Transition Reactions p7: Feeling unsafe vs. Being unsafe

Content Notice: Abuse and violence of all stripes.


I haven’t had a great year, so far. I left an abusive relationship in which I was sexually assaulted, and my vindication (snark) was to lose my chosen family because I spoke out about it. I had all the sting of family rejection–plus a generous helping of self blame. After all, I chose them. I don’t even have the excuse that they were thrust upon me by circumstance. I trusted them, and was rewarded with cold shoulders, victim-blaming, “taking no side”ism, etc. I had trusted friends tell me they believed my story and then… nothing. My abuser was still welcome at every venue we shared. “No drama” became the watchword. Shouting me down was the response any time murmurs of coming forward surfaced. That’s what my reputation became: dramatic, a ticking time bomb. Unreliable. Untrustworthy. Don’t play with her, she’ll malign you over a silly mistake (a “silly mistake” that has landed me in trauma counselling). Soon the rumours make a round trip through all the lovely cogs of rape culture and I get the freeze for “spreading rumours.”

Trying to grapple with that and the fallout of leaving an abusive relationship, including the PTSD?

Yeah. 2016–worst year of my life. And it’s not even over.

During all that I lost gainful employment, just as the economy started to really tank. What was painful about that was that it was a work place where I could be openly trans. I swore off the private sector after routinely being told to endure abuses from my coworkers. My boss basically said it was on me to go back in the closet if I wanted the workplace harassment to stop. Government employers actually did something about it, when it happened. And non-profit? I’ve never had a problem with a bigoted coworker. After all you don’t get far working for crisis resources by being an insensitive asshole. Emotional intelligence is a prerequisite.

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Cishet kinksters expecting GSD minorities to protect their privilege

Benny over on The Orbit did a repost of one of his pieces. In his post, Benny more eloquently expresses than I ever could the sheer boiling rage I get from the “closet culture” that the cishet kink community exhibits.

The fear of the cisgender heterosexual kinkster is that someone, usually someone from work, school, or family, would see them with “weird” people out in public and suddenly realize this obviously means they must be a big pervert. This fear, the idea of not seeming “normal” is terrifying. They claim they could loose their jobs, spouses, children. Being even seen with us has the chance of taking away their enormous privilege.

Worse, they believe we have a responsibility to protect that privilege. In order for them to maintain their comfort and ability to keep jobs (jobs we could never get) we must appear normal or not show up. In order for them to have access to kinky communities without risk the rest of us – the queers, the trans* people, and the weirdos with facial piercings and green hair – need to change ourselves or stay home. They want privileged access to kinky spaces just like they have privileged access to everything else.

FUCK THAT. A trans* kinkster has no responsibility to be someone they are not just to protect the next person who walks through the door from the tiny chance that they might have to explain why they’re at the same coffee shop table with a man in a skirt. Every day that we leave the house we have to explain ourselves. Cisgender newbie? Welcome to our fucking world. That’s the way we’re treated all of the time.

Ra-fucking-men, Benny. Right there with you.


The politics of transphobia: We’ve been here before

Over on the TransAdvocate, Cristan Williams examines the history of the “bathroom panic” as the flashpoint of discrimination for minorities in the past century. She finds, unsurprisingly, that the same tactics used to justify discrimination of Black people, Jewish people, and Gay people are identical; as is the rhetoric used today to paint trans women as predators and disease carriers.

During the rally, CCS co-founder Danny Holliday told the crowd that the “leaders” of the trans rights movement were pedophiles who enjoyed having sexual intercourse with animals.

Political discourse situated around the minority use of bathrooms has featured significantly in numerous social equality struggles, from the fight to preserve racist Jim Crow laws to the sexist battle to keep the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from being ratified. Rhetorical themes featuring bathrooms, privacy, and safety concerns are integral aspects of a specific and identifiable political dialectic used to incite, promote, and sustain the fear that an oppressed group may well rape, molest, harass or infect the majority group should equality between the two groups come to pass. In contemporary times, this political dialectic features prominently in narratives supporting North Carolina’s recently passed law mandating that transgender people who’ve not been able to amend their birth certificate use the restroom assigned to them at birth rather than the restroom that matches their transitioned status, irrespective of legal identification or phenotype. Proponents of laws like North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill” assert that these laws are needed to ensure that A.) the privacy of cisgender people is respected[1]; B.) without these laws, rapists will dress in drag in order to molest little girls in the restroom[2]; and, C.) transgender people are actually perverts and pedophiles who need to be prevented from accessing women’s restrooms[3].

I first wrote about the ways in which contemporary anti-equality discourse situated around trans issues closely resembled the sexist discourse used against the Equal Rights Amendment in a 2013 Autostraddle article. In doing my research for the article you are now reading, I came across the work of Gillian Frank, PhD, a visiting fellow at Princeton. I reached out to Frank to help me better understand the ways in which the very discourse currently focused upon the trans community was used against other marginalized groups throughout American history.  What follows is my interview with Frank and a review of the ways anti-equality groups have historically cast oppressed groups as voyeurs and/or perverts, warning the public that should an oppressed group have equality, bad things may happen in public bathrooms.

You can read the rest here and support the TransAdvocate as a patron here.


Liars citing liars

This is starting to get exhausting:

Earlier this year, the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) issued a position statement rejecting transgender kids. Now, the fake medical organization that exists solely to oppose abortion and LGBT equality — not to be confused with the legitimate American Academy of Pediatricians — has published a more extensive manifesto denying the reality that some kids are transgender and benefit from being respected in those identities.

ACP’s thesis is founded on false statements that begin appearing by the second sentence of the document. Here are 14 claims the ACP makes about kids’ gender identities that are either unsupportable or directly contradicted by the available research:

Fucking seriously. I’m so done. No amount of fact checking penetrates these fucking brickheads, and there are rubes who will blindly accept the ACP’s myth-riddled manifesto. You can’t take a sieve and claim you have a fucking bucket!

At the core of it all, once again: Disagreement over what constitutes a good outcome. Cisgender child, or happy child regardless of their gender? ACP thinks the lens of analysis should not be ethics or psychiatry, but normativity. 

Read the rest here. I’m gonna snap soon. We have had this conversation over and over and over and over and over. And thanks to the ACP, we’ll keep having to have the conversation over and over and over again, and it’ll keep going nowhere, because critical thinking is in short fucking supply apparently.

And unlike myths about conceptsthese fuckers are influencing the lives of people. Real kids. They’re antagonizing proven healthcare models that help trans people function. This isn’t just some bogus creationist getting facts about physical sciences wrong, this is a lobby trying to pound a certain class of people into the ground. They would see us straddled with widespread discrimination and an illness eating us up from the inside to be treated with torture and shame. That’s their idea of medicine–treating cancer with snake oil and polio with bloodletting. Let’s bring back the quackery of humors while we’re at it and restore the good ol’ days when people still died of fucking dysentery.

Jesus H Christ.


By what measure of “effective”?

While reading some of Julia Serano’s work, there was one statement she made about the battle between gender-affirmation treatment models and gender-antagonistic treatment models pointed out by anat in our comments that made me take a second (actually fifth or sixth) look: (emphasis mine)

We can continue to debate the efficacy of gender transition, or of gender-reparative versus gender-affirming approaches, and each side will be able to find statistics to support their side of the argument. But what is really driving this debate is a difference of opinion with regards to what constitutes a “good outcome.” Trans activists and advocates like myself generally think that a good outcome is a happy child, regardless of whether they transition or not, or whether they grow up to be transsexual, non-binary, gender non-conforming, lesbian, gay, bisexual, etcetera. Trans-antagonistic and trans-suspicious people (who constantly cite “80% desistance”) seem to think that a good outcome is a cisgender child, and they seem to be willing to make transphobic arguments and subject transgender and gender non-conforming children to clinically ordained transphobia (i.e., gender-reparative therapies) in order to achieve that end goal.

I’ve certainly tried to explain how frustrating the media can be when it comes to covering trans issues, including trans research. In addition to the media, trans folk have to contend from misinformation perpetuated by religious fundamentalists and/or TERFs as well as academics whose work is completely imbecilic. Common among the many, many groups that antagonize trans women is a refrain that transitioning doesn’t “fix” anything, sometimes citing (when they remember evidence should back up their claims) a Swedish longitudinal study following two cohorts of transgender women over the course of several decades. The Swedish study found that many of the health outcomes of trans women were still poor after transitioning, including gender affirmation surgery.

