Sunday, August 18, 2013

Transphobia is fun

Cruising Twitter for the latest on the topic of social justice, you will find several very active users.

Thousands of tweets. Several every hour, throughout the day.

Some of these people happen to be trans* individuals trying to shout down the deluge of TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) rhetoric.

Which is fantastic - TERFs are an especially silly breed of madfem, the type that believes that if you are born with a penis you are forever a soldier of the patriarchy (and possibly an abuser in a dress). According to TERFs, transgendered individuals don't really have a place in feminism.

Often the trans* Twitter users go to decidedly unique places in their activism. This can to a certain extent be expected as they are faced with challenges all their own.

It's quite thought-provoking. For example, trans* have a unique bullshit detector when it comes to expectations placed on each gender by society at large.

Sometimes, however, trans* voices come up with some rather hard-sell issues.

Nobody can be called "woman"

English can be a terribly imprecise language - writing a sentence that conveys a meaning or sentiment accurately can be difficult.

Speaking of trans* issues for more than a few minutes leaves one with the need to be more specific about non-trans* individuals. "Born women" or "women born women" mixes gender expression with sexual organs and seems to put the term "woman" solely under the ownership of non-trans* individuals.

To remedy this issue to some degree, the prefix "cis" is used. Then we have two buckets - "cis" and "trans" to put people in before we speak about gender being non-binary. (Is there a little bit of irony here?)

This, of course, makes the TERFs lose their minds. Many TERFs see themselves as "women" without any additional qualifiers introduced by minority groups that want to steal their thunder.

Then there is a more reasonable set of individuals that tire quickly of the "cis" prefix.

Some trans* people seem confused:

It's absolutely true - 'cis' needs to exist.

Yet the following is also true:
  1. Any 'cis' person should be able to object to 'cis' label just as any 'trans' individual should be able to object to 'trans' label.
  2. Any frequent user of the 'cis' prefix is usually spends an inordinate amount of time making generalizations that bash 'cis' ignorance, privilege or stupidity.
As an example of the latter numbered element is the "#fuckcispeople" hashtag that recently had its day in the trans* activism sun.

The general message was that "cispeople" are basically a bunch of ignorant abusive nincompoops that can "get fucked" so to speak.

If you are 'cis', and you voice your objection, you are essentially doing something akin to mansplaining - except in this case one supposes you are "cis-splaining" and silencing trans* voices.

So there you have it.

Nobody gets to be a "woman" anymore, and if you dare dismiss these terms and its users you are just another 'cis' lizard person that can get 'fucked'.

Really, you shouldn't be insulted:

The people that are insulted are somehow evil:

Some truths are spoken:

Misgendering and pronouns

As we've established in the discussion of 'cis', language is important.

If you truly respect someone, you're going to speak to them in such a way that coincides with their desires. (...usually!)

You don't drop f-bombs if they don't enjoy profanity. You don't speak to them in a condescending tone. You don't describe their appearance in negative terms.

And you definitely do not mix up their gender.

Trans* individuals regularly report being misgendered by the ignorant and the malicious. By strangers and by those familiar.

Why don't 'cis' people think this is a bigger deal?

One theory is that the people most often misgendered are 'cis' people themselves.

It would seem that a great number of people that spent some amount of time being called tomboys really would not find the time to stand in solidarity with now that pronouns are a big deal.

Imagine being born one of those heterosexual 'cis' person that regularly gets to hear the wrong pronoun. They look like a boy. They throw like a girl.

It's shitty treatment, and our enlightened selves would rightfully call this bullying.

Some destruction of the "whatever-normative culture" that puts trans* people through hell would go far to help everybody.

However that revolution does not seem to be ready to happen, since the framing of the problem [on Twitter] remains:

  1. Misgendering trans* people is the worst thing ever
  2. Those 'cis' people, how could they?

It is concerning that an event of misgendering always puts trans and cis at loggerheads, when it's entirely possible that a trans* person will incorrect assume gender.

For example, fill in the pronoun:

"Bradley Manning is set to go to prison. Some people think __ is a hero."

The vast majority of people are going to fill in "he".

