Thursday, July 7, 2022

Transphobic cis man performatively announcing ownership of femininity

female silhouette against peacock feathers

Jack Posobiec posted a picture of a celebrity trans man, pre-transition — the trans man already had a famous career in the days when he presented as a woman — and Posobiec commented: "Remember what they took from us".

It's plainly sexist. The implication is that women (or people who look like women) belong to men; the illusion and spectacle of femininity belongs to men. When a trans man (or, perhaps, a woman) begins presenting in a more conventionally masculine way, instead of seeing a person who is self-actualizing, there is a collective "us" from whom the feminine image has been robbed.

Rhetorically, it echoes the form of Nazi antisemitism. There is a "they" who is allegedly stealing some kind of cultural purity from "us." As a matter of Posobiec's personal history, "Posobiec targeted Jewish journalists with antisemitic hate, as Hatewatch detailed in a story about his links to the white supremacist movement." (Southern Poverty Law Center, July 8, 2020) And from the Southern Poverty Law Center's profile page on him: "He has also collaborated with white nationalists, antigovernment extremists, members of the Proud Boys, and neo-Nazis in his capacity as an operative." So the language is related. It doesn't come from nowhere.

Here's a screencap posted to Twitter, which also has a URL to Posobiec's original July 5, 2022 post on Telegram if you have to see the original for yourself.

A reminder: Transphobia is sexist. And also linked to antisemitism and fascism.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Amazon deforestation update in Brazil

Deforestation news. From CNN:

Brazil's Amazon rainforest has been deforested by a record amount in the first half of 2022, according to the country's Space Research Institute (INPE).

Data from INPE satellites shows that 3,750 square kilometers (1,448 square miles) of the world´s largest rainforest were lost in Brazil between January 1 and June 24, the largest area since 2016, when the institute began this type of monitoring.

INPE satellites have been registering new monthly deforestation records since the beginning of the year, and it also registered a record 2,562 fires in the country´s Amazon last month.

May and June generally mark the beginning of significant annual burning and deforestation in the Amazon, due to the dry season.

"Brazil sees record Amazon deforestation in first half of 2022," Rodrigo Pedroso and Jorge Engels, CNN, July 4, 2022.

In November 2020, there was this:

The world watched as California and the Amazon went up in flames this year, but the largest tropical wetland on earth has been ablaze for months, largely unnoticed by the outside world.

South America's Pantanal region has been hit by the worst wildfires in decades. The blazes have already consumed about 28% of the vast floodplain that stretches across parts of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. They are still not completely under control.

The fires have destroyed unique habitats and wrecked the livelihoods of many of the Pantanal's diverse indigenous communities. But their damaging impact reaches far beyond the region.

Wetlands like the Pantanal are Earth's most effective carbon sinks — ecosystems that absorb and store more carbon than they release, keeping it away from the atmosphere. At roughly 200,000 square kilometers, the Pantanal comprises about 3% of the globe's wetlands and plays a key role in the carbon cycle.

When these carbon-rich ecosystems burn, vast amounts of heat-trapping gases are released back into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect.

"The world's largest wetlands are on fire. That's a disaster for all of us," Ivana Kottasová, Henrik Pettersson and Krystina Shveda. CNN. November 13, 2020.

And in August 2020:

A Brazilian sanctuary, home to 15% of the world's population of blue macaws, has been consumed by fires -- and there are fears for the well-being of the rare birds.

* * *

Between 700 and 1,000 blue macaws lived on the ranch, she said. "It is the largest known population of free macaws in the world," Barreto told CNN.

"Fires destroy home of one of the world's rarest birds in Brazil," Eduardo Duwe, Marcia Reverdosa and Rodrigo Pedroso, CNN, August 19, 2020.


Monday, July 4, 2022

When there is a mass shooting, transphobes start rumors that the shooter is trans

Predictably: Before a mass shooter is identified or caught, someone always starts a rumor online that the shooter is trans. And many people are happy to spread the disinformation.


On the very terrible July 3, 2022 column in the New York Times

Concerning a screed by Pamela Paul

Singal is on it

Jesse Singal's version of anti-trans trolling is (a) wait for someone to publish an anti-trans article (b) wait for trans people to criticize it (c) counter-criticize by saying that's not exactly what the anti-trans person said on some excruciatingly tiny point.

An analogy of my own making, for illustrative purposes: (a) A random transphobe might say: You're a trash human being and you belong in a dumpster! (b) Trans person replies: Not gonna jump in a dumpster for you. (c) The Jesse Singal-ism would be: No one said they expect you to jump in it of your own free will. You should apologize to the transphobe for misrepresenting what they said.

Pamela Paul wrote, "As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word 'women' has become verboten," linking to an NYT article by Powell a month earlier that noted that an ACLU tweet "neglected to mention a relevant demographic: women."

"Verboten" means "forbidden," FYI.

Thus the reply of Rebecca McCray, an ACLU writer: "I work at one of those civil liberties orgs being accused by the NYT of forbidding the use of the word 'woman'...this [is] a harmful lie..."

So the predictable Singal response was "at no point in the column did Paul say the ACLU has a policy outright forbidding the use of the word 'woman'".

