Arguments are closed, I’m not going to argue with anyone about trans rights


There’s a lot in this video about hypocrisy in the secular community that I can relate to. It’s a good summary of the recent Deep Rift, prompted by the way certain members of the Atheist Community of Austin rallied behind a vocal transphobe, ejected the more progressive members in their ranks, and then took over the organization. One of the more rational people who spoke out against that transphobe goes by the name Essence of Thought, and they’ve been targeted for all kinds of shenanigans.

One of the more outrageous events was when a person they had blocked started urging her followers to dun EoT with demands that they pay attention to her…and when they responded, immediately accused EoT of harassing her. I got attempts to drag me into that; I had quietly blocked several of the more vocal haters myself, and I suddenly was getting all kinds of messages from other people, saying “Why did you block X and Y? You should unblock them!”

No. Just no. When I block people on social media, it’s because of what they say to me, or what I’ve witnessed them saying to other people. That X and Y were nice to you doesn’t invalidate the behavior I’ve seen that makes them undesirable to me. Don’t order people to respond to the assholes they’ve cut out of their media to make the experience more pleasant; you don’t get to tell me how to manage my feed. You especially don’t give me instructions in order to enable unpleasant people to harass others.

I don’t know Rachel Oates. I haven’t watched her videos or followed her on social media. She may be intelligent and informative on many topics, and she may be perfectly pleasant to you, but her activity in this episode tells me I don’t want to get tangled up in her machinations, especially where they involve her support for ugly transphobic people. I’ve pre-emptively blocked her, too.

I suspect I will now receive all kinds of messages telling me how nice and smart she is, and how unfair I am to not listen to her side of the story. Don’t. I don’t care. There are millions of people out there who aren’t entangled in anti-trans bigotry, and I’d rather be friends with them. I’m going to take EoT’s side in this saga, and have seen enough evidence of the behavior of the other side that I’d rather not be associated with them further.

Trans rights are human rights. There’s no nuance necessary in that statement, and I don’t need to hear from people trying to nibble around the edges with “but…” or “except…” stories.

Comments

  1. chrislawson says

    ‘You haven’t heard their side of the story!’

    Except we have. Over and over. Their side of the story is crude chromosomal essentialism bolted onto anti-humanism and the only thing that ever changes is the phrasing.

  2. jack16 says

    PZ,
    Greatly appreciate your “filtering”.

    If you like humor in mistakes, (irrelevant suggestion), I recommend “Anguished English” by Richard Lederer.
    jack16

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Hj Hornbeck has more on the Austin story here (you’ll need to follow the links there to get a more coherent story).

    Short version: sordid mess.

  4. Susan Montgomery says

    @2 Of course we have. And that’s the point. A stalemate always counts as a win for the status quo.

  5. says

    The chromosomes that matter are: human.

    The only way to avoid universal human rights is to dehumanize someone. And fuck anyone who wants to do that.

    No movement, no heroes.

  6. Allison says

    Maybe I’m naive (I don’t do “social media”), but since when is it any business of anybody else who you block or don’t block?

    My inclination, if I got communications from someone (“A”) telling me to stop blocking someone else (“B”), would be to tell A off and then block them, utterly irrespective of why I blocked B. (Assuming that I actually were willing to invest the time to do “social media.”) IM-not-so-HO, I get to block anybody for any reason or no reason at all, whether it’s because I think they’re a blight on the human species or because I don’t like how the “k” in their name renders on my computer.

    If I were on “social media,” and had blocked someone, the only thing that might make me consider unblocking them would be if people I trust gave me good reason to believe I was missing out on something by not reading what they write.

    I guess that’s the sort of thing that makes me ill-suited to “social media.”

    P.S.: is there a way to block someone so that they don’t know they’ve been blocked?

  7. says

    I have a political routine for this issue, but it can always use some improvement.

    My current strategy with respect to this behavior is whenever anyone expresses negative feelings about trans people (or women, female people, racial/ethnic groups, differently abled…) in public spaces I investigate it. I do so with the explicit purpose of seeing if there’s a reasonable basis for the negative feeling(s). And I do this with the explicit purpose of telling the difference between rational and irrational negative feelings.

    At this point most people are reacting negatively to what is a reasonable concern in a bigoted society. Where they were interested in discussing an issue, suddenly they aren’t when it comes to a bidirectional investigation of social threat. And I’m very interested in any data they’ve encountered, which is usually not data and is instead assertions about “obvious” things when it comes to humans, sex and gender.

    In my experience the “obvious” doesn’t manifest from such people. On occasions where it does I’ve not seen the assertions stand up (Hj Hornbeck has lots). Either anecdotes are used to imply things they can’t, or we don’t actually know what is claimed we know, or alternative hypotheses about human developmental plasticity are completely ignored for stories we tell ourselves.

    A general normalized social habit of challenging such negative feelings seems useful so far. It even seems like a variant of “think of the children” when cis-men are doing a “”think of the women” to prevent critical thinking about their negative feelings.

  8. microraptor says

    Allison @9:

    Maybe I’m naive (I don’t do “social media”), but since when is it any business of anybody else who you block or don’t block?

    Because blocking people on social media is an infringement of their freeze peach, doncha know?

  9. gijoel says

    @9 Because a lot of these arse hats feel that frreeze peach involves standing on the necks of critics until said critics agree with them. They’re not trolls in the traditional sense. They want attention, but they want you to shut up and agree with them even more.

    I hope this is coherent as I’m down about five or six hours sleep.

  10. ardipithecus says

    All human rights are the rights of the most powerless; the most marginalized. If they don’t enjoy the right, then it isn’t a right, it is just a privilege.

  11. loveslogantoomuch says

    PZ, it is one thing to say that trans rights are human rights. It is another thing entirely to say that each and every demand made by someone who is transgendered is a reasonable demand. And that, I think, is the disconnect, at least some of the time. Not all of the demands being made by transgendered people are reasonable demands, and not everyone who says, “That’s not a reasonable demand” is a transphobic bigot.

  12. says

    #15: No, we’re not going to argue about this here. The only demands I hear from trans folks are demands to treat them exactly as we do other human beings.

  13. Susan Montgomery says

    @15 I’m not sure I like the framing that the use of the word “demands” implies, but we’ll park that for a moment. What do you consider unreasonable? And what are your reasons?

  14. kome says

    I was recently made aware of the parable of The Racist Tree, which can be found at this link: https://lardcave.net/text/the_racist_tree.html

    At some point, ostracizing assholes has to be on the table for how to deal with assholes. Fuck the tone police, fuck calls for rational debate, fuck all that. Transphobes can go fuck themselves sideways with a rake and anyone with a platform should not entertain the absurd notion that transphobic ideas have any merit – moral, intellectual, or other.

  15. says

    @15 loveslogantoomuch

    If you don’t even know that it’s an insult to refer to trans people as “trangendered”, then there is a serious question raised as to whether you have any idea at all what “the demands being made by [trans] people” in fact are. It is a dog whistle that strongly implies you have gotten your information from transphobic sources.

    (Have we even seen this account before or is it yet another that was created solely to start a fight about trans people?)

  16. loveslogantoomuch says

    No. 22, this is not another account created to solely start a fight about trans people. This is a long time lurker (five plus years) who finally decided to participate in a discussion, only to have PZ say he doesn’t want a discussion. OK. So I will briefly respond to the two comments directed at me and then not discuss it any further.

    Susan, No. 17, I’m talking about female-identified persons with penises telling lesbians that they are transphobic bigots unless they are willing to consider having sex with persons with penises. Or a female-identified person with a penis suing women who don’t want to wax their male genitals. The fact is,someone who isn’t transgender who tried that shit would be shut down in a heartbeat, and those demands are no more reasonable coming from someone who is transgender.

    And PZ, I respect you a lot; I really do, but on this issue, with respect,. you are part of the problem. The fact that you won’t even entertain the possibility that a trans person’s demands could be unreasonable is part of the reason trans people are getting pushback. Sure, some of it really is transphobic bigotry. But as someone who really does support trans rights, I really wish some trans people wouldn’t insist on giving the other side so much ammunition.

    OK, that’s it. I’m done. This will be my last comment on this thread.

  17. says

    Really? It’s offensive to use the full term but not the shortened?
    I rarely comment here (in fact, I think it’s been since about 2019…) because things just get too ridiculous. It’s worth checking in occasionally though for the news I just can’t get from other sources. As well as sometimes getting to laugh at foolishness. How many of you casting judgement are actually trans or have trans family? Likely not more than one or two- the rest of you are just revelling in your self-righteous indignation. Well, in support of my youngest child and two of the few people I’ve cared enough to keep in my life for over a quarter century- Get over yourselves. Trans people and their families don’t need a bunch of wannabees who are only trying to make themselves feel better at the expense of others feelings butting into everyone elses lives.
    Don’t worry, I’m not going to stay and argue with anyone. I also fully expect to have my comments stricken from the record, probably within moments. Go ahead- block and ban me since that’s the usual reaction to dissenting voices here. In defense of my loved ones though, be aware that you do not speak for them or me.

  18. says

    Oh look, utterly unsupported scare mongering about trans women and lesbians. It’s been revealing what people are willing to pass along without thinking they have an obligation to demonstrate. I would have thought that the community that questioned how gays were going to destroy marriage would be better than this but…

  19. Susan Montgomery says

    @24 I should have known this would come up. Okay, your first point is based entirely on ignorance. There’s another regular here who has written a long and detailed essay on what the “Cotton Ceiling” is. I’m sure someone will link it. Suffice it to say that it is not what you’re thinking it is. No one – no one who is in any position to speak for transpeople in general, no one involved in influencing public policy, no one, in short, who matters – says that anyone should have sex with anyone they don’t want to.

    As to your second point, the fact that’s she’s trans is kinda the point. It’s a broader matter regarding discrimination in public accommodations that just unfortunately has to do with intimate waxing.

  20. Susan Montgomery says

    Oh, and to at least try to respect PZ’s wishes I am writing nothing further here.

  21. anat says

    Id Dweller @25

    Really? It’s offensive to use the full term but not the shortened?

    Trans is short for transgender, not transgendered. The latter has the implication that something or someone external made transgender people who they are, that being transgender isn’t simply the way some people are. Thus it is not offensive to use the correct full term, not the misleading one. (FYI my son is transgender, and distrusts people who use the ‘ed’ form.)

  22. Hj Hornbeck says

    Susan Montgomery @27:

    There’s another regular here who has written a long and detailed essay on what the “Cotton Ceiling” is. I’m sure someone will link it.

    I’m not sure who that regular is, but whenever I want a refresher I turn to Natalie Reed’s essay on the subject.

  23. dangerousbeans says

    @PZ
    Thank you. Its always nice to see people in your position supporting us and paying some attention to what’s happening with trans rights
    So often people claim to be supportive, but don’t actually think about it and end up parroting transphobe talking points in a mealy mouthed effort to avoid controversy and taking a clear position

  24. microraptor says

    loveslogantoomuch @24: If you’ve truly lurked here for any amount of time then you ought to be well aware that this is a blog, not a forum and PZ does not invite discussion on some subjects, especially not with people who have no history on this site and try to pop up with a case of butwhataboutism.

  25. says

    @24

    No. 22, this is not another account created to solely start a fight about trans people. This is a long time lurker (five plus years) who finally decided to participate … female-identified persons with penises

    Okay, this actually is a textbook example of someone creating an account solely to bitch about trans people.

    But as someone who really does support trans rights

    No, you don’t. You OBVIOUSLY don’t. Your whole posts are pure uncut transphobia, and – per your claim – you didn’t even bother commenting here at all until PZ posted this unequivocal full-throated support for trans people… which is to say your ENTIRE motivation for posting was being angry about trans women having an ally.

    We’re not fooled, and you are a bigot.

    @25

    Really? It’s offensive to use the full term but not the shortened?

    “Transgendered” is offensive. It is also not what “trans” is short for. The full term is “transgender”, which is cumbersome but not generally regarded as offensive.

    How many of you casting judgement are actually trans or have trans family?

    The one you’re directly demonstrating your whiny mocking ignorance at for one. Sounds like your ‘loved ones’ are doing their best to tolerate their bigot uncle, it’s common around this time of year.

    Get to fuСk.

  26. says

    @24

    No. 22, this is not another account created to solely start a fight about trans people. This is a long time lurker (five plus years) who finally decided to participate … female-identified persons with penises

    Okay, this actually is a textbook example of someone creating an account solely to whine about trans people.

    But as someone who really does support trans rights

    No, you don’t. You OBVIOUSLY don’t. Your whole posts are pure uncut transphobia, and – per your claim – you didn’t even bother commenting here at all until PZ posted this unequivocal full-throated support for trans people… which is to say your ENTIRE motivation for posting was being angry about trans women having an ally.

    We’re not fooled, and you are a bigot.

    @25

    Really? It’s offensive to use the full term but not the shortened?

    “Transgendered” is offensive. It is also not what “trans” is short for. The full term is “transgender”, which is cumbersome but not generally regarded as offensive.

    How many of you casting judgement are actually trans or have trans family?

    The one you’re directly demonstrating your whiny mocking ignorance at for one. Sounds like your ‘loved ones’ are doing their best to tolerate their bigot uncle, it’s common around this time of year.

    Get to fuСk.

  27. says

    I freely admit that I just don’t “get” the whole deal with transgender. The notion that I might feel my body to be somehow wrong, on a fundamental personal level, is not one that comes easily (or at all, in most circumstances) to me.

    But I don’t have to “get” the whole deal. I don’t have to, any more than I have to “get” the reasons why some people actually like okra, to name just one other issue on which my attitude is best described as “I have no idea how anyone could come to that conclusion”. All I have to do is leave the okra-likers to themselves, liking okra, and not get all self-righteous about the fact that they like something I kinda can’t stand. The analogy with transgender is left as an exercise for the reader.

