March 11, 2014

The latest Crossdreamer and Transgender posts from XD Express

XD Express is my tumblr blog for quick and targeted posts about crossdreaming and transgender issues. I have also found myself using it as some kind of rapid deployment blog for the defense of harassed girlfags.

Comic by Humon presenting the
love life of bonobos.
From the blog post on transgender animals.
Click on image to enlarge!
There is a lot of aggression on tumblr, where some transgender people spend more time on hurting each other than fighting their real opponents out there. Which is a shame.

But this is what societies based on fear of gender ambiguity do to people. We all try to find a dry spot of normalcy in a big sea of social exclusion, and if that means drowning other trans people in the process, so be it!

The real trick is to help the people find themselves, without adding fuel to the fire.

Here are recent some posts that might be of interest:

How to Effectively Invalidate Marginalized People!
I present the the concept of "Master Suppression Techniques", which are used all the time in order to invalidate crossdreamers, girlfags and transsexuals.

Transgender animals  
I present some wonderful comics which illustrate the diversity of sex and gender in the animal kingdom. They prove that our normal concepts of "natural" and "unnatural" are very narrow, indeed!
Some transgender bloggers have developed cisphobia, an intense hatred of non-transgender people. Some may think "cissie" is a good pun on "sissy". I think it is horrible!

Dear Truscum: This is What the Word Transgender Actually Means.
Unlike the previous generation of transsexual separatists, who hated the word "transgender", the new one tries to appropriate it. I wrote this blog post as a possible reference point for future discussion. I prove that you do not have to suffer from gender dysphoria to call yourself transgender.


Is Gender Really Nothing More Than a Performance?
Reflections of Julia Serano's response to  post-structuralists reducing everything gender to language and performance.

Yes, there may be such a thing as an inborn sex identity!
A short reminder to those that think that sex and gender is nothing but culture. I am pretty much convinced it is the end result of an interaction between nature and nurture, and that the nature/nurture divide maybe was a mistake in the first place.

Do you know what a girlfag is? Really?
Girlfags, and in particular female to male crossdreamers, have been under intense attack on tumblr. The usual refrain is that they are nothing but fetishists. 

See also these blog posts: On the girlfag and guydyke issueGirfags, crossdreamers and trans men and Stop the Harassment of Girlfags!
Memes and illustrations

Tumblr is a very different platform and community from Blogger. The most efficient way of communicating is by pictures and short "memes". I have published a few of my own over there:
Click on image to enlarge!









As for the Crossdreamer blog: Don't worry! I am not going to abandon it. I will continue to publish longer and more extensive analyses at this blog.

14 comments:

Elsa Delyth said...

I've heard that remark about strangling post structuralists about a hundred times more often than I've heard gender be called performance, which I've heard about twice, with lots of qualification.

This isn't an intellectual objection, and is to threaten violence. If all else fails, beat them up, amirite?

Why is this remake, that just means "shut up or I'll hurt you" chanted like a mantra, as if it is some kind of refutation?

Gender is performance, I think. At least in the sense of wearing certain clothing, painting nails, and adhering to particular fashions -- which is ridiculous to say is not cultural. Men and women distinguish themselves in dress and behavior throughout history, but how they do that is highly culturally determined.

I think that believing that one has genes that makes them want to wear heels, and cocktail dresses. So attack me.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa

Here is the blog post this infographic was used for. I guess it addresses your concerns.

Elsa Delyth said...

No, that just raises more concerns. Mainly, that criticisms of Butler are based on misrepresentations, based on knee-jerk aversion to immediate perception, without allowing for clarification, expansion, or legitimate consideration. Just pre-conception.

The inability of some minds hold ideas accurately without agreeing with them.

Butler is just out of Serano's league. There are legitimate criticisms of her theories on gender, but being offended isn't one.

I liked coming here before because it was about things, science psychology, philosophy -- but it has become about squabbles, and communicating with slogans -- which is extremely disappointing, as I don't find a home anywhere else, as that those sorts of things do not concern me.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa

I don't think you understand to what extent the philosophy of Butler and others like her is used to invalidate the identity of transsexual men and women. I see that over and over again over at tumblr. It has become extremely destructive.

