Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zinnia Jones: Gender is only important when THEY say it is.

“What if someone thinks they’re a cat?”

(Besides the obvious answer that gender is a sub-set of humanity, and that cats are outside of humanity.)


So some guy thinks he's a cat. Is he still showing love and compassion to his friends and family? Is he still taking care of his responsibilities and meeting his goals? Why can't one of his goals be "cat"!

I, for one, anticipate our transhumanist future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends": Scientific American

And here we have a prime example of the deep psychological damage that can be caused by cisheterosexuality. They claim to be "born this way" and that it's "natural", but the true cost of their lifestyle choices lies in their inability to function optimally in normal intergender friendships. Having identified with a sexuality as their primary identity, they are unable to keep their obsessive thoughts from perverting their daily social interactions, and misguidedly seek relief by segregating into sociopathic same-gender-only subcultures. Let us be on our guard against this insidious Straight Agenda.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My TDoR will be intersectional or it will be BULLSHIT.

Sitting here shedding white tears because I haven't even finished my coffee yet and already been hit with 4 powerful reminders of how racism shits all over everything, and how fond society is to look away instead of clean our mess up.
NPR ran a couple good stories this morning: one on the lashback against the choice to cast a light-skinned Hollywood-approved Nina Simone, and another on the rising acceptance of black people as valid nerds. I did a little fist-pump (while trying not to swerve off the road) because I was glad to hear the momentum going in the right direction. Just a few minutes later, NPR addressed the pro-pot movement as it pertains to Colorado, and of course they didn't mention how white-washed that movement is nor how racist anti-marijuana law enforcement is, nobody ever does.
Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) - I'm sure you've heard of it. Pay attention to how the remembered are portrayed. See how many times you see happy white faces (or worse: white man faces) as the focus of all the attention. Make no mistake: this is about race. Trans women are killed because of their race and often their association with sex work. "Whore! Pervert! No need for an investigation" and the case is closed.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Edit: this was at a time when I was contemplating using he/him pronouns. I currently use they/them.

I feel a sort of a failure for giving in to binary pronouns. I've stuck fast to my ideology for almost 2 years now, but as much as I love beating my head against a wall, I've decided to give my head a rest (or the wall, whichever way you look at it).

But the fact is, people will not gender me correctly. And I mean will, as in willfully. I have heard every excuse under the book as to why people deserve indefinite free passes on using ze/hir like I've asked. And I'm meant to take this as a reasonable violation of my trust.

Now my son has turned 6. I've got to somehow navigate connecting this issue with him in a meaningful way, and I can't do that in a world in which I'm continually crossed on all sides - emotionally, I can't.

It breaks me somewhat. The same way it frustrates me that I can't vote for the Green Party which actually gives a shit about people like me, and I'm faced with a "choice" between the Democrats and Bigotry Incarnate.

And then people see me make the most of what I have, and they feel validated somehow. How glorious for them! I've reinforced their binary! See, they really knew what was best for me all along!

So here I am, wearing the Emperor's Hand-Me-Downs, where everyone tells me how great I look now I've finally heeded their expertise, as I hand over my dignity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gratuitous NPH

Fixed it for you.
Whoever made the original is just disgusting.
Also, that's NPH on the left.
You do know who he is, right?

NPH taking off his shirt


NPH naked and touching himself

Srsly guize:

NPH putting on lipstick


NPH taking a bath in his clothes

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Anonymous asked: I'm really confused about my gender. I don't know what or who I am. Is there any advice you can offer??

Honestly, the first step is to get to know yourself, not necessarily even in terms of gender. This takes time, and often involves trying new things (even if privately) and seeing if they feel like “you”. Gender is descriptive, not prescriptive - that means it describes who you are, not who you ought to force yourself to be. Sadly, finding a title for your gender is more difficult if your gender label is not popularly used in society.

Take me for example: my gender is best described as “nerd”, falling under the genderqueer umbrella. “Man” and “woman” are broad gender umbrellas too, with many sub-genders getting lumped in together under each. I worked this out for myself through trial and error, and lots of accepting that even those closest to me and who care about me didn’t know me as well as I know myself. I had to become brave enough to contradict others and tell them who I am.

I don’t recommend you go this alone (unless you operate best as a solitary being). My favorite group support is the Genderqueer Atheists on Facebook. Transgender Support is a group that may help you out as well. You can also look to your local LGBT Center for resources for gender minorities.

Above all else, trust yourself. If someone tells you something you “ought” to be feeling but you just can’t force yourself into feeling is right for you, believe your feelings are valid without needing a philosophical theoretical defense. Let others define themselves, and you define yourself.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sex-Positive vs Trans Equality

There is no "vs".

I'll re-emphasize:


I don't know where this epic battle originated nor why it's perpetuated to the levels we're seeing online (mostly targeted at Laci Green and at the so-called "Tumblr SJ Community"), but it has its roots in bullshit.

That's right:


Tonight I'm going camping with some awesome trans peeps. We need body autonomy, we need positive sexuality, we need acceptance, we need the support of sex-positive community.

Tomorrow I'm going SlutWalking with some awesome sexpoz peeps. We need body autonomy, we need positive sexuality, we need acceptance, we need the support of the transgender community.

And you know what? Maybe some of us has let the others down on both sides. But we're trying. We're looking forward. We're coming together tomorrow night for a Transgender Panel at SlutWalk (I'm going to see many of the same people at both events). There is respect, there is concern, and there is hopefully increased understanding and compassion for each other.

