This comment is not about the murders of MtF trans people

But I think you cissies can learn something from our experience.

The murders of MtF trans folk are very often rage-filled, with multiple stab wounds or gunshots, and these assaults preferentially target our breasts and our genitals. Our murderers wanted, as it were, to erase our transness along with our lives. They wanted to rid the world of transness. It’s a genocidal impulse made viscerally personal.

It is, of course, hideous enough that trans people have been subjected to such murders, but historically the media outlets reporting on those murders would deadname victims, would call us men in women’s clothing when our names weren’t to hand, and in other ways would work to portray us as anything but ourselves.

In short, our murderers attempted to erase us, and the media chose to complete the erasure. This wasn’t neutral reporting, news outlets were choosing to assist our murderers, even to the point of completing their genocidal work.

The United States and a number of other “Western democracies” are in crisis because would-be fascists are attacking democratic governance itself. To say, as Biden has, that such people are anti-democratic is to tell an obvious truth that the fascist-leaning themselves tell each other every day. The more outrageous and ambitious among them then pass that on to the rest of the US:

We do not trust elections

they say.

We will not tolerate the general rule of law, but we will use the law to attack our political opponents,

they say.

And in the face of these things, the media chooses to admonish the anti-fascists, the leftists, even the Democrats and other institutionalists for language that the media insists will sow distrust and spark violence.

Do not accept this narrative. Do not tolerate this narrative to be spread in your presence. The fascist and fascist leaning are working with vigor to blame their own division, hatred, and violence on anyone but themselves, and this media narrative does not report on fascist violence: it completes the fascists’ task of delegitimizing government and justifying its overthrow by any means necessary.

Apparent neutrality is not the same as actual neutrality, and the media have a particularly shameful history of adopting a guise of neutrality while forwarding the cause of violence.

When the authoritarian, anti-democratic mob assaulted the US seat of government on 6 January, 2021, it was with the intent of preventing democratic rule. When two thirds of House Republicans voted to oppose certification of the 2020 presidential election this seemingly separate event was another effort with the same goal: to end democratic rule. They may make noises of protest to dissociate themselves from the insurrection, but their own actions show them attempting to complete it.

Even now our media treat McCarthy and the other House Republicans who voted to oppose democracy as if they are correct to be offended when Biden calls out “extreme MAGA republicans” as anti-democratic and semi-fascist. Like the House Republicans on the night of 6 January, the reporters and commentators who accept and repeat this framing are not neutral: they are working to complete the fascists’ goal of delegitimizing the Democratic Party and of democracy itself.

What will you do to call the media to account? Will you be as outraged and as active as the trans people who protested the coverage of our murders? You should be.

Time is short. Choose to act.

that female athlete doesn’t look feminine enough

So one of the things I have said about my activism in the past is that my job is to work myself out of a job. I want to end domestic & sexual violence generally, fully fund services for all victims who have been (and will be) harmed before we finally do away with D/SV, and along the way to end heterosexist barriers to sex and gender variant victims ability to access relevant services. I want many other things, too, but these are at the core of my activist career, if I can be said to have had one.

I have always maintained that as the world changes, I’ll be the wrong person to talk to about next steps, because I won’t have lived my life where that next step is the biggest problem. i won’t have felt the lack of that next step so acutely. I won’t be able to speak from personal experience about how that next step would have changed my life for the better b/c we’ve already taken so many steps that it’s hard for me to imagine **only** lacking that next step.

And in many ways, I’ve been successful. Where once I was a voice in the wilderness talking about the interrelation between cissexism, heterosexism, and sexism, and how the first two play a role in how even straight, cis women are treated by our governments and our service providers, now many people are talking about these things, often with a specificity that makes them far more expert in their area than I could ever be.

But in some ways, I have been frighteningly unsuccessful. While I primarily discussed access to gender segregated services for victims of trauma, harassment, and stalking, as early as 1998 I was asked a question about trans athletes in women’s sport. Not an expert in sports (my close friends will recognize this as hilarious overstatement of the scope of my knowledge), I fell back on how I had seen cissexism and heterosexism used to exclude even straight, cis women from the services with which I was more familiar.

It is inevitable, I told the audience in approximately these words, that efforts to exclude trans people from any social pursuit will end up harming cis women. The reason is that people will look for hints that reveal a participant to be the stereotype of the deceptive transsexual who lies about her past to conceal the tenuous validity of her womanhood. This presupposes, however, that trans people can get away with passing as non-trans at least for a time. Clues revealing secret transness, then, must be subtle, and because they must be subtle, they can be found in any number of women. As a result, the desire to communicate cisgender and cissexual state of being will result in women voluntarily curtailing any social expressions deemed too masculine. Women who do exceed the boundaries of feminine behavior and presentation will initially receive the worst consequences of gender policing that nominally targets trans people, but as the outliers are pressured to conform, the boundaries of femininity collapse. As a result, freedom for all women is eventually constricted. And though trans people will suffer from gender policing, and out trans people will be the individuals who suffer more than any other individuals, because the group of cis women is so much larger than the group of trans persons, when considering all suffering in total, cis women will surely suffer more than trans people from any increased gender policing of social activities. 

