Wednesday One-Liners

Hollywood is putting on the tranface with a film adaptation of David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman. Gudbuytjane deconstructs this hot mess in a blistering critique of Cissupremacy – Hollywood style.

• New York Senate struck down same sex marriage bill, which is just fabulous because we really need grizzled white guys voting on the rights of marginalized citizens. I’ll take a hot bag of no thanks on that.

• Findings from New England Journal of Medicine study predicts fatness trumps smoking decline in terms of life expectancy. The accompanying picture is lovely.

• Meredith Baxter came out on The Today Show. Sha la la la…

ETA:

Comments to this thread are now closed. Thoughtful discussions are welcomed and encouraged at Shapely Prose. However, intellectual and/or academic masturbatory discussions of the lived experiences of marginalized folks are NOT.

The bodies of marginalized folks are not educational opportunities.

135 thoughts on “Wednesday One-Liners

  1. Mmm…fabulous! I love being told that my weight totally trumps the fact that I don’t smoke (and never have).

  2. Which is worse? The general population voting on the issues of a minority or the grizzled white “lawmakers” voting? I think in New York it would have a better chance than say, Florida, but I also thought that about Cali and look how that turned out…

    I’m dreaming of a day when Marriage is a fundamental right for EVERYONE… *sigh*

    On the other hand, thanks for the fodder for my Law Review article!

  3. so that gudbyetjane piece left with me with some pretty big questions? but I obviously don’t want to go into her space and wave my confusion around and possibly (probably) wind up being triggering and generally unpleasant without even knowing it. any recommendations for 101-type spaces, or reading on depictions of trans lives in cinema?

  4. Oh man, that study is bullshit.
    They assume that people will keep getting fatter. Evidence? There is none!
    They assume smoking rates will keep going down. Evidence? We can certainly hope this will be true, but there’s no evidence that the decline won’t level off. They admitted to both assumptions, but in that “We’re just covering our asses but you know it’s true!”
    The other thing they know to be true? That fat is bad for your health.
    Their conclusion? If everyone quit smoking and became “normal sized” (if they weren’t already), they’d gain 3.76 years of life (and almost two years that they would live anyway would be better). Okay, I really doubt that quitting smoking is bad for your health, but we all know that dieting is. And since this is an average, if 50% of people dieted, lost weight, and kept it off, as opposed to the <1% who currently do, their numbers would be much less impressive than FOUR WHOLE YEARS.

    Don't get me wrong, four years is a long time, but it's pretty pathetic to abuse science for more obesity booga booga. Plus, they completely erase the people who are fat due to medical conditions beyond their control.

  5. @Meems – me too. I wonder if obesity also outweighs the fact that I walk *everywhere I go*. Oh, wait, that’s not “exercise”, is it? I must be a Lazy Fatty Fat Fatty who is completely sedentary, since between caring for a 15 month old and trekking it to the park, the grocery store, and everywhere else during my 50-hour parenting weeks, I don’t make any time to go to the gym.

    Aaaaaand…

    From the NEJM article:

    When it comes to life expectancy, some would rather have cheesecake now than an extra few months of life years down the road.

    AAAAARGH! When will people, especially those in the medical profession, quit 1) assigning moral values to food and 2) acting like eating one piece/serving of a certain food will lead to Teh Deth Fatz!!111eleventy.

  6. I would rather have cheesecake now — if by ‘cheesecake now’ you mean ‘cheesecake at all in my life; perhaps a slice every few weeks’ — than a few months at the end of my life.

    Right?

    Cheesecake is awesome. Especially pumpkin cheesecake.

  7. oh wow, a fat black woman, smoking, in her house shoes, on a cell phone. i bet they passed up on a lot of regular ole fatty-from-the-back photos to use that gem. and then to use the sarcastic cheesecake line in the same article! way to class it up, guys.

  8. the thing about that “but you might have a few more years! and they might be better!” is that they have no. way. of. knowing. that. My grandmother lived several years longer than my grandfather–with alzheimer’s. she didn’t recognize any of us, couldn’t feed or clean herself. repeatedly asked us to kill her when she was aware of her surroundings. I would a million times rather take his stroke-and-72-hours-later dead, thanks, even if it meant it happened 3 years sooner. End-of-life care is expensive no matter what you’re dying of and we’re all gonna die. It’s not like the one alive longest gets a prize, or like you can guarantee you won’t be a “burden” on society/your children.

  9. What frosts my cupcake about the NY Senate vote is that something like what, 15 senators got up to speak in favor of the bill, and they gave such cogent and reasonable explanations why they would vote yes. And one senator spoke to explain his no vote. ONE!

    In other words, the rest of the no voters were fucking cowards who knew they couldn’t defend their bigotry and failure to do the right thing. They should never fucking hear the end of it. Totally shameful.

  10. I’m chronically ill, so even if I thought I had a chance of reaching really old age, I wouldn’t really want to, as the level of debility would certainly be too great for me to live pleasantly. Plus, unlike the asshats who do these studies, I don’t fear death or make it out to be some great tragedy to be staved off at all costs; based on the accounts of people who have died and then been revived, it sounds pretty awesome, frankly. What sad, shallow little lives these ‘scientists’ seem to lead; perhaps they should spend more of their ‘research’ time trying to make peace with the cycles of nature.

    Also, this apparently means I get to have (tofu-) cheesecake now, and that is also awesome.

  11. Um…..just a thought…..but don’t most ex-smokers put on a few pounds after they quit? So….like….aren’t they contributing to the obesity epidemic too?
    *tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek*

    Smoke em if you got em folks. I can’t do anything right! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Enjoy the cheesecake too! I made a killer homemade New York cheesecake last week. I’ll be dead tomorrow….but that cheesecake was GOOOOOOOOD!

  12. I remember getting a brochure in elementary school with Brooke Shields on the front, back when she advertised tight jeans instead of prescription eyelash enhancer. She had a cigarette sticking out of each ear, and the tag line was something like, “They look just as stupid in your mouth.” Inside was the “fact” that each cigarette takes 14 minutes off of your life. Around the same time – 10 or 11 years old – I was trying my first cigarette with two sisters who lived on my block, one of whom had stolen it from her mother. We procured some matches from somewhere and one of the girls knew how to light them – not me. The three of us shared the cigarette and were completely unaware that the coughing we were doing meant we weren’t really getting any smoke in our lungs. I remember thinking that since I had less than a third of it, I lost three or four minutes at the end of my life and it was probably worth it to find out what smoking was all about.

    So you can get an 11-year-old to believe that crap. Twenty-five years later, I sincerely doubt that the pumpkin pie I had tonight is going to cost me another four minutes, let alone four months. And if it did, it was totally worth it. Nom nom nom.

  13. I think this means that heroin is good for you. Think about it: heroin suppresses your appetite even more than cigarettes, and many heroin addicts are super thin. This must cancel out all the adverse health consequences of heroin. So, we should all start shooting up. And then we won’t want any pie.

  14. I live in NY State, where our legislators’ motto appears to be “If we can tax it and make money off it, then vote FOR it!” so I am bemused at their missing some revenue generation angle on the same sex marriage issue. Seriously, this state is so f*ed up that I am not surprised at their little morality play here. People should have the right to marry and all of the perks (and, alas, heartaches too) that go with it. Stuff it, NY Legislature.

    Oh, and Merideth Baxter? Yum.

  15. @ Sara l

    Questioning Transphobia could be a good place to start. It’s not Trans 101 but it has trans people talking about their own lives (rather than cis people doing the equivalent of mansplaining) and has links to other trans people’s blogs.

  16. @Nightgigjo, that quote was what killed me, too. The author of the article said that, of course, and not the researchers, which basically killed any potential (not much) of the article knowing what the hell it was talking about (research aside).

    Although honestly, I would’ve liked to know more about the study itself. Considering higher rates of smoking are probably correlated with a thinner population, and I’m not sure they corrected for that, where are they getting their numbers from? They couldn’t have just crunched a few numbers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It MUST have been more complicated than that. The researcher himself didn’t sound completely clueless, either, so I’d like to think he’s not some pro-smoking anti-fatty with an agenda or anything. I want to know more about their methodology. Of course, the article was too busy making baseless generalizations like “one piece of cheesecake will shave off months of your life” (WTF????) than actually comprehending the research in question.

    To PubMed!

  17. Let’s not forget that the NYS legislature is legendary for batshit. Just this past summer the Republicans attempted an honest-to-Maude coup by convincing two Democrats (both of whom were under investigation for different things, IIRC) to defect. The Dems literally were locking the others out of the chamber to try and prevent it (all because Tom Golisano apparently thinks being rich means he ought to own the state government or something).

    Also we discovered when the Democrats won the majority for the first time since the Pliestocine that the Republicans were so blatantly corrupt they had built their own production studio, were blowing enormous amounts of taxpayer money on party-related stuff including support for elections, and so on.

    Why anyone thought these shmucks were going to do the right thing has always been beyond me.

    DRST
    Former New Yorker

  18. Re: Evil bigots in NYS senate.

    I’m spreading around a little ray of good news that happened yesterday. Four of my friends (two couples), having anticipated that evil grizzled bigots in the NYS senate would vote this down, drove to Vermont yesterday and got married. Which NYS recognizes.

    Take that evil grizzled bigots!! Love triumphs.