So when I see all this SELFISH FOOLISH BICKERING all over my Tumblr and my internets, I am hurt. I am drained of my optimism and hope. Yes, things may need to be said, and people may need to learn lessons. But when it fucking goes to 11 and stays that way for as long as this has, it's time to get a fucking grip and either BECOME THE SOLUTION OR SIT THE FUCK DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Question: Andy, are you a card-holding homosexual?

Because I have a legitimate question for someone with a better grasp on how homosexuals classify or define homosexuality...and this is after I was (no kidding) in "the gay dorm" in college. It was in a themed college in Northern California - and the dorms were all themed too...and our dorm was the "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, Jewish" dorm.
So, how do homosexuals account for or classify people that have the urge to experiment and *like* it, but are "primarily straight"? There's no great way to ask this question - and believe me, I'm one of the most LGBTQIA-friendly folk, but I still don't know if all homosexuals are literally "born that way", but I'm curious to know what someone of that orientation feels. Also, and slightly related, Is there any talk about (or truth to) the idea of a kid's sexuality being "rewired" after some form of abuse? I don't know if that's still something people say, or if that was one of those things conservatives said to dismiss homosexuality as a "problem to be fixed."
Anyway Andy, I appreciate you answering any of that - and if it didn't make sense, I'm typing from my iPhone, so I literally don't know how to scroll up and re-read what I wrote without losing it.
The classification of people into identity groups based on their sexual orientations is a recent development in human history as a necessary step toward political organization for rights. It isn't, however, necessarily based on what's most useful for people to relate to themselves. The "lifestyle choice vs born this way" debate, then, is also based from that perspective.

What we know about human behavior in all areas is that it's far more complicated than that. It is useful in certain circumstances to help someone understand "I am not choosing to go to hell, I'm a normal healthy part of the human experience" as a way for them to come to terms with being themselves in a world that hates them. But I will point out that the problem is entirely external - if people would stop being haters, nobody would need to find a "justification" in genetic determinism.

But if someone were born one way, and then experienced a traumatic event (abuse or brain injury or whatever) and became a different way, how then would we come to the conclusion that there is even a problem to be fixed? Because its origins are something distasteful to us? That doesn't lead us to want to cure Spiderman. Of course not, Spiderman is cool, and even a traumatic origin story doesn't mean the end result isn't amazing. That's how it is with being queer. I'm baffled that people out there would suggest I waste countless hours trying to undo a part of myself that to me is a good thing.

Then we come to the heart of your question: what if we could chose? Granted, that's still looking at it too simply. There are no such things as "free choices", because every choice comes with a baggage of all sorts of good or bad consequences. We tend to focus on physical responses in our society: the physical response of being sexually attracted, sexually indifferent, or sexually repulsed by a particular body. But that's not the only aspect of human sexuality that is significant in defining our choices and experiences. Personality is another: you know those people you just love being around, who make any activity more fun than if you had done it alone. Why not sex? Why not experimentation?

Well, it could be awkward. And there lies the heart of the matter. Awkward because society has wired us to feel that way. And sometimes people hear social training as something that you can just "choose" to undo. And maybe you can, and maybe you can't. Again, that depends on the baggage of that choice's consequences. (Go ahead, try to "choose" to walk down the street stark naked in front of an elementary school building, see what sorts of psychological and social trauma you might manage to escape.) It's what is known philosophically as "compulsory heterosexuality" (this is where you have fun Googling, hint hint).

I'm pansexual. That means I don't experience attraction along the linear scale ranging from homosexual-bisexual-heterosexual. It's more like wibbly wobbly sexy wexy feelings all around. That means, I absolutely can have a choice in who I am attracted to and who I am not. Granted, my choice isn't always the final say in the matter, there are some things I'm genuinely repulsed by (independent of gender or genitalia). I might have difficulty getting it on with someone who is a real jerk, or who thinks they're a psychic vampire, or who is covered in weird pimples, for example. I am definitely into people who are smart and funny in a pleasant disarming way, and who care about me as a person. But damn, 7 billion people on the planet? Of course I'm making some choices.

tl;dr - You might be labeled "bicurious" or "heteroflexible". If that sort of thing even matters.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Can a Trans Person Turn You Gay? or What Is "Straight" Anyway?

Tina sez: The definition of a straight person is someone who has an strong aversion to having sex with someone of the same gender, however that person or their genitals look. While your birth gender may not hold any importance to you, you do not have the right to say if this is important to your partner. I would not wish to have sex with another woman, but also I would not wish to have sex with that same woman if she had a doctor put her on male hormones and construct her a penis etc, to me, she is still a woman. I sympathize with the trans persons plight, that they want to be other than the sex they were born, but I have to admit that to me, as to many straight people, that just isn’t possible. I know that this is not what you want to hear, and I’m sorry about that, but I am being honest here, and I hope you can appreciate that. Actually, what I think should not matter, and I hope you live your life however you wish, and more power to you. Wear whatever you like, as I do, do whatever you wish with your own body, as I do, live however you like, as I do, and stuff anyone else’s approval. But… While I do agree that each individuals gender is their own business, when you connect intimately with another, it becomes their business as well, and you should first make sure that they know enough to make an informed decision about if they want to have sex with a trans person or not. That is, if you want to be honest and upfront, and really, if you don’t want to do that, then it’s not going to end well for anyone.

Andy sez: The definition of a straight person is someone who has an strong aversion to having sex with someone of the same gender, however that person or their genitals look. While your birth gender may hold great importance to you, you do not have the right to say if this is important to your partner. I would not necessarily mind to have sex with someone who was concerned about my personal history, but also I would not wish to have sex with that same woman if she decided she knows more about my identity than myself, she is still a bigot. I sympathize with the confused cis person’s plight, that they want the world to be black-and-white, but I have to admit that to me, as to many people, that just isn’t possible. I know that this is not what you want to hear, and I’m sorry about that, but I am being honest here, and I hope you can appreciate that. Actually, what I think should not be the only thing that matters. Wear whatever you like, as I do, do whatever you wish with your own body, as I do, live however you like, as I do, and stuff anyone else’s approval. But… While I do agree that each individuals sex lives are their own business, when you connect intimately with another, it becomes their business as well, and you should first make sure that they know enough to make an informed decision about if they want to have sex with a bigot or not. That is, if you want to be honest and upfront, and really, if you don’t want to do that, then it’s not going to end well for anyone.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is "Cisgender" Anyway?

Reaction to Breaking down the Cisystem.

“I’ve begun to wonder if anyone is cisgendered in the sense that they really do identified with their assigned gender role?” I think it’s self-selection sometimes that I hang out with a bunch of people who don’t really feel that they identify with their assigned gender role to any strong degree. But while most people respond to me telling them I’m genderqueer with “well I don’t really ‘feel’ my gender, am I GQ too?” (to which I say “I don’t know, are you?”), some respond with “but why can’t you just be proud to be a woman?”

Of course there are more than 2 reactions, but those are the most common, and it’s made me see just how being cis must feel. For some, it’s being so very comfortable in one’s own gender that they don’t even need to be aware of it. I never came close to feeling that way until I started living more authentically. It’s like when you have an itchy tag on your shirt you can’t wait to get rid of, and then when you do you quickly forget it was ever there.

For others, expressing their gender is a form of self-celebration. Love yourself! Express yourself! They tend to feel like the reason I don’t want to express the gender they think I am is because I don’t have “pride” or I’m somehow damaged by society. Again, when I did settle into a more authentic gender expression, I suddenly felt that same sense of self-celebration.

So in my experience, cis people are people who are more likely to have felt those things their entire lives, not just post-transition (or post-adjustment, or whatever you want to call it).

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Q: Here's a hypothetical scenario. If you got into a relationship with a "women" and you had sex with this "women". A few months later you find out this "women" was not born a women. What would be your reaction?

A: OK, I'll hold back the laughter for long enough to (unfortunately) validate this question with a response:
Because anyone I'm in a relationship with and having sex with is HOT, so therefore any aspect of their past that contributed to their present state is also HOT.
Hell, I'll even add an extra T for emphasis on how HOTT the people are to me that I choose to be with.
Also, the "scare quotes" don't emphasize anything but your insecurity.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Genderqueer vs Transgender Struggles

Anonymous asked: So what are some of the differences in oppression that you personally have faced in being genderqueer vs. being transgender but having a binary identity. (sorry if the question is sort of confusing)

Well I haven’t experienced both personally, not ever having been binary trans, but here’s a bit of what I experience:

  • I pretty much will never get the option to go “stealth” as my gender, even if I wouldn’t wish to take it. Only men and women get to blend into this binary society as themselves.
  • According to the government, I don’t exist; instead they have a record of some woman living as me, and there’s literally no legal recourse for correcting my records.
  • People (cis and trans) use me as a “whipping boy” for their own unresolved gender issues. I’m happy to help people who are questioning their own identity, but I don’t appreciate others resolving their identities through challenging mine.

Further reading:  http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/release_materials/agendernotlistedhere.pdf  "By examining just a few of the key domains of the study, such as education, health care, employment, and police, it seems clear that gender variant respondents, including those who see their gender as hybrid, fluid, and/or rejecting of the male-female binary, are suffering significant impacts of anti-transgender bias and in some cases are at higher risk for discrimination and violence than their transgender counterparts in the study."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thoughts on "Die Cis Scum"

friendzoning-ninja: Maybe it’s a good thing they’re being exposed to different types of people, but there is one thing that really bothers me: people’s first exposure to the term/prefix “cis*” is going to be having it used as an insult. People are going to associate “cis*” with a negative meaning, not see it as the neutral term it should be. This is a problem, because people have been working a long time to have this recognized as the neutral counterpart to “trans*”. It’s extremely vexing to see people use the term as a joke.

That’s the problem with being a deliberately ignored minority: since we’re being ignored deliberately, we’ll be given attention deliberately as well. It’s no coincidence that everyone is paying attention to “die cis scum” who previously had no intention of spending 2 seconds thinking about trans issues. It’s not just that they passively don’t want to pay attention to us, it’s that they actively want to continue to not care about us. As the gatekeepers for public attention, they give us two options:

  1. We can beg and plead for compassion and mercy till our faces turn blue and still be ignored.
  2. We can become angry and have people focus on that anger to the exclusion of the message behind it.

This is not on us. Trans people are not to blame. Any efforts to pick apart each others’ strategy which ignore the harsh reality of those 2 options above is completely missing the point. We cannot “win” this game by attempting to play by the rules, because it’s rigged. We need to turn the criticism toward where it belongs, on the cis-supremacist agenda.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dear Girl who One Direction thinks is beautiful:

It's okay to behave in a manner you find comfortable.
It's okay to place your sense of self-worth in something other than your appearance.
It's okay to place your sense of self-worth in something other than what a boy thinks about your appearance.
You don't need to change your behavior to match a boy's expectations.
You don't need to be flattered when a boy writes a song all about how you should change your behavior to further please him.
You don't need to please anyone but yourself.
girl acting coy then flipping off man

Christians: It's okay to take credit.

