Wren Kauffmann. Image via YouTube.
This week brings equal parts party and bullshit in gender politics news.
Happily, 12-year-old Wren Kauffman, a young trans* man from Alberta, is working to destroy Alberta’s discriminatory laws against him, and this week, he successfully had the sex on his birth certificate changed to reflect who he is—a boy.
But also, mainstream media organizations are still publishing horrifically misogynist epistles, and white male internet trolls are creating fake Twitter accounts to “divide and conquer” feminists of colour.
Image via YouTube.
Alberta Recognizes Little Boy As Little Boy On His Birth Certificate
Let’s all take a second to recognize Wren Kauffman, a 12-year-old Alberta boy making huge strides for the country’s trans* community. Wren is trans*, and he received a new birth certificate this week recognizing that he is a boy, not a girl, as he was labeled at birth.
Parents have been fighting for their trans* children’s rights for a long time in Canada. Kauffman decided he was done with being mislabeled, and requested to have the sex on his birth certificate changed. He was denied, so he filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. In a precedent-setting case, his rights were recognized during a Pride brunch on Sunday.
The case is precedent-setting because Alberta law states that in order for a person to change the sex on their birth certificates, they must first undergo reassignment surgery. In April, premier Dave Hancock said that requirement would be dropped. It’s a good thing, because this law has not been updated since the 1970s. Happily, a judge ruled that Alberta’s laws surrounding birth certificates violates trans* people’s rights shortly after Hancock’s announcement.
Wren Kauffman’s story is an inspiration, and it’s kicking the government’s ass into gear. That’s especially important in a country so transsexist that it that refuses trans* people access to the healthcare they need, and doctors largely deny hormone therapy.
This story has garnered some excellent media coverage, though, some of the language used in mainstream media leaves much to be desired. Trans* experiences are often complex and varied, and rampant assumptions and mislabeling in the media is making it nearly possible for cis people to respect that. This comes from the Toronto Star in an otherwise respectful article:
“Wren, who was born a girl, had said it was stressful being listed as female.”
Wren, actually, was born a boy, and that’s why he is now a boy according to his official government-issued documents. If you want to refer to the fact that a trans* person has made a transition of sorts, it’s better to say they were assigned a particular sex or gender at birth. If a trans* woman identifies as a woman, she is a woman, and there’s not much more to be said. (While it’s important to avoid labeling someone as being “born as” a certain thing, some trans* people will explain it this way, and that’s 100 percent perfect and fine. But it’s wrong for cis people and news people to cast all trans* experiences in that light.)
If you’re looking for more ways to love and respect people of trans* experience, this guide offers some wonderful ways to do so.
Screenshot via Buzzfeed.
Beware 4chan Trolls Posing as Women of Colour and Trying To Dismantle Social Justice Efforts Online
Well, this is some serious bullshit. 4chan trolls are impersonating feminists women of colour through fake Twitter accounts that attempt to hijack hashtags and try to turn social justice activists against one another. The goal is, apparently, to “infiltrate feminists movements.”
It started with #EndFathersDay to make feminists look ridiculous, and was later revealed to be a thing called Operation Lollipop, orchestrated mostly by MRAs, and aiming to embarrass Black feminists specifically by adopting images of Black women as avatars and putting unwelcome, anti-feminist words in their mouths—and into other people’s discussions.
The happy news is, social justice activists are also usually the smartest people on the internet, and they have sniffed out the offending accounts. But beware: #yourslipisshowing is organizing to out the bastards and figure out who needs to be blocked. The hashtag calls attention to the fact that trolls are trying to hijack and derail Black feminists’ discussions, and points out specific accounts committing the harassment.
What a world.
bell hooks, photo via WikiMedia Commons.
Get bell hooks to Expel That Creeper in the Bar
A few weeks ago, I was out celebrating a friend’s new job with a group of girls. We were having an intimate conversation when a tall, lanky personage, complete with too-tight polo and military haircut, inserted himself to the right of our group. “Hi!” he shouted. “I’m Ben!”
“Not interested, Ben,” I said. He kept on prattling so I (having years of practice spurning unwanted male advances) put my hand up, in his actual face, and said, again, “Not interested.”
My friends chimed in and said they had boyfriends. Because you know, if another dude appears to own you, creepers will generally step off. I said I was married and held up my left hand ring finger.
“Well, what are you guys even doing out then?” Ben asked, disgusted, before shuffling off.
Yes, ladies, it’s a veritable battlefield of poor pick-up artists on the loose out there. But now, bell hooks can be your own personal warrior. She will text or call these unwelcome infringers and fire back with feminist zingers. Calling your new number will lead to a statement like this:
“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”
Thanks, bell, for loving us all of these years <3
Screenshot via the Globe and Mail.
Dear Ladies, Please Stop Waiting So Long To Have Babies, and Refusing To Marry Your Baby Daddy Once You Finally Do So
Last week, I read two perfectly wretched columns, and I feel compelled to share them with you as pointers on how not to write about women’s bodies and choices:
Dr. Beth Taylor wrote in the Globe and Mail the earth shattering news that if a woman plans to have a baby, it might be—ahem—a tad difficult the later in life she decides to wait. Dr. Taylor advises thusly:
“If you are in a relationship, do not delay trying to conceive. Many of us want to wait until we have a house, ideal job or all of our debts paid off before having a child. Unfortunately, the wait to achieve most of those goals is years and usually covers peak reproductive years.”
And, regarding women in law school, she says by the time a woman is through articling and lands a job in her mid-to-late thirties, and “may feel ready to try and conceive,” there is a one in four chance she’ll be infertile.
Yes, OK. Taylor says she is only trying to make you aware of the numbers. She’s trying to warn women against the disappointment of infertility. She suggests other options, such as freezing your eggs, in case you’re too busy or simply just disinterested by the thought of pushing a watermelon out your vagina in the very near future.
But to me, this sounds a lot like “Hurry up and get breeding,” especially when paired with her idea of “the art of being a woman,” which supposedly includes such items as shaving our legs and walking in heels.
For the record: I highly respect and revere mothers. My issue is that this woman is trying to rush women into motherhood. Just because you’re in a relationship and also want a baby does not mean you should start immediately trying to conceive with that person. (The column is heteronormative, but the same holds true for queer partnerships, IMHO. Unrelenting pressure from a partner to procreate just because you’re ready is not cool.)
Lady columnists: please stop hating on other ladies. It’s not cute.
And in Washington, this horrific article by the utterly confused W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson escaped an editor’s clutches and made it onto the Washington Post’s site. It claims: “the bottom line is that married women are less likely to be raped, assaulted, or robbed than their unmarried peers.”
From the article, in reference to Rodger’s killings and #YesAllWomen:
“This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers. The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers.”
YOU HEARD RIGHT, LADIES. If you’d prefer not to be beaten, get online and start reading the top 57 reasons why he will not put a ring on it, then coerce him into reversing that decision! (Pro tip: Learn How To Keep Yourself Attractive! And for Christ’s sake, Learn How To Cook.) Because it is your job to calm him and coo him into to a merciful, non-barbaric state. Everybody knows men can’t control themselves. Right?
Kill me now. Though I guess that would be a sensible outcome for me, since I grew up WITHOUT MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER!
Just no. The best way to stop violence against women is to teach men not to be violent from a young age, not to leave the onus on women to marry a man and make him her protector.