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October 17, 2013 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Are ‘Trans Rights’ and ‘Gay Rights’ Still Allies? New York Times examines: "Does it still make sense to think of trans rights as part of the gay-rights movement? Or at this point, is it a different campaign with different goals?"

Susan Stryker: Trans Advocates Welcome Gay Allies

Jon Corvino: The Two Variables Don’t Always Intersect

Tiq Milan: There’s Only One Movement

Thomas Page McBee: Our Allies Must Not Eclipse Us

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore: A Movement That’s a Little More Radical

Laverne Cox: The Bullies Don’t Draw a Distinction
posted by Annika Cicada (155 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
They are in my world. The End.

/will now go read the NYT article I have been avoiding reading
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, so sexual orientation and gender identity = not the same thing. A lot of people get them confused, but not the same thing. (As Cox notes, bullies don't make the distinction, and tend to use words like "faggot" to stigmatize anyone they perceive to be gender non-conforming or gender role non-conforming.

That doesn't mean that LGB people and trans people aren't part of the same movement. Or that poor people or people of color or immigrants aren't part of the movement, too. Or people who are criminalized for their HIV status. Everyone is working towards the same goal. Leaving anyone behind is stupid.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:12 PM on October 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


No non-trans lesbian is on the panel and I find that troubling.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:17 PM on October 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


OK, so sexual orientation and gender identity = not the same thing.

But if you have to distinguish between the two, you're already outside the societally accepted 'normal'.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:20 PM on October 17, 2013


But if you have to distinguish between the two, you're already outside the societally accepted 'normal'.

What do you mean by that? Straight, cis people have sexual orientations and gender identities, too. Same as blonde people and brunette people all have hair.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


There are quite a few trans people who are also gay or lesbian or queer or bisexual. These aren't exclusive identities. I think framing it as a choice between battling movements or placid reconciliation isn't very helpful, but I think remembering that "trans" does not equal "changes genders and then gets into a heterosexual relationship" is a good idea.
posted by Frowner at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


What do you mean by that? Straight, cis people have sexual orientations and gender identities, too. Same as blonde people and brunette people all have hair.

Yeah, you know that and I know that. A big chunk of people don't, though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2013


Or that poor people or people of color or immigrants aren't part of the movement, too. Or people who are criminalized for their HIV status. Everyone is working towards the same goal.

Yeah, no. What movement are you talking about? White poor people can be racist as fuck. White people and POC citizens can not a give damn about immigration reform. There is nothing that inherently ties all those groups together.

Different demographic groups have different goals. There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes the goals are the same and sometimes they are different. Sometimes they work on your goal, sometimes you work on theirs and sometimes each group goes their own way.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


No non-trans lesbian is on the panel and I find that troubling.

Speaking as a cisgender lesbian, and not at all speaking for lesbians everywhere, I am okay with this. They are women, and they are lesbians. I've had huge disagreements with other cisgender lesbians about stuff - feminism, sexual orientation, rights, that kind of stuff - so, you know, no guarantee of shared worldview or political agreement just because we're both cisgender (and dykes).
posted by rtha at 12:27 PM on October 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


I think it's pretty undeniably true that general understanding of trans people is lagging far, far behind general understanding of LGB people. I talk to people all the time who have marched in the streets for and donated money to "LGBT" causes, yet think "trans woman" means a person who was born a woman and transitioned to male, or have no idea/don't accept the idea that trans identity has nothing to do with surgery that you might or might not get, or use the word 'tranny' in casual conversation, or throw up their hands and say "I don't understand this whole pronoun thing so I'm just gonna call you [assigned gender] ok?" And these are supposedly liberal and educated people.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:27 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


What movement are you talking about?

Basic civil rights for all people, end to prejudice. Pie in the sky stuff that, if we actually all cared about everyone else, would work out great.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


No non-trans lesbian is on the panel and I find that troubling.

I took a second look at the panel demographics and realized there were five transgender people and one gay guy. I would've expected it to be more balanced.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


One non-transgender gay guy, I think you mean.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


White people and POC citizens can not a give damn about immigration reform.

Many white people are immigrants. Even among those who aren't, many are capable of enough empathy to care about issues that don't directly affect them.
posted by Crane Shot at 12:46 PM on October 17, 2013


That doesn't mean that LGB people and trans people aren't part of the same movement. Or that poor people or people of color or immigrants aren't part of the movement, too. Or people who are criminalized for their HIV status.

yeah, the way i read this was - well, i'm an LGB person and a trans person and a poor person all at the same time. i'm white and not an immigrant but there exist PLENTY of people who are LGB and/or T who ARE people of color and/or immigrants (i mean, people who are members of gender & sexual minorities trying to immigrate BECAUSE OF their GSM status is A Thing), there is intersectionality that needs to be addressed by the movement - any movement
posted by titus n. owl at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would really like to see a genuine, non-fighty discussion between a cisgender and transgender lesbian.

I feel that angle was under-represented in this series, which incidentally, is a woefully fascinating example how lesbians get "made invisible" by society.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:58 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


God, could we please please please stop using super divisive language like "allies", which necessarily draws lines and creates exclusion? I blame Lena Dunham for the increased popularity of this term, for starters.
posted by gsh at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean, a lot of this kind of nonsense movement-baiting (which is what the NYT framing is) suffers hugely from not being specific enough about the people and issues involved.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, for instance, isn't talking about "GLBT versus trans"; she is talking about reformism versus radicalism, making the specific comment that as it is presently constituted the mainstream gay rights movement is reformist, militarist and happy to be integrated into existing religious and financial hierarchies. She's saying that queer and trans politics are constituted in such a way that they are not militarist, reformist, etc. (From having read her other work, I suspect that she would not say "oh, there can never be reformist/militarist/etc queer or trans activists because we are so radikewl and awesome naturally", although I suspect that she'd argue that "queer" theories of gender lend themselves less well to reformist projects. I'm not entirely sanguine on that one, myself.)

And honestly, you could easily find very conservative trans people who want nothing more than to enact the most generic gender stereotypes - not because Trans People Are Reifying Manhood/Womanhood but because there are very conservative people everywhere who want to enact restrictive gender roles. A conservative trans dude who wants to be able to get married and serve in the military will probably have more in common with a conservative gay dude than with a radical trans person. A lesbian who works with Queers For Economic Justice will probably have more in common with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore than with a top corporate executive who is also a lesbian.

People always want to reduce politics-that-has-to-do-with-bodies to this freakish, hivemind foundational level - as if my politics as a gender-nonconforming queer person are somehow extruded from my body rather than being the product of my choices and experiences, and as if only "normal" unmarked people (white cis dudes with generic middle class backgrounds, natch) arrive at their politics through reflection and choice.
posted by Frowner at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2013 [51 favorites]


God, could we please please please stop using super divisive language like "allies", which necessarily draws lines and creates exclusion? I blame Lena Dunham for the increased popularity of this term, for starters.

Really? Lena Dunham? Because I was in my school's Gay-Straight Alliance in like 2004. What's wrong with a term for "a person who is not [thing] but supports [thing]"? How is that divisive? Who is it excluding?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:06 PM on October 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I posted about this on Facebook yesterday (as my regular NEVER READ THE COMMENTS frustration feature). It came with the second punch of finding out that a self-identified RadFem has thrown in with the California GOP in working to repeal protections for transgender students, something that we're pretty spooked about here.

It's a bit weird for me, being a straight, cis, white dude working for LGBT equality — like, of course transgender people are part of the greater work for equality, in part because I see a large part of the work as related to undoing the discrimination and exclusion that are inherent in traditional gender roles. And obviously, each letter under LGBT has its own community and struggles — it blew my mind when I found out that the folks most in need of mental health services out of the cohort are actually bisexual women, who I always kinda assumed would take less of the brunt than many of the other folks included under the umbrella.

It's just so frustrating to try to overcome this vicious fucking prejudice from people who I kinda feel like should be all on the same side.

(But it kinda goes with the weirdness I feel about a lot of the little fiefdoms. Like, of course I think that there are LGBT-specific immigration and economic issues, so of course I think there should be LGBT advocacy for immigration reform and economic justice.)

Who knows, maybe I'm being a patronizing, privileged dick about this, but it's so inexplicable and baffling.
posted by klangklangston at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


"I took a second look at the panel demographics and realized there were five transgender people and one gay guy. I would've expected it to be more balanced."

Meh. There's nothing wrong with having trans people talk about themselves and their community with respect to the broader LGBT movement. I mean, would you have expected it to be more "balanced" because gay guys are usually over-represented in these discussions? What does balanced mean here, and why isn't this a balanced view from transgender people on transgender issues?
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on October 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Agreed klang- if this was an article series about whether the progressive movement does a good job of representing people of color, I would not expect or want half of the articles to be from white progressives. I think most of the authors being trans is perfectly appropriate.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:11 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um, sometimes yes and sometimes no? "... is it a different campaign with different goals?" As to individuals, it may be. One example we've seen recently is that transfolk, espcially younger transfolk face issues wrt public restrooms. Please don't take my example to indicate gay people don't also face issues wrt public restrooms.

There are seperate issues but the larger goal of acceptance for people that don't fall on the binary is more unifying, or should be in my opinion, than that transfolk and gay people don't suffer a precisely overlapping experience of discrimination.
posted by vapidave at 1:15 PM on October 17, 2013


It seems like tribalism, as inherent as it is, is what's causing the problem in the first place.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:17 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


klangklangston: "It came with the second punch of finding out that a self-identified RadFem has thrown in with the California GOP in working to repeal protections for transgender students, something that we're pretty spooked about here. "

What in the almighty fuck. More detail?
posted by scrump at 1:17 PM on October 17, 2013


I think if your fight is to undo discriminatory thinking and practices for x, then you are necessarily allied with someone trying to undo discriminatory thinking and practices for y.

People being people, there's always going to be a bit of "nobody knows the trouble I seen," but the goal is to change human culture from hatred to love (or at least acceptance), and that's true regardless of how you identify.
posted by Mooski at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are many different sex/gender minority groups, just as there are with racial/ethnic groups, groups of people with disabilities, groups of the irreligious, etc. A lot of the time, these smaller groups will have different needs from each other. But because they’re a minority even put together, there are times when it’s to everybody’s benefit to get together on some issues.

Of course, I know that’s incredibly easy to say. But I think it’s an important thing to think about when making goals – what are the things we really need to pull together on, and what are the things where it’s OK to let people sort things out for themselves?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just to me, the answer is "yes and no" depending on which specific activists and rights movements you're talking about.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:20 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


scrump: "What in the almighty fuck. More detail?"

This isn't about that specifically, but RadFems/TERFs have a history of this kind of thing.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yes, some radfems think that trans women are impostor men trying to sneak into women's spaces, and trans men are women who have turned their backs on womanhood and betrayed feminism. "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Man Party?" It's gross and unfortunate.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:23 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some even believe that trans women are part of a conspiracy to obviate women completely. It's completely insane. The hatred and intolerance on blogs such as GenderTrender and other places is just mind boggling.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 1:26 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


It came with the second punch of finding out that a self-identified RadFem has thrown in with the California GOP in working to repeal protections for transgender students,

ARGH GRAR SNARL ROAR GNASH STOMP
posted by rtha at 1:27 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


A perhaps more thoughtful discussion of feminist critique of trans theory is here: Transcending the Norms of Gender: The Left Hand of Darkness. It's much better than the cartoon version.
posted by Wordwoman at 1:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"What in the almighty fuck. More detail?"

Lesbian TERF lawyer supports California GOP campaign to exclude transgender students from school programs and facilities.

Sorry, I'm just extra frustrated about this shit right now because our best hope is that they're fucking incompetent idiots. If they get their shit together, expect them to win and hate crimes against LGBT people to go up.
posted by klangklangston at 1:36 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, it's Cathy Brennan, the incarnation of evil. That makes total sense.

Seriously, she's like someone crossed Camille Paglia with Henry Kissinger and stripped away the last few molecules of humor and generosity.
posted by Frowner at 1:39 PM on October 17, 2013 [24 favorites]


Wordwoman: "A perhaps more thoughtful discussion of feminist critique of trans theory is here: Transcending the Norms of Gender: The Left Hand of Darkness. It's much better than the cartoon version."

If I were offered a choice between winning the lottery and people no longer thinking it worth linking that biased pile of apologist scaremongering bullshit masquerading as rational thought, well, I would pick the lottery, but only so I could buy the server farm Counterpunch lives on and grind it up to make sparkly jewellery.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:39 PM on October 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


"perhaps more thoughtful discussion"
Baltimore-based lawyer, Cathy Brennan, is a much maligned figure by many trans activists because of a letter she and Elizabeth Hungerford drafted to the UN which proposed a tighter definition of gender identity in which certain spaces (ie. toilets, showers, locker rooms) would be accessible only to trans women who had sought medical treatment for their gender identity issues.

oh yes, that's totally why. it's just because of that letter. i couldn't possibly dislike her because, like, the quote IMMEDIATELY BELOW THAT SENTENCE wherein she refers to transgenderism as " this queer bullshit", or because she has literally OUTED TRANS* MINORS TO THEIR SCHOOLS, or because she has VIOLATED PHYSICIAN/PATIENT PRIVACY BY OUTING PEOPLE TO THEIR DOCTORS, or anything. all us trans activists are just maligning her because she wrote a letter to the UN
posted by titus n. owl at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


I guess it's neat that the same discussions we were having in college are now being discussed by the New York Times. But it's also kind of depressing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2013


(Sorry if that comes across as reductive of the actual issue - that is not at all how I feel or what I meant.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2013


A perhaps more thoughtful discussion of feminist critique of trans theory is here: Transcending the Norms of Gender: The Left Hand of Darkness. It's much better than the cartoon version.

"And the feminists accuse the trans women of having ‘male privilege’ since they claim that one cannot simply take hormones or undergo surgery and claim oppression. [...] While there are certainly those lesbians who support trans women’s acceptance within the lesbian community, there are lesbians who feel that they are being pressured to give in to male-bodied individuals ‘masquerading as women’ as a means of identifying with the political and sexual oppression of women. Many feminists take issue with this and maintain that nobody can simply join the oppressed by fiat."

If that's not "some radfems think that trans women are impostor men trying to sneak into women's spaces," what is it?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The other thing that annoys me about the trying to remove the trans protections thing is not all trans people are trans women? I mean, I don't pretend to understand the RadFem position on trans women, but it doesn't make sense that they would want to remove protections for trans men as well, does it?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:46 PM on October 17, 2013


(I should perhaps note that we've already had a minor shitfight about that counterpunch article.)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:46 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The other thing that annoys me about the trying to remove the trans protections thing is not all trans people are trans women? I mean, I don't pretend to understand the RadFem position on trans women, but it doesn't make sense that they would want to remove protections for trans men as well, does it?

Trans men are seen as traitors to the cause -- the ultimate quisling, literally giving up the sacred identity of womynhood to become the oppressor.
posted by Etrigan at 1:48 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trans men are seen as traitors to the cause -- the ultimate quisling, literally giving up the sacred identity of womynhood to become the oppressor.

Yikes. Thanks for explaining that, I guess.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:48 PM on October 17, 2013


yeah i've been come-at by some people of that belief set about how i've chosen the role of oppressor and have no right to speak about any kind of feminist issue including my own lived experiences while i was a young person identified as female, so i can personally confirm yes these people exist yes these people say things irl yes this is a real issue, in case anyone was wondering or thinking it was exaggerated
posted by titus n. owl at 2:09 PM on October 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


A bigger issue surrounding TERFs is the fact that "trans rights", "gay rights", "feminism", and so on are all big tents. There are many different viewpoints within these big tents. There are many different opinions and foundational assumptions, many different lived experiences...as well as the messiness of people being people, with their own blinders and prejudices and self-interests. Not everybody can be right about everything, to the extent that there even is one single "right" answer on some issues. Some people, such as the TERFs, will even hold reprehensible views.

Anyway, the point is that there's no reason why "gay rights" and "trans rights" would ever be perfectly identical, because 1) sexual orientation is different from gender identity, and 2) there's plenty of disagreement even just within each respective big tent.

When people forget this, they sometimes indulge in No True Scotsman nonsense, or they go the other direction and make well-meaning platitudes about how everybody is on the same page.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:15 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will cop to some fucked-up things coming out of the necessity of doing messaging to the moveable middle too, like how the most persuasive way to talk to regular folks about the trans student stuff is to emphasize trans men wanting to play sports. Like, it plays on some weird-ass misogyny, but people are like, of course we support Billy playing football! RAH RAH! So it can be one of those awkward things where you choose between purity and practicality. But we have had good luck in talking to gay guys about bathrooms with the, Well, would a straight guy want you in there either?
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I'm just extra frustrated about this shit right now because our best hope is that they're fucking incompetent idiots. If they get their shit together, expect them to win and hate crimes against LGBT people to go up.

The extent to which these people have been willing to go to, up to and including making up stories out of whole cloth, is appalling. Sorry y'all have to deal with this shit, klang.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:21 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


No non-trans lesbian is on the panel and I find that troubling.

ugh yeah where can a cis person even get on a panel these days
posted by threeants at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


just kidding, everywhere
posted by threeants at 2:25 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


klangklangston,

Are you testing messages with focus groups or something like that?
posted by Area Man at 2:26 PM on October 17, 2013


A bigger issue surrounding TERFs is the fact that "trans rights", "gay rights", "feminism", and so on are all big tents. There are many different viewpoints within these big tents. There are many different opinions and foundational assumptions, many different lived experiences...as well as the messiness of people being people, with their own blinders and prejudices and self-interests.

And some tensions regarding different agendas based on different needs and priorities. Some people need same-sex marriage, some people need anti-violence work, some people need workplace discrimination protection, some people need for the violence and exploitation of sex work to be addressed, some people need reform for how LGBT* people are treated by the justice system etc., etc..

I think there is a valid criticism that some mainstream groups have been willing to drop trans* protection from legislative language as the compromise du jour, and then move on to the next LGB battle.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


"The extent to which these people have been willing to go to, up to and including making up stories out of whole cloth, is appalling. Sorry y'all have to deal with this shit, klang."

They're fucking appalling, and the amount of apathy and transphobia within our lists really bugs the shit out of me.

"Are you testing messages with focus groups or something like that?"

Without getting into stuff I shouldn't be talking about, the best post mortem on transgender campaign messaging comes from the LGBT Map folks. I wish we had real money to run current focus groups, as the last campaign that we ran after focus-grouping was really effective (though ultimately kind of unnecessary, as it was in large part groundwork for a marriage ballot fight we didn't have to have). But they cost a LOT of money to do right. Just like a door knock persuasion is really fucking expensive. All of our current message testing is less controlled than that.
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there is a valid criticism that some mainstream groups have been willing to drop trans* protection from legislative language as the compromise du jour, and then move on to the next LGB battle.

The HRC is one of the main offenders on this count, unfortunately.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:35 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me, this is the order of importance:

1. Gender
2. Attraction
3. Biology (doesn't matter at all what you have, but I cannot deal with what I've got)

In my interaction with girls I'd like it to be something along the lines of:

"I'm a girl okay, and since I have this weird body I can't really handle having, let's discuss our being girls first and laugh about how cisnormative men totes don't get it. You can share the ways being a ciswoman comes with all kinds of ways that society jerks you around I'll share how being a transwoman comes with all kinds of ways I get maligned by society, we can like, totally fucking bond on that, and then we can talk about the people we have a crushes on and I can totally compliment your outfit (and THAT WATCH OMFG) and you won't think I'm some creeper trying to get in your pants, I'm just one of the girls, right?"

I mean, I'd really like to be able to live like that.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


they are being pressured to give in to male-bodied individuals ‘masquerading as women’ as a means of identifying with the political and sexual oppression of women. Many feminists take issue with this and maintain that nobody can simply join the oppressed by fiat.

Holy shit is this seriously a fucking real God damn thing? Seriously? They think that transwomen just want to be part of the fun oppressed class? And they think it doesn't work? Right, because identifying as trans in many public spaces is a fucking God damn bucket of laughs which people totally do just for fun because then they get the joy of self-identifying as "oppressed". TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Oh my fucking God, this shit -- I'm sorry, I know that as someone cis I'm in a super privileged position because I don't encounter stuff like this that often, but I feel like, while I do encounter (and try to fight) transphobia, it's awful but generally a straightforward fear of the "other" which is bad but can maybe be dealt with. I hear people saying transphobic things including the idea of "masquerading", but nothing about doing it for the being oppressed lulz. This is like the equivalent of worrying about them stealing our precious bodily fluids or our women essence or something. Are you fucking KIDDING me with this fucking nonsense? Jesus Christ. Holy shit, what fucking bullshit nonsense.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:38 PM on October 17, 2013 [40 favorites]


Justice for me and people like me, but not those weirdos over there, that's weird and icky to me and how could they even think such a thing or have the temerity to say they're like me at all?
posted by chimaera at 3:17 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I'm a girl okay, and since I have this weird body I can't really handle having, let's discuss our being girls first and laugh about how cisnormative men totes don't get it. You can share the ways being a ciswoman comes with all kinds of ways that society jerks you around I'll share how being a transwoman comes with all kinds of ways I get maligned by society, we can like, totally fucking bond on that, and then we can talk about the people we have a crushes on and I can totally compliment your outfit (and THAT WATCH OMFG) and you won't think I'm some creeper trying to get in your pants, I'm just one of the girls, right?"

I would love to have that conversation with you (only I'm not wearing a watch, so can I just admire yours?). Coffee?
posted by jb at 3:17 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, for instance, isn't talking about "GLBT versus trans"; she is talking about reformism versus radicalism, making the specific comment that as it is presently constituted the mainstream gay rights movement is reformist, militarist and happy to be integrated into existing religious and financial hierarchies. She's saying that queer and trans politics are constituted in such a way that they are not militarist, reformist, etc. (From having read her other work, I suspect that she would not say "oh, there can never be reformist/militarist/etc queer or trans activists because we are so radikewl and awesome naturally", although I suspect that she'd argue that "queer" theories of gender lend themselves less well to reformist projects. I'm not entirely sanguine on that one, myself.)

There's definitely the Transsexual Seperatists who are sometimes aligned with "radical" feminists, and the older Harry Benjamin Syndrome groups who try to align with family values conservative organizations against the rest of the transgender umbrella, homosexuality, etc. etc. I'm not going to drive traffic to any websites and thankfully the idea that there is "real" transsexuallism vs. the "deviants" seems to be dying out.
posted by muddgirl at 3:21 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


When it comes to trasphobes who call themselves "radical feminists," given the company they are keeping and the regressive ideas about gender they assert, I think we should call them what they really are: "fundamentalist feminists."

Anyway, as for the Times piece, I found it really disappointing. There's little engagement on what seem to me to be the real issues--the facts that trans* people are more stigmatized than (cis) LGB people, face more violence, and have much less protection; the way that "LGBT" rights movements have prioritized sexual orientation over gender identity in securing protections, asking trans* folks to "wait"; the fact that many cis LGB people are uncomfortable with trans* people, and some are overtly transphobic. Laverne Cox and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's contributions seemed to me to come closest to addressing the issue of the marginalization of trans* folks and the privilege hierarchy in LGBT communities, but most of the contributions seemed really elementary and pat.

John Corvino's video on "here's what bisexual and trans gender mean!" was just embarrassing. (And, by the way, nobody is assigned a gender identity at birth. They're assigned a legal sex. That's kind of the point of what it means to be trans: you can't impose identities on people.)
posted by DrMew at 3:26 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


DrMew, I agree with you. However, it should be noted, I think, that trans people have employment protection in a way that LGB people do not, via Macy. I'm not saying this makes up for ANYTHING else, or that it even applies to all people (the EEOC has guidelines about # of employees, etc.), but it is promising.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:29 PM on October 17, 2013


More seriously: the TERFs can suck it (whatever it they prefer - I'd suggest rotten eggs). Transwomen face more oppression from both men and women than ciswomen, and transmen don't have it easy either. Maybe if a transman passed perfectly, he could enjoy a bit of male privilege, but he's still had to go through a lot of shit to get there.

We can recognize that the life experiences of cis and trans people are different while still acknowledging that there is a unity in the LGBT movement: the desire to create more tolerance for gender non-conformity, whether that be in the gender of your partner, your gender expression or your gender identity.

About gender & voice: gay men can dominate public LGBT spaces/forums. This has come up quite a bit lately in my local community. At one meeting, a man declared something like '90% of the gay community is male', to which the two women at the table and some of the other men visibly twitched. Nominations for the boards of important LGBT organizations tend to be majority male, though the staff is equally split (or tends a little female) - and at least one group is having a meeting tonight to discuss this issue. The major publications report more often on gay male news than lesbian events or artists. Ciswomen are still more well represented than trans people, but given the respective numbers, sometimes it feels like there is the G, and the L, B and T are all after thoughts.
posted by jb at 3:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


(And, by the way, nobody is assigned a gender identity at birth. They're assigned a legal sex. That's kind of the point of what it means to be trans: you can't impose identities on people.)
i've referred to having had my gender assigned at birth because it feels that way to me? i was an infant and then a child and then a teenager, and i had a gender identity that was handed to me as "this is what you will now identify as." like, i recognize the point of what you're saying but i still feel as though i was in fact assigned a gender identity and had it imposed upon me in the sense that i was taught that this was my identity that i had to have because that was the only option i was given, y'know?
posted by titus n. owl at 3:34 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's little engagement on what seem to me to be the real issues--the facts that trans* people are more stigmatized than (cis) LGB people, face more violence, and have much less protection; the way that "LGBT" rights movements have prioritized sexual orientation over gender identity in securing protections, asking trans* folks to "wait"; the fact that many cis LGB people are uncomfortable with trans* people, and some are overtly transphobic.

Repeated for truth.

The one thing is that I don't think that marriage equality is ignoring trans* issues, because many trans people will benefit from gender/legal sex not being an issue in marriage. Similarly, marriage equality isn't going to primarily help elite LGB people, but also poor couples who couldn't afford the complex legal instruments that rich people could use to replicate the protections of marriage (albeit imperfectly). A marriage license is a lot cheaper than a lawyer.
posted by jb at 3:36 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe the most important lesson being slowly learned by transgender communities is that gender is allowed to be choice (even if it isn't for you specifically, which for me, it isn't, but I digress). There isn't a gender narrative you have to follow in order to be what you are, that you are what you are at that moment and it can change if you feel like it.

I think that lesson applies well to all the other letters of the LGBT umbrella.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:40 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Today I learned the word "TERF," found out that lesbians are just another overrepresented cis majority whose voices don't need to be heard, and that the most outrageous problem for trans people is lesbian transphobia. It's mystifying. Isn't there any vitriol left for, you know, the class of people who are responsible for raping transwomen, beating transwomen, denying transwomen employment and housing? What's your pet acronym for them?
posted by Wordwoman at 3:55 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


found out that lesbians are just another overrepresented cis majority whose voices don't need to be heard

what
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


previously and previously
posted by Wordwoman at 4:05 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The number of women who are TERFs compared to the number of times that the TERF viewpoint gets raised in discussions like this seems, to me, to be rather disproportional. There similarly are also a few women (for obvious reasons generally lesbians) who think that men are useless and would be happier existing in a world totally free of them, but they are not a significant component of how decisions are made in the feminist movement as a whole. Yes, there are a few gay people of various stripes who don't like trans people. There are also gay Republicans, it doesn't mean the Republican platform is a major part of the gay rights movement. There are gay people who are overt racists! Are those the same degree of badness? I have no idea. But they're generally about the same degree of fringe.

I mean, I've heard of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival outside of the stupid about not allowing trans women, but I don't know anybody who's ever gone. I also don't know anybody personally who actually uses the word 'womyn' non-ironically. I know there are awful blogs, but I don't know anybody who reads them seriously. I'm sure it's a thing, but it's not much of a thing. A few loud people on the internet (and, I guess, running music festivals) are not a thing to treat like a major part of the movement.
posted by Sequence at 4:12 PM on October 17, 2013


Isn't a big part of the issue with TERFs that they had a disproportionate effect early on that stripped a lot of medical support from trans people? Even if they're numerically small, they appear to have done a lot of damage.
posted by fatbird at 4:15 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wordwoman: "Today I learned the word "TERF," found out that lesbians are just another overrepresented cis majority whose voices don't need to be heard, and that most outrageous problem for trans people is lesbian transphobia. It's mystifying. Isn't there any vitriol left for, you know, the class of people who are responsible for raping transwomen, beating transwomen, denying transwomen employment and housing? What's your pet acronym for them?"

You might want to page through this website to find out exactly what the TERFs are doing to trans women.

And there's plenty of vitriol for the cis straight dudes who are also responsible for all those things you listed! And feminist and LGBT groups actively campaign against them! But the problem is that many feminist and LGB groups also support and coddle TERFs over trans women, making our own safe spaces unsafe.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


I dunno, Wordwoman; there is a word (if not an acronym) for that class of people. It's called the Patriarchy, and anyone who is outside of the gender norm (who isn't in denial, I suppose) sees them for what they are. I also think there is a special feeling of betrayal when a group which who should be your allies against the Patriarchy turns on you and denies your very existence (or at least your right to exist).

And the TERFs have been pretty effective at getting their points of view taken as norms to some degree. I have known trans people who would have liked to have gone to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, but could not, and that's a wound for them. What kind of a friend would I be to not disapprove?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:18 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


You don't have to be a self-identified radfem to think that trans men and women aren't real men and women. The amount of sneering and eye-rolling I've seen from all kinds of people on this particular issue is enormous. In my experience, there are: people who've made an effort to understand trans people, people who don't really 'get it' but aren't bothered by it, people who don't really 'get it' and think it's hilarious/don't take it seriously, and the straight-up intolerant/hateful (of any stripe). Of all these groups, I think I've encountered more of the third variety than anything else, and that sucks. The number of times I've asked someone to use a different pronoun when referring to a trans person, or to not use the word "tranny," and gotten an indulgent smirk in response, is just fucked up. For a huge amount of the population, trans people only exist as the punchline to a joke, not as actual human beings.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:23 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


These articles are about collisions between allies, ostensible allies, and people who others woudl otherwise would assume would be allies. It makes perfect sense to talk about TERFs here.

Of course TERFs are only a small minority of self-identified feminists. Nobody has said otherwise. If you're not a TERF, then we're not talking about you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:23 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, I've heard of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival outside of the stupid about not allowing trans women, but I don't know anybody who's ever gone. I also don't know anybody personally who actually uses the word 'womyn' non-ironically.

I actually have one friend who has gone to the music festival (she calls it "Lesbian summer camp") and another who uses "womyn" unironically. These aren't totally rare, radical things.

Both are pro-trans rights; I don't know if the first has been back to the festival since it came out in the news that they were excluding transwomen.
posted by jb at 4:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would really enjoy not talking about TERF's.

They are the equivalent of stormfront to me.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't mind pointing them out, but they don't need additional airtime.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:36 PM on October 17, 2013


"The number of times I've asked someone to use a different pronoun when referring to a trans person, or to not use the word "tranny," and gotten an indulgent smirk in response, is just fucked up."

Yeah, so the folks I work for are running a campaign that's basically asking people to commit to something furthering LGBT equality that isn't about marriage, and that was the commitment I chose. It's led to a couple awkward conversations, but it was something small and concrete that I could do as an ally.

It's a totally goofy photo, but I don't mind getting laughed at over it.
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on October 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


And if anyone else wants to do anything similar, there are submit links under that photo.
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on October 17, 2013


klangklangston, just shared on my feed. Thanks ;)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:11 PM on October 17, 2013


What's your pet acronym for them?

Bigots, assholes, criminals. I can pour vitriol on them at the same time as I am angry about feminist jerks who are assholes on trans* issues. Walking and chewing gum simultaneously - been practicing for years and I'm pretty good at it.
posted by rtha at 5:15 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


(Disclaimer: All links below contain vile transphobic blargh.)

Yeah, re: TERFs, they contribute quite a bit to an atmosphere of intolerance, hate and regular old ignorance. Julie Burchill (whose name I can only hope is historically associated with scowls and headshakes and phrases not repeated in polite company) quite recently had a vitriolic anti-transgender piece published in the Guardian (super happy fun follow up), which has a history of transphobic articles but which had not until that point boiled over into active hate speech. The public reaction to that article in particular was mostly negative (although the Telegraph and some others held transphobia up as a Free Speech Issue....ugh), but probably because it lacked any subtlety whatsoever.

Burchill's not alone in espousing transphobic hate on prominent media platforms. There's also Julie Bindel (who I confuse with Burchill, because they do have similar names and transphobic assholes all start to blur together for me anyway), Suzanne Moore, Christine Benvenuto... This is all just the Guardian roundup; they have improved in more recent months (between the reaction to Burchill's hate screed and Lucy Meadows' suicide, I'm skeptical about the shift, but overall it's still an improvement), but when a generally leftish and highly visible publication has a poor track record of not doing transphobia, well...

It's a real problem. This stuff hurts more than feelings. It reinforces transphobic narratives, which kind of dominate our society and lead to across the board discrimination and violence.

(Though, I do have to note: the majority of people I've interacted with in the flesh have been decent. Having a face attached to generally nebulous notions like "transgender people" does a lot to immediately shatter stupid preconceptions.)
posted by byanyothername at 5:28 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Anti-trans* radical feminists make me sad:(

The radical feminism I grew up with connected LGBT - including the T - struggles to feminism by seeing oppression based on sexual identity and oppression based on gender identity and also gender expression as related results of patriarchy, and welcomed all forms of gender identity and expression, especially welcoming people finding a gender expression that felt authentic and comfortable for themselves. The feminism that I was taught saw gender as more of a learned construct, that has changed over time, than a biological phenomenon, and so asked people to question their assumptions about what is feminine and what is masculine, but ultimately was more concerned with breaking down structural oppression based on expression of traits assigned to any given gender - it was the sort of feminism that said that it was also important that men be able to express caring emotions if they wanted to, for example; that there not be a hierarchy of traits no matter how the traits are gendered in the present historical moment and regardless of whether the traits were learned or biologically innate, with the end goal of people being able to have authentic personal gender expression without having to make any (even potentially subtle or not entirely conscious) patriarchal bargains. It was the sort of feminism that, even among cis women, welcomed tomboys and also didn't shame "girly girls".

(Which, really, if you're going to get all het up about trans women supposedly not experiencing oppression under patriarchy, or about trans men somehow being traitors to the sex class, then you have to either conflate sex and gender in a manner contradicting even standard anti-trans* feminist analyses of the role of gender in patriarchy, or start defining masculine and feminine genders more carefully, and then you're going to differentiate between and exclude some cis women as well, and that's obviously unfeminist to any feminist, right? Sisterhood is powerful, right? I mean, the Michigan Womyn's Festival doesn't exclude cis women based on gender expression. And my gender expression even as a cis women certainly made my experience with patriarchy growing up different from that of cis women with very traditionally feminine gender expression - in many cases I received more benefits from expressing more traditionally masculine traits, while in other ways I received more negative social pressure for not conforming to proscribed femininity.)

The feminism I grew up with also realized that sex is non-binary, and that was okay and welcomed, not seen as a threat to a conceptual division of individual humans into members of oppressed and oppressor classes.

It was also the sort of feminism that could critique the influence of patriarchy in science (assumptions, questions deemed worthy of investigation, experimental design, interpretation of data, description of models, etc.), yet still see value in a feminist science rather than throwing out the idea of science entirely, and support women who wanted to engage in scientific pursuits (though preferably doing so in a manner that challenged where patriarchal norms and assumptions influenced their field of science).

I first saw a different version in person when I went away to grad school and found that the women in science were often more just liberal feminists, and the more radical feminists tended to be anti-science and view someone like me (tomboy math nerd) with a bit of suspicion. That was pretty disappointing, and seems to me to be another facet of the ... philosophical difference, to be polite (I'd view it as an incomplete analysis of what structural oppression such as patriarchy is, not fully understanding the idea that structural oppression is independent of malicious intent of individual people - though of course there's still plenty of individual sexism, homophobia, and transphobia in the world) that gives anti-trans* radical feminists. Fortunately for me, this didn't have negative consequences for my health care options, legal status, etc. But a radical feminism that excludes trans* people is a radical feminism that, followed to its logical conclusion, also excludes me. That's not my radical feminism.

('Course, the feminism I grew up with was also comfortable with intersectionality, was simultaneously radical and Marxist or socialist feminism, etc.)
posted by eviemath at 5:37 PM on October 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Is The Perfect The Non-Ally Of The Good? And What Do We Mean By Perfect, Ally, Good, and The? Nobody Has The Answer. They Don't Even Know. Not Even In The Community. Whatever That Means Now.

/satire

Look, lesbians and gay men aren't always awesome towards bisexuals either (because we're traitors, privileged liars, deluded cowards, etc.) but it doesn't mean that I'm not queer.
posted by desuetude at 6:05 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


eviemath, I also grew up with that kind of feminism.
posted by rtha at 6:07 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


previously and previously

I'm sorry that you interpreted my comment as implying that "lesbians are just another overrepresented cis majority whose voices don't need to be heard"; that interpretation can only make sense if you don't consider trans women to be women, so it quite wasn't what I had in mind.
posted by threeants at 6:44 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the one hand: I wish people would finally understand the differences between gender identity, gender presentation, gender performance, the various (and sometimes conflicting) physical determinations of sex, and sexuality. And lumping T with LGB doesn't help achieve that.

I wish people would ease off the "born this way" narrative, because that is not true for everyone, especially where it comes to gender. I'd like to stop the line of thought that says being anything other than cisgendered is a mental illness. I don't want to be judged, but I don't want to be pitied or "cured" either.


On the other hand: I kind of think it should be LGBTW. Perhaps even LGBTWM. All the abuse and discrimination against women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans* people have the same root cause: the imaginary line drawn between men and women, and the idea that it cannot or should not be crossed.
posted by Foosnark at 7:08 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am too lazy to link because phone, but google Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism, by Suzanne Pharr. Last I looked, it was available on her or her publisher's site as a free PDF. It's probably pretty dated in some respects, but what is not dated is the idea that gender policing of all kinds is tied tightly to mysogyny and sexism.
posted by rtha at 8:01 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a trans friend who says there has to be only one movement, because that way trans people are handy to be tossed under the bus as needed. Not that she's BITTER or anything...

There is only one thing that allows me to tolerate the Transhumanist movement, and that's the faint hope that a hundred years from now this will all be behind us, and that gender and sex will be changed easily, according to desire. But even then, there will probably be infomorphs who claim that android aren't REAL AIs, due to their clinging to hard shells, and so their should be safe data spheres clear of their influence.
posted by happyroach at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's a totally goofy photo, but I don't mind getting laughed at over it.

it's a fine photo - and a great pledge.

I heard the Julie Burchill nonsense on the BBC recently. She was saying completely hateful, idiotic things - like make me argue outloud on the street things, and I usually only do that for right-wing nonsense. But the programme itself was pretty good, albeit a bit Trans* 101. Great clips from Richard O'Brien, scholars, etc.

Don't listen if Burchill will make you angry though - she has extremely unpleasant - like Putin-level *phobic unpleasant - things to say.
posted by jb at 9:40 PM on October 17, 2013


I'm sorry that you interpreted my comment as implying that "lesbians are just another overrepresented cis majority whose voices don't need to be heard"; that interpretation can only make sense if you don't consider trans women to be women, so it quite wasn't what I had in mind.

I do not believe that lesbian transwomen's concerns and experiences so perfectly intersect with that of cis lesbians that cis lesbians don't need to be heard from in a panel called "Room for Debate."
posted by Wordwoman at 9:57 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am very interested in those concerns. Do you know of any good resources I can read?
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:34 PM on October 17, 2013


Yay, a whole thread liberally scattered through with "transfolk" and "transwoman" (often right next to "gay people" or "bi women" - not "gaypeople" or "biwomen")!

roomthreeseventeen: DrMew, I agree with you. However, it should be noted, I think, that trans people have employment protection in a way that LGB people do not, via Macy

Maybe where you are (the US?). Everywhere else in the world, trans people get little to no employment protection. A recent overhaul of the Equalities Act here in the UK removed basically any and all employment protections for trans people, for example, and the recent Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act pretty much threw trans people under the bus as a 'compromise' to let gay marriage get through. For your one counter-example, there is a huge corpus of examples of the opposite.

fatbird: The number of women who are TERFs compared to the number of times that the TERF viewpoint gets raised in discussions like this seems, to me, to be rather disproportional.

The number of companies that are oil companies compared to the number of times the evil of oil companies gets raised in discussions seems rather disproportional, too. The amount that TERFs fill in the lives of many trans people (particularly trans women) is sadly disproportional, too - there's a nasty trend of organised cadres of transphobes invading discussion spaces on the internet, of going out of their way to "doxx" people, outing them publically, etcetera. They force their way into our lives in a way where it becomes a meaningful problem, and one that needs talking about. Hell, the TERF acronym arose as a way to specifically differentiate those people from saner radical feminists, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a trans person that doesn't readily acknowledge that most women and most feminists are not TERFs. They sometimes seem to fill more than bigotted cis men as they also tend to occupy many of the same spaces many trans people do - LGBT organisations, feminist groups, campaigning groups, etc.

lesbians are just another overrepresented cis majority

Not all lesbians are cis. So no.

jb: I heard the Julie Burchill nonsense on the BBC recently. She was saying completely hateful, idiotic things - like make me argue outloud on the street things, and I usually only do that for right-wing nonsense. But the programme itself was pretty good, albeit a bit Trans* 101. Great clips from Richard O'Brien, scholars, etc. ¨

The radio programme is pretty good. (It's also got a friend and bandmate of mine in it - apparently they did several hours of interview, which had a lot more depth than the few minutes they actually used.)
posted by Dysk at 1:51 AM on October 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I do not believe that lesbian transwomen's concerns and experiences so perfectly intersect with that of cis lesbians that cis lesbians don't need to be heard from in a panel called "Room for Debate."

You can apply that to any group, though. Like, the experiences of white and black lesbians, middle-class and poor lesbians, British and Pakistani lesbians.

In all these cases, as with cis and trans lesbians, the voices of the latter groups are more marginalized compared to those of the former groups. So while, yeah, a white British middle class cis lesbian will undoubtedly have useful things to share, and while again, yes, the voices of lesbians in general need boosting, it is those same lesbians whose voices we already hear, whose opinions we are already exposed to, in the real world. I mean, go count up the lesbian columnists in national British newspapers and tell me who you see?

Also, please: the space. It's "trans women".
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:08 AM on October 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I do not believe that lesbian transwomen's concerns and experiences so perfectly intersect with that of cis lesbians that cis lesbians don't need to be heard from in a panel called "Room for Debate."

Depends on the individual really. As well as the point ArmyOfKittens made above, you should consider that some trans women pass convincingly enough that they can for all intents and purposes leave their trans identity behind, and be seen as cis. Their experiences are likely to be fairly similar to a cis woman's experiences. Those of us who don't really pass (hi!) likely have more dissimilar experiences (even as we have many similar experiences - certainly for me, passing isn't on or off, it's contextual and patchy).



To address the topic of the conversation: no, I do not as a trans person necessarily feel included in or represented by LGB movements in general (whether or not they use the T as well). There are exceptions, of course, but my general feeling is illustrated rather neatly by the time I was subject to transphobic abuse and physical assault when performing at a Love Music Hate Homophobia event. By another performer. Who was allowed to go on and play his set after the fact.
posted by Dysk at 2:17 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Annika Cicada: "I am very interested in those concerns. Do you know of any good resources I can read?"

I am also very interested in the concerns of cis lesbians that differ from trans lesbians on the case of trans people's inclusion in the LGBT movement, and would love a comment summing up, or links, or anything.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:00 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The hatred and intolerance on blogs such as GenderTrender and other places is just mind boggling.

Aaagh I read some.
posted by bleep-blop at 3:54 AM on October 18, 2013


Dysk, yes, sorry, I'm in the US.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:58 AM on October 18, 2013


People keep saying that gender and sexuality are completely independent of one another, but in my experience that isn't exactly true, at least not for women. A significant subset of lesbians are gender nonconforming in a slippery way that encompasses such varied practices as never wearing skirts or dresses, presenting as male while identifiying as female, presenting as alternately masculine and feminine, identifying with 'butch' as a distinct gender identity, and even deciding, after identifying as female for a long time, that on balance one is actually male. Many historical figures are difficult to identify either as lesbians or as straight transmen because they disguised themselves as men and it's hard to pin down exactly why. Websites like dapperq and qwear have articles on breast binding and dysmorphia. Of course there are queer women who are 100% unambiguously cis and gender conforming, but a large portion aren't, and I think this is where our experience differs from that of gay men, because gay masculinity, while hardly normative, has much less significant overlap with trans experiences.

Many people sort of wander around in this nonconforming space for much or all of their lives, and it seems really clear to me that the battle to make this space livable is the same as the battle to make trans lives livable. Almost the same changes that would help trans men and women would help gender nonconforming queer women like me. Trans people's struggle differs in degree - I do not worry that I will be murdered because of my gender identity, I do not currently need medical help to change my body (although I'd appreciate knowing that it was an easy and painless option if that was how things turned out) and to the extent that I encounter misgendering it's more people not understanding the nuances of what is for me a pretty nuanced identity. Which, hey, ought to make people like me the best sort of ally, because we are affected by similarish problems, but not in such a continuous and exhausting way! I do not want to be part of an LGB movement that abandons the T, firstly because I can't see how to do that without defining the movement as only being for the Good Gays who are nonthreatening and do their gender in the Right Way, secondly because by extension I don't want to be part of a movement that caters to an increasingly narrow set of white rich people who just want to be able to have lavish weddings* and leave all their money to each other tax-free, and thirdly because without everyone being absofuckinglutely clear that trans people need to be considered completely a part of the community I don't see how you don't have it all dissolve into a transphobic mess, which it is already teeteringly close to being.

TL;DR: Sexuality and gender identity are independent for some people. For other people they are not independent.