  28. chrislawson says

    Id Dweller@25–

    You say you lurk here from time to time so you should already know that there are several commenters here who have identified as trans. I imagine there are several more who have not identified themselves. I am not trans but I have two adult children, one of whom is trans and the other is non-binary. I also work with trans people and their families. So your complaint about nobody here having experience with trans issues is nothing more than a noxious handwave intended to dismiss people, and in the process you have denied the real, lived experiences of people here just because you don’t want to listen to what they have to say.

    Here’s one more thing you’re not going to like: I find it difficult to believe you. You to refuse to accept the preferred terms created by trans people. In fact, you are angry about it. Doesn’t sound very supportive to me. Worse, you think that trans people don’t need others ‘butting into their lives’ by supporting the rights that trans activists are fighting for. The bigots of this world are discriminating against trans people in employment and housing, denying medical support, banning trans people from the armed forces, trying to criminalise trans people using the bathrooms of their identified gender, and not to put too fine a point on it, murdering dozens of trans people every year. But what steams you up is bloggers blocking transphobic comments and people using inclusive language.

    How do you expect to be taken seriously as a supporter when you get all bile-flecked over being asked to drop ‘transgendered’ for ‘transgender’ or better yet ‘trans’? Even if you don’t think the change is linguistically meaningful, the fact it it drives you to a fury to be asked to drop an ‘-ed’ suffix shows that you prioritise your trivial linguistic preferences over the choices of a severely oppressed minority.

    I accept that you have a trans child and that you care for them. But that doesn’t automatically make you supportive of their identity or the wider trans rights movement. I think that you would do yourself and your child a world of good if you looked more into these issues without the reflexive dismissiveness. You don’t have to accept everything every trans activist says (in fact you can’t because trans activists have disagreements among themselves), but I don’t see how you can help your child develop a healthy self-image if you get infuriated by simple, courteous language preferences. Internalised self-hatred is very real.

  29. says

    For the offended – Keep railing against straw men. You’ve attempted to put words into my mouth that I neither said nor implied. Thank You for proving what kind of people you are.

  30. chrislawson says

    Id Dweller@40–

    I take back any conciliatory comments in my previous response. You are now directly lying about what you said earlier. You’re not interested in trans rights. You’re only interested in trolling.

  31. says

    By the way…the two comments above are the only times Id Dweller has ever commented here. It’s telling what subjects are enough to bring out the trolls.

  32. Muz says

    This thing is going to go round and round. There’s plenty of wood chopping equipment to sharpen around EOTs online persona. Or at least that’s my impression. It’ll be interesting to see what they say about all this. It probably won’t be pretty.

    The meta to all this, from the start actually, is the larger debate about the level of responsibility an online personality must shoulder for their fans. And this is really interesting in ethics and ettiquette terms.
    The initial problem was at least exacerbated by the perception that having Woodford on the Atheist Experience and the ensuing controversy summoned his supporters and fans to attack the show and generally be transphobic in its social media. That influx and the sloppy reaction to it caused the mods to drop out and the whole thing goes from there. But I’d say that added heat also polarises the argument further, since now anyone supporting Woodford (or even not condemning him) seems tacitly in support of what his presence hath wrought on the ACA to some folks.

    Since then we’ve had EoT as the chief critic, using very strong terms about Woodford’s character. Such condemnations are seen as calling forth the angry trans allies of the internet to attack Woodford and anyone associated with him.
    Rachael Oates tries to defend Woodford’s character, if not the entirety of his video content, and gets attention along these lines too. She beefs with EoT. The stress gets to her and however one might characterise it, EoT gets the blame for what happens next. Thus EoT feels that Oats is directing her fans to come and harass them.

    This is a pretty common refrain in internet drama of the last few years. If there is a fight and if a lot of negative, critical attention is directed toward someone (even criticism that stops short of obvious harassment) the internet identities are usually outright accused of marshalling their fans to attack the person they are disagreeing with. This happens whether the person never said any such thing, or even explicitly tells their viewers not to do anything. It kind of happens anyway, especially if viewers think the other person is wrong.

    What happens from time to time is people argue that by even broaching a subject, calling attention to something, or vociferously disagreeing about something -simply by the nature of internet behaviour that is tantamount to calling an attack on someone or some group.

    I’m not talking about commentators “Just Asking Questions” about if white people are being replaced tending to contribute racist and xenophobic attacks or similar things. The effect can be seen with people talking about virtually anything or anyone, but particularly around hot button issues, moral and ethical questions etc.

    In this particular situation I wager none of the people involved consider themselves responsible for anything their seeming supporters and sympathisers did to the others (especially the bad stuff). But we can see that some, maybe all of them, blame the others for the heat and harassment they got from those other people’s fans and supporters.

    It has become one of the main causes of tension in online disgreements generally, I find. Wherever you find a big fight you find this phenomenon. (Or at least that’s my current bias since I’ve really started looking out for it)

  33. VolcanoMan says

    Honest question: can someone be wrong re: trans rights without being bigoted against trans people? Because Woodford is absolutely wrong…and his videos did harm. Still…he’s learning. We’re all learning. Almost no cis people are initially used to, or comfortable with the idea of trans, because it’s beyond our experience. But then it’s not. And then we learn, and our perspective changes from: “as long as they’re not hurting anyone, they can identify as whatever they want” (which is undeniably transphobic) to “trans women are women, trans men are men, and there’s nothing more to be said here.” I went through this process, and so did most of us.

    But most of all, while Woodford isn’t there yet, and though he did some regrettable things (some of which he’s apologised for), he’s not the main topic of this conversation. Rachel Oates has nothing to do with this. She did not endorse anything Woodford said. She merely expressed support for a friend. Irrespective of her relative intelligence, empathy or kindness, she suffered because she did something decidedly morally neutral. I’m not blaming EoT for what happened to Oates, nor am I blaming Oates for what happened to EoT. But isn’t it obvious that the problem isn’t either…that the problem is the culture of the internet, of social media, whereby anyone who has any following at all has thousands of followers with whom they have parasocial relationships, each one of which may act on the person’s behalf, whether they want it or not?

    Like Muz (@49) said, this seems to be the defining characteristic of tension in online disagreements: do you hold a person with an audience accountable for the behavior of that audience? And additionally, if you maintain a friendship with someone with problematic views (despite never having expressed agreement with these views), are you “guilty by association?”

    I almost chose not to comment here because of how fraught these conversations can get. But I think it’s worth it to examine the societal implications of the new social media realities. I do not support Woodford (and agree that he is currently a transphobe of the highest order), but I understand the process he’s going through. I myself was once questioning the fairness of tran women being allowed to compete with AFAB in sporting events…in the end though, I realized that I didn’t really care about this because I wanted these events to be fair; I was just incapable of accepting the woman-ness of the trans athletes. I was wrong, and I was a transphobe, and I can see that now. There is a great deal of fluidity between the things we call women and men, and we draw this line between the two, neglecting to consider the millions of people who don’t fit into the category we placed them into at birth. The problem isn’t the trans people, it’s the rigidity of the categories, and the mechanisms used to police them. Like seriously…using testosterone as a proxy for whether someone is a woman or not!? Truly idiotic, given the massive ranges thereof amongst AFAB individuals.

    Anyway, sorry for the essay…but I do think that we can learn something from this whole debacle. Social media relies on exploiting the worst tribalistic impulses we have, and we need to come to terms with this reality and find a way to counteract it.

  34. VolcanoMan says

    Indeed.

    But the swarm is also a problem, because if we’re all grouping ourselves into little categories, and a person we respect criticizes someone…or even just shows that they were the victim of another person’s swarm, there is a reactionary tendency here to defend those who we support. It is possible to resist this, to accept that people are complicated, and that no good comes from piling on when no offense has even been committed. Woodford is a transphobe (literally, afraid of, and perhaps lacking understanding of, and empathy towards trans people). Oates is not, as far as I can tell. But by virtue of being Woodford’s friend, she got hurt. And in turn, her followers caused harm of their own. These swarms cause real harm to good people, people who are legitimate allies. Maybe not as much harm as a trans person suffers due to their very identity…but harm nonetheless. How are we to win this war, to see social justice elevated at all levels (from interpersonal to governmental) if reactionary, tribal tendencies continue to rear their ugly head?

  35. says

    @VolcanoMan:

    Honest question: can someone be wrong re: trans rights without being bigoted against trans people? Because Woodford is absolutely wrong…and his videos did harm. Still…he’s learning. We’re all learning.

    Well, your question can have multiple interpretations. There are many factual questions about trans* rights about which someone can be wrong or right. In Canadian law there are specific rights and someone can accurately describe them or inaccurately describe them. In that sense someone can be “wrong re: trans rights”.

    But another interpretation of your question is this, “Can someone oppose equal rights for trans* persons without being bigoted about trans* people?” And in this case I think the answer is no1.

    But wait! Does that mean that someone is an inherently bad person? Is opposing trans* rights a sign of irredeemable evil? No, of course not, but many people mistakenly believe that there’s no difference between being described as holding bigoted beliefs and being accused of irredeemable evil. That position is not logical (if trans* advocates really believed it, why would we bother to advocate for social change? Society is made up of individuals and the individuals, in this hypothetical, are assumed to be unable to change), but it is commonly held by people on the conservative and/or regressive sides of political arguments over human rights (not just trans* rights).

    But what consequences does that hold for public argument? Is it reasonable to have spaces, such as this one, where the equal human value of trans* persons is not up for discussion? Of course.

    Is it reasonable to respond vociferously to certain arguments and by extension the people who make those arguments? Of course.

    Is it possible to be too vociferous, to be personally hurtful, even while you believe you are motivated by some goal that we can all agree is good (ending violence, promoting equal rights, etc.)? Yep.

    Should someone be immune from accountability just because one’s motive is good? Nope.

    But even if we agree on all those social implications, tribalism can still ruin an interchange. Different sides of a discussion will believe that only their side is well motivated. Many people will assume (as I said earlier) that a particular criticism of a particular argument is actually that personally hurtful speech I’ve mentioned, and not even redeemed in any way by a good motive.

    And so not only is disagreement inevitable, but tribalist disagreement is inevitable. We can reduce that over time, but we probably can’t eliminate it. We don’t have to (and shouldn’t) accept that tribalism, but neither should we refuse to stand up for our values out of fear of accusations of tribalism. It’s complex. It’s difficult. It would require a book for me to put forward my ideas about proper advocacy for social change (including when it’s okay to shout at someone – in internet comments or face to face), but I think the most important part of the immediate discussion is simply disambiguating being bigoted from being evil.

    You yourself have nodded toward this by describing yourself as previously bigoted, though I have to assume you didn’t see yourself then and don’t see your past self now as having been actually evil. So I have to ask this question:

    If one assumes that it’s not possible to be against equal human value and equal social and political rights for trans persons without being bigoted, which even if proven seems to be what the evidence makes most likely, is it possible to honestly and openly critique bigotry without being guilty of a social wrong and/or an interpersonal attack?

    I think the answer is and must be yes. We have to be free to say that someone is bigoted if we are going to reduce bigotry in the world.

  36. aspleen says

    IMNSHO, “trans rights are human rights” is merely a slogan which doesn’t help settle any argument. It’s just a bit of rhetoric that serves to shut down any discussion, which goes hand in hand with blocking people. To put it crudely, it’s a political dick move.

  37. Porivil Sorrens says

    @54
    Human rights aren’t something that should be up for debate. Blocking and socially isolating chuds is a good thing.

  38. yaque says

    ““trans rights are human rights” is merely a slogan which doesn’t help settle any argument”
    Wat.
    You’re saying that maybe they aren’t? Seriously? And that it should be a respectable position?
    There are people that argue that trans rights are not part of human rights.
    They don’t like being called bigoted.
    Tough.
    And … that argument is settled. Trans people are people. Done.

  39. says

    @A Spleen:

    Of course it’s “a bit of rhetoric”. But if saying “trans rights are human rights” is comparable to blocking someone from commenting on my blog or directing twitter messages to me, then it’s only a dick move in the sense that you not inviting me to your wedding is a dick move.

    Honestly, if you’re completely shut down by someone saying “Trans rights are human rights” then you have neither interesting political ideas nor any political courage. It’s hard to imagine what the public square loses when someone is shut down in terror by the idea that trans people might be human and that their rights might therefore be human rights, and that the rights of non-trans people might be bound up with the rights of trans people, ultimately granting everyone an interest in seeing that trans rights are respected.

  40. aspleen says

    To put it in terms of debate then, the phrase “trans rights are human rights” is what’s called a glittering generality, which sounds virtuous but gives no actual reasons for, well, I have no idea because no one here has actually bothered to list even one right that applies to trans people in particular. It’s not like it’s the right to vote, surely.

  41. says

    @A Spleen

    I have no idea because no one here has actually bothered to list even one right that applies to trans people in particular. It’s not like it’s the right to vote, surely.

    That’s the fucking point. It’s not that there’s any right that trans* people have that others do not. Thus trans rights are human rights. The trans* advocacy movement is not one for special rights unique to trans people. The trans advocacy movement is a response to the fact that the human rights that belong to all are violated more often when t he person attempting to exercise that right is transgender, transsexual, or otherwise sex/gender stigmatized by their society.

    Rights which are known to have been violated on account of trans* persons’ trans* status, experience, or appearance include:

    life
    employment
    housing
    health care
    public accommodation
    self-defense
    statutory benefits
    marriage,
    and, yes, the right to vote.

  42. says

    @VolcanoMan
    I don’t acknowledge an equivalence between a transphobic swarm suppressing someone for making a bigotry claim, and the swarm critisizing transphobia.

    Is it unpleasant for a group of people to claim one has a bad characteristic? Yes, but I don’t believe that it has the same impact that it does on a member of a marginalized group that has to deal with wondering who in society might want to murder them for stepping outside of the proscribed gender box.
    Not just a different impact, I also don’t think I actually saw a pro-trans swarm. Nothing with the level of threat and bigoted, violent characteristics. When the transphobia swarm started it includes other bigotries too since bigotry is irrational social dominance behavior. That’s not a characteristic of a “pro-trans swarm”.

    When I see Woodford and other transphobes get critisized for transphobia they get angry at people doing exactly what they’re doing, examining them as if they are a social threat. They critisize they act of describing and engaging with transphobia and they do not engage with the characteristics themselves. This is the gender version of “white fragility” and it’s time that segment of society learned to take criticism.

