Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Gender War - Dummy Guide - Where To Begin

Top rated guide so far

What I believe about sex and gender (and what I don't) by Kathleen Stock


My coverage of the Pussy Church for Modern Witchcraft provoked some strong reactions.  Not surprisingly, they mostly had nothing to do with why I was discussing the organization on a tax blog.  They were mainly about my brief introductory explanation of the context of the ongoing conflict that it appears Pussy Church is addressing.

One comment that intrigued and that I am addressing here in a way is this one.

So I hesitate to mention this, since it might make me looking even lamer but I have been reading radical feminist literature for over six years.  Included in the piece was a link to the most recent book I had read (Mostly.  It was a collection and some of the pieces I did not get well enough to finish. Others were great.).

 And as it happens, accepting even the radfem definition of woman, I had asked a woman.  She just preferred not to be identified.  And for the purposes of that particular piece I was only interested in what someone involved in Pussy Church had to say about what Pussy Church was about, not what other gender critical feminists might infer what it was about.

Regardless kthln m°y inspired the project that this post on a blog with a smaller readership and looser editorial guidelines is a report on it.  I put out in a couple of ways the following question:
If someone just discovered the dispute between gender critical radical feminists and advocates for the trans community.  What is the very first thing he or she should read to begin getting educated? Asking for a friend. 
Here are the results SO FAR in the order that I have received them. I will indicate whether I have read them in full or not (listened to a recording counts) and rate them on how well I think somebody new to the issue would understand them and general relevance.  Rating is 1 to 10.  10 being - I think somebody with no background in the matter would understand this piece and it is relevant.  5 being - relevant understandable material but probably not where to start.  1 - What were you thinking when you suggested this as relevant entry level material?

The rating has nothing to do with whether I agree with the piece or not.  Also I might rate a piece I think is quite good lower because I think someone fresh might have a problem understanding it. For example if "cis" is included without being defined or Sheila Jeffreys is mentioned in a way that implies she is a household name, points are lost.  Also pieces that only explain a particular aspect of the controversy without giving the overall context lose points. I have rated a couple of things I did not finish, but I dug far enough to get a good sense of their content.

One of the advantages of this venue is that comments are allowed.  I apologize in advance to anyone who sent me something that I failed to include here and will fix it asap.

Leaving Liberal Feminism by Kate Leigh - Read in full - 8

Lezbehonest about Queer Politics Erasing Lesbian Women by Claire -Read in Full -5

What Does Transgender Mean? GLAAD  - Read in Full - 5

King James Version of The Bible Read in full (no kidding) - 1

How To Spot A Transphobe A.E. D'Orsay - Read in Full - 5

How The Social Justice of Equality, Discrimination, Diversity, Inclusion and Empowerment Are Being Used To Strip Women Of Rights And Freedom - Miranda Yardley Read in full - 5

Trans Women and Cis Women Are Different, and That's OK - Jesse Earl - Read In Full - 8

The war on the left between trans people and 'Terfs' could be ended with a bit of empathy by Deborah Orr Read in full - 10

Raquel Willis: TERFs Don't Deserve to Define Themselves as Feminists by Linda Young - Read In Full - 5

Stand Up For Female Rights And Say No To Changing The Gender Recognition Act Read in full - 4

Sex And Gender - A Beginners Guide Read in full - 4

Inauthentic Selves: The modern LGBTQ+ Movement Is Run By Philanthropic Astroturf And Based On Junk Science by Sue Donym -Did not complete due to time pressure - 7

Paper Genders - Walt Heyer -Did not read- Not rated

Gender and sex: anti-feminist, trans activist and feminist interpretations-by Magdalen Berns - video - watched full video - 6

Wake up, feminists! - on twitter - Scanned - 3

"TERF Wars: Narrative Productions of Gender and Essentialism in Radical-Feminist (Cyber) spaces" - Jennifer Earls -Did not finish - 4

TERF Is A Slur - Scanned - 4

Statistic Show the Difference in Rates of Violent Crimes Against Women Committed by 'Transwomen'  Versus Non-Transgender Males - Read in full - 6

FeministRoar   -  Twitter account - scanned - 6

Pieces I Have Found On My Own (With some curation)

What I believe about sex and gender (and what I don't) by Kathleen Stock - Read in full - 11

I've decided that regardless of how many pieces are on the list there will only be one that is an eleven.  In this piece Kathleen Stock identifies many of the elements in the debate rather thoughtfully.

Sheila Jeffreys - Wikipedia entry - 8

With some exceptions most pieces will at least implicitly include something like:
The science is settled.  Any far minded person who has the true facts and is not blinded by the propaganda put out by the -------------------- will agree with us.
If the piece does not also implicitly include
The arguments put forth by ----------------- and their allies are so ridiculous and hateful that they don't bear repeating
I still might give it a high score

The key factor though is the assumption that the reader is starting from zero. And of course a piece like that might be rated very low for other purposes.

Remember what I am looking for is something that allows someone to grasp that there is a controversy and how it can be framed. Earlier this year I attempted this sort of thing with a pretty arcane topic that has some general interest - The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act - Here it is.

An advantage of this site is that it allows comments.  I really don't have any restrictions more of an aspirational standard which I explained when we had comments on  Some people can probably come up with something nasty enough to merit deletion.  We'll see.

What I would most appreciate is additions to the list. As I noted above if something somebody sent me is left off, it was by accident and easy to fix.


Peter J Reilly writes on taxes for  Almost anything you can think of will have a tax angle eventually, so he sometimes find himself in unrelated arguments.

