Counter-realities: The practice of denialism in transphobia

If you’ve been following Gender Analysis for any length of time, you might have noticed a common theme: We address and refute arguments for transphobic positions. Almost universally, this is not very challenging at all, and it mostly just involves pointing out the obvious at length. It’s nearly always the case that these are simply not good arguments – they reliably feature both overt and subtle misrepresentations of reality, omissions of relevant facts, logical flaws, tricks of language and definitions, deceptive rhetoric, and so on. I’ve sometimes found myself wondering: Where are transphobia’s good arguments, arguments based on sound interpretations of consistent evidence? And what would those arguments even look like?

In considering this, it can be helpful to play a game I call “How Would the World Look Different If”. This is an exercise in thinking about counterfactuals – potential states of the world that could hypothetically be the case, even if in reality they are not. When examining the components of a given argument, we can treat certain parts like axes that we can move back and forth along to see where we end up, or a set of knobs that can be dialed to different settings to change what result is produced from the combination. By exploring what is not – this space of possible arguments and possible realities – we can often gain a clearer understanding of the narrower space of what is, the space of what is a good argument that connects to what is actual reality. Continue reading

Posted in Awareness building, Hoaxes, More Trans, Rhetoric, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Reclaiming our transgender sexualities

Consider this: How do you feel sexy when half of the country thinks you rape people in public bathrooms?

As a trans woman, it’s staggering to think about just how much of my sexual existence has been defined and circumscribed by the sexual concerns and anxieties of cis people. To be sure, we trans people have sexualities much the same as anyone else – we’re gay, straight, bi, pan, asexual, or any combination in any degree; we’re tops, bottoms, doms, subs, switches, vanilla or kinky; we’re diverse because people are diverse, and we are people. Sometimes we’re horny, sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we feel sexy, sometimes we don’t. We should be free to pursue sexual fulfillment like anyone else, but, as with anyone else, we’re also subjected to outside factors in society shaping how we define and understand our sexual selves. In the case of trans people, we face the impact of both openly transphobic prejudice as well as the more broadly cis-centric lens through which our lives are viewed.

The ways in which our sexual lives are unduly affected by the mistaken beliefs and hostile attitudes of larger society are so vast and numerous, it’s hard to know where to start. The intrusions of a cisgender world into our sexual selves, introducing disruptive elements and telling us what we can and cannot be, are practically unlimited. When I wanted to do something so simple as a basic sex advice video, I soon realized that I would first have to cut through layer after layer of issues that our culture has accrued around trans people as sexual beings. And by the time we’ve worked through other people’s problems, there’s very little room left for us in all of this. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Sexuality, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Gender Analysis: Zinnia Argues With People

One of the most persistently frustrating things in my experience of YouTube has been the repeated claim that I’ve somehow refused or neglected to engage with opposing arguments. This is mystifying to me because the entire history of my coverage of gender topics has focused on directly addressing and refuting the positions and beliefs of those who are incorrect on a given point. On dozens of occasions, I’ve considered the claims of those participating in discussion and debate of transgender issues, whether it’s an argument in the public conversation at the current cultural moment, or a more ongoing and in-depth academic dispute. In no particular order, I’ve argued about:

And I give each of these topics the serious attention that it deserves. I’ve generally held jobs as a researcher, writer, and editor, often in a quality assurance role such as proofreading or fact-checking. I previously worked at a medical research startup backed by Peter Thiel, and then for a content marketing agency. The work that I do here also reflects my professional skillset. Continue reading

Posted in Awareness building, Feminism, Hoaxes, Rhetoric, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Lisa Selin Davis’ Child Is (Not) Transgender

Heather McNamaraBy Heather McNamara

Lisa Selin Davis would like us to know that her daughter is not transgender. Her daughter is a tomboy thankyouverymuch. Lisa would like us to know that she is super tolerant and loves it that her daughter is gender-nonconforming – but you’d darn well better stop asking if she’s trans because not every child who dresses unladylike is a trans boy gosh darnit. Oh and don’t worry! Because if her child decides that they are transgender, she’ll totally listen. She promises: “Let’s be clear: If my daughter does begin to feel that the gender in her mind and the sex of her body don’t match, I will be supportive.”

You would almost get the impression that the advent of transgender awareness and activism had resulted in a plague of false positives! Children transitioning left and right because their well-meaning parents hadn’t considered the possibility that a kid was “just” a tomboy (or the reverse – a janegirl?), resulting in tragically, permanently transitioned kids who certainly regret their decisions as adults. Continue reading

Posted in Gender dysphoria, Trans youth, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Playboy’s puff piece on intellectually dishonest Blaire White

Previously: Transgender youth fact check: Blaire White is wrong, What are the odds you’ll stop harassing trans kids?, Debunking hypothetical arguments about youth transition

“Intellectual dishonesty”.

This is the phrase that’s been on my mind since reading the recent profile of Blaire White on Playboy.com. To be clear, Playboy does tend to have good articles – my partner Heather has written for them, and contributed to their coverage of the Pulse attack last year. But this article by Debra Soh is one of the most uncritical and misguided puff pieces I’ve ever read, particularly when Blaire White is allowed to preach at length on principles of intellectual honesty:

What can people do to fight back against intellectual dishonesty?

The absolute best thing a person can do to combat intellectual dishonesty is to remain strongly principled and stick to fact-based argumentation. Call out falsities where you see them from both your ideological opponents and like-minded people. I strongly oppose the political tribalism that has taken over this country and caused people to behave like they’re on a team rather than than truth-seeking individualists.

Nowhere does this article make note of Blaire White’s continued denial and mischaracterization of transgender medicine and healthcare, something I’ve covered in extensive detail. In light of this, her supposed dedication to “truth-seeking” and “fact-based argumentation” is absolute nonsense. Continue reading

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