Author Topic: TWAM


A room of their own
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2021 »
Today is Alice B. Toklas's birthday. She's one of those people who never goes out without a middle initial. (Babette.) As I've not read Gertrude Stein, she's little more than a literary reference to me.

For god's sake man, pick up a book

According to this, the sister was no mister. Gertrude, that is. I understand Alice had a bit of a mustache, which is only worth mentioning because secondary sex characteristics are one of the many #nuances of biology, a degree

in which is now required to advance to the current level of enlightenment superseding grade school notions of the birds and the bees.

I've been thinking about why trans activism interests me enough to have amassed an ever growing collection of links (here's another, and it's a monster). It's an attempted coup on reality.

Denying material reality seems to be some kind of gateway drug, leading to wilder and wilder straying into the realms of incomprehensibility and wilful lack of comprehension. It’s the weirdest thing.

Women are adult human females. We do not believe that men can become women by 'feeling' like women or 'identifying' as women. We condemn the erasure of females and female-only spaces, the silencing of critical thinking, the cancelling of feminists and critics, the denial of biological reality and of sex-based oppression. We oppose the 'cotton ceiling' and the pressure on lesbians to have sex with men. Women are oppressed to exploit their biological sex characteristics, and women have a right to a movement that is about their own liberation from that oppression. We resist the redefinition of both "women" and "feminism" to make them serve men.
– Ovarit [I've added the links]

People who insist, for example, that anyone can be a lesbian, inspire the wrong kind of awe. Here's the right kind.


« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2021 »


Wise up
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2021 »
Not all owls have it going on upstairs. I'll spare you the exploding head this time.

My Gender is Uncertainty: My Mood is Anger. I can't blame Medium for continuing to offer me these stories, because I keep reading them. "I didn’t ask for your reassurance; I wanted you to relate," says Kai Cricket Moon. Despite not being the right demographic I jumped into her archive, and was rewarded with some lovely writing from this "non-binary, they/them plant slut living in Vancouver." She's clearly traumatised and alienated from herself. Here's hoping she comes out of this mess a woman.

The Annals of the TERF-Wars was written in 2018, which came as a surprise, as it seems pretty up to date.

Great Pit of Carkoon. Don't fall in like I did!

100 Easy Ways to Make the World Better for Trans People

1. Respect people's pronouns. This is really not very complicated! If someone tells you how they identify, you have no say on the matter. Use the pronouns they use.

I will use the pronouns that come naturally. You have no say in the matter.

2. Still on pronouns: if you don't know somebody's pronouns and want to get it right, either use gender neutral pronouns (i.e. they/them/their) or quietly and discreetly speak to the person and ask. Be aware of your surroundings and those around you before doing so—do not out this person or put them in an unsafe situation.

Kindly don't advocate putting other women in unsafe situations by insisting they deny reality. See Pronouns are Rohypnol.

3. Trans folk can use gender neutral pronouns, so please do not assume that we must adhere to a binary.

Binary is why you exist.

4. Try to start removing binary language from your everyday conversations. If we all make conscious efforts to steer away from gendering everything, this will have a knock-on effect that stops our learnt obsession of having to divide everything into binaries.


5. Trans women are women. This is not up for debate—so don't try to.

Men are not women and women are not men.

6. Trans men exist! We are often overlooked or forgotten, so try to remind yourself that we are out here and can find the male cis world hard to navigate.

You mean women. Even women keen to erase themselves.

7. Call out transphobia WHEREVER you are! Even if a trans person is not present, be our defence. Hateful language perpetuates the dangerous cycle of violence.

Delusional language perpetuates and exacerbates further delusion. It is known.

8. Understand and be vocal that transphobia is never "funny," "in jest," or "banter."

Alas, you don't get to decide what's funny, either.

9. Don't refer to us as a whole. Do not make sweeping generalisations about every trans person. We are all individual people with different opinions.

Congratulations on being just like everyone else: an individual, with an opinion. Prone to hypocricy.

