Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Charitable view of Mary Daily

Mary Daly, one of the most notable Feminist Philosophers, died recently. Some quotes from her works:
“The Dionysian solution for women, which is violation of our own Hag-ocratic boundaries, is The Final Solution.”

“Dionysus sometimes assumed a girl-like form. The phenomenon of the drag queen dramatically demonstrates such boundary violation. Like whites playing “black face,” he incorporates the oppressed role without being incorporated in it. In the phenomenon of transsexualism, the incorporation/confusion is deeper. As ethicist Janice Raymond has pointed out, the majority of transsexuals are “male to female,” while transsexed females basically function as tokens, and are used by the rulers of the transsexual empire to hide the real nature of the game. In transsexualism, males put on “female” bodies (which are in fact pseudofemale).”

- Gyn/Ecology.

Mary Daly’s pupil, Janice Raymond, was responsible for a Federal report on transsexuality that led to medical treatment being withheld for over 100,000 now merely “pseudo-female” people between the Carter Era and today.

Approximately 50,000 died directly because of that [1], and because of the philosophy that Daily and Raymond espoused. Some estimates put the figures of people affected, and the consequent deaths, much higher. Those figures are minima.

Gyn/Ecology was influential, profound and thought-provoking, not to say provocative. As provocative, influential and thought-provoking as another, similar great Utopian Philosophy text, “My Struggle”, written in the 1920’s.

It’s better known by its German title.

Here’s another reference:

“Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent not only in religious myth, but in its offspring, phallocratic technology. The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example of male surgical siring which invades the female world with substitutes.””
– Gyn/Ecology.

Thus Transsexualism is Frankensteinian. And Necrophiliac.

I really think you should read “My Struggle” after this. The tone, language and symbology is too similar to be coincidental.

Consider these quotes:
“All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”

“Was there any form of filth or profligacy, particularly in cultural life, without at least one Transsexual involved in it? If you cut even cautiously into such an abscess, you found, like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light – a Tranny!”

(the latter has 2 words changed from the original)

It is my thesis that Mary Daly deliberately adopted the style and technique of “My Struggle”, trying to use it for a Good purpose.

Because it was effective at opening people’s eyes, of radicalising them. As a tool, morally neutral: the morality depends upon the purpose.

Since she genuinely believed that Transsexuals were Frankensteinian and Necrophilliac, power-crazed individuals “who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses.” then they were perfectly placed to be described using the same language reserved for another group with similar attributes (as perceived by the author) in “My Struggle”.

And it worked. Not as effectively as the original, perhaps, but well enough. Many women were radicalised by it. An evil (as perceived by Mary Daly) diminished too, but that was a (probably unexpected) by-product, and I suspect not greatly to her taste in latter years from some accounts.

The problem with Utopian philosophies is the messiness attendant in taking them to their logical conclusion. Separatism as a pipe-dream is one thing: dealing with a mountain of *actual* decaying corpses, rather than the *idea* of them, another. Mary Daly was, in the end, far too human to take her extreme philosophy to its logical end. That says much to her credit. While her works have much in common with “My Struggle”, her resemblance to the author of that work ended there.

She saw a great wrong, and attempted to right it with the most effective tools she had to hand.

She wasn't too keen on guys either:
WIE: In Quintessence, your idyllic continent is inhabited by women only, but the rest of the world is inhabited by women and men.

MD: I didn't say how many men were there.

WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article "The Future—If There Is One—Is Female" writes: "At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race." What do you think about this statement?

MD: I think it's not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.
Not nearly afraid enough. I have a son. I'd be glad that anyone seriously espousing such views is dead. Any mother of a boy child would.

[1] The book is not the most damaging writing that Raymond has penned. Far worse is a United States federal government commissioned study in the early 1980’s on the topic of federal aid for transsexual people seeking rehabilitation and health services. This paper, not well publicized, effectively eliminated federal and some states aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals. It had a further impact on private health insurance which followed the federal government’s lead in disallowing services to transsexual patients for any treatment remotely related to being transsexual, including breast cancer or genital cancer, as that was deemed to be a consequence of treatment for transsexuality.

