“Act female”

I’m kinda tired of being the flashpoint for this particular revelation but prescriptive codes of behaviour based on gender norms suck. To put it bluntly, they suck a lot.

Just last week, a transgender man in Louisiana won his discrimination complaint against his employer through arbitration. Tristan Broussard involuntarily resigned from the financial services company he worked for when he was intolerably forced to “act and dress only as a female.” He was awarded more than a year’s salary as well as additional damages for emotional distress.

Okay, so there’s a lot being tangled up in gender codes. For starters, there’s no distinction made between gender identity, gender expression, and gender role. This would clarify a great deal of where these employers are going wrong–and why, thankfully, judges are ruling on an interpretation of Title VII that indicates “sex stereotyping” as a form of sex-based discrimination.

For my part, I look forward to any and all attempts to elucidate whatever the flaming fuck “act female” means. Mostly because it demonstrates that the very principle of gender differentiated codes is inherently sexist and impossible to rationalize without falling back on unsubstantiated claims about the nature of gender. It’s like getting someone to explain a rape joke–they’ll figure it out, what a flaming turd they’ve stepped on, usually. Because here’s the critical thing, dear readers: The liberty of your gender expression is at stake too.

Even without taking into account gender identity and trans employees, employers are pushing to create a precedent where it is legal to dictate an acceptable range of gender expression that they can impose on you based on your assigned sex. That means even if you’re cis, the employer’s success in the courts would indicate that the same imposition will affect you. This exists to some degree already, but employers are narrowing that range ever further, ensuring “proper womanhood” looks a certain way (I anticipate makeup, long hair, pencil skirts, regardless of whether or not you want them).

If experience has taught me nothing else, it’s that nothing will get the support of cis people on trans issues faster than pointing out how it affects cis people. (Yes, that’s my bitter cynic talking). But it’s true. Even if courts side with the employers (and reading the above article seems to indicate they aren’t), there’s a decent chance an issue like this could gain mainstream support and see much bigger protests than if it were marketed as a “trans issue.”

Transmisogyny is just a more specific manifestation of misogyny. Just tell the next cis person that when they dismiss these discrimination cases–the rulings will affect them too.

-Shiv

Quoting Jordan Peterson is “muckraking” now

I don’t know if Jordan Peterson is a Christian or not, but by George has he ever mastered their breathless cries of “perseeecuuuutiiiooooon.”

The Varsity noted that Dr. Peterson’s Patreon is now pulling in a few pennies shy of $8,200/month, at least as of December 5th. Shortly after they asked him to elaborate on his Patreon goals, he shot back a rather nasty response:

An hour after the initial statement was sent to The Varsity, Peterson expressed frustration at this newspaper’s pursuit of this article. “Here’s an idea, why don’t you do a story on the fact that my YouTube channel, prior to this political firestorm, had already attracted a million viewers? That means I brought advanced psychology knowledge to a million people – free,” he said in the email.

He continued: “But you can’t do that, because you are so blinded by your damnable ideology that you muckrake instead. Why do good, when you can advance your ideological presumptions, and find someone to hate?”

Dr. Peterson’s irony has presumably been surgically removed.

He references, of course, the fact that The Varsity has been a breath of No, Both Sides Don’t Do It fresh air. Perhaps he doesn’t appreciate that the editor has correctly identified that Peterson’s free speech vs. ess jay double yoos is a false equivalency.

Those who came to the rally advocating for social justice engaged in a range of protest activities, which included blasting white noise over the sound of rally speakers. While the tactics this group employed are not beyond scrutiny — in a free society, almost nothing is — it is essential to recognize that the cause of this group is legitimate in a way that the cause of those propagating hate speech will never be. Those who would have The Varsity present the former’s cause on equal footing with the latter’s will be disappointed.

How to be PERSECUUUUTIIOOOOOOON’d like Jordan Peterson in six easy steps, according to Glad Hand:

Fuck, Peterson, if this is your idea of persecution, then hand me a nail and a cross. I’ll crucify myself for eight grand a month.

-Shiv

(Silver lining: As long as Dr. Peterson is still a professor, his combined yearly income puts him in the new tax brackets that were recently increased.)

Peter Boghossian: “Critical thinking” apparently means “pretend this field of study doesn’t exist”

Hands up:  Who thought atheism needed another arrogant atheist douchebro who cloaks himself in rationality and then proceeds in a spit-flecked rant rife with fallacious reasoning to tell us we are irrational about stuff?

Peter Boghossian raves about “Gender studies professors” who “are pumping out complete bullshit” in Areo Magazine, producing something resembling less of an argument and more of a rancid onion. And for some fucking reason, I’m feeling masochistic enough to peel back the layers of entitled manbaby whinging. Tears to ensue.

One would think that an example of critical thinking would explicitly identify the premises of a presented argument, compare peer-reviewed literature to see whether the premises are accurate, and use formal logic to determine if the conclusion is sound. But Boghossian’s rant is devoid of any particular specifics–aside from quoting one of Jordan Peterson’s critics–and on top of that he has the gall to represent himself as some kind of model freethinker. The problem is that the sort of freethought that lacks any resemblance to reality is the sort of “freethought” we’d expect to see from mushroom-tripping hippies reacting to psychedelic phantoms rather than what’s in front of them.

Compare, for instance, how Boghossian opens up his interview with some pontificating on critical thinking:

Malhar Mali: What in your opinion is the best way of fostering critical thinking when it comes to religious and supernatural beliefs?

Peter Boghossian: I think the whole way we’ve taught critical thinking is wrong from day one. We’ve taught, “Formulate your beliefs on the basis of evidence.” But the problem with that is people already believe they’ve formulated their beliefs on evidence — that’s why they believe what they believe. Instead, what we should focus on is teaching people to seek out and identify defeaters.

What is a defeater? A defeater is:

IF A, THEN B, UNLESS C.

All of which is sound epistemology…

Then, minutes later, Boghossian expels this adorable piece of absolute claptrap:

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Parents for Choice in Education: Stop teaching my kids queer & trans people exist

Content Notice: Homo-antagonism and trans-antagonism

Eva Ferguson begins this article in what (I hope) is a barely contained snicker:

A new toolkit for teachers on educating students around gender diversity is being criticized by parent groups who say it doesn’t give families a chance to opt out of conversations they say may not fit their values.

Yes, that’s right, there are “some families” complaining they can’t opt out of fact-based education. If you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll suspect Parents for Choice in Education, a lobby group that gets its jimmies rustled every time more facts worm their way into schools.

Ferguson writes of a guidance document published by the Alberta Teacher’s Association called Toolkit for Safe and Caring Discussions and Sexual and Gender Minorities. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: A series of tips on what a law like Bill 7 or Bill 10 actually means and what substantive changes you can make to your teaching when you need to be accommodating of queer & trans youth. It includes such insidious suggestions as…

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Mistakes were made: An apology

For a brief time, you may have noticed this cute little button below my “About the Author” widget.

About the same time that I was going to announce that I had been added to a progressive blogging aggregate feed, I realized I was sharing space with at least one TERF.

I don’t know who clicked on the little Progressive Bloggers button–I know I drew a few readers from the PB feed but I don’t have enough data to confidently say they stuck around. Regardless, when I sought out an invitation to be added to this feed, I should have vetted the existing participants more thoroughly.

Alas, my posts briefly appeared next to a self-styled “gender abolitionist,” and my sigh was drawn out enough to warrant a concerned glance from my roommate’s cat. Regardless of whether or not anyone from FTB noticed the material in question, I nonetheless feel responsible for associating, even unknowingly, with the nauseating tripe that is Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism. My trans readers know as well as I do that preparation is often needed for us to confront these materials and if even one of you was exposed to it, unprepared, that is on me.

I am sorry, and you certainly should expect better of me.


 

Now, to PB’s credit, their administrator responded very professionally to my nastygram requesting AtG’s removal from the network. I don’t want to reproduce those communications without permission (in part because I don’t want to actually identify the offending TERF blog for a number of reasons) but I’ll paraphrase part of their response. They gave a brief throwaway line about how the network “had disagreements” on it before and that it was okay to “criticize” each other.

While the response was professional, it is nonetheless a demonstration of how supremacist bigotry is normalized. TERFs don’t “disagree” with me. They’re a form of Cisgender Supremacists. When they’re not denying I exist, they’re making the argument, without hesitation, that my needs are less important than theirs and that the conditions which would culminate in my suicide are an acceptable loss for their comfort. This isn’t a “disagreement.” Disagreements are for arguments over which animal makes the best house pet. What happened here would be like telling the Jews they just needed to “hash it out” with the fucking Nazis.