Thus, I argued, even if you hate trans people, you should advocate against gender policing that targets trans persons. The investigation and accusation and prosecution process will never harm only trans people.

Well, if all y’all cis people had listened to me 24 years ago, we could have saved ourselves a world of hurt. Unfortunately some of you are bigoted Mormons who just can’t comprehend the benefits of gender liberation. Or, perhaps, they embrace sexism, so the incidental sexism of cissexist persecutions seem a feature not a bug.

From the Deseret News:

After one competitor “outclassed” the rest of the field in a girls’ state-level competition last year, the parents of the competitors who placed second and third lodged a complaint with the Utah High School Activities Association calling into question the winner’s gender.

Entirely unsurprising. Utah is one of the states that has legislated a system ostensibly banning k-12 trans students from participating in school sport save in categories open to their assigned gender at birth. What it actually does, however, is allow any random person to trigger a state investigation into the most private aspects of a child’s life. In the particular case here, the complaint was considered resolved through a thorough check of multiple records going back a decade or more, but more intrusive investigations, including medical ones, apparently are authorized by statute and cannot be said to be ruled out in the future.

And, of course, what’s compounding the horror here is that the excessive masculinity triggering the investigation wasn’t a tracheal prominence or tiny boobs. What triggered the investigation here was athletic excellence itself.

Given that the ostensible rationale for passing laws regulating trans children’s participation in school sports was to ensure that girls have a chance to experience being celebrated for their excellence, this punishment of excellence would seem to be proof that such laws not only fail to support and celebrate athletic girls, but rather punish them for their greatest successes, encouraging them to fail.

One might hope that this would cause some second thoughts, perhaps an effort to repeal this repellent and sexist regime. One would, of course, be mistaken. This is Utah, after all. Read and then weep over this most telling part of the Deseret News article:

Spatafore [David Spatafore, the UHSAA’s legislative representative] said the association has received other complaints, some that said “that female athlete doesn’t look feminine enough.”

The association took “every one of those complaints seriously. We followed up on all of those complaints with the school and the school system,” he said during an update on HB11, a ban on transgender girls from participating in female school sports, which was passed during the final hours of 2022 General Session.

And we come full circle. What I predicted 24 years ago has come to pass. Girls looking insufficiently feminine is now a complaint that the government takes “seriously”, and that the government then investigates.

I understand that women’s and girls’ athletic achievements are not sufficiently celebrated. And I understand that there’s fear that permitting trans children to participate in gender segregated sports in the manner that is most healthy for them, even if that means participating in sports originally conceived as being only for students of a different assigned sex at birth will inevitably mean a few celebrated wins for trans athletes that might otherwise have been wins for cis girls or cis women.

But giving the government the power to investigate deficient femininity, or to treat a woman or girl as an object of suspicion for her athletic excellence itself, does nothing to support cis girls or celebrate their achievements.

If you can’t oppose such laws because of their cissexism alone, oppose them for their sexist, for the power they give governments to crack down on anyone who violates gender norms even in so innocuous a manner as being a girl winning a medal in girls’ sports.

 

 

 

Mano’s Optimism, Solnit’s Reassurances and Progressive Momentum

Mano has a new post up quoting extensively (and agreeing with) a Rebecca Solnit essay in The Guardian that would have us believe that January 6th is not the sign of a rising movement which requires effort to oppose, but the last gasps of a dying political faction drowning under the waters of an unstoppable progressive flood. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence until victory in cases she mentions (Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Obergefell v. Hodges) to others not mentioned but surely in her thoughts (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Texas v. Johnson, and Bostock v. Clayton County), accompanied by scores of other victories in major social arenas and uncountable victories on the individual level, Solnit sees a steady direction of flow in the waters of history, and imagines this is entails a liberatory momentum which seemingly cannot be reversed (“The right is trying to push the water back behind the dam.”) Here is a small portion of her argument:

Michelle Alexander wrote a powerful essay arguing that we are not the resistance. We, she declared, are the mighty river they are trying to dam. I see it flowing, and I see the tributaries that pour into it and swell its power, and I see that once firmly grounded statues and assumptions have become flotsam in its current.

… You have to remember how different the past was to recognize how much has changed.