I am sure Butler's intentions are good. She did not plan for this to happen. She clearly believes that her philosophy may also bring some kind of freedom to the trans population, and for some it does.

By the way, Serano responded to a question over at twitter regarding my tumblr post. She wrote:

"@therapistdavid @jackmolay for the record, I am not misrepresenting Butler's theory of performativity, but rather how the theory itself is oversimplified in feminist & queer circles to merely performance. I explain in endnote in the actual book."

This is what the footnote in Excluded says:

"The notion that 'all gender is performance' or 'all gender is drag' is frequently attributed to Judith Butler, and specifically to her book Gender Trouble... However, on numerous occasions, Butler has argued that these catchphrases are gross misinterpretations of what she was actually trying to say; see ... (footnote 1, p 306, Excluded.

Serano is maybe too kind to Butler in this respect. I have read all Butler's books, and it is very clear to me that in her universe there is nothing beyond social construction, gender wise, and that does not cut it for a young gender dysphoric trans woman or trans man.

You can hear Butler talk very clearly about gender as a performance herself here.

Under any circumstance, after being filtered through the faculties of American universities, her philosophy is now used or misused as a weapon against trans people.

They are repeatedly told that their identity is a mirage, a fetish, a delusion and that only women who have been raised as women have the right to call themselves women.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa continued

And it all points back to the idea that gender is a construct, and a construct only. If you have not felt the oppression of women, growing up as a woman, you are no woman.

Serano gets this. Butler does not, and her treatment of the Joan/Joan case proves this to me.

This paper includes a brilliant analysis of the gender power play of the medical establishment in general and Money in particular.

But as soon as she starts writing about the victim here, John AKA David Reimer, she gets lost in misgendering and academic arrogance. She does not understand his male identity, because it does not fit her paradigm.

Because of this her article ends in an endless babble of words, words, words, where there is no respect for the immediate and very clear realisation of David: "I am a man!"

Let me give you an example:

"To do justice to John is, certainly, to take him at his word, and to call him by his chosen name, but how are we to understand his word and his name? Is this the word that he creates? Is this the word that he receives? Are these the words that circulate prior to his emergence as an "I" that might gain a certain authorization to begin a self-description only within the norms of this language? So when one speaks, one speaks a language that is already speaking, even if one speaks it in a way that is not precisely how it has been spoken before. So what and who is speaking here, when John reports, "There were little things from early on. I began to see how different I felt and was, from what I was supposed to be"?"

She starts out with some kind of arrogant top down "respect" of David, but ends up questioning everything he stands for.

Heck, she even has the nerve to turn him into a tool for her own deconstruction of gender:

"He will be and he is, he tells us, loved for some other reason, a reason they do not understand, and it is not a reason we are given. It is clearly a reason beyond the regime of reason established by the norms of sexology itself. We know only that he holds out for another reason, and that in this sense we no longer know what kind of reason this is, what reason can be; he establishes the limits of what they know, disrupting the politics of truth, making use of his desubjugation within that order of being to establish the possibility of love beyond the grasp of that norm. He positions himself, knowingly, in relation to the norm, but he does not comply with its requirements."

Yes, he wants to be loved as something neither "they" (the medical) establishment nor Butler understand. He wants to be loved for who he is, a man. This does not necessarily make David a banal essentialist. it simply means that he sees and feels something that cannot be captured by mentalities as different as the ones of Money and Butler. There is something else here, something that goes beyond language. Something that is very real.

Butler could have respected the limits of her toolbox and just said that this is something her philosophy cannot say anything about.

But she is overreaching. She has such a brilliant grasp of how culture develops a semiotic system that shapes the way sex and gender play out. But she has fooled herself and others into believing this "language play" is all there is.

Jack Molay said...

...

The bullies of Tumblur get this, with their background from gender studies. This is what they have been told, and they use this insight with great effect against transsexuals.

And the transsexual men and women over at tumblr get it too, which is why they desperately try to keep their distance from the radical feminist and genderqueer activists.

