The Case for (Some) Tribalism — My Latest for Arc Digital

I have been thinking about tribalism a lot lately—and I know I’m not alone. Just last week, Arc Digital’s Berny Belvedere wrote a piece on it.

Considering differing viewpoints is an intellectual virtue — yet one we tend to emphatically reject. And that’s why it’s accurate to say we live in echo chambers. … Tribalism exists, and it is exacerbated by the echo chambers we willingly retreat into. This just follows from our human nature. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the one hand I agree about the dangers of extreme tribalism. I’m a literal card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but I still read op-eds by Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, and Arc’s Cathy Young to see what they have to say. I disagree with 95 percent of their ideas — often vehemently — but by reading their arguments, I can give them full consideration, even if I go on to reject them in the end.

I can also gain a clearer picture of why I disagree with them, and at precisely which points. If I don’t read opposing viewpoints, I run the risk of misunderstanding those positions. When I do read them, it crystallizes just where the disagreement lies, which then helps me better express how our views differ.

Despite the benefits of familiarizing myself with opposing viewpoints, I sometimes wonder whether tribalism is really as bad as advertised. I sometimes wonder if all tribalisms are equally bad. What if some tribalism is actually conducive to self-preservation?

Read the rest here.

Taking an Indefinite Hiatus from Podcasting

I’m taking an indefinite hiatus from both the Bi Any Means and Biskeptical Podcasts. It’s just not fun anymore for me. Maybe I’ll be back, maybe not. But I’ll still be doing my freelance journalism and hanging around social media, so I’ll still be around. Just not on your MP3 players for the moment.

Two new articles for the price of one!

Today was another twofer day for me where two of my articles got published at the same time.

The first is an op-ed for HuffPost called “Self-Care Is An Act Of Political Warfare.” Here’s an excerpt:

Famed writer and activist Audre Lorde once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” And in a time like this, when one of the most powerful leaders in the world is trying to erase the humanity of so many of our diverse citizens, self-care may be one of the most powerful tools we can use to defeat the problematic powers that be.

“Self-care” is one of those buzzwords that everyone loves to talk about, but it’s been divorced from its original radical roots thanks to capitalism. When we think of self-care, we automatically think of bath bombs, manicures, pedicures and gorging on pizza. While these things are not bad in and of themselves (I definitely ordered an emergency pizza after Kavanaugh was confirmed), consuming makeup and high calories isn’t self-care; it’s self-indulgence.

Real self-care involves taking care of our bodies, our minds and our spirits … especially for those of us who face intersecting forms of oppression.

The second is something Rewire.News asked me to write for them. It’s called “Why ‘Genetic Testing’ for Gender Is Dangerous Pseudoscience.” Excerpt:

On Sunday, the New York Times reported on a leaked memo from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that outlines a plan to define gender with regard to the Title IX civil rights law as, the Times summarized, “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”

“The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate,” the memo reportedly read, “as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

The New York Times didn’t explain what exactly the memo meant by “genetic evidence,” but it likely refers to a common argument from anti-trans conservatives: that chromosomes negate trans people’s identities. For example, in a debate on the talk show Dr. Drew on Call in 2015, Ben Shapiro of the conservative news site Daily Wire said, “It turns out that every chromosome, every cell in Caitlyn Jenner’s body, is male, with the exception of some of [her] sperm cells …. How [she] feels on the inside is irrelevant to the question of [her] biological self.” But this theory—and that is what’s suggested by the HHS memo—is wrong about the science behind gender on two counts: Gender identity likely has some kind of neurological basis, and biological sex is not a strict binary.

I should have a new for Arc Digital coming out soon.

 

 

Bi Any Means Podcast #171: Trump Attacks Trans People…Again

This is another episode I did live on Facebook this past Sunday, not just because I was too lazy to book a guest, but also because the New York Times recently published an article about President Trump’s latest planned attack on trans people. Needless to say, I’ve got some shit to say about this!

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #171: Trump Attacks Trans People…Again” on Spreaker.

Daydream Nation 30 Years Later — My Latest for Splice Today

I first listened to Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation twenty years ago when I was 15, and my first reaction was, “What the fuck is?” I knew that Sonic Youth was supposed to be these incredible alternative rock pioneers that toured with Nirvana shortly before Nevermind came out, and Kim Gordon had a brief cameo in an episode of The Simpsons, but didn’t know anything else about them.

The hip alternative DC radio station at the time, WHFS, wasn’t hip enough to play Sonic Youth, and Spotify didn’t exist, so I had to go to Sam Goody and buy Daydream Nation to see what the big deal was. I hated it. It was noisy, it was repetitive, and the lyrics didn’t make a bit of sense.

As time passed, the album grew on me. I now get why Daydream Nation—which is 30 years old today—matters so much. It’s a work of modern art that should featured at the Hirshorn Museum, and a bridge between the underground 1980s alternative music scene and the early—90s alternative rock explosion.

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #170: Atheism and Social Justice with PZ Myers

My guest for today is PZ Myers. He’s a biologist and blogger who writes about atheism, science, and social justice on Freethought Blogs. Today I have him on the show to get to know him more, plus have a conversation about the current state of movement atheism.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #170: Atheism and Social Justice with PZ Myers” on Spreaker.

The Biskeptical Podcast #57: Taylor Swift Gets Woke

Today we’re going to take a break from Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the rest of all the horrible stuff happening right now, and instead talking about Taylor Swift’s recent endorsement of Tennessee Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper. Will T. Swift help usher the blue wave next month? Do celebrity endorsements in general help elections? Let’s find out!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #57: Taylor Swift Gets Woke” on Spreaker.

Bi Any Means Podcast #169: Godless Mom with Courtney Heard

My guest for today is Courtney Heard. She’s been blogging about atheism and secular humanism at Godless Mom since 2014, and she co-hosts the Common Heathens podcast with Donovan Badrock. Today we get to know more about Courtney and all that she does.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #169: Godless Mom with Courtney Heard” on Spreaker.

What Fuels Suicidality Among Trans Men? — My First Article for INTO

CW: Suicide, Sexual Assault, Racism, Transphobia

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40 percent of trans people have attempted suicide at some point during their lives, and 48 percent have seriously considered it. A more recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics confirms this high risk even among transgender adolescents. Nearly half of adolescent trans guys reported having at least one suicide attempt in their lives, with more than 40 percent of non-binary adolescents and about 30 percent of trans girls reporting the same thing.

What’s interesting to note is how much trans boys are at a great risk of suicide — higher than trans girls and non-binary adolescents — but the study doesn’t explain why. Are there unique obstacles young trans men face that other trans-identified people don’t?

Perhaps surprisingly the answer is yes. “I think one of the obvious risk factors that trans men experience is sexual assault and violence,” says trans blogger Sam Dylan Finch of Let’s Queer Things Up. “Not that we don’t see this happening to folks of other genders, but people perceived as girls and women have a categorical risk for sexual violence that makes them vulnerable early on in life.”

Read the rest here.