    It’s a mess, it includes things that feel bad, but I’m not going to pretend there’s an equivalence.

  43. aspleen says

    Then what are you advocating exactly for trans persons to have a right for, based on their particular status? I’m reminded of the phrase “black lives matter” and how the phrase “all lives matter” is not the same thing.

  44. says

    Also you still haven’t explained how refusing to read someone’s twitter feed is a “dick move”.

    If I don’t want your tweets appearing on my phone/computer, why the fuck is it a “dick move” to adjust my settings such that they don’t appear on my phone/computer?

    Exactly what right do you have to use my phone/computer to propagate your message if I don’t want you to use my equipment that way?

    The combination of your vasty entitlement being shocked at the horror and evil of someone choosing never to read your twitter wisdom combined with your insistence that some people might never ever be able to speak again on any topic related to sex or gender because they once heard the phrase “trans rights are human rights” very effectively communicates the image of a snowflake tantrum, but if that wasn’t your artistic intent, maybe you should rethink everything you’ve said here?

  45. says

    @aspleen
    Rhetoric has to do with effectiveness, things aren’t good or bad, right or wrong, correct or incorrect because they’re rhetoric.
    You left out how shuts down discussion and my first impulse would be to ask about the rights.

    Unless you left something out, you’ve given the impression that you flee from language with effectiveness of impact.

  46. Jazzlet says

    aspleen @#58
    The whole point is that all human rights apply to trans* people just as they apply to every other human. Why do you think that there should be particular right(s) tht apply to them?

  47. petesh says

    Oh, dear. People who deny or question or oppose trans* rights, including those who profess a “live and let live” distance, seem to push their annoyance outward, against those who assert or support such rights. In my personal experience, they would do much better to notice that annoyance and look inward. I did not realize my own issues until I worked closely with a person who happened to be trans* and, initially, felt uncomfortable.

    I have always been, in what is now old-fashioned language, a straight man. Living and working with girls and women was never much of a problem for me, they had been part of my life all along, as relatives and friends and co-workers (a few as lovers); so had gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. (Good liberal me.) But openly trans* folk were new to me. Once I noticed that I was uncomfortable, which didn’t take long, I was deeply ashamed. And annoyed with myself. Which led, of course, to self-education and a much more comfortable relationship with the universe. (Now, I’m perfect. Yeah, right.)

  48. says

    When people use objectifying language for a person or group, such as using the pronoun “it” to refer to human beings, they are literally dehumanizing them. This tactic has been used many times in many places to stigmatize people as other than and less than fully human and thus to communicate that the person or group has no human rights which others are bound to respect.

    There is a long history of treating trans* persons as less than humans.

    “Trans rights are human rights” is a direct contradiction of this bigoted and harmful assertion of less-than-human status.

    While the rights are not different, the excuses for violating the rights of trans persons are different than the excuses given for violating the rights of, say, muslims. As part of trans advocacy, you will find educational efforts that, for instance, seek to convince people that choosing to wear pants or lipstick is not a valid reason to deny basic human rights that should inhere to all. The particular content of the educational effort might vary from an educational effort that seeks respect for muslim human rights, which might instead teach that wearing the hijab is likewise not a valid reason to deny basic human rights.

    Trans rights are human rights is the underlying principle. The education might be trans* specific, and the context in which trans* rights are most likely to be violated might be more-or-less trans* specific, but the rights are the same.

    As for “Black lives matter” vs. “All lives matter” the reason that “all lives matter” gets (and deserves) resistance is because Black people aren’t treated like “all” people. Black men in particular have been stigmatized and criminalized, they’ve been made brutes in the popular media. While our social sins of that type are vastly reduced since, say, 1850, this was literally a centuries long project. As any scholar of the law will tell you, quite a number of laws were written specifically with Black behavior in mind. The only-recently eliminated sentencing disparity for possession of the same amounts of cocaine in different forms is just one such.

    When generalized cries for equality or generalized cries for respecting rights fail to correct a problem over a sufficiently long period of time, then there must be a specific cry for specific respect to counter act what is obviously (at that point) an entrenched social tendency.

    Police stop, search, arrest, and commit violence against Black people and people with certain disabilities at much higher rates than the general public. This is why you have thousands of Deaf persons trying like hell to be heard that simply not following a police officer’s instructions is not an excuse for violence. Likewise, you have Black persons saying, “Black lives matter”.

    These movements are necessary because the trends of disproportionate police responses – including violence – have not changed over the decades. The fact that we’re still talking about police beating up Deaf people for not following their instructions when the Deaf people couldn’t fucking hear those instructions more than 70 years after at least one legal case that I know of that criticized cops for doing this shows that we need Deaf-specific education even though the right to be free of police violence is not unique to Deaf persons.

    We’re not asking for special rights for Deaf persons, but asking for Deaf persons to have their rights equally respected. …However, it is not enough to simply ask police not to use violence unless necessary. If that non-specific approach worked, the problem of police attacks on Deaf persons would have been ended by now.

    Likewise, it is not enough to end the disparity in violent attacks on Black people to simply ask police not to use violence unless necessary without mentioning race.

    In this context, asserting “all lives matter” has the effect of undermining the race-conscious education work that a failure to change has proven necessary and replace it with a race-agnostic message that we know doesn’t work. Based on what we know, embracing this racially ignorant message will have the effect of not changing a damn thing. It’s no wonder that people who are actually in the street wanting change would take offense at people who take action to undermine their efforts.

    You can say that the people who are attempting to stigmatize “Black lives matter” and replace it with the anodyne, status quo friendly “all lives matter” might be ignorant of the fact that they’re undermining efforts to create needed change, change that will save lives.

    But the point isn’t whether or not those people are knowingly evil. We don’t give a fuck. We simply want the changes that save lives and protect rights. Making the discussion all about whether other people feel bad when they hear “Black lives matter” or “trans rights are human rights” (which is what you have done in this thread) helps no one. If you really care about “the discussion” or about free speech or whatever, the helpful thing that you could do would be to go to those other people and tell them that it’s not about them.

    With Black lives matter it’s about getting police to reduce violence generally, and to reduce violence against Black persons to whatever is the same, low level at which people are comfortable with police violence against middle-age white women. Then we’ll know that it’s the behavior, and not the race, that is spark for police violence and at least have a hope that cops are truly using only that violence which is truly necessary for defense of bystanders and the cops themselves.

    With trans rights are human rights, it’s about getting the fuckers who fire us, who deny us housing, who refuse to issue us food stamps, who deny us the ability to vote, and, yes, to kill us to cut that shit out.

    If you’re not doing that, then it’s not about you. If you are doing that, then you sure as hell need to hear that message, nu?

  49. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The folks who don’t understand the power of the simple sentence, “Trans rights are human rights,” simply haven’t understood it yet. This is because those of us who do not face challenges to our basic humanity every day are as oblivious to our privilege as a fish is oblivious to the water through which it swims.
    If I report my experience of my own sexuality as a white, straight, cis man, the most significant challenge I can expect is a question as to why I am stating the obvious. It is so obvious that it can form the basis for the introductory lines of a Jason Isbell’s “The Songs That She Sang in The Shower:”
    On a lark
    On a whim
    I said there’s two kinds of men in this world and you’re neither of them
    And his fist
    Cut the smoke
    I had an eighth of a second to wonder if he got the joke.

    Men literally feel entitled to resort to physical violence if someone challenges their manhood. Why in the hell would we think that the experience of others can be dismissed lightly? Using a person’s preferred pronoun and paying attention to their experience is simple courtesy. That they have to demand that basic human right and that so many feel free to deny that right–well, there’s the power of “Trans rights are human rights.”

  50. says

    Just to muddy the waters a little bit, there is bigotry on the left in “dogpile situations”. I see accusations that bigots are secretly gay, manipulation of someone’s fear of other orientations for political gain. I see name shaming, body shaming, non-literalisms with mental health references (idiot, crazy, schizophrenic…)…

    The left is better with overt bigotry and still struggles with the fact that bigotry involves errors in reasoning, irrational associations, problems involving group-individual associations…

  51. says

    CripDyke @59:

    Rights which are known to have been violated on account of trans* persons’ trans* status, experience, or appearance include:
    life
    employment
    housing
    health care
    public accommodation
    self-defense
    statutory benefits
    marriage,
    and, yes, the right to vote.

    aspen #61:

    Then what are you advocating exactly for trans persons to have a right for, based on their particular status? I’m reminded of the phrase “black lives matter” and how the phrase “all lives matter” is not the same thing.

    Wow. Just… wow. Can there be a more blatant display of willful ignorance and/or sealioning?

  52. aspleen says

    Again, what I’m asking for is an example of a particular right that’s quote, a “trans right”, unquote. Not a “human right” in general, but a right that’s particular to one being a trans person. If all “trans rights” are simply the same human rights that apply to human beings in general, that still makes the phrase “trans rights are human rights” a glittering generality.

    If it helps, think of a woman’s right to an elective abortion as a right that’s particular to women.

  53. says

    If it helps, think of a woman’s right to an elective abortion as a right that’s particular to women.

    First, it’s not particular to women, it’s of special interest to women. It’s particular to fertile, sexually female persons. Not all women are fertile and/or sexually female. Not all fertile, sexually female persons are women. The special interest of women in abortion comes from the combination of the vast overlap between being a woman and being a sexually female person with the history of sexism and how gender/sex conflation has impacted women’s access to health care and reproductive rights more generally. Abortion will never not be a “women’s issue” until sexism is dead, but as long as you’re wanting to be all particular about who has and needs what rights, we might as well be accurate.

    Second, I’m not ignorant of what you mean, I’m resisting your intention. The rights are general, the instantiations are specific. There’s no reason you can’t say that the right to an abortion is NOT specific to female persons, because the “right” is actually the right to control one’s reproduction and it sometimes, but not always, manifests in a need to access an abortion. In this manner of speaking, the need for abortion is particular to female persons, but the “right” is a reproductive right which applies to all persons.

    The right to public accommodation is general, but it sometimes manifests in a trans* person needing to access gendered public restrooms. While the right of other people to access gendered public restrooms is unquestioned, the right of trans* people to do so is highly contested and has resulted in violence and arrests in response to the simple human need to pee combined with happening to be away from one’s home. The right to change one’s name is general, but some courts have denied that right to trans people in the past because they did not believe that the legal, statutory right to change one’s name did not permit changing one’s name to a name that communicated differently gendered signals than one’s previous name. So is the “right” the right to legal name change (which applies to all) or is the “right” the right to change a feminine name to a masculine name (which is of special interest to AFAB trans* persons)?

    In a world where trans* humanity is denied, persistently framing trans rights as separate from human rights is a tactic used to undermine efforts to guarantee equal human dignity, equal ethical and social value, and equal access to legal enforcement of rights. You, personally, may or may not be acting with the intent to undermine such efforts, but your effect, perhaps especially if your actions are undertaken without overt and/or conscious bigotry, is to legitimize the distancing of trans* persons from membership in the general category of humanity. Thus whatever your intent, it’s a bad thing to do, especially here in this thread.

    Given the effects that flow from these actions even when intent is benign, this attempt of yours to make a distinction between “trans rights” and “human rights” is ethically inseparable from efforts to paint trans* rights as “special” rights that are at best socially unnecessary and at worst unjust privileges that would harm “normal” people because they don’t have the right to change the gendering of their names either. There is no categorical difference. Your efforts here completely buy into the special rights not human rights framework, when we here contest that very framing. Rather, your efforts here to draw such distinctions exist on a continuous spectrum of hostility to trans* humanity and trans* equality.

    You also give every indication of being terribly ignorant on the topic of human rights generally (since a major topic human rights activism across the globe is the indivisibility of both humanity and the rights of human persons) and the rights violations trans* persons encounter in their everyday lives, since you didn’t believe that voting rights could be violated on account of trans* status, experience or appearance. If you’re confused, why not do more research on your own?

    Go ahead read this blog post about the right you believed couldn’t possibly have been violated, the right to vote or you could try reading this one about the right to health care. Or search for whatever accounts you prefer. But in this thread of all threads your repeated insistence on separating trans rights from human rights is incredibly disrespectful. If you’re generally interested in this topic and not just trolling, you might meditate on exactly why and how your behavior actually demonstrates the need for declarations that trans rights are human rights.

  54. azrael says

    @aspleen #72
    It’s interesting you mention abortion as a right particular to women, since trans* men also have that right, though it’s often ignored / abrogated / infringed upon.

  55. aspleen says

    In this manner of speaking, the need for abortion is particular to female persons, but the “right” is a reproductive right which applies to all persons.

    Abortion is a right women have by virtue of their sex and the fact that women can become pregnant against their will. That is something that doesn’t apply to men. If anything, it’s men who have been asserting a “right” to have their say in what a woman’s choice with respect to abortion should be.

  56. says

    That is something that doesn’t apply to men.

    Yes. It does. It applies to all trans men with fertile, female reproductive systems.

    It’s like you don’t even read what’s written for you.

    And you still haven’t explained how or why me choosing not to allow my electronic device to display your tweets on my screen when I don’t want to read them is “a dick move”.

    Actual feminists believe that the ability to block tweets on one’s device or block comments on one’s blog is a right crucial to protecting women in a world where stalking and harassment occur all the time.

    So why do you believe that choosing a convenient, automated option to help one avoid reading messages that one doesn’t want to read is a “dick move”? Why do you believe that you have a right to display your tweets on my device?

    You still haven’t even attempted to justify this.

  57. aspleen says

    I consider “woman” to be a term that equates to “human female”, as has been the common understanding of the English word for hundreds of years now. So I do consider trans men to be natal women for purposes of the right to an elective abortion. If you didn’t have “woman” as a category of persons, you’d still have to invent it because it does exist.

    As for blocking, think of how blocking as a community effort on social media is more than simply an individual choice to not read something, but a way for a social community to hear only what it wants to hear. I think you needn’t look further than the MAGAverse for the result.

