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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Privilege Protects You

Posted by on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Golf image from

Last week, Grantland writer Caleb Hannan outed Essay Anne “Dr. V” Vanderbilt, the transgender subject of his story, in the course of reporting about the golf club she invented. Dr. V committed suicide in October—while Hannan was working on the piece about her that she was begging him not to write—and people have been asking how a story as dangerous, disrespectful, and callous as this was published by Grantland at all. Bill Simmons, Grantland’s editor-in-chief, posted an apology letter five days later. ESPN writer Christina Kahrle, a transgender woman, wrote about what Grantland got wrong. But what about privilege?

One of the premises of the piece seems to be that Hannan is “normal” and other people, like Dr. V, are not, and that’s where the glimmer of privilege slips in. This story is as much about Hannan’s ignorance as Dr. V’s duplicity—her being transgender was so foreign and unbelievable to him that it consumed the narrative. Choosing to conceal your gender identity is not duplicitous, but the story he was uncovering about her shady business background totally was, and, as a person with evidently no training around or interest in gender identity issues, he conflated the two to a disastrous degree. Hannan already portrayed Dr. V as other by using language “mad scientist” to describe her and questioning what he classified as the strangeness of her deep voice; he sort of showed his hand when he said that a “chill ran up his spine” when he realized Dr. V was transgender. Grantland editor Simmons also uses Dr. V’s “quirkiness” as a defense of Hannan, like we’re all supposed to understand that she was essentially different. And then Hannan went so far as to refer to his story as a eulogy, which is laughably untrue. (Look up "eulogy.") Hannan's privilege is on overdrive in this story—he’s the focal point, his feelings are what matter most, words mean whatever he wants them to, and ignorance trumps his willingness to protect his subject.

In Simmons’ letter, he admits that there were a few points where the story almost wasn’t published—after the first draft was submitted, when it ended abruptly because Dr. V stopped talking to Hannan, and then again after Dr. V committed suicide—and that the story really took shape when Hannan was pushed by editors to keep reporting on the discrepancies in Dr. V’s background, most of which seemed to be intentionally obscured to protect her status as a transgender woman who did not want to reveal that information to the golf community she worked in, and certainly not to the world. Even though Dr. V and Hannan had an agreement to focus on the science and not the scientist, Hannan proceeded with what seemed like the nugget of the story to him, in apparent violation of their agreement, incorrectly tying her transgender identity together with deceit. It wasn’t just part of the story—Hannan’s seeming discomfort with and astonishment at someone being transgender was the story.

Hannan is reportedly no stranger to lazy reporting and ignorance, but what really strikes me here is how his privilege as a straight white male in a world largely dominated by straight white males (golf) contributed largely to his inability to find out more about a subject he clearly knew nothing about, and that it passed through 13 to 15 editors without anyone stopping to ask if they needed to give this a closer look. Simmons’ letter asks us to blame him instead of Hannan, telling us that it’s a mistake to focus our criticism on the writer instead of Grantland. We should blame Grantland, not Hannan, Simmons says. Can’t we do both? And shouldn’t we? Hannan is guilty of ignorance, but his Twitter activity proves that it’s a willful ignorance, that he really doesn’t understand the scope of what he’s done, that he evidently doesn't feel he has any responsibility to amend what he's done as he jokes around about death threats:


And actively blocks anyone who challenges or questions him:


And then, for at least one day, announces he's not blocking people:


Let’s not ignore the privilege of Bill Simmons, either. In his apology, he acknowledges that he hasn’t had enough training in transgender issues and that he read this story a certain way because of his own experiences in life, and seeing that admission is great. But he quickly goes on to say that he found the behavior of people tormenting Hannan to be sobering and unconscionable, words he never used to describe the laziness and irresponsibility of his own writer. Of course Simmons wants the attention on himself. Protected by parent company ESPN and identifying himself as someone in a position of power within that company ("It's my site"), he seems to operate with the privilege of belonging to a corporation, a HUGE corporation that can take the hit of this one little story about a transgender woman that they fucked up majorly. They can take the hit because they dominate so thoroughly (and financially) in other ways. This deflection not only removes the responsibility from Hannan, but also, in part, from Simmons, who really has nothing to lose.

And let’s not forget that Hannan has yet to apologize. It doesn’t make me feel good to see that Grantland seems to operate on a case-by-case basis when it comes to educating themselves about issues of diversity, and I can’t comfortably explain it away with “Oh well, they’re trying.” Simmons fell on the sword pretty hard, but in such a way as to simultaneously admit his part in this and effectively shut down any more critics, instead of creating a space for discussion or hearing more from the community of people he hurt. And that’s a pretty typical response from straight white dudes in positions of great power—I did this one thing, isn’t that enough? What more do you want from me?

I reached out to Hannan for his thoughts, but he didn’t get back to me. Lots of people came to Hannan’s defense, some even referring to his detractors as a mob. For his part, Hannan seems to be treating this lightly at best, and, judging by his Twitter feed, he's thankful for any positive feedback while ignoring the negative. And I think that’s what bothers me most of all—that his ignorance won’t damage him, that he can keep operating in a world that validates it.


Comments (102) RSS

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If you really understood the background and the story you'd realize the responsibility was all in the hands of the transgender person who decided on her own to take her life.

It is a fascinating story you can pick over and make assumptions about, issuing the usual, safe politically correct criticisms about that are sure to be well-received in The Stranger.

But your own sterile, eggheaded writing deceives you - those who can do, those who can't, criticize - opiners who, rather than reporting or researching on their own, lazily ride in and shoot the wounded.

He was betrayed by his editor who should have simply said "We stand by our story," as a real editor would have.
Posted by JPierce on January 22, 2014 at 7:23 PM · Report this
"Choosing to conceal your gender identity is not duplicitous"

Political correctness always trumps truth. Any good reporter knows that.
Posted by There's a Deja Vu ass staring at me on January 22, 2014 at 7:24 PM · Report this
yelahneb 3
Excellent reporting - thank you for this. We've even got some representatives of that priveledged group you were discussing: welcome, @1 and @2! Slog just wouldn't be the same without the drunken gibberings of folk like yourselves. I love you. You complete me
Posted by yelahneb on January 22, 2014 at 7:34 PM · Report this
Thoughtful & thought-provoking piece, Danielle. I'm so glad to have you here writing for Slog.
Posted by Luckier on January 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM · Report this
Lady did deceive him. Sure, he made too much out of her gender - but she also said she built the stealth bomber and went to MIT. Just because you are a minority does not mean you get to not get called on your total bullshit. And when you start a company and claim to be working miracles, in addition to aforementioned bullshit... it just might be a journalist on a national website, who does the calling.
Her gender was a sideline in what was a story about the fantasy she built and sold to a dedicated group of followers - and tried to sell to a whole industry, white and fuddy-duddy as that industry may be.
Posted by albert333 on January 22, 2014 at 8:13 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 6
@1: "If you really understood the background and the story you'd realize the responsibility was all in the hands of the transgender person who decided on her own to take her life. "

