Tomboys and sissies: where we’re going wrong

The Age has published two articles from opposing viewpoints on transgenderism, in the lead-up to a Sydney event on March 3, IQ2 DEBATE: GENDER IDENTITY. The pro-trans article by Peter Hyndal is here. The gender-critical article by Associate Professor Bronwyn Winter at the University of Sydney is here.

What follows is an excerpt of this article.


I dream of a genderless society where we can escape from the male-female gender divide

I would like to live in a world where ‘male’ and ‘female’ cease to be categories of social distinction, to the considerable advantage of those labelled ‘male’ and the considerable disadvantage of those labelled ‘female’.

I would like ‘gender’ to disappear as a mark of social categorisation and prescribed behaviours, even if ‘sex’ – the number of ‘Xes’ in our  chromosomes – inevitably remains one mark of biological diversity, and differing needs, among us.

But we do not live in such a world, and gender continues to separate humanity into two classes. As such, it is a deeply political question. It shapes our collective social experience as sexed beings from the day we are born, and we cannot disappear that experience and acquire another, simply through an act of will. Biology is not everything, but it is not nothing either – as any intersex person surely knows, and as all women know.

Throughout history, any specificity of women’s embodiment or needs has been ideologically constructed as justification for considering us weak, incompetent and unclean. We know, deeply, viscerally, that embodiment is a political issue.

There are many things that Peter Hyndal,  director of Transformative Solutions, and I agree about. We agree that no human being should be treated with disrespect and that it is unhelpful to express our disagreements through such personalising tactics as pejorative labelling, harassment and bullying, and attempts to shut down events organised by others.

Unfortunately, I am aware of several instances of bullying, by some (mainly male-to-female) transgender people of some feminists and lesbians who disagree with male-to-female transgender claims that they are women just like us and therefore should have unrestricted access to women-only events and spaces.

I certainly know that not every member of the transgender community engages in such bullying, but those who do engage in it are vocal enough, and powerful enough, to do serious damage to women. Some women are now either too angry or too intimidated to even attend the upcoming IQ2 Debate hosted by The Ethics Centre   in Sydney on  Thursday March 3, where the proposition ‘Society Must Recognise Trans People’s Gender Identities’ will be debated.


Rest of article

The Worst Kind of Betrayal: What John Stoltenberg Did To Andrea Dworkin

Nikki Craft wrote:

John, don’t forget it was me Andrea was on her cell phone with as she walked the streets of Brooklyn one night frantic with no where to go, trying to figure out how to leave you. I don’t know if the smell of the towers was really there or if she could not get the memory of the smell from her nose, either way it was nightmarish for her and me. If she had other options, she would have left you then and I think you know that.

Yes, you are the one person who was responsible for supporting Andrea so that she could do her writing for all those years. Bless you. I believe for that you deserve quite a bit of acknowledgement, but not for what you are doing now.

At the same time, I don’t know if you would agree, but it’s the case that Andrea realized what a liability you could be to her and how poor your judgment could be; she told me specifically that your positions could be an embarrassment to her.

That night on the phone I was trying to comfort Andrea. She seemed to be close to a breakdown. You did not believe she was raped and you were treating her with coldness and distrust at home. She had no options. I did not know what to do. I didn’t have that many options myself. In fact, several times, I have been in a similar situation to what Andrea was facing. I did not know what I should say. I listened for a long time. I think she went to a coffee shop during the conversation. I just wanted to comfort her and for her to be safe to do what I knew she needed to do and that was to write.

That night I said to Andrea that she could always go back home where she had some security and then take time to figure out what to do when she was less traumatized. She went back home immediately after our conversation. I know things were much better for both you and Andrea after your move to Washington D.C. and that your relationship improved. You did that for Andrea and no one can take that away. Andrea had the security she needed. Even so, I now wish I could have said something else. I wish she had had more options. I now think anything I could have said would have been better than what I did say. I’m crying as I write this, that Andrea never knew what a high price she would pay for not leaving you.

Because there was never any cause to do otherwise, I have not discussed any of this since Andrea’s death except with my very closest friends in strict confidence. After almost 11 years of silence I fully believed I was going to take this to my grave. But your arrogant and willful refusal to be accountable, as you continue to just ignore any radical feminist’s views that critique what you’ve been doing in these last months, led me to know this with certainty: the only way to validate the truth of Andrea’s actual views on the subject, which she explicitly told me, is to publicly share them while I’m still alive. With your persistent denial, you left me no choice but to offer my evidence that you are misrepresenting her views and presenting biased memories to promote your own work and further inflate your own ego.

You use Andrea’s earliest work and your selective memory to justify all of this as “radical feminist” activism, John. In breaking my silence it can be known she did not support your views on this–the ones you falsely claim as hers and yours together. So maybe it’s time to take your projections out of your project. It’s your word against Andrea’s now.

You claim to have been troubled about the transphobic direction some women have taken. If you had problems with those women why didn’t you bring your objections to them first? Instead, you systematically disseminated promotions of your new work using many women’s web pages. Only then did radical feminists find out you spent almost a year working closely with someone who has demonstrated a political commitment to going after several women for years. This was done using anti-feminist websites, doxxing, slurs, malicious manipulations and mind fucking misogynistic obfuscations. Only then did we all learn of your new allegiance to a group of activists, many who are pro-pornography and pro-prostitution, who do not make naming and confronting male supremacy–and men–a priority. Radical Feminists are their only target. What do you think Andrea would have to say about that, John?

How oblivious can you be to the predictable consequences of your own actions? Did you learn nothing about your own male privilege while with Andrea for 31 years?

What is all the more awful is that you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. Worse, you believe you are rescuing and preserving the integrity of Andrea’s radical feminism. And due to your entitlements and privilege, you will not be accountable to the very feminists who knew and loved Andrea. Shame on you, John. You have become the antithesis of a pro-feminist. You went off half-cocked into this project without considering the effects on the justice and liberation movement your life partner gave her life to.

Ironically, you once wrote: “So here we are: men, inside a male-supremacist system, inside a male-supremacist sex class, inside it as men. What do we do about it? And why is it so difficult and so unthinkable to live as a traitor to that sex class?”

So what does that make you? The answer is a traitor. To women.

This is, without doubt, the biggest betrayal of a feminist and of feminism I have seen in my lifetime by a man who proclaims to be on the side of women. I can never forgive you for it.

Please share this note widely on twitter and facebook and also see: The Turf War Zone @ for related information.

“Don’t Feed the Trolls” Is Bad Science

Stephanie Zvan writes at Almost Diamonds:

You’ve seen it. You see it when you point out antisocial behavior, more often when that antisocial behavior involves racism or sexism or something else people are uncomfortable talking about:

“Don’t feed the trolls. Attention is what they want. Ignore them and they’ll go away.”

It’s nearly as strong a silencing tactic as “Oh, they’re just anonymous adolescent boys [which they’re frequently not] so you can’t expect any different.” It is also just as wrong, something that started to come into the general consciousness of the internet with the #mencallmethings campaign last year. “Ignoring” the trolls, dealing with them on your own without social support, doesn’t make them stop. It makes you stop.

It’s not surprising the advice about trolls is wrong if you look at where it came from. The idea is based in the principles of operant conditioning: reward and punishment having an effect on the frequency of behavior, rats pressing levers for sugar, pigeons pecking at buttons for food, etc. The advice itself is essentially what was once given to parents of small children who act out. Don’t give them the attention, and they’ll find better ways to get it.

Do something you know is calming for yourself. Many experts advise you to ignore your child. You child’s behavior is to obtain a response from you. The calmer you are, the easier to thwart them.

bethany king tantrum.JPG

The problems with applying that to trolls are at least three-fold. The first two problems come from the fact that we are not trolls’ parents, and these trolls are not small children.

This means we don’t have control over their environments. These trolls have buddies egging them on. If they’re on a Twitter hashtag, they see other people doing the same thing (reward). If they’re on a forum, they’ve driven away everyone who isn’t going to tell them how hilarious their ability to swear at someone is (reward). If they’re on 4chan or some sub-Reddits or other sites that self-selects for proud anarchy, well… (reward).

Nor is this limited to the internet. People aren’t stupid. They notice when someone is an “acceptable” target of vitriol in the real world.

Article continues

That Magic Moment

Important notes by Miriam Afloat on the total lack of support by the medical profession for individuals who want to detransition, including going off hormones, and how this is partly due to aggression from transactivism.

MA also muses on the ‘cis/trans’ binary and how this is implicated in this lack of support.

miriam afloat

Detransition and medical theodicy.

A brief discussion of why the hatred directed towards detransitioners relates to the lack of resources for us, and why WPATH doesn’t seem to give a shit.

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Which problem won’t transactivism name?

Well, look at this capture of the Planet Transgender homepage yesterday. (Caution: stark content.) The featured story and right-hand column are especially enlightening:

male violence against trans 2016-02-27 04-50-43.png

What do we see when looking closer at these terrible news items?

That the problem is male violence. Not that bigoted women recognise ‘transwomen’ as male. (Or that anyone does.) Women aware of reality aren’t spurred by this into violence towards trans people.

But we won’t hear that from the leading trans activists (mostly male), because A) they are invested in targetting noncompliant women and B) that truth would make it harder for them to get into women’s spaces.

Let’s take a closer look at that right-hand column:

closeup male violence against trans 2016-02-27 04-50-43.png

Notice how only the last headline names the agent. Yet this was all male violence.

Transactivism seems mostly to raise male violence as a ploy to get some males into female-only spaces, rather than to work on eradicating it. Even then, the dominant trend is not to name it as “male-pattern violence”, but instead to reduce it to “transphobic violence”, “cis supremacy” or something similarly camouflaging.

Genuinely liberatory activism is invested in naming the agent. That doesn’t mean we can take our eye off the entire social system or have a mono-focus, but the direct agent of violence is never unimportant if the direct victims of it are important.



How to lose a battle

TERFs up!

There is a sure fire way for the powerless to lose a political battle.

That’s to do things the right way. I’m talking about the respectable, by the book, way where you define what you think are realistic goals, and then work through the proper channels to appeal to those in power to make the changes you want to achieve.

Sure, with years of effort you might win. And as you are winning your constituency will disintegrate. You will lose your money and your people. Eventually your respectable organizations will be destroyed from the inside. If you are unlucky enough, you will find that the laws you intended to free you are now turned against you..

This is what the alphabet-soup movement did for gay and lesbian rights (mostly gay and trans, but we got to tag along to make coffee and take the  blame). They wanted more medical research…

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New Statesman: Paid surrogacy makes disadvantaged women into walking wombs

Trans activism pushes us to refer to women as “uterused people”, while the world treats women like uteruses to appropriate.

And we’re supposed to pretend that males who coerce us into referring to them as female are ever expected to play this role in life.


Last week, a national newspaper ran a piece on the shortage of people in the UK willing or able to sell a kidney.

“It’s terrible,” said one interviewee, a stockbroker forced to buy his kidney from an organ farm in Mumbai. “UK regulations need to change so we can have this service closer to home.”

Another customer agreed.

“It’s very distressing to know that if someone over here sells you their kidney, they can change their mind. The ownership documents aren’t worth the paper they’re written on as long as your kidney’s still busy filtering waste products in the body that grew it.”

Read the full post at the New Statesman

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Nikki Craft: Stoltenberg is wrong about Andrea Dworkin

For background see this piece which Nikki Craft wrote a month ago about John Stoltenberg’s treatment of Andrea Dworkin’s legacy.

Thanks to Terre Spencer for these caps.


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