We need to start recognizing that trans feminists endure abuse when we dialogue with TERFs, and we need to stop minimizing trans feminists when we say that this is an activity we can only do on our terms because of the emotional labour involved.

We do not “owe” our abusers understanding, nor am I obligated to start a pissing contest with an ideologue who would sooner see me dead.

PB has also received an apology from me for wasting their time, and that’s about the last I wish to hear concerning this momentary lapse in judgement.

-Shiv

Bathroom Bill Senator Don Plett back at it again

Don Plett is the genius behind the previous Canadian government’s attempt to legislate on trans rights–he proposed the amendment to Bill C-279, which specifically excluded public accommodations and housing protections. An otherwise perfectly good bill was gutted thanks to him, leaving trans women stranded in a veritable minefield yet again.

So, of course, we ought not to be surprised when Plett steps up to the plate to antagonize the 4th? attempt at codifying trans human rights. Check out his stunningly familiar rhetoric below:

Colleagues, last week Bill C-16, gender identity and gender expression, passed third reading in the other place without a recorded vote. This came on the heels of the Justice Committee refusing to hear from witnesses on this legislation. That’s right, colleagues, no public hearings.

Well golly gee, public opposition to trans rights is pretty fuckin’ high when you mention public accommodations, so yeah, no public debate. Probably because we’ve all heard the trans rapist trope a few too many times at this point? What new information could possibly be presented against us that we haven’t already heard?

We should be so confident in the legislation that we bring forward, and certainly in the legislation we pass, that we are willing to have it withstand a thorough and rigorous vetting process.

That’s a strange euphemism for your “fix” last time, Plett. Rigorous vetting process, you mean like the part where trans women are many times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than cis women are? Yet you trotted out tired arguments about women’s safety when you torpedoed the last bill. Is that the kind of thoroughness we can expect?

Political correctness authoritarians

Oh for fuck sake. This was in my government? We have a fucking sheep bleating about “political correctness” in government?! 

have narrowed the scope of acceptable thought and discourse in academia and, by extension, the general public.

YES, YOU ASSHOLE. TRANSPHOBIA IS NOT A RATIONAL RESPONSE.

However, we as legislators and public policy-makers should not be afraid of the difficult conversations.

Aww, Plett’s scared. Poor widdle muffin. Good thing you aren’t living in the constant fear of literal assault every time you pee, you might just melt like the snowflake you are.

Legislation that has serious implications on freedom of speech — and, for the first time in Canadian law, compelled speech — cannot be passed so flippantly without thorough public discourse, debate and consideration.

What? Where the fuck is this even coming from? The boundaries on Bill C-16 are clear! They state which sections of the Criminal Code are being amended: 1) Advocacy for genocide; 2) Public incitement of hatred. YOU’RE A GOD DAMN SENATOR YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS.

As University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson said recently on this issue

Oh fuck off already

Once we decide that we will not engage in manipulation of facts, regardless of the results, if it is based on telling the truth, that is always the best possible outcome.

Manipulation of facts, like this complete fucking fiction that Bill C-16 dictates pronoun use?

Are you terminally incapable of self-awareness??

I challenge my colleagues not to be silenced by the baseless character assassination, not to be silenced by those who want to throw out labels of bigotry and new phobias dreamt up every other week in social science departments in order to silence dissent.

OH MY GOD YOUR DISSENT IS NOT SILENT JESUS CHRIST MY BLOOD PRESSURE WOULD BE GREAT IF IT WERE

Those who find this legislation to have some merit but are afraid to speak in its favour because they find the topic “difficult,” and those who behind closed doors are vehemently opposed to this legislation but are not willing to speak to it publicly, please, by all means, let your voices be heard.

Yes, let those gullible idiots undemocratically appointed to torpedo democratic legislation make their ignorance clear at the expense of trans folk who will be condemned to live in between the lines until you fucking keel over and die already.

We are the chamber of sober second thought. We are legislators and policy-makers. It is our duty to look at fact, at science and at truth. A difficult and controversial topic with profound consequences should not generate less debate; it should generate more debate.

Great! Then I’ll see you when you sign the law! Unless this call for science is what you mean when you refer to Peterson as your “expert.” Is god damn Paul McHugh going to make an appearance? What is this “science” that makes you hesitate? Alice Dreger’s? Please spare me the fucking quackery. I’ll pop a god damn artery.

