Human rights abuses against the waria of Indonesia

From the Guardian:

Stripped naked and beaten: transgender women flee Indonesian city in fear

Transgender people have been fleeing the sharia-ruled Indonesian province of Aceh amid fears of further violence, an exodus that comes in the same week the national parliament proposed criminalising gay and all extramarital sex.

In the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, scores of transgender people have fled following the arrest and public shaming of 12 trans women in neighbouring North Aceh.

The 12 women, known as waria, were arrested on Saturday night when police, accompanied by locals, raided beauty salons and forced them to strip off their shirts and have their hair cut in public.

In detention the waria were compelled to undergo an ad hoc form of “gender re-education”, which included wearing men’s clothing, physical exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups, and instruction on lowering their voices, until they were deemed suitably “macho”.

Sources close to those detained say they were also stripped naked and beaten by police, and upon release are suffering psychological trauma.

I found this BBC article explaining who the waria are. They are cross-dressing males: “the word waria comes from the Indonesian word “wanita” meaning woman, and “pria” meaning man.” This word reminds me of the word “he-she” that was used in the U.S.A in the mid-20th century.

According to the BBC’s information, the waria work as street vendors and some are in the sex trade. According to the Guardian article, some of them work in beauty salons.

It is common that men who are naturally feminine are homosexual, and it’s also common that such men are assumed to be homosexual whether it’s true or not.

From the Guardian article linked above, “A recent survey found that nearly 90% of Indonesians who understood the term LGBT felt “threatened” by the minority and said same-sex relations were not permitted in their religion.”

Interesting how people are so “threatened” by working-class men wearing makeup that they need to create laws against them and get police officers to torture them. How much power and influence do a small group of poor men have, that this level of state intervention is required to stop them?

In fact, the same thing has happened in North America. Cross-dressers, both male and female, were harassed by both police and private citizens and severely punished for being cross-dressers and for being gay, in the not-so-distant past.

The Guardian is calling these waria “transgender women,” which is certainly the way the Western world would prefer to label them. I am concerned that calling male cross-dressers “women” erases the likely fact that they are gay men, and I don’t like the erasure of gay people.

Indonesia is cracking down on homosexuality and feminine men because they are threats to patriarchy. The traditional family unit where a masculine man is in charge of a feminine woman and their children is essential to maintaining patriarchy. Feminine homosexual men, as well as masculine homosexual women, are a double threat to patriarchy because they break the rules of sexuality as well as traditional gender roles. They are also the most visible members of the gay community, since their difference is obvious and cannot be hidden. Targeting the most visible members of a community keeps everyone else in line.

It’s possible that some of the waria could be bisexual, heterosexual, or asexual, but that wouldn’t change my analysis of the reasons why they are hated.

The treatment of these waria is an abhorrent violation of their human rights. They should have the right to wear clothing normally designated for women, as well as the makeup and accessories that go with it, and wear their hair long, without being punished.

I do not believe the solution here is to pretend they are literally female. The solution is to stop sexism and homophobia.

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From Trans Mission to Feminist Mission

A reader generously gave me a gift of the new book Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard by Alex Bertie. Bertie is a young trans man YouTube star who is making waves in the queer community.

The book was a quick read. It was a memoir of his life so far and description of his transition. At age 22, he hasn’t done much else with his life besides become a trans man. He has also become a graphic designer, but that is not an important element of the book. Trans Mission is aimed at a young adult audience, and provides a sort of “how-to” guide for other young people who want to become trans men. It contains Bertie’s personal story as well as information on being trans, such as what it’s like getting hormone shots and how to make your own binder.

I’m using the same strategy with pronouns that Holly/Aaron Devor used when writing Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society, which is to use male pronouns when referring to the trans man after transition, and female pronouns when referring to her childhood. Although it may seem confusing at first, it acknowledges the reality of her girlhood as well as his post-transition lived experience in the social category of trans man, both of which are significant. There will be someone disappointed no matter what approach I take with pronouns, so at least with this balanced approach I will piss off everyone equally!

I was interested in reading this book because I have watched lots of Bertie’s YouTube videos and find him interesting. I am interested in the topic of female masculinity and strategies that masculine females use to survive in a sexist, homophobic world. I’m always hoping that trans people are going to answer some of the questions I have. I was curious about whether Bertie would rely on sex stereotypes to describe his trans identity, as so many people do, and whether I would find any reason to believe that he is a lesbian reacting to sexism and homophobia, as so many trans men seem to be.

I find every woman’s story of dysphoria and survival valuable and inherently worthy of consideration, regardless of her views on gender. I enjoyed reading Bertie’s book.

In terms of defining “man” and “woman,” Bertie presented it as logical to identify as a man despite being female. He actually admitted to being biologically female, which surprised me, and he also mentioned the word “lesbian” a couple of times in connection with his pre-transition self. In Bertie’s point of view there is no contradiction in being a man with a vagina. Lesbian was just the way he thought of himself before he arrived at his current identity of trans man.

Bertie did mention some things that relate to sex stereotypes, which is always something I take note of. As a child, she preferred boys’ clothing and boys’ activities, and she preferred the company of boys since they shared her interests. She felt uncomfortable with long hair and hated wearing dresses and makeup. As a girl she was expected to be only attracted to boys but instead she was mostly attracted to girls. Her classmates bullied her for being far more masculine than the average girl, and sadly, most of her teachers were not equipped to help her deal with the bullying.

The expectation that girls look and act a certain way is a part of the sexism that upholds patriarchy. Bertie isn’t the only girl to find herself unable to perform a feminine gender role—lots of us aren’t comfortable with this social construct that expects us all to be feminine and heterosexual. In reality, girls come in all types, and all of them are valid, even if they don’t conform to society’s expectations.

When young Bertie first cut her hair short, it was a monumental occasion that terrified her and she felt that she needed to justify her desire for short hair.

“During half-term break in year 10, I confessed to my dad how my long hair made me feel, armed with images (evidence) of girls with short hair. It was quite emotional – I think I ended up sobbing in my bedroom with pictures of Halle Berry up on Google. What a sight. The feelings were complex. At the front of my mind was guilt; considering I already wore ‘guy’s clothes’, I knew I was going to look incredibly masculine after the haircut, and I felt bad that I was incapable of being a ‘normal’ child for my parents.” (p57–58).

