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 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.

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.)

Bi Any Means Podcast #130: A Very Gaytheist Friendsmas

Today’s episode is the live Friendsmas show I was a part of on Christmas Eve with Callie and Ari from the Gaytheist Manifesto and Marissa and Aiden from the Inciting Incident. We talked about surviving the holidays as trans people when we’re stuck with reminders of who we used to be and not-so supportive relatives, plus a little bit about my struggle to give myself permission to be myself, along with a tangent about avocado toast for some reason.

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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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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.

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 #117: Life in a Pentecostal Cult with Devyn Lennex

My guest for today is my friend Devyn Lennex. They are 20-something non-binary person who grew up in an extremely conservative Pentecostal cult where they had to wear skirts and couldn’t go anywhere that served alcohol. At 17, they were in what was basically an arranged marriage, but got out at 19 and began their journey to self-discovery and self-agency. So today we’re going to hear Devyn’s story.

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Two New Articles on Ravishly and Splice Today

Forgot to mention last week that my first article for Ravishly went online. It’s called “I’m Done Trying to ‘Prove’ My Non-Binary Identity.” So far it’s gotten good feedback.

I also have a new article published on Splice Today called “A Humanist Struggles with Nonviolence.”

Hopefully once I become more financially stable, I’ll go back to blogging more often.

Is Biological Sex a Social Construct? It’s Complicated — New Paste Magazine Article

Much has been said already about YouTube sex educator Laci Green’s supposed “taking the red pill,” so I don’t want to rehash everything. I do, however, want to bring up one of her latest Twitter threads regarding the phrase “biologically male/female.” Teen Vogue recently published an article about anal sex where they used the terms “prostrate owner” and “non-prostrate owner” instead of “male and female.” Green criticized the article’s use of the terms on her Twitter feed,where she said, “’Female’ and ‘male’ are not identities or genders. They are biological sexes and refer to someone’s literal body parts (for reproduction).” This, along with her latest videos debating whether or not there are more thantwo genders, led many to criticize Green for being transphobic. Although she does affirm trans and gender non-conforming people’s gender identities in her latest video, the debate sparked by her recent tweets brings up a question I often hear from my fellow trans people: Is biological sex a “social construct?”

According to another YouTuber, Riley J. Dennis, the answer is yes. In a video she did back in February of this year, she explains biological sex is a social construct because not everyone experiences secondary sex characteristics the same way. “Some people with penises don’t develop much if any facial hair,” she says, “while some develop beards, and the amount of facial hair that they have doesn’t make them more or less male. The same goes for people with vaginas. Some of them will develop large breasts, some will develop small breasts, but neither of those is more or less female.” She also points out many trans people have genitals, hormones and other secondary sex characteristics altered during transitioning, so how would “biologically male/female” still apply? Ultimately the biggest criticism towards the term “biologically male/female” is that, according to Dennis, “when people say that a trans woman is ‘biologically male,’ they use that as a way to attack trans people. They use it as an excuse to exclude us from bathrooms, locker rooms and other women’s spaces. It’s just a more subtle and more socially acceptable way of discriminating against trans people.”

Biologist Jerry Coyne, on the other hand, disagrees. For example, he writes, Dennis’ example of medical transitioning “irrelevant to the argument from biological sex as a reality at birth. I could use lasers to remove the sex combs of Drosophila males (stiff tufts of bristles on the forelegs that males use to grasp females during copulation), but that doesn’t mean that sex in Drosophila is a social construct.” Coyne later clarifies that he affirms transgender people’s identities, and acknowledges bigots often use biological sex as an excuse to discriminate against trans people. However, he continues, “The concept of biological sex has been extremely useful in biology—it’s a linchpin of a ton of research in evolutionary biology and other fields, and, with very few unclassifiable cases, it’s an objective reality.”

While both Dennis and Coyne made good points, I decided to ask trans activist and biologist Julia Sereno for her take. It turns out that, like with most science, it’s complicated.

Click here to read the rest.