  58. azrael says

    @aspell #78
    Calling trans* men women, as you just did, is a textbook example of transphobia. Trans men are not women, they are men. It’s not complicated.

  59. says

    Re: #78

    Aaand there we go, it never takes more than a few messages to get from “I’m innocently inquiring about language.” to “TRANS PEOPLE ARE NOT WHO THEY SAY, THEY’RE DELUSIONAL” on any pro-trans topic.

    Seems to me we have proof here that the spleen was never engaging in good faith, which was of course suggested all along by the fact that he regularly ignore the majority of content in replies.

    So, we have the third person who got angry at trans people having an ally and came into a post ENTITLED “arguments are closed” to present a bigoted argument. I have a suspicion about what is likely to happen next.

  60. says

    @aspleen:

    IMNSHO, “trans rights are human rights” is merely a slogan which doesn’t help settle any argument. It’s just a bit of rhetoric that serves to shut down any discussion, which goes hand in hand with blocking people. To put it crudely, it’s a political dick move.

    also aspleen:

    As for blocking, think of how blocking as a community effort on social media is more than simply an individual choice to not read something, but a way for a social community to hear only what it wants to hear.

    Do you see how the second comment is nothing like the first? The first merely mentions “blocking people”. Not a subset of blocking people. Not organized blocking people. Just blocking people at all, ever, completely unqualified.

    The second is clearly referencing campaigns promoting the social ostracism of particular persons with an effect and/or goal (it’s hard to tell from what you wrote) of making it impossible for people within a group to access opinions dissenting from the standard opinions of the group.

    The wrong, then, is not blocking people. The wrong or wrongs are socially ostracizing campaigns and efforts to deny access to some group to differing opinions that might be helpful to hear.

    You seem to have a terrible problem with not actually meaning what you say, but expecting people to divine your invoiced intent. I don’t know you. I can only read what you write here. If you write that blocking is the problem I have literally zero basis for assuming you mean that blocking is no problem whatsoever, but campaigns of social ostracism are bad and sometimes include blocking.

    Please. Take the time to think about what you actually mean and write that. This habit of writing shit you don’t actually want to communicate and then backing away from it later is unproductive for everyone. Your current habit of carelessly writing false expressions of your actual opinions or viewpoint is disrespectful to your conversation partners.

    We deserve better. And if you have a worthwhile argument to make, then your argument deserves better as well.

    As for this:

    I consider “woman” to be a term that equates to “human female”

    I don’t give a fuck. But since you voluntarily decided to enter a space specifically labeled “arguments are closed, I’m not going to argue with anyone about trans rights” and started an argument about trans rights, maybe you should think about how your language comes across in this space, which isn’t yours, and how your language might be perceived by PZ.

    You’re in his house right now, and his intent could not be more clearly expressed at the top of this page. Why are you commenting in this thread if you can’t respect that?

  61. says

    @abbeycadabra:

    we have the third person who got angry at trans people having an ally and came into a post ENTITLED “arguments are closed” to present a bigoted argument.

    I know, right?

    I never go to blogs with posts labeled “Trans people not welcome, I will never use “woman” to mean anything other than an adult female human,” and then comment using woman in a different way and advocate trans* self-determination and humanity.

    It’s like I have a sense of how to ethically respond to other people setting their own boundaries which is lacking in the anti-trans crowd. Weird how cis people are so relentlessly determined to invade trans* positive space, innit? And notice how they disguise themselves with their utter reasonableness as they force they way in when they intended to violate the norms of the space before they even commented?

    It’s like they’re deceptively clothing themselves, representing themselves as something they are not, specifically in order to invade a space dedicated to the safety and support of people other than them, like they’re just jealous of the fact that anyone else might have those things and so they feel compelled to steal it away.

    …gosh, that all sounds weirdly familiar…

  62. says

    @82, Crip Dyke

    Yep. With the wingnuts, every accusation is a confession.

    You almost have to grudgingly respect Id Dweller for not trying to sugarcoat it and coming straight in with his awfulness hanging out for everyone to see. It lacks the insidious sliminess of ‘a spleen’ (heh) who is no less awful but tries to cloak it for plausible deniability.

  63. Susan Montgomery says

    @69 You left out “progressives hinting that prominent conservative women are trans”.

    @78 There comes a point where any further involvement becomes futile. My rights as a human being and as a US citizen are not to be disparaged or diminished because I’m trans. There is no discussion to be had and there never should have been. So there’s no point in keeping lines of communication open if there’s nothing to left to say.

  64. says

    @Susan Montgomery 84
    Thank you! I’m always interested in adding another to that kind of set. I think the tourette’s syndrome instincts makes it stand out differently.
    The manipulation of negative feelings and sex/gender is obvious to me there too. That’s not why Ann Coulter is wrong.

  65. microraptor says

    Brony @69:

    Just to muddy the waters a little bit, there is bigotry on the left in “dogpile situations”. I see accusations that bigots are secretly gay, manipulation of someone’s fear of other orientations for political gain. I see name shaming, body shaming, non-literalisms with mental health references (idiot, crazy, schizophrenic…)…

    The “homophobes are secretly gay” one is particularly corrosive (not that any of those aren’t terrible) because it promotes the idea that gay people are really the ones responsible for their own discrimination and absolves straight people of any responsibility.

  66. Porivil Sorrens says

    @78
    Fuck off, you misgendering prick. Your concern trolling was already bullshit, but now I have no reason to give a fuck about anything further you have to say about trans people. You are so poorly informed and bigoted that honestly, I don’t really want to waste the time trying to change your mind.

  67. says

    aspen @72:

    Again, what I’m asking for is an example of a particular right that’s quote, a “trans right”, unquote.

    Sealoining it is.

  68. says

    Aspleen: FUCK RIGHT OFF RIGHT NOW. I hate that nitpicky shit intended only to prolong an argument…in a thread that says there are no arguments against human rights for trans people. Just stop.

  69. says

    Looks to me like aspleen is indulging in what John Scalzi described as The Gamification of Rhetoric:

    It’s really frustrating to me that more people don’t understand that racist/alt-right people have gamified their rhetoric; they’re not interested in discussion, they’re slapping down cards from a “Debate: The Gathering” stack, and the only goal is taking heads.

    …don’t engage with them on their terms. Engage with them on your own. One, they hate that, and two, it exposes what they’re doing as a pointless, hateful exercise, and them as awful people.

  70. Zeppelin says

    Demanding to be shown a right that only applies to trans people, like it’s some kind of gotcha, after people have repeatedly told you that they agree with you that there are none, because that isn’t what “trans rights are human rights” means…Reminds me of how creationists will demand evidence for dogs turning into horses or whatever.

  71. Susan Montgomery says

    @85 You’re welcome. Usually, the people I discuss that with get that it’s not right but it’s worth mentioning even so.

  72. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I wonder if the teaching of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be mandatory, with periodic refreshers.

    A selection of pertinent Articles:

    Article 2.

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

    Article 6.

    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

    Article 7.

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

    Article 28.

    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

    Article 30.

    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

    Sounds a lot of where our Constitution should be, and the present asshats are trying to get away from.

  73. says

    The people who added to what went into the US constitution were worried about people that wanted explicit rights.
    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    The ninth amendment works for abortion too, but I try to make it clear that the wording of government documents is less important to me there because forced-birthers have to use and justify force.

  74. VolcanoMan says

    @Brony #60

    But the post was about Oates, not Woodford. Oates did nothing wrong, expressed no transphobia, and wasn’t a part of this at all…until she publicly expressed friendship with Woodford, while being clear that she didn’t agree with him on many things (friends can disagree while remaining friends). And for that, she got personally and relentlessly attacked by Essence of Thought. I’m not saying that EoT is to blame for ALL of the fallout, including the cutting and whatnot, but this was clearly an attempt to isolate and terrorize an individual because she wasn’t going to take a clear stand against someone that EoT believed was a bad person.

    If a cis, white, heterosexual male singles out someone for a relationship they maintain with an individual with whom they disagree in some way, relentlessly bullying them off the internet and leading them to depression and self-harm, we would absolutely call them out on it. But it’s okay (or perhaps less bad) when a trans person does it to a person whose only “crime” is expressing friendship for a PERSON (and not their ideas) who is transphobic? What happened afterwards is awful, especially since trans people are far more likely to be harassed and abused for no other reason than existing in public as a trans person. But if EoT had not engaged in a campaign of harassment of their own, they would not have reaped this particular whirlwind.

  75. says

    @96

    And for that, she got personally and relentlessly attacked by Essence of Thought.

    But if EoT had not engaged in a campaign of harassment of their own, they would not have reaped this particular whirlwind.

    Citation needed, newcomer who is pushing the anti-trans-person version of these events as published by the out and out transphobe.

    Getting some klaxons here.

  76. Marissa van Eck says

    @Aspleen…Jesus haploid Christ. Does this really, truly need to be spelled out for you?

    Okay, I’ll do it. “Trans rights are human rights” is not a glittering generality if you’re even slightly less literal-minded than your average bracket fungus.

    Why? Simple: because the phrase has an unspoken rider, that being “and if trans* peoples’ rights are not being respected, their human rights aren’t, because trans* rights are a subset of human rights.”

    No, they’re not “privileges.” Humans come in lots of different shapes, sizes, and varieties, but there are some basic things we all get as rights because we are human and because they are common to what is necessary to function as a human, regardless of sex, gender, ethnicity, skin color, and yes, gender.

    Point is, minority groups are always in danger of, if not outright experiencing, their basic humanity being abridged by others. A transgender but white woman, for example, will have different dangers facing her than a cisgender black man; she won’t have the race issues he will, but he won’t face the sex and gender discrimination she will.

    Does this help at all? Am I just wasting my breath on a troll?

  77. says

    @96

    Under the assumption that you ARE engaging in good faith, I think perhaps you should have a look at HJ Hornbeck’s examination of what happened there. Whether or not you are supportive of Woodford, you are definitely operating with his (and Rachel’s) claimed version of events, which is in some dispute.

  78. VolcanoMan says

    I’m not quoting Woodford here, who is, as you said, an out and out transphobe. I’m quoting Oates herself, who has never expressed transphobia. Is she lying? Maybe. But I have no reason to doubt the veracity of her story, because she has no motivation to lie. Again, to my knowledge, she has never expressed transphobia. She refused to take a stand on the issue (trans women competing in women’s sporting events) because she is ill-informed about it and admitted as much (which is a fine thing to do), while affirming her support for the gay and trans community. Is that something that deserves the response “do the world a favor and leave it!”? Because that is 100%, documented, what EoT said.

  79. VolcanoMan says

    Addendum to 101:

    I will note that EoT did apologize for that comment (months later), and it appeared to be genuine. They DIDN’T apologize for the follow up comments which implied that by refusing to take a stand on the issue of trans women competing in women’s sports because she didn’t have enough information (a reasonable position for one who is not informed about something), Oates was herself being transphobic and hateful, nor for trying to get Oates to stop being friends with Woodford, but whatever. Actions have consequences. None of this justifies abuse towards EoT, by the way. But I don’t hold Oates responsible for that swarm of harassment any more than I hold EoT responsible for their followers pestering Oates. I do question why it was Oates they all went after though…someone who literally did nothing wrong. At least pick a legitimate transphobe to attack, not someone who happens to be friends with one.

  80. says

    Assuming it’s true, saying one shitty thing is saying one shitty thing.

    One shitty thing is a far cry from relentlessly attacked, clearly an attempt to isolate and terrorize an individual, or a campaign of harassment. Your phrasing is clearly intended to condemn, and seemingly drum up extra hate for EoT.

  81. VolcanoMan says

    It wasn’t just one shitty thing, it was a focused attempt to berate an individual, conducted over a period of time. And it wasn’t just EoT, but some of their friends as well. Also, it was deliberately misinterpreting what Oates had said and misrepresenting it to the public. EoT wrote “It reads ‘though I have no basis to strip people of their human rights, I will nonetheless refuse to support them in those rights.'”

    They got that, from this: “I’m obviously happy to voice my support for the transgender community any time, but on the topic of which groups transgender athletes should compete in, I’m not willing to make any claims at present. I don’t know anywhere near to enough about competitive sports to have a fully-formed opinion, and so to make a claim on video saying ‘transgender athletes should/should not be allowed to compete in whichever group’ would be completely dishonest on my part. I’m not comfortable making such definitive claims on a topic I don’t know enough about.”

    Videos made, tweets written, anger expressed, over a period of WEEKS. Because of this. Because she wouldn’t commit to a position out of IGNORANCE. That is not transphobia, that is a good way to exist (i.e. not speaking about what you don’t understand). I call that a campaign of harassment.

  82. VolcanoMan says

    @106

    And was that clear at the time? And if it was not intended in such a way, why would EoT go back and change it to “do the world a favor and deconvert”…if they were confident that this statement was clearly not suicide-baiting? Because it absolutely CAN be taken this way, and whether it was intended as such or not, I have learned from many people on the internet recently that intentions don’t matter. If someone was harmed, whether there was intent or not, there was still harm.

  83. says

    @105 Crip Dyke

    I hope you’re right. I have, however, been forced to become extra cynical regarding the behavior of newcomers. It could be just me but I can’t recall seeing VolcanoMan before this thread, and leaping into a thread which is, let us not forget, NOT about online drama surrounding Essence of Thought but about the fundamental nature of human rights for trans people is not what I would call behavior inviting a charitable interpretation.

    #103 represents the first possible counter examples to this, IMO. Obviously I could be wrong, but it appears to me that a parsimonious reading of VolcanoMan’s behavior could be that they are a member of Rachel Oates’s audience – a stan, if you will – who heard that HJ Hornbeck of FtB was one of the people who has been roundly criticizing Woodford and is thereby one of the people Oates is standing up against, so he came here to defend her against the nasty trans person who is obviously at fault, was unable to do so directly because Hornbeck doesn’t allow commenting, then noticed PZ Myers posted an EoT video about the controversy at hand and how support for an out-and-out transphobe does indeed mean supporting transphobia, and went all in on explaining why EoT is a Bad Person, with at least partial intention to convince locals to shun them and support Oates instead.

