Walking It Back

14 May

I was talking to someone the other day about Obama’s order on transgenderism, and she said she it was hard to see how we could walk this one back.

My initial reaction was to say that medicine has to lead the way, since they validated it in the first place. Stop with the junk diagnoses and acknowledge that there are several different things going on here:

1. People have genuine severe body dysphorias (rare) and want surgery to remove parts.
2. Men with autogynephilia (crossdressing sexual fetish) are increasingly being allowed in under this validating umbrella, a fetish that is correlated to some extent with the committing of violent sex crimes, and these men are treated as misfortunates who need support.
3. Lesbians are socially pressured into medical transitioning if they do not perform femininity.
4. Adolescents don’t feel comfortable with their changing bodies and/or their personalities don’t align with socially enforced gender expectations and they are encouraged, often by strangers online, to believe their distress with feelings of physical and social displacement would be alleviated by medical transitioning. These feelings of displacement are also experienced by older people but the Internet has made the concept of medical transitioning much more available to children.

Clearly these are not all the same kind of problem, and arguably only #1 is a medical problem at all. #3 and #4 are related and constitute cultural failures to accommodate diversity (not to mention remembering that adolescents routinely feel uncomfortable with their bodies). #2 is a culturally generated sexual paraphilia.

Then I thought some more, and realized I was wrong. The first thing that has to happen to walk this back is for the left to admit what’s going on, that it is increasingly experiencing a schism on this subject and is adamantly silencing any dissent that doesn’t align with the narrative, which is that transgender people are what they say they are and this not only must be respected, but that anyone who even questions it will be punished.

So people on the left are mostly afraid to talk about it. In New York City, it’s increasingly even illegal to talk about it. Discussing it with a patient is being outlawed as “conversion therapy” in some parts of the country. Feminists who challenge the narrative online frequently are harassed and threatened. Many use pseudonyms for fear of such actions. They (we) are often accused of being conservatives, though real feminism is an extension of leftism that recognizes women as an oppressed class, and is anything but conservative.

The occasional professional organization challenges the narrative, but these challenges don’t get much attention.

The right suffers no such prohibitions, but what they have to offer in turn is yet another bad narrative, which actually aligns with the transgender narrative, but they mostly haven’t worked that out yet in the USA because the right still greatly conflates “transgender” with “homosexual.” My small-town paper here in Little Texas recently reported on local reaction to the Obama order, and quoted a woman saying she didn’t think “men with men” was right.

Fighting transgenderism because what you really are is a homophobe isn’t difficult when homosexuality and transgenderism are so popularly associated. And when your agenda is to enforce conformity, to enforce gender stereotypes, you are not really all that far away from alternately disallowing any challenge to the idea that a gender defiant person is the opposite sex if they say they are, which in turn can easily morph into a gender defiant person being forced into the opposite sex class one way or the other, whether they like it or not. This isn’t that difficult to do if you start with them when they’re children.

But, as a gender abolitionist, I certainly don’t want people punished for not doing gender right. I don’t want criticizing transgenderism to be used as an excuse for a backlash from the right against homosexuals, but it has a good chance of playing out that way, because the left can’t own the discussion because the left won’t allow the discussion to happen. And I don’t want anyone, male or female, abused for not doing gender right, but insisting we play along with this game of make-believe is so clearly just another kind of enforcement.

It’s been said that this conflict is about who owns gender, and that has a certain wisdom to it. But it’s also about who owns the left. I’ve always considered myself a leftist and now the very left I was raised to love and respect and identify with is trying to silence and slander me, and is using this transgender narrative to disrupt social justice and environmental activism groups everywhere I look. How is this progressive?

19 Responses to “Walking It Back”

  1. donesoverydone 2016/05/14 at 7:55 pm #

    I don’t think there is any left, left in the US. The US is a war mongering monster and there’s no real internal opposition. Obama just continued the Bush doctrine, no change in policy, just a rebranding of image.
    This trans bullshit is such a useful culture war for two sides that are equally repugnant and neither side cares about who they claim they are protecting. Democreeps don’t care about trans people or gay people and Repuglicons don’t care about women. Keeps the masses preoccupied, keeps young malcontents focused on changing themselves and keeps them invested in a system that they are dependent on medically, a system that they must adapt to to be able to get the coin for surgeries and hormones, dependent on the same system for legally validating their identity. Keeps the rest us focused on the unfolding shit show that is trans politics, well, what is actually now the feminist and gay and lesbian politics and the dismantling of sex based protections for women and erasure of women as a female class of people. As a political tool of mass distraction, it works.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Miep 2016/05/14 at 8:07 pm #

      So did McCarthyism, but it was real people being blacklisted and having their lives trashed. Should people have just ignored all that and focused on whatever it was an attempt to distract from?

      I do agree that transgenderism is one distracting sideshow. It’s like the best reality TV ever.

      Climate disruption will put an end to this, I expect. No one will care about your identity when there isn’t any more disaster relief money.

      Liked by 3 people

      • donesoverydone 2016/05/14 at 8:17 pm #

        I don’t think McCarthyism was about distraction so much as it was about destroying the American communist party, which it did.

        Liked by 2 people

        • donesoverydone 2016/05/14 at 8:25 pm #

          But yeah, trans politics, best/worst reality show ever

          Liked by 2 people

        • Miep 2016/05/14 at 8:26 pm #

          Well then transgenderism is about silencing all the shreds of resistance efforts that remain, via no platforming and terrorism and turning activists against each other. Destroying friendships and alienating family members. Destroying sanity.

          And I appreciate your position that it also works brilliantly as distraction, and to derail, and as a general time suck. It’s kind of the Swiss Army knife of oppression. If it didn’t exist, they’d of had to invent it.

          Liked by 4 people

  2. genderwipesthefingerprints 2016/05/14 at 10:57 pm #

    Reblogged this on stop trans chauvinism.


  3. jaklumen 2016/05/15 at 2:49 am #

    Wow. You’ve managed to articulate so much of how I feel about this– and really, the issues I have with

    1. the current iteration of the Democrat party
    2. third-wave feminism- that is, the voice that’s repeated the loudest- I’m not sure if it’s the postmodernist strain, the intersectionists, both, or more
    3. left-wing authoritarianism (not really recognized yet- Bob Altemeyer dropped the ball)
    4. how left-wing authoritarianism and right-wing authoritarianism is clashing on sexual orientation AND gender identity– not just that the right conflates orientation & gender identity

    And really… yes, it really IS that the left really IS caught up in a wave of authoritarianism. It should be no surprise whatsoever that right-wing libertarians are their natural foil, NOT right-wing authoritarians. Yes, Milo Yannopolis describes himself as a libertarian, as well as a provocateur– but I think there’s something to this.

    Personally, I think it’s all bizarre. I have chronic pain and sometimes have to use one of the “Family” restrooms, i.e., yes, sometimes I *do* need to have help from my wife. I would have zero problem with businesses starting there for starters- making them unisex, and then slowly going from there. Also, I know very well what a “tea room” is in gay slang, and have used more than one in days now past, so I call bullshit on those right-wingers assuming safety of women & children are threatened.


  4. liberationislife 2016/05/15 at 3:54 am #

    I think in order to help clarify more broadly what’s going on, we have to stop letting people call the Democrats “left”, without getting challenged. Similarly, given that so many people who present as *real* left (for instance, anarchist or marxist) have in effect adopted neoliberal gender essentialism, we also need to point out that what they’re doing is adopting conservative politics. Transgenderism came from the right, and it still has those inherent politics, no matter how the people who sponsor it “identify”.

    I keep seeing us giving transgenderism left cover, and it does my head in …

    And how right you are that this conflict is also about who owns the left. Transgenderism has been such an obvious ploy used by misogynists on the left, in order to further marginalise feminists. And the more they do this, the more they need to silence our commentaries about how this has happened.

