Is the ideology of the transgender movement open to debate?

Cross posted from Feminist Current

Is the ideology of the transgender movement open to debate?

The Ontario / Canadian trans flag. “Two stripes with symbol.”

A few weeks after I had published online a critique of the ideology of the trans movement, I was at lunch with a friend who has long been part of various movements for racial, economic, and gender justice and works as a diversity coordinator at a nearby university.

The meeting came on the heels of a local activist bookstore denouncing me in an email to its listserv, which had led to tense conversations with some comrades. At the end of lunch, my friend hesitantly brought up the controversy, and I got ready to hear her critique of my writing. Instead, she leaned forward and said, “I don’t dare say this in public, but I agree with you.”

It was reassuring to know that someone whose work I respected shared my analysis. But it was disheartening to be reminded that a progressive/liberal orthodoxy on trans issues has left many people afraid to speak.

Most people involved in feminist movements know how bitter the trans debate has become, and those of us who identify with radical feminist principles are used to being labeled transphobic TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), sometimes even accused of supporting a climate of violence against trans people. My goal here is not to assign responsibility for the breakdown of dialogue, but to point out one consequence of this state of affairs: Many people are afraid not only to disagree with the trans movement’s policy positions but even to ask questions about the underlying claims.

I have condensed into a question, a challenge, and a concern what I believe are the most important points in the trans debate.


Manhood Has Limits For Transmen Who Prefer Women’s Facilities



Something that’s been lost (and by lost I mean ignored) in the Great Transgender Bathroom Debate of 2016 is the number of women who “identify as male” but balk at subjecting themselves to the risk of sexual assault and violence involved in using male facilities where they are vulnerable as female-bodied-persons disrobing in proximity to actual men. You know, men, those individuals with penises: the kind single-handedly responsible for perpetrating nearly all crimes of rape, sadism, and bloody mayhem in every human society in recorded history since the beginning of time. Those guys.

Passing as male may be swell when it comes to walking home at night, improving your queer dating pool bonafides and saving money on haircuts but when it comes to pulling your pants down around strange men, not so much.

North Carolina’s HB2 which legally regulates single-sex facilities may drive a stake in the fantasy heart of men who…

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My Peak Trans moment keeps on peaking on

things I've read or intend to

My Peak Trans Moment should’ve been some years back after I forced to urinate in front of a 50 year old man in bad wig because he identified as a woman and he was my court appointed drug counselor.

I got busted for possession of marijuana and was given the option of diversion as a first time offender. Diversion means you go through drug treatment and the charge doesn’t go on your record and as I didn’t want a drug conviction on my record, I took the option. Diversion starts by getting assigned a court appointed drug counselor who interviews you and tells you what you have to do to be considered treated. After the interview you have to do  a piss test, urinalysis, which involves urinating in cup in front of your drug counselor so they can make sure it’s your urine that gets tested and your not filling…

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Inspiring: This Progressive Bully Torments Transgender Students Using Their Preferred Pronoun

Cross posted from CLICKHOLE

Transgender teens often have trouble feeling accepted at school, even if they don’t face outright discrimination. That’s why it’s so uplifting to hear about Thomas Watkins, a 16-year-old bully who respects the gender identity of every student he torments. Whether a kid goes by “he,” “she,” or a non-binary pronoun like “they” or “ze,” Thomas calls them by their preferred term and mistreats them just as he would any of his cisgender victims.

Thomas doesn’t care what’s on your birth certificate—only what’s in your heart. If a student identities as male, he’ll call them a wimp-ass momma’s boy while knocking their head against a locker. If they identify as female, he’ll gladly call them a fucking bitch while holding them in a headlock and spitting down the back of their shirt. In a time when we hear about conservative lawmakers banning kids from bathrooms, it’s heartwarming to know that Thomas will ambush his victims and give them a swirly no matter which bathroom they enter. Beautiful!

Someday, the whole world will accept transgender individuals for who they truly are, but in the meantime, we can count on role models like Thomas. Whether he’s forcing teens of all gender identities to eat bugs during recess, smearing dog shit on their bicycle seats, or publicly calling them fat sluts on their Facebook walls, he is a true ally of LGBT rights. Let’s hope that more bullies follow this outstanding young man’s lead!

“I Wanted an Identity So Badly:” A Desister’s Account of Trans Indoctrination

First, Do No Harm: Youth Gender Professionals

This is an important post. This brave and thoughtful young man has been generous enough to document his own process of becoming convinced that he was transgender. He identifies the cult-like thought traps that lead him to believe this, and discusses how difficult it was to work through these beliefs.

Fortunately, John did not take hormones or pursue surgery. Even without these medical interventions, his experience with trans ideology was confusing  and painful.

(Note: Part of this post comes from a Reddit thread that John posted. I am using that with his permission here.)

Thank you, John.

I was 100% thoroughly convinced that I was a woman trapped in a man’s body. I went on believing this for the better part of 6 months, and it did a number on my psyche.

I think these trans communities are a cult. They target lonely, confused teenagers that have a fetish. Not…

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Homeless woman writes to newspaper about her women’s homeless shelter admitting men, not transwomen, men if they self identify as women.

Cross posted from

Man who identified as a woman was allowed in our all-women’s shelter. It was the wrong call (OPINION)

By Malka Davis

In June 2014, I was admitted to a women’s homeless shelter in Northeast Portland. This was my second attempt to lift myself out of homelessness through the assistance of Transition Projects, which runs the shelter.

Like most of the residents, I was there because I had run out of options. None of us was thrilled about living with as many as 60 other women. Our only task was to make the most of it so we could transition into something better.

A few weeks into my stay, I returned to find a number of women in distress. Reportedly, one woman had even fled the shelter in terror.

What was wrong? What was the uproar about? An answer soon followed: The shelter had admitted a man who “self-identified” as a woman. No doubt this was not a first for the shelter; it was, however, a first for those of us who were relative newcomers.

The realization that a man was going to be sharing sleeping and bathroom space with us (in this particular area, there are no private or even semi-private rooms) was understandably met with tremendous anxiety, and, yes, even outrage. After all, not a few of these women were escaping domestic and sexual abuse committed by men, a trauma that doesn’t magically disappear once you’re away from your abuser. They thought they had found a haven exclusively for women. Little did they know that because of anti-discrimination laws any man who claims to identify as a woman can be admitted.

Over the next few months, most of the women came to tolerate, or even accept to one degree or another, “Clarence’s” presence. I became acquainted with him early on, and he often sought me out to talk about his experiences both inside and outside the shelter. In return, I listened and sometimes offered words of consolation. But at no point did I come to regard Clarence as a woman, nor did I refer to him as one. I saw him as an intelligent, sensitive, but very fragile and confused man. That is to say, I afforded him the dignity he deserved as a human being without denying the truth of his gender.

Nonetheless, I believe the shelter was wrong for admitting him. It jeopardized the security of a dozen or so women for the benefit of one man’s sense of belonging. Not only that, but for every man who is admitted into a women’s shelter under the speciousness of gender ideology, untold numbers of bona fide women are left waiting on the streets. That is not just unfair, it’s unjust.

When I see how this debate is being portrayed in the liberal media, though, I have to wonder if these so-called champions of transgender rights have any concept of how this issue impacts people — especially women — on the fringes of society. Many of us, like those in homeless shelters, do not have the luxury of choosing how much we’re going to be impacted by the liberal zeitgeist’s latest cause célèbre, or the ability to exercise other options. The issue is thrust upon us when we are at our most vulnerable.

Clerics in Pakistan say transgenders are okey dokey, homosexuals not so much.

Clerics say trans marriages legal under Islamic law

A group of clerics in Pakistan has declared marriage between transgender individuals permissible in Islam, saying they have a right to be buried in Muslim ceremonies, according to a copy of a religious edict Reuters obtained on Monday.

Transgender people also have full rights under Islamic inheritance law, the Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat Pakistan, a little-known clerical body in the eastern city of Lahore, said in its fatwa.

“It is permissible for a transgender person with male indications on his body to marry a transgender person with female indications on her body,” said the document, signed by 50 clerics and issued on Sunday.

“Also, normal men and women can also marry such transgender people as have clear indications on their body.”

But it did say what these indications were.

In 2012, Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared equal rights for transgender citizens, including the right to inherit property and assets, preceded a year earlier by the right to vote.

Pakistani marriage law remains murkier, however. It denies homosexual couples permission to marry, with male homosexuals having been charged under anti-sodomy laws in the past.

Sunday’s fatwa declared marriage with any individual possessing both male and female “indications” to be against Islamic principles.

Shunned by mainstream society, transgender individuals in the country of 190 million are often forced into begging, prostitution or dancing to earn a living.

Late last month, Alisha, a 23-year-old transgender woman, died after being shot and then refused treatment at the largest public sector hospital in Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan.