You have to take into account the rate of transsexuality, the birth rate in the USA, the proportion of Trans people living below the poverty line or in jail, the number of trans girls thrown out onto the street and into sex work to survive and afford treatment, the mortality rate of those, the suicide rate with treatment as opposed to without, etc. The 50,000 figure is based on 40 year old figures for rates in Scandinavia. More recent estimates based in actual counts of surgical procedure would suggest a figure ten times higher.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of My Struggle, its author never actually murdered anyone personally, as far as I'm aware, he simply convinced others to do it for him. Sort of like what's going on here.

Daly, Raymond, Greer and the rest have the ethical sensibilities of Daleks.

Hazumu Osaragi said...

In correspondence with a new-media journalist, she said she was tired of reading the animosity and vitriol directed at the trans community.

I'm in agreement, but I feel we must make/keep ourselves aware of the Raymonds and the McHughs and the Blanchards and the Avarosis', et. al. who posess the analytical thinking and verbal skills to clothe primordial and irrational disgust and loathing in an elegant raiment of well-reasoned-seeming conclusions.

RadarGrrl said...

Good riddance.

Can we now be rid of Greer, Raymond et al?

Lloyd Flack said...

One of the problems with figures like 50,000 deaths as a result of inaction is that reasonable people who have little familiarity with the situation of transsexuals find it incredible and as a result switch out and don't listen any further. I've seen more and unfortunately don't find it incredible. The problem is how to get the attention of the majority. I think most will come onside if you can get them to listen. Right now I don't have any good ideas about how to do this. But simply saying how bad things are without solid back up can backfire.

What is needed is analysis from sources that most will trust. The FBI reporting crimes against transsexuals can only help. But you need more analysis from academic sources. The question is how to bring about more academic interest while defusing concerns about possible ideological bias. Any ideas?

Battybattybats said...

Llloyd, don't forget the rhetoric.

Most of the arguments made against us are frankly flimsy at best. But made with strong emotive rhetoric using push-button tactics to trigger peoples fears and biases and set forward in soundbites.

We have the reasoned arguments, but we need to improve the rhetoric. Rhetoric built on checkable facts is far better than rhetoric built on lies.

But we need to expose those lies. And to do it through emotive communication. We need to use push-button tactics of our own, buttons like equality for all, fairness, justice for victims, freedom of expression etc. Backed up with good data and good reasoning of course, but many people only go as far as the emotive rhetoric and these are the people we most need to reach.

As for Mary Daly, the dark bloodstains of her unrepudiated (publicly at least) views will forever marr her legacy and memory.

And as we continue the process of slowly applying the notions of Universal Human Rights to more of the populace until one day the word Universal becomes accurate in practice as well as theory she will be taught about in University classes of the future as one of those shamefull sort who built their classes progress on the deliberate misstreatment and vilification of others with less power and already suffering more oppression.

There's still time for Janice Raymond, Julie Bindel, Keneth Zucker etc to save some hint of their name... if of course their minds can survive the realisation of how much blood is on their hands already and how many lives they'd have to save to redress the balance.

Contributing to or being directly responsible for such attrocity would be hard to bear, making it so much easier to just pull down the mental blinds and refuse to reconsider or reevaluate past opinions conclusions statements and acts.

And yet eventually the truth will become unavoidable...

Jamie said...

Well said, as always, Zoe. I am never happy when someone dies, even someone reprehensible, but I refuse to told I should be /grateful/ to her. Sorry, she hurt me and my kind far, far more than she helped.

Zimbel said...

I'd never read (or heard of) their work.

Now I'm glad that I hadn't.

Zimbel said...

Looking into it further, I'm incorrect. Even if I hadn't read Raymond's work directly, I've read work directly influenced by her numerous times, in the fields of human trafficking and prostitution.

In any case, if someone knows the title of the U.S. report (or enough information to fully identify it), I should probably try to read it (if it's not on the internet, I can attempt to obtain a copy directly). It's difficult to successfully attack an unknown.