    Liked by 4 people

    • freerlives 2016/05/15 at 5:40 pm #

      Yes, on this issue the Left is part of a coalition stretching all the way to sections of the US Republican Party. Ordinary working people find that only the religious Right opposes this trend, so it is hard to challenge.

      You are also correct that the main aspect of the trans phenomenon is conservative. But it is a contradictory trend and we need to understand why the Left has embraced it. I think the logic is: trans people challenge the most conservative, biology-is-destiny form of sex stereotyping; from there you can win them to oppose all sex stereotyping, and take up other Left issues; they make common cause with LGB people against the Right; it is unreasonable to expect people to break entirely with sex stereotyping, even gays succumb to it to an extent. This approach seems reasonable when organised leftists talk to left-leaning trans individuals.

      What they don’t acknowledge of course is the enormous value of trans ideology for the elite, by reinforcing sex stereotypes in a way that is protected from criticism, and reinforcing women’s oppression.


      • liberationislife 2016/05/16 at 4:46 am #

        Yes, well those of us who have attempted to argue with leftists who are befuddled by the trans narrative are all too aware of their various ‘logics’ which are accepted uncritically. Largely because women’s lived experience (including working and socialising with trans-identifying people, which men on the Left usually have not) is so unvalued. It is mostly via examining the backdrop against which this adoption by the Left of transgenderism has occurred, that we understand why the silliest genderist logic has been accepted.


        • freerlives 2016/05/16 at 3:51 pm #

          There must be people inside and outside of left groups who remain uneasy at such a dramatic shifting of ground. They may be too intimidated to raise their voices publicly, or else they voice their concerns only within their organisations. The more I look for left/socialist critics of the trans trend, the more isolated I feel. But when numbers are so small every individual can make a difference.


          • liberationislife 2016/05/18 at 11:39 am #

            There are quite a few. But yes, there are problems of being too intimidated to say much about it, or (in the case of some men) simply not caring too much, as the primary targets of trans activism so far have been female. (And, frankly, it looks like remaining that way.)


  5. purplesagefem 2016/05/15 at 7:01 am #

    Realizing that there is no Left in North America puts me in despair. :-(

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wolfwomanofthenorth 2016/05/15 at 2:51 pm #

    Reblogged this on WolfWomanoftheNorth and commented:
    “I don’t want criticizing transgenderism to be used as an excuse for a backlash from the right against homosexuals, but it has a good chance of playing out that way, because the left can’t own the discussion because the left won’t allow the discussion to happen.”

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The Arbourist 2016/05/15 at 3:17 pm #

    I saw a heartfelt response to the legislation here.

    A quote:

    “’I’ve got mixed feelings about his order. On the one hand, there’s a possibility that GNC and trans kids in high schools could be less likely to get harassed in the bathroom if they’re using the one that corresponds to their gender expression. On the other hand, this is the beginning of a fucking terrible, dangerous, misogynistic descent into a world where gender is further installed into our society and where males are given unrestricted access to females.

    A group of high schools girls banded together somewhere to protest a trans male being allowed in their locker room, not long ago. They all clearly felt uncomfortable with this boy who hasn’t even begun any kind of medical, physical transition–and fuck, may never–being allowed in a space where they undress, without any adult supervision. He, of course, doesn’t give a fuck how they feel because he’s male and only cares about himself and feels entitled to everything he wants. So what does Obama’s impending statement tell these girls? What does it tell every girl in this country, who wasn’t asked if they would feel safe and comfortable with boys in their bathrooms?

    It tells them the truth: that no one cares how they feel. […] ”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Miep 2016/05/15 at 3:19 pm #

      That’s a really good post, thanks for linking it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. freerlives 2016/05/15 at 5:55 pm #

    Reblogged this on freer lives and commented:
    “The first thing that has to happen to walk this back is for the left to admit what’s going on”


  9. ladylawyerwitch 2016/05/16 at 1:38 pm #

    Thank you. I too have always considered myself a leftist, and your comments about being slandered and silenced by the left hit very close to home.


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