Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who is Julie Bindel and Why Is She Saying All These Terrible Things About Me?

Julie Bindel seems to be the 21st Century's version of Janice Raymond. Raymond, of course, is famous for her nasty diatribe, The Transsexual Empire:the making of the she-male in which she contends that male-to-female transsexuals are part of a plot by men to infiltrate the women's movement. Raymond maintained that transsexualism is based on the "patriarchal myths" of "male mothering," and "making of woman according to man's image." She further claimed this is done in order "to colonize feminist identification, culture, politics and sexuality," adding:
All transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves .... Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.
Bindel's views are not dissimilar from Raymond's, which should not be surprising since they both approach things from a radical lesbian separatist feminist perspective. The main difference is, Bindel seems unable to let go of her virulent hatred for transsexuals based on the fact that a group of transgender activists successfully blocked her winning an award from the group Stonewall in England.

If anything, Bindel is even more strident in her attempts to put an end to the treatment of transsexuals. But what is that drives Bindel's animosity towards people like me?

In her most recent attack, published in the November issue of the political and cultural magazine, Standpoint. In an article entitled, "The Operation That Can Ruin Your Life" Bindel states:

Feminists tend to be critical of traditional gender roles because they benefit men and oppress women. Transsexualism, by its nature, promotes the idea that it is "natural" for boys to play with guns and girls to play with Barbie dolls. The idea that gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed is the antithesis of feminism.

In another words, Bindel objects to transsexuals because we don't fit her dogmatic view of how the world should work. The fact that we exist adds evidence to the science that is increasingly proving that the feminist view that gender is socially constructed is simply false. Bindel's position is increasingly unsupportable. In spite of many attempts by radical feminists to raise children to avoid gender stereotypes, the fact is, it is natural for boys to play with guns, and girls to play with dolls. And science has repeatedly shown that such behavior is primarily hard-wired into the brain.

To be honest, I find this sort of thing quite amazing. Granted, there are numerous groups who will continue to ignore scientific fact when it contradicts their devoutly held dogmas, and feminism is not immune from this. But it is sad that their doing so does harm others.

Another interesting thing about Bindel's writings is how she conflates transsexualism with transgender. It is not clear if Bindel does this deliberately, or if she is really that ignorant of the true nature of transsexualism. And excellent example of this from her article:
A definition of transsexualism used by a number of transsexual rights organisations reads:

Students who are gender non-conforming are those whose gender expression (or outward appearance) does not follow traditional gender roles: "feminine boys," "masculine girls" and students who are androgynous, for example. It can also include students who look the way boys and girls are expected to look but participate in activities that are gender nonconforming, like a boy who does ballet. The term "transgender youth" can be used as an umbrella term for all students whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth and/or whose gender expression is non-stereotypical.

According to this definition, a girl who plays football is trans-sexual.
Okay, this is not remotely a definition of "transsexual." It is, at best, a very loose and extremely broad definition of "transgender." But what I especially odd is that this is more precisely a definition of the rather vague term "gender non-conforming," which is rather ironic since Bindel accuses transsexuals of being rather strongly "gender conforming." And I know of no one who would remotely say that a girl who plays football is "trans-sexual." And surely Bindel knows that not all who identify as transgender claim to be transsexual, and that few who truly are transsexual remotely identify as transgender.

Another subject that Bindel obsesses about, but seems to have little actual understanding of, is the rare case where someone regrets having surgery. Again, her writing seems to combine deliberately misleading prose with a lack of actual knowledge of the subject:
A number of transsexuals are beginning to admit that opting for surgery ruined their lives. "I was a messed-up young gay man," says Claudia McClean, a male-to-female transsexual who opted for surgery 20 years ago. "If I had been offered an alternative to a sex change, I would have jumped at the chance, but as soon as I told the psychiatrist I felt trapped in the wrong body, or some such cliché, he was writing out a referral to the surgeon."
Now, first off, regrets have always been an issue, and are not something that have only recently been revealed. Years ago, when I was first beginning transition, I remember seeing a person on one talk show discussing how soon "she" had wanted to try out her new vagina, ignoring the doctors instructions to wait at least six weeks before having sex. A few months later, this same person was on another talk show telling how surgery had been a mistake and expressing deep regrets. Clearly, this was a person who should never have been cleared...but mistakes happen.
In the case Bindel uses as an example, the person was clearly an ego dystonic homosexual male, which has long been a strong contraindication to having SRS. Again, no competent doctor would have knowingly approved this person for surgery. In almost every case where regrets occur, the person either bypassed the established Standards of Care, lied to get surgery, or failed to follow their doctor's orders afterwards.

Along this same line, Bindel cites a very questionable statistic:
Apart from Thailand, the country with the highest number of sex-change operations is Iran where, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. When sex-change surgery is performed on gay men, they become, in the eyes of the gender defenders, heterosexual women. Transsexual surgery becomes modern-day aversion therapy for gays and lesbians.
Now, I have seen this claim made numerous places, but I have found nothing to actually back it up. It is true that SRS is not only legal in Iran, but also that it is paid for by the government there. I doubt, however, that many, if any, people come from outside Iran for the surgery. In the United States there are several surgeons who entire practice is dedicated to SRS.

What is true is that, tragically, SRS is a way for Iranian homosexuals to escape execution. However, this often turns out to be a fate almost as bad. Again, Bindel seems to show complete ignorance of the realities of the medical treatment of transsexualism. In most of the world, someone who is truly homosexual (for example, a man who actually sees himself as a man, and who desires to have sex with men who see him as a man, and who he sees as men) is not seen as a viable candidate for SRS. While such a situation is relatively rare in more recent times, it was a problem in the past, when being gay or lesbian was not as acceptable.

Granted, Bindel does raise on legitimate point. She mentions the case, previous written about here, where a male rapist, who claims to be transsexual (a claim I would be inclined to dispute) has won the right to be held in a women's prison, even though he has not had SRS. Bindel does present the fact is a misleading manner, implying that this person does not wish surgery (that is the basis for his being moved) but otherwise, her point is correct. Such an arrangement is unfair to the women he will be placed among.

Bindel also quotes Dr Caillean McMahon, a US-based forensic psychiatrist, who defines herself not as a transsexual but as a "woman of operative history:"
The trans community has an unforgiving global sort of condemnation towards critical outsiders. I have to be suspicious that the insistence of many of those demanding to enter it is not for the purpose of celebrating the spirit and nature of women, but to seek an enforced validation, extracted by force in a legal or political manner.
I agree strongly with Dr. McMahon. This is a very apt description of the transgender viewpoint, which has nothing to do with HBS or transsexualism. I find it interesting that Bindel would find someone who has had SRS that she seems to agree with. Perhaps if she got to know more actual transsexuals or better, those who actually have HBS, she might realize that she is misjudging the few based on the behavior of the many.

Bindel's closing remarks, again, show just how little she understand the true nature of transsexualism:

In a world where equality between men and women was reality, transsexualism would not exist. The diagnosis of GD needs to be questioned and challenged. We live in a society that, on the whole, respects the human rights of others. Accepting a situation where the surgeon's knife and lifelong hormonal treatment are replacing the acceptance of difference is a scandal. Sex-change surgery is unnecessary mutilation. Using human rights laws to normalise trans-sexualism has resulted in a backward step in the feminist campaign for gender equality. Perhaps we should give up and become men.

It is clear, though obviously not to Bindel, that her argument is with science, and not those who are truly transsexual. It is also obvious that much of her ire should be directed towards those who are transgender and not transsexual or HBS. Being "equal" does not change the need to be whole. Transsexualism or HBS is not about being "different." It is not about men wishing to pretend to be women. It is about having a brain that is female in a body that is male. It is ironic that Bindel, who seems to have such a dislike for men, thinks all of the problems are simply based on culture and upbringing. She does not understand that there are real differences in men and women. Such differences do not negate the need for equality. But trying to negate those differences will not result in equality, but instead will lead to a new form of repression. Women should be free to be women. Not as second class citizens, but as equals, And men should be free to be men, not as superiors, but again as equals. And that should be true regardless of how are bodies are.


Anonymous said...

I see the usual tranny apologists made an appearance and some even did their best to make fools of themselves.

Ms. Bindel is little more than a Fred Phelps with a vagina and is obsessed with hatred toward TGs and lesser so toward TS.

Hatred on that order is a sign of a very disturbed person which is common among people living in the margins of society. Ms. Bindel is in good company with a sizable fraction of her transgender nemeses.

Just Jennifer said...

Well, Bindel is a good example of what happens when transsexuals and people with HBS are confused with those who are TG. A lot of what she objects to is clearly TG behavior.