Forcibly outing transpersons and gays involves some amount of responsibility for emotional turmoil, yes.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 22, 2014 at 8:13 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 7
@5: That industry is based around pseudoscience and frauds, this isn't medicine or engineering. It's selling a product based on shitty methodology and marketing hype.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 22, 2014 at 8:18 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 8
Thanks for this, and your range of interests and perspective will serve The Slog well. Grantland is owned by ESPN, but it is generally a good deal more cerebral than the reporting you'll see on the parent company site. And in the sporting news universe, Bill Simmons is a good deal more interesting (and well read) than the fucksticks that populate that space. Not an excuse though.

As a golfer who, with a few close proletarian friends who love the game but hate most of the players, there is nothing that surprises me about what they say or do. On the course and on the courts (tennis) there is no better place to see privilege on display.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on January 22, 2014 at 8:26 PM · Report this
"Hannan’s seeming discomfort with and astonishment at someone being transgender was the story."

Yeah, that's spot on. He's written a Hardy Boys story about uncovering a transwoman.

This one was pretty telling: "Maybe the most surprising thing about my conversation with Kinney was how calmly he took the news that the woman he thought was an aerospace engineer had once been a man, and a mechanic."

The Hardy Boys over at Grantland know better than to take that one lightly.
Posted by tacky on January 22, 2014 at 8:27 PM · Report this
@7: and this guy wrote a story about someone who happened to be a pseudoscience-hucking fraud.
That person happened to be transgender, too. And he wrote about her, and that part of her story, in a way that definitely came close to luridness in its focus on her gender transition. I for one am of the camp that he could have refocused the story, since it was her lies, not her gender, that gave the story its news value. Instead, he handled it like a bit of a bumbling bro. But welcome out of the closet, transexual people, it's the real world, where people don't always get everything exactly right. He did his best, the editor apologized for any mistakes that had been made - what do you want, a propriety review board?
Posted by albert333 on January 22, 2014 at 8:28 PM · Report this
fletc3her 11
There's a rag I will actively avoid.
Posted by fletc3her on January 22, 2014 at 8:31 PM · Report this
I really appreciate your take, and I think Simmons copped in his letter to the same fault - blinded by privilege.

I do think you are paying short shrift to the business and resume outright falsifications. For a journalist - that should be fair game.
Posted by DawginExile on January 22, 2014 at 8:37 PM · Report this
Transgender people often don't come out because when we do, we are subject to harassment, emotional and physical violence, and murder. Outing someone without their consent is an act of violence.

This isn't about "political correctness." It's about the everyday transphobia that cisgender folks usually participate in and ignore without facing any real consequences.
Posted by paula_7 on January 22, 2014 at 8:45 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 14
@10: What do I want? This to not happen in the same manner again. I'm just saying that the rest is not "shocking".
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 22, 2014 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Thanks for this. I read the Hannan piece, Simmons' apology - and to be fair, it did strike me as a genuine apology, which is rare in this media world - and Christina Kharl's trenchant critique all at once yesterday. I hadn't thought of it in the perspective of the sort of unthinking privilege you describe.

BTW, it's "Kahrl," not "Kahrle."
Posted by jimp31 on January 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM · Report this
Nothing makes me glaze over like the word "privilege" in the new hipster social activist context. You can just stick it wherever you don't actually need to have a problem with something.
Posted by The CHZA on January 22, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this
@10: We want people to talk about this and realize that it's a problem so that the issue doesn't come up again because people LIKE Simmons and Hannan realize their privilege early in the process, and reevaluate then, so that if we get a piece, it's one like what should've been written, where the astounding facet is all the lies, not a single lie which is used to sort of explain all the others.

Also, for people like Hannan not to out people to a colleague just for a reaction.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 22, 2014 at 9:27 PM · Report this
> Last week, Grantland writer Caleb Hannan outed Essay Anne “Dr. V” Vanderbilt, the transgender subject of his story, in the course of reporting about the golf club she invented.

I can't parse this sentence. Is the word "Essay" in there by accident?

@16 where have you seen it used thus? When I've seen privilege discussed it's always been in a context of, you know. privilege. It's a thing. It's got a name. We use the name to discuss the thing. What else are we supposed to use?
Posted by lilzilla on January 22, 2014 at 9:46 PM · Report this
I could care less about the gender issues, but presenting yourself as having certain academic degrees to a bunch of investors and media always strikes me as pretty wrong. I think Hannan could have done more research into if this putter really is scientifically better (saying the magic in his stroke disappeared after he discovered lies isn't exactly scientific) and not simply used "oh, and she was transgender" as a support for the misrepresentation.
Posted by ChefJoe on January 22, 2014 at 9:51 PM · Report this
@18: Essay Anne Vanderbilt was the name of Dr. V.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 22, 2014 at 10:46 PM · Report this
raku 21
Great article, thanks Danielle.
Posted by raku on January 22, 2014 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Seattle_1_scientist 22
I don't understand why you put "normal" in quotes. Are you redefining the word? Transgender people are not "normal" if by that you mean how most people are. That's the whole reason we're having this conversation.
Posted by Seattle_1_scientist http:// on January 22, 2014 at 10:59 PM · Report this
"her being transgender was so foreign and unbelievable to him that it consumed the narrative."

This is obviously a matter of opinion so there's no way to directly refute but I don't agree with the characterization. A solid 60-70% of the article goes by before any mention is made of Essay Vanderbilt's previous identity - her gender transition is not teased in the title, the runner or anything in the introduction. Your reading of what "consumed the narrative" is certainly painted by your opinions and experiences and for that reason, that article which read to me initially to be about sports, business, a desire for prestige and the tragic story of a very damaged individual was which only tangentially had to do with that individuals gender identity.

In following the reaction to what I thought was one of the most incredible stories I'd ever read I've gotten a real crash course in the horrific difficulties that come with being transgendered - and how frequently those who are trans face a cold, lonely and insensitive world. I learned that trans people are often encouraged to conceal that part of who they are.

You wrote "Choosing to conceal your gender identity is not duplicitous" and I think that misses the point. Whether it is or it isn't gender concealment is one of the great tragedies and isolating realities of being a trans person in the world today. That's an important takeaway and something that even as an active ally of LGBT community I never really though deeply about. I know many open homosexuals - I'm not sure I've ever met a trans individual let alone had a conversation with one.

My point is this though - MY reading of the article was that it was duplicity above all and whether concealing one's gender is ipso facto, wrong or a sign of duplicity - Essay Anne Vanderbilt was a duplicitous person. Her trans status was the mechanism through which she hid all manner of other lies that had nothing to do with her gender. While the insensitive phrasing of "a chill went through my spine" reads as ignorant it isn't a surprising reaction to discovering that someone's entire life is a lie and they are guilty of multiple felonies.

Your statement that "Dr. V committed suicide in October—while Hannan was working on the piece about her that she was begging him not to write" comes off to me as willfully misrepresentative of the situation, cherry picking details from the story to make it seem like Hannan - like a sadistic monster - lustily divulged the life details of an innocent. He did not. Hannan should not have told the Yar investor that Vanderbilt was born a man, Hannan should have chosen his phrasing my carefully but in no way is it fair to make the argument that writing the piece was not fair journalistic fodder. It was. Essay Anne Vanderbilt's gender identity became relevant to the story the second she used her change in identity as a cloak to hide lies about her professional history and education - lies from which she profited. Lies which allowed her to commit fraud.

There are two streams at work here - one which has to do with the protection and dignity that all individuals need and deserve - protection and dignity that have long been denied to transgendered people. The other though, deals with the willful, longstanding deceit of a particular transgendered person - for whom change in identity, her change in gender and her fraudulent deceit are inextricably linked.
Posted by rynebrandon on January 22, 2014 at 11:21 PM · Report this
Seattle_1_scientist 24
+1 for #23. This is a pretty uniquely screwed up situation.
Posted by Seattle_1_scientist http:// on January 22, 2014 at 11:57 PM · Report this
Might as well lock this up after the ether #23 just dropped.
Posted by Chali2Na on January 23, 2014 at 1:20 AM · Report this
#23 yes.
Posted by sea-adam on January 23, 2014 at 1:46 AM · Report this
I heart #23.

#14 and especially #17 - thank you, well explained. I think I get it a little more.
Posted by albert333 on January 23, 2014 at 4:20 AM · Report this
Fnarf 28
To me, golf is infinitely more peculiar than transgender people.
Posted by Fnarf on January 23, 2014 at 4:28 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 29
I didn't read a story about a putter and a trans person. I read a story about a pathological liar and con artist. In light of all the other details about the life of Dr. V, I saw the "trans" part of the story as just another facet of the fraud, salacious though it may be. Why the LGBT community wants to associate with someone incapable of telling the truth is peculiar.

When a lengthy con like this is exposed, it is natural for the victims to want revenge. That may be why Gerri Jordan, the biggest mark of Dr. V's fraud, is talking about lawsuits. It's doubtful she ever knew about Steve Krol until she read Hannan's story, and is now hurt & humiliated.

This wasn't a transgendered person taking their life out of fear of being outed. This was a life-long fraudster finally running out of lies to tell and characters to play. Suicide is not rare in those situations.

Posted by Sir Vic on January 23, 2014 at 6:11 AM · Report this
He certainly could have done it better, but not sure how he could have exposed her fraud without mentioning it. Discovering her birth name was a key part of figuring out she was lying about her life.

Posted by giffy on January 23, 2014 at 6:45 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 31
@28 Fnarf, I'm surprised you didn't point out the obvious parallels to Liz Carmichael and the Dale Car.…
Posted by Sir Vic on January 23, 2014 at 6:51 AM · Report this
@23 You should have written this blog post. Seems like you're the only person here who actually read the original article in its entirety.
Posted by Dude looks like a lady on January 23, 2014 at 6:56 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 33
@18: Concepts that don't cause them to re-think their interactions with society. Pretty much any thought at all is enough to cause their lip to curl into a sneer.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 23, 2014 at 7:41 AM · Report this

Posted by Just saying' Bro' on January 23, 2014 at 8:01 AM · Report this
It's not so much the concept or the word; the powerful reaction to powerful concepts has more to do with the person "causing them to re-think."

Few things suck more than getting lectured by "an advocate" for not being as righteous in their cause as they are. Powerful, status-questioning concepts are easily ignored when championed too strongly by people who seem to be more interested in appearing "better" than their peers.

It all feels so similar to the times in college when the rich, powerful East Coast children of the upper classes lectured us poor, less-white, Southern tuition kids on racism and class-ism.

Yes, rich whitey advocate: I agree with almost everything you're saying. You may want to look around at the world a little more before you bring that sneer of superiority into the conversation.
Posted by six shooter on January 23, 2014 at 8:03 AM · Report this
What pathetic drivel. Sorry, but whatever you think about their rights, transsexuals are not normal, if the word normal has any meaning left in it. I know, Slog's version of "cogito ergo sum" is, "but it might hurt someone's feelings, therefore it's not true," but Slog is only one demented part of the wider, real world.
Posted by Billy Chav on January 23, 2014 at 9:13 AM · Report this
It's so facile to throw around the word "privilege." It makes it easy to oversimplify a complex situation. @23 nailed it.
Posted by bigyaz on January 23, 2014 at 9:29 AM · Report this
" straight white male in a world largely dominated by straight white males"

Why does it matter that Hannan is white? Seriously, what does that have to do with anything? Essay Anne Vanderbilt was also white.
Posted by Mike R. on January 23, 2014 at 9:31 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 39
@36: "whatever you think about their rights, transsexuals are not normal, if the word normal has any meaning left in it."

They most certainly are throughout the scope of human history, and your word "normal" is derived from your SPECIFIC set of subjective values and mores.

Not like you have much grasp on history, but what doesn't fit into your worldview is not the whole of objective reality.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 23, 2014 at 9:41 AM · Report this
In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like the Stranger should mention that Hannan was formerly the editor at Seattle Weekly.
Posted by Joel_are on January 23, 2014 at 9:50 AM · Report this
icouldliveinhope 41
@40: Yes, he was! And he was an asshat then, too.
Posted by icouldliveinhope on January 23, 2014 at 9:55 AM · Report this
Did we really need another think piece on the subject? Wouldn't it have been easier to just link to the literally dozens of others that have already been written? And if you insist on doing your own, did it have to read like a sophomore gender studies essay?
Posted by nomorethinkpieces on January 23, 2014 at 10:41 AM · Report this
JF 43
Just 'cause we're privileged, doesn't mean we're wrong.
Posted by JF on January 23, 2014 at 10:58 AM · Report this
I'm becoming more and more perturbed by the notion that I believe is reinforced in this article that a, "space for discussion or hearing more from the community of people he hurt". (Transgendered people presumably)is necesarry but the continued insistence that this conversation can not truly be participated in by people who are not members of this community. On one hand you state that a dialogue is needed, on the other you stated that our (straight white male here) inability to understand your concerns (blinded by privilege) precludes us from commenting on your issues or in your spaces, whether those issues will have an effect on society as a whole or not. It seems to me that the truth of the matter is that many young and frustrated people claim to want to have an actual discussion, which implies all opinions hold merit and should be evaluated equally, but what they're really thinking on some subconscious level is they feel their opinion has gone unheard for so long and so completely that they want only their opinions to be heard now, and for their detractors to be as thoroughly muted as they have been in previous generations. That's just not going to work for the rest of us.