    I mean, he said “I’m not blaming EoT for what happened to Oates” in his first message and proceeded to directly contradict it by claiming EoT engaged in (among other things) a campaign of harassment.

    Note that one of his central theses is that Oates should not be condemned for being friends with a transphobe, when what apparently she did was defend that transphobe specifically in the event of his being called out for transphobia, which is defending and so supporting transphobia, meanwhile herself being ‘neutral’ about trans rights. Neutral! And we should not find it problematic that she can’t decide between the “Trans rights are human rights” and “Trans women are infiltrators trying to steal real women’s spaces and trophies” crowds!

    Ah. #107 contains implications I am right about these motivations.

  84. Porivil Sorrens says

    Nah, it’s actually an exceedingly simple question.

    Waffling on about “Oh, should we be able to discriminate towards trans people? I don’t know, there’s good arguments on both sides!” is actually just centrist bullshit. I don’t need to know anything about competitive sports to know that it is wrong to discriminate against trans people.

    It’s not hard to say “I don’t know much on the topic, but I’m going to take trans peoples’ words on the matter of the discrimination they face”, and anything short of that is at best tacit support for transphobia.

  85. Porivil Sorrens says

    @108
    Sure, intent doesn’t change the harm of the situation, but it does mean that characterizing this as intentional suicide baiting is literally false, because any remotely competent reader can tell in context that EoT is referring to Woodford’s “church”.

  86. VolcanoMan says

    Note: when I said I’m not blaming EoT for what happened to Oates, I meant as it ALL of the fallout from this incident. EoT couldn’t have predicted that. But I AM blaming them for relentlessly focusing on her, for trying to get her to stop being friends with someone, for accusing her of having malign motives, and just for…y’know, not letting it go that people can be good people even if they’re friends with transphobes.

    And as for 107, what’s wrong with that? Oates is not saying that trans women aren’t women, nor is she saying they shouldn’t be allowed in women’s competitive sport. She’s saying that she doesn’t know enough about sport, about biology, about hormones, about all of this to have an opinion. I believe that trans women should be allowed to compete in women’s sport because I don’t think they have an unfair advantage. In fact, in some cases, it appears that they are possibly at a disadvantage. But I actually know some stuff about sport at a high level, though not from direct experience, and the evidence I’ve seen is pretty conclusively supporting the trans position that there’s nothing to see here, and that the people making a big deal about this are pretty transphobic.

    I am NOT a supporter of Oates or Woodford, though I have seen videos by both. Woodford annoys me, but Oates seems nice enough, going after anti-feminists most of the time. And I have been commenting on threads here for years, though I only created a formal account (I was going through Google+ before it became defunct) maybe a year ago, in the name “VolcanoMan.” My Google+ name (my real name, since Google+ required you use real names, I believe…or at least I was unaware of a way to change it) was my identity on this site before.

  87. says

    @VolcanoMan:

    Also, it was deliberately misinterpreting what Oates had said and misrepresenting it to the public. EoT wrote “It reads ‘though I have no basis to strip people of their human rights, I will nonetheless refuse to support them in those rights.’”

    Wait, what? Look, I get what you’re saying about how not taking a position seems like a wise thing to do when one is not knowledgeable. But how is “I take no position” different in substance from “I will not strip people of their human rights but nor will I support their struggle to have their rights respected”?

    I don’t know anything about this exchange that wasn’t written on Pharyngula, but “I will not support the transphobes and I will not support the trans people” is exactly what taking no position does, from a functional point of view. People can dislike being portrayed that way. And I understand how someone who thinks they’re being wise by not taking a position might be upset at being portrayed that way. But that is, literally, what they did – refuse to support either side’s stated goals.

    Again, I know literally nothing about this exchange that hasn’t been presented here in this thread, but just relying on what you’ve said here, you seem to be complaining about a factually correct paraphrase.

    Am I missing something? How could any reasonable person find a substantive difference between “I take no position” and “I support the efforts and goals of neither side”?

  88. VolcanoMan says

    I suppose it’s the reason being implied that I take issue with, though you’re right that this is not a bad interpretation. One can take no position without being a transphobe. And one can support trans rights in a general sense without taking a position on every issue that affects trans people.

  89. VolcanoMan says

    Let’s see here: https://twitter.com/EssenceOfTweet/status/1168500430118121472

    Sent to Lizzy_Lang7 and also Rachel0ates, who did not know what was being discussed as this was tweeted at her without her being involved in the thread, but still, “do the world a favor and exit it” is sent to her without context or explanation. That wasn’t a smart move.

    Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdzLm_tFWZs&t=394s

    She does say that Essence of Thought didn’t start the abuse, that their followers did, but EoT certainly added to it.

    I have been unable to find some of the tweets that used to exist (and may still…my GoogleFu is like…green belt level). Anyway, there is also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYnkeSyzD8E&t=1042s

    This is Oates’ supposed “crime” (the tweet is in the video, I tried to scroll back in her feed, but for whatever reason it only goes back about 6 months) that “proves” her transphobia. Supporting a friend by saying that she is proud that he is listening to the criticisms of his point of view, learning, and becoming less transphobic. It doesn’t matter really that Woodford is still mighty transphobic. At the time, he pulled down his video, apologized and promised to do better. That’s laudable. And yet…Oates was drawn into this shitstorm.

  90. says

    @VolcanoMan

    One can take no position without being a transphobe. And one can support trans rights in a general sense without taking a position on every issue that affects trans people.

    I completely agree with these statements. I think you’re missing something pretty crucial here about intent not being magic.

    Have you read Letter from a Birmingham Jail? Why not read it (or reread it) and think about what it’s saying. Dr King’s archetypal “white moderate” is not motivated by racism to beg off action. The white moderate is taking neither the position of the racists against integration nor the position of the civil rights activists for integration. And yet, even while Dr. King is explicitly portraying them as not the racists he finds in their behavior something significant to critique.

    I don’t know Oates’ positions or statements, but if they are as they have been represented here, then trans* advocates today would have a similar basis to critique her as Dr. King had to critique his archetypal white moderate. It feels in several of your comments that you are resisting the idea that it’s reasonable to criticize Oates, but when you read Dr. King do you feel it’s reasonable to criticize the white moderate he describes? If you think it’s legitimate to criticize one but not the other, what accounts for your different assessment?

    You have literally zero responsibility to expose your own thoughts and feelings to anyone here, but if you do read Dr. King’s letter and if you do find yourself feeling differently about his criticism of the white moderate than you feel about the criticism of Oates that Oates neither wanted to strip rights nor support people in fighting for them, you might wish to reflect on these questions:

    Is it possible that I’m afraid that some of this criticism delivered by trans* advocates will eventually target me while I am not afraid that I will be targeted for criticism about neutrality on issues of racism because I am more confident in how I feel about the issues of racism that are likely to come up? Or is it possible that you make no distinction between being criticized and being accused of bigotry? IN that case, is there a difference in your level of fear that you might be thought cissexist than your level of fear that you might be thought racist? If there is a difference in your personal fears about being criticized or being thought bigoted, is it possible that your pushback here is motivated in part about trying to convince people to take less critical positions that would make you feel more safe?

    These aren’t questions I’m asking you to answer publicly (though it’s a free internet, if you want to do so you should go for it), but going through the exercise might help you figure out exactly what your problem is with a factually correct paraphrase. It might also help you find a more secure place with yourself. If you are confident that you’re not prejudiced against trans* persons, then when your positions are critiqued it may be easier to hear them as what they are, critiques of positions, not accusations that you have an evil nature. And when you’re accused of having an evil nature (because hey, it might happen) you will have a more secure understanding of yourself that allows you escape most of the sting, since so much of the pain of such words occurs when we wonder if they are true in spite of our belief in the goodness of ourselves.

    I think it’s completely legitimate to critique neutrality. I think it’s legit not merely to describe the non-position you say Oates took in the manner that you say EoT described it. I think it’s even legit for EoT to feel anger at the people who take no position, in a manner similar to how Dr. King felt anger toward his white moderate. I for sure don’t want to be in a position of policing others’ emotions and deciding for them which emotions are legitimate or justified.

    But I certainly agree that when you are in the position of the white moderate, hearing the criticism of people asking you to step up and choose a side is terribly uncomfortable. For some people it genuinely hurts. But that’s not a reason to ban critiques like the one you attributed to EoT here.

    Since I don’t know anything else, I’m not asserting that everything EoT has ever said or done has been good or righteous or justified or kind or whatever the fuck. But your statement

    I suppose it’s the reason being implied that I take issue with

    makes me think that you haven’t yet come to grips with the fact that a behavior (in this case expressing neutrality) can be worthy of critique without any reference to the motivation for choosing the behavior.

    I can’t see inside your head. I can only respond to what you do and say, not what you think. And because of that, what motivates you (or Oates) is largely irrelevant to the question of whether your behavior(s) deserve critique. Now, accurately assessing somebody’s motivation can help a great deal when attempting to determine which form of critique expressed in what manner would be most appropriate and effective. Intent is not completely irrelevant. But neither is it magic. Oates doesn’t get a free pass for the effects of her neutrality just because she feels too underinformed to make a decision. Someday you, too, might deserve criticism for a position you take for principled reasons but which has negative effects (at least to the eye of the person delivering the critique). Being able to understand that other people care more about the behavior than they do about the motivation (that they can’t perceive) will be helpful to you in hearing criticism, being able to reasonably assess that criticism, and then, if you believe appropriate, using that criticism to make positive changes in yourself and your behavior.

  91. says

    @VolcanoMan 116
    You just offered that quote out of context and claimed it had no context. I know the larger quote had to do with a church metaphor.

    You said relentless and you gave me part of a tweet. I’m not watching your video because it’s your claim. Time point it and quote it. You word was “attack” and this is what you have?

  92. VolcanoMan says

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply Crip Dyke. I have read King’s letter from a Birmingham jail. But I read it as him criticizing not those who refused to take a side, but those who were telling black people to wait for their rights, that their condition was better now than it had ever been before, and that it would continue to improve with time, and you know…the whole “don’t make waves” argument that has frustrated progressives for time immemorial.

    Also, I am rather new to some of the positions I hold. Perhaps I empathize with Oates because she is in a place I used to be, and I understand her behavior as being not motivated by fear, or hatred, but genuinely trying to come to the right moral conclusion and being unsure of what or who to believe. Because there is a shit-ton of bad information out there, and if you’re a feminist, and used to defending women from the onslaught of patriarchy, an issue like trans women competing in women’s sports feels like it could also be a way for women to be oppressed, this time by people who were born into bodies that did not conform to their identity, bodies that MAY BE (though all UNBIASED evidence suggests otherwise) different enough from the bodies of those born women that they may have different strengths and weaknesses in a sporting context. Sometimes people take an interest in this issue because they are transphobic, but other times, it is because of genuinely good intentions. But you’re right – intentions aren’t magic. And one can do harm without having malign intentions. I believe this has happened in both directions in this conflict. EoT clearly didn’t intend to adversely affect Oates’ mental health but she did. And Oates didn’t intend to harm trans people, but she did.

    So I dunno…learning takes time, and patience. And in an environment where there are people like Joe Rogan going around spouting proven falsehoods (that are nonetheless spread as if true), where polarization is at an utmost high, it takes actual effort to come to the right conclusion. I put this effort in. And maybe this is the biggest problem I have with Oates – that she isn’t willing to do that work. But that doesn’t make her the same as the people who are actively discriminating against trans people. It just makes her privileged. And that’s a curse that we’ve all (or almost all of us) had to overcome at some point or another.

  93. says

    @VolcanoMan 116
    Crime in scare quotes? People describe transphobia. It’s criticism. I’m happy to consider your objections to specific claims of transphobia, and you can avoid rhetorical connections to civil authority on a matter I compare to examples of fallacious reasoning.

  94. VolcanoMan says

    The full quote was: “That’s a demonstrable lie. Steven Woodford is a violent transphobe, and you are all his fucking church. You turn a blind eye, target and abuse the victims of his violence, lie to protect his name. Do the world a favor and exit it.” Is the last part directed at the group (i.e. church), the individual, or the individuals cited in the tweet. Because to exit the world is to die. So…they’re asking someone or some group of people to die because it would benefit the rest of the world. Furthermore, the full quote is perhaps more problematic than the one line, because she accuses Woodford of being a “violent transphobe.” He’s definitely a transphobe. But I see no evidence that he has engaged in violence, physical or…textual, against trans people. Opposing trans rights is transphobic, but it’s not violent by default.

    And I DID include the timestamps in the links. 394 seconds in the first one, 1042 in the second. I also tend to believe people when they say they’ve been attacked. Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe Oates is making it up. But believing women is something I’m not willing to compromise on.

  95. VolcanoMan says

    Sorry, misspoke. I respect peoples’ pronouns. I should have said “they” accuse Woodford of being a violent transphobe. Honest mistake, I used the correct pronouns before, and I always try to get them right.

  96. says

    @VolcanoMan 121
    This is a tweet. Remember, you said “attack” and “relentless”.

    I see it as a strong suggestion that they leave the church. “It’ is the church and if they leave it they stop acting according to Woodford’s interest.

  97. Porivil Sorrens says

    @VolcanoMan
    The thing is, saying “I don’t know much about the topic, but I’ll take trans people’s word for their own discrimination” means that, even if it’s later proven to be incorrect, you can’t be blamed for having a shitty heuristic. It’s no different than saying “I don’t know much about black holes, but I’ll listen to Stephen Hawking when he talks about them”, even if he turns out to be wrong years down the line.

    Insofar as Woodford being a violent transphobe, EoT is presumably referring to non-physical violence, which is somewhat of a sociological term of art. For example, stochastic violence, which is promoting a situation where violence is likely to result without actually being the person who does the beating.

  98. VolcanoMan says

    The accusations are in the video, the first one I already posted.

    Also note that this all happened like, 3 months ago, and most was only vaguely remembered by me, so I I’ve been digging through twitter and Youtube to find things.

    Also: https://twitter.com/Rachel0ates/status/1168515531642679296

    So…I’m stopping now. This whole thing is a mess, and nobody wins, and everyone feels shitty. That’s not EoT’s fault, or Oates’. It’s just the nature of the internet I think.

  99. says

    I have read King’s letter from a Birmingham jail. But I read it as him criticizing not those who refused to take a side, but those who were telling black people to wait for their rights, that their condition was better now than it had ever been before, and that it would continue to improve with time, and you know…the whole “don’t make waves” argument that has frustrated progressives for time immemorial.

    I completely agree that this is the text. However, I believe that there’s a reasonable comparison to be made between what can be argued as a form of neutrality on the part of the white moderates (who were not refusing to advocate anything a la Oates, but were, as portrayed by Dr. King, advocating something that they saw as “in the middle” between racists and civil rights activists) and the form of neutrality taken by Oates. I don’t argue that these situations are the same, just that they are similar enough, especially in the way that Dr. King is describing them as separate from the racists is comparable from how we are assuming here that Oates is not motivated by cissexism, that one can learn lessons applicable to the current situation from that past letter.

    Perhaps I empathize with Oates because she is in a place I used to be, and I understand her behavior as being not motivated by fear, or hatred, but genuinely trying to come to the right moral conclusion and being unsure of what or who to believe.

    And it’s not bad that you empathize with Oates, nor is it surprising if trans* issues are new to you that you might empathize, but empathize less with trans* advocates, their arguments, and their passion. None of this is bad. It’s where you’re at. And if your assessment of Oates is correct, then none of her motivations demonstrate anything bad about Oates.

    there is a shit-ton of bad information out there,

    Yes. Which is why, even in a thread which is specifically labeled as a place where trans rights are not up for argument, I ended up arguing with aspleen about trans* rights. I’ve been out since 92/93 and I still find the amount of misinformation and the general absence of reasonably correct information to be simply intolerable. I find it incredibly difficult to simply ignore comments like those of aspleen, even though pretending they didn’t exist and thus not engaging in argument over trans* rights is much more true to the spirit of this thread as established by PZ.

    if you’re a feminist, and used to defending women from the onslaught of patriarchy, an issue like trans women competing in women’s sports feels like it could also be a way for women to be oppressed

    Yes. Fears like this exist. And at a certain level of information they are not at all irrational.

    bodies that MAY BE (though all UNBIASED evidence suggests otherwise) different enough from the bodies of those born women

    I’d suggest using AFAB, but I understand what you’re going for here.

    But you’re right – intentions aren’t magic. And one can do harm without having malign intentions. I believe this has happened in both directions in this conflict. EoT clearly didn’t intend to adversely affect Oates’ mental health but she did. And Oates didn’t intend to harm trans people, but she did.

    Which is why I’m wary of suggesting that people shouldn’t be criticizing others’ actions, though I think we both agree it’s a bad plan (and not necessary) to assume you know another’s motivations while you’re doing that critique of actions.

    in an environment where there are people like Joe Rogan going around spouting proven falsehoods (that are nonetheless spread as if true), where polarization is at an utmost high, it takes actual effort to come to the right conclusion.

    Yes. And in an environment where people are spouting proven falsehoods about trans* folks, and have been for years, trans* persons’ defensive reactions can be (and often are) quickly and easily triggered. Remember what you were saying about feminists being worried that people are simply trying yet again to oppress women while talking about trans* inclusion in sport? That’s also a description of a reaction primed by actual oppression.

    To use a technical legal term, the situation in which two people can both be doing their best to read a situation fairly but also both come to a wrong conclusion out of fear of the consequences of not responding defensively can be labeled sucky. This doesn’t make bad behavior okay. But it goes a long way toward explaining how it comes about, and as such it can be useful when we have time and resources (emotional and otherwise) in helping us plan successful strategies to prevent reflexive clashes that lead to harm.

    maybe this is the biggest problem I have with Oates – that she isn’t willing to do that work.

    That sounds like a good insight. And though you may be right, it’s also possible that she wasn’t able to do the work, and we just aren’t able to see inside her head to understand what resources (emotional and otherwise) she has available to undertake that work. Maybe she deserves all your critical thoughts. Maybe she deserves even more. But maybe she deserves less.

    Are you familiar with the Fundamental Attribution Error? I find it a helpful tool to use sometime when critiquing my own assumptions about others. If you have time and inclination, you might look into it.

    But that doesn’t make her the same as the people who are actively discriminating against trans people.

    Yep.

    It just makes her privileged.

    Which we can, hopefully, critique without demonizing her.

  100. says

    @Porivil Sorrens:

    Insofar as Woodford being a violent transphobe, EoT is presumably referring to non-physical violence, which is somewhat of a sociological term of art.

    I agree with your description of non-physical violence as a term of art in actual use, but I’ve long disliked it. I don’t mean to use this to critique your argument, just felt the need to comment on this tangent b/c I feel strongly about it. You may or may not remember, but I had an epic dustup with EnlightenmentLiberal (as EL was then known, they have a new ‘nym now) about the use of the word “violence” in relation to government actions as distant from what we actually know as violence as filling out a form…becuase in EL’s argument filling out (certain) forms wrongly can be a crime, which can result in a prison sentence, which is a form of confinement, which is by definition non-consensual, etc. EL took the position that because government power is ultimately backed up by the threat of force (if you try to run from the courtroom when you find out you’re sentenced to incarceration, you will be at least physically grabbed, if not physically subdued through injury-causing assaults) all governance “is” violence.

    This quintessentially libertarian position on violence as well as some other problematic conflations have left me sensitive to using “violence” to mean shouting or being extremely rude or whateverthefuck.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled thread.

  101. Porivil Sorrens says

    @128
    I definitely do think there’s some danger in people conflating more traditional definitions among laypeople, but I don’t really see the harm in using it in non-physical senses when the fact that it’s being used as a term of art is made more clear. EL’s argument does seem specious – probably a little too liberal of an application of Weber for my taste, and I don’t generally agree with the extended sort of “violence to ideas” argument.

    However, I think it is exceptionally useful for terms like the aforementioned stochastic violence, because it addresses a phenomena that is almost universally recognized but not commonly codified until recently. Were we to stop using any term of art that might confuse a layperson, sociology would have a very hard time describing anything in a truncated manner.

    In that regard, I think that something like this case does actually fit the definition – stoking anti-trans sentiment in a world that already thinks that it’s alright to beat us up and kill us is an act of stochastic violence as defined, and even if he doesn’t mean to be doing it, Woodford still acts like a useful idiot for the people that use that information to justify oppressing us.

  102. kkehno says

    About RR being a “violent”, it was addressed directly on EoT:s video. There is direct timestamp to it. It seems that we have someone who even did not watch video on the topic but thinks it is reasonable to dig trough old tweets on a hunch that he could not be wrong on their presumption of the issue (where the other side was forced to remain silent and so the Oates side could freely spun the narrative).

  103. VolcanoMan says

    Yes, I am absolutely familiar with the Fundamental Attribution Error, and consider it the bane of my existance. When you do something that has a negative impact on others, the cause is situational, but when someone does something that has a negative impact on YOU, it’s because they’re a bad person.

    Also, there is a particularly unfortunate (and yet understandable) feature of progressive communities whereby people have been burned so many times by those who do have malign motives, that they start to see them where they do not exist, and start throwing out accusations of racism, homophobia and transphobia at potential allies. I agree…it’s sucky. And I don’t blame people for going there…it’s just human nature. But part of the reality we’re dealing with here is that to be progressive in your values is to be on a spectrum, and even though some people are more woke than others at a particular point in time, the potential exists for everyone to LEARN, to see existing inequalities, recognize them as wrong, and fight against them. People change. And I think this applies even to Woodford. He’s not there yet (not by a long shot) but at least he IS putting in the work (or trying to). So I don’t know what the best way forward is. But I know that I personally will keep learning, and keep supporting the quest for equality in all areas of life, public and private, no matter what your identity or whether it conforms to what you were assigned at birth.

  104. Porivil Sorrens says

    @130
    Yeah, I just got to that bit right now. Makes sense, structural violence is a pretty widely recognized sociological phenomenon by this point, so even if I granted that it might confuse a layperson, it’s not like EoT is grasping at straws. This is literally undergrad intro-to-sociology level stuff.

  105. VolcanoMan says

    @130

    I watched part of the video on this platform (Pharyngula), enough to see the point they were trying to make, and then I found the other side and watched a couple minutes of those videos too (then I followed up by searching both EoT’s and Oates’ tweets). I didn’t go to the direct video as it exists on Youtube, so I didn’t see the timestamp.

    As for the point they’re making, that definition of violence is a bit broad for my taste. To me, violence is a serious thing, something that causes extreme harm to people. But if we take EoT’s definition as true violence, that means that any time anyone in a position of power does something that could adversely impact someone over whom they have that power, it’s violence. If your boss fires you – violence. If your spouse divorces you and uses a high-powered attorney to limit your access to your kids – violence. Someone is using their power to harm someone else. It doesn’t even distinguish between justified examples of so-called violence (e.g. if you were lazy and didn’t do your job well) and unjustified ones.

    Also, there is the necessary follow-up to this: if what Woodford did was violent, then what do we make of what EoT did to Oates? They clearly said something that, in the most charitable interpretation possible, was intended to be one thing, but could be easily misconstrued as a request for some non-specified person or group of people to die, and it resulted in harm. Is this not violence because EoT doesn’t have more power than Oates? Because apparently they DID have the power to wreck someone’s life, at least for a time, and playing the Oppression Olympics gets us nowhere here (i.e. does a trans woman have more power and privilege than a mentally ill cis woman?). I don’t consider either event an example of violence.

  106. platypuschutney says

    Hey PZ, I’ve been lurking reading your blog for the past 15 years or so, but probably last commented 7 years ago or something. I think I agree with 99% of what you say.

    I just wanted to say I think you’re wrong here. I have admired everyone on all sides of the ACA debacle, and listened to them all give their accounts and I did read up on what happened there, and also listened to both sides of the EoT/Oates incident. With respect to EoT and Rachel Oates, I was frankly appalled at EoT’s comments, exaggerations/lies, and dangerous rhetoric. It was shocking to me and completely inappropriate, and it seemed like EoT had become the monster they always railed against in the past. RR has said some wrong things, absolutely. As far as I can tell, he has comprehensively and repeatedly apologized for it in good faith, reflected on his mistakes, and endeavored to get better. I haven’t seen that from EoT.

    And yes, Rachel has been a friend of RR for a long time and still is. I don’t see what the problem is. Frankly, if we can’t extend friendship and respect to people we don’t completely agree with on every topic, then we might as well abandon the human project right now.

  107. Hj Hornbeck says

    VolcanoMan @126:

    Also note that this all happened like, 3 months ago, and most was only vaguely remembered by me, so I I’ve been digging through twitter and Youtube to find things.

    Allow me to help.

    Background info: at the start of September EssenceOfThought had been dealing with months of harassment due to Rationality Rules and his supporters. EoT had blocked Rachael Oates for harassment some time before, I think months before (though my source for that is a YouTube comment I’ve since lost).

    On August 31st, Redd Vencher asks Rachael Oates if she’ll call out Rationality Rule’s transphobia. Their conversation lasts a few tweets, before it morphs into a conversation between Lizzy Lang, “War on Catmass,” and Redd Vencher. On September 2nd, Rachael Oates pops back in:

    Rachael Oates: I’ve already said I don’t agree with Steve’s original video but I don’t know enough about sport to call out specific claims. But I’m not willing to call Steve transphobic because I don’t believe anything he’s said comes from a place of hating/dehumanising/denying trans-people.

    Essence Of Thought: I see the sewer mouth just can’t stop spewing shit. He’s actively lied on multiple occasions in his updated video, claiming specific journals to validate his position on aspects of physiology such as lung and heart size even though they lack any mention of said words.

    All as a means to defend his actively transphobic dehumanisation of trans people, something that has existed from his very first video right up to his most recent on the matter. You have nothing to offer but active dishonesty on the subject.

    Lizzy Lang: Jesus f*cking christ. There was absolutely no need to talk to her like that. What in the seven shades of hell is wrong with you?

    Essence Of Thought: I’m tired of transphobic abuse from bigots like yourself and her. You lot deserve everything the trans community can throw at you whilst you defend your friends seeking to strip us of our human and civil rights. You lot stripped away all civility by doing that.

    Lizzy Lang: Oh cry me a bloody river. Nobody was trying to take away anyone’s rights. I’ve purposefully ignored your BS until now because you are a toxic individual. You need to get off your high horse before it gets ripped out from under you when ppl get tired of your nonsense.

    Essence Of Thought: That’s a demonstrable lie. Steven Woodford is a violent transphobe, and you are all his fucking church. You turn a blind eye, target and abuse the victims of his violence, lie to protect his name. Do the world a favor and exit it.

    According to EoT, they logged off shortly after. Some people reply to that tweet, pointing out it could be interpreted as a call for suicide. About eighteen hours later, EoT clarifies that last sentence, and about one day after the “exit it” tweet inserts the clarification into the comment thread, ensuring everyone participating in that thread can see it.

  108. says

    Ah, now I see. The “exit it” was immediately after “do the world a favor” so some thought they were saying “exit the world”, but they were in fact referring to the phrase “you are all his fucking church” and is appropriately understood as “leave the church”. The clarification phrases this as “reconvert” which seems to me to be also a reasonable translation of the phrase “leave the church”.

    I was wondering what that phrase could mean if it wasn’t a call for suicide.

  109. Hj Hornbeck says

    Slightly more than twenty-four hours after EoT’s insert, Rachael Oates asks her followers to evade the block EoT has on Oates to deliver a message:

    Rachael Oates: This isn’t for the sake of drama, I want a genuine apology, not just for me but for everyone: Since EoT has me blocked and I can’t tell them how their words hurt me, can someone please send him a screenshot of my thread and see if they apologise this time?

    (Quick aside: EoT prefers “they”/”them” for pronouns, but is fine if people use “she” or “he” instead.)

    From here, I’ll quote a statement EoT put up on September 5th.