No, she just used the German word for "forbidden," mentioned the ACLU, and linked to an article that also mentions the ACLU, ostensibly to support her claim that the word is forbidden.

You can probably understand why people are confused, right? Your social team, at least, was so scared to use the word 'woman' that they altered an important RBG quote! I think that came across as a bit much to a lot of people.
Also, just as a matter of fact given that you are calling her a liar publicly, at no point in the column did Paul say the ACLU has a policy outright forbidding the use of the word 'woman' or its variants. You should correct that, because it's just plain untrue.

The particularly infuriating part of this Singal response is that he says (in his 2nd tweet) that Paul never said the ACLU has such a policy, even though (per his 1st tweet) Paul, in his view, might have reasonably observed that the ACLU sure appears to have such a policy.

You can probably understand why people are confused, right?

It's his trolling method to say: The transphobe didn't say that — but very reasonably could have said it, or did say something functionally identical — but nevertheless can't be held accountable for it because your paraphrase will never be the exact actual thing they said.


Transphobe: I accuse you of X

Trans people and allies: Actually, Not-X, because Extra Details that disprove the accusation

Singal: Original Transphobe never alleged Not-Extra-Details, and your suggestion that they did is untrue and you should correct the record

Of course, he's shut off replies.

Yes, bad NYT articles have consequences — The column ate Bette Midler's brain

Bette Midler tweeted her concern that people were avoiding the word "woman." The Washington Post clarified on July 6:

In a tweet, Midler said her statement was in response to a “fascinating and well written” opinion piece that ran in the New York Times over the weekend, which argued that “women” was becoming a forbidden word, edged out by gender-neutral terms such as “pregnant people.”

“There was no intention of anything exclusionary or transphobic in what I said; it wasn’t about that,” Midler wrote.

Others commented:

If you're famous, here's a thing you can do

Did you miss the column?

I have picked it apart. See " One Kind of Transphobia: Imagining Cis-Phobia". It's a 12-minute read on Medium. Medium lets you read a certain number of stories for free every month. You may also consider a paid membership on the platform.

old photograph of woman baseball player pointing figure at umpire

Saturday, July 2, 2022

How SCOTUS could rig the 2024 election

In this hypothetical 2024 election: Biden wins the popular vote and under normal circumstances would also win the Electoral College vote. However, several states with Republican-controlled legislatures decide to ignore their population's vote in favor of Biden and instead simply hand their electoral votes to DeSantis. Any voters who protest in the streets will be charged with sedition, because the election winner "is" whoever the state legislature says it is, regardless of the actual vote. DeSantis is sworn in and says there will never be elections again.

He quotes the conservative Judge J. Michael Luttig: "Trump and the Republicans can only be stopped from stealing the 2024 election at this point if the Supreme Court rejects the independent state legislature doctrine and Congress amends the Electoral Count Act to constrain Congress' own power to reject state electoral votes and decide the presidency."

a hand is put up defensively
Photo by Salman Hossain Saif on Unsplash

How do you know you're not an extremist?

I saw some of Michael Shermer's transphobic tweets and picked up a copy of his 2000 book Denying History to try to figure out what's going on there.

Below, emphasis mine:

"We all write our own ideological scripts, of course, so what is the difference between our scripts and the scripts of extremists? If we assume that the underlying beliefs of all extremists are false, we have to admit that at some point in our lives most of us qualify as extremists. But, Goertzel explains, the 'true beliefs' of extremist ideological thinking are often so amorphous and ambiguous that it is difficult to refute them. Further, when these beliefs form the basis of group cohesion, when they create in their followers a passionate, almost obsessional attachment to them, that is another sign of extremism, as is the polarization of the world into unambiguous categories, biased rhetorical and semantic argumentation, all-inclusive systems that offer the key to wisdom and truth, the dogmatic use of texts where the leader's words become hallowed, and the denial of contradictory information. Each of these characteristics is a necessary but not sufficient delimiter of extremist ideology. It is the combination of many of these indicators that makes an ideology extreme. The belief that the Holocaust did not happen, for example, is most certainly cohesive for the denier movement — the entire ideology revolves around it. The followers are deeply passionate, indeed, almost obsessive about their belief. They have polarized their world into Jews and non-Jews, exterminationists and revisionists, lies and truth. Their bias, as we shall see, drives them to select evidence, analogies, and documents that fit their belief and ignore those that do not." (p. 91)
Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (University of California Press, 2000)

This interests me because (1) I blogged here about political polarization in 2017 (2) some of it sounds not unlike what it feels like to be on the receiving end of transphobia. When cis people start worrying about the existence of trans people and try to stop people from being trans, it becomes a consuming belief for them.

I wrote more about this book and my reflections on transphobia. See: "Transphobia is a Form of Denialism". It's a 10-minute read on Medium. Medium lets you read a certain number of stories for free every month. You may also consider a paid membership on the platform.

Image by Oimheidi from Pixabay

GOP is using rhetoric proven to succeed at grabbing power

The first 10 tweets of a 30-tweet thread:

It's not an accident:

electric chair

In case you missed it

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