No matter how righteous or well deserved you feel your indignation is, indignation is ALWAYS childish, and will ONLY ever limit compromise or honest dialogue.

I do not use my beliefs or feelings to justify hatred. i do not judge any individual as I do not believe I am empowered to be their judge. I do however feel that transgenderism is a mental defect and that physical biology should supersede "Identified Sex". I do believe plastic surgery to alter your sex is abnormal. I understand that these beliefs are not politically correct, but that does not make them hateful beliefs. I am an individual no better or worse then you, and my right to private conscience is more important then your right to not feel offended at my beliefs, just as I can have no similar reservations regarding what you believe.

If there is ever to be a conversation regarding transgender issues that results in true compassion inspired change, it must be done under the maxim of mutual respect regardless of private belief, or it will fail spectacularly.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 23, 2014 at 11:26 AM · Report this
Fucking hypocrites! The Stranger has been all over Mark Driscoll (yes, I know he's a douche) for being a liar. Yet when some tranny severely lies, the only focus is on the sap who outed her/he. And of course all the blame conveniently goes on Hannan right? Because it was Hannan that took the gun and forced her to kill her/hisself right?

Look the Vanderbilt was a liar. Not white lies, these lies were gigantic stinking piles of poo the size of the Kingdome lies. But the Stranger will pick which liar they deify by their sexual preference and religion. Fucking hypocrites!

Also, the author of the article penned this sentence

" One of the premises of the piece seems to be that Hannan is “normal” and other people, like Dr. V, are not"

The key word in that sentence is 'seems'. That is not reporting, that is opinion therefore making this piece OP/Ed which of course supports the poor lying Tranny that killed itself.

Fucking hypocrites.
Posted by heroaintnothinbutasandwich on January 23, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
@44 Whether or not your views are "hateful" per se, you are describing a population that desires legitimation for their gender identity as more than dress-up, abnormality, mental defect or sexual fetish.

I agree, your views are not politically correct and are expressed in a moderate fashion but you are shutting down dialogue as much as or more than the author. If you proceed from a position assuming being trans is a problem then that's the end of the discussion. Any engagement with a trans individual is tantamount to indulging their abnormality.

Respectfully, I think your sentiment is as damaging to dialogue as the author's gatekeeping with regard to "privilege"
Posted by rynebrandon on January 23, 2014 at 11:40 AM · Report this
I read the story. If the facts of the story are to be believed, the entire reason the gender issue became one of the subplots was simply because Dr. V was behaving oddly. Dr. V clearly had a fear of her personal life getting out there to the point of threatening the author. That's a story to a journalist. If Dr. V were comfortable in her skin, she would have just met the guy, gave him the lowdown on the putter, and been on her way. Would he have mentioned her masculine features in the article then?

I can't see any way to force the concept of white male hetero privilege into the article. The woman was communicating very oddly and presented herself as hiding something. That caused him to dig deeper. He discovered the root of her behavior and reported on that. I don't see any judgement in the article and don't see anything to apologize about.
Posted by cliche on January 23, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Report this
@39: No. Transsexuals are what, .01% of population? That means that objectively, irrefutably, they are abnormal. Or what the hell do you mean by normal,or by "objective reality," for that matter?

The central points of all Rights discourse is protecting the rights of minorities, but now that notion is being tossed aside by whining babies who take direct neural feeds from Gawker and Jezebel and believe there's no such thing as a minority or an outlier, that we're all special snowflakes except for Republican men, and how dare anyone hurt our feelings by denying that we're not super super special when we want to be but totally normal when it's convenient.
Posted by Billy Chav on January 23, 2014 at 12:10 PM · Report this
@46 I might agree but unfortunately conscience is not determined by idealism alone. My will is not that inhumane treatment of anyone should be justified, and of course transgenderism should be legitimate to the extent that all humans should be treated as humans, with respect and acceptance, but that does not mean I can or will understand the particular urge, and I will most likely always be disturbed by it, as will the majority.

my point is the proponents of this lifestyle must be willing to discuss the issue knowing full well that as a whole group they will not be viewed as legitimate by many, many people. not because this is right, but because it is natural and, frankly, just the way it is. Legitimacy isn't reached at the footer of a bill or the sign-off of an article in an alternative weekly. it's never given, only earned.

The ludicrous assertion that ,"before I can discuss the issue you must be avowed to agree with me beforehand", simply doesn't and will never convince anyone of anything.

I would remind the members of this lifestyle of a fact I remind myself of before I enter into any argument or dialogue. - We are not made to be understood, but to understand.

And that goes equally detractors.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Report this
@48 "minority," "uncommon" and "rare" are typically considered objective, irrefutable stands to take. "Abnormal" is a normative stand and a value judgment' It means "defect" or "wrong," or in some parlance "bad." Abnormal behavior is usually considered deviant or worrying.

So, when you appoint yourself the arbiter or what is and is not normal, then yes, you are exactly proving the author's (I believe overstated) point. Math and probability decides what is common and according to the power dynamics theory posited in this article, the privileged determine what is normal. You are the living embodiment of what this author believes.
Posted by rynebrandon on January 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Report this
@50 I simply can't see how you'd be surprised that a majority of the population finds the idea that a person would have their flesh cut into, their natural bodies mutilated, and their fundamental identity altered, in order to achieve their idealized form,"defective", "Wrong", or "bad.
If you're incapable of appreciating yourself to the extent that you think you should have your nose altered surgically, that's somewhat disturbing.
If you're incapable of appreciating yourself to the extent that you think you should have your sex, which is both a physical reality and an unalterable part of your identity as an individual, I would say that's majorly disturbing.

Posted by North by Northwest on January 23, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Report this
@51 Well, I acknowledge how you feel so long as you acknowledge that feeling that way is not "irrefutable" fact.

For what its worth (and you're of course free to ignore this) I would encourage you to try to think about what it means to be transgendered differently. Try to think back to a pivotal moment in your life - a moment where you discovered a hobby or a passion - a type of music, a group of friends, a philosophy or a book or a conversation or feeling (or sex) that just CHANGED you, that made you wonder how you went without it before. Now imagine that instead of it being something superfluous like a book it was something so fundamental to who you are like your gender - something you and I have likely never had to think about. Imagine how awful it must feel to feel like your body is just WRONG for you. That your brain and your physical body don't match and never will. Imagine the relief of coming to grips with that but the pain of knowing what you're going to have to go through to remedy it. How people will be made uncomfortable by you or even be disgusted by you because as your transition your appearance to match your mind you sort of reside in the uncanny valley and make some people feel off or you're treated as weak or deficient or a fetishist.

I don't think people would mutilate their body over something as shallow as self-esteem or not liking themselves. This isn't like somebody going on a diet because they don't like their body. I imagine it's so much deeper and more important (and often more awful) than that, so we should all strive to have empathy. They're not just moving toward actualization (something we're not entitled to), they're striving for a state of rightness and normal and a matching between their body and their soul that the rest of us get to take for granted (something everyone deserves).
Posted by rynebrandon on January 23, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
"Privilege" is the new "N" word.
Posted by Honky Cracker on January 23, 2014 at 1:29 PM · Report this
" Imagine how awful it must feel to feel like your body is just WRONG for you."

No doubt. I'm a cat trapped in a man's body. How come no public restrooms have kitty litter? I'm being oppressed!
Posted by Nice Pussy on January 23, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
@51, the whole point of gender reassignment surgery is that the recipient's "fundamental identity" remains unaltered, not "altered," as you suggest. The surgery brings the physical body in line with the recipient's fundamental identity.
Posted by tacky on January 23, 2014 at 2:01 PM · Report this
@55 First off, I don't think anyone has a monopoly on defining what reassignment surgery is or isn't. I would imagine it varies person to person.

Also, in the responses to my comments, there's an undue focus on the surgery. Surgery doesn't make someone transgender. The person is transgender already, the surgery is merely a mechanism to get their physical body to match what they consider their gender to already be.
Posted by rynebrandon on January 23, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
Thanks to Danielle for posting this. I read everything - your post, the article, Simmons's apology, Kahrl's piece on what Grantland did wrong.

Reporters can sometimes do great good in doggedly pursuing the truth. When someone in a position of power abuses the public trust or when someone uses mistruths to gain at others' expense, by all means be a lion in the hunt for hypocrisy.

Even had he merely stopped at discrediting her professional background, what good would it have done? Protecting shitty golfers from a $250 purchase (for which they'd get an actual putter)? Protect her investors (who themselves pointed out that she delivered!)?

He went after a startup and an inventor, the kind of little guy we root for in a world of corporate giants. And he never even bothered to answer the question he originally set out to answer: does the thing work? An upstart company that made something incredible would have been a better story, and the fact that she was a mechanic, not a rocket scientist, makes it all the more fascinating.

Funny how quickly he lost interest in that story in favor of hounding her about her background. All he had to do was what she asked: focus on the science, not the scientist.
Posted by Centrists Rule the World today on January 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM · Report this
It was like Hannan was personally offended by the whole thing, about being lied to, about having to deal with Essay and Gerri. It's such a bizarre attitude. Because I saw an infomercial and sought you out, everything better live up to my expectations. I don't understand those who say criticism of the piece is political correctness - there's a fundamental trespass to what Hannan did. Really unfair.
Posted by Centrists Rule the World today on January 23, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Report this
@49: You're just wrong. We speak of normal embryonic development, normal weather patterns, normal distributions, etc et etc. These all refer to an objective reality, one that is out there beyond your or my value judgments, and consists of regular patterns of occurrence. In this precise but common sense, transsexualism is abnormal. You can't just make words mean what you wish they would mean.
Posted by Billy Chav on January 23, 2014 at 3:07 PM · Report this
re #51: And I suppose you also think that people who modify their body in other ways, like ear piercings, tattoos, haircuts, and dieting are also "disturbed?"

Get a life and mind your own business.
Posted by paula_7 on January 23, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
1. this article should never have been run
2. the whole "it's about the science not about the scientist" agreement went out the window once the "science" and the "scientist" variables of the equation turned out to equal 0
3. people should never be in a situation where they feel compelled to take their own lives
4. ultimately, the responsibility the decision to continue living or to commit suicide rests in the individual
5. simmons should have never let this story run
6. simmons has been a consistent advocate for lgbt rights (his jason collins interview was not the first time he has broached the subject)
7. i once worked a job where my supervisor was transgender. it was like many labor/management relationships. sometimes i was a slacker and caught (deserved) shit, sometimes she was being a douchebag supervisor, sometimes she was really cool to me, sometimes i worked harder than my minimum wage warranted and she appreciated it
8. do i think the fact that she identified as a female, had her penis surgically transformed into a vagina, and takes female hormones daily in order to actuate her identity, weird? yes
9. were her decisions any of my fucking business. no
Posted by controlZED on January 23, 2014 at 5:37 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 62
@59 - Cool story bro.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on January 23, 2014 at 8:48 PM · Report this
@59 I don't know what to tell you. The denotion of a word is usually standardized via dictionary (doesn't make it objective, it simply makes it standardized) but the connotation is open to interpretation.

You said: "You're just wrong. We speak of normal embryonic development, normal weather patterns, normal distributions, etc et etc. These all refer to an objective reality"

We might refer to these things but it doesn't make them objective. Some births come to term in 9 months, some are premature, some go longer than 9 months - we rarely refer to any of these states as "abnormal" nor do we have a specific, inflexible notion of what constitutes "normal" weather. "Normal" weather patterns contain all manner of deviations from typical temperatures and observed precipitation states.

But if it makes you happy to thing of language as objective, I can oblige you their too. Here's what I said: "'Abnormal' is a normative stand and a value judgment' It means 'defect' or 'wrong,' or in some parlance 'bad.' Abnormal behavior is usually considered deviant or worrying."

And here's the webster's definition "different from what is normal or average : unusual especially in a way that causes problems"

Here's the definition from google "deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying."

There are also any number of scholarly articles that argue how the word "abnormal" is used to shame and lambast queer culture.

Just because you call something objective doesn't make it so. When you call transgender or any proportion of the LGBT population "abnormal" you know very well the historic and psychological weight that word carries. If you want be cute about it and hide behind "objectivity" you're welcome to but I don't buy it and I don't imagine I'm alone.
Posted by rynebrandon on January 23, 2014 at 10:07 PM · Report this
@59: You're bringing a spoon to a war. You are so unprepared for this discussion if you have not yet realized that normal is one of the single most dangerous words, and normative, rather than objective.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 23, 2014 at 11:46 PM · Report this
@51: You are undereducated on this topic. You should do some reading about it. You put forth a sense of being open to things in some ways, so I hope that you do that reading, and come to accept that the way different people relate to their bodies is different.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 23, 2014 at 11:47 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 66
@59: "You're just wrong. We speak of normal embryonic development, normal weather patterns, normal distributions, etc et etc. These all refer to an objective reality, one that is out there beyond your or my value judgments, and consists of regular patterns of occurrence. In this precise but common sense, transsexualism is abnormal. You can't just make words mean what you wish they would mean."

Your definition as used refers to the societal "norms".

The definition you're trying to conflate in this post is a different meaning, referring to setting a scientific baseline.

Words have multiple meanings, and you appear to be too stupid to understand this concept.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 7:58 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 67
The NUMBER of transpersons you're using to refer to them as "abnormal" is also irrelevant to the value judgment you're inflicting upon them by calling them abnormal.

If you gave a shit and were less of a classless pile of garbage, you might realize the difference and would use a more accurate, less loaded descriptor. Transpersons are less common than cis-gendered persons, for example.

But no, you want to grab your tiny wang and freak out about someone that doesn't match your flawed view of humanity.

There is something very wrong with you, inside.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 8:02 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 68
While I'm at it, musing over… gave me a laugh. (Don't worry, I know you won't read it.)

"Right-wing authoritarians want society and social interactions structured in ways that increase uniformity and minimize diversity. In order to achieve that, they tend to be in favour of social control, coercion, and the use of group authority to place constraints on the behaviours of people such as gays and lesbians, political dissidents, ethnic minorities, immigrants, feminists and atheists. These constraints might include restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association and laws regulating moral behaviour. It is the willingness to support or take action that leads to increased social uniformity that makes right-wing authoritarianism more than just a personal distaste for difference. Right-wing authoritarianism is characterized by obedience to authority, moral absolutism, racial and ethnic prejudice, and intolerance and punitiveness towards dissidents and deviants. In parenting, right-wing authoritarians value children's obedience, neatness, and good manners.[1]
Right-wing authoritarianism is defined by three attitudinal and behavioral clusters which correlate together:[12][13]
Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one's society should also be required to adhere to these norms.[14]
The terminology of authoritarianism, right-wing authoritarianism, and authoritarian personality tend to be used interchangeably by psychologists, though inclusion of the term "personality" may indicate a psychodynamic interpretation consistent with the original formulation of the theory."
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 9:36 AM · Report this
I thing uncommon would be a better term than abnormal. However, personal attacks don't seem helpful.
Posted by Kevin4 on January 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM · Report this
The word "privilege" has been used to make it absolutely taboo for people of certain groups to criticize others. It becomes ironic when people claim they can run their nasty mouth off about other people but criticism against them is off limits due to them not being privileged. It becomes comical. The slur "privileged" (and yes it has become a slur like calling people racist) has become a tool of tools to make it taboo to criticize them or certain groups.
Posted by hayden c on January 24, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
Societal norms also change tremendously over time. Things that seem strange in one period can come to be viewed as more acceptable.
Posted by Ganju on January 24, 2014 at 11:39 AM · Report this
@65 If there is a discrepancy between the physical body, which is verifiable, and the intangible self-identification of a person, which takes place solely in the mind, the fault must be with the mind. there is simply no scientific way in which you can assert that you were assigned the wrong chromosomes at birth, that's be like arguing that fiction is nonfiction because you believe it to be true, in which case we'd all be playing Quidditch.

If I was born with white skin yet constantly labored under a delusion that I was actually dark-skinned, that would be a mental abnormality. If a person truly believes they were born into the wrong body, I respect their desire and won't insult them, but the only legitimate explanation for that would be some form of mental abnormality, whether that be a biological/hormonal one, or something more purely psychological, it is what it is.

I don't think indulging in your own fantasies is healthy, it may not be a fetish, it may be a symptom of some hormonal imbalance, and it certainly isn't anything anything to inspire malice in anyone else, but that doesn't mean it's real.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 24, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this
@60 BAM, precisely my point. The second a person begins to express an opinion contrary to your own, it's not their business. I wasn't referring to any individual, meaning I was not minding anyone's business, but I wasn't parroting your beliefs to the letter nor was I walking the proverbial line of what is politically correct, so you can't handle it at all.

If you're principles can not handle contradiction they are not principles.

As for the content of your brief reply, you and I both know your grasping for straws, comparing a piercing to a gender reassignment in terms of body modification is just plain retarded, they're nothing a like, and on top of that you've missed the point completely. Body modification is not the issue, the issue is accepting private delusion over objective reality and demonizing the bulk of the society when it doesn't play along.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 74
@70: Well, when that criticism comes from a framework where the critic can't see past their own worldview, yes. It's a valid concept.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
@74 that describes everyone, yourself included.

It's not tolerance if you're only tolerating things you already agree with.
I'm capable of tolerating things I do not agree with and even things I find offensive, can you?

I can tolerate transgenderism despite the fact that I find disturbing, can you tolerate my opinion?
Can you tolerate the opinion of a Christian who does not accept gay marriage?
Can you tolerate the opinion of a Muslim that doesn't believe women should be allowed to own property or experience sexual pleasure?

I see the far-left preaching tolerance every day, but they themselves are the least likely to lead by example.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 24, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 76
@75: I don't have to tolerate bigotry. You weren't born an asshole, however they were born transgender.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 77
This "you should be tolerant of racism/sexism and all of my combined hate" attitude is ridiculous.

Nobody has to tolerate any of that to be internally consistent. If you're not a great person, I can judge you for this, because it's actually your choice to be abusive.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 2:53 PM · Report this
@51: If you describe gender confirmation surgery as "mutilation", you are part of the problem. That view is not just politically incorrect; it is factually incorrect. So please do the transgender community a favor and knock it off.


If there is a discrepancy between the physical body, which is verifiable, and the intangible self-identification of a person, which takes place solely in the mind, the fault must be with the mind.

This is categorically, emphatically false. Please read this:…
Posted by seilo on January 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM · Report this
JF 79
@74 It's a completely absurd concept. It means absolutely dick because life has too many variables for anyone to be truly labeled "privilege". You just want to have that buzzword available so you can control the conversation and avoid criticism.
Posted by JF on January 24, 2014 at 3:25 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 80
@79: Howsabout Instead of bitching about the vague concept of "privilege", try making an argument that isn't dumb to begin with. (I recognize the concept but I can usually counter it without referring directly to privilege, even though it's present in most of the assumptions.)
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
@12 "I do think you are paying short shrift to the business and resume outright falsifications. For a journalist - that should be fair game. "

Nope. Absolutely not...and i write that as a journalist who writes for national news and magazines in the UK.

