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Bullshit LGBTQ+

Eighties! We’re living in the eighties!

Back in the 1980s, various fundamentalist right-wing loons decided that the board game Dungeons and Dragons and heavy metal music were corrupting the minds of children. Apparently the game was “an occult tool that opens up young people to influence or possession by demons.” This obvious lunacy came from the religious right, but it was laundered by the press who published such nonsense without investigation or criticism.

In 2021, various fundamentalist right-wing loons are claiming that the board game Magic: The Gathering and Japanese anime cartoons are corrupting the minds of children and turning them trans. This obvious lunacy comes from the religious right, and will no doubt soon be laundered by the press who’ll publish such nonsense without investigation or criticism.

Far-fetched? Just last month one of the leading anti-trans groups told the UK government’s Women & Equalities committee that people become transgender because they’re being hypnotised by “sissy porn” on YouTube. This group has been endorsed by all the leading anti-trans groups and many politicians too.

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Bullshit Hell in a handcart LGBTQ+

When the facts don’t fit, fix the facts

One of the problems with the Christian Right’s claims of trans kids being rushed into surgery is that trans kids aren’t being rushed into surgery. And that’s inconvenient when you’re trying to pass anti-trans legislation on the basis of protecting children from exactly that.

What’s a bigot to do?

Simple. Redefine the definition of kids to include adults.

I’m not kidding. In North Carolina, anti-trans Republican lawmakers have classed adults aged 18 to 21 as minors.

This enables them to do two things. One, claim that minors are being given cross-sex hormones and/or surgery, medical procedures that are indeed available to adults aged 18 to 21. And two, if the legislation is successful it means they can block healthcare for some adults as well as all teenagers.

The proposed legislation – which, thankfully, is unlikely to pass – makes it very clear what the real agenda is behind all of this. In addition to banning healthcare for trans people, it would also compel state employees to notify their parents in writing if their child displays “gender nonconformity” or expresses a desire to be treated in a way that is “incompatible” with the gender they were assigned at birth. These bills, of which there are far too many, are based on deeply regressive stereotypes of masculinity and femininity that want to keep women barefoot and pregnant and LGBT+ people in the closet.

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Bullshit LGBTQ+

IrnBruKIP

The rash of defections to Alex Salmond’s new ALBA party, which one wag on Reddit claimed stands for “all ladies beware Alex”, reads like a who’s who of transphobic SNP members.

Their defections give the lie to the claim that transphobes were ever concerned about protecting women and girls. They’re right-wing reactionaries, happy to rally round a man whose own QC said he was an “objectionable bully” and a “sex pest” and whose online supporters are often viciously misogynist.

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Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Grifters don’t care about facts

Riley Black, writing for Slate: Stop Trying to Out-Science Transphobes.

But regardless of their aims, transphobes of all stripes appeal to the authority of science—science that is pretty easy to refute.

This is a trap. Allies fall for this time and again. The same conservatives who try to deny my rights based on “science” have also denied that cigarettes cause lung cancer, that humans are driving global climate change, and that evolution is real. They are not dealing in facts.

…What we’re living through is a trans panic akin to the satanic panic of the ’80s and ’90s, when parents and police were convinced there were devil-worshipping cults infiltrating every facet of society. It is not logical. Going over, yet again, how hormone levels, chromosomes, skeletal features, and more vary in many complex ways is not going to make a lick of difference to people who see me and others like me as an abomination, a threat to the nuclear family, or somehow capable of ruining their day because I need to use the women’s room.

As Upton Sinclair put it, “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Hundreds of thousands of pounds are pouring into UK anti-trans activism, whether that’s through dark money, freelance fees, book sales or media appearances. Lying about trans people is pretty good for political gain, and it generates a lot of online ad clicks and newspaper sales too. Who’s going to let facts threaten all of that?

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Bullshit LGBTQ+

“These girls just wanted to run”

This, by Esther Wang for Jezebel, is a superb piece of journalism. It’s about the war on trans girls currently being waged by the US religious right both in the US and over here and it does something rare: it tells you about the trans girls at the centre of the moral panic over trans women in sports.

