Friday, 18 January 2013

They've got form (Part I)

Regarding the recent brouhaha over Julie Burchill's recent article in the Observer, republished (and then taken down) on the Guardian website, and re-re-published at her request in the Telegraph, an article referring to Trans people as "Shims" and "She-males", "Dicks in chick's clothing" etc...
The Guardian said it best, the last time this happened. Or rather, one of the last times - it happened again and again afterwards too.
On January 31 the Guardian's Weekend magazine published the first of two articles by the lesbian feminist Julie Bindel, written in the place recently vacated by Julie Burchill....
Ms Nixon was referred to as "she" in quotation marks....
Further into the piece there was a reference to Kwik-Fit sex changes, and the injunction to "think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease." The column concluded: "To go back to my five men and a toilet, I don't have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s does not make you a man...."
The Guardian was also criticised for the caricature illustration used with the column - a hairy-chested tattooed figure in a dress with a badge reading "I'm a lady."...
Pretty awful stuff, though Burchll's article is even worse. The Guardian goes on to say :
Dismay at the piece was registered not only by transsexual people but by doctors, therapists, academics and others involved in the field. One therapist wrote: "Transgendered people would like to go about their lives in peace and dignity." This column, which obscured any argument in discriminatory language, would not help them to do that. It abused an already abused minority that the Guardian might have been expected to protect.
Meanwhile, Suzanne Moore claims in a follow-up article that it's all about "Freedom of Speech". The same argument as last time. And the many times before.
She might have been more convincing if she wasn't simultaneously using threats of legal action to silence even the mildest, most indirect critique of her own most innocuous article.
From her Twitter account:
suzanne moore @ Read this piece of shit and Pink News will hear from my lawyers in the morning :

This "piece of shit" as she puts it reads:

According to the ‘Guerrilla Angel Report’ blog site, it is claimed the victim, named by the site as Cecilia Marahouse, worked as a performer and that the shooting took place near Fortaleza, north-eastern Brazil, on 11 January 2013.

She is described as being a “well known” figure among the area’s LGBT community.

Earlier this week, British journalist Suzanne Moore apologised for suggesting women were expected to look like “Brazilian transsexuals” in an article published first in the New Statesman and then in the Guardian newspaper.

Several prominent LGBT journalists, trans campaigners and commentators, criticised her use of the term and considered it to be insensitive, not least because more than 100 trans people were reported killed in Brazil during 2012.

International statistics compiled by the Trans Respect Monitoring Project identified at least 265 trans people murdered between 2011 – 2012, an increase of 20% on figures from 2010.

85% of reported killings took place in Latin America, with 45% in Brazil alone.

"Freedom of Speech" for me but not for thee, apparently.


Jenna said...

Hmm, I thought that part of what caused Ms Burchill to rant was that her friend Suzanne was driven off Twitter by people.
Doesn't seem to have kept her off there for long then.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne Moore has freedom of speech. She is completely free to say whatever nonsense pops into her empty little head. The problem she is struggling with now, is that when she's finished pouting off her offensive tripe, we, all of us in the entire world, are also completely free to exercise our own freedom of speech and to let her know how stupid, hateful, insensitive and idiotic her ridiculous tripe really is.

She is a Journalist. Up until the irth of social networking she has lived a sheltered life, spewing out her nonsense from behind the protection of an editor and the machinery of the Press. The outrage raised by her thoughtlessness was previously intercepted and blunted by her Editors so she did not have to reap the full return she had earned. This is no longer the case. She ventures out alone into the deep end of the wild internet, and didn't much like the reception she got. She thought that her privilege as a member of the Press would insulate her and was shocked when it didn't. She went looking for controversy and was surprised when she got more than she bargained for.

She was called rude names and told in no uncertain terms that being thoughtless is not a good strategy. So, having heard the wisdom of the internet did she learn, grow and apologise for her thoughtlessness? No, she declared herself a victim of bullying, deleted her Twitter account in an overdramatic huff and fled with her tail between her legs, calling in her own cadre of bullies to cover her retreat.

