Deep disappointment


I’ve been told that an old friend has become profoundly illogical. This bothers me.

It’s a reply to a fairly mundane tweet.

Here’s the response:

Bad beginning, taking “cis” as 1) a meaningful and useful descriptive and 2) an obviously privileged and dominant group that needs to check itself. I don’t recognize “not thinking I’m the sex I’m not” as a form of privilege, any more than I recognize “not thinking I’m a bird” as a form of privilege. The word “cis” is pretty much designed to make people feel guilty and defensive simply for not having a bizarre delusion. Granted, it’s convenient not to have a bizarre delusion, but convenience isn’t exactly the same thing as privilege.

1) Cis does have a sensible meaning. It refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. Even if you don’t like it, you have to acknowledge that there are people whose gender identity does not match their assigned sex, making this a meaningful and useful descriptor. Or do you think trans people are actually comfortable and identify with their assigned sex? Are they just making it all up? Why?

2) Our society favors people who conform to cisgender expectations, so of course if you don’t conform, you’re disadvantaged. Right here in this post the author is expressing scorn for people who don’t fit her expectations. I rather despise the “oh so you identify as an attack helicopter” criticism, since birdness or helicopterness aren’t in the range of human behavior, but the “bird” argument doesn’t hold up either. There are people who find social gratification in identifying as an animal — look up furries sometime — and yeah, they face mockery for it, and lacking those desires is a privilege.

Also, if you regard trans people as mentally ill as this person does (I don’t), that doesn’t get you out of the claim that you aren’t privileged for not being mentally ill.

I’m cis. The person who wrote that tweet is saying they’re cis. I don’t feel guilty or defensive, and neither do they. Cis is a non-judmental description of a state that fits most people, used to distinguish them from the minority who are trans. It certainly was not “designed” to provoke guilt, just as heterosexual is not a term calculated to instill shame in us straight guys, and just as white is not a dirty word calculated to make European-Americans feel miserable and embarrassed about their ancestry.

There’s some projection going on here. If someone uses “trans” as an expression of contempt, then maybe they’re only able to see the complementary, neutral, descriptive term “cis” as carrying similar intent. These are the same people who see the accurate and neutral term Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) as some horrible defamatory slur, for the same reason.

This is coming from a person I tried to defend as not a TERF, once upon a time. Boy, was I wrong.

Comments

  1. says

    In the 1990s, we used “non-trans” when we had to specify that a person or persons did not have trans experience/identity.

    We were attacked when we used to word at all because “non-trans” as a term, “centered trans experience”.

    It’s all a fucking trap. They don’t like that we exist. Using any names to distinguish us from them is always going to be offensive to some cis folks, because any distinction reminds them that we exist.

  2. says

    I’d like to note that she hasnt become profoundly illogical. On this specific subject, she has been profoundly illogical since before her departure from FTB. I first noticed it with her complete rejection of trans inclusive language when discussing reproductive rights. That writing has been on the walls for years .

  3. =8)-DX says

    CW: OP links Ophelia Benson’s blog with an openly transphobic post.

    I’d say “I told you so” except I remember being kinda on the fence and not exactly understanding what was going on back then (as well as also interested in various discussions of gender, and wanting to listen to all voices)… and mainly it was the trans / enby people on here you told you so, told me and other cis people on here so and we should have listened.

    At least in this linked post it’s all out in the open: the condescension, the barely held back, oozing hatred, the disgust at people having gasp gender and using gasp language, and wanting (or being offered) unconditional love and acceptance concerning that … as if it was some personal affront to her.

    Sheesh, I’ve seen this exact thing on various blogs and online spaces (I’ve probably been to OB’s blog before and… stopped looking there.) and the “feminism” really does sour with such extreme hatred of trans people.
    =8(-DX

  4. John Morales says

    This is coming from a person I tried to defend as not a TERF

    A person whose name isn’t yet named.

    I still follow Ophelia’s blog, so I read that when it was posted. Her stance has crystallised over time, I think.

    Not many philosophical posts, nowadays.

    re:

    Also, if you regard trans people as mentally ill as this person does (I don’t), that doesn’t get you out of the claim that you aren’t privileged for not being mentally ill.

    I don’t think so; she makes a point that it’s a delusional belief in a similar way to how theism is delusional.

    Way I see it, since part of the the narrative is that (at least some) men¹ do it for the purpose of access to women, the delusion is held to be not just personal (when it really exists) but societal and pernicious.

    ¹ The grievance seems to be about transwomen; transmen are generally invisible in the various perorations.

  5. =8)-DX says

    @John Morales #6
    Except that point re: “delusional belief” is just as vapid an excuse for hatred as when those in the “atheist community” make it. Cis men making bad excuses to justify their bigotry or violence should not be used as a cudgel agaisnt trans men, women and nonbinary people, nor are they responsible or to blame.
    =8|-DX

  6. vucodlak says

    Oh, but the tone! Won’t someone please think of the tone?!

    Really, when you think about it, telling someone to “shut up and listen” is no better than beating someone bloody because we think they’re icky. In a way, a very important way, the only way that matters, it’s worse. We’re forcing TERFs to TERF.

    Also, too: Both. Sides.

    /All of the proceeding was disgusted snark. I’m not, however, being snarky when I say I found the comments enlightening. Not in a good way.

  7. =8)-DX says

    @vucodlak #8 “I found the comments enlightening”
    Yup. All on out terfism in the comments, with zero pushback, comparing trans people to white supremacists, Trump, complaining about anyone using the word “colonising”. Yikes.

  8. says

    I mean this in the nicest way possible because you know I respect you, PZ… I mean you’re one of the reasons I have a blog at all… but…

    Boy, was I wrong.

    Ya’ think?

    Honestly this was called out a long time ago. I mean I can’t blame you too much. I tried to see the good in her at first, as well. She and I were friends then, also. So I straight up tried to reach out to her. But it very quickly became obvious that she was a TERF, and had no interest in hearing any arguments against it. That she’s doubled-down and chosen to actually die on this hill is all on her.

  9. rietpluim says

    Not to self-congratulate, but I am about the most privileged person in the universe (male, white, cis, straight, able-bodied) and I’ve always supported the rights and the emancipation of less privileged people without any feeling of guilt for being who I am. Why do the bigots always interpret “justice for all” as guilt being imposed upon them?

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    I haven’t followed Benson closely, but my impression has been that she may have been a bit hard done by. No longer. That post (and the comments) go beyond clueless. I see real malice there.

  11. bcwebb says

    I left a comment but
    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    The comment:
    You are a bunch of entitled shits. As someone who lived the time when gay people didn’t exist, were “unnatural” and should just shut up and not preach or flaunt our “lifestyle” in front of “normal” people, you can all go to hell. What you are doing to differently gendered people is exactly the crap I grew up with as a gay man. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  12. Allison says

    I remember the blow-up about her TERF-ness.

    It didn’t really surprise me because she’d already shown a fondness for picking out groups to be bigoted against. In particular, I remember her digging up cases where one or another muslim (usually in the UK) had done something unreasonable and used it to attack all muslims. She didn’t get much blowback for that because bigotry against muslims seems to be tacitly accepted in atheist circles. It was only when she went after trans women that she got much pushback. (Note: I am a trans woman.)

    She always seemed to have a chip on her shoulder, so I wonder if this wasn’t an unconscious way of getting lots of people mad at her so she could feel entitled to attack them back.

    I gave up on trying to talk to her or her supporters quite a while before she flounced off this site. Life’s too short and there are too many bigger bigots who are a more immediate threat to my life and well-being and those of people I care about, I can’t be bothered worrying about this one.

  13. gmcard says

    PZ, it’s a loaded term because few people actually have a gender identity to compare to their biological sex (which is material fact observed at birth, not something assigned). And when you dig in to trans narratives, when you “shut up and listen”, when you finally get people to break out of circular definitions of what it means to “feel like a man” or “feel like a woman”, what you mostly hear about why people start IDing as trans comes down to gender stereotypes: men who preferred dolls to sports, women who were socially awkward. So it’s more a matter of self identity not matching the gender norms associated with their biological sex (for dysphoric cases; fetishes such as AGP also drive many cases). But what real person actually fulfills all the ridiculous gender stereotypes society has made up? Everyone is gender non-conforming to some extent, making a cis/trans binary damned absurd.

    The second part of your post lacks any intersectional thinking. Even if we granted that there was a meaningful cis/trans binary, with cis privilege (or the alternative you mentioned, that it’s a binary between sane/delusional, with sane privilege), your missing any intersectional analysis that includes sex, an axis which is kind of important to Ophelia and other feminists). Males (people observed male at birth) retain that male privilege regardless of gender identity. And in our deeply patriarchal and misogynistic culture, that privilege is clearly dominating whatever other axes are in play. Look at the obliteration of lesbian spaces. Look at the homophobic demand that lesbians need to learn to accept penis (AKA conversion therapy) if it is the penis of a trans-identifying male (as FTB’s own Natalie Reed argued). Look at the willingness to put dangerous sex-offender males (like Karen White) into female prisons where they continue their assaults against women. Look at the big tech companies lining up to protect likely pedophiles such as Jonathan Yaniv while silencing the feminists who want to protect women and girls. Look at the willingness to let males displace females in women’s sport, even when those trans-IDing males, regardless of HRT, are performing normally as males in their weight class.

    Ophelia remains eminently logical, and she’s a fantastic feminist. The mental contortions you perform to toe the line on the absurd, incoherent, and utterly misogynistic modern trans narrative is deeply illogical. Clearly holding on to your misogynistic and homophobic audience here is more important to you than women’s rights or rationality.

  14. says

    @OP, PZ:

    Boy, was I wrong.

    Afraid so. None of this was a surprise.

    @15, Allison

    I remember the blow-up about her TERF-ness.

    I WAS that blow-up. The last bit, anyway. I was the one who asked her point blank if she believed trans women are women, which she responded to with a barrage of comments about how ‘woman’ was ill-defined, a few increasingly irrational posts, and then flouncing off FTB with her bigotry.

    @16, gmterf

    few people actually have a gender identity… gender stereotypes… your [sic] missing any intersectional analysis that includes sex… the obliteration of lesbian spaces… penis… penis…

    Wrong on all salient points, and assholish to boot, because the claim your missing any intersectional analysis that includes sex requires the a priori assumption that cis men and trans women are identical with identical privilege. Newsflash, fuckwit: trans women do NOT get male privilege of any kind. Yours is the nonintersectional analysis which assumes a single universal experience of girlhood and womanhood, which is an incredible act of privilege.

    You are a bigot.

  15. says

    trans-IDing males, regardless of HRT, are performing normally as males in their weight class.

    Citation needed. In fact, here’s a nice little article packed solid with citations about why you’re wrong: https://sports.vice.com/en_ca/article/vv95a4/what-actually-happens-when-a-trans-athlete-transitions .

    And can I just add: Fuck gmcard extra hard, in several directions with sharp objects, for the likely pedophile bit. Once again, bigots are claiming all gaytrans people are pedophiles, because it helps gin up the moral panic against the people they hate.

    But hey, any story at all in service to making sure trans women suffer and trans men keep pretending to be butch lesbians, right?

  16. brutus says

    Not interested in the actual people discussed. These debates over terminology and its usage are mine fields. I recognize that negative identity is commonplace (defining oneself as not a thing), but it quickly becomes meaningless when opened up to the infinity of things one is not. The same thing can be said of privilege (not suffering in some particular sort of way). High-handed deployment of specialized, nonstandard terms of art is often (not always) a power play, not merely a helpful definition. I read hot type slinging slurs and accusations at others all the time using all manner of neutral terms, the tone being more important than the intent (e.g., the TV show Dear White People). As someone who hasn’t learned all the fashionable code speech issuing from within the activist academy, I suspect my tragic unhipness is tantamount to passive aggression. How can I not care about everyone’s suffering? Well, I do and I don’t. Circumstances and relevance matters. Even if I were disposed toward accommodating everyone’s personal set of lingo, I’m sure I’d fail on some account. In addition to being helpful in understanding the extreme varieties of human experience (trans folks account for what percentage of the population?), this constantly evolving terminology simultaneously works as a trap. I couldn’t keep up even if I wanted to. Chalk it up to another thing (RightThink of some sort) I just don’t get. Is everyone here so primed to conclude his or her understanding is so far superior to everyone else’s that meaningful discussion is foreclosed?

  17. dianne says

    t’s a loaded term because few people actually have a gender identity to compare to their biological sex (which is material fact observed at birth, not something assigned).

    Huh? Most people don’t have a gender identity? I really couldn’t give you statistics, but it’s my impression that the majority of people do have a gender identity and most even have a gender identity that corresponds to their assigned sex.

    As to sex being a “material fact”, um, no, not really. Sex is usually “simple”, i.e. the genitalia all look like that associated with one of two sexes and corresponds to the chromosomal arrangement. However, this is by no means always so. Somewhere between 1/1000 and 1/100 births result in a baby with some level of intersex characteristics. The decision to call them a “boy” or a “girl” or some other designation (non-gender, ambiguous, etc) is pretty much an arbitrary one, based on what the medical personnel and/or the parents think the child looks most like. As for the definition of sex, it’s one of those things like art or race that sort of evaporates if you look at it too closely. What defines “male”? What defines “female”? You can get a lively argument going among doctors by asking questions like that.

  18. monad says

    @16 gmcard:

    Males (people observed male at birth) retain that male privilege regardless of gender identity.

    How incapable of listening do you have to be, not even to the experiences of others but just to the damn news, to notice that trans women are not treated as privileged at all? Somehow in all this worrying about the patriarchy, you never noticed that it cracks down on people who deviate from their assigned roles? This is an awful and cruel post.

  19. Jazzlet says

    Even if I were disposed toward accommodating everyone’s personal set of lingo, I’m sure I’d fail on some account. In addition to being helpful in understanding the extreme varieties of human experience (trans folks account for what percentage of the population?), this constantly evolving terminology simultaneously works as a trap. I couldn’t keep up even if I wanted to. Chalk it up to another thing (RightThink of some sort) I just don’t get. Is everyone here so primed to conclude his or her understanding is so far superior to everyone else’s that meaningful discussion is foreclosed?

    No, I do not consider myself to be superior to any one else for knowing some of the terminology, but I do try, because I find being polite to people is to my advantage in very many ways. I certainly don’t find being polite precludes meaningful discussion, nor to be crystal clear does it prevent me being purposefully offensive.

  20. hemidactylus says

    I think @14 bcwebb really hit a nerve with me that I empathize with ironically “awaiting moderation” on a completely different blog. Ha! Watching the Stonewall movie doesn’t substitute for the experience but there were sympathetic trans characters.

    Like @6 john I follow Ophelia’s blog occasionally. It’s mostly all Trump all the time. Some of her terse comments hit the mark on that topic but it becomes tedious. I admit curiosity as to how someone could be critical of trans issues after the Caitlyn affair here. I think trans identity acceptance supersedes any of those complaints. How often will fairness of transwomen exposed to testosterone during development competing against ciswomen in sports be an issue versus transpeople facing discrimination themselves for being trans? Being an aloof cismale I lack a proper register for such issues but from the outside looking in I would opt for respecting the concerns of transpeople. PZ’s posting of Contrapoints videos has helped.

  21. hemidactylus says

    @19-brutus

    Is there anything wrong with the TV show Dear White People? I found the movie quite enlightening and apt and not quite what one would expect given the title. The critique wasn’t confined to white people and the white guy stayed loyal to his black girlfriend who made the movie priceless with her whiteface exploiting short Rebirth of a Nation.

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    Like our esteemed host, I also defended Benson during the blow-up which caused her to leave FTB – and I still feel her critics turned into a tribalist mob so quickly that no chances for constructive dialog existed.

    And for a while I followed her solo blog, where it saddened me to see her position hardening even in the absence of (visible) continuing pushback on trans issues (though, judging by topics and quotes posted, continued absorption of TEF* arguments).

    She’s had time for bruises to heal and tempers to cool, but has apparently only cultivated resentments uncritically – as John Morales notes @ # 6, she doesn’t now do the philosophical work that previously distinguished her writing. Inevitable personality trend or prolonged post-traumatic anger reaction? I doubt we’ll ever know, and few will ever care.

    For some reason, this reminds me of Mick Farren’s 1989 science-fiction novel The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys, in which, as everything goes to hell (literal disintegration of the universe, in the novel’s plotline), the colorful-misfit protagonists can manage only to fight (and not against the disintegration). Deep Disappointment, indeed.

    *Still don’t see anything specifically “radical” about Trans-Exclusionary Feminists…

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    Speaking as someone who was wrong about politics, economics, and religion for over half my life, I can forgive PZ for being wrong about Ms. Benson. We don’t want to believe our friends and allies are bigots, that is, until it’s laid bare for the whole world to see.

  24. Ed Peters says

    TERFs like OB deny that a person could have a sexual identity that doesn’t match their genitals. And they often make the same kind of shoddy arguments made against same sex marriage. E.g. it will ruin it for the “normals” (but either they don’t say exactly what is ruined, or they cannot make a case for how it gets ruined by the “non-normals”). What amazes me about TERFs is their belief that men would have their genitals removed and chemically alter their body with hormones for reason(s) other than identity. What other reason could it be?

    Do TERFs believe that men transition in order to have more sexual pleasure?

    Currently, the penis a man is born with is a whole lot more sensitive and provides far more physical pleasure than surgically constructed female sex organs. Permanently sacrificing a large amount of sexual pleasure is not a move made by someone who is trying to get more sexual pleasure. And I cannot imagine someone transitioning without knowing beforehand that their genital sexual pleasure will decrease.

    Do TERFs believe that men transition in order to have sex with people who have no sexual desire for men?

    Transitioning just to trick people into having sex is unethical, puts any relationship at risk, and puts the body at risk given how violent some people get if they find out they were so tricked. I seriously doubt any man has ever transitioned just to have sex with people who don’t want to have sex with a man, especially when there’s about the same number of people who do want to have sex with a man.

    Do TERFs believe that men transition in order to have access to a female body (albeit theirs) at all times?

    I can’t help but wonder if, for a het man, feeling his own post-transition lady parts is not nearly as wonderful as feeling someone else’s lady parts. It’s just too radical a solution to a fixable problem: not enough lady parts in your life. Much better solution: find a lady who loves having her lady parts played with as much as you want to play with them.

    Do TERFs believe that men transition in order to sightsee in women’s restrooms and showers?

    TERFs are saying these are het men who are willing to give up their genitals to get glimpses of women in various states of undress. TERFs need to stop watching Porky’s. No one is that desperate in the age of free internet porn.

    Do TERFs believe that men transition in order to have some unarticulated cachet which is reserved to women?

    If so, TERFs should articulate it. Maybe men can get some of it without cutting off their genitals.

    So I’m all out of reasons, and none of them make sense to me.

    People who transition, transition to their sexual identity, not away from it.
    Why is that so hard for TERFs to believe?

  25. says

    Thank the gods that OB left before I joined FTB. Now excuse me, I’m going to take advantage of my “not having any association with OB” privilege, and ignore her.

  26. microraptor says

    @16: That’s a whole lotta words for not having the slightest fucking clue what you’re talking about. Planning a career in right wing talk radio? Because you sound like you’d fit right in.

  27. asoricaho says

    @27: As a reader of an atheist blog, you should understand that simply holding a belief, no matter how strong or sincere, does not make that belief true. Religions are replete with stories of martyrdom, people willing to suffer agonizing torture and death for their faith, yet their beliefs are entirely false.

  28. vucodlak says

    @ gmcard, #16

    Males (people observed male at birth) retain that male privilege regardless of gender identity.

    It requires such a massive level of willful ignorance to say that transwomen enjoy the same privilege as cismen that I cannot make myself believe you’re that stupid. I just can’t do it. Once upon a time I might have been willing to play pretend, but I’m too old for that shit.

    Look at the obliteration of lesbian spaces.

    Which happens when self-appointed gatekeepers of womanhood decide they’d rather burn it all down than recognize transwomen.

    Look at the homophobic demand that lesbians need to learn to accept penis

    Outside of a very few interactions, why does it matter what another person’s genitals look like? Absolutely no one worth listening to is saying that anyone must date or fuck anyone they don’t want to.

    Look at the willingness to put dangerous sex-offender males (like Karen White) into female prisons where they continue their assaults against women.

    I grow tired of having to point this out, but the thing about transgender people is that they’re people, with everything that that implies. Some people are rapists. I guarantee that some of the ciswomen in that prison also sexually assault fellow ciswoman prisoners, to say nothing of what the guards do.

    This is not a problem caused by the existence of transgender people. It’s a problem caused by the refusal of society to deal with the epidemic of rape in prisons.

    Look at the big tech companies lining up to protect likely pedophiles

    Transgender people are people, with all that that implies.

    The mental contortions you perform to toe the line on the absurd, incoherent, and utterly misogynistic modern trans narrative is deeply illogical.

    You spew out a pile of lies, distortions, and fear-mongering, then close with this? Tell you what, next time just say “but their icky!!!” and leave it at that. It would actually be less stupid, grammatical error and all.

  29. asoricaho says

    @31: It matters what people’s genitals look like because (in the US, at least) we are socialized to not want to be nude in front of people with genitals different from our own. So regardless of whether the owner of a penis considers themself male or female, many (cis) women do not want that person present in their locker room.

  30. says

    Tabby Lavalamp @11

    Are there homophobes who do this much whining over “straight” or “heterosexual”?

    YES. Any time a minority group pushes for full legal and social equality, there’s someone there from the majority to whine about it, especially when labels — cisgendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, etc. — are in play.

    It’s the same shit every time: “You need to be labeled because you’re different.”

    What’s left unspoken: “…and therefore not really part of society.”

    When you roll with it and slap labels on them: “But we’re just normal, it’s offensive to put labels on us!

    On top of that, when issues needs specific to a particular group are brought up, such as disabled access or gay marriage or for trans people to have the right to use the loo that matches their identity, it’s “asking for special treatment.”

    All that leaves me with one burning question.

    If it’s just so offensive to assign labels to people, why do y’all insist on doing precisely that from the second that ultrasound shows Baby’s genitals?

  31. snuffcurry says

    She’s just like every white person who isvocally uncomfortable even considering being classified under a marked racial category that doesn’t privilege their existence. “No, no, there’s me and then there’s not-me! Those are the only two options and they both involve me!”

    To the people belowthread here who are convinced this was a slow-motion accident: it wasn’t. You either weren’t paying attention or you’ve learned something since then. You have trans people to thank for your subsequent education, some of whom were the specific victims of this person’s hateful, smug bigotry and her attempt to turn herself into a victim.

  32. says

    Asoricaho

    “So regardless of whether the owner of a penis considers themself male or female, many (cis) women do not want that person present in their locker room.”

    Yeah, but those same cis women freaking out about the potential presence of a dick are just fine with their own little boys running around the same locker room they want to ban penises from.

  33. aziraphale says

    “I tried to defend as not a TERF”

    Why would “defend” be the right word, if TERF is neutral and not condemnatory?

  34. says

    This is coming from a person I tried to defend as not a TERF, once upon a time. Boy, was I wrong.

    I know, it’s cheap to say “I told you so”, but, man, I told you so.
    I actually consider it one of you redeeming features, so to speak: you’re loyal to your friends, but eventually you’ll come around, it just takes you a while. I remember that it took you much longer than most of us to dismiss Dawkins as well.

    gmcard

    . And when you dig in to trans narratives, when you “shut up and listen”, when you finally get people to break out of circular definitions of what it means to “feel like a man” or “feel like a woman”, what you mostly hear about why people start IDing as trans comes down to gender stereotypes: men who preferred dolls to sports, women who were socially awkward. So it’s more a matter of self identity not matching the gender norms associated with their biological sex (for dysphoric cases; fetishes such as AGP also drive many cases). But what real person actually fulfills all the ridiculous gender stereotypes society has made up? Everyone is gender non-conforming to some extent, making a cis/trans binary damned absurd.

    That’s some concentrated bullshit right there. If “stereotypical gendered behaviour” is what you get out of “trans narratives” then you definitely didn’t follow that advice of shutting up and listening. Trans people have their gender expression ruthlessly policed at one hand (being ok with traits associated with their birth sex or choosing an androgynous appearance is seen as a sign that they are “not really trans”) and criticised at the other. While cis women do get a lot of shit for both conforming and not conforming to society’s ideas of femininity, it’s nothing compared to what trans women get. If they like make up, they’re both “appropriating femininity” and “acting stereotypically”, and if they don’t it shows that they are just men in dresses who have no idea what it means to be a woman.
    Also, non binary people exist.

    your missing any intersectional analysis that includes sex, an axis which is kind of important to Ophelia and other feminists). Males (people observed male at birth) retain that male privilege regardless of gender identity.

    1) Trans men exist. One of the things you people get your knickers in a twist about is using inclusive language in reproductive rights issues. If this were actually about all people who can become pregnant,and if they were all important, then that shouldn’t be an issue, yet it seems to bother you immensely.
    2) Bullshit. People who society sees as male may receive male privilege. Out of the closet trans women most certainly don’t. And the stories of trans people, especially trans women are diverse as fuck .

    Look at the obliteration of lesbian spaces. Look at the homophobic demand that lesbians need to learn to accept penis (AKA conversion therapy) if it is the penis of a trans-identifying male (as FTB’s own Natalie Reed argued).

    Holy shit, do you have a cattle farm that allows you to produce that much bullshit?
    The ones obliterating lesbian spaces are most definitely the transphobes who not only deny lesbianhood to trans women, but also to their cis partners. Nobody ever said that any individual lesbian needs to go and suck dick because not doing so would be transphobic.

    Look at the willingness to put dangerous sex-offender males (like Karen White) into female prisons where they continue their assaults against women.

    So in consequence you’re ok with locking up trans women with cis men, because that’s much safer? Sex offenders are sex offenders. They come in all varieties. They also come in the variety of cis lesbian. Where do you want to lock up cis lesbian sex offenders?

    asoricaho

    It matters what people’s genitals look like because (in the US, at least) we are socialized to not want to be nude in front of people with genitals different from our own.

    So, your culturally grown prudery trumps trans women’s need for access to facilities?

    So regardless of whether the owner of a penis considers themself male or female, many (cis) women do not want that person present in their locker room.

    Stalls, have you heard of stalls?
    Also, of course the same argument was made about black women getting access to white women’s spaces and (cis) lesbian women getting access to straight women’s spaces. We’ve heard it all before.

  35. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    It matters what people’s genitals look like because (in the US, at least) we are socialized to not want to be nude in front of people with genitals different from our own.

    Why do trans people have to be the ones to take that bullet?

  36. says

    Why would “defend” be the right word, if TERF is neutral and not condemnatory?

    It’s not. It’s just not a slur and more than “racist” neither a slur nor neutral.
    It’s not “neutral”, it’s accurate, though I’ll say that it is often used inaccurately as many people classified as such aren’t particularly feminist in other aspects, which is why I prefer “transphobes”.

  37. says

    WMDKitty

    Yeah, but those same cis women freaking out about the potential presence of a dick are just fine with their own little boys running around the same locker room they want to ban penises from.

    Oh, not all of them. There was some transphobe schism where they banned AMAB babies and toddlers from one of their meet ups, because a breastfeeding baby with a penis is already showing his entitlement to female bodies (I guess baby girls are just hungry). They all do have a very unhealthy obsession with children’s genitals but call trans women perverts.

  38. says

    Interesting choice of words there, “has become profoundly illogical”. Are we to suppose that a determined, largely self-driven descent into the mire of bigotry was instead some passive process that happened by accident, or that judging by the current year of 2019 was only some recent development? No, some observant people had noticed the lay of the land actual years before it became commonplace to see overwhelmingly negative and antagonistic postings in social media feeds on an almost daily basis, at which point tenure on a blogsite that is nominally supposed to be committed both to reason and to socially progressive views became utterly untenable.

    One poster above has given a capsule summary of the wholly discreditable method of claiming that everything about trans people is absurd, misogynistic, or incoherent: make a word salad of misrepresentation and Gish gallop from point to point. Present a mish-mash of confused ideas about biological sex and gender stereotypes with some weird rebuttals to ‘demonstrate’ how being trans is based on wonky ideas; sneakily assert how a bogus and discredited diagnosis like AGP implies that many trans people must be fetishists, rather than genuine. Add a red herring about gender non-conformity – but omit mentioning that gender dysphoria is not related to gender non-conformity (and the diagnostic criteria explicitly distinguish one from the other). Assert, without evidence, how the existence of trans women somehow – I don’t know how, but surely there would be some reason so totes obvious that the poster can’t even bring themself to mention it – somehow erase the existence of lesbians, or obliterate lesbian spaces.

    Forget about any of the positive, educational posts that Natalie Reed contributed to FTB, but libel her by falsely claiming she insisted “lesbians need to accept penis” and instantly bring up the topic of conversion therapy, as though any progressive person would consider it supportable. Continue Gish galloping to the subject of the imprisonment of trans people, and by immediately dropping the name of Karen White insinuate that trans women are by and large, rapists. Another name drop, then segue into a version of the ancient and completely discredited gay pedophile slur, but now rebadged for the 2010s and aimed squarely at trans people, or those who provide support for trans kids. And so on. And so on.

    As I say, that’s a capsule summary of one of the comments above, which is more or less a farrago of TERFy bullshit. What that poster put into a single denigratory comment is fairly similar to what was being served up on a regular basis by the subject of this post. To the point that even cisgender people – who might not be expected to detect covertly expressed transphobic nonsense – began to notice. (I gather that every so often something trans crops up in the news – the UK press is notorious for its transphobia – which sets of another cycle of trans bashing over at that blog, which continues to the current day).

    Another poster above has given his opinion – mistaken, I believe, but that is understandable – that the blow-up was prosecuted by a tribalist mob who were uninterested in ‘constructive dialogue’. I think that displays an outside view of what was a much less organised accumulation of people who were increasingly dismayed and disgruntled by the accelerating exhibition of flagrant bigotry. I’d be really interested to know what sort of ‘constructive dialogue’ might possibly have been used to persuade those whose views are so intransigent. And why, given how such awful, uninformed and personally degrading views like that are a dime a dozen out in the wilds of the internet – why on earth would anyone want to waste their time educating those who clearly don’t want to be informed?

  39. says

    Giliell @ 40:

    Oh, not all of them. There was some transphobe schism where they banned AMAB babies and toddlers from one of their meet ups, because a breastfeeding baby with a penis is already showing his entitlement to female bodies (I guess baby girls are just hungry). They all do have a very unhealthy obsession with children’s genitals but call trans women perverts.

    Before I killed my Twitter account, I recall seeing a screencap from some gendercrit (sic) reddit where someone taking them to task over their absurd biological determinism asked them exasperatedly if they still considered women who’d had ovarectomies or hysterectomies “women” by their definition. A good number of them did not, though some did graciously extend some kind of “associate” membership 🙄🙄🙄.

    What drives me up the bloody wall about this is how they claim they’re doing this to protect “real” (sic) women, and yet how quick they are to throw whole classes of cis women under the bus to prosecute their monstrous vendetta. Like mocking trans women for being “hairy” (conveniently overlooking that that was a joke used by right-wing comedians to beat all feminists with for years. Congratulations, the spirit of Bernard Manning lives on in you!) and thus making things unsafe for women with pituitary problems, polycystic ovary syndrome or any number of other conditions… Or the well-off arseholes here in Ireland who threatened to vote against the referendum to repeal the constitutional ban on abortion last year because they didn’t like that the movement was trans-inclusive and, well, they could always afford the trip to the UK if they needed one and fuck any sister who couldn’t because we hate (trans slur) and look what you made us do! Argh!

    I guess I’m angry because, yeah, I’m another of those people who felt a bit sorry for OB. You told us so. We should’ve listened.

  40. says

    Xanthe
    (good to see you, btw)

    What that poster put into a single denigratory comment is fairly similar to what was being served up on a regular basis by the subject of this post. To the point that even cisgender people – who might not be expected to detect covertly expressed transphobic nonsense – began to notice.

    Yeah, the veneer of plausible deniability, the aura of asking deep questions about what gender even means, that beloved smoke-screen of people who love the label “gender critical”, it is off. Back in those days it worked to some extent, many people who wished for Ophelia to not be a complete shithead to trans people believed it and she knew. She and her commenters knew how to pay lip service to issues like names and pronouns and maybe not beating trans women to death, so they would come off as “reasonable”.

    Cat Mara

    What drives me up the bloody wall about this is how they claim they’re doing this to protect “real” (sic) women, and yet how quick they are to throw whole classes of cis women under the bus to prosecute their monstrous vendetta.

    Now, of course as a result of their “trans woman in the bathroom” panic, quite a lot of butch cis women have been stalked into bathrooms (often by cis men), thrown out of premises for using the ladies’ room, and had security called on them. Because, ironically, those cis women did not perform “femininity” to the satisfaction of the world…

    Like mocking trans women for being “hairy”

    Not to forget the fucking racist component of that one…

    Oh, btw, gmcard, look what I found for you, , the actual DSM IV and V on gender dysphoria, courtesy of Zinnia Jones.

  41. KG says

    In particular, I remember her digging up cases where one or another muslim (usually in the UK) had done something unreasonable and used it to attack all muslims. She didn’t get much blowback for that because bigotry against muslims seems to be tacitly accepted in atheist circles. – Allison@15

    That doesn’t correspond to my memory. As I recall it, quite a few commenters (including me) recognised Benson as an Islamophobic bigot and called her out as such (I don’t recall the timeline, i.e. whether this was as you say before her transphobia became evident). And one of the main cues was the ridiculous fuss she made about the term “Islamophobia”, as if the choice of terminology was the main issue when those who looked as if they “might possibly be Muslim” (as her fellow-bigot Sam Harris puts it) were (and are) being attacked in the street. I think Benson just needs people to hate and despise.

  42. doubtthat says

    I must confess, as a cis white dude, that I have significantly more trouble understanding trans issues than I do any other historically mistreated category.
    I just listened to this podcast with Jill Soloway:

    https://art19.com/shows/larry-wilmore/episodes/ee16a9ae-518d-4ca2-b820-7e6f9207a506

    Their description of the reasons for transitioning – didn’t feel comfortable in make up, objected viscerally to having to spend hours getting dressed up while her male counterparts took a shower and slouched out to an awards banquet – all very compelling, but there are plenty of people who make that choice and still identify as women. So, it confuses my dumbass.
    But so fucking what? I mean, really, why should I need to “understand” it to respect my fellow humans and who should give a flying fuck whether I “understand” or agree with it?
    There are really only a couple of friction areas in our society where a person’s gender identification could make any difference, and those are all symptoms of larger problems:
    -College scholarships – is it “fair” that a person benefiting from male privilege for 15, 16, 17 years could then transition and obtain funds set aside specifically to help balance the effect of male privilege? Who cares – the problem is college is too fucking expensive and it should be made more affordable for everyone, then it’s not an issue.
    -Sports – this one will always be a problem. Even when hormones change, a person who is 6’2″ instead of 5’7″ will have an advantage in volleyball or basketball. But…it’s fucking sports. We’ll deal with it and figure it out and as long as we approach with humanity and a sense of justice (ha) I think our society will survive.
    -Domestic violence shelters – I see this brought up quite a bit – transwomen accessing domestic violence spaces set aside for cis women. Like college scholarships and such, this is another example of a lack of funding. We spend a paltry amount on those things as a society. A funding increase that is a fraction of a percent of our national budget would make that a non-issue.

    This is one of those tells that lets you know it’s bigotry. There are no vexxing problems in all of this from the perspective of society. It’s like gay marriage – basically impossible to articulate a real problem, just a lot of fucking bullshit.
    And I do sympathize with the confused. It confuses me, but again, so fucking what? I read Stephen Hawkings “A Brief History of Time” and had the very interesting experience of following it until I slapped very abruptly against the limits of my understanding of a topic. Still don’t get a lot of it. Society manages to move forward.

  43. microraptor says

    I’d also like to address the recurring “trans women are trying to trick their way into bed with lesbians BS.”

    As someone who identifies as a trans lesbian, I’d rather pass a kidney stone every day for a week than touch a TERF with a 10 foot poll.

  44. petesh says

    @34: Thanks for this, it’s both succinct and insightful and I wish I had written it (like Oscar Wilde, I shall): “No, no, there’s me and then there’s not-me! Those are the only two options and they both involve me!”

  45. says

    microraptor @ 49
    : They are in that respect similar to those enlightened (sic) bros who like to announce loudly about how OK they are with “the gays” “as long as they stay away from my ass hurr hurr snort”. Dudes, we’ve all seen your ass (those pants, really?), and even us straight guys can tell it ain’t all that. The next Robert Mapplethorpe surely won’t be immortalising that any time soon. But, hey, apparently gay men haven’t anything better to do with their time than to draw nefarious plans against the fundaments of mediocre straight white men. 🙄

    TL;DR: these people are absolutely terrified that the world might not cease to rotate without them.

  46. vucodlak says

    @ asoricaho, #32

    The solution is to redesign locker rooms, and any other space where people are expected to strip in the presence of others. This not a difficult thing to do.

  47. says

    @ vucodlak, #51 – Yeah, no kidding. I am uncomfortable stripping in front of anyone. I don’t care what genitals they have.
    It might be good if we could make our society less self-conscious about bodies and nudity. But until then, eh, I’ve never understood people so worked up about the different genitals/gender they’re getting naked in front of.

  48. Pierce R. Butler says

    Xanthë @ # 41: … his opinion … that the blow-up was prosecuted by a tribalist mob who were uninterested in ‘constructive dialogue’. I think that displays an outside view of what was a much less organised accumulation of people who were increasingly dismayed and disgruntled by the accelerating exhibition of flagrant bigotry.

    Perhaps we mean something different by the word “mob”, which to me does not imply much in the way of organizedness. Way back in the dim reaches of the summer of 2015, the chronic problem of Pharyngula hairtrigger flamethrowers was much more acute, and – to my perception, but not mine alone – the wave of instant white-hot self-righteousness built to a frenzy (exacerbated, true, by Benson’s then-atypical emotionality and wholesale deletion of critical comments) which drowned out all possibility of respectful discussion.

    I’d be really interested to know what sort of ‘constructive dialogue’ might possibly have been used to persuade those whose views are so intransigent.

    I held at the time that such us-vs-them dogmatism, treating relatively minor semantic disagreement as proof of vicious bigotry, seemed more likely to create transphobia than cure it. ~ 3.5 years later, Benson’s current deterioration can still be used to support either side of that debate, with no prospect in sight of analyzing why she (among others) clung then and clings now to errors of categorical absolutism so poorly suited to understanding human behavior.

    … why, given how such awful, uninformed and personally degrading views like that are a dime a dozen out in the wilds of the internet – why on earth would anyone want to waste their time educating those who clearly don’t want to be informed?

    Before the Battle of Benson, most of us viewed her as an intelligent observer with a real gift for elucidating and correcting logical fallacies and a valued member of the online freethought community. Perhaps, given a less rage-filled response, she might have learned and grown enough to maintain that position – or perhaps not, and all the super-psychics here claiming to know the “true” Ophelia Benson as an evil-souled infernal monster had it right all along. After all, when has The Horde® ever gotten anything wrong?

  49. says

    Pierce

    Perhaps, given a less rage-filled response, she might have learned and grown enough to maintain that position

    I’m still not a fan of “if you had been nicer to people hating you they might not be hating you” chastising, but you know, many people here really liked Ophelia and were regulars on her blog and had quite nice interactions with her and everything. And we didn’t break out the torches and pitchforks, but tried to talk to her, argue with her, comment on her blog. She grew ever more hostile, to the point of quote mining comments, selectively moderating comments (IIRC editing comments without indicating that she’d done so) and so on, until it resulted in people saying “fuck you”. But we didn’t start with “fuck you”. Nobody here is happy about this outcome. There’s one more raging transphobe on the internet and it is somebody that I greatly liked and held in high esteem.

  50. microraptor says

    Pierce R Butler @53:

    Perhaps, given a less rage-filled response, she might have learned and grown enough to maintain that position – or perhaps not, and all the super-psychics here claiming to know the “true” Ophelia Benson as an evil-souled infernal monster had it right all along.

    Was that something we were supposed to do before or after we were polite to Republicans so they wouldn’t vote for the Orange? About the same time we were supposed to be polite to homophobes so they’d stop trying to oppress us? Around the time we needed to appease the incels so they wouldn’t murder women?

  51. rietpluim says

    gmcard Always fun to see an obvious not-biologist lecture an actual biologist on biology.

  52. Pierce R. Butler says

    Giliell @ # 54: … we didn’t break out the torches and pitchforks, but tried to talk to her…

    Some did, some didn’t: the loudest voices set the tone.

    She grew ever more hostile…

    Yes, the whole situation spiraled downward very rapidly. I often felt I was the only one perceiving her as in pain; most seemed to take her non-capitulation as an invitation to escalation.

    … we didn’t start with “fuck you”.

    Others outside your circle of “we” (as I recall) did.

    Nobody here is happy about this outcome. There’s one more raging transphobe on the internet and it is somebody that I greatly liked and held in high esteem.

    Compared to, say, the hyperchristians, the quotation cited above doesn’t qualify as “raging” (mistaken on multiple levels, yes – but not written so that one has to read it as a shout). By such minor hyperbole, disagreements soon become feuds – especially online.

    microraptor @ # 55: … Republicans … homophobes … incels …

    You illustrate my point quite conveniently. Using a single point of similarity to declare full equivalence creates much heat, little-to-no light.

    Pls note: I do not hereby call for Kumbaya: sfaict, that potential, if it ever existed, has long passed. Longer-term readers here may recall that our esteemed host had to forbid personal insults and invocations of violence, to generally positive effect – few now would claim that his ukase did not improve the local conversation (and without the stultification intended by most calls for “civility”). But some real damage was done along the way, and I count Benson’s alienation from the FTB community as a (possibly) avoidable casualty from such verbal free-for-alls.

  53. says

    Giliell @ 54 & Pierce @53+57
    I remember it the way Giliell described. The blow-up was because things had been building for quite some time. I was mostly unaware of it. But during the blow-up I saw people pull out lots of receipts, in addition to recounting personal experiences, of working on it for months or even years prior.

    Some people hit the breaking point earlier than others, some because they’d been trying longer. It’s completely inaccurate to describe it as merely the loudest voices setting the tone. It’s, at best, merely an argument from ignorance, having been unaware of all the prior attempts at reasonable persuasion and discussion. It’s a real problem, not a virtue, to come in at the tail end of a discussion after it’s breaking down to start complaining about ‘why, oh why, isn’t anyone being reasonable’.

    And after having seen all those results, no, Benson’s alienation was not avoidable. I still remember one person talking about how when she brought up her favorite blogger, Benson, starting to show TERF signs, her daughter was already very familiar with Benson as a commenter on TERF groups/sites. Benson was already deep into TERF land before the blow-up, she was just largely hiding it from most of us.

  54. says

    Hi Giliell,
    It’s nice to be drop in – though the events of 2015 were for me a further disillusionment with the parlous, crapulent state of atheism. Why be a part of an environment that so clearly doesn’t want trans people around?

    Pierce.
    I don’t really wish to get involved in a back-and-forth, so let me be clear: people did not require ‘super psychic’ abilities to detect Benson’s transphobia. It only required observation and memory. And it certainly didn’t require some hyperbolic ability to divine “the ‘true’ Ophelia Benson”. Perhaps you were not around, or were not particularly observant of the flare-ups that preceded the large one, and did not realise the people who jumped fairly quickly to ‘fuck you’ had already attempted to have dialogue with Benson on the subject — to no effect.

  55. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    What I find especially hilarious about the response is the allegation that it assumes cis privilege.

    Ummmmm, no, actually, it didn’t do that at all.

    Imagine if someone said “When we discuss cancer survivors’ needs, it can be hard for those without cancer to understand. So a good move is to just ask”. Would that mean that we were saying that there was a vast conspiracy against people without cancer? No! We’d be saying that there’s something about an experience that many people will need to listen to a person who’s had that experience to understand. That’s it.

    There is cis-gender privilege, but the original tweet didn’t even depend on it. But accusing your opposition of bringing up privilege all the time is a great framing device if you want to virtue signal to frustrated centrists and disingenuous people. So… fuck honesty, right?

  56. rietpluim says

    why should I need to “understand” it to respect my fellow humans and who should give a flying fuck whether I “understand” or agree with it?

    QFFT
    Nominate this one for the Nobel Peace Prize, please.

  57. anat says

    gmcard, anyone who has an answer other than ‘I don’t know’ to the question ‘are you a boy or a girl? a man or a woman?’ has a gender identity. It completely doesn’t matter how said person arrived at that answer, whether the answer is identical with one of the categories presented in the question or a different one (including neither, both, or some other category), and whether the same person gives different answers at different stages of their life.

  58. microraptor says

    Pierce @ 57: Nope. As others have pointed out, people tried to politely explain what was the matter at the time. Ophelia responded by doubling down on the rhetoric while editing and deleting posts in her blog made by people who disagreed. The blowup happened after it became completely clear that she had absolutely no interest in having an actual discussion or changing her stance, no matter how much revisionist tone trolls insist otherwise.

  59. =8)-DX says

    @robertbaden #44
    I was responding to John Morales’ comment about:

    part of the the narrative is that (at least some) men¹ do it for the purpose of access to women

    The cis men in question were the invented thousands or millions of predatory cis men pretending to be trans to get access to women’s spaces.* My point was that even if that were true, the behaviour of cis men should not be the fault of or used to remove the rights of trans and nonbinary people.

    *although when you press them, the transphobes admit they consider all amab people to be men, and their presence in women’s spaces predatory by defintion, so the point is moot.

    Also thank you everyone (not the transphobes) for all the thoughtful comments in this thread.
    =8)-DX

  60. Pierce R. Butler says

    John-Henry Beck @ # 58: I remember it the way Giliell described.

    Funny, I remember it the way I described it. The pile-on came very fast and heavy (as did OB’s overreaction); the deletion of posts & comments, and the numerous references to off-site (F’book, etc) arguments, made careful analysis of competing claims difficult-to-impossible – though anyone attempting to say anything you might call “careful” was soon trampled and left behind. Certainly what Xanthë calls “intransigence” showed up in abundance on multiple sides.

    It’s, at best, merely an argument from ignorance, having been unaware of all the prior attempts at reasonable persuasion and discussion.

    I was there and aware, thank you very much – and I saw relatively little reasonableness from many, many anti-Bensonians.

    Xanathë @ # 59: I don’t really wish to get involved in a back-and-forth…

    Me neither – I still worry that this thread may degenerate into a replay of that donnybrook.

    Perhaps you were not around, or were not particularly observant of the flare-ups that preceded the large one, and did not realise the people who jumped fairly quickly to ‘fuck you’ had already attempted to have dialogue with Benson on the subject — to no effect.

    Or perhaps I was, and accurately perceived a self-reinforcing mob whip itself into a heresy-hunting hysteria (yes, I know the etymology thereof – but semi-synonyms like “panic” don’t quite fit in this case). The original to-do centered around whether a transwoman is a “real woman”: a major re-definition of a generally long-established concept, and worthy of much discussion – but the (eventually prevailing) faction insisted that the w-word now meant what they said it meant and any dissent or attempt to dissect proved that the dissenter absolutely embodied intolerable reactionary transphobic vileness which Truth & Justice demanded be denounced and driven out stat!