Yet the ever-connected may realize that Zinnia Jones (of FreeThoughtBlogs and YouTube semi-fame) has basically outed Bradley as trans.

In fact Zinnia Jones (Lauren McNamara) was quite pleased with her involvement in the trial and went as far as to post about it on reddit.

It garnered this comment:
"This is the first AMA that I have seen, where everybody is asking NOT to hear the answers."
For those unfamiliar with reddit - it's a site for rich white misogynist males. We know this because that "feminists" have a lively forum that aims to document exactly this fact. This forum in particular (SRS) is hosted on reddit...

Back to the point at hand.

Trans* people, between hearing about Bradley Manning and hearing about these facts about his her case, would have misgendered him her just as any evil 'cisperson' would.

Isn't that odd? Do they feel bad about it?

Something about Shelter

Trans* people talk a lot about "women's shelters".


At first glance, it would seem they are objecting to transwomen being excluded from a shelter for abused women. If it exists as a safe space for women in emergencies, why wouldn't it be open to transwomen?

However, if one looks up Florence House the facts of the matter become more clear.

It's a generic "let's house the homeless" project.

Nobody needs to be assaulted or under threat of assault to have a space in the shelter. One simply needs to be a woman.

Now, someone walks into this shelter identifying as a woman, and another woman thinks "she" is really a "he" and should be expelled.

Obviously this is a transgender rights issue.

Or is it?

It's homelessness. The government and charitable organizations are sending a message - if you're homeless, we're going to care about you more if you identify as a woman.

It would be surprising if at least one toothless bearded man did not find his her true gender identity and a discarded tube top when faced with a choice between steady housing and the sidewalk.

It would be great to see more "trans* rights" cases go to court and the justice system thinks hard about federal funding going to individuals based on gender expression.

A judge would give the case a few seconds thought, and then the ruling would guarantee that the shelter would either have to forfeit funding or accept men. It's kind of how justice and equality works.

That's enough argument (that will surely be described as 'transphobic') for today.

If you want more transphobia, you can read up on why Atheism+ hates the Human Rights Campaign.

Then you may want to read about why you should never write an essay about sexism.


It's what you are, cis scum!


  1. A few things. The article you linked to, about Bradley being a "she", calls them a "he" throughout. So....which is it?

    Also, what's the asterisk after "trans" for?

    1. Good catch. It seems that the article itself misgendered Bradley. That is truly bizarre...

      I use trans* as I saw a few other people doing it, and somewhere along the line I read someone make the distinction between transgender and transsexual or something.

      But at this point I suppose I like using "trans*" for brevity's sake :)

    2. This confused me too. At first I thought that she was saying that Bradley was female-assigned-at-birth who had already transitioned to being a transman, but then the "one sister to another" thing threw me.

    3. "Transgender" is an umbrella term. It basically means "transgressing societal gender norms". Transsexuals (people who transition from one sex to the other) go against the grain of our society's expectations about gender; and so do cross dressers (who tend to be heterosexual men); drag queens (usually gay men, sometimes trans women, but doing it for entertainment purposes); genderqueer people (folks who don't identify as man or woman, but somewhere in between, or perhaps eschew the binary concept of gender altogether); some have argued intersex people qualify as transgender (people born with ambiguous biological sex characteristics, archaically known as 'hermaphrodites'). Some people even think homosexuals are in defiance of prevailing gender norms and qualify, since gender norms can involve expectations about relationships, not just individual gender characteristics.

      In other words, transgender is the set, transsexual etc. are subsets. But a lot of people have been using the word transgender as a generic synonym for transsexual.

      Trans* with the asterisk is a way to specify you are talking about transgender in the wider umbrella sense, as a larger set of communities whose members may be different, but they are all generally dealing with the same social and legal issues involving discrimination based on gender expression.

  2. Just checked that AMA...

    Apparently, she tweeted this after people posted that the AMA could COMPROMISE THE TRIAL:

    > Thank you. I haven't gotten used to expecting this kind of reaction. I should. A woman speaking for herself. Reddit. Trainwreck.

    All of my wat.