And an interesting comment from a few pages later reads:

“I must have had a very masculine-looking face, because after that haircut strangers called me a guy about 70 per cent of the time, and I wasn’t even trying to present as more masculine.” (p61)

Bertie did not report being uncomfortable with her body before puberty, and here she implies that having short hair and wearing boys’ clothes was not a deliberate attempt to be masculine. It sounds to me like in her early life she was just a girl who was more comfortable with short hair and clothing typically marketed to boys, and by wearing these things she was not trying to be a boy but was just trying to be herself.

She also felt distressed about wanting to wear boxers and leave her legs hairy. From a later chapter, after coming out to as “trans” to her parents:

“Suddenly I didn’t have to pretend any more: I could put my boxer shorts in the washing pile instead of sneaking them into the machine; I could wear shorts with my hairy legs on display; I could get my hair cut a little bit shorter. I felt free.” (p109)

This begs the question: why couldn’t she do any of these things before? Why didn’t she just go ahead and cut her hair, wear the clothes she wanted to wear, and refuse to shave her legs? Why did she have to declare herself “male” in order to do this?

As I sit here writing, I am a woman who has short hair, whose legs are hairy, and who wears boxer shorts, at least to sleep in. I literally am doing all these things right now, as a woman, without feeling like I need to explain myself or align myself with a gender identity. Any woman can do these things, even a femme!

It’s scary being a teenage girl and navigating a world that wants you to spend time and money looking a certain way and that teaches you that you are unacceptable if you don’t comply. I remember being a 16-year-old sitting cross-legged in the classroom one day while working on a group project. I was wearing shorts, and all of a sudden I noticed that my legs were hairy because I hadn’t thought about shaving them in a while. I immediately panicked and tried to find ways of hiding my legs. I placed my books strategically to hide the hair, and got up as soon as I could. It felt horribly embarrassing and I felt like I was neglectful for not shaving. I am not that 16-year-old any more. I never decided to use a “gender identity” to explain why I didn’t want to shave my legs, because this strategy didn’t exist back then. Instead, I did shave my legs for a few more years and then I became a feminist. Now I go around with hairy legs and I think that anyone who has a problem with it can fuck right off. I understand now that the shame I felt that day in the classroom had nothing to do with there being something wrong with my body, it had to do with being expected to do things I was not interested in doing just because I’m female and knowing that I was considered unacceptable for failing to meet people’s expectations. It’s scary to break society’s rules when you are young, but it gets easier as you get older and as you become more feminist.

So is Bertie’s transition just about sex stereotypes? Well, no, that’s not the whole story. Bertie does have body dysphoria. She was very distressed about her female body during her teen years, and not just to the same extent that all teen girls hate their bodies. She really felt like she couldn’t be seen in public with breasts and couldn’t live her life as a woman. Girls don’t all feel that badly. This is a serious condition that only some people get.

Trans activists want us to believe that they were simply born “a man in a woman’s body” (or vice versa) and that this is genetic rather than social. They want us to believe that the reason for their distress is the mismatch between their gender identity and their body, rather than the expectations held by society that people with their body type should act a certain way. I’m always carefully examining what trans people say about the reasons why they think they are trans and I often get clues that their dysphoria is coming from social causes (sexism and homophobia.) In Bertie’s case, I do not see evidence that she was born inherently dysphoric. She did not report believing she was male right from a young age. She reports having a happy childhood and being supported in her tomboyish ways by her family. She only reports hating her body starting at puberty, around the same time she developed an attraction to girls and felt increasingly under pressure to behave in a feminine way. There are a couple of interesting comments I’d like to report at this point regarding Bertie not wanting to be seen as a boy. In a letter she wrote to her father during her teen years:

“I can’t even bear the thought of going out in public with my own family in case someone mistakes me for a boy.” (p7)

From the letter from her mother near the back of the book:

“On one occasion in middle school, Alex came home absolutely furious. Once he’d calmed down, we realized he’d been in a difficult situation on the school bus. The children had been told to climb aboard, girls first. When Alex tried to get on with the girls, he was told off and asked to wait. Alex tried to explain to the teacher that he was a girl, but the teacher became angry…I was confused; he seemed to want to look like a boy, so I couldn’t understand why the mistake had made him upset. Looking back, it was an early sign that Alex had very mixed emotions about his gender.” p270–271

In Bertie’s quote from page 7, her young self was uncomfortable being mistaken for a boy, and in mum’s anecdote, Bertie specifically asserted herself as a girl and was distressed about not being believed. This doesn’t indicate the existence of an innate gender identity as male. It indicates that Bertie did grow up understanding herself as a girl and that she became distressed when other people saw her as performing girlhood incorrectly. It seems as though the problem wasn’t her body, at least not at first, the problem was that girls were supposed to be a certain way and she wasn’t like that.

I have a theory that is based on everything I have read so far about masculine girls with dysphoria. Girls who are not typically “feminine” and especially those who are attracted to other girls can have a very hard time understanding themselves as being girls, since they are not at all what society expects from girls. It’s very distressing being totally different from what is expected since humans are social animals and strongly desire validation and acceptance from our social group. Some people who are bullied for being different and who desperately want to fit in feel real trauma from this pain. A girl can respond to this trauma by hating her body parts that mark her as female. She blames those female body parts for being the reason why she can’t be herself, instead of blaming sexism, heteronormativity, and patriarchy. It’s common for mental illness among girls to be internalized. When things are wrong we tend to blame ourselves, and we tend to develop depression and self-hate rather than outer-directed mental illnesses like aggression and anti-social behaviour. I think that reacting to sexism and homophobia by hating oneself is in fact a typical feminine response.

I would like girls and women to learn to send their anguish outside themselves. Get angry about how you’re being expected to be someone you’re not, recognize those expectations as the problem, hate the bullies instead of hating yourself. Gender ideology moves in the wrong direction. Transgenderism is an approach that blames the body for the pain of being different when the body is not at fault.

I realize that dysphoria can run deep, and it won’t be easily untangled, and it can’t be wished away just by attempting a positive attitude. I am a person who developed depression at puberty and has had it ever since, and I know that “just cheer up” is not an adequate response. Neither is “just accept your body” an adequate response to legitimate dysphoria. I think major interventions are required. But I don’t think a masculine woman who hates her female body parts is literally a man, and I don’t think people benefit from pretending this is true. Honesty is very important in addressing mental illness and the best thing for someone to do if they are dissociating from their body is to reconnect, not to further distance themselves.