    I for one continue to see the debate as semantic &/or definitional: the meaning of certain words (e.g., “woman” and “man”) can no longer be taken for granted in the traditional way, but that does not compel everyone to accept without question a new (both vague and arbitrary) definition demanded by an ever-so-ardent faction – even if that faction does suffer from serious oppression and injustice. Individually and socially, we have a lot to learn from what transpeople are telling us – but that learning requires discussion and digestion, not dogmatism. The initial points raised in a debate that will continue for generations, however valid, do not settle all the issues arising from same.

    Not every question comprises a dishonest Just Asking Questions ploy, but (most of) the Bensonian backlash immediately assumed the worst and broad-brushed all attempts at nuance as despicable hostility to everything good. OB herself flailed around under attack in ways that did her no good at all, and the whole business splashed vomit and shit on just about everybody in line of sight. To see that process beginning to repeat itself now does not augur well for 2019.

  61. says

    Pierce
    Seriously, come on.

    Some did, some didn’t: the loudest voices set the tone.

    See, this is a very convenient tactic: since it will never happen that all people who hold a position perform nicety to the satisfaction of the other party (when in doubt, move the goalpost), you can always simply blame those loud people for your unwillingness to listen.

    She grew ever more hostile…

    Yes, the whole situation spiraled downward very rapidly. I often felt I was the only one perceiving her as in pain; most seemed to take her non-capitulation as an invitation to escalation.

    Two things:
    One: funny how Ophelia didn’t set a tone. You’re making it as if she were merely reacting to other people and their tone, with all of her tone being a reaction to that. Same with “non-capitulation” and “escalation”. I give her more agency and credit than that.
    Two: What about the pain of trans people, especially the trans women? You blame people opposing her transphobia for “escalating” the situation and excuse her with her “pain”. Also, how long is that “pain” supposed to last?

    Compared to, say, the hyperchristians, the quotation cited above doesn’t qualify as “raging” (mistaken on multiple levels, yes – but not written so that one has to read it as a shout).

    Compared to giving birth, my inflamed wisdom tooth didn’t hurt much.
    Also, have you seen her blog? Not that I go there regularly, I clicked the link provided in the OP. It’s 70% Trump and 30% going after trans people and allies with a couple of hundred retweets.

    By such minor hyperbole, disagreements soon become feuds – especially online.

    You may seem to think yourself “above” this, but trans people’s lives aren’t “disagreements”. This isn’t an unfortunate blow up that happened because of miserable communication skills that could be mended if we were just nicer to each other and sent chocolates.

  62. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Perhaps, given a less rage-filled response, she might have learned and grown enough to maintain that position

    Oh bullshit.

    If I can still care about social justice, and learn to appreciate further nuances of the basic convictions I’ve always had, after:

    -having the then-commentariat (there seems to have mostly been a change of the guard) just sorta sit there and shrug while SGBM stalked me from thread to thread and triggered my issues-that-may-or-may-not-technically-fit-“PTSD”-but-feel-about-right from years of bullying over and over for shits and giggles, to the point where for more than a decade I’ve avoided directly referring to the dictionary-human piece of shit by name for half-fear he’d show up again and dig up something I’d written 10 years ago to sneeringly quote-mine;
    -being dogpiled for hundreds of comments of self-righteous fuckery by people who, I eventually figured out, had arrogantly and ignorantly assumed that “splash damage” was a term that Social Justice Inc. had invented and owned and that I was “appropriating”;
    -being repeatedly gaslighted about my own actual lived experiences because they didn’t fit a preconceived narrative (and no, weren’t by any reasonable reading being extrapolated into a claim the narrative was categorically false) or were accurately described by statements that kinda vaguely if you squint at them funny remind someone of common anti-social-justice arguments;
    -and I know there’s more on the list but I find it strangely freeing that I can’t remember the other “feet of clumping cat litter” moments all that readily;

    then anyone who was ever more than half-wrong and got yelled at really has no excuse.

  63. says

    I really liked OB’s blog. I had several comments elevated to “guest post” status at Butterflies and Wheels over the years. It was one of my main online hangouts for quite awhile. But OB’s descent into TERFyness didn’t happen overnight, and wasn’t just some backlash against mean ol’ trans people being mean. People tried to be nice, to Gender Issues 101 her, but she was clearly more interested in what they had to say on her Super Secret Gender Critical Facebook Group what with their helicopter memes and why’s it so great to have Laverne Cox on a magazine cover anyway. I just looked through my Tumblr archive (since that’s where I was posting obliquely about it) and found a two-month span to my own comments on the subject. Such handle, very flying off.

    Anyway, it’s cool to see that victim-blaming logic here, just as useful and reasonable as seeing Sargon of Britain on Twitter saying that leftists are driving him to becoming a fascist. I’m not at all convinced that can happen without you being 75% of the way there already.

  64. says

    @Giliell, #66:

    One: funny how Ophelia didn’t set a tone.

    Right? I only really remember a few of the slippery-slide-into-TERFdom posts/comments, but the ones that stick out were “Why are people calling Laverne Cox brave etc. for being on a magazine cover? It’s demeaning/objectifying and women shouldn’t want that!” and “[the usual helicopter bullshit].” From the start, she was dismissive of trans people and the idea that trans people might face different prejudices than cis people. That some people responded to her dismissive tone and bog-standard transphobe memes negatively really isn’t on them.

    Seriously, nobody comes to the “well, what if I identify as an attack helicopter” concept on their own. It’s not some innocent position held by a person who’s just confused and asking questions, any more than “well, if evolution is true, then how come junkyards don’t turn into 747s?” is. It’s a transphobic meme, propagated in transphobe circles.

    Anyway, I just remembered that I have a folder full of screenshots from OB’s Facebook when all this was going down. Lotta ableism, cries about thoughtcrime and stalking, “they’re just like the Slimepit,” no pushback against commenters saying “paying attention when someone likes transphobic tweets is just like Stalin,” and hey whaddya know, a heaping helping of “OB’s only doing this as a reaction to people telling her what to do.” The more things change, etc.

  65. says

    #57:

    Giliell @ # 54: … we didn’t break out the torches and pitchforks, but tried to talk to her…

    Some did, some didn’t: the loudest voices set the tone.

    Errm, I think I have a pretty loud voice around here, and I was bending over backwards to be charitable, to the point where I was alienating a whole lot of other people on FtB. I was doing a lot of behind-the-scenes begging and negotiating and trying to convince her to stay, that she was clinging to an indefensible position, etc., etc., etc. Didn’t work. Got a lot of people pissed off at me because I wasn’t seeing the obvious (I wasn’t). She wrote me off, kicked me to the curb, declared that she wanted nothing to do with me ever again.

    I was going off to Seattle (for other reasons, nothing to do with the drama), and we’d planned a get-together while I was there. She cancelled it. That hurt.

    If it was only a difference over “minor hyperbole”, she certainly regarded it as major and serious.

  66. says

    The original to-do centered around whether a transwoman is a “real woman”

    Rubbish. The “original to-do” was at least two years earlier. How convenient when you can rewrite history to suit your own interpretation of events! As John-Henry Eric Beck pointed out, if you think that’s where things started, then you definitely came in at the end of the ‘to-do’, not the beginning.

  67. John Morales says

    I’m interested in seeing whether (and, if so, how) Ophelia responds to this post and its thread.

    (It will be informative either way)

    I also wonder if PZ informed her he was posting an opinion about her on his blog.

    (I think he probably didn’t)

  68. says

    Actually, you can still go back to the B&W blog here on FtB and see for yourself. It’s all there, though funny enough, I tried to find when I last commented there and it turns out that I couldn’t find any comments by me at all…

  69. says

    @Giliell:

    I tried to find when I last commented there and it turns out that I couldn’t find any comments by me at all…

    More than a little bit interesting, that.

    @PZ:
    I never blamed you for how you handled it, if that’s worth anything. There were a couple times when I felt like critiquing your public response, but there was already so much critique I didn’t feel that there was much I could add. Thus, I didn’t. I actually took a couple lumps from a couple people for not being more active, but there simply didn’t seem to be much that my participation could gain. Maybe I was wrong as well.

  70. says

    @Xanthë:

    if you think that’s where things started, then you definitely came in at the end of the ‘to-do’, not the beginning.

    Long after the start, but long before that “real woman” flameout, I remember being pissed as Freud that one of her commenters made a crack about how stupid someone was to articulate the phrase “male man” since, duh, there was literally no other type of man, ever! OB and several other commenters supported that ignorant comment, and I was keelhauled for pointing out that, while the person whom they were mocking (Vox Day, IIRC) deserved mockery, focussing the mockery on the phrase “male man” hurt people other than VD while showing off a decided ignorance.

    I was put on moderation/banned right about then, possibly in that very thread. She was never interested in the truth. I mean, seriously, even if you hate trans people and are religiously committed to fucking us over, the definition of “male” is malleable, and people born with micropenis or another DSD (including people who understand themselves as intersex) exist and are labeled “men” by society and by themselves. These are facts. Even if you had a raging hate on for trans people, why would you need to bash these other folks in passing? Why would you want to bash them? Why would you want to deny facts?

    It’s damn mysterious to me. I just don’t get it.

  71. snuffcurry says

    All you offer, all you have ever offered, Pierce, for as long as I’ve been reading here and at scienceblogs, is cut-rate Vulcanning and the odd amateur hour lesson in egg-sucking for the senior set.

  72. Ichthyic says

    Or perhaps I was, and accurately perceived a self-reinforcing mob whip itself into a heresy-hunting hysteria

    and yet, the rest of us were there too, and remember it exactly how Giliell described it.

    maybe the problem is with your memory, and not your “accuracy”.

  73. Ichthyic says

    All you offer, all you have ever offered, Pierce, for as long as I’ve been reading here and at scienceblogs, is cut-rate Vulcanning and the odd amateur hour lesson in egg-sucking for the senior set.

    lol!

    harsh, but “accurate”.

  74. Pierce R. Butler says

    Giliell @ # 66 – Seriously? Pls post exact GPS coordinates in conceptual/ideological space for the original, authentic location & orientation of the True Goal Posts here.

    You’re making it as if she were merely reacting to other people and their tone…

    Of course, the original threads have vanished into the digital Omega Point, but I feel rather sure OB began by addressing someone’s claim in general and abstract terms, with her critics making it personal and judgmental in due course.

    What about the pain of trans people, especially the trans women?

    Since when does the validity of a point depend on the discomfort of the point-maker? I’ve read that US Sen. Bob Dole suffered chronic back pain throughout his political career – does that make his policy preferences better than those of, say, either of the physically-fine (sfaik) Clintons? More to the point – did I not acknowledge the oppression and injustice endured by transfolk?

    …how long is that “pain” supposed to last?

    And did I not write that enough time had passed to heal bruises – and that Benson shows no sign of “getting over it”?

    … have you seen her blog?

    Have you seen my # 25 here?

    … she doesn’t now do the philosophical work that previously distinguished her writing.

    You may seem to think yourself “above” this…

    I try to take a somewhat-detached position appropriate for a three-years-later perspective. If that disturbs you, sue me for damages.

    … trans people’s lives aren’t “disagreements”. This isn’t an unfortunate blow up that happened because of miserable communication skills…

    A blog-level blowup may agitate hundreds of people, but it’s a flea on an elephant compared to the actual violence of literal trans-bashing or the systemic insult of bathroom bills, etc. If you mean that Benson has descended to Richard-Spencerian incitements to assault, pls provide a link.

  75. Pierce R. Butler says

    Azkyroth… @ # 67 – Damn, and there I was kicking myself for long and hard-to-follow sentences @ my # 65!

    Okay, you’ve had some serious stresses – and therefore other stressed people “have no excuse”?

  76. Pierce R. Butler says

    Tom Foss @ # 68: … OB’s descent into TERFyness didn’t happen overnight…

    The part visible at FTB seemed about that fast.

    … and wasn’t just some backlash against mean ol’ trans people being mean.

    Most of the meanness I observed here came from, sfaict, cispeople playing the role of trans allies.

    … her Super Secret Gender Critical Facebook Group …

    The contents of which some people who claimed to have seen it disagreed about. As this (to my limited recall) only came up here after the debate deteriorated to poo-flinging, I felt little choice but to regard the conflicting accounts as hearsay.

    … that victim-blaming logic …

    To my eyes, just about everybody involved looked like both victim and victimizer: a lose-lose situation for all concerned.

  77. says

    @Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden, #77:

    Why would you want to bash them? Why would you want to deny facts?

    Look, I hate to say that she didn’t care. What’s surprising scanning back through some of these screenshots is that there is a level of care. “I suppose they also want to make sure trans people aren’t made to feel marginal any more than they already are, etc etc etc…But the trouble with that is, I’m pretty sure I’m not doing that.” It’s that she cared more about what she was hearing from Sarah Ditum and Gia Milinovich than trans people or trans allies. At bottom, I think the only intersectionality she ever really understood or cared about was “being a woman” and “being an atheist.”

    All that said, I was reminded that this is also the time that she called a critic (another longtime commenter there) “volatile” and “a shit,” and then when another commenter said “my impression is that [the critic] is a rather heavy drinker. Those folks often exhibit sudden and bizarre mood swings, in my experience…”volatility”. So that might explain that aspect of him” and “I hate to say it, but it almost feels like he’s doing it for the cookies that these immature red-ragers dole out,” her response was “I don’t even hate to say it, because it’s so fucking obvious, and loathsome.”

    Why would you want to bash other folks in passing? Because it comes naturally.

  78. Pierce R. Butler says

    PZ Myers @ # 71: … I think I have a pretty loud voice around here…

    Not the one which prevailed in that fateful August of 2015, as I recall.

    … I was bending over backwards to be charitable…

    I recall you as speaking up for fairness, not for charity.

    She wrote me off, kicked me to the curb…

    One thing I hope we can all agree on: OB did not handle that crisis or its aftermath well.

    If it was only a difference over “minor hyperbole”, she certainly regarded it as major and serious.

    The “minor hyperbole” I meant, in my # 57, was Giliell’s characterization of the “Bad beginning…” spiel you quoted in the OP as “raging” transphobia. T-phobic, yes; biased and fallacious, indeed; but at least by 1/6/2019 standards not quite “raging”.

  79. Pierce R. Butler says

    Xanthe @ # 72: The “original to-do” was at least two years earlier.

    Hey, you don’t have to move any goalposts if you can reset the starting line.

    If something simmers for two years before exploding, that’s relevant context – but it doesn’t alter the time of the actual bang.

  80. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ichthyic @ # 79: … maybe the problem is with your memory, and not your “accuracy”.

    The problem is that much of the relevant archive no longer exists.

    Do you think emotionally-biased recall affects only one side of a debate?

  81. says

    Giliell @ 40

    There was some transphobe schism where they banned AMAB babies and toddlers from one of their meet ups, because a breastfeeding baby with a penis is already showing his entitlement to female bodies (I guess baby girls are just hungry). They all do have a very unhealthy obsession with children’s genitals but call trans women perverts.

    I’m of the opinion that babies in general, while certainly entitled to be fed, are not entitled to the use or products of another person’s body. Plus, why should Mum have to do all the feeding? Dad should be doing half the child-care!

    While I don’t necessarily agree with banning small boys from the ladies’ facilities, I have to give credit for being consistent. To say “no penises allowed in this space”, but then turn around and insist that your boy-child be allowed in that space is just hypocritical and shows an incredible lack of self-awareness.

    As for the whole “pervert” thing, I’ve been peeked on by plenty of very young boys, usually from under the stall wall or door. (Usually because the parent hasn’t bothered to enforce boundaries at home, always met with “well he’s just curious.” The excuses for male misbehavior start early.)

    I’ve never been peeked on by a trans person.

  82. Matt Cramp says

    This is going to get lost in the noise, but, uh, furries don’t identify as animals in the way you mean, PZ. Expression of their personality, yes, but it’s rather like the distinction between being transgender and crossdressing.

    Thankfully, there is a better equivalent, ‘otherkin’, who literally identify as animals.

  83. DavidinOz says

    shut the hell up and listen is not how I start a discussion, it is how I start an argument, and there is plenty of that going on here. Huge amounts of heat and very little light.

    I wonder how many here have read the entire post and how many have just piled on to be part of “team trans”?

    I wonder why PZ felt the need to make a post about this? Was it to encourage another pitchfork march on OB?

    And why is it only the men who have transitioned to female that need to shout and not the women have have transitioned to male? Is it because those who have grown up male still think it’s all about them? I think so.

    In the comments above I have seen very little support for trans people, just a lot of straw manning and bullying.

    I am disappointed in you.

  84. Allison says

    Frankly, for a trans person, there’s something surreal and erasing in seeing cis people feuding with cis people over whether we exist. I mean, I am grateful that there are cis people being allies for us and pushing back against the transphobes (and homophobes and every other kind of -phobe.) But the fact that people have to come up with logical arguments and “evidence” that our transness is “real,” thus keeping the question alive of whether we do, in fact, exist, keeps giving me the creepy feeling that maybe I’m just a figment of my own imagination. I think the technical term is “depersonalization.”

    It’s like when people run around “proving” that 1 = 0 — nobody sees any real need to “disprove” it, because it’s obvious that such a proof is BS. (It’s a reductio ad absurdum on the face of it.) But it seems like even those who believe in our existence feel the need to prove it. I was just reading HJ Hornbeck’s post about trans athletes, which has all kinds of “scientific,” “objective” evidence that gender dysphoria, gender identity, etc. are real. The problem with going down that path is not only that it concedes the possibility that it could be “disproven,” but also that trans people who don’t fit into the definitions and criteria in those “proofs” are then implicitly left out of the category “real trans.”

    This is BTW why I don’t like the idea of medical tests for transness, or proofs that trans people’s brains are observably different from cis people’s. Ultimately, being trans lies in one’s own understanding of oneself, gained through hard and painful experience. If I know based on my own experience of myself that “trans” best describes me, and some brain scan “proves” that I’m not, which am I to believe? (“Who are you gonna believe? Me? Or your own eyes?”) I spent most of my life ignoring my experience of myself and trying to live the way society told me I should, and it damned near killed me, and I think most trans people (at least we older trans people) have had the same experience.

  85. says

    @92 Allison

    Thank you so much for that. You put into words something I feel all the time. Debates like this make me feel erased as well and even the well meaning people can drive me to utter despair at just being able to live without being anyone’s issue.

  86. vucodlak says

    @ DavidinOz, #91

    shut the hell up and listen is not how I start a discussion, it is how I start an argument, and there is plenty of that going on here. Huge amounts of heat and very little light.

    Tone-trolling is not how you start a discussion, it’s how you (attempt to) shut it down. I don’t foresee that working out too well for you in this space.

    I wonder how many here have read the entire post

    I did. Bog-standard transphobia, not even worth addressing after PZ’s thorough response. Nothing about it is interesting or original; not the self-pity, not the whining about being called something that shouldn’t be the least bit controversial (“cis”), not the disingenuous JAQing off.

    I read the comments, too. I rolled my eyes a lot.

    I wonder why PZ felt the need to make a post about this? Was it to encourage another pitchfork march on OB?

    I won’t even try to speak to PZ’s motivations, but I can tell you that I feel zero urge to march on OB’s blog. I have neither the time nor the inclination to chase down and argue with every pack of assholes on the ‘net. However, as someone who participates in this community, I have a responsibility to push back against transphobia when it rears its empty head here.

    I am disappointed in you.

    Oh, how my heart breaks! Get in line with the rest.

  87. Saad says

    DavidinOz, #91

    Woah, woah, woah there buddy! Criticizing someone is free speech!!!

    Also:

    Trans people: being murdered, committing suicide, being severely marginalized, discriminated against, and mocked for who they are

    Ophelia: gets called a TERF

    DavidinOz: OMG PITCHFORK MARCH!!!

    Fuck off, snowflake.

  88. dirtynerdyakaandilynn says

    Honestly? This is too little too late. I used to really look up to you. Your blog was one of few that I would check every day. I wasn’t much of a commenter, but I got to know the community (and many of us are now friends on facebook). This blog felt like home.

    Then when we pointed out that Benson was making friends with TERFs and saying/sharing transphobic things, you refused to listen. You even blocked me on twitter after one tweet addressing the issue.

    Maybe you would have noticed her descent to TERFdom like 3 (?? maybe 4??) years ago if you had listened to all the trans people, including myself, who tried to talk to you about it.

    I also want to point out that Benson’s problem is not just that she’s being illogical. She’s also being hateful, hurtful and bigoted.

    You seriously owe a lot of people apologies for blocking or banning many of us when we tried to talk to you about this years ago.

    Hell, I’ve had to block Benson and anybody connected to her across all social media because she screenshot my comments in order to claim me as an example of trans people hating women (because being insulted when I’m misgendered means I hate women?)

    She’s done a lot worse to a lot more people. It would be nice if you acknowledged this. Please. Think about those of us who were deeply hurt by all of this.

    P.S. im sorry if this posts multiple times, im on my phone and the “post” button didnt do anything when i clicked it so who knows if this will be seen by anyone ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  89. JP says

    For everybody talking about how “TERF” is inaccurate, we have a new acronym now! FART: Feminism-Appropriating Reactionary Transphobe.

    I kinda sort of remember the original thing with OB, but I never really lived at FtB as much as I did a couple of other places. (Related: I have my own blog now. A comrade of mine has a web server, so I only had to pony up for the domain name. killthecopinyourhead.com just in case you’re interested. It’s a baby.)

    Also I figured out that I’m trans… or NB… or something. The best I’ve been able to articulate it so far is “I’m a bisexual man stuck in a woman’s body, but I actually sort of like my body and I don’t want to change it?” Idk. If I lived in a sci-fi world where I could go back and forth between a “male” and a “female” body, that would be rad.

  90. DavidinOz says

    SAAd, you wouldn’t know free speech if it bit you on the arse.

    Trans people: being murdered, committing suicide, being severely marginalized, discriminated against, and mocked for who they are

    There’s a lot of groups to whom that applies, take a look at the lived experience of the People of Turtle Island, black and coloured people in the USofA. Look at August Ames, apparently bullied in to suicide for choosing to do what she wanted with her body, bullied by a bunch of MEN who thought it was their right to fuck her, not her choice with whom to fuck.

    Why is it always men invading women’s spaces, demanding equal treatment with women? Where are the transgender men demanding to be selected for men’s sporting teams? Demanding to be treated as men and given all the privileges that go with it? Where are the transgender women on the cover of Time? Being honoured as Man of the Year? Nowhere, because they are still as invisible as most other women, because they didn’t learn to be arrogant, shouty, entitled areshles as children.

    Why was my Lesbian daughter asked to step down from her Lesbian committee role so a trans bloke could get a seat?

    Do trans people exist? Of course they do.

    Do trans people deserve human rights? Of course they do.

    Do trans people’s rights trump the rights of others? No, there will always be a bit of rub where rights intersect.

  91. says

    How far the mighty have fallen.

    There was a time when following you was a matter of laughing at the antics of religious buffoons. That time is past. You are now on record as being a brazen liar, PZ. When I met you in 2012, I thought you seemed a reasonable man. Now I think that you’re a clown.

    You not only lied about that dinner with Dana, you lied about everything else. Ophelia just decided not to show up, given Dana’s abuse. She didn’t “cancel” the dinner. I mean, this is on the fucking record. You could have had dinner with Dana. You could have had a different dinner with Ophelia, if you had the fucking balls. But you didn’t, because you are hopeless. Spare me your tears. You didn’t have to cry off about how the dinner was “cancelled” by her.