Carolyn Ann said...

50,000 is a minimal number? How so? Prove it. You make the allegation - back it up. You also confuse the issue with your confusing inclusion of all and sundry in some vague allegation against the woman. What's your allegation?

Zoe, I'm sure you can do a bit better than such lax and lazy mixing of sentiment and statistics.

I would also say "shame on RadarGrrl", too. But it wouldn't be worth it. Wishing death upon someone is, frankly, diabolical.

Mary Daly was no friend of the transgendered - I've always thought she was an extremist - but to celebrate her passing? Perhaps the trans community has no more humanity than their opponents? Perhaps we, as a group, as a community, lack such basic dignity that all we can do is abuse the dead, because of mutual dislike? We can blame it on the discrimination and abuse the transgendered endure. But what does it say when such numbers as "50,000" are thrown about with abandon, with no firm backing, and are accompanied by hoots of celebration at the death of an opponent?

Do we, really, lack the grace and humanity to acknowledge her as a worthy opponent, and someone who needed vigorous and accurate argument to counter her, often illogical and emotion-laden, bigotry?

Or are we to become, as RadarGrrl evidently has - the bigot, angry and abusive toward all and sundry who aren't pro-trans, or abiding of her view of trans-politics? So we really wish harm to our opponents as if this were a schoolyard?

I, for one, would hope we're above dancing on graves.

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

"Do we, really, lack the grace and humanity to acknowledge her as a worthy opponent"

Do we, really, lack the grace and humanity to acknowledge Hitler as a worthy opponent?

The comparison of literature above makes that an apt reflection does it not? Particularly if that 50,000 number is verifiable or defendable.

Now i'm not in favour of dancing on graves, not Stalins nor Husseins nor Hitlers nor Daly's. Nor of celebrating any death.

I'd rather see redemption and contrition from a live person than an obstinate corpse.

But respecting as a worthy opponent someone who going by these reports and quotes advocated it seems cultural genocide at best and literal genocide at worst? No, thats not a worthy opponent, thats a needless and valueless causing of harm to innocent people.

Nicole said...

"Worthy Opponent" - my ass!

People who believe that they have a right to an opinion yet do not extend that right to include the term "informed" before it are peddling in misleading and deceptive conduct and are no more worthy as opponents, as Nile and Pell are to Dawkins and Hitchens!.

Lloyd Flack said...

As a cis-gendered heterosexual male I have no reason to regard Mary Daily's opinions of people like me with anything but scorn. She was a vicious self-pittier to put it mildly. I wouldn't bother celebrating her death but I can't feel any sense of loss.

But think about why men as well as women went along with the urgings of people like her. What encouraged them to support people who despised them?

Consider also whether any movement that seeks social change but focuses only on the concerns of one section of society will be likely after a while to start doing more harm than good.

I can see how the figure of 50,000 deaths might come about as a result of many indirect effects. But claims that it might be ten times that cause scepticism. I would need very strong evidence to accept that, after all how many transsexuals are there in the US? You need the support of sympathetic cis-gendered people. But to help you they need hard facts. In some areas they can make emotional arguments and appeals to universal principles. But ultimately they have to confront those who deny the situation transsexuals find themselves in. And this can only be done with facts from reliable and reputable sources.

Zoe Brain said...

I'd feel the same about anyone advocating a "Final Solution". Or wishing the population of any large group would be reduced by 80% as a result of "decontaminating the planet."

They're only words. Like the Utopian words in "My Struggle". Or the words of Sankoth Sar. Or the works of Manuel Rubén Abimael Guzmán Reynoso.

Echoing the biological language that both the Nazis and Soviets used, the Khmer Rouge claimed that enemies were microbes, which, if not removed, would burrow their way into the healthy population. Rotten, infected parts of the population had to be removed and eliminated, and this applied especially to the Vietnamese and Cham.

If someone says that they want to see me and my son exterminated, I believe them. I believe that if they were given power, that is what they'd try to do.

