Andy Lewis’ Gendered Gotcha

I rarely do this outside of classrooms, but I’m going to give folks here some definitions that are in common use among people that seriously study gender. Why? In part because Andy Lewis seems to think that there is no coherent definition of gender generally and woman specifically because gender is an inherently incoherent concept while sex is an inherently coherent concept and that to the extent that we use the words gender or woman or man we should use them only in reference to underlying, coherent categories of sex. The Andy Lewises of the world appear to believe that this definitional challenge – and the poor response most people give when asked to meet it – proves the fundamental rightness of an anti-trans*, pro-TERF feminist philosophical position.

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Andy Lewis Is A Stable Genius Who Wishes You Morans Would Get A Brian

So, I deliberately stayed out of PZ’s When humanists go bad thread. But y’know, I didn’t realize it had gone on quite this long. When I saw a spate of comments all directed to that thread, however, I had to check in again just to know what is keeping that thread alive.

The answer? Andy Lewis.

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That Dude Comes Out And Says It

So, a few years back I was wearing my Shirt That Changed The World. My particular version was, of course, the very best version. The logo read, “Transsexual Menace” like all the others, but being from Oregon, the tagline below read, “The Beaver State”. Really, there’s no other Transsexual Menace chapter that could possibly compete, unless there’s a chapter at a university somewhere that uses “Fighting Cocks” as its mascot (no, USC does not count, though being “game” is worth something, sure).

On the particular night I’m discussing, I was walking through Washington D.C. after a hard day’s fighting against violence and for civil rights at a national conference. I can’t even remember which one for certain – and anti-DV conference? An LGBT conference? Let’s let it go. In any case, I walked past the White House & had just crossed 17th, at which point Pennsylvania Avenue politely angled itself to point my ass to the building Trump now occupies. Right there, not two full blocks from the most elite bit of housing in the country, there were maybe twenty people camped out with sleeping bags on the sidewalk. One using a propane stove to heat up a beverage or maybe some soup looked up and upon seeing my t-shirt exclaimed,

That dude’s transsexual!

To which a next-door neighbor replied,

So what? It don’t matter. Just leave it be.*1

Whereupon the first, concerned about being misinterpreted, added,

Yeah, I know, but that dude comes out and says it! *2

In addition to being a pleasant statement on the state of cissexism in at least some communities in the US capital and a validation of Dallas Denny’s thesis that the Transsexual Menace t-shirts were a major turning point in trans/cis interactions, it struck me how such a simple statement of my perspective on the world could have the power to shock, even when absent the statement my perspective would still have been obvious.

That moment came back to me today as I read something Trump said to one of his rallies today:

Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening

Yes, I know: Trump has never hid the fact that he disbelieves reality. Yes, I know that the famous line from Duck Soup has already been used to paraphrase Trump in the past. And yet, there was power to shock in reading that he’d said exactly these words.

Of course, he won’t lose supporters over them. He probably read his audience accurately when he decided that this line would be received positively by the Veterans of Foreign Wars crowd to whom he spoke. Even so, we shouldn’t use the commitment of his followers as an excuse to let the words stand. If one can convince a majority of people that what they see for themselves isn’t true, then that person has constructed an honest-to-goodness, no hyperbole Orwellian state. We aren’t there yet, but the size and intransigence of Trump’s base, even if still a minority today, should galvanize us to fight tooth and nail.


*1: From tone of voice and context, I always interpreted this as a respectful plea to leave the issue of my transsexuality. Neither in the moment nor later did it come across as using the pronoun “it” to describe me in a dehumanizing way. As for the use of the word “dude” to describe me throughout, in that first moment I disliked it, and was about to say something. But after the second person spoke up, I decided that the best thing I could do was simply allow time and space for the first to process the sight of my shirt without any interference from me.

*2: And yes, I do remember all this perfectly verbatim. The moment was quite significant for me as I’d recently been bashed and was startled by the first statement. I paid very close attention to what followed as a way of assessing any potential danger. Fortunately, none existed. Though obviously that’s primarily down to the non-violence and respect of the people I met on that sidewalk, I credit Jessica Xavier with some small part of that: she played a huge leadership role in pro-trans* activism and education in DC in the years leading up to and following my experience.

Why I Don’t Write Much About Popular Denigration of Trans Autonomy

First, law school requires a lot of effort, and so does building a family, so there were a few years when I legitimately didn’t have time to go around reading much on the internet. What turned up on Pharyngula constituted a large percentage of that. But more importantly, I spent years addressing this stuff back when the world was less connected and there were fewer noted cis supremacists who bothered writing about trans* people. Seriously, as far as critiques of written work or audio/video appearances went, I spent a decade speaking mostly about Janice Raymond, Mary Daly, and Germaine Greer. I’ve read so. fucking. much.

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Ignorance, Dunning-Kruger, & Trans Rights

Goodness me. Areomagazine has an “article” up by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay that takes itself far more seriously than it deserves. The intro and premises can be found in the opening paragraph:

The rights and social inclusion of trans people is a heated topic right now and, as usual in our present atmosphere, the most extreme views take center stage and completely polarize the issue. On the one hand, 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. 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.

What the hell?

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Mountains of Chutzpah, coming soon

Our own Trav Mamone has a new post up advertising an article they have published on another site, SpliceToday.

It’s a look at an article on another site, AeroMagazine.com, that with garish arrogance titles itself

AN ARGUMENT FOR A LIBERAL AND RATIONAL APPROACH TO TRANSGENDER RIGHTS AND INCLUSION

So I took a look at the original article. Trust me, when I say that Trav Mamone is being very, very generous when saying of the article,

It isn’t as bad as I thought, but still missed the mark.

So, I’ve cheerily taken a dive into a cesspool of ignorance and am swimming around it for a bit, all so that you don’t have to. I’ll soon have two -count them two- posts up thoroughly addressing important aspects of the original article, including a whole lot of wrong. Here, however, I wanted to pluck out a criticism I’ve made of something from the AeroMagazine piece both because I’ve seen it way too many times (so it deserves extra attention) but also so that you’ll have a bit of snark to carry you through until the longer pieces get here. Also, too, there will be more coming your way on gun rights, some  of it addressing a couple things about which Enlightenment Liberal is correct, but didn’t realize that I was going to say in a future post, and some things in which EL is grossly, laughably wrong. (Hint: Bell v Burson figures prominently in that last category.)

From the upcoming post further tackling Trav Mamone’s target:

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