    Show us the email trail where you were “negotiating and trying to convince her to stay, that she was clinging to an indefensible position, etc., etc., etc. “. Go on, show us. I don’t think it happened. I think that you’re a liar. I think that you begged her to stay–I do believe that– because you wanted your bottom line to matter, because all you’ve ever cared about is getting comment traffic to line your pocket. The fact is, PZ, you lie constantly. You’ve temporized and tried to make a sort of peace, and that’s why all the real idiots on FtB bailed out to make The Orbit. They knew that you are untrustworthy. And now that they’ve gone, and you have much less traffic, you’re attacking your former friend as a way to summon more traffic. For shame. For SHAME, sir.

    You’ll likely to delete this comment. I don’t care.

  92. says

    @DavidinOz

    Why was my Lesbian daughter asked to step down from her Lesbian committee role so a trans bloke could get a seat?

    Do you even listen to yourself? How am I supposed to know?

    it could be that your daughter was the most evil person ever to sit on that committee and was using her position to sexually harass others and plot the genocide of red-headed people everywhere. The committee members might have kicked her out to save the world and drafted a reluctant trans guy to fill the empty seat to make it harder for your daughter to force her way back on.

    It could be that your daughter was the most noble person ever to sit on that committee and all the others were eeeeeeevil and, at the instigation and direction of the most evil of them all, a trans man, moved to eject her to prevent the inevitable confrontation that would occur when she stood athwart their path to violent world domination.

    It could be that you don’t even have a daughter, but know that on the internet you can get away with asserting that you do.

    Why kind of ridiculous question is this? How self-centered can you get? We’ve got our own lives, we don’t know anything about yours and if you want someone to explain events in your life (or your daughter’s life) and you don’t have the courage or communication skills to go ask the people who made the decision, then just go hire a therapist like everyone else.

    We are not here to give you free therapy, DavidInOz. There is no intimacy between us. We don’t follow your life story. If you want intimacy then you and yourself can go get a room.

    @MrFancyPants:

    How far the mighty have fallen.

    When I first met PZ in person several years ago, he was a schlubby guy with the brain of a midwestern college professor. Now I expect he’s a schlubby guy with the brain of a midwestern college professor. He was never a hero. He was never “mighty”. He was a guy. Who talked. Like humans are known to do.

    No gods, no heroes, MrFancyPants: even PZ would tell you, and would have told you, and did try to tell anyone who read PZ’s blog, that evidence and argument stands on its own (or should) regardless of who presents it. If you failed to listen and are less impressed with PZ recently than you were in the past, I would hope it would be because the arguments PZ is currently making are less impressive than in the past. Getting excited because the arguments are PZ’s, making PZ out to be “mighty”, these things prove you to be an inattentive fool. The words, the evidence, the arguments were “mighty” if anything was mighty. Sometimes they happened to come from PZ’s fingertips (or lips). Sometimes they happened (and happen) to come from others’. That’s it. If he occupied some position of direct power – Senator or Governor or Chief Sore Throat Lozenge to the Stars – then you might have been able to make some reference to mightiness that wasn’t solely a property of the things he happened to communicate, entirely separate from himself.

    But nope. The mighty didn’t fall. The mighty were never mighty. And the fact that you fooled yourself into thinking otherwise speaks very poorly of the likelihood that you ever really understood what PZ was saying in the first place.

  93. JP says

    It could be that your daughter was the most noble person ever to sit on that committee and all the others were eeeeeeevil and, at the instigation and direction of the most evil of them all, a trans man, moved to eject her to prevent the inevitable confrontation that would occur when she stood athwart their path to violent world domination.

    Trans woman, I think, actually, given that the person in question is in a lesbian group. DavidinOz is just doing the transphobe thing of calling trans women “trans men” and trans men “trans women.” The whole comments was pretty confusing for me in that regard until I figured out what was going on.

  94. patrick2 says

    from the OP:
    “Cis does have a sensible meaning. It refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.”

    And what is “gender identity”? I have never found a clear explanation of what gender identity means. Most explanations simply say that it refers to some kind of internal sense of whether one is male, female or neither. But what this internal sense actually is or what it relates to is always left extremely vague.

    I was born male, which is why I call myself a man (in the sense that I am an adult male human). But I have no internal sense of being male, nor of being female, and I have no idea what such an internal sense is supposed to be. Just like I was born with brown eyes, but I have no internal sense of being a brown-eyed person. Which is why when someone says “I was born male but I identify as a woman”, or vice versa, I don’t understand what they’re talking about. It’s analogous to saying “I was born with brown eyes but I identify as a blue-eyed person.

    When explanations of what being trans means actually do try to be more tangible, they usually fall back on at least one of two things:
    1. Gender dysphoria, the sense that one’s body or sex anatomy is “wrong”. But there are all sorts of body dysphorias, and I don’t think a man who feels his male body is “wrong” is actually less male because of it. No more than a person with anorexia who thinks they’re fat is any less skinny because of it.
    2. Gender stereotypes, specifically a male person feeling more comfortable with things or behaviours typically considered “feminine” or a female person feeling more comfortable with things or behaviours typically considered “masculine”. But if you see gender as socially constructed (which is how I see it), then a man who prefers “feminine” things is no less a man for it, nor is a woman who prefers “masculine” things no less a woman for it.

    For what it’s worth, I’m saying these things not to belittle anyone, but because I genuinely cannot make sense of the trans movement’s claims about gender.

  95. lotharloo says

    @MrFartyPants:

    because you wanted your bottom line to matter, because all you’ve ever cared about is getting comment traffic to line your pocket.

    Bwhahahaha. I guess next you are going to claim PZ decided to study science to be a billionaire. If PZ wanted virtual fame, comments, etc. he could do what right-win bots, Jerry Coyne, or Sargon fucker have done: praise the majority.

  96. lotharloo says

    @patrick2:
    You don’t need to understand something to accept that it exists. I don’t understand quantum mechanics, how cells divide, how a dishwasher work, and I don’t know much about history of China, etc. etc. and it would be stupid to use my ignorance or lack of knowledge to deny the existence of any of them. If you have tried to read about gender identity and none of the explanations make sense to you, then a few comments here and there won’t help either. And it’s fine, unless you decide to claim that just because you don’t understand it, then it must not exist. Then, we have a problem.

  97. Sophie Jane says

    @Allison Ultimately, being trans lies in one’s own understanding of oneself, gained through hard and painful experience.

    Another thanks for this, and solidarity to anna@93. And a reminder to the cis people here that trans people(*) have always existed, regardless of your many, many opinions.

    (*) More accurately, gender non-conforming people have always existed and trans identities are the current cultural framework for us. But it amounts to the same thing – the people come first and the labels after.

  98. Ichthyic says

    Do you think emotionally-biased recall affects only one side of a debate?

    no. do you?

  99. says

    @Patrick2:

    Then you should look through the Gender Workshop posts here at Pharyngula and/or related posts over on Pervert Justice.

    Have you ever taken a class from an expert? Or are you just asking random trans* people to explain things to you? I can ask a random person in BC where the “Lower Mainland” is and get an answer, but if I ask them to define the lower mainland, giving the exact boundaries it’s unlikely that anyone except a local urban planning expert can name them.

    There is language in any discipline that is used with imprecise understanding by lay persons who need to make use of its concepts. That doesn’t mean that any resident of the Lower Mainland knows exactly which municipalities are or aren’t within the boundaries. Things like Burnaby, sure, they’ll get that right, but defining the boundaries? The cities and townships on the edge? Nah, you’ll get all sorts of imprecise and conflicting answers about what is and isn’t “Lower Mainland” even from people who actually live in the lower Mainland. Even from people in Langley. Even from people in Maple Ridge. J

    ust because your lived experience is as a LowerMainlander doesn’t mean you have a perfectly accurate definition to hand out – especially not one that’s intelligible to folks that aren’t living in the Lower Mainland. Someone from the LM might answer the question from another resident of the LM, “Well, you know that stretch of Lougheed out there that parallels the railroad tracks for a ways? I always figured you just call the dividing line halfway down that stretch.” Does that help you at all, Patrick2? No? Without a certain amount of background knowledge it wouldn’t make any sense to me either. but it does make sense to me. It’s still not accurate: the Lower Mainland has a colloquial sense and a legal sense and the first is vague, so this definition won’t match up with others’, and the 2nd is precise, but that’s not where the boundary is.

    You can’t expect random trans* folks to do better at making you understand these things than random Lower Mainlanders do at making outsiders understand the boundaries of the Lower Mainland.

    This simplest answer to “what is gender identity?” is just this: Gender identity is the answer someone gives to the question, “What is your gender?” A slightly longer answer is that it is how one understands one’s own relationship to gender categories. Everyone has such an understanding, but for the vast majority of cis people this understanding is superficial and entirely reliant on stereotypes and conditioning – there’s almost no thought or interrogation of their own gender identities at all.

    When someone who has thought deeply about these subjects attempts to explain them to someone who has never even realized that “what is your gender?” is a question that might require thought, there is often a deeply fucked up translation that takes place because the people with the superficial understanding don’t really know anything about gender EXCEPT stereotypes. And, indeed, stereotypes are PART of gender. One important aspect of gender is what’s called a “gender role”, and you can’t have a gender role without having expectations about the qualities of the people that fill that gender role. Thus one part of interrogating one’s gender is considering one’s relationships to those stereotypes. In fact, it’s very frequently an early part – but it doesn’t end there. It’s not “about” stereotypes except to the extent that the cis-majority makes gender, generally, about stereotypes.

    In any case, to thoughtfully answer the question, “Hey, Patrick2, what is your gender?” you’re going to have to understand gender itself in a way that you very probably don’t now, if your comment is any guide.

    Feel free to search for “Online Gender Workshop” on Pharyngula or for “gender identity” on Pervert Justice. You’ll learn quite a bit. If you want to go even farther than that, the best introductory book for someone seeking to understand all the various concepts subsumed in the syncretic categories of gender is going to be Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach.

    In the meantime, please don’t ask random trans* people to explain gender to you. We’re not all professors. Not all of us are experts at educating others. And the ones who are deserve to get paid for their time and expertise. Buy a book. Read the book. Read information on the internet that comes from actual experts in gender studies, not random trans* folk. Attend a class. Do anything but go off on how trans* people have failed to clear up your confusion.

    YOU have failed to clear up your confusion. No one else. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility. If you don’t understand, that’s YOUR failure.

  100. Ichthyic says

    Hey, you don’t have to move any goalposts if you can reset the starting line.

    this is you, using your OWN IGNORANCE to accuse others of moving goalposts.

    think about that, you utter asshat.

  101. says

    @lotharloo:

    it’s fine, unless you decide to claim that just because you don’t understand it, then it must not exist.

    Even if people concede that transness exists and that trans men are men and trans women are women and that non-binary folks are actually outside the binary, I also think it is not fine if people think that just because they don’t understand it, that means that someone else has to do more thinking or more work.

    Patrick2 never even has the decency to ask, “Will someone please help me with my understanding?” That would be bad enough, expecting any random person reading Patrick2’s comment to both a) be an expert and b) provide that expertise for free. But Patrick2’s comment falls into a very common patter where confused people announce, “I’m confused! You don’t make sense!” and expect, in the most entitled way, that others will jump in and solve the confusion.

    I actually have jumped in a small amount, but not nearly enough to actually provide an accurate picture of all the components of gender that interact with gender identity and thus affect how someone goes about answering the question, “What is my gender?” But I resent it, and Patrick2 & others who are confused need to stop complaining about being confused and actually pay for the high-quality education that they need.

    No, the vast majority of trans* folks are not experienced educators and experts on gender studies, just like people from British Columbia are not automatically experts on where the Lower Mainland Air Quality district’s boundaries are, or even on the colloquial Lower Mainland’s boundaries. But there are those of us who are experts, and it would be nice if people actually paid for our expertise the same way that they pay for french or clarinet lessons instead of leaving drive by comments about how it’s weird that metal flutes are called woodwinds and wind players are clearly confusing everyone with their vague and contradictory concepts, then waiting expectantly for someone to explain to them the history of every fucking musical instrument that has ever made a sound via rushing air.

    Ugh.

  102. Jazzlet says

    @Patrick2
    I didn’t know that much about trans* people, I knew they existed, I have a trans niece-in-law (?brother’s wife’s niece?), but haven’t seen her since she was a pre-transition child. At some point during a similar discussion to this, Crip Dyke’s Online Gender Workshop was mentioned and I toddled off to go through it. I found it very helpful, I wouldn’t say it means I completely understand what it’s like to be trans*, but then I don’t entirely understand what it’s like to be Nigerian or American or Iranian either, they’re still very real identities with very real consequences. Come to that I don’t entirely understand what it’s like to be a man, all you can do is try to understand with the the help of the very many resources out there.

  103. A. Noyd says

    Pierce R. Butler (#86)

    If something simmers for two years before exploding, that’s relevant context – but it doesn’t alter the time of the actual bang.

    For fuck’s sake, dude. If anyone’s moving goalposts here, it’s you.

    The “simmer” was just a “simmer” for you. The whole fucking point that people are trying to get through the miles-thick shell of your bias is that it wasn’t a simmer for them. It was always a conflagration, even when you weren’t paying much attention.

    It’s not mere “relevant context” anymore than your neighbors’ house fire is nothing but “relevant context” up to the point where the fire sets off the propane tank and you finally have to take notice.

  104. A. Noyd says

    patrick2 (#103)

    But I have no internal sense of being male, nor of being female, and I have no idea what such an internal sense is supposed to be.

    So, you don’t feel like something’s off if you’re referred to as a woman or called “she” or “ma’am”? For you, that feels exactly the same as if you’re referred to as a man or called “he” or “sir”? And I’m not talking about whether you put much effort into actively caring about it, or whether it offends you. I’m talking about an immediate instinct, however quiet and unobtrusive it may be, telling you “someone has made a mistake about what I am.”

  105. says

    Pierce R Butler @ 25:

    The “radical” bit in the TERF equation is their feminist politics, which are very much so far down the gender-essentialist end of the scale as to be effectively congruent with the gender politics of the late Georgian and early Victorian eras, and with those of MRAs and extreme Christian fundamentalists. Basically, according to radfems, women are poor, weak, insignificant little beings who cannot handle the stress and corruption of being involved in public life, and who need to be protected from exposure to the evil machinations of the patriarchy/suffragettes/intersectional feminists/men in general/the Devil [strike out those which don’t apply] and need to be shepherded through life under the benevolent tyranny of radical feminism/male dominance/the teachings of the gospel [again, strike out as appropriate]. Oh, and we can’t possibly be enjoying heterosexual sex, because that’s impure and improper, so we must be faking to impress men (the only sex genuine women really enjoy is proper, non-penetrative lesbian encounters, and the only genuine female sexuality is lesbianism).

    I actually prefer the MRAs and fundamentalists spouting this sort of bullshit to radfems. At least they’re upfront about saying they think I’m inferior and don’t deserve any rights, rather than trying to pretend to me (and to themselves) that removing those rights I do have is all for my own good.

  106. says

    @davidinoz #98:

    Why is it always men invading women’s spaces, demanding equal treatment with women? Where are the transgender men demanding to be selected for men’s sporting teams? Demanding to be treated as men and given all the privileges that go with it?

    Transphobes have ignored trans men for years because they’re inconvenient for the fearmongering narratives, and now that they deign to acknowledge their existence, they assume that their ignorance is further evidence of the insidiousness of trans women and patriarchy’s influence on AFAB individuals.
    In reality? The literal first example of a trans rights issue that comes to my mind from the last few years is Mack Beggs, the wrestler who has won two girls’ state wrestling championships because Texas refuses to let him compete with the boys, which is what he’d prefer. Probably the most significant trans rights case, at least in the US, in the last few years, is the case of Gavin Grimm, who took his case for access to his high school’s boys’ bathrooms to the Supreme Court.

    Oh dear, there goes your whole narrative. Whoopsie.

    @MrFancyPants, #99: You know, back when people were noticing how Ophelia liked a bunch of bigotry on her social media, FtB was “just like the slimepit,” but here you are with this over-the-top rhetoric, painting PZ as the head of a failing empire, throwing around accusations and playground insults, saying it’s all being done for the clicks, even a “I bet you’ll delete this comment.” If only you’d thrown in a “more like Atheism MINUS” or “asking for coffee isn’t rape” or a pornographic photoshop, it’d feel just like 2013 again.

    Frankly, I’m a little surprised you didn’t just write PZ off as a volatile alcoholic.

  107. says

    Pierce

    Of course, the original threads have vanished into the digital Omega Point, but I feel rather sure OB began by addressing someone’s claim in general and abstract terms, with her critics making it personal and judgmental in due course.

    They haven’t. You can still access the blog by typing the URL. If you do so you’ll find out that you’re mistaken.

    Since when does the validity of a point depend on the discomfort of the point-maker?

    Oh FFS, you brought up OB’s pain as a means to explain and excuse her behaviour, while passing judgement on other people’s tone.

    A blog-level blowup may agitate hundreds of people, but it’s a flea on an elephant compared to the actual violence of literal trans-bashing or the systemic insult of bathroom bills, etc.

    Which are massively pushed by people like Ophelia Benson. Oh no, she would probably never write that, just quote and link approvingly to the very people who work on that.

    The part visible at FTB seemed about that fast.

    No, Pierce, the visible to you part came fast. The discussions had been going on for a long time.

    I recall you as speaking up for fairness, not for charity.

    Wrong. PZ explicitly defended OB. As he said, he alienated quite some other people over this.

    The “minor hyperbole” I meant, in my # 57, was Giliell’s characterization of the “Bad beginning…” spiel you quoted in the OP as “raging” transphobia. T-phobic, yes; biased and fallacious, indeed; but at least by 1/6/2019 standards not quite “raging”.

    Who died and made you Emperor of the Words? Who passed you the holy sceptre of objectively measuring “raging”?

    DavidinOz

    I wonder how many here have read the entire post and how many have just piled on to be part of “team trans”?

    I have, and it only gets worse. Seriously, pretending that “trans people are worthy of our love and respect” means “we have to love all of them unconditionally” is like claiming “Black Lives Matter” means other lives don’t.

    I wonder why PZ felt the need to make a post about this? Was it to encourage another pitchfork march on OB?

    Nobody’s marching. And just for your information, it’s not as if OB and her commenters are particularly shy to discuss other people they disagree with over at B&W, and not in the nicest of terms as yours truly can attest.

    And why is it only the men who have transitioned to female that need to shout and not the women have have transitioned to male? Is it because those who have grown up male still think it’s all about them? I think so.

    The erasure of trans men is something frequently done by transphobes, not by us. Because since “autogynophilia”* is an acceptable explanation (while being complete bullshit) to many transphobes, they kind of need to gloss over trans men because it#s difficult to come up with a completely different explanation for them. And I don’t recall anybody “shouting”, neither trans women, nor cis women.
    *AKA the horrible perverted fetish of women feeling sexy and liking to touch their own body.

    Why is it always men invading women’s spaces, demanding equal treatment with women? Where are the transgender men demanding to be selected for men’s sporting teams? Demanding to be treated as men and given all the privileges that go with it? Where are the transgender women on the cover of Time? Being honoured as Man of the Year? Nowhere, because they are still as invisible as most other women, because they didn’t learn to be arrogant, shouty, entitled areshles as children.

    Why was my Lesbian daughter asked to step down from her Lesbian committee role so a trans bloke could get a seat?

    Wow, fuck, David, that’s some serious transphobia there, complete with the constant misgendering of trans women as men and blokes and putting trans men in with “other women”. Apparently fuelled by personal grievances. Of course, if you don’t see any trans men, maybe it’s because you’re not looking. While I agree there are few prominent ones, maybe that has also something to do with the fetishisation of trans women, an obsession with their genitals and the good misogynist disbelief that somebody who is considered superior could give up all of that to become a member of the most marginalised.

    CD

    When I first met PZ in person several years ago, he was a schlubby guy with the brain of a midwestern college professor. Now I expect he’s a schlubby guy with the brain of a midwestern college professor. He was never a hero. He was never “mighty”. He was a guy. Who talked. Like humans are known to do.

    Well, he did pay for my supper that one time we met…

    patrick 2

    I was born male, which is why I call myself a man (in the sense that I am an adult male human). But I have no internal sense of being male, nor of being female, and I have no idea what such an internal sense is supposed to be.

    So, if tomorrow you woke up with a nice C-cup, ovaries, a uterus and a vagina, you’d be just OK after adjusting to the hassle with the periods?
    Cool…

  108. says

    #100:

    When I first met PZ in person several years ago, he was a schlubby guy with the brain of a midwestern college professor. Now I expect he’s a schlubby guy with the brain of a midwestern college professor. He was never a hero. He was never “mighty”. He was a guy. Who talked. Like humans are known to do.

    It’s like you know me. You really know me.

  109. doubtthat says

    @103 patrick2

    And what is “gender identity”? I have never found a clear explanation of what gender identity means. Most explanations simply say that it refers to some kind of internal sense of whether one is male, female or neither. But what this internal sense actually is or what it relates to is always left extremely vague.

    See, this is what I was trying to get at a million comments ago. To the extent this is legitimate curiosity and not just the tired sort of trans-trolling we’ve dealt with for 25 years, I agree – I too don’t really “understand” what that means.
    Folks have tried to explain, there are better and worse efforts, but there is really no way to do it without pointing at superficial sorts of things – how a person presents, how others treat them…etc., but when I read/listen to trans folks discuss their feelings, they do express a level of discomfort in their own bodies that I simply cannot “understand.”
    But so the fuck what?
    I think what’s going on is something like the problem of the qualia – the impossibility of communicating certain internal experiences to others. To use a common example, try to explain the sensation of seeing the color red to a hypothetical person who can only see in black and white.
    It’s a thought experiment (a practice made filthy and borderline worthless by Sam Harris), but actually try to do it. Explain the sensation of seeing the color red. To the extent that I “understand” what trans folks are talking about, I think it must be something like that. It may be fundamentally impossible to communicate to someone who hasn’t had the experience.
    But the bottom line is that my and your understanding is utterly irrelevant, and our lack of understanding does not mean all trans people are giant liars.

  110. says

    When talking about gender identity, I think it’s important to recognise that some people have this “gender identity, what’s that supposed to mean” question that has something to do with fish and water: They never felt uncomfortable in theirs, they never had theirs challenged so they cannot understand what the fuss is all about.
    And then there’s people who go “meh” on the gender identity question because they really have no strong feelings about it. And some people feel strongly about their gender identity, for reasons.This has nothing to do with cis or trans or non-binary, but is simply another variable in the mass of human traits.

  111. anat says

    To DavininOz, @98:

    FYI in Washington state the legal situation for several years now has been that people use the gender-specific space that matches their identity, and any individual that is unhappy with others being in said space can be provided with extra privacy for themselves. Entering a gender specific space on false pretenses remains illegal. Sexual assault of all kinds remains illegal (of course). The sky hasn’t fallen, it hasn’t caused any problems (except for anti-trans people breaking the law as a provocation), and while some activists (originally an anti marriage equality group that got repurposed) tried to overturn this legal situation by ballot initiative they have twice failed to gather sufficient signatures, and last election they didn’t even try. This legal situation does exactly what you want, doesn’t it? Promoting equality for transgender people without diminishing anyone else’s rights.

  112. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ichthyic @ # 107 – For an example of (it seems) emotionally biased recall, pls consider Tom Foss’s # 68, alluding to “her Super Secret Gender Critical Facebook Group”. Thanks to Giliell’s tip @ # 116, I found a 8/5/15 post in which OB named that group, described it as open, and provided a link.

    I mention this not to attack Foss or his credibility, but as an example of universal human need to check and re-check facts whenever possible.

  113. Pierce R. Butler says

    A. Noyd @ # 112: The “simmer” was just a “simmer” for you.

    From the start (in this thread), I’ve taken an FTB-centric focus on l’affaire Benson. If others see it through a different lens, more power to ’em – but my goalposts have stayed put.

