“Sex and gender are dials,” offers Psychology Today, citing multiple discredited researchers

Psychology Today attempted to step into the complex world of sex & gender diversity and it’s a flaming hot mess. It’s a pretty lengthy read (although it at least has citations), and it will take me quite a few writing sessions to get through it all.

So I’ll probably do another series, the same way I’m doing with CBS right now. Because it’s a lengthy read, I wanted to introduce folks to the article and get them reading along with me in bite size chunks.

The author, Dr. David P Schmitt, makes his foray into GSD with an okay start.

It has become more and more common for young people around the world to describe themselves not as a “man” or a “woman,” but as “something else.” One term for this something else is transgender. Transgender is an umbrella term for a wide variety of different identities (e.g., genderqueer, gender variant, gender fluid, gender non-conforming, hyper-feminine gay man, asexual, etc.). The common core of transgender identities is they don’t fit within traditional cisgender binaries of men versus women (“cisgender” refers to people whose sexual and gendered identities align in typical ways).

At face value, there’s nothing overly contentious concerning Dr. Schmitt’s representation of GSD theory. Of course, the first citation for transgender leads to an article with a number of follow-up readings. One of those readings performs the faux pas of using “transgenderism,” rather than something less gross like “gender variance,” to describe the concept of  non-normative genders.

This is a particularly uncomfortable phrasing of the concept, because it frames gender variance as an ideology, an -ism, when it simply broadly represents personal narratives that are mostly contrary to normative gender. In other words, I feel it can contribute to this notion that a personal decision to transition somehow has political implications for other people in the way that identifying as a feminist or capitalist does. This belief of gender variance as an ideology mischaracterizes gender variance as something besides a purely personal experience. It would be like arguing that contraction of cancer is a political statement and calling cancer survivors cancerists.

The second citation is the American Psychiatric Association, which has a less bad page, I guess.

Schmitt moves on:

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Canadian Blood Services p2: That’s Not the Question I Asked

As part of an ongoing series investigating the research CBS claims to have in support of their new policy, you can follow the progress of my communications with related parties here (list updates with every new related post):

  1. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
  2. That’s Not The Question I Asked
  3. You’re Like, Halfway There



Following the announcement from Canadian Blood Services that pre-operative trans women who’ve had sex with men would be considered “males who have sex with males, (MSMs)”–and therefore subject to the 12-month abstinence requirement for blood donation eligibility imposed on gay men–I sent a letter to their public inquiry box stating a concern with the methodology. I have reproduced my communications so far.

I establish that health statistics on trans folk is shoddy and incomplete because of medical establishments subsuming us into cisgender male and female populations; and also that CBS, in lumping pre-op trans women with MSMs, was not only perpetuating misinformation, but also doing something flatly unscientific.

Their public email clerk responded thusly: (emphasis added by me in all emails)

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I wonder if I’ll ever get to fly again

Transphobia among airliners and the corresponding security staff is nothing new, with the TSA’s storied history of abusing trans passengers just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t flown since I came to terms with my gender, and I’m not sure I’ll ever want to.

Well, airliners strike again. This time it’s Air Transat, who ignored numerous legal documents affirming a trans passenger’s identity and denied her and her girlfriend flight to a wedding they were going to:

The situation is as follows: I am a dual citizen of the Italian Republic and the Republic of Argentina. Today, Air Transat has denied me boarding a flight bound to Toronto, Canada from Glasgow, Scotland.

I am a transgender woman. My Italian documentation was made before transition and uses the first name “Ariel”, shows an older photo, and a gender marker “M”. However, I have used it consistently to travel for the last 8 years, both within Europe, to the United States, and to South America, with no issue. This is the first time I have been denied boarding a flight.

I travel with supporting documentation because I have been questioned about my passport photo before. This documentation includes my Argentinean passport with the correct gender (and a recent photo), and a notarized sworn affidavit with a legalized translation. This affidavit is a binding document of the Argentine Republic declaring my change of name from Ariel to Ari Bianca, and declaring my change of gender.

When asked for documentation, I provided all three documents (two passports and affidavit) to an Air Transat representative. They spoke to a representative of the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom and told me that I can only travel on my Argentinean passport, but I wouldn’t be travelling today as I didn’t have a visa. I did not apply for a visa because it was not needed with my Italian passport.

The Air Transat representative called “Emma”, refused to give me her last name but phoned the High commission representative for me. The High Commission representative kindly explained this was a decision made by the airline at their discretion. In other words Air Transat made the decision to deny my flight, today, despite my carrying two legal documents, simply because I don’t look the same way as I did 8 years ago, before I began taking hormones.

I have not managed to obtain a new Italian passport yet due to the complex nature of gender recognition procedures through Italian bureaucracy. However, this decision is probably illegal under anti-discrimination UK law; it refuses to accept my valid Italian documentation, maybe breaking Canada-Italy travel treaties; and it fails to recognise my Argentinean sworn affidavit and its connection to my Italian passport as valid.

All because of a simple photo. A photo which, when provided with supporting documents, has never caused any airlines (Ryanair, American Airlines, British Airways, EasyJet, to name a few) from ever preventing me from boarding a flight.

I have contacted Air Transat on Twitter. After a four hour wait, they responded with a different story. In their new version of events the issue wasn’t my passport photo, but rather that since I’m Argentinean, I need a visa for Canada anyway, ignoring my valid Italian passport which entitles me to visa-free travel.

I believe Air Transat have changed their sorry to cover up the discrimination issue.

Aoife goes on to cover the ensuing Tweets from Air Transat, telling a very different story–exactly what happens every single time a trans person goes public with their abuse at the hands of airliners and security staff: (emphasis from original)

So let’s be clear about this:

  • Air Transat took issue with AB’s transness. They refused to let her fly because she is trans and because her documentation made that clear.
  • They told her that she should pretend to be a man in order to get on the plane in future, explicitly denying her gender.
  • They are now trying to make people believe that this is because she didn’t have a visa that she doesn’t have to have.

Gotta love that. “Travel as a man.” The fuck does that mean? If this ever happens to me I’m going to wave my fingers and say “poof! That’s how that works, right? Gender is something you can just fucking take off?”

I’m going to echo Aoife’s request:

Here’s where I’m going to ask you to do something: don’t let them get away with this. Please. Please tell people about this. Tweet@AirTransat and let them know that they can’t do this and sweep it under the carpet- and please keep it firm but civil. If you have a bigger platform or know someone who does? Tell them about this. Use them. Air Transat want to make this go away. Don’t let them.

Maybe in a decade or two when airliners and security catches up, I’ll be able to fly again.


When TERFs pop up on your feed

It’s supposed to be a time of self care for me, following the shooting in Orlando and the various pressures that have been riding my back for some time. I try to control where I dip into the news, focusing on blasting the Dickweed Party, because they’re low-hanging fruit and not particularly difficult to refute. But this morning, I was dismayed to see this pop up on my morning feed, from another friend’s “like” on a stranger’s post. Let’s call the author EL.

Content Notice: Every transphobic dog whistle under the sun.

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Sizable minority of Canadians oppose Bill C-16


MetroNews collected not only some opinions on Bill C-16 and the concept of extending explicit protections to trans Canadians, but also the demographic data of the respondents. So who is actually against and in favour of the Bill?:

The poll found most Canadians to be in favour of the provisions included in the proposed legislation.

Three in four Canadians (74 per cent) agree with a provision in Bill C-16 that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, and 71 per cent are in favour of updating criminal laws to make it a hate crime when someone is targeted because of their gender identity and gender expression.

In addition, two thirds of Canadians (65 per cent) agree with extending hate speech laws to include the terms gender identity and gender expression.

So why is Metro more optimistic about the findings than I am? Simple: It all falls apart once you actually apply  those protections.

A majority of Canadians (55 per cent) think transgender Canadians should be allowed to use the public bathroom of their choice, while one third (32 per cent) believe their public bathroom use should be based exclusively on biological sex.

There’s a discrepancy here–26% of respondents were not in favour of adding explicit protections to trans Canadians, so if the respondents actually knew what the fuck they were talking about, we would expect close to the same amount opposing the use of appropriate facilities for trans folk. Yet it jumps up to 32% when you actually frame the issue as being about bathrooms. On the inverse, 74% of respondents agreed it was wrong to discriminate against trans folk, but you ask them about washrooms and the portion of supporters sinks to 55%. The bathroom question doesn’t add up to 100% because the rest answered in one of the ambivalent categories.

Now are there any differences by demographic response?

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