    On the 4th of September at 1:26 PM New Delhi, Rachel Oates posted a Tweet asking her followers to ensure her message made it to Peter/Ethel of the channel since she has been blocked on all of our platforms, seeking to get a response from us in the form of an apology for criticism levied against her. One of her followers happily obliged at 1:41 PM the same day. Upon seeing the post, Peter/Ethel wrote a response to that Tweet (not having checked the thread Oates had linked) in which they reiterated the problem with Oates claiming to support the trans community whilst actively defending someone who has on record called for violence against the very same trans community in advocating the removal of numerous human rights. This was posted at 2:19 PM the same day. This was Peter/Ethel’s only correspondence with Oates’ since her call to her followers to circumnavigate social media barriers. At 5:44 PM the same day, after about four hours, Oates published a string of Tweets claiming that Peter/Ethel had been harassing her, that she was afraid of them, and posted a video in which they claimed to have begun self harming due to Peter/Ethel’s criticism of their support and personal friendship with transphobes.

    … Though at first Peter/Ethel didn’t know about the video, once they realised the severity of what had apparently transpired we, the admins of EssenceOfThought, contacted the Metropolitan Police by their overseas contact number to alert them to the existence of an individual in London who is at risk to themselves. We have no knowledge about whether Oates lives alone or where she was currently at, so decided informing the UK police to be the best step in ensuring her safety. The same night they informed us that they had located a home, but upon arriving did not find her. They were unsure as to whether Oates had moved or was simply not present. As far as we know we were the only ones to contact the authorities to ensure she was safe.

    Now that police were involved, EoT’s hands were tied. Contacting Oates in any way could aggravate whatever caused her to self-harm, so (according to EoT) the police advised them to stay silent on the matter until an appropriate time.

    About a day later, Oates published her own note.

    I am so sorry you had to see me like that. I was having a pretty bad episode when all that went down. I was a mess. I didn’t think any of it through. All I knew is: I was hurting and my head was loud and I needed EoT to see me as human and see what he’d done so he’d finally stop and leave me alone. I just wanted the lies to stop and to be left alone.

    After months of trying to be left alone, I felt like EoT was actively trying to ruin my reputation and career by lying about me and I didn’t know how to stop it.

    That’s only a small portion, the document itself is full of screenshots and commentary. There are two notable omissions: Oates never included a screenshot of EoT’s clarification on September 3rd, nor the quote tweet that brought it into the same thread.

  110. Porivil Sorrens says

    @134
    Structural violence as described is not nearly as broad as you think it is. It’s used in sociology to describe when one group uses its power to deprive the under-privileged of their basic needs, which I would argue is inherently immoral by definition. If your boss is utilizing their power to the point where they are actively denying you access to your basic needs, then yes, I am both fine with calling that violence and fine with calling that inherently unjustifiable.

  111. Porivil Sorrens says

    And like, with all do respect, I don’t think that random laypeople are exactly qualified to go and discounting well-researched fields of sociological inquiry on its facial terminology, any more than I’m qualified to go “lol string theory is dumb, strings are things we use to make clothes so this entire concept is farcical”.

  112. Hj Hornbeck says

    platypuschutney @135:

    RR has said some wrong things, absolutely. As far as I can tell, he has comprehensively and repeatedly apologized for it in good faith, reflected on his mistakes, and endeavored to get better.

    What planet are you from? Rationality Rules published a video he himself acknowledged was transphobic, and promised to update it after doing careful research. Several months later, he releases the new video… and it makes the same arguments as the old one.

    I just want to start this video noting a very simple fact. Whilst Stephen Woodford’s latest video is over 21 minutes long, when I accounted for arguments already refuted, the new content only amounted to just 6:34. What’s more is that said new content contains zero arguments. It’s purely him dishonestly framing his opposition and the example he asks us to keep in mind as he opens his video.

    The only two arguments he makes in his video are the bait and switch I dealt in my original response. And an attempt to justify this by shirking the burden of proof, something I dealt with in my response to Woodford’s ‘Mistakes of Many’ video.

    EoT and I aren’t the only ones to observe this.

    Stephen comes to this conclusion in the same way that he did the last time: comparing cis men to cis women, and by ignoring the actual literature that compares trans women to cis women. To make matters worse, Stephen lies about the content of the studies in order to push his anti-trans agenda. Stephen claimed that he understood what his biggest mistake was – comparing cis men to cis women, and concluding that this comparison applied to trans women who had undergone HRT – but this new video only shows that he either didn’t understand or he cares more about bashing on trans individuals than he cares about intellectual honesty.

    In what universe does that constitute “getting better?”

  113. VolcanoMan says

    But the basic needs in a capitalist system are not guaranteed. Maybe they should be, but that’s not the world we live in.

    Also, all of our needs are contingent on the whims of the governments that have power over us. And the way they keep us in line is with the monopoly on ACTUAL violence (i.e. armies and police). So when EoT talks about economic and legislative violence, they are merely acknowledging the reality that we live in a crappy, unfair system where some people have privilege and others don’t. And everyone with privilege has, at some point, acted in a way that didn’t challenge the status quo, in a way that took advantage of the power they already had. If you get a job where you are less qualified than a minority candidate who also applied, you are exercising power over minorities by accepting that job, in a way that is likely to cause them harm (violence, according to this definition). But although you might recognize that you have privilege, you don’t necessarily know when that privilege is benefitting you…so the natural state of having privilege is violence towards those with less power and privilege. Seems a bit broad to me.

    Stochastic violence, on the other hand, is real, and I’d call it actual violence, but those who engage in this tactic are deliberately trying to rally others to their cause, to get them to do things that they’re not willing to do personally. In this case, intention DOES matter, and I see no evidence that Woodford actually intended this (or that he actually caused people to behave violently who wouldn’t have done so in the absence of his videos). He’s wrong, and he has power of a sort, but this is not violence. It’s bad…but words have meaning, and violence means something pretty specific.

  114. Porivil Sorrens says

    @144

    But the basic needs in a capitalist system are not guaranteed. Maybe they should be, but that’s not the world we live in.

    Right. And part of why that is the case is the aforementioned structural violence.

    Also, all of our needs are contingent on the whims of the governments that have power over us.

    Yes, the government is a purveyor of structural violence, this is an explicit part of that theoretical framework.

    you are exercising power over minorities by accepting that job, in a way that is likely to cause them harm (violence, according to this definition).

    That would only be structural violence under this definition if hiring minorities somehow resulted in them being denied basic needs, which is not evident from this claim.

    Seems a bit broad to me.

    It really isn’t.

    He’s wrong, and he has power of a sort, but this is not violence. It’s bad…but words have meaning, and violence means something pretty specific.

    Once again, violence in this case is a sociological term of art that has been used in this sense longer than the vast majority of people in this thread have been alive. This argument is literally just as ridiculous as me, as a layperson in regards to physics, rejecting string theory because “words have meanings, and strings are bundles of fibers, not subatomic particles”

  115. VolcanoMan says

    The definition of violence according to the WHO (the one EoT cited in their video) is:

    “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”

    So utilizing privilege you acknowledge you possess, even passively, to get a job, by definition will result in a small amount of deprivation towards a person or group who didn’t have that opportunity because they do not have that privilege or power. It’s not a big thing when it’s just one person…there are other jobs. But when the system is stacked against you, deprivation is highly likely to result from the inequality therein. So yes, it would be an example of violence in this framework.

    Intentionality is also another interesting thing to consider. How passive do you have to be in not challenging the status quo for the benefits thereof to be unintentional? Do you have to recognize the power you possess? And what are Woodford’s intentions here anyway? Is he trying to cause harm to people? Is he using power towards these ends intentionally, or is he just ignorant and passive, benefitting from violence (as defined above) without committing it himself? We can’t read minds…so even by the definition above, I don’t see violence. Perpetuating a system that harms trans people is something pretty much every non-progressive person in the US or Canada does every day, but only those on the far right, the true scum of the Earth, are doing this knowing full well that harming trans people is the GOAL.

  116. John Morales says

    VolcanoMan:

    So yes, it would be an example of violence in this framework.

    Indeed.

    Intentionality is also another interesting thing to consider.

    But then, intent ain’t magic.

    (Neither is wilful ignorance exculpatory)

  117. Hj Hornbeck says

    Shoot, nearly forgot: Rachael Oates implied that she’d been harassed by EoT for months.

    After months of trying to be left alone, I felt like EoT was actively trying to ruin my reputation and career by lying about me and I didn’t know how to stop it.

    For their part, EoT points out that before September, the last time they directly tweeted at Oates was in May; EoT did talk about Oates in one of their videos, again dating from May; and made a Facebook post about Oates in (you guessed it) May. It also shows my memory was correct:

    I feel I should clarify some things on Rachel Oates since people keep asking things. Though this will by my final post on said person. The reason I blocked her was simple. She was incredibly hostile to trans people who suggested that Woodford is responsible for the content he puts out. Including the harm it has caused. I also found her later approach to be incredibly two faced.

    Her lack of knowledge on the subject didn’t seem to stop her attacking trans people in defense of Woodford, so the idea that it’d excuse her from standing by trans rights in what Godless Cranium had suggested the secular community do to try and improve relations with the trans community made no sense outside of playing the field. She seems very good at this sort of manipulation.

    The only reason I mentioned her in the video was the fact that since I’d blocked her, various people had charged me with censoring her. And I feel like doing that may have given her too much. She seems to be trying to position herself into the same ‘poor white cis woman’ that Woodford did with Selina Soule in his original video. And this is all just one more way to distract from the actual issue here. Cries to remove the human rights of trans women and attempts to avoid accountability when such transphobic content is called out. That’s why I’m maintaining the block. That’s why I will continue to refuse to deal with Oates.

    I have yet to see any contradictory evidence from Oates; her statement from September 6th does not contain a single tweet of EoT’s before September 1st, for instance, and many of EoT’s tweets present in that document are not directed at Oates. The only reference to anything EoT did before that date was EoT’s May video:

    In May EoT told me: ‘If you genuinely believe yourself not to be knowledgeable enough to speak on the subject, then do stop speaking on it as a whole’

    * This is exactly why I never spoke or made any direct claims on the subject of transgender athletes in sports
    * This is also why after making my video defending myself from EoT’s slanderous claims, I removed myself from the conversation and didn’t speak on the topic for the next 3+ months.

  118. Silentbob says

    @ 72 aspleen

    Again, what I’m asking for is an example of a particular right that’s quote, a “trans right”, unquote. Not a “human right” in general, but a right that’s particular to one being a trans person. If all “trans rights” are simply the same human rights that apply to human beings in general, that still makes the phrase “trans rights are human rights” a glittering generality.

    There is such a concept as indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination would be like, “no gays allowed”. Indirect discrimination would be like, “marriage is between a man and a woman”. That discriminates against gay people by having laws that are biased against them. Although theoretically gay people would then have the same right to marry someone of the so-called opposite sex, that right obviously favours heterosexual people.

    Similarly, trans people not only often face direct discrimination, but also indirect discrimination by living in a cisnormative society (where cis people are assumed to be the default). For example, cis people can expect their identity documents to reflect their gender, and can expect access to appropriate gender-segregated spaces, and can expect their gender to respected in other ways that trans people’s are not.

    So there are rights of particular significance to trans people and they are codified, for example, in Principle 3 of the Yogyakarta Principles:

    Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom. No one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, sterilisation or hormonal therapy, as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity. No status, such as marriage or parenthood, may be invoked as such to prevent the legal recognition of a person’s gender identity. No one shall be subjected to pressure to conceal, suppress or deny their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    States shall:

    a) Ensure that all persons are accorded legal capacity in civil matters, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and the opportunity to exercise that capacity, including equal rights to conclude contracts, and to administer, own, acquire (including through inheritance), manage, enjoy and dispose of property;

    b) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to fully respect and legally recognise each person’s self-defined gender identity;

    c) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure that procedures exist whereby all State-issued identity papers which indicate a person’s gender/sex – including birth certificates, passports, electoral records and other documents – reflect the person’s profound self-defined gender identity;

    d) Ensure that such procedures are efficient, fair and non-discriminatory, and respect the dignity and privacy of the person concerned;

    e) Ensure that changes to identity documents will be recognised in all contexts where the identification or disaggregation of persons by gender is required by law or policy;

    f) Undertake targeted programmes to provide social support for all persons experiencing gender transitioning or reassignment.

    back to @ 72 aspleen

    If it helps, think of a woman’s right to an elective abortion as a right that’s particular to women.

    facepalm

    See this is called cisnormativity. Right after asking what rights trans people lack you made the assumption that the whole world is cis and therefore no non-woman can get pregnant. That’s transphobic in exactly the same as it would be homophobic to assume everyone who has a “wife” is a man (thus erasing lesbian marriage). Indirect discrimination. It’s a thing.

  119. says

    @VolcanoMan 126
    You should have stopped when you were going to post about “relentless attacks” while pathetically incapable of demonstrating relentless attacks. That’s not the internet, that’s YOU.
    If someone says they were attacked and you act to help and you can’t accurately describe the attack, that’s on YOU. I don’t care if it’s months old, be fucking ready to post that shit. Your first quote of the tweet didn’t even use elipses making that much harder to trust your reading.

    As of now I’m fine believing the quote refers to leaving the metaphorical church, and your utter lack of anything resembling a “relentless attack” is noted.

    @134
    So what if the argument isn’t to your taste? That’s what you have to respond to now. You don’t get to keep droning on about how you think it’s bad that someone is making a connection to violence, you say why you think the specific reasons they give are wrong.

    @kkehno 130
    I noticed Volcano Man keeps bringing up things the video addresses too. I don’t believe they watched it, and if they watched it they certainly didn’t absorb anything well enough to competently disagree.

  120. kkehno says

    @brony 151

    They actually admited just “getting idea where the video is going” at 134 rather than actually watch the whole thing. Must be one of those “rational skeptics” who just are not capable to fall prey on a lie or half truths and get the whole picture from few snippets bc they just cant be wrong.