We've had far too many examples of Utopian idealists whose rhetoric was disbelieved: who everyone knew were just engaging in hyperbole, they'd never actually do anything like that in practice - until they were given power, and did it.

I think Mary Daily was just trying to be provocative. I'm glad she's dead though, just in case I'm wrong.

Zoe Brain said...

How many TS people in the US? The best estimates are here.

Birth rate in the USA over the period 1960-1995 was a little over 10%. Call it 30 million a year on average. Thus 6,000 TS people are born per year even using the APA's outdated 1 in 30,000 figures, and 40,000 from figures measured after 1965. Call it 10,000. 50% don't make it to age 20, so a very conservative estimate is 50-100,000 TS people in the US at any one time. This would match the number of reported surgeries per year, and assumes that all TS people have surgery, rather than the 1 in 10 reported. I only count those whose symptoms are extreme, as they're the ones at risk.

60% of TS people are forced into prostitution by the lack of services and the opprobrium they face. Usually at age 14-16. About 80% die before age 25. Call it half of the total.

Those born between 1965 and 1995 are affected by Raymond's report. Call it 300,000. Half die as the result - 150,000. I rounded the figures down by a factor of 3, and didn't include the suicides and homicides of those not forced into prostitution. I also discounted the upper estimate of Conway et al by a factor of 6, to be in accordance with measured surgical numbers.

You end up with a very conservative number of 50,000. It's probably at least double that. It's possible it could be a lot higher.

A figure of 100,000 over the last 30 years, about 3,000 a year, is low compared with the anecdotal evidence, but we'll go with half that to be safe. The homicide rate, and many times greater suicide rate, are almost lost in the noise, perhaps 1,000 a year, not all of which can be attributable in any way to Raymond's report. A substantial proportion are though, as the cost of surgery is the real killer. Literally.

Indirect attribution can be given to the societal attitude fostered by the report. If Transsexuality had been treated as just another congenital anomaly, then it's unlikely so many would die prematurely from other causes - such as exposure and malnutrition - due to lack of employment. While this phenomenon is real, it's unquantifiable, so has been omitted or subsumed in other areas.

The main causes of death in those doing sex work would include STDs, alcohol and drug overdose, hepatitis, cirrhosis, suicide, and violence not counted as a "hate crime" - just another whore found dead somewhere.

Suicide would only be the highest cause of death in those not doing survival sex work. Most of those would be due to being unable to afford treatment.

Oh yes, I also excluded the effect on those older than 16 when the Raymond report was released. The situation even before then wasn't ideal, though far better than today, with most surgical costs being covered by insurance or state assistance, compared with <10% today. Because the vast majority of deaths are amongst teen prostitutes, this is a reasonable omission.

Zoe Brain said...

So many factors omitted in my simplistic analysis - the higher birthrate amongst lower socioeconomic groups, the greater likelihood of parental rejection in those groups, the changing demographic profile of the US population, the delays and hysteresis in implementing the Raymond recommendations, the improvement over the last 5 years... only the last two would diminish the numbers.

Lloyd Flack said...

Remember the paper claiming a huge number of deaths in Iraq as a result of the invasion. The analysis there was in fact quite a valid one. It was the data collection that was what went wrong.

Here everything depends on the data collection being done properly. And people need to know that it was done properly before they can trust the results.

Since you are claiming a very high level of violence against transsexuals and very high levels of other causes of mortality not surprisingly people tend to be sceptical. This is something outside their experience. Remember people were sceptical about the Final Solution too.

To convince outsiders you need studies by trusted, as close to impartial as possible, researchers. You need studies by those without links to the transsexual community of a sort that could be seen as biasing them. Of course there will be those who you cannot convince no matter what. But there are more who can be convinced. You need the involvment of epidemiologists, sociologists and criminologists. They are the ones who will give you and supporters the means to convince those who doubt you.

Studies originating within the transsexual community will not be sufficient. Sometimes they can be useful but when using them you have to go into a lot of detail to justify their conclusions. You need results that come from studies by people with established reputations. They need to be ones whose reputation puts sceptics on the defensive. That is you need to be able to use arguments from authority. Often you do ot have the opportunity to do more.

