I feel sorry for my friends who work for Center for Inquiry (CFI), and when I say I will not support CFI it is not because of them. It is not their fault the leadership of CFI are cowards that refuse to take a stand against the sexist bullshit going on in the skeptics movement. Their CEO now catering to the stalkers, haters and abusers of the community.
In addition I will not support James Randi’s organisation JREF, nor will I support Richard Dawkins (also here) and his organisation RDF, nor Michael Shermer. You have all become irrelevant and have proven to be actively working against all I stand for.
I have come to this decision long before I read Rebecca’s post, but I completely agree with her decision and recommendations, and it is what prompted this statement.
- So Much for Center for Inquiry – Rebecca Watson, Skepchick
- An Open Letter to the Center for Inquiry, Withdrawing My Participation and Support – Greta Christina, FtB
- Teach the controversy – Ophelia Benson, FtB
- The Center For Inquiry Likes Atheism’s Cranky White Guy Image, So Screw You Ladies – Amanda Marcotte
I got a link today to an article from the South China Morning Post about an intersex man. The story is interesting, but the article itself is horrible. They are completely ignorant of intersex people, and as an extension, gender non-conforming people in general.
The title goes: “Man, 66, goes to doctor and finds he’s a woman”
Yeah, well, that is in fact impossible. A correct title would be: “Man, 66, goes to doctor and finds he has a rare medical condition.” It doesn’t have the same sensationalist ring to it, but at least it is accurate and does not reek of cissexism.
Reading through the article it is clear the man has two relatively rare conditions.
Firstly there’s Turner syndrome, which is when a person is partially or entirely missing one sex chromosome. Meaning they have one X chromosome and that’s pretty much it. Most foetuses with this condition are spontaneously aborted, but some are born alive. The condition occurs in 1 in 2000 to 5000 “phenotypic females”.
Secondly, he has a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). It is a condition that can cause an overproduction of androgens, male sex hormones, and can cause ambiguous genitalia and masculinisation in people without a Y chromosome. It varies greatly how common the condition is based on race, but it ranges from 1 in 280 to 1 in 15000. There is a condition that affects people with a Y chromosome in a similar way too, androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), where one is fully or partially immune to androgens. The effect of this is full or partial feminisation.
Anyway, so back to the article.
About his condition, the article says:
Sufferers [of Turner syndrome] usually look like women, but in this case the patient also had congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which boosted the male hormones and made the patient look like a man.
This an instance of the “not really a man/woman” trope that leads to the “fake man/woman” accusation trans people often face. We (I’m a trans woman) only look male or female. But we aren’t really you see. It’s all fake. … This is a pretty common form of bigotry we face. Especially in the media. There are numerous medical conditions that can cause a person to lack one or more of the features usually associated with a given gender. People will often then try to erase someone’s gender identity based on it. Especially if you’re a woman, as we saw with Angelina Jolie who recently among numerous sexist and racist remarks had her identity as a woman erased for having had a double mastectomy.
In the case of the Chinese article they also ignore this man’s own wishes and identity as “he has decided to continue perceiving himself as a male and may receive male hormone treatment.” This clearly implies that he has always seen himself as a man, and continues to do so. Of course he is a man. However the article, while quoting the Hong Kong Medical Journal, presumably, says:
The patient, by definition, is a woman who cannot get pregnant. But she also has CAH, which gave her the appearance of a man,” Chinese University paediatrics professor Ellis Hon Kam-lun said. “It’s an interesting and very rare case of having the two combinations. It probably won’t be seen again in the near future.
Seriously? By definition? Sorry, ignorant medical peoples. There is no clear definition of man and woman, as is clearly evident by the range of intersex variations in humans and other animals. Man/woman and male/female are false dichotomies, an artificial binary that is used also in medicine because it is statistically dominant and to an extent practical. However it isn’t that simple in reality. As any other group classification in nature it is a simplistic representation. The problem arises when simplistic representations of nature become so ingrained in the culture that we try to enforce them. Something conservatives and religious people are exceedingly good at.
The medical profession is also guilty of enforcing this binary representation on new born intersex babies, resulting in genital mutilations and life long sexual dysfunction. This is still practised many places. In her book Sexing the body: gender politics and the construction of sexuality (2000), professor Anne Fausto-Sterling discusses, among other things, the biology behind intersex and the treatment of intersex people throughout medical history. It is an excellent book if you are interested in the topic, but it also makes you sad and angry. Another tragic case of confused doctors messing with people’s identity in the name of the holy binary and failed gender theories is the case of David Reiner who accidentally lost his penis during a circumcision and was surgically assigned female. He eventually took his own life.
Just to throw in a last insult at intersex and trans people, with a touch of ableism (several of the conditions can cause disabilities), they just had to add this line:
Normal females have a pair of X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y.
So, normal females have XX and males have XY? Well, gee, if bigots like this person are the normals, I don’t want to be. May I suggest that you, anonymous ”staff reporter”, writer of the article, go fuck yourself — and then perhaps go educate yourself a bit.
What is it about former Star Trek actors and being so awesome?
In this clip Patrick Steward is answering a question from a lady at Comicpalooza 2013. Here’s her comment about this video clip:
This was my question to Sir Patrick Stewart at Comicpalooza 2013. I wanted to thank Patrick Stewart for his speech at Amnesty International it personally help me put a name to the abuse, sexual abuse in my case, I had experienced in the past. He responded very passionately and the last thing I thought I would get at was a heartfelt hug.
When he embraced me he told me “You never have to go through that again, you’re safe now”. I just kept thanking him.
I hope everyone who needs help in abusive or violent situations has the courage to do so. There are people willing and ready to help you.
This is an atrocity against all nerd-kind.
Futurama is the best and funniest animated TV-show ever made. With its absurd characters and story lines it has managed to cover a number of social issues in their time as well as just being entertaining. Remember when Bender was drifting through space and a civilisation grew on his body and he became a god? Or when Farnsworth was stuffed away in an institution for old people, in a space station called the Near-Death Star? Or the abuse of the Marsian natives. Well, they were arguably pushing the lines of making fun of Native Americans there. Which leads to the fact that they didn’t always succeed in addressing social issues well. In another show Bender had a “sex change”. Although they made some good points there, they also pushed a lot of bullshit stereotypes.
But then, Bender is about as politically incorrect as it’s
humanly robotically possible to be. His sexism, and not to mention Zapp Brannigan’s, gives plenty of room for feminist ass-kicking by Leela. His greed also lets us explore the consequences of selfishness. Times one million, but still.
And of course there’s completely messed up time-travel episodes with paradoxes and everything. Just the way I love my Sci-Fi to be. Oh, and the first movie, Bender’s Game, it’s awesome.
Anyway. Maybe I need to rewatch the show now. There’s another half season left, starting in June I think.
Or maybe they will un-cancel it again? Or what do you think? Hypnotoad?
A good video discussing disclosure of one’s trans status to partners and when to do it.
A transgender woman from Idaho in the US was banned from a grocery store because she was using the women’s restroom. The local police captain explained:
The store security officer said he had been dealing with a problem over a couple days with the person going into the women’s restroom and urinating while standing up.
Apparently this made other female customers feel “very uncomfortable”.
Firstly, I don’t think that is a problem. Breaking discriminatory normative standards often makes people feel uncomfortable. Great. I say fuck normativity anyway. The question is still though: was this necessary? or even helpful? Maybe it helps to get these issues talked about in a small conservative community, but also maybe it makes it harder to be trans* in that area. I’m not going to make any judgement on that as I have no idea how things are around there.
However this story has caused a bit of a split among trans* people too. A lot of trans* people do like to enforce a certain level of normativity, i.e. enforce traditional gender roles on some level. Like in this instance: “women don’t pee standing up.” Which is of course not true, as you can pee standing up without a penis. I have no idea how people with various medical conditions that involves peeing through a bag or tube does this, but I assume that’s one way it can be done. In any case, the normative argument is still bullshit because most people with a vagina and people with a penis pee in the way that makes it most practical for them to do so. It really has nothing to do with gender, but with plumbing. I personally think everyone should sit and pee because it is less messy, and apparently there are some medical benefits. I don’t know. The messy reason is good enough for me.
