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’s disingenuous campaign against transgender activism

an introduction added September, 2015:

This post started out as “Alice Dreger and making the evidence fit your thesis” (which can be found in its original form below). Dreger’s new book Galileo’s Middle Finger had just come out, and it contained her critical portrayal of the backlash against J. Michael Bailey’s trans-misogynistic book The Man Who Would Be Queen. Most people outside of certain transgender and/or sexology circles are probably unaware that this particular part of Dreger’s book first appeared in 2009 as an article in a research journal along with numerous peer commentaries—one of which was written by me, and most of which criticized Dreger for being highly selective with the evidence she presented and/or for blatantly misrepresenting trans activists’ concerns and motives in the process. So I initially penned this post to inform potential readers about those past critical reviews of Dreger’s depiction of this particular matter.

And I thought that would be it. I had no reason to believe that she had any kind of vendetta against transgender people or trans activism per se (although some trans activists certainly did think this). Frankly, my impression at the time was that she had a story that she wanted to tell about “activism gone awry and constituting a threat to scientific freedom,” and that her narrative would be easiest to sell if she played down the trans community’s legitimate concerns and played up a handful of incidents that seemed to bolster her case.

But now I believe that I was wrong. Not about Dreger’s disingenuous portrayal of the backlash against Bailey’s book—I stand by that assessment. Rather, now I do think that she has a vendetta against transgender activism, as she has since penned a series of articles wherein she repeatedly 1) criticizes ideas and policies that are forwarded by, and generally accepted amongst, transgender activists, 2) presents selective and/or distorted evidence (usually via “straw men” and false dichotomies) to bolster her argument, 3) points to instances where some trans activists have supposedly “gone too far” (in her mind, at least) in order to paint us as unreasonable and/or extremist, 4) ignores all reasonable and knowledgeable trans activists and advocates whose view points would illustrate that the topic is way more nuanced and complicated than she is presenting it, and 5) inevitably drops in a few comments to make it seem like she is “trans-positive,” or an “ally” or “advocate” of the trans community, when in reality the only trans people she seems to respect are those who buy into psychopathologizing theories about trans identities and sexualities.