…shortly after Andraya placed third in the state’s girls’ outdoor 100-meter competition, the rightwing outrage machine zeroed in on the then-15-year-old as its next target. The New York Post and newspapers in the U.K., where a rabid transphobia pushed by groups like Fair Play for Women was flourishing, began writing about her. Adult men ranted about her in YouTube videos with titles like “How to Stop Andraya Yearwood from Beating Girls for Three More Years.” The next year, after Terry Miller—another Black trans girl in Connecticut whom Andraya would befriend—began running and at times winning races in their state, the attacks on Andraya, and now Terry as well, only intensified.

The article is very good on the clear links between the extremely powerful and rich Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT+ hate group, and the people trying to ban trans girls from sports.

It’s also very good at pointing out that the young women supposedly losing to sinister trans people are also losing to tons of cisgender girls too.

In 2018, after Terry and Andraya won gold and silver, respectively, in the state’s girls 100-meter event, Bianca Stanescu, the disgruntled mother of the girl who finished in sixth place in that race, circulated a petition during meets that called for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to change its policy on trans athlete participation. Though Stanescu’s daughter, Selina Soule, had lost to three other girls in addition to Andraya and Terry, Stanescu and Selina focused solely on the two trans girls. The mother-daughter duo became regular guests on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, which was soon flooded with content that warned girls like Andraya and Terry would “destroy” girls’ and women’s sports.

The idea that trans women would destroy women’s sports has been a right-wing trope since the 1970s and it simply hasn’t happened. Trans people have been able to compete in the Olympics for two decades; not a single trans athlete qualified for the last Olympic Games and there has never been a trans Olympic medal winner. You don’t hear about the majority of trans athletes who are not winning anything.

Spreading the (false) idea that trans girls are a threat to other girls’ sports and doing so by forging alliances with supposedly feminist groups is one of the tactics described in the 2017 meeting of religious right groups who decided to target trans people after losing their battle against equal marriage.

Few people seemed to care that while she and Terry were good runners—at times very good, medal-winning runners on the state-wide level—their best times in races like the 100-meters weren’t close to cracking the top results nationwide for girls their age. Other girls, a lot of cisgender girls, were faster, were better. Even in Connecticut, Andraya and Terry weren’t the only competitors who bested Selina in races. No one was talking about the supposed “competitive advantage” of those girls, or talking about how they had “stolen” something from Selina.

…[former athletics head] Niehoff noted that a few other trans athletes, including trans girls, were competing in Connecticut at the same time, but with far less scrutiny. “Nobody’s paying attention to the transgender student-athlete that’s not winning the medals,” she said. At competitions, she encountered parents of athletes who jeered at Andraya and Terry from the stands. “Is that the direction we want to go or do we want to be supportive and encouraging so that a young person goes through high school and comes out with some personal strength and a healthy self-esteem and a positive outlook?” Niehoff said. It was, she said, “horrible to see the lack of class, the lack of empathy, the lack of maturity by the adults.”

That lack of empathy was the result of a deliberate strategy.

Andraya’s success came at the worst possible time for girls like her—a moment when trans girls and women competing in sports were quickly becoming the focus of the religious right’s efforts to legislate trans people out of public life, a coordinated assault that relied on a calculated partnership with so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists and co-opting feminist rhetoric. After Christian conservatives lost their fight over marriage equality in 2015, they quickly pivoted to attacking trans rights, turning to collectively push for so-called bathroom bills in earnest the following year. When those failed, said Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, “Our opponents started to shift very strategically to the areas of sports and healthcare for trans youth.”

One of the things that’s really saddening about this is that much of the transatlantic hate traffic is coming from the UK. Arguments and bullshit first spouted by UK anti-trans groups have made it across the Atlantic where they are being amplified by the Religious Right and conservative pundits, and dark money from the Religious Right makes the return journey to the UK.

The need to “save” girls sports—merely the latest variation of the “save our (white) children” rhetoric that has long animated rightwing social movements—fed neatly into an existing, paternalistic moral panic about trans young people, stirred up by writers like the Wall Street Journal’s Abigail Shrier, whose book Irreversible Damage warns absurdly of the “transgender craze” that is “seducing our daughters.”