10. Reject the idea that transitioning looks like one thing. People wish to transition in various ways. If someone doesn't want to or can’t medically transition, this does not mean they are "less trans." There is no such thing as "less trans" or "more trans." This is a personal journey that doesn't need to tick any boxes in order for the transition to be validated—by anyone!

I imagine it can look like anything you want it to.

11. NEVER ask anything about our genitalia or body. "So… do you still have everything down there" as a puzzled hand flutters near our privates is not ever going to be OK. That is final.

Expect that if men want access to women's spaces, this is germane. Also, generally you're the one making a big deal about genitals.

12. Oh, let's not forget that we do not all know each other. The queer community is bigger than you think.

How do you know what I think? Have you audited my head? Read my blog? Interviewed my known associates?

13. Try to refrain from using language that is heavily influenced or derived from queer culture if this is not your community. Words and phrases are a way of communication in code for a large majority of the queer community (like "reading"). Language creates a dialogue within the queer community that is meant to protect and ensure safety.

Are there really 87 more of these?

14. Do not enter queer or trans safe spaces without a queer person asking you to be there or without making sure that allies are welcome.

If irony could kill, you would now be in a very unsafe space indeed.

15. When you are in queer spaces, repeat: "This is not my space, I will not fill it" and actually do what you say.

If I take up negative space will that be satisfactory?

16. Be aware of your hands. Do not touch people without consent in all spaces—and especially queer spaces—and especially avoid touching trans people who often are triggered by physical contact involving parts of their body.

I prefer not to be touched by strangers either, but unless it's sexual (as if) or a punch in the nose, I get over it. Everyone has boundaries. This has not been copyrighted by you.

17. If you are called out for being offensive, do not argue. This is not a debate. Apologise. Take a moment to reflect. If necessary, leave or give the space over to those you have offended or upset.

You really want to be in charge of the world.

18. Never try to argue with a trans person that something isn't transphobic.

#NoDebate. We get it.

19. Remind us that being trans isn't a burden or a bad thing!

Because you must get hoarse singing your own praises all the time.

20. Recognise the strength and power of your voice.


21. Now use it.


22. If a trans person is being verbally assaulted, made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or being attacked in any way and needs your help—open your mouth.

I'm going to file this with "Don't touch my girldick without asking."

23. This being said, do not become the ally that speaks over or for a trans person in this situation. Ask if we want you to step in because there's nothing more frustrating than cis person silencing you. It happens enough, jeez!

Jeezus christ.

24. Talk to us about more than gender! Movies, what we had for dinner, our next holiday—anything that isn't constant emotional labour.

Speaking of constant emotional labour.

25. Take us off your mood boards. Book us, pay us, and celebrate us.

Talk to HR, I'm sure there's an opening for another diversity consultant.

26. Do not fetishize trans folk. We are not your sexual experimentations, tokens, or reason to rebel against your parents. We are not here for you.

It's pretty clear you're there for yourself, Kai Isaiah-Jamal.

27. Criticise the media. Write to the newspapers, institutions, and publications that are spreading hate towards the trans community. Create polls and petitions. National news portrays us as monsters and threats to society. We can't stop them from doing that on our own.

Here there be monsters.

28. Learn what Mx means.

Can I just hover?

29. Talk to the generation above you—your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. You can't always change traditional mindsets, but you can give them a new perspective.

It's great to talk to people, preferably without the goal of badgering them into a cult.

30. Support the generation below; speak to young kids. Make them aware that gender is a spectrum and they don't have to commit to one gender for their whole life. Educate them on their freedom and choices.

This be the verse you're looking for.

31. Don't buy gendered things for kids around you. This just pushes the ideas that boys must like blue and girls must like pink and only one of them can play football in their spare time. I don't even particularly like either colours!

I'll buy them what they like, if it's in my budget, which is quite low, so probably just a piece of string. They can learn how to untie knots, which is a life skill.

32. Stop pretending only trans people experience name changes or surgery. Me changing my name and a friend getting married and changing her surname meant we had to go through some similar legal process. Help trans folk with these legal procedures, whether that's telling us which bank is easy to change your name with or going through the deed poll process with us. It means it doesn't feel like these are "trans issues"—they're just really confusing forms that nobody quite understands!

