The Christian Right poisons everything


I know Christopher Hitchens’ motto was that religion poisons everything, but maybe we should be smarter about parceling out the blame. Here’s a fascinating thread by Jane Carnall about the history of splitting out the “T” in “LGBT”. In Scotland, the alliance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people was basically taken for granted; in the US, the hate campaign against gay marriage was stopped cold by a Supreme Court decision. The Religious Right needed a new way to spew venom over non-cis non-heterosexual people, and they consciously decided that one way way would be to splinter the alliance.

So in 2017, at the Values Voter Summit held by the FRC (Patriarchy Research Council), they said it explicitly.

As Right Wing Watch also mentioned in their coverage of the same panel, a trend emerged during the session, as various speakers wrapped their opposition to nondiscrimination measures in rhetoric passing as progressive: transgender rights were depicted as anti-feminist, hostile to minorities and even disrespectful to LGB individuals. This seems to be part of a larger strategy, meant to weaken transgender rights advocates by attempting to separate them from their allies, feminists and LGBT rights advocates.

In her presentation, Kilgannon [a conservative activist] mapped out three non-negotiables in the fight against the so-called gender identity agenda, a conspiracy theory touted by anti-LGBT groups that disavows sexual orientation and gender identity. The first is to “divide and conquer. For all its recent success, the LGBT alliance is actually fragile and the trans activists need the gay rights movement to help legitimize them.” In other words, separate trans activists from the gay rights movement, and their agenda becomes much easier to oppose. As Kilgannon explained, “Trans and gender identity are a tough sell, so focus on gender identity to divide and conquer.” For many, “gender identity on its own is just a bridge too far. If we separate the T from the alphabet soup we’ll have more success.”

I’m rather impressed at how readily the Religious Right adopted feminist rhetoric to use against the open, tolerant views of LGBT feminists. Strategically it’s brilliant, even if it is hypocritical and morally repugnant, since they hate LGBs as much as they do Ts. They are consciously allying with a group they plan to stab in the back, once LGBT unity is weakened.

Kilgannon identified a wide coalition of potential allies outside the Christian Right who could confront trans friendly measures. Here’s her advice on how to draw them in:

Explain that gender identity rights only come at the expense of others: women, sexual assault survivors, female athletes forced to compete against men and boys, ethnic minorities who culturally value modesty, economically challenged children who face many barriers to educational success and don’t need another level of chaos in their lives, children with anxiety disorders and the list goes on and on and on.

The list could almost read like a manifesto for intersectionality, if it weren’t for its exclusion of some key groups, most notably transgender people themselves.

For Kilgannon, an example of effective coalition building includes the Hands Across the Aisle Coalition (HATAC), a group that unites religious and non-religious women to oppose transgender rights.

Yeah, good work, secular Americans. You were duped.

Let’s not forget that the Religious Right had reciprocal assistance from TERFs.

In many ways, there are possible allies to this pivot toward anti-trans secular movements: trans-exclusionary radical feminists, dubbed TERFs by some activists, have made waves in recent years. Some TERFs have reclaimed the term and redubbed themselves PERFs, penis-exclusionary radical feminists. Their rationale is that people who are assigned male at birth can never experience the same conditions as women do, and still hold on to their male privilege. (The latter becomes harder to prove in the face of the discrimination experienced by trans and gender non-conforming people.) As reported by Political Research Associates, trans-exclusionary feminists “may actually be guilty of drafting [the Christian Right’s] talking points, adding fuel to the fire of this dangerous anti-trans frenzy.”

I feel clarity coming on, like a nice cool draft of water. The barbarians who want to destroy our civilization and remake it in the stifling raiment of theocracy hate me for my atheism and science, despite the fact that I’m conventionally cis and hetero. They hate my friends who might be gay, or trans, or anti-authoritarian, or black, or liberal Christians, or Muslim, or any other that doesn’t conform to their views, and they are having remarkable success at picking off one narrow demographic at a time and weakening the bonds of our unity. We should know better here in the US, where the Religious Right has used single-issue rhetoric like an icepick against the body politic, splintering us into deeply divided blocs that they can manipulate. They’ve been using abortion, for instance, as a tool to get people to vote against their own interests, and now they’re gearing up to use anti-trans ranting to break us up further.

Stand strong, everyone. Don’t let disunity allow the Robertsons and Falwells and Copelands and all the other parasites to win.

Comments

  1. says

    Sorry for the schadenfreude, but they’ve been doing this all along. Whether it’s LGBT, atheism, feminism or anything else. They’re using our own best values and worst fears not to persuade and convince, but to make us doubt and second-guess ourselves. They’re still the status quo, so the resulting stalemate counts as a win for them.

  2. says

    I’ll never forgive self declared leftists and feminists making common cause with the religious right. I mean, I can’t blame the scorpion for being a scorpion, but what must be going on in your head to think: “Look, there are these people, many of them my friends, with whom I agree on 95% of issues. And there are these other people, my long-standing enemies, whose positions are diametrically opposed to mine 95% of the times. Now let me throw my friends under the bus and join hands with the religious right over trans people.”

  3. says

    @4 I’m dead serious (serious enough to hit “Post Comment” before finishing) about this. If a woman calling herself a feminist starts talking about how “evil, rapey men are colonizing women’s safe spaces”, how many people stop to check as to whether the speaker isn’t a right-wing shill?

  4. says

    @Susan
    Some of them do so openly, aka the whole “Hands across the aisle” thing.
    For others the denial is just a river in Egypt I guess. Which makes them exhibit just the same level of cognitive dissonance they usually mock in religious people.
    Though I’m sure they claim the same about me, thinking I’m brainwashed cause I believe that people born with a dick can indeed be women.

  5. says

    This happened before. Some of the antiporn feminists in the late ’70s and early ’80s found themselves de facto allied with antiporn activists on the right. Both opposed porn, but the right also opposed women’s rights that those feminists supported.

  6. says

    @7 The “conservatives are just liberals who haven’t been hugged enough” crowd are still having their values of compromise and cooperation used against them. It just hasn’t dawned on them that conservatives have no intention of reciprocity and haven’t since 2008, if not since 1992.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    Reminds me of the recent call among commentators from the so-called “dirtbag” Left (i.e. class reductionists who think that just ridding ourselves of capitalism will cure all oppression and consider issues of race, gender, and religion to be upper-class-created distractions) to find common cause with the far-right on the ground that all what the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, and other fascist thugs are REALLY upset about is wealth inequality. History has also shown otherwise.

  8. mvdwege says

    Their rationale is that people who are assigned male at birth can never experience the same conditions as women do, and still hold on to their male privilege.

    I don’t get this reasoning. Boiled down to its essentials it says “unless you underwent this specific patriarchical oppression, you are not a woman”.

    Defining “woman” purely as a reaction to patriarchy seems to be buying into the power of the patriarchy to set definitions. Not quite productive, I think.

    (Yes, I know actual Radical Feminism is a lot more complex than that. Which is why TERFs are not radfems, but bigots hiding behind Radical Feminism)

  9. chrislawson says

    I saw this in Australia in the 1980s when some radical feminist groups actively worked with the Catholic Church to try to make IVF illegal here. It still astonishes me.

  10. Aoife_b says

    I’m suspicious of anyone that wants to define their gender by the suffering they’ve faced

  11. cartomancer says

    In some cases, at least, this tactic is very much counter-productive. I know that in my own case it has clarified my views on the rights of trans people and the importance of defending them from exculsionary bigotry. Truth be told I didn’t think about trans people much if at all before I noticed they were the targets of the same kind of discrimination and bigotry that I had experienced as a cis gay man, probably worse at this moment in history. The tunes were all too familiar. Particularly the ones about public toilets.

    I remember vividly how peers in the mid 90s, when I was growing up, would boast loudly about how the mere idea of sharing a toilet or changing room with a gay person was abhorrent to them. How affording us equal marriage would diminish the special value that heterosexual marriage has. How we were dangerous for “recruiting” young men into our “lifestyle”, and thus it shouldn’t be “promoted” and was only a “pretended family relationship”. Some even said that we weren’t really gay at all, just confused. I remember these tunes very well. You still hear them sometimes, albeit at much lower volume.

    So when I see the same sorts of people spewing the same sorts of bile, I know which side of the argument I want to be on.

  12. PaulBC says

    I live by a simple principle that if someone is doing no harm to others, then I have no say if what they are doing, whether I understand it or not. I like to understand other people’s motivations when possible, but it’s neither a realistic goal all the time, nor a requirement for respecting their rights to “Purfuit of Happinefs”.

    This is less “woke” than something I picked up from 70s worldview of my early childhood, the difference being that maybe I took a lot of it literally (it’s OK to be you, that sort of thing) when others did not.

    I won’t claim there’s a clear solution here, but the problem is evident. If dominant culture has reached the view that gay marriage is OK but only through some tortuous logic beyond “This is what they clearly want, so they should do it.” then it’s an opening to slide the goalpost: yes, that one thing is “tolerable”, but this next thing is not. This is where the religious right or any other would-be controller will find an opening.

    The point that other people are doing no harm is vital, and actually, rights do come into conflict. If someone is just unhappy about the existence of LGBT people, then I don’t know what can add to their happiness except maybe get some therapy. If they need to impose their views with violence or abuse, then the law is empowered to stop them. We can’t always do what we want to do. But the key test is not whether I understand or approve, just whether rights are in conflict.

  13. Howard Brazee says

    The blame game works for a while. But as more and more “others” are found to blame, the core that is left gets smaller and smaller.

  14. says

    Explain that gender identity rights only come at the expense of others: women, sexual assault survivors, female athletes forced to compete against men and boys, ethnic minorities who culturally value modesty, economically challenged children who face many barriers to educational success and don’t need another level of chaos in their lives, children with anxiety disorders and the list goes on and on and on.

    What a fascinating piece of “wisdom.”
    If you equate “women” with “AFAB” (as TERFs tend to do), then transphobia harms some people whom you call “women” (namely, trans men). So no, gender identity rights do not come at the expense of AFAB people, because some of us are trans men and need a non transphobic society in order to survive.
    Most sexual assault survivors have been abused by cis men or cis women, and trans women are a tiny minority of all abusers.
    Cis female athletes suffer when forced to undergo humiliating genital examinations or medical tests to determine who they are.
    Excessive modesty norms that also serve to enforce rigid gender roles are harmful also for women and LGBTQ+ people. For example, how can a tomboy or a woman with career aspirations thrive in a culture that tells her how to cover up her entire body all the time and abstain from leaving her home without a father/husband accompanying her?
    My favorite from this list is probably “economically challenged children who face many barriers to educational success,” because I used to be such a child, and my life was made harder by adults who desperately tried to force me to be a girly girl when in reality I am trans and prefer to live as male.
    As for “children with anxiety disorders,” well, living in a cissexist society that tries to force strict adherence to gender norms based on the shape of your genitals can indeed cause or promote anxiety.

