When Trans pioneer Dallas Denny published an article in The Transadvocate voicing her misgivings a book to be published promoting Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF), Gender Hurts by Sheila Jeffreys, she received a letter in reply, purporting to be from a group of academics.
Apart from disingenuously attempting to play the victim and trying to claim that Ms Denny is attempting to silence radical feminists, the letter in question is full of hate and has threatening undertones;
I am writing to let you know that we were all sent a copy of your recent letter to Rutledge Press in reference to Sheila Jeffreys’ forthcoming book, Gender Hurts, and have organized a small but growing group to address the issue. We realize a corrective is urgently needed. We have held preliminary discussions to ensure that as academic women we will confront the questions beginning in the fall semester 2013 and again in the spring semester 2014.
The letter, a prodigious example of arrogance and bullshit sounded a warning and rallied us from across the curriculum. We recognize the telltale signs of a dangerous movement that feigns legitimacy in postmodern pseudoscience and meaningless jargon—, you catchin’ my cis drift?
We will continue to coordinate our efforts so that our classrooms will be at the forefront of questioning transgender as a valid political movement—or perhaps that is just a veil for a misogynist hate group. We will take a holistic approach and posit the distinct possibility of a fatuous diagnosis designed to camouflage less sympathetic and socially accepted issues. Students after they sift through the death and rape threats sent by Transgender “activist” to women and feminists will understand why the syllabi are not posted on-line or on the blackboard, and our decision to procure texts from other than usual sources will make clear sense to them.
The questions students will invariably ask is: why? Why the distinctly male rage? Why the threats and why the attempts to silence women and other academics? In order to illuminate these questions we will turn attentions toward Michael Bailey’s The Man That Would Be Queen and Dr. Anne Lawrence’s notions on transgender narcissistic rage, as both may serve to posit alternate theories of equal merit that students can understand.
In the classroom the first order of the day will confront the ever ubiquitous over used manipulative claim of “transphobia”—which sounds hollow when students see that the primary victims are natal women who happen to hold opinions and write things that you and others do not happen to like.
Be cognizant that any reasonable undergraduates will question a movement that lies and plays fast and loose sans accepted ethical considerations… That’s called education.
Thank you for your time and attention, and most specifically for the inspiration and the opportunity to show another generation what academic freedom really means on the ground and in the classroom. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors to delude people, and yes we’re flippin’ you the bird. Take this as the “fuck you” it is intended to be.
Women For Academic Freedom
This letter, laughingly calling trans people a misogynistic “hate group”, purports to be raising an “army” of graduates to fight Dallas Denny, and all transwomen.
When Ms Denny did a search for Women for Academic Freedom, it threw up their page on the blog site Gender Identity Watch. As if the very name does not sound enough like an extreme right neo-Nazi group, their objectives remove any doubt in the matter. They claim “We do not single out individual males as predatory, nor do we think any particular male is more likely to harm females. Further, we do not believe that transgender or transsexual women are any more likely to harm females,”
Really? Except the paragraph preceding that one would seem to completely contradict that statement;
Specifically, the proliferation of legislation designed to protect “gender identity” and “gender expression” undermines legal protections for females vis-à-vis sex segregated spaces, such as female-only clubs, public restrooms, public showers, and other spaces designated as “female only.” Females require sex-segregated facilities for a number of reasons, chief among them the documented frequency of male sexual violence against females and the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting from this relatively common form of violence. Public policy, therefore, rationally permits sex segregation in certain settings where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.
If “Public policy, therefore, rationally permits sex segregation in certain settings where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists,” then one can only logically gather from that one sentence alone that Gender Identity Watch do not recognise the legitimacy of transwomen as actual women. But then this is clearly evidenced by their statement, “the proliferation of legislation designed to protect “gender identity” and “gender expression” undermines legal protections for females vis-à-vis sex segregated spaces, such as female-only clubs, public restrooms, public showers, and other spaces designated as “female only.”” If Gender Identity Watch “recognize the legitimate needs of transgender and transsexual women to operate in the world free from irrational discrimination” then why should they perceive transwomen as any sort of threat? They clearly do not see transwomen as actual women but men who pose a threat, which one can only call – irrational discrimination.
Even their claim “We do not single out individual males as predatory,” can be shown to be hypocritical. On the day of writing this article, the front page story on Gender Identity Watch was a reblog of an article about Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, allowing transwomen to use public bathrooms. The said blog, in sensationalist form, focuses upon one transgender woman, Paula Witherspoon, who as Paul Ray Witherspoon in 1990 was convicted of sexual offences against children. It goes onto state “So good ol’ Parkland Hospital in Dallas has changed its policy to allow men like Paul Ray Witherspoon to use female toilets to protect his “gender identity” at the expense of any teenage girls who might also be using said toilets”. That sort of language, men like Paul Ray Witherspoon clearly illustrates that Gender Identity Watch view all transwomen as a threat and the same as one individual. Tell you what dears, there are more men and boys sexually assaulted in public toilets than women and girls. Using the same logic, should we close down all men’s public restrooms?