When I talk about the bad things some Christians do, one will invariably say “oh, I’m not like those Christians, they’re doing bad things in the name of Christ and it makes me sad”. But as soon as a Christian does something good it turns into “all glory be to God!”
I’m not saying Christians suck, let’s throw rocks at them.
I’m saying that it’s okay that I notice you, a human, being good. I may even think you’re a swell human person. Keep up the good work. ♥

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Privilege of "Happy Cows"

The Ethicist Contest Winner: Give Thanks for Meat  For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.

Good news! You can eat meat as long as you place yourself in a very particularly privileged position above the rest of the planet and ignore how most people won't ever have accesses to the same resources and choices that you do!

What, there's no way that we can find enough land to produce enough of this sort of ethical meat to feed the entire planet, and even less of a way to make it affordable? Oh, well you should have thought of that before you chose to be born as someone less privileged as myself.

Give thanks to me, for I am to be praised for finding a way to wrap my privilege-denial in self-aggrandizement!
McGoats says "Do you realize the privileged position one must be in, in order to be vegan?"
Oh yes, no doubt of that. It wasn't at all what I was responding to, but I agree with you. Getting to eat ethically in any way is a privilege, be it "happy cows" [aka expensive cows] or no cows [aka food considered too "specialty" for regular grocery marts]. Like yesterday, my friend had pizza, and I could either eat what he offered or go hungry. And back to the guy whose privilege-denial I was criticizing, I couldn't just eat only happy cow meat even if I wanted to, since that stuff is damn expensive.

My concern is that if the people who control the food production process were to somehow manage to overhaul the entire system and produce only low-impact sustainable ethical food, we simply won't have enough to feed the entire planet that way if we insist upon a high-animal-protein diet. I can see a future in which some people do eat some meat, but it would be at a greatly reduced rate of consumption than what is typical (at least in the USA where I am). And those of us who are able to sustain ourselves without meat are welcome to continue to do so.

People who insist that a more ethical food supply must come from the bottom-up are speaking from a place of privilege. The people at the bottom of society cannot bear the brunt of the blame for the less ethical choices we make, because more ethical choices do often come at too great a cost, precisely because ethics itself is not built into the system.

Does that mean my decisions are magically more ethical because the most ethical option was not available to me? Nope, I still acted less ethically. All it means is that I'm not to blame for my less-ethical non-choice. The sooner I accept that there are better options being denied me and the more I demand more ethical options (at less cost) available to myself and others like me, the sooner (hopefully) we can overhaul the entire system to make ethical decisions less privileged. But even still, it's not our fault if our demands fall on hardened hearts (those of us who are willing and able to take the time and effort out of our busy lives to make such demands).

But seriously, assholes like that "let's all just eat happy cows, yay!" bro aren't doing anything but helping privileged people like him feel better about themselves.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Genderqueer Appropriation

 What isn’t appropriation:

  • Being a femme-presenting person with a female-designated body
  • Being a butch-presenting person with a male-designated body
  • Pretending to be cisgender (aka being in the closet) around certain people or in certain situations for personal safety

What is appropriation:

  • Adapting a genderqueer identity out of some sense that it will increase your social status
  • Refusing to stick up for the rights of genderqueer people in situations where it would not be unsafe to do so

I’m not the gender police, so I won’t run around issuing appropriation tickets. But I do ask everyone to please be respectful of the fact that sometimes cis privilege can cause us to overlook the ways we are capable of hurting others.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dear Straight People:

I get that you really care about marriage equality. But if the only reason you’re not getting married is because “The Gays” can’t, please, just get married.

If you don’t really need marriage, how are we supposed to make the case that we really need it? If your (lack of) marriage holds sway over the institution of marriage, how are we supposed to say that our (lack of) marriage doesn’t?

So yeah, don’t get married. Or do. Whatever. But don’t blame it on us.


The Nerd

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Transphobia Defined

Sometimes people use "transphobia" when they mean "bigotry toward trans people". But this post... this is pretty much the definition of transphobia, and honestly of paranoia in general.

Starting with the title: Are Boys Turning in to Girls Because of Man Made Chemicals? Wow. Total fearmongering here. Scary emasculation! Scary chemicals! Scary science!

Then the tagline: Cases of accelerated puberty in young girls and the "transgender" phenomenon) are occurring with increasing frequency.  Seriously? First, what's with the hovering parenthesis? Second, why is "transgender" in scare-quotes? Oh right, fearmongering. Cus it would be too much to admit that transgender people are real people living real experiences. Got it.

Then the image. It's so horrible I won't even post it here, but here's the URL if you dare: http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/2010/09/01/a1_1.jpg Basically, it's a heavy-set balding hairy person wearing a corset and holding a cigar. They went out of their way to think of the least "mainstream attractive" male body-type they could imagine, then added breasts and female undergarments to it. Presenting this as their representative sample image is transphobic and dehumanizing to boot. (And seriously, who even walks around in their undergarments anyway?)

What follows is a lot of science mixed with pseudoscience jargon mixed with more transphobia mixed with plenty of the naturalistic fallacy. But don't worry, they have a bulleted list:
  • Educate yourself,your family and friends about endocrine disruptors.
  • Use organic pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Do not give young children soft plastic teether or toys
  • Buy organic food Whenever possible
  • Do not store  fatty foods or water in plastic containers. Use glass article were ever possible.
  • It is better to use natural estrogen replacement for men who require hormone replacement therapy.
You can hear the silent "or your girls will turn into sluts and your boys will grow up to be skirt-wearing fags!!1!" at the end of each line.  Someone pass me a barf bag.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Defending Sexism at The Reason Rally (or, Who's Exempt from Skeptical Inquiry?)