My heart bleeds for her.


Anonymous said...

"No, she declared herself a victim of bullying, deleted her Twitter account in an overdramatic huff and fled with her tail between her legs, calling in her own cadre of bullies to cover her retreat."
The same behavior found on transsexuals sites. Few people can stand others pointing out their poor behavior in public.

We do not have to live together. Individuals should not be forced to accept every other behavior.


Anonymous said...

I would strongly disagree with you and commentators approach to this. Saying that women have to live up to the expectation of looking like a Brazilian Transsexual is not derogatory in the least and the outrage over her use of that term was completely ridiculous.

The backlash from Julie Burchill in response was visceral for sure, and employed inappropriate language and of course a threat. It was however a response that is guaranteed speech under the freedom of speech in modern society. If you don't like it stop reading her.

Political correctness has reach a fever pitch which in fact has become full blown censure. What the TG crowd does not understand though is that they keep shooting themselves in the foot.

Women get steamrolled as usual and no one ever seems to ask what their views and judgements are. You complain about some trans people being called she-males and dicks in chicks clothing. The sad truth is that it may simply be a statement of fact rather than a slur.

But no one ever seems to see that.


Anonymous said...

Kathrine, your cis privilege is showing. The outrage was not about her "brazilian transsexuals" comment. It was about how she responded to the quite legitimate and mild criticism about that comment which caused the outrage. Here, read the course of events:
Note very carefully that the person who complained about her comment was not a trans woman, yet Moore immediately went into frothing about trans women, raising all the usual tropes about "cutting off dicks" and "you chose to be offended".

This entire exchange is about freedom of speech. Anyone has the complete freedom to make a complete arse of themselves in public. But in return, every one of us has the equal freedom to tell the arse in question exactly how much of an arse they really are. People did just that, and Moore flounced rather than apologise for the offense she caused.

Also, you downplay the power the Media gives people like Burchill Her causal hatred directed at a vulnerable minority can be lethal. Even as the "Brazilian transsexual" controversy was happening, a Brazilian trans woman was shot 6 times and killed simply for the crime of existing.
Hate speech is not free speech. Don't try to claim that it is.


Zoe Brain said...

My thanks to commenters for keeping things respectful, regardless of your views.

It's really appreciated when there is so emotionally charged an issue.

Please continue in the same vein.

Also - welcome Katherine, I think you're new here? Thanks for disagreeing so politely. I think you could give Ms Moore lessons on that.. I fear Ms Burchill is irredeemable.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, the mild criticism was not so mild. In fact it was like this:

..."thank you suzanne moore for once again confirming you are, in fact, a completely horrific sack of trash;

...Suzanne Moore is not a feminist. Suzanne Moore is a piss stain on the pants of fascism.

...lop off suzanne moore's spine, imo why do you hate trans people and think that that's ok you bigotted shit

...Fuck you; Suzanne Moore, you cunt;

These are just a few examples to a avalanche of similar remarks on Suzanne Moore's twitter account.

That is what Burchill reacted to. Moore's remark was occassioned by an Associated Press report in which it stated: "The trans-models have a proverbial leg up on their female colleagues. Unlike even the thinnest of women, without cellulite and stretch marks ... "

Her remark in the original article was :"We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.”

Burchill's remarks as inappropriate as they are respond to an outrageous assault on Suzanne Moore. You speak of cis-privilege. Quite frankly, I consider that a cop out employed to somehow discredit what I have to say. Which is a polemic tactic that should not be used in proper discourse.

Burchill actually did not incite hatred which is a necessary element of hate speech. In fact she did not even say anything close to MtF not being women. What she said was:

To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.

Just consider for a moment the real content here. It seems to me that the "pleading of special privilege" is at the heart of her complaint.

In this case you have a mob running the show. Too bad, because in fact this could have been a real learning moment for TG people. If you are women as you claim, behave like real women and take the lumps that come with being a woman.


Zoe Brain said...