Bertie’s book has a lot of information about how to transition for young women who may want to do the same. It will likely have the effect of validating and motivating more transitioners. I see this book as a part of what I will call “social infrastructure” to steer young people toward transition. By social infrastructure I mean all those organizations, social media channels, medical clinics and preachers of the belief system that have been set up to promote transgender politics. There’s a whole system set up to make sure young people who don’t fit in and who hate their bodies are steered toward blaming their bodies and changing themselves, using medical interventions that are not entirely safe.

I am not interested in telling any specific people what to do with their particular situation, and I am not advocating for preventing anyone from making body modifications. But I do think that the politics and approach of transgenderism are going in the wrong direction. They blame the individual for a systemic problem, which misses the problem and reduces our ability to change the system. When teenage Alex Bertie asked for help with her discomfort, there was lots of material already in existence to train her to believe in gender identity, and no one steered her toward an analysis of sexism and a rejection of gender roles. No one can predict what would have happened in a different world, but perhaps in a world where Bertie was accepted as a tomboy lesbian, and where a strong anti-sexist culture was in place, she would have never developed distress about her body. Girls deserve to live in a world that doesn’t cause them distress.

When debating online with transsexuals during 2016 and 2017, I found that, to my surprise, some people have a very neutral attitude toward body modification. They don’t think it’s a big deal to cut off body parts, or to take artificial hormones that have unknown effects on the body. They’re confused about why I would find it to be a problem. I guess we all have our values, and people don’t have to value having an intact body if they don’t want to. I do try to explain as best I can that cutting body parts is an injury, and that injury can leave negative effects such as pain and numbness. This shouldn’t be the default treatment for mental illnesses, it should only be a last resort in rare cases, and it should only be available to adults.

We need to create more social infrastructure offering a feminist analysis of patriarchy. We need organizations, YouTube channels, educational materials, the whole works. There needs to be an alternative to gender identity ideology for people to turn to. Girls should have resources to depend on when they are hurting that let them know that society is messed up, but they are perfect the way they are, and can be any kind of woman they want to be. We need strong female role models demonstrating many different ways to be women.

If feminist women could create YouTube channels and organisations where they talk about their daily navigation of sexism and how to survive body hatred, that would be extremely valuable to young women. It’s New Year Resolution season, dear readers. Make plans to help girls in any way you can. They need to know how to fight back as they grow up in a commercialized misogynist culture that increasingly narrows the confines of what girls are allowed to be. The next generation is counting on us.

Not identifying with a gender can be so much easier than this

Articles about nonbinary people are always entertaining because they promise to explain and clarify what nonbinary is but they don’t; instead they contain nothing but extravagant nonsense.

The article I’m discussing today is called  What it Means to Call Ourselves Non-binary and despite the promise of the title, sadly and unsurprisingly it contains no definition of nonbinary. (Unless the word nonbinary does in fact mean rambling text and unnecessary labels.)

Let’s dive right in:

“Being non-binary or genderqueer is inherently kind of confusing because it depends on not identifying with a gender. Therefore, it’s definitions are wide and varying and complex. Here’s how just a few of us on staff think about what it means to call ourselves non-binary. Guess what? Our definitions are wildly different!”

Okay, I’m already rolling my eyes. And just to warn you right here, if you do plan to read the full article, please take a moment to stretch your eye-rolling muscles before you start, because you’re going to be doing a LOT of eye-rolling, and you don’t want to pull a muscle.

For some reason, “not identifying with a gender” is presented as complex and confusing. Why? I don’t identify with a gender, and I find it very simple and easy. Here’s what you do: Go about your day as usual. Wear the clothes that you feel comfortable in, and go about your daily activities like you normally would. While you’re doing this, don’t bother assigning a gender label to your interests and appearance. Just skip that step altogether!  Pretend gender doesn’t even exist and ignore any messages about whether your clothing and mannerisms are “correct” or not. If someone tells you that you should look or behave a certain way because of your sex, tell them they are shallow and sexist and that you disagree with their views. Tell them that people are varied and complex and we are not stereotypes and in fact, those stereotypes are harmful and need to go. You don’t need to tell them that you don’t identify with a gender, because there is nothing odd or unusual about you at all! There is just something wrong with them. They are being shallow and sexist.

I can sum up “not identifying with a gender” in one simple phrase: “I’m a person who doesn’t buy into sexist bullshit.” Done!

Simple! Easy!

However, folks who identify as nonbinary try to take something as simple and easy as “not identifying with a gender” and turn it into something very complicated, in addition to ambiguous and vague.

The first writer, Alaina, says:

“Non-binary is the easiest way for me to publicly recognize that my gender is not woman or man or anything really, and so I keep it around. For now. But like, what does it mean? I don’t know! It means that my gender is not on the binary. Which is not very specific at all. Very unhelpful, indeed.”

So I guess this article shouldn’t be called “What it Means to Call Ourselves Nonbinary.” Instead it should be called “People Who Have No Idea What They’re Trying to Say Jabber On About Nothing to Fill Space.”

“And like, I don’t know, maybe I’m too much of a Gemini or whatever, but my innermost self changes literally hourly…. How could I expect to find a gender that expresses that?”

Wow. Why would you need to find a “gender” that expresses your hourly feelings? It’s normal to feel different from moment to moment. We have different physical and emotional reactions to each event of our days. This is standard human experience. Why on Earth do you need a “gender” label to describe the normal experience of being human? WTF.

Also, isn’t it fitting that these writers decided to use language and vocabulary that sounds like a spoken conversation among teenagers? It’s almost like nonbinary is a teenage fad!

“I just want to be able to exist and like be a person who is just themselves and is only seen as that, an individual human being. Non-binary is the closest I’m getting to being able to talk about myself in that way.”

Again, I find I’m dropping my jaw in disbelief. You were already “just a person” who is “an individual human being” before you ever heard of gender identity theory. You were born an individual human being just like everyone else. All of us are individual human beings who are just ourselves. My question to you is “What is making you think that anyone is anything other than an individual human being?” All of us, even those of us who don’t identify as nonbinary, see ourselves as individual human beings. I’m flabbergasted as to why this universal truth about humans would require a label at all.

Here’s some advice: Just live your life as an individual human being, and if anyone you encounter has a preconceived notion that you should be something in particular that they’ve come up with, they are wrong. Either ignore them or prove them wrong, as appropriate for the situation.

The next writer, Cee, says:

“I’m definitely not an expert on this, but my understanding of nonbinary is simply someone who exists outside the two option male/female gender binary.”

You sure aren’t an expert! You don’t even know the difference between gender and sex, which is essential knowledge for this conversation. Let me help you out: sex is biological, and it refers to reproductive characteristics that come in two types: male and female. In rare cases there are individuals who are born with atypical sex characteristics, but the vast majority of us have typical reproductive anatomy and are easily classifiable as male (producing sperm) or female (producing ova.) Gender is a social construct that can mean many things, but primarily it means: (1) the attributes and roles that are socially assigned to people based on their sex, and (2) a social category that is not clearly defined but which corresponds with a set of preferred pronouns.  Now that we’ve got that cleared up, yes, there is a male/female binary. It exists in nature, it’s the way we’re born, and it doesn’t matter whether we’re comfortable with it or not because we cannot change it. Gender, on the other hand, can come in infinite types, since we can keep making up ideas about gender forever and ever.

Everyone exists outside the social construct of gender because we are material bodies that exist in the real world no matter what constructs we dream up. Almost everyone exists within the male/female binary because the vast majority of us are typically male or female, and even people born with intersex conditions can often be classified as one of the sexes, because they are similar to one or the other. If someone had equal amounts of male and female sex characteristics, then I could possibly agree that they exist outside the sex binary but this is something physical, not something you can “identify” as. And there is no “third sex,” by the way. There is no sex gamete besides sperm and ova. People who are unclassifiable are still variations on the two sexes, not another sex entirely.

Cee reports having certain preferences in dress and behaviour, and she reports preferring not to have breasts. This is totally normal and none of that means she isn’t a woman. Although there are lots of women who like having breasts, myself included, there are also lots of women who don’t like having them. It’s normal if you do and normal if you don’t, and in both cases you are still a valid woman.

The next writer starts off by apologizing:

“Not to start off on the wrong foot, but I’m terrified that everything I’m about to write is wrong. I am a white, afab, spilled-glitter-on-my-tie-of-center, liberal arts-educated human with money in savings and a Toyota Corolla. What gives me the fuckin’ right, ya know?”

Holy crap! Women have always been expected to stay silent, and it looks like what she has learned in SJW communities is more of the same. She literally thinks she has no right to speak. Sure, as a person with money, she isn’t qualified to write a piece about how it feels to live in poverty, and as a white person she isn’t qualified to speak about how racial oppression feels, but she is certainly qualified to write about her own experience.

“Like, I fully expect everyone else to assume I don’t have any real problems so I’m inventing a gender crisis to seem interesting.”

It’s interesting that she brought this up on her own. Now I know this is exactly what I should think about her.

“I assumed all women felt deeply ambivalent about being women. For the first quarter-century of my life I lived into the idea that “being a girl can mean whatever I want it to mean,” and I did whatever I wanted and cut my hair short a bunch of times (but never said I wanted a boy’s haircut, always a pixie — always one centimeter and a razor fade from having my head look how I really wanted it to). At my first A-Camp, all that suddenly felt like punkass bullshit.”

Wait, wait, wait—WHOA. What are you calling “punkass bullshit”? Because it sounds like you think that the idea that women can feel ambivalent about being women is “punkass bullshit” and it also sounds like you are calling your correct statement that being a girl can mean anything you want it to is also “punkass bullshit.” I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to interpret here besides that. It sounds like you started out a non-sexist woman who accepted herself as-is but then turned into a sexist when she learned genderist ideology. That wouldn’t surprise me, because genderist ideology is profoundly and shockingly sexist. So now you think that wanting to have short hair means you’re not a woman. The 1950s called, and they want their gender roles back!

“To be clear, being a girl can mean whatever you want it to mean.”

Okay, good. So please explain, on what basis do you believe that you are not a woman, if women can be anything?

“I know that in the venn diagram of gender there are many women who share many characteristics with me except that they feel really strongly about being women.”

Huh? Who feels strongly about being a woman? I’m not even sure what that means. I just know I’m a woman because I know what parts I have and I understand what the word woman means. A woman is an adult human female, and I’m an adult human female, so I’m a woman. It has nothing to do with a personal conviction.

“It feels more and more alien when people call me “ma’am” or “lady” or “miss,” which happens a lot here in Texas. That language is so far from the way I see myself that it makes my brain hurt trying to figure out how other people still see me that way.”

I’m not sure how simple forms of address used for all adult human females could possibly encapsulate “the way you see yourself.” How would they do that? They are just forms of address. They don’t express how I feel about myself either. These words aren’t there to express any personal feelings.

My brain hurts trying to figure out how you can have a university degree and still not understand basic human anatomy and basic functions of common words.

“She/her pronouns don’t make me feel much of anything, positive or negative.”

Well, of course they don’t. They’re just pronouns. No reasonable person gets emotional about grammar. I don’t feel anything about female pronouns either, or any other pronouns. They just exist so we can refer to the people around us when we talk.

“They/them pronouns make my heart click together, make my legs stop shaking in their subconscious effort to burn off my endless anxiety.”

Oh my gawd, why? What is it with these people and randomly assigning intense emotional meaning to neutral and insignificant things? Hearing a pronoun makes your heart click together? Fer feck sake, I’m gonna write an article for Autostraddle about how conjunctions and subjunctive tense verbs make my soul fly among the heavens.

The next writer, Cecilia, identifies as ALL of the following:

  • Witch
  • Knife-Licking Femme
  • Glitter Witch Femme
  • Cyber Femme
  • Child in a Miyazaki Film
  • Futuristic Ash Ketchum
  • Cis-Passing Art Hoe
  • Neutral Cis-Passing Take Me Seriously I’m A Capricorn Rising

However, even though all these descriptions apparently describe her, the word “woman” does not. How someone can be both female and feminine but somehow “not a woman” is beyond me. How a woman can consider herself a movie character but not a woman is beyond me.

She seems to choose her gender labels according to spiritual energies and artistic expressions. It’s fine to have spiritual energies and artistic expressions, and many of us have these. But there’s no reason why any of these require a “gender” label, and there’s no reason why anyone other than herself needs to take any interest in this. I feel a lot of resonance with certain artistic expressions too, but I just experience them without going around making other people validate them for me or change the way they talk about me because of them. There’s no need for that.

The last writer mentions having to explain over and over what nonbinary means, and yet she doesn’t offer an explanation in her write-up here. You’d think that if she was in the habit of explaining what nonbinary means, and if she was writing for an article about what nonbinary means, she’d at some point define what nonbinary means? Nope! She just offers a rambling account of her life that doesn’t add up to much of anything. She likes to wear a binder and doesn’t like her breasts touched. Okay, fair enough, so you don’t like having breasts. Not all women like them! You’re allowed to have boundaries! None of this means that you aren’t an adult human female!

I remain open to finding out what nonbinary means, and I will continue reading the articles I come across. But according to what I’ve read so far about being nonbinary, it can mean any of the following:

  • Being cool, special, geeky, or artsy; having feelings and experiences
  • Not fitting in with the popular clique
  • Being uncomfortable with certain body parts
  • Believing that normal human feelings require special labels
  • Requiring the people around you to refer to you by a label you like

Except for the obsession with labels, being nonbinary is no different from being any other human being. Genderist ideology requires that we apply unnecessary labels to normal human traits and take very seriously things that are neutral and unimportant. It’s a bunch of, shall we say, “punkass bullshit.”

I’m not buying it.

Non binary identity aka not fitting in with the popular clique

Here is a young woman who made a video called “How I knew I was non binary.”

Since this is the title of the video, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the things she talks about in her video are the reasons why she knew she was non binary. This is what she talks about in her video:

  • In fifth grade, a girl called her legs “gross” because she hadn’t shaved them, and she didn’t understand why her legs were gross. She hadn’t even reached puberty yet.
  • In middle school there was strong policing of gender by her peers and she felt depressed. She knew it was ridiculous to try and fit in by being as girly as she could, however, this is what she did.
  • A girl she knew put on lip gloss to kiss a boy she had a crush on but she didn’t like wearing that kind of lip gloss. (However in the video she has lipstick on, so….?)
  • She got up early in the morning to style her hair and do her makeup because she felt she had to do this to fit in. She considers compliments about her hair to be signs of “fitting in.” However, she didn’t feel like herself while doing this.
  • One day, she cut her hair short and wore androgynous clothes, and her mother expressed her disapproval because people might think she’s a boy. She thought it was okay if people thought she was a boy.
  • She remembers being happier and more extroverted when she was young enough that people hadn’t started policing her appearance.
  • In senior high school, she wanted to throw out all her girls’ clothes and buy all boys’ clothes, but she was dating a jerk boyfriend and wanted his approval, so she “pretended to be a girl.”
  • She felt validated while reading Tumblr posts about non binary.

Wow! Based on this information, being non binary means being a whole, unique person with a distinct personality who doesn’t meet the shallow, limiting criteria for behavior set by middle school kids. According to this explanation, I’m non binary and so are every person I’ve ever gotten along with, because we’ve also never met the dumb expectations of the popular clique. But I don’t call myself non binary, because I don’t think that’s a useful way to describe what’s happening here.

Non binary identity is an attempt to identify outside of your actual sex in order to avoid having sex-related stereotypes placed on you by other people. It’s not just a synonym for androgynous, which would make some sense, but instead it’s supposed to imply that the sex of your body doesn’t exist and you are neither male nor female (despite not actually having an intersex condition.) Actually, if non binary was a synonym for intersex, that would probably make more sense—if you didn’t have the usual sex characteristics that males and females come with 99% of the time, then “non binary” could describe that. But non binary is not about physical sex characteristics, it’s about the social gender role.

In this video, the young woman talks mostly about having her appearance policed by other people, (her peers and her mother,) and them wanting her to meet their current definition of how girls and women should look. This is a totally normal experience that girls go through as they’re growing up. Depending on how much sexism there is among the people they grow up around, girl children are taught to varying degrees that girls have to look a certain way in order to be acceptable. If a girl is lucky, and her family and peers are not sexist, then she’ll be allowed to be herself. But if her family and peers are sexist, as many people are, then they’ll teach her that she absolutely must look feminine or else she’s a failure as a human being. That’s what happened with the woman in this video. Her peers were very sexist, and it sounds like her mother was too, and that led to her feeling like she needed to style her hair and wear makeup in order to be acceptable, even though she didn’t feel like herself when engaging in these behaviours.

There are lots of reasons why kids and teens are sexist. They learn it from their families, their religions and the media, and a few developmental characteristics makes them very keen on enforcing the rules they’ve learned. Kids and teens are unsure of themselves and very concerned about fitting in. Since they are immature they haven’t developed the ability to find their self-worth from within, and they try to find it through superficial signs of acceptance from their peers. They don’t have well developed social skills and so they engage in bullying and other anti-social behaviours. Boys learn that they have to behave in domineering and aggressive ways in order to be acceptable as boys, and they enforce this on each other. Girls learn that they have to be pretty and pleasing to boys, and they enforce this on other girls. These sexist attitudes come directly from patriarchy, which all children are socialized into.

Lesbian and bisexual women are very likely not to fit the feminine gender role, since it’s entirely based on heterosexuality. However, there are also straight women who don’t fit into femininity. There are plenty of straight women who don’t feel comfortable being limited in life to wife and mother and having her whole existence center around pleasing her man. The reason why there has been a feminist movement going on for decades now is because large numbers of women don’t identify with the sexist expectations placed on us and the limited role reserved for us in patriarchy.

This particular “non binary” woman is attracted to men and eager for their approval, and she is struggling to find a balance between pleasing men and staying true to herself. Surely this is a common experience among all women who are attracted to men, especially when they are in high school.

When I see young women who are going through the normal experience of having their appearance policed by high school peers and believing this makes them literally not female, I realize that navigating a sexist, heteronormative high school social environment is just as difficult as ever and yet we are farther away from helping girls navigate it than we used to be. All these same things happened to me when I was in school. The girls around me had arbitrary, silly, nonsensical, strongly-held beliefs that I was supposed to wear certain clothes, listen to certain music, and say certain things, and if I messed up it was their job to punish me for my transgression. It was terrifying and confusing for me because no one ever explained to me ahead of time what the rules were, and I never knew I was breaking one until the punishment came. Completely random things, like a zipper being in the wrong spot on a pair of pants, or a jacket being “too shiny,” were cause for belittling people.

