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.)

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.

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.)

My Silence Will Not Protect Me — My Latest for Splice Today

Puberty was not kind to my voice. Instead of growing deeper like all the other boys, I sounded like Steve Urkel, which made everything I said hilarious to my classmates. Someone would ask me for the time, and then laugh as I squeaked out “11:30.” I told them to stop, but that only made them laugh more, so I decided the best way to survive high school was to stay silent.

There was one problem: my silence wasn’t protecting me. Every day the other kids would laugh and yell “faggot” because they somehow knew I was queer and trans before I did. They saw my sashaying hips and limp wrist and appointed me the official school punching bag. I wore baggy clothes to hide the scars on my arm; bright red screams that expressed what I was too afraid to say. I didn’t have the language to express my worth and dignity as a human. The B in LGBT was just a footnote back then, and the T was only for people who wanted surgery, so I didn’t feel like I was queer or trans enough to come out.

Read the rest here.

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.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #130: A Very Gaytheist Friendsmas” 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.

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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Bi Any Means Podcast #114: Activist Theology with Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

My guest for today is Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, a radical trans queer Latinx public theologian. Here’s what their bio says: “Knowing intimately that the borderlands are a place of learning and growth, Robyn draws on their identity and heritage as a Transqueer Latinx in everything that they do. From doubt to divine and everywhere in between, their call as an activist-theologian demands the vision to disrupt hegemony and colonialist structures of multi-layered oppressions. As an anti-oppression, anti-racist, non-binary Trans*gressive Latinx, Robyn takes seriously their call as an activist theologian and ethicist to bridge together theories and practices that result in communities responding to pressing social concerns. Robyn sees this work as a life-orienting vocation, deeply committed to translating theory to action, and embedded in re-imagining our moral horizon to one which privileges a politics of radical difference.” Which is why Robyn’s joining me today to talk about everything they do!

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #114: Activist Theology with Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza” on Spreaker.

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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.