Friday, April 19, 2024

The Cass Review and the WPATH SOC

The Cass Review draws some astonishing conclusions about the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC).

More or less, the basic upshot of the Cass Review's analysis is that the SOC is "based on shaky evidence".  They attempt to buttress this by applying the AGREE II framework to assess various SOC like frameworks (Taylor, Hall, Heathcote, Hewitt, Langton, & Fraser, 2024).  

Let’s Talk About Data Quality For a Moment

The recently released Cass Review Final Report (Cass Review) has criticized the absence of “high quality evidence” supporting the use of puberty blockers to treat transgender youth (as well as in other areas of transgender research).  

The systemic reviews performed as part of the Cass Review applied a “modified” version of something called the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS).  A brief review of several of the reviews (there are several of them) performed by the Cass team mention “modifying” the NOS, but they do not disclose the nature of the modifications made. Broadly speaking, they classify the vast majority of studies as “low quality”, while the final report spends quite a bit of time talking about “double blind” studies as the “gold standard” for high quality data. 

Let’s talk about that a bit further, shall we?  ( This will be one of several posts on the Cass Review Final Report)

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Trans Athletes ...

So, wayyyy back in 2021, I wrote a piece pointing out that a lot of the arguments about whether transgender athletes (and particularly trans women as athletes) have "intrinsic advantages" in sport are very questionable, and there simply isn't a lot of good science that backs up the claim.  A big part of the issue is that most of the studies seen to date were either comparisons between cisgender men and women, or if they involved transgender people at all, they did not necessarily involve transgender athletes.  

Yesterday, reported on a recent study that actually compared cisgender and transgender athletes in a cross-sectional study.  I would urge you to go read the study (actually, even the Outsports article is a pretty decent summary if you don't feel up to wading through the proper study).  

However, there are some interesting findings in the study that warrant further consideration when examining alleged advantage on a sport by sport basis:  

Transgender women presented lower absolute jump height than CM and lower relative jump height, normalised for fat-free mass, than transgender men and cisgender women (figure 4). These results in this study cohort suggest that transgender women lack lower body anaerobic power compared with the other groups. Transgender women’s higher absolute peak power than cisgender women (figure 4C), coupled with higher fat mass potentially driven by higher oestradiol concentrations (figure 1B), suggest that transgender women had more inertia to overcome during the explosive phase of the countermovement jump, which may lead to decreased performance. [Emphasis Added]

This one little quote is interesting because it aligns with my own personal experience with sports performance over the course of transition, and it contains much of the same basic reasoning that has led me to argue that any claim of "advantage" has to exist on a sport by sport basis, and must be underpinned by solidly done science that actually quantifies the claim instead of merely asserting it.  

Therefore, based on these limited findings, we recommend that transgender women athletes be evaluated as their own demographic group, in accordance with the principles outlined in Article 6.1b of the International Olympic Committee Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination based on Gender Identity and Sex Variations.4

In other words, the findings of this study demonstrate that most current studies that are often bandied about to claim that transgender women athletes have "massive advantages" don't show that at all, and a whole lot more evidence needs to be gathered before the various governing bodies go jumping off in all directions.  

Monday, April 08, 2024

Let’s Go Back To The DSM III !

Apparently there is a belief held among certain members of the trans community that we should go back in time … back to the days of the DSM III in particular - at least for what is now referred to as Gender Dysphoria.  (If you wish to read the DSM III section on Transsexualism, it’s Diagnostic Code 302.50 - in the chapter on Sexual Disorders, I think).

I have opinions.  

First, let me post the thread that I just read before I go off and explain just how incredibly wrong these people have it. 

There are a few things to bring out here.  First is a gross misunderstanding of the role / purpose of the DSM and its development.  Then we need to get into a discussion of just what treatment for transsexuals looked like back then, because wow - it wasn’t pretty.  

Saturday, March 30, 2024

You Got Played, Girl

 On March 19, 2024 the United Conservative Party of Alberta held an event that they called "Let Kids Be Kids" (spoiler alert:  it was an anti-trans/anti-2SLGBTQ/anti-SOGI/"parents rights" rally in reality).  

They brought in a transgender woman from Lethbridge to speak to the transgender case.  I don't know this person, but from their answers to the questions put to them, they clearly lack both research and clinical knowledge in the domain.  Being transgender does not mean that one has spent time in the academic and clinical literature relevant to this domain, and this is a problem.  

Her stated purpose was to engage in dialogue, but quite frankly, she got played.  In a 2 hour long event, she was allocated a grand total of 10 minutes during which the host asked them questions that she had to respond to.  The rest of the 2 hours was given over to opening comments, and presentations by some of the most dishonest players in the Alberta "parental rights" movement - and their presentations destroyed any semblance of "goodwill" and "open dialogue".  She got played for a patsy. 

Let me explain: 

Sunday, March 03, 2024

Collective Punishment

Ever since Pierre Poilievre opened his mouth and declared that Trans Women need to be banned from washrooms and locker rooms, there's been a steady increase in the amount of violent rhetoric aimed at the transgender community.  

In the midst of the above article, Senator Marilyn Gladu is quoted as follows: 

Gladu said trans women should not be allowed in women’s bathrooms or change rooms because “there have been incidents that have harmed women and young girls. And so we need to make sure that, you know, that’s not going to happen.”

To me, this reads like a variation on the "what about women who have been traumatized by violence from men?" argument.  It's largely a bad faith argument, because on so many different levels it misrepresents transgender women in particular and it ultimately infantilizes women by implying that they can't possibly be in the presence of a former male in such situations.

I frequently see unfounded claims that “transgender women exhibit male violence patterns” as part of the justification for this, and that is then used to argue that the entire class of transgender women should therefore be excluded.  This is deeply problematic reasoning.  

The second line of reasoning I see levelled at transgender women is the idea that allowing transgender women into designated female spaces will enable predators to come in and attack.  There is scant evidence that this is a thing, and considering that transgender women have been accessing female spaces for decades, it’s a bit hard to see how this is going to change now.  Besides, actual sexual predators aren’t exactly likely to masquerade as their prey - that would be a symbolic emasculation of themselves. 

A third line of reasoning is the idea that there are plenty of women who have been traumatized by abuse perpetrated at the hands of men.  Again, this comes around to a framing issue, and one that needs to be addressed relative to a population analysis. 