  19. The photo that accompanies the article in the L.A. Times about the NEJM article is just awful.
    I have just come from a vacation in L.A., visiting family and friends, and I think that picture really sums up how the L.A. Times views its audience as the opposite of that picture. I love that it’s a slightly fat headless person of color smoking and wearing f*cking socks and slippers with shorts. Not only will smoking or being even slightly fat take seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks or years off of your life, it will make you unstylish and lazy. And you’ll be walking on the street. Which you should never do in L.A. unless you are doing it wearing the trendiest possible fitness clothes and listening to an ipod. Walking is not for actual transportation, you use your Hummer or Infinity or Beemer for that.
    I did experience nice weather, though, and went to a really great dance group on Sunday morning in Culver City that made me think, for just a few minutes, that it might be possible to move back, if I had to.
    WRT2
    Former Angeleno

  20. “Although, you know … I *would* rather have cheesecake than a few extra months of life. But then, there’s nothing like a painful and incurable chronic illness to take the bloom off the Fantasy of Perfect Health in Immortality.”

    @Eucritta: thank you for saying so succinctly what I have been feeling the past year as I’ve been diagnosed with conditions that may be treatable, or may just leave me a DeathFattie with a significantly shorter life span than originally planned (although with tastier food as I say a big FU to the calorie and food restriction police).

  21. I’ve been gone from this space for a while, but can I just say how cool it is that snarkysmachine appears to have joined the masthead? I always enjoy reading your stuff in comments and I look forward to your posts!

  22. Walking is not for actual transportation, you use your Hummer or Infinity or Beemer for that.

    I lived in Los Angeles for a nearly a decade (on an off) and it was so annoying that a place so GORGEOUS was so inhospitable to walking.

  23. sara l.,

    Questioning Transphobia is a very good general trans blog that I highly recommend (and has a specific post on cinema at http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/a-brief-thought/), More specifically, Nix Williams has a post on cissexism in criticism of “Boys Don’t Cry” (http://nixwilliams.blogspot.com/2008/10/cissexism-in-criticisms-of-boys-dont.html), and Helen G has a post on the depiction of trans women as killers in cinema (http://birdofparadox.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/psycho-killer-quest-ce-que-cest/).

    Also, I don’t know what questions you might have or whether I’d have answers, but you’re welcome to ask me if you’d like. I’m not the lord sovereign of all trans people, and I can’t speak for all trans people, but I am a trans person and can speak from a (not the!) trans perspective.

    snarksmachine,
    You’ve, like, doubled the number of posts at Shapely Prose here that mention trans issues. :) I’ve been enjoying your posts in general, as well, and wanted to thank you for writing for all of us.

  24. I have one thing to say about the marriage thing: SINCE WHEN did the United States government let the mob (or representatives of the mob) VOTE on on rights AT ALL, EVER?

    I seem to remember, oh, I dunno, learning in my state-mandated education or something that we voted on policy, and the Supreme Court was there to secure rights. Yes?

    *crickets*

    Apparently, I’m wrong.

    This whole thing pisses me off to no end. Same-sex couples deserve to get married. Period. I’m so irritated with Americans that we’re still debating this.

  25. I lived in Los Angeles for a nearly a decade (on an off) and it was so annoying that a place so GORGEOUS was so inhospitable to walking.

    And it wasn’t always that way, either – not there, or up here in northern California. General Motors went out of its way in the 1940s to destroy California’s transit systems.

    Which is why whenever I hear someone pontificating on how we don’t have good public transit because all us folks in the US are too lazy, foolish and selfish to know what’s good for us, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Damn, I wish more people would learn some history, before they shot off at the mouth.

  26. I lived in Los Angeles for a nearly a decade (on an off) and it was so annoying that a place so GORGEOUS was so inhospitable to walking.

    I never lived there, but the first time I visited, that was the number one thing I took away from the trip. I stupidly stayed downtown, about a mile from the convention center where the trade show I was there for was happening, thinking, “Oh, I can just walk to the show every day, and then I’ll be able to walk around and find restaurants and bars near my hotel or the convention center…” Yeahno. The only thing near my hotel was a gas station/convenience store, and the one time I tried walking there, I got just close enough to determine that there seemed to be a robbery in progress. I ended up taking a lot of cabs on that trip.

    Every now and then, I consider moving out of a major city (that is, one that didn’t completely develop alongside America’s newfound fascination with the automobile), but the lack of walkability (not to mention public transportation) would kill me, I think.

  27. Kate, you made the right choice. When I used to walk from West LA to Santa Monica buses would try to pick me up and at intersections dudes in cars assumed I was hooking. It never occurred to folks I was just out walking because I wanted to.

  28. Which is why whenever I hear someone pontificating on how we don’t have good public transit because all us folks in the US are too lazy, foolish and selfish to know what’s good for us, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Damn, I wish more people would learn some history, before they shot off at the mouth.

    Public transit is definitely a class issues in Los Angeles. People make some pretty problematic assumptions about folks who use public transit.

    Carless in LA

    Kristina Wong has been writing a lot about this issue. She’s hilarious. I think she even had a write up in the LA Times.

  29. I’m assuming this can be used as a sort of open-thread jumping-off-point, from some of the comments I see here? If not, mods, sorry and please feel free to delete my comment.

    I need advice about a good friend of mine who is overweight. I spend a lot of time talking to her about her body and other insecurities, trying to convince her that she’s beautiful and desirable and a wonderful person. I talk to her for hours trying to calm her fears about how guys will never want her and trying to tell her that she’s beautiful the way she is (she constantly repeats that she needs to diet).

    I don’t mean to make myself sound angelic, because I’m obviously not, and it’s hypocritical of me to say those things to her because I have terrible body image myself, even though I’m “conventionally” skinny. I used to have severe anorexia/bulimia/other bizarre forms of eating disorders, and she is one of the only people who knows about them.

    First of all, her constant diet and exercise talk is a constant trigger for me. Recently she’s also begun to joke with other people about how I never eat anything, am underweight, and must be anorexic. I try to stay healthy, and HONESTLY am not on any diet at all right now–I’m done with all that. I find her comments really hurtful, especially since she knows I used to struggle with anorexia. How can I approach her about these things without hurting her feelings/exacerbating her weight issues? I really do care about her and know that she would be so much better off (and healthier) not constantly thinking about how much she weighs.

  30. Annalynn – I think that the only thing you can do is give her the information and hope she uses it. I can speak from personal experience that all my skinny friends telling me I was really beautiful did less than nothing for me when I believed I was horrendously fat and ugly. You should tell her firmly that her talk is harming you, however. I know I’m looking at this through my own personal lens, but if one of my friends told me my fat-shaming (or “I hate you for being skinny”) talk was hurting them, I would feel bad and make a significant effort to not do it around them. I might feel some negative feelings toward myself as well, but I think that having someone who is a “diet talk free zone” person will actually help her in the long run.

    If you haven’t sent her links to SP (especially TFoBT and the BMI project, I know those were a HUGE eye opener for me), then I suggest that as a first step. Maybe with a “hey look at all these awesome fat ladies who can be awesome AND fat AND smart” tagline or something.

    Obviously, you know your friend better than any of us, so take any of our advice with a grain of salt and think about how it might work for her. I know my best friend has been unhappy with me for many years about my negative self-image, but it was something she was willing to endure for my sake (she does not have a history of eating disorders, however, so it wasn’t triggering for her). When I finally embraced FA, she was ecstatic for me. She would’ve been happy for me if I’d ended up dieting and liking myself too, because all she cared about was my being happy (although I’m glad I didn’t go that route, because the inevitable crash and re-gain might’ve set me back years of self-esteem work). You need to figure out how far you’re willing to invest yourself in this. If this is harming you, maybe distancing yourself is the best option. You’re the only one who can determine what will work here.

  31. Wow Annalynn – this is a tricky one for you. To be blunt, your first priority need to be yourself. If she is a trigger for you, then contemplate how much you should be around her. You can’t fix another person if you yourself are vulnerable too – I know you aren’t out to “fix” her, but obviously you want to help her. I completely understand your situation and how complex it must seem, but really I feel your first priority is you. Also, if your friend is starting to “shame” you in public, by mentioning “how you must be anorexic” and so on, then try to see that she is abusing your trust and using you to boost her own self-esteem. If you were to call her fat and agree with her negative self-talk, she would understandably be mortified and hurt, but she is effectively breaking your trust and friendship too.
    Sometimes when we have someone else’s very best interests at heart we can become blind to seeing them as a whole. I feel you should be at least aware that maybe you are being put on a little.
    You need to let her know that diet and fat talk is basically off limits for you now. You want to hear other things and talk about other things and move forward, and if she can’t respect that then you may need to step away a little. A friend with your very best interests at heart would respect that, and if she can’t, you may need to look after yourself and have a little distance form her for a while. Go easy on yourself – leaving your past patterns behind is very tough.

  32. I am about to lose it on the headless “fatty” issue. Last night I happened to watch a segment on the local LA news about physically unfit school children. They made a point of showing several headless pictures of supposedly unfit students, all of them girls. They were average-sized girls of approximately 10-12 years old who happened to be bigger than some of the other students because–surprise!!–girls mature faster than boys. They were not fat; they were simply in that stage where they were physically more mature than some of their classmates. Because they still needed to wear school uniforms, as students must in Los Angeles public schools through middle school, they had not yet adopted the teen porn star look. So they were physically mature girls not dressed sexily. Public health crisis alert!!