When I was in high school there was a different word for those of us who didn’t understand the social rules and couldn’t follow them. We called ourselves “outsiders.” We may have gotten this word from the excellent young adult book The Outsiders, actually. Whatever vocabulary young people are given to explain their experiences is the vocabulary they will use. In the 1990s, nobody was telling us that if we didn’t fit in with the popular clique then our biological sex didn’t exist and we had to take on a “gender identity.” The experience of not fitting it hasn’t changed a bit, but the way we conceive of our differences has changed into something totally nonsensical.

There are a few things that I would tell my younger self, to help her navigate the strange and scary world of middle and high school, based on my adult knowledge of the world. The first thing I’d tell her is that social skills aren’t what she thinks they are. I used to think that social skills meant being “cool” and popular, and knowing how to do and say the right things to not get made fun of. Now that I’m an adult, I know that I had good social skills all along, but my peers did not. I knew how to treat people with respect, honour differences, appreciate a person for her personality rather than her appearance, and be kind to my friends. The kids at my school who were bullies were the ones with poor social skills. They didn’t know how to get along with other people, they were shallow and superficial and mean. They needed to be taught better how to interact with their peers.

The second thing I’d tell my younger self is that it was good that I didn’t meet the dumb criteria set by the girls at school. It was good that I wasn’t so shallow that I thought clothing had to only be the latest styles by designer brands, and it was good that I didn’t make rude, snappy comebacks and put people down, because that doesn’t make you cool, it makes you an asshole, and it was good that I had interests in arts and culture and the humanities, even though this made me “nerdy” when I was young. All the things about me that the bullies didn’t like were the things that would make me the person I am, make me proud of myself as an adult, and save my life over and over. My interest in the arts has always been the thing that keeps me from being suicidal. It’s been the main thing that makes sense to me in life and the thing that makes me feel the joy of human existence. It was good that nobody managed to bully that wonderful blessing out of me.

I would then explain to my younger self that superficial approval from my peers in the form of them liking my clothes or hair didn’t actually consist of a meaningful friendship. Further, the people who are really shallow and superficial were not even capable of meaningful friendship. The deep friendships I had with a small number of other nerdy girls were worth thousands of times more than the superficial approval from shallow assholes that I kept craving.

I would also explain to my younger self that the reason I didn’t think I needed an expensive salon haircut and a push-up bra starting at age 13 is because I was a feminist who resisted being a sex object for men and who saw herself as a fully human person. This was a positive thing about me. One of the reasons I found a lot of my female peers’ behavior baffling is because I was a lesbian and I didn’t think the same way they did. I didn’t have this sophisticated understanding back then, but I had an instinct that being overly sexualized and dressed up was not for me, and didn’t make much sense for anybody. Those girls who were 13-going-on-20 were groomed by a sexist culture and they were entering dangerous territory. Some of them were hurt while trying to please boys in these shallow ways.

High school girls who don’t fit in with the popular clique don’t need a gender identity label, they need to be taught how to navigate bullying and sexism. They need to understand that this sort of bullying has been happening for a long time, at least several decades, and maybe since time immemorial, and their mothers dealt with it too. They need to understand what positive values and good social skills are and identify bullies and sexism as the problems. They need to understand that their natural personalities are not a problem and don’t cancel out their womanhood in any way, because women do in fact have a variety of personalities. Girls and women who resist sexist expectations are normal girls and women, and if they need to be given any sort of label, a really useful label would be feminist. Girls who take on a gender identity label are not exempt from sexist expectations, because they are still female and sexist expectations are enforced based on sex, not internally-felt identities.

The main thing the feminist movement has taught me is that trying to identify your way out of oppression by claiming to be “not like the other girls” doesn’t work as a strategy. The strategy that will work to end sexism and female oppression is the strategy of making structural changes to society so that women are freed from being sex objects for men. As long as women are oppressed based on our sex, we will be targeted for misogyny, regardless of how we feel we identify. The more steps we make toward the goal of ending patriarchy, the fewer girls there will be who feel extreme discomfort when they’re expected to meet the demands of femininity, which is literally the social role created to keep us subordinate to men.

How do you intend to address the upcoming trans generation?

This is another response to a troll named Angie who was commenting on this post.

Angie asked:

“Out of curiosity, how do you guys intend on addressing the upcoming generation of transgender folks, who’ve transitioned much earlier than the current generation?
I work in an elementary school, and we currently have a 5 year old transgender student. She identifies as a girl, is accepted by her peers as a girl, will likely be on hormone therapy before puberty etc etc. As an adult woman, having lived all but the first 3-4 years of her life as a girl…do you plan to tell her she’s not a real woman because she lacks a uterus? That she’s a man, despite being raised and socialized as female?
When our children come to us, utterly distressed and feeling trapped in the wrong bodies…what course of action do you folks advocate? Knowing that all of the science supports early intervention as the best route to good outcomes for trans kids…that years passing without intervention corresponds directly with rising suicide rates in transgender youth…do you still advocate denying these kids their identities, and insisting biology rules? Or does saving lives play a factor?”

Angie has swallowed trans activist propaganda whole without doing any critical thinking about it and therefore is missing some vitally important information about the “trans kids” that she is talking about. The most important things that Angie is missing about “trans kids” is that most of them will desist in their gender dysphoria as they get older, and that many of these kids are same-sex attracted, and would be considered gay, lesbian, or bisexual if we didn’t have this gender-worshipping social movement going on.

In a study called Factors Associated With Desistence and Persistence of Childhood Gender Dysphoria: A Quantitative Follow-Up Study published in the Journal Of The American Academy Of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Volume 52 Number 6 June 2013, the authors cited a collection of other studies that investigated persistence and desistance of gender dysphoria and concluded that:

“Many children who experience gender dysphoria (GD), a sense of discomfort from incongruence between their gender identity and assigned sex, will not continue to experience dysphoria into adolescence and adulthood. However, a substantial minority (2–27% across studies) will continue to report GD and may seek services for gender reassignment later in life.”