Kathryn - none off those comments were by Trans women though.

It takes some time to look through the profiles, but only two - Savannah and Juliet Serano - were Trans.

One gay guy, 4 cis feminists, 2 professional trolls, and some 4chan script kiddies, in the samples you quoted. No Trans women at all.

Anonymous said...

Katherine, you dodged the fact that those happened after Moore went off her nut with her transphobic ranting, and as Zoe mentioned none of those people who said those awful things were actually trans. I'll say that again because it's important. None of the trans people engaged in the exchange posted any threats, insults or any other bad behaviour. You're blaming the wrong people here. Burchill is balming the wrong people. What you're doing is called victim blaming.

Read my link again. See what actually happened, not what you want to think actually happened.

Yes, the people who attacked Moore after she went off the deep end were wrong. This is the internet, and GIFTed people abound:
But blame the people who actually did it, not the people Moore slandered.

Now, I want you to explain to me just exactly what is "special" about me wanting to have the exact same rights and privileges that you have? What is "special" about equality, equal treatment and freedom from bigotry? "Special rights" is the rallying cry of the haters, 'phobes and bigots who are actually the ones who want the special right to continue to legally oppress others. Tell me exactly what is so "special" about not wanting to be discriminated against. I really want to know.


Anonymous said...

"Tell me exactly what is so "special" about not wanting to be discriminated against. I really want to know."

Society and culture use peer pressure instead of forced laws to keep calm in the population. Discrimination is needed for survival. No group should be protected more than another and no group is harmed by words alone. We have laws against physical harm and an individual needs to learn how to control emotions and actions due to word use that is called discrimination.


Zoe Brain said...

Jody - speech of this nature can, and has, killed.

The reason the Guardian backtracked in 2004 over a similar, milder piece was that they had therapists telling them how many marginal patients were pushed over the edge by it.

A young girl who's been rejected by her family, recovering from the depression caused by violent assault and rape, rejected by the local rape crisis centre, seeing that article in an influential and liberal national newspaper, might well give up.

That's not an extreme case. Worse than average, yes, but there are worse still.

Those like myself, who have got privilege oozing out of our ears, who have a voice, have to speak for those not so lucky. Or we can't face ourselves in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

"I want you to explain to me just exactly what is "special" about me wanting to have the exact same rights and privileges that you have?"

I think the point that you are missing is the purpose and thrust of the original article by Syzanne Moore. It was to make vocally clear the oppression experienced by women by virtue of the modern paternal body images for women. That is what the comparison was about.

I don't know what your status is. I don't even know if you are transsexual or gender variant. But the special privilege lies in expecting anything other than the protections your target gender affords. We all want to be free from discrimination. In this case a strong stance to support what Suzanne Moore said initially, namely that women are expected to have impossible bodies might have gone a long way.

And trampling on women by claiming your status as a TG entitles you greater protections is a strange proposition. It appears to reveal that you may not know what women experience. It is a claim where you value your pain more important than that of others. And to claim that those other must prefer to support you and be silent about their own needs. Alas, that is what women do, and if they raise their voices in their own protection as they did here they are considered transphobic.


Anonymous said...

“We all want to be free from discrimination.”
No we do not. We dress different and choose different places to live and different cars, to discriminate us from someone else. We eat different foods and color our hair differently to be discriminate from others. Discrimination is a good thing. Violence is against the law no matter who you are. We do not live in an age of the “Minority Report” you can not 100% expect words to create harm. Many unstable people are that way because of the post modern age that has over populated our world and substituting nature with technology. Depression is an issue or not learning to control emotions. Drug companies have made it worse as 32 million Americans are drugged to be happy. Privilege is earned by hard work and willingness to accept criticism. There is no such thing as luck it is cause and effect. If you want to look in the mirror 5000 children and 23000 adults die each day due to lack of clean water or food. 3 billion live on less than $2 a day. The developed world is 16% of the world population that uses 75% of the world resources. The mirror tells me that discrimination is why I have not committed suicide.

Anonymous said...