I want to ensure all of the outraged individuals who have emailed and called our office that the Senate will do a better job. When the House of Commons puts its electoral viability ahead of difficult conversations about policy, it has failed. Colleagues, let’s not fall into the same trap. Let’s have the difficult conversations. Let’s do our jobs. We owe it to Canadians.

Oh yes, I look forward to being publicly defamed as a rapist, again, during the “difficult conversation” you intend to start.

-Shiv

Catholic “charity” attaches strings to its transgender outreach

If you ever wonder why I am incensed at the entrenched Catholic government services in Alberta, here’s a wonderful demonstration of why. A Catholic charity has opened up in India purporting to offer “outreach” to the trans community, but there are some very, very hard to miss strings attached to this outreach: (emphasis mine)

Caritas India, a branch of Catholic social welfare organization Caritas Internationalis, announced the launch of a program earlier this month designed to fight discriminatory attitudes toward transgender people.

“Caritas is open to work with transgender people. I am even open to recruiting them,” Rev. Frederick D’Souza, executive director of Caritas India, said in a statement reported by Vatican Radio.

The group’s initiative aims to combat bias by conducting outreach to transgender communities as part of its development programs, but it reveals the church’s own internal bias in the process.

D’Souza said he hoped the initiative would mark the “beginning of a new school of thought,” in which Catholic leaders offer greater “attention and support” to those dealing with “sexual confusion in their body.”

In the same breath, D’Souza clarified that the outreach would only go so far. By “transgender,” he said, he was referring to a group he classified as “biological transgenders,” which to him denoted those who identify with a different sex but have not undergone surgery.

“We don’t want to confuse the two,” D’Souza said. “We have an opinion on those who undergo sex change, we are not in favor of that. We believe that the natural gender one is born with is what he/she is supposed to cherish and contribute to creation.”

Par for the course for the abusive Catholic institution, this charity claims to offer help to trans folk (in south Asia, sometimes called hijra) but exploits the opportunity to push psychiatric abuse on those who need its help.

In other words, they have no intentions of helping trans folk at all, since the condition on which the help is offered is that we must be willing to submit to something that the American Psychiatric Association–along with basically every credible mental health professional accreditation body in North America and Europe–recognizes as damaging.

Yet the Catholics proceed apace, ever increasing the amount of reality they’re willing to deny in the name of their holy fucking book.

-Shiv


 

A few days after this post was put on the schedule, another Catholic “charity” hit the news for turfing an employee over her belief that we shouldn’t be dicks to gay people. I guess Christmas is only for straights! (And my straight coworkers legitimately ask why I need to host/attend separate Queer Thanksgivings and Christmases and Easters.)

Transition Reactions p12: Well, *I* don’t talk like that

We return to my personal experiences and so require the should-be-obvious disclaimer that I am not a spokeswoman for the entirety of trans folk.

So obviously I am preoccupied with the extent of trans-antagonism even here in Canada, where the government is finally tackling institutional discrimination by mandating nondiscrimination policies. But par for the course, a lot of people don’t understand what discrimination actually is, and think that if something is made illegal it “stops happening,” and now that it might be illegal to discriminate against trans folk in a few more months we can all go home and stop complaining.

What this attitude overlooks are two things: structural discrimination and personal discrimination. I’ll cover structural discrimination another time but even with personal discrimination there’s a fair bit going on.

It’s been criminal to discriminate against cisgender gay people for years, yet cis gay Canadians still exhibit lower socioeconomic outcomes compared to cisgender heterosexuals (“cis het”). Now if you’re the type of person I can’t speak to politely, you blame cis gays for this. Unfortunately for you, all evidence points to cis het folk still enacting–and getting away with–homo-antagonistic discrimination.

Which creates a problem if I try to talk about homo- and trans-antagonism. This is a problem that starts with the actions of cis het people. That means it is impossible in a thorough analysis not to, at some point, examine the role of the majority in the socioeconomic outcomes of the minority.

Which also means, at some point, I have to talk about you. Yes, you, even the ones who take the time to read a trans voice (I’ve recommended many, hopefully I’m not the only one). While I am grateful that you put your money where your mouth is and remember to seek out information before forming an opinion, it is still necessary to discuss how suspicion and denigration of trans folk, especially trans women, is baked into the common understandings of gender itself, and that all of us (even me) may not be able to reach into the corners of our mind to root it out.

