‘Identity politics’ claims, on the face of it, that everyone has the right to identify as anything they want, and we all have to accept that. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Brilliant. So egalitarian. And yes, if I decide that I ‘identify’ as a Prosthetic Vogon leading a constructor fleet across the galaxy which intends to obliterate the Earth to make way for an interstellar superhighway, or that I am Superman, Napoleon or for that matter Jesus Christ, then it matters little; I’m just barking mad and decent people will humour me until I become so delusional that I need to be locked up for my own safety. I would be, in common-sense terms, a harmless lunatic.
If you’ve been anywhere near a media outlet over the last few months you won’t ave been able to avoid noticing that transgender women are getting a lot of attention. If you have seen images of Caitlyn, formerly Bruce, Jenner, and then Paris Lees, Janet Mock, Laverne Cox or Jai Dara Latto, who was crowned Miss Transgender UK 2015, you might be forgiven for being a bit confused. You might be struggling to figure out what the connection is between an ageing sports jock who looks like a man in a dress, and a glamorous woman who looks like — a glamorous woman. If you’re at all liberal or PC, you might have just accepted that these are the same, but, you know, because time and stuff.
But you’d be dead wrong. There are two completely distinct types of transgender woman and there is no connection between them at all. The conflation that is going on is wrong and potentially lethal.
This is important because one type — which comprises the overwhelming majority of trans women in the world today — is the subject of deadly and repeated violence, while the other colludes in it. Now I will show my cards here: my girlfriend is transgender. But she’s not like Jenner. And because she is — being of the other type — a potential victim of violence, I have to stand to the wire. Political Correctness is all very well until people start dying because of it; and that is what is happening. So let me explain.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how societies might have been structured before the development of agriculture. Clearly, we can’t directly study the human groups that existed outside Africa between 50,000 and 5,000 years ago, because they no longer exist. So I also looked at relatives of humans, particularly our closest, bonobos, Pan paniscus.
Our ancestors left very little evidence. Although they did use stone and bone, a great deal of their artefacts were made of wood or leather and were perishable. The few that we do have are somewhat mysterious.
To try to shed light on this, we reviewed a wide range of anthropological literature. We especially concentrated on extant traditional societies, of which there are a surprising number, despite the attempts by religious fundamentalists, especially the Christian and Muslim ones, to eradicate them. (As a matter of fact, Islam has been less damaging to many traditional societies than Christianity, as we see from the number of traditional groups still living, and respected, in Indonesia.)
We reviewed the mythology that was recorded soon after the invention of writing, in Sumer in the 5th Millennium BCE. We then compared this to modern mythologies which form part of traditional cultures. We also looked at similar species, and that’s where bonobos came in.
Go back 200 years and we in the West were hanging gay men; a hundred years ago, more or less, we locked up Oscar Wilde for being gay and fifty years ago one of the greatest geniuses, ever, to have been born in the United Kingdom, Alan Turing, was forced to undergo chemical castration and driven to suicide, just for being gay.
Yet today, we celebrate gayness. When a State solemnises a marriage, it gives validation to that marriage, and the couple undertaking it, in the name of every citizen of that State. It is saying, ‘We the people approve of and celebrate your love, and we wish you both the greatest of happiness.’ It places all the authority and approval of the State on that marriage, in our names.
So we have, in fifty years or less, gone from persecuting and imprisoning or mutilating gays, to absolutely supporting them.
What does this tell us? Continue reading “Marriage Equality and the Decline of Religiosity”
Todos Somos Veronica
This weekend Veronica Bolina, a transwoman from Sao Paulo in Brazil, was savagely beaten, probably three times, by police while in custody. Her face was smashed to a pulp and she was rendered unrecognisable. Her breasts were exposed in public and her long hair was shaved off. And then she was forced to recite a ‘confession’ that it was all her own fault.
Now I suppose we could suggest that Veronica was lucky; at least 113 transwomen were slain in Brazil last year alone, making it the trans-murder capital of the world. And the Brazilian police are the most deadly on the planet, killing at least 11,000 citizens every year. (For comparison, this is around 50 times the rate at which US police kill.)
It’s time we all stood up and said ‘stop’. It’s time we said that every time some transphobic bigot attacks a transperson he – or she, for sadly there is no shortage of female bigotry, at least on this topic – that person attacks us, personally.
The simple fact is that in not standing up and denouncing the bigots, we give them sanction to act as they do. Every time anyone laughs at a transphobic joke, or posts a cartoon drawing of a woman saying ‘warning, may contain nuts’, or sniggers at some ‘how to spot a ladyboy’ video, that person is contributing to the killing of transpeople. Actively. Contributing. To. Murder. Continue reading “Somos Todos Veronica #somostodosveronica”