This week I did a simulcast episode with Damir and Shadi that will also air on their own podcast, Wisdom of Crowds. We discussed and debated the resilience of American democracy in this fraught time — with some sharp disagreements.
(You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player embedded above, or right below it you can click “Listen in podcast app” — which will connect you to the Dishcast feed. To listen to two excerpts from my long conversation with Damir and Shadi — on Trump’s missed opportunities to become a dictator; and on the current dangers of authoritarianism — head to our YouTube page.)
Looking back at our popular episode with Dana Beyer, a reader writes:
I learned so much from this conversation. The information about how a trans individual can be created due to pre-natal pharmacological interference was extremely useful. Beyer’s point that we’re introducing all sorts of endocrine disrupters into the gestational process is really important. We’re imposing all sorts of problems on fetuses that cause lifelong suffering (another example is learning disabilities). This needs to be considered seriously.
On a personal note, I would have liked a bit more discussion of the David Reimer case and John Calapinto’s book about Reimer, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as A Girl — which is a different matter, though aligned of course. It’s also a cautionary tale about therapeutic arrogance and its horrific consequences.
Regarding your guest post by Katie (I’m a huge fan and a BARpod subscriber) and your convo with Dana, it’s so refreshing to hear an honest conversation about the limits of trans ideology and how it relates to how trans people view themselves and the world. I am trans myself, but only at the very beginnings of my journey (okay maybe a bit further than the beginning), and a major stumbling block for me has been my dissent from the dominant narratives of transness:
Identifying as a woman
Born in the wrong body
Trans women are biological women
Trans women have always been women
Those narratives (while surely helpful for some) just strike me as unscientific or grossly essentialist. If you “identify as a woman” and what you identify with is clothes, social roles or behaviors, what does that mean for biological women who don’t identify with those things? How can I as a trans person stake a greater or equal claim to womanhood based on those things?
For me, gender is inextricably related to sex; it is how humans signal sex to prospective mates. As a trans person, desire to physically transition requires a belief in the binary in order for that desire to make sense. If the binary isn’t real, what’s the need to change? It’s simply dishonest for me to deny I am biologically male and experience dysphoria since that is exactly what I am.
Asking 99 percent of the populace to change its metaphysical understanding of sex and gender to accommodate a very small minority is crazy when there’s no need to do so to ensure trans people are treated with dignity and respect.
Another reader touches on a super controversial topic:
I attended a panel discussion in 2015, the 40th and final year of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. It was a panel of detransitioners. Many openly discussed transitioning to avoid the onslaught of unwanted male attention (for many before they were able to understand it, buffer themselves from it, or reject it). Abigail Shrier discusses this, explaining that many of the “transmen” she interviewed had no real desire to be cis men, as much as a desire to not be read as women. They saw being read as male in the public sphere as a way to escape the sexualized response to their existence. Many had already lived through sexual trauma, assault, rape.
Another trans reader:
There are so many great things in your conversation with Dana Beyer that make this something I want to share with other people in my life who maybe don’t entirely understand “the trans issue”, or conflate it with the whole non-binary/queer thing. I’m just glad that 20 years ago it was relatively straightforward for a middle-class trans person like me to get hormones and reassignment/corrective surgery. In my opinion, the main trans battle outstanding is to make that treatment equally accessible to poor and working-class people.
There are aspects of what you and Beyer discussed where I disagree, but for much of the podcast I was practically cheering along. It’s so refreshing to finally be able to hear people speak sensibly on these topics. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to hear this after that miserable black hole of a few weeks ago when supposed trans allies were raging away mindlessly, ignoring what I had to say.
In case you are interested, here is a good article on sex/gender segregation in sports. I think it’s a red herring to make this into a trans issue. I think it’s fair to argue that segregation by sex or gender is inherently problematic — it’s not about cis versus trans athletes. Personally I like the idea of moving toward a utopia where we don’t have segregated sports, or indeed any other segregated spaces, but I understand that to be a radical position and I know it will take a long time to get there (if we ever do).
This next reader, on the other hand, is grateful for segregated sports:
I am a 62-year-old white, hetero woman (biological). I consider myself a feminist and somewhat gender critical. I have a trans woman friend that I have know before she transitioned. She is a former neighbor of mine and moved to DC as a government contractor, but we stayed close on Facebook. I followed her through her transition and have always been in total support of her life change and self-actualization.
After her transition, she took up bicycle cycling, and I was supportive of her achievements. She won almost every race she competed in. Then, I started to think about her podium wins. I am a former high school basketball player (I am 6' 2" and played the varsity center position) who won the right to play interscholastic because of the passage of Title IX in 1973. Title IX changed my life and gave me opportunities that I never would have had without it.
So I started to get angry at my friend’s wins. I would see the women standing beneath her on the podium with their heads down and frowning because they knew that a biological man had beat them.
I recognize her as a trans woman. I believe that she should have every right that any human being has. She should be safe, loved, cared for, allowed equal housing and employment like any human being should have.
BUT. I have a problem with trans women competing against biological women in sports. I have a problem with boys competing with girls. I have a problem with boys/men who have not undergone any transition competing in women’s sports. The IOC has just passed a ruling that states that a person does not have to have reassignment surgery or undergo any hormone treatments to compete in the sex of their choosing.
I made the grave error of expressing my opinions on my personal Facebook page. I own a small business — a food truck. I don’t know who it was, but someone (and it was a so-called “friend”) called me out and took screenshots of comments taken out of context to harm me and my business. I am still thriving since this happened in June, but not without death threats, boycotts, public shaming, etc. for me stating that it is unfair for men to compete with women because trans women are biological men and cannot change that. They have an unfair advantage. Period.