Let’s start with an example from a fellow critic of my favourite punching bag: The Roman Catholic Church. There are no shortage of odious reasons to dislike the Catholic institution: They exploit their publicly funded organizations to proselytize to vulnerable people; they lobby for religious exemptions from secular law so they can continue endangering and abusing women and queer folk; they are openly and unabashedly patriarchal and put an alarming amount of effort into conditioning their congregation to accept and propagate this; they shield the perpetrators of child sexual assault; they compare gender variance to nuclear weapons; they guilt-trip their congregation into financing these human rights abuses; and they make sure their church bells are obnoxiously fucking loud.

I could go on, but the point is that there are a few criticisms floating around where the most cutting criticism an atheist can muster against the Church is that its figurehead wears a “dress.” I think that reflects a very interesting system of values where all those other egregious crimes against humanity are somehow unworthy of mention. From a Humanist perspective, “patriarch” is an insult–or at least it ought to be. You needn’t bring in a morally neutral activity such as crossdressing to suggest the Pope is worthy of condemnation. I think you can reach a little higher for better fruit than that.

So it manifests among otherwise well-meaning atheists who are generally in favour of QUILTBAG rights & affirmation yet haven’t made the connection between mocking people like Trump because of statues depicting him as fat and ostensibly intersex; and how this message simultaneously denigrates fat & intersex people. As with the Pope, it’s not like there’s a shortage of reasons to really rag on Trump here.

Having written about these issues for a long time I won’t suggest we reduce our coverage trying to understand the impact of deliberate, willful trans-antagonism. I am all too happy to render individual Catholics uncomfortable when I suggest their institution advocates for my psychiatric abuse and that they are complicit in this. And the damage Catholic lobbyists have done to human rights issues is undeniable across the globe.

But supporting a community as embattled as the trans community means understanding that a broader body of accidental, unintentional bias still contributes to our difficulties, and in that respect I need myself and anyone who calls themselves a trans ally to not write ourselves off when we talk about trans-antagonism. That means when I say stuff like “cis het people do this,” don’t walk out of the room and count yourself out because you’re “one of the good ones.” It’s quite likely that you have and will do ‘this,’ even if by accident.

It’s okay, the same is true for me. I just hope we all have the patience and maturity to sit ourselves down and learn from it. What we don’t need is for you to tell us what a great ally you are, we need you to show us by contributing to the accountability of those advancing trans-antagonistic positions, even if unintentionally. Which includes yourself.

 

-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

At least one trans-antagonistic lawsuit loses

With the largely patchwork approach to trans rights, we’re starting to see the United States split in twain along the exact same fault lines it does for every single other social issue.

Illinois is one of the many states in which a lawsuit was filed alleging that a trans girl’s existence constitutes a privacy violation (I’m not even exaggerating–that’s the argument) and thankfully, this lawsuit has suffered its first blow.

Throughout the recommendation, Gilbert laid out in detail why these students are not harmed by sharing a space with a transgender classmate. Indeed, they are not even required to share a space with her, as there are alternative restrooms that they may use. If they’re uncomfortable, they can voluntarily use a different facility or make use of a privacy stall withoutforcing transgender students to be ostracized to other spaces.

Though the plaintiffs — who insistently misgendered Student A throughout their briefs — would disagree, Gilbert agreed that “a transgender person’s gender identity is an important factor to be considered in determining whether his or her needs, as well as those of cisgender people, can be accommodated in the course of allocating or regulating the use of restrooms and locker rooms. So, to frame the constitutional question in the sense of sex assigned at birth while ignoring gender identity frames it too narrowly for the constitutional analysis.”

The student plaintiffs’ claim that a transgender student would violate their sense of privacy and safety was not convincing. “There is absolutely no evidence in this record that allowing transgender high school students to use restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity increases the risk of sexual assault,” Gilbert pointed out in a footnote. He also highlighted that the military now “allows transgender personnel to serve openly and fully integrated in all military services” and the NCAA “includes transgender student-athletes in collegiate sports consistent with their gender identity.”

“Neither the Restroom Policy nor the Locker Room Agreement shocks the conscience,” he wrote. Given the accommodations available, “put simply, this case does not involve any forced or involuntary exposure of a student’s body to or by a transgender person assigned a different sex at birth.”

What is refreshing to see is a legal professional actually using the same terms recommended by gender affirmative healthcare models. That makes it rather clear what the trans-antagonistic demands actually are: Stop existing.

-Shiv