Responding to Skepto re: evangelicals

Skepto makes me think a lot. I honestly would need to write like a thousand word essay for each of his paragraphs if I were to respond to him properly, and it’s too overwhelming to respond to everything, so I just respond to what seems the most important. This comment about evangelicals made me chuckle, and I guess since I found it amusing I wanted to write about it.

I said: “The hatred evangelicals feel for both trans and gay people might be the exact same thing: homophobia based on someone either being gay or being perceived to be gay.”

Skepto said: “Ts ts, it wasn’t hatred. It was love and compassion and a genuine desire for them to come to find joy in the LORD, listening to His words of wisdom, and living the life He has planned for them which alone will give them freedom and inner peace.
(Which is written sarcastically, but also 100% serious. The people I grew up with genuinely believed that it was and is in gay and trans people’s best interest to not be gay and trans any more, just as you do regarding trans people. Good intentions simply don’t make for good actions, which is why it’s so important for people with good intentions to honestly listen to the people they’re trying to help and regularly critically re-assess what they are doing.)”

Okay, I’m still laughing. I can definitely hear the sarcasm and I feel the same way about people who talk about finding joy in “the LORD.” Like, you have fun with that, weirdo!

But seriously… Skepto finds a similarity between evangelicals having compassion for gay/trans people and wanting them to find joy in the LORD and me having compassion for trans people and wanting them to be “cured” by feminism. So I think it’s worth it to have a conversation about the difference between me and evangelicals.

The first difference would be that I don’t believe in “the LORD.” I consider myself an atheist. I think that we are likely here by accident and that our lives basically have no purpose and that when we die, we’re gone for good. I don’t think that there is such thing as heaven or hell (although a Trump presidency comes pretty close to hell I’d have to say) and there is no such thing as a soul and the only things that exist are what we can measure and observe. When someone takes organized religion seriously and believes there is a dude in the sky watching over us I think they’re as nutty as a fruitcake. I do make comments about “the goddess” occasionally but I don’t believe in a literal goddess, it’s just kind of an expression I use to be pro-woman. Like, if there was a creator, she would definitely be female. I think woman-centered spiritually is kind of nice, although I don’t think it’s literally real.

The next point would be the following: do I actually think it’s wrong to be trans? I have already answered that question here. I’m not going to copy and paste that whole post here, you can just go read it, but the jist of that post is that the question “is it okay to be trans” is too oversimplified, because “trans” means a lot of different things. In regards to FtMs who have dysphoria and who make body modifications, I don’t think they’re doing anything morally wrong, I think they’re just trying to deal with the situation they’re in. It gets very different when talking about someone like Stephonknee who is practicing a gross sexual fetish in public. I think what he’s doing is morally wrong. I can’t include trans people all in one blanket statement because I have very different views on different people.

My objection to body modification is not specific to transgenderism. I am just as against labiaplasty, Botox injections, liposuction, breast augmentation, and anything else women do to look like an “ideal” woman. The reason I don’t like that people make body modifications is sort of similar to the way some people think you shouldn’t solve mental health problems with medication. You should work on underlying psychological issues in therapy rather than medicating yourself, that sort of thing. Body modification is not a moral issue if you’re choosing it yourself, it’s just a strategy I disagree with because it constitutes an injury and I don’t think it addresses the underlying problem.

For the record, I’ve had depression since puberty, and I’ve been on medication twice, both times because I couldn’t actually live my life anymore and had to do something. I have been told that I should stay on antidepressants for the rest of my life, but I refuse, and I’m off them now. As long as I am relatively stable and doing okay I don’t want to be on medication, basically because I don’t want anything artificial in my body unless it absolutely has to be there. I’m not actually trying to eliminate the existence of transgender medical intervention, but I think it should be a last resort when nothing else works, and the default response to dysphoria should be to start with therapy.

Evangelicals want gay and trans people to stop being gay and trans… well again, since trans means so many things I can’t possibly make a blanket statement about that. In many cases it’s not actually possible to “stop being trans.” If you are someone with gender dysphoria you can’t just wave a magic wand and make it go away. (If you could, it would be people with dysphoria waving the magic wand themselves, not evangelicals or feminists, because they don’t want to be dysphoric.) There are some people in the trans community who don’t even have gender dysphoria and aren’t in any distress and just like wearing cool outfits and calling themselves by an identity label. I think those people are just being silly…and they can’t really “stop being trans” because…they’re not actually transitioning in any way so there’s nothing for them to stop doing, really. The main thing I think trans people should stop doing is they should stop taking away women’s rights. That has nothing to do with their personal decisions about their bodies, it has to do with their public activism.

So, about public activism. Evangelicals have a habit of taking away other people’s rights. They like to take away women’s reproductive rights and same-sex marriage rights. That’s because they think their version of morality has to be forced on other people. This is more similar to what trans activists are doing than to what feminists are doing. Trans activists are shutting down radical feminist events by sending in death threats until the venue cancels, they are no-platforming feminists who try to speak, they are taking away sex segregation in sports, washrooms, and locker rooms, and effectively reversing decades of women’s hard-won sex-based protections. Feminists are not trying to take away civil rights from trans people or prevent them from speaking, we’re just trying to protect women’s rights. You don’t see feminists shutting down conferences on transgenderism, or sending death threats to venues where trans people are speaking, or trying to prevent trans people from accessing services. The bathroom debates are where it gets sticky—I know that when a facility only has male and female washrooms, feminists will argue that trans people should use the washroom that corresponds to their birth sex in many cases, which leaves trans people feeling like they can’t use any washroom…but I also know that we generally advocate for the creation of single-user, unisex washrooms because we do want people to be accommodated, just not by letting the entire world into the women’s washroom. I find that feminists are pretty reasonable about having a conversation about how to accommodate everyone and looking for solutions. Certainly my goal is to look for solutions for everybody.

I don’t try to force my beliefs on anybody. People can either agree or disagree with what I say as they wish. I think my ideas are reasonable because they are reality-based and don’t rely on faith. I find the ideas of both evangelicals and transgenderists rely on faith rather than a description of reality. Evangelicals believe in God and transgenderists believe in gender identity—both subjective things that they claim to experience but that can’t be proven, measured, quantified, or described in any coherent way.

I don’t actually expect that any people with gender dysphoria will read my blog and be like “It’s a miracle! I’m cured! No more dysphoria!” It doesn’t work like that. I think feminist analysis just helps people to make sense of their situation. I write this blog because I like writing, in fact I love writing so much that I never want to quit, and I just hope that someone somewhere gains something from the analysis and can apply it to their lives. Some detransitioners who found feminism have said they no longer have dysphoria or that they still have some dysphoria but no longer identify as trans. That’s not because they became convinced that it’s “wrong” to be trans or that they should “stop being trans.” It’s because they were people who were suffering from sexism and homophobia in the first place and feminist analysis gave them a lens through which to see that, and then they went through a lot of self-exploration and healing that involved a lot more than feminist blogs—it was work they did on their own and it often involved meditation, exercise, and community with other detransitioners. Not everyone will find feminist analysis useful, and that’s that.

I don’t believe in dogma and adhering to group norms, I believe in promoting an analysis that people can use to make sense of the world around them. What people choose to do with that analysis is up to them. I am open to changing my mind, and if I ever see any compelling evidence that there is such a thing as an innate gender identity then I’ll believe it, but so far I have only seen evidence of sexism, homophobia, and mental illness that lead people to seek body modification.

All things considered, I don’t think I resemble an evangelical at all.

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21 thoughts on “Responding to Skepto re: evangelicals

  1. Being an evangelical means your ideology has no way to account for a lot of things, because it’s a belief system that’s not based in facts. If you are an evangelical, of course, this doesn’t really matter to you, since facts are relatively unimportant and faith is what counts.

    Being a radical feminist (or any number of other ideologies) is being part of a fact-based belief system. So radical feminism has no way to account for trans people, and this seems to bother radical feminists, because they write about trans people more than almost anyone else in an effort to find some way to fit trans people into radical feminist theory, with varying levels of success. Usually minimal since there are some core assumptions radical feminists aren’t willing to change (such as “the human body should not be modified” and “experiences of maleness and femaleness are mutually exclusive”).

    I see that as a pretty significant difference. Being dead set on facts and new ideas vs shaking your head and saying “I’ll pray for you”.