  114. Pierce R. Butler says

    Meg Thornton @ # 114: Basically, according to radfems, women are poor, weak, insignificant little beings who cannot handle the stress and corruption of being involved in public life, and who need to be protected

    An interesting assertion, in that it supports my opinion that those who call TEFs “TERFS” seem to have chosen to echo Rush Limbaugh and his ilk in never using the word “feminist” without prefixing “radical” to it. I had thought this started as just a way to add a little rhetorical punch and got perpetuated by laziness &/or taking shortcuts on the route to making other points, but you’ve made me need to reconsider whether an element of flat-out anti-feminism has worked itself into some parts of transgender discourse (besides yr # 114, that is).

  115. Pierce R. Butler says

    Giliell @ # 116: You can still access the blog by typing the URL.

    Thanks (really!) for a surprising and useful tip.

    …you’ll find out that you’re mistaken.

    I found a variety of things I’d forgotten, and plan to go back for more. It makes me feel a sort of nostalgia, w/ heavy emphasis on the “-algia”.

    But, sfaict, it doesn’t restore the broad swathes of commentary which OB deleted in the throes of verbal combat – the parts most relevant to establishing my point of an intolerant pile-on.

    … you brought up OB’s pain as a means to explain and excuse her behaviour…

    I intended that as a (partial) explanation, not as an excuse – the same way I consider transfolks’ pain as a factor in their discourse: something very real and significant, but not in itself a validation of accusations regarding factual events which require evidence. In Benson’s case, I deduced pain as a reason for her abandoning her usual cool and thoughtful mode: it does not excuse or affirm anything she said or did, but it does help to account for them (and, alas, implies a lack of empathy and a schadenfreude among some of her opponents).

    … [the actual violence of literal trans-bashing] … massively pushed by people like Ophelia Benson. … she would probably never write that…

    Or, she – at that time – was trying to find a conceptual standpoint not on either side, at a time when the debate went dichotomous and left no such space. By now she has chosen a side, and I think we’d agree the wrong one; but 3-4 years ago, when trans issues were relatively new to mainstream/feminist discourse, it may have seemed to her possible to pal around with advocates on both sides of the (then fuzzier) line.

    PZ explicitly defended OB.

    Yes – as a person, and as a blogger with the right to explore questions in her own way. What, f’rinstance, do you find to critique in this?

    Who passed you the holy sceptre of objectively measuring “raging”?

    Lexicographers as a whole seem to have surrendered on defining words and retreated to simply cataloging usages. My closest-to-hand dictionary lists “violent, uncontrollable anger” as the first meaning of “rage”; if you wish to classify any/every form of criticism or disagreement under that rubric, I have no authority to stop you. But then, who can en-dungeon me for calling that “minor hyperbole” – or using it as an example of how the desire for vivid wording tends to escalate online argumentation?

  116. says

    Pierce

    Yes – as a person, and as a blogger with the right to explore questions in her own way. What, f’rinstance, do you find to critique in this?

    There#s like 10 comments of mine under that post. It’s surely possible for you to decipher my opinion based on them?
    As for the “pile up”, yes, several people wrote about Ophelia Benson, and I know that’s not a nice thing*, yet she also wrote a lot of really nasty posts about a great many people, called them names, posted private conversations, doxxed people. Should all these people just have been quiet? Were they not allowed to say their opinion (and since I went back to those posts, very often in very mild terms)?
    As for “intolerant”: well, yes, people tend not to have a lot of tolerance for bigots. Or do you still claim she is not bigoted against trans people?

    *I actually scrolled through many of those threads, refreshing my memory as well. First of all, I seem to have left B&W much earlier then I remember. Second of all, I found several instances where her commenters shat all over me, smeared and strawmanned me, yet that was perfectly acceptable behaviour, encouraged by the blog host, who did not seem to be terribly upset by this.
    Actually, I’m not interested in carrying this on for much longer. 2015 is so four years ago and I fail to see how the minutes of those days are highly relevant to the transphobia and trans antagonism displayed nowadays except in the “I told you so” sense.

  117. says

    @Pierce R Butler:

    <

    blockquote>
    And yet, here’s her comment from just a day before, saying “Dammit. I’ve been ratted out, and dragged this group into it. Sorry. Y’all have spies.” And that’s after weeks of calling people creepy, slimepitters, “disgusting,” and the like for being aware of what comments she’s marked approvingly on Facebook. Faulty memory is one thing, cherry-picking is another.

    An interesting assertion, in that it supports my opinion that those who call TEFs “TERFS” seem to have chosen to echo Rush Limbaugh and his ilk in never using the word “feminist” without prefixing “radical” to it. I had thought this started as just a way to add a little rhetorical punch and got perpetuated by laziness &/or taking shortcuts on the route to making other points, but you’ve made me need to reconsider whether an element of flat-out anti-feminism has worked itself into some parts of transgender discourse

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

    Look, “radical feminism” is a pre-existing thing, and there are people here better equipped to explain it. As it’s been explained to me, one of the more common radical feminist platforms is the abolition of gender as a concept, and views gender as an oppressive system developed by the patriarchy. As a result, significant portions of radical feminists opposed rights and recognition for trans people, because trans people’s existence implies a level of reality to gender that they deny. The term “TERF” was coined by cis feminists to describe the trans-exclusionary wing of radical feminism and to distinguish it from more intersectional radfems. As transphobia has become more common and pronounced, the term’s usage has gotten well past the original meaning; I suspect it’s a combination of applying the label to TERF talking points, rather than just individuals (such that people repeating those talking points were called TERFs even if they weren’t radfems) and people’s ignorance of what exactly “radical feminism” entails. I suspect the traditional radfems would find little common ground with the “sacred feminine” types, but there are strains of transphobia running through both groups.

    It’s part of why there’s been a push to distinguish between actual true-to-the-definition TERFs, who exclude trans people out of a desire to dismantle gender as a construct (or at least, that’s the proffered justification), transphobes who couch their transphobia in feminist positions but don’t necessarily call for the abolition of gender (like a certain UK comedy writer I could name), transphobes who adopt a feminist stance as a cover for their regressive agenda (like Hands Across the Aisle and other anti-trans groups with evangelical ties) and other assorted transphobes (alt-righters and the like). But the gate’s open already, and I suspect there’ll be as much chance of putting the livestock back in place for “TERF” as there is for “literally” or “nauseous.”

    Oh, or it could be a Rush Limbaugh conspiracy because all trans people and allies are secret misogynists trying to destroy feminism.

  118. Charlotte Benton says

    One of these “gender critical” posters has to be Franc Hoggle taking the piss, surely? I reckon it’s a toss up between “MrFancyPants” and “DavidInOz”.

  119. Pierce R. Butler says

    Giliell @ # 126: There#s like 10 comments of mine under that post.

    Okay, I skipped the comments at first, but now I think you’ve made yourself clear.

    … yet she also wrote a lot of really nasty posts about a great many people, … Should all these people just have been quiet?

    No, but the abuse went both ways. As old-time Pharyngulites, we both know how that works – and how rarely it ameliorates or reaches a satisfactory ending. As we see how things have shaken out … you were quite right @ # 54:

    Nobody here is happy about this outcome.

    … do you still claim she is not bigoted against trans people?

    Sometimes I get the impression that she holds most of her animus against trans ideas, but will concede that brings small comfort to those defining themselves by those concepts.

    … I’m not interested in carrying this on for much longer.

    Another point of agreement between us.

  120. Pierce R. Butler says

    Tom Foss @ # 127: Faulty memory is one thing, cherry-picking is another.

    I hope you can believe me when I say I did not review all of OB’s relevant ouevre to select potential self-exonerations – just as I doubt you pored over all the anti-OB comments to find those justified by later developments.

    The term “TERF” was coined by cis feminists …

    Thanks for the history lesson! Most of my exposure to “radical feminists” has involved feminists working within the more general “radical” movement – it looks like the terminology took a flying leap while I was looking elsewhere.

  121. says

    How come I haven’t seen any acknowledgement of Allison’s post at #92? I think that’s something all of us cis people commenting here should acknowledge.

    Also, I would like to point out that the thing gmcard is claiming Natalie Reed said severely lacks context. She was making a joke in a Twitter thread that was obviously meant to be a joke (and further, her joke was more at the expense of straight men than lesbians). The context makes it very obviously a joke, and the cis lesbian she was replying to also recognized it as a joke. She does not, in any sense, believe that lesbians should “get used to dick”.

    Anyways…

  122. vucodlak says

    @ Nathan, #131

    I haven’t responded because I’m not sure what to say. I don’t even know if Allison’s post refers to anything I’ve said, as I’ve generally tried to avoid arguing over the existence of (or evidence for) trans people because I understand (I think) what Allison is saying about the surreality of doing so. This is why I generally go on the offensive against transphobes and take apart their fearmongering arguments, rather than trying to debate the reality of someone’s lived experiences or existence. It isn’t my place to tell people who or what they are. It is my place to stand up to bullies and bigots.

    So I don’t think I have done what Allison was referring to, but if I have: I am sorry for having done so, and I will endeavor to avoid doing so in future.

  123. John Morales says

    Nathan @131:

    How come I haven’t seen any acknowledgement of Allison’s post at #92? I think that’s something all of us cis people commenting here should acknowledge.

    I venture to say it’s because that you haven’t read the immediately succeeding comment @93:

    @92 Allison

    Thank you so much for that.

    That’s an acknowledgement if I’ve ever seen one. Which means you are wrong.

    BTW, I’m also cisgendered, and I’ve felt no such obligation towards acknowledgement.

    (Why you do so and why you think it should be normative is left to conjecture)

    vucodlak @132, sheesh. Grovelling does not become you, especially when it’s pointless.

    (Also, at least in my estimation, it weakens any real apologies you might henceforth issue)

    It is my place to stand up to bullies and bigots.

    At least you speak for yourself, rather than co-opting others like Nathan. So there’s that.

  124. vucodlak says

    @ John Morales, #133

    Who is groveling? If you doubt my sincerity, then again I must say what I said upthread: get in line.

    I do not know sincerity. It isn’t in me, and I cannot recognize it. My apology is genuine, but I don’t know what makes people believe in other people. I do know that strangers seldom believe in me, because most the time my face is as impassive as a serpent’s, and my voice is every bit as full of emptiness. I suppose my words will always be called hollow.

    I do not know if, in this instance, I have caused any harm. I do try not to, but I don’t always recognize when I have harmed another. So I apologize. Maybe it’s unnecessary, maybe I have done no harm here, but I know myself. I don’t want to be all that I could be. I am not groveling, I do not abase myself. I am merely being honest. I regret any harm I may have unintentionally caused, and I wish to avoid causing further harm.

    You say the apology isn’t “real.” Maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t really understand what it is to be sorry and I’m just a monster playing human, clinging to a delusion. Maybe the only genuine thing about me is my capacity for destruction. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

  125. Sophie Jane says

    @John Morales I’m also cisgendered, and I’ve felt no such obligation towards acknowledgement. (Why you do so and why you think it should be normative is left to conjecture)

    Because you’re all arguing about trans people’s lives – our lives – and refusal to acknowledge it suggests a certain arrogance?

  126. A. Noyd says

    Pierce R. Butler (#123)

    From the start (in this thread), I’ve taken an FTB-centric focus on l’affaire Benson. If others see it through a different lens, more power to ’em – but my goalposts have stayed put.

    Nah, dude. You started here by saying how you “feel [Benson’s] critics turned into a tribalist mob so quickly that no chances for constructive dialog existed.” You’re determined to have “perceived a self-reinforcing mob whip itself into a heresy-hunting hysteria.”

    The trouble is, as people are trying to tell you, there actually were chances for constructive dialogue. In fact, not only did those chances exist, they were taken. Dialogue happened. It happened for years before the event you’d like to focus your lens on. (Whether or not it was constructive is beside the point; if you have the time for fruitless dialogue, you have the time for constructive dialogue.)

    Instead of just admitting your portrayal of Benson’s “critics” is wrong, you’ve dismissed its disproof as “relevant context” (without actually applying it as such, mind) and chosen to act like the people arguing with you are talking about the literal time of particular events rather than the relative importance of those events in the timeline of the development of Benson’s transphobia.

    Sorry, but your “intolerant pile-on” is a figment of your intellectual dishonesty.

  127. John Morales says

    Sophie Jane:

    Because you’re all arguing about trans people’s lives – our lives – and refusal to acknowledge it suggests a certain arrogance?

    What? Allison succinctly made a point, the very next comment acknowledged it.

    Also, there is no such refusal at hand, and I’m pretty damn sure Allison isn’t stressing because I and other cis readers didn’t subsequently chime in to acknowledge the comment.

    vucodlak, I wasn’t accusing you of insincerity. And perhaps I was a bit nasty about expressing myself. Sorry.

    I do not know if, in this instance, I have caused any harm. I do try not to, but I don’t always recognize when I have harmed another. So I apologize.

    I quote: “Frankly, for a trans person, there’s something surreal and erasing in seeing cis people feuding with cis people over whether we exist.”

    A pretty clear statement, but the alternative is for cis people accept trans people to not feud with those who don’t. I think that would be a worse outcome. I’ve personally vigorously argued with those who attempt to deny trans people’s existence, and I feel no need to apologise for that. I know you have done the same, yet you felt the need — just in case.

    It’s just a feeling I get that I shouldn’t be treating trans people like they’re especially fragile and delicate. And it feels to me that people like you and Nathan are walking on eggshells, always worried about maybe giving offence, and overcompensate.

  128. says

    Pierce

    Sometimes I get the impression that she holds most of her animus against trans ideas, but will concede that brings small comfort to those defining themselves by those concepts.

    Yeah, that’s like the distinction without a differenciest thing I’ve seen in a while.
    I mean, what does that even mean? What “trans ideas” can one oppose without directly affecting trans people, especially trans women? I mean, current “hot topics” in the seven circles of transphobic hell are “cis is a slur” (on Twitter there’s a massive campaign to get trans people banned for using the term. And “I was a tomboy and got over it, therefore kids are not trans”, something OB has written favourably about.

  129. Pierce R. Butler says

    A. Noyd @ # 136: Dialogue happened.

    So did overreaction.

    If you want to look at all this as “the glorious forces of truth ‘n’ righteousness overcame the evil incarnation of wrongness” – well, that’s how a lot of people saw it at the time.

    As the mere suggestion that the winning faction may have gone a bit too far seems, still, to provoke (ahem) rage among various vocal veterans of that titanic struggle, I’ll let those insults and attacks speak for themselves as evidence of disproportionate response.

  130. Pierce R. Butler says

    Giliell @ # 138: … the distinction without a differenciest thing I’ve seen in a while.

    So when, say, Christians take any criticism of their cherished doctrines as a personal assault, you’ll stand with them against the blasphemers? If you support, e.g., equal rights for African-Americans, must you stay silent at the silliest extremes of Afrocentricism?

    What “trans ideas” can one oppose without directly affecting trans people, especially trans women?

    A trans friend of mine attributes her status to a quirk of reincarnation. I think I managed not to roll my eyes at the time…

    Plowing through some of the archives you revealed to me, I have yet to see attacks on trans_ individuals, or (so far) even generalized accusations of delusion or other standard transphobic fodder.* (I did spot a “I apologize for accidentally using the wrong pronoun for you.” That same thread also contains specifics about that doxxing allegation – in which OB acknowledges having done so accidentally by re-posting a screen cap from F’book.)

    I did, btw, find this (not by Benson, but apparently endorsed by her in the form of making it a guest post):

    Ophelia has been entirely honest – she acknowledges that if a person says she’s a woman, then she is a woman. And she also says we need to discuss what is meant by that word ‘woman’; not because of individual women, but because of how wider society treats people that find themselves in that artificial class of ‘womanhood’.

    The author, btw, identifies as transgender.

    I’ll have to continue digging to find the (unlinked) assertion cited.

    I rehash all this only to point out that lots of the ambiguities disregarded 3.5 years ago continue to be ignored today.

    *Pls note, I do not claim she has not written such things since.

  131. says

    Sorry, Pierce, this discussion is going nowhere. You move the goalposts faster than the Doctor the TARDIS, apparently because your need to have been right clouds both your vision of the past and the present.

  132. Allison says

    I’m pretty damn sure Allison isn’t stressing because I and other cis readers didn’t subsequently chime in to acknowledge the comment.

    Correct. However:

    but the alternative is for cis people [who?] accept trans people to not feud with those who don’t.

    Well, that is one alternative. Another is to keep in mind that this is a “discussion” about real people. For me, questions like “are trans women women” aren’t about definitions. They’re really about whether the society I live in will grant me and people like me the same respect that they would grant cis women, and whether I can go to the bathroom in peace, and whether or not legislators will pass laws to try and make my existence (and my friends’ existence) untenable and illegal.

    For me, the issue isn’t whether OB (or any other transphobe) is being illogical or irrational. It’s about their bigotry and hate-mongering. The “arguments” are so much word-salad decorating and obfuscating the core of what they’re about, which is hate and, ultimately, the extermination of people who don’t fit into their world-view. (Cf.: “the pyramid of hate”; see also Siobhan’s post on the subject)

    What I find a little disappointing about the OP is that PZ seems more concerned about OB’s irrationality than about her humanity. (I’m thinking of Hannah Gadsby’s comment, “they’re so worried about his reputation. What about his humanity.)

  133. Allison says

    I realize my previous post didn’t make clear: I wish people would focus more on OB’s inhumanity.

    All this stuff about “mobs” and “you hurt OB’s feelings” and stuff is irrelevant. People don’t decide to devote that much energy to hate just because some commenters (who are mostly not even in the group she hates) have verbally abused them. People hate because they have a deep-seated need to hate, and I have the impression that who or what they hate or why they hate them isn’t as important as whether they can come up with excuses for their hatred that make them feel justified.

    And people who continue to make excuses for the haters are at the very least people who, deep down, don’t have a problem with that hate, and IMHO may well be closeted haters themselves.

  134. says

    @143, Allison

    Pretty sure the defenders of hate in this thread at least have been outspoken and clear about their transphobia (with the possible exception of ‘Aziraphale’ who soft-pedalled it here but has been eye-wateringly transphobic in other threads).

    With one exception: Pierce isn’t a hater. He’s just always insufferably certain of his infallibility.

  135. John Morales says

    Allison, re “[who?]”, yes. You read me aright. Late night comment, careless editing.

    Well, that is one alternative. Another is to keep in mind that this is a “discussion” about real people.

    But that’t not an alternative. I can do that and still feud with those people, but I cannot not feud and still feud. It’s an unfortunate side-effect.

    Anyway. My focus has always been to acknowledge that you exist, not whether your existence is justified. The real phobics are the ones who can’t even manage to acknowledge as much, and I taunt them for it. Reality trumps idea, after all.

    Perhaps a more optimistic perspective would be to consider that TERFdom as a reactionary stance; implicitly, they’re acknowledging that you exist by their very activism against such acceptance within society at large as exists, despite their ostensible incredulity.

  136. says

    @Allison, #143:

    All this stuff about “mobs” and “you hurt OB’s feelings” and stuff is irrelevant. People don’t decide to devote that much energy to hate just because some commenters (who are mostly not even in the group she hates) have verbally abused them.

    Yes, exactly this. I’ve seen a lot of these “look what you SJWs made me do” bigots, and it’s always the same. They (or their defenders) say they were forced or otherwise cajoled into their bigotry as a reaction to people being mean and just not accepting their confusion, or not letting them figure things out on their own, or not handling them with soft enough kid gloves, or in the case of OB specifically, not overlooking their increasingly common trans-antagonistic comments, cartoons, posts, and Facebook threads over the course of a couple of years or allowing her to maintain the air of fuzzy plausible deniability she cultivated. It’s bullshit, transparently and utterly, blaming the victims of bigotry for the existence of that bigotry.

    If all it takes for you to go full bigot is someone from a marginalized group or one of their allies being insufficiently deferent in their rebuttal to your bigoted claims and arguments, then, surprise, the bigotry was inside you all along.

  137. Pierce R. Butler says

    abbeycadabra @ # 144: Pierce isn’t a hater. He’s just always insufferably certain of his infallibility.

    Thanks, sorta.

    Of course, all those who disregard the specifics of my comments to deride my personal failings (ah, if only they knew!) embody the acme of open-mindedness. I leave you in their benign company with only the tiniest of qualms, secure that only, maybe, Giliell would invite you to freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ to endanger your soul and sanity by reviewing the (less vitriolic parts of) the battlefield for yourself.

  138. DavidinOz says

    Some questions cannot be asked, some lines of enquiry must remain closed, dissent cannot be brooked.

    Meanwhile, as you are dancing around, women are still be marginalised and oppressed. It seems that James Damore has taken over UN Women with this statement “Feminist = a person who believes in & stands up for the political, economic, and social equality of human beings.”

    All lives matter.

    Feminism is unfair to men.

    Random impertinent questions:

    Is Kaitlyn Jenner a woman?

    Is Nkechi Amare Diallo African American?

    Is Elizabeth Warren Cherokee?

    Is a man who walks out on a date when he finds she has a penis a transphobe?

    Is Kerryn Pholi Aboriginal?

    Should Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun be returned to the loving embrace of her family?

  139. says

    MRA and other racist dog whistles are not really the sort of thing that makes you credible in your purported desire for ‘dialogue’, everything else on that list less so.

  140. John Morales says

    DavidinOz, apparently it is not obvious to you that questions that can’t be asked perforce must not have been asked?

  141. vucodlak says

    @ DavidinOz, #149

    Some questions cannot be asked, some lines of enquiry must remain closed, dissent cannot be brooked.

    We argue over shit here all the time, but if you’re going to engage in racism, transphobia, and general fuck-wittery then you’re going to be mocked, insulted, and thoroughly rebutted. Maybe not in that order.

    All lives matter.

    This is douchebaggery racism because it’s an intentionally dismissive response to “Black Lives Matter” in a culture that doesn’t value black lives… which also makes it false.

    Feminism is unfair to men.

    I’ve yet to see anyone here make that claim in this thread, and it’s rare claim to find on FTB at all, as anyone making an equivalent statement is thoroughly told off by the commentariet (which is as it should be).

    Is Kaitlyn Jenner a woman?

    Yes. Golly, that was easy.

    Is Elizabeth Warren Cherokee?

    No, and she never claimed to be. All she claimed was that her family’s lore said she had a Cherokee ancestor. The DNA test was a poor decision, but that’s a topic for a different thread.

    Is a man who walks out on a date when he finds she has a penis a transphobe?

    The provided scenario doesn’t provide sufficient information to make a determination.

  142. says

    @DisingenuousinOz, #149

    Is a man who walks out on a date when he finds she has a penis a transphobe?

    That kind of depends entirely on how he reacts, doesn’t it?
    “What? You’re not a woman! You’re a man!” etc. = Transphobe
    “Oh neat, so do I.” = Not a transphobe
    “Oh wow, I’ve always kind of wanted one.” = Not a transphobe

    What about “Oh, thanks for letting me know. I’m not into that, but I really like you otherwise. Maybe we can still be friends.”? It might make him a jerk—just as if he’d responded like that to “I don’t shave my legs” or “I have a really large birthmark on my back” or “I had a double mastectomy” or “I have MRKH/Vaginismus/Vaginal stenosis, so I’m not able to have traditional vaginal intercourse like most of your other sex partners probably would”—but probably not a transphobe.

    This is such a telling goddamn transphobe argument, especially as so many of them play it like a trump card. It doesn’t actually make a point, it just relies on toxic masculinity/heteronormativity and biological essentialism to try to provoke a visceral reaction in the audience. “Ugh,” they hope the audience thinks, “I’m as liberal as the next person, but a straight guy would never date someone with a penis, that’d be gay.” It relies on the very bigotry it’s trying to support. Not to mention the typical “trans women want to trick people into bed with them,” as though being alone with a transphobe weren’t the leading cause of trans women’s ludicrously high rate of being murdered.