*Just to be clear, I am 100% in favour of lavish gay weddings.
posted by Acheman at 5:45 AM on October 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


People keep saying that gender and sexuality are completely independent of one another, but in my experience that isn't exactly true, at least not for women.

Speaking only from my own understanding, it's not so much that they are completely independent, but they are measured on different axes and represent things that are distinct. The genderbread person, while a slightly silly graphic, displays this admirably -- there are (I think) undoubtedly complex interdependencies between the various axes, but each one measures something that also is, in some ways, distinct. And pretty much only the person inside the experience can say where on any given axes they fall (and, of course, that position can change over time and with greater self knowledge).
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:08 AM on October 18, 2013


TL;DR: Sexuality and gender identity are independent for some people. For other people they are not independent.

I don't know. Certainly gender non-conformity (especially by women) is perceived as a marker of queerness and it wouldn't shock me if that was an accurate perception in most cases, but there totally are straight people who are gender non-conforming. I mean, there was the FPP the other week about the guy in Wyoming who'd been wearing dresses and skirts for decades. Or even Eddie Izzard, though he's occasionally given more complex answers about his gender than 'man'. I am mindful of the fact my two examples are men, but that's who's coming to mind at 8am.

Many people sort of wander around in this nonconforming space for much or all of their lives, and it seems really clear to me that the battle to make this space livable is the same as the battle to make trans lives livable.

Yes! I've noticed in some circles a move towards talking about gender non-conformity when we're not talking about something specific to trans people or something specific to some form of transition because it's often an issue about being seen as gender non-conforming, something which may not effect every trans person and may effect some people who aren't trans. Whether you get hassled in bathrooms is really a function of whether you're perceived as gender non-conforming, not whether you're trans or not. (Being perceived as trans pretty much automatically means you're being perceived as gender non-conforming, but a given trans person might not always be being perceived as trans that day.)

(Bathrooms are not the best example because they're an issue used to attack trans people, especially women, all the time. However, they are an obvious place where the actual thing that's causing you trouble is how your gender is perceived.)
posted by hoyland at 6:34 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, please: the space. It's "trans women".

Sorry, I tend to run cis- and trans- both together with the noun, maybe influenced by cisalpine and transalpine. But I'll try to stop.

Many historical figures are difficult to identify either as lesbians or as straight transmen because they disguised themselves as men and it's hard to pin down exactly why.

I actually did a paper in undergraduate about female transvestism in 17-18th century Europe, and that was something I was interested in. For some women, disguising themselves a men was a way to express their gender identity or sexuality (when caught, they said things like "I feel like I'm really a man", or they married a woman, etc). For others, it was something they took on, perhaps temporarily, to travel safely.

the 17th and 18th centuries appear to have been a bit of a heyday for successfully passing as men: lots of geographic mobility combined with loose and bulky clothing. 19th century trousers were notably more tailored.

damn hourglass figure meant I would never pass, though I wanted to try...

(Bathrooms are not the best example because they're an issue used to attack trans people, especially women, all the time. )

Immediate solution: more all-gender washrooms, especially if they are single use anyways. It's kind of crazy how many restaurants, etc, I've been in have single use washrooms and still insist that one is the ladies, the other the gents. It's a waste for all around. It should just be standard, like at Starbucks, all single washrooms are not-gendered. No question about anyone's gender, and you don't have a line-up of women (or men) waiting for one when the other is free.

I realise that multistall washrooms are more of an issue for some people - but there, I think education and acceptance/understanding is the main solution. I'm actually perfectly happy with all-gender multi-washrooms; I hate having to switch floors or go down farther just to find the "appropriate" washroom. (I used to work on a floor with just a men's washroom - I should have started using it in the name of gender equality & laziness).

That said, the last time I was in a relatively crowded all-gender multi-stall, I may have made a faux pas by talking to people in there. I was greeting a female acquaintance and talking while in the stall, only to hear a male voice saying, "Yep, definitely an all-gender washroom".
posted by jb at 6:47 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


People keep saying that gender and sexuality are completely independent of one another, but in my experience that isn't exactly true, at least not for women.
--
Speaking only from my own understanding, it's not so much that they are completely independent, but they are measured on different axes and represent things that are distinct.


Well, OK, there are two potential uses of the term 'independent' here. One is statistical, and I think we can say with confidence that gender identity and sexuality are not statistically independent for women - being queer and having a nonstandard gender are highly correlated. The other is in the genderbread person sense, and what I'm saying is that while the genderbread person is charming, it is an oversimplification. For many people, myself included, the gender and sexuality 'axes' aren't experienced as two completely separate things - they are sort of mixed up together and interdependent. I think this is actually fairly common for queer women.

Also, god yes, stressful public toilet experiences. I would say they fill me with rage but that would be a lie, they mostly fill me with upset and anxiety.
posted by Acheman at 6:54 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


That said, the last time I was in a relatively crowded all-gender multi-stall, I may have made a faux pas by talking to people in there. I was greeting a female acquaintance and talking while in the stall, only to hear a male voice saying, "Yep, definitely an all-gender washroom".

Depends whether they inherit men's etiquette or ladies'. In my experience, men do not talk in bathrooms, whereas women do. When I had just starting transition, it used to freak me the hell out any time anyone sparked up a conversation at the sinks, because I wasn't at all used to it, and was terrified they were going to question the validity of my accessing the space (something that as it happens, has happened all of twice to me, and when I've pointed out that I'm trans, the questioner got all apologetic both times - not really worth being terrified over!)
posted by Dysk at 8:09 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


In that particular building, it's apparent which of the all-gender washrooms had been converted from male and which from female - and male norms (don't look, don't speak) do rule in the one that still has urinals. I think it really is the urinals that make a difference; maybe men would be more social in a washroom if they never had to deal with them.
posted by jb at 8:17 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whoever this "universal woman" is we keep referring to, I'd like to meet her someday!

My gender and sexuality are totally interdependent as well, but by the virtue of being trans I have a perspective on each that is unique and totally non-threatening to cis lesbians and have potential to be enlightening and helpful.

It seems to me a few people in this thread are dancing around stating outright that trans lesbians are appropriating lesbianism away from cis women. Which logically only follows if you do not accept trans women as women but a separate thing entirely, which completely invalidates everything that I know to be true about myself and have known to be true since oh, 5 years old.

But even then it doesn't matter that I've lived with this my whole life. I believe people have the right to figure out their gender identity at any point in life without fear of exclusionary, fear-based defensively postured conversations that never seem to be able to move past "but you were born with the wrong sex parts so why should I accept you as my gender".

So, I don't fear the differences and I believe they don't exclude cis women and trans women from being able to exist within a single lesbian group provided people can have constructive dialog with each other. The different life experiences are helpful on both sides to each other, but for constructive dialog to happen first requires cis women lesbians accepting trans women lesbians as actual, real women without reservation in order for any conversation to yield optimal results.

ranty rant over.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:16 AM on October 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


(Also, I have to say that transgender people really do not have any kind of employment protection in the US at all. Mia Macy's victory is good, but protections still vary by state with many/most having basically none. People are still fired or evicted or whatever for being trans--it's an ongoing battle, nothing permanent or universal has been won yet.)
posted by byanyothername at 9:18 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, sincere question here. Is homosexual the wrong term to use now? Is queer acceptable? Or does it apply to only one group? Can straight people use the word queer or is that taboo? We are trying to be sensitive at my workplace and need to keep up with the times.
posted by Kokopuff at 9:23 AM on October 18, 2013


Kokopuff: I think that would make a great askme.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:28 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


It depends.

Homosexual is usually used these days by people who think homosexuality is wrong and bad and it was better back in the day when we politely stayed in the closet. It can be used in non-pejorative ways in formal/academic/history kinds of writing, but in popular parlance, saying gay or lesbian is just fine.

Some people don't identify as gay or lesbian or bi, but as queer. But queer is a fraught word - unless you are discussing a group or a person whom you know to identify as such, and if you yourself are not in the community, then it's better to avoid it.

All these are my own thoughts and do not represent All The Gays Everywhere.
posted by rtha at 9:29 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Queer is an interesting one. Some people find it horribly offensive, some would just as soon completely replace LGBTetc with "queer" as an umbrella term, and I think probably most people are somewhere in between. I've noticed that among some younger lesbians/bi women, it's as much a lifestyle description as an identifier of sexuality. Generally I think it's better to err on the side of caution when using the word, but if someone tells you they're queer, it's no problem to call them queer (so it differs from, say, the n-word in that way).
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:35 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, sincere question here. Is homosexual the wrong term to use now? Is queer acceptable? Or does it apply to only one group? Can straight people use the word queer or is that taboo? We are trying to be sensitive at my workplace and need to keep up with the times.

I think this is culturally fraught and depends where you are. In the US, 'homosexual' is pretty much out--in most contexts it signals homophobia. I have the impression that it's a bit more of an option in Britain, but 'gay and lesbian' is preferred. For example, you see references to 'Turing's homosexuality', which isn't a phrase I'd use in an American context (but I'd still say 'Turing was gay' in either a British or American context). But 'H/homosexuell' is, afaik, perfectly fine in German (as a noun or adjective--whereas the noun is unquestionably to be avoided in English).

I used to go to a queer youth group that met upstairs in a building where the ground floor was mostly staffed by older gay men. 'Queer' was the word that always got used as an example of in-group/out-group language because there was an understanding that you were not, under no circumstances, to call them men downstairs 'queer', even if we were happily describing ourselves as queer. (I belive this was the detente reached after some discussions before my time--they pretended we weren't using it ever and we didn't say it downstairs.) It wouldn't surprise me that if, by the time I'm 60, we'll be considering 'queer' reclaimed, but, at this point, there's an (impossible to pinpoint) age boundary, below which 'queer' is generally in bounds and above which it is very out of bounds. That boils down to 'if you have to ask, don't use it in the workplace'.
posted by hoyland at 9:41 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


My general workplace M.O. is to not make it a part of the workplace. If someone labels themselves as something then I'll use that, but or the most part I'm getting paid to perform my role, which to date has 100% of the time not included labeling someone's orientation in my mind.

But in terms of writing HR docs and policies, I'd think the acronym LGBT should suffice in most cases.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:42 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, sincere question here. Is homosexual the wrong term to use now? Is queer acceptable? Or does it apply to only one group? Can straight people use the word queer or is that taboo? We are trying to be sensitive at my workplace and need to keep up with the times.

My experience of the terms:

1. "Homosexuality" is used when you need a noun and are talking formally. "Homosexuality is a modern concept which first appears in [nineteenth century historiography stuff". "Homosexuality should be a protected status under [thingity thing]".

2. "Homosexual" should not be used as a general term to refer to people. "He is a homosexual" is deprecated, for instance. It sounds clinical and dated, for one thing and it's not a term that gays/lesbians/etc usually use about themselves except for satire/humor/retro qualities/informal situations. It's also a bit confusing to some people because "homosexual" is sometimes used to mean "gay men only" and sometimes used to mean "all genders who have relations that can be described as same-gender".

3. "Homosexual" probably shouldn't be used as an adjective either except in certain academic papers. "Homosexual communities generally...." would be deprecated; "When discussing the homosexual activist organizations of the early twentieth century" might be okay if you had previously indicated that you were going to use the terms used at the time.

4. Probably only call people "queer" if they call themselves queer or if you know your milieu, as rtha says. For older folks it still carries a lot of emotional/slur baggage. For both older and younger people, some folks feel that they've fought very hard to be able to call themselves "gay" or "lesbian" and don't want to be lumped into the term "queer". For some folks, they specifically do not share/apply to themselves the views of gender and sexuality (fluidity, critique of gender binary, etc) that undergird the term "queer", so they don't want to be called "queer" because it doesn't reflect how they feel about their gender and sexuality.

5. Straight people should not call themselves "queer", no matter how unusual their domestic arrangements or sexual practices. "Queer" is a specifically political and philosophical term that constitutes a community; it's not just a loose descriptor. It often seems like since it's all "critique of gender binary" that the term ought to be up for grabs - but because of the specific political and social history of the group constituted by "queer", it ends up being appropriative and disrespectful, even when this is not the intent. Straight folks who have non-standard sexual identities are best advised to name those identities - "I'm poly"; "I'm a straight person who is asexual"; "I practice BDSM".

There really isn't a great term to encompass every non-straight sexual identity - and yet sometimes you need to do so! I think the best idea is to use one of the acronyms. None of them is perfect (language is misunderstanding!) but if the tone of your writing is respectful and inclusive, people will generally accept that there is no perfect way to speak of this stuff.

(Also, a challenge is that because two things are happening simultaneously - a decline in homophobia in mainstream US culture and the microcategorization of sexual identities and practices (asexuality's many variations, for instance; the increasing public categorization of identities like poly) - there's a lot of slippage in the way we talk about sexual identities. Should a straight person who is asexual be included in events targeted at GLBTQ folks? Is asexuality the same kind of identity as gayness? Is being queer a choice or genetic? If it's a choice* more than it is genetic, is being poly the same kind of identity? These questions all require some serious thinking about what you want to achieve - like, are you running a clinic? Putting on a fetish ball that is open to the public? Running an archive? Organizing against job discrimination? Each of these purposes probably needs a different way of thinking about sexual identities.

So basically, I'd suggest that you sit down and write out your purpose in addressing GLBTQ* folks in simple language - once you've done that, it will help you clarify what language is most suitable to the specific people you are addressing.



*I think that there's certain ways in which sexuality is a "choice", very strongly modified by social structures - but not in the sense of "oh, I decided to be gay this morning".
posted by Frowner at 9:54 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


There really isn't a great term to encompass every non-straight sexual identity - and yet sometimes you need to do so!

When I want to do that I use GSM or GSRM: gender and sexual (and romantic) minorities.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I do not believe that lesbian transwomen's concerns and experiences so perfectly intersect with that of cis lesbians that cis lesbians don't need to be heard from in a panel called "Room for Debate.""

But what, specifically, do you feel was left out of the conversation on whether to think of trans rights as part of the gay rights movement?

Even in the Counterpunch article, the objections all seemed to come down to cis RadFems saying that they didn't feel comfortable around trans women, but it just seems like one of the through-lines of LGBT advocacy is that lots of people are uncomfortable around stuff they don't understand.

I dunno. Once upon a time, all the trans women that I knew personally had gender performances that I thought were hyperfeminine in a way that reinforced gender norms I already thought were kind of destructive, like, eating disorders and shit. But I've grown up since then, realized that I'm not the gender police, and that trans women are also pretty likely to be going through some serious shit anyway, so what do they need me judging them for? (Likewise, I knew some trans men that were all bro-dawgy, and who had some real misogynistic shit going on, but they've really mellowed on that now that they're past their "ZOMG I AM OUT TRANS MAN" phase.)

Anyway, I've had my whole cis life to play with masculine gender roles and never really had to justify that shit since middle school, so who the fuck am I to care about someone else needing practice before they find what's comfortable for them?

(I think I've also been helped by that realization that I feel like most people have to have when dealing with minorities, that thing where the asshole you know who's one of any given group can just be regarded as an asshole, not as a representative. There was someone I worked with who was a trans woman and just a goddamned lunatic who was prone to getting into screaming matches in the office. She's a trans woman and an asshole, and it was always kinda hilarious that she lived in an Ashram while being totally aggro.)

"Ok, sincere question here. Is homosexual the wrong term to use now? Is queer acceptable? Or does it apply to only one group? Can straight people use the word queer or is that taboo? We are trying to be sensitive at my workplace and need to keep up with the times."

Totally depends on the context, man, sorry. I do know that for talking about the broader community to the moveable middle, you gotta say the whole, "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender" because nobody who's not already kinda hip knows what LGBT is.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of squishiness past that — "lesbian" and "gay" still have people in the moveable middle thinking that they're slurs, but "lesbian" tests better than "gay," which is why "LGBT" starts with it. "Bisexual" gets people thinking about sex first, which is generally counterproductive (sex thinking tends to short-circuit discussions of protections, etc.). And, unfortunately, nobody really knows what "transgender" means — when you ask people about it in focus groups, they tend to volunteer "transvestite" instead.

Some people like "queer," some people don't — it still has strong associations with slurs. Rex Wockner was highlighting this on his list the other day, vis a vis this Mayor getting all hate speech.

"Queer" also refers to a specific gender/sexuality set of theories, which is generally radical and seeks to move beyond the reformist mainstream of LGBT advocacy. That said, Frowner makes it more cut and dried than it is in practice with BDSM/poly stuff, which has a broader (non-theory) queer usage (at least around here) than they're giving credit for, and since I don't really consider myself queer, I don't want to police that usage either.

ON PREVIEW:

Gender and Sexual Minorities is what the academic literature that we sponsor generally uses, to avoid the LGBTQAI (or the cheeky QUILTBAG) alphabet soup. We also sometimes call it "The sandwich" around the office, in a, "I'll have an LGBT with mustard" sense.
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Is being queer a choice or genetic? If it's a choice* more than it is genetic, is being poly the same kind of identity? These questions all require some serious thinking about what you want to achieve - like, are you running a clinic? Putting on a fetish ball that is open to the public? Running an archive? Organizing against job discrimination? Each of these purposes probably needs a different way of thinking about sexual identities.

*I think that there's certain ways in which sexuality is a "choice", very strongly modified by social structures - but not in the sense of "oh, I decided to be gay this morning".
"

The whole choice versus genetics thing seems like such an odd orthogonal question, especially when considered in the history of identity politics, which (as far as I'm concerned) really begins primarily with religion. Like, outside of a few atheists, no one really questions religious identity as valid, but no one thinks it's genetic either, really. You might be predisposed to religious belief (if you take the evo psych seriously) but any given belief seems largely a crapshoot of where, when and to whom you're born. Sexuality seems to be more biologically determined, but people have been willing to die rather than convert for millennia, and there's a sense that it's not legitimate to question that.

I mean, a huge chunk of our current rights and liberal theory all comes from Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration, which is explicitly about religious toleration at the end of hundreds of years of religious war.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, Frowner makes it more cut and dried than it is in practice with BDSM/poly stuff, which has a broader (non-theory) queer usage (at least around here) than they're giving credit for, and since I don't really consider myself queer, I don't want to police that usage either.

See, everyone I know who is "queer as in has non-heterosexual relationships at least some of the time" is pretty uncomfortable when people who have only heterosexual relationships describe themselves as "queer" because they practice BDSM, etc. I actually once had an acquaintance who was the most straight-acting straight guy you could possibly imagine, whose partner was the most feminine/nurturing/long-hair-and-"women's"-clothes-wearing/small-featured woman imaginable...and this dude had the fucking gall and hubris to tell me that he was in a queer relationship because his partner made most of the important decisions for them. Their relationship dynamic was "queer", you see.

If you are not someone who is going to get harassed with a slur (or closely related language) it is risky use that reclaimed slur to describe yourself. "Queer" is a bit more complicated because there's a lot of sexuality and identity theory attached, I admit.

There might be some slippage if you were a visibly gender-non-conforming straight person who got a lot of homophobic harassment for your appearance, but other than that..."Queer" doesn't have the same kind of relationship to "straight" that "homosexuality" does to "heterosexuality", but I don't know any non-straight people who are cool with using "queer" to talk about straight poly folks. It tends to be a term that straight poly folks use to describe themselves in straight-dominated settings.

This no doubt varies by region and community - but it's a real "know your audience" thing, and I personally would make sure that both straight and non-straight poly/asexual/BDSM folks in a given setting were cool with describing straight people as "queer" before I broke that one out.
posted by Frowner at 10:32 AM on October 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


My eldest stepchild has decided to transition female to male, and we've been concerned about what they're going to be stepping into. The whole 'quisling' characterization couldn't be farther from the truth in this case, too. this thread is educational, and does not make me optimistic about how they'll be treated.

The term they've used (jebus it's hard writing the pronouns this way, but it's what they wants) for several years is 'gender-queer', though their behavior has AFAIK been as a pure lesbian. Not even vaguely interested in men, ever, since she was a small she. And feels a fair amount of guilt around the idea of full transformation.

Basically, what I keep coming around to is: this sucks.

(also we haven't had the full pronoun discussion with them yet, but I gather they wants 'them' instead of 'he.')
posted by lodurr at 10:43 AM on October 18, 2013


Who knows, maybe I'm being a patronizing, privileged dick about this, but it's so inexplicable and baffling.

klangklangston, if you could pick up The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, it has some bits about this kind of stuff - why it is actually advantageous to one cause to not ally with others in some cases - when organizations are competing for the same limited funding, usually by the same granting organizations, it behooves them to stick to their message in particular when conservative or more "focused" granting organizations or major donors may deny funding for what is seen as "mission creep."
posted by corb at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2013


The whole choice versus genetics thing seems like such an odd orthogonal question

I don't think it's orthogonal at all - I think that one reason that the language "we" use about gender and sexuality is such a complicated question right now is because there's such a huge range of thinking about the source of gender and sexual identity.

Is being poly hardwired? If it is, should organizing around being poly work like organizing around other identities assumed to be hardwired, like trans*ness or lesbianism?

How does being genderqueer/visibly gender-non-conforming relate to being trans? Is being visibly gender-non-conforming more like being a punk (that is, a chosen social identity with some political component) or more like being a trans person?

Is there an inherent quality to gender, so that if I want to transition I am transitioning to some foundational state of masculinity? When I say that I "feel like I should be a man", what do I mean that being a man feels like? Where do I get that idea?

And what about asexuality and BDSM? If BDSM is queer and BDSM is a chosen social identity like being punk* and BDSM is also a kind of queerness, is being "queer" a chosen identity? If it is, how then does queerness relate to being gay or lesbian?

I'm not saying that I have the answers to these questions (although I have opinions!). Honestly, I think they're questions about philosophy more than anything else, and honest people can have legitimate differences over them while still treating each other with sincerity and respect.

My point being, I think that "OMG what terms do I use now" is in part because all these questions are on the mainstream table now whereas they weren't in, like, 1998. I think this is why we went very slowly from "GLBT" to "GLBTQ" and then fairly quickly from "GLBTQ" to "QUILTBAG". The whole understanding of where sexual identity and gender come from changed during that time.

I think it's really tricky to balance "our understanding of [THING] changes because the world changes and we need a new understanding of [THING] so that's good" and "identities have specific political histories which really shape people's lives". I think those two ideas are in tension in a lot of conversations about gender and sexual identities, even though they are often in tension from different angles.

I would add that in non-internet relationships, I think warm affect and willingness to listen usually are more important than having the perfect theory or terms.


*this seems trivial, but I am an Old, so I remember when being a punk was a pretty active social choice that was about something in particular. Punkness varied by region and milieu, but it was more than a fashion identity. It wasn't, like, utopian - but it wasn't the same kind of choice as deciding that you would get a particular haircut or start wearing dresses every day [as a cis straight woman].
posted by Frowner at 10:50 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


My eldest stepchild has decided to transition female to male, and we've been concerned about what they're going to be stepping into. The whole 'quisling' characterization couldn't be farther from the truth in this case, too. this thread is educational, and does not make me optimistic about how they'll be treated.

