The academic mission of testing controversial opinions

Kathleen got my attention.

So I had to read the explainer to see if it’s all that bad. It’s all that bad and worse. It doesn’t read like grown-up university policy writing at all, it reads like homework.

How it’s filed:

Home > Equality, Diversity and Inclusion > Student EDI Learning Resources > Learn More > Trans and/or non-binary > What is Transphobia?

The definition:

Transphobia is the hatred, fear, disbelief, or mistrust of trans and gender non-conforming people.

Key word there – disbelief. If we don’t believe every single thing a self-declared trans person tells us about xirself, we are transphobic.

That’s telling, because it’s not generally part of the definition of misogyny or sexism or racism or homophobia or contempt for the working class. Belief doesn’t generally come into it, because it’s all a matter of “you are a woman / a person of color / not straight / a worker and therefore you are beneath me and deserving of persecution.” In this context trans is radically different, because it’s not about “beneath me,” it’s about truth. We’re required to believe, and if we can’t we are branded as “transphobic” and thus beneath everyone and deserving of persecution.

To the explaining part:

Trans and non-binary people have always existed within all societies and there are documented instances from at least 4500 years ago. 

Nonsense. People have messed around with gender in various ways probably forever, but being what is called “trans” or “non-binary” is a new invention.

In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of transphobia in the mainstream and social media, which has fuelled increased transphobic hate incidents in society…This increased transphobia been particularly severe for trans women, who have been the target of high-profile, celebrity campaigns that deny the trans experience and deliberately suggest trans women pose a threat to cis women by distorting statistics of male violence to imply it is a characteristic of trans women.

Nobody “denies the trans experience.” That’s fatuous. We don’t know what goes on in other people’s heads, and that’s the end of it. What we deny (or question or doubt or analyze) is the claim that people can be literally the other sex because that’s what they feel like in their heads. I, for one, don’t believe that feelings in the head can change one’s body to the other sex. I can’t believe it. I can mouth the words (but I refuse to), but I can’t actually believe it. That’s not denying anyone’s experience, it’s being aware that there’s a material world outside people’s heads and that thoughts aren’t magic.

And we don’t “deliberately suggest” that trans women pose a threat to women, we say very clearly that we can’t know which trans women will be violent toward us and which won’t. We don’t “distort statistics of male violence to imply it is a characteristic of trans women,” we say very clearly that male violence is male violence and we can’t tell in advance which males will indulge in it.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

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