I’ve just published an update and sequel to last year’s Gender Analysis episode “Trans Passing Tips for Cis People”, which explored how perception of gendered features can vary between individuals due to the influence of a number of documented factors. This episode examines further evidence for various biases in gender perception and attribution, and considers what this means for trans people in the context of widespread cis assumptions about “passing” and the intensifying debate on restrooms:
In everyday life, interactions between the expression and interpretation of gender are so diverse that whether someone “looks like a woman” isn’t always entirely predictable. This naïve model of gender perception treats gender as a property emitted from an individual, with all others as passive receivers who simply accept this expression at face value. Yet this is precisely backwards – expressions of gender are not objective and singular; they are subjective, interpretative, and multiple.
The same trans person, on the same day, with exactly the same appearance, can still have their gender read entirely differently depending on who’s looking at them. Why does this happen? At least in part, it’s because many of the variables involved here aren’t located within the one person being observed, but rather the multiple people observing them.
Keep reading at Gender Analysis >>
In the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of the nomination of “Galileo’s Middle Finger” for a Lambda Literary Foundation award, I’ve reviewed the book’s sections on J. Michael Bailey and autogynephilia (a proposed sexual etiology of gender dysphoria):
The central theme of Galileo’s Middle Finger is the importance of the scientific pursuit of truth to the wider social pursuit of justice – to Dreger, these aims go hand in hand, with factual accuracy as a necessity for effective advocacy. Her recounting of the disputes surrounding this sexual theory is just one of many vignettes intended to support these principles. Unfortunately, her uncritical acceptance of questionable science, and her dissemination of a misleading impression of trans women’s lives, cast doubt on the book’s value in advancing the very justice she prizes most.
You can read the rest at Gender Analysis (or as a PDF here), including factual inaccuracies in the stereotype-laden caricatures attached to this theory, issues with the half-dozen epicycle-like excuses that have been proposed to explain away data inconsistent with the theory, and a look at some of the surprisingly personal attacks that have been made in the course of promoting the concept of autogynephilia. Many readers have been asking me to cover Blanchard’s typology and autogynephilia for a while, and the book presented an excellent opportunity. At almost 7500 words, this is the longest article I’ve published, but it’s mostly due to how much was wrong here.
The details of the relevant scientific research are obscure enough that there’s very little chance the average cis reader would be sufficiently familiar with the literature to recognize the full extent of the flaws in “Galileo’s Middle Finger”. Sadly, this lack of awareness leads to puff pieces and glowing reviews from otherwise reputable outlets, praising her values of “solid data”, “empirical research”, and “true scholarship” without the slightest recognition of the book’s stark inadequacies in those areas. The vast majority of cis people simply have no reason not to take her words at face value, and it’s disturbing how easily one high-profile source’s slanted coverage of this topic can filter down to a believing media and influence the wider public. My review-slash-scientific-critique is intended to remedy this. The science, the trans people who are the subject of this research, and the cis people who are interested in learning more about this, deserve better than the narrow and incomplete portrayal offered by Dreger.
I’ve just finished a wonderful interview at Victoria Darling’s TransEthics blog, covering topics like public awareness of trans issues, support for trans youth, barriers to healthcare access, controversies within the community, and more. A quick preview:
TE: Is it your goal with the series to make trans people more relatable to the general public?
ZJ: This is a theme of the series, but more than that, it’s a theme of all of my work. I’ve found that this is often a matter of actions more than words. Simply existing publicly as an out trans person means creating opportunities for people to become familiar with us – when they see me, they know one more trans person than they did before. They know about my life, my history, my motivations and ambitions, my unique and defining features and interests.
This is what it means to humanize a group of people in the eyes of the larger public. It’s easy to make quick and uncharitable generalizations about who we are when you have a near vacuum of actual knowledge about us as real individuals. Unfamiliarity reduces us to an abstract concept for the wildest array of misconceptions and fears to be projected upon, rather than actual people who are a lot like you and are sharing a world with you. My series more narrowly serves to highlight specific issues facing trans people – aspects of our lives that can be quite challenging, but that cis people would otherwise have no reason to consider or be aware of in the usual course of their lives. These are experiences that I want to convey to cis people – I want more of them to have a deeper and more meaningful grasp of what this is like for us.
You can catch the rest of the interview at TransEthics.
Today we’re launching The Orbit
, a blog network of atheists advancing the values of intersectional feminism and social justice
, and offering diverse secular perspectives on some of the world’s most pressing issues. The network is home to more than 20 nonreligious commentators from many walks of life, all of them bringing their unique experiences, insights, and outlooks together to spark discourse and move conversations forward in secular and social justice communities alike.
For those of you who are new to this blog, I’m Zinnia Jones. I’m a professional writer and researcher, a radical feminist, a secular activist, a trans woman, and a mom, living in Florida with my partners Heather and Penny. As a former Christian, I’ve been vlogging on YouTube since 2008, addressing faith issues and political developments with a focus on LGBT topics. After transitioning in 2012, I’ve increasingly covered trans-related subjects with an emphasis on the experiences of trans people and the impact of structural prejudice on our lives. These themes have featured prominently in my web series, Gender Analysis. I’ve written at Freethought Blogs from 2012 to 2015, spoken at the Florida Secular Rally and SF Pride, participated in panels at Women in Secularism III, and made appearances on Al Jazeera America and CNN to discuss trans healthcare access in prisons. Continue reading “Welcome to The Orbit, an atheist blog network for social justice”
Hey friends! The latest transcripts and updates for the Gender Analysis series
, as well as past episodes, will appear exclusively at GenderAnalysis.net
from now on. Update your bookmarks if this interests you, and thanks for watching!
Hey, all! The survey I mentioned last month is now available for trans participants to share information about themselves (anonymously) to improve our understanding of how trans people live in the U.S.
I just finished taking it, would love for you to take it if you’re trans and want to do it also, and here’s a link:
I just wanted to signal boost the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey, which will be available on August 19th. The National Center for Transgender Equality was behind the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which had about 6,500 participants and provided statistical insights into life for transgender people in America, and they’re hoping for even more participants in the 2015 survey.
I’ve taken the pledge to participate in the survey, and I wanted to provide you all with the opportunity to contribute as well. Last I checked, about 9,000 people had taken the pledge.
I spent quite a while trying to find the offending Ophelia Benson post. I had assumed it was a post, anyway, as I’ve seen a number of bloggers go down that hole. My partner glares at the computer screen, purses her lips, and writes a few bitter tweets about cis people once again just not getting it. That’s the sort of thing she usually does when somebody we once implicitly respected decides they want to tackle the topic of transgender people as though nobody’s done it before.
Somebody asked a straightforward question about whether a trans person is their gender and suddenly the questioned no longer understands what “gender” is. Continue reading “Trans-ient amnesia”
Since I started taking testosterone, I’ve been significantly more sensitive to being misgendered. I work at a busy gas station, so I see a lot of people throughout the day and I get misgendered frequently.
One of the weird ways this has manifested is through people incorrectly guessing how to pronounce my name. My nametag says “Luxander”. (It used to say “Lux” but I didn’t want to keep answering the “what is that short for” question so I fixed it.) Most of the times people mispronounce it, they squint and ask if my name is “Luxandra.” Someone asked if it was “Luxandria” one time. Yesterday, someone asked if it was Lux-on-dra, with the long A.
Okay, so I recognize that there are people with dyslexia and other disorders that result in difficulty reading. However, this happens so often and (if you’ll pardon the phrase) so aggressively that I’m pretty sure it’s not just dyslexic people doing it. Continue reading “That's Not My Name”