    (Trans activism was basically radical feminism with a find-and-replace “man” with “cis” and “woman” with “trans”, but lately has turned into something closer to a religion. “I believe I am female and that’s all that matters. You TERFs hate Jesus but he loves you 0:)”)

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    • But “the body should not be modified” is not just an arbitrary belief that I feel I have to adhere to. It’s not really even part of radical feminist theory. It’s just common sense that since surgery is an injury and it can also cause further injury, and can cause long-term negative effects like pain and numbness, that you should not have surgery just to try to fit yourself into an idea of what you should look like. The reason you shouldn’t do that is not because you should fit yourself into radical feminist theory, but because you are a worthy person who deserves wholeness, safety, and good health, and trying to fit into ideals of masculinity or femininity is not a good reason to compromise your wholeness, safety and good health. It always amazes me when people don’t see this. It seems really self-evident to me. If people don’t give a shit about pain, numbness, and possible surgical complications, then they can go ahead and do whatever they want, but they really shouldn’t be promoting this as a “no big deal” option for kids and I reserve the right to be horrified when people hurt themselves for no good reason.

      Liked by 3 people

      • “It’s just common sense”

        see, radical feminism as an ideology has interrogated and discarded a lot of other “common sense” beliefs, ranging from “same-sex relations are unnatural because they can’t make a baby” to “men and women have different brains” to whatever. other beliefs are tested and shown to be accurate, such as “rape is basically a male crime” or whatever. whereas other common sense beliefs, like “the body shouldn’t be altered”, are not checked at all and taken for granted.

        I guess the question is why should “wholeness” be prioritised over happiness? Why is “good health” an ethically correct position? (Bearing in mind that some of us will never have good health and will have to take medication for the rest of our lives, and probably die earlier even with medication, simply because that’s what offers the best quality of life.) I’m sure it seem self-evident to you, but I mean, “same-sex relations are unnatural” seems self-evident to a lot of evangelicals. Or let me put it another way: it’s not in any way self-evident or clear to me that the well-being of a lump of diseased and disgusting flesh I did not consent to possess should take priority over the well-being of me, the human being inside that lump of flesh.

        I guess on issues like this there will always be an empathy gap. That said, it’s definitely a notable difference that feminists are willing to take alternative views into account, whereas evangelicals obviously aren’t.

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        • I don’t think it’s possible to compare “same-sex relationships are unnatural” and “the body shouldn’t be modified.” In the first one, the word ‘unnatural’ is being used wrong. If my feelings come from me, and I’m a living thing, then my feelings are natural. Besides, anti-gay conservatives aren’t actually against things that are artificial (you don’t see them campaigning against plastic, for example) so when they say that homosexuality isn’t natural they’re just talking shit, all they’re really saying is that gay people shouldn’t love each other. There’s no argument to be made that love is harmful or wrong, so their position doesn’t make sense. But in “the body shouldn’t be modified” there is an argument for that…it’s true that cutting and removing body parts is an injury.

          You’re talking about your self like it’s separate from your body. You aren’t separate from your body, you are your body.

          There is still that difference of public activism. Anti-gay Christians do want same-sex marriage to be illegal, and they’d make it illegal if they could, but feminists aren’t campaigning to make transgender surgery illegal. We critique it for sure, and we generally don’t want to allow it for anyone under 18, but I don’t see anyone trying to actually make it illegal for adults to modify their bodies. Personally, I would never want to fight against body modification by banning it. That would backfire big time, and ultimately, adults can do what they want with their bodies regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.

          Liked by 2 people

    • “Being an evangelical means your ideology has no way to account for a lot of things, ”

      I think you got it backwards. If you’ve ever tried to dialogue with a xtian fanatic you’re well aware of their circular logic. But one thing they do have is an answer and an explanation for everything, often the same answer and explanation for everything.

      Radical feminism accounts for trans people very well actually. It’s probably the only school of thought that does. Radfems write about trans people because trans is destroying women’s sovereignty. If trans were not determined to destroy women-only spaces and the lives of children (some who would be future women) through eugenic experimentation, radical feminism might still have an opinion but probably not as much of a reaction.

      ‘The body’ should not be modified’ is not some core tenet so much as a recurring issue for some of us in a female-hating culture. A tattoo or piercing is not on the par with liposuction is not on the par with chemical sterilization, mutilation and a lifelong dependency on the medical establishment.

      “experiences of maleness and femaleness are mutually exclusive”

      Hmm, not sure what is meant by experiences here. There are intrinsic experiences tied to our biology (e.g. childbirth) but if anything I keep hearing that aside from those of the intrinsic type, our experiences can be (or could be) pretty interchangeable. And that’s where gender steps in to ruin the day. There is nothing intrinsic about my biology that prevents me from flying a plane yet that experience in our society is reserved mostly for males. That’s gender.

