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Piers Morgan - Transphobe

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    Thank you Snake Plissken.

    i started thinking about Incandenza's question before i read the NYT piece. First of all i want to say that trans-exclusionary feminists (whom i'm going to refer to as 'gender critical': GCFs*) are to Morgan, Linehan etc as lexiters are to Ukip – strategically useful but unrelated. As regards the history of GCFs, i'm less qualified to give an answer than Sophie Lewis, and i didn't know about the sceptic movement in the 1990s, which would certainly help to explain the centrality of 'science' to the arguments they put forward. However, my own thinking about the peculiarities of British radical feminism went off in a different direction, which i'll try to expand upon here.

    tl;dr: i'm looking at sexual violence as the key issue, a legacy of binary thinking, and the influential role of shelters and refuges.

    Radical feminism is based on a reformulation of the marxist-materialist model, where society is divided into two classes: the exploiting and the exploited, men and women. The first task, implicit in the name (radix = root), was to explain how these classes originally came into being – to find the root of exploitation. Radfems argued that women's capacity to bear children, which made them a prize for men but could also limit their mobility and independence, tied them to their bodies like animals or slaves, whereupon they could be thought of as innately inferior and dominated.

    British second-wave feminism was comparatively slow to depart from its materialist origins. Whereas the first US activists emerged from anti-war activism and the civil rights movement, and French feminists from May '68, in the UK the centrality of social class and the influence of critical theory made it necessary to address, from the beginning, how the domination of women and the exploitation of the working class are related. i think the tradition of theorising oppression through the lens of the class struggle might have left a legacy both in the prevalence of binary thinking with regard to gender, and in the push for women to develop consciousness of themselves as a class, as a sex, as women.

    One of the great achievements of the second wave in the UK was the invention (in 1971) and proliferation of women's refuges for victims of domestic and sexual violence. It was built through grassroots, largely working-class activism, and some shelters came to function almost as separatist communes, drawing together into a kind of sisterhood women from different and mostly unprivileged backgrounds – the role of ex-service users in funding and running the shelters was (and still is) substantial. What they shared was a story of having suffered, and escaped from, violent men.

    i think a vaguely utopian vibe still lingers over the early days of the shelters. They were self-funding, self-managed and independent of state control. They took in women who were desperate and wounded and made them a part of a community. And they were spaces where women could be safe from men, spaces that were free of men. Separatism, in this sector, was a success.

    i think shelters and rape crisis centres have been the first places to go for young British proto-feminists wanting to get involved in activism and to meet like-minded people. As an issue, i'm arguing that violence against women and girls (VAWG) has the rallying, uniting appeal for UK feminists that abortion seems to have in the US. And whereas gender is irrelevant to abortion rights – if you're pregnant, it doesn't matter what gender you are – in VAWG it's a flashpoint.

    The women who work in refuges or operate rape crisis helplines see the effects of men's violence over and over. Many have experienced it for themselves. During the New Labour years, local and central government tried to make it a condition of funding for shelters and helplines that they offer services to men as well as women. The shelters resisted this, not only for practical reasons of space, security and lack of training, but also for ideological reasons. Refuges don't see their mission as just providing a roof and a bed and a triple-locked front door. They see it as explicitly feminist, a way for women to regain confidence and trust and self-worth in a safe environment. It is therefore incompatible with providing a service to male victims of violence.

    Women working in the sector suspected that New Labour was not simply centralising and micromanaging, but that, prompted by men's rights activists, it was trying to alter the ideological basis of what they were doing and had done for decades, towards a liberal model of 'equality' rather than a radical one of liberation. i believe the retrenchment of radical feminism accelerated in this symbolically critical field at this point, which was pretty much the same time that queer theory and deconstruction began to dominate women's studies in universities, and that trans activists started organising via the internet to protest their exclusion from women's spaces – notably, from safe spaces such as shelters. (i'd like to add here that trans people were also excluded by a fair few LGB organisations, which in any case had lost a lot of their grassroots activists to Aids, and were more thoroughly co-opted by New Labour's middle-class mainstreaming agenda than the radical feminists were.)

    The hyper-defensive, siege-mentality attitude of GCFs can, i think, be partially explained by the fact that the VAWG sector has genuinely been under siege for a long time, and not just from the whittling down of its funding during the Tories' austerity drive. i think they consider trans women to be the latest in a long line of schemes and trojan horses designed by men to undermine their autonomy. They blame trans women in the same way that people blame immigrants for all sorts of things that are not their fault. It's bigotry, and sloppy, rigid thinking, and it must be rebutted, but in the great British tradition i'm suggesting there is a materialist root.

    Sophie Lewis brings up mumsnet, which i agree has been key in the spread of gender critical feminism far and beyond the VAWG sector. Mumsnet has a subforum for discussing women's rights issues and it has always been dominated by radical second-wave ideas. For a few years when i lurked on the subforum, which was buried like Books in a dark corner of the site, there were few passers-by and a very small community of regular contributors, most of whom seemed to be over 45. They were all very smart, very lucid, and held strong opinions; most of them were GCFs, but the subject of trans women rarely came up. From about 2014-15, the subforum began to be blitzed with threads about trans women, and the issue crept into the other subforums too, reaching users of all ages who had minimal interest in women's rights and no tools for critiquing what they were reading. i don't know what caused this eruption, but the owners' response was absolutely dismal, and the site became a cesspit of fallacy and bigotry. (The phenomenon of mumsnet, and its relation to feminism, is interesting in itself – it is the one Brit-centric place on the net where you can find a community of women, and the ambience, the content matter, the style of argument really are different. But the centrality of motherhood makes it problematic from a feminist viewpoint, even without the hard selling of baby products, the full-on trans-hatred, etc.)

    i think in the UK we have to reluctantly accept that the schism is here for a while, at least until the GCFs, who are mostly older, begin to retire or to die out. Where i live we have two groups of feminist activists (one is trans-welcoming, the other not so much) and two VAWG organisations (ditto). In both cases the splits seem to date from around 10 years ago, and hostility to trans people was what caused them.

    If the problem was just Piers Morgan being an arse the divide would be so much easier to heal.


    * i dislike Terf because it associates radical feminism with transphobia, when plenty of radfems are trans-welcoming, and plenty of transphobic feminists are not radical.


      That is very worth being published, if you are so inclined.

      Thank you for posting it.

      I find the apparent centrality of Mumsnet to British/English life to be completely bewildering.


        I second all of Ursus's post. That is really enlightening.


          What a place OTF is, at times.

          Thank you, laverte.


            Thank you very much, laverte. There's a lot to think about there.

            Is Mumsnet the site that gave us the image of a poster's husband who keeps a glass of water on his nightstand to dunk his penis in after having sex? Why can't all the posts be like that?


              laverte, many thanks. Materialist feminism was gradually challenged by the idea that men like to dominate women sexually (anti-porn movement) and then social constructionism, following the popularity of Foucault's study of the origins of sexuality. None of these really challenged the gender binary as such (despite constructionism having the tools to do so) and I think trans studies have always stood out as a separate academic field partly for that reason. However, gender studies in the US is now embracing the fruits of trans studies so I think this is changing.

              The exclusion of transpersons from, say, rape crisis centres seems to be partly paranoia about feminist spaces being invaded and partly simply a territorial exclusion because feminists want to control the narrative regarding gender violence, despite the fact that transpersons suffer very high levels of violence. There's also the crap that "you can't understand women's issues unless you were born female", which is like saying white academics can't study racism.


                Originally posted by Incandenza View Post

                Thanks. Ken spoke about the issue briefly on a Second Captains last week in a discussion about trans athletes, and remarked how there is almost no controversy around trans identity in Ireland.
                Well after much humming and hawing, and courtcases, we just passed a self identification law, in 2015 and hopefully that's broad enough and now no-one ever has to think about it again, and it's the new normal. It's a big deal to the people directly affected, but I'm not sure what it has to do with anyone else,and that would be the way that most people would think about it. Most people probably don't even know about it. Absent a bunch of bastards making some kind of deal out of it for bullshit culture war purposes, I don't think anybody really cares very much, unless they're personally involved. Someone deliberately has to make an issue of it. Our organized religions immolated themselves in flame so that's not an issue. And that whole institutionalized child abuse thing cast a lot of doubt on the moral value of their teachings. And the response among people who are aware of the weird turn in Graham Linehan's life either falls into two camps. "He's a cunt for being unpleasant to trans people", or "he's having some sort of health issues." I doubt that there are too many people in the "You know he might have a point here" camp. The thing he's become fixated on, just doesn't matter.

