Beyond the “Atheist Movement”

Happy Halloween!

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately here. Money’s tight, so I’m focusing more on paying freelance writing gigs. But I do want to mention something that’s been on my mind lately.

Today’s episode of The Thinking Atheist podcast is about whether or not the “atheist movement” is dying. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, but because I’m part of the Outrage Brigade, I’m gonna tell everybody what I think without hearing what others have to say first.

(Just kidding, Seth.)

But seriously, the pessimist in me thinks the movement is on its last legs. From Elevatorgate to MythCon, it seems like the whole scene’s been on a gradual decline. Maybe it was always like that, but it’s only nowadays that everyone’s showing their true colors. Either way, sometimes I wonder if all the alarmist “The Atheist Movement is Dead, and the Alt-Right Killed It” articles were right all along.

On the other hand, the optimist in me thinks the movement is stronger than ever. In the wake of MythCon, several prominent atheists have spoken out against Sargon of Akkad’s hateful rhetoric, including David Silverman, who promised not to invite any shitlords at next year’s American Atheist con. So maybe we’re finally getting serious about trolls and shitlords? Who knows.

Then there’s the realist in me that, I think, has the perfect middle ground: to go beyond the atheist movement.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not divorcing myself from the atheist movement. Through blogging and podcasting, I’ve met so many amazing activists like Callie Wright, Marissa McCool, Sincere Kirabo, Jessica Xiao, and others that I don’t just consider to be my friends, but also my family. I’ve also met a lot of amazing fans that message me to thank me for doing what I do. In fact, a few months ago a young transman reached out to me and Callie during a crisis. I wouldn’t have been able to be there for him without being part of the atheist podcast community, so I can’t leave now.

What I mean is doing activism outside of the atheist community as well as inside it.  Fighting religious dogma in our society is still important to me, but so is fighting racism, sexism, and anti-queer bigotry. I can only do so much within the atheist movement silo, which is why I write for social justice websites like Ravishly and The Establishment. I want to build a bridge between secularism and social justice.

Which is why I’ve already made a New Year’s Resolution: to extend my activism. I hope to do a workshop with members of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance about secular humanism at next year’s Creating Change conference (hopefully we’ll hear back from them tomorrow), and I want to schedule talks in my hometown about LGBTQ rights. I’m also pitching workshop ideas to a few atheist conferences about LGBTQ rights and social justice, and getting more of my feminist freelance writer friends on my Bi Any Means podcast.

Basically at this point in my life, it’s no longer about rubbing shoulders with the big names in the atheist movement. Sure, it’s nice to hug Hemant Mehta and smoke cigarettes with Yvette d’Entremont at PASTAHcon, and have Lucien Greaves tell me he loved my “WTF is Genderqueer?” talk from this year’s AHA conference, but that’s not my top priority. What means the most to me is when someone emails me thanking me for my recent article about gender dysphoria and non-binary people, or when someone reaches out to me to talk about trying to figure out their gender identity, or somebody saying, “Thanks for explaining this whole transgender stuff in a way I can understand.” That, to me, makes the most impact, not brownie points from the big names.

Plus, in the age of Trump, the last thing I need is to be part of a self-congratulating circle-jerk while people are scared about losing their jobs, their homes, and even their very lives. While I’m forever grateful for the platform the atheist community has given me, now it’s time for me to do something good with it.

So here’s the going beyond the atheist movement and getting shit done in 2018!

This Week’s Splice Today Articles

Because I need the money, I’m gonna try writing for Splice Today twice a week. Here are this week’s articles:

“All I Can Control Is Myself.” In this one, I use Sartre’s “No Exit” as a springboard to talk about how I deal with assholes.

“The Troubling Rise of the LGBTQ Right.” This one goes over the sudden rise of right-winged LGBTQ people in the wake of the election.

Enjoy!

And, of course, you can support me financially by becoming a Patreon supporter of my podcasts.

Bi Any Means Podcast #121: Growing Up Intersex with John Schindler

 

My guest for today is John Schindler. They are an intersex activist based in New York who is the co-chair of Intersex Friends and Families. Together with their co-chair Cynthia, they do talks at various organizations about what it means to be intersex, and today John tells us their story for Intersex Awareness Day.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #35: #MeToo and President Pence

CN: Sexual harassment and assault

For the first part of today’s episode, we talk about Harvey Weinstein, the hashtags #MeToo and #IHave, and rape culture. It’s a pretty heavy and uncomfortable conversation about sexual assault and harassment just to warn you all, but a much needed conversation none-the-less. In the second half, we talk about the recent New Yorker article about Mike Pence, and why maybe having him as president might be worse than Trump.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #35: #MeToo and President Pence” on Spreaker.

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Yes, Non-Binary People Experience Gender Dysphoria — My Latest for The Establishment

“You’re not trans. You’re just a transtrender!”

If non-binary people had a nickel every time we heard this, we’d be rich enough to hop a rocket and start our own space colony on Mars. But alas, we’re stuck here on Earth, constantly explaining to everyone what it’s like to not identify within the gender binary.

The “transtrender” argument is rooted in the belief that since non-binary people aren’t transitioning to the opposite biological sex, we must not experience gender dysphoria (defined as “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify”). Therefore, we’re just co-opting trans language to be hip and cool.

This is, in a word, bullshit — and while I expect it from those who are cis, it especially hurts coming from trans people.

Certainly, I understand the need to keep the “this isn’t just a feeling” narrative alive. Transphobes, after all, love to say things like, “Well I feel like a tree, so does that make me a tree?” — despite the number of studies that suggest a scientific basis for gender identity. But why can’t binary trans people understand that, just as they don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, some people don’t identify with “man” or “woman”?