Studies also show that a large percentage of kids with gender dysphoria are same-sex attracted. In the study Desisting and Persisting Gender Dysphoria After Childhood: A Qualitative Follow-Up Study published in Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 16(4) 499-516 2010, the authors noted the high percentage of bisexual and homosexual attraction among the study participants and that people who persist in gender dysphoria after childhood overwhelmingly tend to be same-sex attracted:

“All persisters reported feeling exclusively, and for as long as they could remember, sexually attracted to individuals of the same natal sex…”

The DSM-5 says the same thing:

“For both natal male and female children showing persistence, almost all are sexually attracted to individuals of their natal sex.
For natal male children whose gender dysphoria does not persist, the majority are androphilic, (sexually attracted to males) and often self-identify as gay or homosexual (ranging from 63% to 100%).
In natal female children whose gender dysphoria does not persist, the percentage who are gynephilic (sexually attracted to females) and self-identify as lesbian is lower (ranging from 32% to 50%).”

Note in this screenshot from the DSM-5, it also mentions that less than half of kids with gender dysphoria will still have it when they grow up.

These “trans kids” we keep seeing in the media are very likely, according to the available research, to be same-sex attracted and to grow up to accept themselves as gay or lesbian. This is why Kenneth Zucker, a prominent Canadian researcher in gender dysphoria, advocated for a “wait-and-see” approach.

“Dr. Zucker argued in published research and previous interviews that his therapy should be guided by the age of the patient and based on best evidence, particularly longitudinal studies that showed that gender identity is “malleable” in young children, and that the majority will outgrow their cross-gender identity by the time they are teenagers, and most often grow up to be gay adults.”

Trans activists today do not want to wait and see if same-sex-attracted children will grow up to be comfortable in their bodies and accepting of themselves as gay or lesbian, even though they know this is a likely outcome. They want all children who express a trans identity to immediately be given puberty-blockers followed by cross-sex hormones and taught to believe they are literally the opposite sex. They think that anything else is “conversion therapy” which is yet another reversal of reality. Giving gay and lesbian kids body modifications so that they appear to be heterosexual members of the opposite sex is conversion therapy.

Lupron, the drug commonly used to delay puberty, is not approved for use on children for transgender treatment and is being used off-label with no documented long-term studies of its effects. There are already adults who were given Lupron for precocious puberty who are speaking out against “serious physical and emotional adverse events” such as pain and soreness, anxiety and depression, high heart rate, IBS, memory loss, insomnia, crippling migraines, osteoporosis, and more.

Children whose puberty is blocked and then go on to take cross-sex hormones become sterile, because their sex organs never mature. Also, MtF transsexuals whose genitals never mature may not have enough genital material to even use to create a vaginoplasty. This means they will look like eunuchs, not women.

Our troll Angie asked “how do you guys intend on addressing the upcoming generation of transgender folks, who’ve transitioned much earlier than the current generation?”
Well, here’s the thing, Angie. After all the incredible medical abuse these kids have suffered, I am 100% certain that they’ll be suing the doctors who did this to them as soon as they’re old enough to process and think critically about what happened to them. Sooner or later they’re going to realize that adults failed them by giving them dangerous drugs and telling them that they could become the opposite sex when they can’t, all because they felt uncomfortable with their gender nonconformity and their sexual orientation. They’re going to realize what gender critical feminists have been arguing all along: that it’s not okay to give dangerous drugs to kids and sterilize them, with unknown long-term side effects, just because they were playing with toys marketed to the other sex and with their immature thinking skills decided that this meant they were literally the opposite sex.

So what will I do to address the upcoming generation of people who were given dangerous drugs and sterilized before they were old enough to realize what their dysphoric feelings really meant? Several things: I will listen to them, promote their words, support their activism, and donate to their legal funds when they sue the doctors who abused them.

There is already a growing community of detransitioners, many of whom are lesbians, who are discussing other ways to deal with dysphoria, and I have already started reblogging and promoting them when they provide important information. See the list of detransitioners in my sidebar, and see Carey Callahan’s excellent YouTube channel. We will be seeing more and more detransitioners as time goes on, as more people realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods and decide to reconcile with themselves.

There are some other things in your comment that I take issue with, but they are smaller points than what I have laid out above. For example, you say that a boy can live “as a girl,” and that’s not true, because a girl is a young human female and there is no way for a human male to “live as” a human female. He is simply living in a feminine gender role. The people around him know he’s a boy, so he’s living as a special boy, not as a girl. I also take an issue with the phrase “feeling trapped in the wrong body” because there is no way for a body to be wrong. We are living animals and our bodies are literally what we are made out of and who we are. Bodies are good; we can mistakenly perceive them as “wrong” but they aren’t actually wrong.

Trans activists think that I am hateful, bigoted and phobic for not supporting the idea that some human beings are born inherently needing to take Lupron and be sterilized, but time will tell that it’s the people who promoted medical experimentation on kids who were the hateful bigots. I am in favor of giving everyone an opportunity to grow up in their natural body and accept themselves as they are, so they can have the best and healthiest possible life. Any decisions to make major body modifications should be made as fully-informed mature adults who are acting from a place of self-love and acceptance, not a place of fear and self-hate. Adults who are accepting of themselves rarely will want any body modifications, but if they do, I do not plan to stop them.

Someday the medical abuse of a group of mostly gay and lesbian people will go down in the history books as another method of homophobic gay conversion therapy, just like the lobotomy and shock therapy of previous decades. I certainly intend to support the victims of this form of abuse.

Let’s talk about who’s actually hateful and bigoted here

Well, folks, I am back from a lovely and relaxing trip and ready to address the stinking pile of horseshit that people crapped onto my blog while I was away.

I published a guest post by a woman who was harassed at the Vancouver Dyke March, and her harasser showed up in the comments to continue the harassment. It’s absolutely amazing to me that a harasser can get called out on his harassment and then decide that the appropriate response is to continue harassing. How messed up of a person do you have to be to think that’s a good idea?

Mr. Wanda Normous made a feeble attempt to claim that he hadn’t harassed anyone by reporting that he didn’t use a loud voice when talking to her. However, he admitted in his own words to engaging in the following behaviours:

  • “follow around to counter your hateful message until you took it out of the park with you”
  • “walk or stand immediately outside of your personal space with my terror breasts exposed.”
  • “I used two tools to evict you”

In these quotes, Mr. Normous has admitted to following a lesbian around and being in her personal space with the purpose of “evicting” her from the march. This is clear harassment and intimidation.