[Read more…]

Pselebrating Psaki

I want my, I want my, I want my Psaki…

Now look at them briefings, that’s the way you do it.
Embarrass Doocy on your WonkTV
That ain’t deference, that’s the way you do it
Answer the questions, give ‘em facts for free.
Now that ain’t spinning, that’s the way you go it:
Reject the premise if the question’s dumb
Maybe you blister ears of FOX’s listeners
Maybe you condescend to feed them crumbs

She’s gonna speak to, the whole damn nation
Forthright, upbeat delivery
She’s gonna speak to the voting public
She’s gonna speak from their LCDs

See that Biden with the Oval for an office?
Yeah, FOX News, he won it fair.
That ol’ Joe Biden got his own Air Force One.
That ol’ Joe Biden got an honest air.

She’s gonna speak for that ol’ Joe Biden,
Forthright, upbeat delivery.
She’s gonna speak truth, swat down the nonsense
She’s gonna speak through our LCDs

I shoulda learned my journalism.
I shoulda learned my Poli Sci.
Look at that Psaki, she got it goin for the camera!
Girl, we could have some fun.
OANN’s* up next, What’s that? “Some people say that?”
Which people say that? Can you name me three?
Now that ain’t dodgin’; that’s the way you do it:
Pandemic questions go to CDC

She’s gonna speak to the whole damn nation
Forthright, upbeat delivery.
She’s gonna speak for the Biden White House.
She’s gonna speak through our LCDs.

That ain’t deference, that’s the way you do it:
Answer the questions, nix conspiracies.
That’s just briefing; that’s the way you do it:
Explain administration policy.
Answer the questions, give ‘em facts for free
Answer the questions, give ‘em facts for free
Answer the questions, give ‘em facts for free
Answer the questions, give ‘em facts for free


* For purposes of scansion, “OANN’s” is here pronounced “oh ann’s”

Kyrsten Sinema: Are you experienced?

Imagine, just now, that you are smiling your day away in Seattle and happen to come upon a bronze statue while meandering the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Not just any statue, but a statue festooned with markers of love, one that quite obviously serves as a memorial to a cherished persona. The afro’d subject may have a tie, an actual, silk tie, around its neck. Or perhaps it has been knit-bombed and is somehow wearing a panel sweater somehow attached to its torso in ways that you, not a fiber artist yourself, find disconcertingly impossible unless someone had literally stood on this sidewalk for day after day knitting the sweater directly onto the bronze. Votive candles and tea lights may be scattered round of course, though only lit for a few hours each evening. Though other times the mementoes and scattered tchotchkes are cleared away, treated as clutter, garbage to be removed by the nearby businesses who prefer a clean aesthetic. One can never be quite sure how one will encounter it.

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This isn’t a defense of politicians, it’s an indictment of the media

So, there’s an article up on Raw Story about how House Republicans are likely to impeach VP Harris and/or President Biden should they gain a majority in 2022. In discussing this fact, some people claim that elected Republicans don’t necessarily want to engage in a corrupt tit-for-well justified tat. Rather, according to retired House member Tom Rooney:

“It might not necessarily be what some of those guys want to do, but it might be what the base expects. People want Armageddon.”

The article continues:

Rooney wasn’t saying that he thinks that impeaching Biden would be a good idea should Republicans retake the House in 2022 — only that parts of his party are feeling incredibly vindictive. And that type of severe partisanship is why Rooney decided not to seek reelection in 2018.

Brendan Buck, a Republican media strategist who worked for two former GOP House speakers — Paul Ryan and John Boehner — told the Times, “We’re in an era where you need to make loud noises and break things in order to get attention. It doesn’t matter what you’re breaking — as long as you’re creating conflict and appeasing your party, anything goes.” [emphasis mine]

As the title of this post says, the fact that they’re willing to go along with a raging mob in violating the spirit of the constitution in order to preserve the privileges of their elected position and further their own power says nothing positive about House Republicans. But it certainly does say something negative about the US media landscape that “breaking things” results in the media attention that generates political power.

 

 

Lynching: An Alternate Interpretation of 1/6/2021

Professional historian of lynching and mob violence Guy Lancaster has an article up at HistoryNewsNetwork.org that interprets the mob violence of 1/6/2021 not through the lens of rebellion, insurrection, sedition, and treason, but through the lens of lynching. I think it’s a great read, although I would caution that I don’t think it’s appropriate to ignore the currently-dominant interpretive framework of 1/6/2021 as an insurrection. Lancaster’s work (at least according to me) should be additive rather than substitutive.

Why does Lancaster see lynching in the events of 1/6? Well, some aspects are easy: they were looking for people to publicly execute, AOC, Nancy Pelosi, and (not least!) Mike Pence to name just three. They had set up a makeshift gallows (which may not have been sturdy enough for actual executions, though the mob clearly had effective means for murdering others at their disposal). They were white as fuck. But there’s much more than that.

[Read more…]