Reasons for God (RfG) has issued a response to the Friendly Atheist's post which is a response to various complaints about various speakers at the Reason Rally. RfG says "Mehta’s argument is that the documented sexism of some of the biggest speakers [Richard Dawkins, Penn Jillette, Bill Maher] is just not a big deal! ... Therefore, it is still worth having them speak because 'we need big-name celebrities to attend.'"

I have heard the argument that big-name speakers deserve to push out other speakers.  To me, that reeks of appeals to authority, and it's also a pretty effective "shut up, that's why" tactic.  (RfG claims that the Westboro Baptist Church was also officially invited to attend.  Frankly, that point is moot, since there's no way they wouldn't have planned to attend in any case.)

At this point, RfG takes the time to point out that anyone can be sexist (true) and that atheists attempt not to be sexist, in general (also true). They seem to imply that sexism is caused by atheism and sexism is in spite of Christianity. Ha!

Anyway, on to the main show.

Point #1: Is it true that Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, and Richard Dawkins have all made blatantly sexist comments?

In shortyes.

Moving on...

Point #2: Are these comments representative of a broader problem with the atheist movement?

Yes, but this is where the answer isn't a simple Google search away. Let's zoom out past the atheist movement. Let's even bypass Christian culture. Let's zoom out to any level of society, really, even the entire world. What do you see? Gender inequality to varying degrees, with very few exceptions. That means we should apply that skepticism we so often apply to religion needs to be turned onto ourselves when someone makes the claim that we've somehow uniquely (seemingly from magic) achieved a community free from sexism.

Point #3: So what does it say about The Reason Rally that an organizer of the event is arguing that a higher standard—such as “no sexism”—should not disqualify speakers?

These "questions as points" are getting irritating.

Anyway, RfG writes what sounds like an excellent intro to this issue, but then places it at the end of their post with an air of finality, as though we can dust off our hands and walk away from this issue.  The reason is, they don't really care about the success of the atheist movement, they're just looking for their "CHECKMATE, ATHEISTS" moments.

Screw them, here's where we get down to the heart of the matter:

Actual Point: Nobody is exempt from having the skeptical toolkit applied to their issues.

Nobody. Even when we're trying to get a huge group of people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences together.  And you know what really says "lulz, I get an exemption, u mad bro?"
If we got rid of every speaker who held an irrational belief, there would be no one left on that stage.
So deal with it.
Oh okay!

No wait, no. I don't have to "deal" with it, I can talk about it and anyone else can talk about it and even RfG can talk about it, because it's there and it's not exempt. Maybe you're worn out.  Maybe you have listened to a thousand complaints and need to turn off your email so that you can get some work done before you address complaint number one-thousand one.  Everyone has their limits.  But atheists are as entitled to talk about atheism as atheist leaders are.

After all, this rally is about us. We're the ones the politicians need to represent and the media needs to understand.  We will not travel across the nation to be told that our experiences should once again be second-class status and that our voices should fall into the background.  We will not exempt anyone from skeptical inquiry.

So yes, the rally is going to bring a whole lot of differences together in ways previously unseen.  But it is our right to expect more from each other, from our leaders, and from our future.  We will not be silent.  We are atheism.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Breeding Atheists

Someone on the internet suggested that some atheists stay home from the Reason Rally in case “something” happened, that way there’d be plenty of us left to breed more.  Turns out, Poe’s Law, he didn’t mean it.

But people say that all the time and do mean it, and they’re simply wrong.  While home life and childhood culture can heavily influence a person’s religious choices, there is no atheist gene.  A lot of the atheists I know were raised in a religion.  Many Christians claim they used to be atheists (or at least were non-believing Christians or something).

Moral of the story: there is no obligation to breed when conversion (plus the overpopulation of the planet) is going strong.  It is actually offensive to suggest that women ought to be atheist-factories in a world where Christian and Muslim women are being forced to be religious-warrior-factories.  Cut it out.

Anonymous asked: While agreeing with the points made in "Breeding Atheists", I do have one gripe re the unstated assumption that atheist parents will, and *should*, necessarily have atheist children. No. Atheist parents should raise children that think critically. I have confidence that such children will turn out atheist, but there is no guarantee. An atheist parent should be more pround of a critically minded child that decided that Christianity makes more sense, than an unthinking atheist.

I don’t think that raising someone to be atheist is sustainable. I think raising someone to ask questions and to self-educate is preferable.  When I was a [christian] child, I was punished for asking the “wrong” questions or for reading the “wrong” things.  That didn’t stop me from doing it, though. I just got better at not getting caught.  By the time I became an adult, I had a pile of books I finally could get to read in peace, and I discovered to my dismay that the Harry Potter series were rather tame and that Dungeons and Dragons did not give me any ability or interest to cast magic spells.  Kinda like how studying the Bible after all those years didn’t give me any ability throw a mountain into the sea or heal the sick in the name of Jesus.  So yeah, nobody has to be raised atheist.  We just need to foster an environment for everybody that encourages asking questions and learning new things.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On trans women holding “residual male privilege”.

“Asking or expecting individual trans women or all trans women as a group to agree to participate in discrimination against themselves (or agree that what they experience as discrimination actually isn’t), is not a reasonable request, and one which can never in practice be satisfied.”

This is an issue shared by all gender minorities, and all minorities really. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked, as a uterus-bearer, to agree with some dude that women really hold all the power because women give birth. Or been expected as a white person to agree that affirmative action gives people of color an unfair advantage (as opposed to, you know, having been born with white skin). Or been told if I’d only “act straight” then I’d be deserving of rights.

