Free Speech Goes Both Ways — My Latest for Splice Today

I forgot to share this yesterday.

My friend Helen Pluckrose of Areo Magazine spoke on a panel recently at Portland State University called “We Need to Talk about Diversity,” which also featured James Damore, the Google Memo Guy. Based on all accounts, everything ran smoothly, except for one incident where someone smashed audio equipment. Other than that, Antifa didn’t show up and burn anything down like last year during a Milo Yiannopoulos speaking engagement.

There’s a myth that Leftists are against free speech and want to shut down controversial speeches. I’m a proud Leftist, and consider myself one of the most pro-free speech people around. In fact, I believe the Portland State panel could’ve been more pro-free speech if they had actual people of color and LGBTQ people to talk about diversity rather than four white people.

Critics of identity politics often say that identity has nothing to do with the validity of one’s argument. When it comes to social and political issues, however, including people from different backgrounds creates a more diverse array of opinions on controversial subjects.

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #138: Queer Disbelief with Camille Beredjick

My guest for today is Camille Beredjick. She’s a journalist who blogs about LGBTQ rights on the blogs GayWrites and Friendly Atheist. She has a new book out called “Queer Disbelief” that explains why atheists should care about LGBTQ rights. Today we talk about her back story, her work, and the new book.

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The #MeToo Conversation Erases Trans People — My First Article for HuffPost Opinion

CN: Sexual Assault, Transphobia

The Me Too movement has given many women the courage to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault and has opened up a nationwide dialogue about consent and sexual misconduct in our culture. As with many mainstream feminist movements, however, the movement has been silent at best — and hostile at worst — when it comes to the experiences of transgender people.

Take, for example, actress Rose McGowan’s encounter with a trans woman at a Jan. 31 speaking engagement. During an appearance at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, Andi Dier stood up and challenged comments McGowan had made on RuPaul’s podcast “What’s the Tee?” last year. “They [trans women] assume,” the actress said on the podcast, “because they felt like a woman on the inside . . . That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman.”

“Trans women are dying,” Dier said during her confrontation with McGowan, “and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away].” The confrontation erupted into a shouting match between the two, ending with Dier being escorted out of the venue and McGowan having a public breakdown.

To be fair, McGowan did say trans women are women during her talk, and she acknowledged the alarming rates of sexual violence against trans women.

Shortly after the encounter, allegations of sexual misconduct against Dier came to light, some of them dating back to 2010. However, instead of focusing on transmisogyny and sexual assault against trans and gender-nonconforming people, most of the media focus was on McGowan. This, unfortunately, is just one example how trans and gender-nonconforming people’s stories are far too often ignored.

Read the rest here.

(BTW, I already had to mute a TERF on Twitter who accused me of saying cis lesbians have to fuck trans women, even though I said nothing of the sort.)

The Biskeptical Podcast #42: More Guns, Less Care

Today on the show, we take a look at the Trump administration’s proposed budget (spoiler alert, we’re fucked), as well their new plan to cut the food stamp program and a bill that will roll back disability rights. Plus, we talk about the recent shooting in Florida, and why it represents all that is bad about America.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #137: Yelling at the Atheist Community with Larry Yellingman

My guest for today is Larry Yellingman. He’s the host of the new podcast Man Yelling at the News where he and two guests talk—and yell—about the latest news. Today I have him on the show to get to know him a little bit more, but mostly to yell at the atheist community.

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The Facts Behind Gender Pronoun Activism — My Latest for Splice Today

There’s a festering debate about whether cisgender people can talk about transgender issues. I believe cis people should have the same free speech rights as me, and cis people should talk about transphobia with other cis people. However, when it comes to explaining what it means to be trans and gender nonconforming, it’s best to leave that up to trans and gender nonconforming people themselves. If not, one ends up with Andrew Moody’s latest Splice Today article “The Truth Behind Gender Pronoun Activism.” Despite what the title claims, the facts reveal that the so-called “truth” is anything but.

In the first paragraph, Moody equates being a trans woman with rape and that being trans is a mental illness. While anyone can be a rapist, including trans women, statistics show that trans women are more likely to be raped than they are to rape anyone else. Also, while the DSM-V does include gender dysphoria, it doesn’t say that being trans is a mental disorder. Instead, gender dysphoria describes the anguish and distress trans people experience when there’s an “incongruence between a person’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics.” If being trans was a mental disorder, why does the American Psychological Association say trans people “are more likely to experience positive life outcomes when they receive social support or trans-affirmative care” instead of conversion therapy?

Read the rest here.

I Can Only Take You So Far — My Latest for Splice Today

As a bisexual genderqueer person in a world where sexuality and gender are still seen as strict binaries of gay/straight and man/woman, I had some explaining to do when first coming out. I love educating people most of the time. That’s why I write about sexuality and gender for various websites, talk about those issues on my Bi Any Means Podcast, and did a presentation on non-binary gender identities at last year’s American Humanist Association conference. I lost count of how many people have walked up to me at conferences and sent messages thanking me for what I do, so apparently I’m doing something right.

However, sometimes people treat me as not just a source of information, but the ultimate source of all things LGBTQ rights. For example, a few years ago a Facebook friend messaged me and asked what I meant when I said I was genderqueer. I explained it to her, and she seemed to get it, but then she started asking about asexuality and pansexuality. It probably wasn’t her intention, but I got the impression that she expected me to educate her about all the letters in LGBTQIAA. I wanted to scream, “Google is free!”

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #136: Bisexual Activism with Miles Joyner

My guest for today is Miles Joyner. They are a twenty-something bisexual non-binary college student who runs the Miles the Bisexual Facebook page where they share memes, articles, and blog posts about bisexuality. Today we’re going to get to know Miles a bit more and all the stuff they do.

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In Defense of Gender Neutral Pronouns – My Latest for Splice Today

My Splice Today colleague Chris Beck wrote about how polarizing Jordan Peterson is, and I want to highlight what first put Peterson in the public spotlight: his refusal to refer to transgender students by gender neutral pronouns. In 2016, Peterson released a series of YouTube videos in which he railed against political correctness, specifically how, according to him, Canada’s C-16 bill would throw him in prison for not referring to trans students by gender-neutral pronouns. Most legal experts disagreed with his assertion, Parliament passed the bill, and Peterson hasn’t been arrested since.

The reason why he’s so adamantly against gender-neutral pronouns is, according to a televised debate, he thinks they’re “the constructions of people who have a political ideology” and “an attempt to control language… by force.” Peterson also claims that while the singular they has been used on occasion, it has never been used as a replacement for he or she.

The truth is more complex than Peterson’s talking points. Technically all language is constructed. All words are made up. I don’t know the exact origin of human language (although this neat little pamphlet from the Linguistic Society has some speculations), but do know that as new ideas develop, words are created in order to express those ideas.

Read the rest here.

(So far no trolling from Peterson fanboys yet.)

Dodge Ram’s Super Bowl Fail

Another Super Bowl has come and gone. Another over-hyped football game, another excuse for Americans to pig out, another bubble gum pop halftime show full of cheap thrills, and another parade of commercials promoting the American Dream through gross commercialism. Now it’s time for everyone to gather around the water cooler to talk about this year’s celebration of American capitalism.

This year’s Super Bowl commercials were the usual collection of hits (Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rapping, David Harbour’s Tide ads) and misses (Bud Light continuing to try to make “Dilly dilly” a thing). One commercial that got people talking was Dodge Ram using an old Martin Luther King Jr. sermon to sell trucks. On the surface, everything looks good: a montage of teachers, soldiers, barbers, and first responders serving their respective community while Dr. King says, “You don’t have to know the theory of relativity to serve.” However, given the context of Dr. King’s legacy, the commercial is an ultimate failure.

Americans like to remember King as a neo-liberal hippie-dippie “Let’s love everyone” kind of person. He may have preached nonviolent resistance and dreamed of a world where his children would be judged by their character instead of their skin color. However, history has watered down Dr. King’s radicalism in order to make him more palatable to the general public, ultimately molding him as the Respectable Negro prototype.

For example, during the Baltimore Uprising of 2015, many white commentators rung their hands and said, “Martin Luther King wouldn’t have wanted this.” It’s true that King didn’t condone the race riots of the 1960s, but he stated publicly he could not condemn them either because “a riot is the language of the unheard.” In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” he condemned white moderates for constantly telling him, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” (even though now white moderates use King’s nonviolent resistance example to perpetuate respectability politics). And in his 1967 speech “The Three Evils of Society,” King reminded listeners that “capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, both here and abroad.”

Interestingly enough, the sermon that Dodge Ram used for their ad, “The Drum Major Instinct,” has something to say about advertising:

Now the presence of this instinct [to join the crowd] explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. That’s the way the advertisers do it.

Of course this is nothing new. Capitalism has a history of using yesterday’s revolutionaries as today’s marketing gimmicks (Che Guevara shirts, anyone?). Hell, as we’ve seen with Kylie Jenner’s tone deaf Pepsi ad, marketers can even use today’s fight for liberation to sell products! If the French Revolution occurred today, I have no doubt Coca-Cola would put guillotines on their cans in order to make a profit.

I can only imagine what next year’s Super Bowl ads have in store. Malcolm X selling shampoo? A Taco Bell commercial starring a hologram of Sylvia Rivera? Angela Davis driving a Ford? The possibilities are endless at this point, and that’s what scares me.