All of these are problematic from a number of perspectives, primarily in that they generally start from a perspective that because a transgender woman was designated male at birth, they are intrinsically a threat.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

On Drug Policy

Alberta in particular continues to ride the “War on Drugs” policy train from the 1980s.  In fact, in many ways the current UCP government has doubled down on it with an approach that basically says “recovery is the only option for addicts” - to the point of actually talking openly about using government coercive power to force people into treatment involuntarily.  

Their argument is largely based on a number of misguided notions about addiction, and how best to address it.  They largely view addiction as a personal moral failing - literally the addict is at fault for “putting the stuff in their body” in the first place, and should be grateful that we provide places for them to “get clean”.  

That is, to be charitable, a horribly naive way of looking at the issue.  I’m not going to spend a ton of time here reviewing the academic literature on addiction - if you want to get a taste of it, wander over to Google Scholar, and type in addiction and I think you’ll get a sense of the scope of the issues. 

However, since the 1980s, the illicit drugs world has changed a lot. Back then the most dangerous substances were things like heroin, or possibly freebasing cocaine.  Overdoses certainly happened, but compared to now they were rare. Today’s drug supply on the street is many orders of magnitude more dangerous, and compounds are being mixed together in ways that most of us can’t even begin to imagine. 

I do agree that addiction is a major problem for policy makers to address.  Where I disagree with policy makers across the board is in the simplistic, one (or maybe two) dimensional approaches to government policy being implemented.  We cannot treat this as a singular monolith issue any longer. 

We need to implement a package of policies to deal with the issues - and it will take significant resources on multiple fronts to do it right. 

A Proposal

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Affirming Care Is Not A “Conveyor Belt”

In reading the essay “Current Concerns About Gender Affirming Care In Adolescents”, it occurred to me that there is a fundamental misrepresentation about what Gender Affirming Care means, and the anti-trans movement has exploited it to their advantage. 

Before I delve into that too deeply, let me take you back to the days of “big hospital gender clinics” in the 70s and 80s.  There was one in Canada that stood out and that was the program at the Clarke Institute for Psychiatry (now known as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)). The gender identity program there was notorious in the transgender community by the 1990s.  The reason for the notoriety was that it was very much a “conveyor belt” model, and the program was designed to be as obstructive as possible.  At one point, adult patients were not allowed access to Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT) until they had lived full-time in their desired gender for two full years.  Patients were often told they had to change careers and take on jobs that were “more typically feminine”, and of course if you weren’t “passing pretty”, you were criticized for it.  The entire program was designed to make it as difficult as possible to transition - and this was not unusual for other similar programs that grew up in the 1970s.  They all had a very narrow understanding of what it meant to be transgender, and if you didn’t fall perfectly into the little box they had constructed, well I guess transition wasn’t for you.

That kind of program is very much a conveyor belt model - you either follow their steps, and do them to the satisfaction of the gatekeepers who are managing it, or you aren’t going to transition.  

Gender Affirming Care is portrayed by the anti-trans movement as though it’s a straight line of “social transition -> puberty blockers -> GAHT -> Gender Affirming Surgeries”.  This is not only inaccurate, but it is profoundly misleading.

The core principle of the model is the second word of the name: “Affirmation”.  This literally means you affirm the person as they are presenting themselves to you. If they tell you that they feel feminine (or masculine) you accept that statement at face value.  In other words, you meet the person where they are at that time.  That doesn’t mean that you blindly start making treatment decisions based on that - especially if the person before you is a child.  

There are all kinds of principles at play here, but one of them is careful observation.  You don’t tell the person that you “don’t believe them” - implicitly or explicitly.  Instead, you monitor over several visits while you gather background.  Each time you meet with them you meet them where they are. Your job is to monitor for consistency (or inconsistency), to check in with how they are feeling as they take steps on their path.  

BUT, there’s a big point here:  the person making the changes is who decides what steps they are willing to take.  Nobody else gets to dictate that.  That means if they start saying “hey, this isn’t feeling right”, or “I’m feeling really anxious now”, then it’s important to spend time processing with them what they are experiencing.  For some, that may be nothing more than “stumbling over a tree root on the path”, for others, it might be an indicator that it’s time to turn off the path they are on.  You process with the person, meeting them where they are at, and you help them make their best decision at that time.  

When matters like medical interventions such as puberty blockers, or GAHT come up, it’s really important to discuss the implications frankly with the individual and their parents (at least when we are dealing with youth).  I disagree that the youth is somehow “unable to form consent” here based on their age.  By the time puberty is beginning, the individual is capable of understanding a lot - claiming that they can’t possibly understand what they are doing not only infantilizes them, but it denies them agency at a time when that agency is critical.  Yes, parents have to consent as well for obvious reasons, but it’s also important to gather consent from the child.  If the child says “I’m not sure I’m ready for that”, or “I don’t understand”, something along those lines, then of course caution is needed.  Such is the complexity of consent.

Likewise with GAHT, open and frank discussions need to be had because the implications of GAHT are enormous.  Again, consent matters here.  Consent has to be formed appropriately with the individual.  Going from puberty blockers to GAHT isn’t “automatic”.  Some will decide to step away, others will not. Again, the decision here has to belong to the person making the changes, and nobody else.  

The principle I am describing is really the notion of a non-judgmental space where the person can be heard - more or less the core of Rogers’ Client Centred Therapy.  

Critics try to portray the process as some kind of forced progression, when the reality is that the progression is being put in the hands of the person transitioning, and the role of the caregiving team is to help the person along THEIR path, wherever it may lead.  Human development is rarely a straight line, and for transgender people - especially youth - it unquestionably is not a straight line.  As adults, our job is to ensure that they have a stable, loving environment that doesn’t question the steps that they choose to take. 

For the most part, the “doubters” like Dr Levine strike me as having lost sight of the big picture, and they are getting hung up on hypotheticals instead of enabling people to make their best possible lives. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

I Get Comments

So, apparently people who have made careers out of attacking trans people (and trans women in particular) are "unfailingly polite", and it's trans people who are being unreasonable (apparently).

Let's put something in perspective here - people like Riley Gaines, Kelly-Jay Keen, and "Billboard Chris" make quite a living running around attacking trans women on a daily basis.  Most of them have built up huge social media platforms through notoriety, and they get heard as a result.  

It wouldn't be contentious if these people were working from a position of actual honesty and discourse.  They aren't.  For the most part, they engage in rage farming.  The language used is that of moral absolutes, the framing presupposes that trans women are basically what used to be called "peeping toms", or that they are rapists looking to get closer to their victims, anything that would naturally ramp up a fear response.  

Are they engaging in direct violence against trans women?  The answer here is "yes, they are".  Violence can be done through both words and deeds.  The harm of violence happens regardless of whether it is physical or mental abuse that happens - we know this from the psychological study of trauma and abuse.  

But, as has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years, the words of these people can inspire others to act against the target group.  On Twitter, the account "Libs of TikTok" has been associated with anything from direct violence against individuals to bomb threats made against schools targeted by the account's owner.  There's a term for this - "Stochastic Terrorism".  Stochastic terrorism is quite literally provoking others to engage in violence. 

They love to characterize trans women as "hulkingly huge" (most aren't), of being "violent" (again, seriously?), of being sexual predators (also false in the large), of being "a danger to women" (a claim without merit), of "grooming children" (because they can't understand that trans adults were once trans children, even if they didn't have the language for it), and so on.  All of these claims lack objective merit, but they make wonderful slogans.  

So, when the trans community (and allies) comes out in numbers to challenge these people, I would argue that it is absolutely understandable that people are going to be angry - the violence has been ongoing for months and years, and these people are at the centre of it.  Demands that trans women be excluded from public life are not invitations to "sit down and have a cuppa and a chat" - they are quite the opposite. 

You asked, I provided. The violence is being done over and over, on a daily basis by these people and their followers.  If you think that's an example of "male violence", you're completely missing the picture. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

About That "Angry, Violent Trans Woman" Thing

Back in the comments here, one of this blogs semi-regular, anonymous TERF-y commenters claims that transgender women are "often violent" based on a single news story

The backstory here is apparently one Riley Gaines was scheduled to speak at San Francisco State University (SFSU), and was allegedly assaulted / held hostage or something by a group of transgender activists.  Our commenter seems to think that this is evidence that transgender women are generally violent and angry people.  

But just who is Riley Gaines?  Well, it turns out that Riley Gaines was one of the people who had a major grade temper tantrum after Lia Thomas tied with her for 5th place in a competition.  Since then, she has made quite a career for herself advocating against the inclusion of trans women in sport.  Arguably, she has become quite a darling of the political far right.  A quick peek at her posts on X (formerly Twitter) shows a predictable amount of anti-trans rhetoric that ranges from amplifying every possible story about trans athletes to the common, if annoying, accusations that transgender women are pedophiles (no, I'm not going to link to that trash).  

So, let's take that in for a moment.  Someone who makes a career running around the country attacking transgender women encountered a protest by ... transgender people who are upset with her.  You're completely shocked, I'm sure.

Now, I wasn't there, so I can't say whether or not Ms. Gaines version of the story (which seems to be the only one I can find) is objectively accurate.  That's not really my issue here.  That's a protest by a group of people being directly affected by Ms. Gaines' advocacy.  It's in her interests to amplify and exaggerate what happened to her while ignoring the very direct role her advocacy plays in setting that stage.  

Having been on the receiving end of the kind violent threats that come out of the anti-transgender activism that people like Ms. Gaines has been engaging in, I don't exactly see her as blameless.  The transgender community as a whole sees what is going on, and is reacting to it.  

Does that make violent an accurate descriptor for the transgender community as a whole?  No. It clearly does not.  

The claim that trans women are "often violent" is part of the TERF/Gender Critical narrative that transgender women are actually men.  It exists in the same sense that the notion that transgender people as a whole are "pedophiles".  Objectively, such claims are false, and they really exist as part of a campaign of dehumanization.  In the world of people like Riley Gaines and her supporters, it's valuable to argue that transgender women (in particular) are somehow intrinsically dangerous to women.

Dehumanizing language like "you're not really a woman", or worse, is ultimately eliminationist rhetoric - it is the language used by those who want to eliminate others from public life.  It is always wrong, and it is always based on deliberately sown misinformation. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

About Alberta's Proposed Ban On Trans Athletes

Among the heartless and cruel things that Danielle Smith announced in her "policy package" about parental rights (anti-transgender policy, really), was an absolute ban on transgender women competing in sports in Alberta. The rationale being that somehow "transgender women have massive advantages in athletics", and somehow that having transgender women playing in women's leagues creates a "danger" to women. 

But, more seriously, does this make any sense from a policy perspective?

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Collapse Of The American Empire

The United States is giving us a real-time view into the collapse of an empire.  The 2024 election cycle will determine whether the final failures happen quickly (and soon), or if there will be a slower series of failings that will eventually render the current American Republic neutered. 

Precisely when the collapse begins is a matter of opinion.  I think arguments can be made that point to either the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the election of George W. Bush in 2000, and the election of Donald Trump in 2016.  I don’t intend to spend this post making and evaluating those arguments.  Suffice it to say that each of those elections resulted in governments that played a significant role in setting the stage for where we are today.

Where are things today?  Well … we live in an era where evidence based decision making has been supplanted by conspiracy theories and often outright lies.  Conspiracy theories and their proponents are no longer the disheveled guy roaming the streets muttering to themselves. Instead, they are widely disseminated.  News media - the so called “fourth estate of democracy” - is dominated by commercial partisan interests.  

Then there is the political discourse.  What used to be a discussion from different perspectives which could eventually converge on some kind of middle ground has become a polarized “us versus them” war zone.  Trust has been destroyed on both sides of the partisan aisle.  People in the legislatures don’t see each other as colleagues, they see each other as rivals.  

Then we come to the leadership candidates. The United States has come to be governed primarily by old, white, men.  Look at the two candidates running in 2024.  We have an incumbent who is over 80 today, and his rival is well into his 70s. Seriously - when did the US presidency become a geritocracy?  Surely there are hundreds, if not thousands of potential candidates who are a good 20-30 years younger around, yet the parties are coalescing around two people who should be looking to retire and enjoy their last years? I’m not saying that older people don’t have things to contribute, but seriously, there comes a time to step aside and let younger people lead.  

Instead, we have a cult built around the utterly insane ravings of Donald Trump, and well - I’m not entirely sure about Biden - he’s basically “not Trump” in this race.  That’s how bad it is. 
From a “direction of the government” we literally have either “status quo”, or “burn it all to the ground” (the latter driven by conspiracy theories and wild rhetoric to whip up a mob).  There is no “middle ground” here.  Trump convinced his followers that the 2020 election was “stolen from him”, and that the entire apparatus of government is corrupted.  Biden has to find ways to fight that, and I have no idea what that’s going to look like. 

There’s basically 3 possible outcomes for the 2024 election:  

1). Biden wins a narrow victory again.

