An open letter to Albertan parents concerned about GSAs

When I first began volunteering for LGBTQ+ social resources, one of the first rules I learned was to Never tell a dependent youth that they “need” to come out to their parents or guardians. By now, those parents concerned about Alberta’s student run Gay-Straight Alliances (alternatively Queer-Straight Alliances) are likely aware that professionals and volunteers affirming LGBTQ+ youth tend to follow this rule, and now we have a law written by the New Democratic Party setting the same as policy for school administrations. The leadership of both the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives have gone on record to disagree with this policy, stating that they think students joining the student-run GSA clubs ought to result in a notification for their parents, along with hundreds of other community organizers stepping into the conversation to concur.

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Why we’re so damn prickly

Katelyn Burns penned a piece last year reviewing why the trans community tends to be prickly and persnickety. It’s not exactly rocket science–being anti-trans is a prolific industry, filling the airwaves and distorting people’s perception of you. Asshats spreading misinformation are paid ludicrous sums of money, even as the trans community struggles to scrape enough money together to fund a queer youth crisis shelter. Of course we’re mad. Cis people can’t stop showering asshats with accolades and hundred-dollar bills, meanwhile we’re lucky if we can keep our dead end job.

Content Notice for transphobic slurs.

Now take a step back for a second and imagine the majority of people you run into every day denying you this basic descriptor of yourself. Every day the media runs a fresh story that denies your existence down to your most basic level of being. Every day some white knight actor is claiming credit for all the hard work and advocacy that you and your peers are doing. Imagine that any time someone tries to go on television to defend your most basic self definition, the producers grab the most hateful person available to sit opposite and argue against your existence “to be fair and balanced.” Think of this happening every day. Imagine you had to defend yourself from Twitter trolls every day who seek to deny you the right to describe yourself in your most basic terms. Pretend for a second that every online newspaper article has a comment section filled with the most hateful words thrown at you that you could ever imagine.

I wrote a piece on my experience as a closeted trans woman who grew up playing sports that ran recently on The Cauldron by Sports Illustrated, a site with thousands of regular readers. The next day, someone wrote a fifteen hundred word WordPress blog post calling me a “tranny” (it was in the headline), repeatedly called me a man and suggested that I’m mentally ill and should be locked away. One of the author’s followers suggested he deserves a Pulitzer for it. I felt sick. Here was maybe my proudest professional achievement of my life, and trolls decided that I deserved to be erased from society. I was upset, you would be too. How would you feel running into that every day of your life?

And, of course, if I were to express any frustration or upset at this state of affairs, it would be screencapped by TERFs and hailed as evidence that trans women are inherently violent creatures.

-Shiv

Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator Lynn Beyak strikes again

Apparently not satisfied with the concentration of garbage water that is her existence, Lynn Beyak decided to one-up her prior remarks about calling on the survivors of colonial genocide to seek out the silver lining from their circumstances, by insisting the LGBT Community wouldn’t have to suffer discrimination if only we stuffed ourselves back in the closet.

During a debate over a trans human rights law.

Last week, Beyak, during a debate on C-16, the transgender rights bill, went on a bizarre rant bemoaning that the radicals of the gay movement expect “all of Canada to be their closet.”

I–what? What? I can’t.

She continued to pine for a happier time when folks like her simply didn’t have to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that gay people exist because they weren’t flaunting their homosexuality in her face.

“By living in quiet dignity, they have never had to face any kind of discrimination or uncomfortable feelings,” she said, without a hint of irony. “I would assert that is how the vast majority of the LGBT community feels.”

“Quiet dignity.” That’s some real good Christian doublespeak you’ve got going there.

Fuck me. When did we start importing neanderthals from Texas? Get this lady all the chairs so she can sit the fuck down.

-Shiv

Shit cis people say, trans & intersex athletes, and warped double standards

As with the ethics of (non)disclosure concerning one’s gender history, athletics is one area of trans rights where otherwise sympathetic voices routinely fly off the rails. I have noticed two areas in which this manifests: Ignorance on how hormones actually work; and conflation of statistical averages with the specific outcome of a given individual.

Fallon Fox is a mixed-martial arts fighter who was invited to speak at Skepticon back in 2015. She is also a transgender woman. Fox has been subject to a great deal of scientifically illiterate criticism following Fox’s victory during a match between her and another fighter who was assigned female at birth. The substance of the criticism was that Fox had fundamentally violated the conditions on which they agreed to fight by “being male,” despite having lower testosterone than her opponent and despite having a similar body frame. Out came the weird pseudoscience.

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24 hours in the life of a trans writer

05:30 — I’m an early riser, and sometimes I even beat my alarm clock. How much of that is just heightened anxiety and existential dread, I’ll probably never know. The sun hasn’t even risen, but it’s when I do my best work.

