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homophobia lgbtq reactionary bullshit transmisogyny transphobia

How Gender Crits’ “locker room panic” rhetoric greases the skids for a broader right-wing campaign against lesbians and gay men

So I wasted several minutes of my life today reading through a rambling “Gender Critical” essay om the Women’s Liberation Radio News website with the irritating title “Trans Rights are Men’s Rights; No Wonder they Clash with Feminists.”

The post comes courtesy of an Oregon Yoga teacher and homeschooling mom named Austin DeVille who says she “was politicized by radical feminism after her husband tried to become a woman.” It runs through many of the standard TERFy attacks on trans rights, including the “men’s rights” smear of the title. The idea there is that trans rights are men’s rights because trans women are really men; at no point does DeVille consider the inverse of that argument: that trans rights are women’s rights because trans men are, in TERFland, really women.

But for me the most revealing moment in the essay came when DeVille got around to making the TERF argument that trans women threaten cis women’s and children’s rights by using women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.

When I see little toddler girls changing in the locker room at the gym, it scares and enrages me to know that any man can wander in simply by pretending he thinks he’s a woman. Many men will take advantage of this arrangement just to gain access to these spaces to leer at children’s bodies. Even if they don’t act on their perversions, this is a violation and should always be considered a criminal offense. 

This is all a steaming pile of bullshit — it essentially assumes that all trans women are pedophiles, for one thing — but what strikes me about it is how easily this kind of rhetoric can be turned against lesbians and gay men. If the problem is people who “leer” at women and girls, wouldn’t lesbians be just as dangerous as faux (or real) trans women trying to catch a glimpse of female flesh?

Let’s make a few minor changes in that paragraph I just quoted and see how it looks.

When I see little toddler girls changing in the locker room at the gym, it scares and enrages me to know that any lesbian can wander in. Many lesbians will take advantage of this arrangement just to gain access to these spaces to leer at children’s bodies. Even if they don’t act on their perversions, this is a violation and should always be considered a criminal offense. 

You can just as easily change up this paragraph into a “warning” about predatory gay men.

When I hear about little toddler boys changing in the locker room at the gym, it scares and enrages me to know that any gay man can wander in. Many gay men will take advantage of this arrangement just to gain access to these spaces to leer at children’s bodies. Even if they don’t act on their perversions, this is a violation and should always be considered a criminal offense. 

That TERF logic can be so easily turned into rhetoric against lesbians and gay men shouldn’t surprise anyone. For all their claims of radicalism, TERFs are a reactionary force using reactionary rhetoric to attack a marginalized group using strategies pioneered by the far right. It’s no wonder that it’s been so easy for TERFs to find common ground with far-right transphobes and homophobes: they’re fighting some of the same battles.

It’s clear that for many of the far-rights bigots that have joined up with the TERFs the attack on trans people (and trans women in particular) is just the first stage in what they see as a broader cultural crusade against everyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Come for the Bathroom Bills, stay for the end of gay marriage.

Lesbian TERFs will hardly be thrilled to see the arguments they once made against trans women being used against them. But that’s how karma works. it reminds me of this classic tweet:

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Bina
28 days ago

Do…do the FARTs even know that MRAs hate trans women just as much as they do, and consider them to be a reproduction-ending “trap”, cooked up by evil Jewish conspirators?

(Silly me, of course they don’t know. Any more than they’re aware that any man who wants to barge into a female locker room isn’t gonna “pretend to think he’s a woman”, he’s just gonna walk in there like Donnie Drumpf at the Miss Teen USA pageant, feeling fully entitled.)

Seth S
Seth S
28 days ago

I personally enjoy pointing out the simple fact that they have NO interest in stopping any real and documented sexual violence against women by groups or individuals that are an actual risk. And that’s 100% true.

Cops are a group who get sexual assault accusations by several hundreds each year in the UK alone, and the victims are mostly GIRLS UNDER 18 – and the perps rarely are successfully prosecuted, and even when they are, they almost never get anything like a reasonable sentence.

