Guest post: The same stereotypes that are used to oppress women

Originally a comment by Dave Ricks on The meeting should never have happened at all.

I appreciate the university addressing the problem as an employment issue:

We hired an external fact-finder with expertise in human resources issues. I have received the report and we are taking decisive action to ensure these events will not be repeated.

The employment issue gave a concrete framework for procedure (including legality). That was different than arguing for freedom of expression in the abstract (which was the popular argument, and maybe valid, but would lead to a different chain of logic, and probably conclude in terms of ideologies).

I see two remaining issues.

One issue is the so-called apology that Shepherd’s supervisor Prof. Rambukkana still has posted here as an open letter to her. He gives his reasons for the meeting (which are invalid), and he apologizes for not being more supportive in the meeting — as if the only thing he did wrong was to make her feel bad, and he was right to have the meeting as if she did something wrong.

My other, larger remaining issue is what motivated Shepherd’s inquisitors on the recording. The university statement says, “Basic guidelines and best practices… were ignored or not understood,” but why? I’ve been reading Facebook comments on the university statement here. Many commenters argue in terms of freedom of expression — arguing for expression, and blaming restriction against expression on ideology in the abstract. But I’ve seen only one commenter Franny Connell articulate this explicitly:

My heart goes out to Lindsay Shepherd. This is likely what she will remember most from her years in the education system. An experience of disrespect, at the hands of people with power over her, and public attack.

Transactivism has created many many issues that we are not allowed to speak of. A clash of rights exists between trans people’s rights and: women’s rights, lesbians’ rights, as well as child protection considerations. But it has become *bigotry* (ad hominem!) to discuss the impact of trans activism on language, freedom of speech, and women’s rights. In order to avoid penalization (which is exactly what happened to Ms. Shepherd) we must place the feelings, gender expression, preferences and sufferings of trans people far above everything else. This is an insult to trans people. It presumes they cannot handle debate and criticism. This line of thinking is a misunderstanding or misappropriation of the concept of intersectionality within feminist thought.

Consider, Canadian Universities, that the other (distinctly separate) minority group, here, impacted by trans rights….are women. Human females. Your students. Lindsay’s feelings. Lindsay’s thoughts. Lindsay’s rights to an education without public humiliation. I’m glad she has received an apology.

Now, please consider women as a separate group from trans people. Because we are. Your centre for women and trans people doesn’t seem to consider women’s issues, such as the Montreal Massacre, worth mentioning. See deleted post from their Facebook wall on December 6. Screen shots are available. Please provide your Centre for Women and Trans People with education on women’s issues. Women’s issues are *not* the same as gender identity and expression issues. They are different. Different is okay. I’m okay, you’re okay….just different. Very basic stuff. Maybe your gender studies program can assist here. Thank you.

Connell added:

Feminism seeks to liberate women from sex role stereotypes. Through whatever means, this is the goal. Trans people *use* sex role stereotypes to express their identity. They value and uphold these stereotypes. The same stereotypes that are used to oppress women. To me, the clash is obvious. It is beyond me how it is thought of as fair and just to conflate these two different groups.

I love the way Connell framed the whole thing. The conflict was created by an institution like the university 1) Conflating women’s issues with gender identity issues, 2) Giving gender identity issues top priority, and I’ll add 3) Not saying this is what’s happening.

I also like her suggestion, at the end of her first comment, that university gender studies could look into what is going on here.

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