Carolyn Ann said...

Zoe, while your numbers and suppositions make sense within their realm, they are not proven. You make a good number of vague assumptions. For instance: How many TS's enter prostitution? And at what age? The actual suicide rate within the TS community, and can the suicide be ascribed to the victim's transsexuality? (I know of at least one case where such an assumption would be woefully wrong: mine.) You also do not consider that some unknown number of TS's simply muddle through as best they can.

As an example of why I think your scale is wrong: according to Wikipedia, admittedly not the most authoritative source, there were 3,437 lynchings between 1882 and 1968. That's certainly far too low a number, but it's unknowable exactly how many blacks were lynched.

For the violence, either self-inflicted, or caused by others, against transgendered individuals, to reach the magnitude you propose, you would literally need a concerted effort from far too many groups. Including official ones. The magnitude of difference between the number of lynchings and your casual calculations has some staggering implications - ones that should have caused you to pause and wonder. Heck, the number itself, along with your assertion that it could be up to ten times higher should have made you pause!

You also assert that Mary Daly and Janice Raymond are responsible for *all* those deaths. And that those two are responsible for the prevailing animosity toward the transgendered. Are they really so powerful? Or did they simply reflect a contemporary attitude? You make it sound like America is on the path toward some perverted transgender-forcussed Fascism!

Many anti-trans Evangelicals wouldn't care for Ms Daly or Ms Raymond, and yet they hold transphobic opinions. You failed to take that into account, as well. You also didn't think of the "Matthew Shepherd" affect. Violence on the scale you suggest would cause entire communities to wonder what they were doing wrong.

Any estimates on the number of prostitutes, male, female and transgendered, in the US? By your argument the number of transgendered prostitutes shouldn't be proportional to the overall number of prostitutes. I'd be interested in seeing such a comparison.

I know from your previous writings that you are not particularly fond of America - it's possible to argue that you're "somewhat" anti-American - but please give credit to a society that embraces such extremism as Mary Daly's, the Reverend Phelps' and others, without the actual murders and beatings taking place. It's had its ups and downs, but to accuse two women who reflected extreme positions (they didn't derive them) of being responsible for 50,000 to 500,000 deaths? Isn't that a bit extreme of you?

As an atheist, I can assure you that there are plenty of folk who would like to see me 6 foot underfoot, but I do not wish them the same fate they want for me. I'm not saying, and never would say, that anyone has to like Ms Daly's opinions and writings, but to celebrate her death, to celebrate the death of an old has-been? That she would celebrate yours, and mine, simply means you stoop to her level.

Alas, you reveal more about your own prejudices than you show about the influence of two extremists.

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

Battybattybats, if you're referring to Hitler as a military opponent, then yes - he was quite the adversary. If you are referring to Hitler the "political" thinker, then yes: he was quite an adversary. His virulent hatred for Jews, gays, gypsies and so many others still needs active countering.

Comparing Mary Daly to Hitler is also a little strange. While her views re the transgendered were reprehensible, she was, once, a worthy opponent. Of late, she was a has-been, superseded by others. I am, I will note, ignoring the whole "Godwin's Law" thing.

On the other hand, I would not say that the Reverend Phelps' was a worthy opponent. There's no intellectual effort behind his homophobia and transphobia. Or his virulent anti-Semitism.

But I will argue that just because Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are similarly casual and lacking in thought, that they are not worthy opponents - they are. They quite formidable adversaries, indeed! I think they are idiots, but I'm quite sure they would consider me to be one, too. (This opinion is, apparently, shared by a few others.) My opinion of them is not a guide to whether they are worthwhile opponents. If you have political influence, you can be considered a worthy opponent. Reverend Phelps wields no influence, while Mr Beck and Mrs Palin do. That makes the Rev Phelps' uninteresting, except for ridicule, and the other two worth paying attention to. Their influence and staying power makes them very worthy opponents.

By the way, "Hitler" has become an adjective; as such, it doesn't need a title. (Some people know I have an opinion on such things.)