So I look around me and I see that cis men rule the world (or men who are assumed to be cis, anyway). And then trans women (or even all trans people) are asked to agree that they really hold power over cis women, or that they want a special unfair advantage, or that they need to “act cis”.

This is complete BS. I refuse to appease privilege. I have a personal zero-tolerance policy for bigotry. I will never say “gee, you have a point, trans women do act mannish”, the very insult so commonly hurled at cis lesbians and cis feminists to silence them.

The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck (Trans Edition)

Listen to me read this here: http://youtu.be/kgIY0SsP1Xk

Inspired byhttp://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/08/terrible-bargain-we-have-regretfully.html 

Despite cries of "die cis scum", I am not a cis-hater.

If I played by cissupremicists' rules, specifically the one that dictates it only takes one trans person doing one Mean or Duplicitous or Disrespectful or Unlawful or otherwise Bad Thing to justify hatred of all trans people, I would have plenty of justification for hating cis people, if I were inclined to do that sort of thing.

Most of the degendering comments I have heard have been in supposedly safe spaces.  I frequent feminist and atheist communities, many of which claim to love queer and trans people as a reaction against conservative Christian hate of the same.  I have heard that my genderqueer identity is an invention to blind myself to the realities of the kyriarchy, that trans women are just men trying to blackmail lesbians into having sex with them if they don't want to be called bigots, that trans people are oppressing cis people with our denialism of biological realities.

But I don't hate cis people because I play by different rules. In fact, there are cissies in this world whom I love quite a lot.

There are also individual cis people in this world I would say I probably hate, or something close, people who I hold in unfathomable contempt, but it is not because they are cis.

No, I don't hate cis people.

It would, however, be fair to say that I don't easily trust them.

My mistrust is not, as one might expect, primarily a result of the constant arguments and occasional threats of violence as regards to my gender. It is, instead, born of the multitude of mundane betrayals that mark my every relationship with cis people—the casual cross-dressing joke, the use of the wrong pronoun, the dehumanization of the non-binary body, the accusations of overreaction, the requests that I be patient with them as they still "see me as a woman" so this is going to be very difficult for them.

There are the insidious assumptions guiding our interactions—the supposition that I will regard being exceptionalized as a compliment ("but you're really hot!"), and the presumption that I am, really, still eager to reinforce the way cis people have always thought about gender. "Surely, we're all in agreement that if I'm attracted to women, and I'm attracted to you, that means I get to relate to you as I do to other women." Always the subtle pressure to abandon my identity, as if I'll one day throw up my hands and laugh "you caught me, I was just doing it to feel different and special, when I'm really just female to the core!". I am exhorted to be patient and understanding, and if I hesitate, I'm just not being understanding, surely I can't expect cis people to understand. And so it goes.

There are the jokes about "my gender is now mongoose", about "traps", about "invented" pronouns, 
about "Ann Coulter is a man". They are told in my presence by members of supposedly safe spaces, just to get a rise out of me, as though I am meant to find funny a reminder of my second-class status. I am meant to ignore that this is specifically meant to put me into my place. I can laugh, and they can thus feel superior, or I can not laugh, and they can thus feel superior. Heads they win, tails I lose. I am used as a prop in an ongoing game of kyriarchal posturing, and then I am meant to believe it is true when some of the people who enjoy this sport, in which I am their pawn, tell me, "we're all on the same team, really."  I am meant to trust these words.
There are the occasions that people—intellectual people, clever people, engaged people—insist on playing devil's advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Gender Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged people want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged people, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. "Why do you have to take this stuff so personally?" ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged people, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that's so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

There is the perplexity at my fury that my life experience is considered more biased and less relevant than the opinionated pronouncements of cis people who make a pastime of informal observation, like gender is an exotic locale which provides magnificent fodder for the amateur ethnographer. And there is the haughty dismissal of my assertion that being on the outside looking in doesn't make one more objective; it merely provides a different perspective.

There are the persistent, tiresome pronouncements of similitude between cis and trans/genderqueer experiences, the belligerent insistence that they don't "feel gender" either! that trans identities reinforce gender stereotypes! that anything done by one gender can be done by another! that they don't even mind when someone uses the wrong pronoun! and other equivalencies that conveniently and stupidly ignore institutional inequities that mean X rarely equals Y. And there are the long-suffering groans that meet any attempt to contextualize gender and refute the idea that such cis experiences, though prevalent they all may be, are not necessarily equal to trans* experiences.

There are the stereotypes—oh, the abundant stereotypes!—about trans people, not me, of course, but others, those trans women with their relentless shopping habits and their disgusting vanity and their inability to stop talking and their disinterest in Important Things and their trying to trap men and their false rape accusations and their being bitches sluts whores cunts… And I am expected to nod in agreement, and I am nudged and admonished to agree. I am expected to say these things are not true of me, but are true of trans women (am I seceding from the union?); I am expected to put my stamp of token approval on the stereotypes. "Yes, it's true. Between you and me, it's all true." That's what is wanted from me. Abdication of my principles and pride, in service to a kyriarchal system that will only use my collusion to further subjugate me. This is a thing that is asked of me by people who purport to care for me.

There is the unwillingness to listen, a ferociously stubborn not getting it on so many things, so many important things. And the dispassionate refusal to believe, to internalize, that my outrage is not manufactured and my injure not make-believe—an inflexible rejection of the possibility that my pain is authentic, in favor of the consolatory belief that I am angry because I'm just being oversensitive.

