Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

2008 Weblog Awards

November 23, 2008

The 2008 Weblog Awards have now closed for public nominations. The categories include an LGBT category, amongst others. I’m glad to see that Lisa, Belle and Milly have all received at least one nomination each, although whether that’s going to be enough, only time will tell. Results will be announced in a couple of weeks.

Call for submissions for enTRANS’d, a trans-queer feminist ‘zine

November 11, 2008

Call for submissions – Please distribute as you see fit

Deadline: March 1st, 2009

Submissions wanted for enTRANS’d, a new zine focused on transsexual issues with a feminist angle. Articles, critiques, reviews and short writings (short stories, personal anecdotes and poetry all accepted). International perspectives and experiences are not just wanted, but needed, so don’t hesitate to submit, no matter where you are.

enTRANS’d is a proposal for an anthology zine on trans writing with a feminist bent. The aim is simple: to add to the increasing visibility of transsexuality in the feminist and queer communities, feminist and queer activism, and the world at large. It is my belief, as a trans person and intersectional anarchafeminist, that it is in our best interests to make our voices heard directly. At a time when we’re making gains as a community, we’re also in danger of letting our voices be drowned by authoritative, established transphobic voices in the feminist realm, like Germaine Greer, et al.

It is my personal belief that part of our struggle has to involve talking, discussing, and provoking. If ugly arguments must happen, let them happen, for many people are ignorant and well-meaning. It’s not our duty to become educational experiences for people. However, I believe many fellow, cissexual and/or cisgendered individuals may be ignorant of our struggles, yet mean well and be willing to learn. I believe in the human heart, and I believe that the worst we can do is to stay silent and let other people speak for us.

I want us to agitate. I want trans people of all sexes and genders to be heard, our experiences understood as being as diverse as in any other group. Others won’t do it for us.

Let’s keep the momentum created by a multitude of great trans writers, online and offline, all over the world.

(Please note, this call for submissions is not limited to transsexual individuals. Allies with experience in trans issues and trans feminist activism and/or writing are also invited to contribute.)

Submissions, questions, queries, please e-mail Ariel Silvera at ascots [[AT]]gmail —DOT— com

(Already published writing is acceptable. Please supply the url, or reference if it is a zine, book, etc.)

Psycho killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?

October 16, 2008

Well, as long as I’m in ye olde gothicke monster mode, how about this for a truly frightening link: The top 15 transsexual killer movies.

I mean really now – in how many ways is it possible to be offensive towards trans people whilst still thinking you’re the wittiest person on the face of the earth? This is hate speech wearing clown’s makeup.

For the lazy writer the transsexual angle is an easy way to dramatize a killers dual personality and exploit an audiences ingrained prejudices and fears and touch on certain undercurrents of misogyny and homophobia that are uncomfortable but can also make for disturbing and gripping filmmaking.

Translation: Even though all trans women are really just psycho killer blokes-in-frocks, they’re still only here for our entertainment. Aren’t they amusing?

…and hilarity ensues…

He wishes.

Oh but those selfish trans people, well, they had to go and spoil the movie just by appearing in it.
Those bastards. They always have to ruin everything for the nice cis ladies and gents, don’t they?

SPOLIER ALERT: Be advised that the transsexual angle in some of these films comprises that films twist ending.

Translation: For “twist ending” substitute “trans panic attack”.

And he should count himself lucky I’m not in grammar nazi mode.


Can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous, can’t relax
Can’€™t sleep, bed’€™s on fire
Don’t touch me I’€™m a real live wire.

Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run away
Oh oh oh oh
Ay ay ay ay um

You start a conversation, you can’t even finish it.
You’re talkin’ a lot, but you’re not sayin’ anything.
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
Say something once, why say it again?