Kathryn (I misspelled your name prior to this, and for that I apologise) said:
"I think the point that you are missing is the purpose and thrust of the original article by Syzanne Moore."

No, we are not missing that point. The quite excellent theme of Moore's article is not actually the subject of this discussion. That it is getting lost is a great pity, and it is entirely Moore's own fault because it was her loss of her own temper which caused this mess in the first place. Nobody else made her say what she did. Nobody forced those words down her throat, and nobody held a gun to her head and made her write them.

This discussion is about Moore's transphobia, her thoughtlessness in choosing that particular turn of phrase and her ridiculous overreaction when it was pointed out to her. Couple that with Burchill's appalling hate-filled screed written in Moore's defence and aimed at exactly the wrong target and we reach the point of this exchange. Again you dodge away from the topic to cast blame on people who did not do what you're accusing them of doing.

And you avoid answering my question. You claim that trans women "trample on women" and "demand greater protections". You are trying to play Oppression Olympics here. You are playing Derailing for Dummies.
You dodge, you make claims and do not back them up, and by doing that, you admit that you do not actually have an argument you can use to counter my points.

I do not value my pain more than others, I value it exactly the same. That's what equality means. In contrast, you demonstrate that you clearly believe that it is actually you who values herself more than me. Again you try victim blaming. You have clearly not learned anything from this exchange. You claim again that trans women “demand greater protections” without producing any evidence that this is the case, as if you believe that the bare assertion is enough to carry the point.

Now once again: Tell me exactly what is so "special" about wanting equality. Do not try to dodge, do not attempt to play Oppression Olympics, do not try any more of your games.

Tell me what part of equality is "special".
Tell me exactly how wanting equality "tramples on women".
Tell me exactly what part of "equal rights" is "greater protection".
You have so far failed to prove any of these assertions, yet you keep repeating them as though you expect mere repetition will make them magically come true.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing about equality. But what exactly is that you wish to equalize? I do not understand your point of this without you telling me how Suzanne Moore's article treated you or any other TG unequal.

Formal equality is, in my respectful view, nonsense. If you ask that a man and a woman lift weights for money and pay by the gram then equality means nothing. It's inequitable.

As I said I don't know your status but the recent cases of Collen Francis and or Jay Ladin which led to the censure of his former spouse are just such examples of how special protections are now being afforded to trans-somethings, who claim by their say to be women. How is that equality? How is that not a demand for greater protection of a privilege which men have foisted on women since time began.

In Francis case (and here the TG Lobby supported her) he swung his male genitals though a female locker room frequented by 14-16 year old girls. Take Ladin, he wrote about his wife this:

'Rather than swallowing her pain and focusing on my mine, she decided to fight for her life. If I had been faithless, she would be faithful.

If I denied the reality of the man she loved, she would mourn and defend him.'

Ladin "Through the door of Life"

How is that not a claim that his pain was to be supported no matter how she felt.

I am sure you are feeling quite chum about how you put this woman in her place by the way. Your last comment was exceedingly patronizing, so cut it out.


Anonymous said...

Kathryn, you degender women, you dodge the point, you invent specious comparisons and you throw in red herrings. The case you mention has exactly nothing to so with "special protections" and you know it. It says a great deal about how bankrupt your stance is when you need to lie to support it.

I also note the snide way that you equate all trans women to a criminal. That also has been afavourite tactic of the 'phobes and haters.

If Moore or Burchill had vented their spleens at cis women they way they did at trans women, you would have been screaming for their dismissal and rightfully seeking for criminal charges. Yet because they chose trans women to abuse, you cheer them on.

You are not letting yourself understand the reality of the situation. You repeatedly insist that trans women are men, which is and always has been a complete and utter lie.

I did not seek to "put this woman in her place". I sought to teach you some realities trans women face in order to correct what I now realise are your deliberately maintained misconceptions.

Fine, then. Be wrong. Continue to maintain the status quo. But know that by your lack of action, your attitude and your lack of empathy, you bear your share of the responsibility for the deaths of several hundred of the most margainalised women in the world each year.
Since you refuse to become part of the solution, you remain part of the problem. There are none so blond as those who refuse to see.


Zoe Brain said...

Please, a little more light, a little less heat.

Words like "snide" whether accurate or not aren't helpful.

This is an issue where both sides are in the right at least somewhat - for example, can we all agree that all women get the short end of the stick in many ways?

One side does appear to be completely oblivious to its privilege - the other aware of its own, but minimising it as it's not relevant here.

I better clarify that: a trans man gains male privilege after transition - but not cis privilege. Moreover, he's not been socialised as male, nor as female (and that's what cis people don't understand).

He's always seen life through a boy's eyes, even when treated like a girl when young. Apart from the torment of being a trans child (again, cis people don't understand), this has to leave a lasting impression. He's aware of the oppression of women in a very visceral way that other men are not.

Ben Barres has written a lot about this. He's still angry that he's treated better now than when he presented as Barbera.

Trans women get a double whammy - losing both male privilege and cis privilege. They were raised as male, but it didn't stick despite all the obvious advantages. They always saw the world through girl's eyes. Socialised as male they were not, any more than any other girl could be.

I'm using a binary boy/girl model here, it's useful in this context, please forgive me. When we're talking about feminism, we pretty much have to.

Now as for cis-privilege... please have a look at this post. The facts say more than any amount of rhetoric.

Zoe Brain said...

Jessica - you can use hyperlinks and the > and < characters in html

Is the string

<a href=""></a>

Anonymous said...

I will not escalate things any farther. Katheryn refuses to allow herself to admit the truth. There is no point in continuing this fruitless exchange.


Zoe Brain said...

Please don't flounce - see how that made Suzanne Moore look.

Ok, she came back. Twice. And also had a piece in a national newspaper about how her voice was being silenced.

Logic doesn't appear to be her strong suit. However, I should let the facts speak for themselves, and not editorialise.

They're more eloquent than I am.

Anonymous said...

first of all, i had to google 'cis'. Years ago, i would have used the word 'straight'. Its not relevant to his discussion, but when did it go from 'straight' to 'cis' ?

Zoe said ..

I better clarify that: a trans man gains male privilege after transition - but not cis privilege. Moreover, he's not been socialised as male, nor as female (and that's what cis people don't understand).

while i accept that a trans male doesnt gain civ privileges - like being able to get married, but I would have felt that prior to transition, people would have treated him as the sex they saw him, so there would have been socialisation.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm not flouncing Zoe, I'm just abandoning a futile endeavour. The horse, having been led to water, refuses to drink.

Dear Anonymous above: It went from straight to cis when we stopped talking about sexuality and started talking about gender. Here's a little Trans 101 for you.

No, there would not have been socialisation. Not completely. Would you internalise being treated as the wrong gender? Why do you expect trans people to do so?


Sophie said...

One of the more interesting comments, in terms of perhaps giving an insight into Suzanne Moore's particular thing, came in the comments section to her non apology piece. Someone related the story of actually having been a good friend of SM until transitioning - at which point SM totally dropped them and never contacted again. Predictable.

Anonymous said...

"Trans women get a double whammy - losing both male privilege and cis privilege. They were raised as male, but it didn't stick despite all the obvious advantages. They always saw the world through girl's eyes. Socialised as male they were not, any more than any other girl could be."

What you are presuming is that male privilege is only something externally imposed. While that is partially true through socialization it has a biological background and in combination with socialization becomes a powerful motivator. Not so easily lost simply because you transition. As was demonstrated above. You do not simply lose male privilege because you state you are a woman now.

Jessica did change the conversation (although I think maybe she did not even notice) and imposed her preferred questions on me, then when I refused to go there (although I eventually did) essentially called me a hater and became dismissive. I am confronted with that every day in my discourse with men. Patting someone on the head and telling them they are either stupid or a hater is standard fare for women, every day. But that fact seems to get lost in the shuffle.

Zoe Brain said...

