Thursday, 24 January 2013

They've got form (Part III)

They've got form, but I have a life - so this will be succinct.

Jan 22 Voices from the trans community: 'There will always be prejudice'

Jan 19 Feminism shouldn't be about telling trans women they're not female enough

Jan 18 Why I'm trans … and a feminist

Jan 13 Julie Burchill has ended up bullying the trans community

And the hits keep coming...

Monday, 21 January 2013

They've got form (Part II)

Being in the main a compendium of links about l'Affaire Burchill.

The most helpful one I think is Julie Burchill, transphobia and hostility towards the victims of oppression. Tellingly, it's in the Grauniad's Science section.
The recent media furore over an article by Julie Burchill has brought to light prejudice against transgender individuals among people who should know better. But this tendency to demonise the victims of unfair treatment is a well established phenomenon
It ends thus:
But If I was going to try and explain all possible reasons for this animosity toward trans people, this blogpost would run into the terabytes. There are so many social, psychological and countless other factors in play, it would be like trying to untangle a ball of Christmas tree lights the size of the moon. I just offer the above rationalisations as possible explanations for illogical transphobia. Of course, some people are just bastards, let's not forget that.
I don't have any ideological or personal involvement with the whole debacle that occurred recently, and I'm certainly not making any expert pronouncements on what's happening. I'm a behavioural neuroscientist who works in mental health, and I just saw supposedly intelligent people behaving in ways that seemed illogical, even hypocritical, and I thought I'd offer a possible explanation as to why. But obviously things are a lot more complex.
I'm also a Guardian blogger though, and not even a serious one (I usually write about boobs or moustaches). But given that it was Burchill's article that caused so much offence, and the Guardian's perceived poor track record in this area, I felt it was necessary to have at least one piece published under the Guardian banner that presented transphobia as illogical and irrational, which it definitely is.
It may not be a just world, but that doesn't mean we can't at least make an effort to change that.
As they say, read the whole thing. My comment on it:
And then there is the logic that goes this way. The left is always wrong. The left is championing these people because it sees them as victims of oppression. Therefore they must be deserving of no sympathy.
-- Lloyd Flack
… it's the Left "feminists" who loathe transsexualism with a fierce passion, Lloyd, IMO because it conflicts with the narratives of social constructionism. Men and women are somewhat different psychologically, and it always seemed kind of obvious to me that there were neurological differences underlying that from the first time I seriously considered the issue from that point of view. Men and women don't "think" differently… but they do tend to relate to others in different ways. The irony here is that in terms of my beliefs about "gendered consciousness", I used to be a social constructionist of the Shulamith Firestone variety, and I wish that she had been right.
-- Bonze Anne Rose Blayk From PinkNews:
DJ Sheepiesheep Every transphobic slur creates another transphobic bigot. The more transphobic bigots there are, the greater the chance of an act of violence against a trans person. So yes, I personally think that Moore and Burchill and their ilk are in part responsible for an increase in transphobic violence.
Solent And every misogynistic slur reinforces the bigotry of non bigots
Thia Jones Every transphobic slur IS a misogynistic slur
Tellitlikeitis Every trans abomination is a misogynistic slur. You lot rape women just by existing.
From "The Transsexual Empire: the making of the She-Male" 1979, reprinted 1980,1994,2007 by Professor Janice Raymond, a standard Radical Feminist text used in many universities.
All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artefact, and appropriating this body for themselves.
Ibid.
I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.
You can't understand this irrational hatred without examining the philosophical basis for it.
OK, on to the linky goodness. First the Telegraph, reprinting Burchill's original and utterly unique piece. A paragraph thereform:
She, the other JB and I are part of the tiny minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have, we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.
The Grauniad's Reader's editor, from back in 2004, the last time such foetid wording was used (though alas, not the last time overtly Transphobic articles appeared in that publication)
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.
Quite. And the language there was mild, in comparison with Burchill's piece.

Now for the non-apology apology that replaced the original.
We have decided to withdraw from publication the Julie Burchill comment piece 'Transsexuals should cut it out'. The piece was an attempt to explore contentious issues within what had become a highly-charged debate. The Observer is a paper which prides itself on ventilating difficult debates and airing challenging views. On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers' Editor will report on these issues at greater length.
"Explore contentious issues" my Aunt Fanny. Just read it.

Onwards to the Interim Report from the Observer's Reader's Editor - the Observer is basically "the Guardian on Sunday", though there is independent editorial control.
It was "appalling", "vile", "hateful". It was "incredibly offensive". It was "rude, bigoted and downright insulting". In the 24 hours following the publication of Julie Burchill's Observer piece headlined "Transsexuals should cut it out", more than 1,000 emails arrived in my inbox and 2,952 comments were posted online, most of them highly critical of the decision to publish what one correspondent called "her bullying nonsense". The piece in question was a defence of her friend, the columnist Suzanne Moore, who claims she has been driven off Twitter by a vociferous campaign from transsexual people....
Sure it was.
The ensuing storm was notable both for its vociferous nature and for its individuality. A controversial issue will often bring a blizzard of identikit protest of apparently confected anger but while clearly this lobby was organised most of the emails and letters we received were personal and heartfelt. And they were not only from trans people. Concerned readers with no connection to the trans lobby felt hurt that a minority that could expect to be protected by a liberal publication was being attacked in an extremely insulting manner. "Would you have run the article if it had contained similar slurs regarding people of colour or people with disabilities?" was a typical question.
Exactly.
A collective failure of editing led to this piece appearing in the form that it did. "We will scrutinise further the manner in which this process needs improving," said the editor.
A Collective Failure of Editing. Just a bit, yes. The interior of the Sun is also moderately warm, and the sea not completely dry.
So how does the Observer move on from here? The editor says that discussions with representatives from the trans community will take place over the coming weeks. These discussions will be an opportunity to listen and also to debate the issues raised by this incident. A lesson has been learned.
My comment:
One thing that should be pointed out. The inaccuracy of referring to a "Trans Lobby" being involved here. The initial, very mild, critique on Twitter of Ms Moore came from... a fellow feminist. Not of the trans variety.
I loved your piece on anger - except for the shock transphobia ("a Brazilian transsexual") - why on earth did you include it?
That's it. You can see the record at http://storify.com/leftytgirl/suzanne-moore-timeline-of-trans-misogynistic-twitt
Moore replied with some increasingly nasty tweets.
Transphobia is your term. I have issues with trans anything actually... I dont prioritise this f***ing lopping bits of your body over all else that is happening to women Intersectional enough for you?... I dont even accept the word transphobia any more than Islamaphobia... People can just f*** off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.
That was the bit that was the insult direct. Transphobia, naked and unadorned. This caused a further Twitter-storm, 99+% of which did not involve Trans people.
The Trans contributions: Julia Serano tweeted on 8th January:
some cis feminists have a gambling problem Yet another cis feminist doubles down on trans misogyny
Suzannah (leftytgirl) tweeted on 11th January after the Burchill piece something more "robust and forthright", though moderate compared to Ms Moore's foul language
Suzanne Moore, trans-misogynist asshole extraordinaire ;)
The winking smiley emoticon rather diluting the effect. That's it. That's the sum and total involvement of this "Trans Lobby", this howling mob of Trans women.
Non-Trans feminists, vastly outnumbering the Trans contributions weighed in more forcefully. For example: F*ck you Suzanne Moore you c*nt as one cis Feminist wrote. Suzanne Moore is not a Feminist. Suzanne Moore is a piss stain on the pants of Fascism wrote another. Again, non-trans feminists here.
The really vile stuff, the threats and so on.... came from professional trolls, and a horde of 4chan anon accounts, "the usual suspects". None of them Trans. The infamous "lop off suzanne moore's spine imo" was by a well known social commentator, nominated for a "shorty" award. No connection to either trans or feminist groups at all.
However, the lede had to be different, so Burchill's unprintable (but alas, not unprinted) distilled hate wasn't self-contradictory.
Journalists - like yourself - are supposed to look behind the scenes, not take the words of anyone, politicians, businessmen, whoever at face value. You've screwed up here, even the editors trying to set things aright. Good luck in communicating with this "powerful trans lobby" Burchill blames. You'd be better off trying to find the Elders of Zion.
Or the International Communist Conspiracy to pollute our precious bodily fluids, for that matter.

A follow-up article will deal with second- and third- order effects. Links to articles in the Grauniad and Observer only though, rather than commentary by third parties. It's confusing enough as it is. The rest can wait. I have a life. I'd also like to blog about something else for a while, to cleanse my intellectual palate. Something humourous, but lingering. I'm not a bit angry at Ms Burchill.

Say... Gilbert and Sullivan's the Mikado.
MIK.: Ha! ha! ha! (To KATISHA) I forget the punishment for compassing the death of the Heir Apparent.
Ko, POOH, and PITTI: Punishment! (They drop down on their knees again.)
MIK.: Yes. Something lingering, with boiling oil in it, I fancy. Something of that sort. I think boiling oil occurs in it, but I'm not sure. I know it's something humorous, but lingering, with either boiling oil or melted lead. Come, come, don't fret, I'm not a bit angry.
Naughty Zoe! BAD Zoe!

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 : http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/01/16/reports-brazilian-transwoman-shot-dead/

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.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Observer Screws Up

There are things one does not do in a national newspaper. One does not call Blacks "uppity niggers". One does not state as fact that Yids drink the blood of Christian children. And one does not publish articles like this one. Starting with a quote illustrating a complete lack of anything redolent of white feminist privilege
"Sod that, we're having lobster and champagne at Frederick's and I'm paying," I told her. Half a bottle of Bolly later, she looked at me with faraway eyes: "Ooo, I could get to like this…" And so she did.
No privilege there.
I nevertheless felt indignant that a woman of such style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of dicks in chicks' clothing. To my mind – I have given cool-headed consideration to the matter – a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I'd imagine the Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look. That rude and ridic.
The reaction of the trans lobby reminded me very much of those wretched inner-city kids who shoot another inner-city kid dead in a fast-food shop for not showing them enough "respect".
But they'd rather argue over semantics. To be fair, after having one's nuts taken off (see what I did there?) by endless decades in academia, it's all most of them are fit to do. Educated beyond all common sense and honesty, it was a hoot to see the screaming mimis accuse Suze of white feminist privilege...
She, the other JB and I are part of the minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that's a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as 'Cis' – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they're lucky I'm not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.
Shims, shemales, whatever you're calling yourselves these days – don't threaten or bully us lowly natural-born women, I warn you.
they're lucky I'm not calling them shemales. Or shims.
Mighty White of her to do that. Mighty White. Especially since she ...may not have as many lovely big swinging Phds as you

The Guardian group has certain ethical standards. So does the UK National Union of Journalists. There are also laws in the UK against deliberate and malicious denigration of minorities.

Oopsie.

UPDATE: The original article has been deleted - along with the 2500 comments , mostly eviscerating it. It's now available on numerous mirrors - such as the UK Telegraph http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100198116/here-is-julie-burchills-censored-observer-article/

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Ginger