  15. says

    mvdwege

    I don’t get this reasoning. Boiled down to its essentials it says “unless you underwent this specific patriarchal oppression, you are not a woman”.

    But that’s their whole thing, plus they actually believe that much of that oppression and suffering is inherent in being a (cis) woman. They are extremely into male supremacy and call it feminism.
    Just today I read a post (I can give you references if you want to) where the increasing number of afab children seeking transition related care is explained by the “fact” that growing up as a girl inherently sucks. While the author acknowledges that puberty sucks for everybody, they claim that boys get something good out of it, i.e.strength and muscles and, I kid you not, “voice resonance”, while girls only get bad things like sexual harassment.
    They keep defining women by a set of physical characteristics and they deeply hate those very same characteristics and define them solely in negative ways. I mean, I’m a cis woman, I’ve made it through all the things that typically happen to cis women on accounts of our biology except menopause, and while I won’t say I enjoyed every minute of it, it’s also not a freak show of horrors. I am not oppressed on accounts of my biology. I am oppressed because people think that because of my biology I should do certain things, not do other things (especially not have authority over them), and that my capacity to gestate new humans should be at their disposal.
    Teenage girls aren’t harassed because they’re growing breasts, and while I won’t say my daughters aren’t occasionally ambivalent about the changes that happen to their bodies, they are also not suffering horribly. They take many of the changes as a sign of growing up, of no longer being a child. They look at themselves in the mirror and start to see the women they’ll be. They steal my make up. They aren’t suffering horribly, probably because they don’t suffer from gender dysphoria (oh no, please forgive me for being a bad ally, I have not transed my children! Despite giving them accurate information about trans people and talking to them about the fact that some kids are trans and that there’s nothing wrong with that, they still haven’t turned trans! /irony, just in case).

    Andreas

    If you equate “women” with “AFAB” (as TERFs tend to do), then transphobia harms some people whom you call “women” (namely, trans men). So no, gender identity rights do not come at the expense of AFAB people, because some of us are trans men and need a non transphobic society in order to survive.

    Ahhh, but they assume that you are simply not right in your mind and have been hurt by the patriarchy. Because nothing says “feminism” like claiming that young afab people really don’t know what they want and need somebody else to tell them.

  16. kathleenzielinski says

    I’m a dyke, which means that by definition I am not interested in dating people with penises. Sorry, but that’s a deal breaker. I fully support legal rights for anyone regardless of how they identify. I’m even fine with people with penises who identify as women using the same bathroom I do.

    But I do draw the line at people who tell me — and I have been told — that I’m a transphobe if I’m not interested in dating someone with a penis. And I’m also fine with excluding people with penises from some women’s social groups, because our desire to socialize is founded on common life experiences. Our common life experiences are different from the life experiences of someone born with a penis. It’s not just that we identify as women, and it’s only partially a matter of anatomy. Rather, it’s that my life experiences are not the same as theirs, and I want to spend my time with people that I understand, and who understand me, because of our common life experiences. That’s all.

    Now, can someone please explain to me why that’s an outrageous position to take.

  17. KG says

    kathleenzielinski@21,
    You can date who you like, and socialize with whom you like. The “outrageous position” is pretending that any but a tiny minority of trans people say otherwise.

  18. microraptor says

    @21: It’s telling that you immediately reduce people to what’s between their legs, then assume that trans women would actually want to date you. As if who people choose to date had ever been relevant to the discussion.

  19. specialffrog says

    @21: When you say you are okay with “excluding people with penises from some women’s social groups” are you talking about personally not choosing to socialize with trans people or barring trans people from women’s organizations? Because there is a big difference between the two.

  20. cartomancer says

    kathleenzielinski, #21

    Others have addressed the distasteful reduction of an individual to a body part already. Likewise the implication that this was ever about telling you who you can or cannot find attractive. We all have our weird quirks when it comes to potential partners. I find men with facial hair a deal-breaker, for instance. But I wouldn’t go around excluding bearded men from male spaces just because I don’t want to fuck them.

    It’s this idea of excluding trans women from women’s spaces on the grounds that you’d prefer to socialise only with people who share your life experiences that’s the biggest issue, I think. “I don’t want to talk to you” is not a valid reason to insist that someone else be denied access to communal spaces you frequent.

    Moreover, I’m sure there are a lot of trans women whom you have far more in common with than you do with many other cis women. For that matter, there are probably plenty of men and non-binary people you have more in common with than you do with many other cis women. Straight cis men find women sexually attractive for instance – you have that in common with them. Should women who don’t speak any of the same languages you do be excluded for the same reason? Should women who don’t share your political views and you don’t want to talk to for that reason? Should straight women, with whom you cannot discuss Sapphic business, be excluded from women’s spaces?

    One wonders what exactly it is you talk about in these spaces, if having been born with a certain shape of genitals or a certain set of chromosomes is the sine qua non for participation. Are these spaces strictly nude-only? Does one carry the results of one’s DNA test around at all times and compare them with others?

  21. KG says

    When you say you are okay with “excluding people with penises from some women’s social groups” are you talking about personally not choosing to socialize with trans people or barring trans people from women’s organizations? Because there is a big difference between the two. – specialfrog@24

    For clarity, I assumed the former. You are of course right that there’s a big difference.

  22. mvdwege says

    @Gilliel

    No need to link me the post; I’ve read plenty like it.

    My minor problem with TERFs is that they are so freaking bad at disguising their naked bigotry; illogic really pisses me off. My major problem is that it is aimed at my friends.

  23. PaulBC says

    I had to look this up to make sure, but I think everything in @21 falls under Freedom of association. Clearly nobody can require you to go out on a date with anyone for any reason. For that matter, nobody can make you sit at the same table for lunch, even if your reasons are entirely bigoted. It gets more complicated if you’re the person in charge of a shared facility. But there’s a big difference between “Blacks are not allowed in my diner.” (which is illegal in the US) and “I will not eat at a diner if there are Black people there.” (racist, hateful, and terrible in many respects, but still your right under the law).

    When it comes to dating, it’s largely about personal discretion. Nobody owes that level of intimacy to anyone else. People sometimes talk about their “type” and while my inclination is to look askance if someone’s “type” encapsulates a degree of bigotry (blonde or having some body shape or whatever), it’s ultimately none of my business.

    I do not think (to get very specific here) there is a large contingency who believes that “dykes” should be required to go out on dates with “trans people with penises.” (Given that you can find someone who espouses nearly any belief, they probably exist. It just sounds like kind of a strawman.)

  24. kathleenzielinski says

    What someone has between their legs is only rarely relevant, but one exception is in terms of whom one chooses to date. A straight cis man is not going to date someone with a penis. Neither is a lesbian. And my views are colored by the fact that on one occasion, I was hit on by a trans woman with a penis; when I explained as gently as I could that I only date people with ladyparts, she flew into a rage and spent the next year making my life as miserable as she could. This included trying to get me fired from my job and poisoning my business and personal relationships. So, No. 22, you may well be right that she’s only a tiny minority, but that doesn’t change the validity of my experience. There are those out there who think people who don’t date people with penises are terrible transphobes; spend a few minutes on google and you’ll find that I’m not the only person to whom that has happened.

    As far as excluding people with penises from women’s spaces and groups, that candidly depends on what type of group we’re talking about. If it’s a softball league or a gardening club, fine. But there are social settings in which women who have been badly injured by people with penises want to open up and talk about their experiences, and having people with penises there makes it awkward if not impossible. Or, even if they don’t want to talk about it, they also don’t want to be around people with penises. And you can tell me all the reasons why they’re being irrational, but it doesn’t make any difference: They need a safe space, and that means excluding people with penises. And even if it’s just a discussion group, in our experience people with penises, who were raised male, tend to act like males and completely take over and dominate the conversation. When I talk about common life experiences, that’s part of what I’m talking about.

    And this is what I think is the bottom line: Of course there is some transphobia among lesbians. That said, lesbians also have real needs of our own that are best met if we don’t invite in people with penises. We had this same conversation thirty years ago when men who did not identify as women nevertheless attacked us as exclusionary for not wanting cis men in our spaces. And its the same dynamic. Even if you disagree with us, please try to understand where we’re coming from.

  25. PaulBC says

    @21

    But I do draw the line at people who tell me — and I have been told — that I’m a transphobe if I’m not interested in dating someone with a penis.

    One thing I wanted to add, though it should be obvious. You don’t get to control what other people think about you. If someone considers you a transphobe for that reason, you don’t have to listen to them or respect their viewpoint, but that’s going to be their views anyway. Human beings form judgments, not all of them fair, and you live with it. If they “tell” you this beyond a certain point, it could amount to harassment, but you really can’t do much about their views.
    @30

    I was hit on by a trans woman with a penis; when I explained as gently as I could that I only date people with ladyparts, she flew into a rage and spent the next year making my life as miserable as she could.

    This example might be more compelling if it had some specificity. If a cis-hetero man were to believe erroneously that some cis-hetero woman “should” be interested in his advances and is not, for instance, the same situation might (and often does) ensue. People are upset at being turned down and some act on it abusively. The specifics of your situation aren’t really relevant.

  26. Tethys says

    Hmmm, this is just a wild guess, but perhaps those trans women were vindictive to the lesbians because the lesbians were gaslighting assholes who are bizarrely fixated on a phallus rather than responding to the person who owned it as a fellow human being?

    The poor penis didn’t do anything. No need to fear them. Reading the unhinged penis fears sounds as if the Terfs think they detach themselves and rove about in packs that thirst after ‘real’ lesbians.

  27. Allison says

    kathleenzielinski @21

    I’m a dyke, which means that by definition I am not interested in dating people with penises.

    Do you really mean “people with penises”? Because plenty of trans women do not have penises. Or do you actually mean trans women, whether or not they have penises? “People with penises” is frequently used as a disparaging term for “trans women,” so if you don’t mean “trans women”, speaking of “pre-op/non-op trans women” would make your meaning clear.

  28. Allison says

    kathleenzielinski @21

    But I do draw the line at people who tell me — and I have been told — that I’m a transphobe if I’m not interested in dating someone with a penis.

    Given that anyone growing up in a Western society has been practically marintated in transphobia (and racism, etc.) since birth, it’s reasonable for us to guess that your “not interested” is at least partly due to internalized transphobia. In that sense, yes, it is not unreasonable to assume that your “preference” is an expression of transphobia.

    You may be perfectly content with your preferences, but at least “own” the fact that your preference is in perfect alignment with our society’s bigotries.

  29. microraptor says

    @30: It’s impossible to fail to notice that you’re completely ignoring the existence of trans men, as TERFs are wont to do. And also insulting all the cis people who are straight or gay and have had loving relationships with trans people.