If i pitched a story like that without the trans angle, i know it wouldn't run...unless maybe in some niche science journal. Because without the trans angle, what do you have?

Person invents a new thing and makes money from it while fibbing about their past... did the thing work? Er, apparently yes.

Did their sales DEPEND in any large degree on their exaggerations. Maybe. But i don't have evidence one way or other on that.

Because read the piece carefully and the two don't get linked.

So, no: there's no story.

In the UK, til a year or so back, i think adding the trans angle might have boosted it into being a story...but increasingly, even that wouldn't run it. You'd need to show the trans side as being directly relevant to the alleged fraud...

Posted by Jane Fae on January 24, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Report this

how can I be a bigot if I'm actively tolerating things I don't agree with? I don't agree with trans-whateverism but I'm more then happy to tolerate it, show everyone equal respect, and sure as fuck not "abuse" anyone. You're a real class act for accusing total strangers of being abusive by the way, that's a bold statement to make completely without base.

you don't want tolerance, you want complete agreement. You're a hypocrite, you preach tolerance but when it comes down to it you're unwilling to accept that other people see things differently then you, and whereas I've labored to at least try to be as respectful as possible, your misguided morality tells you that respect should only be reserved for those whom will not challenge your beliefs, and that makes your brand of self-indulgent bullshit so so much harder to swallow.

You're not worth the effort, if trying to act like a rejected minority will help you satisfy your martyr complex, that's fine, have fun, and I'd be more then happy to suggest some things you can go wallow in.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 24, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
JF 83
@80 Alright, here's the argument. A story about some who falsified their past in order to sell a product is a pretty good story whether that person is trans or otherwise. This article seems to say that my privilege is preventing me from seeing how it's not.

(To be clear, I'm not with that other guy who thinks trans people are icky and should be thrown in the stockade.)
Posted by JF on January 24, 2014 at 4:44 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 84
@82: I'm not going to give you a kudos because you simply don't think they should be beaten in the street.

If you were truly interested in respecting anyone, the respect transpersons deserve wouldn't be such a burr in your britches.
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 24, 2014 at 4:52 PM · Report this
@78 Did you really just label something categorically and empirically false and then frame your rebuttal using a blog written by a lay man? That's not a real citation...

that being said, I've read the article and can understand where you might think I'm confused, but I am certainly not. In fact, read the author's own break down on the subject, and he links to another source which plainly states," Gender identity is how people think of themselves and identify in terms of sex (man, woman, boy, girl). Gender identity is a psychological quality; unlike biological sex, it can't be observed or measured".

Specifically, it can't be observed or measured, meaning, in the ONLY empirical sense there is, gender identity is... NOTHING! No basis in the hard sciences whatsoever, it has the same credibility as if I were to identify as a purple dragon. Does the discontinuity between my self-identification and my actual existence imply that I must truly be a purple dragon? NO, it's very strongly implies that I'm living in a constructed delusional fantasy , but that's about it.

So explain to me why the entirely immeasurable phenomenon of gender identification should be considered valid science?

Gender Dysphoria is a mental illness. If a person does not wish to be cured but instead wishes to embrace their mental illness, that is fine, I do not levy a single ounce of hatred toward them for it, but I'm not going to lie or move the goal-posts just to be polite. And I sure as fuck will not consider the destruction of your natural body through unnecessary surgery anything more then it is, which is dangerous and foolish.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 24, 2014 at 5:00 PM · Report this
@82: Your brand of "tolerance" seems to include calling into question the very legitimacy of trans people themselves. You say they are "delusional", "mentally abnormal/defective", "indulging their fantasies", and "mutilating their bodies". If that's the best you can do, don't act so surprised when no one thanks you for it.

If you are really interested in showing trans people equal respect, I recommend that you realize how much you do not understand about the topic, and perhaps educate yourself. If you want to read some good books, I suggest She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan and Whipping Girl by Julia Serano.
Posted by seilo on January 24, 2014 at 5:10 PM · Report this

1. The author of that article is female.

2. I said "emphatically", not "empirically". Most of your post seems to be based on accidentally misreading what I wrote.

3. Gender identity is completely subjective, which means the only person qualified to make a decision about it is the person themselves. If gender identity cannot be empirically, independently quantified, then you can't tell someone they're wrong when they tell you what their gender identity is.
Posted by seilo on January 24, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this
@North by Northwest:

I think there might be something wrong with you.
Posted by Just The Same on January 24, 2014 at 6:48 PM · Report this
@73: It's not just that I disagree with you - though I do, vehemently.

You were not referring to "any one individual," but you clearly were referring to trans people as a group. Has any trans person EVER asked you what you thought about their transition, identity, or surgery? I doubt it. And even if they did, that would not give you license to go out and question their stated motives. Trans people have written much about why they have transitioned or gotten surgery, but you ignore all of that and characterize that surgery as "disturbed" and a "mutilation," as if you know better than they do what is best for them. That is a disrespectful, pathologizing, and transphobic thing to do.

You might think that your shitty opinions about trans people are original or incisive, and that you're not letting the "P.C. police" keep you from speaking your mind, but the tripe you are spewing has been heard by every trans person dozens of times. It's unoriginal bullshit.

I am not grasping for straws. In every culture, people modify their bodies for different reasons. Some of those reasons are widely accepted, some are not. The bottom line is that what other people do with their bodies is none of your fucking business, and continuing to act like other people give a fuck what you think shows how much of a self-centered asshat you are.

The "bulk of society" (I assume hear you're speaking about cis people) is not "demonized." It's trans people who are demonized, who are constantly questioned, seen as inherently violent and unstable, and are subject to everyday violence based on gender identity or presentation.

Trans people don't want you to "play along." We would rather you shut the fuck up.
Posted by paula_7 on January 24, 2014 at 7:37 PM · Report this
@86: transsexuals ARE mentally abnormal, if abnormal has any meaning at all. You and the other dimwits on this thread won't accept general tolerance for abnormality-- which all your opponents are willing to extend-- but insist we join in your delusion that there is no such thing as abnormality at all. It's not a fight you're going to win, and the further you and your fellow-travelers push your absurd beliefs into the mainstream, the more severe the likely blowback. Not that any of you are really thinking long term, but maybe you could try? Now and then?
Posted by Billy Chav on January 24, 2014 at 11:12 PM · Report this
Auntie Seattleblues is that you?
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on January 24, 2014 at 11:27 PM · Report this
North by Northwest, when trans people are attacked and ostracised it is usually by people who share the beliefs that you do - that trans people are defective, abnormal and mentally ill - and who then feel justified in acting on that basis. Sometimes they act with violence, sometimes they fire or refuse to hire out of those beliefs, sometimes they refuse or interfere with the person's elected medical treatment, often they use some other blatant or subtle shunning behaviour.