In this scenario,  I think you will see Trump ramp up the “electoral fraud” rhetoric to his followers.  We’ll see another round of unrest coming up to Biden being inaugurated into his second term.  It will be messy, but ultimately sets the US on a slower path to the collapse of the Republic.  It is possible that during that time, the Democrats will be able to groom a decent successor to Biden who isn’t in their 70s or 80s.  If they do not, then whatever is leading the GOP after 2024 is going to win in 2028.  

2). One of the two contenders dies or is incapacitated during the campaign

Age is a nasty thing this way.  Both candidates are of an age where any number of things could render them unable to finish the campaign, effectively handing a free win to their challenger.  It’s a rare occurrence, but given the ages of the contenders this time, one we have to be prepared to consider.  

3).  Trump Wins

This is the scenario that is far more likely to collapse the Republic very quickly, and in fact is the scenario I will spend most of this post writing about. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

About That "Car Theft Problem"

So, in the last few days, much virtual ink has been spilled by the press and conservative politicians about Canada's "car theft problem".  I'm not going to spend a ton of time analyzing it, but I do want to point out a few things on the matter. 

Conservatives always jump to "tougher penalties", and sadly, our justice minister seems to be following suit (presumably to shut Poilievre up by taking a card out of his hand).  Tougher penalties is easy politics, but frankly has nothing to do with any kind of deterrent effect.  At most, you're basically going to round up a handful of street level operatives who are stealing cars - but they aren't the real problem. 

The real problem here is organized crime.  This isn't a "steal a car for a joyride" thing, this is a big business, with a sophisticated supply chain for acquiring cars, shipping them overseas, and reselling them as luxury goods.  Same thing with illicit drugs on our streets - the problem isn't the drugs on the streets, it's the criminal organizations who make, distribute, and ultimately sell this shit. 

You want to bring this to its knees?  Go after the high level criminals.  Those old enough to remember the cops going after "Mafia" in the 1970s and later will recall that those investigations took a long time to bear fruit.  It involved getting people into the organization, or recruiting informants, and then spending years gathering the evidence needed to take down the people in control.

That's what we need to do again.  Only this time it isn't the "Italian Crime Family" that needs to be dismantled, it's a criminal enterprise that is far more sophisticated.  International cooperation will be essential to chasing these people down, because I guarantee you that most of what is in Canada are low to mid-level players.  The captains of these underground businesses are elsewhere. 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Let's Talk About Protecting Children

The ostensible reason for the UCP government's recently announced bundle of policies around transgender youth (actually, all trans people - but we'll come back to that) is to "protect children".  I'm going to speak to this from a professional and therapeutic perspective, because I have relevant training and experience in that regard. 

First, let's consider what it means to "protect" someone else's interests - to safeguard them.  The approach being taken by the UCP seems to be more about preventing the individual from making decisions for themselves, apparently on the basis that you "can't possibly understand the consequences unless you're an adult".  This clearly misrepresents the idea of safeguarding, and ultimately robs the individual of autonomy.  

The UCP's approach basically is based on the old nuclear family concept that the parents, siblings, and relatives magically "know what's best" for the child.  This is reflected in Smith's statements, as well as in the bizarre "mandatory notification" model being imposed on schools.  However, again, this model ignores the person most affected by these decisions - the child.  It's no longer given to them the opportunity to say "no, I'm not comfortable with notifying my parents right now".

And this is where the entire policy construct shows us its wrong-headedness.

Monday, February 05, 2024

About That Consultation Thing

I'm sure that we all heard Premier Smith claim that she has consulted widely on the draconian anti-transgender policies that she announced last week.  

Now it starts to come out exactly whom she consulted with - and surprise, surprise, it's not exactly a group of people well-qualified to help guide the development of government policy on a topic like transgender youth.  

Let's take a closer look, shall we? 

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Alberta's Proposed Trans Policy

It's been 3 days since Premier Danielle Smith dropped a bomb on Alberta's transgender community, and I'm still reeling.  I'm alternating between being angry with the government, and grieving for the youth that will be most deeply affected by these policies

Before I dive into a deeper analysis of what Premier Smith announced, and my thoughts about it, I just want to say to my readers who are not themselves transgender, and may be looking at this as "well, this seems reasonable":  Ask yourself how you would feel if your access to treatment, social validity, and activities were arbitrarily legislated away?  Because that's exactly what's being done to transgender people (not just youth) here. 

Now, onwards into the policy bundle that Premier Smith announced on Wednesday.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

A Muddled Mess

So, this past week, Federal Court justice Mosley issued a ruling on a group of cases attacking the Federal Government's use of the Emergencies Act as somehow illegal/unconstitutional/whatever.

Let me start off by saying that I've read a good number of rulings from Canadian judges, and usually they're pretty readable.  This is not one of them.  In fact it is shockingly unclear in so many respects. In other words, to be utterly charitable, it feels like the judge had a horribly unclear picture of the evidence before him and that is reflected in the utterly muddled outcome. 
Let's start with the end where we get a clear statement from the justice as to how muddled his thinking really is. 

Collective Punishment

So, apparently the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza had some number of its staff involved in the October 7 attack on Israel.  This has resulted in numerous countries halting funding of UNRWA.  The best estimates I can find are that somewhere in the range of a dozen employees of UNRWA are involved.  That’s 12 people - in an organization of thousands, just in Gaza.

There’s a problem here.  The problem is that this amounts to little more than collective punishment. I know that Israel takes the position that anyone near or around someone who had anything to do with the October 7 attacks must be Hamas-aligned.  

In some ways, this is a variation on the “Nazi Bar” analogy, which basically postulates that if you don’t deal immediately and aggressively with Nazis in your bar, you will end up with a Nazi bar in fairly short order.  Israel is essentially arguing that anyone within 10’ of a Hamas supporter is Hamas, and therefore UNRWA is Hamas.  

The problem with the approach being taken in Gaza, and with UNRWA is this:  It isn’t dealing with holding the offenders responsible for their actions, it is in fact holding everyone in the room responsible for their actions.  Returning to the Nazi Bar idea for a moment, it’s as if we have a single Nazi in the bar, so we blow the whole bar up immediately without regard for the other patrons in the bar.  Is the couple sitting at a table having a quiet conversation a pair of Nazis?  No - we have a patron in the bar that is a Nazi, and by blowing up the whole establishment, we are engaging in collective punishment.  