This is really specific.
I think you're going to need a personal assistant.

33. Share your platforms. I am tired of cis people talking about trans health. Ask us to talk, educate, share our stories, and pay us. This way you don't get the credit for the lives we live.

By educate you mean thought control. Someone even wrote a song about it.

34. Support trans artists. Rock up to our exhibitions. Buy our books. Listen to our podcasts. Use your social platforms to share the incredible things we do despite the adversity we face.

So many buskers, so little discretionary income.

35. Don't expect trans folk to always congratulate you for being an ally. Sometimes you're just being a good person. I don't get a gold star for just being a good person.

Admit it: you want a gold star.

36. Donate to organizations and charities that are set up to aid and help trans folk. There are so many organisations struggling with funding. Without lots of these resources we can't access things like mental health services and free meet-ups.

There are doubtless people who will pay to be browbeaten, and more.

37. Do not tell us what RuPaul, Trump, or the Daily Mail said about us. Chances are we already know.

Cheer up, you get a lot of good press these days. In fact it's kind of hard to avoid having it shoved down our throats.

38. Post about the #blacktranslivesmatter campaign—highlight that trans people of color are targets of violence.

Yep, violence is bad.

39. If you are dating a trans person, try to understand their triggers. For example, me and my partner call my menstrual cycle "Lucifer." So if I text her to say "Lucifer is here," she knows to bring chocolate and pillows. You can also try covering tampon or pad boxes and wrapping with cute cartoons or their favourite colour.

What a coincidence! "Lucifer" is my safeword.

40. Do not tell us we "are playing the victim," WE ARE THE FUCKING VICTIM.

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.

41. Do not attend panels that address gender and/or trans identity if everyone on the panel is cis.

How will I know?

42. Give trans creatives platforms to share work that aren't all about being trans.

But you're so good at it.

43. Do your research. For all ignorant questions, divert to Google. Google is your friend. I am not, especially if you're asking me how doctors make a penis from my leg.

You need new friends.

44. If trans folk do have to explain something to you that may be uncomfortable, triggering, or upsetting for us, buy us a bunch of flowers, take us for dinner, drop something into our PayPal. No labor should be free.

How many more times are you going to ask for money? Didn't Vice pay you for this?

45. Transphobia is a huge issue in the queer community. Do not let other people who identify as queer get away with things, because they can be by far the worst.

If you want me to be your collaborator, you're going to have to pay me. A lot. Full disclosure: I'm going to be a double-agent.

46. Record transphobic incidents. (Caveat: This is only if your immediate assistance is not needed and you have checked you can use this footage by the person involved.) Share this with everyone you can. It may lead to prosecution or people in positions loosing their job. Nobody should still be allowed to be a CEO and use offensive slurs.

Feels like padding.

47. Don't question someone's religious beliefs because they are trans and you think they go against what it says in a holy book. This isn't your business, OK?

Say what you will about God, he knew to edit his commandments.

48. Trans issues are not for profit. That's it.

Better tell your compatriots with the merch.

49. "Queer" is not a theme. Do not have a "queer" house party and let boys who still use the word "faggot" wear your heels and dresses because it's fun.

Is it just me, or is this getting really nit-picky?

50. Drag queens are not always trans, but they can be—so respect that!

Not sure how wrong-footed I'm meant to be here.

51. Do not make someone feel bad after dragging you for something you have done that is deemed transphobic. Your guilt is not my guilt to feel.

We're either the deemed or the deemers.

52. Don't ask what gender dysphoria feels like because it’s a stupid question and there’s no way you can try to understand it.

I promise I won't try to touch the holy hem of your victimhood.

53. Ask your friends or trans folk you know if they'd like company when going to hospital appointments. Hospitals are scary at the best of times and sometimes you don’t always get the treatment, doctors, or results you want. Be there to give a hug, at least.

Hugs for everyone! With the proper consent forms filled out.

54. Do anything you can to stop trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) from leaving stickers, leaflets etc. Tear down everything you see associated with them.