What you are presuming is that male privilege is only something externally imposed. While that is partially true through socialization it has a biological background and in combination with socialization becomes a powerful motivator.

Well, if it has a biological background - I never had it.

I was diagnosed biologically as a severely androgenised non-pregnant woman. Biologically female. That was at the start of transition, before any medical intervention.

However, I see exactly zero difference between myself and the more usual trans woman - suggesting that if there is any biological component at all, it's negligible.

A more important thing when it comes to male privilege is not how I see myself; for I never was convinced I was male. It's irrelevant. It's entirely how others see me.

Zoe Brain said...

first of all, i had to google 'cis'. Years ago, i would have used the word 'straight'. Its not relevant to his discussion, but when did it go from 'straight' to 'cis' ?

It didn't. Straight is another concept.

For example, I'm straight, cis-gendered, but effectively trans-sexual.

1) Attracted to the opposite sex
2) Fitting rather more than less into society's expected behaviour patterns for my sex
3) Having crossed biologically from one sex's external appearance to the other.

I have cis-gendered privilege, heteronormative privilege, but not cis-sexual privilege. Though I even have a little of the latter as my appearance, voice etc is not that anomalous. It's only when I have medical issues, or issues to do with my birth certificate or past history, that I have problems.

For example I have to do a 600km round-trip for a 15 min endo appointment, as none of the local endo's deal with "my kind".

Anonymous said...

thanks all.

trans 101 mentioned how straight isnt the same as cis. It also started off with the useful line 'Sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears'.

'hir' and 'ze' got me since their meaning was explained explained after it was used, but i got there in the end


Anonymous said...

Yes, I changed the conversation. I changed it from one where Kathryn was trying to derail it into one where she couldn't do that. I changed it into one which exposed her biased opinions and stereotypes for what they really are. I changed her multiple attempts to make trans women the villains of piece into a confession which highlighted those attempts for what they were.

All in all a good day's work.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jessica,

Your commentary throughout just reveals the bias, prejudice, and your assumptions. You accuse me of being cis-gendered and biased, you accuse me of comparing trans women to criminals, you accuse me of lack of empathy, and finally that I make trans women the villains.

It is sad and of course laughable. Apparently, according to you transwomen are not women, they are transwomen. Has it ever occurred to you that this view in itself reveals the special status you are seeking. And you seek to elevate yourself and other transwomen above women. The lesser man in you is showing.

Whatever I have to say will clearly not find fertile ground on your scorched earth. I wish you good circulation and hope that you have a great life. Alas, I wonder if your anger will permit that.

Having overcome the medical condition of transsexualism myself, people like you just make me sad.


Anonymous said...

Kathryn, you prove that you cannot answer my points by once again attempting to dodge and confuse the issue.

There is no "accusation" to you being cis. Cis is a description, as valueless and judgement-free as "tall" or "blue". That you see it as an accusation says a great deal about how you see trans people.

As for the rest, anyone reading our exchange will see the truth of the matter. They will see you equating all trans women to a criminal, they will see your bias and they will see your lack of empathy. They will see the multiple times you call trans women men. They will see your multiple attempts to derail the conversation away from the subject. They will see your attempt at fearmongering around trans women in locker rooms. They will see your distortions and they will see you repeating the lies Burchill trotted out. They will see your multiple attempts to twist the facts and make trans women the villains of the piece. All that is up there in black and white, alongside your constant attempts to Other trans women and make it it appear that we are seeking some kind of mythical "Special" status. Look at you, you just did it right there, right before you degendered me yet again, proving that it actually is you who doesn't consider trans women to be women, consistent with everything else you've said throughout this exchange. You attempt once again to force your words down my throat, and to make it appear that I am doing what you are doing. Too bad I'm not going to let it work. I call bullshit yet again.

You keep claiming that trans people want "special" status, yet you keep dodging my questions when I ask you to define exactly what that "special" status is.

What is "special" about equality? You have consistently avoided this question, so either prove your point, or admit that you have no proof.