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 Post subject: J.K. Rowling's TERF War
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 11:24 am 
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I will say at the outset that the transgender experience is something I know very little about, and I’ve not commented on transgender issues before for this reason. But I’ve been following this story closely and have no firm opinion as yet.

Last year, J. K. Rowling attracted some negative publicity when she liked a tweet by an activist sympathetic to the TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) movement. TERFs maintain that there is a common experience which comes from being born and going through the early stages of life female, and are concerned about the presence of transgender men (i.e. people born male who identify as, are transitioning to, or have transitioned to female) in women’s spaces. For an alternative and more critical view of the TERF movement, see this Vox article.

Earlier this week, she attracted significantly more publicity by tweeting:

Quote:
If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.


Which has angered many of her progressive fans, who see “sex isn’t real” as a misstatement of the transgender position. She responded to her critics with this essay.

The debate has become toxic and I’m still trying to educate myself on the issue.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:17 pm 
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Túrin Turambar wrote:
The debate has become toxic


AKA, the Internet is happening.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:12 pm 
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Among those criticizing her is one Daniel Radcliff.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:41 pm 
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Quote:
there is a common experience which comes from being born and going through the early stages of life female,


There are some experiences that come from being born and seen as female, and some experiences that most trans women will not be able to share, but I think that is exactly zero reason to exclude them from either female spaces or to use any kind of language that implies they aren't "real" women.

I know a great number of people have tried to equate this with the Rachel Doleza mess, I may not be able to express well enough why I feel these are different issues but the science has enough biological components to justify transsexual acceptance, whereas racial categories are entirely socially constructed. There are differences in hormones during development, differences in lived experiences, differences in physical characteristics, and differences in the very base genetic code beyond the binary m/f we have largely tried to enforce.

The irony being that in some areas, they want to even deny any difference in M/F to begin with, or to approach every situation as a default M and a deviation of F (even though women make up a slight majority of the population!!) So it's so weird when people suddenly try to insist there is some intractable difference when I'm like "Then why don't you test drugs equally on men and women in trials!?"

I probably strayed way from the topic at hand. I'll say I can agree with the quoted sentiment in some contexts but absolutely reject the conclusion that she draws from it.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:13 pm 
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I don't pretend to understand sex/gender issues first hand, but I feel that I don't have to. It's very important to some people to be described and treated in a certain way, it's not harmful to anyone else, and costs me no effort. Why would I not respect their wishes?

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:16 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
I don't pretend to understand sex/gender issues first hand, but I feel that I don't have to. It's very important to some people to be described and treated in a certain way, it's not harmful to anyone else, and costs me no effort. Why would I not respect their wishes?


This.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:18 pm 
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:love:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:05 pm 
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Aha. Frelga has been here. I don’t need to say it. I was coming here to draw parallels on that whole “marriage” discussion, but not needed.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:34 pm 
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I read that the current Rowling kerfuffle began when she responded to an on-line article mentioning, 'people who menstruate.' She commented (paraphrase), 'Hmm. We used to have a word for people who menstruate.' (meaning, 'women')

This reminded me of a not too distant post in the WTF thread, concerning a cartoonist with a 14-year old girl protagonist, who did a piece on menstruation. The trans community was enraged because they considered it exclusionary, since men identifying as women don't menstruate. For this they labeled the artist a TERF.

At the time, that cartoonist post did seem to me to belong in the WTF thread, but apparently since last June, it is now deemed hateful to use the word 'woman' in the context of a discussion of menstruation. This reminds me of the argument for gay 'marriage' -- it hurts our feelings that a fundamental reality doesn't include us. In that case, the remedy was to re-define 'marriage' to include gay partnerships; in this case, the remedy is to re-define 'woman' to exclude 'menstruators.' Or perhaps the ultimate remedy will be to label any discussion of menstruation 'hate speech,' since women identifying as men might find allusions to the subject an offensive reminder of their biological identity.

I've never considered myself a feminist, but you can count me a TERF, because this is ridiculous, imo. I am a woman, not a 'menstruator,' and I don't care who that fundamental reality offends or whose feelings are hurt by it. Nor will changing laws or definitions alter it.

Fortunately, J.K. Rowling is very wealthy and so can't be impoverished by the attempts to 'cancel' her; that may be one of the reasons she is willing to stand up to the bullying. People who need their jobs, or public acceptance in order to prosper, don't have the same freedom.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:44 pm 
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[completely OT]I'm glad to see you here, Cerin![/completely OT]

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:54 pm 
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I think the point is to broaden out the definition of "woman" to include people who don't menstruate, not to exclude those who do. I find it weird that anyone's making a thing of this. There are a lot of women born with female bodies that don't have all the functions that come with a female body. I know cis-women who are sterile and others who've had hysterectomies and others who're post-menopausal. But they're not and never have been the ones whimpering when people talk about menstruation. Female bodies do some incredibly weird and painful things. There's a reason why, when one of the engineers asked for Advil every single female in the office reached for her bag. I find the whole notion of shutting down discussion of those things because trans-women are incapable of partaking weird and confusing. You want to present yourself as a woman? You're going to face these topics and others. You might have a hard time relating to them, just was we who are cis are going to have a hard time relating to things a trans-woman has experienced. What gives the trans-women the right to police how the rest of us talk about our lived experiences?

My prom date came out as trans a couple years ago. When he called me to tell he's now a she it was all fine until she announced she's a lesbian. I admit, I almost threw the phone across the room. The number of times some idiot has told me he's a lesbian in a man's body... I know that's not what or how my friend meant it so I stayed on the line but yeesh. If she'd gone through puberty and her 20's living as a female she would never have said that.

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Last edited by River on Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:59 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
This reminded me of a not too distant post in the WTF thread, concerning a cartoonist with a 14-year old girl protagonist, who did a piece on menstruation. The trans community was enraged because they considered it exclusionary, since men identifying as women don't menstruate. For this they labeled the artist a TERF.


Y'know, that is actually a very good point. At what point does inclusion become exclusion? I have no interest in attempting to use menstruation as a measuring stick for womanhood, anymore than marriage, pregnancy, or menopause, but I also don't want to essentially be stripped of it as a part of my experience and something that I honestly feel strongly about experiencing.

We get enough menstruation shaming from society, men, and religion, I don't need to be shamed for menstruating from other women, too.

That's where I said I do understand the quote "there is a common experience which comes from being born and going through the early stages of life female" because it is a valid experience. We do need to accept that there are many ways of experiencing the world that don't need to all align in order to all be valid.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:38 pm 
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Eh, I don't comment on online discussions unless I am sure people are who they say they are and not trolls trying to make the side they disagree with look bad. Which the internet is full of.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:41 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
Eh, I don't comment on online discussions unless I am sure people are who they say they are and not trolls trying to make the side they disagree with look bad. Which the internet is full of.


Very good point to remember in all interactions!

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