Johns Hopkins faculty disavow Paul McHugh’s homophobic and transphobic report

Paul McHugh is at least partially responsible for this odious missive titled “Executive Summary on Sexuality and Gender.” The summary in question was picked up by a number of reactionary lobby groups in short order, adding to McHugh’s long history of being one of the selective citations used when attempting to justify homophobia/transphobia as scientific.

What will no doubt be denied by those same reactionary groups is that the faculty at John Hopkins are aware of the report, and in fact they have published what might be missed as a withering condemnation of it:

Science, and particularly the fields of psychiatry and psychology, has made major advances in our understanding of the complex issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. For instance, accumulating data support the concept that gender identity is not strictly a binary phenomenon. And scientific evidence clearly documents that sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same and/or different sexes are normal variations of the diversity of human sexuality.

That is why the recent report, released by one current and one former member of our faculty on the topic of LGBTQ health, is so troubling. The report, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological and Psychological and Social Sciences,” was not published in the scientific literature, where it would have been subject to rigorous peer review prior to publication. It purports to detail the science of this area, but it falls short of being a comprehensive review.

We wish to make clear that there are many people at Hopkins who hold a profound and long-standing commitment to the health, wellness, well-being, and fair and non-stigmatizing treatment of LGBTQ people and communities. We do not believe that the “Sexuality and Gender” report cited above is a comprehensive portrayal of the current science, and we respectfully disassociate ourselves from its findings.

“We respectfully disassociate ourselves from its findings” is academic-speak, a sort of scathing disagreement, the equivalent of coming upon one’s car and finding the tires have been slashed by your nemesis.

Because reactionary lobbies are well known for their creative work (/extreme sarcasm), we ought to be surprised to see this exact scenario has already played out. Parents for Choice in Education, a reactionary lobby group advocating for the continued special snowflake status of Catholic schooling in Alberta, propped up two doctors from the University of Alberta to grant some kind of scientific credence for their prejudice. The U of A, having caught wind of this, immediately disavowed the two doctors in question. Yet, much like the reactionary groups propping up McHugh, PCE is suspiciously silent on how it continues to justify supporting doctors who have been told by their employer that their opinions are “inadequate,” which–again–is academic-speak for “fucking ridiculous.”

Perhaps that might suggest that scientific accuracy is not, in fact, their main priority?

-Shiv

Drinking from the well of poisoned waters

This popped into my head while reading a ThinkProgress post on Michigan’s trans affirmation policy. My idea is a bit dramatic, and click-baity, and campy, and I love it nonetheless. While reading a comment we will discuss in a moment, it came to me in some kind of mock interview where I’m asked what it’s like to be a trans feminist, and I reply:

“It’s like drinking from the well of poisoned waters, only everybody’s throwing different poison in.”

What I’m getting at is that the opposition to much of my work exhibits unconscionable degrees of rhetorical nastiness–rhetorical used in the Aristotelian sense of “persuasive.” Note that persuasive does not mean correct, and certainly attacking gender variance in a society that considers the very concept to be perverse or dangerous is something of a low hanging fruit. Even without the rhetorical guttersniping we’re about to examine, it would be a difficult prospect to be the opponent in this scenario.

I present Exhibit A by a “Penny White,” a wonderful demonstration of the multi-faceted and fractal wrongness that informs some of the more virulent strains of transphobia. So I’ll put a hypothesis to the test over the next few months: Refuting transphobic statements takes a 15:1 word ratio.

Content notice, transphobic nastiness:

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Out Magazine glorifies fountain of shit-spewing, Milo Yiannopoulos

ThinkProgress has an open letter addressed to Out Magazine over its soft-ball profile of the alt right’s deep-fried-awful-battered-in-bullshit posterboy, Milo Yiannopoulos.

We are all painfully aware that gay, white, cisgender male narratives have too-long dominated queer media, including those of us who are ourselves gay, white, cisgender men. Just this week, we saw our sisters at AfterEllen.com have to cease editorial operations because a company decided that lesbians were not profitable enough — oblivious to how many bi and lesbian women found important community there. The excess of this narrow branding of the queer community results in erasure of all those who are not highlighted, an erasure that allows stereotypes, discrimination, and abuse to continue unabated against those invisible intersections.

The Out profile of Yiannopoulos represents the peak of this harm. Here is awhite supremacist whose entire career has been built on the attention he can get for himself through provocation. His attacks against women, people of color, Muslims,transgender people, and basically anybody who doesn’t like him are as malicious as they come, and he catalyzes his many “alt-right” followers to turn on any target he deems worthy of abuse. This puff piece — complete with a cutesy clown photoshoot — makes light of Yiannopoulos’s trolling while simultaneously providing him a pedestal to further extend his brand of hatred. Indeed, he does so in the profile itself, openly slurring the transgender community, which Out published without any apparent concern.

As members of the LGBT media, we believe we all must hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard. Many of us are members of the LGBT community ourselves, and we all develop content that serves the LGBT community either directly as an audience, or on its behalf by educating broader audiences about our politics and our cultures. We thus have an obligation, at a minimum, to ensure that what we publish — no matter how crass or sensationalized it may be — avoids fostering harm to queer people. Out failed in this regard.

Add my name to the list of signatories. Fucker couldn’t lose access to his internet fast enough. May every microphone he bloviate into break before he gets the chance to speak.

-Shiv

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA No

One day I might have a reasoned response to this, but for now I mostly plan on mocking it mercilessly:

Minnesotans are the face of a new campaign by a national network of anti-LGBTQ organizations. The campaign, #askmefirst, features Christians imploring schools, businesses, and “transgender activists” to ask them for permission before allowing transgender people to use the bathroom.

Hey Christians:

#AskMeFirst before you start proselytizing.

#AskMeFirst before you open your Bible.

#AskMeFirst before you open your mouth.

#AskMeFirst before one of your priests goes to the washroom.

#AskMeFirst before you leave church. I’d rather you just stay there. 24/7.

#AskMeFirst before you broadcast the Pope.

Motherfucker, I don’t need your god damn permission fulfill basic bodily functions, you arrogant, sanctimonious self-righteous sacks of shit.

-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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Why casting cis men as trans women in film is a bad idea

Content notice: Transmisogyny and more clueless cissexism.

I hate Hollywood. Have I mentioned that? 90 minutes has never in the history of cinema adequately captured the nuance of literally fucking anything, and Hollywood is often the only source of education gazillions of people get because educating yourself is hard, and the consequence of this is a gullible-as-shit public.

So, let’s talk about one more of Hollywood’s vapid stunts, casting Matt Bomer to play a prostitute trans woman in the film Anything.

In the movie, which is based on a play by Timothy McNeil, Lynch plays a man named Early Landry who is suicidal over the death of his wife. Early moves from Mississippi to Los Angeles, where he can be under the watchful eye of his protective sister, Laurette (Tierney). However, when Early begins an intense new friendship with Freda (Bomer), a transgender sex worker, the unlikely new couple must reconcile their vastly different backgrounds as they fill the void in each other’s lives.

Nope-Can-Cooler-by-SUPERKOLDIE-03 nope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOPE.

Okay, so. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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The “Clueless Moderate” Gap

There’s a gap in the data, see. And I want to give this gap a name. Maybe the Clueless Moderate Gap?

I’ve written before on two topics: The tendency of Moderates to advocate for something in the abstract but oppose it in practice; and how Canadians supported affirmation of trans rights in the abstract but oppose them in practice.

 

CBC posts a rather optimistic article that perfectly demonstrates this gap.

Eighty-four per cent of people surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute said they would support adding gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act — one of several questions in a poll on transgender issues where a firm majority said Canadians should “accept, accommodate, and move on.”

Then, not half a screen later…

Asked about a trans girl or trans boy using the washroom that corresponded with their gender identity, approximately 67 per cent said it was acceptable.

Right there. 84% saying they’re cool with trans rights, 67% saying they’re cool with trans bathroom access–and somehow, at least some people claiming to occupy one position but not the other despite the contradiction inherent thereof.

This is why I’m frustrated by this kind of reporting. 84% of respondents did not support trans rights, because some of those respondents still want to restrict our access to gendered facilities. That is the opposite of support. That’s throwing your weight behind the bathroom bill reactionaries. That’s eliminating our ability to go out in public. That’s putting us in danger. That is the fucking harmful status quo trans activists are trying to change.

Here’s what I want the next poll to do: Don’t ask people if they support explicit protections for trans folk. Instead, ask questions like “would you support a coworker or employee’s transition at the workplace?” “would you agree with letting trans folk share your facilities?” or “should trans women be imprisoned in men’s prisons [and vice versa]?” Then, instead of asking point blank whether trans people should be protected–which most people aren’t heartless enough to say “no” to–define “trans affirmation” as the logically consistent set of answers that actually supports us. 

I suspect you’ll take care of that Clueless Moderate Gap and paint a much clearer picture on the prevalence of transphobia, rather than shrugging and posting a useless feel good post about how accepting Canadians are–when they aren’t!

-Shiv

Signal boosting: Seeing myself in Trump

When the statues mocking Donald Trump were raised, they had unfortunate implications. Instead of arguing that Trump was a monster because of his actions (of which there are many to plunder), it made him a symbol of ridicule by representing a non-normative body. An old body, a cellulite body, an intersex body. Many people, myself included, weren’t particularly comfortable with the comparison. Trump is monstrous because he’s an asshole, a xenophobe, a racist, a rapist–not because an intersex body is in any way objectively immoral.

Chris Hall agrees with me.

At first, it was easy to laugh at the statues, because Donald Trump’s entire image is based on a blustering, ferocious masculinity that crumbles under the most superficial examination. Trump is, to my knowledge, the first serious presidential candidate who’s explicitly bragged about the size of his cock while on the campaign trail. I’ve seen other politicians do it symbolically by waving missiles, flagpoles, and rifles around, but Trump has been so brazen that it seems like an act of restraint on his part that he hasn’t actually suggested that the voters might like to go down on him. Maybe that comes later. Maybe he plans to include public fellatio as part of his presidential inauguration. Which, to be honest, might actually be an improvement on the traditional swearing in on the Bible. I can clearly say that I’ve always found oral sex a lot more enjoyable, enlightening, and genuinely moving than reading the Bible. On the other hand, none of my oral sex experiences have involved Donald Trump, a man who has raped at least one of his wives. I for one would like to keep it that way.So, at first glance, the statues, collectively titled “The Emperor Has No Balls,” seem to strike at the very heart of Trump’s brand.

But here’s the thing: Like I said before, there’s too much of me in that statue for me to laugh very long. There’s too much in that statue of too many people that I know or care about for the joke not to taste bitter and cruel after more than a few moments. While social justice movements have been working to build intersectional organizations and solutions, INDECLINE managed to come up with a perfect storm of intersectional cruelty.

Please consider this next time you mock Trump. It’s not like there’s a shortage of material there.

-Shiv

“No way under heaven,” says Baptist school after being told to respect Queer youth

Two Baptist schools which are financed by public money have decided they are not going to draft a Queer-inclusive policy for their students, despite it being required by Bill 7, Bill 10, and the Education Minister: (emphasis mine)

A Spruce Grove pastor who oversees two Christian private schools has accused Alberta’s education minister of wielding “dictatorial power” on the issue of LGBTQ rights, and says his board has no intention of complying with the government’s new policy.

I have a duty as a pastor to protect the flock of God,” said pastor Brian Coldwell, chair of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society, which runs two schools in rural Parkland County with a total of 200 students. “And there is no way under heaven I’m going to allow gay activists to come in here and basically undermine our ministries and our religious freedoms or confuse and corrupt our children.”

