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June 5, 2014

“Slacktivism” Plus Brick-And-Mortar Activism Equals Trans Civil Rights Aims

The Chicago Sun-Times published an op-ed by Kevin D. Williamson entitled Laverne Cox Is Not a Woman. The op-ed was Williamson’s response to the Time Magazine spread where Laverne Cox was featured on the cover of Time Magazine issue with the header The Transgender Tipping Point.

The Williamson op-ed was first published by the National Review, and was then picked up for crossposting by the Sun-Times. Included in the text of this op-ed were problematic paragraphs such as these:

Regardless of the question of whether he has had his genitals amputated, Cox is not a woman, but an effigy of a woman. Sex is a biological reality, and it is not subordinate to subjective impressions, no matter how intense those impressions are, how sincerely they are held, or how painful they make facing the biological facts of life. No hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change that.

Genital amputation and mutilation is the extreme expression of the phenomenon, but it is hardly outside the mainstream of contemporary medical practice. The trans self-conception, if the autobiographical literature is any guide, is partly a feeling that one should be living one’s life as a member of the opposite sex and partly a delusion that one is in fact a member of the opposite sex at some level of reality that transcends the biological facts in question. There are many possible therapeutic responses to that condition, but the offer to amputate healthy organs in the service of a delusional tendency is the moral equivalent of meeting a man who believes he is Jesus and inquiring as to whether his insurance plan covers crucifixion.

They took it down because of the public trans community social media activism by out trans community members, as well as public and behind the scenes activism by GLAAD — a broader LGBT community organization.

The Sun-Times took down the op-ed from their site today (June 3, 2014), and statement to GLAAD the Editorial Page Editor, Tom McNamee, apologized and explained why the article was removed:

We try to present a range of views on an issue, not only those views we may agree with, but also those we don’t agree with. A recent op-ed piece we ran online that was produced by another publication initially struck as provocative. Upon further consideration, we concluded the essay did not include some key facts and its overall tone was not consistent with what we seek to publish. The column failed to acknowledge that the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have deemed transgender-related care medically necessary for transgender people. It failed as well to acknowledge the real and undeniable pain and discrimination felt by transgender people, who suffer from notably higher rates of depression and suicide. We have taken the post down and we apologize for the oversight.

Williamson thought the Sun-Times was wrong. He wrote as much in his National Review rebuttal piece entitled Speaking of Men Who Have Had Their Testicles Removed. Besides going on again about how he still considers Laverne Cox and all trans women to be males, he concluded by questioning the Sun Times‘s editorial editor’s manhood:

Tom McNamee et al. are a disgrace to a proud newspaper tradition, and an unhappy reminder that post-operative transsexuals are not the only men who have had their characteristic equipment removed.

Trans community members (and their allies) engaged in controlling antitrans sentiments in a way that Bayard Rustin advised gay people to do in his 1986 essay From Montgomery to Stonewall that’s found in the collection of Bayard Rustin’s essays and speeches entitled Time On Two Crosses:

[T]he job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.

It took out trans community members to accomplish that. It takes paying attention to what gay civil rights icon told gay people to do in his 1978 speech That’s What America Is:

Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.

Image: Keyboard Activism

Williamson and the Sun-Times don’t have to love us to see that antitrans sentiments are being successfully confronted and dealt with by out-of-the-closet trans community members and their intra-LGBT community and extra-community allies. And even though internet/social media activism is often called slacktivism, when conjoined with brick-and-mortar world activism sometimes it plays a role in accomplishing trans civil rights aims — and controlling antitrans sentiments one of means for accomplishing that.

  • @Dharma
    It would appear you are correct, if Elizabeth’s second comment is anything to go by. Thankfully everyone else here seems to agree with me and makes similar comments.

  • Dee Omally

    With my keyboard set to lock up at at 500 words 😉 I will need to stay on topic and condense. I see the usual “you don’t speak for me” and “you don’t get to identify me” and sadly some below-the-belt adjectives that detract from and not add to constructive conversation. Once again, another man [insert name] [Kevin Williamson] steps out of a male-immersed reality—blessed to have all sex-gender cylinders firing in complete synergy—steps up to the microphone wearing an “expert” hat and broadcasts to the world the “facts and reality” about a world he has never experienced or resided in. Perhaps his next story can tell us all the facts about alien life on mars. This is not unlike trying to describe the totality of a military experience, one that can only be known from complete immersion, never from merely “knowing a soldier.”