Because what we need is the right amount of freedom of speech, and no more.

55. Do not engage in question-based conversations with TERFs. You have nothing to learn from them.

Not a big fan of the Socratic method. Got it.

56. Correct others when they misgender people.

Could you write all this down in a little red book or something?

57. Gender and sexuality are not the same thing. Remember that at all times.

Have mercy, there are so many other things I'm trying to remember in my little man brain, this isn't always going to be at the forefront.

58. Do not ask a trans person’s partner what being in a relationship with a trans person "makes" them. It makes them in love, now fuck off.

Charmed I'm sure.

59. Trans Lives Matter should be more than a hashtag. Push it further than social media.

But social media is where this thrives. Out in the real world, eventually people hit the brick wall of reality.

60. Tell your trans friends and partners how great they look. Highlight the changes after hormones, surgery, or even just a good skin day.

Not to be mean, but this is usually a stretch.

61. You are not a true ally if you allow your partner to use transphobic language. Educate your friends and family.

Little red books for everybody!

62. Love your children regardless of what gender they identify as. Most self-hate for many trans folk comes from not being accepted at home.

I don't have kids, but I do have a rabbit who had his balls cut off, poor little guy. As for loving your kids, it's hard to disagree. You can love them best by educating them. We have different ideas about what constitutes an education.

63. Offer shelter, money, food etc. The basics of survival are hard for trans folk. If you have enough to spare, try to offer.

Just how much money do you need?

64. This is not a "phase." Do not tell me it is one.

You do sound pretty far gone. There's hope for others.

65. If your trans friend is leaving a social situation and feels uneasy about travel, offer to walk them to a train station and wait with them, drive them home, or get them a taxi. Travelling home alone by yourself can be a scary scenario.

It almost sounds as if you have sympathy for those who are predominantly the victims of violence.

66. Do not think you are saving us. We don’t need saving. You are helping us to have what everyone else has without having to ask for it.

You don't need saving, but you obviously need a cash infusion.

67. Be active about your allyship. Just saying you are an ally but not doing enough to actually make a change isn’t enough.

[Nobody mention cotton ceilings.]

68. Avoid gendered slang terms like "dude," "man," or "missy." For trans people, these too feel like misgendering.

69. Expand your knowledge of gender. For example, the Yoruba language is genderless. There is also a third gender in many spiritual philosophies.

For those of us not hung up on gender, this really isn't necessary.

70. Decolonize the way you think of gender. Remind yourself that these social constructs are postcolonial issues that the western world have pushed onto people.

You might be happier consorting with the Yoruba.

71. Be hyper aware of the systems that work against trans folk in issues like policing, housing, and health care.

Hyper? Really?

72. Offer to help go to health meetings and assessments. These spaces and the people within them can be very triggering and cause distress.

I'm calling duplicate.

73. Correct yourself if you accidentally misgender someone. It doesn't matter if it was an accident—it still hurts.

And again. Seriously, you could've made your points, dubious as they are, without this monster list. Sorry, was that monstering?

74. Make no excuses for others. No trans person wants to hear one of your friends say something offensive, only for you to say, "I've known them for ages, they don’t mean it like that."

Still not doing much to dissuade me that this is a cult.

75. Don't forget that racism is rife in the queer community and trans people of color are often the most vulnerable. Protect us.

Let us cut to the chase: you want me to lay down my life for you, apologising with my last breath that I couldn't do more.

76. Do not call yourself an ally if you do not believe in complete intersectionality. You be xenophobic and be an ally for trans folk. It doesn’t work like that, I'm afraid!

Fortunately I not be an ally.

77. Sex work is a service. Again, this is not up for debate. Do not try to stop trans folk from advocating for and implementing their own safety measures. Do not hide your prejudice against sex workers with fake worry.

I'm proud of myself for only saying that once.

78. Do not ask to try on or feel a strap-on, breast plate, or packer. These belong to us.


79. Believe trans folk when they say they have been targeted. Recognize the hatred that is thrown at us from so many angles.

Paid by the word. I respect that.

80. Read Charlie Craggs' To My Trans Sisters, Juno Dawson's The Gender Games, C Riley Snorton’s Black on Both Sides, and Travis Alabanza’s Before I Step Outside (You Love Me).

I'll add it to the list.

81. Relearn there is no universal trans experience. Not all of us go through the same things—we are all shaped by our varying lives.

It just goes on and on and on.

82. Share our work. Often our talents are overlooked based on our gender identity.

Look – I'm sharing.

83. Step down. Take up less space. If you are asked to do or take about something that you think your trans friend, partner, or coworker is more qualified for. Give our names.

Should I see an advertisement for a compiler of epic bullshit lists, I'll forward your name.

84. Love us and see us as human beings. After all, that's what we are!

Again, welcome to the club.

85. Watch Pose, Paris is Burning, Tomboy, Tangerine.

Are they on Netflix? Am I bothered enough to check? Will have to get back to you on that.

86. Learn the correct terminology. Instead of saying "when you were a girl/a boy" say "your assigned gender at birth."

Will our robot overlords be programmed with gender, I wonder?

87. "Transgenders" is not a thing. We do not fall under one group. Never say that.

I'll promise to never make a typo if you also promise. Oh, I see what you mean. Well, I've never said that, and am not likely to. You, on the other hand, have shown a willingness to shove people you disagree with into monolithic groups. Please work on that. Do better.

88. Fight for our rights. Block and report pages or people spreading hate, too.

Now if only we could all agree on what constitutes hate.

89. Help to introduce gender neutral bathrooms. They should be way more common. Ask for them at work, cafes, bars, and venues.

If you truly care about people other than yourself, you'll be sensitive to their needs, too. Judging by your picture, I'd say you can get away with using the bathroom of your choice. Go for it.

Btw, I like that gap in your two front teeth. I've also got one. Dare I say, mine's bigger than yours.

90. If somebody who is trans asks you to go to the bathroom with them, go. This can be a very unsafe space for us.

Your enemies are legion. I almost forgot for a minute.

91. Pride is not for you to get drunk and smear glitter on your face. Respect that this is not your space.

Have you always been this controlling? Have you considered a career on the staff of a dictator?

92. Trans-only groups are there for a reason. These are also not your spaces.

Look no further: this is the definition of gall.

93. Your curiosity does not come before our comfort. Don't expect answers and labor.

If you really don't want to talk, I'm hardly going to bring out the waterboard.

94. Saying "I do not see gender" is hella problematic. We don't need another way to be erased.

Does all the policing ever get tiring?

95. Don't assume anything about gender dysphoria. Not everyone experiences it and not everyone experiences it in the same way. People navigate it with different coping mechanisms.

Thanks for another reminder that people are different. It's so easy to forget.

96. Do not deny your privilege. If you tell me that being a cis heterosexual white man doesn’t mean you haven't "had it rough," I will tell you that you are wrong.

There'll be no taking the fifth in kangaroo court.

97. I also am not playing Top Trumps with you. Don’t try to top my experience.

You like playing with yourself too much for me to want to interfere. I can almost empathise.

98. Not everything needs labels. As my grandmother would say: "Baby, some things just be as they be."

Your grandmother was a woman, right? Can we agree on that?

99. Intimacy can be even more complicated for some trans folk. Respect boundaries and ways people feel comfortable with nudity, tactility, and sex. This may mean being patient or unlearning what we deem as 'sex'.

Not sure I want to go there.

100. Find your own ways to disrupt the cis world. There are so many ways to do this.

To put this in terms you're most likely to understand, your validation appears to depend on invalidating other people. Didn’t you kick this off with the following?

Here are 100 ways that cis allies can help us.

You're confusing me, which I appreciate is a feature and not a bug. It's unclear if the cis are meant to be allies or enemies. Frenemies?

Are we done here?


  • London's hard-boiled black'n'white sweetie
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2021 »
Their time will come

Do not speak to the driver or obscure their vision
when the bus is moving.
From Shelley to Bowie - it's all been done before.
Blakey was a blokey.

Oh the curse of gender - they cures me of it.
Not that I was ever ill.

Happy birthday to me
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2021 »
I've come a long way to spin in my grave: An Open Letter to the Fawcett Society

alternate caption

So also: Pride

Beyond belief
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2021 »
Here are some clarifications trending on Twitter!

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to put the ram in the rama lama ding dong

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to take all the best chips off your plate

- It's important to emphasise that this does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to walk behind you shouting, 'Left! Right! Left! Right!'"

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to break into a museum and draw moustaches on all portraits

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to redecorate your house if she doesn't like your wallpaper

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to make rabbit ears behind you during a group photo

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to give away the ending of a novel just when you've started reading it

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to use '10 items or less' when she really means 'fewer'

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to split infinitives, misuse apostrophes, or do anything else to piss off the other L. Truss

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to poke a badger with a spoon

- It is important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to eat egg sandwiches and crisps noisily in the quiet carriage of a train on a hot summer's day

- It is important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to punch all the cakes in the supermarket and run away

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to use "staycation" when what she really means is a perfectly ordinary holiday within the UK

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to park on the zigzags at school pickup time, and say, "it's ok, I’ve got my hazards on"

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to put empty milk carton back in the fridge

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to keep tickling the Dalai Lama long after he's begged her to stop

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to look up a Scotsman's kilt

- The ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to steal your bicycle and run down Owen Jones with it

- It's important to emphasise that the ruling does NOT give Maya Forstater the right to dress Owen Jones up as an elf, and pop him on her mantelpiece at Christmastime

This will be decided on at the tribunal.


  • London's hard-boiled black'n'white sweetie
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2021 »
In between

Did you need to make 100 replies?
Some so clever, some so snide
We are becoming infantile
If this is how we ride

#69 was not required?
Since childhood she's been wired
For 'they' to be adopted
As the wild card word

Language makes us think
it's a road with kinks
Built in. Let's not be stilted
But please let's lilt it

Shape of mind, words we find
Crafted lines defined
To answer every blind error
With more and better

Rabbits have 3 kinds you know
In between as well as buck and doe
For the human few with this state too
It was just cut right through

Belonging to this or that
Is a false comfort  - you twat!
You are offended - so counter
With borrowed toilet humour

You dip my logic and emotion
Into a flaming filthy ocean
If you can't make a good point
Without leaning to affront

A reply
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2021 »
Affrontery or effrontery
is my first thought

Snide does not sound great
any way you cut it
words mean things, different things
slyly disparaging is apt in this case
I thought the list of little worth
but clearly worth enough
for the challenge of point by point
firstish thing that came to mind
not all Worthy, but all honest
part Rorschach
you have made of it and me what you will
fair enough.

Of gender I have been swimming in other people's thoughts
my own are these:
I am sam I am

I like this name in part because it is either
(it was chosen for me by a woman not my mother)
I am a man but not bothered
even while being bothered;
fucking with reality bothers me
nastiness by nasty people bothers me
æffrontery is a case-by-case basis
life is too brutally short in my book
for hackles so easily tickled to attention
but we've all got our own hackles
to deal with.

Twat tossed at whomever
doesn't elevate the bar.
For example.

I like your honesty.

Shall I admit
your poem went right by me
on first reading
(my pleasure at a contribution
temporarily blinding me to the actual contribution)?
Is that sort of honesty
Helpful or Hindrance?
H1: "In wot universe."
H2: "The defense rests."
- Doesn't everyone have a constant courtroom in their head?
A battle of wit against dimwit, the bicameral mind
fully realised?

The company has been nice
long solitude has inoculated me to losing it
(sez the drama queen in me)
fingers crossed not
but landmines I can do without.
Accommodation can be made
we'll see what we see.
I'm out here for all to see
bit by byte by bit by bite
more all the time
it could be landmines remain for you
blowing all to smithereens retroactively
all part of the getting to know you phase

Give me 10 minutes and I'll come up with 10 different endings
This will do for now
Only locked in on reply

« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2021 »
Well hello.