Psycho Killer,
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run away
Oh oh oh
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run away
Oh oh oh oh
Ay ay ay ay um

Ce que j’ai fait, ce soir-la 
Ce qu’elle a dit, ce soir-la 
Realisant mon espoir
Je me lance vers la gloire … OK
Nya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya
We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they’re not polite

Psycho Killer,
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run away
Oh oh oh oh
Ay ay ay ay um

(YouTube link)

Call for LGBT participants in ECU survey about higher education

October 15, 2008

In the first national survey of its kind, Equality Challenge Unit has commissioned research into the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) staff and students in higher education.

Led by Professor Gill Valentine, Professor Paul Plummer and Dr. Nichola Wood from the University of Leeds, the research will identify any barriers or other issues specifically affecting LGBT staff and students. The research findings, due to be published in March 2009, will establish whether the higher education sector needs to take further action to engage with and support these groups.

Academics, managers, representatives of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, the trade unions, NUS, HEFCE, Universities Personnel Association, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Stonewall and Press for Change have all been involved in the production of the survey which will be distributed widely across higher education institutions.

The survey is available to complete online at from 14th October 2008 until 14th November 2008.

Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) supports the higher education sector in its mission to realise the potential of all staff and students whatever their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, or age, to the benefit of those individuals, higher education institutions and society.

She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister

August 30, 2008

Transsexuality is a complex and contradictory condition. It cuts across all boundaries: class, race, age, sex, laws, you name it. It has its origins in biology as well as culture: nature and nurture.

One result of this intersectionality is that transsexual people form a very diverse group with as many differences as similarities. In my darker moments, I find solace in knowing that – just as our transsexuality links us, even though we are such a disparate bunch – it’s our diversity that ensures we can celebrate our experiences, shared and different. And by that means, we develop a sense of kinship, yes, even community.

We are, each of us, unique individuals bound by a common condition which manifests itself in many, many ways. I see no fundamental difference between a trans person like me who has undergone surgery, and one who hasn’t. We both have to deal with gender dissonance, and we’re both in the same oppressed minority. She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister.

So, when I read garbage like this: http://ts-si%5BDOT%5Dorg/content/view/3454/995/ – well, it makes me cross. Did I say cross? I meant to say – angry. (And no, I will not link directly: I will not boost this idiot’s Technorati rating).

See, as long as some HBS people are trying to tell me that all they want is “a nice neat binary, with HBS men and women easily and clearly distinguished from a variety of self-advertising publicity-seeking ‘TG Pride’ paraphiliacs and fetishists” – or that “true transsexual” women look and act feminine before transitioning, and the rest of us are somehow unworthy fakes, then I just want to slap them. Hard. Never mind all the sham niceness and oh-so-reasonable tone – just where the hell do these idiots get off with their essentialist bullshit? Who appointed them as judge and jury about who is trans and who isn’t?

I was 50 before I began my transition: not by choice, just circumstances. How my life turned out. Half a century of testosterone damage does not make me “less trans” than someone who was fortunate – privileged – enough to transition young. Maybe it makes me more vulnerable to street harassment, discrimination, bigotry and random acts of violence – but it does not make me any less of a woman.

Those HBS people who adopt cis/heteronormative standards for defining who is a “true transsexual” and who isn’t – are no better than any of the cultfems it has been my misfortune to tangle with.

Let me put this as simply as I can: because a trans person has had bottom surgery does not make hir “more trans” than any other of my sisters and brothers (and let’s remember that HBS people are predominantly white and middle class – privileged, much?). This is not a competition. Transsexuality is not a lifestyle choice. Transsexuality is about survival. It’s about an oppressed minority hanging together, and looking out for each other.

In their scrabble for cis validation, many HBS people seem to have forgotten that we’re on the same side. But if they persist, if they attack just one of us, then they attack all of us. Pick on my sisters and brothers and you pick on me. Pick on me, and you pick on my sisters and brothers. We may be few in number, but together we are strong.