I've hung out in some spaces that had concerns about transmen, but I don't think any of them were concerned about "Quislings", persay. I think the concern was more: women are an oppressed class, it makes perfect sense that someone would not want to be oppressed - but are women joining the oppressor class solely to get away from being the oppressed class? This is sometimes complicated by some transmen giving narratives such as "I always knew I didn't belong as a girl, because I hated pink/liked fighting/liked playing with blocks/hated dolls." (Obviously, this is not all experiences). But those narratives worried some people, who thought that women who displayed those characteristics were and should still be embraced as women, rather than forced by a patriarchal dichotomy to join the patriarchy rather than staying and fighting with their sisters.

Transmen also seem to be more accepted by women in some cases - I've been to a lot of groups where it was "women or FAAB only" but I'm not sure that's always, you know, taken well either.
posted by corb at 10:58 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also note that I'm kind of disappointed by these articles, though. I think mefites on a bad day have much better discussions than this.
posted by corb at 10:58 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there an inherent quality to gender, so that if I want to transition I am transitioning to some foundational state of masculinity? When I say that I "feel like I should be a man", what do I mean that being a man feels like? Where do I get that idea?

This is a great thing to bring up, because before I had met any trans people or done any reading on transness, this was a big stumbling block for me, and I think it is for a lot of people. If I'm a feminist, aren't I meant to be denying that there is any inherent difference between men and women?

But if you spend a little time talking or reading about trans experiences, it becomes clear that those experiences are genuine and valid. I had to accept that it must be more complicated than I had assumed, and that no theory of what it "means" to be a man or a woman can really be complete without considering the fact that transness exists, just like no theory of sexual attraction can be complete without acknowledging LGB people. I still don't have firm answers to the questions Frowner asked above, but I've accepted the fact that I don't.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:03 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I thought the quality of the NYT written debates were absolute garbage in terms of sophistication of thought and nuanced understandings of the actual problems faced by trans people being truly accepted in to the LGB fold.

I feel that illustrates how far we have to go, I mean, if we can't even have a high quality discussion of these issues in the New York Times, we obviously have an opportunity for improvement here.

And oh god the comment section. don't even tread in there.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:14 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


women are an oppressed class, it makes perfect sense that someone would not want to be oppressed - but are women joining the oppressor class solely to get away from being the oppressed class? and the "women and FAAB only" thing, that's all so - well, transphobic. or at best it's ignorance and failure to understand trans-ness. i didn't choose to join the oppressor class. i didn't choose jack shit. i was born with a body that made everyone recognize me as female, but i'm a guy. i was oppressed the way women are while i was seen by society and myself to be female but at no point was i like "i've been sexually harrassed, this would never happen if i became a man, i will now change my personal beliefs about myself and subject myself to further harrassment for being a queer little freak who confuses people about gender, that's a great plan". trans women are women! trans men are men! the "women and FAAB" stuff kind of underscores a belief that trans people aren't REALLY the gender we say we are, we're a special TRANS VERSION which isn't the same. trans men aren't real men, they're just women pretending to be men, and trans women aren't real women, they're men pretending to be women, and that's why it's okay for trans men to be at woman-only things (because they're really women) and it's not okay for trans women to be at woman-only things (because they're really men). that's such bullshit and no i don't, y'know, take it well
posted by titus n. owl at 11:17 AM on October 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is a great thing to bring up, because before I had met any trans people or done any reading on transness, this was a big stumbling block for me, and I think it is for a lot of people. If I'm a feminist, aren't I meant to be denying that there is any inherent difference between men and women?

My personal headcanon answer to this question (meaning "not one that I Insist Is The Answer") is that the social is real. In 2400 (assuming that it's future science fiction utopia instead of feral-packs-of-libertarians-in-a-global-warming-wasteland) people will be socialized into such different gender roles that transness (if it exists as such) will look totally different. If you dropped me into 2400, I might not seem like a trans person at all.

But I think the change in the social construction of gender is really gradual and multifaceted - I don't think it's achieved in, like, two years by telling people that their experience of gender and desire to transition are betrayals of the revolution. I grew up in the eighties in the US; I live now. What I personally need in order to feel good about my gender is different from someone socialized differently or from a different time, and that's okay. I should still get what I need without a lot of transphobic bother.

For me, "you can only claim an identity if we can Prove that your identity is an Eternal Verity that existed on the veldt and will exist when the sun finally goes cold" is a real intellectual misstep - and yet, whenever bodies and sex come into the picture, that's where a lot of people immediately go.
posted by Frowner at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Lodurr: My cousin transitioned FTM, and he's happier than I've ever seen him. Doing well, no problems, life together and moving forward. The difference between him now and him in girl-mode is night and day.

(and for the record, I still misgender him in my mind, to give you a idea of how pervasive and sticky external gender assignment can be on the synaptic paths)
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:25 AM on October 18, 2013


"See, everyone I know who is "queer as in has non-heterosexual relationships at least some of the time" is pretty uncomfortable when people who have only heterosexual relationships describe themselves as "queer" because they practice BDSM, etc. "

And I had never really thought about "queer" including non-dominant heterosexual identities until I got lectured on it in the office by folks who are not heterosexual by any stretch of the imagination. A part of that is that apparently, there's a significant overlap within the leather scenes. I hadn't thought of BDSM or poly as part of "queer," which I mostly knew from identity politics and punk rock, until then, and it's still not how I tend to use the term, but like I said, I don't feel comfortable policing how other people self-identify.

"The term they've used (jebus it's hard writing the pronouns this way, but it's what they wants) for several years is 'gender-queer', though their behavior has AFAIK been as a pure lesbian. Not even vaguely interested in men, ever, since she was a small she. And feels a fair amount of guilt around the idea of full transformation. "

We've got a couple genderqueer folks here in the office, and they tend to go by the singular they. It takes a little getting used to, and I still fuck up sometimes, but it gets to be habit pretty quickly, and since habits are lived ethics, it's not a hard one to hold to.

"I don't think it's orthogonal at all - I think that one reason that the language "we" use about gender and sexuality is such a complicated question right now is because there's such a huge range of thinking about the source of gender and sexual identity."

I can understand it as interesting as a philosophical question, but since most of the work that I do starts with the assumption that whether choice or genetics (or even nurture/environment), it's a legitimate identity — and that the behaviors have existed prior to our current constructed identities. So why someone chooses to identify as transgender doesn't really affect the function of the legal protections they deserve. And likewise, I think that focusing too much on that question of origin both reinforces heteronormativity and ends up being counterproductive for advocating for people who identify off of the primary binaries, e.g. bisexual people and genderqueer people.

I dunno, maybe this is because I've slowly retreated from my previous hard liberal beliefs in the necessity of free will, and into a more soft/agnostic determinism position, where "choice" itself is somewhat undermined.

And, again, I think that the legal and philosophical history of liberalism, as referenced in my prior comment, mean that moving from a framework of religious freedom to toleration sidesteps a lot of uncomfortable contradictions that are inherent in both choice and determined models.
posted by klangklangston at 11:27 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"klangklangston, if you could pick up The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, it has some bits about this kind of stuff - why it is actually advantageous to one cause to not ally with others in some cases - when organizations are competing for the same limited funding, usually by the same granting organizations, it behooves them to stick to their message in particular when conservative or more "focused" granting organizations or major donors may deny funding for what is seen as "mission creep.""

See also: this buzzfeed story on a scrum for who gets to be the ones to win marriage in Virginia.
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can understand it as interesting as a philosophical question, but since most of the work that I do starts with the assumption that whether choice or genetics (or even nurture/environment), it's a legitimate identity — and that the behaviors have existed prior to our current constructed identities.

See, maybe it's the type of work we do, but I find myself again and again needing to sort out what people are asserting about identity so that I can understand the goals of the various projects going on. On a simple level, I would want to know that a particular trans organizing project was run by people who believed strongly that there is an inherent masculinity and an inherent femininity, because those beliefs are likely to inform the advice they give about transitioning, passing, relationships, etc. Past a certain point, I might choose not to work with those people. Or I would want to know - if I were good friends with person who strongly identified as poly but also described themselves as straight - whether that person felt that their poly identity was a queer identity because it would contour how they would act in queer spaces.

I do believe that folks have a lot of received ideas about where gender and sexuality come from, and those received ideas contour how they act and speak. Just as it's worthwhile to unpack your received ideas about self-worth, work, place in the family, etc, that you picked up in childhood - and just as those ideas tend to underlie your adult actions and thoughts - I think it's worthwhile to think through your underlying or received beliefs about where gender and sexuality come from.

I think you're putting a lot of emphasis on the idea that "choice" itself is a moral value. I don't really care, morally speaking, whether sexuality or gender are most accurately described as "totally hardwired" or "socially conditioned choice". Things are what they are. But I think that what people believe on this subject contours their political actions.

I think, in a way, that this is what Matilda Bernstein Sycamore is getting at - that there is no way to be "gay positive"/an ally/etc without bringing in some philosophy and politics, precisely because there's no such thing as the "universal gay person".

I think that a lot of times, people outside movements (which I understand that you are not) look at, say, feminism and are all "but why are those people tearing each other apart? They are all feminists, they all want the same thing!!!!" And that this is precisely because people outside a given movement do not understand that there are meaningful differences within the movement that are rooted in really different understandings of gender, sexuality, "equality", etc. We don't all "want the same thing" - one woman thinks that Margaret Thatcher was the sixth Spice Girl; another thinks that the nation-state is a major prop of patriarchy. Both are "feminists" but deeply unlikely to collaborate effectively.
posted by Frowner at 11:46 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just deleted a massive comment. It can all be summed up to:

I'd like to go ahead and be kept in the group if that's okay with everyone else.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:41 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Family of Colorado trans kid targeted by harassment hoax speaks up
posted by yeoz at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2013


Family of Colorado trans kid targeted by harassment hoax speaks up

Fucking hell. How is the Pacific Justice Institute not out of business due to defamation suits let alone running an appallingly successful transphobia campaign?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2013


I think that one reason is that it is really, really important not to go down the path of allowing people who complain about harassment to be sued when a legal entity finds that harassment has not occurred. Mind-bogglingly important.

I understand that in this situation, it seems just - but imagine another situation, which would legally be exactly the same - women or girls complaining about sexual harassment, an unsympathetic authority figure dismissing it, and then the organization that tried to support the women charged. (For example, this would apply to the current situation in Maryville - imagine if every news outlet spreading the rape report were liable to lawsuit because authorities dismissed the case as unfounded)

I think that's one reason I sometimes get uncomfortable with the framing of these cases - a kind of "Obviously this couldn't be harassment." Not because I necessarily think that people are right and that something is harassment, but because I think the perception of harassment is always in the mind and experiences of the one who sees it. We might make a legal decision that for various reasons, that perception of harassment is not actionable, or not something we choose to act on, but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of saying that people who say they were harassed weren't harassed. (The particular piece that bothered me was the bit about commenting on women's figures and what they were wearing. That's something that could easily go either way, and very much be in the perception of the person receiving the words. Sometimes it's normal, sometimes it is shitty and harassing, regardless of the gender of the person saying those things.)
posted by corb at 9:39 AM on October 21, 2013


"I think that one reason is that it is really, really important not to go down the path of allowing people who complain about harassment to be sued when a legal entity finds that harassment has not occurred. Mind-bogglingly important."

Well, no, false harassment complaints can be libel or slander.

I think that's one reason I sometimes get uncomfortable with the framing of these cases - a kind of "Obviously this couldn't be harassment." Not because I necessarily think that people are right and that something is harassment, but because I think the perception of harassment is always in the mind and experiences of the one who sees it.

Harassment has a legal definition, and putting it all into the subjective means that you actually make charges of harassment weaker.

We might make a legal decision that for various reasons, that perception of harassment is not actionable, or not something we choose to act on, but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of saying that people who say they were harassed weren't harassed.

I understand that discomfort, however, the PJI claimed that the mere existence of this girl is "inherently harassing." I'm entirely comfortable saying that's bullshit, and that the PJI is making false harassment claims.
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Apart from what klangklangston has already said, this went far beyond anything subjective. From the article:
After the results of the investigation proved PJI’s claims to be false, PJI changed their story. Instead of claiming that Jane was doing something to harass people, they asserted that Jane’s existence constituted harassment. The statement asserted that the mere presence of a transgender person is both “harassing” and “intimidating” to non-transgender (cisgender) people.
And then there's this bit linked from that article, where they straight-up lie through their teeth.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:52 AM on October 21, 2013


Harassment has a legal definition, and putting it all into the subjective means that you actually make charges of harassment weaker.

To explain where I'm coming from here, my several years in the military got me very, very used to "Well if he didn't X her, then it's fine" or "If he didn't mean to say Y, then no problem" type responses from superiors about sexual harassment, because they did have that kind of black-and-white definition.

I'm not even saying PJI wouldn't deserve some kind of spanking, I'm just saying that I can't imagine how you could craft the law such that PJI gets spanked, but people trying to defend the former type of people don't.
posted by corb at 10:02 AM on October 21, 2013


corb, as far as I've read, nobody who has been in the bathroom with her has complained of harassment. I don't understand how this is "legally the same" as your completely different situation at all. The only girl being silenced and harassed here is the trans girl, and that bit is clear as day. Besides, the only source for the line about "commenting on outfits and figures" (even if you want to read it in the worst way possible and consider all noises coming out of trans people's mouths to be creepy, which seems like a huge mistake) comes from PJI, anyway, who have already been caught lying about this case. Your concern for cis girls is duly noted - it would be nice to see some for the actual victim, though.
posted by Corinth at 12:08 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Regarding defamation...

Well, no, false harassment complaints can be libel or slander.

If by "complaint" you mean the actual pleading called the complaint, then this is not true. At common law, defamatory statements made by a party in the course of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged. Generally speaking, defamation suits regarding those statements will not be actionable.

Of course, a press release is another matter. It will not have that absolute immunity.

However, even within the press release, if PJI is seriously arguing that the mere presence of this trans person is what constituted the harassment, then that veers closer to just being a bad legal argument, underpinned their by their own hateful and bizarre opinions. While that's foul and gross, that's probably not going to be actionable for a defamation suit. The same goes for the manipulative, mealy-mouthed assertion that the trans girl had commented on girls' outfits. On a surface level, this is probably true, in a mostly meaningless way. It is very likely that this girl has, indeed, at some point in her life, talked about somebody's outfit, just as it's also possible that somebody felt that this constituted harassment. It's foul and gross that this statement was made to create the impression that this girl had actually done anything wrong, but it's hard to say that it's actually libel.

Contrast those kinds of statements with something more clearly libelous, like "this person said $SPECIFIC_GROSS_THING to a student in the bathroom."

PJI, who are nasty but probably not actually stupid, has not to my knowledge been so specific in public.

If I've missed a more specific accusation they've made, then I of course apologize.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:18 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except of course, in the real world where this individual has been accused of harassment, she truly is a girl, so it's a case of a girl commenting on another girls' outfit. The reality is that the perceptions of the others are broken, and there is no basis whatsoever in the accusation at all, because the end result is that no girl will ever be able to comment on another girl's outfit without fear of a harassment charge.

She's a girl okay? She's a girl. That kind of shifts the argument a little.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:21 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I said at the head of my comment, I was specifically talking about defamation suits. I wouldn't have bothered to get into it, except that there were multiple comments mistakenly claiming that a harassment suit could be actionable as defamation.

The harassment claim itself is certainly not actionable as defamation, as defamatory statements made in the course of judicial proceedings have absolute immunity so long as they are relevant to the case at hand. Press releases of course do not have this immunity, but the press releases in this case have been carefully worded so as to avoid a defamation suit.

Nobody in this thread denies that PJI's accusations are awful and hateful and cause harm. It is of course sad that the girl is going through this, but at least the school is backing her up, at least PJI's suit dies on the vine, and at least PJI earns a backlash as the suit so dies.

However, just because something is awful, it doesn't mean that it is an actionable tort.

Again, I am specifically talking about defamation suits arising from this harassment suit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank you all for your guidance. I had not heard the term GSM, that seems to cover much and sound less contrived.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:21 AM on October 22, 2013


Sigh, sigh, sigh. So a few days ago I asked two of my roommates not to say "tranny" and they indulged me in that, and then last night my other roommate said it and both of the others turned to me with this amused little look, like "oh, you still have a problem with this right?" Oh, and this was during a conversation about how one of the roommates had gone into the other's OKCupid account and sent a message to a trans woman as a prank on the roommate. Hilarious. These people are all gay and/or liberal and/or vegans, too.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:22 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


sigh
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:53 AM on October 22, 2013


"If by "complaint" you mean the actual pleading called the complaint, then this is not true. "

No, I meant it in the broader sense of allegation in the press.

"However, even within the press release, if PJI is seriously arguing that the mere presence of this trans person is what constituted the harassment, then that veers closer to just being a bad legal argument, underpinned their by their own hateful and bizarre opinions."

That's backtracking on their part — they first put out a release saying that there had been complaints to the school about this girl harassing other girls, which there hadn't been, and then when people pointed out that they were just making shit up, they retreated to the idea of the girl being "inherently harassing" due to her presence.

PJI has not filed a formal harassment claim; rather they've sent what they term variously as a "legal demand letter," "legal allegation letter," "legal request letter" and a couple other terms that seem to be cargo cult legalisms, and then issued a press release.
posted by klangklangston at 11:07 AM on October 22, 2013


"Sigh, sigh, sigh. So a few days ago I asked two of my roommates not to say "tranny" and they indulged me in that, and then last night my other roommate said it and both of the others turned to me with this amused little look, like "oh, you still have a problem with this right?" Oh, and this was during a conversation about how one of the roommates had gone into the other's OKCupid account and sent a message to a trans woman as a prank on the roommate. Hilarious. These people are all gay and/or liberal and/or vegans, too."

Ground it in their experience as much as possible — if they're gay, talk about anti-gay bullying and how by treating this lightly, they're reinforcing the idea that violence against trans people AND GAY PEOPLE is no big deal.

Like, there are ways to joke about "tranny," but they take an incredibly deft touch, and this is one of those kick down things.

As for vegans, well, everyone hates vegans for good reason.

(Obviously, how you talk to these folks will depend on your relationship with them. Like, with good friends, I can be pretty light about how I talk about this stuff and still get people to realize, no, that's fucked up. Like joking about rape or whatever. With folks who aren't inclined to get that on their own, I don't feel particularly bad about just being mean — at a certain point, I don't care how they feel about it, I just want them to shut up around me and if that means being fairly ruthless about mocking whatever they're sensitive about, that's OK. And it's pretty effective, since generally people looking to mock transgender folks are doing so because they're insecure about something else, and just calling that out, "Oh, what, you jealous because she gets more men than you? Oh what, you jealous because you can't even be a decent man?" gets people to shut the fuck up.

But then, I can be kinda a dick, so I hesitate to recommend that.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like, there are ways to joke about "tranny," but they take an incredibly deft touch, and this is one of those kick down things.

Sticks, knobs, paddles, limited slip, grinding, heel/toe, going from 1st to 3rd...the possibilities are endless!
posted by zombieflanders at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a person who skates, I've come to realize the colloquial name for the half-pipe transitions are "trannies" as in "The trannies on this mini-ramp are really smooth".

I'm torn with myself, having used that term a million times and never even linking it up.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:11 PM on October 22, 2013


I use 'tranny' all the time, to refer to transmissions (in cars, for example) and transformers (in amplifiers, for example). I do not use it to refer to trans people (except myself in a sarcastic way, rarely). Context really matters.
posted by Dysk at 1:40 AM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


because the end result is that no girl will ever be able to comment on another girl's outfit without fear of a harassment charge.

I know that you're rightfully concerned about anti-trans harassment and legal action against trans girls - and that's definitely a rough and worrying place to be coming from, one of concern. But at the same time, I think it's important not to fall into the trap of being dismissive or of using language of people that are not-awesome, in your defense of that girl.

"What, so no guy can comment on what a girl is wearing without fear of a harassment charge?" is a really common thing that is said, by men, to defend themselves against charges that they have engaged in sexual or other harassment at work. I know this, partially because one of my additional duties while I was in the military was handling sexual assault and sexual harassment cases. The tone was always "I'm just doing this totally innocent thing, she's the one 'getting her panties in a bunch'." And it was never okay. We had to continually push back, and the way that we were able to push back was by saying that it doesn't matter what the intention was, what matters is the perception by the viewer.

It was more common with men - I saw more male-on-female cases, by at least a factor of 10, than any other - but we did, actually, get harassment cases that were female-on-female. Some of them involved clothing - some slut-shaming, from what I recall, and a very, very few that were sexually intentioned harassment.

So what I'm saying here is - there is no evidence that this particular girl, who happens to be trans, harassed or did not harass. It is certainly less likely given that there seem to be no individual complainants. She is certainly not more likely to intentionally harass because of her trans status. But this doesn't mean that because she is a trans girl, she can't harass, because every girl is able to harass other girls, be they cis or trans. Every person is able to harass every other person. There is no combination of gender that make someone unable to harass another person.

I use 'tranny' all the time, to refer to transmissions (in cars, for example) and transformers (in amplifiers, for example). I do not use it to refer to trans people (except myself in a sarcastic way, rarely)

I've used 'tranny' to mean a transmission, and also 'tranny' in the context of derisively referring to men who only want to fetishize and have sex with but not date transwomen as 'trannychasers'. It's, afaik, not referring to the women as such, but referring to the male perception of said women. If either are considered bad, I will be happy to stop.
posted by corb at 11:55 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is no evidence that this particular girl, who happens to be trans, harassed or did not harass

Thing is, we tend to assume innocence until guilt is proven. Also, how the hell do you prove a negative like that? It's not like you can just dig up an example (like you easily could if you wanted to prove the contrary).

It is certainly less likely given that there seem to be no individual complainants.

So this, in combination with the whole perception mattering more than intent thing, surely that means she is not guilty of any harassment? Nobody has mentioned feeling personally harassed, so no harassment has occurred, no?
posted by Dysk at 12:45 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what I'm saying here is - there is no evidence that corb, who happens to be cis, harassed or did not harass. It is certainly less likely given that there seem to be no individual complainants. She is certainly not more likely to intentionally harass because of her cis status [ed: this statement obviously doesn't work in this re-purposing]. But this doesn't mean that because she is a cis girl, she can't harass, because every girl is able to harass other girls, be they cis or trans. Every person is able to harass every other person. There is no combination of gender that makes someone unable to harass another person.


I find it really disgusting, if not unsurprising, that the most generous thing you've managed to say about this poor girl is that "it is certainly less likely [that she harassed people] given that there seem to be no individual complainants."

Also, yeah. Stop using that word, please. I can't imagine the weird gymnastics in your head that make that one okay but not the other one, but please stop.
posted by Corinth at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2013


What happens when PJI is confronted by parents?
posted by yeoz at 5:04 AM on October 25, 2013


Yeah, Corb, presenting a slippery slope argument was unneeded to make my point, that's absolutely a fair thing to bring up and something I will try to keep an eye on when pondering this stuff.

That being said it sure would be nice if her being transgender were secondary to the discussion of harassment.

The good news here is that the school is totally cool and accepting of this girl and there's no controversy at all outside the attempt by PJI to manufacture outrage.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:11 AM on October 26, 2013


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