Let’s take a moment to discuss who is actually hateful and bigoted in this situation. There is a trans march and a dyke march. No lesbians are on record as saying they do not think there should be a trans march. No lesbians have attended a trans march to intimidate anybody. Lesbians have not tried to take over the board of directors of a trans march and kick out the trans people from the march. This is something that trans people are doing to the dyke march, and it’s happening only in that direction. It’s not going both ways.

Speaking for myself, I have been to a trans march. While I was there I just stood on the sidelines and watched. I did not lecture anyone about what they may or may not put on their sign. I did not select a person whose sign I believed was objectionable and follow them around in order to intimidate them. I do not believe I have the right to dictate to trans people what they put on their signs in their own march, nor do I have a right to harass anyone. I believe it’s acceptable for Pride festivals to include a trans march and for trans people to show their pride about being trans. I do not wish to stand in the way of this.

All the dyke marches in every city that holds them have been taken over by queer politics and are now hostile toward anyone who understands what a woman is and what a lesbian is. Comments from lesbians are deleted from Dyke March Facebook pages in every city and marchers hold signs that say things like “No TERFs” to make it clear that actual female homosexuals are not welcome there. The Dyke Marches now cater exclusively to men and bisexual women who agree with queer politics.

There is no logical reason why trans people need to be centered or even invited at all to a dyke march, since THERE IS A TRANS MARCH. A dyke march should center dykes.

What is happening here is that female homosexuals are being completely kicked out of Pride festivals; we cannot have our own march any more, we cannot even speak about our exclusion without being labelled bigots. It’s not just that trans people wanted their own march, which would have been fine, but they wanted every march to cater exclusively to them.

It is abundantly clear that the actual hatred and bigotry here is coming from trans people and is being directed at lesbians. Claims that lesbians are excluding trans people are complete reversals of the truth.

Speaking of lies, Wanda Normous wrote some real whoppers in the comments on my last post.

He has claimed that  “your desire to exterminate transwomen is plain” and that “you only care about hurting and excluding transwomen” and that “you’re just deciding for folks whether or not they’re women.”

Neither I nor the writer of the guest post gave any indication that we wanted to “exterminate” transwomen. In order for this alleged “desire” to be “plain,” we would have had to express it. This claim is purely a product of Mr. Normous’s imagination. Just for the record, no, I do not wish to exterminate anyone.

Neither I nor the guest writer has an interest in hurting transwomen. As for exclusion, I do think that transwomen should be excluded from the dyke march, however I do not think they should be excluded from the trans march. It’s pretty basic logic that the dyke march is for dykes and the trans march is for trans people. Having a march for each group does not exclude anybody—holding a march for each group is actually inclusion. Questions: If transwomen should be included in the dyke march, then why even have separate marches? Why not just make it one big march? And if trans people should be included in the dyke march, does this also mean that dykes should be included in the trans march? Why or why not?

A sign that says “dyke power is female” does not exclude anybody. It’s true that dykes are female. Stating a simple and neutral fact is not exclusionary.

Last but not least, the third lie mentioned above was “you’re just deciding for folks whether or not they’re women.” Nope! We’re not. Nobody can decide who is a woman and who is not. You’re just born that way. Nature and biology determine whether you’re born male or female. Nobody can decide anything about it. People can’t assign a sex to a baby any more than they can assign fingers or toes to a baby. Women are identifying the difference between male and female, but we cannot possibly decide it from our desire or will—nobody can.

I want to particularly highlight the following phrase from Wanda Normous:

“USELESS FUCKING TERF GARBAGE”

This is hate speech directed toward lesbians. Although Mr. Normous is very concerned that lesbians should not be allowed to represent a uterus on a sign because that is allegedly “hate speech” against him, he has no problem with calling lesbians “useless fucking terf garbage.” It’s very, very clear that Mr. Normous has serious misogyny issues. A misogynist and homophobic man who harasses and intimidates lesbians has absolutely no business attending a dyke march and he should be considered an unsafe person and banned from the event.

In contrast, I am a trans-critical writer who makes an effort not to use unnecessarily antagonistic language when talking about trans people. I never use the slur “tranny” and I even refrain from using the words “mutilate” and “delusional.” I believe in giving people basic courtesy and respect, in order to show that I am engaging honestly with issues and not just trolling. For a transwoman to show up on my blog and use this sort of disrespectful language when I have used no such disrespectful language toward him is very telling. Once again, the hatred and bigotry in this situation are coming from trans people and directed at lesbians; it’s a one-way street.

I did notice that Mr. Normous intentionally “misgendered” me by referring to me with male signifiers. This did not harm me in any way, because using incorrect grammar in a sentence does not cause people harm. I found it mildly amusing, but it really didn’t matter at all. However, I have to note that according to trans ideology, misgendering is “violence,” and so according to Mr. Normous’s own political position, he has committed “violence” toward me. Funny how the “violence” of misgendering only matters when directed toward transwomen; when directed at lesbians it’s not a problem.

The last point I’m going to cover for tonight is this:

“your narrative that women are only as good as their reproductive organs”

This is not at all the narrative that feminists present. It is a bald-faced lie to claim this. It is patriarchy that positions women as only good for reproduction and PIV sex. The entire feminist movement has been based on women’s knowledge that we are more than just wives and mothers and that we can do anything we want. Our work has been based on allowing us to control our reproductive capacity so that we are not reduced to our biological functions and can enter the workforce as men’s equals. To name the female reproductive anatomy does not reduce women to just their reproductive anatomy. Similarly, if I identify that I have ten fingers, that does not reduce me to just fingers, and if I identify that I have two eyes, that does not reduce me to nothing but eyes. This attempt at an argument is beyond pathetic.

Over and over I have witnessed transwomen behaving with masculine socialization (entitlement, dominance, and aggression), making ridiculously misogynist and homophobic statements, engaging in misogynist and homophobic behaviours, and telling bald-faced lies about feminists. I am absolutely not impressed and as long as they behave this way I will not be a political ally toward them. Although I would theoretically support some parts of trans activism, such as gender-neutral toilets and the right to wear the clothing one wants to wear, I cannot ally with people who are this hateful toward my demographic.

Over and over, transwomen demonstrate, with their own words and behaviour, that they do not resemble women in the slightest, and that they are particularly dangerous men. Feminists hardly have to call attention to the fact that transwomen are male; they do it themselves.