The ADF is a key part of all of this, and deeply connected to the anti-trans legal cases in the UK. Their goal is not to protect anybody. It’s to drive trans people out of existence. They are attacking trans people on multiple fronts: in anti-discrimination provision, in healthcare, in access to public facilities, in schools and in sports.

In many states, as Republican legislators push to ban trans girls from sports, they are also simultaneously introducing bills that criminalize gender-affirming care for trans youth. Collectively, these bills represent “the most relentless legislative attacks on trans lives that I have ever seen,” according to the ACLU’s Strangio. Lately, Strangio has taken to calling them “dystopian,” a characterization that is particularly apt for the bills proposing the creation of sex verification boards that would scrutinize a young athlete’s genitals, chromosomal make-up, and hormone levels.

…Cut through the “fairness” rhetoric that dresses these bills up in the hopes of making them palatable, and what lies underneath is, as Strangio put it, “a fundamental dislike and anxiety about the presence of trans people in the world.” “We’re seeing a revitalization of a sort of eugenics discourse around the abolition of the trans person and the idea that transness is itself a threat,” Strangio said. “The masks are off, so to speak.”

 

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Bullshit LGBTQ+

The real threat to women in sport

Mother Jones: The Real Threat to Women’s Sports Isn’t Trans Athletes. It’s Sexually Predatory Coaches.

As scandal after scandal emerges about the pervasive abuse of young athletes, it’s time we reevaluate our priorities. Trans athletes aren’t the problem.

It’s not just sports. Here in the UK, the “protect women” crowd who talk repeatedly about the supposed dangers of the dozen or so trans women in women’s prisons have nothing to say about the widespread abuse of women prisoners by cisgender inmates and officers. The crowdfunding campaigns that raise five or six-figure sums never go to services that desperately need funding, such as rape crisis centres and refuges. And that’s because they don’t care about protecting women. They care about harming trans people.

Penny Red’s article from a year or so ago is worth re-reading:

I’ve spoken to cis women involved in that side of the debate who have lost everything that mattered to them over years of austerity, cuts to services and welfare, who have been ground down by male violence and are now being told by people with an agenda that men in dresses are coming to take the last safe spaces they had. They are hearing, again and again, that trans people are coming to corrupt their children and convert their daughters to deviance — but if they sign up to an ideology that portrays trans women as “poison” (as transphobic feminist Shelia Jeffreys recently declared in the House of Commons), they can fight back.

This is how a lot of concerned, well-meaning women who only want a fairer, safer world came to be convinced that trans people are out to pervert children, prey on them in public toilets and refuges, and force lesbians to have sex with them against their will.

…Transphobic feminists are right to believe that there is a crisis in women’s liberation. But it’s not because of any sort of insidious neoliberal trans agenda. The people who are actually undermining women’s rights around the world are not being at all subtle about it. They’re not sending in trans women to invade domestic violence shelters. They’re just closing the shelters and taking away legal aid protections for women fleeing abusive relationships. In Britain, over half the domestic violence shelters have closed in the past decade. Around the world, misogyny and violence are becoming more acceptable, women in the public eye are being attacked and killed, and reproductive rights and sex- and gender- based protections are being torn up by right-wing governments led by tyrannical strongmen… While transphobic feminists focus their energy and attention on trans activists, the common enemy gets on with dismantling the basic rights of women and queer people of every gender.

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Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Take your potato and shove it

Another day, another manufactured outrage that’s somehow all trans people’s fault.

Hasbro, owner of the Mr Potato Head toy, is bringing out a new version that will have both male-appearing and female-appearing pieces in the same box so that you can make an entire family. Because the resulting potato heads can be male, female or either or neither, this product isn’t going to be called Mr Potato Head or Mrs Potato Head. It’s just going to be called Potato Head.

Mr Potato Head will still be sold as Mr Potato Head, and Mrs Potato Head will still be Mrs Potato Head. But that’s not what people are being told.

Sky: Mr Potato Head is no more as classic toy goes gender neutral

The Guardian: “Mr Potato Head loses ‘mister” as Hasbro opts for gender-neutral brand name

BBC: Mr Potato Head to lose “Mr” title in gender neutral rebrand

The Scotsman: Potato Head: Toy company remove the Mister from toy’s name in move to update their classic brands.

This, you’re being told, is the latest example of the Snowflake Woke Gender Police threatening civilisation as we know it. According to Piers Morgan, this shows that “woke imbeciles are destroying the world.”

It shows nothing of the sort, of course: it’s a great example of how toys don’t necessarily have to be labelled THIS IS FOR BOYS ONLY and THIS IS FOR GIRLS ONLY. And it’s also a great example of how right-wing contrarians will knowingly spread bullshit to inflame their audiences. Morgan knows he’s talking shite, but he doesn’t care.

The problem with this nonsense is that it gets used as supposed evidence against, you’ve guessed it, the sinister trans lobby. The comments are full of it, so for example on the Metro version of the story: “Yet again the trendy, wokey, snowflake minority are dictating to the majority… soon they’ll be scrapping titles like Mr, Mrs, Miss or even Ms… you can’t even say you prefer one gender over the other… what next? Trans barbie that hides the last turkey in the shop window under its skirt”

I think that last one is supposed to mean Barbie with a penis. Because if there’s one thing trans people want, it’s children’s toys with large, visible genitals.

I mean, honestly. This is nothing to do with us. I spent two hours in a Zoom meeting with over 50 trans people last night, and the topic of discussion wasn’t about the gender of toys or policing people’s language or any of the other things we’re supposedly about: it was about the completely broken trans healthcare system and the horrific delays facing trans people who require life-saving treatment. In a just world the trans healthcare crisis would be a national scandal, but in this one the media would rather just invent shit about us and spread it as widely as they can.

Like Baa Baa Green Sheep and “political correctness gone mad” in previous decades, these stories don’t care about reality: they exist to get people furious about the newspapers’ and broadcasters’ chosen enemies.

I saw an example of that today. Remember the story from the Times a few days ago that lied about inclusive language for pregnant people? (short version: guidance for NHS staff asked them not to be insensitive to trans men; The Times reported it as an NHS ban on the use of the word “mother”) It’s made its way across oceans with the US and Australian right-wing press reporting it as fact. Meanwhile in England, there really was a successful attempt to exclude people with language: the UK government changed the wording of a law specifically to exclude trans men by swapping the gender-neutral word “people” for “women”.

As ever, the people the right wing are telling you to fear are the ones they are silencing, demonising and marginalising. They can take their potatoes and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

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Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Distortion and disinformation in a media bubble

A new poll in The Scotsman report that the majority of SNP voters and almost half of all Scots women support the sacking of Joanna Cherry. The ones who don’t are primarily older, more conservative voters, particularly Tory voters.

It also reports, once again, that even after three years of misleading and scaremongering coverage across the entire Scottish media the opposition to trans people’s rights is very much limited to a small but well-connected minority: 44% of women are supportive of gender recognition reform, 27% don’t have an opinion and just 16% are against.

But that 16% gets 99% of the media coverage.

This isn’t always bias, although some of the big hitters in the Scots commentariat are clearly transphobic and reactionary. It’s often laziness and overwork or a desire to create controversy because it’s more exiting to read, watch or listen to.

There’s a good example of that today. New guidance has been issued in one English hospital about inclusive language for pregnant people including trans men. The guidance is explicit: inclusive language is *not* to replace existing terms like “mother” or “breastfeeding”, but staff are asked to consider the use of different language when the expectant person is a trans man or a non-binary person.

Here’s the relevant section:

“A gender-additive approach means using gender-neutral language alongside the language of womanhood, in order to ensure that everyone is represented and included… if we only use gender neutral language, we risk marginalising or erasing the experience of some of the women and people who use our services… we believe in human rights-based care and we can add inclusive language to our current language without subtracting anyone”.

The Times read that and published this:

These days, right, if you say someone’s a woman, you get arrested and thrown in jail.

That isn’t a misunderstanding. That’s malevolence. It is a deliberate distortion by the right-wing press, just like Baa Baa Green Sheep was. It’s already resulted in angry old men calling the hospital to verbally abuse the staff.

Trans healthcare is in crisis right now, and bigotry is affecting trans people’s access to essential services. The media doesn’t find that titillating, so even when it’s covering something serious it tries to turn it into culture war nonsense. For example yesterday, Moya Lothian-Mclean was interviewed on Sky News about a new study into appalling treatment of trans people by domestic violence organisations. The interviewer tried to derail it by asking about inclusive language, because that’s where the outrage button is, but Lothian-Mclean elegantly sidestepped the attempted derail. As writer Paris Lees put it on Twitter:

It’s a dog-whistle. I turned down 4 interview requests. I’m not discussing ‘pc culture gone mad’ when trans people are waiting three years to be seen by a specialist.

I have turned down multiple invitations to talk about GRA reform on air because the intention was to to set up a fight with a Spiked writer or someone who believes I’m being paid by The Jews to destroy civilisation.

I’m not scared of debate – I promise you my knowledge of current UK and Scottish equality law is much deeper than that of any “maybe the real bigots are the people calling bigots bigots” professional contrarian – but by taking part you’re accepting the dishonest framing. It’s the “When did you stop beating your wife?” question where the wife-beating is not questioned. For us, the framing is usually “why are you sick bastards so determined to endanger women?”.

For example, I’ve been asked to come on air to explain GRA reform “and then we’ll have the feminist point of view” from a group of anti-LGBT+, anti-abortion Christian fundamentalists who are about as far from feminism as you can possibly get.

If you go through the evidence submitted by anti-trans groups to the UK government’s committee on GRA reform, there is a stunning lack of basic knowledge about trans people: not just in regards to the law (many of the submissions clearly think the gender recognition act decides whether you get medical treatment; it doesn’t) but in regards to basic biology. And that’s reflected in the media too: this week Metro ran a lifestyle story with the headline “Transgender woman thanks nothing but hormone therapy for her breasts”. Where else do they think boobs come from? The boob fairy?

We have a situation here in the UK where almost everybody talking about trans healthcare, trans people’s lives and trans people’s rights is ignorant about what transition involves, what hormone therapy does, what the law says and pretty much everything else about us. And their dangerous misinformation isn’t just a threat to us. It’s a threat to every other marginalised group.

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Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

Tonight we’re going to panic like it’s 1999

Via The Implausible Girl on Twitter, this is from the Sunday World in Ireland in 1999.

You’ll note the horror at “same sex marriages” in the article. Well, it was a long time ago. 22 years, in fact.

Anti-trans activism is using the classic moral panic technique of pretending that something is both new and a threat to children. Trans healthcare is neither.

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Bullshit LGBTQ+ Media

“Cancelled” has become shorthand for whose lives matter

This, by Jessica Valenti, is angry and true: The People ‘Cancel Culture’ forgot.

That’s why a man who is accused of sexual harassment or abuse is ‘canceled’, while the women who accuse him are said to be taking part in a ‘witch hunt’. It doesn’t matter if those women left their school, jobs, or town because of their abuser’s behavior. In the eyes of cancel culture, they’re the real wrongdoer. They became the perpetrator as soon as they tried to hold someone more powerful than them—in this case, men—accountable.

Despite how ridiculous and clearly illogical this kind of thinking is, it’s also effective. Because who gets called ‘canceled’ has become shorthand for whose lives and happiness matters.

I read Valenti’s piece as various Scots media types posted about how awful it is that Joanna Cherry is getting online abuse. And it is awful. But I don’t recall seeing them making the same posts when the people doing the attacking were Cherry supporters going after young mothers, queer kids, trans women, disabled people and rape crisis volunteers, although they were quick to rally around JK Rowling. And that suggests that only some voices matter: the ones of the affluent, the privileged, the well-connected. The powerful.

If you react with horror at someone telling JK Rowling or Joanna Cherry to fuck off but are just fine with the demonisation and dehumanisation of marginalised groups and attacks on those who stand up for them, you’re not the good person you like to think you are. You’re saying that the only lives that matter are the ones you’d invite to dinner.

Valenti:

When the powerful lose out on privileges, it’s cancel culture—but when anyone is deprived of their rights, it’s just politics.