Your Silence Will Not Protect You

“Your silences will not protect you… We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language and definition.

I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’ Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, ‘disappeared’ or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you…

And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”  – Audre Lorde

Love without Boundaries

Words of wisdom from transsexual Corinna Cohn:

“Love without boundaries is corrupted love. Justice without mercy is corrupted justice. Kindness without honesty is corrupted kindness. Inclusion without fairness is corrupted inclusion. No virtue can stand by itself without its balancing virtue and still be wholesome.

Arguments made by isolating one type of virtue (e.g., inclusion) can sound appealing because most of us wish for more love, justice, and inclusion in the world. But these positions are vulnerable to criticism when exposed as the corrupted forms they really are.

Boundaries are important. Honestly is important. Fairness is important.”

Giving Up the Fight for Women’s Rights

I often watch certain famous old-school feminists in the literary and entertainment world to see if they’ll address the elephant in the room which is gender identity. Some of them do. Most of them don’t.

Whether they speak out or whether they remain silent, it’s easy to predict what their actual views are. Because you can’t condemn sex stereotypes as harmful to women in one breath and then turn around and describe them as an important and innate and defining part of someone’s soul in another. You just can’t. Both things can’t be true.

So those of you who are giving lip service to gender ideology, or who are keeping silent about it, are giving up the fight for women’s rights.

You’re just rolling over and giving up.

I get it. When you take up the fight, men yell at you. They tell you to shut up. They call you names. This time they’re dressed unexpectedly, and they’re claiming  minority status, but they’re still men, and they’re still telling you to shut up, and they’re still calling you names.

But guess what. Men have been yelling at feminists since the dawn of feminism.

Is there really a lot of difference between Rush Limbaugh getting you to shut up by calling you “humorless” or a “feminazi” and a bunch of white dudes in nail polish getting you to shut up by calling you a “TERF”?

No. Mission accomplished. You have shut up either way. You have backed down from defending your title IX rights, your women’s book club and even your right to honestly and fearlessly describe your experience under patriarchy.

We had this little period between 1979 and 1989 or something where it seemed like feminism was fashionable or at least tolerated and that the yelling was largely over and that anyone who was yelling was clearly making a fool of himself.

But that was obviously anomalous. We’re back to business as usual.

I recently saw this posted somewhere. It’s always been true. Look how much of it is bolstered by gender ideology now.

1st rule of misogyny: Women are responsible for what men do.
2nd rule of misogyny: Women saying no to men is a hate crime.
3rd rule of misogyny: Women speaking for themselves are exclusionary and selfish.
4th rule of misogyny: Women’s opinions are violence against men, thus male violence against women is justified.
5th rule of misogyny: Women and Feminism must be useful to men or they are worthless.
6th rule of misogyny: Women who go around being female AT men by menstruating and breast feeding babies deserve punishment.
7th rule of misogyny: Women should always be grateful to men for everything.
8th rule of misogyny: Men are whatever men say they are and women are whatever men say they are.
9th rule of misogyny: Men always know the “real reasons” for everything women do and say.
10th rule of misogyny: The worst thing about male violence is that it makes men look bad.
11th rule of misogyny: Whatever women suffer from, it is worse when it happens to men.
12th rule of misogyny: Women’s ability to recognize male behavior patterns is misandry.
13th rule of misogyny: Angry women are crazy. Angry men have trouble expressing themselves.
14th rule of misogyny: Women have all the rights they need: The right to remain silent.

Queer Theory Glossary

In case you’ve had trouble keeping up with the spate of new queer theory terms, here’s a handy glossary for your reference.

Queer – A straight person with an interesting haircut.

Non-binary/genderqueer – A chubby young female, typically 16-28, who has dyed her hair blue. Is probably what was once called a lesbian, but she doesn’t like that word.

Lesbian – A man in his 40’s who works in IT and started wearing his wife’s panties last year.

Transgender – A person whose aversion to society’s made-up gender stereotypes should be taken way more seriously than everyone else’s aversion to society’s made-up gender stereotypes.

Pansexual – Someone who likes men who dress in masculine clothes and men who dress in feminine clothes.

TERF – A mature woman who goes about her business without thinking about men enough. The party that should be held responsible when a redneck man beats up a male prostitute.

Cis – Someone who daydreams wistfully about putting on appropriate clothing and showing their genitals to the doctor.

Sexual orientation – Bigotry in the form of having opinions about whose genitals you like to touch.

Intersectionality – Remembering to include a variety of different types of men in your feminism.

Transmisogyny – When straight white men can’t get other people to say the things they want them to say, and it feels worse than any form of oppression anyone else on the planet has ever experienced.

Ze/Hir – Pronouns you can request to disrupt college classes when you haven’t done the assigned work.

Gay – A passé identity that isn’t cool enough anymore and needs rebranding.

Asexual – A person who feels left out.

Intersex – Probably all of us. I mean, you’ve never had a chromosome test, have you. HAVE YOU?

“The Straight Ones Love Their Dicks!”

“The straight ones,” someone said to me a while ago, “are making things difficult for the ones who actually have dysphoria.”

She was referring, of course, to the two types of male-to-female transsexuals proposed by sexologist Ray Blanchard in the ’80s. He had observed among his patients a sharp distinction between what he called “homosexual transsexuals,” who were typically feminine, came out early in life, and were attracted to men; and “autogynephiles,” who were typically masculine, came out late in life, and were primarily attracted to women. The former are more likely to be lonely and poor and marginalized. The latter are more likely to have a history of career success and a loving family. The former, Blanchard suggested, were just trying to deal with the hand they were dealt and to attract the men they wanted to date. The latter had a sort of paraphilia–a sexual interest in cross-dressing and in fantasizing about themselves with female anatomy.

His topology was widely accepted and used to determine treatment for trans individuals for decades, and is still extensively utilized in medical literature despite modern activists’ insistence that it has been discredited.

It’s also very observably true. My ex-husband is a textbook autogynephile. He was masculine. He worked in IT and had an interest in geeky stuff, which for whatever reason, is part of the archetype. He came out late in life. He had a sexual interest in cross-dressing and in imagining himself female. This interest was strong enough to outcompete his sexual interest in his real-life partner.

A sweep through the forums that “trans women” create for themselves provides an endless fount of stories of males aroused by themselves in women’s clothes and by the thought of themselves with breasts and vaginas. Here, Anne Lawrence, a self-professed autogynephile and psychologist, compiles 249 such first-person accounts.

But I believe it’s important to separate fact from fiction, even if it suports a narrative we don’t expect.

Somehow, people have come to believe that homosexual transsexuals have dysphoria–basically a hatred of their sex organs–while autogynephiles do not. Since hearing that comment way back when, I’ve heard a similar sentiment many more times. But it does not reflect my experience. And for what it’s worth, I haven’t noticed Blanchard et al making this distinction, either.

Just recently someone said to me, “All the autogynephiles are faking it.”

Just recently someone else said to me, “The straight ones never get surgery. They love their dicks.”

I get the motivation for comments like these. It’s all too convenient when a straight man is just “trans” enough to walk into a dressing room among the sex that gives him a boner but not quite “trans” enough to get the allegedly offending body part removed. 

But I think it’s important not to invent motivations for others’ behavior.

It’s my experience that “the straight ones” hate their bodies and positively romanticize surgery. My ex. All my ex’s trans friends. All the people on the aforementioned forums, many quite young. Many who began to identify as trans only months prior.

Don’t get me wrong. I think he acquired this dysphoria. But he had it nonetheless.

In fact, the acquisition of dysphoria where it did not previously exist–among the “straight ones,” the female-to-males, the young ones, the old ones, and all the rest–is one of the things that makes this trend so alarming.

This isn’t simply a group of adults experimenting with clothing and hairstyles. This is an ever-expanding swath of the population, extending to the pre-pubescent, developing a rapid and consuming interest in extreme and irreversible body mods with no prior ideation of the kind. People daydreaming about, if not seeking, once-rare experimental surgeries that are rife with complications and that have been demonstrated time and time again to ravage individuals’ romantic options, orgasms, fertility, mental health, and physical health.

I’m currently taking a class with a young woman who months ago did not identify as trans, then for a time bragged that she was “genderqueer,” and today writes wistful poetry about her breasts being scooped from her body with a scalpel like “bruises on an apple.”

So it’s important we get the facts right about who has dysphoria and how and when they got it.

I told the woman who said “the straight ones love their dicks” that that wasn’t quite right. She got very adamant. A greater number of the homosexual transsexuals get surgery, she explained. And since the percentage of homosexuals is smaller than the percentage of straight people, that represents an even greater discrepancy than it appears to. But I’ve yet to meet a trans person who didn’t eventually dream of surgery. So what’s going on?

I think several factors are at play in why both parties might hate their bodies, but homosexual males are more likely to follow through with surgery:

    • It’s a question of definition. In the gay community, surgery almost defines who is and isn’t “trans.” There’s simply no such thing, to speak of, as a non-op trans homosexual male. That person just calls himself a gay man. Gay men become “trans” by way of surgery. Gender non-conformity in the gay community, unlike in the straight community, is too unremarkable to be taken as a sign of being “trans.” 
    • Related to the above, the umbrella for who is and isn’t trans is wider in the straight community than in the gay community. I’d argue that “trans” in the homosexual community is limited to people who consider the matter with a certain intensity, while “trans” in the straight community encompasses so-called non-binaries, genderqueers, agenders, neutrois, and whatever other word an Everyday Feminism author decides to coin today. Just as it’s hard to imagine calling out gender-nonconformity in the gay community, it’s now hard to imagine not calling it out in the straight community. Everyone who’s ever worn nail polish or gotten an interesting haircut has been implicated. So it’s not surprising if the number of trans people in the straight community is inflated with those who were never serious enough to contemplate surgery.
    • It’s been suggested that the homosexual males who opt for surgery are more likely to be black. It’s been suggested that they’re more likely to be poor. With poverty comes lower education levels and a greater likelihood of past abuse. With homosexuality comes a greater likelihood of childhood bullying. All this adds up to a type of individual who might be more willing to do violence to himself than a college-educated middle class white guy working in IT like my husband. One wonders if “trans” represents desperation in the homosexual community but privileged boredom in the straight community.
    • Surgery is expensive. The trans community often points out that some male-to-females pay for their surgeries with prostitution. But the customers of prostitution are men. Homosexual men are probably more likely to cross the line into prostitution, as anonymous gay sex is often already in their wheelhouse, sans only the exchange of cash. On the other hand, anonymous gay sex is a little harder for someone like my ex to swallow. It would be interesting to see how surgery rates would change if you threw a million dollars toward the straight guys. Caitlyn Jenner provides an instructive example.

As someone who has seen all this up-close and personal, I just want to say that “the straight ones” have dysphoria.

I get the feeling that those who promote this misconception feel that dysphoria should make a difference in how we view or treat trans people. But I disagree. I wish no discrimination in housing or employment, for example, on trans people, with or without dysphoria. Nor, on the other side, does dysphoria make men actually women or suddenly exempt them from statistics that show they’re more likely to commit violent or sexual crimes than women are.

Dysphoria is just dysphoria. It’s one of the things males must sort out on their own. It does not compel females to relinquish our safe spaces, our sports teams, our employment posts or our resources to them.

Sex and the Mathematics of a Binary

So much debate around whether sex is a binary or a spectrum. The thing is, a binary is a mathematical thing. And there isn’t any need to debate mathematical things. They are easy to prove.

I’m a computer scientist, and if there’s anything we know, it’s binaries.

Let’s start with this. When you have two things, there are four ways to combine them. You can have the first without the second, the second without the first, neither, or both:

1 0
0 1
0 0
1 1

That’s it.

And now: sex. It’s not a coincidence that the word for sex, as in whether you’re a man or a woman, is the same as the word for sex, as in gettin’ it on between the sheets. They both have to do with reproduction.

There are two gametes in human reproduction: the smaller one, called the sperm, and the larger one, called the ovum. If you have those two things, you can make a baby. If you don’t have those two things, you can’t make a baby.

If you have those two things, you can make a baby in a petri dish. Even if there’s no boobs, hips, penises, vaginas, estrogen injections, silicone implants, lingerie, gaffes, tool belts, laser salons, cosmetic surgeons, or anything else anywhere in sight.

If you don’t have those two things, you can’t make a baby. Not in a petri dish. Not anywhere else. Even if you bring all the asymmetrical haircuts and stilettos and ambiguous genitals and pink and blue flags and bathroom bills and clownfish you can muster.

There’s only two things that are needed to make a baby. A sperm, and an ovum.

There are four ways to combine those two things in a human being. The person can produce ovum but no sperm, sperm but no ovum, neither, or both. In reality, the last is exceedingly rare. But the point here is that there isn’t more than one way to do this math. This is a classic binary system. Two things, four combinations. There’s no way to get an endless number of combinations out of two things or even seven combinations out of two things.

Since it takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby, and the question of whether or not folks want babies coming into their lives is an important one to absolutely everyone, it’s useful to have a word for those who make sperm and those who make ovum. Until recently, everyone’s been happy to use the words “male” and “female” for this useful distinction.

But even if you decide these words are harmful, even if you ban them, even if you question and censor every other word that springs up in their place, there will still be two gametes and four ways to combine them. Math is inflexible that way. Reality is stubborn that way.

Intersex? Despite the hype–which tellingly is spread mainly by folks who aren’t intersex–that’s a handful of conditions, and those are disorders of female development or disorders of male development. But it wouldn’t matter if there were a thousand intersex conditions. All intersex individuals produce sperm, ovum, both or neither. All fit into one of the four available combinations. In no cases does a human being produce a third gamete! Or a fourth!

Now if you want to say gender is a spectrum… well, I’ll still say that’s a mistake. But at least it’s not mathematically refutable in five minutes.

A position that requires bolstering with fake data is a weak position.