Posts tagged Trans

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • Marketplace (May 9, 2013): Does fair trade clothing help the consumer and the retailer?: NPR’s Marketplace features a short story on Fair Trade certification for clothing, and efforts to address the working conditions in Bangladesh sweatshops. Along the way, there’s a couple quotes from my co-editor on Markets Not Capitalism, Gary Chartier, about the supply-chain practices that many clothing-industry TNCs use to displace responsibility and insulate themselves from accountability for lethal working conditions in their factories.

  • Cathy Reisenwitz @ Sex And The State (May 15, 2013): Fighting Sexism, Sexily I’ve long contended that libertarians have a habit of downplaying or denying certain problems when they don’t like the proposed solutions. For example, when people talk about sexism, or the wage gap, it’s common for a libertarian to retort that the wage gap isn’t real, or can be explained by individual choices. I understand this desire to avoid the coercive solutions many people suggest for fighting sexism . . . The thing is, Rothbard was super bothered by a state monopoly on force. We libertarians need to get really bothered by sexism. And then we need to come up with cultural, and not state, solutions. . . . (With an example of creative thinking and guerrilla theater, featuring a cheesecake pin-up poster of Bro-sie the Riveter.)

  • Marja Erwin (May 2, 2013): Trans Politics and Colonialism: A Few Questions?. Read the whole thing.

  • Marja Erwin (April 23, 2013): I still think market anarchism has a lot to contribute to the rest of anarchism. This too. I think it’s important to have a system where people can communicate what they need, and what they want, and what they don’t need, and what they can do to help, and I think it’s important to have systems where people can work things among themselves, if for some reason they can’t work things out through the community or union or federation orgs. . . . (Against all monopolizations of social capital.)

  • Mark Stoval @ On the Mark (May 7, 2013) claims that he is going to take A look at Mutualism. In comments, Roderick Long points out that he ought to have looked harder. Or, really, tried looking at any mutualist writing at all, rather than just doing what he seems to have done, which was to scan ahead until he reached a fixed phrase (labor theory of value, occupancy and use) that convinced him that he already knows everything that he needs to know about the rest of the book. Nearly everything that Mark claims about Mutualists is a ridiculous travesty of Kevin Carson’s views; and evidence that he knows nothing about Mutualists other than Kevin Carson. But Roderick’s intervention in the comments section is right-on.

  • Forbes (May 15, 2013): Suit Alleges IRS Improperly Seized 60 Million Personal Medical Records. You know what the worst part of this story is? The part about having an Internal Revenue Service, to surveill daily expenses and seize personal data, all in order to investigate and police tax payments. Seriously, there is no possible way to square that with basic civil liberties, and it ought to be abolished.

  • BBC (May 6, 2013): Lauryn Hill jailed for tax evasion. Partly this is a story about the government’s tax-policing. Partly it’s a story about the financial traps that are imposed by the structure of state capitalism, and the ways in which tax structures systemically confine people — both very wealthy people, like Hill, and very poor people as well — to high-liquidity, cash-producing business and employment. The Grammy-winning singer, 37, also faces three months of home confinement, after pleading guilty last year. Hill failed to pay taxes on about $1.8m (£1.2m) of earnings between 2005-07. In a statement to the judge, Hill said she had intended to pay the taxes but could not after withdrawing from public life and ending her music career to raise her children. . . . I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them, Hill said in court. I had an economic system imposed on me. Free Lauryn Hill and all political prisoners.

  • Dominic Gover, International Business Times (May 7, 2013): Lauryn Hill Blames Slavery as She’s Jailed for $500,000 Unpaid Tax Bill. Oh by the way, did I mention that the judge is also forcing Lauryn Hill to undergo counselling because of her conspiracy theories [sic] as a condition of her plea? Where conspiracy theories means political dissent from the status quo.

  • Jim Epstein @ reason.com (May 7, 2013): Government Assault on the Chinatown Bus Industry Fueled By Bogus Federal Study. In which the government takes care of Greyhound’s competitors for them, using an error-ridden bogus safety study, which uses Greyhound’s own crashes to prove that their curbside competitors are less safe. The study is like a matryoshka doll of clumsy errors and statistical malpractice; every time you spot them one error and set it aside for the sake of argument, you find another error, just as atrocious as the last one, nested inside of it.

  • Home School Legal Defense Association (May 14, 2013): German Family Denied Asylum, HSLDA Appeals. The judge’s decision to deny asylum is appalling. From the press release: The court said that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case, and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair treatment. Well no, no they haven’t. But they say that like it ought to be a problem for the victims of unfair treatment. Actually, it is a problem with the United States, which needs to stop acting as a gatekeeper and get out of the way. It is appalling that any peaceful immigrant should be turned away, for any reason. Solidarity with all people without papers, and all immigrants without status.

  • Free Adam Kokesh (May 20, 2013): Adam Kokesh Accused of Felony Assault on Federal Officer — No Bail Yet: It looks pretty clearly like he is being held on a vacuous detained-by-will-of-the-cop charge — in this case, resisting arrest and assault on a federal officer — for getting himself shoved by a Federal Officer and then grabbing the arm of the dude who was physically attacking him. His hearing is set for Thursday; in the meantime he is in contact with his attorney but has been denied the opportunity to make phone calls (content warning: Alex Jones links, feh).