    Then the segment showed examples of physically fit children–all boys– running, playing sports and benefiting from the extra funding and attention male sports receive in our schools.

    How is it o.k. to portray children this way on television? Pretty creepy to be examining and comparing their bodies this way, headless or not.

  33. I read the Gudbuytjane link in full and the link she dropped in that post to Fact Check Me called “Sorry Sex-Positive Transwomen. I’m not buying what you’re selling. At all.” and am just really…appalled by the Fact Check Me post and the subsequent comments.

    “Transface” – and the concurrent disappearance and co-opting of trans people’s experiences that it causes – really bothers me, but I didn’t stop to think about it until I read through Gudbuytjane’s post. (I’m cisgendered; my privilege at seeing people somewhat “like me” portrayed on screen: let me show you it). Thank you for providing that link.

  34. piny- I think William S. Burroughs attributed his longevity to a lifelong heroin habit.

    Annalynn- You have a right to set your boundaries in a place that makes you comfortable. It seems that you are conflicted because you have found something great and want to share it, but your friend’s poor reception is frustrating you and all of the diet talk is triggering.

    If this were my relationship, I would take a couple of steps back and try to figure out why convincing this person is so important to me and whether I was doing it for her or for myself. Also, while I would not justify her inappropriate behavior, it sounds like she might be responding to y’all’s conversations defensively, she might feel like you are trying to destroy her fantasy of being thin when it is still very important and lovely to her.

  35. Not thrilled about the use of the tern ‘bullying’ to describe Perez Hilton’s tactics of getting celebrities to come out of the closet. Some, though not all, members of the LGBT community think its a necessary tactic. Silence is complicity with the status quo.

  36. I lived in L.A for nearly a decade and, yes, when I walked, people would stare or guys in cars would ask me how much.
    And if you’re in L.A (or, to a lesser extent, Manhattan, where I lived for 5 years) and you have any fat on your body, wear anything other than the latest celebutante-designed gear, or drive a car that costs less than the gnp of a small country, forget it! You are unworthy! You are stupid, slovenly, ignorant, and just plain cruel for making the beautiful people have to see you in public! And you DEFINITELY don’t read the L.A. Times! ‘Cause, y’know, you’re illiterate!
    Oy.
    And as for the general population being too lazy to take public transpo or walk? Well, it’d be a helluva lot easier if we had SIDEWALKS to walk on and if cities would stop cutting bus and train lines, hours of operation, numbers of drivers, etc. and prolonging wait times. Especially in dark, deserted areas where women have to wait alone, by ourselves.

  37. Not thrilled about the use of the tern ‘bullying’ to describe Perez Hilton’s tactics of getting celebrities to come out of the closet. Some, though not all, members of the LGBT community think its a necessary tactic. Silence is complicity with the status quo.

    I stand by it. I, too, think it’s incredibly important for celebrities to come out, but I also don’t think anyone has a right to make that decision for another person.

  38. Pinky, I was at a grade-school science fair yesterday (6-7-8 grades) and it was interesting to see the assumptions they were testing with their experiments. One boy, whose project was on lung capacity, wanted to see if there was a difference between boys and girls. He hypothesized that boys would have a greater lung capacity, on average, than girls, because boys are so much more active and play sports. Sigh. As it happens, his data did bear out his hypothesis about lung capacity. Too bad he had that sexist assumption in his hypothesis as well. There could be any number of reasons why boys’ lung capacity was greater, and he didn’t test or control for any of them.

    Another student, a girl, had the hypothesis that boys and girls would have different kinds of fingerprints (whorls, arches, etc.). I thought it was amazing to hear that she thought that would be true; it’s like boy/girl essentialist differences are pounded into kids so much by our culture that some kids almost think of male and female as different species. I’m glad she found that there was no statistically significant gender-related difference in the frequency of fingerprint patterns. I think she found it interesting, too, and I asked her some questions that might make her think about other assumptions she might have about boys and girls.

  39. On smoking versus cheesecake: I’m finishing up an MPH in epidemiology, and we did a lot of talking (and I did a lot of tongue biting) about obesity in chronic disease classes. Here’s a really important concept I picked up – that of “safe exposure”. There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke, it is poisonous. There is sub-deadly exposure, but no safe exposure. Food, on the other hand is not inherently toxic (unless it has been poisoned, I’m looking at you food industry). There is certainly a safe level of exposure to cheesecake.

    It makes me hang my head in shame when someone in my field comes out with nonsense like comparing sweet, delicious, calcium & protein laden cheesecake with the sweet delicious toxic fumes of camel menthols.

  40. There is certainly a safe level of exposure to cheesecake.

    Sub-Deadly Cheesecake Exposure is now the name of my imaginary fetus.

  41. Argh argh argh. All these are maddening. I’m currently unfortunately engaged in a “debate” (laughable term for it, but the best I can think of in my rage-addled state) with some woman who claims that I am really fat because I’m lazy (this all came out of some asshole’s comment about how poor people would be less fat if they just exercised, as the general discussion was about poverty), because SHE lost 80 lbs and has kept it off for 7 years, so obviously I must just not want to put in the work to lose that weight. I tried to point out that she’s a statistical outlier, but I suspect she will ask for documentation, so if anyone has that on hand (I really can’t afford to spend the next three hours lost in my links folder, I have a lot of cleaning to do) I’d appreciate it. I’m trying to figure out if it’s time for me to disengage or not. For my sanity it probably is, but my pride insists on a smackdown.

    I’m really angry about this. Angry because it’s been a while since I presented my FA side to a general forum and gotten this response. Angry because of all the assumptions she’s making about me. Angry because shit like that LA Times article exists, and people like her agree with it.

  42. fatsmartchick,

    “Not thrilled about the use of the tern ‘bullying’ to describe Perez Hilton’s tactics of getting celebrities to come out of the closet. Some, though not all, members of the LGBT community think its a necessary tactic. Silence is complicity with the status quo.”

    Count me as one of those who thinks it’s not. Involuntarily outing others, even celebrities, is despicable.

  43. Well, I wasn’t going to link this, but after HiddenToru’s last … here ’tis [poss. trigger warning]: Subway Guy Jared Fogle’s weight gain.

    Now, here’s someone who devoted his life to weight loss, made a career of it, has all the motivation in the world and kept it off for a long time … and yet, and yet.

    The article ends wishing that he’ll lose it again. Myself, I just hope that whatever he does, he’s at peace with himself.

  44. Thanks so much for the advice, guys. I really appreciate it. I will try talking to her and setting some boundaries. :)

  45. Annalynn – I might try saying something like this: “You know how much it hurts me when you put yourself down, because I know how wonderful/beautiful/smart etc. you are. I know it’s hard for you to believe that and I hope one day you will. But in the meantime, if you can’t stop putting yourself down for your own sake, please try to know that it is very hurtful triggering for me and makes it hard to maintain our friendship, which is so important to me.” As has been discussed here before, women are encouraged to see self-deprecation as harmless or a way to bond, and it can be illuminating for us to realize how tied up it is with insulting others.

  46. Do they actually have hard data — you know, numbers, which is what a “study” is supposed to have in it — comparing the longevity of former fatties to that of current fatties? Because if they do, and all I get out of it is four extra months in some craptastic institution, I’m not exactly panting to start my next diet. Thing is, they don’t even have THAT. All they have is conjecture, the same kind that said everyone on earth would have polio by now back in the 1940s. And wow, if you lose 55 pounds, you can give up your wheelchair?!? Does that mean that if Dr. Whozis had liposucked those 55 pounds away, it would have had the same effect?

  47. “Not thrilled about the use of the tern ‘bullying’ to describe Perez Hilton’s tactics of getting celebrities to come out of the closet. Some, though not all, members of the LGBT community think its a necessary tactic. Silence is complicity with the status quo.”

    You know, I’m not thrilled about the use of that term either. I don’t think it’s strong enough, I think terrorizing would be a better term actually. And in the end, forcing someone to come out of the closet is far more hurtful to the movement than staying in the closet. The message forcing someone out sends is that it’s such a horrible thing that people want to hide it, when really it’s just people wanting everyone else to mind their own fucking business. Did I go to Perez Hilton’s house when he was a teenager and out him to his family? Would that have been acceptable? Him staying in the closet was complicity with the status quo.

    Your agenda is not more important than someone’s right to privacy.

  48. Not thrilled about the use of the tern ‘bullying’ to describe Perez Hilton’s tactics of getting celebrities to come out of the closet. Some, though not all, members of the LGBT community think its a necessary tactic. Silence is complicity with the status quo

    It was my understanding (and memory from living in LA) that Ms. Baxter was fairly out among community members and within Hollywood, but wasn’t like going on every talk show dishing her love life. Even when she was marrying/divorcing David Birney she was very private about the matter. In fact it seemed like one day she was “Meredith Baxter-Birney” and the next day she was simply Meredith Baxter, all without fanfare or calling a press conference.

    Besides most of those celebs PH claims to have DRAGGED kicking and screaming out of the closet weren’t exactly HIDING the fact they were gay. There is a total difference between denying one’s sexuality and finding a level of comfort in disclosing that works for you.

    I mean, I knew Neil Patrick Harris was gay and figured everyone else did and didn’t think it was worth writing home about.