They are actively pushed into the other trap -- naive scientism -- because this is the only place left for them; the only place they can find someone who believe them when they say: "I know that I am a woman!" "I know that I am a man!" "I know that there I have an inner self that needs affirmation and respect, and that this inner self is much more than a social construction!"

This is why Serano gets so angry when arrogant academics starts talking about gender as a performance. Not because she does not see that much of gender is a performance. It is this too. But because she knows in her heart that there is so much more to her own identity than this.

I realise that you have found much of value in both post-structuralism and gender studies, Elsa. So have I. As I have said before, without Foucault this blog would not have existed. But we cannot presume that since post-structuralism is against the present oppressive system, it cannot be used by the same system. It clearly is!

You write:

"I liked coming here before because it was about things, science psychology, philosophy -- but it has become about squabbles, and communicating with slogans -- which is extremely disappointing..."

People are dying out there because of this. For real! Sure, it may feel safer and more comfortable to stay outside the fray and let the bullies be bullies. But that is not the right thing to do. Not for me and not for you.

Rest assured, though, that there will be more analytic articles about sex and gender at this blog, but I have learned too much to leave it at that. I cannot just sit still and look passively at this violent persecution of trans people.

And please do read Serano's book before you make any more accusations against her!

Elsa Delyth said...

Well, that elevates Serano for me, as your allusions to her tend to do the opposite of.

If people argue that Darwinism implies social Darwinism, do you therefore attempt to disprove Darwinism? What an uphill battle... Or do you explain to them how they don't know what they're talking about, and kick the legs out from under their foundation?

In any case, I don't really give a shit about what the people on Tumblur are saying, you seem to have a case of SIWOTI syndrome.

I don't much care for your nonsense about Butler either. You have to ignore her clear unambiguous denial of such misrepresentation, as Serano you inform me does not (which it isn't clear from your sloganization of her), and pretty much call her a liar, and attempt to infer the opposite through a labored interpretation.

How is this different than that person you complained about a couple of posts back inferring things you unambiguously deny? I don't see your method her differing from hers in any substantial sense.

If you assume bad faith first, I'm sure all of that follows. I'll just take Butler's, and your words for what you mean by things.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa

"I don't much care for your nonsense about Butler either. You have to ignore her clear unambiguous denial of such misrepresentation, as Serano you inform me does not (which it isn't clear from your sloganization of her), and pretty much call her a liar, and attempt to infer the opposite through a labored interpretation. "

I have written a post which mainly consists of long quotations of Serano and you accuse me of calling her a liar and sloganizing her?

Seriously: You have not read anything of Serano and you have the audacity to criticise me for misrepresenting her?

I have given you an extensive argument about Butler position's, including references and documentation, and you resort to diversions of the "you are to dumb to understand this", without responding to anything I have said?

"If people argue that Darwinism implies social Darwinism, do you therefore attempt to disprove Darwinism? What an uphill battle... "

No, this is not what I am saying. I am saying that Butler is simplifying gender, she is wrong about gender, even if her intentions are good I am saying that because of her simplification she has opened another door to another form of oppression.

There are two crimes here, and they are interconnected. Read what I have said about the David Reimer case again. Butler is invalidating David, and it is this type of invalidation that is now causing this new form of oppression of trans people.

You really have to understand that the fact that people disagree with you, does not mean that they are feeble minded or intellectually inferior. Nor does it mean that they are out to get you. I am simply not buying the Butler package.

By all means disagree with me, but show me at least the courtesy of accepting that someone may think differently.

I been polite and respectful towards you and held my tongue, even after your many insults.

But you have crossed a line that friends do not cross. You clearly feel so threatened by what I am saying that you resort to humiliation instead of arguments. That is completely unacceptable.

If you cannot find a more polite way of communicating, I will kindly ask you to go away!

Elsa Delyth said...

Hardly kindly asking me... but this will be my last post.

Firstly I never said you were calling Serano a liar, I said you pretty much have to be to Butler to just ignore what Serano accepts, and that is that this oversimplification, and ammunition to attack transgender people, or delegitimize transgender people, and then attempt to infer this regardless of her denials. Did you not say that Serano acknowledges this, but that you disagree with her? That's what I was talking about.

We've already discussed this topic a couple of times, I don't see anything new, and I have no desire to persuade you of post-structuralism, or Butler's position. I only said that I wish you wouldn't say that post-structuralists evil views, that serve as fodder for attacking people that I don't attack. I've already tried to respond with appeals to equality, showing that I can find gender essentialism just as oppressive, and call your views evil too. Take as much offense, where, and when it is never intended.

I am done talking to you about post-structuralism, and Butler specifically, because I have already, and don't think you know what you're talking about -- not because I think you're stupid. People can be wrong without being stupid, I'm wrong all the time, and often feel like I don't know what I'm talking about, and have glorified such doubt as essential to reasonableness and honesty in the past.

All of the offense that you're taking as an excuse to abuse me further than just being smacked in the face with the wide brush you're using to counter Tumblur people is why I commented to begin with. I had hoped to reason with you, but you want an argument about the truth or falsity of post-structuralism and Butler's gender theories instead. I simple contend that whether true or false, they are not oppressive to transgender people, are not attacks on transgender people, and that I do not oppress transgender people, and attack transgender people.

This is to demonize, and prioritize views over values.

Sorry to bother you, return to your dramas. I'm out for good.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa,

Fascinating. You are still not willing to discuss the issue, even when I provide you with the argument.

"Firstly I never said you were calling Serano a liar, I said you pretty much have to be to Butler to just ignore what Serano accepts, and that is that this oversimplification, and ammunition to attack transgender people, or delegitimize transgender people, and then attempt to infer this regardless of her denials. Did you not say that Serano acknowledges this, but that you disagree with her? That's what I was talking about."

I am afraid you have to distinguish between the intentions of people and the effect of what they are saying. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What I am trying to communicate (but obviously failing to do) is to tell you that there are two levels of "philosophical failure" here:

The first one is caused by Butler, who does not see that she, in her own writings, directly and indirectly invalidates the lives of transsexual people. I guess it is this you find so offensive, as you for otherwise valid reasons have found a deep kinship with Butler.

The second is that her error opens the door for people of a much more aggressive persuasion, people who see what Butler cannot see, and who now uses Butler as a weapon against transsexuals.

This is, to follow Foucault, exactly what a system of power and oppression will do. It is not only right wing conservatives who oppress. Left wingers are human too, and precisely because they think they have seen through the system, they are easily harnessed to is cause.

Serano is saying much or less the same in her book. The footnote refers to the fact that some people misinterpret the term "gender is performance" and interprets "perfomance" as some kind of drag show. I think I have clearly documented that is not what I am doing. Butler's model is much more sophisticated than this.

You say:

"I only said that I wish you wouldn't say that post-structuralists evil views, that serve as fodder for attacking people that I don't attack".

The word "evil" apart, this is what I am seeing, and when transsexual people suffer because of it, I have to warn people about it.

I do exactly the same when people present me with naive essentialist views, like the the kind of thinking you refer to in your quip about "believing that one has genes that makes them want to wear heels, and cocktail dresses."

We agree on this: That kind of thinking forces trans men and women into stifling gender stereotypes and has nothing to do with the real world.

The problem is, however, that as long as the dominant way of thinking refuses to acknowledge any form of fundamental sex identity, many transsexuals seek refuge in that kind of simplistic thinking.

This is the kind of faulty logic we humans so often fall into: "If the Gender Studies blank slate people do not understand what I am experiencing, their opponents must be right."

And so the infighting continues.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think you understand to what extent the philosophy of Butler and others like her is used to invalidate the identity of transsexual men and women."

Butler rightly shows that there is no gender per se beyond the constructed affiliations which are represented as gender. Your misrepresentation of Butler as invalidating trans identity, is bound in the terms you consider to be authentic identity in the context of a failure to understand Butler.

The bizarre claim that Butler invalidates trans identity.. does this mean that this invalidation is in contrast to an identity that is validated? No, because validity of specific identities is not categorically applicable here, as the whole project is to show how identity itself emerges and functions.