  • DinoGoss (May 11, 2013): The Validity of Lambeosaurus — Anybody Know A Good Lawyer? I Am Not A Taxonomist, but I’m inclined to think that if your system would throw out Lambeosaurus at this point in favor of Didanodon altidens that’s probably a problem with your naming system not a problem with current use of Lambeosaurus.

  • Lucy Cooke @ Vimeo (February 8, 2013): BUCKET OF SLOTHS. Exactly what it says on the tin.

Wednesday Lazy Linking

Internet Anarchist Revision Brigade #2: Django at LibCom on the Stonewall/Bindel affair and the politics of transsexuality

So here is the latest action alert for the I.A.R.B.. (I fear that this is going to be a long-running series.) As a reminder of why we fight:

Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers. The jargon peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words translated from Russian, German, or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one’s meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.

. . . As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash — as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot — it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. . . . In [the example from a Communist pamphlet], the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink.

— George Orwell (1946): Politics and the English Language

Now here’s an example of exactly that kind of writing, which I’ve taken from an article recently printed over at LibCom. I take it that the article has something to do with radical feminism, gender identity, and sex-reassignment surgery. Beyond that—well, let’s just try to read it.

What matters, then, is the practical implications of the best insights of feminist theory. Clearly, the violence and intimidation transgender people routinely face is unconscionable. But the question again boils down to the contradictions between the politics of affirmation and the politics of negation. This may at first seem strange. As Slavoj Žižek amongst others has argued, the difference between the politics of oppressed and marginalised groups seeking to defend themselves and the politics of class struggle is that class struggle seeks as its end point the abolition of class. “Class pride” is a reactionary concept, and though class relations can and do express themselves through communities and class identities, if class struggle is to be part of a revolutionary project rather than the affirmation of the working class within capitalism then it must abolish capitalism and with it abolish class. Class is furthermore a material position within capitalism – those who have nothing to sell but their labour and who must work for the money necessary to live, those dispossessed of ownership of capital and who must sell their labour time and labour power to those who have or administer it. It is not a sociological category, but a condition and a social relation. The struggles of women, ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians insofar as they are organised around the marginalised group must struggle for recognition of various kinds. But this, as so often, is an oversimplification. The various marginalised roles are themselves constituted within the process of their marginalisation – and though the material proletarian condition which is the prerequisite for capital accumulation is demonstrable in a different way to the constitution of various marginalised identities, we can still see the issue in terms of affirmation or negation: in the case of gender, either liberal feminism’s affirmation of women as bourgeois subjects with equal legal standing, or the radical project of the negation of gender binaries and with it gender identity.

So what would this look like in practice? I don’t pretend to have the answers. In the case of negating the proletarian condition, the answer is relatively straightforward: the direct communisation of the means of production, the abolition of wage labour and the replacement of the state by the construction of real human community through linked councils. Gender cannot be negated in the same way, though the same processes of seizure and transformation growing out of class antagonism. Its fairly easy to imagine that a society where the production of the entire social environment is no longer alienated would allow for a new kind of society and more radical possibilities, but its not enough to talk abstractly of revolution as being the cure-all we must invest our faith in.

But we do know where it can’t start – certainly not from the reification of binary gender identities. The task must be to destabalise and desacralise gender, and this cannot be done whilst upholding a belief in the ability to “match” bodily organs to gendered behaviour. The critique of gender cannot be held back because it offends the sensibilities of marginalised groups, and whilst we recognise the difficulties transgender people face, we can’t let those difficulties be an excuse to suspend critical thought.

— Django @ LibCom.org (2008-11-28): The Stonewall/Bindel affair, and the politics of transsexuality

I’d like to know what to say about this passage, or the point that the author is trying to make. But I’m not sure whether or not I can, because I’m not sure whether or not I even know what point the author is trying to make. I’m setting aside, for the moment, the fact that nothing after the eighth paragraph even attempts to connect the author’s points to the ostensible topic of the post — the radical feminist journalist Julie Bindel and her expressed views on sex-reassignment surgery. Because, even at a more local level, I think I understand most of the individual sentences, or at least clauses in the passage, but the way that it is written makes it nearly impossible for me to figure out what those parts add up to, or where that whole is supposed to be going by the end of the post, to the extent that I honestly don’t even know whether or how strongly I disagree or agree with what the author’s trying to say.

I suspect that the only way to understand it is for us to dig in and try to rewrite it, so that the author’s point, if he has any, isn’t lost beneath the dull, thudding drumbeat of his language. In any case, even if it turns out that there’s really nothing much, either good or bad, to find in this passage (a conclusion I haven’t yet drawn, but which I haven’t abandoned either), then it’s worth trying as an exercise, if nothing else. If we want to talk about the things we need to talk about, then we need to find better ways of saying things than this.

If you were going to try to rewrite a passage like this to try to make it more clear — especially to those who haven’t spent years reading and writing in Marxian jargon — and more enjoyable to read even for those who have, how would you go about it? Just what is going on here? What conclusion does it seem to you he’s trying to get to, and what reasons is he using to get to that conclusion? If you were trying to say what he’s saying, how would you say it well?

See also:

R.I.P. Duanna Johnson

(Via Marja Erwin.)

Memphis police identified the body of transgender woman Duanna Johnson lying in the street near Hollywood and Staten Avenue early this morning.

Police believe Johnson was shot some time before midnight on Sunday. No suspects are in custody at this time.

Johnson was the victim of a Memphis police brutality case this summer when a video of former officer Bridges McRae beating her in a jail holding area was released to the media.

The video led to the eventual firing of McRae and Officer James Swain. It also led to the formation of a Stop Police Brutality Memphis, a coalition of human rights activists who lobbied the city council for more sensitivity training for Memphis Police officers.

A statement from the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center: Duanna bravely confronted the Memphis Police Department officers who brutalized her while she was in police custody. At great personal cost, Duanna was the public face of our community’s campaign against racism, homophobia, and transphobia. There was no justice for Duanna Johnson in life. The Mid-South Peace & Justice Center calls for justice in the investigation and prosecution of Duanna’s murder.

— Bianca Phillips, Memphis Flyer (2008-11-10): Transgender Beating Victim Found Dead in North Memphis

Because it’s important, and because it’s the decent thing to do, it’s one of the things you have to do in this life. But I hate remembering our dead. I am sick of there being more people every year that we have nothing left of but a memory. It’s not enough. It’s never enough.

But they deserve at least that. Duanna Johnson deserves at least that.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every year around November 20th. There is a list of community events online.

See also:

Shiva on “abuse” and “misdiagnosis”

Besides availing itself of my favorite quotation from Edmund Burke, this recent post by Shiva at Biodiverse Resistance is also pretty much right on from beginning to end. Thus:

The headline of this recent BBC story is Stroke victim was misdiagnosed as mad. While reading it was pretty scary (especially as temporary aphasia can also occur in autism, and in fact i experienced it (albeit only for a few very brief periods) in my teens), it follows a certain pattern that annoys me: in describing the horrible treatment that Steve Hall experienced when misdiagnosed, it implicitly suggests that the same treatment would be appropriate and acceptable if he actually was mad.

It reminded me of this case of a woman who was put in a men’s prison because she was percieved to be a transsexual woman (and, therefore, in the eyes of the police who arrested her, really a man) - and of similar cases i’ve heard of where gender-ambiguous-looking women have been refused entry to women’s toilets or other single-sex spaces where they were thought to be MTF transsexuals. As nodesignation says:

The police don’t question the practice of regularly placing trans women in situations where they will be raped. They only lament that they accidentally subjected a non-trans woman to the violence that they regularly subject trans women to. I would assume that as this story gains traction the emphasis will be about how horrible that a woman who was not trans received such mistreatment. That much is clear already from the fact that there are so few stories on trans women receiving this mistreatment despite being its being a regular occurance.

It’s not the inherent wrongness of the treatment that is discussed, it is the supposed horrible mistake of subjecting someone to that treatment when that person actually turned out to be not a member of the category of people that it’s considered acceptable to do this sort of thing to. No thought is given to why it’s supposedly acceptable to do it to people who are in that category, despite the fact that, in both cases, the reporting of the incident blatantly begs the question: if it was horrible and inhuman and inacceptable to do this to one person by mistake, what is it to do it to a whole Othered class of people deliberately?

It was, and in some places still is, common for autistic people (particularly those who don’t fit certain aspects of the commoner autism stereotypes) to be misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, leading to institutionalisation, forced drugging, etc. Similarly, many non-verbal autistic people (who are/were nonetheless capable of communication through other means) are or were misdiagnosed as mentally retarded, again leading to institutionalisation and other abuses justified by the fact of their supposed incapacity for rational thought or communication. On autism message boards and other communities, these cases tend to be talked about primarily in terms of the horribleness of the misdiagnosis, often with comments to the effect that I/you/ze should never have been treated like that, because I’m/you’re/ze’s autistic, not schizophrenic/mentally retarded/whatever, or seeing the case similarly to someone who was acquitted of a crime after new evidence proved them not guilty, as if to be found to be autistic rather than some other diagnostic category after all is what makes all the difference. Even if the people making these sort of comments don’t realise it, they’re implying that it would be OK to do all those things to someone who actually is schizophrenic or mentally retarded.

Whether or not we want to adopt an overarching political/philosophical label like anarchist, however, all of us who fight, with actions or words, for any oppressed groups and against oppression need to actively oppose the hypocrisy of outrage at people being mistakenly treated like they are members of a supposedly OK to exclude, abuse or oppress category, when the real outrage should be that such a category even exists. The thing itself is the abuse…

— Shiva @ Biodiverse Resistance (2008-01-03): The Thing Itself Is The Abuse

Read the whole thing.