    Beautiful ladies of all hues and colors may I refresh your memory about this: VJD—Vicarious Judgment Disorder. Kevin Williamson, a male by birth identity and life experience, knows about trans women vicariously, no doubt having read all the stories told, by non-trans persons of course, about “a day in the life of a transgender experience”. Clearly, Williamson is a man not low in fuel in his anti-trans tank, and displays the schizophrenic ability to be both academic, cruel, deceptive and a bully all at once. To quote an oft-used adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, and his transphobic work of fiction reeks so heavy with the odor of smoke that one wonders if the laptop is ablaze. This is a vile, awful man with unquenchable fires deep in his troubled soul, indeed his very portrait shows that it is so. Like an assassin who has located his target, he wastes no time in placing Laverne cox in his cross-hairs, and pulling the literary trigger.

    It must be duly noted, that any comments I posted at the National Review site (I didn’t know it was a rant-only site, never the source of credible journalism) were removed within seconds, by a moderator who was cut from the same transphobic cloth. Not expected, replies were at 5th grade level, engaging not in mature conversation but in outright bullying. I had just been slapped into reality that the National Review is an abode for those who hate, and sadistically lie in wait for those opposed to their murderous temperament to drop into the snake pit.

    Medicine and law, must come to full agreement, sign off on documents and unlike the DRAG (Dic*heads Reduced to Abusing Gender)—not because I say they are but because their recent behavior proves that they are—and birth sex is changed. Kevin Williamson, discarding proven fact with proven lies, but only after blessing them as “facts”, with this story shows us that he too suffers from unbridled oral flatulence. Today, we learned that “passing gas out the esophagass” is not fiction but true. For that, we are indebted to this man, real hate hiding behind a journalist name tag.

    As I read Williamson’s work of fiction, I began looking for cues & clues that determine if a story is fair and impartial, intent on discussion or rant, and boy did they come quickly, and a reader need not have waited to read the body of fiction, for the title itself was libelous: the lie that Laverne Cox is not female. When at the scene of a crime, it is often the details that paint a lucid picture, and so too do details serve to reveal much, including motive. Beginning with the tort of the false claim that Laverne Cox is male, the Sad Sack excuse for an author wasted no time in farting as the following quotes show:

    “…whom we are now expected to call Chelsea”, “…so-called SRS”, “…genital amputation and mutilation”, “delusion”, “…transcends biological facts”, “…amputate healthy organs”, “…delusional tendency”, “…a man who believes he is Jesus”, “mass delusion”, “…treat delusion as fact”, “…the elevation of unreality over reality”, and the incessant use of “he”, and the usual inference that transgender persons are but pitiful creatures worthy of the greatest pity as he stated “his story demands our sympathy”.

    His conclusion? “..neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts…not subject to…feelings”.

    This last sentenced in essence stamped his story of fiction as FACT, and revealed who the deluded person really was: the author Kevin Williamson. Writing about a medical area and treatment for gender dysphoria is the sole domain of medical professionals, and only those medical professionals who specialize in gender dysphoria. To relegate a medically diagnosed issue to the whimsical area of fickle feelings, that are never truly to be trusted is to utterly and completely disregard the reams of empirical study and evidence acquired for 60 years now, since Christine Jorgensen made her transsexual debut. Playing doctor is for children. Playing doctor is akin to practicing medicine without a license—–placing this vile man squarely within the definition of delusional. As I have learned over the years, most who call you “rude” do so in a very rude way. This story continues to offer a remedial lesson in that truth.

    • You have made false accusations also and have yet to own up to them. As the saying goes some people think their sh*t don’t stink.

    • Dee Omally

      Use of hyperbole, metaphors, and unsubstantiated peripheral ad hominems aside, this factually unsupported public confession of how one man truly feels about transitioned females…

      —not “transgender” since males employed in the aesthetic world of female illusion, entirely different but not inferior to a sex transition, also stake claim to this label—

      …and replete with opinion sold as fact, the author of this extremely repulsive literary attack on a medical process, now nearly-perfected after 60 years, relegates Laverne Cox and other transitioned females, not only as essentially poor lost souls deserving of “all pity”, but as souls so deluded that feelings birth a gender identity compass that at all costs must be adhered to. At the end of a journey, a male is still male, aesthetics aside—a male that fools no one but himself, Kevin would say, and from his very own saturation of crafted use of malevolent words, it would not be anywhere near an exaggeration to state that the inferred title is truly “Dude belongs in a nut house”.

      It requires no literary skills to immediately deduce this title as Kevin goes to work immediately, having sketched a picture in his own mind of Laverne that undoubtedly he would never protest should such picture be recommended as inclusion in the latest regurgitated book of “List of mental disorders”—in complete contrast to the now debunked notion that gender, a common human characteristic, is a mental disorder.

      Despite the medical fact that gender and sex are found in synergistic harmony, and very often not, and despite medical fact that the womb is hardly the abode of perfect embryonic development, not to mention the endocrine system and hormonal maladies—-despite these truths/facts, why bother with them when they will clearly impede a no-less real between-the-lines message of transitioned female exclusion, courtesy of a purveyor of alphanumeric dung? Fortunately, covert malice, even if cloaked in academia, has, just like dung, an innate ability to reek—and this story cannot be read in an enclosed area, no matter how one stands on the issue of a sex transition. Dung is dung, and odor is odor, no matter if it is cloaked in the feigned garb of an emphatic statement such as “A transitioned female is not a woman.” Now, where did I leave my Febreeze….

      • I guess my question is how would you respond if a trans-female made an unsubstantiated judgement and accused another transitioned female of “pretending?” Would such a person get a free pass? If so why?

  • Though the idea is anathema to many people the transsexual and intersex conditions almost certainly overlap each other to some degree. We know of over two-hundred ways to be intersex, and research is confirming a biological basis for many transsexuals as well. I know that my body is both and neither sex exactly but there is no official name for those of we who have had our body’s development modified by exogenous hormones in gestation…

    …But, unless one believes that one person’s issues have more “value” than others and suffering and compassion are zero-sum games, then except to doctors, it shouldn’t matter how we come to be ourselves. We are all valuable, we all have our difficulties, and we all need the to given and receive compassion…

    A dear cis female friend of mine once shared this when I was struggling with causes so I could feel that I was a legitimate person. She said there are blind people in the world. Some are born blind, some are blinded by accident, some blinds by others, and even some blind themselves. In the end, each one is blind, and what matters most is living with the condition the best way possible. I am a woman, and it really doesn’t matter how I became one, and my identity is not determined by another’s opinion however strongly felt or supported by their interpretation of facts.

  • “And even though internet/social media activism is often called slacktivism..”

    Methods should be thought of as tools for a purpose. Clearly on line outrage was the perfect tool for this job. This was a the right battle to fight at the right time. We really did good on this one.

  • As a married Christian woman, woman of transsexual experience, I live my life “simply open.” By this, I mean that in casual encounters, I am simply a tall, boyish woman; but when you get to know me, the fact that I am a transgender woman becomes apparent in natural, relaxed, unassuming, even winsome ways. I am a nice person, who happens to be trans, and I live life such that I am remembered as being a kind and good person and my trans-ness is relegated to the “so what?” bin…I suppose I am a “slacktivist?”

    Even so, I have learned the gentle art of gracefully “outing myself,” moving through my sphere of influence as a woman, and also a trans person.

    I write widely, but I think my best contribution to my community is the personal bridge I build with people of diverse experiences and worldviews; I am simply myself, and that is noticed, as ordinary as it seems. I am not hidden, will not be hidden; neither am I a trumpet…I simply am for all who care to see.

    Blessings & Joy!!

    • That works for me quite well. I’m a member of this community and the only trans person many of them ever see. What continues to surprise me is how willing average people are to just accept me as is. People are will to accept me as a woman in all the ways that matter even if I’m seen as different. It is a quiet approach that will not get you listed on the trans-100, but I’ve touched many lives. The mayor knows me by name and I’m always invited to business functions. I gave them a chance and in a way i guess they gave me one too.

  • elizabeth

    He got it right on one point. Laverne Cox is actually not a woman but someone that still has her penis which kind of disqualifies her as a woman. Other than that point the article is a joke but then I am sure you disagree with my assessment of Cox which also fits her gay-boy pal Carmen Carrera who may now claim transgender as an identity but was an openly gay man on RuPaul’s show. Funny how times change isn’t it, along with the politics of identity???