The issue here is really a different one though. To these other women, the act of peeing while standing, and I assume that was determined either by an open stall door, or the sound of splashing, clearly indicated to them the presence of a penis. Everyone knows that penises are dangerous. They have a mind of their own you see. Ok, rape is a serious issue, so is stalking women in a private environment, and hypothetically a creepy man could dress like a woman to sneak into a women’s restroom for sinister purposes; but for that matter, creepy women could be there for the exact same reasons. Theoretically. However there is no reason to believe that trans women, or trans men for that matter, do that any more then cis people do. As the vast majority of people of the non-creepy kind, we go to the restroom for the obvious reason: when nature calls.
Then why can’t trans women just use the men’s restroom and trans men the women’s? Well, for the same reason cis women use the women’s and cis men use the men’s, trans women use the women’s and trans men use the men’s. If you want to argue that point without getting into discrimination, you’re basically arguing for unisex restrooms; which you sometimes find around here at least, and they work pretty well too. Except that I find, from my experience at least, that women’s restrooms are generally less messy than men’s. Both from having cleaned restrooms as an evening job in my early 20s, and from being transsexual and having gone from using one kind to the other kind on a daily basis.
Also, if we truly were to address this issue from a safety perspective, a trans woman in the men’s restroom is probably the most risky situations of all considered here. Risky for the woman that is. Although I’ve seen plenty of women entering men’s restrooms in pubs and clubs simply because there’s a shorter queue. Which has never been a big deal when I’ve seen it. It’s actually a little refreshing when people let go a little and stop being so damn anal about everything.
It has been a while since last time I posted a Caturday post, so here comes another one!
My birthday was two days ago, and today a few people are coming over to celebrate with me and some of the people I share house with. Yay :)
A new piercing!
That is, the heart piercing at the top of my ear. Done by the skilled and awesome people at Pinpoint Piercing in Oslo.
I’ve also fallen in love with magnetic nail polishes. Currently I’m wearing this one:
They’re by IsaDora, and they have a selection of nice colours that this effect works well for. I’ve bought three so far, and I’ll get two more just so I can wear one colour on each nail! Perfect for a physicist :)
The media is full of transphobia. The recent transphobic writings by UK writer Julie Burchill started yet another shitstorm. The media does not take these issues seriously at all and fucking it up is pretty much the rule. Here’s an example of the consequences of the irresponsibility of the media:
It doesn’t help, either, when complaints aren’t taken seriously:
- Comment: Julie Burchill – the message she is sending to trans people and aspiring writers – PinkNews
As for the original shitstorm from January, here’s a summary:
Trigger warnings all over the place …
Many may have heard about the conviction of two teenage boys for the rape of a teenage girl at a party last summer. You may also have noticed how the focus of the media have been on the two “promising young boys” tragically convicted of rape. No one seems to give the girl much thought in all this. The boys were such promising football players!
- Steubenville, Victim-Blaming, and Solutions to Rape – Fem2.0
- Steubenville & the Cult of Consequence-Free Forgiveness – Skepchick
Also, the anti-choice kooks in the US are getting oppressive laws passed:
A great article on women in movies:
I also want to point out my own post on Skepchick about yet another person, this time someone who should know better, making all sorts of bullshit claims about the Higgs boson.
- The Misunderstood Particle? – Skepchick
One common theme of this Worth Reading is: Fuck the media.
The Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion released a proposition for a new anti-discrimination law today. The main inclusion that caught my eye (not that I read it all) was:
Departementet har sendt på høring et forslag til likelydende bestemmelser om opplysningsplikt i alle diskrimineringslovene. Høringsforslaget betyr at arbeidsgivere får opplysningsplikt ved mistanke om lønnsdiskriminering på grunn av kjønn, etnisitet, religion, livssyn, nedsatt funksjonsevne, seksuell orientering, kjønnsidentitet og kjønnsuttrykk.
Which translates roughly into English:
The Ministry has circulated a proposal for identical policies of disclosure for all discrimination laws. The proposal means that employers will provide information on suspected pay discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion, creed, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Which means, if approved, that discriminating against people based on gender identity and expression is explicitly illegal as opposed to the vague protection we have today under the same laws.