But mention this, and you get crickets. They don’t care that cops are such a high risk group to women, with dozens of sources and court dockets backing this up. You’re not going to catch them picketing at a police precinct or getting interviews about how the cops need to shape up.

They don’t care about the fact that a major “gender critical” voice in a recent BBC article, Lily Cade, who is a cisgender lesbian, has dozens of sexual assault accusations against her, MANY OF WHICH HAPPENED IN BATHROOMS (and then turned around and started talking on her own site about the trans women she’d personally like to lynch).

They don’t care about ACTUAL sexual assault or the fact they’ve welcomed real life predators into their ranks… they only care about their nearly-completely-imaginary trans women predators. It’s the FLIMSIEST of masks over raw, baseless hatred of trans people.

bcb
bcb
28 days ago

It isn’t that this rhetoric could be “turned against” cis gay and lesbian people: it was actually used against gay people before it was used against trans people. And it was used against black people before that.

defiantcreatrix
defiantcreatrix
28 days ago

I’m old enough to remember those same arguments being used on lesbians and gay men, which was true until at least the 1990s.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
28 days ago

It’s not exactly funny, and it’s certainly not of any great moment in the context of transphobic aggression, but the arithmetic also gets me: when transphobic curtain-twitchers and pearl-clutchers (who claim that “you can always tell”) oh-so-bravely accost someone in the loos to accuse them of being in the wrong place, numerically of course they accost and harrass and annoy far more cis women who just don’t happen to conform to their noltions of ‘correct’ gender presentation for women than they do trans women, simply because gnc cis women are very very numerous.

Congratulations transphobes! You just make life a little bit worse for cis women you think should be on your side.

It’s like harking back to the early 70s or maybe the 50s – biology is destiny after all :-s (and ‘you have to be at least this conventionally ‘feminine’ in appearance to use these loos’).

(and of course all those blokes just itching to attack women for their hair or looks or figure or age, just like in the good ol’ days, eh.)

MV96
MV96
27 days ago

Useful idiots, all of them(unless they are cishet women, in that case they are simply laughing at the useful idiot cis lesbians).

MV96
MV96
27 days ago

@Bina
They think cis men are literally sending trans women to rape cis women.
…Meanwhile, in reality, we know that while transphobic cis men might misgender trans women, they certainly don’t really consider them “part of their team”.

MV96
MV96
27 days ago

@opposablethumbs
I honestly think TERFs will make up an excuse as to why it’s the fault of trans women, somehow.
Also, cishet TERFs are a thing and I think they consider cis butch lesbians as one “trans woman convincing them” day away from being trans(trans guys existing is also the fault of trans women in TERFs’ minds).

MV96
MV96
27 days ago

@Seth S
Wow, some high-profile TERFs are actually lesbian instead of cishet?

Gerry Sherry
Gerry Sherry
27 days ago

Yes mv96 and they’re scared shitless that these “men” want to rape them and make them straight or some bullshit like that.

Gerry Sherry
Gerry Sherry
27 days ago

I bet ms. Cade has the gall to claim all of the rapes she did were actually trans women pretending to be her.

MV96
MV96
27 days ago

@Gerry Sherry
Or that it isn’t rape because penis equals rape and she doesn’t have one so her victims weren’t as traumatized.

Magnesium
Magnesium
27 days ago

A bunch of actual MRA-lite people like Cathy Young have rebranded as “caring about women and girls” to get on this lucrative new right wing bandwagon. (So much of this is straight recycled from the “rape-fugue” moral panic a few years ago)

A while ago I witnessed a surreal Twitter conversation in which a real MRA was upset with Jon Kay (infamous dog shampoo using son of MRA conference speaker Barbara Kay) because he was using “MRA” to insult people who don’t want to genocide the latest folk devil. Jon was steadfastly denying ever having heard of the real definition of an MRA. Wild.

Talonknife
Talonknife
27 days ago

A lot of the transphobic rhetoric of TERF circles today is just warmed-over homophobia. Bigots are too lazy to even come up with new bogeymen.