A thought experiment for you: Consider an element of your personal business that not everyone in the world shares or agrees with. Say, you're divorced, or you believe in God, or you're a lawyer. But now imagine that in that personal business you are in a very tiny minority. And that there's a huge amount of hatred and danger out there for people like you. I'm not like you, but I insist in a public forum that those who conduct their personal business the way you do are invariably mentally ill. Imagine that most of the rest of the world agrees with my opinion, even though your personal business brings no tangible harm to anyone else. You are at high risk for being attacked and ostracised according to the arguments I am espousing. I insist on repeating those arguments, despite the fact that they are everywhere already, and you are highly likely to be harmed by them. Do you consider me tolerant?
Posted by diner mo on January 25, 2014 at 8:08 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 93
90: "transsexuals ARE mentally abnormal, if abnormal has any meaning at all"

Here's why you are massively stupid: You think that it does, and that it's not a construct based on what you think is a baseline.

"Less common" than cisgendered is not a moral distinction like "normal".
Posted by undead ayn rand on January 25, 2014 at 9:50 AM · Report this
venomlash 94
@93: I like to use the terms "typical" and "atypical". To the point without being preachy.
Posted by venomlash on January 25, 2014 at 9:58 AM · Report this
@Billy Chav

Did you know that only 4% of the world population is a US citizen? Does that make US citizens abnormal? If they are, then they are almost as abnormal as trans* people! If you break that down further to the state level, then they just get more abnormal. Cool, huh?

So Billy, what's it like being abnormal?
Posted by Just The Same on January 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM · Report this

I like "typical" and "atypical." I might start using them. To fuck with the "normal"/"abnormal" people, I like suggesting "average"/"exceptional."
Posted by Just The Same on January 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Report this
@92 I see your point but I have two brief rebuttals:
The tone in which you wrote your scenario seems to imply heavily that you (filling in for myself within your hypothetical) are engaging in this speech with a purpose in mind. As if you're going to rile the masses and wish to see all the violence and harm done because of it. You didn't state it, but to make this scenario more true to life I would have to add that if you were simply engaging in a dialogue using terms you consider appropriate you could certainly still be tolerant of me, whether I thought the words you chose were too normative or not(barring intentionally disrespectful I suppose). What would persuade me more, one way or another, was my perception of your motivation, which in my actual case I like to think is not malicious, simply inquisitive and a bit stubborn.
The second is that your stance to me smacks of using conscious deception as a means to incite social engineering. In modern society this notion is even partially enforced under the laws against hate speech. The definitive word for that is propaganda. And a great many people will recognize that you intentionally misrepresenting the facts on the subject and ignore you out of hand, so your message falls on deaf ears.
I can say something like, Gynder Dysphoria is a mental illness, which in the strictest clinical terms is true, it's so simple a statement it would be like a medical doctor explaining that Lupus is a physical illness, your stance would be that it is an inappropriate statement to be made in society because it (A.) Is far too normative in that it implies also being "abnormal" or "bizarre" or even "wrong" and (B.) will also be used by others in society, and inevitably that statement will be made by a person as a justification for violence against transgendered people; possibly even partially due to my role as "instigator". My belief, as contrary, is that while using intentional misrepresentation might lead to short term improvements in terms of acceptance; the only true way to have a really open accepting society is for everyone to be educated on the subject thoroughly (or just educated) and an education requires precise impassive language! People have got to be able to say what they mean, despite what you might think people are not foaming at the mouth looking for the next minority group to hate, never attribute to malice what can be explained by mere ignorance.
Meanwhile I'd be happy to become better educated on more proper ways to voice my opinions that do not hurt people, especially because it will probably be up to those same people, and the experiences we share together, for me to learn more about transgenderism and appear to be less of a bigot. However I would like members of the vocal progressive community to recognize that if they themselves aren't allowing others to voice their opinions, however respectfully, they're being the intolerant ones.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 25, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
@88 If only you knew, not the least of which is when I feel people are predicating their statements on the basis that I can't say something cause it's mean; I feel morally permitted to tell them shove a cactus up their ass. There are probably a lot of things wrong with me.
Posted by North by Northwest on January 25, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Report this
The inventor of the putter made claims about job background and education that any media outlet doing a story would check on. Many of the claims turned out to be false.

The false claims may have been made to hide the transgender aspect. Or the false claims may have been made to burnish the credentials of someone trying to make money in the golf business. Or it could have been both.

I agree that it was a mistake to "out" someone, even posthumously.

But fact checking the claims of a mysterious inventor was not wrong.
Posted by rbuzby on January 25, 2014 at 12:43 PM · Report this
100 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
94: still doesn't properly communicate the lack of stigma behind their being. Preachiness is required when they're that dense and misusing terms they don't understand.
Posted by it's not an accidental mistake. on January 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
@97 No, there's no heavy implication in my tone. I didn't mention 'my' purpose making these statements, because for the most part it doesn't matter. 'I' uphold some popular beliefs, insist on their correctness and decide not to question, investigate or challenge those beliefs, despite the known harm that comes from them. To those who are harmed, it doesn't really matter whether 'I' personally intend or carry out that harm or believe myself to be tolerant. 'I' uphold the beliefs that uphold the harm. The veneer of 'tolerance' might make 'me' feel good, but it doesn't really warrant anyone else's celebration or interest.

Your arguments about misrepresentation of 'facts' rest on your beliefs that gender dysphoria IS a mental illness, and that the most effective way to treat it should not involve gender reassignment. Gender dysphoria IS a mental illness in the same way that homosexuality WAS a mental illness until 1974 but not after it, the way that divorce IS a sin, belief in God IS a delusion, and practicing corporate law IS unethical. In other words, these supposed truths emerge from complex social constructs which may be more or less pervasive but are certainly not universal or immutable. In humane communities we try not to let the beliefs of one group and their attendant social constructs damage the lives of another. We try to reach equilibriums where people can pursue their own happiness and freedom to the degree that this does not harm others. For those who are harmed by majority beliefs, it can take an exhaustive amount of work to even have the alternatives heard without immediate dismissal, mockery, personal risk, etc.

I am actually not arguing that your representation of YOUR beliefs should be suppressed. But I do invite you to follow up and actually listen to trans people talking in depth about their lives, experiences and circumstances. I think you will find, at the very least, that the opinions you are fighting so hard for are not so rare or endangered.

Posted by diner mo on January 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this

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