Monday, September 4, 2017

Call-Out Culture, Identity Politics, Political Correctness, and Social Justice Activism: essays and a new lecture

I have written extensively about these interrelated and highly debated topics. In this post, I compile these essays (see links below), and share the description for a brand new lecture I have prepared on this subject (and which summarizes my perspective on these matters). If you are potentially interested in having me present this talk at your college, conference, or other event, please visit my booking page for more details.

THE TALK

A Social Justice Activist's Perspective on Call-Out Culture, Identity Politics, and Political Correctness
Over the last century, social justice activism has played a crucial role in challenging prejudice and promoting equity for women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups. While most of us profess support for these past accomplishments, we may nevertheless resist newer expressions of social justice activism, or dismiss them as examples of “call-out culture,” “identity politics,” or “political correctness” run amok. In this talk, author and activist Julia Serano addresses this discrepancy. Julia has written (particularly in her books Excluded and Outspoken) about how social justice movements sometimes become too exclusive, inflexible, or counterproductive -- tendencies that likely contribute to resistance toward contemporary activism, and for which Julia has suggested potential remedies. Julia also demonstrates how the general public's lack of awareness about how prejudice and discrimination actually work, and how activists can effectively counter them, is a major factor driving this resistance. Generating more light than heat, and remaining accessible to activists and non-activists alike, Julia will discuss the purpose of social justice activism and its limitations. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Balancing activism, "free speech" & "call-out culture"

Last week, I published an essay called Refusing to Tolerate Intolerance, which makes the case that we must challenge and refuse to tolerate acts that are intended to dehumanize, intimidate, and silence minority/marginalized groups. I also explain why those who claim that we *should* tolerate said acts because of "free speech" 1) are misapplying the concept, 2) do not understand how marginalization actually works, 3) are behaving hypocritically, or 4) some combination thereof.

At the end of the piece, I mentioned that I am currently working on a follow up to that essay: “Hate Speech versus Call-Out Culture.” I have written about “call-out culture” at great length in the past, specifically in my second book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive (shown to the right).

To the best of my knowledge, “call-out culture” is a term that originated within intra-activist discourses to describe expressions of activism that seemed misguided or unduly harsh to other activists. Back in the late zeros/aughts and early tens/teens, those of us who discussed this problem recognized that activism was crucial and that some call-outs are indeed necessary, and we were trying to balance that need with the fact that sometimes call-outs (in certain cases and contexts) can do more harm than good. Unfortunately, the phrase has since been appropriated by non-activists as a pejorative to smear any expression of activism that they dislike or disagree with.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

my music on Bandcamp - special offer!

Tomorrow (Friday, August 3rd), Bandcamp is donating 100% of their profits to the Transgender Law Center (a wonderful organization). So I encourage you to check out my old noise-pop band Bitesize and my current solo music project *soft vowels sounds* on that platform. Via those links, you can listen to all the songs for free, and if you enjoy them, please consider purchasing them tomorrow!

If you are unfamiliar with my music, feel free to check out my blogpost Transgender-themed artists, bands, music, songs & anthems, which shares many of my trans-themed songs (including my "Lola" parody: "Ray"), plus links to lists of many other transgender musical artists that you can also support...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lies about Transgender People and the Vagina Monologues

This is one in a series of essays exposing falsehoods forwarded by feminists who are suspicious of or antagonistic toward transgender people. This series includes Debunking “Trans Women Are Not Women” Arguments and my forthcoming essay Transgender People and “Biological Sex” Myths. If you appreciate this work, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

These days, almost every anti-transgender hit-piece written from a feminist perspective will mention an incident that occurred in 2015, in which Mount Holyoke College canceled a scheduled performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues for not being inclusive of transgender people. By citing this instance out of context, these writers attempt to assert or imply that:

1) all trans people must want to censor The Vagina Monologues.
2) more sinisterly, trans people are trying to stop women from talking about their vaginas.
3) this is yet another example of why feminism and trans activism are inherently incompatible.

However, this framing purposefully ignores two crucial factors.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

why my piece won’t be appearing in The Stranger

On Wednesday, June 28th, the Seattle news outlet The Stranger published an article called The Detransitioners: They Were Transgender, Until They Weren't. Amongst its numerous flaws, it gave credence to the notion that there is a “social contagion” to become transgender, and that this is a cause behind why some people eventually decide to detransition.

Back in 2016, I detailed both the biased thinking behind, and the potential harm caused by, this notion, in my lengthy and nuanced essay Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates (and in this follow up). Herzog reached out to interview me for her The Stranger article, saying she had read my essay. I was open to it at first, until it became clear to me that she was planning to legitimize that “social contagion” theory in her piece. When Herzog's article came out last week, I penned a blogpost called Stop pitting detransitioners against happily transitioned people, in which I pointed out the skewed framing and several (albeit not all) of the misconceptions that Herzog's article forwarded.