Elaine The Witch
Elaine The Witch
27 days ago

what magical barrier do they think is gonna keep cis men that want to rape out of women
s bathrooms and locker rooms anyways? if a cis man is going to rape you in a bathroom he’s going to rape you in a bathroom. he doesn’t have to use an excuse or anything, he’ll just walk in there and do it because no one cares about women getting raped in realty. they turn their head and say it’s not the business

Alan Robertshaw
27 days ago

@ elaine

If I may give a trivial example, but it does illustrate you point.

We once had a debate about whether the driver of a gateway car could also be done for a traffic offence for parking on yellow lines. It hinged on whether the robbery counted as ‘loading and unloading’. The judge said “I think you’re missing the bigger picture here.”

lkeke35
lkeke35
27 days ago

Bigots haven’t come up with new boogeymen since they created bigotry.

The argument that some marginalized group is a danger to women has been used since colonial times! The protection of White cis women and children is always being used as the inspiration for hatred of some other group of people, from the Indian savages stealing white women, to Oriental white slavers, to Black thugs, to Mexcan immigrants, gay men, lesbians, really just everyone! (White men have really been out here arguing that all men of other cultures are after their lucky charms, as an excuse to exterminate those groups). Transgender women are simply the latest group to be cast in the role because of a minor uptick in their visibility in the last ten years.

lkeke35
lkeke35
27 days ago

it gets even more insidious than that because the boogeymen were talking about here, just as in the case of Ms Cade, is pure projection. While they were wielding this boogeyman against everyone else, they also managed to craft plenty of excuses for why it was perfectly acceptable for them to sexually assault women of color, along with the white women they claimed to be protecting from marginalized groups.

Sheila Crosby
Sheila Crosby
27 days ago

Which is easier for a predatory cis male, pretending to be a trans woman, or pretending to be a trans man?

Gerry Sherry
Gerry Sherry
27 days ago

@sheila Crosby
Yeah good point there, but remember bigots don’t think trans men or non-binary people exist, they’re just women trying to hijack male privilege. Never mind that many people (including my ex) are Amab non binary people

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
27 days ago

The argument that some marginalized group is a danger to women has been used since colonial times! The protection of White cis women and children is always being used as the inspiration for hatred of some other group of people, from the Indian savages stealing white women, to Oriental white slavers, to Black thugs, to Mexcan immigrants, gay men, lesbians, really just everyone!

And all of this has a thick streak of misogyny running through it too, in the assumption that (white cis) women are passive things men vie to possess and must protect like jewels in a bank vault, rather than people with agency whose agency should be respected and who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, if society will let them and educate them.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
27 days ago

Bigots pretty much have only one argument, completely unsupported by reality.

Thus it has always been.

Angelia Sparrow
Angelia Sparrow
27 days ago

@MV96 or they think cis men are simply pretending to be trans to gain access to women’s spaces for purposes of assault.

I like to turn the argument back around: “So we acknowledge the problem is men attacking women while hiding under the language of progress, rather than some women needing to pee in privacy.”

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
27 days ago

OT, but can anyone here with better research skills find out who made this portrait of Carl Maria von Weber?

comment image

Surprisingly, that page doesn’t give any author credit, just a link to an old-enough-to-be-in-Project-Gutenberg book that contained it … somewhere. And that may or may not have named the artist who originally did the portrait. I’m not about to read an entire book to find out one name.

Google has been of little help here. Part of the problem being that image search results are flooded with results from monetized stock-photo sites that also don’t say.

Seems a lot of people and sites think that “out of copyright” means “Original author? What original author? Plagiarize at will, commander!” … and make life very difficult for those of us who do not think that.

I suppose it could be worse. Anything contemporary and image search tends to be flooded with endless heaps of Pinterest, Instagram, etc. results that aren’t viewable without signup and that, based on rare instances of Google cache working, are just retweets/etc. of each other without any mention of the original source of the image being shared. Which original source is inevitably buried 50 pages down in the Google search results by all the Pinterest crap.

