Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dallas Denny's "First Glance" of Gender Hurts by Sheila Jeffreys

Dallas Denny recently wrote an opinion piece based on a "first look" of Sheila Jeffreys' newest book Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism.  Since Denny is a man, he feels the need to insert his penis opinion into a topic that he hasn't even fully read.  Well, Sir, I read your article in its entirety, which is more respect than you gave Prof. Jeffreys.  So, I will be critiquing your article piece-by-excruciatingly-painful-piece.  Let's do this, yeah?  For those of you reading, Denny's "critique" is HERE at an unbiased website called "tgforum."  Just so we're all clear, TG is shorthand for transgender.

So, here we go.

Author's note: since I cannot edit the paragraph spacing as I would like, the highlighted sections are Denny's critique, while the un-highlighted are my own thoughts.

>>Raymond’s stated intent was to “morally mandate transsexualism out of existence,” and in Empire she attempted to build a rational case for doing just that. The result was a 185-page rant in which she posited the Thorazine-worthy notion that male-to-female transsexualism is a plot engineered by the male-dominated medical establishment to infiltrate the womens’ movement and ultimately “wrest from women the power inherent in female biology” and “make the biological woman obsolete by the creation of man-made ‘she-males’” (p. xvii).
Well, you see, if people ultimately learned to accept and truly LOVE the bodies that their parents gave them, then big-pharmaceutical corporations, greedy plastic surgeons, and the porn industry would go out of business overnight because transsexualism would no longer be a practice.  This is hardly a problem.    Also, your use of "rant" quickly followed by "Thorazine-worthy" is incredibly ableist.  When in doubt, just infer that women are batshit insane when we dare to claim that penis is male. Denny, if you cannot see how the medical establishment benefits from the insecurities of gender non-conforming people, then you really need to wake up and smell the coffee.

>>It doesn’t take long for Raymond’s lack of objectivity to show. In the first page of the Preface she writes of RenĂ©e Richards, “It takes castrated balls to play women’s tennis” (p. xiii). In later pages she directs personal attacks at male-to-female transsexuals Sandy Stone and Christy Barsky (pp. 101-103), and Jan Morris (pp. 86-90) (deliberately misgendering all three), coins the term male-to-constructed-female, and accuses all MTF and FTM transsexuals of raping women’s bodies. Seriously. She writes, “All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves…” (p. 104). This while she is (yes, I’ll say it!) raping the minds of her readers.
Yes, because trans-jacktivists are known for being objective, kind, and truthful.  Got it.  Also, you and I both know damn well that when Janice Raymond was talking about "all transsexuals" she was referring to male-to-trans individuals, at least that is my opinion. I agree that Janice should have been more clear with that statement, because now there are people like YOU conflating the two.  Let's be clear here, it has always been MEN who have dictated what it means to be a woman, M2T transgenderism is just another extension of that control over women's bodies.  F2Ts on the other hand internalize society's messages about women and when they discover that they don't "measure up" to womanhood and figure that it would be better to just transition.

>>At its best, Empire is an unhinged screed; at its worst, it reads like the scribblings of a paranoid schizophrenic — and yet despite its obvious bias, despite its mischaracterizations of transsexualism and transsexuals, and despite hundreds and perhaps thousands of denunciations and negative reviews, despite its having been called hate speech, it has been and remains an influential book in certain feminist circles.
More ableism bullshit.  "Unhinged" and "paranoid schizophrenic?" Really?  Also, bias is everywhere.  Everyone has biases.  Biases and judgments protect human beings.  When you decide not to hire a particular babysitter who later turns out to be a child-rapist, you are making a JUDGEMENT based on a BIAS that will protect your kids.  Catch my drift?  So, stop with the "biased" crap.  I'm biased, you're DEFINITELY biased, Janice is biased, Julia Serano is biased, Sheila Jeffreys is biased and "biased" is not a logically sound counter-argument.  Get over it.  Also, yes, despite The Transsexual Empire being decried as "hate speech" by droves of you BIASED individuals, you still end up not getting your way in terms of censorship.  Go cry to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, why don't you?

Also, why are we still talking about Janice Raymond?  I thought the book you were offering a half-baked opinion about was Gender Hurts by Sheila Jeffreys.  Can we get to your actual "argument" yet?

>>Now, thirty-five years after the first publication of Empire, another separatist feminist has written a book about transsexualism. This time around the author is Australian Sheila Jeffreys and the book is Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism
Finally. I thought we were going to have to wait thirty-five years for you to get to the point.