Her death sparked debate over the rights of transgender people, with an inquiry concluding that senior doctors at the hospital were responsible for “criminal negligence”, and recommending that criminal charges be filed.

Transgender people are, however, also sometimes venerated in the South Asian tradition of according spiritual powers to eunuchs and others who fall outside traditional gender divisions.

Although the Lahore clerics’ fatwa is not legally binding, it also recommended that people consider harassment of transgender people a crime under Islam.

“Making noises at transgender people, making fun of them, teasing them, or thinking of them as inferior is against sharia law, because such an act amounts to objecting to one of Allah’s creations, which is not correct,” it added.

Transgender Community in Multan Pakistan Reject Women Protection Bill. Says Bill is “against man’s honour”

Multan’s transgender community rejects Women Protection Bill

MULTAN (Dunya News) – Transgender community has rejected Women Protection Bill and has announced to protest, Dunya News reported Monday.

The community has termed the bill against ‘man’s honour’ and demanded the government to review it.

Members of the Shemale Association said that Women Protection Bill would not help in cases like Wani and denied inheritance.

Also read: Transgender persons given opportunities of better lives in Lahore

Terming the bill an attempt to move to a more liberal society, they said that it would escalate divorce cases.

It should be noted here that the bill is under discussion on several fronts including Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) however, the government has stated that it would not be taken back.

On March 2, The Council of Islamic Ideology had stated that Punjab’s bill pertaining to protection of women is against the Constitution and two-nation theory.

Know more: Women protection bill conflicts with Constitution, two-nation theory: CII

On February 29, Punjab Governor Malik Rafique Rajwana signed the Women Protection Bill.

The bill approved by the Punjab Assembly on February 24 was signed by the governor after which its gazette notification was issued.

In the first phase, the bill will be implemented in Multan.

The government will announce dates of implementation of the bill in every area.

The bill states that female victims of domestic violence cannot be evicted from homes without their consent and in case of such an event. The court will reinstate the concerned female’s position.

The bill also states that those accused of throwing acid on women, rape and other grave offences will be restrained from visiting the female’s work place or areas. The offender may also be restrained by the court from contacting the woman based on the evidence submitted by her.

The accused person will have to maintain the stated distance from the concerned female as ordered by the court in view of the events.

Sloppy Science Invoked to Support Trans Ideology

Cross posted from the blog: Meeting Ground On Line-for the liberation of women and working people

Sloppy Science Invoked to Support Trans Ideology

by Kathy Scarbrough

Not a day goes by lately when loving parents can’t be heard spouting some hackneyed sex stereotype (“my son likes pink; my daughter prefers trucks to dolls”) as evidence that their child is the opposite sex “inside” as opposed to what sex their genitals suggest. What is ignored and goes unsaid is that the concept of gender identity depends on the idea that human brain function is “sexed”—that is, the existence of “gender identity” depends on large differences between female and male brains.

Babies_genderedThat male and female brains are different has been used for millennia to keep women down—in the home taking care of children and out of the better paying and more prestigious jobs. Female brains have supposedly been not smart enough be trusted with control their own bodies, their own money, or their own property. Meanwhile “non-nurturing” male brains have absolved men of doing housework and taking care of children.

And for hundreds of years feminists have argued that our minds are equal to men’s. There was also a time, not so long ago, when brains were claimed to differ by race, that “black” brains were somehow different than “white” brains. Though this still creeps in occasionally, that racist idea has been relegated to the scientific dustbin.

Why, then, is the notion of male or female brains not immediately condemned as sexist? One of the problems is that male supremacists on both the left and the right continue to invoke it, and some of our leading scientists continue to promote it.

Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University and a Pulitzer Prize winning author of a book on cancer, has a new book out called The Gene. These impressive credentials didn’t save him, however, from speaking beyond his realm of expertise and promoting male supremacist propaganda about gender “identity” when interviewed by NPR Fresh Air radio show host Terry Gross (May 16, 2016).

Indeed the unreflective, everyday sexism Mukherjee displayed when talking about the science of sex and gender identity took my breath away. When Terry Gross asked him about gender identity, he replied,

So, for the large part, gender anatomy, whether you’re male or female from the sexual anatomy, is determined really by one master gene…[which] unsurprisingly…sits in the Y chromosome.

He goes on to say, basically, if you have the gene you will be born with male genitals, if you don’t have the gene you will be born with female genitals. And then he gets to the issue of gender “identity”:

That teaches us something very important, that means that as far as gender anatomy is concerned, as far as even gender identity is concerned, there is one master regulator… but it ALSO tells us, and this is where things get most interesting…that that master regulator begins to recruit downstream things, it doesn’t act on its own…. Its sort of like the commander in the army but the commander in the army still has to have recruited its deployment of all the other troops, all the other, you know, the hierarchy, as it were, and there are infinite variations along that hierarchy. So you can still have…the master regulator commanding male gender anatomy and a different hierarchal organization flowing down from it…which would lead to slight different variations, or radically different variations, in gender identity.

This was a “stand up and yell at the radio” moment for me. Dr. Mukherjee’s description of sexual development is such a huge overstatement that it is actually scientifically false. I know it is terribly tempting to speak outside one’s area of expertise in such situations but typically scientists are more reticent. Not this scientist! He is so filled with male entitlement and the excitement of a recently discovered gene normally present only in men that he cannot contain himself.

Here’s the real scoop: There are many, many genes that are required for sexual development.  Using Mukherjee’s phrase, there are several “commanders” in the sex development army.  Sex is so important to the evolutionary persistence of the human species that there are redundancies built into the system—many pathways to get to the same end point: the development of an individual with the potential to reproduce. If one pathway is blocked, another is called to play a primary role. These various routes to get to the same outcome make a full understanding of the reproductive system very, very difficult, as I found out during a decade of research on the processes that lead to ovulation in adult female vertebrates.

Contrary to Mukerjee’s implication that female humans develop because some factor is missing, it is more accurate to say that human development will lead preferentially to the female sex unless the new gene recently discovered is active in the embryo. Male scientists spent years and years searching for the “testis determining gene” which was surmised to be located on the Y chromosome since it virtually always accompanies the X chromosome in male humans whereas female human beings have two X chromosomes. That gene on the Y chromosome, given the name SRY, is another commander in the army of sex development, and causes the undifferentiated gonad to become a testis rather than follow the developmental path that had already been at work, and would have lead to the formation of an ovary.  It must be tough for men to admit that male humans are the auxiliary pathway rather than the main pathway of sexual development.

Murkherjee goes even farther afield in answering Terry Gross’s question about gender identity. Here he leaves the domain of science completely. Without hesitation he supports the controversial notion that there is such a thing as innate “gender identity.” He offers no disclaimers about the science not being settled, nor does he question the very concept that there might be female or male brains. Contrary to popular belief, there is good evidence that behavioral and intellectual traits overlap greatly for women and men: we are more alike than we are different.  This evidence has been compiled and critically examined in several recent books (see recommended readings below).

Murkherjee asserts, with no evidence to back up his statement,

So you can still have, as it were, the master regulator commanding male gender anatomy and a different hierarchal organization flowing down from it…which would lead to slight different variations, or radically different variations, in gender identity.

Without saying so directly, Mukherjee implies that the SRY gene is turned on in the brain and is acting as a “commander” in the army of sexual development on this level too. He is suggesting that SRY “sexes” the brain. I have verified that SRY is active in the brain but there is no evidence it leads to different brain development in male humans. SRY is similar in structure to many “master regulators” expressed by both females and males and could have many, many roles. SRY could be redundant in the male brain, there is no evidence to the contrary.

Purveyors of “brain sex” also often point to the effect of sex hormones on brain function.  The development of brain and gonads are well underway by the end of the embryonic period at 8 weeks of gestation. Genitals develop later and depend on the influence of hormones secreted by the fetal ovary or testis. These hormones also affect brain development (specifically for reproductive function) so, even if one believes that these hormones “sex the brain” in some other sort of meaningful way, it is highly doubtful that the brain and genitals can be mismatched.  The same hormone that influences the development of the genitals, acts in the brain.

Perhaps Dr, Mukherjee should take some of his own advice, because earlier in the interview he says, “it’s very important to be clear about these ideas, because otherwise we fall into language that’s…all incorrect and wrong, and then you just foster nonsensical controversies.” Seems to me that Dr. Mukherjee has fed an ongoing controversy without providing much new and useful information!

 * * *

Recommended Readings:

Brainstorm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, Rebecca M.Jordan-Young Harvard University Press, 2010
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference, Cordelia Fine, W. W. Norton & Co., 2010
Sexing the Body, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Basic Books, 2000
Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome, Sarah S.Richardson, University of Chicago Press, 2013

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