Sunday, 20 March 2016

Joan Smith: transphobic or ignorant?

The following represents my opinion of Joan Smith's article in the Independent on Sunday today.

This is part of what Joan Smith wrote in the Indie today and it is profoundly dishonest in my opinion;

"That’s why I think feminism is robust enough to weather attacks from some trans activists, who seem unable to disagree with distinguished figures in the women’s movement without trying to turn them into hate figures. I disagree with Germaine Greer on various issues, including prostitution, but her 1970 bestseller The Female Eunuch remains an intellectual challenge and an inspiration. Personal attacks and calls for “no-platforming” have no place in one of the world’s great human rights movements."

Dishonest, and indeed disingenuous because it attempts to situate trans people as being opposed to feminism. This is the way the standard-issue, concern-trolling, disingenuous anti-trans activists argue. For Smith's information trans people are also feminists, indeed I would wager that a greater proportion of trans people describe themselves as feminists than cis people. Feminism is not under attack from trans people nor has it ever been. Nor are the vast majority of feminists opposed to trans people in the same way that Greer is. A small group of anti-trans fanatics who describe themselves as "feminists" have attempted to use feminism as a cover for bigotry and hate-mongering. These people routinely attempt to set up a false division between trans people and feminism, as Smith has done, but this is done deliberately to mislead.  

So there are two alternative scenarios regarding Smith's outburst today. The first scenario is that she is as dishonest and disingenuous as these bigoted anti-trans activists. By attempting to position trans people in opposition to feminists, she is employing the same tactics used by them and many other oppressors throughout the ages. If this is the case she should be regarded as just another cheap shot transphobe and join the long list of privileged people bullying trans people like the far-right evangelical "Christian" fanatics attempting to introduce laws aimed at bullying trans people, especially trans kids, into taking their own lives. If so she is beneath contempt.

On the other hand she could simply be repeating what has become the mantra of the privileged who have not really thought about or understood the issues relating to no-platforming. Does she really think that Germaine Greer's brand of transphobic hate is something we can politely disagree with? Has she ever tried arguing with a person who hates her? If so she really has a problem, and in my opinion is both ignorant of and unaware of what she is writing about. The herd mentality has taken over regarding the issue of no-platforming and the white cis-privileged middle-class have opted for simplistic arguments rather than understanding how privilege actually works.

Whether Smith's outburst is genuine disingenuousness and represents an attempt to harm trans people, or whether it is pure ignorance and banal herd-following, it represents a pretty unedifying end to what is hopefully her last column in mainstream media.  

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Why Richard O'Brien reminds me of men I used to meet at parties.

My opinion about Richard O'Brien's opinion of me.

One of the few advantages of being a trans  woman is that, at a party, you find out who the assholes are before everyone else. As far back as the early 1990s I can remember (almost invariably white, cishet, male) partygoers coming up to me before they even had the excuse that they were pissed and asking me about my genitals.

By a few seconds this question usually preceded its asker learning some new items of vocabulary, vocabulary which left them in no doubt as to

a) what I thought of their question,

b) what I thought of them, and


c) that they needed to ensure they did not avail themselves of my company at any time in the future for any reason.


So it was with a sense of deja-vu that I read about Richard O'Brien's pronouncement on trans women. As someone who does not identify as a trans woman himself he is clearly profoundly underqualified to talk about trans women, something which tends to be a common factor in those arrogant enough to make such pronouncements. What are the reasons he gives for making this judgement...? Errrrr... absolutely none whatsoever. Not that he is any different in this respect from the other people making similar pronouncements, Barry Humphries and Germaine Greer have presented nothing by way of evidence to support their assertions whilst at the same time lacking any experiential qualification for what they have said.

The counter-arguments of course have actual scientific evidence to back them up; trans people are who we say we are. The TERF essentialising arguments, profoundly anti-feminist as they are, simply fall apart even on cursory inspection. Of course O'Brien doesn't have to worry about such niceties, but then, let's face it neither, it seems, do the essentialising TERFs.

While a number of my friends are now mourning yet another lost hero, forever lost to assholeness, I am lucky; I never liked the Crystal Maze and one of the reasons for that was its vainglorious and narcissistic presenter who reminded me so much of the privileged and ignorant assholes I used to introduce to new items of lexicon in the early stages of parties. 

One of the ways most people judge an idea is the people who advocate it, which probably explains why the "out" campaign has lost ground since Michael Gove joined it.  O'Brien joins the likes of Greer, Humphries, a ragbag of privileged libertarian/neoliberal right-wingers and assorted abusive  and ignorant TERFs many of whom have increasingly resorted to spreading deliberate disinformation about trans people because they have no serious arguments to make.

Quite what qualifies him to think he can make the pronouncement he has done is very unclear, apparently nothing, so the question remains; why has he deliberately made an idiot of himself by doing this? The reason is probably the same reason as Greer's, or indeed Burchill's; he desperately desires to hold on to whatever fading limelight he can. Some may call him a 'has-been". I would beg to differ; a "hasn't-been" is probably more appropriate.

Making ignorant and puerile statements about trans people seems to be the way hasn't-beens attempt to regain whatever crumbs of long-lost media attention they can. Best ignore such foolishness, put them out of their misery, it is kinder that way.