I am Humbug's P.A. and thought it would be a little off to embark on prose debate here in his name.

I came rather late to the web arena - really only got hooked up in 2008 - and even later to its twisted paths of gender identity crises. I only started to seek and respond to the topic online after someone I knew began to transition. I talked with good people about my and other perspectives on this life-changing process before ever coming out virtually. This is important I think. Though some of us still hold different views we did find some synthesis or at least understanding, and are still talking.

The web is a very different set of beasts though. The idea I wanted to express is that I early (before the age of 5) concluded that gender is a social construct and decided that I wanted no part of its building. It seemed obvious to me that 'girlish' or 'boyish' stereotypes were holding back everyone from women engineers to men childcarers. Being an androgenous person I naturally felt some solidarity with hermaphrodite people (as known then - now we would say intersex, though this doesn't quite express the full 'both sexes' meaning) and felt and still feel that we need the pronoun 'they' not only for people of neither or both sexes but also for changing in as organic way as possible the language of gender distinction - hence Humbug's line, 'Do not speak to the driver or obscure their vision.' I learned to read largely from notices on buses and the sides of breakfast cereal packets, and this was my hoped for edit to the usual sexist script both for realism and simplicity.

I am now called a 'cis' woman, and am told to accept this even though I have no particular gender characteristics, which I find contradictory. I engaged with libertarian socialists on a global discussion forum and with bloggers - both trans-activists and feminists who were to varying degrees trans-exclusionary about this problem of definition. Nowhere did I find a debate that did not descend towards farce. Feminists have offended trans people, some trans people have responded with further nastiness, petulance has appeared on all sides and the whole thing has become pitiful.

There is much of interest in this forum. I am particularly impressed by the Barra Kerr piece. Maya Forstater's case is an imporrtant one and the 'Open Letter to the Fawcett Society' is valuable reading.

However posting very low-grade videos lampooning Owen Jones or Eddie Izzard is indulgent in a way that defuses the strengths of the good points made. I think I read somewhere that the editor is not a proponent of memes - moving-picture memes are no step up.

Affrontery is deliberate, effrontery is shameless offence.

I asked a couple of things in a private message and got answers that welcomed my dissent but didn't answer the questions - so,

Could you please take more care to critique without the descent towards antagonism (dis)courtesy(sic) of youtube? I can tolerate a bit of farce but would really enjoy intelligence worthy of inviting my friends to share.

Do you think there is a case for 'they' as a gender-free pronoun, or will you dismiss it along with the list of more artificial he/she alternatives? Conveying plurality is even rather apt with 'they' and it is already a term in common parlance.

If my use via Humbug of 'twat' in a poem offended you I apologise. I do feel, perhaps erroneously, that poetic license is a bigger thing than youtube parody rights. Please think of it as a acronym.


« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2021 »
They say nature abhors a vacuum, though birthday boy Blaise Pascal had contrary words on the subject. There is a need for contemplative essays, peer-reviewed studies, and no-holds-barred lampooning, all. I feel surprisingly strongly about the latter: just as fiction can touch truths non-fiction can't reach, so can the apparently unserious unsettle serious falsehoods.

I’d agree that an argument based on memes is not the bedrock of a solid discussion. Then again, at some point I stopped reckoning on having any discussions here. Thus the state of this thread, a magpie’s collection of conversation starters including videos. Self-indulgence is certainly a risk in such an environment. Without delving into specifics, I think reasonable people can come to different conclusions as to their merit. That said, it is helpful to know what to avoid in conversations you may start.

(I'm not aware of having taken a particular stand against memes unless drive-by eye-rolling at the saccharin counts, though am happy to be corrected. Likes and bountiful smileys on the other hand…

The only thing that distinguishes some of what I get up to from memehood is lack of wide circulation.)

Then there’s TWAT. Back in junior high I took a French class, and with it a Frenchie name: Antoine. Thanks to a bully this quickly turned into Antwat. I can still remember the look on my father's face when I told him, dewily innocent of TWATs and perhaps thinking the nickname a softening in the bully’s treatment of me. A lifelong aversion could’ve been born then and there, but I actually am not at all offended; I also use it on occasion, when absolutely necessary.