Links not yet evaluated



    1. Thanks. I think I already had that. I gave it a 4 because it is about a particular part of the conflict and does not really let readers know that there is a significant controversy going on. It is in the science is settled category.

  2. If you're interested in reading from the more academic side into the research that has gone into transgender people. I've attached a vast wealth of references at the bottom of this comment. These go into a lot of the neural correlates behind it and how it appears mostly that pre-natal hormonal conditions is what can lead to it.

    I'll also explain here some of the interesting things that can happen during development.

    Conventionally males are XY and females XX. Both share an X chromosome. This X chromosome is from the mother and is what is used first to provide instructions to build the baby. Because it is X, the womb produces estrogen to produce an initial female child (Which is why everyone has nipples for instance).

    After a few weeks the second chromosome is activated, Y to signal the womb to produce testosterone to produce a male child, or X to continue producing estrogen to produce a female child. A lot of things can go wrong at this step:
    1) Sometimes the Y is not read at all, either that or the testosterone doesn't react with the fetus (This is known as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome - CAIS) - this produces a child with a female body and in 99%+ cases a straight female identity (even though genetically male)
    2) Sometimes one specific hormone, DHT isn't produced - in people with something called 5-alpha-reductase defficiency. This means the genitals don't develop and so have a female appearance. The child is raised as female but surprisingly will develop a male identity and develop dysphoria - this is because the testosterone still works in the womb and the brain is masculinized whereas in CAIS the brain is feminized because of a lack of testosterone. Children with this condition will actually 'grow' a penis during puberty when the body can produce DHT: we actually used these people to find one of the first cures for baldness - finasteride.
    3) In some cases partial masculinisation or feminisation takes place leading to various intersex conditions.

    One of the things which is interesting is that the brain's development occurs in a separate stage of pregnancy to the rest of the body, in the last trimester, compared with the earlier stages. This actually allows the case whereby development may be fine to begin with, but at a later stage if the womb experiences a flood of different hormones: the exact causes could potentially be a variety of things (literally any hormonal change inside the mother could pass those hormones to the child and change them). This allows the posibility of the brain to diverge from the natal sex. This is believed to not only be the cause of people being transgender (as the brain scans and research shows below), but also that of homosexuality.

    One of the main aspects that has been fought over in the gender wars is the 'social' aspect of gender. How people seek to define it in terms of a construction, which is in itself culturally specific and very arbitrary, especially as the 'war' we have is more of a western notion. Elaborating on this, if we were to look across the world to see what related transgender concepts other cultures have, we find a vast wealth of identities across all the world's cultures such as:

    Akava'ine Bakla Bissu Calabai Fa'afafine Fakaleiti Hijra Kathoey Khanith Koekchuch Māhū Maknyah Mukhannathun Muxe Takatāpui Two-spirit Winkte

    These are examples of transgender people being present in cultures that are isolated across from each other, on different continents and across many thousands of years of timescales. Some cultures such as the Bugis people in Indonesia have 5 genders - which in itself is another example of how arbitrary it is.

    1. [Pt. 2]

      In balance a lot of this goes to show that perhaps it's not so much as a social, western or even modern phenomenon, that indeed for something to be something that can't be put down to one culture (essentially one way of socialisation) along with the neurological evidence we have, that we do in fact have a biological phenomenon (something that even that can still divide people).

      In conclusion I hope this has made a bit of an interesting read from a scientific perspective and perhaps a good change from the conventional way a lot of the debates keep going.

      [1]Zhou JN Hofman MA Gooren LJ Swaab DF. 1995. A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. Nature . 378:68–70.
      [2]Garcia-Falgueras A Swaab DF. 2008. A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity. Brain . 131:3132–3146.
      [3]Nawata H Ogomori K Tanaka M Nishimura R Urashima H Yano R Takano K Kuwabara Y. 2010. Regional cerebral blood flow changes in female to male gender identity disorder. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci . 64:157–161.
      [4]Schoning S Engelien A Bauer C Kugel H Kersting A Roestel C Zwitserlood P Pyka M Dannlowski U Lehmann Wet al. 2010. Neuroimaging differences in spatial cognition between men and male-to-female transsexuals before and during hormone therapy. J Sex Med . 7:1858–1867.
      [5]Simon L Kozak LR Simon V Czobor P Unoka Z Szabo A Csukly G. 2013. Regional grey matter structure differences between transsexuals and healthy controls – a voxel based morphometry study. PloS One . 8:e83947.
      [6]Rametti G Carrillo B Gomez-Gil E Junque C Segovia S Gomez A Guillamon A. 2011. White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. J Psychiatr Res . 45:199–204.
      [7]Rametti G Carrillo B Gomez-Gil E Junque C Zubiarre-Elorza L Segovia S Gomez A Guillamon A. 2011. The microstructure of white matter in male to female transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A DTI study. J Psychiatr Res . 45:949–954.
      [8]Swaab DF Garcia-Falgueras A. 2009. Sexual differentiation of the human brain in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation. Funct Neurol . 24:17–28.
      [9]Bao AM Swaab DF. 2011. Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relation to gender identity, sexual orientation and neuropsychiatric disorders. Front Neuroendocrinol . 32:214–226.

    2. No, there is no brain sex. Nope.

      Read "Delusions of Gender"


      ALSO: "Transwomen" abuse, dox, rape and assault girls and women in female spaces all the time. They also retain the same rates of violence as males. Imagine that.