There are people who dislike the term feminazi but I personally cannot think of any better term to use when addressing women like this. When one sets one particular gender apart and tries to claim that gender is better than another, then goes on to ignore the legitimacy of transgender people, and treat them as inferior, then that is exactly the same sort of thinking as those who talked about a “master race”. Exactly the same sort of thinking which was a cancer across Europe between 1933-1945.
As far as being academics is concerned, then I find that laughable. For if they not only refuse to recognise the existence of transgender people but refer to them as “a dangerous movement that feigns legitimacy in postmodern pseudoscience and meaningless jargon” then they actually fly in the face of peer-reviewed scientific research which strongly asserts that gender identity is formed in the womb;
“Sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy, whereas sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy. This means that in the event of an ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. Our observations on reversed sex differences in the brains of patients with transsexualism (Harry Benjamin Syndrome) support the idea that HBS is based on an opposite sexual differentiation of i) sexual organs during the first couple of months of pregnancy and ii) the brain in the second half of pregnancy.” (Sexual differentiation of the human brain in relation to Gender Identity, Dr. Swaab, Dick F and Dr. Alicia Garcia-Falgueras, 2009)
But then, I already question the academic qualifications of those who send threatening letters, ‘flipping the bird’ at people and telling them “fuck you”. That, coupled with their apparent appalling ignorance of scientific evidence, would suggest to me that they have the same level of academic qualifications as those who portray a stegosaurus with a saddle on its back and a tyrannosaurus rex using it’s teeth to dig up orange carrots.
Yes, I am likening them to the religious right. I have no problem in doing so because by their own language, they do that adequately enough themselves. Indeed, many of the arguments used by the US religious right are no different from Gender Identity Watch. And as the religious right tend to be a bunch of odious, scientifically ignorant, hateful bigots, all one can say is birds of a feather flock together.
These people call themselves feminists. I hotly dispute that on the grounds that feminism is defined as “a belief or movement advocating the cause of women’s rights and opportunities, particularly equal rights with men, by challenging inequalities between the sexes in society.” (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary). Under this definition, anyone can be a feminist, regardless of biological gender or gender identity; all that qualifies is that you seek the rights of women and for them to be equal with men. The difference with the above women, as evidenced by their own words, is that they see themselves at war with and above men, and anyone who happened to be born with a penis and testicles. That is not feminism, that is misandry – hatred of men. The two are not only not the same thing, they are actually diametrically opposed and those who identify with that brand of “radical feminism” are therefore an insult to both the term feminist and the female gender. To use an analogy, you can be the greatest patriot for your country, but that does not mean having to hate other countries. When that happens the patriot crosses the line and becomes a bigot. I see absolutely no difference between that and gender politics. We no longer accept that from men who claim to be superior, nor should we accept it from women.
If anything, this mindset actually turns many away from feminism, particularly those who should be embracing it. There are many women worldwide who consider Margaret Thatcher as a feminist icon. Except that Margaret Thatcher (whom I had no love for incidentally) rejected any such idea. She is on record as saying she hated “the strident tones of women’s libbers” and “I despise feminism. It is poison.” If the first woman Prime Minister of the UK thought that, then just what do ordinary women in the street think of the radical feminist mindset? They are their own worst enemy.
Many of those women who subscribe to the “radical feminist” label also declare themselves to be lesbian as a political statement. By politicising sexuality, they thereby assert that it is a choice, which can only serve to erode the recognition that sexual identity, like gender identity, is not a choice but is in fact formed in the womb. It is therefore also an insult directly to lesbian women, and by extension of making homosexuality a matter of choice, gay men. And of course, it logically follows that given they choose to be lesbian, they do not recognise bisexuality or pansexuality.
We therefore see that this is little more than a hate group of highly unintelligent and poorly educated people spreading their poison. Thankfully such people are indeed a minority. In the USA and elsewhere in the world the rights of transgender people, are making huge inroads to cisgender conformity. Their agenda must inevitably fail, for the simple reason that they are already on the road to being on the wrong side of history.
Moreover, because they marginalise themselves so very much, not only are there few people willing to listen to them but they themselves actually refuse to engage with a great many people. Yet one more indication of their low intelligence.
Every time transgender people gain more recognition – be it the right to use a public restroom, or to apply for a job previously closed to them – it should be seen as a victory, not just for the transgender community, not just against cisgender stereotypes, but for the advancement of mankind – and against the hateful, bigoted mindset of the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists; which also makes it a victory for feminism, and for women.
They can make all the “right” noises they want about claiming to support the rights of transgender people but they condemn themselves by their own words as being bigots, and like all bigots, that shall be their downfall. Every time I come across people like this, no matter what bigotry they support, I am reminded of Roger McGough’s poem There are Fascists;
There are fascists,
pretending to be humanitarians;
like cannibals on a health kick,
eating only vegetarians.
Article in The Transadvocate:
Gender Identity Watch blog: