Yes, I’m okay, and even better than that

Photo of a woman standing, with short purple hair, glasses, a purple shirt and maroon hoodie, a pendant of an inverted cross.
I don’t want to talk about or even think about Twitter (or as I call it, the Site of Damnation) any more than strictly necessary, so I’ll make this brief. I left the platform a couple weeks ago because the realtime nature of it was unhealthily addictive to me, was taking up extraordinary amounts of my time, and was incredibly stressful to the point of adversely affecting my health. At the height of it, I realized I had been unknowingly chewing sores into my lips and tongue while coping with days of targeted harassment. After leaving I almost immediately realized I didn’t even want to go back, and there was essentially no reason to do so — fundamentally, it is a second-by-second update of everything to get upset about in the world. Participating meant being incentivized to seek applause by constantly adding to the negativity and sharing more for people to become upset about. Of course it wasn’t healthy for me to be exposed to that environment; who would look at that and say “this is a daily experience I would love to have”? The platform is structurally poisonous. Continue reading “Yes, I’m okay, and even better than that”

Yes, I’m okay, and even better than that
{advertisement}

Guest post: I Don’t Understand Straight People

trinity-pixie-icon
Trinity Pixie is an advisory council member at Secular Woman.

I’m sure you all have seen those electoral maps that have been floating around. You know the ones. The “If only men voted” and “If only women voted” maps that show landslides. These ones:

electoral-maps

The thing about these maps? I’m not surprised. They reflect everything I’ve been taught about white cishet culture. Nor am I surprised about the #repealthe19th hashtag or whatever nonsense that’s evolved into. I mean really, should any of us be surprised by this?

I sometimes joke and say I knew I was a lesbian before I knew I was a woman, and this is something I’ve heard from a lot of trans people I’ve spoken to. And a large part of it is the same reasons I’m not surprised by those maps. I’ve never once identified with either half of a cishet couple in pop culture. They’re portrayed as inherently adversarial, as working against each other at least as often as with, as enemies who have managed to forge a peace treaty out of necessity rather than two people who actually want to be around each other. Hell, the only straight couple I’ve ever come close to identifying with is Gomez and Morticia Addams, and their whole schtick is being as weird and abnormal as possible. That’s what we write as horrifying and unnatural: a loving straight couple.

Terrifying
Terrifying

Contrast this with a lot of what you get from queer relationships in pop culture, which is usually subtext and fanfiction… And you get people who actually want to be around one another. People who have to work against those same cultural norms that force the cishet people together seemingly against their will half the time. That’s just always seemed more right to me, why would I ever date someone who worked against me any percent of the time?

And so I really have to ask this question of cishet white America: are you really surprised? You’ve built this culture, been taught this since you were young and started teaching it yourself. Men, are you surprised at how horrified the women around you are? Are you okay with that? With voting for someone who considers half the population disposable sex objects? I mean, the fact that they’re human beings makes it terrible enough but let’s go with that fox news caster logic that finally got some of them to admit this is horrific, the majority of you either plan to or are already going to spend the rest of your life with a woman, so why treat them like your enemies and not your partners? I don’t understand.

(If you’re going to #notallmen me you can fuck right off)

Guest post: I Don’t Understand Straight People

Guest post: Writing is Hard

trinity-pixie-icon
Trinity Pixie is an advisory council member at Secular Woman.

I haven’t written in a long time. Far too long. I always meant to start again but something inevitably would get in the way, usually my health. I’ve been hospitalized repeatedly, sometimes as frequently as three times in a month. I’ve dealt with pain and anxiety and depression. I’ve spent all my energy on trying to get better, but all that I’ve really accomplished is to hold off on getting too much worse.

I met Niki last year and very quickly felt close to her. As a couple of disabled women in activism we had a sort of connection that I very much appreciated. Going to Skepticon with her especially was a wonderful experience. We looked out for each other. Had a sort of sense of the little things that made big differences, the stuff that you just never can understand without having a chronic illness.

There’s one moment in particular that I keep replaying in my head. It was late on the drive back from Skepticon, after a huge weekend and probably ten hours at least in the car. We were at a rest stop for fuel and the bathroom. On the way out, she washed her hands, left her cane standing and took two steps to the hand dryer. I could see how excruciating for her it was, and recognized that look of regret when she knew it was two steps back to get her cane. I just whispered and asked her if she’d like me to move it next to her, and the nod and expression she gave spoke of such genuine relief.

Niki wrote. She wrote because it was important to her, because it made a difference to both her and the world around her, and she was amazing. And now I’m going to write, because it’s the most positive thing I can take away from this. I’m going to stop getting tripped up by hospital visits and several thousand page blog posts detailing my health care not being absolutely perfect. Writing is hard, but so is living with disability. She did both, and so will I.

Guest post: Writing is Hard

Gender Analysis: On the science of gender perception and misgendering

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 >>

Gender Analysis: On the science of gender perception and misgendering

Book review: Galileo’s Middle Finger, by Alice Dreger

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.

Book review: Galileo’s Middle Finger, by Alice Dreger

An interview at TransEthics: Public outreach, healthcare, and community dynamics

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.

An interview at TransEthics: Public outreach, healthcare, and community dynamics

Welcome to The Orbit, an atheist blog network for social justice

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”

Welcome to The Orbit, an atheist blog network for social justice

How Do You Know What it’s Like to Be…? (Gender Analysis 08)

new-av-orig-bright

(Support Gender Analysis on Patreon!)

Hi, welcome to Gender Analysis. As trans people, we’re often asked how we would know what it’s like to be our gender. Trans women are expected to explain how we know what it’s like to be a woman; trans men are asked how they know that they’re men. At first glance, this might seem like a simple enough question: what is it about our experiences that aligns with womanhood or manhood? But this line of inquiry, innocent as it may be, runs parallel to scrutiny and invalidation. And when you break this question down, it doesn’t really make any sense.  Continue reading “How Do You Know What it’s Like to Be…? (Gender Analysis 08)”

How Do You Know What it’s Like to Be…? (Gender Analysis 08)

Stop Calling Trans Women "Male" (Gender Analysis 07)

new-av-orig-bright

(Support Gender Analysis on Patreon!)

Hi, welcome to Gender Analysis. Calling trans women “male” is like the background noise of transphobia. It comes from many directions, and it’s pretty much constant. On one level, it’s a lazy invalidation of who and what we are, offered up by armchair biology fans who insist that trans women are always and forever “male”. On another, it’s unwittingly perpetuated rhetoric by people trying to provide 101-level explanations of what it means to be transgender while unaware that they may be causing even more confusion. And, of course, it’s overtly weaponized as a rallying cry of those looking to keep our genders from being recognized and protected under the law.

But this concept of physical sex as permanent and inescapable is actually incomplete, inaccurate, and irrelevant. Are trans women really “male” in any way that matters? I don’t think so. Continue reading “Stop Calling Trans Women "Male" (Gender Analysis 07)”

Stop Calling Trans Women "Male" (Gender Analysis 07)