And if they think the rest of us didn’t notice their disgraceful comments to Mercedes’ DSM discussion over at Bilerico, think again. Reparatists and quacks like Zucker and Lawrence are empowered to decide the fate of my sisters and brothers – and we’re supposed to be concerned that some HBS people’s delicate sensibilities are offended?

And don’t even start me on these offensive comments. My sister, Angie Zapata, lies bludgeoned to death by a man who’s already confessed his guilt – and these HBS people still maintain Angie was responsible for her own murder? Listen, idiots, I’ve already told you: if you attack one of us, you attack all of us.

HBS people like this are part of the problem, not the solution.

And you wonder why ‘ordinary’ trans people like me are angry?


The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go

His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there

For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share

And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy he’s my brother

He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

(Via YouTube)

APA Task Force Report underreports the prevalence of gender identity disorder

August 29, 2008

Lynn Conway has just published a report on the APA Task Force’s underreporting of the prevalence of gender identity disorderlink here.

I don’t pretend to fully understand the finer points of Lynn’s investigations, but her summary alone speaks volumes in a way even I can understand:

Summary and Findings:

The APA Task Force Report on Gender Identity and Gender Variance [APA08 – PDF here] greatly underreports the prevalence of “gender identity disorder” by a factor on the order of 10 to 20.

The underreporting of GID prevalence derives from a deliberate misuse of clinical definitions and a failure to mention known calculation errors in sources.

The unreasonably low prevalence numbers are given to three significant figures in the Report, as if they were precisely accurate – while failing to mention well-known sources of estimation error.

The Task Force then dismisses recent work by Olyslager and Conway that had exposed large errors in earlier studies by calling that work a “minority position” – as if a scientific analysis must be certified by a majority vote, rather than judged on its merits.

The Task Force further dismisses the work of Olyslager and Conway by insinuating that citation by “transgender activists” somehow reduces its validity – while failing to cite it themselves.

Finally, the Task Force fails to mention recent scientific studies that report far higher-levels of GID prevalence than does their Report.

The point Lynn makes is that the Task Force has apparently deliberately misrepresented GID prevalence by equating “the prevalence of ’sex reassignment’ as being ‘the prevalence of transsexualism’”.

The shift in meaning in [Bakker93 – PDF here] led to confusion for many decades. After all, most people want an answer to the question “How likely is it that someone might experience gender dysphoria?” The far smaller counts of “sex reassignments” answer a different question.

Key members of the APA Task Force were well aware of the true meaning of the [Bakker93] results, because Olyslager and Conway had exposed it in a presentation at the WPATH 2007 Symposium [Olyslager&Conway07 – PDF here]. In particular, members Zucker and Lawrence (WPATH’s experts in GID prevalence and responsible for revising that section in the 7th Ed. of the SOC) were quite familiar with [Bakker93] and with its deconstruction by [Olyslager&Conway07].

It thus appears that the Task Force knowingly misrepresented the results of [Bakker93] by referring to “sex reassignment” numbers as numbers for “gender identity disorder” – thereby making intense gender dysphoria appear to be far less prevalent than it actually is.

It really is quite disturbing that an organisation with such power would misrepresent the facts around such a debilitating condition, with all the consequences that such a course of action had, and has, on the lives of so many people. And why? For what purpose? I just don’t understand.

ETA: The whys and wherefores of this bugged me enough to email Lynn directly. She sent an interesting reply, which included the comment, “Hope this information is helpful to you. Please do pass it on to your friends and contacts too” – so here’s Lynn’s take on it:

Who might be responsible for this falsification?

It appears that the APA Task Force relied on Ken Zucker and Anne Lawrence for the section on prevalence. Zucker and Lawrence are considered WPATH’s ‘experts’ on prevalence, having been assigned responsibility for the revision of that section in the 7th Edition of the SOC. Furthermore, Zucker presented the exact same numbers for GID prevalence at the WPATH 2007 Symposium as presented in the APA report.

Why do the prevalence numbers matter?

Factors of 20 are important. By maintaining the old misimpression that fewer than 1 in 10,000 people experience gender dysphoria, the APA creates an illusion that it is an extremely rare “disorder”. If people were aware that gender dysphoria is experienced by at least 1 in 500 people, transgenderism would increasingly be seen for what it is – a natural variation in gendering. Furthermore, by maintaining the illusion that gender dysphoria is incredibly rare, gender-repartists such as Zucker can assure parents that it’s extremely unlikely their gender-variant child will become “transsexual” and suggest that all the child needs is some minor gender-repairs.

I think you can see why and how this happened. It all points to Zucker and Lawrence, who are principal figures in the “old-guard” psych community that has long demonized transwomen. Zucker in particular runs a gender-reparatist clinic in Canada, and is well-known for forcing young GID children to accept their birth gender.

For more on Zucker and Lawrence, see the following pages:


Previous, related posts on this blog (most recent first):

Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism

August 5, 2008

The world’s largest annual women-only event excludes trans women, sparking a debate among feminists about sexism and privilege.

By Julia Serano, AlterNet. Posted August 5, 2008

6-page article.
The comments section should be approached with caution.

(I’ve since discovered the print version, which is just the essay in plain text, no adverts – and best of all, no comments section. Link here)

ETA: Having re-read Laura’s uplifting and very perceptive/pertinent post at TFW – called In which a cis feminist has a serious and long overdue rethink – over lunch, I took a print-out of Julia Serano’s essay with me for company on my journey to my appointment with the speech therapist this afternoon.

And if ever a blockquote leaped off the page at me, it was this one:

Over the last five years, trans feminine feminists have begun to articulate a new perspective on feminism and trans activism that better captures our own experiences dealing with sexism. This approach is not so much rooted in queer theory as it is in intersectionality — a theory that grew out of the work of feminists of color, most thoroughly chronicled by Patricia Hill Collins, and perhaps first discussed in relation to the MWMF trans woman-exclusion issue by Emi Koyama. Intersectionality states that different forms of oppression do not act independently of one another, but rather they interact synergistically. Unlike queer theory and lesbian-feminism, intersectionality focuses primarily on the ways in which people are institutionally marginalized, rather than fixating on whether any given individual’s identity or behaviors “reinforce” or “subvert” the gender system.

According to this view, trans women lie at the intersection of (at least) two types of sexism. The first is cissexism, which is the societal-wide tendency to view transsexual gender identities and sex embodiments as being less legitimate than those of cissexuals — that is, nontranssexuals. (Note: the word “cisgender” is similarly used as a synonym for nontransgender.) Cissexism functions in a manner analogous to heterosexism: Transsexual gender identities and homosexual/bisexual orientations are both typically viewed as being inherently questionable, unnatural, morally suspect, and less socially and legally valid than their cissexual and heterosexual counterparts. Not only does cissexism institutionally marginalize transsexual individuals, but it privileges cissexuals, rendering their genders and sexed bodies as unquestionable, unmarked and taken for granted (similar to how heterosexual attraction and relationships are privileged in our culture).

While all transsexuals face cissexism, trans women experience this form of sexism as being especially exacerbated by traditional sexism. For example, trans women are routinely hyper-sexualized in our society, especially in the media, where we are regularly depicted as fetishists, sexual deceivers, sex workers and/or in a sexually provocative fashion (trans men, in contrast, are not typically depicted in this way). The common presumption that trans women transition to female for sexual reasons seems to be based on the premise that women as a whole have no worth beyond their ability to be sexualized. Furthermore, most of the societal consternation, ridicule and violence directed at trans people focuses on individuals on the trans feminine spectrum — often specifically targeting our desire to be female or our feminine presentation. While trans men experience cissexism, their desire to be male/masculine is typically not mocked or derided in the same way — to do so would bring maleness/masculinity itself into question. Thus, those of us on the trans feminine spectrum don’t merely experience cissexism or “transphobia” so much as we experience trans-misogyny.