    An in case I wasn’t clear enough the first time: quit flattering yourself, trans lesbians don’t want anything to do with a nasty TERF like you. We have standards. All you’re doing is repeating the tired old conservative scare tactics about how gay people are trying to trick straight people into relationships.

  30. cartomancer says

    #30,

    I don’t think your assertion that no straight cis male would want to date a trans woman is accurate. I have a straight male friend who has done so several times in the past and would be more than happy to do so again. As a gay man myself, I would be open to the idea of a relationship with a trans man should the right one come along and show interest (unlikely, given how sexually repulsive I am in general, but you know what I mean).

    I get the thinking behind your example of an abuse survivors’ support group, but it strikes me as a peculiarly narrow-minded thinking. Why is the presence or absence of an organ important? Would we accept the same logic based on other characteristics? Would we say it is perfectly ok to exclude German women from these groups if other members have been abused by Germans? Or Black women? Or older women? Would you feel comfortable being told that you can’t be a part of this because someone else was raped by another woman and finds the idea of lesbians in general unsettling? Trans women are actually far MORE likely to be the victims of sexual abuse than cis women – in that sense they share this particular commonality to a greater degree.

  31. says

    kathleenzielinski

    A straight cis man is not going to date someone with a penis. Neither is a lesbian.

    Just out of curiosity, who died and made you the spokesperson for both lesbians AND straight cis guys?
    First of all, there are indeed lesbians who do have a penis (for someone who is not interested in dicks you sure do talk about them a lot), there are also cis people who find out that they are a lot more interested in the person than the genital.
    As for the “socialisation” argument :
    For one thing, many trans people will tell you that their socialisation was not the one typical of their assigned gender because there was always a discrepancy between the way the world saw them and the way they were, not to mention the hard time kids seen as “boys” get for being effeminate.
    For another thing, socialisation differs a lot depending on many factors. Whether you’re white, black, rich, poor, natural citizen, immigrant, I could go on and on. Cis women are not some monolith, no matter how much some (usually well off white women) women would like to pretend.

  32. says

    Akira @10:

    That’s in part because the right-wing elements also redefine who is entitled to economic equality, without regard to the problems illuminated by Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” and “original position” illustrations. (Which are not complete explanations, but don’t pretend to be, either.)

    If you look carefully at the “equality of opportunity” meme from the Proud Boys, for example, you’ll see that it doesn’t apply to immigrants. Or to those whose ancestors did not also comply with the Proud Boys’ mandated worldview. Or to the disabled. Or, basically to anyone not already just like them.

    That is precisely what conservative organized religion (regardless of religion!) does: It often espouses an “equality” meme, but only for those sufficiently orthodox. For example, for every individual member of organized religion who really follows a “minister to the poor” meme (leaving aside the condescension and arrogance in that, let alone the resources behind them while they’re “ministering”), there are half a dozen hucksters and leaders selling indulgences. (Today, that’s “preaching the Prosperity Gospel” more often than anything formal.)

    None of which is to say that “it’s all about class/economics.” It’s only to say that that’s a major issue, one that is usually carefully buried to avoid inquiry into either the institution’s wealth or the preacher’s wealth. Or both. And when one’s institutional leadership is coming from such a narrow subpopulation, that can’t help but influence the institutional viewpoint.

  33. kathleenzielinski says

    No, 38, words have meaning. It’s not that I’m the official spokesperson for anything; it’s that a male who enjoys sex with someone who has a penis is, by definition, not straight. Any more than a person who thinks the rich already pay too much in taxes isn’t a socialist. Or someone who eats meat isn’t a vegetarian. The purpose of language is to communicate, which can only happen if it is understood that words mean things.

    That said, thank you one and all for the conversation. I don’t want to have an argument about it; I just wanted to be sure you understood where “my side” is coming from on this issue. I’ve now done that. Over and out.

  34. oddie says

    kathleenzielinski doesn’t date ladies with dicks because she is the prick in every relationship.

  35. captainjack says

    PaulBC @ #16

    But the key test is not whether I understand or approve, just whether rights are in conflict.

    True that. I’m an old straight guy and I don’t understand, but so what. There’s parts of MY body I don’t like. Too much fat. Not enough hair. Who’s to say I shouldn’t get liposuction or hair transplants? I’ve got no patience for people who think they’re qualified to run somebody else’s business. Miss me with that bullshit.

  36. John Morales says

    In the news: https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/02/detransition-movement-star-ex-gay-explained.html

    Pullquote:

    Now, some former members of this so-called detransition movement have themselves grown disillusioned with detransition orthodoxy and are starting to speak out. They report that, despite their efforts to change, they’re still trans. They want people to know that the detransition movement couldn’t fix them—indeed, they never needed fixing in the first place.

  37. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @40: No, a man who is attracted to another man is by definition not straight. So if they are attracted to a trans man they are not straight. Your definition begs the question: The point everyone else is making here is that trans folks, intersex folks and folks with unusual chromosomes don’t fall into any biologically rooted binary, so gender is transparently what counts. Your definition sidesteps that by just assuming transphobic assumptions.

    Your initial comment seemed like an oblique reference to the cotton ceiling. This is something that dawned on me over time. On the one hand, no one owes anyone sex or a date or anything. We can’t control our attraction. On the other hand, I turned down trans women for reasons that upon reflection were just me being closed-mihded. So it’s possible for nonsense ideas of masculinity and femininity to poison us even when we are emphatically not bigots.

  38. says

    Oddie, you win an internet.
    +++
    Hey, Kathleen, people have names. I’m not a number. Words have meanings, yeah, that’s one of the things you people also don’t get. Words have meanings we define. And they are hardly precise. You desperately want them to be precise and eternal, but they’re not. They change, they evolve, just as our understanding of the world and ourselves. If a straight guy meets a woman he likes and finds that he doesn’t mind her having a penis, you don’t get to question his sexuality. You actually don’t get to question anybody’s sexuality.

  39. Christian Copley says

    “it’s that a male who enjoys sex with someone who has a penis is, by definition, not straight. ”

    I’m a man who enjoys sex with someone who has a penis, but I have been full on attracted to a dude who didn’t have a penis. Does the presence of a vagina make this person not a man? If he wasn’t married, I would have asked him out. Does that make me straight (see how weird that sounds)? Gay and straight are “helpful” labels until they aren’t. Just like “atheist” normalizes to people who believe, straight and gay both normalize to heteronormativity and binary gender role assignment. Those words still have meaning, but they are not a stick with which we should beat each other. They are stepping stones to the realization that sexuality (and gender) is a personal, non-binary continuum. Humans are way too hung up on genitals.

  40. says

    In Australia this week the Victorian state government is debating legislation banning gay conversion therapy. Naturally the hard Christian right is apoplectic and is spraying the usual nonsense about it being an attack on religious freedom and parading all sorts of unlikely consequences of the legislation. The main driver of the campaign is the Australian Christian Lobby, a hard right political party with members in Parliament and a policy of turning Australia into a Christian theocratic state. They are joined in this campaign by many Muslim organisations who cannot see the irony of coming to the aid of an organisation that hates them even more than it hates gays.

  41. Marissa van Eck says

    Reading Kathleen’s posts, I could only sympathize, as I’ve been in a similar situation before :( Not as bad, thank goodness, but I’ve taken a lot of abuse from a few places and people just for having a genital preference. They said it’s transmisogyny. Which is ridiculous because I outright said I’m willing to date transwomen post-bottom-surgery, just not before! And then I got accused of “reducing people to their genitalia!” Tell me that’s not gaslighting or projection…

    If anyone’s curious as to where some of the transphobia among lesbians comes from, this kind of thing is where. There is so much awful baggage around how much women are forced or coerced into accepting sexual advances against our will already and so much gaslighting even in ordinary channels over it, and to see that happening inside the queer spaces too is frightening. Plus, we’re already basically invisible, we’re marginalized among the entire queer movement as it is, and honestly, a good chunk of transwomen still act in ways I can only describe as “male privilege.” It’s hard to put into words, but I can just tell. It’s like, they fill space in ways most women normally don’t, if that makes sense? It’s not evil or even on purpose, it’s just an artifact of spending some of their lives as men or at least acting in ways society tells AMAB people to.

    I was kind of TERF-y in college and am still trying to exterminate some of those leftover brainworms :/ It’s not been easy, but knowing some trans men has actually been really helpful. I’ve met 4 so far, one of whom is a new housemate as of last month, and they’re all really nice people. And, I’ve met one transwoman I get along with very well. But these things are never going to be easy to deal with, especially not when there’s so much at stake.

  42. says

    @kathleenzielinski 30
    This is a problem.
    “A straight cis man is not going to date someone with a penis. Neither is a lesbian. And my views are colored by the fact that on one occasion, I was hit on by a trans woman with a penis;… ”

    This and the other experiences are individuals making you feel bad, not groups. “A lesbian will not date someone with penis because some people with penises did things that made me feel bad”. You can switch “feel bad” for traumatize and it’s still group assumptions about attraction, based on negative experiences.

  43. vucodlak says

    @ kathleenzielinski, #30

    A straight cis man is not going to date someone with a penis. Neither is a lesbian.

    An individual straight cis man, or cis lesbian, might or might not date someone with a penis. As a blanket statement, however, this is obviously false. You can define your sexuality and gender, and you can define any criteria you wish to which your prospective dates must conform, but you don’t get to tell other people how they must define themselves.

    Part of the problem here is that you’re drawing a clear distinction between “women” and “people with penises.” You’re saying that people with penises cannot be women, which is false. Trans women, whether or not they have penises, are women.

    From your #40:

    No, 38, words have meaning. It’s not that I’m the official spokesperson for anything; it’s that a male who enjoys sex with someone who has a penis is, by definition, not straight.

    A straight person is one who is attracted solely to members of the opposite* gender. Therefore, a cis man can date a trans woman and still be straight, because trans women are women.

    Words do indeed have a shared meaning- the problem this time is that words do not mean only what you wish them to mean.

    *This is a problematic construction, of course, because it assumes only two genders, but you chose the terminology being discussed.

  44. anat says

    A while back something led me to introspection, and I realized that while so far all the people I have ever been attracted to were men, it is not their genitals that were attractive to me (in fact I have no idea what the genitals of most of them look like). If I ever find myself un-partnered, and if I decide to date, I really don’t see why I should a-priori exclude men whom I find attractive, decent, likable and so forth but have genitals of a shape that is not common among men.

  45. Aoife_b says

    The cis will never pass up an opportunity to loudly declare how disgusting the idea of dating us would be

  46. Silentbob says

    @30 kathleenzielinski

    A straight cis man is not going to date someone with a penis. Neither is a lesbian.

    Sorry what was that? I couldn’t hear over all the trans women roaring with laughter.

    @40 kathleenzielinski

    No, 38, words have meaning. It’s not that I’m the official spokesperson for anything; it’s that a male who enjoys sex with someone who has a penis is, by definition, not straight. Any more than a person who thinks the rich already pay too much in taxes isn’t a socialist. Or someone who eats meat isn’t a vegetarian. The purpose of language is to communicate, which can only happen if it is understood that words mean things.

    So you mean like, “wife” is by definition a man’s spouse, “husband” is by definition the spouse of a woman, “marriage” is by definition between a man an a woman? Yeah, I get it. I think I see where you’re coming from.

    Circa 1970.

  47. says

    Marissa

    Which is ridiculous because I outright said I’m willing to date transwomen post-bottom-surgery, just not before! And then I got accused of “reducing people to their genitalia!” Tell me that’s not gaslighting or projection…

    Did you actually write this with a straight face? Because you clearly say that the deal breaker is genitalia. You’re saying that you might meet a gorgeous, lovely, wonderful woman, somebody who “clicks” with you in every way, but then you’d dump her the second she tells you she’s a trans woman with a penis, but wouldn’t dump her if she didn’t have a penis. That’s pretty much exactly reducing people to their genitalia.
    But don’t worry, just make that crystal clear and I doubt that any trans woman will ever want to date you. It will also make a lot of cis women not want to date you, and I think you’ll probably find some reason why that is the real oppression.

    , a good chunk of transwomen still act in ways I can only describe as “male privilege.” It’s hard to put into words, but I can just tell. It’s like, they fill space in ways most women normally don’t, if that makes sense?

    Yeah, I know you can always tell. That explains all the transphobic abuse I get on the internet for lacking shyness and being argumentative. Which is why transphobia is just misogyny rebranded.
    Not only are women defined by the ability to make babies, no we also have to conform to gendered stereotypes. Look butch? Better don’t use the ladies or the nice women will call for the good men to beat you op.
    Be loud and unashamed? Be prepared to be called a man who tries to infiltrate women’s spaces and a child abuser.
    I’m so fucking sick and tired of it.

  48. mvdwege says

    @Gilliel:

    Be loud and unashamed? Be prepared to be called a man who tries to infiltrate women’s spaces and a child abuser.

    Yep, that’s exactly the point I was making before. The “trans women are socialised as males, therefore they are not real women” reasoning throws out all cultural and individual distinctions between women, and throws women into a straightjacket on how they must behave to be considered women.

    How anyone with a straight face can pretend that’s a feminist stance to defend women totally escapes me.

  49. Badland says

    Giliell @55

    I sincerely don’t understand your ire. If Marissa’s sexual preference is for women with women’s genitals – cis women or trans women who have had bottom surgery – that’s simply her personal sexual preference. I see how that’s reducing someone only to their genitals, but she was clear that’s her personal sexual preference and I don’t see why she should be judged harshly for that. She said nothing about excluding trans women from women’s’ spaces and to me expressed no transphobia.

    I feel I’m missing something, and given I’m a cis white male that’s highly likely, but for me and as it stands Marissa said nothing unreasonable.

  50. John Morales says

    Badland:

    I sincerely don’t understand your ire. If Marissa’s sexual preference is for women with women’s genitals – cis women or trans women who have had bottom surgery – that’s simply her personal sexual preference.

    I feel I’m missing something, and given I’m a cis white male that’s highly likely, but for me and as it stands Marissa said nothing unreasonable.

    Me too (white, cis, male, older) but I get what you are missing
    This sentence:
    “There is so much awful baggage around how much women are forced or coerced into accepting sexual advances against our will already and so much gaslighting even in ordinary channels over it, and to see that happening inside the queer spaces too is frightening.”

    See, most people don’t coerce others into”accepting sexual advances”, but that’s the salient objection.

    The not-so-hidden claim is that trans dogma entails cis lesbians should/must accept cis penis.
    Not the most credible claim, is it? And without it, that objection becomes invalidated.

    … and I don’t see why she should be judged harshly for that.

    I’ve read enough here and in trans spaces to know that’s a PRATT. And anyone steeped in the discourse knows it.

  51. John Morales says

    [erratum]
    “The not-so-hidden claim is that trans dogma entails cis lesbians should/must accept cis penis.”

    “The not-so-hidden claim is that trans dogma entails cis lesbians should/must accept trans penis.”

    But worth noting that TERFish objections always focus on trans women; trans men, well, they’re just to be pitied.

  52. Badland says

    John, thank you. I missed that.

    kathleenzielinski said that was her personal experience and I saw no reason to disbelieve her, though it’s awfully convenient for the TERF argument. Anyone sincerely arguing cis lesbians must accept trans penis is fucking dumb and I can’t see anyone making that argument in good faith, which is why Giliell’s comment confused me. I didn’t see Marissa had stepped in that particular turd.

  53. Anton Mates says

    @kathleenzielinski,

    when I explained as gently as I could that I only date people with ladyparts,

    Did you actually refer to them as “ladyparts”, thereby implying that she wasn’t really a lady? If so, you have an odd notion of “gently”.

    They need a safe space, and that means excluding people with penises. 

    I see. One would think that lesbian survivors of abuse by cis female partners need a safe space too, but that would mean excluding everybody with a vagina so I guess it’s just impossible.

    It’s not that I’m the official spokesperson for anything; it’s that a male who enjoys sex with someone who has a penis is, by definition, not straight.

    You realize that your definition conflicts with all available data on sex work and pornography, yes? Entire global industries are driven by straight men’s interest in women with penises, and have been for millennia.

    Any more than a person who thinks the rich already pay too much in taxes isn’t a socialist. Or someone who eats meat isn’t a vegetarian. 

    Socialism is a political ideology. Vegetarianism is a behavioral practice.

    Social conservatives love to reduce sexual identity to ideology plus physical behavior: for instance, dismissing gay masculinity as the “homosexual agenda” and a yen for butt stuff. Does it worry you that you’re doing the same thing here?

  54. chrislawson says

    I know it’s a long thread already:

    (1) It is actively harmful to define gay/straight by simplistic definitions such as the genitalia of the people someone has sex with. This is not an abstract point. Workers in sexual health use the terms MSM and WSW (men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women) because plenty of MSM and WSW vehemently do NOT identify as gay, and asking the wrong question will lead to flawed medical care.

    (2) There is no link between a bad experience with a trans person and trans rights. If the abuse had been at the hands of another lesbian, I doubt it would have come up as an argument against gay rights.

  55. chrislawson says

    Oh, and while it’s true that words have meaning, it’s a particularly nasty trick to impose strict definitions derived from 19th century values for the sole purpose of driving arguments that belittle vulnerable groups of people.

    I assume with this level of devotion to the strict meaning of words that you refuse to accept the existence of subatomic physics.

  56. Marissa van Eck says

    @Gilliel

    I bit back some needlessly nasty harsh replies here. We’re both afraid, I think. So for whatever this is worth, even at my TERF-adjacent-est back in college, I never bought into their agenda because there were always human rights to fall back on. Maybe that made me like the bigoted old aunt at Thanksgiving who says she’ll never “agree” to her niece and niece’s girlfriend being together but won’t stop it because “it’s your choice and it makes you happy?” And I’ve grown since then.

    I wouldn’t just cut someone out of my life on finding out she’s pre-op, either. We could still be close friends, but I’m not into male parts, period. And if that sounds hypocritical coming from someone with a vibrator, so be it. We would never have gotten to the point of a romantic relationship without me knowing, either, thanks so much! I need to be absolutely open and not have secrets with any potential lover, so that would have come up before we started dating seriously.

    It isn’t even that I find penises gross or frightening; it’s more like the idea of being attracted to a tree or a table or something, like “…huh? I don’t get it.” There’s no spark, no connection. Yes I did try, so very hard, when I was younger, to convince myself it wasn’t like that but no, they just do nothing for me, the same as mens’ bodies in general. Women (at least of the general type I like) make me shivery and melty and sweetly achy inside. Men do absolutely nothing, and maybe that neutrality offends them more than actual disgust would.

    Where did I ever say “don’t let transwomen into womens’ spaces?” Nowhere. I’m not attacking you or other transwomen by having a genital preference, and at the same time, I also really don’t appreciate getting made out to be some kind of goose-stepping trans-hater for having one either. This is exactly the kind of dogpile that happened in a supposedly inclusive group elsewhere and it was fucking mystifying, for the speed it happened at if nothing else. Let’s not do that here, okay? That is how you make TERFs. I will never become one, but I can certainly imagine people who’ve thought this through less getting sucked into the TERF vortex (“See? See? They act exactly like we said they do!”) on seeing that kind of backlash.

    Having a genital preference is not a moral judgment. It’s a simple matter of practicality: you can’t expect a couple to be successful if one isn’t attracted to or is even put off by the other. That doesn’t mean “the other” is evil or anything, it just means it’s not a compatible matchup. Being a smoker or alcoholic would be exactly as much of a dealbreaker.

  57. Rob Grigjanis says

    Giliell @55:

    Marissa

    Which is ridiculous because I outright said I’m willing to date transwomen post-bottom-surgery, just not before! And then I got accused of “reducing people to their genitalia!” Tell me that’s not gaslighting or projection…

    Did you actually write this with a straight face? Because you clearly say that the deal breaker is genitalia…That’s pretty much exactly reducing people to their genitalia.

    Well, Marissa certainly said it’s a deal breaker. It’s one of mine too! I have other deal breakers as well. Does each one of those “exactly reduce people to” whatever-the-fuck?

  58. PaulBC says

    This has become a long and confusing thread, but is there anything not covered by the simple point that everyone has the right to refuse any level of physical intimacy from any other person for any reason at all?

    It’s true you don’t get to control how you’re perceived for exercising discretion, though I would add that if society as a whole had grasped the first point, perceptions might also follow suit.

    The question of a disappointed individual acting out abusively isn’t really a trans issue at all, and in its most frequent manifestation it’s a cis-hetero man who is turned down by a cis-hetero woman. Other cases are possible and do happen, but is anyone prepared to claim this is not the most frequent case statistically?

  59. says

    It is actively harmful to define gay/straight by simplistic definitions such as the genitalia of the people someone has sex with. This is not an abstract point. Workers in sexual health use the terms MSM and WSW (men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women) because plenty of MSM and WSW vehemently do NOT identify as gay, and asking the wrong question will lead to flawed medical care.

    Well, there’s bisexual people, too. And we have a history of being counted either with the gays or the straights, depending on who our partners are. Because contrary to popular myth and to my great disappointment, we don’t run around fucking whoever doesn’t move fast enough…

    Marisa

    I wouldn’t just cut someone out of my life on finding out she’s pre-op, either. We could still be close friends, but I’m not into male parts, period.

    I doubt she’d be interested.

    I need to be absolutely open and not have secrets with any potential lover, so that would have come up before we started dating seriously.

    Wow.

    Where did I ever say “don’t let transwomen into womens’ spaces?” Nowhere.

    Where did I say you did? Or did you assume I was talking about you in person when I detailed my experiences of being a loud mouthed woman on the internet?

    I’m not attacking you or other transwomen by having a genital preference, and at the same time, I also really don’t appreciate getting made out to be some kind of goose-stepping trans-hater for having one either.

    See, this is the funny part, because you’re doing the exact thing I was talking about: Take a couple of behaviours and an opposition to transphobia and assume I’m a trans woman with all the assorted baggage that YOU put on that term. I mean, I’m not even asking you to remember the gender and whether someone is cis or trans across the internet, it’s just that I’ve written about my experiences as a cis woman in this very thread at comment #19.

    Paul BC

    This has become a long and confusing thread, but is there anything not covered by the simple point that everyone has the right to refuse any level of physical intimacy from any other person for any reason at all?

    Nobody has ever demanded anybody does. The point is: we rightly call out people’s prejudices in other areas as well.
    I’m fat, if somebody tells me they wouldn’t want to date a fat woman, I shrug my shoulders, ’cause I wouldn’t want to date that person either, but I’d be right to call the person fatphobic. How would you call somebody who says they don’t date black people?

  60. PaulBC says

    Giliell@67

    Nobody has ever demanded anybody does. The point is: we rightly call out people’s prejudices in other areas as well. … How would you call somebody who says they don’t date black people?

    Yes, we’re entitled to form judgments, and I would judge such a person a racist (see @29 where I make a related point). I might state it openly depending on circumstances and it would be my prerogative to do so.

    We’re all exposed to the judgment of others, and I would hope that as mature adults we can develop a thick skin about it instead of demanding approval every time we exercise discretion. I’m sure there are a ton of “deal breakers” for me (I’ve been married for years and not “dating” thank God so it’s moot). Some might be physical. More of them might have to do with shared interests and sense of humor. Some might strike others as unfair.

    The point really isn’t whether they’re fair or approved, just that I’m exercising my rights. You can judge me. I can feel bad about it if I so choose, but you can’t really do anything about it. Sorry, we don’t all agree on stuff. It would in my opinion be not only a less interesting world, but kind of a creepy Twilight Zone world if we actually did.

    So in short, I don’t really see kathleenzielinski@21’s statement about personal attraction problematic as much as the fact that she is so sensitive to disapproval from others.

  61. kathleenzielinski says

    All right, a question for those objecting to how I use language: Suppose you have three men (both anatomically male and self-identified as male). One of them only has sex with people who have penises. One of them never has sex with people who have penises. One of them sometimes has sex with people who have penises. What terminology would you use to describe them?

    Under the conventional taxonomy I’m using, it’s easy. The first is gay. The second is straight. The third is bisexual. No muss, no fuss, and no bother. And no moral judgments either; each of them is entitled to his own preferences, and the terminology is descriptive of those preferences; nothing more. But, since you find that methodology objectionable, how do you describe them instead?

  62. PaulBC says

    kathleenzielinski@69 One question, and I think it’s a fair one. If you had such a taxonomy and everyone agreed to it, what would its utility be? (You don’t have to answer, but it’s not intended as a snark.)

    I would answer personally that it would be of no utility to me. Honestly, I’m just not very curious about other people’s sex lives (I get that other people are). I don’t find a labeling of sexual orientation interesting as the basis of an abstract theory that provides analytical amusement, nor as something I have much application for.

    It strikes me (and maybe I’m misreading) that you are looking for a framework in which some kinds of personal discretion are on an approved list, and others are not, and then you are going to be able to use this to keep score. My view is that nobody is keeping score and it is simpler to take individuals at face value if you need to deal with them, and if this becomes unbearable, possibly take action to shut them out of your life. But there is no satisfactory rule-based framework that can determine how you should feel about them whether it is about your attraction, lack thereof, or the effect of their judgments.

  63. Aoife_b says

    @kathleen
    It depends on what the gender of the men’s partners are, obviously. You haven’t given that information, so I really can’t answer it

  64. Tethys says

    Conventional taxonomy does not define male as individuals who have a penis.

    XXY is a thing. Intersex is also a thing. Sexuality is a completely different subject. Sexuality is in your brain, not your external genitalia.

    Categorizing anyone with a penis as male, based on said bit of flesh, is both unthinkingly cruel and scientifically wrong.

    Using that rational to exclude trans women from a lesbians only social group is fear based, which is why it is being called out as transphobic.
    Some lesbians having an extra fancy clitoris does not make them men who are invading lesbians spaces, regardless of lived experience.

  65. kathleenzielinski says

    Paul, No. 70, most of the time a person’s sexual orientation is of no real relevance. Most of the time, a person’s food choices are of no real relevance either. Yet we have terms like “vegetarian” that sometimes have usefulness. As in, several of the guests at my next dinner party are vegetarians so I need to plan the menu accordingly. Or, my friend Mark is straight so there is no point to trying to set him up with my other friend Eric. And someone who says, “I’m a straight male but I have sex with people who have penises” will get the same blank stare from me as would the person who says, “I’m a vegetarian but I’m having a double cheeseburger for lunch.” There’s no moral judgment to the blank stare — everyone is entitled to their own preferences — it’s just that the conduct doesn’t seem to fit the language being used to describe it. It’s a communications issue, not a morality issue.

    And the problem with saying that I’m reducing people to their genitals is that when it comes to one’s sexual preferences, like it or not, for most people genitalia is determinative. We live in the world we actually live in, not the one you think we should live in. I am never, ever going to be sexually attracted to someone with a penis, regardless of whether they identify as male or female, and despite my willingness to recognize their right to classify as female if they choose. For someone for whom having a penis is an important thing in a partner, I’m not at all offended that that person will never, ever be attracted to me. I’m a dyke, remember. Are you really saying that any man who doesn’t want to have sex with other men is a homophobe? If so, that strikes me as a bridge too far even for many on this blog.

  66. Jado says

    Mel Brooks made fun of it, but some people are really just this petty.

    “We’ll fight for acceptance of the LGBs, but we DON’T WANT the Ts!!”

    And it makes as much sense as what Mel was lampooning as well.

  67. says

    . What terminology would you use to describe them?

    The one they use for themselves. Do you really demand some sort of proof in form of fucking that somebody is or isn’t a certain sexuality? Apart from the fact that the dude who never has sex with anybody with a penis might just be asexual.
    So, according to you there are no gay teens? And women who fucked men, with or without penises can’t be lesbians?
    Hey, my sexual history is the most boring on planet earth : I only ever had sex with exactly one dude. What’s my sexual orientation?

  68. PaulBC says

    kathleenzielinski@73

    “I’m a vegetarian but I’m having a double cheeseburger for lunch.”

    Again, taking people at face value, I’d start with the assumption that they had intended to convey something meaningful (or it could be a joke, and then I’d look for other cues). It could be “I’m [usually] a vegetarian [but I’m jonesing for beef today]”. It could be a “double [veggie] cheeseburger.” I think I’d be less reduced to a blank stare than, curiosity piqued, would like them to clarify. I doubt they’d insist that beef is a vegetable, but it’d be interesting to hear that line of reasoning as well. Honestly, it’s of no concern to me what they eat for lunch (though I can also understand someone objecting ethically to the consumption of meat, which strikes me as a more significant factor than phrasing).

    Are you really saying that any man who doesn’t want to have sex with other men is a homophobe?

    Well no, I’m not saying that. In fact, my only objection is to your apparent need for approval (and I’m not a mind-reader, but that’s just how I take it).

    Actually, it’s interesting you give the example of planning dinner parties or setting people up on dates. I agree these pose unique problems and require taking some risk about how people will react. I admit it’s a risk I avoid most of the time. I also think that intuition combined with a thick skin when you guess wrong will probably get you further than a formal theory.

  69. says

    Are you really saying that any man who doesn’t want to have sex with other men is a homophobe?

    It’s such a nice slight of hands. You take something that’s pretty unconventional like saying “people are entitled to their sexual orientation”, i.e. a guy is straight, when discussing who counts as a man or a woman.

    I am never, ever going to be sexually attracted to someone with a penis, regardless of whether they identify as male or female, and despite my willingness to recognize their right to classify as female if they choose.

    I really think you people are weird. Do you only start feeling attraction to somebody once you’ve seen them naked and/or learned their entire history?
    As I said, my sexual history is boring, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt sexually attracted to a great number of people over the years and in almost all cases I have never seen their genitals.

  70. anat says

    kathleenzielinski @69: The way I understand sexual orientation, it is less defined based on the people one has sex with and more based on what kind of people one feels attraction to. Because people who have yet to have had sex with anyone do have a sexual orientation and they usually know which one it is, and also, many people end up having sex with people outside the classification they are attracted to for assorted reasons (for instance people who are in denial of their orientation, or people who are attempting to ‘change’ their orientation).

  71. cartomancer says

    I think we can bring some very unhelpful ideas to the table when discussing these issues. All this talk of “genital preference” seems to be conducted with a vehemence and strenuousness that stems from the sense that our fundamental and cherished ideas of ourselves are being challenged. I can see how, particularly lesbians, might be tempted to see this in terms of straight men refusing to believe they are really lesbians, and the horrible and belittling treatment that can engender. I would counsel against using this as the lens to look at the situation through.

    Perhaps instead of saying “I would never date anyone with/without an x”, how about we all just… don’t say anything? How about we all just see what happens, avoid putting up barriers, and see how we feel with each individual on an individual basis? If we genuinely do find particular sets of genitals (or face types, or hair colours, or ages, or heights or what have you) very much off-putting, that’s fine. But being highly vocal about it hurts people with those characteristics. It’s no harder telling people “sorry, I don’t think we click” or “I just don’t feel any affinity for you”, even if in our minds there is a certain characteristic that is mostly at fault. Nobody needs to hear that something specific about them is repulsive. We can be kinder to each other than that. And that applies to casual denunciations of certain characteristics too, even when there is nobody specific that the denunciation is aimed at.

    I know I’m saying this having earlier said that I myself don’t find bearded men attractive. I get that there’s some hypocrisy there. I could go into all kinds of hair-splitting distinctions as to how facial hair is a grooming choice where having a penis isn’t, but really – I shouldn’t have said that. It could make bearded people feel bad. The sense of self-definition I get from sharing my quirks isn’t worth the potential for harm to strangers. Condemning trans people for their bodies has a far greater potential for harm though, I would venture, given that there are well-defined and prolific power imbalances and institutional bigotries at work against them, where there aren’t against people with beards.