    People are allowed to have anatomical preferences and arbitrary attractions. You can decline to sleep with someone because of their hair color or skin color or height or body shape or genital configuration or whatever, and there are definitely bigoted ways of voicing and acting on those preferences, but just having the preference isn’t, in and of itself, bigoted.

    You, on the other hand? Definitely a bigot.

  143. says

    @DavidInOz:

    Some questions cannot be asked, some lines of enquiry must remain closed, dissent cannot be brooked.

    Do you ever ask yourself if raping Qzznfzezzs from the Free Federation of Tlflcuww Space Stations can ever give consent to anything, given the interaction between their organic minds and inorganic information processing circuits that receive programming rather than learning?

    Would you close off inquiry into whether 5 year olds or 6 year olds scream louder when you dismember their parents alive while they are forced to watch?

    Would you “brook” the dissent of someone standing in your living room calling you a murderer without evidence (save, perhaps, the dismembered parents in the above hypothetical, depending on your answer)?

    Everyone has limits. We speak up against what we find objectionable. This you might call “not brooking dissent”, but others would call it attempting to push our society towards an ever more ethical state, given our own best understandings of ethics. Yet none of us here advocate imprisonment for disagreement. When people speak objectionably, many of here speak up in opposition. Yet how is this different from OB, who speaks in opposition to what she finds objectionable.

    Your statement here is repulsive in that it values in yourself and your perceived allies what it devalues in others. Set your limits differently than we set ours and we can have a conversation about why you think yours are better and what the consequences might be of more people adopting your position.

    However, your position is simply that limits at all are the province of the intolerant – not to say evil. Yours is the voice that would have antifa be made equivalent to the KKK and the neo-Nazis and the alt-right.

    If you truly had a position worth discussing, you wouldn’t bash the very notion of someone who “cannot brook” dissent where this inability to brook is evidenced only by words of dissent from your own position.

    It is not mere hypocrisy in your statements that I find objectionable, but the towering arrogance of your ignorance that cannot help but visibly impress all those who recognize this statement as the plain evidence of your inability to interrogate yourself that it is.

  144. DavidinOz says

    vucodlak @ 152

    Next time I’ll get out the crayons and draw you a fucking diagramme.

    I was drawing a direct line from feminism is about all people to the all lives matter and feminism is unfair to men lines. But never let a chance to pile on go missing, eh?

    Is Nkechi Amare Diallo African American?

    Is Kerryn Pholi Aboriginal?

    Should Hannah Mouncey be permitted to play women’s AFL?

  145. says

    Separately:

    Is a man who walks out on a date when he finds she has a penis a transphobe?

    You know what I just love, in the sense of ironically finding something annoying as Freud? When the defenders of 2nd wave feminism from the evils of trans* advocacy fall back on exactly this argument.

    What, after all, is the interlocutor’s purpose in asking this question – setting aside for the moment that DavidInOz does not appear to notice the difference between “when” and “because”?

    The rhetorical aggressor here is attempting to trap people who think ill of those straight men who might walk out in the middle of a date.

    Look!

    they cry.

    Some men just like sticking things in vaginas. Some men simply believe that there is literally no reason to spend time with one or more women at all unless it is to stick things in vaginas!

    Yes. And?

    Well, you’re calling these straight men bigoted jerks, when instead of being anti-trans* they might instead be men who simply believe that women are worthless wastes of time unless they are getting something shoved into their vaginas right this very moment. I mean, what’s the point of being at a restaurant with a woman if not to stick something in her vagina? What’s the point of being in a movie theater with a woman if not to stick something in her vagina? Even if you’re at a coffee shop with a woman for only 15 minutes, what could you possibly get at a coffee shop other than an opportunity to shove something in a vagina?!?!?

    So what you’re saying is that there’s an equally plausible interpretation for their behavior that is in no way anti-trans.

    Yes.

    And that interpretation is that they believe women are nothing more than sex holes.

    Yes! Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. What, you expect a man to have pleasant conversation with a woman or enjoy sharing some spring rolls with a woman while there is no vaginal penetration occurring whatsoever? That’s ludicrous! Some men can’t just eat food with a woman. They have to shove something in their vagina. It’s how they are. Let’s not be critical of that just because it makes a transwoman feel bad.

    And so, given the existence of these people who think of women as nothing more than sex holes, we should not so easily conclude they are anti-trans?

    Exactly.

    Because reducing people to genitalia is not an inherently anti-trans action. It’s just a normal thing to do for straight guys.

    You’ve got it now.

    And so we should refrain from labeling these men who think of woman as nothing but sex holes. We should consider it at the very least intellectually overstating the evidence and at most an unjust characterization were we ever to label such straight men “bigots”.

    Yes. As gender critical feminists, we must never label straight men bigots for walking out on a date with a trans* woman. Such slurs are simply unjustified since we can never rule out the possibility that the straight men you are victimizing might not have any specific hate on for trans people, but rather a general conception that an insertion-welcoming vagina is the only worthwhile thing a woman has to offer. Our ethics demand that we point out that this is not bigotry.

    That’s quite an interesting feminism you’ve got there.

    Thank you. We’ve worked very hard on it to preserve it from the intellectual laziness of those who would use the platform of feminism to raise up the argument that straight men might be showing in their behavior the results of some form of bigoted thinking when they walk out on dates.

    Well, you won’t mind if I separate myself from your feminism, will you?

    Of course not. We don’t want your kind involved in our feminism. You’ve proved by your outraged response to our reasoned arguments that you cannot brook dissent.

    Quite.

  146. says

    @Tom Foss:

    <

    blockquote>You can decline to sleep with someone because of …

    <

    blockquote>

    It’s not about declining to sleep with someone. No trans advocate has ever made the argument that someone is morally obligated to fuck someone just because they went on a date. It’s about whether you get up in the middle of a date and walk out for the sole reason that you’re not under the impression that you’re going to be able to shove something in a vagina as a result of this relationship. It’s the getting up in the middle of the date and walking out – as if there’s no other aspect of the evening that might be enjoyed – that shows bigotry.

    Sexual tastes are sexual tastes. There are certainly people who argue that sexual tastes are impacted by public prejudices. Some have also argued that a large enough number of people willing to work with, do activism with, create art with, and even room with trans folks, yet not willing to fuck trans folks, should be taken as evidence that anti-trans prejudices are persisting in communities whose members like to believe that they’ve gotten past them. Some have held workshops trying to explore what prejudices still exist, and why, and what fears non-trans people might have that might short-circuit sexual attraction. But no one, no one ever, has argued that not fucking is the problem. No one ever has argued that there should be some community veto over someone’s denial of consent.

    Walking out in the middle of the date because you can’t enjoy your french fries when you’re so focussed on the revelation that you aren’t going to be able to stick anything in anyone’s vagina after dinner is very different than merely declining to have sex.

  147. says

    @Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden, #157:

    It’s about whether you get up in the middle of a date and walk out for the sole reason that you’re not under the impression that you’re going to be able to shove something in a vagina as a result of this relationship. It’s the getting up in the middle of the date and walking out – as if there’s no other aspect of the evening that might be enjoyed – that shows bigotry.

    Thanks, I honestly am not sure how I misread DavidinOz’s comment, but I somehow missed the bit about walking out on the date, and that (clearly) informed my response.

  148. vucodlak says

    @ DavidinOz, #155

    diagramme

    I am afraid the only real spelling of the word is “diagram.” There is no “e” in “diagram,” and there can only be but one “m,” else it becomes something entirely different. “Diagramme” could scarcely be called a word at all, and it certainly doesn’t deserve equal footing with actual words. I mean, if we just start adding letters to words (this must surely be a new phenomenon, because no one I know would spell “diagram” in such a strange and upsetting manner) then where does that leave us? How would that make the real words feel? The whole concept of language will be invalidated!

    It’s true that some people would say that the spelling “diagramme” is acceptable, but I’m under no obligation to cater to their delusions. There is but one true spelling for “diagram,” which coincidently happens to be the one I’m most comfortable with. It has always been so, because… um… science. Yeah, that’s it: science tells us that there’s no “e” and only one “m.”

    Therefore, your argument is invalid.

    I was drawing a direct line from feminism is about all people to the all lives matter and feminism is unfair to men lines.

    Yes, I know what you were trying to do. You were climbing up on your cross; I was flipping you the bird. Now you’ve got your dander up, and I’ve done it again.

    Don’t get me wrong: I take bigots and their bigotry seriously, and that’s I’m talking to you at all. I’m not going to let your garbage go unchallenged, but I’m also not going to pretend to believe you’re making these comparisons or asking these questions in good faith. I might be willing to grant a measure of trust to some people, but someone who makes their introduction with tone-trolling and loaded questions like you did doesn’t get that benefit.

    I would say “I am disappointed in you” for symmetry’s sake, but that would imply that I thought I might get something positive from interacting with you. Congratulations: you lived down to my expectations.

    [questions]

    See, the reason I didn’t answer those questions the first time is that I don’t recognize those names off the top of my head (I don’t even know what the AFL is, nor do I particularly care), and I don’t actually care enough about your disingenuous JAQing-off to do the necessary research to answer them. I know you don’t give a damn about the answers anyway- you’ve got your bigotry, you’ve got your excuses for it, and now you’re looking for someone to make a misstep so you can score points off of them and declare yourself the winner of the Bestest Bigot of the Year award (it’s only January- pace yourself!).

    Yawn. No thanks.

    Oh, and feminism is “about” all people (doesn’t do much good if half the population ignores feminism, after all), and any person can be a feminist. Yes, the UN resolution’s wording is crap, but if you’re going to make the case that it’s equivalent to “Feminism is unfair to men” you’re going to have to do a lot better than just leaving that statement lying there like a turd on the rug. Otherwise, somebody’s going to come along and rub your nose in it.

  149. A. Noyd says

    Pierce R. Butler (#139)

    So did overreaction.

    Oh, look. Your rapidly-appearing mob of tribalist hysterics hunting heresy has degenerated into “overreaction happened.” All one has to do is ask what right you have to decide what is or isn’t overreaction to transphobia, and that disappears too.

    If you want to look at all this as “the glorious forces of truth ‘n’ righteousness overcame the evil incarnation of wrongness” – well, that’s how a lot of people saw it at the time.

    Awfully convenient straw man you’ve got there. Might I suggest not putting words into people’s mouth (especially such patently ridiculous ones) if you don’t want to undermine all your credibility, though? (Haha, just kidding. It’s way too late for that.)

    As the mere suggestion that the winning faction may have gone a bit too far seems, still, to provoke (ahem) rage among various vocal veterans of that titanic struggle, I’ll let those insults and attacks speak for themselves as evidence of disproportionate response.

    That has to be the most pompous way of saying “Looks like I touched a nerve” I’ve ever seen. Too bad the pretension doesn’t make it any more convincing than the usual.

    (#147)

    Of course, all those who disregard the specifics of my comments to deride my personal failings…embody the acme of open-mindedness.

    You’re gonna leave on a tu quoque? Okay, then. Bye.

  150. patrick2 says

    A. Noyd#113

    So, you don’t feel like something’s off if you’re referred to as a woman or called “she” or “ma’am”? For you, that feels exactly the same as if you’re referred to as a man or called “he” or “sir”? And I’m not talking about whether you put much effort into actively caring about it, or whether it offends you. I’m talking about an immediate instinct, however quiet and unobtrusive it may be, telling you “someone has made a mistake about what I am.”

    I would feel that way, but I would also feel that way if someone called me “William” instead of “Patrick”. If I had been named William at birth then I wouldn’t feel strange about being called that. And I have no reason to think that I would feel strange about being called “she” or “ma’am” if I had been born female.

    Giliell#116

    So, if tomorrow you woke up with a nice C-cup, ovaries, a uterus and a vagina, you’d be just OK after adjusting to the hassle with the periods?
    Cool…

    I think my answer to A. Noyd covers this. I’m 30 years old, so if I woke up tomorrow with a female body after this long with a male body, yes I would feel strange about it, but I have no reason to think I would find having female anatomy strange if I had been born with a female body.

  151. A. Noyd says

    patrick2 (#162)

    And I have no reason to think that I would feel strange about being called “she” or “ma’am” if I had been born female.

    I’m pointing out your “internal sense of being male.” You have it, you just don’t notice it most of the time. But that’s what people are talking about. No, really.

    The thing is, you don’t call yourself a man because you were born “male.” You call yourself a man because you were born “male” and your internal sense is consistent with that. You have the luxury of thinking the label you were given when someone saw your genitals led to the internals sense of maleness because the two are consistent for you.

    However, there are people for whom the label is not consistent with their internal sense. They exist, and have existed, across cultural, geographic and temporal boundaries. And that is how we know the two things are, to a significant degree, independent of one another, even if they happen to coincide the majority of the time, such as in your own case.

  152. Roj Blake says

    I once went out with a “chick with a dick”. She didn’t tell me, it just came up in conversation.

  153. says

    Allison

    I realize my previous post didn’t make clear: I wish people would focus more on OB’s inhumanity.

    Hmmm.
    Going back to those old threads I actually remembered that I had left B&W long before that. In some argument or other I had used an expression or collocation that has the word “old” in it, which OB took as an attack on herself and nothing I said could convince her otherwise. I decided back then, that I had better things to do with my time.
    There have been, and are, a lot of calls for being “charitable” towards her, yet they all ignore that Ophelia has never extended any charity to anybody else, especially not towards the groups or people she targets.

    Pierce

    I leave you in their benign company with only the tiniest of qualms, secure that only, maybe, Giliell would invite you to freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ to endanger your soul and sanity by reviewing the (less vitriolic parts of) the battlefield for yourself.

    If only somebody here took a firm stance against verbose hyperbole!

    reviewing the (less vitriolic parts of) the battlefield

    Both sides behaved badly, but especially one. If the other side behaved badly it was just because you made her do it.

    As the mere suggestion that the winning faction may have gone a bit too far seems, still, to provoke (ahem) rage among various vocal veterans of that titanic struggle, I’ll let those insults and attacks speak for themselves as evidence of disproportionate response.

    Emphasis mine.
    Oh if only there was somebody who would make a check on whether “rage” and such are the appropriate words…
    DavidinOz
    Now, unlike others here I am actually disappointed in you, because I got to know you as a pleasant and engaging person in conversations. I’m not only deeply disappointed by your transphobia, but also that you’d draw all other marginalised groups into this without any regards as to how they feel about being used as your prop.
    And just for the record (and I actually could fucking quote myself from back in 2015): yes, some questions are settled and don’t need to be discussed endlessly.
    And before this gets strawmanned. This doesn’t close discussions on gender and gender identity. IIRC, CD and I have some quite different viewpoints on some matters, and had some interesting and thought provoking discussions. Yet somehow I seem to manage having a different viewpoint compared to a trans woman without being transphobic (I’m pretty sure you’d let me know. I’m also sure that I still have some transphobic ideas, because transphobia is the background noise of society).
    CD

    It’s not about declining to sleep with someone. No trans advocate has ever made the argument that someone is morally obligated to fuck someone just because they went on a date.

    Though that is the transphobes love to claim that. just like a workshop of half a dozen trans women on “the cotton ceiling” and a joke that starts with “have your trans girlfriend” are constructed as a massive conspiracy to force lesbians to ride dicks.

    Patrick 2

    I would feel that way, but I would also feel that way if someone called me “William” instead of “Patrick”

    Obviously, I only speak for myself, but, I do have ample experience with this particular phenomenon, because a lot of people still cannot fathom the simple fact that I kept my name upon marriage and call me my husband’s name. That’s a shrug and an eye roll. I’m pretty sure that my reaction would be different if I woke with a penis between my legs and a stubble.

  154. says

    I’d like to thank Roj Blake at #164 for his excellent example of the damage that transphobes do.

    In a thread specifically about the way trans women are mistreated in ‘discourse’ (as embodied by OB), he was so incredibly tone-deaf, so staggeringly poisoned into the idea that all trans women are nothing but jokes, that he thought saying that was okay. Because it’s always okay, right? Because trans women, I mean chicks with dicks, are obviously deluded, mockable, hey did you see that Ace Ventura movie, wasn’t that hilarious?

    He doesn’t believe there’s a real, sizeable demographic – WITH MULTIPLE MEMBERS RIGHT HERE – who struggle every day with trying to find a place in the world in the face of unrelenting hate and being shoved out of employment, housing, medical care, social care, everything. He thinks ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is the last word on research. He thinks porn slurs are the right way to describe a minority.

    And all this is because of the culture created and supported by the rest of the transphobes.

    Fuck you with a goat, Roj Blake. May you be treated in life the worst way you treat minorities.

  155. rietpluim says

    Perhaps you heard that the Nashville Statement has reached the Netherlands. It was signed by ~250 clergymen and other prominent men from the religious right. Fortunately, it backlashed quickly (most of it last Sunday. The man-brothers must have been startled after starting up their laptops on Monday) but nevertheless a lot of people were hurt.

    The Economist has a fairly accurate description of the events. Be prepared for a history lesson in religious schisms and fusions and more schisms: In the easy-going Netherlands, two worlds have clashed.

  156. says

    BTW, this is what the reality for trans women looks like (Content warning for violence against trans women.)
    Yet you will hear crickets about whether it would be too dangerous to put these two women in a women’s prison.
    You can claim that “oh, of course trans women should have human rights” until the cows come home, but if you also constantly keep arguing about their identity, the validity of their identity and whether or not they should have access to cis women’s facilities*, this is the result. This is your stochastic terrorism. And I don’t give a fuck if you claim that “of course you are abhorred by this”. Because we hear the “but…”

    *I’m struggling to word this clearly. What I mean is women’s facilities that they think belong exclusively to cis women, especially when those involve a certain degree of undressing like bathrooms and changing rooms.

  157. =8)-DX says

    @rietpluim #167 Might be appropriate to mention what’s in the article instead of linking to a paywall-restricted text.

  158. John Morales says

    =8)-DX, it’s not paywalled for me; I click, it comes up. I imagine that was rietpluim’s experience, too.

    Headers: Dutch Christianity and gay rights
    In the easy-going Netherlands, two worlds have clashed
    A tolerant society that also includes the religious right

    Extract: “This week, two Dutch worlds clashed. On January 6th it was reported that 250 clerics, mainly from small conservative congregations, had signed a Dutch version of a declaration on sexuality known as the Nashville Statement. Originally published by American evangelicals in 2017, this is a protest against progressive ideas about sex and gender. It says marriage is for a man and a woman, that gay sex is immoral, that adopting homosexual or transgender identities is not “consistent with God’s holy purposes”, and that these are not matters on which Christians can disagree. One signatory was Kees van der Staaij, leader of the SGP party, a conservative group with Bible Belt roots.

    Dutch society responded with swift condemnation. The government, which groups two liberal parties with two Christian ones, reaffirmed its gay-friendly bona fides: the minister of education and culture, a member of the liberal D66 party, called the Nashville Statement “a step backwards in time”, and the justice ministry said it might constitute hate speech.”

  159. Grace says

    Pierce R. Butler:

    I for one continue to see the debate as semantic &/or definitional:

    I see it as more life-and-death and/or existential.

    Probably the difference is because the issue will never touch you directly, will have no impact on your ability to use a public bathroom, on your ability to access routine medical care (of the sort everyone sometimes needs, not trans-related care), on your ability to obtain housing, on your ability to keep employment, on your ability to not be casually outed in public settings where outing can mean the loss of your appropriate medical care, your employment, and etc.

    With me and others like me, it is present in my life whether I want it or not (and I very often don’t), in myriad ways.

    When you’re having this discussion about whether a woman who is trans is really actually a woman or not, you’re having an abstract discussion about someone else. I’m having the discussion about me, and the results of the discussion can affect my employment (and have) and can affect my medical care (and have) and can get me outed in front of violent criminals (which I have been).

    It makes the emotional content of the discussion rather different, which is why, when someone says something like, “Well, it’s all semantics, isn’t it?” I have to suppress expression of the rage which wants me to say such things as, “Go to hell” and “Go fuck yourself.”

    And if you think that I went zero to sixty with no warning, just there… it’s because people around me have been finding this topic “worth of much discussion”, as you put it, for years, mainly in the expression and justification of their own unexamined fears, and my patience for it is waning daily.

    Grace

  160. Hj Hornbeck says

    Grr, looks like I’m late to the party again. Oh well, I hope nobody minds if I throw my two cents in anyway. I owe a debt of thanks to all the transgender people in this thread, especially abbeycadabra; if you hadn’t spoken up three-plus years ago, I might have been on Pierce R. Butler’s side today.

    I’m not. Not even close.

  161. Holms says

    Apologies for hitting a dead conversation… I made a tab to remind me to comment, but forgot all the same. Since few are likely to see this, I will keep it brief.

    The OP is entitled “I’ve been told that an old friend has become profoundly illogical” yet by far the least logical passage was actually from PZ:

    <

    blockquote>It [Cis] refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.

    <

    blockquote>
    This is coming from a biology professor whose job involves finding wild specimens and sexing them. That is, observing their genitals and describing which sex the creature belongs to on that observational basis. This is precisely what happens when a baby is born: they are not being assigned a sex, it is being observed.

    (Strange things are happening with blockquote, which nothing seems to fix)

  162. says

    I have never in my entire life observed an individual fruit fly, zebrafish, grasshopper, mouse, kitten, or spider and tried to assign a gender to them. We can, in most cases, observe and assign a sex to an individual, as my definition states, but gender isn’t determinable from chromosomes, genitals, gametes, or hormone levels.

  163. says

    I have never in my entire life observed an individual fruit fly, zebrafish, grasshopper, mouse, kitten, or spider and tried to assign a gender to them.

    Apart from the fact that criteria for what counts as “male” or “female” will probably have been very different from grasshopper to mouse, and that’s not even going into the things that are often not even tested like chromosomes and hormones…
    But never let that get into the way of a nice transphobic narrative…

  164. Holms says

    Neither do those delivering babies; they are observing the sex and writing down ‘male’ or ‘female’ in the same way you do when sexing your spiders.

  165. Zeckenschwarm says

    @Holms: What about intersex conditions that aren’t visible from the outside? Or are you defining “sex” purely based on physical appearance at the moment of birth?

  166. says

    @Zeckenschwarm:

    It doesn’t matter. Holms is refusing to admit that in addition to possessing certain sexed body characteristics at birth babies are also assigned to social categories with socially defined expectations, stereotypes and punishments for defying same. This is a dishonest game in which Holms is asserting that the doctors are merely stating facts about sexed body parts, with no additional communicative meaning in their statements to parents, the paperwork filed with the state, etc.

    The existence of intersex folks isn’t going to change Holms’ tune. Holms already knows intersex people already exist. Holms already knows that genital morphology is merely a good proxy, not a definitive confirmation of biological sex, much less gender.

    It’s a shame, but there you are.

  167. says

    #178: You aren’t making any sense.

    Yes. I look at the sexual organs of spiders, and scribble a ♀or ♂on a label.

    Doctors/nurses/midwives look at the sexual organs of newborn babies, and scribble a ♀or ♂on a birth certificate.

    None of that is being debated.

    Gender develops and is cultivated by parents, family, friends, society over time. Placing that label creates a cloud of expectations for the child. A cis person develops a gender identity that corresponds to the social expectations for the sex marked on that birth certificate. A trans person develops a gender identity, or parts of an identity, that do not align with the social expectations for their sex.

    Why are you finding all this so difficult to understand? Do you seriously think that the type of gamete you make directly and invariably determines your identity in all things?

  168. Holms says

    #181 Zeckenschwarm
    An intersex condition is an atypical presentation of human sex, and so are not sexes in themselves, if that is what you are asking. It’s very much like the way we note that humans have two arms: this is the typical presentation, which in no way excludes the possibility of having a different number than that.

    #182 Crip
    I will refrain from making claims as to your position on things, if you will refrain from making claims about mine.

  169. Holms says

    #182, #183
    All you are saying there is that a trans person is a person with a certain sex, who does not like the stereotypes associated with that sex. How very gender critical of you!

  170. says

    You:

    This is precisely what happens when a baby is born: they are not being assigned a sex, it is being observed.

    The context, from PZ:

    I have never in my entire life observed an individual fruit fly, zebrafish, grasshopper, mouse, kitten, or spider and tried to assign a gender to them.

    And, your response, Holms:

    Neither do those delivering babies; they are observing the sex and writing down ‘male’ or ‘female’ in the same way you do when sexing your spiders.

    I have no problem summing up your stated position as

    Holms is refusing to admit that in addition to possessing certain sexed body characteristics at birth babies are also assigned to social categories with socially defined expectations, stereotypes and punishments for defying same. This is a dishonest game in which Holms is asserting that the doctors are merely stating facts about sexed body parts, with no additional communicative meaning in their statements to parents, the paperwork filed with the state, etc.

    I’m not making claims as to some thought process of yours. I’m paraphrasing what you’ve actually said. You in fact said that “those delivering babies” do not assign gender, but rather “they are observing the sex and writing down ‘male’ or ‘female’”. This is a denial – a direct denial – of the social process of assigning a child a gender.

    These are your words. I’m not making claims about your position: you are. I am, however, paraphrasing what you actually wrote. If you don’t want to be associated with the claim that those who deliver babies play no role in gender assignment, then don’t make that claim in writing where anyone can see the evidence. While I don’t feel it’s reasonable to state that I know some existentially significant “real” position of yours, I feel its personally reasonable to restate and even to paraphrase the assertions you’ve actually made.

    HOWEVER as to whether or not your criticism of me was ever honest and legitimate, I do note that in #184 you say:

    I will refrain from making claims as to your position on things, if you will refrain from making claims about mine.

    and then immediately in #185, with no chance for me to accept or reject your proposition, you write:

    All you are saying there is that a trans person is a person with a certain sex, who does not like the stereotypes associated with that sex.

    This is quite revealing about the dishonest intent behind your offer #184. Even if I think it’s reasonable to quote, restate, and paraphrase, you clearly did assert that you did not want this to be a part of the conversation going forward. And yet what do you do in your next effort to move the conversation forward? Exactly what you said you wouldn’t do.

    Why do you lie about what you’re going to do and then make the evidence of your mendacity so obvious by leaving it adjacent to your false promise?

    That’s not merely bad ethics, that’s also just plain stupid. You’ve got to be smarter than that if you want to actually convince anyone you’ve got a good argument.

  171. Holms says

    #186 Crip
    You have perhaps forgotten, or are deliberately omitting, that I was replying to PZ’s specific claim: “It [Cis] refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.” Specifically, that people are assigned these gendered assumptions when delivered. I pointed out that all that is happening at birth is the same as what PZ himself does: sexing an organism based on observable characteristics.

    You give the game away when you said that “This is a denial – a direct denial – of the social process of assigning a child a gender.” Notice that while accusing me of denying how gender is assigned, you described it as a social process, distinct from the observation of sex being made at birth, and hence completely in line with what I was saying. The OB is noting ‘male’ or ‘female’, while it is broader society that places certain expectations on people on that basis. The OB is not declaring that a e.g. a female baby will grow up to like floral dresses, the culture in which the child develops says that. (Or abaya or cheongsam or niqab or etc.)

    Moving to the second point, regarding making claims about each other’s position on things. Some of what you have said about me has been a plain paraphrase of my statements, reframing them slightly or distilling them or similar. And yes, I have done that too. Other things you have said about me have been claims about my state of mind, or intent, regarding the topics being discussed. Examples: “refusing to admit”, “dishonest game”, “dishonest intent” and such. This is what I object to, and I have not replied in kind.

    I’ll grant however that my phrasing in #184 (“I will refrain from making claims as to your position on things, if you will refrain from making claims about mine.”) did no make this distinction clear, but there it is: I have no issue per se with paraphrases – though of course paraphrases might be criticised as being inaccurate – rather, I take issue with the claims about my state of mind / intent regarding the topic.

  172. =8)-DX says

    @Holmes #175

    This is precisely what happens when a baby is born: they are not being assigned a sex, it is being observed.

    This statement is clearly false. “Sex” is the English human label for two categories of a bimodal distribution of biological characteristics. Assigning a label to something is what your brain does when you observe something and categorise it. The very nature of language means that observing is by definition assigning as soon as you determine any patterns or ascribe meaning to the thing being observed.

    An intersex condition is an atypical presentation of human sex, and so are not sexes in themselves

    Your decision to call intersex people atypical is a similar categorisation, you’re assigning their sex to a category of “exception, which can be ignored for the purposes of this discussion”, you’re making a value judgement and assigning a label, which is exactly the same linguistic and political action as the process of assigning sex at birth.

    Sex is assigned, just as gender is assigned. One is a (largely) simplistic biological categorisation including a number of stereotypical preconceptions which don’t always fit reality, the other a (largely) simplistic social categorisation including a number of stereotypical preconceptions which even less often fit reality. I’m failing to see any actual argument from you about why you think PZ was being illogical, or perhaps how cis is not a word with a clear and easily understandable meaning, useful in discussions of gender identity.

    =8)-DX

  173. says

    Holms

    Neither do those delivering babies; they are observing the sex and writing down ‘male’ or ‘female’ in the same way you do when sexing your spiders.

    This is, of course, not true at all. I don’t know how many babies you’ve birthed or been present for their birth, but what happens is that the medical personal present observes whether the baby has a penis and testes, or labia. Unless there is a specific reason, nobody checks a baby’s internal organs at birth with an ultrasound. And nobody analyses their chromosomes. They just look at one physical feature of the body.

    The OB is noting ‘male’ or ‘female’, while it is broader society that places certain expectations on people on that basis.

    The OB is part of that process. Because, as soon as you squeezed the little critter out of your vagina, they’ll make a quick check whether the babe breathes, then look between the legs, write down “male” or “female” and then they’ll make sure there’s something pink or blue to communicate that very important fact to the world. Don’t tell me again that gender isn’t already enforced at that point, even though the baby is literally still incapable of even noticing.
    Now, aside from this very interesting trip to the delivery room, the real question is “what does this have anything to do with the price of butter”?
    Nobody is denying that the overwhelming majority of people is born with a penis and testes, or labia (and a vagina, but that is internal). Nobody is denying that the overwhelming majority of those people then happily accept the terms “male” and “female” for themselves, regardless of whether they accept society’s broader expectations as to what they should then do with their lives. The cis.
    Yet it is a fact that for some people this does not match. The label itches like sheep wool, it does not match their own sense of being. They reject the label they are given based on their body and claim a new one. Some of them are deeply unhappy with the reality of their body (made worse by horrible transphobia that will accept nothing short of Barbie perfect from a trans woman and then accuse her of being a walking stereotype), some are not. Some are happy with a different set of gendered expectations, some are not. The trans.
    That’s not actually that hard to understand.

  174. rq says

    Don’t tell me again that gender isn’t already enforced at that point, even though the baby is literally still incapable of even noticing.

    Ah, the social process at work!
    I believe that gendering often begins before birth, pretty much right after that first sonograph where the genitals can possibly (un?)reliably be discerned. See also: gender reveal party (note: not sex reveal party, but gender reveal party) and all ensuing shenanigans re: “but how will I know what colour onesies to buy?? what if the nursery is the wrong colour???” [expressed in a tone of utter horror]. At birth, the assumed anatomy is merely confirmed (or disputed) by a medical professional, but the gendering continues (yep, blue or pink, I have three blue greeting cards filed away somewhere) – and there is so much attached to this declaration of anatomy, like for instance, apparently you shouldn’t wrap a baby with a penis in a pink blanket, because somehow they will realize this and… ?
    I dunno, none of mine seem to have minded.
    In other words, I don’t get this obsession with ‘at birth’, because the whole process that will determine how the world perceives someone begins months before they are even separate humans. And it should be no surprise that the initial guess is sometimes wrong, and that these separate, independent human persons have a better perception of themselves and their own bodies.
    And thankfully, we have handy, short, easy-to-remember labels that we can use as shorthand for whom the initial guess aligns, and for whome the initial guess does not align. Why is that a problem?

  175. KG says

    All you are saying there is that a trans person is a person with a certain sex, who does not like the stereotypes associated with that sex. – Holms@185

    Kind of you to make your ignorance so clear. Gender identity is not the same as gender expression: the stereotypes relate to gender expression – they are social expressions of how gender identity is expected to be displayed. Of course this (real or pretended) ignorance is a central part of TERF-type transphobia, because TERFs need to pretend that if we were able to do away with gender stereotyping, gender identity would disappear and hence there could be no trans* (or cis) people. But since there are trans people who nonetheless reject many of the forms of gender expression which gender stereotypes say they should display, this is, to say the least, implausible.

  176. Holms says

    #188 =8)-DX
    This statement is clearly false. …

    Oh my god. Never mind that ‘observe’ has a widely understood meaning that is perfectly applicable to this subject and easily understandable, suddenly we’re all about epistemic relativism. I’ve no interest in word games.

    #189 Giliell
    This is, of course, not true at all. I don’t know how many babies you’ve birthed or been present for their birth, but what happens is that the medical personal present observes whether the baby has a penis and testes, or labia. Unless there is a specific reason, nobody checks a baby’s internal organs at birth with an ultrasound. And nobody analyses their chromosomes. They just look at one physical feature of the body.

    Correct. The process of sexing, whether it be a human or spider, is an observation of anatomy. And this is what the OB does at a delivery.

    The OB is part of that process. Because, as soon as you squeezed the little critter out of your vagina, they’ll make a quick check whether the babe breathes, then look between the legs, write down “male” or “female” and then they’ll make sure there’s something pink or blue to communicate that very important fact to the world.

    Really. The OB does that? Always, and around the world? Strange, I don’t remember that occurring for a single birth within my family or circle of friends… Are you perhaps generalising something that must surely vary from hospital to hospital?

    What you are touching on is distinct from the act of observing and noting the sex of a newborn. You appear to be conflating the observation of sex with the the expectations placed upon a child on the basis of sex – a.k.a. gender.

  177. Holms says

    #191 KG
    …because TERFs need to pretend that if we were able to do away with gender stereotyping, gender identity would disappear and hence there could be no trans* (or cis) people.

    I’m curious. If we managed to banish all expectations placed upon a person on the basis of their sex, how would change your description of gender identity (if it changes at all)?

  178. says

    What you are touching on is distinct from the act of observing and noting the sex of a newborn. You appear to be conflating the observation of sex with the the expectations placed upon a child on the basis of sex – a.k.a. gender.

    Your reading comprehension is clearly lacking, but that’s dog bites man territory.
    The observation of an anatomical fact triggers all those things. OBs are people who live in this world. Do you really think that the person who delivers the baby thinks “this baby has anatomy X FULL STOP I do not have any ideas about this person now that follow from the societal expectations placed on people with anatomy X”?

    Are you perhaps generalising something that must surely vary from hospital to hospital?

    Well, we could do a quick survey here, but the swaddling of newborns in pink/blue blankets, adding blue/pink name tags, including pink/blue beads in the wristband, etc. aren’t rare occurrences.

    But I’ll ask you again: What does the biological reality of genitals being observed at birth have to do with the lives of trans people?

    rq

    I believe that gendering often begins before birth, pretty much right after that first sonograph where the genitals can possibly (un?)reliably be discerned. See also: gender reveal party (note: not sex reveal party, but gender reveal party) and all ensuing shenanigans re: “but how will I know what colour onesies to buy??

    Oh gods, yes.
    Not to mentin the gendering of baby behaviour that starts pretty much as soon as they’re out. The ones assigned boy have “strong voices like daddy”, the ones assigned girl are “pretty” and “beautiful” etc.

  179. says

    Shorter Holms: When the OB says “it’s a girl”, all they’re doing is to communicate that the baby has visible labia. They are not making a statement about gender or society’s (and their own) expectations. They are just using this word that has so much baggage attached for very scientific reasons, because “the baby has labia and probably a vagina” is just too incorrect and fuzzy.”

  180. says

    @Holms, what is it you are trying to actually say? What is your point? Do you have any?
    Because your “what if” is ´pure JAQuing off. You are posing a purely rhetorical questions to which you know perfectly well nobody has a complete answer because the issue at hand is such a complex mixture of biology and societal expecations that we as a society are just begining to untangle it.
    You are engaging in “transphobia of the gaps”, so to speak, engagin in absurd reductionism and waving complexities away.
    It is neither smart, nor cute, just obnoxious.
    Trans people are real, you cannot define them away. Deal with it.

  181. =8)-DX says

    @Holms #192

    I’ve no interest in word games.
    Heh, it’s odd then, that’s pretty much all you’ve been doing since your first comment:
    × complaining “assigned sex” is somehow drastically different from “sexing” or “observing sex” (semantics).
    × defining intersex people as not part of the discussion you want to have (semantics and faulty generalisation).
    × complaining that people are trying to paraphrase your single semantic point to make sense of it. (sophistry)
    × avoiding making any actual arguments as to why PZ is “illogical” by nitpickiing people’s comments and dismissing their subastance. (more sophistry)
    No interest in word games, indeed!

  182. KG says

    If we managed to banish all expectations placed upon a person on the basis of their sex, how would change your description of gender identity (if it changes at all)? – Holms@193

    The second clause is ungrammatical, so I don’t know quite what you mean, but I’ll answer as best I can. I can’t know of course, nor do I think it is even possible to “banish all expectations placed upon a person on the basis of their sex” unless our descendants modify themselves so that sex assignment becomes impossible, e.g. they all become hermaphrodites. To take the most obvious example, we expect the presence or absence of certain anatomical and physiological features on the basis of sex, including but not limited to external genitalia and presence or absence of menstruation at certain ages – but I would not expect body dysmorphia linked to gender identity to disappear. IOW, I think gender identity is in part (but not wholly) a matter of a sense of what one’s anatomy should be like.

  183. anat says

    To Holms, @193:

    I’m curious. If we managed to banish all expectations placed upon a person on the basis of their sex, how would change your description of gender identity (if it changes at all)?

    Does ‘expectations placed on the basis of sex’ include the use of gendered words such as ‘boy/girl’ woman/man’ use of gendered pronouns? Because in addition to wanting their body to align with their perception of how it should be I expect even in the most egalitarian society possible, transgender people will have preferences regarding to which gendered terminology should be applied to them that diverge from the preferences of cisgender people. They won’t be able to use dress and hairstyle as cues to others, so I expect in such a hypothetical society social transitioning would include the wearing gender buttons or some other explicit reminder. Gender identity would keep working the same way as it does in our society. People will learn that society has certain gender categories, and that they were assigned one of them, but their sense is that assignment was faulty and needs correction. (Children are capable of knowing which gender they were assigned and which gender others are categorized as even without knowing that said assignment has anything to do with anatomical features.)

  184. Holms says

    #194 Giliell
    The observation of an anatomical fact triggers all those things. OBs are people who live in this world. Do you really think that the person who delivers the baby thinks “this baby has anatomy X FULL STOP I do not have any ideas about this person now that follow from the societal expectations placed on people with anatomy X”?

    I find it fascinating that you would reply to my point with a bunch of stuff doesn’t address it. The OB is not declaring that the infant will grow to [love pink dresses and barbies, shoe shopping, celeb gossip, aspire to a be kindergarten teacher (etc.)] / [love sports cars, football, beer, aspire to a STEM career (etc.)]. These are certainly expectations placed on people purely for their sex – many things beyond what I listed are gendered – but the specific and limited act of glancing between the legs of in infant at birth and noting M or F is nothing more than an observation of the infant’s sex.

    But I’ll ask you again: What does the biological reality of genitals being observed at birth have to do with the lives of trans people?

    In order to ask me that question “again,” you must haved asked it on at least one prior occasion.

    Anyway, what makes you think I was passing comment or judgement on the lives of trans people?

    #196 Charly
    @Holms, what is it you are trying to actually say? What is your point? Do you have any?

    I took issue with PZ’s wording in the OP, as shown in post #175. And now that I reread it, I see that I also began the conversation with an insult, for which I have no excuse.

    Because your “what if” is ´pure JAQuing off. You are posing a purely rhetorical questions to which you know perfectly well nobody has a complete answer because the issue at hand is such a complex mixture of biology and societal expecations that we as a society are just begining to untangle it.

    It was not JAQing off, it was in reply to, and attempting to explore further, KG’s post #191.

    #198 KG

    If we managed to banish all expectations placed upon a person on the basis of their sex, how would that change your description of gender identity (if it changes at all)? – Holms@193

    The second clause is ungrammatical, so I don’t know quite what you mean, but I’ll answer as best I can.

    Yes, I appear to have left out a ‘that’ accidentally, added here in bold; but you have correctly interpreted the question anyway. And yes, the scenario is highly hypothetical. As to the reply itself…

    …but I would not expect body dysmorphia linked to gender identity to disappear. IOW, I think gender identity is in part (but not wholly) a matter of a sense of what one’s anatomy should be like.

    As far as I am aware, the perception some have that they have the wrong anatomy, and the distress caused by this, would continue in such a world; and the subset of body dysmorphia involving sexual characteristics would continue to exist as a reason to physically transition. But what of those people that are trans as a result of mismatching the stereotypes associated with their sex? As far as I can tell, that manifestation of gender dysphoria would cease to exist in such a world, as there are no longer any stereotypes to match or mismatch.

  185. Holms says

    199 anat
    …They won’t be able to use dress and hairstyle as cues to others, so I expect in such a hypothetical society social transitioning would include the wearing gender buttons or some other explicit reminder.

    Are you using ‘social transitioning’ to distinguish from physical transitioning / sex reassignment? If so, good, and I hope the reply above to him can stand also as a reply to you.

  186. Rob Grigjanis says

    Holms @200: If “the scenario is highly hypothetical”, why are you typing so much? What are you trying to achieve? Nearest I can tell, you’re telling a lot of people that you know better about their lives than they do.

  187. anat says

    Holms @200/201:

    I do not wish to speak for transgender people so I will limit myself to reporting what I concluded from interacting with them. My impression is that what you call ‘people that are trans as a result of mismatching the stereotypes associated with their sex’ is a misconception, one I somewhat shared a few years ago. My understanding is that you are thinking something along the following lines:

    ‘People say pink is a girl color. I don’t like pink. In fact I don’t like a lot of girl things. Maybe I am doing girl wrong. Maybe I am not really a girl, maybe I’m a boy.’

    My understanding is that it is more like ‘I am a boy, but people think I’m a girl. If I stop doing things that in this society are considered girl things and start doing things that are considered boy things it will be easier for people to remember that I am a boy’.

  188. Hj Hornbeck says

    Holms @200:

    The OB is not declaring that the infant will grow to [love pink dresses and barbies, shoe shopping, celeb gossip, aspire to a be kindergarten teacher (etc.)] / [love sports cars, football, beer, aspire to a STEM career (etc.)]. These are certainly expectations placed on people purely for their sex – many things beyond what I listed are gendered – but the specific and limited act of glancing between the legs of in infant at birth and noting M or F is nothing more than an observation of the infant’s sex.

    Why do you keep assuming sex is a binary? I cornered a friend with a BSc in biology one day about the biological definition of sex. They said it was pretty simple, “males” have small gametes and “females” have big ones. I asked how they classified organisms that don’t produce gametes, and they said they’d assign them based on which of the two groups they most resembled.

    “Okay,” I said, “so male isn’t really ‘organisms that produce small gametes’, it’s actually ‘organisms that produce small gametes or that the biologist on hand thinks looks like an organism that produces small gametes.'” At which point they admitted biology was hard, and required a lot of shortcuts and fudges to keep your head from exploding.

    Human beings are no different. What sex is someone that has ovaries but a small phallus without a urethral opening? How about someone who’s a 4 on the Quigley scale, or stage 3 on the Prader scale? Or someone with anorchidism or aphallia?

    I’d love it if PZ Myers did a catalog of spider genitalia, I bet they’d have roughly the same variation as the human population. As it stands, I seriously doubt his sexing is more sophisticated than “looks female to me.”

  189. Holms says

    #202 Rob
    Holms @200: If “the scenario is highly hypothetical”, why are you typing so much? What are you trying to achieve? Nearest I can tell, you’re telling a lot of people that you know better about their lives than they do.

    Excuse me but where am I doing that? I thought I was taking issue with PZ’s wording wrt what takes place when a child is born (assigning gender vs. observing sex). Followed by a small tangent with you.

    And if I am writing a lot, I might point out that lots of people are replying to me; replying to them in turn necessarily means a fair amount of writing.

    #203 anat
    ‘People say pink is a girl color. […]’

    My understanding is that it is more like ‘I am a boy […]’

    I would quickly point out that both of those rough summaries have been stated by various trans people, along with many others besides.

    #204 HJ
    Why do you keep assuming sex is a binary?

    It is not an assumption. Human sex is binary, in that ~99% of human bodies match one of two morphologies; it is a fact that this is a binary pattern. The fact that the two categories have edge cases and exceptions does not mean the pattern does not exist.

    I’d love it if PZ Myers did a catalog of spider genitalia, I bet they’d have roughly the same variation as the human population. As it stands, I seriously doubt his sexing is more sophisticated than “looks female to me.”

    This is actually the same as what the OB does; there is no further investigation beyond a cursory glance unless something is visibly anomalous. Which is why many people don’t realise they have some kind of intersex condition until later in life – that initial investigation was surface only.

    I suspect your friend was surprised somewhat by your question, to give such a faltering description.

  190. tinkerer says

    Holms wrote:

    Human sex is binary, in that ~99% of human bodies match one of two morphologies; it is a fact that this is a binary pattern. The fact that the two categories have edge cases and exceptions does not mean the pattern does not exist.

    So a set is binary, except where it isn’t binary, but we discount those non-binary cases simply because they’re not binary even though they are part of the same set. Why stop at 99%? How about 98%. Why not call a set binary in which only 51% fit the binary definition? It also forms a pattern in which the majority are binary. What’s the magic number which denotes the cut-off point?

    Or are you just being your usual clueless self who has no regard for the feelings of people who aren’t you. If this is exercising you so much why don’t you take the trouble to go away and educate yourself instead of self-importantly JAQing off in front of people who can be hurt by your clueless wonderings. There’s been plenty written by people who don’t fit your binary definition, why not listen to them?

  191. anat says

    Holms @205, did you bother to ask the people you take to be ‘people that are trans as a result of mismatching the stereotypes associated with their sex’ why they disliked the stereotypes associated with their assigned gender? Do they simply dislike the stereotypes, or do they dislike the fact that those stereotypes are associated with a group that they were placed in against their inclination and serve as a reminder of that association?

  192. says

    @207 anat

    No, he didn’t. Because he doesn’t feel like that sort of thing is necessary.

    There is a certain strain of scientifically-minded bad behavior that I see around a lot, in which a member of a privileged group is writing about an oppressed group for other privileged people. It always takes the patriarchal and patronizing tack that the privileged person knows the lives and science around the oppressed people better than an actual member of the group – moreover, it includes intimating or outright claiming that members of the oppressed group cannot be trusted to engage in the discussion because they are (at best) ‘too close to the issue, too emotionally invested’ or (at worst) fundamentally incapable of comprehending and engaging with the discussion.

    It reminds me very much of the Victorian science attitude, the kind of behavior where pipe-smoking old white men were the only possible authorities on Science, because obviously silly women with their uteri couldn’t understand anything through all the crying and of course the savages couldn’t comprehend anything more complicated than a pot. The kind of thinking that leads to spurious diagnoses based on stereotypes and straight-up sticking humans in zoos.