And there is the denial about engaging in transmisogyny and binarism, even when it's evident, even when it's pointed out gently, softly, indulgently, carefully, with goodwill and the presumption that it was not intentional. There is the firm, fixed, unyielding denial—because it is better and easier to imply that I'm stupid or crazy, that I have imagined being insulted by someone about whom I care (just for the fun of it!), than it is to just admit a friggin' mistake. Rather I am implied to be a hysteric than to say, simply, I'm sorry.

Not every cis person does all of these things, or even most of them, and certainly not all the time. But it only takes one, randomly and occasionally to call me "she", like an unexpected punch in the nose, to send me staggering sideways, wondering what just happened.

Well. I certainly didn't see that coming…

These things, they are not the habits of deliberately, connivingly cruel people. They are, in fact, the habits of many of the people in this world I care for quite a lot.

All of whom have given me reason to mistrust them, to use my distrust as a self-protection mechanism, as an essential tool to get through every day, because I never know when I might next get knocked off-kilter with something that puts me in the position, once again, of choosing between my dignity and the serenity of our relationship.

Swallow being misgendered, or ruin the entire afternoon?

It can come out of nowhere, and usually does. Which leaves me mistrustful by both necessity and design. Not fearful; just resigned—and on my guard. More vulnerability than that allows for the possibility of wounds that do not heal. Wounds to our relationship, the sort of irreparable damage that leaves one unable to look in the eye someone that you loved once upon a time.

This, then, is the terrible bargain we have regretfully struck: cis people are allowed the easy comfort of their unexamined privilege, but my regard will always be shot through with a steely, anxious bolt of caution.

A shitty bargain all around, really. But there it is.

There are cis people who will read this post and think, huffily, dismissively, that a person of color could write a post very much like this one about white people, about me. That's absolutely right. So could a lesbian, a gay man, an asexual. So could a poor or disabled or intersex person (which hardly makes a comprehensive list). I'm okay with that. I don't feel hated. I feel mistrusted—and I understand it; I respect it. It means, for me, I must be vigilant, must make myself trustworthy. Every day.

I hope those cis people will hear me when I say, again, I do not hate you. I mistrust you. You can tell yourselves that's a problem with me, some inherent flaw, some evidence that I am fucked up and broken and weird; you can choose to believe that the genderqueer and trans people in your lives are nothing like me.

Or you can be vigilant, can make yourselves trustworthy. Every day.

Just in case they're more like me than you think.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Crime of Being Female in Public

To some, it doesn’t matter what you do: once you are charged with being a female* in public, you can’t win.  Take this article and the following comments about Angelina Jolie and two of her children going to the movies - let’s see how the kyriarchy responds to that seemingly innocent act:

  • Treating motherhood as a public spectacle.
  • Putting a young girl’s body up for public vote.
  • Expecting females at all ages to express the proper amount of femininity (while playing a shell game with that that actually looks like) and either:

  1.  Pitying one for not expressing enough femininity, or
  2. Shaming one for expressing too much femininity.

And the fact that people can find these things “cute” is a symptom of how sick society really is.

*This post seeks to analyze the way the public treats those who are presumed female girls, and makes no speculation as to the actual gender identity of these children

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why do so many feminists seem to be anti-sex?

A curious mind asks:
Hello again. I have been dealing with an issue that I believe is rooted in religious morality. The issue is of being sex-positive.
Within some feminist circles, I sense reluctance if not outright disapproval about women who are proud of and enjoy their sexuality. To be honest, it feels as that if a woman were to really enjoy her sexual nature and beauty then she’s a traitor to feminism.
I resent that to the extreme. I don’t want to point out that men get to fully enjoy that aspect about themselves without any apology. I understand objectification and commodification of women, truly I do; however, I’ve seen some ultra-feminists shy away from sex-positive females if not outright condemn them.
I know I’m new to this group so I’d like to get a sense of what you all think…

It’s a very complicated issue.  First, feminists enjoy sex at the same rate as the population at large.  There are lesbians, straights, bisexuals, asexuals, all types.  They even use birth control and sometimes even make jokes about how they must be sluts as a result.  The fact that women are shamed for liking sex where men are shamed for not liking sex (and apparently all other genders are invisible) is sexism.  Feminism is against harmful gender-based double standards like that.

However, just because someone likes doing something doesn’t mean it’s good for gender equality as a whole.  Take for example the issue of posting nude photos of yourself online as a political act.  In Egypt, that can be quite a revolutionary statement against the male ownership of women’s bodies.  In the USA, if you think you’re being revolutionary, you’re a joke - we have no shortage of nude women and we never will.  Context.*  I mean, knock yourself out, there’s no shame in being proud of your body, but don’t assign political meaning to an act where there is none.

Which leads me to another thing that many feminists are critical of: the idea of sexual “empowerment”.  I have observed that there is a tendency to equate “empowering women” with “getting women to feel like pandering to the male gaze is something women do for each other and not for men”.  Protip: it’s called the male gaze for a reason.  And the reason it’s so frustrating (infuriating, even) is that there’s a decided lack of balance in society to celebrate other women’s choices to dress in sloppy clothes or swear off makeup or to (gasp!) dress in butch styles as “empowering women”.  Apparently it’s only worth celebrating if the hetero man-penis approves.

I’m sex-positive.  But it is so disappointing how many sex-positive blogs I read that embrace the above biases.  They claim to be about embracing the whole sexual person, but then they only focus on stories that pander to the male gaze.  Queer bodies aren’t represented.  Asexual experiences aren’t represented.  Monogamous couples barely get any notice except for those who practice extreme forms of BDSM.  Again, this isn’t all of them.  (I’d like to take the opporunity to encourage everyone to visit sexstl.org as an example of a group I admire.)  But when feminists see people take the patriarchy, wrap it in a pretty ribbon, and then try to sell it as sex-positivity, we feel cheated by the continual wasted opportunities for real progress.