    I also worry that people who are vehement in their protestations against romantic or sexual association with particular body parts might be denying themselves potentially positive relationships by talking themselves out of it for spurious reasons. After all, sex is about so much more than one single body part. Marissa mentions that women’s bodies make her feel a particular way, while men’s bodies don’t. But that’s about so much more than genitals, and many, many trans people are entirely indistinguishable from cis people in every other way, while many many cis people have body parts that could easily be mistaken for those traditionally associated with another gender. Why not just take each individual cases on its merits, rather than pre-emptively saying so.

    That said, I can see one case and one alone where this sort of thinking is entirely justified. That case being where all you are looking for is sex, and what you want is a specific kind of sex involving specific genitals. If all you’re after is a big cock to fuck you then yes, inevitably, you will only be interested in someone with a penis. Which is very much reducing the experience to one body part, but if everyone involved is fine with that, it is what it is.

  72. kathleenzielinski says

    Giliell, I normally take people at their word for how they describe themselves. For one thing, I don’t have the time or the interest to follow them around to see if they’re telling the truth, and most of the time someone else’s sexual orientation is of no real concern to me. All of that, however, is a separate question from objective taxonomy. If you don’t find taxonomy interesting, that’s fine; there’s a good deal of taxonomy that doesn’t interest me either. But unless you’re taking the position that there’s no such thing as a sexual orientation at all and these classifications are all just merely figments of our collective imagination, then taxonomy does exist.

    But please remember how this conversation started. Lesbians really do get called transphobic — including me by several commenters on this thread — because we’re not interested in having sex with people with penises, and because we sometimes don’t want people with penises to be part of some of our groups. Even though “no penis” is a fairly basic part of having a lesbian identity. (Side note: In answer to your comment, I don’t think the fact that someone used to have heterosexual sex, or was celibate, necessarily defines them now; some people’s sexual identities change over time.) And the point that no one except me seems interested in addressing is that lesbians are just as entitled to our identity as transgendered are to theirs. Even if our identity means we only date people with ladyparts and have groups that are only open to people with ladyparts. This is another example of the needs and interests of people with penises being elevated over the needs and interests of people without. And that is male privilege, pure and simple.

  73. says

    Someone tell me if I’m screwing something up. FYI I see myself as somewhat hypersexual and pansexual but went along with what society set up because of policing.

    The transphobic pattern I mentioned above looks like conflation of ones own [negative feelings about a group based on experience with individuals] with [positive feelings associated with a group] (I want to leave the details of sexual attachment open).

    I’m not sexually attracted to a lot of things that I don’t have categorical negative feelings about. A lesbian attracted to someone with a penis would seem to follow a similar route as demisexual attraction. If someone is a good person and your personality has that feature you can become attracted. The same goes for trans lesbians.

  74. PaulBC says

    Giliell@77

    Do you only start feeling attraction to somebody once you’ve seen them naked and/or learned their entire history?

    That’s a really good point, and it isn’t hypothetical. People get crushes on anime characters or fictional characters that appear only in writing with no discussion whatsoever about genitalia. Many such people would self-identify as cis-hetero without any uncommon sexual interests, and understand that they can’t actually date Betty Boop in real life, but it doesn’t mean they get to decide everything that goes on in their heads.

    As far as I’m concerned, the salient factor of genitals is that they’re hidden from view most of the time, and any judgments reached about other people’s genitals are a matter of inference, not observation, and are probably wrong at least some of the time.

  75. PaulBC says

    cartomancer@79

    I shouldn’t have said that. It could make bearded people feel bad. The sense of self-definition I get from sharing my quirks isn’t worth the potential for harm to strangers.

    Seriously, I think this is a very innocuous thing to get out on the table, and while it’s admirable for you not to want to offend, literally anything has the potential to offend somebody. Where do you draw the line? (One answer: if you have reason to believe someone will be offended significantly, then be considerate. Also be prepared to apologize sincerely.)

    Ultimately, individuals need to develop a sense of self-worth and not primarily be defined by their desirability to others. If I grow a beard it’s because I want it (or am avoiding the hassle of shaving) but other people can reach their own judgment on whether it looks attractive or not.

  76. Aoife_b says

    kathleen
    You’re the one who dove into an unrelated topic and began spouting off about just how much you don’t want icky transes around you. Now that you’ve been called out you wanna whine about people being mean to you

  77. raven says

    I’m a dyke, which means that by definition I am not interested in dating people with penises.
    and
    But I do draw the line at people who tell me — and I have been told — that I’m a transphobe if I’m not interested in dating someone with a penis.

    How do you feel about…Strawpeople.
    I don’t even need to ask.
    You just created one and then cold heartedly murdered it.
    Won’t someone think of the poor Strawpeople?
    No one cares who you date.
    No one cares if you even date and lots of people have given up on that social ritual as awkward at best and potentially life ending at worst.

  78. says

    When someone mentions the alleged “trans agenda” to force cis people to sleep with trans people, I think back to my hypothesis about the conservative mindset. Namely,
    a)The rank-and-file conservatives (including TERs) fundamentally do not know what consent is.
    b)The conservative leaders (i.e., the billionaires, megachurch pastors, and Republican senators who actually benefit from conservative policy) know their base doesn’t understand consent, and they craft their talking points accordingly.

    As an example, consider the issue of abortion. The left-wing position on Abortion is actually really simple: everyone who wants an abortion should be able to get one, and everyone who doesn’t want one shouldn’t be forced to. But that position is only “simple” if you already understand consent. The conservative pundits tell their base that “the scary left is coming to FORCE you to have an abortion!” And the base falls for it, because without consent, they can’t comprehend any possible abortion positions besides “abortion is prohibited” and “abortion is mandatory.”

    For marriage and romance, we see a similar phenomenon. In the mid-20th century, conservative leaders in the U.S. told their (white) base that the scary left was coming to break up your marriage and force you to marry a black person. Then they crossed out “black” and wrote “gay.” It wasn’t true, of course: the left-wing position on romance and marriage is pretty much the same as on abortion (if everyone involved is able and consenting, then it’s okay, but if anyone doesn’t then it’s not okay). But enough people fell for it that marriage equality took decades to get.

    And that, finally, brings us to the topic of cis people in romantic relationships with trans people. The conservative Christian leaders are repeating the scare-tactic they used for interracial relationships and same-gender relationships. They are trying to spread the (false) word that “transactivists” want to force you to sleep with trans people. And a nonzero number of cis queer people, including Marissa van Eck, fell for this lie. I’m very glad to see that Marissa seems to have gotten out of where she was.

  79. vucodlak says

    @ kathleenzielinski, #69

    I would ask them, then respect their identification. Yes, there are some instances in which I’d be skeptical of a person’s self-identification, but in this comment you don’t actually enough information to make a determination as to the sexuality of the men. You don’t bother to include the gender of any of the partners of the men, exclusively identifying them by their genitals.

    For example, man whose only sexual partner has been a trans woman with a penis, who identifies as straight, wouldn’t even cause me to bat an eye.

    Beyond that, your taxonomy is a gross oversimplification of sexuality, and leaves no room for the fact that people’s understanding of their sexuality may evolve over time. A personal example this time: I identify as pansexual. For several years prior to that I identified as bisexual, and before that I identified as straight.

    I started using the term “pansexual” when I dated a trans woman. She was initially concerned I wouldn’t be interested in her because she is trans. Apparently, some people who identify as bisexual specifically do so because they see gender as a hard binary determined solely by a person’s genitals, and won’t date trans people. However, I recognize that gender is much more complex than that, and I changed how I identified to reflect the fact that a person’s genitals have nothing to with my attraction to them.

    For my first two decades of life, however, I identified as straight. I had a lot of angst about this as a teenager, because I knew I was attracted to both women and men. Where and when I grew up, bisexuality was treated as a joke. Everybody knew it wasn’t a “real” thing; you were either straight or gay, and being gay meant being a constant target of violence. I was always attracted to more women than men, so it was relatively easy to think of myself as straight, even if I knew that wasn’t quite right.

    When I came out as bisexual in my early twenties, my sexuality hadn’t changed. My understanding of it had.

    Another problem is that, according to your taxonomy, I don’t exist. I’ve never had sex with anyone. On the one hand, I’ve only dated women, and I present a man,* so I guess you would classify me as straight. On the other, if the definition of “sex” is stretched to include the times I’ve been raped, I suppose I would be classified as gay.

    That’s why I say you should ask, and respect someone’s self-identification.

    *I say present because I’m honestly not certain what I am, beyond the fact that I’ve been trying to convince myself I’m a boy/man my entire life, and I’m beginning to strongly suspect that that’s incorrect.

  80. raven says

    When someone mentions the alleged “trans agenda” to force cis people to sleep with trans people, I think back to my hypothesis about the conservative mindset.

    I don’t bother.
    I just assume they are flat out lying.

    It’s no one else’s business who anyone dates or sleeps with.
    Which letter of, “personal and bodily autonomy” don’t they understand.

  81. raven says

    In as much as there is even such a thing as a “trans agenda”, their main issue is well known.

    Trans have a very high murder victim rate and also a high suicide rate.
    What they really want is to not die young so often.
    This shouldn’t be too hard to understand and agree with.

    ‘I feel targeted’: U.S. trans murders near record high Reuterswww.reuters.com › article › uk-usa-lgbt-crime-trfn › i-f…

    Jul 30, 2020 — Violent deaths of transgender people in the United States are on track to reach a record high this year after two Black trans women were killed …

  82. says

    Kathleen

    All of that, however, is a separate question from objective taxonomy.

    You’re funny. Objective taxonomy. Sorry to disappoint you, but you won’t get that. Maybe with Hydrogen or something like that, but something as wonderfully diverse as human beings.

    And the point that no one except me seems interested in addressing is that lesbians are just as entitled to our identity as transgendered are to theirs.

    Well, this could be for many reasons. For one reason, trans lesbians exist.
    For another reason, cis lesbians who are in relationships with trans lesbians also exist. You’re the one who is dictating those people’s identity.

    Even if our identity means we only date people with ladyparts and have groups that are only open to people with ladyparts.

    It’s incredibly funny that you keep repeating “penis, penis, penis” but can’t bring yourself to saying pussy or vulva or vagina.

  83. says

    I’m breaking things up into multiple posts because apparently the one I tried to make was too long.

    The “argument” about cis people having romantic relationships with trans people, like the previous “arguments” about interracial and same-gender relationships, is a ripe target for bad-faith arguments. Consider, for example, a hypothetical straight white man who says

    I’m not attracted to black women. Does that make me racist?

    Most people would probably say no: you can’t control who you are attracted to, after all. But if that same man were to go on to say

    And I’m also fine with excluding black people from some women’s social groups, because our desire to socialize is founded on common life experiences.

    or

    I’m a straight man, and that means by definition I could never be attracted to black women, because I’m only attracted to REAL women.

