Truth trumps treachery: What Jamie Kirchick gets wrong about Chelsea Manning

Zinnia JonesDisclosure: I testified for the defense at Chelsea Manning’s court-martial and served as her representative at SF Pride 2014.

In an August 29 New York Times op-ed on Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning, Jamie Kirchick writes:

Celebrating Chelsea Manning just a few years after gay and transgender people were permitted to serve openly in the military discredits the L.G.B.T. cause. Throughout most of the 20th century, homosexuality was associated with treason and used as a basis for purging gay people from government jobs, denying them security clearances and restricting their service in the armed forces. The decision by Ms. Manning’s defense team to argue that untreated gender dysphoria was a factor in her decision to leak classified information unwittingly aids those who say that L.G.B.T. people cannot be trusted in sensitive government jobs. And it dishonors the L.G.B.T. people who have served in the military throughout history without betraying their country.

Kirchick’s characterization of the defense’s arguments relating to gender dysphoria is overly reductive and omits crucial details of the case. While he implies that the defense should have refrained from presenting evidence regarding Manning’s dysphoria, this would have meant leaving out numerous relevant facts about her circumstances and the Army’s actions in the leadup to her arrest.

The defense was not making a general argument that untreated gender dysphoria can somehow predispose a person to leaking classified material, an argument that would indeed cast undue aspersions on all trans servicemembers and government employees. This was a specific argument focused narrowly on Manning’s chain of command, their awareness of her gender identity and the severe distress she was experiencing, their higher priority of ensuring that she remain deployable, and their resulting failure to act on these issues appropriately or ensure she received the necessary care. These facts were established at length during her pretrial hearing and court-martial. Continue reading

Posted in Health care, Military, Personal, Politics and law, Replies, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Being transgender is a mental illness”: What does the DSM really say?

Zinnia Jones“Transgender people are mentally ill.” “Being trans is a mental disorder.” How many times have you heard some variation of these claims? It’s hardly a rare opinion: according to a 2017 poll, 21% of Americans believe that being trans is a mental illness. From the slush pile of online comments sections to the organized transphobia of Paul McHugh, Walt Heyer, Michelle Cretella, the American College of Pediatricians, the Family Research Council, and the Witherspoon Institute, this accusatory labeling of transgender identity as a “mental disorder” is one of the most well-worn arguments against recognizing and affirming our genders. Typically, the extended form of this claim is argued as follows:

“Being transgender is a mental disorder – after all, it’s listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

“Therefore, a person whose gender identity is at odds with their assigned sex should receive psychological therapy focusing on aligning their self-perceived gender with their body, rather than medical treatment to adjust their body to their gender.”

It’s a simple and superficially appealing line of reasoning. It’s also completely wrong. Continue reading

Posted in Gender dysphoria, Psychology and psychiatry, Transgender medicine, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sex with trans women: A frank discussion with Zinnia and Penny (NSFW)

Previously: Why some trans people don’t date cis people, Reclaiming our transgender sexualities

Zinnia and Penny sit down and discuss the latest controversies over trans-cis dating and relationships. Note: Contains explicit content and sexual themes.

Posted in Media, Rhetoric, Sexuality, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blaire White: disguising dishonesty as objectivity

by Penny Robo

Oh, dear. Now this is something which has been talked about in multiple videos, but this particular subject is the gift that keeps on giving, and I feel there’s room for a different approach to the same problem.

Which brings us to said problem: Blaire White.

YouTube talker, self-proclaimed rationalist, and living embodiment of a dumpster fire.

When it comes to commentators and educators on trans topics, our ecosystem is small enough that if you’re reading this then odds are good that you’ve heard of her, maybe even think highly of her, and so I should get this out of the way first: she’s wrong. And it isn’t because I don’t like her, which is quite true, I don’t, but because she is very much literally wrong. Not only about most everything she says on a purely factual level but also in the ways she presents and defends her arguments, typically in direct opposition to her own declared principles.

But unlike Charles Foster Kane’s declaration of principles, there was no earnest idealism driving the creation – Ms. White’s stated sense of ethics began, and continues, as a smokescreen to provide faux-validity to whatever happens to fall out of her mouth. And if you think this sounds mean, you’re right, it is. But I can promise you that punching upwards isn’t remotely the point of this piece. If someone were to snip away every snide snipe from my writing there’d still be an article here, but right now this is the only way I can stomach talking about this person. Continue reading

Posted in Media, Rhetoric, Trans youth, Transgender medicine | Tagged , | 1 Comment

At the gates of lesbianism

by Heather McNamara

Welcome to lesbianism! And congratulations on your decision to give up dating men. They can be fun sometimes, but I can tell you from experience that lesbianism is way way more fun. For starters, there are boobs. More on that later.

You’ll want to get started right away so let’s get busy on the orientation. We have a lot of stereotypes to roll our eyes at, six seasons of The L Word to get through whether you like it or not – don’t look at me that way – and of course you’ll want to know how to answer all the stupid questions you get from straight friends and family. You’re also going to want to find yourself some lesbian gathering places, but please avoid the temptation to check Craigslist. We’re not as big on the bar scene as our queer brothers are, but you’ll find there are plenty of drum circles, softball teams, and Facebook groups. Continue reading

Posted in Sexuality, Transphobia and prejudice | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments