Thursday, June 11, 2015

"What Makes/Is a Woman" and the false "feminists vs transgender activists" binary

Last weekend, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Elinor Burkett called "What Makes a Woman?" If the title looks eerily familiar, it's probably because of Michelle Goldberg's "What Is a Woman?" article that appeared in The New Yorker last year. And they have more than their titles in common: They both perpetuate an absolutely *false* "feminists vs transgender activists" binary, and portray trans people (and especially trans women) as undermining feminism.

I've had many people ask me to write a response to it, but I've been too busy. Besides, I basically debunked each and every one of the assumptions Burkett makes in my book Whipping Girl. If you don't have time to read the book, here is a short piece I wrote for Ms. Magazine debunking the trans-activism-vs-feminism binary.

But lo and behold, today I will get to respond to Burkett's piece on HuffPost Live at 4pm EST! I am told that my interview will likely be in the 4:05-4:15 range - here is the link for the show if you want to watch:

I will try to post a permanent link for the segment after the show...

Postscript: The show can now be viewed here. My segment runs from about 6:50 thru 14:20.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reconceptualizing “Autogynephilia” as Female/Feminine Embodiment Fantasies (FEFs)

Note: please feel free to share and/or reference this article. If you require a "proper" citation (e.g., for an academic article) for Female/Feminine Embodiment Fantasies (FEFs), you can reference Julia M. Serano, “The Case Against Autogynephilia,” International Journal of Transgenderism 12, no. 3 (2010), 176-187.

In 2010, two review articles appeared in the peer-review literature: My article The Case Against Autogynephilia was published in The International Journal of Transgenderism, and Charles Moser's article Blanchard's Autogynephilia Theory: A Critique appeared in the Journal of HomosexualityBoth of our papers presented numerous lines of evidence that disprove the main underpinnings of autogynephilia theory, namely, the assertions that trans female/feminine-spectrum people can be readily divided into two clear-cut categories based upon sexual orientation and the presence or absence of “autogynephilia,” and that “autogynephilia” is the primary underlying cause of gender dysphoria and desire to transition in trans women who experience it. (Note: subsequent analyses by Talia Bettcher and Jaimie Veale have further demonstrated that autogynephilia theory is incorrect.)

Where our papers differ is that, while Moser continues to use the term “autogynephilia” to refer to sexual fantasies and patterns of arousal in which the “thought or image of oneself as a woman” plays a contributing role, I instead argue that we should no longer use this term for the following reasons:

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/Français 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.