05:41 — I’ve brewed my coffee and opened my email. The first message says I should be “interned” at an asylum. I write back, saying I’m flattered he has such confidence in my abilities that I’d qualify for an internship at a psychiatric hospital. It’s a facetious response. The content of his email clearly indicates he meant “interred.” He doesn’t seem to know that interrogating my own sanity has become a daily ritual thanks to a culture of persistent, sustained, and uncoordinated gaslighting directed at people like me. I consider sending him the history of psychiatry’s abuses with trans people and how none of that torture stopped us from being trans. He doesn’t care. He’ll unknowingly comment on another piece of my work under a handle similar to his email, saying the exact same thing.

He isn’t wishing for my health. He’s wishing for my disappearance.

06:24 — I see the Daily Mail has accused me of being a “gender fascist.” Well, not me specifically, but if the Daily Mail was in the habit of dealing in specifics it wouldn’t be in business at all. Whatever. It’s a fact-free hit piece, not that the consumers care. They’re just paying for another pundit to foam at the mouth over some nebulous spectre of slavering trans fuckbeasts.

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Signal boosting: Trans people shouldn’t have to be perfect

Alex DiFrancesco touches upon the observation that trans women with high visibility are held to ludicrous standards, and that these standards stifle perceptions of us as just ordinary flawed human beings:

None of this made it into the final piece. I am shaking just writing these things now. Because I know, as a trans person, as someone writing about trans people, as an ally to trans women, that I am never ever supposed to publicly suggest something that could make any trans person look bad. I am never supposed to write that I was abused by a trans woman, because this is exactly what the people who want to see all trans people disappear off the face of the earth want everyone else to think is true of all trans women. I am never to suggest that a vulnerable population (which I am part of) could be anything less than perfect.

For the record, the idea that a relationship with one abusive trans woman validates all the horrible things trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and others say about trans women is absurd. Were a cis person, male or female, to be abusive in a relationship, no one would ever take that to mean all cis people are abusive.

My ex-wife is one person out of the large community of trans people I know and love. The wonderful people I know among this community, most of them transgender women, have taken me into their homes when I was homeless, supported me mentally and emotionally when I was at my worst, helped me find jobs, and fed me when I was hungry and broke. They are people I turn to when I am unsure about my own often imperfect politics, or the many issues I myself have as a person. And yet the fear instilled by TERFs is so real that many trans writers, when telling their stories, feel we are not supposed to talk about anything that questions any trans person beyond the confines of our own community. Certainly not in venues for public or cis consumption.

You can read more about it and the silencing effect of TERF-perpetrated oppression has here.

-Shiv

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

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

I’m not actually happy about what happened to Milo Yiannopoulos

Professional garbage fire Milo Yiannopoulos finally had his book deal retracted. He also was also set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference and that too was cut.

I’m not particularly happy at this change of events. Not because I want to hear him speak–I’d sooner swim through a sea of thumbtacks–but because it wasn’t his blatant racism, xenphobia, sexism or transmisogyny that was considered unacceptable. No, apparently all those are still fine, but if you advocate for pederasty, that’s the straw too much!

Let me be clear here: I do not think debate is the correct response for Milo. He knows he’s full of shit. He embodies the nihilistic performative sadomasochism endemic to 4chan. He is not there to expand the knowledge of his audience, he is there to pump them up with a victim narrative and set up a plethora of still-mistreated minorities as the villain of a cheap video game. I will stop just short of endorsing the Black Bloc’s disruptive tactics–Canadian Intelligence has something of a hate-on for anarchists and this post will inevitably be mined by them for dirt should I be arrested–but debate and protest don’t work on him. You need to deter him. You need pain, or the threat of it at least, to get him to give up. The Black Bloc achieved something where peaceful protest did not. That is undeniable.

And that’s what pisses me off. When he was running around the country, performing acts that would be considered criminal in sane democracies, everything was just fine because he was targeting other undesirables. Seriously, he got paid to sexually harass a trans woman so badly she had to flee campus for her safety. This is not a man embarking on a quest for knowledge. This is a man whose mission is to cause pain as some kind of divine retribution for succeeding where insecure basement dwelling entitled white men have not.

Why hasn’t the school been sued to oblivion for permitting this? Why does it seem like enough people don’t give a shit about his inciting violence against trans people?

No, none of that mattered. It was pederasty-while-gay that finally did the deal.

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech.

-Shiv


 

Edit Feb 22, 2017: Following reader feedback I have removed a poorly worded reference to Richard Dawkins’ dismissals of the impact of pederasty.