    Then most people reading this thread would probably say this man was racist. Not because he isn’t attracted to black women, but because he thinks they aren’t “real” women and don’t deserve the same rights as white people. If that same white man were to go on to claim

    I’m being called racist just because I won’t date black women!
    He would be lying.

    And that brings us to the bad-faith arguments coming from @kathleenzielinski in this thread. In post 21, she says:

    But I do draw the line at people who tell me — and I have been told — that I’m a transphobe if I’m not interested in dating someone with a penis.

    If that claim were in any way true, then it would be easy to feel sympathy for her. But her mask starts to slip off in the very next sentence:

    And I’m also fine with excluding people with penises from some women’s social groups, because our desire to socialize is founded on common life experiences. Our common life experiences are different from the life experiences of someone born with a penis.

    And further down the thread, she says

    A straight cis man is not going to date someone with a penis. Neither is a lesbian.
    And now the truth is evident. Yes, you, kathleenzielinski, are a transphobe. No, it has nothing to do with you not being attracted to trans women: you can’t control who you are attracted to and that is nobody’s concern except for you and your potential partners. Rather, you are transphobic because you do not believe trans people are “really” their gender, and you believe trans women should be forced into “seperate but equal” public accomedations. That is why you are being called a transphobe.

    You, kathleenzielinski, are also homophobic. No, it still has nothing to do with you not being attracted to trans women. The reason you are homophobic is because you are trying to police the sexualities of other gay people. You aren’t attracted to trans women? Good for you. But some other lesbian women are, and telling them they aren’t “really” lesbian is a problem.

  84. says

    (Part 3 of my too-long post):
    So when kathleenzielinski says

    But please remember how this conversation started. Lesbians really do get called transphobic — including me by several commenters on this thread — because we’re not interested in having sex with people with penises
    she is lying.

  85. says

    Typo in my previous post: the final “she is lying” should not be quoted, because those are my words, not kathleenzielinski’s words. Is there an edit feature? I’m fairly new to this website.

  86. Tethys says

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5950726/#!po=0.549451

    Sorry for the naked link but at least the link works. No idea why it won’t imbed properly. It is a very interesting read on the social, and medical aspects of some transgender people and best practices for parents and medical practitioners.

    The fluidity aspect is stressed throughout. The non binary and biopsychosocial aspects involved in assigning gender is repeatedly emphasized.
    Bottom line, there are more than two genders. Genitals are not a 100% reliable indicator of gender or sexuality.

  87. Silentbob says

    Straight Man:

    “I’m a straight man, that means I like tits! Big tits! Tits and Ass – that’s what straight men like. That’s the definition of ‘straight man’, ‘man who likes tits and ass’. It’s simple taxonomy. If you’re a man who likes one of those chicks with no curves who look like boys, you are not a straight man, you must be gay or something.

    “Also I demand all flat-chested chicks be banned from dating spaces for straights. No straight man would ever be interested.”

    Women:

    Hey, reducing women to body parts like that is objectifying and super sexist. You’re entitled to your preferences, that’s fine. But a lot of us who are not curvy have no problem attracting men and you don’t get to tell them they’re not straight! You sure as fuck don’t get to ban women who don’t match your personal preferences from public life!”

    Straight Man:

    “Hey Media; the woke brigade called me a bigot simply because I said straight men are attracted to breasts.”

    Media:

    “Exclusive: Flat-Chested Women Activists Force Men To Have Sex With Them By Calling Them Bigots!

    “‘It’s not my fault I’m attracted to breasts’, sobs tearful victim. MRA group calls for inquiry into predatory tactics of flat-chested women. Full story page 6…”

  88. Silentbob says

    This might be a good time to be reminded of this consensus statement by lesbian media:

    Not In Our Name: A Statement on Trans Inclusion From Lesbian Editors and Publishers

    [We] believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community. We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.

    We strongly condemn writers and editors who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content, and who believe “lesbian” is an identity for them alone to define. We condemn male-owned media companies who profit from the traffic generated by these controversies.

    We also strongly condemn the current narrative peddled by some feminists, painting trans people as bullies and aggressors – one which reinforces transphobia and which must be challenged so that feminism can move forward.

    We are really concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women and to young lesbians – including trans lesbians – and we want to make in clear this is not in our name.

  89. PaulBC says

    Tethys@32

    Reading the unhinged penis fears

    It’s been over a day and I still can decide whether “unhinged penis” or “hinged penis” would make a better band name. The second is a more vivid image anyway.

  90. chrislawson says

    @94–

    Yes, I noticed that too. As soon as kathleenzielinski lied about how commenters in this very thread had called her transphobic for not wanting sex with someone who has a penis, it threw everything else she said into doubt. At the very closest, some commenters asked her to reflect on whether her sexual preferences might have been influenced by our transphobic culture. Which is a question everyone should ask themselves, no matter what their preferences are.

    As Hanna Gadsby points out, you can’t grow up in a bigoted culture and not absorb parts of that bigotry, even when you personally are one of the prime targets. It takes an active force of will to reject the prejudices we were raised to believe.

  91. chrislawson says

    Giliell–

    Thanks. I didn’t raise the whole sexual spectrum issue because I was trying to keep the comment short. But you’re absolutely right. Just as gay/straight isn’t a black-and-white binary dichotomy, neither is gender identity. Cis/trans has a spectrum too.

  92. Tethys says

    Paul@101

    …would make a better band name. The second is a more vivid image anyway.

    Hinged sounds creepier. Unhinged sounds like the mating habits of some octopus males, with their detachable sperm producing arm.

  93. says

    183231bcb

    I’m not attracted to black women. Does that make me racist?

    Most people would probably say no: you can’t control who you are attracted to, after all. But if that same man were to go on to say

    See, I would say “yes”, but the problem here is that most people think that you’re only racist if you run around in Klan hoods (and by now the rehabilitation of those those people is in full swing as well. Basically the only way you can be racist now is to be a black NFL player who kneels during the anthem). But that’s not true. We’re all raised in a racist society, one that tells us from a very young age that black bodies are inherently less desirable than white bodies. And we can see this for many other factors when it comes to attraction.
    No matter how little attractive any of us dirtbag lefties here might find those ladies, the young thin blonde women of Fox News are considered conventionally attractive and desirable. We get bombarded with these images every day from a very young age on and they form our tastes. So a person who does not feel attraction towards black people does not do so because they have some inborn sense of what is attractive to them, just like no western person is born with an inborn taste for cereals in milk as a breakfast as opposed to say some nice soup with noodles.
    It does not make these people evil, capital R Racists, it means they have racist ideas about who is and is not attractive and desirable. Just like we have cisnormative ideas, and ableist ideas about who is attractive.
    On a tangent, a hell lot of the cisnormative ideas about what women look like (and that transphobes would like us to police when it comes to access to spaces like bathrooms) are also racist as fuck. They police body hair, voice timbre, etc. Physical strength is seen as inherently male, as well as aggression, and we all know which women get labelled aggressive and too loud. Look at what cis athletes get attacked as not being “real women”. It’s the same racist arguments from the 1960s about how you need to protect delicate white women from those dangerous black women rebranded. And leading transphobes like K. Stock have openly said that they’d prefer gender non-conforming cis women to be kicked out of women’s spaces and bathrooms than risk having to share those with a trans woman.

  94. PaulBC says

    Giliell@105 I agree, though I didn’t even want to get started on it. First off, “I’m not attracted to black women.” is a subjective view based on race, so I don’t know how it could not be racist. Also, the most likely explanation for such a view is growing up with inherently racist standards of beauty. I would add that it is a very common form of racism, and there are very few people (myself included to be sure) who are not recovering racists, assuming they’re not active racists. I grew up in an almost entirely white suburb in the 70s, and I know how racist people were then. I think younger generations are generally more open to diversity, and I’m optimistic, but it’s a long slog.

    At the same time, you can’t really tell someone they “should” be attracted. You’re either going to or you’re not. That will certainly shift over time, and is probably more likely to shift if you open yourself up to new experiences and stop telling yourself that you are limited to “type”. I have never understood why people take so much pride in what they cannot appreciate (I hate [some kind of music], [some kind of food], etc.). I mean, up to a point, it’s understandable and benign, but it doesn’t make you a better person or anything.

    So I would classify a preference like that as racist but not remarkably so.

  95. says

    @99
    Thank you, Silentbob, your post made me laugh and also articulates the point I was trying to make better than I did.

    @105 Giliell
    Those are good points.

  96. says

    Paul BC
    It’s not so much about telling people who they should be attracted to than people exercising some introspection and discretion.
    Recognising that it is probably prejudice that makes you lack interest in any given group is a good thing.
    Shutting the fuck up about it is even better.
    Telling people that you are not interested in subgroup X who have been deemed undesirable by society is never going accomplish any good, but always hurtful for the members of that group.

  97. John Morales says

    Giliell @108, there’s something about your prescriptive and self-righteous moralising that really irritates me.

    Telling people that you are not interested in subgroup X who have been deemed undesirable by society is never going accomplish any good, but always hurtful for the members of that group.

    In your opinion.

    In my opinion, you telling people that telling people that stuff is equally noxious — maybe even more so.

    (Perhaps you should heed your own advice and exercise some introspection and discretion?)

  98. says

    @John Morales 109
    The microaggression usage that marks trans people as negative in a general sense is part of the social conflict. Relatedly it is how gay people are made to be seen as bad through social displays about how gross gay sex is. I’m not sure society is there yet but that is why oral sex as insult should be avoided too.

    In effect you are policing how Giliell feels about the social behaviors used to hurt them and trans people.

  99. John Morales says

    Brony:

    In effect you are policing how Giliell feels about the social behaviors used to hurt them and trans people.

    <snicker>

    (Kinda clueless about who is policing whom, you are)

  100. says

    @John Morales
    More like multiple people are using the same instincts and the claims are not equal. I know what I’m doing. You look like you are irritated by people who feel categorically negative about sex and gender related microaggressions. I don’t see anything problematic about the object of your irritation. Giliell seems to have good reasons.

  101. John Morales says

    Brony:

    You look like you are irritated by people who feel categorically negative about sex and gender related microaggressions.

    I could have hardly been more explicit: “Giliell @108, there’s something about your prescriptive and self-righteous moralising that really irritates me.”

    I don’t see anything problematic about the object of your irritation.

    So? You’re not me. And I hardly need your validation.

    Giliell seems to have good reasons.

    I suppose, if one imagines self-righteous moralising is a good reason for doing stuff.

    (“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”)

  102. John Morales says

    Brony, here’s a hint: prescriptive and self-righteous moralising is exactly what the religious right does. They too have good intentions.