Okay, so, essentially he’s complaining because the government, which pays his salary, is saying he has to treat Queer students with respect, as mandated by law, because his “flock” needs to be “protected” from “gay activists” who “confuse and corrupt” children. That’s a funny story coming from the same institution that routinely protects pedophiles and brainwashes them into thinking Queer people are broken, perverted, or otherwise dangerous.

Here’s an unsettling revelation: The St. Albert Catholic School Board has in writing that its “guiding policy” for Queer youth is to preach “chastity.”

(6) Imposes no special requirements/additional constraints  Calls students with same-sex attractions to a life of prayer, self-control, and chastity.  Procedure explicitly requires a staff advisor of any student group to impose the “Church’s definition of chastity as a basis for advising students within their work” (Procedure 4.6 & 4.7).  Requires any student group (such as a GSA or QSA) the additional burden to follow the “CCSSA Life Framework” (See Procedure 3 and Appendix 1).

These abusive mother fuckers are receiving my tax money to install god damn fucking conversion therapy-lite in god damn fucking public school. This religious indoctrination is precisely why the suicide rate is so high for Queer youth. And this shit is being taught in publicly funded schools!

David Swann, the leader of the Alberta Liberal Party (yes, they still exist) has also called on David Eggen to not only dismantle antagonistic school boards, but to ban conversion therapy.

“The legislation, supported by every provincial party, and the policies set forth by the government, were created to provide kids with the right to be who they are,” said Swann. “No organization, especially a school, should have the ability to take those rights away.”

“This is precisely the situation where LGBTQ protections are most needed,” Swann said in a statement. “There is an antagonistic school board and a strong bias against the LGBTQ community.”

Swann also called on Eggen to ban the practice of conversion therapy throughout the education system, after Coldwell said Christian counseling would be used to help LGBTQ students.

“This type of ‘therapy’ is widely opposed by experts in psychology, psychiatry and social work,” said Swann. “There is no place for it in Alberta’s schools.”

A petition has been started to lobby for the pulling of these school’s public funding. Please sign it here.

If schools that receive Albertan education funding dollars do not want to follow the law – they should not continue to be funded by the taxpayer, obviously. Tax money is not meant to subsidize spaces that make LGBTQ2+ students unsafe. Every student has a right to attend school in a safespace, Brian Coldwell has repeatedly demonstrated in public he is incapable of providing that – including during a bizarre interview on Ryan Jespersen’s radio show a few weeks ago where he discussed ex-gay “Pray the Gay away” conversion techniques which can cause irreversible psychological damage and amounts to child abuse.

Your signature and signal boosting are hugely appreciated. Call on the NDP to take action instead of grandstanding. I am sick to my stomach just thinking about “Christian counselling” and “chastity” advice.

-Shiv


 

August 30: Earlier version of this article said the two schools were Catholic. I’ll own up to it–I just assume every time religious dickheads do dickhead things in Alberta, it’s the god damn Catholics. In fairness, St. Albert’s Queer policy is still rancid.

Another god damn trigger warning & safe space debate

Content Notice: Trigger warnings. /snark

More serious content notice: I’ll use transphobia to make my point.

Imagine for a moment you’re in a class where today’s topic is “Freedom of Movement.” The professor introduces the concept and states today’s lecture is specifically about the contexts in which it is appropriate to restrict freedom of movement. They go over things like “a building is on fire and the fire department needs you to get out the way,” or “it’s one way to punish lawbreakers without causing permanent injury.”

Now imagine someone interrupts the professor to make an argument about how it’s wrong to expect them to get off of someone’s toes because it restricts freedom of movement. “I have a right to stand on Sally’s toes,” he says, ignoring Sally’s numerous protestations.

That is how fucking absurd this debate is. Every time it comes up–and this isn’t the first–you get a whole lot of talking past each other, because one side of the debate thinks they have a right to stand on Sally’s toes.

Problem #1: I don’t think that means what you think it means.

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