In fact, Israel’s whole approach to the current situation in Gaza demonstrates a collective punishment approach.  They have systematically levelled infrastructure in Gaza regardless of whether it is explicitly Hamas militant or civilian housing.  In essence, Israel has said “we’re going to carpet bomb Gaza into the Stone Age”, and clearly has no interest in distinguishing between Hamas militants and civilian residents.  Sadly, this approach will do little except harden people against each other further, lending further internal justification to the hard line approach taken on both sides of this conflict.  

Let’s say the current focus on UNRWA ends up dismantling the organization for a moment.  What does that accomplish besides making life that much worse for the Palestinian people already marginalized and abused under Israel’s bombardment of Gaza?  Does it solve anything at all?

Now, before anybody starts “yabutting” at me about what Hamas did on October 7, 2023 as justification, let me be abundantly clear here:  What Hamas did on that day was wrong for many of the same reasons that what Israel’s government is doing in Gaza is wrong.  When it comes to this conflict, we can trace it back centuries, and longer - and I assure you that neither side has a lock on “right”.  The simple fact of the matter is that collective punishment for any wrong is never successful.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

It's A Confession

In the wake of Rachel Notley stepping down as leader of the Alberta NDP,  the geniuses over at National Post decided to publish an "opinion" piece that tries to lay all of Alberta's political problems at her feet

Besides being partisan drivel, it's interesting to go through this particular example because it's so revealing of the rhetorical acrobatics that the writer engages in to twist things to suit his particular worldview. 

First, wearing a watch - any watch - is not a statement about someone's politics and policies.  If that's your evidence for her being "woke", and "ideological", it's pretty slim pickings.  Calling a leader whose government operated to the political right of where Peter Lougheed sat "ideological" and "Marxist" is more of a confession of how far to the extreme right today's conservatism has slid since Grant Notley was alive. 

Uh yeah - here's the thing about that.  Oil patch executives ASKED for Tzeporah German to be part of the panel.  So, if that was a "provocation", it was only a "provocation" to Alberta's political conservatives.  Considering the hundreds of thousands that the UCP has thrown at people who have led their various faux-consultation panels since 2019, the $20,000 or so that Tzeporah Berman took home seems like a pittance. 

Ah yes, the requisite whine about Bill 6 - and misrepresentation of it Bill 6 that the conservatives have used as a bludgeon since day one to rile up rural Alberta followers.  Bill 6 was intended to address one key thing about farming:  workplace injuries.  Period.  Alberta is decades behind other provinces in recognizing that farm workers are disproportionately affected by workplace injuries, and leaves those workers without any kind of coverage for recovery.  The claim is made that this is about "families" - it's not.  The family farm is a cutesy little myth that conservatives trot out when it's convenient, but then they ignore the "corporate factory farm" model that dominates today's agricultural world.  A world where the people working the land are employees, and unlike other heavy industries, those employees have between few and no protections if working conditions are unsafe. 

So, yeah, real divisive there.  The divisiveness was sown by, and fed, by the conservatives who jumped on it to spread fear among rural Albertans that the government was coming to take away their lifestyle.  

That was a scorched earth campaign?  Wow - did you pay attention to the 4 year long rage campaign that Kenney and the nascent UCP conducted starting in 2015?  The one where everything the NDP ever said or did was attacked no matter what it was?  

Yeah, I don't think the divisiveness was the NDP here.  Again, the conservatives chose the path of anger, rage, and fear mongering.  Alberta sees the consequences of this every day, whether it is the regular outbursts from the idiot Convoy organizers, or the closed arrogance of a UCP government that has chosen a "burn it all down" approach to governing. 

Alberta spent decades voting as if it were some kind of political monolith.  That wasn't democracy - it was single party rule, and that party got pretty rotten over the years.  It took decades for Albertans to even notice.  Healthy democracy lives not by unity of ideas, but by a willingness to see the ideas that differ from your own as valid and worthy.  Conservatives have eschewed that in Canada, becoming increasingly insular and closed-door, only saying what they think will get them elected in public. Other approaches to politics and governance are sneered at and derided.  

The UCP is moving to isolate Alberta from the rest of Canada, against the wishes of the vast majority of its population on matters like the CPP.  And we're supposed to believe that somehow or another this is all about Rachel Notley?  Wow. 

For National Post and its writers to claim that "it's the NDP's fault" is laughably silly.  

Destabilizing The Middle East / Persian Gulf

By now, it should be clear that there is a significant effort in progress to destabilize the Middle East / Persian Gulf region.  The current round arguably starts with the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.  It escalated with Houthi militants attacking shipping through the Persian Gulf in response to Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Then this past week, Iran started engaging in missile attacks on neighbours including Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria.  Iran’s direct engagement is interesting here because to this point, they’ve been acting as a proxy power providing resources to the Houthis, Hezbollah, and Hamas.  

To this point, Iran has been playing more of a role of providing supplies and logistics support to the various groups, and yet here we have the country directly engaging with attacks on 3 countries - one of which, Syria - is adjacent to Israel in terms of weapon range.  

Given that Israel has a track record of extraterritorial attacks on perceived enemies, Iran may be sending a message to Israel in particular that it too can reach across borders with its weapons.  Essentially making itself “a bigger threat” to discourage Israel or the US from engaging with targets in Iran directly.  

However, we cannot ignore the connections between Iran and Russia.  Iran has been supplying drones (and likely other weapons) to Russia in support of Russia’s war in Ukraine.  Sanctions have driven Russia, Iran, and China together as a political and trading bloc, and I suspect that there is more than a small amount of co-operation between them on foreign policy.  

Of the Persian powers, Iran has enjoyed a relatively lengthy period of being unmolested by either its neighbours or international powers.  That means it has been able to build up its military infrastructure considerably, including manufacturing as well as  building up direct military muscle.  It must feel that it is in a position where more direct engagement in conflict is sustainable.

Clearly, conflict in the Middle East is beneficial to Russia’s interests as it takes attention away from their actions in Ukraine, and it also serves to divert resources away from NATO.  Putin has long railed against NATO expansion, but he knows that Western economies depend on stable shipping through the Suez Canal and Persian Gulf.  Further, he also knows that Western powers are politically committed to ensuring Israel’s existence.  Therefore, conflict in the region is advantageous to Russia’s interests on multiple fronts.

However, Iran isn’t a mindless puppet subservient to Putin’s whims.  Iran’s leadership must see some advantage here.  Certainly, war against Israel is a potential unifying force among the states dominated by Islam.  So, why drop missiles on its neighbours?  I surmise that part of this is to establish dominance.  It sends out a clear message that while Iran’s weapons can reach Israel, that also means they can reach into the borders of potential allies should they attempt some kind of treachery.  

Iran likely has designs on becoming a dominant regional power.  It certainly has significant resources with which to accomplish that, and becoming the local arms supplier in the region brings a lot of political influence.  Its existing alliances with Russia and China are important here, as between them, they form a massive bloc of influence that spans across Asia, through the Middle East and into Africa.  

With Western influence in the Middle East waning, and political threats to the solidarity of NATO becoming a major part of the upcoming elections cycle in the United States, this “Eastern Axis of Influence” could easily become a major world power bloc.  

War in the Middle East could serve as an opportunity for this bloc of countries to become the “broker” with dominant control of the region.  The likely scenario that could unfold here would be another Arab-Israeli war, only on a much larger scale than previous wars.  That war serves a dual purpose - it will unquestionably fuck up shipping through the Red Sea (far more than the Houthis have done already), creating enormous economic pressures in the West, and it creates an opportunity for Moscow, Beijing and Tehran to come together to broker a “peace plan”.  

In the West, we like to believe that “economic sanctions” and the threat of NATO can hold Russia (and others) in check.  However, the balance of power in the world is shifting, and I’m not sure that remains the case for much longer - especially if a war in the Middle East takes hold. 

Monday, January 08, 2024

It's Not Always Conspiracy Theory Thinking

For a very long time, I have believed that the political right wing, and the religious far right in particular is far more politically organized and well-funded than most of us would like to believe.  Back in 2010, Marci McDonald published a book called "The Armageddon Factor".  It's a bit dated in 2024, but it laid out the connections between the Harper-led CPC and a range of far right actors, both in Canada and the United States - mostly with an orientation towards "Socially Conservative (SoCon)" issues.  That book alone provides a significant basis for asserting that there is a significant far right organization that continues to fund and campaign for a range of policy and legislative initiatives.  

It often seems a bit like it's "conspiracy theory" level thinking to assert that there is in fact a large, well-funded network of far right actors.  Then someone like Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) writes a document like this with receipts:  Group Dynamics and Division of Labor Within The Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Network.  

I recognize most of the names mentioned in this document, and I have encountered them in the past. Just about every anti-trans trope that I've heard in the last few years originates with one or more groups in this document.  It's no surprise on that front.  What I'd like to see from here is a document drawing out the connections between Canadian groups and the groups in this document.

Here's where this isn't a conspiracy theory - we have actual evidence connecting these various organizations together here, as well as evidence of a funding network.  It's one thing to imagine a conspiracy, it's another altogether to have a fairly solid research effort that draws out the connections in depth.   

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Speaking of False Premises

Back in the comments over here, we have quite a doozy of a comment that warrants a more detailed response, because there are underlying assumptions and beliefs that are encompassed that range from misguided to flat out wrong.  

Wow - where to begin with this?  Let’s start with long standing campaigns to erase transgender people from society.  Those range from accusing the transgender community at large of being “groomers” (coded slang for pedophiles), to denying them access to public washroom facilities, and a plethora of laws being tabled which are clearly designed to all but ban transgender people from accessing needed health care, or even basics like the right to exist peacefully in their communities (and it’s in the order of hundreds of these laws in the US, and other countries like the UK and Canada have similar campaigns but the scope of them isn’t as ridiculously huge for a number of reasons).

Discrimination is an ongoing problem for the transgender community, resulting in everything from being excluded socially to under-employment.  Laws like Canada’s C-16 are helpful in setting the tone and providing guidance to the courts, but they are a long ways from addressing the underlying societal prejudices.  It’s stunning how much discrimination and hatred is claimed in the name of people’s “deeply held religious beliefs” (something I argue is used as a shield for holding “views” that are otherwise reprehensible, especially in the context of what their religion preaches on other matters).  

At its core, the most fundamental of rights - that of being able to move through society without facing a constant barrage of hostility, discrimination, and hatred - is routinely denied to transgender people (and transgender women in particular).  There are clearly those who would round all transgender women up and lock them away in camps (and yes, I’ve seen musings on the part of US anti-trans activists along those lines).

The accusation that “transgender people are lying about their sex” is one of the oldest canards in the anti-transgender arsenal, and it’s based on a deeply misguided understanding of what being transgender means.  In an ultimate irony, it’s rooted in a deeply misogynistic belief about women in general.  The idea of trans women as “deceivers” has long been a staple of attempted defences in court cases ranging from rape to murder.  If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s based on the same false premise as the argument that “because a woman was dressed a particular way, she was “leading the man on” - it’s a variation of the Madonna/Whore paradox. One might call the transgender equivalent of this the Woman/Drag Queen paradox.   Anti-transgender misogyny is still misogyny at its core, and it takes on many of the same tropes as a result. 

Which leads us into what our commenter calls “the weeds” of the sex versus gender issue. Except it’s not “the weeds” at all, because it’s a point that is deeply central to the experience of being transgender.  Going back to Harry Benjamin’s works on the matter, we find a fairly consistent pattern of transgender people saying (in essence) that their inner experience of their bodies and their experiences socially are deeply discordant with their overall person.  They see themselves one way, but they experience a social environment based on their body which they often cannot relate to at all. 

Allow me a bit of a sidebar discussion here of the relationship between the body and social roles: 

One feature of transgender narratives that is important to understand is the understanding that the body and social roles in our society are deeply intertwined.  That is to say that being a woman in society has both physiological as well as social components.  Likewise, so does “being a man”.  

Some of those components are biologically essential - the ability to bear children is often cited as an example, yet at the same time we also know that just because a person can bear children doesn’t necessarily mean that they are psychologically inclined towards the kind of nurturing and caregiving that is intrinsic to being a mother (it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily abusive, just that they have no interest in being a parent - tragically this is sometimes only discovered after the birth of a child).  

However, there is an entire social sphere that exists associated with the general idea of being a “woman”, and that covers a wide range of factors, ranging from social connections to how one is interacted with in public settings.  The concepts of manhood or womanhood have multiple facets, and it is important to recognize that a lot of it is social, not intrinsically biological in nature. Transgender people are acutely aware of this kind of distinction, and they take many difficult steps in life in order to fit in to the social context that feels more natural to them. 

Which brings me to the issue around “trans women are women”.  The class “woman” in our society has both physical and social / emotional components.  At their core, the transgender woman is a feminine person who happens to start off with a male physical body.  So, the statement our commenter makes about “transgender women are feminine” is in some respects correct.  But - society as a whole has this binary conceptualization that we have “men” and “women”, and frankly a “feminine man” is in for a very rough life at the hands of the other “men” in society.  From a social perspective in particular, the statement “trans women are women” is quite true.  

That brings me to matters of sex denominators on public identification documents.  There are a whole host of reasons why it’s important for transgender people to be able to change those documents.  Putting a transgender woman into the male lockup after an arrest is basically setting the person up for a violent assault or worse (yeah - we know damn well that assault and sexual assault is a thing in men’s prisons - we’ll come back to that in a bit).  Similarly, sending a transgender man into the ladies’ changing room isn’t exactly setting things up for a successful outcome either.  Here, the social aspects of “man” and “woman” often prevail over the physical aspects of their bodies.  

Although I don’t agree entirely with Ann Fausto-Sterling, her book “Sexing the Body” is a fairly decent exploration of the complex interactions between the physical and social aspects involved here.  Similarly, from a more transgender feminist perspective, Julia Seranno’s “Whipping Girl” explores more of the complex subject.

What about “women-only” public spaces (locker rooms, washrooms, etc)?  On this subject, I see it as a matter of individual judgment and behaviour.  Transgender women have been using “the ladies’ room” for a lot longer than the current anti-trans panic has been around, and for the most part there simply hasn’t been a problem.  

Sure, many salacious headlines are written when a transgender person _DOES_ step out of bounds and engages in anything from voyeurism to sexual assault in these contexts, but let’s be realistic here - it’s not a common occurrence. As with other forms of transgression where an individual’s actions become harmful to others, we deal with them individually.  We do not engage in “class punishment” by attacking the entirety of a group because of the actions of individuals.  

To wit - “Holy Transphobia, Batman!”.  This is a stereotype - and stereotypes like this are profoundly misguided.  I’ve been around the transgender community for a very long time, and while I would say that among transgender women, there is often a point in their transition that they make some questionable fashion choices, the proverbial “loud bearded woman” thing you’re describing here is little more than a caricature and quite distant from any objective reality.  Let’s try having a real conversation about what transition looks like, and what it means to not be a social asshole to others. 

First, transition is a process, and people have to learn sometime, somehow.  Most transgender women make a sincere effort to fit into the world of women as unobtrusively as possible.  Yes, there are a few who engage in something called “Gender Fuck” - which is what you may be describing - but they are rare, and usually only do that after becoming frustrated with some of the dumbfuckery that they are exposed to on a daily basis doing routine things like grocery shopping.  Is every transgender person going to be 5’2”, 100lbs and “passing pretty” - hell no, but then again, women in general comes in a huge range of body types, so what?  

As for “freedom of association”, “freedom of belief”, etc.  Nobody is asking you to “associate” with that person.  If you see them in the washroom or changing room, just leave them alone.  It’s not hard.  You can associate with whomever you like, you can believe whatever you wish about them - I doubt they particularly care.  If you start projecting your beliefs onto them, by, for example, using masculine pronouns and they tell you that’s not appropriate, how hard is it to back off and use whatever pronouns they tell you to use?  It’s called common courtesy.  If someone uses a nickname and you hate nicknames, do you not tell that person “please don’t do that”?  

Most of what this talks about, I’ve already addressed earlier.  However, it is revealing of several assumptions which need to be examined more specifically.  

First is the idea of “sex-based” here.  I’ve already discussed how “man” and “woman” are as much social roles as they are rooted in the physical body. The bugaboo here seems to be the mere idea that someone in the “ladies” might possibly possess a penis.  When we are talking about washroom facilities, the room marked “ladies” is all but universally individual stalls.  So, it’s difficult to understand how a transgender woman using a stall is any more of a threat than any other woman, regardless of whether they have undergone genital surgery or not. Someone trying to peer over, or under a stall is engaging in inappropriate conduct regardless of their genitalia.  As I previously noted about the issue of sexual assaults, we have to recognize that those happen, but to engage in collective punishment / restriction of a population because of the actions of one or two individuals is simply repugnant.  

The second part of your claims rests upon the general idea that “some sexual predators will claim to be transgender to gain access to prey”.  I’m not going to argue that there are no sexual predators in the transgender community - such a claim is trivially refuted.  However, such overlaps are rare and it’s going to be even more rare for an actual predator to “dress up as the prey”.  The reason for this is fairly simple: most sexual predators are engaging a power and violence motivated behaviour, and it is highly unlikely that they will “dress up as their prey” because that would be symbolically emasculating themselves.

Further, I would like to point out to you that women in general are not above committing sexual assault either. The research on this is still fairly sparse, but consider the following exploration of the subject in women’s prison facilities.

The long and short of my point here is that even those who are assigned female at birth (AFAB), and are raised in the appropriate gender role are not above being sexual predators either. I would argue that someone who is transgender, and has been socialized in their chosen gender role is unlikely to be any more of a danger.  

Someone possessing a penis, or having possessed a penis in the past, does not make them intrinsically a threat.  If that was the case, we would have locked men away from women entirely decades ago.  But it’s similarly inappropriate to say that a transgender woman is a “man” because socially and emotionally, they ARE NOT (and your own argument earlier seems to recognize this).  Further, such suppositions make no sense when we are talking about those who have undergone surgeries, yet these broad stereotyping approaches attack all transgender people regardless of their individual realities. 

I would go so far as to suggest that you have likely interacted with transgender women in a wide range of contexts, including “sexed spaces”, and not even realized it, much less having had some catastrophic event occur as a result. Using individual events without evidence of there being a wider problem in the transgender community is disingenuous and suggests that you are falling into believing stereotypes that have no more validity than those which were used to justify segregation in the US, and Apartheid in South Africa. 

Monday, January 01, 2024

When An Argument Starts From A False Premise ...

This essay came up on my Twitter feed this morning.  Titled "In Defence of Gender", it's a lengthy piece of writing which attempts to justify taking a "both sides" approach to the current uproar over transgender rights - or perhaps I should say, inclusion of transgender women in society - because that's what a lot of it boils down to.  The essay was apparently published in March, 2023 - I was unable to address it at the time because I was caught up in issues related to the current efforts to push transgender women out of society (that's another story, for another day) - I will write my piece on it eventually. 

My objection to the opening paragraph should be clear enough to long time readers.  It's not a zero-sum argument when one side is accusing transgender women of being a myriad of things that cast them in the light of being an immediate danger to others.  When one side of an argument is literally engaging in eliminationist rhetoric, that isn't a "both sides" moment.  That's a "whoa - on what basis do you make that claim" moment.  We've seen this script before, and it's fucking messy. 

There's two things here I want to address.  First is this bizarre idea that "anybody who is uncomfortable with their body must be trans".  This isn't a thing. No mental health professional would ever do that, much less make a diagnosis that the person is transgender based on it.  This is one of many problems with what the author calls "Gender Critical political analysis" - it starts from false premises which have no basis in reality.  In fact, the entire construct of what Gender Critical (GC) writers call "Gender Ideology" is basically a form of straw man where they have created it, and dumped all of their anxieties about transgender people into it. 

Second is the idea that "biological sex is real, gender is a fiction".  Again, this comes largely out of the GC conceptualization of "Gender Ideology".  Early TERF writers often would rely on a very incorrect interpret of Judith Butler's early 1990's book "Gender Trouble" (among other feminist theorists).  They misinterpreted Butler's analysis, and they continue to do so now.  Butler's view is more correctly understood as there are social and psychological dimensions to gender roles that are external to the "gendered body" of the individual.  Part of the confusion is that the terms "gender" and "sex" are often used as synonyms for each other, and the reality is quite different.

Butler was talking about the social constructs that are built around a person's sex - the ideas of what it means to be a "man" or a "woman".  Womanhood in particular in Western cultures is built up around a combination of physical attributes as well as social expectations associated with, for example, the ability to produce children.  However, the idea that "gender is performative" created a somewhat problematic division that people still struggle with.  What aspects of "womanhood" are "intrinsic" to a female body, and what aspects are social constructs?  For example, not all women who bear children turn out to be willing or good mothers.  

Butler's model provokes us to ask what are the valid limits on what men or women should behave like in social contexts.  It does not make the claim that "gender is a fiction", nor do transgender people.  Transgender people do provoke a lot of very uncomfortable questions about exactly what those boundaries really look like.  

Here we come to the point where the writer starts commingling issues to arrive at a "thorny problem".  She asserts "When vulnerable women's safety is at stake ..., we cannot simply take everyone at their word when they assert that they too belong in those spaces".  Are transgender women not subject to sexual assault? Further, this also assumes that women do not engage in sexual assault.  She then goes on to argue (in essence) that because there is no clear "gatekeeping" on who is a valid transgender person, it is too easy for male predators to "cosplay being trans" to gain access to victims.  

There's a fundamental problem for this argument.  Sexual predators generally do not "cosplay their victims to gain access" - that would be symbolically emasculating themselves.  Sexual predators are engaging in a power and violence game, and cosplay would be humiliating to them.  (I'm generalizing here - I know there are exceptions).  

The problem here is one of generalization.  To assert that because "some" transgender persons are sexual predators, that all transgender women must be excluded from "vulnerable spaces" is effectively engaging in a form of class punishment.  It is also offensively reductionist, ultimately turning into an argument that it is the penis (or imagined penis) that makes a person a threat.

Further, in spite of transgender people being significantly more visible in the last 15 years, the fact is that transgender women have been using "vulnerable female spaces" for many decades without any actual problems - a fact that many anti-transgender activists completely ignore. 

The writer goes on to opine on the treatment options for transgender people - and transgender youth in particular.  

I will simply point out here that based on her bio alone, Dr. Italia is completely unqualified to provide any such commentary.  Maybe leave that subject to people who have actual expertise, because your arguments here are basically "yes, let's traumatize more transgender people by making them suffer through a puberty that might just render them suicidal".  

Ah yes, deadnaming.  Here's the thing, if I tell you my name, I expect you to use it.  I don't expect you to go digging up something from my past and then use that to invalidate what I am writing today.  That's the critical piece here.  Changing one's name doesn't erase personal history, nor does it change who a person is today.  It's a name, not a definition.  

Let's be clear about how the GC world uses deadnaming.  It's a weapon.  They use it to silence and invalidate the voices of trans people.  It isn't used in "good faith" (in fact, it can't be).  You want to know why it gets blowback?  Because it's disingenuous and always used to prop up an otherwise unsustainable argument.  

Even here, where the author seemingly starts to moderate her stance a bit, she has to attempt to dismiss neuroscience.  Neuroscience is hardly "embryonic" these days, and arguably hasn't been in that state for a good 20 years or more.  There is a sizeable body of research showing the results she so easily dismisses.  

Speaking of ignoring science, here we go again.  Her interpretation here is hugely problematic because it essentially makes an effort to dismiss the existence of intersex people in the understanding of bodily sex.  This is hugely problematic, especially in light of the neuroscience evidence she referred to (and ignored) earlier. 

A more correct understanding of bodily sex is to think of it as a bimodal distribution, one with major peaks at the male and female ends of the spectrum, and a small number of people in between for a variety of reasons. Further, understanding that within the concept of gender identity there are also those who experience themselves as neither "man" nor "woman" per se, but rather fall somewhere in between, lends more credibility to the findings in the neuroscience domain as well.  

And here again, we have the author demonstrating how little she grasps of the scientific research around gender identity.  There's a compelling reason that Blanchard's model has not been adopted - it fails entirely to explain anything more than a tiny sliver of the transgender community.  Lengthy criticisms of the "autogynephilia hypothesis" have been published elsewhere - all I am going to say is that none of the papers I have seen supporting autogynephilia are particularly persuasive either in their arguments or in the data provided.  At this point, I view it as basically junk science that deserves to be in the same bin as Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.

The GC world is engaging in an attempt at erasure - elimination, if you prefer.  They have fabricated a mythology of what it means to be transgender, and then they have turned the community into a collection of what they perceive to be monsters and extremists.  You cannot "both sides" this argument, not when one side is literally attacking a minority population with falsehoods, misinformation and bogus "theories".  There is no "debate" here - the GC world has argued for restrictions based on imagined hazards, rather than showing that there is an actual threat. 

Fundamentally, the argument for accepting transgender people as members of society is simple:  Transgender people exist, and they have existed far longer than most of today's wave of anti-transgender politicking has.  There is simply no compelling reason that your fears about transgender people are a valid justification for exclusion. Work through your own damn insecurities, because the trans community has already done their own work on that front. 

The Cass Review and the WPATH SOC

The Cass Review draws some astonishing conclusions about the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) . More or less, the basic upshot of the Cass Rev...