of this post, I would be rightly shredded as a derivative thinker and deemed an asshole with an axe to grind. Instead I want to draw attention to cis feminism’s problem with shoddy double standards: If the topic is trans women, y’all start giving the “deer in headlights” look as if you’ve never encountered a logical fallacy before. (#NotAllCisFeminists, of course, but enough of you).

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the latest candy-glossed hate piece to make waves in feminist discourse: “I am not a ‘cis’ Woman, I am a Woman and that Matters.

Content Notice for trans-antagonism, in case it wasn’t already obvious from the title.

The author opens thusly:

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You Were a Trainwreck Before Estrogen

An addendum to Rae Rosenberg’s “You Were a Misogynist Before Testosterone

 

Trans communities often have something that resembles religion in my estimate–hormones. On the topic of testosterone and its masculinizing effects, Rosenberg criticized a This American Life episode featuring a trans man who justified his sexual objectification of women by citing testosterone as his excuse. Rosenberg notes (and rightly so) that misogyny is a learned behaviour and that there was no basis to connect a biochemical molecule to social norms about expressing sexual attraction.

As much as I would like to think otherwise, there’s no reason a trans person will be any better educated on the notions of biological essentialism or the Euro-colonial gender binary, so it follows that you will also find among trans women a range of anti-feminist or misogynist behaviours. Rosenberg’s article deals with the stereotypes associated with masculinity, and so I thought I would do the same for trans feminine folks and femininity–specifically the trope that we become emotionally fragile simply because we take estrogen.

With trans men, testosterone is often used to reinforce ideas of toxic masculinity, encouraging stereotypes about men as hypersexual, aggressive, angry, emotionally stunted beasts who want to hump everything they see. I see these narratives everywhere, from ‘activist’-leaning online forums to mainstream media.

If I go to a local trans feminine support group, I could ask each member to stand if they could answer “yes” to a few different questions. I could ask if anyone has been raped, and around two-thirds of the group will stand up.  I could ask if anyone lost their jobs and has struggled in their careers, about a quarter. If they are on poor terms with their parents, about two-thirds. How many lost their marriages, maybe a third. Assaulted? Half. Victims of domestic violence? Half again. Harassed on the street? All of them. Most of the circle will have experienced two or more of these things.

These same ladies will insist, vociferously and from the bottom of their heart, that it’s the estrogen making them cry.

Don’t get me wrong, as a trans woman and someone who has the liberty and dumb luck to have the option of hormone replacements, I’m well aware of its effects. I felt that I had been gasping for air at high altitude for two decades before I transitioned, and just starting hormone replacements alone felt like I began to breathe for the first time in my life. But I am quite confident that my sudden inability to remain stoic had everything to do with surviving multiple assaults and a domestic abuse situation and nothing to do with a steroidal hormone, despite both occurring at the same time.

And let’s not forget the suffocating effect untreated gender dysphoria can have long before we figure any of this out. The oft-quoted 41% statistic referring to the rate of attempted suicides in trans Americans isn’t actually lifelong or spread out evenly–it’s mostly clustered around coming out and the planning thereof, usually settling to be no different than the general population as a person’s transition progresses. The closet is no place for a person, yet I see its effects seldom recognized by those crediting estrogen for their newfound emotions–something which usually begins shortly after coming out.

One thing I appreciate about Rae Rosenberg’s piece is that it reminds us that oppression is something you do, rather than something you are.

When trans men argue that they can’t be misogynist because they were socialized as women, it further erases that women can also reinforce and reproduce misogyny.

I would certainly say it is also misogyny–albeit of the internalized variety–for us trans feminine folks to look at the ruins around us and assume we’re emotional because of estrogen. I think this does a disservice to us all when we don’t recognize that anybody would be right in feeling a bit fragile in the circumstances I described above. We’ve earned our tears, estrogen be damned.

All this occurs alongside and in addition to our hormone replacements. I’m just not convinced causation has ever been teased out. It sounds far more likely that we are just reproducing the idea that expressing emotion is effeminate, rather than an ordinary adaptation to stress, something most of us are under a tremendous amount of. And while it is validating in the context of a support group, let’s not forget that it will just as easily be the justification of our dismissals by transmisogynistic people when we leave it.

-Shiv

 

Youtube censoring educational content for trans people

A few months ago YouTube once again updated their community guidelines such that certain content could be age-restricted, and that age-restricted content couldn’t be monetized. Professional sex educators were understandably upset, as now their means of earning money was going to be denied to them. YouTube’s administrative staff seem to largely operate from America’s sex squeamishness such that even the most benign, descriptive and frankly unsexy video would be flagged. It’s not quite censorship, but it does force sex educators to volunteer their time rather than get paid for it.

Cue the institutional transphobia. Chase Ross, a transmasculine youtuber who I follow, has had vast portions of their content restricted following the guidelines update. The videos that were flagged? They were reviewing prosthesis. Not sex toys. Just implements to facilitate the health of gender dysphoric transmasculine individuals by reducing their anxiety and depression.

This seems to be operating from an aggressively transphobic, and distressingly popular, notion that anything related to transgender health qualifies as “sexual,” which plays into one half of trans-antagonists’ simultaneous hypersexualization/desexualization complex.

Much of what I do here is likewise meant to be educational. One reason I’m a lot less likely to migrate away from FreethoughtBlogs is precisely because so many other networks, in their bid to attract ad revenue, will impose restrictions upon the content they can host. And the restriction is almost always related to sexual content–again, American squeamishness (this despite the very obvious hypocrisy of what the ads on these site say. They’re very obviously trying to exploit sex. So you can sell it–if you’re an advertiser–but you can’t teach it, if you’re an educator). And the portions of my content on trans people could very well end up being called “sexual,” even if it’s as stimulating as a Donald Trump speech.

-Shiv

Words matter: Trans woman murdered after father calls for her death on TV

Content Notice: transmisogynistic murder, misgendering

I want to show this to the “sticks and stones” crowd, the free speech absolutists whose whining about pushback to denigrating trans people remains blissfully unaware of the violence we actually face because of trans-antagonistic attitudes.

A Russian woman was brutally hacked to death mere days after her wedding after her father called for her death on TV because she is transgender:

A transgender Muslim woman in Russia was hacked to death only days after marrying the man of her dreams.

Raina Aliev’s own own father had gone on television publicly called for her murder.

‘Bring him here and kill him in front of my eyes,’ Alimshaikh Aliev had told a local TV station.

‘Let him be killed, I don’t want to see him. Bring him here and kill him in front of my eyes.’

Aliev, 25, had gender confirmation surgery in Moscow and married a man named Viktor, according to the Daily Mail.

The victim had informed law enforcement authorities about the threat but to no avail.

The circumstances of her murder and where the killing took place have not been revealed. But it is known that the body was cut up and unrecognizable.

It’s the deadliest year on record to be transgender, with every country that tracks demographic-specific hate crime reporting massive spikes in anti-queer and anti-trans violent crime.

And all you can get cis folk to talk about is fuck mothering pronouns.

-Shiv

Transition Reactions p9: Liar liar

Content Notice: Transmisogyny and the “deceptive trans” trope, invocation of t-word slur, detailed description of the murders of trans women.

Standard disclaimer: My Transition Reactions series is a mostly anecdotal recount of fucked up ways people respond my gender variance.

Guys, wanna hear a joke?

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