      I agree with your conclusion about the xtians being more fantasy than reality based whereas radfems are just the opposite.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Radical feminism accounts for trans people very well actually. It’s probably the only school of thought that does.”

        hmmm

        “Radfems write about trans people because trans is destroying women’s sovereignty. If trans were not determined to destroy women-only spaces and the lives of children (some who would be future women) through eugenic experimentation”

        this is… a fairly extreme misunderstanding of trans people, and even trans activism (which i’m very critical of myself—not exactly a genderist here), so I’ll have to say not really. >_>

        “Hmm, not sure what is meant by experiences here.”

        Both intrinsic biological experiences and social ones (male privilege, sexism). It’s fairly common for radical feminists to claim that sexism experienced by transwomen, or male privilege experienced by transmen, is “misdirected”. (Trans activists claim the opposite: transmen experience “misdirected sexism” etc.) It’s also fairly common for radical feminists to deny that the bodies of post-transition trans people have biological features of both sexes, instead claiming it’s just a “costume” or something like that, or finding some way to argue that those features don’t “count” because they aren’t “natural”.

        I will say purple sage is one of the better trans-critical bloggers out there and I always appreciate her work.

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        • I have to agree with Mary Macha that trans activists are destroying women’s sovereignty. This has been well documented. It might not represent the views of every trans person, but it’s what the activists are doing. (That’s why I really hope that the trans people who comment here will agree with me that there are problems with trans activism.)

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        • I agree that it’s what they’re doing but I would argue that isn’t their intention at all, as it isn’t hard to elicit support for women’s sovereignty from trans activists if you use the right kind of language. I think what they are doing is trying to supplant radical feminism and get access to the kind of energy and solidarity it creates. (Janice Raymond has some issues, but that chapter of The Transsexual Empire is spot on.) Taking anything away from women is pretty much unintentional, and just comes from the male socialisation thing of not noticing women unless you happen to need something from them. Like every time I’ve been at a party where men are sitting around drinking wine and chatting and women are in the kitchen making food; they aren’t even aware of the fact that women are present and doing work for them, and that includes the kind of men who would be horrified to learn they were putting an undue burden on women.

          It’s important to point this out so people on the outside of trans activism and such will be aware of it, but I don’t believe you can fight trans activism by assuming that is its purpose. It does often seem to me like not enough attention has been paid to the way trans activism attempts to coopt the intellectual and spiritual heritage of radical feminism, and ways to fight back against them on their own turf. But idk. To be honest I probably shouldn’t be here and writing this kind of thing at all lol. Sorry if I’m being a nuisance — no offence intended at all by any of these posts. Feel free to delete them if you like.

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  2. Great article.

    “Good intentions simply don’t make for good actions, which is why it’s so important for people with good intentions to honestly listen to the people they’re trying to help and regularly critically re-assess what they are doing.”

    I would add that personally, I came to my conclusions *by* listening to trans people, as my opinions were much more “transgender party line” *before* I had experience with trans people.

    I lived with and was intimate with one and watched him become more and more unhappy the more he pursued being trans. I watched him lie whenever his reality contradicted the transgender activist narrative. I watched him become delusional and imagine persecution where there was none, and sometimes where people were going out of their way to validate him. I watched him melt down and cry every night and become suicidal. And no, for me it was not just anecdotal based on one person — I also saw it happen to the people in his support groups and heard about it from wives and partners.

    At the same time, I’ve been listening and listening and asking but haven’t yet heard anything compelling or even non-contradictory on a number of troubling topics: What makes a particular man a woman, exactly? Why should restrooms be separated by gender instead of sex? What is going to be done to protect the safety of women? Where’s the evidence that transwomen are less safe peeing next to men than women are? Why wear a bra or panties if you don’t have breasts, and no one can see it, and how is that not sexual? What’s the point of attractiveness if you’re using it for some other goal than to attract the person you say you’re attracted to? How is obsessing about your appearance not vain and shallow? Why should transgender people’s body hatred be encouraged when the body hatred of anorexics and apotemnophiliacs should not? If it’s a disorder instead of a lifestyle, then why isn’t diagnosis and gatekeeping appropriate? If it’s a lifestyle instead of a disorder, then why should treatment be paid for/given to kids? If it’s not sexual, and there’s no such thing as AGP, what’s up with the staggering number of sexual posts and selfies and admissions of AGP all over the trans forums in Reddit and Tumblr? And if it is sexual, then why should you be given a license to use women’s facilities? And if some of you are pervs, then how do we tell the difference and what are you non-pervs doing about that? Shouldn’t you have an interest in protecting women if you say you are one? Shouldn’t you have an interest in protecting your own reputation and showing how you’re intrinsically different from Stefonknee? What’s being done to protect those 80% of kids who would desist if parents and activists weren’t pushing to trans them? Is it simply ok with you if a teenage girl mistakenly has her breasts cut off because she’s too young to distinguish a very reasonable disgust with sexism from being transgender?