                The self-identification legislation route has a lot going for it. It's bloody basic good manners for a start, and you get an entirely pointless debate out of the way, you've removed an arbitrary and offensive obstacle from the lives of some people, and people can get on with their lives.


                  I have heard the likes of fuckin Pat Kenny try and make a Newstalk Both Sides bullshit controversy out of Trans athletes when getting a taxi (I think the O'Brien shills who replaced Garcia et al on Off the Ball may have done similar). I really hope the Linehan/Navratilova/Wings Over Hillsborough types don't gain a foothold in the 26 Counties. Already piss annoying MSP Joan McAlpine (along with Pete Wishart the kind of Nat areswipe politico that could make me a frothing Unionist) is leading a backbench backlash against the SNP Govt's enlightened proposed self-id law for Scotland, which had barely a peep of controversy when first mooted a few years back. Maybe Ireland legislating first will save it from the worst of the idiot/bigot backwash.
                  Last edited by Lang Spoon; 22-03-2019, 23:07.


                    Apparently Iain Huntley, multisex toilets and cheating athletes will abolish Lesbianism or something according to noted feminist and Friend of teh Gays Stuart Campbell (who is the dictionary definition of punchable face) and that hilarious Linehan fella.
                    Last edited by Lang Spoon; 22-03-2019, 23:17.


                      And what's wrong with abolishing lesbianism? Fewer fights at the pool tables.

                      Last edited by Gerontophile; 22-03-2019, 23:50. Reason: (Totally the wrong winky thing)


                        The Irish author, John Boyne (arguably one of the most talented contemporary writers in this country), has become embroiled in the transgender debate after setting his impending novel around the topic, but getting off to the wrong start immediately with a misgendered title (My Brother is Jessica). Anyway, he then angered trans activists by rejecting the term "cis" in an Irish Times article, and apologising to Graham Lenihan before quitting Twitter. Still, the whole saga may very put the average person, whether gay or straight, off commentary on the matter, for fear of misinterpretation.


                          i think you mean for fear of blundering into a topic they know nothing about, which is none of their business, and where their 'commentary' is likely to hurt and offend others while making themself look like a fanny.


                            John Boyne wrote the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas? If dodgy as fuck schmaltz like that gets you touted as the Heir to Colm Toibin if not Joyce, I'm glad I don't read much "literary fiction" anymore.


                              He strikes me as the Irish Ian McEwan after a cursory google. I can think of no more damning judgment, outwith being the Irish Will Self.


                                He also looks like Rory McIlory's bald big brother. The prick.


                                  Originally posted by Lang Spoon View Post
                                  John Boyne wrote the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas? If dodgy as fuck schmaltz like that gets you touted as the Heir to Colm Toibin if not Joyce, I'm glad I don't read much "literary fiction" anymore.
                                  In fairness, The Heart's Invisible Furies was a credible piece of adult fiction.


                                    More from Jay Hulme:



                                      delicatemoth: i don't know if it will sadden or cheer you to know that i'd have said something similar to your friend not so long ago. You're one of the people who helped me to learn to do better and to think better, when you took the time to engage with me on a thread here. Of course you shouldn't have to do that work, especially given the risks involved, but i wanted to remind you that you did and do make a difference, and to thank you for it.

                                      If it's any consolation, the Concerned Public is almost as ignorant about women's refuges as it is about trans people. If we rarely see a story in the media about violence or abuse in refuges, it's because the vetting and safeguarding processes are tight. By far the greatest risk to women in refuges is the one from budget cuts and the closure of specialist sites. (More and more refuge spaces are in fact empty council accommodation with little or no proximate specialist support.)


                                        I also want to thank DM, from whom I've learned a huge amount including - ironically - making me to look up and realise that it's a thing: being a white straight cis man, I should not expect, and certainly not demand, any explanations from members of groups who already have a much tougher time just living their lives. It's not their job to do yet more extra work for the benefit of my education.


                                          I thought the point of the "My Brother is Jessica"'s title was that it's written from the point of view of a kid who is trying to assimilate that his sibling is transgender, so therefore that is how they'd say it. (Please bear in mind that I haven't read the book, I'm just conjecturing). If that is the case, then I can see that. I'm 45, and have never knowingly known anyone who is transgender, and therefore would almost certainly make many, many accidentally insulting / patronising comments that I genuinely didn't mean when meeting such a person. So if this Joyce is writing from the point of view of a kid, then surely the title is admissable?


                                            Yeah, without DM's posts I can imagine a parallel universe where Linehan and the Terfs would be making sense to me, at least in a bullshit Both Sides Have A Point way.


                                              Originally posted by pebblethefish View Post
                                              So if this Joyce is writing from the point of view of a kid, then surely the title is admissable?
                                              It's certainly admissible. He can write it and call it what he likes, but it seems that we can't say "Hey, this looks like a clueless hack seeking to cash in on a media-whipped up controversy that has led to men threatening gender-nonconforming women (cis and trans) in toilets*, and we can tell because we've seen and heard this shit so many times before" without The Times (which is basically a hate sheet) screaming about 'trans fascists' (do you realise how offensive and potentially dangerous this is when actual fascists want to kill us?). Did you read the links I posted? It seems pretty obvious Boyne (not Joyce, though that made me chuckle mightily, thanks!) isn't acting in good faith. My understanding is that his book's plot concerns the trans girl's mother's bid to become Prime Minister being in danger because she has a trans daughter, so at the end Jessica, um, puts on a football shirt and grows stubble (I am not making this up). This is one of Ireland's most talented contemporary writers?! You know what, Beckett was actually French, Joyce was actually Italian and Flann O'Brien was English, cos Irish people obviously can't write for toffee.

                                              But then again, I haven't actually read it so can't say anything. Fuck, better not say anything about fascism or anti-semitism cos I haven't read Mein Kampf or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. On the other hand, I am pretty confident I am the only person on this board, and one of a thankfully small number in this country, allowed to critique Ian Brady's, um, ideas cos I've actually read half of Gates Of Janus. Everyone else HAS TO ACCEPT that Brady was an ubermensch who was entitled to do what he liked. You HAVE TO, cos you haven't read it. Do you see how fatuous and despicable (and conveniently remunerative for bad writers) that argument is?

                                              The really curious (and great) thing about this is that normal people, who don't work in the media or belch out cultural commodities for cash, tend to be a lot better than those who do. I had a great day today, which is why I had the mental strength to come on here and educate without swearing at people. I got the bus to Camden. A woman and a small girl (I think granddaughter, though I'm not certain) sat in front of me, playing I Spy. The girl kept glancing round while I was reading my book, and I heard her ask her guardian "Is that a boy or a girl?" Without looking at me, the woman kindly told her not to be rude ("You don't like it when people are rude to you"). The girl kept glancing round. Now, although I've never wanted my own, I really like children. My natural impulse would be to smile at her, make a funny face, maybe bob up and down to make her laugh etc. But there's this moral panic whipped up about how people like me are a threat to children. So I had to try and clock body language cues from the woman to see if it was safe for me to interact. Does that remind you of anything? It reminded me of how women, cis and trans, try and check cues from men in the vicinity to see if they're a potential threat. Anyway, the woman seemed cool, so I decided to start doing some rhythmic clicking noises and bobbing around to try and entertain the girl. This emboldened her to ask me "Are you a boy or a girl?" Resisting the temptation to start singing The Barbarians, I replied "Does it matter? I'm a girl, but it's a bit complicated." The woman was indeed cool, so we started chatting about stuff. "She's just curious", "Yeah, I know, it's fine" etc. We got off at the same stop, and the girl once again asked "Are you a boy or a girl?" Us adults both burst out laughing (I actually felt bad about this, cos when I was small I didn't like it when grownups laughed heartily at things that didn't seem funny) and said our goodbyes. I said "It was a pleasure, and I really mean that" and as they walked off I heard the woman say, kindly but very firmly, "She's a girl." The encounter put me in a great mood for my trip into town, where to my chagrin the Extinction Rebellion folk had not stopped the traffic so i couldn't blissfully wander the streets like I did when Reclaim The Streets took the City ten years ago. Oh yeah, and I held the door open for an older woman at the chemist and she said "Thank you, young lady" and I thought 'I'm forty fucking six! Alright!'

                                              *I really, really wish I'd posted the Twitter thread by a cis woman talking about how, after 20 years with short hair, she's growing it out because she was followed into a public lavatory by a man who proceeded to bang on her stall door and aggressively demand that she leave. But it's trans women who are a menace in the bogs.
                                              Last edited by delicatemoth; 19-04-2019, 03:14.


                                                Now, going back to Boyne, there's a darker side to his hackery. It reinforces the idea that this is a phase, kids will grow out of it, or can be conversion therapied out of it, like Alan Turing was successfully conversion therapied out of being gay (we all know he's happily living with his wife in the nice house he was awarded by a grateful British state, don't we?) Almost every trans person will tell you this isn't the case. Respectable medical authorities will mostly tell you this isn't the case (I am not looking links up now because I have actually posted about this on this board before). After desperately denying these strange, appalling feelings from the age of 5 or 6 (I remember trying to fall down the stairs to break my leg aged 8 so I wouldn't have to be in the nativity cos my angel costume was too girly and I was terrified people would be able to tell I liked wearing it) I eventually broke down and started to accept myself in my late 30s - thank fuck for the internet (which transphobes really, really want to cut trans kids - and in some cases adults - off from). By the way, when I mean 'accept myself' I don't mean I started being bold enough to wear skirts and make up and what not. I was doing that from my teens, but despite what haterz think that's not the issue at all - just like cis people, trans people have a very wide range of gender and personality expression, and just like cis people, those trans people whose expression aligns with social conventions tend to have an easier time of it. No, by 'accept myself' I mean 'not consider myself a disgusting freak like society tells me I am'. But I still wanted to avoid transitioning, because it's terrifying and my mum would hate it and people might attack me and all that. So much so that it took until I was so depressed I was almost completely immobile, constantly suicidal and imminently going to be properly homeless for me to decide it couldn't be worse than what i was going through. That's 35+ years of giving myself my own conversion therapy. This just in - it didn't work!

                                                My experience is reasonably typical of many late transitioners, except that I was really lucky to have a family and social circle who didn't pressure me into trying to be masculine, beat the sissy out of me or any of that stuff. In fact I had pretty much the quiet acceptance, if not encouragement, of my mild assigned-gender non-conformity that 'phobes seem to think is all trans people need. IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE. Because I am not actually male. This, btw, is why I absolutely loathe 'identifies as' language. It's a subtly coded way of saying we're not really who we think we are. This, imo, is absolutely the dominant attitude of 'nice' cis people who really don't want to hurt us but still refuse to believe us cos it's common sense, innit. There are two genders, completely determined by what your genitals look like and something something chromosomes, and that's that. Cos scientific understanding is fixed, immutable, and never advances, and we've always forever known about chromosomes since 1956 when their number was correctly determined, which is obviously the dawn of science. From 1923 to 1956 it was mistakenly thought there were 24 pairs due to observational error, because science is fixed and immutable and never advances or gets corrected (yes, this is from wiki, sue me). It's pub logic, very often deployed by people who in other circumstances deplore pub logic, and yes I have been known to go off at (genuinely) well-meaning people who say 'identifies as'. Sorry. Can you see now why it pisses me off?

                                                So, in my early 40s I start to go through all the hoops set in front of me by a medical establishment that, while it accepts that being trans is a thing (because of stuff like peer-reviewed research and all that unscientific attention-seeking nonsense), remains reluctant to actually offer treatments that have been demonstrated to ease dysphoria. My mum (who is a hard leftie who gets absolutely outraged by racism, treatment of refugees and all vulnerable minorities apart from this one that I happen to belong to) is indeed pissed off. I tell her to do her own research. Six months into transitioning I tell her that I've gone from being suicidal 90% of the time to 10% of the time. Yada yada yada.

                                                I'm hoping you've noticed something by now. It's to do with time scales, and how they affect human bodies, which are at the centre of the issue here, and there are clues scattered throughout my two lengthy posts. I'm going to break to make tea before continuing. I'm hoping that some interested people are reading this, and if they think they have noticed what I'd like them to notice then I'd like them to post.

                                                I really appreciate the supportive posts from laverte (I always appreciate the posts from laverte, you're a fucking champion), SB and LS, as well as pebble's polite and perfectly reasonable observation/question. laverte, I absolutely appreciate and applaud people who do the research and realise they were wrong

                                                (Btw, I get on really fucking well with my mum now, she has absolutely done the work cos she is one cool woman. Still haven't seen her since my previous life though)
                                                Last edited by delicatemoth; 19-04-2019, 04:49.


                                                  DM, I wish I could share some of that. The bus story is fucking lovely.