    This is not some kind of Raymond Burr situation, though again, it seems he was private, but not necessarily closeted. Hmmm. Actually, I can’t think of a single celeb who is totally closeted (even within Hollywood), of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just because the general public isn’t informed of a star’s sexual orientation, one shouldn’t assume they are closeted.

  49. Forced outing is just wrong. It’s wonderful when people come out, and when celebrities come out, it’s good for even more people, but being forced out of the closet can only cause harm, and it gives the message that being gay is something to be hidden.

  50. I read the Gudbuytjane link in full and the link she dropped in that post to Fact Check Me called “Sorry Sex-Positive Transwomen. I’m not buying what you’re selling. At all.” and am just really…appalled by the Fact Check Me post and the subsequent comments

    Yep. It was like watch a trainwreck – I wanted to look away, but I just couldn’t.

    I’m a bi-leaning-toward-homosexual trans man – I don’t exist in their world, I think.

    Oh – cis-privilege: you don’t have to worry about a judge severing your parental rights despite all other evidence that you’re not a bad parent. Just to throw an example out there.

  51. Length of life v. quality of life is a big issue now that people are living so much longer. I have an uncle who’s always been the ‘bad fatty’ of the family – one of two of my paternal uncles with type 2 diabetes, he was the one who was always getting warned by his doctor that if he didn’t lose weight and especially, stop spending so much time in the pub, he’d suffer blindness, amputations, yada yada…He didn’t suffer any of those, but he did live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s. He’s in a nursing home, doesn’t recognize anyone any more, and doesn’t even know that his wife’s already died. (I suppose they’d now say that fat is also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, but I have a thin uncle on the other side of the family in much the same situation. You can talk about ‘risk factors’ till you’re blue in the face, but the reality is, we still can’t reliably predict who will go with what, how soon, and how quickly.)

    Rosemary Riveter, for ‘lab tech week’ last year our lab had a baking contest…my section, pathology, won with our placenta cake. Basically, red velvet cake with a covering of jello. It looked extremely realistic and tasted OK, considering the colleague who based it had to tweak the recipe to get it to remain flat enough (it ended up with a little less sugar than normal, I think). The microbiology ladies made a fondant-iced gardenerella-shaped cake, which I personally thought was way cuter. You really had to be there.

  52. I don’t think anyone has the right to make decisions about “outing” for anyone else, either. But I admit that after hearing Kirby Dick discuss “Outraged” on Fresh Air (haven’t seen the film yet), I find myself responding with a different level of horror when a celebrity is outed (for entertainment, titilation, or strictly voyueristic reasons) vs. when a closeted politician is outed to reveal hypocracy (i.e. Larry Craig), like proposing/voting for legislation that has infringed on others’ personal rights. On a human and strictly compassionate level, I don’t see a difference, but emotionally I do respond to it differently.

  53. Anita,

    “‘There is certainly a safe level of exposure to cheesecake.’

    Sub-Deadly Cheesecake Exposure is now the name of my imaginary fetus.”

    Can I use Sub-Deadly Cheesecake Exposure for the name of my imaginary band? :)

  54. Emerald, one of my work colleagues makes chlamydia cookies every year for her students. There oughta be a blog for science/math geek cooking. Like the pecan pie dodecadedrons. Mmm, pecan pie.

    I think outing other people isn’t okay, even when they’re politicians. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up in a pretty conservative church, and I identify as polysexual, and my mom’s gay, and I have another close, probably closeted relative. My adolescence and early college years were very, very hard, because I’d internalized a lot of the messages, and I totally understand how you can be queer and still believe that queer people are going to hell. I have tremendous sympathy for queer people in the religious right, even those in positions of power. Now, there’s no doubt that some pastors and many politicians milk the gay!panic for attention and votes – that’s evil. But I think it’s really easy to overlook the genuine despair of gay people in the far right. And certainly the most hateful pastors contribute to that, whether they’re closeted or straight. But the sort of public humiliation that goes on, and the private behind-doors shaming and ostracization, is NOT an improvement. It is not going to make one gay kid in that church feel safer or more confident in themselves. It only underscores the message that being gay undermines everything else – that it is your sole identity, and once known, nothing else you might do with your life holds significant meaning.

    Besides, it’s not like it’s impossible to be part of a group and actively advocate for legislation the rest of the group considers ill-advised or damaging or outright wrong. It doesn’t make you a bad person or even a hypocrite to be gay and think that gay marriage isn’t right. It’s an unexpected position, but there’s plenty of ways you might get there. (I do think many of these ways are intellectually dishonest, but that’s humanity for you – we’re not a consistent bunch.)

  55. Just for the record, when I said “I stand by it” above, that’s because I was confused about 1) Which thread I was in, and 2) Whether I had used the word “bullying” in my piece on Meredith Baxter. (I did in one draft, but not in the published one.) So I thought that was aimed at me, even though I didn’t actually use that word, and we weren’t talking about my post (which is linked in the other active thread) anyway. And it took me a whole day to realize that. Oops!

    But yes, for all of the reasons people have expressed eloquently above, if I had used the word “bullying,” and we had actually been talking about me? I’d stand by it.

  56. There is a total difference between denying one’s sexuality and finding a level of comfort in disclosing that works for you.

    Yes. So I’m gay and in a poly relationship with two women. There are times when I am completely obvious and open about it (gay clubs, our house, friends’ houses, nice pubs) and places where I FUCKING AM NOT (anywhere that doesn’t feel safe) and places in between (some pubs, the subway depending who’s on it/the atmosphere in the car, most public places). At work everyone knows I’m gay and some people know I have two girlfriends, and I don’t mind if the rest of them find out, but I am not going to a) announce it to the gathered staff or b) mention it in front of customers because I don’t want that level of exposure. No one has the right to tell me that I should want that kind of exposure, that it “harms the movement” if I don’t, or that they have the right to “out” me for me.

    What PH does is bullying. If these people are in the closet they have a reason for it. And you only have to look round yourself in Western society to see why! You can still be fired for being gay in how many states, remind me? I know it’s in the 30s.

    Having said that, when it comes to people who stay in the closet while speaking out/voting against rights for others, you can out those people for the rest of your life and I won’t say anything against it. I don’t care if that’s contradictory; if you are going to cause/encourage terror and harm and discrimination against people who don’t have the privileges you do that allow you to avoid most of what you’re creating for them, then fuck you. See also: anti-choice women who use their wealth to get the speedy safe abortion they are actively trying to prevent others accessing, then go back to the picket lines. There is so much wrong with that.

  57. Also, re: outing, I can’t help but remember the whole “Tranny Alert” evilness when I think of outing. What if you out a trans person whose partner doesn’t KNOW that he, she, or ze is trans? That could have deadly consequences. God, especially when a Large Feminist Blog That I Refuse To Name had heaps and heaps of commenters who very seriously argued that trans people who have sex with cis people without beforehand stating that they’re trans are RAPING their sex partners.

    Mind you, these are people who at least make a pretense of believing they’re not transphobic jerks. What about people who openly and unashamedly believe that trans people aren’t even really human?

    Nobody owes it to me, or “the movement,” or to anybody, to martyr themselves for the cause; and nobody knows for sure what the consequences, miniscule or large, will be of involuntarily outing another. If you believe it’s important to be out? That’s great. YOU be out. YOU stand up for the cause. That’s what I do, and I’m happy to do it–but I will never, ever ask anyone else to make that same choice, and I certainly wouldn’t force someone into that choice.

  58. Agreed, Anita. I don’t think it’s ok, either. I was just making note of the fact that the one type of outing triggers compassion/empathy/dismay as a response for me reflexively. But in the case where someone has actively worked to make life more difficult for people I love–preventing their marriages, for example–it takes a moment for me to muster the same kind of compassion.

  59. Just Some Trans Guy,

    I remember the thread you’re referring to; I used to be a daily reader, but I was so appalled that I almost never go there now. Beyond horrifying.

  60. @snarky;
    I am somewhat confused by your most recent post and I read it as supporting a position opposite to what I would have thought.

    I have to admit that I’m confused by the idea that we (any outsiders) would know of a public figure who was LGBTQIA, but “totally closeted”. Wouldn’t someone who was ‘totally closeted’ by definition be unknown to anyone not directly in the defined safe space of said celebrity/public figure? I don’t know what to make of this.

    The post seemed to be almost justifying the actions of those who, like PH, decide to “out” others, on the basis that said other’s are some how OBVIOUSLY or “known to be” LGBTQIA. To my mind you can’t actually know someone’s sexual orientation unless or until you encounter something from them that self-identifies. Someone else “setting off your gaydar”, even if subsequent events prove it to be true, does not constitute knowledge. And just because someone isn’t hiding their sexual identity or isn’t “totally closeted”, doesn’t mean that it’s ok for anyone but them to decide how and to whom said self-identity should be revealed.

    I’m sorry if I misconstrued your intention, but this post eluded me, somehow.

  61. I always had a big crush on Meredith Baxter, so the idea that she is now enjoying happy lady-sexings makes me smile.

  62. Kate I didn’t know who wrote it. I just picked up on that choice of words and mentioned it.

    Oh, that’s fine. I just felt a compulsive need to clarify in case anyone read my response to you and went, “Buh?”