>>I didn’t buy Gender Hurts. I will never buy a copy, for I am not interested in financing hatred. I was, however, willing to look it over to see if it had met my expectations, and so I was happy when Ken Dollarhide said he did not wish to keep his copy and asked if he might send it to me.
So, you didn't buy Gender Hurts and let's face it, it's not because you didn't want to "finance hatred."  You didn't buy her book for the same reason that you most likely wouldn't buy anything from women, and in particular lesbians, who disagree with your incredibly narrow views of the world.  You're free to buy or not buy whatever you want, don't get me wrong, but I know your lesbophobia plays into your non-purchasing decision, and I will get to that later.

>>This is not a review of Jeffreys’ book. I have not yet read it, and perhaps I never well. This is, as the title implies, a first look. It’s my reaction to a quick scan of the work.
Are you even trying at this point?  Look, even I read Whipping Girl by Julia Serano just so that I could be educated and knowledgeable about my ideological opposition's point of view.  So, you're essentially just offering your opinion without giving the author the time of day.  I am going to take this moment to remark that hearing your opposition out is a sign of maturity and integrity.  How am I supposed to take you seriously if you have not even extended basic respect to your opposition?

>>Nor is this the first time I’ve written about Gender Hurts. When I learned Jeffreys, whose dislike of transsexuals is manifest in her existing writing, was working on a book about trans issues which would be published by Routledge, I drafted a letter to the heads of both the publisher and its parent company, Taylor & Francis. Jamison Green agreed to co-sign.
Of course you did.  Censorship is nothing new to the trans community.  If you don't like what a woman has written or if you don't like the idea of her speaking publicly, you attempt to ban her book or ban her from speaking.  This whole thing reminds me of when I was a little kid reading my Harry Potter books and Christian conservatives all around were working very hard to try to get the title banned from libraries all over the country.  Note: censoring literature does not make you seem progressive or educated, it makes you an oppressor.  Also, your wording in this paragraph is COMPLETELY misleading.  From reading this paragraph, you make it sound like you simply wrote a letter to express your concerns over Jeffreys' use of pronouns in the book. Your actual letter requested that her publisher pull the book from its publishing schedule.  "Well, Jeffreys could have just changed all the pronouns and then it would have been published."  No, because you STILL would have had a problem with the content of her arguments and would have kept fighting for it not to get published.

We're not stupid.  Do yourself a favor and stop pretending that we are.

>>Interestingly, the page count of Jeffreys’ book is almost the same as Raymond’s; at 189 pages it weighs in just four pages longer than Raymond’s 185.
How on earth could this be?
 A book that is almost roughly the same length as another book that is similar in content?  Conspiracy!  Sound the alarms!

>>The first thing I saw when I opened Gender Hurts  was a heading titled “The Efficacy of Sex Reassignment – Medical Disagreement.” The section led off with a discussion of the 1979 Archives of General PsychiatryGender Hurts — with an intent to stop transsexual surgery. It was a paper with findings that differed from other follow-up studies, and it was immediately and roundly criticized on methodological grounds (cf Fleming et al., 1980). Jeffrey chooses not to tell her readers about the controversy and instead implies Meyer & Reter was an early and groundbreaking study. That’s not true.
If curious readers want to hear the pro-gender and pro-medical establishment side of the argument, there are plenty of sources out there to see.  Jeffreys' work is clearly a counter-argument; it's a feminist analysis of the politics of transgenderism.  She, like many other academic scholars before her, put forth a hypothesis and found sources to back up her arguments.  You act like this is something both new and shocking.

>>Two years earlier Stanley Biber had given a presentation about outcomes in 100 cases at the Fifth Interdisciplinary Symposium on Gender Dysphoria Syndrome. Two years before that Donald Laub had published a paper describing postsurgical outcome of 93 transsexual patients. Four years before that, John Money published a paper describing outcome of 24 cases. They, and dozens of other researchers, have found sex reassignment surgery to be remarkably effective – but again, Jeffreys’ readers would never know that.

Behold, these three men, who all work for the medical establishment and do not find ANY financial incentive to further their agendas towards insecure people, have declared that transsexualism is 100% correct and nobody ever has problems...wait.  Did you seriously just list John Money?  The doctor who oversaw the case of David Reimer?  John Money was a fraud, a quack, and for lack of a better word, a pedophile to be honest.  Here, check out this quote from the Wikipedia page for David Reimer.

Reimer said that Dr. Money forced the twins to rehearse sexual acts involving "thrusting movements", with David playing the bottom role.[4] Reimer said that, as a child, he had to get "down on all fours" with his brother, Brian Reimer, "up behind his butt" with "his crotch against" his "buttocks".[4] Reimer said that Dr. Money forced David, in another sexual position, to have his "legs spread" with Brian on top.[4] Reimer said that Dr. Money also forced the children to take their "clothes off" and engage in "genital inspections".[4] On at "least one occasion", Reimer said that Dr. Money took a photograph of the two children doing these activities.[4] Dr. Money's rationale for these various treatments was his belief that "childhood 'sexual rehearsal play'" was important for a "healthy adult gender identity".[4]

Don't ever use John Money's name around me if you're trying to make an argument.  Denny, I am taking you less and less seriously as I continue reading your article.  I am running into the negatives here as my tolerance meter inches ever-so-closely to zero.

Oh goddess help me, do I have to keep going with this?  I suppose I do, just to be fair.  Just to prove to you that I read your entire article which is more than what you've done for Prof. Jeffreys.

>>Such selective quotation plagues Jeffreys’ book. Whenever possible she cites references which appear to support her point and avoids material which doesn’t. She even dredges up relatively rare voices of people who regret having had surgical sex reassignment, making it seem as if great hordes of us would choose not to do it had we the chance to revisit our decisions to transition and/or have surgery.

I would hope that Jeffreys wouldn't give airtime to someone like John Money.  Just saying.  Oh, wait, you're bringing up the voices of detransitioners! Of which, I was one of the people interviewed for her book!  Well, it's nice to meet you Denny.  My name is Heath.  I'm here to let you know that detransitioners are not as rare as you think, despite trans activists pushing us under the rug and silencing us constantly.  As someone who would have GREATLY benefited from seeing pieces like Gender Hurts much sooner in my life, I would have discovered radical feminism sooner and I never would have transitioned.  I regularly speak with women who tell me they were on the path to transition and then discovered radical feminism and became empowered women.

>>I didn’t continue reading because my eye was captured by the title of the next section: “Identifying ‘Real’ Transgenders.” Really, Sheila? Transgenders? Have you never heard of people-first language?

No, you didn't continue reading that section because you don't give a damn about transition regretters/detransitioners.  Your respect for your opposing points of view is staggeringly low.  Well, luckily for me, radical feminists support me where trans activists did not (and continue not to do so).  

>>In the same section, Jeffreys misgenders Riki Anne Wilchins — which isn’t a big deal because Riki is known for misgendering herself. A quick flip through of the pages, however, revealed deliberate misgendering of both male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals — a nasty and unnecessary trick. and one Jamison and I anticipated and asked Routledge to police. Clearly, they didn’t.
Similarly, Jeffreys uses quotation marks as bludgeons; for instance, a section on page 48 is titled “Transgender ‘Feminism”. This of course indicates to her readers that any feminism shown by transpeople is illegitimate and not comparable to the “real” feminism shown by “real” women.

Critiquing semantics is both boring and predictable.  The reason you're doing so is because you don't have enough analysis to formulate a concise rebuttal to the book.  Moving on.
>>Weyers and his colleagues studied 50 postsurgical transsexual women and found microbial microflora that were simiilar to those of premenstrual girls: “Our study indicates that the microflora of the neovagina is characterized by bacterial species from the skin and the intestinal microflora, somewhat similar to what is observed with premenarchal girls…”
They also found microbial populations similar to those of women with vaginitis, and they noted an absense of lactobacilii (which is present in the vaginas of ovulating women, but not in girls) in all but one of their subjects.
What Jeffreys in arguing here is transsexual vaginas are not vaginas at all. And why is that? Because multivariate statistics found a significant difference between the microbes in vaginas of women born with them and those who acquired them later in life. In what world, I wonder, would one even begin to think there would not be differences in these two populations — and in what world would one consider the difference invalidating? In Sheila Jeffreys’ world, apparently.

I will not offer commentary here, as I admit that I am unfamiliar with this study or the limitations and/or methodology associated with it.  I encourage my blog readers who ARE familiar with this particular topic to offer their two-cents in the comments section below.  
>>Jeffreys takes great issue with treatment which accommodates the gender identities of trans children; in fact, in an attempt to link pubertal delay and transition to forced sterilization, she calls it eugenics — but she neglects to note the social engineers are not medical professionals, not parents, but trans children themselves. This is a point I made more than 15 years ago in a book chapter about Christine Jorgensen, and it holds for many trans children and teens: “It was the sheer force of her will which set the process in motion, persuading reluctant physicians to undertake such a novel set of treatments. Although she did not wield the lancet, Christine Jorgensen did her own sex change, moving into the female role with confidence and aplomb.”
I, like Christine Jorgensen and like many trans children, am my own eugenicist.

I wanted to be a dinosaur when I was five.  Luckily my parents didn't encourage that idea.  Even more luckily, there weren't plastic surgeons encouraging my juvenile "otherkin" fantasies.  (Or, you know, just regular little-kid fantasies).  The social engineers ARE the medical professionals and parents.  Children do not have legal rights nor can they offer consent to treatments, nor are their brains developed enough to make such life-altering decisions about their bodies.  If they're too young to drive a car, vote, drink alcohol, have sex, or any number of things that come along with having a FULLY developed abled brain, they they are too young for this, and you know it.  Also, being your own eugenicist isn't something to brag about, it's something that should make you feel saddened.  Why let the system force you do have sex reassignment surgery as they do in countries like Iran when you can just elect to do it to yourself!  It's the equivalent of "you can't fire me, I quit!"  Either way, you are still out of a job.  The consequence is still the same, and you're not the only one who feels the effects of those consequences.

>>Jeffreys uses the word transgender in her title and throughout her book, but her primary target is transsexuals. Like Janice Raymond, she considers sex reassignment harmful to trans people, and, like Raymond, she blames transpeople for perpetuating the very same binary gender system our community is trying hard to destroy. Like Raymond, Jeffreys doesn’t seem to realize she plays her own part in continuing such norms by adopting a lesbian uniform that makes her look more than a bit like a man. She’s about four shots of testosterone away from passing as one. Somehow, though, it’s all our fault — and if we say it isn’t, we’re mistaken or lying. Moreover, we’re somehow suppressing her right to speak.
Remember earlier when I said I would discuss your lesbophobia?  Well, now is the time for me to do that.  First off, you think there is really such a thing as a "lesbian uniform?"  What the hell is that?  Lesbians look as differently as any other women out there.  I want to know what the hell you're talking about.  And according to you, this mythical "lesbian uniform" makes her "look more than a bit like a man."  You go on to further state that "she's about four shots of testosterone away from passing as one."  Do you have any idea how disgusting that is?  Women, and men, can look on the outside however they want without NEEDING to be the opposite sex, or something in between like "genderqueer."  Your language sounds like it's bordering on this:

Your hate for gender non-conforming dykes is reprehensible.  You would much rather butches and butch-appearing women transition.  You're part of society's lesbophobia and misogyny problem, and yet you INSIST you are "one of us."  You're not. You're an oppressor.

>>Jeffreys’ work, while essentially mirroring that of Raymond, doesn’t sound quite so bizarre. She is a far better writer than Raymond and as such might have written a far more insidious and dangerous book. I don’t know that. I have only skimmed the work. I can say, however, that having quickly looked over Jeffreys’ book, it is a nasty, one-sided political hack job.
Yes, Jeffreys AND Raymond both are very good writers, and I hope their works continue getting the attention they deserve. I'm also glad you think that this literature is "insidious and dangerous."  That means people reading these books will be able to think for themselves.  If your ideology is so sound, a couple books couldn't be enough to make your ideological foundation crumble to pieces, would it? Hmm.

>>My conclusion is that, like the Meyer & Reter study of 1979, Jeffreys’ positions in Gender Hurts were determined before the book was written. It’s what I expected, and it’s why Jamison and I wrote that letter to Routledge. We were prescient, and Routledge should be ashamed for allowing a hate-filled book to come to press.
Your positions were solidified before skimming over Gender Hurts too.  What's your point?  Again with the proposed censorship too.  You fought, you didn't get your way this time.  C'est la vie, moussier. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks, and excellent critique...

dokutou-mekki said...

I remember the attempts to ban Harry Potter! You're right, these people calling for censorship sound just like them.

I have also read stuff in opposition to my politics just to know what the other side is thinking and to clarify my own view. There are a lot of really gross books out there but I'm not calling for them to be banned. Can you imagine if we couldn't read awful, but influential books from the past and learn from them?

All these attempts at censorship and them not even reading the book before complaining about it shows how shallow their movement is.

Malady of Mortality said...

"perhaps thousands of denunciations and negative reviews"- Appeal to Popularity

"roundly criticized on methodological grounds" By whom and what were the criticisms? Does he even know?

"remarkably effective" As if dysphoria cannot be treated by therapy and psychiatric medication. The truth is "sex reassignment surgery" is cosmetic surgery, inexplicably paid for by the tax payers dollar in many developed countries.

"John Money published a paper describing" Appeal to Authority

"a nasty and unnecessary trick" Apparently reality is a nasty trick to this dood.

"the female role" Being female is not a "role" its a biological reality. What a sexist dick.

"by adopting a lesbian uniform that makes her look more than a bit like a man" Ad hominem

"Jeffreys’ positions in Gender Hurts were determined before the book was written." That is what academics tend to do when they make an argument, doofus.

I love how he puts real women in quotations as if he thinks trannies can be better adult female humans=women than real women can even though men can NEVER be women, only an offensive, black-face like caricature. Thoroughly insulting.

I can only imagine how painful it would be to detransition and have all of malestream society against you, especially the influential trans lobby which is of course malestream. They say detransitions exist in such small numbers they do not matter. So dehumanizing. The truth is you do matter and in the future when the young people of today grow up they will realize they were duped and living a lie.

Keep up the great work Heath.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thoughtful analysis. I did not like Denny's review, but he certainly sounded confident, emphatic and convinced. I am looking forward to reading more of Jeffreys book.