"in her universe there is nothing beyond social construction, gender wise, and that does not cut it for a young gender dysphoric trans woman or trans man."

http://imgur.com/CWFTYoV

You are sad because you lost your job, became bankrupt, lost your house and are living at your sister's house?!? Sorry a psychological account of your psychological state does not cut it for me!

You mean I killed for the country that I love, but the country is nothing but the sum of it's historical affiliations in relation to other countries? Sorry that doesn't cut it for me, I can only feel so strongly about something that transcends the world and is eternal, such as my homeland.

The hostile tumblr feminists you talk of are not of the same strain as Judith Butler. They do not believe in the possibility of legitimate trans identity because of patriarchy theory, the notion of male privilege.

Jack Molay said...

@Anonymous

Here we go again. Another Butler-enthusiasts who cannot grasp that someone who have actually understood her could disagree with her.

I have read all of Butler's books and I think I have gotten the message. I simply do not agree with all of it.

I do not buy the "blank slate" approach. We are animals, and our bodies carry with them millions of years of evolution: genes, hormones, instincts, drives -- an immensely complex system of interacting biological, social, psychological and cultural factors, most of which never even reach the surface of human consciousness.

So no, I do not buy the idea that gender dysphoria is a purely psychological phenomenon.

I am not sure there exist such a thing as a purely psychological phenomenon, to tell the truth, given that all experience is embedded in our bodies, and therefore influenced by them. Indeed, feelings cannot be reduced to words.

Can bankruptcy cause sadness? Sure, but so can toxins, hormones, cancer, the bacterial flora in your gut. In fact, I think the comic you are linking to, illustrates this in an exemplary fashion. If gender dysphoria was a social construct, I am sure I would be able to transcend it. I have, after all, managed to get past quite a few others.

Can I prove that gender dysphoria is more than psychology? No. But then again, nor can you prove that it is nothing but. Indeed, Butler's philosophy does not give room for a discussion of the animal nature of man.

Butler's big mistake is that she overreaches. She has understood much about the social construction of cultural gender roles. Now this is all she can see.

Deborah Kate said...

In terms of the witty cartoon to which anonymous links above, a doctor might say to a patient with a broken leg 'the pain to which you ascribe an absolute identity is in fact a linguistic construct derived from the ideologically-informed cultural archetypes of 'breakage' and 'leg'. The concept 'leg' has no fixed essence, its meaning is performed, through activities such as walking and kicking balls...'

Anonymous said...

"Another Butler-enthusiasts who cannot grasp that someone who have actually understood her could disagree with her"

That is cute, you have read Butler therefore you understand her. You mean that strawman of Butler you presented?

"I do not buy the "blank slate" approach."

You like to allude to the "we are animals with primal instincts" rhetoric, without actually addressing what other posters are actually saying. So lets make it simple,

1. In what way is proposing that identity is constructed, an invalidation of identity?

"I do not buy the idea that gender dysphoria is a purely psychological phenomenon."

2. Do you acknowledge that the conditions for which people will identify as a "gender", will the be the historical affiliations associated to gender? That there is no gender per se beyond these affiliations?

"I am not sure there exist such a thing as a purely psychological phenomenon, to tell the truth, given that all experience is embedded in our bodies, and therefore influenced by them."

There is psychology and the way psychology has been utilized by biology, whether it is psychological imprinting or modes of differential mapping.

"Can bankruptcy cause sadness? Sure...."

Yes, a psychologically constituted psychology does cut it.

"Can I prove that gender dysphoria is more than psychology? No. But then again, nor can you prove that it is nothing but. Indeed, Butler's philosophy does not give room for a discussion of the animal nature of man."

Sure it does. It is your failure to understand the nuances for which biology can with construction, therefore you dismiss construction, well when it suits yourself.

"Butler's big mistake is that she overreaches. She has understood much about the social construction of cultural gender roles. Now this is all she can see."

She has taken it in many ways to it's logical limits. Psychology in itself doesn't give the ways in which it may be utilized by biology.

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