Google definitely needs to tweak its image search algorithm to prioritize the proverbial horse’s mouth over republishers, old-media or new-media. The odd thing is that they long since did something similar with regular old text search results. With image matches just presenting the hits in plain old chronological order would probably work wonders, since any page bearing a copy of the image is relevant and the oldest one is probably the original publisher (if it’s recent) or an archivist or something, and likely took care to credit the original source (if different from themselves).

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
27 days ago

And then, with more contemporary material, not only must one potentially negotiate rights (and fees), one runs into characters like this one:

https://twitter.com/JAKeDetonator

Try as I might, I cannot seem to find a surname for this person anywhere. This is someone who has, apparently, worked for Lucasfilm and is indubitably a public figure, yet nowhere is their real name on record? (I am assuming, of course, that they don’t in fact come from the long and illustrious line of the Detonator family…)

How should this person be credited in a formal context where Twitter handles and bare given names would not be appropriate? Say, in a bibliography or something.

Dalillama
27 days ago

@Surplus
There are several defined formats for that sort of thing, consult the appropriate style guide for details. The image of Von Maria appears to be unattributed; in most circumstances, attributing it to Wikimedia Commons will be sufficient, and the book will do as a reference otherwise.

Last edited 27 days ago by Dalillama
Full Metal Ox
27 days ago

@Surplus to Requirements:

One image search site you might try is http://tineye.com; it’s not a panacea (and might not help with your specific historical image), but it can help track down the chronological order of online appearances of a given image. I’m a fan of old mobile wallpaper GIFs, and this has enabled me to track down some of their originators (here, for example, are a couple that saw a lot of mileage on wallpaper download sites during the Aughts and Tweens:

http://www.deviantart.com/hikeotron/art/Blue-Rain-12909137

http://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/1pp01a/rain/?st=jeho0u80&sh=76760203)

LeeshaJoy
LeeshaJoy
26 days ago

@MV96

Or that it isn’t rape because penis equals rape and she doesn’t have one so her victims weren’t as traumatized.

Exactly. TERF rhetoric makes it easier for people like Cade to find victims and get away with abuse, because of the unspoken assumption that you need a penis to be a predator.

Elaine The Witch
Elaine The Witch
26 days ago

@Alan

It just makes me angry because rapists do not need a method, or a lie, or a cover story or whatever to rape someone in a public bathroom or lockerroom. it is already the easiest it could possibly be for them. they simply just have to walk through the door and do it to who ever is inside. No cis man has to put on a dress and pretend to be a transwoman to assault someone.

clingfoil
clingfoil
26 days ago

That happened to a close friend of mine once: having presumably been spiked, she regained consciousness in the women’s toilets of a gay pub, being viciously raped (by a cis man). I had heard of several other sexual assaults in that pub, and had reason to suspect the management were in on it. Fuck all could be done. Messed me up somewhat, never mind my friend ;_;

It terrifies me to think of the rapists walking around who know they can get away with it.

Gen Z
Gen Z
26 days ago

Canadian feminists here tend to vilify transgender women, and they have speeches and protests with police enforcement.

Yltra
Yltra
26 days ago

So, as someone from a country with a rich sauna culture, who has gone to naturist parks with my family since I was a twelve year old girl, this argument just never makes sense to me no matter which way you turn it. Trans women are women, of course, but even following TERFs’ logic I just don’t really get the big idea.
I promise you, naked men, women and children can all intermingle in a casual setting and no one will be leered at or traumatized. Seriously, it’s fine. Nudity isn’t inherently sexual, men aren’t sex crazed monsters, seeing a penis or vagina in a decidedly non-sexual context will
not traumatize a child.
Like, on the one hand I get that this is informed by my own cultural experience, that I’m a minority in that, and that for most people being casually naked around people of other genders is unthinkable, but on the other hand I just keep being baffled by how everyone just seems to ignore what seems to me to be the obvious solution. Oh, well.

Luzbelitx
25 days ago

That last tweet reminded me of my two favorite ones:
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