*Someone has correctly pointed out that, even within the USA, certain bodies can be revolutionary that are traditionally marginalized by our society.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


This word is getting quite a workout in recent times.  Between the Limbaughs who use it as a way to dehumanize and the Slutwalkers who use it as a way to rage against rape culture, the word “slut” is getting pulled in any and every direction with everyone trying to put it to use for their own personal agenda.

Some women are trying to grab a hold of the word “slut” and claim it as a badge of honor.  It’s unfair how there isn’t a word for “women who love sex” that isn’t a horrible insult, unlike how words for “men who love sex” are all compliments.  And from a certain perspective, women who love sex are the ones most entitled to use that word in any way they like.

The only problem is, conservadouchebags are the ones who continue to hold power in society.  They’re also the ones who continue to decide that words like “slut” and “whore” are insults, and they’re the ones who have the power to use those words to harm women.  Can women fight back and make “slut” an acceptable identity, much the way queers have with that word?

Perhaps.  But as long as the word continues to cause harm, everyone needs to take a good look at why they feel the need to use it.  ”Am I using this word for myself with pride?  Or am I using it against someone else without their consent?”  Until we succeed in our all-out takeover of society by flaming atheist liberal feminists (and why stop even then?), we can’t let our starry-eyed vision of a better tomorrow cloud our ability to see the realities of today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Creating a More Inclusive Humanism in an Ableist World

Warning: ableist slurs.

Humanists generally claim to support creating an inclusive space where people of every background can feel welcome. For example, a web search for “diversity in atheism” returns posts from Daylight AtheismAmerican Atheists, and Friendly Atheist, among others, all about how to open up atheism to a more diverse crowd. Women, blacks, parents, the poor – these people are traditionally left out of atheist conversations, and there’s a much-needed movement to include them. But one crucial area is still overlooked to an alarming degree: disability.
Unfortunately, the message many of us are sending out (even if unintentionally) is: if your mind or body is configured differently than mine, you’re not welcome here. Which is a shame, because I know many people with autism, hearing impairments, PTSD, reduced mobility, schizophrenia, etc, some of them as good friends and terrific contributors to the community.  Here are a few comments I’ve read recently in atheist spaces.  I’m not interested in mud-slinging, so I’m not linking to the sources, though Google probably renders my caution irrelevant:
  • “You are so literal as to be autistic. Are you really that stupid?”
  • “PETA is creating the next wave of young adults with scary personality disorders.”
  • “Cannibalism is the same as eating a hot dog?  I’ve heard better analogies from people with Down Syndrome.”
  • “Instead of writing a new generation of software to circumvent our filters, maybe they should recruit social misfits with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and write software that amplifies their efforts.”
  • “I realize that this man-child is a ward of the state. Too “young in the mind” to hold a job or live on his own without assistance. This simple minded man is alone. He is most definitely frustrated. And I feel like in a way, we are one.”
  • “[Insert countless remarks equating religion with mental disability/insanity.]“
We as humanists have the opportunity to show everyone that we can have superior ethics and morals without god or religion.  One way we can do this is to stick up for the dignity and rights of all people, regardless of race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, etc.  This includes people with disabilities, both physical and mental (which are really one and the same *glares at dualists*).  It is a basic humanist value that all people, including people with disabilities, deserve dignity and respect.  Not all people have the “standard model” brain, and a lot of those people are proud atheists and need the support of a freethinking community, so here are a few ways we can begin:
1. Recognize and discourage use of ableist slurs.  These include “retarded”, “lame”, “idiot”, “crip”, “insane”, etc.  Why?  Because these words still are being used as slurs against the disabled, and have not been “reclaimed” by the disabled, so they are not our words to use.  To use “idiot” [or any slur] as an insult is to say that this word can be used to degrade you, because being that identity is degrading. In the same way, a slew of all-too-familiar terms have been used to degrade people according to sexual orientation, gender and race.  And in case you’re wondering which words to use instead for biting criticisms, I like to go with “wrong”.  Or when I’m getting creative, “dangerously wrong” or “bogus” or “transparent” or any number of words which don’t equate an identity with an insult.
2. Understand that taking steps to include people with disabilities is good for everyone.  For example, if your local atheist group meets up in a room where the only entrance is up/down a flight of stairs, that is not accessible to everyone.  Anyone who has mobility impairments will have a very difficult time feeling included.  Meeting in a loud or crowded space can be difficult for those with hearing impairments or autism spectrum conditions.  Meeting at an expensive or out-of-the way location can also exclude people with disabilities on a limited income (as they are more likely to be unable to find and keep a high-paying job).  If we keep these things in mind, it improves meeting conditions for people without disabilities as well.  Realistically, we’re all going to experience a disability at some point in our lives, excepting the small chance of flat-out spontaneously dropping dead.
3. Be willing to stick your neck out for people with disabilities.  Trying to create change isn’t always easy or comfortable to everyone – if it were, people would already be doing it!  For example, I myself am not disabled and I don’t appear to be disabled.  This means I have the privilege to chose to ignore ableist actions in the world around me without being negatively affected by them.  But to me, humanism is about creating a better world for all of us, even if it involves more of a struggle to those of us with more resources.
Is this list complete?  By no means, but hopefully it is the beginning of a more open and honest look at the inner workings of our communities, both online and in meatspace.
Further reading: