Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Julia update May 2015 - new writings & stuff!

So today I sent out my latest email update. It offers links to some new (& newish) writings, including my op-ed on the Jenner interview in The Guardian, my contribution to the new illustrated sex-ed book Girl Sex 101, a French/Fran├žais translation of Whipping Girl, plus a February interview with me regarding recent online debates about "political correctness" and "call-out culture."

You can read the update in all its glory here.

If you want future julia updates emailed directly to you, you can sign up for my email list here.

enjoy! -j.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

So about that whole Jenner thing

note added 5/2/15: a few days after posting this, I wrote an op-ed for the The Guardian (US edition) about the Bruce Jenner-Diane Sawyer interview.

I had no intentions of writing this. Celebrities come out as trans once every year or two or three. For me, it's like a comet, or perhaps Mercury retrograde. It always keeps happening. I've lived through numerous permutations of this before. For me, this is history repeating itself, albeit somewhat differently each time.

I haven't even watched Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer yet. I DVR'd it. On purpose. It is a buffer. The media often screws things up, so I wanted to hear about how it went before watching it. So I could prepare myself, just in case. Because it's hard to watch a newly out trans person answer a barrage of intrusive questions about their gender and identity, when you've personally been a newly out trans person who had to endure a very similar (albeit not publicly broadcasted) barrage of similar questions regarding your own gender and identity.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Alice Dreger and making the evidence fit your thesis

So last week I found out that Alice Dreger's new book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, has recently been released. I have not personally read it, but I am well aware of one aspect of the book: the part where she describes the ensuing controversy surrounding psychologist J. Michael Bailey's book The Man Who Would Be Queen. And while I don't know precisely what Dreger says (or more pertinently, fails to say) about that controversy in her new book, I am very familiar with her views on the matter, as I am one of the numerous scientists, academics, and knowledgeable parties who contributed peer commentaries to her book-length article on this very matter, which appeared in the sexology journal Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2008. (For those with access via academic institutions, her article and all the peer commentaries can be found here.)

If you were to suddenly develop a strong interest in this story and/or found yourself with an inordinate amount of free reading time to pour over those essays, you would find that most of the peer commentaries argued that Dreger's retelling of this tale was horribly one-sided, focusing almost entirely on how Bailey was bullied by a few "out-of-control trans activists," but with almost no serious discussion about 1) the history of psychologists holding (and often abusing) institutionalized power over trans people (e.g., via the DSM & gatekeeper system), 2) how Bailey's book peddled anecdotes and conjecture as though they were science, and 3) the very real problem of pseudoscience being used to reinforce the discrimination and delegitimization of marginalized groups. As I say in the last paragraph of my peer commentary:

Monday, March 16, 2015

crowdsourcing for instances where "autogynephilia" is used to sensationalize or invalidate trans identities - please help & share with others!

As many of you may know, over the years I have written a lot about Ray Blanchard's theory of autogynephilia, which wrongly argues that trans women are sexually-motivated in our transitions - I debunked the theory in the article provided in the link, and further discuss how it sexualizes and invalidates trans women here.  

I am currently working on a piece that (in part) compiles instances where people outside of science/psychology cite "autogynephilia" in their efforts to sensationalize trans people or to promote anti-transgender agendas and policies. 

I have a few examples of this in hand - most notably, from Sheila Jeffreys's recent book, one from an anti-trans Catholic organization, that horrible Rolling Stone article about Lana Wachowski published before she came out as trans, and of course, last year's New Yorker article in which Michelle Goldberg used the theory to slut-shame me

I have seen many more examples than this, but I have found them to be especially difficult to track down online, as the bajillion webpages and posts discussing and debating the theory itself overwhelm any and all search engine queries I have attempted.

So that's where you come in (hopefully!). Perhaps you know of articles, news items, or stories along this line? If so, please pass along a link, a description, or a few key words so that I can search for it myself. You can do so by:

1) leaving a comment below
2) Tweet it to me @juliaserano
3) email it to me - my address can be found here:

Thanks in advance! -julia

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nobody reinforces the gender binary & nobody subverts it either (plus some retrospective thoughts about Whipping Girl)

I usually don’t publicly respond to critiques of my writings. People inevitably interpret (or misinterpret) things that I have written in all sorts of ways, and I usually just strive to articulate my ideas better the next time around. However, in the last two weeks, I have stumbled across numerous instances where people have accused me of claiming that two-spirit and other indigenous non-binary-identified people “reinforce the gender binary.” This notion so goes against everything that I believe and have written in the past that I feel compelled to address the matter here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Double Standards Work (understanding the unmarked/marked distinction)

This is one in a series of blog posts in which I discuss some of the concepts and terminology that I forward in my writings, including my recent book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive

In Excluded, I argue that instead of focusing on only one or a few forms of sexism and marginalization, we should acknowledge that there are myriad double standards out there. And given this, it is crucial for us to more generally recognize and challenge double standards whenever and wherever they occur.

To be honest, I think that we as activists tend not to be very good at doing this—it is a main reason why people who are quite familiar with one particular form of marginalization (typically one that they are personally impacted by) will nevertheless continue to single out and invalidate other groups of people, often using the exact same tactics that they abhor when used against members of their own group. In other words, a failure to recognize and understand how double standards function in a general sense is what enables various forms of exclusion to run rampant within our movements. It is also what enables numerous forms of sexism and marginalization to proliferate in society at large.   

I discuss this issue over the course of Excluded, but I address it head on in Chapter 14: “How Double Standards Work”—it is one of the pieces of writing that I am most proud of.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Transgender-themed artists, bands, music, songs & anthems

Last week, I encountered quite a number of posts & tweets in which people shared their favorite transgender music artists and trans-themed songs. I later discovered that these posts were initially inspired by an article in Bustle that featured videos of trans anthems by trans artists (e.g., Laura Jane Grace, Namoli Brennet, and Mina Caputo) in response a recent trans-themed song by Kate Pierson. Subsequently, The Advocate published a post called 37 Alternative 'Trans Anthems' by Trans Musicians featuring additional trans-themed songs/music videos by trans artists - definitely check all those wonderful songs out!

Since I have recently returned to making music, and since many people who know me primarily as a trans author & activist are not aware that I started out as a musician/songwriter, I figured that I would take this opportunity to compile some of my own trans-themed anthems to share with the world. So here we go:

My current music project is a solo lo-fi indie-pop endeavor called *soft vowel sounds*. I recently released my first record, and it contains two trans-themed anthems:

The title track Ray is my take on/parody of The Kinks' song "Lola." The video is admittedly not especially video-ish, as I wanted to highlight the lyrics of the song: