November 28, 2019

An alternative hypothesis for the evolution of same-sex sexual behavior in animals

An article in The Washington Post presents a new approach to same-sex relationships in animals (and humans, by implication). Researchers argue that heterosexuality is a pretty recent invention, as far as evolution is concerned.

When Procreation is a God

Traditionally homosexual or bisexual practices have been seen as deviations that need to be explained. The premise is that sex is for pro-creation, so same-sex sex makes no sense. Why does not evolution eradicate such behavior, given that it does not lead to offspring?

Ray Blanchard, the man behind the transphobic  autogynephilia theory is, for instance,  deeply anchored in this way of thinking. He has spent a lot of time trying to explain why homosexuals exists. Moreover, he presents both homosexuality and transgender conditions as mental illnesses, again because they – presumably – do not lead to procreation.

(Why “evolutionary psychologists” have decided to make procreation God and the ruler over right and wrong will have to be addressed at another time. It makes little sense to me.)

Same-sex behavior is the starting point

The report presented in the Washington Post takes a completely different approach. Polysexuality might just as well be the natural default, if I understand the researchers correctly. Same-sex behavior has always been there.

November 19, 2019

Lesbian TERFs are using the exact same tactics against trans people as homophobes used against gay men and women


The arguments TERFs and other transphobes use against transgender people these days have also been used against gay and lesbian people.

"Trans-exclusionary radical feminists” (TERFs)  are arguing that trans women are a threat to cis women and children. The tactic is partly to sexualize transgender people, reducing their gender identity to some kind of perversion, and partly to describe them as member of some kind of sinister misguided cult ("transtrenders").

These are  not new types of tactics, historically. They have been used against feminists, people of color, working class citizens and gay men and lesbian women for ages.

So, you might rightly ask why lesbians and pro-lesbian feminists are using the same tactics against trans people, as straight, cis, people used against homosexuals. They have clearly learned nothing from history.

Over at twitter The Implausible Girl has collected a wide variety of newspaper clippings documenting how the arguments used against gay men and lesbian women are now repeated in a transgender context.  I will present some of them below.

The point is simply to document that the TERFs and other transphobes are committing the same crimes against trans people as those that have been committed against gay and lesbian people. And although there may be some people out there who ask legitimate questions about some of the arguments raised by some trans people, it is clear that as far as the TERF activists are concerned, this is not about discussing facts. This is about using any false argument that may force trans people back into their closets, even if that argument has been used against people like themselves.

October 1, 2019

Understanding the tactics of TERFs

Trans-exclusionary radical feminists are now actively harassing transgender kids in an attempt to erase their identities. (Photo:  Antonio Guillem)

Here's how trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) are trying to hide their transphobic bigotry.

I never recommend that trans people get engaged in online discussions with militant TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). Many of them are Internet trolls, and there will be no constructive debate.

Nevertheless,  a few times a year I do engage with them on twitter, partly to show those who are listening in that there is a different way of looking at transgender people, and partly to find out how the TERFs think. There are not many of them, but they do some serious damage, and in order to limit that damage, we need to understand what drives them.

The two main groups of TERFs

There is no simple answer to that, as the TERFs are not a homogenous group. Still, if we allow for some simplification, we could say that there are at least two groups of women associated with their cause:

  1. White, straight, middle or upper class women, who are looking for some kind of excuse to force transgender children back into the closet and restrict transgender women to their homes.
  2. Militant "radical feminists".  The latter group consists mainly of real cis lesbians (some of them channeling aggressive  masculine energies), or cis straight women who resent men so much that they "have abandoned heterosexuality" (also known as "political lesbians").

The most vocal trolls belong to the second category.

(Please note that these women represent a very small, but active, minority among feminists. Most feminists, lesbians included, support transgender people.)

September 16, 2019

What does "assigned gender at birth" mean?

I think the transgender community and its allies often take the word "assigned" for granted, rarely stopping to think about what it means or what it conveys to others.

Guest post by Veronica Claire

This is a topic that I raised in a private conversation with Jack, and he was keen to see it shared with a wider audience.

Assigned gender and assigned sex

Nuances differ between assigned gender and assigned sex, and there are shades of meaning within each. The everyday sense of the word is easiest to recognise when we are talking about (a) the way society allocates social roles and expectations based on our genitalia, or (b) the case of intersex people who were raised as boys or girls and even operated on for no reason other than society's intolerance of ambiguity. This is assignment in anyone's dictionary.

Other times, assigned sex or gender is used essentially as a euphemism for anatomical sex at birth, in contexts where neither society's social assumptions nor the possibility of intersex conditions are really under consideration, and where casual readers might be mislead to believe that we are denying the reality of anatomical sex beyond the act of assignment. Such usage is not wrong, but it should be cogniscent rather than reflexive.

September 12, 2019

Are cis women responsible for the murders of transgender women?

Some  trans-exclusionary "radical feminists" (TERFs) are getting really annoyed at me over at tumblr.

I believe the main reason is that I present the similarities between them and other transphobes in a clear away, and they hate to be put in the same box as right wing extremists and religious fundamentalists.

My comparison of apartheid bathroom segregation and the current TERF/extreme right attempts at banning trans women from women's spaces really got them going, as did a tumblr post I wrote on how TERFs  must share some of the blame for current violence against transgender women.

This is probably why I was asked this strange question: "how is it women's fault that men kill trans women?".

This is most likely a TERF trying to bait me. She wants get  me to write something outrageous that can be used in her fight against transgender people. And the fact that she even bother to ask such questions is a good thing. My blog is clearly making a difference.

Did I bite? But of course I did!

You can read my response regarding the murder of trans women and the role of TERFs and other "Aunt Lydias" over at Trans Express!

The photo is from the TV series The Handmaid's Tale. The woman to the left is Aunt Lydia, the matriarch that is doing all she can to support the misogynistic tyranny of Gilead.

September 9, 2019

On being non-binary and bigender and the fear of coming out to the family

Bigender people sometimes feel male, other times female. (Illustration photo. Original photo: Nadofotos, gender switch in Faceapp).

In this guest post Jemimah writes about being non-binary and bigender and the fear of coming out to their family. Jemimah is assigned male at birth, but they may switch between a male and a female gender identity.

By Jemimah

I was recently asked whether writing help me deal with my gender complications.  The answer is possibly.

A follow-up might be to ask about reading. I do a lot of reading; I am, for instance,  about to go and follow the Silk Road to China. But while the Chinese situation in Xinjiang is interesting,  it is not directly relevant to the topic of this blog post.

Non-binary and bigender identities

I have read lots of books on transgender issues recently, though. One book in particular did provide some relief. It was Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows, a collection of essays arranged by Christine Burns.

It is a complete history of all modern activities in the non-straight world in Britain and has, for instance,  some surprisingly encouraging accounts of straight politicians helping the LGBT community.

The book probably caught my eye because included in it is an essay on non-binary identity, by Meg-John Barker, Ben Vincent and Jos Twist. Non-binary is, as they point out, the most common umbrella term for people who experience their gender as neither male nor female:
"Non-binary people can have a fluid experience of gender, experiencing themselves as more male, more female, both or neither, at different times. Other non-binary people experience themselves as somewhere between male and female, or as a separate third category, for example."
Their main focus is on the area somewhere in between male and female. This may be the more common condition. They think that about one in 250 identify themselves as other than male or female.

The non-binary identities they are discussing are not necessarily bigender in the sense that I, Rick/Ria [a 26 year old British bigender person] and the neuroscientists V.S. Ramachandran and L.K. Case understand it, though.  I believe myself to have, one at a time, a male and a female gender.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!