    • On your first point, a penis does not make a man. In your mind would an Inter Sex woman born with a penis be a man? Or what if a man lost his penis due to some calamity, is he no longer a man? I am guessing not. Also, a persons genitalia is none of your business, I have no idea if she still has her penis, and don’t care. Second point, of course we will disagree with you! The website is called The TransAdvocate! You little comment is of course not going to be agreed with nor will it act as a rallying call to turn all the readers of this page against the Trans community. Finally, many Trans Woman identify as Gay Men and perform Drag because it is socially more acceptable. Being Trans is tough, especially in American where Anti Trans rhetoric is still strong. Some don’t come out until they feel strong enough, and others decide after a failed suicide they may need to be true to have a hope of happiness. Its sentiments like yours that keep too many Trans people in the closet and push them to unhappy, potentially suicidal places.

      • elizabeth

        Oh Emily you are just so wrong. Trying to equate an intersex person with Laverne Cox is so wrong on so many fronts that I would explain it is a rather pathetic strawman attempt but I doubt you would recognize that. The losing a penis to a calamity is even worse as an analogy because in neither case were these two born with what you describe as gender dysphoria or gender identity problems. Just thought I would throw that out there.

        Yes it is actually important what genitals a person has based on the simple fact we humans kind of like sex. How can you act as a woman with a penis? Simple question with no relevant answer. Want to explain how a man and a woman with a penis have sex? want to explain to the poor trans kid why her still having a penis and trying to date straight men can get her killed as it has done over the decades? It is only not relevant to those that have no plans for sex and they are few and far between. Do you honestly believe a lesbian wants a lesbian with a penis? Just what planet are you from?

        Carmen Carerra was a gay man and identified as such despite KNOWING their was a trans community out there. How can you just slough that off as irrelevant? Carerra made a conscious decision to become “trans” because it was more beneficial to her career which I have no issue with but when you pose for a photoshoot where you display both your penis and without a penis you do kind of lose the credibility factor but then i would guess you consider that fine. I do not and consider it very insulting to those of us that struggled to rid our body’s of that disgusting piece of male anatomy. I am sure the gender bender community loved it though.

        Lord you have brought every silly transgender claim into your post. As someone who tried suicide 6 times as a child I can assure you it is the children and young adults that are suicide prone and not because they have a gender issue but because they realize they have a sex identity issue. In other words their sex does not match the gender they see themselves as.

        Your comment that “many trans men identify as gay men and perform drag” is beyond stupid but then you are rather stupid, aren’t you? That promotes the ideas of Bailey and his bullshit concepts but then you are as i said dumber than a fence post. Gay men do not decide to become trans anythingbut then money is a good reason.

        Last but not least I actually do something to help transsexuals which is something I rather doubt you do and because I contradict the many fallacies some in the transgender community proffer does not make me some evil doer and certainly does not imply I would harm ANYONE which I most certainly would never do.

        Disagreement is NOT hate but then you are too dense to understand that. I look at the world as someone that was born transsexual and cured. You look at the word as a transvestite that needs to “express” herself daily. That is your right but that does not give you and the “modern”tg community the right to usurp what we lived and we know to be the truth about being born transsexual but then I doubt you would understand that either.

      • Dharma

        Face it, Emily, Elizabeth is just another bully who thinks she gets to decide how everyone should identify rather than being respectful enough to people to let people self-identify.

        Bullies like Elizabeth seek to impose their will on people rather than letting people live their lives peacefully.

        Best not to argue with crazy bullies like her. They lack empathy with anyone but themselves, perhaps a vestige of her male privilege.

    • Sami

      “someone that still has her penis which kind of disqualifies her as a woman”

      I never understood this line of thinking. One’s genitals are utterly irrelevant to their gender. Getting a surgeon to rearrange your genitals into a new shape doesn’t magically make you more of a woman than those of us who don’t want it or can’t afford it.

      You want a vagina? Go ahead an get one. I fully support you. Just don’t delude yourself into believing that makes you any more of a woman than the rest of us.

      • Dee Omally

        You couldn’t possibly be more wrong Sami. Did you miss the memo? Intersex people, having both a penis and vagina are not human because well, they have a little “extra”, kinda like pre-op trans women. Because of course humans can only have one or the other right?