Thursday, December 10, 2009

WTF, Bilerico?

I really like the Bilerico project--it's a great place for queer and trans folks and their allies to meet and discuss things. And it's never shied away from controversy.

Bilerico recently added a new contributor, Ronald Gold, and reading his biography he's just the kind of person you want to have there--a long time gay activist, one of the founders of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and a man who was instrumental in getting homosexuality removed from the DSM.

So it's an enormous disappointment to read his first post, officially titled "'No' to the notion of transgender" but if you look at the url it must have been called "Transgender: a disease that doesn't exist" at some point. And, well, let's see if you, Gentle Reader, can understand why I was shocked to see it on Bilerico:
What is transgender? Well, there are two sorts who seem to be covered by the name, the drag kings and queens so good at portraying cartoon imitations of straight people, and transsexuals, the folks who report that from an early age they've felt themselves trapped in the wrong bodies. Despite the equipment they were born with that belies their assertions, they say they are really men or really women.
 Holy fuck. Did I just read that at a queer site? Seriously? Please tell me this is some kind of horrid fundamentalist satire...
I recall reading something by Jan Morris in which it seemed that he thought he needed a sex change because he wanted men to hold doors open for him and kiss him goodbye at train stations. For starters, I'd have told him that I've had these nice things happen to me and I've still got my pecker.
Oh ye ghods.

Oh, but he isn't prejudiced against trans folk! See, this is how he ends the piece:
Perhaps it isn't needless to say that a No to the notion of transgender does not excuse discrimination against cross-dressers or post-op "transsexuals" in employment, housing and public accommodation; and I strongly support legislation that would forbid it. I would, however, get after the doctors - the psychiatrists who use a phony medical model to invent a disease that doesn't exist, and the surgeons who use such spurious diagnoses to mutilate the bodies of the deluded.
 See? I just think you're deluded, C.L.--but that's no reason for people to be cruel to you. That is, for levels of cruelty beyond calling you a man and a "transsexual."

If I was to be charitable (I am reliably informed that for some reason December is a month we're supposed to do so, here in Merka; the media says so), I guess I could scratch out some kind of "hmm, he's really against gender essentialism, which I'm down with" Except, oddly enough, as I write this he's sharing the front page with Autumn Sandeen, the transgender barista from Pam's House Blend, and whom I'm sure enjoys having her identity crumpled up in front of her eyes and tossed away.

I just...can't understand why this of all things should be the first post this guy makes at Bilerico. Didn't somebody tell him there are actual trans people who visit? Or even, you know, write stuff there? Holy cow.

Grumble...gotta write that "how to take an ally to task" post that everybody is writing nowadays...sheesh.


  1. My comment probably wasn't charitable enough to warrant making it out of moderation over there. UGH WTF.

    I used to feel pretty awkward when trans folks talked about what shitty allies mainstream LGB folks are, because despite leaving the gender binary, I still felt a little attached to my gay identity, but...sweet wounded jesus, I am beginning to Get it. It's been a long time since I read something about trans folks written by a mainstream LGB person that didn't make me want to puke or set fire to things.

  2. Ugh. I had discovered that site and quite liked a few articles from it, too. But reading the comments thread in which (I assume one of the editors) defends it by saying "We want diverse opinions! It's what makes the site great!" just reminds me of all those school newspaper editors defending the "HOW TO GET AWAY WITH RAPE!" articles.

  3. Thanks for pointing out the URL of the Gold mold. I hadn't noticed what clearly was its original title.

    Considering what Bilerico actually did allow him to post, I guess that the change must have come from a pre-emptive trademark infringement suit threat by J. Michael Bailey.

  4. Wow.

    The Gold post is the exact reason why I no longer visit most LGBTQ and feminist blogs (although I don't think Bilerico identifies itself as the latter). This garbage makes me see red, and there's simply nothing to debate.

    I don't know-- is there an effective response to this? I've always assumed that Bil and Eric were reasonably intellegent folks.

  5. Ack... hadn't seen your latest post and update. WTF, Bil?!?

  6. That's just... not okay. It seems naive, I guess, but I don't understand why we can't just Get Over It and work together. And why, oh why, can't we seem to accept people's lived experiences as more valid than our own prejudices? I am not trans*, therefore I try to recognize my privilege and don't make statements about what it's like to be trans or what "their problem" is or how to "fix" it. I am not trans*, so I don't assume. It's NOT HARD. How the hell can you write so decisively about something you have not experienced? Especially when people who have experienced it have stated, OVER and OVER, that no, it's this way. Arg... head. wall.

  7. Isn't the first quote like Harry Benjamin Syndrome philosophy? It sounds like it to me.

  8. You have GOT to be kidding me!! Has this guy never heard of the scientific proof that backs up the phenomenon of the brain being a different gender from the body? It's a fact, he doesn't get to sit there and discredit psychologists cause it's a recordable, real thing in this world, that some people are born in bodies that don't match their brains. Good Lord! What an ignoramus!

  9. *inarticulate cry of rage*
    I knew better than this when I was 16! I.. I just.. aargh!

  10. It wasn't lost on me.

    After giving permission for Bilerico to crosspost my piece Living With Mental Illness, I asked them to take my piece down.

    If it stays there, I will always see my piece as having been used to tacitly deny my peers and my trans existence.

    I realize Bilerico sounds as if they "get it" now, and they pulled the piece down, but it still feel like a personal violation.

    I will be forgiving, as that's my nature (especially after my own fail with the terms cisgender/cissexual), but the timing of the posting by Donald Gold felt a little too personal.