The problem, of course, is that the numerous trans-antagonistic lobbies didn’t actually finish reading the paper. The primary author of the Swedish study, Cecilia Dhejne, is not pleased with the way her work has been hijacked by motivated reasoners:

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That’s an odd way of using the word “choice”

I’ve long lamented the role of Catholic institutions in my government. Initially a persecuted minority, Catholic institutions that were established prior to Canadian confederation had their role cemented by law as part of the agreement to confederate. It was an agreement to legitimize what was, at the time, an organized–if widely discriminated against–minority. The problem, of course, is that these days education tends to be a matter of the theoretically secular government that runs the province… except that these Catholic institutions are happily trodding on secular law by shoehorning “conscience exemptions” into every damn bill that crosses the Legislature’s table. In other words, Catholic institutions don’t have to follow the law.

We’re long past the openly violent conflict between Protestants and Catholics, yet Catholics still enjoy their role in government. Or, I would say that, if not for my favourite advocacy group ever, Parents for Choice in Education. Apparently not satisfied with indoctrinating their children in both faith-based school and church (and in homeless shelters and hospitals–their reach is far), PCE, despite being called a “choice” organization, seems chiefly interested in making everyone else follow their choices.

I’ve written about PCE before. They were the ones who said the new Albertan government would “foist comprehensive sex education on schools next,” and meant it as a bad thing.

Just let that sink in for a moment. Comprehensive sex ed. The thing that reduces teen pregnancy. The thing that reduces the rate of abortion. The thing that reduces the rate of STI transmission. The thing that allows women to participate in the economy, drives up the GDP, drives down the cost of healthcare, stabilizes population growth, mitigates numerous health problems, reduces the rate of domestic and relationship violence, and perhaps most noticeably puts a dent in the poverty cycle.

Class mobility. Cheaper healthcare. Lower crime rate. Bad. 

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Killed for being trans, but it’s not a hate crime?

Content Notice: transmisogyny, graphic violence.

Another trans woman murdered in her own home. The attacker repeatedly called her the devil prior to killing her. Killed for the crime of existing while trans, and the police have not classified it as a hate crime.

Columbus, Ohio police are investigating the death of 28-year-old Rae’Lynn Thomas, who was shot and killed by her mother’s ex-boyfriend, who lived with her family at the time, according to WBNS.

Thomas’ mother, Renee Thomas, shared her daughter’s final words with local news:

“Mom, please please don’t leave me. Mom, I’m dying,” she said. “Mom, I love you. Tell my sisters and my brother I love them. Tell my family I love them. Mom, I’m dying, I’m dying, please don’t leave me.”

Renee Thomas said her daughter transitioned 10 years ago. Rae’Lynn’s aunt, Shannon Thomas, said Rae’Lynn was a performer who was dedicated to fashion.

According to Renee Thomas, her ex James Allen Byrd was transphobic and often called Rae’Lynn “the devil.” Renee Thomas says Byrd repeated the word before shooting Rae’Lynn in their Columbus home.

“He was in the bedroom and he just came around the corner and shot my [daughter],” she said. After two shots, Byrd grabbed Rae’Lynn and began beating her.

“He took a light away from all of us that we can’t get back,” Shannon Thomas said to WBNS. “And he needs to pay. He needs to pay.”

At least five transgender women have been killed in the past two months. On Wednesday, Mic reported that 36-year-old Erykah Tijerina was killed in El Paso, Texas. In July, three transgender women were killed in the United States: Washington, D.C.’s  Deeniquia Dodds, Mississippi’s Dee Whigham and Cleveland’s Skye Mockabee. Mockabee and Thomas’s death happened within weeks of each other in the same state — Ohio.

Local Ohio community organizers have expressed their condolences and plan to take action.

“Our hearts, minds and condolences are with the family, friends, and community of Rae’Lynn in this time of tragedy,” Aaron Eckhardt, training and technical assistance director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, said in a statement.

“We must continue to come together as a broad community of support to say hate has no home in Ohio, hate has no home anywhere,” Echardt added.

An official from New York City’s Anti-Violence Project said this is the 18th confirmed killing of a transgender or gender nonconforming person in 2016.

Of the 24 reported hate violence homicides of LGBTQ people in 2015, 67% were transgender or gender nonconforming, according to the NCAVP‘s annual report on hate violence. Thirteen of the 24 — 54% of those killed — were trans women of color.

Both Rae’Lynn’s mother and aunt want to see Byrd spend his life in jail.

“I want to see him go to jail forever,” Shannon Thomas said.

“Life in prison. Spend your life in prison. That’s what you do,” Renee Thomas said. “I don’t want you to spend your life with your family.”

Byrd, 53, is being held on a $2 million bond and faces a murder charge for Rae’Lynn’s death, which is not being investigated as a hate crime.

Say her name. Rae’Lynn.


Western transphobes want you to know how much better they are than Arabic transphobes commentators want you to know Muslims are alright as long as they’re discriminating against trans women.

Or–wait, no, they want you to know you’d be EXECUTED in Islam! You’re lucky you can be sent to prison for peeing in America or that one of the presidential candidates is representing the most rabidly anti-LGBT platform in the party’s history!

GiGi Gorgeous was denied entry to the United Arab Emirates because she is transgender.

So, what do these Western commentators do to demonstrate how much more civilized the West is? Why, up the ante on transphobia to demonstrate how much better we have it, obviously.


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Transphobes inoculated against facts

If any of you want a demonstration of willful ignorance, check out this article on transgender athletes:

But plenty of other prominent athletic leagues have instituted policies for allowing transgender athletes to compete with others have the same gender, including the NCAA and the Olympics. Both simply require that athletes have undergone at least one year of hormone replacement therapy. That’s because it’s the hormones that matter, and research has shown that trans athletes lose any competitive advantage they might have had after hormones begin to make changes to their bodies, such as to their muscle mass. A recent studyspecifically confirmed this result in transgender runners.

The author of the piece helpfully points out a number of factors that challenge the exclusion of trans folk in competing in gender segregated sports.

  1. Literally any physical attribute which contributes to fitness in sports can be possessed by both AFABs or AMABs–cited in the article is the example of a 6’7″ AFAB cis woman competing in basketball having an edge over her competitors, just as any other 6’7″ competitor would;
  2. The more malleable facets of fitness, like muscle mass/tone, are governed by sex hormones–in this respect, trans and cis athletes are nearly identical (trans women in fact have lower testosterone than cis women);
  3. Bio sex is a blurry concept when you look closely under the microscope, and setting precedents for policing trans bodies will inevitably bleed into policing uncommon phenotypes in cis bodies–even if the sex hormones are still in the typical range otherwise.

All of these have citations in the author’s article. You can fact-check the claims.

Despite this, transphobic commentators make the exact same arguments that were just refuted in the article.

How do you get through to someone like this? I can’t even.

“I can prove gravity is an attractive force by dropping this pencil. See? It falls to the Earth.”

“No it doesn’t! It clearly just floated into the sky!”

Sure makes you rethink that painfully stubborn “activists against science” trope, no? Who, exactly, is denying science here?


Texas needs a reminder on the definition of insanity

Apparently not convinced from their many defeats in the many levels of court, Texas lawmakers have vowed to pull a North Carolina come their next session in January, further demonstrating my belief that authoritarians must receive vaccines to immunize them against irony:

GOP state Rep. Matt Shaheen told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, for a story published Sunday, that he plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit cities, counties and school districts from allowing transgender people to use restrooms based on their gender identity.

“We’re taking that ability away,” Shaheen said. “We should leave that power where it should reside, at the state and federal level. I think this is such a silly topic. At the end of the day, this is about common sense and decency.”

No it’s fucking not, Shaheen. Common sense and decency would be actually doing something useful with your time, and instead you are perpetuating a violent lobby that makes it impossible to exist while trans. It’s a cultural genocide. To say it is “indecent” would be putting it lightly.

Shaheen is joined by another witless cocksplat, Bill Zedler

GOP Rep. Bill Zedler, who once tried to ban LGBT resource centers on state university campuses, told the Star-Telegramthat the issue of trans restroom use “raises concerns mainly because anytime you want to make it where someone who self-identifies as a man … can now go into the woman’s restroom, I believe it puts small children at risk as well as … inconveniencing 99, 98 percent of the population so a very small percent of the population can supposedly feel comfortable.”

They’re not even fucking trying to understand at this point.

Jesus fucking christ. I inconvenience you by existing? Fuck off, you predatory sacks of shit.