  103. vucodlak says

    It’s revealing, the things that set people off. Person One sets forth their argument for why people whose asses are hanging out ought to pull up their pants. Person Two chimes in out of nowhere to say Person One should shut their trap and mind their own business. I wonder, what are the odds that Person Two regularly sunburns their tush?

    Just kidding- I don’t wonder. Getchur aloe here! Aloe for sore tuchuses!

  104. John Morales says

    vucodlak:

    Person Two chimes in out of nowhere to say Person One should shut their trap and mind their own business.

    Mmmhmm.

    So, given “It’s not so much about telling people who they should be attracted to than people exercising some introspection and discretion.
    Recognising that it is probably prejudice that makes you lack interest in any given group is a good thing.
    Shutting the fuck up about it is even better.”, it is pretty clear who Person Two is.

    (Why so coy?)

  105. vucodlak says

    @ John Morales, #118

    (Why so coy?)

    ‘Cause my grandma always said it’s not polite to rub it in. I just sell the aloe; application is your problem.

  106. vucodlak says

    @ John Morales, #120

    vucodlak, so why are you writing to me?

    Because you wrote to me. Remember? The comment(#118) right above mine(#119)?

    Look, I agree with almost everything Giliell said at #105 and #108. The only thing I’d quibble with them about is (from #105):

    On a tangent, a hell lot of the cisnormative ideas about what women look like (and that transphobes would like us to police when it comes to access to spaces like bathrooms) are also racist as fuck.

    I think it’s as much homophobia and transphobia as racism that shapes prejudices with regard to how women “should” look. She may well be right on that too, but my secondhand experience through my beloved bestie (who was muscular, usually wore her hair short, often wore little makeup, and didn’t shave most of the areas our society says women are supposed to shave) was that she was generally the target of homophobic slurs for these “transgressions” against culturally approved femininity.

    To be clear, I am including the bit about “Shutting the fuck up” in my agreement and, no, that wasn’t what I was referencing in my comment at #117. I agree because, while one’s personal preferences are a private matter, expressing a personal preference that lines up with narratives about the general undesirability of oppressed groups plays into the oppression those groups experience.

    It’s not wrong to have personal preferences. It’s not wrong to have preferences that roughly align with societal prejudices, although it can’t hurt to examine why you feel that way, because those preferences might be born at least in part of unconscious prejudice on your part. However, if your preferences align with oppressive narratives, even if it’s a coincidence, then you probably ought to keep them to yourself. I’m not saying it’s always wrong to talk about such preferences, but there’s a better-than-even chance you’re being an asshole if you do. Both Giliell and Brony explained it better than I did, I think.

    My comment at #117 was about the habit of people who take offence to general discussions of bad behavior, specifically discussions of which they aren’t a part, who then burst into the discussion with some kind of snarl about the topic. Your comment at #109 suggested that Giliell’s behavior really chaps your ass; #117 was my way of suggesting that your ass was already chapped, a fact that the rest of us probably wouldn’t have suspected if not for your #109.

    IOW, it is my opinion that you showed your ass.

    I was coy about it because I’m a wiseass of long standing who has learned that it’s best to give yourself time to run away when you insult someone. That doesn’t really apply in the digital medium, but old habits die hard. Besides, I like being coy. It’s part of my charm, and the number one reason that most of my friends and associates have threatened to strangle me at one point or another.

    Anyway, it’s not like you have any cause to complain about that particular eccentricity of mine. Was your point at #109 not that Giliell shouldn’t engage in “self-righteous moralising?” Is…

    Perhaps you should heed your own advice and exercise some introspection and discretion?

    …that not a call for Giliell to shut their trap and mind their own business? It’s a bit coy, but that’s how it reads to me.

  107. John Morales says

    vucodlak:

    Because you wrote to me. Remember? The comment(#118) right above mine(#119)?

    Apparently, I need to rephrase in more unambigous terms, since you’re (wilfully?) not getting the point.

    Why do you address your comment to me, when it is not I who is the one to whom you attribute your claims?

    (Obs, Paul is Person 1, Giliell is Person 2, I am Person 3, Brony is Person 4, you are Person 5)

    Your comment at #109 suggested that Giliell’s behavior really chaps your ass; #117 was my way of suggesting that your ass was already chapped, a fact that the rest of us probably wouldn’t have suspected if not for your #109.

    There was no suggestion about it; it was most unambiguous.
    Again, with added emphasis: “I could have hardly been more explicit: “Giliell @108, there’s something about your prescriptive and self-righteous moralising that really irritates me.””

    (Still confused?)

    Anyway, it’s not like you have any cause to complain about that particular eccentricity of mine. Was your point at #109 not that Giliell shouldn’t engage in “self-righteous moralising?”

    No, telling others what they should do is for other people; it was more that she is sanctimoniously telling others to be introspective and to shut up, though she herself indulges in that very behaviour. I know that doesn’t irritate you, but it does me.

    It’s quite simple: hypocrisy is never endearing to me. But I don’t tell people to stop doing that, I suggest it may be for the better. Not the same thing.

    I even mentioned in my parenthetical addendum: “(Perhaps you should heed your own advice and exercise some introspection and discretion?)”

    Is…

    Perhaps you should heed your own advice and exercise some introspection and discretion?

    …that not a call for Giliell to shut their trap and mind their own business?

    Well, I can’t help how you read it, I can only do so much to appease your recalcitrance.
    It’s a suggestion (that’s what the “perhaps” indicates), not an imperative — which contrasts with her declarative and imperative phrasing that she practice what she preaches.

    It’s a bit coy, but that’s how it reads to me.

    Heh. My reference to your coyness was in relation to your “person X” nonsense, because you’re so wary of naming names.

    So. You think it’s fine that she can tell others to be introspective and guarded and, better still, to shut up — but me pointing out she hasn’t done any of that is just terrible. I’m the bad guy.

    No worries, I’m used to that.

  108. Anton Mates says

    Marissa van Eck,
    @49 & 64

    They said it’s transmisogyny. Which is ridiculous because I outright said I’m willing to date transwomen post-bottom-surgery, just not before!

    Imagine aiming a statement like that at any other woman, though. “Sorry, your boobs are too small for my taste, but I’d be willing to date you if you had plastic surgery!” Not necessarily misogynistic, sure, but -999 on the feminist conversationometer.

    And BTW, it’s generally considered respectful to put a space between “trans” and “women.” You may have noticed that everyone else on this thread is doing that.

    And then I got accused of “reducing people to their genitalia!” Tell me that’s not gaslighting or projection…

    I mean, within the context of romance, that’s precisely what you’re doing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, everybody’s got their dealbreakers, but you might as well own it.

    Plus, we’re already basically invisible, we’re marginalized among the entire queer movement as it is


    Sorry, did you say that lesbians are invisible within the queer movement? Like, relative to trans people? What makes you think that?

    and honestly, a good chunk of transwomen still act in ways I can only describe as “male privilege.” It’s hard to put into words, but I can just tell. It’s like, they fill space in ways most women normally don’t, if that makes sense?

    Honestly, it kinda sounds like you just defined “butch.”

    Still, if you could put the undesirable behavior into words, then you could just police your space for that behavior instead of profiling trans people. That might be nice.

    one of whom is a new housemate as of last month, and they’re all really nice people. And, I’ve met one transwoman I get along with very well.

    Some of your best friends are trans, you say? Good to know

    This is exactly the kind of dogpile that happened in a supposedly inclusive group elsewhere and it was fucking mystifying, for the speed it happened at if nothing else.

    Well, perhaps we can demystify it for you. See, in the quoted post alone you denied the femininity of trans women three times:

    I wouldn’t just cut someone out of my life on finding out she’s pre-op, either. We could still be close friends, but I’m not into male parts, period.

    It isn’t even that I find penises gross or frightening[..].they just do nothing for me, the same as mens’ bodies in general.

    Men do absolutely nothing, and maybe that neutrality offends them more than actual disgust would.

    You described trans women’s genitals as “male parts”, you characterized them as part of “mens’ bodies,” and then you just gave up entirely and started talking about “men” taking offense. That’s going to earn you a dogpile in most progressive forums. Whether you are personally yay, nay or meh on penises is very much beside the point.

    That is how you make TERFs.

    Sure, and lesbians make homophobes by being all rude and militant at them. C’mon, that’s the cheapest of silencing tactics.

  109. says

    John

    In your opinion.

    In my opinion, you telling people that telling people that stuff is equally noxious — maybe even more so.

    (Perhaps you should heed your own advice and exercise some introspection and discretion?)

    Congratulations, John. You have now reached “people telling me not to use the N-word are the real racists” territory.

    Kinda clueless about who is policing whom, you are

    Yeah, women sharing how society’s attitudes to bodies like theirs and the harm this is doing is now unfairly policing others. Get it.

    there’s something about your prescriptive and self-righteous moralising that really irritates me.”

    As we say in German: kicked dog barks.
    I’m irritating you? Good!

    Brony, here’s a hint: prescriptive and self-righteous moralising is exactly what the religious right does.

    Yeah, me wanting to live free of discrimination and also wanting others to live free is exactly the same as the religious right wanting to discriminate against people. Got it.
    You know what is absolutely missing from your, what, 6 comments about how I am a really horrible person? Any fucking argument as to why I am wrong. You don’t say that, you have not given a reason why me saying “hey, maybe don’t tell people whose bodies are constantly deemed offensive by society that you are not attracted to them as a group” is wrong, faulty reasoning, oppressive, whatever. All you have is “this is a bad woman”. Given that you keep talking at length about how much I irritate you, I must be really good at it.
    Have a go, John. I know, trans issues are when cis men really feel they have a get out of jail free cart to tell those uppity women how they really feel. Because that’s all this is about: your feelings.

  110. PaulBC says

    FWIW, I was not advocating that people ever openly state a race-based attraction or lack of attraction. Both are potentially offensive, by definition racist, and very often simply the result of culturally dominant racism. (All points where I think I was agreeing with Giliell.) I was also making the anodyne observation that attraction isn’t subject to immediate conscious control (though it can shift over time) and the the possibly more controversial claim that this form of racism is so common as to be unremarkable. “Unremarkable” does not mean “forgivable” either. There are things I don’t have to know or forgive. I view most interaction with people as transactional.

  111. says

    My politics is in a state of flux as I keep trying to look for better solutions, but maybe this has some applicability.

    It’s not necessairly a matter of hypocrisy that one when one expresses negative feelings about negative feelings. (In addition to behavior and beliefs.

    As an example, expressing negative feelings about someone who feels negative about immigrants using their native language in public. This is a part of dealing with bigotry. This does not mean that the bigoted feelings go away or that they are not allowed. This means you critisize microaggressions, and you can even do so while acknowledging the underlying irrationally attached feelings. It’s not something you can expect out of everyone given the cultural makeup.

    I see critisizing general irrational negative feelings about sex and gender related things similarly.

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