Trans feminine perspectives on sexism have shaken up the dynamics of long-standing feminist debates about trans individuals and inclusion. For example, lesbian-feminist critiques of queer theory and transgender activism have charged that focusing primarily on transgressing or blurring the distinction between “woman” and “man” does nothing to address the affect that traditional sexism has on women’s lives. Trans feminine feminists typically agree with this lesbian-feminist critique and further extend it to address the many ways in which traditional sexism impacts our own lives, both as women and as trans women.

Trans feminine feminists have also taken issue with the ways in which others have defined and positioned us in the MWMF inclusion debate. For example, queer theorists and transgender activists often argue for inclusion on the basis that transgender people transgress or subvert the gender binary. Trans women have challenged this approach for being both masculine-centric (as it favors trans masculine individuals) and cissexist (as the presumption that we blur or subvert the gender binary is the direct result of people viewing us as “fake” and “illegitimate” women in the first place). Lesbian-feminists, on the other hand, typically argue that trans women should be denied entrance into women-only spaces such as MWMF because we were born and socialized male. These claims are also masculine-centric (as they emphasize supposedly “male/masculine” aspects of our history over our female identities and lived experiences as women) and cissexist (as they presume that our female identities are less legitimate than those of cissexual women).

I really do recommend reading the whole thing.

Even later edit: Nexy spotted the the perfect comment.  I <3 Drea ^_^

Computer says…

July 29, 2008

Mike On Ads has a mildly amusing toy which analyses your web browser history to estimate your gender… (Or should that be “construct your gender”?)

Mike says that the idea of this kind of analysis is far from new and he points out that Xerox actually made an application to patent the process.

Of course there are potentially not-so-nice social engineering uses for a script like this – although most webby social engineering trickery pales into insignificance if you believe even a zillionth of the rumours about the amount and type of data collected by a certain well-known search engine. And don’t even start me on the potential information disaster in waiting that is a famous social networking site…

So click over to Mike’s and have a go. Put your results in the comments here and let’s all have a bit of a smile at the foolishness, waste-of-time-ness, predictability and bah-humbug-ishness of it all…

Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 87%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 13%

Yeah baby! I’m (nearly) all woman! Rawrrr!

(Via Violet Blue: link probably definitely NSFW)


(Cross-posted at The F Word on 29 July 2008)

©2008 Helen G

Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh…

July 3, 2008

Further to my recent posts (links here and here) about the police brutality meted out to Duanna Johnson in a ‘Justice Center’ in Memphis, Tennessee, comes a report on Channel 3 News (link to WREG website here) that Memphis police are investigating the death of Rodney Whitaker, age 20, an African-American trans* woman whose body was found on 1 July.

“The specific circumstances leading to her death are not known at this time,” said Tennessee Equality Project President Christopher Sanders. “But there is reason to believe this is a hate crime fueled by transphobia.”

This comes in the same week as the news of the still unsolved murder (from February 2006, ffs) of Tiffany Berry, another African-American trans* woman. Ms Berry’s body was found near a strip club – and as Alex Blaze of The Bilerico Project says, “they’re going to presume sex work, of course, even though the body could have been moved or she might have been in the neighborhood for another reason”.

It is difficult not to think that the Memphis police departmment cares little about the safety of trans* women of colour. In the words of the Tennessee Equality Project’s Marisa Richmond:

“We consider these two recent crimes, combined with the still unsolved murder of another African American transgender woman, Tiffany Berry on February 16, 2006, to be totally unacceptable. The lack of response by the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County to the beating of Duanna Johnson has set a tone in the community that the lives of transgender people, especially African American transwomen, are irrelevant.”


©2008 Helen G

The Intermawebz never lie

July 1, 2008



As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

(Via Daisy)


©2008 Helen G