I’m Sick Of Debating My Humanity As A Trans Person — My latest on Medium

I wrote this a couple of months ago so some things are a little out-of-date. The overall message, however, remains the same.

When I came out as a non-binary trans person in 2014, I knew I had a lot of explaining to do. I didn’t mind, though; in fact, I immediately started speaking out about the subject as soon as I finally embraced my gender identity. Since then I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to explain what it means to be non-binary and trans in such outlets as Everyday FeminismSplice TodayRewire.News, and the 2017 American Humanist Association conference. Other than the occasional troll sliding into my Twitter mentions just to say, “You’re a dude in a dress,” I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from both cis people who have since come to understand more about trans and non-binary issues, and fellow trans and non-binary people who appreciate me saying the things they’re too afraid to say.

Lately, however, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s all worth it. No matter how many articles I write or talks that I do or podcasts I’ve been on, transphobia is still the best seller in the marketplace of ideas. On the right are traditional conservatives like Ben Shapiro who argue that trans women are still men because of chromosomes. On the left are radical feminists (or radfems for short) like Meghan Murphy who not only echo Shapiro’s talking point, but also think trans women are men trying to infiltrate women-only spaces in order to assault women. In the center are members of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web — the Popular Kids’ Lunch Table of public intellectuals — who are more concerned about Murphy’s recent Twitter ban than her hateful rhetoric, who think trans activism is inherently homophobic (which doesn’t make any sense), and who spread lies and misinformation about gender-affirming therapy. If there’s one thing that unites people from all four corners of the political compass, it’s hatred of trans people.

Read the rest here.

We Can’t Separate Identity From Politics — My Latest on Medium

Countless moderate liberals have called upon the Democratic party to ditch “identity politics” in the wake of Trump. “We need a post-identity liberalism,” Columbia University professor Mark Lilla wrote back in 2016. “Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them.” According to Lilla, Audre Lorde’s message of recognizing and celebrating our differences is detrimental to American politics, so instead of focusing on issues that uniquely affect different groups of people, liberals need to unite on issues that affect all Americans.

Unfortunately, to quote Lorde again, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” In other words, there is no way to separate identity from politics. Every political issue affects different groups in different ways, so in a way all politics are identity politics.

Read the rest here.

The Red and the Black — My Latest for Splice Today

It was only a matter of time before cops would kill an unarmed black person here in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. On September 15, 2018, a Greensboro, MD police officer killed 19-year-old Anton Black after chasing the young man for allegedly trying to abduct a 12-year-old boy (even though Black and the 12-year-old were related and there was no abduction attempt). The officer tazed Black, pinned him to the ground, and Black became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at Easton Memorial Hospital moments later.

Since then, Black’s friends and family have demanded answers from the Greensboro Police Department. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun have written about it. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spoke last week to demand answers. A video of the incident between Black and the police officer was recently released, and Black’s family currently wants the Department of Justice to conduct a civil rights investigation.

Meanwhile it’s quiet on the Eastern Shore. The local newspaper has covered the story numerous times, but flip open to the editorial page and not a peep. No Eastern Shore citizens demanding answers, other than the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black. No editorials from the Star Democrat staff. Once again, Eastern Shore residents cover their eyes.

Read the rest here.

Understanding the #CancelPinkWashing Controversy — My Latest For Splice Today

Maybe it’s just my anxiety, but I’m worried that I didn’t make myself clear with this one. I support #CancelPinkwashing and BDS. Maybe this excerpt will clear things up:

Despite what The New York Times’ Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens might write, saying that Palestine has a right to self-determination doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t have the same right. Being against both Israel’s political policies and Hamas is not a contradiction. Even the pro-Israel organization J Street is vocally against the West Bank Occupation, and calls on the US government to denounce the illegal settlements.

I do agree with Weiss and Stephens that some criticisms of Israel are full of anti-semitic dog whistles. For example, there was the 2017 Chicago Dyke March where a gay pride flag with a Star of David on it was considered explicitly anti-Palestinian. Then there’s the recently elected Ilhan Omar who once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world,” which makes me think of the Happy Merchant figure plotting for world domination. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd once compared the actions of the Israeli government to those of Nazi Germany.

You can read the rest here.

How Health Care Providers Can Better Serve Non-Binary Patients — My Latest for INTO

When Nessi Hunter Alice was 13, they started experiencing nausea every time they ate, sometimes even to the point of throwing up. Nobody took Alice seriously, though, because they’re a non-binary person who was assigned female at birth. Health care providers wrote Alice off as hysterical.

“I went to an older male doctor for a while for that and other concerns,” Alice tells INTO, “and he basically refused to treat me for anything because I was delusional and he didn’t want to treat me until I got psychological stuff worked out. And he called me delusional partially because I identified myself as non-binary.”

It wasn’t until Alice found a doctor who was non-binary supportive that Alice was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is when stomach acid gets into the esophagus, and got the treatment they needed.

Sadly, Alice’s experience is not an anomaly. “Jasper” (who prefers to be anonymous) tells INTO that they went into a psychologist’s office for a disability evaluation, but left the appointment in tears when the psychologist refused to use their pronouns and asked invasive questions about Jasper’s genitals. Others have health care providers that say they’re supportive, but their actions show otherwise. Jay, for example, was misgendered by their doctor in two referral letters to a gender identity clinic.

Read the rest here.

I’m Not Ready to Reach Across the Aisle — My Latest for Splice Today

Former Twitter rivals Eve Peyser of Vice and center-right New York Times columnist Bari Weiss have officially ended their feud, and they recently wrote an op-ed to tell the story. The two writers met at a conference, Peyser asked Weiss if she wanted to hang out, and the two quickly bonded over the things they had in common. They report that they’re open to befriending people with different political views (with the exception of neo-Nazis, of course), and hope others can do the same to escape toxic social media culture.

I’m still hesitant about reaching across the aisle. I know I’m supposed to step out of my echo chamber of fellow SJWs and break bread with the classical liberal/center-right pundits of the Intellectual Dark Web in order to make American civil again, but all my past attempts have failed miserably.

Read the rest here.

Will Non-Binary Gender Markers Go Nationwide? — My Latest for INTO

Jessica Porten of Rewire recently wrote: “The future is not female; it’s non-binary.” Perhaps she’s right, given the recent news about non-binary gender markers in Colorado and DC schools adding non-binary gender options on enrollment forms. Non-binary people — people who do not identify as either men or women — are getting more recognition and acknowledgment, both within and outside of the LGBTQ community.

Legal recognition of non-binary and intersex people has surprisingly come a long way since Jamie Shupe became the first legally recognized non-binary person in the U.S. in June 2016. Now there are five states — Arkansas, Oregon, California, Maine, and Minnesota — that offer non-binary gender markers on driver’s licenses and state IDs, along with the District of Columbia.

But there are questions about the future. Will non-binary gender markers go nationwide? What are the legal barriers preventing that from happening? What about people who think there shouldn’t be any gender markers at all?

Read the rest here.

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.

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.