  63. The point of my comment wasn’t necessarily about debating whether or not outing is okay. I just felt that it needed to be pointed out that the gay community’s stance on outting is complex and varied. I should have also mentioned that Perez Hilton is a johnny come lately when it comes to outting. The issue gained signifigance with Michael Signorelli in the early nineties after the death of Malcom Forbes. In that case Forbes wasn’t going to come back from the dead and be gay bashed or fired.

    Signorelli’s focus was on politicians and public figures. It was NEVER about outting average Joe/Jo Schmoes. And it wasn’t even about dragging people out of the closet. It was about putting the love lives/scandals of GLB individuals on the the same plane as straight people on Page 6 and the like.

    Frankly, I think some of the comments infantalizes gay people. If you’re a celebrity and you’re out with your bitch at Meow Mix, then guess what..you chose to make your sexuality known. Don’t come crying when Perez Hilton calls you out on it while you’re trying to pass as a straight person….*cough* Queen Latifah

    Furthermore, do you honestly think we should care about the privacy of people like Matt Drudge because his little fascist feelings were hurt by rumors he is gay…or Larry Craig…or Ted Haggard or (Vitter the Shitter’s proclivity for chicks diapering him while waging a holy war on gays and women)??? Come on. They need to be outted.

  64. Furthermore, do you honestly think we should care about the privacy of people like Matt Drudge because his little fascist feelings were hurt by rumors he is gay…or Larry Craig…or Ted Haggard or (Vitter the Shitter’s proclivity for chicks diapering him while waging a holy war on gays and women)??? Come on. They need to be outted.

    Really? Doesn’t that kinda reinforce the idea that homosexuality is shameful, to use it as a weapon against people you don’t like, while not outing those that you do?

  65. Grafton its more about exposing hypocrisy.

    Its similar to an above poster who used the term ‘despicable’ in reference to outting. Really, calling a lesbian a lesbian is despicable?

  66. Amazingly, you don’t get to use someone’s personal life against them when arguing against their politics. I always remember Ad hominem arguments by thinking “Oh those are the arguments where they advertise that the other person is a homo.” Argue with their ideas, don’t bring their personal life into it. And for the record, it doesn’t matter if the person is dead outing them isn’t really better, because maybe they didn’t want to be remembered as gay or had their name thrown around in political arguments. That may annoy you, you may think it’s wrong, but it’s their life and their sexual preference whether it’s just homosexuality or if they like to wear diapers.

    I have to also loudly second what Grafton said.

  67. fatsmartchick,

    “Its similar to an above poster who used the term ‘despicable’ in reference to outting. Really, calling a lesbian a lesbian is despicable?”

    That was me. Hi. And no, calling a lesbian a lesbian isn’t despicable. Revealing personal information about someone else’s love and/or sexual life, without that person’s consent, is despicable. People have (or should–pragmatically, people don’t) have the right to privacy, even if they use that privacy to act in hypocritical or even immoral ways.

  68. @fatsmartchick;
    If one exposes hypocracy by employing it, you’ve lost the moral argument, don’t you think? To the extent that we believe that privacy is a human right, and that being the agent of how and to whom we each present any and all aspects of our identities is a human right, it is hypocracy to violate those rights, full stop. I believe that privacy and autonomy are both human rights.

    I cannot agree with you that appearing in public in a certain manner is de-facto the same thing as publicly declaring your sexual preference(s). Having a widely known face is not the same as relinquishing ones human rights, and treating the latter as a natural consequence of the former is bogus. Yes, it’s done all the time, but that clearly does not make it right (duh truck). To the extent that we participate in that kind of cultural practice, we are acting as part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  69. Perez Hilton dishes about celebrities, including their love lives. Is it more “dispiciable” if that celebrity’s love life includes closeted gay relationships then if it includes closted heterosexual ones?

    I am sincerely curious as someone whom is not directly affected by the issue. If the question is offensive in any way, I apologize in advance.

    I tend to think it is equally dispicable for him to talk about Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship as it is for him to talk about Queen Latifah’s.

    No more, no less.

  70. MCM that’s the exact idea that Signorelli was pushing when the whole ‘outing’ controversy came about.

  71. Grafton its more about exposing hypocrisy.

    Hypocrisy, I understand, is defined as “The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess,” and is thus not the same as simply hating aspects of oneself. Though how one could determine that a person is doing one or the other while not actually being that person is beyond me.

  72. I tend to think it is equally dispicable for him to talk about Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s relationship as it is for him to talk about Queen Latifah’s.

    No more, no less.

    Sure, because we all know that homosexuality and heterosexuality are tots treated the same these days, and have no impact on your career or how fans perceive you or how you’re branded or whether there’s debate about your suitability for certain roles, and being outed as being in a straight relationship has exactly the same splashy impact as being outed as being gay or in a same-sex relationship. (Bisexuals are, of course, non-existent.) Nor will groups boycott you, nor will you inevitably end up in Letterman punchlines.

    Also, there’s absolutely no increased chance of bodily harm just because you’re gay (or people think you are)!

    I think it’s equally wrong to talk about a straight out person’s relationship as an out gay person’s relationship, but it’s more wrong to out someone in addition to discussing their relationship.

  73. Why is sexual orientation a private thing? The only answer I can think of is heterosexism.
    A person who is not heterosexual, who is defaulted to heterosexual based on an assumption of heteronormativity, has to reveal their sexuality to others. That sexuality is inherently private, and must be externalized and declared to others to shake the mantle of assumed heterosexuality. There is risk in doing this, because heterosexuality is not only expected but preferred.
    When a person is heterosexual, heteronormativity works in their favor. A heterosexual person declaring their heterosexuality to the world is so in line with heteronormative expectations of sexuality as to seem redundant. A person’s heterosexuality is not private (though the details of their sexuality still are). There is no risk in declaring heterosexuality.

    I think the problem is assuming that everyone is straight, and that evidence to the contrary is some terrible secret. People should be allowed to be out without negative consequences. Sharing or even speculating about another person’s sexual orientation should be a neutral thing.
    Which isn’t to say that privacy isn’t an issue at all for GLBTQQIA (etc.) people in the real world, because it really is. But the root of the problem isn’t that their privacy isn’t respected, but that they are punished when that privacy is relaxed.

    @mcm
    Robert Pattinson is Straight would be a pretty stupid headline for talking about that relationship, wouldn’t it?

    @Grafton
    Ted Haggard in particular advocated against gay marriage and homosexuality while seeing a male escort/prostitute for several years. The escort made the decision to out Haggard after learning who he was and what he stood for. He said, “I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he’s preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody’s back [he's] doing what he’s preached against.”

  74. Puffalo, yeah, in an ideal world everyone would be allowed to be open about their sexuality. The reason why most people hide their sexual orientation is because of heterosexism, but I’m not seeing your point. We don’t like in an ideal world, there is heterosexism so people want to keep being gay a secret. You can’t go, “Well it’s all the fault of heterosexism that you’re hiding this, so it’s ok that I’m outing you.” The fact that anti gay sentiment exists in our society doesn’t change the argument anyone is making. People will react often badly to someone coming out, so they should have their privacy respected so they can avoid that if they aren’t as strong as all the people who can bring themselves to be out in a cruel gay hating world. Privacy and heterosexism are both factors, and are often combined with people who hate gays trying to out someone as gay to hold them up for ridicule. Though not in this case, and isn’t what were discussing, obviously.

    On a funny note, I was watching a presentation about heterosexism in my education class (the one with the hoppers for those who read that thread) and one girl trotted out this stat that 73% of mental health care physicians think that gay people are less happy than straight people. The girl went on to say “Can you imagine what it would be like to be less happy than everyone AND be discriminated against?” She was completely serious, I just choked back a laugh and said that I was pretty sure they weren’t naturally less happy, they were less happy BECAUSE of the discrimination.

  75. Just Some Trans Guy,

    I agree that it is never okay to out someone without his or her consent, and that it is not okay to call having sex while stealth sexual assault.

    However, while I was reading through the comments on that blog, I was wondering what the commenters would make of this situation:
    Imagine that the cisgendered partner in a relationship is deeply religious and believes that having sex with a person of the same biological gender is a mortal sin. Would a transperson in a relationship with this cisgendered person be obligated to tell the cisgendered partner hir birth gender?

    I would say the answer is yes. Whether or not the situation is likely to happen is irrelevant to me because the argument being made by various commenters was that transpeople at no point have any obligation to reveal to their partners their trans status.

  76. Annalyn,

    “However, while I was reading through the comments on that blog, I was wondering what the commenters would make of this situation:

    Imagine that the cisgendered partner in a relationship is deeply religious and believes that having sex with a person of the same biological gender is a mortal sin. Would a transperson in a relationship with this cisgendered person be obligated to tell the cisgendered partner hir birth gender?

    I would say the answer is yes.”

    That’s transphobic bullshit. My body is not a fucking weapon, IT IS MYSELF.

  77. A slightly more elegant addendum: A trans person has no more obligation to reveal his/her/hir trans status under those circumstances than a Catholic has to reveal his/her/hir religion to an anti-Catholic Protestant who believes sleeping with “the unsaved” damns him/her/hir to hell.

    Don’t want to sleep with a Catholic? You can ask, but someone can always lie and say they’re Baptist. Really, really don’t want to sleep with a Catholic? Well, then, DON’T HAVE SEX.