    The kind of thinking where, in short, the Science People treat the subject people like animals who could not understand the science. When you believe that, of COURSE you don’t ask them things! You’re not going to consult with the rats on the design of the maze are you? Absurd on its face!

    Right, Holms? Waste of time to talk to the animals?

  193. Hj Hornbeck says

    Holms @205:

    Human sex is binary

    Here, you say there are exactly two partitions for human beings.

    in that ~99% of human bodies match one of two morphologies

    Here, you say that there are more than two partitions for human beings, the third being that ~1%. Don’t you see how those two phrases contradict one another? If we truly were binary, there would be no exceptions; so either there are at least three sexes, or that ~1% isn’t human.

    Wait: do you think intersex people are human?

    (Seriously, I’ve been banging on about this for nearly five years. The earliest instance of your argument dates to 1869, and over the years it’s only become more disingenuous.)

  194. John Morales says

    I have some sympathy for Holm’s position; I see a lot of conflation between sex and gender in this discussion, from both perspectives.
    “sexed at birth” and “gendered at birth”; not the same thing, and I think that’s the distinction being drawn.

    Hj, Perhaps a bimodal probability density function, very different means but similar deviation.

    abbeycadabra, whence your over-generalisation?

    There is a certain strain of scientifically-minded bad behavior that I see around a lot, in which a member of a privileged group is writing about an oppressed group for other privileged people. It always takes the patriarchal and patronizing tack that the privileged person knows the lives and science around the oppressed people better than an actual member of the group – moreover, it includes intimating or outright claiming that members of the oppressed group cannot be trusted to engage in the discussion because they are (at best) ‘too close to the issue, too emotionally invested’ or (at worst) fundamentally incapable of comprehending and engaging with the discussion.

    Um, PZ is “a member of a privileged group […] writing about an oppressed group for other privileged people.”

    Did you really intend to imply PZ is “takes the patriarchal and patronizing tack that the privileged person knows the lives and science around the oppressed people better than an actual member of the group”? Because if so, I think you are demonstrably wrong about that.

    In passing, I’ve been watching Contrapoints since the channel was introduced to me here, which I find quite entertaining and informative.

    The most recent episode (“Are Traps Gay?”) was no exception. Very informative.

    (BTW, I can’t remember whether I ever failed to apprehend the distinction between drag and transgender)

  195. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @210: Um, you seem to be ignoring the “There is a certain strain…” at the start of the quoted passage.

    It’s hard for me to have any sympathy for a “position” which “asks questions” about “highly hypothetical situations”. To me, that’s a honking great flashing neon sign saying “Here be bullshit”. Mileage varies, I’m sure, but I find the theorizing about other peoples’ experiences offensive.

  196. John Morales says

    Rob,

    Um, you seem to be ignoring the “There is a certain strain…” at the start of the quoted passage.

    OK. I stand corrected. :|

  197. John Morales says

    [sigh]

    For form’s sake, I feel I should add that I’m embarrassed to have misread you, abbeycadabra.

    (grr)

  198. rq says

    “sexed at birth” and “gendered at birth”

    If the OB just noted [male symbol] or [female symbol] as a representation of the particular observed genitalia of a baby, then yes, you could say that what happens is ‘sexing’. However, this is presented to the parents as ‘it’s a girl!’ or ‘it’s a boy!’ (unless someone here has experience with the OB saying ‘has a penis’/’has labia’ in lieu?), where the terms ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ are not merely denoters of observed sex, but are gendered as all fuck.

  199. John Morales says

    rq, right. Because the two are conflated. Which was the point.

    See this exchange (I pasted from the source), note the emphases in the originals:

    @175: “This is coming from a biology professor whose job involves finding wild specimens and sexing them. That is, observing their genitals and describing which sex the creature belongs to on that observational basis. This is precisely what happens when a baby is born: they are not being assigned a sex, it is being observed.?

    @176: “I have never in my entire life observed an individual fruit fly, zebrafish, grasshopper, mouse, kitten, or spider and tried to assign a gender to them. We can, in most cases, observe and assign a sex to an individual, as my definition states, but gender isn’t determinable from chromosomes, genitals, gametes, or hormone levels.”

    Or, paraphrasing:
    Holms: It’s sexing via observation!
    PZ: I dispute that. It’s not gendering, it’s sexing via observation!

  200. John Morales says

    PS Vulva, not labia.

    In passing, I always preferred to think that the Abominable Dr. Phibes’ assistant was Vulvania.

    (It’s Vulnavia, but I can’t help it — it tickles my fancy. Just like in Star Wars, I always preferred to think that the character was Princess Amygdala)

  201. says

    @John Morales:

    Or, paraphrasing:
    Holms: It’s sexing via observation!
    PZ: I dispute that. It’s not gendering, it’s sexing via observation!

    You’re missing the fact that Holms has insisted that only observation is taking place. There is clearly not only observation taking place as other things are happening before, after, and simultaneously.

    Holms’ argument is fucked not for saying that someone assisting delivery observed genitals, Holms’ argument is fucked because it repeatedly relies on the assertion that no gendering is taking place while, when aspects of gendering are being raised, falling back on, “But the so-called sexing is merely observation!”

    You are, here, supporting Holms’ contention that nothing gendering is going on here, it’s all pure observation.

    You should think about your position and clarify whether you really mean to agree with Holms that no gendering is taking place. Along the way, you might ask yourself some questions:

    Not only observation is happening: there is categorization happening. Looking “close enough” is sufficient for the delivery assistant’s purposes. No imaging, karyotyping, or other tests are run. No definition of “sex” is used other than expectations for the rough outline of the external genitalia. We know that this doesn’t always match other indicators of sex anyway, but this fairly-but-nonetheless-imperfectly accurate proxy is used. Why?
    Not only observation is happening, but communication is happening. Why does the delivery assistant say, “It’s a boy!” instead of something like, “The genitals on this child are anatomically male at first glance!” If this was entirely and only about sex, if this was unfiltered observation, why not simply and accurately report the observations made?
    Why does the delivery assistant check the genitals anyway? What purpose does it serve? What priority does that have? Why is this an important step in the post-delivery process?
    The child’s presumed sex is recorded on a birth certificate, but the medical professionals don’t wait for more definitive testing. They assign a sex based on probability short of proof. Sure, they’re accurate most of the time, but if this is merely recording information, why isn’t the information recorded in a way that can be truly verified visually at birth? Why wouldn’t the certificate ask, “Is the urethra contained within the genital shaft for at least 1/2 the length of that shaft? __Yes __No”?
    What is the government’s interest in the sex of the child at all? Why are birth certificate forms asking for this information but not for the results of a PKU test or an apgar score? Why doesn’t the certificate ask whether the earlobes of the child are of the unattached or attached type? Why isn’t that information recorded on our drivers’ licenses next to eye color and weight instead of “sex”?
    Given your answers to the above questions, are you at all certain that you can assert honestly that, given your own positions on these issues, nothing related to a child’s initial gendering is being undertaken at any time in any way by the delivery assistant(s) present?

    Holms argues that the delivery assistant performs no gender assignment role at all. Holms argues that the delivery assistant does nothing but observe. But is that position remotely credible? And how are you, by emphasizing certain aspects of this discussion and ignoring others, supporting Holms’ chosen narrative?

    Are you comfortable with being seen as supporting the idea that the delivery assistant performs no tasks related to sex or gender other than passively observing children’s genitals as they pass by?

    Think about it.

  202. anat says

    What is the government’s interest in the sex of the child at all? Why are birth certificate forms asking for this information but not for the results of a PKU test or an apgar score?

    I don’t know when gender became standard info to enter on birth certificates, but I read recently that until the late 1970s US passports did not list gender, and it became a requirement at that time in response to dress styles becoming less gender-specific (ie too many women wearing pants, whatever should we do?).

    BTW regarding announcing the newborn’s gender – in Israeli hospitals apparently the common formula translates as ‘you have a daughter/son’. Even more obviously on the social rather than merely biological/medical scale.

  203. Holms says

    #206 tinkerer
    So a set is binary, except where it isn’t binary, but we discount those non-binary cases simply because they’re not binary even though they are part of the same set.

    If you had read the text you quoted, you would have seen that sticking point addressed already. As for the rest of this paragraph, a) it is irrelevant to speculate about how we would describe the pattern if the percentage was some other number, because the number is ~99%; b) please look up the Sorites paradox.

    Or are you just being your usual clueless self who has no regard for the feelings of people who aren’t you.

    Which comments of mine establish that I am “usually clueless” and the rest?

    If this is exercising you so much…

    It is not eveident to me that anyone is agitated by this conversation.

    …why don’t you take the trouble to go away and educate yourself…

    Crip already tried this approach. My response to that works for you too.

    …instead of self-importantly JAQing off in front of people who can be hurt by your clueless wonderings.

    Again, that hypothetical scenario was a direct response to an interesting thing KG said, and was aimed at probing his comment a little further.

    There’s been plenty written by people who don’t fit your binary definition, why not listen to them?

    Oh I have, and in doing so I discovered something you appear to be unaware of: trans people have diverse thoughts on this issue. It is by no means a settled question amongst them, but you seem to think they are a single hive mind who all share a single opinion on the matter: yours.

    #205 anat
    Holms @205, did you bother to ask the people you take to be ‘people that are trans as a result of mismatching the stereotypes associated with their sex’ why they disliked the stereotypes associated with their assigned gender? Do they simply dislike the stereotypes, or do they dislike the fact that those stereotypes are associated with a group that they were placed in against their inclination and serve as a reminder of that association?

    Yes I did, and the answer was: both. Because trans people are varied and do not think in lockstep with one another.

    #208 abbeycadabra
    No, he didn’t. Because he doesn’t feel like that sort of thing is necessary.
    […]
    Right, Holms? Waste of time to talk to the animals?

    Oops! Double wrong. Not only have I actually communicated with trans people on exactly this (answered above to anat), but you also made the mistake claiming to know my own thinking on the matter. Naughty you.

    #209 HJ
    Here, you say that there are more than two partitions for human beings, the third being that ~1%.

    Already answered this point, but since you appear not to have read it, here it is again: intersex states are not themselves sexes. They are genotypes or phenotypes which do not fit the definition of either male or female, and are atypical presentations resulting from e.g. genetic mutation.

  204. says

    @219, still that guy going on and on

    Not only have I actually communicated with trans people on exactly this

    Sure you have. Of course, here in this thread, there’s a bunch of trans people all telling you to stop what you’re doing and get back in your lane. But are you?

    Nope. Just listing off your anthropological discoveries as proof of your correctness. i.e. EXACTLY the behavior I described in my last post. Puffing on your pipe and explaining how you, the Science Man, are better at understanding these issues than everyone else.

    It’s a long-shot, but maybe this will get through: NITPICKING SEMANTICS IN RESPONSE TO PEOPLE’S LIVED TRAUMA IS NOT OKAY, NOT SCIENTIFIC, IN FACT IS A CATEGORY ERROR.

    Just STOP. You’re being told you’re doing harm, and you are choosing to be too ignorant to understand the harm in question. See Crip Dyke at #217 for a good list of the many many ways your assertion that “gendering isn’t happening, just sexing” is incorrect – it’s wrong as well, because of doing harm. See the various outright TERFs above that for examples of how your wrongheaded ideas contribute to hateful, dangerous claims about trans people.

  205. says

    intersex states are not themselves sexes. They are genotypes or phenotypes which do not fit the definition of either male or female, and are atypical presentations resulting from e.g. genetic mutation.

    “Those aren’t sexes, because I say they’re not.”

    This is a literal TERF talking point and also the justification used for performing unnecessary surgery on intersex infants. It’t choosing a definition that does not cover all the real world cases, then trying to force reality to fit the theory instead of the other way around. Counterfactual in the way bigot praxis always is.

    IF your response to this begins “I’m not a bigot…”, Holms, how about considering why then you’re arguing exactly like them.

  206. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know what I love about conservatives? Well, nothing, really. But they can sure be entertaining–like when they insist there are only two real genders, while at the same time saying about a guy who speaks with a lisp or doesn’t have enough blood in his beard, “He’s not a real man,” or about a woman, “She’s not very lady-like.”
    Now, I presume that when they make these comments, they are not suggesting that said individuals do not possess the appropriate naughty bits for their presumed sex, so doesn’t this suggest that they secretly know that there is more to human sexual identity than said bits? Enquiring minds want to know.

  207. Hj Hornbeck says

    Holms @219:

    intersex states are not themselves sexes. They are genotypes or phenotypes which do not fit the definition of either male or female, and are atypical presentations resulting from e.g. genetic mutation.

    Got it, intersex people aren’t human. They (usually) can’t own drivers licenses, (usually) can’t fill out their taxes, and are therefore non-citizens.

  208. Hj Hornbeck says

    John Morales @210:

    I have some sympathy for Holm’s position; I see a lot of conflation between sex and gender in this discussion, from both perspectives.

    The concept of gender was invented to separate biological difference from behavioural difference. But can you tell me if a behaviour was biologically motivated or not? If I dress up to go out, is that due to biological imperatives to attract high-quality mates, or social influences which say I should have a minimum acceptable appearance to maintain my social links? If we don’t have a way to separate biology from behaviour, we have no way to separate sex from gender and no justification for treating them separately. Hence why I conflate the two constantly.

    Hj, Perhaps a bimodal probability density function, very different means but similar deviation.

    i used to think that way, but after I studied up on genes, hormones, and human anatomy I gave up the “bimodal” part. We live in a world where babies are operated on to “fix” their non-conforming genitals. We don’t know the true spectrum of human development, so we’re not in a place to assess how many modes it has.

  209. says

    Holms:

    intersex states are not themselves sexes. They are genotypes or phenotypes which do not fit the definition of either male or female…

    So? If we’re discussing whether intersex people deserve their own category, this seems to argue against your point. If they don’t fit into either male or female, then how can you also argue that there’s no third option? They’re right there! If they’re not A and not B, then how can you tell me there’s no C?

    …and are atypical presentations resulting from e.g. genetic mutation.

    So, we’re back to: How atypical does something have to be before you can just ignore it? Red hair is atypical. Is red a hair color?

  210. Holms says

    #210 Morales
    Hj, Perhaps a bimodal probability density function, very different means but similar deviation.

    Apparently, I don’t have the mathematical terminology to classify it accurately. What I mean is, there is a powerful bias in human development which sends about 99% of all people into one of two classes. I think it reasonable to call this a pattern, and one with two outcomes. The remaining 1% are subversions of the pattern. Their existence does not mean that the pattern does not exist, nor does it mean the pattern is no longer binary in outcome, as they are outside the pattern.

    #211 Rob
    It’s hard for me to have any sympathy for a “position” which “asks questions” about “highly hypothetical situations”.

    Oh my god, you too? For my part, I thought you had raised an interesting point worthy of exploration. How naughty of me to think that.

    #212 rq
    If the OB just noted [male symbol] or [female symbol] as a representation of the particular observed genitalia of a baby, then yes, you could say that what happens is ‘sexing’.

    The comment of mine that kicked this whole thing off was in fact concerned very narrowly with the act of observing sex at birth, and not with whatever follows. And In my experience, the OB notes male or female, or even simpler M or F. My birth certificate for example only says male, i.e. it is limited to listing my sex.

    However, this is presented to the parents as ‘it’s a girl!’ or ‘it’s a boy!’ (unless someone here has experience with the OB saying ‘has a penis’/’has labia’ in lieu?), where the terms ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ are not merely denoters of observed sex, but are gendered as all fuck.

    Boy and girl mean sub-adult human male / female respectively.

    #215 Morales
    Or, paraphrasing:
    Holms: It’s sexing via observation!
    PZ: I dispute that. It’s not gendering, it’s sexing via observation!

    Yes, I found that response odd too.

    #217 Crip
    Not only observation is happening: there is categorization happening. Looking “close enough” is sufficient for the delivery assistant’s purposes. No imaging, karyotyping, or other tests are run. No definition of “sex” is used other than expectations for the rough outline of the external genitalia.

    …And this process is called: sexing. Seriously, that’s exactly what PZ does with his spiders: an observation of their external morphology, with no internal testing whatsoever. That’s what sexing is.

    Why does the delivery assistant say, “It’s a boy!” instead of something like, “The genitals on this child are anatomically male at first glance!”

    Are you seated? Good.
    Those statements are equivalent.

    #218 anat
    I don’t know when gender became standard info to enter on birth certificates, but I read recently that until the late 1970s US passports did not list gender, and it became a requirement at that time in response to dress styles becoming less gender-specific (ie too many women wearing pants, whatever should we do?).

    They actually list sex, or at least Australian ones do; perhaps they use the word gender wherever you are. However, your use of the word gender here only shows how heavily conflated the words have become. Certainly, the vast majority of people do not regularly read up on the subject of sex vs. gender, and use them interchangeably.

    BTW regarding announcing the newborn’s gender – in Israeli hospitals apparently the common formula translates as ‘you have a daughter/son’. Even more obviously on the social rather than merely biological/medical scale.

    Sigh. Daughter/son mean female/male offspring.

    #220 abbeycadabra
    Sure you have.

    Yes, I have.

    Of course, here in this thread, there’s a bunch of trans people all telling you to stop what you’re doing and get back in your lane. But are you?

    And elsewhere, in other conversations, I have been told differently by trans people who, plainly, do not agree with your thinking on this matter. I guess your only recourse to that is to declare wrong all trans people who disagree with you, or declare me a liar. But what does that say about you?

    Nope. Just listing off your anthropological discoveries as proof of your correctness.

    Conversations. I have conversed with trans people other than yourself. Trans people are not a hive mind as you well know, and this means there are differences of thought. Telling me to believe you because you are trans flies in the face of those other trans people, and is also mind blind.

    #222 a_ray
    You know what I love about conservatives? Well, nothing, really. But they can sure be entertaining–like when they insist there are only two real genders, while at the same time saying about a guy who speaks with a lisp or doesn’t have enough blood in his beard, “He’s not a real man,” or about a woman, “She’s not very lady-like.”

    Fascinating! However, I haven’t the faintest idea why you bring this up given that I have not seen anyone make those claims in this thread.

    #223 HJ
    Got it, intersex people aren’t human.

    Are you being obtuse deliberately, or is it your natural state?

  211. says

    @226, sadistic asshole

    Why does the delivery assistant say, “It’s a boy!” instead of something like, “The genitals on this child are anatomically male at first glance!”

    Are you seated? Good.
    Those statements are equivalent.

    Now the transphobia is officially on display and no longer couched in slippery language.

    No those statements are fucking NOT equivalent, without the assumption that trans and intersex people do not exist. in order to insist that “presence of penis” and “is a boy” are identical, you MUST be denying the existence of trans girls. That is the only logical followup. “It’s a boy” does not mean the same as “There is a 98% probability it’s a boy”.

    Also the asshole disingenuously claimed I am speaking for everyone when I explicitly pointed out MULTIPLE TRANS PEOPLE IN THIS THREAD all telling him to shut his bigotry-hole.

    Everything I said about you has been borne out by this response, Holms, and by Christ I wish there was a block feature in WordPress. Smug self-satisfied antiscientific abuse like yours I get enough every day without getting it at FtB too.

  212. says

    @Holms, that was an amazing own goal. After incessantly pestering this topic with how sexing an infant is not the same as gendering you are now admitting that to your mind gendering and sexing are the same thing.

    From experience, it happens a lot with people who think that because we have x words for x categories of something, that there ARE only x categories of said thing.

    There is plenty of ways to try to explain these things to someone who is clueless and fumbling but arguing in good faith (everyone is that person at some point in their life somewhere about something), but you are not doing that. You are just being an asshole to trans people here by insisting you know better than them. Guess what, by your own argument you are wrong. You admit that trans people are not unanimously united on these issues yet somehow, mysteriously, in your mind the trans people whose take is the correct one are those who do not dispute status quo. How peculiar. Not.

    Have I said you are behaving as an asshole? I have. It bears repeating. You are behaving as an asshole.

  213. John Morales says

    abbeycadabra, Charly. Maybe, maybe not (re Holm’s imputed beliefs) — seems a touch uncharitable to me, but then I don’t have the same sensitivity. After all, you were right about OB under (arguably) similar circumstances.

    No those statements are fucking NOT equivalent […]

    It would help if Holms clarified whether the intended sentiment was (see below) that they’re equivalent in the sense that they are seen as the same by society at large, rather than that they literally refer to the same thing.

    After incessantly pestering this topic with how sexing an infant is not the same as gendering you are now admitting that to your mind gendering and sexing are the same thing.

    Maybe not. As I wrote above, perhaps the sentiment being expressed is that the two are basically seen as the same by society at large, so whether the report is “It’s a girl” or “The neonate has a vulva”, it’s perceived as the same thing.

    Obs, it’s ridiculous to think a neonate has a gender identity. Apparently, that typically takes a couple of years. Which means that in order for someone to believe a neonate has been gendered (rather than sexed), they must believe a neonate can actually have a gender.

    I write this bearing in mind that this is all an intellectual exercise for me and also being aware of the distress many trans people feel when their very nature and existence is thus discussed.
    (cf. Allison and Sophie Jane above)

    Still, lots of cis readers here, and if not here, then where? I don’t belong in trans spaces.

  214. Tethys says

    I seem to remember the event in question as the second time that OB made objectionable remarks about Trans people, and it blew up in her face, with many people who using the T-dome as the place to educate/fight to the death/vent their anger after she closed her own post to commenting. Apparently she took her terf-ball and is still running away with it?

    Holms

    What I mean is, there is a powerful bias in human development which sends about 99% of all people into one of two classes. I think it reasonable to call this a pattern, and one with two outcomes. The remaining 1% are subversions of the pattern. Their existence does not mean that the pattern does not exist, nor does it mean the pattern is no longer binary in outcome, as they are outside the pattern.

    Would you appreciate a comment that defined you as either a subversion, or outside this pattern? Your own word choices betray the powerful bias, which has little to do with human development, and is entirely based in an erroneous division of human gender as bimodal. Being born intersex is not at all rare or even particularly unusual at appx 1 in 1000 births. This is not a perfect overlap with the trans portion of humanity, but that is a significant portion of people who you just erased as “subversions”. (major side-eye for that insulting term, in case that isn’t clear) Biological reality allows for multiple categories that are on a spectrum between the two basic configurations known as male and female. Human personalities are more diverse than their reproductive organs.

    Claiming at great length that your imaginary pattern of two possible gender outcomes is somehow the logical position, to trans people, is some extra special shamelessly entitled cluelessness.

  215. Tethys says

    CD

    Why does the delivery assistant check the genitals anyway? What purpose does it serve? What priority does that have? Why is this an important step in the post-delivery process?

    Not to detract from your overall point, but it is impossible not to notice the genitals of a newborn. They are usually very swollen and engorged from all the mothers hormones. It is rather alarming the first time you see it.

  216. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Holms,
    The point is that sexuality–especially human sexuality–is far more complicated than simple anatomy or chromosomes. You cannot deal with the subject of sexuality without considering how it manifests itself in terms of behaviors, desires, identity… You can try to oversimplify things by insisting on “gender” to describe all the complicated stuff and try to preserve the simple dichotomy of male/female. However, those are just words, and the model they describe doesn’t describe the phenomena very well. The complexity is inherent. The model should reflect that.

  217. says

    @230 Tethys

    “You’re a subversion,” says Holms. “Nature has a simple pattern, and you are a deviation, your nature is proof of genetic damage. Also, the other subversions I spoke to agree with me. I see you are getting angry – well that’s what deviants do, doesn’t make me less obviously correct.” Holms puffs his pipe smugly, already in his Graham Linehan cosplay.

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