Friday, June 30, 2017

stop pitting detransitoners against happily transitioned people

People have been asking me to respond to The Stranger's recent "The Detransitioners" article, especially because I am quoted in it. So this is a (not so brief) statement to that effect.

A year ago I wrote a long-read essay called Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates - it was my attempt to address the many issues that are usually overlooked or erased in sensationalistic & fear-mongering articles about people who detransition. Between that piece and a shorter follow up post, I felt like I said just about everything I had to say about the subject.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

trans women are women! plus free book chapters & a NY Times interview

Yesterday I sent out my latest email update - you can read it via the link and/or sign up for my email list here. Here are some of the highlights:

I was interviewed in the New York Times as part of their Pride 2017 coverage - the article is called Julia Serano, Transfeminist Thinker, Talks Trans-Misogyny. You can read it via that link; if it's behind a paywall, here is a PDF version.

I wrote a new Medium essay called Debunking “Trans Women Are Not Women” Arguments. If you like the piece, please click the "heart" icon at the bottom of the article - that way more people on Medium will see it!

I recently made three chapters from my latest book Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism freely available for download - all of them challenge psychological theories and diagnoses that needlessly pathologize transgender people (which is why I wanted to make them readily accessible). Find out how to download them (btw, the linked post also includes excerpts from my novel-in-progress).

I am able to make these book chapters and the Debunking “Trans Women Are Not Women” Arguments piece freely available thanks to my Patreon supporters. If you support me there (for as little as $1 per month) you'll have access to behind-the-scenes updates & polls, and unpublished writings & recordings. If you pledge at higher levels, you may be eligible for rewards such as free e-books, signed copies of any of my previous books, and/or choosing the topic of a future blogpost. So if you appreciate my work, please consider supporting me there!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

my first patron-requested post on Patreon!

As you may (or may not) know, last year I joined the crowdfunding site Patreon. People who support me there (for as little as $1 per month) can read almost all of the posts, which include behind-the-scenes updates, polls on what I should write about, plus unpublished writings & recordings. People who pledge at higher levels may be eligible for rewards, such as free e-books and/or signed copies of any of my previous books (depending upon the level) - more details can be found here.

At certain pledge levels, I offer the reward of writing a blogpost about any subject of a patron's choosing (within reason). Well, today I published my first ever patron-requested post - it's on the topic of passing and employment post-transition. It's a public post, so even if you're not a supporter, you can read it via the link.

If you appreciate it and/or my writings more generally, please consider supporting me there!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

regarding that transracial/transgender Hypatia article & accusations of "witch hunts"

As some of you may know by now, about a month or so ago, the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia published an article by Rachel Tuvel called "In Defense of Transracialism." I have not read the article (it is behind a paywall), but by all accounts it draws parallels between "transracial" and transgender, and makes the case that, if we accept the latter, then we should accept the former.

Tuvel's article was widely critiqued by academics (and to a lesser degree, activists) with knowledge of the fields of critical race theory and transgender studies for reasons explained here by Shannon Winnubst (who is one of the co-authors/signers of an open letter to Hypatia asking the journal to retract the paper). In response to the letter, Hypatia apologized for publishing it (although, as of the time I write this, they have not retracted it). Hypatia apologized (whereas other journals likely would not have) because of its dedication to "pluralist feminist inquiry" and because the journal views itself as "an important site for the publication of scholarship long-considered marginal in philosophy." As Trans Lady Academic points out, the response stemmed from "commitments that several editors at Hypatia itself had laid out to avoiding the exploitative and anthropological gaze."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Outspoken is a Lambda Literary Award finalist!

Earlier this week I learned that my latest book, Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism, is a Lambda Literary Award finalist in the category of Transgender Nonfiction! It is the first time one of my books has become a Lambda finalist, so I am excited by this news, and extend my congrats to all the other finalists!

For those who haven't seen the book yet, Outspoken compiles 48 of my trans-themed pieces from over the last decade-plus, including many of my early slam poems, essays and manifestos written contemporaneously with Whipping Girl and Excluded (including chapters originally intended for those books), articles challenging DSM diagnoses and the psychopathologization of trans people & gender variance, plus some of my recent writings addressing differences within trans communities and approaches to activism.

Outspoken is available (in paperback & e-book) at Amazon & other online outlets (a complete list can be found here), and bookstores & libraries can purchase it through Ingram. If you belong to, or write for, a media outlet (print, webzine, blog, etc.) and you are interested in reviewing or publishing excerpts from the book, please contact me and I can provide you copies.

In the coming months, I plan to publish blogposts covering each section of the book (including sneak-peaks & excerpts). But in the meantime, here are some Outspoken-related pages you can explore:

Finally, if you have read Outspoken and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review of it on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites (this really helps with garnering attention for the book).

Thanks for listening! -j.