  121. fledanow says

    To aspleen and ilk: When you are talking with a trans person, what do you think you are talking with, a cabbage?! Of course trans rights are human rights!

  122. Hj Hornbeck says

    Huh, so the Rachel Oates supporters disappeared after I started dropping citations?

    Interesting.

    Very interesting.

  123. VolcanoMan says

    Sorry, got busy, had to ditch the internet for awhile.

    @148

    Oates specifically says in her tweet here:

    https://twitter.com/Rachel0ates/status/1168515531642679296

    That she disengaged with EoT for 3 months. Also in the quote you share, she says “after months of trying to be left alone…” which doesn’t imply months of continuous harassment.

    Because after months of staying away from this issue, one of EoT’s supporters tweeted THIS at her, bringing this issue to the forefront again:

    https://twitter.com/ReddVencher/status/1168028851831738368

    Oates responded with:

    https://twitter.com/Rachel0ates/status/1168069734480244738

    and then EoT got in on it here:

    https://twitter.com/EssenceOfTweet/status/1168373272133586944

    So…it appears that there’s nothing to see here…Oates wanted to move on from this, someone tried to engage her (a fact you noted in 137), she repeated her position (which everyone already knew, so this wasn’t exactly…news), and again EoT started in with the name-calling and whatnot. So regardless of who is right or wrong, this was not an issue resurrected by Oates, nor was she claiming that things had been going on for months, just that what she perceived as harassment was going on at the time she wrote that.

    Also, I’m not going to debate esoteric definitions of violence anymore. I’m not convinced, I’m not likely to convince anyone and it’s a detour to nowhere since it doesn’t have to do with the main topics, which are 1) is Oates transphobic and 2) was she harassed. I don’t know about whether she’s personally transphobic. I don’t know what’s in peoples’ hearts. But as for #2, Vencher’s attempt to raise this issue again could be read as someone trying to alert Oates’ audience to what a horrible person she is (as Vencher likely predicted that Oates wouldn’t denounce Woodford, giving them, and other people including EoT the opportunity to drag Oates’ name through the muck again)…that’s borderline harassment in my book. Plus EoT could have ignored the whole thing and kept on ignoring Oates. Their willingness to take the opportunity and engage in name-calling and assuming bad intent on Oates’ part IS harassment (though I personally wouldn’t consider it the worst sort of harassment, is absolutely something that adversely affected Oates). And finally the “do the world a favor” tweet plainly wasn’t intended as suicide-baiting, but I took it as such, as did a large number of people who saw it (some of whom were EoT’s own followers who alerted them to the fact that they thought it could be taken in this way)…so for Oates to view that as harassment as well, after a couple days of being called a liar, transphobe, sewer-mouth, piece of shit, etc. isn’t all that surprising.

    There are three sides to every story. Their side, your side, and the truth. None of us choose what kind of life we end up in, and so the perspectives we take on any issue are going to depend on factors that we didn’t choose (upbringing, genes, who our friends are, etc.). As for my using the words “relentless harassment”, while I don’t see this as THAT relentless, maybe it felt relentless to Oates, and who am I to question how someone experienced something? Also, shame on people who are accusing Oates of weaponizing (or even faking) mental illness/self-harm to get attention or attack EoT (and it’s only a couple people I’ve seen, most have taken her word on this). You don’t know what happened or why. You don’t know if she actually was cutting herself or not, or what motivated this behavior if it happened. But the accusation that someone would make up something like that, or lie about its cause turn it to her advantage to make someone they don’t like look bad is despicable without proof that Oates is a person who has done this in the past, or who has done similarly morally awful things. Until such evidence, if it exists, comes to light, it is incumbent upon us all to believe her. Depression is no joke, and some people are more sensitive to various unpleasant stimuli than others.

  124. says

    @VolcanoMan We don’t know if Oates actually cut herself, but we DO know that she chose to upload an video making it look that way, and say “look what you made me do”.

    And we also know that you got into this without actually hearing/watching EoT’s side of the story – you seem to have just took everything Oates said to be a factual narrative of events.

  125. says

    @VolcanoMan 158
    “…name-calling…”? Not useful, how do I know that’s not just a negative characterization you disagree with?
    “…drag Oates’ name through the muck…”? Again, this could be negative characteristics that feel bad to have applied but are otherwise accurate. And it’s harassment if someone points something out and you respond? Is it harassment when we collectively shame a creationist or someone else here?

    Behavior and belief is transphobic and analyzable, metaphorical “hearts” obscure what we actually have to look at to see bigotry. Intent only produces conscious bigotry. You leave out so much.

    And using self-abuse to socially manipulate other people is abusive behavior. Oats loses my sympathy when they use that behavior to try to gain power over others.

    This doesn’t look like harassment. In the video EoT mentioned six communications starting with Oats baiting EoT, and it becomes harassment when the person you are responding to began the cycle? Six communications and the one you quote is cruel because it can be misinterpreted. No.

  126. Porivil Sorrens says

    @158

    Also, I’m not going to debate esoteric definitions of violence anymore. I’m not convinced

    And thus ends any interest I have in talking with you further.

    If you, as a layperson, are going to obstinately negate actual sociological research because of gut feelings about words, you are both out of your intellectual depth and clearly too stuck in your opinion to be worth the effort to try and change your mind.

    With your willful sociological illiteracy in mind, it is very funny that you think whether or not someone is transphobic is something that can only be determined by knowing their innermost thoughts.

  127. says

    @158 VolcanoMan

    Also, I’m not going to debate esoteric definitions of violence anymore. I’m not convinced…

    ‘Harm is only real when it happens the way I say it does’.

    Ah. An ‘Ally’.

    is Oates transphobic

    This is not a central question. It is in fact irrelevant. The concrete question, ‘Did Oates materially support transphobia?’ is an unequivocal yes, since she chose to publicly support someone who had engaged in clear and obvious anti-trans rhetoric in response to him being called out for that rhetoric.

    Whatever she thinks of trans people (which let’s face it is unlikely to be terribly rife with facts and real-world experience), she unquestionably believes that engaging in public displays of transphobia do not warrant approbation. That’s supporting it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, remember?

    Their willingness to take the opportunity and engage in name-calling and assuming bad intent on Oates’ part IS harassment … And finally the “do the world a favor” tweet plainly wasn’t intended as suicide-baiting, but I took it as such, as did a large number of people who saw it …so for Oates to view that as harassment as well…

    Something is not harassment just because the recipient doesn’t like it. You have decided to rewrite the definitions of ‘harm’ and ‘harassment’ at will to support your stanning for Oates. Everyone in this thread is coughing from the exhaust left by the high-speed engines you strapped onto those goalposts.

    I am more than ever convinced you are just an Oates fanboy who came here to defend the object of your pseudo-worship at all costs, seemingly in the face of the facts, the evidence, and even the English language.

    Because if there’s one ironclad law of the Internet at this stage, it’s that any post standing tall for trans rights is inevitably going to be infected by transphobes and devolve into either outright anti-trans abuse, or nitpickery about just how transphobic you have to be to be ‘transphobic’ and why you can’t call someone out for a LITTLE bit of it.

    Could you just go away? All you’ve really done here is ruin your own reputation and convince some people (such as me) who had not heard of any of this before that Oates is a privilege-blinded defender of bigots.

  128. Hj Hornbeck says

    Ah, phooey. And right when I was busy with something else.

    VolcanoMan @ 158:

    [Oates] repeated her position (which everyone already knew, so this wasn’t exactly…news)

    Her position isn’t static. A few times she’s said that transgender athletes should be able to compete under their chosen gender…

    I didn’t support the original video Steve made, but I did and do support transgender athletes being able to compete wherever they want, unless someone can prove it’s harmful in some way. For me, the default position on pretty much everything is, and always will be, let people do what they want until we can see and prove its causing harm in some way.

    … but on Twitter, she always gives a different answer along these lines …

    I’m obviously happy to voice my support for the transgender community any time but on the topic of which groups transgender athletes should compete in, I’m not willing to make any claims at present. I don’t know anywhere near to enough about competitive sports to have a fully formed opinion and so to make a claim on video saying either ‘transgender athletes should / should not be allowed to compete in whichever group’ would be completely dishonest on my part.

    Likewise, she’s variously complained that she doesn’t care about sports, no-one is willing to educate her on the topic of transgender athletes, and that “it would take hours and honestly months to get to the point where I understood enough to form a solid opinion one way or another” which is impossible because she’d “have to stop working on other videos and [she] could not afford to do that.” Her answers morph depending on the situation and who’s asking.

    About the only consistency is that she won’t speak an ill word about Rationality Rules, nor his second video about transgender athletes. abbeycadabra had a phrase for this…

  129. Hj Hornbeck says

    Volcanoman @158:

    I don’t know about whether she’s personally transphobic.

    An interesting fact about EssenceOfThought: they prefer “they”/”them” pronouns, but are fine with “she” or “he.” Transphobes take this as excuse to call them “him,” as technically that’s OK. But note the key word “prefer;” if you truly cared to get someone’s pronouns right, you’d use their preferred pronoun rather than an acceptable one. The insistence on “him” reveals the transphobe’s internal beliefs.

    When Oates first encounters EoT in May, they get into a long Twitter rant where they repeatedly call them “him.” In the last Tweet, though, Oates tacks this on at the very end:

    Also, I’m really sorry if I got EoT’s pronouns wrong in this thread – I’ve heard different things about which pronouns they prefer & may have slipped up here.

    Fair enough. But here’s Oates talking about EssenceOfThought four months later, in a prepared statement:

    In regards to Essence of Thought calling the police and claiming to be the ‘only one’ actually helping me. It didn’t. He called the police. Who apparently turned up at my old flat, broke the door down and then they wasted hours and many resources trying to find me. Meanwhile, I was at home with my friends around me, having all my Youtube friends send me love and support and check in on me. My family phoned me. People were there for me, helping. […]

    It was embarrassing and made me feel more weak and pathetic. I feel like it wasted police time because I was home and in constant contact with my entire family and numerous friends. EoT was clearly just trying to cover his back while actively ignoring what I and my friends had told people.

    There’s a few possible explanations here. Either someone did tell Oates EoT’s preferred pronouns, and she chose “he” over “they,” or in the span of four months none of her circle of friends cared enough about EoT’s pronouns to insist on “they” over “he.” This suggests she’s either a closet transphobe, or most of her friends are transphobes. But if the latter was true, how could she be free of transphobia yet keep them as friends?

    Ergo, this provides some evidence that Rachel Oates is a closet transphobe.

  130. Hj Hornbeck says

    Abe Drayton @ 159:

    We don’t know if Oates actually cut herself, but we DO know that she chose to upload an video making it look that way, and say “look what you made me do”.

    While I’m here, I should mention that I do believe Oates cut herself on September 4th, in that video. I haven’t seen the footage, so there’s a slim chance I’m wrong, but I think the circumstantial evidence is quite strong.

  131. says

    Hj Hornbeck@ 165 – Well, I hope she’s doing better/getting the help she needs. Her decision to make a video while in the midst of it struck me as suspicious, but I guess I should know better than to assume everybody processes that kind of emotional upheaval the way I would.

  132. says

    @HJ Hornbeck

    Now that I’ve read your lengthy timeline post, something occurred to me, a familiar pattern.

    There is a great deal of discourse about how white (cishet) women weaponize their tears or distress to disempower and condemn Black people, especially Black women, in a conflict. Everything read like Oates doing exactly the same thing, but targeted at a different sort of marginalized minority.

    Weaponized privilege. She got a GoFundMe out of this!

  133. Hj Hornbeck says

    Abe Drayton @ 166:
    I was of the same opinion, but a closer look at the evidence pushed me from “I’ll assume it’s true for pragmatic reasons” to “it’s probably true.”

    Here’s the theory of the case: Rachel Oates suffers from depression and anxiety, to a greater extent than they’ve revealed publicly. They cope with it through a mixture of therapy and self-medication, the latter consisting of displays of love via friends and supporters she encourages from her supporters. They have engaged in self-harm in the past, but have kept that private for fear of someone weaponizing it against her. Most of her friends and some of her supporters are either transphobic or highly tolerant of it, a difference without distinction.

    Shortly after EoT’s “exit it” tweet on September 2nd, Oates’ friends and supporters take the least charitable interpretation due to their transphobia, and use their close connection to Oates to express outrage that EoT would ask one of Oates’ fans to kill themselves. This causes her depression/anxiety to surge and triggers thoughts of self-harm. Oates mentions feeling down and declares she’s taking a break, but continues to keep the self-harm thoughts to herself.

    On September 3rd, the narrative mutates to become EoT calling on Oates herself to commit suicide. Friends/fans late to the controversy start sending her that message instead, along with their shows of sympathy, which raises the thoughts of self-harm to a feverish pitch. She copes by sending and receiving love from her fans, but in the process keeps getting re-exposed to the message that EoT asked her to commit suicide. One of her coping mechanisms is now harming her. She obsesses over getting an apology to her from EoT, after seeing EoT apologize to others.

    On September 4th, her condition is so desperate that she launches one last attempt to earn an apology. EoT, unaware of Oates’ private situation and being crushed by the flood of harassment, issues a harsh reply arguing they’ve done nothing wrong and that bad actors have been pushing the suicide narrative. Denied, Rachel Oates succumbs to her dark thoughts.

  134. Hj Hornbeck says

    abbeycadabra @167:

    There is a great deal of discourse about how white (cishet) women weaponize their tears or distress to disempower and condemn Black people, especially Black women, in a conflict. Everything read like Oates doing exactly the same thing, but targeted at a different sort of marginalized minority.

    You’re not the first person to notice this.

    EssenceOfThought: ‘How White Women Use Strategic Tears To Silence Women Of Colour’ – Ruby Hamad.
    “The legitimate grievances of brown and black women are no match for the accusations of a white damsel in distress.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/08/how-white-women-use-strategic-tears-to-avoid-accountability (Sep 4th, 6:36 AM)

    If EoT noticed Oates’ video around 9AM that day, that Tweet was sent after Oates had posted her video but before EoT had seen it. I thought it was a little too on-the-nose to include in the timeline.

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