    Don’t want to sleep with a trans person? You can ask, but yeah, people can lie. Really, really don’t want to sleep with a trans person? DON’T HAVE SEX.

  78. “That’s transphobic bullshit. My body is not a fucking weapon, IT IS MYSELF.”

    Just Some Trans Guy, I apologize for having offended you, but in no way did I say that your body, or the body of any trans person, is a weapon. Trans people have the right to sleep with whomever they want. I am curious about the ethical connotations of this choice as presented in your comment and wanted to discuss this with you.

    “Don’t want to sleep with a Catholic? You can ask, but someone can always lie and say they’re Baptist. Really, really don’t want to sleep with a Catholic? Well, then, DON’T HAVE SEX.”

    This isn’t the issue. The issue is whether or not it is ethical not to disclose that fact. Yes, people can always lie and say they are Baptist. I’m not arguing that point. But it’s not ethical to lie, I think, when you are asked a question that clearly has some import to the person who asks it, and you are in no physical danger.

    Now, I recognize that trans people are often placed in great physical danger when outing themselves, and this is obviously a fear that must be taken seriously. However, this isn’t the issue either–I’m merely questioning whether or not it is ethical to fail to disclose something that one is fully aware is very important to the rational consent of a sexual partner.

    I understand why my comment may be seen as transphobic. However, I’m really not trying to say that trans people are not “real women” or “real men”. They are who they believe they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that the religious person in the situation I presented earlier has the right not to consent to what ze would believe was a mortal sin. Would it be transphobic of hir not to want to have sex with a trans person? Yes. But does ze have a right to informed consent? I would say so.

  79. Uh, were the people commenting on that blog saying that trans people who are post op not telling someone they’re about to have sex with that they’re trans is rape? Or are they saying that it in regards to someone who is pre-op or not planning on fully transitioning? Either way, it’s not rape unless they force themselves on someone after they’ve found out and refused to have sex. However, just based on how I would feel, I don’t think I would react well at all if that’s how the person decided to inform me of the situation. It’s still not rape in anyway that I can think of…violation maybe, but even that’s a huge fucking bigoted stretch. Just wondering the situation that was set up there.

  80. It’s not that outing is ok. It’s that the ethics of outing are a symptom of the larger problem of heterosexism. The existence of outing is a symptom of heterosexism. And if you build a moral code around people having a right to keep their identities private, as IrishUp did, without acknowledging the discrimination that makes that privacy necessary, you sidestep the actual problem.

    I’m not a big fan of arguments that people should stay in the closet. I admit that it can be necessary, it can be lifesaving. People shouldn’t be outed if that will put them in danger. But I believe that if a person can come out safely, they should. If they work against gay rights, they should be outed. If they are known to be in a relationship, there’s no need to treat that relationship like it’s some shameful, unmentionable secret just because they haven’t announced their sexual orientation on morning television. The personal is, as inconvenient and unfair as it may be, political.

    I’ve seen the straight people are happier thing as an argument that people shouldn’t be gay. Which is the kind of solid, missing the point entirely reasoning I’ve come to expect from homophobes.

    Annalyn, in that scenario, the cisgendered partner is obligated to reconsider their morals.

  81. Dear Annalynn,

    You asked us to imagine that the cisgendered partner in a relationship is deeply religious and believes that having sex with a person of the same biological gender is a mortal sin. Would a transperson in a relationship with this cisgendered person be obligated to tell the cisgendered partner hir birth gender?

    The answer to this is clearly no for a variety of reasons.

    First and foremost being that when extreme violence is done to trans people it often happens in the context of a sexual relationship. To be trans and have sex with cisgender folk is like looking for flowers in a landmine field. There can be amazing, beautiful things there that you want to go up to and be near but when you get too close, when they find out that you are trans, that’s when they can explode in ways that might maim or kill you.

    Secondly, it’s none of your damn business. If you find someone hot and want to participate in sexual acts with them (and assuming that they enthusiastically consenting) then why would their trans status have anything to do with it?

    You’re using this faulty language of ‘biological gender.’ What does that mean? That someone’s junk conforms to your ideas of what a person of that gender’s junk should look like? That their hormone levels have more estrogen or testosterone? Or that you have a problem seeing trans people as the gender that they are and instead are looking at some arbitrary aspect of their body to confirm that you know what they are better than they do?

    Here’s the ethical solution to this hypothetical situation:
    If you don’t want to have sex with _____ people then, upon moving forward in any way shape or form with everyone you’re planning on having sex with make sure you let them know flat out that you don’t want to have sex with ____ people. That’ll make it pretty darn likely that you won’t. It might also make you seem like you have a problem with _____ people, but hey, that happens when you declare an entire group of people as undesirable.

  82. Annalynn,

    “I am curious about the ethical connotations of this choice as presented in your comment and wanted to discuss this with you.”

    Nice to have the fucking privilege to find this an amusing but ultimately meaningless intellectual exercise, eh?

    “This isn’t the issue. The issue is whether or not it is ethical not to disclose that fact.”

    You’re right. My analogy was entirely faulty. A more appropriate analogy would be–I’m hanging out. Someone comes up, says I’m mighty fine, and suggests we romp in the hay. After we do, I tell aforementioned individual that I’m off to my job at the local Micky D’s.

    “But wait!” says this hypothetical person. “I thought you were a LAWYER! If I’d known you were a fast food worker, I’d never have had sex with you …”

    Cis people assume that everyone else is cis, and that isn’t trans people’s fault. We’re not lying. Being trans isn’t some fucking mark of Cain that we’re obligated, now and forever more, to fall to our knees to confess and beg mercy. It’s medical history, for a lot of us; and yeah, it’s a good idea to tell people, and yeah, long-term partners would want to know, but none of that creates an ethical OBLIGATION to inform anyone.

    “I understand why my comment may be seen as transphobic. However, I’m really not trying to say that trans people are not ‘real women’ or ‘real men’. They are who they believe they are. ”

    I’m not who I believe I am–I AM WHO I AM. And your comment was transphobic. Every line of argument that demands that trans people–AND NOBODY ELSE–reveal their medical status is transphobic. They are all predicated on the belief that we are not “really” men or “really” women. They all place some prejudiced cis jerk’s beliefs about trans people above trans people’s identities, and it’s all transphobic bullshit.

    And now, I’m outta here. This is not a safe space for me, and I have no desire to remain.

  83. Ted Haggard in particular advocated against gay marriage and homosexuality while seeing a male escort/prostitute for several years. The escort made the decision to out Haggard after learning who he was and what he stood for. He said, “I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he’s preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody’s back [he's] doing what he’s preached against.”

    Um. Puffalo. I feel very worried, but. This comment, as a response to mine, makes me think you’re trying to say that male prostitutes may also serve as English dictionaries. Haggard is very repulsive, but having sex with men and thinking it’s a bad thing while saying it’s a bad thing isn’t hypocrisy. Having sex with men and thinking it’s a good thing while saying it’s a bad thing is. I can drink martinis while advising others not to take it up and this does not make me a hypocrite, it just means I am of the opinion that some of my own behavior is bad. The guy’s congregation has made that distinction.

    Why is sexual orientation a private thing?

    Actually, I think it just is. I feel private about my sex life and I might not want to tell you about my partner. Being married it’s kind of obvious, but well. I do not feel more shy when the relationship has been homosexual. But then again, I am some kind of weird cat, and I find the concept of ‘sexual orientation’ odd. It seems to suppose that you can predict who might be sexually attractive to you, and I can’t.

    And while I’m worrying myself saying stuff that’ll probably get me yelled at:

    Annalynn I understand why my comment may be seen as transphobic. However, I’m really not trying to say that trans people are not “real women” or “real men”. They are who they believe they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that the religious person in the situation I presented earlier has the right not to consent to what ze would believe was a mortal sin. Would it be transphobic of hir not to want to have sex with a trans person? Yes. But does ze have a right to informed consent? I would say so

    Annalynn. You are not trying to say that trans people are not “real men” or “real women” but you are saying that cis people who are about to have sex with trans people have such a strong right to make that decision about the trans person that it is unethical and wrong for a trans person to fail to disclose, thus make it impossible for the poor cis person to make a fully informed decision about whether or not they’d like to accept the trans person’s gender as ‘real.’ Uh. No.

  84. But does ze have a right to informed consent? I would say so.

    Jesus. No. This scenario is predicated on some amalgamation of a transpanic myth. And presenting it as an intellectual exercise is a real privilege parade.

  85. I am not a regular commenter here.

    However, Annalynn, you are spouting some seriously transphobic shit, and you should cut it out and apologize to JSTG.

    My right to privacy about parts of my history are not trumped by the moral beliefs of potential sexual partners. It is my deeply held belief that this is true. Why should hir belief trump mine? Because sie’s cissexual? BULLSHIT.

    Furthermore, your use of the term “biological sex” is fucked up. My sex? Is biological. It is rooted in my biology. The term you are looking for is “sex assigned at birth”.

    Now, go off and get yourself somewhat read up on trans* issues so that you stop tromping on the lived experience of trans* people. It’s seriously unbecoming, particularly after the good will extended to you by people upthread.

  86. I agree that Just Some Trans Guy is owed an apology, and really hope the vanishing is temporary…I always value JSTG’s contributions thoughtful contributions to the conversation. (I know you made an attempt at an apology, Annalyn, but the “I’m sorry I offended you, BUT…” framing really didn’t get it done in this case.)