Sun Tzu had a lot to say on understanding your enemy. A lot of it was about comprehending yourself, but he had a much to say about knowing your enemy. After all, how do you defeat that which you don't understand? Understanding Ms Daly's hatred of the transgendered is a most urgent task, if we are to believe Zoe's numbers. I'd argue that it is urgent, but not because of Zoe's implausible numbers. I will also assert that it is something the transgender community has singularly failed to do. It has ridiculed the people holding those views, but never addressed the views themselves. As a collective, the transgender community seems to be more intent on getting mad at those making the assertions than in countering them. When they do take the time, the logic is usually so faulty you can drive a bus, a truck and a train through it. At least one person is ghastly enough to wish the death of those who hold those views!

That's not understanding your opponent. That's vilifying them. It's cheap, it's easy and it's stupid. Just because your opponents don't take the time to understand you (generic "you" & "your", by the way) doesn't mean a thing. That's merely something to be exploited.

So yes, Ms Daly, Ms Greer, and so on are worthy opponents. Again: how do you counter and diminish that which you don't understand?

Carolyn Ann

Battybattybats said...

There is a world of difference between difficult opponents and worthy ones.

A worthy adversary, assuming we buy into the whole notion of honourable conflict in the first place, is one that can be respected and admired.

Merely being powerful and difficult to defeat does not make them worthy. Just powerful.

Going by my Grandfather's personal views from fighting in Africa and the pacific in ww2 Rommel was a worthy opponent, not so Hitler nor the particular Japanese he fought and was imprisoned by.

Zoe Brain said...

They identified 117 definite or probable deaths and had sufficient information on 100 to calculate a crude mortality rate (CMR) of 391 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval (CI): 314, 471). In comparison with the general population, the standardized mortality ratio (SMR), adjusted for age and race, was 1.9 (95% CI: 1.5, 2.3).

Mortality in a Long-term Open Cohort of Prostitute Women by Potterat et al
Am J Epidemiol 2004; 159:778-785

I was basing my calculations on generalised prostitute mortality, plus measured figures of rates of prostitution amongst transsexual women.

The trouble is that some of these figures are known to be wildly inaccurate: the one stating that there are only 53,000 sex workers in the whole of the USA for example. Thus only 400 deaths per annum across the US, vs a measured 100+ in just one county.

Carolyn Ann said...

Zoe, you're saying that you know the numbers are inaccurate, but you used them, anyway?

If you acknowledge that the numbers you based your assertion on are known to be inaccurate - then you have to agree that your assertion is equally inaccurate! And if that's the case, why make the assertion in the first place?

I'm puzzled: it's not like you to make unsustainable assertions.

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

Battybattybats, I didn't consider "formidable" for an alternative description. It didn't occur to me because formidable has a different meaning; I don't think Mary Daly would have been a formidable opponent. Germaine Greer, on the other hand, I would consider both formidable and worthy.

Someone can be formidable, and not be a worthy opponent. It's a loosely defined concept; a lot looser than I originally perceived. You classify someone as a worthy opponent somewhat differently to how I do. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you apply a value judgment that I don't?

My derivation comes from the fact that if someone is worth arguing with, they are - by the rules of English - also a worthy opponent. What makes them worth arguing with is (necessarily) subjective and entirely too messy and ill-defined to be summarized.

Carolyn Ann

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I believe all's fair in love and war, and it's certainly not love we face.

Zoe Brain said...

Carolyn Ann - Lloyd made a reasonable request for objective data from unbiased sources.
I used those whenever I could, as long as they passed a Sanity Check.

As an analogy, if an objective source said the distance between New York and San Francisco was between 1000km and 10,000km, I went for the 1000km figure as being the minimum distance, and used that - while saying it was probably much higher, maybe 3 times higher.

If it said "we know this is really inaccurate, but our best guess is 26 millimeters" then I discarded it as provably silly.

When sane, objective data was available, I used that rather than sane, trans-specific data. Usually no objective data was available.