    Goodness, I could go on but this is getting exhausting.

    I’ve heard that support for gay people goes up when people know a gay person but support for trans people goes down when people know a trans person. I can’t prove that, but it’s been my experience as well.

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  3. It seems to me the comparison of read fems to evangelicals was specific, not general. One might say the evangelical presents a bible based narrative, a lens, with which to help others realize their error and live more fulfilled lives.

    One of the basic rules of rational discourse, and rhetoric is to define your terms at the beginning of the discussion. For example, the word “cure” seems to cause some discomfort, when it really shouldn’t. I suppose even a die hard Marxists attempts to cure a die hard capitalist with his analysis.

    All of this assumes, though, that values are conclusions that follows from facts, and not vice versa.

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  4. Having lived in a family split down the middle between everyday Christianity and Evangelical Christianity (and being kind of an atheist spiritualist pagan Buddhist something observer) I can say that the Evangelical perspective is all about power and control. I’ve had good nice everyday Christians tell me sweet things about God’s love for all people, but the whole point of evangelicalism is to “spread the word” because they know better than you. Hence their message isn’t a kindly “god loves you” – it’s a corrective one, to try to guilt you into joining their side. It’s using religious beliefs to manipulate and control.

    A good example is when I told my brother I didn’t believe in God he reminded me, “Well God believes in you, and you were baptized so he knows your name and you belong to him.” I was baptized as an infant and had no choice in the matter, you know? There is so much mental manipulation like that, so much lack of choice and free will, because their way is the only way so that they can hold power over others.

    I like to make the distinction between Evangelicals and other Christians because I know a lot of wonderful Christians and other religious people who don’t feel the need to “spread god’s word” in that way.

    But comparing that to the radical feminist approach to the transgender movement, I think the important thing to point out is that radical feminists aren’t saying you can’t change your body or your pronouns or live however way you want to live. Radical feminism is just exploring and explaining *why* – revealing the social forces that cause people to want to be the opposite sex. Evangelicals don’t explain *why* – a favorite quote of one family member is simply “because God”. That’s much more along the lines of a transactivist saying “I am woman because I say I’m woman” than a radical feminist saying, “Maybe you should analyze that believe because of homophobia, sexism and misogyny.”

    It’s not the radical feminists who are more like evangelicals, is all I’m saying.

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  5. I don’t want to speak for Skepto, but the similarity between radical feminists and evangelicals that he mentioned might be the instance that (general)you have the answers to a person’s problems, over their claims that those solutions haven’t worked, or aren’t actually problems. It’s not about faith or lack of reasoning, it’s feeling like you aren’t being listened to or believed about your own internal experiences. (You are much better about this than others, thus I’m still commenting)

    There is also some overlap in insisting that what’s worked for you will work for others. It’s not as funny as the “find joy in the LORD” people, but I do have a similar reaction to hearing “learn to accept and love your body!”. It’s about as accessible to me, I’d been trying in various ways for years. Accepting that I was trans was accepting that it wasn’t working, that I needed help. Accepting myself as I am, in a way.

    I’m still working on “My experiences of sexism, homophobia, transness, and psychology: a novella”, but your last paragraph made me pause. We may end up with you calling mental illness what I call gender identity, and I’m not sure we can resolve that. If you admit there is something that can happen to people so that body modification/ living as another gender is the healthiest choice for them, I’m not sure we disagree anymore.

    (I still plan on finishing my guest post,I hope it will at least explain why I don’t find your explanations of gender dysphoria relevant to me.)

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  6. “When someone takes organized religion seriously and believes there is a dude in the sky watching over us I think they’re as nutty as a fruitcake.”

    Hey! That’s no way to talk about me! If you really felt this way you shoulda contacted me directly! 😂

    In all seriousness, being convicted and passionate does make you evangelical in the sense that you are trying to spread a message. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the message is factual and not destructive.

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  7. Radical Christians (and radical anyones of any faith really) often speak of freedom of expression whilst wanting to take away someone else’s freedom. They don’t appreciate the irony of that.

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