Interestingly enough, the DSM-V describes gender dysphoria in a way that includes non-binary people. Under the list of symptoms, the DSM-V lists strongly identifying as, wanting to be treated as, and having the same feelings as either the opposite sex “or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender.”

Well, that pretty much describes me. I’m not just an androgynous man; my entire sense of self and my experiences do not align with my assigned gender. When I was a child and socialized with girls, I felt like I was one of them. As far as my body goes, it’s complicated. I’m fine with my chest and genitals, but my body hair feels like a foreign object that’s infesting my body.

After talking to several of my non-binary friends, I found they experience similar forms of dysphoria where they are comfortable with some parts of their body, but not others. Could it be that this is the case for many, if not all, non-binary people? There was only one way to find out: the scientific method!

Click here to read the rest.

Bi Any Means Podcast #120: PASTAHcon Recap

Today’s episode is another monologue episode. This time I’m sharing my experiences at PASTAHcon this past weekend. I brought my Zoom H4N portable recorder with me just in case I found someone to interview for the show, and while I met a lot of people that I would love to have on the show in the future, it was much easier for me to just listen to the talks and hang out with friends than try to chase someone down to talk to me for five minutes. Also, I was originally planning on inviting a guest for this week, but since I’m recording the Biskeptical Podcast this week with Morgan and I have a few other projects I need to do, I figure just turning on the mic and talking about this past weekend would be less of a hassle.

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#IHave: Confessions of a Former Sensitive Nice Guy — My Latest for Splice Today

Post-Harvey Weinstein, assault and harassment survivors are talking about their own experiences on social media using the hashtag #MeToo. As a result, many men are holding themselves accountable for harassing and assaulting others using the #IHave hashtag. It’s a great way for men to hold themselves accountable for contributing to the problem, and I confess that even though I’m not a cis man, I, too, have a past. I was never an MRA who thought feminism was a cancer, nor was I a sexual predator. I was worse than that. The MRAs and sexual predators are easy to spot, but there’s another kind of dangerous man whose underlying misogyny and sexism are hard to see until the damage is done: the Sensitive Nice Guy.

Not all men who are genuinely nice and sensitive are bad. When I say Sensitive Nice Guy, I’m specifically referring to guys like Luke Howard, the British musician who thought playing his piano in a park to win back his ex-girlfriend was a good idea. Some may see this as a romantic gesture, but in reality it’s just creepy. He was guilt-tripping his ex into loving him again without a single consideration for her own autonomy. It was all about him and his emotions, and I was that guy at one point.

As an autistic person, my life’s been a never-ending struggle to figure out how to relate to others. In my quest to learn how to interact with people, I picked up a lot of bad ideas without realizing it until much later. One was that since toxic masculinity was bad; the acceptable alternative was to be the brooding, emotional guy (this was before I realized I was trans) waiting for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to save me from my misery a la the movie Garden State. Women’s sole purpose in society was to fulfill my life and be my therapists.

At best, I was annoying, but at worse, I was a creep.

Click here to read the rest.

Bi Any Means Podcast #119: Latinx Secular Politics with Juhem Navarro-Rivera

My guest for today is Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera. According to his official bio, “Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera is a political scientist with expertise in Latinx political behavior and in secularism and politics. He writes about the intersection of secularism, race, and politics in his blog The LatiNone and cohosts The Benito Juárez Experience, a podcast on politics, society, and culture from a secular Latinx perspective. He is author or coauthor of many articles on secularism, politics and race in the United States. He works as managing partner and political director at SocioAnalítica Research. Dr. Navarro-Rivera earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.” And today we’re going to find out more about him and what he does.

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Liberal Politics and Trans Rights — My Latest for Splice Today

Despite the fact Dudebro Classical Liberals have tarnished the word, I still consider myself a liberal. I believe in using free speech to criticize bad speech, a government that works for the people, and liberty and justice for all. I’m also transgender, so when I heard that Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay wrote an article for Areo Magazine called “An Argument for a Liberal and Rational Approach to Transgender Rights and Inclusion,” I had to read it.

I wasn’t expecting much at first, though. For starters, whenever cis straight people talk about a “rational approach” to LGBTQ rights, they end up sounding like the white moderates Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about. Also, Lindsay and I recently had an unproductive conversation on Twitter where I criticized him blaming Trump’s election exclusively on “social justice warriors,” and his response insinuated that I just shut up and go away. But I figured it’d be better if I read the article before criticizing them. It isn’t as bad as I thought, but still missed the mark.

The article begins with a false equivalence. “On the one hand,” Pluckrose and Lindsay write, “we have extreme social conservatives and gender critical radical feminists who claim that trans identity is a delusion and that the good of society depends on opposing it at every turn.” I agree; both social conservatives and TERFS (trans-exclusive radical feminists) perpetuate the deadly myth that trans women are really just men in drag that want to infiltrate women’s spaces in order to assault them (even though studies show trans women are more likely to be assaulted in public bathrooms than cis women). But then: “On the other, we have extreme trans activists who claim not only that trans people straightforwardly are the gender they experience themselves to be but that everyone else must be compelled to accept this, use corresponding language, and be fully inclusive of trans people in their choice of sexual partners.” I can understand objections to the last one, but what’s wrong with the first two? What’s so extreme about trans people wanting to been seen and accepted for who they are?

Click here to read the rest.

And in a strange turn of events, Helen Pluckrose loved the article!

Bi Any Means Podcast #118: Agnosticism, Disability, and Bisexuality with Denarii Monroe

My guest for today is Denarii Monroe. She’s a freelance writer, poet, speaker, and singer based in New York who has written for Everyday Feminism, Ravishly, Wear Your Voice, and Black Girl Dangerous, among other publications. She writes about bisexuality, race, disability, fatphobia, and how they all intersect. So today we’re going to get to know Denarii and her story.

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