    In fact, the underlying (transphobic) implications of the comments made above were similar to (and as hurtful as) the ones in the thread originally mentioned. . . the ones that chased JSTG (and me) away from that other site. :(

  87. Annalynn, please stop and think for a moment. First of all, your hypothetical is based on an incredibly transphobic strawman: that of the minority member out to “deceive” the majority about hir status. So much of transpanic relies on a completely wrongheaded view that trans people are out to hoodwink society/individuals by passing as something they are “not”. No, no, no. Trans people are of the gender they identify as–or rather, of the gender that they fundamentally *are*. Saying otherwise–i.e. that they are being deceptive by masquerading as a member a gender that is not theirs–is not only misunderstanding what it is to be trans, but also buying in to the baseless but incredibly powerful cultural fear that a trans person is a threat to “normative” society.

    Since you seem up for an intellectual exercise, let’s try this thought experiment and flip it around: you wake up the morning after and discover that your partner of the night before is a raging mysogynist. You, meanwhile, are a feminist! You believe VERY DEEPLY in human rights and social justice for all! That fuckwad looked deep into your eyes last night and talked about your shared values, like that you’re both humans who are all attracted to each other and shit. What a douchenozzle, violating your ethics like that. You are now going to Feminist Hell!

    Well shit, son, that right there is a license to tar all [people of the type you have fucked/prefer to fuck] with the same brush. You should probably also perpetuate damaging stereotypes about their moral worth. Hey, while you’re at it, why not work to subject them to the same 1 in 12 murder rate that trans people face? They totally deserve it for being just like your made-up strawman (cf. paragraph 1), amirite?

    Oh, but that would be, I dunno, unethical or something.

  88. I’m cis, so I might be missing something here, but if I was having sex with someone whom I later discovered thought some people were less than fully human in some homophobic, transphobic, racist or sexist way, I’d feel pretty sick. Not raped, though. I’ve been raped and that’s different. But definitely a bit yuck and wanting a shower.

    Bigots are the ones who ought to be apologetically outing themselves before sex, if anyone is.

  89. JSTG, if my comments and questions upthread were a part of making you feel this isn’t a safe space, along with Annalyn, I’m very sorry. Your comments are always very insightful and interesting whether it’s about trans issues or not. I’d hate to think I contributed to making someone feel unsafe in a space that I find safe and interesting.

  90. Annalynn, several people have already covered why your comments are extremely offensive, so I’m only going to add a ban warning. If you really give what the other commenters have told you some thought, and you’re moved to apologize — not “I’m sorry I offended you,” but “Shit, I’m sorry I said that, because I see how transphobic I was being” — you can keep commenting here. Otherwise, bye.

    Just Some Trans Guy, I am so sorry that no moderators got to this thread earlier, and I hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to come back at some point.

    ETA: Wait, I’m not done. How do you type these words — “I understand why my comment may be seen as transphobic” — and follow them up with anything other than, “So I’m really sorry for what I said”? If you really understand that you came across as hateful, there’s nothing to do but apologize. If you’re not apologizing, then either you don’t really understand, or you don’t care.

  91. I have been thinking about this, and I’d really like to apologize to JSTG and people I have offended. It takes more than a few hours to change one’s mind on a big topic like this, so the best I can do at this point is that I will certainly take to heart what everyone has said and give it a lot of thought, and also attempt to educate myself about trans issues, which I realize is important.

    And of course, I really hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to return soon too, JSTG. I really never meant to offend you (obviously I’m not saying I didn’t or that it was okay, I just really want you to know that my intent wasn’t to come in here and hurt your feelings).

  92. Annalynn,

    From the Questioning Transphobia link mentioned above, I have found this link about checking cis-privilege helpful. And it sounds like you have a start on some of the advice there already—like staying calm, not resorting to ad hominem attacks, breathing, apologizing— so it might be a good place to start. (:

  93. Yeah, I’m thinking that Annalynn needs a time out.

    Sorry for not being here earlier to moderate. It’s my anniversary. Let’s all take an opportunity to review the comments policy.

    Just Some Trans Guy, I hope you don’t disappear! Again, sorry you had to read and respond to a bunch of transphobic bullshit.

  94. I am sorry if I am inappropriately dragging this out?

    It takes more than a few hours to change one’s mind on a big topic like this

    All ye neurotypical people, is this true?

    It seems to me that, okay, it might be that a person could overlook the fact that outing trans people is about enforcing other people’s privilege to decide if the trans person’s gender is ‘real’ or not. Otherwise the topic would not be of any more interest than, say, the surgery to correct a club-foot.

    Once this is pointed out, well, it seems like any person who respects the notion that it is trans people who get to declare what their gender is, and nobody else, ought to reach the conclusion (Trans people are not ethically obliged to disclose, regardless of the other person’s superstitions) at the speed of synapses. Which is probably about %66 of the speed of light, which is kinda slow in the grand scale, but certainly fast enough considering how small the brain is.

  95. Grafton: The difference between considered opinion and prejudice is that prejudice is difficult to subject to logic.

    (That is to say, yes, I think that’s true, depending on how one forms one’s ideas about things; accepting What Everyone Knows can make things hard to let go of.)

  96. Thanks. How very disturbing. Though possibly not more disturbing than alternative explanations.

    Well, I am 34 years old and yet currently unhinged enough to suffer slight interference in daily functioning because some of the stitches in the plush toy that I sleep with have come loose. We all have our cognitive troubles.

  97. It is sad that it’s become such a trend in Hollywood to have ciswomen playing transwomen. I’m sure there are plenty of transwomen who would get into acting. Oy vey.

  98. JSTG, let me add my regrets for not being around moderating today.

    And, yeah. If you consent to sex with someone on your unfounded assumption that they’re cis (because, what, you wouldn’t be attracted to them otherwise? Or because trans people don’t exist? Seriously, what?)… and meanwhile you neither question that assumption, nor do anything to become someone that a trans person would have any reason to trust? The problem is you.

  99. Quote: It takes more than a few hours to change one’s mind on a big topic like this. All ye neurotypical people, is this true?

    I think so – like FA and feminism, it takes time to change how you see the world, to question previously unquestioned underlying assumptions. I’m sure the first time you read about FA you might have thought “great idea!” but it took time for self-acceptance to *really* sink into your psyche – well, that’s how it was (is) for me anyway. Maybe I’m just slower than you…

    But cisprivilege is invisible in the same way, so if you’ve never come across the idea before it can take some time to grapple with it. TBH, this is the first time I’ve come across it myself, so I’m struggling with new ideas and learning right along with Annalynn. Intellectual assent is not quite the same as integrating new concepts and changing a world-view which is assumed by most of our society. That takes awareness-raising and practice. ie time. I’m just sorry that the process is rough on JSTG and those who offer to engage with us who are still learning. :(

  100. WTF, it didn’t quote. Anger

    “If you consent to sex with someone on your unfounded assumption that they’re cis (because, what, you wouldn’t be attracted to them otherwise? Or because trans people don’t exist? Seriously, what?)… and meanwhile you neither question that assumption, nor do anything to become someone that a trans person would have any reason to trust? The problem is you.”

    This is what I wanted.

  101. Grafton — at least for me, it’s often easy to see a big concept and go, “oh, yes! cis privilege; I haz it! I shall watch out for this in future now that I know.” and yet take a while to connect that major concept of privilege to the various situations in which it applies. Some assumptions just fall over like dominos, while others take a while for me to realize that I have.

    I really don’t think there would ever be a situation in which I would face someone who thought that some aspect of me made me sinful for them to sleep with finding out about it later in the relationship. I mean, if at some point I found out that my date thought that bi people were evil or that they were secretly a neo-Nazi or something, my reaction would be somewhere between “I have to…um…alphabetize my socks now; been nice knowing you” and “what the hell, you horrible person”, depending in how much fear of my life I was. I would in almost no circumstances keep dating them and hide it from them.

  102. Grafton — at least for me, it’s often easy to see a big concept and go, “oh, yes! cis privilege; I haz it! I shall watch out for this in future now that I know.” and yet take a while to connect that major concept of privilege to the various situations in which it applies. Some assumptions just fall over like dominos, while others take a while for me to realize that I have.

    Having trouble with seeing that X is a small individual example of greater concept Y, now that I get. :)

  103. Grafton: Many of us neurotypicals do have a hard time with changing our opinions or positions, especially on stuff that’s more tangled up with emotion than with logic. And that goes double when it involves realizing that one has been acting like an asshole, or holding asshole-ish opinions. In my case, the process usually starts out as “Being prejudiced against (members of group X) is bad, and I’m not bad. I definitely think they should have the same rights as everybody else, and shouldn’t be discriminated against or harassed or killed. Therefore I’m clearly not prejudiced against (whoever).”

    Except that there’s a big difference between acknowledging someone’s right to exist and internalizing the belief that they aren’t Different or Other or somehow less. And getting from the former to the latter can be hard because, if I believe I’m not a racist/homophobe/transphobe/whatever, I’m very unlikely to challenge my own thoughts and assumptions. Some of the discussion on this thread has actually really opened my eyes to what I’d prefer to call “my own cis privilege,” and that’s probably true too, but what it’s really done is make me aware of my own transphobia. I didn’t think it was there, but I’ve realized that it is. (And I’m not looking for a cookie here. Somehow, I suspect that being a trans person in a virulently transphobic world is a much more difficult experience than my discovery that I’m a bigot.)

    Off to do some 101 reading.

  104. Most people have a lot to learn about their own prejudices, conscious or subconscious ones. This doesnt mean that people are necessarily negative or hateful or wanting to offend, I think it’s just that a lot of people are benignly ignorant. We all are ignorant about everything at some point in our lives, and the key to growth is spotting this and then trying to change. Staying frozen when you know you are prejudiced is where problems start. All I know for certain is that I believe everyone has the right to be themselves.

    As Justsometransguy said, “I’m not who I believe I am–I AM WHO I AM”

    P.S. To Justsometransguy – “Sub-Deadly Cheesecake Exposure” really would be a great name for your imaginary band. Hope you come back.

  105. “If you consent to sex with someone on your unfounded assumption that they’re cis (because, what, you wouldn’t be attracted to them otherwise? Or because trans people don’t exist? Seriously, what?)… and meanwhile you neither question that assumption, nor do anything to become someone that a trans person would have any reason to trust? The problem is you.”

    This statement is really problematic, in my opinion. If you consent to sex with someone on the basis that they’re a woman, and you’re a lesbian who is sexually attracted to women, and then you find out that this person is a trans woman, and they have a penis, are you allowed to change your mind? Or would that make you transphobic?

  106. thebeardedlady, sorry, but that’s still the same strawman you’re working from. Trans people are not, on the whole, out to con you into sex you would not otherwise have had. Maybe there’ve been recorded cases of this, but applying this to all transpeople is like saying all fatties overeat, all gay people are perverts trying to convert your children, all black people are out to steal your wallet, etc, etc, etfuckingcetera. The actions of a few do not determine the character of the group(s) they belong to, and it is symptomatic of systematic privilege that those few are expected to do so.

    And so what if the person you had sex with turns out to be someone other than who you thought they were? This happens to almost all sex-having people at some point in their sex-having lives, and it does not take away their faith, their political beliefs, their dyke card (good thing as they’ll be expected to present it at the next meeting at Lesbian Headquarters!), etc; all it means is that this one person that they consented to have sex with was a liar, or afraid, or that there was some kind of misunderstanding, or something. Happens all the time, I promise you, and is not by any means limited to membership in a minority group.

  107. I should also add that if the strawman in your hypothetical identifies as a woman, then she *is* a woman, full stop. Her continuing possession of a penis could indicate any number of things, such as a lack of money for SRS, a fear of outing herself even to doctors (common in small town environments especially), reasonable doubt in the face of a permanent body modification, or any number of other obstacles that stand in the way of trans people living fully as themselves in the body that matches their true gender. What said penis does *not* mean is that she is actually a man.

    Also, besides the complete lack of sympathy I feel for your hypothetical transphobic (given that she thinks a trans woman is actually a man) lesbian, I also have to wonder why her own sexual preference/identity is so fragile that it can be threatened by someone else’s self-identification.

  108. ….and, since I apparently shouldn’t post without having had a think and a cigarette, I feel I need to return and add some shades of gray to your hypothetical. What of the lesbian who accidentally (pause for great lols, hang on a minute) has sex with a pre-op trans man? No penis there to complicate things, but should she still feel horribly deceived in the face of having had sex with someone who essentially *is* a man? If she’s the transphobic lesbian of your hypothetical, then I guess not–after all, there were lady parts! So she totes had sex with a lady, amirite?!

    And what if she has sex with a genderqueer woman? I, personally, am very confused about my gender but I don’t announce that fact to anyone, partly because I would not like to do so until I’ve come to a conclusion, partly because I live in an incredibly homophobic and transphobic environment, and partly because, even if I came down on the male side I still wouldn’t be having SRS or living as a man (because fear, essentially). But what if I pick up a woman at a bar tonight? What if she looks at my boobs and (hopefully!) my ladygarden and thinks I am 100% woman, and that therefore we should make with the sexing? Have I deceived her? Maybe. Have I raped her? No. Has she had sex with a man? I’ll get back to you on that one. Will her identity change based on my answer? Sorry to say that’s her problem, not mine.

  109. For the record, I didn’t suggest that all trans people lie about themselves. That wasn’t the point of my comment, and I don’t believe that to be the case.

    But I am very concerned that women are being told that asking questions of their sexual partners is transphobic, when I believe that women have the right to choose for themselves who they sleep with, based on their own criteria, which could be absolutely *anything*.

    Should a lesbian be considered transphobic for not wanting sex with someone who has a penis, even though that person self-identifies as a woman? The lesbian may happily agree that the trans woman is a woman, but still find the thought of bringing a penis into sex completely revolting. Is it not problematic to accuse the lesbian of transphobia, when in fact all she is doing is making her own choice in accordance with her sexual preferences? Is she really expected to just go along with it, because otherwise she’s a prude/bigot? Do you not see a problem with this argument, from a feminist point of view?

    And so what if the person you had sex with turns out to be someone other than who you thought they were?

    Well, I personally find that extremely problematic. What if I thought someone was single, and slept with them on that basis, only to find that they were married? No big deal? I haven’t been coerced into doing something I wouldn’t normally do? I have sex with someone thinking that they really like me and later find out they did it for a bet? No problem? Not nasty, degrading, humiliating, or any of those other things?

    What if I went home with a woman, and found out she had a penis that she had neglected to tell me about, or lied about when asked? Should I still sleep with her, even if that totally turns me off? What about if the penis itself doesn’t turn me off, but the lying/lying by omission does? Am I still transphobic? Is it always me who would be in the wrong here? Should I just go ahead with sex so as not to upset her/out of fear of being labelled transphobic? Would she have no responsibility to get my informed consent to sex? Or is consent still consent even if it’s obtained dishonestly?

  110. re: TBL’s question. i find it problematic that we seem to be talking about RAPE here, because we are taking away a woman’s right to say NO. are we comfortable with this? yes or no? if we are, why? if we arent, why not? this is not a rhetorical question, and i think TBL poses it beautifully. the way she framed it: “can she change her mind?” is absolutely the way it needs to be framed. because in order for sex to be consensual, each partner *must* be able to change their mind at any time, for any reason. would this woman who changed her mind be transphobic? and would she be kicked out of a feminist space for it? are questions that further come to mind.

    in other words, are we demanding that women choose between being raped, or being transphobic?

  111. Okay, first of all, anyone has the right to say no to sex for any reason at any time. Full stop. I don’t think anyone has posted on this thread saying anything different.

    But the thing is, we’re not talking about two specific people who had an individual encounter that didn’t work out for one or both of them and who tried to let the other person down as nicely as they could. We’re talking about hypothetical people who have been created in such a way that the further trans panic and harmful stereotypes (“Those trans people tricking other people into having sex!”) . And that is what people are judging.

  112. TBL, two things:

    A) Who the hell ever said that a person can’t retract their consent to sex? I NEVER saw ANYONE saying that.

    B) You need to be really, really fucking careful when you make these kinds of “hypotheticals.” Do you know how bloody often the same “hypothetical” has been true, except with a straight man, which has ended in violence and frequently murder? And how often that scenario has been used as a defense? I’m sorry, but simply positing this kind of thing is seriously, seriously transphobic and it’s disturbing to me.

    FWIW, I don’t think it’s transphobic to assume that a potential partner will have the anatomy “expected” of their gender (maybe just unworldly), but I DO think it is transphobic to suggest that there is some rampant epidemic of transpeople who mislead people into thinking this until some great reveal or something. And all y’all who are positing these scenarios need to be really, really fucking careful and stop acting like there is some gigantic problem of rape by transpeople. REALLY. Get a fucking clue.

  113. re: the use of hypos. generally i dont think its a good idea, but thats mostly because of the way hypos are deliberately abused: for example, straight men “asking questions” about rape by creating absolutely disgusting and graphic scenarios (that are almost always CLEARLY rape) meaning to harm, trigger, offend and ultimately run-off the women who are discussing the topic…the topic that 90% of the time affects the WOMEN and not the men (except as the perps, because men perpetrate it 99% of the time).

    but when the topic is either ethics or logic, the use of hypos is completely reasonable. thats the way ethics and logic are tested, in fact: by applying your “rules” to a certain set of facts, and seeing if your “equasion” still works. the topic TBL is responding to is and issue of ethics, ie. lying to your sexual partner about your status as trans. in this context, crying “privilege!” against anyone who poses a set of facts to test “teh rulez” is disingenuous.

  114. would this woman who changed her mind be transphobic?

    No. Everyone has the right not to have sex with a partner for any reason, period. That doesn’t change the fact that this whole hypothetical is based on A) a transphobic strawman (that trans people are out to con unsuspecting cis people into sex without all the facts) and B) the transphobic belief that a trans person is obligated to disclose their status before sex just because cis people assume everyone else is cis, and thus believe that representing as the gender you are is “lying” if you’re trans.

    I’m closing this thread now, because I’m sick of disappearing for a few hours to do something like sleep and returning to a bunch of the same bullshit that’s already been addressed upthread. As trans people have already said on this thread, this may be an amusing intellectual exercise for cis people who haven’t ever had to think about it, but for other people, it’s fucking real life. If you’re a cis person considering all this for the first time, try Googling “trans 101″ instead of thinking out loud in a public space.

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