The data for prostitute mortality reliably shows that they have a 200-fold increase compared to the local population. How many are in sex work is another matter, as is how many trans women are in in sex work. Both of those figures have very little objective data behind them, they're all from advocacy groups. That's because no-one else cares about gathering the data.

50,000 over 30 years works out at only 1700 a year.

(2000): "The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75,000), toxic agents (55,000), motor vehicle crashes (43,000), incidents involving firearms (29,000), sexual behaviors (20,000), and illicit use of drugs (17,000).
Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 19, 2005, Vol. 293, No. 3, p. 298.)

Battybattybats said...

Carolyn Ann,

My Oxford Australian English Dictionary from 1987 says (as best i can type it):

Worthy a. & n. 1. a estimable, having some moral worth, of a fair degree of merit, respectable, (has lived a worthy life); (with a patronising effect,cf. HONEST) no more than moderately estimable. 2. deserving of or to be or do, (arch) deserving of, (is worthy of or worthy rememberance or being remembered; is worthy to be remembered). 3. corressponding to the worth of or (arch) of, adequate, appropriate, of sufficient worth or merit, (in words worthy of or worthy the occassion; he is not worthy of her). 4. hence ~ily adv., ~iness n. 5. worthy person; person of some distinction in his country, time, etc; (joe.) person [ME. wurthi etc., f. WORTH]

So the meaning I ascribe to the word is substantially part of the standard primary definition of the word. It doesn't preclude the meaning you intended but it nevertheless remains. One of the benefits of English as a language for art is it's vagueries and nebulous alternative or variable meanings in nearly every word.

By the way my Mum's a linguist ;)

I do not see that the arguments of Daly or Raymond related to transgender or Hitler related to anything have positively contributed at all and so see that they have no worth.

The need to oppose them however is worthy indeed. So they are not worthy opponents but it is worthy to oppose them and fighting them is a worthy action.

Carolyn Ann said...

Zoe, my apologies for not responding sooner. Frozen pipes, I have to admit, struck me as more urgent!

I understand that you perceive nothing "wrong" with your numbers, your assumptions or your summaries. In the morning, I will try to run my own models, using your numbers and tolerances. I may make different assumptions, however. (I will try to explain the differences, and why I made a different assumption.) I'll publish the results. To be perfectly honest, I don't know, yet, if I will have the time. I have a couple of deadlines fast approaching, and today's plumbing shenanigans put me too far behind for comfort.

If you applied your reasoning to the search of minima for some arbitrary function, you would be rightly scolded for laxity. You would also, likely as not, completely fail to detect how localized your minima actually is. Let's say you need to know the minima for a range of numbers, and someone proposed a solution that had an error range of 9% one way, and 1,000% the other - would you accept that they have solved the problem of how to figure if "that" number is the lowest possible for the original range?

Your assertion that the number of deaths could be ten times higher is absolutely unsupportable. Do you mean to persuade me, and others, that 500,000 transgendered individuals have died - as a result of Ms Raymond's report and Ms Daly's attitudes - within the last 30 years? That would be 16,666.6 transgendered individuals, within the United States, dying each year, with at least the majority of those deaths being ascribed to Janice Raymond's report! While it is just plausible that 16,000 plus transgendered individuals do die each year, to ascribe their deaths to one obscure report is a little far-fetched.

Error ranges of 15,000 individuals per year simply don't work! That's a 1,000% difference. If you stated that the number is unknowable, that would accurate. But you ascribed definite quantities, and admitted that you don't know either exact numbers, or what the range of error is. Nor did you account for time, all the while insisting that your time span was 30 years.

Or was it 40 years? After all, you admit you used 40 year old data from a radically different region as your starting point! America is a nation, Scandinavia a region. The differences in health care, political attitudes, politics, economic and fiscal policies, education systems, cost of living, religious sentiment, and so on make the comparison so dubious as to be worthless. Your starting point was erroneous.

Also, no one has any real idea how many transgendered people are born, each year. We don't know the difference in that population between 2008 and 2009, let alone over a 30 or 40 year timespan! Are there any environmental factors? (An example might be the high rate of twins in mid-60's Britain. Or the fertility drugs that led to families of 5, 6, 7 or more children. We don't know if there were any other drugs pregnant women were taking that might have affected the number of transgendered individuals being born. Were there any drugs that reduced the number of transgendered babies? We don't know. And as a result, you can't make assertive claims about the affects of one obscure report from 30 years ago. America is a different place in 2010 to what it was in 1990! I'm reliably told it was different again, in 1980.

Basically, your argument can't stand. If a meth-addicted, transgendered prostitute (who hasn't been able to afford SRS) dies of complications from AIDS in the next 12 months, is that death because of Janice Raymond's report, her drug habit, her prostitution, or the complications of AIDS? If she contracted AIDS from a needle, how is Ms Raymond responsible for that death?

There are too many, easily identifiable, problems with your assertions in this.

Carolyn Ann

Carolyn Ann said...

Battybattybats, English is, indeed, a wonderful language.

Here's the American Oxford Dictionary, from Snow Leopard. So I think the copyright date is 2009.

worthy |ˈwərðē|
adjective ( -thier , -thiest )
deserving effort, attention, or respect : generous donations to worthy causes.
• having or showing the qualities or abilities that merit recognition in a specified way : issues worthy of further consideration.
• good enough; suitable : no composer was considered worthy of the name until he had written an opera.
noun ( pl. -thies) often derogatory or humorous
a person notable or important in a particular sphere : schools governed by local worthies.

Quite a difference!

I count "worthy" as deserving attention, even if I do not think that person is worth my respect. (Glenn Beck, for instance.)

I was somewhat disappointed, in early to mid 1990, to discover that Oscar Wilde had made the observation that England and America were two nations divided by a common language. He made the comment about 100 years prior to my making it. I think Mark Twain also made the same observation.

(Small world: there's a couple of linguists in my family! :-) )

C'est la Anglais. Or whatever it is in French...

Carolyn Ann

Zoe Brain said...

Carolyn Ann - when the root cause is a child being ejected from her home, because transsexuality is looked on as not merely a moral perversion, but a political one - does it really matter what the exact mechanism is that kills her?

By all means do an analysis, using different assumptions. See if we get within the same order of magnitude.

I fear though that the uncertainties will give us huge error bars. e.g. How many single-vehicle accidents are actually suicides?

Carolyn Ann said...

My analysis of your numbers and argument is here.

Kudos to you for trying... But you were wrong. Sorry.

Your original error was assuming a 30 million annual population growth; it grows by about that in a decade. Even when I corrected your number to 3,000,000 per annum, I couldn't get your numbers to "fit". Where you should have 210,000 you have 300,000. Where you discuss the last 30 years, you use the 35 years from 1960 to 1995 as your reference.

I couldn't verify your 60% (enter prostitution) and 80% (die as a result) claims; nor could I verify your claim that 50% of transgendered individuals die before they reach 25. I didn't try to quantify any but the 50% death rate. It was impossible to extract the correct population percentages from the available data. I did try, using a 24.3% under 18 population rate (US Census, 2008 estimate).

Your overall argument, upon close inspection, was a bit muddled, too. It wasn't just your reference points that kept changing, it was the point you were making, as well. I read through your words with a lot of care, so I hope there aren't any mistakes in my summarizing of them!

I hope the tables format okay in your browser; I don't know what you use. (I'm not asking!) They looked okay in Safari 4, on Snow Leopard 10.6.2. There was one problem, but it was minor and I'm not an HTML expert, and wouldn't know how to solve it. (A mismatch on a column; easily perceived and accounted for.)

If you're interested, I can email you the spreadsheet. I don't know if it will translate to Excel, however. I used Apple Numbers from iWork 09. (I was tempted to use Excel - many consider me an expert on the app - but I decided to use Numbers, instead. About half way through, I was really tempted to use Excel. Numbers has some serious user-interface deficiencies for someone who has about 20 years of Excel-trained muscle memory!

Anyway, thanks for the challenge.

Carolyn Ann