It’s not in my nature to deliberately offend those undeserving of it, but as you know, offence happens. It isn't something I could start apologising for as there would be no end, or promise to studiously avoid as a beginning. I can only trust that people look at me, at context, back at me if necessary, and credit me with a heart.

Thanks for sharing your story with a fellow cereal box consumer, which is not to diminish any additional burdens you may have had (it's unclear to me). You were much more aware of gender than I was at such a tender age.

I don't accept 'cis' either, perhaps for different reasons than you. To me it is terminology from a religion to which I do not subscribe.

My own relationships have not fallen into the standard male/female divide in that I've never been close to my tribe of males. As a teenager I took to hanging out with the girls. Playing clarinet in band further ensured this would happen. (Woody Allen et al never came up.) One of my defining crisis was when I was set before a tribunal of sorts and judged as effeminate, or at the very least weird, and cast out of the company of the very girls I admired.

As a young man I moved from rural Ohio to NYC and found myself pursued in a way I didn't then find flattering. A small town boy in Greenwich Village with hetero tastes can very easily skirt homophobia and worse. Let's just say it was a close-run thing. I'm a big believer in learning from mistakes (preferably the mistakes of others).

Later I was to marry a woman with a traditionally male vocation, though anyone who knows the history of computing will be aware women were in it from the get-go. Over the years she was frequently the only female in the room.

Although our relationship isn't what I would classify as far outside norms, nor has it been entirely traditional.

Even my pandemic moptop [RIP] brought back an old preference. Fortunately we're past the silliness slightly before my era of dibs on long hair. The coiffeur who recently lopped it off triggered my own unease by saying it was proper rock star hair. Blame summer and too much of a good thing constantly getting in my eyes.

I don't know to what extent my experiences shaped my current view on the gender wars. It stands to reason they did.

It sounds as if you have much more real life experience navigating these waters, and I respect that. I would, however, dispute that the two ‘sides’ are even roughly equivalent in the nastiness meted out, at least online.

There is a desperate need for well run salons. Mumsnet, which at times I have outright loathed and still mostly regard as not far short of malign as a tool of conformity and outlet for simmering aggression (as a counterpoint to its motherload of useful experience to draw upon), has in its feminist board hosted more than a few discussions of a quality that have left me awestruck; so much so that it almost seems pointless to keep casting about for more and better. Still, better is surely possible, not least because their moderation can be bewildering, and anyone beholden to advertisers is already compromised.

I would love to host thoughtful discussions here, but the prospect is unlikely at best, even were you to give me a passing grade to your friends.

I can appreciate not wanting to be placed in a gender box, and as a default he, have personally suffered no linguistic unease. Do I think there is a case for ‘they’ as a gender-free pronoun? I suppose it depends how awkward the construction, and the situation. I don’t believe language can or should be compelled, however compelling the argument, absent a much stronger case of harm to a great number of people.

Notwithstanding what I would maintain is an unearned reputation for pugnacity (how often the one in the middle of a brawl is not the true offender), and a voracious appetite for hoovering up then emptying bags of links and quotes and memes of sufficient variety to confound anyone trying to get an exact bead on my taste, as mentioned upthread I do value civility. As I hope I’ve proved by now.

A flaw in my process* often renders me unable to post without a host of further edits as I continue to examine the angles and interrogate myself about my own truthfulness. Eventually this settles down; it definitely stops if there's a reply except for clarification or grammar or harmless flourish. The nature of this site means it's not traditionally been a problem in the slightest. Should that change, I'll try my best to move on after the final full stop.

My most common name for TextEdit files is Edit, followed by enlightening labels such as Further Edit, Final?, Final final, etc. This very 'colophon' will cease to exist if my last judgement is a resounding "Nobody cares, sam."

*This was first posted at approximately 23.50 last night, after starting in a notebook in a Sainsbury's parking lot in the early afternoon. Here it is 8.31 the morning after and I'm still whittling. I admire people who get it exactly right the first time, assuming they exist.